walnut, white chocolate & cherry cookies

These cookies hit the spot! Sweet, a little nutty, a hint of sour, and crispy on the outside with a chewy centre. I have made them in the past sans walnuts, but I think the walnuts add good texture and another layer of flavour to the cookies. If you are going nut-free, of course eliminate the walnuts (making it school-safe too). #Piepie and #boss will be so delighted to try these this afternoon!

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perfect with your coffee or tea, or a giant class of milk!

prep: 15 min    bake: 10-12 min    yield: 24 cookies

what you need:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped white chocolate discs
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts *optional

what to do:

  1. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325 F convection (or     350 F regular baking).
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and beat until smooth.
  3. In another bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and beat just until everything is mixed.
  4. Add cherries, chocolate, and walnuts into the mixture. Mix just until evenly incorporated. (Do not over mix cookie dough!)
  5. Drop spoonfuls of dough (about 6-8 per sheet) onto cookie sheets. The size I used were just slightly smaller than a golf ball.
  6. Bake in the middle rack for 10 min then check, it really depends on your oven. (And if you have a convection oven and you’re using it…you really have to play around for the first batch because I burnt the bottom of my first tray of cookies. Convection ovens cook faster and it’s great but it takes some time to get used to it!).
  7. Remove once the cookies are slightly golden brown, it’s okay if they are a little soft in the middle (better slightly underdone than overdone).
  8. Once they have rested a few minutes on the sheet, they will be cool enough to transfer onto a cooking rack. Enjoy!IMG_3872.JPG
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carrot & apple slaw

Remember my post about having lots and lots of carrots…well this is another great way to use them!  I am pretty sure this is going to become a summer staple in our household. We had it alongside BBQ ribs and chicken at the cottage over the long weekend.  It’s a fresh and light bite against the smokey meat.

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sweet and tangy

And it’s easy for the kids to eat because it’s not too hard to chew and the apples provide an inviting sweetness. Be sure to make lots of extra vinaigrette so that you can keep it available in your fridge for other salads!

prep time: 15 min        yield: serves 6

what you need:

  • 4 large carrots
  • 2 apples (firmer variety, like gala)
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 small handful cilantro *optional

apple cider vinaigrette (we like it pretty tangy – if you think it’s too acidic, add 1 tsp of oil at a time to adjust):

  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil (or light tasting oil)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • squeeze of lemon *optional

what to do:

  1. Mix vinaigrette ingredients together in a mason jar and shake well.
  2. Wash and peel carrots and apples. (I left the skin on the apples)
  3. Grate carrots and apples.
  4. Wash green onion and cilantro, chop finely.
  5. In a large bowl, toss together carrots, apples, green onions and cilantro. Dress lightly and toss to coat everything.  Taste, and add more dressing if needed. Rest for 10 minutes or so before serving. Enjoy!

heavenly icing

This is currently my favourite icing. It’s CRAZY good. And all you need is eggs, water and brown sugar. It’s light yet creamy, sweet but not cloying, and it holds it’s volume/shape. There is no butter or cream in it! It’s crazy good. Yup I said it twice!

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perfect for cake layers

The recipe came from a client of mine – we were chatting about her Easter weekend and she mentioned that she made a chocolate cake with boiled icing. I had to stop her and ask, what is boiled icing?! She said it was a recipe that was given to her from a sister in law’s mother in law (thank you, whoever you are!). As she described it (boiling sugar with water, adding it to stiff peak egg whites) – I just couldn’t quite imagine it! So I had to try it; and boy am I glad I did. I made it for my brother’s 30th birthday and it was loved by all. My mom usually scrapes off the icing when she eats cake but she didn’t this time! It has a pillowy marshmallow like texture and is very spreadable and holds it’s form really well. I left it out at room temperature for the whole day on the cake before serving! And it was fine the next day too. I used to make buttercream icing all the time for cupcakes and cakes, but I am definitely going to be using this one more often now because it’s not as heavy and tastes heavenly.

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on vanilla cake

You might be concerned about the egg whites being raw…I thought about this too. However, the sugar is really really hot when you add it to the egg whites. I think the heat must cook them and stabilize them, because it really doesn’t lose volume at all.

what you need:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 egg whites

what to do:

  1. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  2. In a pot on medium heat, boil sugar and water until it is thickened and “threads”. Not quite as thick as caramel but just before it turns to that. Use a wooden spoon to spoon the sugar mixture – it is ready when it isn’t running off the spoon quickly. This will take about 12 minutes but keep an eye on it so that your sugar doesn’t burn.
  3. Slowly add the hot sugar (be careful it’s super hot!) to the eggs whites while continuously beating them on medium speed. Beat for another 5 minutes or so, until the mixture is firm enough to spread. Enjoy!
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    hot sugar drizzling into egg whites

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    ready to spread

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    layered

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    the best part!

carrot soup kissed with ginger & turmeric

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mild ginger warmth balances out the sweetness of the carrots

What do you do with the most ridiculously humongous bag of carrots from Costco? (I can hear a few family members and friends snickering as they read this! Before I moved back to Ottawa, Kanata I had sworn I would never get a membership)

Make carrot soup! It’s so good.

My friend was over for a playdate and brought over some curried carrot soup she made – so bright, beautiful and healthy! And the sweetness from the carrots make it very kid-friendly. We had soup and sandwiches for lunch, a classic combo.

Here is my version of it!

what you need:

  • 5 large carrots
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 small cooking onion
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • some chicken bones (I used 5 drumsticks worth of bones)
    • this is optional!
  • 6 cups of water (or you can use veggie stock or chicken stock)
  • cooking oil (I use grape seed oil)

what to do:

  1. Wash and peel carrots. Roughly chop into chunks.
  2. Peel onion and garlic, roughly chop.
  3. In a large pot on medium heat, add 2 tbsp cooking oil, then chopped onions, garlic, and ginger. Stir until fragrant, and onions are slightly translucent.
  4. Add turmeric and curry powder, toasting the spices until the aromas come out.
  5. Add chopped carrots, stirring as much as you can to allow the carrot pieces to meet the heat. Add water and then turn the heat up to high.
  6. Bring to a boil then add chicken bones. Bring to a boil again then once it boils, turn it down to medium low to simmer for about 45 minutes. *If you are not using bones, just turn the heat down from boil the first time to simmer.
  7. Remove chicken bones and then once the soup is not scalding hot, use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. *If you don’t have an immersion blender, be sure to wait until the soup is cooled enough to add to a blender.
  8. Enjoy!IMG_3049.JPG

homemade potato chips

 

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baked potato chips

One of piepie’s favourite foods is mashed potatoes. I rarely buy white potatoes but when I did this time it was a big bag (…oh Costco…) so I had all these potatoes. I decided to treat the kids after school one day with baked homemade potato chips. They are definitely a labour of love but totally worth it.

what you need:

  • 2 medium potatoes (I used yukon gold)
  • cooking oil (I used grape seed oil)
  • sea salt

what to do:

  1. Wash and peel potatoes.
  2. Using a mandolin on it’s lowest setting (1/16″ if possible) – carefully thinly slice potato into rounds. If you don’t have a mandolin, you can use a knife to thinly slice the potatoes but you will probably end up with thicker slices than I did, therefore your bake time will be longer.
  3. Soak potato slices in a large bowl of cold water. This step is important to release the starches, so that you get a crispier chip.
  4. Lay out paper towels and place potato slices on the paper towel (one layer) and then layer paper towel on top – you want them to be as dry as possible.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F convection. If you don’t have convection, use 425 F.
  6. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and lay potato slices (one layer) to fill the sheet. Lightly drizzle oil over potatoes, and use a brush to evenly coat surface of potato slices. Flip them over to do the same on both sides.
  7. Lightly salt the tops of the potato slices.
  8. Bake in the middle rack for about 4-5 minutes, checking frequently (especially if they are super thin) to ensure they aren’t burning! Once the edges are slightly browned, take the cookie sheet out and flip each potato slice.
  9. Put it back in the oven for about 2 minutes or so. Remove once golden brown.
  10. Place them onto a plate lined with paper towel, then transfer to serving dish. Enjoy! (they won’t last very long)

classic blueberry pancakes with a touch of vanilla & cinnamon

 

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happy weekend!

Sometimes, a good stack of pancakes just hits the spot. A big favourite in our house is cottage cheese pancakes, which we make all the time, even on weekdays because they are so quick and easy (and healthier). But on the weekends we’ve been experimenting a bit with a more traditional style (fluffy & light) and these ones have been tested on friends and our kids many times.  One thing that’s cool about them is that you can have your kids mix it – it doesn’t need to be perfect, in fact over mixed pancake batter makes them dense. They are relatively easy to make and most likely you will have the ingredients in your pantry.  You could even measure out the dry ingredients and multiply it a few times to create your own pancake mix (don’t buy the boxed stuff!) and just add the wet ingredients whenever you want pancakes!

what you need:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • butter for cooking
  • blueberries (we used frozen wild ones)

what to do:

  1. Combine milk and vinegar, stir, and let it sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Combine dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs with vanilla, beating until a little bit frothy/more volume (about 2-3 minutes, doesn’t have to be exact).
  4. Add milk mixture – whisk lightly to combine.
  5. Add dry ingredients and whisk a few times, just to get rid of big lumps of flour. Do not over mix!
  6. Let the batter sit for at least 5 minutes, so that the baking powder does it’s work.
  7. In a non stick pan or griddle on medium heat, add butter for frying (about 1 tsp per batch or so).
  8. Ladle batter into buttered pan to cook pancakes, as big as you wish.
  9. Top with some blueberries (about 1 tbsp or so per pancake).
  10. Once the edges slightly change in colour and there are bubbles on top, it should be ready to flip.
  11. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown as well. Enjoy!
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    piepie & boss love helping

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    taking turns with the whisk is key to no fighting…

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    enjoy!

baked spring rolls

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healthy version of everyone’s favourite

Everyone loves a spring roll, and that’s no exception at our house.  I was a little worried about these getting too dry and hard in the oven but they actually turned out really well – still crunchy on the outside with a tender flavourful filling.  It is not as crispy as a deep fried spring roll and the wrapper takes on a slight chewiness, but I think it’s pleasant and the kids loved it.  These are surprisingly easy to make and much less messy baked because there is no grease splatter, plus your house won’t have that deep fried smell lingering after they are made.

You can easily make this vegetarian by eliminating the chicken. I made a few using grated smoked firm tofu and it was delicious as well!

prep: 30 min    bake: 10-12 min    yield: ~12 rolls

what you need:

  • 1 package egg roll or spring roll wrappers (square shaped, in the refrigerated section)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked (leftovers are great for this)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, finely grated
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

what to do:

  1. Prepare all the veggies by washing them thoroughly. Drain the bean sprouts and lay them on a dry tea towel or paper towel to make sure they are dry. Peel and finely grate carrot. Roughly chop cilantro. Thinly slice up green onions.
  2. In a large bowl, combine veggies and add grated ginger, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.DSC_0945.JPG
  3. Shred the chicken breast with your fingers (like pulled chicken) to somewhat match the length and size of carrots and  bean sprouts. Toss everything together in the large bowl. This is your spring roll filling.
  4. In a small bowl, beat an egg with 1 tbsp water to loosen mixture.
  5. Grab your wrappers and a clean working surface. Dip two fingers into egg wash and trace it along the outside of the square wrapper. Place filling in the wrapper, towards you (about 1/3 of the way) – then fold up the left and right sides, then from the end closer to you, fold tightly over the filling and continue rolling until spring roll is formed. If you can see the filling this is incorrect! You want to make sure it is sealed so that when it bakes the juices of the filling don’t escape (and if you are deep frying them, oil will absorb into the spring roll).
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    my board was a bit orange from grating the carrots…

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    wrap and roll tightly

  6. Lie spring rolls seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Brush tops lightly with melted butter.
  8. Bake at 425 F for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown on the outside. Serve with your favourite plum sauce or honey. Enjoy!

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    sillies dipped theirs in honey