Thursday, December 5, 2019

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Asiago Chese

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine. And, as usual, I will only write about products that I really love! 

Last night I caught the tail end of Mr. Bean's Christmas. You know the one. He ends up with the turkey on his head and hilarity ensues. When I run into one of the long ago Christmas specials like Mr. Bean, or A Charlie Brown Christmas I feel all warm and fuzzy inside, or maybe it's just the wine or maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic. This is nostalgia's prime time though, no? It seeps in from all sorts of crevices - like when you unpack your boxes of ornaments, and there's a Christmas card from 1999 tucked in, from an old friend you haven't seen in as long. Or when you hear "River" and have to sit down because it gets you every time. It doesn't take much these days to momentarily transport you back to another Christmas; another life.     

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Fall Flavours: Spiced Apple Pie with Lattice Crust

I was asked by Carusele to participate in this campaign, sponsored by Splenda Stevia Canada. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.

There are still a few days *officially left in summer, but I'm crushing on fall super hard already. The leaves are turning gorgeous yellows and oranges, and on my morning walk today I even kicked up a few just because I can. I love the smell of fall: earthy and melancholic. Summer had its time to shine, and now it's all about getting ready for the stillness of the colder months. And with the colder months, it means my oven is on all the time, full of roast chickens and vegetables, stews and braises, and pies, oh the pies! First one out of the gate is a special pie, made with Splenda® Stevia No Calorie Sweetener.

Someone close to me is majorly cutting back their sugar intake and has requested that I bake them something that they can indulge in at all the fall festivities, like Thanksgiving. Perhaps you're in the same boat too, where someone special who'll be sitting at your dining table this fall can't eat as much sugar as the rest of us, but doesn't want to feel left out or excluded by a sugary sweet dessert. As a host, and a professional baker, I feel it's important to meet people where they're at on the sugar scale, and if this means I forgo sugar and bake with Splenda Stevia once in awhile, I'm totally okay with that. 

Splenda Stevia gets its sweetness from the stevia leaf and is sourced from the sweeter, cleaner-tasting part of the stevia leaf so there is no bitter aftertaste. Combined with apples freshly picked from my friend Kim's tree, and loads of warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom, the pie tasted super good, like all of my other pies. Seeing the smile on my loved one's face as they savoured a slice meant the world to me. Splenda Stevia really is a sweet way to reduce sugar in your favourite foods without sacrificing taste. 

For the apple pie filling, instead of sugar I used Splenda Stevia Sweetener, Granulated, a new product recently released. It's cool in that you can use it cup-for-cup with sugar. So, I usually add about 1/2 cup sugar into my apple pie filling, and for this recipe I used 1/2 cup Splenda Stevia Sweetener, Granulated instead. Kim's apples were on the tart side, and overall I was really happy with the sweetness here. If you like a sweeter pie, you could add up to 2/3 cup of Splenda Stevia. 

Baking a pie doesn’t have to be perfect. Once you take the pressure off yourself, it’s amazing what can happen. Also, don’t be intimidated by the lattice crust. It’s just pieces of pastry woven together, like a basket. If you go under instead of over, don’t fret. You’ve made a pie! I love how the bottom crust is folded over the lattice edges to give a rustic look. It also traps the juices, keeping all that loveliness inside the pie instead of on the bottom of your oven, which we don't want. 

As the apple pie baked away in the afternoon, my house smelled amazing. As I pulled the apple pie from my oven I breathed in the scent, and was so happy to see the juices bubbling and the lattice crust golden brown and glorious. The hardest part was waiting for the pie to cool so we could taste a slice, but the wait was worth it. Full of spiced apple flavour, with a hint of vanilla and lemon, the pie pleasantly tasted of fall, with no bitter aftertaste usually associated with stevia.  As the days get cooler and cozier, I know there'll be more pies and other baked goods coming out of my oven. It's good to know that if I have to bake for someone who doesn't eat that much sugar, I have an excellent ingredient such as Splenda Stevia to rely on. Happy fall baking, all! 

Spiced Apple Pie with Lattice Crust

3 pounds baking apples, peeled and cored
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup - 2/3 cup Splenda Stevia Sweetener, Granulated 
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp each ground cloves, nutmeg and cardamom
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 discs of pastry, enough for a deep-dish pie 
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water

1. Toss together the sliced apples, lemon juice, Splenda Stevia, flour, spices and vanilla in a large bowl. 
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc of pastry into a 13-inch circle, or thereabouts. Place it in the bottom of a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate, with the pastry overhanging the edges of the pie plate. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry in another 14-inch circle for the top crust. Use a ruler to guide you when cutting the pastry into 8-9 long strips to keep the edges straight. Save the 2 end pieces in case you need to do any patching. I like wide strips, but if you like a thinner look, feel free to cut thin strips of pastry. Weave the pastry strips, going over and under, making sure they connect with the edges of the pie crust, which I've moistened with egg wash. Fold over the edges of the bottom crust, tucking in the lattice ends. This will help to trap the juices and give a rustic look.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake it for about 90 minutes, until it’s golden brown and bubbling. Remove the pie from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Grilled Sausages with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Sauerkraut

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine. And, as usual, I will only write about products that I really love! 

And just like that I'm writing on the second last day of August. Seems like only yesterday we were  brushing off our patio furniture and planning what we wanted to plant in the garden. Now I'm wearing woolly socks in the house and turning on the lights much sooner. The fans, which came in handy for the few heat waves we had this summer, are now collecting dust and have to be put away this weekend. Yep, summer is darn near over, and I hope it was a good one for all of you. Mine had moments that were super good, and not so good, and if I'm being honest, I'm kinda ready for the new start that fall always seems to hold. But first, one must send summer away with a last hurrah, and with that hurrah always comes excellent food, right? 

Friday, August 9, 2019

Smokin' Hot: Grilled Corn & Black Bean Salad with Pepperoni

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine. And, as usual, I will only write about products that I really love! 

Those mid-August days are creeping up on us, and while it's easy to think that in a few weeks summer will be winding down, I'm firmly planted in the here and now. There are still so many things I want to do before the nights get cooler and the leaves start turning yellow. Road trips! Picnics! Backyard barbecue feasts! These are the days that need to be sucked of all their marrow. Go out there and live your best late-summer life! And bring snacks!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Summer Perfection: Pear & Prosciutto Flatbreads with Brie

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated financially by California Bartlett Pears. All thoughts and opinions about these pears are my own.

My love for pears runs deep. It always has and always will. Pears whisper their flavour, rather than shout it from the rooftops like the stone fruits currently having their moment. Pears are the underdogs of the fruit world, and I kind of love them for that. Their subtle sweetness is still something I crave in this season of peaches and cherries. The pear, to me, is the perfect fruit. I love the shape, the scent and the sweetness. In fact, if I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be that of a pear, somewhere. Pears are what I remember eating as a kid while riding with my mom in the grain truck, as my dad was combining the fields of wheat on our Saskatchewan farm. Pears are what a really cute boy I used to work with many, many years ago would bring me as a token of his fondness. Things didn't work out with the boy, but my fondness for pears lives on.  Funny thing how one sniff takes you back to when you were 5 or 25. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tiki Time: Barbecued Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Pineapple

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine. And, as usual, I will only write about products that I really love! 

Raise your hand if you've eaten a hot dog this summer. Of course you have. Now, have you had one wrapped in bacon, grilled until it's perfectly crispy, slathered in barbecue sauce, and snug in a bun with grilled pineapple and diced red onion? If you haven't, then you've come to the right place for a little tiki-inspired hot dog! This recipe is the third installment of my partnership with Grimm's Fine Foods this summer, and I'm so pleased I get to bring you the very best ideas on how to use their excellent products. They are always gluten, lactose and soy free, with no MSG added and contain no fillers or sketchy bi-products. And, they are made in Canada! Grimm's uses a trusted family recipe for the European Wieners and they start with selecting premium cuts of pork and beef and blending them together with the perfect amount of spices & seasonings. It doesn't get better than that. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sweet and Spicy: Pepperoni Pizza with Basil and Honey

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine. And, as usual, I will only write about products that I really love! 

You guys. I just made the best pizza. I know, I know, we all think we make the best pizza, but this really is the tops. I mean, just look at it! The golden, chewy, whole wheat crust, saucy sauce, basil pesto, loads of mozzarella - fresh and shredded, thinly sliced jalapeno pepper, heaps of pepperoni, fresh basil leaves that I grew myself, and a good drizzle of honey. If you like your pizza with a bit of heat and sweet, then this recipe is for you. It's the second installment for my partnership with Grimm's Fine Foods this summer, and I'm so pleased I get to bring you the very best ideas on how to use their excellent products. They are always gluten, lactose and soy free, with no MSG added and contain no fillers or sketchy bi-products. And, they are made in Canada!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Get Ready: Banh Mi All Beef Smokies

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine. And, as usual, I will only write about products that I really love! 

Those coveted summer days are finally upon us and I couldn't be happier! Oh how lovely it is to just sit in the sun, feeling the warmth on my face, lighting me up from the inside out. I can't believe how it's already the middle of June, and there are only a few months of these glorious days ahead of us. Time, it goes. So, promise me that you'll make these next few months the best ever, okay? Eat things that make you happy. Get outside and do something that makes you sweat. Travel places you've always wanted to go but never had time. Make the time. You won't regret it. Invite your pals over for food off the grill. Drink cold drinks. Tell stories until the stars come out.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Come for Tea: Ginger & Orange Drop Tea Biscuits

It's Victoria Day here in Canada, and with the long weekend comes the unofficial start to summer. Some of us are camping (or glamping!), or hitting the garden centres, or digging in the dirt, or kicking back and seeing that new Avengers movie. I slide to the more lazy side of the equation, which involved a getting up way past the time I usually get up, making lemon ricotta pancakes for my guy and I, sitting outside in the sun with my second cup of coffee, watching my cats eat grass and chase bugs. It's been a good day, so far. Like many of you, I'm hustling all the time. When a day presents itself with no immediate work to do, I almost don't know what to do. I think regular folks call these "days off", but for someone who has work hustles and side hustles and all the hustles, taking a little time to sit in the sun and watch robins dance in the bird bath is a glorious way to spend a few hours of the day.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Peanut Butter Cookies and Birthdays

"Keep your face to the sun and you will never see shadows."
~ Helen Keller 

In the past week, my cookbook turned two years old, and I crept over to the dark side of 50 by celebrating my 46th birthday. Both are terrific achievements, to be sure. I love how I'm still getting emails from people buying my cookbook, and baking from it. Your messages are true inspiration, and I save every one. Thank you thank you thank you! Those early days of my book baby's release into the world were a crazy mix of emotions, not unlike turning 46. Gratitude, joy, feeling a little overwhelmed, all come to mind. 46 is a no nonsense number. 
The goals are set and there is plenty of stuff I want to do, places I want to go, food I want to eat. You know, the important stuff. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Overnight Sensation: Jan Scott's Faux Sourdough

Well holy doodle. Here I am. Is it me or was this winter just the worst? I mean, really. Here in Saskatoon I think it was the coldest winter since 1930. Extreme cold warnings filled my phone for most of February. I didn't leave the house if I didn't have to, if I'm being totally honest. I hunkered down big time, baking to keep the house warm(er). And then there was that one day when the furnace conked out in the morning and left me with a giant repair bill I wasn't prepared for. Yeah, that was sucky. So was finding out that my sweet Sunny, a senior feline at 10 years old, is diabetic. He's taking the daily insulin injections like a champ, and he and the other cats are finding a new normal when it comes to eating. No longer is the bowl of dry food a free for all, and Sunny is on quite the low carb diet. In just a few weeks, he has improved greatly, and his overall health is better than it has been in awhile. This all makes me happy, though I do fear that every time I inject him with insulin I'll hit a nerve in his neck and he will die. Maybe I'm being a paranoid and neurotic cat mom? It has been a long winter, after all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Raspberry Almond Crumble Bars for a New Year

Greetings of a shiny, new year to you. Yeah, I know it's the middle of January and I should have been on my computer a couple of weeks ago wishing one and all the best of the season. Alas, I was likely cocooning on the couch with a book and a cup of tea, something I'm trying to do more of in this new year. December was a blur of baked goods and work and more work and then I cooked a feast on Christmas Eve and then the big day I stayed in my pyjamas and ate leftovers. It was the best. Binge watched Killing Eve and snacked on all the snacky things. All was calm, all was bright all right.