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Archive for the ‘Dairy Delicious’ Category

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I love Christmas and all the baking and festivities that make the season so joyful. Every year I imagine all of the wonderful treats I’m going to whip up and regardless of the many baking books and clippings I already have stashed away, a new magazine of Christmas baking is always hard to resist.  This year wasn’t any different as I carried home a new, 100 Best Desserts, Special Edition of Best-Loved Recipes from Taste of Home for 2012.

The funny thing is, that after poring over every single page, the very first recipe I opted to make were these decadent Black Bottom Cupcakes that I actually discovered a couple of years ago and simply cannot resist.

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The first time I discovered them, I was looking for something that my youngest son could take to school.  The idea of cupcakes that didn’t require icing was appealing, given that he and not me, would be transporting them. They turned out to be so easy and delicious that I’ve been making them for the holidays ever since.

Chocolate and cream cheese are a delightful combination and these cupcakes are sure to fill any craving you may have during the holidays for a lush, moist, deep chocolate flavoured cupcake paired with a smooth, creamy cheesecake centre.

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The cupcake is made in two parts, first the creamy cheesecake centre followed by the chocolate cupcake batter. The liners are filled 1/3 full of chocolate batter followed by a generous dollop of cream cheese filling. Before adding the dollop of cream cheese filling, however, add a cup of mini chocolate chips to heighten the chocolate factor and add some extra dimension.

Still warm from the oven, the little bits of chocolate are silky and smooth against the rich cream cheese and the moist, almost gooey chocolate cake. I baked these up in some holiday liners I had on hand to give them a festive touch of Christmas holiday cheer. During the holidays, I’ve also been known to add an extra dollop of cherry pie filling on top of the cream cheese before baking, so that they’re almost like a piece of black forest cake when they come out of the oven.

Either way is equally delicious and always a hit with visitors and family alike.

Served up with a cold glass of milk, a mug of hot cocoa or packaged up with a bright red ribbon for a friend, these tasty cupcakes are a nice addition to the holidays or pretty much any day of the year.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Cream Cheese Filling

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup water

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Method

1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt until smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips; set aside.

2. For batter, in a large bowl, combine the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.  Combine remaining ingredients; add to the liquid mixture and mix well (batter is on the thin side).

3. Fill liners 1/3  full with batter and top with a generous dollop of cream cheese filling.

4. Bake at 350 degree F for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake portion comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing to  wire racks to cool completely.

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Have you ever “Googled” Homemade Waffles?

Everything you ever wanted to know about homemade waffles, and at least a million, homemade waffle recipes can be found there.

Between healthy-homemade, scratch, Belgian, buttermilk, buttery, delicious, blueberry, Grandma’s, Dad’s and Aunt Mae’s, it is entirely possible, that this may not be, the best homemade waffle recipe E-V-E-R.

The only thing I know for sure, is that it’s my recipe.  I took it from my 1979 Pillsbury Kitchen’s Family Cookbook, and I’ve used it ever since my boys were little and they would pitter, patter their way to the table in their bare little feet and pajamas. They rubbed their sleepy little eyes and we ate waffles until we were contentedly happy and full. And they were always good.

I can’t help but think homemade waffles are nostalgic.  I associate them with special occasions and late, lazy breakfasts.

Making waffles from scratch, means I’m filling the air with flour, cracking open eggs and messing up my baking bowls.

It means, I’m heating up my waffle iron, chopping fruit and getting my fingers sticky with maple syrup.

Waffles from scratch, mean I want you to grow up healthy, and strong and happy and able to go wherever your heart takes you.

Waffles from scratch, mean I love you.

Very, very much.

Homemade Waffles

Adapted from The Pillsbury Kitchen’s Family Cookbook

Serves 5

Ingredients

2 eggs, separated

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, melted

Method

1. Heat up the waffle iron.

2.  Place egg yolks in a large bowl, and whites in a separate bowl.

3.  Add buttermilk to the egg yolks and beat well.

4.  Add flour, baking powder, soda and salt, beat until smooth.

5. Stir in the melted butter.

6. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; fold into the batter.

7. Bake in hot waffle iron until steaming stops and waffle is a golden brown.

Notes:

I always spray my waffle iron with Pam or brush it with melted butter before adding the batter.

Be careful not to over-fill your waffle iron or the batter will spill over the edges.

It’s a good idea not to stray to far from the waffle iron to avoid scorching.

I always serve waffles with cut up fresh fruits like berries or banana’s for good nutrition.

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Surprised?

I’ll bet you didn’t expect to hear from me this soon.

I’m making up for lost time.

If that’s even possible.

But I’m determined to try, so you can expect to hear a lot more from me this week as I try to fill these pages with some of the most delicious home baking and cooking recipes I’ve made while I was away.

Yes, even though I wasn’t here, I was still heating up the oven and cleaning up the mess.  Our plates were pretty and our tummies were full. Too full, sometimes.  Good food is hard to resist.  Like this blueberry apple cream cheese pie for instance.

It’s a pie I made a while back that I’ve been wanting to share.  It’s scrumptious. Apples and blueberries are covered in a luscious thick layer of cream cheese topping and  a sprinkle of walnuts.  It really is as good as it looks and it takes the humble pie to soaring heights of deliciousness.

Because I love to use fresh, seasonal fruit whenever I bake, Thanksgiving makes the perfect holiday to pass this around the family table, but you really can make and share it any time of the year and you’ll be sure to get some ooohh’s and awwwh’s.

Sprinkled with your favourite nuts, the rich and creamy, cream cheese topping nestles right into the tart apples and sweet blueberries for a beautiful, dramatic and rustic presentation that will impress even your most discerning of guests.

Cream Cheese Apple Blueberry Pie

Adapted from Pillsbury Kitchens’ Family Cookbook

Serves 10

Ingredients

Your favourite single-crust pastry

Apple Filling

6 cups (6 medium) peeled, sliced apples

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cream Cheese Topping

8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but feel free to use your favourite)

Method

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine apples, blueberries, sugar, flour, lemon zest and lemon juice. Toss lightly.

3. Spoon into your prepared pastry-lined pie pan.

4. Combine all cream cheese topping ingredients except the nuts and beat until smooth.

5. Spoon cream cheese topping over the apples and blueberries.  Sprinkle with nuts. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Note: There is a caramel sauce option for this pie that I didn’t try; but it does sound delicious so I’m adding it, just in case you’d like to give it a try.

For this caramel version, omit the blueberries, using just the apples, and make a caramel sauce that gets poured over the apples just before you add the cream cheese topping.

Caramel Sauce

8-ounces (about 28) of caramels

1/2 cup half-and-half or evaporated milk

In a small saucepan, melt caramels in half-and-half on low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth.  While warm, drizzle over the apples before adding the cream cheese topping.

 

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Hi there!

I’ve decided that I’m just going to start where I left off. And that’s with these autumn apple cheddar squares.

I made them in September when people were driving to the country to pick apples on Sunday afternoons, kids were back in school, and us mom’s were trying to come up with new lunch box or after-school snack ideas.

These squares remind me of something my mom used to make … date squares.  Remember those? But instead of dates, the filling is made with apples, a touch of cinnamon, brown sugar and some old cheddar cheese.Yes that’s right.  Cheddar.  As in orange cheese.

Growing up, I remember seeing apple pie served with slices of cheddar cheese and often wondering just what the cheese doing there because, after-all, pie was dessert and well, cheese just wasn’t.

Well, now that I’ve tried these squares, I know that apples, cinnamon and cheese belong together.

Cheddar Apple Squares

Adapted from one of my favourite cookbooks: The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book

Makes 20 squares

Ingredients

4 apples of your choice (Crispin or Golden Delicious are recommended)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cheddar Crust and Crumble

11/2 cups large-flake rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup shredded extra-old Cheddar cheese

Method

1. Grease or line a 9-inch square metal or glass cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Cheddar Crust Crumble

2. In a bowl, whisk together oats, flour, brown sugar and salt.  With a fork, stir in butter until mixture clumps and is crumbly.  Add cheese, tossing to mix.  Press all but 1 cup evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake in centre of a 350 degree oven until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes.  Let cool.

3. Meanwhile, peel, core and cut apples into 1/2-inch  thick slices.  In a skillet or shallow saucepan, bring the apples, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon to a boil, adding up to 1/4 cup of water if the apples stick to the pan.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.

4. Spread apple mixture over the base; sprinkle with remaining oat mixture.  Bake in centre of 350 degree oven until golden, about 30 minutes.  Let cool in pan on rack.

5. Cut into squares.

These squares can be made-ahead wrapped well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

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It’s still August, right??

Phew! That’s good!

I’m relentless when it comes to hanging onto summer and if it’s still August, that means it’s still summer, so kids can still enjoy this great summer treat.

During the summer months, my guys likes to snack on ice cream sandwiches.  Two rectangular chocolate cookies with vanilla ice cream in the middle. We go through a lot of them to say the least.

This Rice Krispie Ice Cream Sandwich, is my version of the ice cream sandwich.

Even though we ate ours plain, coloured sprinkles make these a fun treat to serve kids. The vanilla ice cream was delicious with the Rice Krispies but I’m sure any flavour would be good.

Rice Krispie Ice Cream Sandwiches

All you need is a pan of Rice Krispie Marshmallow Treats, you can find the recipe here.

Cut out large squares, cut them in half evenly and fill with your favourite ice cream (I used vanilla). Dip the sides in sprinkles, chopped peanuts, chocolate shavings, Nerds, mini M&M’s, candy or any of your favourite toppings and enjoy!

Serve immediately or store in a container in the freezer until ready to eat.

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In June I had all kinds of gorgeous, berry delicious recipes picked out to make while strawberries were in season, sadly though life was hectic and I never made it to our local patch this year.

Strawberry picking is a tradition in our family that I’ve always looked forward to. The best part of being in the patch is popping that very first plump, juicy berry into your mouth and tasting that off-the-vine freshness that comes with picking your own. It sure motivates you to get picking and fill that basket so you can bring more of that berry goodness home with you.

Recipes abound for these ruby-red beauties and the possibilities they bring to the table are endless.  One of the ways I’ve been eating them since the spring is in a goat cheese and spinach salad that I truly love.

For this salad, one of the things I really concentrated on, was the dressing. I wanted to come up with something that was light, summer-y, full of good-for-you ingredients and the most important thing – great berry flavour.  Nothing artificial. I wanted to compliment the spinach and goat cheese with a berry-bursting freshness — the same freshness found in berry patches across Ontario.

Each year, I usually make strawberry jam as a way of capturing and enjoying those delicious berries all year-long. One of the jams I make is a no-cook strawberry freezer jam which is basically a mixture of freshly crushed berries, sugar, pectin and lemon juice.  The jam is not cooked but poured directly into jars and kept in the freezer until I need it. Because it doesn’t go through a long cooking process, the jam is bright red, sweet and full of delicious berry flavour.

I had some in the freezer that hadn’t set all that well, so I’d been saving it to serve as a topping over ice cream. Then I thought, what better way to bring that berry-freshness to the dressing than to use my runny strawberry freezer jam. It would work perfectly as a base for a salad dressing.

I added a little olive oil to thin it out, apple cider vinegar and freshly squeezed lemon juice for a little flavour contrast, and some poppy seeds for crunch.  This is now one of our all-time favourite dressings and it has everyone helping themselves to seconds of vitamin-packed spinach and strawberries. It takes just a couple of minutes to put together, and brings one of the freshest tasting dressings right to your table, so you can enjoy summer all year-long.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Serves 6

6 cups spinach, washed

2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered

4 – 5 ounces goat cheese

1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped

Method

1. Wash and dry spinach leaves and remove longs stems if necessary.  Place in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Wash strawberries, remove stems and cut into quarters. Place berries on top of spinach.

3. Crumble goat cheese into bite-size chunks and place on top of berries and spinach followed by the almonds.

4.  Make the dressing.

Perfect Summer Preserve Strawberry Dressing

1/2 cup strawberry freezer jam

1/8 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Method

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir with a whisk for 30 seconds until incorporated or place all the ingredients in a mason jar fitted with a lid and shake for 15 seconds.

Pour over your salad and enjoy!

Any left over dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

If you don’t have strawberry freezer jam, you can easily substitute any favourite strawberry preserves.

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Last we spoke, I told you I was making Rhubarb Honey Yogurt Scones and I told you I’d let you know how they turned out. 

They turned out heavenly.

I wasn’t really trying to keep all of this goodness to myself.  Really, I wasn’t.

I just happened to get busy baking cakes for a few friends and neighbours celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and such.

Oh, and maybe a wedding. Or two.

So I haven’t been able to share these with you until now. But truth be told, they’re worth every minute you’ve waited.

These scones are magically light and fluffy with a zesty sweetness of jammed rhubarb and candied lemons balanced out with a little drizzled honey and a sprinkle of rosemary. 

They bake up tender and biscuit-like, but have the texture of a typical scone and I just love how rustic they look, once baked. 

They’re best served slightly warm and taste just as good without butter or preserves as they do with them.

This is the yogurt and honey dough with the jammed rhubarb folded in.

Gorgeous.

The dough is gathered into a ball on a floured surface, cut into 8 wedges and sprinkled with candied lemon zest and chopped rosemary.

I adapted these scones from a recipe by Joy the Baker for Grapefruit Honey Yogurt Scones, which you can find here

I used Joy’s idea for grapefruit and switched it out with the rhubarb, lemon, and rosemary,which may sound strange, but it really, really, works so you’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

Besides, my middle name is Joy, so you never know, we just may be kindred spirits when it comes to scone flavour combinations.

Rhubarb Honey Yogurt Scones with Lemon and Rosemary

Makes: 8 Scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons honey plus more for drizzling

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1 cup rhubarb, chopped

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup plain yogurt

few sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped fine

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium pot, simmer rhubarb with brown sugar until it thickens into a jam. Set aside.

3. Zest the lemon and rub together with the tablespoon of sugar and set aside.

4. Dice cold butter into small chunks and add to the dry ingredients.  Using a pastry mixer or your fingers and working quickly, break the butter down into the flour mixture until the butter chunks are the size of small peas.  Add the honey, plain yogurt.  Toss together lightly with a fork until all of the dry ingredients are moistened by the yogurt and honey.

5. Next add the jammed rhubarb and fold gently.

6. Turn the scone dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Form into an 8 inch circle, about 1 inch thick. Use a knife or a bench scraper to cut the dough into eight scone triangles.  Place the triangles on the prepared baking sheet.  Generously sprinkle the tops of the scones with the candied lemon zest and chopped rosemary.

7.  Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly gold brown on top and firm but soft in the center.  Drizzle each scone with honey and allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm with butter or jam.  These scones are best served the day they’re made.

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