Monthly Archives: September 2015

Applesauce Muffins

Applesauce Muffins

Can you believe it’s the first day of Autumn?! What happened to September?! It’s not like I didn’t see the warning signs; apples at the market, the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes and the need to wear a cozy sweater in the morning, it’s just that I kept telling myself that it was still summer. I was convinced that everything was just early this year. Apparently I was just late :/

Since it is Autumn, though, and since I found myself with an abundance of fresh picked Honeycrisp apples from the market, I felt a strong urge to make something with them. Applesauce seemed like the best place to start. It’s hard to imagine anything more comforting than the smell of applesauce stewing on the stove. It’s basically Autumn in a pot. Once the sauce was made, I started dreaming of all the ways I could use it. I have a few ideas in mind, but because muffins are a weekly staple at our house, they’re the first thing that the applesauce was added to. They’re easy to make and a deliciously healthy option to quickly throw into my kids lunch bags. I hope you enjoy these Autumn inspired applesauce muffins 🙂

Applesauce:

1 1/2 Cups  sweet apples, peeled, cored and diced (I prefer Honeycrisp or galas)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 Cup water

Simmer over low – medium heat until softened. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher until desired consistency. I like to leave a few chunks in it, but if you prefer a smoother sauce, then go for it. Set aside to cool.

Muffins:

2 Cups whole wheat flour

1/2 Cup sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 egg

1 Cup milk

1 Cup applesauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg until frothy. Add the milk and applesauce and stir until well combined.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour in the applesauce mixture and stir gently until just combined.

Evenly divide the batter between 12 greased muffin cups. Bake for 20 -25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

 

 

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Guacamole Jalapeno Poppers

Guacamole Jalapeno Poppers

Guacamole Jalapeno Poppers

Usually situated next to a bowl of taco chips and salsa, guacamole is often the first dish finished at any party I’ve ever been to. It’s definitely one of my favourites. It’s also one of the few party dishes that, on it’s own, is entirely healthy. The main ingredient alone, avocados, contain nearly 20 essential vitamins and minerals. Although they are high in fat, it’s mostly unsaturated fat (the good kind). Unsaturated fats can actually aid your body in absorbing nutrients from other foods. These healthy fats also help you to feel full longer. Traditionally, guacamole is made by mashing together avocados and sea salt, but once you have the basic recipe down, you can tweak it any number of ways to make your own variation. Here is my go-to recipe:

Guacamole

2 Ripe Avocados from Mexico

1 Lime

1/4 Cup sweet onion, finely diced

1 Garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp fresh cilantro

Salt to taste

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh into a small bowl.  Using a fork or potato masher, mash the avocado with the lime juice, garlic and salt until desired consistency. Gently stir in the onion and cilantro. Chill for 30 minutes before serving. Makes about 2 Cups.

When I talk about avocados, I usually talk about Avocados from Mexico. Why? Because even in Canada, with our cold winters, Avocados from Mexico are always in season. Taking up about 80% of the market share in Canada, the Hass avocados that we all know and love are actually the result of grafting the branches of the Patron avocado plant and the roots of the Criollo avocado plant. Hand grafting these plants can take 3 – 5 years, but after that, each small plant is capable of producing up to 750 lbs of beautiful, creamy avocados.

When I make a batch of guacamole, I’m very happy (I mean, very happy) to sit and devour the entire bowl of it with nothing more than taco chips, but it’s really versatile and can be used to add some extra flavour to a ton of different dishes. One of my favourite ways to use it is as a spread on an egg and bacon breakfast sandwich. It’s also a delicious replacement for mayo in a chicken salad sandwich. In honour of National Guacamole Day, September 16th, and to have a little fun, I thought I’d play around a bit and find other ways to use guacamole. These guacamole jalapeno poppers have quickly become one of my favourites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did 🙂

Guacamole Jalapeno Poppers

12 jalapeno peppers

3/4 cup guacamole

4 oz cream cheese, softened

6 strips of bacon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.

Slice the bacon into 1/2″ strips. Over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Set aside to cool.

Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and ribs. NOTE: When working with any spicy pepper, make sure that you keep your hands away from your eyes and that you don’t have any cuts on your hands. Trust me on this one and, if necessary, wear gloves.

Mix the cream cheese and guacamole together in a small bowl. Add the bacon and gently stir together until evenly distributed. Fill each jalapeno cavity with about 1 tbsp of the mixture. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the peppers are tender and the guacamole mixture is heated through.

 

 

Crab and shrimp mac n’ cheese

 

Crab and shrimp mac n' cheese

The kids are back in school! Whoot whoot! Errr…I mean I’m so sad to see them go 😉

The day before the kids went back to school, we had an impromptu pool party at my father-in-laws house. Impromptu, in that we planned it all the evening before, after fishing for an invitation and promising to bring dinner 🙂 As it turned out, the whole family was able to make it and it turned into a great end of summer/back to school celebration.

My contribution to the event was a crab and shrimp mac n’ cheese. It was a recipe that I had tried making back in the winter, but hadn’t had a chance to perfect or take proper pictures of. Ordinarily, Mac n’cheese wouldn’t be my go-to dish on a hot summer day, but in this case there is a perfectly reasonable explanation. A few days before our last minute get-together, I received a text message from my sister-in-law with a special request:

mac n cheese text

 

Being a devoted mac n’ cheese lover, I completely understood her out-of-nowhere desire to have mac n’ cheese. I did, however, take exception with the blue cheese and kale. Firstly, blue cheese has never been my favourite. I think it’s one of those things that you either love or you hate. I’ve tried it many times and, when it comes to blue cheese, I’m definitely a hater. Secondly, I figure if you’re committed to eating mac n’ cheese, you may as well make it as rich, creamy, deliciously unhealthy as you like. Save the kale for the next day in case you feel a little guilty.

To honour my sister-in-laws request, here is my recipe for crab and shrimp mac n’ cheese. I hope you enjoy it as much as she did 🙂

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 Cup onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp cooking sherry

1 Cup chicken stock

8 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes

1/2 Cup asiago cheese, divided

250g crab meat

250g shrimp

1/2 Cup green onions, sliced

375g macaroni noodles

1 Cup sliced almonds, slightly toasted

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the noodles and cook according to package directions, until they are al dente. Strain and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil together. Add the onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes until just beginning to sweat. Stir in the sherry, allowing a bit of it to cook off, then add in the chicken stock. Bring the stock up to a simmer and begin adding in the cream cheese. Stir or whisk until it’s melted into the sauce and no lumps remain. Next, add 1/4 Cup of the Asiago cheese. Stir until it’s melted into sauce. Finish the sauce by adding in the crab and shrimp and cook until just heated through.

Pour the sauce over the macaroni. Add the green onions and stir gently, then pour the pasta into a 9″x13″ baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Asiago cheese, followed by the almonds.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the dish in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese topping has melted and the almonds have toasted.

 

 

 

 

Bacon corn chowder

Bacon corn chowder

Bacon corn chowder

 

“Mom, how much longer until the corn is ready” asks my 7 year old as we drive by the corn fields. This was back in March, and again in April, and again in May, etc, etc….you get the idea. For all the fun summer brings, it’s the taste of fresh, locally grown corn on the cob that my 7 year old longs for the most. Well, maybe not the most, but certainly the longest. Once corn season arrives, he can’t seem to get enough. We all love fresh corn on the cob, but it’s his, apparently endless, appetite for it that rarely leaves me with any leftovers to work with.

Last week something strange happened…I ended up with 3 beautiful leftover cobs to play with. There was also something else strange happening. After several months of hot, dry, near drought like conditions the skies opened up and the rain started to fall. With cooler, autumn”y” (made up word, but I’m sticking with it) weather appearing out of nowhere and a few cobs of corn in my fridge, it only seemed right to make a chowder. Or chowdah, if you’re like my husband and like to pretend you’re from Boston. Seriously. Every time :/

This bacon corn chowder was the perfect way to warm up on a cold, rainy night. I you enjoy it!

Oh, and one last note: If you’re not a fan of bacon (I promise I won’t judge you), or you wanted to make this a vegetarian friendly chowder, you can easily leave it out. You can also substitute frozen corn if you can’t get your hands on any fresh cobs.

375g package of bacon, sliced into 1/2″ pieces

1 Cup onion, diced

1/2 Cup shallot, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Cup potato, diced

3 Cups chicken broth

2 Cups heavy cream

3 Cups corn (about 3 cobs)

1/4 Cup chives

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Leaving the drippings in the pot, remove the bacon and set aside.

Add the onions, shallots and garlic to the pot. Saute for a few minutes until just starting to sweat. Stir in the potatoes, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Next, stir in the chicken broth, immediately followed by the cream. It’s important to add the cream immediately, before the broth gets too hot, to avoid separation and curdling.

After the broth and cream have been added,  stir in the corn and the reserved bacon. Bring the chowder to a simmer over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking for 10 – 15 minutes until everything is heated through. Garnish with the chives. Serves 4 – 6.

 

 

 

 

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