Monday, November 18, 2019

Pizza Won Tons

These Pizza Won Tons are the easiest pizza pockets you'll ever make - and theyre just as variable as your standard pie. Get the kids involved making these too and your after school snack team is locked down!

Photo by Laura R.
I'm hard pressed to find a child who does not like pizza in some way, shape or form. In my five years teaching Home Economics, the highlight of each school year has been making something "pizza-like". Nothing has been such a hit as these turnovers - full of gooey cheese and sauce while being deceptively simple, quick to make and absolutely delicious.

I'm also a huge fan of kids being self sufficient, and while these won tons are tasty, they are also ridiculously simplistic in design - even though the recipe calls for "making your own" pizza sauce. In fact the recipe is so easy to whip up that even my Grade 1's are able to make it start to finish without my help (except with the oven). The crunch of the dumpling wrapper after being baked in the oven contrasts with the goo in the middle, and these are even great room temperature - the week or so after we make them in class, I see more than one student pull them out at noon! While I keep my version simple for classes, these are also super variable - minced pepperoni, ham, mushrooms and peppers all work in these too as long as the bits are small.


Of course, just because these are a huge hit with "my" kids doesn't mean grownups don't love them too - a batch of these were brought along to my very first date with N and enjoyed immensely (the saying about the way to a man's heart is true!), and both my parents have gladly taken care of leftovers too. For game days, movie nights or even just friends coming over for drinks, these are a perfect accompaniment - and since everything freezes well, make a double batch, bake and freeze before reheating gently at go time!


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Caramelized Spiced Apples

Caramelized Apples are a warming treat any time of day and combine the rich flavours of butter, cinnamon and raw sugar. The trick is to bloom the cinnamon in salted butter before adding the sugar and fruit - way more developed notes in the spice and the apple chunks get fully coated.


While there may be snow on the ground and sub-zero temperatures outside, it is still officially Fall, and that means that for now our local orchards are still selling the last of this years crop at decent prices. I was actually inspired to make these after making apple squares with my Home Ec classes - the kids were stealing the spiced apples out of the bowl (not that I blame them) and were asking if we could make "just the apples". I haven't had sauteed apples in a dog's age, so they immediately found themselves on my to-do list!

Of course, I brought my somewhat more updated knowledge of cooking to the proverbial table when making them this time, as opposed to my child years where "baked apples" and the like were done in the microwave without butter at all. This time, I played on what I learned about blooming spices in curry and cooked the cinnamon in the butter first, allowing it to infuse before getting the caramel and finally apples going. Secondly, I took my time with the cooking, allowing the apples to cook through but keep their shape and the syrup to reduce to a caramel sauce consistency. The possibilities for these were endless - mom snagged a scoop to put on her oatmeal this morning while I packed some into turnovers and an apple crumble too. They keep for a decent time in the fridge but I wouldn't recommend freezing them unless your aim is applesauce - which given the ingredients going on wouldn't be a bad thing at all!


Saturday, November 9, 2019

Seeded Oatmeal Apple Loaf

Can't you just imagine biting into this crusty, seed coated loaf of Seeded Oatmeal Apple Loaf? Made with a dose of sourdough starter and shredded apples for a sweet tang, the low rising loaf is perfect for smearing with peanut butter for breakfast.


With the blustery winds and snow outside courtesy of this week's weather, I felt like there was no better reason to get into the kitchen and bake my favourite thing - bread. It helps that mom is a bread-lover (or is it fanatic?) since I haven't eaten "real" bread in over a decade, and her weekly request allows me to be as creative as I care to be! This time I was inspired by a recipe that appeared in my feed reader using not only the Fall flavours of apples and oats but a favourite ingredient in my house - sourdough. With a bushel of local apples in our cold cellar begging for a use (other than the ubiquitous apple pies and squares mom creates each season), I pilfered a few and got to work!

This recipe is not a true sourdough - as in it uses yeast for a leavening boost. The sourdough does add a wonderful tang to offset the nuttiness of the seeds and oats and the sweetness of the apples, although not an obtrusive one (I love straight sourdough, but I wanted the other flavours here). The seed crust is, in my opinion, the best part of this recipe as it adds a great crunchy texture to the moist crumb and leaves "bits" to pick off the cutting board when you slice it! The loaf has a high hydration due to the apple, soaked oats, sourdough and extra water, so it does not rise overly tall - when I make this again I'm going to try putting it in a springform pan to see if I can get some height. However, the low rise does have one side benefit - a long slice is just wide enough to fit perfectly in your mouth, bruschetta-style! So load up your slices, toasted or not, with slices of Cheddar (a la Canadian apple pie) or peanut butter and honey (mom's favourite) and enjoy!


Saturday, November 2, 2019

Apple Butter Gingerbread

Apple Butter Gingerbread is not too sweet, definitely spicy and when topped with honey butter (or apple butter!) A delicious tea time treat.


I have a love / hate relationship with Fall. On one hand, cold and I never get along - from the beginning of October until the end of April (at least) you'll find me bundled up in sweaters, coats, scarves and hats, cursing the weather and lamenting my poor Raynaud's-afflicted digits. On the other hand, I love the variety of colours outside and the smells of heartier, spicier cooking and baking that come with the blustery weather (especially if I'm cooking, because I'm inside!).

Of course, Fall also brings the produce of the season, and around here apples are everywhere! While Mom whips up more pies than I can count with her bushels, I tend to make a few crisps before cooking the rest into sweet, sticky apple butter. The apple butter is my spread of the season - rich, thick and spreadable, it's less sweet than jam and more versatile than applesauce but with a caramel note you can't beat. After the one requisite pie that I make (shh...I loathe making pastry), the rest is portioned and frozen for later use, including spice cakes like this one.

It's no secret that I am a fan of spices, and at my workplace ginger always reigns supreme. This snack cake combines a variety of fall flavours in each bite - from the apple butter to the nutty flax and spelt, the warming spices and rich brown sugar and maple. The resulting bake isn't overly sweet, which in my book makes it A-OK for breakfast (right?) or as a light dessert with a drizzle of maple syrup or even a small scoop of ice cream. I personally love to warm it up as well and serve it with our local apple cider!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Almost Grandma's Mashed Potatoes

Almost Grandma's Mashed Potatoes are rich, creamy and decadent - perfect for your holiday meal. Baking the tureen ensures a delectable crust to pick at too!


I have a 100% soft spot for my grandma's mashed potatoes. In fact, if I could only eat one holiday food the rest of my life, it would be them. Baked in one of her earthenware tureens, the sight of the slightly crusty-topped spud smade my heart sing - and underneath the coveted top layer was some of the most decadent, silky mash I've ever had in my life. Over the years, it was extremely common for half my dinner plate to be heaped with them, no gravy necessary.

Ironically, it was only after decadence (at least in my traditional understanding of it) left my diet that I started to really try and nail down my grandma's recipe. Being the family heirloom (and "secret recipe") that it was, there was no written copy to be found anywhere, and when I asked my grandma she gave me the list of ingredients but no amounts or method, so after many cookbook and Google searches I cobbled together a recipe for our Canadian Thanksgiving this year and gave it a whirl.

The outcome was shockingly - and I mean shockingly - similar to the original, and dare I say it may even be slightly better (shh!). The potatoes had a perfectly smooth mash without the need for a ricer or fancy tool and each scoop was a perfect golden colour thanks to the cheese and Yukon Golds I used. My whole family (including N and my sister's boyfriend D) raved about them and took home leftovers, which were polished off within a day. While they are absolutely not a weeknight mashed potato (or one for dieters!) for the holidays, these shout "home" to me and will definitely be the start of a new, old tradition.