Food & Drink
Mom's homemade apple pie was always a huge hit in our house. The smell when you walked in was so overwhelmingly delicious. You would instantly crave all things apple and cinnamon.
Emily and I went apple picking a few weeks back, and despite our efforts to get a small bag, we still ended up with way more than the two of us could ever eat. So we decided to recreate a couple family favourites, starting with mom's apple pie. If you're looking for ways to use up some apples, definitely give this one a try!
- 2/3 cup + 2 tbsp. of shortening
- 2 cups of white sugar
- 1 tsp. of salt
- 1/4 + 1/8 cup warm water
1. Cut shortening, flour and salt until chunky
2. Add water, and mold with hands into a ball
3. Roll out on counter until 1/4 inch thick
4. Use half of crust for bottom of pie, half for top
- 5 lbs. of apples, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 1 tsp. of butter
- cinnamon to cover
- dash of nutmeg
1. Line 9 inch pie plate with half of crust
2. Fill pie with sliced apples. They should form a mound in the middle. Add extra apples if needed
3. Place tsp. of butter in the centre of the pie
4. Spread sugar evenly over apples
5. Cover everything with an even layer of cinnamon
6. Sprinkle a dash of nutmeg over cinnamon
7. Cover with remaining pie crust*, and bake at 350˚ for 1 hour, or until apples are soft.
* If your feeling adventurous, you can cut the crust into strips and weave it onto the top of the pie!
Hope you enjoy this classic fall treat! 🍎🍁
Summer has drawn to a close, and our cherry tomato plant has left us with many sweet and ripe tomatoes! I wanted to share another yummy, yet simple, tomato recipe that I love for using up fresh tomatoes like this. Bruschetta is a simple Italian appetizer consisting of a chopped tomato salad on slices of toasted bread, and it takes just minutes to throw together. I can't promise my recipe is traditional or authentic, but I can promise that it's easy and delicious!
- 1 cup of fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- fresh herbs - I used basil and parsley
- salt + pepper to taste
- Italian bread or baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
- olive oil
- Balsamic Reduction (from my Caprese Skewers post)
1. Mix together tomatoes, garlic, herbs, salt + pepper. You can use this bruschetta mixture immediately or let it sit in the fridge for a few hours (even overnight). This helps the flavours blend and mellow out, which is great when you're using raw garlic like this!
2. Drizzle the baguette slices with olive oil and let them toast in a pan until they're golden brown.
3. Top the toasted slices with bruschetta (don't be afraid to load it on!), then drizzle with the balsamic reduction to taste.
Hope you enjoy!
Zucchini is absolutely one of my favourite veggies. It's notorious for taking over gardens, and growing to outrageous sizes, but I don't mind when it's so delicious! Our tiny urban balcony garden didn't have room for monster zucchini this year (or zucchini at all, for that matter), so we've been taking advantage of the great deals on fresh produce from the vendors down in Byward Market - 5 medium zucchini for just $2! So now the question is: what do I make?
One of the things I love about zucchini is its versatility. It's delicious in both savoury and sweet dishes! I love it sauteed over pasta, grated in risotto, or in a yummy veggie stir fry (side dish or veggie main course!). We'll definitely be having a zucchini/veggie/pasta dish for dinner this week, but a sweet zucchini recipe is 100% mandatory this time of year.
Zucchini Muffins: when it comes to a recipe like this, I consider myself a purist. I am not a fan of the 'mix-ins' - no chocolate chips, no nuts, no other fruits like raisins or banana (Although I realize my husband may disagree with me about the chocolate chips!). This is not healthy spin on a chocolate chip muffin, and I believe that zucchini is wonderful enough to be the star of the show.
On their own, they're a delicious breakfast or snack, and topped with a little cream cheese icing they are a great (slightly healthy?) dessert. Enjoy!
- 1 medium zucchini, grated (should be a heaping cup total)
- 1/2 cup melted butter OR vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 350, and either grease a muffin tin, or line it with cupcake papers (I am a fan of cupcake papers because hey - easy clean up).
2. Mix together the melted butter and sugar, then add in the vanilla and egg and mix until well combined.
3. Add in the dry ingredients, and stir until it all comes together in a batter (but try not to overwork it!)
4. Last but not least, fold in the zucchini - and any mix-ins, if you must.
5. Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the tops turn golden brown and start to get just a little crisp.
6. Let cool, serve as is or with a topping of your choice, and feel good that you're eating veggies in delicious muffin form :)
I love gardening, and grew up with a huge yard with plenty of space for flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Moving to Ottawa presented a challenge: how can I have a garden in a very limited urban space? The answer: a small container garden on the balcony of our 4th floor, downtown apartment. Of course, I did have to scale the garden down, so we picked out some flower planters for colour, a few of our favourite herbs (parsley, chives, basil, + parsley), and one cherry tomato plant that has turned into a giant, 4-foot, tomato-producing monster.
So, the tiny urban garden has been a success! I love having our own little green space in the middle of the city, where we can relax with a glass of wine (or two) after a long day of work. And, now that we're well into July, we get to enjoy the fruits of our labour! The herbs make a great fresh addition to meals, and the cherry tomatoes? Well, that's what I'm writing about today.
Caprese salad is a classic Italian dish, based around fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Since we have 2 of these ingredients already growing in our garden, it's a perfect side dish or yummy snack for these hot summer days. Traditionally, it's made with Roma tomatoes, but since we have a bounty of tiny, bit-size cherry tomatoes, I decided to put my own fun twist on this classic. So, without further ado: Caprese Salad Skewers with Balsamic Drizzle!
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Mozzarella pearls
- Basil leaves
- Salt + freshly cracked black pepper
- Balsamic reduction*
Take a toothpick, and stack mozzarella pearl, basil leaf, and cherry tomato (in any order you like!). Sprinkle with salt + pepper, then drizzle with just a little balsamic reduction to bring some tang and sweetness.
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar (don't worry about splurging on anything too expensive here!)
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup for sweetness + my Canadian twist
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it come up to a simmer. A lot of the vinegar will cook off as it simmers, so if you can open a window or turn on a fan, that's a good idea! Let the balsamic mixture cook down for 20-30 minutes or until it's reduced by at least half. The reduction will thicken as it cools to a nice syrupy consistency, so let it cool down to room temperature, then drizzle away!
You can use other sweeteners, like honey or sugar, as well as other flavourings, like rosemary instead of garlic. If you have leftovers after making these Caprese Skewers, save it for Tomato Bruschetta (recipe coming soon!), or drizzle it on a salad, grilled chicken, or even just on some nice Italian bread.
I love Nanaimo bars, I love cheesecake, and I love recipe mashups! So, for Canada Day, I made a NANAIMO BAR CHEESECAKE. It's unique, Canadian, and totally yummy.
My initial inspiration for this mashup came from this recipe by Kraft Canada. However, I wanted to switch out their chocolate crust for a more traditional Nanaimo Bar crust, and also scale the recipe down because even with the in-laws in town for Canada Day, there are only 5 Pauleys and a 9x9 pan was plenty for us (especially since Momma Pauley made strawberry shortcake too!).
I have to say, Justin was a little nervous when he discovered that I was making up this recipe as I went, but it turned out absolutely delicious! I got unanimous thumbs-up from the whole family, and had to specifically call dibs to make sure I got a leftover square the next day :)
So, to recap: a truly Canadian twist on cheesecake, recipe created by yours truly, and five star rating from all the Pauleys. Here's the recipe!Crust:
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 2 Tbsp. cocoa
- 4 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 2 packages of cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp. custard powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1 Tbsp. shortening
Preheat the oven to 350°. Prep a 9x9 square baking pan by lining it with tin foil (or parchment paper) and lightly greasing it. This means the cheesecake won’t stick, plus it’s less cleanup later!
- For the crust, combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Then drizzle with the melted butter and mix until it comes together with a texture like wet sand. Press the crust into an even layer in the prepared pan, and stick it in the fridge while you make the filling.
- For the cheesecake filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth (I did this in my stand mixer). Then, add the custard powder and mix until it’s fully combined. Add the eggs one at a time, letting them get incorporated fully. Then pour the batter onto the chilled cheesecake crust.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden and the center is almost set (but still a little bit wobbly). Let it cool down to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, or overnight.
- For the chocolate drizzle, melt the chocolate chips and shortening together in the microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval. 1 minute total was plenty for my chocolate!
- Remove the cheesecake from the pan before drizzling with chocolate. I cut the cheesecake into 16 squares before putting on the chocolate, but you could definitely drizzle the whole cheesecake if you prefer! My technique is to dip a metal spoon into the liquid chocolate, then move it quickly over the cheesecake squares so the chocolate lands in thin ribbons. I go diagonally one way, then the other, to get a fun texture to the drizzles.
- Chill until the chocolate is set, then serve + enjoy!
Nanaimo bars are a quintessentially Canadian dessert named after the town of Nanaimo, BC. There are three key layers: a chocolate crumb crust, custardy icing filling, and a topping of melted chocolate. As with most bar cookie recipes, they originated in the mid-20th century, showing up in cookbooks and magazines every so often, sometimes under different names depending on the location and context. Their popularity was cemented by 1985, when the town of Nanaimo held a contest to find the best Nanaimo bar recipe, and resident Joyce Hardcastle won with the unanimous vote of all the judges.
I love to bake, and I love Canada, so I'm ashamed to admit that I've only ever made Nanaimo bars once, and that was in 2010, the summer before I left for university, and I had to make due with vanilla pudding instead of custard powder because I was in the USA. But, 6 years later, with all my newfound Canadian knowledge and with access to Canadian ingredients, I'm setting out to make a classic, delicious, chocolatey Nanaimo bar!
In looking for a recipe to follow, I first considered Joyce Hardcastle's award-winning version, but discovered that it calls for a double boiler (which I don't have) and the potential for undercooked egg in the crust (which my husband doesn't like). Instead, I'm going with Anna Olson's recipe, courtesy of Food Network Canada. It's got just a couple subtle differences, so I feel that it still counts as a classic Nanaimo bar (and doesn't call for a double boiler). Plus, Anna's a professional pastry chef with her own show on the Food Network - she wouldn't steer me wrong!
The Verdict: YUM. These Nanaimo bars are delicious! They're very rich and sweet, but the cocoa powder and no extra sugar in the crust helps to balance out the super sweet filling. The crust was a tiny bit too thick for me, but when that's my biggest complaint, it means this recipe is a keeper.
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- ½ cup walnut pieces
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
- pinch of salt
- 3 Tbsp. milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Lightly grease an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan and line it with parchment paper so that it comes up the sides.
2. For the crust, combine the graham crumbs with the cocoa powder and salt, then, add the coconut & walnut pieces. Stir in the melted butter and the egg and stir until blended. Press this into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes. Cool the crust completely before preparing the filling.
1. By hand, beat the butter with 1 cup (130 g) of the icing sugar, the custard powder and a pinch of salt until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla and beat in (don’t worry if it doesn’t look smooth at this point – it will smooth out), and then beat in the remaining 1 cup (130 g) of icing sugar. Do not overbeat – the filling should be smooth but not fluffy. Spread this evenly over the cooled crust.
1. For the topping, melt the chocolate and butter in a metal bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring gently with a spatula until melted. Cool the chocolate slightly and then pour this over the filling, spreading to cover it. If you wish, sprinkle the top with a little sea salt. Chill the pan for about 2 hours before slicing into bars.
Notes from Emily:
- Anna recommends using parchment paper, which I don't have, so I used tinfoil and greased it slightly. The bars came out of the pan easily and with way less mess!
- I didn't have unsalted butter, so I just used salted butter + skipped the rest of the salt called for in the recipe.
- The recipe just calls for "walnut pieces" which is pretty vague - the walnut pieces I bought at Bulk Barn seemed too big to me, so I chopped them up fairly fine.
- I used semi-sweet chocolate chips for the topping because that's what I had in the house , and I microwaved them because I am lazy.
Honestly, it's a pretty forgiving recipe! Even with my tiny little tweaks, it came out great. Follow this recipe (or use my suggestions), make a yummy Canadian dessert, and enjoy :)