Saturday, July 28, 2012

Healthy No-Bake Hemp Seed Peanut Butter Balls

This recipe comes from my good friend Heather.  I've been in a bit of a snack rut lately and this is my new favourite afternoon snack.  Along with a glass of iced chai.  Remember my chai latté addiction?  Well it has now morphed into an iced chai latte addiction.  I've just started buying the Tazo chai concentrate and making myself iced chai at home.  Next on my to-do list?  Figure out how to make a homemade version that tastes just as good.  Stay tuned.

This is super, super quick to make, is no bake and is fully of all things good and healthy.  A perfect snack or treat anytime.

6 tbsp. of any nut butter (I've used chocolate soy butter and sunbutter, though I'm dying to try them with natural peanut butter)
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. hemp seed
1 C quick-cook oatmeal or quinoa flakes (be sure to use quinoa flakes and not quinoa itself - you can get this in any health food store in the hot cereal section)
1/8 C mini chocolate chips

1.  Mix all ingredients together.  Press into balls.  Eat.

Then eat some more.

Then just one last one.  Before you hide them away.  For 10 minutes later.

And yup.  Logan likes these guys too.

Makes 16-18 balls.

For a bigger batch (about 4 times the original recipe):

1 1/2 C of any nut butter (I used chocolate soy butter
3/4 C maple syrup
1/2 C hemp seed
4 C quick-cook oatmeal or quinoa flakes
1/2 C mini chocolate chips

Difficulty level: easy 

Gluten-free if you use certified gf oats or quinoa flakes for added protein.  If you use certified gf oats, you may want to pulse them briefly in a food processor if they are not quick-cook oats.

Dairy-free if made with dairy-free chocolate chips

Friday, July 27, 2012

Natural Homemade Strawberry Freezer Jam

Remember this post back here when I talked about how much fruit I had jammed into my new fridge?  Well, as it turns out, we didn't really ever get around to finishing off the strawberries.  So Camille whipped them into this super quick and easy freezer jam while she was here.

Her batch was so quickly eaten that I ran to the farmer's market to get a big basket of strawberries to make more, before they are out of season.  

At the same time, I also whipped up a batch of blueberry vanilla chia seed jam from Oh She Glows.  And then made some blueberry oatmeal squares with that, for my parents' visit this weekend.

I used to make various freezer and regular jams, but find that this one, which has no pectin or other preservatives, has a much stronger fruit flavour than any others I've made.  

You basically just pick whatever fruit you want to make jam with, weigh it and then add half of the fruit's weight in sugar.  Pour the sugar over the fruit and let sit overnight in the fridge, so that the fruit will release its juices.

now that's a mountain of sugar!!

Next day, put the fruit/sugar mixture into a big pot and cook over low-medium heat until cooked.  You can check the consistency of the jam by dipping a wooden spoon into it.  When the jam sticks to the spoon at the consistency you want, it is ready.  It will continue to thicken a bit as it cools.

Then you can either fork mash the berries, or use an immersion blender if you prefer a smoother jam, like I do.

See??  Super easy.  I think the whole thing took me maybe 20 minutes for 5 jars of jam (plus the 5 blueberry I also made).

I chose to not process this for canning, as I just don't have the time for that these days.  So I just jarred it and stuffed it in the freezer to have delicious homemade jam throughout the winter.  

Hmmm.... not getting so far on that freezer challenge, huh???

Monday, July 23, 2012

Camille's Authentic Tarte Tatin

As with everything else in my life these days, I am so behind in my blogging.  I currently have 31 recipes in my draft folder, plus tons of ideas for other posts I haven't even gotten around to starting.  Plus, I still need to get around to transferring my photos to the new blog so that I can get that finalized and up and running.  Ahhhh life with two monkeys ;)

As its name suggests, this recipe is French in origin.  And it's one of Jérôme's favourite desserts.  Camille made this for us when she came to visit two years ago.  It was the first time I had had it and I also loved it.  Following her departure, I tried in vain to reproduce it a few times.  But none of the recipes I found did Camille's tart justice - or perhaps it was that I just hadn't mastered the technique??

As defined by Wikipedia, "tarte tatin is an upside-down tart in which the fruit (usually apples) are caramelized in butter and sugar before the tart is baked".  Mmm...  It turns out that Josiane had given me a whole tarte tatin cookbook awhile back.  So my new mission is to make a blueberry tarte tatin with some delicious fresh blueberries when I have a chance.  And a rhubarb one.  And a banana one.  And a banana chocolate chip one.  But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Camille made us two of these during her visit.  One of which has already sadly disappeared (of course, its whereabouts are completely unknown).  The other is tucked safely in the freezer.  For the time being at least ;)

Being a French recipe, it is in grams, so you'll need to get out your food scale for this one - which I know you've purchased, having been tempted by other French recipes here on my blog ;) 

Camille said this is typically made with Golden Delicious apples.  She made ours with Red Delicious and it was wonderful.  If you use another variety, just be sure that it is a type that will hold its shape with cooking so that you don't end up with applesauce.

1/2 C sugar
4 1/2 very large (Costco-sized) apples (I think you'd need maybe 7-8 regular sized apples - enough to fill the entire pan)
70g butter
pie pastry (traditionally with puff pastry, but you can try it with any kind of pastry you have - Camille brought us one from France!!)

You will also need a pan that can go both on the stove and in the oven for this recipe.  We used a pie plate for one of the pies and one of our Le Creuset pans for the other.

1.  Peel and core apples and cut into quarters.  Set aside.

2.  Melt butter in the pan. Sprinkle sugar over the entire pan and do not stir (you can mix it just slightly, but barely).

3.  Place the apples on top of the butter/sugar mixture in a circle formation.  Be sure the squeeze the apples tightly together. 

4.  Cook on medium heat until the butter/sugar mixture has caramelized.  You will know that this has happened when the mixture takes on a rich brown colour.

This is what the butter mixture will look like as it starts to cook:

And this is what it will look like when the sugar has caramelized and you can take it off of the stove:

Do not stir anything while it is cooking.
5.  Place the pie pastry on top of the apples, tucking in the edges.  Cut a small vent into the centre of the pie.  Place a piece of parchment paper inside the vent to prevent it from closing while cooking.

6.  Cook at approximately 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then lower to 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned.  Camille swears that you don't have to check if the apples are cooked.

7.  To take the pie out of the pan, let the pie cool a bit, but not completely (or otherwise the caramel will harden and everything will be stuck in the pan).  If the pie has completely cooled, you will need to heat it up a bit again to be able to get it out of the pan.  If you turn the pan just upside down, the caramel will all drip out.  You want to take it out by turning it upside down in a circular motion.  And, of course, place a large plate over the crust before unmolding.

Camille mentioned that she suspects that restaurants do a double layering of apples to be sure there are no gaps between the apples when cooked.  I'm sure that just makes it doubly delicious.

Difficulty level: difficult for a novice.  Though easier for someone who has experience baking.

Friday, July 20, 2012

To Die For Homemade Cheesecake Ice Cream

My quest to use my ice cream maker lives on.  It all started with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.  And it has now progressed to cheesecake ice cream.  Is there anything more sinful??  And as we all know, sinful = DELICIOUS.  And this ice cream is no exception.

After making this, I got confirmation that Jérôme and I were truly meant for each other.  While eating it, he said to me "imagine this with Oreos stirred in".  Which is exactly what I had been thinking...  

I got this recipe from Food and Wine Magazine.  It is super, super rich.  You really only need a very small portion to be satisfied.  In fact, you probably won't be able to each much more than a very small portion.  Which is perfect, since it is so rich that if you eat too much of it, you'll never be able to do your pants up again ;P

6 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool 
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 cup cold sour cream 
1 cup cold heavy cream 
pinch of coarse (kosher) salt 
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Chill a medium mixing bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer. 

2.  In the bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until soft and smooth. Gradually add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. 

3.  Beat in the sour cream and then the heavy cream. Add the salt, lemon juice, vanilla and beat the mixture just until thick and smooth. 

4.  Cover and refrigerate overnight, or until very cold. Wash and dry the mixer beaters and chill again. 

5.  Using the chilled beaters and gradually increasing the mixer speed from low to medium, beat the cold ice cream mixture until loose and creamy, about 3 minutes. 

6.  Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately, or pack the ice cream into a covered container and freeze for up to 24 hours. Allow the ice cream to soften in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

Difficulty level: moderate

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cranberry Brie Salad

This is a great colourful, tasty salad.  Perfect for summer.  It's also super quick to make.  And the port flavoured cranberries and brie even makes it impressive enough for company.  Thanks to Brandi for sharing this recipe with me.

Of course, in my current state of mommy brain, I forgot to put the brie on the salad when I made it for company awhile back.  Even though I had actually gone to the grocery store to get some brie.  Some days I wonder if I will ever have a memory again...

For the dressing, I used a brand of pesto that has no pine nuts that I picked up at Metro, since I'm avoiding nuts these days.

1/2 C dried cranberries
1/4 C port wine

Put into a bowl and let stand for one hour, stirring occasionally.  Drain.  Discard port.

4 oz. chopped brie cheese
1 Boston lettuce (torn)
2/3 C croutons

Toss together in a large bowl with cranberries

Cranberry dressing:
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. cranberry cocktail (or orange juice)
1 tbsp. basil pesto
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Put all in a jar and shake.

Just before serving, pour dressing over salad.

Difficulty level: easy 

Gluten-free if you omit the croutons or use gf croutons
Dairy-free if you omit the brie, as I accidentally did 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Um... so... this post has absolutely nothing to do with anything.  At all.  But I needed to share.

I have a bit of a shoe addiction.  Well, not really a shoe addiction, exactly.  Since it also extends to boots.  Now you may have sensed this when I shared my new winter boots with you back here.  But I'm doubtful you understood just how deep this fetish goes.  Helen, if you're reading this, I know you're laughing out loud right now ;)

I can't even begin to tell you how many shoes I own.  Many, many, many shoes.  And many, many, many boots.  Let's take knee high boots for example.  Just off the top of my head, I know that I own a black pair with heels, a black flat pair, a red pair, a red patent pair (with beautiful buttons up the side), a silver pair, a brown pair, a grey pair that come above the knee... and that's not even getting into the shorter mid-calf boots...

Thing is, my feet have changed sizes since having kids.  And the vast majority of my shoes no longer fit.  All the ugly, practical ones do.  Like my runners and Sketchers and flip flops.  But really????  None of the nice high heels.  The collection that I have cultivated for sooooo many years now sits in my closet (or numerous closets!) untouched.

Here's a sneak peek of the gems I'm talking about:

at my dear friend Katie's wedding - you can see
the shoes that well, but they were super hot!
out for brunch at the Fairmont Montebello

on my way to a Christmas party

Josiane, getting a huge kick out of one
of my all-time favourite pairs of shoes
my dad also quite liked them

as you can see, all females in my family
are afflicted by this condition
I also constantly admire others' beautiful shoes. 
There must be a 12-step program for this, no?

no one could walk past these blue
shoes without wanting to try them on!
at my little sis' wedding
more proof that not a single female Baynton goes untouched
I have been mourning the loss of the above shoes (and many others) since the birth of my son mid 2010.  I have prayed that my feet would one day comfortably fit back into my old heels.  Yet this is still not the case, 8 months post-Chloé.

As I mentioned in my recent post, I am slowly starting to accept the loss of such dear friends and gave a few pair to Camille while she was here.

And then Heather and I went shopping last night.  

What a disaster!  

It turns out that shoes were on mega sale at Sears.  Which is not a place where I've ever bought shoes before.  But they had all sorts of beautiful brand name shoes for $25-40.  And really, nothing makes a girl feel good about herself like a new pair of shoes.  Or 5.  Well, 6, counting the ones I bought while Camille was here. We were both so excited about our new finds that we stripped off our comfy shoes and headed out in our new beautiful footwear.

Just needed to share :)

And my personal favourites:

Camille and I, sporting our new shoes on our
way to El Meson for dinner last weekend
Camille called yesterday and told me shoe bought two new pairs of heels her first day home.  Even though she had never worn heels until I gave her some of mine.  Guess I was a bad influence on her ;)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mont St. Hilaire + Quebec Cider Tasting

We've been having a great time visiting with Camille since she got here last weekend. For those of you who don't know about Camille, she is my long lost French exchange student from back when I was 15.  

At that time, I traveled to Crolles, France to live with her and her family for 3 months and she also stayed with my family and me for 3 months in my hometown of Bradford, Ontario.  We stayed in touch for many years after our exchange program was over, but lost touch past university.  Until good ol' facebook reunited us a few years back.  She came to visit us two years ago when Logan was only 2 months old and has come back again this year.

And it has been a wonderful visit.  Way too wonderful catching up with her again.  And awfully wonderful having an extra pair of hands around the house.  The kids seem like an absolute breeze these days.  I told Jérôme that maybe next year we should pay her flight out here for her, just to get such a nice break again ;)

We've been super busy since she's gotten here.  Here's a peek at a few of the things we've been up to:

Backyard barbeque with friends:

Beach day at Oka Provincial Park


Auditioning for Baywatch

Sit daddy, sit

Can't turn away for a split second
Lots of time hanging out, out back on the deck in the beautiful weather:

LOVE Chloé's facial expression here!

Some adventures trying on shoes, as I have *finally* accepted that my pre-baby heels will likely never fit me again and am passing what can fit into Camille's suitcase on to her:

I take solace in knowing they will have a good home.

A visit to Peter's Cape Cod, at Camille's request, to get some fish and chips: 

breaded shrimp
fish and chips

lobster roll
Alongside a tasty pina colada:

A visit last night to Spa Le Finlandais.  And though I have no photos, this trip convinced me that this needs to become a monthly ritual.

And then today, a hike up Mont St. Hilaire in beautiful weather.  Logan even managed to hike all but approximately 300 meters of the 2.5 km hike up to the top, reaching an altitude of approximately 1350 feet.  What a champ!!  Then he napped in the stroller on his way down.

multi-tasking my way up the mountain

loving life

the beautiful view from the top

needing a nap at the top of the mountain
And then to top off the day, some cider tasting (and purchasing!) at Cidrerie Michel Jeaudoin, my favourite Quebec cider producer.  But that's a whole other post.