Tomato Tarts

What’s this? A savoury post?!   *gasp!*

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It doesn’t happen often folks. I enjoy cooking but I rarely photograph my cooking for my blog because 1) I don’t find savoury recipes to be particularly beautiful, and, 2) I want to eat my food when it’s hot, not fuss around with setting up a shot. I (obviously) photographed these little tomato tarts though, because they’re kind of like baking, and they were cute. I made them for a potluck, so I couldn’t eat them right away anyways.

These were very easy to make. A bit of puff pastry topped with some fresh tomatoes, caramelized onions, fresh thyme, and parmesan. Simple and satisfying! And (importantly) easy to transit with. What is your favourite thing to bring to a potluck?

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • Puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg + 1 Tbsp water, beaten
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Steps:

  1. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook onions for 3 minutes, then add sugar and water and turn to low heat. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring every so often, until onions are caramelized.
  2. Preheat oven to 300F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut out rounds from puff pastry (I ended up with 20 rounds). Place rounds on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Brush puff pastry rounds with egg wash. Top with a slice of tomato, some caramelized onions, and some fresh thyme. Top with grated parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Serve warm.
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Texas Caviar

Summertime calls for BBQs and outdoor picnics! To me, this means fresh watermelon, potato salad, chips and dip, and (of course) anything you can put on the grill.

Here is my favourite salsa-like outdoor patio snack – Texas Caviar – from my cousin Deb. It is very quick and easy to pull together, and is refreshing and tasty and healthy to boot. Make it a bit ahead of time so all those delicious flavours can meld. IMG_2493 copy

Texas Caviar

  • 1 14 oz can six bean blend (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 19 oz can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (seeded and chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 4 green onions (chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
  • ~1 cup Herb or Italian Vinaigrette

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Marinate 2 hours or over night.

Serve with tortilla chips (how I like it!) or as a bean salad.

Enjoy!

 

Cheesecake Parfaits for Two

Oh Summer….

It’s still far too hot to turn on the oven, and I am missing my baking therapy. Here is another no-bake dessert that satisfies the sweet tooth, if not my need to bake.

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What’s great about this kind of dessert is the different combinations you could create. Use whatever you like (or whatever is in season) for the top layer: fresh berries, some crushed cookies, prepared pie filling, fresh lemon curd…. The possibilities are endless! I chose apple cinnamon because I had apples on hand, and I wanted to try to recreate the phenomenal Apple Crumb Cheese Pie from Rockaberry. I’m happy to report that these are a decent imitation!

In true baking fashion, I didn’t really follow a recipe and didn’t really measure anything, but I have left (approximate) steps below.

Apple Cheesecake Parfaits for Two

Graham cracker layer

  • Crush a handful of graham crackers (I used six).
  • Melt a tablespoon of butter.
  • Add melted butter and a teaspoon of sugar to the graham cracker crumbs. Set aside.

Cheesecake layer

  • Beat 4oz of cream cheese with electric beaters until fluffy, approximately 30 seconds.
  • In a separate bowl, whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream with a splash of vanilla and a couple tablespoons of icing sugar (if you want it sweeter, add more sugar). Beat until soft peaks form.
  • Gently add half the whipped mixture to the cream cheese mixture. Stir until combined, and then add the second half of the mixture. Stir until combined.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Apple cinnamon layer

  • Peel and chop 1/2 a medium apple.
  • In a bowl, mix apples with a generous amount of cinnamon and a tablespoon of brown sugar.
  • Melt a tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add apples and a tablespoon of water. Stir gently for about 5 minutes, until apples are softened but not mushy.
  • Transfer to refrigerator.

Assembly

  • Gather two parfait cups.
  • Begin by scooping half of the graham cracker layer into the bottom of each cup. Press down so the mixture is relatively packed.
  • Scoop half of the cream cheese mixture into each cup, being careful of the sides of the cup. Gently smooth.
  • Add chopped cinnamon apples and drizzle with caramel.
  • Serve chilled.

Brown Sugar Oat Bars

What do you do when you want something sweet but you’re in a pinch for time? I’m the type of person who always has baking supplies on hand, but sometimes I just don’t want to put in the effort to making something that requires more than one bowl. Thankfully, my sister just sent me this couldn’t-be-easier recipe for brown sugar oat thins – they are perfectly simple and satisfy the sweet tooth.

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Watch out though; these crumble all over the place. It makes it difficult to capture a clean photograph… Eventually I surrendered to the crumbs (I’m telling myself it adds texture and liveliness…). Enjoy this simple recipe!

Brown Sugar Oat Thins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl (oats, sugar, baking powder, salt) and mix.
  3. Add melted butter and vanilla. Stir until combined.
  4. Spread evenly in an 8×8 pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Let stand a few minutes before slicing into bars

 

From Gwendolyn Richards: Chewy Oatmeal Bars 

Spinach & Feta Pinwheels

What is that?? Is that … a savory dish!? On MY blog???

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Indeed, fair readers. For once, I am writing a post about a savory item…I was invited to a bookclub brunch. It’s my first time going to this group and I was told to bring a brunch item. I loathe potlucks that end up with everyone bringing the same thing (six kinds of chips and salsa for dinner – great….). So my priorities were: something easily portable (no assembly or refrigeration required), something easily shareable (pre-portioned), and something that no one else was likely to bring.

After a quick pinterest search I came across the idea of using puff pastry with cheese and asparagus. I had some feta and mozzarella in the fridge, and went with frozen spinach to keep it simple. These were easy to make and taste really good.

Spinach & Feta Pinwheels

Ingredients:

  • 1 package frozen spinach (thawed, and squeezed dry)
  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Green onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Nutmeg, salt, pepper
  • Egg wash (1 egg, whisked with a bit of water)

Steps:

  1. Combine cheeses, onion, garlic, and spices together.
  2. Unroll thawed puff pastry. Brush with egg wash.
  3. Top puff pastry with cheese mixture. Add spinach on top.
  4. Roll pastry (like a jelly roll). Add a bit of egg wash to the border to seal the roll.
  5. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F.
  6. Cut pastry rolls into 1″ sections and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for approx 20 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Makes 18 pinwheels.

The Cupcake Series: Coconut Cupcakes

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Cupcakes are my favourite thing to bake but… I live alone. And if I make a batch of cupcakes, I will eat all. twelve. of. them. And then I will feel sick. Sure, I could take them into work or something, but cupcakes are not very easy to walk with, so I usually don’t bother. What I was waiting for was an excuse to make them: a friend’s birthday or a potluck or something. And then… I found something magical: a two-serving cupcake recipe!

I took the basis of that recipe and doubled it so I would have four (I mean, come on, who eats just two cupcakes??? And three is better for photographic purposes anyways. So…)

These guys are inspired by snowy winter weather and snowball fights: Coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!

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Small-Batch Coconut Cupcakes

Adapted from How Sweet Eats. Makes 4 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp shredded coconut (optional)

Steps:

  1. Heat oven to 350F
  2. In a bowl, whisk together egg and sugar.
  3. Add in butter, vanilla, and coconut milk. Stir until combined.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut. Stir until smooth.
  5. Bake 12-15 min.

Once cooled completely, frost with cream cheese frosting and roll in shredded coconut, if desired.

Milk & (Monster) Cookies

Monster cookies – so named because they are giant-sized – are one of my favourite cookies to bake! I found them under the “kids” section of my Betty Crocker Cookie Book, but I have yet to find an adult who doesn’t love these once they’ve tasted them.

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The recipe is simple, almost like a standard chocolate chip cookie. But when you add a bunch of M&M candies and scoop out 1/4 cupfuls of dough, you get a proper MONSTER cookie!

I don’t like a lot of chocolate in my cookies, so I always halve the amount of candies. That way, I get a delicious amount of cookie dough with M&M’s in most (but not every) bite. If you wanted to add more, you certainly can. I would not recommend any other add-ins (peanut butter, nuts, oatmeal, or other types of chocolate) for this recipe, although you will find many other “monster cookie” recipes with those kinds of things.

M&M Monster Cookies (Betty Crocker)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups M&M candies

Steps:

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Beat sugars, butter, vanilla, and eggs in a large bowl until combined.
  3. In the same bowl, stir in flour, salt, baking soda.
  4. Stir in candies.
  5. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Flatten dough slightly. (Cookies will not spread much)
  6. Bake for 11-14 minutes or until edges are light brown.
  7. Let cool on pan for 3-4 minutes before moving to a cookie rack to cool completely.