Savory Pea & Parmesan Hand Pies with Sumac Labneh

Baked The Blog


With Spring so close you can almost taste the fresh peas, I haven’t been able to get this recipe from Baked The Blog out of my head. Savory green pea & nutty Parmesan filling spread over a tangy sumac strained cheese and tucked away in a flaky, buttery pastry. I shared it on the blog almost 2 years ago now so I think it’s time to bring it home again. What’s not to love? Make a double batch so you can freeze some for easy lunches or snacks.

Shoot over to Baked the Blog to find the recipe!

Savory Pea & Parmesan Hand Pies with Sumac Labneh

Powerhouse Green Dip

Powerhouse Green Dip

Back before we had Ruthie I imagined a world where she would sit, quiet and still, on the counter top watching diligently as I put together a recipe or meal. She would be absorbing everything I did, holding steadfastly to the memory of cooking with Mama when she was a little girl. We would sit together at the table, at the same time, and eat every meal side by side as we giggled to each other.

Powerhouse Green Dip

And then I actually had a baby. To most parents, this is hilarious. As “well-behaved” as your baby/toddler is, they likely do not sit still for more than .377560367 seconds at time. And if they do, you’d better go check on them because your phone/glasses/toothbrush are probably in the toilet. They may have also taken some of that beautiful meal you so lovingly prepared for them, all the while dreaming of what-could-be, and made a painting for you on the wall with it. There is little romance or whimsy in raising toddlers (or so I feel), but every so often they’ll surprise you by sitting still. Even for 10 minutes while you make this dip together. And then actually EAT it! Hallelujah!

We are able to spend more and more time in the kitchen together as she gets older, and though it isn’t without challenge, we do our best to instill healthy eating habits in her while also showing her how delicious healthy foods can be when you prepare them with some creativity. She loved this dip and that was a home run as far as I’m concerned. The toddler palette is, of course, the most refined.

Powerhouse Green Dip

We are a dip family. Most things eaten under this roof are dipped in some form of liquid or sauce. Hummus, ranch dressing, toum, milk or tea, satay sauce, ginger scallion sauce…we firmly believe everything can be made better by dunking. This green dip is no exception. It’s jammed with fragrant herbs, nutritious greens and extra decadent sour cream and Greek yogurt. It’s creamy and rich, but with the addition of lime juice it isn’t heavy or unbalanced. Whether you’re using it for a dip, a marinade for chicken or fish, a sandwich spread or topping for soup, I think you’ll agree that it makes everything better.
Powerhouse Green Dip

Powerhouse Green Dip
makes 1 1/2 cups

I used the Gaylea GOLD Sour Cream here because I wanted the dip to be as creamy and rich as possible. Feel free to use any percent of sour cream you’d like.

2 tbsp fresh cilantro
2 tbsp fresh mint
2 tbsp fresh basil
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley
1 tbsp fresh dill
1 green onion, light and green leafy parts
1/4 cup torn kale leaves
1/4 cup rough-chopped bok choy*
1/2 cup Gay Lea GOLD Sour Cream
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 large avocado
2 tbsp olive oil
juice from 1/2-1 whole lime, depending on taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
milk/water, for consistency sake

Add the first 8 ingredients (greens and herbs) to the bowl of a food processor. Process until everything is minced finely. It should be almost paste-like in consistency. Add the sour cream, Greek yogurt, avocado, olive oil and lime juice and blend again for a good 3-4 minutes or until smooth. The texture of the dip will depend on the power of your food processor. If you have a powerful high speed processor or blender, it will be extra smooth. Otherwise it will be similar to mine here, creamy with some texture from the greens. Add the garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper (to taste). Pulse a few more times. If you like the consistency, it’s ready to serve. If it’s too thick, add some milk or water 1 tbsp at a time until it’s the right consistency for you.

*Bok Choy is a nutritional power house. High in Vitamin A & C and minerals like phosphorus, zinc, sodium, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, folate, choline and beta-carotene, it is one of the most nutritionally dense plant based foods. We generally have bok choy hanging around which is why I added it here. If you don’t have any on hand, feel free to skip.

A Lack of Colour

Creamy Coconut Lentils with Caramelized Onion and Fennel

 Creamy Coconut Lentils with Caramelized Onion and Fennel

I’ve been feeling heavily uninspired in the kitchen lately. We’ve been eating a lot of pasta, a lot of Marcella Hazan’s 3 ingredient tomato sauce on top of said pasta, a lot of bread-based meals and boring grains. Whether it’s the grey cast days we’ve been having lately or the general lack of colour in the stores, I’m bored. I want more sun, more vegetables, more flavour.

These lentils are inspired by a beautiful bowl I happened upon on Pinch of Yum. That humble bowl of lentils spoke to my gut, alluring with it’s promise of creamy pulses licked with fruity oil and fragrant thyme. The simplicity wasn’t the inspiration I thought would stir me but the heart wants what the heart wants.

 Creamy Coconut Lentils with Caramelized Onion and Fennel

This is my version of a creamy pot of lentils, made with what was on hand and what felt right for my tastes. The caramelized onion and fennel provides a rich sweetness to the broth while the coconut milk is just enough fat for it to coat your mouth with flavour.  Serve with grainy bread that’s been drizzled with oil and charred lightly to fill this meal out even more.

 Creamy Coconut Lentils with Caramelized Onion and Fennel

Creamy Coconut Lentils with Caramelized Onion and Fennel
serves 4 as a main

1/4 cup olive oil, butter or mixture of the two
salt and pepper
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 bulb fennel, sliced thin
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 (pinch) tsp cinnamon
pinch red pepper flakes
5-6 cups veggie or chicken stock
2 cups brown lentils
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 can coconut milk
2 cups chopped curly or lacinato kale
olive oil, for serving
toasted grainy bread, optional for serving

Warm olive oil over medium heat and add the sliced onion and fennel. Let cook stirring only occasionally but keeping an eye so they don’t burn, until deep golden brown and sweet, approximately 20-25 minutes. Add in the diced carrot, celery and red pepper flakes and cook until starting to soften, 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle in the ginger, coriander and cinnamon and stir so the spices coat the vegetables. Pour in the stock, lentils, thyme and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 35-45 minutes. Lentils should be cooked through and still hold their shape without being mushy. Add in the chopped kale and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Serve with fresh thyme leaves, a drizzle of oil, lots of fresh ground pepper and red pepper flakes if you like it extra spicy. Serve with charred grainy bread on the side.



Thinking Ahead

Yeasted Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Waffles

Yeasted Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Waffles

I remember the days of stirring softly in bed, my thoughts drifting to breakfast as I re-joined the cognizant world and marveled at the way the morning sun painted our whole room gold. So romantic. Breakfast could be whatever I dreamed, coffee and pancakes or maybe a smoothie and some oatmeal, homemade of course. These days I rouse to the sound of my husbands alarm at 5:54 (precisely), tell myself to go back to sleep before the baby wakes up and promptly hear said baby cry, my eyes slightly burning from fatigue and the number of times I’ve crammed my fist in there to rub them hoping maybe that would jolt me back to life.


Thinking ahead isn’t always my strong suit so breakfast can be a bit of a pain some days. Trying to get Ruthie fed and ready for the day takes precedent and often I end of drinking 14 cups of coffee and eating whatever I can reach while trying to make sure she doesn’t leap to her death off literally everything in the house. A fantastic recipe for jittery anxiety come 12pm. Not sustaining, not healthy, not fueling. Not a good way to start the day.

The last few weeks I’ve been trying to spend 30 minutes on Sunday making something I can eat for breakfast each week. A few weeks ago were oatmeal muffins with banana and chocolate chips, and then some cookies that were high in fibre and full of seeds and nuts, and this week we went for waffles. But not just any waffles. Waffles that fill the air with the smell of fresh yeasty bread & warm cinnamon, flecked with sweet plump raisins. I wrote this recipe to make a big batch of waffles to eat through the week or to freeze for future chaotic mornings, of which I’m sure there will be plenty when I return to work soon. Enjoy these toasted with butter (my favourite!), with your favourite nut butter and fresh fruit or on their own.

Yeasted Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Waffles Yeasted Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Waffles

Yeasted Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Waffles
adapted from King Arthur Flour
makes 1 dozen regular waffles or about 6-8 Belgian waffles

I used spelt flour because I had it on hand and its super nutritious. If you only have whole wheat and all purpose, use 2 cups of each.

3 tsp active dried yeast
3 cups lukewarm milk
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
2/3 cups unsalted butter (or coconut oil)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Stir the warm milk and yeast together with the honey or maple syrup and leave for 5-10 minutes until frothy and bubbly.

Add the butter, salt, vanilla and eggs and stir to combine. After whisking the flours together, add them to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Add the cinnamon and raisins and fold together. Place a piece of cling wrap over the bowl loosely and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The longer you leave the batter, the richer and more yeasty the flavor will be. It is best if made at night and left overnight in the fridge but they will still be delicious with a shorter resting time.

When ready to cook, lightly grease your waffle maker and cook according to manufacturers instructions. Set on a wire rack to cool and then place in a freezer bag separated by parchment paper so they don’t stick together. Or put half in the freezer and keep half out to eat now – they will keep for 5 days in an air tight container.

The Art of Spent Love

Goat Butter Rough Puff Pastry + Ginger-Cardamom Morning Buns

Goat Butter Rough Puff Pastry + Ginger-Cardamom Morning Buns
Goat Butter Rough Puff Pastry + Ginger-Cardamom Morning Buns

We don’t celebrate Valentines Day in our house. That isn’t because our immaculate love transcends Hallmark Holidays or because we reek of pretentiousness and manage to romance each other every day so we don’t need a special day that tells us to do it. If I’m being honest, it’s because we don’t really care. Because at the end of each day we dig deep to find the last tiny shards of physical affection that remain from a day of being tugged, climbed, screamed at, hugged, kissed, poked and touched over and over again (which can be difficult enough for those of us who need to have our physical space). We try to unravel the tangled thoughts in our heads to form a few sentences in order to share our days with each other as concisely as possible. After dinner is done and Ruthie is in bed we often sit, legs sprawled and heads hung to one side, weighted by the day, our fingers feeling around for the others’ until they meet and fasten together, unable to speak but confident in our love despite how spent we are. Those fingers bound together is just enough some days to know you’re seen, cherished and supported. That is our love. And it doesn’t need a special day because chances are good we would forget to celebrate anyways.

goat butter rough puff pastry & ginger-cardamom morning buns

On the days I find it hard to connect through physical touch, I often bake knowing that’s almost as good as a hug. My husband has the sweet tooth in our family, my daughter and I tending toward the savory. But my one sweet indulgence, the one I can’t walk past at the bakery and that sustained me through my pregnancy, is anything made with puff pastry or croissant dough. Those laminated layers of butter-crisped dough stuffed with any number of oozy or sugary or creamy fillings is the stuff of my dreams. If anyone is worthy of homemade pastries, it’s my dear sweet husband.

When I toyed with making my own at home, I felt a bit daunted. There’s a lot of information out there and while the process and ingredient list is minimal, I felt that maybe I was missing something. There must be more to it. Some sort of magic that happens in those simple folds that I must be neglecting to read about. Nope! It really was so easy. I decided on a rough puff pastry which is a short cut version that takes about 45-50 minutes to put together. Using goat butter can be a tiny bit more difficult as it has a lower melting point thus requires a few pops into the freezer during the process to ensure everything stays cold. Cold = flaky. My hands run hot so I definitely needed to chill throughout the process. But maybe you’re one of those really cold people who have hands like tiny icicles. I wish I were. My pastry skills would be on point. I digress. Goat butter gives this pastry a mild grassy, sweet farmy taste. If you like goat cheese, goat milk etc then you’ll appreciate the unique flavour. If you do not like goat dairy, what’s the matter with you!?! I kid. Give this a try just the same, the flavour is much milder than you’d expect and if you’re not looking for it you may not even notice a difference from your cow butter pastry.

Goat Butter Rough Puff Pastry + Ginger-Cardamom Morning Buns

This is simple pastry made with love for my man. I may not be able to lift my head more than an inch in the evenings, but I can direct you to the pan of sweet, flaky, warmly spiced morning buns and utter a quiet “I loveeeeee you” knowing you’ll get the real message, which is  how terribly, painfully much I love you even if in this moment in our lives, we can’t always fully convey that message as clearly as we’d like. Now eat your love buns and leave me in peace!

Goat Butter Rough Puff Pastry + Ginger-Cardamom Morning Buns

Goat Butter Rough Puff Pastry + Ginger-Cardamom Morning Buns
makes 1 dozen buns

I made this pastry the day before I planned to make the buns as I wanted the pastry to be nice and chilled in it’s final state before mucking about with it. If you don’t like ginger or cardamom, which will give these buns a warmth that cinnamon alone won’t, you may omit and add an extra 1/2tsp of cinnamon.

Goat Butter Rough Puff Pastry
1/4 cup unsalted Hewitt Dairy Goat Butter, grated and frozen

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted Hewitt Dairy Goat Butter, grated and frozen
2 1/4 cups flour, refrigerated for 30 minutes prior to starting.
1/2 tsp fine salt
8-10 tbsp ice water
Ginger-Cardamom Morning Buns
1 recipe Goat Butter Rough Puff, above
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup butter, softened
 Combine the 1/4 cup of frozen, grated butter and the flour. Rub together with your hands quickly until mixture is almost sandy with a few larger pieces of butter. Add in enough ice water,

mixing with a wooden spoon, to bring it all together. Knead for a few minutes so it comes together into a firm dough, and let rest for 10 minutes in the fridge.

Roll dough out into a long rectangle. Place half the grated butter over 2/3 of the dough. Fold the 3rd of dough without any butter over the middle section, and the other end on top of that, like folding a business letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll that piece out into another rectangle. You’ve just completed one “fold”.

Place the rest of the grated butter over 2/3 of the dough. Fold the 3rd of dough without any butter over the middle section, and the other end on top of that. You’ve now laminated the butter in 2 folds. Turn 90 degrees and roll out again. Repeat until you’ve made 5-6 folds. If you find the butter is getting too soft, freeze for 10 minutes after you complete a turn. Chill for at least 4 hours in the fridge. Will keep in the fridge for 1 month or freeze for up to 6 months.

When you’re ready to make the morning buns:
In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, zest and spices until combined. Remove 1/4 cup of the mixture and set aside (this will be to sprinkle over the baked buns). Mix the butter into the remaining mixture.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll your pastry into a 16×20″ rectangle. Gently spread the butter and spice mixture over the dough. Starting at the longest end, roll the dough into a long tube. Slice tube into 1″ pieces and place in a butter or oiled 12-muffin tin. If the dough is too soft to slice, freeze for 10 minutes. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven, loosen from the pan and spoon remaining sugar & spice mixture over the warm buns.

Gay Lea KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway – February 2017

Disclaimer: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Gay Lea, and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.


Living with Depression + Learning Self Care

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Toasted Coconut Cookies

PB + Toasted Coconut + Oat Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Raisins

It’s been 19 months since I had my daughter, Ruthie. Those 19 months, as you can imagine, have housed some of my most intense emotions, hardest fought battles, lowest and highest days. It’s been 15 months since I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety.

I remember feeling pretty indifferent to the term postpartum depression when I was pregnant. Pffft… I was on top of the world. No sickness, no health concerns, no food aversions, no sleep disturbances. It was bliss. And I seemed to be in a world of my own in that, most women around me struggling through 24h nausea, extreme fatique, sciatica, etc. I was lucky. And so extremely happy. Depression? Get outta here. I was ready (I was not) and feeling like a warrior woman. My midwives and birth prep teachers would mention the (very good) potential for postpartum depression and I’d sort of glaze over, knowing for sure that I didn’t have to worry about that.

I did. I do. Every single day.

PB + Toasted Coconut + Oat Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Raisins

Struggling with depression while trying to be present in what society touts as “the most blissful days of your life”, and OH MY GOODNESS you horrible woman if you don’t agree, was not easy. There was a solid month, maybe more, where between my husband, mom, mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, father and father-in-law and aunt (yes, I feel obligated to name them all because they each contributed greatly to my recovery), I barely touched my daughter save for nighttime feeding. I couldn’t. Hearing her cry or having her in my arms stirred my fight or flight response. And boy, was that a hard pill to swallow. All I could do was cry. Panic. Wonder how I would ever make it through the day. Wonder if I would ever enjoy being a mother. Wonder how I could escape. Panic. Cry. What could I buy to make this easier? Who could I pay to save me? Who am I. Why did I do this. How do I keep going.

Months of everyone shifting their lives to help me adjust to mine. Months of my husband coming home from work to me crying and broken. Months of not feeling adequate or worthy. Months of guilt over needing help, not appreciating my new role. Months of feeling confused, hopeless and just done. Void of anything but all-encompassing fear. For my daughter, for my husband, for myself. I was scared to death. Each day was worse than the last. Until, somehow, it wasn’t.

Sometime in the midst of the fear, guilt and pain, I started to climb my way out of depression. Each day there would be a few more moments of clarity. I could see my old self, albeit through a dusty window, and felt hope again.

PB + Toasted Coconut + Oat Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Raisins

I consider myself to be on “the other side”, at least today. Tomorrow could be different, as every day is when it comes to mental health, and a bad day doesn’t mean you’re not going in the right direction. Fighting for myself was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do and that’s why my family, friends and community contributed so heavily to my recovery. Without that help, I fear the worst may have happened. But it didn’t. I get to be here for my daughter, my daily affirmation of pure and honest good in this world and my reason to fight harder to get better each day.

I know, whoever you are reading this and maybe nodding your head, that it isn’t easy. I know getting out of bed feels like the fight of your life each and every day. That going to work (whether that’s at home or elsewhere), socializing and pretending to be OK sucks what little bit of energy you have and yet you do it every single day. That knowing your family and friends are worried about you makes the guilt you already feel feel even heavier. That those thoughts in your head can be louder than your own. That asking for help is absolutely fucking terrifying. But you are bigger than this. You are stronger than your depression. Asking for help is the hardest part and once it’s over with, you can start to pull the pieces of yourself back together, in whatever way you and your mental health team decide is best. It’s not a one-size fits all solution and sometimes it takes a while to figure out the right plan of action, but giving yourself the time and space to explore your options means the optimal outcome for you and your fight. Here is some reading on finding the right help for you.

Because each day comes with it’s own set of challenges, and sometimes that means facing my depression head-on all over again, I do a few things for self care that work for me. They are things that I know will calm me, provide a sense of purpose when I’m feeling useless (a large part of my depression), or give my brain a rest. It can be as simple as making a cup of tea and really tasting it. Other times it takes a bit more effort.

Baking: following exact direction means my brain is occupied. Sometimes that’s all I need to move on from a dip in mood.
Writing: generally not for public audience, but more to get out anything that’s going on in my head. There are many writing exercises that can help you cope with depression/anxiety.
Walking: getting outside, breathing in the clean air and realizing how big the world is sometimes makes my thoughts feel less important and it becomes easier to quiet them.
Breathing Exercises: this works for nighttime or daytime for me, whenever I can’t calm my thoughts or if they become intrusive. Have a look at some of these. Meditation can be HIGHLY beneficial in the midst of panic/fear/sadness.
Reading: escaping to another world via a good book is a surefire way to remove you from your own head.
Friends/Family: just last week I reached out to a friend telling her I was having a hard week and needed someone to make me laugh and forget about my sadness that happened out of nowhere. And BAM, there she was. I felt better almost instantly.
Art: Over the holidays, I worked on painting a lot of my gifts with Ruthie. It was extremely calming.
FOR PARENTS (specifically Moms suffering with PPD): Something that was absolutely 100% vital to my healing was sleep. And that is the hardest solution with newborns/babies/toddlers and we don’t always feel comfortable leaving them. But if you have family or friends that you trust, SAY YES when they offer to help. Do something just for you –  go for a 2 hour nap. Have a bath.  Go to a coffee shop and read a book. Or just watch people and take some deep breaths. or binge watch something you’ve been dying to get into. But say yes. Let people help. They will be as happy to help as you are to have time to yourself. I promise.

Finding your own self-care methods is MONUMENTAL in managing your mental health. There will be days that you need to use them all and days where you may just need to deep breath your way through a stressful moment. But knowing they are in your back pocket in an overwhelming situation alone can be calming.

Today (January 25th) is #BellLetsTalk day. Every time you talk, text or join in on social media using that hashtag, Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives in Canada. So whether you’re the one struggling or the one supporting, talking and ending the stigma around mental health is your job. OUR job. Because 20% of Canadians will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives. Because only 1 in 5 Canadian kids struggling with mental health gets the help they need. And because once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities* – this is an illness we can actually DO SOMETHING about. So let’s do that. And please remember, it’s going to be OK. You can overcome this. And should you find yourself in a position where you need to talk but you don’t know who will understand or listen, please reach out to me. I don’t know your struggle and I am not a professional, but I am walking my own challenging path and know how helpful an ear can be.

PB + Toasted Coconut + Oat Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Raisins

And on the days when you’re feeling like yourself (or if you’re supporting someone struggling and want to do something kind), make your tomorrow-self some cookies. Because we all know that finding the time to cook and eat can be cumbersome while suffering with mental illness.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Toasted Coconut Cookies
makes 2 1/2 dozen

I love these cookies dipped in my morning coffee. They aren’t totally sugar-packed and contain lots of healthy ingredients to both fill and sustain you. I make them both with and without chocolate/raisins as my daughter doesn’t like chocolate (?!). If you don’t add the chocolate chips and raisins, I’d add a little more sugar (maybe 1/4 cup) as they lean towards the not-sweet-enough side.

1 cup coconut oil, softened but not melted (think room-temp butter consistency)
1 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup toasted (unsweetened) coconut
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp sea salt, more for garnish (optional)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl with hand mixer (or stand mixer), cream together the coconut oil, peanut butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, on at a time, until full incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.

In another bowl, mix together the flours, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to combine. Pour into the wet ingredients and mix well. Add in the chocolate chips and raisins, if using.

Roll into balls just smaller than a golf ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden brown and the tops just starting to brown.

*stats from
**note: this is NOT sponsored by Bell or anyone else. This is written purely for personal purposes.

Partners in Prep

Corn Battered Pimento Jalapeno Poppers

Corn Battered Pimento Jalapeno Poppers

The older we get the more our precious time at home, together a family, matters. Whether we’re dancing to Robyn’s Dancing On My Own (which Ruthie used to dance to while we were sharing a body), sitting around the table painting or taking the sled for a spin around the block, we realize these moments are fleeting and try to make the most of them. Even if that means watching… sigh….sports.  And to say my husband enjoys sports would be a great understatement, so when there is an important game on (….are they all important? I don’t know) we are sure to hunker down with him on the couch and make the most of the down time.

A little birdie (aka the whole world) told me that a little thing called Superbowl is coming up soon… superwhaaaaaat? Just kidding guys. I don’t live under a rock but sometimes I wish I did. So what’s superbowl without snacks? A pretty boring time watching dudes in tights run around, that’s what.

Corn Battered Pimento Jalapeno Poppers

Corn Battered Pimento Jalapeno Poppers

Snacks make sports worth watching, whether you’re the watcher or the tolerator, and snacking is something this family does RIGHT. No messing! And just because he’s watching the game, doesn’t mean Dada gets to shirk his kitchen duties. I’m not that nice! So I generally give him the monotonous job of peeling potatoes, chopping vegetables (“1/2inch! NO BIGGER!!”), battering snacks for frying, peeling the skin from blistered jalapenos… you know, the easy stuff that requires little attention so you can keep your eyes on that pigskin. So Dada and Ruthie took care of the dirty work for these delicious, crunchy, spicy and ooey-gooey poppers while I drank a beer with my feet up. How’s that for service? If your partner isn’t the cook in the family, give yourself a break by having them help with some simple, tedious prep.

Let me be the first to say, making these is a labour of love. Delicious, cheesy love. It is WAY easier to buy some from the frozen food section…but who knows what goes into those things. Every so often, it’s nice to put in the time and reap the rewards of a homemade pub classic.

Corn Battered Pimento Jalapeno Poppers

Corn Battered Pimento Jalapeno Poppers
makes 12 poppers

I used Hewitt Dairy’s Goat Yogurt instead of the usual cream cheese in these poppers. It provides the same creamy richness but has an amazing tang and flavour that boosts the usual jalapeno popper.

12 large jalapenos peppers
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup sharp cheddar
1/4 cup Hewitts Dairy Goat Yogurt (3.5% milk fat)
1/4 cup pimento peppers
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups masa harina*
2 cups water
1 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tso salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 qt neutral oil (I like canola or vegetable or corn)
Hewitts Dairy Goat Yogurt, for dipping
2 green onions, sliced thin (for garnish)

Turn oven on to broil and bring rack to top third of oven. Place jalapenos on a baking sheet or oven-safe skillet and broil, turning occasionally, until charred in places and blistering (about 8-10 minutes). Dump into a bowl and cover tight with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Remove from the bowl and use a sharp pairing knife to gently peel the skin off the peppers without slicing through them. Cut a slit in one side of the peppers, being careful not to cut in half completely. You want to stuff them whole so you’re making an incision for that purpose. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix mozzarella, cheddar, yogurt, pimento pepper, cilantro and pepper. Divide into twelve equal portions and press into oblong masses. Stuff into your jalapenos, gently squeeze shut and set aside. Leftover cheese can be saved for your next mashed potato or potato skins or….whatever else you need pimento cheese for!

In a deep skillet or other heavy bottom, pan with high sides, add your oil and bring to a temperature of 375. Mix together your masa harina, water, chipotle, salt and water. Whisk together to combine. In another bowl, add the flour. Take your stuffed jalapenos, dredge in the flour  and shake off the excess, then coat in the masa batter, allowing the extra to drip off for a moment. Place in your hot oil and fry, turning once or twice, until golden brown. Place on a rack or paper towel lined plate to cool. Serve with a sprinkle of green onion and extra yogurt for dipping. Serve right away, hot from the oil.

*Masa Harina is a type corn flour, generally used to make corn tortillas or tamales, and can be found in some well-stocked grocery stores in the International Foods aisle or at your local Latin specialty store.


Warm Gooey Gut Feelings

Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits

Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits
Can you believe it’s almost here? Are the looming holidays causing your anxiety to spike and your excitement to stir? Us too.

I love Christmas. LOVE it.  I live for that warm gooey feeling you get in your gut when you’re surrounded by good food and better people. I’m waiting, rather impatiently, for my 16 month old daughter to grasp the importance of the holiday. So far she’s cried in Santa’s face and tried to choke herself out with a strand of beaded garland – holiday spirit isn’t her forte just yet. Luckily what she lacks in spirit she makes up for in entertainment.


 Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits

This is the first year we’ve decorated a tree with her, gone on evening walks to look at the neighbourhood lights as a family, read books about holiday giving and the importance of generosity, and flicked those twinkling lights that line our tiny tree and doorways on each afternoon as the daylight fades. Having her involved in all our traditions leading up to the big day is so special to us. I can’t wait to leave her notes from Santa like my parents did for us. It’s such a magic time for kids and I want her to feel that twinkle like I did.

We don’t entertain much at our place over the holidays (we entertain a lot the rest of the year so we don’t mind having our place to ourselves) but I do like to be ready on a whim if guests show up unexpectedly. Typically I keep a variety of cured meats, pickled things and cheese on hand since it’s easy to throw together a cheese and charcuterie board with little time to prepare. But I also like to have something special to serve visitors around the holidays. And while sweet things aren’t really my jam, I know my family and friends and husband love a sweet treat here and there. All the elements of this parfait can be done in advance and kept in the fridge for just the right time. The rich brownies draped in boozy vanilla cranberries and layered with real whipped cream might even be what Santa wants left out for him this year. With extra rum on the side please. Pass it on.

 Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits

Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits

Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits
makes 4 servings

This recipe calls for brownies to layer in your parfait. If you have the time, homemade will always taste better (my favourite is a recipe from Alice Medrich) but if not, a brownie mix that you’ve tried and like or from a local shop that you like would work as well.

We played with both the vanilla whipped cream and the limited edition holiday Dark Chocolate Caramel flavour. Both were incredible so use what you can find and what you like.

2 cups whole fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean (1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
2 tbsp dark spiced rum
pinch sea salt
4 cups cubed brownies
1 can Gay Lea Real Whipped Cream in your favourite flavour

For the cranberries; In a small saucepot over medium-high heat, add the cranberries, water, sugar, vanilla bean and rum and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until berries have burst and their juices have evaporated to a jammy texture, about 10-15 minutes. Cool completely.

When ready to serve; Layer small tumblers or dessert dishes with a few cubed up brownie pieces, a large spoonful of the cranberries (feel free to warm slightly to loosen it up), and a thick layer of whipped cream. Repeat once more, saving a few bits of brownie for the top.

AND HEY! Before you go. If you like to win things, Gay Lea has a great campaign going on right now. You could win fresh cookies from their oven to your tummy. Click the photo below for all the details. Happy holidays!

Disclaimer: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Gay Lea, and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

Gathering at the Table

Whole Wheat Fig + Cinnamon Scones

Whole Wheat Fig + Cinnamon Scones

Whole Wheat Fig + Cinnamon Scones

Fall. I wait all year for you. The soothing smell of burning wood that reminds me of my childhood, the crackle of leaves blazing like fire, the lazy soot-coloured sky that dances between day and dusk and the smell of butter, flour and sugar that seems to blanket our neighbourhood as the cool air and holiday season arrives.

We’re fortunate to live in a neighbourhood speckled with incredible bakeries that make taking a short walk impossible to complete without a snack, or at very least, a coffee. But somehow, when the weather turns crisp that smell beckons like never before. It smells like the holidays, like a warm hug, a hot coffee and a scone. That’s what autumn smells like.

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The fall season is usually a bluster of get-togethers for us. Birthdays and Thanksgiving, the return to the indoors and a shift in entertaining. Where the summer offered a laissez-faire attitude towards cooking and hosting, the fall requires a more thought-out approach. A return to planning and organizing, cooking batches when time allows so your valuable time can be spent making memories, telling stories and gathering at the table. These scones are a family favourite in the fall, right at the tail end of fig season. I make the dough and shape them before freezing for easy baking when the doorbell rings unexpectedly. While my favourite scones are usually the denser cream scone, I love the flakiness that butter offers to this sweet and spiced scone. Gay Lea Unsalted butter is one ingredient – cream. Simple. No messing around when it comes to my favourite ingredient.

Whole Wheat Fig + Cinnamon Scones

Whole Wheat Fig + Cinnamon Scones

makes 6-8 large scones

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Gay Lea Unsalted Butter, cubed and cold
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk (dairy or non) or light cream
3/4 cup chopped fresh figs
2-3 tbsp fig preserves (apricot will do in a pinch)
coarse sugar, for garnish
1 whole fig, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.

Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or two forks. It should be a sandy texture with some pea-sized butter pieces remaining. If you feel that the butter is starting to get soft, pop in the freezer for 10 minutes. I like everything to be very cold, this results in the best possible scone.

Whisk together the egg and milk and pour into the flour/butter mixture with the figs. Stir until a loose ball of dough forms. It will be wet in some spots and there will likely be some flour left at the bottom of the bowl. Press the dough against the side of the bowl a few times to get as much dough out as possible. Lightly flour your counter or surface and pat ball of dough into a 9″ circle trying not to overwork. Place into a 10″ skillet and cut like a pizza into 6-8 scones, depending on how many you want and what size. Brush the tops with fig preserves, sprinkle with sugar and tuck a few slices of whole fig around the tops (optional). Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden around the edges and cooked through. Serve with a hot cup of tea or coffee and someone amazing.

Whole Wheat Fig + Cinnamon Scones

Disclaimer: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Gay Lea, and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

Crispy Carnita Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins with Salsa Verde and Manchego

Crispy Carnita Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins with Salsa Verde and Manchego

Fall has barely arrived here in Ottawa and I’m already buried in succulent braises, creamy, gut-hugging soups, slow roasted veggies and way too many apple-cinnamon dessert (if that’s possible?). These incredibly tasty stuffed sweet potato skins throw a nod to my favourite taco fillings from the summer while embracing the slow, hearty flavours that the biting chill in the air has you craving. Unless you have some time off during the weekdays, I’d say this is a weekend recipe since the potatoes and carnitas take a few hours together. But if you go ahead and pre-roast the potatoes and make the carnitas on a Sunday, you’ve got lunch or dinner prepper for the week! Throw a salad or some soup on the side and it’s a big hearty meal.

Crispy Carnita Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins with Salsa Verde and Manchego

Crispy Carnita Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins with Salsa Verde and Manchego
serves 4-6 as appetizer or side

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 3lb pork butt/shoulder, cut into 1″ strips
1 cup 100% orange juice
juice from 1/2 lime
1 tsp salt
3 cups water

Potato Skins
4 small-medium sweet potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
vegetable oil
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp fresh lime juice

Salsa Verde
1 medium avocado, pitted and skin removed
4  large tomatillo (about 1 1/2 cups rough chopped), cleaned and rough chopped
small handful cilantro (approx 1/4 cup chopped)
2 scallions, root ends removed
1 or 1/2 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp salt

Scallions, sliced thin
Manchego cheese
Lime wedges

For the carnitas:
Place the cumin seeds in a large heavy pot (my favourite is an enameled cast iron dutch oven) over medium heat and toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and toasted, about 4-5 minutes. Add the strips of pork, orange and lime juice, salt and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stir well and let sit untouched until liquid has reduced and the fat starts to render (about 1.5hours). If your pork is still pretty tough, add another cup of water or orange juice and let reduce again. At this point, turn the heat up slightly so the fat starts to melt and fry the pork. Cook until the strips of meat are crispy and falling apart. Turn if needed to make sure they don’t burn or stick to the pot. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the sweet potatoes:
Preheat oven to 375.
Rub potato halves down with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place potatoes cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast until tender, approximately  1 hour. This can be done 1 day in advance but be sure to bring your sweet potatoes and filling back to room temperature before you stuff them. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, gently scoop the flesh from each potato into a bowl. Mash with the cilantro and lime juice and taste for seasoning. Add salt if needed. It should be slightly on the acidic side since the salty meat and cheese will be topping it. Keep the oven going so you can heat everything through to serve.

For the Salsa Verde:
place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lime to taste.

To assemble:
Place potatoe skins on a baking sheet. Fill each with an equal amount of the sweet potato/cilantro/lime mixture. Top that with the carnitas and the manchego and pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until potato skins and carnitas are starting to char and crisp around the edges. Remove from the oven, serve with a dollop of salsa verde, fresh cilantro, sliced scallions,