Recipe: Pear Pecan Muffins

pear pecan muffins

We have had a real actual honest to goodness week off! It has been amazing. Sexy Husband closed the Studio. I’ve barely cooked or done a thing. We’ve played in the snow, gone out for coffee, and celebrated 2 new babies to join our circle of friends(the Village). Honestly, it’s been amazing.

Today, however, it felt like a muffin day. So Picky Princess and I whipped up this little recipe. The muffins turned out perfectly. The pecans and pears tasted nutty and wintery. If it’s a muffin day for you…try them out!

Pear Pecan Muffins

Makes 12 large muffins plus 6 mini muffins

1.5 cups spelt flour

1/2 cup oats

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup almond oil(I’m sure you could substitute with olive oil. My mom gave me this almond oil for Christmas and it smells amazing!)

1 egg

1 pear coarsely shredded

1/2 cup chopped pecans

brown sugar for sprinkling.

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients together with a whisk. Set aside. Mix wet ingredients together, including pear. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until not quite combined. Add pecans and stir just a few turns more. Scoop into paper or silicone muffin cups. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes (about 15 for mini muffins). Serve warm!

"don't take my picture mommy, I'm concentrating!"

Recipe: White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake

White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake

I’m not really sure how it happened, but cheesecake has become a deep Christmas tradition in my house. I think it’s actually become my favorite Christmas tradition. Maybe not the cheesecake itself(although what’s not to love about cheesecake?), but the event the cheesecake is for. ¬†Christmas Eve, after the church service, which Sexy Husband produces and sings at, we come home for soup and cheesecake. Every year we invite our friends who don’t have family around to join us. Each year it’s a slightly different group of people, usually some old friends, usually some new friends. It’s always special, always wonderful. Soup is the perfect meal because I just make a giant giant pot. If it gets eaten great, if not, then we have it for the week. And cheesecake is great because a little goes a long way, serving lots of people. No work for anyone.

I have made a lot of cheesecake in my life and this recipe is SO versatile. The basic formula of 2 bricks of cream cheese + 1 cup of sugar + 3 eggs, works with almost any flavor. You can add cocoa or melted chocolate to make chocolate cheesecake, you can add a bit of egg nog and a pinch of nutmeg to make egg nog cheesecake. For this I decreased the sugar and added some melted white chocolate. Right now I’m baking cinnamon cheesecake, using brown sugar instead of white and adding a couple of tbs of cinnamon. Be creative!

White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, process about 32 gingersnap cookies, with 1/4 cup melted butter. I used gingersnap for a festive taste but you can swap for chocolate cookie crumbs or graham crumbs. Press into the bottom of a spring form pan and bake for 10 minutes, until starting to turn golden. Remove from oven and decrease temperature to 325.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 2 bricks of cream cheese with about 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Decrease the sugar if you are using sweet additions like melted chocolate or caramel. Add in 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition and scraping down the bowl. In this recipe I added 1/2 bag of melted white chocolate chips. Pour into pan and bake for about 45 minutes until the top is set but still slightly wobbly. If you overcook it will crack a bit, which is not really that big of a deal because you’re going to top it.

In a small saucepan, heat 3 cups of cranberries with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup water. Simmer until it is thickened and reduced and bubbly. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour on top of the cheesecake and serve! This is yummy with the cranberry sauce warm, or chilled.

Thoughts On: Merry Christmas

Hello Friends!

Just wanted to take a minute to wish you all a very merry Christmas. The next few days are busy for us and and everyone else! I don’t anticipate a lot of blogging time. I hope that you all find peace and joy this time of year. I hope you have ample quality time with the people you love. I hope you eat delicious and healthy food. I hope you find a minute or two to reflect with gratitude on how the blessings in our life give us momentum, and how the hard times help us focus.

I am making a few cheesecakes for Christmas Eve and hope to post them tomorrow. Otherwise, I’ll be back in a few days!

Merry Christmas!

Recipe: Mango Snack Cake

Mango Snack Cake

All summer I try very hard to buy as much local and organic produce as possible. I know, because I’ve read of people who have done it, that it’s possible to eat local all year here in the prairies, but I’m not quite hardcore enough for that. So when the local produce is gone we enjoy some of the less common tropical fruits available! Usually I can still find them organically grown, but if not, still better to eat lots of produce, than no produce!

This week at the Farmer’s Market, there was a sale on organic mangoes from Mexico. I bought quite a few and we’ve been enjoying them. Crazy to think that a mango is a more common fruit around the world than the apple is! Picky Princess and Foodie Baby love mangoes, so we went mango crazy this week!

Today Picky Princess and I whipped up this little cake recipe. It is healthy and delicious and makes a nice cold wintery afternoon snack. Truth be told, SHE made this cake. I helped by cracking an egg, measuring honey, and turning on the oven. In no time, she’ll be doing this without me! (sniff. sob. tear.)

It is easy and delicious, try it! ¬†***little note, it was just a snack for us, so it only makes one loaf pan size, so if you want more of it, I’m sure you could double it and put it in an 8×8 cake pan.***

Mango Snack Cake

1 cup spelt flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 cup chopped mango (about one large mango)

Directions: whisk together dry ingredients. set aside. Preheat oven to 350. Mix wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry and stir until just combined. Add mangoes and stir a bit more. Pour into pan and bake until set and browning at the edges, about 45 mins!

Foodie Baby having a snack

Favorite Things: Abeego

Abeego reusable wraps

Abeego is the coolest product! Have you ever heard of it? I definitely had NOT heard of it until Kristy-Anne gave it to me for my birthday. And it rocks my kitchen. Abeego is hemp and cotton fibres coated with beeswax and other natural products to make it a reusable non-plastic wrap for food. You wrap it on stuff like you would saran wrap, it kind of just sticks to itself to keep shape, and when you’re done, wash it in cold soapy water and reuse! It’s definitely my newest greenest discovery. The pack KA gave me came in 3 sizes. The smallest is wrapped around half an avocado, the medium one is wrapped around a block of cheese, and the biggest one I pinched into pocket and is holding half a loaf of bread. Amazing stuff.

If you’re looking for green kitchen tools, it’s not too late to ask Santa for some Abeego!

Local Fare: Purple Perk

Purple Perk

Sexy Husband and I were musing the other, that this is the first December in many many years, that he has not been on tour. Usually I can count on one hand how many days he is home in December. But this year, with the Studio in full force, he turned down gigs, for home. How wonderful! Yet even though he is home waaay more this month than usual, for some reason, it still just feels like life is SO busy and we have to be extremely productive for all 18hours of the day we are awake, to keep on top of things. Not good. Our conclusion is that time is like money, in that if you make more money, you always find a way to spend more money and feel like there’s not enough of it. If you have more time, very rarely do we manage it so well as to include enough time for reflection and pause.

And reflection and pause is so important. We need to stop, and breathe, and dream, and remind ourselves why we do it all, and who we are. And so we did that this week, 2 perfect hours of peace and pause. We confided in each other, dreamed some of the same dreams that always come up over coffee and breakfast, encouraged each other and enjoyed each other’s company.

This is all much easier to do when you have a special place that you love, that provides an atmosphere for just this dreaming and being. For us, this place is Purple Perk, downtown Calgary. There are many great coffee shops in Calgary, and lots of great places to eat. But there is something about Purple Perk that is special to us. It’s where we take our nearest and dearest. It’s where we escape to. Sexy Husband and I have our routine down to a fine art. It’s always full except our one table, waiting for us. We order the exact same thing(he gets this but I eat that of his, I get that but he eats this of mine). The food is delicious, the raspberry scones are like no other, the staff are amazing and know my girls by name. The coffee is absolutely delicious. I don’t know anything about it, which is unlike me, and for whatever reason, I don’t give two figs what sub-region of which sub-equatorial country the beans are from. I just know I love it.

The atmosphere is fun too. There’s always the usual crowd: one table of hipsters with their oversized headphones and Mac’s, one table of suits from the downtown corporate scene, one table of seniors – regulars, business meetings beside lululemon mommies. A little something for everyone!

If you are in Calgary, go check out this happy little place, the heart of Mission on 4th St.

It’s time my friends. Time for pause, breath and reflection.

check out the $8.95 cup of coffee

world's best raspberry white chocolate scones

Recipe: Christmas Bark

christmas bark

I live to plan. No seriously, I LIVE to plan. I love to plan ahead, I have my girls next five birthday parties already planned out, I know what kind of cheesecake I’ll be making for Christmas dinner NEXT year, and I’m already slightly annoyed about how much spring cleaning has to be done this spring – MONTHS away. It’s just what I do. But I have learned, (slowly because I never planned to have to learn it), that spontaneity is ok. In fact, it might almost sometimes maybe perchance be fun. Christmas seems to be a bit of a time for spontaneous entertaining(the fun kind). Friends drop by, family invites you over, and even for someone who plans waaaaay ahead for everything, there is the odd time I am scrambling to whip up a dessert, or snack without a lot of forethought or prepped groceries. This recipe is utterly and completely simple. It requires as little as 2 ingredients. It forced me to wash one bowl and one spatula. It takes almost zero minutes to make. So I thought I’d share this yummy little treat with you so that if you get caught in a last minute spontaneous holiday cheer moment, you would still have something fabulous to make!

I do also feel that, in the spirit of generosity at Christmas, I need to share with you something that I’m pretty sure NONE of you know about me. I love marshmallows. No, you don’t even understand. I LOVE marshmallows. If I had to pick only one sweet thing to snack on for the rest of my life, it would be marshmallows. There. You have it. I’m like a 5 year old. Don’t judge.

Christmas Bark

1 bag of chocolate chips

add ins

Directions: in a microwave safe bowl(you all know never to microwave anything plastic right?), melt the chocolate chips. I definitely prefer dark chocolate, but do what you like. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between so chocolate doesn’t burn. Usually takes 1.5mins. Line a 8×8 cake pan with parchment or wax paper, so that there is overhang for easy removal. Pour chocolate onto paper and smooth around the bottom of the pan. Dump the add ins onto the melted chocolate. Here I used a couple of handfuls of marshmallows, a handful of pecans, and a handful of Christmasy M&Ms. Press in slightly to chocolate. Refrigerate until set(or freeze if you’re in a super big hurry). Pull parchment and bark out of pan. Use a large knife and cut into small squares. Voila.

Ideas:

White chocolate and cranberries and almonds

White chocolate and candy canes crumbled

Dark chocolate and 1tsp peppermint extract with peppermint patties

Milk Chocolate and toffee pieces

Milk chocolate and a variety of nuts

Dark chocolate and a sprinkling of fleur de sel

Dark chocolate and dried cherries and almonds

Milk chocolate and coconut flakes

Milk chocolate and rice crispies

Dark chocolate and peanut butter cups

The options are endless, which is why it’s so great. Use what you have!

Recipe: Roasted Kale with Pumpernickel Croutons

Roasted Kale with Pumpernickel Croutons

Continuing along on my attempts to come up with some healthy alternatives to some of the typical holiday dishes, I wanted to try something that could replace stuffing. I’m not saying that anything in life really REPLACES stuffing, but instead of a high fat, high carb, high salt dish, this is a delicious and easy alternative. If you don’t want to replace your traditional stuffing(because you’re not insane), then this makes a great recipe for a vegetarian side dish! I think I’m going to take this one to next week’s first Christmas party of the season!

Roasted Kale with Pumpernickel Croutons

Directions: Remove spines and chop a whole head of kale into medium sized pieces. Place in a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Add a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, some crumbled feta, sliced almonds and set aside. Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, place half a loaf of pumpernickel bread, chopped into crouton sized pieces. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and a dash of sea salt. The bread will really soak these things up, so stir until you feel like most pieces of bread have some oil and vinegar soaked into them. Add them to the kale. Squeeze half a lemon over the kale and roast until mostly crisp, about 45 minutes.

Think Fresh: Sushi

Mmmmm Sushi! We love sushi with a capital L-O-V-E. Foodie Baby and Picky Princess can out-sashimi Sexy Husband any day. I’m a vegetable only sushi kind of girl, which I know isn’t technically real sushi, but nevertheless, sushi is an easy, healthy, vegetarian(my way) meal. I have some friends who lived in Nashville for a while and they said they could both binge on great sushi in Nashville for $12. That’s pretty incredible. I think of it as a pretty cheap night out because we can feed our family of 4 sushi lovers for under $40.

BUT…Sushi is a really fun and easy thing to make at home! It seems intimidating and involved, but it’s really not and I am going to show you how. It is so delicious fresh, you can fill it with all sorts of things, and you will definitely impress your guests. This is also a really easy meal to have your kids help you with!

Here is your step by step how to:

make the rice

1. Make the Rice – I use a rice cooker, but of course you can do it in a pot. In these pictures, I used white sushi rice. You can buy brown sushi rice which also tastes great. You cannot use regular rice because it doesn’t stick. I did just see a recipe for quinoa sushi somewhere, so give that a try too! You want to make the rice and then put it in a bowl so that it cools down enough that you can touch it without burning your fingers.

prep the veg

2. Prep the vegetables – thinly slice long pieces of cucumber, red pepper, and avocado, or any other things you’d like to put in the middle. Shredded carrots are nice in vegetarian rolls as well. Set aside.

set it up

3. Set it up. Place a bamboo sushi roller(super cheap from almost any grocery or kitchen store) on the counter and place one sheet of seaweed on the roller. With your hands sprinkle some rice on the sushi wrapper and press it down. You want to not make it very thick but you do want to cover most of the seaweed. If you make it too thick, the pieces are hard to eat in one bite. I like to leave a little spare space of seaweed at the end because it makes it easier to seal. At the bottom of the sushi roll, line up the vegetables. Using the roller, tightly roll up the seaweed. Set aside the roll. Repeat with all your ingredients.

rolls

4. Once you have rolls, use a serrated knife and GENTLY saw back and forth through the sushi. Each roll should be cut into about 10 pieces. This makes them bite-size. Place them on a platter. You can eat the ugly end pieces as a snack.

voila

Tip: Usually I make 2 cups of sushi rice. This equals about 10 rolls which is a LOT, but usually I make it as a snack for a group of people. Yesterday I made 1.5 cups of sushi rice and it was about 6 rolls which was an entire dinner for the 4 of us.

There you have it. How to Make Sushi!

Cookbook: Production Update

Kristy-Anne and I met this week to go through and do an initial edit of the cookbook images. I haven’t seen most of them since they were actually taken when we did the final cooking of the recipes, mostly last spring, and I was totally stunned by how beautiful all the images are. I LOVE them. Fig&Fennel is going to be full of beautiful images of delicious healthy food. And it’s coming along! Once the chosen images are edited, I’ll start the graphic design part of the cookbook and from there we’ll decide if any other recipes need to be added, any blog favorites, and hopefully, we’ll have it out, at least for sale locally, sometime in the spring.

So there you have it. Cookbook Update.

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 91 other followers