I love oats. Eating them takes me back instantly to my childhood. Sitting around my cousins table, surrounded by people I have so many fantastic memories with.
We would eat it with fresh cream that came from the cows milked earlier that morning. Truly a flavour of my childhood, simple yet transformative. It is amazing how one taste can transport you back to a moment in time as if were yesterday! And a flavour memory I refer back to often.
Looking to do some baking this morning I had oats on my mind. I have an amazing maple bread recipe that I love and have to share soon, but with a bunch of fresh berries in the fridge I thought muffins would be perfect.
Looking for something a bit different for treats this Christmas I have turned to marshmallows. If you haven’t made marshmallows at home you really must give them a try. They are soft and fluffy and melt in your mouth. You can make them any flavour you want and you can even dip them in chocolate! Yes, that’s a thing!
I have some fabulous raspberry syrup that I was inspired by, raspberries are my favorite berry. The flavour takes me back to the hot summer days out on the farm. The spectacular burst of flavour eating sun warmed berries right off the bushes. It is quite amazing how a taste of something as simple as a berry can instantly transport you back in time. Really is there anything better!
You can use any flavouring you like, from cooked down jams with the seeds removed, to espresso powder mixed with a little water to bottled flavourings like vanilla, maple or almond extract. And peppermint is a great seasonal flavouring for Christmas. Don’t forget to add a few drops of food coloring to bump up the eye appeal!
If you like things a bot more tropical be sure to pop over and check out the Toasted Tropical Marshmallows I made a few years ago. They are the next level of marshmallow love.
We recently did an entertaining tasting event at work. Being a produce manager my selection to choose from is quite extensive. There are so many things I could have featured. At a meeting before the event someone had mentioned cranberry sauce. That started the gears in my mind turning. I thought it was a fantastic idea.
So many people automatically reach for the canned cranberry sauce on the shelves they have no idea how easy and flavorful homemade cranberry sauce can be.
The result were show stopping and fabulous! We had people coming back four and 5 times.
By the end of the evening we sampled out over 400 bites and had received rave reviews from everyone.
Because of the volume of samples we presented costs and time available for prep were kept in mind. If I were to make these at an event I hosted in my home I would have chosen phyllo cups as the vehicle for the bites.
This is a three step appetizer so planning ahead is essential.
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup of maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup of water 1 cup granulated sugar
Rinse cranberries and place in a large bowl. Heat syrup or honey and water in a small sauce pan just until warm. Pour the syrup over cranberries when warm. You do not want the syrup too hot as you do not want the cranberries to pop. Allow to cool. Cover and let the berries soak in the refrigerator overnight. Drain cranberries in a colander. Place sugar in a large bowl or baking dish. Add cranberries in small batches and roll around until lightly coated in sugar. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet until dry, 1 to 2 hours. When dry the berries have a nice crunchy candy coating.
Cranberry Sauce 1 bag of cranberries – fresh or frozen 1 cup of mango melon juice 1 cup of sugar 1/4 cup of honey
Place all the ingredients in a small pan. Cook on low – medium heat, stirring occasionally.
As they heat up, the cranberries will pop open. You know the sauce is done when 90 % the berries have split open.
Pour into a bowl to cool.
Sugared Cranberry Bites crackers or phyllo cups
soft spreadable cream cheese cranberry sauce sugared cranberries fresh mint for garnish
Spread the crackers with the cream cheese, add a teaspoon of cranberry sauce, and 4 or 5 sugared cranberries. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.
One of the very first things I experimented with in my early days in the kitchen were perogies. I grew up eating them and knew I had to learn how to make them from scratch.
Perogies are not hard to make but there is a definite learning curve when it comes to good perogy dough. Many of the recipes you find are extremely tough to roll out. It took a lot of recipe experimentation before I finally found a dough that I love to work with.
It is shockingly simple. As it should be.
The love comes in the filling! You can really have fun and do a lot of flavor experimentation when it comes to what you put inside your perogy. From sweet to savory the combinations are endless.
A quick note about why I have made the switch to using organic fruit.
Just over a year ago I had to rush my son who was 10 at the time to the hospital after he had a nectarine as a bed time snack. About 30 minutes after he ate it he came upstairs wheezing badly, extremely flushed and very itchy. Talking with him later, he said his mouth felt itchy after the first bite.
The moment we got to the hospital they whisked him away even before the paperwork had been filled out. He was in full Anaphylactic shock.
Allergy tests were ordered, I assumed it would come back positive for a stone fruit allergy. Negative. The only thing that came back was an allergy to birch trees. Birch trees?
Not sure what to think we just starting being very aware of what he was eating and drinking. He was very good at avoiding all things that contained stone fruit.
Then one day as he was eating green grapes, his mouth began to tingle. That is when we started to experiement and keep track of the fruits he was reacting to. Next to bring on the dreaded mouth tingle was strawberries. At that point he started to only eat fruits with skins that are not consumed, melons, bananas, etc.
One day he had mentioned how much he missed eating strawberries. I started exploring some organic options. In a perfect world I would be able to have a year round garden and grow all my own food. Unfortunately living in Northern Canada that is not an option.
I looked around the grocery stores in Grande Prairie and I have to say, the organic choices are very limited. But I did find some strawberries and was very excited to get them for the boy. He was a bit nervous, the night he had his sever reaction was not far from his thoughts. I assured him that with the fruit being organic he would be fine. And to be honest, I was nervous as well. In my eyes it was the ultimate test if organic was truly organic.
If I remember correctly, he ate the whole tub!
Which was fantastic. Then I started thinking about all the chemicals we were comsuming. Scary. And we would still be comsuming them had Tyler not had that inital reaction.
No matter how much you wash your fruit, how clean you think it is, is it really?
Not willing to take that chance I have started buying only organic fruit.
Defintely food for thought.
For this recipe I used frozen organic blueberries.
2 cups of blueberries – froze or fresh – washed and stemmed
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1/4 water ONLY if using fresh blueberries
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan.
Only use water if you are using fresh blueberries.
Cook over low heat until the blueberries come to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes then remove from heat. Allow to cool before using.
2 cups of sour cream
4 cups of flour
Combine until a dough is formed. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
Separate the perogie dough into two balls. Roll out one piece at a time on a lightly floured surface until it is very thin. Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut out 2 inch circles in the dough.
Brush a little water around the edges of the circles, and spoon some filling into the center. Fold the circles over into half-circles, and pinch edges to seal.
Place perogies on a tea towel lined and floured cookie sheets and freeze.
Once the perogies are frozen place them in freezer bags or cook.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop perogies in one at a time. They are done when they float to the top. Do not over cook as they will split and lose their filling.
I like to toss them with a touch of oil and butter. You can serve them as is, with sour cream, fried bacon and onions or fry the perogies themselves to a nice golden brown.