Category Archives: Desserts, Baking

Desserts, Baking

Carrot Orange Pecan Loaf

I absolutely LOVE this recipe.  I could eat this carrot orange loaf every day.  I created it for my Cafe but have started making it at home on my days off because my kids can’t get enough of it and I love it because it’s LOADED with carrots.  Win win.

If you want it for breakfast it’s AWESOME just sprinkled with brown sugar, BUT if you want to make it more of a dessert (suggestion:  serve it warm with vanilla ice-cream!!!), just mix some icing sugar with fresh squeezed orange juice until it’s a thick spreadable texture and lather the top of the loaf with it once cooled.  Then top with crushed pecans if you want the nuts!  Soooooo good!!!

INGREDIENTS (makes one loaf)

  • 2 cups packed shredded carrot (at home I use a hand-held blender.  At work I just grate the carrot on a cheese grater!).
  • 1 large orange (all zest and juice used) (reserve a little orange juice if making the icing sugar glaze)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil + more for coating loaf tin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (+ more for topping loaf)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup (or as much as you like!) pecans
  • optional:  1/2 tsp almond extract
  • optional:  powdered sugar

METHOD

  • In a large mixing bowl combine orange zest and juice, carrot, egg, milk, oil, vanilla and sugars.  Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl mix together cinnamon, baking soda and powder, salt and flour.
  • Mix wet and dry ingredients.
  • Pour mixture into a WELL OILED loaf tin.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • If NOT using icing sugar glaze, top with crushed pecans and sprinkle a generous amount of brown sugar on top.
  • Bake for 65 – 80 minutes and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • (If glazing, combine orange juice with about a 1/2 cup of icing sugar to desired consistency and spread over cooled loaf. Add crushed pecans immediately before glaze hardens).

Incredible Carrot Muffins

carrot-muffins

I had some carrots that I wanted to use up so I decided to come up with a recipe for carrot muffins.  This recipe turned out GREAT!  I made 16 small muffins today and there are 3 left.  My kids and my husband absolutely LOVE them.  The best part is, because of the natural sweetness of the carrots and orange juice, I didn’t have to use much sugar.  These muffins are LOADED with carrots so they’re healthy and will make the perfect snack for school lunches and something to grab on the way out the door.

I have a feeling I’m going to be making these A LOT!

NOTE ABOUT THE RECIPE:  I used both oil and butter because I like the flavour and moist texture that using both provides.  However, using one or the other would also work!  I LOVE these with coconut sprinkled on top but you could also top them with chopped walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, etc. for a delicious crunch and added healthy fat.  You could also add raisins to the mix!

carrot-muffin-with-walnuts

INGREDIENTS (makes about 16 small muffins)

  • 2 small eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp canola/vegetable oil OR coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5  tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • OPTION:  1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed but any orange juice will do)
  • 3 cups shredded carrot (I use a food processor to shred it but a cheese grater works too)
  • OPTION:  shredded coconut to sprinkle on top!

METHOD

  • Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
  • Using a food processor, cream together butter, oil and sugars.
  • Add vanilla extract and orange juice.  Add eggs.
  • Combine dry and wet ingredients and fold until everything is mixed.
  • Stir in shredded carrot.  Do not over-mix.
  • Fill greased muffin tins to 3/4 full.
  • Sprinkle on shredded coconut or nuts, if using.
  • Bake in 375 degree pre-heated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes before eating (if you can wait that long!).

NOTE:  For more of a ‘dessert’ taste, these are incredible with vanilla cream cheese frosting on top!!

carrot-muffin-with-frosting

The Best Okanagan Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

cobbler

It doesn’t get much better than perfectly ripe fruit at the height of summer.  Of all the summer fruit available in British Columbia in July and August, the local blueberries and Okanagan peaches have to be my two absolute favourites.  I had bought a dozen peaches at the local Farmer’s Market last week and still had a bunch of fresh blueberries in my fridge.  I also had vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, so naturally cobbler came to mind!  I looked up around a half dozen recipes and took what I think is the best parts of all of them, added blueberries and came up with the most delicious cobbler recipe I have ever tried.  I literally ate cobbler and ice-cream for DINNER three nights in a row!  (Don’t judge.  It’s summer and it’s too hot to cook!).  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family did!  I can’t wait to make it again (:

INGREDIENTS

filling

  • 6 cups fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced (I peel them with a vegetable peeler)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen then thawed)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Crumble topping

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup granola (I used almond maple but any kind would work!)
  • MIX TOGETHER:  3 Tbsp white sugar and 1 tsp ground cinnamon

METHOD

  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
  • In large bowl, combine all ‘filling’ ingredients listed above and toss to coat evenly.
  • Pour into a baking dish (NOTE:  choose the size of dish according to how thick you want the filling to be.  I like mine pretty thin because the topping is my favourite part!) and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  • Remove fruit from oven and pour topping evenly oven it.
  • Sprinkle the cobbler with the sugar/cinnamon mixture and bake until topping is golden (about 30 minutes).
  • Let cool for 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy on its own or with iceceam, whipped cream or BOTH!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolatey Zucchini Banana Brownies

brownies

The amount of zucchini growing in my garden right now is ridiculous.  Just about every day I go outside to find a new one the size of my arm.  This is awesome except for one problem – I’m the only one in the family who actually likes zucchini on its own and truth be told, it’s far from my favourite vegetable.  Which leaves me asking myself, ‘what the hell am I going to do with all this zucchini?!’

I’ve come up with some very tasty recipes such as zucchini fritters and a great corn, zucchini and feta salad and I’ve started shredding it and adding it into everything from rice, to quinoa to pasta sauces.

Yesterday I had a few very ripe bananas sitting around that were starting to attract fruit flies so I decided to give a zucchini and banana bread a go.  I knew my eldest (who is 7) wouldn’t eat it unless I added chocolate, so that’s what I did.  I was hoping it would turn out good enough that the kids wouldn’t turn their noses up at it.  To my surprise this recipe turned out better than I could have hoped for!

It’s less of a bread texture and more of a dense, rich, chocolatey, satisfying brownie texture!  I made a whole pan yesterday and the kids had eaten the entire thing by today.  My 5-year-old says it’s the best ‘cake’ he’s ever had, which I’m still in shock over.

This brownie/cake is so moist because of the zucchini and the banana chocolate flavour is wonderful.  There’s so many things you could top this with – whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate or vanilla frosting, peanut butter, caramel, melted chocolate…..  you get the idea.  I wanted to keep it healthy so I just topped mine with fresh strawberries.  The kids enjoyed theirs with left-over chocolate frosting.

I made this in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.  It can easily be cut across one or two times and layered with any of the above mentioned ingredients to make a layered brownie/cake.  I’m thinking for my next one (which I’ll probably make again in a few days!)  I’ll cut this ‘brownie cake’ into 3 and put in a layer of whipped cream, a layer of camel sauce and a topping of chocolate peanut butter frosting.

I love that this is a pretty guilt free recipe because it’s loaded with bananas and zucchini.  A perfect summer dessert!  It’s also great in the morning with a cup of coffee (:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (dark cocoa powder if you want a dark chocolate taste)
  • OPTIONAL:  1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups packed shredded zucchini (no need to drain liquid)
  • 2 medium or 3 small very ripe bananas

METHOD

  • Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and powder and cinnamon in a bowl.
  • Cream together oil, sugars, vanilla and banana.
  • Add eggs one at a time and mix.
  • STIR in shredded zucchini and pour wet mixture into dry mixture.
  • Fold together until everything is mixed.
  • Pour into a greased 9 x 9 inch baking pan.
  • If adding chocolate chips, sprinkle them evenly on top of mixture (or you could stir them right in!)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean.
  • Let cool and enjoy on its own or with your favourite topping!

Healthy Fruit, Nut and Seed Energy Bars

fruit and nut bars 1

We’re all extremely busy and finding the time to eat healthy AND filling food, especially snacks in between meals, isn’t always easy.  Mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon was always when I would reach for a quick carb or sugar fix.  But I was finding that eating this type of food between meals really burned me out and made me feel sluggish.  Now I like to eat bars loaded with nuts, dried fruit and seeds.  These give me tonnes of vitamins and nutrients, fill me up, give me energy and satisfy my sweet tooth all at the same time!  

Most of the bars I see at the store are really expensive and loaded with preservatives and sugar.  The really good ones are better for you, but they cost a fortune.  If I was living alone the cost might be worth it, but I have 2 boys and a husband who are ALWAYS hungry and looking for a quick, convenient snack so we’d go through a $20 box of bars in about 3 days!

These homemade bars are a lot cheaper than store-bought ones.

COST SAVING SUGGESTION:  I recommend buying all  seeds, oats, dried fruit, and nuts from BULK bins.  It’s WAAAAY cheaper than buying pre-packaged items and you have more control over the quantity you’re buying.

These bars, in my opinion, taste WAY better than anything from the store.  They’re a perfect combination of salty and sweet.  They have a great crunch from the nuts and a wonderful chewiness from the fruit.  The coconut oil prevents them from being dry and the almond extract adds just a hint of ‘cherry’ flavour that I LOVE.  

Since there’s no baking involved, it’s really just mixing the dry ingredients with the wet ones, pressing it into a pan, and chilling it.  That’s it!  You can literally make these in under 10 minutes!

These bars are PERFECT to take along on long car rides, hikes, bike rides, park play, etc.  or just to grab and eat on your way out the door.  The best part is, my kids love them as much as I do and actually consider them a ‘treat’.  I even give them to them for dessert!

NOTE:  If you don’t like/have something, simply substitute it for something you DO have/like or just add more of another ingredient instead.  I used mixed nuts because I always have a container of them on hand.  Same with the dried fruit.  I like as many flavours in these bars as possible but you can always use just one kind of nut/dried fruit….  Have fun with these and switch up the fruit and nuts for different flavour combinations!

INGREDIENTS 

DRY

  • 1 Tbsp flaxseeds
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/8 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 dates – chopped into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup puffed rice (I used Rice Krispies)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup mixed, unsalted nuts – chopped (cashews, almonds, macadamias, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, etc….)

WET

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil

METHOD

  • Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • In a saucepan, combine all the ‘wet’ ingredients and heat over low heat, stirring often, until the peanut butter until everything is combined.  Around 2 – 3 minutes.
  • pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and fold together using a spatula until all the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
  • Using a wax/parchment paper lined baking pan (around 7×7″ – 9×9″ in size), spread the mixture evenly and press down firmly until the mix is even and condensed into the pan.
  • NOTE:  taking the time to press firmly and evenly all over the mixture is important so they don’t fall apart when you cut them.  You want to condense the bars as much as possible.  I put a piece of wax paper on top and then use a bag of rice or other weight on top while it’s chilling.
  • Put in fridge and chill for at least 1 hour before removing parchment paper from the pan and cutting the block into whatever sized bars you want.
  • Store in an air tight container in the fridge or at room temperature.

fruit and nut bars

 

 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

carrot cake - cut in half

I don’t post many of my dessert recipes because although they’re delicious, they’re not anything that different from the other ten thousand recipes already on the Internet.  This carrot cake, however, is truly wonderful and I haven’t found another recipe that gives me quite the same amazing flavour and perfectly moist texture, so I feel like this one is well worth sharing.

I have adjusted the spices to, what I feel, is perfection.  The addition of the fresh ginger really elevates the flavour of this cake.  I used half regular sugar and half brown sugar because I really like the depth of flavour that the brown sugar adds.  In my frosting recipe I only use about half the sugar that the ‘typical’ cream cheese frosting recipe calls for because I just don’t think this cake needs super sweet frosting.  However, if you like your frosting really sweet, simply add another cup of sugar (:

NOTE:  This is a 2-layer cake.  If you just want a smaller 1-layer cake, half the recipe’s measurements and only use ONE pan.  I would recommend making the same amount of frosting and freezing whatever you have left-over.

carrot cake - uncut

INGREDIENTS

dry ingredients:

  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

wet ingredients:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/8 cup vegetable/canola oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cup shredded carrot (use a hand-held blender or cheese grater to shred)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup softened cream cheese
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar (3 cups if you like it sweeter)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  • Mix the dry ingredients together.
  • Cream the sugar(s), eggs and vanilla until whipped and fluffy.
  • Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  • Add the ginger and carrot and stir until combined.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Grease TWO 9″ round or square pans and pour mixture evenly into both.
  • Bake cake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out ‘clean’ when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  • Let cool completely.

carrot cake - before frosting

  • While cake is cooling, make the frosting by creaming the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla and combine.
  • Add the sugar and whip for a few minutes more.  NOTE:  The longer you whip it, the lighter and fluffier it will become.
  • Frost one layer of the cake then add the second layer and frost.

carrot cake - in casing

carrot cake - cash stealing some

 

 

 

OMG Double Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Caramel and Pretzel Bars with Sea Salt

chocolate peanut butter bars

I’ve always preferred to cook savoury foods as opposed to sweet ones.  Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE sweets.  Especially anything with chocolate.  I’ve just never experimented much with baking and/or dessert.  I tend to stick with the classics and prefer to buy anything that’s at all complicated to make.

However, this year I decided to  participate in a cookie/baked goods exchange since my entire family will be at my place for the holidays and this was a perfect way to have a variety of different holiday treats on hand with minimal work and without spending a fortune by buying everything at the store.

I decided if I was going to do this ‘holiday baking’ thing, I was gonna damn well do it right.  My fantasy was to create something that had EVERYTHING I’ve ever wanted in one bite.  Buttery graham cracker crust, soft, rich chocolate, creamy fluffy peanut butter, crunchy pretzels, Rice Krispies and toffee and of course, gooey caramel and sea salt.  AH-MAZING.

These turned out better than I ever could have imagined.  By far my best ‘dessert achievement’. EVER.  I’m OBSESSED with these things.  They are everything I could have ever dreamed of in a dessert bar and more.  This will now officially and forever more be a holiday tradition in my house.  I have a feeling I’ll be breaking out the stretchy pants this year….

WARNING:  It’s nearly impossible to eat just one/three and they’re just as good straight out of the freezer…. Proceed with caution!

chocolate bars with salt

INGREDIENTS (makes 24 – 60+ bars depending on what size you want to cut them)

Graham cracker layer:

  • 2.5 cups honey graham cracker crumbs (or regular graham cracker crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, melted butter

Bottom chocolate layer:

  • 1 cup milk chocolate melting wafers (or chocolate chips or any chocolate YOU like)
  • 2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter

Peanut butter and pretzel layer:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups pretzels, crushed up into smaller pieces

Caramel, peanut and Rice Krispies layer:

  • 1 – cup caramel sauce 
  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup salted peanuts
  • OPTIONAL:  3/4 cup Rice Krispies cereal
  • NOTE:  you could just use 1 cup of peanuts OR 1 cup of Rice Krispies for kids who don’t like nuts, but I used both!

Top chocolate layer:

  • 1 1/4 cup milk chocolate melting wafers (or whatever chocolate you like)
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

Topping:

  • 1/4 tsp flaked sea salt
  • OPTIONAL:  1/3 cup Hershey’s toffee bits

METHOD:

  • Using a 13″ x 10″ pan, line with foil and spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Melt butter and mix with graham cracker crumbs.  Press crumbs evenly onto foil and chill in freezer for 15 minutes.
  • While graham cracker is in freezer, place a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Melt the milk chocolate and peanut butter, stirring until smooth.  Spread evenly over graham cracker crust.  Chill in freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Using a stand or hand-held mixer, beat peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.  Spread over chocolate layer.
  • Spread crushed pretzels evenly over peanut butter layer and press into the mixture a bit.

bars with pretzels

  • Make caramel sauce according to recipe directions and immediately spread/drizzle on top of pretzels.
  • Top with peanuts and/or Rice Krispies and press into caramel a bit.  Chill in freezer for 15 minutes.

bars with rice krispies use

  • Melt the 2nd chocolate and peanut butter layer the same way you did the first chocolate/peanut butter layer.  Pour on top of caramel.
  • Add toffee bits, if using and sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Allow bars to chill in fridge for at least 1 hour before slicing.
  • NOTE:  DO NOT try to slice the bars at room temperature because the peanut butter will have softened and the bars will become messy and squishy.

bars finished in pan

Bars will become soft if left at room temperature.  They are best if stored in the fridge and served immediately or within 10 minutes of coming out of fridge.

chocolate peanut butter bars

 

 

 

 

 

Gooey Chewy Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

 

cookies cookies cookies

chocolate chunk oatmeal

I really like these oatmeal cookies a LOT.  I love the slight chewiness.  I love how they’re soft on the inside and a little crispy around the edges; and of course, I love the gooey, melty chocolate.  I’ve made these using several different ingredients added and they’re delicious every way I’ve made them.  Sometimes I add some walnuts.  Other times I press a big, tart dried cherry right into the centre of each cookie (that’s what I did this time).  My son likes them with raisins.  I like them with a mix of dark and milk chocolate chunks.  No matter what you put in there, they are damn good.  This is a recipe I will be using forever (:

INGREDIENTS (yields 16 – 20 cookies)

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter – room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks (or chips) – I used semi-sweet chocolate

cookies in tin

METHOD

  • Using a hand-held blender or a food processor/mixer, cream together butter and sugar(s).  Add the egg and mix in.  Add vanilla and almond extract and mix in.
  • Mix all other dry ingredients (except chocolate) in a bowl.
  • Fold in wet ingredients and stir until just mixed.
  • Add 3/4 of the chocolate and fold into dough.
  • Form balls and place on greased baking sheet.  Flatten the balls slightly.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Add the remaining chocolate chips/chunks to the tops of the cookies.
  • Bake in oven for 10 – 12 minutes (10 minutes for softer cookies and up to 12 minutes for slightly firmer cookies).
  • Allow to cool for 8 minutes or so before serving or the cookies may fall apart.

cookies on pan

NOTE:  This mix can be made ahead and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!  I like to bake the cookies a few at a time.  They are best served warm and gooey!

oatmeal cookies

Autumn Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice-cream

autumn apple crisp with vanilla ice-cream and caramel sauce

autumn apple crisp with vanilla ice-cream and caramel sauce

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m actually kind of tired of chocolate!  This has literally never happened before.  Ever since Halloween I’ve been consuming between 2 to 4 portions of chocolate a day.  I was hung over on Saturday (those girls nights are always rough the next day.  lol) and instead of drinking lots of water and eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies like I should have, I gave into my cravings and ate nothing but left-over pizza and mini-chocolate bars ALL DAY.  I must have gone through about 30 chocolates.

SO, on Sunday when my kids asked if they could please have something ‘other than Halloween treats’ for dessert I was happy to oblige.  As I had just bought vanilla ice cream and had left-over homemade caramel sauce in the fridge, a warm, cinnamon scented apple crisp immediately came to mind.

I’m actually pretty picky when it comes to apple crisp.  It has to have the perfect ratio of topping to apples.   I don’t like the apples to be so cooked that they’re just mush.  I like a little ‘bite’ to them.  I have to have flavour and texture all through the crisp and not just on the top of it.

Below is my and my family’s absolute favourite autumn apple crisp recipe, served with vanilla ice-cream, of course!

NOTE:  I used the apples I already had in the fridge – 1 Granny Smith, 2 Spartan’s and a Gala!  Use your favourite apples.  You can use one kind or a variety of different kinds (:

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 large portions or 6 regular/small ones)

TOPPING:

  • 4 apples (4 cups) – cored, peeled and diced into large bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cold butter

COATING THE APPLES:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

METHOD

  • Mix together all the ingredients, except the butter, listed under ‘topping’.
  • Chop up the COLD butter into tiny pieces then mix into dry ingredients breaking up butter into even smaller bits until it’s mixed evenly throughout.
  • Peel, core and dice the apples then toss them in all the ingredients under ‘coating the apples’.
  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Grease a baking dish lightly with butter.  NOTE:  I used an 8 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ glass baking dish so I could add the apples in 2 layers but any sized baking dish would work.
  • Spread half the apples into the baking dish.
  • Add about 1/3 of the topping mix onto the apples.
  • Add the other half of the apples and top with the remaining topping.
  • Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the top of the crumble is browned.
  • Let sit for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

This is best served warm with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream.

SUGGESTION:  drizzle a little maple syrup or caramel sauce on top!

apple crisp with icecream in glasses

 

 

 

 

Cherry Coconut Cashew Bars with Dark Chocolate

cherry coconut cashew energy bars with dark chocolate

cherry coconut cashew energy bars with dark chocolate

Granola bars and/or energy bars I have bought in the past have always been loaded with additives and other things I don’t want.  They’re also either too dry, too crunchy, too sweet or have too much fat and calories.  The few that I do like are REALLY expensive.  So a while back I decided to try my hand at making my own.  I figured it would be really easy.  It wasn’t.  I tried a LOT of different recipes and although some of them were good, I didn’t find anything that was great.  Some of them were too dry and fell apart.  Others were too chewy and dense.  The list goes on and on.   I decided to use a few different recipes as a guideline to get the ratio of ingredients right so that my bars would be the consistency I wanted, but I made up my own recipe based on my favourite things (I’ll eat ANYTHING with cherries and dark chocolate!!).

After making this recipe FIVE times, I have finally come up with what I feel is the perfect amount of each ingredient.  The wonderful thing about this recipe is how you can simply substitute one thing for an equal amount of another to customize it.  For instance, you could use almonds or peanuts instead of cashews.  You could use almond or cashew butter in place of peanut butter.  You could use sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds instead of coconut.  You could use milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate.  You could even use cranberries instead of cherries…  You get the idea.

Now that I have the ratios down, I will be experimenting with all kinds of amazing flavour combinations!  (I already tried the recipe with dried blueberries and almonds instead of cashews and cherries and it was amazing).

MONEY SAVING TIP:  Some of the ingredients can be quite expensive (nuts, dried cherries, coconut, etc).  I always recommend buying any ingredients possible from the bulk bins to save LOTS of money.  My dry storage is now filled with jars of assorted nuts, dried fruit, seeds, chocolate chips and other ingredients I can ‘play with’!

I have been eating a LOT more nuts, seeds and oats lately and it’s been amazing.  I find that I’m snacking much less on sugary or carb heavy foods and the protein and fibre from the nuts and seeds keeps me full for hours.  I always grab a small energy bar or just a handful of nuts before a workout and I’ve been performing better than ever.

I’m not going to be turning into a gluten-free vegan any time soon but incorporating all these natural, super healthy ingredients into my diet is definitely becoming part of my lifestyle as opposed to a fad.

The below bars are my favourite flavour combination yet.  I’m obsessed with the mix of cashews, coconut, cherry and dark chocolate!!  SO GOOD.  I hope you, and your family, enjoy these as much as mine does!

*Anywhere you can afford to use natural, organic ingredients, I always recommend it.  However, it can increase the cost significantly so it’s completely up to you.  One of the main reasons to make your  own bars, after all, is to save money.

INGREDIENTS (makes 16 square bars)

DRY

  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup puffed rice (you could use brown puffed rice.  I used Rice Krispies)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted cashews – rough chop
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (use less if you want to make them even healthier)
  • 3/4 cup tart dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 tsp salt

WET

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (natural peanut butter is recommended)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

METHOD

  • Heat ‘wet’ ingredients and the salt over low heat in a pot until smooth and combined.  Around 2 minutes.
  • Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl (except chocolate chips unless you want the chocolate to melt).  It’s great both ways.
  • NOTE:  If you want the chocolate to melt all the way through, add the chocolate into the mix before you add the wet ingredients.  If you want to have chocolate chips throughout, LEAVE THE CHOCOLATE CHIPS OUT OF THE MIX UNTIL AFTER YOU ADD THE WET INGREDIENTS TO THE DRY INGREDIENTS.  (Otherwise the warm peanut butter mixture will melt the chocolate.  I learned this the hard way).
pouring wet ingredients into dry ingredients

pouring wet ingredients into dry ingredients

  • Pour wet ingredients from the pot into the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix to combine (I use my hands to do this).  Once it’s cooled down a bit you can add the chocolate chips.
  • Line a baking pan/dish with parchment or wax paper and spray with Pam cooking spray (or use a little canola oil).
  • Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan.
energy bars pressed into pan

energy bars pressed into pan

  • Refrigerate  for at least ONE HOUR.
  • Carefully lift parchment/wax paper out of pan and onto cutting board.
  • Cut into bars in whatever size or shape you wish.
energy bars cut into squares

energy bars cut into squares

  • Store in an air-tight container at room temperature with parchment paper separating pieces so they don’t stick together.

energy bars