Chewy Coconut Granola Bars with Sprinkles

IMG_3788.JPGI made these on a whim today with my 3 year old. Everything has to have sprinkles on it so of course…sprinkles it is all over these tasty bars! I used PC brand Natural Smooth Peanut Butter but you can use any kind of peanut butter you like. Comment below if you try them out!

Chewy Coconut Granola Bars with Sprinkles

  • Makes about 20 bars (depending on how big you cut them)
  • Active time: 20 min
  • Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup nuts (pecans, cashews or almonds)- I used cashews
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan melt together the coconut oil, honey, peanut or almond butter, salt and ginger stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the oats, coconut, nuts and chocolate chips. Pour the warm coconut oil mixture over the oats and stir together to combine.
  3. Pour mixture into a parchment-lined 9 x 13 inch baking dish and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with extra coconut, mini chocolate chips and sprinkles if desired. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
  4. Use the parchment to remove the bar from the dish and cut into squares or bars. Store bars, separated with parchment, in the fridge. Can be stored for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!

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Food Bloggers of Canada Featured Member!

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Hi all!

I am super thrilled to be a featured member on the Food Bloggers of Canada website! If you haven’t had a chance to check out my interview with FBC you may do so here:

http://www.foodbloggersofcanada.com/2016/08/fbc-featured-member-books-love-and-lattes/#comment-154906

For those of your who are unfamiliar with FBC, check out their website at foodbloggersofcanada.com. I have been a proud member for a couple months now. When I first started to blog, I really didn’t know where to start and what to do. I knew I wanted to write about cookbooks and food as it was my passion so I turned to FBC for help. They provide a network of other food writers throughout Canada and much inspiration may I add for creating my own blog.  They also have a ton of resources for food bloggers like myself.

A huge thank you to FBC for this wonderful feature!

Much love! Xo

 

 

 

“Sugar” By Anna Olson Cookbook Review

I absolutely love Anna Olson. I used to watch her religiously prior to Food Network changing the programming. She used to be on regularly in the mornings and I would always be looking up the recipes she recreated on her shows. I also was lucky enough to meet her in person a couple years back at a Food show in Toronto and she is one of the most down to earth, friendly chefs I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

“Sugar” is one of Olson’s older books but I have to say it is definitely a keeper. The beginning of the book takes us to a variety of baking basics including ingredients, tools and techniques. If you’re a frequent baker, stuff you likely already know. Chapters are divided into the following:

  • Fruit
  • Citrus
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Other Flavours

Each chapter includes subheadings with various ingredients from that particular chapter making it simple to locate a particular recipe you may be interested in.

The Recipes

The recipes are simple enough for the beginner baker. Ingredients are listed in order of use and are not overly long. Directions are easy to follow and for some recipes, variations are also included. Most recipes include side notes with tips and tricks that I found to be very helpful and super interesting. Also included are storage guidelines for some recipes. The only downside is lack of pictures throughout the book. I love pictures of every recipe. For me, pictures are what inspire me to recreate the recipe. She does include a few but definitely not enough in my opinion.

I managed to recreate the Mocha Bites on page 174. Lets just say I have already made them twice! These cookies are perfect with coffee and are SO EASY to make on a whim. I have a 2 year old at home and currently 9 months pregnant and let me tell you…anyone can quickly whip these up if company is coming last minute! They have a similar texture and taste to shortbread and a good amount of coffee in each bite.

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Mocha Bites

Makes 2 to 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup/ 250mL unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup/ 125mL icing sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup/ 50mL espresso
  • 4 tsp/ 20mL vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups/ 550mL all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup/ 50 mL cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp/ 1mL salt
  • Sugar for coating

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (160 C). Cream together butter and icing sugar until smooth. Stir in espresso and vanilla. Sift in all purpose flour, cocoa and salt and mix until dough comes together. Turn dough onto a board lightly dusted with icing sugar. Divide dough in half and shape into logs. Slice dough on an angle in ½-inch (1-cm) slices. Place cookies upright on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 min.
  2. While warm, toss cookies gently, two at a time, in sugar and allow to cool.

NOTES:

  • If you don’t have an espresso maker at home, purchase a shot of espresso at your neighbourhood coffee shop.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this cookbook and it will definitely be one I go back to often. I do wish there were more pictures but..I guess that means we have to use our imagination!

A big thank you to Whitecap books for generously sending over a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You can purchase “Sugar” by Anna Olson at Amazon.ca for the current price of $20.86 CAN (Price is subject to change)

Cooking Around the World Blog Tour: 3 Cookbook Reviews

When I was asked to participate in the Cooking Around the World Blog Tour, I was absolutely thrilled! I love culture and food and the two together and I love experiencing new and different things. My husband and I used to be avid travelers until we became parents 2 years ago. The most adventure we have now is once a month, heading out to a local Toronto restaurant and experiencing local food. I mean, its not terribly bad but nothing beats getting on a plane of course. Cooking from these wonderful cookbooks gave me the opportunity to bring the countries to us. Read on as I reviewed 3 beautiful cookbooks and traveled to France, The Caribbean and Croatia right from my home and filled my kitchen with the smells of authentic food from these great countries!

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“The South of France Cookbook” by Nina Parker

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Author Nina Parker takes us to the beautiful beaches of St. Tropez and all the local wonderful food it has to offer. With strong, fresh flavors of Provencal cuisine, Nina shows us her take on classic recipes from the South of France.

The pictures in this cookbook are just beautiful. With a mix of local pictures around St.Tropez and the beautiful food photography by Paul Winch-Furness, I truly felt like I was right there in St. Tropez feeling the warm sun on my back, munching on some tasty food at a local restaurant.

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The book is divided into the following chapters:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Teatime
  • Drinks & Canapés
  • Dinner
  • Dessert

Each chapter begins with a chat of Nina’s adventures in St. Tropez and how it relates to the coming chapter. Each recipe also begins with a fun little description of the origins of the particular recipe. Ingredients are listed in order of use and directions are simple to follow. Most ingredients are readily available at your local supermarket.

I recreated the Ramatuelle Bioche and boy was I ever impressed! It was perfectly flakey and oh so buttery and the smell in my house was incredible once I removed it from the oven! This is a perfect recipe to make if you don’t have the time or patience to make homemade croissants with a very similar taste. Find the recipe below along with pictures of my creation. Please don’t let all the proofing times turn you off from trying it out. It takes nothing to leave dough on its own to rise and hands on time was fairly minimal.

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Brioche dough prior to rising. For whatever reason this dough did not rise well but still turned out great!
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Brioche dough after the final rising of 3 hours, Brushed with the egg.

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Ramatuelle Brioche

Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves

Ingredients:

  • 5 tsp whole milk
  • 2 tsp fresh yeast or 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast  (* I used instant)
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 1/2 oz/200g) bread flour
  • 2 free-range large eggs, plus 2 yolks, lightly beaten (*I used regular large eggs)
  • 2 tbsp unrefined superfine sugar (*I used regular granulated sugar)
  • 1/2 cup (4oz/125g) soft unsalted butter
  • sea salt

Heat the milk until lukewarm and add the yeast and 1 heaped teaspoon of the flour. Set aside for 30 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat three-quarters of the eggs, the sugar, and a pinch of salt together. Add the yeast mixture, and after a minute, gradually spoon the rest of the flour. Mix until everything is just combined, then cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Now, set the mixer to a slow speed and begin spooning in the soft butter, letting each addition combine with the dough before adding the next. Once everything is incorporated, increase the speed and mix until the dough looks elastic and shiny. Scrape into a clean, dry bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in the fridge overnight.

(* Upon opening my fridge in the morning to check on my lovely dough, I noticed it hardly rised at all. The dough in general seems to be a very heavy, dense dough and not a typical dough I am used to. I am not sure if this is normal or if this was a result of making a couple substitutions. I was ready to start the recipe all over again but then decided to just bake it after the second rising and it came out perfect.)

The next day, line a slightly larger-than-standard loaf pan or two standard 8 x 4 x 2 1/2-inch (17 x 1 1 x 9-cm) pans, with parchment paper. Take the dough out of the fridge and pit it in the pan(s). Cover lightly with plastic wrap and leave to proof for 2-3 hours in a warm, dry place. Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Once the dough has doubled in size, brush it with the remaining beaten egg and bake it for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is gorgeous and golden. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve warm.

This brioche is at its best in flavour and texture on the same day it is made. It should be moist, flakey and buttery.  I did keep it for a couple days and as the days went by it got drier and therefore not as tasty.

Some other recipes you can expect to find: Sticky Buns, Coconut and Wild Honey Bread, Sea-Salted Caramel from Grimaud, La Mole-Inspired Omelet with Chanterelles, Gruyere and Thyme, The Feline Onion Tart, Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Tarragon Pizza, Roasted Butternut Squash with Wild Fennel Seeds, Graniers Spring Rolls, Bun Man Chicken, Vanilla and Orange Blossom Marshmallows, St.Tropez Tart, Buttermilk Scones with Raspberry Jam and Rosewater Cream, Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms and Chickpeas, Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream and so so many more!!

You may purchase “The South of France Cookbook” By Nina Parker on Amazon.ca for $42.29 CAN or wherever books are sold. Price is subject to change.

 

“Creole Kitchen: Sunshine Flavors from the Caribbean” by Vanessa Bolosier

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With recipes based on classic dishes from Guadeloupe and Martinique, Vanessa Bolosier takes us to the islands with her new cookbook “Creole Kitchen”. Vanessa, a self-taught cook has learned all she knows about island cooking from mother and from her late father who was her food mentor. Food has been and always will be a huge part of her life and you can feel the passion she has as you read each recipe and how it remains special to her. Vanessa goes on to discuss the history of Creole food, what it is and how it came about. She chats about local restaurant and street food and most importantly homemade food.

Included at the beginning of the cookbook is a section on what ingredients you may expect to find in a Creole kitchen. To name a few: coconut vinegar, white vinegar, allspice, cloves, fresh ginger, chilies, mangos, pineapples, a variety of beans, plantains and bananas, breadfruit, cassava, Giraumon (a squash that grows in the Caribbean) and many more. Some ingredients included may not be familiar and may also be difficult to find locally however she give alternatives at the beginning of the book. Also included are some key elements of Creole food and techniques.

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Chapters are divided into the following:

  • Drinks (Bwoisson)
  • Starters (Komanseman)
  • Fish & Seafood (Pwasson e fwidme)
  • Meat & Poultry (Viann e poul)
  • Sides (Akonpayman)
  • Soups (Soup’)
  • Sauces & Condiments (Soss e kondiman)
  • Syrups (Siwo)
  • Desserts (Desse)

I chose to recreate the Mont Blanc Coconut Cake. A genoise sponge cake with coconut frosting. This cake was supposed to be light and airy that “makes it taste like a coconut cloud”. I am sad to say that mine came out very dense. I am not sure exactly what went wrong but it still tasted great. I loved the flavours of rum and coconut together, it reminded me of something I would eat on vacation.

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Cake pre-bake.
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Cake split in half to fill with coconut rum icing.
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Icing was not as thick as it was supposed to be (I would recommend whisking the cornstarch with the water prior to adding to coconut milk mixture as the cornstarch clumped even with whisking, therefore not thickening the icing as it should be)

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You may purchase “Creole Kitchen: Sunshine Flavors from the Caribbean” by Vanessa Bolosier on Amazon.ca for $43.65 CAN or wherever books are sold. Price is subject to change.

 

“Mamushka: A Cookbook” by Olia Hercules

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Author Olia Hercules, a native of Ukraine takes us back to her hometown where she grew up eating seasonally. This is a truly authentic Cookbook with a collection of recipes from Ukraine & Eastern Europe. My husband was thrilled when he saw me flipping through this book as his father is from Hungary and many of the recipes he saw took him back to his childhood.

Some useful ingredients are included at the beginning of the book. These include some that may not be familiar to the average home cook. I certainitely did not recognize a few. There are about a handful of ingredients used in the book that would have you traveling to a local Eastern European grocery store (Gherkins, dill heads, sour cherry leaves, Smetana, syr)

The Recipes

If you are looking for a healthy range of recipes, look elsewhere. These recipes are all definitely very indulgent and hearty. Many of the recipes in this book have a lengthy list of ingredients. The directions are not terribly hard but you do need to make sure you have the time to recreate it, as some of the directions are also lengthy. I found the recipes quite unique and in my opinion daring. Many of which I would be a little hesitant to try but perhaps I am not as adventurous as I thought! That being said, the pictures are fantastic and the food does look scrumptious. Each recipe begins with a description and mini history/importance of the forthcoming recipe which I always love reading before deciding to make a particular dish.

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Chapters are divided into the following:

  • Introduction
  • Broths & Soups
  • Breads & Pastries
  • Vegetables & Salads
  • Dumplings & Noodles
  • Meat & Fish
  • Fermented Pickles & Preserves
  • Sweet Conserves
  • Desserts
  • Drinks

I managed to recreate the Zucchini & Potato Stew (Coyc/Sous) I had thought that it would have been super quick and easy but it did take longer than I expected. I was standing at the stove for a good hour or more just frying (not including prep time). The upside: it was super tasty. The downside: time consuming and every single ingredient was fried. I can’t say that it was very picturesque but it sure tasted better than it looked! (promise!)

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Zucchini & Potato Stew

Some of my favourites that I would love to recreate: Ukrainian Garlic Bread (this recipe looks phenomenal!), Greek breads with green onions, Moldovan giant cheese twist, Stuffed Ukrainian pasta, Ukrainian gnocchi, Garlicky Georgian poussins, Apple sponge, Poppy seed roll.

You may purchase “Mamushka: A Cookbook” by Olia Hercules on Amazon.ca for $39.92 CAN or wherever books are sold. Price is subject to change.

* A big thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending over all three copies of these beautiful cookbooks in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own.

Simon & Schuster Canada:

“The Everyday Baker” Cookbook Review

The Everyday Baker: Recipes & Techniques for Foolproof Baking” By Abigail Dodge Cookbook Review

This is Abby Dodge’s 10th Cookbook, yes 10th! For those of you who are not familiar with her work, Abby is an award winning baking expert and pastry chef. She also has a fantastic blog with the most scrumptious recipes that I frequently retweet. (http://www.abbydodge.com) Flipping through this wonderful cookbook, I recognized some of the recipes right away. I am a huge fan of the Fine Cooking Magazine and Abby is a long time contributer to this awesome magazine. (go figure I like it so much!)

I was delighted to get my hands on her latest book, “The Everyday Baker: Recipes and Techniques for Foolproof Baking”. This book is gigantic and filled with tons of recipes! The first chapter takes us to everyday baking basics discussing everyday baking ingredients and what you should have in your pantry, equipment and tools (with pictures of each tool), as well as some important points to assist with your baking experience. I know many of you skip this section but ever since I started to review cookbooks, I have been reading these sections in each book I review. Despite being an avid baker myself, I have learned a bunch! Don’t skip these valuable sections!

The recipes

The recipes are divided into the following chapters:

  • Morning Food
  • Quick to Make
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Pies & Tarts
  • Puddings & Custards
  • Yeast Breads
  • Pastry
  • Flatbread
  • Fruit Desserts

Included are a variety of sweet and savory recipes. Some recipes include step by step instructions with pictures as well as occasional essential techniques (with pictures) throughout the book. Plenty of pictures of the recipes are included in the book. They aren’t anything fancy but they are still great! Recipe pictures are grouped together in each chapter as opposed to accompanying the corresponding recipe. With each recipe, there are little boxes to the side discussing things you can make ahead, twists on the recipe and other valuable information. Ingredients are listed in order of use and directions are simple enough to follow for the beginner baker. Most ingredients are also easily assessable at your local supermarket. Your favourite recipe is super easy to locate in the index at the back of the book as they are cross-referenced.

Some of my favourites that I have all tabbed up: White & Chocolate Mousse Cake, Salted Caramel-Toffee Icebox Cake, Rustic Country Bread, Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart, Sweet Potato Bread, Ciabatta Bread, Espresso-Hazlenut Meringue Cake with Espresso Buttercream & Milk Chocolate Ganache..and many more!

I am familiar with a handful of the recipes in this book, as I mentioned previously Abby is a contributer to Fine Cooking magazine and I am a huge fan. During the review of this book, I managed to recreate the Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart and it was absolutely scrumptious! Find the full recipe and pictures below.

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Store bought puff pastry. So I may not have cut it the way she mentioned but I managed to  make it look pretty 🙂
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The tart all complete! I made the mistake of putting the basil on too early but it still tasted great!

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Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart

For the filling:

  • ¼ cup (2 oz/57g) sun-dried tomato paste. (* I used sun-dried tomato pesto)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes (1 lb./454 g total) (multicolored is pretty but not mandatory)

For assembly:

  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 tsp water
  • Store bought puff pastry, thawed if frozen (* She gives the option for homemade puff pastry with the full recipe as well but being a busy mom, I opted for store bought and therefore will give the directions for store bought puff pastry)
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, for rolling
  • Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. ground Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 Tbs. finely sliced basil leaves

Make the filling:

Put the sun-dried tomato paste and garlic in a small bowl and mix until well blended. Core the tomatoes and cut crosswise into thin slices. Arrange on several layers of paper towels and let drain while the pastry is being prepared.

Assemble and Bake:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400 F (200 C/gas 6). Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a nonstick liner. Put the egg and water in a small bowl and, using a fork, mix until well blended.
  2. Unfold store bought puff pastry. Using a sharp chef’s knife and a ruler, trim the edges using short crisp cuts (dragging the blade will pinch the pastry layers together) (*I used two separate puff pastry dough packs that once unrolled were already quite neat and did not need trimming) to get a neat 12-inch (30.5 cm) square. Using your hands or a rolling pin, move the pastry to the prepared pan so that one side is facing you.
  3. Using the back or dull side of the knife, mark a 1-inch (2.5 cm) border around the inside of the square, beginning 1 inch from the the top right corner and ending 1 inch from the bottom left corner, and cut through the dough. (*I used a pizza cutter) This will release the bottom right corner. Repeat with the other two sides of the square, beginning 1 inch from the bottom left and ending 1 inch from the top right. Both the bottom right and top left corners will be released but the 1 inch pastry border will still be attached at the top right and bottom left.
  4. Brush a little of the egg wash around the edge of the center square, being careful not to let any drip off the edge as this will seal the pastry layers. Holding the outer pastry border at the top left corner, lift the border over the centre square and line it up with the bottom right corner of the centre square, making sure the right and bottom edges are also lined up. Repeat with the outer border at the bottom right corner and line it up with the top left corner of the centre square. The two corners (top right and bottom left) will still be attached and overlap each other. Using the tines of the fork, prick (or dock) the centre square all over.
  5. Scrape the tomato paste mixture onto the centre square and spread evenly. Arrange the tomato slices over the paste in one layer, slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, the Parmigiano. Brush the top of the raised border with the egg wash (be careful not to let the egg dribble over the edge or the pastry won’t puff).
  6. Bake until the pastry is puffed and deep golden brown and the tomatoes are tender, 39 to 43 minutes. Move the sheet to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using two offset spatulas, carefully move the tart to a cutting board or flat serving plate and sprinkle the basil over the tomatoes. The tart is best when served the same day and can be warmed slightly in a 300 F (150 C/gas 2) oven if desired.

 

Twists:

Instead of the sun-dried tomato paste, use one of the following: ¼ cup olive tapenade or ¼ cup basil pesto and omit garlic.

Instead of adding the Parmigiano, after baking, top the tart with one of the following: ¼ cup crumbled feta, ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese or crumbled blue cheese.

Instead of adding the basil, top the tart with one or two of the following: 1 tsp fresh thyme, rosemary, fresh oregano, or 1-2 Tbs, reduced balsamic vinegar.

Make Ahead:

The dough can be prepared, covered, and refridgerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.

The dough can be shaped, pricked, covered with plastic, and stored flat in the fridge for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 1 month. To finish and bake, thaw the pastry, if frozen, spread the filling, and top with the tomatoes.

Overall, I loved this cookbook! Although it will take me a century to get through it entirely (yes it is THAT big and I love it!) It will definitely be used regularly in my family kitchen and become dog-eared over the years! For more information on this cookbook and where to purchase, please see below.

Happy Baking! XO

I received this cookbook from the most generous Taunton Press to give an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. For more information on this cookbook and to purchase The Everyday Baker head over to The Taunton Press online store http://www.tauntonstore.com/the-everyday-baker-071473.html

Abby Dodge Social Media:

 

 

“3 Times a Day” Cookbook Review

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“3 times a day” is written by Marilou and Alexandre Champagne, a husband and wife team who are also the creators of a blog called “Trois Fois Par Jour”. Marilou created this blog after overcoming a recent battle with anorexia in which she named her blog after eating 3 meals a day. Alexandre has a passion for photography and as Marliou begun her blog, he started taking beautiful pictures of her creations. If you have not had a chance to check out this blog, I would suggest you do so now. It is just lovely! http://www.troisfoisparjour.com/en/accueil There are plenty of easy to follow recipes, videos, and more all in a clean layout.

This cookbook is simply beautiful. The introduction is touching and the food photography is stunning. As you read it, you can feel the passion and the love that has gone into every recipe and every word on each page.

One of my favourite parts of this wonderful cookbook is the introduction, which speaks of Marlilou’s struggles and passions in life. She went from being a popular pop sensation in Quebec to food blogger and author. I think that a lot of us can relate to her words, which I absolutely love. How many of us want to change careers and are too afraid to do so?! How many of us don’t listen to what we want and listen to what other people want for us? Marilou speaks about finally following her heart rather than other people and what others wanted her to do and thus begun her journey and passion for cooking.

In the beginning of this cookbook you will find a page dedicated to tips and tricks for cooking, as well as recipe categories. Each recipe has a couple categories listed underneath so that you can easily identify and anticipate what type of recipe it is or what it can be used for. Categories include: economical, entertaining, gift, gluten free, indulgent, lactose free, quick and easy, raw and vegetarian.

This cookbook is beautifully laid out with pictures for every recipe. I absolutely love this! I know some people argue that pictures are deceiving and “it doesn’t always turn out like the pictures!” But for me it is what lures me into recreating the meal and I don’t care what it looks like in the end when I make it, as long as it tastes good.

Contents of the book are divided into the following:

  • Breakfast & brunch,
  • Snacks & small bites,
  • Lunch & salads
  • Soup & stews
  • Fish & seafood
  • Meat
  • Pasta, rice & pizza
  • Desserts

I can’t lie, my favourite recipes in this book all fall under the “indulgent” categories, mainly the pasta, rice & pizza section (which is probably the Italian in me). Everything just looks so succulent I couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen! The recipes in this cookbook are simple enough for a beginner and only require tools that you likely already have in your kitchen. One of the dessert recipes even uses mason jar lids as a mini tart pan with a removable bottom. Genius! (This particular recipe is actually the pie you see on the front cover of the book but in mini form.)

I managed to recreate the ricotta gnocchi (which were out of this world!) and the Oatmeal, espresso and dark chocolate cookies. I have made Martha Stewart’s ricotta gnocchi before but they definitely did not taste like these! I am of Italian decent so please trust me on this one…they were phenomenal. My 2 year old and my husband devoured them. The recipe says prep time is 25 min but they took me 10 minutes and I’m generally a slow cook. They were super simple and this recipe will definitely be a staple in my house. Since the gnocchi were my favourite of the two, I have provided the recipe below.

RICOTTA GNOCCHI

Quantity: 30-35 gnocchi

Prep time: 25 min

Categories: economical, vegetarian

Ingredients:

1 cup ricotta

1 egg

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg *I used the dry spice as that is what I had in the pantry.

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients until the flour is fully incorporated and a smooth dough forms.
  2. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  3. Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour. Set aside.
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half.
  5. On a floured surface, roll one portion of the dough into a rope, about 1 inch diameter. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  6. Cut the ropes into ½-inch pieces and place them on the floured baking sheet. Using your thumb, make a small indentation in the centre of each gnocchi.
  7. Freeze the gnocchi for later, or cook them immediately in a pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Serve with the sauce of your choice. *I served with my homemade tomato sauce and fresh basil and it was perfection.
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Ricotta gnocchi dough (step.1)
Step.6 , Cutting the ropes into 1/2-inch pieces.
Step.6 Cutting the ropes into 1/2-inch pieces.
Ricotta gnocchi in tomato basil sauce.
Ricotta gnocchi in tomato basil sauce.
Oatmeal, espresso, & dark chocolate cookies dipped in 70% Lindt chocolate.
Oatmeal, espresso, & dark chocolate cookies dipped in 70% Lindt chocolate.
Oatmeal, espresso, dark (Lindt) chocolate cookies... perfect with a cup of coffee!
Oatmeal, espresso, dark (Lindt) chocolate cookies… perfect with a cup of coffee!

I made 2 batches of these since my tub of ricotta was 500 grams. (and thank God I did because the family devoured them) I accidentally used Pecorino Romano cheese for one of the batches. Initially I panicked but they ended up being just as tasty!

If you purchase this book, please take the time to read the acknowledgements. I know most of you probably bypass this section but it really was so beautifully written. Marilou and Alexandre’s note of thanksgiving to each other was so sweet and endearing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it really just validates how much heart and soul they put into the making of this cookbook.

**I received this book from the generous House of Anansi to give an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You can purchase it from chapters.indigo.ca or amazon.ca for $25.

**Stay tuned to my social media accounts as I recreate more of the recipes in this book. Pictures will be posted!

Decadent Mocha Eclairs

I try to recreate at least one recipe from each food magazine I receive monthly…as long as something catches my eye! November’s Chatelaine Magazine had a super tasty looking Decadent Mocha Éclair recipe and omg were they ever decadent! I tried my best to get some cool looking pics of these tasty desserts but keep in mind I have an (almost) 2 year old running around my crammed condo and well..you know, I try my best! This recipe was super easy and let me tell you..SUPER TASTY!! I have shared the link to the recipe below, pictures and some tips on my journey to recreating them.

Decadent Mocha Eclairs Recipe (click on the link below)

http://www.chatelaine.com/recipe/desserts/decadent-mocha-eclairs/

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Step 2 after stirring flour in mixture.
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Step 2 after stirring in eggs to prepare for pastry bag.
The Eclairs all baked up.
The Eclairs all baked up.
Slicing the eclairs in half to make way for the mocha filling.
Slicing the eclairs in half to make way for the mocha filling.
Piping the mocha cream on each eclair & spooning the chocolate on top.
Piping the mocha cream on each eclair & spooning the chocolate on top.
Eclairs all done!
Eclairs all done!

Tips: When piping the eclairs, make sure you make them wide enough. I piped them to be about 1inch in width post baking. (sorry I can’t remember what the width was pre-baking)..probably half that. The problem is, if you pipe them too thin as I did, when you pipe the mocha cream on each bottom half of the eclair, it will topple over as the cream will be too heavy for it. Because of this, I was not able to pipe as much as I was supposed to and threw out a lot of the cream. (ok maybe I piped some into my mouth..shhhh!)

Tip #2: In step number 4, at the very end where it says to spoon the melted chocolate over the eclairs…make sure you save some of that chocolate you microwaved.  I made the mistake of putting all the chocolate in the mocha cream! Opps…

NOTE: I prefer to fill eclairs traditionally by poking them and squeezing the filling inside. I liked that this recipe was different and the cream swirls were so visually appealing but I found eating them kinda messy and the mocha would squish out of the sides.

All in all, these were super tasty. You don’t know the mistakes you will make unless you make them! If I were to make them again I am confident they would come out perfect. Everyone that tried them loved them. Its a recipe keeper!

I receive Chatelaine magazine monthly through my Rogers account and I pay $1.50/month.  You can also get a subscription on their website for $14.99/year. http://www.chatelaine.com.

Nutella Truffles

I am a self-confessed Nutella nut. I love everything Nutella. I have Nutella in my latte every single morning. Any time I see a recipe with Nutella in it, I have to put it to the test immediately. I first saw this recipe for Nutella truffles in a special issue of America’s Test Kitchen, Christmas Cookies 2013. I never toss collectors issues of desserts and always refer to them even years later as there are so many great recipes, but of course not always a lot of time to get through them all!

I first made these truffles 2 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter. I went on a baking binge, baking as many treats as I possibly could before giving birth (which turned out to be mid December). My goal was to create tasty treats that were freezer friendly so that once she was born, and people came to visit I could just bust them out of the freezer. It turned out these truffles froze exceptionally well. I only froze them for about a month, so I didn’t test beyond that. You can defrost them in the fridge if planning to have a little later or on the counter if you would like them sooner. These truffles are also perfect for Holiday events and gift giving. Pop them into mini paper cups and your good to go! Check out the recipe below:

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Nutella Truffles

Nutella Truffles

(makes 24 truffles)

Ingredients:

2 cups (2 oz) cornflakes

½ cup hazelnuts, toasted & skinned, plus 24 hazelnuts, toasted & skinned. *Note: I buy hazelnuts pre-skinned. I find skinning them messy and a pain in the butt.

½ cup (3 ½ oz) sugar

3 tbsp unsalted butter

¼ cup whole milk

1 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder

¾ cup Nutella

Directions:

  1. Make foil sling for 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Spray aluminum foil with vegetable oil spray. (or just rub vegetable oil on it)
  2. Pulse cornflakes in food processor until finely ground, about 10 pulses; transfer to bowl. Process ½ cup hazelnuts in food processor to fine crumbs, about 15 seconds. Spread processed hazelnuts in shallow dish and set aside.
  3. Microwave sugar and butter in bowl, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 45 seconds. Whisk in milk and cocoa until combined. Whisk in Nutella until fully incorporated. Stir in finely ground cornflakes. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press firmly into even layer with greased spatula. Freeze, uncovered, until firm, about 10 minutes.
  4. Using foil overhang, lift chilled Nutella mixture out of pan and transfer to cutting board. Cut 24 pieces, then mold each 1 whole hazelnut to encase completely. Roll truffles in processed hazelnuts to coat and transfer to platter. Freeze, uncovered, until firm, about 10 minutes. Serve, or store in refrigerator until serving time.

How to skin hazelnuts: Transfer the hot, toasted hazelnuts to the centre of a dish towel. Fold the towel around the hazelnuts to seal them inside: then rub them together in the towel to scrape off as much brown skin as possible. Once you open the towel, you will see that the skins have come away from the hazelnuts. Its fine if some small patches of skin still remain.

Recipe excerpt, Americas Test Kitchen “Christmas Cookies, 64 Foolproof Recipes, from Classics to New Favourites”, 2013.

Happy Baking! XO

Ricardo Magazine Fall, 2015 & Making Pumpkin Pie



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I love that this magazine is Canadian! This issue came out just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving. Although Thanksgiving is now behind us, there are a ton of great recipes in this issue that are fantastic for any evening. Some feature articles in this magazine include:

  • Dietitian Q & A’s regarding Diabetes
  • The carrot chronicles- everything you need to know about carrots including storage, types, growing and picking as well as great recipes with carrots.
  • The Incredible Squash- all about prepping squash, how to cut them, etc
  • Cooking Legumes like a Pro
  • Vegging Out- 10 hearty meatless mains
  • The 7 Commandments of Tasty Tofu
  • Whole Grains 101
  • A Wicked Evening- Hosting a frightfully fun Halloween party (& recipes)
  • Ricardo for kids- Cooking with Halloween candy
  • Wine notes- falling for earthy reds
  • The ultimate classic pumpkin pie

Ricardo magazine has one of the best food photography I have seen. If you are thinking about a subscription, I would not think twice! Each issue almost feels like a book, the pages are thick and they are all keepers for your bookshelf and recipe collection. His recipes are fail proof and I have yet to have one go bad on me!

I managed to recreate the ultimate classic pumpkin pie and it was fantasic! It was so super easy and I will definitely keep the recipe for next year. I know that making crust can be intimidating but this recipe involved throwing a couple ingredients in my food processor, pulsing a bit and voila…instant pie crust! The best part: No pie weights and no pre baking of crust required! Here’s what you need:

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1/4 cup 2% plain yogurt

Filling

  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Topping (optional)

  • 1/2 cup 35% heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  1.  In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse for a few seconds at a time until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the yogurt and pulse until the dough begins to form. Remove from the food processor and shape into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2.  With the rack in the lowest position, preheat the oven to 375 F.
  3.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough. Line into a 9″ pie plate. (I have one slightly smaller and it was ok) Cut the excess dough to 1/2 ” from the edge of the pie plate. Fold over the edge of the dough to form a double crust. Scallop the edge, Set aside.

Filling

4.  In a bowl, combine the cornstarch and spices. Whisk in the eggs. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and sweetened      condensed milk. Stir until smooth and pour into pie crust.

5.  Bake for 35 to 40 min or until the filling is set in the centre. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

6.  In a bowl, whip the heavy cream with the sugar until stiff peaks form.  With a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, pipe the  whipped cream along the outer edge of the pie or garnish each individual slice as desired. Or how about this busy mamas…go buy some cool whip in a can. E voila!

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A subscription to Ricardo Magazine is $29.95/year for 6 issues. Yes that sounds like more than average for a magazine subscription but I promise you its worth it! Each issue is packed with amazing recipes to keep you going for a while. Bonus: You get 15% off Ricardo’s online kitchen boutique.