Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberry Maple Syrup

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This one time I went for brunch with a new guy friend (new in the sense that we were still getting to know each other). What I didn’t realize at the time was that apparently this was a date that I clearly was unaware of until afterwards. I mean he did offer to pay and I let him pay, but I’m kind of thickheaded and did not clue in to the fact that if a new guy friend asks you out to brunch and picks you up in his car and offers to pay for your brunch and then pays for your brunch and drives you home and rushes to open the car door for you, he probably likes you and considers that a successful date.

Anyways, the way that I found out that that brunch was a date was because the next day at my work I found out through my friend that the brunch-date-boy had told his mother who worked with my friend’s mother that he was dating a girl named Lianna who worked at the place where I worked.  PARDON ME?!?!

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I quickly put brunch-date-boy in his place and told him that no, we are not dating and no, I don’t want to date you let’s just be friends. Except deep down I was clearly thinking well now this is too awkward for us to actually be friends. So I never saw him again!

The reason I’m telling you this story is because during our brunch-date (that wasn’t really a date), I ordered these amazing waffles with the best blueberry maple syrup topping and I had to go home and try to make a slightly healthier version to enjoy whenever I wanted to. Well, I’m glad to say I succeeded! Buckwheat flour is a healthier alternative to white flour and is higher in fiber and protein. Blueberries may not be in season right now which is just fine, because frozen and thawed blueberries are just as lovely! The blueberry maple syrup is perfection and I highly recommend the extra bit of effort it takes to make the syrup because it ties everything together nicely and really enhances the blueberry explosion effect in your mouth with each bite. Yum!

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberry Maple Syrup

Ingredients:

For the Pancakes:
1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 and 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen & thawed blueberries

Cooking spray

For the maple-blueberry syrup:  (this makes enough for about 3-4 tablespoons per serving.  If you want more syrup, increase the amounts accordingly.)
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup maple syrup

Directions:

For the pancakes:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly combine. Gently fold in the blueberries, mixing until incorporated.

Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and lightly spray with cooking spray. Pour the batter in 1/3-cup portions onto the prepared frying pan, letting the pancake cook until it forms large bubbles on its surface (about 2-3 minutes or so).  Gently flip the pancake and cook for another minute or so, or until cooked through.  ***Here’s a good time for you to get the maple-blueberry syrup ready.  See below.

Transfer the pancake to a plate (cover it to keep the pancakes warm), and repeat for each pancake (re-spraying with cooking spray as necessary), until you have used all of the batter.

For the maple-blueberry syrup:
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the blueberries and the maple syrup.  Cook over low heat until the blueberries have popped, about 10 minutes or so.  Serve the syrup over the pancakes.

—SOURCE—
The Curvy Carrot,  adapted from Williams-Sonoma.

Raw Cashew Dreamcake (vegan & gluten-free)

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It’s been a while since my last post but hopefully I will be getting back on track to posting more regularly! In my last post I kind of explained that my lack of blogging has been due to a sudden lack of interest in food and baking and being in the kitchen caused by a busy marathon-training schedule, but I’m happy to say that I’ve recently started getting back into the kitchen so please bare with me while I start catching up with all of the food blog posts I’ve been missing out on these past couple of months!  I’m so excited to share this Raw Cashew Dreamcake with you, but first I’ll fill you in on what I’ve been up to since my last post!

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I’ve finally finished university and am currently on a job hunt in the real world that started off very enthusiastically and hopeful and has now after a few weeks become a tiny bit less enthusiastic and a bit more depressing. My fingers are still crossed that I will hear from somewhere soon! I feel like securing a real job is the first step in becoming a real adult in the real working world and I can’t wait!

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I’ve also gotten really into yoga! It’s funny what a huge difference a great instructor can make, in any aspect of life whether it be yoga, school, a senior co-worker who is training you, a friend teaching you how to bake a cake, etc.  I recently found an amazing yoga teacher, the kind who makes you want to actually put the effort in and improve, and after weeks of practicing…wait for it…I CAN DO A HEADSTAND!!!  It’s still a bit shaky and probably a little lopsided, but who cares, I’m balancing on my head (and hands or forearms) and it makes me feel rad as heck and as proud as a peacock.

I also completed my second marathon ever!! I ran it 15 minutes faster than my first marathon back in May, and even though I’m still a back-of-the-pack kind of runner, I’m ecstatic about my time and am crazy enough to want to do it again. I think I’m more addicted to beating my time than actually running 42.2km/26 miles. I’m debating adding a “Running” page to this blog to document my running adventures and provide tips I’ve learned along the way because I do love reading other running blogs so we will see if that happens.

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When I first starting seriously running, I was over the moon with the number of calories I would burn on a long run and felt like it totally justified the chips, french fries, ice cream and other junk that I loved consuming. Something changed when I started the 18-week training for my second marathon though. Even though I was burning a lot of calories, I still felt so gross after a poutine or a burger. I started to think more in terms of whether or not the poutine was worth the 27km run I did earlier in the week and the answer was always no!  I started to change my diet to incorporate foods like mass amounts of fresh vegetables that made me feel great inside and starting looking towards vegetarian and vegan recipes for inspiration on eating clean.

Cheesecake has always been a weakness for me, the more decadent the better (like this chocolate peanut butter torte or this caramel apple cheesecake pie). Unfortunately for me and most likely for you, cheesecake isn’t the most waist-friendly dessert to indulge in so when I saw this recipe for a Raw Cashew Dreamcake on My New Roots a while back, I immediately bookmarked it.  Guys, now that I’ve finally made it I can honestly say it is the best thing ever!!  This cake is essentially a raw AND gluten-free AND vegan AND healthy cheesecake alternative to the real thing. It’s ridiculously easy to make seeing as you only need a really good food processor or blender and you don’t need an oven! This version is a raspberry&vanilla flavour combo, but you can easily customize and flavour the layers to your liking.  Now I have to admit, nothing that isn’t cheesecake will actually taste like real cheesecake, but the cashews in this dreamcake are like magic and work to create a smooth and rich filling that is just so good anyways. Plus you won’t feel so guilty after a slice or two! 😉

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Raw Cashew Dreamcake

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
1/2 cup raw almonds (pecan or walnuts will also work)
1/2 cup soft Medjool dates
¼ tsp. sea salt

For the Filling:
1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours, overnight is best
juice of 1-2 lemons
the seeds of 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract)
1/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup raw honey or agave nectar
1 cup raspberries (thaw completely if using frozen)

Directions:
Place nuts and dates in a food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness (process a finer crust longer than a chunky one). Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. If they do not hold together, add more dates (one at a time) and process.

Scoop out the crust mixture into a 7” spring-form pan (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a pie plate or cake pan lined with saran wrap), and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout.  If using saran wrap, try to smooth it out as much as possible to avoid a lot of creases in the final cake.

Rinse food processor well.

Warm coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid and whisk to combine or place in a small bowl and microwave in 10-20 second increments, whisking in between until liquid.

In the most powerful food processor / blender you own (you decide which one has the most torque) place all filling ingredients* (except raspberries) and blend on high until very smooth (this make take a couple minutes so be patient). If you have a Vita-Mix, absolutely use it.  *start with the juice of 1 lemon, and add more juice to taste if you like. I only used 1 lemon.

Pour about 2/3 (just eyeball it, you can’t make a mistake!) of the mixture out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Add the raspberries to the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour onto the first layer of filling and again smooth with a spatula. Place in freezer until solid.

To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit. Store leftovers in the freezer (what leftovers?).

—SOURCE—
slightly adapted from My New Roots

Peach and Blueberry Pie

IMG_5392Hi! Remember me?

Yea, I know I’ve been away for a while…truth is I almost feel like a stranger to my own blog. It’s crazy how fast time flies. The reason I haven’t posted in so long is because in the midst of training for my first marathon and balancing school work and a social life at the same time, I lost my passion for baking. I stopped following all of my favourite food blogs, I stopped daydreaming about butter and flour and I pretty much lost interest in all things food-related. Scary, right?! My camera and stand mixer sat there untouched for a few months collecting dust while I found myself replacing my love for baking with a new-found love for running and working out. Those long runs gave me such an endorphin rush that I no longer needed baking to make me feel happy.

IMG_5400A lot has happened in the past couple of months. I ran my first half-marathon, I ran my first full marathon shortly after which I promised myself I would never run again, I went to Hawaii with my sister where I allowed myself to be briefly romanced by another surfer boy with a motorcycle (nothing quite like the Costa Rica romance, but I don’t think anything can really compare to that), I decided I missed running enough to incorporate short 5k runs into my exercise schedule, I lost my mind and signed up for another marathon (currently on week 7 of training), I baked this peach and blueberry pie and pronounced it the pie of the summer, I proceeded to eat the entire pie all by myself in under a week, and I decided this pie was too good to not share with you, thus bringing this blog out of hibernation. Life has been good.

IMG_5396I first saw this recipe 2 summers ago on Joy the Baker and immediately bookmarked it. The only problem was that summer (and the following summer) I was working at an overnight camp where I had no kitchen access at all. So this recipe stayed hidden away until finally this summer I saw the most beautiful, sweet-smelling peaches ever and instantly knew what I had to do with them. It might seem weird to bake a pie in the summer when it’s so hot out but really this is the perfect pie to celebrate the fresh flavours of summer. I wasn’t kidding when I said I ate the whole thing on my own and while I don’t recommend that so much during bikini season, I have absolutely no regrets. The pie dough comes together easily and makes for the richest, butteriest crust while the filling is just bursting with flavour and colour. So make the most of peach season and make this pie asap!

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Peach and Blueberry Pie

Yields: one 9-inch pie

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
5 tbsp plus 2 tsp ice cold water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:
About 3 pounds ripe peaches (I used about 6 peaches)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 to 2/3 cups granulated sugar (depending on the sweetness of your peaches)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
scant 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, for topping crust before baking

Directions:
To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Stir together the ice cold water and vinegar.   Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the water and vinegar mixture.  Use a fork to bring to dough together.  Try to moisten all of the flour bits.  On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture.  It will be moist and shaggy.  That’s perfect.  Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling, wash and slice peaches.  In a medium bowl, combine peach slices and blueberries.  In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, spices, flour, and cornstarch.  Pour the sugar mixture over the fruit, and gently toss together with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Place bowl of fruit in the fridge to rest while you roll the crust out.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place a rack in the center of the oven, and place a baking sheet on the lower rack, just below where you’re going to place the pie.  This will catch any pie drippings without making a mess of your oven.

Remove one of the pie dough disks from the fridge.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round.  Roll the dough a few strokes, then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface.  This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface.  The circle won’t be perfect, that’s ok.  Try not to get any tears in the rolled out dough, but if you do, they can be patched together with extra dough.    When you roll the dough and you can see it start springing back, that means that the butter is warming and the crust shouldn’t be rolled out anymore.  Gently lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in the 9-inch baking dish.  Place in the fridge while you roll out the top crust.

Roll out the top crust just as you did the bottom crust, moving the dough across the floured surface every once in a while, and creating a roughly 13-inch circle.  Remove the bottom crust and fruit filling from the fridge.  Gently pour the fruit filling into the pie dish.  Carefully remove the top crust from the work surface and drape over the fruit in the pie dish.  With a small knife, trim the crust, leaving about 3/4-inch overhang.  With your fingers press the top and bottom crusts together and fold under.  Use a fork or your fingers to crimp the edges of the dough.  Cut five small slits in the top of the crust so the juices and steam can vent.  Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place pie in the oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven heat to 375 and bake for 45 to 55 more minutes.  Remove from the oven when crust is browned and golden, and the juices are bubbling.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 hours before serving.  Place covered in the fridge to store.  Pie lasts up to 3 or 4 days.

—SOURCE—
Joy the Baker

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins


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Yea. I just made healthy muffins. Wait what?
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These muffins are loaded with good things like shredded zucchini, fresh blueberries and whole wheat flour. Greek yogurt is a healthier alternative to butter/oil to keep these muffins moist. Cinnamon adds flavour and according to google, it’s pretty good for you too!
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If you’ve never tried baking with zucchini, you’re probably feeling a little skeptical. I know I was at first, until I baked this double chocolate zucchini bread. It immediately became one of my favourite indulgent breads to bake, and my manly man housemate totally approved and managed to eat a slice every day for a week! You totally can’t taste any sort of zucchini/vegetable flavour in that bread or these muffins.
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These muffins are bursting with fresh blueberries and I love how pretty the green and blueish-purple looks. These are the perfect springtime muffin after a long winter season, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
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Blueberry Zucchini Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins 

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups zucchini, shredded
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line a muffin tin with 12 liners.In a small bowl, stir together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and lemon zest.  In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs, vanilla and greek yogurt.  Slowly stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.  Fold in the zucchini and blueberries.Scoop 1/4 cup batter each into the wells of your lined muffin tin.  Bake  for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool slightly in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool.Store in an airtight container – can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to two months.
—SOURCE—
adapted from Cooking Ala Mel

 

Honey Glazed Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice

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I always like mixing up my weeknight meals, but usually by the time I get home after 8 hours at the hospital all I want is a meal that will come together in under 30 minutes with minimal prep needed. I was pretty happy with how well this recipe turned out! By the time my rice had finished cooking, the pork chops were nicely glazed and all that was left to do was to quickly fry up the rice to finish and serve on the side. I’m not the biggest fan of pork chops, but I really liked them prepared this way with a nice honey glaze, and the pineapple fried rice complemented the pork quite nicely!

Honey Glazed Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice

Ingredients:
½ whole pineapple, cut into spears and skewered
2 cups white or brown rice, cooked
6 whole pork chops
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp peanut oil or canola oil
1 whole large onion, sliced
6 tbsp soy sauce (more to taste, or if more liquid is needed)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sriracha, or other hot sauce
salt to taste
3 cloves minced garlic
2 whole eggs
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp soy sauce (additional)

Directions:
If your rice is not cooked, the first thing to do is get it cooking so that by the time your pork chops are finished, your rice will be ready to be pan fried.

Grill or saute pineapple spears until they have good marks/color on the outside. Slice, then set aside. If you are unable to grill pineapple, than simply pan fry on medium high heat for a couple of minutes.

Heat butter and oil over medium high heat, then add the pork chops to the pan. Saute on both sides until they have nice color.

Throw in the sliced onions and work them into the crevices between the chops. Shake the pan and move the onions around and let them cook for a good couple of minutes.

When the onions are starting to soften, add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, and hot sauce. Shake the pan, stir it around, and let it cook and bubble up for a good couple of minutes until the pork chops are completely cooked and the sauce is thicker. Remove the pork chops to a bowl, then let the sauce bubble up and cook for another 30 to 45 seconds. Pour it over the pork chops. Set aside.

Add a small amount of oil to the same pan (without cleaning it) and return it to the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir it around, then crack in the eggs and immediately stir them to scramble them a bit. Add peas and a couple of tablespoons (additional) soy sauce. Add cooked rice and stir it around to cook for a couple of minutes.

To serve, pile rice on a plate, then top with a pork chops and onions from the sauce. Drizzle a little bit of sauce over the top.

—SOURCE—
slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Cranberry Orange and Pecan Coffee Cake

IMG_4339 Merry Christmas! I hope that everyone has really been enjoying their holidays so far and that you are spending lots of time with your loved ones! We woke up to a light dusting of snow truly making it a white Christmas, hooray!  I wasn’t planning on posting anything today but I was flipping through all of my current drafts and realized with horror that I hadn’t shared this cranberry orange and pecan coffee cake with you yet. I feel a bit guilty not sharing this with you sooner, because this coffee cake is a real game-changer. Every slice screams out happy holidays, for real. Oranges and cranberries brighten up things up and pack a lot of flavour, pecans keeps things nutty and down-to-earth, and the sweet sugary glaze wraps it all together. This is my Christmas gift to you! Enjoy, and then go watch Les Miserables – an incredible take on the musical/novel that will leave you covered in goosebumps for the entire movie.  Happy holidays!IMG_4335

Cranberry Orange and Pecan Coffee Cake

Yields: two 9×5-inch loaves

Ingredients:
For the Cake:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into medium chunks
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk

Directions:
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  Line loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on each side.  Grease the parchment paper and dust with flour on all sides.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add chunks of butter and work the butter into the flour with your fingers.  Try to blend the butter into each bit of the dry ingredients.  The mixture will resemble a coarse meal.

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir together to incorporate.  Add the cranberries and pecans and fold into the batter.

To make the topping combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans.  Sprinkle each loaf with topping.  Place in the oven and allow to bake until the cake is golden brown and the center is cooked through.  Insert a skewer into the center of the cake to ensure that it’s cooked through, about 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Use the parchment paper to life the loaves from the pan and allow to cool further on a wire rack.

For the glaze whisk together 1 cup of powdered sugar and just over a tablespoon of milk, then drizzle over the cooled coffee cake.

Cake can be stored, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 5 days.

—SOURCE—
Joy the Baker

Strawberry Ice Cream

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Growing up, I despised strawberry ice cream. I always associated it with the artifically coloured pink ice cream that didn’t even taste like strawberries. Whenever there was a tub of neapolitan ice cream, I would help myself to the chocolate and vanilla ice cream and go to great lengths to avoid getting even a speck of the strawberry flavour. My attitude towards strawberry ice cream changed about a year ago when I finally convinced myself to try a bit of strawberry ice cream (with real strawberry chunks!) from an ice cream parlour, and have been looking for a recipe to make this at home ever since! This strawberry ice cream is really good. It’s not tinted pink like in most store-bought brands, although I guess you could probably add a bit of food colouring if you’d like to change that. Either way, I’m happy to be able to make real, creamy, delicious strawberry ice cream (with no artificial ingredients) at home! I will be posting a fun cupcake recipe that involves using this strawberry ice cream, so keep an eye out for that soon!

Strawberry Ice Cream 

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar, divided
1 cup whole milk*
2 cups heavy cream*
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
Combine the strawberries with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of sugar; stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juices for 2 hours.

In another bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream, the vanilla and any accumulated juices from the strawberries.

Turn on your ice cream maker and pour the mixture into the frozen bowl. Let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes. Add the sliced strawberries during the last 5 minutes of freezing. Ice cream will be soft at this point. For a firmer ice cream, transfer to an airtight container and store in freezer until it has reached your desired consistency.

—NOTES—
* Instead of using 1 cup whole milk and 2 cups heavy cream, I used 2 cups half & half and 1 cup heavy cream total!

—SOURCE—
Annie’s Eats, adapted from Sweet & Savory Eats

Strawberry Pavlova

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To all of our fellow Canadians, if you are still looking for a dessert to impress on Canada Day, I highly recommend this lovely red&white pavlova. This was the first meringue I have ever baked, and I’m so happy to say that it was a huge success! The meringue base of this pavlova is so light and airy, and melts on your tongue. The whipped cream, strawberries and strawberry sauce are the perfect compliment to the meringue. Such a perfect summer treat! Don’t be fooled by the size of a large piece, the meringue base is mostly air anyways which means you could easily polish off a quarter of the pavlova if you really wanted too!

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The original recipe was taken off of a British website so I had to make a  few conversions to the measurements and have shown those changes below. Even if you don’t end up making this for Canada Day, try it out some other time this summer!

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Strawberry Pavlova

Yields: 6-8 servings 

Ingredients:
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar*
1 tsp. white wine vinegar**
1 tsp. cornflour
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:
2 ¾ cups strawberries, hulled and halved
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 ½ cups heavy cream

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 300F. Using a pencil, mark out the circumference of a dinner plate on a piece of parchment paper. Whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks, then whisk in the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until the meringue looks glossy. Whisk in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla.

Spread the meringue inside the circle, creating a crater by making the sides a little higher than the middle. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the heat and let the Pavlova cool completely inside the oven.

When the meringue is cool, add 1 cup of the chopped strawberries and 2 tbsp powdered sugar into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Push the strawberry puree through a sieve. Whip the heavy cream with the heavy cream with the remaining powdered sugar and spread it over the meringue. Put the remaining strawberries on the cream, and finally pour the strawberry sauce over the whole thing. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to one hour before serving.

—NOTES—
* If you do not have access to caster sugar, simply pulse white granulated sugar in a food processor or blender until it reaches a super-fine, but not powdery consistency. Let it settle for a few minutes, then measure out the appropriate amount.

** I substituted rice wine vinegar, and was very pleased with the results.

—SOURCES—
–  strawberry pavlova adapted from BBC Good Food
–  caster sugar

Pineapple Sorbet

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Now that summer is officially here, I can’t think of a better way to cool off from the heat than with a scoop of cold ice cream, or in this case, sorbet. Why not a scoop of pineapple sorbet?  I’m going to be honest with you, whenever I have a choice at the ice cream shoppe, I always tend to choose the creamier, more decadent ice cream flavours, and never the sorbets. However, when it comes to homemade ice cream, sorbets are honestly just about the easiest kind of frozen dessert you could make. It’s literally just fresh fruit, sugar and water blended, and then frozen in an ice cream maker. I definitely don’t feel as guilty indulging in a scoop of sorbet as I normally would with ice cream. I absolutely adore pineapple, so the idea of a fresh pineapple sorbet really appealed to me. There is nothing more disappointing to me than a pineapple that is not quite ripe, so make sure yours is perfectly ripe (test-taste a slice or two!) for the perfect pineapple sorbet. Trust me, it tastes exactly like fresh pineapple, but about a thousand times better!

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Pineapple Sorbet

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
8-10 tbsp. sugar
½ cup water

Directions:
Combine the pineapple, sugar and water in a blender or food processor. Puree until completely smooth. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

—SOURCE—
Annie’s Eats,  adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Spiced Apple Cream Cheese Danish Braid

I’ve had this particular recipe bookmarked for quite some time now, but I never got around to trying it out. I absolutely adore danishes, and if there were any way for me to have a danish for breakfast every day without becoming morbidly obese, I probably would. This was actually the first thing I made when I got back from camp and was able to make use of my kitchen again.

Looking at this recipe, it might seem a little daunting to make this spiced apple cream cheese danish braid at first. If you have tried making croissants before, you will notice that the process for making the pastry dough for this danish is pretty much  the exact same as that for making the croissants. 

Like the croissants, this is a more time-consuming recipe, but it is well worth it. The result is a buttery, flaky crust with a delicious apple and cream cheese filling. Yum!

I made the dough and the fillings the day before and kept it refrigerated overnight. It was pretty easy to assemble in the morning and made for a pretty impressive breakfast 🙂

 

The most important thing that comes to mind when making this is that you can never have too much flour on your work surface when you are working with the dough!!!!  I didn’t end up taking pictures of the process, but I promise you, you will not regret having too much flour on your counter/mat. Remember, you can always shake any excess flour off of the dough, but if you don’t have enough flour, the dough will stick to the counter/mat and make it very difficult to peel off/work with.

Spiced Apple Cream Cheese Danish Braid

Ingredients:

For the Danish dough:
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1½ tsp. instant yeast*
¼ cup sugar
¾ tsp. salt
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the butter square:
12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

For the cream cheese filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. sugar

For the apple filling:
1 tbsp. butter
2 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin (I used Granny Smith)
2 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

For the glaze:
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tsp. milk, plus more as needed

For the drizzle:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp. milk, plus more as needed

*Instant yeast = rapid rise yeast = bread machine yeast

Directions:
To make the dough, combine 1¼ cups of the flour in a bowl with the yeast, sugar, and salt.  Place the milk and egg in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and knead until a smooth ball of dough forms, about 7-8 minutes.  (The dough should be sticky but if more dough sticks to the bowl than the dough hook, add the remaining ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.)  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the butter square, toss together the butter pieces and flour on a clean work surface.  Smear the butter back and forth using a bench scraper against the work surface until they have combined into a smooth homogenous mixture.  Wrap the butter mixture in plastic wrap and use the edges of the plastic to form it into a 5-inch square.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour.  Lay the chilled dough on the work surface and roll into a 9-inch square.  Place the butter square diagonally on top the dough and remove the plastic wrap.  Fold the corners of dough over the butter so that they meet in the middle of the butter square.  Pinch the ends of the dough together to seal.  Using a rolling pin , tap the dough from the center outward until the butter begins to soften and become malleable.  Gently roll the dough into an 11-inch square, re-flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking.  Fold the outside edges of the dough in toward the center in thirds, one overlapping the other, like a business letter.  Repeat this process folding the other direction to make a square.  (This completes two turns.)  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Roll the dough into an 11-inch square once more and repeat the two turns as before (business letter, then square).  Wrap in plastic wrap again and chill once more for at least 4 hours.  (At this point the dough can be refrigerated overnight).

To make the cream cheese filling, combine the cream cheese, lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl.  Mix well until smooth and blended.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  Combine the apple slices, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and toss well to combine.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the apples are tender, about 15-18 minutes.  Let cool before using.

When you are ready to shape and bake the danish, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  On a large, very well floured sheet of parchment paper roll the chilled dough into a 14-inch square.  Spread the cream cheese filling evenly down the middle third of the dough.  Lay the apples over the top of the cream cheese mixture.  Using a pizza cutter or a paring knife, cut the outer thirds of dough into ¾-inch strips so that the cuts are diagonal to the filling.  Alternating sides, fold the strips of dough over the filling, crisscrossing the strips over the center, until the entire Danish is braided.  Transfer the braid, still on the parchment, to a baking sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and rise at room temperature until slightly puffy (it will not double), about 30 minutes.

Bake until the braid is golden brown, 22-26 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.  To make the glaze, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time as needed to thin the glaze.  Transfer to a cooking rack and brush with the glaze while still hot.  Cool to room temperature.  To make the drizzle, combine the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time as needed to make it a drizzle-able consistency.  Drizzle over the finished braid.  Slice crosswise and serve.

Source: Annie’s Eats, from Baking Illustrated