I was recently the lucky recipient of a large box of fall fruit from my uncle who had just been in the Okanogan. The Bartlett pears were divine, my favorite fruit when they are the perfect ripeness. A little trick I learned from the pear growers: pears ripen from the inside out so don't squeeze the flesh to judge ripeness, instead feel the ends. If they are starting to soften eat the pear. If the outside is getting soft the inside is usually turning brown and is unpleasantly mushy.
But this is about apples. Also in the box were various kinds of apples, all very authentic with their matte, just picked off the tree look. We have been eating them like crazy, but I decided to do something extra special with some of them. As I have mentioned before I don't really like pastry, but do love the baked apple cinnamon taste of the filling. My all time favorite dessert is cheese cake and one of my favorite cookies is shortbread...when I came across the recipe for this apple tart on the Joy of Baking website there was no decision to made. Start to preheat the oven!
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
One 8-ounce package of light cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups BC apples, cut into 1/4 inch slices (about 2-3 large apples)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Spray a 9 inch (23 cm) spring form pan with non-stick spray. I think you could use a pie pan as well.
Crust: In the bowl of your food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and pulse to blend together. Add the butter and pulse until dough just begins to come together. Pat the dough onto the bottom and one inch up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator while you make the filling. My crust was still quite powdery, it didn’t “come together” as the recipe states. I was thinking flop for sure, but it turned out fine. I still was able to press it into the pan.
Filling: In a food processor process the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and mix well. Blend in the egg and vanilla extract and process until smooth. Remove the crust from the fridge and pour in the filling.
Topping: Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Toss the sliced apples in the sugar mixture. Spoon the apples evenly over the cream cheese layer and sprinkle with almonds. Place the spring form pan on a larger baking sheet to catch any drips.
Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees F and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is brown, the apples are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, and the filling is almost set. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve at room temperature. Leftovers can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. Adapted from here.
So what did I do differently? I used whole wheat flour instead of white, I reduced the amount of sugar, used light cream cheese and didn't peel the apples. Didn't make an ounce of difference in the taste, I loved every bite...no maybe savored is a better description. I do think butter is essential to the short bread crust. Making shortbread cookies with margarine is a crime as far as I am concerned, so not happening with the crust either. A slice of this tart comes in at 273 calories, 16 grams of fat and 8 grams of sugar. A slice of apple pie is 400 calories, 21 grams of fat and 23 grams of sugar, quite the savings and a much better taste if I do say so myself.
I would also like to plug my hand blender that is pictured above (I used this in place of a food processor with this recipe). Love this thing...I hesitate to call it a gadget as that implies something more gimmicky. It is a motor top portion that attaches to either an emersion blender (great for soups and making baby foods), food processing unit (use it for fresh salsa, guacamole, dips) and a whisk attachment (perfect for small jobs where a mixer is over kill). The best part - all dishwasher safe. Every time I use it it makes me happy.
Anyways the tart was a hit all around. It is also a way to appreciate the changing seasons and all they have to offer. The smell of apples baking evokes crisp mornings, crunching leaves underfoot and all else that fall means to you.
It was such a sunny weekend that a visit to the pumpkin patch at Shamrock Farms in Comox was a top priority (amongst having friends over for dinner, painting our den and finishing some fall yard maintenance).
We were happy to have my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin along for the ride. If you live in the area and have not yet been to Shamrock Farms you have to go. There are chickens to feed, goats to pet, a fun Halloween display and of course pumpkins to pick. My son took a particular shine to a certain black chicken and a dirt pile so that he could hardly be convinced to go to the patch to choose a pumpkin. In the end we left with four perfect pumpkins (one for each family member plus little miss or mister still to arrive).
Before we even got to the patch we started out with pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. Why not? My Mom found the recipe in the Save-On-Foods flyer and knew I would love it. I am a huge fan of pumpkin pie (the filling really as I don’t love pastry). This was a no-brainer to try.
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp of cinnamon or pumpkin spice (a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice)
1.5 cups of low fat milk
1 cup canned pumpkin (just plain pumpkin not pie filling)
¼ cup vegetable oil
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a small bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, eggs, and oil. Stir into dry ingredients until just blended.
Pour about 1/4 to 1⁄3 cup batter onto hot griddle or frying pan. Cook until tops are bubbly, turn and cook other side until browned.
Makes 10-12 Pancakes
These were very moist and tender. I found I had to add a little more milk to thin the batter a bit. The pumpkin wasn’t very strong so kids and non-pumpkin lovers would likely not be offended. I made a double batch and froze some for easy toasting on weekday mornings. Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene and this recipe is a great way to get some extra in. I think a few chopped pecans could be a really nice addition.
I made a few changes: I used all whole wheat flour instead of a blend of white and whole wheat, I also just added the eggs whole. The original recipe called for separating them then whipping the whites, which wasn’t necessary for a nice end product…why add extra time and dishes?! I will also say that the canned pumpkin smell and appearance can be a bit of a turn off, power through.
Get your fall on people!
I had a wonderful Thanksgiving long weekend filled with family and old friends, which I am incredibly thankful for. I also managed to squeeze in two amazing Thanksgiving dinners (also thankful for that). One of which left me with a turkey carcass. I suggested on Facebook that you save yours by throwing it in the freezer. I hope you did because I have a bang-up cream of turkey soup recipe to share.
As you can see the carcass above still has quite a bit of meat and skin on it. This needs to be removed before you make your broth. Keep the meat to add to the soup. The carcass doesn’t look pretty or sound pretty, but it makes a beautiful broth. It is also waste reduction to the max, that turkey gave it’s all. Making broth is soooo easy, you don’t have to measure anything and you don’t even have to peel your veggies. If your carcass is already clean you don’t have to thaw it out first.
1 leftover turkey carcass and pieces of meat
3 medium onions, chopped
4 large carrots, diced
4 celery ribs, diced
1 cup butter or non-hydrogenated margarine (or a combo of both)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups of homogenized or low fat milk
1 cup uncooked brown rice
salt and pepper to taste
Place turkey carcass in a large pot and cover with water. Add 1 onion cut in quarters, 2 celery ribs and 2 carrots cut into three. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2-3 hour. Remove carcass; cool. Once cooled skim the fat from the top. Set aside 3 liters of broth. This can be done the day or night before.
In a large pot, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in butter or margarine until tender. Reduce heat; stir in flour until blended. It will look quite thick and dry like the photo below. Gradually add 1 liter of reserved broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Add milk, rice, salt, pepper, remaining broth and reserved turkey. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until rice is tender.
Makes 16 servings.
Adapted from here.
This recipe makes a pretty substantial amount of soup. One option is to make the full amount of broth, but only make a 1/2 recipe of soup. The broth can be frozen and used to make another soup or in place of chicken stock in other recipes (how much better does the homemade taste anyways?).
I have made a few changes from the original: I used less salt, more veggies, brown rice instead of white and milk instead of cream. This comes in at about 196 calories per bowl and about 11 grams of fat (much less saturated if you use margarine instead of butter 7.4 g vs. 1.9). You can also make this with a couple chicken carcasses if you save them up!
Finished product is to die for. I could eat soup almost everyday, I find it so comforting. My husband does not really agree, but he is always excited for this.
Hope you all had a great weekend as well and were able to set aside some time to think about all the things you are grateful for in your lives. Maybe this soup will make your list next year…it is that good.
There is no doubt that being pregnant is an amazing thing. The fact that I am actually growing a baby, feeling little, tiny kicks while somehow carrying on in my usual life is beyond comprehension. Pregnancy is also amazing in that it has morphed me into a teenage boy. In that I have some nice acne, am sprouting hairs in new places and at times have an appetite that could empty a refrigerator, but whatever I am GLOWING (right?)!
A lot has been made of pregnancy food cravings, endless jokes and stereotypical items (ice cream and pickles anyone). When I was pregnant with my son it was grapefruits. I was hoarding them, afraid I would run short of the three I NEEDED per day. This time it has been chicken chow mien. It is salty, a carbohydrate load and readily available. After a good dose my accompanying fortune was as follows:
It was like the universe was talking to me (would anyone besides a dietitian get this fortune, never mind act on it?). If I have a skill it is taking a food and making it healthier. Look out chicken chow mien you are on my hit list.
1 pkg (14 oz/400 g) fresh chow mein noodles (found in the refrigerator section at most grocery stores)
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp grated gingerroot (optional, not my thing)
2 cups chopped broccoli
3/4 cup snap peas, trimmed
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 sweet peppers, cut into matchsticks
2 celery ribs, chopped
3/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 cup bean sprouts
1 tbsp sesame seeds
In large saucepan of boiling water, cook noodles until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain well and set aside in colander.
Meanwhile, in bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil (the smell of this mixture is fantastic). Thinly slice chicken crosswise; add to bowl, tossing to coat.
In large wok or skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the vegetable oil over high heat; stir-fry chicken mixture for 2 minutes. Transfer to plate.
Add remaining oil to pan; reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic and ginger; stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add broccoli, snap peas, peppers, carrots, celery and 1/4 cup chicken stock; cover and steam for 3 minutes. Add noodles and stock; stir-fry until hot. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan; add bean sprouts and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds. Adapted from here.
The finished product was still more than craving satisfying with much more veggies and without all the fat and sodium as take out. You're welcome baby. Our son also loved this, he was so busy eating the noodles he didn't notice the veggies coming along for the ride. It does make a lot, so if you don't have a large wok you may want to half the recipe.
On a side note Selena and Trevor's Wedding was amazing, had a wonderful time. The Shelter Point Distillery is a beautiful venue, with Rebecca Berry as a great events co-ordinator (and a blog reader, awesome). I will share an Erin Wallis Photography photo of the bride and her girls as a little follow up.
Tiffany McFadden, RD