Custardy Apple Squares & How I Manage My Sweet Tooth


If you’ve ever read basically ANY post on this site, you’ll know by now that I have a sweet tooth. I do looooove my sweets! I also like being healthy, so obviously I’ve got to balance the two things out: sugar vs. health — it’s a knockdown, drag-out battle! Which…health will win, because I manage my sweet tooth with one thing.

What is this magic thing that keeps my sweet tooth happy and my health at an even keel?

Fruit. That’s it. That’s the key.

Simple, yes?

The DH and I manage to eat at least 3 fruit bowls worth of fruit every week, no joke, and most of that is because of me. I wake up and eat fruit with my breakfast, often grab a piece of fruit when running out of the door to work, sometimes pack some fruit in my lunch on top of salads and definitely pack a homemade fruit salad in the DH’s lunch, come home after work and eat some fruit before dinner, and then eat looooots of fruit in the evening as snacks. High in fibre (which is important for me with my IBS), low(-ish) in calories, and full of taste and sweet, sweet sugar! Ah, fruit! How I do love thee!

Despite the strong relationship that I have with fruit, I still have a love affair with baked goods. How to marry the two? In recipes like my deeeelicious Harvest Apple Crumble (award-winning, yo’!) or in this week’s bake-a-long recipe, Custardy Apple Squares.

Those layers though!

Those layers though!

It’s autumn, and my bake-a-long group is baking an apple recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. Basically, it’s apple slices covered in a leeeetle bit of batter (similar to crepe batter), and baked until puffy and golden.

It goes into the pan all lumpy and bumpy and comes out of the pan all layered and golden. Let it cool, slice it up, sprinkle with icing sugar, and eat with abandon! It’s surprisingly healthy, and yet surprisingly tasty — mostly due to fruit, sweet fruit!

So, there you have it. Got a sweet tooth? Satisfy it with fruit. Or baked goods containing fruit. Or…chocolate-covered fruit? Oh, yes, I think that would win!

Next Post: Homemade yoghurt, oh yeah!!! Way super-duper easier than you think. Like, seriously.

Clean Eating Cranberry Granola and Degrees of Crunchiness

Yum yum, in my tum! Or on top of homemade Greek yoghurt.

Yum yum, in my tum! Or on top of homemade Greek yoghurt.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pioneer. I had read all of the Little House on the Prairie books, and wanted to be living on a prairie, making my own bread, sewing, wearing a bonnet, and so on. Today I make my own bread, I sew, and…I don’t wear a bonnet.

Given that I wanted to be a pioneer, it’s no surprise that I tend to make pretty wholesome food, decadent chocolate desserts notwithstanding. That said, I’ve left my pioneer day behind and these days, am showing more of a hippy-ish streak. Quoi, you ask? Well…I’ve mastered making my own yoghurt (mostly because I wanted to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet), and my latest love-love-love-it food: granola!!! Or better yet, mixing homemade yoghurt with homemade granola! And that’s the hippy-ness I was talking about. (If I had Birkenstocks, I would be a granola-eating Birkenstock wearing stereotype. But I don’t. Down with stereotypes, people!)

I’ve tried several recipes over the course of the last few months (chocolate almond granola, anyone?) and found that they all seem to suggest too long a roasting time in the oven. My chocolate almond granola burnt after too long in the oven (which I stubbornly ate, because chocolate). So when I came across a recipe on The Prudent Homemaker website that only called for a short period of roasting, I was intrigued!

Of course, me being me, I modified the recipe. I added some things in, I changed some amounts, I threw in flax seeds because I have too much flax in my kitchen, and then I ate the entire batch within a couple of days. By myself. Just me. (I have no regrets. Was fibre-licious!)

Speaking of pioneers and hippies, check out The Prudent Homemaker website. This woman has eight kids (!) and manages to homeschool all of them, while growing a hugggge amount of food (in the desert yet), cooking from scratch, AND doing it all on a minute budget. I think she is the closest thing to superwoman I will ever come across. What I really love about the site though, besides the encouraging vibe, is her focus on making life beautiful. I think everyone could use more beauty in their lives.

And granola, because this granola is da’ BOMB! (It’s really good, is what I’m saying.) Try it out, modify it to suit your tastes, serve it to others and wait for their stunned reaction when you casually mention that you made it yourself, and pop it into canning jars with pretty labels and give it away as gifts. Which is what I plan to do for Christmas. (Only 2 1/2 months away, people!) The pepitas and dried cranberries give a nice green and red theme to the granola, perfect for Christmas.

Lookin' wholesome!

Lookin’ wholesome!

Clean Eating Cranberry Granola (adapted from The Prudent Homemaker, props yo’)

  • 3 cups oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or any dried fruit, but I like cranberries because of the slight chewiness. Also, I like lots of dried fruit. If you don’t, decrease the amount of dried fruit that you add.)
  • 1 c. shredded coconut
  • ½ c. pepitas
  • ¼ c. flax seeds
  • 3 tbsp. flax meal

Mix together everything but the dried fruit, and spread that mixture on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden and toasty looking. Make sure to stir the mixture once or twice during the roasting, in order to get an evenly toasted granola.

Once granola is cooked and cooled, stir in dried fruit. And enjoy!!!  Makes the equivalent of a box of (healthy) granola from the grocery store. Or, enough for me for a week. (Is delicious!)

If you make this recipe, let me know how you modified it! I’d love to get some inspiration from my blog readers!

Next Post: Apple Pie, French-Style! Or…easy-peasy homemade yoghurt. Or apple custard! So many yummy things to blog about, what’s a gal to do!

Linking up at Southern Plate this week!

Everything is Coming Up Beets! (Easy Mennonite Pickled Beets)

Pickled beets, Mennonite-style. I feel so pioneer-ish!

Pickled beets, Mennonite-style. I feel so pioneer-ish!

Given that it’s fall, root vegetables are having their moment. My local grocery store had 10 lb bags of root veggies on sale for $1.97 last week, which is the best price you’ll find all year. So I? Bought 30 lbs worth. That’s right — 30 lbs of delicious root veggies! Ten pounds each of carrots, onions, and beets. Time to get on a preservation kick!

I chopped, blanched, and froze 5 lbs of carrots, as well as all 10 lbs of onions. Onions don’t freeze perfectly, but eh, good enough.


How not to cry when chopping onions: wear swimming goggles! You might look silly, but hey, you won’t be crying! (The same wasn’t true for the DH. After chopping 10 lbs of onions, the fumes had drifted out of the kitchen where I was working, along the hall, and into the man cave where the DH was. Let’s just say it was an emotional moment and leave it at that. Tee hee hee!) Seriously though, swimming goggles — do it!

So. That’s the carrots and the onions taken care of. But how to preserve (and eat) the beets? I made beet and bean hummus one time (sound bizarrely horrible, I know, but it’s actually bizarrely delicious), which we ate with homemade tortillas. And we’ve been eating salad topped with roasted beets, crumbled goat cheese, and vinaigrette all week. But still. Ten pounds of beets is a LOT of beets!

So I called up my mom and got her to tell me the pickled beet recipe that she used when I was growing up. I asked her where she found it, and she told me that she had received the recipe from a neighbour, who had said that it was a recipe from a Mennonite community. This is a verrrrry easy recipe that even a beginner cook can make, and it’s great as a side dish to round out a meal and bring some ‘eat the rainbow’ colour to your plate. All you’re doing is boiling, peeling, and chopping the beets, and then mixing the chopped beets with a quick pickling syrup. Easy as pie. (Actually, much MUCH easier.)

I'm all about the rough chop.

I’m all about the rough chop.

Shall we?

Easy Pickled Beets

  • 8 medium beets
  • 1 c. vinegar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 3/4 sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • pinch of cloves

Boil beets until tender. Let cool, and the skins will rub right off under cold water. Slice the beets to your desired thickness (I tend to do a ‘rough chop’, but then again, I have no time for finicky cutting). Next, bring syrup ingredients (everything but the beets!) to a boil, and mix with sliced beets. Bam, done!

The longer you let the beets sit in the pickling syrup, the stronger the pickled flavour will be. You can serve these beets hot or cold (I love both!), as a side dish, on top of a salad, or just eat them with a fork. I like to can mine so that I can enjoy fresh autumn flavour all winter long, but you do you! And eat them knowing that not only do they taste delicious, but they’re packed full of nutrients! #WinningAtAdulting #TastesStillComesFirst

Next Post: Homemade Yoghurt? Homemade clean eating granola? Lentil sprouts? Oh dear, have I gone to the crunchy side? Fear not! More sugar (and fall flavour) is on the way with apple pie and pear custard squares!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday x2 and at this linkup too. Plus this one aaaaaand this one!

French-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Squish Factor

*stares at cookies as though hypnotized*

*stares at cookies as though hypnotized*

This week, my bake-a-long group is making Edouard’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, aka French-style chocolate chip cookies, from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. What are French-style chocolate chip cookies, you ask? Apparently, ones where some of the flour is subbed out for hazelnut or almond flour.

But…I used up the last of my almond flour weeks ago, and I’ve never, ever come across hazelnut flour at my local bulk store, so…what’s a gal to do?

Substitute, you say? You betcha! With what? Huh. Good question. More flour?

Obviously replacing a ground almonds with flour is not going to have the same results — flour binds differently than ground nuts. But if it comes down to a) having chocolate chip cookies tonight, fresh out of the oven, or b) NOT having chocolate chip cookies tonight, well, I think we all know what I’m going to choose!  The answer is clear, is it not? Chocolate chip cookies forever! (*sung to the tune of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, except with more glee*)

So I added in more flour to replace the ground nuts, but only about half the quantity, as at that point, the dough seemed dry enough. I also added in about 1/4 c. ground flax. (In my mind, the benefits of the flax seed compensate for the butter, sugar, and chocolate. I’m sure you agree.)

I still followed the rest of Dorie’s instructions. Except for the part where she says to let the dough chill in the fridge. Um, no? I need cookies ASAP, people! Forget that!

I did, however, follow her instructions for baking. I baked for 8 minutes, and then used a spatula to SQUISH them flat! Oh joy! (Technically, Dorie says to flatten with spatula. I interpreted this as ‘squish with intent’.) I have a colleague who loves to shred things; she just finds it so satisfying. That’s how I feel about squishing things — it just satisfies my inner toddler!

That texture, tho!

That texture, tho!

The cookies turned out rather nice! The squishing definitely added something to them, as otherwise the high flour content meant that they wouldn’t flatten. I’m sure if one follows the recipe, they’ll flatten much more easily, probably due in part to the higher fat content.

The recipe says that it will make 5o cookies, and indeed that is the case. I’m sending these in with the DH to his work tomorrow, but…only 40 cookies worth. The DH taste-tested two of cookies right out of the oven. And the other eight somehow managed to hop into my mouth when I wasn’t looking. I’m not complaining though! (My scale might complain, but me? Complain about chocolate? Nuh uh.)

I’ll probably try to make these cookies again, this time with the nut flour. I think it would add such a lovely nutty note to the standard chocolate chip cookies. Want to see how others make them? Check it out here!

Next Post: Sprouting green things? Low sugar yoghurt? Or…sugary, buttery, bites of goodness? Stay tuned!

Linking Up at Southern Plate for Meal Plan Mondays!

Mini Skor Cupcakes — Easy, Impressive, and (Most Importantly) Delicious!

Oh, baby, just look at the chocolate buttercream!

Oh, baby, just look at the chocolate buttercream!

The latest dispatch from the Anemia Front: After a week of diligently supplementing with iron pills, and eating large quantities of kale (via my yummy antioxidant smoothies), I feel like I’m finally regaining a modicum of energy back. Next steps including dosing myself with blackstrap molasses and cooking everything in cast-iron pans (iron leaches out into the food. Handy!) After a few weeks (months?) of this, I shall be…Iron-Woman! Able to bake cakes and crush spatulas with equal ease! Or something to that effect.

But in the meantime, I’ve gone through my photo files and pulled out a recipe to post. Mini Skor Cupcakes! I sent these in to the DH’s work a few months ago, and I believe they were pretty well received. I may have brought some in to my workplace as well. Or I may have eaten them. Can’t remember. Either way, I highly recommend making (and eating) some yourself!

The chopping up of deliciousness.

The chopping up of deliciousness.

Mini Skor Cupcakes

  • 1 batch chocolate cake batter (this is my absolute fave)
  • 1 batch buttercream frosting (I make my own using this recipe, minus the Oreos)
  • cocoa powder to taste
  • Skor toffee bits (I bought mine at Bulk Barn)
  • chopped up Skor bar (I bought a bag of Skor bites, and then chopped those up)

Bake the cupcakes (I made minis), and let them cool. While they are cooling, mix up a batch of buttercream frosting. Mix in enough cocoa so that it has the degree of chocolate taste that you want (I *think* I put in between 1/3 and 1/2 c.). Put in a piping bag and pipe using a 1M tip. Sprinkle some Skor toffee bits on top, and press a piece of Skor bar on top. Et voila, you’re done!

Nom, nom, nom, that is all.

Nom, nom, nom, that is all.

Aren’t they pretty? And best of all, yummy! Although surprisingly easy (bake, ice, sprinkle, and press), they do look rather fancy. Best to make a nice big batch — because these will go like hotcakes! (Except that they’re cupcakes. Mmm…cupcakes!)

Next Post: Chocolate cookies? Apple pie? Or homemade yoghurt and sprouted lentils? Healthy vs. sweet. Why can’t they be both?

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, and A Proverbs 31 Wife.