Category Archives: Breakfast Foods

Purely Pear Sauce and The Joys of Eating In Bed

Pear sauce made with Bartlett pears…but pictured with Bosc pears. Because I ate all the Bartletts.

As I type this, I’m eating breakfast in bed. My breakfast? Freshly made pear sauce — fragrant and smooth and delicately-flavoured and just scrumptious! I’m spooning it up straight out of the jar, because I plan on eating the entire thing! Fresh pear sauce is so yummy. It’s just like applesauce, but…pear.

And have I mentioned how easy it is to make? So. Incredibly. Easy.

Pears were on sale this week and last week, so I had the DH buy lots so that I could make lots. I like to stir it into my homemade yoghurt sometimes, to sweeten it slightly, and add some fruit and fibre.

Want to make some yourself? Let’s! Be prepared though, it’s jaw-droppingly easy.

Purely Pear Sauce

Ingredients:

  • a bag of ripe pears

Peel pears, and quarter them. Remove pits and stems. Place in a pan over medium heat. The pears will release enough liquid that they shouldn’t stick to the pan, but be sure to stir it occasionally. Once the pears are mushy and appear to be cooked through, you can either mash them with a potato masher, use a stick blender to blend them in the pot, or blend them in a kitchen blender. And…done!

I know it seems too easy to be true — I was surprised myself. Even the DH didn’t believe the sauce only contained pears; he thought for sure that I had added in sugar. Nope! It’s Purely Pear Sauce!

I like to use ripe Bartlett pears for this sauce, and personally, I leave the skins on so that I get some extra fibre (and then just make sure to blend it extra well at the end). You can use Bosc pears as well (or any pear, really) but it will be a slightly different texture (a tad more grainy) and taste. That said, eh, use what you want! Life is too short to always follow the recipe. Tee hee!

Next Post: I made a great pea soup flavoured with ham bits for the DH. Should I post that? I think so! Or maybe something sweet. Mmm…I sure do love my baked goods!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, and Happiness is Homemade!

Short-Cut Cinnamon Buns, Because Yummy Shouldn’t Be Laborious

Too good to eat only one. And made so quickly, too!

Cinnamon Buns! I love them. I eat them. I used to hate making them, because of the long process: make the dough, let the dough rise, punch it down, let it rise again, roll it out, roll it up, cut it and let it rise, and fiiiiiiinallly bake it and eat it. And that’s not including all the steps for the filling. Ugh. Am tired just thinking about it. Generally, if I wanted cinnamon buns, I had to make them in the morning for dessert in the evening, or at the very least, make them the night before.

But no more!

I came up with a super-easy short-cut version! In my version, there’s only one rising of the cinnamon buns before baking, and frankly, you *could* skip that too (the buns would just be much more dense and not as fluffy).

The secret?

Start with my Easiest Pizza Dough in the History of Ever! Then you spread cinnamon butter all over it, roll it up, pop it in a pan to rise (only 1x!), and bake it. I can start these before dinner and have them for dessert! 

Short-Cut Cinnamon Buns

  • 1 batch pizza dough
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened to just beyond room temperature

Make the dough. Let it rest at least 10 minutes before rolling it out into a lasagna pan sized rectangle.

Mix softened butter with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until it is properly mixed and essentially a cinnamon spread. Spread butter on rolled out dough.

Roll up dough, length-wise. Use dental floss to cut roll into two inch slices (see technique below).

Place in a lasagna pan and let rise in a warm place until the dough has expanded and the side of the buns are sticking together.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Let sit until cool. If you like icing, mix up some icing (icing sugar, milk, vanilla extract, cream cheese is optional) and drizzle on top. Eat and enjoy the sticky, yummy, cinnamon buns!

Don’t they look yummy! (Spoiler alert: they ARE yummy!)

KITCHEN HACK

How to cut delicate doughs (or soft cheeses)? With dental floss! Yup, you read that right! You slide the thread underneath the dough/cheese and cross the end of the string overtop, and then pull. It slices easily and without compressing the dough or cheese all flat. I first did this when I made swiss rolls as a teenager, and it is such an easy technique to get perfect slices! Obviously, you don’t use flavoured floss, and the thinner the floss, the better. Try it out yourself!

KITCHEN HACK #2

Want to make fluffier cinnamon buns? Add in a tablespoon of corn starch to the dough when you’re making it, as in this recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns. The corn starch takes up space without sticking to itself as flour does, which makes the dough that much more tender. This technique is good for all sorts of baked goods!

But back to my cinnamon buns. You could make these cinnamon buns taller and more like commercial buns if you make them in a 9×9 pan as opposed to a lasagna pan, and cut them in 4 inch buns (i.e. taller). Personally, I’m happy with the small buns, because…portion control. Of course, that just means that I need to eat two servings, amirite?

Next Post: A Memories of Meals Past post, combined with a Salads I Have Known and Loved post. That’s right, we’re about to get all ancient grains up in this blog!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday, Nifty Thrifty SundayClever Chicks Blog Hop, The Art of Homemaking, and Happiness is Homemade!

Easy Slow-Cooker Yoghurt & Good Gut Health

A protein-filled snack: Greek-style yoghurt, with walnuts and honey.

Back in the 70’s, when I was but a twinkle in my dad’s eye, my parents lived on the beautiful east coast of Canada, in the province of Newfoundland. Despite working as an engineer, my dad dreamt of being an entrepreneur. My mother made delicious homemade yoghurt, so *lightbulb*, my dad thought this could be the start of a yoghurt business empire. He called up a local hospital and asked them if they would be interested in buying yoghurt for their patients, yoghurt being a health food and all.

“Yoghurt?” asked the dietician, “Isn’t that made from bacteria? Doesn’t that stuff make you sick?”

Alas, apparently the granola-eating, Birkenstock-wearing hippies that the 70’s are known for, had yet to infiltrate Newfoundland. My dad’s future yoghurt empire was shot down by a bacteria-wary dietician, intent on protecting his patients from live cultures.

But you all know better, right? Yoghurt is the stuff of gut dreams! Those live cultures are populating your gut with healthy bacteria, helping you fight off gastrointestinal nastiness.

And if that doesn’t convince you to make your own yoghurt, well, what about if I tell you that it’s delicious? Easy, inexpensive, healthy, AND delicious! What more could a foodie ask for?

EASY-PEASY SLOW-COOKER YOGHURT

  • 4 l. milk
  • 1/2 c. yoghurt with live cultures (the “live cultures” bit is crucial. Make sure the container has that labeling.)
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Heat milk until close to 180 degrees. (I measured it using a candy thermometer.) Be careful though, when it gets close to 180 degrees, it’s easy to forget about it and let it start boiling — which means a scorched pot. Personally, as long as the temperature is between 150 and 180 degrees, I think it’s all good. Basically, heating the milk means that you’re changing the structure of the proteins, which is necessary for the milk to be cultured into yoghurt.

Let milk cool until it reaches 120 degrees, and pour into a slow cooker. Let the mixture cool in the slow cooker until it reaches 110 degrees, and whisk in 1/2 c. of yoghurt and the vanilla extract. The heat of the cooling milk will heat up the ceramic insert in the slow cooker; this helps keep the cultures in the mixture at the ideal temperature for growing and turning that milk into yoghurt. By the way, I’ve forgotten to add the vanilla extract at times, and it doesn’t make much of a difference if you’re going to be stirring in jam anyway, but if you plan to eat it plain, definitely add the extract!

Wrap the entire slow-cooker in several towels, and leave for at least 12 hours (overnight works for me).  So, you’re not actually using the slow-cooker to cook anything; you’re using it as a heat-retaining receptable. Some people make yoghurt by wrapping a pot of milk in a heating pad, some people make hot boxes for their yoghurt. Me? An unplugged slow-cooker, a few towels, and a good nights sleep mean that I wake up to freshly cultured yoghurt!

When you open up your slow-cooker after 12 hours, you should be able to see that there is a clear, yellowish liquid around the edges of the yoghurt. That’s the whey, and can be drained off to be used in baking or for adding protein to smoothies, or just mix it back into the yoghurt! This yoghurt will be somewhat thin, depending on whether or not you drain off the whey. But this is what real yoghurt looks like, when there’s no gelatin added in like commercial yoghurt has!

That curdle, tho!

That curdle, tho!

GREEK-STYLE YOGHURT

To make thick, luscious Greek-style yoghurt, just drain the whey from the yoghurt until the desired thickness is reached. To do so, place a sieve over a bowl, and place some cheesecloth or a clean cotton dishtowel over the sieve. Pour the yoghurt into the sieve and let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Bam! Greek yoghurt, baby!

LACTOSE-INTOLERANT? HAVE NO FEAR!

I think I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m lactose-intolerant. I can eat food with lactose, but I try to reduce it as much as possible, to reduce my stomach discomfort as much as possible (Except for pizza. For pizza, I will periodically suffer!). The good news is that with this homemade yoghurt, you can make it almost lactose-free! How? Just let the yoghurt incubate for 24 hours as opposed to 12. It will be more sour (because the sugar — i.e. lactose — will have been eaten up by the good bacteria), but hey, less lactose!

A protein-filled snack: Greek-style yoghurt, with walnuts and honey.

A protein-filled snack: Greek-style yoghurt, with walnuts and honey.

I love eating this yoghurt mixed up with my clean-eating cranberry granola, or with some homemade jam to sweeten it up. Or sprinkled with walnuts and honey! I do love yoghurt…and so does my gut!

Next Post: Lentil sprouts! Also easy, also delicious. Plus, it’s fun to watch them grow!

Linking up at Meal-Plan Monday! And again!

Custardy Apple Squares & How I Manage My Sweet Tooth

ready-to-be-eaten-all-up

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.

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

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! And this one!