Category Archives: Snacks

Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread, and My Childhood Dream

Garden veggie spread in a container, next to two slices of bread being spread with the cream cheese mixture. Next to those items is a mason jar that is spilling out dehydrated peppers, and a garlic bulb in the corner.
I can’t even tell you how yummy this healthy cream cheese spread is! So yum. All the yums!

When I was a child, I used to loooooove eating raw red peppers. My mother would cut them into sticks and give them to us for lunches and snacks and I would gobble them up. I always said that when I was grown up, I would eat nothing but red peppers for a whole day. Fast forward a few years (*cough* decades *cough*) and my sweet husband, who knows that I still love red peppers, comes home from a shopping trip with several BAGS of them. Now, I love red peppers but there’s only so many even I can eat. What to do? Well, I sliced and froze some, and then I dehydrated the rest. I used the dehydrated peppers in soups and stews and tossed them in my Best Ever Macaroni Salad, but I still had a ton left. That is, until I started making Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread!

This cream cheese spread is chock-full of veggies and is tastes absolutely incredible for something that only has four ingredients. It’s slightly sweet and totally savoury and is perfect to spread on fresh bread, toasted bagels, or even crackers.

I plan to add it to the next cheese and cracker platter that I make; that is, if any is left after the DH and I finish taste-testing it! I can not overstate how delicious this spread is. And bonus, there are no nasty preservatives in it, only healthy ingredients.

This spread is so good, it will have you looking forward to meal times, just so you can eat more of it! (True story, just replace ‘meal time’ with ‘late-night snack’ and you’ll be living my life!)

Want to make some yourself? Let’s!

Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread

This healthy cream cheese spread is chock-full of veggies, but tastes like your favourite coffee shop bagel spread. 

Servings 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. dehydrated red and green peppers
  • 1 tbsp. dried chives
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (227 g)

Instructions

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the dehydrated red and green peppers to a powder. You can leave a few larger chunks in, but most of it should be a finely ground powder. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a spice grinder, or even (IF you’re making a large quantity) a blender. 

  2. Soften cream cheese in a microwave for 15 seconds. This makes it easier to mix everything together. 

  3. Stir all ingredients together. 

  4. And…you’re done! Enjoy your super-delicious and healthy spread!

Dried chives, ground dehydrated peppers, and garlic powder are in a bowl. Dried peppers are spilling out of a mason jar on its side.
Three simple ingredients bring a whack-ton of flavour!

This Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread deepens in flavour the longer you let it sit, but you can also eat it right away. Personally, I like to heat it in the microwave for a few seconds after pulling it out of the fridge, so that the cream cheese spreads more easily, but if you’re serving it on a cheese platter, room temperature would be perfect.

Next Post: Easy Chocolate & Strawberry Trifle with Almond Sherry Whipped Cream. Yes, it IS as delicious as it sounds! (Also way easier than it sounds!)

Pastry-Wrapped Cranberry Baked Brie, Or How to Repurpose Leftovers!

Serve wedges of this buttery, cheesy, tangy gooeyness at your next get-together! Or, you know, when watching Netflix!

This year we hosted my family for both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, and put out yummy things to nosh on each time. One of the items was a lovely cheese and crackers tray. I love cheese and crackers as an appy, so I made one for each get-together. But after New Year’s was over, we still had some leftover brie. Not an entire wheel, but at that point I was rather cheese-and-crackered out, so thought I’d try to repurpose it into something else. (Not that leftover brie is a problem — I mean, it’s brie!) I also had some leftover cranberry sauce that I had made (so yummy and so easy — try it yourself!) so I decided to use that too. And voila,  I decided to turn it into Pastry-Wrapped Cranberry Baked Brie!

It really is rather easy. Just take some pie crust (I used my vodka pie crust recipe), some cranberry sauce, some brie, and wrap it up all together, pop it in the oven, and voila, cheesy melted goodness, wrapped up in buttery pastry with a dollop of sweetness!

It really is easy to make, and it looks (and tastes!) impressive. Want to make one of your own? Let’s!

 

5 from 1 vote
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Pastry-Wrapped Cranberry Baked Brie

This dish takes a brie and adds tangy cranberry sauce and buttery pie crust to it, for a delicious (and easy!) appetizer!

Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 1 wheel brie
  • 1 recipe pie crust
  • 6 tbsp. cranberry sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry dough into a circle. Spread 3 tbsp. of cranberry sauce in the centre. 

  3. Place the brie on top of the cranberry sauce-covered pastry, and spread the remaining 3 tbsp. of cranberry sauce on top of the brie.

  4. Bring up the edges of the pie crust to wrap around the brie.

  5. Roll out the remaining pie crust into a smaller circle and place on top of the brie. Pinch the edges of the pastry together so that no cheese or cranberry sauce is showing. 

  6. Wrap in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, and then remove foil and bake for a further 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. 

  7. Let sit for 10 minutes to let the cheese slightly solidify again, and serve! It will be ooey-goo-ily delicious!

By the way, you can use store-bought pastry dough and store-bought canned cranberry sauce, but it is just as easy and takes just as long to make it yourself as to go shopping for dough and sauce, so I encourage you to try making it from scratch yourself. If you make it, let us know in the comments what you thought of it!

My NYE cheese board, made from my Christmas Eve cheese board leftovers, and a few pantry staples. Once we were finished with it, I took the brie and turned it into Pastry-Wrapped Cranberry Baked Brie. We had already started sampling it when I decided I should take a photo.

p.s. – In case you were wondering, yes, once again I am typing this with an infant sleeping on me. She’s so cute and cuddly that I don’t even care that I have to contort myself to balance both her and my laptop at the same time! I really am enjoying this mom thing.

Next Post: Tex-Mex Potato Wedges? Or Cherry & Vanilla Oreo Mini Cheesecakes? Mmm…comfort food at its finest!

Linking Up at Full Plate Thursday!

Super-Easy & Cheesy Pizza Scrolls: An Easy Snack, Appetizer, or Light Lunch!

Ooey gooey cheesiness, oh yeah!

I’ve been lurking on Instagram lately, trying to learn the ins and outs of successful IG accounts, before launching my own account shortly. I’ve learnt some interesting things, including different foods from around the world. Case in point, have you ever heard of scrolls? I’ve never heard of them before, but they’re sort of like if a mini cinnamon bun met a savoury pastry. Apparently very popular in Australia, where vegemite scrolls are a handy item to stash in a child’s lunchbox. Naturally, I decided to make my own version: Super-Easy & Cheesy Pizza Scrolls!

That’s right — think pizza rolls, but suuuuuper easy to make, and they make even an amateur baker look like a very experienced one. And who would complain about kudos for something that you just dashed together? I think they’d be great to bring to potlucks and get-togethers. Make them smaller for appetizers, or bigger for lunches.

Let’s get to making some!

CHEESY PIZZA SCROLLS

These pizza roll-ups are great to snack on or to throw in a lunch bag. They also freeze and reheat well!

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 batch pizza dough (http://approachingfood.com/easiest-pizza-dough-ever/)
  • 3/4 c. cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 c. pizza sauce

Instructions

  1. Make pizza dough. For fluffier scrolls, let dough rise for 1 hour before punching down to get rid of excess air bubbles.

  2. Roll dough into rectangle.

  3. Spread sauce on top of rectangle, and sprinkle cheese on top.

  4. Roll up the pizza dough, long side to long side. If you roll up short side to short side, you'll have many fewer scrolls, and they'll be ginormous.

  5. Using a dough cutter (or just a sharp knife), slice the rolled up dough into slices, about 1 - 1 1/2 inch across.

  6. Place on non-stick baking tray, or on top of a silicone mat on a baking tray and bake for 1/2 hour at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, or until golden brown on top.

  7. Let cool and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

You can make your own basic pizza sauce by adding dried oregano to plain tomato sauce. Super-easy! 

To make mini scrolls, make the dough rectangle significantly wider than long. And to make fatter scrolls, make a dough square!

The trick to making really good scrolls is not to over-stuff them (I definitely overstuffed my first version!) so that you can roll them up verrrry tightly. And, if you like harder sides on your baked goods, set them by themselves on the baking tray. If you like soft-sided baked goods, make sure the sides are slightly touching. And, you’re good to go!

These scrolls are easy to customize with your favourite fillings. Why not some mini goat cheese and red pepper jelly scrolls for some fancy-pants appetizers? Or perhaps mini pesto scrolls for a switch-up? You could go authentic Australian with vegemite ones, or just toss in some grated cheese and whatever finely chopped veggies are in your fridge. If you make these, let me know what fillings you used!

Next Post: Something fruity, I think. I am eating fruit like it’s going out of fashion! Perhaps with a custardy sauce. Mmm…fruit and custard — so deliciously summery! Or maybe a vegetarian version of Chicken Tortilla Soup? Chickpea Tortilla Soup!

Linking Up at Happiness is Homemade! And at Meal Plan Monday!

Lentil Sprouts and Staying Healthy in the Season of Indulgence

 

Grow your own sprouts in 30 seconds a day! (Or less.)

Grow your own sprouts in 30 seconds a day! (Or less.)

At last, dear readers, I have gotten around to writing up this post about lentil sprouts, after blogging about it here and here. (Here too.) It costs literally pennies to grow these sprouts, and they’re uber healthy. (Healthy is important, given all the delicious, calorie-laden yumminess available around the holidays!)

Light, and crunchy, like little bites of summer freshness, these sprouts add healthiness to your salads and sandwiches. Or maybe sprinkle on top of some soup? Yes, I think that’s perfect! A bunch of fresh sprouts on top of a bowl of steaming soup, served with my favourite bread recipe. Wouldn’t that hit the spot right now?

How to make them? Rinse them in water. Bam, done!

Ok, so it’s sliiiiightly more involved than that, but only slightly. I kid you not! I present:

HOW TO GROW LENTIL SPROUTS

(or pea sprouts or alfalfa sprouts or any other sort of sprouty goodness)

  • 1/8 c. of dried lentils (now you see why I say it costs pennies!)
  • mason jar with lid
  • cheesecloth

Place dried lentils in mason jar. Stretch cheesecloth over top and fasten in place with the canning jar ring (or an elastic). Add water until covered by an inch of water. Soak for 12 hours. Empty jar of water by turning upside down and draining water through cheesecloth. Turn right side up and leave for 12 hours. Then rinse (not soak) in water,  drain water (immediately) again, and repeat rinsing and draining immediately every 12 hours or so. In a day you’ll see sprouts starting, and in 3-5 days, your sprouts will be ready to nom-nom-nom on! When you want them to stop growing, put the canning lid on them, and store in the fridge. They’ll keep for several days.

This time with dried peas!

This time with dried peas!

This is a great project to do with kids, as they can see the sprouts growing with each watering. It really is super-easy!

Be warned though, a tiny bit of dried lentils will produce a lot of sprouts! I learned this the first time I made some. I made a huge mason jar full, and after eating them with every meal for several days, I conceded sprouty fatigue, and gave the rest of the jar to a colleague.

All this said…I must add a caveat emptor: if you grow your own sprouts and it is theoretically possible that they could grow bacteria. To quote the www.foodsafety.gov website, “Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of foodborne illness. Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.” So, be informed, and make your own judgement call. I’ve never gotten sick eating homegrown sprouts, and no one I know has gotten ill eating sprouts (homegrown or otherwise), but if you grow them and they look odd, toss them and try again. Better safe than sick, amirite?

With that said, I totally suggest growing your own sprouts! Hey, you get to grow your own nutrients, and look all cool doing it (at least, I think it’s cool!) If you grow them, take a photo and tag me on my facebook page! I’d love to see the fruits (vegetables, actually) of your labour!

Next Post: Peppermint Patties! Three ingredients, 3 minutes, 30 patties. Dip them in chocolate? Eat as is? Your choice!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

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!