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Kiwi-Mango Vanilla Pannacotta & Stomachaches ‘R’ Us

Kiwi, Mango, and Vanilla Bean Pannacotta

Kiwi, Mango, and Vanilla Bean Pannacotta

This week my bake-a-long group is making Mango Vanilla Pannacotta, from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. For a few days before I made it and wrote this post, I was trying to think of a ‘hook’ for the post, something to make it funny, or tell a bit of a story, but nothing came to mind, and the recipe went (relatively) smoothly. Dorie writes delicious recipes, and this one is no exception. (I think. I didn’t actually eat it myself. But I’ll get to that in a moment!)

I think the only unique thing about this post (besides the fact that the mango I saved for the recipe went bad and I had to replace most of it with the only other tropical fruit in my fruit bowl, kiwis), is that this post is a day late. Possibly even two days late, by the time I finish writing it up. I’ve mentioned before that I have IBS and I had another lovely episode at work yesterday, so I came home all trembly and weak, ignored the dishes on the counter that were looking at me reproachfully, and lay down on the sofa with a blanket, a pillow, and Netflix. I didn’t move until the wee hours of the morning when I flopped myself into bed.

I felt better today, but the nasty, horrible IBS symptoms came back at work again. (Probably means I haven’t been sticking to my lettuce-for-lunch-five-days-a-week diet recently. Yay, lettuce.)

However…I persevered! Pain or no pain, I was going to make the pannacotta after work! Even if I couldn’t eat it myself. The pannacotta contains gelatin, and being a vegetarian, I gave eating this one a miss, and passed it on to the DH. I knew he would appreciate my sacrifice. My delicious, tasty, sacrifice.

Shot o' pannacotta! (playing around with presentation)

Shot o’ pannacotta! (playing around with presentation)

The recipe itself is pretty easy to make. Just make the fruit puree and spoon it into some pretty glasses. Boil up the cream/milk with a vanilla bean, add in the gelatin, let cool, and pour over the chilled fruit puree. Let sit in the fridge until set. Serve! Easy, yes? Even with a stomachache I could manage it.

The DH thoroughly enjoyed the pannacotta, and I will say, the puree itself was delish! I’d love to try making this recipe with some agar agar, or another vegetarian gelatin alternative. I wonder if any of the other bloggers did? Want to see what everyone else made? Check it out here!

Next Post: Something that won’t make my stomach hurt. Maybe time for another Salads I Have Known and Loved post!

Baby, It’s Hot Outside: Double Layer Ice Cream Brownie Bars

Cut and plated and ready to be devoured!

Cut and plated and ready to be devoured!

Last weekend, there was a bit of a heat wave in Toronto, and temperatures hit the 40’s (Celsius) with the humidex. When you stepped outside, you were hit with a wall of humid heat, and you progressively wilted the longer you were outside. I was running errands and luckily remembered to pack that old-fashioned thing, a handkerchief, with which I mopped my face until I could practically wring out the fabric.

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, let me clear something up for you: I am not a super-duper heat lover. What I do love, however (aside from chocolate. Or snacking at midnight. Or, you know, the DH) is…my A/C. I come home on those horribly humid and sweaty hot days and stand in front of the vent pumping out that lovely, icy, air-conditioned air. I’ve also been known to walk to work and then promptly stick my head in the staff room freezer when I arrive, just to try and cool off a bit before starting the day. (A walk-in fridge would come in handy!)

All of which is a preface my latest Memories of Meals Past post, which is Double Layer Ice Cream Brownie Bars! A/C is all well and good (and oh boy, it’s soooo good!) but sometimes you have to regulate your temperature from the inside out! Also, brownies. And ice cream.

Layer it up!

Layer it up!

I’ve been seeing a lot of ice cream recipe posts on pinterest and twitter lately, and they inspired me to make my own dish! I started with a brownie based layer (this one, if I remember correctly, although I added in chopped walnuts), baked in a parchment paper lined springform pan. Once cooled, I spread a layer of softened mint chocolate chip ice cream on it and stuck it back in the freezer. While that was setting/refreezing, I mixed up a half-batch of homemade vanilla ice cream, using this recipe. I spread that over the top of the now set mint chocolate chip ice cream layer, and stuck it back in the freezer for several hours. And voila, Ice Cream Brownie Bars!

What’s great about this recipe is that it’s SO flexible! Choose any ice cream flavour you like! I think the brownie base, with a strawberry ice cream layer, topped with the homemade vanilla ice cream, would be just fabulous — a Neopolitan ice cream bar! Mix up your own ice cream brownie bar (it’s SO easy!) and impress your friends, families, and those ever-important taste buds. Summer has arrived!

Next Post: Parisian Pannacotta, or my Twisted Spinach & Feta Pie. Or maybe something else, depending on what I’m craving!  

Nutella Rice Krispie Squares — Kid-riffic! Also great for your neighbourhood chocoholic.

Chocolate-y, chewy squares of yum!

Chocolate-y, chewy squares of yum!

A number of weeks ago, my on-line bake-a-long group made a recipe involving Nutella. While the recipe only called for a small amount of Nutella, I, being the chocoholic that I am, managed to eat the rest myself. And promptly bought another jar. I couldn’t eat the entire second jar by myself, so I used up some of it to make Nutella Rice Krispie Squares!

If you have kids, they’ll love this! Or if you’re a chocolate-lover, you’ll love this. Even the DH loved this, and he doesn’t even like chocolate. In other words, they’re tasty!

Basically, they’re just Rice Krispies squares with Nutella stirred in. Easy, yes? But if you want a more specific recipe, here it is:

Nutella Rice Krispies Squares

  • 6 c. Rice Krispies cereal (I’m sure the generic version would work just as well)
  • 1 smaller pkg. marshmallows (if you’re veg, get the gelatin-free kind)
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. Nutella, essence of the chocolate gods
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt butter and marshmellows in a pan over medium heat. Stir in Nutella until mixed, then remove from heat. Fold in the vanilla extract. Stir in the Rice Krispies cereal until thoroughly mixed. Pat the mixture into a  buttered lasagna pan. Chill in fridge. Cut into squares and devour.

Pro Tip: Butter your hands before patting the mixture into the pan for cooling. This helps you spread it evenly, and prevents it from sticking to your hands!

Variations: I imagine that you could try this with other cereals. Or you could mix in some peanut butter for a peanut butter cup-style treat. Or drizzle melted chocolate on top. Or…well, you tell me! What’s your favourite mix-in?

I made a batch of these and they were so tasty that they disappeared within a few days. So I made another batch! I mean, I AM a chocoholic!

Cocoa-riffic! So tasty! And dairy-free too (except for the yummy, yummy Smarties).

Cocoa-riffic! So tasty! And dairy-free too (except for the yummy, yummy Smarties).

In case you doubt my chocoholic status, let me present exhibit A: my sister made me a birthday cake recently. Chocolate cake, with chocolate icing, covered with chocolates. A favourite from my childhood that tastes just as good as an adult.

Brunch? Don't mind if I do!

Brunch? Don’t mind if I do!

Not convinced yet? Check out exhibit B: amongst other things, the DH gave me chocolate for my birthday, 5 bars of it. Plus a bag of snack size bars. Plus a giant Toblerone bar. Plus a ‘rose’ made of Lindor chocolates. Plus a bag of Lindor chocolates. He knows me well, my boy! 🙂

So yes, I do love my chocolate. 🙂

Next Post: Strawberry Pannacotta — a fancy, easy dessert to impress non-veg guests.

Salads I Have Known and Loved: Taco Salad — it’s what’s for lunch!

Brown-bagging it never looked so good!

Brown-bagging it never looked so good!

As I mentioned before, I eat a lot of salad to help with my IBS issues, but salad can be boring. So I like to spice things up! In this case…literally!

I made this taco salad to take to work with me, so I packed it in little containers to assemble it on my lunchtime. Can’t have the tortilla shell getting soggy, now can we? *grin*

Want to make one yourself? Easy peasy!

Taco Salad

  • tortillas (and a tortilla bowl shaper)
  • lettuce, shredded
  • grape tomatoes, halved
  • salsa (I used salsa verde)
  • cheese, grated
  • 1 pkg. soy meat (i.e. veggie ground round)
  • taco seasoning packet
  • 2 tbsp. oil

Heat the soy meat with the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add in the seasoning packet (or your own blend!) and a few tbsp. of water. Cook until meat is at your favoured consistency.

Place tortillas in tortilla bowl shaper (or — KITCHEN HACK — on an upside-down muffin tray) and mold to shape of bowl. You can dampen them if you need to. Bake in a 400 degree oven until toasty. Remove and cool.

Assemble the lunch: pack tortilla bowl in a container, along with containers of cheese, lettuce, salsa, and seasoned meat. At lunch, assemble together and impress your co-workers! Also on the to-do list: eat and enjoy.

Eat and enjoy!

Eat and enjoy!

I sent in a similar lunch with the DH and he enjoyed it. I like that I can make my own tortilla bowls from very plain and healthy tortillas, as opposed to buying ones that contain preservatives. Yay, health!

Next Post: Maybe my lemon meringue tartlets. So cute, so tasty, so easy! Really, who knew?

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie for Meat Lovers

The dish is served! Dig in and get cozy!

The dish is served. Dig in and get cozy!

Alright, my lovelies, it’s time for a nice hearty comfort food dish! It’s bitterly cold outside, so how about a nice, warm shepherd’s pie, straight from the oven? But gone veg, because veg is yummy. However, since the DH is an affirmed meat-a-tarian, this Shepherd’s Pie looks like meat and tastes like meat, and only the most dedicated of meat-lovers will be able to tell the difference.

The secret? Veggie ground round, which is made of soy. It’s a very versatile product, and takes on the seasoning of whatever dish you use it in.

And the other secret? Use mayonnaise in the mashed potato topping. It makes the potato crust creamier and zingy-er (zingier? Meh.) and it’s an easy add-in.

Let’s get cooking! And then comforted by the cooking. Mmm…comfort food…so snuggly and tasty.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie for Meat Lovers

  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 package Yves’ Ground Round
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cube vegetarian beef bouillion
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 c. frozen mixed vegetables
  • 4 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • few drop of Worchestershire sauce (the anchovy-free kind)
  • 1 egg yolk

Chop garlic and onion. Set aside 1/3 c. butter and melt the rest of the butter in a pan. Saute the garlic and onions until golden. Add in bouillion cube, water, salt and pepper, and ground round. Stir until mixed, over medium heat, until heated through. Add in tomato paste, and worchestershire sauce, and stir again. Defrost frozen vegetables and stir in mixture. Set aside the meat mixture.

The oh-so-meaty filling!

The oh-so-meaty filling!

Bake potatoes in microwave (or peel and boil them, whatever’s easier for you!) and scrape out the insides. Mash with milk and butter. Add in mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.

In a baking dish, spread the meat and veggie mixture in the base. Dollop mashed potatoes on top and spread to form the topping. Using a fork, scrape the topping to create a design. Brush with beaten egg yolk. Bake in 375 degree oven until top is golden brown and dish is bubbling. Serve, and feel cozy in your tummy!

I’m curious — what’s your favourite comfort food? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Likely a Pink Grapefruit Tart, from my on-line bake-a-long group!