Tuesday, May 8, 2018

You're Driving me Squirrelly!

We have only two types of squirrels in our area around Georgian Bay. These are the Eastern Gray Squirrels in the photo above. One is black and one is gray but they are the same category- the Sciuis Carolinensis. We see these all year round except on winter days of extreme cold. I'm learning to identify ours as individuals since they often have unusual tails or markings. I have one at the moment with virtually no tail.

The little red squirrel is a playful fellow and I often watch him as he runs up and down our large pine trees with pine cones in his mouth. He'll take them up and eats away at them and then drops them all over the driveway, making quite a mess. He's tiny but he's fierce and he's often seen chasing the big guys all around the garden!

This is another habit of the squirrels-- they think they are birds!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Crustless Spinach and Red Pepper Quiche

Easy and delicious and not too strong on flavours for those early morning tummies!
This recipe is from a delightful calendar that so many Canadians look forward to receiving every January- the "Milk Calendar" which is delivered in one of our large newspapers. They always have delicious recipes for each month and I try to make as many as I can during the year.

1 Tbsp dry bread crumbs
1 Tbsp butter
2 green onions, thinly sliced
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup (I used more) of roasted red pepper strips
2 cups milk
4 eggs
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp each, salt and dried oregano
3/4 cup crumbled feta (well drained)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 10" pie pan (I used 9.5" and it was just fine); dust bottom and sides with the bread crumbs. Place pie pan on a baking sheet and set aside.
2. Melt butter in a large frying pan and add the sliced green onions. Cook about a minute. Add the spinach and stir until very wilted (2 minutes or so).
3. Spoon spinach mixture into the pie plate. Place red pepper strips on paper towels and squeeze out the oil as well as possible.  Place strips of red pepper on top of spinach like spokes on a wheel.
4. In a large bowl, whisk milk with eggs, cornstarch, salt, oregano, and pepper until well blended. Pour over spinach mixture. Arrange feta over top (it will sink a bit).
5. Bake about 35 minutes or until egg mixture is just set in middle. (For me this was too short-- I added about 10 minutes).
6. Remove from oven, let stand about 10 minutes. To serve, cut into wedges. Like pie, the first wedge may not be perfect.

Variation: You could try different combinations, like sundried tomatoes and dill.

(I forgot to take finished photos so these last two are photos of the recipe on the calendar where I found the recipe. This is the 2017 Milk Calendar from the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Next time I will take photos and replace these!)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Buttermilk-Glazed Mini Fig Cakes

These turned out really well and I received several compliments and requests for the recipe. I overfilled the muffin tins so my cakes ended up with rounded tops which when turned upside down (to look more like little cakes) meant they wouldn't sit flat. So I had to right them and they look like muffins. So that's a good lesson. I would have preferred more of a cake look. Nonetheless they are delicious!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup fig preserves (I used fig jam)
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Stir together flour and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Gradually add oil, beating at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended. Add buttermilk and vanilla, beating until blended. Fold in preserves and pecans.

2. Spoon batter into 2 (12-cup) lightly greased (with cooking spray) muffin pans, filling 20 muffin cups about 3/4 full.

3. Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks. Cool completely about 45 minutes.

4. Drizzle cakes with Buttermilk glaze. Cool 10 minutes. Pipe vanilla Hard Sauce onto warm cakes, and serve.

Buttermilk Glaze
Bring 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 4 Tbsp butter, 2 tsp cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp baking soda to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Immediately remove mixture from heat, and cool 10 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp vanilla. (Makes about 3/4 cup)

Vanilla Hard Sauce
Split 1 vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape seeds into a large bowl. Stir in 2 cups 
powdered sugar. Beat 1 cup softened butter into sugar mixture at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

From one of my favourite baking books- Southern Living's The Southern Cake Book

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Goat Cheese and Gruyère Frittata

This makes a fabulous and delicious frittata that serves 6.

I found it in one of my favourite breakfast cookbooks- "Sarabeth's Good Morning Cookbook", by Sarabeth Levine. (She's a legend in NYC!)

12 large eggs
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup packed arugula
3 oz grated Gruyère cheese (2/3 cup)
3 ounces fresh goat cheese broken into small pieces

2 cups packed arugula
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp EV olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted raw hulled sunflower seeds

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375F.
2. In a large bowl, using an immersion blender or whisk, beat the eggs until well combined. 
3. In an oven-proof  nonstick 10" skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium heat. Add the arugula and cook for about 1 minute. Add the remaining oil and the eggs and turn the heat to medium low. Cook the eggs just until the they are set around the edges. Stir the eggs with a spatula to combine the cooked and uncooked parts. Continue to cook until the edges are set again. Lift up the edges and tilt the pan so that the uncooked egg runs under the cooked portion. Add the Gruyère and the goat cheese and cook for a minute or two. When the top is shiny but the cheeses are not yet melted, turn off the heat and put it in the oven.
4. Bake in hot oven for about 8 minutes, until the frittata is puffed and the cheeses are melted.
5. While the frittata bakes, make the salad. In a bowl toss the arugula with the juice of half a lemon and 2 tbsp EV olive oil.. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Cut frittata into 6 wedges and serve with the arugula salad on top. Sprinkle each serving with some of the sunflower seeds.

Nutty Honey Mini Rolls

These are  lovely little bites to serve with the first cup of coffee in the morning...

1/4 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pkg refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 recipe honey icing

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray, set aside. Reserve 2 tbsp of the almonds, For filling, in a small bowl stir together the remaining 2 tbsp almonds, the butter, honey, and cinnamon; set aside.
2. Unroll the dough and cut into two equal rectangles, pinching the edges to form two pieces.
3. Spread the filling on the dough to within 1/4" of the edges. Starting at the long edge, roll up the dough to form two rolls. Pinch the seams. Slice each roll into about 12 pieces (mine are usually about 9). Place each piece in the muffin cups.
4. Bake about 10 minutes or until nice and golden. Cool in the cups for about 1 minutes then remove. Cool slightly then drizzle with the icing. Sprinkle with the remaining almonds.

Honey Icing
Stir together 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tbsp honey, and 1 tbsp milk. If needed add a little more milk so that it is drizzly.

Makes about 20-24 rolls.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Honey Oat Roasted Pears

Here's a perfect Autumn breakfast or desert....

1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter. melted, plus a little extra for brushing
3 Tbsp raisins
4 Bartlett or Bosc pears
honey for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
Toss the oats, brown sugar, almonds, and cinnamon and combine.
Stir in the melted butter until everything is well combined. Stir in the raisins.

Cut the pears in half and scoop out the core. I slice a sliver off the bottoms so that they stay flat in the pan.

Lay the pears in a baking dish and brush the tops with a little melted butter. Press some oat filling into the center of each pear.

Bake, uncovered for about 25 minutes, until the pears are tender and the oats are browned.

Serve warm, with yogurt and drizzled honey. I also sprinkle some nice raw brown sugar on the yogurt for presentation.

Serves 4.