THE PERFECT HOLIDAY CHEESECAKE

Desserts are front and center at any holiday occasion. Cookies and tarts, fruits cakes and mousse, and of course my favorite–cheesecake!

I don’t make cheesecake often because for one thing it’s freaking expensive, and two it is SO decadent that I cannot keep it in the house, so I limit them to holidays. Mini egg cheesecake for Easter, pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving and cranberry cheesecake for Christmas. This year though, I am whipping up a new one for you!

This rich and creamy dessert is sure to please even the pickiest eater. Perfect for potlucks, make them into bars for a cookie exchange, or as the perfect end to a holiday feast, this cheesecake will get you ALL the love this Christmas!

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup crushed pecans

1/3 cup butter

3 tbsp brown sugar

Filling

3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 eggs, separated

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon

1 tsp vanilla

Topping

2 tbsp butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cups crushed pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan begin melting butter. Using a food processor, pulse together pecans and graham crackers and stir into melted butter.

Spread graham cracker crumbs evenly over the bottom of a prepped  9 inch springform pan. Press down firmly and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees.

Using a stand mixer, whip egg whites with two tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks are formed. Set aside.

Cream together cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks, lemon and vanilla. Next, gently fold egg whites into cream cheese mixture.

Before pouring filling over your crust, wrap the bottom of the pan in tin foil as it will bake in a water bath. Hold the pan an few inches off the counter and drop it two or three times to smooth the surface and remove air bubbles.

Place in a dish (I used a casserole dish) roughly filled with two inches of water. Bake in the oven. After 30-35 minutes, turn off the oven and open the front door to release some heat. Close door and allow cheesecake to set in the oven for another 30 minutes or until the edges begin to round.

Remove from oven and let cool completely before adding the pecan toffee topping.

For the topping:

In a medium saucepan, lightly toast pecans. Set aside and continue with your sauce by melting the butter into that now preheated pan. Be careful to cook on a low temperature as to not burn your butter. Once melted, add in brown sugar. Whisk until your sauce becomes silky and smooth. You are going to want to let this boil approximately two minutes while stirring on occasion. Add in your cream and whisk. Let simmer two minutes to allow sauce to become sticky. Remove from heat, fold in crushed pecans.

Add to the top of your cheesecake, serve, sit back, and enjoy all the oohs and yums that are sure to follow!

   

    

 

Roasted Veggie Bowl

I love veggies, and I love a meal that incorporates lots of them. I love prepping lunches for the week because with a busy schedule it becomes too easy to grab a less nutritious lunch…if you’re lucky to grab a lunch at all!

Roasted veggie bowls are an easy way to pack a lot of nutrients into a simple meal. I usually make this up on a Sunday and divide it into containers for the week. Of course you can choose to add a protein like chicken to this bowl, but I find it is delicious and filling enough as is.

Prep time : 15 minutes

Cook time : 40 minutes

Serving : Approximately 5 portions

Ingredients

1 large yam

1 large red onion

2 zucchini

1 yellow pepper

1 small red cabbage

2 cups of preferred grain (I chose brown rice for this one)

1 clove crushed garlic

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp pepper

Sauce

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 tsp dill

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut up all vegetables. I chose to cube most of the veggies except for the cabbage which I cut into strips. Toss all veggies in apple cider vinegar, garlic and pepper.

Lay out on a prepped cooking sheet. I use parchment paper to reduce sticking and help with clean up. Bake in oven for approximately 40 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

In the meantime cook your grains.

While this is tasty enough on its own, you can choose to add the optional sauce. Simple to make, all you need is to mix the dill with the Greek yogurt and voila!

Portion out into containers for the week, or serve and enjoy right away.

 

RAINBOW MACAWRONGS

Today marks the first birthday of my best friend Tibby’s rainbow baby! It is wild to think that a year has gone by so quickly, and it is definitely a different experience watching a friend’s child grow. As quickly as time has flown with my little one, not seeing P everyday definitely makes the developments go by in a blink. One minute she’s a newborn, the next she’s a wild child walking around like a boss!

I remember living this day a year ago. The anticipation, the worry, and the sweet excitement when that little Squish (stubborn like her mother with two days of labor) entered the world! Not only was a child born, but a best friend too. When we got the invite to the hospital (because you WAIT to be invited, you don’t invite yourself) we packed up our own Little Love. With a special outfit on and a gift in hand, we were ready to introduce this future generation on BFFs.

On the weekend we celebrated P’s birthday. Tibby decided on a rainbow theme for her rainbow baby. It was beautiful! She made a wonderful rainbow cake, and decorated in colors as vibrant as her. Tibby asked me to make some macarons for the party, and then informed me of a nut allergy. Well, that kind of eliminated the macarons since they are almond based, so I decided to make up some macaWRONGS!

I started with my absolute favorite sugar cookie recipe–honestly, with Halloween parties and Christmas parties on the horizon, you are going to want to save this one. It is easy, makes a ton of cookies, and is oh so tasty! Next, I added a filling and sprinkles to create the illusion of a macaron, and I am THRILLED with how they turned out!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup softened butter

2 cups white sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

5 cups all purpose flour

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp salt

Filling

1/4 cup softened butter

2 cups icing sugar

1 tbsp vanilla

2 tbsp milk

Rainbow Sprinkles

Directions

In a large mixer with a paddle, cream together butter and sugar. Add in eggs one at a time and vanilla. Slowly add in dry ingredients until well mixed.

                     

Wrap all dough in plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 2 hours. I usually chill over night as I like my kiddo to help with the steps, and it gets to be a bit much to do all in one day.

Once chilled, I separated out the dough and added coloring. Though I always prefer gel food coloring, I used liquid today as it was what I had available.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pull apart into smaller balls and combine all dough.

This will give you that really beautiful jeweled swirl.

Coat counter in a layer of flour to prevent dough from sticking. Roll out dough to roughly 1/4 inch thick. Using a circular cutter (I found a shot glass was the perfect size for this) begin cutting out dough.

When placing it on a prepped baking sheet, your spacing can be pretty close as the cookies should not expand much; however, if your dough is beginning to feel too soft and warm, consider rechilling it to ensure the shapes are kept.

Bake for 6 – 8 minutes.

Use this opportunity to mix the filling. Begin by creaming the butter with the vanilla and milk. Slowly add in icing sugar and mix until smooth.

Once cooled, begin matching cookies. Add a dollop of icing to the center of one cookie and smoosh together. Roll the edges in sprinkles.

Serve and enjoy!

APPLE PIE…FOR DINNER?

I know everyone focuses on pumpkins this time of year, but apples are definitely where it’s at. Apple cider, apple muffins, apple pie. They can be sweet, yet oh so savory! Bonus, your kids will love the whimsy of this dish.

Now I’m not a big pork fan. Out of all the meats it’s honestly the thing I love the least, but I have been making a lot of effort to branch out, expand my taste buds and try new things. After all, I can’t be telling my child to not be a picky eater while I’m sitting over here being, well, a picky eater.

As everyone knows apples go great with pork, and so I decided to combine something I love with something I don’t to see if I could make it into something tolerable. Well, let me tell you, this dish ended up ACTUALLY being so tasty, that I’ve already adapted it.

I hope you enjoy my recipe for apple pie dinner.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

1 pound Lean ground pork

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion (chopped)

3 cloves ground garlic

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

Pepper to taste

2 apples (I’ve used gala and pink lady in the past)

1 pie crust

Optional- 1/4 cup goat cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large sauce pan over medium heat begin cooking pork, oil, onion and garlic. Use this time to wash and cube one of the apples. Half way through cooking, add apple cider vinegar, apple sauce and cubed apples. Reduce heat and cover pan until completely cooked.

While you’re waiting, thinly slice the second apple.

Pie assembly: empty contents of the pan into the pie shell. For a more savory dish, spread a layer of goat cheese in pie crust prior to adding filling. Cover in apple slices.

                     

Cook in oven for 18 minutes or until pie shell is completely cooked.

Serve with salad, rice or other preferred side.

Alternative

If you’re looking for a lighter option, try stuffing apples instead of a pie shell. Cook similar to stuffed peppers. My hubby and I are having a debate on which way is best, let me know what you think!

                     

MY PUPPY’S CHOW!

Toddlers are silly. They are wild, unpredictable, and SO fun! With interests ever changing, it can be so difficult to keep up with them. Well, at two and a half, we have officially entered into the Paw Patrol stage of toddler life, and I have to say I am LOVING it!

Her personality is blossoming. G currently thinks she’s a puppy, and is obsessed with her Dalmation swim suit. She “speaks” like a dog, I scored all the Paw Patrol characters at Costco for cheap (ish), and we have been taking advantage of the Fair at the PNE to watch the too cute Super Dog show.

Another thing we love to do together is bake. She is a huge fan of cooking and grabs her whisk any chance she gets; so we decided to make some Puppy Chow as a treat! I’m sure you’ve heard of this little mixture before as it is so simple to make and the ingredient are mostly common staples in the pantry, but I thought I’d share it with you again because it really is the easiest treat!

We made this for a family movie night, but it also makes for a simple dessert or sweet treat in a pinch. After calling it Puppy Chow, my daughter was too excited to help, and brought her most expressive dog impersonation to the table. We laughed and enjoyed sampling as we melted, mixed and shook our way to this delicious movie treat!

Ingredients

9 cups Life Cereal or Chex Mix

1/2 cup Peanut Butter

1/4 cup Butter

1 cup Semi-sweet or Dark Chocolate Chips

1 tsp Vanilla

1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

Directions:

Melt peanut butter, butter, chocolate and vanilla together until smooth. I use the microwave because it is fast and easy, and keeps the clean up to a minimum, but melting it on the stove is great too. Remember that it is very easy to burn chocolate, so stir often and melt at a low temperature.

Once melted, combine chocolate mixture with cereal. Use a spatula to make sure the cereal is well coated.

Using a ziplock bag, combine a portion of the cereal as well as a portion of the icing sugar. Seal the bag and shake, shake, shake until well covered. I used a tupperware container with my daughter because we were out of bags. It broke the cereal a little more than desired, but worked well in a pinch! Transfer contents to a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Repeat above step until all the cereal is coated. Place in the fridge to cool. Once dry, seal in an airtight container. You can store it in the fridge; however, if your fridge is as unorganized and full as mine, keeping it in the cupboard is just fine too!

LENTIL TACO SALAD

Lately my hubby and I have been big into lentils! They are a filling and economic item that acts as a great substitute for ground meat. So here’s a meal perfect for any Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, or any other day of the week!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup lentils (uncooked)

1 red onion finely chopped

1 avocado

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 clove of garlic

1 tomato

1 tbsp Mrs Dash seasoning spice

1 tbsp lime juice

1 package of taco seasoning

1 head preferred lettuce (I used butter lettuce; however iceberg or romaine would work too)

1 tomato sliced

Optional: Shredded cheese and those delicious little salad topper tortilla chips!

Directions:

In a pot, bring lentils to a boil following the directions on the package. Once boiled, cover and reduce heat until lentils are fully cooked.

While the “meat” of the dish is cooking, use this time to prep your salad. Wash, tear and dry lettuce, dice tomatoes and onion. Set aside.

Now for the best part of the dish (because it’s ALWAYS the best part of the dish), it’s time to mix up that guacamole! In a food processor mix together the avocado, yogurt, garlic and Mrs Dash and lime juice. You might choose to add the onions, but I left mine as a garnish as my kiddo does not like to eat them.

Once the lentils are cooked, season them with the taco mix.

Assemble salad and enjoy!

I love tacos and salads for dinner because it’s an easy crowd pleaser as every assembles their own. My daughter devoured THREE helpings of lentils, guac, tomatoes and cheese! Needless to say I will be keeping this little gem in my meal rotations. 🙂

Bon Appetit!

-Anjie

FIESTA FRIES

Okay, I know the whole point of Taco Tuesday is an easy peasy dinner for the busy worker bees, BUT if  you make a little extra, you can use the leftover taco protein of your choice for some gourmet taco fries! Seriously, these festive fries will leave you reaching for that well earned margarita!

Ingredients:

4 large yams peeled and cut into wedges

2 tomatoes

1 can of corn

3 key limes

Left over Taco protein  (For these, I used left over lentils from the lentil tacos we had had Taco Tuesday) *If you don’t have left overs, you can substitute a can of black beans or depending on time and ambition, you can cook up some of your own taco seasoned beef, ground turkey, etc.

2 tsp of dill

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsp chopped cilantro

1 cup plain greek yogurt

Directions:

Begin by blanching the cut yams in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Drain and mix in olive oil and dill before spreading evenly onto a parchment lined cooking sheet. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While fries are cooking, cut up tomatoes into small chunks. For a less watery topping, remove the seeds and pulp from the tomatoes before dicing. Heat the corn and the taco seasoned protein. I chose to quickly zap it in the microwave for convenience.

Mix cilantro and yogurt together for a creamy dipping sauce.

Continue cooking fries on broil for 5-7 minutes to crisp up the fries. Be careful as depending on your oven, your fries may burn quickly if you are not keeping an eye on them.

Once cooked, load the fries with all the above ingredients. You can choose to have your dip on top or on the side. Squeeze the lime over the fries, garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

I chose to pair mine with a chilled glass of club soda, lime and mint for a refreshing taste as I dreamt of summer days!

Bon Appetit!

-Anjie

 

 

THE ACTUAL BEST NANAIMO BARS

I’m not going to lie to you, I am no fan of Nanaimo bars. I’ve never been one to be like: Do you know what sounds delicious? A Nanaimo bar. They are often too sweet for me and so I tend to avoid them when they are on the table. So when my hubby came home and said he wanted to bring Nanaimo bars to his office potluck, I was torn. Part of me was like YES I will stick to my diet and not be tempted by these, but the other side was ick no one will like these.

Well, let me tell you I was wrong on both sides! I tested a few too minutes on my end and they were absolutely devoured on the other end! The trick is definitely to focus on the base and limit the interior custard!

Ingredients

Base:   -2/3 cup butter

-1/4 cup sugar

-6 tbsp cocoa

-2 cups graham cracker crumbs (Go with name brand here, trust me!)

-2 cups shredded coconut

-1 egg

-1tbsp milk

Filling: -1/4 cup butter (softened)

-5 tbsp custard powder

-4tbsp milk

-3 cups icing sugar

-1 tsp vanilla extract

Top:    -4 oz dark chocolate (I use 50% cocoa chips)

-1 tbsp milk

Directions

Prepare the pan that you will be using to assemble bars in. I use a 9X9 square pan and line it with a layer of wax paper. I like to line the pan as it’s easier to get out afterwards.

In a large saucepan begin by melting butter. Add sugar and cocoa. Whisk in egg and milk. Fold in graham cracker crumbs and shredded coconut and set aside.

In a stand mixer, blend together all ingredients until velvety smooth.

Empty saucepan contents into the prepared pan. Press into the corners and keep crust as even as possible. Smooth custard over top and set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, begin slowly melting chocolate with milk. I typically do 30 seconds at a time to ensure not to burn the chocolate. Once it is silky smooth, spread over custard. Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Indulge and Enjoy!

PRESSED HAMBURGERS

I love hamburgers. Not as much as tacos or hotdogs, but there is definitely a special spot in my cravings for them; however, I ran into a problem at the height of my cravings. I simple ran out of time and energy to mix up and create those gorgeous patties I love so much. With no desire to go to yet another restaurant, I decided to recreate something even the Hamburgler himself couldn’t resist. Check out these delicious Lazy Hamburgers perfect for any day of the week!

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 LB ground meat (For this I used beef, but I will often use ground turkey and add a few additional spices)

1 sweet onion finely chopped

1 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp pepper

1 tsp seasoning salt

I head preferred lettuce (I used butter lettuce; however iceberg or romaine would work too)

1 tomato sliced

4 tortillas

Cheddar cheese sliced *optional (I use two thin pieces per wrap)

Directions:

In a large saucepan cook up ground beef, onions, crushed garlic, and seasonings. *A trick I use is to actually grate thee onions with a cheese grater so that they melt right in with the meat. * Another tip while the meat is cooking is to salt your tomatoes. Salting them and letting them sit deepens the tomato’s flavour. Trust me, a salted tomato is A 1 my friend!

Once meat is fully cooked, remove from heat and set aside. Grab a tortilla and drizzle ketchup and mustard down the centre. Add a line of ground beef before continue layering with those thin slices of cheese. The cheese will act as a sort of barricade for the juices from your tomatoes finish off with a few leaves of lettuce and fold like you would a wrap or burrito.

The last step is to crisp your tortilla. I use my trusted George Forman Grill to press it like a panini; however, cooking them in a skillet on the stove will do the trick as well.

Remove from heat, cut in half, and there’s nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy!

Bon Appetit!

-Anjie

AN EASY “PEA’SY SOUP

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serves 4

Lately, life has exploded. With now having a part time job that keeps me out of the house in the afternoons, but more importantly having a kitchen again after a not so short renovation, I have a new found love for my crock pot; however, having crossed that arc and are now closer to summer than fall, I have been leaning more lighter, healthier options over those delicious, heavier stews. Bonus, my kid ate this up and even asked for seconds!

Ingredients:

1 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic

3 carrots peeled and chopped

5 cups frozen peas

1 tbsp vegetable bouillon

Water

Pepper to taste

1 cup heavy cream (optional)

3 turkey sausages

Directions:

In a large Crockpot, combine vegetables, and bouillon. Cover with water and cook on low, medium or high depending on your timeline. I always prefer to cook a minimum of 6 hours to give the flavors time to combine.

Once cooked, blend together using a hand blender. At this point you can add the optional heavy cream. Set aside.

On the stove, cook up sausages. Once fully cooked, cut into small bites. Mix into the soup and enjoy!

Add pepper to taste.

There you have it, the absolute simplest Crockpot pea soup!