Category Archives: My Recipes & Reviews

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Oh, Canada!  My home, native land, and where maple syrup originated. First collected by the indigenous people, Canada became the largest producer of maple syrup, and today exports 70% of the world’s demand. Sweet and silky, this amber syrup has hints of toffee and caramel and is like no other. If you’ve been lucky enough to taste our famous export, then you know what I’m talking about. Every spring our maple trees are tapped and the sap that collected is carefully boiled down to pure syrup. Maple syrup is used on everything from an oozing pancake or French toast topping, to a popular dessert flavour to a sweet glaze for vegetables, chicken, fish or pork. So basically this magical syrup goes with everything! Bacon and maple syrup in particular, are a delightful combination and one of my favourites. When your maple syrup runs all over your plate and soaks into your bacon, there are no complaints! So when my friend and I found a recipe for Maple Bacon Jam we knew we had to make it. Paired with some strong cheddar cheese on fresh multigrain bread, this Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese is truly the tastiest way to say Happy 150th Birthday Canada!

This recipe is from Better Homes and Living, and the only change I made was to swap the regular bacon for maple bacon. We bought the two-pound pack from Costco and it took all our will power to not sneak a little bite. Their bacon is so thick, salty and super maple-syrupy!

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

The ultimate sweet and savoury combination, the sweet, caramelized maple flavour balances the rich, salty bacon and strong cheddar cheese. Using mayonnaise instead of margarine or butter is a grilled cheese maker’s secret for a perfectly crispy browned sandwich.

Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese
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Maple Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Maple syrup flavoured bacon is caramelized into a sweet and savoury jam, complimenting the strong cheddar, making for the ultimate grilled cheese!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 1
Author ISeeHungryPpl

Ingredients

  • 1 pound maple bacon chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1` medium yellow onion minced
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup old cheddar cheese thickly grated
  • 2 slices multigrain toast 1/2 inch

Instructions

  1. In a large pot (Dutch oven works best) over medium high heat,  saute bacon until just brown and slightly crisp on the edges. Remove cooked bacon and pat excess grease off with paper towels.

  2. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from pot. Turn heat down to medium low. Add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent. Add apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and coffee. Bring to a boil. Add cooked bacon.

  3. Simmer on low for 1½ hours, stirring every 10 minutes, watching closely as the sugar will burn easily.  Bacon jam should be thick and syrupy.

  4. Transfer bacon jam to a food processor or Vitamix. Pulse jam until creamy but still a bit chunky. Spoon into 125ml mason jars.  This jam cannot be processed and must be stored in the refrigerator.  Use within one month, or freeze up to three months.

  5. Head cast iron pan or grill on medium low heat.  

  6. Spread one tablespoon of mayonnaise on each slice of bread and place in hot pan.  Quickly top with half the cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons of bacon jam and remaining cheese.  Place 2nd slice of bread on top, mayonnaise on the outside.  Cover tightly with a pan lit or ceramic plate.

  7. Toast for 2 minutes on one side until lightly brown.  Flip and toast on the other side until brown.  Turn off stove and leave covered for a minute or so until cheese is melted, making sure the sandwich doesn't burn.

  8. Slice in half and serve with ketchup or sriracha!

With this delicious sandwich in hand, I say Happy Birthday Canada!  I’m so proud to be a Canadian and live in a country that believes in equality, diversity, peace and protecting our planet.  I’m thankful for all you have given me.  From the beautiful camping trips to a safe home, a group of friends from many different cultures and the freedom to express myself and believe anything is possible.  Cheers to another a hundred and fifty years!

How did you celebrate Canada’s 150?  Have you ever tried a maple bacon cheddar grilled cheese?

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I wanted to do something special for my mom, as we all do.  My parents moved to Ottawa when I was in university and have since retired and have spent most of their time traveling the world.  While I’m super happy that they’re healthy and able to do so, they aren’t around for most holidays and I only see them a few times a year. I miss them a lot and Mother’s Day is no exception.  But this year my parents were going to be in town, so I want to go all out!  Except…I’m in between contracts at the moment and am on a tight budget.  All the fancy high tea spots are ch-ching!  So, I decided to do my own tea party at home.  Time to bust open my go-to baking book: Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  I decided to tackle her Petits Fours recipe: mini almond cakes covered in a white chocolate glaze.  I’ll show you how to make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours…or at least, how I tried to make them…

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

The first problem I faced was that I couldn’t find almond paste anywhere.  I guess it’s more of a specialty baking ingredient?  But none of the major supermarkets in Toronto had this paste.  So, I made some myself and it was quick and easy.  I found this recipe on the Taste of Home site – now I need to find more desserts that use almond paste ’cause I have a whole block of the stuff!

Making the almond cake went smoothly.  I made sure my butter was at room temperature, and carefully added the ingredients one at a time.  I timed the butter exactly for two minutes and the mixture became nice and fluffy.  I used a big spatula when adding the yolks and vanilla and added the flour in three parts.  Things were going well!

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

For the next step, I started to feel intimidated…egg whites!  Peaks and foam!  But I had faith in my trusted Kitchen Aid mixer and soon I saw some foamy whites start to form.  I carefully added the sugar and low and behold – peaks!  Ever so gently I folded a third of this fluffy mixture into the egg yolk mixture and then spread it evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet. I made sure to rotate the pan halfway, and out came a heavenly almond cake!

Man, I love the smell of almond.  Everything smells so lovely, like a sweet, nutty dream.  I could just close my eyes, and take a wonderful cozy, nap…

But there is still more work to do!

The next step is the chocolate part.  As in, the most expensive ingredient that I CANNOT BURN part. The glaze was actually the easy step, because the cream is poured over the chocolate to melt it. Make sure the cakes are completely cooled by this point or they will melt the chocolate!  I found glazing the cakes to be a bit tricky.  Even though I worked quickly, my glaze was pretty thick.  It tasted delish, but I don’t know how to get the glaze thin and evenly spooned over the cakes.  In the photos her glaze looks almost transparent.  I almost feel as though it would be easier to dip them?  But in any case, my cakes are glazed.

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

The final step was to make the white chocolate cut outs.  I found this stage to be the most difficult, and gosh darn it I did end up burning some chocolate!  Luckily there was a lot leftover but initially I had wanted to make blue and pink Petits Fours.  The blue unfortunately turned a little, urm darker then I would have liked.  Do not let your eyes off the chocolate people!  Work quickly and stir, stir, stir!  

This part is tricky because you need to keep the chocolate warm enough to work with, and not burn it.  I would advise to stick to one colour and try to avoid fiddling around with the tint.  Just melt the chocolate until the texture is smooth and runny, tint and pour.  My shapes turned out a bit too thick because I was trying to get the “perfect shade of pink” so by the time I poured into the pan the chocolate had cooled quite a bit.

However, the other issue is that if the chocolate is two thin, the shapes will crack.  The shapes that worked out best for me were the thicker ones.  Whenever I tried to cut out thinner areas the chocolate would break.  I think the problem was that I might have chilled the sheet of chocolate for too long. I would recommend chilling for no longer then 10 minutes, so hopefully this way you can have thin cut outs that will hold.

For the finishing touch you can use some Royal Icing to design pretty patterns on top.  I thought the cakes were sweet enough and I liked the cool textured patterns that the chocolate created.

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

Ta-Da!  There you have it – some delightful Petits Fours for your Mother’s Day tea party.  No problem right?  Phew!  That was actually quite a lot of work.  Martha likes to keep you on your toes!  And how do they taste?  Well I absolutely LOVE the almond cake.  Yum, yum, yum, I had to restrain myself from eating all the cut out remains!  The white chocolate glaze in addition to the cut outs does make this a very sweet dessert.  Personally, I would be happy with just the glaze, but then again, I also have to perfect my glazing and cutout skills.

 

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours
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Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

These delectable little almond cakes are topped with white chocolate and are a pretty addition to any tea party.

Course Dessert, Tea Party
Cuisine French
Prep Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings 36 cakes
Author Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter (3/4 cup) room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond paste (not marzipan)
  • 6 large eggs separated
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds white chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • White Chocolate Cutouts
  • Royal Icing, for decorating

For the White Chocolate Cutouts

  • 2 1/4 pounds best-quality white chocolate finely chopped
  • liquid or gel-paste food colouring

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter a 17x 12" baking sheet and line with parchment paper.  Butter parchment and dust with flour, tapping off the excess.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1 1/4 cups sugar and the almond paste on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add butter, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg yolks and vanilla; mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Set aside.

  3. Prep sugar.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitter with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy.  With the mixer running, gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until soft peaks form.  Add a third of the egg-white mixture to the egg-yolk mixture and fold with a whisk.  Gently fold in remaining whites.

  4. Spread batter evenly on prepared sheet, and bake, turning pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Transfer pan to wire rack to cool completely.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

  5. Invert the cake onto a large work surface, and peel off parchment paper.  Using assorted 2-inch cookie cutters, cut out cakes.  Place cakes on wire racks set over rimmed baking sheets; set aside.

  6. Place the white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat; pour over white chocolate, and let sit for 1 minute.  Stir until mixture is smooth.  Spoon melted chocolate over cakes, letting some run down the sides; spread with a small offset spatula to coat completely.  Transfer glazed cakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.  Place a White Chocolate Cutouts on top of each cake; decorate with Royal Icing, if desired.  Cakes can be refiderated in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.

White Chocolate Cutouts

  1. Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment; set aside.  In a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water, melt white chocolate, stirring constantly.  Divide melted chocolate evenly among three small bowls; tint each with food colouring to desired shade.  Pour a coloured chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it with an offset spatula into a layer about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to the refrigerator; chill until chocolate is firm, 10-15 minutes.  Repeat with remaining coloured chocolates.

  2. Working with one colour at a time, cut out shapes; leave shapes in place on the sheet.  (If chocolate is still soft in any area, return to the fridge to harden, 1-2 minutes).  Refrigerate until completely firm.  Separate the shapes from borders with a small offset spatula.  (Scraps can be discarded or remelted and used again.) Cutouts can be refrigerated, between sheets or parchment paper, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all those amazing moms out there!  It’s a hard job and I greatly admire all my friends who have taken on the responsibility.  You deserve all the Petits Fours in the world!

 Have you made Petits Fours before?  Can you give me some tips?  How did you find glazing the cakes?  Did your cutouts crack?  

What did you make your mom for Mother’s Day, I want to know!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna


 

Lamb Brown Rice Lasagna

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

I love April for many reasons, spring is in the air, Easter feasts, and my favourite film fest, Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Festival kicks off.  But I also love April because spring means, DETOX TIME!  Many folk cringe at the thought of a detox, but I have cleansed annually for over 10 years now and I love it.  However, my spring cleanse also tends to cross over with my marathon training.  I need lots of carbs and protein to help my body recover from long training runs.  Can one cleanse and train at the same time?  My Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna recipe says YES, yes you can!

A spring detox flushes out all of the stale winter toxins, and resets my system leaving me feeling energized, which is great for training.  Bad habits are broken and every time I discover healthy alternatives and new recipes.  One of the first yummy cleanse-friendly items I discovered was brown rice pasta, that can be found at any big grocery chain or health store.  While a bit more delicate than regular pasta, the brown rice has great flavour and is totally gluten free!

So I managed to make a gluten free lasagna…but can I really make this classic Italian dish dairy free too?

I’m pretty sure my boyfriend’s Italian grandmother would find this sinful…but here I go! 

For the dairy substitute, I really love Daiya products.  My boyfriend is lactose intolerant so we try to stay dairy free throughout the year, and I’ve been buying Daiya cheese regularly.  I combined the Daiya mozzarella shreds with crumbled firm tofu to mimic ricotta cheese, and lemme tell ya, it really holds up!  The tofu and mozzarella substitute blend well together and taste just like soft, salty ricotta cheese.  Yum!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

 

If you’ve been reading  my blog, you know how much I love lamb.  Juicy, tasty lamb is the only red meat allowed on the detox.  While higher in cholesterol than beef, lamb is lower in sodium, contains more good fats and is rich in zinc, iron and B12.  Most importantly, lamb contains more protein than any other meat, and that makes it a fantastic recovery food for aching muscles.  Our gluten free, dairy free, protein-rich lamb lasagna is coming together!

The final step to making this awesome lasagna is in the construction.  One tip I picked up from taking the Culinary Arts class at George Brown College was to alternate between short vertical pieces of lasagna and horizontal pieces.  By having vertical and horizontal pasta layered throughout the lasagna, it helps to hold the dish together and prevents spillage when slicing.  A genius tip, that I now pass on to you!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

And there you have it my friends.  Soft, flavourful brown rice pasta is slathered in rich, lamb tomato sauce and held together with creamy, protein infused “ricotta”cheese.  There are so many awesome flavours happening here that you won’t even realize you’ve got gluten, dairy free.  So cleanse away and run, bike and swim your heart out.  This Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna will help you recover and give you renewed energy to do it all again!

 

Lamb Brown Rice Lasagna
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Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

This Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna is filled with rich lamb, brown rice pasta, tofu and Daiya cheese. A delicious dish to have on a detox, and makes for an awesome post workout meal.

Course Healthy, Main Course
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 541 kcal
Author ISeeHungryPpl

Ingredients

  • 1 box brown rice lasagna noodles
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 227 g Daiya dairy free mozzarella shreds divided in half
  • 450 g firm tofu drain, dried and crumbled
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion peeled, diced
  • 1 red pepper seeded, diced
  • 2 tablespoons Bob's Red Mill Cornstarch
  • 156 ml tomato paste
  • 796 ml diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely minced or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely minced or 1 teaspoon dried
  • sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Lightly grease a large casserole dish.

  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water as per directions on the box.  Be careful not to overcook; brown rice pasta tears very easily.

  3. Spread a couple of tablespoons of olive oil onto a baking sheet. When pasta is ready, drain and spread sheets of pasta flat on baking sheet.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine half the Daiya cheese with the crumbled tofu and mix well.

  5. Heat sauté pan to high. Flatten meat and place in pan, turning down the heat to medium. Slowly break up the meat with a wooden spoon until just cooked. Meat should be greyish in colour, not brown, so that the vegetable flavours can marry with the meat.

  6. Add all the vegetables and garlic.  Sauté until just cooked, shiny but still a bit crunchy, approximately 5 minutes.

  7. Turn the heat down to medium low and sprinkle the cornstarch over meat and vegetables. Mix well.

  8. Working quickly, add the tomato paste and mix well.  Add the diced tomatoes and stir to combine.

  9. Add the bay leaf, chili flakes, basil and oregano and mix well to combine. Simmer over low heat until sauce thickens, but still has some liquid.

  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and remove bay leaf.

  11. Spoon a layer of thin sauce into the casserole dish. Trim noodles and place vertically across the casserole dish, overlapping the edges. Spread 1/3 of the sauce over top.  Sprinkle half of the Daiya/tofu mixture evenly over top of the sauce.

  12. For the next layer, place noodles horizontally across, overlapping the edges, followed by another layer of trimmed, vertical noodles.

  13. Layer 1/3 of the sauce over top, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle remaining Daiya/tofu mixture over top of the sauce.

  14. For the top layer, place noodles horizontally across followed by the rest of the sauce, being sure to cover the noodles well. Use a spatula to help spread the sauce evenly.  Top with remaining cheese.

  15. Cover loosely with aluminum foil, making sure the foil doesn't touch the cheesy top.  Bake at 375F for 30 minutes, covered. Then uncover and bake at 325F for another 15 minutes. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

What are your favourite foods or dishes to have on a detox?  Is anyone else running a race in the spring?  

Let me know if my Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna sounds like a yummy recovery food!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna