Applesauce Banana Bread

Applesauce Banana Bread
This delicious recipe came to me as I clasped on the brink of brainstorming on how I can enjoy a warm, flavourful breakfast bread, but steer clear of a dry taste. As I was making this batch, I thought to myself, “What can kick this up a notch, and make it more savoury without compromising moisture?”. Then it came to me. Like a kick in the face as I opened up my fridge to fulfil my curiosity – old fashioned applesauce. Considering most of this week considered of soft and soluble foods as my intake due to my illness, I had a whole batch whipped up. Good luck, or a series of unfortunate events? Either way, applesauce is what took my usual banana bread over the edge and extra tasty!

Applesauce Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas
1 cup of applesauce
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup of melted, salted butter (if not salted, add a pinch of salt)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup hemp seeds (hemp seeds are a healthy alternative to nuts – swap out with almonds if desired)
1 tsp cinnamon
A loaf tin

Serves: 1 loaf of banana bread

1. Mash ripe bananas in a medium size bowl. Add melted butter and mix.
2. Add sugar, egg, applesauce, hemp seed, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Mix.
3. Mix in baking soda and flour until fully combined – should have the consistency of thick cake mix.
Mix dry ingredients.
4. Lightly grease loaf tin, and pour in batter.
5. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
Let cool.
6. Let cool for 10 minutes, then run a butter knife along the edges and flip over onto tea towel.
7. Serve, and enjoy!

Tip: Best when served fresh and still warm. If your making this in advance for the week like I do, wrap in plastic wrap and keep it in a cool place to lock in the moisture. Slice, and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds when you want a quick and warm breakfast meal!

Roasted Tomato Crustini

Roasted Tomato Crustini

Hello all! I’ve been super busy lately with work, writing, and planning a beautiful trip to Europe! Oui, it is true! I am finally travelling overseas for my first trip to Paris and London. And with such cities as architecturally beautiful as Paris and London, one must also equip themselves with new accessories to capture these moments…like a new camera! Yes, on top of a trip to Europe (which my wonderful boyfriend has planned), I have ventured into the world of photography with my first DSLR camera, the Nikon 3100. Not only will I now be capable of capturing the lush green pasture of Paris’ Jardin du Luxembourg, but I will now have higher quality pictures for all of you readers to better present my delicious and fun recipes for you to view! On that note, I bring to you a little appetizer I created today in the midst of my daily mayhem – my Roasted Tomato and Buk Choy Crustini with Tzatziki Dressing.

Roasted Tomato and Buk Choy Crustini with Tzatziki Dressing
1 Large Roma tomato, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
12 pieces of thinly sliced baguette bread
12 Baby Buk Choy
1/2 cup Tzatziki Dressing
Handful of Basil
Handful of Thyme
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

Serves: 12 Crustini

1. Lay out the bread on a cooking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle minced garlic evenly over pieces.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Next, dollop a small spoonful of Tzatziki Dressing onto each piece of bread.
4. After rinsing the Buk Choy, chop off ends and arrange leaves evenly on all pieces of bread.
5. Place 1 slice of tomato on each piece of bread; next, finely chop basil and thyme.
6. Sprinkle freshly cut herbs over bread and dash each piece with a pinch of sea salt; drizzle with olive oil once again.
7. Cook for about 10 minutes, then broil for about 2-3 minutes on 500F
8. Plate, and serve!

Bon Appetit!

Wine-Poached Peach French Toast

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So this is what a computer looks like! I must apologize for my absence – between work, summer festivities and lack of access to a working computer, I’ve gotten a case of lazy-blogger. But I’m back, and filled with more fun summer recipes and fantastic Eats and Beats news to post about!

My next recipe comes to me with the inspiration of a juicy fruit dish that reminds me a little bit of Autumn mixed with sweet summer taste! Delicious just by themselves, topped over ice cream, coconut pie, or in this case, warm french toast – poached peaches are an aromatic dream full of spicy herbs and red wine goodness that is sure to be a crowd-pleasing accent to any outdoor party!

Wine-Poached Peach French Toast

Peaches:
6 ripe peaches, quartered
4 cups wine of your choice (I used a Rosé wine)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks /OR 1 table-spoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
aluminum foil
optional: 3 mint leaves, preferably chocolate

French Toast Assembly:
4 slices thick, texas-style toast
4 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons milk
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon butter

Serves: 4 slices delicious french toast!

1. In a medium size pot, bring water, wine, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon sticks (and mint leaves) to a slight boil. Turn down the heat to medium.
2. Add in peaches, stir to coat. (I like to leave the skin on, but your more than welcome to peel the peaches)
3. Cover pot with tinfoil, and poke a couple small holes.
4. Let poach for about 20 – 25 minutes.
5. Remove foil, and transfer to a bowl to cool down.
6. Set aside in the fridge to save for a dessert or to snack on later! If not, read on : )

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7. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs and add the salt, cinnamon and milk
8. Melt butter in a medium skillet until it just starts to bubble on medium heat.
9. Cooking two at a time, coat slices of bread in egg wash mixture. I like to leave mine soaking for about 20 – 30 seconds.
10. Cook both sides of bread in the skillet – adding more cinnamon on top if you prefer – until golden brown.
11. Transfer desired slices to plate and top off with handful of poached peaches! I love the peach juice to coat mine, but a dollop of maple syrup and whipped cream is a sweet touch to your dish!

Happy Eating!!

Steak and Smoked Salmon Crustini

steakbaguette

Here in Windsor it is April 24th – and still 40 degrees fahrenheit. By now, I have envisioned most of my cooking to consist of outdoor barbecue favourites, like Beef and Vegetable Skewers paired with a nice Garden Summer Salad and my Peach Champagne Bellini’s. But on this cold, rainy day I am forced to use my oven as my virtual barbecue. Despite my desire to cook in my bathing suit to, at least, fake myself into thinking we have hit hot weather.. I instead cooked up a baked Steak and Smoked Salmon Crustini with a Horseradish and Avocado Pesto. Delicious as an entrée paired with a Cucumber and Tomato Salad, or as a bite-size appetizer! Envision, and Enjoy!

Steak and Smoked Salmon Crustini

1 Grilled Medium-Rare Ribeye Steak, cut into thin pieces
1 French Baguette, sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
2 Avocados, halved and scooped out
3 teaspoons Horseradish Sauce
12 – 13 slices of thinly sliced raw Smoked Salmon (can be found at most supermarkets in packages)
3/4 – 1 cup shaved Parmigiano cheese
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Half of a lemon
3 cloves garlic

Serves: 12 Crustini’s

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a food processor or small blender, add the 4 halves of avocado, horseradish, garlic cloves, and juice of the lemon. Blend until smooth.
3. Lay out all pieces of sliced baguette (should be about 12 or 13) on baking sheet. Spread avocado and horseradish mixture across each piece.
4. Next, layer on one slice of smoked salmon for each piece, then pieces of steak, and Parmigiano cheese.
5. Bake for about 5 – 7 minutes, or until steak starts to bubble and pop.
6. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve!!

TIP: Don’t overbake the crustini – as soon as you see the smoked salmon start to cook and turn white, it looses the texture.

steakbagplate

Yum!

Baking 101: Baking Powder Vs. Baking Soda

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(image courtesy of google images)

Sugar. Check. Flour. Check. Eggs. Check. Baking Soda – We have a problem.

I can’t tell you how many times I have underestimated my pantry stock (also reason #287 why you should have all your ingredients prepared before starting to cook or bake), and thus, have come to a fork in the road when I am missing a key ingredient. This is most especially crucial when it comes to baking, which comes down to basic chemistry in order to produce a successful result. But once question I have asked myself numerous times, and have been asked in return, is what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder, and can I substitute one for the other? The answer lies in science.

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is mixed with something acidic (such as buttermilk or yogurt) and moisture, a chemical reaction occurs in which bubbles of carbon dioxide form. Under the hot oven temperature, heat expands this process and this is what makes baked goods rise. Because this reaction occurs as soon as the ingredients are combined, recipes that call for baking soda must be baked immediately or they will fall flat.

Baking powder also contains sodium bicarbonate, but the acidifying agent, cream of tartar is already present. Two types of baking powder are available for baking use – single-acting baking powder and double-acting baking powder. Single-acting baking powder is activated by moisture, and therefore must be baked immediately after combining. Double-acting baking powder releases the carbon dioxide in two stages. The first, when the ingredients are combined at room temperature; and the second, when it reacts to the hot heat of the oven. Essentially, mixtures with double-acting baking powder can stand out longer before baking.

So when do you use baking powder or baking soda?

It all comes down to taste and ingredients. Baking soda has a bitter taste, and needs to counteract with an acidic ingredient like buttermilk or yogurt – this is especially found in cookie recipes. Baking powder on the other hand has both a base AND an acid, and in effect has a neutral taste – this works best with ingredients with neutral-taste (like milk) in recipes such as cake and biscuits. Because the ingredients directly affect the chemical reaction, it is possible to use baking powder when the recipe calls for baking soda, but it is not beneficial to use baking soda when it calls for baking powder because the recipe most likely lacks the acidifying ingredient. It is possible to make your own baking powder with baking soda by adding cream and tartar.

Happy Baking!

Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Pesto Panini

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Today’s post comes from the inspiration of leftovers – whether you use grilled chicken, cured deli meats, shredded pork or leftover beef, leftover meat always makes a great sandwich when you throw in fresh and creative ingredients. In this panini, I used grilled skinless chicken, home-made broccoli and garlic pesto, sliced beefsteak tomato and mozzarella cheese on toasted rye bread.

Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Pesto Panini

1 whole boneless chicken breast, grilled and shredded
6 slices beefsteak tomato (or any larger tomato)
1 fresh broccoli stock
3 cloves garlic
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon chopped dill weed
salt and pepper to taste

Serves: 2

1. In a small saucepan, boil broccoli for 3 minutes – you want it slightly cooked, but still hard enough that the pesto won’t be mushy.
2. Drain, and in a food processor combine the broccoli, garlic, dill weed, and pinch of salt.
3. Blend on low, slowly adding in olive oil until all ingredients are combined into a spreadable texture.
4. On your rye bread, spread pesto on both sides and top each sandwich with 2 slices of mozzarella cheese, 3 slices of tomato, grilled chicken, and salt and pepper to your taste.
5. If you have a panini press, grilled for 3 minutes. If not, heat up sandwiches in a skillet on medium heat, and sit a large plate (or anything heavy) on top of the sandwich to weigh it down and give it some char.
6. Cut in half, and serve!

Happy Eating!

Tea For Two! Or Three.. Or Four..

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(image courtesy of annabellestearoom.com)

This week, I visited the cutest little tea room in Kingsville, Ontario with my girlfriends and was amazed at just how quaint and authentic it really was! Located on beautiful Lake Erie, owner Susanne wanted to create a space fashioned with delicate antiques and Victorian charm; tea cups with intricate color and detail sit upon rustic shelves to create the most gracious atmosphere; and brass fixtures are fastened to old, refinished fireplaces situated at the back of each cozy room.

jkp

But Annabelle’s old charm is not the only attribute that makes this place one of my favorite Eats. With a menu of over 95 different aromatic teas to chose from and an elegant dining menu fixed with scrumptious tea sandwiches, authentic quiches and soups, and delicate pastries served with the most delicious cream and fruit preserves, it was hard to choose what to try first! Sitting at the intimate table with my girlfriends gave me an authentic feel for the Victorian Era.

If you have a chance to visit the area, I would highly recommend Annabelle’s Tea House for a charming outing, baby shower, wedding shower, children’s birthday party, or just a lunch-date!

Visit the site here for more information and reservations!