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Classic Apple Pie!

I didn’t get around to posting this after Canadian Thanksgiving last month. It’s been a crazy couple of months, what can I say. Anyway, it just reaffirmed my disenchantment re: making pie crust. I never know what the exact texture is supposed to be after adding the ice water and I made it too dry, couldn’t roll it out properly, and the crust had to be mended in a few pieces. But…it tasted really good. It was definitely flaky and just buttery enough. The apple filling was lovely. I thought I had too much apple so I left some out, but the shrunk considerably after baking and left a giant pocket in the top of the baked pie. And Steve thought the filling could use more cinnamon so I might give that a try next time. For those of you gearing up for American Thanksgiving, you would probably do a way better job than me on this one! Let me know how it turns out.

Source: They have a great tutorial. I only wish they showed what the dough looked like immediately after mixing so that I know how wet it should be.


Classic Apple Pie

  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 lb. Cortland apples (about 4 medium)
  • 1 lb.Granny Smith apples (about 2-1/2 medium)
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon; more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 Tbs. cold unsalted butter cut into small (1/4-inch) cubes
  • 4 to 6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 recipe Flaky Pie Pastry
Position two oven racks in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
Make the filling:

Peel the apples, cut each in half from top to bottom, remove the cores with a melon baller, and trim the ends with a paring knife. Lay the apples, cut side down, on a cutting board. Cut the Cortland apples (below left) crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces, and then halve each piece diagonally. Cut the Granny Smith apples (below right) crosswise into 1/4-inch slices, leaving them whole. Put the apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice.

Combine the brown sugar, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, kosher salt, and nutmeg in a small bowl. (Don’t add this to the fruit yet.)

In a small dish, lightly beat the egg white with 1 teaspoon water. Set aside.

Assemble the pie:

Butter a 9-inch ovenproof glass (Pyrex) pie plate, including the rim, with the 2 tsp. of softened butter.

Rub 2 to 3 Tbs. of flour into the surface of a pastry cloth, forming a circle about 15 inches across, and also into a rolling pin stocking. If you don’t have a pastry cloth, rub the flour into a large, smooth-weave, cotton kitchen towel and use a floured rolling pin. Roll one of the disks of dough into a circle that’s 1/8 inch thick and about 15 inches across.

Lay the rolling pin across the upper third of the dough circle; lift the pastry cloth to gently drape the dough over the pin and then roll the pin toward you, wrapping the remaining dough loosely around it. Hold the rolling pin over the near edge of the pie plate. Allowing for about a 1-inch overhang, unroll the dough away from you, easing it into the contours of the pan. If the dough isn’t centered in the pan, gently adjust it and then lightly press it into the pan. Take care not to stretch the dough. If it tears, simply press it back together—the dough is quite forgiving.

Brush the bottom and sides of the dough with a light coating of the egg-white wash (you won’t need all of it). Leaving a 1/4-inch overhang, cut around the edge of the dough with kitchen shears.

Combine the sugar mixture with the apples and toss to coat well. Mound the apples in the pie plate, rearranging the fruit as needed to make the pile compact. Dot the apples with the 1 Tbs. cold butter cubes.

Rub another 2 to 3 Tbs. flour into the surface of the pastry cloth and stocking. Roll the remaining dough into a circle that’s 1/8 inch thick and about 15 inches across. Use the rolling pin to move the dough. As you unroll the dough, center it on top of the apples. Place your hands on either side of the top crust of the pie and ease the dough toward the center, giving the dough plenty of slack. Leaving a 3/4-inch overhang, trim the top layer of dough around the rim of the pie plate. Fold the top layer of dough under the bottom layer, tucking the two layers of dough together. Press a lightly floured fork around the edge of the dough to seal it, or flute the edge of the dough with lightly floured fingers.

Lightly brush the top with cold water and sprinkle the surface with the remaining 1 Tbs. sugar. Make steam vents in the dough by poking the tip of a paring knife through it in a few places; it’s important to vent well so that the steam from the cooking apples won’t build up and crack the top of the crust.
Bake the pie:

Cover the rim of the pie with aluminum foil bands. This will prevent the edge of the crust from overbrowning.

Place a rimmed baking sheet or an aluminum foil drip pan on the oven rack below the pie to catch any juices that overflow during baking. Set the pie on the rack above.

Bake until the top and bottom crusts are golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 60 to 75 minutes; to thicken, the juices must boil, so look for the bubbles through the steam vents or through cracks near the edges of the pie and listen for the sound of bubbling juices. During the last 5 minutes of baking, remove the foil bands from the edges of the pie. Cool the pie at least 3 hours and up to overnight before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

The pie will keep at room temperature for up to 1 day. For longer storage, cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 5 days; reheat before serving in a 325°F oven until warmed through, about 20 minutes.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on ten servings; Calories (kcal): 460; Fat (g): fat g 23; Fat Calories (kcal): 200; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 10; Protein (g): protein g 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 60; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 230; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 30; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Ultimate Lasagna

Canadian Living Magazine has a new cookbook out called “Canadian Living: The Ultimate Cookbook” and I’m so tempted to buy it because it’s geared towards Canadians of course and includes some classics like Nanaimo bars and butter tarts. It has more Asian inspired recipes rather than Mexican which are more common in cookbooks from the States. I love Mexican and Tex-Mex but the ingredients are harder to find and I’m so intimidated by trying to buy fresh peppers. I’m just so clueless and I’m not a fan of spicy food. Anyway, instead of making an impulse buy I collected some of the recipes from the cookbook that are available online in order to try them beforehand. If they’re great then I can justify buying the whole book. I had a craving for lasagna so Steve was nice enough to make it while I took Miss M. on her very first play date. The play date and the lasagna both went very well! It takes a lot of work to make a lasagna from scratch but everything came together simply and it was very yummy! I would definitely make this again.

I think the next recipe we’ll try is Kung Pao Chicken (cooled down a bit). :)


Ultimate Lasagna

Prep time 45 minutes Total time 3 hours Portion size 12 servings

12 lasagna noodles
1 tub (475 g) extra-smooth ricotta cheese
1 cup (250 mL) grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper
4-1/2 cups (1.125 L) shredded mozzarella cheese
Tomato Meat Sauce:
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 onions, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (each 156 mL) tomato paste
675 g lean ground beef
2 cans (each 796 mL) diced tomatoes
1 cup (250 mL) red or white wine
2 bay leaves
2 tsp (10 mL) dried oregano
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
3/4 tsp (4 mL) pepper

Tomato Meat Sauce: In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat; cook onions, celery, carrot and garlic, stirring occasionally,until softened, about 5 minutes.Stir in tomato paste. Add beef; cook,breaking up with spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes,wine, bay leaves, oregano, salt and pepper; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 3 days.

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles for 2 minutes less than package directions for al dente. Drain; lay noodles, without touching, in single layer on tea towel. Stir together ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce. In 13- x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish, spread one-third of the remaining meat sauce. Arrange 3 noodles over top; sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella cheese. Top with half of the remaining meat sauce, 3 noodles, ricotta mixture, 3 noodles, remaining meat sauce, then 3 noodles. Top with reserved meat sauce, then remaining mozzarella cheese.

Make-ahead: Cover with plasticwrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Unwrap before baking.
Cover with foil. Bake in 375F (190 C) oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is golden, about 15 minutes. Loosely cover with foil; let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information per serving: about cal 551, pro 35g, total fat 30g sat. fat 16g, carb 36g, dietary fibre 5g, sugar 10g, chol 92mg, sodium 1,065mg, potassium 868mg, %RDI: calcium 47, iron 36, vit A 36, vit C 43, folate 33

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Technically, they’re called tarts. I promised Mr. M pumpkin pie but he’s also trying to eat healthier so I thought going mini would help with portion control and there would be no waste, as I don’t much care for pumpkin pie. I cheated and used pre-made dough, but the filling is super simple to make. To create the large tarts I used molds I found at Dollarama which make roughly double sized tarts. The bottoms pop out so it makes the tarts super easy to remove from the pan, which I love. Mr. M said he liked the tarts so this one’s definitely a keeper. If you have smaller family, or only have one or two pumpkin pie fans, this recipe is for you. Enjoy! (Thank you You’re a lifesaver!)

mini pumpkin pies


For the crust:
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
1½ tablespoons cold shortening, diced
½ cup + 2 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold water
For the filling:
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of salt
¼ cup + 1 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon milk
1 large egg
1 large egg beaten (for brushing on pie crust)

In a medium bowl, combine the butter, shortening, flour and salt. Blend the butter and shortening into the flour using your fingertips. Pinch the dough through your fingertips for the flakiest results. When the fats are evenly distributed, sprinkle the cold water on top. Stir the dough together with a fork. It may need more water, but try not err on the dry side.

Bring the dough together into a ball, press it into a disk, then wrap and refrigerate it for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400.

Stir together all filling ingredients (only use 1 egg) with a whisk. Set aside.
Remove the dough from the fridge and flour a work surface. Roll the dough out to a rough 9″ circle, using more flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Use a 4″ round cookie cutter to cut out 4 round pieces of dough. Fit each dough circle into cups on a muffin pan. You can flute the edges with your fingertips. (I used excess dough to make the feather shapes on top of the dough).
Divide the filling mixture between the cups. Brush the beaten egg on the pie dough edges and feather cut-outs (if using).

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325 for another 10 minutes.
Let mini pies cool in pan completely before removing. You may need to run a knife around the edges of the pies to pop them out of the muffin pan.

Notes: You may use 1 roll-out pre-made pie dough crust instead.

Lighter Crockpot Beef Stew

I’m still trying to incorporate more healthy recipes into my repertoire and my friend Steve suggested we make two slow cooker meals during the weekend and share them so that we can both have healthy meals during the week. That way we don’t get sick of eating the same dish like 4 days in a row. Well, we had the best of intentions but he forgot to bring over his slow cooker. I had a major slow cooked beef craving so I decided to go ahead and make this stew. I must warn you, it’s not a quick and easy, dump it and leave it kind of a recipe. It takes a while to brown your meat, then you have to chop all the veggies and brown your mushrooms, which took way longer than the 5-7 minutes they stated in the book. I had everything crammed into one large skillet and it took forever for the mushrooms to sweat off their moisture and brown. After that’s completed you have to throw in a 1/2 cup of flour to make a kind of roux I suspect, but it’s not really possible to do when you’re only supposed to use 1 tsp of oil for all of this. There was not enough moisture to soak up the flour so I gave up and added the rest of the ingredients anyway. It all worked out in the end and it tasted pretty darn good! If I hadn’t made it myself I wouldn’t have known it was lower in fat. It’s even better the next day.

Source: “Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution”

Lite Beef Stew

Country Beef and Vegetable Stew


  • 2 pounds boneless chuck-eye roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms trimmed and quartered
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound red potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley


  1. After the meat has been cut into chunks, pat it dry with a paper towel and season all the pieces with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the beef in two batches until it is well browned on each side, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the mushrooms and onions to fat left in the skillet, cover and cook until mushrooms are dry and browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Slowly stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and summer until almost completely evaporated, 5-7 minutes. Stir in one cup of broth, smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Stir in remaining 2 cups of broth, soy sauce, bay leaves, and 3/4 tsp salt into slow cooker,then stir in potatoes and carrots. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9-11 hours on low or 6-8 hours on high.
  4. Discard bay leaves. Stir in peas and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Adjust stew consistency with extra hot broth as needed.) Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Per 1 2/3 cup serving: 380 calories, Fat 6g, Chol 75mg, Carb 40g, Protein 34g, Fiber 6g, sodium 862mg

Healthier Blondies

We have soooo much candy and chocolate leftover from Halloween baking that I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have gummies galore plus a ton of M&M mini’s leftover from making monster cupcakes so I decided I would do something fun, but not quite as terrible for us. Inspired by the Becel Buttery commercial I decided to try substituting some of the butter in my favourite blondie recipe with Becel, and some of the sugar with Splenda. Creaming the butter and sugar/splenda didn’t really happen. It mixed together but it was definitely a different consistency. And the final batter was very thick and difficult to spread. I baked them for 19 minutes and they turned out very cake-like. They were still moist but not gooey and sweet like a blondie is supposed to be. Taste wise they were fine. I think I would call them squares of some sort instead of blondies to temper any disappointment for anyone expecting that signature gooey goodness. Kids would still gobble them up, no problem. I have a new found respect for the cooks that develop lower fat or lower sugar recipes. It takes a lot more than a simple substitution to make a recipe a success. Hats off to you!

IMG_20151105_150623 IMG_20151105_150903-2

Healthier Blondies (or M&M Squares / Chocolate Chips Squares?)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup Becel Buttery

1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup Splenda granular (measures cup for cup like sugar)

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

Pinch salt

1 cup (4 3/8 ounces or 125 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup M&M minis or chocolate chips, divided

1.Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper.
2.Mix butters with sugars until pale. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
3.Add salt, stir in flour. Add half the candies or chocolate chips. Stir until just mixed together.
4.Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining candies or chocolate chips on top. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. (I baked mine for 19 minutes)

Spicy Grilled Lemon Chicken and Brown Rice and Mushroom Salad

As you guys have probably figured out, I am a cookbook addict and I especially enjoy bargain hunting at the thrift store or dollar stores. I found this cookbook at the Dollarama by Sandra Lee, “Money Saving Meals and Round Two Recipes”. I haven’t tried any of her recipes before because I had only known her to make the “semi-homemade” dishes, but this cookbook is different. The recipes are homemade and I like the concept of revamping leftovers in order to save time and money. I had some chicken breasts on hand so I decided to give this recipe a try. It was pretty good but it didn’t totally wow me. It’s quick and healthy in a pinch. In Sandra’s defense, I probably did pick the most boring recipe in the book. There are more than a few dishes in there that looked quite appetizing. I had planned on making the stuffed peppers the next night but my daughter and I missed our bus at the end of the day, she needed to pee so we stopped into the grocery so she could use the bathroom. She was whiny and hungry so I ended up getting her the pre-made chicken fingers meal instead. I never did get around to making the peppers, or taking photos. This one’s from Welcome to real life! lol

Spicy Grilled Lemon Chicken

Total Time:3 hr 20 min Prep:25 min Inactive:2 hr Cook:55 min

Yield:4 servings


Spicy Grilled Lemon Chicken:
1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken breast with skin
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for grilling
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 lemons, zested and juiced, juice reserved for Brown Rice and Mushroom Salad

Brown Rice and Mushroom Salad:
1 cup chicken broth
Kosher salt
2 cups brown rice
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms, chopped

Reserved lemon juice from Spicy Grilled Lemon Chicken
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 tablespoon canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves


For the chicken: Remove the skin from the chicken breasts and take the breasts off the bone separating out the tenders. Cut the breasts in half lengthwise. Put the breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound them thin with a rolling pin or small skillet.

Put the chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag, pour the oil into the bag, and add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Mix it all together, seal the bag, put it in a bowl, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Refrigerate the tenders separately.

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat.

Oil the grill to prevent the chicken from sticking. When you are ready to cook, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Put the chicken breasts and tenders on the grill and cook until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side (reserve the chicken tenders for the online Round 2 Recipe Grilled Chicken and Apple Wraps).

For the salad: In a saucepan with a lid, heat 2 cups water, chicken broth, and 1 teaspoon salt over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and spread it out onto a sheet pan to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled rice, onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, brown mustard, canola oil, salt and pepper, to taste, parsley, and thyme. Whisk until well combined. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss everything together. (Reserve 2 cups for the Round 2 Recipe Stuffed Peppers.) Cover and refrigerate if not serving right away.

Serve the breasts while hot with the Brown Rice and Mushroom Salad.

Stuffed Peppers

2 red bell peppers
2 cups reserved brown rice mixture from Brown Rice and Mushroom Salad
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the red peppers in half and scoop out the seeds and ribs. Place them onto a baking sheet.

To the reserved brown rice mixture, stir in half the cheese and all the tomatoes. Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture, dividing it evenly. Top the peppers with the remaining cheese. Bake until the peppers are tender and the cheese has melted, 25 to 30 minutes.


Quick Chicken-Pepper Pasta

My friend Steve was over and was on candy duty for Halloween. To simplify my evening he also made me dinner! Looking through my cookbooks we decided to try something we knew would be quick, easy, and made with what we had on hand so we turned to this thriftstore find “Quick and Easy Family Favourites” from Gooseberry Patch. Honestly, I didn’t have the highest hopes, mainly because many of the recipes in the book rely on premade ingredients, but this one didn’t. Steve said historically, he didn’t have the best luck with cream sauces either so he was hesitant as well. But guess what…it was fabulous! We didn’t have red peppers so we used green, he forgot the garlic, and neither of us like tarragon very much, but other than than we stuck the recipe and I was so impressed. Cheesy, creamy, deliciousness! I guess there’s a reason why that company is so popular. :)


Chicken Pepper Pasta


6 tablespoons butter or margarine (We used half of each)
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (7-oz.) pkg. vermicelli, cooked


Melt butter in a skillet until sizzling; stir in onion, peppers and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender. Remove vegetables from skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add chicken, tarragon, salt and pepper to skillet. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 7 to 9 minutes or until chicken is golden and tender.

Add vegetables, half-and-half and cheeses to chicken mixture. Reduce heat to medium; continue cooking 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Add vermicelli; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.


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