Strawberries galore!

We spent some time this weekend in Southern Alberta visiting friends.  Many times in the past we have gone to pick berries while visiting, and this time was no different from before.  We took the kids early one morning to Broxburn Vegetable and Cafe, and we were not disappointed.  The berries were plentiful, large and so sweet.  We were able to pick two pails full of berries, and a few may have also ended up in our bellies!  I wanted to bring some berries home for snacking, but I was also very keen to bake with them.  I still had some pie dough left in the freezer so I went looking for a recipe.  I wanted a recipe that was for more than just strawberries and I also wanted a streusel top.  After looking through many recipes I found one that looked great.  The recipe called for 6 cups of strawberries, but I ended up using 4 cups of strawberries and one cup each of raspberries and blueberries.  In the end the pie turned out even better than I had envisioned.  It was sweet from the berries and covered in a crumble top that was crunchy from the oven.  Served with vanilla ice cream, it was pure deliciousness.  Find the Streusel-topped strawberry pie here, remembering that I used my grandma’s pie dough for the crust.

Happy baking,
Sara

Classic Saskatoon pie

The Saskatoon berries in Southern Alberta this year have been abundant, large and juicy.  My dad has been out picking them by the bag full, so of course I needed to make them into a pie.  I had leftover dough from pie making earlier in the month, so this pie came together quickly!  The recipe that I am going to share with you is from my Grandma, I have copied her words verbatim, and trust me she will not lead you astray in pie making.

Classic Saskatoon Pie

This is a true prairie dish served often by your grandmother and great-grandmother.  One tip: Saskatoon berries have to be cooked before baking with sugar or they will be woody and tough.

  • Pastry for a 2 crust 9 inch pie (see an earlier post on pie dough)
  • 4 cups of Saskatoon berries
  • 2-4 tbsp of water (this will depend on the juciness of the berries)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar (I usually use the lesser amount, but this depends on the sweetness of the berries)
  • 1 tbsp tapioca or 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg or cinnamon

Simmer Saskatoon berries and water in a pan.  Bring them to a boil, then turn off the heat, put the lid on and let the berries steam for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes remove lid and add, lemon juice, sugar, tapioca/flour, butter and cinnamon or nutmeg.  Cool slightly and place in pie shell.  I use milk and sugar on my crust.  Be sure to remember to make steam slits in the top of the pie.  Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 for about 35 minutes.

Happy baking,
Sara

*After doing some reading on different types of berries it seems that Saskatoon berries and Huckleberries are very similar.  Huckleberries may be slightly sweeter, so just decrease the amount of sugar used.  As we do not have Huckleberries in Alberta, this information is for my friends in the U.S.*

Celebrate 150!

As Canadians, we have a very special weekend coming up.  Whether you are celebrating with a large group, a small gathering with friends or a backyard BBQ these recipes will be sure to please a crowd.  As we approach such a special milestone I am so very proud to call myself a Canadian.  Happy Birthday Canada!

Appetizers:
– watermelon, feta and mint on a skewer drizzled with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. (use a melon baller or cut the melon into cubes).
triple layer guacamole served with tortilla chips
antipasto salad kabobs
melon, prosciutto and mozzarella skewers
pepperoni pizza dip (if you have never made this dip YOU MUST!)
mediterranean 7-layer dip served with pita chips
feta dip

Sides:
ranch pasta salad
broccoli and apple salad
hail to the kale salad (this is an amazing salad and perfect for a BBQ)
corn salad
– baked beans (this recipe belongs to my very good friend MB)
Finely chop one onion and brown in 1 tbsp of butter.  Pour over three cans of beans: 1      kidney, 1 baked and 1 black.  Combine 1/2 cup of ketchup, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1/2 tsp garlic, 1/4 tsp pepper.  Pour this over the bean and onion mixture.  Bake at 300 for 1-2 hours.
– other ideas for sides: fresh fruit and vegetables and assorted chips with dip.

Mains:
chicken caesar burgers
fall-off-the-bone ribs (this is my go-to recipe)
tin foil sausage and veggie dinner
the ultimate burger
– other ideas for mains: grilled hotdogs, smokies, sausages, steaks or salmon.

Desserts:
confetti squares
Nanaimo bars
pecan tarts
strawberry shortcake
strawberry pretzel pie
no bake cheesecake bars

Happy Canada Day,
Sara

Bring in spring

With spring in the air and summer just around the corner it is a great time to add some new ingredients into your evening meals.  At this time of year I am always looking to add some seasonal ingredients into my meal plans.  Currently, asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb are just hitting their peak.

Asparagus is an easy add to any meal, roasted, baked or even barbecued it is a perfect side dish to any protein.  I like to bake mine at a high heat with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and some grated lemon rind.  Another delicious topping to roasted asparagus is feta cheese and sliced grape tomatoes.  Here are a few more asparagus recipes: roasted garlic asparagus,  sautéed asparagus and grilled balsamic asparagus.

Most often we think to use strawberries in desserts, but topping some spinach with sliced strawberries is a wonderful flavour combination.  I found a great recipe for a strawberry spinach salad from @cookinglight.  The recipe called for chicken as well but we ate ours without.  I also added blackberries as they are also in abundance at this time of year.  Instead of making a dressing for the salad you let the berries sit in a mixture of oil and vinegar and then add it to the salad.  To finish it off you sprinkle with feta and pecans.  I decided to candy my pecans and the salad turned out amazingly!  Here is another great looking strawberry salad recipe.

I love rhubarb!  For me simplicity is the key, I love stewing rhubarb and using it as a topping for yogurt or ice cream.  Another great idea for rhubarb is baked in muffins with cinnamon sugar topping.  A recipe that I have been wanting to try is strawberry rhubarb crisp bars from @smittenkitchen.  If you are looking for something different, then give Jamie Oliver’s meringue with rhubarb and cream recipe a try.

Happy cooking,
Sara

 

Spring cookies

It is always fun to make seasonal cookies.  It is even more fun to include children in this tradition.  Baking is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen.  Measuring, pouring, cracking and mixing are all things that kids can do.  I was very excited to make some Easter cookies and include the pastel M & Ms inside the batter.  I have made this recipe many times and shared it with you earlier in the blog.  This sugar cookie recipe from @averiesunshine is simply the best!  Follow exactly what the recipe says, and do not skip placing the dough in the fridge.  Remove cookies from oven when they are just slightly golden around the edges.  From the top they don’t even look cooked, but I promise they are soft and chewy.  I added some pink, purple, green, yellow, blue jimmies and sprinkles to the batter.  I love the crunch that it gives this soft buttery cookie.

Happy baking,
Sara

Easter feast!

How are you spending your Easter weekend?  Will it be a large gathering or something small with family?  For the past couple of years I have hosted Easter, last year we had Easter lunch and the year before dinner.  Lunch was easier and less stressful than dinner, and we had more time to spend visiting and catching up.  This year we will be out-of-town for Easter, so I am unsure what it will look like.  I have pulled some recipes together that will help you create an amazing Easter meal.

Baked ham from @williamssonoma this is the ham that I made a few years back, it turned out delicious!
Honey-Mustard glazed ham from @chowhound
Scallop potatoes from @natashaskitchen I have also made these potatoes, not low-fat but a must have.
Potatoes Anna from @neighborfoodie a different and slightly lighter take on potatoes.
Roasted carrots from @pioneerwoman
Rosemary roasted carrots from @ohmyveggies just a slight twist on the original.
Kale salad from @gimmiesomeoven
Broccoli salad from @natashaskitchen
Strawberry shortcake cheesecake from @lifeloveandsugar I made this cake a few years ago and it is a great spring dessert.
Lemon icebox pie from @lifeloveandsugar how can you go wrong with a lemon dessert in the spring?
Strawberry rhubarb crisp from @cookingclassy why not use some in season fruit to complete your Easter meal.

Hoppy Easter,
Sara

Brownies vs. Blondies

What is your go to dessert?  Is it cake, pie, cookies or maybe a tray of brownies?  I have been thinking about if I enjoy a brownie or a blondie better, and I think I like the versatility of the blondie.  It is easier to add something extra to the blondie to change the flavour like candy or spice.  I have found some of my favourite recipes to share with you, but please let me know which do you like better?

Brownie:
Crazy brownies from @pioneerwoman these are insanely delicious.  I have made them several times, but make sure you serve these with a big glass of milk!
Best cocoa brownies from @smittenkitchen I have never made a recipe from Deb that I did not like!
Secretly healthy zucchini brownies from @yammiesnoshery you will not believe the calorie count of these!
New and improved healthy brownies from @ambitiouskitchen you will need to check this recipe out to see how she makes these good for you brownies!  They are gluten and dairy free.

Blondies:
Cake batter blondies from @sallysbakeblog these would be a very fun addition to any birthday party.
Peanut butter cup blondies from @alidaskitchen who does not love peanut butter cups?  These look amazing.
Salted caramel blondies from @addapinch I am in love with everything salted caramel and I am sure that these would not disappoint.
Snickerdoodle blondie bars from @bakedbyrachel there is something so delicious about the mixture of sugar and cinnamon.

Happy baking,
Sara