Improv Challenge: Cinnamon and Sugar (Strawberry Cobbler)

Once again I find myself thinking… it’s been way too long since I’ve posted on my blog! Last post, I had just made it through the exam season. Since then, I’ve been quite busy as usual.

I took a short vacation to visit one of my very best friends and her family in Northern Ontario. I spent 3 wonderful days visiting and relaxing. The time out of the city was much needed.

Waterfall in South River

Waterfall in South River

We made a day-trip to Pickerel River where H’s aunt and uncle own a lovely cottage. It had been about 10 years since my last visit. As children, we visited for a week most summers, not a whole lot has changed (except they finished building the house). We even fit in a short kayaking trip! I wish I had been brave enough to bring my camera along, the was a waterfall down the river that was still frozen.

Pickerel River

Pickerel River

A beaver swimming in the Pickerel River

A beaver swimming in the Pickerel River

I have to admit I didn’t really want to come home. Don’t get me wrong, I missed Bryan and Loki. And I was looking forward to starting my summer classes. But a full week away would have been nice. 🙂

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are cinnamon and sugar. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, my dish is inspired by my trip up north. When we visited Pickerel River, H’s mom made a lovely peach cobbler that we took along for dessert. For the challenge, I made a Strawberry Cobbler!

Strawberry Cobbler

Inspired by S’s Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

Fruit Filling

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar â€“ approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch â€“ approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup COLD water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice â€“ approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries â€“ approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon â€“ approximate cost $0.10

Topping

  • 1 cup flour â€“ approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar â€“ approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder â€“ approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt â€“ approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup whole milk â€“ approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided into 6 â€“ approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the fruit filling.
    1. Combine the cornstarch and cold water in a cup.
    2. Mix well.
    3. Add cornstarch mixture and brown sugar to a sauce pot.
    4. Cook over medium heat until thickened and sugar is dissolved.
    5. Remove from heat.
    6. Add lemon juice.
    7. Add strawberries.
    8. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish.
    9. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  3. Prepare the topping.
    1. Combine flour, cane sugar, baking powder, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Add milk, stirring constantly.
    3. Add water, stirring until well-mixed (no dry flour).
  4. Spoon the topping over the fruit (leaving it in dumpling shapes).
  5. Dot each dumpling with butter.
  6. Bake the cobbler for about 25 minutes (or until topping is cooked through and golden brown).
  7. Cool slightly.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.60 per serving).



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Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are hearts and flours. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, I’m sharing a gingerbread cookie recipe I got from my friend Kas (with slight modifications).

  • The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon ground cardamom in addition to the other spices. However, I left this out because I didn’t have the ingredient readily available in my pantry (and it was Family Day, so I couldn’t go to the store to buy some).
  • I used fancy molasses instead of unsulphured molasses.
  • I baked the cookies for 8 1/2 minutes (which made for crunchy cookies, but I would have preferred they turned out soft like Kas’s cookies).
  • I used lactose-free milk instead of regular milk.
  • I used cane sugar instead of white sugar.
  • I used sea salt instead of table salt.

Kas’s Piparkakut cookies are amazing. She tends to make them around Christmas and, if you’re lucky, you get a pack of cookies as a gift. this year, I had the privileged of making a double-batch of cookies with her during a visit. I’m not great at baking, so it was nice to go through the process with a pro (it is her family’s recipe after all!). The ones we made over the holiday were decorated with sprinkles and divided between the two of us. I gave a few away, but Bryan and I kept most of that batch for ourselves.

So, after getting the stand mixer a few weeks back, I decided it was about time that I try making these cookies at home. So on Family Day (this past Monday), I enlisted Bryan’s help with some cookie making. One thing I must point out is that the cookie dough is just as delicious as the cookies themselves. As we were rolling out the cookies, Bryan and I enjoyed many tastes of the dough before it even made it into the oven! We just got our first set of cookie cutters and made several shapes: hearts (as per the Improv Challenge), stars, multi-pointed stars and a shape we cannot agree on (I think it’s candy — Bryan thinks it’s a bone). At the end of the night, we’d sampled so much dough that we were too full to sample the finished cookies! I may have had cookies for breakfast on Tuesday morning, just to make sure they tasted ok.

A single batch, we found, was wayyyyy too many cookies for the two of us. So I’ve given a few to friends as taste testers of my first batch.

Kas and her partner got half a dozen. I was upfront with her about the changes I’d made. Their verdict? Not bad for the first batch! And they didn’t miss the cardamom too much, They only complaint was that I’d left them in the oven a touch too long and they were a bit crispier than they should be. I was already aware of this.

Another half dozen went to my childhood best friend and her sister. Our visit was unplanned, but I was glad to have a few cookies to share with them. They had also tasted a few that I had made with Kas over the holiday and had a point of comparison. They too thought the cookies were pretty good!

Finally, I gave another half dozen to my friend and her four-year old son when I went to babysit last night. She, as far as I know, hasn’t tried a cookie yet, but they also seem to be kid-approved! I allowed him to have one cookie during my visit last night and he savored it over about half an hour.

Hooray for a successful batch of cookies!

Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 ÂĽ cups cane sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • ÂĽ cup fancy molasses – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 large egg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons lactose-free milk – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (and a bit extra for rolling the cookies) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger – approximate cost $0.10
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.05
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.03

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together the butter, sugar, and molasses until well mixed and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and lactose-free milk and stir until well mixed.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, sea salt and pepper in a separate large mixing bowl.
  5. Slowly add the flour and spice mixture (1/2 cup at a time) into the butter and molasses mixture, mixing constantly until the two are well-combined.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (the dough should be about 1cm thick).
  7. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies.
  8. Gently peel away the unused dough.
  9. Work the unused dough into a ball.
  10. Place cookies on a cookie sheet.
  11. Bake cookies for 7 1/2 minutes (until golden brown but still soft).
  12. Remove cookies to a wire rack.
  13. Repeat steps 6-12 until you use up all of the dough.
  14. Cool cookies completely before packaging or enjoy warm.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie-cutter shapes (approximate cost: $0.15 per cookie).



Improv Challenge: Bananas and Nutmeg (Fried Bananas with Brown Sugar Sauce)

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are bananas and nutmeg. Yum! So far, I’ve shared:

Today, I’m sharing a recipe that my dad used to make for me when I was younger. I’ve been trying for years to replicate his recipe but, for some reason, even though I started out using the same ingredients it’s just never the same… so I changed things up a bit and made it my own (Dad leaves out the nutmeg and the vanilla).

Fried Bananas with Brown Sugar Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1/4 cup butter – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.20

Method

  1. Slice the banana in half lengthwise and then horizontally (you should have four long and thin pieces).
  2. Melt half of the butter (1/8 cup) in a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the banana slices to the frying pan.
  4. Cook until the banana begins to turn golden brown.
  5. Flip and cook until the banana begins to turn golden brown.
  6. Remove to a plate.
  7. Add the remaining butter, and brown sugar.
  8. Cook until sugar is melted.
  9. Remove from heat and add vanilla to sauce.
  10. Stir well.
  11. Pour sauce over fried banana pieces.
  12. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.
  13. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $0.85 per serving).



Cookbook Review Kitchenability 101: The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy and Delicious Food, by Nisa Burns

Today, I’m sharing with you my first ever cookbook review! for my first review, I chose a cookbook that reflects my goals for this blog. The cookbook shares easy to make, affordable, and nutritious foods and is directed towards university/college-level students who are living on their own for the first time.

Kitchenability 101:

The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy and Delicious Food

By Nisa Burns

ISBN: 0985643005

List price: $17.95

Synopsis

Kitchenability 101 is a book after my own heart. Author Nisa Burns, recently a student herself, writes about healthy, affordable, and easy to make recipes for students (both who are experienced or new to cooking)

Overview

The book is divided into seven chapters that help the reader choose the right food for the right occasion:

  • Orientation
  • Wake-Up Call
  • Grab and Go
  • Choose Your Major
  • Amazing Grazing
  • Cram Sessions and Study Groups
  • Party!

The orientation section is especially helpful for beginner cooks. It lists the equipment you will need (indicating whether it is appropriate for a kitchen or a dorm room), cooking techniques you will use for the recipes in this book, and other very helpful information. It reminded me that I really need to buy a whisk!

The recipe sections are very well thought out to accommodate the student lifestyle. The Wake-Up Call section is filled with quick, easy, and healthy breakfasts, the Grab and Go section features easy to make food that you can take to class, meetings, etc. The Choose Your Major and Amazing Grazing sections feature main course meals (likely intended for dinner, but great whenever you have time to make them). The Cram Sessions and Study Groups and Party! sections feature foods that you would make in large batches and is easy to share.

Because this book has a strong focus on sharing food with others and is directed towards new cooks, I would have liked to see a bit more about common food-related allergies or intolerances. This sort of information could help the reader identify which foods are or are not acceptable for a particular occasion.

Writing style

I love the way that Nisa introduces each recipe. That is, each one is introduced with a short personal narrative about the context in which she prepared and served the recipe. For example, the Pumpkin Muffins, which I’ve tested and will share with you later in this post, she tells the reader about a Halloween party she attended with her boyfriend, the costumes they wore, and the food they contributed. This story is very relatable for the reader because of the common scenario and her casual writing style. Her casual approach to writing helps make the recipes seem feasible for the readers. In fact, I chose to bake the pumpkin muffins first because I find baking challenging, and second because Nisa made them sound so easy to prepare, I figured that even I could make these and it would turn out alright.

Recipes

I love the way that Nisa has thoughtfully organized each recipe. Most recipes have a three-page layout. The first page (on the left side of the book) is a list of ingredients, the second page is a vibrant and gorgeous photo of the final product, and the third page is the directions. Why do I like this setup? Because it makes it easy to have the book in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking. With the essential information on the left side of the book, you can place an object on the right side of the book to hold it open while you work, making easy to refer back to the ingredients and instructions pages.

In addition, the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The cooking techniques are common and written in plain language. And the ingredients are all common, easy to find items that a student could likely afford to purchase at their local grocery store.

Testing a Recipe

Now for the fun part of the review… I tested the Pumpkin Muffin recipe!

As I’ve mentioned many times before, baking is not my specialty. I tend to stick to cooking meals and will avoid making a dessert or breakfast that involves ingredients such as flour, baking powder, sugar, etc, in combination.

So why, then, did I choose to make these muffins? Because it was a challenge, because I consider myself a beginner in this category, and because I wanted to see whether Nisa’s recipe and directions could help me become a better baker.

I stuck to the exact recipe. I had most of the ingredients readily available in my pantry or fridge. I did have to add cream cheese to my grocery list for the week because it’s something I normally don’t keep on hand.

I made the muffins first thing in the morning before a day full of classes and left them on the counter to cool all day. The cat knows not to get on the counters, so I wasn’t worried that she would be interested and sneak a taste. Instead, when I got home, Bryan greeted me at the door telling me how wonderful the pumpkin muffins were. Oops! I had forgotten to mention to him that they were not ready for sampling. No worries though, it was just one.

How could I be upset? I was already ecstatic that they had turned out! They were perfectly cooked through, moist, and no lumps of flour. Hooray!

I made the frosting that evening and frosted the muffins (leaving a few unfrosted just in case) and then put the muffins to the test!

One for myself, one for Bryan, and I packed one up to share with a classmate.

I thought the frosting was too sweet (and I was a bit worried about the possible negative effects of the dairy with my lactose sensitivity). However, the unfrosted muffins were amazing and I enjoyed them very much. Bryan enjoyed the muffins either way. He liked them without the frosting as a breakfast food and with the frosting for a snack or dessert. My classmate tried the frosted muffin and loved it! She even asked if I could share the recipe with her. I assured her it would be making an appearance on the blog.

My overall impression of the recipe?

  • Easy to make
  • Ingredients I would (mostly) have on hand and are readily available at the store
  • Delicious (and moist) snack for breakfast or dessert
  • Recipe is clear and easy to follow
  • Smells delicious when baking and it was nice to come home to the smell permeating my apartment
  • Looked very pretty without too much effort (remember, I’m not great at baking, so I don’t have much experience decorating baked goods)

And, at long last, here is the recipe!

Pumpkin Muffins

Recipe is posted with permission from PR by the Book – Austin

What You Need

To make the muffins

  • 3 1/3 cups flour – approximate cost $1.75
  • 2 tsp baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil – approximate cost $1.00
  • 4 eggs – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 tsp cinnamon – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tsp nutmeg – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger or a dash or dried – approximate cost $0.10

To make the frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese – approximate cost $2.50
  • Splash of milk – approximate cost $0.05
  • 3 or 4 cups powdered sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tsp vanilla – approximate cost $0.50

What You Do

As with any cake batter, you mix the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients. Then you mix the dry and wet ingredients together by slowly adding the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Don’t try to mix them all together at one or your batter will be lumpy with bubbles of unmixed ingredients. Believe me, a bit of baking soda or salt is gross!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Slowly add the sugar to the wet mixture, along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
  4. Once all is mixed well, add the dry ingredients by half-cupfuls to the wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer on low to make sure the batter is completely mixed.
  5. Place paper cupcake holders in a muffin tin, then pour the batter into the muffin holders. Each should be about two-thirds full.
  6. Bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, until they have risen. Use a knife to check the center; if it pulls out clean, they are done.
  7. While the muffins are in the oven, make the frosting. Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and add a splash of milk for a smoother consistency. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer.
  8. Once the cream cheese mixture is smooth, slowly add the powdered sugar and mix.
  9. Add the vanilla, and mix again until smooth.
  10. When the frosting is at a spreadable consistency, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
  11. Once the muffins are done, let them cool for approximately 40 minutes. Do not frost the muffins right away, or the heat will melt the frosting.
  12. Frost each muffin.

Makes one dozen muffins (approximate cost: $0.95 per serving).

Maybe I have a smaller thank average muffin tin, because this made 18 muffins (approximate cost: $0.63 per serving)!

Summary

But the big questions are: Would I recommend this cookbook? Would I make these muffins again?

Yes, I would, to both. This book is a great introduction to home cooking for students. It tells you what you need to start out depending on your living situation, features easy to make recipes, and readily available ingredients. Perhaps not as intentional, the recipes are affordable for students. While the recipes are mostly directed towards students who are learning to cook, there is much to offer for those who already know how to cook but are looking for recipes that are healthy, affordable, or just new to the reader. In addition, the book is affordable for its intended audience. It’s something a student could afford on their own or ask a family member to purchase for them at the next upcoming occasion.

As Nisa suggests, her Pumpkin Muffins are a great party food. I would make a double batch of the muffins to share with others (half frosted, half not to suit a variety of tastes). I would make them just for Bryan and I to pack with our lunches or as a quick breakfast before catching the bus to school.

Overall Rating

4.5/5

Want more?

Check out Nisa’s website, Facebook Page, Twitter Profile and YouTube Channel

Improv Challenge: Zucchini and Brown Sugar

I’m excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! Each month I strive to come up with something a bit more exciting or creative than the last. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are zucchini and brown sugar.

My recipe this month isn’t exactly creative. Instead, I opted for something much more sentimental… my Nana’s Zucchini Bread recipe (with a slight modification). The original recipe calls for white sugar, I’ve substituted brown sugar for the purpose of the challenge, and it worked out great!

Nana’s not sure where the recipe comes from anymore. She thinks she might have got it from one of her sisters, who possibly got it from my Great Grandmother. Either way, it’s been in the family for a while and I enjoyed many many pieces of zucchini bread as a child, especially in the fall when Nana picked the zucchini fresh from the garden.

Growing up, I thought zucchini bread was one of the healthiest treats. Why? Because it’s got vegetable pieces in it. Therefore, it must be healthy. Right? I was a bit surprised going through the recipe when I saw how much sugar it calls for. Not exactly healthy. It won’t kill you to enjoy the bread once in a while either though. Just something I will likely choose to enjoy in moderation instead of abundance, like I did as a child.

I’ll likely experiment with making a healthier version of the recipe at some point. Substituting the white flour for whole wheat, or maybe a gluten-free flour. Try cutting out some of the sugar. But that’s for another day when I’m not scrambling to make something delicious for the Improv Challenge.

Excuse me while I got enjoy some fresh from the oven zucchini bread for breakfast. I just baked it this morning!

Nana’s Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs – approximate cost $0.60
  • 2 cups white sugar (I used brown sugar for the purpose of the Improv Challenge) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini, skin included – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 cup oil (I used canola oil) – approximate cost $0.40
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla – approximate cost $0.30
  • 3 cups flour – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 cup walnuts – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and grated zucchini in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Mix until well combined.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  7. Pour the bread mixture into two (greased) loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 1 hour (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean).
  9. Allow to cool before serving.

Makes 2 loaves, about 16 slices (approximate cost: $3.30 per loaf or $0.41 per slice).


Dairy Free Rice Pudding

First of all, a great big thank you to Cindy from Skip to My Lou who featured my  Spaghetti with Shrimp and Roasted Vegetables recipe!

I’m trying to get the school year off to a good start. I’ve updated my calendar with all of the important deadlines. And now I’m working on good eating and exercise habits. I hope to attend at least three yoga classes each week and, until it snows, I will continue to bike to as many places as possible. As for good eating habits, I’m trying to have a hearty breakfast to start each day and making large meals for dinner that can be enjoyed as leftovers for lunch the next day.

I’m not a huge fan of cereals. Most of them are too sweet for my liking and I find the texture of almond milk a bit strange when mixed with cereal. Instead, I rely on breakfast items that I can make a big batch of and reheat the leftovers  next day. Such as:

We ate quite a few of the breakfast quesadillas this week. I even let Bryan in the kitchen to make them for breakfast one day. However, I also tried out rice pudding made with almond milk (I usually make this with cow’s milk, but was out and wanted to try a diary free option). While my family frequently serves rice pudding as a dessert, I enjoy it very much as a breakfast food!

Dairy Free Rice Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Jasmine rice – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 cups almond milk – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup raisins – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 egg – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 cup water
  • Mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Method

  1. Add 1 cup almond milk and 1 cup water to a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add Jasmine rice.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Cook until rice is tender (about 15-20 minutes).
  5. Whisk remaining 1 cup of almond milk and egg in a bowl.
  6. Add can sugar, almond milk mixture, cinnamon, and raisins to the rice.
  7. Stir well.
  8. Allow to cool and serve either warm or cold!

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.62 per serving).

Monday Link Parties

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mop it up mondays


Breakfast Quesadillas with Peanut Butter and Bananas

I bought a few too many tortillas when preparing our Mexican-themed dinner the other week. Usually Bryan eats tortillas for a snack, so I bought two packs to make sure there would still be tortillas to make the spicy chicken enchiladas. Turns out one package would have been more than enough. Now, I’m looking for creative ways to use up the extra tortillas.

In addition, we also had some bananas that were very ripe and needed to be used up.

The solution? Peanut Butter and Banana breakfast quesadillas!

What’s your favourite way to use up leftover tortillas and/or bananas?

Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • 2 tortillas – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 very ripe bananas, sliced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 4 tablespoons of unsweetened peanut butter – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 tablespoon of butter, divided – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Lay the two tortillas on a clean, flat surface.
  2. Spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter over each tortilla, making sure to go right to the edge (more if you want).
  3. Arrange the banana slices on half of the tortilla (not quite to the edges).
  4. Fold in half and use the peanut butter to seal the edges.
  5. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a frying pan.
  6. Fry the quesadilla until it is golden brown in colour.
  7. Flip and fry the other side.
  8. Move the quesadilla to a plate.
  9. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  10. Serve and enjoy.

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $1.45 per serving).

Raw Apple Pie in Cupcake Tins

I’ve been making a lot of raw apple desserts lately, so when Chef Renee said we were going to make a raw apple pie I was excited to learn a few things about how I could improve the desserts I was already preparing. And the answer was obvious… play with the ingredients! I was using walnuts exclusively for many of the desserts, including the raw apple crisp and the raw apple cobbler. I hadn’t thought of including dried coconut flakes, pecans, or any other type of nuts.

Raw apple pie

Renee’s apple pie was fantastic! Although when I made this again myself I left the dates out of the filling to tone down the sweetness of the dessert. Just a personal preference.

B and I both enjoyed this pie. For his, I heated the apple mixture before serving and prepared my own at room temperature. Because you don’t put the crust and the filling together until you are just about to serve the pie,  it is easy to cater to various preferences.

Raw Apple Pie in Cupcake Tins

Recipe by RAW food chef Renee Shaidle

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts – approximate cost $2.25
  • 1 cup pecans – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/2 cup dried coconut (optional) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 cup raisins – approximate cost $1.00
  • 10 medjool or honey dates – approximate cost $2.75

Crust

Filling

  • 6 apples – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 lemon, juiced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup raisins – approximate cost $0.50
  • 3 medjool dates, pitted  – approximate cost $0.80
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.05
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup – approximate cost $0.75

Filling

Method

  1. Soak the raisins and dates in warm water for at least 20 minutes, this will make them more sticky. This step is optional. You will likely need to use more raisins and dates if you do not have time to soak them first.
  2. Prepare the crust
    1. Blend the walnuts, pecans, dried coconut, cinnamon and sea salt in a food processor until coarsely ground.
    2. Add raisins and dates until mixture begins to stick together.
    3. Reserve half of the crumble (to sprinkle on top of pie).
    4. Press the remaining half of the crust mixture into muffin tins lined with plastic wrap (Or a 9” pie pan)

      crust

  3. Prepare the filling
    1. Peel, core, and thinly slice 2 apples.
    2. Coat sliced apples with 2 tablespoons lemon juice (this will keep them from turning brown) and set aside.
    3. Peel, slice, and core 4 apples and blend in the food processor with 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
    4. Add dates, cinnamon, and maple syrup and continue to process until smooth.
    5. Remove mixture from processor and combine with the sliced apples.
  4. Putting it together
    1. Pour the apple mixture into the prepared muffin cups or pie plate.
    2. Top with remaining crumble.

Crust

Note: Raw apple pies will keep in fridge for approximately 5 days. However, you might want to keep the crust and filling separate until you are about ready to serve the dessert.

Makes about 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.08 per serving).

Raw apple pie

Raw Apple Cobbler

I’m not one for sweets. Yet, you’ll notice that lately I’ve been writing more about desserts such as Raw Apple Crumble, and Raw Chocolate Truffles with Cashew Kream. I’m sure you’ve already noticed a theme: these desserts are raw. I usually skip desserts because they taste too sweet for my liking. Raw desserts, on the other hand, I enjoy. They use natural sweeteners such as honey or agave nectar. And I find that there’s more flexibility to tone down the sweetness than with traditional baked desserts where, if you cut down on sugar, you could potentially ruin the dish (e.g. a pastry doesn’t thicken).

This Raw Apple Cobbler is only slightly different from the Raw Apple Crumble. I really like the added apple sauce, which I find distributes the flavours well throughout the dish. Whereas, with the apple crisp, the apple filling and the crust are distinct.

apple cobbler

As I mentioned in my post about Raw seaweed wraps with vegetables and herbs, B isn’t fond of raw foods, so I heated his portion in the microwave to soften the apples a bit. While he still prefers a traditional baked apple cobbler, heating this dish allowed him to enjoy it as well.

Raw Apple Cobbler

Adapted from Loving it Raw

Ingredients

Filling

  • 6 medium Macintosh or Cortland apples (or any other type of apple that you prefer) – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1/2 cup raisins soaked for at least two hours – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 lemon cut into slices – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey) – approximate cost $0.50

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/2 cup almonds – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 3/4 cup (approximately 9-10) medjool dates, soaked and pitted – approximate cost $1.50

apple cobbler

Method

  1. Soak raisins and medjool dates in separate bowls for at least two hours. (I tend to start soaking in the morning and prepare the dish when I get home in the evening.)
  2. Prepare the crust.
    1. Combine walnuts and almonds in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped.
    2. Add coconut oil and medjool dates (ensure they are pitted) and process until the mixture starts to become sticky and is well blended.
    3. Press the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and drizzle with agave nectar (or honey).
    4. Place crust in the fridge to harden while you prepare the filling.
  3. Prepare the filling.
    1. Core all of the apples and set three aside.
    2. Slice 3 apples in the food processor and place in a large mixing bowl.
    3. Squeeze half of the lemon, covering as many of the apples as possible with the juice.
      Note: Add the lemon juice before any other ingredients to prevent the apples from turning brown.
    1. Sprinkle apples with ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon and raisins.
    2. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of agave nectar (or honey).
    3. Toss the apple mixture until it is well coated and set aside.
    4. Add remaining 3 apples, ½ teaspoon of vanilla, and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon to the food processor and process until mixture becomes a sauce.
  1. Put the cobbler together.
    1. Pour the apple slices on top of the crust. Move the slices as needed to create a mostly even layer.
    2. Pour the apple sauce mixture over top of the apple slices.

Serve immediately or put in the fridge and save for later. I find it tastes best when served at room temperature

Makes about 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.15 per serving).

The Dessert: Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

Pumpkin pie is one of my favourites. It rivals my grandmother’s apple pie and nana’s lemon-meringue pie. I think I generally enjoy these pies because they’re not very sweet.Because Thanksgiving is a special occasion, it requires that I prepare a dessert. This is an infrequent task on my part. I usually don’t want sweets and am reluctant to make a pastry. It never seems to turn out quite right. I’m sure I’d get better with practice, or if I followed the directions a bit more closely. Or, I can opt for a recipe, such as the one I found on Oh She Glows, which omits the pastry altogether and uses a pecan-based crust.

I liked this pie and crust recipe because it was flexible. It allowed me to substitute ingredients I had on hand instead of buying something I would use just this once (e.g. honey instead of brown rice syrup). On top of that, it’s very easy to put together because both the crust and the filling are prepared in the food processor.

B and I enjoyed the pie so much that we ended up eating it for breakfast the next day.

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

Adapted from Oh She Glows (Note: The original recipe is vegan. This recipe is not.)

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1 cup oats – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups raw pecans – approximate cost $4.00
  • 2 tablespoon sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 tablespoon ground flax – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 cup honey – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil – approximate cost $0.75

For the filling

  • 1 large can of purĂ©ed pure pumpkin – approximate cost $1.75
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup – approximate cost $0.75
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.75

Method

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the crust.
    1. Place the oats in the food processor and process until they become a powder/flour.
    2. Add the pecans, sugar, flax, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and process until the pecans are chopped into fine pieces.
    3. Add the honey and the coconut oil. Process until the entire mixture is sticky and begins to form a ball.
    4. Divide mixture into two and press firmly into two 10 inch pie baking pans.
    5. Bake crust for about 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the filling.
    1. Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, coconut cream, coconut oil, maple syrup, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in the food processor and process until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Putting it together.
    1. Divide the filling into half and pour the mixture over the prepared crusts.
    2. Bake for 30-45 minutes (the top should start to brown slightly).

The original recipe suggests refrigerating the pie for at least 3 hours. We enjoyed the pie fresh out of the oven topped with whipped cream and it was fantastic. It was also great when served cold the next day.

Makes 2 pies, about 16 slices (approximate cost: $1.16 per slice).

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