Category: Recipes

Maple Sesame Granola

I can’t believe it is already Monday again. This weekend just flew by. I think that working Saturday and Sunday is going to take some getting used to. It makes me feel like I don’t actually get a weekend at all. Josh works Monday to Friday, so in the past the weekend felt like a break for me because he would help out more with Lochlyn. This weekend felt even more busy than my time during the week.

Saturday involved going for a run, going to Costco, and doing some work for another job that I have picked up that I can’t share much about (Josh calls it my mysterious job). This was a busy day, but I had a really good time. I got to spend the day with Lochlyn and she loves going to Costco, so we had a lot of fun.

mom selfie

On Sunday I worked for five hours at my not so secretive retail job. The first part of the day flew by and it was great getting to know the new staff. The last part of my shift however, went by soooo slow. I forgot how long a shift can take when you aren’t busy.

Besides the slowness of my shift, work was pretty good. It actually wasn’t too hard leaving Lochlyn. I think I would have had a really difficult time taking her to childcare, but leaving her with Josh wasn’t a big deal. I am happy that they got to spend the time together. I think spending more time on the weekend together will be really good for them.

Somewhere in the midst of my busy weekend, I found the time to make a yummy recipe that I want to share with you. It is actually super easy to make, so it didn’t take up a lot of my time, and it is so good. What is this recipe you ask? Maple Sesame Granola! It is such an easy and convenient snack to have on hand, and it is healthy too. I like to top my smoothies with this, eat it with yogurt, or just munch on it by the handful.

maple sesame granola 1

This granola has a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup, that combines perfectly with the sesame seeds. I also added coconut because I love coconut in almost everything, and this granola is no exception. I think the size and texture of the dried blueberries works perfect in this recipe, but you could add any dried fruit. Raisins would be really good too! This recipe can easily be gluten-free if you use certified gluten free oats.

maple sesame granola 3

Maple Sesame Granola

  • 3 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large roasting pan, combine oats, almond meal, ground flax seed, coconut, chopped almonds, sesame seeds, and cinnamon until evenly distributed. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine maple syrup and coconut oil. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Once it is boiling, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Slowly pour syrup mixture over the ingredients in the roasting pan. Make sure to stir as you pour, so that the syrup gets evenly distributed. Continue stirring until very well combined
  5. Bake for 1 3/4 hours, or until the granola starts to turn light brown. Stir mixture every half hour until ready. Once granola is ready, remove from the oven and stir in dried blueberries.
  6. Allow the granola to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. Store granola at room temperature for up to two weeks. If you need to, it also freezes very well.

maple sesame granola 4

This recipe does not last long in our house. My husband and I both love it! I also made a batch for Christmas gifts this year and it was a hit.  Let me know if you try it!

 

Do you prefer being busy at work, or do you like it when your days are easy and slow? I much prefer being busy!

What’s your favourite way to eat granola?

Gluten-Free Date Squares

I was planning to do a weekend recap post for you guys today, but the truth is, my weekend was pretty unexciting. I think I can probably summarize it up in about a paragraph, so that is all it is going to get!

I spent the weekend baking, cleaning up the house, and running errands like a crazy person while I had Josh to stay home with Lochlyn. The Christmas busyness is here in full force, and I am not a fan. Yesterday I went to Walmart, Sobey’s, and Shoppers Drug Mart, and when I got home I was so done. Good thing I am officially done my Christmas shopping!

lochlyn playing in crib

Okay, that’s enough talk about my weekend. I told you I could summarize it in a paragraph. Today I have another recipe to share for you all. This one is one of my very favorite Christmas baking recipes. One of our first Christmases together, I asked Josh what I should make for Christmas baking. Of course his first suggestion was gingerbread. His second was something along the lines of “I forget what they’re called, but they have dates in them”. I asked him a ton more questions to try to figure out what he was talking about, and decided he meant date squares.

date squares 1

I don’t think I had ever had a date square before. To be honest, they didn’t sound all that appealing, but Josh wanted them, and being the good newly married wife that I was, I made them for myself him.

date squares 6

Turns out I absolutely love date squares. These ones are extra soft and chewy, with a thick layer of sweet, date filling. The buttery, oatmeal crumble on top takes these up an extra notch to full-on amazingness.

date squares 2

This year I decided to make them gluten-free. As you probably already guessed, I am not gluten-free at all. A lot of my family members stick to eat a gluten-free diet though. Both my parents, my grandma, my aunt, and a couple of my cousins, all prefer to eat gluten-free. I decided to cater to their preferences with these date squares, and to be honest, I can’t even tell the difference between these and my gluten-y version.

I always make these squares at Christmas, but they would be delicious any time of the year. Here is my super easy recipe:

date squares 3

 

Gluten-Free Date Squares

  • 3 cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup cold salted butter, cut into 1/2 inch sized pieces
  1. Place dates and water in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally until the water has been absorbed (apx. 8-10 mins)
  2. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla
  3. Leave dates to cool to room temperature, then puree until smooth in blender
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Line a 9″x13″ pan with parchment paper or tinfoil, and then butter or spray the liner lightly.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, mix together oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon until combined
  7. Add butter and cut it into the mixture using a pastry blender. Continue to cut in until the mixture appears crumbly. The majority of the crumbs should be between the size of a raisin and a pea.
  8. Press 1/2 – 2/3 (maybe like 3/5’s!) of the mixture into the base of your pan.
  9. Spread date filling onto crust
  10. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Crumbs may not fully cover date filling. They will spread out once they are cooked
  11. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Edges and top should be just slightly browning.
  12. Allow to cool on a wire rack
  13. Once completely cool, cover with saran wrap and place in the fridge to set for at least one hour. I like to leave mine overnight.
  14. Cut into squares

Recipes make 24 good-sized squares. These keep well in the freezer.

date squares 4

date squares 5

Let me know if you try these!

 

Have you ever tried date squares? What did you think?

Do you prefer to eat gluten-free? If so, how come?

 

 

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

My family didn’t have gingerbread cookies at Christmas time when I was a kid. I am not really sure why that was. My mom made a lot of Christmas baking, but I guess gingerbread just didn’t make the list. Maybe this is why I have never been a huge fan of gingerbread during the holidays. I love gingersnap cookies, but I wouldn’t choose a gingerbread Christmas cookie over all the other options.

soft gingerbread close up

At least, this was how I felt until I tried Josh’s Aunt Kathy’s gingerbread cookies. She lives a couple provinces away, but always sends us up a big batch every year at Christmas. Josh’s Aunt is a fantastic baker, and these cookies are never a disappointment. They have the perfect blend of ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Aunt Kathy rolls out the cookies extra thin, and cooks them long enough to give them lots of crunch.

The only thing I would change about Aunt Kathy’s gingerbread? I like chewy cookies. I realize that gingerbread is traditionally crunchy, but I don’t care. I prefer it soft, and chewy, and slightly crispy around the edges. I still enjoy Aunt Kathy’s cookies a ton, but when Josh asked me to make her recipe a few years ago, I knew I would be switching it up a bit.

soft broken gingerbread

Here is my version of Aunt Kathy’s gingerbread cookies. They are soft and chewy, with a bit of crispiness around the edges. The perfect blend of spices is still the same, but they are slightly thicker and  even a little bit cake-y. I would recommend them if you are a soft cookie kinda person like myself. Josh also prefers his cookies chewy, so my recipe is a pretty big hit!

Cut-out cookies are a lot of work, and a lot of mess. I only make these once a year, and they disappear fast! I need to hide some in the freezer so there are still some left at Christmas!

broken gingerbread close up

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 cups flour
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cream butter, brown sugar, and egg in a mixmaster or handheld mixer until smooth
  3. Beat in molasses
  4. Beat in soda and spices until thoroughly combined
  5. Add flour, mixing in a cup at a time. You can start mixing it in with a mixmaster, but you may have to mix it by hand. This dough gets pretty thick
  6. Store cookie dough in the fridge for a minimum of three hours to make it easier to handle. I like to store mine overnight
  7. Roll dough into a ball using lots of flour on your hands so the dough doesn’t stick
  8. On a floured surface and with a floured rolling pin, roll dough out until it is approximately 1/4 inch thick
  9. Using a floured medium-large size cookie cutter, make your cookie shapes one at a time from the dough and transfer them onto a non-greased cookie sheet using a spatula. Remove the cookie cutter from the dough once it is on the cookie sheet to retain the cookie’s shape better. Make sure that the cookies are spaced out at least an inch and a half apart. They spread out a bit.
  10. Once your first cookie sheet is loaded up, place it on the middle rack in your oven and back for 4-6 minutes. I bake my fairly large size cookies for 5 minutes.  You don’t want to over-cook these, so watch really closely. The very edges of the cookie should be just starting to slightly brown. They will continue to cook a little after you take them out.
  11. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes, and then transfer them carefully to a wire rack to cool completely
  12. Once you have the first cookie sheet in the oven, continue with step nine for the second cookie sheet. Make sure that you still keep an eye on the cookies that are baking. It goes a lot faster cooking one sheet at a time so you can load up the second while the first one is baking

This recipe makes about 24 medium-large sized gingerbread men. I usually double it because Josh is a gingerbread cookie monster and I like to have some to give away.

stacked gingerbread

Do you prefer gingerbread cookies to be soft and chewy, or thin and crunchy?

What is your favorite Christmas cookie? My favorite Christmas baking would be butter tarts, nanaimo bars, or date squares (I can’t decide!). I don’t think I have a favorite Christmas cookie though.

 

 

 

My Favorite Recipes from Around the Web

I love cooking, I really do. I haven’t shared a lot of my own recipes on the blog though because, to be honest, I never measure anything out. When I cook, everything just gets thrown together, then I taste test, then I add more of certain things and that is that.

My taco seasoning recipe is a perfect example of how I cook. My recipe is as follows:

  • A lot of chilli powder
  • A moderate amount of garlic and onion powder
  • A little bit of cumin and paprika
  • Cayenne pepper if I want some spice
  • A few shakes of salt and pepper

When Josh tries to recreate this recipe, it never tastes the same – I wonder why?

I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite recipes from around the web since I haven’t shared many of my own. These are recipes that I have made multiple times, or will make multiple times, and definitely recommend you try for yourself! I also tend to make a recipe once or twice and then forget about it. Now I will be able to keep track of the best of the best!

 

Breakfast

  • Baked Oatmeal
    • I love oatmeal, and baked is a delicious treat. Also perfect for serving for company.
  • Perfect (Microwave) Banana Oatmeal
    • This is a simple recipe, that I love and eat all the time. One key is to make sure your bananas are very ripe, otherwise I find they don’t blend as well. I usually top this with cinnamon and peanut butter.
  • Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding
    • I am a big vanilla fan. This pudding recipe is easy, creamy and wonderfully vanilla.

vanilla chia seed pudding

Source

 

Lunch

  • Asian Crunch Salad
    • I add a chopped up chicken breast, and make homemade asian dressing instead of using bottled. Delicious.
  • “Cheesy” Vegan Mushroom Quinoa
    • This would also be delicious for dinner, but Josh doesn’t like beans, so I save it for lunch when I eat alone. The nutritional yeast gives it a rich cheesy taste, and I love mushrooms.

cheesy mushroom quinoa

 

Source

 

Dinner

  • Almond Crusted Tilapia
    • We eat tilapia fairly often. I really like it, but I find that I don’t care for it very much plain. This is a great way to jazz it up and give it some flavour.
  • Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken – Lightened Up
    • I made this last week and Josh has been requesting it already. This is my favourite thai peanut sauce recipe for stir fry.
  • Braised Chicken with Mushrooms
    • The sauce on these mushrooms you guys – so melt-in-your-mouth delicious! This isn’t an easy one to make, and it is really time-consuming, so it doesn’t happen often, but when it does … ! I love serving this with baked polenta to soak up the extra garlicky deliciousness that is the sauce.
  • Cauli-Power Fettuccine “Alfredo” (Vegan)
    • This is a cauliflower-based sauce with nutritional yeast added to give it a cheesy flavour. Josh even likes this so that is saying something!
  • Lighter Baked Macaroni and Cheese
    • I have only made this once, but it was really delicious. Of course I didn’t use any of the low fat ingredients that were recommended! I am saving this recipe because I think it will be a great alternative to Kraft Dinner when Lochlyn gets older.
  • Shrimp, Cucumber, and Feta Orzo Salad
    • Josh loves this salad. It is a great option for a summer entree. I have never tried it with orzo. We use quinoa because that is what we have on hand.
  • Speedy Veggie ‘N Brown Rice Noodle Bowl with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
    • This has so many colorful veggies and tastes amazing. This is the stuff my cravings are made out of!

 

Snacks

  • 5-Minute No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars
    • These are so easy, chewy and delicious. My only complaint is that they are pretty sweet. I make them with honey instead of rice syrup because that is what we usually have on hand
  • Almond Butter Banana Breakfast Bars
    • Josh loves these, for obvious reasons because they are delicious. They are a lot more cake-y than a granola bar. Of course I love the addition of almond butter – Yum!
  • Low Fat Chewy Granola Bars with Pecans Raisins and Chocolate
    • I am all about chewy granola bars. I can take or leave the crunchy ones, but chewy are my favorite. I made these without the chocolate chips and they were definitely missing something. If you leave out the chocolate, add more raisins to compensate.

raisin pecan granola bars

 

Source

 

Desserts and Sweet Treats

  • Oatmeal Cookies
    • Josh’s most favorite cookies. I add the cinnamon, but leave out the cloves. What makes them extra delicious is that I also add an entire package of milk chocolate chips to the mix. Yum.

oatmeal cookiesSource

What are some of your most favorite recipes?

When you cook do you measure everything out, or throw in ingredients without measuring and hope for the best?

Maple Pumpkin Pie Bars

Before this year, I never really was a big fan of pumpkin. I didn’t like pumpkin spice lattes, I could take or leave pumpkin pie. All the pumpkin craziness that went on around fall just made no sense to me. This year has been a lot different.

It started with putting pumpkin in my oatmeal, and progressed to ordering fall-flavored lattes and baked goods at coffee shops. Josh’s Aunt’s pumpkin pie over Thanksgiving was amazing! Last weekend, it was these pumpkin bars.

two maple pumpkin pie bars

I have to admit, upon first tasting these bars I wasn’t a huge fan. I was expecting light and cake-y, which these bars aren’t at all.  I put them in the fridge overnight and tasted another one the next day. Yum! It was delicious. These bars are dense and moist. The texture almost reminds me of pumpkin pie, or cheesecake. They are so much better cold! I made a big batch on the weekend and it is already almost gone! They are fairly healthy, but they don’t taste like it! Hope you enjoy!

maple pumpkin pie bars with gourds

Maple Pumpkin Pie Bars

Makes  24 bars

Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed until liquid)
  • 1 can pure pumpkin (apx. 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Dry Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp. spelt flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 oz. cream cheese (I used full fat)
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 2-3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Directions

Bars

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray/butter a 9×11 baking pan
  • Add wet ingredients to a large bowl and beat on medium speed using a mix master or hand held mixer until thoroughly combined
  • In a separate, medium-sized bowl, stir dry ingredients together until combined
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined
  • Pour batter into greased baking pan and spread evenly
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean

Icing

  • Combine all ingredients in small bowl
  • Beat on medium-high setting in mix master or with a hand held mixer until icing starts to get lighter and fluffy. This icing doesn’t get as “fluffily” as most icing because of the greek yogurt.
  • Spread evenly onto bars once bars are cooled

*Store these bars in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, and wait to try them until they are cold – they taste so much better that way!

maple pumpkin pie bars

If you try making them let me know what you think!

How do you feel about pumpkin? Do you love it, or could you take it or leave it?

What is your favorite type of fall baking?