Saying goodbye to a faithful old friend

I admit it. Despite an intense love for the great outdoors, I am a fair-weather runner only. If it’s too cold, hot, rainy, humid, or windy, I relegate myself to the oh-so-boring treadmill.

A machine which, I not only have a love-hate relationship with, but one which just happens to be dying on me, and in a potentially dangerous manner at that.

When I run on it, the motor doesn’t run at a consistent speed but often “hiccups” – for lack of a better term. I don’t know how else to describe it except that it slows, almost imperceptibly (maybe I’m imagining things??) then resumes its speed. It happens suddenly enough to throw me ever so slightly off my stride, so the concern is that if it gets any worse I may end up pulling a muscle or spraining something. I thought perhaps lubricating the deck would take care of things, but it didn’t solve the problem.

I can’t complain though; it’s an entry-level model that cost somewhere around $400 or $500 and has been in steady use for over 10 years. But now it’s time to say goodbye.

WesloCadence

Out with the old…

So I ordered a new treadmill yesterday, one with all the bells and whistles, and I can’t wait for its arrival, which is estimated for the 10th!

...in with the new!

…in with the new!

Pineapple Delight

Do you remember last week’s post? Well, it goes hand in hand with today’s. It might even be considered parts 1 and 2, as you absolutely must have a good pastry cream to make pineapple delight, also known as pineapple squares. Because this recipe is a bit labour intensive (but SO worth the time and effort!) I suggest making said pastry cream a day ahead.

This specific recipe is a bit hard to find online, so I would not be surprised if you have never heard of it until now. I believe it’s a regional food, one which was quite popular around here in the 80’s and my family made this often back when I was a kid. Although, hard as it is to admit, I considered this to be a “grown up” dessert and refused to touch it at the time. But now that my taste buds have matured, it’s easily one of my top 3 favourite desserts.

It’s a light (though definitely not in calories!) melt-in-your-mouth kind of dessert that makes for a perfect finish to a heavier meal.IMG_0705INGREDIENTS:
1 1/4 cups graham crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
3 Tbs. sugar, divided
1 full recipe pastry cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 can crushed pineapple, well drained

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 325°F. In a small bowl whisk together graham crumbs and 2 Tbs. of the sugar until well blended. Add melted butter and mix well. Remove approximately 1/4 of the crumb mixture and set aside for topping later. Press mixture into an 8 or 9″ pie pan (alternatively, you can make this in an 8-inch square pan) and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Spoon the pastry cream onto the crust and refrigerate. Using an electric mixer whip the heavy cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. sugar and vanilla extract. Continue to beat on high until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pineapple into the whipped cream* and spoon onto the pastry cream. Sprinkle the top with the reserved crumb topping. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Yields 8 slices (or 9 squares).

*For a layered effect, place the pineapple on top of the pastry cream then top with whipped cream.

What a delicious mess!

What a delicious mess!

NUTRITION INFORMATION:
Per 1/8 of a recipe.
Calories: 455
Fat: 16.2g
Saturated Fat: 8.5g
Cholesterol: 16.5mg
Sodium: 437.3mg
Carbs: 69.9g
Fibre: 3.1g
Sugar: 36g
Protein: 6.8g

Pastry Cream

I cannot believe how cold it has been this past week. The temperature outside is sitting at -32°C with a wind chill of -44°C as I type. That’s way below normal for this time of year, even for the Canadian prairies. I think the cold feels worse since those few warm days that we experienced in January made me believe that the worst of winter was over.

Talk about a case of wishful thinking.

Perhaps, even just for a moment, we can distract ourselves from the freezing temperatures with a taste of this week’s recipe.

Pastry cream.

Mmm, this stuff is absolute heaven in a bowl!

I am posting this for you today in part because you will need it to make next week’s dessert. But mostly because it deserves to be in everyone’s cooking repertoire.

Pastry cream is used as a filling for profiteroles, eclairs, trifles, tarts, parfaits, etc. It is also used in Boston Cream pie, the recipe for which you can find here if you are interested.

While indispensable as a filling, this silky sweet treat is so good that you will be content to savour each and every little spoonful straight from the bowl. Don’t you wish you had a spoon right now?IMG_0158INGREDIENTS:
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup non-GMO corn starch
2 1/4 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 Tbs. butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract

METHOD:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Add milk and egg yolks; whisk until blended. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Continue to boil and whisk 1 minute or until cream thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise. Remove from heat and immediately stir in butter and vanilla. Stir until well blended. Into a medium bowl, strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any bits of cooked egg that may have formed. Place plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate. May be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days. Stir well before using/serving. Yields between 3 1/2 to 4 cups (shame on me, I have never measured!) or about 8 servings.

Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Yesterday my grandma mentioned that it would be nice to have a very simple cookie to snack on. So I figured this recipe, that has been laying around waiting to be baked for close to a year, would fit the bill nicely.

However, the resulting cookie is anything but simple in taste, they are absolutely divine! Seriously, we will need to put these addictive little gems in hiding to keep from bingeing! But, hey, if you are going to do a cookie binge, these are the way to go… loaded with spelt flour, oats and unsweetened coconut, they are a fairly healthy choice :)IMG_0152Adapted slightly from Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

INGREDIENTS:
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups spelt flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups quick oats
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients, except coconut. Stir dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture just until moist, then stir in coconut. Drop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Do not over bake. Yields 6 dozen small-ish cookies.

**I think the addition of chopped nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, or macadamias, would put these cookies over the top**

Taken with my iPhone as an experiment. I believe my deteriorating Canon still takes better photos.

Taken with my iPhone as an experiment. I think my deteriorating Canon still takes better photos.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Calories per serving (2 cookies): 125
Fat: 5.6g
Saturated Fat: 3.5g
Cholesterol: 19.4mg
Sodium: 65.4mg
Carbohydrates: 16.4g
Fibre: 1.8g
Sugar: 7.8g
Protein: 2.2g

Cream of Chicken Soup

If you’re like me and refuse to purchase, what should be, a very simple food item but comes with an insanely long list of ingredients, half of which you’d never find in your home pantry, then you will likely have placed canned soups on your list of no-no’s.

For a long time this created a bit of a dilemma for me as I steered clear of any recipe calling for canned cream of chicken soup. The problem? Most of those recipes are incredibly rich, creamy and flat out delicious! So, a couple of years ago, I decided to find out if there was a scratch made version using whole ingredients.

And I found what I was looking for.

It is very simple to put together and can be made a day ahead of the recipe that you plan to use it for, or you can throw in some homemade croutons and enjoy it on its own. It’s that good!IMG_0696INGREDIENTS:
3 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup low sodium organic chicken broth
Salt & pepper to taste

METHOD:
In a small saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour until smooth. Remove from heat, whisk in milk and broth. Return to heat and bring to a boil whisking constantly until soup thickens. Stir in salt and pepper and serve. Alternately, let cool to room temperature, cover, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. I am not sure of its “shelf life,” but, personally, I would be sure to use it within a week.

You can also switch things up by using a blend of your favorite herbs and spices.

Potato Broccoli Cheese Soup

I have never been a big fan of soup, particularly those broth-based soups – ick, no thanks! But I am beginning to love their cream-based counterparts. And this thick and extremely rich concoction takes top honors.

Yes, this recipe is a calorie bomb in a bowl, running upwards of 300 calories per serving depending on your specific ingredients, but it’s so good that you won’t think twice to make room for this treat from time to time!IMG_0150
Adapted from Loaded Broccoli Cheese and Bacon Soup
INGREDIENTS:
1 litre (4 cups) water
1 tsp. sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
3 cups diced potatoes
4 cups chopped broccoli
2 Tbs. lard
4 slices bacon
3 Tbs. flour
3 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. mustard powder

METHOD:
To a large saucepan, combine the first 6 ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until veggies are crisp-tender. Add broccoli, cover and simmer another 10 minutes. While the veggies cook, heat lard in another large saucepan, add bacon and fry until golden and crisp, then remove to paper towels to drain. Reserve the bacon grease and whisk in the flour to make a roux. Cook, whisking constantly, until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook until the mixture is bubbling and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add cheese a cup at a time; stir until smooth and creamy. Stir the cheese mixture, along with the bacon, in with the vegetable mixture. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Remove bay leaf and serve, preferably alongside a fresh-baked loaf of French bread ;)

Yields 8 servings.
**This soup tastes even better the next day**

Amish-Style Baked Oatmeal

Who wants apple pie for breakfast? Well, this recipe by Jenn Segal (do yourself a favor and check out her amazing blog!) is about as close as you’re going to get!

This oatmeal smells absolutely divine while it’s baking and, warm from the oven it really hits the spot on a cold winter’s morning. Though, I admit, I actually found that it tasted even better once it cooled to around room temperature.

Like so many other recipes, this one is quite versatile, so feel free to use whatever dried fruit and nuts you happen to have in your pantry. Enjoy!

IMG_0698

My apologies for the lousy photo, I still have not had my camera fixed, and it’s getting worse by the day :(

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sultanas (or raisins)
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled to room temp.
2 medium-sized apples (I use spartan) peeled and shredded

METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch baking dish with butter. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, walnuts, sultanas, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. In another bowl, break up the eggs with a whisk; then whisk in the milk, butter and vanilla until well combined. Add the milk mixture and apples to the oat mixture, stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the oats are set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yields 6 to 8 servings

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
Based on 8 servings per recipe
Calories: 335
Fat: 17g
Saturated Fat: 5.4g
Sodium: 165mg
Carbs: 38g
Fibre: 4.8g
Sugars: 18.5g
Protein: 10.2g