Saturday, June 12, 2010

Homemade Granola

The great thing about do-it-yourself homemade granola is that you can think outside the box and customize it with whatever nuts, seeds, and dried fruit sound good to you. The problem I often find with store-bought granola is that it always seems to skimp on one ingredient or another -- the one that happens to be your favorite, of course.There isn't really a specific recipe to making granola - take a stroll through the isles of your local Bulk Barn and pick and choose some ingredients that look good to you. The main ingredient is rolled oats and you will need 4-5 cups for a batch. You can use your granola as a healthy snack throughout the day, with milk for cereal in the morning or with yogurt as a dessert. When you make granola yourself, you can adjust the proportions to your liking. Add more dried fruit and honey for sweetness and texture, nuts for richness, even a little vanilla or apple cider for flavor. Bon Appétit!

Ingredients that I often throw in could include:
- 4-5 cups of large rolled oats (NOT the quick oats!)
- sunflower seeds
- walnuts
- dried apricots, cranberries or mangoes
- 1/2 cup of shredded coconut
- sliced almonds
- wheat germ
- raisins
- figs
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup honey 

1. Line an 8x11 baking dish with parchment paper or greased aluminum foil, set oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix all of your ingredients in a bowl and pour the honey over top, mix again.
3. Bake your ingredients in the oven for 25 minutes to 1/2 an hour - stirring every 10 minutes, until the granola is golden brown. Watch your granola carefully so that it does not burn.  Enjoy!

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake (A.mazing.)

This cheesecake is a Giles haus favourite. It shows up here and there and is often devoured on site. Your "crazy bad for you" siren should be going off right about now just looking at it, but oh boy is it ever good.  “Dulce-de-Leche“ is Spanish for “milk-candy” and is the basis for many classic Latin and South-American desserts. It is a delicious, caramelly sauce that you can actually make by yourself by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk for about 40 minutes. Or, to go on the safe side, you can pick it up at any grocery store (I often find it in the honey, jams and peanut butter section). ¡Buen provecho! 

By the way, if you're keen to try the starbursty top, here's a great link

- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs 
- 3 tbsp. butter, melted
- pinch of sugar

3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese (24 oz. total) – softened to room temperature
- 1 cup superfine granulated sugar 
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour 
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract 
- 3 eggs 
- 1/3 cup whole milk 
- 1/2 cup Dulce de leche sauce (+ more for serving)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). 
2. Mix crust ingredients together, and press into the bottom of a lightly buttered 9-inch springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. 
3. Reset oven temperature to 325°F (160°C). 
4. With an electric mixer beat cream cheese, sugar and flour together until well mixed and smooth. Add vanilla and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth. Add milk and mix until well blended. 
5. Measure 1/2 cup of the cheesecake batter and pour into a small bowl. Add Dulce de Leche sauce and stir until well combined. 
6. Pour plain batter over crust. Top with Dulce de leche batter by placing rounded spoonfuls over the cheesecake batter and gently swirl into plain batter with the tip of knife or spatula. 
7. Bake in preheated 325°F (160°C) oven in a water bath for 45-55 minutes or until center is almost set. The water bath helps prevent the cheesecake from cracking. After the cheesecake looks done, just turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour so that it cools very slowly (again, this helps prevent cracking). Remove from oven and gently run metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cheesecake (cracking...). Let cool 30 minutes outside of oven before covering and placing in the refrigerator. Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight before serving. If desired, serve each slice drizzled with a little bit of dulce de leche sauce, or pass around a bowl of dulce de leche sauce for guest's to help themselves.

Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa

This is a dish from one of my favourite foodie magazines "Everyday Food", by none other than Martha Stewart. For some time I had a subscription to Martha's "Martha Stewart" magazine but got tired of the 12 page articles on gravy boats and Easter Eggs and exquisite (ie. EXPENSIVE) dishes that were just too over the top (that said, what I wouldn't give for a 'linens room' in my own Turkey Hill, which, remarkably is on the market at present for $4,500,000). When I discovered "Everyday Food" though, I was in heaven. It's recipes for normal people and comes highly recommended by Kendra Giles.
This is a yummy, zippy meal that I often just serve up with a side of greens or asparagus. The buttery and cool avocado is such a treat with the spicy cayenne pepper. Enjoy! Bon Apétit!

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
2 tbs. olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely diced
2 tbs. lime juice
1 avocado, pitted and cut into chunks

1. In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne; rub all over chicken.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chicken, and cook until browned on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine onion and lime juice; set aside. Just before serving, fold avocado chunks into onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken topped with salsa.
4. Serve with spring greens mix or with asparagus.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spinach, Asparagus & Salmon with Blackberry Glaze

This is a gorgeous, bright summer meal. Baking the salmon and steaming the asparagus are good ways to make the meal cleaner, but I decided to sauté the asparagus in a tiny bit of butter to give them a nice, rich taste. This was my first experience steering away from my usual way of cooking salmon (frying and then serving with lemon juice... which, I must say, is still very, very delicious!). The bright pink salmon, purple berries and a background of deep green veggies definitely satisfied both the eye and the tummy. This meal looks difficult, but it's really, really not. From Clean Eating magazine. Bon Apétit!

- Salmon fillet, skin and bones removed
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 2 cups asparagus tips
- 2 cups blackberries
- 1-2 peaches
- 2 tsp. raw honey
- 4 tsp. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. dark sesame oil
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 6 cups greens (ex. spinach, arugula, dandelion... be creative!) 
- 4 large scallions, cut on the diagonal

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Given that you're not baking much, I recommend you cook up your fish in a toaster oven if you have one. Mist a baking sheet and divide the salmon in to individual servings. Bake the salmon for about 18-20 minutes (when done the salmon will flake but still stay together). 
2) Cook the asparagus by steaming either in the microwave or with a steamer (or you can sauté in butter which I recommend!)
3) Take about 16 blackberries and put them in a small bowl; set the remaining blackberries aside. Mash the 16 blackberries, the add honey, soy sauce, oil and orange juice. Stir to combine (your berries will still be chunky).
4) Serve! Arrange the greens, asparagus and salmon on your plate and then drizzle with the blackberry glaze. You can garnish your salad with orange zest and the remainder of your blackberries.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Yummy Summer Drink - The classic, Shirley Temple.

I don't make too many fancy drinks, but I generally always have a bottle of grenadine syrup on hand to give a sweet kick to punches. Grenadine is essentially red liquid sugar. High-fructose corn syrup to be precise. It used to be made of pomegranate juice ("grenadines" en français). You can buy a bottle of grenadine syrup at any grocery store. 

Shirley Temples are delicious summer drinks that come highly recommended by Gilesies and have been a long-time favourite by most children at Swiss Chalet. Of course the drink is named after the biggest child star in history and doesn't contain any alcohol. Serve with fresh fruit and enjoy!

Ingredients to mix together:
- 1-2 tsp. of grenadine syrup
- 1/2 glass of orange juice
- 1/2 glass of ginger ale or some other limey/lemony carbonated drink
- fruit to garnish 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Orange Broccoli Stir Fry with Honey & Almonds

Today's post is quite a tummy tickler with LOTS of bold, zesty tastes. I really like how bright the meal is as well with all sorts of different colours. Jeremy tells me that he now really likes this blog because it means that he's eating well :) One little tip with this meal is the beef. We always buy a roast and cut it in to 5-6 different meal-sized portions... that way it goes much further.
Bon appétit!

1 pound beefsteak, cut into thin strips 

- 4 teaspoons soy sauce

- 2 teaspoons minced fresh gingerroot

- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel + remainder of orange cut in to thin slices

- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
- 1 small sweet red pepper, cut into strips
- 3 tbs. picante sauce (or tabasco)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- Sliced almonds, optional
- Hot cooked rice or egg noodles


  • Toss meat with soy sauce, ginger and orange peel; set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a wok or large skillet on high. Stir-fry mixture just until meat is no longer pink; remove. Add broccoli, pepper, picante sauce and sugar to skillet. Cover; reduce heat to simmer. Cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
  • Combine cornstarch and orange juice until smooth; add to skillet along with meat and onions. Cook and stir 1 minute or until sauce is thickened. Sprinkle with almonds and orange slices if desired. Serve with rice or noodles.