Saturday, 31 December 2011

Mommy's Easy Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is a traditional desert made for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It tastes good and it makes the whole house smell warm and spicy.  My mom makes the most amazing pumpkin pie ever and surprisingly, it's super easy to make!  You don't need a million bowls and spoons and the cleanup is fast - all you need is a good blender. 

I always make my pastry a head of time and refridgerate it - for this recipe you will need two 9 inch pie pastries.  No top crusts necessary :)

1 and 1/2 cups of mashed pure pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3 eggs
1 and 1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all these ingredients in a blender until you have a well mixed liquid batter.

Fill your pie shells at the oven - right on the rack if possible!  Pour carefully straight from the blender for a neat looking pie.  Try not to spill or splatter on the crust.

Bake your pies for 40-50 minutes until they begin to brown just a little in the centre. 

Allow your pies to cool at least an hour before cutting slices.  The longer you let the pie to settle, the better the slices will hold their shape.  Serve your pie with whipped cream topping!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Cauliflower Fritters or Frittelli Di Cavolfiore

So, I've been meaning to blog since August and obviously haven't made the time to do so.  In the meantime I have been taking foodie pictures and writing down all my recipes so that I can share them on my blog.

Here is a snack or appetiser that my Nonna makes all the time.  Some people call them frittelli, but for some reason, my family calls them pitwelli.  I don't know where this came from, but we use the word pitwelli to refer to any sort of fritter.  We make pitwelli out of spinach, broccoli, and most often - cauliflower!  Just substitute the cauliflower to make your own variety.

Boil 1/2 a cauliflower, strain and let cool.  Mash it and add a pinch of salt.

Add 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of milk and grate approximately 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into the bowl.  Stir. 

Add about 1 and 1/2 cups of flour or enough that it has an oatmeal-like consistency.  At this point you can add some optional ingredients such as a bit of fresh chopped parsley or chives.

Pour a little vegetable oil into a pan and heat it on medium heat.  Add the mixture by tablespoon full into the pan and fry them a couple minutes on both sides until golden brown.

Let your pitwelli cool off a bit and eat them as soon as possible!  Pitwelli should be eaten warm as a pre-meal snack, since they are too good to resist and they never make it to the table anyways.  Yum...!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Custard Pear Pie

I was searching for a recipe that uses pears since my dad bought too many for us to eat.  I found this really interesting Pear Pie recipe on  I've never had pear pie before, but I love custard tarts, so I decided to give it a shot:

Peel, core and slice 3 pears.  Bosch pears are the best for baking because they are sweet and soft, but keep their shape in the oven.

Arrange your pear slices into an unbaked pie shell.  Some people arrange the slices in circles radiating from the centre, but I just put mine in no particular design :)

In a bowl, combine 3 eggs, 1/3 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon almond extract and 1/4 cup melted butter. 

Pour your custard evenly over the arrangement of pears in the pastry shell. 

I like to crimp the pie edges and use the extra pastry to create a flower pattern on top.  Lastly, sprinkle with some brown sugar for a sweet topping!  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the custard is firm and the edges are golden brown.

I brought this pie to my grandmother and she really liked it.  If you like custard tarts and pears, this is the pie for you.  The almond extract really adds some dimension to the pear flavour! 

Next time I will top my pie with a few almonds before baking - Mmmmm!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Making Zucchini Bread

Zucchini is one of the easiest fruits to grow in Southern Ontario.  If you have a vegetable garden, you know that one zucchini plant can produce an overwhelming amount of zucchinis.  However, my family can never have too many zucchinis.  We will fry, grill, boil and bake zucchini and incorporate them into any meal!  My Nonna controls her plants by picking the zucchini flowers, which are considered a delicacy in Italy.  She makes them into dumplings or coat them in a light batter and fry them - yum! 

If you have not picked your zucchini flowers this summer and find yourself with an abundance of zucchini, you can always make them into bread.  Zucchini bread is very light, sweet and is similar to banana bread.  Follow my recipe for two perfect loaves:

Using a cheese grater, grate 2 cups of zucchini.

In a mixing bowl, beat 3 eggs, 1 cup of vegetable oil, 2 cups of sugar, and 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract.  Add the grated zucchini and mix.

In a separate bowl, mix 3 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon. 

Slowly and gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and stop mixing once they are combined.  Do not mix more than necessary!  Pour the batter into 2 lightly greased loaf pans and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 1 hour until the loaves are brown on the outside and they are split down the middle.

I always freeze some loaves for when you don't have enough time to bake.  Just allow the bread to cool completely and wrap it in either foil or plastic wrap.  Once frozen, it only takes an hour to defrost, serve with special coffee and your guests will be impressed.  It tastes like you just made it!!! 

Enjoy baking.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie is my least favourite type of pie.  I will almost always turn down desert when offered this type of pie unless, of course, I need a sugar fix!  There's just something about this pie that doesn't excite me.  I like lemon, I like whipped topping and I like shortbread pie crust... but the combination of the 3 just doesn't cut it. 

Anyways, I was asked to make lemon meringue pies for a fish fry potluck and I had a double box of Dr. Oetker Shirriff Lemon Pie Filling Mix in the pantry; so I gave it a try:

Step 1:  Separate 4 eggs - yolks in a saucepan and whites in a bowl or cup for now.

Step 2:  Mix the 4 yolks with 2/3 cup of water in the saucepan.  Add 2 pouches of lemon filling mix and stir.  Add 4 cups of boiling water, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat once it thickens.  Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter.  

Step 3:  Allow the lemon mixture to cool and pour evenly into 2 pre-baked pie shells.

Step 4:  To make the meringue, beat the 4 egg whites with and electric mixer until soft and fluffy.  Add 1/2 cup of sugar and continue beating with mixer until stiff peaks form.

Step 5:  Cover the lemon filling with meringue topping and bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes.  The meringue will be golden brown when it's ready.  

I didn't even try this pie, so I couldn't tell how it tasted.  Others who tried the pie said it was good, but I didn't get any raving compliments.  This pie lacks bite.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Butter Tarts - A Little Taste O' Canada

Did you know that the butter tart is a Canadian desert?  Butter tarts were common in pioneer cooking and can be traced back to the 1600's.  Traditionally, the tarts consisted of sugar, butter and pastry but today there are several varieties of butter tarts.  Some Canadians use pecans, walnuts or coconut to spice up their tarts, but raisins are most common.  Here is my recipe for Canadian Butter Tarts; the recipe makes exactly 12 tarts. 

It's always the best to use your own homemade pie pastry, but sometimes it's easier to buy a pre-made pastry.  I made the pastry ahead of time so it would be quick to make the tarts.  I used a glass to cut out circles of pastry and placed them into muffin cups.

Before you make the filling, place about 9 or 10 raisins in the bottom of each tart shell.

To make the filling, whisk together 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of hot water. 

Pour into tart shells to cover raisins (approx 2/3 full).

Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Let them cool completely before attempting to remove them from the muffin tray.

From experience, these won't last very long so you should almost always make a double batch!  For a truly Canadian experience, try your butter tarts with beer :) Haha

Proud to be a Canadian Cook,

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Rice Crispie Treats

I made these for the staff at work when it was my turn to serve a Treat Day.  I love these homemade squares way better than those that come pre-packaged at the store.  These are super easy to make and they keep for weeks if you wrap them tightly or keep them in Tupperware.  The best thing is that you don't have to turn on your oven in the humidity this summer and kids (and adults too) love them!!!

First, you take a tablespoon of butter to a large pot and melt it.

Then, add your package of marshmallows and keep stirring until they are melted. 

Then add a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Add 6 cups of Rice Krispies and stir it up until all the cereal is coated with marshmallow goo.  Lay the "batter" out onto parchment paper and flatten it with your hands.

Let it cool at least 10 minutes in the fridge or in a cold room.  Once it's hardened a little, you can cut it up into squares.  I like to put sprinkles on my rice crispie treats, but you can leave them plain if you like.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tutto Gelato

Hey - wow - it's been nearly a month since my last post.  Life can get pretty crazy busy towards the end of the school year.  However, my mum and I took some time for ourselves last week and visited Copper Creek Spa and then a stop at Tutto Gelato in Klienburg.  What a treat!!!

Tutto Gelato offers all the authentic Gelato flavours including MOCHA CAPPUCCINO and LEMON TART.  We decided to get 2 scoops - 1 scoop of TIRAMISU and 1 scoop of MAPLE SUGAR.

It was so good!  Please note, you will need several napkins.  Gelato should almost always be shared :)  It tastes better that way!

We really enjoyed sitting outside this cute shop, eating our gelato, and watching people walk by.  Klienburg is a really sweet spot and Tutto Gelato is the perfect place to soak in the ambiance. 

Just a note that if you are planning to visit Klienburg anytime soon, the stores close around 5 or 6pm.  Don't be disappointed and go early and spend a morning or the afternoon and check out all the shops!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Made With Love Apple Cake

I found the original recipe on All Recipes, but I have changed it drastically to taste better and use less bowls & utensils.  I really hate the cleanup, so I always try to cut down the amount of measuring cups and spoons I use! Below is the perfect APPLE CAKE:

3-4 apples peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

Peel, core, and slice apples.  Sprinkle them in the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Toss to coat and set aside.

Mix the eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, oil, juice and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, but stop mixing once they are combined.  Do not over mix!  Pour half of the batter into a greased cake pan.  Place the sliced apples over the batter and then the remaining batter over the top.  An apple cake sandwich :)

Bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour.  Remove it when it is brown on the edges.

Flip the cake out of the pan and bring it to someone you love - it must be shared with family and friends!

Enjoy <3

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Homemade Energy Bars

Have you ever been hungry between meals and settled for an energy bar?  I do this quite often and my weakness is... Lara Bars!  I am officially addicted to these yummy little bars that are all natural, but cost anywhere between $2 and $3 per bar depending where you buy them.  These energy bars are very tasty and I cannot live without them.  After reading the list of ingredients (only 4-9 depending on which bar), my only thought was that I could easily recreate the taste for much less. 

So, I did some research and found some recipes for energy bars online.  I decided to choose my own ingredients but stick to the suggested ratios.  You can adjust the ingredients as you like:

1/4 cup of any raw nuts or seeds (almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts...)
1/4 cup of dates or prunes
1/4 cup of any dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, blueberries, apple, apricot...)
pinch of cinnamon

If you follow the ratio of fruit to nut, 2:1, you will always get the perfect bar!  My first batch consisted of almonds, prunes and raisins.  I call it the Bri Bar :)

I started with the almonds and the cinnamon.  I ground them finely in my little food processor.

Then, I added the prunes and raisins. 

I mixed it up until it was a big sticky mixture.

I split the mixture and made 2 little mounds on some wax paper.  I folded the wax paper lengthwise and formed the mix into bar shapes.

They look and taste exactly like Lara Bars! 

I keep my Bri Bars in the fridge in an airtight container to keep them fresh. I take one to work with me everyday.  They are way better than Lara Bars because I made them myself with fresh ingredients, in a clean kitchen and they are so affordable.  I have since made a cranberry bar  and I plan to make a peanut butter bar flavour next.  You can experiment with your own favourite dried fruits and nuts and create your own energy bars - enjoy!