Saturday 31 July 2010

Little Ginger Cheesecakes

I apologize ahead of time for the quality of my photos today, but it's been a really overcast and rainy day and I find that I just can't get good light on days like that. I've done my best, but don't let the poor photos put you off of this delicious recipe! That would be a real pity!

When I was in Canada recently I picked up one of those little recipe booklets that they have for sale at the cash register. (Doesn't everyone go to grocery shops when they are on holiday? It's one of my favourite things to do!)

Anyways, this one was put out by Philadelphia Cream Cheese and had loads of scrummy recipes in it. I was immediately struck by the mini cheesecakes. They looked delicious and easy and like something that I could whip up very quickly.

But like most things, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I had to grab the ball and run with it, of course!

And what DELICIOUS ball I grabbed. Imagine little personal sized baked cheesecakes, filled with the spicy warmth and sweetness of preserved ginger, and not just any ginger either . . . I used Opies Stem Ginger steeped with Teachers Scotch Whiskey. You could use ordinary preserved stem ginger though, no problem.

For the bases I used Golden Crunch Cream Biscuits. Wow, very scrummy. Of course if you really want a ginger rush, you could use Ginger Nut biscuits. I was going to but didn't have any in my cupboard, so had to make do with what I did have.

These easy little babies were very impressive with their crunchy bottoms and that gingery rich cheesecake filling. mmmm . . . topped with some lightly whipped cream and chopped candied gingerroot they packed one very tasty wallop!!

*Little Ginger Cheesecakes*
Makes 12 small muffin sized cheesecakes
Printable Recipe

Delicious little personal sized cheesecakes flavoured with spicy ginger. Quick, easy to make and most impressive!

2 packages (250g each of cream cheese, softened (8 ounces each)
100g of caster sugar (1/2 cup)
2 large free range eggs
2 knobs of preserved ginger, finely chopped
1 TBS of the syrup from the ginger jar
12 Golden Crunch Cream biscuits

To serve:
Softly whipped cream
finely chopped candied ginger

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark4. Line a medium sized 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and ginger syrup together in a bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, on low speed just until blended in. Stir in the chopped preserved ginger.

Place one of the gingernut cream biscuits into each paper lined muffin cup. Divide the cheesecake mixture evenly amongst the cookie lined cups, filling each one evenly. Bake in the heated oven for 20 minutes or until the centres are almost set.

Cool, then place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

To serve top each with a dollop of softly whipped cream and some finely chopped candied ginger. Delicious!

Friday 30 July 2010

Beetroot Summer Salad Bowl

A few months ago, shortly after we moved into our new home, Todd went to work digging and planting a garden. He's not really that organized when it comes to such things. I am the organizer, but . . . I was busy sorting out the inside of the house, and we wanted to get something in before it was too late.

There is no rhyme or reason to much of what he planted, which is kind of nice really . . . and makes it sort of interesting.

Like the row of what he thought was parsnips, that ended up being rocket . . . not quite the same thing of course, but nice nonetheless!

We returned from our holidays on Sunday to a garden filled to the brim with Baby Gem Lettuces . . . all ready for the picking NOW. Now, as a woman, I would have spread out the planting of these little treats, over several weeks, so that they would not all be ready at the same time . . . but men . . . well, this man at any rate . . . meh . . .

I count my blessings where I find them, and at least he planted the garden!!

My beetroot are pretty much ready now as well . . . and the beans, both yellow and green are beginning to come fast and furious! Yummo!! The courgettes and butternut squash are also full of blossom, so that looks very promising as well . . . the pigeons ate our cabbage while we were away, but again . . . it is a blessing that they left it at the cabbage and didn't taste everything else as well!!

Anyways, here is a lovely salad that makes a nice light supper. It's easy to make, quick and we think it's quite delicious. You don't have to use canned ham, sliced baked ham works very well also, as do a few other suggestions which I have mentioned in the recipe!

I like to think of most recipes as being basic canvases for you to make your own mark upon in any case . . . isn't that the true wonder of cooking!!

*Beetroot Summer Salad Bowl*
Serves 2
Printable Recipe

You don't have to use ham in this if you don't want to. You could use a flavourful goats cheese, torn inbto bits, or chopped camembert, smoked fish . . . use your imagination. Chopped cooked steak or beef is also very nice.

100g of frozen petit pois (about 1/2 cup)
175g of beetroot (2 medium beetroot), cooked until tender and peeled
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 small tin of cooked ham, flaked
3 baby gem lettuces, sliced crosswise

For the Dressing:
2 TBS thick Greek Yoghurt
2 tsp horseradish sauce
approximately 1 TBS milk
salt and black pepper to taste

Put the peas into a dish and pour boiling water over top. Allow to sit for several minutes, then drain very well. Set aside.

Slice the beetroot into thick wedges. Set aside.

Divide the lettuce between two chilled dinner plates. Sprinkle the spring onions over top, along with the peas, dividing them equally amongst the plates. Top with the beetroot wedges.

Whisk together the yoghurt, horseradish sauce and milk until smooth and drizzable, adding more milk if necessary. Season to taste with some salt and black pepper.

Drizzle this dressing over the salads and then top each with equal amounts of flaked ham. Serve immediately.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip and Oat Bars

Okay . . . I put my hand up. I confess. I JUST love (adore even) peanut butter.

If I had to choose only one thing out of everything possible to have as a food on a deserted Island . . . I would choose peanut butter. Seriously. Ok . . . umm . . . maybe chocolate would win out, but trust me . . . only by a narrow margin. What could be better than peanut butter . . . or chocolate???

Peanutbutter and Chocolate together! The ultimate marriage of flavours . . . heavenly bliss . . . totally.

And when you combine that scrummy combination with the tasty crunch of buttery oats and chopped toasted nuts, well . . . I don't mind saying . . .


You just can NOT eat just one . . . I kid you not!

Rich. Decadent. Moreish.

Make them today. You will NOT regret it! Trust me on this.

Okay . . . so maybe your hips might protest, and eventually regret it a teensy weensy bit . . . but . . . you can always tell them that oats are healthy and cholesterol lowering. Very good for you in fact.

And that, my friends, is definitely the truth! ☺

*Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip and Oat Bars*
Makes 36
Printable Recipe
Deliciously oaty bars with a creamy peanut butter filling, and stogged full of rich chocolate chips and crunchy toasted walnuts. What's not to like??

18 ounces of rolled oats (2 1/4 cups)
12 ounces soft light brown sugar (1 1/4 cups packed)
140g of plain flour (1 cup)
1/2 tsp baking soda
8 ounces of butter, softened (1 cup)

1 (397g) tin of sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
(NOT evaporated milk)
2 ounces creamy peanut butter (1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate pieces (1 cup)
60g coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/Gas mark 4. Butter a 13 by 9 inch baking pan well, or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Alternately line with parchment paper and butter the paper, leaving an overhang for ease of lifting out when cooled.

Combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, baking soda and butter in a large bowl. Mix together at low speed with an electric whisk until crumbly. Reserve 2 cups of the mixture for the topping and set aside. Press the remaining crumbs into the prepared pan, evenly, to form the base.

Whisk together the condensed milk, peanut butter and vanilla. Pour this over the crumb base, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle the chocolate chops and nuts over top. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over top evenly and lightly press down to adhere.

Bake in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. The centre will not be set. Allow to cool on a wire rack for about an hour and a half, or until completely cooled before cutting into bars. Fantastic!!

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Summer Fruit Salad

Oh how I love, LOVE summer!! The warm sunny days . . . the smell of newly mown grass . . . flowers blooming . . . bees buzzing . . . barbeques . . .

Is there no end to it's loveliness??? I think not!!

Just look at all the fresh fruit that is so abundant at the moment . . . fresh blueberries from hampshire, blackberries and cherries from Kent . . . fresh ripe white peaches from France (Sorry, but they are very hard for this glutton top resist!!)

Not to mention fresh plums and nectarines and sweet mint from my very own garden.

All you need is a bit of fresh local honey and some freshly squeezed orange juice and you have a delicious fruit salad . . .

So refreshing on a hot summer's day . . . Very pretty to look at . . . And very healthy and full of all those good things like antioxidants and vitamins! I almost feel self-righteous eating this!!

A nice dollop of tangy Greek Yoghurt is the perfect addition! Well . . . what are you waiting for??? Dig in!!

*Summer Fruit Salad*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

What could be more refreshing or delicious than a nice bowl of fresh summer fruits?? This is the best of the season all dressed up in a bowl with a tangy dollop of Greek Yoghurt to gild the lily!

2 pitted and sliced ripe plums
2 pitted and sliced ripe peaches (I used white fleshed)
3 pitted and sliced ripe apricots
1 small punnet of blueberries (about 1 cup)
1 small punnet of ripe blackberries (about 1 cup)
1 small punnet of ripe cherries, pitted and sliced in half (about 1 cup)
the freshly squeezed juice of one large orange
1 TBS runny honey (I like Acacia)
a handful of small mint leaves, bruised
Greek Yoghurt to serve (optional)

Mix all the fruits together in a large bowl, along with the mint. Whisk together the orange juice and the honey. Pour over top and toss to coat the fruit. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve spooned out into small bowls and pass the Greek Yoghurt!

Note - this will keep in the fridge, covered, for up to one day.

Hmmm . . . I wonder if this will help towards redeeming me from all those lucious bad for me goodies that I ate whilst on my holidays? Do ya think???

Monday 26 July 2010

Holiday Treats

Well, here I am back from my Nova Scotian summer holiday and have I ever had a wonderful time!!!! During the past three weeks I have eaten some pretty incredible things . . . indulging myself at whim with all the things that I can't get over here, tasty treats from home . . . once every three year gastronomical delights!

Things like . . .

A good feed of my mom's homemade baked beans . . . all molassessy and scrummy, served with oodles of homemade bread slathered in lots of cold butter . . .

Several Hot Turkey Sandwiches . . . a real Canadian treat, with lots of tender turkey, tasty gravy, fluffy mashed spuds and carrots . . . along with cranberry sauce and some incredibly delicious coleslaw! Not once, but twice . . . ahem . . . Have I mentioned that I am a bit of a glutton?

The naughty indulgences of Pillsbury Pizza pops, North American Hot dogs, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner, Crispy Crunch chocolate bars . . .

And that old childhood favourite, Cap'n Crunch Cereal . . . yes . . . a big tasty bowlful every morning. *blush*

An incredible Cassoulet cooked by my son . . . rich and chock full of deliciously tender pieces of duck and smokey sausage . . . oh my but was it good . . .

A gargantual feast of Chinese Fried Chicken wings at the local Chinese Buffet place . . . oh sure, I had a few other things . . . like wontons and chicken balls . . . not to mention some beef and broccoli and noodles . . . but it is the wings that get me every time. They are one of the things I really look forward to eating when I am back home in Nova Scotia . . .

AN incredibly rich and delicious vanilla and choclate swirl soft ice cream at a roadside ice cream parlour in Berwick Nova Scotia, served up in a waffle cone . . . such a treat on a hot, hot, hot day!! I can't believe I ate the whole thing!!

Oh so yummy rich and tasty Date Cream Pie, with a buttery crust and fluffy meringue topping. This was some good eating!

A feed of buttery, fresh Nova Scotia local Peaches and Cream Corn . . . I just couldn't get enough of it. I think I ate 4 ears!

The best pan fried Haddock I have ever eaten, served up in a little local restaurant on Long Island, just off of the Digby Neck. It was cooked perfectly and served up with a tasty side order of delicious mash and fresh valley vegetables. Oh my, but this was good, seriously good!

My mom's fresh dinner rolls. Does anyone ever make rolls as good as your mama??? I don't think so!!

A wonderful salmon dinner at a friends house . . . marinated all day in his secret marinade, and then cooked on a cedar plank over the barbeque, this was fabulous!! Served with fresh locak green and yellow wax beans and some tasty roasted potatoes,onions and carrots. I went back for a second helping of the salmon, it was soooooo good!! (I know . . . me bad!)

Sweet and tasty local valley Strawberries, with oodles of cream and sugar on top. Ahhh . . . the taste of a Nova Scotia July . . .

You can't travel in the maritimes without feasting at least once on a tasty Lobster Roll. Lobster is as cheap as chips back home and most places have a Lobster Roll on the menu, filled to overflowing with rich and tasty Maritime Lobster . . . even McDonald's serves them!

And last but not least the most heavenly Coconut Cream Pie on the planet . . . rich and creamy and stogged full of lovely, sweet flaked coconut . . .

Yes . . . I ate every single crumb . . . and enjoyed every mouthful!

Pssttt . . . I also managed to tuck in several Turkey Subs from our local Sub Way, filled to overflowing with lots of pickles, hot peppers and um . . . olives, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and umm . . . yes . . . turkey! (We won't talk about the Cherry Cheese Danish from Tim Hortons or the iced caps!) Guilty as charged.

The diet starts today.

Or well . . . maybe not.