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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Apple Crumble Muffins

Apple Crumble Muffins with the goodness of whole grain, a tasty apple pie filling and a crumble topping make these muffins a delightful breakfast or snack. Serve with a tall glass of frosty milk or a hot cup of your favourite beverage. 

I have a habit of buying in bulk when I see a good bargain.  A while ago I spied boxes of Grape-Nuts cereal going at a great price that was too good to pass by.  I like Grape-Nuts but I overestimated my love of the cereal and have several boxes that are languishing in the cupboard waiting to be eaten (actually, in the freezer to keep them fresh).  I used some the cereal in a vegetarian roast but when I made it I wasn't struck on the flavour and texture and decided to bin that recipe in the "not so good" file.  

Copyright 1968, 1980 Edition
The other day I was leafing through one of Mom's cookbooks and found a recipe called "Delightful Muffins", by a Mrs. O. J. Bennett of Abbotsford, BC,  which took 1 cup of Grape-Nuts cereal.  I made them and they were quite nice and tasty. Of course, I thought they might be even more delightful with a few additions.  So I added a little apple pie filling and a crumble topping and they turned out to be quite delightful, indeed! They would make breakfast quite special if family and friends are staying over. 

The recipe may seem quite involved but it comes together quite quickly once all the elements are combined.  It doesn't take long to make the apple filling or the crumble topping and once those are done everything just falls in place.  

The muffins, themselves, are not overly sweet but sweet enough to be enjoyable. The brown sugar gives them a very nice caramel flavour. So many muffins are cake in disguise but these would definitely be considered a real muffin.  

Apple Crumble Muffins

Apple Filling

1 large or 2 medium Golden Delicious or Granny Smith Apple or any other firm cooking apple, peeled and diced
¼ cup apple juice or water
1-2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg, optional
1 teaspoon cornstarch + enough water/apple juice to dissolve
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place diced apple, apple juice, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 5 minutes until apples just begin to soften but not become mushy.  Mix the cornstarch with a very small amount of water and stir into the apple mixture.  Cook until thickened, about 1 more minute. Stir in lemon juice. Lay aside to cool while preparing the remaining ingredients.  

Crumble Topping

3 tablespoons dry oatmeal
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar, white or brown
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons soft butter

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together until crumbly.  Set aside until needed.


1 beaten egg
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sour milk (1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar added to milk to make 1 cup)
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Grape-nuts cereal
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 10 muffin cups with cupcake papers or grease well.

In a small bowl, mix together, beaten egg, brown sugar, sour milk, oil, vanilla and Grape-nuts cereal. Let sit 5 minutes. In a medium to large bowl, sift or mix together the soda, salt, cinnamon and flour. Stir wet ingredients into the flour mixture, mixing only enough to combine.

Spoon into prepared muffin pans, about a scant ⅓ cup per muffin cup.  Make a shallow depression in the top of each muffin.  Spoon a heaping teaspoon of apple mixture into the depression of each muffin. Sprinkle with the crumble mixture, dividing equally among each muffin. Bake in preheated oven 15-18 minutes until golden.  May be served warm or cool on wire rack.  Store in covered container.  May freeze and use as needed.

Makes 10 muffins.

Make the apple filling by cooking the diced apples with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, dash salt and apple juice or water.  Cook until the apples are just starting to soften about 5 minutes.  Thicken the mixture with cornstarch mixed with water. Set the filling aside to cool until you are ready to use it in the recipe.

Make the crumble by mixing flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and butter together until crumbly. Set aside until ready to use. 

Make the muffins by soaking the Grape-Nuts cereal with the sour milk, brown sugar, beaten egg, oil and vanilla.  Let sit about 5 minutes. 

Mix the flour with salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add the soaked Grape-Nuts mixture and combine until just mixed.  Don't over beat.

Spoon the muffin mixture into paper-lined or greased muffin pans.  Make a shallow depression on the top of each and spoon on the apple filling.  Sprinkle with the crumble topping.

You should have 10 muffins if you use a scant ⅓ cup of batter in each cup.  
These are ready for the oven.

When the muffins are baked let them cool on a wire cake rack. 

The muffins are delicious warm or cold.  

 Great with a glass of milk or cup of tea.

A nice choice for a special breakfast or snack.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Four Cheese Vegetable Lasagna

Layers of cheese, vegetables and tomato sauce sandwiched between tender noodles makes this lasagna a hearty meal for every day or special occasions.  

Making Lasagna really says, "I love you!" to your family and friends.  It's not hard to make but it is a bit fussy with the preparation and layering.  I suppose it doesn't take much longer to put together than most casserole dishes but the preparation may be a little longer, especially if you are chopping vegetables and simmering a sauce. But the good news is, you can do it the day before you wish to serve it and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

Don't worry if you don't have some of the vegetables on hand.  Just substitute more of the ones you have or add another vegetable you may like.  And the veggie burger is optional.  Leave it out or put it in--it's up to you.  It will taste good either way.

Four Cheese Vegetable Lasagna
12 strips lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions

1 500 ml carton cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (2 cups)

1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper

½ cup diced onion

½ cup diced sweet pepper, any colour
½ cup diced canned mushrooms (1 cup if using fresh)
1 medium carrot, grated
1 or 2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil or favourite cooking oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
1 package/can veggie burger crumbles (I use Yves Ground Round), optional
1 large can tomato or pasta sauce
1 teaspoon sugar, optional

*Fresh or frozen spinach, if desired, optional

1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Grease a 9x13x2-inch baking dish.

Boil the lasagna noodles according to box directions.  Rinse with cold water and drain.

Grate the first amount of Mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and mix with the cottage cheese, egg, salt and pepper. Divide the cheese mixture into thirds and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or saucepan and add the diced vegetables. Sprinkle with salt. Stir and saute until the vegetables have softened but not browned.  Add the basil and oregano and stir through.  Crumble in the veggie burger, if using and stir in the tomato sauce.  Bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste. Add sugar if the sauce seems too sharp or acidic. Remove from heat and set aside.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of prepared baking dish, about 1 cup. Lay down 3 lasagna noodles. Spread one-third of the cheese mixture over the noodles and then a thin layer of sauce over the cheese, about ¾ - 1 cup.  Continue with next layer of three noodles, cheese and sauce.  Top with three more noodles, cheese and sauce.  You should have three noodles left.  Lay these on top of the last layer of ingredients.  This will be your top.  Spread a thin layer of sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle with the second amount of Mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.

*If you wish, you may sprinkle wilted or thawed and squeezed frozen spinach to one of the layers.  You will only need a thin layer--maybe about a cup of the squeezed and chopped spinach.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  You may now bake the Lasagna or cover and refrigerate until the next day when you are ready to bake it.

Bake in the preheated oven 45 minutes or until bubbling and the cheese is starting to brown to a golden colour.  If the casserole has been refrigerated, you may have to increase the time to 50-55 minutes to allow for the difference in temperatures.

Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

Makes 12-15 servings.

Get a big pot of water boiling and follow package directions for cooking the lasagna noodles.  When the noodles are cooked drain and run cold water over them.  This will keep them from sticking while they are sitting in the strainer.

While the noodles are cooking get the cheese and sauce ready. Grate the cheeses and combine with the egg.  Divide the cheese mixture into thirds and set aside.

Prepare the sauce by frying the onion, mushrooms, peppers, carrots and garlic in the oil.  Add salt, basil and oregano.  When the vegetables have softened add the veggie burger and the tomato/pasta sauce.

Let the sauce simmer about 5 minutes.

To assemble the lasagna:  Grease a 9x13x2-inch baking dish and place about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom.  Lay 3 strips of lasagna on top of the sauce.

Place one third of the cheese on top of the lasagna noodles.  Spread it out so it covers most of the noodles. 

Spread about ¾ - 1 cup of sauce on top of the cheese. Repeat this layering two more times.  

When you have placed the last layer of noodles in the dish, spread the last of the sauce on top.  You will need about 1 cup of sauce. 

Mix the last amounts of Mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan cheese together.

 Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the top of the last layer of sauce.

You should have 4 layers of noodles, 3 layers of mixed grated and cottage cheese, 4 layers of sauce and a topping of grated cheeses.

Bake the lasagna about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let the lasagna rest about 10 or 15 minutes before serving. Cut the lasagna in 12 - 15 pieces.  

Serve the lasagna with garlic bread and a green salad.

Delicious for every day or special occasions. 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Orange Pecan Coffee Cake

Orange Pecan Coffee Cake is a moist, dense cake encased in a caramel flavoured, spicy, orange crust and topped with crunchy pecan halves.  If you're looking for something nice and tasty for this weekend's brunch look no farther than this cake. Not only does it taste good, it looks fabulous on a pretty serving plate (even when you've tossed the pecans on without too much effort). 

I can't remember where I clipped this recipe.  I do know it wasn't from the internet but from some magazine.  I actually don't have a clipping as I think I must have typed it directly to my computer. That was years ago.  During the early to mid-1990s no one had internet in their homes.  It was even a rare thing in schools or businesses. But we've had a computer since the boys were young as I thought it would be good for their education.   (That may explain why one is teaching technology at the university and the other is a programming specialist at the company where he works.) What I'm trying to say is I can't give credit for the recipe.   

A few notes:

  • When packing the crumbs into the pan don't be too heavy handed. Looser is better than packed in tight.  
  • Make sure you use all of 2 tablespoons of grated orange rind. It will probably take at least 2 oranges.  
  • If you don't have a spring form pan the cake can be baked in a bundt or tube cake pan but the pecans will be on the bottom. That won't make any difference to the flavour, just the presentation.

Orange Pecan Coffee Cake
2 cups flour
1¾ cups packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coarsely grated orange rind
½ cup butter
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch spring form pan.

In large bowl mix flour, sugar, allspice, salt and orange rind.  With pastry blender, cut in butter until crumbly.  If you don't have a pastry blender use two knives.  Take out 2½ cups of mixture and lightly press into bottom of 8- or 9-inch spring form pan.  

In separate bowl whisk together egg, sour cream and baking soda.  Stir into remaining crumb mixture in large bowl.  Spoon over crust in pan.  Arrange pecan halves on top.  Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tester inserted in middle comes out clean. If you use a 9-inch pan the it will take a few minutes less to bake.  

Let cool on rack. Release sides and cool completely.   Remove from pan and place on serving plate. Store remaining cake in a covered container.

Makes 12-16 servings.  

Mix flour, sugar, allspice, salt and orange rind.  With pastry blender, cut in butter until crumbly. Take out 2½ cups of crumbs for bottom of spring form pan.

Press the 2½ cups of crumbs into the bottom of  the greased spring form pan.  Don't worry if the crumbs go up the sides of the pan.  

Beat the egg, sour cream and baking soda together.  Stir into the remaining crumbs to make a cake batter.  Pour the batter onto the crumbs in the pan.  

Arrange pecan halves over the batter.  I'm afraid my arrangement is a bit messy today but I think you get the idea.

Bake the cake about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  If you use a 9-inch pan the it will take a few minutes less to bake.  Let the cake cool a few minutes in the pan and then release the sides and cool completely.  When cool carefully remove from the pan and place on a nice serving plate.  I've decorated around the edges with half slices of oranges.  

You can see where the crumbs went up the side of the pan.  I think it gives the cake a nice finish.  

 The cake cuts nicely into 12-16 slices.  

Orange Pecan Coffee Cake is a moist, dense cake encased in a caramel flavoured, spicy, orange crust and topped with crunchy pecan halves.

Brunch or dessert?  It really doesn't matter.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Apple Pancakes--Pancake Day 2017

Here we go again with Pancake Day.  I've posted several pancake recipes hereherehere and here. All those pancakes are very good and sometimes it's hard to pick a recipe as a favourite.  I guess they are all my favourite!

This is a nice variation on a plain pancake.  I often add chopped apples to a plain pancake batter instead of blueberries.  A little sugar and spice make these Apple Pancakes a tasty treat for Pancake Day or any day of the week.  

Apple Pancakes
1 cup flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons oil or melted butter
1 beaten egg
½ cup finely chopped apples (1 medium to large apple)
Oil for frying

Sift or mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Combine the milk, oil and eggs together and add to the flour mixture.  Mix until smooth.  Stir in the apples.  Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium low heat.  Spread a little oil on hot pan and fry pancakes about ¼ cup for each.  Turn when tops have bubbles appearing on the surface and the edges are turning golden brown.

Serve with maple or pancake syrup and a pat of butter if you wish.

Makes about 12 pancakes.

Sift or mix the dry ingredients together.  Beat the egg and add the milk and oil.  Chop the apples. Combine the wet and dry ingredients together and mix until smooth.  A few lumps won't matter.  Mix in the chopped apples. 

Spoon the pancake batter by the quarter cup onto a hot oiled frying pan or griddle.

Fry until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake.  The edges should be turning golden.  Flip and cook on the other side until golden.

You will make about 12 pancakes. 
The recipe is easily doubled if you have a crowd for breakfast or supper.

 Serve the Apple Pancakes with a pat of butter and a good drizzle of maple or pancake syrup.

Sweet and spicy Apple Pancakes!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Lemon Cake Pie

Lemon Cake Pie is a luscious lemon sponge pudding sitting in a flaky pie crust.  You'll get the goodness of a lemon pudding cake and a lemon pie all in one mouthful.

I've mentioned before that over the years I took possession of many of my mother's cookbooks.  Most of them were paperback editions purchased at Woolworth's or other five-and-ten-cent stores.  They didn't cost much, just a few dollars or even less when she bought them.  They had many of the same recipes scattered throughout the books so I'll wager they were all from the same main publisher.  I'd often leaf though the books and check off the recipes I'd like to try.  Then I'd find the same recipe in another book, written exactly the same.  So I'd check it off again. Some were really good when I made them and others were a total write-off.  But this Lemon Cake Pie is definitely a keeper.

Lemon Sponge Pudding was a favourite dessert of mine when I was a child.  Mom didn't make it often but when she did I was a happy child.  You can buy the mixes in a box but they aren't as good as the homemade.  Lemon Cake Pie is a happy marriage of a lemon sponge pudding and a lemon pie. How good is that?!!  As the filling bakes it separates into two layers--a lovely, tangy lemon sauce on the bottom and a top layer of sponge cake.  And all this is happening in a pie crust!  Yes, it excites my taste buds for many reasons.  I enjoy (love) pie. I like (love) lemon. I am fond (love) pudding.  I think dessert should be another food group. (I know desserts are not considered healthy but they taste so good.)   So, yes, this pie has stayed in my files.

As this is a pie and a pudding baked together the dessert is somewhat rich but refreshing at the same time.  You may be tempted to eat most of it yourself if you are a lemon lover but please share this with your family and friends.

The original recipe did not call for blind baking the pie crust but I find this helps to eliminate soggy bottoms (the pie crust bottom, not yours). If you do not wish to blind bake the crust skip this step and pour the filling in the unbaked crust.

Lemon Cake Pie
1 cup sugar
¼ cup flour
¼ cup melted butter
2 egg yolks
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 lemons (juice and rind)
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
9-inch unbaked pie crust, or use recipe below or use a frozen pie crust (if you must)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Blind bake pie crust for 5 minutes, using pie weights or dry beans.  Remove beans and bake an additional 3 minutes.  This will help to keep the pie from becoming soggy.  Remove pie crust from oven and prepare filling.  (For more instructions on blind baking, click here.)

Combine sugar, flour, melted butter, egg yolks, salt and milk and beat until smooth.  Add juice and grated lemon rinds.  Stir well.  Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry, and fold into mixture.  Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes more.

Remove pie from oven and cool thoroughly before cutting.  The pie is best served at room temperature but refrigerate any remaining pieces.

Makes 8-6 servings.

Pie Crust
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ sugar, optional
½ cup butter
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
5-6 tablespoons very cold water

Mix the flour, salt and sugar together.  Cut the butter and shortening into the flour until it resembles coarse meal or the size of small peas.  Add the cold water a tablespoon at a time until the dough clings to itself.  Gather the dough into two equal portions and flatten into a thick disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes.  It can be refrigerated for up to two days before use or frozen for several weeks.

Roll out each disk and fit each into a 9-inch pie plate or use one disk as a top crust.

Makes two 9-inch pie crusts or one 9-inch double crust.

Fresh lemons and great ingredients make for a delicious lemon pie.

Be sure to strain the lemon juice so the seeds won't appear in the pie.

Beat the egg yolks, flour, sugar, salt and milk together until smooth.

Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.  Do this gently to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.

Pour the filling into the blind baked pie crust.  You can also skip the blind baking and pour directly into the unbaked pie crust.  Blind baking helps to prevent a soggy bottom crust.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes more.  

The pie will bake with a lovely sponge cake topping sitting atop a tangy lemon sauce.

You can see the sponge cake peeking through the cracks on the top of the pie.

Serve the Lemon Pie Cake at room temperature with dollop of whipped cream on the side.

Tangy, sweet and luscious Lemon Cake Pie.