Attack of the Giant Raisins

So, after being told several times by different people that I really should watch the movie “Julie and Julia” with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, I finally got the chance to.  It was very cute and it kind of planted a seed in my head…..I’m actually considering doing something similar – finding a really amazing dessert cookbook (recommendations are more than welcome – feel free to leave your ideas in a comment!) and making all the recipes in it!   The only 2 things I need is to find the cookbook and find someone (or multiple someones) that would volunteer as guinea pigs to try the end results of my efforts!  The other thing in the movie that came up was in one of the blogs that Julie Powell was writing, she asks if there is even anyone that reads her blog and I got to thinking the same thing!  Does anyone read this?  Do I inspire anyone to try making a new dessert or try to improve on a classic?  Is there anyone out there?  Or is it just me, writing my overspilling brain’s thoughts on to my computer screen?      On to today’s blog…………….

Growing up, I thought dates were “yicky” and this was probably because I thought they were like a prune or just giant raisins – which I also wasn’t a fan of.  In all honesty, up until about a year ago, I still wasn’t sold on them.  Then I tried my first date square and was kicking myself for not giving them more of a chance.  I realized that they are sweet and tasted like a brilliant mix of caramel, cinnamon and honey.  Plus, there are so many wonderful health benefits to them.  Aside from being filled with nutrients your body needs, like protein, anti-oxidants, B-Complex vitamins, potassium and magnesium (which both aid in the regulation of blood pressure and give you a big boost of energy), they are also a great source of fiber, and we all know how beneficial that is, especially for our digestive system!  Did you also know that they help combat arteriosclerosis, which is the thickening and hardening of the walls of your arteries.

  • “The anti-oxidants in Medjool dates play an important role in ridding from the body bad fats as well as reducing the risk cancers. Their high fiber content also plays an important role in fighting deposition of plaque, mostly associated with development of arteriosclerosis.”   ~  www.healthbenefitsofeating.com

datesEnough from the side of my brain that is obsessed with the health factors that certain foods bring to us and over to the other side, the side that is obsessed with creating deliciousness and transforming these sweet, plump and luscious fruits into a gooey, thick mixture to cover a crumbly, soft crust.

pouring mixtureDate squares are actually quite effortless to make.  Chopping the 3 cups of dates is perhaps the most time consuming task of the whole process.  Nevertheless, chopping them by hand is the best approach, as you can decide how big or how small you want the pieces of dates to be.  I cut mine into medium sized chunks (about 8 little nuggets per date).  I found keeping them a good size helps keep the mixture a bit thicker, so when the final masterpiece is baked, the filling doesn’t ooze out the sides when you grab a square to sink your teeth into!  Add a bit of water, lemon juice and some brown sugar and pop the concoction on the stove to simmer it all together into a thickened, blended filling.  The crust and the crumble for the topping is a basic recipe – flour, butter, brown sugar, oats and a bit of baking soda.  You can get fancy if you want and add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg, or some chopped nuts, whatever your taste buds are in the mood for that day.  Bake it for about a half hour and let the enticing aroma take over your kitchen.

fresh from the oven 
I guarantee these mouth watering squares will not last in your house!  But just remember that dates have a healthy dose of fiber and amino acids that will help “move things along” your digestive track, so it would be a wise decision NOT to eat half the pan of squares in one day!!

ready to eat

 

 

This amazing recipe was found on www.robinhood.ca

 

 

Fall Baking

When the leaves start to turn brilliant reds, yellows & oranges, that means it’s time to take a trip to the local orchard and pick some fresh apples to do some yummy baking. Whether it’s for a family gathering, like Thanksgiving, or just because you have an afternoon that’s an “inside” kind-of-day (like yesterday was!), the smell of apples and cinnamon baking in the oven just gives you a cozy kind of feeling.  A few weeks ago, I went to Frootogo Orchard in Waterdown to do some apple picking and had a pretty fun time!  The trees are dwarf trees, so it’s easy to see what you’re picking, whether you’re 3 feet tall or 6 feet tall and there’s a very good variety of apples.  I, and when I say “I”, I mean the kidlets, decided on picking Honeycrisp and Cortland apples. I got home and picked out a few simple recipes with my mini bushel of apples.  First one, of course, was to make some yummy apple sauce – it’s a family recipe, so I wanted to see if I could make it taste just as good as I remember when I was a kid.  I don’t think it was as good, but for my first crack at it, it passed the “kid test”!  Plus, the aroma from the apples and cinnamon simmering on the stove filled the house!

Easy peasy apple sauce

Quick and easy apple sauce

Next, was apple crumble!  Now this is definitely one of my FAVOURITE desserts…..add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and I’m in heaven!  I got this delicious recipe from Martha Stewart’s website, although I chose the Apple Cranberry Crumble instead of the traditional “apple only” crumble. It was very simple to follow, didn’t take very much time at all and the pecans in the crumble added just that little extra bit of flavour. The only thing in the recipe that I changed was I used dried cranberries instead of frozen or fresh, even though she specifically said not to – I’m kind of a rebel that way  😉

Oh so delicious Apple Cranberry Crumble

Oh so delicious Apple Cranberry Crumble

There are so many different goodies to make with apples – they’re so versatile when it comes to baking and each type of apple creates a different taste too.  Just a bit of advice (from personal experience), if you’re following a recipe and it calls for a certain type of apple, for example, Honeycrisp, Empire or Fuji, be sure to use that type.  If you substitute the recipe with another type, like Red Delicious, your baking may not turn out the way you want it to or could even be mushy and lacking in taste.

Here’s a little humour to hold you over until my next blog – How do you make an apple turnover??…………………Push it down a hill     Hahahaha 🙂