Canned Beans Versus Dry Beans? My two cents.

Which are best?

I personally think that using dried beans is the best route to go in any circumstance. They are cheaper to start with, and they don’t contain the extremely high sodium levels that most canned products have. And there are always concerns of certain canned products in general. Check out the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website often to stay up to date on any food recalls that occur. And there is always the concern of just trying to eliminate as many processed foods from our diet as possible! This is just another small way to add healthier options to your everyday diet 🙂

AND since I make so much hummus and chili (and just because beans are such a great addition to any diet) I keep dried red kidney and garbanzo beans in the cupboard at all times. I use the ‘PC Brand Blue Choice Menu” beans and haven never had a problem with these products!

The only downside to this product is that you really have to plan when you are using them in advance because they need to be soaked prior to cooking.

There are typically two ways that you can soak your beans.

1. Quick Hot Water Soak:

For every 1 cup of beans add 3 cups of water and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the soaking water and rinse with cold water.

2. Overnight Cold Water Soak:

For every 1 cup of beans add 3 cups of water and let stand for 12 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Basic cooking instructions:

Bring beans and clean water to a boil and and cook at a simmer for 60-90 minutes until tender. Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil to the cooking water to reduce foaming. Add any salt and acidic ingredients (tomatoes, vinegar) after beans are fully cooked.

Yield: 1 cup dried beans equals approximately 2 1/2 – 3 cup of cooked beans. SO MANY BEANS!!!

I do keep a few cans of ready-to-use beans in the cupboard for when I am short on time, but totally recommend the dried beans for any other occasion.

Dried Red Kidney and Garbanzo beans

Dried Red Kidney and Garbanzo beans

Closer look at the dried beans, they are hard as rocks!

Closer look at the dried beans, they are hard as rocks!

Easy Bacon and Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

I whipped these up on the spot for Easter dinner when I remembered I hadn’t prepared a potato dish yet (whoops). They were SO GOOD and disappeared instantly from the table. A couple days after Easter when we had all that leftover ham I made this again and layered in pieces of meat for a more filling version that we ate for our main course! I will definitely be making this again!

Potatoes before they disappeared :P

Potatoes before they disappeared 😛

Bacon and Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

  • 2-3 medium potatoes cut into thin discs
  • 1 medium to large onion cut into thin discs
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 4-6 pieces chicken bacon, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • Salt, pepper garlic powder and oregano to taste
  1. Cook bacon whichever way you prefer best. Pat dry and chop into small pieces.
  2. Grease a 9X9 inch glass baking dish and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line the bottom of the dish with potatoes slices and top with onion slices, sprinkle with a bit of the shredded cheese (If using meat layer in after the potatoes). Repeat layers until you are out of potatoes, onions and cheese.
  3. In a frying pan melt butter. Add spices and flour and mix until smooth. Add half and half and increase heat until mixture is thick. Remove from heat and spread mixture over potatoes, onions and cheese. Pour skim milk evenly over potatoes and top with crumbled bacon.
  4. Cook in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes and enjoy!

Homemade Potato and Bacon Perogies

I LOVE perogies. I love to sautee onions in butter and fry the perogies in the same pan. DELICIOUS! I usually buy them from the grocery store though and they usually aren’t that great. Chris used to live near a bunch of Polish bakeries and one thing we used to pick up sometimes were freshly made perogies. They are 100% better than anything you can find in a grocery store.

SO after countless bags of half rate perogies I decided to whip up a batch of my own. BEST EVER!!! The dough was AMAZING, and the potato/bacon stuffing was better than any I’ve ever tried because it was FRESH! I started with a recipe I got from AllRecipes.com, my favourite website for recipes. I changed it up a bit to accommodate ingredients I had and they turned out great!

I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back to the ‘other kind’ now 😛 ALSO, this is QUITE the process and if you plan on making a lot I would recommend getting a few people together to produce a perogie making line. It would cut down on time and potential frustration 🙂

Cheese, Potato & Bacon Perogies

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (no fat)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3-4 pieces chicken bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • A splash of skim milk
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder and a lil’ Onion salt to taste. Or whatever spices you like
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, yogurt, egg whites and oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour until well blended. Cover the bowl with a towel, and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Cook bacon using your preferred method and pat dry. Cut into very small pieces.
  3. Place potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, and mash with shredded cheese and Parmesan cheese with a little milk while still hot. Season with onion salt, salt and pepper and garlic powder. Set aside to cool.
  4. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is thin enough to work with, but not too thin so that it tears. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter, perogie cutter, or a glass. Brush a little water around the edges of the circles, and spoon some filling into the center. Fold the circles over into half-circles, and press to seal the edges. Place perogies on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to freezer storage bags or containers.
  5. To cook perogies: Remove desired amount of perogies into a highsided bowl. Fill with HOT tap water. In a frying pan heat butter or oil and sautee onions. When onions are half done use a slotted spoon and remove perogies from water and insert into hot pan with onions. Cook until golden brown on first side, flip and continue to cook until golden brown on second side. Enjoy immdeiately!!
Cheese, Potato and Bacon Mixture

Cheese, Potato and Bacon Mixture

FINISHED PEROGIES!

FINISHED PEROGIES!

Hours later and I have 34 perogies! You can tell the ones Chris did :P

Hours later and I have 34 perogies! You can tell the ones Chris did 😛

I like my perogies with a Sweet and Spicy sauce that you can pick up at most grocery stores!! They are also good with plain sour cream, yogurt (healthy alternative to sour cream) or some barbecue sauce.

SlowCook (sorta) Chicken Stew

Was feeling VERY lazy Sunday after our Early morning walk with the pup and didn’t feel like cooking dinner at all! I looked in the cupboard and to my great surprise we had a ClubHouse brand Slow Cookers Beef Stew seasoning package… I don’t buy stuff like this ever because I just spice my food according to my own tastes, but this package appealed to my Sunday lazyness, so I grabbed it and went from there. I didn’t know if I would ever feel like using something prepackaged like that again so I took that as a sign that lazy stew was meant to be for that night 😛 . I ended up adding a whole bunch of others spices (as I suggest you do as well) because I didn’t think what came in the package was cutting it.  I also needed to add some cornstarch mixed with a little water to thicken it up a little, as I like my stews to be quite thick!

So first off I didn’t have any stewing beef so I used Chicken instead. This is a great healthier alternative and it tasked great too! I cooked it on high in my huge slow cooker for about 3 1/3 hours and just couldn’t wait any longer as it SMELLED SO GOOD!!! So, it was kind of Slow Cooked. Feel free to reduce temp. and cook for longer if you plan on putting it on before work to enjoy for dinner that evening! I fed this to Chris’ brother and girlfriend last night (who are staying at our place for a few days) and they loved it even 3 days after it was made, which to me is a sign of an awesome recipe! if you want leave out the prepackaged ingredients and double up on the spices listed below and add chicken or vegetable broth instead of water.

Sorta SlowCooked Lazy Sunday Chicken Stew

Feeds 6. Great as leftovers!!!

  • 2 Chicken Breasts cut into 1 inch or so cubes
  • 3 carrots coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 medium onions coarsely diced
  • 2-3 medium potatoes coarsely diced
  • 1/2 fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 package ClubHouse Slow Cooker Beef stew
  • 2 cups water
  • Oregano, Basil, Salt and Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Garlic Powder, Rosemary to taste
  • Flour or cornstarch to thicken
  1. Put the first 5 ingredients into your slow cooker. Mix ClubHouse package with water and other spices if using. Pour mixture over Chicken and Veggies.
  2. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours.
  3. Add peas during last 30 mins.
  4. If not thick enjoy for your tastes, add flour or cornstarch to water and then mix into hot stew. Stir well (cornstarch has TWICE the thickening capacity of flour so be careful!)
  5. Enjoy immediately or keep refrigerated 5-7 days.
Lazy Sunday SlowCooker Chicken Stew

Lazy Sunday SlowCooker Chicken Stew

Oven baked Bagel Chips

I hate to see anything go to waste so I was quick to act with the last almost-hard-as-rock everything bagel we had lingering in the fridge!

These bagel chips are so easy to make and very similar to something you would pay $3 or $4 dollars a bag for at the grocery store! And the beauty of making them at home is that you have a variety of flavors at your fingertips! Plus, you can control the amount of oil that goes into them if you make them yourself which is really important to me 🙂

You can either cut them from top to bottom to produce about 15-20 smaller chips per bagel, or from side to produce 7-10 larger chips.

Oven baked bagel chips

Oven baked bagel chips

Bagel Chips

  • Bagels, whatever flavour you want
  • EV Olive Oil, butter (I used leftover garlic oil from when I roasted garlic YUMM!)
  • Flavours if you want them: dill, garlic, rosemary, Parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cinnamon and brown sugar or whatever you like best 🙂
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut bagels to produce small or large chips and lightly coat with oil, butter.
  3. Add flavours of your choice and place on baking sheet in a single layer. Prepare in batches if necessary!
  4. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. They are a nice solid chip so enjoy with hummus or another thick dip!
Oven baked bagel chips

Oven baked bagel chips

Healthy Whole Wheat Flax Seed Banana Pancakes

Now THAT’S a mouth full.

Literally AND Figuratively.

On a lovely walk with Hendrix Sunday morning Christopher and I found an amazing little place called “The Apple Market”. This place had great, locally grown produce, as well as a garden center and general grocery store area! So many local products like soups, salad dressings and syrups, some I had never seen before like Cherry and Apple!!! I found a pineapple so large that I needed to carry it with two hands for only $2.99, as well as GIANT organic Bananas for .99 cents a pound!!! This awesome market is open Monday through Sunday (unlike your typical market) and is right around the corner so I think I will try and buy my produce from here only from now on.

SO that is where I scooped up the bananas for these delicious and filling pancakes which Chris had asked for the night before. I couldn’t BELIEVE how filling they were, and so easy to make 🙂 Try them with the peanut butter syrup I whipped up 🙂

Healthy Homemade Banana Pancakes with fresh fruit and peanut butter syrup!

Healthy Homemade Banana Pancakes with fresh fruit and peanut butter syrup!

Healthy Whole Wheat Flax Seed Banana Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed with 3 tablespoons water, let stand 5 minutes
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons apple sauce
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • Dash of pure vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon and fresh nutmeg to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • 2 ripe bananas mashed

OPTIONALS

  • Extra 1/4 ground flax seed
  • Toasted almonds or walnuts
  • 1/4 milk chocolate chips
  1. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and any extra ground flax seed you are using. In separate bowl mix together ground flax seed mixture, milk. apple sauce, bananas and extract.
  2. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture, batter should remain slightly lumpy and bumpy. If you are using any extras like chocolate chips or toasted nuts mix in until just incorporated at this point.
  3. Heat lightly oiled frying pans and spoon 1/4 cup out for each pancake. Cook on first side until you see air bubbles on top of pancakes, flip and cook until golden brown on other side.
  4. Enjoy with cut up fruit, or this delicious peanut butter syrup I made, recipe below.

NOTE: If you like thinner pancakes add more milk, thicker, add less!!!

Peanut Butter Syrup

  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • dash of pure vanilla extract
  • dash of maple extract
Thick whole wheat lumpy, bumpy banana batter

Thick whole wheat lumpy, bumpy banana batter

Almost ready to be flipped!

Almost ready to be flipped!

Healthy Banana Pancakes with fresh fruit topping and peanut butter syrup, ready to be enjoyed :)

Healthy Banana Pancakes with fresh fruit topping and peanut butter syrup, ready to be enjoyed 🙂

Phyllo Eclairs

Came across this lovely recipe completely by accident and so very happy that I did! I’ve never used a recipe from this site before but this turned out really, really well!!!

Not only did I get to use the two egg yolks that I had left over from a previous recipe, but I made one of the yummiest treats I’ve had in a while! This totally seams like something that you would pay an arm and a leg for at a fancy bakery, but it was so easy to make and the ingredients weren’t expensive either! AND Chris could NOT stop raving about them. I like that. I like that a lot.

Delicious Phyllo Eclairs

Delicious Phyllo Eclairs

Phyllo Eclairs

For 3 eclairs…

SHELLS

  • 2 sheets phyllo dough at around room temp.
  • 1-2 tablespoons white sugar
  • melted butter or cooking spray

VANILLA CREAM

  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/8 cup cornstarch
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

OPTIONALS

  • 1/8 cup melted milk chocolate for drizzling
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

To Make Shells

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut out 3 (12 x 6-inch) pieces of aluminum foil. Using index fingers as a guide, loosely roll up each foil piece jelly-roll fashion to form a cylinder with a 1-inch opening. Lightly coat outside of each cylinder with melted butter or cooking spray.
  2. Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large cutting board or work surface and be sure to cover your remaining dough to prevent drying!!! Lightly coat with butter or cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar. Repeat layers once. Cut phyllo stack lengthwise into 3 equal strips.
  3. Place foil tube at bottom of each strip of phyllo and roll up jelly roll style and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack and store (if not using right away) in an airtight container.
Rolling up the phyllo sheets

Rolling up the phyllo sheets

Shells before they hit the oven

Shells before they hit the oven

Shells fresh out of the oven

Shells fresh out of the oven

TO MAKE VANILLA CREAM

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Gradually add milk and half-and-half, continuing to stir with a whisk. Cook over medium heat until mixtures comes to a boil, still stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 minute, STIRRING CONSTANTLY.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. If not using right away transfer to a ziploc bag and refrigerate.
  4. To pipe mixture into shells cut edge of ziploc bag and squeeze mixture into phyllo shells. If desired, drizzle with melted milk chocolate chips and sprinkle with powdered sugar!

Heavenly Meringue Cookies

These cookies were so light, fluffy and delicious…and my dad was quite shocked when he picked one up and it was as light as air. I haven’t had these delicious cookies in such a long time that I decided to whip up a batch to enjoy with EASTER DINNER. They were so extremely easy to make and disappeared just as quickly as I put them out!

I absolutely love meringue even though it’s primarily sugar and stiffly beaten egg whites. I’m not a huge fan of waste though so I saved my two egg yolks and used them for Phyllo Eclairs, which Chris went on and on about (recipe to come).

Portion your batter and add a few drops of different food coloring and create a festive treat. Pinks, blues and purples for spring, red and green for Christmas, or just red for Valentines day.

Delicious meringue cookies

Delicious meringue cookies

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (the recipe called for clear vanilla extract but c’mon, I’m not going to search for and buy it for this ONE recipe)
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar, or superfine sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Separate egg whites into a bowl and reserve yolks for use in a different recipe.
  3. Pour in vinegar and salt and using a hand held mixer on high speed beat until mixture is foamy and doubled in size.
  4. Add extracts and sugar 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form when you lift beaters from bowl.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes or until they become crisp and golden brown.
  6. Store in an airtight container.
Pipe cookies onto baking sheet lined with parchment

Pipe cookies onto baking sheet lined with parchment

Meringue cookie before it hits the oven

Meringue cookie before it hits the oven

These cookies remind me of Christmas during a simpler time, a time when I didn’t have trays and trays of baked goods to bake and prepare, but rather to enjoy!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese frosting and toasted almonds

I spent a while gathering ideas for Easter dinner dessert and was originally thinking cute lil’ bunny themed cupcakes. But after seeing countless recipes for carrot cake I decided to go for it even though I’ve never made one before. I paired it with the delicious cream cheese frosting I made in an earlier post, but added less powdered sugar so it had more of a cream cheese taste! It was a big hit, everyone loved it, my mum especially took a liking to the cream cheese frosting 😛

You can either bake this in two standard cake tins and layer your cake, or just use a glass pie dish and invert your cake onto your serving platter like I did.

With a few adjustments this was easily made into a much healthier version of the original.

Healthy Carrot Cake with Delicious Cream Cheese frosting and toasted almonds

Healthy Carrot Cake with Delicious Cream Cheese frosting and toasted almonds

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese frosting and toasted almonds

  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1/2 – 1 cup toasted almond slices
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 white sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple sauce 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Grease a 9x13x2 pie pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Toast the almonds for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and they smell delicious. Let cool.
  3. Peel and finely grate the carrots and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.
  5. With hand mixer beat the eggs until frothy (about 1 minute). Gradually add the sugar and beat until the batter is thick and light coloured (about 3-4 mins). Add apple sauce and oil in a thin steady stream, and then beat in the vanilla extract.
  6. Add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. With a large rubber spatula fold in the grated carrots.
  7. Fill pie pan until 3/4 of the way full and bake in preheated oven for around 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  9. After completely cooled invert cake onto serving platter and frost with cream cheese frosting. Press toasted almonds around sides of cake, or chop and sprinkle over entire cake. Refrigerate any leftovers!
Healthy Carrot Cake with Delicious Cream Cheese frosting and toasted almonds

Healthy Carrot Cake with Delicious Cream Cheese frosting and toasted almonds

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • one 8 oz. bar cream cheese, cold
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest OR extract (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, measure then sifted
  1. With the mixer on a low speed, beat the cream cheese and butter till blended.
  2. Mix in vanilla and lemon extract.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar a cup at a time.
  4. Once all the powdered sugar is added, increase to a higher speed to whip up the frosting till light and fluffy.

Homemade crescent rolls

I wanted to make a few things for Easter dinner as my family was coming here to eat for our family dinner. This was the first time everyone came to our place for a Holiday meal and I LOVED IT! I made a few things like some peppermint patties, recipe posted below, a carrot cake with delicious cream cheese frosting, an old favorite MERINGUE COOKIES, bacon and two cheese scalloped potatoes and these delicious homemade crescent rolls! These were the biggest, fluffiest rolls I have ever seen. Quite frankly I wasn’t even 100% sure that they would turn out properly, as I have never worked with active dry yeast before. They were a HUGE success, literally 😛

I changed up the recipe just a little and used a bit of whole wheat flour, and didn’t coat my dough with the 1/4 cup butter it called for, I just didn’t see the point. They were still absolutely perfect, the outsides golden brown, the insides light, fluffy, delicious.

I halved the original recipe and it still made 16 buns which was still waaaay too many for our table of 6.

Delicious homemade crescent rolls

Delicious homemade crescent rolls

Crescent Rolls

  • 1/2 cup cooled mashed potatoes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups unbleached flour 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  1. In a large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C) until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. When yeast has been dissolved, mix in potatoes, sugar, butter or shortening, egg, salt and half the flour. Stir in the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough becomes stiff yet still pliable. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl and insert dough. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to five days!
  3. After at least 8 hours deflate the dough and turn out again onto a floured work surface. Roll out dough to a 12-14 inch circle and cut (using a pizza cutter) into 16 wedges. Roll wedges up tightly starting from the largest end, down to the point and form into a crescent shape. Cover and let rise for one hour while your oven is preheating.
  4. Bake, on parchment paper in a preheated oven for around 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Rolls before they hit the oven

Rolls before they hit the oven

Delicious homemade crescent rolls

Delicious homemade crescent rolls

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