mile high meringue pumpkin pie

So, my first ever Pumpkin Pie won a contest at work. Not too shabby for a first timer, right!

In the spirit of Fall, we were all invited to prepare a dessert using apples or pumpkin at work. Let’s just say that it was a sugar high Friday! So many desserts, so hard to decide which one to try, even harder choosing a winner. One of my favorite was a pumpkin-and-chocolate-brownie type of thing my friend Anne-Marie had made… and she even gave me some to bring home!!! So right there, I guess I was already a winner!

At first I was going to make my go-to Pumpkin Pop Tarts, but then had a craving for meringue… so I went on a hunt for a pumpkin pie with meringue recipe. Didn’t have all the ingredients on hand so had to improvise and ended up with my very own Mile High Meringue Pumpkin Pie.

Don’t attempt this if you’re in a hurry, as it’s time consuming. But next time your hosting, just pretend you’re Martha Stewart and make it, because your dessert will be worthy of a magazine cover.

Mile High Meringue Pumpkin Pie

What you need:

 

Crust:

store bough pie crust or even better, homemade

 

Filling:

3 large eggs

15 oz. Pumpkin Puree

1 cup of heavy cream

2 teaspoon cornstarch

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Meringue:

2 cups sugar

8 egg whites, room temperature

 

How to:

Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Roll out crust on a lightly floured surfaced. Place crust in a 9 inches pie plate. Let the dough hang a bit on the side, it will shrink a bit while baking and you want to have lots of crust for this dessert. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust starts to golden. Remove from oven and let cool.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling in a large bowl. Mix together the eggs, pumpkin puree, heavy cream, brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg.

Lower to oven to 325. Pour the pumpkin mix into the pie crust. Place in oven and bake for 50 minutes. The middle may still be wobbly, but that’s ok! Remove from oven and let cool on a wired rack. When it’s room temperature, place in fridge for a few hours.

Now, for the meringue, use a heat proof bowl, like the one on your Kitchen Aid mixer and place over a saucepan filled with boiling water on the stove. Add the egg whites and sugar. Mix with whisk or hand held mixer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and then place on the Kitchen Aid. Mix for another 3 minutes on medium speed, then for 6 on high. It will look like marshmallow frosting. Soft, fluffy and delicious: DO NOT eat it all and keep some for the pie! Stack the meringue on the pie, making swirling motion. Using a kitchen blow torch, brown the meringue to a soft gold color. And voilà!

Your guests will be impressed, and so will you! It was my first attempt with meringue and I’m now an addict! Going to have to find new recipes with meringue, but since it’s October, for now I’ll keep on enjoying this delicious Pumpkin Pie.

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weekend and bars… breakfast bars

Our house has been hit by a few viruses the last couple of days and it sucks. Liam has a fever since Friday, I’m congested and Logan is starting a cold. Nothing says back to school like a sick household. Nevertheless, this long weekend we spent plenty of time snuggling, played board games, watched Fails on the iPad, had some people over for diner and then went out to the track with the boys and family to watch some horse racing. On this rainy Monday morning I decided to bake my favorite breakfast bars to start the week on a good note! Then, not long after lunch, since it was kinda the perfect weather for a nap, the four of us ended up napping at the same time all over the house!

So now that I am fully rested, I’m back to my new laptop ready to write a new post. My favorite fruit is definitely raspberry. Nothing bring me more joy than going to my mom’s and being greeted by the sweet smell of raspberry pie baking in the oven (lucky me she brought us one last night!). Since I can’t eat pie for breakfast every morning (like I did today), once in a while I bake these amazing raspberry breakfast bars. I think it might be the first recipe I saved on Pinterest way back when. So today I’m sharing Smitten Kitchen’s recipe and it’s so good!

Raspberry Breakfast Bars

What you need:

For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup pack brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the raspberry filling:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps flour
1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsps unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhanging slightly on both ends. Butter the parchment.

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan.  Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.

Make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter. Mix well.

Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a few days.

I’ve made them today with gluten free flour and it worked and tasted delicious. These are so good for lunchbox snacks and late night sugar cravings! Liam has named them “ma deuxieme meilleure chose du monde” his second best thing in the world, his first being his Mimi’s pies! I totally agree… but maybe after poutine, and tacos, and guac… my list of favs is long, but these breakfast bars are up there for sure! Another of my favs are these Starbucks Here You Are mugs that we collect everywhere we go. We’re starting to have lots and they’re so much fun to look at and remember where you were and when you were there. Best one so far is definitely Disneyland! Can’t wait to see what the next one will be!

Anyway, hope we get better soon. It’s back to work time tomorrow morning, so we better have a good night sleep and be ready to go, rested and healthy for this short week! Hope you all had a slow, fun, relaxing and lazy labor day my friends! Smells like Fall and I just love it. Talk to you soon!

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mozza pesto chicken…with tomatoes

 

So have you tried my bruschetta recipe?  If you haven’t, you should really try it out… it’s a must for your life!  It’s literally mind-blowingly good.  But make sure you keep some tomatoes for this next recipe… definitely one of my new favorite summer dishes: Mozza Pesto Chicken with tomatoes; something I started to make this summer, but will be making forever.  Again, easy and fast, which is perfect for those dreaded weeknights diner, while still full of flavors.

Mozza Pesto Chicken…with Tomatoes

What you need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 fresh tomatoes

1\2 cup of pesto (click here for recipe)

few slices of mozzarella

salt and pepper

How to:

Butterfly the chicken breast and marinate it in 1\4 cup of pesto (can be store bought but homemade tastes so much better) for at least an hour.  Advice:  when you buy large quantity of chicken, always butterfly the breast and freeze them in large Ziploc bag.  When you need them, they takes less time to thaw, you get more marinade on your meat and it takes less time to cook.  In the morning, I take out the meat and throw in the marinade in the Ziploc bag and leave in the fridge.  When I get back from work, the chicken is ready to be cooked.  Heat oven at 400 and place chicken in a Pyrex dish.  Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes and cheese.  Remove the dish from the oven, place 2-3 slices of tomatoes on top.  Season with salt and pepper and add the leftover pesto on top.  Place the cheese on top.  Return to oven for 10 minutes then broil the cheese until golden.  Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes

Serve with your favorite veggies and a side of rice.  Delish!  Enjoy!

Mozza Pesto Chicken with Tomatoes
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you say tomato, i say bruschetta

Goat Cheese Bruschetta

It’s tomato season… and if you’re like me, well you have plenty from your garden by now!!!  I’m not one for tomato sandwiches or sliced tomatoes, but I do have a few recipes I’d like to share with you this week, all of them using fresh tomatoes!

On a side note, my two-months summer vacation is now over, and this week has been kind of tough on me being back at work, having to wake up early, going back to my routine of making lunches for the boys, while also prepping them for their back-to-school next week.  But you know what, I’m still hanging on to summer like my life depends on it!!!  So I’ll take all the fresh produces and warm sunny days August and September have to offer!

My first recipe is for sure my favorite way to eat tomatoes: Goat Cheese Bruschetta.  I think I first tasted this at my aunt Pat’s place in Kitchener while visiting for Oktoberfest years ago.  It was the best bruschetta ever; and still is.  I now make my own version of it, I have no clue if it tastes like hers, but I think it’s pretty awesome.  So here it goes.

Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Goat Cheese Bruschetta

What you need:
3 fresh tomatoes or 2 cups of cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup of goat cheese

1/2 cup fresh basil

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

How to:

Chop the tomatoes and place in a bowl.  Crumble the goat cheese on top, add the chopped basil, olive oil, and the salt and pepper.  Mix well and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

I serve this bruschetta mix with roasted naan bread.  Just brush a bit of olive oil on top the bread, sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper and warm up in the oven.  Also good with a fresh baguette or on top of grilled chicken.

Simple, easy to make, takes no time and it will blow your mind.  Perfect for pot-luck, for snacks or for last minute gatherings.  It’s a great recipe to try all year long but definitely my favorite on any sunny day!  So make it now before summer ends and then let me know what you think!  Hope you’re all having a great week.  Next tomato recipe coming in a few days!

Goat Cheese Bruschetta

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be still my cheesecake

Hello long weekend, we’ve been waiting for you!  Although we pretty much stayed home -to relax- all weekend long, long weekends are just the best!  The boys just love spending an extra day with Brian at home.  We went for ice cream with our neighbors, had Thai food take-out, lounged in our pj’s for hours and then had diner at my in-law’s camping site.  On Saturday I bake some cakes and then made a CHEESECAKE… my favorite dessert EVER!  Beside my kids, who doesn’t love a good cheesecake?  If you don’t, well I’m sorry, but we just can’t be friends!!!  I’m sharing my go-to, no bake, easy, to die for cheesecake recipe.

A few years ago, I visited Quebec City with my mom for a few days and during a stroll near Chateau Frontenac, we found the most charming bistro.  And then I saw the most gorgeous looking cheesecake of my life.  And it was the best too!  Fluffy, airy, soft, just like how I imagine eating a cloud would feel like.  Since then, I’ve been on a mission to recreate that said cake.  Pretty sure I’m close now.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Here it goes!

What you need:

2 pkg cream cheese light, room temperature

1\2 cup sugar + 3 TBS

1 1/2 tub Cool Whip, thawed

1/2 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cup graham cookie crumbs

How to:

Using a 9 inches spring form pan, place the graham crumbs, 3 TBS of sugar and the melted butter.  Mix until all the crumbs are wet.  Spread evenly the mixture on the bottom of the pan to create and even layer.

With your electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and sugar, until soft and creamy, with no lumps.  Scrape the side of the bowl and mix again for a minute on high.  This will fluff the cheese mixture.  Add the Cool Whip, mix on MED speed for 2 minutes.  Spread the fluffy mix onto the crumbs crust.  Fill the pan and you’re almost done.  Put plastic wrap to cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.  Remove the side of the spring form pan.  Ready, set, eat!

This cake is amazing with any toppings.  I’ve used our freshly picked blueberries, made a coulis and served it warm on top of the cheesecake.  Also great with homemade warm caramel or with maple syrup and crumble maple leaf cookies.  My favorite topping is obviously raspberries, but any topping on this cheesecake will give you an awesome desert and will make you a happy; well it works for me!

Make it now and enjoy!

 

 

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take me out to the blueberry field

With an already jam packed weekend ahead, I decided that blueberry picking was in order on this beautiful Friday morning.

We used to live on the outskirt of our city, where we literally lived 3 minutes walking-distance away from a blueberry farm. It’s called Canaan Blueberries.  About 25 minutes from Ottawa. It’s a family operated berry farm on a few acre of beautiful land.  Once you enter the fields, you feel secluded from the world.  It’s quiet, and so delicious!

When we lived there, I use to take the boys in the stroller, park them in the field, and give them berries while I did the picking.  This year, they were ready to have own basket to fill, which they both dropped on the ground at one point; hence a small meltdown, oh well, we lived.

It was such a gorgeous day for berry picking.  We filled a basket for us and one for their Papi (AKA Frank!).  It took us just a little less than an hour, but you can easily fill yours in 20 minutes, if you can avoid distractions and meltdowns!!!  We will for sure go back next week.

Once we got home, we made some blueberry muffins and LEMONADE!  Oh, yes… blueberry lemonade.  And I have the recipe for you.

What you need:

SYRUP:

1 cup blueberries (fresh is best)

1\2 cup sugar

1\2 cup water

DRINK:

3 TBS lemon juice

3 TBS blueberry syrup

1 cup sprite or 7up

ice

How to:

Place water, sugar and blueberries in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from the stove and let it cool for 5 minutes.

I made this drink by the glass, but you could easily adjust the quantities for a pitcher.

In a large glass, place ice, lemon juice, blueberry syrup and top off with sprite.  Add a lemon slice, fresh blueberries and fresh mint to garnish.  This version is non-alcoholic, but add gin and you’ve got a party!

You will have plenty of the blueberry syrup… for about 10 drinks.  Store the leftover in the fridge and you can warm it up the next morning for your toast.  You’re welcome!

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homemade beaver tails, eh?

Beaver Tails… it doesn’t get more Canadian than this!  If you like them as much as I do, well I’ve got you covered.  I’ve made my first batch over Canada Day weekend and we’ve been craving them ever since.  Honestly, it’s kind of easy to do, you just need a bit of time to do it.  Topping possibilities are endless… and that’s really exciting!  So take some time this weekend and try them!

What you need:

1\2 cup warm water

2 packs of active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup warm milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

1\2 cup sugar

2 cups whole wheat flour

3 cups regular flour

1\3 cup vegetable oil

vegetable oil for frying

How to:

I always use my Kitchen Aid mixer with the hook attachment when making dough.  In the mixing bowl, add water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Let rest for a few minutes, until foamy.  Pour in the milk, sugar, vanilla, eggs, oil and salt.  Mix well with the hook.  Add in batches, the flour.  Mix until nothing sticks to the side of the bowl.

Use another bowl and cover with a bit an oil.  Take the dough from the mixer, knead a minute on a floured surface, then place in the oiled bowl. (I always preheat my oven at 175 and then turn it off and place the dough in, with a damp cloth on top).  Let rise until it doubled in size, between 45 minutes to an hour.

On a floured surface again, knead the dough gently and then roll it out in a rectangle with a rolling pin.  With a pizza cutter, slice the dough in small rectangle about the size of your hand.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cover while you prepare the rest.

Heat oil in a large pot.  You should have 4-5 inches of oil in the bottom of your pan.  One piece of dough at the time, stretch and shape in an oval or like a Beaver Tail.  Gently place in hot oil and fry until golden on both side, turning once.  Take it out, place it on a paper towel and repeat with all the dough.

I suggest doing this recipe with an helper (adult).  Do not let the kids play around you while you do this.  They will have plenty of time to have fun while topping their Beaver Tails later on!  As for my toppings… well I have a thing for Nutella, so obviously mine was chocolate with powdered sugar.  The boys had the classic cinnamon sugar (brush melted butter and mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with 1 cup of sugar).  Dip the buttered tail in the sugar and voila!  I’d say that maple butter, or jam or Dulce de Leche from Chocolats Favoris would also be pretty delicious.

You could easily divide this recipe.  It makes around 20 pieces of dough depending on the size of your Beaver Tails.  You can store them, without toppings, in an airtight container for a few days on the counter.

This is a great recipe for a party, where you could have a cute topping bar and where everyone could customize their own Beaver Tail!

So try this, it’s a winner!  Let me know about your favorite toppings, as I’d like to try them all!  Enjoy!

 

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bry’s sangria

Heeeello long weekend!  Well you know what? Although I’m off work for the next two months, summer long weekends are still simply the best!!!  So who’s ready to celebrate Canada 150th anniversary?  Got any plans this weekend?  Well if you do, you should definitely add this recipe to your drink diet on Canada Day.  And if you don’t, well don’t worry, any day of the summer months is a perfect day for my sangria.  Well, I should say Bry’s sangria!  It’s one for the books, apparently!  You will be making this every summer weekend, I swear.

It’s great anywhere, as long as it’s served on ice; but it’s definitely better when drank by the beach, in the pool or sitting on the patio!  For myself, I prefer it with a lots of ice and a side of fresh guacamole.

So it all started two years ago while on a road trip to Toronto and the Niagara region.  Can’t remember the restaurant we stopped at, but we stayed awhile ’cause the sangria was sooo good, according to my sister-in-law and Brian.  The waitress was the best and after many pitchers, she wrote down their sangria recipe for us on our bill (which Brian then modified to his taste, obviously adding more booze to it!)…

On any given summer weekend, you can surely find a double pitcher of this, waiting to be served to our guests.  Brian has been working on the recipe for a while, and he now thinks we have a winner.  So, stock up on the ingredients and make this on the next sunny day… hopefully sooner than later!

Bry’s Sangria

What you need:

1 bottle of white wine (we use Bodacious White for the high level of sugar)

4 oz. of Malibu Rum

3 oz. of Triple Sec or Cointreau

2 oz. of your favorite Rum

1 cup of pineapple juice

3 cups of raspberry lemonade

top with sprite

1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar (depending on the amount of sugar in the white wine)

fruits: lemon, lime, orange, raspberry and strawberry

How to:

Slice your fruits and squeeze some of the juice in the pitcher.  Add the sugar with the fruits in the pitcher.  Add all the liqueur and juices.  Stir.  Leave in the fridge for about an hour or two before serving.  Once cooled and ready to be served, add the ice, the sprite and mix well.  Serve over ice with some of the fruits.

Beware, two can EASILY get tipsy with only one pitcher.  So enjoy responsibly and have fun on this special day.  Happy Canada Day all!!!

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strawberry jam forever

It’s official, we’re on vacation.  And what did I do on my first day of vacation?  Wake up super early and went strawberry picking.  Dragged the boys, as I thought they would like it, but within 5 minutes they were already bored.  Turns out they really like jam but not as much working for it and picking up berries.

So I woke one minute before my usual 6:10 am alarm.  Way to go.  Lounged with the boys and then got ready to visit Les Jardins Lamoureux in Hawkesbury.  Jojo, Lulu and my Mom tagged along.  Within one hour we had 7 huge baskets filled to the brim.  It was a gorgeous morning, perfect weather, but boy, picking strawberries is not easy!  I will now have much more appreciation for the berries that I will buy at the store!

Logan had a meltdown.  He picked about 11 berries before he called it quit.  So I decided to fill his basket for him, but as soon as I started putting some in the basket, he started balling.  You can’t touch his food; I should have known better!  Well, nothing like a 4 years old meltdown in the middle of a strawberry field.  He kept on saying ‘I only want 11’.  Oh well, too bad.  I filled the rest of it!

We came back home and took our first summer vacation nap.  Two glorious hours of sleep and then waking up to the smell of strawberries in the entire house.  Heaven.

I think we made 5 batches of jam in a 12 hour period.  The boys didn’t liked the strawberry picking, but making the jam, they loved it… with all the licking and the sticky fingers and the happy faces.

I used a Club House envelop.  The recipe is on the packets but I’m sharing anyway!

No Cook Strawberry Freezer Jam

What you need:

4 cups of strawberries

1 1/2 cups of sugar

Club House Freezer Jam packet

Glass jars

How to:

Wash jars.  Chop the strawberries and place in a large mixing bowl.  Add sugar and mix.  Let stand for 15 minutes.  Even though they say not to, I blended the berries.  I’m not a fan of chunky jam.  So at this point, I used a hand held mixer and blended the berries.  Sprinkle the gelling powder and mix well for 3 minutes.  Let stand for 5.  Stir again before pouring in the jars.  Seal tight.  Store in fridge for up to 6 weeks or in the freezer for a year.

So now I think we have more jam than what we’d probably be able to eat over the next 3 years… so if you’re in a jam, drop by our place and pick up a jar!

I know what’s for lunch today: Strawberry sandwiches.  Our fav!  Now, if only the warm weather would cooperate it would actually feel like a vacation and I could enjoy some freshly picked strawberry outside by the pool.

Have an awesome week mylemondroplife followers!

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hello pesto

Oh pasta!  How I love you.

Yeah, it’s clearly one of my weaknesses!

Not sure why I hadn’t done this before, but for the first time last summer I made homemade pesto.  Basil, oil and cheese.  What’s not to love!

So easy, everybody can, and should, make this recipe instead of buying premade from the store.  The boys call this recipe ‘spaghetti vert’, and we all can’t get enough!

Summer is here and I’m planning on planting so much basil plants that my yard will smell Italian!

Meanwhile, buy your basil at your grocery shop and pesto away!

What you need:

1 cup of packed basil

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 pine nuts

2 gloves of garlic

salt and pepper

How to:

You need a food processor or a magic bullet type of thing.  Roast the pine nuts, watch them, they burn quickly and at that price, you don’t want to waste them!  Place everything the food processor and pulse.  It’s that easy!

I serve with pasta and steak on the side, but you can serve it over chicken, or with bread and charcuterie.  I would say it stores well in an air tight container for a month or so in the fridge.  It taste just like ‘summer in a jar’, so go buy some basil and try this next weekend.

Enjoy!

 

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