The Best Cheesecake

Biting into a piece of delicious cheesecake is the closest thing to heaven you will ever experience in your life.

My friend demanded I post this recipe as soon as possible. She even suggested I create a category called “mental health” in which this recipe would go. I quite like that idea because, whether you admit it or not, you feel mentally wonderful when you eat your favourite food! I also think that you will go crazy if you only eat healthy food the rest of your life!

Not all of my recipes on the blog will be healthy because I want the blog to represent my lifestyle. I eat healthy most of the time, but I allow myself to indulge in the treats and sweets I love when I have a craving for them. The trick is to eat everything in moderation.

But let me tell you, it’s pretty difficult to eat this cheesecake in moderation….

This is one of my staple desserts. I found the recipe in a children’s cookbook written by Williams-Sonoma  and I can’t recommend it enough! It’s pretty simple (although you have to make it the night before) and it knocks the socks off every person I know! Yes! Even those who hate cheesecake admit that it’s tasty. Friends have begged me to make it, and a few have shed tears of joy when they tasted it for the first time (they didn’t actually cry, but I know they wanted to).

For one cheesecake, you will need:

Crust

1/2 cup butter

2 cups Graham cracker crumbs

3 tbsp sugar

9 inch springform pan

Filling

4 rectangle packages (8 ounce each) of cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tbsp flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tbsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

For the crust:

Melt the butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds, or until it has melted completely (duh).

Put in a large bowl and add your graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Mix well and scrape them into your pan.

Take some saran wrap and place on top of the crumbs. This will make the spreading of the crumbs much easier. Spread them all over the bottom of the pan and 2 inches up the sides of the pan.

Refrigerate the crust.

For the filling:

Preheat oven to 300 F.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer (or a kitchen aid mix master) to beat the cream cheese, flour, and salt. Do this until it looks fluffy.

Add sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, once again.

Add the eggs one a time, beating all the time.

Make sure to scrape down the bowl once in a while because it is inevitable that your ingredients will want to crawl out of the bowl. Don’t let them!

Take the crust out of the fridge and pour the filling in the pan.

Bake for 65 to 70 minutes.

When it looks ready, nudge the pan: if it jiggles in the middle, you’re good.

Now if your cheesecake cracked at the top, that’s pretty normal. I have yet to make a perfect looking cheesecake.

Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool completely.

Refrigerate overnight.

When it is time to serve the cheesecake, loosen the clasp of your springform pan and remove it.

Here’s a tip: if your cake is very cold, your pieces will not be pretty when you cut them. You may want to run your knife under some hot water each time you cut the cake.

Place the cake on a plate.

Decorate with strawberries or fruit coulis.

Taste.

Permission to die and go to heaven. You’re welcome.

 

Gluten Free Pouding Chomeur

Tis the season to eat maple!

March is Maple time! I love maple, I really do. I also love desserts. I therefore ADORE maple desserts!

For all you non Canadians out there, let me explain to you what the maple season entails in the province of Quebec.

Traditionally, the places in the country that have many maple trees and produce lots of maple syrup have a shack. That shack is called a sugar shack, or “cabane à sucre” in French. There, people from all around indulge in traditional Quebec food.

Eggs, ham, beans, pea soup, potatoes and bread, all of it smothered in maple syrup. The desserts include sugar pie, maple candies, and my personal favourite: pouding chomeur or “lazy man’s pudding” as anglophones have translated it to.

It is a vanilla cake that has been baked with maple syrup in it. Served with ice cream, it is heaven in a bowl.

The vanilla cake recipe was found on Allrecipes, a great website.

For all you gluten intolerants out there, now you can finally enjoy it!

For 12 people, you will need:

3/4 cup rice flour

1/3 cup tapioca

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp flax meal

2 eggs

3/4 cup cane sugar

1/3 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven at 350 F.

Grease an 8 inch cake pan with butter.

Mix rice flour, tapioca, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and flax meal in a bowl.

Mix eggs, sugar and yogurt until fluffy.

Add flour mix, milk, vanilla and mix well.

Spread batter in pans.

Drizzle the cake with maple syrup.

Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake springs back.

Let it cool.

Serve it with one scoop of vanilla icre cream.

OR

If you want to be truly truly healthy, take a individual container or vanilla greek yogurt. Stick a toothpick in it and put it in the freezer for at least 3 hours.

Now, try to take the yogurt out of the container (tis no easy task) and serve it with your pouding chomeur.

Try not to devour it in seconds, I dare you. Easier said than done.

Enjoy!

Beet and Feta Salad

I was not always a big vegetable fan. In fact, I really wasn’t. I liked carrots, broccoli,corn and peas. But then I grew up, and I realized just how delicious vegetables can be! I have to thank my mother for that: she always cooked healthy, nutritious meals with at least one vegetable in it or served on the side.

This salad is the fruit of my mother’s culinary imagination, and I have decided to share with you all, with her permission of course.

This salad is delicious with pecans in it, but that’s just an option. It’s an ideal side for beef or chicken, or as a lovely and colourful lunch.

For 4 people, you will need:

4-6 beets

1/2 cup reduced sodium feta, crumbled up

Arugula

Salt

Pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

Pecans (optional)

First, you will need to cook your beets. You can do so in the microwave.  Put them in a corning ware and heat them 5 minutes at a time. I cannot tell you exactly how long the beets will take to cook because it depends on their size. Go at it 5 minutes at time and pierce them with a fork. Once they feel soft, you can take them out, peel them with a knife, and let them cool.

Now, combine the arugula and the olive oil in your salad bowl.

Once the beets are cooled, dice them and add them on the arugula.

Sprinkle the feta on the top of the salad.

Decorate with pepper. You may not need any salt because feta is quite salty on its own.

Enjoy! xx

 

 

Grilled Goodness

You know those people who say “don’t ever eat cheese or butter because you’ll get fat just by looking at them”? Well, they’re wrong. Not entirely, because it’s true that too much butter and too fatty cheeses are not all that good for you. That being said, if you live a life of moderation, as you have surely started or continued doing after reading my blog, you know that a little bit is fine. And guess what? You’re right!

If you can find cheese that contains less than 20% m.f. (milk fat), you can eat up to 60 g of it as one serving! If the cheese is grated, that’s about 2/3 of a cup, which is a lot, trust me.

If you really want your favourite cheese, have 30 g of it.

Now as far as butter goes, you could have a teaspoon of it. I know what you’re thinking….” are you ****ing kidding me? “. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. BUT consider this: my recipe calls for melted butter, so a teaspoon of melted butter might look like more since it’s melted! Feel better? Good.

Another option is to not drink milk or eat yogurt that day and have as much cheese you’d like because you know that you won’t be having any other milk product in the day. Life is not about restrictions, it’s about enjoying yourself! Don’t kill yourself over the fact that you may have had a little too much cheese that day; you’ll be healthy tomorrow or you’ll know to have a little less next time.

You don’t have to follow my advice at all: all I ask is that you respect my words without taking anything personally (how politically correct, I know).

I love apples. They’re juicy, they’re sweet yet tangy at the same time, and they keep the doctor away! What more could you ask out of a fruit? That being said, after the apple crisp, the apple pork chops, the caramelized apples, and the applesauce, you’re bound to run out of ideas as to how you could cook your apples…until now.

What does everybody (and by everybody I mean everybody who is not lactose intolerant) love? Grilled cheese! It’s the simplest thing to make, unless you only eat cereal and toast.

Grilled cheese is one of those dishes where if you have a little imagination, you can easily turn it into a gourmet meal. Some put brie cheese, others add truffle oil; I add apples to mine. That’s right! The sweetness of the fruit combined with the creaminess of the cheese is a treat for the palate. Great, now I sound like a food snob right out of a Woody Allen movie. Oh well.

Here’s what you will need for 2 sandwiches (I’m guessing you’ll be cooking for a friend):

4 slices of whole wheat or whole grain bread (preferably with a nice crust)

4 to 6 ounces of low fat shredded cheese (any cheese is good )

1 apple, peeled and sliced (Granny Smith, Royal Gala, McIntosh…whichever tickles your fancy)

1 tbsp. of melted butter

Lay your four slices of bread one next to the other. Spread some butter on one side of each slice; season with salt or pepper. Now, turn 2 slices over, so that the dry side is facing up, and add the apples on both slices (one for each sandwich). Add the cheese on the apples. Voilà!

Now finish your layering with the remaining slices: put the dry side on the cheese.

The butter right on the pan will allow the sandwich to cook; if your butter if facing the cheese, that’s fine, but your grilled cheese will either burn or not melt well. Heat your pan for about a minute or until you think it’s hot (a Panini press works too).

Now you must carefully transfer your soon-to-be-moist-and-delicious grilled cheeses on the pan (it’s an art, I assure you). Cook them for 6 to 8 on minutes on medium heat until the cheese seems melted to your liking, flipping halfway (not necessary if you’re using a Panini press). 

Serve them immediately, because if you don’t, they won’t be as delicious. Point final.

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

No fancy title for these little guys. Sometimes, simplicity is better.

That’s how I feel about chocolate chip cookies. No matter how much you go out to restaurants or no matter how much you love to cook over the top delicious meals for your friends and family, you won’t say no to a warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven. With a glass of cold milk, your hand is just waiting to dunk that cookie.

It’s human nature…almost.

These cookies are completely good for you! Not too much sugar, just enough butter (because yes, your body does not some fat) and lots of flavour! You can substitute the flour for gluten free flour if you’re going gluten free.

To make 24 beautiful cookies, here is what you need :

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup rice flour

2 tbsp flax meal

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

salt

1 egg

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla extract (or maple syrup)

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Butter a cookie sheet.

Mix the cornstarch, flours, flax meal, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Whisk together your egg, vanilla and sugar.

Stir in into the flour mixture.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop about one tablespoon of your dough into a ball. Do that 24 times.

Bake your cookies in the centre of the oven until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes. The cooking time may vary depending on the oven).

Let cool or enjoy on the spot.

Coconut Crusted Chicken

How I came across my inspiration for this recipe is quite funny:

I used to volunteer at a children’s library, which, when it is not toddler rush hour, can be rather quiet. I decided to walk around and look at all the books the lovely library had to offer.

I came across a series of parenting magazines, that, as it turns out, have amazing recipes! This was once of the first ones I saw and I knew I had to try and make my own version. Here it is!

To make enough for 4 people, you will need:

2 chicken breasts

1 tbsp canola oil

Salt

Pepper

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt

Honey

Juice of half a lemon

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Wash chicken under cold water. 

Cut chicken into strips. Put in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to your liking and coat your chicken. 

Take a Ziploc bag. Put the garlic powder and coconut in it and shake. 

Now comes to fun part. Put the chicken in the bag of flavour and shake it well, making sure that all of the pieces are well coated. You may need to do this in 2 or 3 batches. 

Bake the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes, turning halfway through. 

To make your sauce, simply add all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix. 

Serve your chicken with a simple green salad. 

Enjoy!

Eggplant Fries

Oliver Twist once asked: “Please Sir, may I have some more?”.

Those famous words are all I feel like saying when I finish a plate of these eggplant fries.

French fries, pommes allumettes, frites, papas…. So many languages all trying to show their love for the same dish.

Although I consider pasta as my main comfort food, french fries are not far behind….when they’re well made. There is nothing I hate more than biting into a frie with little taste or worse; when it only tastes of grease.

As much as I would love to say that this recipe came straight from my head, tis not true. It’s actually thanks to a friend of mine. We were walking down the street and she said: “Tonight, I’m having eggplant fries for dinner”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was like a call from the heavens. I immediately asked her for the recipes, but I forgot it many times. Thankfully, she calmed sent me the recipe over and over again, until finally, I said to myself: “You really must write this down”. So I did.

I literally cannot get enough of these.They are baked with breadcrumbs and parmesan, and they taste wonderful with the dip. Serve them with….just about anything! I literally cannot get enough of these.

The best part? They are RIDICULOUSLY easy to make.

Enough said.

Ingredients:

1 eggplant

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

5 tbsp parmesan cheese

Salt

Pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Beat your eggs in one bowl.

Combine flour, salt, pepper, and Parmesan in another bowl.

Cut the eggplants into strips. They can be as fine or as thick as you’d like, but remember: if they thin, they must be baked for less time or they will burn!

Dip your eggplant pieces in the egg and then in the dry ingredients. Make sure you cover them well or they will not be as tasty. 

If you need to add more breadcrumbs halfway, that’s normal. 

Place the eggplant on 2 non stick cookie sheets.

Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway. 

While they are baking, prepare your dipping sauce:

Mix 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt with 3 tbsp of garlic powder.

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa Concoction

Quinoa? For brunch? I know, it’s not exactly your first thought when you think of you what will make for breakfast with your friends. You think of pancakes, quiche, eggs, fruit, toast but, for some reason, quinoa never comes to mind, yet it’s such a versatile ingredient! The fact that it has a plain taste makes it really easy to cook something original with it.

I personally adore going out for brunch, but I always find it frustrating when people make little to no effort to serve something different. Granted, if someone came to me with frog’s legs toast served with cinnamon ketchup hollandaise sauce and blood pudding flavored scrambled eggs, I would be a little skeptical to try it. That being, said, jumping out of your comfort zone is not that bad once in a while.

If you love that cinnamon raisin smell in the morning, this recipe is right up your alley. En plus, it’s healthy! Quinoa is a wonderful ingredient; high in protein, gluten-free, filled with riboflavin (helps reduce migraines) and low in calories, who could ask for anything more!

I was inspired by a few recipes I found on Yummly. If you don’t know this website, you really should. You enter an ingredient or a food and it gives you tons of different recipes to choose from! It’s like a culinary Pinterest, but it’s better!

The aromas in the kitchen are bewitching. You’ll want to make this every weekend, trust me.

Personally, I would serve this dish as a side dish to eggs because it brings a sweet taste to a savoury meal…but that’s just my humble opinion.

For a large portion to bring to brunch, you will need:

1 cup dry quinoa

1 ½  cups water

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup raisins

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup pecans

1 red apple, chopped

Combine the water, quinoa, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan and let it boil. Reduce your heat to simmer and let it cook for 15 minutes, or until quinoa seems fluffy.

            Put the cooked quinoa in a bowl and stir in the applesauce, pecans, raisins, and apple. Sprinkle the top with some cinnamon and let sit for 30 minutes.  Enjoy! Your guests will either love it for its originality and taste, or hate the idea, but in the end, even they will love it too.

Curry in a Hurry

Everybody enjoys a good Thai curry once in a while; even the ones who haven’t tasted it love it, they just don’t know it yet. It’s as comforting as a bowl of soup and it has that lovely little Asian kick to it. It is simply delicious; voilà tout.

You’re probably thinking that it must be really hard to make and that if you ever tried to cook a curry, it would taste like liquid soap. Wrong again my friend! This curry recipe is really quite simple, even though the ingredient list is a little long. None of these ingredients are the kind you can only find in Asian grocery stores; I bought mine at a very Western grocery store. Make sure to make enough to have leftovers! It makes a delightful packed lunch for the next day.

There’s a big debate on whether or not coconut milk is good for you or not. The truth is that it has TONS of saturated fat , which is not for your health. That being said, millions of people in the world swear by it, so there definitely are benefits to using it. If you can find light coconut milk, it will make this dish healthier. If not, just don’t make it everyday. That being said, I still consider it as being healthy, so don’t worry too much about it.

Quick tip: if you’re ever wondering what the health benefits of certain foods are, check out Livestrong. It’s a wonderful website that gives you tons of information of various nutrients and exercises! The best part is that there is a list of references at the end of each article, so you know that they’re not making this stuff up!

Thanks to the amazing Nigella Lawson and her cookbook, Nigella Express. She has tons of quick recipes for busy busy bees. It’s an excellent investment!

Ingredients

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil (you need this if you want it to taste amazing)

1 onion, chopped

1 ½ tbsp. red Thai curry paste

½ 400 ml can of coconut milk

250 ml chicken broth

2 tsp. fish sauce

2 sweet potatoes, chopped in cubes

1 cup butternut squash chopped in cubes

1 package of frozen uncooked shrimp

1 tsp. lime juice

¾ cup diced mango

Before you can make the sauce, you must let your shrimp unthaw a little if you bought the kind with shells. Here’s how: place your shrimp in a large bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Let them sit there for 15 to 30 minutes. Afterwards, get ready to have cold hands. Take each shrimp out of the bowl and remove the shell, and then put the shrimp back in the bowl. Yes, it will hurt.

            Heat your oils in a deep frying pan, and fry the onion for a minute. Add curry paste. Next, mix in the coconut milk, chicken stock, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil (wait until you see lots of bubbles); add butternut squash and sweet potato and simmer over the heat for 15 minutes. Make sure the pan is partially covered.

            Drain your freezing cold shrimp, pat them dry and add them in the pan. Now let the sauce come back to a boil. When that time comes, add the lime juice and mango; cook for one minute or until the shrimp are cooked. It is very important not to overcook shrimp because if you do, they will taste like rubber, and your friends will stop coming over. You have been warned.

You have now mastered the art of Thai curry preparation. Place your feast in a bowl, serve with rice or anything that comes to mind, and enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Miracle Muffins

I don’t know about you guys, but I find that the combination of banana and chocolate is one of the best in the world. The two ingredients complement each other beautifully; they’re both sweet, but for some magical reason, they don’t overpower each other.

I also love muffins, but I get frustrated at how unhealthy muffins can be when they come from a café. They are either loaded with sugar, with fat, or with both. That doesn’t mean that they are not delicious (because they are), it just means that having one everyday could potentially harm your efforts to be healthier.

These bad boys are amazing and full of flavour. Why do I call them miracle muffins? The answer is simple: because of the way they taste. They’re too good to be true. When I bit into the first one, I thought to myself: “This is one the best muffins I have ever taste”. I almost didn’t believe they healthy…almost.

They’re sugar free and you can easily change the flour to make them gluten free. You can eat one a day until you are left with none without feeling guilty or bloated whatsoever! They’re great as a quick breakfast on the go or as an afternoon snack.

To make 12 large muffins (or 24 smaller ones), you will need:

3 bananas, ripe and mashed

1 cup flour

¾ cup almond butter (or any nut butter of your choice)

3 eggs

1 tbsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 350 degree F.

Line your muffin tins with paper cups.
Combine all of your dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Whisk the bananas and eggs together.  Add the almond butter.

Now, fold the banana mixture into the dry mixture and mix well.

Add the chocolate chips.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on how mushy you like the inside to be.

Take them out of the oven and allow yourself to be intoxicated by the smell. Grab a hot one, pour yourself a glass of milk, bite into the muffin, and listen to the angels sing.

Bon appétit!