Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Raspberry Oatmeal Squares

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rapberry oatmeal squares

This is a simple treat I make quite often since the ingredients are all staples here at home. Raspberry is the most common flavour I make, but you can use your favourite jam. I even thought about making this with Nutella or dulce de letche. I bet it would be wonderful... If anyone decides to give it a try, I would love to know how it turned out! If you take your jam straight out of the fridge, it might be a little too hard to spread. A quick 5 seconds in the microwave should take care of that.

These oatmeal squares are best eaten the day they are baked, but they will keep well in an airtight container for a couple of days. They go very nicely with a cup of tea, perfect on a lazy afternoon.


Raspberry Oatmeal Squares Recipe:

makes about 25 squares

You will need:

1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

2 cups of rolled oats

1 cup of brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 sticks (1 cup) of cold butter

1 1/2 cup of raspberry jam


Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter a square 9 inch baking pan.

In a food processor, blend the flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut the butter into pieces, add to the food processor and pulse a few times until large crumbs form. Divide the dough in half.

Press one half of the dough into the prepared pan, covering the bottom and a little bit up the sides (about an inch).

Spread the jam over the dough evenly and cover it with the other half of the oatmeal dough by just sprinkling it overtop (do not press it).

Bake in the preheated oven f0r 55 minutes. Let it cool before cutting the squares.


raspberry oatmeal squares 1

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chicken Lasagna

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chicken lasagna

I have been thinking about my grandma a lot lately. She turned 87 last month. She doesn't cook anymore these days, but when she was younger, she was a wonderful cook and I would always look forward to eating her pastas and desserts. I always enjoyed spending time with my grandparents, but I regret not spending as much time with them in the kitchen. I could never imagine, back then, that cooking would be such an important part of my life. Because of that, I never got to see how my grandma prepared her legendary chicken lasagna... Now it's too late to ask, so this is my attempt to recreate it. The most important thing on a lasagna for me is the sauce. It has to be a white sauce, not ricotta cheese. For the filling, a nicely seasoned cooked chicken and tomato sauce will do just fine. Choose your favorite lasagna noodles. I use the "no-boil" ones, it's easier.

Chicken Lasagna Recipe:

makes 1 lasagna (9x13 inches)

You will need:

For the chicken filling:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

For the white sauce:

5 tablespoons of butter

4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

4 cups of warm milk

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

For assembling the lasagna:

1 package of lasagna noodles (I use the "no-cook" type)

1 lb of shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup of grated parmesan

Make the chicken filling:

Cook the chicken breasts in water along with the bay leaf until cooked through. Drain and shred the meat. In a large pan, heat the oil and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Mix in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, mix in the chicken and set aside.

Make the white sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium pot or pan. Add the flour and cook it until it's no longer raw, about 3 minutes, stirring. Add the warm milk slowly to the pot, whisking it constantly until all the milk is added and the sauce is smooth. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking until the sauce thickens it up enough to cover the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the stove and set aside.

To assemble the lasagna:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spoon some of the white sauce on the bottom of a large (9x13 inches) baking dish. Make one layer of lasagna noodles (4 sheets per layer), cover it with some of the chicken filling and top it with some mozzarella, then white sauce. Make sure the white sauce is spread evenly, specially on the sides of the dish, so you won't end up with dry edges. Keep making layers of noodles, chicken mozzarella and white sauce, finishing with the white sauce remaining. Top everything with the grated parmesan. Cover the lasagna dish with foil, being careful not to let the foil touch the sauce. Bake it for 40 minutes, remove foil and let it get golden and bubbly, 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and wait 10 minutes before cutting the lasagna.

* If using the type of lasagna sheets that don't require pre-boiling, like I did, make sure there is enough sauce to cover the entire lasagna, or it will be dry. If you think there is not enough white sauce, thin it out a little bit by adding more milk into it, a tablespoon at the time and whisking well after each addition. Re-season if necessary.

chicken lasagna 1

Sunday, October 4, 2009


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pretzel 2

I never thought making pretzels would be so easy and so much fun. I decided to make them for a German party last weekend and didn't have any idea what to expect. It turned out it was pretty straight forward to make and relatively fast too (there is a 1 hour resting time, but I suppose this could be shortened with quick rising yeast). The pretzels were delicious especially when still warm. My friend had some German sweet mustard that was wonderful with the pretzels. Now that I made my first batch of pretzels, I am thinking about experimenting and making sweet ones (I always loved the cinnamon and sugar ones at the mall...) or perhaps adding raisins to the dough, who knows.

Be sure to salt it well before the pretzels hit the oven otherwise then can come out quite bland in taste.

Pretzel Recipe:

makes 8 large or 16 small pretzels

You will need:

1 1/2 cups of warm water

1 tablespoon of sugar

2 teaspoons of salt

7 grams of active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups of flour

4 tablespoons of butter, melted

2/3 cup of baking soda

egg wash (egg and water beaten together)

salt (I don't have pretzel salt, so I used kosher salt)

Make the dough:

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl if making pretzels by hand), add the sugar, salt, warm water and yeast. Mix well and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it begins to foam. Add the butter and flour and mix (use the dough hook) until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and it looks uniform. Turn it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in volume.

When the dough is almost done resting, bring 2 quarts of water along with the baking soda to a boil in a large pot. You will boil the pretzels in it before they go in the oven, so make sure it's a pot large enough to hold one large pretzel at the time. Preheat the oven to high (450 degrees).

Lightly spray two baking sheets and a clean work surface with oil. Turn the dough into the oiled surface and dived it with a sharp knife (8 large ones or 16 small ones). Make a long log by rolling the dough back and forth on the surface with the palms of your hands. For large pretzels, it should be about 24 inches long and 12 inches if making small ones. Shape the pretzels by holding each end, twisting in the middle and attaching the ends to the bottom of the pretzels. Place pretzels in the oiled baking sheet. Carefully place one pretzel at the time in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Do not leave the pretzel in the water for more than 30 seconds or they will start falling apart.

Transfer each pretzel back to the baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle with salt and bake each baking sheet for about 10 minutes, or until pretzels are brown and puffed.

Enjoy warm with some sweet mustard!

pretzel 1