Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Daring Bakers do Nanaimo Bars

And lucky me…I grew up eating these!!!

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

I almost missed making these.  Something about them having to be posted on the 27th of the month just messes me up bad but with bold determination and severely lacking eyesight I forged ahead and got these done!!!

I knew I had to make the graham crackers first.  I had already decided that as interesting as it would be to do them gluten free I really didn’t have the time or the money to be hunting down ingredients I would only be using once so I cheated and made them with Whole Wheat Graham Flour and they really are delicious!!!  I made these this morning and it went off without a hitch.  Had them out of the oven and I was on my way to the eye doctor.  Well. by the time I got home I couldn’t see a thing.  He had tricked me a dilated my eyes.  I was virtually blind, but the DB Challenge must go on!!!  I cut the recipe and copied it and then made it REALLY, REALLY BIG so that I could at least make out the measures.  The whole time I am kicking myself for leaving it til the very last minute…:-(

Anyway…these turned out beautifully despite all of my self inflicted challenges and it brought back a lot of great childhood memories for me!!!

P1020442 These were taken after my eyes were dilated by the stupid eye doctor.  I was lucky to find the camera!!!

Graham Cracker Recipe (that I used) by Cupcake Project


4 T (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 egg
6 T sugar
4 T honey (Some graham crackers use half honey and half molasses. You might consider trying that as a variation.)
1/2 t baking soda
2 t water
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 C graham flour (If you can't get a hold of graham flour, there are plenty of graham cracker recipes that use regular whole wheat flour such as this graham cracker recipe from Baking Bites. You may also be able to directly substitute whole wheat flour in this recipe, but I haven't tested it and I make no promises.)
3/4 C all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the butter, egg and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in the honey and blend.
  4. Dissolve the baking soda in the water and add to the butter mixture.
  5. Add the salt, graham flour, and all-purpose flour to the mixture and blend thoroughly. The dough should hold together and be manageable. If it is too "tacky" add a little more graham flour.
  6. Liberally dust a surface with graham flour and roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. For convenience in handling, cut the rolled dough into three or four sections that will fit on your cookie sheet. (I am not good at rolling things out. It doesn't come up too often since I mostly make cupcakes. To make my life easier, I lined my cookie sheets with parchment paper and rolled the dough directly on the cookie sheets. That way I didn't need to worry about the dough breaking when I lifted it onto a cookie sheet.)
  7. With a knife, score the dough, without cutting through, into 2 1/2 inch squares. (Boring! Since your graham crackers are not store-bought, they don't have to be square. Use your cookie cutters to make them any shape you want!)
  8. Prick each square a few times with the tines of a fork. (I did this because those little pricks do make them look like graham crackers, whatever shape they are.)
  9. Using a spatula, place the sections of scored cracker dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. (I didn't have to do this since I rolled right on the cookie sheet.)
  10. Bake on the first side for 8 minutes, then turn the cracker over and bake for another 6 or 7 minutes. (Cheryl of Free Range Living said that she found that flipping wasn't necessary. I agree. I left out the flip step.)
  11. Remove from the oven and cool on racks. (They weren't quite crispy when I removed them. However, they hardened up as soon as they cooled.)

Here how is the recipe as it should have been done for gluten free:

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.


Nanaimo Bars


For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter


1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

Okay, I really loved these and despite all of my self inflicted trouble with them I would make them again and again!  Almost every family special occasion that we had we had the on the dessert table.  Such a treat to be able to make these myself.  Thanks Lauren for the opportunity and the reminder!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Orange-Cilantro Black Bean Salad

My Mom sent me an email today reminding me that I had not posted since last week some time…funny Mom! One of my problems is we are so busy that by the time I get to sit and eat I am so hungry and it is pitch black out. I have lights but am not satisfied with the pictures when I use them. Also my meals have been somewhat less than inspiring. Mostly based on what I have on hand and that hasn't really been anything fancy. But today I was flipping through sites and came across this recipe from Weight Watchers. It sounded wonderful and…I had everything on hand!!!


Orange-Cilantro Black Bean Salad (Weight Watchers Online)


1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium red onion(s), cut into thin wedges
2 medium garlic clove(s), finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 cup(s) canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 medium orange(s), peeled, segmented
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste


In a large skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; cook 1 minute more.

Stir in black beans and cook just until heated through. Transfer bean mixture to a medium-size bowl and stir in cilantro, vinegar and oranges. Season to taste and serve. Yields about 3/4 cup per serving.

***If you are counting points this is described as being 4 servings at 3/4 cup each. They give it 1 weight watchers point. Not bad for a filling lunch!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bloggers Unite for Haiti

image By now we all know about the devastation of Haiti right?  Can you imagine being here and not knowing if your loved ones are okay.  I felt like that for a brief hour on Tues night.  My sister was vacationing in Jamaica and at that point no one really new the extent of the 7.3 magnitude earthquake.  I ended up calling all over the place and finally got to her room and got an email from her saying that everything there was normal and it was business as usual. What a relief…for me. 

That doesn’t help the 3 million people that are in Haiti right now and that desperately need our help.  If you can find it in your heart to donate even a little bit (yes, once again, every little bit helps) these are some of the legit organizations that are offering relief…

* Text YELE to 501501 to contribute $5 to Yele Haiti.

* Text HAITI to 90999 to contribute to the Red Cross.

* Call Red Cross 1-800-435-7669 to make your donation to the Red Cross.

* Paypal Donation through Hope for Haiti

* Donate to Doctors Without Borders.

* In Canada, donations can be made by text message to the Salvation Army’s Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief relief fund. Donors can text the world “HAITI” to 45678 from any Rogers Wireless or Bell Mobility phone to contribute $5.00 to The Salvation Army.

I know how lean finances are for ALL of us right now... but even a small donation will help. If you can't donate money, donate some of your time and help spread the word to others on how they can help. Every little bit helps!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes

Wednesday is Farmer’s Market day for me.  This Wednesday I was lucky enough to find some nice green tomatoes mixed in with all of the beautiful ripe ones.  I bought some up and made us some Fried Green Tomatoes for a snack yesterday afternoon.  I kept it nice and simple because I knew the tomatoes would be delicious…


And they were…


Fried Green Tomatoes (Simply Recipes)


3 medium, firm green tomatoes
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
1/4 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
2/3 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


1 Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper. Let tomato slices stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour, milk, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes.

2 Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Dip tomato slices in milk, then flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 4-6 minutes on each side or until brown. As you cook the rest of the tomatoes, add olive oil as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Beef, Wild Mushroom and Barley Soup in (get this) my Crock Pot!!!

The other day I was going through my freezer looking for what I could pull out and use up this week. I found a round steak that was in there from last year when I had ordered a 1/4 of a cow (Happy Meat). For some reason this steak was never eaten, probably because it was just one and not enough to feed all four of us…Anyway I pulled it out and thawed it to make some Beef Barley soup. Well, we know how plans change and recipes morph into other things so here is what I came up with…


Beef, Wild Mushroom and Barley Soup in the Crock Pot


2 Tbs olive oil (more if needed)
1 1/2 lbs round steak or stewing beef, cut into bite sized pieces
1 lg onion (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped-I used the tops and all)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 cup dried wild mushrooms (rehydrated with boiling water and chopped)
2/3 cup red wine
10 cups of water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup pearled barley
1 tsp savory
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 tsp beef base (I use better than bouillon)


1. In a large pot heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the meat and brown well. Add more oil if needed. Remove the meat and place it in your Crock Pot (I used a 5 or 6 quart Crock Pot).
2. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the celery, onions and garlic and stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent and soft. Increase the heat to medium add the red wine to deglaze the pan (scrape the bottom to loosen the brown bits).
3. Add your onion mixture to the Crock Pot along with the mushrooms, water, and salt. Turn your Crock Pot on low and let cook for at least 5 hrs. About 1 hr before eating add the barley, thyme, white pepper and the savory and cook until the barley is cooked. Taste before serving and add beef base as needed.

***This was an absolutely delicious soup and it was even better the next day! Serve it with a nice slice of crusty bread and you have a fantastic week night meal!