Papaya Cheesecake Bars

Papaya Cheesecake Bars

I love working with less familiar ingredients. It provides a challenge in thinking up ways to use them, of how to showcase a flavor that isn’t natural on my palate. Sweet dishes always come in handy for your first try.  Butter, sugar and vanilla can do wonders to any creation.

Papaya Cheesecake Bars

Fresh papaya is new to me.  I’ve had it dried in trail mixes and on it’s own may times but dried is never a good gauge on flavor.  It’s just a concentration of sweet. Discovering it works really well with lime and being a rather delicate fruit I created these gorgeous bars for Produce Made Simple an amazing online resource to all things fruits and vegetables.  I’ve talked about this site before, easy to use, simple language and wonderful recipes to help add variety to your cooking.

Make sure to pop over to the site to see my Papaya Cheesecake Bars in all their glory. A delicate but sturdy shortbread crust, a soft, fluffy cheese cake center and delicate papaya jam topping.  And what is great about this recipe.  Each layer can be used in a million other bar variations.  The choices are endless. Check out my bars here.

Papaya Cheesecake Bars

Cream Puffs with Caramel Whipped Cream + A Virtual Family Bites Baby Shower

Cream Puffs (1 of 1)

Jan, from Family Bites is having a baby and we are celebrating food blogger style!

It is events like this that makes me love being a part of a Foodie community.  A group of talented writers, photographers and cooks coming together in such a way that all can celebrate a joyous moment in one of our fellow colleagues life.  There is no worries about not being available to attend or weather patterns that threaten to ruin the occasion.  And yet the surprise is even greater, in our virtual world as the day opens up and more and more congratulations are delivered to our friend.

You may remember me talking about the fabulous Jan during a post I wrote for the release of her new cookbook Gatherings in which she is a co-writer.  It was her simple to follow recipe for Cheese puffs that have made me an overly confident choux pastry master.  So of course the best treat I can bring to her virtual baby shower is my sweet variation, Cream Puffs with Caramel Whipped Cream and Chocolate Pretzel Top.  While they take a little bit time creating all the different components they come together beautifully in time for any party.  And while there ain’t no party like a food blogger party they will still be a sure fire hit.

Yields 24-36

Cream Puffs with Caramel Whipped Cream

Don't try to do everything at the same time. Make the puffs, and while they are cooling make the caramel cream. Finally melt the chocolate and assemble.

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  • For the Choux Pastry
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • For the Caramel Whipped Cream
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup whipping cream, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • For Assembly
  • 1 cup baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup pretzels, crumbled


  1. To make the Choux
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt until it becomes a rolling boil.
  3. Add the flour and stir constantly until dough forms a ball and becomes smooth and glossy.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper
  6. Once the dough is cool add it to the bowl of a stand mixer ( or you can do this by hand).
  7. Give it a few stirs to release the heat in the middle and then on low beat in each egg, one at a time until dough is smooth yet sticky. It should be stiff enough to stand but also soft enough to spread.
  8. Using a cookie scoop, place balls of dough onto prepared pans, smoothing edges with fingers if needed.
  9. Bake until golden and hollow sounding when tapped 25-35. Let cool.
  10. [b]
  11. To make the Caramel Whipped cream.[/b]
  12. In a saucepan over medium heat melt the sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon until it begins to turn a brown colour. Add the butter. (Careful it will bubble)
  13. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the cream and the salt. Keep stirring until it is smooth. Let it cool for at least 10 minutes, stirring it often to release the heat. You want it to be finger cool before proceeding.
  14. In a large bowl of your mixer whip 1 cup of the whipping cream until stiff peaks are formed. Pour in the caramel 1/4 at a time, re-whipping the cream until stiff. Keep adding the caramel until the whipped cream is flavoured the way you prefer.
  15. For assembly:
  16. Melt the baking chocolate in a small bowl over a pot of boiling water. This will slowly melt and prevent seizing.
  17. Slice the puffs in half. Top the bottom half with whipped cream.
  18. Dip the top half in the chocolate, shaking off any excess and place on the bottom half of the puff.
  19. Sprinkle with pretzel crumbs.
  20. If not serving right away these puffs can be stored in the freezer in an air tight container.

There is a whole gaggle of us celebrating Jan’s wonderful new addition to her family.  Make sure you check them all out.

Mardi from eat. live. travel. write made Blueberry Cheesecake Macarons

Julie from Dinner with Julie made Lemon Scones

Isabelle from Crumb: A Food Blog made Blackberry Meringue Bars

Jennifer from Seasons and Suppers made Baby Blueberry Beignets

Christina from Strawberries For Supper made Chocolate Madeleines

Aimée from Simple Bites made Roasted Turnip Hummus

Jenny from The Brunette Baker made Wild Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

Liliana from My Cookbook Addiction made mini-cupcakes

Carole from The Yum Yum Factor made Beet and Blue Cheese Canapes

Charmian from The Messy Baker made Piglet Muffins

Amy from Family Feedbag made Marmalade Cake

Brittany from My Daily Randomness made Caramel + Pumpkin Parfait

Meg from Sweet Twist of Blogging made Carrot Apple Loaf

Louisa from Living Lou made Maple Walnut Cookies

Libby from Libby Roach Photography made Butter Baked Good’s Peanut Butter Sandwich cookie

Robyn from Planet Byn made Milk & Cookies Shooters

Apple Bread Pudding with Dark Brown Sugar Sauce-And A Virtual Baby Shower!


Yay! Another one of my foodie girls is having a baby!  (Secretly I really love making these banners.)

So Christina over at Strawberries for Supper is being blessed with another adorable little man in the home and we couldn’t be happier.  We don’t really need any excuse to have a virtual party but when it’s for one from our tight knit little group we may go a little overboard.

Apple Bread Pudding

I met Christina just over a year ago after I was told to check out her blog from another foodie friend.  Funny thing was the current blog post was about growing up in a little Simcoe County town of Barrie.  Hey I grew up in Barrie. I quickly reached out to her on Twitter mentioning I was from the same town.  We discovered we went to the same high school. Our virtual conversation went like this.

Christina: Now the real question. High school grad year? I’m class of 1997 (I did OAC)
Me:I think it was 95 so long ago. I’m 37.
Christina: You might know my sister then. M**** ******
Me: Totally! This is so crazy.
Christina: I just texted her. She remembers you too. 🙂

Basically I went to school for several years with her sister and they actually lived around the corner from me.

What a small world.  What sucks though is discovering it now.  What fun times we could have had if I had only know her better ( We are two years apart with me being the older and wiser one and her being the younger and prettier lol) But since we can’t turn back time I can only relish in the fact that I know her now and having her as someone I can call a close friend totally rocks!

So please help me and my fellow foodie friends celebrate this amazing momma bear by wishing her well and enjoy the many delicious treats we made especially for her!

Check out what these fab ladies made:

Robyn at Planet Byn with her Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Caramel Squares.

Jenny at The Brunette Baker with her Apple Custard Tart.

Meg at Sweet Twist of Blogging with her Peanut Butter and Jelly Tarts.

Louisa at Living Lou with her Baklava.

Brittany at My Daily Randomness with her Grilled Peach Pavlovas.

And please enjoy this.

Yields 8-10

Apple Bread Pudding with Dark Brown Sugar Sauce
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  • 1 loaf soft white bread, cubed
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 5 apples, peeled and diced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • For the Sauce
  • 2 cups butter
  • 1 packed cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare one 13" x 9" baking dish or two oval casserole by greasing with melted butter.
  2. Place bread in a large bowl.
  3. In another large bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1/2 cup brown sugar and vanilla.
  4. Pour over bread and gently toss to coat. Place soaked bread into prepared pans.
  5. In a skillet over medium heat saute the apples, butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Stir occasionally until starting to caramelize and apples are still fork tender.
  6. Spread apples over top of bread and place in oven.
  7. Bake 40-45 minutes or until set. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean and dry. LEt cool before slicing
  8. To Make the Brown Sugar Sauce
  9. In a saucepan melt together the butter and brown sugar.
  10. Whisk in the whipping cream and vanilla and continue stirring until just beginning to thicken 2-3 minutes.

Nectarine Pie

Nectarine Pie

We all know that art of conversation is waning as technology improves and younger generations jump head first into the cesspool of social media. We express ourselves with “lol”, “lmao” and tiny little heads with varying degrees of raised eyebrows, open mouths and winking eyeballs.  We rush through messages with “U”, “R”, “TY” and any numeral that also represents a noun, pronoun or action word.  Platforms limit the number of characters we can use yet allow us to post important life defining events for all to see.

I’m not complaining.  I’m knee deep in all of these activities myself and am grateful for short and sweet interactions in my already busy life.

I do however find myself taking exception lately to one inappropriately verbose mannerism.  It has to do with compliments.  Not so much people’s inability to take a compliment; I think everyone I know has struggled with accepting an adulation without hemming and hawing over its validity.

“That cake is so delicious!”

“Love that colour on you.”

” Wow you are so talented”

….”Well…ummm….it really isn’t….it wasn’t……I’m not really …ummmm….well ……thanks?”

We all can do better at accepting compliments.  What some people really need to learn to do better is how to GIVE a compliment.

“This was a really great party but…”

“What a great choice but…”


The backhanded compliment.  A compliment that is not really that; a compliment.

Quick back story:

I planned an important dinner for over 30 people.  People with food allergies, religious requirements and animal source aversions.  The restaurant, bless their hearts, were extremely accommodating.  Phone conversations were a daily occurrence, menu adjustments regular and headaches abundant.  Part of the meal was extremely dependent on the number of guests so when the day of the meal the guest count went from, 32 to 29 to 30 to 24 in a matter of an hour you can imagine my stress. Long story short dinner was fabulous, people were happy, all was well. Until the next day came.

“Great restaurant choice but…”

” The meal was great but…”

” Thanks so much for organizing this but..”

By the fourth or fifth back handed compliment I finally threw up my hands and declared “NEVER AGAIN!!!”

People have forgotten what a full stop is.

“Great restaurant choice…” STOP!

” The meal was great …” SSSH!

” Thanks so much for organizing this..” ZIP IT!

By paying someone a compliment and following it with a criticism you  are negating the positivity around your exclamation.  It is no longer a compliment!  Don’t tell me it’s constructive criticism. That’s for making improvements on a situation that can be improved.  I can’t change the fact that the restaurant was too noisy, too crowded, or too dark the day after the event.  By telling me everything that was great about the event in a sentence with what was wrong is the same as a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.  In the end it’s still shit!  Everyone can have their opinion on things but don’t warm me all up with the niceties to only tear apart my insides with cold butter. Don’t waste my time.  Not everyone was like this.  Over half of the people who went complimented me with a full stop at the end.  And don’t think I am writing this because I need self-assuredness about everything I do.  I know I’m awesome!


And do you know what garnered lots of really authentic, full stop compliments.  This pie! Not one “…but I wish it were peach.”  Nectarines don’t have this problem.

Yields 8-10

Nectarine Pie

This pie is going to be really juicy. If you want a drier pie, halfway through cooking remove from oven and carefully pour out liquid.

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  • 2 pie shells, store bought or homemade
  • 6 nectarines, pits removed, sliced
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp butter, cubed
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a pie with one of the shells.
  3. In a large bowl combine the fruit, sugars, and vanilla.
  4. Pour filling into bottom of pie shell.
  5. Dot the top of the filling with butter.
  6. Place the second shell on top either whole or in the lattice design. (if using whole crust make sure you cut slits into the dough to vent)
  7. Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg to get a golden brown crust.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until crust is golden.
  9. Let cool before serving.





Mini Apple Galette’s with Brown Sugar Cider Sauce + The Niagara Craft Beer Festival

Right now at this very moment my house smells like booze. If the step kids were here, probably not a good idea but since I’m all alone with the house to myself things just got real.

It also smells like apples and cinnamon and pie crust but really what’s most important here?  And why, you ask, does my house smell this way.  Because of these.

Apple Galettes

Kicked up, boozy adults-only apple galettes.  Now you get it!

I’ve been wanting for a while to create something using the currently popular alcoholic ciders on the market and after talking with the owner of the Brickworks Ciderhouse and trying his refreshing product back in the Spring at an event I knew this was the drink for me. There are a lot of brands of cider on the market and it may be hard to choose which one to purchase but trust me when I say you can’t go wrong here.  Small batch, hand crafted cider from a company hoping to repurpose the old orchard around the Evergreen Brickworks for their own apple source.  But until then apples used in each of their batches never travel more than 300 kilometers meaning local and sustainable.

Apple Galettes

Craft is a word you hear loosely thrown around beer drinkers and you may be completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of brewers out there. It is a term generally used to describe beers made by a small, independant brewers using traditional means to create great tasting beer.  Simple.  And the best way to navigate through all the varieties?  Attend a beer event like The Niagara Craft Beer Festival being held at Montebello Park in St. Catherines August 22-24. With more than 20 vendors on site you can taste to your hearts content and I can 100% guarantee you will find at least one new beer you will absolutely love.  I’ve been to many beer events like this one and thanks to cheap and small sample sizes I have stocked my fridge with an abundant variety to drink over the summer.

Another great thing about Craft Beer Festivals is it usually brings out some stellar food vendors that offer up eats that always pair well with a cold one.  And to top everything else you can enjoy live music from artists like The Trews and USS while enjoying all this great food and drink.

This is how recipes like this happen.  By attending beer festivals and sampling new and sometimes eccentric flavors my taste buds begin conversations with the recipe developer in me and before you know it my house smells like booze.

And one last thing.  My rule when cooking with alcohol: always serve it with the dish for maximum taste.  If it’s good enough to go in the dish, it’s good enough to serve along side it.

Yields 6

Mini Apple Galette's with Brown Sugar Cider Sauce + The Niagara Craft Beer Festival

Frozen pastry shells can be substituted if you are not comfortable with making you own dough.

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  • For the Galettes
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 5-6 tbsp cold water
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced ( I used Granny Smiths)
  • 1/4 cup Brickworks Cider
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • For the Cider Sauce
  • 2 cups Brickworks Cider
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar


  1. To make the Galettes
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and sugar.
  3. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until flour resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Adding a tablespoonful at time stir in the water until the dough begin to come together and form a rough ball of dough. Store in fridge until ready to use.
  5. In another bowl stir together the apples, cider, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. To make the mini galettes separate the dough into 6 even sized pieces.
  8. Using a rolling pin roll out the dough into 6" round circle. (you can use a bowl to get the shape and size you want.
  9. Arrange the apples in a pretty spiral in the center of the dough, or simply pile them in the middle making sure a 1" edge is maintained. Fold the edges up and on to the apples leaving the center open faced. Repeat with remaining dough and apples.
  10. Brush the edges with the egg white and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. They are ready when the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven.
  11. While the galettes are baking, make the Cider Sauce.
  12. In a saucepan over med-high heat bring the cider to a boil until reduced by half.
  13. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch, butter and brown sugar and bring everything to a boil, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes and the sauce has thickened.
  14. You can serve the galettes warm or cold and drizzled with the warm sauce.
Recipe Type: Dessert

*Disclaimer- This is a sponsored post.  I was asked to create a recipe using any of the beer vendors participating during the Niagara Craft Beer Festival. Had I not been asked I still would have created this eventually!

Blogiversary Guest Post: Mixed Berry Quinoa Almond Crumble (Gluten free) By Sweet twist of Blogging

Ohhh the week is winding down and it’s been so amazing!  My friend Meg from Sweet Twist of Blogging share a love for all things Jimmy Fallon. Llose several hours a day watching YouTube clips kind of love.  There is nothing better than being friends with someone who has the same sense of humour as you? And who can break out into a rendition of Tight Pants?

And she has totally made my day with this crumble. Like if Jimmy did #hashtags and lip sync battle every single night.

Mixed Berry Quinoa Crumble

Happy Blogiversary!! 

I love how we have all come together as friends when most of us never met at the conference.  All this time we were all in our seperate blogging lives and now we strive to have monthly dinners and gatherings to explore the world of food and blogging.    My hubby even sometimes says, “didn’t you just see them?”  Ha.  No!  I don’t see them enough.   

I love the themes of the Tasty Gardener.  It makes me jealous I am not that organized to do fun things like that and hungry because everything always looks so good.  I always just want to go on binges of those foods after words. I still dream about making those pretzels.  Thanks for including me in your Blogiversary week.  Keep up the great work and I look forward to the future themes and our next adventure.   

Mixed Berry Quinoa Almond Crumble (Gluten free) By Sweet twist of Blogging
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  • Fruit Mixture
  • 4-5 cups chopped/sliced mixed berries - (I used strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Crumble Mixture
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2-2/3 cup unsalted butter, start with 1/2 and add more if needed to bring it together or how buttery you like it.


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, mix together fruit. Top with sugar, cinnamon, flour and cornstarch and toss together to coat the berries. Place in a 9x13 casserole dish.
  2. In another large bowl combine brown sugar, ground almonds, quinoa, flour and cinnamon. Mix together.
  3. Add butter in chunks and cut in with your hands to bring together.
  4. Add sliced almonds and toss in with the crumble mixture.
  5. Cover the mixed berry mixture with the crumble mixture, mixing in a little bit into the berries.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven to 350F and bake for another 25-30 minutes until the top is a deep golden brown.
Recipe Type: Dessert



Monkey Bread

Pull apart breads are a great party option.  Having a group of people sitting around a table reaching and grabbing to get pieces of this delicatable dessert always results in jokes, laughs and great memories.

Serves 1/8

Monkey Bread
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  • 3 cans Pillsbury biscuit dough
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey or agave nectar


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a bundt pan with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large zip lock bag.
  3. Cut the biscuit into 4 pieces.
  4. Roll each piece into a ball and place in cinnamon sugar.
  5. Coat the balls of dough with the sugar.
  6. Place dough in prepared pan.
  7. In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter, brown sugar and honey.
  8. Drizzle the butter mixture over the top of the dough balls.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
  10. Let stand for five minutes then invert onto serving plate.
Recipe Type: Dessert

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large zip lock bag.

Cut the biscuit into 4 pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball and place in cinnamon sugar.

Coat the balls of dough with the sugar.

Place dough in prepared pan.

In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter, brown sugar and honey.

Drizzle the butter mixture over the top of the dough balls.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.So i wanted to show you a picute of the finished product however when I put it out for guests at a dinner party and turned my back for maybe 5 minutes to grab my camera it was almost completely devoured.  Maybe next time I’ll shoot first, serve later.

Mixed Berry Parfait

Serves per glass

Mixed Berry Parfait

A french parfait is traditionally a frozen custard dessert of eggs, sugar, whipped cream and fruit served on a plate. An American parfait is usually served in a parfait glass and consists of layers of pudding or yogurt, whipped cream and fruit. There is no real rhyme or reason to layering a parfait, that is all up to the creator.

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  • pudding
  • fruit
  • whipped cream


  1. Fill the glass 1/4 full of pudding
  2. Top with 1/4 berries.
  3. Add more pudding.
  4. Top with more berries
  5. Finish with Whipped cream
Recipe Type: Dessert


I don’t have parfait glasses so i like to use wine glasses instead. It’s the layering effect that you want to see.

Start by filling the glass 1/4 full of pudding/yogurt.

Top with berries.

More Pudding.

More berries.

Finally the whipped topping.

You can change this up with different flavours of pudding or yogurt and different fruit. The possibilities are endless.