Isabelle Boucher
http://www.crumbblog.com/
Hometown:
Montreal, QC, Canada
Location:
Toronto, ON, Canada

About Me: My mother sometimes jokes that I was born with my mouth open, and haven’t closed it since… and in a sense, that’s probably true. Over the years, I may have outgrown my EasyBake oven and moved on to something a little more powerful, but I’ve never lost my passion for food – making it, talking about it, eating it, and sharing it. (Washing the dishes afterwards, though? Not so much.)

I find inspiration for my recipes in any number of places – meals I’ve eaten at my mother’s table, in trendy restaurants or during my travels, fond memories of childhood favourites, spontaneous cravings, produce stands and farmers’ markets. All those things come together in my blog, Crumb, where I share original made-from-scratch recipes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients and baked goods filled with shameless amounts of butter and sugar.

When I’m not making a mess in the kitchen, you'll usually find me curled up with a good book or my latest knitting project, catching up on the latest episode of Glee, or out exploring the city with my camera in hand.

Recipes Posted by Isabelle Boucher:

I’m not much of a morning person, so it’s not unusual for me to end up grabbing a quick breakfast on my way into work. The only problem with that approach is that most of the options available to me are pretty unhealthy – they’re either full of sodium, full of sugar, full of fat, or all of the above.
Which is why this make-ahead oatmeal is so fantastic. I just need to set aside a half-hour during the weekend to cook up a big batch of steel-cut oats and portion it out into heat-proof mason jars, and then it’s as easy as grabbing a jar as I’m dashing out to work in the morning.

I try to change up the flavors from one week to the next, just for the sake of variety, but this combo of banana and peanut butter shows up frequently in the rotation. I like the touch of sweetness and spice that the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl peanut butter adds, but feel free to switch up with your favorite Peanut Butter and Co flavor!

Yes, I know. Everyone knows that maple and bacon are a fantastic combination, but maple and bacon and peanut butter? Trust me, it’s not nearly as strange as it sounds. In fact, it’s downright delicious, especially when all of those flavors are combined together in a tender cake donut. (Because… well… everything tastes better in donut form.)

Mighty Maple peanut butter does double-duty in this recipe, appearing both in the tender maple-peanut butter donuts, and again in the sweet peanut butter frosting. Add a sprinkling of bacon bits and you’ve got yourself a mapley, bacony, peanut buttery treat that’s hard to resist.

These easy no-bake cookies are both healthy and delicious, with loads of good-for-you ingredients like rolled oats, dried fruits, peanuts and coconut. (Oh okay, and some chocolate chips, too… but isn’t dark chocolate supposed to be good for you?)

The recipe is also really easy to customize based on your preferences. Use your favorite Peanut Butter and Co. flavor, and pair it up with your favorite combination of dried fruits – think Cinnamon Raisin Swirl with golden raisins and dried currants, or Dark Chocolate Dreams with dried cherries and cranberries.

If I had to pick a last meal, there’s a fifty-fifty chance I’d pick Vietnamese food. (It’s either that or pizza.) I’m obsessed with the simplicity of the ingredients, the liberal use of fresh herbs and vegetables, and the salty-spicy-sweet combination of flavors.

For this dish, I’ve combined all of the things I love so much about Vietnamese food in a refreshing summer salad. It’s got it all – the slippery rice stick noodles, the crunchy fresh vegetables, the bright fresh herbs, and a tangy ginger and peanut butter dressing that does double-duty as a marinade for the grilled shrimp that sit atop it all. It’s an absolutely delicious and refreshing recipe that’s perfect for warmer weather headed our way.

This is comfort food at its best. Don’t let the long cook time or the extensive list of ingredients put you off – dish comes together fairly quickly, and spends the rest of the afternoon simmering away on the stovetop, yielding meltingly soft beef and a complex sauce that layers roasty coffee and cocoa with smoky chipotle and rich Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter.

For this dish, I decided to give nachos an East-meets-West sort of twist, with crunchy wonton “chips”, crisp stir-fried veggies and tender pieces of chicken breast, and then smother the whole thing with a spicy-sweet peanut butter satay sauce and a generous amount of melty, gooey cheese. The wonton chips might be oven-baked, but make no mistake, this is still tailgating food at its gooey, cheesy, crunchy, saucy best. I may not know much about football, but I do know one thing for sure… you need some of these nachos in your life. Like, right now.

Kare Kare is a traditional Filipino stew which is normally made with oxtail and vegetables simmered in a rich peanut butter sauce.

While the real deal is absolutely delicious, it’s also rather time-consuming and requires a few ingredients that you might have trouble finding unless you happen to have a Filipino market nearby.

For the rest of us, I’ve concocted this quicker and easier version using boneless skinless chicken thighs that can easily be made on a regular weeknight using ingredients any well-stocked supermarket should carry. It’s fresher and lighter than the original, but no less delicious, and it comes together in just a little over half an hour.

The characteristic golden-yellow of proper kare kare comes from annato paste, which is sold in many Latin American, Mexican, and Filipino markets. Don’t sweat it you can’t find it, though – turmeric is a perfectly good substitute, albeit not an authentic one.

I firmly believe that any food is instantly a million times more delicious when deep-fried until crispy, and that’s certainly true as far as tofu is involved.

I know deep-frying pretty much cancels out any of the health benefits you’d normally get from tofu, but who cares when you’re gobbling down these delicious golden-brown puffs? A sweet-and-tangy dipping sauce made with The Bee’s Knees peanut butter rounds things out for a tasty snack or appetizer that will have even the tofu doubters asking for seconds.

I’m a little obsessed with banana bread. So much so, in fact, that I often buy too many bananas so that I’ll be “forced” to use up the leftovers when they get too ripe to eat.

For this version, I’ve upped the ante by adding chunky Crunch Time peanut butter to the batter and swirling in a ribbon of sweet Gorgeous Grape jelly to give it an old-school PB&J twist – you get all the deliciousness of your childhood favorite, only with none of the mess. What’s not to love?

Everyone knows that chocolate and peanut butter are the very best of friends, which is what makes Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter so irresistibly delicious.

Here, I’ve used it as the base for a super-rich, super-chocolatey, super-smooth ice cream. It’s a great summertime treat all on its own, and it’s doubly good when sandwiched between two thin layers of gooey-soft brownie.

Peanut butter and salmon may not seem like the most intuitive flavor pairing, but they’re actually quite good together – especially when you use Mighty Maple peanut butter in lieu of the miso for a quick Asian-inspired marinade. Think of it as a sweeter, mellower, peanuttier take on Japanese-style miso glazed salmon.

It also makes for a great sandwich filling, particularly when it’s paired with crisp quick-pickled slices of cucumber and a generous pinch of fresh cilantro to help offset its sweetness. This definitely isn’t your mama’s salmon sandwich!

These sparkly sugar-dusted cookies pair three classic cookies in one delicious bite – they’re part chewy gingersnap, part soft peanut butter, and part chocolate crinkle.

The vegetable shortening is an unusual choice in this case, but it’s necessary to create the crisp edges and soft centers that make these cookies so incredibly addictive. Try to bake them a day or two in advance – they’ll get softer and chewier the longer they stand, and as good as they are right out of the oven, they’re even better after they’ve had a day to mellow.

Forget trick or treat… these plump homemade doughnuts are all treat, with their combination of fluffy pumpkin-spice yeasted dough, sweet peanut butter pudding filling, and a bright orange pumpkin glaze. To transform them into jack-o-lanterns for your Halloween party, all you need is a couple of tubes of black gel icing and a steady hand.

I’ve always had a soft spot for recipes with funny names – blueberry grunt, spotted dick, toad in the hole, scrapple, and yes, sloppy joes. I think it’s because they appeal to my inner six-year-old.
Here, I’ve updated this childhood classic with a classic Thai-style satay sauce spiked with red curry paste. While it’s definitely way more stylish than anything your school cafeteria could ever have dished out, it’s still just as comforting and satisfying as the original.
Not a fan of spice? Use Smooth Operator or Crunch Time instead of The Heat is On for a toned-down (but equally delicious) version.

Poutine may very well be Canada’s unofficial dish. Originally concocted in a Quebec greasy spoon in the 1950s, the now-legendary combination of crisp French fries topped with cheese curds has found its way onto menus coast to coast, from fast food joints to high end restaurants.

There are even restaurants with an all-poutine menu that serve up endless variations on the theme, including some rather intriguing multicultural variations like Greek, Italian and Butter Chicken.

This version travels all the way to Southeast Asia for its inspiration, by pairing fries and cheese curds with a rich satay sauce featuring Mighty Maple peanut butter. (I couldn’t resist… Canadians and maple syrup have something of a history, after all.)

Everyone knows that peanut butter and carrots are always a great pairing… so why not update the classic carrot layer cake by adding sweet Mighty Maple peanut butter to the traditional cream cheese frosting?
The end result is both delicious and impressive – three towering layers of moist, spicy carrot cake with plump golden raisins, all enclosed in swirls of tangy, maply frosting. The only downside is that you’ll be tempted to eat it all on your own, which is probably not a very good idea!
While layer cakes might seem a little intimidating, they’re actually much easier than you’d think. This one in particular is a great one for beginners – the sturdy layers of cake stack beautifully, and I’ve added a decorative garnish of chopped honey roasted peanuts that do wonders for disguising even the most imperfect of frosting jobs.

After spending a good part of my early 20s working in Toronto’s Eaton Centre, I get a little bit twitchy at the thought of spending any amount of time in a shopping mall.

The only thing that can lure me back in is the promise of a mall-style pretzel… I just love those pillowy-soft bites with flecked with crunchy bits of salt, preferably with a side of peanut butter for dunking.

So I thought to myself, why not try making them at home, so that I wouldn’t have to brave the mall for a fix? And why not take it one step further by baking the peanut butter right into each bite?

I’m pleased to say this little experiment was an unqualified success. Hidden inside the perfectly golden-brown salt-speckled exterior of each mini pretzel bite, a peanut butter centre awaits unsuspecting snackers. It’s all the goodness of my beloved mall pretzels, wrapped up in one perfect bite-sized bundle.

While I made these with Smooth Operator, the options are as endless as there are Peanut Butter & Co flavours – for a sweet-and-salty treat, try these with Mighty Maple or Bee’s Knees, or satisfy your inner chocoholic with Dark Chocolate Dreams. Personally, though, I prefer salty simplicity of the version below.

Peanut butter and squash might not seem like the most obvious flavor pairing, but it works beautifully in this golden-orange soup – especially when it’s Mighty Maple peanut butter, which adds a hint of sweet maple syrup that enhances the natural sweetness of roasted butternut squash.

My first instinct was use curry paste as the spicing in this soup, but I decided to travel a little further along the Silk Road to settle on a traditional Moroccan blend instead. Known as ras el hanout, this aromatic mix of warm spices combines with a dash of Spanish-style smoked paprika to give this otherwise humble soup a distinctly exotic twist.

The end result is a slightly sweet, slightly smoky, slightly spicy and entirely satisfying soup to warm you up on a crisp fall day.

Nothing says “good morning” like a pan of still-warm buns right out of the oven, especially when they’re made with a rich, cocoa-spiked yeast dough and filled with a gooey swirl of Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter. Best of all, with a little advance preparation the night before, these buns can be baked and on the table in under an hour for a lazy weekend brunch.

Eat them warm and gooey right out of the oven, or let them cool off and drizzle with sweet Peanut Butter Frosting for an extra boost of peanutty goodness.

Most Canadians can agree that butter tarts are about as Canadian a dessert as you’ll ever find, but when it comes to agreeing about whether or not raisins belong in a butter tart, that’s a whole ‘nother story (think of it as our version of the Neverending Beans in Chili Debate).

To resolve the debate once and for all, I set out to create a butter tart recipe with Cinnamon Raisin Swirl peanut butter that would make both sides happy – one that has the sweet raisiny flavor the raisin-lovers crave, and the smooth syrupy filling the purists adore. The end result may not be authentic in anyone’s book, regardless of whether they’re a With-Raisins or a No-Raisins, but one bite of that gooey sticky sweet filling is sure to win over all but the most die-hard of butter tart snobs.

One of my favourite lunch spots, which sadly is no longer in business, used to make a fantastic Chicken Waldorf Wrap filled with crunchy apples, shredded chicken breast, plump seedless grapes, and chopped celery.

One day, it occurred to me that just about everything in my beloved Chicken Waldorf Wrap gets along famously with peanut butter – apples, celery, grapes, even chicken… so why not add some chunky peanut butter to the dressing to make a Peanut Butter Chicken Waldorf instead? While it might sound a little unusual, it’s actually quite delicious. The creamy peanut butter dressing brings out the crispy, crunchy, sweet and salty qualities that made me fall in love with the original, along with a rich, peanutty flavour that the original never had. It’s a great way to use up leftover roast chicken or turkey, too!

When I’m craving something quick, tasty and substantial for dinner, this big bowl of saucy Asian-style noodles with ground beef and loads of fresh vegetables is just the ticket. Don’t let the long list of ingredients fool you – once all the vegetables are cut up, it comes together in a flash, which makes it a perfect option on a hectic weekday evening.

What I love best about this recipe is that it’s endlessly adaptable, depending on what you’ve got around – change up the vegetables based on your preferences, replace the ground beef with ground pork or bite-sized pieces of chicken breast, or go meat-free by replacing the beef with a soy-based “ground round” or omitting it altogether.

I used The Heat Is On peanut butter as the base for my sauce because we like things spicy at our house, but if you can’t find The Heat Is On (or if you just want a less spicy version), substitute it with an equal amount of Smooth Operator peanut butter and spice things up with a squirt or two of Sriracha sauce.

Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles with Ground Beef