Sunday, May 24, 2015

Strawberry Meringue Tartlets #SundaySupper

One of my favourite things about teaching cooking to a gang of (relatively) young children is that they are enthralled by the aspect of "danger" in a dish, even if nothing truly ominous is present. All it takes is for me to mention that I am "letting them" do something (like using knives) that they wouldn't normally get to at home, or remind them that there's a heating element on (even though it's a fairly safe induction model) to grab their attention, and in the end I know I've managed to give them an enhanced respect for the nuances of the kitchen. I think I may have topped myself the other week, though, when I broke out not only (pasteurized) "raw" egg whites but the real flame for these strawberry-stuffed, meringue-topped tartlets. 

While making this recipe was the perfect way to embrace the first crop of affordable strawberries, the filling is so simple and variable that you can use any fresh or frozen (and thawed) berry you like. For example, if I was making these for myself, those strawberries (and the accompanying jam) would be transformed into cherries and sour cherry jam, or perhaps cherries and lemon curd. The cocoa-kissed graham cracker crust has extra body and flavour from shredded coconut and ground flaxseed, which help it stand up to the fruit long enough for a fork to get in there! The pièce de résistance is definitely that pillow of meringue, just kissed by enough flame to turn golden and marshmallowy. It's a perfect Spring-Summer celebration dessert, whether you're partying for the long weekend or simply longer daylight hours!

Strawberry Meringue Tartlets

This week's #SundaySupper is celebrating the US Memorial Day long weekend with recipes highlighting the colors of the US flag: red, white, and blue. Whether you're American or not, you're sure to find something delicious to kick off your Summer!

Food Using One Color
Red Food
White Food
Blue Food

Food Using Two Colors
Red and White Food
Blue and White Food

Red, White and Blue Food

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Brilliant Bean Dip #RecipeRedux

Working on reports late at night means I fall victim to the midnight snack attacks - that lone cup of lukewarm coffee just isn't cutting it anymore and there isn't enough hunger for anything substantial, just snack-worthy. When feelings like this hit me, it's not usually the sweets like chocolate, cookies or ice cream that I go for, though. No, instead I want the salty, savoury, spicy stuff - zippy pickles, popcorn, and veggie sticks with a hearty dip.

Brilliant Bean Dip

I'm not a fan of the creamy-gooey dip style that seems to feature in every veggie tray I've seen at parties. No, I'd much rather have salsa, mustard, cocktail sauce (weird but it's delicious) or a bean dip like this one to dunk my broccoli, carrot, celery and cauliflower into. I've been a long time fan of the Desert Pepper Trading Company's Pinto Bean Dip, and since it's fairly hard to come by around here now *sigh* I figured it was time I tried my hand at making my own. I lucked out when my mom gave me a copy of Vegan Bites: Recipes for Singles, which had an "un-fried beans" recipe that made a perfect base. A handful of tweaks and a trip through the food processor later and I had a spicy bean dip and spread which was absolutely delicious and fat free. The blackeyed peas were a non-traditional switch up, but their earthy creaminess coupled with the spicy jalapeno and sassy lime juice added a great extra layer to the dip's complexity that I fell in love with. I made a ton of it last weekend for the freezer too, so that my lettuce wraps, burritos and late night snack attacks will never be without this staple.

This month's #RecipeRedux is DIY Kitchen Essentials - staples we used to buy but can make, healthier and fresher, at home for a fraction of the price.

Brilliant Bean Dip

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Eggless Vanilla Caramel Biscotti #CreativeCookieExchange

You can tell the end of the school year is nigh around here - coffee breaks and lunch hours at school are no longer simply times for relaxation but important prep and work periods, and the evenings and weekends are spent double checking report cards and the plans for end-of-the-year presentations that are drawing ever nearer. With just over a month until my first year of teaching Montessori draws to a close, I can't help but marvel at the work that my more experienced coworkers have done for years without fail. While I could certainly go for a black eyed coffee and a two-day nap right about now, I can't imagine what the collective feeling of the staff is. Suffice it to say, I'm going to assume coffee and something sweet will be involved.

Vanilla Caramel Biscotti

While the bulk of my coworkers will never turn down chocolate in any form, even I have to admit that we're nearing a saturation point with the assorted mother's day, birthday, thank you and general "have something sweet" goodies that turn up in the staff room. Instead, the last time I had the urge to bake (more out of a need to avoid sitting in front of a computer screen than anything) I took a different tack, whipping up a low-fat, vegan biscotti packed with caramel, vanilla and almond flavour. When I say these are caramel biscotti, I'm not kidding - the rich, bittersweet flavour and colour comes from a full 3/4 cup of vegan caramel sauce married with buttery-yellow, somewhat nutty tasting Kamut® flour. Slivered almonds enhance the hint of almond flavour from the sauce while adding visual and textural contrast. Dunked into a mug of rich, dark roast coffee, the combination of flavours can take you away to that out-of-the-way cafe you never knew existed!

This month's Creative Cookie Exchange theme is Caramel, and by the looks of things we more than have you covered between macarons, brownies, shortbread and everything in between! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links. Please be patient though, as this month Laura is off to Italy and will not be checking email quite as often!

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Figgy Olive Oil and Sesame Challah #BreadBakers

While it's only been a few days since I last shared a decadent, hearty loaf of bread with everyone, I couldn't wait to get back into the bread kitchen as soon as I could!

With the school year's end approaching all too quickly, I find myself spending more and more time away from my beloved stove and oven and in front of Excel spreadsheets and Word documents, moseying through report cards. When I can't stand another minute in front of the screen (or sitting still), bread making becomes my go-to relief - it's multi-stepped, interspersed with waiting periods which I use to continue "work" work, the (albeit minimal) hand kneading and shaping is therapeutic and the sheer variety of flavour and texture possibilities allow my imagination to run wild, even if only for an hour.

Figgy Olive Oil & Sesame Challah

I had kept my eye on the #BreadBakers challenge group for a while now, soaking up the decadent posts from the likes of Baking in Pyjamas, Noshing with the Nolands, Magnolia Days and a few others from #SundaySupper, and I finally got the nerve to join in! This month was focused on the world of stuffed bread, and I knew exactly the loaf I wanted to create. Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, this just hearty enough, half whole-wheat dough is enriched to silky, smooth and tender perfection with eggs, honey and both olive and sesame oils. As tender and moist as it is, after rising the dough keeps its integrity, making it strong enough to not only weave into an 8-strand plait but hold ribbons of homemade fig-sesame jam inside each "rope". Each slice has maximum fig and sesame distribution, and truthfully needs no adornment... however, that didn't stop up from thinly spreading on some tahini and runny honey at breakfast time!

Figgy Olive Oil & Sesame Challah

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

BreadBakersIf you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to

This month, we're filling out breads with all sorts of goodies... why not "stuff" yourself with these bakes!

Sweet Breads

Savory Breads

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Super Sunny Dutch Oven Sourdough #SundaySupper

I have one of the best moms in the world. I mean, everybody says that about their mother - and I don't doubt for a second that every single maternal figure out there is beyond worthy of adoration - but looking back at what mine has put up with over the last 10 years or so I can't believe that she would still want to associate with me, let alone put me up with room, board, food and transportation. On top of that, Mom has essentially dedicated the whole last school year to "my" cause (getting me through my first year teaching), re-adding "craft b*tch", "chauffeur" and "substitute teacher" to her resume and maintaining her position as chief taste tester for almost everything you see on the blog. Of course with this last "job title", I do my best to choose things with a reasonably high chance of approval (i.e. no okra or non-traditional meat (Mom's skeeved out by game meat and even bison), but on occasion introducing something totally foreign like tofu in a flavour-packed, well executed way has created cravings for a world outside of the local grocery store.

"Super - Sunny" Dutch Oven Sourdough

I'm not a stranger to cooking and baking with Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes), since I not only grow them in the backyard but supplement my harvests with farmer's market purchases throughout the Fall months. For Mother's Day, I revisited my Dutch Oven Sunchoke Sourdough from years ago - a crusty, hearty, whole grain loaf with a slightly sweet, earthy crumb - and added even more "sunflower" elements. Why sunflower elements? Well, as I learned when I first started growing these tubers, Jerusalem artichokes are actually a relative of the sunflower, not the traditional artichoke! In total, both ground and whole sunflower seeds, plus sunflower oil and sunflower milk, made their way into the soft dough, finished off with an extra sunny pop of colour from diced dried apricots. Artisan crustiness formed in the Dutch oven's makeshift cloche environment, resulting in a deeply browned, hearty bite without ever going near a toaster. Luckily, the recipe makes a decent amount of bread, since it was devoured with even greater passion than it's predecessor - especially with a smear of sunflower seed butter and dark honey on top.

What do you have cooking for Mom on Mother’s Day? Breakfast in bed? A special dinner? Maybe a cookie jar full of her favorite cookies? This week, our Sunday Supper team is celebrating those special mother figures in our lives with gifts from the kitchen. Camilla Mann (of Culinary Cam) is our host this week... thanks Camilla!

Here's what's cooking up:

Celebratory Sips  
Starters and Salads
Hearty Mains
Treats and Sweets
Sunday Supper Movement 
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.