Friday, December 19, 2014

Healthier Red Velvet Cookies

I am staunchly in the red velvet fan club - I have been for years, since my mom first started making it from a recipe out of the TV Guide. Rich, slightly sweet and with a hint of tang from buttermilk, the red colour only seemed to intensify the decadence of a slice.

This year, I decided I would bring one of my favourite flavours to some of my friends with special dietary needs. These cookies are gluten free, vegan and refined sugar-free, but also "fake food" free - packed with the rich flavours and textures of pureed beets and kidney beans. Soft with just a tiny hint of chew freshly cooled, they disappear fast from the bake table - I had to save some aside this year so that my "eat anything and everything" guests wouldn't steal them all before my allergic friends could have a bite! I even made a batch of these for my Home Ec kids at school (using coconut milk in place of almond due to allergies, and served them without mentioning the "secret" ingredients - if possible they were gobbled up even faster! To me, that shows proof positive that a box of these will be a hit with any audience - and with the bulk of holiday fare packed full of junk, it's always nice to have a lighter option in your back pocket!

Healthier Red Velvet "Cake" Cookies

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays #122

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Swedish Rye Cookies (#CreativeCookieExchange)

This month's Creative Cookie Exchange theme is International Winter Holiday Cookies , and I have to say I was definitely looking forward to it. I'm a huge fan of discovering other cultures, especially though food, and it looks like my fellow bloggers are too!

Swedish Rye Cookies

I chose to discover Sweden through cookies this month, and found a spicy, not too sweet concoction on 101 Cookbooks. With a few adaptations, I added whole spelt and psyllium to the rye flour and pumped up the cardamom a touch too. These cookies are tender from cream cheese in the dough and get a hint of contrast from coarse sugar on top - all in all, a perfect treat to accompany a creamy mocha or spiked hot chocolate in the afternoon.

This #CreativeCookieExchange, If it is a cookie traditionally made somewhere in the world for a holiday traditionally observed near the Winter Solstice you might find it on this list. 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.

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 here 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:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Beet Relish #SundaySupper

Is it really only a week and a bit until Christmas? To me, that's a scary proposition - I haven't finished my baking (or candy making) yet, and while the gifts I've bought are wrapped and ready (all 2 of them), my cards and boxes for my homemade gift baskets are nowhere near completion. However, I can say that my canning adventures are fully put to bed for another few months - all the jams, pickles and relishes are sealed, labelled and ready to go!

One of the ingredients I've been really focusing on this year is beetroot - when the last of my Lutz harvest came in at the end of October, I had more baseball-sized, perfectly flavourful and tender specimens than I knew what to do with! I ate a ton in salads and rice bowls (beets are delicious with salted brown Basmati), pickled a few, pureed a handful into soup, roasted and froze some more, and finally turned the remainder into this sweet, spicy and versatile condiment. The sweet earthiness of my homegrown beets made a perfect backdrop for other bright flavours, from spicy homegrown radishes, mustard seeds, onions and (of course) a good glug of red wine. 

Beet Relish

While the relish was great freshly made, I do have to admit that I preferred after it sat a few days in the fridge, when the flavours had mellowed into a more homogeneous whole. It's incredibly versatile to boot - while it's a natural pairing with fried or poached eggs, it goes well with broiled salmon, grilled chicken (or roasted turkey!) and even topping grilled cheese sandwiches!  

This #SundaySupper is hosted by DB of Crazy Foodie Stunts and Alice of A Mama, Baby & Shar-pei in the Kitchen and focuses on any and all libation-themed recipes. Along with the requisite drink concoctions, we also have a bevy of mains and desserts waiting for you! What's your favourite way to enjoy a tipple? Let me know!

Libations

Savoury and Sweet Libational Dishes

Libational Desserts
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.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Worth Waking Up To: Remington iCoffee Opus Single Serve and Chocolate Munch Breakfast Cookies

The single serve brewer from Remington Designs is called the iCoffee Opus Single Serve and it is the world's first single serve (K-cup) brewer to use a patent-pending spinning needle with jets that steam and stir the grounds, creating a "French press" type of effect that other brewers cannot compare to. By using this type of brewing method, the bitter and acidic aftertaste often associated with single serve coffee makers is essentially eliminated, allowing the true flavour and smoothness of your desired coffee to shine through. The spinning method also slightly cools the water, preventing the scorching effect that seems to be omnipresent in both home and professional brewing environments. I have tried a variety of coffee styles, from my preferred flavoured brand to light, medium and even (my usually detested) dark roasts, and each cup tasted bright and pure, making it a joy any time of day.


iCoffee by Remington

The iCoffee Opus Single Serve isn't just for coffee, either (although that is definitely my favourite option!). It accepts all "K" style cup brands including "true" K-Cups, RealCup capsules, OneCup and ALL Treehouse private label cups. What I really love is that it even works with a reusable "choose your own bean" cup, that is included in the box! This reuseable cup has proven indispensable for times when I (gasp) didn't feel like a cup of coffee, but craved a mug of tea. There's also something called "Dial-A-Brew",
which allows users to customize the strength and taste by simply turning a knob to select a cup size between 4-12 oz (in 0.5 oz increments), and even helps to ensure the perfect amount dispensed for serving over ice. This gift of true choice for the holidays means that everyone can have their favourite drink of Christmas morning - even if (like us) you host a big family brunch. I'm planning on setting my sleek, professional looking (and totally intuitive-to-use) machine out on Christmas Eve (our "big" dinner night) for guests to try, since many of them have other single-serve brewers at home to compare to. If you have a large family who all drinks one type of coffee, of course, any single-serve brewer isn't the most economical option, but for singletons like me, or those families with only one or two coffee fans, you can't beat the quality, variety or price of this model!

The iCoffee Opus Single Serve
is available exclusively at Bed, Bath and Beyond at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $139.99 (Canadian shoppers click here). For more information about the company, please visit www.icoffee.com


Chocolate Munch Breakfast Cookies

Of course, man (or woman) cannot live off coffee alone - so what better pairing for your morning Joe than a coffee-laced, nutritiously chocolate breakfast cookie? Adapted from Love From The Oven, these eggless, bittersweet chocolate cookies get packed with nutrient dense Greek yoghurt, oats, dates and Qi'a™ Superfood cereal (and/or roasted lentils). To make things even better, two types of chocolate chips find their way into the dough too!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Have a #FeelGoodHoliday with @NaturesPath (review, recipe and #giveaway)

I've been a fan of Nature's Path cereal for ages - between their chocolate-laced Love Crunch granola and puffed grain options, at least one variety is on our shelf constantly. Obviously, I pleased someone in karma-land, because the kind folks who make those organic, delicious options sent me an early Christmas gift - a #FeelGoodHoliday box packed with goodies!

So much goodness in store for my #feelgoodholiday

Of course, I dug in right away, and after sampling some of the Love Crunch® Gingerbread and Chia Plus™ Coconut Chia granolas straight-up I knew I had to try them in a baked treat. The cereal is chunky, crunchy and a perfect topping for things like the vegan banana muffins I adapted from Kitchen Treaty. The gingerbread one had the perfect hit of spice and sweetness to it, which would also pair perfectly with pumpkin or apple desserts (think crisps, crumble topped pies and coffee cake fillings). The coconut variety's pieces were a little too "large" to fit neatly on the muffins, but nevertheless I wouldn't hesitate to fold it into carrot cake, make pinwheel pastries or sprinkle it on a larger dessert.

Vegan Banana Muffins with Crunchy Topping
Large Pieces in the Chia Plus™ Coconut Chia Granola

The "chunky" factor in those two granolas is mirrored by most of the other Nature's Path granolas, and even some of their cold cereals (Sunrise® Crunchy Maple being one in particular), which keeps the clusters nice and crunchy even when covered in milk or mixed into yoghurt. On the "cold cereal" front, the company offers organic (and occasionally gluten-free) versions of many mainstream cereal choices such as Whole O’s™ and Flax Plus® Flakes. The Whole O's are delicious as either breakfast or a snack, and make an awesome trail mix addition too. For anyone who's a fan of bran flakes, the lightly sweetened Flax Plus flakes offer the same texture with ALA Omega-3 fatty acids to boot. I was confused as to whether the Qi'a™ Superfood (Chia, Buckwheat & Hemp) Cereal was intended to be a hot or cold preparation, but after looking at the website it appears that the mixture of seeds is really more of an addition to the other cereals as well as other foods like salad.

Vegan Banana Muffins with Crunchy Topping
The Love Crunch® Gingerbread Granola is definitely Chunky!

While the cereals are perfect fodder for morning munching, they make perfect additions to a host of holiday (or anyday) recipes too! After the jump, you'll find one of the many recipes you can make with the goodies in the #FeelGoodHoliday box!