Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Delicious, Party Perfect Snack - @Popcorn_Indiana

As the clock ticks down to midnight, I know there's a flurry of parties and other gatherings about to kick off. If you're anything like my family, food is one of the last things on your mind right now, but the fact is, whether you're hosting (or attending) a cocktail soiree for twenty or an intimate movie night for two, you will need something to snack on.

Luckily, popcorn is a treat that is both light to eat and easy to serve (just check out these festive cones!), and not only that - it's a naturally gluten free, vegan whole grain food kids will go crazy for! With so many variations available, it can be hard to decide which is the best balance for taste, nutrition, convenience and cost - and Popcorn, Indiana is a worthy contender! Proclaimed an "innovator of all-natural popcorn", the company is all about healthier, convenient snacks that deliver big flavour. In their  facility, there are special kettles that are filled by hand and popcorn chefs who do nothing but dream up fantastic flavor combinations. All the company's whole grain products are certified gluten-free by the The Gluten-Free Certification Organization  and are made from non-GMO corn. With a mission to show North Americans "What Fun Tastes Like, one kernel at a time", I think they're well up to the task.

Warm, unburned popcorn can be a hassle if you're entertaining a crowd, which is one of the reasons I love the "warm up bag" idea from the folks at Popcorn, Indiana. I served their Movie Theatre popcorn this holiday, and it came out of the bag piping hot, without being soggy or burned. Taste-wise, it definitely had the "cinema" flavour, which was a hit with the movie-philes in the house and not so overwhelming that those of us preferring more "natural" popcorn couldn't stomach it. At only 160 calories per two-cup serving, it's a lot easier on the waistline, not to mention will save you some green - no need to splurge on a bucket of popcorn at the theatre when you can have TV on Demand and a bag of this at home!

For those of us with New Year's resolutions to keep, the company also makes a line of "Biggest Loser" approved popcorn called Fit. Fit currently comes in four flavours (Sea Salt, Real Butter, Parmesan & Herb and Olive Oil) ranging from 37-40 calories a cup. Definitely less greasy than any standard popcorn and even fresher-tasting than the Movie Butter variety to me, this would be my go-to for kid's parties and general snacking - though the two "gourmet" flavours beg for a recipe application (savoury popcorn balls or bars, perhaps?). When this becomes available in my local grocery store, I will definitely be looking for it!

So, whether you're hosting tonight or simply looking for a healthier snack-time craving satisfier, it's time to take a new look at popcorn and imagine the delicious year ahead!

Popcorn, Indiana offers an assortment of flavours, including Kettlecorn, Aged White Cheddar, Touch of Sea Salt, Cinnamon Sugar, Sweet & Tangy BBQ, Bacon Ranch, Buffalo Cheddar and Smoked Cheddar. Along with their "standard style" popcorns, the company also offers chocolate-cloaked "Drizzlecorn", granola-style clusters and dippable chips.

Follow them on Twitter:@Popcorn_Indiana and Facebook

Disclosure: I was provided free product for the purpose of review. I was not monetarily compensated in any way. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bananas Foster Truffles

I know - I'm bombarding you with chocolatey, decadent things these days. What can I say - the season sparks the "naughty" side of life and it's not just me, either! Over the two weeks of the holidays, we've seen two panettones, seven (+) boxes of chocolates (I lost count), one chocolate layer cake, a mincemeat pie and more cookies than I can imagine! I figure that this is all well and good, though, since after school and work start back full time we have to resign ourselves to normalcy yet again. For now, we have chocolate, good booze and good times.

I can't leave the decadence of chocolate on its own alone - oh, no. If I'm going to be a party to furthering the belly-busting gluttony of the season, I'm going to do it all the way, adding a couple vices to the list. These truffles are deceivingly simple on the surface - chocolate and cocoa, with a little glimmer of edible gold - but upon biting into one you discover the rich, butter-caramelized banana base livened up with no small glug of spiced rum. If you make the base this morning, you'll have perfectly creamy, dredgeable balls of ganache tomorrow night without the need for stress, running to the store or undue fuss. These are just sweet enough to be satisfying on an after-dinner dessert tray, as well as being gluten and nut-free, easily dairy free (use Earth Balance or another vegan "butter" and coconut or rice milk chocolate). More than that, they're a definite showstopper for the adults-only crowd that cries

"Adieu 2014! Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

Bananas Foster Truffles

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cabernet Fudge Brownies

Can you believe it's almost 2015?? It literally seems like yesterday that I was slogging through the January blahs (although I vividly remember the ice storm blackout of last December), a student teacher with an overwhelming amount of work and seemingly never-ending exams. Now, I'm an (almost) full-time combination assistant Toddler teacher and Home Economics teacher and having a great time in my new role. To celebrate the joyous turns the year has taken, as well as the ones the next year promises to bring, I wanted to make an especially decadent, festive dessert for our holiday guests.

Everyone I know likes chocolate on some level - from my stepfather who will eat it if it's offered, to my grandma, sister, mom and I who will actively seek out a dark, rich chocolately something during the day. Given that we'd be having mixed adult / child company over the two holiday weeks, I figured brownies would be a fairly good "please everyone" dish, rich yet simple, with a decent enough life in the fridge to accommodate leftovers and pack well on road trips over the time period. To "fancy" up the flavour without being overly in-your-face obvious, I took up a trick I had seen around the web and added a good glug of Ontario red wine to both the batter and the glaze, as well as a dash of my Cabernet - infused salt. The dry, slightly fruity flavour enriched the mixture of chocolates and cocoa and kept the bars dense and moist, and while you couldn't taste "wine" itself, guests commented that there was "something divine" about them that other recipes hadn't matched. For the party(ies), I decided to glam up the poured glaze with snowflake-shaped sprinkles, but even ungarnished a pan of these would be right at home on either a party sweet table or a weeknight dessert plate.

Cabernet Fudge Brownies

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Toast Topper #53: Lower-Sugar Carrot Cake Jam - the last #SundaySupper of the year!

I'm a bona fide lover of carrot cake anything - not only do I have many, many versions of root-laced cakes on this blog, but I've also posted a couple cookies, a doughnut, a fruit butter and even a granola
with the flavours of the dessert. Heck, I've even bought tea with a "carrot cake" label. But I'd never tried a jam with the elements of carrot cake, although there are a myriad of recipes online and in cookbooks. One of the sticking points for me with those recipes was the grotesque amount of sugar and relatively little inclusion of carrot in the mixture - the one I have (clipped from a magazine ages ago) called for 7 cups of the white stuff, with only a cup of shredded carrots. For me, part of the deliciousness of carrot cake is the earthy sweetness of the vegetable itself, and I kept avoiding a low-sugar test run with my precious heirloom carrots.

Then, right as a glut of the aforementioned carrots came in from the garden, I actually found a recipe using a "low-sugar" style of pectin and had my starting point to play with. Since I had Pomona's Pectin on hand, I was able to play with the sugars a bit more, using part brown sugar and a dash of stevia along with the regular granulated. My classic combination of carrot cake spices followed, along with the naturally sweet grated carrots and local apples. The result was fantastic - sweet, without tasting of pure sugar, packed with fruit and vegetables and ready to smear onto waffles or toasted cinnamon bread at breakfast. It was definitely worth waiting (many) years to try it, and if next year's crop is as generous this recipe will be on rotation more often than not!

Carrot Cake Jam

This week's #SundaySupper is focused on sharing recipes for foods we've been craving all year long. I'm always craving carrot cake and love making jam, so this was a natural for me - not to mention it pairs so well with other cravings (crepes, almond butter sandwiches) I couldn't resist! Here's what the rest of the gang have cooked up:

Comfort Food Cravings

Quench Your Thirst Cravings

Seafood Cravings

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Cravings

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.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Turkish Spice-Candied Pumpkin

Continuing with the theme of healthy, warming, good-for-you flavours, I cracked into one of my jars of candied pumpkin yesterday for an exotic hint of something sweet with a bowl of rice pudding. The cubes of local Winter squash that I peeled, cut up and cooked in a dark, richly flavoured syrup were perfectly tender and not overly sweet, while the syrup is far and away the best sauce for ice cream or yoghurt as well as stirring into coffee.

Now that I've opened one of my jars, I can't wait to get cooking with it too - what about a Winter crumble with this as a base and Pumpkin Flax Granola in the topping, or baking into cakes and tarts? Looking at the recipe's spice profile, I doubt the candy would be out of place in a fruitcake or mincemeat - which just means I'll be busting out this recipe next year for the holidays!

Turkish Spiced Pumpkin in Syrup

Like all good things, the recipe does take time and patience - 3 days of macerating and another hour or two to cook - but I promise you the first taste is worth it! I know the title indicates pumpkin - and if you go that botanical route I strongly suggest a Kuri or pie pumpkin. That said, if it's just not around, kabocha or even butternut squash will do just fine, though for the "drier" varieties you may need to add a little water to cover the pieces before simmering.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Black Licorice Squares

After the fuss and bother of the holidays - filled with too much of everything from the enjoyable to the stressful to the gluttonous - I know my digestive system is totally thrown off. You never want to see another plate of food in your lifetime, let alone gorge on more decadence. Ironically, one of the things that really helps us recover from this biological confusion is ingesting wintery spices - I'm talking the gingers, the cinnamons, and the strong anise and fennel combinations that sneak into the season's fare. A few friends of mine adore licorice - in particular, black licorice - flavour and making some "digestive" candies seemed like a great inclusion in their gift boxes this season.

I looked around the Web at a few different recipes, which all seemed to have the same basic ingredients: butter, molasses, cream and sugar. I settled on Pinch and Swirl's recipe as a jumping off point, and played around a little bit with the ingredients to get what I was looking for in my final candy. I came out with a pan of slightly chewy, very licoricey, perfectly wrappable squares that definitely hit the spot after a rich meal. If you love black licorice, these are definitely the candy for you!

Black Licorice Squares

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chocolate Holiday Sparklers

Merry Christmas everyone!

Since I know that few, if any, people will be logging onto their computers today (and even less will be looking at this itty-bitty food blog), I'm going to keep this short, sweet and glittery!

I was inspired at the very last minute to try my hand at these crackly, sparkling sugar cookies after an impulse trip to Bulk Barn ended with a bag of glitter-flecked mint chocolate chips and white sanding sugar in my pantry. A perusal of my fridge found egg whites from shortbread cookie making waiting to be used (thanks Mom!) along with a speck of butter. I had been hoarding a sizable stash of ground tiger nuts in the freezer, too, waiting for an opportunity to bust out their slightly sweet, nutty flavour in a showstopper treat.

Chocolate Holiday Sparklers

If you've never heard of tiger nuts, they're a small tuber (related to the potato) also called chufa or earth almonds, and they're a key ingredient in horchata. For allergy sufferers, they're great to use, since they're not related to nuts at all! From a natural health perspective, this earthy, rich-tasting snack is high in fibre, prebiotics, protein, and natural sugars - a handful of chopped nuts tossed into your oatmeal in the morning will fuel your AM rush, or add a spoonful of tiger nut flour to a bowl of yoghurt or applesauce for a light, healthy bedtime treat. In these cookies, ground tiger nuts add not only a depth of flavour usually reserved for copious butter or ground nuts, but a slightly toothsome texture to combat the cakey batter and silky chocolate chips. The combination is subtle, but perfect - my chocolate cookies will never be the same!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Vanilla - Quad and Fluffernutter Fudge - a Holiday Two-fer!

Well, we're down to the wire now - Christmas Eve. While I'm planning on blissfully whiling away the hours by avoiding the insane hubbub that is our Italian multi-course feast, I know some people out there are still scrambling to put the finishing touches on gifts, potluck dishes and sweet trays for December 25th. Oddly enough, while I love the "giving" part of the season, the day itself holds little significance anymore - call me a cynic, but really it could simply be any other Thursday aside from the fact that tensions are running the high wire all around.

Because it's so close to the Big Day, I have some last minute treats that are a breeze to whip up and even more delicious than the ingredients let on! The first one is a fudge for die-hard vanilla-philes adapted from one of my favourite bloggers, Chocolate Moosey. Sweet and creamy, the candy is loaded with all things vanilla - from infused sugar to pure extract, seeds from a whole vanilla bean and of course the vanilla-flavoured white chocolate! Normally, I abhor white chocolate, but with this recipe the pure essence of the vanilla overtakes the saccharine notes of the candy and elevates the mixture to gourmet heights. The easiest part of it all is that it's almost fool-proof, since homemade Egg White Mallow Fluff ensures a melt-in-your-mouth experience with no beating!

Vanilla-Quad Fudge

Next, I turned my attention to a flavour much more my speed - peanut butter. Another, slight adaptation of the classic "fluff" fudge, I combined the homemade Mallow Fluff with natural-style peanut butter, peanut flour, kosher salt and a touch of powdered sugar and had a luxurious, smooth candy in the fridge to set in about 5 minutes flat. The secret this time? The microwave! Purists may roll their eyes, but this method prevents the need for a thermometer, finicky sugar stages and beating, and even keeps the total sugar down a bit. I liked mine plain Jane with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt, but others I served it to melted dark chocolate for a drizzled topping. Either way, it's a surefire hit with the young fans of Fluffernutter sandwiches, and the young at heart who wish they could get away with them in the office cafeteria!

Fluffernutter Fudge

What's your favourite fudge flavour? Do you have a go-to, last minute recipe for get togethers, or are you all about the minute details? Let me know in the comments! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pumpkin Caramels

Tis the season for all things sweet and giftable, at least around here! Of course, because I make all my gifts each year (teachers don't earn that much, and first year teachers even less!) I have to include some fun, delicious and yes, even slightly nutritious candy with each offering to offset the 7 or 8 boxes of chocolates that waft their way into the house from various guests.

Pumpkin Caramels

Since I had a goodly amount of pumpkin puree from the ones we picked back in October, I started scouting around for interesting uses for it. Eventually, I landed at Fifteen Spatulas, and knew I had (one) of my answers - chewy, spicy and lightly salted pumpkin caramels! I made two batches - one with the rich cream and butter that packs our fridge during the holiday season, and another, vegan option because a handful of my friends are either allergic to milk or vegan. Both were fantastic, and definitely a hit - I had to box them up and hide them before they disappeared when my family found them!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Monday, December 22, 2014

Whole O’s™ Breakfast Cookies and a #FeelGoodHoliday Winner!

It's never too late for a #FeelGoodHoliday moment, and I was so glad to see the turnout for my Nature's Path giveaway this month! While I have to say I've been hoarding my box of goodies (especially the Whole O’s™ and Flax Plus® Flakes, which were the best renditions of my childhood favourite cereals I've tasted), I was happy to share the love, and now Brenda can enjoy the goodness this season too!

In celebration of the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from giving forward, and purely because I need something to take on the go with all this holiday travel, shopping and (ahem) lack of table space, I decided what better than a hearty, healthy breakfast cookie? These huge, hearty cookies are packed full of goodness - from sunflower seed butter to oats, spelt and both Love Crunch® Dark Chocolate & Red Berries and Whole O’s™ Cereal. Sweetened partially with stevia, they're a healthy indulgence when you're on the go during the week, or shopping for those last minute gifts - I keep them in the freezer for a quick bedtime snack too.

Whole O’s™ Breakfast Cookies

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!


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

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!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Quinoa Brownie - Cake

No matter how well you eat, how carefully you toe the dietary line before the big slew of December holidays, sometimes you just need something rich, chocolatey and downright sinful to end your day. In all honesty, my day isn't complete without some kind of sweet treat, be it a bowl of cocoa and brown sugar oatmeal or a baked apple with honey and crispy rice cereal on top. Dessert shouldn't be something eschewed in entirety - life has to be worth living, after all!

For the days I'm dying for a chocolate cake, though, all too often I feel myself being pulled back towards my younger years when I would eat almost a quarter of a triple layer chocolate fudge cake, with ice cream, as an "after movie snack" (of course, my friends would all eat one too). Rather than completely give in to that train wreck habit again, I've come up with some just as divine-tasting, easier on the system desserts that eating everyday can actually bring joy to body and soul. This dense, moist, brownie-esque cake for example contains whole grain black quinoa, silken tofu and coconut milk - with only 2 tablespoons of oil and no flour. With the tofu replacing eggs, it's cholesterol-free as well as 100% vegan and gluten free. All that aside, though, it tastes like anything but a superfood - in fact, it (along with my Soy Awesome Cookies) was the most widely accepted tofu dish I've ever served to a mixed crowd! 

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Quinoa Brownie Cake

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fruit & Nut Bars #HolidayFoodParty

I am a huge fan of the slightly squidgy, rich brown sugar cookies on Christmas dessert trays. To me, a hermit, Lassy Mog or chewy ginger drop far and away beats out the intricate lace or iced sugar cookies out there, bested only by the classic chewy chocolate chipper or my mom's shortbreads. The richness of fruit, nuts and brown sugar just somehow works with the winter holidays unlike anything else.

The only issue I have with the softer cookie clan is that they are intensely difficult to ship or transport intact - even more so when they're packed with additions to the hilt. Holiday cookies are also always made in giant batches, which takes more time and energy than I usually have by the time December  rolls around. My solution? Bang the dough into a brownie pan and bake it that way - yes, it takes a little more time in the oven, but there's less cleanup, risk of burning and falling apart, not to mention you can just pack them - pan and all - to your next gathering. Bars are also easier to shove in stuff with additions, generally being a bit thicker. The thickness basically guarantees that squidgy, chewy goodness I crave too!

While I can't say I'll be giving up cut-out or drop cookies completely from my repertoire this holiday season, I do know that a pan of these rich brown sugar bars filled with dates, raisins, salted nuts and spelt flour will always be in my back pocket. Call it a little Christmas cheer for the cook - especially if you soak the fruit in your favourite tipple first!

Fruit & Nut Bars

Check out the good for this festive #HolidayFoodParty below!

  1. Chocolate Peppermint Bark from Cravings of a Lunatic
  2. Buche de Noel from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
  3. Cranberry Moscow Mule from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
  4. Chocolate Gingerbread Crumb Cake from Hungry Couple
  5. Gingerbread Cupcakes with Chai Spiced Frosting from Jen's Favorite Cookies
  6. Apres Ski Boozy Tea from Pineapple and Coconut
  7. Raspberry Almond Torte from Magnolia Days
  8. Fruit and Nut Bars from What Smells So Good

As always, many many thanks to Jen for putting this together!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ginger Jam (Toast Topper #52) - Gifts from the #SundaySupper Kitchen

It's a well-established tradition with me to make boxes of assorted canned, candied and baked treats for my friends and family at Christmas. While it started as purely a cost-saving measure, over the years I've turned it more into an excuse to avoid the insanity of the malls while bringing a little taste of "gourmet" to my giftees. Homemade gifts also allow me to really customize the things I give to people, meaning that my grandma would be more touched by Strawberry Preserves with Grandpa's Sherry than a jar of the most expensive marmalade you could buy, and I could jack up the flavour of this ginger preserve to 100 for my rhizome-loving coworker and friend.

If you love the spicy snap of ginger in any form, you'll adore this jam too - I found the original recipe in my copy of the Best of Bridge Home Preserving cookbook and jacked up the ginger a touch more to really liven up the apple juice base. When Winter is promising to be cold, blustery and full of germs (I've already had a sinus infection and am still fighting the flu), the maximum amount of warming, sinus-clearing anti-nauseants are definitely a welcome addition to any toast, stir fry or (according to my mom) baked salmon! I even mixed a spoonful into sliced apples for pie and wow, was that a hit!

Ginger Jam

But I'm not the only one making homemade gifts this year - our #SundaySupper gang is breaking out the jars, bags, boxes and tags to create something special (and spectacular) from the kitchen this week. With the array we have to choose from today, even the longest gift card wall can't hold a candle to our gifts! Whether your intended craves sweet or savory, a warm drink or a spicy dinner mix, you're sure to find simply perfect inspiration here.



Appetizers and Snacks:

Condiments and Sauces:

Savory and Sweet Mixes:

Desserts and Sweets:

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.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pumpkin Brownie Cookies

Pumpkin Brownie BitesWhat if I told you that you could have two bite brownies, with chocolate, on your holiday table for under 50 calories a pop? Yeah... I thought I was crazy too, but I think I actually managed to crack the code, and use real food while doing it!

My secret for these chewy, rich and super-chocolatey bites was three-fold: pure pumpkin puree made for a luxuriously dense base only added to with a mixture of two cocoa powders and chocolate chips. Extra density and a touch of chew came from the merest touch of sweet rice flour, and the whole works had a lot less sugar thanks to the Truvia Baking Blend I had on hand (the same stuff I made my Triple Berry - Carrot Bran Muffins with). Small drops of dough transformed into snackable wonders perfect for the morning break and lunch rush with a cup of coffee, or frozen and crumbled into ice cream with dessert.

You know what else would pair nicely with these? Why not some Coconut Whipped Cream? If you haven't already, check out the giveaway and enter today!

Shared with 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dinner and Dessert with @GayLeaFoodsCoop Coconut Whipped Cream #giveaway

Whenever the holidays rolled around at home, you could count on my mom, grandma or I baking up grandpa's favourite pumpkin pie, to be served with lashings of just sweetened whipped cream. Now, I was not a pumpkin lover by any stretch of the imagination, so the more cream I could pile on the better (sorry mom).

As the years went by, I made my peace with the squash, but developed an allergy to dairy products - leaving me "whip-less" when all I really wanted was a tiny dollop on my coffee or hot cocoa. Thankfully, those sad days are long behind me, and dairy substitutes are getting better than ever - even our go-to "butter and sour cream guys" Gay Lea have come out with a fabulous brand new topping option for vegan, cholesterol-free, lactose-intolerant or otherwise milk-avoiding folk - Coconut Whipped Cream.

Gay Lea's Coconut Whipped Cream is made from pure coconut cream, which makes it a delectably flavourful topping for fresh fruit, shortcake, bread pudding, pancakes, drinks and (of course) pumpkin pie! Not only is it a fantastic (and easy to use aerosol) topping for your sweet treats, but it's even great in savoury recipes too - just check out the Island Coconut Sweet Potato Mash featured below! Dollops frozen on a baking sheet make to-die-for "sneak treats" that melt in your mouth better than any ice cream (tip: freeze "topper" sized dollops and add them to a mug of cocoa or coffee - it's a heavenly burst of creaminess that cools the drink to the perfect temperature!). With all that creamy texture and decadent flavour, you would never believe that is healthier than regular whipped cream, being cholesterol free, low in sugar and only 13% fat.

Think you'd like to try this twist on conventional whip yourself? Well all my Canadian readers (sorry US), can enter TODAY through Friday, December 5th for a chance to win a Gay Lea dessert prize pack! You'll get 4 gorgeous dessert plates, 4 dessert forks, 4 napkins, 4 napkin rings, a pie lifter, and two vouchers for Gay Lea Coconut Whipped Cream! The RaffleCopter widget is below the recipe - enjoy, and good luck!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Moroccan Turkey Stew - Thanksgiving #SundaySupper leftovers

My favourite part of the holidays was always the leftovers. After the dishes are done and put away, stuffing, potatoes, veggies and turkey tucked away into containers for weeks of minute-ready dinners, I relished the late night, taboo ventures into the fridge for a scoop of my Gramma's potatoes, the next-day open-faced turkey and gravy sandwiches on thick slabs of French bread (or Challah at Christmas), and of course the stews, pastas and soup that filled the rest of the year with comfort food on a dime. 

While our Thanksgiving is long past, the rest of the holiday season is only ramping up! Looking in the freezer, I discovered that we still had frozen turkey meat to use before cooking up another bird in a month or so! Needing to clear freezer (and fridge) space, I turned to my love of all things Moroccan to cobble together a hearty, healthy and exotic pot of warming stew. Tons of veggies bulked up the turkey meat and made a rich, savoury dish over yellow rice - the traditional serving style would be over couscous, but we had none and I didn't fancy running out mid-cook! I gave some of the batch to a coworker of mine, who enjoyed it with her husband and kids (granted, it's a harder sell to the young ones, but adventurous eaters will love it), and the rest we were more than willing to "gobble" up!

Moroccan Turkey Stew
This week, our #SundaySupper group is re-inventing holiday (specifically Thanksgiving) leftovers. We have the whole gamut of goodies on tap - check out our selection below!

Cranberry Sauce Muffins by The Foodie Army Wife
Leftover Stuffing Breakfast Strata by Ruffles & Truffles
Sweet Potato Casserole Muffins by Magnolia Days
Turkey & Chorizo Breakfast Hash by Brunch with Joy
Cranberry Sauce’d Corn Bread Muffins by Rhubarb and Honey

Main Dish:
Leftover Pie by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Thanksgiving Leftover Waffles by Foxes Love Lemons
Stuffing Hash by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Turkey Pizza by Meal Diva
Turkey & Caramelized Onion Risotto by kimchi MOM
Turkey with Creamy Mushroom Marsala Sauce by Casa de Crews
Moroccan Turkey Stew by What Smells So Good?
Peruvian Cilantro & Turkey Soup by The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Turkey & Butternut Squash Stew by Cooking Chat
Turkey Kreplach Soup by Panning the Globe
Turkey & Stuffing Crepes by Peaceful Cooking
Cranberry Apple Pecan Chicken Salad by NeighborFood
Herbed Turkey over Cornbread Waffles with Cranberry Sauce by girlichef
Creamy Peanut Gochujang Pasta by Wallflour Girl
Cranberry Sweet Potato Soup by Take A Bite Out of Boca
Turkey Enchilada Pasta Bake by Curious Cuisiniere
Turkey Orzo Risotto by Family Foodie
Turkey Croquettes by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings

Side Dishes:
Cheesy Mashed Potato Croquettes by Noshing with the Nolands
Whipped Carrots with Sriracha Butter by Healthy Delicious
Cranberry-Balsamic Glazed Cauliflower Wings by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Parmesan Mashed Cauliflower and Potatoes by Momma’s Meals
Cheesy Jalapeño Potato Cakes by Bobbi’s Cozy Kitchen
Italian Mashed Potato Pancakes by The Weekend Gourmet

Cranberry & Turkey Sandwich by The Redhead Baker
Monte Cristo Sandwich by Nik Snacks
Hot Brown Turkey Sandwiches by The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch
Sprouted Grain Turkey, Cranberry & Brie Panini by Amee’s Savory Dish
Turkey Cranberry Flatbread by Peanut Butter and Peppers

Condiments & Sauces:
Cranberry Vinaigrette by Nosh My Way
Leftover White Wine Syrup by Food Lust People Love
DIY Yellow Mustard by The Texan New Yorker

Banana Cheesecake with Pecan Graham Cracker Crust by Desserts Required
Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Gluten-Free Lemon Cake by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Spiced Cranberry Sauce Buckle by The Wimpy Vegetarian

Cocktails & Drinks:
Cranberry Orange Crush by The Messy Baker
Cranberry Bellini by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures

SSbadge-150x150Join 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 p.m. ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtagand 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.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Gluten / Soy / Nut / Dairy Free Pie Crust #RecipeRedux

I apologize for the horribly long title, but for something as all inclusively allergy-friendly as this pie crust had to be, nothing else would do!

Gluten-Soy-Nut-Dairy Free Pie

You see, a friend of mine has a son with Celiac disease. This is hard enough for a family to deal with on it's own, but he's also allergic to soy, milk and tree nuts as well as avoiding any pork products. As you can imagine, holiday treats can be a bit of a Russian roulette, if not an outright forced Scrooge-fest. Over the years, I've done brownies and cookies for their gift basket, but I knew one thing they missed sharing as a family was a good old fashioned apple pie.

I have such fond memories of helping my mom make and eat apple pies over the years - from picking bags and bags of Northern Spies to peeling them, spicing them just right with cinnamon (no sugar or anything else!), rolling out and crimping the pie crust and finally digging in with a fork - that it is unthinkable that anyone should have to go without the experience of enjoying a real, homemade apple pie at least once in their lives. A little scouting on the web and cobbling of recipes later, I had it - a rollable, flaky pastry safe for the whole family and perfect for a no-frills apple pie, as well as any other sweet or savoury treat you need!

This month the #RecipeRedux group is sharing food memories - many of us are especially thankful for food memories we have shared with friends or relatives throughout our lives, whether it was a special meal eaten as a child or a cooking tradition passed down the generations. Please enjoy the shares below and make sure to say hi!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Zucchini Bread Granola

Most gardeners out there have a love-hate relationship with zucchini. On one hand, it's a huge joy to see something in the backyard plot take off so well and proliferate - on the other hand, that energetic growth and spread often gets out of hand, leaving the planters of good intentions with baseball bat-sized, six-meal fruit by August. The beginning squash are greedily consumed, and you have no problem adding a chopped cup or two to every meal. Then the second week's harvest comes in... and the third, and so on, until you have no choice other than zucchini rotting on the vine, or zucchini rotting in the fridge.

After years of this constant cycle, I finally started to shred and freeze my excess zukes for later baking. I opted for 1 cup "pucks", which fit perfectly into most recipes, and once my taste for summer squash returned I started digging them out one at a time. One of the first things I decided to whip up fit nicely into my holiday gift giving list and even made extra for snacking - a whole-grain, chunky, crunchy granola. The perfect "make now, eat later" treat as well, I originally just made a batch for the holiday giftees, but we couldn't stop snacking, especially on the carob-kissed chunks! This would be a decadent start to the morning, or an after-school snack that kids will love and not realize the innate nutritional value of. If I could take credit for it I would... but the honour of that inspiration goes to Healthy Food for Living. Either way, my family loved it - and if they love zucchini bread half as much as we do, I'm sure yours will too!

Zucchini Bread Granola

Shared with Gluten Free Wednesdays

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Favourite Gingerbread Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

I don't think there's a more quintessential holiday dessert out there than the Christmas cookie. Regardless of whether your preference is crisp, crunchy biscotti, light as air meringues, buttery shortbread or spicy gingerbread, the season is rife with variation to suit every taste.

At home, our family knows one cookie and one cookie only - my mom's classic shortbreads. To call anything else on the holiday platter "our" Christmas cookie would be nothing short of sacrilege - not to mention my sister would probably boycott the whole set of festivities given that they (and chocolate chippers) are the only cookies she'll touch. That said, those outside of our immediate household enjoy a more varied spectrum of holiday flavours - especially one of my favourite teachers (and now co-workers!), who loves anything and everything ginger-related. As such, I make it a point to bake a batch of spicy ginger cookies every year for her, always varying a touch in ingredients or method but always undeniably packed with the root. This year I took a fairly basic blend of butter, sugar, molasses and spices inserted two hits of ginger (fresh and ground) for extra pop. Sturdy enough to roll out and cut, they remain tender and fragrant after baking for days thanks to the high portion of liquid sweetener. The whole grain flours add an increased rich flavour and texture too, without being "hit you over the head" nutritious tasting.

Favourite Gingerbread Cookies

This month's Creative Cookie Exchange theme is Ginger! Dried and ground, candied, fresh--if you like ginger in your cookies you have come to the right place! 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: