Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm Really a Blonde...

Oh, happy days! After trying to post for 8 loooong hours yesterday, Blogger finally let me on to post! I even have a window of time on my Sunday to write one, too. How did that happen?

A little under a week ago I mentioned that I was doing a whole slew of baking for the latest CAFP fundraiser at my school. Well, that was on Friday, and out of everything we brought in to sell, three things went like wildfire: Christie (our president's) walnut and raisin baklava, my Oatmeal Brownie Truffle Balls (I'll share soon, I promise!) and these beauties:

See that ooey, gooey "eye" of caramel peeking out from the rich, fudgy goodness that is a dark chocolate brownie? Well, that is pretty much all that remains as a homage to the original recipe I used. You see, I made these not from a brownie recipe, but from one of the best blondie recipes I've ever seen! I found it over at Smitten Kitchen (even before my blogging days), and having made it verbatim once I was more than willing to give it a go as it's darker sibling. Out came the cocoa powder, as well as canola oil for the butter and some barley flour for nutrition and flavour. I had some leftover caramel squares from the last bake sale's apples, so I tossed those in too to mark each portion. They sunk in slightly and turned the pan into a minefield of gold nuggets!

I intentionally underbaked these slightly, just to add to the "goo" factor. I wasn't disappointed, either: even after having the pan in the fridge for a full day, they still stuck to the knife and (as you can see in the photo) were just on the dry side of molten! It's no wonder they sold as they did, and if I could have eaten one of these babies, they would have ALL been mine!

Caramel - Fudge Brownies
Makes 16
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp canola oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup barley flour
8 vanilla chewy caramel candies, cut in half horizontally
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, lightly grease a 9" pan.
  2. Mix oil and sugar until smooth.
  3. Add egg and vanilla, beating well.
  4. Sift in cocoa powder, followed by salt and flours.
  5. Pour into prepared pan.
  6. Place one half-caramel square on each sixteenth of the batter in the pan (4x4).
  7. Bake 25 minutes.
  8. Chill completely before cutting and serving.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 125.4
Total Fat: 5.9 g
Cholesterol: 13.6 mg
Sodium: 20.9 mg
Total Carbs: 18.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.0 g
Protein: 1.4 g

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Time (Un) Management

If you know me, you know I'm probably the world's worst planner. I double and triple book myself into every possible corner that exists in the world, and usually don't realize it until it's way too late! Case in point - I bought my pasta machine weeks ago to finally slake the longing I had for the home-made dough of my childhood (I had a cheap plastic pasta roller that my parents bought me) and made this dough almost immediately, but did I do anything with it then? Did I blog about it? Did I even remember the dang stuff? Noooo... until now, that is. Long after it's been eaten and (somewhat) enjoyed, this pasta makes an appearance on the blogosphere. Not that anyone's really going to see it all that quickly, it is only the major holiday in the U.S.! By the way, Happy Thanksgiving!

It wasn't that this wasn't a blog-worthy recipe either. I have so much stuff in the backlog right now that it's crazy, I have post fodder for ages! In fact, just because tomorrow is Presto Pasta Night (hosted by Daphne of More Than Words), you'll get two goodies for the price of one... the fresh dough and a great use for it!

We try to avoid anything overly "white" in our house these days, what with the diabetics and weight-watchers running around. I made this dough up to satisfy everyone, and it did! I love Kamut for both it's taste and nutritional value - buttery and vitamin-packed - and my family loves the texture of spelt too, so the combo works well! This mixes and kneads easily by hand, and you can keep the dough in the fridge for a couple days if need be. I'm going to try ravioli next!

Multi-Grain Fresh Pasta
Serves 4
1 cup Kamut flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp vital wheat gluten
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
  1. Combine flours, gluten and salt in a large shallow dish.
  2. Make a well in the centre, add olive oil and water.
  3. Stir with a fork to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients. When mixture becomes too stiff, switch to hand mixing.
  4. Knead dough until it is not sticky at all (this will take time... and muscle!) - it should be stiff but have all the flour mixed in evenly. Add water a couple drops at a time if necessary.
  5. Wrap dough in Saran wrap and let rest for 30 minutes - 1 hour at room temperature, or up to 36 hours in the fridge.
  6. Roll dough through pasta machine settings to make the thinnest sheets you can, or roll by hand in sections with a rolling pin before cutting.
  7. Cook pasta 2-3 minutes (no longer) in boiling, salted water if using immediately.
  8. If drying pasta for later, hang cut sheets or noodles on the backs of chairs or drying racks for 12-24 hours, until completely dry, and store in covered containers up to 2 weeks. Cook time will be 3-5 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 221.1
Total Fat: 2.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1.9 mg
Total Carbs: 45.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.5 g
Protein: 8.8 g

So, what exactly did I do with this newfangled pasta dough? Well, inspiration credit goes to Heidi for this one, and it's being passed to Bookmarked Recipes at Ruth's Kitchen Experiments because of it! Like many a blogger before me, I have finally embraced the goodness that is the Thousand-Layer Lasagne, and changed it up to make it my own. You will never believe the complexity that the paper-thin layers paired with a savoury tomato sauce give to an otherwise "plain" lasagne recipe. Just like baklava, it gets a central thick layer too - pureed cottage cheese that I strained to almost a custardy consistency. I found that when I chilled this before baking it (like I usually do for my lasagnes) it got kind of "gummy" (to quote my mother) - I'd bake it ASAP next time. You will also need every bit of counter space you own, especially if you're making your own pasta! If that's not your thing, use 1 lb fresh lasagne sheets from the grocery and roll them out with a rolling pin as thin as possible.

Serves 4
All the pasta recipe (above)
1 cup low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp black pepper
28 oz crushed tomatoes
2 oz red wine
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dry basil
1/2 tbsp dry oregano
1/2 tsp lemon juice

  1. Pour cottage cheese, lemon zest and 1/2 tsp pepper into a blender and puree until completely smooth.
  2. Line a strainer placed over a bowl with cheesecloth, pour cottage cheese puree into it and allow to stand covered in the fridge for 8-12 hours.
  1. Combine all ingredients but lemon juice in a saucepan, bring to a simmer.
  2. Cook 5-10 minutes, until hot, bubbly and fragrant.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Set aside.
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9" square pan.
  2. Spread a very thin layer of sauce onto the bottom of the dish.
  3. Layer over 3 sheets of pasta, then another thin layer of sauce.
  4. Repeat until half the pasta sheets are used up, rotating the direction of the pasta sheets each layer (you want it to look almost "woven").
  5. Finish with a layer of sauce.
  6. Spread all the strained cheese mixture evenly over the bottom layers of pasta.
  7. Resume layering dough sheets and sauce until the rest of the ingredients are used up, again finishing with a layer of sauce.
  8. Bake lasagne, covered, for 35 minutes.
  9. Uncover and continue baking another 5-10 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 386.1
Total Fat: 3.1 g
Cholesterol: 2.3 mg
Sodium: 1,052.0 mg
Total Carbs: 71.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.0 g
Protein: 19.6 g

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What's Winter Without Chestnuts?

There's something about chestnuts that just screams "Winter" and "Christmas". I mean, come on - there's a reason it's called "The Christmas Song"! It just so happens that we also have a chestnut tree in our backyard, though it isn't producing quite yet... it's only a baby, so we're still buying ours (albeit locally). While I'm not a huge fan of nuts myself, my stepdad loves them and when chestnut season rolls around you had better have your share under lock and key, because he'll sniff them out in a heartbeat! His birthday falls on Christmas Eve, which is also the Feast of the Seven Fishes for the Italian clan, and it was up to me to make the dessert (mostly because I knew that if I didn't, it would be storebought and impersonal, and come on, it's an excuse for me to bake!). Because of his insatiable love for roasted chestnuts and citrus, I knew they would have to find their way into the dessert. Anything whipped-cream was out due to most of the family's loathing for the ingredient, but if it was Italian in any way... well, I'd be pretty much awarded the Nobel Prize from them.

My secret weapon was the fact that I knew almost everyone in the family likes loves cheesecake... of any kind. Chestnuts... citrus... cheese... I had an interesting project! I scouted around the internet and through my cookbook library, and came across a rich, decadent cheesecake made with ricotta, rum and caramelized chestnuts in Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Splendid Table (and huzzah, found it online too!). Buuuutttt... I can't leave anything well enough alone. Instead, I used the recipe as my diving board and began to play with this "tester cake" (I didn't want to get to the big day without a bang-on recipe!).

Rum morphed into Grand Marnier, some of the ricotta changed into mascarpone, and even the candied peel became fresh-grated. I even dropped one of the four eggs from the custard, replacing it with a cornstarch-water slurry (like I use in cookies). After sticking it in the oven, I crossed my fingers and waited. And waited. And smelled... And I was not disappointed! The results looked divine, and I couldn't wait to serve it to the intendeds. The first round of slices had a good third of the cake gone in a flash - and my mom had to stop Cel from taking a second huge slice! Even Andrew (who normally eschews chestnuts) had a piece, declared it awesome, and took two more slices home! I think I'm in the good books... don't you?

I can't eat nuts of any kind anymore because of the fat content, though chestnuts in general are a good choice for dieters because they are fairly low in oils (but high in starch, if you're watching carbs there are 12.5g / oz!). Per 1 oz of raw chestnuts, there's only 55 calories and 1/2 g of fat, but also 19% of your RDA of Vitamin C! Of course, covering them in sugar and alcohol before baking them into high-fat cheese kind of negates any health claims, but it's good to know nevertheless!

You can see from the photos that this is a full-of-stuff kind of cheesecake... a chunky one, if you will. Lucky for me, that's exactly the theme of the November Cheesecake Challenge at Life's Too Short For Mediocre Chocolate. It's a little unconventional, but that's what makes it fun! Thanks also to Kevin from Closet Cooking for the roasted chestnut tutorial!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and may we all find things to be thankful for in the coming year.

Candied Chestnut Christmas Cake
Serves 16
*Note: This cake should be served room temperature, never cold, so when you've just served dinner pull it out of the fridge to warm up*
1 pound fresh, in-shell chestnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cups smooth, whole-milk ricotta
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp grated orange zest
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp cornstarch
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Score the shell of each nut halfway around and spread in a deep roasting pan.
  3. Roast 25 minutes, until tender.
  4. Peel away the shells and the inner skin, chop roughly and set in a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  5. Add sugar and Grand Marnier.
  6. Bring to a brisk simmer and cook 12-15 minutes, stirring constantly, until very thick. Add 1-2 tbsp of water if required to prevent burning.
  7. Remove from heat and beat in 1 tbsp vanilla, then allow to cool 15 minutes.
  8. Mash the nuts slightly against the side of the pot until they are the consistency of chopped peanuts. Set aside and cool completely.
  9. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 10" springform pan and line the bottom with parchment.
  10. In a large bowl, using electric beaters, combine cheeses, brown sugar, eggs and orange zest until fluffy.
  11. Combine vanilla, water and cornstarch in a small dish until smooth, then beat into the cheese mixture.
  12. By hand, using a spatula, slightly fold in the candied chestnuts. Do not mix thoroughly, it should look like a ripple.
  13. Scrape mixture into the pan and smooth the top.
  14. Bake for 45 minutes, then cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake a further 15 minutes.
  15. Turn off oven, leaving cake inside, and let sit 1 hour.
  16. Remove from oven, run a knife around the edge of the cake, and chill completely before unmoulding.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 253.1
Total Fat: 13.7 g
Cholesterol: 77.4 mg
Sodium: 67.7 mg
Total Carbs: 20.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 7.9 g

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gettin' My Groove Back

Ahh... I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I may not be finished my first semester yet (it's only the first semester?!?) but things are finally starting to wind down, and my heart rate is returning to normal after last weekend's ohmygodwhydoIhavefourpeoplesworktodoandnohelp stint. To avoid doing my work along the way (and celebrate once I finished!), I baked. A lot. So stay tuned - December's almost here too, which means Christmas baking season is nigh! In fact, today's cookies will be my first contribution to Food Blogga's second annual Eat Christmas Cookies event. You'll remember that I participated gratuitously last year... I promise there will be (slightly) less cookieage this time, but only because I don't have the time to do it all!

Of course, I say that fully knowing that I've done a mass of baking for this Friday, when we have another CAFP bake sale findraiser at my school. Nothing as fancy or decorated as the Hallowe'en treats I made will be coming in from me, though... but I did make chocolate and vanilla sables and some other snackish things that I'll share over the next couple days.

So yes, these cookies... I didn't realize it at the time, but they really are a good "Winter" flavoured snack, since they've got not only chocolate (good all year round, of course!), but cranberries, pumpkin seeds and orange extract too! Cream cheese in place of more traditional butter gives these a great "body" without the grease, which was definitely appreciated by the cookie monsters my mom works with. These cookies are so varied in texture that you'll be reaching for another before you know it... and if you really need to justify it, think of the cookies as protein! Cream cheese is good for you... right?? Ladies and gentlemen... stop your diets!

I called these "Cupboard Cookies" simply because I was in another one of those cleaning moods (again, avoiding the devil homework)!

Cupboard Cookies
Makes 40
1 cup flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp custard powder
2 tbsp cold water
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/ tsp orange extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine flours, baking soda and salt in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. Separately, combine cheese, shortening, and sugars until fluffy.
  4. Whisk together custard powder, water and extracts in a small dish, beat into cheese mixture.
  5. Gradually beat in flour mix.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds and cranberries.
  7. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet 8 minutes.
  8. Cool 2 minutes on sheets, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 86.0
Total Fat: 4.2 g
Cholesterol: 4.6 mg
Sodium: 14.6 mg
Total Carbs: 11.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.5 g
Protein: 1.1 g

Friday, November 21, 2008


Sorry, guys... until I get 4 people's worth of schoolwork done (grr...) I'm off on hiatus. Well, that or until Monday, when it's due. But I'll be bringing stuff, I promise!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hidden Benefits

It's days like these that I'm glad I have a fairly low readership for this blog - in particular that neither my fiance nor my parents read it! It's not that I've done anything they'd be ashamed of, but what I made (and Andrew ate and loved, by the way) is just a little bit more "out there" than your typical milk-and-cookies type fare. Let's just say that ignorance is bliss sometimes in the kitchen!

These are a brainchild of mine, stemming from a desire to make a good, tasty, nutritious breakfast alternative for my mom and her pals at work who are working all sorts of random hours, not to mention for Andrew who's being knocked about at Tims yet again. Light and "the fluffiest muffins ever" (according to the fiance), they're nutty and spicy and full of appley goodness, with a secret ingredient. Want to know what it is?

The humble black-eyed pea. Yup, another pureed legume sneaks into the world of baking! Don't despair, though: like most other beany sweets (think black bean brownies, pinto fudge and navy bean pie!) these muffins don't taste anything like their main ingredient. Rather, they get the nutty and buttery flavour without the "earthy" taste that's so popularly attributed to them. I'm sure this recipe will work with any other light-coloured bean you care to as well... perhaps butter beans for a truly rich taste!

Black - Eyed Babycakes
Makes 12
1 cup cooked black-eyed peas, pureed
2 1/2 tbsp fat-free nayonnaise (regular mayo if you'd like)
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup soy milk
1 cup chunky, unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F, grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine peas, nayonnaise, soy milk and applesauce.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  4. Stir dry mixture into puree mixture just until flour is moistened.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then cool 5 minutes in tins before turning out onto a rack.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 146.1
Total Fat: 5.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 63.9 mg
Total Carbs: 21.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.7 g
Protein: 2.7 g

These are fairly low-sugar and have a good glycemic index, and I'm sending them off to the Eat Healthy - Fight Diabetes event at The Art of Cooking blog. Also due to the secret "sneaky" addition, I'm submitting it to this rendition of My Legume Love Affair, which is being hosted this time by . Enjoy your sneaky sweet treats!

Monday, November 17, 2008

6th Verse, Same as the First

But before we get into anything repetitive, I have something more important to share with you...

This month is known in Australia, the U.K., the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Spain and Ireland as Movember. It is an event that creates awareness around men's health issues and raises funds for carefully selected beneficiary partners (that are also charitable organizations) in each country, with a focus on prostate cancer. Men in the supporting countries grow mustaches (among other things) to raise money in support of the charity, and Charlie Kondek from a Phillips PR firm contacted me about his adventures in the world of facial hair, asking me to spread the word!

Since its inception as a formal charity in 2004, Movember has raised over $29 million (CAD) globally and is continuously working to increase awareness of prostate cancer within the community and change the attitude men have about
their health. Movember's beneficiary partner in Canada is the
Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada (PCRFC), who is the leading national organization devoted solely to eliminating the threat of prostate cancer. The PCRFC's mission is to fund research into the prevention, treatment and cure of prostate cancer by engaging Canadians through awareness, education and advocacy.(

My grandfather has fought (and beaten!) prostate cancer three times in his life so far, and though it has taken a toll on our family it has brought us closer together and informed us all about the steps we can take to prevent this horrible disease and to catch it early in the event that it does happen. Luckily in most cases it is a slow growing beast, but as with any cancer the earlier detection the better! To further inform yourself about this initiative and the events happening in support of it, click here.

So, back to the goodies, you know the drill by now. I'm sure that even if you didn't read the lists on my blog (Omni, Vegan, Veggie, USA and Canadian!) when I posted them, you've seen them around! Yup, it's another one of those "100 lists", and this time it's all about the sweet. CakeSpy was the creator of this particular one, and since I'm a baker at heart, I had to do it! Call it a cop-out if you must, but I've been working hard at school these past couple days to catch up after the week of hell so I'm calling this a break! Unless of course you want to read my term papers... then just drop me an e-mail! I'll send them to you and you can share the pain love!

If you haven't done this list yet and you want to, here's the drill:

Copy this list into your site, including the instructions.
Colour all of the sweets you've eaten
Cross out any of them that you'd never ever eat.
Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your "To Do" List.
Optional: Comment on any items you particularly love or hate!

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
5. Beignet
6. Baklava
7. Black and white cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
9. Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)
10. Kringle
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut (Tiny Tom's at the CNE or bust!)
12. Scone with clotted cream
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
14. Halvah
15. Macarons (it's definitely on my to-do list... I have the egg whites and almond flour!)
16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers (no thanks... I know it's supposed to be awesome, but... no)
17. Bubble tea (with tapioca "pearls")
18. Dixie Cup (I had no clue what these were!)
19. Rice Krispie treats
20. Alfajores
21. Blondies (mmm... I miss these!)
22. Croquembouche
23. Girl Scout cookies (but of course... the Thin Mints are a seasonal treat)
24. Moon cake
25. Candy Apple (I prefer the caramel kind though)
26. Baked Alaska
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo bar (mmm... these are Andrew's favourite, and I'm not too adverse to them either!)
29. Baba au rhum (I'll make it, but ew, rum)
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte
32. Pavlova
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle (never again, gross!)
35. Shoofly Pie (the yummiest gooey pie there is when my gramma makes it!)
36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime) (Florida, baby!)
37. Panna Cotta
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon / mille-fueille
40. Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac biscuits
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache
44. Buckeyes
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie (mmm... lunchbox staple!)
47. Dutch baby
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies (come on... who hasn't?)
50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake
52. Rusks
53. Daifuku (they look great though!)
54. Green tea cake or cookies (my own version!)
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
56. Crème brûlée
57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (Beaver Tails and FUNNEL CAKE!!!)
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
59. Jelly Roll
60. Pop Tarts (I still remember the first time I had these... my mom brought the frosted strawberry kind home from a marathon she ran in Toronto!)
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An "upside down" dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
63. Hummingbird Cake
64. Jell-O from a mold (sadly...)
65. Black forest cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie) (I'd love to test it out!)
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer torte
69. Churro (ah, the mall used to have these babies... so good!)
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake
72. Mincemeat pie (dad's fave, not mine though!)
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
76. Pain au chocolat
77. A piece of Gingerbread House
78. Cassata
79. Cannoli (ew)
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse
82. Petits fours (meh, nothing special)
83. Chocolate Souffle (I loved making this as a kid!)
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach
86. Hamenstashen
87. Homemade marshmallows
88. Rigo Janci (again, rum = ick)
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake
92. Gateau Basque
93. S'mores (never a summer went by without em as a kid!)
94. Figgy Pudding (Christmas staple at Grandmas!)
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers (now that I know about them I will!)
97. Sables (here and here!)
98. Millionaire's Shortbread
99. Animal crackers
100. Basbousa

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baking Biscuits (again!)

Have you been to the malls yet? Good gosh, it's like Hallowe'en night arrives, but at 12:01 November first it's Christmas season! It's no wonder the mall Santas get grumpy by the time the 24th rolls around, though... I tell ya, I was sick of the carols by the time we left today. I've been called "Scroogeish" before, but in all honesty I do like Christmas - just not when it's shoved down my throat.

However, I think I'm getting ahead of myself here... Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans out there! Though I celebrated Thanksiving (twice) last month being Canadian, there's always a good reason to party: for example, I went to one heckofa wedding yesterday and had a blast!

I know these are a tad late for all the traditional turkey dinners, but there is still Christmas... and with the cranberries especially they're good for the whole winter season! I even took the opportunity to use real butter... decadence! They disappeared in about an hour when my mom took them to work even though they had no chocolate in them - so I know they're dead-on delicious.

Banana - Craisin Ginger Scones
Makes 10
1 flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 oz cold butter, cubed
1 large, very ripe banana
1 tbsp skim milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp dried cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet.
  2. Stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the butter until the mixture looks mealy.
  4. Mash the banana with milk, vanilla and sugar.
  5. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until partially combined, stir in the cranberries, then turn out onto a countertop.
  6. Knead lightly with your fingers until the dough just holds together.
  7. Pat out 3/4" thick.
  8. Cut into circles.
  9. Bake 10 minutes, cool on wire racks.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 137.5
Total Fat: 3.9 g
Cholesterol: 9.2 mg
Sodium: 26.8 mg
Total Carbs: 23.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 3.1 g

When I made these biscuits, it was really more of a use-up mixture than anything else (are we sensing a theme with my recent baking?) due to a glut of fresh parsley, a pitiful amount of Salba seeds in my pantry, and some buttermilk and cheese that were going to turn in a day or so in my fridge. Using my basic biscuit recipe as a guideline I churned out these babies, which smelled (if possible) better than Red Lobster's buns! They freeze wonderfully, which is great if (like us) there's only really one person eating them - what can I say, the housemates don't trust my cooking, I guess!

Pepper - Herb and Cheese Biscuits with Salba
Makes 20
2 cups flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp Salba seed (white chia seed)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely shredded old Cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Combine flour through baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in shortening until a coarse-meal texture forms.
  4. Pour in buttermilk, parsley and cheese, and mix just until blended.
  5. Pat out on a floured board and cut into rounds.
  6. Place on ungreased sheets.
  7. Bake 12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time.
  8. Remove immediately to wire rack.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 154.6
Total Fat: 6.7 g
Cholesterol: 3.7 mg
Sodium: 38.8 mg
Total Carbs: 19.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g
Protein: 4.5 g

Friday, November 14, 2008

Vegan Italy

My sister's going to Italy next week for a school history trip, and though it's being billed as an "educational" adventure by the tour company, nobody's being fooled here... come on, when they mention eating gelato every day as a tour highlight? However, as soon as she goes off to the Boot, it'll mark the fact that everyone in my (mom's side of the) family will have traveled abroad... but me! Sob.

Ah well, I can travel in the kitchen I guess. That is, if I'm allowed to anytime soon! I have a huge back log of things that I've made and haven't posted yet, but I have so many more ideas and goodies swirling around in my brain! I just don't have the time or the physical energy to make them all... tomorrow I'm off to a wedding with Andrew, Teaghan, Martha and my dad and Sunday I have a shopping date with my mom! I can't wait - I'll shop as long as I can stay standing (which can be dicey, as some of you who know me know!).

These eggplant and tomato stacks are my tribute to Italian travels - I found the original recipe along with a couple other keepers in a bargain-shelf cookbook (Italy the Beautiful by Lorenza De'Medici) my stepdad had picked up from Costco a couple weeks back, and it took just a couple tweaks to turn it into a vegan, fat-free lunch that I've enjoyed a couple times so far! Technically, these are supposed to be part of an antipasti platter, but they're too good to share, hehe.

I like to think of this as an all-veggie bruschetta, where thick broiled eggplant slices serve as the "bread" for a slice of fresh tomato and sprinkle of rice parmesan. A drizzle of balsamic later, and lunch is served!

Melanzane Alla Pomodoro e Parmigiano del Vegan
Serves 2
1 lb eggplant, sliced in 12 even rounds
salt and pepper to taste
1 large beefsteak tomato, sliced in 12 even rounds
2 tbsp vegan parmesan cheese
12 large basil leaves
3 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  1. Preheat broiler and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place eggplant slices on parchment, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Broil 2 minutes on one side, then flip slices and sprinkle again with salt and pepper.
  4. Broil 3 minutes on the second side.
  5. Place a tomato slice on each eggplant round and top each with an equal amount of parmesan "cheese".
  6. Broil 1-2 minutes longer, just until tomatoes soften.
  7. Immediately remove rounds to serving plates, and top each with a basil leaf.
  8. Drizzle balsamic over each round and serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 105.9
Total Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 135.1 mg
Total Carbs: 21.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.8 g
Protein: 6.2 g
WW Points: 1.5

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Seedy Experiment

I've been freezer-diving again. There is so much STUFF that I've made months ago in anticipation of some huge baking spree (though I don't know what I was thinking... who has the time for all that jazz??) and I knew I would have to crack some of it open soon or lose it to the freezer-burn Gods.

So, what do you do when you have a whack of pumpkin puree, tons of the Summer's sunflower seeds, thick, rich homemade applesauce and your Halloween Jack O' Lantern's leftover roasted seeds sitting in your freezer? Well, throw in some spur of the moment creativity and sick day boredom, and you have this crunchy-crusted, gluten-free pumpkin pie! The nuts and seeds are so delicious-smelling from the oven that I could honestly use it as a cookie... forget the pie! I never liked pumpkin pie anyways... but the family does, so it gets made. I picked the version I made last year as the base of the one I made this time, though I definitely changed it up... in retrospect I'd probably up the tofu content and make the filling a bit thicker next time. Ah well, we learn, don't we?

Happy Thanksgiving to all the American foodies out there - and to all the other ones, happy Fall!

Gluten Free Double - Pumpkin Pie
Serves 10
1/2 cup toasted, chopped almonds
2/3 cup toasted, unshelled sunflower seeds
2/3 cup toasted, in-shell pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp tapioca starch
2 tbsp cold water
5 oz lite silken tofu (Mori-Nu is GF)
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup apple butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
6 fl oz evaporated skim milk
  1. Preheat oven to 375F, grease the sides of a 9" springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Place pan onto a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, combine almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sugar. Process to a fine mealy crumb.
  3. Stream in the melted butter, pulsing to combine.
  4. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the springform pan.
  5. Bake 12-15 minutes, set aside to cool while preparing filling.
  6. Preheat oven to 425F.
  7. Mix tapioca starch and water in a small bowl, set aside.
  8. In the clean bowl of a food processor, puree tofu with the tapioca slurry until completely smooth.
  9. Add pumpkin, apple butter, brown sugar, spice and evaporated milk, pureeing completely.
    Pour into the cooled base.
  10. Bake 20 minutes, then cover the springform pan with foil and return to the oven for a further 25 minutes.
  11. Cool completely in the pan, then chill in the refrigerator before unmoulding and serving.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 212.8
Total Fat: 10.4 g
Cholesterol: 6.9 mg
Sodium: 84.3 mg
Total Carbs: 25.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.9 g
Protein: 6.6 g

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Screw It.

I'm sick. Eating food is not an option today.

But chances are you're not sick - maybe you got the flu shot I should have, maybe you have a wickedly awesome immune system, or maybe you've locked yourself away in your kitchen to avoid the plague that circulates the globe every winter. Whatever the case, if you can stomach the sight and smell of anything gustatory, make this. And don't turn it out of the pan until it's cool. Trust me on this one: you will thank me, really. Because this is what happens if you don't:

So do it.

Apple - Cinnamon Loaf Cake
Serves 12
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup chunky applesauce or apple pie filling (I used my Apple-Quince sauce)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease a loaf pan.
  2. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. Mix flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Combine melted butter and sugars in a small bowl.
  5. Add sour cream, buttermilk and egg, mixing well.
  6. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  7. Fold in applesauce.
  8. Spoon half the batter into the pan.
  9. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the batter, then top with remaining batter.
  10. Bake 1 hour, then cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 200.9
Total Fat: 6.3 g
Cholesterol: 30.2 mg
Sodium: 32.7 mg
Total Carbs: 33.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 3.8 g

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Carby Cravings

There's just something about this time of year that makes a person crave carbs. Sweets, cookies, breads... all that good stuff. If I was on a low-carb diet, I would die when Winter came around! I probably do consume more than my fair share of the bready things once the temperature starts to dip, though. The good thing about making your own bread, besides having it perfume your house to high Heaven, is that you can use it as a write-off when you go to eat it. After all, you did knead the dough, and you had to haul the flour out of your pantry too, right? Heck, when I made this bread, I reason that since I even made the pesto (pumpkin-seed roasting and everything!), this bread can't have a single calorie in it at all...

I'm warning you about this recipe... it may be one of the most comforting, addictive goodies I've ever made! Even my mom (who is usually very good with self-control, even when it comes to carbs) fell in love with this bread, snatching a slice as soon as it was cool enough to cut without disintegrating!

The recipe is a variant of my Irish soda bread dough that I spread with Friday's home made parsley and pumpkin seed pesto before rolling up Danish-pastry style (essentially double rolling... once the 'long' way, then re-flattening the dough and re-rolling it into a round, spiral shape). The taste is very unique, in that it's rich without being heavy, both sweet and salty and even includes that delicious buttermilk tang I love in my soda bread. I love how it looks too, like a mossy crag of stone or one of those marbled geodes (anyone have one of those as a kid? I love them!). The green comes from the vibrant, fresh pesto I made the other day, and makes this bread a good one to send off to the next Bread Baking Day event - coloured breads - at GrainPower! The pits in the crumb help trap gobs of butter, too (and if you use honey butter, even better!).

Herby-Marbled Bread
Serves 14
3 cups spelt flour
1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp honey
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup Pepita-Parsley Pesto

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it gets to a coarse mealy texture.
  4. Seperately, mix the buttermilk, honey and egg until well beaten.
  5. Mix wet mixture into the dry ingredients until very well combined. The dough will be very sticky, but add no more than 1/4 cup flour extra if necessary.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth.
  7. Flatten dough into a large rectangle and spread pesto evenly over the surface.
  8. Roll the dough up from the long side to make a long "snake" of dough.
  9. Flatten this log, and roll up into a tight spiral from the short end.
  10. Place the (now round) loaf onto a cornmeal-dusted cookie sheet.
  11. Bake 40 minutes.
  12. Cool on wire rack before slicing.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 176.3
Total Fat: 4.8 g
Cholesterol: 25.0 mg
Sodium: 60.4 mg
Total Carbs: 28.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.3 g
Protein: 6.0 g

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Comfort by the Spoonful

Isn't this beautiful? I had bought a solitary quince at one of the fruit stalls downtown last weekend after my acupuncture appointment, even though I had no clue what the heck I would do with it! I was clueless as to what the knobbly, green, hard thing would taste like, but I had seen so many tempting creations out on the blogs with the fruit that I was dying to try something... anything... with it. A pie sounded good, and festive... and I know somewhere I had seen apples and quince paired up... so apple-quince pie it was.

It was only after I got home that I realized that I had to cook the quince in a sugar syrup first, which for me takes all the joy out of the texture an apple pie has. To overwhelm the fruit with sugar and spice "goo" before encasing it in a buttery shell isn't how we roll at my place (yes, Teaghan, I stole your phrase!).

So, new plan. If the quince had to be cooked (as pretty much every source of mine indicated), cook it I would. But not into pie... I wanted fruit, dammit! So, I "de-pied" the whole idea and came up with this shiny, perfectly sweet sauce that I just finished licking greedily from the bowl (after using half of it for something else equally tasty, and more portable, that I'll share soon!).

The spices sparkle in this sauce, and the natural juices from the fruit with just the tiniest touch of sugar really make a shiny glaze for the chunks of quince that nestle in their creamy apple beds. Hopefully they can stand up to the other bedecked offerings at the glittery SHF this month, and thanks to Jennifer, the Domestic Goddess for creating it!

Apple-Quince Sauce
Serves 4
3 small apples, peeled and chopped
1 medium apple, unpeeled and chopped
1 medium quince, peeled and chopped
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat.
  2. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 40 minutes, until fruit is tender and broken down.
  3. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 84.4
Total Fat: 0.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.9 mg
Total Carbs: 22.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.5 g
Protein: 0.3 g

And...and...and... did you SEE this video of Jaden on ABC7 and CBS10? I love tropical fruit, and these tricks rock!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pestos and Pastas

Green is rapidly turning into a staple colour in my kitchen! This past couple weeks I've been embracing any and all ideas I've come across to make use of the half pound each of fresh parsley and garlic chives I rescued from the night frosts, and pesto-ish concoctions have been more or less the order of the day.

For the first of the two "pestos" I made, I took advantage not only of my parsley and chives, but also used up a good handful of freshly roasted pumpkin and acorn squash seeds (they taste the same, just smaller!) in place of the pine nuts. A couple cloves of garlic and a splash of toasted sesame oil made the paste even richer-tasting, and the traditional parmesan rounded out the flavours and made it creamy and thick. So thick, in fact, that I had to thin it out with pasta water to serve it!

Pepita - Parsley Pesto
Serves 6
100g fresh parsley
30g fresh garlic chives
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup shelled, toasted pumpkin seeds
red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup water
  1. Combine parsley, chives, garlic and pumpkin seeds in a food processor and pulse to chop finely.
  2. Add pepper flakes, salt and Parmesan and pulse in.
  3. With the machine running, stream in the oils and water, mixing to a smooth puree.
  4. Store in the fridge, or freeze for later.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 51.9
Total Fat: 3.9 g
Cholesterol: 0.7 mg
Sodium: 40.6 mg
Total Carbs: 3.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
Protein: 1.6 g

The next thing I made with the greenery was a pasta dish for a school-day lunch. I only used garlic chives this time, and left out the oil and nuts. Creamy ricotta stands in for the Parmesan here, and dried herbs and spices were added too. I boosted the bulkiness of this dish with strips of "zucchini pasta", but if I do this again (may not be anytime soon though - I'm still under the weather... groan!) I'll make sure to purge it well... it leached water like crazy by the time I got around to eating it! I'm sending this to next week's (being hosted this week by Inge of Vanielje Kitchen).

Chive - Ricotta Pasta And Squash
Serves 2
1 cup smooth ricotta cheese
3 oz fresh chives
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
red pepper flakes to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
salt + pepper
2 medium zucchini, peeled into thin ribbons
4 oz fettuccine, cooked and drained
  1. Puree cheese through salt and pepper in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Sautee zucchini ribbons and drained noodles in a nonstick saucepan until hot and zucchini is beginning to soften.
  3. Add sauce and toss well. Heat through and serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 440.5
Total Fat: 17.2 g
Cholesterol: 62.7 mg
Sodium: 108.9 mg
Total Carbs: 48.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g
Protein: 22.8 g

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fighting Food Waste

It happens to all of us... we buy a particular ingredient for a recipe and (because the packaging companies are sadistic) only use half or a third of the container, leaving the remainder to languish in the fridge. Or, even worse, we never get around to making that particular recipe and the cherished ingredients never get used in the first place! Yes, even in this age of economic slowdown and super-conservation, wasting food is still here... and I doubt it's going anywhere else soon.

I'm so tired of having to throw out remnants of ingredients, especially since I'm a certified food-hoarder (and Bulk Barn shopper)! As a result of all the baking I'd been doing, I've been trying to find creative ways of using up a lot of the leftovers, too! For example, I had some buttermilk nearing "detonation day" in my fridge from Thanksgiving (thank Goodness it lasts a while, essentially being pre-spoiled) and was desperate for a means of using it up. A search of my computer files yielded nothing (but granted, they aren't too organized... hey, I'm a college student!) so I turned to RecipeZaar (via Google) for inspiration. Lucky for me, I found exactly what I was looking for in this recipe! They were sweet without being sugary and stick-to-your-throat rich, and the buttermilk gave them this awesome smell out of the oven that reminded me of my mom's red velvet cake. I didn't do the frosting for these though, since cookies (in my kitchen, at least) should be good enough to stand unadorned! The only change I made was to reduce the amount of salt, and to add spelt flour in place of some of the white. Gotta get the grains in somewhere! It's close enough to the original, though, that I'm feeling okay sending it off to Bookmarked Recipes at Ruth's Kitchen Experiments.

Try as I might though, I still had some leftover buttermilk, so I made a couple other things - but you'll have to wait and see just what!

Buttermilk 'Nilla Cookies
Makes 36
1/2 cup shortening, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

  1. Preheat oven to 375F, line cookie sheets with parchment or SilPat.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  4. Combine flours, baking soda and salt.
  5. Add dry mix to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on racks.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 79.0
Total Fat: 2.9 g
Cholesterol: 6.0 mg
Sodium: 5.6 mg
Total Carbs: 12.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.5 g
Protein: 1.3 g

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

(Re) Capturing Tradition

Every fall when I was growing up my mom and I would go to our local orchard (Nature's Bounty) to spend an afternoon picking Northern Spy apples. We'd finish off our adventure with a steaming cup of fresh cider (blissfully hot after being blasted by late October and sometimes November chills!) before coming home to warm up in front of a good TV movie. The next day (or weekend), we would wake up early and get into the kitchen to spend the day making apple everything... pie, crisp, squares and sauce. One year after a particularly generous harvest, we made twelve huge apple pies and froze them, defrosting one each month for the next year! It was a major part of what Fall meant to me, and until last year it was a "mom and me" tradition.

When my mom re-married last year, it was my bad luck that her honeymoon took her out of Canada for most of out apple season. This meant no "mom" pies, though I still made plenty of apple goodies (if you recall, I'm an apple freak!). I figured that this year I would continue our tradition on my own (we missed the Spies again - this time because of my schoolwork overload and messed up foot) when it came for me to make stuff for the fundraiser.

This year, instead of one big pie (like this one), I made tartlets in a muffin tin. I also started to play around with my mom's recipe for both crust and filling (cue the anguish gasps from the peanut gallery) to bump up the nutrition and flavour while making it a bit sweeter for the tastebuds of the masses. I don't know why some people prefer their apple pies swimming in sugar (I've seen recipes with up to a cup and a half in the filling alone!) - unsweetened is the only way to go in my opinion, but I grew up that way! My recipe also plays homage to my days out in the orchard with the addition of local apple cider in the filling too... why not double (triple, actually, if you count the AC vinegar!) the apple goodness?

I'm not claiming this as a health food - it's still got sugar and shortening in it (though you could use butter / Earth Balance if you can afford it and stand to work with it - I hate making butter-based pastry!)... however, it's got good stuff in it too! Flaxseed and spelt flour add a delicate nuttiness and all that fibrey goodness to the crust, and I opted to leave the peel on one of the apples too for texture, extra fibre and the extra thickening boost from the natural pectin. I will spread the love though, and send this vegan recipe off to two events: the Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipe Carnival at Fun & Food Cafe, and Egg Replacement Event (Flax Seed Meal) at Eggless Cooking.

Apple Tartlets
Makes 8
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp shortening
3 tablespoons ice water
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 large tart apples, peeled and diced
1 large sweet apple, unpeeled and diced
1 tbsp tapioca starch
1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp apple cider
  1. Combine flaxseed and boiling water in a small dish, stirring to combine. Set aside 15 minutes to cool and thicken.
  2. Whisk together flours and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Gently stir in flaxseed mixture.
  5. Combine ice water and vinegar. Stir into the flour mixture until just blended.
  6. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead slightly just to have dough come together.
  7. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate 8-12 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 345F.
  9. Combine apples, tapioca, spice and apple juice in a bowl, tossing well. Set aside 10 minutes.
  10. Roll out pie dough thinly and cut out 8 rounds large enough to fit into 8 muffin cups.
  11. Place into cups, leaving overhang untrimmed.
  12. Fill each cup with heaping amounts of the apple mixture.
  13. Using the remaining dough, make "lids" for the mini-pies and place over filling, cutting slits into the tops for ventilation.
  14. Bake 35 minutes in the hot oven, rotating pans halfway through baking.
  15. Allow to cool thoroughly before serving.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 227.5
Total Fat: 8.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1.1 mg
Total Carbs: 35.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.6 g
Protein: 3.9 g

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Apples as Hot as Today

I honestly couldn't believe it today when I went outside... I mean, here we are in November, mere weeks away from Christmas, and it's pushing 20° with full sun! That can't be right... we must be in the middle of a serious natural oven here!

I'm still catching up on my bake sale posts (I told you I made a lot - and I'm STILL cooking and taking photos!) and I must apologize for the slowness that they're being put up - that darn school thing keeps getting in my way! I thought today would be a good one to share these apples that I did though - they have a touch of heat to them that reminded me of the gorgeous day outside! Now if only it had been this nice when I went to pick the apples I used!

Without the cayenne pepper, these are just your basic caramel apple. I do favour green or "tart" apples for this too, since the coating is so sugary. But, hey, if you like sweet (or sweet apples like the Deliciouses or MacIntoshes are all you have), use those... I'm not in your kitchen hawking over you, ya know!

Cayenne Caramel Apples
Makes 8

8 medium green apples, washed and dried well
16 oz caramel squares
1/4 cup whole milk
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place a craft stick or chopstick into the base of each apple and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, melt together caramels and milk until smooth.
  4. Stir in cayenne pepper.
  5. One by one, swirl in apples, coating thoroughly. Place on prepared sheets.
  6. Allow to set 8-12 hours before enjoying.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 254.4
Total Fat: 4.3 g
Cholesterol: 3.7 mg
Sodium: 111.0 mg
Total Carbs: 55.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.3 g
Protein: 2.5 g

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eye Spy...

So, how was everyone's Hallowe'en?? Like last year, we didn't get many kids at our door last night - our area is pretty new still and being that we're surrounded by a forest it's not like we're exactly a suburban hotspot. It's nice to have it quiet sometimes, but for Halloween, well, it sucks.

That's what school's for, I guess! To continue on from yesterday's roundup of bake sale stuff, today I'm showing you some eye candy! Oh yes, let the cheesiness begin... you see, these really are eye-shaped candies that I made for some delicious chocolate cupcakes!

When I was making my choices for my bakesale contributions, I knew that fun decorations would be playing a major role in their selling factor. And what's easier to make festive than good old fashioned cupcakes? I settled on a variation of these rich chocolate-buttermilk cupcakes made by Baking Bites for the cake before going hog-wild with the frostings... out came the icing sugar, corn syrup and food colouring for a thick, super-easy (and vegan!) royal icing. I piped out "buttons" of the sugary goo onto wax paper and topped each one with a jumbo chocolate chip for a pupil. Twelve hours later, they were rock hard and shiny, perfect for perching on top of their buttercream mountains!

Speaking of buttercream, these guys had a secret inside too - a mixture of my grandma's homemade raspberry jam and my buttercream frosting! I used my handy-dandy Bismark filler tip and stuffed the cupcakes to the brim before hiding the holes with the vanilla frosting. I put the "eye candy" on top of that and then used a store-bought gel decorator frosting to do the "bloodshot" effect. It took me a good 3 hours start to finish for the 20-odd cakes, but I think it was worth it... what do you think??

"Eye Candy"
Makes 30
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tsp soy milk
2 tsp corn syrup
food colouring of choice (I did green and yellow to get the "icky" colour)
30 jumbo, non-dairy chocolate chips
  1. Combine sugar, milk and corn syrup in a bowl, whisking smooth.
  2. Add food colouring and milk as needed for a thick but "pipable" consistency.
  3. Place into a piping bag or ziploc with a tiny hole in the corner snipped off.
  4. Pipe 30 "buttons" on a sheet of waxed paper.
  5. Immediately place a chocolate chip on the centre of each button and allow to harden 12-24 hours.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 19.2
Total Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.9 mg
Total Carbs: 4.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 0.0 g

I really only lightly used BB's recipe for these cupcakes... I swapped canola oil and applesauce in for the melted butter, and added spelt flour, honey, and instant coffee powder too. With caffeine from both cocoa and the coffee, not to mention the sugar high, what better name to give this recipe?

Rich Red-Eye Cupcakes
Makes 18
3/4 cup flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
2 tbsp honey
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners, or grease well.
  2. Whisk together flours, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  3. Pour in the rest of the ingredients, stirring until just combined.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
  5. Cool 10 minutes in tins before turning out and cooling completely on a wire rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 130.8
Total Fat: 3.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.5 mg
Sodium: 15.4 mg
Total Carbs: 24.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
Protein: 2.4 g

... and after all this sugary blood business, I even went to donate blood today! I tried to, at any rate, but the vampires didn't want my blood - seems my pulse is too low for their liking (okay, at 40bpm instead of the normal 80, it's a little low for my liking too - and my temperature is a full 2 degrees C below normal! Off to another appointment, I guess...). I did learn today that regular blood donations prevent stroke though, so if you have other risk factors, go stick a needle in your arm! Erm, safely, of course...

And you still can't keep me out of the kitchen, since I have not only more bakesale stuff to share (one more batch of cookies, caramel apples and mini pies!), but a friend's cheesecake, a batch of buttermilk - herb biscuits and a pesto - swirled loaf of bread to show you all!