Saturday, August 31, 2013

Three Chile Garlic Jam (Toast Topper #27)

What qualifies as a jam?  Does it have to be sweet? Fruity? Jelled at all? Or can any thick spread earn that label? states that a "jam" is "a preserve of whole fruit, slightly crushed, boiled with sugar".  If that's the case, I stand corrected in my terminology. But I prefer my last definition above, allowing cooked-down, thick spreads the label. That definitely includes this one - a smooth, thick puree of ancho, guajillo and roasted hot cherry peppers laced with a whole lot of garlic and cooked until spoon-mounding thick. 

As many people reading this blog know, I love my garlic and my chiles whether they're raw, sauteed or roasted. In this case, the massive amount of garlic and fresh peppers are roasted until super soft and almost sweet, so when they combine with the hotter dried peppers, honey and vinegar the overall sensation is intense flavour first followed by a gentle (but noticeable) kick. A dash of olive oil smooths things out a bit, making it the perfect consistency for smearing on burger or hot dog buns, mixing into eggs or pasta salad (hot or cold), and even thinning out a bit for use as mashed potato gravy. Whatever you call it, it's just plain old good.

Have you ever made or eaten a savoury jam? How did you use it?

Garlic Three Chile Jam
Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Friday, August 30, 2013

Double Chocolate Zucchini Cookies

I remember the days when your status in school was solidified or broken by what you pulled out of your lunchbox at noon. Dunkaroos and homemade crisp rice treats would give you an automatic 1Up in your particular clique, Arrowroots, bananas or - gasp - nothing for dessert found you at the bottom of the totem pole. My sister and I were relatively lucky in this respect, our (storebought) chocolate chip cookies earning us "middle of the road" status. But nothing was more coveted than brownies. Particularly, the two-bite morsels of fudgy goodness that were carefully doled out by parents in ones and twos, ensuring the bag would last the week.

It wasn't until highschool (when I had my own money) that Two Bite Brownies graced my plate (or palate... I doubt they ever made it to a plate) with any regularity. But the allure of the thick cookie-brownie amalgams was, and still is, strong. Since then, I've made my fair share of brownies (from cakey to fudgy) but still prefer the range of texture "brownie cookies" bring. The ones I'm sharing today are decadently fudgy and rich, with a hint of crispness on the bottom and on the craggy tops. They'd be a hit in anyone's lunchbox... kids' or parents'. But the best part? They're healthy too.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Cookies

Now, now, don't look away. Come on... these chocolate-packed things are all sorts of delicious! You can make them and mow down the whole batch guilt ridden if you prefer, but for the rest of you I'll go into a bit more detail: first, they're a good deal lower in sugar than standard cookies thanks to the Truvia I used. They're mostly whole grain, made with my favourite cookie flour - oat - and are lower fat thanks to unsweetened applesauce. They've also got a hefty dose of antioxidant-rich cocoa powder, but the real secret to their moisture and tender chew is the addition of two finely shredded zucchinis. Hey, they work in muffins and bread, why not cookies too? Thanks to Chow Vida, I can't think of a chocolatier, more portable vehicle for a veggie!

Shared with Foodie Friday

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Carob Snack Cake

I love chocolate...the darker the better. Lucky for me, most of the people I bake for do too - meaning I get to use a lot of cocoa in the kitchen. I use cocoa more often than chocolate blocks when it comes to baking, preferring it's smoothness and almost tenderizing quality in batters, but when frosting, ganache or a candy coating is the order of the day, I am all about the good quality bittersweet (regardless of what the food bigwigs recommend... for our household it's 65% minimum). Chocolate chips, of course, find their own homes in cookies, brownies and pancakes, where they can hold their shape nicely. I actually hate working with melted chocolate as a rule (especially for coating candies... it's too messy!), but I can appreciate the richness and depth it adds to a brownie, cookie or cake.
Carob Beans
What would you do with whole carob beans?

But this post is not about chocolate. Rather, it's about the most natural "chocolate alternative" I know of - carob. As a "real chocolate" fiend, I rarely venture into the realm of anything "mockolate", and depending on who you talk to (and what you buy) carob can easily be seen as a cheap, poor-quality knockoff of the "real" thing. But carob is a whole other animal entirely - never attempting to be anything but itself in it's natural state - and it's likeness to cocoa in any respect is really nothing more than a passing fancy in my opinion.

I've written about this issue before, and I thought I had treated carob with due reverence then. But I had never used (or seen) the bean as the major ingredient in anything until reading The Vegan Baker by Dunja Gulin. The book had a photo of what I thought were rich, intensely dark chocolate brownies cloaked in a shiny glaze, but when I flipped to the recipe page I was shocked to see that the bars were actually caffeine free, vegan and whole grain - thanks to the heavy use of carob in chip and powder form. I was intrigued, mostly because these bars didn't appear to be masquerading as brownies or chocolate cake. No, they were all about the fruity, exotic aroma and flavour of this pea-like legume, and in the end the cake was more like a lightly spiced snack cake than a fudgy brownie.

And the frosting... oh, the frosting! Definitely my favourite part of the whole thing, the cooked, pour-on mixture was so decadent I would have just eaten it with a spoon, no base required! However, paired with the moist and fragrant cake, the combination simply sang and neither I nor anyone who tried a piece could believe the whole thing was vegan or whole grain. Being so rich tasting, a small piece more than slakes a sweets craving, but the fibre and protein help keep that blood sugar from spiking and crashing before you finish the last crumb!

Carob Slice

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chocolate & Jam Tea Cake

There isn't much in this world that doesn't pair well with chocolate. I'm a fan of both sweet (Brownies! Cookies! Cakes!) and savoury (Mole! Chili!) applications, and whether they realize it or not, most other people are too. I'm still occasionally bemused when I watch people finding out for the first time that their favourite rich Mexican enchiladas have a sauce laced with melted bittersweet chocolate, or that grandma and mom had always stirred a scoop of cocoa powder into their beef stew or meat sauce. 

Less surprising is the seemingly universal appeal that fruit and chocolate have for each other. Like wine and cheese, the quality and richness of the two flavours, particularly when in a cooked or baked dish, are the basis of how good the final outcome will be. When I found a recipe for a chocolate and jam cake on Simple Bites, I knew that after veganizing and sugar-reducing the batter I would have to re-add some of the decadence with a few pantry staples. Luckily, I had a head start with a bounty of homemade jam sitting on my shelves, which with a touch of mesquite flour and maca powder transformed the loaf into a sweet, spicy and almost exotic masterpiece. I added little pops of bittersweet chocolate chips that semi-melted into the cake too, and finally tossed in a handful of cacao nibs for crunch and a more intensive cocoa flavour. 

By using the less sugary-sweet Vanilla - Peach Jam with Chiles and Spicy Dried Fruit Jam, plus the "spoonable" form of Truvia, the cake wasn't so saccharine that the special ingredients lost their way. Rather, each whiff of the crumb while cutting it, and each little nibble while eating it, had something slightly different from the last - a chameleon if I ever saw one!

Chocolate & Jam Tea Cake

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Toast Topper #26 Spicy Dried Fruit Jam (#RecipeRedux)

I never thought I'd take to canning the way I have. Preserve making was always something that I imagined Old World-style grandmothers doing, bound up in aprons with pots boiling and bushels of produce spread over every countertop - definitely not an activity that the average 20-something would devote an afternoon to.

But then again, I'm not the average 20-something. I guess you can say I fell into preserving out of my stubborn frugality - our garden every year is so plentiful that I hate to see any of the gorgeous vegetables go to waste! I had a bit of a learning curve at first, though. While my paternal grandmother used to make pickles, freezer jam and jellies when I was really young, she's since hung up the ladle (so to speak). My dad, while a great pancake maker and grill man (who occasionally branches into home smoking and turkey frying), is not what you'd call the homemade pantry type though. My mom is finally starting to emerge from years as a short-order cook for two (rather opposite) childhood palates, but with a relatively new (and ahem, picky) Italian family on the meal ticket plus three grown children and 8(!) pets at home (yeah, I'm one of the squatters) and a full time job, she doesn't have the time or energy to break out the antique drum-like canner and spend most of the day processing fruit and vegetables.

So I've become the next canner in the family. I was given a large canning pot by my grandma back in 2008, and with a little research I took the plunge into tomatoes and pickles - and I've never looked back. Now my repertoire grows bit by bit every year, depending on the crops we have growing and what I find at the farmers market, and I've been able to put up various tomato sauces, tomato paste, pickles, jellies and jams, mincemeats and more chutneys than I ever thought existed. With the availability of products like Pomona's Pectin, which sets jam and jelly with next to no sugar required (most pectins need a good deal of sucrose to activate), I've also been able to make preserves for those in my family looking to avoid sugar for whatever reason using stevia-based replacements like PureVia, Pyure and most recently Truvia.

It was this combination of Pomona's, Truvia and naturally rich dried fruit that created this sweet and spicy fig jam. It's a chunky-style topping that goes well with sharp cheese and a glass of wine, spooned over ice cream or simply spread on a slice of pumpernickel bread. I was able to cut the added sugar by over 50% from the original recipe, partially by replacing it with Truvia (a blend of stevia and erythritol that's 3 times as sweet as regular table sugar) and partially by simply eliminating it. There's also a decent dose of calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese (an important detoxifying agent), but most importantly there is a wallop of exotic and exciting flavour in each bite. 

Spicy Dried Fig Jam

This month's #RecipeRedux is all about Raising the Bar on Food in a Jar. Whether you're packing your lunchtime marinated salad, stashing your homemade granolas and trail mixes or (like me) canning up a storm, the Mason and Ball jars once recycled or shoved to the back of the cupboard are finally getting their well-deserved resurgence to the forefront. Check out the rest of the group's offerings below, and if you have a different innovative use for the container let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chewy Fibre Bars

I remember spending a fair chunk of my allowance at school bake sales growing up. In the elementary classes, the privilege to plunk down a few nickels or dimes for something sugary-sweet was a weekly occurrence we looked forward to. Being a fund-raising initiative, the desserts on the table were all donations from student's parents, and ranged from store-bought, over-frosted cupcakes (always tied with the Dutchie Timbits as the last item to go) to the homemade chocolate chip cookies and brownies that disappeared within the first 15 minutes of the sale opening. Then there were the items that made up the bulk of the table - middle-of-the-pack snacks like rice krispie treats, non-chocolate cookies and the occasional batch of muffins. Needless to say, nobody from age 6-13 went without a sugar high on a Friday.

While the majority of the offerings at our school bake sales were fairly innocuous, run-of-the-mill fare, occasionally you'd get something far different than what you could expect from a grocery store or coffee shop. One of my friends was famous for always bringing something unique and delicious - from Jell-O eggs and orange jelly bean "carrots" at Easter to homemade marshmallow snowmen in the winter. One week, shortly before Summer break began, she brought in a pan of thin, chewy oatmeal and raisin bars stuck together with melted marshmallows and chocolate. I never got the whole recipe out of her (granted, it was likely her mom who made them so who knows if she knew the formula), but by mixing the "bottom of the bags" from a few pantry staples, chocolate chips and Craisins with a sticky-gooey concoction of condensed milk and marshmallow fluff, I had a very similar tasting no-bake cookie bar on my hands.

Homemade Fibre Bars

By using the Craisins and bittersweet chocolate, the taste was a little less cloyingly sweet than the original which made it more amenable to adult palates. The batch is almost fat free too, given marshmallow's nature and the fact that I used light condensed milk, and the oats, All-Bran, wheat germ and psyllium add a hefty dose of fibre so that the insulin spike from the candy isn't quite so stark. However, don't be lulled into the "health food halo" by these nutritious ingredients - there is still candy and chocolate packing these treats, and sugar is sugar is sugar!

Homemade Fibre Bars

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blueberry Egg Bagels (A #SundaySupper Lunchbox)

Are you sick of the commercials for all the back to school sales yet? I swear, if I have to hear about how wonderful this time of the year is, I will not be singing praises! That said, it's back to school for me as well (Montessori teacher training!), so at least some days during the week I'll be packing up my books and a lunch and hauling off too. The joys of being a perpetual student, eh?

Of course, it's not just students that need to pack a lunch. I know most workplaces have cafeterias, or are at least located near a deli or coffee shop... but come on. We all know that food isn't the greatest in quality or nutrition - and besides, the prices at any of those places can be astronomical (and at least add up over the year!). My mom raised me to be a die-hard lunch packer, being one herself, and whether it's a salad, a container of homemade soup, or even just leftover noodles from the night before, tucking into a wholesome, homemade meal midday is definitely worth the 5 minutes it takes to stick it in a bag.

One of my mom's favourite things to pack for snacks and lunches at work (or enjoy when she's working at home) is homemade bread. She says I've spoiled her over the years with all the ones I've made for her (almost never the same one twice), but I get a wallop of joy seeing her enjoy a slice or two of my work smeared with my latest Toast Topper. Mom loves blueberries too - almost as much as she loves bread - and I originally thought she's be sick of eating them on her morning oats and as a mid morning snack.

I was definitely proven wrong! In fact, it was only after I saw her buying blueberry bagels at the grocery store to pack that I commented that I could make them for her any time, with real ingredients, whole wheat and to her taste. I made the egg-rich dough (apparently it's a Jewish style) with Pure Via Turbinado and Stevia Blend to keep the total sugar low while adding sweet flavour, and of course I boiled them in malt water for the authentic bagel chew. They turned out to be almost twins to the wood-fired beauties she remembered from her years growing up in the Jewish district of Toronto - now I just need to get myself a wood oven!

Blueberry Egg Bagels

This week for #SundaySupper our gang is sharing recipes perfect for packing. Wraps, muffins, dips and desserts are all on the table - I can't wait to dig in! This event is hosted by Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake - Thanks Liz!

Sandwiches, Wraps and Entrees:

Munchies, Salads and Sides:

Sweet Treats:

We also have a #SundaySupper chat at 7 PM each on Sunday evening. We tweet throughout the day using the hashtag #SundaySupper, then we all gather to share ideas, recipes and answer questions from 7-8 PM ET. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest Board for more fabulous recipes and food photos!

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? You can sign up here: Sunday Supper Movement

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Red Velvet Cookies

I love red velvet. From my first taste of the moist, tangy, ever so slightly cocoa-ey cake my mom made out of a TV Guide recipe I was hooked. It was different than anything I'd ever eaten before - not a chocolate cake, per se, but not really anything else either. The memory of the tangy, sweet flavour has stuck with me over the years and has snuck it's way (or at least it's colour) into popcorn, fudge, brownies and even chocolate chip cookies.

Red Velvet Star CookiesBut there's always room for one more cookie. Especially another vegan (and nut-free!) cookie, tender and laced with cocoa and tangy vinegar. And definitely one with all of the above plus a heart of bittersweet chocolate. What can I say, I love me some chocolate in my cookies! I was inspired to try another red velvet style cookie after seeing one on Tina's Cookings, and with a few swaps to make it vegan (and a workable "dough" - mine needed way more water than the original called for for some reason) I had my star-studded cookies on the trays and in the oven.

I almost didn't get to share these with you (at least the photos) though - the smell of them baking is so deeply red velvet that my mom (also a chocoholic) ate two off the cookie sheet before they even finished cooling! The teachers at work took care of about 10 more, while my grandma and mom polished off the batch over lunch. At least I can say my love is hereditary!

Shared with Sugar & Slice Sunday

Friday, August 16, 2013

Chocolate Strawberry Sandwich Cookies

Nothing feels better to a frugal freak like me than being able to use up every last scrap of a recipe. During one of our family BBQ shindigs recently, there was so much food that not many people made it to dessert - and as a result we had a half batch of No - Berry Strawberry Rhubarb Cake taking up valuable fridge space! I also had some leftover Luxuriously Healthy and Sweet Potato Frosting
in the freezer and fridge, so I tried to figure out a way to combine the delectable flavours of chocolate and strawberries without making cake balls. I like cake balls as much as the next person, but they're tedious to do and involve coating in some form of chocolate... and I didn't feel like getting more dishes dirty than necessary. Besides, I already had some cake balls in the freezer to coat (which I still haven't done!).

That said, I liked the idea of mashing up the cake and re-forming it into something else. If you remember my Miser Bars from eons ago (and my unposted, yet photographed Double Raspberry Brownie Cookies), I followed the same basic idea - baked good + liquid to make a dough, scoop and bake. For these particular ones, I wound up essentially clearing out leftover dairy from the fridge, using plain, non-fat yoghurt, cream cheese and a splash of milk. Before they baked off, I sprinkled the domes of re-purposed dough with crushed arrowroot cookies (from the "get rid of it" pile from the end of the school year). 

Chocolate Stuffed Strawberry Rhubarb Cookies

Surprisingly, they turned out remarkably well - soft and cake-like cookies with a little chew, sandwiching creamy chocolate frosting. The strawberry-chocolate combo was a winner too, not being too sweet or too bitter. The cookies got bonus points for being one-bowlers, and excellent travelers to boot!

Have you ever done something like this? How frugal are you in the kitchen?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chocolate Sweet Potato Frosting

Sorry for the ugly photo... but really, how can you make frosting au naturale look overly good? I mean, Sandi (who I adapted this from) made fantastic swirls on her cupcakes... but in all honesty I had no need for cupcakes when I made this - so the container of chocolate goo is what I've got for you. Think of it like something a nutritionist would want to know about... actually, no. DON'T. 

Sweet Potato Frosting

Besides, when it comes to anything chocolate, it doesn't matter how scatological it looks like on the outside - you can just close your eyes and take a bite. But if the taste isn't there? Game over. 

This is doubly true when it comes down to "healthy" chocolate treats. Depending on your usual diet, ignorance can be bliss - you may not want to know what went into that delicious cake, those fudgy and nutty brownies, or that scoop of cookie dough you enjoyed so much. Taste will overrule the brain's "logic" of "this can't possibly work"... once you take a nibble... but if that "healthy =/= yummy" philosophy has been ingrained for years, it can take a bit of deviousness to get there. 

Case in point is this frosting. It's rich, smooth, sweet and definitely chocolate-packed - but it's also vegan, has no refined sugar, is almost 100% fat free and has almost 100% of your RDA for Vitamin A in two tablespoons! The secret is a whipped combination of sweet potatoes, cocoa, raw agave and semisweet chocolate, with a pinch of salt and a hint of vanilla for good measure. I couldn't believe it worked so well myself - after all, I always associated sweet potatoes with savoury flavours (or French fries) and a frosting without any extra fat? How could it be creamy and spreadable like the real stuff? But there is was. And when I smeared it on my gorgeous ricotta cake (and used it to fill tomorrow's cookies) - nobody could tell it was anything but delicious.

Shared with Wellness Weekend, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday and Gluten Free Fridays

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Crispy Chewy Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I've yet to find a kid that would pass up cookies, chocolate or cereal. None of them need to be fancy, exotic or gourmet... in fact, it's been my experience that the simpler something is the better (at least for the first half of childhood or so). But when did "simple" ever mean it had to be one-note in flavour or texture? A lot of the foods marketed to kids these days is either bland, sickly sweet or refined to within an inch of its life (if not all three). And we wonder why we have a junk food epidemic?

But there are options that are still sweet, are still treats, and yet have a depth of flavour and texture that allows kids and their parents to enjoy a bit more oomph. Oatmeal cookies are a tried and true hit with the parents, and some kids, but as yummy and kid friendly as my Jammin' Oatmeal Cookies are, they are closer to the "crunchy granola" end of the spectrum and really appealed more to the older set I served them to. However, by turning the classic oatmeal cookie chewy and chocolatey, and studding it with chocolate chips, it became an all-ages event! Now, my mom's classic recipe (which I bastardized modified for this version) has a hefty dose of walnuts and/or pecans for a crunch in all the chew, but every school and summer camp I can think of has a "nut free" policy, and really, they can be pricey when making cookies for a crowd of hungry young'uns.

Crispy Chewy Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

The solution? The same philosophy as my Banana Brownies, only this time brown Brown Rice Krispies in the mix. I originally thought they'd just dissolve away to nothing (after all, they're basically air), but instead there was a delicate crispness that perfectly accented the double hit of chocolate. The hefty dose of oatmeal not only makes them filling and toothsome, but a great addition to Eating the Alphabet Challenge (M, N and O) on Meal Planning Magic

Monday, August 12, 2013

Toast Topper #25: Strawberry - Peach Jam

One of my favourite things about the summer is the abundance of sweet, local fruit. When I'm on my game (not so much this year!) I hit the farmer's markets from the day they open, scooping up any and all berries, peaches, apricots and cherries I can get my (freshly washed) hands on along with our ever-present vegetable haul. Some fruit gets eaten right away (and by that, I mean before we get home!), some of it fills our lunches through the week, and the rest of it I process and freeze on sheet trays for later snacking and jamming. By freezing throughout the year, I can cook with combinations of fruit regardless of the season. Whether I'm adding July blueberries to October applesauce, my mom is making a raspberry compote for her March birthday cake or I'm blending peak August peaches with late May strawberries for jams like this one, the flexibility and convenience is definitely appreciated. Besides, it's hard to beat the price or nutrition of local, seasonal fruit... especially since our growing season is so short compared to the south/western US and tropical countries, where most of our supermarket produce comes from.

Strawberry Peach JamBut when I have it all ready to go in the freezer, prime sweetness is mine for the taking! With my latest jam I combined the sticky sweetness of Niagara peaches, frozen strawberries from two towns over (frozen in May) and local honey for a brilliant pink concoction, then spiked it with a shot of peach schnapps for good measure! The only crystalline sugar I used was a few tablespoons to dissolve the pectin, since the Pomona's version I used didn't have any fillers to ensure even distribution through the fruit (and nobody likes lumps of pectin on their morning toast!). Smeared onto a toasted heel of bread, it was everything about the warm weather that I (and my mom) love... I can only imagine how delicious it would be spread between layers of limey sponge cake!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cheese, Smoked Paprika and Fennel Crackers (A Spicy #SundaySupper)

Who doesn't love spice? I'm not necessarily talking heat, found in such delicious (yet admittedly fire-starting) foods like chile peppers, but all those elements that bring flavour to everything and anything we eat. From the once exotic, now common cinnamon and nutmeg to the still rather outre asafoetida, mahleb and sumac, spice has been used for millenia to preserve, perfume and infuse foods that would otherwise become rancid or taste of nothing. Can you imagine a plain bowl of rice without soy sauce? A dish of lentils without ginger, curry or garlic? There's a reason pepper used to be worth its weight in gold - and why spices have caused wars, kidnappings, and world explorations.

While I love the sweet aroma of cinnamon on apple cider and cardamom in banana bread, I love my "hot" spices too! I've always been a sucker for anything hot and spicy - from mundane black pepper to almost any chile pepper I can find, fresh ginger and even raw garlic, they all have a well-deserved place in my kitchen. I use them judiciously though, since I've also been the victim of drowning my food in so much hot sauce that I couldn't taste anything at all. I try to balance the heat and flavour in order to make my meals memorable... in a good way!

This balance was what I tried to achieve in these crackers - smoky paprika, savoury garlic and onion and sweet basil and fennel all combine to temper the salty-sharp Cheddar. I used 12 grain flour for a hearty texture, almost like the gourmet ones you see on cheese trays - and in fact, we did serve these with a fruit, cheese and jelly platter, where sweet pepper jelly and blueberry butter were both a hit as toppers!

So, if you love spice like I do, you’ll love this week’s #SundaySupper! Our recipes run the gamut this week from mild to wild - everyone is bringing the flavour! This event is being hosted by Amy of Kimchi MOM - Thanks Amy!

Snappy Starters & Snacks

Hatch Chile, Grape & Grilled Onion Salsa from Shockingly Delicious
Spicy Tempeh Chips from The Urban Mrs
Sriracha Popcorn from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Cheese, Smoked Paprika and Fennel Crackers from What Smells So Good?
Baked Banana Pepper Poppers from Daily Dish Recipes
Spicy Black Bean and Corn Stew from Mama’s Blissful Bites
Caldo de Camaron y Pescado (Shrimp & Fish Soup) from girlichef
Bajia with Tomato and Chili Chutney from My cute bride
Shredded Buffalo Chicken Salad from Casa de Crews
Sriracha and Parmesan Fries from Mess Makes Food
Smoky Salmon Chowder from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Hummus with Spicy Turkish Ezme Salad from Neighborfood
Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppedew Peppers from Healthy. Delicious.
Tofu Hariyali Kebabs-(Tofu Kebabs in Cilantro Sauce) from Soni’s Food

Fiery Main Dishes

Spicy Stuffed Mexican Peppers from Peanut Butter and Peppers
Jalapeno Popper Fettuccine Alfredo from Chocolate Moosey
Baked Tilapia en Escabeche from La Cocina de Leslie
Spicy Grilled Chicken Wings with Two Dipping Sauces from Runner’s Tales
Chorizo and Scallop Skewers from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Cookin’ Mimi
Thai Cashew Chicken from Doggie at the Dinner Table
Skillet Jambalaya from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Firecracker Chicken from Juanita’s Cocina
Spiced Turkey Burger Patties from Cook the Story
Aubergine and Chickpea Curry from Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Savory Tomato & Poblano Pie from An Appealing Plan
Venison Mole Rojo from Curious Cuisiniere
Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush from Food Lust People Love
Crispy Oven Fried Buffalo Chicken Tenders from In The Kitchen With KP
Skinny Buffalo Chicken Strips from Webicurean
BBQ Chicken Pizza with Poblano Peppers and Pepitas from The Wimpy Vegetarian
Spicy Thai Beef Salad from Magnolia Days
Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes from Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Spicy Lemon Paprika Chicken Thighs from Family Foodie

Searing Sauces & Seasonings

Homemade Buffalo Sauce from Growing Up Gabel
Whole grain Mustard recipe – Moutarde à l’ancienne from Masala Herb
Homemade Sriracha Sauce from kimchi MOM

Zesty Sweets & Sips

Cinnamon Streusel Scones from Killer Bunnies, Inc
Fiery Pomelo from My Other City By The Bay
Cinnamon Monkey Bread from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Cinnamon Peanut Butter Skillet Blondies with Ice Cream from Vintage Kitchen Notes
Goldilocks and the 3 Asian-Fusion Bars from


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 EDT. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sautéed Tuscan Cabbage & Oyster Mushroom Gnocchi

Sometimes I wonder where my head is at. I've been making this for weeks now, but it took me till today to actually write up a recipe! I think it's because to me, dinner is rarely done with a recipe (or blog worthy) - like I'm sure most food bloggers feel. Besides, the original recipe was in my copy of Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Garden, and it wasn't until I made it a few times that I modified it enough to call it my own.

Like most of my meals in the summer, the bulk of my changes to the recipe were a result of what I found at the farmers market and in my backyard. I bought a ton of kale from one farmer (hey, it was $1.50 a bunch and "non-certified" organic!), swooped up garlic scapes and onions from another, and finally visited my favourite vendors - the mushroom guys - to see what they had for sale. They always have something new and unique to offer, and over the years we've built a rapport with them, swapping recipes and finding out key bits of info (like their upcoming cookbook!). The night I first made this gnocchi and kale dish, they had gorgeous, huge king oyster mushrooms and I had to get them! I wasn't disappointed! "Meaty", but not overly "mushroomy" in flavour, they played off all the other veggies, backyard herbs, lemon juice and Gia Russa Mini Gnocchi I had bought downtown (GFers can definitely use their favourite pasta, I've found Caesar's Vegan Potato Gnocchi amazing - just cut them in half for the size). I couldn't think of a better way to eat the rainbow!

Sautéed Tuscan Cabbage & Oyster Mushroom Gnocchi

Submitted to Gluten Free Friday (with the GF gnocchi option) and Wellness Weekends

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Peaches and Cream Muffin-Cake #DessertChallenge

During my Summers on our sailboat as a girl growing up, I could easily eat my weight in peaches and cherries each and every day. Out in the sun, with the water still dripping from my hair, I'd (re)soak myself in juice by taking a (far too big) bite of one of Niagara's finest, continue the carnage all the way down to sucking the pit completely clean, then jump back into Georgian Bay to both clean off and continue frolicking. Back in those days, I loved peaches almost as much as I loved to swim outdoors, and for those few months it seemed like it was almost all I did.

Peachy Muffin Cake

I guess because I grew up (and still basically live) with peaches treated with the reverence of gold, I never really "got" the extra treatment others would give to the fruit. Peaches, strawberries and cherries were intensely seasonal, only to be consumed fresh and as local as we could get them - not dressed up with cake, pudding or even cream. Today, I still refuse to bake or cook with prime season fruit from local farms - I save those preparations for either out of season, imported or IQF produce. Generally, this works out well, since I can get a huge bag of peaches flash-frozen from last year's August crop at the farm stand for next to nothing, and my stepdad regularly brings home Costco crates of gigantic (but green-picked) California peaches. For these two versions of my precious fruit, I don't mind adding a little glitz - which brings me to this month's Behind The Curtain Dessert Challenge - Peaches and Cream.

While we were told that the "cream" didn't have to be literal, I still used two forms of creamy dairy to make this muffin-like cake. The first was a low-fat peach yoghurt, the second was rich, luxurious melted ice cream. Then, I added a third "creamy" ingredient that may be a bit unusual - pureed silken tofu! With a little fizzy lift (and some extra flavour and sweetness) from ginger ale and some texture from rolled oats, the cake portion holds the chopped peaches in a sweet embrace, infusing ever so slightly unripe fruit (which is much easier to peel, by the way) with a subtle flavour, while soaking up the extra "peachiness" from ripe, seasonal fruit if you choose to use it.

Lady Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge
On Lady Behind the Curtain

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

No - Berry Strawberry Rhubarb Cake

This year has seen the development of a love/hate relationship between the human "inside" members of my family and the "outside" pseudopets that are the rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks living in the backyard. For some reason, we have seen nothing but trouble from the normally adorable and harmless furry weed-whackers - the early growing season saw them breaking open our bird feeder, noshing on my mom's pea vines and burrowing for flower bulbs, and now we've discovered the total decimation of our hostas (which we had to re-plant after a similar bunny banquet last year), marigolds and columbines as well as the uprooting (and eating) of all my heirloom carrots and beets! We knew it would only be a matter of time before the wildlife got hungry for our produce, but when we came across little baby Peter (or Petra, who knows) in the strawberry patch it was the last straw.

In the Berry PatchI put my foot down against my stepfamily's initial plans to serve rabbit for dinner (as much as I don't like what they're doing to the garden they do deserve to live), so eventually we jury-rigged some chicken wire cages around the most appealing veggies. Unfortunately it was too late to save the peas, beets, carrots and most of the strawberries... I hope the bunnies and squirrels had a good feast, since next year they won't be so lucky!

I was really disappointed by the disappearance of the strawberries - while they aren't my all time favourite fruit (that honour goes to both peaches and cherries), I did like their ever-present availability right outside the back door. Last year, when we first started growing the "day-neutral" strawberries in a small patch of dirt between rows of grapevines, they became the perfect snack during a break from weeding. I had great plans for the (new, expanded) patch this year - pies, jam and this cake, to name a few - especially since we also have a rhubarb plant that adores the Summer heat! I did buy a couple baskets from the farmers' market to make the preserves I planned on, but with no berries to be found for my cake I figured I'd just have to freeze the extra rhubarb and cut my losses.

Luckily, as I was getting out the bags for my chopped rhubarb stalks, I discovered a couple boxes of vegan Jell-O that I had bought downtown earlier in the year on a whim and forgotten about. I vaguely remembered seeing a cake recipe online with Jello as the principal flavouring agent, and decided to give it a go with this stuff (which for what it's worth tasted eerily like the "real deal").

(No-Berry) Strawberry Rhubarb Cake

What came out of the oven smelled like the strawberry or cherry-chip boxed cakes I remembered from childhood, and looked just as candyland-like. Lightly pockmarked by the dense bits of rhubarb and with a hint of texture from cornmeal, the crumb itself is bright pink with a vibrant fruity sweetness. I thought the "gel" factor of the powdered mix would cause a "gummy" problem in the final product, but neither I nor any of my taste testers detected one - rather, the crumb was light, moist and fluffy, staying that way for several days. The added sweetness from the dessert mix got tempered by the relatively sour rhubarb, making it agreeable for both childlike sweet teeth and more "adult" palates. Not only did it find favour as a plain "picnic cake", but when I drizzled a few pieces with dark chocolate for my mom to pack in her lunch I was told it was "dangerously good". I even re-purposed the very last bits of it by turning them into chocolate-filled sandwich cookies!

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Banana Berry Granola Bars - Guest Post on Grain Crazy

First of all, I am honoured to be guest posting for Cherie and Britney on Grain Crazy! Being fellow members of the Recipe Redux team, we follow the same philosophy of nutritious, but tasty, foods that can be accessible for everyone!

Stuff like these decadent, gluten free, almost vegan (they contain honey, but you can swap agave) Banana Berry Granola Bars. Yum, right? Find the recipe and more on Grain Crazy today!
Banana Berry Granola Bars

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jammin' Oatmeal Cookies (A Musical #SundaySupper)

Do you like oatmeal cookies? Growing up I would only eat them if they met a set of criteria: they had to be chewy but not fally-aparty and they had to have chocolate in them. They'd get bonus points if there was an icing face smiling up at me, which meant that they had come from the bakery around the corner from my school and were guaranteed to have the former two elements as well. Oatmeal-raisin didn't overly excite me, although when my grandma made them with us after school she'd always chuck in a few chocolate chips with the "healthier" fruit so I would eat them!

Over the years, I've come to like oatmeal cookies with peanut butter, with bananas, with raisins alone, and even those with a mix of fruit, although chocolate will always be my main squeeze. But for some reason I never thought to try a combination of peanut butter, oatmeal and jam! After all, I love PB & J on oatmeal bread, so why not make it a sweet after-school snack?

Obviously, simply adding jam straight out of the jar would mess with the wet-dry balance of the dough. But then I realized that fruit leather is really just a semi-dried jam, really, so why wouldn't that work in the recipe? Looking in my pantry, though, I discovered I had no jam (obviously we needed groceries), but I did find a long-neglected can of cranberry sauce that a well-meaning guest had brought last Christmas. I pureed the can with some leftover applesauce and a pinch of sugar, spread it out fairly thick (well, thick for fruit leather) and popped it into the oven for most of the day. What I wound up with were delicious bites of jam-like flavour almost like the bits from King Arthur Flour (which I can't get here) and prime for cookie-ing.

The rest of the cookie mixture is a mess of good flavours too - rich, natural peanut butter is the only fat source, built up with brown and powdered sugars, a dash of maple syrup, whole grain flours and oats. They come out of the oven everything an oatmeal cookie should be in my eyes - and even though they bake up wonderfully right after mixing, if you let the dough chill in the fridge a few hours (or overnight), they're even better.

This week's SundaySupper is all about music-inspired eats. With the obsession with adding jam to the cookie books, is it any surprise that I couldn't get Bob Marley's Jammin' out of my head the entire day? Here's what the rest of our band has put together, and thanks to Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen for hosting!

Prelude (Beverages):

Overture (Appetizers):

Intermezzo (Entrees & Sides):

Finale (Desserts):
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Got Yer' Cookie in My Oatmeal Cookies

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vanilla - Peach Jam with Chiles (Toast Topper #24)

Last Christmas my family and I were the lucky recipients of a jar of vanilla-chipotle-pear jam from one of my neighbours. It was fantastic - as I knew it would be, given that they own one of the best-smelling southern BBQ joints in town, and their BBQ beef brisket lasagne was apparently out of this world when my stepbrother (a huge fan of Buster Rhino's) made it over the holidays last year. The jar disappeared all too soon, and when it came back around to "jamming" season I couldn't wait to see what the flavours of chile powder and vanilla could do to other fruit! When mom and I came home from the farmer's market with a huge basket of peaches, fresh from Niagara (it's not quite their time up here in the GTA), I had my fruity foil. 

I've been making a lot of lower-sugar jams this year, partially to save a bit of cash (sugar gets pricey!) but mostly because the majority of the people who will receive them at Christmas are avoiding it for one reason or another. That doesn't mean I've stopped sweetening them, but I've been lucky enough to have the chance to try out a few natural sweeteners this year too and for the most part I've been extremely pleased with the results! For this jam, I used a combination of  vanilla sugar and Truvia, a blend of stevia and erythritol that's 3 times as sweet as regular table sugar. While I wasn't totally thrilled about the use of a sugar alcohol with an already naturally sweet herb (even though erythritol is minutely present in nature as well), I wasn't planning to use a bucket of the stuff, and figured that in a jam, the amount per serving would be almost non-existent. My main issue was actually a rather embarrassing one - conversion. Even though the Truvia website offers a handy chart, I found that it actually took about 2 tbsp to get the sweetness of the 1/4 cup of sugar I was going for in the original, not the 1 1/2 stated. This could be an anomaly, but I noted it for future reference to be safe. Rule of thumb: taste as you go!

Vanilla - Peach Jam with Chiles

Anyways, making the jam is a fairly simple process, and you can really modify it to suit your preference. My peaches were really ripe by the time I got to making them into jam, so they broke down more than I anticipated (and their juice got all over my hands... poow me :-) ). However, the slight smokiness and spice from both the ancho and chipotle chile powders I added really accented and tempered that sticky sweetness, while the vanilla was a present but subtle note that jacked it up enough to make it taste gourmet. My mom tells me it's fantastic on toast, and has even used it as a condiment on broiled pork chops with dinner! 

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