Monday, March 31, 2014

Toast Topper #43: Flavourful Brown Sugar - Apple Jelly

My family is definitely an apple-cinnamon loving group. It's impossible for me to think of a year going by without a trip to the apple orchard, followed by endless afternoons of pie, sauce, square and butter making and a still-warm serving of the finished product for dessert. Last year, being in possession of a hand-me-down juicer and more apples than even we could take down at once, I juiced the leftovers (a mix of Spy, Mutsu and Spartan) and froze it in jars for later cooking, baking and pure enjoyment. 

Eventually we came to the end of the stash (although there is still *one* more pie in the freezer) except for a pint jar of juice. I was pining for the rich, caramelized flavour of my Roasted Apple Butter by then (it just doesn't taste the same with storebought fruit) and decided what better to do than highlight the hints of Autumn in a jelly? With the help of dark brown sugar, maple syrup and organic Pyure stevia along with spicy cinnamon, the juice turned from pale and plain to a brew similar to mulled cider. I relied on the low-sugar setting power of Pomona's pectin (definitely my favourite pectin!) for the "heavy lifting" of the gel, and while I kept one half-pint jar in the fridge for immediate enjoyment I canned the other one for later. I have a feeling that it will disappear before we know it - a sure "toast" to successful preserves!

Flavourful Brown Sugar - Apple Jelly

Friday, March 28, 2014

Curried Basmati and Beluga Soup

When it comes to packing lunches, my mom and I love to travel the world through a variety of soups and stews. It's not just a Winter thing either - in the Spring and Summer when the produce starts looking healthier and coming down in price, we stock up and I get into the kitchen with more of an inspiration than a recipe as my roadmap. With the fresh flavours of the garden as a strong backbone, it's child's play to pick a "theme" of flavours and run with it - allowing us to travel the world with nothing but a spoon.

Sadly, it's not quite warm enough for the tender crops to grow yet, and it will be at least July before the peppers, zucchini and tomatoes are starting to come out in the garden (if we're lucky). However, the hardy crops like carrots, storage onions and celery are omnipresent in the stores, and almost always economical "fillers" for a bowl of soup. Likewise, the bulk foods aisle (or store) is packed with cheap, healthy inspiration with it's bevy of whole grains, dried legumes ad spices. Making those items into the cornerstones of my latest batch of soup, I managed to simmer my way into a fragrant, lightly spicy pot of Indian flavour. Brown Basmati rice thickened the vibrant yellow broth that was filled with carrots, onion and celery, pairing beautifully with the tiny black lentils. I love using black lentils in soup and stews like this because they hold their shape, unlike red lentils and split peas which tend to disintegrate with cooking. Don't get me wrong - a red lentil pureed potage is perfectly delicious when you're aiming for that, but with so many other "chunky" things going on in this I wanted the texture to remain. A simple but effective finish of fresh ginger and tamari heightened the spice and umami while keeping all the other flavours bright. It's a deliciously healthy way to warm up your surroundings and forget that there's still snow on the ground outside!

Curried Basmati and Beluga Soup

Shared with Wellness Weekend and Gluten Free Fridays

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Blondies - It's #chocPBday!

I am so excited - today is probably one of the best days ever for a sweet and salty flavour-holic like me - it's Chocolate Peanut Butter Day! Carla  (my pal from Chocolate Moosey) and Miriam (the Overtime Cook) created this event, joined by 31 bloggers with a passion for the PB&C mashup. We've got all sorts of recipes for you today, from cookies and bars to scones and muffins, not to mention fabulous prizes from our sponsors - OXO, King Arthur Flour, and Peanut Butter & Co.!

Not only will we each have the roundup links on our pages, but you can join in the fun all day by following the hashtag #chocPBday on Twitter,  social Facebook and Instagram and sharing your favorite chocolate + peanut butter recipes. Need inspiration for your own creations? Just follow our Pinterest board, you'll find all sorts of goodies!

Chocolate - Covered Peanut Butter Fluff Blondies

What about those prizes I mentioned?

#chocPBday is fortunate enough to be partnering with OXO, King Arthur Flour, and Peanut Butter & Co. to bring you three fabulous prize packs perfect for indulging your inner (or outer) baker. If you love to bake, you don't want to miss this! You'll find the RaffleCopter widget underneath my recipe.

    What are we waiting for? It's time to get our #chocPBday on!
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Parfait by Hip Foodie Mom
    Dark Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies by Mind Over Batter
    Chocolate & Peanut Butter Crumb Parfait by Hungry Couple
    Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Doughnuts by It's Yummi!
    Flourless Peanut Butter Cup Swirl Brownies by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
    Buckeye Cheesecake Bars by Chocolate Moosey
    Peanut Butter & Chocolate Scones by All Day I Dream About Food
    Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Jam Bars by Poet in the Pantry
    Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls by Cindy's Recipes and Writings
    Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cannolis by Souffle Bombay
    4 Layer Chocolate Brownie Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting by Neighborfood
    Mini Chocolate Caramel Peanut Butter Cheesecakes by The Spiffy Cookie
    Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars by Crumb: A Food Blog
    Chocolate Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies by Jen's Favorite Cookies
    Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies by In The Kitchen With KP
    Peanut Butter & Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies by The Cooking Actress
    Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle by Kelli's Kitchen
    Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream by Kelly Bakes
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Biscotti by Lauren Kelly Nutrition
    Chunky Peanut Butter Stuffed Brownies by Snappy Gourmet
    Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Bars by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
    Peanut Butter Bundt Cake with Chocolate Cheesecake Filling by Overtime Cook
    Chocolate Peanut Butter Cinnamon Rolls by Gotta Get Baked
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Quick Bread by Magnolia Days
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream by Kudos Kitchen By Renee
    Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips Bars by Roxana's Home Baking
    Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Blondies by What Smell's So Good
    Chocolate Peanut Butter Earthquake Cake by I Wash You Dry
    Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares by Food Lust People Love
    Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cups by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
    Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Krispie Cheesecake Bars by Food Faith Fitness
    Peanut Butter Fluff Blondies
    My contribution to the party is one of my old favourites from childhood, gussied up for the occasion. I have been a fan of chewy peanut butter blondies for as long as I can remember, and when I went to university it took a lot of self-restraint not to blow my whole food plan budget on the cafeteria's to-die-for chocolate covered version. After a few excuses to eat trial runs, I discovered a combination of ingredients that created exactly what I was going for - sweet, salty, moist (but not greasy) and chewy. The aces up my sleeve, as far as I can tell, are the apple butter for an intense moisture (without sogginess or grease) and my homemade Egg White Mallow Fluff, which brought a sweet, sticky chew. There's enough sweetness between the sugar, xylitol and Fluff that natural-style peanut butter worked beautifully, especially when paired with whole wheat flour.

    Of course, Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Blondies are nothing without the chocolate! For that, I picked my favourite stevia-sweetened dark chocolate and melted it over a double boiler with a small scoop of coconut oil. Cubes of blondies got a quick dunk, then were sprinkled with peanut butter chips to finish. The slightly bitter edge of the chocolate perfectly balances the salty-sweet cake interior and gives a gorgeous colour pop too!

    Sunday, March 23, 2014

    Egg White Mallow Fluff

    Egg whites are marvelous things. I don't know of anything else that is so versatile and fascinating to work with - an intricate web of proteins that can be made sweet or savoury, scrambled or baked for breakfast, whipped into lunch or dessert souffles, piped into delicate macarons or dolloped into crisp-chewy pavlovas, there is almost nothing they can't do.

    One of my favourite applications for the humble egg white is marshmallow fluff. Since finding the recipe in Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats by Eileen Talanian, my variation has been my go-to answer when I have at least two whites left over from bread, cookie or cake baking. Not only is it a gooey, sticky and more flavourful version of the storebought Fluff perfect for your next hot cocoa or crispy cereal treats, but it makes a killer ice cream swirl, frosting and general baking ingredient. It's even perfectly freezer-friendly... and if I may add, tastes delicious scooped out of the frozen tub in the middle of the night! 
    Egg White Mallow Fluff

    Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

    P.S. --> Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of Homemade Condiments: Artisan Recipes Using Fresh, Natural Ingredients! Find all the details on this post - good luck! 

    Coffee Crisp Coffee Cake

    I come from a family of coffee fans. One of my most concrete memories is when my parents, sister and I would go up to our sailboat on Georgian Bay on summer weekends - while the days could be hot and sunny, you could bet those mornings were as chilly as the lake, and definitely required a hot beverage alongside the cereal or pancakes that started our day. Without electricity for a coffee maker, though, my parent's brew was from instant crystals and usually milked way up - cafe au lait style. While my sister never got on the coffee bandwagon (she's a tea gal through and through), by the time I was 5 or 6, I got my foot in the "coffee" door and was matching them cup for cup, and now my cup is black and unsweetened. 

    Two of the other things my parents and I share a love for are Coffee Crisp bars and coffee cake. What can I say? You stick "coffee" in the title of something and you can be sure we'd at least give it more than a passing glance. When I came into possession of a bagful of Coffee Crisp bars after the holidays (courtesy of my workplace), I threw them in the freezer with no definite plans. I figured something would eventually percolate (excuse the pun) into fruition.

    And it did - a delicious combination of nutty whole grains, flax, and psyllium, the bitter edge of espresso and the sweetness of the chocolate bars all baked into a moist, rich cake. I used Truvia for half the sugar to cut down the sucrose a little bit (I was cooking with candy after all), but make no mistake - this is definitely a treat.

    Note: I know Coffee Crisp is a Canadian product - if you can't find it, something like Loacker Quadratini Cappuccino Wafer Cookies is a good substitute, or use your favourite chocolate "sugar wafer" cookies and up the instant espresso a touch.

    Coffee Crisp Coffee Cake

    Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of Homemade Condiments: Artisan Recipes Using Fresh, Natural Ingredients! Find all the details on this post - good luck!

    Friday, March 21, 2014

    Ever - Variable Cooking Creme (and a cookbook #giveaway!)

    My family is going through a "mock-rosé sauce" phase. It probably started due to an overabundance of homemade ricotta in the fridge, which my mom started adding to every pasta dish for a bit of variety and tang, but when the homemade stash ran out the cravings were still there. My mom, being the main cook and grocery shopper, started buying tubs of processed ricotta as a substitute, but she kept complaining that they were a) expensive for how fast they went through them, b) they disappeared too fast (my stepfamily would gob it on their toast in the morning) and c) the storebought didn't have the same fresh tang as my standard recipe. Normally, I'd be more than happy to whip up a batch, but knowing that I probably wouldn't have time this week (darn that schoolwork) I suggested something I had heard about online but not tried yet - Cooking Creme.

    It sounded like the perfect option for our on-the-go family: a semi-pourable creamy cheese designed for cooking, and I assumed it was just that - super soft cheese. When I checked it out at the store, though, I was balked as much by the host of non-foodlike ingredients as by the price tag. Over $5 for a teeny container of mostly unpronounceable chemicals? Come on. Then I saw a recipe on Finding Joy in My Kitchen to make you own - two ingredients, purely customizable, and cheap compared to the manufactured version.

    Ever - Variable Cooking Creme

    I did have to make changes to that recipe, though. The original used chicken stock as the cooking medium, which to me seemed too salty (even using a low sodium version) and definitely lacked the tartness my mom was looking for in her dairy addition. I considered yoghurt, but nixed it when I realized it might curdle too quickly. Then it hit me - buttermilk. Naturally thick, tangy, and perfect for melting with the cream cheese, it's also plain enough that the herbs and garlic I added could be tasted without any off flavours. A short time later I had a good-sized container of my concoction mixed up and chilling in the fridge, perfectly ready by the time dinner was in the works. A couple spoonfuls added to the pot of marinara sauce added the perfect amount of creaminess for a weeknight pasta supper, and the fact that it keeps so well has earned it a spot in our condiment rotation.

    Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    Creamy Tomato Soup

    Well, it seems like Spring is finally here - according to the calendar at least! Today was nothing if not grey and dreary, alternating between wind and rain... the type of outdoor atmosphere that makes you need to take a shower when you come back inside, just so that you can get thoroughly wet and not simply damp. Definitely comfort food weather.

    When it's like that outside, there's nothing better to me than a bowl of hearty soup filled with bright flavour. Luckily, I still had roasted tomatoes from last year's harvest packed snugly in my freezer, all screaming of Summer's sweetness. I spotted a recipe for a chunky, creamy tomato soup in The Greek Yogurt Cookbook: Includes Over 125 Delicious, Nutritious Greek Yogurt Recipes the other day and knew I had to try it - not only did I have the aforementioned tomatoes, but my mom is a Greek yoghurt freak. For a more "authentic" tomato soup texture I pureed the works instead of leaving it chunky, and added a few extra herbs and some Parmesan for a bit of pep. After a short simmer, my mom snuck a spoonful (okay, a bowl-ful) and declared the finished product "Italian Summer in a bowl", reminiscent of a great spaghetti sauce with a touch of creamy tang. I didn't get a chance to try it on pasta (or mixed into rice, my favourite way to eat tomato sauce), but you can bet that this Summer this will be on the rotation for sure! 

    Creamy Tomato Soup

    One thing I will say in terms of ingredients - choose canned fire roasted if you can find them, or low-sodium whole if not, if you don't have plump, ripe tomatoes right outside your door or at the farmers market. Your mouth will thank you for it. The other note is that you can use low-fat milk, but use full-fat Greek yoghurt (or homemade whole milk yoghurt ) - it's less likely to curdle, which won't hurt the taste but throws off the texture. 

    Shared with Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    Carrot Cake Granola #EatAtoZChallenge

    Okay, I'm officially on a carrot cake kick. First the Honeyed Carrot Cake Butter, now this granola? I'm dedicated to morphing one of my favourite treats into everything possible. After all, I already did many, many versions of the cake form itself, right? I even did a couple cookies. So I guess now it's time that breakfast gets it's due.

    Carrot Cake Granola

    I wish I could have taken credit for this fantastic breakfast-dessert mashup, but I'm not quite that creative. No, that honour goes to Heather - when I saw that jar of goodness I knew I had to try something similar. The original recipe was pretty au naturale for my taste though - my family is known for liking lots of "stuff" in their mixes, so I decided to add a handful of the things we like in our carrot cake to the oat-carrot mix. In the end, I wound up using raisins, dried pineapple, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds for a truly "breakfasty" experience. I also bumped up the amount of carrots, since if I'm going to eat carrot cake anything it better taste like carrots!

    In the end, the recipe really looks nothing like the original, but there's no way I would have gone into "veggie granola" territory without seeing someone else do it first! Whether you sprinkle it on oatmeal, make yoghurt parfaits, add crunch to ice cream or baked apples, how can you go wrong?

    Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge

    It's time for this round of the Eat A to Z Challenge hosted by Meal Planning Magic, Sparkles and a Stove and Alida’s Kitchen! This month is "C" and "D" foods - think back to Sesame Street and share the love on the hop page up till March 19!

    Saturday, March 15, 2014

    Vegan "Egg Yolk" Substitute

    Since I do a fair amount of eggless and/or vegan baking, I've become relatively skilled in the standard egg replacers and their applications - bananas, tofu, flax, chia, and starch mixtures like my Homemade Egg Replacer. They all work to varying degrees (depending on the application you're looking for) but one thing I noticed is that they all replace whole eggs. Normally, it's not an issue, since most cookies, quickbreads and cakes use the whole thing, but when I was asked to make my mom's infamous shortbreads in a class with an egg allergy, I had a bit of a dilemma. The shortbreads get their trademark tenderness from egg yolk, and yolk alone - something that I had yet to find a replacement for in my travels.

    I originally thought I'd have to give up on that recipe and was browsing for another (all the while moping that my kids wouldn't get to have "real" ones), but apparently the Cookie Gods were feeling generous that day and directed me over to the Better Batter website. I'd heard of Better Batter but it's not widely available here, so I don't use it (I make my own gluten free flour blends), but what was interesting was that their site had a recipe for a vegan egg yolk substitute. I cannot tell you how giddy I got (yes, it's sad) - like my whole egg replacer, it's a mixture of starches and water, but it's cooked together before oil (to replace the fat in the yolk) is beaten in.

    Now, I didn't have their product to use, and since my mom's shortbreads use regular flour anyway I knew being gluten free wouldn't be necessary. I settled on mixing all-purpose flour with my favourite "batter egg" replacer - chickpea flour - for a blend of rich flavour and convenience (although I can't wait to try this with GF flours too). I also didn't need 9 yolk's worth of the mixture - even though it keeps well up to a month, I had no guarantee that I'd need that much before it went bad! So a little scaling-down went into play and I wound up with a perfect substitute for the two yolks I needed.

    Vegan "Egg Yolk" Substitute

    I couldn't believe how easy it was, and even though the colour was paler than a "real" egg yolk (obviously), if you need the colour you could easily add a drop or two of dye or a dash of turmeric.The one thing I did notice was that you really do need an electric mixer to make this properly. Surprisingly, I'm loath to drag out appliances for most things (mostly I don't want to clean them!), and thought that because it was such a small batch I could get away with my trusty spatula. Nuh-uh. That oil needs to be beaten into an emulsion with the cooked starch and normal arm strength just can't cut it (if you're a bodybuilder, by all means give it a whirl!).
    My Mom's Shortbreads
    As you can see, the shortbreads turned out perfectly - nice and tender, just like Mom's! That was the true test - and I have to say this earned a permanent spot in my arsenal.

    Shared with Wellness Weekend

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    Low Cal Peanut Cookie Bites

    Speaking as someone who spent most of their adolescence on a diet, I know that some days you just need a cookie. Now granted, most of those days you're ready to say "calories be d@mned" and reach for the Oreos, but then you have the whole guilt factor kicking in afterwards... and who needs that? Besides, for those people unfortunate enough to have allergies or celiac, your run-of-the mill cookie just won't cut it.

    My whole class last week was definitely in need of some comfort food, given that most (if not all) of us had spent many sleepless nights completing a project the week before. Counting my instructors, 10 of the 11 of us are women - and even though I doubt anyone is on a weight-loss regime at the moment there is something to be said for having something more figure-flattering in the break room than store-bought muffins, doughnuts and croissants. Given that one of my classmates has celiac and at least one other is vegan, I try to be fairly inclusive in my offering that way too... that way everyone can share the same thing without having a separation between "safe" foods and "everything else".

    I came across this cookie recipe a few weeks ago and couldn't wait to give it a try. I mean, really - vegan and gluten free, but with chocolate and peanuts too? I'm sold! I wound up making my drops a bit bigger than the original, so each cookie is 46 calories instead of the advertised 25, but that's still a far cry from the 160-odd you'll find in a packaged cookie! Heck, these are even light enough that you could sandwich two around a spoonful of my date fudge frosting, your favourite jam or more peanut butter and still have room in your "dessert calorie" budget for a side of fresh berries!

    Sugar Free Peanut Butter Drops

    One of the ways I kept the calories low was with Truvia in place of any sort of caloric sweetener. A blend of erythritol and stevia, it's sweeter than sugar without the strong aftertaste that pure stevia can carry. So far, I've found it useful in both baking and beverage-making (their website has lots of ideas too), and I have a modified version of cream fondant I can't wait to try with this sweetener too. What I've found, though, is that with "regular size" batches of cookies, brownies and cupcakes (as opposed to this tiny 10-bite one) you really should use sugar for at least 1/3 of the total amount. Not only does sugar sweeten, but it helps retain moisture, creates air pockets in fat and egg whites and tenderizes... roles that super-sweet substitutes (even natural ones) just can't perform as well.

    That said, Truvia is proving to be a boon in our household of sugar-conscious eaters, and adding it to the rotation of natural alternatives is certainly not doing us any harm!

    Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

    Sugar Free Peanut Butter Drops

    Thursday, March 13, 2014

    Honeyed Carrot Cake Butter (#DessertChallenge): Toast Topper #42

    After a hearty Winter meal, my family would usually rather sit and digest over cups of coffee or tea than go in for a big dessert. That said, sometimes you just need a little sweet at the end of the meal, especially if dinner was richly spiced or salted, and for me the allure of fruit-based treats in the middle of Winter is huge. Bringing out an apple pie made and frozen last Fall, for instance, seems to immediately make room in our stomachs, and serving fruit and frozen yoghurt is a wonderful alternative to the birthday cakes that fill this season for us. Of course, finding any fruit in season here is impossible, but we're lucky to have access to preserves and well-storing produce like apples, as well as flash frozen berries and peaches from the orchard's shop.

    I do have to admit, though, that I am not about to pass up certain things if they cross my dessert menu. Chocolate cheesecake, molten lava cake and cherry pie are way up there, but in all honesty my adult self always gravitates towards carrot cake. I adore the lightly fruity, nutty and moist crumb as much as the thick cream cheese frosting, and as long as I don't bite down on a big honkin' chunk of nut or pineapple I'm pretty easy to please. Carrot cake isn't exactly an "every day" type of dessert, so I thought I would combine the flavours I love with the lightness of a fruit-based treat into something that offered versatility and decadence - Carrot Cake Butter.

    Honeyed Carrot Cake Butter

    Yup, a twist on the classic apple butter, I basically took the natural sweetness of apples and carrots, intensified the complex note with dark amber honey and, after it cooked down to a luscious, caramel-like spread, laced it with ground walnuts. It really does taste like my favourite cake... just in a more versatile form. In fact, not only did I serve this on graham crackers and mixed into vanilla fro-yo, but it's become a luxurious spread for morning toast and a "jar to mouth" spoonable snack (with the fridge door open, of course!).

    Lady Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge

    This month's Behind The Curtain Dessert Challenge is focusing on the combination of honey and walnuts - a perfect pairing if you ask me! Be sure to check out all the goodies from the roundup and feel free to say hi!

    Sunday, March 9, 2014

    Deconstructed Vegan “Lasagna” - Meatless #SundaySupper

    With retirement looming for the both of them, my mom and stepdad are beginning to re-evaluate what constitutes a "full meal". Both of them came from families where meat was revered as the "centre" of the plate, even when times were lean, and vegetables were often starchy and/or overcooked necessities to form a semblance of balance (and likely prevent scurvy). Now that they're older, not only are they facing the reduction in income but they're also beginning to mind their health a bit more. Both have a history of heart problems and diabetes, and my mom's side is prone to high blood pressure and cancer as well - none of which are particularly helped by the "meat and three" mentality for every day of the week.

    "Ricotta" for Deconstructed Vegan “Lasagna”The catalyst for their expansion into vegetarian and vegan cooking wasn't actually any of the above reasons, though. Those were merely side bonuses. No, what really kick-started the movement in our household was my stepfather's birthday party, where his vegan daughter was in attendance. After that, my mom (the main cook for the rest of the house) asked me to help her come up with some dishes they could enjoy, both with and without her present, that weren't too "health-foody" or bizarre looking - AKA, meals my notoriously picky stepdad would at least try.

    Given that my stepfamily is staunchly proud of their Italian roots, and that pasta seems to be the "great equalizer" in the kitchen, I immediately thought of a vegan lasagna. I've made tofu-based ricotta several times before, sneaking it into baked pastas as a dairy "stretcher", but never used it alone. However, I had a good idea of the Mediterranean flavours I wanted to infuse into the relatively bland bean curd, from standard garlic and basil to fennel (the Italian sausage herb). Vegan "Parmesan" cheese, nutritional yeast and Kalamata olives added the necessary salty/tangy element, and the whole mixture got a final punch from fresh parsley before marinating for an hour.

    Somewhere down the line my mom and I modified our usual "lasagna" format to become more of a baked pasta, mostly for serving ease and partially because the only whole grain pasta my stepdad will eat willingly is Kamut or spelt (he hates whole wheat, for some reason) and lasagna sheets with either of those grains are few and far between. However, our local bulk store carries an array of short cut pasta made from them, so we picked up a bag of Kamut spirals that would hold the sauce and "cheese". Topped with marinara and a sprinkle of Daiya mozzarella, the dish looked exactly like it's non-vegan counterpart, and when we served it to mixed company nobody (except the visiting vegans) knew about the switch until well after dessert and coffee were served. It took some major insistence to convince them that yes, there was "scary" tofu in there!

    Deconstructed Vegan “Lasagna”

    This week our #SundaySupper group is sharing a medley of meatless meals. Whether you're "Spring cleaning" your system or celebrating Lent, you're sure to find a dish (or ten!) that will tempt your tastebuds in a way that will make you forget all about steak and potatoes!

    Salads, Soups, Stews and Starters


    Pastas, Pizzas and Casseroles


    Tacos & Everything Wrapped

    Other Main and Side Dishes


    Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday!
     We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. 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.

    Saturday, March 8, 2014

    Lemony Ricotta Muffins

    I think we could all agree that a little sunshine is in order these days. For my classmates and I, it feels like the outside world might as well be the surface of the moon - not only has it been too blisteringly cold to really enjoy the fresh air, but with a major project due today (right before March break!) most of us have been whiling away the hours indoors with our pencil crayons, rulers and scissors rather than on the slopes or trails.

    However, Spring is coming... sometime in the future... and at the very least March break is an excuse to celebrate! In honour (and prayer) of the sunny days to come, I whipped up a sunny yellow batch of lemon muffins - moist and tender thanks to homemade ricotta, spelt and quinoa flours, with the sweet-tart zing of Meyer lemons. In case the "party time" atmosphere wasn't clear enough, I busted out my stepbrother's homemade Limoncello for an adults-only icing. If you don't drink alcohol (like me) but want the full experience, you can of course use your favourite lemonade... it will be every bit as decadent!

    Here's to springtime, March break, and looking forward to shedding those Winter coats for another six months!

    Lemony Ricotta Muffins

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

    Thai Chili Sauce

    I don't know about you, but this winter has been nothing short of a long exercise in patience. According to the local news, we've had 88 consecutive days of 1"+ deep snow, and with the biting cold it's not hard to understand why so many people are jetting to nice tropical climes!

    Well, I can't afford to take myself to the warm, humid (39°C people!) Thailand (it's on my bucket list), I can travel vicariously through others... with the help of my stomach! I'm a huge Thai chili sauce fan, and the ingredients are so simple I can't believe I didn't make my own earlier! I made and canned my first batch over the Summer with our homegrown chiles, cilantro, tomatoes, green onion and garlic, but it's long gone and those crops are nowhere in sight! Luckily, our local Asian market (and even our grocery store) has everything necessary to cook up another batch of the wicked condiment.

    Thai Chili Sauce

    What I like best about a really great Thai chili sauce is that it's not simply a smash-over-the-head heat. It should have an undercurrent of true umami, which the fish sauce in my recipe adds. If you're vegetarian / vegan, I would definitely suggest using something like Braggs or vegetarian oyster sauce - not the same but still yummy!

    Shared with Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

    Sunday, March 2, 2014

    Eggless Bread Pudding in a Jar for a FAT #SundaySupper

    I love the whole frugality of bread pudding. It's hard to think of anything else that is so cheap, yet so easy, delicious and guest-worthy (not to mention comforting) than cubes of stale bread baked in eggy custard, jazzed up with whatever else is in your pantry and served with sauce, jam or nothing at all! My dad is one of the biggest bread pudding fans I know of, even though he's not a dessert fan, but since we never seem to have leftover bread kicking around he doesn't get it homemade more than once in a blue moon.

    But sometimes the back of the freezer yields treasures that cry out to be used, even if they aren't perfect specimens of their former selves anymore. I had totally forgotten that we had stashed chunks of my mom's stellar Holiday Brioche in the chest freezer after the holidays until a bag fell on me and revealed that it was definitely past its "decadence date". I just couldn't bear to throw it out though, because it is so delicious (and fairly pricey to make) I wanted to salvage it in some way. I instantly thought of my dad (a long time fan of the fresh brioche) and as a result, bread pudding. While I didn't have any fresh eggs at my disposal, I did have chickpea flour - which has become my favourite egg swap for things like French toast batter. mixed with milk, cream, custard powder and sugar, it makes a sweet pudding that fries or bakes up with a hint of nuttiness - perfect to complement the sweet dried fruit and nuts both in the bread itself, as well as those I added later.

    That said, I can't truly claim that my bread pudding is eggless - since I used the enriched brioche there is a trace of them - but the batter-custard is totally egg-free, and if you use another bread (I can't wait to try this with my Pecan Pie Bagels) you can take them out of the equation completely. For portability, portion control (and cuteness') sake I baked them up in jars, which is probably a good thing given the amount of not-so-good-for-you stuff going into them. But hey, if you're going into Lent after Mardi Gras, what a way to go!

    Bread Pudding in a Jar

    With New Orleans being home to the biggest Mardi Gras celebration in the US, our #SundaySupper crew (hosted by Leslie this week) is serving up plenty of traditional NOLA fare like beignets, po' boys, and jambalaya with lots of cajun and creole influences. Of course, if you're in it for the sweets, our dessert crowd has you covered too! And really, it's not Mardi Gras without the booze, so you know we'll laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll)!

    Here this Sunday's roundup:

    Cocktails & Other Beverages:


    Main Dishes:

    Side Dishes:

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