Sunday, April 17, 2016

Carrot Oatmeal Raisin Cookies #SundaySupper

I am very leery of declaring that spring has arrived... being an April baby (along with my sister), I've heard far too many retellings of the snowstorm that occurred the day before I was born, and definitely remember being snowsuit clad the week my sister entered the world three years later. That said, this weekend has been double-digit (Celsius) for the first time this year, and the rest of the week is supposed to follow suit (fingers crossed). The family has been out gardening, preparing the beds for eventual seedlings and direct-sowing, and I even got my butt in gear to start my tomato, squash and nasturtiums in my indoor greenhouse this week.

Carrot Oatmeal Raisin CookiesNow of course, all this glorious weather has been short-lived, and there's no way we'll even be seeing backyard rhubarb for at least another month or two. Therefore, we're still embracing the freezer stockade of greens, berries and peaches, plus the "storage crops" like carrots, cabbage, onions and potatoes for a lot of our dishes, slotting in (imported) lettuce, hothouse tomatoes, citrus and berries to brighten up the plate. I always think of carrots in the springtime for some reason, probably due to the Easter carrot-cake tradition, and it's a wonder that I don't usually turn orange by May after eating them for months!

Ironically, as the days get warmer and sunnier I become more prone to roasting and sauteeing the roots, which brings out the sweetness hidden deep within their cores after months of storage. Since growing my own heirlooms every year, I'm spoiled when it comes to the flavours I enjoy raw - nothing beats the crisp, bright and lightly sugary snap of a bright red (or purple, yellow, white, black orange...) carrot freshly pulled from the (pesticide-free) dirt, rinsed with the garden hose and devoured immediately. So roasting away I go, and often I'll do a whole 3-lb bag at once to portion and freeze for simple side dishes, sauce extenders or last minute stir fry additions.

When I was given a copy of my school's "classic" carrot cookie recipe to make for Easter, I immediately started thinking of ways to elevate the recipe from it's rather spartan, highly sugared, slightly chewy-cakey roots to something worthy of a spring cookie tray. I pulled a couple tricks out of my back pocket that I had learned from years of oatmeal cookie experimenting - namely, chilling the dough as long as possible so as to rehydrate the oats and flaxseed - and used pureed roasted carrots in lieu of baby food for a thicker moisture component. A few extra swaps later and I had vegan, bite sized drop cookies perfect for Peter Cottontail (and his brood).

What I love about this cookie is that it's a great spice cookie open to possibility in terms of additions and twists. Don't like raisins? Add craisins, nuts, coconut, white chocolate... whatever floats your boat. Personally, my next step is going to be supersizing the cookies into whoopie-pie like rounds for cream cheese ice cream sandwiches. Oh, to think of ice cream weather!

Spring has arrived at the #SundaySupper table this week, and along with our host Renee from Renee’s Kitchen Adventures our gang is sharing recipes to welcome the season to 2016!




Main Dish:

Side Dish:


Plus Spring Vegetable Minestrone and more Spring Recipes from Sunday Supper Movement
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Carrot Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Gluten Free & Vegan Garlic Breadsticks #BreadBakers

If there's one ingredient I refuse to be without in the savoury kitchen, it's garlic. Fresh, roasted, dried or fermented, I love it every way I can get it, and I'm sure I (as Rachael Ray says) smell like a walking salami because I eat so much of it.

Normally, garlic is avoided in the baking nook - it's pungency and heat when fresh, dried or pickled doesn't generally play well with desserts (granted, there are some chefs crazy enough to use various forms of the bulb that way) and the awful flavour it takes on when it toasts even a touch too far makes it a finicky bread ingredient as well. That said, my family (and most of the kids at school) love garlic bread, in particular the Italian restaurant-style breadsticks that seem to be disappearing all too fast these days. For Home Ec, I decided to take on the challenge of making a soft, garlicky, herby dough to shape into breadsticks. Not only did I succeed in making delicious bread, but my class and I did it without using eggs, dairy, nuts or gluten-containing flours - meaning everyone in the class could have one! The flavours of the flours and flaxseed were subtle, but added just the right amount of "whole wheat" flavour so that the herb and garlic oil slicked overtop blended seamlessly. Unlike a lot of gluten free breads (and I don't claim to be an expert, just someone with a hint of experience), these breadsticks also stay moist for a good period after baking and freeze exceptionally well too, not even needing the usual "toaster treatment" to retain edibility.

Regardless of whether you need to be gluten free or not, if you're as much of a garlic lover as I am you'll adore these breadsticks. Vampires beware! 

Gluten Free & Vegan Garlic Breadsticks

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. This month's theme is Garlicky Breads, in celebration of National Garlic Day in the United States - 19 April. Our host this month is Karen's Kitchen Stories. Thanks Karen! 


We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tie-Dyed Vanilla Cupcakes with French Vanilla Frosting

It was my birthday this past Monday (PS - thanks everyone for the Facebook b-day wishes!), and to celebrate with my Grade 1, 2 and 3 Home Ec classes I busted out what is now becoming more or less "tradition" - cupcake decorating! To simplify matters (mostly because I don't have an oven, or much of a counter, at easy disposal) I bake the cupcakes at home and bring them "naked" to class with a bucket of "base frosting" (AKA vanilla buttercream) and some Ziploc "piping bags" of decorating frosting. I usually stick with vanilla-based flavours rather than chocolate, since enough of the kids are anti chocolate (horrors, I know) that it's not worth fighting about it.

That doesn't mean I can't have fun with them, though! This year I busted out one of my childhood favourites, the "Tie-Dye Cupcake", which quickly became the hit of the class. The basic recipe is simple - almost ridiculously so - and I easily veganized it by swapping the dairy milk out for a boxed coconut beverage. Not only did the coconut milk add a touch of extra rich, sweet flavour, but it kept the cakes incredibly moist and tender. A little whole wheat pastry flour and a whisper of nutmeg added a little complexity to the vanilla base and appealed to both grown ups and kids, even if they didn't know it was there! Of course, the colours have no flavour, but they did make the whole lesson festive and way too much fun - especially when the kids ate theirs (topped with loads of coloured frosting too, of course) and compared their "tie dyed tongues"!

Going with the vanilla theme, I decided to make a rich, French vanilla frosting as my "base buttercream". To the drop-dead simple icing sugar - shortening - "butter" mix, I added a scoop of vanilla custard powder and another touch of nutmeg which not only added great flavour but helped to stabilize the blend enough to spread without adding a bucket of sugar (I hate frosting that tastes of just powdered sugar!). That said, it is still very much a "keep refrigerated" item - the vegan butter softens faster than "regular" butter so if you want to keep things solid, cool is best! 

Tie-Dyed Vanilla Cupcakes with French Vanilla Frosting

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Wine and Cheese Chocolate Muffins #SundaySupper

Depending on the day, asking me how I feel about Italian customs may garner eye rolling, sighs, or enthusiastic babble from me. Living in a blended family where (until recently) half the household was die-hard Italian born and bred and any and every celebration denoted 20-odd Italian-Canadians (brothers, sisters, children and cousins) descending on the house for a raucous party, I never quite "got" their passion for loud, familial gatherings. I was raised in a plain-Jane, small but relatively close-knit family where aunts and uncles were almost exclusively out of province and even Christmases never totaled more than 10 people at the table, so the exponential expansion is still a little much for my introverted self to contend with.

That said, I do like Italian culture in the traditional sense - especially their penchant for homemade, from scratch ingredients and meals. I love making my own tomato sauce, bread, ricotta and pasta, especially over the summer when I have the time - and while we do grow our own grapes here, our homemade wine is more like rubbing alcohol than a fine sipper, so it stays out of the glass, out of the pot and (for the most part) down the drain. Instead, I take advantage of the world of wines available at our local liquor store, some of which (like the Italian variety I used in today's recipe) were gifted to me by parents at my school.

In the spirit of this week's #SundaySupper "Italian" theme, I went all-in to create a treat that encompassed some of my favourite Italian flavours and ingredients. My homemade ricotta combined with rich red wine, cocoa and just a hint of almond flavour to make a thick and moist cradle for a single Hershey's Kiss. While sweet and rich, they're definitely still "muffin" territory, and I would shy away from trying to gild these with frosting - if anything, a smear of almond butter would be the furthest I would go. The intense moisture and tenderness of the crumb (almost too soft to work with muffin liners) will make you forget they're over half whole wheat and egg free!

Wine and Cheese Chocolate Muffins

Enjoying our family around the dinner table is what #SundaySupper is all about, making this week’s Italian event a perfect pairing. From Antipasto to Zabaglione and everything in between, we're gathering to enjoy a feast of (Roman) empirical proportions! Our host this week is Manuela of Manu’s Menu.

Here's what we're serving up this week:





Artichoke Torta plus More Recipes for Italian Fest from Sunday Supper Movement

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement