Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Loaded Maple Oat Cookies

These cookies are vegan and filled with healthy flavour from toasted oats, roasted soybeans (aka soynuts), dark chocolate and cranberries, while aquafaba acts as a binder and maple syrup adds a delicate layer of sweetness as well. They stay soft and moist for days and are great with a cup of tea or when stuck in traffic!

Even though we just made it out of the season of indulgence and into the month of resolution making doesn't mean we need to deprive ourselves of a treat every so often! I am a total and complete believer in having at least one sweet treat every day - whether it is cocoa and brown sugar in my oatmeal mid afternoon or a slice of my to die for angel food cake. For someone like me who has a massive sweet tooth, these little daily indulgences keep me from going overboard and allow me to enjoy them truly. 

When two of my Zumba instructor friends both celebrated birthdays a few months ago (yes these took a while to get on the blog!) I knew I wanted to be able to give them a birthday treat that they could enjoy after the usual cake and dinner out. As they're both in the fitness industry, I also wanted to make sure that what I gave them wasn't too contradictory to their goals, and knowing one of the ladies is also vegan I rolled up my sleeves and got to work!

I haven't used aquafaba in a while (mostly because I keep forgetting to save that bean liquid!) but after making three batches of Garden Pasta Salad I had more than enough to work with! The liquid acts as a great binder and helped keep these cookies moist and chewy. I had also come into possession of a bottle of maple syrup thanks to an old student and knew these cookies would go from good to awesome with a hint of the extra flavour. In addition, I tossed in a good deal of "goodies" for texture and a bit of extra sweetness - plus, who doesn't love stuff in a cookie?

The two parcels of cookies were well received and I was thanked afterwards on behalf of some cookie crazy small kids too. Mom echoed the sentiment (I had to save her a couple, of course!) and really loved them frozen and crumbled on Greek yogurt with a sprinkling of diced apples. 

Do you make resolutions? How long do they stick?

Monday, December 30, 2019

Spanish Inspired Beef(less) Stew

This Spanish Inspired Beef(less) Stew is filled with hearty potatoes, onions and carrots, chunks of Vegetable Protein and a sprinkling of peas in a heady tomato-paprika base. Ready in about 45 minutes and a healthy way to warm up this Winter!

I openly admit I have a love affair with Spanish food of all kinds. I'm not sure if it's purely the flavours I'm attracted to - the whole production of dishes such as paella are a spectacle in themselves - but I do know that if there's paprika and / or saffron involved you can bet I'll want a taste! This stew I whipped up on a whim after scrolling through my "suggested" reads on Google, and seeing as I had all the ingredients (and then some) in the pantry I eagerly gave it a shot. I adapted it slightly based on what I had on hand, and of course to add my favourite Spanish paprika, but from start to finish in under an hour I really have no regrets about making this!

The secret to the "beef" in this stew is textured vegetable protein chunks, which I actually keep on hand for making "chicken" salads as a cheap and portable source of protein. I love them because they are essentially all protein and fibre, no fat, and soak up the flavours they're soaked in, which in this case was a beefless broth and a spice packed tomato stew. If the idea of using TVP puts you off or you can't get them where you are, cubed tofu or even cooked chickpeas would be a great substitute without the "beefiness". I also jacked up the amount of vegetables going on because, well, vegetables, and I also had the dregs of my garden's heirloom carrots wasting away in the fridge that I needed to use. A brief taste test after cooking confirmed an amazing balance of flavours - rich but not weigh-you-down heavy, stick to your ribs but also leaving you feeling healthy after a bowl. And can we say filling? The amount of protein and fibre in this stew means you won't be hungry for ages - which is great if you're still traipsing around to holiday parties or are trying to curb the holiday snacking.

Saturday, December 28, 2019


Schwabenbrötli are delicate Swiss cookies traditionally made with ground almonds. This recipe uses ground tigernuts to be nut free but with the same texture and almost identical flavour.

Happy birthday N!

While I know we've just gotten out of the season of cookies and gluttony, but to me I'd much rather celebrate other people than the (unfortunate) consumerism of the season. I know enough people with birthdays around holidays (myself and my sister included) that I understand getting "lumped in" to the holiday itself and losing what should be "your day". That said, we are spending today together (through to NYE) and I'll be spoiling him rotten with good food and good company.

These cookies came about due to a specific request from N - not for himself, but for his colleague this holiday. I gladly dived into researching cookies from his native Switzerland, and these looked like super simple, yet delicious options. I didn't have any almond flour on hand, however, having used the last of it in my Maple Almond Biscotti, so I delved into my collection of ground tigernuts, which I love as a nut-free option when ground nuts are called for. With a slightly sweet taste, they fit perfectly with the cinnamon and crunchy raw sugar on top. Like a lot of "roll out" cookies, it is imperative that you let these rest overnight for the liquid to be absorbed. Once chilled, they roll out and cut like a dream and within minutes you have delicately crisp, unique cookies to enjoy!

If I can remember to snap a photo I'll post all about N's birthday feast when we're back to our regularly scheduled programming, but for now try a little nibble of Switzerland!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Curried Two-Potato Lentil Soup

Curried Two-Potato Lentil Soup (adapted from Minimalist Baker) is canned up in quarts for big pots of comfort over the winter. Homegrown carrots and kale make it extra nutritious and special!

Curried Two-Potato Lentil Soup

Ah, Boxing Day. It's quite possibly my favourite day of the whole Christmas holiday week, since (for the most part) the hubbub is done, the gifts are opened, the gluttony has ensued and we can just take the day to get back into routine and relax. It is specifically for days like this that I love having soup jarred up in reserve on my shelf - all I have to do is crack one open, dump it into a pot with a little water or broth (or tomato juice, which actually worked so well in this!) and let it heat up. Can we say almost instant comfort food?

What I also love about this soup is how versatile it is. Don't want to can it (or don't have a pressure canner)? Simmer away on the stovetop until everything is cooked and store in the freezer. Not vegetarian? Toss in some cooked meat (say...Christmas turkey?) and use chicken broth. In fact, my mom even added the last of a can of coconut milk (about 1/3 cup) to hers to make it more creamy and tossed in extra pepper for kick. This version is relatively mild in heat, but still flavourful and hearty enough that you won't be tempted to go back to the cookies (or ever present panettone at my house) or need a food coma-style nap!

How was your holiday break (whether or not you celebrate Christmas)? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Biscotti di Vino Rosso Speziati

Biscotti di Vino Rosso Speziati are dainty cookies filled with the flavours of mulled wine with an added crunch from black sesame seeds. Perfect for accompanying fortified wine after a meal or on a cheese board for a unique, lightly sweetened treat this holiday!

Ever been trying to multitask and got so cocky with your "skills" that you totally mess things up? Yeah - that was almost me when it came to photographing these cookies. Thankfully my reliable taste-tester had asked for a second one so I snagged a photo before it too disappeared!

I cannot believe I made a huge (read: double) batch of these "grown up", two bite cookies and almost forgot to photograph them! This is the perils of trying to do everything at once during peak term-paper, report card and traveling season, but I can assure you that they are well worth making yourself if you enjoy the scent and flavour of mulled wine! I opted for black sesame seeds and white sanding sugar for my coating to give the cookies a bit of sparkle and nutty crunch, and would recommend not skipping the freezing step under any circumstances, as these cookies are relatively delicate and this helps hold them together. The Italian guests we had over last week enjoyed these dipped into dessert wine after dinner as they aren't too sweet, and I bet they'd be perfect on a cheese platter too.

I will be back posting after Christmas, so have a great holiday and thanks for another great year!

Biscotti di Vino Rosso Speziati
Adapted from Domenica Cooks 
Makes ~24
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 orange
3/4 cup dry red wine (I used a Merlot)
1 1/2 cups "00" semolina flour (I used one labeled "for pasta")
1  cup all purpose flour
1/2 cups spelt flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
black sesame seeds, to top
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, spices, salt, vanilla, orange zest and wine until well blended.
  2. Add the flours, baking powder and baking soda, mixing until well blended.
  3. Cover and let sit 30 minutes.
  4. Use a tablespoon measure or scoop to form the dough into balls, and roll them in the black sesame seeds to coat.
  5. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze 1 hour. 
  6. Heat the oven to 350F.
  7. Bake for about 22 minutes, until set but not dry. 
  8. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 1 month.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Guinness Cake Biscotti

If you love Nutella or Chocolate Guinness Cake, these Guinness Cake Biscotti are right up your alley! The stout adds a delicate richness to the crunchy cookies and the smattering of chopped hazelnuts adds texture.

The I saved the best of the biscotti for last for this year! Ever since our first trip to EPCOT in Disney World my sister and I fell in love with chocolate stout cake, and true to form I have made it at least 6 times since then for various birthdays and anniversaries. However, I haven't really used beer in other sweet applications. Bread was a natural fit for the brew (as I saw when making bread sticks out of the pizza dough in Lush: A Season-by-Season Celebration of Craft Beer and Produce, which is - surprise surprise - written by the same author who gave me the idea for these cookies) due to the natural yeasty notes in most (good) beer, but in cookies I always thought the flavours would be too strong and the amount of liquid too much for the batter. I was glad to be proven wrong!

Now I did (of course) take liberties with this recipe. The most obvious is that I veganized it completely, and omitted the fat (aside what what naturally in the non-dairy milk). For a cookie that is essentially baked till crunchy and dry enough to soak up a beverage, the oil or butter just isn't needed. I also used flaxseed to bind the dough and barley flour for added flavour (because it is beer after all). With those changes, I didn't even need to break out a hand mixer, let alone a stand mixer to do the work - a sturdy spatula was all that was required and the most time consuming part was chopping the hazelnuts! While you could certainly dip it in stout (I'm thinking longingly of a double chocolate one I had many moons ago) I know these would also be decadent with coffee or hot chocolate!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Mocha Biscotti

A couple Caramel Mochaccino Biscotti dunked in your favourite coffee is a great way to start the  weekend, and especially ring in the holiday week ahead!

Wow - the fourth (and second-last) "stick style" biscotti of the year are done and finally getting documented! To be fair, I did make two other biscotti recipes this year as well, but they were both riffs off of the Creamsicle Biscotti - one used lemon zest instead of the orange extract with a hefty handful of dried berries stirred in, while the other I used brown sugar and extra vanilla in and folded in chopped chocolate and caramel bits. These used a different formula, and was literally a last minute effort to use up the egg whites left over from shortbreads before they were lost to the ether of spoilage and the gifts of cappuccino mix that I couldn't enjoy due to my dairy allergy.

Chocolate and coffee are by far a coveted combination of mine and the addition of chocolate chips, mocha cappuccino powder and chocolate covered espresso beans did not disappoint! The batch smelled like nothing short of a high end cafe while they were baking and I had to make sure I quickly wrapped them all for gift giving after they cooled otherwise they would have all "mysteriously" disappeared thanks to a family that also supports the coffee and chocolate duo. Next time, I think I may give these crunchy cookies the raw sugar treatment too, since I think a chocolate drizzle may be a bit too overpowering. Wait - did I just say there would be too much chocolate? I'm clearly in need of a breather. Or a nap. Or (most likely) a trip to the gym.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Pumpkin Spice Biscotti

Pumpkin Spice Biscotti are a spicy, crunchy snack whenever the fall feeling strikes!

Between (Canadian) Thanksgiving and Christmas, it seems that pumpkin spice everything is ubiquitous. As much as I detest eating (or smelling) pumpkin pie, I cannot deny that the spices which infuse everything of the season are some of my favourites. One of the families I teach even gave me a pumpkin spice candle which I adore!

So in lieu of making another pumpkin pie for Christmas (and in spirit of all the biscotti I've been creating), I took the heady spices and fused them with the delicately sweet, golden-hued squash to make these cookies. Rather than feeling like you're eating a crunchy pumpkin cake, these are more in the vein of a "spice cookie" that just happens to look really nice on the platter whether you top them with melted chocolate (or vegan white chocolate for a "whipped cream" look) or not. I passed these out to friends of mine who love their PSLs this time of year and from what I heard a few dunks of these in a cappuccino add the perfect amount of zing to both cookie and coffee!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Creamsicle Biscotti

These Creamsicle Biscotti are vegan and get a wonderful vanilla flavour from non-dairy vanilla yogurt. A sprinkle of raw sugar on top adds a delicate texture as well, and a cookie or two is delicious dunked in hot cocoa.

There are few things my mom loves more than orange flavoured desserts. In particular, she has a soft spot for Creamsicles - something I could never quite wrap my head around being a die-hard chocoholic! That said, I do like to cater to her tastes when I cook for her, and the holidays is no exception. I had a good deal of vegan vanilla bean yogurt left over from previous biscotti making and the dregs of a bottle of orange extract as well, so everything fell into place almost automatically. I also opted not to drizzle these crunchy, fruity cookies with chocolate since I knew she would be cracking into her hot cocoa gift box soon and would get the Terry's Chocolate Orange experience she loves this time of year! As I've mentioned before, biscotti of any kind are drop-dead easy to make, and this goes double with a vegan recipe like this - no whipping eggs or getting your hands all oily, the yogurt does all the work for you and makes the house smell like a sunny day in Florida, despite what the thermometer and snow outside declare!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Gingerbread Biscotti

These vegan Gingerbread Biscotti are crunchy, spicy and 100% whole grain. A sprinkling of crystallized ginger on top adds texture and extra spice!

One of my favourite smells during the holidays is gingerbread baking. I have a lot of ginger lovers to bake for these days, and aside from the perennial Chestnut Gingerbread Cookies I try to add a few more variations to the list to keep people on their toes! Keeping in theme with the biscotti groove I was on this season, I whisked up a spicy, ginger-laden dough and got baking.

Now, when I say these make your house smell good, I mean really good. Stage your house and ask for $1 million good. We had company for dinner the night I baked them and the guests kept asking if we were making mulled cider due to the sweet and spicy scent wafting around the house. To be honest, I would not recommend these for coffee though - Mom dunked hers in black tea which flavoured both cookie and beverage like chai, but I heard it's also fantastic in white hot chocolate! However you choose to eat these, you will not be disappointed - and your guests will never guess they are vegan either!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Maple Almond Biscotti

These Maple Almond Biscotti are vegan and whole grain with a subtle yet unmistakeable maple nuance from maple sugar and extract. A handful of ground almonds and ground flax up the nutty flavours as well, making these a unique, delicious and healthy treat any time!

Given the large influx of Italian culture in our household (including the Feast of the 7 Fishes on Christmas Eve), biscotti making has become more or less a mainstay of our holiday baking. I love making these crunchy cookie sticks for gift giving - for one, they're super easy to make, two, they're infinitely variable, and three they last forever! Well, not forever, but a very long time. This year I managed to concoct a decent assortment of them, including these Maple Almond Biscotti. I liked the inclusion of ground almonds as opposed to chopped or slivered ones because I feel the integrate their flavour more completely which plays off the maple and vanilla flavours more completely.

I also decided to make these biscotti vegan-friendly and a little healthier by relying on a non-dairy yogurt to replace the eggs and oil. The slight tang helped keep the cookies from being too sweet and added to a well rounded richness. I left my biscotti unadorned but bet a drizzle of dark chocolate or a sprinkle of copped almonds on top before baking would make these even more gorgeous!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Ginger Candied Spoon Fruit

Ginger Candied Spoon Fruit is a spicy and sweet combination of Asian pears and apples macerated in sugar and two forms of ginger. A spoonful on waffles or stirred into oatmeal is a delicious way to start the day, or top ice cream for a zingy dessert!

I love ginger, and I'm not alone. In fact, a good 2/3 of my holiday baking this year features the spice, and when I go out for sushi with my mom we fight over the slices of pickled gari that come on the plate. I'm also a huge sucker for Asian pears, and in the winter when they are in their prime I hit up the Asian grocery by my work and stock up - sometimes too much! This recipe proved to be the answer to that problem and my lust for ginger everything - especially with the digestive issues that also seem to pop up in this time of excess and sedentary living!

These macerated apples and pears get cooked in a super gingery syrup that infuses every bit of the fruit, making them almost bits of candy in the jar. While making it is a process, it is 3/4 hands-off and the reward is so worth it! I'm telling you, I made 2 jars to "test it out" on Saturday and one is already gone, lost to ice cream desserts and oatmeal breakfasts. I don't know how true it is about ginger keeping colds at bay, but I can tell you it's tasty medicine if that's the case!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Tomato Chickpea Soup (Pressure Canned)

Tomato Chickpea Soup is flavoured with cumin, ginger, garlic, garam masala, basil and curry powder for a spicy - but not hot - dinner ready in the pantry! Jars of this will be welcome in the cold months to come!

After waking up to an ice storm and frigid temperatures, it's official - we are into soup season. Since I acquired a pressure canner a few years ago, I spent pieces of my summers making jars of homemade soup for when the school year started again and cooking more or less transitioned to "quick and easy". The other great thing about canning soup and stews is that they make awesome holiday gifts - my Habitant Pea Soup is a regular feature in my gift baskets because it seems to be everyone's favourite (plus it's gluten free and vegan) but I also like to add a hearty and spicy soup to the lineup - both for others and for me!

When I was in university, the days the cafeteria had Chana Masala on the menu were some of the best. Ottawa, in case you've never been, gets insanely cold and snowy come wintertime, and the spiced, tomatoey chickpeas never got the "weird" texture of some of the other steam table items. This soup carries many of the same flavours as my favourite Indian entree, but with extra broth perfect for soaking up rice or slurping with a spoon. I actually prefer to partially cook some brown rice and add it to the soup as it heats on the stove to cook it through and thicken the soup, and mom added chopped sweet potatoes to hers for a similar effect and a sweeter taste.

By the way, if you don't have a pressure canner, no worries! Use 4 cups fully cooked chickpeas (not just soaked and flash-cooked) and simmer the soup for 45 minutes, adding the chickpeas for the last 15. For a creamy soup, puree everything - beans and all. Hearty, healthy and delicious when it's too cold for words outside!