Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chocolate mint swirl candycane cookies

It all started with a bunch of leftover candycanes. I crushed them up thinking I'd bake with them. It has been a while and I have only used a bit.
Then for a potluck I thought I'd make red velvet cupcakes...but thought it would be too I used my new pinterest account (I know I know I am behind a decade or so) to hunt up red velvet...and then red...and then came across a recipe for mint chocolate swirl cookies by Alton Brown (I love Good Eats).
But...I only had white baking chocolate. And I sill wanted redness and candycane involvement so I just tweaked it to get the following delicious minty cookie. It is a nice moist sugar cookie with strong mint flavour and faint chocolate flavour. Delicious.

Basically the recipe is altered and ended up as follows:

The basic sugar cookie recipe was made as listed, but not chilled the same way at all:
Sift together 3 c flour, 3/4 t baking powder and 1/4 t salt.
In mixer blend 1 c soft butter and 1 c sugar until fluffy. Beat in 1 egg and 1 T milk. Add in dry slowly on low speed and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Immediately after making the dough I divided it in half and made the 2 halves as follows:
-Mint half had 1 t peppermint extract and 1/2 c crushed candycane mixed in using the mixer.
-Chocolate half had 3 oz white chocolate melted and added along with 1 t cocoa (sifted) and about 1 t red colouring to make it nice and red.

I rolled the dough halves out to 1/4 inch think between wax paper to ~the same long rectangle shape (~6" high and 18" long) and then put the two layers on top of each other and gently pressed them together. Then I carefully rolled it up into a log, which I wrapped in wax paper and then saran and put in the freezer for about an hour until nice and firm. Then I rolled the log in a few sprinkles and cut cookies about 1/2 inch thick ( and about 2 inches around) onto cookie sheets lined with baking paper. Baked at 375 for 12 minutes. After 1 minute on the tray, they cooled on a wire rack.
So. Good. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas baking 2012

Long time no post.
Seems life is a rather bit exciting and I'm enjoying the eating and the cooking. There are so many really awesome recipe blogs out there, that I just can't do justice to what I'm making in the kitchen...well not in the time I'm willing to offer it at the moment. Being done grad school has given me all this free time, and documenting it seems so much like work it'll be a while before I feel like more elaborate postings again...

But, I did have to post today.
I just finished a long day of happy christmas baking, making the vanillekipfl (Byrun's mum's recipe) and the peanut butter surprise cookies that I've posted before. There are two new ones this year: Gingerbread lemon sandwich cookies and....dum dum dum...
Jammy Dodgers.
I used this recipe and they are absolutely delicious. I've never had a jammy dodger before.
I'm hooked.

After all that cookie dough I think I need bigger pants...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

African sweet potato chili

I try and make one new thing a month just to try new things. There are a lot of foods I have rediscovered and a lot of things I like made different ways, so it's fun to try something new. Every once in a while it's no good, but usually, like this month, it reveals a new meal to put into rotation.
I am personally obsessed with sweet potatoes right now. J not so much. He did humour me tho when I made a batch of this chili/stew -turns out, he likes it. I love it. We had it with some quinoa for supper and it was a warm slightly spicy meal on a cold rainy day. It makes enough for 6 so there's plenty leftover for lunches :)

West African Sweet Potato Chili
modified from an old Betty Crocker recipe...
1 T. vegetable oil
1 med. onion, chopped up
4 cloves minced garlic
~ 1/4c. creamy peanut butter ( I added a T more)
1 T. chili powder
~1 t ground dried ginger (not sure what that would be fresh...)
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/4-1/2 t. cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
splash lime juice (~1 T??)
A large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (4 c worth)
1 large and 1 small cans of diced tomatoes undrained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn 

1. Cook onion and garlic in oil until onions are clear. Add sweet potatoes and spices and saute another 5 minutes.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to med-low, stirring occasionally so it doesn't burn. Cover and cook about 25min, until potatoes are tender. Serve over couscous or rice.

Yum. Good stuff. The peanut butter and the heat all combine into a tasty meal. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Super breakfast

I think I have achieved maximum deliciousness for a healthy breakfast.
I work out in the mornings, and after I need a breakfast I can transport with me in my backpack to work and eat easily and quickly at my desk. This is the perfect thing. I alternate this with mornings of cottage cheese and fruit or yogurt, granola and fruit and it keeps me full all morning. I'd probably have it every day, but the chia makes it very fibre rich, so having it everyday is a for me. Yeah, we'll leave it at that. :)
Plus it's super easy - here's all it is:
Mash up 1/2 a banana. Stir in 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 t cocoa, ~1t molasses and 1/2t stevia. Then mix in 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 3/4 T chia seeds, 1/2c uncooked oatmeal and 3/4c almond milk. Mix it up well and let it sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning it's all thick and delicious and ready to eat. Simple and healthy. You have no excuse not to have a good breakfast now. I love hot oatmeal, but it's not always an option. This is a very yummy substitute. :)

After my morning workout, this is a super nutritious, filling breakfast that tastes like pudding :) It's full of nutrients, protein, fibre and even iron and antioxidents. You can leave out the cocoa, molasses, sweetener and spice and just add some cinnamon and it's still yummy. The protein powder is optional too - I just find it helps my body rebuild itself after a workout. The version without cocoa was my original version, taken from the lovely Angela at Oh She Glows. This is Uber chia breakfast oats 2.0. There are endless variations. Add mushed pumpkin instead for pumpkin pie...or put some fresh fruit on top of the vanilla oats. It's all good.
I just had some for breaky.
Yum :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pumpkin/Squash Saag

I had a nice butternut squash sitting about and wanted to try something different. SO I whipped out one of my favourite cookbooks (the Veganomicon) to see what I could do with it. This recipe is originally for pumpkin, but seemed something that would work with the squash so I gave it a whirl. It takes a bit of time to bake the squash, so you can do it the day before, or just go read a book while it's baking like I did :)

~ 3Lb sugar pumpkin or butternut/acorn squash
2-3 t oil
1 large white onion diced up
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ t garam masala
¼ t cinnamon
½ t salt
1/8 t cayenne
1 c water (or veg stock)
1 inch cube ginger peeled and grated/minced up fine
10 oz spinach (~2 small bunches) washed and chopped coarsely
juice of ~1/2 lime (or more to taste)

First bake the squash-cut in half and scoop out seeds. Brush with oil and place skin side out on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake at 350 for ~45 minutes until a fork easily pierces it. Take out, peel off skin and let cool a bit. Dice into 1 inch chunks.
Preheat a soup pot over medium heat and sauté the onions in oil for ~5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes more until it starts to turn a honey brown color.stir in pumpkin and cook until warmed through again (2-3 min) and then add the spices and water to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes stirring often. The pumpkin will mush up a bit and still have some chunks. Then add the spinach in 3 or 4 batches, stirring it well after each addition and let it wilt so it all fits in the pot. Cook for about 10 more minutes and then add the lime juice at the end. Adjust salt and pepper (and curry) if desired. This is even better the next day or if it sits a few minutes…

This is simple and delicious with a bit of bread or rice. If you have the time, give it a try. Nice subtle spices that taste yummy on a cold day and fill you right up.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Soup

I'd love to take credit for this one, but a friend emailed me a link from Chef In You to this recipe when I had a wierd urge to make something with peanut butter and pumpkin. This soup is simple, healthy and thick and DELICIOUS. It is now one of my favourite things...made some fresh cheese rolls to have with it and even J, who is Mr. Meh when it comes to soup, loved it. I doubled the recipe and had a few yummy easy lunches for later in the week.
I'm reposting the recipe in case the link goes away (it would be tragic):
1 c pumpkin puree
1 medium sweet potato
1/4 c peanut butter
1 T butter
~1-2 cups vegetable stock or water (to thicken to desired consistancy. I used 1 1/2)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chop up the sweet potato roughly and steam until soft. Blend it into a puree. In a pan, melt the butter in low heat, then add potatoes, pumpkin and peanut butter. Add the stock/water and seasoning. Stir until it becomes smooth and well blended. Cook for about 10 minutes. Enjoy. :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Matchacado Smoothie

I have been bugging Geo about my new smoothie fixation, the avocado and matcha smoothie. I didn't care for avocado for a while, in part due to my Dad's horribly soggy, frequently mushy salads. (which he loves and which has sort of turned me against salads as well) But reading up on avocado, which I do like in maki rolls, I was seeing how it works to lower LDL in the bloodstream and promote HDL. They are high in fiber and rich in vitamins B, E and K and a fantastic source of potassium. (which I need, apparently) Avocados are also the subject of research for diabetes and high blood pressure treatments.
Matcha is a fine powdered green tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony. Matcha is said to have a positive affect on cholesterol in the blood stream, is high in antioxidants and rich in beta-carotene. I have been drinking Matcha for a while and prefer it unsweetened.
An old Filipino co-worker of mine suggested blending avocado in milk, as it was one of favourite things. That didn't quite do it for me, so I left off it for a while. After reading about the health benefits of avocados, I decided to try and make the avocado smoothie again. For whatever reason, it occurred to me that matcha would work with avocado. It did, but it needed a bit of honey. So far so good. Last week I started adding walnuts, (also very good for you) which work really well. Today I added the selled hemp seeds I picked up yesterday and tt all works fine together.
Today I will pick up some almond milk and use it in conjunction with regular milk, as the avocado does thicken things up considerably and more liquid is needed than with anything else, like bananas.

- Magnus

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Apricot pecan oat muffins. Yum.

New muffin I made up last night for a week of relatively healthy snacking...which likely will NOT last the week...heh heh. Before I forget, here is the ingredients for the most delish concoction I've thought up lately...and not too unhealthy either:

Mix the following together and let sit 5 min:
~1/4 c diced dried apricots (I suppose you could use cranberries or *shudder* raisins if you like)
~1/4 c roughly chopped pecans
1/2 c oatmeal
1 1/4 c milk

Then stir in:
1/4 c oil (I know - not the best - but if you healthify baking too much it doesn't keep it's bakiness more than a day or so. As a former baker I refuse to eat crappy can cut it back a bit more or use melted coconut oil instead for a more healthy fat, but don't say I didn't warn you not to overhealthify)
1/3 applesauce (or 1 mashed up banana would work too I suppose)
2 eggs
1/2c brown sugar (or agave syrup or maple syrup if ya have it)
1t cardamom AND cinnamon
A few shakes of nutmeg
1 t vanilla

Stir in until JUST mixed:
2 c flour (don't go more than 1/2 whole wheat or they'll be bricks)
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt

Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes until they bounce back when tapped on top and are starting to brown up.How can you tell I sort of bake by ear. Years of being a baker have made me rather experimental with things like muffins. I loves me my muffins...

I'm working one with espresso and sunnyboy cereal and dates...I will perfect them eventually and post them. It's a tasty process! :)