Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding

Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding

This is probably going to sound irrational but I am deathly scared of microwaves. I hate them. They freak me right out. Oddly enough, I still use them, for tasks like melting butter and reheating leftovers, but I make sure my head is well out of the vicinity. I don’t want to lose any brain cells from the radiation. See I read in my health psychology textbook this semester (thus spawning my present debacle) that there is currently no evidence to show that radiation from devices such as microwaves is carcinogenic. However, I cannot say that I believe it, not for a second. The text also said that living near a nuclear plant is nothing to be fearful of. Yet my skepticism persists.

I decided to do some research of my own and found some conflicting results. First of all, microwaves can be used to treat cancer, through radiation. Even knowing that radiation is a common method of treatment, I cannot say I ever thought about specifically what type of waves would be used in the process. Is it not contradictory that the same radiation that may cause the abnormal cells to form in the first place is also used to kill them off? I know that is simplifying everything quite drastically but it is interesting how different types and levels of exposure can lead to completely opposite consequences.

When it comes to the microwaves in our kitchens potentially causing cancer, well I am sorry to say, but the jury is still out on that one. The problem is, the only way to truly test such a hypothesis is to split people into 2 groups, isolate half in a room with no microwave and half in a room with microwaves (microwaves that are running, that is). All you have to do is leave them in there for a couple of years and see which group has a higher incidence of cancer. Totally ethical procedure, no doubt. Sure we can study rats and such in a similar manner, but it is still difficult to pinpoint a single cause and remove the effects of all other factors like genes and chemical abnormalities. Plus, microwaves really are not that old. The first one was sold in 1947, according to Wikipedia. In that time, there have been plenty of other potentially carcinogenic inventions accounting for a higher prevalence of different cancers in today’s world than ever before.

So will we ever know? Unfortunately I cannot answer that question for you. Personally, I am going to continue to steer clear of my microwave at all costs. It is quite easy to do when you can make simply no-bake food like this chocolate coconut chia pudding. Isn’t chia supposed to be like the newest, greatest superfood too? With any luck, it will have some cancer-fighting properties to combat the dreaded microwave.

Chocolate Coconut Chia PuddingChocolate Coconut Chia PuddingChocolate Coconut Chia Pudding

Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 4-6 tbsp. agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup chia seeds
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the coconut milk, agave and cocoa powder until smooth. Taste and add more agave if you want it sweeter.
  2. Stir in the chia seeds. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or preferably overnight, until the chia gels and the mixture reaches a thick, tapioca pudding-like consistency. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
If you don't like the tapioca-like texture, blend the pudding with an immersion blender or regular blender until it becomes a smooth, chocolate pudding.

Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding

Cheese and Corn Scones

Cheese and Corn Scones

Crazy as it is, I have never shared a recipe for scones with you guys. In the 2 and a half years I have had this blog, there have been no scones, biscuits, cobblers, nothing.  How did that happen? I won’t dwell, what’s done is done, but as of today, we are going to rectify the situation. We are going to make up for it with the cheesiest, meltiest scones you have ever tasted in your life. For the inaugural recipe, we are bringing out the big guns. I’m not kidding, these little babies are 3 parts flour, 2 parts cheese, when you account for what is both inside the dough and melted on top.

Cheese and Corn Scones Cheese and Corn Scones

What type of cheese, you ask? Typically I like to buy a block and grate it fresh but let’s face it, grating cheese is not the most entertaining task in the world. For that reason, I always keep a bag of Kraft Shredded Cheese in the fridge, just in case I am feeling lazy. Plus one of my family members has a thing for eating it straight out of the bag, but I won’t name names or anything. They just came out with their new Kraft Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia, which delivers a soft and creamy melt to make your favourite recipes even better! When it comes to shredded cheese, the meltier the better, I would say. It comes in 3 flavours; Creamy Mozza, Creamy Herb and Garlic and Creamy Mexicana. I chose the latter to go along with the “south of the border” theme I started by adding corn to the scones. A blend of mozzarella, Monterey Jack and cheddar, it melts into the scones, lending to their buttery, flaky texture. That being said, you could use the Creamy Mozza and stir in sun-dried tomatoes instead of corn. Or you could amplify the Creamy Herb and Garlic by putting additional roasted garlic in the dough. Regardless, with Kraft Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia, the melt is all you will remember.

*Kraft Canada is hosting the “What’s Cooking” Twitter Party on Wednesday, April 16 at 9pm EST. Get involved by tweeting @KraftCanada, #TouchofPhillyCheese.

Cheese and Corn Scones

Cheese and Corn Scones
Makes 16

Ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup bran
2 tbsp. white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
3/4 cup butter, cold and cubed
1/2 cup heavy cream, half and half or milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup Kraft Creamy Mexicana Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia
1 cup frozen corn
¼ cup cold water, or as needed

1 egg, beaten (to form an egg wash)
3/4 – 1 cup Kraft Creamy Mexicana Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia

Instructions

To make the scones, start by combining the flour, bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and black pepper. Once mixed, add in the butter. Use your hands to blend the butter into the dough, still leaving pea-sized pieces visible. This is what contributes to the flakiness of the scones.

Next add the cream, sour cream, Kraft Creamy Mexicana Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia and frozen corn. If the dough is too dry and will not come together to form a ball, add ¼ cup of cold water or more as needed. Do not over mix. Knead the dough slightly to bring it together but not so much as to over-develop the gluten and make the scones tough.

Roll out the dough about ¾” thick, using flour to prevent it from sticking. Cut it into rounds and place the scones on parchment-lined sheet trays, 8 scones per tray. Brush them with egg wash and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes. Right before you take them out of the oven, add the additional Kraft Creamy Mexicana Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia and allow it to melt over the top of the scones, without browning. Cool and enjoy!

Disclosure: Although this post has been generously sponsored by Kraft Canada, the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect Kraft Canada. 

 

Avocado Toast with Fried Cheese

It’s Friday – make that the last Friday of the semester – and I don’t feel like writing anything remotely insightful or intellectual in the least. My brain has had to absorb too much information to go look up even more material to write about here. It might sound lazy but I am just being realistic about my capacity to generate coherent sentences. Nancy over at Gotta Get Baked inspired me with her random crap post. I really like the idea of writing tangentially about whatever comes to mind and not filtering it whatsoever. Writing is what stops me from blogging half of the time. It’s not that I don’t have any recipes to share, I just have not been able to muster up the time or energy to write an actual post. But if I don’t feel pressured to write anything meaningful, well then that is a whole different story. Let’s have atter! (try Googling “have atter”, there is a very interesting forum someone created asking what it means. All of the replies are along the lines of, “who cares?” and “get a life” but I almost feel sorry for the guy – it’s a valid question!)

Avocado toast with fried cheese

I signed up to write the GRE a couple of days ago (that’s the Graduate Record Examination for gaining entrance to grad school, if you are not familiar with it). The verbal component of the test is basically compromised of a series of subtests designed to assess your vocabulary. All I am going to do for the next 3 months is read word lists just to prepare for it. 5 bucks if you can tell me what “lachrymose” means. That’s what I thought. Who in the 21st century uses a word like that? FYI, it is a description of someone who is teary or prone to weeping. So next time you see someone crying, tell them there is no need to be so lachrymose. And if you get punched in the face, it is probably well deserved.

Ok and here is another thing I have been thinking about lately; old people driving. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good older drivers and plenty of bad young ones, but I have had way too many experiences lately that have tempted me to give up my keys and just walk wherever I need to go. The roads are not safe. Not when you have people backing out of parking stalls, pushing their grocery carts with them as they go, and then driving away as if nothing ever happened. What if that was a real, live human being? Also, are you allowed to drive while wearing an oxygen tank? The last thing I really want to have happen when I get in an accident with you is to be knocked unconscious by a 50 pound metal tank flying through my windshield. This is not an attack against the elderly. My real point is, there have got to be tighter restrictions around how people get and retain their licenses. There is something seriously wrong with the fact that you can get a drivers license at 16 and keep it for the rest of your life. Shouldn’t there be a re-test, even at like 25 or 30, just to make sure you are not a danger to yourself or others? Otherwise, there are just too many incompetent people to make me feel comfortable on the roads.

Want to know what one of my other pet-peeves is? Unripe avocados. The worst thing is when you have 5 or 6 avocados in your fridge and you go to eat one, only to find that they are all hard as a rock. Booo. I reckon this would not be so much of a problem if I lived in California with an avocado tree in my backyard and had them at my disposal all the time. Can avocados make you fat? Because they definitely would if I had that kind of access to them. Avocado toast is probably my favourite meal in life. Just as Napoleon Dynamite loved his tatertots, I love my mashed avocado toast. Top that avocado toast with fried cheese and you are off to the races. The problem is, avocado toast is a wee bit harder to shove in your pocket to save as an afternoon snack. Such is life, I suppose.

Avocado toast with fried cheeseAvocado toast with fried cheeseAvocado toast with fried cheese

Avocado Toast with Fried Cheese
 
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Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 slices grainy bread
  • 1 avocado, mashed with salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup cubed, cooked eggplant
  • 6 pieces of homemade paneer
Instructions
  1. To assemble, toast the bread and slather each piece with mashed avocado. Cook off the paneer until golden on all sides. Top the avocado toast with fried paneer and cooked eggplant.

 

Homemade Paneer or Ricotta Cheese

Homemade paneer or ricotta cheese

Have you ever made your own cheese before? Neither had I until I tried my hand at paneer a couple of weeks ago. My family was gone and I had a fridge full of dairy products that I was not going to consume on my own. I don’t drink milk – not even on cereal – so I figured I should do something with it, rather than forgetting about it and dealing with a carton of sour, coagulated garbage a week later. Plus it was a great excuse to neglect studying and experiment with cheese instead.

So how does this whole cheese-making process work, you ask? Often when I think cheese, much of what comes to mind pertains to adding enzymes and various bacterial cultures, so you can let it age for months on end. Seriously though, where are you going to find that stuff? I had a hard enough time tracking down lye for my homemade pretzels. I am not lying (get it?) when I say that I actually got a prescription from my doctor and took it to the pharmacist (basically the only one in the entire city that actually carried lye). It got even more interesting when she asked why I needed it and I said “for making pretzels.” Not exactly the answer she was expecting to hear.

Anyways, luckily for us, you don’t need any crazy, scientific chemicals to make fresh, homemade paneer or ricotta cheese. I should probably talk about the 2 in reverse order – technically you get ricotta before you get paneer. It really is way more simple than you would ever expect. First you get yourself some milk and/or cream of various fat percentages. Whatever you have on hand will work, just keep in mind that the more milk solids in the product, the more cheese it will make. In other words, don’t use skim or you will end up with like 2 tablespoons of cheese.

Take your milk and some salt and heat it up. Once it boils, stir in the acid of your choice. Lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar; anything along those lines will work. You will see it immediately separate into curds and whey. This is exactly what you want. If it looks like white vomit, you are on the right track. Yummmmmy.

Then you strain it. Logically, the more liquid you drain off, the thicker and drier it will be. Stop here and you have yourself a lovely batch of ricotta. Taste it and add more salt if you want (I definitely did, it was a tad bland otherwise). Alternately, you can squeeze out as much moisture as possible and press it into a sliceable disk. Voila, paneer. Fry it up or drizzle some cubes with good olive oil and simply eat as is. Easy peasy cheesy.

Homemade paneer or ricotta cheeseHomemade paneer or ricotta cheeseHomemade paneer or ricotta cheeseHomemade paneer or ricotta cheeseHomemade paneer or ricotta cheese 

Homemade Paneer or Ricotta Cheese
 
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Making cheese from scratch is a great way to use up leftover milk or cream you have on hand!
Recipe type: homemade cheese
Ingredients
  • 6 cups milk and/or cream (I used about 5 cups of 1% milk and 1 cup of half and half, however you can use whatever you have. Just keep in mind that the higher the fat, the more milk solids there will be, thus the more cheese it will make. In other words, don't go lower than 1% or it won't make anything.)
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar, lemon juice, etc.)
Instructions
  1. Bring the milk/cream and salt to a bowl in a medium to large pot.
  2. Add the vinegar and turn the heat off. You will see it curdle almost instantaneously - this is good. Wait 1-2 minutes for the curds and whey to fully separate before straining the cheese in a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth.
  3. If you want to make ricotta, let it drain for 20-30 minutes, or until it reaches the consistency you want.
  4. For paneer on the other hand, allow if to drain about 20-30 minutes and then squeeze it out so that most of the moisture is gone. Wrap it up in the cheesecloth and shape it into a disc. Put it in a bowl or on a plate and put another bowl or plate on top of it. Then put something heavy on top (I used the bowl from my mortar and pestle) and press it for about an hour (refrigerated). Cut it into cubes and eat it as is, or fry it up until golden.
  5. Either way, the cheese will keep for 4-5 days refrigerated.

Homemade ricotta cheese Homemade ricotta cheese Strained cheeseHomemade paneer or ricotta cheeseHomemade paneer or ricotta cheese

Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies

double chocolate brownie cookies

It sure doesn’t feel like 2 months has passed since the event, but way back in January, I attended a cookbook launch at the Sait Culinary Campus, our local culinary school here in Calgary. It was an evening filled to the brim with great conversation, and of course, great food. They had each chef make recipes from the book to serve as hors d’oeuvres and it was really interesting to see how each one’s experience and background translated into totally different styles of food that ended up on the plate. Chef Michael Dekker made the most delicious Asian style rice cake that he was kind enough to serve to me without the accompanying duck breast. If you get your hands on the book, I also highly recommend trying your hand at the creamy, garlic soup, which requires you to blanch the garlic several times to rid it of it’s pungent flavour.

There were also lots of desserts to be had and naturally I headed straight for the chocolate. Meeting these double chocolate brownie cookies was like love at first site. Just looking at the shiny exterior, I knew that they would be melt-in-your-mouth chocolate perfection. I am not exaggerating, I swear. I had probably 3 or 4 of them over the course of the evening and they were the first recipe I had to make when I got the book home. We had some company over and the cookies were gone by the time they left. Which saddened me because I only got to eat one, but maybe that was a good thing. Next time, I will be sure to bake a double batch!

double chocolate brownie cookies double chocolate brownie cookies

5.0 from 2 reviews
Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies
 
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Recipe from Sait's "Seasons" Cookbook
Serves: 12-14 cookies
Ingredients
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 ½ cup (350g) brown sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
  • 1 pound dark chocolate, melted
  • ½ stick (125g) butter
  • ½ cup (125ml) flour
  • ½ tsp (2ml) baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • ⅔ cup (150g) pecans (optional)
  • 1 cup (200g) chocolate chunks/chips (optional)
Instructions
  1. Whip the eggs and brown sugar with the vanilla until pale and light.
  2. Mix the melted chocolate into the butter. Whisk this into the egg mixture.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt into the chocolate/butter/egg mixture. Add the pecans (optional).
  4. Let the dough cool in fridge at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
  5. Scoop the dough with soup spoon onto cookie trays lined with parchment. Flatten it out a little and add chocolate chunks on top of cookie batter. This step is optional but who doesn't want more chocolate in their cookies?
  6. Bake at 325F for about 10 minutes. The cookies should still be soft and slightly glossy on top, but set around the edges. Cool and eat!

double chocolate brownie cookiesdouble chocolate brownie cookiesdouble chocolate brownie cookies

Raspberry, Brie and Goat Cheese Pizza with Arugula, Walnuts and Parmesan Cream

Raspberry, brie and goat cheese pizza

Our perceptions are funny things sometimes. Think pizza and what comes to mind? Cheese and tomato sauce. Ham and pineapple. Prosciutto and arugula. Veggies and cheese. Raspberries and brie? Not so much.

It’s strange really. We put raspberries and brie on crustini. We bake off a big wheel of brie and top it with raspberry compote. So why can’t you put the two of them on pizza? See our expectations, our “schemas” so to speak really dictate what we view as acceptable and what we view as flat out weird. At one point I am sure people were pretty skeptical about peanut butter and jelly, but that sure is not the case anymore. The more we see things, we normalize them and they no longer seem so odd anymore. Apparently raspberry, brie and goat cheese pizza isn’t quite at that point yet.

There is no reason why it should not be though. You have all your flavours covered. Sweet raspberries, salty cheese, peppery arugula and crunchy walnuts for some texture. Plus it starts off with a deliciously rich parmesan cream as your base, rather than boring tomato sauce or plain white pizza. Sounds like dinner to me.

*As a side note, I used this pizza dough recipe when putting together this raspberry, brie and goat cheese pizza. It comes together in a cinch and keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days if you want to make it ahead of time. Then you can have homemade pizza whenever you want!

Raspberry, brie and goat cheese pizzaRaspberry, brie and goat cheese pizza

Raspberry, Brie and Goat Cheese Pizza with Arugula, Walnuts and Parmesan Cream
 
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Author:
Recipe type: pizza, dinner
Ingredients
  • pizza dough
  • fresh raspberries
  • brie cheese
  • soft goat cheese
  • blue cheese
  • fresh arugula
  • crumbled walnuts
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. First things first, made your pizza dough. Once you have gone through that process and it is ready to go, roll it out as thin as you like (mine was about ¼" thick). Get yourself a grill pan, or other large sauté pan and crank it up to high heat. This might sound odd if you are used to putting your pizza right in the oven, no par-cooking involved, but take your rolled out dough and put it neatly in the hot pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes per side or until nice and charred. There are 3 things I love about adding in this step. First, it drastically reduces the cook time of the pizza once it is in the oven. Second, no home oven is hot enough to achieve the same char that the pan does. Third, it keeps your crust nice and thin, rather than having it puff up like a blimp. You know what I am talking about, sometimes homemade pizza can turn out more like bread with toppings, rather than actual pizza.
  2. Now that the crust is prepared, it's time to make the sauce. Essentially combining the cream and parmesan makes an alfredo of sorts but this is much less gloopy than your typical alfredo. All you have to do is combine the cheese and cream in a small pot and reduce it over medium heat until it reaches a thick consistency. Season with salt and pepper and you are ready to go.
  3. We have crust, we have sauce, looks like it's time to start assembling some pizza. First, put the sauce on the crust. Then sprinkle on the toppings to your heart's content (that's goat cheese, brie, blue cheese, raspberries, walnuts and arugula if you weren't paying attention earlier). Most arugula pizzas just add the greens at the end to keep them fresh but I wanted to bake them so that they would wilt down into all of the cheese and cream. It also ensured that their pepperiness did not overpower all of the other ingredients.
  4. Hang in there, you are getting close to eating time. Bake the pizza at 450-475F for 10 minutes tops (less, depending on how crunchy vs. doughy you want it to be). Keep in mind that the crust is virtually cooked so all you have to do is melt the cheese and brown the top. Once it's golden, you are golden. Time to eat.

Raspberry, brie and goat cheese pizzaRaspberry, brie and goat cheese pizza

Pizza Dough

pizza dough

Here we have it, my inaugural post for The Secret Recipe Club. Basically how it works is that each month you are assigned a fellow blogger whose site you have to create a recipe from. The catch is that they do not know you are doing it, hence the “secret” part. I thought it would be a fun way to connect with other bloggers around the world, which held true in my first assignment as Manuela from Manu’s Menu lives in Australia!

However, she was raised in Milan and is all about making authentic Italian eats. I had a really hard time deciding what recipe to make (as the cliche goes, there were too many to choose from!), but knew I wanted to stick to the Italian theme. We had enough dessert in the house, otherwise I definitely would have made cookies (these or these). Since we were having pizza for dinner anyways the other night, I figured I would try out Manuela’s recipe for pizza dough. I rarely document what I do when I make bread of any kind so I even decided to take pictures at every step along the way – other than actually making the pizza that is, that adventure will come later this week. Let’s just say there were raspberries involved. Stay tuned and in the meantime, let’s make some pizza dough!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Pizza Dough
 
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Author:
Serves: 3 or 4 pizzas
Ingredients
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 400-450mL warm water
  • 2¼ tsp. dry active yeast or 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast with 250mL warm water and sugar to activate it.
  2. When the yeast looks foamy, add the remaining ingredients into the bowl, starting with 150mL of water and adding the additional 50mL if it looks too dry.
  3. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Turn the mixer up to medium and let it go for about 7 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
  4. The dough will still be fairly sticky but it should pass the window pane test (meaning that you can stretch it thin enough to see through it without it ripping - see picture).
  5. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, cover it and allow it to rise for 45-60 minutes or until double in size. At this point you can proceed with making your pizza or refrigerate the dough until you are ready to use it. The dough can even be made the day before and allowed to rest in the fridge to develop some flavour.

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Yeast and sugar.

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In goes the water, then the oil.

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Now for the flour and salt.

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Add more water and it’s time to mix.

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Turn up the speed until it becomes smooth and elastic.

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Beautiful dough.

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The windowpane test -> sticky fingers.

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Vegan Buddha Bowl (for one)

Usually I am not overly inclined to come here and ramble on about nothing. For some reason, today is different. As much as I have been posting fairly regularly (twice per week is regular, isn’t it?), I have felt pretty disengaged from the whole process. It’s kind of like, “here’s your recipe, here’s some pictures, have fun, bye.” I am yearning for the diarizing aspect of blogging today though so I am going to go for it. There’s an element of voyeurism to blogging, isn’t there? It’s interesting to gain insight into the lives of other people. Or maybe that’s just me – maybe that’s why I want to be a psychologist. So anyways, if you just want the recipe without hearing me ramble on, skip down a bit and you will find it. Otherwise, listen up.

Vegan Buddha Bowl Vegan Buddha Bowl

Did that make it seem like I had something crazily earth-shattering to share? Sorry to get your hopes up but I don’t. Just your average every day this and that; catching up over coffee kind of thing. If you want, you can go make yourself a cup, I’ll wait. Things have been busy, I mean, they are always busy, but especially so. The semester is winding down so there are projects, papers, tests and the like. I have this group video assignment for kinesiology and it is basically my hell. Honestly when was the last time I had to make a video for school? Junior high probably. Give me a 10 page paper or a Powerpoint presentation any day, I will take it hands down. Thankfully I’ve got a good group otherwise who knows?

At work the pace has been just as relentless. My boss is having her baby soon, which means getting everything in order as she will be out of commission for a while. Oh and did I mention I decided to start a new volunteer position too? In my defence I applied back in December (when things were a little calmer) and by the time the whole process was finished, a few months had passed. I had my first shift this morning and I must say, it was worth the wait. I could tell instantly that it is one of those atmospheres where everyone gets along and is like a big extended family. To say I am glad for this would probably be an understatement because I was starting to wonder what I was getting myself into. It’s nice when things actually work out, no?

Vegan Buddha Bowl Vegan Buddha Bowl

What else, what else? Well I guess we cannot ramble without mentioning the weather. I woke up to a blizzard this morning. The winter tires will be staying on a bit longer (anyone who lives in Calgary and had already thought about taking them off is nothing short of dumb…or in denial…or perhaps both). Then I made the mistake of doing an arm workout at the gym (which I virtually never do, by the way). We have the Mt. Everest of driveways so I got some more fitness in when I came home. Blowdrying my hair tomorrow is not going to be fun, I can sense it already. That thing is going to feel like lead in my hands. Did I mention I would really like to train myself to be able to do a pull-up? Just one and I will be happy. The problem is, I am not even sure where to start. Arm strength is not my forte. Oh and back to shovelling, I slipped and fell on my ass. So I really am going to be a wreck in the morning. Advil for breakfast anyone?

Ok and I cannot wait for Monday because Monday is officially the best day ever. Ever. No manic Monday, I wish it was Sunday business. Not when The Blacklist is on. If you have never watched it, get out from under that rock you are living beneath and turn on the television! I do not care if you hate TV, or if you don’t have cable, or if you are not home when it is on. PVR it, Netflix it, whatever people do these days, watch The Blacklist and I am telling you, it will be the best decision you have ever made. That may sound a little extreme for a TV show. However, when I get this excited about something that is not related to food, not one bit, there is something to be said for it. That’s it, I’ve done my part. If you don’t watch it, that’s your fault.

Vegan Buddha Bowl Vegan Buddha Bowl

Is my time up? Your coffee is all gone? Don’t lie to me, you probably finished it 3 paragraphs ago. Maybe you even slipped some Bailey’s in it just to get yourself through this. That’s ok, I did what I had to do. I said what I had to say. Which wasn’t much, but I said it anyways. Have a good weekend everyone. I shall return on Monday after a couple days of rest and recuperation in the mountains. If you are jealous, you should be. There is nothing like ‘em (the mountains that is). If you want, you can come visit some time and see for yourself. Until then, cheerio!

Vegan Buddha Bowl
 
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A vegan veggie bowl for one, complete with sesame peanut dressing.
Author:
Recipe type: salad, dinner, lunch
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • romaine lettuce, chopped
  • julienned beets
  • quick pickled cucumbers (literally just soaked in vinegar with a little bit of sugar, salt and pepper)
  • roasted yams (again just cubed up and roasted with some S and P)
  • sliced mushrooms
  • sesame seeds, to garnish
  • 1-2 tbsp. peanut butter, melted in the microwave until liquid
  • 1-2 tbsp. lime juice, rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • a couple drops of sesame oil
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. It's a veggie bowl so quite frankly, use whatever vegetables you want. I did a combo of lettuce, beets, mushrooms, cucumbers and yams but anything will work, from avocados to a soft boiled egg on top.
  2. To make the dressing, simply whisk together everything from the peanut butter to the black pepper until smooth. Pour it over the produce, garnish with some sesame seeds and dig in.

Vegan Buddha Bowl Vegan Buddha Bowl

Midnight Cake

Midnight Cake

After you have been cooking or baking for awhile, there are certain pieces of information – tips and tricks, so to speak – that become pretty much second nature. It is easy to take for granted that other people should know the ratio of water to rice when cooking it, or the basics of how to cut an onion.

This story is related to such cooking “instincts” and it goes to show that sometimes there is no such thing as too much information when writing a recipe.

Rewind the clock back to Valentine’s Day 2013. I awoke to a text from my mom saying, “look what I made”, a picture of chocolate cupcakes attached. Being the nice daughter I am, I noticed the somewhat sunken tops and replied, “they look kind of under-baked.” Needless to say, that was not exactly the response she was looking for. Oh and for the record, they were not under-baked.

Anyways, later that day they were iced and then consumed for dessert. Considering the infrequency of my mom’s baking adventures, they were pretty good. The texture was a bit off, slightly gritty perhaps? But they were not dry, usually my #1 complaint with poorly baked cakes.

Then we started talking about the recipe itself. My dad had just received some coffee from a work colleague in Colombia and my mom was excited to use it in the cake.

“The recipe called for 1 cup of coffee so I thought it would be great to use the Colombian coffee your dad got at work. I ground it all fresh this morning,” she said.

“Wait, you used 1 cup of ground coffee?” I asked.

“Of course, that’s what the recipe said.”

“Umm, I’m pretty sure it meant 1 cup of brewed coffee.”

“Well it didn’t say that.”

We went back and forth for a bit until she showed me the recipe. It read exactly, “1 cup coffee”, no mention of “brewed”, “ground” or the like. Having seen chocolate cake recipes like it before, I did a quick Google search to clarify that it was indeed “brewed” coffee that was required. At that point, she really did not have a choice but to admit defeat. In her defence, the cupcakes could have turned out a lot worse for what had happened. Sure they were a tad gritty, but they definitely were not inedible. Needless to say, it is something we laugh about now. Who am I to judge anyways? I put egg shells in cake and thought I could get away with it.

This past Valentine’s she redeemed herself and made the cake again with coffee, in its brewed form. You would have been hard pressed to say it was the same recipe it was so much better. It definitely goes to show that you should never assume something to be “common sense”, especially when writing recipes!

Midnight CakeMidnight Cake

Midnight Cake
 
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Makes 1 8 inch square or round cake
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brewed black coffee
Instructions
  1. Sift together all of the dry ingredients (the first 6 ingredients in the list).
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients (the milk to the coffee).
  3. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until well combined. The batter will be thin so don't panic. Mind you, it ends up being quite a bit thicker when you use ground coffee instead...
  4. Pour the batter into a greased and lined cake pan and bake at 350F for 35-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely before removing the cake from the pan and topping it with the icing of your choice. My mom made a basic chocolate icing with butter, cocoa powder, icing sugar and milk but you could do a coffee buttercream or even cream cheese frosting if you like. Slice and enjoy!

Midnight Cake

Cocoa Poached Pears with Dolfin Chocolate Sauce

Cocoa Poached Pears

One of my instructors at culinary school had a favourite expression that has stuck with me over the past couple of years – “keep it simple stupid.” Although I don’t always heed this advice, when I do, things tend to turn out better than if I had added 200 ingredients to them. Take this Dolfin chocolate sauce for example, I knew I had to take the quote to heart in order to truly showcase the chocolate at its best. Because the chocolate is so unique to begin with, I wanted to sculpt the recipe around its flavours, rather than simply making a recipe and adding chocolate to it. After all, what goes better with pears and almonds than more pears and almonds? Have you ever had a chocolate bar with pear in it? Neither had I until trying Dolfin’s pear and grilled almond bar. Floral fruit, floral chocolate – it works.

Cocoa Poached Pears

I decided to bring everything together by building on the flavours that were already there. I started by poaching pears, upping the anti by having them bath in a chocolately, cocoa syrup. As for the chocolate sauce itself, 2 ingredients; Dolfin pear and grilled almond dark chocolate and whipping cream. Then I topped everything with candied almonds, not only to mimic the almonds in the chocolate, but also to add some necessary texture. See, dessert does not have to be complicated to be good.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci

Cocoa Poached Pears Cocoa Poached Pears

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Cocoa Poached Pears with Dolfin Chocolate Sauce
 
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Tender poached pears with Dolfin chocolate sauce and candied almonds.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 pears, peeled and cored
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups agave syrup
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup slivered, blanched almonds
  • 1 bar Dolfin pear and grilled almond chocolate (70g)
  • ⅓ cup whipping cream
Instructions
  1. To poach the pears, bring the water, agave and almond extra to a boil. Remove it from the heat and gradually whisk in the cocoa powder. Then add the pears and cook over low heat for about 1 hour, or until the pears are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, you can make the candied almonds by heating up ¼ cup of white sugar with a splash of water. Bring it to a boil. When the bubbles get bigger and it starts to thicken, stir in the almonds. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the almonds separate, becoming sandy and dry. Put them in a separate bowl and let cool.
  3. To make the Dolfin chocolate sauce, bring the whipping cream to a bowl, either in a pot or in the microwave. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate to melt it and stir to combine.
  4. When the pears are ready, allow them to cool slightly before plating, garnished with the Dolfin chocolate sauce and candied almonds. You can also poach the pears ahead of time, allow them to cool in the syrup and then refrigerate them in their poaching liquid. In that case you can either serve them chilled or at room temperature, or reheat them.

Dolfin ChocolateCocoa Poached PearsCocoa Poached Pears