Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes and a birthday dedication

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I’m a planner. If I could pencil in where I’m going to be this afternoon, tomorrow, the day after that, 5 years from now, I would probably do it. I live my life by setting goals and accomplishing them, sometimes at the expense of neglecting to see opportunities that are staring me right in the face, or realizing that the path I’ve set out on isn’t even what I want. Over time I’ve gotten better at adapting to the unknowns that life throws at you, but “going with the flow” is still something I will always have to work on. It’s an ongoing process but I’ve figured out how to balance my “J” qualities with a little bit of “P”, such that I can survive when things don’t work out quite as planned.

After all, sometimes the best things in life are the ones that happen to be the most unexpected. Like reconnecting with someone you haven’t seen in a long time who also happens to reside a world away. Someone who was the most important person in my life for the better part of a year and then gone. Having disappeared as quickly as it fell into my lap, I spent awhile trying to reconcile the fact that maybe fate put him there for a reason, in that place, at that time, but that was all it was ever going to be. It was a reality I tried to accept, and for the most part, succeeded in doing so. But every now and then I would have a random dream, thought, intuition that there was more. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that if your gut is telling you something, it’s probably right. And thankfully, it was.

I’m still as much of a planner as ever, but when life hands you beautiful brown eyes and a smile belonging to someone who is smart, witty, caring, and a continuation of adjectives that will never do the real person justice, you embrace the welcome detour that takes you from Point A, to B, to C, rather than the original journey from Point A to C, and never look back. And when cette individual’s favourite cake is carrot cake, and it just so happens to be his birthday, you dedicate your carrot cake recipe to him. Because what else would you do?

J, whatever serendipitous stroke of luck, fate, or kismet brought you back into the centre of my universe, I thank it every day. You challenge me and make me want to be a better person day in and day out, for you, for me, and for us. You’re right, there’s no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going, but there are 360 degrees of possibility from whatever angle I look at it. I couldn’t have planned it better even if I tried. Happy birthday.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes
 
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tbsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 bar Green & Black's Organic Ginger Chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups grated carrots
Instructions
  1. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners and heat your oven to 325F.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients, from the flour to the chocolate.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, whisking or stirring to blend.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.
  5. Portion the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake at 325F for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Cool and top with the frosting of your choice (or just eat as-is).

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Holiday Cooking on a Budget

Holiday Cooking on a Budget

No time of year warrants sticking to a budget quite like the holidays, yet December is probably the most difficult month to be a penny-pincher; especially when it comes to food. First you’ve got the turkey. A good one will set you back at least $60-70. Then you’ve got to figure out what sides to pair with it. Everyone has their favourites so there really aren’t any you can eliminate. You can’t forget dessert either. Christmas chocolates? Yes please. But $15 for a box of Quality Street or Turtles, say what?

Thankfully good food doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 3 dishes you can prepare to serve up to 6 people, for less than $30. If I did my math correctly, that’s less than $5 per person.

Your friends and family may throw a fit if you don’t have turkey for the holidays, so instead of cooking a whole bird, try opting for legs instead. They are dirt cheap – between $2.50 to $3 per leg – and braising them ensures they stay moist and tender, unlike that dry breast meat that no one likes.

For a side, try making a chickpea salad. Beans and legumes are a great way to add bulk to your meal and are a blank canvas to add a plethora of other flavours. The red and green colours of pomegranate and brussels sprouts scream “holidays” to me!

Finally, dessert is required at all holiday meals, regardless of how full you are. Grandma’s coconut snowballs are the easiest treats you will ever make in your life. You don’t even have to turn the oven on. Still they are a crowd favourite year after year.

I don’t know about you but that’s one tasty sounding budget meal right there. It will have everyone at your table saying “Merry Christmas”, your wallet included!

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BRAISED TURKEY LEGS

Serves 4-6 – costs $14.50

Ingredients

  • 4 turkey legs
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. dried herbs (I used a combination of rosemary, thyme and oregano)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Season the turkey legs with salt and pepper and brown them in a large skillet over medium-high heat. You are just looking to sear them, not cook them through.
  2. Remove the browned turkey from the skillet and place it in a large, oven-proof dish.
  3. Add the vegetables and dried herbs to the same skillet you browned the turkey in. Deglaze with chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Pour the vegetables and stock over the turkey legs. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 3-3.5h, or until tender. You can then use the braising liquid to make a gravy if you like, or you can serve the turkey as is. The turkey can also be braised a day ahead of time and just warmed up when you are ready to serve.

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CHICKPEA SALAD WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND POMEGRANATE

Serves 4-6 – costs $5 total

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups raw brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2-3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. To make the dressing, whisk together the mustard and honey until smooth. Whisk in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Combine the chickpeas, pomegranate, and brussels sprouts in a bowl. Pour in the dressing and stir to combine.
  3. This salad is best eaten after a couple of hours because it allows the dressing to marinate the chickpeas and brussels sprouts. You can ever make ahead of time to serve the next day.

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COCONUT SNOWBALLS

Makes 20 balls – costs $7.50 total

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6-8 oz. chocolate chips (about 1/2 of a typical 350g package)
  • shredded coconut, as needed (about 1-1 1/2 cups)

Instructions

  1. Stir together all ingredients except the shredded coconut.
  2. Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls and coat each with coconut.
  3. Refrigerate if not eaten immediately.
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Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Even when you don’t really have time to bake, you can find a way to make time for these chocolate coconut oatmeal cookies. They take mere minutes to put together and are virtually impossible to screw up. Adding applesauce to the dough makes them moist and very forgiving (even if you overcook them a tad they won’t turn rock hard and thus inedible on you). Plus you can make a massive batch and freeze half so you have them at the ready even if you don’t have time to turn on the oven. I don’t see any downsides, do you?

Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
 
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Author:
Serves: 40 cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1½ cups dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Blend together the coconut oil and brown sugar to form a smooth paste.
  2. Stir in the eggs, vanilla and applesauce. Beat until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until everything is well incorporated.
  4. Spoon the dough onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 350F for about 10 minutes per batch (it will take a couple of batches to cook them all).
  5. Cool and enjoy!
Notes
**To make cranberry white chocolate pumpkin cookies:
- substitute peanut butter for the coconut oil
- swap out the applesauce for pumpkin puree
- omit the shredded coconut
- add ¾ each white chocolate chips and dried cranberries, instead of the chocolate chips
Enjoy!

Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

I need a slice of this Nanaimo bar cheesecake right now. I need it badly. Bring on the stress eating. At the moment I am in the midst of planning a trip to Europe. Holy heck is it a lot of work. I shouldn’t be stressed (trips are supposed to be fun, right?) but I am. I have spent the past 3 days straight trying to solidify all of my hotel bookings. When you are planning to hit up 6 countries, that’s a lot of different hotels to worry about. I wish I could be the type of person who just wings it and finds places as they go, but I end up planning every last thing down to the minute. Probably the last second actually. I figure that is better than getting somewhere and realizing you don’t have a place to sleep. Anyways, that is my life right now. I should be doing other things ex. studying for my GRE. I have to get through that first before I can go on vacation, yet vacation still seems more important. My priorities are skewed, I know.

More about this Nanaimo bar cheesecake though. I thought this was my own brilliant brain-child until I Googled it and realized it had already been done. Can you do anything that is original anymore? Apparently not. That doesn’t make it any less super-duper though. It’s got your classic cocoa/coconut/graham cracker crust on the bottom. Instead of the next layer being pure, sugary, yellow icing, I substituted cheesecake, dying the batter with custard powder for that Nanaimo bar look. Top it all off with chocolate ganache and you’ve got yourself an amalgamation of the 2 finest desserts money can buy.

Nanaimo Bar CheesecakeNanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake
 
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2 of the best desserts combined; nanaimo bars and cheesecake!
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil (if needed)
  • 1 pound Philadelphia light cream cheese
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. custard powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bar chocolate (70g)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Heat your oven to 350F. Line an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper, both on the bottom and the sides.
  2. To make the crust, combine the melted butter, cocoa, graham cracker crumbs and coconut. If the mixture is too dry, at the 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil to help it hold together. Press it into the bottom of the lined pan and bake at 350F for 5-7 minutes.
  3. When the crust comes out, turn the oven down to 325F. Fill a loaf pan (or any other oven-proof dish) with hot water and put it on the bottom rack of the oven. This helps to prevent the cheesecake from cracking.
  4. To make the filling, beat the Philadelphia cream cheese until smooth. Add in the sugar and continue to beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Next add the custard powder and then the eggs, one at a time.
  5. Pour the prepared filling into the pan on top of the crust. Bake at 325F for 35-40 minutes, or until set around the edges while remaining slightly jiggly in the centre. Cool to room temperature before topping with chocolate ganache.
  6. To make the ganache topping, heat up the cream. Pour it over the chocolate to melt it and then pour this over the cooled cheesecake.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before you are ready to slice and serve.

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Carrot Cake Cookies with Green & Black’s Organic White Chocolate Frosting

Carrot Cake Cookies

Spring is a funny thing when you live in Canada, Calgary especially. See we don’t really get seasons here. It basically goes from winter to a couple of warm months, and then back to winter. Don’t kid yourself, the snow is all melted now, but the white, fluffy stuff isn’t gone for good. It will make another appearance before “summer” comes, guaranteed. Case in point, we went skiing Easter weekend and it was the best snow day of the year. Knee deep fresh powder in April. Not that I was complaining or anything.

Because the weather won’t necessarily be spring-like, the best way to experience the rebirth of a new season is through the food. Cue these carrot cake cookies with Green & Black’s Organic White Chocolate Frosting. Is it too cheesy to say that they are like little bites of spring? Probably, but it looks like I just did it anyways. Green & Black’s Organic White Chocolate is my absolute favourite. The best part about it is the vanilla flavour, complete with little speckles of vanilla bean. In fact, it’s not unlike a speckled little egg. See, even the chocolate is springy!

You cannot go wrong turning carrot cake into cookies either. Not only are they portable and snackable, it ups the icing to cake ratio too, so you are never left with any mouthfuls of boring or dry cake. White chocolate, carrots, cookies. See it is starting to feel more like spring around here already!

Check out more of what Green & Black’s has to offer on their website or Facebook page!

*Disclaimer: Although Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate was kind enough to supply the chocolate for this piece, the opinions, recipe and pictures are all my own.

Carrot Cake Cookies Carrot Cake Cookies Carrot Cake Cookies

Carrot Cake Cookies with Green & Black's Organic White Chocolate Frosting
 
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These cookies are the perfect snack or dessert for spring! Makes 30-34 individual cookies or 15-17 sandwich cookies
Author:
Recipe type: cookies, dessert, sweets, spring
Ingredients
  • For the cookies:
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup finely grated carrots (about 2 large carrots)
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup oats
  • ½ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • For the frosting:
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese (1 package), softened to room temperature
  • 1 bar Green & Black’s Organic white chocolate, melted
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. lime juice
Instructions
  1. To make the cookies:
  2. Heat your oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a bowl, combine the coconut oil, applesauce and brown sugar until smooth, then add in the egg.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients from the flour to the allspice. Gradually add the carrots in with the combined dry ingredients, in order to help prevent them from clumping together. If there are some lumps, don’t worry about it, they will work their way out when you combine the dry with the wet.
  5. Mix the flour/carrot mixture into the wet ingredients (the combined coconut oil, applesauce, brown sugar and egg). Stir until just combined. There should be no visible clumps of grated carrot or pockets of flour remaining.
  6. Using a small cookie scoop, portion the dough onto your lined cookie sheets, about 15-17 cookies per each.
  7. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes, or until the dough has lost it’s sheen and the cookies are golden. Cool before frosting and eating.
  8. To make the frosting:
  9. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  10. Add in the melted Green & Black’s Organic chocolate until fully incorporated.
  11. Next add the powdered sugar, beating thoroughly to ensure there are no lumps.
  12. Finally, mix in the lime juice. Put the frosting in a piping bag fit with a star tip. When the cookies have cooled, pipe about 2 tablespoons of frosting on the bottom side of half of the cookies. Sandwich them together with the other half of the cookies that you left un-frosted.
  13. The cookies are ready to eat! If not served immediately, they can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. You could also bake the cookies ahead of time, freeze them and then frost them prior to eating.

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