Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spicy Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Breasts

Yum!  That's the best word for this recipe: yum.  I am loving it, and I'm looking forward to loving it later on this week as leftovers-for-lunch.  There are recipes I make once and mark as recipes I should make again, but never seem to get around to it.  This one won't be one of those, I can tell.  It's just complex enough to tempt the taste buds, but simple enough to get ingredients and whip together.

I used my Pampered Chef rice cooker to do the bulgur instead of my saucepan, so that I could do it at the same time as the chicken without having to keep a strict eye on it.  I had a little panic moment when I thought I'd over-cooked the bulgur, but after adding a few tablespoons of water and giving it another zip in the microwave, it came out marvelously.  The hardest part, surprisingly for me, was finding raspberries.  My local grocery store was completely out, and the next store I tried had some questionable ones... I supposed if I had been really stuck I could have thawed some frozen ones to use, and just given them a little less time.

Normally I make a recipe, and wait until I find a convenient moment to blog it.  This recipe I couldn't wait to blog! I barely had time to put down my fork before zipping over to my computer to share it with you.  If it looks even half-ways tempting, I'm telling you, don't wait -- make it for your next meal!  You won't regret it!

Spicy Raspberry Balsamic Chicken Breasts
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 bulgur
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1/8 tsp sea salt
4 4-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp safflower oil
1 cup diced shallots
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp low-sodium soya sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp raw honey
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 cup fresh raspberries

Directions:
Cook bulgur according to package directions; add broccoli to last 2 minutes of cooking time.  Remove from heat and stir in salt and zest; set aside.

Meanwhile, season chicken on all sides with black pepper and onion powder.  In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil on medium-high.  Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes.  Turn chicken and add shallots.  Cook for 5 additional minutes, stirring shallots occasionally, until chicken is cooked through.  Transfer chicken to a large plate and cover to keep warm; keep shallots on medium-high heat.

To shallots, add vinegar, soya sauce, honey, and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine and cook until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds.  Stir in raspberries and cook for 30 more seconds, until berries soften slightly.  Divide chicken and bulgur among serving plates and spoon berry mixture over chicken.

Enjoy!
Source: Clean Eating Magazine, August/September 2012. 


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Roasted Beet & Eggplant Salad

After the weekend, since it was a long weekend, I was craving something a little more... healthy?  I'd had restaurant dinners and junk food a few times over the weekend and was feeling the need to start over fresh.  This recipe, from the latest issue of Clean Eating magazine caught my eye, because it fit the bill exactly -- it's grease-free, yet protein rich, veggie full, and filling.

This recipe comes together fairly quickly.  The longest parts for me were peeling the beets and waiting for the lentils to cook.  But, if it was timed right, or used leftover lentils, this recipe would really fly.  It's fairly simple, just chop, mix, and go.  One thing I will do if I make it again, is to skip on the lettuce.  After everything was tossed together, I didn't feel the lettuce was necessary.  The meal itself is filling without it.

Roasted Beet and Eggplant Salad
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 lb eggplant, trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 1/4 tsp olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
1/2 lb beets, trimmed, peeled, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 cups dried brown lentils, picked over
1 field-grown cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
16 large leaves red leaf lettuce
3 oz soft herbed goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large bowl, toss eggplant, 3/4 tsp oil and 1/4 tsp salt.  Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  In a second bowl, toss beets, 3/4 tsp oil and remaining 1/4 tsp salt.  Spread on a second parchment-lined baking sheet.  Transfer both sheets to oven and bake until eggplant is golden brown and edges of beets brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium pot, add lentils and enough water to cover by 2 inches.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until tender; add additional water as necessary to keep lentils covered.  Drain well.

In a medium bowl, combine cucumber, zucchini, lentils, vinegar, and remaining 3/4 tsp oil; toss well.  Divide lettuce among serving plates and top with eggplant, lentil mixture, beets, and cheese.

Enjoy!
Source: Clean Eating Magazine, August/September 2012.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Sweet Mustard Dressing

I recently hosted a Pampered Chef party.  It was a lot of fun, with a great recipe to boot!  In all the preparation and excitement, I completely forgot I had a Pampered Chef recipe book from a previous party.  I found it shortly after the party and flipped through looking for something to eat.  It wasn't long before this one caught my eye.  With a few small variations, I got a great meal out of it!

I can't wait -- by Tuesday my new order of PC supplies should have arrived, and I'll be able to share with everyone!  As much as I want to enjoy this long weekend, I've got something to look forward to when it's time to get back to work.

Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Sweet Mustard Dressing
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:
chicken:
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) pecans
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb chicken breast
1/4 cup vegetable oil

dressing and greens:
1/4 cup peach preserves
2 Tbsp prepared stone-ground mustard
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 cups baby greens

Directions:
For chicken, lightly beat egg white, place into tray.  Finely chop pecans, place into second tray.  Combine salt and pepper in small bowl.  Slice or tenderize chicken breasts to make four equal servings.  Sprinkle cayenne pepper mixture over chicken.  Dip chicken into egg white then pecans, pressing pecans into chicken.

Add oil to 12-inch skillet; heat over medium-low 1 - 3 minutes or until simmering.  Cook chicken 2-3 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Turn chicken over; cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until centres of chicken are no longer pink.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing.  Whisk together preserves, mustard, vinegar, salt, black pepper, pressed garlic and oil in a small bowl.

To serve, toss greens with 2 Tbsp of the dressing; divide among serving plates.  Drizzle remaining dressing around edges of plates.  Arrange chicken around each salad.

Enjoy!
Source: The Pampered Chef.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chips Cookies

Of all the differences between Canada and the United States, one that I dislike the most is how varied the selection of food is.  The Americans have a lot of the same brands we do in Canada, but have more selections for flavours and options.  One example: Hershey Cinnamon Chips.  We simply don't have them.  One Christmas, two or three years ago, Bulk Barn had a shipment of them, and the next year Zellers had them, once.  But they are definitely not a regular in the grocery store, and they are unfortunately the kind of thing that once you have had them, you can't do without!

A dear friend of mine was recently in Pennsylvania visiting, and brought me back some Cinnamon Chips as a treat.  It's win-win you see, because he usually gets some of the treat as reward for his forward thinking :)  I wasn't the most original with this baking session -- I stuck to the recipe on the back of the package -- but if they post it on the package it is probably time-tested to be a good recipe, and will show off the chips in their best light.  The only change I made was to swap out the all-purpose flour for white whole-wheat flour -- another 'treat' from my friend returning from the states.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chips Cookies
Makes: 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 2/3 cups (10-oz pkg) Hershey's Cinnamon Chips
3/4 cup raisins

Directions:
Heat oven to 350F.

Beat butter, sugar, and granulated sugar in a bowl until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.  Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in oats, cinnamon chips, and raisins (batter will be stiff).

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto greased baking sheet (or by small ice cream scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheet).  Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool 1 minute; remove from baking sheet onto wire rack.  Cool completely.
Enjoy!

Source: Hershey.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Coconut Sweet Potato Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are very similar to yesterday's, but without the zing that ginger adds.  Instead, these are coconut-bliss.  Kind of tropical, in tune with the weather of late.  They come from the same source, and like yesterday's cookies are easy to whip up and come out somewhat like a granola bar, but bite-sized and easily portable on my walks with the ladies.  Got to love a quick Sunday afternoon treat!

Coconut Sweet Potato Oatmeal Cookies
Makes: about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cooked sweet potato (or pureed pumpkin)
1/4 - 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

In a large mixing bowl mash 2 ripe bananas.  Add vanilla, coconut oil, maple syrup and mix well. 

In a separate bowl, combine oats, coconut, pecans, cinnamon, baking powder and sea salt.  Slowly stir the sweet potato into the oat mixture making sure to break up all of the clumps.   Stir this mixture into the wet mixture.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop about 2 tablespoons of the batter onto the cookie sheet to form a cookie. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes.  

Enjoy!
Source: slightly adapted from Sweet Potato Soul.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Oat Date Ginger Cookies

I had a great walk this morning with my walking group.  It's the first time I've been in the company of those three great ladies in quite a while, and I enjoyed every minute!  The weather was beautiful, the trail was a little different from our usual, and I got in 12 kilometers.  Who could ask for more?

I'm always on the lookout for great snacks.  I need something that  will help me push through the next workout, the next hour of my walks, or help tide me over until the next meal, if it happens to be later than I was expecting.  Thankfully there are tons of recipes out there! All I have to do is delve into my Clean Eating books, or do a search on the internet looking for snacks that will fit.  This latest recipe is one I found online.  It has lots of good, healthy things in there, and the finished cookie still comes out chewy and sweet.

Oat Date Ginger Cookies
Makes: about 24 cookies

Ingredients:
2 very ripe bananas
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2 Tbsp flax seeds (I used ground)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
3-4 chopped dates
1/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh, diced ginger
4-5 walnuts, crushed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment or silpat.

In a large mixing bowl mash bananas until liquified.

Add olive oil and maple syrup and stir to blend. Add oats, flax, and spices and mix, scraping down sides of the bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix.

Scoop out mixture into tablespoon-sized balls then place on cookie sheet. The cookies will not change in size, so don't worry about putting them too close together.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes on the sheet, before removing to a wire rack.

Enjoy!
Source: Sweet Potato Soul.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Local Drought and Fire

For those of you not currently living in Eastern Ontario or the Ottawa Valley, you may not be aware of the drought conditions in the area.  Even for some of those who live here, I'm finding a lot of people are oblivious, worrying more about their lawn than the food supply.  Even Ottawa's greenbelt, our city's pride and joy, is suffering this summer with a fire that is still not completely out, ten days later.

Some people appear to have lost the basic connection that rain + sun = crops which feed us and the animals we consume to survive.  Maybe it's the fact that we can get strawberries in January, or import any exotic thing we want, whenever we want that is contributing to that disconnect, but either way, we need rain here.  By the time people see the difference in their grocery bill, it will be too late.

Ottawa's hottest + driest summer
Dry summer worries farmers
Drought conditions declared
Ontario crops wither
Greenbelt fire 

Want to help?  Support local farmers -- they need help this year to deal with increased cost of feeding their animals and keeping them alive in this heat and drought.  Buy local produce, encourage your local MPs and MPPs to support the farmers, and reduce your water consumption.

If you smoke, make sure to butt out properly -- it is believed that the Moodie drive fire in the Greenbelt, was started by a discarded cigarette butt.

If nothing else -- hope, wish, pray for rain.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Black Bean Brownies

Ever notice how convenience food is nearly always bad for you?  It's like the only way healthy food appeals to you when you're in a hurry or are really busy is when it's completely ready-to-eat; no hassles.  Even rinsing fruit might seem like work to busy-me when there's junk food within arm's reach.  So, what's the solution?  I've been trying out the idea of washing and chopping my vegetables as soon as I've gotten them home from the grocery store.  I'm strictly bringing my meals to work, instead of buying them.  And, I'm making healthy snacks.  Some have turned out better than others.

Rachel suggested the recipe I'm posting tonight.  It's sugar-free, grain-free, and depending on the chips you use, they can be other allergen free as well.  These took some experimenting to get the Stevia level right, and I've learned through making several batches that the chocolate chips really do need to be stirred in as well as being on top, otherwise the beany taste shines through.  Let the processor go at the beans for a while -- the smoother the better.  It keeps the beans as a "secret" ingredient, the smoother you make them.

Don't be discouraged if you don't get the sweetener ratio right on the first try.  It took me a few times to get it to suit my taste.  I'm glad I put in the time to do so -- this recipe makes a great portable snack wrapped up for work breaks.

Black Bean Brownies
Makes: 9 or 12 or 16 brownies (cut to your liking)

Ingredients:
1 15 oz can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed (Eden Organics are BPA-free)
3 large eggs
1/3 cup melted coconut oil, plus some for the pan
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp mint extract (or pure vanilla extract)
1/3 cup powdered Stevia
1/2 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand are allergen free)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch baking pan with coconut oil and set aside.

Place the black beans, eggs, coconut oil, cocoa powder, mint extract and Stevia in a food processor and process until smooth.  This may take several minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally.  Remove the blade and gently stir in the half the chocolate chips.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and drizzle with remaining chocolate chips.

Bake the brownies for 30-35 minutes, or until set in the centre.  Cool before cutting into squares.

Enjoy!

Source: Rachel Hewitt, RHN.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spicy Glazed Meatloaf

I <3 clean eating.  It's no secret.  I love that I can get delicious, healthy, filling meals without sacrificing taste, or doing the damage that eating preservatives and processed foods can do.  And (as you can tell) I'm a huge fan of Clean Eating Magazine.  With one notable exception: clean eating seems to have a minor hate on for beef.  I keep finding recipes that sound great, until the part where in place of ground beef, they use ground chicken or turkey "for a leaner alternative".  I get that they've got the science and the numbers to back that up.  I get that they can prove to me on paper that I shouldn't be eating beef all day every day.  I get it, really I do.  But turkey isn't beef-flavoured, and sometimes, what I really want, is beef!

All that to say I was super-duper excited to find this really beefy meatloaf recipe in the January / February 2012 issue of Clean Eating Magazine.  I've made it several times already, and really, really enjoyed it.  So much so that I've made the mistake of digging into it before I had a chance to take any good pictures... that's why it's taken so long to get around to posting it.  I found a really good beefy recipe with no turkey!

I made this one with the air conditioner cranked up, because it takes a lot of oven time... it's not really July-appropriate.  My kitchen was boiling and so was I after eating it, but hey, hot and happy is better than hot and not :)

Spicy Glazed Meatloaf
Makes: 8 slices

Ingredients:
1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 egg
2 1/2 lean ground sirloin (beef!!)
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F.  Coat an 8-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse onion, carrots, celery and garlic until chopped, about 10 pulses.

In a medium bowl, mix together oats, chili powder, thyme, salt and pepper; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat egg then add the beef.  Mix together well (you may need to use your hands.)  Add oat mixture and onion mixture (again, you may need to use your hands) until well combined.  Press into loaf pan, smoothing with the back of a spoon (or your fingers.)  Place pan on a baking sheet and bake in oven for 1 hour.

Prepare the glaze by mixing the ketchup, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl.  Remove meatloaf from oven and pour glaze on top, distributing evenly.  Bake again for 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer reads 160F when inserted into centre. 

Let cool for 10 minutes.  Slice into 8 equal pieces and serve.

Enjoy!
Source: Clean Eating Magazine, January / February 2012.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Loaded Quinoa Bowl

It's hot this week, and I've been really appreciating my cooled kitchen.  A lot of the recipes I have planned for this week take advantage of the cool air.  All things considered, my menu doesn't change much depending on the heat.  But what if it did?  I was thinking of how my menu would be based more on cool temperature, no-cook recipes, or on recipes that make the most of leftovers from already cooked meals.  Off in search of something new to try, I came upon this one.  It's perfect! It can easily incorporate leftover quinoa or asparagus if you have it, or, if you don't, it'll leave enough left over for somebody's lunch the next day.  Have you ever tried quinoa for breakfast?  It's a neat alternative to oatmeal, and is good warm or cool.

This recipe was great as one lunch and one supper, with the leftover asparagus, and chickpeas going toward other meals and snacks.  But, there is enough leftover food to get a double-batch, if you were so inclined.

Loaded Quinoa Bowl
Makes: 2 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
8 thin spears asparagus, trimmed and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, cilantro and/or parsley (or small amount dried)
1 Tbsp raw unsalted almonds
1 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. During the last minute of cooking, add asparagus and cover. Remove from heat and set aside, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Add bell pepper, chickpeas, lemon juice, herbs, almonds and oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.
 
 Enjoy!
 Source: Clean Eating magazine online.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chocolate Bar Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ages ago, I made these to get rid of my leftover Halloween candy stash.  Then I realized today that I never got around to blogging them.  Maybe it was the guilt? I mean these are rich, ooey, gooey, decadent, too-good-to-be-true cookies.  I need a glass of milk just looking at them!  I love that it's almost impossible to go wrong with this recipe -- if you can make chocolate chip cookies, you can make these.  If you have leftover chocolate bars, pretzels, Oreo cookies, ingredients for s'mores,  peppermint patties, or really anything that would survive the oven (read: gummy bears are probably not a good idea) you're set.

Chocolate Bar Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes: about 2 dozen large cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
10 oz bag chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate, about 1 3/4 cups if you buy bulk)
24 snack sized chocolate bars (I used Snickers and Mars, but a larger variety would work)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand or electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla until well combined.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl; mix then slowly add to wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips to combine.
 Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of snack size candy bar. Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of candy bar.
Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until candy bar is enclosed with dough.
Place onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until cookies are baked to your liking.
Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Serve with a tall glass of milk!

Enjoy!
Source: Picky Palate.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Oatmeal-Raisin Bizookies

It seems "sugar-free", completely and totally may not be everyone's thing.  The cookies I made last week might not be sweet enough for some people... but I find after a workout, they're great!  So, along the same thread, I'm offering another sugar-free cookie, but one that tastes a little less obviously like the sugar's missing.  This cookie has the taste of a morning oatmeal.  And really it should, it uses oat flour! 

Oat flour is easy -- just grind the oats in your clean, dry food processor until they're ground enough to look like fine flour.  Pour it out, measure to make sure you have enough, and use as you would 'normal' wheat flour. I had considered skipping the step to soak the raisins, but I'm glad I didn't.  Next time I plan to soak them for longer, to really soften them up.

Again, if the recipe isn't sweet enough for you, consider adding more dried fruits: dried cherries or cranberries might work well.  Try it out.  There's nothing to lose but the sugar.

Oatmeal-Raisin Bizookies
Makes: about 18 cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsp coconut oil, solid
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins, soaked
1/4 cup raisin-soaking water, reserved

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the dry ingredients.Mix the applesauce, water, and raisins and stir into dry ingredients.  Loosely stir in the coconut oil, leaving some small chunks.

Scoop or roll the dough into 1-inch balls.  Place on lined baking sheet.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!
Source: Spoonful of Sugar Free.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chickpea Peanut Butter Cookies

In search of a workout snack, I came across these.  They're a no-sugar, no-grain, no-egg recipe, that is high protein and not sweet.  The recipe takes hardly any time to make, and clean up is easy.  The cookies are bite sized, which makes them portable, great for the long walks my group does.  If the no-sugar thing isn't your thing, you could easily sweeten it up with some liquid Stevia, or semi-sweet chocolate chips.  If you have a sweet tooth this is key because the cookies as written are not sweet at all.

Chickpea Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes: about 28 cookies

Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
Directions: 
Drain and wash chickpeas well. Make sure they are well-washed so that the cookie dough doesn’t taste like beans.
Add all the ingredients except chocolate into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Adjust liquid as needed. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Drop dough by Tablespoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 400F for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are nice and brown.

Enjoy!
Source: Spoonful of Sugar-free.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rosemary-Braised Turkey Cutlets

It's Turkey.  For supper.  And it's not even a holiday!  This recipe spoke to me as a little out of the ordinary and therefore worth experimenting with.  And I do mean experimenting with... I changed a few things.  I swapped out the couscous for quinoa, I swapped out Mandarin orange juice for lemon juice, and I adjusted the cooking times for these substitutions.  It ended up being an experiment to see if it would all come together, or end up being a big waste of food!!  In the end, I'm happy with how it turned out.

Wednesday evening, despite it being 35C here, not counting the humidex, I went walking with the friend I walked the 9-Run-Run with.  We did a little over an hour, give-or-take 6 kilometers or so.  It was a great walk, and a long-overdue catchup.  It was the highlight of my day!

Because I was so uplifted from my walk, I had time to come home and make up this delightful supper.  I'm not a big fan of the crazy-hot (like that day), but I have to admit, the sunshine is doing wonders for everybody's mood.  Happy beginning of summer, everyone!

Rosemary-Braised Turkey Cutlets
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, dinced
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
4 4-oz boneless, skinless turkey breast cutlets
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh Mandarin orange juice *I subbed in lemon juice
1 cup whole wheat couscous *I used quinoa
3 Mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented
12 oz broccoli florets

Directions:
In a large non-stick saute pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil on medium-high.  Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, stir in rosemary, and cover.  Cook, stirring once, until onion softens, about 2 minutes.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of turkey.  Increase heat to medium and push onion-rosemary mixture to sides of pan.  Add turkey and sear, turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side**.  Stir in broth, juice, and couscous (or quinoa) ad bring to a simmer.  Top with Mandarin oranges and broccoli, distributing evenly.  Cover and cook, undisturbed, until turkey is cooked through and broccoli is bright green and tender-crisp, about 6 minutes**.  Fluff couscous with a fork and serve immediately.

**Note, times may need to be adjusted depending on thickness of turkey.

Enjoy!
Source: Clean Eating Magazine, January/February 2012.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Roasted Salmon and Herbed Bean Salad

It's getting hot out.  It's getting close to being too hot to want eat anything warm.  So, one solution is to cook bulk early in the morning on a weekend, before it heats up, and then use that food for meals later in the week.  One example is this great 'salad'.  The recipe is designed for everything to be done at once, but really, nothing stops you from making the fish at a cooler time, and serving it warm or cool with this salad at dinner time.  The part I like also is that each part - beans, yogurt, pita, and fish, can be packed separately and taken to work without one part spoiling the other, so I have a great work lunch as well as a quick supper!

Roasted Salmon and Herbed Bean Salad
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:
4 4-oz boneless, skinless, salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick in centre)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 pinches kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint, divided
1/2 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 English cucumber, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups canned beans, drained and rinsed
4 whole-wheat pitas, warmed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450F.  Bake salmon on a lined baking sheet until cooked through and flakes easily when tested with a fork.  (Could be anywhere from 8 - 30 minutes, depending on fresh or frozen fish.)  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Prepare yogurt sauce:   In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, 1 Tbsp water, zest, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp mint, 1 pinch salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Set aside.

Prepare beans: In a separate medium bowl, combine parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber and beans.  In a small bowl, whisk together remaining lemon juice, olive oil, remaining salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over bean mixture and toss to combine.

Divide salmon, bean mixture, yogurt sauce, and pitas among serving plates.

Enjoy!
Source: Clean Eating Magazine, June 2012.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lemon Chip Cookies

Yup, that's right LEMON chips!
I was so excited to find these at the Bulk Barn the other day, after being pointed in that direction by a coworker and fellow baker.  I borrowed her idea, rushed right home, and made these: a combination of my stand-by chocolate chip cookie dough and the smell-so-good lemon baking chips.  The house smells so amazing it's worth heating up the kitchen.

I'll have to make them again, to verify the texture.  They came out a little differently than normal because I had to 50/50 the butter between salted and unsalted because it's what I had on hand.  I make the mistake of assuming I have all the cookie supplies I'll need at home because normally I do, and this time I got caught.

The other thing I did here that it doesn't specify in the original recipe, beyond swapping out the chips, is I left the dough in the fridge for 24 hours before baking, and used my small scoop to get more cookies out of the recipe.  Here's why: it makes the cookies sooo much better.  Don't believe me? Try it yourself, you'll see!


Lemon Chip Cookies
Makes: about 4 1/2 dozen

Ingredients:
1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups lemon baking chips


Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients except chips. Add slowly to wet ingredients.
Mix in baking chips.
Store in fridge for 12 - 36 hours.  Mine went in for 24.
 Before / After resting for 24 hours
Preheat oven to 375F.
Scoop  dough onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake in centre of oven one sheet at a time for 8 - 10 minutes.  I had to vary the time depending on which baking sheet I used.  Let cool on sheet 1 minute, then cool completely on a rack.

Enjoy!
Source: adapted from President's Choice Decadent cookies.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

I make my lunches for work in advance.  I plan it so I'll have something for work each day, without being stranded and stuck paying for lunch.  This is the normal routine.  But then, once in a while, something comes up and messes with that plan.  Today, this one saved my week.  Before you say 'hey, she's posted this before', let me explain. This recipe is similar to that one, but just different enough:  it's pureed, it doesn't have all the same vegetables, and it's spicier.  So, call it a variation on a great recipe?

It's a throw-together of things that are normally in my fridge or pantry: spices, broth, sweet potatoes, onion, apples.  I used the lentils I had in the pantry and it worked well.  I don't see really why one colour would be superior to another here, and am just curious enough to try others to find out.  I adapted this recipe quite heavily: made it for the slow cooker, adjusted the spices to taste, left out the butter and yogurt.  Do what you will -- it's hard to wreck this one.

Sweet Potato & Lentil Soup
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup lentils
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon paprika (or to taste)
4 cups vegetable broth
 
Directions:
Chop everything and place in a slow cooker. 
Cook on HIGH for 4 - 5 hours, or  LOW for 7 - 8 hours depending on the time you have to work with.
Puree softened mixture until desired consistency is reached. 
Divide into six servings.  Serve hot.

Enjoy!
Source: adapted from Allrecipes.com.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Strawberry and Cream Cake

I love birthdays.  There's something delightful about treating one of my friends to something sweet simply to celebrate one more year of their existence.  It's one day a year to say I'm glad to have you in my life.  I see it as win-win, because each of my friends has a different preference for birthday treat, so I get to have fun with it, too.

For the latest birthday cake, I had to the option to make a Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake, or a Strawberry Torte.  It's June, it's beautiful, and it's getting warmer, so clearly the winner here are the strawberries!  A light, airy cake with in-season fruit is going to win out over the dense, heavy, comfort-food cake, in June, right?

This one was fairly simple to make, and uses fresh, seasonal ingredients.  Plus, the trick of putting gelatin in the whipping cream means that it won't separate after being in the fridge over night.  The cake is dense enough to absorb the flavour of the berries and cream without turning into a soggy mess, yet light enough to still be appropriate for a sunny day cake.

The strangest part, Grace, from whom I "stole" the recipe, posted this on my birthday last year.  So it really was destined to be birthday cake, don't you think? Happy Birthday, nurse-man :)

Strawberry and Cream Cake
Makes: 1 8-inch cake

Ingredients:
CAKE
Unsalted butter, for greasing
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 + 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup whole milk

TOPPING
20 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 35%, cold
1 tsp unflavoured gelatin


Directions:


CAKE
Preheat oven to 350F.  Using a small pastry brush, grease bottom and sides of a 8-inch round cake tin.  Line bottom of tin with non-stick baking paper; butter paper and then flour bottom and sides of tin.

Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl.  Whisk to well combine, set aside.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs and yolks, one-at-a-time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce the stand mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the flour; beat until just combined (do not over-mix).

Pour batter into prepared cake tin.  Using a small offset spatula spread the batter evenly. Bake, rotating tin halfway through baking, until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in tin for 10 minutes.  Remove cake from tin and return to wire rack to cool completely.

TOPPING
In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.

Place two tablespoons cold water into a small-sized saucepan and sprinkle with gelatin; let soften 5 minutes.  Place saucepan over low heat, and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whisk the heavy cream and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until very soft peaks form.

Continue to whisk, and gradually add the gelatin mixture; beat until soft peaks form.

ASSEMBLY
Using a serrated knife, cut cake in half horizontally. Place bottom half, cut side up, on a cake stand or plate. Drizzle the juice from the berries onto the cake. Evenly arrange half of the strawberries over the bottom cake layer. Refrigerate the remaining berries. Top the strawberry layer with half of the whipped cream, leaving a 1-inch border. Place the top half of the cake, cut side down, onto the layer of strawberries and cream. Top the cake with the remaining whipped cream, leaving a 2.5-cm (1-inch) border. Refrigerate the cake, at least 1 hour (preferably up to 1 day). Just before serving top the cake with the remaining chilled strawberries. 

Enjoy! 
Source: Grace's Sweet Life (check out her photos! They really show off this cake's charm.) 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes

The weekend before this one was another cupcake weekend for me.  This time was for the Great Glebe Garage Sale.  In essence, it's a huge day-long garage sale that is a little bit of insanity.  The frenzy is a little insane!  But I went, had a blast, and got to experience one of Ottawa's unique attractions.

My contribution was a bunch of stuff from my basement to sell (if I didn't remember I had it, I won't miss it, right?) and these lovely cupcakes.  Because I was selling them, not creating a birthday treat for my friends, I decided to let Betty Crocker do the work on these ones.

I baked.
I decorated.



I sold.
And after the day was through, I slept!

Vanilla Cupcakes, part III

Yesterday my cupcakes made their official debut -- at the birthday party of a couple of friends of mine.  They're cute together, are even born two days apart!  The cupcakes were well received, and the party was a lot of fun.  Happy birthday guys!

 Gerbera Daisies!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes, part II

Yesterday I posted the first of my two attempts at vanilla cupcakes.  Yesterday I showed you the recipe I considered more risky, because I didn't know if it would turn out.  One, because the batter was really runny and I didn't know if it would firm up enough, and two because it was my first shot at making anything by that blogger, so she and I didn't have an established history I could fall back on to reassure my baking nerves.

Today's recipe is from Annie's Eats.  Annie's recipes always turn out for me.  They always are ones I'd like to share, and are always ones I enjoy enough to make several times.  And this go, is a repeater for sure.  Annie, you never let me down!

Annie's Eats Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes: 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup cake flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla and baking powder to mixture.  Combine flours in a bowl.  Alternatively add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. 
Fill lined cupcake tins with batter. 
Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before transferring to cooling rack.
Enjoy!

Source:  Annie's Eats

Monday, May 28, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes, part I

The end of May means I'm coming to the end of my last Wilton cake decorating class.  This one was Level 4, Advanced Gum Paste Flowers.  As usual, at the end we make our grand finale cake.  This time though, I was more in the mood for cupcakes.  Gerbera daisy cupcakes.  I found these cute cupcake liners at the dollar store that look like gingham picnic fabric, and planned out a light, flowery, fun, summer design.  Then I had to decide on the cupcake.

For the other courses, I've made chocolate cakes, and a spice cake.  This time, I wanted a lighter fare, more summer-like.  I decided on vanilla cupcakes.  Then the real work began: where to find the recipe.  I got it down to two: one new one from Glorious Treats, a new source for me, and a classic recipe from the Annie's Eats 2012 calendar.  Then I got stuck... which to try?  How to choose?

I gave in, and made both, ha ha!  Today I'm showing you the more risky one. This one, based on ingredients, I wasn't sure what to make of.  It came out as really runny batter, had a very short baking time, and had me a little nervous.  But, it all came out wonderfully, all light and fluffy, and left my house smelling all yummy and vanilla for the afternoon.  What more could a girl ask for?

Glorious Treats' Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes: 15 - 16 (I got 12)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk(or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice- add acid to the milk then set aside for 5 minutes before using)
 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.
 
In a medium bowl, add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt.  Stir together with whisk, and set aside.
 
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds.  Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds.  Add vanilla and oil, beat.
 
Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture.  Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk.  Beat until just combined.  Scrape down the side of the bowl.  
 
The batter will be thin.   
Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with paper liners.  Fill liners about 2/3 full. 
Bake cupcakes in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes. 
 
Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan (carefully) and finish cooling on a wire rack.
 
Enjoy!
Source: Glorious Treats.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coconut Chickpea Soup

In searching for new lunch ideas, I had stumbled across this recipe.  It sounded good, right up until I came across the requirement for curry.  I have a very iffy relationship with curry.  It's just not for me in strong amounts, but, in small amounts and the right balance (like butternut squash soup) I can see its benefit.  Either way, for the sake of trying it out, I was willing to do the curry thing.  Top that off with the fact that it was raved about in a reader comment in this month's Clean Eating Magazine, and I knew I had to try it.  It sounds like an odd combination at first, but it works.

Coconut Chickpea Soup
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 15-oz cans chickpeas (BPA-free cans & unsalted organic recommended by CEM)
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups roughly torn kale with stems removed
2 cloves garlic
15 oz low-fat coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
In a blender, combine everything and puree until completely smooth, about 30 seconds.  (If you're like me, you'll need to make a few batches.) Transfer to a medium pot and heat on medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Divide among serving bowls and serve with toasted whole-wheat pitas.

Enjoy!
Source: Clean Eating Magazine

Friday, May 25, 2012

Adzuki Bean Patties

This recipe started out as just a curiosity to me.  It's multi-coloured, multi-flavoured, multi-textured, and very sticky.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  It could go either way and be something I really enjoy, or something that makes me wish I had a dog to feed it to.  Luckily, it turned out well and is a meal I'm really enjoying, even as leftovers.

Adzuki Bean Patties
Makes: 8 - 10 patties

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked adzuki beans
1/2 cup wild rice
1 medium sweet potato or equivalent chunk of peeled squash
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 - 2 tsp ground mustard seed
1 Tbsp dry oregano
1 - 2 cloves of mashed garlic
sea salt to taste
brown rice or chickpea flour as needed to create a drier texture, optional

Directions:
Cook wild rice in 1 cup of water.  Add rinsed beans when water begins to boil and cook until rice is tender (about 15 minutes).  While rice is cooking, wash and cut sweet potato into chunks and then add on top of rice and beans halfway through cooking.

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet, then add the cumin, coriander, oregano, garlic, and onion.  Saute until the onion is tender but not browned.  Set aside and wait for rice/beans to be done.

When the rice mixture is done, let it cool slightly then add the onion and spice mixture.  Mash all together and add ground mustard seed, pepper, salt, and flour if necessary.

Cook as desired.  I did them in a frying pan the same as the salmon patties.

Enjoy!
 Source: Rachel Hewitt, RHN.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Coconut Bread

I'm enjoying the long weekend by rediscovering semi-forgotten joys.  I spent the past hour eying all the beautiful creations on Ravelry, and the past few days finishing up the miscellaneous garden chores I get to forget all winter.  I bought these two hanging baskets for the front of my place that are just beautiful.  And in a short while I'll get to replace the tulips out there with the summer flowers.  Last year I planted begonias, this year I'm not sure yet.  Any ideas?

My whole house smells like coconut.  Coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flour...  This bread is light and mildly sweet, reminiscent of a coconut biscotti, but minus the crunch.  The heat kicked in this weekend, and had I not baked this bread at a freakishly early hour this morning, I'd probably have put it on the back-burner.  But now I've got bread and coconut smell, and a beautiful, sunny day to enjoy.

This bread's tasty on its own, or nice with a little bit of coconut oil or almond butter if that's your thing.  Either way, if you're a coconut fan, this is one recipe that'll surely hit the spot.

Coconut Bread
Makes: 1 loaf

Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour (I substituted brown rice flour instead of battling the long weekend lineups at the grocery store)
1/2 cup full cream can of coconut milk (about half the can, using only the creamy part on top)
5 eggs
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
Stevia, to taste

Directions:
Blend together the eggs, coconut milk, stevia, and salt.  Add the flours and baking powder, mixing until you don't see any lumps.  Pour into loaf pan greased with the coconut oil and bake at 350F for 40 minutes.  The top of the loaf should be firm and a light golden colour.

Enjoy a little coconut sunshine!
 Source: The Candida Diet website.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chicken Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

This recipe's a repeat.  Well, at least for me it's a repeat.  I was so excited to see it in this month's Clean Eating Magazine, that I rushed right out to get the ingredients to put it together.  Thing is, between buying the ingredients and trying to make the recipe, I misplaced my magazine.  So the first time I made the recipe, I had to wing it.  I used what I'd bought best-guessing the how-to on previous experiences I've had making beef shepherd's pie.  It actually turned out quite well, and I got really excited to make it again, as CEM intended.  I've got to say, both times, I was extremely happy with the results.  This is one of my new favourite recipes, hands down.

The great thing is that the whole thing won't go to waste if you're missing an ingredient -- play around.  Pick different spices, try it with different mustards, try ground chicken, try different veggie combinations... really the possibilities are endless.  I sincerely encourage you to try this one; you'll love it!

Chicken Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
Makes: 4 2-cup servings

Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
sea salt & ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 Tbsp flour (whole wheat, or alternative)
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen peas

Directions:
 Preheat oven to 350F.
Boil sweet potatoes until fork-tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and mash, mixing in Greek yogurt, and sea salt and pepper to taste.  Mash until smooth and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil, then onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.  Add cubed chicken breast and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, until golden brown.  Add flour and marjoram and stir to coat.  Add chicken broth and Dijon mustard and bring to a simmer.  Cook, stirring frequently for 1 - 2 minutes until sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in carrots and peas.

Spoon mixture into a 9-inch pie dish, spreading evenly over the bottom.  Spread sweet potato mixture over the top, smoothing with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until filling is bubbly and top is golden brown.

Enjoy!

Source: Clean Eating Magazine, June 2012.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Celebrating 100 Posts!

This is an occasion to mark! I'm today writing my 100th blog post.  I'm excited for that. I don't really think in August when I started that I really expected to find this many recipes to share.  I didn't think I knew 100 recipes, or at least, not 100 different ones!  I'm enjoying the process and still having fun experimenting in the kitchen, and that's what counts, right?

Tonight, instead of sharing a fresh, new recipe, I'm sharing a picture of a little treat I made recently for my nurse man.  One of the weeks after we'd started dating, I had been looking for an idea for my Wilton cake decorating class 'grand finale' cake.  It's the one where we put all the skills we've learned to good use in a looks-good, smells-good, almost too pretty to eat cake.  I was stumped.  I couldn't think of what to make that seemed good enough.  In a joking way, he'd suggested I make an igloo, (because at that time it was cold out,) and a penguin to go with it.  And originally I'd laughed and shrugged it off as an impossibility and more-or-less forgot about it.  But the seed of idea had been planted.

Then, one day not too long ago, the idea came back to me.  When I'd made chocolate cake, either for Dad's birthday or one of my cake courses (I can't remember now) I'd had too much batter and ended up making a mini-cake in a spring-form 4-inch pan.  So, I took that little, frozen mini cake and thawed it, iced it with buttercream tinted with mint, covered it in fondant and made myself a penguin.  Then because he looked lonely, I made him a buddy to share his itty-bitty igloo.

So today, for my 100th blog post, I'm sharing with you the penguins & igloo I made for my nurse man.

Enjoy!
 (In case you were wondering, the cake has been eaten but the penguins remain.  They're just too cute to eat!)

Happy Victoria Day weekend!