Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Indoor S'more Treats


This is a super easy and fast recipe to throw together if you're looking for a quick dessert or need to make something for a bake sale! They taste just like s'mores - with no campfire required :)

Ingredients:


10 cups Golden Grahams cereal (or break up graham crackers into small chunks)
8 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups chocolate chips
2/3 cup butter or margarine
2 tsp. vanilla extract


Directions:

Measure cereal into a very large bowl (you could also divide this between two large bowls if you don't have one extra large bowl). In a saucepan, heat 6 cups of the marshmallows with the chocolate chips and butter over low heat, stirring frequently until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the marshmallow mixture over the cereal. Quickly toss with a large spoon or spatula until the cereal is completely coated. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of marshmallows until evenly combined.

Press the mixture into a greased 9"x11" baking pan or do what I did and line muffin cups with paper liners and fill each cup with a ball of the mixture. Refrigerate for 10 minutes until firm enough to cut into bars or until the individual cups are firm. Store in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent melting.

This recipe makes about 28 individual muffin cup portions or 24 bars - so feel free to halve it if you don't need as much.


*Recipe from General Mills (side of the Golden Grahams cereal box)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Blondies


Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, plus extra to sprinkle on top of the bars
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8" or 9x9" baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, allowing it to come up and overlap the pan on two sides.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and then set aside. In a separate, large bowl, stir together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well blended.

Slowly beat the flour and salt mixture into the wet ingredients until just blended. Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and evenly spread it smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle extra coconut on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until set in the centre but still soft. Do not overbake or you will burn the coconut on top. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then lift out of the pan and cut the into bars. To make slicing easier you can chill the bars in the fridge or freezer to firm them up prior to cutting.


*Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

Monday, March 21, 2011

Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf


Ingredients:

1 cup dry green lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
2 large eggs or 3 Tbsp. ground flax seed mixed with 1/2 cup warm water - This is an egg substitute to make this recipe vegan, but if you aren't vegan you could use two large eggs instead
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sweet onion, diced
1 celery stalk or green onion, chopped finely
1 large carrot, grated
254g Cremini mushrooms, chopped finely
1/3 of an apple, peeled and grated (makes 1/3 cup grated apple)
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
Black pepper, to taste
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. ground caraway
1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs, homemade or storebought

Sweet Apple Maple Glaze Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. apple butter or apple sauce

Directions:

Step 1 - Cook the lentils: In a medium-sized pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the lentils, bring back up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are tender. Be sure to stir the lentils frequently so that they do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the lentils are cooked, remove from the head and set aside to cool.

Step 2 - Toast the walnuts: Toast the chopped walnuts in a skillet over medium heat until they are lightly browned and fragrant. You could also toast them in a 350 degree F oven for about 6 minutes. Keep an eye on them and stir frequently so that they do not burn. Set aside to cool.

Step 3 - Make the flax egg: Mix 3 Tbsp. of ground flax seed with 1/3 cup warm water and stir well to combine. Set aside for at least 5-10 minutes so it can gel up. *Omit this step if you are using a regular egg.

Step 4 - Prepare the vegetable mixture: In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion and minced garlic for about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn them. After the onions are tender, add the carrot and mushrooms and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the grated apple, raisins, and chopped walnuts and cook for another couple minutes. Add the thyme, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 5 - Process the lentils: Once the lentils are cooled, place about 75% of them into a food processor and process them until mostly smooth. Scoop the processed lentils in a large bowl and mix with the remaining 25% of the whole lentils.

Step 6 - Make the breadcrumbs: To make your own breadcrumbs, lightly toast 2 slices of bread, tear them into smaller pieces, and pulse in a food processor until they break down into small breadcrumbs. Set aside. You could also use storebought bread crumbs instead of making your own.

Step 7 - Mix everything together: Stir together the breadcrumbs, egg, vegetable mixture until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Step 8 - Preparing the glaze and cooking: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a loaf pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the edges by about 2 inches. In a small bowl, combine all the glaze ingredients. Dump the lentil mixture into the loaf pan and spread out with a spoon. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan with your hands. Spread the glaze evenly over the loaf and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. 



Step 9 - Serve!: Once cooked, cool the loaf for approx. 10-15 minutes, then slice and serve. Makes about 8 thick slices.


*Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pistachio Cookies

These cookies are my second green dessert recipe that I made to celebrate St. Patrick's Day! They are super easy to make and require very few ingredients. The end result is a soft, melt-in-your-mouth cookie that is packed with unique pistachio flavour from both the pudding mix and the crunchy chopped pistachio nuts sprinkled on top!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 pkg. Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix (4 serving size)
1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
4 Tbsp. chocolate chips
3-4 Tbsp. shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped


Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and pudding mixture with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in the flour, adding about 1/4 cup at a time. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Form dough into balls and place on cookie sheets. Gently flatten the balls with your palm - these will not spread very much while baking so however much you flatten them is what the baked cookie will turn out like. Sprinkle the finely chopped pistachios on top of each cookie, and gently press them into the dough so they stick on.

Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes, until the bottoms are light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.


*Recipe adapted from Adventures of a Blonde Baker

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CFB Mac and Cheese Affair Cupcakes


I made these cupcakes for the dessert table at the 3rd annual U of A Campus Food Bank Mac and Cheese Affair fundraiser! The event was awesome and so well organized - I'm happy to have made this small contribution. The dessert table theme was chocolate or vanilla cupcakes with yellow icing and an assortment of cookies, so I decided on a french vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream (and I also made these Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal Cookies). I was super busy on that day and didn't have time to make everything from scratch, so I took a shortcut and used a boxed cake mix with some modifications. This recipe is a great way to enhance a cake mix by making your cake or cupcakes super moist and giving them a more homemade taste. Because - let's face it - you don't always have the time or the desire to make everything from scratch!

Ingredients:

1 box white or french vanilla cake mix
1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk then just mix together 1 Tbsp. vinegar with enough regular milk to make 1 cup in total, then let sit for approx. 10 minutes before using)
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract 
4 eggs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
Combine the cake mix, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and almond extract (if using) in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until moistened, about 30 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, until the batter is well-mixed. Increase speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer.
Pour or scoop the batter into the paper liners until they are 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack. Cool completely before icing.


You could also take another shortcut and just use canned icing instead of making your own buttercream icing, but this is such an easy recipe to make that it's worth doing from scratch! If you do opt for store-bought icing then mix in about 1 or 1/2 tsp. of vanilla or almond extract before decorating your cupcakes to give it some extra flavour.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing Recipe

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
3 and 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy (about two minutes). Add one cup of icing sugar, and continue beating until well incorporated into the mix. Repeat with the remaining icing sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla, and continue beating until smooth. Add food colouring if desired and mix until combined. Spread out or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. 


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Peanut Butter Syrup


I made these for a pancake breakfast potluck and forgot to take some good pictures of them before I left the house! These are the only ones of the pancakes that I managed to get while I was at the party - it is on the top right of the plate of the other delicious pancakes/crepes that I ate that morning! 

I will definitely be making these again because they are soo amazing - and I won't forget to take pictures to update this post with! The peanut butter maple syrup is so so good I could drink it with a straw, and it pairs perfectly with the banana and chocolate pancakes. Make these today.. you won't be disappointed!

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 and 1/2 cup buttermilk - 
Or if you don't have buttermilk: combine 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. vinegar  with enough regular milk to make 1 and 1/2 cups; then let sit for 10 min. before using
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large egg
2 small-med ripe bananas
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (or reg. chips roughly chopped) tossed with 2 tsp. flour
Cooking spray or butter for pan/griddle

Peanut Butter Syrup:
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Directions:

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk together. In a separate bowl combine buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla and whisk well. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until moistened and combined. Place bananas in a bowl and roughly mash with a fork. Fold into the batter. Add the chocolate chips that have been tossed with flour and stir.

For syrup, heat peanut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add maple syrup and gently whisk to combine. Heat in the microwave for another 30 seconds, whisk, and then set aside.

Heat a nonstick griddle or skillet to medium heat. Coat pan with little butter and then pour on pancake batter. Use 1/4 cup batter for large pancakes (4-6") and 2 Tbsp. batter for kid-sized ones (2-3"). Wait until bubbles form and edges are set and then flip.

Reheat syrup if necessary and pour over warm pancakes.

Yield: Approx. 28-30 pancakes (using 2 Tbsp. batter measure) OR 14-15 pancakes (using 1/4 cup batter measure)

*Recipe adapted from Crepes of Wrath

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baked Sweet Potatoes


This is one of the most easy and yummy side dishes that I make all the time. The spices and agave bring out the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes so well that it's almost like you're eating dessert!

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1-2 Tbsp. agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Directions: 

Peel and cut sweet potato into about 1" cubes. Place in a baking dish and toss with the remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned and fork tender. This serves 2-4 people as a side dish, depending on the size of the sweet potato.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Monday, March 7, 2011

Low-Fat Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins


Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 apple cinnamon flavoured instant oatmeal packets
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup egg white
3 Tbsp. natural applesauce
1 and 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk or skim milk


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a muffin tin or fill with paper liners. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, instant oatmeal packets, and sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, egg whites, applesauce, and milk. Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing with an electric mixer until just combined. Do not over-mix or you will have tough, rubbery muffins.

Fill the prepared muffin cups about 3/4 full with batter. This recipe yields enough batter for approx. 14 muffins. 

Bake for about 14-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool on a wire rack.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mushroom Barley Casserole

 
 

Barley is a great alternative to rice and a great way to include more whole grains and fibre into your diet, but unfortunately it is often neglected! This recipe is a simple way to incorporate barley into a meal as either a side dish or main dish. The onion and toasted almonds make it really flavourful and the slow baking in the oven makes it so creamy and rich - I know it's not the prettiest thing in the world, but it tastes amazing!

Ingredients:

1 cup pot barley
1 small sweet onion or 1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 and 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms, diced
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 package dry onion soup mix
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley or 2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
3 and 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a frying pan over medium heat, toast the almonds until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside.

Saute the barley and onion in butter/margarine for in a frying pan over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion is tender. Transfer to a large bowl stir in the mushrooms, almonds, soup mix, and parsley. Evenly pour into an ungreased 2 qt. baking dish. Add 3 and 1/2 cups of broth.

Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the barley is tender. Check halfway through baking time, adding more broth if it is too dry. Once out of the oven, let the casserole sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. This recipe yields 8-10 servings.


*Recipe adapted from Taste of Home magazine

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Basketball Cake


I made this 3-D basketball cake for my good friend Ben's birthday party today! It was made by using the Wilton Sports Ball Cake Pan, which can be found at Michaels or any other craft/party supply store. The cake was chocolate and had chocolate icing in between the two halves of the sphere. I covered it with homemade vanilla buttercream that I tinted orange using Wilton Gel Pastes and used thin strips of black licorice to make the stripes of the ball. I'm really happy with how this cake turned out and I would definitely recommend purchasing the Wilton Sports Ball Cake Pan set! Other sports balls that you cake make with it include: soccer, baseball, volleyball, tennis, bowling, golf, and pretty much any other globe-shaped thing you can think of. It's a great baking tool to have around if you do a lot of theme parties!


The Process


The two parts of the cake - done baking after approx. 40 minutes

Cooled and levelled so they are flat

The bottom layer iced with chocolate icing

Putting the two halves together

All iced and decorated!

The finished product!




The inside of the finished cake

Me and Ben with his birthday cake!