Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Banana Cake with Caramel Coconut Pecan Frosting


This such a delicious, unique, an decadent-looking coffee cake. The caramel coconut pecan frosting is amazing without being overly sweet, and it adds a nice crunchy texture to the moist banana cake. I love the way the caramel drizzles down the sides of the cake and pools around the bottom. 

Banana Cake Ingredients:

1 and 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large, ripe bananas
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg

Caramel Coconut Pecan Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8x8" or 9x9" cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, add the banana, sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and egg, and beat with an electric mixer until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a butter knife around the side of the pan to help release the cake. Gently flip the cake out of the pan onto a plate, then flip once more so the flat side of the cake is on the bottom of the serving plate. 

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water, butter, pecans, and coconut over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and then heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the warm frosting over the banana cake and spread evenly over the top. Slice and serve.

*Note: I doubled this recipe and made 2 round cakes. If you want a 2 layer cake then do the same. Just be sure to level the bottom cake so it is flat, pour the frosting over, then place the second cake on top, and pour the rest of the frosting over the top.


*Recipe adapted from For The Love of Cooking

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Honey Cinnamon Pecan Puffed Wheat Squares


These sticky and sweet squares are the perfect lunchbox or afterschool snack for all the kids who are returning to school in the next couple of weeks! The addition of toasted pecans really give these puffed wheat squares a delicious and unique flavour and texture.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup honey
2 and 1/2 cups mini marshmallows or 24 regular marshmallows
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. cinnamon
6 cups puffed wheat
1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

Directions:

Roughly chop the pecans and toast them in a skillet over medium heat for 6-7 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Be sure to watch them carefully so that they don't burn! If you do happen to burn them, throw them out and start over with a fresh batch of nuts, otherwise they will ruin the taste of your squares.

In a large bowl, combine the puffed wheat, cinnamon, and toasted pecans.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the margarine, honey, and marshmallows together. Once they have melted completely, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the melted marshmallow mixture over the puffed wheat and gently stir with a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon until everything is evenly coated. Be careful and don't use your hands to mix because the marshmallow mixture is very hot. Press the coated puffed wheat into a greased 8x8" or 9x9" square pan if you want thick bars, or into an 8x11" or 9x12" rectangular pan for thinner bars. You can grease your pan with margarine or a non-stick cooking spray.

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or until the bars have hardened. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Red Pepper Broccoli and White Bean Soup


This simple, Asian-inspired soup is the perfect light, summer lunch.  

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 red bell bepper, chopped or thinly sliced
3 cups broccoli florets
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce or Bragg's Amino Acids
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups (540 mL can) white kidney beans

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, then saute the garlic for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli, red pepper, vegetable stock, water, soy sauce/Bragg's, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. 

Transfer half of the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth (be careful with the hot liquid!). Pour the blended soup back into the pot and add the white beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes, then serve.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Saskatoon Bran Muffins



I made these muffins today using saskatoon berries I picked from the saskatoon bush in my backyard. Saskatoons are a native berry to the Canadian Prairies, British Columbia, and Northern Canada and U.S. They are kind of like a blueberry and they are delicious in baked goods, made into jam, or just to snack on straight off the bush! 

Ingredients:

1 and ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 and ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 can sliced peaches
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil or applesauce
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups Bran Flakes cereal
½ heaping cup saskatoon berries

Directions:

Preheat the  oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt until combined.

Drain the canned peaches, but reserve 1/3 cup of the juice/syrup from the can. Pour the peaches and the 1/3 cup of juice into a blender or food processor and puree.

In a large bowl, whisk the peach puree with the brown sugar, eggs, vegetable oil or applesauce, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula, gently stir the Bran Flakes into the wet mixture. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Lightly coat the saskatoons with a small amount of flour. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the batter once they are in the muffin tins. Fold the saskatoons into the batter. Evenly fill the prepared muffin tin with batter. These muffins won't rise very much during baking so you can fill them all the way to the top.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Let cool slightly on a wire rack and enjoy warm. 


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes with Sunshine Sauce


These pancakes are a banana and cinnamon lover's dream! They are very dense, moist, and chewy - almost like a piece of banana bread. The addition of oat bran or quick oats give the pancakes a great texture, not to mention lots of added fibre. The sunshine sauce is the perfect creamy and sweet pancake topping that can also be used as a spread for toast, a fruit dip, or a snack on it's own if you double the recipe.

Banana Cinnamon Pancake Ingredients:

1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. oat bran or quick oats
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 large banana, mashed
1/4 cup water, milk, or almond milk
Fresh fruit


Sunshine Sauce Ingredients:

1/2 large banana, mashed
2 tsp. sunflower seed butter - Find this next to the peanut butter in most grocery stores - it's different but soo delicious! If you don't have any you can substitute with peanut butter or any other nut butter
2 Tbsp. applesauce




Directions:



In a bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, cinnamon, and baking powder. Add in the mashed banana and water/milk and stir to combine. 

Prepare the sunshine sauce by mixing together all the ingredients in a small microwave-safe bowl and then microwave for 60 seconds. Set aside.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray or grease with margarine. Drop three equal size spoonfuls of batter onto the skillet and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side.

Top with the prepared sunshine sauce and fresh fruit of your choice. Makes 3 pancakes; serves 1.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Vanilla Tofu Protein Shake


The additon of silken tofu in this protein shake makes it super thick and creamy, as well as adding even more protein!

Ingredients:

1/2-2/3 cup vanilla almond milk or regular milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder of your choice
1 serving silken tofu (1/4 of the pkg.)
2 tsp. honey or agave
pinch cinnamon
3-4 large ice cubes

Optional add-ins: 
Chocolate milk instead of white milk
Peanut butter or other nut butters
Fresh or frozen berries
Fresh or frozen banana chunks

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and transfer to a large glass. Chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes then enjoy.



*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wood Buffalo Country Fair 2011

This post is a little bit late because the Wood Buffalo Country Fair actually took place from August 5-7th, but better late than never right? This year the Country Fair was held in conjunction with Interplay and it featured some really impressive local talent. The only thing I would have liked to see would be more exhibitors and more competition, especially in the culinary division. If you like baking, gardening or any kind of crafting then you should definitely consider entering next year! It's free to enter, there are youth and adult divisions, and there are cash prizes for winning ribbons. Check out the website at www.wbcountryfair.org for more information. 

This year I entered my baking in 3 separate culinary categories. You can read about what I entered in last year's Country Fair in this post.

 My 2011 entries

In the brownie category I entered my vegan fudge brownies...

They got first place!


In the chocolate chip cookie category I entered my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe...


These got second place. I was kind of disappointed I didn't have 1st place chocolate chip cookies.. but I guess now I'll have something to improve on for next year!

Lastly, in the confectionary category I entered my almond cookie dough balls...


These also won first place! Funny how my two vegan and "healthier" treats were the ones that took home the 1st place ribbons :P

When all was said and done I walked away with $40.00 in prize money! Not bad :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Homemade Pico de Gallo (salsa)


I am obsessed with salsa and taco chips.. I could easily live off the stuff! Nothing beats fresh pico de gallo, and this recipe is so quick and easy you have no excuse not to try making your own. I made mine using fresh tomatoes from our garden and it was amazing! The only thing better than salsa is guacamole, which you can easily turn this into by mixing in a couple mashed avocados.

Ingredients:

5 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 small white onion, diced
1/2 cup green or red bell pepper, diced
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tsp. white vinegar
Salt, to taste

The huge bowl of fresh tomatoes I picked from my garden! I don't even really like tomatoes (except in salsa) but these are amazing!

Directions:

Dice the tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, and place them in a large bowl. Mince the garlic, finely dice the Jalepeno, and finely chop the cilantro; add these into the bowl. Add the lemon juice and vinegar, and stir to combine the ingredients. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving so the flavours have a chance to develop.

Note: This pico de gallo isn't too spicy but the Jalapeno gives it a nice little kick. If you like really spicy salsa then add in the Jalapeno seeds as well. If you don't like spicy salsa at all then make sure you leave the seeds out and start off by adding in half of the Jalapeno, then adjust it to your taste.

Serve with lots of tortilla chips! Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Flourless Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Cookies





I always wondered if flourless cookies would work so I decided to test the recipe on the labels of all the Kraft Peanut Butter jars, and add my own twist to it! You definitely notice a little something different about these cookies because they are very flat, dense, and crispy rather than thick and chewy, but you can't go wrong with the peanut butter and Nutella combination! While I do prefer cookies that have flour, these are great if you happen to run out of flour, if you have a gluten intolerance, or if you just want to try something different. I really like the "swirl" effect (it made some of the cookies look like a yin yang symbol!) and I'll definitely be trying it again with some other cookie recipes. 

Ingredients:

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar - You can use all white sugar if you don't have any brown
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy works fine)
1/4 cup Nutella - If you don't have any Nutella just use all PB!
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl stir together the white sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until combined. Divide this mixture evenly between two separate bowls. Add the peanut butter to one bowl and the Nutella to the other bowl and stir to mix. 

The peanut butter cookie dough bowl and the Nutella cookie dough bowl

Moisten your hands and pinch off about 1 Tbsp. of peanut butter cookie dough, roll into a ball, then pinch off 1 Tbsp. of Nutella cookie dough and mold it onto the peanut butter cookie dough ball and roll until they are one cohesive dough ball.  They don't have to be perfect or have equal amounts of both batters! 


The batters will be a lot stickier than regular cookie dough because they have no flour, but just keep moistening your hands to make rolling easier, or you could also refrigerate them for 20-30 minutes so they are easier to work with. This recipe should yield about 12-15 cookies.

Place the cookie dough balls on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 9-11 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool. They may look underdone when you first take them out of the oven but don't worry, they will continue to cook and firm up as they cool. 

Because these cookies are so thin and crumbly, I think they would be perfect crumbled on top of ice cream or onto an iced cake as a garnish!

Super thin cookies! 

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Balls


These bite-sized treats are fudgey, chewy, and decadent. They are quick and easy to make when you're craving chocolate! 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (about 6-7 large dates)
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp. mini chocolate or carob chips

Directions:

In a food processor or high power blender, pulse the cashews into a fine powder. Add in the pitted dates and pulse again until the mixture is well combined.

 Add in the cocoa powder and vanilla and continue to process until the dough comes together in a large chunk. Remove the ball of dough from the processor and transfer to a bowl or the countertop. 

Try to ignore the fact that it will look like a big log of you know what at this point haha.. it will be delicious I promise!

Mix the chocolate chips into the dough by hand until evenly distributed. Pinch off small pieces of the dough and roll into 1-2" balls. If the dough is too sticky to work with, try moistening your hands with water or stick the dough in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. This recipe makes about 10 bite-sized balls, but you can make more or less depending on how big you want them. Place the balls in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer.


*Recipe adapted from Love Veggies and Yoga

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wholesome Crisp Granola


This crunchy, crispy, and satisfying granola is packed full of flavour and wholesome ingredients that will give you lasting energy. The addition of puffed wheat gives it a great texture - and caused my little brother to declare this a healthy version of Sugar Crisp cereal! It's delicious as a breakfast or snack, over yogurt, milk, oatmeal, with fruit, or on its own.

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups puffed wheat
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 Tbsp. ground flax
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter, smooth or chunky
3 Tbsp. brown rice syrup - If you don't have brown rice syrup on hand you can substitute it with pure maple syrup or more honey
1/4 cup honey
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, mix together the puffed wheat, oats, cranberries, sunflower seeds, pepitas, cinnamon, and salt. In a small saucepan, combine the almond butter, brown rice syrup, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla over medium heat until the mixture has melted together and thinned.

Remove the liquid mixture from the heat and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix will with a large spoon or rubber spatula until everything is evenly coated. This may take 5-7 minutes of stirring - don't use your hands because the liquid mixture will be very hot! Evenly spread the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Stir the granola with a large spoon or turner every 5 minutes so that it bakes evenly.

Allow the granola to cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack. It will continue to crisp up as it cools. Store in an airtight container on the countertop or in the refrigerator. 


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan