Monday, November 28, 2011

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars


These bars are just like bites of pumpkin pie! The oats add a nice chewy texture and the peanut butter makes them super moist. They are so quick and easy to make, and if you use wheat-free oats then they are also naturally gluten free and vegan!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp. white sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line an 8x8" or 9x9" baking pan with aluminum foil, then spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix by hand until everything is moistened. Evenly spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-27 minutes, or until the bars are no longer jiggly. They may still be a bit moist when you take them out of oven, but they will set up more as they cool.

Cool the bars on a wire rack for about half an hour and then chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before cutting the bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, or in the freezer for longer storage.


*Recipe adapted from Love Veggies and Yoga

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Movember Cupcakes and DIY Cupcake Toppers


Since I personally can't grow a very good moustache to support the Movember cause, I made these Movember cupcakes instead! If you don't know, Movember is a movement where the goal is to raise awareness about men's prostate health and funds for Prostate Cancer Research by growing a moustache and collecting donations for the month of November.

The Cupcakes

The cupcakes were made from a Devil's Food Cake chocolate box mix that I enhanced by using buttermilk instead of milk or water and adding 1 tsp. each of vanilla extract and cinnamon. I iced them with a 1M star tip using this vanilla buttercream that I dyed with Wilton Royal Blue gel colour paste:

1 cup softened unsalted butter
2 cups icing sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, cream all ingredients together with an electric mixer until smooth.

DIY Cupcake Toppers

I topped these cupcakes with homemade moustache cupcake toppers! They were super quick, easy, and cheap to make, and you can definitely use this technique to create whatever kind of cupcake toppers you would like. This is a great idea for any kind of themed cupcakes! Personalized toppers are great for holidays, birthdays, baby showers, weddings, bridal showers, etc., and they can make plain cupcakes look really unique.

All you need is the image you would like to use, scissors, toothpicks, and tape.

For my Movember cupcakes I printed off multiple images of a moustache silhouette and cut them out.
 Then I used a thin strip of tape to secure a toothpick onto the back of the moustache. If you want double-sided toppers you can use double sided tape and two copies of the image for each topper. You could also use coloured toothpicks if desired.
So simple! 
 Insert the finished product into your decorated cupcake! I ended up pushing the toothpick all the way into the cupcake so that just the moustache was sitting on top of the icing.

*By Brooke McMillan

Monday, November 21, 2011

Date and Almond Granola


Homemade granola is one of my favourite comfort foods. I love the crunch of the almonds paired with the sweet, chewy chunks of dates in this recipe.

Directions:

5 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger 
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. flax seeds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup almond butter
1 and 1/2 cups chopped almonds
1 and 1/2 cups chopped dates


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and flax seeds.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, applesauce, honey, almond extract, and almond butter until thoroughly combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix well until all of the oats are moistened. Spread out on to the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. 

Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and turn the granola over carefully using a wide spatula. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes, then remove and turn the granola again. This ensures that the granola cooks evenly and that the edges don't burn. At this point, stir in the chopped almonds and dates until they are evenly distributed.

Return the granola to the oven for another 20 minutes, or until crisp and golden. The granola will get crispier as it cools, so if it isn't as crispy as you'd like when you first take it out of the oven, don't worry! Don't keep it in the oven too much longer because it will burn.

Cool completely on the baking sheet. Once the granola has cooled, break it up into chunks and store in an airtight container. Serve with milk, yogurt, or eat on its own.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars


Enjoy the gooey, crunchy sweetness of pecan pie with the added decadence of chocolate in this bar recipe! They were a big hit with my soccer team this weekend!

Shortbread Crust Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar

Pecan Pie Filling Ingredients:

3 large eggs
3/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 and 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9"x13" baking pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.

For the crust, combine the flour, butter, and brown sugar in a large bowl with a pastry blender or two butter knives until it is crumbly and no large chunks of butter remain. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

For the filling, combine the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat with a wire whisk until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans. Pour evenly over the baked crust and return to the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is browned and the pecan pie layer is set.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 20-30 minutes. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or until the bars have completely cooled before cutting into small squares. Don't try to cut the bars before they have cooled because they are very gooey and sticky. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.



*Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vegetable Pasta with Creamy Basil Sauce

This is a light and healthy pasta dish that is vegetarian and vegan friendly! The creamy basil sauce is made from a silken tofu base so it packs a lot of protein into this dish and gives the sauce a thick, creamy texture without using any actual cream. It's almost like a tangier alfredo sauce and is great to pair with fresh vegetables. You can find Mori-nu silken tofu in small boxes in the vegetarian or natural foods section of your grocery store, not in the refrigerated section like other types of tofu. 

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped broccoli florets and stems
1 small or 1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 small zucchini, cut into thin strips
2 servings whole wheat spaghetti or spaghettini, cooked

Tofu Basil Cream Sauce:

1/2 package Mori-nu silken lite firm tofu, drained of excess water
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. apple or orange juice
2 Tbsp. almond milk (or cow's milk)
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

Cook the pasta until it is al dente, according to the package directions. Steam the vegetables or saute them in a small amount of oil and water over medium heat until cooked and tender.

Make the basil tofu cream sauce by placing all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blending until smooth.

Add the prepared sauce to the vegetables and heat on low for an additional 3-5 minutes. Pour the vegetables and sauce over the prepared pasta noodles and serve immediately. Serves 2.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie


I made this giant chocolate chip cookie pie for my best friend's 23rd birthday last week! He happens to be celiac (meaning he is allergic to gluten and can't eat wheat) so I had to try making my very first gluten-free cake! Granted, this technically isn't so much a cake as it is a giant chocolate chip cookie with icing on top - but it was delicious nonetheless. I know most of you will probably be shocked and possibly grossed out when you read the ingredients list and discover that there are beans in this cake... but I promise you can't taste them at all! Most gluten-free baking flours are a mix of bean-based flours (ex. chickpea flour), which are simply dried beans that have been ground into a fine powder, so it's not that weird when it comes to gluten-free baking. I didn't (and still haven't) told my friend about this secret ingredient in his cake, and he could not tell at all that I had sneakily fed him a cake made out of beans hehe.. and he happens to be a pretty picky eater. It really does taste like a gooey chocolate chip cookie! I guess the fact that it is covered in peanut butter buttercream icing might have also helped as well :P. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is looking for a celiac friendly recipe or even just for something different to try out! If you omit the peanut butter buttercream and use dairy-free chocolate chips, the chocolate chip cookie pie is also vegan.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie Ingredients:

1/2 cup gluten-free quick oats - Regular oats may be cross-contaminated in food processing facilities and contain gluten, so it is important to use oats that clearly state that they are celiac friendly, gluten-free, or non-contaminated on the package! You can usually find them in the gluten-free section of your grocery store, specialty health stores, or Bulk Barn.
2 Tbsp. applesauce
1 can white beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

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

Place all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor or high power blender. Blend very well, for about 3-5 minutes, until very thoroughly combined. There should be no lumps or large flakes of oats left. Mix in the chocolate chips, and pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cake is cooked through. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow the cake to stand at least 15 minutes before running a butter knife around the edge and removing it from the pan. You can also leave it in the pan and put the icing right on top. If icing with peanut butter buttercream, allow the cake to cool completely before icing.

*Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie


Peanut Butter Buttercream Ingredients:

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. icing sugar
Pinch of salt, to taste

Directions:

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add in the icing sugar and continue to mix until combined. Add salt to taste. Spread over the cooled chocolate chip cookie pie.