Sunday, January 29, 2012

Flourless Peanut Chocolate Cookies

These naturally gluten-free peanut butter cookies are crispy, crunchy, and packed full of delicious peanuts! They are definitely best enjoyed with a big glass of milk!


1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Add in the chocolate chips and peanuts and stir until they are evenly distributed.

Moisten your hands and roll the dough into 1-2 Tbsp.-sized balls. Place the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through the baking time. Cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets on wire racks, then transfer the cookies to the wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Monday, January 23, 2012

No-Bake Date Squares

These date squares are perfect for breakfast, tea, or a healthier dessert that will still satisfy your sweet tooth. The gooey date filling makes them perfectly, naturally sweet and the almonds in the oatmeal crust add flavour and a bit of crunch. They come together super quick because they don't require any baking, and as an added bonus they also happen to be vegan!

Crust Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups whole raw almonds
1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 tsp. salt
10 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup coconut oil

Date Filling Ingredients:

25 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped (about 2 and 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)


Line an 8x8" or 9x9" square baking pan with parchment paper so that it comes up all four sides. In a food processor, process the almonds, salt, and oats until they are a fine crumble. Add in the 10 dates and process until crumbly again. Melt the coconut oil and add it to the processor, and process until sticky. Remove the crust ingredients from the processor, and set aside 3/4 cup of the mixture for later. Evenly press the rest of the crust mixture firmly into the prepared baking pan.

Put the 25 remaining dates and water into the food processor and process until a paste forms. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times so that no chunks of dates remain. Scoop out the date filling into the crust and evenly spread it with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle the 3/4 cup of crust mixture that was set aside on top of the date filling and gently press down on it with your fingers. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or preferably overnight. Cut into squares and serve. It is easier to cut the squares while they are still in the baking pan, because the date filling is quite gooey. Store the squares in the refrigerator or freezer.

*Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy National Popcorn Day!

I have no idea how this "holiday" originated, but I love popcorn so much I figured I would do a little feature on popcorn to celebrate!

Did you know?
Popcorn is a whole grain, which means it contains the entire grain kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm), making it a good source of dietary fiber! It is also naturally low in fat and calories, which makes it a satisfying healthy snack! However, you'll want to practice moderation when eating it coated in butter and salt.

Pop some today!
There are many ways to enjoy popcorn too! If you are looking for convenience then microwave bags are handy, but you can also pop plain kernels using an air popper, on the stovetop, in a special microwave popping bowl, or in a paper bag in the microwave. I usually pop plain kernels in an air popper or a paper bag in the microwave because it is cheaper to buy just the raw kernels and lets me customize how I flavour the popcorn! It's also not really any more time-consuming than the microwave bags, and has the bonus of no added preservatives. 

To pop in a paper bag, measure 1/4-1/2 a cup of raw kernels into a brown paper bag, then fold over the top 2-3 times. Microwave on high for 1.5-2 minutes for 1/4 cup or 2-3 minutes for 1/2 cup of kernels. Since all microwaves are different, don't leave the popcorn unattended - stop the microwave and take the popcorn out when the pops are 1-2 seconds apart. Season as desired and enjoy!

To pop over the stovetop, add 2-3 Tbsp. of oil to a heavy pot that has a lid. Heat the oil over medium heat with two popcorn kernels in the pan - when those kernels pop then the oil is hot enough to add the rest of the kernels. Add 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels to the pot and cover with the lid. If the lid doesn't have a hole to allow steam to escape then leave it slightly ajar. Gently shake the pot to keep the kernels on the bottom from burning, and keep shaking while the kernels pop. Once the popping stops, turn off the heat and transfer the popcorn to a bowl. Season as desired and enjoy!

Some seasoning ideas:
Traditional butter and salt
Seasoning salt
Chili powder
Onion powder and garlic powder
Parmesan cheese
Cinnamon and sugar
Nutritional yeast
Add in dried fruit, nuts, cereal, chocolate chips, etc. to make your own party or snack mix!

Some of my specialty popcorn recipes:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Caramelized Banana Coconut Cake

I made this cake for a potluck dinner back in December! If you're a fan of caramelized bananas or coconut then you will absolutely love this cake. It was so delicious and received a lot of praise from my friends who tried it - I would definitely recommend making it if you are entertaining or looking for a special cake recipe! The whipped cream and coating of shredded coconut remind me of fluffy white snow and to me it makes it perfect to enjoy during the snowy winter months.


1 box yellow/golden cake mix
3 large eggs
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
4-5 medium bananas, sliced 1/4" thick
1 and 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Whipped Cream for Frosting:
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray two 9" round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. 

Add the cake mix, eggs, oil, sour cream, water, and vanilla extract to a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until combined. Continue to beat on high for approx. 2 minutes. 

Place the banana slices evenly on the bottom of the two prepared cake pans. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add in the brown sugar and lemon juice and heat until dissolved, stirring occasionally. Pour half of the brown sugar mixture into each of the two cake pans, over the bananas.

Sprinkle the shredded coconut over the brown sugar and bananas. Pour the cake batter on top of the coconut, evenly dividing between the two cake pans. Make sure you try to pour the cake batter on top of the coconut evenly because it is difficult to spread using a spatula. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let sit on wire racks for 5 minutes. Invert one of the cake layers onto a serving dish, so the bananas are facing upwards. If any bananas are left in the cake pan remove them and place them on top of the cake layer. Carefully invert the other cake layer onto a separate plate, then place that layer banana-side down on top of the first layer. Make sure that all of the bananas are in the middle of the two cake layers. Allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting with whipped cream.

I didn't have enough bananas when I made this cake so I didn't use the full amount listed in the ingredients, so you'll notice that my banana layer looks sparse. I would definitely recommend using the full 4-5 bananas to get more even coverage on each cake layer and more delicious caramelized bananas in the middle of your cake!

To prepare the whipped cream frosting, beat the whipping cream in a large, chilled bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the cooled cake with a spatula or knife. Sprinkle the shredded coconut over top and onto the sides of the cake. Cover and refrigerate or serve immediately.

I couldn't get a good picture of a finished slice of cake because there was very poor lighting at the potluck location and I was too busy eating to worry about getting a good shot! This is a general idea of what the inside of your finished cake should look like though.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Chickpea Coconut Curry Stir Fry

This stir fry recipe is quick, healthy, and colourful! The sauce is creamy but light and the hint of curry powder and ginger gives this dish great flavour that pairs well with a variety of vegetables!


2 cups cooked rice
1.5-2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 heaping Tbsp. coconut oil - If you don't have coconut oil then substitute with olive or vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped carrots
2 medium bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced or roughly chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt or coconut milk
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp. curry powder (to taste)
1 tsp. ground ginger


Cook your rice according to the package directions; set aside and keep warm. Drain and rinse the canned chickpeas and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the garlic and carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the plain yogurt or coconut milk, garlic, curry powder, and ginger. Add the bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms to the wok or pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes. 

Add the chickpeas and yogurt mixture and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and serve over the prepared rice. This dish serves 3-4.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sour Cream Cinnamon Rolls

Nothing is as comforting as a warm, gooey cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven. This recipe is so simple and quick to make as long as you don't mind waiting for the dough to rise! The addition of sour cream makes the dough super light and flakey and gives the glaze a slight tang, similar to cream cheese frosting. Enjoy one for a leisurely weekend breakfast or with a cup of coffee!


1/4 cup warm (not hot) water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. white sugar + 2 Tbsp. white sugar, divided use
1 large egg
1/3 cup sour cream + 2 Tbsp. sour cream, divided use
5 Tbsp. (1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted, divided use
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and 1 tsp. white sugar. Allow this to sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the additional 2 Tbsp. white sugar, egg, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1 Tbsp. melted butter, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Stir in the flour until combined and the mixture comes together into a ball of dough. You may find it easier to mix with your hands. Lightly cover the bowl with a dish towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm area for 45 minutes.

After the first rise, roll the dough out onto a floured countertop or table, using a floured rolling pin. Make sure the surface is well floured so that the dough doesn't stick.

Brush the dough with 3 Tbsp. melted butter, then combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it on top of the rolled dough.

Roll the dough up and slice into 10-12 even pieces. Place the pieces on a well greased cookie sheet. Lightly cover with a dish towel and allow the dough to rise a second time in a warm area for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of the cinnamon rolls with the remaining 1 Tbsp. melted butter. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the cinnamon rolls to a wire rack or serving platter to cool slightly.

To make the glaze, mix together the remaining 2 Tbsp. of sour cream, icing sugar, and vanilla until well combined with no lumps. Drizzle over the cinnamon rolls as they are cooling. Serve the rolls warm.

*Recipe adapted from Sugar Plum