Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pumpkin Pie French Toast


I love pumpkin anything, and now that the seasons have changed and Thanksgiving is on the way I'm sure there will be many pumpkin recipes popping up everywhere. If you have to choose one pumpkin recipe to make then I can't recommend this one enough. It feels like I literally just ate pumpkin pie for breakfast this morning! Fluffy French toast is the perfect vehicle for this creamy pumpkin pie spread that is versatile, and incredibly simple to prepare. This may be my new favourite Fall recipe, and Fall is only beginning.


1 egg
2 and 1/2 Tbsp. milk - I used unsweetened almond milk, but cow or soy milk will work fine
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 thick slices of bread, better if they are slightly stale
Pumpkin pie spread (recipe below)
1 Tbsp. chopped almonds
Whipped cream (optional)


In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg, milk, and pumpkin pie spice together. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, allowing the bread to soak up the liquid on both sides.

Melt a pat of butter or heat a drizzle of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Place the slices of soaked bread on the skillet and cook on one side for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side until golden brown.

Serve hot, topped with about half of the prepared pumpkin pie spread and the chopped almonds. Add whipped cream to make this really decadent.

Pumpkin Pie Spread

1 cup pure pumpkin puree
3-4 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp. smooth almond butter - If you don't have almond butter then you can substitute with peanut butter, but just be aware that it will have more of a "nutty" flavour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice


Combine all ingredients in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, then stir. Taste and adjust the sweetness or flavourings as desired. Use as a hot or cold topping on toast, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, scones, or just eat with a spoon for a snack.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Friday, September 28, 2012

Quinoa Veggie Bowl with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

This is an awesome dressing recipe that uses fresh, healthy, flavourful ingredients. It almost tastes like a tangy ranch dressing and it would be perfect to dip veggies in, or over a green salad. I used it as a sauce over a main dish I quickly whipped up for supper one night that had quinoa, steamed vegetables, and tofu, and it gave so much flavour to the dish. I will be making this dressing again and again!

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 and 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Fresh lemon juice from 1 medium lemon
1 cup water
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper


Cut the avocados, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Adjust the seasonings to your taste, adding more if needed. Pour into an airtight container or jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Quinoa Bowl

For the quinoa bowl pictured I cooked up a large batch of quinoa, steamed some baby carrots and spinach, and pressed the water out of a block of medium firm tofu and cut it into small cubes. I combined these ingredients in a bowl and and poured the avocado green goddess dressing generously over top. It was a super fast and delicious meal that came together in less than 30 minutes, plus I had lots leftover for lunch the next day. I didn't measure amounts but you can just make what you need for however many people you are planning to serve. It was delicious served hot or cold.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chocolate Donut Cake


For my last birthday my mom gave me a donut-shaped cake pan, and since then I've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to try it out. Every month at the food bank I volunteer at we have a birthday cake day for all the volunteers whose birthday falls in that month. My friends and I were in charge of making the September birthday cake so I figured it was a great time to break out the donut pan! We made my favourite chocolate cake recipe and then sandwiched the two layers together with berry jam to simulate a jelly donut. Then the whole thing was topped with chocolate ganache and rainbow sprinkles. I love baking alone, but baking with friends is even more fun (and good teaching practice for me) so you should definitely try making this cake with a group of your friends. Dessert tastes even better when you get to share it with friends!

Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar
 1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Prepared chocolate ganache (recipe below)
Berry jam or jelly of your choice
Rainbow sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans, or if you have a donut cake pan then use that. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with an electric mixer, beating for about 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water. The batter will be thin.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean with a few crumbs attached. Cool on wire racks for 15-20 minutes, then run a knife around the cake layer and gently turn onto the wire racks. Cool completely before frosting. To speed up the cooling process I usually place the cake layers in the freezer.

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:

1 cup milk or heavy cream - You can also substitute with soy milk for a non-dairy alternative
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate


Pour the milk into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Slowly bring to a boil. Place the chocolate in a medium, heatproof bowl (glass works the best). Once the milk is boiling, pour it over the chocolate and let sit for 2-3 minutes, until the chocolate softens. Whisk the chocolate and milk together vigorously  with a wire whisk until all the chocolate is melted and a glossy sheen forms, about 2 minutes. Cover with plastic or a lid and refrigerate for for about 1 hour before using. You want this ganache to be thick not runny, but still pourable so that you can just pour it over the entire cake. If it gets too hard in the fridge then just heat it up a little on the stovetop or in the microwave over low heat. 

To Assemble:

Once the cake layers are completely cooled, place the bottom layer of cake on the serving platter or plate. Spread an even layer of berry jam or jelly of your choice over the layer. Place the second layer on top. Pour the prepared chocolate ganache over the top layer using as much or as little as you would like, then sprinkle evenly with rainbow sprinkles before the ganache hardens. Store the finished cake covered in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chocolate Avocado Cake with Chocolate Ganache

I hope you're not scared off by the idea of vegetables in baking, because this cake is too good for you not to try! If you've ever had carrot or zucchini cake/loaf before then you'll know that adding vegetables into baking makes for tasty, moist, and usually healthier baked goods, with no funny tastes or textures. I suppose I should note that avocados are actually a fruit and not a vegetable, but it isn't really that relevant here - unless of course it makes you more comfortable with this recipe, because you're really just adding fruit to cake! Since avocados are so high in (healthy!) fat, they make a great alternative to butter or oil, and their smooth texture and mild flavour makes them easy to incorporate in virtually any baked goods. They make this chocolate cake dense and moist, without being super heavy or overly sweet. The cake would be delicious enough on its own, but I would recommend topping it with the chocolate ganache to really take it to chocolate lover's heaven.

Chocolate Avocado Cake Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup ripe avocado, well mashed (about 1 medium avocado) - Make sure the mashed avocado is as smooth as you can get it, with no lumps!
1 cup milk (dairy, almond, and soy all work fine)
1 cup hot water
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x11" rectangular cake pan or two 8" round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. If using round cake pans, line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper for easy removal of the baked cakes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a separate large bowl, mix together the canola oil, mashed avocado, milk, hot water, vinegar, and vanilla. Stir in the sugar.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat with a whisk, by hand, until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for about 30-40 minutes if using a rectangular cake pan, 25-30 if using round cake pans, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting with chocolate ganache. I used a rectangular cake pan when I made this, so I didn't remove my cake from the pan and just spread about half of the prepared ganache (recipe below) evenly over the top.

*Cake recipe adapted from Joy The Baker

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:

1 cup milk or heavy cream - You can also substitute with soy milk for a non-dairy alternative
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate


Pour the milk into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Slowly bring to a boil. Place the chocolate in a medium, heatproof bowl (glass works the best). Once the milk is boiling, pour it over the chocolate and let sit for 2-3 minutes, until the chocolate softens. Whisk the chocolate and milk together vigorously  with a wire whisk until all the chocolate is melted and a glossy sheen forms, about 2 minutes. Cover with plastic or a lid and refrigerate for 1.5-2 hours before using. Stir before use to loosen it up. Spread over cooled cake layers. It is very important that the cake is completely cooled before frosting, otherwise the ganache will melt.

*Chocolate ganache recipe adapted from You Won't Believe It's Vegan (Sher & Doherty, 2008).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Zucchini Raisin Coconut Loaf with Cinnamon Streusel

I made this loaf using some zucchini that I bought at the farmer's market last weekend. I made sure to stock up since all of the zucchini and squash were only 3 for $1, and have been enjoying them in various ways ever since! Zucchini is one of my favourite vegetables to use in baking because its high water content makes the baked goods super moist, and it has a neutral flavour so you don't even notice you're eating a vegetable treat. If you don't want to make this recipe as a loaf, then you could also make it into muffins for portable snacks or an on-the-go breakfast!


2 cups white whole wheat or all-purpose flour 
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar - You can use white or light brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut - I know not everyone loves coconut, so feel free to substitute it with chopped nuts of your choice if you'd like to.
1 egg
1 and 1/4 cup shredded zucchini - Leave the skin on and just shred it with a small grater; the skin adds more fibre!
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup or honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups milk - I used vanilla almond milk to make this dairy-free

Cinnamon Streusel Topping Ingredients: (the streusel topping is optional, but really delicious!)
2 tsp. butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. turbinado sugar - This is just a type of sugar with a very coarse grain, also called raw sugar. You can substitute with brown sugar if you don't have any.
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter/margarine.

Prepare the cinnamon streusel topping by combining the butter, sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl until evenly mixed. It will be more sticky or gummy rather than crumbly. Set aside while you make the loaf batter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, raisins, and coconut.

In a separate large bowl, combine the egg, zucchini, vinegar, maple syrup, vanilla, and milk. 

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just mixed. Be careful not to over-mix the batter or you will get a tough, rubbery loaf.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the prepared cinnamon streusel evenly over the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the top of the loaf comes out clean and the loaf gently springs back when pressed. Cool on a wire rack.


*Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Peach Apple Pie

One day in late August my dad brought home a big bag of fresh peaches with a request for homemade peach pie. I was happy to oblige, but unfortunately by the time I got around to making the pie a couple of days later, a few peaches had already disappeared (okay I confess I ate one, but my three siblings aren't innocent either!). At that point I didn't have enough peaches to make a whole pie, so this peach apple pie is what I came up with. The slightly tart and crunchy apples compliment the sweet and juicy peaches perfectly. The apples I used were from my family's own apple tree in our front yard, which went absolutely crazy with fruit this summer. Keep in mind that peaches will only be in season for a very short while longer so hurry and make this pie while you still can!


Pastry for double crust pie - Use my perfect pie crust recipe here
4 large, very ripe peaches
3-4 small apples
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. milk or cream
1 Tbsp. brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out the pastry for your bottom pie crust and place in a 9" pie pan. Set aside.

Remove the peel from the peaches using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, being careful to just remove the peel and not too much of the fruit. Halve, pit, and slice the peaches. Peel, core, and slice the apples. In total, you should have about 6 cups of fruit.

Place the sliced peaches and apples in a large bowl with the lemon juice. In a small bowl combine the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and corn starch, then stir into the bowl of fruit until evenly combined.

Pour the filling into the prepared bottom pie crust. Roll out the pastry dough for the top pie crust and cut some decorative vents into it (the little slits in the centre of the top pie crust). Place over the pie. Trim the outer edges of pie crust until there is a 1-2" overhang of crust from the pie plate. Flute or crimp the outer edges between your thumb and two fingers, or using the heel of a butter knife. 

Brush the top of the pie with the milk or cream, using a pastry brush. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar.

Bake the pie on the middle rack for about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is just beginning to brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake the pie for another 30-40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is a nice golden brown. If the top of the pie or outer crust begins to brown too quickly, then cover it with a circle of aluminum foil for the remaining baking time.

Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool for 2-4 hours before serving. This gives the filling a chance to set. You could eat it immediately out of the oven but keep in mind it will be very runny still. Store leftover pie covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It is excellent served cold as well!

*Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce


Does anyone else always have pancakes, waffles, or french toast on Sunday mornings? Growing up, we always had a big family brunch on Sundays and my mom would always make the best pancakes or Belgian waffles. So, for me, it is a must to have a pancake breakfast on Sundays even if it's just for myself! These pancakes were delicious and super fluffy, despite being made with whole wheat flour and no eggs. The homemade strawberry sauce is better than any storebought syrup and is worth taking the extra step to make. It cooks down to soft pieces of strawberry and a perfectly sweet syrup that soaks into the pancakes.

Whole Wheat Pancake Ingredients:

1/3 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp. apple cider or white vinegar
1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
3 Tbsp. warm water
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. white or brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Strawberry Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup diced strawberries
1/8 cup water
1/4 tsp. arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 tsp. white or brown sugar


Begin by making the strawberry sauce. Place the strawberries, water, arrowroot or cornstarch, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Allow i to come to a bowl, then lower the heat and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside and keep warm while you make the pancakes.

In a small bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar and almond milk and set aside for 3-5 minutes to curdle.

In a separate small bowl, combine the ground flax and water, and set aside for 3-5 minutes to gel up and create a flax "egg".

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar. Add the flax egg to the milk mixture, along with the vanilla extract, and stir to combine. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, until just incorporated - the batter will be thick.

Heat a skillet or griddle to medium heat and grease with oil, or nonstick spray. Once the griddle is hot, spoon the batter on, forming 3-4 pancakes. Cook for approximately 2-4 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook for an additional 1-3 minutes.

Plate the finished pancakes and cover with warm strawberry sauce. Top with additional fresh strawberries if desired and enjoy.


*Recipe adapted from Kiss My Broccoli