Saturday, 15 February 2014


Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies

It's Valentine's weekend and chocolate is not hard to find, and even easier to eat.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some chocolate.  But butterscotch and caramel have their good qualities too, you know.  Chewy, sweet and rich, just to name a few.

If you want a crowd pleaser, look no further.  I could barely get these out of the house intact, and I'm not blaming anyone for that.  This is one recipe that I know I will be making over and over again, and that is really saying something considering that I hate making the same thing twice!

Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies

The first thing I love about these cookies is the way they look.  They say you eat with your eyes first, and these are definitely drool worthy.  They are supremely thick and chunky.  No slim wafers here!  And you know that means they are going to be deliciously chewy with a burst of flavour in every bite.  Then of course there is the drizzle.  Completely unnecessary, but it really classes it up a notch.  It's like adding accessories to a great outfit.  Just makes it that much better.

Of course, they taste pretty damn good too.  You would never know they are gluten free, in fact I think that would be the last thought on your mind.  The cashew butter lends a beautiful richness to the consistency as well as the flavour, and then adding in more chopped nuts later, just keeps things interesting.  Sold yet?  You should be.  Make them.  Now.

Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies

Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewarts Cookies

1 2/3 cups gluten free flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup roasted salted cashews
3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
3/4 cups toffee / skor bits
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

24 soft caramel candy cubes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 - 1 teaspoon sea salt

Sift together the flour and salt, and set aside.

Blend the roasted salted cashews in a high speed food processor until dessicated.  Pour in the oil, and continue blending until it comes to a smooth buttery consistency.  Place the cashew butter, butter, and sugars in a large bowl and mix with a beater on medium speed for about two minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix again.  While mixing on low speed, slowly add in the flour and salt until just combined.  Stir in the chopped cashews and toffee bits.

Drop large scoops of batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes, then lightly flatten the tops of the cookies, and return to the oven.  Bake for another 7-10 minutes, until the bottoms are golden.  Let cool completely.

For the sauce, melt the caramels and cream together in a saucepan or microwave, stirring frequently.  When smooth, stir in the sea salt adding more or less to taste.  Use a spoon to drizzle over the cookies, and then let them sit until completely set.

Eat all of them, and consider it a day well spent.

Sunday, 9 February 2014


brazilian fudge balls

I've got a couple Brazilian recipes happening in my kitchen lately, but these fudge balls are definitely the most important ones for any chocoholics out there.  They are INTENSE.  Like if ooey, gooey, chocolate attacked your face, and started multiplying itself into millions of bite sized balls. becoming more and more densely chocolately by the second, until you thought you would just die and be reincarnated as chocolate yourself - that is what these are like.  So.  Consider yourself warned.

brazilian fudge balls

Going by the name Brigadeiros in their native land, these chocolate sweets are a very common party snack in Brazil.  Similar to truffles or fudge, but oh so simple to make, these rich balls are most commonly coated in chocolate sprinkles as I've done here. However, you could modify this to suit the occasion, perhaps some pink sprinkles for the upcoming day of love?  Orange and black for Halloween?  Or get really crazy and expand your horizons into some dessicated coconut.  Throw caution to the wind and dip a few in some melted white chocolate.  Sprinkle some crushed pistachios over the top.  Roll them in vanilla sugar.  I could go on.  But you get the idea.

There are dozens of recipes out there, but most are identical.  The great part about these treats is that they have stayed pretty true to their original recipe - so you know it must be good to start with.  I went with a recipe from the trusted Saveur website, which recreates them in their original form with the added benefit of a few tablespoons of heavy cream.  I know, it's probably unnecessary, but life happens.  Chocolate happens, people.

brazilian fudge balls

Brazilian Fudge Balls
Recipe from Saveur

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
28 oz sweetened condensed milk
3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
Chocolate sprinkles

Bring butter, cream, and milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chocolate and cocoa, and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is a dense, fudgy batter.  It will take about 16 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool.  Chill for at least 4 hours.

When completely set and chilled, use a tablespoon to scoop out the fudge and roll into balls.  Roll each ball in chocolate sprinkles until coated.  Chill until ready to serve.

Eat without remorse, and proceed into a chocolate induced coma.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


I am the worst.  This poor blog has felt like a misplaced stepchild lately, and I'm the evil stepmother.  The only resolution?  To post something so delectable, it just can't be ignored.  Something that no one in their right mind can resist.

These little goodies are obviously a take on popular, well known treats, but have the extra valour of being crafted by hand and made with luscious dark chocolate.  It's like Halloween for adults.  It's rich and new but still comforting and familiar.  And if I do say so myself, I think they are pretty damn impressive.  I mean, they just scream love.  So be careful who you gift these to, my friends.  Or perhaps give freely and then see how your social calendar fares?

In all honesty I made these in the crush of holiday baking, for a few parties and also for my freezer.  I know that makes me even more horrendous for not sharing earlier.  Maybe I just needed some time alone with them.  To bond and whatnot.  But hey, now that we're all in the dark winter slump, these could be just the pickup you need.  A dark chocolate and peanut buttery (or coconutty) pick me up.

These recipes comes from Food52, one of my favourite foodie sites.  They do a great job of creating recipes for items you would normally buy (like these chocolates) in a way that lets you control what goes in it and customize it to your tastes.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
Adapted from Food52 Peanut Butter Cups
1 cup salted peanut butter (I used my homemade peanut butter recipe and it was perfect!)
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup powdered/icing sugar
32 ounces of chocolate (I used about one third extra dark, and one third milk chocolate just to add a bit of creaminess)
Coarse sea salt if desired
*You'll also want to pick up some mini cupcake wrappers

Mix together the peanut butter, butter, and sugars in a bowl and set aside in the fridge or freezer.  Roughly chop the chocolate, and melt it in a saucepan over low heat until smooth.  Put the mini cupcake wrappers on a baking sheet and pour in just enough chocolate to fill the bottom of the wrapper.  I found that putting a small spoonful of chocolate in a row of wrappers, then lifting and dropping the tray to spread each dollop of chocolate out to the edges of the wrapper worked well.  When the bottoms are all done, refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Take the peanut butter mixture, and start shaping your filling discs.  Use about a heaping teaspoon to measure, then shape into a disc that's not quite as wide as the cupcake wrappers.  Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and when done put back in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  This will make them easier to handle and get into the cups without sticking to your fingers.

Then start dropping the peanut butter mixture discs into each of the chocolate bottom-filled wrappers.  You may need to warm up the remaining chocolate again to ensure it is smooth and pourable.  Pour another spoonful or two into each wrapper until the peanut butter is completely covered and the tops are flat.  Gently lifting and dropping the tray again as you go will help spread the chocolate to fill all the edges of the wrappers.

If desired, sprinkle the tops with a little coarse sea salt, and place them in the fridge until completely set - about thirty minutes to an hour.  You can serve these cold or let them get soft and melty at room temperature for a few minutes too.  They also freeze amazingly well, so you can stock up your freezer in anticipated of future drop in guests.

Homemade Chocolate Covered Coconut Bars
Adapted from Food52 Almond Joys
1 cup unsweetened medium desiccated coconut
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey / maple syrup / agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces dark chocolate

Mix together the shredded coconut, coconut oil, syrup of your choice, vanilla extract and salt.  Once fully combined, place in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  When cold enough that it is easy to form and sticks together, start making logs about 1 inch in length and a half inch in diameter.  Place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and flatten the sides and top with your fingers to create a rectangular shape.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes, until firm.

Roughly chop the chocolate and melt in a saucepan over low heat until smooth.  And now for the fun part!  Coat each coconut bar in chocolatey goodness.  This does get a bit messy, I'm not going to lie.  I found it easiest to hold the coconut bar over the chocolate, and using a spoon or spatula pour the chocolate over the bar, letting the excess drip off.  Then I just touched up and bare spots with a spatula when it was back on the baking sheet.  Once you get a rhythm going, it's easy.  I like to go for the "rustic, homemade" look anyways!

Freeze these again until the chocolate has hardened, then you can pack up into a container and store in the fridge or freezer.  Again, it's your choice if you want to serve them cold or at room temperature.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Christmas Eve deserves a post.  As if there aren't enough things to do.  But hey, that's kind of how I roll.  I plan a million things to do and then I only get a portion of them done.  My way of prioritizing I guess?  Either way, this is going to be short and sweet.  Cause I've got presents to give and to open, and a whole lotta food to eat.  Which brings me to my point.  Gravy.  Gravy is always the point.  It's the point of eating turkey, and potatoes and stuffing.  These foods are all simply vehicles from which to carry gravy to my mouth.  Gravy may be, dare I say, the point of Christmas dinner.

So last minute or not, I wanted to share the perfect gluten free gravy recipe.  This is the first holiday that I've actually tried to make a gluten free gravy, and I'll never skip it again.  I thought it would be a big hassle, that it would be lumpy or grainy, and that I would make my poor family suffer through an entirely unenjoyable gravy experience.  I just didn't want to do that to them.

The solution was clear.  My boyfriend and I would drive five hours in a snow and ice storm to visit my parents house out of town, and have a pre-Christmas, Christmas dinner.  Dinner would consist of turkey and all the fixings, including gluten free gravy.  And if it was terrible, well everyone could still enjoy real Christmas dinner a few days later anyways.

Now, it's the day of the real Christmas dinner and I've got my little jar of gluten free gravy leftovers to enjoy with dinner number two.  I'm surprised I managed to get any home, I was licking it out of the pot.  It's so good.  It tastes just like real, regular gravy.  Identical.  That never happens!

Okay, here's the secret - use sweet rice flour, also called glutinous rice flour.  I've blogged about this type of flour before.  I found it in the ethnic section of my regular grocery store, and it comes in these small flat plastic bags, and it's only a dollar a bag.  Other than that, my mom and I just followed our regular gravy recipe, and replaced the regular wheat flour with the sweet rice flour.  Worked perfectly.

Perfect Gluten Free Gravy
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
4 cups chicken stock (make sure it's gluten free)
Pan juices from & roasting pan
1/4 cup sweet rice or glutinous rice flour
Pan drippings, about 1/4  (or melted butter if you don't have enough)
Fresh rosemary (optional)
Salt and pepper

After your turkey is cooked and out of the oven, you can start the gravy.  Move the turkey out of the roasting pan.  Pour all of the liquid out of the roasting pan and let it cool, then separate the juices from the fat.  Add the juices to the stock, if there are any.  Take the roasting pan and straddle it over two burners.  Add one cup of the stock to the roasting plan and heat while scraping the bottom to deglaze all of the juices and leftover bits of turkey.

In a saucepan, heat a 1/4 cup of the fat, then add the flour and whisk to make a roux.  Let it brown for a minute or two, then gradually pour in all of the stock and juices, whisking constantly. Add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, if desired.  Bring to a simmer and let it cook gently for 10 minutes.  Season generously with salt and pepper to taste.  If you like, strain the gravy through a sieve before serving.  Or if you're like me, just enjoy it as soon as possible!

Thursday, 14 November 2013


Roasted Beets with Creamy Goat Cheese and Toasted Seeds.

Beets are like candy.  Deliciously sweet, leaking juicy red colour, and easy to gobble down, beets are nature's best treat. Roasting brings out that sweet flavour even more, creating a tender, juicy bulb that is hard to call a vegetable.  But vegetable it is, and when it's in season I just can't get enough.  Especially when it's paired with a nice soft cheese and crunchy, browned pumpkin seeds.

Beetroot is not the most attractive plant out there.  It comes out of the ground with stubborn dirt clinging to its brown coloured beets and tough looking stalks.  It's an unfriendly looking vegetable.  But get inside those rough brown skins, and you'll find one of the brightest colours in nature, and an incredibly smooth, almost buttery texture.  Like your mom used to tell you, don't judge a book by its cover.

Roasted Beets with Creamy Goat Cheese and Toasted Seeds.

Also, don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.  Well, I'm not sure my mom ever said that one, but you catch my drift.  It's hard not to let the beets steal the show at this veggie parade, but those green stalks are actually worth some of your time too. Treat them just like you would another hearty green like kale or swiss chard and saute in a little olive oil and garlic, or throw them into a salad or soup.

Beets are also amazing nutrition wise.  They are known to have excellent antioxidants, fight inflammation in the body, high in folate and potassium, and despite their addictive sweetness, they are still low in calories.  You can also find beets in a pale golden yellow colour too.  These have a beautiful light, mild flavour and are amazing grated into salads, or just cut in slices to nibble on raw.

Roasted Beets with Creamy Goat Cheese and Toasted Seeds.

Roasted Beets with Creamy Goat Cheese and Toasted Seeds
8-10 large fresh beets
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup 0% plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
Coarse sea salt & fresh cracked pepper

To roast the beets, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and start by chopping off the stems and the tails, but leaving the skins on. Wash the beets thoroughly, and without drying them, place them in a double layer foil packet, sealing tightly at the top.  You may need to make two or three packets to hold all your beets.  Place the foil packets on a baking sheet and roast for about one hour.  The time will depend on the size of your beets, but you'll know they are ready when you can easily pierce the beets with a fork.  Let the beets cool until they are easy to handle, then use your fingers to slide the skins right off.

While the beets are cooling, spread the pumpkin seeds out on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 5 minutes. Watch these carefully, as they will burn quickly.

Using a hand blender or a food processor blend together the goat cheese and yogurt until smooth and creamy.  Slice the cooled and skinned beets into halves or quarters, depending on their size.

On a serving plate, spread out the beets on the bottom.  Scatter dollops of the cheese and yogurt mixture over the beets. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top.  Season with salt and pepper generously, as this will bring out all the flavours in the dish. Serve as is for a clean look, or give it one or two stirs to swirl the beet juices in with the cheese and create a bright pink colour.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Baked Mexican Squash Stew

I'm buying up spaghetti squash like there is no tomorrow.  I've found the best ones are always the really big ones.  Total coincidence, I swear.  Once roasted, and removed from the skin with a fork (see how in this post), I'm left with an enormous bowl of spaghetti like strings of squash.  So I keep coming up with different ways to eat it.

This recipe is my new favourite.  It's quick to throw together, and it's two main ingredients are squash and beans so I feel great about eating it.  It has a strong mexican flavour to it, and although it may not look super appetizing, it is actually really really good.  I couldn't stop eating it.  I was trying to photograph it, and I would pick up a stew laden chip to move it over to another spot, only to find that it had landed in my mouth and I was chewing and swallowing.  Seriously.  That has to be good right?

Baked Mexican Squash Stew

I do love mexican food.  It always has so much flavour and punch, and makes you feel like you are getting the best meal of your life.  Mexican cuisine is great at using fresh ingredients like ripe red tomatoes and serving it up in a way that is anything but boring.  I love the use of herbs and chili's in mexi dishes, it's nice to have flavour and heat without needing to dunk your whole head in a bucket of water.  Besides, it's often naturally gluten free, since traditional mexican cooking relies on more corn than it does wheat.

Despite my passion for mexican, I found that I don't really incorporate it much into my home cooked meals.  Now this is something that needs to be remedied.  Hence, this mexican inspired squash dish.  I wanted the squash to act as the "pasta" if you will, and the beans to become the main protein.  The enchilada sauce, cilantro, and jalapeno give it that mexican flair, and the grated cheese brings it all together in the oven.  While it's cooking, this dish really comes together.  The beans become so soft and tender, that when you take a bite you get that baked or refried bean flavour which mixes perfectly with the green enchilada sauce which is made of chilies, tomatoes, peppers and spices.

Baked Mexican Squash Stew

I served this up with a plate of organic corn chips, which was a really good idea if I do say so myself.  The chips are a great carrier, and give a bit of crunch to each bite.  However, you can totally just eat this by itself too.  It's pretty delicious either way.

Baked Mexican Squash Stew (Family Size)
6 cups roasted and shredded spaghetti squash
2 19oz cans of mixed beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, plus extra to top
1 cup enchilada sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, then pour into a casserole dish.  Top with extra grated cheese, and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake at 400 degrees for about one hour.  Remove the foil and broil for 10 minutes to brown the top.  Serve with tortilla chips or crusty bread.

Friday, 8 November 2013


Raw Kale Feta & Artichoke Dip

I'm trying to expand my hummus horizons.  In the dip world, it's hard to beat.  When you are looking for something healthy and satisfying you can sometimes feel as if your options are limited.  That's why I like this fresh dip.  There's lots of good stuff packed in like kale, greek yogurt and artichokes, but it's also deliciously creamy with a good kick of flavour from the feta cheese.  It's kind of like eating your vegetables, on your vegetables.

Raw Kale, Feta & Artichoke Dip
1/2 cup 0% plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup chopped kale
1/2 cup low fat feta packed in brine (add a splash of the brine as well)
14oz can of whole artichoke hearts (about 8-10 hearts)
1 clove of garlic, minced

Blend everything together until smooth.  If desired, hold back some chopped cheese and artichoke to mix in for a chunkier dip.