Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

DSC_0968 ¬†These were the ultimate Christmas cookie of 2014 and the recipe I will be leaving out for Santa tomorrow evening ūüėČ ¬†I made many batches to share with family and friends and they always vanished quickly.¬† I love a simple snickerdoodle, and¬†by adding brown butter they are infused with a subtle, caramel deliciousness that I find irresistible. ¬†To keep these vegan- substitute vegan yogurt for the sour cream and coconut oil (1:1 ratio) for the butter. ¬†Although you can’t brown¬†coconut oil (due to it’s high smoking point), using it instead of butter adds a faint and understated coconut flavor to the cookies which I adore. ¬†Try both versions. I hope you love them as much as I do ‚̧

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Brown Butter Snickerdoodles:

– 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour or your favorite gluten-free flour mix

– 1 teaspoon baking soda

– 2 teaspoons cream of tartar

– 1 teaspoon cinnamon

– a pinch of sea salt

– 1 cup unsalted butter

– 1 cup coconut sugar or sugar of choice (brown or white)

– 2 flax eggs or free range eggs

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– 1 tablespoon sour cream or greek yogurt

Heat a pan over medium heat.  Add your butter and whisk until melted.  Continue to whisk until foam appears and the butter begins to turn brown.  Watch closely! Once butter has turned from golden to a light brown, remove the pan from the heat.

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~*perfectly browned butter*~

In a separate bowl add your flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and brown butter until well combined. ¬†This step is crucial in creating the perfect texture so don’t rush. ¬†Take your time to cream the sugar and butter together well. ¬†Add the 2 (flax) eggs, vanilla and sour cream or greek yogurt. ¬†Either turn your beater to low or switch to a wooden spoon and stir until the ingredients are incorporated. ¬†Add your flour mixture in in 2 batches, stirring to combine after each addition.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour or overnight. 

After chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine:

– 1/4 cup sugar of choice

– 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Using 2 Tablespoons of dough at a time, roll dough into balls.  Roll balls in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Place on cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), 2 inches apart.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes, watching as oven temperatures vary.  The cookies are done when the edges are lightly brown.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Enjoy

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Pomegranate Honey (fermented)

 

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Honey ferments were my treasured discovery of 2014.  I continue to be inspired by the medicinal quality of garlic in honey and the deliciousness of the fruit ferments.  Having noshed through my jars of blueberries and peaches way too quickly (scooped into green tea was my favorite way), I needed to find a winter way to get my fix.  Try this recipe as an unusual and charming Christmas gift for those you adore.

The honey for this needs to be raw.¬† I purchase raw, local honey by the pail.¬† Although you are spending a bit more up front the cost per mL is reduced, saving you money in the long run.¬† DSC_0062As I mention here, honey has a long established history as healing medicine. It was used in pre-Ancient Egypt to treat wounds, was used by the ancient Greeks with the hopes of living longer, and is even referenced medicinally in the Quran ‚̧

(Raw) Honey is antibiotic, antiviral, antiseptic, antitoxic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes to boost our immunity which is especially important during the colder months. The simple carbohydrates in sugar provide our bodies with strength and endurance to defend against whatever ailment we are fighting. The glucose in honey is instantly absorbed providing a quick hit of energy, while the fructose is more slowly digested, providing more sustained energy.

Pomegranates are a super food in their own right.¬† Pomegranates are one of the world’s oldest fruits and have been in cultivation since the time of Moses.¬† As with honey, pomegranates (latin for “apple with many seeds”) have a rich historical tradition.¬† They¬†have been labelled “the fruit of the dead” in Greek mythology (!) and¬†were even¬†contemplated as the possible “forbidden fruit” in the Garden of Eden.¬† Jewish tradition speaks of a pomegranate having 613 seeds to represent the 613 commandements of the Torah.¬† Revered as a symbol of health, fertility, and eternal life, I devour as many as possible while they are in season! Paired with such a vibrant history, I am addicted to the pomegranates health promoting qualities.¬† The seeds contain 3 times as many antioxidants as blueberries and 4 times as many as oranges.¬† Pomegranate has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and provide immunity building and cancer prevention.¬†¬†Their high levels of vitamin C make them a perfect winter fruit.

Pomegranate Seeds in Honey (fermented):

– pomegranate seedsDSC_0079

– raw honey

Remove the seeds from your pomegranate.¬† Be careful as the juice stains everything. Place your seeds in interesting glass jars (flea markets and thrift stores are great places to score these!), leaving 1 inch of headspace.¬† Pour honey to just cover the tops of the seeds.¬† Use a spoon to gently stir to ensure the honey seeps down throughout the jar.¬† As the seeds ferment they will release juices, mixing with the honey and providing enough liquid to fill the rest of your jar.¬† Place the lid on your jar and tighten.¬† Reserve to a cool, dark place (like a cupboard or¬†quiet section of your countertop).¬† Once a day (or when you remember), flip the jar over to allow honey to evenly coat all of the pomegranate seeds.¬† Allow to ferment for 1-2 weeks.¬† Taste every few days after the first week.¬† Once the “fizziness” of the seeds is to the point you prefer, you can move your jars to the fridge.¬† As I live in a cool part of the world (Canada), at this time of year I can leave this on the counter where it continues to slowly ferment happily.¬† There are no strict rules, taste as you go and do what feels right to you.¬† Upon fermenting too long the pomegranates become boozy, which is not necessarily a bad thing ūüėČ Use your finished product as a sauce for oatmeal, rice pudding (pictured above), ice-cream, in tea, on waffles, on pancakes….

Enjoy ‚̧ ‚̧

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Fluffy Overnight Pancakes (vegan or not)

 

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These pancakes are perfect for holidays, house guests or lazy weekends.  Surprise your partner with breakfast in bed and score some major brownie points! All of the prep work is done the night before allowing you to create a beautiful stack of pancakes in about 20 minutes the next day.

My sweet friend recently travelled across the country and brought me back the most delicious partridge berry syrup. ¬†If you can find this, use it! One of the things I love most about food is it’s ability to allow you to explore new cultures and traditions without leaving home. ¬†If you can’t find partridge berry syrup top these with pure maple syrup, butter, honey blueberries, honey peaches, coconut cream or whipped cream.

Fluffy Overnight Pancakes:

–¬†¬†3 cups all purpose flour, or a mix of whole wheat and white flour

– 2 Tablespoons baking powderDSC_0612

–¬† 1/2 teaspoon salt¬†

– 1/2 cup coconut sugar

– 2 1/2 cups buttermilk, kefir, almond or coconut yogurt, or almond or coconut milk

– 2 eggs or 2 flax eggs

Р1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons avocado or grapeseed oil, melted coconut oil, or butter if you are feeling extra naughty

– 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (optional, if you don’t have any on hand just omit)

In a mixing bowl, mix first 4 ingredients.¬† Make a well in the center and pour in remaining ingredients, including the yeast if using.¬† Mix until well combined.¬† Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.¬† Skip and dance to bed knowing that in the morning you will be in for an amazing breakfast with minimal work ‚̧

In the morning take your bowl out of the fridge.¬† Heat a pan over medium heat.¬† I love my cast iron, but use what you have.¬† Once your pan is hot carefully scoop your batter into your pan.¬† I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and it works perfectly.¬†Be gentle with the batter as bubbles will have developed overnight and we don’t want to break them, giving you fluffy cloudlike pancakes.¬† Cook until¬†bubbles cover the exposed side of the pancake. Flip the pancake and continue cooking until both sides are golden. ¬†If the pancake burns before the middle is cooked, reduce the heat a little. ¬†Stack and eat!

Enjoy ‚̧ ‚̧

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Warm Quinoa Breakfast Cereal

DSC_0993¬†As the weather cools I am naturally easing off of breakfast smoothies and beginning to crave warmer foods in the morning. ¬†This recipe is actually my daughter’s creation, one that the whole family loves. ¬†It is a powerhouse of nutrition and perfectly filling without being difficult to digest. ¬†I like to make a big pot, store in the fridge, and heat up individual servings as needed on busy school day mornings.

Warm Quinoa Breakfast Cereal:

-2 cups of cooked quinoa 

-1/4 cup each of chia, pumpkin, and hemp seeds, shredded coconut, and coconut sugar

-2 T maple syrup, plus more to taste

-1/3 cup of almond or coconut milk

Р1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

-1-2 cups of blueberries (substitute for your favorite fruit.  Sliced bananas are a good choice!)

While your quinoa is cooking, mix all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Once the quinoa is¬†done, remove it from the heat, and stir in first your dry, then wet ingredients. After you have mixed it well, add your blueberries (or fruit of choice) and you’re done! Enjoy ‚̧ ‚̧

 
 
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Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup

DSC_1069¬†This soup is incredible this time of year, allowing you to use up the last of the summer produce in a delicious, warming way. The last of the true, seasonal tomatoes will only be available for the next few weeks¬†and¬†this is a great way to use up the last few in your garden or at the farmer’s market.

Combining the slow roasted flavours with fresh tomatoes creates a depth of flavour that I find irresistible ‚̧

This makes a big batch which I like to divide, eating half for dinner, and freezing half for a busy day.  If you decide to do this, reserve your half for freezing before you add your cream.  Once defrosted, add your cream and re-heat slowly.

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Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup

Р6 medium sized tomatoes

– 2 large or 3 medium onions

Р3 medium carrots

– 4 garlic cloves

– 1/4 cup olive or avocado oil

– salt and pepper to taste

– 4 cups vegetable broth

1/2 a jar of canned tomatoes OR 2 cups fresh tomatoes

Р1/2 cup white wine 

– 3/4 cup heavy cream OR coconut milk (to keep it vegan-I promise you won’t taste it!)

– 2-4 cups fresh basil

Preheat your oven to 400‚ÄĘ. ¬†Halve your tomatoes, onions, carrots, and garlic cloves. ¬†Toss with the oil and a generous pinch of both salt and pepper. ¬†Place on your baking pan in a single layer (if you have cast iron, use it now <3) Roast until your veggies are golden and beginning to caramelize.

Scrape into a large pot, making sure to get all the juices and the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the baking pan. ¬†Add vegetable broth and fresh tomatoes. ¬†Bring to a boil. ¬†Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes (or longer if you like). ¬†Add white wine and allow to simmer for 5 more minutes. ¬†Use an immersion (or regular) blender to puree the soup. ¬†Be careful ūüôā Remove from heat. ¬†Add your cream and tear in your basil. ¬†Taste. ¬†Season with salt and pepper until perfect.

Enjoy ‚̧ ‚̧

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Easy Pumpkin Lasagna with Sage Bechamel Sauce

DSC_0273 This easy vegetarian lasagna is great for holiday meals. ¬†Add a salad and some fresh baked bread and you’re done. ¬†It appears as though there are a lot of steps, but you can either cheat and use store bought or prepare the layers ahead of time. ¬†As I had some homemade pumpkin puree and a jar of my canned spaghetti sauce on hand, I only needed to make the bechamel sauce and grate some cheese. ¬†Easy peasy.

To roast your own pumpkin puree, slice your pumpkin (make sure you buy a baking pumpkin, NOT the kind you carve ūüėČ sugar pumpkins are my favorite) in half. ¬†Place cut side up on a baking sheet. ¬†Don’t worry about removing the seeds, it’s easier to do it after roasting. ¬†Roast at 400‚ÄĘ for around 40-60 minutes depending on the size of your pumpkin. ¬†Check to see if it’s done by poking it with a fork. ¬†If it’s soft, it’s done. ¬†Remove from the oven and use a spoon to scoop the “guts” out. ¬†Scoop the rest of the pumpkin out and mash until smooth. ¬†This can be frozen or stored in the fridge for a couple of days.

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I use coconut milk to make my bechamel sauce in an attempt to reduce the hit of dairy in this recipe.  Once simmered with the savoury ingredients you cannot taste the coconut at all and the sauce is indistinguishable from the milk version.  Trust me.

Easy Pumpkin Lasagna:

– 1 lb lasagna noodles

– 4 cups pumpkin puree, seasoned with salt and pepper

4 cups of your favorite marinara¬†sauce (this is where all of my cans come in handy ūüėČ )

– 1-2 cups fresh basil (optional)

Р3 (or more) cups of cheese, grated.  I use mozzarella, havarti, cheddar, fontina or a mixture.

– 1 recipe of:

Sage Bechamel Sauce:

– 2 Tablespoons butter

– 2 Tablespoons flour

Р4 cups coconut milk (either homemade or from a carton, NOT the thick canned version)

– 1 large onion, sliced into thick rings

– 2 large garlic cloves, halved

– 1 bunch fresh sage or basil OR 1 Tablespoon dried (optional)

– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Heat butter and flour together over medium heat.  Stir constantly until mixture begins to brown.  Once butter and flour reach a golden brown, pour in coconut milk.  Increase heat to medium high and add onions and garlic.  Whisk.  Just before mixture reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and add the sage.  Allow to simmer on low heat about 10 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat.  Strain, discarding the solids.  Add parmesan cheese.  Taste.  Season with salt and pepper until perfect.

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Preheat oven to 400‚ÄĘ. ¬†Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. ¬†Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. ¬†Layer a small amount of marinara¬†sauce, followed by a small amount of bechamel sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 lasagna pan. ¬†Place your first layer of noodles. ¬†Spread approximately 1/5th of the pumpkin puree over layers. ¬†If you are using the basil, tear¬†a layer over the pumpkin. ¬†Add a layer (approximately 1/5th) of marinara sauce, a layer (approximately 1/5th) of bechamel sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. ¬†I usually only add a little bit of cheese between the layers and save most for the top. ¬†It gets lost in the layers, but provides a nice browned crust for the top. ¬†Continue forming the layers until all of the ingredients are used up. ¬†Don’t stress about making each layer perfect, just keep going until you are about 1 inch from the top of the pan.

Place in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes until the top is bubbling and beginning to brown in spots.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy ‚̧ ‚̧

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Rustic Apple Crostata

If you have never made a pie before, this is a great place to start.  While a standard 2 crust pie can be difficult, this fuss-less version is easy to create and there are no mistakes!  Whatever cracks, bumps or defects appear on your crust simply add to the rustic, homey nature.

For a delicious vegan version, use the ingredients in brackets.  Serve your final product with whipped coconut cream, whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup, this caramel sauce, or a scoop of vegan or not vanilla ice-cream.

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Crust:

– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (preferably organic)

– 3 Tablespoons coconut sugar

– 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

– 2 teaspoons cinnamon

– 2/3 cup butter (or coconut oil), cut into 1 inch dice

– 3 Tablespoons milk (or almond milk)

Place ingredients in food processor and pulse until dough begins to come together into a ball.  If you are making the crust by hand, mix the 1st 4 ingredients, cut the butter or coconut oil into the dough with 2 forks, and add the milk to combine. Once dough begins to stick together, remove from bowl and place on a piece of plastic wrap.  Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for at least one hour (can be left overnight), or in the freezer for 1/2 hour and then the fridge for 1/2 hour.

Filling: DSC_0019

– 3 apples of choice (I like to use 3 different varieties)

– 1/4 cup coconut sugar

– 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

– 1 teaspoon dried ginger (optional)

– a pinch of cloves (optional)

– 1 teaspoon dried cardamom (optional)

Slice your apples into bite sized chunks or slices (remember there are no mistakes!) Mix the rest of the ingredients into your apples and let stand as you pre-heat your oven. Preheat your oven to 400‚ÄĘ. Take your chilled dough and roll into a 10-12 inch circle. ¬†Transfer to your baking sheet. ¬†I love cast iron <3. ¬†Pile your apple filling into the middle, leaving a 2-inch border around the edges. ¬†Pull the edges over themselves, to seal in the filling (see pictures). ¬†Bake the crostata for 40 minutes until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. ¬†Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly to ensure the apples hold their shape when sliced. ¬†Slice. Enjoy ‚̧ ‚̧

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