Tag Archives: dessert

Recipe for a perfect Thursday

12 Aug

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1. Drive a few hours (TOTALLY worth the trip) to meet these two lovely ladies who you haven’t seen in WAY too long.

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2. Eat lunch at a cute little place in Port Elgin that your friend recommended – tomato and bocconcini salad and a Hello Dolly bar, enjoyed on a lovely outdoor patio. IMG_2540

3. Go for a walk on the Port Elgin beach on a beautiful, if a little windy, day. IMG_2543

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Be genuinely touched and surprised at the thoughtful early birthday gift (totally milking the extended birthday this year and LOVING it)from the girls – food magazines and CHOCOLATE (thanks so much ladies)! *FYI, they both loved the house-warming/engagement gifts of wine and s’mores truffles. And, best thing EVER – I walked in and gave them to my friend and she was like: “I just saw these come up on your blog!” – LOVE IT!

5. Drive home, enjoying the beautiful weather and countryside, and stopping at numerous little country markets/farmstands, eating some of the birthday chocolate (hey, put me in a card over the dinner hour with 3 chocolate bars – what do you think is going to happen?!?!), 2 peaches and a mini muffin that your friend packed you as “emergency snacks,” and then stop at Starbucks for a frappucino and a Sobey’s visit to re-stock on tofu shirataki noodles.

6. IMG_2542Arrive home, satisfy your craving for nachos for a late dinner after all your treats and snacking – made with Guiltless Gourmet chips, light shredded cheese, green onion, tomato and a mini pepper from your garden Smile, hot peppers, fat-free sour cream, refried beans and delicious homemade corn salsa that you bought at the cutest little Mennonite farm market. Eat the one s’mores truffle you saved for yourself (‘cause any more would be trouble), plus a few more snacks for dessert.

Insert contented sigh here….perfect day.

Now, because I don’t want to leave you without a recipe/food inspiration going into the weekend, I will share with you a delicious Hungry Girl recipe for PB cookies I made on Wednesday with another lovely lady I know. Try these! They are so easy and so so so good. It’s kinda a good thing that they make such a small batch, if you know what I mean (FYI, recipe says it makes 6, but those are 6 HUGE cookies…if you want ‘em a bit smaller, you can get about 8 reasonably-sized ones).

Hungry Girl’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Softies

  • 3/4 cup regular oats (not instant)IMG_2530
    1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
    1/4 cup brown sugar (not packed)
    1/4 cup light peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
    2 tbsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread, room temperature
    2 tbsp. no-sugar-added applesauce
    2 tbsp. fat-free liquid egg substitute
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
    Dash salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, peanut butter, Splenda, butter, applesauce, egg substitute, and vanilla extract, and mix thoroughly with a wire whisk or fork.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir until completely mixed and smooth.

Add oats and mix until they are thoroughly coated with the batter.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon batter onto the sheet in 6 evenly spaced mounds. Using the back of a spoon, spread and flatten batter into circles about 3 1/2 inches wide.

Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean.

Remove baking sheet from the oven, and allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the sheet. Then slide parchment paper onto a cool surface, and let cool COMPLETELY. (Really, they taste best once they’ve totally cooled.) Enjoy!

MAKES 6 SERVINGSIMG_2531

Serving Size: 1 large cookie
Calories: 170
Fat: 6.25
Sodium: 160mg
Carbs: 23g
Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 7g
Protein: 4g

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Make these! You know you want one (unless you’re allergic to PB, then maybe not so much…anaphylaxis is not where it’s at)! It’s supposed to be a rainy weekend, so what’s better for a rainy day than baking delicious cookies!

 

 

Happy weekend my friends! There are, dare I say it, not that many summer weekends left – so enjoy it!

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If I was a normal person…

11 Aug

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…who had spontaneously decided on a Tuesday night to go see Captain America (loved it, by the way) and then after the movie, go to one of my favourite local restaurant’s weekly Tapas nights (and so not be eating until well after 9 o’clock), and wanted a snack to tide me over, I would probably have just grabbed a granola bar, or some fruit and a cheese string or something.

But, as we all know by now (or if not, I sure have been doing one heck of a job pretending), I am not normal. So, for a “light snack” before the movie, I made a salad with loads of fresh corn (I had been planning on eating corn on the cob for supper,  and so was really craving it), veggies and herbs; ham slices wrapped around some of my homemade dills (I made even MORE…we have a HUGE jar now) and a peach. Not your average “snack,” I know, but it was full of fibre and some protein, so it tided me over so well that, come 9 o’clock, I wasn’t even that hungry.

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And the tapas? Also quite delicious. The Belworth House, a local gem of a restaurant, has started offering tapas on Tuesday nights. Now they’re not tapas in the sense that they’re Spanish, more in the sense of small plates for sharing. You get a menu, and highlight the selections that you want, and they’re brought out for you one at a time. You can get 4 for $25 or 6 for $35. My mom and I each got 4, and shared (except for the seafood ones she got, which I do not care for). It’s a fun night out, and I didn’t leave feeling stuffed at all.

Here are my tapas:

August 10 2011

(sorry for the bad photos…low lighting). Clockwise from top left: potato bites with goat cheese and bacon, cowboy steak and corn on the cob, sesame chicken with bell peppers and crispy wontons, beets with haloumi cheese. All were REALLY good! The beets/haloumi were quite unique – haloumi is a cheese that you can grill without it melting all over the place, so it had a nice smoky flavour. The cowboy steak was really good too, it had a sweet sauce on it, which I liked.

My mom’s tapas:

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hummus with olives, caprese salad with olive vinaigrette, perch frites, scallops. I had some hummus (no olives), Caprese, no perch and a tiny bite of scallops. All around, it was a delicious, fun evening out, and a nice spontaneous Tuesday!

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Another case of “if I was a normal person.” If I was a normal person, and going to visit two good friends from university who I hadn’t seen in a while, as I am today, and one of them had recently gotten engaged, and the other bought a house, and I wanted to bring something, a normal person would just grab a bottle of wine for each of them, right? Not this insane-live-in-the-kitchen kinda gal, nope. I bought them each a bottle of wine AND made them homemade s’mores truffles (yesterday was national s’more day, I’d love to say that’s why I made these, but I’d be lying. I really made them because I wanted to bring a chocolate creation, and I wanted a way to use up some hot chocolate mix in my cupboard). These are an original creation, and as they have not yet been eaten, I cannot give you a review…but the bits and bites I *didn’t* eat (wink wink) while I was making them sure tasted good! Winking smile

S’mores TrufflesIMG_2504 – makes about 25, depending on size you choose

  • 1 heaping cup hot chocolate mix (this measurement is not exact because I used up what was in the container, but that’s what it came to)
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not in the original ingredients shot because I added it later IMG_2505on to thicken up the mixture without getting it too sweet)
  • mini marshmallows, as desired (depending on how marshmallowy you want the truffles to be – I used about 1 to 1 1/2 cups, I’d say)
  • chocolate to coat (melting wafers are best, if you can’t find them, use what you’ve got)
  • vegetable shortening, if necessary, to thin the chocolate
  • graham crackers, crushed, for sprinkling (I opted to crush whole graham crackers rather than use crumbs, ‘cause I wanted a chunkier, more homemade look/texture)

In a small to medium bowl, combine icing sugar, cocoa, hot chocolate mix, butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until combined. If the mixture seems a little sticky to you, add more cocoa/icing sugar as needed.

Use a spatula to gently fold in the marshmallows.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Use a cookie scoop and/or your hands to roll the mixture into balls. I left mine imperfect – it was easier with the lumps or marshmallows and, again, I was going for a homier look. Chill in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave. Use a spoon to dip the balls into the chocolate, one at a time. Tap off any excess chocolate, return balls to waxed paper-lined sheet and immediately sprinkle with crumbled graham crackers. Chill until set, and store in the refrigerator.

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We’re all mixed up, how about some marshmallows?

 

 

 

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In you go! (if you’re like me, and don’t use marshmallows all that often, chances are they’ve been sitting in your cupboard for longer than you’d care to admit and they might be slightly stuck together. That’s ok, you just need to use your fingers to separate them and help things along a little bit)

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The marshmallows you see in the above photo weren’t enough….I added more! But now these guys are ready to play ball, or balls, that is. *Note: your truffle mixture will be quite thick and a little hard to stir, but that’s how it should beIMG_2508.

 

 

I love cookie scoops, they make my life so much easier. You really should get one if you don’t own one yet.IMG_2509

 

 

 

The truffles are rolled and ready to go into the fridge. And remember, don’t let that stuff in the bowl go to waste! Smile

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The “outside” ingredients. If you find whatever chocolate you’re using is a little too thick to coat easily, just add a tiny bit of shortening to thin it out – works like a charm (thanks Bakerella)!IMG_2511

 

 

Just wanted to show you guys a close-up of my crushed graham crackers and the coarse texture I was going for.

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Let’s take a dip, shall we?

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Graham crackers top it all off, and we’re done! Just a quick trip in the fridge and you’re ready for truffle perfection.

Try these! They’re a perfect summer gift for anyone, or great for a party! And since there are fire bans due to the dry summer, this may be the only s’more chance you get (unless you try Tina or Donna’s s’mores on a stick) – so go for it, I say!

*Just to clarify, since tone doesn’t always come through in blog posts, I am not telling you about about all my crazy culinary exploits to brag or say “look how great I am,” I’m just poking fun at myself and my desire to do all this stuff in the kitchen where normal people would go with something simpler – okay?

Where are you not normal/go a little crazy or over the top sometimes?

Confessions of a “healthy” food blogger

6 Aug

You’ve heard it here before. I’m not perfect. I like to eat things that are not always healthy for me (read: I am obsessed with dessert). My kitchen “experiments” don’t always turn out. I’m actually kind of jealous of Jamie of The Sometimes Healthy Living Blog for coming up with such a perfect name. I like to say that hungry comes before healthy in my blog name because I’m ALWAYS hungry and sometimes healthy. So are you ready for a round of HHH IMG_2412confessions? Fasten your seatbelts, ‘cause here we go!

Confession Number One: On Thursday night (designated as a splurge night back when I did WW, and can’t get the mentality out of my head) I ate 1.5 pieces of better than you-know-what cake and the little bit of homemade ice cream leftover from Sunday’s BBQ. I smartly gave most of it away, but kept these little pieces for myself. I didn’t post the recipe (because it’s dangerously addictive, and I care about you guys), but it’s basically chocolate cake soaked in the Nectar of the Gods (AKA sweetened condensed milk) and caramel sauce, then topped with Cool Whip and SKOR bars. It is, as Professor Harold Hill would say: “trouble with a capital T.”

I also ate a couple of jelly beans, a brownie, a cookie with PB (but both were small and low-fat), cereal, and a few frozen mango chunks (no, you’re not mis-reading, this is all in the SAME NIGHT). Oh well, just get on with things, start the next day with a workout, and it all works out in the end, right?

Confession Number One point five: This is one point five and not 2 because it relates to number one. I ate a sliver of a piece of better than you-know-what cake after my long run on Monday. Here’s my rationale: chocolate milk is supposed to be the perfect workout recovery food because it its protein/fat/carb ratio. And this cake was chocolate soaked in sweetened condensed milk, so pretty much the same thing, right? (just smile, nod, and agree with my rationalizations to eat insanely decadent desserts before noon). Winking smile

IMG_2450Confession Number Two: Inspired by Nourishing Flourishing’s Savory Summer Squash pancakes I decided to try and create my own variation on it with zucchini, adding fresh corn and black beans, and using a piece of crumbled leftover cornbread . I also added onion and fresh basil, and seasoned with garlic salt, pepper and cumin. While the results were delicious, they weren’t pancakes AT ALL.

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Everything crumbled and fell apart in the frying pan, creating what I called “zucchini hash.” Like I said, delicious, but not pancakes. I think I needed to better drain the zucchini and add some sort of binding agent. It isn’t really a “confession,” but I just HAVE to tell you about the sauce on the chicken in that photo. I made a red wine cherry onion sauce by simmering leftover onion relish (make it. Make it NOW. So good that you’ll eat it by the spoonful) with Dijon mustard, a splash of red wine and pitted fresh sweet cherries. Yeah. It was awesome. You know you want some.

IMG_2462Confession Number Three: I ate chocolate for breakfast yesterday morning. Okay, this really wasn’t a “bad”/unhealthy breakfast, it just sounds like it should be, and it was a really good breakfast and I wanted to share it with you and it’s my blog so I make the rules…okay? I had a deep chocolate VitaTop, a mix of fat-free regular and Greek yogurts, unsweetened cocoa powder, Splenda, fresh raspberries (last of my garden I think for this year) and a few strawberries. I finished it off with an iced coffee made with sugar-free caramel syrup (not chocolate, but still delicious). Mmm…if you want to get your day off to a great start, eat chocolate for breakfast! This one hit all the right spots! Smile

Happy Saturday! Do you have any healthy (or not-so healthy) eating/kitchen mishap confessions of late to share?

Burger Bonanza

1 Aug

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I’ll admit it. I had a total “food baby” after last night’s delicious BBQ supper. But it was SO worth it. You all know how much I love burgers. Add on a buffet of delicious toppings, AMAZING local corn on the cob, tasty salads, baked beans and multiple tempting desserts? Summer perfection!

 

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These pictures don’t do it justice, but here you can see the array of toppings on the burger bar. This is the third time I’ve done build-your-own-burger as a summer party, and I have to say, it’s one of my favourite ways to entertain in the summer. After all, who doesn’t love a good burger? I used store-bought burgers and buns, but the tasty toppings take it up a notch.

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To choose from, we had:

  • sliced tomatoes
  • bacon Smile
  • sautéed onions
  • hot peppers
  • sliced avocado and leftover guacamole
  • salsa
  • the standard mustard, ketchup and relish
  • Dijon mustard
  • spicy mustard (mix of Dijon, grainy mustard and Ancho chile powder)IMG_2393
  • BBQ sauce
  • Velveeta cheese slices
  • goat cheese
  • homemade pickled red onions
  • homemade dill pickles
  • homemade red wine onion relish (those last three items are from my new Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes book – they were all pretty simple and DELICIOUS!)

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To start things off before the burgers, we had “Cowboy Caviar,” which is a tasty dip made with fresh corn (recipe says used canned, but why would I when the fresh stuff is so good?), black-eyed peas, green onions, tomatoes, avocadoes, fresh flat-leaf parsley (recipe calls for cilantro but I switched it – there’s a lot of haters out there when it comes to cilantro) and oil/vinegar/seasonings. Sooooo good! That big bowl disappeared pretty quickly! We also had a Hungry Girl cucumber dip and veggies.

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Main course was the aforementioned burgers, a salad I made, 3 other tasty salads brought by guests, baked beans Red heart brought by a guest, and LOTS of corn on the cob (I may have overestimated there just a bit – there’s quite a bit leftover – guess what you’ll be seeing in my meals this week? Winking smile). I had some of everything, and went back for more of the sides!

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Desserts. SO. GOOD. We had fruit (watermelon, muskmelon, honeydew, cherries) – gotta keep things healthy, you know? I made peach blueberry cobbler (I think what my family calls a cobbler is technically a crisp, as it has an oatmeal topping, but we’re not going to change now). Mmmm…one of my all-time favourite summer desserts. So simple, yet so delicious! To go with the cobbler, I made homemade vanilla bean ice cream – I may never buy store-bought again! And to top it all off, I made “Better than you-know-what Cake” (I think you can all guess what “you-know-what” is without me telling you, right?Winking smile). For those of you unfamiliar with this dessert, it’s basically a chocolate cake with chocolate chips, soaked in sweetened condensed milk (AKA the Nectar of the Gods) and caramel sauce, then topped with Cool Whip and Skor bits. Not for the faint of heart! But I cut back on the oil and sugar in the cake and used low fat Cool Whip, so it’s practically calorie-free, right?IMG_2421

It was a great night – tasty food, warm weather (as the shiny-ness from my sweaty face in this picture shows), and great friends. If I’m going to splurge on some 80/20 food, this is my favourite way to do it – tasty, homemade, comfort food…mmm!

I’m not going to share all the recipes with you today – but I’ll start with Bobby’s Red Wine Onion Relish. This stuff was so good, I would have no problem eating it straight up (in fact, when I got my second plate, I took a spoonful and did just thatEmbarrassed smile). And it was actually easier to make than I expected. I would have thought that you had to caramelize the onions, but the recipe only calls for sautéing for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before I give you the recipe, let me just say, even if you don’t like wine (which I don’t), this stuff is GOOD. It definitely kicks the burger up a notch, and I think it would be good on any sandwich, or even grilled meat. You really should try it soon!

Red Wine Onion Relish from Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced (I used one red onion, one Vidalia, because I have lots right now and I love their sweet flavour)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine, vinegar, honey and thyme and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl, stir in the parsley, and let cool to room temperature. The relish can be made 2 days ahead and stored, covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes about 2 cups.

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Sautéing the onions. The 10 minute cook time and occasional stirring were much more low maintenance than caramelizing them!

 

 

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This is right after I removed from the heat and stirred in the parsley. I didn’t transfer to a bowl first (sorry Bobby), but by now, that shouldn’t surprise you, as you know what a rebel I am in the kitchen.

 

Ok, for the other recipes, I thought we’d try something fun. Leave a comment in the comments section or on facebook, or email me, and let me know which recipe you’d like to see on here first. Depending on the response I get, I will post whichever recipe gets the most votes in an upcoming post (don’t worry, I may share more than one). I thought I’d do a “readers’ choice” post later this week, where I share the recipe you choose and answer the questions I got last week (don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten)! So, the more you respond, the better the post will be!

Fellow Canadians, how did you celebrate the long weekend?

I did something stupid

29 Jul

…I’m not sure what. But somehow, I had a post almost completed, meant to press “ctrl B” to make something bold, evidently pressed something else, and DELETED AN ALMOST COMPLETED POST!!!!!!! Crying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying face Lame!

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But I am not going to cry about it (except through my crying face emoticons above), I am just going to move on, re-type everything (while obsessively hitting save) but probably do so in a less wordy fashion, to save precious time.

First up: shoe review. Yesterday was my first run in my new Asics. I completed a wet 13 km (last week, extreme heat, yesterday, rain) in these guys. I actually don’t mind running in rain, as long as it’s not a torrential downpour (although I’ve done that too). I’m happy to report no soreness today, and no blisters from “breaking them in” (I’ve done that before – not pretty). I can tell these guys are way more supportive than any shoe I’ve had before. So far, so good!

It’s been one of those weeks where I feel like I’ve barely been home or eaten in my own kitchen. Observe: Monday: cater pool party for Aunt. Tuesday: Lunch with Lynne the Landlady in London (like the alliteration there?). Wednesday: Help with funeral food at church, lunch with sister, quick gym workout, then get-together for dinner with family friends. Thursday: market, lunch/pool party with friends, then Bible study. So that means Friday morning is being spent at home in pyjamas, putting off my workout until lunch. Smile

IMG_2318So, my Wednesday lunch was with my sister at Boo’s Bistro, one of her and my brother’-in-law’s favourite restaurants. I had a Wagjag coupon for $50 worth of food for $25, so it was a no-brainer! Since I’m trying to save on words this time around, I’m just going to give a brief description and let the food speak for itself. But let me say this – while a heavy meal and 80/20 splurge, I can summarize the meal in one word: YUM!

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Appetizers: mango salad (mostly me) and crabcakes (sister. I had one bite – not bad for crab).

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Main course: burger (both) with apple, gouda, bacon, caramelized onion marmalade. Mixed greens (me), frites (sister, but also me a bit because she shared).

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Dessert: chocolate pot de creme over top of a sweet cherry compote (shared). Delicious and adorable.

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully, before the next food fest, I made a visit to The Athletic Club to go to UFC class, as it was the last day of my $19 one month membership. UFC is basically a high-intensity circuit class of weights and cardio. Example: burpees with a medicine ball: epic. I felt the burger at times (I am NOT used to eating such a big meal at lunch), but was glad I did the class afterward – I felt great!

No pictures of dinner – but it was a typical summer meal – beef on a bun, salads, corn on the cob, veggies and dip, cake, cake pops, fruit and ice cream. The amount I ate actually wasn’t a lot, and would have been fine if I hadn’t had such a huge lunch. I couldn’t resist a cake pop, ice cream and fruit for dessert. Needless to say, I was full when we left. Thank goodness for yesterday’s long run!

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My girlfriends and I potlucked for lunch yesterday. Nicky made tasty wraps with lettuce, tomatoes, corn and cheese in a dressing that was half Ranch and half salsa – yummy! Heather made a deliciously summer-y salad of cucumbers, peas, and onions in creamy cucumber dressing (which I haven’t had in forever and forgot how much I loved).

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I did dessert (naturally) and brought fresh cherries from the market and a quickie mini chocolate raspberry trifle I made (perfect size for a small group). Although trifle is usually a feed-a-crowd kinda dessert, you can easily make a smaller one if you have a small bowl (or do in wine glasses for individual servings and a cute presentation). And, as you know I was short on time this week, you can whip something like this up in 15 minutes if you’ve got the right stuff on hand (that’s all it took me). Here’s what I did:IMG_2314

Quick Chocolate Raspberry Trifle

Grab a bag of 5 chocolate zucchini muffins from your freezer (they may or may not have been there since last summer, but if you can’t use slightly freezer-burned muffins in a trifle for your girlfriends, where can you use them?).

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Thaw muffins in the microwave. Remove papers and crumble them (and please, eat any crumbs left on the paper liners like I did). Set aside.

 

 

IMG_2316Make a package of Jell-o fat-free chocolate instant pudding mix with just over 1 cup of skim milk. Gently whisk in about one cup of fat-free Cool Whip. Optional: add a couple teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. I just like the added depth of chocolate flavour.

In a small glass bowl, layer half the crumbled muffins, fresh raspberries from your garden (ok fine, a store if you have to) and half the pudding. Repeat the layers, top with more Cool Whip, garnish with strawberries. Put in the fridge – you’re done!

This can easily be made with any combo of pudding/cake (or muffins)/fruit. And trifle (especially when it contains chocolate) is always a crowd pleaser!

The weekend is full of a LOT more food and fun – but thankfully, it’s all home-based, so I don’t have to go anywhere. We’ve got company coming tonight, and then we’re having a HUGE BBQ party Sunday.

Canadian friends – what are your plans for the long weekend? Whatever they are, enjoy. Hopefully, if you’re lucky (like me) you will be surrounded by good food, family and friends!

I’m in love…

24 Jul

alton brown

…with this guy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…and also with this stuff.

 

 

Now, there is a link between the two, allow me to explain.

 

For those of you who don’t know, the guy at the top is Alton Brown, host of Food Network’s Good Eats, and Iron Chef America. Now, if you know me, you know that I choose odd people to have crushes on. People like Alton Brown, my dentist, random characters from made-for-television musicals, characters from audio dramas I listened to as a child, and Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World (I still have a crush on him and the series ended over 10 years ago). Don’t question, don’t judge, just indulge me, ok? I love me some Alton…I just love his dry sense of humour, food knowledge, and, of course, his recipes.

Which brings us to our second photo. By now you may have guessed it, the lemon ginger frozen yogurt you see above is a recipe from Alton Brown. Ladies and gentlemen, I must proclaim that this is my favourite recipe made so far with my new ice cream maker (after one spoonful, my mom agreed). It is perfectly tart and refreshing, and even if you don’t like lemon, I’d give this a try, as the lemon is present, but not overwhelming. I’ve only tried it on the day it was made, so I’m not sure how hard it will freeze, so I’ll have to report back on the texture. But oh, I just love this stuff so much! Here’s how you make it (my adaptations noted).

***Update: It DOES freeze pretty hard, but after softening up/a bit of microwaving to help things along, the texture is just fine, better than the other light ice creams/yogurts I’ve made.

Lemon Ginger Frozen YogurtIMG_2263

Adapted from Alton Brown (from Good Eats).

  • 8 cups plain yogurt (I used mostly fat-free, but a bit of 1 %)
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup (I didn’t have enough, so I used 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1/4 cup agave nectar…worked fine)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (original recipe called for 3/4, but I found 1/2 produced the nice tart frozen yogurt taste I like, but was still sweet enough for me)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup sliced crystallized ginger

Place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined colander (I used paper towels because I didn’t have cheesecloth – worked A-OK) set over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours. At end of 12 hours, discard the liquid and cheesecloth.

In a bowl combine the drained yogurt, corn syrup, sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, and fresh ginger. Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and process per manufacturer’s instructions, about 25 minutes, adding in the chopped crystallized ginger about 5 minutes before it finishes churning. Transfer frozen yogurt to an airtight container and freeze for 2 hours.

Alton says it makes a quart, but I had a little more than that (because I love you Alton, I’ll for give you).

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The yogurt and paper towel-lined colander over a bowl, ready to see action. FYI, 8 cups of plain yogurt is almost exactly 3 containers.IMG_2260

 

 

The yogurt begins its overnight transformation in the fridge. This is where I became very thankful for our extra fridge in the garage so I didn’t have to re-arrange all our miscellaneous condiments to make room for this in the kitchen fridge.

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The two photos above show what the yogurt looked like the morning after. From 8 cups of yogurt came almost 4 cups of liquid! Just for kicks, I tasted the liquid. It tasted like (gasp!) yogurt. Shocker.

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I just wanted to show you how thick the strained yogurt was (that’s a spatula standing straight up in it). I got between 4 and 5 cups I think. Essentially, you are making Greek yogurt at home. I’ve read about doing this before. I haven’t done a full cost analysis yet(sorry for the financial-speak, my mom’s an accountant/financial planner), but I think this may be cheaper than buying Greek yogurt, and really, it’s not that hard.

 

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On the left we see all the ingredients (minus the crystallized ginger) in the bowl before mixing. On the right, it’s all mixed together.

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Tip time! If you don’t have a microplane zester/grater, you’re gonna wanna get one before making this recipe. Trust me, it will make your life a lot easier. If you are still living on the dark side and grating lemons on a box grater (I’ve been there, I know), buy a microplane and step into the light. They’re not that expensive, and they do so much more than zest lemons and grate ginger. They also do Parmesan cheese, make chocolate shavings and grate fresh nutmeg. Really, I wouldn’t use fresh ginger without having one of these. Being as it’s so potent, you want it really finely grated.

Speaking of fresh ginger…tip # 2: (for this one, I give credit to my brother-in-law and Rachael Ray) When using fresh ginger, peel it, grate what you need, and put the rest in a resealable bag in the freezer. It’s actually much easier to grate this way (not as tough and fibre-y as fresh) and you won’t waste any. There you go!

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Adding the chopped, crystallized ginger right before the end of churning. Make sure you chop this stuff finely, it’s pretty potent!

 

 

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It’s ready! Now into the freezer you go to firm up for a little while.

 

 

 

 

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This last step is completely optional but highly recommended: enjoy your first scoop on the front porch while reading a magazine and listening to your “Summer Day” playlist on your ipod. Have most of it finished by the time “Soul Sister” by Train is done playing.

 

If you have an ice cream maker, MAKE THIS NOW! If you are lactose-intolerant, my sincere and deepest apologies. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, come over and enjoy some with me (Katie, (and anyone else) I’m sorry if this feeds your and Jeff’s ice cream maker envy).

It’s summer. And Sunday. Seize the day, blog friends (although I confess, I’m hoping it rains, as I am feeling rather shackled to the hose these days).

Heaven, I’m in Heaven…

15 Jul

“…and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak. And I seem to find the happiness I seek…” …when I’m stuffing local berries and cherries in my cheeks. Winking smile

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I hope you won’t mind the license I took with the last line of that verse. But the opening of “Cheek to cheek” is what was running through my head when I have all these beautiful berries at my disposal! Now, I must confess, I’ve been meaning to write this post for a week! These are the berries from last week’s market (and the mulberries from my house), but so much good food stuff happened that I had to tell you about, that before I knew it,  a whole week had passed and I was buying berries again! The strawberries are now out of season, but everything else is still around, so now I have a a whole week of beautiful berry eats to share. Let’s get started!IMG_2041

Of course, the berries and cherries make a mean addition to the typical yogurt bowl. Depending on the time I have and what’s staring at me in the fridge, I vary the mix accordingly. But I have had this same breakfast several times: 1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt, touch of Splenda, splash of vanilla, fresh berries and/or cherries (I believe this particular bowl even had some of my mulberries), topped with 1/2 cup cereal (either some of my US finds or my Costco stuff). Speaking of US finds, see the coffee bag in the background? It’s Starbucks Cinnamon coffee, which I bought my mom for her birthday at Target. I chill the old brewed coffee and use it for my iced latte/coffee concoctions. Mixed with unsweetened original Almond Breeze and a touch of Splenda, that stuff makes a mean drink!

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The berries also found their way into a nice cold bowl of overnight oats – which, by the way, are perfect for breakfast after a hot run! It’s been a week since I made this bowl, but I think it had strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The complete mix is:

  • 1 heaping cup fresh berries
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened original Almond Breeze
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a touch of Splenda

Combine all ingredients in your bowl of choice. Cover, let set overnight, and a cold, berry-licious breakfast is served!

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Question: what is the perfect topping for a blueberry breakfast thin? Answer: 1/4 cup light ricotta, mixed with vanilla and Splenda; and lots of fresh blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, of course (plus more berries on the side). Throw in a cafe mocha to complete the deal, and you’ve got yourself a tasty breakfast!

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Think I’m all out of mixed berry breakfast ideas? Think again! Why not stuff ‘em inside a Flat-out wrap, add some cream cheese, and call it a mixed berry breakfast quesadilla (for the full how-to, check out my strawberry version). Throw some cherries on the side to maximize your breakfast’s fruitiness. And hey, why not another cafe mocha, IMG_2071made in your oh-so-cute Anthropologie mug (you can make one in a mug that’s not from Anthropologie, but that may decrease the cuteness quotient of your morning meal). I had to include this quesadilla close-up so you could get a better look at the goodness on the inside.

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And you already know this, but of course, those cherries would be fabulous in some black forest ice cream, with even more fresh cherries (and hot fudge) on top.

 

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Fresh berries, plus some stewed rhubarb and some fat-free Reddi-Whip, are the perfect way to perk up a frozen strawberry square that’s been in the freezer for a few weeks, FYI.

 

 

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Don’t feel like making a whole batch of ice cream? Do what I did at lunch the other day. Mix up 2 containers of Source Raspberry Chocolate (from the Dessert Selection) with a heaping spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder, add in a cup of pitted cherries…simply divine! Black forest in a bowl…pitting the cherries is the hardest part!

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The next treat I’m going to share contains Saskatoon berries, not shown at the top but pictured in the right. If you’ve never tried Saskatoon berries, you should! They are sort of like a blueberry with a hint of almond flavour – delicious and very unique. I used them to make a dessert that some might call a cobbler, but I prefer to call a Bubbling Berry Biscuit Bake. If you don’t have/can’t find Saskatoon berries, any kind will do.

Bubbling Berry Biscuit Bake – serves one

  • 1 cup berries of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons Bisquick Heart Smart baking mix (this is from the US, and don’t judge me, I had it for a recipe…but you could use regular Bisquick, in the end, the calorie count isn’t that different)
  • 2 teaspoons Splenda, or sweetener of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk (could use regular milk if you don’t have – I just had some leftover in the fridge and enjoy the flavour)

Preheat oven to 375 **(update: start at 400 instead). Combine berries, cornstarch and Splenda in an oven-safe dish (I had to use this tiny saucepan because I couldn’t find the dish I wanted, but I think it looked pretty cute in the end).

In a small dish, combine baking mix and buttermilk. Dollop this mixture over the berries.

Bake for 20 minutes. After this time, it still wasn’t browned liked I’d hoped, so I put the oven on convect and increased the temperature to 400, and baked for 5 more minutes ***(update: 20 minutes at 400 is exactly perfect).

Let cool slightly, then enjoy with a big scoop of light vanilla ice cream (optional but SO good) and garnish with fresh mint (also optional, but necessary if you are a food blogger/a little OCD/enjoy pretty things).

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Mixing up the biscuit topping.

 

 

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Now we are ready to go into the oven.

 

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My, don’t you look delicious?!

 

 

 

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Vanilla ice cream, fresh mint, and a cup of Earl Grey tea seal the deal – I must devour you!

 

 

 

 

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This guy didn’t last long – oh. so. GOOD! This is a great summer dessert – like I said, use any berry you want, or even other fruits, once they are in season (hello, peaches, plums and apricots). Would be a nice end to a summer dinner party I think. Perfectly portioned and party-worthy, but also easy (and healthy) enough to be an every day treat.

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Finally, if you don’t have the time or inclination to make any of the delicious suggestions above (although you really should), you can decide that, after all, life is a bowl of cherries, and why shouldn’t I enjoy them on their own, in all their glory? Perfect summer snack!

 

 

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you have a great weekend…and please, if you have the chance, visit a farmers’ market and eat locally this weekend. I promise you won’t regret it! What have you done with your fresh market finds lately?

 

Naughty and Nice

14 Jul

So, you’ve heard this before. The name of the blog is Hungry Healthy Hilary. And while I am always hungry, I try to always be healthy, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t always happen. As for the title of today’s post, I’ve made two chocolate IMG_2130things this week – one is a little more indulgent – the naughty. And one can be enjoyed on a more regular basis – the nice.

Let’s go naughty first – I’m talking cheesecake pops! Now, to be fair, I didn’t make these for me. They were for the same meal as the fruit bouquet and the lemon thyme biscuits. So while I did eat one (and may have a couple more, as the recipe made A LOT), I am not the sole benefactor, and thankfully, I don’t have all 56 of these beauties kicking around my house – that would be trouble!

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The recipe is courtesy of one of my favourite decadent dessert cookbooks – Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. There are just so many fun and over-the-top recipes in there. If you want to indulge, this book is it! And since kids were part of the group I’d be making these for, I figured they’d be a huge hit (they were – and I don’t think the adults minded either Winking smile). My only “complaint” was that the recipe made WAY  more than it said. 30 to 40 turned out to be 56!!!! Guess they were supposed to be bigger?!? So I’m taking the 14 or so I have left here to my ladies’ Bible study tonight. I figured with a group of girls, chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick will go over well, don’tcha think? (so if any of my Bible study gals are reading this, you know what I’m bringing tonight).

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From Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

Makes 30-40 (or 56 in my case)

  • 5 – 8 ounce/250 g packages cream cheese, at room temperature (you’ll notice I used reduced-fat, so this is practically health food Winking smile)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • boiling water as needed
  • 8 inch lollipop sticks (30 to 40 or 56, depending on how many pops you get)
  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate coating (the disk shapes – I couldn’t find these at my grocery store, so I had to use chocolate chunks – it turned out find)
  • decorations of your choice (I used sprinkles, mini m&ms and graham cracker crumbs)

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer set a low speed, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour and salt until smooth. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in vanilla and cream.

Lightly grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan) (I didn’t have one, so used a 9  inch square pan). Pour the cheesecake batter into the cake plan and place in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan (my roasting pan wasn’t big enough to fit my square pan, so I used my large bar stoneware pan). Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes (mine took over an hour, and I still think it could have been firmer. Likely this was due to using a smaller pan).

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or overnight.

When cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2 ounce balls and place on a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet (if you don’t have a cookie scoop, you MUST get one for this task – it works perfectly) . Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 to 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate coating. Place half of the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir. If the chocolate is not completely melted, microwave for 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth (this is what the recipe says, I microwaved less than half the chocolate for 2 minutes, then stirred in some unmelted pieces until they melted and the mixture was smooth. I melted more chocolate as needed).

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Hold the pop over the melted chocolate and shake off any excess. Place the pop on a clean parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet to set. If using decorations, sprinkle them on right away, as the chocolate sets quickly due to the frozen pops. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate as needed.

Refrigerate the pops until ready to serve (and store any leftovers in the refrigerator).

These would be great party food. Kids would love them, but they’d also be fun for bridal or bachelorette parties, birthdays, anniversaries, you name it! Also: they’re delicious! And you can personalize them by using decorations of your choice.

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On the left is just the cream cheese and sugar. On the right is in the middle of adding the eggs….beat, beat, beat!

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Hmm….5 packages of cream cheese, 2 cups sugar, 5 eggs and 2 egg yolks….I’m not sure if this is decadent enough yet. We better add some heavy cream just in case! Winking smile

 

 

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My square pan inside its water bath (in case you ever wonder why I have so much stoneware, I do love it, but I also used to be a Pampered Chef consultant).

 

 

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Let the scooping begin! I found it worked better if I let the scoop do all the work and I just left my hands out of things. The dangerous thing about a recipe like this is that no one will know how many cheesecake bits and bites you sample (strictly for quality control, you understand).

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These guys are scooped, sticked, and ready to chill out in the freezer.

 

 

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Chocolate is melted, decorations are set, let’s go for a dip!

 

 

 

 

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Don’t forget the sprinkles!

 

 

 

 

Now onto the “nice” chocolate item. I’ve IMG_2146already mentioned the copious amounts of zucchini that my garden produces. That means lots of zucchini baking ‘round these parts. I am about to share with you my favourite zucchini muffin recipes. It’s a recipe for chocolate zucchini muffins that I got off of the Weight Watchers Community Forum waaaay back in 2004. It comes from the kitchen of “Wootsy.”

Wootsy, I don’t know who you are or where you are, but if you’re reading this – thank you! Thank you for giving me a chocolate zucchini recipe that contains no oil, whole wheat flour, and still tastes amazing, and that I love with all my heart. I thought the 2 cups of white sugar seemed a bit much, so I cut down just a touch when I made these yesterday (I could hear the whole healthy living blog world “tsk tsk”-ing me for using 2 cups of REFINED. WHITE. SUGAR…..the horror!), but then I got to thinking – this makes a HUGE batch (30 muffins), so really, when you consider that, 2 cups isn’t SO much.

Anyway, thanks to Wootsy (and me), you too can enjoy these delicious muffins (in fact, Donna has already – I surprised her with some after UFC class last night). If you need zucchini to make them, you know who to call! Please, please make these. Like all zucchini baked goods, they are incredibly moist, and they are totally delicious, and can be enjoyed for breakfast, snack or dessert! Also: this is a one bowl recipe – everybody’s favourite!

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One tip before I launch into the recipe. I always use a regular old box grater to grate my zucchini. With a little elbow grease, the zucchini you saw above was reduced to what you see on the right.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins – Makes 30 regular muffins (or 24 plus 14  mini muffins. I like to make a few minis for snacking.)

From Wootsy on the Weight Watchers Community Recipe Forum in 2004

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  • 3 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (which conveniently, is almost exactly 2 individual cups)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tins with paper cups or spray with non-stick spray.

Sift (which I almost NEVER do, including here. Just use a fork/whisk/slotted spoon – save yourself some time) flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. Mix with remaining ingredients until just combined (did you know that over-mixing muffin/quick bread batter can result in a domed top? I learned that from Mrs. Douglas’ food and nutrition class back in grade 9).

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (about 10 for the minis) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (watch out for the melted chocolate chips though, they can mess with ya Winking smile). Cool and dig in and/or share with loved ones, as it makes a HUGE batch.

*Note: as with all muffins, these babies freeze beautifully.

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Blogging sin: I forgot to take a picture of the dry ingredients before I started adding the rest. So here’s the mixed dry ingredients with the shredded zucchini on top and nothing else added.

 

 

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Batter is mixed up and ready for action. And just because these are “healthy” muffins, it doesn’t mean the batter’s not delicious … not that I would know or anything, ‘cause I NEVER eat batter (if you believed that, you obviously haven’t been following this blog very long).

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Muffin cups filled up and ready to go. Let’s get these guys in the oven and get this party started!

 

 

 

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All done. It’s muffin time!

 

 

 

 

Ok, I promise, I’m done! Kudos to you if you made it all the way to the bottom of this post. It turned out a little longer than I thought, but I just had to share both of these recipes with you, and I thought the naughty and nice was a fun idea. So you can decide if you want to be naughty (although I truly don’t think it’s naughty to enjoy little indulgences like these every so often, and their small size makes it easy to treat yourself) or nice. Or be like me and do both!

When you make indulgent treats, do you gobble them down yourself, or try and get them out of the house as soon as possible? Or do you just avoid making decadent desserts altogether?

6 months ago today….

8 Jul

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…I wrote this post, and began my blogging journey at Hungry Healthy Hilary (which began as Hungry Happy Healthy, but was changed due to URL availability).

I’d been an avid healthy living and food blog reader for a couple of years. I had even been encouraged to start a blog by a family member (I tried and gave up several years back). But on January 8 2011, I finally took the plunge.

I’ve read on other blogs how blogging has changed the blogger’s life, but you really can’t understand until you become a blogger yourself and become part of this amazing community.

If you told me six months ago that I would be planning a 9 hour road trip to a Blogging Conference with someone I had never met (Donna) and have made a friend halfway across the country (Katie), I don’t know if I would have believed you….but I am SO glad that both things are true! I look forward to many more months and years of HHH and the amazing connections that come out of it. And of course, a HUGE thank-you to you, my readers, for for reading all of my ramblings. Without you, I’d just be talking to myself. Knowing that I inspire or help you even just a little makes what I do worthwhile.

Happy 6 months, HHH!

IMG_2018In honour of my blog birthday, I’m sharing the cake recipe that I made for my mom’s birthday on Wednesday. I made a chocolate cappuccino cake. The idea came from this PC Blue Menu Vanilla Latte cold drink mix I bought last summer, and have only used once or twice. While the stuff is good, I’ve come to the conclusion that for the same (or less) calories, I can make a cold coffee-ish drink that I like just as much (if not better). So what to do with the mix? Put it in a cake filling, naturally!

For the chocolate cake, I took an old WW recipe from the oldie-but-goodie All Things Sweet book I’ve mentioned before. Even though it was a light recipe, it had 2 cups of sugar, which seemed like a lot to me, so I reduced the sugar to one cup and used 3/4 cup Splenda…tasted fine to me. I also used plain yogurt instead of sour cream (‘cause that’s what I had), and baked 3 thin layers instead of 2 regular-sized ones (I wanted lots of room for that filling). Below is the recipe as I made it (I didn’t take a pic of the cake ingredients ‘cause I was living on the edge and feeling rebellious…crazy, I know).

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The filling was just a variation of the stuff that I made for my grandma’s birthday rhubarb angel food cake, only I used the latte mix instead of Splenda, and added vanilla extract and cinnamon at the end (those two were last minute additions, as I thought that the filling just lacked something, hence why they have their own photo). Please note that the quantities listed are as I would plan to make it. In actuality, it was slightly less  than 1/2 cup yogurt and slightly more than 2 cups Cool Whip, as I was in a “I-want-to-use-it-up-and-not-put-away-any-extra-or-open-a-new-container” kind of mood when I made the filling. Winking smile

Chocolate Cappucino Cake (cake recipe adapted from Weight Watchers: All Things Sweet)

Cake

Cooking spray

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup Splenda

10 tablespoons light margarine (recipe calls for softened light butter, which I find difficult to find, I used the light Becel margarine in a tub – it turned out fine)

3/4 cup egg substitute

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup fat-free plain yogurt (or sour cream)

3/4 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling

1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened

2 cups fat-free Cool Whip

2/3 cup PC Blue Menu Vanilla Latte Instant Drink Mix (although I’m sure any brand of instant vanilla cappuccino/latte mix would work)

A splash of vanilla extract

A couple dashes cinnamon

Optional: cocoa powder to dust and fresh strawberries to decorate (I also think chocolate shavings and/or chocolate-coated espresso beans would be lovely)

Preheat oven to 350. Coat  3 (8 inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; set aside.

Beat sugar, Splenda and butter/margarine until well-blended (by hand or with a mixer – you choose. I did by hand). Gradually add egg substitute; beat well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Gently stir in boiling water and vanilla.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 21 minutes (if you know me, you know I don’t like to be exact in my kitchen timing or alarm clock setting, so you can bake for a nice round number, but proceed at your own risk – you’ve been warned), or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10-15 minutes in pans on a wire rack, then turn cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

To make filling, combine softened cream cheese and yogurt with a spatula, stir in the latte mix. Gently fold in Cool Whip, then the vanilla and cinnamon.

To assemble, put one layer on a cake plate and evenly spread with filling. Repeat with remaining two layers. If desired, dust with cocoa powder and garnish with berries. Store cake covered in the refrigerator. ***Cut with a serrated (bread) knife – after a few hours in the fridge, it cuts beautifully.

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IMG_2021Side note about putting this cake in the fridge. Since our fridge was full of birthday supper food (which I will potentially share in upcoming posts), I had to take the cake out to our extra garage fridge. Since it was on a tall, covered, footed cake plate, I needed to remove a shelf from the fridge. However, my car was too far forward, so I had to go grab my keys and back up a bit. First attempt, not far enough. Second attempt, I could just barely get the shelf out, but in the process of doing so, knocked out a glass jar of maraschino cherries and it broke on the garage floor! Sad smile You can bet that was a treat to clean up! I just thought you’d enjoy one of the many kitchen mishaps in the life of a food blogger.Winking smile

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This question is mainly for my fellow bloggers (although anyone can put in their two cents): How has blogging changed your life?

Oh, and HAPPY FRIDAY everyone!

My New Toy

5 Jul

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Last week, I bought myself something I’ve been wanting for a couple of years now, a desire that has popped up the last couple of summers. Something that makes cool, creamy treats at the flip of a switch, without needing loads of ice and rock salt (like the super-old school model in our basement from back in the day). In case you haven’t guessed, I bought myself an ice cream maker?

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Why now? Well, in case you missed it, I’ve been wanting one for a couple of years. And, I wanted to celebrate my first end-of-the-school-year as a teacher. And, I still had a bit of tax return money saved, and wanted to spend it on something fun that I would remember. What says fun more than an ice cream maker?!

Now, while I do plan to test out some decadently delicious recipes with this baby. My first two attempts were from my Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook. I know, I know, what a killjoy – I’ve got this new machine that can make amazing ice cream and I am making HEALTHY desserts first?!?! Seriously though, this stuff was pretty darn good. Better still, only 4 ingredients in the vanilla frozen yogurt and 3 in the chocolate ice cream – doesn’t get any better than that.

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From the Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook

Makes 5 (1/2 cup) servings, 120 calories, 9 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g fibre per serving

2 cups plain fat-free Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons light agave nectar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine (I just did it in the container I planned to freeze it in to save clean-up). Spoon the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker that holds at least 2 quarts. Make the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s directions. Serve immediately or freeze for harder ice cream.

*Note: the recipe says that the consistency and flavour are best when fresh, and that the yogurt becomes harder and less creamy over time. The day after, this stuff was HARD AS A ROCK, and needs to be softened, either in the microwave or on the counter, before serving again, and even then, it’s pretty hard and a bit tricky to eat – still delicious though.

Super Simple Chocolate Ice Cream

IMG_1972From The Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook

Makes 5 (1/2 cup) servings, 100 calories, 6 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, less than 1 g fat, 1 g fibre per serving

1 can (12 oz or 370 mL) fat-free evaporated milk

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons light agave nectar

Pour 1/4 cup of the evaporated milk and the cocoa powder into a medium mixing bowl (or just use container you’ll freeze it in). Using a whisk, mix the ingredients until very well combined and no lumps remain. Slowly whisk in the remaining milk followed by the agave until well-combined and smooth.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an ice cream maker that holds at least 2 quarts. Prepare the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s directions.

* Note: This ice cream took longer to freeze than the frozen yogurt ( I think because it was thinner and not as cold to begin with as the yogurt) but didn’t come out rock-solid the next day. IMG_1974

I also made some chocolate “fudge” sauce from my Biggest Loser book. All you do is whisk together 1/2 cup agave nectar with 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder. The longer this stuff sits, the thicker and fudgier it gets.

 

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Mixing ice cream ingredients: vanilla yogurt on the left, chocolate on the right.

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Finished and ready to go into the freezer! Vanilla on the left, chocolate on the right!

So…all this ice cream and sauce. What to do? Have a Biggest Loser-style sundae party, naturally (trust me, it’s better than it sounds, I promise!).

Our “fixins” were the two ice creams, fudge sauce, a fresh batch of stewed IMG_1979rhubarb (which I have started making in the microwave, a bit quicker and easier, FYI), fresh strawberries and fresh raspberries. I had a little bit of everything in my cute bowl purchased at the new Anthropologie (love that store) in the Walden Galleria on last week’s excursion.

 

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Next day (same bowl, slightly different contents): hard vanilla frozen yogurt, raspberries and strawberries, just a touch of light chocolate syrup, a fat-free biscotti purchased in Buffalo and a squirt of fat-free ReddiWhip (if Chef Devin Alexander, author of the BL book was reading this, she’d probably be horrified to see that I topped her beautiful, pure, natural desserts with a processed aerosol product….sorry Chef Devin)!

All in all, good recipes, and great ice cream maker. You just store the bowl part in the freezer (it has some sort of gel or something that freezes inside of it, hence why there’s no need to add ice) and then pop it out when you’re ready to use. I’m just storing mine in the big freezer so I can make ice cream at a moment’s notice.

This is where I ask for your expertise. Anyone with an ice cream maker have any tips or tricks? Any favourite recipes (healthy or not)? Please share!