Friday, May 31, 2013

Overnight Earl Grey Tea Porridge

I have a strange love affair with oatmeal (or porridge? Call it what you will).

I could eat it every day, and it makes me feel awesome. Colour me surprised when I learned I could make it even more awesome thanks to Natural Vitality's Natural Calm packets, which help our bodies sort of their magnesium and calcium intake, resulting in body harmony and happiness. Natural Vitality contacted me recently to let me know about an awesome recipe contest they have on for their products***. I love finding ways to use new things in recipes, especially when it comes to vitamins.

I have these terrible memories of after I had my leg surgery (my tibia bones were restructured when I was 9) and taking a ton of disgusting chalky vitamins and totally hating life. Part, yes, because of the terrible pain and the whole "learning how to walk again" thing, but a lot of it had to do with choking back the awful pills and vitamins I needed. I admit -- I was nervous to try these ones and waited to judge them harshly if they brought back any more of those memories. But I was really surprised to find that not only do they taste kind of awesome (and come in lots of flavours), but they dissolve in water and you don't have to deal with any textures. Phew!

I thought about making a smoothie or some other kind of drink, but then I remembered how much I love eating stuff (expect vitamins). So I decided to incorporate it into one of my favourite breakfasts - earl grey tea oatmeal.

This oatmeal is one of my go-to recipes. It's relaxing, full of flavour on its own, but pairs well with chocolate, berries, honey, or even a little brown sugar. I usually just cook it up in the morning, but adapted it to an overnight oatmeal for this recipe. You just have to put it in a container over night, with no need to cook it. If caffeine isn't your thing, you can use decaffeinated, and still get the same results. But I like a little kick in the morning.

***Disclosure: I was provided products by Natural Vitality to contribute to their recipe contest. My opinion of the products, however, are my own.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Corn Dog Muffins

I lovelovelove trashy eats, especially ones that are fried and on a stick.

I remember my first corn dog. I was about 16 and at a friend's house. He grabbed a box of Pogo's out of the freezer and popped them in the oven, as I stared with bewilderment at this beautiful pre-made creation. I had never had a corn dog before -- can you believe it? After briefly cursing my parents for failing me in the food education department, I ate about 3 of them. And then felt like crap. But I knew, despite the stomach pains and food sweats, that I had stumbled upon something wonderful.

Since then I've refined my fair food palate and much prefer the non-store-bought variety. But corn dogs can be messy and annoying, and I can be lazy and in need of instant gratification, so I whipped up a batch of corn dog muffins instead when the craving for something delightfully trashy hit this week.

They don't quite hit the same spot the greasy version on a stick does, but they are really, really tasty and totally capture the flavour of corn dogs. I think these will be popping up in my kitchen for a long time to come.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Guest Post: Root Beer Float Cookies

One of my favourite childhood food memories has to be the iconic root beer floats from A&W. I remember stirring the creamy and bubbling cold beverage while my feet dangled over diner-style chairs, and willing myself to finish the very large portion so not even a little drop would go to waste.

I was so excited when Amy from Foods for the Soul approached me about sharing one of her recipes for Root Beer Float Cookies. In her words: "These taste just like the drink, but in a not-so-messy cookie form! They’re so addicting that you might want to consider making a double batch." I knew I needed to share them and make them ASAP. So without further ado, I give you Amy and her awesome cookies.


Thank you for having me today, Leanne! I’m so happy that you wanted to feature my cookies on your wonderful blog.

We go through a lot of root beer at our house. I rarely drink a sip, but my guy can finish off an entire 2-liter by himself in a day! He usually spreads the soda out over two or three, but the recycling guys at the dump practically know us by name…

Occasionally over the summer, I start craving a root beer float, and my guy promises to save me a glass. But by the time I walk the vanilla ice cream back from the store, the scorching heat wave leaves him parched, and he polishes off the root beer without me!

Even though I don’t mind adding some strawberries and chocolate syrup to my ice cream instead, I decided to make a dessert we both could enjoy, even if he already drank all of the soda. I came up with root beer float cookies, and they disappeared even faster than his regular 2-liters!

Want to check out more of Amy's awesome desserts? Follow her on Twitter, and find her on Facebook, too!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

(Nearly) Fat Free Lemon Cookies

It's hard to get back on track after a break - no matter how small.

The man and I were in Kelowna over the long weekend to visit his family (May 20th was Victoria Day in Canada) and we did absolutely nothing. Like, really nothing. We slept in, pitter pattered around the mall, mini golfed - an activity that spurred us to do even less since it aggravated my hip injury - and went to a movie. I didn't even have to cook! This for a family that usually fills weekends with overflowing work (I'm one of those people that pokes away at work all weekend), baseball, soccer, playdates, and all the normal stuff that comes with a hectic family life was absolute paradise.

Oh, and we got completely addicted to Pocket Planes. (Have you played?! You must.)

Back home on Tuesday I stood in my kitchen, buried under a massive to-do list, and made these cookies to get back in the groove. I have to admit, it was awesome to eat something homemade again, despite the unwelcome effort after a weekend off.

These lemon cookies are practically fat free, and are light and fluffy lemon delights that kind of remind me of meringues. To be honest, we actually prefer them without the icing - they're too sweet with it for our tastes. The man and boy (and I) were eating them as they were being lifted off the pan, and they were gone so quickly I had to make a double batch the next day. Definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summer Lemon Tart

Let's just close our eyes and pretend it's already summer, yes?

If you're in Vancouver, it hasn't been that hard to do the last few weeks. High temperatures had me skipping around in sun dresses, eating way too many hot dogs, and thinking of all the delicious summer treats that lay ahead.

Aside from the awesome weather (which now seems to have disappeared), know how else I can tell we're nearing the sunny season? Spiders. So many damn spiders up in my house. There are benefits to a ground floor apartment (less elevator BS, a little yard, easy escape from fires), but then there are the spiders and bugs. Definitely one of the downsides.

Thankfully, none of that can deter me from making a sunny dessert - this easy lemon tart that's the perfect combination of sweet and sour. The crust is buttery and slightly sweet, and the lemon curd filling is refreshing and light. It's a bit messy, but that's kind of what summer is all about.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Frogs in a Bog Cupcakes

This will be the only time it's okay to have a fly in your food.

These frog cupcakes were part of a wedding order I filled this week, and possibly one of my favourite cupcake designs for quite some time. The frogs are just so cute and kind of dumb looking - they melt my heart.

I based them off of a few designs I saw floating around, but opted for white icing (food colouring squicks me out) with some bright blue sparkles for the water. 

Want to see more adorable cupcakes or have a sneak peek at what's going on behind the blog? Join me on Instagram!

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Side Dish: For the Love of Baking

There's certain stillness to baking.

To combining ingredients with the perfect combination of precision and patience, creating something whole from so many fragmented parts. To having something that - no matter what - it will always yield the same results.

My boyfriend will gladly attest to my somewhat, um, exacting nature. I can be uptight and neurotic as hell, and I correct things all the time. But I swear I have a good reason: in my day job as a writer, there's little room for error. Words are placed with precision. And when used correctly, their order and meaning demands things from us. Whether it's our attention, our humanity, or something else entirely, it certainly isn't haphazard. And from a pile of words - and we have dictionaries full of thousands of them - we create something meaningful and connecting; we create something we can share in.

Baking, really, isn't so different to me. There’s an incredible and powerful science and art behind baking, from the amazing marriage between basic chemical reactions that create our treats and the beautiful creations we turn it into.

Flour, butter, sugar, leaveners: these make cake. But we make more than just cake when we combine them. When we bake we resurface memories, whether it’s licking sweet frosting from beaters snuck from the bowl when Mom wasn’t watching, waking up with sleep-filled eyes to the smell of cinnamon from fresh baked rolls, or that amazing dessert from the best first date, perfectly recreated. We connect with others - our neighbours, families, and friends. And we create, unleashing imagination on one very tasty canvas.

Of course, I bake for other reasons, too, like having difficult food allergies. I bake because I’m concerned about ingredients, additives, and dyes. I bake to save money. And I bake because I love to brighten people's days with cookies and other treats.

But it all comes back to that stillness. That calm. That serenity that washes over me as I knead dough and shape it into something that, very soon, will become something so much more.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dairy-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I never thought I'd meet a cookie made with oil that I'd like.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (made with canola oil!)

But I like this. I like this a lot.

Made with canola oil, these dairy-free chocolate chip cookies have a glossy exterior with a slight crispy crunch that's hiding a warm gooey centre. I added a bit of nutmeg to give them a more complex flavour and mask the absence of delicious, delicious butter, and I also threw in some cocoa nibs for a healthier alternative to only chocolate chips. Definitely good decisions, as I wouldn't alter this recipe any further for my family's preferences. They're sweet, chocolately, and I don't miss the dairy one little bit.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (made with canola oil!)


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