Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chocolate chip cookie wedges

I have just added the Recipage feature to my blog. I really hope you’ll like it. I first saw it on another blog, and I liked the way that it produces a printable page for each recipe that also includes a photo of the end result. I don’t know about you, but I like to see what I’m trying to make.

I am launching the feature with one recipe—delicious vegan chocolate chip “cookie” wedges. I am still doing my cleanse, but, as I said, I haven’t given up sugar, and who doesn’t need a little treat now and then? And, these little treats are made with spelt flour rather than traditional white flour. Feel free to use white flour if you like. 

These wedges are chewy, with a dense oat-y texture and a yummy chocolate chip cookie taste. I love the combination of oats and chocolate, almost as much as I love chocolate and peanut butter.

Try serving them warm with a little chocolate drizzle and some vanilla ice cream.

Let me know what you think of the new feature and of the recipe!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Wedges

by Joann MacDonald
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert vegan vegetarian nut-free chocolate chips cake cookie

Ingredients
  • 1 cup light spelt flour
  • 3 cups quick oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 tsp egg replacer in 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, beat margarine, sugars, egg replacer, soy milk and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. Add the flour mixture gradually, mixing on low speed until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
Press dough firmly into greased or sprayed 10 inch springform pan.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden on top. Cool before cutting into wedges.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life

Once again, I am posting a Friday look at our week in cell phone photos.

The weather has been completely erratic and mostly miserable, and I know us “northern” types are starting to feel the pain. Some sun once in a while would be lovely.

Hang in there friends. Spring is around the corner…sort of.

In the meantime, enjoy some simple pleasures, like great friends, good books, a warm fire, maybe some nice wine and some delicious food (of course).





All my life I have lived within about an hour’s drive of the CN Tower in Toronto. But, I never actually visited the thing. Last Sunday, teachers and their families got in free—a perfect way to save yourself about $100. See that first pic? Time to get my car cleaned.

At 553.33 m (1,815 ft, 5 inches), it is the world’s tallest tower. I had some trouble standing on the glass floor, I’ll tell you. It’s darn windy and cold on that outdoor observation level—ten degrees colder than ground level, my son reported.

In terms of food this week, I have been cleansing. I had this great smoothie while I was shopping at the local health food store—veggies and fruit and dates…yum. I made a favourite veggie and rice soup, using a recipe from Robin Robertson’s One-Dish Vegetarian Meals. I added some beans for protein. My daughter made a special “cupcake” of her own creation the other day—applesauce, cut up apples and red sprinkles. She said that if I put it on my blog I would be sure to win the Top 25 Vegan & Vegetarian Mom Blogs contest…so vote for me and make my little girl happy. J


This was the view from my back door on Sunday—unfortunately, the next day it rained and melted the rink. At least they had the good sense to take the nets home. Today? Freezing rain. You never know what you're going to get around here.
Linking up with:
life rearranged

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The cleanse continues

In search of better health and wellness, I continue with my gentle cleansing routine.

I am starting each day with a mix of water, 2 tsp powdered psyllium husks, 2 tsp bentonite clay and a little bit of cranberry juice. I’m finding that I am very thirsty, so I think you need to drink (much) more water than the psyllium package recommends.
My breakfast is still mainly quick quinoa flakes or quick cooking steel cut oats with fresh blueberries, sliced banana, 1 tbsp ground flax and vanilla almond milk.

Because, as we know, one of life’s essential pleasures is food, I am still enjoying little treats along the way:

·         EnviroKidz peanut butter rice crispy bars

·         a dairy-free, gluten-free chocolate peanut butter bar from the health food store (so yummy)

·         a smoothie made with spinach, kale, banana, dates and strawberries (also from the health food store)

·         a spelt flour banana muffin from a local bakery

·         clementines, bananas

·         my favourite oatmeal berry bars (made with spelt flour)

Recent lunches:

1.       Sesame rice crackers with dairy-free baba ganoush; green salad with carrots, walnuts and craisins; dried apricots

2.       Riceworks rice crisps with hummus

3.       Leftovers of the following dinners—don’t you love a hot lunch?

Recent dinners:

1.       Extra-firm tofu sliced, marinated with Premier Japan’s gluten-free teriyaki sauce, olive oil and garlic powder, and baked; VitaSpelt pasta elbows with chickpea and tomato sauce (recipe was on the pasta box); salad

2.       Minestrone soup

3.       Brown rice topped with sweet potato and lentil stew (using a recipe from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone)
By the way, I did throw in a couple of rum and ginger ales on Sunday. Apparently that’s a gluten-free combo!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A kick-starting cleanse

Okay, I admit it. Christmas is over.

I started making all kinds of sweets before Christmas and I have kept it up into the new year. My body has been protesting, so I have decided to kick my sluggish system into gear by doing a little bit of a cleanse. Yes, I am jumping on that bandwagon.
I am not totally giving up sugar—don’t get crazy now. And, I am not doing any fasting—what joy is there in a life without food? I am simply staying away from wheat and dairy. I am not going totally gluten-free—I am still enjoying spelt and kamut flours and pastas. I, like many people, find they are easier to tolerate than regular wheat products.

I am also cleansing my system with twice-daily “shakes” (they are really too disgusting to be called that) made from water, 2 tsp powdered psyllium husks, 2 tsp bentonite clay and a little bit of cranberry juice.
Here’s a look at the menu I enjoyed on the first day of my cleanse. It was really easy and didn’t require more work than usual.

Breakfast
My breakfast is basically the same every day, either oats or quick quinoa flakes (pictured).

Quick cooking steel cut oats with fresh blueberries, sliced banana, 1 tbsp ground flax and vanilla almond milk
1 tsp Natural Calm magnesium supplement dissolved in warm water

Lunch
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (to calm my stomach)

Buckwheat sweet potato noodles with gluten-free teriyaki sauce
Sol Original veggie burger with organic ketchup (no bun)
Corn


½ package Emergen-C vitamin C supplement in water
Dinner

My daughter wasn’t feeling well, and had a craving for pancakes, so:
Spelt flour banana blueberry flax pancakes with Earth Balance margarine and maple syrup
Scrambled eggs


1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Evening
Lundberg Farms Sante Fe Barbecue rice chips
Traditional Medicinals Eater’s Digest tea (the best tea ever for digestive issues)


Add to that lots of water and some vitamin D (because we aren’t getting any sun right about now)
Anybody else cleansing? I’d love to hear your plan.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life

Once again, I am celebrating this week’s simple pleasures. This sweet little poem kind of sums things up, I think.

“It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ’preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.”
—Edgar A. Guest


We decided to treat ourselves to a platter of veg sushi last weekend. I whipped up some miso and tofu soup to go with it. Shockingly quick and easy, with a recipe from Robin Robertson’s Vegan Planet.


A week doesn’t go by without some sweets around here. I made some peanut butter chocolate chip cupcakes, some banana chocolate chip muffins and some more of my favourite—date squares.


My sister gave us a popcorn maker for Christmas. I love the vintage look of it, and it makes Friday’s after-school snack super quick and inexpensive. I also made an old favourite for dinner one night—“Hearty Winter Potato Soup” from How it all Vegan. It isn’t the prettiest, and the kids thought it would be gross, but my son ended up enjoying it.



My daughter came home from school feeling really tired yesterday. She didn’t even want her snack—not a good sign. She fell asleep right away (unheard of for this little ball of energy). She started out alone on the couch and then Jolene decided to keep watch over her. The dog isn't even allowed on the couch, but I couldn't bring myself to move her. With the resilience of youth, my daughter’s already starting to feel better today.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Linking up with:

life rearranged

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Scones for sharing


“I sometimes think that the act of bringing food is one of the basic roots of all relationships.”
—the Dalai Lama
There’s no doubt that relaxed tea parties or shared dinners with friends can provide some of life’s most comforting and cherished experiences.
Food can infuse us with feelings of goodwill, warmth and contentment. And, what better feelings to share with friends?
If you are looking for something delicious to make for your friends or family, you can’t go wrong with a scone. They are quick to prepare and best eaten right away while they are warm (hence the need for friends to share them with). Serve them with a little margarine and some strawberry jam and watch them disappear.
With a nod to my Scottish heritage, this week I decided to try making a variation of Edna Staebler’s recipe for “Scottish Scones.” They turned out to be quite lovely, sort of chewy and delicious.
This recipe requires few ingredients, and you likely already have them on hand. You can even omit the raisins if need be (or if you prefer).
You can also try making Staebler’s “Cape Breton Scones” and see which recipe you like best. I really can’t decide. I’ll have to keep trying them both.
Linking up to Lifeologia's Potluck Party.


Scottish Scones

by Joann MacDonald
Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert snack breakfast vegan vegetarian raisins






Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder, slightly rounded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp shortening (I used Earth Balance.)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup milk (I used almond milk.)
Instructions
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together and cut in the shortening until crumbly.
  • Add the raisins and stir in the milk.
  • Turn out on a floured surface and knead a bit.
  • Pat out to ¾-inch thickness and cut into rounds. (I used an over-turned drinking glass, about 3 inches in diameter.)
  • Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden.
  • Serve and enjoy!
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Cozy up with a cupcake

Now that the bitter cold weather has arrived in our area, it’s time to spend our free hours cozying up indoors, enjoying a fire and drinking a cup of hot chocolate. Unless you’re going skiing, of course, but I’m not much of a sports enthusiast.

Whether you’re playing a board game, watching a family movie, or reading a great book, I can’t help but think that a little treat would add to your enjoyment.

These easy peanut butter cupcakes, adapted from a recipe from La Dolce Vegan, can be whipped together in a jiffy and enjoyed along with a warm cup of cocoa, coffee or tea.

Next time I make them, I’m going to put a little jam in the middle of each one for a delicious surprise in the centre.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cupcakes


by Joann MacDonald
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast dessert snack vegan vegetarian chocolate chips peanut butter cupcake

Ingredients (10 to 12 cupcakes)
  • 1 cup light spelt flour (or flour of your choice)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp margarine
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Line a muffin pan with 10 to 12 paper cups.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a food processor, blend together the remaining ingredients, except the chocolate chips.

Combine the flour with the wet ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into paper cups and sprinkle the tops of the cupcakes with chocolate chips.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Simple and yummy!
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life



Here’s another look at our week in cell phone photos. It was back-to-school week, which means my husband took his cell phone with him. I still managed to snap a few photos though.

The kids transitioned back to school surprisingly well, except for one night when my son couldn’t sleep and he kept waking everyone else up. He kept coming to me saying, “I can’t sleep. What should I do?” How about lying down and closing your eyes…please. The next night, he was good and tired.







My husband decided to make a board for his guitar pedals. Apparently it’s cheaper than buying one. That motivated the children to make something as well.


My daughter chose a cross. Sweet.

 
My son chose a sword. Probably a bad parenting move.

 
My sister and her family came to visit last weekend. You think you can find a bargain? You haven’t met my sister. She should make it her job somehow.

 
She told me Friday night that she wanted to visit our local liquidation store the next day. Okay. We spent a couple of hours there on Saturday. I bought this Umbra jewellery stand for $1 (okay I bought two) and decided to use it for my measuring spoons. I hate digging around in the drawer for them when I’m baking something. I also bought these little bowls for $5. They are easier to use than the larger bowls that came with my dishes.


 My sister gave my son this cool retro-looking Spiderman hat. Cost her 99 cents.


 She also gave my daughter a hat and some cute gloves.


My sister gave me this sign as part of my Christmas present. Makes me feel a little better about all of the laundry I have to do every week. 

I made this carrot cake from How it All Vegan. I like to bake it in a Bundt pan to fancy it up a bit, then dust some icing sugar on top for sweetness.


 I made a yummy “Farmhouse Vegetable Soup” from Vegan Planet—the kind where you throw in basically any vegetable you have.

Today was “fashion disaster” day at my kids' school. My daughter put together this outfit. She still looks pretty darn cute.

Linking up with:
 life rearranged

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Read Me a Poem, Baby

Recently, I was reminded of those sweet, tiring days when the kids were toddlers. I spent the hours entertaining my little ones with books, toys, games and poetry (in between changing diapers, cooking and cleaning, of course). The other day, my husband stumbled on an HBO special called “A Child’s Garden of Poetry,” made in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation.

In this half hour special, children discuss the meaning and mystery of poetry and recite some of their favourites by heart, including poems by Robert Frost, E. E. Cummings and William Butler Yeats. Some of the poems are recited by celebrities like Ziggy Marley, Claire Danes and Philip Seymour Hoffman, but it is the children who will astound you the most, with their beautiful and thoughtful commentary.
We showed the program to our seven-year-old daughter and our eight-year-old niece and they were spellbound by it. This inspired us to search our bookshelves for some of our long-abandoned poetry books.
We selected Favorite Poems for the Children’s Hour, which I purchased for $1 at a second-hand bookstore last year. It has a lovely selection of poems compiled under categories like the home, the country, the town, winter, etc.
What was striking to me was just how much my daughter still enjoyed poems like “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.”  I was also surprised to find she had forgotten many of the simple rhymes we used to read so often. My son at first pretended the whole poetry reading thing was not cool, but he gradually listened along.
We read several poems that evening, and then I said good night. When I went downstairs, I heard my daughter read several more poems aloud for herself and her brother.
Some of this inspiring video can be found on the Poetry Foundation’s website. Let me know what you think.

P.S. That's my little ones at the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia years ago, in a rare documented moment of sibling bliss.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life, featuring berry oat bars

We had another busy week, with the four of us still home for Christmas vacation. Here are some of our cell phone photos from the past seven days.

This makes it look like we were very productive, but there were several days spent in pyjamas too.

Although, like most parents, I get a lot done even when I'm in pyjamas. Let me see, there's laundry, cooking, dishes, baking, tidying, cleaning...I could go on, but you know what I mean.





I headed to a local yarn shop for their post-Christmas sale. I took an introductory knitting class there last February and have yet to finish the scarf I started then. Some ladies in the waiting room at my daughter’s ballet class have suggested we work on a lovely scarf project each week while we wait. I picked up the supplies for that and some needles for the kids. Every time I want to knit, they do too, so I figured they should have the right equipment for the job.
For the first time ever, we celebrated New Year’s Eve just the four of us. We ate some Chinese food (yum), played some games, threw some blankets and pillows on the floor and just vegged together. Believe it or not, the kids said this was the best New Year’s Eve ever. Just goes to show you once again, all they want is your undivided attention once in a while.
On New Year’s Day, the four of us went to the Art Gallery of Ontario for Family Sunday.


We saw the Chagall exhibit, and the kids were given companion activity guides, which kept them busy looking for images in the paintings. Very helpful, as they would normally be “bored.”



We also participated in art activities related to The Adventures of Tintin. My son had just seen the movie, so it was good timing.



The kids made boats and attempted to float them in a pool of water. They also created treasure maps and the (foil) “bottles” to put them in. A Cape Breton fiddler was on hand to provide entertainment, along with some step dancers.


Back at home, we made an arugula salad with sautéed mushrooms on top, inspired by one we had at Bar Italia the week before. Delicious with a light olive oil vinaigrette.






I noticed my ice cream maker sitting lonely in the cold cellar, and decided ice cream in the winter wouldn’t hurt anyone. I made a cookies-and-cream recipe from Lick it! Creamy, Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love. We sandwiched it between the few remaining chocolate chunk cookies I had made before.
 

We made this “15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta” from Oh She Glows. I was hoping it would be terrific, but not really expecting it to be, since it’s so easy to make. I doubled the recipe so the whole family could have some. Turns out, it’s delicious. Next time, I have to put a little bit less of my brother-in-law’s home-grown garlic, though. I loved it, but the kids found it a bit much for their tastes.

Bloglovin

Have you tried subscribing to your favourite blogs through Bloglovin yet? I like the way they send daily email updates to show when bloggers have shared new posts. Plus, if you go to their website, you see a little summary with enticing photos so you can quickly choose which entries you want to read. If you want to follow MY blog ;) you can go HERE. I so appreciate people taking the time to follow me with Bloglovin, email or GFC. It truly makes my day!

Linking up to Lifeologia and:





Berry Oat Bars

by Joann MacDonald

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup margarine
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 ¼ cups light spelt flour
  • ½ cup organic sugar
  • ½ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup strawberry jam
  • 1 tsp light spelt flour
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Oil an 8-inch square pan.
In a small pot, melt the margarine and set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, flour, sugar and melted margarine.
Set aside one cup of this mixture.
Press the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the fruit, jam and 1 tsp of flour.
Spread over the baked crust and sprinkle remaining oat mixture on top.
Bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes until golden.
Cool completely and cut into bars.
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