Friday Finds

This sunshine is heavenly. I’ve been outside working in my garden, cleaning out the rubbish and debris that accumulates over the winter. Thank goodness for spring. When I was younger I didn’t care much about spring, I wanted to hop straight into summer. Now, I relish those first warm days where you can go outside without a jacket on, the trees all in bud, the smell of fresh earth and growth. It seems a shame to spend time inside on a day like today so let’s keep it short and sweet shall we?

First of all I’m sure many of you are deeply sick of my constant Gilmore Girls revival updates but the first official set photos have been released on Entertainment Weekly.

In the world of pop culture I have recently become obsessed with Hamilton. I know everybody is obsessed with Hamilton, I’ve been avoiding listening to it because I wanted to wait and eventually see the show and hear all the music the first time live. However, I have caved and now the entire show has been on replay non stop. It is incredible. When I was ten years old my Dad took me to see Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, that show was the reason I decided to become an actor. Hamilton is inspiring in the exact same way. You can buy the album on itunes or the physical album on Amazon.

This summer I am going to have to do some of these hikes. Especially the Dundas Peak, the view looks just incredible. It’s only about an hour outside of the city and yet I have never gone.

10 Amazing Canadian Women From History, so sad that I have only heard of one of these women. As Canadians we aren’t great at telling our own stories to begin with, let alone those of our women. Some of these women need their own musical!

On the first truly hot day of the season I am going to make these Coconut Milk Fudgesicles . Now I just need to buy a popsicle mold!

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Chewy Chocolate Oatmeal Fudge Cookies

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Guys, it snowed Sunday night. It snowed 15cm overnight. It’s April and when I look out my window there is snow and ice and it is really, really cold outside. I mean, I get it winter, you didn’t really get to show off this year. I only had to pull out my winter boots three times this year. But, that’s too bad winter. You had your chance. It’s April, we’ll see you again in November but until then get out of here! I want warmth and sunshine and beers on a patio with the sun beating down on my shoulders. So, I did the only thing that I could do to combat the extended winter blues, I baked cookies. I let the fiancé flip through some of my books and pick a cookie recipe. He chose one from the classic Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and made a tiny adjustment. A recipe I remember making once for a new years eve party and then promptly forgetting about. I don’t know how I forgot about it. These are really good, like really, really good.

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They are super comforting with the oatmeal, the chocolate chips are melty when you pull them out of the oven, just double chocolate fudgy chewy bliss. They are hearty too, these aren’t your dainty. light luncheon cookie. They are it’s cold outside and I need a serious chocolate fix cookie. I had chocolate chunks instead of chips so I broke them into smaller pieces and they were great. I think next time I would leave them as the chunks, the more chocolate per bite the better.

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That greenery in the background? That’s my attempt to entice spring into the world. I’ve got an Easter lily blooming and my little window box of basil seedlings. Seedlings that don’t seem to want to grow much taller than they already are. I think the cold coming through the window might be stunting their growth.

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I had to take these pictures using my good old Samsung Galaxy S3 (I know I’m way behind the times with my old phone) because I’m still waiting on that battery charger for my camera. I was actually quite pleasantly surprised with how well the pictures turned out. I’ve always loved the camera on my phone but seeing them on the blog and comparing them to my actual camera’s pictures they don’t show too badly.

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Good news is two weeks from now it is supposed to be 20 celsius. So let’s eat these hearty, satisfying cookies and look towards warmer days!

Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies

  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tbl ground flax seeds
  • 2/3 cup soy milk
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chunks

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease two baking pans.

In a medium bowl whisk together the oats, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of your stand mixer using the paddle attachment beat together the sugar, flax seeds and milk until smooth.

Add the soy milk and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in batches, when almost combined fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop the batter a heaping tablespoon at a time on the prepared pans.

Bake for 10-12min.

Let them rest for about 5min before moving them.

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Oh bananas. I love them so and they make so many delicious baked goods. They make banana bread, banana muffins, banana cupcakes, banana pancakes! I’ve never made banana cookies before. This recipe is banana everything cupcakes (sans walnuts) from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. They are a chewy cookie, which I personally enjoy. I like a chewy comforting cookie, I used mini chocolate chips because that’s what I had on hand and I would recommend doing the same. Lots of tiny bursts of chocolate all throughout each bite.

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They come out a little bit crispy on the edges with a fantastic golden colour. I ate two as soon as they had cooled down enough to eat. What can I say? I’m a sucker for anything banana and chocolate. The other great thing about this recipe? You only need one banana for it. On the weekend I’d made some banana chocolate chip muffins which used up three of my four overripe bananas. Usually when I have just one left I throw it out because I don’t know what to do with it. This recipe solves the problem!

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So many chocolate chips! Easter is this weekend so let’s get the chocolate thing going early! Especially since it looks like we’re getting a white easter. We had a green Christmas  and now we’re getting a snowy, blowy, icy Easter. Such is the risk when Easter falls so early in the year. I’m excited to have the weekend off and hang out with the people who mean the most to me. These cookies definitely won’t last until Sunday so I’m going to have to come up with something else to bring to Easter dinner.

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While I mull over what to bring to Easter dinner I will continue to munch on these cookies. With a glass of soy milk, these are good cookies to eat with a cold glass of non dairy milk.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 overripe banana
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbl all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 and grease two baking sheets.

In a large bowl mash the banana using a fork or the paddle attachment on your stand mixer. Add the canola oil, sugar and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Add the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir to combine.

Fold in the oats and the chocolate chips.

Using a tablespoon scoop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 10min or until golden on the edges.

Enjoy with a glass of nondairy milk!

Christmas Traditions and Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

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Cookies are a big part of Christmas for me and my family. I’m sure that holds true for many families out there. Ever since I can remember my Mum, my sister and I would bake Christmas cookies together. When I moved out I started my own tradition of baking gingerbread cookies and giving them out as gifts. Of course I end up having to bake multiple batches because the first batch never seems to make it out of my kitchen intact.

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The tradition of baking Christmas cookies has not stopped despite neither myself or my sister living at home anymore. We schedule a day every Christmas season to go home to our parents house to decorate their tree and bake the Christmas cookies. Luckily both my sister and myself live only about an hour away from our parents. The tree my parents get every year is a massive real tree, the kind that fills the whole house with that evergreen smells and scratches the ceiling on the way in. After the tree is decorated (under my careful direction, I don’t trust them not to try and hide some of the decorations. I believe every decoration must go on the tree!) we get to the business of baking. Now these cookies are a kind of oatmeal cut out cookie, with nutmeg and cinnamon and just full of deliciousness.

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You have my apologies but I will not be sharing this sacred family recipe. It was passed down from my Gran to my Mum and it is top secret for family eyes only! I don’t even own a copy of the recipe yet, my Mum makes the dough in advance and refrigerates it until my sister and I come by.

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You have my apologies for the less than stellar photo quality I took the pictures on my phone. Sprinkles are an essential part of the cookie baking process. Red and green only. They are also best when dipped in soy milk. They taste like Christmas to me. We blast our favourite childhood Christmas albums (Raffi and Sharon Lois and Bram as well as Fred Penner) and bake away. My sister and I then get to package some up to take home with us.

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While I can’t share our top secret Christmas cookie recipe with you, I can share the recipe for vegan gingerbread cookies. This is the best recipe I have found, it’s from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. An oldie but a goodie. I made a double batch so that I had enough to package up for friends and family while still keeping some to snack on for myself!

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I love all things ginger, a rather recent occurrence. These cookies have a good ginger bite but are still sweet enough to eat without any icing at all. Of course half the fun of making gingerbread cookies is decorating them.

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You can feel free to go to the store and buy the red and green icing you find easily at this time of year. I prefer to make my own icing so that they have a lovely white frosting on them. Less chemicals, more delicious! The cookies are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. If you prefer your gingerbread cookies more crunchy I would roll the dough nice and thin so that they bake up crispy.

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They certainly aren’t perfect, they wouldn’t win any presentation awards but who cares? It’s Christmas! Christmas to me means, making a mess of your kitchen, decorating cookies however you want, eating lots of raw dough as you go. I don’t like the overly stylized trees and decorations. I like my Christmas a bit messy, our Christmas tree doesn’t have any theme or colour scheme. What it does have is a whole bunch of decorations that hold memories. We’ve started buying decorations when we travel, and the tree has many of my childhood decorations on it. Each one is personal and important to us.

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I like to buy a bunch of Christmas tins at the dollar store and fill them up with cookies. I am going to be spending Christmas eve baking a few other kinds of cookies and cinnamon rolls. That has become another Christmas tradition in my family. I bring cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning for breakfast. Even though it’s going to be 14 degrees celsius tomorrow (What country do I live in again???? Pretty sure we had 14cm of snow this time last year!) I feel plenty Christmassy baking in the kitchen with the Christmas tunes playing and my whole house smelling like gingerbread.

Merry Christmas All!

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

(If you’re going to be gifting I recommend doubling the recipe!)

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup plain soy or coconut milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Directions

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer using the paddle attachment combine the oil and sugar for approx 3 minutes or until well combined. Add the soy milk and molasses.
  2. Sift in the other dry ingredients. I recommend adding your first cup of flour, followed by the baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Then add the second cup of flour a little bit at a time until the dough has reached the desired consistency (sticking together, but not too wet, very pliable) You may not need the entire second cup of flour.
  3. Flatten the dough into a disc wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour (and up to three days)
  4. Turn oven to 350. Lightly grease two baking sheets or put down parchment paper.
  5. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll the dough to your desired thickness. Cut out your shapes!
  6. Bake for 8min, allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 min more before moving them to the wire rack.
  7. When they are cool decorate however you want!

 

Vegan Whiskey Sea Salt Chocolate Truffels

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These are everything you need. Seriously guys, it is fully time to start celebrating Christmas in all its decadence. It’s time to bake Christmas cookies in our pyjamas, unabashedly blare Christmas music, drink lots of fancy cocktails with our friends and watch all the sappy Christmas movies. These truffles look ever so pretty in a Christmas tin, you can decorate them however you like I rolled them in shredded coconut. The best part about these? How insanely easy they are to make.

IMG_5808See these ingredients? These are all the ingredients you need. Seriously that’s it! Five ingredients to make the truffles one to roll them in. I was inspired by the recipe over at Gimme Some Oven. I had made truffles before but the addition of the whiskey was too much to pass up. I changed out the heavy cream for canned full fat coconut milk, used vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips and earth balance margarine. You could use dark chocolate but I wanted mine to be a little bit sweeter. The sea salt adds an incredible little bite complementing the bite of the whiskey.

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All you have to do to make these bad boys is toss your chocolate chips, coconut milk, and margarine into a pot on the stove top. You stir them together until the chocolate and margarine are all melted down and everything is combined. Then you pour in some whiskey and sea salt and make sure everything is silky smooth. Then you put it in the fridge for a few hours. That’s right throw it into the fridge and go about your day, go to work, go out with friends, sit down by the tree and read a good book. Whatever, you don’t need to worry about it. After two or three hours you come back and take it out of the fridge. It should be solid. Using a spoon, or a melon baller if you’re fancy (I’m not fancy, I used a spoon) scoop the chocolate up and roll it into a ball. Then roll the ball in the topping of your choice. After that you just need to throw them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them or gift them. How easy is that? It takes no time at all!

IMG_5812These guys are bit size which can be a bit dangerous as you can mindlessly pop a couple into your mouth without really noticing. I mean they can’t be that bad for you . . . there’s no added sugar after all. Either way Christmas is a time for decadence! They only lasted a few minutes around my friends so make sure you make plenty if you plan on sharing!

Vegan Whiskey and Sea Salt Chocolate Truffles

  • 1 pound of chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup canned coconut milk shaken
  • 2 tbl vegan margarine
  • 1/3 cup whiskey
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions

On your stovetop over medium heat combine the chocolate chips, coconut milk and margarine. Stir together until well combined and smooth. Stir in the whiskey and sea salt. Place in the fridge to set for 2-3 hours. Scoop the mixture up with a spoon and roll into balls with your hands. Roll in the topping of your choice. Keep chilled.

S’Mores Pie

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I seem to be on a bit of a marshmallow kick lately. To be fair I’ve been mulling over this pie for awhile, before I made the marshmallow caramel popcorn, ever since the cold weather set in and I realized that it was the end of bonfire season. At least, the end for those of us who live in the city and need to be at a cottage for a good bonfire. This pie is a mish mash of things and it certainly isn’t perfect. Next time I make it? Wayyyy more marshmallows, perhaps mini marshmallows . . . you all can try it and report back. Which is better more big marshmallows? Or little marshmallows everywhere?

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Oh delicious toasted marshmallows. How did I toast these marshmallows you may ask. Well I looked into what was the safest way to toast a marshmallow. If you happen to be ever so fancy and own a culinary blowtorch, I bow down to you. You have way cooler kitchen gadgets than I. No what I did is I lit a beeswax candle, I skewered my marshmallows and I toasted them over that candle. I will emphasize the importance of using a natural beeswax candle. Toasting a marshmallow over a paraffin candle or even a soy candle is not a good idea. Definitely do not toast marshmallows over any kind of scented candle. You could get really sick from eating them. In general paraffin candles aren’t great for people with asthma because of what is released in the air, so beeswax or 100% pure soy are my preferred kinds. Sorry for the candle tangent, the main point is you can have toasted marshmallows all year round with beeswax candles! Just be careful not to let them burn!

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Another little lesson from me to you about this pie, toast your marshmallows before you make your mousse filling. That way when you pour that hot filling into the prepared crust you can immediately start popping in your marshmallows allowing the bottom halves to melt into the mousse. The center marshmallow melted in, by the time I got around to toasting and placing the others, the mousse was starting to cool and the marshmallows were bobbing up to the top of the filling like a buoy in an ocean of chocolate.

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Speaking of chocolate, this chocolate mousse is incredibly decadent. It’s very rich and silky, for serious chocolate lovers only.  Needless to say this pie did not last very long, I gave some away to friends and saved some for myself. So much deliciousness!

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Another helpful hint, make sure that you really, really crush up the graham cracker crumbs before making your pie crust. Otherwise, it won’t hold up quite as well as you would want. You should put graham crackers in the blender or food processor to make sure they are practically powder. I decided to throw the graham crackers in a zip lock bag and bang them on the table and crush them by hand. While therapeutic not as effective. The crust stuck together fine except for the top bit which crumbled off when the pie was cut. Delicious none the less, just not quite as presentable.

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It is now officially time to start getting excited for Christmas. So, you can expect many holiday themed recipes to come, but for the time being let’s just enjoy this last throwback to summer bonfires. Oh S’mores, how wonderful you are. And how delicious you are in pie form. Also, perhaps most importantly, full disclaimer that this is a pie that has to chill. That means you need to toss the whole thing in the fridge for 8 hours to overnight before you can eat it. I know. Life’s not fair. So don’t make this unless you can handle the waiting!

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crums
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine

Directions

Set the oven to 350 and grease a pie tin.

In a food processor pulse together the graham cracker crumbs and margarine until combined.

Press the crust into the prepared pie plate and bake for 10min.

Roasted Marshmallows

  • As many or as few as you want!

Over a beeswax candle, toast the marshmallows.

Chocolate Mousse (from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts)

  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

In a bowl whisk together the soy milk and cornstarch. In a saucepan on the stovetop heat up the coconut milk, sugar and salt and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low after it comes to a boil and whisk in the chocolate chips. Increase the heat and whisk in the soymilk and cornstarch mixture. Continually stir until it creates a pudding like consistency.

Assembly

Pour the mousse into the prepared pie crust. Gently push the toasted marshmallows into the mousse. Chill in the fridge for 8 hours to overnight.

Caramel Marshmallow Popcorn

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The other night I was craving something sweet and salty. That elusive combination that hits just the right note. I had seen a recipe online for caramel marshmallow popcorn. Which was the answer to my sweet and salty prayers. You can make it with microwave popcorn if you choose, but I find it just as simple and quite frankly way more delicious, to pop the kernels the old fashioned way. A little bit of oil, a pot, some salt it takes a few minutes. I have to stand over the stove and shake the pot, but it doesn’t take any longer than putting it in the microwave for two minutes. I always use coconut oil when I’m popping my own popcorn because I find it works the best. I also shake the pan the whole time to keep it from burning. Popcorn on it’s own is still delicious but you can really take it to the next level with some sticky, sweet, caramelly goodness.

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I will warn you this recipe is not even remotely healthy. Not even the tiniest bit. It’s really a lot of sugar but it tastes so delicious. Now of course marshmallows aren’t vegan I found a place you can order vegan marshmallows online here. So this is super simple. Brown sugar, margarine, a little bit of corn syrup and a whole bunch of marshmallows all melted together. Once it’s all melted together you have a thick creamy caramel sauce.

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This is definitely best to be shared . . . or hey eat the whole batch, while watching trashy tv, cuddled up in your pyjamas. This is definitely best eaten in pyjamas when it’s cold outside. I may or may not have eaten it for dinner.

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The big issue with this dessert, is that I put it in a stainless steel bowl. You see when it’s hot and melty and sticky, no problem. When it sits out it hardens into candy and it is impossible to get off the bowl. So, you should pour it into a pan with parchment paper. It definitely said that in the original recipe but I didn’t read it carefully enough. So, I am telling you heed my warning and save your bowls! Of course if you have a whole bunch of people around, it probably won’t last long enough in the bowl to harden. You can eat it right away when it’s hot, or wait until it hardens into a kind of toffy like candy. Perfect for the transition from fall to winter. Although if the weather stays the way it’s been we can count on a green Christmas and that’s alright by me this year!

Caramel Marshmallow Popcorn

Adapted from Lil Luna

  • 3 quarts of popcorn
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 TBL corn syrup
  • 20 large marshmallows (vegan or not depending on what you eat!)