Recessionista Pudding

May 3, 2009

When it comes to dessert, especially a chocolate dessert, I’m all about going real. No “100 calorie packs” or sugar-free chocolate here- a little taste of the real thing is just so much better, in my humble opinion. So after saying that, I am now going to eat my words and confess my love for packaged chocolate soy pudding, Zen Soy brand, to be exact- I even used this chocolate soy crack in overnight oats once when I ran out of yogurt. Homemade, whole milk -based this is not, and yet, Zen Soy will always have a special place in my heart.

Unfortunately though, a 4-pack of pudding love will set me back about $4.50 and this girl is all about reducing expenses these days. So when I found a recipe for a tofu-based pudding on Diet, Dessert and Dogs  that looked impressively similar to my beloved Zen Soy, I knew I had to try it.

I followed the original recipe very closely, using a box of shelf-stable silken low-fat firm tofu (325g), and giving that a whirl in the food processor until it was completely smooth. I only had about 1/3 cup agave nectar, so I used up that plus 1/3 cup organic sugar and 1/3 cup Valhrona cocoa powder. I combined these ingredients on the stovetop for a few minutes to “prevent the cocoa from having a starchy, powdery taste” as Ricki suggests, however due to my lack of liquid sweetener the cocoa powder and sugar congealed into this dangerous looking, grainy cocoa mass. Um, at that point, I thought oh what the heck and threw it into the food processor with the tofu and 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract and hoped for the best. After a few minutes of intense pulverizing, I took off the lid, stuck in a spoon and tasted- and- could it be? Chocolate soy pudding heaven? I am happy to report that, even before chilling, the pudding tasted just like my favourite packaged kind. And after a night in the fridge, it has perfect pudding consistancy and a nice rich chocolate taste (I’m sure I can thank my Valhrona cocoa powder for that).

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I’m kind of lying to myself again though by saying that I’m trying to save money on food- well, ok I am trying, just not all that hard, because when I saw this new Liberte cafe latte organic yogurt I don’t even remember looking at the price, it was all “must, want, need now” and into the cart it went. It was coffee flavoured. I couldn’t help myself.

Liberte Organic Cafe Latte Yogurt

Liberte Organic Cafe Latte Yogurt

Plus with all the money I saved on making my own pudding, it all evens out, right?? Right??? Anyone…?

Awakening

April 27, 2009
Friends~

Once again I find myself apologizing that it has been far too long since my last post. I miss not just the food thoughts and pictures, but the writing, the outlet of expression that is mine alone. Reading dear Jenna’s post today about needing to write made me remember how much I need it, too. (For Jenna as well, my heart goes out to you and my thoughts are prayers are with you and your family).  

It seems as though spring is finally, finally here, renewing me with excitement over fresh produce that does not include potatoes or turnips or winter squash, but asparagus, berries, and other vibrantly colorful vegetation. And I want it all!!!! The riches of the first Spring harvests make me wonder how you could want to eat anything but fresh fruits and vegetables. I suppose I did make an exception for breakfast, though I stuck with the trend of light, fresh-tasting  and heavenly. Did it satisfy? Just look at the picture below.

dsc014212 Blueberry Cheesecake Crepes
Based on  Spring 2009 Compliments magazine
serves 4 2

Crepe batter:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 T sugar

 In a medium bowl, whisk flour and milk until smooth. Add egg and milk and whisk again until smooth. Let stand while preparing filling. (Can do this part the night before and let the batter rest in the fridge overnight).

For the filling:
1 cup blueberries
2 T pure maple syrup
Cream cheese and additional maple syrup

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the blueberries with the maple syrup. Bring to a boil and reduce until mixture is thick.

For the crepes:
Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Brush pan with a thin layer of melted buter or oil. Pour enough batter into pan to barely coat; swirl it around to evenly cover the bottom of the pan.

Cook until the edges start to curl up, about one minute. Use a spatula to gently flip crepe and cook on other side until lightly golden.

Turn out crepe onto a plate. Put a small pat of cream cheese in one quadrant, top with a small amount of maple syrup. Fold crepe in half and then in half again to get a small triangle. repeat with remaining batter. Top with the blueberry maple sauce and additional maple syrup or whipped cream, if desired. Strong coffee on the side optional, but highly recommended.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

February 6, 2009

Is there anything quite as beautiful as a cinnamon swirl?

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I think not. Especially when you have made said swirl yourself :) I am really starting to love baking yeast breads, and this one is my favourite yet.  It’s a perfect breakfast bread and a delicious companion to a cup of coffee.

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I am going to send you over to Eat Me Delicious to get the recipe- I followed her recipe exactly, though for next time I think I would brush the dough with egg before rolling in the filling, just because my swirl wasn’t as tight as I would have liked it to be. I will also brush a little butter over the top of the loaf when it comes out of the oven, to make the crust nice and soft. Flavour-wise though, this bread was incredible. I cannot wait to make french toast with it!! *swoons*

 In other news, I’m going to Boston this weekend and staying for a couple of weeks, which means I’ll be in town for Valentines Day :) Anyone know of a good date kind of restaurant in the Boston area? The boy and I are looking for someplace to go for dinner, and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am also super excited about this trip because it means I will be near Whole Foods, TJ’s, Fage and all of my other US food loves that I can’t get here in Canada!!! Which means there will be a massive recap post, followed by sadness that I have to go another six months before I go to Whole Foods again.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Waffles

February 2, 2009

Nothing says “weekend morning” like a hot, maple syrup-y waffle. Especially with all this snow outside, I am perfectly content to take my time fixing breakfast and relaxing with my omnipresent cup of strong coffee.

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And let me tell you, with a recipe like this you should be doing exactly the same right about now.

What I love about these waffles is that (honest!) they actually fill you up (and I even used white flour). The hearty oats provide some texture while the flax and cinnamon lend interest to each bite.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Waffles
Original Recipe can be found at Everybody Likes Sandwiches

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 tbsp ground flax
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup yogurt
1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp melted butter
oil, if needed, for waffle iron

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, oats, flax, cinnamon and brown sugar in a large bowl. In a seperate bowl mix all of the wet ingredients. Make a well in dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture until everything is just combined. Makes 3-4 waffles, depending on the size of your iron.

I found that my batter was quite thick- if you want something more spreadable, I would suggest increasing the amount of milk.

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With maple syrup and blueberry jelly this was a perfect breakfast.

Decadence for Breakfast

January 30, 2009

Finally! A way to have icing for breakfast that doesn’t involve sugar coma inducing cinnamon rolls or leftover birthday cake (not that that’s ever been done before…..)

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Carrot Cake Oatmeal
1/3 cup rolled oats
pinch of salt
1/3 cup milk plus 1/3 cup water
cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste
small carrot, peeled and grated
small banana, mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 300°. Spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes or so, until nuts are hot and fragrant. Place oats, milk, water, salt, and carrot in a pot on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Simmer, adding in spices. Stir in mashed banana and cook for a few more minutes before stirring in vanilla and taking pot off the heat. Top with a couple teaspoons of cream cheese icing and toasted pecans.

Small Batch Cream Cheese Icing
2 tbsp cream cheese
2 tsp butter (room temperture works best for blending)
3 tbsp icing sugar
couple drops of vanilla extract

Spoon cream cheese and butter into a bowl; mix vigorously (a fork works just fine) until smooth. Whisk in icing sugar in several additions, using more or less to achieve desired sweetness. Stir in vanilla extract.

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This will make more icing than you need for one bowl of oatmeal, but really now who has a problem finding things to do with leftover icing? One of my sugar-coated childhood favourites was icing spread over graham crackers. mmmm… Don’t think I’d be able to get away with that now quite as easily ;)

Housewarming Party

January 22, 2009

WordPress is everything I want it to be and more right now, the blog and I love our new home :) I have a lot of sorting through past posts and improvements I want to do, but hopefully I will have the blog up and running the way I want it to within the next week or so. I’d love it if you would stop by my virtual housewarming party here (I am so corny) and leave the link back to your blogs so that I can get this blogroll up and moving.

I am excited to be blogging again and I feel that I have new ideas for the focus of the blog, in addition to some much needed renewed energy. Thanks again for the sweet comments on my last post, I have missed my blogworld friends.

Greetings! haha

January 21, 2009

Hello friends :)
I’m not sure if there’s anyone still out there… I know I’ve been gone for a while. A LOT has happened in the past few months. When I last left you I was living in Montreal with my boyfriend, however now I’ve moved home to live with my parents in Nova Scotia (I don’t blame you if you don’t know where that is, there’s not much to see haha) and the boy is attending nursing school at UMass Amherst, so we’re doing the long distance thing for now. Not fun. I’ve thought about taking up blogging again but changing the focus of the blog.. I’m not sure what will happen yet though. I just wanted to give a little shoutout to let you know I am still reading your blogs and lurking in blogland :)
xox linds

Happy Birthday to Meeee

November 13, 2008

I’ve always loved birthdays for the simple fact that they are your day. You get to choose what you do, where you go, who comes to your party (lol my inner 8 year old coming out there) annnd you get to choose the food. Of course. The food. Though I love going out to dinner, staying in and cooking is often just as fun- and with birthdays just 5 days apart, the boyfriend and I decided to save some cash and just go all out with two days of awesome home birthday menus :)

For my day, I chose pizza. It’s such a fast and easy dish using my new fave dough recipe. I doubled it to get 2 pizzas, topping one with buffalo sauce, tomato sauce, chicken and mozzarella like the first time I made this, and for the second one I just coated the dough with olive oil and spread caramelized onions, walnuts, and Swiss cheese on top. In retrospect, I wish I had used some figs on this one too, but they weren’t totally necessary and both pizzas tasted fantastic.

What’s a birthday without cake?! For myself I chose to make this yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting. So yum, a nice light crumb texture and nothing was cloyingly sweet. And there’s my sweetie placing candles on the cake in the shape of a ’23′. Awww :)

For his day, the birthday boy decided he didn’t want cake and challenged me to find a lower-fat sweet. Which really isn’t a challenge at all when you have Happy Herbivore recipes at your fingertips. I made her Pecan Cinnamon Buns and I was absolutely blown away by how good they were. I mean, of course having used her recipes before I expected perfection, but this…. These sticky buns were out of this world good. And so easy. They were definitely my favourite item on the birthday menu roundup and will be making many future Sunday morning appearances.

Naked buns, frosted buns! Hahaha


Then for dinner, we had Smitten Kitchen peanut sesame noodles, except that we had them hot, and had vegetables on the side so that each noodle bite could be as peanut buttery noodley as possible (birthday boy request).

Birthdays should also involve lots of wine- I think there’s a bottle visible in every picture except with the cinnamon buns. We had those at 10am so we held off on the wine. But just until noon.

Overcoming My Fear of Yeast

November 4, 2008

I love to read through recipes and start planning dinners around them- however, more often than not, when I’m scanning down the ingredients list and see the word “yeast”, I turn the page. Dealbreaker. I don’t do yeast. At least I didn’t, but yesterday that all changed and I couldn’t be happier.

The recipe to change my mind was none other than pizza dough. Basic, simple pizza dough. That’s what Deb told me, and though I feared that it couldn’t possibly work, I believed her (having already made her delicious pumpkin butter didn’t hurt in helping to instill a little trust).

All that was asked of me was to mix together flour, yeast (I used instant because my store was out of active dry somehow) salt, water and olive oil. Knead, form into a ball and place it in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 1-2 hours somewhere warm- I preheated my oven at 200 for a few minutes, shut it off, and then stowed my growing dough in there. Push the air out of it. Let it rest another 20 minutes under the plastic wrap again, then take it out and roll in into desired shape (in my case, a deformed circular rectangle, in Deb’s case a perfect circle). Top it with whatever your heart desires and bake it quickly in a scorching hot oven. Enter pizza nirvana. Check!

I made mine buffalo chicken style, by mixing some sliced precooked chicken cubes with 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1-2 tbsp buffalo chicken sauce. I also used mozzarella cheese and sliced green onions, but was really wishing I had blue cheese on hand to make this truly perfect.

Ta da! You can bet I was incredibly proud of my pizza. You can also bet that I will be making this again. Now that I’ve conquered my fear of yeast, I can’t wait to move onto more ambitious dishes (bread, or cinnamon rolls perhaps?).

The pizza dough recipe can be found here, and really now that I’ve done it you have no excuse not to try it. No one should be scared of yeast :)

Moose Madness & The Finest Foods of Fall

October 15, 2008

What a whirlwind weekend I’ve had. I feel like a celebrity jetsetter. Except for the small fact that I was in a car, not a jet, I’m tired because I stared down a highway for 2 days and not due to fancy time zone changes, and I went to Nova Scotia, not Milan. So actually not like a celebrity jetsetter at all. Anyway, on to some actual details about my trip- the boyfriend (Steve for future reference, it gets tiresome typing out “the boyfriend”) and I picked up the car around noon on Thursday and proceeded to pack my life into it, aka 4 years’ worth of university textbooks, furniture, clothing, and whatever else you can cram into a small car. Let me tell you, we did NOT waste space either. Any and all free nooks were stuffed with dirty laundry for us to wash at home (anyone else still do this? I always bring laundry home, even when home is 12 hours away…). We left a couple hours behind schedule but figured we could make up the lost time by speeding through Quebec. Not a good idea. We got pulled over less than an hour out of the city by a cop with a huge flashing arrow on his car. We somehow didn’t notice this huge, blinking monstrosity on the side of the road. He didn’t speak a whole lot of English and we wound up with a speeding ticket. Whoops, so much for trying to get back on the time schedule.

The rest of Quebec involved an hour-long detour through god knows where and then we entered New Brunswick, which shall now be know as the land of the moose. By now it was insanely foggy and 2am and there were these huge moose crossing signs every 5km with ATTENTION written in bright red letters underneath a picture of a huge moose. I never thought I would be scared of moose, but I am now. I did not want one of those going through my windshield. Luckily though, we arrived moose-free and safe in Nova Scotia at 4am. Of course we woke up my mom and her new PUPPY which we had to play with for a bit before heading to bed at the very reasonable hour of 5:30am.

After the trauma involved in actually arriving, the visit itself was quite relaxing. My dad bought us 4 pounds (yes you read that correctly) of super fresh NS scallops for dinner Friday night. They were fresh enough to eat raw- I tried one this way and wow, it just melted in my mouth. I have never before tasted seafood that good. We had our big turkey dinner on Saturday which was also amazing and involved homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, wine, and those infamous NYTimes Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are worth the hype, go make some now!!!

We left Sunday morning and got back into the city (moose-free again) late that evening. So while it was a quick visit, I’m certainly glad we went. Except for that speeding ticket.

Now that I’m back in my own home, I feel completely immersed in the Fall season. All of the leaves are turning gorgeous shades of red and yellow and the air is crisp, yet the sun keeps the days fairly warm. This is by far my favourite time of year, and not just for the scenery. You may exclaim over perfectly ripe strawberries and summer tomatoes all you like- but for me, nothing beats an apple right off the tree in the middle of Fall. I didn’t get a chance to go apple picking while home (and there aren’t many orchards in downtown Montreal) so I’ve contented myself with luscious Honeycrisps for eating raw and deliciously tart Granny Smiths for cooking. Apple pie and apple crisp are quintessential Autumn desserts for me, and the smell of cinnamon in my kitchen is comfort at its best, so it wasn’t hard for me to choose what to make for dessert tonight. I decided to play with the flavours a little by adding in a pear to this apple crisp recipe, and wow what a difference it made! I will be going back to this recipe all Autumn long :)

Apple-Pear Crisp

Filling:
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped into small cubes
1 pear, chopped into small cubes
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 to 2 teaspoons chilled butter, cut into pieces

(1) Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased (I used cooking spray) pie dish or oven-safe saucepan.

(2) Mix together all streusel ingredients (except for butter) until well blended. Cut in butter until lumps start to form in the mixture. *For a richer taste, use more butter- up to 3 tablespoons if desired. I wanted to keep this light so I cut down the butter and just sprayed my crisp with a little cooking spray before putting it into the oven*

(3) Top filling evenly with streusel topping. Bake for roughly 45 minutes, until apples and pears are soft. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Tastes best with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

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