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Category: Vegan Diet

Almond Cherry Chocolate Biscotti

One of the things I look forward most to when going home to Prince Edward Island is settling in around my parent’s kitchen table with a hot mug of tea and a little sweet after dinner.

Like clockwork, as everyone’s finishing up their last few leisurely bites of home-cooked comfort, you’ll hear the kettle begin to sing its little tune. Nothing but Red Rose orange pekoe for my family, I always (much mom’s distaste) add a nice big splash of milk and a generous teaspoon of sugar, grabbing a few cookies out of the jar on the way back to the table. There’s no calorie counting on PEI, okay folks. I’ve tried, it’s a waste of time. Remember the oreo overload bites I wrote about over the holidays? Yeah…my clean eating habits don’t stand a chance when I’m home.

It’s something about tea and cookies share with friends that can instantly make an insignificant snack-time feel like a valuable quality time (they can also act as the PG/weeknight version of beer and nachos). A reason to meet a friend, nibble, chat, rant, gossip, whatever. Unwinding at the end of a crappy day with a hot tea and a delicious treat can seem to turn the whole trainwreck around. But it takes some damn good treats to do that; I bring you…the almond cherry chocolate biscotti!

Biscotti are traditional Italian cookies, which have simple ingredients and preparation. An extra baking step gives them that crispy, crunchy, perfectly-dunkable texture. They weren’t a cookie that I grew up around, and therefore was intimidated to make for a long time. Once I started, and realized that they’re super easy and so lovely to have around, now I make them pretty often. They make fab gifts too, because they’re hearty and have a great shelf life. Not like these will need them, though. They won’t last!

This recipe is extremely flexible. Sub in your favourite nuts and dried fruits for endless cookie combos!

Almond Cherry Dark Chocolate Biscotti

Yield: 24

Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • v2 eggs
    • 1 3/4 cup flour
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 cup dried cherries (or cranberries, apricots, etc.)
    • 1 1/2 cup almonds, roasted and coarsely chopped
    • 4 oz dark chocolate
    • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Roast your almonds/nuts in a dry frying pan over med-high heat, keeping them moving until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together oil/butter and sugar until well blended. Mix in the vanilla then beat in the eggs.

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; gradually stir into egg mixture. Mix in dried fruit and nuts by hand. The dough will be very stiff, do your best to incorporate all ingredients evenly throughout.

Divide dough in half. Form two logs (about 2 inch x 12 inch) on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Dough may be sticky; wet hands with cool water to handle dough more easily.

Bake for 30-35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until logs are light brown. Remove from oven, cover with a dish towel (to slow cooling and prevent the logs from cracking) and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 275 degrees F.

Cut logs on diagonal into 1 inch slices. Lay on sides on parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake in 275 F oven for another 8-10 minutes, or until slightly browned and crispy.

Once biscotti is totally cooled, melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave. Using a spoon, drizzle dark chocolate over cookies and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.…

Spiced Carrot Butter

A couple of weeks ago, with the best of intentions, I bought a bag of gorgeous heirloom carrots from the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market. I love the idea of using heirloom varieties of produce as often as they are available!

A heirloom variety seed means that it was commonly used and farmed many years ago, and those same varieties have been passed down from generation to generation. The original seed’s genes/traits are kept intact by dedicated farmers in smaller agri operations and gardeners, and often a product of open pollination practices.

Imagine that! REAL bugs doing buggy things and pollinating plants! Those little matchmakers! Hurray for Ma Nature.

Most produce comes from seeds that are genetically engineered for characteristics that we typically find ‘attractive’, like specific flesh and rind colours, textures, as well as improved transportability – being able to keep on the long treks from farm to grocery store and into your kitchen. So something about the heirloom varieties feels a little more homey and traditional; more natural. The way fruits and veggies are meant to be!

Anyway, about my lovely carrots. They’re beautiful, in hues of deep purple, yellow and vibrant orange. They were so pretty, that I had convinced myself that I had to do something really spectacular looking with them. Nevermind that they are so sweet and tender; I felt like I needed to primp these up like the little beauty queens they were!

Two weeks went by and they were still sitting around, unused, and batting their eyelashes at me. And by eyelashes I mean sprouts. I left them sitting around for so long that they had actually started to re-grow leaves and sprout. Alright, ladies, point taken.

Because I have very little self-control around baked goods, I ruled out making carrot cake. My gym isn’t open enough hours in the day to offset the damage I can do when left home alone with a whole cake.

Maybe soup? Soup and I are on a break. No soup for me (insert angry Seinfeld-character accent here).

I started thinking back to the sweet potato bars that I made a few weeks ago, and how freaking tasty even the plain sweet potato puree was before I added it to the other ingredients….hmmm….so away me and the pretty carrots went. It was go time.

This creation was a shot in the dark. Although it might not do the beautiful heirloom carrots any physical justice, this stuff is goooooood. A sweet carrot puree, spiced warmly with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of maple syrup that your morning oats, yogurt, and pancakes are just dying to be slathered in. I even had it on toasted brown bread with a smear of cream cheese…heavenly. Stir it into some cottage cheese and sprinkle with walnuts and coconut…bam. A healthy bowl of carrot cake cheesecake.

Don’t give me a hard time about this maybe not being a typical ‘butter’ because clearly, it’s not! It’s more of a carrot sauce (as the texture is just like applesauce) but I couldn’t bring myself to slap that handle on it. Carrot sauce sounds about as appealing as a punch in the gut. So Spiced Carrot Butter it is!

  • Spiced Carrot Butter
  • Yield – About 2 cups
  • 2 cups carrots, organic preferred
  • 3/4 cup orange or apple juice (I used orange)
  • 1.5 cups water, approx
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)

Peel, wash, and chop the carrots. Put them in a heavy-bottomed pot and add juice, and enough water to just cover them. I had to use about 1.5 cups of water to get them submerged. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer. You need to keep an eye on them at this point, checking in to make sure they have just enough water to boil in, but not much more. Add water little by little as necessary until all the carrots are cooked through and tender. They will be easy to pierce with a fork when they’re all done. Take them off the burner, and let them sit for a few minutes to cool down. Putting hot liquids in a blender is something to avoid if you can!

Pour the carrots, their liquid, and the maple syrup in to the blender. Puree the carrots, adding water (only if needed) little by little until it begins to blend and form a thick puree. You might have to pulse/scrape down the sides of the blender to ensure that everything gets mixed up without having to add too much liquid. Once it’s to the consistency of a thick applesauce, pour it back into your pot and add the spices, stirring, and taste testing along the way. Everyone likes different levels and types of spice, so this part is really up to you! The recipe above shows (about) what I put in mine.

Now I’m no ‘canner’ so I just made sure to put this in a clean mason jar, and will be keeping it in the fridge; I’m thinking it’ll keep for a week or two.…

Veggie Scrambler Vegan

Okay, so I may not be giving full disclosure on what this recipe is by way of the title…so brace yourself, I have a confession.

I eat tofu for breakfast.

Don’t judge me.

My defence: At first it was out of curiosity (can it really come across scrambled-eggy?), and then recently, out of necessity. An empty fridge, and a half-assed pledge to myself to eat vegan this month, had me scavenging for a tofu scrambler recipe. I hit up some of my favourite vegan/veg blogs and saw, thankfully, that most don’t include any weird/uncommon/rare ingredients.

A recipe for any scrambler, egg or tofu, is pretty hard to screw up – you can toss in any combo of spices and veggies and it’ll still taste pretty freaking good.

One serving of tofu has more protein than two eggs, and very little fat. You can play around with spices, oils, sauces that you add to it as you go along, too!

This is one of my favourite weekend brunches, a big ol’ scrambler with a ton of veggies, served with avocado and a whole wheat pita on the side. If you like a little heat, a few good squirts of sriracha make this an awesomely flavourful meal!

Veggie Scrambler

Serves 1

  • 1/4 block of extra firm or firm tofu (I like President’s Choice Blue Menu brand)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 5 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • Good pinch of the following spices:
  • Tumeric
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Pepper
  • Salt, to taste

If you have a few minutes, drain the tofu by sandwiching it between a few pieces of paper towel and setting something heavy on top (cookbooks work great). Tofu has lots of water in it, so the more water you can get out, the better. That said, if you’re in a rush, you can bypass this step.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add diced veggies. Mash up the tofu with a fork, it will crumble and look like scrambled eggs! Add to the frying pan and incorporate well into veggies. Add your spices, taste as you go. Sautee for an additional 2-3 minutes, until tofu is heated through. Now add the handful of spinach and let it cook down until wilted. Now all the flavours will have mingled and everything is heated through, it’s ready to be served!

This is great served inside a wrap too, with a good dousing of salsa and hot sauce.…