January Things

2013 is in full swing. HELLO February, GOODBYE -40 degree weather.

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This month has mostly been all about school. I started back fresh at the beginning of the month with new classes and teachers, and have been studying my brains out for the most part, but that’s not fun! Otherwise, I’ve been trying out my new snowshoes (which I’m in love with), running, eating, and recently went to looks for owls, which was cool.

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Otherwise, I cooked, I read, and I listened to stuff. Below is a small collection of things I fell in love with this month, and wanted to share it with you. xoxoxo

Favorite Recipes I Made From Other Food Bloggers:
Banana Bread by Foodie Crush
Pesto Potato Skillet by Naturally Ella
Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta by Closet Cooking
Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup with Chard by A Couple Cooks
Brussel Sprout Hash by How Sweet It Is
Caramelized Mushrooms and Dumplings by Joy the Baker
Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats by Traceys Culinary Adventures
Panera Mac and Cheese by Annie’s Eats

Favorite Recipe I Made:
This fabulous salad.

Books I read:
The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin

Podcasts That Took Over My Ears:
The Because Show

Best Movie I Saw at the Theatre:
Django Unchained

And that’s it! Cheers to February!!

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Rustic Sweet Onion Tart

The days are getting *cue Oprah voice* loooooongeeeeer!

Caramelized Onion Tart

It doesn’t seem like it today though, but I swear spring is coming. This week for the first time in a long time I gave the treadmill the finger and ran outside. Sure it was along an extremely busy street in Ottawa, and sure I had to wait for traffic lights, but I actually felt like I was moving! Such a triumph. I came home around dinner time without anything planned and decided to make something quick. I took out some refrigerated pie crust, caramelized some sweet onions, and threw some Gruyere cheese on top. Heaven, my friends!

Caramelized Onion Tart

All you need to do is preheat your oven to 425. In a dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, herbs, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stirring occasionally, cook 8-12 minutes, or until tender. Reduce heat to low and cover; cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until onions are browned and caramelized. *Swoon*. Stir occasionally while cooking.

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Shape pie crust on a lightly floured surface by rolling out into a 12-inch circle. Do this on parchment paper to make the transfer to a baking sheet easier. Then transfer that beauty.

Caramelized Onion Tart

Brush with egg white, and sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over dough.

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Top with onions, leaving a 2 1/2 inch border.

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Sprinkle remaining cheese, and fold the pie crust over the edge of the onions, pleating as you go. Leave a 4-inch wide opening in the center. Brush crust with egg white.

Caramelized Onion Tart

Bake at 425 for 17-19 minutes, or until crust is golden-brown and cheese has melted.

Caramelized Onion Tart

Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Yum!

Caramelized Onion Tart

Rustic Vidalia Onion Tart
adapted from Rustic Vidalia Onion Tart

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
3 large sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
1/2 recipe pie dough, or 1 refrigerated pie crust (I used Pilsbury)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (can sub Swiss cheese)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425. In a dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, herbs, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stirring occasionally, cook 8-12 minutes, or until tender. Reduce heat to low and cover; cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until onions are browned and caramelized. Stir occasionally while cooking.

Shape pie crust on a lightly floured surface by rolling out into a 12-inch circle. Do this on parchment paper to make the transfer to a baking sheet easier. Transfer over to a baking sheet.

Brush with egg white, and sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over dough. Top with onions, leaving a 2 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle remaining cheese, and fold the pie crust over the edge of the onions, pleating as you go. Leave a 4-inch wide opening in the center. Brush crust with egg white.

Bake at 425 for 17-19 minutes, or until crust is golden-brown and cheese has melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Savory Sweet Life’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s my 3rd Blogiversary! Well, it was actually on Tuesday, but I kind of forgot.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I live alone, I decided to make myself my favorite cookie to celebrate. I chopped up some chocolate and mixed it in a big bowl with semi-sweet chocolate chips. I creamed together some sugar, butter, and flour and BOOM! Heaven. It’s not that hard to make me happy.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I decided to go with Alice’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies, since it seemed relatively easy, but mostly since I had heard such rave reviews. These were a total hit! My friends kept asking for more, and now I’m cookie-less. Oh the pains of being a food blogger…

Chocolate Chip Cookies

To make these, preheat oven to 360 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes on medium-high speed). Add both eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes.

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Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated.

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Add in those chocolate chips (or chunks) until well distributed. The cookie batter should be thick.

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Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough or use a medium cookie scoop and plop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove from heat and allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pick up the parchment paper with the cookies still on top and transfer to a cool non-porous surface. Allow the cookies to cool on the paper for at least 3 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have a great weekend everyone!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe taken from Savory Sweet Life
Makes 36 Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes on medium-high speed).

Add both eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated. Finally add chocolate chips until well distributed. The cookie batter should be somewhat thick.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough or use a medium cookie scoop and plop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown.

Remove from heat and allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper with the cookies still on top and transfer to a cool non-porous surface. Allow the cookies to cool on the paper for at least 3 minutes before serving.

Roasted Balsamic Grapes with Brie

To me, winter sports are really what makes the season. I love snowshoeing, skiing, skating, and tobogganing, but for some reason I haven’t gotten to do a lot of those things this year. In fact, I’ve only gone snowshoeing.

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If I could pick a favorite it would definitely be cross country skiing. I like it not only for the great back country scenery, but also because it really gets me into a serious sweat that’s great for the whole “good health” thing, but also good for marathon training. So I think I’ll set some time aside, get my skis out and hit the trails. It’s the little things like this that can make winter feel special, and not just a freezing cold time of year.

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After coming home from a good ski, there’s nothing like a quick snack and a hot cup of tea. This appetizer recipe fits my needs perfectly. The brie becomes nice and melt-y under the roasted grapes for a truly sensational flavour. I hope you enjoy!

To make this, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash grapes, and place them on a roasting pan with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

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Roast grapes for about 35-45 minutes until soft and dark.

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While grapes are roasting, cut up your baguette and top it with Brie.

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Serve the roasted grapes alongside the brie cheese and fresh baguette. Enjoy!

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Roasted Balsamic Grapes with Brie
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer
A Warm Vanilla Sugar Original

Ingredients:
2 cups red grapes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 small triangle of Brie cheese
1 medium sized whole wheat baguette (or white if you prefer)

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash grapes, and place them on a roasting pan with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper. Roast grapes for about 35-45 minutes until soft and dark.

White grapes are roasting, cut your baguette into slices and top with a thick slice of Brie cheese.

Serve roasted grapes alongside the Brie and fresh baguette.

Smokey Vegan Mac and Cheese

One of the things on my list of 30 things to do before 30 was “to be vegan for a month”. An item I checked off in November.

Smokey Vegan Mac and Cheese // Warm Vanilla Sugar

It was hard when with friends, but really easy to do when I was by myself. I tried a lot of great recipes and have been making a lot of vegan meals since.

Smokey Vegan Mac and Cheese // Warm Vanilla Sugar

This recipe for smokey vegan mac and cheese is a total keeper, and one I’ll be making again. The “cheese” sauce is made with soaked cashews, almond milk, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast, giving it a smooth texture and cheese-y flavour. Also, this dish has brown rice noodles making it gluten free! I loved this meal, and I hope you do too!

Smokey Vegan Mac and Cheese // Warm Vanilla Sugar

Happy weekend!

Smokey Mac and Cheese {Vegan}
Adapted from Manifest Vegan

Ingredients:
16 ounces brown rice pasta, macaroni, penne, fusili, shells all work well
2 cups cashews, soaked in water at least 3 hours and drained
1 1/2 to 2 cups almond milk, to thin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups chopped (and de-stemmed) kale
1/2 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Directions:
Cook the pasta according to package directions, undercooking just slightly by a minute or so. Drain well and rinse completely with cold water to remove any starch.

Transfer the pasta back to the pot and set aside.

Place the soaked and drained cashews, 1 cup almond milk, lemon juice, lemon zest,nutritional yeast, garlic, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt into a food processor. Blend very well, at least 7 minutes, until completely smooth and silky, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add about 1/2 cup more almond milk until thinned, pulsing between each addition. Add the sauce to the pasta in the pot, and then stir in the remaining almond milk to thin. Warm up gently over medium-low heat, stirring often until desired temperature is reached. Sprinkle on the smoked paprika and fold just to combine.

In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, toss together the kale, coconut oil and sea salt and saute for about 3 minutes, or until bright green and slightly wilted. Stir into the pasta and serve immediately.

Egg Salad Sandwich with Crispy Leeks

January has been all kinds of crazy. My bank account got hacked, I realized my passport was expired 6 weeks before leaving the country, my dentist gave me sad news….and other, bigger, things that I’m keeping to myself. I don’t have triskaidekaphobia, but I’m starting to think I should, because 2013 pretty much hates me.

Egg Salad with Crispy Leeks

I’ve written about the importance of good friends before, but you never really realize how lucky you are until you need to call on them for support when life gets real. In one of my crazy lady moments, I called a friend crying and babbling about the goings on in my life, and she raced over with a bag of gummies, mini brownies, and Reese’s peanut butter cups. My other friend has been listening to me (not crying, I’m cool now) on the phone almost every night with offers of sleep overs and girlie movies. These two ladies know me, and when times are tough they have my back. I honestly couldn’t be happier.

Egg Salad with Crispy Leeks

Because of the wildness in my life, I’ve decided to give you something easy today. This is one of the best meals I’ve had all month. I love a good egg salad, I love the blog A Thought For Food, and I need things to be simple, so enjoy this magic piece of awesomeness. It’s the leeks that make it taste like heaven!

Egg Salad with Crispy Leeks

Egg Salad Sandwich with Crispy Leeks
Recipe taken from A Thought For Food
Serves 2

Ingredients
4 eggs
1 tsp fresh dill, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 fresh leek, green parts only, washed and sliced
1 tbsp butter
Slices of multigrain or whole wheat bread (I used a baguette)

Directions
Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold tap water, until there is about an inch over the eggs. Set burner to high and bring the water to a rolling boil. Once it reaches that point, you can reduce the heat to low-medium. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Once cooked, immediately remove from heat and run cold water over them, or immerse in an ice bath until completely cooled.

Peel the eggs and place in a medium-sized bowl. Begin mashing the eggs until the salad is fairly chunky. Add in the dill, olive oil, mustard, and shallot, and continue mashing until it reaches your desired consistency. Set bowl aside and begin working on the leeks.

In a pan, add the butter and set the burner to medium high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the leek greens and cook for 5-7 minutes, until browned.

To assemble an open-face sandwich: take one slice of bread and spoon half of the egg salad on top. Spread evenly across and then top with some of the crispy leeks. Repeat with other slices of bread.

Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie

Chocolate, peanut butter and banana are one of those flavour combinations that can be enjoyed any time of year. And booooooy do I ever!

I love it when a smoothie can feel like a dessert, and this recipe totally hits all the right spots. It’s jam packed with chocolate, peanut butter, avocado and banana making my world complete one sip at a time.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!! I’ll be kicking back with one of these!

Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie
Recipe lightly adapted from Baked Bree
Makes 1 smoothie

Ingredients:
1 cup Chocolate Almond milk
1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1/4 of an avocado
1 tsp coconut oil
1 frozen banana
2-4 ice cubes, for desired thickness

Directions:
Blend all ingredients together until smooth and garnish with a banana chunk.

Black Bean Burgers

School started up again this week and with the craziness of life sometimes it’s hard to eat right.

Black Bean Burgers // Warm Vanilla Sugar

During the holidays I didn’t fall too far off the wagon, but I find myself eyeing bags of Tostitos and big blocks of cheese at the grocery store instead of my regular hummus or almonds.

Black Bean Burgers // Warm Vanilla Sugar

With the craziness of life, whether it be back to work or school, I like having a bunch of black bean patties on hand so that I can grill/fry them up whenever I need a quick fix that satisfies both my healthy girl needs and that holiday chip devourer I was a few weeks ago. I hope you like them too!

Black Bean Burgers // Warm Vanilla Sugar

Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Combine the panko with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and mix with a fork to blend. Add the mixture to the skillet and toast the panko, stirring frequently, until light golden brown. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

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Place 3 cups of the beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or a fork until mostly smooth.

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In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, 1 tablespoon of the oil, cumin, salt and cayenne. Whisk to blend. Add the egg mixture and toasted panko. Stir together until evenly combined.

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Place half of the mashed bean mixture in a food processor along with bell pepper and shallot and blend together until the red pepper looks nicely blended into the beans. Add this mixture back to the bowl with the mashed beans.

Black Bean Burgers // Warm Vanilla Sugar

Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions, about ½ cup each. Lightly pack into 1-inch thick patties, and they’re ready to cook. Enjoy!

Black Bean Burgers // Warm Vanilla Sugar

Black Bean Burgers
slightly adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
Makes 6-7 burgers

Ingredients:
Patties
1 cup panko
3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans (3 cups), drained and rinsed, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
1 shallot, minced

Toppings
Sharp Cheddar
Avocado
Tomato
Red onion slice

Directions:
Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Combine the panko with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and mix with a fork to blend. Add the mixture to the skillet and toast the panko, stirring frequently, until light golden brown. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Place 3 cups of the beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or a fork until mostly smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, 1 tablespoon of the oil, cumin, salt and cayenne. Whisk to blend. Add the egg mixture and toasted panko. Stir together until evenly combined.

Place half of the mashed bean mixture in a food processor along with bell pepper and shallot and blend together until the red pepper looks nicely blended into the beans. Add this mixture back to the bowl with the mashed beans.

Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions, about ½ cup each. Lightly pack into 1-inch thick patties. (At this point the patties can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before cooking.)

To cook:
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Carefully lay half of the patties in the skillet and cook until well browned on both sides, about 8-10 minutes total. Transfer the cooked burgers to a plate, tent with foil, and repeat with the remaining oil and bean patties.

Serve with whatever toppings you have on hand!

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts

I didn’t make any resolutions for 2013, or maybe I just don’t want to call them resolutions.

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts // Warm Vanilla Sugar

Whatever the case, I do have a few goals:
I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon (high hopes), and I want to make this blog a bit more consistent – posting every Tuesday and Thursday, etc. Also I want to test out a few new segments. Running topics for example, and overall “favorite things” from the month. We’ll see how they go, but hopefully you like them!

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts // Warm Vanilla Sugar

I posted a big a beautiful cookie recipe last, but I wanted to give you some green stuff. This particular salad makes me swoon. It’s full of candied walnuts, goats cheese, buttered croutons and fancy arugula. Get in my belly! Also, it’s another recipe from Shutterbean, who has been filling my weekly menus lately. Thanks Tracy!

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts // Warm Vanilla Sugar

To start making this, get your candied walnuts ready. Combine brown sugar, water, butter and salt in a heavy large skillet. Bring to boil, whisking. Boil 1 minute. Add walnuts and stir.

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Toss until syrup forms glaze on nuts, about 3 minutes.

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Transfer nuts to sheet of foil sprayed with oil and quickly separate nuts with fork. Cool.

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Whisk oil and vinegar in small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Place arugula in large bowl. Drop in croutons, and goat cheese.

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Add the candied walnuts on top and then toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. Enjoy!

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts // Warm Vanilla Sugar

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts
Recipe adapted from Shutterbean
Serves 4

Ingredients:
Candied walnuts:
1/3 cup golden brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups walnut halves

Salad:
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 5-ounce packages baby arugula
1 5-ounce packages soft goat cheese, broken into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled
4 tablespoons of packaged croutons (I used honey-butter flavour)

Directions:
For candied walnuts:
DO AHEAD: Can be made the day before or 1 hour ahead.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a heavy large skillet. Bring to boil, whisking. Boil 1 minute. Add walnuts; stir. Toss until syrup forms glaze on nuts, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuts to sheet of foil sprayed with oil and quickly separate nuts with fork. Cool.

For salad:
Whisk oil and vinegar in small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Place arugula in large bowl. Drop in nuts, croutons, and goat cheese. Toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Almond Chunk Cookies

After the holidays I know you want salads + kale + quinoa + millions of vegetables. Trust me, I do. I want those things too.

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But I was looking of my page views and popular recipes in 2012, and the stats don’t lie. You beautiful, smart, and totally amazing readers are looking at sweet things. I get it! I like to stare at pictures of cookies too.

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And so I decided to start 2013 off with a delicious recipe for a cookie with slivered almonds, white chocolate and tons of chewy goodness that you can save for later. Or if you’re weird and anything like me, you can make it now and eat them while watching every episode ever of Gossip Girl. *hangs head in shame*. Now on to these cookies!

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This recipe is easy! First, preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the top position. Then cream the butter and sugars together. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.

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Mix together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt until combined. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Mix the almonds into the dough.

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Drop mounded tablespoons of dough on the a cookie sheet spacing them 1 inch apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand.

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Bake the cookies 4 minutes, rotate the pan, and continue baking for 3-5 minutes, until they show the barest amount of brown around the edges. The centers should be soft but not gooey.

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Cool completely on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container.

Enjoy! And Happy 2013!

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White Chocolate Almond Chunk Cookies
recipe from Shutterbean via With Love and Butter
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups white chocolate chips/chunks
1 1/2 cup almonds (I used slivered)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the top position.

Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt until combined. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Mix the almonds into the dough.

Drop mounded tablespoons of dough on the a cookie sheet spacing them 1 inch apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake the cookies 4 minutes, rotate the pan, and continue baking 3-5 minutes, until they show the barest amount of brown around the edges. The centers should be soft but not gooey. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Note:
I baked the cookies for 5 minutes and rotated and then baked for another 5 minutes. Just check your oven often and see what works best for you! xo