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!

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Quinoa with Roasted Tomatoes, Walnuts and Olives

After three full days of being vegan I can honestly say my my life hasn’t changed very much. I’m a vegetarian anyway, and all that’s really changed is that I haven’t been adding cheese to my food or baking with butter (which I can totally miss out on for a month).

Two questions keep popping up that I thought I would address:
1. “What do you eat for protein”?, and
2. “Don’t you run out of choices”?

I went out for dinner with my Grandparents last night and they asked “when are you going to eat normal again?” which pretty much translates to “if you don’t eat what we eat, how can you possibly eat at all?” It’s a bit annoying, buy hey! We can’t all understand each other. And I’d like to give answers to the above two questions, that might be helpful to you too!

1. Protein isn’t just meat, and I certainly do not only eat tofu. If I want a snack I’ll eat some hummus and carrots, peanut butter and banana, apple and almond buter or some raw nuts. For lunch and dinner I like eating as many different beans as possible see here, here and here. This recipe is also chalk full of protein! Protein can be found in grains like quinoa, lentils, beans (black, garbanzo, kidney, etc.), tofu, tempeh, nuts and so many more things than I can possibly explain. Hopefully this helps!

2. If you read the above answer, NO I do not run out of choices. That’s part of the reason that I’m doing this vegan month. I want to be able to cook with foods I haven’t before, explore different ways of cooking, and try new things. If you honestly thing vegans and vegetarians eat the same thing every day. You are so, so, so wrong. It’s like asking a meat eater how they eat chicken every day. Silly question right? Exactly.

Anyway, I’m excited for the rest of this month to progress, and look forward to all the exciting new recipes I’ll be making. Like quinoa….so good!!

To make this recipe, preheat your oven to 400. Spray foil with cooking spray and place cherry tomatoes on top. Roast tomatoes for 30 minutes. They will start to burst and char—you want this! After 30 minutes, remove tomatoes from the oven and place in a big bowl.

Spread the walnuts out on a foil-lined sheet try and toast for 3-5 minutes, until golden. Remove and place toasted walnuts in the same bowl as the tomatoes.

Combine the quinoa, bay leaves, water (or broth) and spices in a saucepot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. Add the quinoa to the walnuts and tomatoes and stir in the olives. Season with salt to taste. Serve chilled.

Quinoa with Roasted Tomatoes, Walnuts and Olives
serves 4 (or 6 as a side-dish)
Recipe taken from Eat Live Run

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
3 cups water or vegetable broth
16 oz cherry tomatoes (mix of orange and red if you like!)
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt (or, to taste)
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400.

Spread the walnuts out on a foil-lined sheet try and toast for 3-5 minutes, until golden. Remove and place toasted walnuts in a mixing bowl.

Spray foil with cooking spray and place cherry tomatoes on top. Roast tomatoes for 30 minutes. They will start to burst and char—you want this! After 30 minutes, remove tomatoes from the oven and place in the same bowl with the walnuts.

Combine the quinoa, bay leaves, water (or broth) and spices in a saucepot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until quinoa has absorbed all the liquid.

Add the quinoa to the walnuts and tomatoes and stir in the olives. Season with salt to taste.

Serve chilled.

Banana Bread Green Monster Smoothie for Smoothie Week {and an Amazon Giveaway}!

Giveaway Closed

I hate to point out the obvious, but summer totally came early. It’s completely acceptable to wear a bathing suit under your dress and it’s totally acceptable to avoid your black kitty on these crazy hot days. My evil feline has become even more of a cuddle bug when the weather is hot out…yeah, she has a sense of humour.

So naturally, I’ve been making a lot of smoothies and thought I’d share a bunch of wicked awesome blended (and healthy) treats with you this week. This is big for me. Since I started this blog I have never (ever ever) posted for five days straight – but baby, I’m all yours from today until Friday! And I’m giving away a gift card. Awesome.

To make this smoothie combine the ingredients in your blender, with the light stuff on bottom (spinach, oats, cinnamon, walnuts). Then add your frozen banana and pour the milk over the top.

Blend until everything is nice and smooth.

Enjoy!

Banana Bread Green Monster Smoothie
Serves one (or two small servings)
Recipe lightly adapted from Full Measure of Happiness
7 Weight Watchers Points plus per recipe

Ingredients:
1 ripe banana, frozen
1 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
1/8 C walnuts
1/4 C oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Combine the ingredients in your blender, with the light stuff on bottom (spinach, oats, cinnamon, walnuts). Then add your banana (and ice, if your banana isn’t frozen), and pour the milk over the top.

Blend until everything is nice and smooth.

Amazon Giveaway Details:
Now that we’ve made this delicious treat, I thought I would ask YOU! Yes, you, to tell me your favorite smoothie recipe! That’s all you have to do to be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

For three EXTRA entries:

Just let me know you did the following (and if you follow me on Facebook and Pinterest already, let me know!)

1. Twitter Follow Warm Vanilla Sugar and then tweet the following:
“I entered to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card from @katrinadingle! Check it! http://bit.ly/NF2Nvb #smoothietime”

2. Like Warm Vanilla Sugar on Facebook

3. Follow Warm Vanilla Sugar on Pinterest

NOTES:
-Contest ends Saturday, June 23, 2012 and winner will be chosen randomly.
-Open to everyone world wide!

Banana Walnut Oatmeal

Breakfast is one of those meals where I usually stick to the same thing. I love smoothies, and tend to have one every day of the week (and make them while my darling boyfriend is trying to sleep). It’s a habit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I looooove breakfast foods, I just don’t seem to make enough of them. My bookmark list of breakfast items is exploding and I have decided that from today on, I’m going to try new and exciting breakfasts a few times a week. Starting with this oatmeal. It’s simple, it’s delicious, and it’s something that makes me want to start a new breakfast habit of only oatmeal…but I won’t. I WILL be making this again though. It’s so scrumptious, and I know you’ll like it too!

To make this, mash up your banana.

Then place water, milk, banana, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar (or maple syrup) in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Stir in oats.

Simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes or until desired thickness. Stir in walnuts just before serving.

Enjoy!

Banana Walnut Oatmeal
Recipe taken from Kitchen Simplicity
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 banana, mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or maple syrup)
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Extra brown sugar for topping

Directions:
Place water, milk, banana, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar (or maple syrup) in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Stir in oats. Simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes or until desired thickness. Stir in walnuts just before serving.

Nanaimo Bars

Christmas is this weekend! Whoa.

Have I told you that I work in a shopping mall? Well, I do. While I’m going to school I work in a bookstore so that I can pay for college, but it’s more than that. I really like the people I work with, I like talking to customers about books AND I get a mad discount. So things are usually good.

As you know it is currently the holiday season, so this is the time of year where going to work is not so fun. Customers can be angry, rude, and plain and simply crazy! If we don’t have a book they are looking for many of them freak out. Here is some stuff I hear on a daily basis:

Customer: “Five cents for a bag? I donate to enough charities and don’t need to donate to yours”.
My thoughts: I don’t care.

Customer: “Why the hell are you selling books at the Canadian price when the American dollar is at par”?
My thoughts: I don’t make the prices, the publishers do.

Customer: “I’m looking for a book. It’s blue”.
My thoughts: ?

Customer: “I ordered that book a week ago and now it won’t make it for Christmas? I need it NOW”.
My thoughts: Stop last minute shopping.

There are nice customers too. There always are, and of course they usually out number the crazy ones. But it’s the crazy ones that I remember because they’re so ridiculous! People just need to relax. Sit down, have a coffee, and breathe. When I’m stressed I like to run. And when I’m not running I like to bake. It’s a vicious cycle.

I love these nanaimo bars. I was never really into the whole nanaimo thing until I went to my boyfriend’s Grandma’s house back in October and she served these. I fell in love and added them to my Christmas baking list as soon as I got home. The center is more of a buttercream, but still has that custard texture. The crust is buttery and soft and will blow your mind! I hope you enjoy these. I did. My thighs not so much.

Let’s start with the crust. Melt together the butter, brown sugar, and cocoa. I did mine in a pot, but a microwave or a double broiler would be great too!

Beat the egg, and quickly whisk it into the hot chocolate mixture. You need to add the egg slowly and keep the whisk moving, otherwise you will have scrambled eggs! Mix in the graham crackers, coconut, and walnuts.

Press the crust into an 8×8 pan that has been lined with parchment. Put the crust into the fridge to chill for a half hour. I hate waiting.

Cream together the powdered sugar, butter, and custard powder. Add the cream slowly, and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Spread the cream layer evenly over the crust. Back in the fridge for another half hour or so.

Melt together the butter and chocolate (either a double boiler or microwave) and pour over the chilled cream layer. Put the pan back in the fridge for it to set up.

Cut into small squares (since they are really rich) and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Namaimo Bars
Makes enough for an 8×8-inch pan
Recipe adapted from Baked Bree

Ingredients
Crust:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Middle Layer:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup room temperature butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons custard powder

Chocolate layer:
3 ounces (1/3 cup) chocolate chips
1/4 cup (1 stick) butter

Instructions
Crust:
Start with the crust. Melt together the butter, brown sugar, and cocoa. I did mine in a pot, but a microwave or a double broiler would be great too!

Beat the egg, and quickly whisk it into the hot chocolate mixture. You need to add the egg slowly and keep the whisk moving, otherwise you will have scrambled eggs!

Mix in the graham crackers, coconut, and walnuts. Press the crust into an 8×8 pan that has been lined with parchment. Put the crust into the fridge to chill for a half hour.

Buttercream Layer:
Cream together the powdered sugar, butter, and custard powder. Add the cream slowly, and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Spread the cream layer evenly over the crust. Back in the fridge for another half hour or so.

Chocolate Topping:
Melt together the butter and chocolate (either a double boiler or microwave) and pour over the chilled cream layer. Put the pan back in the fridge for it to set up.

Cut into small squares (since they are really rich) and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Carrot Cake {and Happy Birthday to Me!}

I made a cake. Yesterday was my 24th birthday and I wanted to celebrate with something sweet that makes me happy.

Having a December birthday is weird. As a kid, there were a few “Christmas-Birthday” gifts (a 13 year olds worst nightmare) and I often got money which I then spent on other peoples Christmas gifts soon after. Now that I’m in College, my birthday lies in the middle of exams. This sucks big time. No one is available to hang out and I end up having to spend my birthday studying! Silly eh? At lease there’s cake. Cake can always make a girl smile.

Now, you might be thinking “carrot cake for your birthday? Really?”. And the answer is YES!

When I first started dating my boyfriend his parents kept mentioning this little cafe in a town near by that sold “the best carrot cake/cake in general/sweet thing ever”. I was skeptical. You see, I didn’t like carrot cake. The only stuff I’d ever had was at church bake sales and it always had raisins in it. Yech. What are those short, cute, ladies thinking?!

Anyway, I won’t ever turn down a new dessert, especially one with such high praise. As I slid my fork into that double-decker, moist, deliciousness, and placed the cake in my mouth…I fell in love. I fell in love with a cake. And since that first bite I’ve been wanting to make a carrot cake that matched that spectacular taste.

The verdict? This cake is the second best carrot cake ever! haha, I didn’t completely get it. I WILL make this again, and the only thing I would change would be to take out the walnuts. I really like a big slice of cake that isn’t broken up too much, and I find the walnuts do that.

The icing though? Holy freaking moley. You could drink this stuff. It’s so creamy and tastes like a dream.

Let’s get baking shall we?

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 8-inch round cakepans with waxed paper. Lightly grease and flour the waxed paper. Set pans aside. Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Put eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Beat them all together at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended.

Fold in grated carrot.

Fold in pineapple, coconut, and pecans. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center come out clean.

Prepare your buttermilk glaze.

Drizzle Buttermilk Glaze evenly over layers; cool in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.

Cool completely on wire racks.

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.

Place a big scoop of icing on top of the cake. And spread it around. Make sure to put it on thick!

Gently place the second cake atop the first one.

Evenly distribute icing on the top and on the sides. If you want to get fancy, you can stick this in the fridge so the icing can set and then add on one more even layer of icing.

Carrot Cake
Recipe taken from the Tasty Kitchen website.

Ingredients:
Cake
2 cups All-purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
½ teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
3 whole Large Eggs
2 cups Sugar
¾ cups Vegetable Oil
¾ cups Buttermilk
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 cups Grated Carrot
1 can (8 Oz. Can) Crushed Pineapple, Drained
3-½ ounces, weight Flaked Coconut
1 cup Chopped Pecans

Buttermilk glaze:
½ cups Sugar
¾ teaspoons Baking Soda
¼ cups Buttermilk
¼ cups Butter Or Margarine
½ Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
½ teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Cream Cheese Frosting
¾ cups Butter Or Margarine, Softened
11 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, softened
3 cups Sifted Powdered Sugar
1-½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions:
Cake
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 8-inch (or 9-inch) round cakepans with waxed paper. Lightly grease and flour the waxed paper. Set pans aside.
Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Beat eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Fold in grated carrot, pineapple, coconut, and pecans. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center come out clean. Drizzle Buttermilk Glaze evenly over layers; cool in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on the top and sides of cake.

Buttermilk glaze
Bring sugar, baking soda, buttermilk, butter or margarine, and light corn syrup to a boil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring often, for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Cream cheese frosting
Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.

Zucchini Sweet Potato Bread

Call me crazy, but I turned my oven on again. I’ve been baking in the early mornings to keep myself less hot and can’t say I regret it. I NEED a new breakfast in my life.

I chose this bread because it was quick and full of good stuff. Good stuff being sweet potatoes, zucchini and walnuts. Yum! I feel like I’m existing off of cheese and chocolate and I sometimes have chocolate cereal for breakfast! Hellllppppp! So, I made this quick bread to put some green and orange in my life. Also, this bread is moist and super tasty. It tastes like carrot cake actually, which makes me feel like I’m eating cake for breakfast. This makes me happy. Let’s get baking!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9x5x3- inch loaf pan and set aside. Sift the first 7 ingredients into a medium sized bowl.

Then, grate your sweet potato.

grate your zucchini…

and chop your walnuts.

In a separate, large bowl, mix the sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla extract.

Beat them together well.

Mix in the zucchini and sweet potato. Mmm it’s looking good now.

Add the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Fold in the nuts and stir well.

Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Cool bread in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Loosen the edges of the bread with a butter knife and turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Zucchini Sweet Potato Bread
Recipe taken from Joy the Baker
Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup brown sugar)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
1 1/2 cup peeled and grated sweet potato
1 cup chopped walnuts
(optional) you could also add 1/4 cup of raisins or dried cranberries to add some fruit if you’d like!

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9x5x3- inch loaf pan and set aside.

Sift the first 7 ingredients into a medium sized bowl.

In a separate, large bowl, beat the sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix in the zucchini and sweet potato. Add the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Fold in the nuts and stir well.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Cool bread in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Loosen the edges of the bread with a butter knife and turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

I made you some cookies. Healthy cookies? Maybe, they have fruit! And oats. Yum. They also have butter and sugar in a blend of deliciousness. I’ll let you decide their health points.

These cookies are a blend of apples, walnuts and oats with a swirly mixture of sugar and cinnamon. They are also thick and chewy and feel so satisfying as you chew. I like a good cookie, and Joy the Baker did these one’s right. So give ’em a try, and let me know how it goes!

Peel and dice the apple and toss with lemon juice. Set aside for later. Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl until creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg one, beating for 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

Add to the butter and egg mixture slowly beating on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the walnuts and apple chunks last.

Spoon onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10-13 minutes. I like my cookies chewy so I cook them for about 9 or 10 minutes.

Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies
recipe adapted from Joy the Baker
makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 small apple, peeled, diced small (i used a granny smith apple)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Peel and dice the apple and toss with lemon juice. Set aside.

Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Beat until creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg one, beating for 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture slowly beating on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the walnuts and apple chunks last.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 13 minutes or until they’ve reached your desired doneness. I like mine a little underdone and cook them for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.