a batch of stunningly good Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars are quintessentially Canadian. They are to British Columbia what Butter Tarts are to Ontario, Flapper Pie is to the Prairies, Tarte au Sucre is to Quebec, and Figgy Duff is to Newfoundland: beloved and iconic. Essential pieces of our culinary history. Continue reading “a batch of stunningly good Nanaimo Bars”

chocolate tahini cake

This will have to be a fast post. I’m about to board an airplane heading to Paris and then travel by train to St. Jean Pied de Port. And from there, walk 800km across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. I’m about to walk my dream….  Continue reading “chocolate tahini cake”

chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes

If you’re afraid of sugar – just look away now.  These chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes are sinful. And truly, I don’t normally cook like this. Or eat like this. Honestly. There’s been homemade baked beans, sweet potato lasagna, curried butternut squash soup, and a couple of beautiful frittatas, and all manner of other reasonable, healthy food in my kitchen over the course of the last couple of weeks. But as great as a kale, sausage,and feta frittata is, how could it possibly compare to a cupcake? Especially a chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake?
Continue reading “chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes”

“the stark disappointment of words” and an easy flourless chocolate truffle cake

I’m a fan of writer Ann Patchett, whose book, Truth and Beauty, is one of my favourites. This week, thanks to the website, Brain Pickings, I came across a fantastic Patchett quotation that hit very close to  home, especially the last line:

Continue reading ““the stark disappointment of words” and an easy flourless chocolate truffle cake”

I haven’t answered your email because… / and a dairy-free chocolate mousse

According to Forbes magazine, most of us are spending more than one-quarter of our working week just answering or dealing with email. And that’s just email. Then there are the text messages, the telephone calls, and the time spent on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, and LinkedIn…

Continue reading “I haven’t answered your email because… / and a dairy-free chocolate mousse”

a little Carl Jung and a cranberry, apple, and almond tart

Even though I’m skeptical, I begin each day by reading my horoscope. I’m partial to… Continue reading “a little Carl Jung and a cranberry, apple, and almond tart”

easy, breezy, beautiful – four ingredient rum balls

Once again, I’m so far behind in holiday preparations that I’ve practically given up before I’ve even managed to get started. There’s no tree in my new house, no decorations up, no baking done, very few gifts organized, and only one card mailed (to my cousin in England). Despite the fact that I’m a Christmas minimalist – I need some serious help.

Continue reading “easy, breezy, beautiful – four ingredient rum balls”

a day in the life of – and favourite (gluten-free) oatmeal cookies

I’ve made several batches of this recipe – all variations on a theme. I think I have it perfected. I LOVE these cookies. They’re soft, chewy, and loaded with flavour, fibre and protein. They keep well and there are no strange ingredients. And as cookies go, these are healthy. Plus they are infinitely variable. You can add Reese’s pieces like I did here or chocolate chips or seasonal m&m’s or Smarties or just skip the chocolate altogether (WOT?!) and add raisins or cranberries or walnuts or pumpkin seeds. But really, don’t skip the dates – that hit of sweet, soft fruit works so perfectly in these cookies.

I don’t have to eat gluten-free but I’m trying to reduce wheat and gluten in my diet to keep my migraines under control. Amazingly, it’s working. But I’m having to learn a whole new way of baking.

I won’t go on but I wanted to include a couple of recent photographs, taken from the walking trail in my neighbourhood where I walk my dog, Lola, almost every day.

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the marshland along the path where I watch for owls

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trail through the naked woods

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November sun glinting on Butternut Creek

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and this is Lola on her bed (she likes the animal prints!)

best ever gluten-free oatmeal cookies

  • Servings: a couple of dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup butter, coconut oil, or margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup peanut butter or almond butter
  • 4 cups quick cooking oats (use gluten-free here if required)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped dates – I used Medjool dates because they’re SO good and worth every cent
  • 1 cup mini Reese’s pieces

Beat together the butter (I used half coconut oil and half margarine) and the sugars. Add eggs, vanilla essence, and peanut butter. Beat until mixed.

Stir in the oatmeal and sea salt. Add the dates and chocolate.

Drop by the spoonful on buttered cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until browned. Remove cookies a wire rack to cool.

molten chocolate cupcakes

Individual Gluten and Dairy Free Molten Chocolate Cakes

For a non-gluten-free (i.e. regular wheat flour) version click here.

  • 4 tbsp margarine (or butter if not dairy-free)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup finely ground almond meal
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted gently
  • icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 6 small ramekins or line a muffin pan with 6 jumbo muffin liners.

Beat together the margarine and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each. Add vanilla.

Combine the almond meal, cornstarch, and salt. Stir into the egg mixture. Mix gently. Stir in the melted chocolate. Do not over mix.

Divide batter between muffin liners or ramekins– should make about 6 molten cakes.

Bake for 8 minutes. The tops should be just set – the centres should be runny – molten…. Set the timer. Take the plunge. Pull them from the oven even if you’re not completely sure.

Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar, and with fresh raspberries and whipped cream or suitable alternative -or just enjoy au naturel.

 

 

paleo balls

Not Paleo?

Neither am I.

I am interested in food though – all food – and especially healthy, tasty food.

And I’m interested in food trends even though I sometimes scoff at them. But when I was sitting in the dentist’s office and flipping through a magazine and saw these Paleo Balls – I just really liked the look and sound of them. So I made a quick note of the ingredients.

This is my version of the recipe. You can either make this Paleo or not – the Paleo version should have almond butter – but if you’re not Paleo – go ahead and use peanut butter if that’s easier. (Paleo diet does not allow legumes.) I added dark chocolate chips to my version even though the original recipe didn’t have any. I’m not really clear if the actual chips I used are Paleo or not because that’s not important to me.

What is important is that these balls are really delicious. They’re easy to make – remarkably healthy – and filling. So many great ingredients packed into them. They would be really good for packed lunches. Equally good with tea mid-afternoon. Perfect for travelling. Gluten and dairy-free. And seriously yummy.

Paleo or not – these are well worth trying.

Paleo Balls

  • Servings: 20-24 balls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup almond butter (can use peanut butter for non-paleo version)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp liquid honey
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • shredded coconut – amount will vary – see instructions

Mix all the ingredients together. If the batter is not stiff enough to roll into balls – add a tablespoon or two of coconut. Roll into balls about 1 inch (2.5cm)  in diameter. They are better smaller rather than larger so don’t err on the size of being overly generous. Should make between 20 and 24 balls. Roll the balls in coconut. Bake at 350 degrees F for 3 minutes. Yes – 3 minutes. The coconut should be a little toasted. Remove from oven and let cool before serving or storing.