Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Carrot PanCakes - Vegan & Non Options!

Once upon a time, on a cold, and snowy winters day, I had the time to bake a recipe two ways!  Seems like a fairytale, that I would actually have the time to attempt such a feat.  But it was not just cold, it was really really cold.  Like, -30 with the windchill, cold.  So realistically, I wasn't going anywhere!  A stay in your jammies, and watch movies, and cuddle, kind of winters day.  But first we must fuel bodies for the day ahead, and fill our bellies with a fantastical breakfast. 
Carrot cake in a pancake form?!...not sure how these have never graced this kitchen before, they are seriously so, so good.  Sweet, and light, with a hint of spice, and so much more acceptable than a slice of cake for breakfast...not that I've ever done such a thing before*wink*!   We've been craving/dreaming/drooling about them ever since.  
When I mentioned making them vegan (why did I say anything at all?!), of course I received cringes from Mr. health nut (insert sarcastic tone).  I haven't had the opportunity to play with many vegan baking recipes, so decided it was worth the effort in the name of experimentation, and I did have the time, after all.  Honestly, I really couldn't tell the difference, from the vegan to the non versions, if you like me, also have a house of complainers...maybe just don't tell them!  Delicious success!
I kept the walnuts and dried berries as a topping instead of mixing them in, so as to hear less complaints from the littles, and poured a healthy dose of maple syrup over the stack.   A sweet cream cheese drizzle of some sort (for the dairy-lovers out there!) would have been amazing too, maybe on the next round!  

Vegan Carrot PanCakes
Recipe Adapted From: Isa-Does-It Cookbook

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1 cup almond milk (or your fave non-dairy milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 cup finely grated carrot

In a small mixing bowl, using a fork, beat the flax seeds together with the milk for about a minute. Add the vinegar, water, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Mix well.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined, then fold in the grated carrot. Let batter rest for at least 5 minutes.
Preheat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray or oil. Add batter about 1/4 cup at a time. Cook for 2-4 minutes, or until bubbles appear in centre of the pancake, then flip and cook until lightly browned, another minute or two.
To keep them warm, I place them on a cooking sheet in the oven at a low heat, until all the batter is used up. Serve with dried berries, walnuts or pecans, and maple syrup.

Carrot PanCakes (Regular aka Non-Vegan)

1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (The juice or vinegar added to the milk makes buttermilk! - let it sit a minute to curdle)
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 cup finely grated carrot

Add the vinegar or lemon juice to milk, and allow to curdle (or use buttermilk in lieu).
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined, then fold in the grated carrot. Preheat a large non-stick pan over medium heat.  Lightly coat pan with cooking spray or oil.  Add batter about 1/4 cup at a time. Cook for 2-4 minutes, or until bubbles appear in centre of the pancake, then flip and cook until lightly browned, another minute or two.
To keep them warm, I place them on a cooking sheet in the oven at a low heat, until all the batter is used up.  Serve with dried berries, walnuts or pecans, and maple syrup.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Food Swoon's First Birthday & A Flourless Chocolate Cake!

It's Food Swoon's First Birthday!!  It's crazy to think that it has already been one year writing this blog.  It hasn't been a year free of drama though, there has been more than one time that I've considered throwing in the towel.  I started this blog as a creative outlet for myself, but it's really alot of work!  I like to stay busy and learn new skills, and feel like I have something to look forward to, even in the dull-drum routine of the everyday.  Wake up, workout, get the kids ready for school, go to work, come home, cook dinner, extra-curricular activity of the season, go to bed, routine.  Something I think many of you can relate to.
This blog allows me to think ahead and look forward to how I could make dinner a little more exciting!  Maybe an extra special batch of cookies on the weekend, instead of the same old recipe over and over.  I get to practice my photography skills, and hone my computer and writing skills...I've come a long way, some of those first photos are totally cringe-worthy, but still have a long way to go!  I constantly harass Cory to help me figure out Photoshop, and other web design stuff that confounds me, and my kids enjoy thinking of Sunday Funday activities, even if I have less time to post them than last year.  If nothing else, this blog has become a fun little family project.  
Hopefully you've enjoyed the journey as well?  Please comment on posts and let me know what you think - it gives me feedback and inspiration, especially on the days I'm feeling like giving up!

For my first Blog Birthday, I really debated on what I should make to celebrate.  It was going to be cake, that part was easy.  But what kind of cake?!  Too many cakes ideas, swirling in my brain!  
Cory really thought I should make my signature cake - Carrot Cake.  But I have made that sooooo many times, I just wasn't feeling it.  I wanted the cake that I've never had the opportunity to bake.  
I was craving a chocolate cake...somewhat healthy?...and guilt-free if possible?  This Flourless Chocolate Cake fit the bill perfectly!   It turned out to be one of the most decadent tasting cakes I have ever created.  So rich, and dark, and chocolaty.  Almost the consistency of a cheesecake, because it is that dense.  But get this! This cake contains NO white sugar, NO butter, NO heavy creams, NO white flour!  Yes!  Gloriously clean, and gluten-free!  

P.S.  For my blog birthday I (finally) added another social media tool. Come follow more Food Swooning on Instagram!

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Recipe Adapted From:Yammies Gluten Freedom

1 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips ( I used 76% Cocoa President’s Choice Black Label Equateur Origine baking chocolate)
6 eggs
1 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup strong coffee
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three cake pans, and line with parchment paper, or dust with cocoa.
Melt the oils and chocolate chips on the stove top using a double boiler, I use a make shift double boiler, with a stainless steel bowl placed on top of a pot of simmering water.  You could also use the microwave in a pinch.
While chocolate is melting, beat together the eggs and sugar for about five minutes at high speed until pale and doubled in volume. Add the coffee and vanilla to the eggs continuing to beat.  Next sift in the cocoa and salt and mix again.  And finally, stream in the melted chocolate and oil, beating until combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, try to smooth out as best as possible, as they don't really rise or even out during baking.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out with some crumbs attached but no longer wet.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

2 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
3/4 cup coconut milk
3-4 Tablespoons agave or honey (Optional - I used really dark chocolate, so wanted to add a little sweetness)

Using a double boiler, melt chocolate, then slowly add 3/4 cup of coconut milk, whisking as you add.  Whisk in the agave or honey as well, if you would like more sweetness.  Once smooth and glossy, you can use the ganache just like this, or you can whip it up a bit for some added volume for layers.  Reserve half the ganache for whipping for layers, and the other half for pouring over the top. 
Place the bowl of melted chocolate in a larger bowl of ice water and whip vigorously, add the extra coconut milk if you wish for creamier layers.
Spread the ganache, or the whipped ganache in between the layers of cake, and then allow to chill briefly, before pouring the pure ganache over the top of the cake, allowing simply to drip over the sides, or spreading until smooth.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Garlicky Baked Fries

These are one of my fave ways to do fries.  The mega garlic, and subtle kick of the cayenne work in perfect harmony.  And you know how it goes with mega garlic, everybody's gotta eat 'em.  But with these oven baked fries you won't hear any complaints...except from maybe our Mr. 5 year old resident picky pants.  But he's picky about everything, sooooo, grain of salt and all that!

Garlicky Baked Fries
Recipe Adapted From: Lottie and Doof

6 garlic cloves, minced
6 Tablespoons canola oil
3 russet potatoes, washed and cut into wedges
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 465° F. Combine the garlic and oil in a large bowl and microwave until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.  Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne in a small bowl.
Take about 5 tablespoons of the oil and use to grease the baking sheet, leaving the garlic behind.  Add the potatoes to the bowl with the remaining oil and garlic, and toss to coat. 
Sprinkle the spice mixture over potatoes and again, toss to coat. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake 30 to 40 minutes, turning once halfway.  Serve alongside, a juicy burger, or salad, or just a bottle of ketchup!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Sriracha - Caramel Popcorn

A Valentine's Day that falls on a perfect is that?!  But you know what?  I think we're going out for dinner this special eve.  We don't go our for dinner as a family often, but I really enjoy not having to cook every once and a while.  Someone else can cook it up, bring it to our table, and do all the clean up...and I love them for it!
Waiting patiently in the pantry, will be this delicious caramel-y concoction.  It might not be popcorn for dinner this Friday night, but this spicy & sweet Sriracha - Caramel Popcorn is gonna make for an awesome midnight capper snacker.

Sriracha Caramel Popcorn
Adapted from The Kitchn

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 Tablespoons Sriracha

Preheat the oven to 250°F.  Spray baking sheet with oil or line with parchment paper, and set aside.  I used my Whirly-pop to make the popcorn.  Melt the coconut oil, add the popcorn kernels, and turn the crank until popping stops.
transfer popcorn to bowl, and give it a shake so all the unpopped kernels fall to the bottom.

Using a medium sized pot, over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add to the butter the sugar, bring to a boil, and keep it there for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, and scraping the sides as you stir.  Remove the saucepan from the heat, and add in the salt, baking soda and sriracha.  The caramel will froth up - and that's okay!  Continue to stir until caramel is thick and glossy.
Transfer about half of the popped popcorn using your hands to the prepared baking sheet, taking care to leave the unpopped kernels behind.  Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and stir to coat. Add second half of popcorn, and repeat.
Place baking sheet in preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes, stirring and breaking up clumps every 10 minutes.   Remove from oven, and allow to cool right on the baking sheet.  Transfer to an airtight container for storage, or commence the feeding frenzy!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cocoa Hemp Heart Bites

For Valentine's Day I wanted to gift you a recipe that is full of only good stuff...because I care for you, silly!  Hemp hearts are one of my new fave ways to add more nutritional value to recipes that I'm experimenting with.  Hemp hearts are shelled hemp seeds, or the "heart" (hence the name!), and the most nutritious part of the seed. 
They contain all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce!!  Hemp hearts even manage to beat out my favourite Flax seeds as a source of essential fatty acids, and contain more than any other nut or seed oil.  They even contain the rare Omega-6 Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), which helps us have pretty skin & hair, and assists in overall heart health, among other amazing benefits.

If you haven't played with hemp hearts in your recipes yet, give it a go!  They have a very mild, slightly nutty flavour, tender texture, and are versatile enough for both sweet and savory dishes. Try adding some on top of yogurt, stirred into oatmeal, in a salad or burger, or in sweet little treats like these yummy cocoa bites!

Cocoa Hemp Heart Bites
1 cup peanut butter (or alternate nut butter)
10 - 12 pitted dates
1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup hemp hearts (I used Manitoba Harvest brand)
1/2 cup rolled oats

Using a food processor or heavy duty blender, blend together the oats, hemp hearts, coconut, and cocoa.  Next add the dates and pulsing until they break down. Add to the mixture the peanut butter, coconut, and pulse until well incorporated.  You should end up with a thick dough.
Roll the dough into small balls (bites!), and place in a well sealing container in the fridge to firm up.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nutella Filled Cinnamon Rolls

Did you know that Nutella has it's own day?!  Sure does - and it's today!  If you're a Nutella lover, check out the World Nutella Day website, which has a tonne of great links and mega Nutella recipes.
I actually made these rolls before I even knew a World Nutella Day existed!  I was thinking how cute and delicious they would be for Valentine's day, or over the weekend that follows, when you have time to get your bake on!

I use my favourite biscuity/roll recipe for the dough, which requires no rising or kneading of any sort, making them fast and easy to throw together.  In keeping (slightly) with a traditional cinnamon roll, they still have the cinnamon spice, and the sweet delicious goo of the caramelized brown sugar.  Top that with a cream cheese frosing, and you have a uber-sweet treat to share with your lovelies!
Nutella Filled Cinnamon Rolls
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk  (I used 2% and added lemon for homemade buttermilk)
1/4-1/2 cup Nutella (soften in microwave if necessary, for easier spreading)
7 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . Grease a 9-inch(ish) casserole dish, and set aside. 
Blend together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add to the flour mixture the butter, and mix until crumbly.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, then mix into the dry ingredients.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to form a 9-inch rectangle. 
In a small bowl, mix brown sugar with the cinnamon. Carefully spread the Nutella over the rolled-out dough leaving a border around the edges.  Sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon mixture over the top.
Roll up the dough, jelly roll-style, and cut crosswise into about 9 slices; place the slices cut side down in the prepared baking pan, and bake until golden, 35 to 40 minutes. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 package of cream cheese, softened
1/4cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 cups icing sugar
Using a stand up or hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.
Add in the vanilla and nutmeg and continue to mix.  On low speed, slowly add in icing sugar a cup at a time, until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.  Drizzle or schmear your cooled cinnamon rolls in this frosting, and clear your schedule for some cardio later in the day!