Monday, 11 August 2014

7 Sugar Hacks - Up Your Treat Game!

Even though I'm currently trying to cut-back on sugar, I still appreciate a good dessert hack. For the next event which requires some treats, I'll be sure to use one of these simple tricks:

1) Making marshmallow flowers, by simply cutting marshmallows on a diagonal, and dipping in coloured sugar.

Source: iVillage

2) Dip-dyed marshmallows made by dipping marshmallows in food colouring.

Source: Idlewife

3) Make cupcakes "fluffy" with cotton candy.

Source: Martha Stewart
4) Oreos + smarties = owl faces!

Source: Chocolate for Breakfast

5) Classic rice crispies? Expected. Trix crispies? A colourful surprise!

Source: Cravings of a Lunatic

6) Ditch sprinkles for a colourful cereal topping (then proceed to be naughty, and have cupcakes for breakfast ... )

Source: The Cupcake Daily Blog

7) Get your glitz on - top cupcakes with rock candy!

Source: Dip it in Chocolate


Monday, 28 July 2014

G-Free Almond Muffins

Aside from trying to cut sugar, I've also started to cut my processed carb intake. Although I still keep my whole-grains at breakfast and lunch, as well as unlimited fruit and veg, I need to manage my stress-eating habit of shoveling my face full of empty carbs.

Since I find that simply ignoring cravings ends in an eventual binge, I thought that swapping flour-based muffins with almond-based muffins, would be a good way to satisfy my cravings. After reading through some recipes online, I came up with a VERY successful mix of ingredients. The recipe I developed is below, AND
it's gluten free, for all my g-free friends! My only caveat, is that you need to choose a protein powder you love the taste of, because the flavour of the powder will really be pronounced.

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):
  • 1 & 1/3 Cups almond meal (also sold as ground almonds, or almond flour)
  • 5 Scoops white chocolate or vanilla protein powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/3 coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Melt coconut oil in the microwave, in 10 second increments until mostly liquid
  3. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients until mixed well
  4. Line a standard muffin tin with liners, and evenly distribute the batter among 12 liners
  5. Place in the oven, and bake for 12 minutes

Monday, 9 June 2014

Caramel & Cookie Brownies

As you've seen in one of my previous posts, I'm going through a phase in which I love combining desserts. With there being a bake sale at my office last week, I was given the perfect opportunity for some sweet experimentation.

Now, this being a bakesale, I wanted to go with a base that's a known crowd pleaser. Going with the "you can never fail with chocolate" rule, brownie seemed like the way to go. Also, I had some leftover chocolate chip cookie chunks hanging-around in my freezer, that I figured would add a nice bit of texture. My only concern though, was that cookie and brownie alone would get too dry. After a bit of pondering, I figured that a nice homemade caramel would be the perfect glue to bring this all together. 

After combining the brownie batter and cookie chunks, I laid broken chunks of caramel on top, which seeped-in to the brownies while baking.

The final result, as seen up top, were rich and super moist brownies that were indeed a crowd pleaser at the office.

Ingredients (makes 21 bars):

  • 1 Cup white sugar
  • 1/2 Cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 Cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 Cup cookie chunks (store-bought cookies should be fine)
  • 1 serving homemade caramel, from this recipe
  • Make the caramel as per the recipe in the link, and leave to harden in the freezer
  • Once the caramel has hardened, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and mix all the brownie ingredients together, adding the cookie chunks last
  • Spread batter in a greased 13"x9" pan, and lay broken caramel chunks on to the batter, just like in the picture above
  • Bake for 25 minutes, the let fully cool at room temperature


Monday, 2 June 2014

Quick-Prep Turkey Meatloaf

Although I used to think that meatloaf was a tacky dish from the era of 70's housewives, in the past year I've come to appreciate how loafin' turns budget-friendly ground meat, into something compact and flavourful. Also, being one of those Monday's where I had a big, long to-do list to tackle, I really needed something I could prep in a flash, then shove in the oven to enjoy later.

Adapting my previous favourite meatloaf recipe, I went for turkey this time, and came-up with this 5-minute prep combo:

  • 1kg/2lbs of lean ground turkey
  • 1 box of Stove Top Stuffing, turkey flavour
  • 1/2 cup calorie-wise BBQ sauce (*This is much lower in sugar than both regular BBQ sauce, and ketchup)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp each, water and unsweeted almond milk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) To make this a one-dish recipe, grease a casserole dish and mix all ingredients except for half of the BBQ sauce, directly in the pan.

3) Once well-mixed, coat the loaf with the other half of the BBQ sauce and sprinkle with chili powder, and pop into the oven for 1 hour.


Sunday, 1 June 2014

My Smoothie Addiction + Favourite Flavour Combos

Although I don't count calories, I do count my daily servings of fruits and veg. However, like most busy folks, sometimes getting those 6 to 10 servings is a challenge. What I started to find, was that blending my fruits and greens the night before, and sipping my servings throughout the day was perfect for getting a servings boost. The only downside, is that I've developed a reputation for showing-up to work meetings, sipping weird concoctions out of mason jars. Oh well ... At least it's a conversation starter!

That being said, here are some of my favourite smoothie blends:


- LC

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Finding Happy in the Kitchen

As you can probably tell from the long absence of posts on this blog, I've been in a bit of a cooking rut. After returning from San Fran, my focus was on work, a French exam, and training for a 10k race. Although I was still eating some great homemade foods (zucchini bread, overnights oats, and my go-to quinoa+edamame+avocado+broccoli combo), it felt like I lost my cooking mojo.

Although my cooking motivation usually lies in realm of trying to make healthy meals on the cheap, I can't stop thinking about this short article, which talked about one cook's happiness in the kitchen. Then it hit me; my cooking mojo's missing ingredient, is Happy! Instead of being the task master 5000, I need to find ways to make my cooking experiences less about checking-off boxes, and more about making things that make me smile.

That being said, I've already put some of the items below into action (1 to 5), but in this "Ways to find "Happy" in the Kitchen" list, I've also included some additional thoughts and ideas to keep the stove running and the smiles coming:

1) Playing with food! Who says that only kids can have nori smiles on their rice?

2) Baking inceptions. As the cronut has proven, people love when two different desserts come together.
Easter cupcakes in a chocolate chip cookie shell

3) Being shallow in the produce department. There's nothing wrong with buying a veggie just because it looks good.
Heritage Carrot Slices
4) Accessorize. Fun picks and props may lead to inspiration, to assemble something great.
From Daiso
5) Decorating the kitchen. Even a cute little sign or window decal can help make time in the kitchen more enjoyable.
Sakura decals
6) Accept a challenge. Having a friend provide a challenge to cook with a weird veggie, or recreate a dish.

7) Dressing swap. It's hard to get through an entire jar of homemade sauce on your own (unless it's this delicious eggplant sauce). Ask a fellow foodie to partake in a sauce swap.

8) Recipe book exchanges. Not only does this make economic sense, but friends can also give the DL on what's good or not.

9) Feed more mouths. Invite friends over for dinner more often, or offer to bring homemade goodies to their place.

10) Themed foods. I find that getting an abstract theme forces you to be creative and have fun. A great example is when I helped with these Gravity themed tethered cake pops.

Happy [grease] trails ahead!

- LC

Monday, 21 April 2014

San Francisco - Bites, Sips, and other Bits

The famous Philz Coffee.

Random Korean snack.

Random Korean snack.
Authentic Mexican food in the Mission.
For those who cook with cactus.

Craftsman & Wolves - crazy innovations in making and flavour.

Some chowder by the pier.

While in the States, I had to try Gordon Ramsay's death row meal of choice.

No idea what this restaurant is, but I loved the food illustrations.

The cafe where The Godfather screenplay was written.
Pizza in the North Beach.

Fresh crab from Swan Oyster Depot.