Tag Archives: snack

Roasted Plum and Pumpkin Hand Pies

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Wow! A pumpkin recipe…very original this time of year. But how could I not? I’ve been bombarded with everything pumpkin for the past few weeks now. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice Oreos, pumpkin spice everything. I even saw a picture for pumpkin spice tampons, which I’m sure was a joke. There are pumpkins for sale at every store and every corner so naturally I had to pick a few up. I had never actually cooked a fresh pumpkin before but since the little pie pumpkins were only $1.29 each I really couldn’t have gone wrong.

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Since I had some blue plums left over I decided to roast them with a little sugar and make plum pumpkin hand pies. Maybe it sounds like a weird combination but since they’re both in season, why not? It seemed like a great idea to me and also I could’ve called them Plumkin Hand Pies. What a cute name, right? No…no that’s not right. I did a quick google search to see if the name “Plumkin” had been used before, because I was sure it must’ve. Nothing is ever original anymore, especially with the internet. So, my results were not what I was expecting. If you’d like, you can look it up yourself because I don’t think the definition of a “plumkin” is appropriate for a food blog. Unless you like throwing up while looking at pretty pictures of food.

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Um, so back to the food! These little pies are made with my one and only favourite pie crust, the salted butter pie crust. Which, I really do believe is the key to a good pie, no matter what the filling is. Without this crust all pies are mediocre, in my opinion. Each mini pie gets a dollop of spiced creamy pumpkin puree and half a beautifully dark roasted plum. The filling is a perfect offset to the salted butter crust and the size makes them great for a snack, plus they’re super cute.

Mini Roasted Plum Pumpkin Hand Pies with Salted Butter Crust
Makes 20 2×2″ pies filled with spiced pumpkin and roasted plum

Pumpkin Puree:
1 small pie pumpkin ( or 110g of canned pumpkin puree)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of salt
2 packed tablespoons of brown sugar

Roasted Plums:
10 small blue/damson plums, halved lengthwise and pitted
3 tbsp caster sugar

Salted Butter Crust:
250g all purpose flour
225g cold, salted butter, cut into small pieces
about 1/4 cup of cold water

1 egg and a little water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 375˚F

Cut off stem and halve pumpkin and scrape out seeds. Rub the inside of the pumpkin with a few drops of vegetable oil. Line a rimmed tray with foil and place pumpkin halves skin side up. Roast in oven for about an hour or until soft.

While the pumpkin is baking, prepare plums. Lay the halves skin side down in a roasting tray and sprinkle sugar evenly over top. Place into oven with the pumpkin and roast for about 15-20 minutes or until juices are bubbling and the plums have softened.

Make the crust by combining the flour and butter in a food processor then adding the water, a little at a time while the machine runs and until the dough starts to come together. Knead lightly by hand. If making by hand, cut the butter into the flour until crumbly. Add the water and mix and form into a dough. Flatten with the palms of your hands and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Let plums and pumpkin cool to room temperature. Once the pumpkin has cooled, scrape it out of its skin. Puree in a food processor. I only used about half a cup of puree (110g). The rest of the pumpkin can be used in cakes, pies, cookies, stews, soups, etc. Blend the spices into your half a cup of puree.

Roll out the dough to about 3mm thick and cut out squares with a cookie cutter or with your knife. I made mine with a 2×2″ cutter. Different shapes can be used as well. Gather the scraps and refrigerate while you fill the pies.

To fill the pies, first lay out half the squares and brush the edges with egg wash. Place about a tsp of pumpkin puree into the middle of the square and top with half a roasted plum. Take another square and gently press it between your fingers to make the surface larger. Place it on top of the filling and gently press it down on all sides. Using a fork, seal the edges, either with the tips of the fork or the whole side. Repeat with the rest of the squares. Place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and repeat with the leftover scraps of dough. Once all the hand pies are ready to be baked, brush with egg wash and bake at 375˚F for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Can be left at room temperature for a couple days in a sealed container and then refrigerated for about a week. Reheat in low oven.

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End of Winter Cranberry Chocolate Buns

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Winter is finally starting to let up over here in Toronto. There are still a few patches of snow here and there but for the most part the weather is warming up and I can finally stop wearing my heavy winter boots! This winter has been the longest and coldest I can remember in a long time. Ice storms, -40˚C days, and countless extreme cold weather warnings. This past Christmas we dealt with about a week of power outages across the city. Mine lasted from the night of my Birthday up until the day after Christmas. I sadly remember sitting in a slump in my frozen living room, wearing 5 layers of clothing, on Christmas day crying “This is the worst Christmas ever, I hate Rob Ford”. Yeah, I blame it on Rob Ford.

So, to be honest, I don’t think I have ever been so excited for summer to come. With its hot days, going to the beach, walking around Toronto’s different neighbourhoods, biking around the island, sitting out on patios, going to farmer’s markets, and hopefully some gardening. That is what I’m looking forward to this summer.

But for now, since it is still a little chilly outside, I like to warm up with some tea or coffee and something warm to eat. These buns are a nice way to use up some frozen cranberries that most people have lying around after their winter season. The combination of tart cranberries and the sweet dark chocolate makes for a nice contrast. This recipe comes from one of my all time favourite books: Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It is a wonderful book that I was lucky enough to get for half price about 10 years ago in a small book shop in downtown Toronto. It is filled with wonderful recipes for buns, bread, tarts, cakes, and small pastries from their travels around the world. As well, each recipe comes with its own story from their travels or interesting backgrounds of where the food came from. It’s probably one of my favourite books just because of that. Who doesn’t love to read stories about the food they’re just about to make?

However, I did not follow the recipe exactly but instead made these little buns vegan by swapping the dairy products for vegan alternatives and omitting the egg from the original recipe. They’re just as delicious as the originals but maybe just a little bit better for the world.

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Cranberry Chocolate Sweet Buns (vegan)
Makes 1 loaf of 8 rolls (can be easily doubled)
Adapted from Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

1 cup almond milk, heated until lukewarm
1 tsp active dry yeast
About 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tbsp and a little more
1 tbsp sugar of your choice (caster, coconut, brown, etc.)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks, chilled
1/4 cup frozen cranberries
2 tbsp of almond milk or melted margarine for topping
2 tbsp coarse sugar for sprinkling

Lightly grease one 9×5 inch loaf pan with vegan margarine.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, pour in warm almond milk and stir in yeast. Let stand for about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the flour. Add margarine, in pieces, sugar, and salt and stir to incorporate. Add 1 more cup of flour and stir in until fully incorporated. Now add in the chilled chocolate and cranberries with 1/4 cup more flour. Mix until incorporated. If not using a stand mixer, turn out onto a very well floured surface an knead gently, incorporate more flour until the dough is only slightly sticky. If using a stand mixer, just follow the kneading process and incorporate more flour until it is only slightly sticky.

Place dough into a bowl and cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Once risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently punch down. Cut into 8 equal sized pieces. Lightly grease the palm of your hand and roll each piece into a ball. Place each ball beside each other into the greased loaf pan. Cover the pan with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes while you preheat your oven.

Preheat oven to 400˚F and place rack in the middle.

Once buns have risen, lightly brush with almond milk or melted margarine and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Immediately remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

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Strawberry Shortcake, not just for Dessert

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It’s been a while.

The past 7 months has been a busy time for me. Starting a new job, moving to a new place, and of course school. It was a stressful time for me to say the least.

Unfortunately, within those 7 months I really let go of my healthy eating habits and started to eat a lot of processed foods. It’s hard to plan and cook meals when you’re so busy with other things and I probably had a lot more instant ramen noodles and Korean Chocopies than I’d like to admit. However, it’s no excuse for poor eating habits since I know a lot of people manage to eat healthy while leading busy lives.

Hopefully getting back into the blog will help me with getting back on track!

For this post I decided to health-ify strawberry shortcake, a common dessert that’s full of fat, processed sugar, and gluten. My version, however, has none of these things. The biscuits are gluten free, sugar free, and sweetened with apples and blackberries. While the whipped cream is replaced with greek yoghurt and out of season strawberries are improved with a little vanilla and maple syrup. It’s delicious, in it’s own healthy way, without making you feel guilty and without making you feel like you need to take a nap.

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Healthy Strawberry Shortcake (gluten free, low sugar)
Makes 5 servings

Scones (gluten free, sugar free)
Makes 5 scones
Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories Apple and Oat Biscuits

100g Oat Flour, made from ground oats
75g Light Buckwheat Flour
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp organic coconut oil, hard, and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened, greek yoghurt
1/4 cup organic homo milk
1 small apple shredded
About 10 blackberries, chopped roughly

Preheat oven to 425˚F

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add in coconut oil and using 2 knives or a pastry cutter, cut in the oil until it is evenly distributed in small pieces. Add in the rest of the ingredients except blackberries and bring into a dough. If too sticky add more flour and if too dry add more milk. Gently fold in the blackberries. Lightly dust your work surface with buckwheat flour and pat out evenly to about an inch thick. Cut into squares with a knife or whatever shape you like. Lightly score the top of the biscuits from corner to corner.

Bake on a parchment lined sheet for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bottom is browned and crisp and the inside is slightly moist.

Strawberry Compote
Makes about 1 cup of compote

1 1/2 cups of ripe strawberries, chopped
1 tbsp of maple syrup
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp of lemon juice (optional)

In a small saucepan, cook strawberries and syrup on medium low heat until thick and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Add vanilla and lemon juice.

Yoghurt “Cream”
Makes 1 cup

1 cup of plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp of maple syrup
1/4 tsp of vanilla

Mix ingredients together and keep refrigerated

To assemble the shortcake, break biscuits into triangles and layer with cream and compote. The biscuits are best served warm with the cold cream and warm compote.

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Miniature Meals

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No, you’re not seeing wrong.  That’s a very mini hamburger that could fit in the palm of your hand. Actually, it could fit in the palm of your baby’s hand.

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On Monday I decided to try out a crazy Japanese snack kit that I bought at one of the asian supermarkets in town. Originally I thought I was just buying a box of hamburger shaped candy. However, upon further inspection it turned out to be a DIY mini hamburger kit of sorts and with no candy in sight.

The kit comes with a whole load of powder filled packets and some mixing trays and utensils. How fun is that?! All you need is some water and a microwave to cook your very own mini hamburger, fries, and cola. A whole meal that will fit in the palm of your hand. Really! Ok, so it’s not exactly a meal, maybe a meal if you were the size of a hamster but still…it was fun.

I’ll just show you a bit of what I did so you can get the gist of it but mainly I just wanted to post it cause they’re so  darn   cute.

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From the pictures you can see the fries being made. Essentially, all I had to do was mix the fry powder with a certain amount of water, mix it up, press it down into the ridged container, microwave it, and slice it into itty bitty little fries. Yes, they are adorable and surprisingly tasted a little bit like fries.

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Next, I made the hamburger buns, patty, and cheese. Yes, you even make the cheese. There’s real cheese powder in there. So weird. So cool.

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Want to know what else? The cola fizzes!

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So, was all the work worth it for the taste? Was it delicious?

Absolutely not.

Though, I wasn’t expecting it to taste good. I mean, come on. Making food out of powder in your microwave? Also, in general, I find that western food created by asian companies always tastes strange. The bun for one was really sweet, the ketchup that I made was severely artificial, and don’t even get me started with the patty.

I managed to eat one and that was enough. But, overall it was totally worth it for the fun of making it. Now I just need to get my hands on their ramen making kit and I’m all set.

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Truffles…The Raw, Vegan Kind

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This past week has been a little bit stressful for me. No, I’m not over worked or tired from studying. I’m actually pretty busy doing nothing. I’ve been stressing myself out with the fact that there’s not much for me to do now that I’ve finished my studies for the time being and I’m only working a part time (very part time) job. Is it really possible that I’m able to stress myself out more than when I was super busy working a full time job and going to school full time? Oh yeah, and I’m sure the driving lessons aren’t helping. Nor the fact that my driving instructor always reminds me not to kill him.

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Anyway, I’ve taken to meditation to try and relieve some of the stress and anxiety I’ve been having. The problem is that I’m only able to go for about 10 minutes without wanting to fall asleep or…eat something. Luckily, I’ve come across some studies where chocolate, the dark kind of course, is said to lower stress levels as well. Though, you’d think that with the vast amounts of chocolate I eat I’d be the most care free person in the world.

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These dark chocolate truffles are a take on a recipe from Vegetarian Everyday, the new cookbook from Green Kitchen Stories. They’re a perfect healthy snack with no added sugar and an additional healthy boost from spirulina. I changed up the original recipe a little bit by making a few different variations. One is filled with syrupy balsamic vinegar and rolled in coconut sugar, another is mixed with a little bit of cayenne for some heat and rolled in cocoa, and the last is the regular truffle rolled in dried coconut. I’m sure there are a million different possible variations that would be delicious. Maybe some peppermint extract or some fresh herbs such as basil, rosemary, or lavender would be great. These truffles are also really beautiful and would make a great gift since they’re vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, and raw. They could also be made caffeine free if you’re into that sort of thing (just use carob instead of the cocoa).

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Cocoa Date Truffles with 3 variations (raw, vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free)
Makes about 20 – 30 truffles
Adapted from Vegetarian Everyday by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl from Green Kitchen Stories

20 dates, pitted
2 tbsp extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil
2 tbsp raw cacao or regular unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp spirulina, or substitute with more cocoa
a good pinch of pink himalayan sea salt

Variations:
Cayenne pepper, to taste
about 1 tsp aged balsamic vinegar
extra cocoa powder
dried shredded coconut
coconut sugar

In a food processor, combine the dates and coconut oil. Blend on low until smooth. Keep scraping down sides of the bowl. Add cocoa, spirulina, and salt and pulse until thoroughly combined. This can also be done in a bowl by using your hands to knead everything together. Refrigerate mixture for about 30 minutes or until cold and firm. Divide the mixture into 3 equal pieces.

Cayenne Truffles: add cayenne powder to taste and knead with a fork or by hand. Start off with about an 1/8 tsp and taste for heat. Roll into balls and roll in cocoa powder.

Balsamic Truffles: remove about 2 tbsp of mixture from the second piece and mash in about 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar. The mixture should be very sticky. Divide the rest of the portion into balls. Flatten each out and place a little bit of the balsamic mixture into each one. Fold up the edges of the truffles and roll into balls. Roll in coconut sugar.

Basic Truffles: roll into equal sized balls and roll into coconut flakes or whatever else you would like

Truffles are best kept in the fridge.

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