Monthly Archives: February 2019

Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread, and My Childhood Dream

Garden veggie spread in a container, next to two slices of bread being spread with the cream cheese mixture. Next to those items is a mason jar that is spilling out dehydrated peppers, and a garlic bulb in the corner.
I can’t even tell you how yummy this healthy cream cheese spread is! So yum. All the yums!

When I was a child, I used to loooooove eating raw red peppers. My mother would cut them into sticks and give them to us for lunches and snacks and I would gobble them up. I always said that when I was grown up, I would eat nothing but red peppers for a whole day. Fast forward a few years (*cough* decades *cough*) and my sweet husband, who knows that I still love red peppers, comes home from a shopping trip with several BAGS of them. Now, I love red peppers but there’s only so many even I can eat. What to do? Well, I sliced and froze some, and then I dehydrated the rest. I used the dehydrated peppers in soups and stews and tossed them in my Best Ever Macaroni Salad, but I still had a ton left. That is, until I started making Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread!

This cream cheese spread is chock-full of veggies and is tastes absolutely incredible for something that only has four ingredients. It’s slightly sweet and totally savoury and is perfect to spread on fresh bread, toasted bagels, or even crackers.

I plan to add it to the next cheese and cracker platter that I make; that is, if any is left after the DH and I finish taste-testing it! I can not overstate how delicious this spread is. And bonus, there are no nasty preservatives in it, only healthy ingredients.

This spread is so good, it will have you looking forward to meal times, just so you can eat more of it! (True story, just replace ‘meal time’ with ‘late-night snack’ and you’ll be living my life!)

Want to make some yourself? Let’s!

Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread

This healthy cream cheese spread is chock-full of veggies, but tastes like your favourite coffee shop bagel spread. 

Servings 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. dehydrated red and green peppers
  • 1 tbsp. dried chives
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (227 g)

Instructions

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the dehydrated red and green peppers to a powder. You can leave a few larger chunks in, but most of it should be a finely ground powder. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a spice grinder, or even (IF you’re making a large quantity) a blender. 

  2. Soften cream cheese in a microwave for 15 seconds. This makes it easier to mix everything together. 

  3. Stir all ingredients together. 

  4. And…you’re done! Enjoy your super-delicious and healthy spread!

Dried chives, ground dehydrated peppers, and garlic powder are in a bowl. Dried peppers are spilling out of a mason jar on its side.
Three simple ingredients bring a whack-ton of flavour!

This Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread deepens in flavour the longer you let it sit, but you can also eat it right away. Personally, I like to heat it in the microwave for a few seconds after pulling it out of the fridge, so that the cream cheese spreads more easily, but if you’re serving it on a cheese platter, room temperature would be perfect.

Next Post: Easy Chocolate & Strawberry Trifle with Almond Sherry Whipped Cream. Yes, it IS as delicious as it sounds! (Also way easier than it sounds!)

Dairy-Free Brownie Madeleines

Shell-shaped brownie cookies on a cooling tray.

A childhood friend and his father visited us this weekend, and I wanted to make a special dish for them, so I played around with a few recipes. And I came up with (Dairy-Free) Brownie Madeleines! Shell-shaped brownies that puff up splendidly and look extra good if you sprinkle them with icing sugar.

As it happens, I wasn’t able to make the recipe for my friend as the baby decided to have a growth spurt and wanted to eat and be with mummy all the time, so their loss is my waistline’s gain, as I made the recipe the day after they left. You can make the recipe too – it’s delish! While I use a madeleine tray that I borrowed from my mother (I live in a condo. I don’t have room to buy and store All The Baking Things.), you could easily use a well-greased muffin tray to make two-bite brownies instead of madeleines. Actually, that’s a great idea – someone do that and then let us know in the comments how it was!

Want to make the Brownie Madeleines yourself? Let’s!

Dairy-Free Brownie Madeleines

These cookies are more like a brookie: a brownie-cookie mashup! But they’re 100% delicious!

Servings 12 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa (plus 1 tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 c. soft plant-based margarine
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. sugar

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

  2. Spoon into a well-greased madeleine pan, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes or until the top of the brownie madeleines are springy.

  3. Let cool, sprinkle with icing sugar if you desire, and eat!

I used plant-based margarine in the recipe (a soft version) to make these dairy-free, but you could use melted butter if that’s all you have. And I used 1 tsp. of instant coffee powder to add a richness to the chocolatey taste, but I’ve also made them with 2 tsp. of regular coffee and they’re just as good.

Interested in some other variations? Why not dip them in melted white or dark chocolate? Or perhaps drizzle them with a little icing sugar icing? Mmm…want!

Next Post: An AMAZING recipe for preservative-free Vegetable Cream Cheese Spread! Seriously amazing! (Also amazingly easy.)

Easy Classic Bruschetta & Why I’m an Olive Oil Snob

A fresh and garlicky tomato topping on a toasted baguette slice!
A fresh and garlicky tomato topping on a crisply toasted baguette slice!

I think I’ve mentioned before that I grew up eating a wide range of cuisines, but one of my favourites is Italian. (Actually, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Italian food. So yummy!) My mother made a wide variety of Italian dishes, but one of my favourites was the bruschetta that she made. I had a random craving for it this week, so I got the recipe from her, tweaked it a bit, and have already eaten it twice. So that’s the recipe I’m sharing with you today: Easy Classic Bruschetta!

I’ve eaten bruschetta as a meal, but it’s usually eaten as an appetizer. You really want to use good quality ingredients in this recipe, since each ingredient really plays a starring role. Really nicely ripe tomatoes, some good quality olive oil, and some fresh garlic. And then any old baguette will do. A stale baguette is probably best, but if you don’t have one, just toast the sliced baguette as I do. And as I’ve said before, I don’t usually recommend salting food, but in this dish, don’t skip the salt and pepper. The dish will be flat without it!

I don’t bother adding parmesan cheese to bruschetta, the way a lot of people are used to eating it, but you could definitely add some in. Again, a good quality parmesan would be best since this dish is so simple, but if the refrigerated stuff is all you have, eh, you do you, boo!

Oh, and one last piece of advice: don’t skimp on the garlic! This is such a nicely fresh, crunchy, and garlicky dish, whether you serve it with a hot pasta dish in the winter, or with a cold pasta dish in the summer, or just as a snack!

Easy Classic Bruschetta

This simple dish is as classic and as comforting as Italian food gets, but thrown together in minutes.

Servings 6 people

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 c. olive oil good quality
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Roughly chop tomatoes and garlic. 

  2. Toss with remaining ingredients and set aside for 15 minutes to let the flavour mingle.

  3. In the meantime, slice a baguette on the diagonal and toast in the oven until lightly brown and slightly crispy. 

  4. Just before serving, top the toasted baguette slices with the fresh tomato mixture. And chow down!

As I said in earlier in this post, I recommend using really good olive oil in this recipe, since it’s such a key ingredient. And as I wrote in the title of this post, I’m a bit of an olive oil snob. Why? Well, I have some relatives in the Middle East and they send me the really pure first press olive oil from time to time and my goodness, is there ever a difference in flavour! I tend to cook with store-bought because why not, but for a dish like bruschetta, a high end olive oil can make a big difference! To be honest though, I’m not really a foodie snob — I just like good food! And this dish is some good eatin’! If you try out the recipe, come back and post in the comments what you thought of it!

Next Post: Hmm…perhaps an Easy Yet Decadent Chocolate Trifle flavoured with some almond sherry? With pillowy mountains of cream, and lightly dusted with chocolate shavings? Does that sound good?

Ultra-Creamy Hummus and a Sure-Fire Shortcut to Kitchen Zen

How to Make Ultra-Creamy Hummus

So creamy with a hint of piquant umami!

Usually I’m all about the quick and easy recipes, like my Easy Tex-Mex Potatoes or my Easiest Ever Orange Crush Slushie. Every now and then though, I share a recipe that might take a bit longer, but is worth it! This Ultra-Creamy Hummus recipe is one of those recipes! It actually doesn’t take that long, as I just dump all the ingredients in the blender and zap it and it’s done, but getting the main ingredient ready, well that’s another story!

The secret to this hummus? PEELED CHICKEPEAS. I know, I know, when I first came across the concept, I was all huh? Peeling chickpeas? Can chickpeas even be peeled? But it refers to removing the cellulose-based ‘skin’ on the chickpea. It’s that cellulose skin that makes hummus so grainy, and removing it makes the hummus ultra-creamy and smooth.

Peeling chickpeas is one of those tasks that you just can’t hurry. You can stand at the kitchen sink with the chickpeas in a bowl of water, and just zen out removing them one by one. As one of my friends said, it’s actually a meditative task. It forces you to slow down and calm down and just be in the moment. I don’t always peel my chickpeas, but when I do, I definitely feel more peaceful!

So, try it yourself! Peel those chickpeas and give yourself a few minutes of zen!

 

5 from 1 vote
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Ultra-Creamy Hummus

The extra step in this recipe makes the finished product ultra-smooth and extra creamy!

Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas (1 1/4 c)
  • 1/4 c. tahini
  • 1/8 c. lemon juice (fresh is best)
  • 1 tbsp. balsaminic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 clove garlic

Instructions

  1. Rinse chickpeas and peel off skins. Throw away skins.

  2. Place chickpeas in blender along with rest of ingredients and blend. 

  3. And...you're done!

Recipe Notes

If you like thicker hummus, use less water, or none at all. Make it to your specifications!

I used canned chickpeas because I just find it easier, but you could also boil your own. And, as I said, you don’t have to peel the chickpeas. It just makes the recipe that much creamier!

I serve hummus with veggies sticks and pita, as that’s how I ate it growing up, but it would be lovely served with some fresh falafel or tabbouleh salad! You do you, boo!

Next Post: Not sure yet. Maybe something decadently rich and creamy? But in healthy-sized portions, because I’m still trying to lose that baby weight. (She’s totally worth it, btw!)