Category Archives: Waste Not Want Not

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!)

Pastry-Wrapped Cranberry Baked Brie, Or How to Repurpose Leftovers!

Serve wedges of this buttery, cheesy, tangy gooeyness at your next get-together! Or, you know, when watching Netflix!

This year we hosted my family for both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, and put out yummy things to nosh on each time. One of the items was a lovely cheese and crackers tray. I love cheese and crackers as an appy, so I made one for each get-together. But after New Year’s was over, we still had some leftover brie. Not an entire wheel, but at that point I was rather cheese-and-crackered out, so thought I’d try to repurpose it into something else. (Not that leftover brie is a problem — I mean, it’s brie!) I also had some leftover cranberry sauce that I had made (so yummy and so easy — try it yourself!) so I decided to use that too. And voila,  I decided to turn it into Pastry-Wrapped Cranberry Baked Brie!

It really is rather easy. Just take some pie crust (I used my vodka pie crust recipe), some cranberry sauce, some brie, and wrap it up all together, pop it in the oven, and voila, cheesy melted goodness, wrapped up in buttery pastry with a dollop of sweetness!

It really is easy to make, and it looks (and tastes!) impressive. Want to make one of your own? Let’s!

 

5 from 1 vote
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Pastry-Wrapped Cranberry Baked Brie

This dish takes a brie and adds tangy cranberry sauce and buttery pie crust to it, for a delicious (and easy!) appetizer!

Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 1 wheel brie
  • 1 recipe pie crust
  • 6 tbsp. cranberry sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry dough into a circle. Spread 3 tbsp. of cranberry sauce in the centre. 

  3. Place the brie on top of the cranberry sauce-covered pastry, and spread the remaining 3 tbsp. of cranberry sauce on top of the brie.

  4. Bring up the edges of the pie crust to wrap around the brie.

  5. Roll out the remaining pie crust into a smaller circle and place on top of the brie. Pinch the edges of the pastry together so that no cheese or cranberry sauce is showing. 

  6. Wrap in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, and then remove foil and bake for a further 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. 

  7. Let sit for 10 minutes to let the cheese slightly solidify again, and serve! It will be ooey-goo-ily delicious!

By the way, you can use store-bought pastry dough and store-bought canned cranberry sauce, but it is just as easy and takes just as long to make it yourself as to go shopping for dough and sauce, so I encourage you to try making it from scratch yourself. If you make it, let us know in the comments what you thought of it!

My NYE cheese board, made from my Christmas Eve cheese board leftovers, and a few pantry staples. Once we were finished with it, I took the brie and turned it into Pastry-Wrapped Cranberry Baked Brie. We had already started sampling it when I decided I should take a photo.

p.s. – In case you were wondering, yes, once again I am typing this with an infant sleeping on me. She’s so cute and cuddly that I don’t even care that I have to contort myself to balance both her and my laptop at the same time! I really am enjoying this mom thing.

Next Post: Tex-Mex Potato Wedges? Or Cherry & Vanilla Oreo Mini Cheesecakes? Mmm…comfort food at its finest!

Linking Up at Full Plate Thursday!

Using Up Leftovers & How to Make Whoopie (Pies)

Plate o’ yumminess! *om nom nom* Oh, did you want some?

Whoopie pies. Ever made them? Ever eaten them? Ever even heard of them?

I’ve always read about whoopee pies (usually in novels set in Amish country) but never actually tasted one. They’re basically two super-puffy, cake-like cookies sandwiched together with some buttercream/marshmallow-y/fluffy icing-type filling. It’s always sounded rather unhealthy to me. Surely one cookie, sans icing, is healthier? (Not that I eat one cookie at a time. But theoretically speaking, it would be healthier, yes?)

Despite my love of health, healthiness, and moderation (except when it comes to chocolate), I decided to make some whoopie pies recently.

Why? Well, I had some leftover buttercream sitting in my fridge, and I really hate wasting food. I’m such a #wastenotwantnot sort of person. This even spills over into other areas of my life. The DH calls it ‘clutter’; I call it ‘crafting supplies’, and am forever whipping up pretty and useful things from leftover scraps of this and that. Which is sort of what happened in this case.

I had a whole pastry piping bag full of mint buttercream, leftover from various delicious baking sessions, and was brainstorming ways to use it up. Cupcakes? Did that recently. Mini cupcakes? Also did that recently. Frosting for soft cookies? Eh, doesn’t travel well, and I can’t eat a whole batch of cookies (well, obviously I could, and quite happily would, but my scale would be tsk-tsk-ing at me and I try to avoid that).

Then I thought…what about whoopie pies?!?!

It was the perfect opportunity to play around in the kitchen, bake something yummy, and use up that buttercream!

I made the cake/cookie part twice, just to make it was perfect. Not because I wanted to eat them. No, no, the second batch was purely for blog research purposes. (The happy tummy was just a happy coincidence.)

Choco-minty goodness!

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Buttercream Frosting

Depending on whether you want large or small whoopie pies, spread heaping tablespoons or heaping teaspoons of the dough onto a silicone baking mat or a greased cookie tray. Be sure to spread the dough out, as it will bake up super-high.

Bake according to directions, or until top is springy, but not tooo firm. Let cool.

Pipe buttercream between two cookies and squish together. Let sit (or chill in the fridge) to let the cookies suck some of the moisture out of the buttercream and really stick together.

Sprinkle with cocoa powder or icing sugar for a fancy touch just before serving, or wrap in wax paper if you’re packing them for lunches/snacks/picnics, or just bring a container of them to work (as I did) and watch them disappear.

They’re pretty delicious, aren’t they? I was told by a co-worker that the consensus was that from now on, I have to bring at least three servings per person whenever I bring any baked goods to work. I’ll take that as a compliment. 🙂

These whoopie pies are easily customizable, obviously. Switch up the fillings! Wouldn’t some vanilla-orange buttercream with flecks of orange zest be delicious in these? Or perhaps stirring in a bit of leftover mince-meat with some vanilla buttercream for yet another #wastenotwantnot taste adventure?

I mean, cookies and buttercream. How can you go wrong?

Next Post: Memories of (Lunchtime) Meals Past, or my grandmother’s Chocolate Vla (Pudding) recipe. Should I go healthy or nostalgic? Vote in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And Meal Plan Monday – Cookie Edition!

Candy Cane Redux Cookies & What Happens When My Baking Cred is Challenged

Leftover candy canes? Now in cookie form!

Hello dear blog readers!

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging (or baking) as much over the last few weeks. Between some health  issues (now resolved, whoot!) and trying to cut down on my baking so that the DH could lose some weight (it’s hard to watch your weight when your wife is always making delicious things), plus some technical challenges (*shaking fist at combination of mailchimp, hellobar, and sumome apps, plus at self’s lack of technical know-how*), well, the result is blog bog.

I’ve been making and photographing some healthier treats (cough*salads*cough) lately, so those will show up on the blog soon. In the interim…let them eat sugar! Or at least cookies.

Because the DH came home yesterday and handed me a giant container of candy canes. I looked at him. He said that his coworkers had mentioned the recent dearth of delicious baked goods, and challenged me to use up the leftover candy canes lying around the office that no one would eat.

Well.

Challenge accepted!

I went on pinterest, I googled different search terms, I experimented with baking different things (did you know that you can bake and shape candy canes?), and came across some interesting options for leftover candy canes.

I told the DH, I bet that if I turn it into candy cane vodka, it’d be gone in a snap!

He agreed. (I mean, obvs!)

I decided to try something else instead, as I’m pretty sure that however laid-back the DH’s office culture is, the higher-ups would frown on a workforce giddy on peppermint vodka.

So, cookies it was! This is a basic cookie base, with the addition of ground candy canes. It’s really not that minty; it just gives a hint of flavour to a buttery, crunchy, sweet cookie.

Candy Cane Redux Cookies (adapted from www.momvstheboys.com)

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. crushed candy canes (I crushed mine with a mortar and pestle, but I think a sturdy plastic bag and a rolling pin would work just as well)

Mix butter, eggs, sugars, and vanilla together until creamy-looking. Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt, and stir into butter/sugar/egg mixture. Once mixed, stir in crushed candy canes.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-9 minutes. They will harden as they cool, so take them out of the oven when they’re still a little soft. Let cool on the tray for two minutes (so they don’t fall apart), and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Eat, drink, and be merry! (Makes about 50 cookies.)

These cookies are much easier than you’d think, and really are a great way to use up those candy canes that are festive in December and mere unwanted calories in January. Best to turn them into delicious, wanted calories, yes? Tee hee!

Next Post: More minty goodness, with chocolate peppermint whoopie pies! Or…faro salad with baby spinach and roasted greens? Hmm, choices, choices.

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday! And Meal Plan Monday – Cookie Edition!

Memories of Meals Past: Healthier Spring Rolls

Healthy spring rolls! A tad purple, but hey, I can live with that.

Healthy spring rolls! A tad purple, but hey, I can live with that.

Time for another Memories of Meals Past post!

This time it’s a lunch/light dinner food, spring rolls, that I made a few months ago. But made healthier by baking as opposed to deep-frying! I used this recipe as a starting point, and then naturally I made substitutions. I had half a head of purple cabbage in my fridge, so I grated that and added that into the filling, along with some dried mushrooms (albeit not the shiitake kind that the recipe called for).

Pro Tip: Do not use purple cabbage if you want a perfect presentation. Purple cabbage makes everything purple. Your filling, your wrappers, your fingertips. But it is healthy, so if you have it in your fridge, well…waste not, want not!

And these spring rolls were delicious! The DH and I happily crunched on them for dinner and lunches. I do love trying new recipes and…substituting ingredients!

Next Post: I go French with Tarte Tropezienne!