Category Archives: For fun

Scenes from the life of Dog

 Seriously? I love this toy but it’s not necessary to have me wear it.   

100% I am a big dog. 
What? Did you just say “walk”  

Most comfy place to sleep.  


My new friend. 

 

Molly is doing fantastically. Our biggest challenge has been convincing her the kids room is still INside the apartment and the next is why she doesn’t like some people. She’s transitioning to adult food which is complicated! But she so far is eating it (still mixed with puppy food) having a dog with kids sounds kinda loopy but it’s absolutely fantastic. Interestingly she isn’t a fan of fruit. She does like the human/puppy frozen snacks I made with PB and banana however. So do I! 

  • 1 cup PB
  • 1-2 mashed bananas
  • 1/4 cup water (or soy milk) 

Mix with fork until well incorporated the PB and banana. Stir in the water then fill silicone molds or drop small amounts on a parchment lined tray and let set overnight. Once frozen you can keep them in a ziploc to save space. 

When it rains……I cook

When it rains it pours, a nice euphemism but right now, when it rains it becomes a hurricane very quickly.

  I won’t air all our dirty laundry on my blog but suffice it to say I am a little pissed off right now. I ranted and raved yesterday and today I needed to do something. It was actually raining out (pouring for real, all day) so a run, a nice long walk with Molly, a trip to window shop, all out. Next best thing, make something delicious. I decided to try my hand at easy vegan date squares, using medjool dates…. yum…  I was on hold with a customer service department, so I stuck the phone on speaker, and got to work. I personally love graham, so I decided to take a shortcut and make my bottom layer from graham crackers, This I am now convinced was brilliant. not only did it save time, it adds a whole new dimension to what is usually essentially a date sandwich.

  For the filling I pitted and chopped 3 cups of medjool dates (about 2 cups when chopped and pitted) with some vanilla for some warmth. I want to try with other extracts, as I have had them made with orange juice concentrate and with almond and have been delightful, if you try please share how it worked!

  I topped it with a pretty classic crumble but with a little extra fiber in the form of wheat bran. I find working with my hands relaxing so I made the crumble with my hands which is a bit messy but so much fun. Molly, who very wisely stationed herself at my feet got to discover the joy that is brown sugar!

Just a heads up though, these fiber rich date squares could also be called date with the bathroom tomorrow squares if you eat too many so be sure to wash it down with a big class of your favorite milk (I vote any vanilla flavoured milk), or in my case a rose apple cider.

  The best part: I accidentally doubled the amount of brown sugar so had to make a double recipe of the crumble which meant I got to put an extra thick layer then mix the rest with some other ingredients for a bonus granola.

Stress-Relief Date Squares
Prep time: 15min        Bake time: 30min
    Serves 8

Ingredients:
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or white is fine)
2 tbsp wheat bran1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegan butter, softened
2 cups pitted chopped dates (about 3 cups whole medjool dates)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla, almond or other extract
8-10 graham crackers

In an 8in square pan (or larger if you want thinner squares, mine were made in a 9in square pan) lay graham crackers to cover bottom (break as needed)

In a bowl combine oats, flour, wheat bran, brown sugar and salt. add the softened butter and combine well using a fork or your hands. set aside

In another bowl combine dates, water and vanilla, with a fork or your hands spread the mixture across the graham crackers with a spatula or again your hands. if working with your hands I recommend you moisten them with warm water before handling the dates, will help keep it from sticking to your skin and stay in the pan where you want it. its a useful trick for the spatula too.

The oat mixture can now be put on top of the dates, put about half of it in and press it down firmly, then do a second layer giving it all just a light tap to set together but remain crumbly. (unless you want to be able to eat these on the go in which case, push it all in firmly.)

in a 350 degree pre-heated oven bake for 30 min (20min if using a 9in pan), allow to cool in pan before cutting, cuts best when cold, so I allow it to cool completely in pan, score it  then put in fridge for about an hour before cutting to serve.

Bonus Granola
follow oat mixture instructions above. add the following:

1 tbsp PB2 (or natural peanut butter)
1/4 cup mixed dried fruits (or favourite dried fruits)
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp chopped roasted cashews
1 tbsp chopped almonds
1-2 tbsp honey or corn syrup

toss together all the dry ingredients before adding any wet ones. add the wet, and with wet hands mix it well but not completely (leaving clumps and loose pieces) if it doesn’t clump well add more honey/syrup spread on a lined baking tray and bake at 300 for about 40 min until toasted, stirring once or twice.

if you prefer a less sweet granola, use only 1 tbsp of syrup but add another tbsp of vegan butter.

Really Simple Vegan Cream Cheese Icing

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I got a little worked up about the amount of soy and processed foods I was giving my kids as part of a vegan diet this summer, but was freaked out by coconut oil and was just against anything “fake”. Then a good kick in the pants reminded me that everything in moderation is OK. In fact its even good (seriously, think about it) and this cream cheese icing (delicious and totally fake) was born. Whomever decided Icing should be made healthy needs to be shot. Icing is good. Icing is decadent. Icing should be nothing but delicious. this one is. The other beauty of simplicity is that it allows time for more important things, like finding 2 minutes to care for yourself, something as moms we often forget to do.
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Happy Birthday to Me, a cake we can all enjoy. I am always happy when no one, including myself, feels left out of a celebration. I really love cream cheese icing, (and cheesecake) and the veganized versions of these things aren’t always quite what I was hoping for. I am so happy to be able to share this ridiculously simple cream cheese icing.

Vegan Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients:
3 tbsp vegan butter ( I use earth balance)
one container (8 oz) vegan cream cheese (I used Toffuti, its the only one we like)
1.5 cups of icing sugar (or more, taste/texture)

to add complexity feel free to flavour with citrus (orange zest and a tbsp of juice or lemon zest and 2 tsp lemon juice)

Method:
Using an electric mixer cream the butter and cream cheese together, add icing sugar (best done in small amounts at a time and citrus if using and mix until smooth. refrigerate until you need to use it it keeps about 5 days in the fridge. It can also be frozen, but it does change the texture slightly.

Smother on cakes, cookies, or eat with a spoon. ( more disclosure, this is what happened to the leftover after icing my birthday cupcakes) probably fantastic as a dip for your fruit.

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Never Ending Coleslaw Battle.

Coleslaw is something that seems on the surface so friggin easy to make that anyone could do it. Well, that was false, or at least I am not cut out to make coleslaw. Until today. I have no idea what finally clicked but I finally got the proportions, textures, flavours, and well not to toot my own horn or anything, but when you spend 2 years making bad coleslaw and finally score….. It is PERFECTION.

There really isn’t much else to say but that you should all make this. and the bonus is it doesn’t make the truckload most recipes make. ( I blather a bit after I give you the recipe)

 

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Coleslaw that finally rivals the restaurants

Total time:15 min                                                                    Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
Salad

1/2 head green cabbage
1/2 small red onion
1/3-1/2 red pepper, julienned in short sticks1 carrot, grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1.6 oz sugar (I weighed this out, but is about 3 tbsp)
1 clove garlic (minced or pressed)
1.5 tsp dijon (use mild for kids or use less)

Method:

Chop the onion and cabbage in a food processor (or shred with a knife). add the grated carrots and julienned peppers.

Shake the dressing ingredients in a jar or whisk in a bowl, dump over veggies and toss. refrigerate before serving for best flavour.

IMG_6120  I realized a few things as for my previous errors

1. I tended to take the easy route and toss everything in the food processor. Clearly even just aesthetically the different veggies do well with different textures.

2. I was too light on sugar

3. I was too heavy on vinegar

4. I really do not like celery seed as much as I thought I did in my coleslaw. Oregano is much better.

Wibbly Wobbly Life

image credit: from linkedin post.
image credit: from linkedin post.

Change loss and inspiration from the blogs around us.

Life hands us a lot of opportunity to deal with change. in many forms. In welcoming new into our lives as well as saying goodbyes. Sometimes at the same time, sometime the same event is both, regardless we enduring a lot of it. The birth of a child and becoming a parent, the loss of our own parents,  new jobs, lost jobs, health conditions, marriage, divorce, a new pet, a new iPhone 6 or blackberry passport. Our lives fail to follow a linear path but rather amble along and sometimes in loops. we stumble at times. sometimes we fall flat on our face, but life is not the destination, it is the journey.

This Mommy blogger put the experience of becoming a parent so eloquently and succinctly. The message I left with is one I try to apply widely to my life: it is hard, it is work, but it isn’t hard and it isn’t work, it is what it is and that is OK. When I think of change, I often associate it with loss, even positive changes feel like they come at a price. It is hard finding the balance between these two at times.

This year as I have mentioned I experienced a loss, a major loss, the breakup of a future marriage. 4 years ago I experienced another major life change, the birth of twins.  In the in-between I have lost 2 grandparents, have seen my own health suffer, have gained new skills, promotions at work and moved, just to name a few. Lots of change! Add to that, the simple truth that having children means living constant change.

When thinking about the post on parenting and my interpretation of change as loss, I thought of the post I read recently on the crossroads which brought the concept of loss and the emotions we go through home for me this week. Religiously, it s a time of renewal (rosh hashanna) and repentance (yom kippur). It is also the hebrew calendar anniversary of his proposal. Loss, I am feeling it. It is making this a very difficult holiday because I want to be happy.  But maybe, like other things in life, it is what it is and that’s ok. for now.

 

In the meantime, in honour of the change of fall, check out this fall themed meal we had for dinner!

 

pumpkin dinner

The recipe for the salads

The others coming soon!

Birthday Cake!

bananabread1

I’ve been making vegan banana bread since before vegan was cool. I am that old.

But a vegan birthday cake? This was my challenge for my daughter bananabread4on her 4th birthday this year. A cake she can and will actually eat. All the typical parve cakes are gross and usually call for eggs anyway. So I decided to start with 2 things I know she likes. Banana bread and cupcakes. The next hurdle was an icing that didn’t have the texture of grainy margarine. My cake loving child has handed back parve birthday cakes because she didnt like them. Chocolate is a big hit naturally, so I found a date based, fat free version that I have continued to perfect.

bananabread3

In this version I made an iced banana bread loaf. The banana bread this time does not have dates which although delicious suck a bit of moisture from the bread and I wanted that soft texture since this is a birthday cake. I also used white flour (shocking I know) and white sugar (gasp) but hey it’s a birthday cake! And really sugar is sugar and well the dates provide plenty of fibre. And with 6 bananas I think the health balance is achieved here.   Whole wheat in this recipe gives a denser texture, I really wanted a moist airy (as airy as banana bread gets) cake, which is precisely what I got here.  Normally I make it with half and half and this blend is perfect for a simple bread.

bananabread2

The icing turned out wonderful with the addition of a healthy fat in the form of creamy avocado.   It is now officially my go-to chocolate icing.  Since this cake is for my mom’s birthday and she loves both chocolate and avocado, I am hoping the marriage of these two here satisfy her sweet tooth! Happy Birthday Mom!!!!!

Vegan Banana Birthday Cake

Ingredients:

Icing:
2 cups of dates
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 ripe avocado
2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp iodized sea salt

Cake:
6 very ripe bananas (large ones)
1/2 cup sugar (both white and brown work fine here.)
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (whole wheat or white or half and half)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped dates, raisins, or nuts (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350

For icing:
Put dates and boiling water in blender. Cover and let sit while you prepare cake (at least 15min)
Blend until smooth, add avocado vanilla and salt and blend until mixed. Add cocoa and pulse scrapping down sides periodically.
Chill in fridge 3 hrs min (generally the time it takes to bake and cool cake!) before icing.
Store leftovers in fridge if you have any.

For cake:
Mash bananas until smooth. (chunks tend to settle)     Add vanilla and sugar mixing well.
In another bowl mix all dry ingredients well and then add to the banana mixture mixing until fully moistened, it makes a sticky thick batter.

Fold in the dried fruit if using (see tip) and pour into greased or lined pan.

Bake times
For a loaf cake: 1 hr
Any sized baking dish: 45-50min
Regular sized muffins: 45-50min
Mini muffins: 35-40 min

bananabreadcup

Tips:
If you are using dates or raisins I suggest soaking them first and add a bit of applesauce or water to the mix as these items suck moisture from the cake when baking.

Mini muffin tins are great for making toddler and young child sized muffins. Filled all the way this batter makes a little more than 24 mini muffins.

Nutrition nugget: Each serving (serves 12) with the icing has a full serving of fruit! IMG_3987