5.05.2015

spicy watermelon margaritas for cinco de mayo!



I've always wanted to throw a Cinco de Mayo party and this year I can happily say my roommates and I are throwing a Mexican fiesta tonight! No such festivities are complete without margaritas and so I thought I'd try my hands at something a little less traditional, watermelon margaritas with jalapeño infused tequila. I should tell you that in my early university years I worked at a little Mexican joint in Vancouver and so have had my fair share of margarita making (and drinking). I think they'd be pretty impressed with these. They're spicy, sweet and salty all at the same time! And the best part? Eating the margarita soaked watermelon wedge.



Spicy Watermelon Margaritas (makes 3)

2 cups fresh watermelon juice (simply blend watermelon, then strain through a mesh sieve)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (strained through a mesh sieve)
1/2 cup tequila
1/8/ cup orange liqueur
2 tbsp simple syrup (more or less depending on how sweet the watermelon is)
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
Lime wedges/wheels and watermelon slices to garnish
Coarse salt and cayenne pepper to rim

1. Place half of the jalapeño peppers and the tequila into a glass. Let sit in the fridge for an hour (or more if you want it extra spicy). Once infused, remove peppers.
2. In a pitcher add the tequila, lime juice, watermelon juice, simple syrup and orange liqueur. Stir.
3. In a dish, combine salt with a generous pinch of cayenne pepper. To rim the glasses, run a lime wedge along the rim and then dip into the salt.
4. Fill each glass with ice and pour in the margarita. Garnish with limes, watermelon and remaining jalapeño peppers.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

2.10.2015

chocolate doughnuts with strawberry glaze



Valentine's Day is just 3 days away and I'm proud to say I've already attended a pre-Vday party and will be hosting one with my fellow roommates this Saturday (a girls-only Galentine's day to be exact). I made these chocolate doughnuts with strawberry glaze this past weekend for the pre-Vday party and they certainly lived up to expectations. There was even a bit of a squabble over the last remaining one. The doughnut recipe is from Baked Doughnuts For Everyone, a gluten-free book with a number of vegan recipes as well (this one happens to be one of them). They're super chocolatey and the combination with the strawberry glaze is too perfect. I was amazed how pink the glaze became considering there's no food colouring, just fresh strawberries and jam. Topped with pretty little sprinkles, they're the perfect Valentines treat for the gluten-free or vegan sweetheart in your life (but let's be honest, anyone would enjoy these).



Chocolate Doughnuts with Strawberry Glaze
Makes 6-8

For the doughnuts (recipe from Baked Doughnuts for Everyone)
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour*
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup pure cane sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp almond meal**
2 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp ground flax meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce***
3 tbsp oil
1/2 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

* You can blend oats in a food processor or blender to make oat flour, I do!
** The same can be said for almond meal. Throw some almond into a food processor. Be sure to not over do it or it will start to clump.
*** Instead of buying a whole jar of applesauce (unless you're an applesauce junkie, which I certainly am not), I buy the little snack size ones and open one up for a recipe.

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease the doughnut pan with oil.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well.
3. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Let sit for 5 minutes.
5. Without stirring again, spoon the mixture into each mold, leaving 1/8 - 1/4" from the top. Smooth out the tops. If your doughnut pan has only 6 molds and you have leftover batter, wait to do a second batch but remember to fill the remaining moles with 1/2" water.
6. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
7. Let cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes before inserting onto cooling rack. Let cool completely on rack.

For the glaze (recipe adapted from here)
4 fresh strawberries
1 tbsp strawberry jam
2 - 2 1/2 cups icing sugar (depending on how thick you like it)
Sprinkles

1. In a blender or food processor, puree the strawberries with the jam.
2. Transfer puree to a mixing bowl and beat in icing sugar. Start with 2 cups and add in more as needed.
3. Dunk each doughnut into the glaze and let set for 5 minutes. Dunk them a second time (and then a third if you like super glaze-y doughnuts!).
4. Add sprinkles!

12.24.2014

chai latte candles



Making gifts is one of my favourite Christmas activities. In the past I've made soaps, lip balms and other things but this year I decided to try candles for the first time. Everyone loves a candle and as long as you keep the scent mellow and not overpowering, they are sure to be no offensive gift. These can be a real money saver too as most quality candles go for $30 or $40. These little mason jar candles are super easy to make and so much fun with the chalkboard lids. Chai spices are great for Christmas but also work year round so feel free to make these anytime of the year for your chai latte lover. If you're in Vancouver, there is a great little shop on Main Street called The Soap Dispensary where I got the jars, wicks, and soy wax. The jars and wicks are sold individually and the soy wax by bulk which makes it so convenient! They also have lots of essential oil so if chai isn't your thing, they've got you covered!



Materials:
Soy wax flakes
Wick and tabs
Spices (ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, clove)
Mason jars with lids
Chalkboard paint
Chalk or chalk pen
Skewers

Directions:

For the wax:
1. Clean jars and let dry completely
2. For the wax, you will need two times the amount of your jar, whatever size it is. So for each candle, you need to scoop twice. If you're making two candles like I did, then scoop four times. Make the scoops very generous. It's better to melt more than less.
3. Pour the wax into a bowl fit snugly into a saucepan that is filled with 1/2 inch of water. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water.
4. Melt the wax on low heat, stirring when the flakes begin to melt.
5. Once completely melted, add in the spices. Each candle requires 1/2 tsp of each spice. If you are making two candles, then you will need to add in 1 tsp of each spice.
6. Stir the spices and let sit for 3 minutes. Stir again and let sit for another 3 minutes.
7. Wrap each wick around a skewer so that it stands inside the jar supported. Then, dip the tab into the melted wax and place back into the jar.
8. Once the wicks have set, scoop the melted wax into each jar using a ladle.
9. The wicks may move around, so just try to put them back in place.
10. Let the candles cool completely, which will take a couple hours.

For the lids:
1. Paint each lid with one coat of the chalkboard paint. Don't worry if it looks streaky.
2. Let dry completely, about 2 hours. It's important you let the first layer dry completely or the paint will lift off with the second coat.
3. Paint a second coat and let dry.
4. If the paint doesn't look even, do a third coat.
5. Let lids cure for 24 hours before using the chalk.
6. Using chalk or a chalk pen draw a message. (the chalk pen works much better! I found one after I shot these photos. Pieces of chalk are really hard to draw with on the small lids.)

Tie on a label with some twine and little greenery!

12.22.2014

christmas cake (gluten-free)



Christmastime is here! And I haven't blogged since, what? August?? (School took a serious toll these past 3 months). I made a festive version of this quinoa cake for a Christmas party last week. I usually ice it with chocolate but for the occasion I made a peppermint buttercream, dusted it with icing sugar and made little doily trees to stick into it. The perfect dessert to make this Christmas even if you aren't gluten-free. With all the shortbread and gingerbread you'll be eating, you're insides will thank you for swapping flour for quinoa.



To make the cake, click here for the recipe

For the peppermint buttercream:
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp milk
2 tsp peppermint extract

1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy.
2. Add in the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.
3. Add milk and peppermint extract and beat on high until smooth and fluffy.

For the paper doilies:
Paper doilies in 2-3 different sizes
Wooden skewers
Glue stick
Scissors
Glue gun

1. Cut a slit into the doily and cut out 1/3. The more you cut out, the smaller and narrower a cone you will get which is what you want for the top of the tree.
2. For the second doily, you can use the same size or go one size up and cut out a smaller wedge.
3. For the third doily, use the biggest size you have and simply cut a slit, do not cut out a wedge.
4. Using a glue stick, seal each doily cone.
5. Take a skewer and squeeze some glue onto the top. Then place the smallest cone on top. For the next two cones, slide each one onto the skewer and then squeeze some glue inside each one.
6. You can make the trees with 2 or 3 cones, any more they may be too bulky.

Assemble the cake:
1. Spread about 1/3 cup of the icing onto the first cake layer. Carefully places the second layer on top.
2. Spread the rest of the icing on top of the cake, leaving the sides bare.
3. Take a knife and flip up the icing to make it look like snow.
4. Dust the whole cake with icing sugar.
5. Insert trees into cake.

Happy Baking!

11.29.2014

shop local

Today is Small Business Saturday and Shop The Neighbourhood here in Canada! Alexandra and I made this little video last month and I thought today would be the perfect day to share. Here are some of our favourite homegrown boutiques, bakeries and bookshops in Toronto. Shop local this holiday season!