Sunday 14 December 2014

Leek and Spinach Quiche with Sweet Potato "Crust"

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Well friends the day has come - I've found employment again. A "huzzah!" is definitely in order, along with a quiche and a vacation or two. That's how everyone celebrates, right?

Truthfully the trips were planned and booked long ago, but my new workplace has been flexible enough to let me start after the new year, which makes me an even happier camper. So for the next week I'll be celebrating an early Christmas with family (and not posting to this wee blog) before returning, celebrating on actual Christmas with more family (and hopefully posting on this wee blog),  and then escaping winter with some of my closest friends to ring in the New Year and several 30th birthdays in Cuba (again, not posting on this wee blog). It's going to be jam-packed and I can't wait!

As it always seems to be with birthdays and holiday parties, home cooking has been scarce and indulgence has been plentiful. Add on to that the cold weather desire for comfort foods and, well, you have a not so healthy redhead. One way of combating this was to create some comfort food with a healthier spin. Enter the sweet potato "crust".

This is simply just sliced sweet potatoes lined in a pie plate and baked before topping it with a more traditional quiche filling. Don't get me wrong, I love an all butter crust as much as the next gal, but sometimes you just need to make delicious, delicious sacrifices. I was worried the potatoes wouldn't hold together well enough and would just slop all over my plate, but just enough of the egg mixture settled in between the nooks and crannies to hold it all in and a perfect slice was formed.

Best served when in need of a lightened up version of a traditionally rich food, and versatile to the max! The filling can be any combination of flavours you dream up, and to lighten it up more you can omit cheese all together (I was not willing to make that sacrifice).

Well, off I go! Have a happy week and I'll see you on the flip side!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Mushroom and Kale Phyllo Roll

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I'm not sure if you've heard, but December is sort of a busy month. Not only do we have the usual holiday shenanigans, but mine also happens to be chock full of birthdays. And to top it all off, I just happen to be of that age where friends are starting to have a certain significant birthday, which means extra effort seems to be going into the fun having. You'll find absolutely no complaints here, but I feel like I've been out every night for a month. So after what seems like endless celebrations, and more to come, a home cooked meal is just what we needed. 

Packed with mushrooms and kale, this phyllo roll is all kinds of earthy goodness wrapped up in a flaky, crispy shell. The combination is savoury, the pastry adds a light and airy undertone and just a touch of cheddar adds a welcome richnesses without going overboard. All in all, I'd say this is a keeper.

This meal came together pretty quickly which makes it a great weeknight option when you're short on time - but the outcome feels (and tastes) like it would be a great option for when guests are on their way. So whether it's for your next meatless monday (or tuesday!), or you're hosting for a crowd, I think I've got just the thing you need.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Mushroom and Kale Phyllo Roll
adapted from Oh She Glows

7 sheets Phyllo dough, thaw according to package directions
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil - for brushing each layer of pastry
16 oz sliced white or crimini mushrooms
1 leek, chopped (I used mostly the greens and it yielded about 1 1/4 cups)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 bunch kale leaves with stems removed, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Thaw Phyllo dough according to package directions
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. In a large skillet, cook the mushrooms until the water has released and evaporated, about 10 minutes
  4. Add in the garlic, oil, leek, and kale. Cook for another 5 minutes on and add salt and pepper to taste 
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese
  6. While the mushrooms are cooking down, place 1 sheet of Phyllo dough onto prepared baking sheet and brush on a thin layer of oil. Repeat for all layers.
  7. spread the mushroom filling lengthwise, fold in the edges, and then roll into a log. 
  8. Brush log with a final layer of oil and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. 
  9. Enjoy!

Friday 5 December 2014

Lavender Shortbread

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Sometimes you want to feel just a little bit fancy. So you put on some lipstick, or curl your hair, or drink your tea from fine china, or put lavender in your shortbread...

I guess that's how I was feeling recently, because I definitely put lavender in my shortbread, and I wish I'd done it sooner.

When we were in China, Christmas baking was near non-existent so this year I want to crank it up a notch. I've got a couple things hiding in the freezer already (much to Other Half's chagrin... sharing isn't really his thing when it comes to baked goods) including this shortbread, and a few more in my brain waiting to make it to the oven.

People often ask if we're glad to be back in Canada, the answer is a resounding yes, but it's the little things like Christmas baking that really bring the point home for me. *let's out deep sigh of contentment*

This shortbread turned out to be subtly sweet and floral and would be perfect dunked into a cup of tea or even hot chocolate (for an extra indulgent treat). I think it would also be amazing with any dried herb/flower/tea of choice. Chai shortbread!? ummm yes! Or perhaps cocoa-mint is more your speed? Or rosemary? Or earl grey? Or, or, or!? The possibilities really are endless here. I can't recommend some good old fashioned experimentation enough. If nothing else, at least you'll feel a little bit fancy!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday 1 December 2014

Vegan Salted Chocolate Covered Caramels

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If a food ever had a trick up its sleeve, it would be these vegan salted chocolate covered caramels. They are so delectably indulgent that you'd never guess the normal butter/sugar combination that makes caramel has been replaced by a blended up date with a touch of coconut oil. Draped in a layer of almond butter before dipped and coated in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt, these morsels of goodness not only easy (though time consuming) but also slightly less guilt inducing at the same time, which in essence is my kind of caramel. 

These got whipped up on a day of "getting into the Christmas spirit" with my sister as we tried in desperation to find a Christmas movie we hadn't seen 100,000 times but in the end had to settle with the always appreciated National Lampoons Christmas. And a word to the wise, don't even bother turning on the Lady Gaga/Muppets Holiday collaboration ... just trust me on this. Though perhaps you have better judgement than me in the first place. 

Based on this recipe from Minimalist Baker, these caramels have a salty sweet aspect that worked its charm on everyone. These disappeared at record pace and left a caramel sized whole in the hearts of those who enjoyed .... soon to be filled by another treat, I'm sure!

Keep reading for the recipe!


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