Friday, October 21, 2011

21 Day Vegan Challenge

Hi Folks!

Today marks the first day of my 21 Day Vegan Challenge!

First of all, I'm not doing this with a group or following a plan. I decided after an over-indulgent week, this week past when Hughie was home for a visit, that I needed to get my act together. My running mileage per-week has gone WAY down and I've allowed myself to eat a few things [bacon] here and there that I wouldn't usually eat, in return I've gotten a little... soft.

So, the plan.

Well... I don't really have one.

I ideally would like to stay between 90 and 100% vegan for the whole 21 days, however, I'm not going to feel defeated or quit if I slip.

I was a strict vegetarian for many many years and currently follow a flexitarian diet sans red meat, so I'm hoping the transition to vegan will be gentle.

Any advice?

Take care,
Alanna

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wildflower Honey Pumpkin Muffins

I love the Fall.

And it's just around the corner. In fact, here in Newfoundland we are already having beautiful, crisp, sunny days.

Don't get me wrong, I love summer. But this summer was a total dud, where we experienced mostly grey, dull, rainy days.

And Fall has so much to offer. Beautiful colors, crunchy leaves, sweater weather, Thanksgiving, warm comforting meals, scarves, Halloween, and Pumpkin!

What's your favorite thing about Fall?


So, trade in your summer dress for a cozy sweater and appreciate all that is Fall!

Wildflower Honey Pumpkin Muffins
Recipe adapted from 'The Joy Of Cooking'
Makes about 1 1/2 Dozen Muffins

Ingredients:

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour [feel free to use only all purpose]
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 796ml Can Pumpkin
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves
1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Canola Oil
2 Large Eggs
3 Tsp Vanilla
4 Tbsp Wildflower Honey [or any honey you prefer]
Sesame Seeds [optional]



Method:

Preheat over to 350

In bowl, combine all dry ingredients except the brown sugar.
In another bowl, combine all wet ingredients and brown sugar.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine, do not over-mix.
Spoon batter into greased cupcake tins and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30-35 minutes, this would also be great baked in a loaf tin.



You can thank me later for just how intoxicating these make your home smell :)

Take care,

Alanna

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Little Bike Grease

It has been raining in my city for over a month, literally.
Everyday there has been rain except for a day here and there!
So, I've really had no training at all to blog about, my runs have been on the treadmill and my riding has been on the trainer. That said, the bike is all tuned up and ready to go!

There is just something about having bike grease under your nails :)

On the baking front there has been an exciting new addition! A brand new, shiny, red, kitchen-aid stand mixer! More about that later!

What have you guys been up to? How is the weather in your little part of the world?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Toffee Bars

Tomorrow I am going to visit the mister in Halifax for a few days.
Since he is being starved of my sweet treats while we are living apart it's only fair that I whip up something to soothe those pangs during my visit, right?






















Enter 'old school' toffee bars!

I found this recipe in a Betty Crocker cookbook from the early 1950s and it is about as easy peasy as it gets. But don't think easy equals bland. These bars are a mix between buttery shortbread, sweet toffee, and comforting chocolate chip cookies.

Toffee Bars
*Adapted from Betty Crocker
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Method
Mix butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and egg yolk with wooden spoon. Stir in flour and salt, you can get your hands in there if you feel like it. Now, the actual recipe calls to top the fully baked bars with the chocolate chips and smooth them out so you have a layer of chocolate but, I decided to just mix them in with the batter like you would a chocolate chip cookie.
Press into a 9x9 inch glass baking dish and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. 

Let cool on a wire rack and start winning hearts :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Cupcakes

I don't know how it happened but I have somehow been swept up into the Royal Wedding madness! I blame it on my Royal watching friends, the fact that I live under the Commonwealth, and of course Kate Middleton's keen fashion sense :)

I've been invited to several tea parties on Friday to celebrate the Royal wedding so I thought it would be a good occasion to use the cute tea cup cupcakes holders that I received as a Christmas gift.

But what to fill them with?

Earl Grey cupcakes with Marmalade buttercream of course!



Earl Grey Cupcakes
1 cup salted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
2 bags early grey tea
Few drops of vanilla

Method: 
1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
2. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition
4. Add a few drops of vanilla, you don't want vanilla to be the prominent flavor.
3. Whisk dry ingredients together (open tea bags and empty each into the dry ingredients)
4. Add dry ingredients and milk to wet mixture alternately ending with flour, be sure to fold in gently.
Back at 350 degrees for 19 minutes or until toothpick is removed clean.

Marmalade Buttercream
3/4 Cup Unsalted Butter, creamed
Add 1/3 Cup Milk and 3 to 4 Cups Powdered Sugar alternately to butter 
Add 3 to 4 Tbsp of good quality marmalade
 * Careful what piping tip you use, the orange rind can block up small tips. 


So throw on an apron and your most outrageous fascinator and start mixing!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cupcake Marathon 2011

So, I just found out about the Cupcake Marathon this morning, I think I can get in the Half Marathon distance within the next couple of days!

Am I too late? I haven't gotten confirmation of my registration yet. Here's hoping :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup'cakes'!

If you haven't noticed already my little blog has been hanging out way more on the cupcake side of thing, then the blood and sweat side of things.

Well, that's because it's winter here. Now, while some of you may be lucky enough to be enjoying a nice mild winter with very little snow, going on Donut Runs, or even enjoying summer on the other side of the world! I am surrounded by the white stuff! So, I've been banished to the treadmill.

Don't get me wrong, I've been running lots! It's just nothing to get excited and report back to you guys about. There's only so many photos of a treadmill control panel one can take.

So, instead I share with you more baked goods!

 Reese's Peanut Butter Cup'cakes'

For the cupcakes:
1 Cup [Vanilla] Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 3/4 Cup Flour
3/4 Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Veg. Oil
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Boiling Water [This step makes all the difference.]

Method:
Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer for about two minutes. Add boiling water and beat until just blended.

Bake at 350F for 19-20 minutes in lined cupcake pan.
Yields 24 Cupcakes.

Peanut Butter-Buttercream
3/4 Cup Butter [softened]
3-4 Tbsp Creamy Peanut Butter [like Skippy, I wouldn't go natural here but you could try]
1/3 Cup Milk
3-4 Cups Powdered Sugar [depending on how thick you want your frosting]
2 Tsp Vanilla

Method:
Beat sugar and milk into the butter and peanut butter, making about three additions of sugar and two of milk. Mix in Vanilla at the end.You may have to play around with how much peanut butter and powdered sugar depending on the desired consistency. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Finally, top with mini peanut butter cups and watch your friends drool :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Vanilla Bean + Sour Cream Pound Cake

Weekends are my favorite time to bake, more specifically Saturdays.
Sleep in a little + Cup of hot tea + Quick run + Baked goods = Bliss!

So yesterday morning I threw on my favorite apron and started mixing.



Vanilla Bean Sour Cream Pound Cake
Recipe from Bon Appetit
3/4 cup plus 1 T all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream*
*I would add a little less if I make this again. Just a little too much for my taste

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a metal loaf pan, butter that sucker good!
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients:  flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
3. In a large bowl combine sugar, butter and the seeds of the vanilla bean.















4. Beat until smooth, light and fluffy.
5. Add in the egg, egg white, vanilla extract.
6. Beat until it thickens, about a minute and a half, then add the sour cream and mix for another minute.
















7. Add the flour mixture and beat until just Incorporated.
8. Pour the batter evenly into prepared loaf pan.


Bake for 50 minutes or until it passes the tooth pick test!
Let sit in pan until cool. Drizzle with a vanilla glaze or leave it plain. Whatever you prefer!


Enjoy!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

And the winner is!

Jess over at Blonde Ponytail!
 
Congratulations Jess! I'll be getting your $55 CSN promo code to you today!

Thanks to the rest of you who entered! There will be another chance to win soon!

Alanna

Friday, February 4, 2011

CSN Giveaway!

I'm extending the CSN Giveaway by one day! The winner will be picked randomly tomorrow!
Click the link, there's still time!

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's a Boy!

A girlfriend of mine from back in high school is expecting a little boy in just a few weeks and had a small shower for family and friends yesterday.

I took the opportunity to whip up some cupcakes!
I went with my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and a simple vanilla butter cream. I added some homemade marshmallow fondant teddy bears for a little extra cute.



If you're interested in making your own fondant [which tastes a whole lot better than the store bought stuff] I'll be posting a recipe a little later this week.

Moist Chocolate Cupcakes
1 Cup [Vanilla] Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 3/4 Cup Flour
3/4 Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Veg. Oil
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Boiling Water [This step makes all the difference.]

Method:
Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer for about two minutes. Add boiling water and beat until just blended.

Bake at 350F for 19-20 minutes in lined cupcake pan.
Yields 24 Cupcakes.

Easy Peasy Vanilla Buttercream
3/4 Cup Butter [softened]
1/3 Cup Milk
3-4 Cups Powdered Sugar [depending on how thick you want your frosting]
2 Tsp Vanilla

Method:
Beat sugar and milk into the butter, making about three additions of sugar and two of milk. Mix in Vanilla at the end.

These are my go to cupcakes, they have never let me down. If they could, they probably wouldn't say the same about me.

Still time to enter my CSN giveaway!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oops!

Shit happens...

Keep calm and carry on!

Don't forget to enter my CSN Giveaway here!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Apple, Goat Cheese, and Honey Tart + CSN Giveaway!

So comforting.

If nothing else this recipe will fill your home with the most amazing scent of butter, apples, and honey... so good.

Pastry can be a bit of an endeavor but in the end I find it actually quite rewarding, especially when your friends ask for seconds!

I received this beautiful Le Creuset tart dish from CSN last week so it was a great excuse to bake something indulgent.

 I am so happy with this dish I received from CSN and I'm excited to be able to offer you a chance to win a $55 gift code to use on anything you like from CSN. They have lots of great stuff for your home like flat panel tv stands, cookware, yoga mats, and endless amounts of other stuff! Check it out!

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what you would use the $55 for at CSN! Also, post this giveaway with a link to this post on your own blog and let me know about it in a comment below for an extra entry!

I'll be choosing a winner at random next Friday (February 4th, 2011).
This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian readers only.

I based my recipe loosely on this recipe from Los Angeles Times.

Modifications 
- 4 medium Gala apples
- Regular honey
- Vanilla sugar
- Sea salt

If you have a little extra time this weekend this recipe is definitely worth a try!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vanilla Sugar.

I love vanilla.

Don't get me wrong I also love chocolate, in fact I may very well be a chocolate addict. But there is something about vanilla, it's warm, sweet, and makes everything smell pretty much perfect.

I usually use vanilla extract for my baking but when I'm creating something where vanilla is the predominant flavor I think it's essential to use vanilla beans. However, vanilla beans can be expensive so if you decide to splurge and spend the money on them don't throw out the pods after you scrape them!

Make vanilla sugar!

It is so easy to make and adds the most beautiful flavor in baking where granulated sugar is used.


Vanilla Sugar
3 Cups Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean
Large Jar
Simply throw your vanilla pod and sugar together in the jar and let it sit for a week. You can also use a full vanilla bean, just scrape the seeds out and throw them in with the sugar for an even more intense vanilla flavor!

Your kitchen will smell amazing!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My new buddy!

Guess who came to stay with me a couple of days ago!?

Running Cupcake!



















I can't even tell you how excited I am about this little guy! [I keep referring to it as a boy even with the pink hair and ipod. Boys can wear pink too!]

Big thanks to Rad Runner for offering such an awesome giveaway to her readers! and Blame The Moon for creating such amazing art! If you haven't already you should check out both of these blogs, their great!

I even got a little note with my cupcake...















So sweet!

This little guy will be coming on many a run with me I think :)

So, what name should I give my running cupcake?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mad Men Salad

Well, I'm slowly getting settled back in at home and that means getting groceries and cooking.
While we were in Florida, Hughie and I visited an organic market. This was something that I had been looking forward to leading up to the trip. We don't really have an organic market in St. John's where I live, we barely have an organic section at our local grocery shops so this was quite a treat! One of the things I purchased while there was anchovy paste in a tube.

Today I was thinking about different ways to incorporate the paste into my cooking and caesar salad was at the top of my list. I've never made my own caesar salad dressing, that is, until today.

Recently I was watching Rachel Ray, not a common occurrence but I'll tune in once in a while, and Christina Hendricks was her guest. She showed Rachel a ceasar recipe that she makes all the time. Now, I've watched the first season of Mad Men and I know that I might get some crap for this but, I didn't really like it... I'm sorry!

It didn't keep my attention and I found it so... slow. That said, the style in the show is fantastic and I really liked the character of Joan, I mean who doesn't love a curvy red head? :)

So, in honor of Joan Holloway I made this Mad Men ceasar salad.
Adapted from this recipe.

 Mad Men Ceasar
1 Bunch curled leaf lettuce (or whatever greens you like)
2 T Fresh lemon juice
1 Clove minced garlic
1 t Anchovy paste
1 Egg (boiled for 45 seconds)
Dash Worcestershir sauce
2 T Olive Oil
Generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese
Mix all ingredients together, slowly whisking the oil in last.


If you have some crusty bread around cut it into small chunks and toss with Olive oil. Throw in a hot pan and crisp them up for quick croutons.

I would consider my first ceasar dressing attempt a success!

Do you like to make your own salad dressing?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back Home.

Hi guys!
I've been traveling all over for the past three weeks and I just returned home last night.
On December 22nd Hughie and I spent the day at the St. John's International Airport after our flight got delayed several times and then canceled.

We were lucky enough to get a flight to Toronto that night, spent the night there and left for Cleveland the following morning. We spent an hour in Cleveland and then jumped on a plane to Florida, finally, where my parents picked us up and we drove two hours to their home to spend a sunny Christmas with them.

The first few days of our stay were beautiful, warm, and sunny! We spent Christmas day sailing in the gulf of Mexico watching the dolphins play. It was perfect.
Merry Christmas!
 Not to mention the wonderful gift my Uncle surprised me with! I'll let you know why it's so special in a minute.

We enjoyed so much wonderful food cooked by my aunt and mom, and also ate at some really great restaurants!
Pureed squash, risotto, and fresh panko crusted scallops and shrimp!
It cooled off a little during the last few days of our trip but that didn't stop us! We still spent time at the beach and shopped till we dropped!

Of course I treated myself to some foodie gifts!
Tomato paste in a tube was my favorite find!
We said so long to the sun and headed back to Newfoundland to unload and repack for Halifax.

Now, I haven't mentioned it yet on the blog but Hughie accepted a great job in Halifax and will be living there indefinitely. Considering I am still completing my Masters I wont be joining him. However, we truly love each other and have been together too long and care too much for each other to let a little ocean get it the way of our relationship! There will be lots of visits and skype, it's only a hour and a half flight after all! (I may sound optimistic and light now, but you should have seen me at the airport yesterday... oh boy.)

Have any of you done long distance?

We spent the last 10 days driving across Newfoundland, taking a Ferry to Nova Scotia and then finally getting Hughie settled into his new home. He is in a great area and there is a Italian market and bike shop just around the corner :)
Road tripping with a little Bowie

I couldn't leave without giving Hughie a little sugar (mind out of the gutter friends). I made sure he had enough chocolate chip cookie dough to tie him over until our next visit!

I got back late last night after a delayed flight and have so much to do before I get back to classes on Tuesday.

I hate to say it but the only running I did in the past three weeks was to the fridge, around the shopping outlets, and one very very short run with Hughie in a beautiful park in Halifax. I did however buy some new running shoes so it looks promising!

I'll leave you with my favorite photo from our trip, oh la la!
Hughie frolicking in the sun!






















How was your holiday? Are you back in the swing of things?