IMG_8623

I can hardly believe it’s been over two years since my last post!! It would be an understatement to say that a lot has happened in my life in that time. But one thing has remained – I LOVE TO COOK AND BAKE! And, I love to share my favourite recipes with my friends. So, without further ado, here are two super yummy recipes for Bundt cake I recently discovered and have already made several times just this past week. You’ll want to make these for your family and friends this weekend!

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

IMG_8625

This is adapted from the Williams-Sonoma recipe, “Orange-Spice Pumpkin Bread”, which you can find on their website. It is my favourite of the two recipes I am posting today. The first time I made it I baked it in a glass loaf dish, but the centre didn’t / couldn’t bake fully. The next day I made it again but used my Bundt pan instead – it turned out perfectly!

Also, instead of using the 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice, and 1 tsp cinnamon as is listed in the Williams-Sonoma version, I used 2 tsp SURAJ brand “garam masala” (an Indian spice blend consisting of various other spices in addition to the four above-mentioned spices). It is definitely worth purchasing (I got mine from No Frills) and using in this recipe. And I promise to post more recipes that call for this incredible spice blend in the very near future!

Finally, the original recipe calls for 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks of butter), which I did use the first time around but substituted with 150 ml of oil thereafter (I have used canola, olive oil, and walnut oil on separate occasions and they all turned out beautifully).

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 – 4 tsp garam masala (the amount depends on how “spicy” you want the cake to be)

Wet Ingredients
150 ml oil (canola, olive, or walnut)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granular sugar (this is reduced from the Williams-Sonoma’s 1 cup)
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Combine dry ingredients. Whisk all wet ingredients for 2 – 3 minutes on medium-high. Blend in dry ingredients on low speed, scraping bowl. Pour batter into greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes. Using a wooden toothpick, check for doneness. Let cool in Bundt pan for at least 15 minutes before gently prying out of pan. Carefully use a knife and spatula to loosen cake around the edges, then invert onto cooling rack. Let stand for at least 15 additional minutes before cutting. Then watch as the cake disappears before you can count to ten!

Orange Carrot Bundt Cake

IMG_8640

IMG_8630

Here is another Bundt cake recipe with orange zest (in fact, it is only the orange zest and not the carrots that you see after this cake is baked!). After listening to my husband explain to me that my usual carrot cake is not really a carrot cake because it’s too healthy, I decided to search for a less healthy carrot cake – voila. This recipe comes from my Canadian Living “Sunday Suppers” Special Issue Winter 2014/2015 on page 86. I made only two changes, which are noted below in the Ingredients listing. When my children first tried this cake, their response was, “Make this ALL THE TIME!” (as in, don’t bother making that other carrot cake – which, by the way, I still LOVE!)

Ingredients
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp grated orange zest
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour (of course, I used half white, half whole wheat!)
1 1/2 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream (I only had Greek Yogurt on hand, which I prefer over yogurt, so used that instead)
1 cup grated peeled carrots (next time I make this cake I am going to try adding 1 cup finely grated zucchini in addition to the carrots)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in orange zest and vanilla.
In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into butter mixture, alternating with sour cream (or Greek yogurt), making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of sour cream. Fold in carrots. (The batter will be very thick.) Scrape into greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan, smoothing top.
Bake in centre of oven until wooden toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer directly to rack to cool completely. Compared to the Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake from above, this cake looks like it will be dry. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that this is not at all the case after you take your first bite!

******

Both these recipes come with directions for making a special glaze. I have omitted these in order to comply with my blog’s purpose of eating healthier!! And to be honest, both these cakes taste DELICIOUS without the extra sugar!

It’s good to be back! Let me know which of these you like best. Or share YOUR favourite Bundt cake recipe!

Almost Guilt-Free Brownies

September 6, 2012

Although this blog is dedicated to healthy eating, a few evenings ago I decided to treat myself to some brownies and I just have to share the recipe with you! It comes from a cookbook titled, “Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health” and is my go-to recipe for brownies as they are relatively guilt-free and taste A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Pair a piece (or two!) with some French vanilla ice cream and I think you’ll agree – it’s a little taste of heaven!

What’s your favourite “healthy” recipe using cocoa?!

Ingredients:
1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil (I used grape seed oil)
2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (155 mL) natural cocoa powder (I used quality Dutch cocoa from Costco)
1/2 cup (125 mL) whole wheat flour (yes, whole wheat flour! – I even used spelt!)
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Line an 8-inch metal pan with parchment paper. Make sure to use enough parchment paper so that it hangs over the edges of your pan.
2. Beat together the oil and eggs. Add the sugar and beat until slightly thickened.
3. Add the vanilla and cocoa powder. Slowly beat in.
4. Stir in the whole wheat flour and baking powder (which you should pre-mix in a separate small bowl). The batter will be quite thick.


5. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and gently spread (again, it will be quite thick!).
6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper at the sides and lift the brownie out. Finish cooling on a wire rack. Then flip the brownie over and gently peel off the parchment paper.
7. Cut into 16 equal pieces. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Blueberry Crisp

August 9, 2012

Last week my mother brought me a large basket of blueberries she had picked with a friend, and I shared with you a delicious recipe for Blueberry Scottish Oatmeal Pancakes (just be sure not to forget to add the oil and blueberries, like I did this past long weekend when I made some for our friends at their cottage; they did not taste anything like they should have – sorry J & C, but next time I’ll get it right!).

Well, seeing as I had forgotten the blueberries in the fridge at home, once I returned from our friends’ cottage I got to work using up the antioxidant-rich berries. I made two dozen Bananaberry Oatmeal Muffins and a 9 X 13 inch glass casserole dish of Blueberry Crisp. Today I will share with you the recipe for the crisp. My sister-in-law shared an apple crisp recipe with me many years ago and it has by far my favourite oatmeal crumb topping, although I have made some healthy substitutions and modifications to the original recipe. Some of my favourite fruit combinations are apple/pear, strawberry/rhubarb, and blueberry/peach. You can try out any fruit or fruit combination you like, but trust me – the topping from this recipe is a winner.

Filling

6 cups fresh blueberries*

1/4 cup agave nectar (or 1/3 cup granulated sugar)

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp grated lemon zest**

2 tbsp lemon juice**

Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup margarine (I prefer to use Becel’s unsalted margarine)

1/2 cup to 1 cup nut meats (my favourites are pecans or walnuts) – optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all filling ingredients in a 9 X 13 inch glass baking dish.

In a separate bowl, stir together first four ingredients. Add some cinnamon, if you like. Add margarine and work the flour mixture into the margarine until a crumbly consistency is attained. (I use my KitchenAid paddle attachment to accomplish this quite effortlessly, however you can also use your fingers to rub the flour into the margarine.)

Spread the oatmeal crumble over fruit. Sprinkle with nut meats (if using) and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Tastes great with greek yogurt (or vanilla ice cream when you’re looking for more of a treat!) Keeps well in the refrigerator and can be reheated in the microwave.

*Note – if using a firmer fruit, such as apples, you will need to cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake an addition 10 – 15 minutes.

**Orange zest and juice instead of lemon also taste great with the blueberries.

What’s your favourite fruit in a crisp? What’s your favourite crisp topping recipe?

Carrot cake is one of those cakes that sound healthy, but usually isn’t because of the obscene amount of oil it contains (typically between 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups) to ensure its moistness. Well, here is a super moist carrot cake that contains only 1/4 cup of oil! How is that even possible, you ask?! Well, it’s because of two additional healthy ingredients that replace all that excess oil: buttermilk (don’t let its name fool you – at 1%, it’s low in fat!) and pumpkin puree (which besides being low in fat, is high in fibre). Now, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin, but it’s growing on me. And it makes this carrot cake taste absolutely gorgeous, as one of my British friends would say!

I have made this cake at least half a dozen times since discovering it just three weeks ago, and the one I just made was supposed to be for friends we are visiting tomorrow for dinner and “games night” (we’re going to play “Settlers of Catan” – for details of this uber-fun game, check out http://www.catan.com/), but it looks like I’ll be baking another one tomorrow morning!

I found this recipe on an amazing blog you absolutely must visit at http://www.aprettylifeinthesuburbs.com/, though it originally comes from “The Looneyspoons Collection” by Janet & Greta Podleski, who have a website at the following address: http://janetandgreta.com/, which you also MUST view! I think I’m going to be asking for a copy of this cookbook for my birthday (this is my not-so-subtle hint to my wonderful husband!!).

And finally, the recipe:

Icing Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 packages of cream cheese, room temperature (I used just one 250 g package)

1/4 cup butter (I used 2 Tbsp)

1 and 1/2 cups icing sugar (I used just 1 cup)

1 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate (I used 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice, including the pulp)

1 tsp grated orange zest

Icing Directions:

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until it is smooth. Slowly add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Add the orange juice and zest, mix well. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Cake Ingredients:

1 and 3/4 cups flour (I use whole wheat)

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pie filling)

1 cup brown sugar (not packed)

3/4 cup buttermilk (I didn’t have any, so I used kefir instead)

1/4 cup oil (I use canola)

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups finely grated carrots (I recommend 2 and 1/2 cups)

1/2 cups walnuts (plus I threw in a handful or two of raisins!)

1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

Cake Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 round 9-inch baking pans.  You can grease & flour them or line the bottoms with wax paper (wax paper is my preference).

In a bowl combine the flour, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger and salt.  Set aside.

Using a mixer, combine the pumpkin, sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet mixture, and combine (on low-speed or by hand with a wooden spoon) until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Then gently add the carrots, nuts, raisins (if using) and coconut.  Hand mix.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the 2 pans, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes come out clean.

When done baking, cool the cakes in their pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around the circumference of the cake to loosen it from the cake pan, and then turn them out onto a cooling rack. You can ice the cakes when they have cooled completely. I prefer to serve my carrot cake the following day, as it gives all the flavours a chance to really soak through. I promise you, this cake will not disappoint!