Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tropical Quinoa Fruit Salad

Haha, do you like my cheesy background that is supposed to give this picture a 'tropical' feel? I even stuck some leaves of my amaryllis in there... which by the way has now become a towering monstrosity. I've been getting an amaryllis every year for Christmas for the past few years- you know the ones that come in a box often at the grocery store? I just love flowering plants, so I always get excited about my new amaryllis. Well, for the most part, the amaryllis is an annual flower. Which, for all of you non-green-thumb people out there means that it blooms only once a year, and typically dies afterwards. My past amarylis' have always shrivelled and died not too long after the bloom has fallen, despite lots of love and care. However, this one has been so healthy all along; I just had to transplant it on Friday because the leaves had gotten so heavy it kept tipping over in it's small pot. Oh yes- there are 9 leaves now and almost all of them are somewhere between 2-2.5 feet long. It's taken over my dining table. We'll see how long it lasts- maybe I'll give it to Sean's step-dad so he can plant it outside, or maybe I'll keep it and see if it makes it till next winter and blooms again! Anyways, enough chatter about flowers, this is a food blog! ;)

This fruit salad is quite delicious, very healthy, and very easy to make. To top that all off, it keeps superbly in the fridge for several days. The mixture of ripe mango, pineapple and kiwi with some coconut makes it fantastic, although I think next time I won't be so lazy and I'll toast some of the coconut to bring out the flavour a little more. This dish is perfect for several occasions, such as breakfast/brunch, an on-the-go snack, or any other time during the day! I know I will definitely be making it once mangoes go on sale again.

Yields: 3 cups

1/2 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons quick-rolled oats
1 large ripe mango
2 ripe kiwis
1 cup diced ripe pineapple + 2-3 tablespoons pineapple juice (or 1 can if you don't have fresh available, which includes the juice)
1/4 cup coconut + more for sprinkling top
vanilla yogurt to top off, or whatever you prefer (ie. honey, maple syrup, etc.)

Place rinsed quinoa and water in medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce and let simmer for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until most water is gone and quinoa centers are nearly 'clear'. In the last 3 minutes, add in the oats and stir thoroughly. Cool completely.

In the meantime, dice up the mango, kiwis and pineapple, reserving the pineapple juice if using from a can.

Add the chopped fruit, fruit juice and coconut to the cooled quinoa. Stir and let the juices soak for 5-10 minutes. Serve topped with vanilla yogurt and a sprinkling of coconut. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lemon Pancakes with Wildberry Sauce

It's Tuesday morning, which means a) I have to do grocery shopping this morning which I do NOT want to do, as it requires going out in the cold rain and, let's face it, not being lazy and b) 2 more shifts before my weekend! Am I excited? Sadly, no. I'm actually dreading tomorrow. I think that I've mentioned I volunteer, and sometimes my volunteering requires me to do an overnight shift. Ugh, the dreaded overnight. So what I get to look forward to is a full work day tomorrow (remember that I work in the afternoon/evening) and then I get to go almost straight into a full 8-hour overnight shift. I may just be a different person Thursday morning. Delusional and experiencing hallucinations? Very possible. Sigh... gotta do what you gotta do. Besides, I'm giving my time for a good cause... at least that's what I have to tell myself in situations like these.

So, I've mentioned before that pancakes aren't my strong suit. But I'm getting better at them. You'd think that for someone who is in the kitchen so much, making a simple pancake wouldn't be such a problem. I think the problem is a) my stove is really awful and b) I wasn't cooking them on the one side long enough before flipping them, which would result in an uncooked pancake (probably the more important). So what is necessary when using my piece of crap stove is patience because it has to stay on a low temperature so that it doesn't burn. See this post if you want to get a look at my ghetto oven/stove here. Then you can understand that I only have basically 4 temperature settings, which can make things tricky at times.

Long story short, I rocked these pancakes this morning. Not only did I cook them perfectly, but I made them from my own recipe! That's right, this is a Michelle original. No sourcing today. I took a look at maybe 4 different pancake recipes, got the basic proportions of ingredients needed, threw them together and hoped for the best! And it totally paid off, which is one of the best feelings ever! Cooking something like soup is different; it's easy to put ingredients together that you're pretty sure will meld together, but baking/pancake making is another story. You need the correct formula for things to work out. Anyways, I'd just like to say that I feel pretty awesome about my pancakes. They had a fantastic light and delicate lemon flavour that complimented the wildberry sauce perfectly. If you don't have a 4-berry mix like I had, this would work out well with just raspberries, blueberries or blackberries.

Yields: 2 servings

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
1/2-3/4 cup milk, depending on thickness preference (I used 3/4)
1 egg
butter for pan

For Sauce:
1 cup 4-berry blend (thawed if from frozen)
1/8-1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water, or juice from thawed berries
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Combine berries and sugar in a small pot and heat on low. Allow the berries to simmer on low and reduce for about 20-25 minutes. If there appears to be a lot of liquid, as was my case because they were from frozen, drain a couple teaspoons and reserve aside. Once the berries start to break down at around the 20 minute mark, mix the cornstarch in with the reserved berry juice or water. Add to the berry reduction. Keep on heat for another few minutes, stirring frequently and being careful not to burn. Keep on very low heat or set aside.

For the pancakes, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a medium bowl and whisk together. Add in the lemon juice, yogurt and milk, stirring briefly. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add more milk if your preference is to have a thinner batter.

Heat a large pan on medium and allow approximately 1 teaspoon of butter to melt. Add the batter in 1/4 cup increments. Flip the pancakes when bubbles have appeared and the surface no longer looks "wet". If you are waiting to cook all before serving, heat your oven on low so that you can keep them warm in the meantime.

Serve with the warm wildberry sauce spooned over and enjoy!

Source: A Sweet Treats & Healthy Eats Original

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nutella & Sea Salt Stuffed Sugar Cookie

Remember how I had said a few posts ago that things were going to be very busy for me for the month of April? They are. My life feels like a hurricane at the moment; the last 5 days I've been busy non-stop before going to work for 3-4 hours, and then after work for another 3-ish hours. The last few days have been filled with working on a secret project for my best friend's wedding shower (can't say what in case she reads this!). It was something that I thoroughly enjoyed doing, particularly because it's for my best friend. And because I live 6 hours away from her and can do very little, I jumped at the opportunity to help out.

Have you ever taken something on, only to find yourself literally seconds later saying 'that might not have been the best idea I've ever had...' That was me. I took a step back and looked at my month and thought 'uh oh... This could turn out very badly.' I was worried that it wouldn't get done, but it's all finished with time to spare! The only thing is, now I'm behind on school work. I know that I should be starting to write my one assignment today that is due in a week, because tomorrow I'm volunteering for 4 hours and then I have my cake decorating class... but I just have zero motivation. I totally need a purely veg day- but that's just not realistic. So I'm taking my relax time and mentally gearing up to work on my assignment in an hour or two.

Realistically, I know that won't work out the greatest, because I'm planning on cooking a nice meal tonight using red snapper, which I've never had before! If all turns out well, it could be in a future blog post. So if I think it out in my head, I would start school work 5:00, work for an hour or two, cook and eat dinner, and then maybe work for another hour. For me, that doesn't equal much success. Usually I need a good chunk of time to sit down and write a paper, it's how I work best. But in a busy life that doesn't always happen, so I guess you just gotta work with what you got!

As part of my vegging day, I finally got around to making a batch of cookies that I flagged months ago! They are really delicious, nothing less than what I expected. The cookie is made out of a soft and fluffy sugar cookie that has a Nutella filling with flecks of course sea salt in it. You get sweet and salty all in one  several bites (at least for me!), although I must admit the sugar is the stronger flavour. I may end up putting a few more specks of salt in them next time, but I was worried they would be TOO salty :).

Go ahead and make them! And eat one while it's still warm, that's when they're the best. Or two.. or three, go on, I won't tell.

Yield: Approximately 24 cookies

1/2 cup Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sea salt

Using a 1 teaspoon measure, scoop out Nutella and place in small mounds on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is creamy and fluffy, 2-4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract.

Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually beat in the flour mixture until it is just combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture a few times to make sure all the flour is incorporated. Use 2 tablespoons of cookie dough for each cookie. Split the piece of dough in half and slightly flatten both halves. Sprinkle 5 or 6 grains of sea salt on one half of the flattened dough.

Using a small metal spatula or knife, life the mounds of Nutella from the baking sheet and lay on the bottom half of the cookie dough, on top of the salt. If the Nutella starts to soften, place back in the freezer for a few minutes (I had to do this several times). Cover the Nutella with the other piece of cookie dough and seal the edges with your fingers. Roll the ball in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar to coat it and place it on a prepared baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart from each other. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time. They are done when the edges are set and beginning to brown, 10 to 13 minutes. The centres of the cookies should should still be soft and puffy.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then move to a rack to cool. Serve them warm for an extra special experience!

Source: Cookin' Canuck

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Edamame Vegetable Soup with Wasabi Cream

Well I must admit, this soup doesn't look overly special in the picture. In fact, I figured that it would be pretty much like any other vegetable soup, with the exception of edamame beans and tofu. But there's something special about this soup; I think it comes in the form of sesame oil and soy sauce- they put a unique and lovely Asian spin on the soup. I thought about omitting the tofu, as I'm not a huge fan, but I'm glad I didn't. The recipe calls for medium-firm tofu, which was purchased, but in reality it was pretty soft. As a result, the tofu almost melted in my mouth and had a silky smooth texture, which was really lovely! Ha ha buttt there was a little blip in the radar. You see, I walk to work most days, and I also bring dinner most days. So from carrying my container of soup in my purse to work, the soup did not look like this picture by the time I got to work. Because the tofu was so soft, it kind of broke up and dissolved. The taste was still the same, but the broth looked creamy with a few tofu chunks. It was odd. I'm not going to lie, it threw me off at first, but then I got over it because it tasted so good!

Super easy, the whole thing takes maybe half an hour to make and cook, and it's nutritious. Now, as you can see in the picture, there appears to be no wasabi cream on top of the soup. That's because I didn't make it. I can't really handle spicy foods, and I'm definitely not into wasabi. However, I've included the recipe for the wasabi cream so that if you're into it, you can try it out!

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 tablespoons sodium-reduced soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or equivalent in dry
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Half package medium-firm tofu, drained
1 cup frozen shelled soybeans (edamame), thawed

Wasabi Cream:
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoon minced fresh chives, green onions or fresh parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon wasabi paste


For the wasabi cream, mix together sour cream, chives, lemon juice and wasabi. Set aside in refrigerator.

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and fry the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened. This should take about 8-10 minutes.

Add broth, water, zucchini, red pepper, soy sauce, ginger and sesame oil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 8-10 minutes.

Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Add to soup along with soybeans and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Serve in bowls and top with wasabi cream.

Source: Canadian Living; The Vegetarian Collection
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easy Maple Salmon

When I was making this earlier last week, I had not originally planned to put it on the blog. I didn't have overly high hopes for it- even when I nibbled on a corner to see if it was any good I didn't get the full effect. It wasn't until later that evening, when I had reheated it for dinner, that I realized how delicious it was. And that was after nuking it again! Often I find that fish reheated isn't the greatest; it usually cooks a little more and subsequently becomes less tender and moist. But this fish, even after microwaving it, was still incredibly juicy with loads of flavour! I suppose it was because it had been marinated and was able to soak up some of that maple syrupy goodness.

Other than the half hour that the fish is supposed to marinate, this recipe takes no time at all. It's perfect for a week night dinner. Pair it with some fresh steamed veggies and you're good to go!

On a more personal note, I fear that in the upcoming weeks I may not have as many blog posts. I have a ton of stuff going on right now, and unfortunately I have higher priorities. Really I'd like to say who needs work and money... school, volunteering, etc. but realistically, I do. It'll all pay off in the end, right?

Yield: 2 servings

1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 salmon fillets

In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper.

Place the salmon in a shallow glass baking dish, and coat with the maple syrup mixture. Cover the dish and marinate the salmon in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, turning half way through.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, and bake salmon uncovered for about 15-20 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork.

Source: All Recipes

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Easter Cupcakes

Happy Easter everybody! I hope your long weekend is going well! I know I'm sneakin' this one under the gun- it seems to be my style. Every other blog I follow often has holiday postings up a couple weeks before the actual holiday... I don't think I'm that organized. Not only that... but I want to serve Easter cupcakes at Easter! Not 2 weeks before Easter. At least that's what I tell myself.
Anyways, I'd like to apologize in advance for this long entry. There is going to be an outrageous amount of photos from what I normally post. I can't help it- these cupcakes are just so dang cute!! They're one of my favorites I've made so far, both for appearance and taste. Sometimes I get so excited by the things that I make, I just want to look at them all day. I know, you're probably thinking 'now that's a little odd', but I've decided to embrace my freakish side. Yesterday I brought these cupcakes to work in a cute white box and they looked downright professional! They were sitting on my desk before having been given away and I caught myself being distracted from my casenotes by the cupcakes. I texted Sean and said there must be something wrong with me.

But seriously, how can you not think these are the cutest things EVER?? Easter colors with little ducks, bunnies and flowers on top! AND on this super cute cupcake stand that I recently made! It's not perfect... if seen up close there are a lot of flaws that the spray paint didn't cover... but for pictures it works!

Now, I feel that it is my duty to be honest so that hopefully some of you can learn from my mistakes. The title of this post was originally Chocolate Caramel Easter Surprise Cupcakes. The surprise? That was a fail. Not completely, but pretty much. I'm sure many of you have seen pictures of cupcakes that are filled with things, such as Reece's peanut butter cups or chocolate creme eggs, etc. These cupcakes were 'filled' with chocolate caramel Easter eggs. I sliced one in half hoping to get the perfect picture of an intact egg... but there was nothing there! Maybe that was my surprise, the egg disappeared!! I'm not sure what happened; while I didn't follow a recipe I had read before that you need to freeze the item to prevent it from melting and plop it in the middle, so that's what I did. The eggs were somewhere in there... hardened and stuck to the bottom of the liner.
Perhaps one of you can fill me in on what I did wrong, I would love to know so I can do it in the future!

See, lots of pictures! I'd like to quickly say that this chocolate cake recipe is phenomenal. Incredibly moist, deliciously chocolaty... the texture reminds me of a perfect red velvet cake. Needless to say, this will now be my go-to chocolate cake recipe. And the buttercream? You all know Italian buttercream is my favorite! OK, on to what you've all been waiting for!

Yield: 24 cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup hot coffee (I used Irish Cream flavour)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 chocolate caramel Easter eggs, IF you know how to use them properly, which I apparently do not

For the frosting:
1½ cups sugar, divided (3/4 each)
2 oz. water (4 tbsp)
4 large egg whites, at cool room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tsp lemon juice
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1/3 cup caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought)
*Note: This frosting makes enough for 20-24 cupcakes depending on how heavy you frost. For 24 cupcakes, it's a bit of a squeeze for me.

For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line pan with cupcake liners. Note: Pale colored liners do not show up on chocolate cupcakes.

Brew a strong cup of coffee. Mix the coffee in with the cocoa powder until dissolved. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Mix in the oil, milk, sour cream, and the coffee/cocoa mixture. Beat until just combined. Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes until thoroughly combined. Divide the batter between the liners evenly.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until when a toothpick is inserted, it comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then moves the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

For the icing: Over medium heat, bring water and ¾ of the sugar to a boil. Cook until the sugar syrup reaches 248 degrees F.

Once your water and sugar is starting to boil, fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. On medium speed, whip egg whites, salt and lemon juice until foamy. Add the reserved sugar and beat to medium-stiff peaks. Try to time this so the sugar and the whites are ready at the same time.

When the sugar has reached 248 degrees, F and the whites are at medium-stiff peaks, with the mixer on medium-high, carefully pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream down the inside of the bowl. This will prevent the syrup from hitting the whisk and getting spun around the sides of the bowl instead of into your frosting. It will also cool the syrup just a bit so you don’t risk curdling your whites. Whip until cool, about 5-10 minutes.

Feel the mixing bowl, it should feel somewhat cool. If it doesn't, cool the mixture down by either putting the bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes before continuing to whip or by rubbing the outside of the bowl with a bag of frozen peas, fruit, whatever you have on hand, while continuing to whip the mixture. Once the bowl is cool, add the butter, 2 tbsp at a time. Whip until each piece is completely incorporated before adding another piece. The icing might start to look a little curdled, or conversely, feel like soft marshmallow fluff, but it should come together nicely by the time you have added all the butter. Once the icing has changed consistency, add in the caramel sauce and whip until combined. The caramel sauce may need to be warmed slightly so it's at a pourable consistency.

Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip with the frosting. Decorate cupcakes as desired. I used 4 different tips, partly because I wanted them all to be different and partly because I didn't want to have to remove the tip to put in a new bag every time, as I don't have 4 of the same tip.
Note: I found that the buttercream icing would not accept  Wilton gel coloring. The gel would stay on the surface and no dissolve, perhaps because the icing is eggs, sugar and butter. I had to use liquid food coloring, and even then it took awhile to mix in. Some of the fluffiness of the icing was lost with all the mixing, but it still turned out fine. It turns out that Americolor gel coloring works just fine.

Source: cupcakes adapted from Karen at, icing from The Reluctant Gourmet

See?!?!?! How FRICKEN ADORABLE! Have a wonderful Easter!

P.S. I love to hear questions and comments, so please feel free!

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo

It's hard to say if there is a time when pasta does not catch my eye- pasta is my weakness... if I could live off of pasta and not blow up like a balloon I would. Subsequently, I don't actually make pasta too often, and when I do, I try to load it up with veggies and use whole wheat noodles to add some nutrition. But occasionally... there's something that looks so yummy, nutrition be damned. That's this dish right here. If you're on a diet, stay away, because this deliciousness is unfortunately loaded with fat from the cream and goat cheese. As I finished preparing it, I gave it a quick taste and exclaimed how amazing it was to Sean. He took one look at it and said "You can't put that on your blog."

Wait, what?! I HAVE to put this on my blog. It's my duty to put this on my blog. I can't NOT share this with people! Why can't I put this on my blog??

"Your blog is named Sweet Treats & Healthy Eats. That is not healthy. It would be a lie if you put that on there."

Well that's just ridiculous. It may say Healthy Eats but that does not mean that everything on it has to either be sweet or healthy. While I am a very health-conscious person and don't eat poorly often, there is a time for fattening dinners. So, if you disagree... well you can just suck it up, because that's the way it is. OK? :D

As a side note, this is a quick and easy meal and it is best served right away.

2 whole red bell peppers
1/2 pound asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fat free half & half OR fuller fat cream mixed with milk (all I had was about 1/4 cup whipping cream and so I added about 1/2 cup milk to that)
4 oz. goat cheese
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon oregano, basil and parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb. whole wheat linguine, cooked to al dente

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place the red peppers on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for about 10 minutes. Add the asparagus to the baking sheet and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes until peppers are charred and asparagus is mostly cooked. Remove from the oven and cover with foil for 10 minutes.

In the meantime start cooking the linguine. In a large saucepan, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add in the cream, goat cheese, dried herbs and salt and pepper. Stir to melt the goat cheese and keep warm over low heat.

Uncover the peppers, peel off the skin and remove the stem and seeds. Chop the peppers into large pieces and place into sauce along with the Parmesan cheese. Stir to melt the cheese and remove from heat. Pour the sauce into a food processor or use an immersion blender to puree to the thickness desired (I left some chunks of red pepper). Place back into the pan. Chop the asparagus into 2-inch pieces and add to the sauce, along with the pasta. Top with more Parmesan cheese if desired.

Source: adapted from Lauren's Latest Pin It