Sunday, November 29, 2015

Apple Bruschetta with Pumpkin Butter

I like this dish. As an appetizer, it satisfies your sweet tooth. As a dessert, it's a refreshing change from very sweet recipes we are used to and would go well with a little port. You can also swap out the caramel sauce with goat cheese, as an example, to inject a little savoury in with the sweet.  If you're wondering what to do with the leftover pumpkin butter, milkshakes and ice cream sundaes come to mind, but there are a number of other great ideas here:

Pumpkin butter

  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 2 T apple juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 T ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 T ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • dash of salt

Apple Bruschetta

  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 3 granny smith apples
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 T butter
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce 

Pumpkin Butter

Combine all ingredients in your blender. If you have a Vitamix, run the ingredients through the smoothie setting once, then with a spoon, stir the ingredients and run it through the smoothie setting again. If you're working with a traditional blender, blend for 30 seconds on low speed, another 30 seconds on medium and 30 seconds on high speed for two rounds. Pour the blended ingredients into a pot and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for ten minutes with the lid ajar. Remove from heat and let cool.

Apple Bruschetta

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Peel, core and dice the apples. In a bowl, combine the apples with the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar, ensuring the apples are well coated with the other ingredients. In a small pot, melt the butter and add the apple mixture. Sauté the apples for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. The apples should be cooked, but not mushy.

Spread a thin layer of the pumpkin butter on the baguette slices. Add a spoonful of the apples on top and drizzle with caramel. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Frosting

Baking shmaking!! I can put together a basic cake and a few squares, but delicate pastries and other French concoctions take patience, practice and timing. Meh. The cupcake, however, can be pulled off by a more careless and aloof baker. If the cake winds up tasting like sandbox, you can always load on a lethal amount of icing as a cover up.

My stand mixer gathered dust for about 10 months this year. A few weeks ago, I finally pulled it out to try my hand at some Christmas baking and have had some good results so far. This recipe is one of those results and I encourage you to try it out. If peppermint isn't your thing, I made a similar batch of cupcakes with two teaspoons of Bailey's Irish Cream creamer and a teaspoon of espresso (prepared with water, that is) and some instant espresso grounds sprinkled on top.  I found the icing a little wet, which didn't give me the decorative look I was hoping for. If you want a better looking topping for your cupcakes, you'll need to add more icing sugar to get that result.


Makes 12 cupcakes


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Peppermint Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup light tub-style cream cheese
  • 1/8 t peppermint extract
  • 12 hard peppermint candies, crushed

*I had to double the icing recipe to get enough icing to pipe on to the cupcakes. If you opt to spread the icing on with a knife, you won't need to double your quantities.


Preheat oven to 350F. Place brown sugar and butter in a stand mixer and mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time until combined. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the dry ingredients in stages to the mixer, alternating with the buttermilk. Once all combined, pour the batter into individually lined cupcake tins. Bake for 12 minutes. To test, poke the centre of a cupcake with a toothpick. If done, the toothpick should be clean.

For the icing, blend all ingredients together. Spoon the icing into a plastic bag and cut the tip off of one corner of it. Squeeze the icing onto each cupcake.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Buckwheat & Coconut Muffins

Count 'em down, folks! We're seven weeks away from the most body-punishing event of the year: Christmas. I'm already hyped up on Halloween candy and pumpkin pie. Now comes the downward spiral of unwinding..or unraveling with cinnamon rolls, chocolates, christmas cookies, eggnog and liquor.  By January 2nd, I'll feel like I've been hit by a sugar truck.

This muffin recipe is low in sugar and a candida diet favorite. Candida is a yeast that grows naturally in the intestine. Excess consumption of sugars and yeast can apparently spark its' overgrowth, which some natural medical practitioners link to a myriad of symptoms, from bladder and yeast infections to acne and fatigue. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, there isn't much scientific evidence to support this ailment which could either mean not much research has been done and/or the research wasn't conclusive. Whether candida overgrowth is a real condition or not, consuming less sugar and processed foods in one's diet is supported by both the science-based and alternative medicine fields and I'm heeding their advice.

I've been eating these with Greek yoghurt in the morning. Ruedi added sliced banana and dried cherries to his serving today. Also remember to buy the unsweetened versions of the ingredients below.  I know the coconut was available sweetened, as was the almond milk. If you want a little more sweetness to the muffin, I would double up on the stevia instead.  I vow to feel a little better this Christmas. Lord knows there will still be plenty of opportunities to overdo it. 

Makes about 15 muffins

  • 2 cups buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1/4 cup of almond butter
  • 1.5 t stevia
  • 1 T alcohol free vanilla


Preheat oven to  375 F.  Oil or butter a 12 cup muffin pan and set aside.  Soak the buckwheat groats in water will a pinch of salt for 6-7 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Mix all dry ingredients except the stevia in a bowl. Mix all wet ingredients and the stevia in a bowl and whisk until frothy. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and spoon a third of a cup of the mix into each cup of the muffin pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until muffins are brown around the edge and firm to the touch.