November 26, 2013

Balsamic Caramelized Onion Hummus

Balsamic Caramelized Onion Hummus

Sorry I haven't posted very much lately!  I had wanted to share a few Thanksgiving-y recipes before American Thanksgiving this week (even though we already had our Thanksgiving over a month ago, I always love an excuse to make comfort food!) but I just didn't have time.   I did, however, make this amazing balsamic caramelized onion hummus last weekend so I'm selling it as a last-minute Thanksgiving appetizer idea for my American friends, but you can and should make it any other time you want!

Balsamic Caramelized Onion Hummus

If you've read my blog for some time you know I love hummus, and especially trying new flavours of hummus.  I try to make it myself when I can because it's usually cheaper and healthier (plus you get a much bigger batch than the tiny containers from the store!), but I often buy it too, especially when a new flavour catches my eye at the grocery store.  The latest one to do so was Summer Fresh's caramelized onion hummus, which I completely devoured and then vowed to make my own version.

Balsamic Caramelized Onion Hummus

So I drew inspiration from the ingredient list on the container as well as a few recipes I easily found online to make my own recipe, and at the last minute decided to drizzle in a balsamic reduction to make it extra special!

Balsamic Caramelized Onion Hummus

I know I say this after every hummus I make, but I think this is my new favourite hummus!  Caramelized onions are already one of my favourite things to add to any dish, but they work especially well blended into a creamy dip and complemented with the sweetness of the balsamic reduction.  I left some caramelized onions whole too which gave the dip a nice added texture.

Balsamic Caramelized Onion Hummus

I ate mine with caramelized onion triscuits which obviously went perfectly well with the hummus.  They made great dippers, but if you want to make this a bit of a fancier appetizer, you can spread some hummus on the crackers and top them with a little caramelized onions and balsamic drizzle.
 A little more work but also a little prettier!

If you're celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I hope you have a wonderful time with family, friends, and food! 

Balsamic Caramelized Onion Hummus

Balsamic Caramelized Onion Hummus

Recipe inspired by Summer Fresh Caramelized Onion Hummus with additional inspiration from several sources including The Real Housewife, An Edible Mosaic, The Sweets Life


2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium yellow or sweet onions, thinly sliced
1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided
1 (540mL) can chickpeas
3 tablespoons reserved liquid from can of chickpeas
3 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and stir to coat with oil.  After about 5 minutes, season with a bit of salt.  Spread onions out evenly across the pan and let cook, stirring about every 3-4 minutes, until softened, about 20-30 minutes total.  In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add 1 teaspoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and stir to coat.  Once they are caramelized to your liking, remove from pan.  Save a small amount of onions to top the hummus later, if desired.  Add the rest to the large bowl of a food processor. 

Meanwhile, reserve about 3 tablespoons of liquid from the chickpea can and drain and rinse the rest of the chickpeas.  Add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and let simmer until reduced to a thick, syrupy liquid, about 1-2 tablespoons worth.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Add to the food processor the chickpeas, liquid from the chickpea can, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, salt, and pepper.  Process until smooth.  Adjust any ingredient amounts to your liking, if necessary.

Serve hummus topped with reserved caramelized onions and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

November 15, 2013

Rice Krispie & Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Rice Krispie & Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Last weekend was Ryan's last shift at the workplace he's been with for a very long time, so I wanted to make the day special by bringing in lots of treats for him to share with his coworkers (who have always been so appreciative of the baked goods I've dumped on them over the years - I'm going to miss not having them to bake for anymore!)

I couldn't decide between making cinnamon buns, red velvet cupcakes, or these brownies, so I went a little overboard and made all three.  It was a lot of work, but definitely worth it!  Of the three treats though, the one I definitely got the most comments on from everyone there was these chocolate peanut butter rice krispie brownies - people loved them!

I don't usually post recipes on here that I haven't either made up myself or adapted from the original source, and though I didn't change much with this recipe, I still felt that it deserved its own special post because of how popular they were!   Not only did I want to make sure I could share them with you guys, but I need to make sure I remember them myself for the next time I need a crowd pleasing dessert!
Rice Krispie & Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

The recipe is one that I saw on Love & Olive Oil, though it's originally from the cookbook Peanut Butter Comfort by the author of the blog Averie Cooks (so be sure to check both blogs out - I love them!).

These decadent brownies are made up of a layer of rich chocolately brownies as the base, which are baked and cooled before being topped with chopped peanut butter cups and a few more chocolate chips, followed by a mixture of rice krispies coated in melted chocolate and peanut butter, which then firms up in the fridge.  The result is a brownie that's both fudgy and crunchy with a lot of peanut butter and chocolate flavour!

And the best part is that the recipe makes a 9x13-inch pan's worth of brownies, and because they're pretty rich, you can cut them into really tiny squares to serve a big crowd - I got about 45 squares out of mine and they still disappeared pretty quickly!

Rice Krispie & Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

I realized after making these that they're pretty similar to the "better-than-crack brownies" that have been all over the web (see here for an example).  I think the main differences are that there are no peanuts sprinkled over the brownie layer in this version, and this uses all semisweet chocolate instead of the milk chocolate I've seen in most better-than-crack brownies, which is a good choice because I think milk chocolate would make these way too sweet.  I might try adding the chopped peanuts next time though because I think they'd add a nice crunch.

So I'm sorry if you've already seen a million versions of these already, but they're popular for a reason, so if you haven't tried them yet, let this be your reminder to make them for your next event!

Rice Krispie & Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Brownies

To get the recipe (originally from Peanut Butter Comfort) please visit: Love & Olive Oil

The only small changes I made to the recipe were to increase the number of chopped peanut butter cups from 8 to 12 because I'd bought a package of 12 (for $2 from Walmart!) and this gave more coverage with the peanut butter cups.  I then reduced the number of chocolate chips that are sprinkled along with the peanut butter cups by about half.
I also increased the amount of rice krispies by about half a cup.

November 12, 2013

Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion BBQ Cheddar Pizza

Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion BBQ Cheddar Pizza

If you’ve been on Facebook or Instagram this morning, you’ve likely seen lots of pictures of snow – it seems like quite a few cities in both the US and Canada have experienced their first snowfall this week!  I usually split my time between two cities in Southern Ontario, and fortunately the one I’m in right now got less snow than the other one – just enough to coat all the leaves on the ground but not enough to stay on the sidewalks.  Even with only a light layer of snow though, it’s still been freezing cold outside this week so it seems that winter has officially arrived!

Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion BBQ Cheddar Pizza

With the colder weather, I’ve been craving warm and comforting food a lot more lately, and this pizza fit the bill perfectly!  It’s full of hearty, savoury flavours including roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, and a bold barbeque sauce in place of tomato sauce.  It might sound like a kind of strange combination, especially with the cheddar cheese, but trust me that it all works so well together! 

When I brought up the idea for dinner a while ago to Ryan, he rejected it then because the idea of sweet potatoes on pizza was a little too out there for him, but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head so I went ahead and made it the other day and even he admitted “it was really good”.  I would add one extra "really" on to that myself!

Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion BBQ Cheddar Pizza

I know I’ve been making a lot of naan pizzas lately, and I swear I had intended to make this one a real pizza instead, but the store I went grocery shopping at didn’t have any pizza dough (except for those pre-made circles of cardboard) and I didn’t have time to make my own dough, so I grabbed some whole wheat naan.  But naan is cheaper than pizza dough (at least at my grocery stores) and allows you to make the perfect individual sized pizzas whenever you want, so I really love them!  

If you're cooking for more than a couple people though (or don't like naan bread for some crazy reason), feel free to use regular pizza dough with the same toppings - the recipe I provide is more of a guide anyway so you can adapt it to whatever type of base you like!

Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion BBQ Cheddar Pizza

Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion BBQ Cheddar Pizza

This is just a rough guide for a large pizza or 4 naan pizzas – all ingredients are estimates and can be adjusted as you see fit.


1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into about ½-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
2 large sweet onions, peeled and sliced into half moons
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 ball of pizza dough or 4 pieces of whole wheat naan bread
Your favourite BBQ sauce (I used a bold bbq sauce – try to use a thicker one with flavour)
Shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F.  Toss sweet potatoes with a couple teaspoons of olive oil or enough to coat them, and season with salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, heat another tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, stir to coat with oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Spread onions out evenly across the pan and let cook, stirring only occasionally, until softened, about 15-20 minutes.  Add sugar (this is to help them caramelize; I don’t always do this step), stir to coat, and let cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring only occasionally.  Once they are caramelized to your liking, remove from pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to desired temperature for cooking your pizza – this depends on what type of dough you’re using: a recipe for pizza dough will give cooking instructions, a storebought ball of pizza dough also will, and if you’re making naan pizzas, I cook mine at 425°F for about 10-12 minutes.  Prepare pizzas by spreading a thin layer of bbq sauce as the base of the pizza, top with a thin layer of cheddar cheese (or desired amount of cheese), followed by the cooked sweet potatoes and onions.  Season lightly with salt and pepper if desired, and bake.  Serve warm.

November 08, 2013

Healthy Pumpkin Mousse

Healthy Pumpkin Tofu Mousse

It seems like everyone has already moved on from pumpkin flavoured everything to gingerbread everything, myself included – I love Starbucks gingerbread lattes even more than pumpkin spice lattes and now that they have a molasses drizzle on them I can’t resist getting one whenever I go near a Starbucks! 

And now that there’s starting to be a little snow in the air and on the ground, it’s hard to resist getting in the holiday spirit already. I thought it was a little early still but the Santa Claus parade in my hometown is tomorrow, so I guess not!

Healthy Pumpkin Tofu Mousse

I was just reading on Averie Cooks yesterday (in her post for these amazing looking gingerbread molasses chocolate chip bars) how bloggers so predictably go from pumpkin to gingerbread to peppermint every year, which is so true.  But part of what makes people go crazy for these flavours is how briefly we get to use them each year, so we have to make the most of them while we can!

Hopefully not everyone is ready to completely abandon pumpkin yet though, as I still have one more pumpkin recipe to share!

Healthy Pumpkin Tofu Mousse

Pumpkin tofu mousse is probably not anything new to a lot of you, but this was the first time I’d tried it and it was so much better than I’d expected that I’ve already made it a few times this year! It’s basically like pumpkin pie in mousse/pudding form with the added benefit of being pretty healthy!  It's actually not as fluffy as regular mousse, but it's lighter than pudding so I wasn't sure what to call it - feel free to call it whatever you like!

This mousse or pudding or whatever you want to call it is super easy to make – just blend together some pumpkin puree, silken tofu (you won’t taste it at all but it adds protein and makes everything light and fluffy!), a bit of pure maple syrup for sweetness, and some vanilla and pumpkin pie spices. I also added a little Greek yogurt to mine for a little extra flavour and thickness, but if you prefer to keep this vegan you could leave it out.

Hope you have room for a little more pumpkin in you, but if not, I will probably be moving on to holiday flavours pretty soon!

Healthy Pumpkin Tofu Mousse

Pumpkin Tofu "Mousse"

Adapted from several sources, including The Smart Kitchen and Baked In

Makes around 4 small servings (but serving size for something like this can vary)


8oz silken tofu (usually about half a package), drained of all excess water (do your best to get as much water out as you can)
1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) – or one 15oz can
1/4 cup plain or vanilla low fat Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt


Add tofu and pumpkin to the large bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.  Add all remaining ingredients (leave the 2 tablespoons of maple syrup out for now), and process until well combined.  Taste and add as much of the remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup as desired to reach desired level of sweetness.  If desired, you could replace some of the maple syrup with brown sugar.  Adjust any other spices as needed and according to preference.

Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours before serving.  Keep refrigerated.  Water from the tofu may separate after a couple of days, just drain it or stir it back in before serving.

November 05, 2013

Monthly Recap - October 2013

fall leaves

I can't believe my favourite month of October is already over and these gorgeous fall leaves have already almost all fallen!

This was a fantastic month though - here's a brief recap!

fall leaves

This month, Ryan and I spent a week up in Thunder Bay to visit his family and spend Thanksgiving with them, which was so wonderful. Here's a glimpse of the area, which is gorgeous:

Thunder Bay in Fall

We went to a farm full of pumpkins, where we took in the festival fall atmosphere and took some pics of our adorable little nephew.

Belluz Farm

We also enjoyed this delicious pumpkin soup and gouda cheese biscuit there - the perfect meal for a chilly fall day!

pumpkin soup and cheese biscuit

Earlier that week, we went for breakfast at Made Fresh, where we devoured these amazing pumpkin pancakes topped with candied pumpkin seeds and pumpkin spice whipped cream - heaven!

pumpkin pancakes

I also discovered a new favourite restaurant while we were there - The Growing Season - which I haven't stopped talking about since I returned.  I just wish it wasn't so far away!  The first time we went there for lunch I got the season sandwich:

season sandwich

It had grilled local gouda cheese, avocado slices, and pesto drizzle on local bread, with a huge side salad with sprouted lentils, pumpkin seeds, and an amazing sesame dressing.  All so good!

chicken unwrap

Ryan got the chipotle chicken "unwrap" with roasted chicken, red peppers, sesame snaps, and chipotle sauce on top of naan bread, and he loved it.

In fact, we loved our meals so much we went back later in the week!

venus rice bowl

This time I tried the venus rice bowl, which had brown rice, carrots, beets, sprouts, spinach, tofu, and almonds, all tossed in a tahini dressing. So good and good for you! I'm going to have to try to recreate some of these meals to have at home since I can't get them anymore!

Of course, my favourite meal of the week was Thanksgiving dinner!

thanksgiving dinner

This is actually a picture of my leftovers meal the next day, which is why the gravy looks a little funny, but it was all so, so good!  We had turkey and gravy, stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, butternut squash gratin, kale and broccoli salad, homemade cranberry sauce, and pierogies, which was a new-to-me but welcome addition to the meal!  It was followed by my sister-"in-law"'s amazing pumpkin pie with tofu, which I don't have a picture of because I devoured it too quickly!

We also enjoyed tons of other amazing food that week as I was spoiled as usual and never had to cook for myself! I have tried a few dishes back at home this month, though.

pumpkin bread

I made this pumpkin yeast bread earlier and am still enjoying the slices I kept in the freezer.   I replaced some of the flour with whole wheat flour and the sugar with some maple syrup, so it may be my own fault but I found it was a little lacking in flavour.  Nevertheless, it's still been a great base for peanut butter in the mornings!

Another not-so-successful recipe this month was a layered sweet potato torte:

layered sweet potato torte

The original torte recipe from Vegetarian Times is made up of layers of sliced sweet potatoes, swiss chard, red onion, and blue cheese.  I made a few changes, using kale instead of swiss chard, yellow onions instead of red, and goat cheese instead of blue cheese, and I didn't have a springform pan so I had to make less layers in a regular cake pan.  Because of this, it didn't turn out as well as it should have - kale doesn't cook down the same way that swiss chard does (I should have known this) and goat cheese doesn't provide the same punch that blue cheese does.  I think if I'd made this recipe as originally written, it would have been really good - in fact, my sister has made this a few times and loves it, so don't change anything if you give it a try!

sauteed kale and mushroomms

Otherwise, I've been making a lot of quick meals this month, and a lot involving kale. I've been eating a lot of kale salads and naan pizzas with kale, and pictured above is some sauteed kale with cooked mushrooms, garlic, onions, a big pinch of red pepper flakes, and some parmesan cheese. I made it just to use up some kale and mushrooms I had in the fridge but I ended up really liking it!

pumpkin smoothie

I'm also still on a big pumpkin kick, throwing it into my yogurt or smoothies in the morning along with some pumpkin pie spice. Yum!

immune booster

In an effort to ward off cold season this month (so far, so good!), I've been taking shots of this homemade "immune booster" most nights, which contains a bunch of ingredients that are commonly cited as ways to fight off colds: unfiltered apple cider vinegar, raw ginger, garlic, onion, and horseradish, along with a big pinch of turmeric, a couple hot peppers, and a bit of raw honey (which I only included in one batch). It's roughly based on a recipe I found through Pinterest here, which is similar to this "fire cider" recipe.  It's very spicy, vinegary, and garlicky, but I actually have come to kind of like it!  I can make no claims as to its effectiveness and I'm not recommending it as an official cold-fighter for anyone, but I like to think I'm doing my immune system some good by consuming it, even if it's just a placebo effect!

fall leaves

And if you're still reading, I have one last piece of exciting news to share with you from this past month - I got engaged!  My amazing boyfriend of almost six years took to me to a beautiful scenic spot on our trip up north earlier this month and proposed, and of course I said yes!  I couldn't be more excited to start planning a wedding with the man I've known I would spend the rest of my life with for a long time now.  It's hard getting used to the word fiance though!

As I said at the beginning, this was a pretty great month! :)

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