For those who don’t like birthday cake.

Apparently March is a great month to have kids. Four birthdays in two weeks. 

We all have those friends who are kinda picky. No icing, some chocolate but not too much, not too sweet, I don’t like cake… I feel ya (the picky people). I don’t think I can order a regular item on a menu without asking about changing it … 

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And so I present to you, the ultimate birthday cookie. It is amazing. Half cake mix, half flour, sprinkles, oreo bits and even chocolate chips if you’re feelin’ it. It has the most incredible cookie texture and looks SO GOOD. 

The key is actually chilling to dough to get the right texture. Thank you Sally!

Ultimate Birthday Cookie via Sally’s Baking Addiction 

Yields 20 cookies

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups flour

1 ¼ cups yellow or vanilla boxed cake mix

½ tsp baking sosa

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened 

½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1 ½ tsp vanilla 

⅔ semi sweet chocolate chips

½ cup sprinkles

10 oreos, crushed into pieces

Instructions

1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cake mix, and baking soda. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer, cream the softened butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla and beat on high until combined. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low-medium speed until just combined. Add the chocolate chips, sprinkles, and crushed Oreos. Mix on low until the add-ins are evenly disbursed.

3. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days. This step is mandatory. The dough is fairly sticky, so chilling the dough is required in order to avoid the cookies from spreading too much. If you chill longer than 2 hours, make sure you roll the cookie dough into balls after the 2 hour mark. Place dough balls on a plate, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

4. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

5. Scoop rounded balls of the cold dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. Use about 2 Tablespoons of cookie dough per cookie. Shape your cookie dough balls to be “taller” than they are wide. Press a few chocolate chips or crushed Oreo pieces into the tops of the cookie dough balls, if desired. That makes a pretty cookie. Make sure to keep dough chilled when working in batches.

6. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until edges are slightly browned. The centers will still appear very soft, but the cookies will set as they cool. You may also press a few more chips into the tops of the cookies at this point (the chips will melt down and stick from the warm cookies).

7. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 4 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days. 

Aww yeah.

05:26 pm, by fiftyfiveessex

Giant Salad Bowl for Dinner 

To boost your salad (and actually be full afterward), add some healthy fats (avocados, nuts, cheese, sunflower seeds), lean protein (chicken breast), and quinoa. Throw some other colourful veggies, add a vinaigrette, and it suddenly becomes restaurant worthy. 

  10:28 am, by fiftyfiveessex

The Vegetarian Post

I love meat. Michael loves meat. Believe it or not, there actually are some pretty solid vegetarian recipes that taste good! For my meat loving friends, I’m pretty sure these are some of the reasons why you stay away from anything that says “vegetarian” because this is what I used to think:

1) It will taste bland. The first time I tried quinoa I thought it tasted like cardboard. I have come a long way and so can you! 

 2) You will not be full. True, but not every vegetarian dish is salad. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

3) You don’t know what to make. Fear not, I’ve got you covered ;) 

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If you cave and decide you’ll try one of these (ha), there has to be some levelling of the playing ground: 

- meat-alternative dishes are not meant to taste like meat!! Honestly, you cannot expect black beans to taste like ground beef. That’s not fair…

- give it a chance if the first time doesn’t work out. Just like any other recipe, it requires tweaking to appeal to your tastes over time.

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Best Vegetarian Recipes to Try 

I have bookmarked these and tried a handful of these vegetarian recipes. Point being, they actually look good, most ingredients should already be in your pantry, they are substantial and filling, and they are of course healthy and delicious. 

1. THE BEST Black Bean Burgers (fiancé approved). 

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I’ve posted about black bean burgers way too many times, but doesn’t that prove my point? These are actually a keeper. I’ve made them so many times and they always turn out so well. Even my guy friends and fiancé approve!!! 

2. Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf

I have also made these at least four times and it is very, very good. Lentils is something new that I started cooking with and it is crazy how cheap and good it is for you! P.S The apple glaze is AMAZING. If you make the loaf, you can’t really cheap out and not make the sauce. Sorry :(

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3.  Sweet Potato Burgers with Garlic Cream and Avocado 

I haven’t made this yet, but I have definitely seen this pinned, reblogged, and referenced by other bloggers! Roasted garlic and avocado? Who can refuse. 

4. The Big Veg Quinoa Burger

I also have not made these yet but it combines some of my favourite ingredients - quinoa, parsnip and corn on the cob! It mostly looks intriguing so I’d be curious to try. 

5. Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Perhaps a keeper for the summer, but definitely one that will impress at the summer BBQs! I love this blog as well and they have the cutest boy ever :)  

Give it a try!! Go! 

09:04 pm, by fiftyfiveessex

The Redemption Cookie: Gingersnap Cookies

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I was going to make Earl Grey cookies (I realize this isn’t Valentinesy at all but it’s his favourite tea and hint hint for our wedding cake…!). I haven’t made shortbread cookies before but pretty sure this will be my last … 

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It actually was the most disastrous thing I’ve ever made and even when I tried to re-work the dough, I killed the poor thing. It did not look like the picture at all with little cute, dainty specks of tea but this sickly, greyish colour that just looked seriously ill. I was not meant for butter cookies. 

Plan B: Two Peas and Their Pod Gingersnap Cookies

I have had this bookmarked for a long time and have been dying to make these cookies! Thankfully, they did not disappoint.

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And yes, I intentionally wanted you all to see I am ENGAGEDD. woohooo.

I think it’s better to use light molasses (I only had dark which gave it a very strong flavour) so up to you. It was light, crispy, and a perfect winter cookie! 

Gingersnap Cookies via Two Peas and Their Pod

Yields ~3 dozen cookies 

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup molasses
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks (optional)

1 cup granulated sugar-for coating cookie dough balls

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Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment papers or with a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.

3. Beat in the molasses, canola oil, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix until well combined.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Slowly add in the flour. Next, stir in the white chocolate chunks.

5. Scoop the dough into balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place on lined baking sheets, about two inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, the cookies will still be soft. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Happy Valentine’s Day. 

12:20 pm, by fiftyfiveessex

(Source: dainty-daysies)

  09:56 am, reblogged  by fiftyfiveessex 8590
lollalaroc:

Delícia

lollalaroc:

Delícia

(Source: folkabout)

09:55 am, reblogged  by fiftyfiveessex 2595

Christmas Gift Guide (for the belly)

December Happenings  

I have been loving this Christmas playlist on Songza. No offence to Mariah’s Merry Christmas but her playlist let me down. Nothing beats singing All I Want for Christmas is You in the car though! 

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My housies had our Secret Santa exchange and I got this awesome tea infuser and Forever Nuts tea from David’s Tea (thank you Joey!!) Highly recommend this one-cup tea infuser that comes with a sturdy lid and coaster and this tea is AMAZING. "…Within seconds, this tempting jumble of almond slices and chunks, apple bits and cinnamon bark starts turning a crazy shade of pink. Why? Because it contains a hint of beetroot. That’s what gives this rich almond tea its earthy depth and its all-natural signature colour." Need I say anymore? 

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Much love. 

Now onto the Christmas Gift Guide (belly edition). 

December is always an expensive month, and one money-saver solution is to bake. Not a baker? You’re bound to attend at least one potluck this season so rather than buying frozen appetizers or volunteering to bring “water” to a potluck (…) I’ve included a brand new potluck pleaser recipe that’s simple, healthy, festive, and sure to impress! (Michael and I already made it twice and quite possibly onto our third time for the next potluck…).

The other Christmas recipes are tried and true and great gifts to give to your special someone! Seriously, put it in a Christmas looking tin box or a mason jar, tie some ribbon and you are good to go! $5. Bam.  

Quinoa, Butternut, Kale and Chicken Pilaf (an original 55 Essex recipe!)

Yields ~6 servings 

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Ingredients

1 small butternut squash

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp olive oil

3 cups quinoa 

1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped finely  

1 onion, diced

2 chicken breasts (or ground chicken) brined*

1/2 cup cranberries 

1/4 cup pinenuts or sunflower seeds 

salt and pepper

**How to brine chicken:Place chicken breasts (thawed or frozen is fine) in a Freezer ziploc. Fill with 2 cups water, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar). Give it a good shake! Leave in fridge overnight. This is an awesome trick to do with any meats that tend to get dry or tough when you cook it (i.e pork chops, chicken breast).   

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Instructions

1. Preheat oven 375 degrees F. 

2. Cut off the two ends of the butternut squash. Cut widthwise in half. Cut in half again but lengthwise. Place squash facing down so you have a sturdy base and slice 1” slices. 

3. On a foiled baking sheet, coat squash with olive oil and cinnamon (such a nice touch!). Bake for 20-30 minutes. Do not cook through! It should be soft enough to slice a knife through but firm enough where it’s difficult to take the knife out. 

4. Cook quinoa using my rice cooker technique! Feel free to substitute half the water for chicken broth. 

5. Slice chicken into strips and fry in a large frying pan. Once browned but not fully cooked, remove from pan. Add kale and onions until softened. You may need to add some water to deglaze the pan. Add chicken back in with cranberries and pinenuts and season with salt and pepper. 

6. Chop the squash into cubes, and add to pan. Add quinoa and mix well.  

Christmas Gift Goodies Guide: 

double chocolate candy cane cookies: my #1 christmas cookie!! 

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- cookie dough bars with pretzel topping: for the cookie dough lover.

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- pb & j thumbprint cookies: for every season. And it’s me in a cookie. 

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- pumpkin ginger cookies: for those who can’t decide whether they’re a pumpkin spice latte or gingerbread latte kind of person.  

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- healthy cranberry orange coffee cake: a great coffee cake for Christmas morning. 

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There you have it! Lots of recipes to get you geared up for the Christmas season. Happy eating! 

06:33 pm, by fiftyfiveessex 2

Glico Curry No More

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Oh you know what this is. That little square packet that makes thick, instant curry? 

Several university meals down the road, we sometimes want real curry that doesn’t have the distinct glico taste even when we “try to be different this time” and mix up the veggies and meat. This recipe is Michael’s Mom’s Mom’s recipe, so extra cred!! She got me a Portuguese curry paste that is so potent and curry-licious, you actually only need a little bit to go a long way. I also have no idea where she bought it which is not helpful at all, but extra points for me! 

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Her style is more soup-based, filled with lemongrass aroma and tender juicy meat from the variety of dark meat. She serves it with vermicelli noodles, bánh mì, and garnishes with cucumber and fresh lime juice. I’ve included some of my adaptations to make it a tad less soupy and a bit thicker. 

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(Michael’s) Grandmother’s Famous Curry

Ingredients

1 whole chicken or chicken legs/wings/thighs

1 large carrot diced

1 large potato

2 onions diced 

1 eggplant, diced

1 yam, diced

1 tomato, diced

1-2 tbsp of curry paste (depending on desired spiciness) 

3 cloves of garlic, minced 

3 shoots of lemongrass, bruised and cut in half

1 can coconut milk

1 lime

1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced 

vermicelli and toasted bread to serve 

Instructions

1. Begin boiling water in a large pot filled 1/4 way.
2. Briefly stirfry chicken with garlic and lemongrass. 
3. Add curry paste, carrots and onions to wok with chicken. Add tomatoes. 
5. Add stirfried mix into boiling water (you do not need to fully cook the ingredients - this is just to infuse the flavours!) 
6. Boil for about 30 minutes. Add potatoes and 1 can of coconut milk 10 minutes before finished cooking time, add eggplant and yam 5 minutes before finished cooking time. Add lime zest right at the end.
7. Season curry with salt to taste.
8. Serve with vermicelli and bread. Add raw cucumbers and lime juice if desired. 

Glico curry no more! 

05:09 pm, by fiftyfiveessex 2

Revival! Vegan Pumpkin Cookies

Err so it’s only been two months since I’ve posted a recipe but we’re back! To bring you up to speed, the 55 Essex crew has disbanded to BC, Montreal, and three different homes in London. I know, we’re actually growing up. 

These are my new housies: 

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Nothing brings people together like stuffing your faces over hot pot! 

I have to say, this Fall has yet been another tough season of transition. I always like to think of Fall being the season that softens the blow of Winter, helping you ease into the cooler air and prepare the trees for long months of barrenness. 

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If you’ve been following over the past year, you might recall that I’ve talked a lot about barren trees and things that I’ve been learning from God about lessons through the seasons. 

"I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps." Jeremiah 10:23 

Take a second in your busy November to take a step back and think about what it means that it is the Lord your God who directs your steps. Even what it means to call God your Lord! This is the promise: “…you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29. 

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Cheltenham Badlands if you were wondering … 

In addition to spending some bonding time with Jesus, there’s nothing wrong with some cookie lovin’ to cheer you up in this difficult season! I tried a new recipe last night (my first vegan cookie one) with some tweaks. It has pumpkin, it has no butter, and there’s pieces of Limited Edition Gingerbread Oreos. Win. 

Vegan Pumpkin (Assorted) Cookies via Two Peas and Their Pod

Yields: ~2 dozen

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Ingredients

1 cup white flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp pumpkin spice (you can find this at Bulk Barn)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/3 cup almonds, chopped

1/2 cup chocolate chips

4 Gingerbread Oreos (limited edition, go get it now!!), chopped 

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with butter. 

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.

3. Using a mixer, combine the coconut oil and sugars together. Add vanilla extract and pumpkin and mix until combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, oreos, and almonds. 

4. Drop by large, rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Make sure you put it in the middle rack! I burnt the bottoms because the rack was too low :( Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

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Yum yum in my tum tum.   

10:29 am, by fiftyfiveessex 2