First, the blog newsI’ve got a new blog home!  (Well, almost–we’re about 95% moved in and unpacked so far. . . we’ve still got to add a virtual top coat of paint, rearrange some html furniture and hang some digital pictures before the rest is up and running over the next week or so, but everything is on site and functional!).   Please drop by to check it out, and don’t forget to change your Google Reader, other subscription info and blogrolls  (it’s also much easier to subscribe to this new site, so hope that helps–and note that the page tabs are now across the top of the page, not on the right as in this site!). I’ll be transferring over there for good by next week.  And now–ta da!–here’s the new home of

Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

The site was set up and arranged by Blain Smith of 13 Infinite.  It’s been a pleasure to work with him on this–Blain’s communication style is easy and relaxed, yet always professional.  He’s also been very accommodating and incredibly quick about responding to all my emails regarding the site (not to mention very patient with my sometimes endless questions and requests!).  If you’re looking to set up a new blog, I’d highly recommend him.

Next, the cookbook news: my cookbook finally has a cover! 

coverpic

(I’m guessing you might recognize some of those photos?  And I know, the red, white and blue looks very patriotic,no?) 😉

Finally, the Double Giveaway News!!

I am very excited for this giveaway because it’s the perfect melding of my new blog, my new cookbook, and a product I love!

In honor of the cookbook’s cover being finalized, I decided to throw another giveaway to celebrate–add a new blog home, and it’s really a reason to party! (Get those chandeliers and lampshades ready!)

So here’s the scoop:

WHAT YOU CAN WIN

PRIZE ONE:  ANYONE IN NORTH AMERICA CAN WIN (again, a HUGE apology to my overseas readers–shipping costs prohibit overseas delivery.  BUT I DO PROMISE THAT THE NEXT GIVEAWAY WILL ABSOLUTELY INCLUDE ANYONE ON THE PLANET!)

Win a quart-sized jug of Coombs Family Farms Pure Maple Syrup! 

coombssyrup2

[This is a photo of the glass bottle I received–the quart jug prize is four times this big!]

Yes, the prize is the same amazing maple syrup I wrote about in my previous post. And when the people at Coombs Family Farms heard how much I loved their syrup, and how much my readers wished they could taste some, they said, “Okay!  Let’s give some away!”  Who am I to argue?  I said, “YEEEE-AAH.” 

With a full quart (about a liter) of pure maple syrup, you can bake every maple-based recipe on this blog, and probably all the maple-based recipes in my new book, too!  And I can’t wait for one of you to sample this extraordinary product as well, and tell me what you think!

PRIZE  TWO: THOSE IN THE TORONTO AREA CAN WIN (to ensure freshness, it has to be within the general Toronto area, or you must be willing to meet me within Toronto–I am really sorry it can’t be everywhere!  sniff!)

A custom-baked chocolate layer cake from the Sweet Freedom recipe–made to your specifications!

choccakeicingsf

After I posted about the cake I made for my friend Eternal Optimist’s birthday, I was touched by so many positive comments about the cake.  This is the same recipe I used for several years when I baked birthday cakes for kids with food sensitivities to wheat, eggs, dairy and refined sugar–and was a regular hit with the kids and adults alike (low-gluten, but not gluten free). The 9-inch layer cake serves 10-12 people comfortably.

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Now, I’d love for a lucky reader to sample this chocolately, moist and light cake, too!  And you get to design the frosting/filling, plus whether you’d like a message on the cake as well.  (We’ll choose a mutually convenient delivery time so that you can even plan to serve the cake to family, friends, or party guests!)

bdaycakewhole2

Here’s what you can choose:

  • Chocolate layers with vanilla pastry cream filling and chocolate buttercream frosting
  • Chocolate layers with all chocolate–filling and frosting
  • Chocolate layers with sweet potato truffle filling and chocolate frosting
  • Chocolate layers with chocolate filling and sweet potato truffle frosting (the cake in the photo above)
  • Message of your choice in any color frosting (or no message–it’s up to you).

I’ll deliver the cake freshly baked and frosted so it’s ready to serve!

HOW TO ENTER:

Entering couldn’t be easier–simply click on over to my new blog home, take a look around, then let me know either:

1) what more you’d like to see on the blog (any other features you’d like me to add?  Something you’re missing from the old blog? –etc.) OR

2) what you like best about the new blog if you can’t think of anything you’d like to be different. 

FOR A CHANCE AT TWO EXTRA ENTRIES, simply mention the contest on your own blog, if you have one, and link to this very page on the new blog (ie, this page).

Don’t have a blog?  You can still earn two extra entries!  Simply browse through the Recipe Index on the new DDD and choose a favorite recipe that uses maple syrup (some of the links haven’t been shifted to the new blog yet, so you might still be in the old blog when you click on a recipe title–I’m in the process of changing them all over).  Then comment again, letting me know which one you like best, and why–and you’ll be entered two more times.

Please be sure to include a valid email address so I can get in touch with you if you win.

That’s it! 

Please post your comments on the new site to be eligible to win (that way I can keep track of all the entries in one place).  🙂

HOW IT WILL WORK:

Once the contest closes, I’ll choose two winners from a bag of names.  The first Toronto-area name I withdraw will win the cake.  Then all the other names go back into the bag for the maple syrup draw, and the second name I choose wins that. 

DEADLINE AND ANNOUNCEMENT:

  1. Deadline for entries is midnight, March 31, 2009, Toronto time. 
  2. Winners will be announced first thing on April 2, 2009 (I wouldn’t dare post contest winners on April Fool’s Day!). 

I loved baking up a storm for the previous giveaway, and was thrilled with Lisa’s kind words about the Sweet Freedom goodies. 

I can’t wait to get baking on this cake for you this time round as well.  And even if you can’t win the cake, you’re still eligible to win the syrup–so you can then bake your own delectable treats!

HAPPY SPRING, EVERYONE!

Featured in Clean Eating!

February 12, 2009

[Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved!  If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

* * * * * * * * * *

Just a quick note to share some exciting news: my recipe for Orange-Infused Chocolate Almond Cake is featured in this month’s Clean Eating magazine! 

choctorte3

When I was asked by the folks at the magazine to create a recipe for a healthy, fudgy chocolate cake (that met the Clean Eating requirements, of course–basically the NAG diet that I follow anyway), I was thrilled and got to work!  I actually submitted the recipe last summer, but that’s how far in advance the schedule is planned. I didn’t want to mention anything until I saw it in print with my own eyes. . . and now it’s finally here–yay! Wow, did their food stylist ever make that cake look gorgeous (the pic above is mine, not theirs–the magazine version is much more attractive!)

For those of you who can get the magazine where you live, it’s the March/April issue, with a bowl of Black-Eyed Pea Stew on the cover and the banner headline, “Try Our Chocolate-Almond Cake: Enjoy a Second Guilt-Free Slice”.  And while my recipe was mentioned on the cover, to see my name credited, you have to squint really hard, then look at the teeny, tiny, teensy weensy little print along the fold to the right of the recipe (which is on the last page of the mag, in the “Happy Endings” section).

For those who are interested, the magazine is based on the philosophy/diet of Tosca Reno, who wrote the book Eat Clean.  Some of the articles in this particular issue include 5-ingredient entrées, nutritious snacks, allergy-proofing your home, risotto by Food Network host Aida Mollenkamp, and antioxidant berries, goji and acai (and no, I have no personal stake in the magazine–I’m not affiliated with them in any way except for having developed that recipe for them). 

I wish I could reprint the recipe here, but I can’t, as Clean Eating purchased the recipe rights as well.  But I think you can at least get an idea from the photo above! 

New recipe next post, I promise 🙂

PS  Vegan/Vegetarian readers take note:  while 22 of the 68 recipes in the magazine are vegetarian, most do contain eggs or dairy (mine doesn’t, of course!).

Mum, if clean eating means ‘cleaning out your bowl every time you eat,’ then I think we could write for that magazine, too.  Or maybe we could just be taste-testers. Much better than eating snow, I’m sure.”

chasersnowface

[Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved!  If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

trufflesinglewhole

Are you looking forward to V-Day next week?  Seems most people either love it or hate it.  Being from the “never too much schmaltz” school of romance, I love Valentine’s Day.  Even during all those years before I met the HH, I’d always endeavor to celebrate somehow.  I’d send cards to my friends or my sisters.  I’d invite a gal pal for dinner so we could sip Shiraz together and muse about how few good men there were out there.  One year, I think I even bought myself roses (must have been my “I am woman, hear me roar” phase).

Last year, I composed a fairly elaborate (and, as I recall, extremely disorderly) meal for the HH and me.  Given my frenetic schedule these days working on the book (the Index is done!  The book has officially moved from the “writing” to the “production” stage! Whoo!), I assumed I’d have no time to repeat last year’s amorous performance (I meant preparing the meal, silly!  You crazy romantics, you!). But then I saw Susan’s post about this year’s Vegetable Love contest, and how could I resist?  (Not that I find Fatfree Vegan Kitchen’s charms any more alluring than those of the HH, you understand). 

The contest asks you to create a romantic dish using one or more vegetables of your choice.  Last year, I came up with a Vegan Molten Chocolate Cake recipe using puréed zucchini and spinach.  I loved the taste of the cakes, but the molten filling was temperamental–sometimes it formed a lovely, floating cloud of lava in the center of the cake, as it was supposed to do; other times, the filling got sucked up by the batter and all that remained was a tiny disk of tar-like chocolate at its core.  You’d think I’d give up on sweets with veggies in them.  But no. . .

truffleinside

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, sweet potatoes are my favorite vegetable.  I love sweet potatoes in just about anything (or, as I’ve seen the phrase skipping around the blogosphere lately, I lurrrve sweet potatoes).  When I was on the anti-candida diet several years ago, sweet potatoes became my favorite veggie (and my favorite brekkie).  They’re a healthy vegetable.  They’re orange.  They’re sweet.  And their name sounds like a term of endearment:  “Oh, why so coy, my little Sweet Potato?  Come on over here and let me help you out of that peel.”  Why not use them as the basis for a sweet filling in a Valentine’s Day truffle, then?

trufflecup

This year’s recipe really should have made it into the cookbook–it’s that good.  What you’ll end up with is an insanely creamy, smooth, rich-tasting truffle filling,  vibrantly orange and steeped in citrus flavor. In fact, no one would ever guess it contained one of the world’s healthiest roots.  I fed 0ne of these beauties to the HH, and he literally licked his fingers clean, enthusing, “This tastes exactly like a really fine quality, high-end chocolate!”  This from a guy who’d normally consume chocolates with cream, butter and white sugar.  “There is no trace of sweet potato flavor in these,” he went on. “All you taste is the orange” (enhanced with a splash of Cointreau–though you can use orange juice if you prefer alcohol-free confections). 

Even if you’re not into chocolates, the filling on its own makes a fabulous, versatile frosting.  Rich and fluffy, sweetened with agave and boasting the added fiber of the sweet potato, I’m guessing that the total GI (glycemic index) of this  frosting is fairly low and could be used successfully by those on a variety of restricted diets. (See instructions in the Variation, below).

swpotfrosting

I’ll definitely be making these again for V-Day (the half-batch I concocted is already long gone). Even if you don’t celebrate the Big V, it’s worth making a batch of these.  Give yourself a little gift of Vegetable Love this year.

This is my submission to Susan’s contest.  You have until tomorrow at midnight to enter if you’re so inclined!

Spiked Sweet Potato Truffles or Truffle Cups

TO VIEW THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

truffleplate61

TO VIEW THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

trufflecups

TO VIEW THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Winners!

January 31, 2009

Well, the results are in and we have our winners of the Ritter Sport and Sweet Freedom goodie pack contest! 

sugarfreesugarcookie1

Here’s how I selected them: First, I went to Random.org and asked for 6 random numbers between 1 and 120.  Then I went through the numbers in the order they appeared in the random list.  The first entry from Toronto won the baked goods; after that, everyone else (whether from Toronto or not) won a Peppermint Ritter Sport. 

ritterpeppermint1

I’ve copied and pasted the list here.  I’m afraid I don’t know how to capture the screen exactly as it looks on the Random. org page (can anyone help me with that?), but I promise that this is the actual list that appeared when I hit the “Get Numbers” button.  And if anyone can tell me how to copy the content from the original page onto my blog (for the next contest), I’d be much obliged!

(“Yes, we can vouch four our Mum  because we were in the room while she was on the computer. . . well, okay, maybe we were actually wrestling on the floor at the time, but we trust our Mum.  She always gives us treats when she says she will.”)

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

26
19
35
108
29
28

Timestamp: 2009-01-31 14:04:51 UTC

In other words, the winners are:

TA-DA!

19:  Shelby–Ritter Sport #1

26:  VEGAN LISA–YOU WIN THE TREATS!!

28:  Michelle–Ritter Sport #2

29:  Animal-Friendly–Ritter Sport #3

35:  Ellie–Ritter Sport #4

108: Joanne (Apple Crumbles)–Ritter Sport #5

Congratulations to all the winners!  I’ll be contacting you via email.  And if you happen to read this before you hear from me, please email me at dietdessertdogs AT gmail DOT com to get in touch!

This was really a fun contest for me.  I loved reading all the entries, and your enthusiasm was contagious! Thanks, everyone, for entering. 

And as I mentioned before, there will be one contest each month until the cookbook is published, so you can always enter again later for another chance to win!

Have a great weekend (and to my American friends, enjoy the Superbowl–but honestly, does anyone really enjoy the Superbowl??).

Ricki 🙂

I’m planning a “real” post on Polenta Appetizers for later today, but for now just wanted to remind everyone that this is the LAST DAY to enter my chocolate and baked goods giveaway contest

I’ve been blown away by the number of entries and am thrilled that so many people will have a chance to win–thanks so much for entering!  But if you haven’t entered yet, now’s the time (or score a second entry by linking to the contest on your own blog).

You can check all the details here.  

I’m looking forward to baking up a storm for y’all! 🙂

elsiekong

Mum, it’s not fair that relatives can’t enter the contest.  Well, I guess there’s also the fact that we can’t eat chocolate or sugar.  But how about a dog treat contest?  I bet that cute Henry would enter. . . just a thought.”

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Book Review: Go Dairy Free

January 27, 2009

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please come visit the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs, by clicking here.

As always, thank you for reading. I look forward to hearing from you at the new site.

(“Um, Mum, you are taking us with you, aren’t you?  Because (and we hate to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans on this blog than you do.”)

[To everyone who voted for me in the Food Blog Awards, I can’t THANK YOU enough!  Although I didn’t win, it was really fun to be invited to the party (and to see my blog stats jump to their highest level ever one day as a result).  The winner, it turns out, was some little obscure blog that you’ve probably never heard of, “Mittens in the Kitchen,” or something.  I guess that’s the last we’ll be hearing from herBut speaking of winning, don’t forget to enter my contest to win chocolate or Sweet Freedom baked goods! You’ve got 3 more days.] 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

gdfcover123thin1 When I was asked a while back whether I’d like to review Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living by Alisa Marie Fleming, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes.”   I was already familiar with Alisa’s popular website,  GoDairyFree.org, and was tickled to have a few of my recipes included in her holiday desserts on her Milk-Free Blog.  Still, I had to ensure that the recipes were those I could enjoy (ie, no animal products, no wheat, no refined sugar). Alisa assured me that yes, the majority the book’s recipes fit my criteria.  That was all I needed to know! 

Go Dairy Free by Alisa Marie Fleming

Since being diagnosed with a milk allergy in her 30s (and if you read her story, you’ll be astonished at how long it took to reach that diagnosis), Alisa Marie Fleming has established herself as a pivotal force in the world of dairy-free and allergen-free living. 

As both creator and voice behind GoDairyFree.org, the website urging “A simple change for a better life,” Fleming provides online resources for those who shun dairy products, along with ample information for anyone with food allergies (many gluten-free recipes , as well as those for casein-free or animal-free diets also grace the site).  For her latest feat, Fleming has compiled a comprehensive guide and cookbook for those with milk allergies, lactose intolerance or allergies to casein (the protein in milk): Go Dairy Free.

Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with a milk allergy or simply prefer not to eat dairy products, this book is chock full of useful, practical information.  The first 130 pages or so comprise the guidebook, offering information and explanations of the various types of dairy allergy, how they affect the body, and how to compensate after you cut milk products from your life. 

In addition to a plethora of shopping and kitchen tips, the book also provides an exhaustive array of dairy replacements (both homemade or available for purchase) for every product imaginable, from butter to milk to cheese to yogurt to creamy sauces.  (Who knew you could make your own potato milk?)  Fleming’s style is relaxed and converstational, yet the information provided is always clear, well-researched and easily accessible to readers.  This is the kind of reference book I like to keep at hand, to consult before shopping or while I cook; its place has already been secured at (easy-to-locate) eye level on my bookshelf.

The book’s cover entices with its vibrant, mouth-watering photos (by the immensely talented Hannah Kaminsky of My Sweet Vegan fame).  But it wasn’t until I read past the guidebook that I truly fell in love. There, following the encyclopedic discussion of dairy-free living, was yet another ten chapters–all of recipes! And virtually every recipe was one I wanted to try, with so many of them featuring the kind of ingredients and flavor combinations that I most enjoy. I couldn’t wait to get cooking.

Well, the recipes did not disappoint. They were easy to follow and delivered as promised. Here’s what I’ve tried so far: 

Light Apricot Scones

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Given my penchant for all things breakfast or brunch, these scones were my first choice to try, and they certainly lived up to their name. With bits of tangy diced apricot throughout, the dense fruit offered a lovely contrast to the light, delicate biscuit.  These also paired well with my own Brandied Apricot Ginger Spread, as you can see here:

apricotspread6

Just look at the delicate crumb on this scone!  Both the HH and I thoroughly enjoyed these, and they were equally good the next day (they didn’t last beyond that, so I don’t know how they would have been on Day Three).

Pillowy Whole Grain Pancakes

alisapancakescut

I couldn’t resist trying out these pancakes, as Alisa kindly acknowledges my own recipe as her inspiration!  (I added some shredded coconut to these, just for fun).  The pancakes were, indeed, pillowy–airy, tender, and, as you can see from the photo, incredibly light (there are only three pancakes in that stack, folks–and just look at how high it is).

Breakfast Worthy Banana Bread

breakfastbanbread

This innovative bread was a huge hit in our home–which is why I don’t have any photos of individual slices (we gobbled them up too quickly to photograph).  You can’t tell from the picture, but this loaf is intensely flavored, incredibly moist, and wonderfully satisfying.  I ate this plain, slathered with almond butter, and topped with homemade pumpkin butter.  Both the HH and I pronounced this bread our favorite banana bread–ever.

Dairy-Free Feta-ish

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I’d been wanting to try the recipe for these polenta appetizers for over a year, but didn’t know what to use instead of feta. Then I saw Alisa’s recipe for this dairy-free version, and knew immediately I had to make it!  It worked beautifully in these bites, which I served to friends a couple of weeks ago (I’ll be sharing the appetizer recipe in a future post, even if I can’t reveal the feta secret!). 

Peanut Buttery African Stew

alisastew21

Redolent with creamy peanut butter and African-inspired spices, this stew became an immediate favorite in our house.  After a skeptical grimace when I first described the ingredients to him, the HH took one bite and declared, “Hey!  This is really good!”  (High praise, indeed, from my meat-obsessed honey).  As for me, I was equally enamored of the rich and subtly spiced sauce and big chunks of veggies.  Both the colorful appearance and deep flavor of this dish is certain to appeal.

Chinese Five-Spice Noodles

alisafivespice

Since Chinese Five Spice was already one of my favorite spice combinations, I knew I’d enjoy this dish even before cooking it.  The pairing of exotic spices with citrus here is sensational, in a dish that’s hearty enough for dinner but light enough that you’ll feel energized after eating it.  I’ll definitely be making this one again, too.

Peanut Butter “Truffles”

alisapbtruffle

While these dangerously decadent truffles aren’t my usual dessert fare (they contain sugar), I did mix up a batch in honor of the CFO  when she came to visit over the holidays last month.  With a smooth, velvety peanut butter filling enrobed in dark, rich chocolate, this candy strikes the perfect balance of salty and sweet, rivalling anything I’ve eaten from a confectionary.  They were spectacular! (I’d be sure to invite a crowd if you make these, as you’ll otherwise end up eating them all yourself).  

It was pure pleasure sampling these items from the book, every one of which I’d make again.  I’m looking forward to trying out many more of these reliable, interesting and tasty recipes.  Go Dairy Free is that rare combination in a food-related tome: great food and great advice, all under one inviting cover. 

Peanut Butter Cinnamon Popcorn (or Rice Crumbles)

TO VIEW THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

alisacaramelcorn

I simply couldn’t end this entry without a recipe!  While this one isn’t in the book (it’s from Alisa’s blog, One Frugal Foodie), it’s a fabulous recipe and will give you a good sense of Alisa’s style.  I tried this the other day and was thrilled to find such a delectable use for my broken bits of rice cakes (the ones I used were sesame flavor, and this still worked beautifully).  I think this mix would be sensational with added peanuts or cashews as well. Another PB-flavored treat that you won’t be able to resist!

alisacaramelcorn21

Peanut Butter Cinnamon Popcorn (or Rice Crumbles)

from One Frugal Foodie

TO VIEW THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

* (Originally Number One, but I was waylaid by Tuesday’s astounding news!)

Before I get to the “Big Announcement” originally scheduled for yesterday, I just want to say THANK YOU once again to every reader of this blog, to those of you who voted for me in the Food Blog Awards (and if you haven’t yet–please do!), and especially for your amazing, uplifting, supportive and heartfelt comments.  I’m still in a bit of shock, frankly, even being on the same list as those others, but one thing is certain:  DDD wins hands down for best readers of the five finalists.  So hugs to you all, and thank you.  (And if you’re here from the voting page, you might like to read this first to see some sample blog entries. )

Now, back to blogging.

Really, you guys are so great that I think YOU deserve an award.  And so, time for ME to offer a couple of prizes to YOU! 

YES, IT’S CONTEST TIME AT DDD!

In honor of Tuesday’s historically transformative event (Obama’s, not mine), I’ve decided to present my own little contribution to US-Canada relations. 

Some of you may have heard (though I doubt it) that CBC Radio compiled a list of the 49 top songs north of the 49th parallel (ie, by Canadian artists)  to bestow upon President Obama as a gift for his inauguration.  (Honestly, do they think he cares? I have a feeling the guy’s got other things on his mind at the moment).  I must admit, though, I was surprised to see how many iconic American songs were actually written by Canadians.

Well, in honour of the new Mr. and Mrs. President,  I’ve decided to offer my own little cross-border gift.  It’s my way of saying, “hey, neighbor!” to those of you south of the world’s longest undefended border (and those of you within the Canadian border, too, if you happen to win the contest).  Actually, I’m giving away six prizes!

***** THAT’S RIGHT: SIX (6) PRIZES TO BE WON!****** 

(There!  Are we all in a contest-induced frenzy yet? No?  Okay, you can go vote instead!)  And then, consider this:

***  THERE ARE SIX

–1-2-3-4-5-6!

SIX ! ! ! ! ! !

Un deux trois quatre cinq six

6 6 6 6 6 6

–PRIZES TO BE WON!   ***

 

Here’s what you can win:

I) FOR THOSE OF YOU IN CANADA AND THE CONTINENTAL U.S. :

(And I am really, REALLY sorry that I can’t send beyond that undefended border; but the Canadian postal system is pretty wacky and not all that efficient, and it would take far too long to get to you–not to mention it would cost me three months’ salary).

ritterpeppermint

You may have read on Mihl’s blog a while back that the Ritter Sport people (who make a few very fine vegan chocolates) have, in their infinite wisdom, altered their peppermint formula so that it’s no longer vegan. 

Well, darned if there isn’t at least one advantage to living up here in the snowy north: since our stock doesn’t sell as fast as it does in the States (what with only 1/10 the population), those minty bars are all over the place on our grocery store shelves!  I double-checked the ingredients to be sure these were the “old” forumla, and then grabbed a whole stack of bars. 

And I can’t wait to send them along to FIVE (5) lucky readers! To win one, just follow the contest rules, at the end of this post.

I got this idea from Amey, who held the first contest a while back–and of which I was one of the lucky recipients.  So I can vouch that these bars are fabulous–dark, with a rich chocolate coating and smooth, creamy, sweet, pepperminty filling.  Mmmm.  Thanks again, Amey!  Hope you win one this time. 🙂

II) FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE TORONTO AREA:

(Again, how I wish I could extend the boundaries of this one, but you’ll see why I can’t in a moment).

[Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies]

As many of you know, I’ve just completed the manuscript for my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom.  (According to my publisher, it should be available mid-April; I’m hoping that’s a firm date!). 

[Butterscotch Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cherries]

The recipes are all free of wheat, eggs, dairy and refined sweeteners–in other words, all are vegan, kosher-friendly, lactose free and casein free;  and many are gluten free. 

And here’s your chance to experience the delectable taste of goodies made with these whole,  healthy ingredients first hand!  

[Lemon-Blueberry Scones;  or variation of Orange Pistachio] 

To help you become familiar with the types of desserts in the book, I’m giving away a prize pack of homebaked (by yours truly) goodies from recipes in the book.  

[Raw Fig and Cherry Bars]

I’ll bake up any five types of cookie, bar, muffin or biscuit from those pictured on this page (and those listed at the bottom).  As the winner, you get to choose which five you’d like! Then, I’ll deliver them to you, within the general Toronto area (Lake Ontario to the south; Highway 427 to the west; Highway 9 to the north; Highway 48 to the east). 

crispychews

[Fruity Cereal Chews]

If you live within those boundaries–or if you’re willing to meet me at an agreed-upon location within them–you’re eligible to win the prize pack! 

[GF Coconut Macaroons on the left; GF Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies on the right]

Because these are freshly baked and hand-delivered, I’m afraid I can’t send them through the mail.  (I did try, once, to send my goodies to the States and they were stale, broken and really unappetizing by the time they arrived, so I’ve ruled that out this time).

[Seed Jumble Cookies]

I actually have no idea how many of you live in the Toronto area (I’m woefully deficient in techy skills so don’t know those stats).  But think of it this way: if there are only three of you, your chances of winning just increased exponentially!  

brownie

 [Ultra Fudgy Brownies]

 OKAY, SO HERE ARE THE CONTEST RULES: 

tripleconplate

[Triple- C Cookies (Cashew, Carob, Cardamom)]

To win either of the prizes, all you need to do is leave a comment at the bottom of this post, any time between now and January 30th. (Oh, and vote for me on the Food Blog Awards, or your entry is disqualified).

Kidding.

But you did look rather pale there for a second. 

chochips

[Chocolate Chip Cookies]

To be eligible for the Sweet Freedom package, please indicate your five choices in your comment so I know you’re entering for that prize (and you’re still eligible for the chocolate bars, too!)

You can also receive an additional entry, just by mentioning the contest on your own blog (with a link back to this post).  Be sure to let me know you’ve mentioned it, though, either through a trackback or through your comment here.

cinnamoncoffeetoffee2

[Cinnamon Coffee Toffee Bars]

Remember, the contest will be open until midnight on January 30th.  Once a winner is selected, I’ll get in touch and we can determine the delivery date together (some time mid-February. . . a Valentine’s Day treat, perhaps?)

carrotoatmealcookie.jpg

[Carrot Raisin Oatmeal Cookies]

And the recipes for every one of the treats pictured here will be in the book.

 gingercoconutstack2

[Ginger-Coconut Cookies]

Here are a few other choices for the prize package: 

Maple-Walnut Cookies

GF Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pear and Ginger Mini Loaves or Muffins

Pumpkinseed Shortbread Cookies

Hazelnut Mocha Cookies

I’d love to bake for you!  So go ahead and leave those comments, and let me know which goodies you’d like in your gift pack! (And don’t forget, if you have a blog, you can enter again by mentioning the contest and linking to this page on your own blog).

And if you’re not in the Toronto area, don’t worry–I’ll be holding one Sweet Freedom-related contest every month, right up until the book comes out.

Oh, and I promise to post an actual recipe next time.

Last Year at this Time: Mini Sweet Potato and Chocolate Chip Muffins

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD BY CLICKING HERE.

[There’s just nothing like a homemade gift for the holidays.  This year, with the purse strings a little tighter than usual, I’m determined to make at least a few in my kitchen–and thought I’d share my ideas in case you’d like to partake, too.  ]

marzipanshortbreadplate

Isn’t synchronicity the darndest thing?  You know, that phenomenon when things just seem to occur around the same time. . . because. . . well, just because.  Like when you learn a new word, and suddenly “schadenfreude seems to pop up in all the newspapers you read.  Or “pecuniary” makes its appearance in every magazine article you see about the faltering economy.  Save money with a “stay-cation”? It was mentioned at least once on every financial-advice show that aired in the past week. (And how about antediluvian, lachrymose, arachibutyrophobia?  Okay, maybe not so much.)

I love synchronicity; I figure it’s the closest I’ll ever get to having intuition.  Years ago, during a carefree Christmas shopping spree (entirely unlike this year, what with all the pecuniary limitations to my budget), I was meandering along a downtown Toronto street engrossed in a lachrymose daydream, probably about being bullied in gradeschool.  For some unknown reason, I remembered a former classmate, and wondered what had become of her.  In the midst of my reverie, there came from behind me a sudden, staccato warbling, like the sound an antique radio makes when being tuned: “Ricki?! Eeeeoooooouuuuwwww! RICKI HELLER, is that you–??” 

Yep, you guessed it: that very classmate, whom I hadn’t seen in over 30 years.  We hugged,  we excitedly exchanged updates on our lives, we traded phone numbers and swore to keep in touch–then never heard from each other again. But that sure was some synchronicity in action!

If you’ve ever thought about someone you haven’t seen in a while, only to receive a phone call from them that day; if you’ve ever had a dream about finding a $20 bill and later picked up a stray piece of paper in a parking lot that happened to be a $20 bill; if you’ve ever loved a novel by a particular author and then happened to be seated next to that author on your next flight across the country; if you’ve ever been reminded of an old love while surfing the internet only to discover the profile of said love on your Classmates page–well, if you’ve ever experienced a seemingly unrelated coexistence of two meaningfully related things in any context at all, then you, too, have experienced synchronicity.  And last weekend, there it was again!

In my previous Gastronomic Gift post last week, I mentioned a pioneer of the now-booming Toronto culinary scene, Bonnie Stern. That long-ago (seems positively antediluvian, in fact) cooking class was my only encounter with Ms. Stern in person; and her recipe for Brandied Apricot-Ginger Spread was, it turns out, the only recipe of hers I’ve ever reproduced at home. 

Until now.

Why, just this past weekend, there she was again, peering out at me from the crinkled pages of our weekend National Post!  Not only that; in the photo, she proffered some startlingly attractive shortbread cookies: rich, buttery freeform mounds topped with shards of  Toblerone chocolate bars.  I decided on the spot that I had to re-create those bars, but what to use instead of the Toblerone?  I wanted something similar–a mix of chocolate and a sweet filling–but nothing quite as sticky (and nothing producing any arachibutyrophobia, of course).  Aha!  Marzipan-filled Ritter Sport!

In response to  Amanda’s comment in the last post, I used my own Life in Balance Buttery Spread in place of the butter in these cookies.  The result was a slightly-sandy-on-the-outside, slightly-chewy-on-the-inside, not-too-sweet and very decadent-tasting cookie.  And while they don’t melt in your mouth like tradtional shortbread, the combination of  rich dough and chunks of chocolate-covered marzipan is truly enchanting.  The HH said he thought they weren’t “really” like shortbread as they didn’t taste “buttery” enough, but that didn’t stop him from scarfing down three of these babies in quick succession.

And while this recipe is a bit more decadent than my usual baked good, hey, it’s the holidays!  Gotta live a little.  Which, of course, will lead to the inevitable overindulging and weight gain. . . so as you bake up your own batch of these, you can think of me, smile, and enjoy a satisfying little taste of schadenfreude.

Mum, you know your readers would never do that!  Besides, I think I’ve had enough schadenfreude to last a lifetime, what with Chaser smirking at my cone over the past three weeks.”

Oh, and since these are intended as a holiday gift, after all, I thought they’d be a perfect submission to the Eat Christmas Cookies event hosted by Food Blogga this month. There’s already a huge array of cookies posted on the site for you to check out!

And since Holler and Lisa are asking for festive photos this month for their No Croutons Required event, I’m going to submit this Santa-bordered photo as my contribution as well. 

 Marzipan-Topped Shortbread Cookies

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW BLOG, BY CLICKING HERE.

marzipanshortbread

You needn’t stick with marzipan chocolates for these cookies; in fact, they’d be great with many other kinds of chocolate bar–the Ritter Sport Peppermint comes to mind.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW BLOG, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!  TO VISIT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

[There’s just nothing like a homemade gift for the holidays.  This year, with the purse strings a little tighter than usual, I’m determined to make at least a few in my kitchen–and thought I’d share my ideas in case you’d like to partake, too.  ]

fudgeorangeapricot

Back in the day (haven’t you always wondered about that expression?  I mean, which day?), I used to bake entirely conventional, non-vegan, sweets and treats. As a graduate student with a job as a Teaching Assistant as well as a scholarship, I was lucky enough to have both a flexible schedule and sufficient finances to indulge my love of culinary invention.  My favorites at the time were cheesecakes, light and fluffy (and, in particular, a chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake–yep, studded with globs of raw chocolate-chip cookie dough), whipped cream-topped layer cakes or pavlovas, and thick, dense, decadent brownies of all spots and stripes (top contender there was an intensely dark chocolate brownie with hidden pockets of Caramilk chocolate bar strewn throughout–cut the brownie and be treated to surprising little bursts of oozy, gooey caramel, enveloped in creamy milk chocolate. . . there must be a way to do this in a [semi?] NAG-friendly version!).

In any case, what I really loved was baking for the holidays.  Between studying for finals, I’d take breaks by whipping up assorted cookies and bars, and filling dainty, decorative tins with dozens of them as Christmas gifts for my friends and colleagues. It was a fun challenge to find 12-15 recipes for cookies in differing flavors, textures, shapes or colors, so that the varying hues and contours complemented each other visually when placed together like pieces of a mosaic in the tins.   Most years, I went so far as to draw a legend on a circle of paper (placed atop the cookies before closing the tin), like the kind you get in boxes of mixed chocolates, illustrating each different flavor and shape so people would know in advance what they chose (can you say, “anal”?).

Even though my schedule isn’t nearly as flexible any more (not to mention my hip joints), I decided that this year, I really wanted to resurrect that tradition for the holidays.  And while cookies are still on the list, I’m going to focus more on slightly less perishable items, so that I (and you) can send these goodies to loved ones far away, or as parting gifts with visitors who pop in over the next few weeks. 

One thing I’ve never made as a gift, though, is fudge.  When the HH and I were first together, we once took a weekend junket to Niagara-on-the-Lake (not far from the Canadian side of Niagra Falls) to trundle around and see a play at the Shaw Festival.  Well, I said I was going for the play, anyway.  What I really looked forward to was a visit to a little candy shop that’s become semi-famous for its fudge.  Have you ever tried fresh, satiny homemade fudge, like, 30 seconds after it’s set? 

Oh.

MY.

They say chocolate is better than sex, but really, chocolate fudge is even better than chocolate.

Still, I’m aware that no self-respecting holistic nutritionist or health-conscious foodie would foist fudge on friends (and no self-respecting writer would pen such an obviously hokey alliteration!)  Craving all that is chocolate, smooth, and fondant-like, I sought out a healthier version–but one that would still embody the same indulgent, creamy, and, most importantly, chocolate–qualities of “real” fudge.

Well, I’ve found it!  Today’s recipes are both based on a Carob Fudge I saw ages ago on Deb’s blog.  I’ve been waiting to try it since then, and this seemed the perfect occasion.  Of course, since I can’t even imagine a non-chocolate variety, I played with the recipes somewhat and created not one, but two cacao-flavored versions.  The first is orange-scented, studded with tangy bits of chopped dried apricot, while the other is draped over clusters of mixed nuts and dropped into little truffle cups to serve as individual candies.  I have no doubt that whomever you choose to bestow these upon, they will devour them most gratefully.  Perhaps best of all, this is incredibly quick to make!

Mum, we love the idea of food-based gifts for the holidays!  But why did you take out the carob–now we can’t have any. . .

I’d also love to hear what you’re whipping up this year as gifts.  Do you have any old favorites, or perhaps some newfound treasures?  Leave a comment (or a link to a recipe) so we can all increase our gift-giving repertoire!

I also thought this would be the perfect submission to the Monthly Mingle:  Low-Sugar Sweet Treats, this month hosted by Dee at The Daily Tiffin and originated by Meeta at What’s for Lunch, Honey?.  This month, they’re requesting desserts low sugar. 

Chocolate-Orange Fudge with Apricots

adapted from Altered Plates

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

fudgeorangeapricotclose

Smooth, rich and as dense as cream-based fudge, these squares are a perfect post-prandial sweet to help settle a meal (or, in my case, the final course of the meal itself).

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Fudge Nut Clusters (variation)

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

fudgenutcups

These little confections are perfect to serve at tea or on a dessert tray for a buffet celebration.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT US AT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD, BY CLICKING HERE.

omeletpestofront1

Now, I realize I promised a light and not-too-filling recipe today, but before we get to that, I must share something very rich and decadent and–because I ate most of it in one sitting–rather filling: the Peppermint Ritter Sport bar I won (a while ago, now) in Amey’s contest!

rittersport

I received the bar in the mail a couple of weeks ago, and was thrilled to rip open the envelope and find that it reached me in perfect condition–all the way from California! While a couple of the squares had broken apart, the smooth, white, minty filling remained enclosed in the chocolate and every piece was perfectly edible.  And believe me, eat it I did (well, I shared–just a wee bit–with the HH). 

ritterpackage

I also loved that the entire wrapper was in German!  Here in Toronto, anyway, the Ritter Sports we get have multiple languages on the wrappers, including French and English.  It made Amey’s seem much more authentic.  Thanks so much, Amey!  It’s always so exciting to get something fun in the mail, and that bar is a definite new favorite.  (Wow, I think I’m a little overwhelmed with all the goodies I’ve received in the mail from other bloggers these past few months!  Have I mentioned lately that you guys are THE BEST??!)

And after dessert. . . . breakfast!

A couple of weeks ago, I went out for brunch with my friend PR Queen to celebrate both our birthdays, which are a month apart. (Yes, this really was the birthday that refused to surrender!)

In any case, we went to an upscale vegan resto called Fressen, where the food is stellar (and the prices are equally astronomical). I relished my fresh beet, apple and carrot juice; salad of baby greens and balsamic-dijon dressing; and stuffed tofu omelet.  But I just couldn’t see myself going there on a regular basis, mostly because (a) it’s right in the heart of the Queen West area of Toronto, just a minim too trendy, too grungy and too crowded for my taste; (b) Queen West is right in the heart of the general downtown in Toronto, a 35-minute drive away at the best of times, but more like an hour-plus when there’s traffic; (c) the prices there are, as I mentioned, bordering on the stratosphere; and (d) if I kept eating brunch there on a regular basis, I’d be denying myself the challenge of re-creating the same brunch at home.  Which, because I’m just wacky that way, I endeavored to do the very next weekend.

First, I suppose I should pause here to admit that, for most of my life, I have been severely Ovule-Challenged.  Whether soft boiled, sunny-side up, over easy, or any other way, I never did master egg cooking skills.  And omelets add yet another layer of difficulty: the perfect (egg) omelet is meant to be uniformly puffy and light, all in one piece, possessing a slightly gooey interior that I’ve always found rather gag-inducing. Even when the HH and I were first together and I attempted omelets on a regular basis, my egg oeuvres (or would that be oeufres?) would invariably crack and split and wilt like leaves on my sorely neglected ficus plant every time I tried to flip them, resulting in breakage and a pan housing three or four large, ragged-edge slabs of egg, sprawled at odd angles. I’d end up stirring the mixture furiously, ultimately transforming it into a semi-scramble and calling it frittata.  It wasn’t long before the HH took over omelet duty.  He’s never had a problem whipping one up (literally); and, to this day, he cooks an omelet for himself almost every Sunday. 

I assumed I’d have more success re-creating that tofu-based Fressen beauty (even though my first attempt at a tofu omelet also lacked that airy, pillowy texture, despite its wonderful flavor). What I loved about the Fressen version was how it seemed both moist and fluffy at the same time; while clearly cooked and browned on the outside, the inside remained soft, creamy, and light as custard. Stuffed with a succulent, rich filling of pesto, caramelized leek and mushrooms, it was a vision to behold: golden and crisp on the outside; vibrant green, tan and walnut-brown on the inside.  And the flavor!  The perfect edible mixture of woodsy, grassy, and airy. I wanted more!  

Given its ultra-light texture, I surmised that the omelet included silken tofu along with the firm. I’d already mastered pesto during the summer when my experimental home-grown basil flourished so remarkably; and while we didn’t have leeks in the fridge, we did have an abundance of onions, which served as a servicable replacement.

I created the omelet base by adapting the generic recipe in Joni Marie Newman’s  Cozy Inside, with several adjustments and additions.  I used home-made pesto, but you could just as well use store-bought.  The rest of it comes together in a flash. 

While the result wasn’t quite as fluffy as I’d hoped it would be, this did render a reasonable facsimile of the original.  Great for a brunch at home after a holiday feast, and an especially tasty way to economize and avoid those sky-high restaurant bills 🙂 .

Given the cilantro-based pesto filling, I thought this would be a good submission to Weekend Herb Blogging, the event run by Haalo over at Cook (Almost) Anything Once, and this week hosted by Scott over at Real Epicurean.

Tofu Omelet with Pesto, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

omeletpesto11

You can use any tofu-based omelet recipe you choose for this recipe.  While this one tastes great and the flavors are beautifully complemented by the filling, it is very fragile and breaks easily.  A more sturdy recipe is this one; or use a version of your own.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

 

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