Black Bean Brownies… continued

I’m back!

After a brief (7 month…oops!) hiatus, I have refocused my time back to the blog. Life got busy and creategreatthings suffered. I am here to present you with a video I made that was accepted for publication in an online student health magazine, Student Health 101 @ the University of Guelph. Pretty exciting!

Check it out:

I’m on page 13.

I’ll be back again soon; cauliflower pizza crust is in the oven as I type.


Black Bean Brownie

These are the most surprisingly delicious brownie I have ever eaten. It takes a little convincing, but I was excited to try these Black Bean Brownies. In a world where food intolerances are so prevalent, a gluten-free solution to the everyday brownie is awesome.

My favourite recipes involve very few steps. They are easy for anyone to follow, and done in just a few minutes. For this recipe, all you have to do is add your ingredients to a food processor (I used a MagicBullet attachment) and blend until the batter is almost smooth. You will see some of the bean skins, but that’s okay – you don’t notice any change in the texture once they have baked.

Another exciting thing about these brownies is that they are super moist. They stay that way for a few days, or so I have been told. In my house they only lasted 24 hours. Yum!

What you need:

1 19oz can reduced sodium black beans (well rinsed and drained or dried beans that have been soaked and cooked)
2 eggs
1 egg white
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup demarera sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spray a 12-muffin, muffin tin with Pam or another oil spray.
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips.
Blend until it is a smooth consistency.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips on the top of the brownie batter.

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Allow them to cool completely in the pan before removing.

Makes 12 individual brownies.


** deliciously adapted from: Chocolate and Carrots at

Wedding of 12

Recently a friend of mine came to me with a request. Friends of her family were moving and it was becoming quite complicated. The man and woman had been together for nearly 15 years, but never married. When applying for Visas they came to realize that the woman would not be allowed to live in the country without a husband. With the Visa deadline quickly approaching, it was off to City Hall for them. Everything had to be done in a week, so it would be a wedding with no frills. But who wants a wedding without a celebration?

This is where I come in.

We figured they needed something a little more. They booked their favourite restaurant in town and plans we all fitting into place. Because the reception/ dinner was being held in a restaurant, they couldn’t cater out for a cake; per the restaurants group dining rules. We decided that cupcake favors would be the perfect surprise at the end of the night.

For the cupcakes, I used the champagne cupcake recipe I have used in the past. This time I used to a regular champagne instead of Rose and it turned out just as well.

For the cupcakes

2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 and 1/2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup champagne

6 egg whites


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.

In another large clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

For the buttercream frosting

3 and 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons champagne, at room temperature

**add a hint of Wilton colouring to make the icing pop


With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter.

Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.

Add vanilla and champagne, beating on medium for another minute.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. (I used a Wilton 31 tip to pipe the green icing under the flowers)

The flower petals are pretty time-consuming, but very inexpensive. The number of marshmallows you need will vary on how many cupcakes you make and how big your flowers are going to be.

Start by cutting about 2 cups of mini marshmallows in half diagonally
Chose the colours you want your flowers to be and dip the marshmallows in the sprinkles to coat the cut side of the marshmallows.
Start in the centre and place the cut and sprinkle covered marshmallows in circles until they are the size you want them.

I piped a yellow centre in each flower, but that isn’t necessary.
If you do this, leave aside some of your icing from the initial batch and add a small amount of yellow colouring. I used a Wilton 7 tip to pipe the centres of the flowers.

Each cupcake was placed in a take outbox and placed in front of each guest before the meal began

Whole Wheat Challah

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

This month I have begun my journey with Daring Bakers. Challah bread is something I have always wanted to try because it looks so beautiful. I have always felt a little trepidation when approaching it, not knowing how well it will turn out. For some extra help when you are using the recipe, look up youtube videos for tips on how to actually braid the bread. Perhaps if/when I make this again, I will make a video to explain it.

The process of making bread really isn’t hard at all. The yeast is the most crucial part – see the picture of the foamy yeast below. As usual, the bread making process itself is lengthy – only because you have to let the dough rise 3 times. I used the whole wheat recipe provided by this month’s challenge host and it worked out perfectly! I hope you have the same luck as I did. When it turns out, you will be so pleased with yourself.

Ruth’s “Go­To” Whole Wheat Challah
(adapted from D’s Whole Wheat Challah)
Servings: 12


2 (.25 oz.) packages (4½ teaspoons) (22½ ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (100°F/38°C)
½ cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup (one stick) (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) margarine or unsalted butter – room temperature
2 tsp. (10 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) salt
3 large eggs
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) whole wheat flour
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all­purpose flour
½ cup (120 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) rolled oats (Old Fashioned work just fine!)
Additional flour for kneading (½ to 1 cup) (120 to 240 ml) (70 to 140 gm) (2½ to 5 oz)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze


1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5
minutes until creamy/foamy.

2. With paddle attachment beat 3 eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), whole wheat flour, all
purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. Or, if mixing by hand (ok, spoon), combine
eggs and margarine/butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours and oats and mix
until it becomes difficult to mix.
3. Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and
elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10­12 minutes.
4. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel.
Let rise in warm area (I put it in the oven with the light on) until doubled, approx. 2 hours.
5. Once dough has doubled, punch down. Recover with towel, allow to rise again for an hour,
but even 30 minutes will be fine if you’re in a hurry.
6. Punch the dough down again, divide in two.

7. Shape each half as desired (3, 4 or 6 strand braid, rolls, etc.). Place shaped loaves onto
parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
9. Brush loaves with egg wash. (I added oats to the top, but only for aesthetic reasons)
10. Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
11. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.

I just tried the first two pieces with almond butter – delicious!

Rhubarb + Berry Crisp

Rhubarb is a true sign of spring. Last weekend I was at a friend’s house and we took a trip to the backyard garden where she cut fresh rhubarb. I was thinking of all of the options I could use the rhubarb for, but this crisp seemed like the best one.

I have fond memories of cutting rhubarb from the garden and dipping the ends in a little dish of sugar. It cut the tart rhubarb flavour and was simply magical. Being a favourite of mine, I use it a lot when it’s in season. Stewed rhubarb is great, and so is apple sauce with rhubarb added to it. I’ve seen it made into a compote for the top of creme brulee; there are so many dishes to add it to!

Just remember: don’t eat the leaves!

This crisp recipe was something I made up as I found ingredients in my fridge and pantry. It’s for a potluck breakfast tomorrow, so heres hoping it tastes great!

What you need:

5 cups mixed berries (frozen or fresh)
5 cups rhubarb
1/2 lemon, squeezed for juice
1 tbsp vanilla
3 tsp. brown sugar

1 cup flour
1 cup quick or cooking oats
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 tbsp cinnamon

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 375.

Grease 13″x9″x2″ baking pan.

Wash and chop rhubarb, combine with berries. Spread evenly in baking pan.
Sprinkle brown sugar over top of the fruit mixture. Pour lemon juice and vanilla evenly over fruit mixture.

In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Use a fork, food processor, or your hands, to combine until you reach a desired consistency.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.


Ryan Family Lemon Squares

Quick, simple and delicious. These really are the best qualities of a square – and for that matter, any dessert.

Lemon squares are comprised of two components. The first and bottom layer is shortbread. In my opinion it is equally if not more important than the lemon layer it supports. It should crumble a little, but remain sturdy enough to keep the square together once it is cut. “Buttery” and “smooth” are the first words that come to mind when I think of what I expect of the shortbread layer. Onto the second layer, the lemon layer. Some people think using lemon juice from a container is sufficient, but I have to disagree. Nothing tastes as good as freshly squeezed lemon in a lemon square – or frankly anything with lemon. I also always use lemon rind. When you think about it, it is what gives it the most flavour. Beverages like Lemoncello are fermented with lemon rind, not the juice of the lemon. It only makes sense to add the best ingredients to something so simple as a lemon square.

In my journey of finding the perfect lemon square recipe, I think this is my number 1. I’ve tried a few, friends and family have recommended them to me, but this one always reigns supreme. To its credit, it brings rave reviews. It is nothing I have done out of the ordinary. I have simply followed the recipe from generations before me – adding the lemon rind however, is my own adaptation.

1st layer
1 cup butter softened
2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar

crumble with your hands (or pastry cutter, if you must) until pea size bit form.
spread in 9×13 pan. bake at 325 for 15 min.

2nd layer
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 tbsp. flour
1 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp lemon juice

combine all ingredients, pour and spread on 1st layer.
bake at 350 for 25 min.

Cool and sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.

(do this, it makes them absolutely beautiful when cut!)

Double Chocolate {Birthday} Cake

This was a quick, last minute save – how could I not make a Birthday Cake? It almost slipped my mind, but thanks to my trusty iCal reminder, I got on making a cake ASAP. One Problem: No eggs in the fridge!

The solution: an egg-less chocolate cake.

This recipe is super simple and took me 40 minutes from measuring the flour, to taking it out the oven.

What you need:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar or 1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°.
Mix flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt with fork in ungreased square pan, 8x8x2 inches.

Mix in remaining ingredients except chocolate chips. Sprinkle chocolate chips over batter.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

** I used large letter magnets to create a stencil to make the cake extra-birthday like

Recipe from: