Sweet and Salty Homemade Granola Bars

Claudia's Cookbook - Sweet and Salty Homemade Granola Bars cover

In my last post, I talked about how obsessed I was with the healthy road trip snacks I made from Gimme Some Oven’s blog. Well, my obsession continues with these beauties. I love these granola bars with all my heart and soul. Seriously. They are the easiest thing to make and they taste incredibly delicious. The pairing of sweet dark chocolate and dried cranberries with the saltiness of the pretzels and peanuts makes this snack very addictive. Good thing they are healthy and not filled with preservatives like most grocery store brands.

I have gone through two pans of these granola bars. They are perfect for when you are on the run or a mid-morning snack at work. Actually, I could eat them any time of day – who am I kidding? Not to mention, they are no bake! You need to give them a try. You can also use any dried fruit or ingredients you’d like. These granola bars should be wrapped individually and stored in the fridge. I find they hold their shape the best that way.

Continue reading →

Healthy No Bake Energy Bites

Claudia's Cookbook - No Bake Energy Bites cover

Time flies when you are having fun….or planning a wedding. I have been very M.I.A on the blog lately. I am two weeks away from my wedding and feel pretty good about it. I have fielded the same question for the last few months: “Oh, you must be so stressed?” Not really. Not at all actually. One great thing I have discovered about being Type A is that my incessant organizational skills are coming in handy. I also have the most wonderful bridesmaids and family that have made everything so easy and carefree.

I am actually so organized, that I was able to do not one, but two road trips in two weeks. The first was two weeks ago to Minneapolis. While it was a great 3 days away in one of my absolute favourite cities, the diet suffered. Oh, did it suffer. Road trips often mean salty snacks in the car, followed by pub beers and “I’m on vacation!” desserts. My digestive system took a beating. I felt terrible when I returned home. I also dreaded the second road trip to Madison, Wisconsin I was about to embark on. Therefore, I decided to take things into my own hands and find healthy road trip snacks that won’t make my friend and I feel terrible in the car and throughout our awesome trip. Boy, did I ever hit the jackpot on these No Bake Energy Bites by Gimme Some Oven! They are so incredibly delicious and easy to make. Not to mention, super healthy! My friend Nicole raved about them, as did my cousin-in-law who saw me post this recipe on Facebook and decided to make them for herself.

These energy bites can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for approximately 5 days. You can also freeze them or keep them in a container in the fridge. You can also mix up the ingredients to incorporate your favourites. I use natural peanut butter, but you can easily use almond butter. Instead of chocolate chips, you can easily use dried cranberries or any dried fruit your heart desires. Very versatile and perfect for your next summer road trip!

Continue reading →

Strawberries & Cream White Chocolate Scones

Claudia's Cookbook - Strawberries & Cream White Chocolate Scones 17

A word of advice, my friends: don’t ever schedule two workout sessions in one day after a weekend of consuming beer and rich food for your birthday. It won’t end well. At least that is what I have discovered today when I made my triumphant return to the gym this morning with a 1 hour weight class. I was so dehydrated, I got dizzy and thought “And I have to do this all over again at 6:30pm? No way!”. Even my lovely trainer who was teaching the class commented that I looked “off”. It was then and there that I regretted all my terrible (yet oh so delicious) food choices of the past weekend. Burgers, ice cream, chocolate and beer. I swore them off then and there. It wasn’t worth feeling so horrible while working out. But, after 2 hours of recovery and a nice relaxing bath, I am back to my old self and craving these decadent scones.

Besides our Pumpkin Scones, these are by far the best scones I have ever made. They are so soft and buttery. The strawberry glaze gives it a fruity sweetness. Not to mention the melted white chocolate and strawberries inside the scone – so amazing. The dough comes together really easy in a food processor and is very easy to roll out with your hands.  A no-kneed dough is my kind of dough, people.

This recipe makes 6 very large scones, but you can also make smaller, mini scones as well. Just depends on how big of a cutter you have, or how big you want to cut the dough triangles. I highly recommend you give these a try soon! I know I will. Totally worth struggling in the gym for.

Continue reading →

Raspberry Brownies

Claudia's Cookbook - Raspberry Brownies cover

I’ve been meaning to blog these decadent brownies for a couple years now. Basically, ever since a bunch of us went out to my friends cabin and we devoured an entire pan in 2 hours. Yeah, they’re that good.  They’re also incredibly simple and quick to make, which is perfect for my life these days.

One of the reasons I love the ladies on my ice hockey team is that they allow me to experiment on them with recipes. I brought a pan of these brownies to our game today and I was reassured they were blog worthy. They are rich, fudgy chocolate brownies with a tart layer of raspberry jam. Not to mention the sweet glaze on top. This recipe makes a lot of brownies (approximately 32 small squares). Because they are so rich, you can easily cut them into smaller pieces.

You can also use your homemade raspberry jam, or your favourite store bought brand. You really cannot go wrong. I highly recommend you make these for your next BBQ or picnic. They are delicious!

Continue reading →

Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese with Cajun Chicken

Claudia's Cookbook - Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese with Cajun Chicken 15

Every time I hear the word “carbo load”, I always think of Michael Scott from The Office. You know, that time where he thought carbo loading meant that you eat a huge bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo immediately before running in the office 5K ‘Race for the Cure for Rabies. Yeah, things didn’t turn out so well for dear Michael. Made me laugh though. So much, I bought the run shirt!

I’m trying to find this balance between working out and eating healthy (yet not starve). It’s tough. When you increase your workouts, you also increase your appetite. With increased appetite, I also find I have increased cravings for all things delicious and terrible for me. Case in point, I decided to do a 2 hour workout this week, and the first thing I wanted to do after I completed it was sit down and have a beer. I’m quite the athlete. Don’t even get me started on my chocolate cravings after dinner. They are off the chart.

Pasta is one of those foods that tends to get a pretty bad rap. For the most part, it’s pretty terrible for you. That is unless you are a little creative and come up with healthy ingredient alternatives that are not only nutritious and full of protein and energy, but also taste great too. That is why I absolutely LOVE this recipe. The only thing terrible for you in it is the cheese – and even then you can use light cheese, or argue (like me most days) that it’s dairy, and dairy is a food group and if it’s a food group, I should eat it. The Greek yogurt is full of protein and creates a nice creamy texture. The key that I want to also mention is that you need to use 2% or full fat Greek Yogurt. I know, I know – fat free is healthier. Sure, maybe. But you still get all the protein with the full fat yogurt and a way better taste. Fat free Greek yogurt tastes very tangy and sour. The full fat version does not. Trust me on this. I also use a higher fibre macaroni (Catelli Smart Pasta) as well. It actually has all the same nutritional content as whole wheat pasta, but has a white pasta texture and taste. It’s pretty fantastic (and no, they are not paying me for this product placement shout-out – but I seriously think they should!)

To add a bit more protein, I threw in some flavorful Cajun Chicken. I find added protein is important for me on hockey game days. You even have some veggies (spinach) in this dish. This is truly an absolutely delicious and guilt-free Mac & Cheese recipe. You really cannot go wrong. Well, unless you are Michael Scott and eat this dish 10 minutes before running your first 5K.

Continue reading →

Buttered Popcorn Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Claudia's Cookbook - Buttered Popcorn Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies 14

So, remember in my last post where I was complaining about the cold weather? Yeah, that’s not the case anymore. It has been so incredibly warm and beautiful here the past two weeks I almost forgot I live in Winnipeg. Granted, our summers are traditionally nice and hot. I actually went for lunch on a patio with a friend on Friday and got sunburnt. Gone are the days where I used Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil with SPF 6. Seriously, that’s what I used 20 years ago when I went to the beach! Today, I put on SPF 60 to cut the grass. Either our ozone layer is non-existent now or I’m learning another harsh reality of growing older. As if the grey hair wasn’t enough, right?

We are celebrating 4 birthday’s on our hockey team this week. Since I am incapable of celebrating without baking, I decided to make something unique for the birthday girls. These cookies combine my favourite movie theatre snack items. I recently discovered that the kids pack is the best invention ever. I don’t know about your theatres, but our theatres have a kids pack that comes with the perfect amount of popcorn, one chocolate bar of your choice and a normal-sized drink. Not to mention, it’s cheap! Well, cheap for movie theatre standards I suppose. You simply cannot go wrong.

You also cannot go wrong with these cookies. The salty buttered popcorn pairs wonderfully with the dark chocolate chips and creamy cookie dough. They are also extremely chewy and soft. I used buttered microwave popcorn because it’s super convenient. But you can also pop and butter your own popcorn too if you don’t like microwave popcorn. This was actually the first time I bought microwave popcorn in years as we typically pop our own on the stove. A huge shout-out to both Joy the Baker and Deb from Smitten Kitchen for originally creating this recipe. They are two of my all-time favourite food bloggers, so serious props need to be given to them. I highly recommend you check out their blogs. They are stunning.

Continue reading →

Slow Cooker Turkey Chilli

Claudia's Cookbook - Slow Cooker Turkey Chilli 3 (1) copy I am in desperate need of some summer weather. We had the worst winter in over 100 years here in Winnipeg. I wish that was an exaggeration. It’s actual fact. Now that we finally have some above freezing temperatures, we have yet to be anywhere close to average for this time of year. The trees are still bare and gardens remain empty. We have seen more rain than sunshine in the last couple weeks and I am starting to think I should move to the West Coast and at least have the ocean if I have to put up with all this rain.

Because of the cooler weather, I am still in the comfort food zone. I am still trying to eat relatively healthy, which is proving to be challenging with the lack of spare time I seem to have between my ice hockey and ball hockey schedules. That is why I really love this recipe. It makes a ton of delicious, healthy chilli, and I can easily bring it to work for lunch or have it a few nights in a row as leftovers when I’m shuttling between work and hockey.

The flavours are very complex and rich. There is a hint of sweetness from the cinnamon and cocoa powder. It also has a bit of heat with the jalapeños and cayenne spice.  I love adding beer to my chilli recipes, but you don’t have to if you aren’t a fan of the flavour. I used a nice Pumpkin Ale in this recipe, but you can use any light or amber ale. To be honest, you can’t really taste it that much in this recipe since there are so many spices. However, feel free to substitute chicken or vegetable stock if you choose. Also, because you can do this recipe in a slow cooker, it’s insanely simple. If you don’t have 6 hours, you can easily make this on the stove in a large pot. You just need to brown the turkey with the onions and garlic, then simmer with the rest of the ingredients on medium low for about an hour. Super versatile and delicious.

Continue reading →

Salted Caramel Mocha Cake Donuts

Claudia's Cookbook - Salted Caramel Mocha Donuts 18

I’ve had a bit of a donut obsession over the last few months. I’m not 100% sure why. I don’t really crave them, and they’re not really my favourite dessert. If there was a box of store bought donuts sitting in the lunch room at work, I could easily pass it up. Chocolate cake, on the other hand, I would have to be dragged from. So, my obsession has baffled me slightly. I actually blame Pinterest. I’ve never made homemade donuts before, so I think I felt: a) left out and b) up to the challenge.

I’ve been on the hunt for a donut pan for a while. It was one of those things where I would see them everywhere when I didn’t want to buy one, and nowhere when I did want to buy one. I finally found one at a great local kitchenware store this weekend. I wasted no time and got to work on these delicious treats.

These donuts are baked and have the texture and density of cake (hence the name, cake donuts). The chocolate is rich, the glaze is sinful and the salted caramel is, well, amazing. Baking donuts are also a tad healthier and less greasy than traditional deep fried donuts. They are also very easy to make and they take no time (9 minutes)! I’ve already had orders from my hockey team to bring a few dozen to our game on Wednesday. They are a very supportive (and hungry) bunch.

Continue reading →

Flourless Dark Chocolate Cookie Bites {Gluten Free}

Claudia's Cookbook - Healthier Dark Chocolate Flourless Cookie Bites cover

You are looking at a hockey champion. That’s right, my hockey team won our divisional championship last weekend! Considering we didn’t win a single game until January (season started in October), being division champs is HUGE feat for us. I couldn’t be prouder of my team, which is made up of the best group of ladies ever. I honestly don’t think we could have grown as a team as much as we did without the positivity and sportsmanship everyone exuded each game. Even the ones where we lost 10-0. Yes, that happened more than once!

Goal Diggers: ASHL Hockey Champs

 (I’m second from the left in the front row!)

I am on a month hiatus until our spring/summer hockey league starts. Not only will I miss the ladies I play with, I will also miss the exercise each Sunday. I have started a really awesome workout regime thanks to my teammate Danelle, who is also a personal trainer. For the first time in a few years, I’m actually enjoying going to the gym and working out with her. I have also found that when I get into a solid workout routine, my diet naturally gets better. It’s probably because when I’m laying on the floor in utter exhaustion, the last thing I want is for all that hard work to go to waste by eating terrible.  But don’t get me wrong – I still crave my favourites, including my beloved chocolate. That’s where these cookie bites come in. They are a healthier version of a dark chocolate cookie, but without all the guilt. They are not only flourless, but they are also made with egg whites and bittersweet/dark chocolate (which has less sugar). Not only do they totally fulfill my chocolate cravings with their delicious flavour, but they also have an amazing merengue-like texture with a fudge centre. Not bad for 80 calories a cookie bite!

Continue reading →

Chocolate Porter Fudge Cookies

Claudia's Cookbook - Chocolate Porter Fudge Cookies cover

I am a huge craft beer fan. My love affair started about 6 years ago. Before that, I was a Gin girl. Give me a bottle of Bombay Sapphire for my birthday and we would be best friends forever. That is until that one fateful party bus night for my friends bachelorette party, where we consumed a little too much good cheer and can no longer handle the taste let alone the smell of the stuff. We may also not be allowed on that party bus again either. But I digress…(sorry Mom!)

There are many definitions of what constitutes “craft beer”.  To put it simply, craft beer is created by a brewery that is local, traditional and most importantly – independent. The industry is growing, with new craft breweries opening every day around the world. When I was in Arizona a couple weeks ago, I was astonished by the amount of craft beer in the aisles. At one point I almost fell to my knees from the glorious site – true story.  In Canada, we have several amazing breweries. However our liquor laws are ancient here in Manitoba, and the amount of craft beer brought into our stores is few and far between. I was so happy with the selection in Arizona that I had to pay an additional $50 to the airline I was flying on because my suitcase was too heavy from the bottles I was bringing back. Totally worth it. In hindsight, I should have brought back more since I had to pay.

You would think that my love of cooking/baking and craft beer would come together more often on this blog. The sad thing is, I don’t cook or bake with beer a lot. That is up until recently when I discovered one of my all-time favourite food blogs – The Beeroness. Jackie Dodd is the creative genius behind this blog and all things beer and food related. I have a serious girl crush on her. Jackie recently came out with the most amazing cookbook that now sits on my shelf. These cookies are from her cookbook. I have to say, they are probably one of the best cookies I have ever tasted. If you love a dense, fudgy chocolate cookie, you will fall in love with these.  Not to mention, they are also very simple to make. I used a chocolate porter beer from a Canadian craft brewery located in Victoria, British Columbia – Phillips Brewery. The beer is delicious on its own, and I thought the sweet chocolate hints in the beer would pair wonderfully with this cookie recipe. I was correct. Don’t worry – if you aren’t a beer fan, you can’t taste the beer in it at all. At least my friend couldn’t, and she hates beer and loved these cookies. I know, I’m friends with people who hate beer. Good thing she cooks for me every now and then or else our friendship would be in serious jeopardy.

Continue reading →