Matt’s Birthday Cake

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Yesterday was Matt’s 27th Birthday – so I made him a cake! I also made him a special birthday breakfast.

A collection of Matt’s favourites – pain au chocolat, bacon and cheesy scrambled eggs – not the most appetizing photo – but it was good (and completely dark outside!)

Even the cat showed up for the birthday breakfast. But he didn’t really enjoy getting his photo taken.

I got Matt loads of his favourite treats (and some other things)! Matt still had to go to school yesterday but he came home for lunch and we got Indian food for dinner. (It was really hard not to eat all the treats while he was gone!)

Back to the cake – I made Dorie Greenspan’s Devil’s Food White Out Cake – specially requested by Matt. I made this cake for my dad’s birthday a few years ago too. You can find the recipe here – I only made half of the recipe because there’s only 2 of us – but there is SO much left! Anybody want some birthday cake?

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Carrot Cake Overnight Oats

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Another overnight oats recipe because I liked them so much. We ran out of peaches so I made a carrot cake version.

Carrot Cake Overnight Oats

By Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 5 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1/3 cup of oats
  • 1/3 cup of almond milk (or soy/regular/etc.)
  • 1/4 cup of low fat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of light cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg and ginger
  • Maple syrup to drizzle

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients except maple syrup and mix well. Cover and store in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, drizzle with maple syrup (if desired). Enjoy for breakfast, no cooking necessary.

Nothing too exciting going on around here, although I have had a pretty productive day:

  • I had my first pumpkin spice latte in Ireland and it was delicious.
  • I did some studying for my upcoming hospital placement.
  • I FINALLY finished my research paper – just have to send it in.
  • I went for a nice fall run before it started raining.
  • I made dinner and now it’s simmering away in the slow cooker.
  • And I got some secret things ready for Matt’s birthday tomorrow – can’t wait! (I’m pretty sure I get more excited about his birthday than he does.)

Happy Birthday Matt! (tomorrow)

Healthy Cookie Bars

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Today I attempted to bike the route for the upcoming Dublin marathon so I’ll have an idea of where I’m going, but somewhere I took a wrong turn and ended up on a highway. I eventually made my way back to the city center and decided to head home instead of back-tracking because I was hungry. I’ll finish tomorrow (haha). All I can say is the route is very long – and I didn’t even do the whole thing yet.

I was planning to go to Starbucks this afternoon and treat myself to a Pumpkin Spice Latte (yes, they finally arrived in Ireland!), but I made these cookie bars instead and now I don’t have any desire to venture out on the bike again. I’ll settle for Earl Grey.

Healthy Cookie Bars

These are vegan, gluten-free and they have no added sugar, flour or butter. They’re actually really good. Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks.

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 12-15 min

Ingredients:

  • 2 small ripe bananas mashed
  • 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1/3 cup of almonds, ground into a flour
  • 2.5 tablespoons of dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries (or raisins)
  • 50 grams of chopped dark chocolate (or 1/4 cup of chocolate chips)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or grease with cooking spray. (I used an 8×8 inch square pan).
  • Combine mashed banana, peanut butter, coconut oil and vanilla extract and blend until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, combine oats, almonds (use a blender to grind almonds into a flour), coconut, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.
  • Stir in dried cranberries and chopped chocolate.
  • Press dough down into pan and bake for 12-15 minutes.
  • Let cool before removing from pan. Cut into squares.

Look at the cat sleeping:

He sleeps with his paws in mid-air. Wednesday is Matt’s birthday! I am going to make him a delicious birthday cake. Now I better get to studying – I’ve been putting it off for days. This time next week I’ll be back at school.

Peachy Cheesecake Overnight Oats

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I’m not so patiently waiting for Matt to wake up so I can test out my new overnight oats creation! I always wait to eat breakfast with him but I also pretty much always wake up earlier than him. Sometimes I subtly try to wake him up by banging things around in the kitchen but I always feel bad because he’s a sleepy student. And he’s still sleeping…

My dad and my sister both suggested that I make a recipe for oatmeal. My go-to oatmeal combo is peanut butter and banana but since I found really cheap peaches on sale in Dunnes, I decided to do something peachy. Once I heard someone say “It’s a real peach of a day!” when it was really sunny in Dublin.

Peachy Cheesecake Overnight Oats

by Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 5 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 peach, chopped or sliced
  • 1/3 cup of oats
  • 1/3 cup of almond milk (or regular/soy/etc.)
  • 1/4 cup of plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of light cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of flax seed (optional)
  • Sugar/maple syrup/stevia to sweeten (optional)

Instructions:

  • Combine oats, milk, yogurt, and cream cheese and mix well. Stir in chopped peach. Sprinkle with flax seeds if desired. Cover and refrigerate overnight. No cooking required! Enjoy for breakfast.
  • *If you want a sweeter bowl of oats, drizzle with maple syrup or add a bit of sugar into the mix.



This is my first time trying overnight oats. I’ve been meaning to try them forever but usually I feel like having hot oatmeal in the morning rather than cold – these would probably be great for the summer. They also save time in the morning because your breakfast is already made. I think I will try a carrot cake version next.

I only have one really long training run left for the marathon! I also got some unexpected extra money from my summer grant so I bought new running shoes. Today I’m planning to do a short run, edit my research paper, start reviewing for my upcoming hospital placement, and relax. Happy Sunday!

Update: Matt finally woke up and these oats were delicious! I love overnight oats.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Scones

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Today I made scones for the first time ever. Considering that my dad is a master scone baker, it’s hard to believe that I have never made scones by myself before. His scones are seriously good – people rave about them. He usually makes them with raisins or craisins or, my personal favourite, blueberries. I’m sorry to say that these are not my dad’s scones. He did share his recipe with me, but I modified them so much that they are pretty much unrecognizable! (Dad, I hope you don’t mind that I’m posting this recipe.)

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Scones

by Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 10-12 min

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of cold butter/margarine (or dairy free substitute)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of buttermilk (or regular/almond/soy/etc.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 small apple, peeled & chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons of raw demerara sugar (or brown sugar) for sprinkling

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and line a baking tray with parchment paper or grease with cooking spray.
  • Beat egg and set a small amount of beaten egg aside to use to brush the top of the scones. Combine larger amount of egg with buttermilk and set aside.

  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  • Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingers until mixture resembles very coarse crumbs.
  • Slowly pour in buttermilk & egg mixture and stir until a dough forms. If dough is too wet, add more flour. (You may not need to add in all of the milk).
  • Roll dough out to 1/2 inch thickness on a floured surface. Cover half with chopped apples and fold over other side to cover apples.

  • Brush the top with reserved egg (if desired, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon to beaten egg before brushing).
  • Sprinkle top with demerara (or brown) sugar.

  • Cut into squares/triangles and bake for 10-12 minutes.

I am savoring every moment of my last week of vacation by spending excessive amounts of time baking, lying in bed, drinking tea and window shopping (not to mention running) – I am so not looking forward to heading back to school in just over a week.

Secret Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

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I love cookies, I think they are my specialty. These cookies have a secret ingredient and you would never know it was in there – except I’m about to reveal the secret: sweet potatoes! I used sweet potatoes instead of butter in this recipe, and they turned out delicious. Did you know sweet potatoes are a superfood? Here are the facts. These are soft and chocolatey and surprisingly healthy – check this out:

Not too bad! These cookies are also gluten free if you use gluten-free oats. You definitely need these on a miserable rainy day like today. It’s been raining for 2 days straight here and it reminds me of Vancouver. I used to run in the rain all the time, but I’m really not used to this weather anymore. I try to avoid going out in the rain at all costs. It looks like it’s going to be another wet run this afternoon, if I can make myself go outside.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies



by Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 10-12 min

Ingredients (makes 12 cookies):

  • 1/3 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup of sweet potato, cooked & mashed
  • 1/3 cup of raw demerara sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of oats (ground in a blender)
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 50 grams of dark chocolate, chopped (or 1/2 cup of chocolate chips)

Instructions:

  • Peel and chop sweet potato into big chunks. Boil until tender, drain and mash. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with cooking spray.
  • Combine peanut butter, sweet potato, brown sugar and egg. Mix well.
  • Add oats to blender and blend until a fine flour forms. Combine oat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir in chopped chocolate.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes.

I made surprisingly great progress on my research project today. Here is the key to getting actual work done at home, I have finally figured it out after about 2 months – sit at a desk!

Matt carried that desk and chair on and off 2 buses to get it home from Ikea! We didn’t want to pay for the delivery, which was pretty much the same price as the desk and chair. We’re cheap.

And now I will leave you with something for your hamstrings, which have been sorely neglected on this blog (and also in real life): 3 Poses to Help Your Hamstrings. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Cornbread

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It’s a rainy day here and it definitely feels like fall. Yesterday I made slow-cooker chili for dinner. I love my slow-cooker and I would highly recommend getting one if you don’t have one. Mine was only 16 euro – lately I’ve become convinced that the cheaper the appliance, the better it works and the longer it lasts. And you can use it for all kinds of crazy stuff and you don’t have to worry about wrecking it because you can always just buy another one if it breaks! (Please note that none of my cheap appliances have broken yet. I use my blender as a food processor all the time – I actually pick it up and shake it in the air while it’s running – maybe I should just buy a cheap food processor?). Anyways, I asked Matt if he wanted to have sweet potatoes or cornbread with the chili and he said cornbread… but I kind of wanted sweet potatoes, so I made them into one!

Sweet Potato Cornbread

If you don’t have sweet potatoes, this bread would also work well with canned pumpkin.

by Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 20-25 min

Ingredients (serves 8):

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour (or whole wheat/gluten free flour)
  • 1 tablespoon of raw brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons of dairy-free butter (or regular butter/margarine)
  • 1/4 cup of almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1 egg

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf tin with cooking spray.
  • Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
  • Peel sweet potato and chop into large pieces. Boil until tender. Drain and mash. Add melted butter, milk, and egg and stir to combine.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until a dough forms.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.

The perfect accompaniment to chili.

I’m about to head out for a run so I’ll have to put the poor kitty outside in the rain – he’s peacefully sleeping beside me. He is not going to be impressed.

My goal for the day is to finally finish my research paper – I haven’t really worked on it at all since before I went to Toronto. Happy Monday!

Healthy Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Muffin Cake

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This recipe comes from my mom’s recipe collection – she used to have an old silver box filled with little hand-written recipe cards in a kitchen drawer. I think the box has long disappeared but somehow this card ended up with me in Ireland.

You can tell this cake has been made many times! This was one of my favourite desserts when I was little – I remember often asking my mom to bring this for the desserts table at our piano recitals. I have created a healthier version – but it still tastes just how I remember it.

Healthy Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Muffin Cake

by Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 25 min

Cook Time: 40 min

Ingredients (makes 10-12 slices):

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup of oats, ground into a flour
  • 1 cup of spelt flour (or whole wheat/all purpose or almond flour)
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1/4 cup of almond butter (or regular butter)
  • 3/4 cup of low fat plain organic yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of finely diced peeled apple (about 2 small apples)

For the Crumb Topping

  • 2 tablespoons of spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons of raw brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of dairy-free butter (or regular butter/margarine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Instructions:For the Crumble Topping

  • Combine 2 tablespoons of spelt flour, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and mix well. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut in 1 tablespoon of butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside in the fridge.

For the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a bundt or loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Add oats to a blender and blend until a fine flour forms.
  • Combine dry ingredients and blend well.
  • Combine almond butter, yogurt, honey, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  • Beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend until batter is smooth. Stir in chopped apple.

  • Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth so the surface is level.
  • Sprinkle with crumb topping.

  • Bake until crumbs are crisp and lightly browned and a knife inserted in center of cake comes out clean. (About 40 minutes).
  • Cool cake in pan for at least 20 minutes. Run a knife between cake and sides of pan and gently invert cake onto cooling rack. Cool thoroughly before serving.
  • This cake is not extremely sweet – it’s more like a muffin, if you want a sweeter cake just add some sugar or more honey. This cake is delicious served with whipping cream or vanilla ice cream/yogurt. For a healthier version, you could omit the crumble topping. *Note, the crumble topping is actually on the bottom of the cake after you flip it out of the bundt pan. If you don’t have a bundt pan, you could always use a loaf tin or a muffin tin.

This cake is delicious for breakfast or dessert (or both!). I’m currently recovering from yesterday’s 3 hour run with apple cake.

Raw Marathon Energy Bars and another long run

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I completed my 3-hour run this afternoon! I was a little bit late with this run because I had to take some time off running to go to Toronto and now I’m trying to figure out how to catch up. I had scheduled in a 3-week taper before the marathon, and now I’m wondering if I should add an extra run onto the end of my plan and make it a 2-week taper. I need to do some reading about tapering tonight. The other option would be to squeeze in an extra run next week but somehow I don’t think it’s a good idea to do 2 super long runs in 1 week.

I tested out my new homemade raw energy bars today during my run. I actually made them into the shape of a muffin rather than a bar. These are gluten-free.

Raw Marathon Energy Bars

by Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 10 min

Ingredients (makes 4 muffins or 2 bars):

  • 2 tablespoons of almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons of dessicated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of pitted dates

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Shape into squares/bars and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Here is the nutritional info for 1 batch divided into 4:

I ate two energy muffins during my run – I took bites at the 1 hour, 1h 20min, 1h 40min, 2h, 2h 20 min, and 2h 40 min marks. In my previous long runs, I haven’t eaten anything until at least 1h 20 min, but it seemed to help that I started eating a bit earlier. I felt great for the first 2 hours of my run. I did a bit of a different route this time so I could stop by the house at 2 hours and drink some water and get another energy muffin. The third hour was really hard – it might have been because I stopped by the house so I subconsciously felt like I was finished, but then I wasn’t. By about 2h 50min, I was just trying to walk-run my way home. I felt pretty tired after finishing but I feel a lot better now. My only criticism of these energy bars is that they’re a bit sticky – you kind of need some liquid to help wash it down. Other than that, they taste good and they did the job! They’re quite sweet from the dates, you could try reducing the amount of maple syrup or eliminating it all together if you want something less sweet.

Coming up tomorrow, Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Muffin Cake! yum.

A Trip To Toronto

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I just got back this morning from a quick trip to Ontario to be a part of one of my best friend’s weddings. The wedding was actually outside of Toronto at a camp called Muskoka Woods in Rosseau, Ontario. It was one of the most gorgeous weddings ever. This was my first trip to Ontario and I was surprised by how quintessentially Canadian it felt – it felt somehow more Canadian than BC.

This is called Windermere House – Lindsay (the bride), Steph (the maid of honour), and I had tea here and relaxed on the beautiful front porch a couple of days before the wedding. Steph informed me that you cannot go to Windermere without getting a picture on the chairs!

This is the community hall where Lindsay and Roland had their reception. Isn’t it cute?

This was their ceremony location – it’s called the lookout point at Muskoka Woods. Roland spent the summer clearing the forest and building all of the benches for the wedding.

Getting ready!

We took photos around Rosseau, a very picturesque little town.

Lindsay put so much time into planning the perfect day. All of the decorations inside the hall were amazing.

Bridesmaids! (minus Steph)

The games they played at their reception were so funny.

Lindsay dancing with her grandpa.

It was such a special day and I was so honoured to be a part of it. Lindsay and Roland were the happiest bride and groom I’ve ever seen! Lindsay is a very dear friend to me and I am so excited that her and Roland will be moving to Germany so that we will be closer. They truly had the perfect day.

After the wedding I headed back to Toronto. I had planned to spend one day there before heading home so I would get a chance to see a bit of the city. Matt’s cousin, Becca, and her husband, Gabo, live in Toronto so I got the chance to meet up with them for dinner. They very graciously bought me dinner and drove me around and showed me a bit of the city. I loved what I saw of Toronto! I wish I could have spent a bit more time there.

I skipped my long run this week because I was away so I’m planning to do it tomorrow – wish me luck. A new recipe coming soon too!