Thursday, October 23, 2014

Slow Cooker Sugar-Free Pumpkin Butter

We're all well aware it's Autumn by this point. We're in full swing of leaf crunching, scarf wearing weather. I don't have to state it anymore. That also means we're all fumbling to toss pumpkin onto everything we can get our hands and spoons on.
I've come to learn the easiest way to slather my food in pumpkin is via pumpkin spice syrup and Pumpkin Butter.
I made Pumpkin butter a few weeks back for the first time and I've been putting it on and in everything. Seriously.
Oatmeal (my favourite vessel to get this pumpkin butter to my mouth), toast, rice cakes, a spoon, smoothies, frozen treats,  pancakes, the list goes on.

I had never really heard about Pumpkin butter until this Fall, and of course I stumbled upon it via Pinterest, it just sounds like a Pinterest thing doesn't it?
 If you've never heard of it either, Pumpkin butter is a mix of Pureed pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, and something to sweeten it up to a treat level. Imagine Pumpkin pie filling, straight out of a jar, that you can put on anything your little autumnal heart desires.
All the Pumpkin Butters I came across online had an unruly amount of brown sugar in them, which I'm not in to at breakfast time - I made my Pumpkin Butter with the intention to use it in overnight oats. I managed to find one that used Liquid Stevia drops instead. Sweet! This was actually the first time I've ever cooked with Stevia before, I'm into it! Pricy, but a little goes a long way!

It's the apple cider in this rich butter that really helps sweeten the sugar-free deal, and it amps up the delicious warming spices too! Win-win! The butter has a fantastic, smooth consistency and versatility it it.  Like I said, my favourite way to eat this pumpkin butter is to plop a giant dollop into a bowl of hot oatmeal and stir it in with a nice handful of pecans, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. The most comforting seasonal breakfast, like a slice of warm pecan pie.

And here's my Adaptation:
Recipe & Instructions adapted from

  • 450 oz Pumpkin Puree (that's one big can & one small can)
  • 3/4 Cups of Apple Cider
  • 3 Tablespoons Molasses
  • 2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 15+ Liquid Stevia drops
Combine all ingredients except Stevia in a slow cooking and cook on Low for 8 hours.
Every few  hours give the mixture of good stir so it doesn't crust around the sides.
When mixture is cooked, let cool a bit.
Add stevia drops, stir, and adjust sweetness to taste.

This recipe can be frozen apparently. I've yet to pull my other half out of the freezer to see how it turns out, I'll let you know! Keeps well in the fridge for a week or so in a tupperware.
There are basically endless possibilities with this recipe. I bet stirred into vanilla ice cream would be a dream! Or a pumpkin spice milkshake! Why am I thinking of cold thing! I'm crazy.
What can you imagine up for this fall treat?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Good Morning Monday | 16

This week was a busy one, midterms are not my favourite pass time. Ugh.
But the weekend was about as perfect as fall can get. Pumpkin Picking!! Mitch and I went down to the pumpkin patch and found ourselves a few pumpkins to carve yesterday! Traditions are my favourite. And what a beautiful day too, you would have never guessed it was October! There were tons of pumpkins to choose from this year! And really Big ones too! I even picked up a Cinderella Pumpkin because it was just too perfect to leave behind, they look like they're from a fairy tale!
It was absolutely adorable and hilarious watching all the kids run around the field trying to find the best one too, followed by Dads in their gumboots!
Have you been Pumpkin Patching yet?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

First Impressions: Flower Beauty

This may be old news to some - but Flower Cosmetics, Drew Barrymore's exclusive to Walmart makeup line is now available in Canada! This was one of those products I'd been waiting so long for that I actually forgot about it! 

Flower Cosmetics launched in US Walmarts in January 2013, and as of this week, it is finally available in Canadian stores! I couldn't be more excited! But let me tell you why!
All of Flower Beauty is produced in the United States and is never tested on animals! They use luxury ingredients and packaging (beautiful packaging might I add) but have drug store prices. Because the Company doesn't have an advertising budget, they can afford to splurge on what's important. Drew speaks freely and passionately about the line  instead of investing in expensive campaigns and spokespeople. (read even more about all this, here)
Can you see why I'm excited yet!?

I went on a trek to both Walmarts in my city, and both only had a limited selection of lip and eye products out so far. There are also foundations, blushes, powders, concealers, highlighters, moisturizers, nail polishes, and mascaras.
Let me show you what I got!

I grabbed two neutral eyeshadows: a deep rose gold bronzy colour - "wild geranium", and a more more yellow-gold iridescent champagne - "good as mari-gold".
Both FLOWER colours are gorgeous, multi-tonal, and iridescent without glitter or heavy shimmer. The creme pots also include little stomper tools to keep the product compact. The single eyeshadow pots are creme shadows. They have a very rich, mouse-like texture. I applied them with my finger, (they would get gunked up in a brush, I think). I've tried them both alone, as well as an amazing bases for eye looks. 
Im not usually much of a fan of cream shadows, I tend to lean more towards something with a bit more "sturdyness" behind it. Like the Maybelline colour tattoos, or regular compact powder shadows. But we shall see how these two hold up over a few different looks. So far so good though!

The velvet lip chubby I chose is in the shade "Life's a peach". Its a gorgeous matte peach-coral. The pigmentation is great, and doesn't fall into creases on your lips. I exfoliated my lips first to keep anything from looking patchy, being a matte product and all.  It feels surprisingly moisturizing on the lips too!
The packaging for all the products is stunning: Rose gold FLOWER embellishments and accents, glass bottoms, and clean white. It feels study and well made but looks so delicate, girly and clean. I want to display these eyeshadows for goodness sakes!

I'm excited to try the face products as well, when they're available. Check back and see how they fare. We'll see how many of these products make it into my october faves! Have you tried any of the FLOWER beauty products? What were your thoughts? I'd love to hear your recommendations!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Simplest of Simple: Vegan Spinach Pesto with Mixed Nuts

Pesto fixes everything. Boring pasta? Fixed. Lazy Sandwich? Fixed. Hungry boy? Fixed. Too much Spinach in the fridge? Fixed.
As much as I loooove pesto, I've never actually made a traditional pine nut and basil concoction. Both ingredients are expensive and who really ever has those things when you want them anyway? In fact, I don't think I've ever had pine nuts in my house. Like saffron, and truffle oil they're elusive, and too good for me and my outdated humble apartment kitchen.
I have however, made many spinach pestos in my day! Lately I've been really digging spinach and sunflower seed, with a dash of nutritional yeast. That's some good stuff.
And who said pestos need to be loaded down with cheese!? Greens, nuts, seasoning, and binder. That's all you need for a rich, flavourful spread.

This particular mix is especially delicious smeared in sandwiches - or added to pasta to make a fantastic green sauce.
My favourite way to take advantage of pesto? Making roasted potatoes, or hash browns then stirring it into the pan to create a guilt-free super indulgent treat. Seriously. I can just have a plate of pesto potatoes for dinner and I'm good as gold. Back to back nights. Trust. It's happened more than once.

Ingredients & Recipe adapted from Vegan Visitor
  • 2 1/2 + heaping cups of spinach
  • few springs of fresh herbs (oregano in this case, but try basil, parsley, thyme, etc)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of roasted nuts (I used almonds and pecans. Walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, etc are also great options!)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons or less of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Combine spinach, herbs, chopped garlic, and nuts in a food processor. Mix until everything is roughly chopped, stopping every so often to scrape down the sides. Continue mixing and pour olive oil in a very thin stream until desired consistency is achieved. 
I prefer using as little olive oil as I can get away with, basically to cut down on the fat. I also don't mind a thicker, more rustic (fancy way of saying chunky) pesto at all. Then add salt and pepper to taste and give one more quick mix to combine it. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

I don't measure too much when I make pesto usually. Now that I've made it so many times I just know - a couple handfuls of spinach and about a half cup of nuts is about as precise as it gets. You can't really mess it up! Play with it as you go, what kind of blends can you come up with?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Good Morning Monday | 15

Happy thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends! I hope you had or are having a wonderful day with your family, or enjoying a Friendsgiving this year if you are away from home! Friendsgivings are the best!
Last night we had a delicious family dinner at my Grandma's house. A complete Turkey dinner that was entirely vegan or vegetatian! (aside from the actual turkey - thanksgiving isn't thanksgiving without a turkey according to Grandma) Everything was delicious, and I'm still full! Mashed potatoes, maple carrots, lentil loaf, mushroom gravy, quinoa salad, frittata, stuffing, mmmmm. And obviously leftovers!
  • Matte, full lips are in and I'm liking it. In the Frow has an awesome makeup tutorial on how to basically look like a bombshell.
  • We made Detoxinista's Coconut Curry recipe as a base for our curry dinner last night. So easy, so delicious, so fast! We threw in chickpeas, carrot, and red pepper as veggies. It was absolutely delicious and made fantastic leftovers, 3 cheers for cheap meals, amiright?
  • I've been fixated with two fantastic YouTube cooking shows lately. And they couldn't be more different from each other. First, AkameraKawaii, Kawaii Kitchen, makes the teeniest, tiniest, cutest recipes you can imagine! Picture corn dogs - for fairies. The tiny oven is lit by a tea light. Small! 
  • The other channel is Gordon Ramsay's . Yes, he has is own channel, and it's incredible. He basically just makes me want to cook mouth watering dishes all the dang time now! He shows you simple kitchen techniques to use in your own home, and how to make easy dishes in a short period of time. He doesn't scream, or swear, and his home kitchen is gorgeous. I now know I need to use olive oil in everything, season everything with sea salt and pepper, buy a pestle and mortar asap. Watch him burn his morning toast in this video, it will make you feel good about yourself.

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