Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Caramel Cups

Is it not one of the best feelings to look out your window at 7pm and still see blue skies and sunshine? I am definitely stoked about it. I have this strange sense of guilt every time I am inside and it is beautiful outside. I feel like I am wasting the opportunity to feel sun on my skin and breathe fresh air. For example, today I walked to work and back again (45 minutes each way) but when I got home I felt a definite sense of agitation and the need to be outdoors. I was exhausted, but I still wanted to experience those last daylight hours to their fullest. At least in my mind. My body had other ideas (comfy clothes and a snack) so I compromised by making almond butter and opening all of the windows.*

This is an exciting week for me. Friday is my last day at work! First, I want to thank all of you for your kind messages and notes about last week's post. It really meant the world to me, and your support is so truly heartwarming. This week marks the beginning of a shift in my life. Even though I finished school in December, Montreal will always remind me of being a student. It is hard to shift my perception of the city into anything else. It's been a hard winter, but knowing that I only have a few weeks left in this city is making me sentimental. 

I have just over a week in Montreal once I am finished work. After that I am heading to Toronto, then to Bonnaroo (!!!), back to Toronto, and then finally flying out to Vancouver at the end of June to start a new chapter (for fear of being cliché) of my life. It is jam packed, crazy, and I am over the moon excited!

By the way, does anyone have tips on flying with cats?

I don't have many words today, but more a general sense of impending possibility. I'll talk to you next week from the other side of work (and a new stint of unemployment). Have a great week, babes. ♥

*UGH. I just got up from writing this to make a cup of tea and my cat knocked over a full glass of water that was on my desk into my open bag... Anyways, it is now 8pm and STILL sunny outside! 

Another dessert, you might ask? 

I don't usually post sweet recipes (or at least not as often as savoury dinner situation recipes) so two in a row is unusual. But really, why not?

I made your usual, run-of-the-mill homemade peanut butter cups last week and Sebastian loved them. He couldn't stop talking about how good they were, and why hadn't I made them before. He suggested posting the recipe in this space, but I just couldn't justify it, not when there are so many superbly delicious recipes for the same thing on the internet. 

Over a bowl of ramen (and ridiculously good cocktails) we devised this recipe. I have to give him credit for the peanut butter banana combo. I know it is a classic, but I don't usually gravitate towards banana in desserts. I was so pleasantly surprised by these. 

You know banana ice cream (or nice cream)? Well, these are basically like little nice cream bites, coated in chocolate and stuffed with peanut butter caramel. SO GOOD. 

They are incredibly simple and made up of only 5 ingredients! 

Please try them. Please love them. 

frozen banana peanut butter caramel cups

Makes 12 mini cups

If your peanut butter is unsalted add a pinch of salt to the caramel. If you prefer a sweeter chocolate, you can add an additional tbsp maple syrup, although I found it plenty sweet. A key to this recipe is slicing the banana very thinly. The thinner the banana slices the more evenly the chocolate will look on top (and the more caramel you can add). 

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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter (unsweetened + a pinch of salt)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup, divided 
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder
  • apprx. half a banana sliced (12 very thin slices)

 

Notes

Prepare 12 mini cupcake liners on a baking sheet. To make the peanut butter caramel, combine the peanut butter with 1 tbsp maple syrup in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Once melted, whisk in the cacao powder and 2 tbsp maple syrup and remove from heat. 

Pour 1 tsp of the melted chocolate mixture into each mini cupcake liner. Place in the freezer and let set for 10 minutes. Next, add a slice of banana to each liner on top of the now hardened chocolate (read above notes on thinness of banana). Add a small dollop of the peanut butter caramel (1/2 tsp to 1 tsp) and smooth it evenly with a spoon or your fingers. Finally, fill the rest of the liner to the top with the remaining melted chocolate. It should cover the banana and caramel completely. Return to the freezer and set for at least 35 minutes (although the longer the better). Decorate with additonal banana if desired. Store in the freezer in a sealed container for up to (I would guess) two weeks. 

Fudgy Dark Chocolate Balsamic Basil Brownies (Raw)

There are so many places to begin this post that I am finding myself at a loss for words. I have two exciting things to share today, and while they are distinctly different and important in their own ways, I find them blurring together in my mind. I think it might be because they both represent the future in an abstract yet date specific kind of way. 

It is Spice & Sprout's 2nd birthday!

When I started out two years ago, I knew nothing of the blogging world. I read a handful of food blogs and spent all of my free time in the kitchen with messy hands and a full heart. I loved cooking and baking (I still do) and it seemed like the natural progression of my childhood and teenage passions to start this space. It's funny to be on the other side. While my passion hasn't dwindled, I do find myself motivated by different reasons. I would love to say that readers and followers don't factor into my feelings of self worth, but that would be dishonest. It can be hard to separate out external vs. internal validations. That being said, I am ever so grateful for the amazing community that I am now a part of.

I had no idea of the intense support system that exists in this community before I started blogging. I can honestly say that I have never felt competitive or jealous of the bloggers around me, but instead so completely inspired by the beautiful work that they all do. Every writer, photographer, recipe developer, cook, and stylist (because sometimes blogger feels reductive) is unique and has their own vision. I feel so lucky to be a part of this world and I want to send a big hug out to everyone who hangs out in this space with me. Thank you for your constant support, your sweet messages, and the brightness that you bring into my life. xo

I am moving to Vancouver!

It's happening! So soooooon! I am so ridiculously excited.

I don't know exactly why I wanted to share these two things in the same post, but they both feel important and monumental in my life. At the end of June, Sebastian and I will pack up the few belongings we own (plus our cat) and fly across the country to start a new adventure. 

I've spoken about my love for the outdoors here before and this move feels so intuitive. We are starting something fresh and new, in a city overflowing with green spaces and beautiful views. The mountains and the ocean. That's all I keep thinking of. It is not an exaggeration to say this takes up at least 50% of my headspace daily. 

I am sure I'll talk more about this move as it approaches. I can't wait to hear from all of you west coasters on the best places to eat, hike, and travel to. And I can't wait to meet some of you in person!

So many exciting things on the horizon, my loves. You all rule ♥

Did you think I was going to forget to tell you about these brownies?

They are kind of my idea of perfection. I would never claim to have made the perfect brownie recipe (who are we kidding) but these are a pretty joyous spin on the classic fudgy raw version. 

The actual brownie is spiked with balsamic vinegar. Amidst the dense chocolatey goodness you get hints of that almost floral brightness. A deep tang that lingers for just a moment after the chocolate disperses. 

Basil provides an earthy, bright contrast to the deeper flavour notes. It is infused in coconut oil and whipped into a creamy, rich ganache that tops the brownies. Personally, I think a raw brownie always deserves a little love on top.

The creamy layers are juxtaposed with bits of walnut, adding some crunch and texture variation. 

I cannot say enough good things about these brownies. I really hope that you try them out and let me know what you think. Remember you can always tag @spiceandsprout to show me your creations! 

fudgy dark chocolate balsamic basil brownies (raw)

Makes an 8x8 dish of brownie goodness! 

The hardest part about these brownies is the waiting. For the brownies to properly set, you really need to leave them for at least an hour in the freezer before serving. Keep this in mind when planning to make these treats! :)

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Ingredients

Brownies

  • 2 1/2 cups walnuts, divided
  • 2 cups gooey pitted dates 
  • 1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ganache

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 5 basil leaves, minced
  • 50g chopped dark chocolate (I used 90% but anything over 70% works)
  • 1/4 cup cacao or cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • walnuts and chopped basil to decorate

 

Notes

Line an 8x8 inch baking dish with parchment paper (you can oil the dish if you want, it makes the parchment paper stick more easily). Set aside. 

In a food processor, combine 2 cups of the walnuts and all of the dates. Blend on high until it forms a dough that gathers into a ball inside the food processor (see photos 3 and 4). Add the rest of the brownie ingredients and continue to process until the dough is thick and slightly sticky (it shouldn't take more than a minute or two). Add in the remaining half cup of walnuts and pulse once or twice until they are mixed in but not blended. 

Press the brownie dough into the prepared baking dish and make sure it is evenly distributed and smooth on the top. Place in the freezer to set. 

To make the ganache melt the coconut oil with the basil in a double boiler (boil a pot of water and place a heatproof dish over it). Once melted add in the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts. Add in the cacao powder and maple syrup and whisk until thick and smooth. Remove from heat. 

Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread so that it evenly coats the top. Sprinkle on chopped walnuts and basil. Place back into the freezer and let set for at least one hour before serving. These brownies are super fudgy and will be too gooey to cut if they don't set for long enough. Store in a sealed container in the freezer for a couple of weeks. 

Minty Spelt Berry, Brussels Sprout & Purple Cabbage Salad

All the days are bleeding together in a kind of soft, drizzly palette. April into May feels so transitional, like I am constantly waiting for something to happen. It's a lull I'm not used to and one I don't like feeling comfortable in. I sway in and out of creative sparks and indifference to the days passing. The other day at work, I told a co-worker that I felt like I was always waiting for it to be the next day. To say those words aloud felt pretty shitty. I never want to see my life as something I am waiting to pass me by - as though I am stuck in a perpetual backwards step.

I keep a note on my phone to record all the little things I want to remember. It is full of one off fragments of poetry, observations of the world around me, or sometimes just two words that fit together well. I was reading it over the other day for inspiration and came across this thought: "Being in a car in the rain feels like a tangible version of spending time inside my own head." I think I've been chasing those in-the-moment type feelings. Trying to find a way to feel the most me and the most present. 

I've been reading NW by Zadie Smith, and although I could say a million things about how smart, beautiful, and captivating it is, the main thing it is making me remember is how we think that our lives are so linear, but in fact they are not. Every moment of the present is interjected with memories and associations from the past. It is beautiful and terrifying that nothing can be completely escaped, forgotten, or revisited as it once was. I read somewhere that every memory you have is really only a memory of the last time you remembered that thing/person/event. You are constantly changing your own perception of the world with each moment you live in it. It can be a lot to think about, but also in some ways a stabilizing thought - I am everything that I have come in contact with and also myself. 

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts ♥

This salad went through a few transitions. 

I dreamed it up on a slow day at work, tasting each ingredient as it passed through my mind and trying to find the next flavour in the chain. 

My mum was in town this weekend, and on Saturday night we made a version of this dish. It is always so fun to see recipe ideas become a reality, and also to witness the changes they make as they are passed from the intangible to the solid, tastable world. 

This version is once more removed from that Saturday night creation. It is the combination of imagined, tested, and tried versions all coming together. 

I am a big advocate of the idea that every dish needs to contain a salt, an acid, and a sugar. This salad really pulls that off. You can taste the sharp, almost bitter tang of the lime, as well as the umami soy sauce and the natural sweetness of the cabbage (plus a little honey). 

It is such an easy meal to throw together, and works super well for lunches the next day.

I hope you love it and let me know if you make anything from this blog! You can tag me @spiceandsprout on Instagram or send me a DM to let me know what you think :)

minty spelt berry, brussels sprout & purple cabbage Salad

Serves 4 - 6 (depending on if it is a side or a main)

A good way to chop your mint (and other leafy herbs) is to gather the leaves into a bundle and slice them lengthwise (think of your knife travelling lengthwise down the leaf) until they are as fine as you desire. 

As for the cabbage, I find that cutting it into quarters first and then slicing lengthwise is the easiest method. For this recipe, you will want to roughly chop them into smaller pieces after thinly slicing.

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Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 cup dried spelt berries, soaked overnight if possible
  • 10 large brussels sprouts, thinly sliced lengthwise (see above photo)
  • half a small purple cabbage, sliced thinly and then chopped into smaller pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped (you can leave them whole if desired) 
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped

Dressing

  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp chili garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (sesame oil would be good I just didn't have any)
  • 1 tsp soy suace

 

Notes

Add the spelt berries to a medium pot with 3 cups water (you can also use vegetable stock which gives them a deeper flavour). Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking covered for 40-45 minutes (if they haven't been soaked the cooking time will be closer to 75-90 minutes). You want them to be soft, but still chewy. Drain any excess water and set them over a pot in a colander or sieve to dry out. 

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the sliced brussels spouts and cabbage. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add 1 tsp soy sauce. Continue to sauté for another minutes or so and then remove from heat. You want the veggies to be cooked but still a little crunchy.

To make the dressing combine all of the ingredients in a glass jar and shake (with the lid on!) until combined.

Toss together the spelt berries, brussels and cabbage, grated carrot, pistachios, and mint. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Serve with a wedge of lime and a sprig of mint. This should keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. 

Miso Ginger Broth w/ Pan Seared Sweet Potato Noodles & Broccoli Florets

It's 8pm and as I write this, the sky is darkening to its deepest blue. I can still see the luminance of the sky, adding depth and the perception of twilight before it finally settles into its midnight black. 

I spent the evening drinking dandelion tea and sitting on a park bench as golden rays stretched across the almost green grass of early spring. It is rare that this fantasy actually plays out. More often than not I get home from work and sit at my computer, scroll through instagram, and place myself into moments out of other people's lives. I don't know how I feel about this fracture of space and the idea that experiences viewed through social media might be less valid. Seeing someone's gorgeous photograph of a mountain range, a cozy pot of soup, them curled up on the couch with their cat, is validating in a different way than my own lived experience. It lends inspiration and a relatability that I feel invites me into that person's world. 

Strolling through the park this evening I gave myself permission to be romantic; to examine the way the light fell differently across patches of mud and grass, to take a photograph of the green door on the white stucco park house, to actually be in the moment and let myself feel uncomfortable with the self-reflexive nature of it all. 

Sometimes it's hard to just totally let go when you are too aware of trying to let go. It feels like posing for a photograph in which you are both subject and author. Or like writing that first journal entry after months or years of empty pages. 

I am trying to get better at sitting with discomfort. I don't know if this is true but I like to think that if I can feel at ease with my own way of over analyzing the world maybe some of that beauty will shine through even clearer. 

This soup is another exercise in discomfort. Don't get me wrong, it is super delicious. I just feel a bit weird about posting it because it is SO simple. The broth is really a spin on miso soup and ginger tea. I think I've made it sound even stranger now, but I promise it is really a spicy, umami type broth. I had the idea of boiling ginger with the water because that's usually how I make my teas, and it worked so well. You get that spicy kick combined with the salty miso.

I was listening to the latest episode of Jessica Murnane's podcast One Part Podcast with guest Sarah Britton from the amazing blog My New Roots. Sarah was talking about her love of searing foods and how that act can bring out the flavours and caramelize the sugars in certain vegetables. I was so inspired and immediately knew I wanted to incorporate it into this recipe. 

The sweet potato noodles sear so nicely! The sugars are really brought out and they cook to an almost al dente like texture. The coolest part is how the noodles begin to flavour the broth when they are added to each bowl, and add a faint hint of sweetness. 

This is a super simple recipe, but I think it is ultimately worth sharing. I hope you enjoy it, and if you make any of my recipes be sure to tag me @spiceandsprout so I can see :) 

Miso Ginger Broth w/ pan seared sweet potato noodles & broccoli florets 

Serves 4

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Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 6 cups water
  • apprx. 2 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 3 tbsp miso paste
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 tsp honey

 

Notes

Using a spiralizer, spiralize the sweet potatoes into noodles.

In a large soup pot, combine the 6 cups of water and the grated ginger and bring to a boil. Mix the miso paste in a small bowl with a couple tablespoons of hot water (you can take it form the boiling pot) and whisk together into a thin paste. Add the miso into the boiling water along with the turmeric, black pepper, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Lower to a simmer and cover. 

Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil. Once it is hot, add the sweet potato noodles. They should sizzle right away, keep stirring them (like you're sautéing onions) until they get cooked through and darker in colour. Once they are cooked (about 5 - 7 minutes) remove from heat. 

Add the broccoli florets to the soup stock and cook for about 2 minutes before serving, until they are soft but still a bit crisp. Add soup to a bowl and top with sweet potato noodles and sesame seeds. Serve hot. 

Chickpea & Pomegranate Salad

Hello dear friends! I am going to keep this brief because I am in Toronto spending time with my family (and learning how to drive) and it is just too nice to spend much time on my computer :)

Last night my mom and I held our annual seder at her house with some of our closest friends. It's a night I look forward to all year, not just for the amazing food and good laughs, but also for the opportunity to spend time with some of my favourite and closest humans. We reflect on spring, on the years past, on almost 20 years of friendship (which is saying a lot since I am only 22), sing songs out of key, and fill our glasses over and over (to the fourth cup!). 

Every year brings new faces, stories, and ideas, but it is always a time that feels comforting and familiar. Each place and new face at the table is fully welcomed and incorporated into our traditions. It is a truly beautiful night. 

This chickpea and pomegrante salad is another tradition. It's been passed down in the family from my mom's cousin Rosalie, to my mom, and finally to me, and has long been a staple at potlucks, large dinners, and family gatherings. The simple combination of creamy chickpeas, tart and juicy pomegranates, and fresh cilantro is one of my favourites. I look forward to it every time I come home. It almost feels strange to post it here because it is such a staple in our family, but one of my favourite things is sharing those simple, homey recipes that actually get made over and over again. I hope that this dish shows up at your next family gathering or potluck, and that your friends and family enjoy it as much as we do ♥ ♥ ♥

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chickpea & pomegranate salad

Serves 6 - 8

I used cooked from scratch chickpeas in this recipe, which is definitely the best way to go. However, you can totally use canned chickpeas and it will still be delicious. 

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups chickpeas, cooked
  • Seeds from 1 1/2 pomegranates
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

 

Notes

In a large mixing bowl toss together the chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, and chopped cilantro. 

In a jar or glass measuring cup whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. You might not need all of the dressing, so taste as you go. This salad keeps well in the friedge for up to three days. 

Vegan Pesto Pasta w/ Roasted Peppers & Asparagus

A few years ago I took my first restorative yoga class. It isn't something I would usually be drawn to as a class (even though I am all about putting my body in relaxing and restorative poses) but my mum was going and I decided to tag along. I can't say I remember many specifics of the class - dim lighting, bolsters, blankets, legs on the wall - but what I do remember is the feeling of being intimately connected to my own body in a way I had never experienced before. 

It is a rare moment that I hold myself, hug my own body, just for the sake of that experience. It felt super vulnerable which I wasn't expecting at all. I don't remember exactly when it hit me, but I think we were doing a restorative pose that involved holding the legs to the chest and lowering the head - almost a seated, upright child's pose. A deep well of emotion rolled over me, and I remember holding tightly to my own legs, almost afraid to let go and look up to the rest of the room. Something personal, heartfelt, new, and at the same time so intrinsic, was taking place. I don't really know if I can articulate it here, but I think you know. If you've felt it, and it would feel differently to each of us, I think you know what I am talking about. 

I've been thinking about this experience lately as an exploration of subjectivity. It can be a way to relate to another human being without trying to put yourself in their position. Even though empathy is a strong and great force, it can also diminish someone's experience. None of us really know what it feels like to have lived someone else's life, but we do know what it feels like to have a body, a mind, and for those parts of us to be so completely intertwined. I've been thinking lately that if you can fully realize that every person around you has an equivalent amount of subjectivity and sense of self, maybe it can become an exercise in kindness and compassion. If you can picture that person holding their own body and feeling those deep, emotional waves running through them, maybe it can help our own understanding of the people who live around us. 

Just some thoughts. Sometimes this space feels like a workshop for my ideas, and I always love to hear how you respond. 

On to the food. 

This is a super simple bowl, but entirely delicious and comforting. I think it is safe to say that this pesto pasta is both fresh and cozy! You have the carbs, creamy pesto, and then the springy roasted veggies. Roasted peppers have always been a favourite in pasta for me, and they pair so well with pesto. I added asparagus as a last minute inspiration, but the small bites of salty, roasted goodness almost make the whole dish. I can see this becoming a staple around here, so I really hope you try it out ♥ 

vegan pesto pasta w/ roasted peppers & asparagus

Serves 4 - 6

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Ingredients

Vegan Pesto

  • 2 cups packed basil, washed
  • 2 cups packed spinach
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pasta

  • 500g of pasta (your fave type - GF if needed)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (plus oil, salt and pepper)
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • optional: nutritional yeast and sunflower seeds to serve

 

Notes

Preheat the oven to 400.

Chop the asparagus into approx. 2 inch pieces (each stem into thirds). Place on a baking sheet and toss with about 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place the baking sheet with the asparagus on the bottom rack of the oven, and place the bell peppers (whole) directly onto the oven rack above. Roast the asparagus for 15 minutes, until crispy. Roast the peppers for 25 - 30 minutes, until the outsides are slightly charred. Place the peppers either into a paper bag for 10 minutes, or lay them on a cutting board and cover with a kitchen towel to sweat. Once the peppers have finished sweating, peel off the outer layer of skin, slice them open, remove the seeds, and cut into thin strips. 

While the veggies are cooking, boil a large pot of water for the pasta and cook it as per instructions on the package. Make the pesto by combining all of the ingredients into a food processor and blending until smooth. 

Drain the pasta in a colander and then return it to the cooking pot off the heat. Toss with the pesto until fully coated and evenly distributed. Add in the roasted veggies and toss to combine. Serve topped with extra nutritional yeast and sunflower seeds. This also works well as a cold dish, so you can easily have leftovers straight from the fridge!