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muffins just help me deal.

I haven’t posted anything in 10 months. Let’s not make it a thing, ok?

GFCarrotMuffins13Sep15-020©chicksphotoI had a big year, I guess. Things happened. And then other stuff happened. Work is also a thing I do full-time… so basically: Excuses, There they are. They’re not very good. ha!

Life is always changing and I’m trying to deal with stuff and so what do I do? Make muffins. This has been exhibited twice before. Here & here. Muffins are the answer to: what the hell do I do now? Muffins. I do muffins.

I became a wife about two months ago! It was incredible, we did it in Toronto, our stay was only two weeks and an absolute whirlwind.

Usually when I go home my plan is to sit and eat and drink. I plan to play with the dog and maybe go to the cottage but also re-explore Toronto and figure out whats new since I’ve been gone.

This almost never happens properly because when I visit home it’s to see people. Family & friends. I LOVE love love seeing those people cause I miss them SO MUCH when I am away. But quickly, my trips becomes a juggling act of who can I see at what time and where and how can I see everyone more than once and – whats that? I’m leaving in four days. Well, sheeeeeeiiit.

This trip was the same but different. It was quicker and more amazing but also left zero time for me to sit and do nothing or play with the puppy or just HANG OUT with my parents. I got a husband on this trip which is awesome (!), but I also feel like I didn’t get what I needed from being at home.

So, we came back to Sydney (after our amazing adventurous honeymoon) and I just feel a bit off. On one hand, we came back to Spring – the weather here at the moment is really showing off. It’s basically summer. And I came back to the ocean, which is just how I left it; Huge and scary and salty and humbling.

On the other hand, we came back and I feel like I barely saw my parents, I didn’t get to play with the doggy enough and I’m just all around massively homesick.

These are the two parts of my brain. They are having it out at the moment and I’m trying not to get in the middle of things but ultimately, here I am. In the middle.

Muffins, anyone?

GFCarrotMuffins13Sep15-008e©chicksphotoGluten-Free Carrot Muffins
Based on the Recipe from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients

1.5 flax eggs
1/4 c. olive oil
1 mashed banana
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 sweet apple, finely grated
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup oat milk
1 c. (packed) grated carrot
2/3 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. almond meal
1 c. + 2 tbsp gluten-free flour blend
1/4 c. raw walnuts chopped – extra for topping

This recipe was made as a one-bowl recipe which is AMAZING. So, begin with the flax eggs in a large bowl and preheat the oven to 375*F. Add the mashed banana, maple syrup, olive oil and combine.
Next add the grated apple, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & combine.
Add in the oat milk, stir. Add the grated carrot and stir.
Lastly, add the oats, almond meal, gluten-free flour and stir. I also mix in the walnuts here but don’t over mix. Gently fold them in and then scoop the mixture into 12 muffin liners.
Fill them each to the top and top with a whole or chopped walnuts. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted, comes out clean. I haven’t done a lot of gluten-free baking, but apparently gluten-free takes longer to bake!
Let cool completely before unwrapping or else the wrappers may stick.

GFCarrotMuffins13Sep15-024©chicksphotoEat. Think about life. Be happy.

GFCarrotMuffins13Sep15-028©chicksphotoxxx

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no-bake MINI chocolate tarts!

21Nov14-059©chicksphotoI took this picture the other night and I immediately wanted to make creamsicles.

right?! you get it.

The day was HOT. And the weekend was HOTTER – Meaning that baking was never going to be a happening thing in my kitchen. Creamsicles seemed like a good compromise. Sweet and delicious – minus the heat. But then I couldn’t find popsicle molds and basically my whole world came shattering down as I stumbled around the Woolworths on Saturday night looking for some popsicle mold-like container. I’m a wild and crazy kinda lady on Saturday nights. I had these really solid intentions of cashew cream/coconut milk/orange zest amaz-sicles – but alas Woolworths really dropped the ball.

So. Now that you REALLY want a creamsicle… I bring you… no-bake chocolate tarts! YAYYYYY!

No-bakeTarts-23Nov14-007©chicksphotoThey are super cold. They are super delicious. And they are super easy. I have made this before in a ‘one big pie’ sort of way… but when I looked back on that recipe it had about 10 ingredients for the base alone which, again, just wasn’t a happening thing. So, in my lazyness, I eyeballed a bunch of ingredients into a food processor and hoped for the best. Here’s to me accurately remembering the recipe for you now! Woop!

No-bakeTarts-23Nov14-028©chicksphotoNo-Bake Chocolate Mini-Tarts
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and DEELIGHTFUL.

Ingredients

Crust
1 c. pecans
1/2 c. medjool dates
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. coconut oil

Filling
1 c. avocado flesh
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tbsp. arrowroot powder
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. oat milk
1/2 tbsp. peanut butter (totally optional)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. melted chocolate

For the crust, I crushed up the pecans first in the food processor and then added the other ingredients and mixed until it was well combined and forming a sticky ball. If you can press it together and it holds – its ready. You can used more or less dates – this crust is about consistency. Whatever works as long as it is sticking together well. I divided up the crust into 12 silicone cupcake liners and pressed it into the bottom. I put this in the freezer to chill as I made the filling.

Making the filling is just a matter of putting all the ingredients into the processor and mixing until it is as smooth as possible. I divided this mixture evenly onto each of the crusts and then allowed it to set inthe freezer for about 4 hours.

They should pop out of the liners very easily because of the coconut oil. They are and highly addictive. You can sprinkle some salt on top if you like because… delicious. 🙂

No-bakeTarts-23Nov14-010©chicksphoto

No-bakeTarts-23Nov14-039©chicksphotoYou can see here that I obviously ate about three of these before I finished photographing them. yum.

xxx

 

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Filed under Desserts, Pies

bloody mary, bloody mary, bloody mary…

Last year around this time I was hiking through the Annapurnas. Well almost – I actually just realized that at this time last year I was probably eating dinner at a tiny restaurant in Pokhara, Nepal called The Olive. It was: the best. For some reason, all over Nepal, happy hour consisted of cheap alcohol and… popcorn? I wasn’t mad about it. It’s quite apt that this is exactly what I have decided to make today. I only just realized that. WOO! Paralells!

Anyway, last Halloween I spent the night at a tea house called ‘The Excellent View’ and yeah, it was OKAY… I guess. 😉 However it did not feel like Halloween at all because a) no one was dressed up ridiculously b) there was no chocolate and c) I didn’t get any birthday carrot cake. LAME. Instead, I was considering the likleyhood of altitude sickness while scarfing down one of many apple pies. Like I said… it was only OK.  (So it was pretty much the best ever, but let’s talk Halloween)

This year though… This year I am bringing Halloween back in a big way. Australia is not huge on this holiday… so when I found out that our apartment building was taking part in trick or treating for the kiddies followed by a party for the adults I was more that a leetle bit excited. And the next day I made this happen:

DSC_2421

Only door in the building that is decorated. Sean may have mumbled something about ‘excessive’ when he got home from work that night. But I am not be deterred.

I’ve also watched no less than 7 horror movies including:

* The Loved Ones (What the WHAT!? This movie is effed up. Thank you to Andy and Jenn for that gem of a recommendation haha)
* The Conjuring (Demons are hella scary)
*Scream (1996 in ALL it’s glory)
*Scream 2 (cause… duh)
*I Know What You Did Last Summer (Classic and so so bad)
*(Half of) Halloween
* American Horror Story: Murder House (Heebie Jeebies GALORE)

So, while my family is celebrating Halloween and the many family birthdays in Toronto with our annual pumpkin carving party, I am sitting in sunny Sydney carving a pumpkin (which I am sure will rot before Halloween) whilst sipping the Ultimate Bloody Mary and eating the Ultimate Popcorn. Let’s talk about it.

DSC_2409

Lately, I have wanted a cocktail that is less about the sugar and fruit and more about the savoury. A Bloody Mary is where it’s AT. Now if we were in Canada, we might be having a Caesar – but being the vegan that I am -we’ll stick with a Bloody Mary. Let’s partner this delightful cocktail with another salty treat. You might think that Worcestershire sauce on popcorn is like, the weirdest thing ever and it very well might be. But this is how Mama Hicks has been making her popcorn for years and I’m not about to change it. However, I am about to add garlic butter and nutritional yeast. So there’s that. This popcorn is major. All in all – it’s a perfect Halloween combination, whether you’re in Nepal, Canada, or Australia.

Happy Halloween friends. 😀

DSC_2403

The Ultimate Bloody Mary
adapted from HonestlyYUM

Ingredients

2oz Vodka
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 big dash Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes Tabasco (or to taste)
2 pinches celery salt
1 pinch black pepper
a quarter of a tomato
Tomato juice to fill

DSC_2401

Garnishes

extra celery salt for rim
celery stick
lemon wedge
capers
gherkins
pimento stuffed olives

First, Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker (minus the tomato juice) and muddle. Fill the shaker with ice & shake for ten seconds until cold.
Pour the cocktail into a salted tall glass and top with tomato juice – garnish as you like. This is not a less is more situation. DRINK UP!

DSC_2407

Ultimate Popcorn

1/2 c. popcorn kernels
2 tsp. coconut oil
salt
pepper
1-2 tsp butter
chopped garlic or dried garlic granules
Worcestershiresauce
nutritional yeast
celery salt

Melt the coconut oil in large pot over a medium heat. Add the popcorn and a pinch of salt – make sure all the kernels are covered in oil and then cover the pot leaving a crack open for steam to escape. Melt your butter in a separate bowl and add the garlic to it. Wait for popcorn to pop (3-5 minutes) and wait until it begins to slow down – take the popcorn off the heat and allow the kernels to finish popping.  Toss the garlic butter, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and nutritional yeast into the popcorn and mix thoroughly. Nutritional Yeast is, as it’s names suggest, nutritional… but also it tastes a bit cheesey. You could also add parmesan and I’m sure it would be delightful… ENJOY!

DSC_2412

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Adventures in Australia, Cocktails, Snacks

pindarrrrrrrrrrr

Back in Canada, autumn is my favourite time of year and so October was my favourite month. Mostly because of Halloween. I love the colours and the smells, the cool weather, the abundance of pumpkin and dressing up like a fool in order to get candy from strangers. That’s totally normal.

However, the tables have turned… or rather the seasons. Because now Spring is in October, the leaves are not turning, the pumpkin is not aplenty and strangers have stopped giving me candy. It’s a dilemma. None of these things are happening, HOWEVER, the days are warmer, the sun is ridiculously bright, the air smells of eucalyptus and the ocean is calling, nay, it is screaming my name. So… you’ll have to excuse me as I have a date with the coast this weekend. We’re going to frolic, we’re going to knock down each other’s sand castles and we’re going to make each other’s hair unbearably tangley with salty sea breeze.

So while I do that, you can take a gander at some photos from a  hike that Sean and I did a couple weeks ago.

We took a train to a top secret location (you have to request the stop upon boarding) and then we hiked for two hours to Pindar cave.

We slept in the CAVE!

We set up our tent and we were visited by rats in the night. They’re weren’t gross though and I only saw their tails. buttt I could hear them trying to chew through our packs.

We took pictures of the crazy rocks.

We made fires and we cooked soup and made garlic bread.

We also drank cider.

Then we hiked back and flagged down a train.

And we stopped for coffee and some communal knitting in Brooklyn. Sean was mad that his fingers didn’t fit through the cappuccino cup handle.

Anyway, that was that. It was a really lovely camping trip.
Coming soon: The breakfast that fueled us for the hike to Pindar! 🙂

And after that, photos from my date with the coast.

xxx

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on the outs…

Sydney and I had a falling out.

To say that the relationship was strained would be an understatement. It began a couple months ago. I started to resent Sydney. I couldn’t understand it, why one city had to be so far away from my family. Toronto is my home and it always will be. I was angry at Sydney. I had a couple of tantrums during which I stamped my feet and I proclaimed that I wasn’t in love anymore. Sometimes you just fall out of love. It happens. My reasons were weak, but they were adding up; the cockroaches, the cold apartments, the untimely buses. It was all too much.

Sydney and I were on the outs.

And then as fate would have it, I had the opportunity to go home for a week. Just one week. It was not specifically to escape Sydney, I had family matters to attend to; but I think it was good to have some separation. It’s what every relationship needs once and a while.

So Sydney and I took some time apart.

But then I returned… And Sydney hadn’t let up. It was still a million miles* away from home which had become blatantly obvious from my 30 hour trek. True, I saw less cockroaches and yes, the apartment was warming up, but I still wasn’t convinced.

I still had feelings for Sydney, but they were confused.

And then one day I was on the ferry. I took a look around and I breathed in the salty ocean air. I looked across the harbour to see the bridge against a sunset sky and I thought “Hey Sydney, you’re not so bad.”

I had an overwhelming feeling of love. And I suppose sometimes that is all it takes. A little sea breeze and some perspective. From a ferry in the Sydney harbour. Because how many people get to take that perspective?

I live in Sydney. It’s a fact. It probably won’t always be that way though. And when it all changes, I will miss the ferries, I will miss the bridge, I will miss the salty air.

Sure, cockroaches run a muck in this city, but I’ll tell ya one thing; I haven’t seen one centipede scurry across my floor. And my nazi-like cleaning habits have been amped up in an effort to keep the cockroaches at bay.

And true enough, there is no central heating anywhere apart from the yoga room. So yes, my apartment is cold. But I brought extra sweaters back from Canada and for Christ sake… I AM Canadian. Come on Hicks, suck it up.

And… well the buses will never change. So I’ll start riding my bike.

And yes. OK. It’s a million miles away from Toronto, but a trip is a trip. No matter how long. If family comes first, which it most certainly does, then no amount of plane trips or dollars spent on flights will keep me away. In the grand scheme of things 30 hours is not the end of the world.

So Sydney, I propose a truce. I will stop resenting you if you promise work on that continental drift thing.

Ok, sweet.

xxx

*Sydney is actually 15, 562 miles from Toronto. Fact.

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it’s the JAM PLAN. and the queen loves it!

Did you know that I’m British?

Yeah, I’m just being real with you.


Me and the queen, we’re buds. Kate and I, (Middleton of course) we go way back. Sometimes she comes over for tea and scones and we discuss British things… like scones. and… the queen. And her excess of hats!

Are those the only British things I know? hmmm…


I’m not actually English at all, but I didn’t have a Scottish Flag tea towel on hand. Sooo…


I save my fine china for the Royals, obviously. And I’m also speaking to them about adopting a vegan diet. I think this is what British people do. We bake scones and clean our houses in case the queen comes for tea.

And when she does come,  (because she will) we serve her homemade scones, with homemade jam and whipped coconut cream. Totally vegan. and the queen is PUMPED about it.

Pip pip. Cheerio.

You know my scone recipe already. So just sub the cranberries for raspberries! It’s your call!

Jam though… JAM is a new addition.

It’s the Jam Plan!

20 minute JAM PLAN!

Strawberry/Raspberry Jam
(Adapted from OhSheGlows)

3 c. of strawberries and raspberries (I used a combo of fresh and frozen)

1.5 tbsp. chia seeds

2 tbsp. maple syrup

boiling

Bring the maple syrup and fruit to a boil in a saucepan. Stir frequently because the fruit will burn/stick to the pan. Allow it to simmer for 5-10 minutes and then add the chia seeds. Allow mixture to simmer and firm up for about 15 minutes. Keep stirring!

Put the jam in your finest china bowls and wait for the queen.

If you make the jam and scones, she will come.

xxx

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Filed under Adventures in Australia, Breakfast

Rice Puddin’ Redeux… sayyyyy word

So. Sean went away with work last week. He left on Monday.

And… my parents left Sydney after 7 weeks of awesomeness… on Wednesday.

Needless to say, by Thursday night I was a lonely little lady sitting in my shoebox apartment with nothing better to do than bring baking back. In a big way.

Sean arrived home on Friday to a homemade and all raw Mexican dinner (experimental, yet delicious), 12 (okay 11) apple crisp muffins, and 4 cups of vegan rice puddin’.

pudddddddin!

Friday was a big day. A BIG DAY.

Things were out of hand, to say the least. My lunch consisted of spoonfuls of semi-cooked rice pudding, muffin batter and then one hot-hot straight from the oven muffin. It burned my mouth a little, but it’s cool. It made of for it in delicious-ness.

Anyway, today I’ll focus on the puddin’. You might remember back in my milk eatin’ days I made some rice pudding for my mother. Even though I colossally screwed up the process of that batch, it was still creamy and delightful. So I thought I would try my hand at a soy milk version.

Rice pudding

1/2 c. arborio rice

4 c. soy milk

1/4 c. raw sugar

1/2 vanilla bean

1/4 – 1/2 c. raisins

In a large saucepan, add the milk, sugar and rice. Bring the milk to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Allow the milk to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pudding begins to thicken.

Taste the rice for doneness. It will still be pretty soupy, but trust me, the mixture will firm up as it cools.

When you take the rice off the element, stir in the vanilla bean and raisins.

Cool OR serve immediately. On a wooden spoon. Saucepan to mouth. Skip the bowl.

Delish.

so yummy...

This was alarmingly easy. Do it!

x

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Filed under Adventures in Australia, Puddings