Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ethiopian Food and Holiday Baking List

As I signed into the blog to write this post I noticed my last recipe was a split pea soup. And here I come to talk about another split pea recipe. Hopefully you like split peas! This one is different though; it is Ethiopian! I have wanted to take a stab at making an Ethiopian dish ever since my first taste at Wass Ethiopian in Hamilton. Ethiopian food is very vegetarian friendly, healthy, and flavourful, and if you haven't tried it, you must! I saved this recipe from Vegan Dad over a year ago and finally got around to making it yesterday. I followed the recipe pretty closely, substituting real butter for the margarine and leaving out the berbere because I didn't have any on hand. I found a place to buy berbere in Guelph but I just haven't got around to actually purchasing it. While the recipe turned out quite fine without it, berbere really gives authentic flavour to Ethiopian dishes and I look forward to adding it next time.
I save recipes that I find online into Evernote, and I literally have over a thousand recipes saved (I know...). I made a pact to myself to actually get cooking these recipes last January and since then I have made 87 of them! I can search by ingredient so it makes it easy to pull recipes like this one out that I had completely forgotten about. Sometimes though, when it comes to Holiday and special occasion baking, I can't find a recipe that I want to use! Mostly because I am so indecisive and there are just too many options. I had a bit of a break between exams the other day and I decided to make my Holiday baking list. I did find a couple from my Evernote archives while the others were more recent findings. I narrowed it down to the following recipes:

As soon as I saw these posted I knew I wanted to make them. This is my kind of cookie.

Oh She Glows was on a roll when she followed up the cookies with this recipe which makes a great edible gift. It is always good to have edible gifts hanging around for last minute host gifts, so I hope to make these as well.

These brownies look nice and dense and the ingredient list looks nice and healthy. This is also a good treat to have on hand for unexpected company over the Holidays, as they make a healthy snack if you end up having lots of leftovers.

Dreamy bars are right! I have had this recipe saved since August and have been waiting for a good time to make them. The Holidays are definitely the right time. These bars look rich, filled with nutrient dense ingredients that you can feel good about eating. As the recipe describes, a little goes along way with these guys. I only hope the end result lives up to my potentially inflated expectations.

Well there you have it, this is what I will have in tow with me to Holiday parties this year! I am looking forward to my last two exams being over so I can get cracking!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Curried Potato Split Pea Soup

I have been on a major lentil kick lately. Three lentil dishes in one week! They are just so versatile, warm, and comforting. However, I think I need a change. One thing I like about lentils is that they are inexpensive and relatively quick to prepare (no soaking like other legumes). While I was at Bulk Barn, I noticed split peas are 2/3 the cost of lentils, and also do not require soaking. So I decided to give them a try. I have never cooked with them before but figured root vegetables would work well.

Curried Potato Split Pea Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
3 small onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium potatoes, diced to 1 cm cubes
3 medium carrots, shredded
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 tbsp curry powder
1 bay leaf
2 cups green split peas
5 cups water
3 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
2. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes until soft.
3. Add garlic and celery and sauté for 3 minutes.
4. Add the potato and carrots and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add curry powder and stir to coat.
5. Add split peas, stir to coat, and then add the water, stock, and bay leaf.
6. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer, place lid on pot to allow steam to escape.
7. Cook until peas are tender and falling apart. At this point you can reduce to desired consistency, or puree the soup and then reduce the liquid. I partially pureed the soup.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Oh the visual appeal of a pureed soup...
This soup turned out rather good. It was my first time having split peas and I enjoyed them! They have a bit more of a "green" flavour than lentils, if that makes any sense. Originally I planned on making this soup with thyme and rosemary, but decided last minute to make it curry flavoured, which I really enjoyed. This won't be the last time I cook with split peas so there is always next time to try out some other flavours.

It is crazy to think that the Holidays are just around the corner! This school term has flown by, exams are in less than two weeks. I haven't thought too much about Holiday recipes but I have a nice three week break over Christmas to do lots of cooking and baking. Hopefully you will hear from me before then. Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stick it to Fast Food with a Red Cabbage Gratin

I heard about a campaign called Stick it to Fast Food through Dr. Yoni Freedhofe's Blog Weighty Matters. I wanted to post about it because I think it is an amazing example of how we can all make a difference. It was started by a group of Ontario high school students who wanted to bring awareness to the issue of fast food. The end result was petitioning for their fellow students to boycott fast food for the month of November. I have a hard time handling the number of moustaches this time of year, but I can sure handle, or celebrate, a movement such as this one. You can check out their website here. They have a lot of resources as to why fast food is so terrible and recipes to help cook great meals at home.

I hope to also be a resource for putting a healthy meal on the table in a timely manner. The recipe I am posting about today sure fits the bill. Since purchasing the red cabbage at the market for the Spicy Cabbage Slaw, we are still working our way through it. Cabbages are great like that; inexpensive and bountiful. I began searching for specific recipes to use it which isn't something I do often. I came across a gratin recipe from the New York Times and I immediately (as in the next day) make the recipe. And then I made it again. It is easy, very accommodating to different tastes, and can be made well in advance which is perfect for those busy evenings. A great way to use up leftover rice or veggies!

Red Cabbage Gratin slightly adapted from the New York Times
Serves 4-6

1 small bunch of greens (I have used kale and swiss chard)
2 cups finely chopped red cabbage
6 mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
heaping 1/2 cup quinoa (or rice or other whole grain)
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese (could also use an aged cheddar)

1. Blanch the greens in a large pot of boiling water for 1-2 min, and immediately cool in a bowl of ice water. Chop coarsely.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
5. Add the cabbage and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes, under the cabbage softens.
6. Add the greens, stir to combine, and add salt and pepper to taste.
7. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the cheese, parsley and grain and mix well. Add the vegetables and stir to combine.
8. Grease a baking dish with butter and pour in the egg mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.
I highly recommend you make this recipe. You can add and take away vegetables at your leisure, although I hope you try out this cabbage and kale combination. It is filling and comforting which is perfect for the stormy weather we have been having. With this recipe in hand, you can have dinner on the table in not time, and Stick it to Fast Food.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spicy Cabbage Slaw with Peanuts

So many ideas but so little time. That describes my cooking situation right now. I have lots of ideas that I need to try out, but I must wait until the weekend. I am hoping some of them turn out. In the meantime, I am going to share a recipe which I thought I had shared before. This is probably by 7th time making this recipe which speaks to my love for it. Each time it comes out a bit different, depending on how much cabbage I use, and I have served it in a number of different ways. The original recipe source uses the slaw in rice paper rolls. I did that a couple times, but have also put it in chickpea flour tortillas, served it with rice, and most recently served it alongside some spaghetti squash. While the  is a little bit daunting, due to the excessive amount of chopping and mincing, it is fairly easy and quick to put together. The leftovers taste great which means it is a good way to use up those giant cabbages that are popping up this time of year. I have listed the ingredients based on my most recent rendition of the recipe (which was quite a large batch), but the recipe is easily scaled down and the amount of seasoning and spices can be adjusted to your taste.

Spicy Cabbage Slaw with Peanuts slightly adapted from A Gluten Free Day
Serves 6-10

3 tbsp + 1 tbsp olive oil
13 cups of diced red cabbage
12 cloves of garlic (or 8-10 large cloves), minced
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp chili pepper flakes
6 tbsp tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg's
4 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup raw peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a single layer of peanuts on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until evenly roasted. Allow to cool.
2. In a large enough pot, heat 3 tbsp olive oil on medium-low heat. Add the cabbage and cook until just softening.
3. Transfer cabbage from pot into a large bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to pot if no oil is left behind. Add garlic, ginger, chili pepper flakes and tamari. Heat for ~3 min until fragrant.
4. Add cooked cabbage and stir to coat well. Add rice vinegar and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and serve as desired. Chop peanuts and sprinkle over the cabbage when serving.

This was definitely the spiciest version of this recipe I have ever made. The homemade chili pepper flakes have varying heat so it is always hard to tell how much to add. You can always use fresh chili pepper to have a bit more control, or leave it out all together if spicy is not your thing. I had the cabbage alongside some spaghetti squash this time, but is also great with rice or wrapped in rice paper as mentioned above. Don't forget the peanuts though, they are fantastic addition.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Gingerbread Granola

Happy Thanksgiving to all! This weekend has been really nice, and I have managed to stop and appreciate all of the beauty that fall brings. This afternoon I will be going for a hike in Hamilton with my parents and I can't wait to get an amazing view of the changing colours of fall. Before you know it, it will be over! If you make this granola, you can transport yourself back into fall whenever you want. It is the perfect combination of sweet and spice. I am going away for a few days this week and wanted to make a granola to have for breakfasts at the hotel. I was looking through my bookmarked recipes and there were just too many granola recipes to choose from! Granola is a pretty easy thing to throw together, so after getting some ideas I decided to just wing it and make my own. The addition of molasses was inspired by A Full Measure of Happiness and the addition of the millet was inspired by Oh She Glows. When I first pulled it out of the oven, I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but after it cooled down and turned crunchy, I was in love. This recipe is a winner in my books.

Gingerbread Granola

2 cups oats
1 cup almonds, chopped
1 cup walnut halves, chopped
1/4 cup millet
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

1 tso vanilla
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp molasses

1/4 raisins

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Combine oats, almonds, walnuts, millet and spices in a large bowl.
3. Melt together coconut oil, honey, molasses, and vanilla. Add to the dry mix and stir to coat everything well.
4. Spread out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and make for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
5. After removing from the oven, mix in raisins and allow to cool.
6. Once completely cooled, break into pieces and store in an air tight container.

Like I said, this recipe is a winner. It is a perfect granola to make for a friend or to enjoy on the holidays. It can be easily customized with your own preference for nuts or dried fruit, but make sure you keep the volumes the same because there was the perfect amount of flavouring here. It may be hard to try new granola recipes for quite some time...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

First gingerbread pancakes and now pumpkin oatmeal? I am in full fledged fall mode. The only raw vegetables I have been eating is some winter lettuce. All other vegetables in my diet right now consist of roasted root vegetables, squashes, and sauteed winter greens such as kale. I love this time of year. Now on the squash front, I have officially gotten out of control. Last week I bought 4 squash at the grocery store as they were now only 99 cents a pound. This week at the farmers market, I was overjoyed with the overflow of squash. They are such beautiful vegetables. One farm stand had them 4 for 5 dollars; a complete steal! I of course picked up 4. Now I have a pile of squash in my cupboards and I couldn't be happier.
In the past two weeks I have also purchases 6 pumpkins. I roasted them, and pureed the flesh. I also cleaned and roasted the deliciously plump seeds. In case you are wondering, I have about 16 cups of pumpkin puree in my freezer, all in convenient 1 cup portions. There is going to be a lot of pumpkin recipes on the blog this year; I can feel it. I had a pumpkin loving friend visit this weekend and it seemed only natural to make a breakfast that incorporated some pumpkin, which lead to me creating this recipe, which was based off a stove top version I have made in the past.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal
Serves 4

1 cup steel cut oats
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 cups water

1. Melt coconut oil and add to the steel cut oats in the crock pot. Stir to coat.
2. Add the spices and mix well.
3. Add water, vanilla, and pumpkin and stir to combine.
4. Cook on low for 8 hours.

It is wonderful to wake up to the smell of pumpkin spice in your kitchen. All you have to do is open up the crock pot, give it a stir, and you have a hot breakfast all ready for you. I topped my oatmeal with almond butter but of course maple syrup is also a wise choice. This recipe can easily be adapted to a stove top version if you don't have a slow cooker or just can't wait until tomorrow morning to make this.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Coconut Pancakes

I haven't made pancakes in months. They used to be my go to weekend breakfast, but it has been quite some time. The summer just doesn't  feel like the time to make pancakes. Today was my first weekend in Guelph so I was excited to get up early and hit up the farmers market. Upon my return I promised I would make some pancakes. I had a recipe tucked away for gingerbread pancakes and I decided to give it a try on this crisp, fall-like morning. The recipe called for yogurt which I did not have so I substituted for a can of coconut milk. I made some more modifications as a result and they turned out quite nicely.

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Coconut Pancakes adapted from Jenna Weber
Serves 4-6

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp coconut oil (can be reduced or eliminated if you like)
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk (could have probably done with 1 cup)
1 can coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Whisk together the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
3. Add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined. The batter will be VERY thick.
4. On a greased (I used butter) skillet scoop 1/4 cup of batter at a time, flattening with a spoon to achieve desired thickness. Once the side of the pancakes are beginning to cook, flip to finish the other side.

These pancakes are very dense and VERY filling, but very delicious. I normally can eat as many pancakes as my heart desires but these I could only have a couple. It must have been all those healthy fats. I am not a huge fan of the flavour of coconut oil so every time I find a way to incorporate a lot of coconut oil without tasting it that much, I am pretty happy. This is one of those recipes where you don't taste the coconut too much because of all the spices. I wasn't sure the coconut would work well with the gingerbread but it did; it made the gingerbread taste rich, not coconuty.
I like my real maple syrup like a good Canadian does
My trip to the Farmer's Market was a successful one and I picked up lots of local goodies. I have some plans for my purchases such as some homemade tomato sauce and something that is loaded with beets. I also purchased some kimchi which I have never had before but always wanted to try. It is a fermented food which is something I have mentioned I wanted to start getting into. Wish me luck!
Clockwise from bottom left: kimchi, apples, beets, romaine lettuce, broccoli, whole wheat sourdough bread, fresh eggs, beans, and roma tomatoes.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Roasted chicken? Is she for real? Yes, I am for real. You may remember my post over 4 months ago explaining the reasons why I don't eat meat. Those reasons still hold true in my mind, but a significant change has happened. To go along with this new chapter in my life, I have also decided to incorporate some meat back in my diet, but not just any meat. The reasons for this are based on a lot of research I have been doing on the healthfulness of animal products when raised traditionally. I will save those details for another post, as I think it will make a lovely post on it's own, full of information and something I really want to share. For now, I want to share how I went about acquiring this chicken which considering my stance of animal products, you bet did not come from the local grocery store; and of course also share a recipe.

Here is excerpt from a previous blog post:

"[My lack of eating animal products] will inevitably shift again one day, maybe even introducing meat back into my life when I have the means to buy healthy meat directly from a farmer for special occasions (I'll have to stop being a student first). But only time will tell."

You guessed it, I bought this chicken direct from a farmer! One of the reasons I was so excited to move to Guelph was because of the local food community here. Not only is this town surrounded by farms but the city is probably one of the best in Ontario for being able to access local, sustainable and organic foods. Upon securing housing in Guelph I immediately started looking for local food sources. A simple search for Guelph CSAs eventually led me to the humble site for Magda Farms.

At Magda Farm, they use a grazing system where the chickens are moved twice a day to have access to fresh pasture, and follow the movement of the beef cattle. The waste of the chickens is then added back into the earth and feeds the grazing vegetation. This is a cyclical system that prevents most of the environmental  problems that have resulted from factory farming. This farm is about a 15-20 minute drive from our house, so you can't get more local than that! In addition, the slaughter of the animals is done at a nearby family run processing plant with the highest ethical standards. In my mind, you can't get more sustainable that this, unless you go and hunt the bird yourself, which I am just not cut out for.

We purchased two chickens in quarters, skin-on bone-in, at $3.59 a pound. That is more than what you pay at the grocery store but my money is going directly to the farmer, and is purchasing healthier meat, not fattened with grain, or pumped full of antibiotics and water solutions. This meat will also last a while for us. I am incorporating meat, not becoming a carnivore, so once a week or two our dinner will include some pastured chicken. This order, combined with another order we will receive in October, will probably last us until the end of November at least.

For our first meal, I simply roasted a leg piece of a quarter chicken with some root vegetables and herbs. I wanted to be able to really taste the flavour of the meat itself, so I could taste the difference from the conventional chicken in my memories.  And boy, did I taste the difference.

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
Serves 2-3

chicken (I used about 1.5-2 lb leg quarter, skin on. You could just as well roast a whole chicken here, adjusting cooking times accordingly)
1 onion
4-5 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
pint of string green beans, stemmed and halved
5 garlic cloves
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Chop veggies and arrange in a roasting pan. Toss in olive oil, and season with S+P and rosemary to taste.
3. Clear a bit of pan in the centre and place the chicken meaty side up. 

I may have forgotten to take an "after roasting" photo...
4. Roast for 20 minutes uncovered.
5. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
6. Remove cover and continue to cook until skin has darkened and the chicken is properly cooked (about 10-15 min).
7. Allow to rest for about 10-15 minutes until serving.

The chicken was magnificent. It was delicious and unlike any other chicken I have had in the past. It was moist, with lots of dark meat, and I swear there were muscles on that leg I had never seen on a conventionally raised bird before. The juices that were released from the meat mixed with the vegetables resulted in a wonderful broth that went well with some rye sourdough bread.  I look forward to the next meal incorporating this pastured chicken. To get the most out of the bird, I saved the bones, stowed away in the freezer, until I have more to make some broth.

The majority of the recipes I will share on this blog will still be vegetarian, as that is still how I choose to eat on a regular basis and when I am outside of my home. I think this arrangement fits well with my previous thoughts of not classifying a diet, because there are always exceptions. For me, it is my pastured meat from Magda Farms.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Spicy Dill and Garlic Pickles

Being in a new kitchen makes me want to try lots of new things. A couple items on my list for trying soon are homemade fermented condiments and sprouting grains. I am not going to lie, fermenting and canning foods scares me a little bit as I feel like so much can go wrong. However, I know how beneficial (and delicious) fermented foods can be and I also love the idea of preserving the plentiful fruits and vegetables for the winter months, so I wanted to dip my toe into this area. Before I jumped right in, I thought I would make some refrigerator pickles which do not require fermenting and canning, but is a baby step in that direction. When I saw small pickling cucumbers at the farmers market, I knew my time had come. I looked up a few recipes online and then just went with it! I found a vinegar to water ratio of 5:3 when no sugar was used so I stuck with that, adding in whatever spices and seasonings I deemed appropriate. This was the result, spicy dill and garlic pickles.

Spicy Dill and Garlic Pickles
Makes 1 Jar

2.5 cups vinegar
1.5 cup water
2.5 tbsp coarse salt
3/4 pint pickling pickles, sliced into quarters
1/2 chili pepper sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1.5 tsp dried dill (best to use fresh, put whole sprigs into jar)
1/2 tsp peppercorns

1. In a pot, combine vinegar and water and bring to a boil. remove from heat and stir in salt to dissolve.
2. Allow the vinegar mixture to cool for 5 min while you put the cucumbers, garlic, chili peppers and spices into the jar. It is best to put the spices at the bottom of the jar and then top with the cucumbers.

I would put the dill at the bottom next time. I would also use fresh if I had it.
3. Pour the slightly cooled vinegar mixture over top of the cucumbers. Lightly put on lid and allow to cool to room temperature. The lid may seal slightly while cooling, unseal the lid before refrigerating.
4. Once at room temperature, transfer to the fridge to chill for 3 days.

4 days later

These pickles were crisp, tangy and just a little spicy. I may add some red chili flakes into the mix next time. These pickles are for true tangy pickle lovers, but sugar can always be added if a sweeter variety is preferred. 

These pickles were really easy to make and just take a little forethought. I popped them in the fridge while I went away for the weekend, and came home to some delicious pickles. These should last in the fridge 7-10 days, and may just become a staple in my house. Pickling cucumbers can be substituted with sliced english cucumbers or other crisp vegetables. The possibilities are endless!

Next on my path to fermenting and canning: homemade chili sauce. Don't hold your breath though...

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Chapter

It has officially been over a month since my last post. The hiatus was semi-planned and was due to a lot of changes going on right now. Not only was I a little bit too busy to sit and write a good post, but my cooking predominantly consisted of putting together fresh salads from my backyard garden. So I guess I didn't do much cooking at all. In the last month, I have finished writing my Master's thesis, attended Lollapalooza in Chicago having the greatest time ever, successfully defended my thesis, and moved to Guelph, Ontario to pursue dietetics. That is right, I am on the path to becoming a Registered Dietitian! Being an undergraduate student again will be a change, but I am excited to be preparing for a career this time around. The blog will most likely evolve with this change, potentially focussing on nutrition a little more, but recipes will still be at the heart of Food for Fuel.

The new kitchen is mostly set up. It is small, but adorable and perfect for just the two of us. I am excited to be cooking in it, and to create recipes there. Last night, A made a variation of my Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili which is his go to meal. He made some substitutions based on what we had on hand. He used jarred tomatoes from my Nonna and Tatone's garden and chili peppers from my parent's garden. We served it with rice and goat cheese. It was delicious, spicy and comforting. I look forward to creating many more meals in our new kitchen.

I took this picture with my A's Nikon DSLR camera. I can't say that I will use it all the time, or that the photography will improve, but maybe when I have a little more time on my hands I'll experiment with shooting in manual. Right now, the speed/ease of iPhone photos and auto settings are just too good to pass up.

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and is ready for the approaching fall season. I think heading back to school has made me extra excited for the leaves to change, and for the pumpkins to be in season.

My favourite reading spot in the apartment

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Quinoa Salad

This summer has turned out to be a lot better than I expected it to be. I didn't make very many plans in advanced because I wasn't sure I would have time, yet fun activities keep popping up a long the way. I recently had a spontaneous afternoon visit from a friend to catch up. We had plans to make dinner, but I wasn't really sure what dinner would be. I didn't think too much about it until dinner time actually rolled around. I threw this salad together and it turned out surprisingly well. The dressing was based off of memory from Oh She Glows and I forgot to add the mustard (and intentionally left out the maple syrup). I suggest you do the same, as it worked really well with this salad.

Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Quinoa Salad
Serves 4-6

1 very large sweet potato, chopped into small cubes
olive oil
garlic powder
salt and pepper

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1 bunch swiss chard, chopped
1 can chickpeas
double this dressing from Oh She Glows (minus the mustard and syrup)
sunflower seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Toss sweet potato in olive oil and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Spread out evenly in a large roasting pan and roast in oven for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. You want the potatoes to be cooked well and browned on the outside.
3. Meanwhile, bring the quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and cover, for 20 minutes.
4. Make the dressing and allow to sit at room temperature until the sweet potatoes and quinoa are cooked and have cooled a bit.
5. Combine sweet potatoes, quinoa, swiss chard, chickpeas, and dressing all together and stir to combine. Serve topped with sunflower seeds, warm or cold.

eating leftovers at my desk the next day
This salad was the result of throwing together what I had on hand, and it turned out great. A nice quick dinner which would make a great picnic or potluck dish. I hope you are all having as good of a summer as I am, spending quality time with good friends.

Monday, July 2, 2012

White Bean and Pesto Hash

The other day I picked up my favourite fresh pesto from Goodness Me. I first tried this pesto a few years ago when living in Waterloo, and ever since I cannot bring myself to buy a jarred variety. It is kind of pricey so I don't buy it often, maybe a couple times a year. I have expressed my love for the corn and basil combination before, and I will do it again. I love basil with corn. This recipe is again inspired by Heather's Quinoa on 101 Cookbooks, which I make just about every time I have pesto on hand. The recipe is really meant to be an inspiration and not something you follow to the tee. It is about combining a grain with whatever veggies you have on hand, and bringing it all together with a good quality pesto. I opted to not use a grain this time and instead used roasted potatoes. I also left out the tofu and instead added white beans which make the dish feel hearty and a little creamy. I think I might just make this version again one day.

White Bean and Pesto Hash
Serves 4

5 potatoes, chopped into cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
garlic powder

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, died
1 cup corn
2-3 cups cooked white beans (I didn't actually measure this)
2 garlic cloves, grated
6 bok choy, chopped and whites separated from greens
pesto to taste (lightly coat the mixture)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Toss potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Roast covered for 30 minutes. Stir and roast uncovered for 15-20 min stirring halfway through.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium low. Add onions and the white part of bok choy. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until fragrant.
  5. Add corn, white beans, and garlic and cook until heated through.
  6. Add bok choy and continue to stir into the mixture until leaves have begun to wilt.
  7. Add pesto and stir to combine.
  8. Mix with roasted potatoes until fully combined. Serve warm.
As I was eating this I thought this would make a great savoury breakfast utilizing some leftovers. It all went so well together and was a nice surprise for putting it all together so quickly. This dish is only as good as the pesto so make sure you use a good one, fresh if possible. You will be glad that you did.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Creamy Avocado and Dill Dressing

While I haven't written a post about my family's garden so far this spring, the plants are growing strong. I have been busy with school and wasn't able to help plant the garden, so I haven't taken much notice to what has been going on back there.  My Dad has gone to the homeland (Italy) for a bit and I have been left in charge to take care of the garden so I have been spending more time watering and monitoring the growth of the plants. We have had lots of lettuce and in a few days we will have some garlic scapes and kale. We may also have some zucchini which I think is crazy! That plant has grown more overnight than I could ever have imagined, along with fast growing fruit under those blossoms.

With all the fresh lettuce I have been incorporating lots of big salad into my meals. My go-to dressing is just to drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then add some crushed black pepper and sea salt. When I have some more time, I like to try out new recipes which have a few more ingredients but have much more interesting flavours. Last summer I was hooked on this dressing. I recently made this potato salad from Oh She Glows and tried out the extra dressing on a regular old salad. It was fantastic! This really inspired me to get working on a dressing that I have been wanting to make for a while, a creamy avocado dill dressing inspired by a dressing from a vegan restaurant in Montreal, Aux Vivres. To be honest, it has been a while since I had this dressing and I can't even remember what it tasted like, but it definitely incorporated dill and avocado. The following recipe is probably far off from the inspiration but was tasty none the less.

Creamy Avocado and Dill Dressing
1 avocado
juice of 1.5 lemon
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste*

1. Blend altogether in a food processor

If you love lemon, you will love this dressing. It tastes even better the next day so if you can make it ahead of time, do it! The lemon prevents the avocado from turning brown so the dressing stays a lovely green colour. Now, normally I don't add much salt to my food but this time I have to say, do not skip on it. I sprinkled some salt and pepper on the resulting salad and it was definitely needed. It helped to round out the lemon a little bit. The dressing was good to spice up a salad of just lettuce, or of black beans and cucumbers. This would also work well as a dip for veggies or crackers as it is fairly thick in consistency.

I hope everyone is enjoying the weather and all of the fresh produce that comes with it!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Omega-3 Loaded Vegan Overnight Oats

Considering how often I eat overnight oats (averaging 5 times per week for the last 2 years) it is amazing I have only mentioned them twice, once in passing, and once with a recipe. I have my favourite version, which includes banana, oats, ground flax, chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk, and almond butter. I have substituted banana with raspberries and blueberries, I've added shredded unsweetened coconut, chopped almonds, hemp seeds, cinnamon, jam, and vanilla extract, and I've also come up with an 'overnight oats in a flash,' where you cook some oatmeal in the morning, allow it to cool, and then add all the fix in's just like overnight oats.

Have you heard about the importance of omega-3's fatty acids? While I have always been a fan, lately I have read more into the subject, particularly the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (Maybe one day I will write a post about it but not today). Let's just say it made me really want to up my omega-3 intake. Omega-6 fatty acids are everywhere and you really need to put in some effort to increase omega-3 consumption, especially being a vegetarian and not eating fish. Vegetarian sources include nuts, flax, hemp, and chia seeds. The best sources which have much more omega-3 fatty acids than omega 6's, are flax and chia. Hence why I like to load my overnight oats up with those seeds. Which lead to this version of overnight oats.

Omega-3 Loaded Vegan Overnight Oats
Serves 1

1 banana, chopped
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
2 tbsp large flake rolled oats
1 cup non-dairy unsweetened milk (Soy or almond work well here)
1 tbsp almond butter

1. The night before, mix together the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. In the morning, give the mixture a stir and add some more milk to reach desired consistency.
3. Top with your choice of nut butter.

The picture looks gastly but anyone who has tried overnight oats knows they taste much better than they look. The great thing about overnight oats is they are so customizable, everyone has their favourite recipe. I don't make my oats like this every day (chia seeds are expensive and consuming 2 tbsp a day would put  me in the poor house) but it is just another variation you should give a try!

I don't normally include (or even calculate) nutritional information but his recipe here has an awesome nutritional profile for breakfast and I thought I would share it.

Nutritional Information:

calories              450
carboydrate       50 g
     fiber             15.6 g
protein              12.6
fat                     24.8
     saturated      2.2 g
     omega-3      5.7 g
     omega-6      4.0 g

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal

For Mother's day, our family was all over the place, but came together for dinner to celebrate Mom. I saw some rhubarb in the store (the plant in our garden is not quite ready) and knew immediately that I had to make a dessert for this dinner. After all, strawberry rhubarb flavoured anything's is Mom favourite. I made a strawberry rhubarb crisp which was fantastic. I used this gluten free recipe from Gluten Free Goddess with a few modifications: almonds instead of pecans, oats instead of quinoa flakes, sucanat instead of brown sugar; and it was marvellous! It made me love rhubarb, something I was always not a fan of. I had some left over strawberries and rhubarb that I didn't want to go to waste, so I put together this baked oatmeal recipe. A more wholesome breakfast version of the dessert crisp.

Strawberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal
Serves 6-8

1.5 cups steel cut oats
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp dried ground ginger
1/4 cup good quality coconut oil
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup chopped strawberries
5 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large casserole dish, whisk together the first 4 ingredients.
3. Melt the coconut oil and pour over the oats, mixing well to combine.
4. Add the fruit and milk and stir.
5. Bake for 1 hour and then allow to cool to room temp. The oatmeal will be runny when removing from the oven, but will thicken up as it cools down. I liked the consistency once cooled down before refrigerating. Refrigerating thickens it up even more but becomes soft again once heated in the microwave.

This oatmeal was delicious! It made a great breakfast for my Mom and I during a busy week. I would definitely added another cup of strawberries if we had some. This oatmeal is not very sweet so a tsp or two of maple syrup would be nice along with some chopped nuts. Since I have been eating oatmeal for breakfast nearly ever week day for the last...I don't know...3 years?!?..I am always looking for new ways to make it. This was my first baked oatmeal and I was definitely a fan. Lately I have also been making a new variety of overnight oats which actually has very little oats. Stay tuned for that recipe. Hopefully it won't be weeks before I get around to posting again. This Master's thesis thing really gets in the way of cooking/blogging ; )

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Polenta with Rapini, Portobello Mushrooms and Avocado

I have been eating a lot of simple meals lately. As spring approaches I am trending toward fresh vegetables and lots of greens. While this recipe still has comfort food written all over it, usually saved for the winter months, it comes in handy for rainy days like this week is bringing. I have had a large bag of course cornmeal for a while and have been meaning to make some polenta. This post on Seasonal Ontario Food inspired this oven baked variety. It is a very hands off way of making polenta which I am sure will become my standard method for making polenta now. I find that polenta goes really well with salty and garlicy foods. It also goes well with hardy greens. This hardly classifies as a recipe, but is a great starting point for using polenta if you haven't made it before. Try it and then make it yours!

Polenta with Rapini, Portobello Mushrooms, and Avocado

Serves 3

1 cup course cornmeal
4 cups water
1/2 large bunch of rapini, chopped (or other hearty greens like kale)
3 portobello mushrooms, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 avocado, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix water and cornmeal in baking dish and bake for 1 hour.
3. Give the polenta a stir to ensure doneness, and bake for another 10 minutes if needed.
4. While finishing the polenta off, add mushrooms to a pan and heat over medium heat.
5. Once mushrooms begin to soften and release water, add greens and garlic. Sauté until greens are wilted and mushrooms are cooked.
6. Top polenta with greens and some chopped avocado.
7. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why I Don't Eat Meat

Something I tend not to talk about too much on this blog is vegetarianism. Back in May 2011, I mentioned that I was no longer going to be eating meat "for the time being". During my trip to Italy in August 2011, I had meat/seafood, but other than that animal flesh has not knowingly crossed my lips. Animal flesh. It sounds weird to write it like that, but that is what it is. Some people cannot stand the thought that the protein on their plate used to be a living and breathing animal. This is how disconnected we have become from our food.

I haven't written about my reasons for becoming vegetarian on this blog as I am always afraid of offending people. But I have decided to share my reasons today, as I am not afraid anymore. Every month of my vegetarian 'journey' has come with some more insight and development of my opinion on the issue. Some of this results from reading the news, watching a TED talk, reading a new book, or simply thinking things through. One book I recently read, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer really got to me. Most of the facts and figures in the book were not new to me, but the way the book was written instilled me with a little bit of empowerment. It made me want to spread the word, share the facts with those around me, start a revolution, and start a protest. Now, the urge to protest and start a revolution died off quickly, but the urge to spread the word has not. I used to be afraid of offending people around me by sharing my opinions, but I realized I cannot go on this way. So here it journey through a changing relationship with eating animals.

My estrangement with meat began about 6 years ago when I moved out of residence and started cooking on my own. Looking back I would hardly consider it cooking but I did make my own meals. I loved salads and simple meals. Meat was rarely in the picture. It was expensive and took some serious skills to cook. Skills I didn't have at the time. I also never felt very comfortable handling raw meat. My chicken was usually grilled to oblivion and then tossed in a salad to get the job done. A couple years later this aversion got worse. I became aware of the bacteria present on meat and issues of food safety after one of my coop work terms. Handling meat became a bigger aversion to me. I would only eat meat after thorough inspection for doneness and I would never order meat at a restaurant. After all, "I don't know what goes on back there". As I got older and started getting more into cooking, I tried to overcome this 'fear' of raw meat. I did this by purchasing a whole chicken. I wanted to deconstruct and use every piece of that damn bird. I did use every piece of that bird, including the bones to make a homemade chicken stock, and then I disinfected every surface that chicken may have touched. I still had a problem.

That same year I started watching movies about food. Food Inc. in particular struck a cord with me, exposing the harsh realities of the factory farm industry. I had never seen these images before. The use of antibiotics and steroids, the close quarters of the animals, the rate of disease in the animals slaughtered for food, and the struggles of the family farm because of the influence of the food industry in policy making. While this affected me greatly, I still wasn't ready to make the jump to vegetarianism. I rarely ate meat, but I didn't want to give a title to my diet, experience the social awkwardness, or the separation. Although, rarely ordering meat at a restaurant already caused some social awkwardness with my group of carnivorous male friends. The next year I started reading books. The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defence of FoodLocavore, Food and Fuel, and Food Inc. All of these movies and books opened my eyes to what the state of the food industry was. I didn't like it, not one bit.

After watching the movie Fresh I finally decided to become a 'vegetarian'. It was a big step for me to make that classification. A classification I never wanted to make. "One day I would eat meat, but not right now, not with the way it is done," I said to myself. But I kept this to myself for the most part. Very few people asked questions, or noticed for that matter. And that was the way I liked it. I took comfort in the fact that I was making a difference. I was one more person not consuming factory farmed meat, one less person handing over money to that industry, reducing the demand for meat just that little bit.

Now, I am not an animal rights activist. I don't think it is wrong to kill an animal for food, but the way we are doing it is wrong. Not just the killing, but the raising, the feeding, and the breeding is wrong. It is morally wrong, wrong for our health, and wrong for our environment. Here are some simple facts to show my point:

1. Agriculture accounted for 24% of the methane emissions in 2009, a 20% increase from 1990, mostly due to beef cattle and swine. (National Inventory Report 1990-2009: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada - Executive Summary)
2. The inappropriate use of antibiotics in agriculture is a driving factor in the presence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in humans. (WHO) This has some big and scary consequences for our future.
3. Animal husbandry uses up 30% of the land on earth, including the land required to produce their feed. 40% of the world grain is used to feed animals which are not even supposed to eat grain. Imagine we used that land to feed people? (Archive of Internal Medicine)
4. Animals are kept in such close indoor quarters they can hardly move. Chickens are given less than 1 square foot of space (if they aren't in a cage). Not that they can stand anyway. The average broiler reaches maturity at 6 weeks with a body weight their frail sick bones can't keep up.
5. Industrial agriculture contributes to almost 50% of the waterway pollution in the United States (Sustainable Table).

Agriculture is literally destroying our world. 

Forgive my inner hippie for saying this but eating is one of the most intimate interactions we have with the world. We take the food produced by the earth and we put it inside our mouths. It moves through our body as it gets broken down, fermented, transformed and absorbed, literally contributing to the building blocks of our body, or taking part in metabolic activity. If there is one thing we should care about in this world (beyond those that we love) it should be what we eat. 

Happy chickens whose eggs tasted amazing, like no egg I've ever tasted before.

For me, that means not eating meat and very little animal products. This will inevitably shift again one day, maybe even introducing meat back into my life when I have the means to buy healthy meat directly from a farmer for special occasions(I'll have to stop being a student first). But only time will tell. 

One thing is for sure, saving our planet will require a large shift in the way our current food system works. There are so many people out there making changes and fighting for sustainability and a brighter future. It is really inspiring and I hope to one day be able to make a difference. For now I will continue to eat vegetarian and I will publish this post. If this post inspires just one person to eliminate meat from just one of their meals it will have been worth it.

Thanks for reading! For being so patient, I promise to post a yummy vegetarian recipe this week. :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Black Bean and Tomatillo Twice Baked Potato

As I went to write this post I realized it has been about a month since my last. At first it worried me when I started posting less frequently in 2012 but I have gotten over with. I use this blog to share my recipes (and recipe finds) with my friends and family and only posting when I am really feeling a recipe keeps this place real. Speaking of keeping it real, I have been working on a post for the past little while that I have yet to publish. There is no recipe, there are no pictures of food but I feel like it belongs here. When I feel it is ready I will share it and I hope you accept my recipe-less words when the time comes. Now, onto the recipe that broke the Food for Fuel silence!

It was the result of picking up some potatoes at the farmer's market, not really having a plan for them. I have made these potatoes twice for a difference audience and all have approved. This recipe is easy, ready under an hour, and packed with flavour (and fibre).

Black Bean and Tomatillo Twice Baked Potato
Serves 4-6

6 potatoes (I used red skinned ones but you could use your fav)
1 can black beans, thoroughly rinsed
1 avocado, chopped
~1/3 cup salsa verde (to taste, I don't know how much I added)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees C.
2. Poke potatoes with a fork and wrap in foil, bake for ~45 minutes (depending on the size of your taters).
3. Once the potatoes are cooked and cooled enough to handle, carefully peel off the skin on the top to discard. Scoop out the insides of the potatoes and add to a bowl with black beans, and avocado.
4. Mash the potato with the beans and avocado until mixed. Add the salsa verde and mix into the mash, tasting along the way to ensure the desired amount of flavour.
5. Scoop stuffing into the potatoes pressing down to pack down the filling. Fill the potatoes well exceeding their limit. You will still have filling left over.
6. Bake potatoes for 10-15 minutes until tops begin to brown.

Don't mind the blur...

The salsa is the star of the show here. The potatoes will only taste as good as your salsa. Use a good quality flavourful salsa, or make your own! I used the President's Choice Black Tomatillo Salsa. It is very good. I would also recommend the original variety. The avocado is also necessary, it adds creaminess that would normally be accomplished by dairy (cream or sour cream). Feel free to add other veggies as well. I tried adding a bit of corn which worked well. I also foresee bell peppers or green onions working well.

As the weather warms up and BBQ season begins, I really hope you give these a try!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tahini Chickpea Stir Fry

I know I haven't posted a new recipe in a while, but I finally have something worth posting about. I did something the other day that I used to do almost every time I cooked. I just 'went with it.' I have been following a lot of recipes lately and not really just going with my instincts and cooking with what I happen to have on hand. I want to get back into doing this and while I had one failure initially, I hit a winner with this chickpea dish. I worked with the winning combination of chickpeas, tahini and lemon in my favourite dip, hummus and these ingredients delivered.

You may also notice the use of coconut oil instead of the usual olive oil. I have been doing this as of late for two reasons. I won't go into too much detail because I am thinking of writing a post all about it, but the reasons are 1) I don't trust the quality of EVOO and 2) high heat isn't really that good for EVOO and coconut is such a stable oil, which does not make the dish taste at all coconuty. Win-win situation.

Tahini and Chickpea Stir Fry
Serves 2-3

1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 mushrooms, chopped
1/2 large head of kale, chopped
~1 cup cooked chickpeas
1.5 tbsp tahini
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1. Heat coconut oil in a pan on medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft.
2. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes.
3. Add kale and chickpeas and heat until kale is beginning to wilt and vegetables are cooked.
4. In the meantime whisk together tahini, lemon juice and nutritional yeast. The nutritional yeast thickens up the sauce so do not add if you like the thinner consistency. The sauce also thickens in the pan.
5. Add the sauce to the pan and stir to completely mix and heat through.
6. Serve topped with chopped avocado.

I knew I liked this dish upon initial taste, but I knew it was blog worthy when my Mom enjoyed it. She liked the lemon and tahini combination with alongside the chickpeas tastes a little hummus like. You can always adjust the tahini and lemon ratio to suit your taste, and of course change up the veggies. But whatever you do, don't leave out the chickpeas.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lentils, Lentils, and more Lentils: Enjedra

I love lentils, and cannot seem to get enough of them these days. I have been making a lot of this Butternut Squash and Lentil Curry Stew, which I have posted about before. I am surprised I have not made Palak Daal, my all time favourite lentil dish. The spinach filled lentil dish that made me fall in love with 101 Cookbooks. I hate to admit it, but as of late, there has been some competition for my favourite lentil dish. I spotted this recipe quite a while ago and it kind of got lost in the shuffle. I came across it again a couple weeks ago and could not wait to make it. It is so simple and easy, yet so impressive. I was impressed anyway.

Enjedra slightly adapted from Pride and Vegudice
Serves 6-8

4 medium-large sweet onions
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoons salt
2 cup green lentils
3 cups water (add more as needed)

brown rice to serve with

1. Cook desired amount of rice from package instructions. I used long grain brown but I imagine basmati would also work well.
2. Chop onions as desired. I cut the onions into rounds and then into 4-6 pieces from there. If you prefer them fully chopped, that would work to.
3. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a saucepan. Add onions and spices and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until they are fully softened and beginning to caramelize.
4. Add lentils to the pan and stir to coat evenly.
5. Add water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer while stirring occasionally. More water may have to be added as the lentils absorb the water and some evaporates off. Add 1/2 cup at a time as needed. Cook until lentils are soft and beginning to fall apart.
6. Serve over rice or with steamed greens.

If you make one recipe and one recipe only in 2012, let it be this one. I actually cannot wait to make it again. It is so comforting with the softness of the lentils and the warming seasonings. It would freeze well, making it an even more economical meal. 

Remember when I said I was brainstorming a variation of the Vegan Shepard's Pie (as well as a new name)? Well, I brought my ideas to life but it was not a huge success. I basically changed up the seasonings of the bottom veggie layer, and used mashed sweet potatoes on the top. While the flavour was good, the sweet potatoes were too runny for their use in such a dish. I will most likely try again but not right away. I am not incredibly inspired at the moment to try again. Vegan Shepard's Pie it remains.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gluten Free Crackers and Vegan Shepard's Pie

I am on a Oh She Glows kick lately, in attempt to knock off some of those 800 recipes. It started off with making her Vegan and Gluten Free Crackers, and I just couldn't get enough. I had been wanting to make crackers for a while and finally got around to making them. I have made them four times now, making it a weekly tradition. 
The recipe is a great base for making crackers, allowing your imagination to run wild when it comes to seasoning. The original recipe calls for garlic powder, rosemary and thyme, which is a winning combination. I have also left out the seasonings to get a taste for what the basic cracker recipe is like. It is rather plain, and definitely needs some hummus or peanut butter to make up for the lack of seasoning. That is actually a good thing though because I now know how versatile this recipe could become. I can imagine making them cinnamon spiced, curry flavoured, or on the Italian side with basil and oregano.

There is another area where your creativity can come through. The shape of the crackers is totally up to you! I initially followed the recipe by cutting the rolled out dough with a pizza cutter. I found that I wasted a lot of cracker on the ends though since I wasn't rolling the dough perfectly. Now, I use small cookie cutters, which worked much better than I thought it would.
Simply roll the dough out thin onto a counter lined with waxed or parchment paper. Press the cookie cutter down onto the dough firmly. Lift up (with the dough in the cutter) and place the shape on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. For very small cutters, the cooking time should be reduced by 3-5 minutes. I have been experimenting with some seasoning combinations and hopefully will be able to share my favourite with you soon. I got close tonight, but so far the original recipe has been taking the cake.

Another Oh She Glows recipe I have tried lately is the Vegan Shepard's Pie. The only thing I didn't love about this recipe was the name. The dish itself is fantastic. It is a great Sunday type of meal since it requires a little more time than a week night probably provides, and is a perfect comfort food for the winter months. Filled with root vegetables, I cannot think of something more appropriate of this time of year.

You may also notice there is no 'fake meat' in this pie to it vegan. Which is why I don't like the name. It deserves a name of its own. I have made this twice now (without the 'gravy') and I am cooking up a unique variation in my head. Hopefully I have a chance to put my ideas into action soon, as well as provide a name for this deserving dish.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Corn, Edamame, and Avocado Salad

How is everyone's new year's resolutions going? I was never really a new year's resolution type of person but this year I did make a few. I won't share them all with you today but I can tell you that it does involve kicking the sugar addiction I built up over the Holidays. Piece of cake.... (irony?)

Over the Christmas break I did a lot of 'spring cleaning' and organizing, which included my recipes. I finally think I have found a good system to organize recipes that I want to make in the future, or that I have made in the past. I mostly use evernote for this, and then excel for recipes that I find in magazines.  By the way, if you are not using evernote, you are doing yourself a big disservice. It is one of the greatest apps ever created. Bold statement. Anyway, when I entered the 800th recipe into evernote I realized I had a bit of a problem, and was biting off more than I could chew, or collecting more recipes that I could possibly make in the near future. So, I decided to make a bunch of new recipes in the new year and start knocking some off the list.

I don't usually follow recipes to the tee all that much, more so use them for inspiration. I have been lacking in inspiration of my own and I think trying some new recipes would be the perfect medicine. One of the first that I made was from a summer issue of Inspired, a magazine created by Sobeys. It was for an avocado and corn salad. The ingredients aren't exactly in season, but was a refreshing change for this time of year. I made a few changes from the original recipe which suited my taste. Here is what resulted:

Corn, Edamame, and Avocado Salad adapted from Inspired
Serves 6-8

4.5 cups frozen corn
2 cups edamame beans
1 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup salsa verde
4 limes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1.5 avocado, diced

1. Toss corn, beans, avocado and onion.
2. Whisk together salsa verde, juice of the limes, salt, and red pepper flakes.
3. Pour over corn mixture and toss to coat.

I have been making this salad for the past couple weeks for lunches. Since I don't want the avocado to brown over the 3 days the salad is in the fridge, I add in the diced avocado in the morning when making my lunch. This salad has quite a bite to it and the aroma is sure to wake you up with all that citrus. A great way to start the new year off right...and keeping it that way.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Before I get into my favourite chili recipe at the moment, I have to post a link to the recipe for the gingerbread pumpkin cake with caramel sauce from Canadian Living that I made for Christmas. You will thank me if you get around to making it. Or Canadian Living...but you will thank someone

Now, onto the healthy food. I have made this chill recipe a few times now and I really enjoy it. It has quite a bit of heat but that is easily controlled by not adding as much chipotle pepper.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili adapted from Cheese and Chocolate
Serves 8

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
6 garlic cloves
3 tbsp chili powder
3 tsp coriander
2 cans crushed or diced tomatoes
2 cans black beans
3 chipotle pepers in adobo sauce, chopped finely
3 cups water
2 tsp oregano
2 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes until soft.
2. Add garlic and heat for 2 minutes. Add chill powder and coriander and heat for 1 minute.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for about 1 hour, or until sweet potato is cooked well and the consistency of the sauce is as desired. Water can be added if the sauce becomes too thick.

I recently served the chill with a mexican green rice which turned out very well. It also goes well with goat cheese, or a nice piece of crusty bread. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year and Gingerbread Biscotti

Happy new year everyone! I cannot believe the Holidays are over! I will be sad to see the Christmas decorations come down, but I am ready to get back into the normal swing of things. I took my last day of Christmas Holidays (Jan 2nd) to relax, do some cooking, and get organized to start the year off right.

I made some nutrient rich vegetable broth with a bunch of veggie scraps I had in the freezer. It never ceases to amaze me how scraps that were headed for the compost can end up creating something so great!

All I did was fill the biggest pot I have, half way with veggie scraps and then add 3 garlic cloves, 2 bay leafs, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp rosemary, 2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. Then I fill it almost to the top with cold water, bring to a boil, and then simmer uncovered for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the broth has good colour. This batch yielded about 18-20 cups of broth which will mostly be frozen to be later used in soups and stews. 

I also made some crackers, which is something I have wanted to do for a while. They turned out rather nice  considering I had low expectations.

Now I know it is the new year now and the sweets are being left behind while we all make new years resolutions to eat better, but I have to share some of the Holiday recipes that I last posted about. Save the recipe for next Christmas, you will thank me for it. I will be sharing the recipe for gingerbread biscotti today as I know there are many people who would like their hands on the recipe.

Gingerbread Biscotti slightly adapted from Annie's Eats
Makes 2 dozen

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup loosely packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 bag white chocolate chips
1/4 cup molasses
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix dry ingredients together, including the chocolate chips. I used a stand mixer on low.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and molasses together. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients while stirring. Mix until just combined.
4. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, form two logs which have a few inches between them so they do not expand into each other. Bake for 30 to 32 minutes.
5. Allow logs to cool for 10 minutes before slicing diagonally with a serrated knife. Cut pieces about 1.5 inches wide. Be careful at this step as the logs crumble relatively easily.
6. Arrange the biscotti on their sides on the baking sheet (another baking sheet will most likely be needed) and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the side of the biscotti on the pan has browned a bit. Flip and bake for another 5 minutes. The biscotti will continue to harden so do not over cook. If they are too hard, simply dip into coffee or tea before eating :)

After baking the logs
After the third bake
These biscotti are seriously addictive and it is hard to resist popping all the crumbly bits in your mouth as you slice the log. The white chocolate chips give a nice touch, which was not in the original recipe. The original recipe calls for cinnamon chips which I have not been able to find. I am glad the white chocolate chips came to save the day.

Good luck with all your new years resolutions! I will try not to tempt you for much longer with Holiday sweets.