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.