Monthly Archives: November 2013

Za’atar Rice Pilaf

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Let’s talk about how little time there is. For me, my free time is spent reading articles for classes, writing essays, writing more essays, and making my lunch (and often dinner) for the next day. I had minimal time to celebrate my birthday last week (which is okay because the holidays are right around the corner). I have ten million essays due and six million exams this next week. I have practical exams in my technique classes. Essentially, my time is very scheduled these days. ALL THAT TO SAY: My meals lately have been simple to make. This is no exception!

Rice. Spinach. Tofu. Onion. Almonds. Dried Cranberries. Balsamic Vinegar. Za’atar. Tasty, easy, lasted for many meals, filling, wonderful.

ZA’ATAR RICE PILAF: serves 2

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup Long grain brown rice (basmati, or short grain brown, or wild rice would also rock)
  • 4 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 10oz package of tofu, crumbled,
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped (I used white, but purple onion or shallots would be good too)
  • 2 tablespoons raw almonds, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon za’atar spice

Method:

In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add rice. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let cook for 20-25 minutes (until all the water as absorbed and the rice is… cooked).

Place the rice in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well and serve warm.

Here is a version I made for lunch with mushrooms and fried onions.

Here is a version I made for lunch with mushrooms and fried onions.

As all my recipes are, this can serve as a base for an infinite number of dishes. With a base of rice, add chopped veggies and onions, with some protein (it doesn’t have to be tofu) and some nuts or grains and top with any kind of spice. For example, you could add crumbled tempeh, kale, parsley, cucumber, tahini and top it with cayenne and chili flakes… I don’t know if that’d actually be good… I should try it… I digress, rice is a good base for simple meals.

On a side note: WE HAVE SNOW HERE! Time to pull out my parka and drink all the tea. Much love.

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Lentil Salad

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LENTILS! What vegan doesn’t love them? I used this recipe from 101cookbooks, but I added almonds, hemp hearts and had the lentils on a bed of spring greens (even though it is not even close to spring time…).

This recipe was fabulous. The french lentils held their shape nicely and the simple dressing of oregano, olive oil, salt and lemon juice was satisfying. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are best. (Don’t get me wrong, making an extravagant dish is rewarding, but so is the humble olive oil). I sliced up half an avocado to have on the side with a squeeze of lemon. The amount of lentils I made lasted me for 3 days and it kept amazingly. By the third day, the oregano was super fragrant and delicious.

One last note, this recipe was EASY. Cooked the lentils, and that was pretty much it. I even did an outline for an essay while the lentils were cooking! If you don’t have time to cook your own lentils, no biggie. Just use two cans of lentils and make a little bit more dressing. If you want to learn how to cook lentils, check the note at the bottom!

LENTIL SALAD: serves 2

  • 1 cup dried lentils (or about 2 cups cooked)*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 handfuls of spring mix greenery (spinach, kale, chard or lettuce would also work)
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped

Method:

Rinse the lentils and pick out any stones or weird things. In a large pot, cover the lentils with two cups of water and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Add water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered. (Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy.*)

Meanwhile, combine the oregano, olive oil, salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Put two handfuls of greenery on each plate. Once the lentils are cooked, divide them onto each plate on top of the greenery.

Pour half of the dressing over each plate and garnish with almonds, hemp hearts and green onions. Add some extra salt, pepper or lemon juice (or avocado) as needed! Enjoy.

Much love and many easy meals as November… RUSHES INTO DECEMBER. OMG WHERE HAS THE YEAR GONE?

*Note: This is a great resource for how to cook lentils.

Root Goddess Bowl (With Orange Maple Dressing)

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Some serious delicious fall goodness here… I felt like a complete goddess after inhaling leisurely munching this. You can’t tell, but there’s some brown rice under all of that too! Here’s what’s in this bowl:

  • Beets
  • Brown rice
  • Hemp hearts
  • Mushrooms
  • Orange Maple marinated tofu
  • Pecans
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Sweet Potatoes

I don’t know what it is about root vegetables, but they make me feel amazing. Not to mention I love the taste of them roasted in grapeseed oil and sprinkled with salt. When I added all the other fall goodies (the persimmon and pommegranate and cinnamon + maple in the dressing) I was feeling pretty ready for a fire (or christmas…).

This bowl could be made with SO many different things you could do with this. I recently mentioned some other good vegetables to roast (carrots, broccoli, pumkin, squash to name a few) and those would all be great in this. Also roasting the mushrooms instead of having them raw, or marinating tempeh instead of tofu. Any fall fruit (apples, pears etc) would also be a great addition.

Is it a major food blogging faux-pas to use pre-cooked grains in the recipe (“1 cup cooked brown rice”) without explaining how to cook it? OOPS.

Inspired from this and this!

ROOT GODDESS BOWL: (serves 2)

  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/3 inch rounds
  • 1 large beet, cut into 1/4 inch rounds or cresents
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 14oz. package of plain extra firm tofu (Marinated for min 1 hr in following dressing)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 large handfuls of greens (I used spring mix, but kale or spinach would work)
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 persimmon, sliced
  • seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate
  • 2 tablespoons pecans
  • 2 tablesoons hemp hearts
  • salt

ORANGE MAPLE DRESSING:

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoon balsalmic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • salt

Method:

To marinate the tofu, cube or slice the tofu (max 1/2 inch thick, thinner is better) and layer into a shallow dish. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and pour over the tofu. Let marinate for minimum 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400F and prep a baking pan with grapeseed or coconut oil or parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix the chopped roots with the grapeseed oil. Place on the pan, add a healthy grind (or shake) of salt,  and pop into the oven for 35-45 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, layer the rice and spinach, with the marinated tofu, mushrooms and persimmons onto each plate. Add the roasted roots once cooked.

Before serving, garnish with pomegranate seeds, pecans, and hemp hearts. Use the left over dressing from marinating the tofu to pour over the salad. Enjoy!

May the warm roots ground you!

Pan Seared Sweet Potatoes and Ginger Fried Mung Beans

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This recipe is also called The Ugliest Dish that Tastes Like Heaven Itself. The horrid colour combination of the green mung beans and the golden raisins and the orange sweet potatoes and the pink shallots are atrocious. I mean, I’m sure you could plate everything to look WAY nicer (nicer than the tupperware…), but I don’t find it to be something visually appealing… at all.

Now that I’ve given you reason to leave my blog and not even look at the recipe, let me try redeem myself: the sweet potatoes, after being pan-seared then roasted for ten minutes, were so sweet and tender. The mung beans, fried in a copious amount of fresh ginger was so warming! All I can say is that the flavours worked together to bring a Cheshire cat-like smile to my face (and belly).

And as always, forgive my tupperware photos…

PAN-SEARED SWEET POTATOES AND GINGER FRIED MUNG BEANS: (serves two)

  • 1/3 cup dried mung beans
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 large sweet potato, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped golden raisins
  • salt

Method:

In a medium bowl, soak the mung beans At least 1 1/2 cup water overnight.

Preheat oven to 375F and prep a baking pan with grapeseed or coconut oil, or parchment paper.

Heat the grapeseed oil in a large heavy skillet on medium-high heat. When a drop of water loudly sizzles in the oil, place the sweet potato rounds in the skillet and cover for about 3 minutes. Uncover and flip the sweet potatoes, cover and let cook for another 3 minutes. (Check the potatoes frequently to ensure they don’t burn but instead they crisp) Once the potatoes have browned to your desired browness/crispiness, transfer them to the prepped baking sheet and pop into the oven for 7-10 minutes.

In the same skillet, add a bit more grapeseed oil and reduce the heat (to medium). Toss in the ginger and the shallots and let cook until translucent (about 3 minutes). Drain and rinse the soaked mung beans, then add them to the skillet along with the golden raisins. Let cook another 3 minutes.

To serve, place some sweet potato rounds on a plate and top with the mung beans.

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I think next time I make this, I would caramelize the onions, or fry the onions up SUPER crispy. Over all, this was a supremely hearty and wholesome meal.

Roasted Dilled Potatoes

Pascal...

Pascal…

Potatoes ground me. You’re probably laughing, thinking how funny it is that they ground me and they come from the ground… WELL YES. The earthy flavour and warm, creamy texture of roasted potatoes reminds me that I am a being of flesh (something I so often forget).

Essentially, this recipe is roasted potatoes with salt, pepper and dill on a bed of kale, shredded carrots and peas (obviously). I topped it all with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. It was SO simple and filling. (I had this with some extra bean salad on the side which consisted of black beans, celery, lime juice and cumin)

ROASTED DILLED POTATOES: (serves 1)

  • 1 small yukon gold potato, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 2 large leaves of kale, ripped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill (I used frozen)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 425F and grease a baking pan.

In a medium bowl, coat the chopped potato with the grapeseed oil and a healthy dash of salt. Place on the prepped baking pan and pop in the oven (on the middle rack) for 25-30 minutes (or until golden and crispy on the edges). *After 15 minutes, stir the potato chunks or shake the pan to even the roasting.

Meanwhile, prep the kale, carrot and peas on a plate. When the potatoes are nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, place into a bowl and mix in the fresh dill. Place the potato chunks on top of the veggies. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste (I liked lots of both).

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This is clearly a super simple recipe (that maybe didn’t need any directions) but It’s also a bit of a base for any kind of roasted veggie salad. Start with a leafy base, add a few more raw veggies, top with flavourful roasted veggies.

The vegetables I adore roasting are: Mushrooms, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, russet potatoes, broccoli and onion. (Other good ones to roast include: bell peppers, asparagus, leeks, eggplant,  pumpkin, any kind of squash, zucchini, and tomatoes)

Adding spices (like garlic, ginger, curry, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc) makes the roasting that much more tasty!! 

Since it’s winter (well there’s no snow yet, but I feel it coming… eventually…), roasted veggies are nearly a daily thing. Much love.

Coffee Brazil Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies

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It’s Remembrance Day here in Canada. So as we remember those who’ve fallen, we can appreciate the life we have by baking some cookies.

You know how I’m generally against refined sugar? Well… these cookies are an exception. BUT THEY ARE PERFECTION. They are soft and gooey and a little bit crunchy from the brazil nuts. For me, I wish the coffee flavour had been more obvious (for a stronger coffee taste I’d use espresso instead of filtered coffee, or coffee extract – because apparently that’s a thing…). The flavour idea came from here, but the way the cookies looked in the photos (and the recipe itself) were not too appealing. So I took a basic chocolate chip recipe from Martha Stewart (don’t judge me) and made it vegan! I also minimally changed some amounts, just to ensure ultimate gooey-chewy-drooley cookies.

Even though I suggest to let them cool before eating them, I didn’t let them cool before I tasted them. I ended up with all the melted chocolate on my hands and face… but… do you think I cared? NOTHING is more satisfying than a fresh cookie where the melted chocolate nearly burns you… nothing.

A few other things: They kept in the fridge REALLY well. They didn’t do too well in transport (because they were so soft). By using water instead of coffee in the flax egg, and by using more chocolate chips instead of brazil nuts, these would be really great PURE chocolate chip cookies. These are decadent.

COFFEE BRAZIL NUT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: (makes 12-18 medium sized cookies)

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 3 tablespoons filtered coffee (or instant coffee or espresso)
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or other butter substitute)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped brazil nuts (about 13 nuts)

Method:

Preheat oven to 325F and grease/prep two cookie sheets with oil or parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the ground flax seeds and coffee, set aside for 10 minutes to thicken.

In a large bowl, cream the Earth Balance to make it a bit fluffy. Add the brown sugar, cane sugar, vanilla extract, and coffee-flax mixture; continue to mix until well incorporated. In another large bowl, combine the baking soda, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Scrape the buttery mix into the flour and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips and the brazil nuts until evenly dispersed.

With your hands, make 1 1/4 inch balls of dough and place on the cookie sheets about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. (They should still be a bit squishy in the center when you take them out to ensure maximum chewiness after cooling.) Let cool for 5 minutes on the pans before transferring to a plate or rack to cool for another 10 minutes.

 

For those in provinces with a holiday (Quebec does not), I wish you a joyous day & week!

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Sweet child of mine.

Sweet child of mine.

Okay. Who doesn’t like cinnamon buns loaded with raisins and goo?! I had SO much fun making this loaf. The temperature was perfect in my apartment and so the loaf rose like anarchy in V for Vendetta. The dough was HUMONGOUS. I’m quite positive I annoyed my roommates like there was no tomorrow because I kept on squealing like a pig out of excitement for how beautifully the dough was. Wow. I am so proud of it. And I guess it tasted really good too. However, because it got so huge, it didn’t fit into the loaf pan very well, so I chopped off the ends and baked them in a seperate pan as actual cinnamon buns. Although the buns tasted identical as the loaf, they were WAY too doughy to be good cinnamon buns. The recipe is strictly for a loaf. Funny how the way something is presented changes how good it is…

The recipe is originally from here. I made it vegan by simply substituting milk for almond milk, and butter for Soy-free Earth Balance. I also doubled the amount of cinnamon, and used demerera sugar instead of granulated sugar in the cinnamon swirl part. And instead of an egg in the swirl, I just used some melted Earth Balance.

Oh! One last note… I really loaded it with raisins… because I’m a raisin queen and raisins are my life.

CINNAMON RAISIN SWIRL BREAD: (makes one 9×5 loaf)

1.Dough:

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one envelope worth)
  • 1 cup warm milk alternative
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup melted Earth Balance (or vegan butter alternative)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the barely warm milk and water and let sit for 5-10 minutes until it’s activated (it’ll look frothy). Sprinkle in the sugar, and salt. Gently mix in the melted butter and raisins. Gradually, add the flour, mixing until the dough comes together. It’ll be a bit stringy at first. If it doesn’t come together, add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it does (too much water and it’ll get all gummy and poop). If the dough is too wet to begin with, sprinkle in more flour until it comes together (again, small amounts at a time. Too much flour and it’ll get all dense).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, until elastic. Grease the inside of a large bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a tea towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise until doubled. About 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

2. Cinnamon Swirl:

  • 1/3 cup demerera brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon earth balance, melted

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Punch down the dough before turning it onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a 9×15 inch rectangle and brush the melted Earth balance on top. Evenly sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon mixture on top. Starting with the shortest end, roll up the dough into a cute little log. Transfer the log into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan and press the edges into the corners evenly. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled for another 40-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake for 40-50 minutes. The top will be golden and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from baking pan and let cool before slicing and serving.

Rising baby

Rising baby

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The loaf lasted (longer than expected!!) really well, and I froze a few pieces that toasted up wonderfully. I’ll definitely make two loaves next time and freeze one. All in all, this was a super good recipe. Simple and delectable. Not to mention it was straightforward, with minimal room for error (on my part anyway). I’m just really proud of how well it turned out! I’ve never made a successful yeasty-bread like this!! AH.

Let me know if it turns out well for you too! Also, I image this would be good with walnuts rolled into the swirl. Or subbing dried cherries for raisins (let’s be real, I’ll probably be seen tripling the amount of raisins next time…).

Enjoy the transition into winter with my father’s great advice: “You gotta laugh more.”. Much love.