Monday, 29 December 2014

Toasted Walnut and Beet Salad

     Beets are one of those vegetables that I don't often get to cook at home (mostly because I'm too lazy to clean them) but that I commonly eat when I am visiting my parents'. I've been in North Bay for just over a week and I think that we've had beetroots five times. So needless to say, we all love beets. 


     Beets are a carb-loaded winter vegetable that can be enjoyed boiled or roasted, hot or cold, plain or dressed. This salad isn't too sweet, and has a lot of zing! and crunch, walnuts are great for crunch.This salad can be made with roasted or boiled beets, it's completely up to you. If you are making a big batch of beets, you can also use plain leftover beets to make this salad.


Serves: 4-8

Ingredients


  • 6-8 medium beets, stems and ends removed
  • 3/4-1 cup (3 oz) walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard, coarse or smooth
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Cook beetroot; while cooking you can prepare steps 3 and 5.
    • Roasted: wrap in tinfoil and bake at 400°F for about 60 minutes or until tender.
    • Boiled: cook beets in boiling water for about 60 minutes.
  2. Let the beets cool, then peel and cut into thick slices.
  3. Toast walnuts in the oven at 400°F for about 8 minutes on a baking sheet (or in a pan on low heat for 5 minutes).
  4. Slice onions and place in a small bowl to marinate for 10 minutes in the 3 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar.
  5. To prepare the dressing, whisk together all other ingredients in a small bowl. 
  6. When all ingredients are prepared, mixed together the beets, walnuts, onions (you can also add the leftover vinegar), and the dressing. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve cool or at room temperature along side your favourite main, I served mine with veggie pot pie

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

     Christmas eve baking anyone? Why not some super moist ginger molasses cookies? 
I baked up a batch of these yesterday, along with a myriad of other goodies, and the house smelled wonderful! These molasses cookies have all the zestfulness they need, with all the chewiness you want. They are made with fresh ginger which really gives them a surprising zing and a real freshness. 


     There's really not much more I can say about these cookies. They're delicious, they stay soft and chewy for days, and I always eat them way too fast. I suggest making a double batch.


Serves: 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger, packed + 1 Tbsp water


Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda, and spices.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, cream together the margarine, sugar, molasses, ginger and water.
  4. Slowly incorporate the wet mixture into the dry until you've formed a crumbly mixture.
  5. Spoon out packed tablespoon-size portions of cookie dough and roll into balls.
  6. Roll the balls in sugar and place on your baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack.
Enjoy with a warm beverage next to warm fire (dreaming just a bit).

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Baba Ghanoush

     As a vegan people are ALWAYS asking me what exactly I eat. And of course, whenever they ask me I always say the most boring things....pasta (although, I seriously eat a lot of pasta)...pizza....vegetables....and then, as I fail at saying anything inspiring, I might just refer them over to my blog. And then normally I get a response something along the lines of "Oh my gosh! that's vegan?! but it looks so tasty!" At this I usually laugh. Why would I eat something that doesn't taste good? Anyhoo, a couple weeks ago, I was at dinner at my friends' house and they asked what my favourite dip was. My answer: Baba ghanoush.


     Baba ghanoush, as it is most commonly known in the Americas, or mutabbal, is a deliciously rich and creamy dip made of roasted eggplant and garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and salt. This dip is usually served as an appetizer with pita bread or chips.


     I made some the other night for dinner, and ate about half the batch. I felt guilty for about one second and then remembered that it's pretty much all eggplant.
Might seem like a difficult dip to make, but most of the time you aren't active. So give it a try, I'm sure you'll love it!


Serves: 6-12 (appetizer servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 head of garlic (trust me, it's not too much)
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 lemons, juiced or 5 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil + more for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Scant 1/2 tsp table salt, or to taste
  • Paprika (original or smoked), to garnish, about 1/4 tsp
  • Chopped parsley, to garnish


Preparation

  1. As your oven is preheating to 450°F (broiler), cut your eggplants in half lengthwise, sprinkle generously with salt, and let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes. This will reduce the natural bitterness of the eggplant, and although it is not necessary, sometimes you can get a particularly bitter fruit, especially off season, so I find it best to cover all my bases. 
  2. After about 25 minutes, you should see water droplets on the surface of your eggplant. Wipe the water off with a pepper towel, and place the eggplant face down on a baking sheet. Place your whole head of garlic next to the eggplant, and bake for 15-30 minutes under the broiler.
  3. When the eggplant is ready you should see the flesh pulling away from the skin (it will look wrinkly), and possibly some charring on the skin. The flesh should be soft and caramelized. If it looks light-coloured, pop it back in the oven. As for the garlic,when the oven smells garlicky, and the head of garlic collapses slightly when squeezed with tongues, it's ready to be taken out of the oven. 
  4. Place your eggplants in a bowl, and let sit for about 10 minutes or until they are cool enough to handle. A dark liquid will collect at the bottom, taste it, if it is bitter, you may want to remove some of it so that your baba ghanoush is not bitter (although, I have never had this problem).
  5. Deflesh you eggplants. My favourite tool for this job is a grapefruit spoon (yes, it has more than one use!), but a fork also works. Just hold your eggplant from the top and scrape the flesh down into the bowl. 
  6. Now squeeze the garlic cloves out of their casings and toss into the bowl of eggplant. 
  7. To your bowl of eggplant and garlic, add the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and salt.
  8. Purée with an immersion blender until smooth (or transfer to a food processor). 
  9. Let cool in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before garnishing. Garnish with a generous sprinkle of paprika (I particularly like smoked paprika in this dip), a drizzle of olive oil (the good stuff) and a bit of parsley (optional).
  10. Serve with pita bread, falafel, dippers or your favourite crackers.

Enjoy friends!

Monday, 1 December 2014

And finally my logo is complete!

Happy December 1st everybody! As promised, I've made a few changes to the blog! 
It has been quite the process, so I included some of my work-in-progress pictures below (possibly so that you can just enjoy my shotty drawings :) ).










After a very long process of researching, doodling, planning, sketching and more, the new logo is finally complete! Check it out above! I want to give a shout out to Ryan and thank him for all his hard work (also happy 7 year anniversary!).

Feel free to tell me what you think about the changes and my new logo.
-K

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Maple Sesame Glazed Tofu



It's been pretty cold outside lately, so I suppose it's a plus that I've been cooped up inside studying for my exams. And when not studying, I'll probably be in the kitchen -- either cooking or eating. I whipped up some delicious maple sesame glazed tofu last night to go with our garlic sriracha brussels sprouts (Ryan's favourite preparation). This tofu dish goes perfect with a spicy side of veggies and mashed potatoes or another starch like quinoa or wild rice.

I've made this recipe a couple times with both tempeh and tofu and love it for both preparation. If you want to use tempeh instead of tofu, try and marinate it over night or if tight on time, steam it for 10 minutes (this allows the marinade to seep in faster) and then marinate for one hour). 


     
Serves: 3-5

Ingredients


  • 1 Brick firm to extra firm tofu
  • 2 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil for frying

Preparation


  1. Cut tofu into three square slabs, and the cut these in half diagonally to create 6 triangular steaks. Place in a sealable container.
  2. Prepare marinade: Mince garlic and mix with all of the other ingredients.
  3. Poor marinade on to tofu, seal container, inverse the container a couple times to mix.
  4. Let marinate for 20-30 minutes, inverting the container half way through the marination process.
  5. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat with 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil.
  6. Add the tofu and all of the marinate to the frying pan.
  7. Let the marinate reduce until it is about half reduced, at this point flip the tofu.
  8. Continue to cook the tofu until the glaze is no longer liquidy. Cook the tofu for a couple more minutes on each side to brown the tofu.
  9. Serve with you favourite sides and enjoy!

Monday, 3 November 2014

3-Ingredient Fresh Vegan Pasta

     With school and work being as crazy as ever (or possibly crazier), I haven't had much time lately for experimenting in the kitchen, but I though it was about time I posted my fresh vegan pasta recipe. Making a good pasta is a bit tricky, especially seeing as most recipes call for eggs, but it is possible. I've been working on this pasta recipe on and off for over a year now and I've finally got the recipe near perfect. I say near perfect because changes in weather and humidity will affect the amount of water needed in this recipe. On more humid days, you'll probably need less water and on dry days more. So you really have to feel out what you're doing. But don't be scared, fresh pasta is delicious (especially stuffed with sauteed mushrooms or pesto...or both) and worth the risk! (Also, I'm still working on the new logo over here. Getting close to digitizing it!)

Serves: 3-5

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 1/2 to 1/2+1/8 cup warm water


Preparation

  1. On a large clean surface or in a large mixing bowl, mix all-purpose and semolina flour.
  2. Form a well out of the flour and poor the water into the well.
  3. With a fork, slowly incorporate the water and flour, working from the center of the well and moving outwards. If all the water seems to be incorporated, but there is still excess flour, add the up to 1/8 cup more water. Likewise, if it seems a bit wet or sticky add a bit more all-purpose flour.
  4. Once all the flour and water is incorporated, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it forms a smooth ball. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 10-20 minutes. If you are not planning on cooking all the pasta, you can cut the ball in half, and wrap both halves, keeping the half you are planning to cook at room temperature and place the other half in the fridge. The dough will keep in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days, but should be brought back to room temperature before working it.
  5. When you are ready to form the pasta shapes, you can either roll it out manually on a floured surface or use a pasta roller machine, as per manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. If you are stuffing you pasta, make sure to keep the dough covered when not working with it, otherwise let the pasta stand, uncovered for at least 30 minutes after it is formed. This will prevent the pasta from becoming mushy or sticking together while cooking.
  7. When ready to cook the pasta, cook in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Strain and coat pasta in sauce or in oil before serving. 

    




Tuesday, 19 August 2014

BBQ Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

       I can't believe I've surpassed 10 000 views! With just over 60 posts, its time for some change. I've been working on something new for the blog. I've been drawing away and tinkering with fonts to create a new title header. As soon as it's complete, I will update the blog and let all my followers know (if you aren't following me yet, go ahead and try it. You can follow No Empty Fridge by email by submitting your email in subscription app in the right sidebar). 



       Anyhoo, seeing as it's been great whether lately, chilly night and hot days, I've whipped up a tasty recipe for BBQ-style tempeh that is perfect on lettuce wraps. For those new to the product, tempeh is made from soy beans, like tofu, but the beans are left whole, then fermented and formed into bricks. Tempeh is a hearty source of protein for vegetarians that can really soak up flavour. The best way to get the most flavour in the shortest amount of time is to steam or boil the tempeh for 10-20 minutes first and then marinate it. By parcooking the tempeh, it absorbs the marinade better and much faster than if you where to solely marinate it. This method also makes the tempeh more moist, so it can better hold up to longer or dryer cooking methods, such as pan frying, baking and barbecuing. 
       I've used this recipe when making fajitas with cilantro lime rice and guacamole and most recently on lettuce wraps with couscous, avocado, balsamic-marinaded red onions and lemon-mustard marinated hearts of palm. So tasty! You can find out how I did all of this below, starting with the main attraction: BBQ Tempeh.  

Serves: 3-5


Ingredients

1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 cup (3 tbsp) ketchup 
3 tbsp sriracha or garlic chili paste 
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey or agave 
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (optional)

3 tbsp vegan margarine


Preparation 

1. In a medium large pot with your steamer basket, add a couple of inches of water and place the full brick of tempeh in a the steamer. Steam for 10-20 minutes covered.
2. While the tempeh is steaming whisk together all ingredients in a sealable container. If you're making my lettuce wraps, you will also want to start preparing your other toppings, see below for more information.
3. When the tempeh is done steaming, let it cool, then slice it into about quarter inch strips, then cut those strips into 3 width wise. 
4. Place the chunks of tempeh into the marinate, seal well with the lid, shake and let marinate for at least 30 minutes, shaking or turning after 15 minutes. 
5. When you are ready to prepare your tempeh, heat up a nonstick pan with the margarine on medium heat. Add the tempeh and all the leftover marinade. Let cook for 5-10 minutes on the one side, until dark brown and then flip the tempeh over and cook on the other side for about 5 minutes before removing from the heat.



If you are serving this on top of lettuce wraps, you'll need:
• Large leaf lettuce: washed and air or patted dry
• 1 cup couscous: cooked by covering couscous with 1 cup boiling water in a large bowl and then covering with plastic wrap to let steam for 5 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. (Fluff and season couscous before serving)
• ~1/4 cup sliced red onion: marinated in 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper for at least 10 minutes
• 1 can hearts of palm: drained, rinsed, and marinated in 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp honey or agave and salt and pepper to taste, for at least 20 minutes
• 1 avocado: sliced thinly 

Are you a lettuce wrap fan? Or do you prefer tortillas when you are wrapping up your meal? 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Summer Swiss Chard Pasta

       Based on Grandpa Mark's pasta, this savoury dish is packed with one of my favourite veggies out of the garden, swiss chard. You can enjoy this dish year round, but it's best in the summer with greens and herbs from the garden or the market. I prefer using swiss chard, but you can also use spinach (like Grandpa Mark used to do) in this tasty pasta sauce.




Serves: 3-6

Ingredients

3 Tbsp or 1/8 cup olive oilOne large white onion, cut into chunks4 cloves of garlic, minced1/8 tsp red chili flakes1 tsp dried basil or about 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves cut into strips1/2 tsp dried oragano1/4 tsp dried thymeHalf a large bunch or 300g Swiss Chard, stems and greens chopped2 cans chopped tomatoesOne can (514mL) chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed About 300g pasta



Preparation

1. In a large pan on medium heat, add olive oil, onions, garlic, chili flakes and herbs and sauté for 2 minutes.2. While the onions are sautéing, chop up the swiss chard stems and add them to the pan. Sauté the mixture for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the swiss chard stems begin to soften up.3. Add two cans of tomatoes and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile start a pot of salted boiling water for your pasta.4. Add the beans and the chopped swiss chard to the sauce. Cover and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.5. Once the sauce is complete, you can add your pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook to al dente. Meanwhile remove your sauce from the heat, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.6. When you pasta is finished, strain and spoon the pasta onto plates and cover with sauce. Any leftover pasta can be tossed in olive oil so that it does not stick.7. Garnish with fresh basil if desired and enjoy!




Sunday, 6 July 2014

Low-Fat Vegan Manicotti

       Manicotti can normally be a very heavy and fattening dish, but a simple solution for that is to replace that non-vegan friendly cheese with tofu. If you've never tried cooking with tofu, but want to try lightening up you traditional manicotti, you will not be disappointed with this recipe.

Dad: "You can't tell it's not cheese, this stuff is white."

       I recently made this pasta dish for my parents. My mom's a vegetarian but my dad's a meat eater and although normally harder to please, both he and my mom loved by manicotti! And believe me, if my dad doesn't like something I make him, he isn't shy to say so. But my parents said that they would eat this manicotti recipe over cheese-based manicotti any day (my mom was very happy to hear this). 

Serves: 3-6

Ingredients 


8-12 manicotti shells

Pasta Sauce (alternatively, you can use 1-2 jars of your favourite spaghetti sauce)
1/8 cup (3 tbsp) olive oil
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1 large onion, sliced 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp basil 
1 tsp thyme 
1/2 tsp parsley 
1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 jar diced tomatoes 
2 cup tomato purée  
1/4 tsp salt and pepper 
optional: handful kalamata olives, pitted or 1/3 cup marinated artichoke hearts 

1 brick regular or firm tofu
2 tbsp lemon juice 
2 tbsp nutritional yeast 
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp tyme and basil or 1 tsp Italian herb mix
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional 1/4 cup vegan mayo (makes it extra creamy)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 bag spinach (8-10oz), chopped 

Optional Daiya or vegan cheese

Preparation


Pasta sauce
1. In a large pan or medium sauce pot, on medium heat, warm olive oil and chili flakes. When warm, add the chopped onion, garlic and herbs and sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
2. Toss you mushrooms into the pan and sauté for an additional 5 minutes before adding the tomatoes and tomato purée. 
3. Let simmer on medium-low for 15-20 minutes before tossing in the optional artichoke hearts or olives, and seasoning with salt and pepper.
4. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Put a large pot of salted water on the stove top on high and bring to a boil. When the water reaches a roaring boil add your pasta shapes. Cook until al dente, about 5 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.
3. Drain and rinse the tofu. Squeeze any excess liquid out of the tofu, then finely crumble into a medium mixing bowl.
4. Add the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, soy sauce and seasoning to the crumbled tofu and mix well.
5. In a large pan on medium heat, heat up a couple tbsp of olive oil and sauté onions and garlic, 5-7 minutes.
6. Once the onion has softened up, toss in the chopped spinach, in batches. You want to cook down the spinach, so cover the pot between batches and stir frequently.
7. Once the spinach is wilted and dark green, add it directly into you tofu mixture. Mix well and add salt and pepper if necessary.
8. Put a thin layer of pasta sauce down in your Pyrex dish (9"x13")
9. Fill your manicotti pasta shells with the tofu mixture and arrange on top of the sauce
10. Pour the remainder of the tomato sauce on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with cheese if using. 
11. Cover with tin foil and poke a hole in the center with a fork to let steam vent out.
12. Bake at 350°F covered for 25 minutes and uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes until bubbling. 
13. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.


Monday, 16 June 2014

Morning Glory Muffins

 A.K.A. banana-carrot-apple/pear-coconut-raisin muffins


It seems that every time I talk with my dad, he complains that he wants my mom to bake him something. He was a bit jealous when I told him I made these muffins. They've got pretty much everything he loves in them: carrots, raisins, coconut, banana and nuts. Can you ask for a more tasty way to start off your morning? 


Serves: 12 muffins

Ingredients

1 large banana, mashed
3/4 cup soy milk or other non dairy milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white sugar

2 cups flour, half whole wheat, half white
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt

1 large pear or apple, pealed and chopped
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened up to you, I've used both)
1/2 cup raisins

1/2 chopped pecans for topping

Preparations

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a muffin tin, or line with muffin liners (Do not need to grease if using a silicon muffin tray).
2. In a large mixing bowl, mash banana and mix with all wet ingredients and sugar.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix to combine.
5. To the batter, add the chopped fruit, grated carrot, raisins and coconut and mix well.
6. Distribute the batter evenly, top the muffins with the chopped pecans and place in your preheated oven at 350°F.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes in the muffin tray before transferring the muffins to a wire rack and cooling for an additional 5-10 minutes before chowing down.


Monday, 19 May 2014

Fresh Pasta Sauce



        With more beautiful weather on the way we are stepping away from heavy hot meals and embracing lighter fresh dinners. This fresh pasta is perfect for summer, especially as seasonal tomatoes are popping up in markets.

        Because all ingredients in this recipe are raw, it is important to choose quality ingredients. When choosing an olive oil, the best quality indicator is the farm or area the olives are grown. If the bottle doesn't state where the olives are grown, it is most likely a mixed olive oil. Mixed olive oils tend to be lack lustre. The flavours are muddled and unimpressive. Try to choose an extra virgin or virgin olive oil, these oils are less acidic and higher quality than other olive oils. A decent olive oil might set you back $25 for a litre, but this product will give raw dishes like this fresh pasta sauce a great flavour. 

All the ingredients I need to make a delicious fresh pasta sauce

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients


4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and to taste
1 large clove or garlic, minced
1/8 tsp red chili flakes

About 8 kalamata olives, or to taste
450g rip tomatoes, about 4 medium or 8 medium-small (cocktail size) tomatoes
1/2 small bunch of basil (about 20g), leaves torn 
Salt and pepper to taste 
Sauce is all done, all we have to do now is make the pasta

Preparation


1. In a medium mixing bowl combine olive oil, chili flakes and minced garlic. Let marinate for 20 minutes to one hour. 
2. Cut the tomatoes over the bowl of olive oil to preserve all the liquid. With a paring knife, cut the tomatoes into 4 wedges and then cut each wedge in half. 
3. De-pit the olives, rip or cut in half and add to the tomatoes and olive oil.
4. Tear the basil leaves and add to the fresh sauce and season with salt and pepper.
5. Let sit for at least 20 minutes while you prepare the pasta as to the package instructions. 
6. When cooked, drain the pasta and add directly to the fresh sauce. Add more olive oil, salt or pepper if necessary.



Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Coconut Apricot Bars

       On their own, these tasty Coconut Apricot Bars are a great breakfast or snack option. They are not too sweet but with the addition of a scoop of vanilla or coconut ice cream on top or a sprinkle of icing sugar, these bars also make an excellent dessert. 

       The base of the bar has heart healthy omega-3 and omega-6's from the flax as well as fiber from the whole wheat flour. The topping is filled with chopped apricots, almonds and pecans, as well as a coconut caramel-like sauce. These coconut apricot bars are a healthy alternative to traditional "Magic Bars". Just as tasty, but use a lot less sugar and use better fats. Saturated fat from coconut products contains short chain fatty acids, which unlike their animal product competitors are not processed the same way and are less likely to clog up you arteries.       



Serves: 12 large dessert size bars (3"x3") or  24-36 medium-small bars


Ingredients

Base:
1/2 cup margarine
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp ground flax seed 
3 tbsp water
1/8 tsp ground ginger, heaping
3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Coconut condensed milk:
1 can coconut milk
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

Topping:
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut 
1 cup dried chopped apricot*
1 cup chopped nuts, a combination of pecans and almonds or your favourite
2/3 cup Ritz crackers, about 12-15, chopped or lightly crushed*

optional: icing sugar or vanilla or coconut ice cream   




Preparation

1. Turn on the oven to 375°F and toast nuts for 8 minutes while the oven is preheating and lightly grease 13x9 inch pyrex pan. 
2.To make the base, beat margarine with brown sugar, ground flax seed, water, molasses and ginger and then mix in the flour. Pour into the greased pyrex pan and press with your fingers, bake for 10 minutes at 375°F. 
3. In a small sauce pan combine the entire can of coconut milk and the packed brown sugar. Simmer on medium-low heat for 12-14 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the condensing coconut milk doesn't boil over. If a thin film forms, whisk it back into the condensed coconut milk. Final product should be a medium thick milk of a light caramel colour.
4. Combine coconut, apricot, nuts and Ritz crackers in a bowl.
5. Pour 2/3  of the prepared coconut condensed milk on top of the baked base, this should cover the majority of the base.
6. Evenly distribute the coconut, fruit and nut mixture on top and drizzle remaining coconut milk mixture on top of this layer.
7. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes, the coconut milk should be golden brown around the edges.
8. Chill completely (~2h) before cutting.
9. Eat as is for a snack or for breakfast. If serving for dessert, add a scoop of vanilla or coconut ice cream on top of a large square cut bar or dust a fine layer of icing sugar on top before serving.  

*if particularly dry, can be soaked in a bit of water for a couple of minutes
*if you like sweet and salty desserts, you can use Ritz original, otherwise use low sodium Ritz crackers

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Chocolate Lover's Brownie Cookies

     Lovers of anything chocolate beware. These fudgy brownie cookies are addictive. Soft, gooey and oh so chocolaty.


     After what seemed to have been the longest exam period in history, I am finally free. Well relatively speaking. I'm still working at the pool, teaching kiddies how to swim, volunteering at the hospital and taking summer school. But overall, I have much more time to do things that I want (like build another book shelf and create some new recipes). So to celebrate my freedom, I made some cookies.

     These cookies are supper moist. When you take them out of the oven they look undercooked. But by leaving them on the hot baking sheet for a few more minutes, you are firming up the bottom so they don't fall apart while allowing them to stay moist and gooey in the center, just like a brownie cookie should be.

Serves: about 36 cookies


Ingredients

1 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet dark chocolate chips (use 1 1/2 cups to make them extra chocolaty)


Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a medium bowl, beat margarine and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the water and vanilla.
3. In another bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder.
4. Stir dry mixture into the wet, until well combined, then stir  in chocolate chips.
5. Use a cookie scooper or roll dough into golf ball size balls (1 1/2" in diameter). Place balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and either slightly compress the dough balls or leave round (the more round the gooeyer).
6. Bake in the center of the oven for 8-10 minutes, remove and let cool on the cookie sheet for 1-5 minutes before transferring the cookie onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Meaty Vegan Veggie Burgers

Good news: Spring has finally arrived! All this sunshine and fresh air means that we can break out the barbecue and grill up some delicious veggie burgers. Veggie burgers can cost you an arm and a leg. A pack of four can cost you upwards of 8$, and at that price a student can't afford to eat burgers that often (which is really sad). So earlier this year I started working on a no-fail burger recipe that is sure to please.

Cheese burger topped with sautéed onions and mushrooms with alfalfa sprouts, pickle and tomato,
served on a homemade multigrain bun with a side of Kale Caesar Salad 

Lots of veggie burger recipes are temperamental, and can't be grilled because they just fall to pieces. The trick is using vital wheat gluten (Sorry gluten-free-ers). Vital wheat gluten is the protein from wheat, containing 75% protein. This product is used to improve the texture of breads, as well create many imitation meat products. If you are looking to buy this product for the first time, it is commonly found at health food stores like Bulk Barn or at higher end grocery stores in the health foods section (try Bob's Red Mill vital wheat gluten). This product seems pretty expensive, but you have to compare it back to those pre-made varieties. It's worth it, trust me.

My burgers are always topped with a crazy amount of home-grown sprouts. This bad boy is on a homemade pretzel bun, served with a side slaw.
In addition to the wheat gluten, this burger also has textured vegetable protein (TVP) ("You're vegan? How on earth are you getting your protein?" hehe) and lentils (because I love lentils), but if you want a really meaty texture, or what to try and trick your friends or family into eating a veggie burger, use all TVP.

Need an idea for a side dish? Try some of my favourite side dishes to pair with burgers:
Creamy Vegan Coleslaw
Kale Caesar Salad
Vegetable Quinoa Salad or
- a delicious Potato Salad

Serves: 8 full size burgers or about 18 sliders

Ingredients

1/2 cup dry TVP
1/3 cup raw red lentils
1 cup boiling water
1 cup hot vegetable broth
1/8 cup ketchup (low sodium)
1/8 cup vegan Worcestershire sauce 
1 tsp. smoked paprika (or alternatively regular paprika)
Scant 1 tsp onion powder
Scant 1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp coriander
1/8 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
Hot sauce or sriracha, optional
1 small white onion, finely chopped
4-5 crimini mushrooms or 1 medium portobello, finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste


1/4 cup whole wheat or white flour
1 cup vital wheat gluten
Up to 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, panko or crushed saltine crackers

Barbecue sauce


Combine: 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp molasses, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and chipotle hot sauce or chipotle powder (or hot sauce and smoked paprika) to taste.

Your patty mixture should be a heavy, moist dough.

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a large baking tray with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper, lightly oil.
In a large bowl, pour hot liquid over dry TVP and red lentils, cover with plastic wrap and let soften for 10 minutes. 
Add the remainder of the ingredients, except the flour,vital wheat gluten and bread crumbs, and mix to combine. 
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. At this point the flavours will be more intense than the final burgers because you haven't added the unseasoned flour and wheat gluten yet.
Stir in the flour and vital wheat gluten. 
You should have a wet dough, with very little to no liquid at the bottom of the bowl. If there is excess liquid, you can add up to 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. (Alternatively, you can coat the outside of your burgers with the bread crumbs)
Form the dough into patties, place on the lined pan, and cover with aluminum foil. 
Ready for the oven!
Bake covered for 30 minutes for full-sized burgers, or 20 minutes for slider-sized patties.
At this point, either turn the patties, baste with barbecue sauce and bake for 15 more minutes uncovered (or 10 for smaller patties), or grill on low heat for 5 to 7 minutes per side*.

*That initial bake is going to make sure that your burgers don't fall apart on the grill. If you are going to grill your burgers, I suggest you baste the burger with olive oil before you stick it on the grill, and then you can add BBQ sauce after you flip if using.