August 31, 2011

Banana Bread Blended Cereal

I have a quick recipe for you today that comes from one of my favourite blogs, Chocolate Covered Katie. Katie comes up with so many unique and healthy vegan treats, so I am always bookmarking new recipe ideas from her blog!

I was especially excited to try her recipe for blended cereal that is supposed to taste like banana bread in a bowl. Basically, you take a frozen banana, some almond milk, nuts, vanilla, and flake cereal and blend it up until it's nice and smooth and thick. When these ingredients are blended together, the flavour is is very similar to banana bread, but in a cold and creamy form!

You can find Katie's recipe here: Banana Bread Blender Cereal

For my version, I used almond milk and Banana Nut Muslix as the cereal - this was perfect because it enhanced the banana flavour even more, and it already includes walnut pieces so I didn't need to add any additional nuts.

I will definitely be making this again whenever I'm craving either a smoothie or banana bread, since it satisfies both cravings!

August 29, 2011

Curried Broccoli, Apple & Paneer Salad

After I made my Indian Naan Pizza with Paneer and Corn, I needed to come up with another recipe to use up the rest of my paneer. Paneer dishes usually feature rich and creamy sauces, which I wasn’t really in the mood for. Instead, I wanted something a bit more fresh and healthy to go with the season, like a salad.

I also had some broccoli to use up, and when searching through my recipes, I came across one for a Madras Chicken & Broccoli Salad from Eating Well that sounded like it fit what I was looking for. I liked the recipe because it still had a creamy sauce, but it was healthier because it was made with low-fat yogurt rather than mayonnaise, which you usually see with broccoli salads. I also knew that I would love the addition of mango chutney and curry powder to the dressing, since I've made similar ones in the past.

I considered substituting tofu for the chicken that the original recipe called for, which I’m sure would have been really good...but since I also wanted to be able to include my paneer, I decided to use it in place of the chicken instead. I also added some chopped apple to provide more crunch, and golden raisins because I think they always go well with cashews. I left out the red onion because I personally don't like raw red onions, but feel free to include them if you want!

The result was just what I wanted – light, tasty, healthy, and so easy to make! All of the ingredients went really well together, so I would definitely recommend including the apples and raisins!

Curried Broccoli, Apple & Paneer Salad
Adapted from Eating Well

6-8 ounces paneer, cubed
2 cups finely chopped broccoli
1 small apple OR half a large apple, diced
1/4 cup chopped cashews (toasted if desired)
2-3 tbsp golden raisins (I soaked mine in hot water for a few minutes to plump up)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tbsp mango chutney
1 tsp curry powder
dash of hot sauce (optional - I added some because my curry powder was not very hot)

Make the dressing by whisking the yogurt, mango chutney, curry powder and hot sauce (if using) in a small bowl.

Prepare the rest of the salad ingredients and place in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over top and stir together until everything is evenly coated.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time.

Makes 2-3 servings.

August 26, 2011

Indian Naan Pizza with Paneer and Corn

When it comes to pizza, a simple margherita will please me, and if I could choose my own toppings, I usually stick with my two simple favourites of tomatoes and pineapple. But I also like trying out different or unconventional toppings, like the delicious asparagus pizza that my parents make.

But my newest favourite pizza topping that I just discovered this summer is corn! Apparently corn is a popular topping for pizza in Ireland, but I’ve never seen it on any pizzas here in Canada before. And after having it a couple of times now, I don’t know why it took me so long to try!

Corn goes well with lots of other toppings, like roasted veggies, or tomatoes with pesto. But I think this variation that I came up with the other weekend is definitely a strong candidate for becoming my new favourite pizza!

I always love the combination of sweet and spicy flavours, especially when it comes to Indian food. So when I saw this Indian pizza, I wanted to make it right away! But I also got inspired by my recent corn craze and decided to add a spicy Indian corn mixture to the pizza, based on this recipe for corn chaat.

It was no surprise to me that I absolutely loved the result! There were so many dimensions of flavours and textures to enjoy – from the sweet mango sauce, to the crunchy spicy corn, to the soft and chewy bites of paneer. And I recommend adding the cilantro too, it really added to all the other flavours.

The list of ingredients for the recipe may seem a bit lengthy, but each of the steps is actually very easy and this doesn’t take long to put together. And because these are made on naan bread, there is no rolling or stretching of the dough required, and the baking time is very short.

Indian Naan Pizza with Paneer and Corn
Adapted from The Novice Chef

For the paneer:
1/2 cup cubed paneer
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 tsp curry paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper

For the corn:
1 ear of fresh corn
lemon juice 
amchur powder (leave out if you don't have this)
chat masala (this is my favourite Indian spice mixture, but you can substitute other spices if you don't have this, such as garam masala)
salt and pepper

For the pizza:
2 naan breads
1/4 cup pizza sauce (I used the roasted garlic flavour)
2 tbsp mango chutney
about 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (I used a bit less)
corn mixture (from above)
paneer (from above)
chopped cilantro for garnish

First, prepare the paneer by slicing it into small cubes. Mix the remaining ingredients for the marinade (yogurt through to salt & pepper) and pour into a ziplock bag. Add the paneer to the bag and mix around. Let sit in the fridge for about two hours.

Prepare the corn by husking it and then slicing off the kernels. Place the kernels in a bowl and squirt lemon juice over them (enough to cover). Sprinkle with amchur, chat masala, salt and pepper (I just judged the amounts by eye). Let the mixture sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

When the paneer is done marinating, pour the contents of the bag into a saucepan and saute on medium-high heat until most of the liquid has evaporated. 

Next, create your pizzas. Lay out two naan breads on a baking sheet. Mix the pizza sauce with mango chutney and spread evenly over the two breads. Then sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the sauce. Next, top with the corn and paneer. 

Bake pizzas in the oven at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 

Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. 

Serves two people. If you are making this for one person, cut all the ingredients in half, or make both anyway and save the second pizza for lunch (once you taste how good this is, you will be happy you have another one to eat the next day!)

August 24, 2011

Quinoa Almond Fruit Salad

Since I became a vegetarian, I've been eating a lot of quinoa. Its a complete protein, its very easy to cook, and there are endless possibilities for turning it into a delicious meal, so I never have a problem using it up if I have leftovers. I've tried wrapping it up in a tortilla with some veggies, and even eating it for breakfast layered with yogurt to make a parfait!

Quinoa also goes well with just about any kind of fruit, and this salad is proof of that! I saw the recipe on Oh She Glows, and have made it a couple of times since then. The first time, I didn't think it was anything special, but now I realize the reason I didn't love it was because I decided to use blackberries instead of blueberries. I guess blackberries are one fruit that actually don't belong in quinoa, at least for my personal taste - I just didn't like the texture of their crunchy seeds mixed with everything else in the dish.

So the next time I made it, I used a different combination of fruits that turned out really well! I kept the strawberries and blueberries from the original recipe, and also added mango (because clearly I love mango!). I thought the flavour and texture of the mango went perfectly with everything else, and also added a nice burst of colour. Next time, I might even include kiwi too for one more bright colour to go with the red, blue, and yellow!

Usually, I find that quinoa doesn't need much of a dressing, but it does soak up the flavour of any dressing that you do add. I loved the dressing in this recipe - the taste of the lime definitely came through, but it was balanced by the subtle sweetness of the maple syrup and the balsamic. I also like when a dressing is oil-free!

Here is the recipe with my changes. Aside from the addition of mango, I also added lime zest and two types of almonds. And since I was bringing this to a potluck, I used more quinoa than the original recipe, and one and a half times the amount of dressing.

Quinoa Almond Fruit Salad
Adapted from Oh She Glows

About 1 cup dry quinoa
1 pint strawberries, diced (about 2.5 cups)
6 oz blueberries
2 small mangos, diced
1/3 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/3 cup slivered almonds

3 tbsp pure maple syrup
1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar
1.5 tbsp fresh lime juice
zest of one lime
pinch of kosher salt

Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions. Let cool and fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, chop up your fruit and almonds and set aside. (I toasted the almonds first because I prefer them that way).

Make the dressing by whisking all ingredients in a small bowl.

Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl. Add in the fruit and almonds and stir to combine. Pour the dressing on and mix well. Chill the salad in the fridge until serving time.

Makes a large amount (I'm not sure how many servings this made because I brought it to a potluck, but it fed lots of people!)

August 22, 2011

Raspberry Coconut Coffee Cake

Coconut is one of my favourite ingredients. I will find an excuse to add it to just about anything I can - from sweet to savoury dishes, from drinks to dinner to dessert (like my mango coconut soft serve!) My sister, on the other hand, is the total opposite and would say that any dish would be better without coconut in it. But I am always on the lookout for recipes that include coconut in any form - dried coconut, fresh coconut, coconut milk, coconut water, and even coconut flour...and if a recipe has more than one of these ingredients, that's a bonus!

So naturally, this recipe for a healthy raspberry coconut coffee cake caught my eye - especially because I hadn't really thought of mixing coconut with raspberries before. But I can now say from experience that it is a very tasty combination!

The cake itself is fairly dense and not very sweet, so it's more of a breakfast cake than a dessert. I loved the crunchy coconut streusel on top, but my favourite part was the juicy fresh raspberries that sort of exploded throughout the cake - like this piece that looked like it was oozing out raspberry guts!

The original recipe called for frozen raspberries, but I used some nice fresh ones which added so much flavour and sweetness. The only other changes I made were slight variations in the types of flour and milk based on what I had on hand, and I also cut the recipe in half - I found that the cake was best when eaten on the same day, so I didn't want a lot of leftovers. I still baked it in an 8x8 pan and just lined the edge of the batter with a folded piece of greased aluminum foil to hold it in place - but if you have a loaf pan, that might be a better option.

Here is the recipe as I made it, but if you want to make the full 8x8 pan, just double all the quantities.

Raspberry Coconut Coffee Cake
Adapted from Diet, Dessert and Dogs

For the topping:
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp sucanat
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 tbsp coconut oil, softened

Mix the first four ingredients. Add the coconut oil and work it into the dry ingredients with a fork, until everything is moistened. Set aside.

For the cake:
1/2 cup light spelt flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3/4 tsp ground flax
2 tbsp + 2 tsp (40 mL) agave nectar
Generous 1/2 cup raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare your cake pan by spraying with low-fat cooking spray or lining with parchment paper.

Mix the dry ingredients (the first five ingredients) in a large bowl. Mix the remaining ingredients (except raspberries) in a separate bowl until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Then gently fold in the raspberries.

Pour the cake batter into your pan, filling it about halfway if using an 8x8 pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the surface and press it in gently to help it stick.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack completely before cutting into squares.

Makes about 6 large or 8 small squares.


Submitted to Tropical Traditions Giveaway on Cara's Cravings

August 20, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan Salad and Eggplant Chips

At my visit to the farmer's market today, I saw lots of gorgeous eggplants of all shapes and sizes and remembered a recipe that I recently bookmarked from one of my favourite blogs, A Couple Cooks. The recipe was for an Eggplant Parmesan Salad - a sort of deconstructed eggplant parmesan in the form of a light summery salad. I love caprese salads and I thought the idea of adding sliced eggplant and parmesan sounded very creative and delicious!

I happened to have all of the rest of the ingredients on hand already, so I made this salad for lunch as soon as I got home from the market, and it was just as good as I hoped it would be! The eggplant came out with just the right texture - still a bit soft and nicely browned, and along with the tomatoes, cheese, basil, and balsamic, this salad was very fresh and flavourful!

I won't repost the recipe here, because I really didn't change it from the original other than using mini bocconcini for the mozzarella, and leaving out the croutons. I also adjusted all of the amounts to make a single serving.

You can find the recipe over at A Couple Cooks.

Since I still had lots of eggplant to use up and my hunger wasn't completely satisfied after the salad, I also decided to make a snack of eggplant chips from another recipe I had found online for Indian spiced eggplant chips with a yogurt raita.

I didn't slice the eggplant very evenly, so some of my chips were crispier than others, but I actually liked the variety of textures! The chips were warm and spicy, and they paired nicely with the cool creamy raita.

Again, I followed the recipe pretty closely, so head on over to All Day I Dream About Food to find it! The only change I made was to leave the mint out of the raita. My eggplant also took the full 30 minutes to cook, and then I left the thicker slices in for another 5 minutes.

August 18, 2011

Beet-Chickpea Sliders with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

Our family recently held a backyard BBQ and we decided to serve different kinds of sliders as the main dish. Of course, we needed a vegetarian option for my sister and I, and I was put in charge of coming up with a recipe and making them. Immediately I thought of something I’ve been wanting to make for awhile – beet burgers!

I’ve already professed my love for both beets and miniature food, so I was very excited about the idea of mini beet sliders...I even gave a little cheer of “Beet burgers! Beet burgers!” very enthusiastically to anyone who asked what I was making.

After searching for a while for the perfect recipe, I decided on this one for beet, oat and chickpea sliders. I liked the concept of adding chickpeas because I thought they would add a nice flavour as well as some texture.

They took some time to put together, since there are a fair number of different ingredients that go in them, but once the patties are made, the rest is simple – just put them on a baking sheet and into the oven!

When I served this platter of purple patties to my family, some people were really excited to try them, but others were much more hesitant! My sister and I would have been quite happy to have them all to ourselves, but most people ended up trying them after all, and everyone who did gave them rave reviews!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any nice pictures that actually did them justice (I couldn't exactly take them away for a photo shoot while everyone else was starting dinner!). But even though they may look a little diffferent from typical burgers, hopefully you will still give beet burgers a chance! They actually don't taste much like beets, and they aren't like storebought veggie burgers either - they have a soft texture and the taste of the chickpeas comes through the most - kind of like falafels.

Beet-Chickpea Sliders
Adapted from Hobby and More

1 ½ medium beets, peeled and grated
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 medium potato, boiled
1 cup oats, coarsely ground/blended, divided 
4 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp cumin 
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp olive oil

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and mash. Add the cooked potato and grated beets and continue to mash until everything looks broken down and mixed together.

Add in the salt, spices and olive oil and mix well. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then mix in ½ cup of the ground oats. The mixture should now be dry enough to form into patties.

Form small balls out of the mixture and flatten into patties (they should be the size of your slider buns). Add the remaining ground oats to a plate and press each side of the patty into the oats to coat. Place the coated patties onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until they start to feel crisp on the outside.

Serve with tahini yogurt sauce (if desired) on slider buns. The patties are also really good just on their own!

Makes 12 small patties.

Tahini Yogurt Sauce
Adapted from Eating Well

I also wanted to come up with a sauce to go on the sliders. Since these are similar to falafels, I thought that a tahini-yogurt sauce would go well with them, and it was perfect!

1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. 

August 16, 2011

Broiled Apricots with Goat Cheese and a Peach Salad

I picked up some apricots at the farmer’s market last weekend without any idea of what I would do with them. I’m not sure if I’ve ever even eaten a fresh apricot before, but they had little samples out to try, and I liked it so much that I bought two immediately!

After searching for recipe ideas, I decided to caramelize my apricots under the broiler and top them with goat cheese, chopped nuts and basil. I used honey-flavoured goat cheese, which went nicely with the apricots but made for a pretty sweet dish overall combined with the caramelized sugar and honey on top. I also paired them with a fresh peach salad to which I added more goat cheese, plus the leftover chopped nuts and basil.

I don’t know what possessed me to think that two whole apricots (plus the peach salad) was an appropriate serving size just for myself...I must have neglected to take into account the fact that two apricots actually equals four portions once you cut them in half. Oh well, I still enjoyed every bite! But I definitely would have appreciated the meal more if I had have been left wanting more rather than feeling stuffed!

So if you can still find fresh apricots and local peaches, give this recipe a try – just adjust the proportions of everything depending on how many people you are serving.

Caramelized Apricots with Goat Cheese, Basil and Almonds
Adapted from The Flourishing Foodie

2 apricots
1 tsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1.5-2 tbsp goat cheese (I used honey flavour)
about 3-4 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp chopped toasted almonds
honey for drizzling (optional)

Cut the apricots in half and remove the pit. Sprinkle the tops with coconut sugar and put on a baking sheet. Broil in the oven (500 degrees) for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the goat cheese with the chopped basil.

Remove apricots from oven and fill the halves with the goat cheese mixture. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and more basil (you won't need all the almonds, so save the rest for the salad). Drizzle with honey if desired.

Serve warm.

Peach Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds and Balsamic Vinaigrette

You don't need an exact recipe for this, just arrange the ingredients on a plate and top with a simple dressing to let the flavours of the salad shine!

lettuce or mixed greens
1 large peach, sliced
goat cheese, crumbled
sliced toasted almonds (I used the leftovers from the apricots)
chopped basil
balsamic vinegar (reduced in a saucepan)
olive oil

August 14, 2011

Mango Coconut Soft Serve

I'm so excited to share this treat with you today because I absolutely loved it! The combination of tropical flavours and cold, creamy texture make this the perfect refreshing dessert for the end of summer! Plus its vegan and super easy to make!

I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for this mango-coconut sherbet I had seen on The Novice Chef's blog. But I wanted to adapt it so that it was more of a soft-serve consistency - for one thing, I don't have an ice cream maker, and secondly, I've always preferred soft-serve ice cream to the harder type.

So I figured I could use the concept of the popular banana soft-serve and still incorporate the mango, lime and coconut. By using frozen fruit and a smaller amount of liquid than the original recipe, I managed to get an ice cream-like consistency that I could enjoy right away, without needing to wait hours for it to freeze first! I was also able to reduce the amount of sugar by using ripe fruit.

I thought it was best when eaten immediately, but since this recipe makes a lot, you can also freeze the leftovers and then thaw on the counter before serving to let it soften again.

I also loved the addition of the crunchy toasted coconut on top, so don't leave that out!

Mango Coconut Soft Serve
Adapted from Cooking Light, as seen on The Novice Chef

2 cups mango chunks, frozen (I used one whole mango)
1 medium frozen banana, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Zest of one lime
1 cup coconut milk from the carton (I used the vanilla flavour)
Lightly toasted unsweetened shredded coconut for topping (as much as you like!)

Place all ingredients (except the coconut) in a blender and process until smooth.

Serve immediately, with toasted coconut sprinkled on top. Freeze any leftovers in a freezer-safe container to enjoy later!

Makes about 2 cups.

August 12, 2011

Tofu Pasta Salad with Veggies and a Basil Sauce

I've never been quite sure how I feel about pesto - sometimes I like it and sometimes it's just a bit too overpowering. But when I saw this recipe for a pasta salad with a basil pesto vinaigrette, I knew immediately that I wanted to make it. It looked like it was full of all sorts of good things - veggies that I could get from the farmer's market, baked tofu (my favourite way of cooking it...this would be a really good recipe to serve to anyone who hasn't tried tofu or doesn't think they like it!), and a sauce that promised to be amazing. And let me tell you, it definitely lived up to my expectations!

This is worth making for the sauce alone...while some pestos can be too oily or too garlicky, this one was smooth and lemony (although my garlic wasn't that fresh, so that might have made a difference. I also cut down the amount of oil by half).

I made the sauce first, and then I was tempted to skip the rest of the recipe and just eat the sauce with a spoon because it was so good...but I restrained myself to just licking it from fingers and saving the rest for the pasta!

Preparing the rest of the ingredients does require a bit of coordination - cooking each of the veggies separately, boiling the pasta, baking the tofu and toasting the walnuts. So make sure you read through the entire recipe first so that you know everything that needs to be done (that way you won't forget a step like I did...I completely forgot about the tofu until my veggies were almost done so everything had to be put on hold while I waited for the oven to heat up.) But don't worry, this recipe is very forgiving and is good to eat either warm, cold or at room temperature!

Tofu Pasta Salad with Veggies and Basil Sauce
Adapted from Smokin' Chestnut and Fine Cooking

½ lb dry pasta (I used rotini but another short type like bowties would work)

¾ lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1.5 cups grape tomatoes, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 package firm or extra-firm tofu
¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped

1.5 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan
3 tbsp wine vinegar
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp kosher salt

To make the dressing, blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the tofu, preheat the oven to 400. Drain the tofu and cut into ½ inch cubes. Place on a baking sheet lined with a greased foil sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned, flipping partway through if necessary.

For the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for 4-5 minutes, until they are just crisp-tender. Remove beans with a slotted spoon and place on a clean dish towel to try. With the water still boiling, add the peas and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove and let them dry with the beans.

Next, add the pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente, following the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat a bit of olive oil in a pan and sauté the sliced squash until it is softened and lightly browned. Lastly, toast the walnuts (you can use the same pan) for a few minutes, being careful not to burn them.

Drain the pasta and add it to a large bowl. Add in the beans, peas, squash, tomatoes and walnuts. Add the dressing and stir until it is all incorporated (I used the full amount of the dressing and it was just the right amount). 
Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Makes 4-6 servings (I got 5 meals out of it, plus a bit of random snacking from the fridge!)

August 09, 2011

Vegan Mini Peanut Butter Scones

On rainy, dreary days like we are having here today, all I want to do is stay inside in my pajamas and bake!

I actually made these scones a few days ago, but they would be the perfect little treat to cheer you up on a day like today - or any day for that matter!

There are a lot of good things I could say about these scones, but I have two favourites:
1) They are just so cute! I love miniature baked cutting the dough into smaller pieces means I get to have more scones!
2) They are vegan! I used to think that butter and cream were essential ingredients for making proper scones, but now I know that you can get soft, fluffy and moist scones without either of these things!

I only made a small batch for myself, but you can easily double the recipe for sharing with others - if you can bear to part with them!

Vegan Mini Peanut Butter Scones
Adapted from With a Side of Sneakers

1/2 cup light spelt flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp ground flax
1.5 tbsp warm water
40 mL almond milk (I used vanilla)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp peanut butter

Mix the flax with water and set aside.

Mix the almond milk with lemon juice and set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Then add in the wet ingredients and the peanut butter and mix to form a dough. (I found it a bit difficult to mix in the peanut butter this way - I had to use my hands. I would suggest warming up the peanut butter in the microwave first briefly to make it a bit easier to mix in).

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Flatten into a circle and cut the circle into six equal wedges.

Places wedges on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 11 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool on a wire rack.

I thought these were a bit too plain to eat on their own, but they are perfect for spreading with peanut butter!

Or you can make them a bit more decadent with a glaze...Instead of the peanut butter glaze from the original recipe, I used this amazing peanut butter-banana combination from Oh She Glows - if you haven't tried it yet, you definitely should! It also went really well with these scones.

Peanut Butter Banana Glaze
Adapted from Oh She Glows

1/2 a ripe banana, mashed
1 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp icing sugar
pinch of salt

Whisk all ingredients together.

This should make about the right amount for the above scone recipe, but since I wasn't eating all the scones right away, I just kept the glaze in a separate container to spread on each scone whenever I ate one. The glaze also doesn't last that long in the fridge (1-2 days), so I didn't want to make too much and end up having to waste it (Although if you do have extra, I'm sure you could easily find other uses for it!)

August 07, 2011

Roasted Summer Panzanella

After taking a bite of this salad, my first words were literally “this is like summer in a bowl”...And just like summer, I didn’t want this bowl to end!

This was the year that I discovered panzanella, and it has become one of my favourite summertime meals. It’s easy to make and very customizable – perfect for highlighting the best produce and herbs of the season!

If the idea of panzanella has never interested you, I suspect the reason is the bread...A typical response I get when I try to tell people that they should make it is something along the lines of “Ew, soggy bread? No thanks”. But I promise the bread is not soggy or mushy – this is not meant to be anything like bread pudding! All you have to do is toast the bread in the oven or on the BBQ first to make it crispy...It doesn’t even have to be stale to begin with. Also, be sure to add the bread in just before serving, so that it doesn’t soak up the dressing for too long before you eat it.

If I am making panzanella as a quick lunch, I would just add some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, along with the toasted bread, herbs and dressing. But last week, I got a bit more inspired and wanted to try a roasted version using  a slightly greater variation of ingredients. It turned out soo yummy, I loved each and every bite (I even tried to structure my spoonfuls so that I could get a bit of everything all at once)! I also thought the addition of cheese worked really well, but you could easily leave that out for a vegan version.

Here’s the recipe I used, but feel free to adjust the amounts of everything the way you like!

Roasted Summer Panzanella
Inspired by these recipes: Simple Panzanella and Sourdough Panzanella with Summer Vegetables

10-15 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
About 6 slices of cucumber, halved
½ a yellow summer squash, sliced and halved
1 cob of corn
About ¼ cup of mozzarella or bocconcini (I used about 10 mini bocconcini balls)
Hunk of bread (bagette or loaf, not the sliced sandwich bread – I used a piece of baguette about 4 ½ inches, or 100g)
1-2 garlic cloves, smashed
1.5 tbsp olive oil, plus more for roasting
1 tbsp red wine vinegar or balsamic
½ tsp dried oregano (or use fresh)
Handful of fresh basil
Salt and pepper

First, you need to roast all the veggies, so preheat the oven to 350. Put the corn in the oven with the husk on (this is my favourite method of cooking corn!) and roast for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the other veggies. In a baking dish, mix the tomatoes, squash, and garlic with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Put this pan in the oven with the corn for the last 15-20 minutes of roasting time.
Cut your loaf of bread in half and brush each half with a bit of olive oil (or cooking spray). Add bread to oven on a baking pan for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

When the corn is done, remove the husk (you might need oven mitts, it will be hot!) and slice off the kernels with a knife into a bowl. Add the remaining veggies, garlic, and cheese.
Tear or slice the bread into small pieces and add to bowl.
Next, add the oregano, olive oil and vinegar and mix everything together. Mix in the basil last.

Makes 1 large serving.

August 04, 2011

Chickpea Granola Bars

I think I’ve finally found the granola bar recipe I’ve been looking for!

I’ve made many variations of granola bars, and while I will always prefer my homemade versions to the storebought kind, I still haven’t managed to perfect them.

I feel a bit like Goldilocks - this one is too dry...this one is too crumbly...this one is too peanut-buttery and sticks to the inside of my mouth...But now – this one is juuust right!

Who would have thought that the secret would be chickpeas!

These granola bars turned out nice and moist and chewy and they actually hold together when you eat them instead of disintegrating into a pile of crumbs.  I also thought both the cinnamon and peanut butter flavours were perfect – kind of like a cross between a peanut butter cookie and a snickerdoodle, but in a much healthier form!

And don’t be scared of the chickpeas – if you didn’t know they were in there, you probably wouldn’t guess! (Although I haven’t actually been able to test out this theory on any naive subjects).

I followed this recipe, but cut all the amounts in half. I used a combination of raisins and cranberries for the dried fruit. The only other changes I made were to use rolled oats instead of quick oats, and I replaced some of the oats with my Kashi granola because I realized that I didn’t have quite enough oats!

I also tried out this adorable way of packaging them with ribbon from Oh She Glows!

Chickpea Granola Bars
Adapted from Have Cake Will Travel 

½ tbsp ground flax
2 tbsp warm water
1 cup + 2 tbsp canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
¼ cup peanut butter
2 tbsp agave nectar
1.5 tbsp melted coconut oil
½ cup rolled oats + ¼ cup granola (or ¾ cup oats)
½ cup puffed rice cereal
¼ cup dried cranberries and raisins (about 2 tbsp of each)

Preheat oven to 375. Combine the flax with water and set aside.

Combine the chickpeas with brown sugar and ½ tsp of the cinnamon in a baking dish. Bake for 8 minutes, stir, then bake 8 more minutes. Let cool and then mash until there are no whole chickpeas left.

Combine the peanut butter, agave, and coconut oil. Then stir in the flax mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, granola, puffed rice, and dried fruit, with the remaining ½ tsp cinnamon and pinch of salt. Then add in mashed chickpeas and stir together.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to incorporate.

Pour mixture into a greased 8 x 8 pan. Press down firmly with a rubber spatula. 

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting, until firm (otherwise they might crumble apart). Store in the refrigerator.

Mine filled about 2/3 of the pan, which got me 6 full sized bars.

August 02, 2011

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Mango - Two Ways

I’ve started to see lots of recipes for raw zucchini “noodles” appearing on blogs, and I became very intrigued by them! Using vegetables as your noodle base is not only a lot healthier than regular pasta, but it’s also much easier to make because there is no actual cooking involved! Plus there are so many fun possibilities once you add a sauce and any other additional ingredients that you want.

I’ve already made variations on zucchini noodles a few times now, and these are two of my favourite combinations...Both include mango, but in different ways – the first uses it blended into a sauce for the noodles, and the other uses strips of mango in the salad along with the noodles.

Both versions were absolutely delicious! And even though they were coated in creamy sauces, they were still nice and light – unlike the way similar pasta dishes with creamy sauces can leave me feeling.

I also liked the texture of the noodles...Most recipes recommend using a spiralizer to get thin strands of zucchini, but since I don’t own one of those, I used a regular vegetable peeler instead. This created wider, flat noodles, so they were more similar to a broad pasta like pappardelle.

On to the recipes...

First up: Zucchini Noodles with a Mango-Mint Sauce
Recipe adapted from Green Kitchen Stories 

Wash a large zucchini and peel into long strips with a vegetable peeler. You can use the skin, but stop once you get to the core and the seeds start showing. Add the strips to a bowl and discard the remaining core.

To make the sauce, add the following ingredients to a blender:
½ a ripe mango, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
8 leaves of mint
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
Pinch of chilli pepper flakes
Pinch of salt and pepper

Puree and adjust seasoning if you like (Note: the mint flavour was pretty strong, which I liked, but if you are not a big fan of mint then you should probably start with less than the amount called for, and then you can add more depending on your tastes).

Pour the sauce on to your noodles and mix it in. Top with a handful of nuts – I used raw walnuts, but the original recipe suggests pistachios.

Makes 1 serving.

Then I started thinking of more ways to eat raw noodles...I love peanut sauce on pasta, so I wanted to do a version of peanut noodles...but instead of the usual soba noodles, I used a combination of zucchini and yellow summer squash (although you could just use all zucchini), and instead of the usual peanut sauce, I made an almond butter-chili sauce. The sauce was not very spicy, so if you prefer a bit more heat, feel free to add in a pinch of cayenne or chilli pepper flakes. I thought it paired really well with the noodles and mango!

Summer Squash Noodles with Mango and an Almond Butter Sweet Chili Sauce

1 large zucchini
1 large yellow summer squash 
1 ripe mango
About ¼ cup raw almonds, sliced

Almond Butter Sweet Chili Sauce
Inspired by this recipe

2 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp mango chili sauce (or your favourite sweet chili sauce)
Juice of half a lime
½ tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp honey or agave
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tbsp coconut water (or regular water if you don’t have coconut water)

To make the salad, follow the same procedure as above for the zucchini and squash. Cut a mango in half and then cut each half into long strips. Add to noodles.

Toast the almonds in a skillet for a few minutes, being careful not to burn them.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl and whisking together. Add more coconut water if it looks too thick (but aim for thicker because I found it thinned out once I added it to the noodles).

Pour sauce onto noodle-mango mixture and stir it all in. Top with sliced almonds.

Makes 2 servings 
(Note: if you plan on making one serving for yourself and saving the leftovers, like I did, don’t make the mistake that I did by mixing in all the almonds at once because they will get soggy the next day...instead, keep them separate and top each serving with the almonds when you want to eat them).

Now I'm looking forward to trying more ways to eat zucchini noodles, so let me know if you come across any good recipes! Maybe I will try this method with other vegetables these asparagus ribbons on Nat's blog!


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