November 29, 2012

Cranberry Orange Almond Loaf


It's almost December and like many other food bloggers, I've already started my holiday baking!

Fresh cranberries are one ingredient that I always try to incorporate in my plans for holiday baked goods and desserts. I love their tartness, especially when combined with other sweet ingredients to balance them out. And even though both are sour, cranberries also seem to pair especially well with citrus flavours like lemon and orange.

For this loaf, I wanted to use the classic combination of fresh cranberries and orange, along with a third flavour: almond.  The bread itself is a soft, delicate loaf made with whole wheat and spelt flour, and studded with juicy cranberries and thinly sliced almonds.

I added orange zest and almond extract to both the loaf itself and the glaze, which is a simple icing sugar glaze made with orange juice. Finally, I used almond milk nog in the batter to add one more touch of holiday flavour!


This is a light and sweet loaf that can be served as either breakfast or dessert.  The loaf itself actually wasn't very sweet, but adding the glaze on top while it's still warm helps to add an extra layer of sweetness that absorbs into the top of each slice.

The almond flavour came through pretty strongly, which made this cake different from most of the other baked goods that I'm used to.  I also loved the sliced almonds throughout the loaf - they added a touch of crunch without being too prominent, really letting the cranberries shine!


This loaf definitely got me excited for the holiday baking season, and I can't wait to make more treats using some of my other favourite holiday ingredients, like gingerbread, eggnog, and candy cane!



Vegan Cranberry Orange Almond Loaf
Adapted from Ripe from Around Here

1 tsp egg replacer + 2 tbsp water (or 1 flax egg)
1 cup light spelt flour (or all-purpose)
1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk (I used almond nog)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp orange zest
1.5 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tbsp cider vinegar
Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare an 8.5x4.5” loaf pan by spraying with cooking spray or lining with parchment paper.

First, make your egg replacer – mix 1 tsp powdered egg replacer with 2 tbsp water and set aside for at least 5 minutes.

Whisk together all dry ingredients (flour through to sugar) in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the non-dairy milk, applesauce, coconut oil, almond and vanilla extracts and orange zest.  Pour the wet ingredients and the egg replacer mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.  Fold in the cranberries, almonds, and cider vinegar.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until the tops are domed, the sides are starting to pull away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Meanwhile, make your glaze by stirring together all ingredients until a thick, smooth glaze forms.  Pour the glaze over the top of the warm loaf and let it drip down the sides (you may want to put newspaper underneath to catch the drippings). Once cool, cut into slices. 

*Note: I would recommend not covering this loaf for the first day, and storing leftovers in the fridge, then warming up pieces as needed (I covered mine with saran wrap at room temperature overnight, and it got a bit mushy). 

November 26, 2012

Thai Yellow Curry with Squash and Tofu


Hope you all had a nice weekend! Mine was full of rest as I'm getting over a cold and fever that came on really suddenly and is taking its time going away.  I hope to get back in the mood for cooking this week because I have some new recipes in mind that I want to try out!

In the meantime, I thought I would share this hearty Thai yellow curry that I made last week before I got sick. I love Thai food, and I've already experimented with my own versions of Thai red curry and green curry, so I wanted to try something new.  I actually started with the idea of making a panang curry, which I've only ever tried in Thailand and loved it.  Unfortunately, I could only find a giant tub of panang curry paste, which wouldn't have been very practical for me, so instead I picked up some yellow curry paste as a substitute!

Yellow curry typically has a mix of vegetables simmered in a creamy coconut based broth and tends to be less spicy than other Thai curries.  For my version, I used squash, kale and red peppers as the vegetables, and added some tofu for extra protein and substance. Any type of squash should work here - I wanted to use delicata but went with buttercup squash instead, since I couldn't find any delicata at the grocery store.

Instead of using canned coconut milk, which I sometimes find too rich, I used coconut milk beverage from a carton.  I thought it worked well in the dish, although it made for a slightly less creamy curry, so feel free to use canned coconut milk for a thicker, richer dish!


Most of the flavour in this dish comes from the yellow curry paste, which contains ingredients like lemongrass, kaffir lime, turmeric, and lots of other spices.  I also added fresh ginger, garlic, shallots, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, and tamarind paste to add deeper layers of Thai flavour and create a fragrant broth.

The broth smelled amazing as it was cooking on the stove, and the vegetables turned out perfectly - the squash was nice and tender and practically melted into the curry. The tofu was soft and chewy and it absorbed lots of flavour by cooking it in the spice paste before adding the other ingredients.

Overall, I thought this was a nice mellow version of Thai food - it wasn't very spicy but still packed a nice amount of heat. Sprinkle with chopped cashews to add some crunch and serve over rice for a nourishing vegan dinner that should warm you up on these cold nights we've been having lately!



Thai Yellow Curry with Squash and Tofu
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 package firm tofu (12-14 ounces)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tbsp yellow curry paste
2 cups + 1/3 cup coconut milk beverage
3/4 cup vegetable stock
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 thai red chili, seeded and minced (or more if you like it spicier!)
1 buttercup squash (1.5 to 2 lbs), seeded, peeled and diced into pieces
1 red pepper, sliced
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
Kosher salt to taste
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn into pieces
Cooked rice for serving
~1/4 cup chopped cashews for topping


Slice block of tofu in half and press between layers of paper towels, under a heavy book. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, then cut into cubes.

Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallots, ginger, garlic and curry paste. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the tofu pieces and stir to coat in the curry mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add 1/3 cup coconut milk and cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 cups coconut milk, vegetable stock, lime leaves, and red chili. Add the squash pieces (you may have to remove some of the tofu to make room for the squash, so that the squash is immersed in the liquid, then return the tofu to the pot on the top). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the squash is near tender.

Add the red pepper and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes. Stir in the tamarind, tamari, lime juice, sugar and salt. Add the kale leaves and cover for about 2 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the kale is wilted.

Serve over rice.  Top each serving with a handful of chopped cashews.

Makes 4 servings. 

November 20, 2012

Toasted Buckwheat & Millet Granola


I'm finally back with another post!  If you noticed that things were a bit quiet on here for the past week and a half, the reason is that I was away at another conference, which kept me extremely busy! My sister and I were both invited to attend a conference in Seoul, South Korea and I just got back this weekend.  It was nice to return to some slightly warmer weather here in Ontario, since it was freezing in Seoul!

I was planning on doing another travel post to share some of the food that I ate on my trip, but it turns out that I really didn't have any interesting meals while I was there.  The only authentic Korean dish that I tried was a vegetarian bibambap (rice with lots of different vegetables and spicy Korean red pepper paste), which I shared on my Facebook page.  If you're interested in seeing more, you can check out my sister Natalie's post about our trip on her blog Once Upon a Cutting Board.

Since there wasn't a lot of vegetarian food readily available in Seoul, I was glad that I had brought some of my own snacks with me.  The day before I left, I made a batch of granola to bring along, and I liked it so much that I had to recreate it as soon as I got home so I could share the recipe with you!


Ever since I tried this buckwheat snack from SaSha Co., I've been wanting to make my own version of a granola using toasted buckwheat (also called kasha). Kasha is a heart-healthy whole grain made by toasting raw buckwheat groats, and is a great option to use as a base for gluten-free granola instead of oats.

I also added some uncooked millet to my granola, both for its nutrients and to add extra crunch! Along with the millet, I included slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, cherries and raisins as additional mix-ins.  Everything got coated in a mixture of almond butter and agave syrup and baked in the oven in a single layer to help it clump together.

After coming out of the oven, the kasha and millet took on an even stronger toasted, nutty flavour that I loved.  This is an extremely crunchy granola, so it's perfect for adding to milk or yogurt without getting mushy - this is actually the first cereal that I've been able to enjoy in a bowl with almond milk in a long time - it survived a photo shoot and was still perfectly crunchy by the time I was able to eat it afterwards!

I also liked that it wasn't too sweet, so it made a good snack for munching on its own too, which I did throughout my long journey to and from Korea!


Toasted Buckwheat & Millet Granola
Adapted from Mitten Machen

1 cup toasted buckwheat (kasha)
2 tbsp uncooked millet
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Dash of kosher salt
2 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dried fruit such as cranberries, cherries, and/or blueberries
2 tbsp sultana raisins

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, mix together the toasted buckwheat, millet, coconut, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

If your almond butter is on the thick/harder side, microwave it on medium power for 15-30 seconds, until it is thin and pourable.  Add the agave and vanilla to the almond butter and whisk to mix together. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.

Spread mixture onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Press down with a rubber spatula to form a large rectangle that holds together. Place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Remove and add the pepitas and sunflower seeds. Flip the mixture with a spatula and press together again to form a rectangle.  Return to the oven for 10 more minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle the dried fruit and raisins over the mixture, then press them down with a spatula. Let cool completely on the baking sheet without stirring. Once cool, break granola up into pieces. Store in a bag or airtight container. 

This was submitted to Wellness Weekend at Diet, Dessert & Dogs

November 09, 2012

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Scones


Starbucks' pumpkin scones are a tradition that I used to love to indulge in occasionally, but I actually haven't had one in a couple of years.  I've become used to my own homemade baked goods, which tend to have much less sugar and calories than the storebought kinds, and are much more economical too!

While I love pumpkin baked goods, one of my other favourite Fall vegetables to bake with is sweet potato.  For a lot of baking recipes, you can easily swap pumpkin puree with pureed sweet potato for a slightly different flavour.  I also find that sweet potato is naturally sweeter than canned pumpkin, so you can get away with adding a bit less sugar to your recipe!

For these scones, I started with a recipe for copycat vegan Starbucks pumpkin scones, but made some changes to turn them into spiced sweet potato scones instead.


These scones are not exactly like traditional scones - rather than having the crumbly, buttery texture of some scones, these are a bit flatter (which may have been my fault for rolling the dough too thin) and softer inside - kind of like a muffin top.

Personally, I loved the softer texture and the flavour of these scones!  The scones themselves weren't very sweet, so you could add a glaze on top like the Starbucks variety.  Instead of a glaze, I opted for a cinnamon-sugar topping, which added a nice bit of crunch and extra sweetness.  

These can easily be eaten just on their own - I even liked them cold!  You could also spread a little Earth Balance on top for more buttery flavour, or a layer of peanut butter or jam if that's how you like to eat your scones!  If I had a jar of pumpkin butter or apple butter on hand, I think that would be the perfect topping!



Sweet Potato Cinnamon Scones
Adapted from With a Side of Sneakers' Pumpkin Scones

1 cup whole spelt flour
1 cup light spelt flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp cane sugar
1/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup mashed sweet potato puree
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cold Earth Balance coconut spread (or other vegan butter)
Topping:
1 tbsp melted Earth Balance
1/2 tbsp cane sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through to cane sugar).

In a separate bowl, mix the almond milk, sweet potato, molasses and vanilla. Stir or whisk until smooth.

Cut the Earth Balance into the dry ingredients using a fork or pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined.

Press or roll dough out onto a floured surface into a square shape, about ¾” thick. Cut the dough with a knife in half lengthwise, and again across the width, to form four equal squares.  Cut each square in half diagonally to form 8 equal triangles.

Transfer scones to prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom and firm on top.  Let sit on the baking sheet for about 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack.

While scones are still warm, brush the tops with the melted butter.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the scones. 

Makes 8 small scones. 

November 06, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta with White Bean-Sage Sauce


A bowl of warm pasta with lots of veggies and sauce is one of my favourite comfort foods in the winter. I grew up eating my parents' homemade veggie and tomato pasta sauce and I still look forward to eating that meal whenever I'm at home!

It may seem surprising that I've never actually made my own tomato sauce for pasta!  I like to think the reason is that I want to keep my family's recipe special by not attempting to create my own version, but sometimes the truth is that I just use jarred pasta sauce.  Another reason is that I'm always tempted to try new recipes and unique ideas for pasta using different combinations of noodles, veggies, and sauces other than tomato.

The latest pasta recipe that I've tried was inspired by a white bean and sage pasta recipe in the cookbook Vegan Planet.  The original version was a simple linguine tossed in a sauce made from white beans and vegetable stock and infused with fresh sage.


For my own version, I added some garlic for even more flavour, used a thicker noodle to catch all of the sauce, and added some roasted cauliflower so that the dish would have something other than just noodles and sauce.

I thought this combination really worked well together!  The sauce ended up being nice and thick and creamy, even though there was no dairy in it. It had lots of flavour from the garlic, sage, vegetable stock and lemon juice, and the roasted cauliflower was the perfect addition!

Overall, this was a healthy, yet still hearty and comforting pasta dish for winter.  And the best part was that my leftovers lasted me all through the week, so I could look forward to coming home out of the cold weather and heating up a bowl for dinner!


Roasted Cauliflower Pasta with White Bean-Sage Sauce
Adapted from Vegan Planet

For the cauliflower:
1 head cauliflower
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup torn sage leaves
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2-3/4 cup vegetable stock

For the pasta:
1 lb dried pasta, such as fusilli
Lemon wedges for serving

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut cauliflower into bite sized pieces.  Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet.  Roast for 25-35 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. 

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and sage and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the beans, vinegar, salt and pepper and cook until beans are heated through, 2-3 minutes.

Transfer contents of the pan to a blender or food processor and blend, gradually adding ½ cup of vegetable stock. If you are making the sauce ahead of time, transfer it to a small saucepan and keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente.  Drain and return pasta to the pot.  Add the sauce and the cauliflower and stir until thoroughly mixed. If the sauce is too thick, add more of the remaining 1/4 cup vegetable stock. Transfer pasta to a serving dish.

Serve warm, with additional ground pepper and fresh lemon wedges for squeezing over top.

Makes 4-5 servings. 

November 02, 2012

Pumpkin Recipe Round-Up

Now that both Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween are over and the month of November is here, it feels like pumpkin season is practically over too!  So before you all get too sick of seeing pumpkin recipes on blogs, I thought I would do a round-up of some of the pumpkin recipes that I've tried so far this year!

Whenever I open one of those huge cans of pumpkin, I need lots of ideas for ways to use it up - it seems like most recipes only call for a small amount of it, especially when I'm making small batches or single servings, so it usually takes me a while to get through the can!


One way that I used my last can of pumpkin was adding it to a smoothie.  I based this one off of a few recipes I found on the internet and used my usual ratio of frozen banana and milk to get a nice thick, cold drink. The pumpkin was detectable without being too strong, and I liked the spices.  This is a nice option for the mornings if you're not in the mood for a hot pumpkin latte!

Pumpkin Latte Smoothie

1 frozen banana, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup almond milk
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1-2 tsp maple syrup or agave syrup (to taste)
1-2 tsp instant coffee
Dash of cinnamon

Blend all ingredients and serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving.


Other than smoothies, two other easy ways to use up canned pumpkin in the mornings are by adding it to hot oatmeal or to cold yogurt, both of which I've done a lot this season!  For my oatmeal, I admit to using a packet of instant oatmeal, with a couple spoonfuls of pumpkin stirred in and topped with maple syrup and lots of cinnamon  - a nice warm bowl to start off a cold Fall morning!


I also love making my own pumpkin yogurt by stirring a bit of pumpkin puree into vanilla yogurt and adding a dash of pumpkin pie spice.  If you use vanilla flavoured yogurt, I find that no extra sweetener is needed.

Add some granola and you've got yourself the perfect snack or breakfast - even better if you have pumpkin granola, like the one pictured above (which is actually a pic from last year because I didn't have a recent one of my pumpkin yogurt)!


One of my favourite things that I made with pumpkin this year was this snack cake.  I love baking with pumpkin because it adds a lot of moisture and produces such a nice texture. This recipe for pumpkin bars that I adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie is no exception!

Instead of baking mine in an 8x8 pan, I used one mini-loaf pan and one mini round cake pan, so that I ended up with a taller, fluffier cake. I loved the texture and taste of this cake - it had just the right amount of spices and was still really light and healthy.  It definitely didn't last as long as I thought it would before it was all eaten up!


I also wanted to make a healthy pumpkin snack in the form of energy balls that I could bring to school with me for a quick bite. I followed this recipe for raw pumpkin donut holes from Oh, Ladycakes with a few changes - I used half cashews and half walnuts, rolled oats that I ground into flour instead of the oat groat flour, and I added a dash of cinnamon and salt.

I really loved these - they tasted just like pumpkin pie but in a raw, chewy form! I cut the recipe down but afterwards I wished I hadn't!


Next was this pumpkin gingerbread soft serve, which is made in the same way as the popular banana soft serve, but has canned pumpkin, molasses, and pumpkin spice added in. I loved this seasonal variation on banana soft serve, and it's even healthy enough to eat for breakfast!



Of course, snacks, baked goods, and desserts aren't the only things you can make with canned pumpkin! I have lots of bookmarked dinner recipes that feature pumpkin, but the only one that I've actually made so far this year was this Golden Trio Soup from Healthy.Happy.Life.

I happened to have leftover butternut squash, sweet potato, and canned pumpkin (the golden trio) all sitting in my fridge, so this recipe was the perfect thing to make!  I made a few minor changes based on what I had on hand, like using coconut milk instead of almond milk, but I thought the flavours all combined really well and made a thick, creamy soup that I could scoop up with bread.

This definitely made me want to experiment more with savory pumpkin recipes!

Hopefully it's not too late in the season to keep trying out pumpkin recipes, because there are so many more that I've seen on other blogs that I'd love to try - including these pumpkin molasses cookies, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin black bean burgers, and pumpkin chili!  And if not, I guess there's always next year!


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