January 29, 2013

Layered Sweet Potato Dip

With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, I've been thinking about snacks that I could make to eat while watching the game. I'm not a big football fan by any means, but watching the Super Bowl is a tradition for me, and along with watching comes eating a meal of football food!

My traditional Super Bowl snack is usually a dip to eat with tortilla chips.  In the past, I've made an Indian inspired layer dip, my favourite plantain guacamole, and the standard layer dip that usually includes shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa.

This year, I wanted to change things up a bit, and I found the perfect inspiration from Two Saucy Sisters blog, who put a unique spin on layer dip by adding a layer of mashed sweet potato.  I loved this idea, but I thought the sweet potato on its own might be a bit plain, so I decided to make a sweet potato hummus to use as one of the layers instead.

The sweet potato hummus came out super thick and creamy and was spiced up a bit with flavourful ingredients like garlic, lemon juice, and notes of cumin, cayenne and smoked paprika. And that's just one layer of this dip!

In addition to the hummus, you add a layer of mashed avocado with lime juice, then some salsa, and finally you top it off with plain yogurt. You can also add a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and a drizzle of sriracha sauce to give the dip even more of a kick.

This is actually really easy to put together, especially if you make the sweet potato layer ahead of time.  I loved how creamy the dip was and the way the layers mixed together when you dug in.  I think a great layer dip is one where each component tastes great on its own, but they come together to make something that tastes even better, and this dip definitely does that!

You can serve this in one larger dish for easier sharing, or divide it up into small cups to make fun individual dip portions, like I did. Just dig your spoon all the way to the bottom to get a bit of everything, and spread onto a tortilla chip - or just enjoy straight from the spoon!

If you're watching the game this Sunday, I hope you have fun cheering on your favourite team and of course cooking and eating lots of good food!  Also, I've set up a new Superbowl tag for some of the recipes on here that I think would make good Super Bowl food (like quesadillas, salsa, dips and fries), so feel free to check that out for more ideas!

Layered Sweet Potato Dip
Adapted from Two Saucy Sisters

*Note: I didn’t include specific amounts here – just use as much of each as you like, as long as you include approximately equal amounts of all four main components (sweet potato hummus, avocado mash, salsa, and plain yogurt or sour cream).

Sweet potato hummus (recipe below)
1 ripe avocado
1 tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper
Taco seasoning (optional)
Prepared salsa (I used a mango salsa)
Plain yogurt (can substitute sour cream)
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Sriracha (optional)

First, make the sweet potato hummus (see instructions below). 

Next, make the avocado layer: Chop the avocado and place in a bowl. Give it a rough mash, then add the lime juice. Season with as much salt and pepper as you like, and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Continue mashing until smooth.

To serve in individual sized cups: Start by placing a large spoonful of the hummus in the bottom of each cup. Next, add an equal amount of the avocado mash. Top with as much salsa as you like. Finally, add a spoonful or two of plain yogurt or sour cream (Note: I added one more spoonful after taking these photos). Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and a drizzle of sriracha if desired.

To serve in one container: Layer ingredients in the same order, spreading each one out to fill the container.

Serve with tortilla chips and spoons for scooping.

Makes enough for 4 individual sized cups. You will have lots of sweet potato hummus left over, so if you want to make more cups, just double the amounts for the avocado layer and use more salsa and yogurt.

Sweet Potato Hummus
1/2 lb sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1.5 tbsp tahini
1.5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp salt

Place sweet potato chunks in a steamer basket and steam, covered, until tender (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat but keep the cooking liquid aside.

Place cooked sweet potato and all remaining ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add some of the cooking liquid from the sweet potatoes to thin it out (I added 1 tbsp). Taste and add more seasoning if desired.

Transfer hummus to a bowl and keep refrigerated.

January 24, 2013

West African Vegetable Stew

For those of you living in areas that have been hit by the arctic cold weather this past week, I think you'll appreciate today's post for a big pot of healthy vegetable stew!  I made this on Sunday night and with six servings to enjoy, it's been getting me through the deep freeze this week (although I sadly just ate up my last serving for lunch today).

Ever since my trips to Zambia and Kenya this past year, I've been wanting to try cooking more African-inspired dishes.  So I was intrigued when I noticed a recipe for "mafe" in one of my new cookbooks and learned that it is a West African peanut stew traditionally made with meat, but this version was adapted to be vegetarian.

I combined that recipe with a similar one in another cookbook to come up with this variation on mafe.  The base of the stew is a flavourful blend of onion, garlic, ginger, and hot peppers.  Next, you add a mixture of vegetables - I used sweet potato, green pepper, okra, tomatoes and cabbage, which are cooked in vegetable broth and apple juice. Finally, you stir in some cilantro and a generous amount of peanut butter to thicken the broth a bit.

I was a bit nervous adding the cabbage and okra to this dish because I'm not really used to cooking with them. I also know that okra has kind of a bad reputation for being a slimy vegetable, but I had tried it in Zambia and loved it, so I was willing to give it a chance here!

And I was glad that I did - the okra basically blended in to mix with the other vegetables, adding some mild taste and texture without being too noticeable.  Actually, the okra and cabbage ended up being my favourite bits to eat in this stew!

This was definitely the kind of hearty dish that I needed this week - it both warmed me up and filled me up, and had a nice spicy heat to it that wasn't overpowering but still left me with a runny nose! Serve with some rice or couscous to help soak up the broth, and you've got a nice winter meal to enjoy!

West African Vegetable Stew
Adapted from Ripe From Around Here and Vegan Eats World

1.5 tbsp vegetable oil
2 small yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into ½” cubes (about 3 cups)
1 tsp cumin
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 a small head of cabbage, chopped and core removed
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 tsp salt
1.5-2 cups chopped fresh okra
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
4-6 tbsp chopped peanuts
Cooked rice or couscous for serving

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown. Add garlic, jalapenos, ginger, and sweet potato. Stir in the cumin. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the green pepper, cabbage, tomatoes, broth, apple juice, and salt. Simmer on medium heat, covered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the okra and cook for 5 more minutes.

Place the peanut butter in a small bowl. Take about ½ cup of the hot broth and add it to the bowl. Stir until mixture is smooth, then transfer back to the pot and stir to mix it in.

Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.  Let cool slightly.  Serve over rice or couscous. Top each serving with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Makes 5-6 servings

January 21, 2013

Paneer & Spinach Quesadillas with Cilantro Chutney

After making my "PLT" sandwiches, I wanted to come up with another use for the rest of my paneer cheese, and my first thought was to use it in quesadillas!

I took my inspiration for these quesadillas from one of my favourite things that I ate when I was in India - parathas.  Parathas are basically an Indian flatbread stuffed with a variety of fillings, from the classic potato (aloo) paratha to more unique combinations like cauliflower and daikon, or onion with mushrooms.

One of my favourite parathas to order used to be paneer with spinach (also known as palak-paneer paratha), cooked until the outside is golden brown and served with spicy green chutney and cool yogurt. Here's a look at my actual order from a paratha restaurant in India:

While I could have attempted to recreate this at home, I decided to try to take the filling ingredients and use them in tortillas shells instead to make these quesadillas!

And since quesadillas are so much better with toppings like salsa and sour cream, I took the typical paratha condiments, cilantro chutney and plain yogurt, and used them to top my quesadillas.

After not having much success with my last attempt to make quesadillas, I was super excited that these turned out the way I wanted! The only caveat is that the paneer doesn't melt easily, so if you want an extra gooey, cheesy filling, just stick the cooked quesadillas in a warm oven or the microwave briefly after you've cooked them. This also works well with any leftovers - I thought they were even better after being reheated!

Since the paneer is rather flavourless on its own, the spinach cooked with onion, chili and ginger helped to spice up the filling.  But what really took these quesadillas over the top taste-wise was the cilantro chutney. While I think that any storebought chutney would still taste great as a condiment here, I was so glad I took the extra effort of making my own.

The chutney was super spicy for my taste (even with only one green chili), but the heat was balanced out by the lemon juice that I added.  Swirling some creamy plain yogurt into the chutney as you spread it on your quesadillas also helped to mellow out the spicy bite!

Paneer & Spinach Quesadillas

~5 cups packed spinach leaves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 green chili, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
Dash of salt
~2 cups (200 grams) paneer cheese, grated
6 small whole wheat tortillas
Cilantro chutney (storebought, or recipe below)
Plain yogurt

Wash the spinach and let dry in a colander, squeezing out any excess moisture with your hands.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, chili, and cumin and cook, stirring often, until the onion softens (about 4 minutes).  Add the spinach leaves and a dash of salt. Cook until the spinach leaves are wilted and most of the moisture has evaporated, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a bowl.

To make quesadillas, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Lay a tortilla in the pan and sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the grated paneer over half of the tortilla.  Top with about 1/4 cup of the spinach mixture. Fold the quesadilla, bring the empty side down over the filling, and press down with a spatula. Once the bottom side is lightly browned (about 2-3 minutes), flip and cook the other side for another couple of minutes.  Remove from pan and transfer to a plate. (If you are making a larger batch, you can transfer the cooked quesadillas to a baking sheet and keep in a warm oven (200°F) while you cook the remaining quesadillas).

Repeat the process until the cheese and spinach mixture are used up – mine made enough for 6 small sized tortillas. Serve warm, with the cilantro chutney and plain yogurt.

Cilantro Chutney
Slightly adapted from Vegan Eats World

2 cups packed cilantro leaves (it’s okay to leave some thin stems in)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 green chili, minced
1 ¼ tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water (plus more if necessary)

Add all the ingredients except for the water to a food processor or blender. Blend until everything is mixed together.  Add half of the water and blend again. Continue to blend, gradually adding more water as necessary, until the mixture is as smooth as possible (I used 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp water).

Transfer to a small container and store in the fridge.

January 17, 2013

"PLT" Sandwich (Paneer Sandwich)

After our Indian Feast on New Year's Eve recently, I seem to have rediscovered my love of paneer - a soft and mild-tasting cottage cheese that is featured in many popular Indian dishes like saag paneer. If you have a well-stocked grocery store or an ethnic food shop in your local area, then you should be able to buy paneer to use in your own homemade Indian-inspired dishes, like this sandwich!

The recipe, which comes from British chef Anjum Anand, is modelled after a BLT sandwich.  Of course, it's not quite the same as a BLT as it has paneer cheese instead of bacon (hence the name PLT), but I think this vegetarian version is much tastier anyway!

The basic components are slices of paneer that have been marinated in a spiced yogurt mixture, fresh tomato, lettuce, and (vegan) mayo.  I decided to replace the lettuce with spinach, since spinach and paneer pair so well together, and I added some curry powder to the mayo spread to give it more flavour.

Even though it looks like a pretty simple sandwich, all of the spices and textures made it much more exciting than the name "PLT" implies! The paneer is broiled so that it has a chewy texture that reminded me a lot of firm tofu (actually, you could probably confuse the two if you didn't know it was paneer!).

I loved the mild Indian flavours that the paneer soaked up, and the curried mayo added a nice creamy and tangy element.

I made my sandwich with a thin sandwich bun, but you could also use toasted bread if you prefer a more traditional sandwich. The recipe makes enough for two sandwiches, but you could easily double the amount of paneer and keep it in the fridge to put together more "PLT"s throughout the week!

"PLT" (Paneer, Lettuce & Tomato) Sandwich
Adapted from Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast

For the paneer (makes enough for 2 sandwiches):
~150g paneer cheese, sliced into 1” thick slices (I cut two long slices, then cut each slice in half for 4 pieces)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp each paprika, chili powder and cumin
1/4 tsp Indian curry paste (optional for more flavour)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste

For each sandwich (double amounts if you are making two sandwiches):
Sandwich bun or 2 pieces of toasted bread
2 tsp vegan mayonnaise or regular mayo
1/4 tsp curry powder
1 tsp lemon juice
Half of the cooked paneer slices
Handful of spinach leaves, stems removed
2 slices of tomato, seasoned with salt and pepper

First, make the marinade for the paneer.  In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, ginger, garlic, spices, curry paste and lemon juice. Add a dash of salt.  Coat the paneer slices in the marinade and let sit in a ziplock bag or a shallow bowl or container for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven broiler. When broiler is ready, transfer the paneer with marinade to a small baking dish and cook in the top half of the oven for 8-10 minutes. Flip paneer pieces and cook the other side for about 8 more minutes, until the edges are starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

To assemble sandwich, mix together the mayo, curry powder, and lemon juice until smooth. Spread mixture on the top side of your bread or bun. Lay some spinach on the bottom half, and place two pieces of paneer on top. Next, add the tomato slices and top with a bit more spinach. Close sandwich and serve immediately.

Makes enough for 2 sandwiches. 

January 11, 2013

Eggplant, Chickpea & Pomegranate Stew

It seems like this week flew by - It was my first week back at school after the holidays, so I had extra work to catch up on. I also decided to try out a couple of workout classes at the school gym because they were offering a free fitness week, so that kept me at school later than usual too (not that I'm complaining - it felt great to squeeze in some exercise during the workday)!

With less time and energy left over to cook meals for myself this week, I was happy that I had made a big batch of this stew on Monday to get me through!

I saw this recipe in a magazine that my older sister got for me in Ireland before Christmas, and I was drawn in by the beautiful photo of the dish as well as the ingredients.  In particular, I was intrigued by the addition of both pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses - an ingredient that I've been meaning to try out for a while, after reading about it on Janet's blog!

The recipe was pretty easy to follow, although I made a few tweaks and changed the amounts of certain ingredients. Basically, you cut thin slices of eggplant and saute them on the stovetop to get them nice and brown, then you layer the slices in a casserole dish like a lasagna with a mixture of chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, garlic and spices.  The chickpea mixture is also enriched by the pomegranate molasses, which is thick and syrupy with a sweet and tangy flavour.

I have to say, this is probably my favourite eggplant dish that I've tried so far. By slicing it thin and browning it well, it loses some of its spongy texture and paired well with the other ingredients.

I also loved how the pomegrante seeds took this from a simple eggplant and chickpea stew to something a bit more interesting and flavourful!  And now that I've finally tracked down a bottle of pomegranate molasses, I can't wait to start trying it out in more recipes!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Eggplant, Chickpea & Pomegranate Stew
Adapted from Cook Vegetarian magazine (online version here)
Note: I called this a stew but unlike a typical stew, it does not have a lot of liquid, so it's more of a dry stew (for lack of a better term)!

2 medium eggplants (about 1 lb each), sliced lengthwise into ½” thick slices
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 green chili pepper (or other small pepper), minced
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
Dash of cinnamon
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes (I used the no-salt added kind)
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Pinch of chili flakes (optional for a spicier stew, depending on how hot your chili pepper is - mine wasn't very hot)
Salt and pepper to taste
~1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4-6 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and lay in a colander (I divided them into two colanders). Let sit for about 20 minutes, then rinse the salt off with water and dry the slices with paper towel.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Heat 2 large skillets over medium-high heat.  Pour 2 tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl and use it to brush the eggplant slices. Brush one side of each eggplant slice and lay the oiled side face down in the skillet.  Repeat with as many eggplant slices as you can fit in the two pans without overlapping. Once the slices are in the pan, brush the top side with oil.  Cook each side for 3-5 minutes, until well browned, then flip over and cook the other side.  Transfer cooked slices to a plate and repeat process with the remaining eggplant slices until they are all cooked.

Bring one pan back to medium heat with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger, chili, and spices. Cook, stirring often, for about 4-5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Add the chickpeas and tomatoes to the pan. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and chili flakes (if using) and season with salt and pepper.

Layer half of the eggplant slices over the bottom of a greased 13x9” baking dish. Pour about half of the chickpea mixture over the slices, spreading with a spoon or spatula to distribute evenly.  Cover with the remaining eggplant slices, then top with the rest of the chickpea mixture. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

When ready to serve, sprinkle the parsley and pomegranate seeds over top of the dish, or you can serve each portion and then add about 1 tbsp parsley and 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds (or more if desired) as a garnish to each plate. (Note: Before eating, you might want to use a knife to cut the eggplant into smaller slices; otherwise, you can just use your fork to break it up as you eat).

Makes 4-5 servings.

January 07, 2013

New Years Eve Indian Feast

Last year on New Years' Eve, my family and I enjoyed a huge spread of Asian inspired food, including peanut noodles, mango salad, fresh rolls, lettuce wraps, dumplings, and more.  We liked it so much that my sister suggested doing a similar thing this year, but changing the theme.

The theme we decided on this year was Indian food and since I love Indian cuisine so much, I claimed the right to plan out our menu, which I wanted to share on my blog with you!

After last year's experience of spending all day on New Year's Eve in the kitchen, I wanted to use purchased ingredients as much as possible this time to limit the amount of work I'd have to do!  A couple of trips to ethnic shops got me all of the ingredients I'd need, and we ended up with a delicious spread with a nice variety of dishes.


First, we had a round of drinks and cold snacks as appetizers.  My sister made the Indian-inspired drinks to start off the evening, which were these fruity mango bellinis made with fresh mango puree and champagne - delish!

For the food, I knew I wanted to include bhel puri, a savory and spicy snack of puffed rice, crushed papdis, peanuts and crispy sev noodles (shown below). All you have to do to prepare this is buy a packaged mix of bhel puri (although you can make your own if you feel like it!), and stir in two kinds of chutneys (the mix comes with little packets of sweet and spicy chutneys) to add even more flavour. I also added some chopped tomatoes and cilantro after this pic was taken.

This is a good snack mix for sharing with a group of people - although it should be eaten immediately before it starts getting soggy from the sauces.

Another easy snack to put together was this masala papad - crispy pappadum that I cooked on the stovetop, topped with a mixture of tomato, red onion, cucumber, green chili, cilantro and spices. Just break it into pieces and enjoy as a refreshing appetizer!

And now for the highlight of the appetizers round - these dahi batata sev puri (I'm not exactly sure of the proper name for them, as I've seen them called many different names!). I bought a package of premade puri shells and broke holes into each one so that I could add the filling. The filling was a simple mixture of boiled potato and chickpeas with finely chopped red onion and chaat masala spice.  Here's a picture of the filled puri shells:

Next, I poured in a spoonful of cool plain yogurt into each one, followed by a spicy cilantro chutney and sweet date-tamarind chutney. The final topping was a bit of chopped fresh cilantro, some sev, and another sprinkling of chaat masala.  It took longer than I planned for filling each one, but luckily my sister came along to help out with the last few steps!

These were definitely everyone's favourite appetizer - they've got the perfect balance of sweet and spicy flavours that explode once you pop the whole thing into your mouth! If you want to try making them yourself, here's one of the guides that I followed.

Finally, I also made a raita to serve along with the appetizers. I followed this recipe for rainbow raita from Vegetarian Times, except I replaced the mint with cilantro. This cool and soothing dip was much appreciated  once all of our mouths were set on fire from the spicy food!

Hot Food

After the appetizers, it was time for some cooked Indian food!

I considered making my own samosas, but figured I should save the time and effort by buying some fresh samosas from the local Indian food store instead (they were still homemade, but by someone else!)

I bought two kinds of vegetarian samosas - the smaller ones were filled with spinach and paneer cheese, and the bigger ones were the more traditional potato and pea filling. I thought both kinds were delicious, especially served with tamarind and cilantro chutneys!

For the homemade food, I put together two vegetarian main dishes. First were these skewers of paneer cheese and peppers, marinated in a creamy tikka masala sauce and cooked on the stovetop. They were pretty easy to make, especially since I cheated a bit by using a premade sauce, and they tasted great too - I loved the soft, crumbly paneer!

I also made a tofu dish using a recipe from one of my new cookbooks, Vegan Eats World.  Slices of pressed tofu were marinated in a yogurt sauce with lots of spices (this time I did make the sauce from scratch!)  and baked in the oven along with lots of sliced red onion on top.

I'm not sure if this dish is authentic tandoori, or if you could even find something similar in India, but all that mattered to me was that it tasted good! If I had to choose a favourite out of the hot dishes, this would be it. I thought the texture of the tofu was perfect, and I loved the flavours. Too bad I was already full by this point so I only ate a couple pieces of it (but I did get to enjoy the leftovers afterwards)!

Since this post is already getting long, I'll try to summarize the rest of our meal without pictures!  Along with the tofu, we had tandoori chicken kebabs for the non-vegetarians that were marinated in the same sauce as the tofu.

I also heated up some storebought naan bread (another time saver, although I would have preferred homemade!), and made some basmati rice that I ate with more raita mixed in.

Overall, it was a great meal and a delicious way to end 2012!  And if you have any questions about any of the dishes, feel free to leave a comment - I just didn't want to make this post too long by giving detailed instructions for each dish!

January 04, 2013

More Highlights of 2012

I've already reviewed what the most popular posts were on my blog this past year, but I wanted to share a few more personal highlights before I move on to posting new recipes!

2012 was a year for:
  • Travel: I was lucky enough to visit five new countries this past year (for school/work), where I enjoyed trying out the local cuisine: Singapore, Thailand, Kenya, Zambia, and South Korea

Looking back over my posts from 2012, there were a lot that I wanted to choose as my personal favourites, but I've narrowed it down to just five!

And to make it easier on myself, I eliminated the recipes that were already included in the Top 10 Most Popular posts of 2012.  But first, I wanted to give special mention to one of those posts that would probably be my favourite thing that I made all year - these black bean cups with plantain guacamole - so good!

The rest of the Top 5, in no particular order...

Favourite Snack: Coffee, Coconut and Cherry Energy Bites

I've made these as both energy balls and in bar form, and I love the combination of tart cherries with the bitter coffee beans and hint of chocolate!

Favourite Vegetable: Cauliflower Stuffed Artichoke

This was my first time cooking and eating a whole artichoke, and I was proud of how it turned out, especially  with the delicious cauliflower couscous stuffed inside!

Favourite Salad: Roasted Squash, Beet and Chestnut Salad with Warm Walnut Dressing

Roatsed winter veggies and chestnuts (not from a can!) combined with a rich, nutty dressing made a memorable warm salad!

Favourite International Inspired Recipe: Tofu Banh Mi

This sandwich may not have been truly authentic, but I loved the bold, spicy flavours of the pickled veggies and marinated tofu.

Favourite Dessert: Vegan Pina Colada Cake

For my birthday cake this year, I went with tropical flavours in a single layer cake that was nice and moist and bursting with coconut!

That's it for my recap of 2012 - I had a lot of fun creating and sharing all of these recipes with you last year, and I can't wait to keep it up in 2013!

January 02, 2013

Most Popular Posts of 2012

Happy New Year!  I know I'm a bit late to the party, but I love to see everyone's recaps of their best recipes from the past year, and I wanted to share my own list too!

I always look forward to seeing which posts were the most popular from the year, based on total number of page views. This year, there was a good variety in the top 10 - from snacks and appetizers to main meals and a couple of healthy desserts too!  It also seems that avocado was a popular ingredient this year, as it's featured in 4 of the top 10 recipes!

There were a few other recipes that didn't make the Top 10, but were personal favourites of mine, so I might have to come back with a second list featuring my top picks!

Note: I excluded recipes that were posted in 2011, but you can check out the most popular recipes of 2011 in this post

10. Broccoli Tofu Stirfry with Peanuts

This was a great weeknight meal that comes together quickly and can be eaten on its own or with rice. My favourite part was definitely the peanut sauce!

9. Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas

Another broccoli dish - this time it forms the sauce for a healthy green pasta with chickpeas - a fun twist on pesto!

8. Plantain Guacamole in Black Bean Cups

This was one of my favourite things I made in the past year - black beans are used to create a mini edible cup, filled with a delicious sweet and tropical guacamole and topped with sauteed plantain slices - I'll have to revisit this for Superbowl this year!

7. Pumpernickel Sandwich with Avocado, Sprouts and White Bean Spread

This is still one of my favourite sandwiches I've ever eaten, especially with fresh, soft pumpernickel bread. With protein and healthy fats from the white beans and avocado, it also makes for a filling lunch!

6. Raw Beet Cheesecake

This recipe is extra special for me - I took on a challenge to create a raw, vegan and gluten-free dessert for Valentine's Day and I couldn't be happier with the way this pretty pink "cheesecake" turned out!

5. Avocado Potato Salad

My contribution to a virtual potluck was this potato salad that uses avocado for a creamy dressing - perfect summer picnic food!

4. Thai Green Curry with Tofu and Eggplant

I love exploring Asian food, and this was the first time I made my own curry paste from scratch. It was worth it - the green curry sauce had so much Thai flavour!

3. Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Peanut butter, banana, and oatmeal are a popular combination - especially in Google searches, and I was glad that so many people were interested in this healthier cookie! My family and I loved these too.

2. Pad Thai with Scrambled Tofu

In my first experience with shirataki noodles, I made this version of pad thai using scrambled tofu instead of eggs. I loved the combination of textures and flavours in this dish!

1. Quinoa Granola Bars

And the most popular post of 2012 was this take on granola bars with lots of good stuff packed into them - cooked quinoa, oats, whole wheat flour, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds plus no added sugar or oil!

As quinoa grows in popularity, more and more people are looking for new and creative ways of using it - and "quinoa granola bars" was the second-most popular search term (after "Vanilla and Spice") leading to my blog this year, so it's no surprise that this recipe was number 1!

Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting on my posts this year!


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