May 31, 2013

Roasted Corn & Pineapple Salad

Another week has flown by and with lots of events going on this weekend, I couldn't be happier that it's Friday! One of my favourite things about summertime is all of the outdoor activities and festivals happening - it seems like there's always something to do on the weekend, and it's a bonus when some of those activities are free!

This weekend, I'll be going to a friend's potluck party (and bringing a dessert that I plan on sharing with you soon!), and there are at least four other events going on - a free outdoor music show, a nighttime block party downtown, the local air show, and a food-crafts-art show in the park near my apartment. I can't wait to spend the weekend outside, as long as the weather holds up!

This salad that I made last weekend also feels like summer to me - it has roasted corn, warm pineapple, lots of fresh lime juice and cilantro, all combined into a fresh and flavourful dish that can be eaten on its own as a salad or as a salsa with chips.

If you haven't tried roasting corn in the oven before, I highly recommend it as an easy and fuss-free method for cooking corn - it's as simple as tossing the whole cob, husks and all, into the oven and leaving it in there for half an hour.

Along with the roasted corn, this salad also uses pineapple in my favourite form - hot! I love grilled pineapple, but since I don't own a BBQ, I broiled it in the oven instead, coated in a glaze of lime juice and agave to get a more intense sweet and sour flavour.

I liked this best eaten on its own, especially when I dug my spoon down to the bottom of the bowl to get all the juices, but I also ate some as a snack with some rice & bean based tortilla chips.

I will definitely be making this salad again this summer, especially once local corn is ready! Hope you all have a fun weekend and enjoy the sunshine!

Roasted Corn & Pineapple Salad

2 cobs corn
2 cups diced fresh pineapple
Juice of one lime (really squeeze it well to get all the juice)
1 tbsp agave nectar (can substitute honey for non-vegan version)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 a large jalapeno, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Trim a few of the outer leaves from the corn and remove some of the silk from the top. When oven is ready, put the corn in directly on the rack (leave the husks on). Let roast for half an hour.

Meanwhile, place the pineapple in a bowl. Mix the lime juice and agave together and pour over the pineapple, tossing to coat. Add the cumin and toss again. Transfer pineapple and the juices to a small baking dish.

When corn is done, remove from oven and set aside to cool. Turn on the broiler.

When broiler is ready, place the pineapple in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Stir, then cook another 4 minutes. Remove from oven.

While pineapple is cooking, remove husks from the corn and slice off the kernels with a knife into a large bowl. Add the cooked pineapple with its juices to the bowl. Add the jalapeno and cilantro, tossing to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm on its own as a salad; with tortilla chips; or as a topping for quesadillas or tacos. 

Makes 2-4 servings.

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

May 28, 2013

Hot or Cold Asparagus Soup

It feels like local asparagus season arrived late here in Ontario, and now that it's finally available I feel pressured to make the most of it before it's gone again! So this past weekend when I saw some beautiful super-thin spears of asparagus at the farmers' market, I was sure to pick some up.

And since I knew that fresh picked asparagus only lasts a couple of days, I wanted to make a recipe that would use up the entire bunch in one dish, which is why I made this asparagus soup!

You may be thinking that soup is the last thing you want now that temperatures are warmer, but the good thing about this particular soup is that it can be eaten hot or cold and it tastes great either way!

Another bonus is that the ingredient list is very minimal. The base of the soup is just water (although you could use vegetable broth for more flavour if you like), and the main ingredients are asparagus, onion, and garlic, with a bit of yogurt and lemon added at the end.

With such a simple soup, the flavour of the asparagus is really the highlight, which was what I was aiming for!

I tried eating it both hot and cold and I couldn't decide which version I liked better!  I appreciated the cold, creamy version as a light refreshing meal on a warm day, and I think I'll heat up my last serving for lunch today since it's a cool, rainy day and a warm bowl of soup would be nice!

Hot or Cold Asparagus Soup
Adapted from Food 52

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 lb asparagus, divided
3-4 cups water (I used 3)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt, plus more for serving (could substitute vegan yogurt)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
Extra lemon slices for serving if desired

Break the woody stems off the asparagus. Reserve a few stalks to use as garnish and chop the rest into pieces.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and asparagus pieces and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion and asparagus have softened.

Add water, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until asparagus is very soft. Remove from heat.

Transfer soup to blender in batches and puree until smooth. Add the yogurt, lemon zest and lemon juice and blend again. Taste and add more seasoning.

Serve hot, or refrigerate until cold and eat as a chilled soup. For the garnish, use a vegetable peeler to shave the reserved asparagus into thin slices. Top each serving with the asparagus shavings and an extra spoonful of yogurt if desired. 

Makes 3-4 servings.

May 24, 2013

Rhubarb Recipe Round Up

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been making a lot of rhubarb recipes lately in an attempt to use up the abundance of rhubarb that my parents grow in their backyard every year. 

Since I'm always on the lookout for new recipes and ideas to use it up, I thought it might be helpful to share a round-up of some of the rhubarb recipes that I've made, plus some extra links for recipes that I've bookmarked to try next!


For Mothers Day this year, my sister and I made this seasonal overnight baked french toast casserole with strawberries and rhubarb from Two Peas and Their Pod. This is not traditional french toast, but more like a bread pudding with cubes of bread studded with lots of fruit and topped with a light layer of crumble. We all enjoyed this as a special breakfast treat!

Even though hot porridge seems more like a winter breakfast to me, it actually works really well to add rhubarb to your morning oats for a hearty and healthy breakfast. I made this recipe from Eating Well, which was really easy - just cook some rhubarb on the stove in the same pot as your oats, and let it sit until it thickens up like porridge. A sprinkle of toasted nuts and brown sugar on top completed the bowl perfectly!

Of course, you can't go wrong with a fresh batch of rhubarb muffins for breakfast! I haven't made any this year, but last year's rhubarb loaf/muffins with a strawberry jam swirl and crumble topping were so good that I might have to recreate them again soon!

Other Breakfast Rhubarb Recipes from Around the Web:
Vegan Rhubarb Coffee Cake from Vegan Latina
Vegan Rhubarb Coconut Scones from The Food Voyager
Rhubarb and Strawberry Whipped Porridge from Scandi Foodie
Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie from Virtually Vegan Mama
Yogurt Parfait with Vanilla-Rhubarb Compote from Saveur
Vegan & Gluten-Free Strawberry-Rhubarb Pancakes from Fork & Beans

Savory Recipes

This past weekend, I used rhubarb in two different savory recipes: an appetizer and a salad. First, I made this chipotle rhubarb salsa from Naturally Ella as an appetizer for a family BBQ we had on Sunday. To make the salsa, you simmer some onions and rhubarb on the stovetop until the rhubarb breaks down fully, and add a dose of chipotle powder and paprika for a spicy, smoky flavour. I served this warm with tortilla chips and it made for an interesting and tasty twist on the usual tomato based salsa.

I also tried eating it chilled the next day as a topping for some crackers with brie cheese, and I really enjoyed it that way too!

If you missed my last post, this was the salad that I came up with as a way to incorporate rhubarb into dinner. I used canned lentils to speed things up, and tossed them with softened rhubarb, raisins, arugula and goat cheese, with a simple vinaigrette. I loved the tangy-ness of this salad and thought it was the perfect side dish to eat with my veggie burger!

Other Savory Rhubarb Recipes from Around the Web:
Beet and Rhubarb Salad from Yotam Ottolenghi
Indian Spiced Lentils with Spinach and Rhubarb from Vegetarian Times
Tofu with a Zesty Rhubarb Sauce from the taste space
Rhubarb and Chipotle Goat Cheese Pizza by Joanne Bruno, as seen on Marcus Samuelsson
Brie, Rhubarb and Green Peppercorn Crostini from Sunset Magazine


Last but definitely not least are a couple of rhubarb desserts that I made this past weekend. First, I made these vegan strawberry-rhubarb crumble squares from Vegetarian Times. They tasted like rhubarb crisp but in portable bar form, and I thought they had the perfect ratio of filling to crust and crumble. I also liked the hint of orange flavour from the addition of orange juice and zest!

Finally, we finished off our BBQ meal with these strawberry-rhubarb fools that I made using another recipe from Vegetarian Times. I just changed the blackberries in the recipe to strawberries and add a handful of crushed graham crackers as a topping.  This was the perfect cool treat to end our meal on a hot day, and I loved the addition of vanilla yogurt to lighten them up instead of using all cream. Even though we were all pretty full from dinner, we still polished off our desserts since they were so good!

Other Rhubarb Dessert Recipes from Around the Web:
Vegan Rhubarb Lemon Bars from Vegan Nom Noms
Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie from Post Punk Kitchen
Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies from Southern Living
Apple Rhubarb Crisp from Closet Cooking
Vegan Double Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcakes from Fragrant Vanilla Cake
Rhubarb & Strawberry Ripple FroYo from Green Kitchen Stories
Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet from Elly Says Opa

May 21, 2013

Lentil Rhubarb Salad with Arugula & Goat Cheese

Now that the rhubarb patch in my parents' backyard has fully blossomed, I've been taking full advantage of it by trying out lots of rhubarb recipes when I visit! 

Even though rhubarb is technically a vegetable, I've most often had it in sweet treats like muffins, pies, and crisps. Strawberry-rhubarb pie is one of my all-time favourite desserts, but I've been wanting to try using rhubarb in more savory recipes. 

Last year, I tried this savory rhubarb and kale pasta (seen in this recipe round-up from last year), and I've also had my eye on a recipe for Indian spiced lentils with spinach and rhubarb from Vegetarian Times

I liked the idea of combining lentils with rhubarb to add a sour component, but with the hot weather we've had here the last couple of days, I couldn't imagine eating a bowl of curry with rice for dinner so I improvised by creating this more seasonal salad combining rhubarb with lentils, arugula and goat cheese. 

I served this to my family for dinner with the warning that it was an "experimental salad", but we all ended up really enjoying it! The rhubarb was just soft enough to blend into the lentils without being too mushy, and I thought they added just enough tart flavour without overpowering the dish. 

The salad as a whole was definitely still on the tangy side from the rhubarb and the vinegar in the dressing, but the sourness was balanced out by the addition of sweet raisins and creamy goat cheese. 

So if you have some rhubarb to use up and you're looking for something different to do with it other than making a dessert, I recommend trying it in a savory salad like this one!  

And for more rhubarb ideas, check back later this week for a round-up of some of the other rhubarb recipes I've made recently!

Lentil Rhubarb Salad with Arugula & Goat Cheese

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-large shallot, thinly sliced
1 tsp grated ginger
1 heaping cup chopped fresh rhubarb (1” pieces)
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp sultana raisins
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 cups packed arugula
~ 2 tbsp goat cheese, crumbled

1 small shallot, finely minced (about 1 tablespoon)
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 tsp agave or maple syrup (to taste)
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of chili flakes
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, stirring. Add shallot and ginger and cook, stirring often, until shallots start to brown (about 3-4 minutes). Add rhubarb and cook until rhubarb softens, about 2-3 minutes (you don't want it to break down fully). Stir in lentils and let cook until lentils are heated through. Transfer mixture to a bowl.

Add raisins, parsley, arugula and goat cheese to the bowl and toss to combine. (Note: you can make everything up to this point and let sit at room temperature until ready to serve. I took my photos at this point before adding the dressing).

To make dressing, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.  When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad and toss to combine (you may not need all of the dressing).

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 4 servings as a side dish. 

May 17, 2013

Gnocchi with Sauteed Vegetables

I'm sure a lot of you have stand-by "emergency dinners" - something you keep in your pantry that can be whipped up for an easy meal on those days when you have no plans for dinner, no time to visit the grocery store, and nothing substantial left in the fridge.

I sometimes keep a boxed soup in the pantry for such occasions, although if I have leftovers of something stored in the freezer (veggie burgers are a great option) then that's my first choice!

Recently I was at an Italian grocery store and decided to pick up a package of spinach gnocchi to have around just in case as an emergency dinner. The problem was that I didn't have any sauce around to go with it, and what good is plain gnocchi if you don't have a sauce?

So this week I sacrificed my emergency dinner gnocchi and stopped at the grocery store so that I could make a planned meal with it using fresh vegetables and herbs instead of a jarred sauce.

Rather than making an actual vegetable sauce, I took the easier route and just made a sauté out of zucchini, carrots, spinach and grape tomatoes to eat along with my gnocchi. Seasoned only with salt and pepper and topped with some fresh basil, this was a really easy meal to put together and still tasted fresh, since it was full of actual vegetables rather than a processed sauce (not that there's anything wrong with that occasionally too!).

Feel free to change up the vegetables with whatever is in season, and parmesan cheese on top would go really well here too!

Hope you all enjoy the weekend - especially Canadian readers who have a long weekend - yay!

Gnocchi with Sauteed Vegetables
Inspired by Martha Stewart and Australian Good Taste

1 (500g) package gnocchi (I used a spinach flavoured gnocchi)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion (or half a large onion), diced
2 medium zucchini, sliced into half-moons
1-2 small carrots, diced (about ½ cup)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2-3 cups packed spinach
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup sliced fresh basil
Parmesan cheese for serving (optional - I didn't use any)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and let cook until they float to the surface of the water, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, stirring often. Add onion, zucchini, and carrot and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and spinach and cover the pan with a lid. Cook, covered, for about 2 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Remove lid and continue to cook for another minute or two, until the tomatoes have softened a bit. Add the drained gnocchi and toss to combine.

Season well and top with basil and parmesan (if using – I left it out). Serve warm.

Makes 3-4 servings. 

May 14, 2013

Frosted Blueberry Lemon Cake

Even though blueberry season is still quite a ways away (we only just got local asparagus and rhubarb in the last week here in Ontario, let alone berries), I've already made my first blueberry dessert of the year!

Our department was having an end of the year pizza lunch for everyone last week, and the students in each division were assigned to bring additional dishes. This year, our division finally graduated from salads to desserts, and I spent a lot of time deciding what kind of dessert I wanted to bring!

Eventually I chose this vegan frosted blueberry cake from Kathy of The Lunchbox Bunch. I figured a single layer cake was a nice size and could be cut into small pieces, since there were a lot of people to feed! I also wanted to offer a vegan option for anyone with dairy intolerances or other dietary restrictions.

With my recent string of bad luck in the baking department, I didn't have high hopes for this cake actually turning out and was prepared to have to run to the store for a backup dessert, but luckily this recipe was a success!

The cake was soft with a light crumb and stayed nice and moist even after making it a day in advance. I reduced the amount of sugar so that the cake itself wasn't very sweet, letting the blueberries shine. You could serve the cake by itself as a more plain breakfast or snack cake, but I went ahead and added a frosting to make it more of a sweet dessert cake.

The frosting is made with Earth Balance to resemble a traditional thick buttercream frosting, and I added some lemon juice to try to cut some of the sweetness. Next time I would use a bit less frosting since it was still a touch too sweet for my tastes, but if you have more of a sweet tooth, then go ahead and use a thick layer of it!

My cake was a hit at our department lunch, along with a lot of other great desserts like mini strawberry pies from Natalie, banana bread, lemon blondies, raspberry-coconut squares, cupcakes and even mini creme brulees! I was asked for the cake recipe by another student (who recently became vegan), so here it is!

Frosted Vegan Blueberry Lemon Cake
Adapted from The Lunchbox Bunch

2 tbsp ground flax
2/3 cup warm water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp rolled oats
1/3 cup almond milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup blueberries
Extra blueberries for topping

1/3 cup vegan buttery spread
2 1/4 cups icing sugar
2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 almond milk
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a 9" cake pan by spraying with cooking spray and dusting the bottom and sides with flour.

Mix the flax with water and set aside. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flours through to oats). In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (almond milk through to vanilla extract). Add the flax-water mixture to the wet ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the blueberries. 

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the sides are starting to brown and pull away from the edges of the pan, and the top feels firm and springy when you touch it. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should also come out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, beat the buttery spread with the icing sugar using a hand mixer or stand mixer until the icing sugar is incorporated. Add 2 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp almond milk and beat again until the frosting becomes creamy. If you want it creamier, add another teaspoon of almond milk. Add another teaspoon of lemon juice if you want more lemon flavour. Beat or stir in the lemon zest. 

Once the cake is cooled, spread the frosting onto the top (I left the sides bare) using a rubber spatula. Press blueberries into the frosting for decoration, in whatever pattern you like! 

Makes 1 single layer 9" cake.

Note: I stored my frosted cake in the fridge overnight and let it sit at room temperature for the morning before serving at lunchtime. 

May 10, 2013

Recipe Round Up: Recent Baking Successes and Flops

Happy Friday! We've been having gorgeous weather here, but unfortunately the temperature dropped and rain arrived today, just in time for the weekend! Hopefully it will warm up again in time for Mother's Day on Sunday, and in the meantime I've got a special recipe round-up to share with you today!

Instead of talking only about the recipes I've tried recently that have turned out well, I thought I would include some of the less successful ones as well, because let's face it, I'm certainly no expert in the kitchen and I end up with my fair share of recipe fails.  So hopefully you can learn from some of my mistakes and be encouraged not to give up when you have a few setbacks!

Today's post is also focused on baking - from breakfasts to breads to desserts, plus a few no-bake treats too!


I'll start with a few recipes I've tried from other blogs that I really enjoyed:

Noon Rogani (Cinnamon Turban Bread) from An Unrefined Vegan

I had never heard of turban bread before, but I was intrigued by this recipe for a vegan version made with whole wheat flour and an apple-cinnamon filling. The bread was pretty fun to make with the rolling and twisting involved, and it smelled amazing in the oven! I was worried it would be a flop because my dough didn't seem to rise at all, but I actually liked the way it turned out - it was more of a dense bread, perfect for toasting or spreading with jam.

Peanut Butter Coconut Granola Bites from Fabtastic Eats

I made these to have around as a snack for a weekend visit from my sister and her boyfriend. These are not a traditional cookie or square but more of a dry, crumbly snack that tastes just like peanut butter granola in bar form. They were pretty easy to throw together (just make sure you press them down firmly in the pan), and turned out really tasty! I didn't try this, but I imagine they would be just as good crumbled up and eaten as actual granola.

Raw Espresso Brownies from Food Doodles

I don't usually use cocoa powder in my no-bake snacks, but what attracted me to these raw brownies was the fact that they also had instant espresso (or coffee in my case) in them. They turned out better than I expected - despite being made of ground nuts, the texture really did resemble a chewy brownie. They made a perfect afternoon pick-me-up snack!

Peanut Caramel Chocolate Slices from Gluten Free Vegan Girl

These no-bake treats were a bit more work than the espresso brownies, but it was worth it to make each of the components! The bottom layer is a mixture of nuts and dates (cashews and almonds are my favourite combo), followed by a layer of date caramel in the middle, topped with a layer of cocoa date caramel, and finally a sprinkle of chopped peanuts. They tasted like a rich, chewy, caramel-stuffed chocolate bar, but without any added sugar or oil!


And now, here are a few recipes I've attempted lately that just couldn't be saved...

Sweet Potato Rye Flatbreads

This flatbread recipe sounded pretty simple - just mashed sweet potato mixed with flour, but there were minimal instructions so I didn't really know how it was supposed to turn out. I imagined a soft flatbread, somewhat like pita or naan, but what I ended up with was a crisp, extremely chewy (as in so chewy my teeth couldn't break through it) cracker-type bread.  I'm not sure whether I made a mistake, or if they were supposed to turn out that way, but I won't be trying them again!

Chocolate Buckwheat Bake

I was curious to try a buckwheat bake, since I've seen so many versions of them on the blogosphere, and my first attempt was this chocolate version. I made half of the recipe and baked it in a ramekin, using plums instead of cherries for the fruit. It definitely had an interesting texture - it was very thick and chewy, and dry on the outside with a more gooey center. I have to admit that I really didn't like the taste and I could barely finish half of it. The recipe that I followed gives lots of different options, so maybe it would have turned out differently depending on which ingredients are chosen. I'll have to give buckwheat bakes another try!

Coconut Pineapple Cake

I had high hopes for this loaf cake because it has some of my favourite flavours, but something went horribly wrong and it turned out inedible -  I didn't even bother to take a picture of it, it went straight into the garbage. I'm not sure exactly where I went wrong, but it must have been my attempt to one-and-a-half times the recipe and bake it in a larger loaf pan...unfortunately it was one of those batters that just refused to cook properly no matter how long I left it in the oven!  It seems like other people have made the recipe successfully, so I might have to try again without changing anything!

Almost but Not Quite

And finally, I've done some baking recently that turned out pretty well, but something just wasn't quite right...these are recipes that were close to being in the first category but need a bit of tweaking first!

Banana Peanut Butter Cacao Nib Scones from Peachy Palate

These scones definitely turned out edible and I've been enjoying taking one every so often from my freezer stash to have for breakfast.  I love the flavours of banana and peanut butter in them, but the texture just wasn't quite perfect, which is why I put them in the "almost" category.  The recipe isn't meant to make a traditional buttery scone, since there's no added fat, so they turned out more muffin-like. Mine were also a bit too dry and crumbly, which was likely my own fault for overbaking them slightly.

Oil-Free Zucchini Walnut Bread from Oh She Glows

This zucchini bread was almost a success, but once again was ruined by an odd texture.  Again, my own carelessness was at fault - I mixed my flax egg but then realized I completely forgot to add it to the rest of the  ingredients. By this point the loaf was already in the oven, so there was nothing I could do, and I think that may be why it came out with a strange gummy texture. I also thought it could have used a bit more flavour, although the chocolate chips that I added helped!  My parents both liked it though and ate it up, so maybe I'm just extra critical! Definitely a recipe to try again without leaving out the flax egg, since I liked that it's a healthier version of zucchini bread.

Peach Mango Bellini Bars adapted from The Realistic Nutritionist

I love fruity desserts and I love bellinis, so a recipe for healthy peach bellini bars sounded amazing! I ended up using a combination of mango and white peach marinated in a sweet white wine for the filling, and I adapted the crumble topping by using coconut oil.

The base of these bars was a bit unusual - the applesauce made them kind of chewy like a flatbread, but I still liked both the base and the topping. And while the filling tasted good, both the mango and the peach became super stringy after baking, so I ended up with tiny "hairs" stuck in my teeth after each bite.  I'm not sure if my fruit was too ripe, or if the wine I used caused some sort of reaction to break the fruit down too much, but I'd have to figure out how to prevent that from happening before making them again (which I'd like to do, because I still liked them otherwise!).

Rosewater Cardamom Pistachio Cupcakes adapted from PeaSoup

I've had it in my head for awhile that I want to bake something with rosewater, so I found a cupcake recipe to use as a guide and adapted it to make these vegan mini cupcakes flavoured with exotic flavours of rosewater and cardamom, and topped with pistachios.

The cupcakes themselves came out light and fluffy, and the frosting was thick and creamy like a buttercream frosting. While I liked the flavour combination, unfortunately the rosewater was about twice as strong as I would have preferred and it pretty much overpowered everything else. I still got a couple of good reviews from people who tried them, but I'll have to try baking with rosewater again before I feel confident posting a recipe for you guys!

That's it for this round-up! Have a great weekend and I'll be back next week with a new (successful) recipe!

May 07, 2013

Scrambled Tofu with Pesto, Tomatoes & Fava Beans

I know I'm a bit late to the game with this recipe since scrambled tofu is nothing new, but this was my first time actually making it, so I wanted to post my own recipe on my blog. Plus, it turned out so pretty and colourful that I just had to share it!

If you've never heard of or tried scrambled tofu, the basic idea is to take firm tofu, crumble it up into uneven pieces, add some seasonings and cook it on the stovetop. The appearance, taste and texture resemble scrambled eggs, but only to a certain degree - I'm not sure if you'd be able to trick anyone into believing they were eating eggs instead of tofu!

This is one of the easiest ways to cook tofu, as it can be ready in about 10 minutes! I've actually used this method once before when I made a version of pad thai with scrambled tofu, but I've been wanting to try it with a more breakfasty type of recipe that highlighted the tofu as the main component.

For this version, I flavoured the tofu with a bit of nutritional yeast and garlic, and mixed in some homemade basil pesto for an even stronger boost of flavour. I also added some heirloom cherry tomatoes and fresh fava beans at the end to round out the dish with a colourful vegetable component.

I loved how fresh and seasonal this tasted from the combination of the earthy fava beans, juicy tomatoes and nutty basil pesto. A handful of pea shoots on the side was a welcome addition to the plate to lighten it up a bit more!

While I enjoyed the scramble on its own, my favourite way to eat it was wrapped up in a tortilla - kind of like a breakfast burrito but much lighter and healthier tasting! I also liked how the tortilla held all the ingredients together really well - unlike a piece of toast, which tasted good with the scramble on top but was a bit messy to eat!

Now that I know how easy it is to make scrambled tofu, and how adaptable the basic recipe is by adding flavour with different spices, sauces, and seasonal vegetables, I'll definitely have to start making it more often!

Scrambled Tofu with Pesto, Tomatoes & Fava Beans
Adapted from Vegetarian Ventures and An Endless Road

Small package (175g) firm tofu
1/4 tsp turmeric (optional for a brighter yellow colour)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
~1/2 cup sliced cherry or grape tomatoes (I used heirloom tomatoes)
2-3 tbsp shelled fava beans*
2-3 tbsp pesto (I used this basil pesto recipe)
Handful of pea shoots (optional)
Tortillas for serving (I made my own using this recipe, cut in half to make two tortillas)

Remove tofu from package, squeezing out any excess water. Crumble tofu using your hands or a fork into a bowl. Add the turmeric and nutritional yeast and stir until mixed. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add tofu and cook, stirring often, for about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and fava beans and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the pesto and let cook until the pesto is heated through and evenly mixed into the tofu.

Serve warm, with pea shoots on top and tortillas for making wraps if desired (you could also just serve this with a side of toast). Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Makes 2 servings. 

*I started with fresh fava beans (in the pods), then removed the whole beans inside, steamed them briefly and then squeezed the actual beans out of the skin encasing them. Here are a couple of links that explain how to shell fava beans. 

May 02, 2013

Mango Oat Cookies

The past week and a half has been pretty busy, with family events, birthdays, chores, and nice weather to enjoy, which meant that my blog and recipe development has been a bit neglected! I also feel like anything I've tried to bake recently has ended up somewhere on a scale from lacking flavour to strange texture to flatout inedible.

The one successful recipe I've managed to produce this past week was these mango cookies, which I made for a few family members and friends who needed a little something to brighten their day.

The inspiration for these cookies came from this recipe for strawberry banana nut oatmeal cookies on Vegan Yack Attack. I made a few modifications to the recipe, replacing the strawberries with mango, leaving out the nuts and adding coconut for a more tropical flair.

I wasn't sure if fresh mango would really work in a baked cookie recipe, but they turned out just how I was hoping! The cookies were nice and chewy from the oats and had just enough sweetness. I loved the addition of the coconut chips and the burst of ripe mango in every bite.

These are best eaten on the day they're made, but the recipe makes a smallish batch and the cookies themselves are pretty light tasting, so you shouldn't have a problem finishing them quickly!

Mango Oat Cookies
Adapted from Vegan Yack Attack

1 tbsp ground flax
3 tbsp water
1 cup all purpose flour (next time I would use at least half whole wheat flour)
1.5 cups rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 medium-large ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Heaping 1/2 cup diced ripe mango
1/4 cup coconut chips (or coconut flakes)

First, mix the flax with water and set aside to thicken. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or spraying with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour to cinnamon). In a separate bowl, mix the mashed banana, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and the flax mixture.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Gently fold in the mango and coconut chips until they are evenly distributed.

Scoop out cookie dough in about 2-tablespoon sized portions and place on the prepared baking sheet about 1-2 inches apart. (Note: I found it easier to chill my dough for about 10 minutes before scooping to make it easier to work with). 

Bake for 15 minutes, until golden on the bottom and firm on top. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 19 cookies. 

Note: These are best eaten on the day they are made, but can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature.


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