Thursday, 26 December 2013

Nanaimo Bars!

Nanaimo Bars. AKA food of the Gods. Chocolatey, Icingy, Coconutty goodness. I love the way the top layer slides all over the icing layer forcing you to cram the whole thing in your mouth in one bite. Maybe that's just me? 

Anyway, PC came out with a "kit" for Nanaimo Bars and much to my surprise, the base ingredients are vegan! Which means if you're so inclined you can add some Earth Balance, non-dairy milk and egg replacer when you get home and complete the vegan goodness. I used almond milk and flax egg. 

I'd say the results were awesome. In total it only took about 20 minutes (thanks to the icy conditions out back which I used as my fridge/freezer). Well done PC!


My only suggestion with these would be to give as many away as possible so you don't eat the whole tray. At 300 calories a pop (damn you!) you should limit yourself to one and savor the hell out of it. 

Cheers!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Banh Mi Chay!

I apologize if the spelling is off on the title of this delicious comfort food, but I am relying on Google :)

I'm sure at this point you all think that I love most of what I make. This is totally untrue. Only about 1/4 of what I make ends up on the blog. I'm a touch neurotic and sometimes if I can't get a good picture, or if it's too much of a hassle I don't bother. I want to post easy and delicious meals. Not stuff that will make your left eye twitch. 

So, having said that... SANDWICHES, am I right?? There is something about a stuffed to the brim, slopping everywhere, practically a meal left on your plate at the end sandwich that is just awesome. 

That is exactly what Banh Mi Chay is. A vegan version of a Vietnamese sandwich. (They typically come with pork from what I gather...) 

I was unable to find the pickled daikon and carrots so I made my own. (Salt and sugar the matchstick veg, rinse, and brine with a mix of vinegar and sugar)



For the sandwich, the other ingredients:

1 large crusty baguette
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Tofu 
Starch (I used potato)
Cilantro
Vegan mayo 
Lime juice
Green onion 
Oil

First mix the vegan mayo with cilantro and a dash of lime juice. Then spread on both sides of the baguette, which has been sliced in half and rationed into sandwich size. 

Then heat a flat bottom pan with oil. Take your tofu and slice any way you'd like. You can to strips, or flat rectangles. Coat evenly in starch and dry until golden brown; about 2 minutes per side. Then set aside on a paper towel. I threw in some green onion for fun.


With your sandwich sauced on both sides, start assembling! (This sandwich gets awfully full, a helpful hint is to hollow the bread out of the middle and just use the crust!) 

I layered as follows (bottom to top):

Bread /sauce/ tofu/ green onions/
pickled carrots and daikon/ 
cucumber/ sauce/ bread



Hold on tight and enjoy! 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Baked Mac 'n Cheese!

Sometimes, we just want carbs. Cheesy starchy carbs. And on those days, make this dish. Baked Mac 'n Cheese. 

Ingredients:
-2 tbsp vegan butter
-1/8 cup flour
-1 cup non dairy milk (warmed)
-1 cup shredded cheese (I used soy mozzarella. It melts and strings and bakes well)
-1/2 tbsp mustard (I used hot mustard)
-1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Topping:
-1 cup panko
-1 cup shredded cheese
-1 tbsp oil
-1/4 tbsp nutritional yeast
-salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Boil elbow macaroni for 7-8 minutes until it's al dente. 

In a heavy bottom saucepan melt the butter on medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Slowly add the milk a little at a time mixing well. It will be splashy! Look out! Eventually it should be smooth and lovely. Then while it's at a low bubble add in the mustard and yeast, mix well and then add the shredded cheese. 

Now. Add your pasta and coat well. If you just want plain Mac and cheese once coated you can now transfer to a baking dish and make the topping. I like spice and flavour so I added in a 1/2 cup of hot salsa, some garlic and chili spice. 

For the topping, in a bowl mix the panko, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast. Then mix in the shredded cheese. Hand mix and add in the oil to coat well. Then spread on top and bake for 20 minutes. 

I have to score this a solid 9/10. It was amazing!! 


Friday, 6 December 2013

Vegan 'Egg' Nog

I have never been a big fan of egg nog. Rum, yes. Nutmeg, yes. Festive drinks, Heck yes. The egg part of the nog has always creeped me out. 

I stumbled across a vegan egg nog recipe online (Linked below). It is super easy and tasty, provided that you like rum and nutmeg.

Ingredients:
- 1 Frozen Banana
- 1/2 cup of non dairy milk (I used almond)
- Rum, to taste. (I used half a bottle ;))

Blend all ingredients in a blender, add ice if the banana isn't frozen enough or all that rum thinned it out. Ha! 

The picture isn't necessarily an accurate representation of the colour- it's in a caramel brown coloured glass and topped with nutmeg. But dang it's good!

I said this sh*t is bananas!

Ok, so maybe that's not really an appropriate title but I've been listening to Sirius XM 90's on 9 and I've heard more Gwen Stefani now in 2013 than I ever did in the 90's. 

Moving along, since I presume you want to know exactly what IS bananas. Well friends, let me tell you. VEGAN ICE CREAM CAKE. Oh god. So good. 

And as you've probably figured out by now, I love no bake dishes and it doesn't get much more no bake than ice cream cake. 

Ingredients:
-6 frozen bananas
-3 tablespoons almonds
-6 teaspoons of cacao powder
-3 tablespoons of hazelnut agave nectar
-8 Oreo cookies 

Start by crushing the Oreos in the food processor and set aside. Then mix all remaining ingredients in the processor. In a spring form pan, pour half of the "batter". Then cover the surface with the Oreo crumbs. Pour the remaining "batter" and put in the freezer to freeze overnight. 

To get the cake out of the pan it took a little bit of SMRT smarts. I put the pan open side down on the platter that I wanted the cake on. Then I slid it under low broil in the oven with the door open. After a minute or two it slid right down and onto the plate. I garnished the top with banana chips and voila! DONE! 







New England 'Glam' Chowder

Ok, so Faith requested that I make a vegan clam chowder and had she not also included a recipe (compliments of the awesome Post Punk Kitchen) I would have told her to go eff herself. Nicely, of course. :D

This recipe in particular uses mushrooms in place of seafood and nori for the "sea" aspect of things. My personal opinion is that mushrooms are nothing more than fungus grown in shit and there is no way I'm ingesting them voluntarily. However, I respect that for some reason people like them, and I'm quite fond of Faith so away I went. 

Ingredients:

· 1 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours

· 2 cups vegetable broth

· 4 teaspoons organic cornstarch

· 1 tablespoon olive oil

· 1 large yellow onion, diced medium

· 2 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons

· 3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick

· 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

· 8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick

· 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks

· 3/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste

· Fresh black pepper

· 1 to 2 nori sheets, finely chopped 

· 3 cups vegetable broth

· 2 tablespoons tomato paste

· 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


You can find the full recipe and instructions here:


http://www.theppk.com/2013/10/new-england-glam-chowder-video/ 


So the verdict! The cashew cream was a really nice consistency and easy to make. That's all I tasted to be honest. 


However, a direct quote from Faith might sum it up more positively for the fungi lovers out there; "The combination of ingredients almost perfectly simulated the taste of a New England style clam chowder. Texture and flavour wise the mushrooms truly enhance the dish. Awesome winter dish." 





Sunday, 1 December 2013

Sunday Dinner

After a super hectic few weeks, it is nice to be back to some semblance of normal. Today was laundry and some other "Sunday Chores" but other than that was pretty laid back and relaxed. Faith and I decided that a great way to reconnect would be a formal Sunday dinner at the dining room table. :)

On the menu, sweet and sour veggie meatballs, garlic and herb mashed potatoes and balsamic glazed brussel sprouts. 

Sweet & Sour Sauce:
-Icelandic Bilberry & Chilli Sauce (Sub for Apricot Jam)
-SoHot Bareback Berries Cranberry Hotsauce (Sub for hot pepper sauce)
-1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
-1/4 Cup White Vinegar
-1 Cup Ketchup
-1/4 Cup Minced Onion
-1 tsp dried oregano

Mix all ingredients and pour over veggie meatballs (I used PC brand) in a crock pot. Set on low for 4-6 hours and enjoy as your house starts to smell like heaven! We used a few subs because we had them. The Bilberry sauce was from our trip to Iceland, and I'm a little devastated that it's gone now!! 



The hot sauce is a from a company owned by a friend of Faiths. They're all delicious! You can check them out here:

www.sohotsauce.com

For the potatoes:

After cutting into cubes and boiling, I mashed them (skin on) and added the following:

-Vegan sour cream
-Vegan butter
-Chopped fresh parsley
-Minced garlic
-Almond milk

Use a hand blender to mix thoroughly and resist the urge to eat the entire bowl.

I served the meatballs on top of the potatoes and it was amazing.



For the brussel sprouts I steamed them first and then tossed them in equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I then put them on a cookie sheet with parchment paper and broiled for 3-5 minutes. 


French Toast!

For the last few weeks I've been making hash browns and chick pea hash for breakfast. Partly because I had a ton of potatoes and chick peas to use and partly because it's delicious! This morning I wanted something simple. We had company last night and I had left over baguettes to use. They go stale pretty quickly so I figured I'd make French toast. 



Ingredients:
2-3 ripe bananas
2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I use almond)
1.5 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp vanilla
Earth Balance, or other vegan butter sub.
Bread of your choice 

Blend all ingredients, pour into a bowl and set aside. Pre-heat a frying pan to medium high heat and melt Earth Balance. Dip both sides of the bread into the mix and place in pan. 



When brown, flip and done! 


I like my French toast sweet and salty so I also sprinkled mine with sea salt before flipping. Because I made a large batch I set the oven to low broil and lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

This made the toast nice and crisp! Serve with fruit and syrup (I used agave drizzled) and inhale!! 




Sunday, 24 November 2013

Potato Leek Soup

Potato & Leek soup is one of my faves!

Ingredients:
3 large bunches of leeks
10-12 small/med potatoes
4 cups broth (I used vegetarian chicken broth)
2 cups hot water
1 tbsp ground thyme 
2 tbsp parsley 
1 tbsp oil
Salt/Pepper to taste

Wash and slice the leeks. Add them to a saucepan with the oil and simmer covered on low for about 10 minutes. Stir and don't let them brown. 

In the mean time wash and cube about 10 small potatoes. When the leeks are cooked, add in the broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Stir in the thyme and parsley and let simmer. 

If you want the soup to be chunky, remove half and purée it in a blender and then stir it back in. I like it smooth so I used my immersion blender to purée the whole thing.  If it is too thick for your liking you can add hot water to thin it out. 



When serving, for a little flavour kick green Tabasco sauce stirred in is delicious! Enjoy! 



Wednesday, 20 November 2013

There's always time for curry!

For any other working parents, or just plain busy parents this post is for you! 

In our house, one meal that is always met with smiles (and more importantly no whining or fussing) is curried anything. Tonight I needed to cook up something in a hurry...I'm inclined to rhyme here, but I suspect you know where I'm going. 

Ingredients: (use as many or as few as you need depending on family size)

Lentils
Spinach
Onions
Peppers
Potatoes (peeled, cooked, cubed)
Baby peas 
Tomato paste (to thicken)
Almond milk (to make it creamy)

For seasoning I used a mix that I've been using for years. There are no preservatives and the spices are delicious.

Directions:
In a large saucepan add a tablespoon or two of oil (any oil of your choice) and add in the peppers and onions. Then once they're mostly cooked add in the lentils, potato, peas etc. Cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes. If you're adding spinach add it as a last vegetable. Then add in the tomato paste and almond milk and let simmer for another 10 minutes and you're done. 

In 20 minutes you'll have a fragrant and delicious curry! While it was cooking I made some rice and added in a pinch of saffron threads for colour and flavour. 


As you can see, I tend to cook for a family of 10 or 12 rather than the 3 that we actually are. This way we have leftovers for lunch tomorrow or dinner another night which is really handy on nights that we have extra curriculars. 

Enjoy!   

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Home Fries & Hash!

I love brunch. Like, I really REALLY love brunch. It is my favourite meal hands down. So you will appreciate my heartache and dismay when upon waking this morning my stomach was hungry and my cupboards bare. The word 'devastation' comes to mind. 

Somehow on an empty stomach I remembered the random smattering of food available and concocted a plan. Chick peas, 4 potatoes, 1 carrot, a handful of kale. 

First I washed and cut the potatoes into one inch cubes and parboiled them. (No more than 5 minutes.) Then after draining them I tossed them in a bit of olive oil and a ton of a super tasty mix of spices and baked at 425 for about 35 minutes.



In the mean time, I rinsed and drained the chick peas and used a pastry cutter to smash the hell out of them in a large bowl. I added some chili powder, hot sauce and tamari and continued smashing. Once sufficiently pulverized, I poured it into a frying pan that was pre-heated with oil. I then shredded in some carrot curls, added some caramelized onions and cooked on high for 5 minutes or so. Near the end, I added some chopped kale and done! 


DELICIOUS! 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Chocolate Caramel Cream Bars

I am so excited to start my Christmas baking this weekend that I started as soon as I got home from work! 

Chocolate Caramel Cream Bars. 

Just close your eyes and say the name. 

Chocolate. 

Caramel. 

Cream.

Oh lawd! There is so much awesome about this recipe. For starters, it's vegan. It's super high in protein. It tastes AMAZING. And it's no bake. Seriously. 

There are three layers; crust, caramel cream and chocolate. All you need is a food processor. For the crust start by putting one cup of nuts in and turn to "powder". I used pecans. Then add in one cup of pitted dates and voila. Crust. 

Line a square or rectangular dish with parchment or Saran (for easy lift out) and pour in the mixture. Spread evenly and then press down to compact. Now put it in the fridge and move onto the caramel cream.

For this, in the processor add 1/2 a cup of nut butter (I used organic unsweetened almond butter) and half a cup of organic coconut oil, melted. Then add one cup of pitted dates and blend into ridiculously good, drool worthy sticky caramel. Take the pan from the fridge, pour in mix, spread evenly and put back in the fridge.  Onto the chocolate! 

In a bowl mix 1/3 cup of coconut oil (melted) with 3 tablespoons of cacao and 1/4 cup of agave nectar. (You could also use honey.) Whisk well and when smooth pour on top of the mixture and bam! Done. You could put it back in the fridge to set unless you're impatient like me and then in the freezer they go! Within half an hour they'll be ready to lift out, cut into squares and INHALE. 



I'm quite proud of myself that I shared with not one but TWO friends and I'll even share with more. This recipe will definitely be in my "times by 3847383 for Christmas" list. Cheers!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Hot & Sour Soup!

Ok, so Faith has been hella demanding lately wanting such delicacies as lamb stew (which was surprisingly easy) and now hot and sour soup.

Personally, I don't like the soup. It has a thick gelatinous base with cabbage and mushrooms. Three strikes- I'm out. Faith on the other hand lives and breathes for the stuff! To each their own. Anyhow, seeing as I've grown quite fond of her I made the damn soup!

I got the recipe from this website:

The ingredients are mostly easily available except for a few. Chinese black vinegar was the most difficult to find. I eventually found it at Oceans but that in itself was a real ordeal and another blogpost altogether. The other thing that was hard to find was vegan "beef" broth but luckily Healthy Planet to the rescue!! 

Anyhow, on a difficulty scale I'd say it is pretty easy. About a 4/10. I'd suggest doing all of the prep of the veggies ahead of time and it will be a lot easier than doing it as you go. 

And, the fruits of my labour! 



Sunday, 10 November 2013

Double Chocolate Pancakes

I don't know about you, but every once in a while, I become RAVENOUS for pancakes. 

A well "buttered" pan + sweet cakey goodness = HEAVEN. I love the sweet and salty! 

Today I wanted something extra sweet so I decided to make some double chocolate chip pancakes. Ingredients were (roughly);

1.25 C whole wheat flour
2 tbsp raw organic coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
1 flax "egg"
2 C chocolate almond milk 

Make your flax "egg" first. 1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp of water. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes or so and you've got an egg sub! Then mix the dry ingredients well. You could add a tablespoon of cocoa if you want them super duper chocolatey. Then add in milk and flax "egg" and stir. You can make them as thick or thin as you'd like, just add more or less milk. 

After pouring in the pan add a few semi-sweet chocolate chips. Then flip and top with a few more. When they're good and melty, transfer to plate, slather generously in pure maple syrup and INHALE! 






Thursday, 7 November 2013

Coffee Muffins w/Mexican Cocoa Glaze

Ok, so I have managed to find a muffin/cupcake hybrid thanks to ecorazzi.com.  It has the smooth coffee flavours of a Saturday morning muffin but the sweetness of cardamom, cinnamon and sweetened cocoa that make you ooh and aah until the last bite.


For the Muffin Batter
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups organic coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm coffee (I used French vanilla)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl, all wet in another and then combine. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray your muffin tins, if they're not non stick. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Once they're cooled make the glaze. I dipped the top of the muffins in the glaze on low on the stove to get a pretty finish. 

For the Glaze Icing
1/4 cup vegan margarine


3/4 cup unsweetened pure cocoa powder
1/4 cup warm, brewed coffee
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 cup powdered sugar 
Salt, to taste
Basically melt and mix all ingredients in a thick bottom sauce pan and dip in muffins, or drizzle on muffins. And THIS will be the fruits of your labour!



Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Irish "Lamb" Stew

So I got a request to "veganize" lamb stew. I'm not totally into the whole idea of "stew" to begin with. In my head, an Irish stew would be potatoes and onions in gravy. End of story. But because I adore my wife, I decided to give it a go. Here is what I did:

1 Package Vegan Lamb (Yes! They make this!!!) 

4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 large onions, diced

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup (250 mL) vegan "beef" broth

1 tall boy can of Guinness 

1/4 cup (60 mL) tomato paste

1.5 tsp (7 mL) dried rosemary

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

2 tbsp (45 mL) all-purpose flour


After chopping and dicing all of the ingredients (except for the flour) I threw them into a crock pot, stirred them well to mix the tomato paste, broth and stout and set it to "stew" for 6 hours, stirring occasionally. I then turned it off and let it sit overnight. 


My god it was hard work!! Ha! 


Fast forward to this afternoon when I got home from work. I turned the crock pot back on.  I then used a spoon to extract about 3/4 cup of the broth into a small bowl. I then added in 2 tbsp of flour and stirred well until smoothe and added it into the pot and mixed well with the broth left behind. I then let it warm and simmer for another hour and a half. 


I'll be honest. My expectations were SO LOW for this. Seriously. Potatoes and chunks of "meat" in gravy. I'll pass thanks. Or so I thought!! 


The Guinness with the "beef" broth, rosemary and tomato paste make for a lovely hearty meal! I suggest you give it a try! 



Monday, 4 November 2013

Zucchini Banana Muffins

Few things make me as happy as zucchini. It is so versatile and yummy. I love zucchini chips, zucchini noodles in a good raw Pad Thai and now zucchini breakfast muffins. 

I got this recipe from suburble.com (the link to recipe is below)

I have got to stop saying this, because people will stop believing me but HOLY MACKEREL these are delicious. The cinnamon and nutmeg are om nom nom with the banana. I am so looking forward to having one (or two?) of these for breakfast. 

About the only thing I would suggest is that they should be baked directly in the muffin tin and not in a paper cup as they stuck to the paper a bit. This isn't exactly a problem but will no doubt be a touch embarrassing when I'm scraping it off with my teeth at work tomorrow. 

The end result:


Don't forget to check out www.facebook.com/veganhotmess 



Sunday, 3 November 2013

L-O-L-A, Lola!

I had no intention of ever reviewing restaurant fare on this blog; partly because I prefer to cook myself but more truthfully because I rarely get out of the suburbs to enjoy such luxuries. While our little suburban downtown does have some notable restaurants, none of them offer brunch and most certainly none of them offer a vegan brunch. 

Thanks to the generosity of grandparents I found myself child free this weekend. That meant that I could head downtown for some much needed catch up with a best friend while my other half was finally free to watch all the horror movies she pleased without the inevitable curse of having to rock an inconsolable me to sleep with the lights on. Win-win. 

After coming to pick me up this morning, Faith determined that she couldn't possibly make it back to the 'burbs without food. She was hangry and in need of coffee. I had already consumed my weight in Starbucks (which is no small feat...) and was focused enough to try and formulate a plan. Originally I was just going to suggest something quick and dirty to stave off the hanger, after all, we were in a rush to get back to "real life". 

The thing is, I hate to pass up an opportunity to try a new restaurant. And so out came google and with a simple search of "vegan brunch Toronto" up came Lola's. It was nearby, had a seemingly conscious menu and had the added bonus of being on Church St. Sold!

We were blessed with parking right out front and headed in. There were a few people waiting for friends but we were seated within minutes. The atmosphere was lovely and the coffee came quickly, which was a relief. They even had almond milk- take that hanger! 

I ordered a curried tofu scramble with home fries and toast. Faith had the eggs rancheros. 

Honestly, the curry was perfect! The texture was spot on and the caramelized onions, herbs and other flavours worked like a charm. It had a side of broiled tomatoes which complemented the curry beautifully. The toast (which was also gluten free) was thick sliced and had a wonderful texture. 

The service was also great. Admittedly I can be an annoying patron. I am happiest in the small window between "stay on top of me as a guest" and "leave me the fuck alone to eat my meal". Not only was our server adorable, his timing was PERFECT! Well done! 

All in all, I'm so glad we opted to sit and eat something and didn't just grab filler en route home. If you're downtown and want to enjoy a good meal- I'd highly suggest Lola's.

634 Church St. 
(Just S of Bloor)
http://lolaskitchen.ca 

Don't forget to check out my page on Facebook so stay current on drool worthy recipes! 

www.facebook.com/veganhotmess

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Vegan Eggs Benny

One thing that I really miss since switching to a vegan diet is eggs benny. Not so much the egg itself, but the stack of awesome flavours! So today for brunch I made a vegan version.

Sauce:
2 tbsp Earth Balance 
1 tbsp flour 
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp turmeric
1 pinch cayenne

Melt butter, whisk in flour. Add half of the almond milk. Bring to a boil and take off heat. Mix in yeast, spices and lemon juice and set aside. 

For the "eggs" I just pan fried 1/2 inch slabs of firm tofu, which were rubbed with sea salt in vegetable oil.

When they were almost done I put the sauce back on and slowly added the other half of the almond milk and whisked it until smooth. 

For plating, I layered baby kale, thick sliced Roma tomatoes, the tofu and drenched with sauce. On the side is a pre-bought vegan curried potato thing that gets no more mention because it wasn't good. Ha! 

Without further adieu... BAM! Delicious layers of vegan awesome! 


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Cold rolls!

Ok, so I've been snacking on cold rolls lately and realized that not everyone knows how to make these awesome snacks/apps.

Ingredients:

- Rice paper 
- Leafy green (Spinach, lettuce, kale etc)
- Veggies (Cucumber, carrot, avocado, sprouts, peppers etc.)
- Herbs (Cilantro, Mint, Parsley etc)

The beauty is that you could really do anything! 

I did kale, red pepper, carrot, cucumber and avocado.

To make it easy I had a bowl of pre-prepped veggies in the fridge. On the stove you'll need a pan with about an inch and a half of water and set the element to just above low. The water should be warm but not too hot to touch with bare hands.

Put one wrap at a time in the water for about a minute.


When it's ready it should be really soft and pliable, like this:


Let it drip dry for a second and then lay flat on a cutting board. Then load on your veggies:


Fold in the corners over what will be the "ends" of the roll. Then fold one of the two remaining sides and roll into "spring roll" shape. And you're done!


The rice paper is sticky so you don't have to seal with anything. Then slice in half and serve with your fave dip! I used a Szechuan  peanut sauce. 


Enjoy! 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Spicy Bean Flautas!

Ok, so tonight's dinner goes in the top ten for awesome. It is flavorful, healthy, quick and DELICIOUS. 

I wanted to make taquitos, but from recipes I was looking at they were mostly fried and the baked ones seemed a little bland. So I made my own recipe, as I often do. It most closely resembles Mexican Flautas. This is a nice spicy one but you could easily modify to make it less so.

- 1 package of gluten free rice wraps (You can use any wrap, we just wanted to try these)
- 1 can green Mexican chili sauce
- 1 can refried beans with green chilies
- 1 can corn
- 1 can black turtle beans
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro 

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.


Then spoon the mixture into the middle of a wrap and roll tightly, leaving the ends open. Put the Flautas on a parchment lined paper and spray with olive oil (I use a Misto) and then bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. I also added some vegan cheese to the top but you could add it inside if you'd like. 

Once they're out of the oven they should look more or less like this. 


To serve, I cut the it in half and added a dollop of Tofutti sour cream and sprinkled that with dried cilantro flakes.


I suggest you try these RIGHT NOW they're that good.  

Cheers! 

Vegan What?!

Ok, so one thing that seems to go hand in hand with a vegan lifestyle is overall health and well-being. 

We all know the ethical reasons that people go vegan for, and it's pretty obvious the natural health benefits from conscious eating (even regardless of whether or not it's vegan). But what about other stuff that we do on a daily basis that's unhealthy? 

When I think of "all natural" products and the people who use them I automatically picture the "granola hippy" reeking of patchouli and sporting bloodshot eyes while reciting "namaste".  All stereotypes aside, I think they're onto something! 

Deodorant. Anti-Perspirant. Necessary evils. But do they have to be evil? A lot of conventional deodorants are a chemical cocktail and really not good for you. (Namely the aluminum) But what's the alternative? A healthy blend of patchouli and B.O? NO THANK YOU.

I started researching for natural deodorants that won't leave me feeling paranoid that every bad odour I smell, or think I smell, is me.  And that's where I found this recipe for a natural deodorant that claims to really work. It can be found here:

http://wellnessmama.com/1523/  

I followed the directions and added some tea tree oil (it's a natural anti-bacterial agent) and now to test it! But not me! Haha 

My lovely works from home, and thus has limited human interaction most days which makes her the perfect guinea pig for this experiment. It's also works because she exercises throughout the day, thanks to the "7 Minute Workout" app so that will test its stink-fighting ability. 

The final product looks like this:

It's still solidifying, but basically starting tomorrow Faith will rub a pea sized amount under each armpit, and go about her daily routine. When I get home from work, I'll do the sniff test and report back.

Stay tuned!! 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Banana Pancakes

It's a pancake kind of morning. And nothing could be easier than these! 

-1 ripe banana
-2 tbsp coconut flour
-1 "egg" (I used a flax egg)
-1/2 tsp baking powder

That's it! You can add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom if you'd like. I just did mine plain. 

Smash the banana until it's pretty mangled, then add in the egg and whisk until it's frothy and weird looking. Then add your dry ingredients, mix well and you're done. 

You can use coconut oil or earth balance in the pan, I used earth balance. Then cook 2-3 minutes on each side and you're done! Top with crushed walnuts and agave syrup and you're golden!


Bon apetit! 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Butternut Squash Ravioli!


Ok, so tonight I didn't make the soup I thought I'd make. I got home later than expected and instead picked up a Pho soup for my sickly wife. The kiddo got some other leftovers thrown at her so I could start on something I've been excited about all day. Butternut squash ravioli.

Probably one of my fave pasta dishes, which isn't saying much since I'm not a big pasta fan anyway. Regardless, what makes this my fave dish is the combination of savory, sweet and spicy. What's spicy you ask? 

Candied habanero pecans! 


To make these, set the oven to 375. While its warming up get two bowls ready. One full of water and one with your spice mixture. I used brown sugar and habanero powder. (I bought this ages ago and use it for EVERYTHING!)

Put the pecans in the water and then one at a time dip them top and bottom in the powder and lay evenly on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat until your left eye twitches and the sheet is full. 

Then bake for about 5 minutes. They will bubble and look totally gnarly, but don't fret. Once they've cooked and cooled carefully pick each one up and place on "clean" parchment paper. I transfer them to one side and then fold the paper in and use the back. Once they're cooled, jar them and pretend that it was easy. 

Now on to the pasta. First the ravioli shell!

Add 3 cups of semolina flour, 6 tsp of olive oil, 1 & 1/2 cups of room temp water and a dash of salt. Mix the dough and when it's done wrap in a tea towel and set aside for 30 minutes. 

While you're waiting on that make your filling, or the guts as I like to call it. I cheated and had pre-cut butternut squash. Few things anger me like trying to cut up a whole squash. Then add onions and carrots and boil. Once they're boiled, drain and immersion blend the heck out of it. Then in a small pan add some olive oil, minced garlic and nutmeg. Once it's all cooked nicely add into the butternut mix and stir. Now your guts are done! 

They should look like this:


Now back to the dough. Unwrap it and roll it out on a well floured surface. Then use a cookie cutter, or well floured cup edge to cut your ravioli.  I used a scalloped edge cookie cutter for my shape. 

It should look like this:


Once the sheet is done, get a roll of tin foil and some vegetable spray handy. This will be your friend/nemesis for the next hour and a half. Break off a piece of tinfoil about 8 inches long. Spray a "line" of vegetable oil. Take one of your shapes, add a small spoonful of guts, put a top on, crimp the edges with a fork and voila! You have your first ravioli. Now place it on the veggie spray and repeat until suicidal, or until all of the dough and guts are gone. You will need a new sheet of tin foil every 3 pieces. The pecans don't look so bad now, do they? DO THEY?! Sorry. It's been a long night. 

If you've managed to stay with me, your pasta should look like this:


Wrap the pasta up nicely, don't give into the urge to smash it to the ground. Just place it gently stacked into the freezer and let it freeze. (Even if you do wish it would burn in hell instead.) 

I digress...

Now you have pasta! All that's missing is a simple tomato basil sauce. I didn't make that. But in theory to construct the most delicious meal follow these steps:

1. Boil pasta until it floats. Then strain.
2. Top with tomato basil pasta sauce.
3. Add some spiced candied pecans.
4. Die and go to heaven.

No clever sign off, I'm just out. Toodles!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A little spelt goes a long way...

I am so excited about tonight's dinner I can barely contain myself. 

I bought a pre-made spelt dough ball, which comes around the size of a softball. I had a hankering for a nice baked flatbread and after slicing off the right size and making flatbread there was tons more leftover. Naturally, I thought CALZONES!! 

For the flatbread, I used a wooden rolling pin to get it to the size I wanted and then added some matchstick sweet potato and hand torn baby kale. I used a silicone brush to add some olive oil and seasoning and then topped with caramelized onions and some sea salt. 

LOOK AT THIS BEAUTY!!!

Then the calzone. I rolled out the remaining dough into a large "circle". I spread some pesto, topped with baby kale and sliced roasted red peppers, then some vegan mozzarella and more kale. Sealed it up and brushed with olive oil.

HOT DAMN!!!

I'm off to enjoy the fruits of my labour now. Toodles!!! 

Falafel!

Falafel can rarely go wrong in my books. Last night I wanted one after the gym so I made some garlic hummus, spread it generously on a whole grain wrap, topped it with baby kale and cukes, smashed on a few baked falafels, drizzled some tahini and hot sauce and OM NOM NOM!!! 

Sometimes, it ain't pretty but it hits the spot!

Cheers!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Coconut Mini-Loaves...

Ok, so I saw a recipe for coconut bread and was intrigued. It came from the same website as the mango chutney. (www.hotelmockingbirdhill.com)

4-Cups Plain Flour
2 tsps Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
3-Cups Grated Coconut
¾ Cup Caster Sugar
1 tsp  Vanilla Extract
1  Egg (beaten)
1-Cup Milk

Preheat oven for 375, mix dry ingredients, then add wet. Bake for 50 minutes and voila!

It was not a vegan recipe, calling for milk and eggs. I substituted almond milk and a "flax egg" for the real deal. I also subbed coconut flour and coconut sugar for regular flour and sugar. Here is the result. 


It is a pretty dry loaf, coconut flour tends to be very "absorbent" and trying to take that into consideration I almost tripled the almond milk. (I halved the overall recipe and still used 3 cups of milk.)

The outside is crunchy and the inside is very...hrmmm. Kind of like a dry scone. All in all I'd give them about a 5/10. My original plan was to slather it in jam anyway, so once I did that they were a solid 7/10. (I used Crofter's Superfruit Blend.) 

I might give them another go with non-coconut flour. But not any time soon. Now I need homes for these loaves! Who loves coconut, huh? :)


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Mango Chutney!

I was flip-flopping between chutney or pickle, but went with chutney because the recipe seemed to have the nicest spices... I found it on this website:

http://www.hotelmockingbirdhill.com/
preserve-pickle-jamaican-zest/

It smelled wonderful while simmering, even though it didn't look that nice necessarily. 


One or two of the mangoes I purchased were on the sour side, but I'm hoping that all of the tamarind, raisin and date sweeten them up. 

Normally I wouldn't mind too much except that these particular preserves have a destiny to fulfil. There is a woman named Cassandra who works at a store that I often find myself at. 90% of the time that I'm there I am cranky, distracted and hangry. Until I see her! 

She embodies what ALL customer service agents everywhere in the world should aspire to be. She is not just delightful, she's helpful! She knows where everything is, has a smile that's contagious and an energy that can permeate any amount of negative funk. I now find myself looking for her while I'm there. 

I may have promised her mango pickle, not mango chutney, but somehow I suspect she'll forgive me. 

Ta-Daaaaaaaaa!!!!!

Heirloom Tomato Chow-Chow!

Holy. Mackerel.

So, we all remember the BEAUTIFUL heirloom tomatoes my friend Nancy bestowed upon me. Let me refresh your memory...

Well, THANK YOU NANCY!

I made a brine of:
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoon turmeric
  • 4 tablespoon pickling spice
  • 2 tablespoon habanero pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 pounds firm green and red heirloom tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 5 medium onions, diced
  • Once you start boiling the brine, wow. Delicious! 

You can find the full recipe online at Food Network, but I changed theirs a bit.

I have never canned before, so I made a few novice mistakes. I didn't wipe the rims before putting the lids on. Who knew my messy ways could actually hinder the process? Oh well. Once I re-did that step (ahem, following instructions) they sealed within 10 minutes. Hooray!

They're now sitting on the counter cooling and I am SO EXCITED!


I had a bit that didnt fit in the jars, so naturally I taste tested. WHOA MAMA. The tart taste of tomato hits you first, followed by a kick in the ass from the habanero and then it finished with the sweet sugar taste.

I WILL PUT THIS ON ALL THE THINGS!!

You should too :)

And now, Mango Pickle...