Monday, November 5, 2012

Spicy Pineapple Cashew Rice

I am now on day three of having no budget for groceries. I have to say I am really luck that I seem to hoard non-perishable food. I have lots of dried herbs and lots of canned and frozen vegetables. It is truly saving my life this week.

I made this recipe sort of loosely based on chicken and rice. It was something that I lived on while when I was traveling in Thailand. At the time, I was a little scared of spicy food and a little scared of anything that I didn't know. Chicken and Cashew was this one dish that was everywhere. On every menu at restaurants and sometimes on food carts and stands. It had a little spice, but nothing crazy. It was filling and most of all, tasted really good. I decided to veganize this... but my version is very, very loosely based on this Thai version. What you get in Thailand is usually very simple. I am not sure how they are cooking the rice, but it seems flavours. Mine, however, is a pretty much a dump of all sorts of stuff I had in my fridge with a base of rice and cashew... anyways, both are good, but this version has not meat making it even better.

Spicy Pineapple Cashew Rice
*Serves 2-3, about 30 minutes to cook if rice is pre-made.

Many Ingredients not pictured. I sort of built
this as I cooked.

  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice
  • 1 can of pineapple, drain and reserve the juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 of a package of firm tofu, pressed and diced
  • 1 Tbsp oil (I used canola)
  • 1/2 cup of toasted cashews
  • 1/2 cup of frozen (or fresh, I don't have any) spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp toasted coconut
First, drain the pineapple and reserve the liquid in a bowl. Add to it the soy sauce and the tofu and let it marinate for at least 20 minutes, but can go as long as a couple hours if you want.

Prepping for marinade - Very important when dealing with tofu.
Marinated is always better

If you have this meal planned out, do this the day before. It can
soak for up to 8 hours.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tofu to the skillet and cook for about 5-6 min a side or until it is golden brown. Add the cashews and the pineapple and cook another 5 minutes or so. Now add all the other ingredients (except the reserve liquid and the green onion). Stir fry this for at least 5-6 minutes or until everything is well heated through. If things are sticking, add some of the reserve liquid, about a table spoon at a time. I ended up used 3-4 table spoons. if you like a little crunch, turn the heat up for a couple minutes and stir fry on high to crisp up the rice.

Building the dish.. I started with tofu

Added my other base ingredients

Then really, I just kept adding until this is what I had!
One pot/one bowl meal.

Now when this is done or close to done, toast some coconut. Get your unsweetened shredded coconut and add it to a dry pan on low-medium heat. Toast for about 3-4 minutes. Watch it really closely and remove from heat as soon as it browns. Add it to the rice bowl with the green onion prior to serving.

The final result - Sweet, spicy, filling. Good.

For a dish that is essentially a basic grain and left over and frozen foods.. I cannot believe how good this tasted. It was nice to start this week of being on a zero budget with something good. It made me feel like I might actually be able to pull this off. The toughest part for me is that I have no fresh fruit for snacks and I have no popcorn... I have been relying on these for snack foods and without them, cravings have gone from strong to intense.

Just four more days to get through.... Not going to be easy!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Let Me Eat Cake

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am not always the most responsible with money. From time to time, I just say fuck it and go spend. I like doing it, it feels good and I rarely have remorse, even when I get the credit card bill. I go from being flush to broke all the time and I am pretty used to it. When I feel flush, I spend and when I am broke, I stay home.. and ground myself. I have never had long term goals to strive to. even though I am not the biggest thrill seeker or risk taker out there, I try very hard to live in the present. I don't want to die with thousands saved away for a rainy day. I make mistakes all the time, but I rarely dwell on them. Shit happens and  hopefully in the end I will make more good decisions than bad and most of my risks will pay off.

This week, I noticed a large amount of money sitting in my account. Not so much that I could pay off everything I owe and be good, but enough that it was like I was a month ahead. I happily paid all my bills for the month... not realizing that I had forgotten I was holding money int here for a cheque that was going to be coming out soon... So that cheque, all my bills and my rent all were withdrawn and just like that I was broke until next pay day. So much for being responsible!!

Normally Sunday is my day to make lots of food, do lots of food shopping and plan out the week. This week was a little different. Even though I could have gone and got groceries, I figured maybe this would be a good time to see what I can do with what I have. Sometimes my best creativity comes out when I am forced to look at what I have stocked and figure out what to cook with it.

I think this week is going to be an interesting one. I have lots of grains (Rice, barley, Wheat  berries, cornmeal), but not so much for protein (Chickpeas, dried beans and a little bit of tofu).  I have decided that I am only going to purchase food with whatever cash I can find in my apartment... so far I have found about $10, but opted to do laundry with it.

Feeling a little down about this forced grounding... I started really craving something sweet. I had an overwhelming urge to buy cake mix. Luck for me, I seemed to have enough ingredients kicking around to make a cake.. not a mix, but from scratch. It's always better from scratch. the nice thing about a cake is that almost all the ingredients are ones that are pantry items.. nothing that really goes bad. Really all you need is flour, sugar, milk, chia egg and baking powder. From there add any other ingredients you see fit. My favourite cake is golden yellow cake... I am pretty sure that nice golden colour comes from all the egg they put into most recipes. I decided that I needed to figure out how to veganize this..

Giant Vanilla Golden Cupcake Cake 
*Makes 1 small cake (8" pan), double for using in a 9 X 13"

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 chia egg (1tsp ground chia + 2 Tbsp water)
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric (makes it golden)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (you may add more if you like)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract
  • 2 cup of icing sugar 
  • Toasted Coconut
  • Chopped walnut
For the Cake: Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Get a sieve and sift the flour with the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Use your mixer and now mix in the butter, milk and vanilla until well combined. Now add the egg and the tumeric and mix very well (About 3 min or so). Prepare your pan but either spraying with cooking spray or using shortening to crease it. Add a little flour and cover it on the bottom and sides.

With cakes, sifting is always better

Another great thing about this recipe, only one bowl

Pour the batter into the pan. For mine, I used what seems to be a giant cupcake pan. Honestly I am not really sure what the real purpose of this small of a pan is, but it works perfect for me. I tend not to share my cakes, so whatever I make either gets thrown out or eaten. Personally I would rather just make less.

Giant cupcake, ready for the oven!

Put the cake into the oven and bake. Mine took about 35-40 min, but if you were doing cupcakes, I would think about 23-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them. To tell if they are ready either use a toothpick (Insert it into the centre of the cake and it is ready when that comes out clean) or look for when the edges start to pull in from the pan.

The worst part... waiting for the cake to cool

And.... ready for icing

Once the cake is done, let it cool fully before icing.

For the icing, melt the butter in a bowl. Sift in the cocoa, cinnamon, chili powder and cayenne. Now add in the the icing sugar and mix until it is well absorbed. I used about two cups, but it depends on what consistency you like. I recommend adding the icing sugar by a half cup until you get the desired consistency.

Trick to this icing, combine everything but icing sugar first

Then.. add a ton of sugar... a ton

Lastly, get some fun toppings like coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles.. what ever you want and add them on top of the icing.

Top of the cupcake to you!

This cake is so good. A little spicy (No heat, but you can tell it isn't a mix!) the tumeric gives it a beautiful golden yellow colour and the chocolate icing is just the right amount to get a good amount on the cake.

Since I used a giant cup cake pan, I decided to lop off the top of the cupcake and make it into a mini cake. Check out the results... I think it turned out pretty awesome.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Last Chance for Noorish - Third Time's the charm

I have posted before about Noorish. It is a new-ish cafe that opened up in Garneau. New meaning that has been around about a year now. I went to Noorish on opening night. At the time, there was really only a couple vegetarian restaurants in Edmonton, and it was so exciting to have a new one.

third time was the charm

You can read my first review here. To summarize it, I liked the food, I did not like the management of the restaurant. Nice people, but seemed to have no clue how to manage a restaurant. I have stayed away from Noorish for quite a few months now, when a friend of mine suggested it for dinner tonight. I figured  if they have not gotten their shit together by now, they probably never will.

What is Noorish? Well, to me it is a hipster hang out, trendy and for the DINK's of the world with lots of disposable income to invest in all the latest health crazes. They are a raw, vegan (Mostly, I think they have cow's milk for coffee), heavy on the gluten-free cafe attached to a yoga studio. The serve elixirs and healthy warm and cold beverages, a small menu of typical cafe food (Think burger, stir-fry, salads, etc)

Was not a busy Tuesday night, so that may have helped them stay on top of service
That said, I here this place still gets packed, get a reservation if you go

My final overall impression? The good is tasty and filling, the staff is friendly. The menu is predictable and over-priced. If I was doing a star rating, for me, I would say 3 stars out of 5. I think it depends on your wallet and what you're looking for though... some would probably give it much more than what I do, but then... It's my blog and my rating system...

First, the cons. The menu, to me, is same as what I find everywhere. They have some salads and a soup and a sandwich, burger, pizza and some stir-fries... I am always looking for something different. The menu does not stand out because even though they are raw.. I can get similar food anywhere. For me, there is nothing on the menu that I HAVE to go back for.

Usual stuff.. burgers, sandwiches etc, etc. I did notice a kids menu.
I don't remember that from last time!
Prices - $8 for a drink (elixirs), $18 for a stir-fry or a small plate of nachos. $12 for hummus and 10 crackers. I am sorry, but I am not seeing the value. Maybe it's because of the ingredients they use... or that they know their target audience will pay to be there, but when you combine and somewhat predictable menu with high prices, it does not make me want to come back. I wish there was a couple things on the menu that were a little more economical... at least then there is a choice for the budget conscious. My friend and I had two appetizers, spit one dessert and I had a green tea. Total? $30 before tip. That is no entree, no alcohol. Let's just say, I didn't really feel like I got my money's worth even thought the food was yummy.

Hipster Vibes - Ok, this is a personal preference thing for me... but I feel going into that restaurant, that I really should have worn a fedora and many, many accessories that have no business being worn together. For some reason, I can expect this from places that are dressy. I know when I go to a fancy restaurant in jeans that I will stand out.. but with these hipster places, I am always surprised. You never know when you're going to land in one. For some reason when I end up in a hipster-type spot, I feel uncomfortable and judged... I don't know why, I just do. Something about trying so hard to have a laid-back, mellow comfy vibe, makes me uncomfortable... I am so glad I don't own my own business and can just blindly judge rather than try to create that feel without offending anyone.

Now that I have done my complaining, what did I like about this place?

The staff - yes, they were a little (A LOT) unprepared the first time I went, but regardless, they seem like nice people there. I was greeted when I came in, and offered three times an explanation on what the restaurant is about. Maybe that was overkill, but I appreciated that they want to tell people dining more about who they are. Our server was very friendly, offered opinions on the menu. Even warned us of a deceptively filling dessert that was good to share. They even happily split the cheque for us, which surprisingly puts some restaurants off. Good staff can be hard to come by and it is nice to be treated like a person and not just a table number.

The Store - part of the restaurant is selling hard to find herbs, health foods and books. I really like that, especially for a place into the vegan/raw culture. Some things seemed priced well, others were kind of high for me, but they have things that you probably can't find elsewhere... like raw chocolate, goji berries, herbal smokes, hard to find teas and lots of herbal mixes. Lots of other stuff too. It's nice to know that I can get some of these things if I am looking for them.

The Food - I know I spent a lot of blog space above complaining about the menu, but overall the food is good. Definitely not for everyone. My restaurant bestie, James, does not like the food here, but I do. Nothing to me stands out as a have to have item on the menu, but everything is tasty, healthy and filling. I am not sure why but it is missing that something that will make me go back. At the same time, I know I won't be disappointed eating there either. Strange.

What did I have tonight? first Hummus and crackers. The hummus is really good. Very homemade tasting and the crackers are very filling (Made from sprouted seeds, dehydrated.) I took the left over hummus home and totally plan to have it with a bagel tomorrow.

The hummus, it was good enough to take the left overs with me

We also split a plate of nachos. Surprisingly the nachos were one of the crackers on the hummus plate which if I had known that, I probably would not have got both of these, but nevertheless, they were also pretty good. They make this homemade chili cheese that looks kind of like cheese that came out of a tube, but tastes much better. It comes with a goji berry salsa, a raw version of refried beans (I forget what it was made of) and a vegan, raw, sour cream. The salsa and sour cream were by far the best part of this dish. They were good on their own and even better when you combined them. I would definitely order than one again.

By far the best part of these is the 'sour cream' and salsa,
preferably together.

For dessert we split a chocolate mousse cake. The server promised us it would be something you could split and when we got it, it was this little, tiny piece of cake. I thought for sure we would need a second dessert, but it was surprisingly filling. half, was more than enough. it actually reminded me a bit of the raw ice cream I made. It came with a raw chocolate sauce, caramel and berry compote and I normally hate chocolate and fruit together, but this was so, so good.

Most important part.. dessert.

So, I think for me, Noorish is not my favourite place in the city, but it isn't because of the people or the food. It is the prices and the menu choices that knock it off the top five. That said, I would not be unwilling to go back. I know the food tastes good and in the end, that counts for a lot.

So there you go, justifying my three stars. Points for food (taste and quantity), funky store and friendly staff. Points off for over-priced and lack of creative menu options. i won't be going there every weekend, but I think I will be back there again some time soon.

More than all I am glad they sorted out their management issues. Regardless of any negative, it is really good to see more vegan and raw restaurants popping up in this overly meat-centric city.

Oreo Stuffed Cookies

One of the happiest days of being vegan was the day that I learned Oreo's contained no dairy. What does that say about them? Well for one, there is not much natural to them... definitely would not consider these a health food! It also says to me, that once in a while it's a perfect treat for me. I have no control when it comes to Oreo's, and really most cookies. I generally keep them out of my house because if they are here, I eat them until they are gone and never feel good after.

Not long ago, my boyfriend, Tony, sent me a picture... See below. I took it as a challenge and I am pretty sure it was meant to be interpreted that way. Really, how could I not try to make these knowing that they were vegan and knowing that I am a self-proclaimed cookie master! Tony did a little research for me by tasting different cookies with Oreo's and we determined that, yes, chocolate chip is the way to go. Lucky for me, I make a mean chocolate chip cookie... so why not put them on cookie steroids by stuffing another yummy cookie inside!

These cookies are monsters. Basically, consider one cookie, three cookies. Yummy chocolate chip cookie on the outside and warm Oreo in the middle. I can't think of something better to have after a long day...

How did I make these? It's actually pretty easy. You can take any chocolate cookie recipe you have on hand.. just remember that it will really only make half the number of cookies, so double if you want lots, but these cookies are pretty filling. I don't think I would recommend eating more than one in a sitting.

I used my chocolate cookie recipe found here

Now, when you have your dough ready, make each cookie dough into a ball. Press down with your hand or a spoon and then place an Oreo on top. Now take a second cookie and place on top. Make sure the cookies are large enough that they wider than the Oreo. Next, grab the dough and press the edges together to they are sealed.
Make your cookie dough, place an Oreo on the dough..

Place the second cookie dough on top and seal.

Pre-heat your oven to 375 F (Or if using a different recipe, just follow their cooking instructions). Bake the cookies to the recipe, mine took about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them for when the edges go golden brown... That means they're ready. Also, space the cookies out well, they can spread a bit.

Let them cook on a rack for about 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a plate.

there is an Oreo hiding in that cookie!!

Let me just say, oh man are these amazing. I wasn't too sure about the combo at first, but who ever came up with this Picture Tony send, they are genius. I am so glad Tony sent these to me now. He is finally coming up to brave Canadian winter and see me on my birthday... maybe he'll luck out and I'll make these for him so he has a snack for when he gets off the plane. He is the best for coming all this way just to celebrate my big 3-0, I should return the favour. What better way than a double threat cookie!

This recipe got me thinking... what else could you stuff inside a cookie? Fruit, obviously. I did that once with a sugar cookie and strawberries... they were good. What about peanut butter? Jam? Icing? Pumpkin? My brain is going a mile a minute.. mostly because I just test tasted these cookies and I am on an obvious sugar high... I think this will not be the last of stuffing food into cookies.... But what to try next?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I have nothing to talk about.

This weekend has been kind of a boring one. If it wasn't for getting out to a concert on Saturday night with my friend James, I pretty much could have stayed in bed for a full 48 hours. Something has happened to my will power this week. I don't want to do anything, I don't want to talk to anyone and I kept the curtains down. It snowed all day today and that just made things worse. I hate having no energy. Everything seemed like a struggle. All I could think to myself is, one more hour lying on the couch.. and then I will go do something, anything. I get like this every year. Something happens when the seasons change. First I get a little excited just because I know I'll be able to cook soups and stews again.. but then not long after, that burst of energy fades and I fall into a major funk.

I have not cooked anything today... really I have done nothing today worth posting. I have been planning all week to fit in some blog time to express my displeasure with Starbucks. Right now I am blogging in Second Cup, so it seems fitting to go with my mood, tonightis the night!

For the longest time, Starbucks gave free soy milk with a registered card. About a year ago, they brought in a new loyalty program. I could still have my free soy, but only after I reach gold status... i.e. make 30 transactions. I love to have a coffee in the morning and a fancy coffee at lunch, so it didn't take me long to get on the gold plan with them. Since then, I have been happily enjoying my latte's without having to pay for soy.

As of this month, Starbucks has suspended the free soy! To be honest, it was really the only thing keeping me a loyal customer. I am now going to Second Cup because I figure if there is not monetary reason for choosing my coffee shop, I might as well support a Canadian company.

But, this brought about a lot of anger... Why the fuck do I have to pay an up-charge of $0.50 - 0.75 for a 1/4 cup of milk!? I get mark-ups. I really do. I know the food industry needs to do this to make money... but, why oh why are we picking on people that don't drink cows milk. It isn't all vegans.. there are a lot of people out there that are allergic and plenty more that just prefer soy or almond to dairy.

It's not like these coffee shops are going out and spending $3.00 - 5.00 for a small container of non-dairy milk. There are obviously contracts in place and I am sure they are getting a good deal. Plus drinks at these coffee shops are already building in for the cost of milk.. that's why dairy milk drinkers don't pay more. It makes no sense to me at all. Especially if you look at the menu and order something that does not normally come with milk. To add dairy milk to this there is a $0.50 fee.. So why is it that something like a latte which has steamed milk built in the price needs an up-charge?

Honestly it makes me think long and hard about how much do I really need to have a fancy overpriced drink at lunch every day. I don't, not at all, but I use coffee shops as my way to get a break. A break from work, from everything. Now I am second guessing whether I should even be going anymore.

I think the thing that makes me so mad about Starbucks in particular is that they seem like the type of company that would discount up-charges and get ahead of the locally owned coffee shops with a more competitive price. They know though that their customer base is addicted.. and will probably pay regardless of the price. Sad, I know I probably will go back.. but I will be thinking twice before I do

Ah well, honestly as mad as I am... it's not like I have to buy their product.. I don't even have to buy something that requires milk in it. I just had to get it out there, that I noticed the change and I am not a happy customer.

So.. I think that ends my mini-rant of the day. I have been sitting on this one for a couple weeks. I thought it my let my rage boil and make for a better post, but I am already getting over it. That said, I have not really been back to Starbucks since. I am really enjoying Second Cup. I like the coffee better, the tea and they have a way better selection of treats. Granted none are vegan... except possibly a veggie roll. I am looking into that one.

I feel a little guilty about not posting anything all that informative today. I do have a new smoothie to try tomorrow though. I absolutely love smoothies. When I bike to work, smoothies were an absolute must to my day. They make everything a little better. It is a rare morning I am in a bad mood after my morning smoothie. I make mine in a magic bullet which does a mediocre job. It is not good at crushing ice, but I find that very few blenders are capable of it. If anyone knows of a good blender out there (Vitamix, I know, but hoping for a cheaper alternative) I normally make a green smoothing in the morning, but once in a while I change it up and make something that I would say is closer to a snack smoothie. Here is one I am planning to make tomorrow.

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
Serves 1, couple minutes to make

  • 1 small banana, chopped and preferably frozen
  • 1/2 cup milk (almond is what I used, but any kind works)
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
  • 1-2 tsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter (natural if you have it, if not then you may want to tone down the sweetener)
  • 1 tbsp sweetener (I used agave)
  • Ice (I usually do 3-4 cubes, but depends on the size of blender)
Instructions are very simple, put everything into your blender and blender for a solid 2 minutes. More if necessary. The nice thing about a magic bullet is that you are blending in the cup. it helps with portion control and with mess. Once less thing to clean up is great in my world.

Why do I love this smoothie? It is loaded with potassium from the coconut water, chia and banana. It is very hydrating, coconut water is really good for keeping hydrated. It is also good on a hangover. I don't get a hang over often, but if I do, this is a great smoothie to cure it. In the past I was a believer in powerade to cure my hangovers, but really it is the sugar, salt, potassium that is doing it. This smoothie has all of those and tastes way better than those dumb sports drink.

This is an awesome smoothie for after a workout, or in the morning. Some people like to add protein powder to their smoothies and I this would be a good one for it. I usually don't though. I just don't enjoy the taste of protein powder. I hear though protein powder in the morning is a good way to keep sugar cravings down, so I am considering trying it. Just need to do some research on what type to get.. Seems there are a lot more vegan ones out there these day!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bannock and Babysitting

Last night I didn't blog. I didn't blog because I was tired after doing some baby sitting at my sister's. Not that it was difficult, her kids were pretty well behaved for toddler/baby. Really I have done much more strenuous things and not felt as tired... Maybe her kids are energy suckers, I don't know. Luckily for me, she made some vegan dinner so I would not starve while hanging with her kids. She had a veggie chili which once day I will get the recipe for. It is a black bean, corn, tomato mix. Really good, kind of more sweet than chili flavoured actually, but it really tastes great.

Kind of random, but with this she served up some Bannock... vegan bannock to be exact. I actually looked this up and it seems most bannock recipes are vegan. How awesome is that? I love when something just is and always was vegan. Makes my like easier. I assume it at some point was made in animal fat, but really veggie fat is just as good if not better.

 I have had bannock before. It is an awesome, sweet, filling bread that is native american. I have a grandma recipe for bannock and I have had it at a restaurant before... and I have to say in my limited experience... you need a little old lady to make this to really perfect the recipe. That said, my sister made an attempt.. and she did good.. like REAL good. This was the lightest bannock I have ever tried. I don't know if that is because of the switch for vegan ingredients.. or the fact that this recipe happens to have a lot of baking powder... Probably a bit of both. You must give this recipe a try.

I apologize, but no pictures right now. At the time, I didn't realize I would be blogging about this. I am hoping to try this recipe for myself and maybe reduce someone the sugar in it ... I will post pictures if I do.

Laura's Vegan Bannock
*Recipe from some dad from daycare. Thanks!

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar - (Note from Laura - I'm SURE you could reduce. The last bannock recipe I made had 1 tbsp, haha. 1/4 would be fine I bet)
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup raisins (optional) - I bet blueberries would be good (Laura did not put these in, but agree with her comment!)
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 2 cup water

Pre-heat your oven to 400 F. Mix dry ingredients. Add shortening, mix with hands till texture is like large oatmeal (also seen described as wet sand). Now put 2 cups cold water in a bowl on the side and make a well in the flour mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup of the water into the well. Swirl in center till it forms a soft ball. Place on an un-greased baking sheet and keep repeating until the flour is gone. Make sure the dough is not sticky after you may the ball. If it is, add some more flour

Pat down dough in the pan and square off with a knife. Poke two holes in the centre of each square.

Bake for about 35 minutes

Laura - Thank your day care buddy for this recipe. It was so good. I am craving more now and if I had enough shortening, I would be in the kitchen making it!!

Hopefully will be back cooking things on my own tomorrow. I have some stuff ready to go, just not enough time to make it happen. It has been a busy week. This weekend could not come soon enough. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Slow Cooker Burrito

I have been thinking about slow cooking for a while now. Every spring summer I get to the point where I never want to touch a slow cooker again and I put it away for the summer... every fall, I start feeling the urge to slow cook again. I am not sure if it is the temperature drop or the hibernation factor and I think it is likely a bit of both... slow cooking just seems like a must.

Yes, this was done in a slow cooker... Super easy

I decided to stay away from the usual slow cooker meals and try something a little different... how about slow cook burritos? I came up with this from looking through some old cook books and I came across a few recipes that were rice and beans of some sort. Every time I saw it, I kept thinking how much I would love a burrito... So why not just cook all the filling at once and then it would be ready made meal? Seems like a good idea, so I am giving it a go.

I think the nicest thing about this dish is that I can have it as a burrito, or on its own or with nachos. It is kind of like 3 different meals packed into one recipe.

I used a lot of basic tex-mex type veggies in this dish, but as I was adding ingredients, I came across a stray Anaheim pepper in my fridge. Anaheim is such a good match with this, I needed to included it, but decided to roast it first. I have never roasted my own peppers before. It was always something I figured you needed a gas stove to do it best. However, I felt like since I was not sauteing any vegetables in advance that I needed to have this in my recipe.

Turns out, roasting peppers is so easy! I can't believe I used to buy these jarred for 3-4 times the price of doing it myself. It took little time and no effort. Next time you are using peppers, try roasting!

Roasting Peppers
15 minutes

  • Peppers (Anaheim, Jalapeno, Bell etc)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Set your oven to broil and put the rask to the top setting. Now, place the peppers on a cookie sheet. take the olive oil and spread and rub over the peppers.

Put it in the oven and cook about 10-15 minutes. Check them and turn them often. Once they are all blistered and/or blackened, they are ready. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off, remove the seeds and slice.

Ready to use or serve. Try them in sandwiches, stir fries and basically any dish you normally put peppers in.

Pepper - Oil it up

Roast for 10-15 minutes

Peel the skin and ready to use

So, now that we have roasted peppers, time to make some slow cooker burrito filling

Slow Cooker Burritos
5 hours, 10 minutes prep
  • Dice the following:
    • 1 green pepper
    • 1 onion
    • 1-2 ribs of celery
    • 2-3 tomatoes (about a cup)
    • 1 roasted anaheim pepper
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/3 cup green onion chopped
  • 2 tsp cilantro, chopped
  • Lime juice I Used a lot... but probably a tablespoon for those that are not lime crazy
Combine everything up to the rice (Don't put the rice in yet!) Stir it and cook on high for 4- 4 1/2 hours. Stir in the rice and cook for another 45 minutes or until the rice is tender. Finally add the remaining ingredients and you are ready! 

Dump everything into your slow cooker...
Let is simmer.... and then add the rice..

let is simmer.... wait wait wait...
I think the nicest thing about this is that I didn't have to cook things really before slow cooking. I know it helps with flavour, but I really hate messing up more than one pot! When you are the dishwasher and the cook.... you look for any way to spare dirtying a pan.

As soon as it is done, you can start making your burritos... add any other ingredient you want... vegan sour cream, guac, cilantro, whatever you want. You could also use this to make chips... add some salsa, guac and vegan shredded cheese. I am seeing maybe a layered dip in my future with this filling. I think that would be amazing.. I guarantee no one will be wondering where the meat is... these rice and beans hold their own!

Scoop and serve - Could use in a layered dip, nacho, burrito or
Quesadilla filling

I made my burrito with some jalapenos and cilantro and really nothing else. The filling was so packed with flavour that I didn't even think about the fact that I didn't have any cheese. I am planning to freeze some of this off for a rainy day... Going to be great to be able to have this hidden away for a quick dinner or snack.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Whiskey Cookies

I did not have the best day today... things at work are not going exactly to plan, my meeting ran long and had to skip the gym and as usual, I forgot about after work commitments which kills almost all of my time for cooking and relaxing after work.

After a long day, I really want to have a decent meal and if that can't be had, at least a good snack. I remembered when I first moved out on my own making peanut butter cookies quite a bit. Mostly because they only required a couple ingredients and took no kitchen appliances or time to make. Today, I decided these were a must... Even though these are good enough to stand on their own, I thought maybe I could do something to make them a little different than the basic recipe... What else goes good after a long day at work? Whiskey!

With very little additional work, I jazzed up this super easy recipe and turned it from an after school snack, to an after work snack. You could swap out the whiskey for other alcohols... spiced rum I think would be very good here. I origianlly  planned to have some chopped pecans on top, but I didn't have any on hand.. I instead used some apple slices. Apple and whiskey go, apple and peanut butter go, so I can only assume that Apple, peanut butter and whiskey all go perfect together.

Here we go with the recipe. The basic recipe is just the peanut butter, sugar and chia egg. From there, you can add things as you like. Just remember to balance the wet and dry ingredients. If the batter is too wet, the cookies will be flat and crunchy. If the batter is too dry, they will get cakey.

Peanut Butter-Apple Whiskey Cookies
*Makes 15 cookies, 20 minutes

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used brown, but white works too)
  • 1 chia egg (1 tsp ground chia seeds whisked with two Tbsp water)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp whiskey (I admit, I free poured... )
  • 1/4 tsp instant espresso (optional.. this is my secret ingredient in most baked goods)
  • 2 Tbsp Flour (Again this is an estimate depending on how cakey you want the cookies. Add by the table spoon)
  • 1 apple, peeled and sliced thin

Very easy to make. Pre-heat the over to 325 F. In a bowl mix the peanut butter, sugar chia egg, salt whiskey and instant espresso. Once everything in combined, add a Tbsp of flour and mix. Does it look like cookie dough? If it is too thin, add another tablespoon of flour. I would not go beyond 4 tablespoons though.

The ingredients... looks kind of gross, but thinking these are going to taste great!

I wanted a crispier cookie, so I only added a little flour.

Now, take a spoonful of dough and roll it into a ball and place it on an un-greased cookie sheet. Press each cook dough ball down with a fork until flat. Top with apple slices and some extra sugar. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, you don't want to over cook!

Roll into a ball and flatten with a fork.
This will make the cookie, look like a cookie

Ready for the oven!

And.. the result? Well, first I wish I hadn't eaten half the apple and put slices on all the cookies. As you can see above, I ran short and figured sugar was enough. It was good, but the apples make it so much better.

The apple looks good and tastes even better!

These cookies are pretty boozey, if you are not into boozey cookies, use vanilla instead of the whiskey. or cut the alcohol in half. Me personally? I can't wait to eat these with a glass of whiskey on the rocks for dunking ;)