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.