30 April 2012

whole wheat strawberry pecan scones

this morning i was enjoying a quiet coffee whilst catching up on some blog reading.  among all of the delicious, inspiring reads were these breakfast cookies from jackie over at vegan yack attack.  they had my stomach growling and mouth watering, and with some fresh strawberries left over from wedding shower cupcakes i made this weekend {carrot cake with strawberry cream cheese icing for those wondering} i set to the kitchen.  but somewhere along the way between table & kitchen i became distracted by the thought of scones...  with the inspiration still fresh in my mind for strawberries & pecans, here's what resulted.

whoa.  these were stellar.  juicy berries & crunchy pecans.  stellar i tell you.  and yes, stellar might be a little dated of me, but given that the one and only brandon walsh was spotted around town this weekend, i was feeling a little nostalgic for some 90s lingo.   no guff.

whole wheat strawberry pecan scones
makes 8 jumbo scones
1/2 cup all purpose organic flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 oz vegan shortening
1 flax egg {1 tbsp ground flaxmeal + 3 tbsp hot water: mix & wait 5 minutes}
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 cup pecan pieces

preheat your oven to 400f.  in a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  cube the shortening and cut it into the flour mixture with 2 forks or a pastry cutter.  add in the flax egg and mix lightly, followed by the  milk.  mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated and then gently fold in the strawberries & pecans.

the dough will be very extremely sticky and messy to deal with, but i promise the outcome is worth it!  {if it's totally unbearable though, add a bit more flour a tablespoon at a time.}  flour your hands really well and then scoop up about 1/3 of a cup at a time and pat it into a round and flatten just a little bit as you transfer it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  leave a good inch or two between them because they will spread out a bit as they bake.  pop them in the oven for 12 - 15 minutes and then remove them to cool.

25 April 2012

creamy tomato curry with spinach & tofu paneer

i love me some indian food, but i especially love curries.  mine usually end up being totally made on the fly and consist of me throwing various spices & vegetables into a pan with puréed tomato & coconut milk.  it's always super delicious, but sometimes i take the time to really focus on the delicate mix of spices.  in these cases i usually start with one of vij's recipes.  my thoughtful brother jamie sent me one of his cookbooks a few years ago and when i want the spices to be just so - it's my go to.

this recipe is from one of his other books but it's also well published online and it's one of my favourites!  it's surprisingly subtle in its tangy spicing but it's impossible to stop at one serving, especially if there's some soft bread around to mop up the sauce.  it's almost vegan too as is with the exception of the paneer.  no problem here though - the best part of making vegan paneer is that there's nothing to it: cubed firm or extra-firm tofu does the job perfectly!

creamy tomato curry with spinach & tofu paneer adapted from this recipe
serves 4
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 pound bunch of organic spinach
6 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 28 oz can organic whole tomatoes, puréed
3/4 cup water
1 2/3 cup coconut milk {a little less than 1 can}
1 cup cubed firm or extra firm tofu

start things off by toasting the cashews either in a dry pan or in oven - careful not to burn 'em!
heat the oil in a large pan.  add cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle up for 30 seconds.  then add in the rest of the spices, the tomatoes and the tofu.  stir and reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and let it simmer for 5 minutes.  when you take the lid off the top of the tomatoes should be oily, if not, let it continue cooking for a few minutes.  stir in the water, bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low again and simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes.  add the coconut milk, increase to medium and then continue to cook it for another 5-6 minutes and it begins to boil.  at this point add in the washed and trimmed greens and stir them in to wilt.  garnish with cashews and fresh cilantro.  serve immediately with rice & vegan naan to mop it up.

i also went for the full on popeye version and stuck strictly with spinach - but i've made it with arugula too which is equally amazing.

now if you'll excuse me, i think i need to take care of these left overs...

21 April 2012

happy record store day!

like christmas, record store day comes but once a year and is a day dedicated to small, independently owned record stores.  there are much sought after special releases that are developed each year & it's a day to support music, local businesses & vinyl love.  it's always a fun day, but when the record store owner happens to be hitched to a cupcake loving vegan gal, it means there will be sweets too!

so gather some friends and go pick up some vinyl.  and if you happen to be in my town, swing by cosmic dave's & pick up a cupcake too.  happy record store day!!

19 April 2012

raspberry oat bars

i'm not sure why i only came across this recipe for vegan blueberry oat bars from gena's wonderful blog this week, since she originally posted it last june, but the important thing is that i did come across it.  and upon reading about these bars my mouth began to water and it was a done deal - i had everything on hand for them too!

and would you believe that this was my first time ever making my own oat flour?  i don't know why i imagined it to be so laborious or complicated... about 20 seconds of pulsing my local rolled oats in my old trusty food processor and i had oat flour.  holy moly i impressed myself.

with the aid of my food processor, the rest of the bars came together in a flash, and 35 minutes later the house had filled with the most incredible smells...  with only raspberry jam on hand my batch turned out to be vegan raspberry breakfast bars.  how'd they turn out, you ask?

they.  are.  awesome.  i'm loving them at room temperature but m keeps stashing them in the freezer for a chilled treat.  looks like next time i make these i'll have to make a double batch to please us both.  oh well, a small sacrifice i'd say. 

yes please, i will have another.  if you want to make these yourself, head on over to choosing raw and check out the recipe.  thanks for a winner gena!

17 April 2012

spicy peanut mango quinoa salad

a couple weeks ago, as spring was in the air i rang in the season with these mango, cucumber & avocado spring rolls.  they were so fresh and tasty that i probably made them a good 3 times that week, and based on your response, you liked them too! 

here were are now though, 3 weeks into spring and today i woke up to flurries.  as in snow.  i kid you not.  my first reaction was, really mother nature?  really??, but then i reminded myself that i live in sudbury, and in fact snow in april or even may is not anything i should be surprised by.

but just in case mother nature is listening, i'm bringing back the spring flavours of my salad rolls today in the form of a quinoa salad.  this little number will be making her way to a veggie potluck tonight.  hopefully mother nature shows up and has a double helping to get her in the spring spirit.

spicy peanut mango quinoa salad
makes a lot.  a good 8-10 servings i'd say.
2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
pinch of sea salt
1 cucumber, seeded & diced {about 2 cups}
1 avocado, cubed {about 1 cup}
1 mango, pitted, peeled & cubed {about 1 cup}
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup spicy peanut lime dressing {or more to taste}

rinse the quinoa under cold water.  in a medium sized pot, bring the quinoa, salt & water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover to cook for 15 minutes.  remove the pot from the heat, fluff with a fork and set it aside to cool to room temperature.  (i got a bit impatient and ended up popping it in the fridge for about 10 minutes to speed this up.)  fold in the rest of the ingredients and serve right away, or cover it up and refrigerate it until you need it.

spicy peanut lime dressing
makes 1 cup
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp sriracha, or to taste 
{i kept things fairly mild for the potluck but will be bringing more sriracha to spice it up more!} 

whisk together the peanut butter, tamari, oil & lime juice.  add the water a little at a time until you reach the dressing is as thick or thin as you like it.  i only needed to use 3 tablespoons, but you might like more or less.  finally spice to taste with sriracha.

maybe if we all make this salad, spring will be a sure thing?  wishful thinking perhaps, but there's nothing lost in trying, right?

if you don`t want to make this yourself though and are in sudbury too, you should come out tonight to the northern vegetarian society potluck!  all are welcome, and if you've been meaning to pick up an NVS membership for a while now, you'll have the opportunity to do that too!  sadly because of the frigid weather today we've had to relocate to an indoor location for one more month, but it still promises to be a great time to enjoy a huge spread of veg-friendly noshes & meet some great folks too.  the more the merrier!

here are the details:
6pm at the landsdowne public school library (landsdowne & frood)
bring a vegetarian or vegan dish to share, a copy or two of the recipe and your own plate & cutlery
*as it`s after hours in the school, the front door has to be kept locked, so please arrive on time! 


13 April 2012

sol cuisine review

SoL Cuisine recently sent me some coupons to sample a few of their products.  i often use their organic tofu {i love that along with all of their other products, it's made from organic non-gmo soybeans grown right here in ontario!} but i hadn't tried any of their frozen products.  i generally stay away from frozen pre-fab meals because of price & processing, but i must admit i had been curious to try some of these SoL products out and this was the perfect chance.  i went out on a mission here in sudbury, and 2 hours and 3 stores later i came home with almond grain burgers, falafels & breakfast patties.

first up we tried the almond grain burgers.  we cooked these on the stove-top in a frying pan and then piled them up on a bun with veggies.  the verdict on almonds in my burger?  these were awesome - they had a creamy texture and a subtle almond flavour and they were definitely more-ish {as in they made me want more!}.  but they were also quite delicate and i'm not sure how they'd hold up on a bbq, which for m was a strike against them.  but for a store-bought burger though the ingredient listing is pretty great: Organic Spelt, Organic Soybeans, Organic Okara, Almond Butter, Filtered Water, Carrots, Onions, Green Lentils, Tomato Powder, Organic Amaranth, Olive Oil, Tapioca Starch, Almonds, Sea Salt, Inactive Engevita Yeast, Spice, Modified Cellulose, Dehydrated Garlic, Xanthan Gum.  there are more ingredients than would be in one of my homemade burgers, but there aren't any red flags for me in there either.

next up we tried the falafel - i should say right off the bat, that i do prefer homemade falafel, but these were great for a couple quick-fix meals when we were short on time.  once we made them as big yummy wraps with lots of veggies and the other time we had them as little deconstructed individual bites.  for these i fried up several little falafel patties, then stacked up on a sprouted grain tortilla (cut into mini rounds with a cookie cutter) with mashed sweet potato and cucumber.  i finished them off with a drizzle of the tahini sauce included in the box which was actually quite good too.

finally we tried the breakfast patties - these were a no go for me but i just don't like sausage patties and i think i'll always have a bit of an 'eww' factor towards breakfast sausages and the like so there's my bias.  i really didn't like the taste or texture and i found them to be to greasy for my liking.  m gladly took mine and ate them up with his though, so you might like them too if that's your thing. 

have you tried any products from the SoL Cuisine line?  what did you think of them?

more than anything, i think all of this sampling has got me in the mood for bbq veggie burger season. 
now if only i could be sure that the snow was really gone for good...

Sol Cuisine provided me coupons for their products, however the ideas and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

10 April 2012

peanut butter endurance bars

i hope you all enjoyed a wonderful long weekend!  i took an extra long long-weekend because ours really required a full day's recovery.  it's become a tradition of ours to travel down to toronto every easter weekend for the exclaim cup hockey summit of the arts.  it's a weekend full of friends, music, amazing community & of course hockey - lots of hockey.  for me it's a spectator sport but a few of the gals who play for one of the teams were working on me to start up next year!

we stay right downtown which i love because it means there's lots of options for us when it comes to dining out.  sticking to two feet & a heartbeat we enjoyed a sinfully rich dinner at fressen, a bowl of pho the size of my head at loving hut, incredible papusas in kensington market and a sunday easter dinner of miso burgers at fresh.  so far from traditional easter fare, but so good.  and you'll have to take my word for it too since i didn't break out my camera outside of the rink.

i knew that eating during the day was going to be a tough go at the arena - the bar had lots of greasy fried foods but not exactly things to keep you going for hours - so i made these bars ahead of time to keep me going between breakfast & dinner.  they were so quick and easy to put together and SO very satisfying. {and filling too!}  i'm fairly certain these will be making many appearances around here.

crunchy, chewy, sweet & salty these just about cover every craving you might have!  and with all of the seeds & peanut butter, they'll keep you going when you need that boost to get you through {or when you're stuck at the hockey rink for hours on end}.

peanut butter endurance bars {gf}
makes 24 small bars or 12 large bars
5 cups crisp brown rice cereal
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 tbsp raw sesame seeds
1/3 cup dried fruit {i used a combo of cranberries, cherries & goji berries}
1/3 cup ground flax seed
1 cup brown rice syrup
3/4 cup natural pb
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fine sea salt {optional}

in a very large bowl, mix together the cereal, seeds, fruit and flax.  set aside.  in a small saucepan heat the brown rice syrup and peanut butter until they've melted and can be incorporated (this should only take 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat).  remove from the heat and stir in the salt & vanilla.  pour this mixture over the cereal and mix it all together, being sure to coat everything.  then, pour it all into a 9x13 baking pan that's been lined with parchment paper and press it down evenly to fill it.  pop it in the fridge to harden for 30 minutes, then cut the bars up with a sharp knife.  keep them in an airtight container either at room temperature or in the fridge.

 *for a nut-free option, try these out with sunflower seed butter! 

submitted to wellness weekends