Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Smoothie


Are you sick of turkey recipes yet?  Yeah, me neither.  How about pumpkin?!  Me?  Never!  I don't think I could ever, ever, neverever, get sick of pumpkin treats.  They are one of the best parts of the colder months.  My one gripe, however, is that if you're opening a can of pumpkin, you use like 1 cup for the recipe you're baking up, and inevitably you are left with an odd measure of excess pumpkin.  In my manic cleaning up rush, the pumpkin purée is usually just put into an old yogurt container, and crammed into my overstuffed freezer.  At one point I got into the habit of measuring the amount I was about to freeze, and writing it onto the container.  I can not always be counted on to be that organized, or have that much time on my hands!  


A new trick I have found for freezing pumpkin in an easy pre-measured method, is to freeze the pumpkin purée in an ice cube tray.  Are all ice cubes trays standard at 1 Tablespoon?...I highly doubt it, especially with all the new fangled designer models, shapes and whatnot's that are available.  My ice cube tray has exactly one Tablespoon cubes...measure yours and see!  You can remove the frozen pumpkin cubes, and put them into a freezer bag.  Or, pop them right into the blender, for this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.  


Nothing could be a more perfect fall breakfast that this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie. It is literally like drinking a pumpkin pie...but in a much more healthy and acceptable way.  So. Friggin'. Good.


Psst...Here's my Pumpkin Pie Spice blend.  Just add all spices together into a jar, shake, and you're good to go!  Double it, triple it, keep in in your pantry.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 frozen banana, broken into chunks
1/2 - 1 cup almond milk
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2/3 cup pumpkin puree (canned, fresh, or roughly 10 froze pumpkin cubes)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
ice cubes (optional)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

Add all of the ingredients to the blender.  Blend on high for a few minutes or until smooth  
Scrape down the sides, or stir to help blender to mix larger chunks, if you have an old school beauty like me! Additional almond milk can be added to thin it out, or alternately, add ice cubes (calorie-free!) to thicken it up.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Turkey Soup with Brown Butter & Herb Dumplings


Every one should have a go to leftover turkey recipe, this here is mine.  But this year I decided to switch it up a bit with the addition of dumplings!  I've haven't had that much experience with dumplings, as usually I like to accompany my soup with as much fresh crusty bread and butter, as my belly will allow.  Dumplings are kinda like the bread and butter right in your soup! Right?!  I had already fallen off the gluten wagon over the thanksgiving long weekend, I ate pizza, muffins, and crackers, and carb loaded snackies, so I was all, whatever!  Lets do this dumplings!


This turkey soup, and the dumplings in particular, received two out of three thumbs up at the supper table.  But Presley (my 5 year old) did not want ANY vegetables or turkey, broth ONLY, and I had to spoon feed him while he told me how much it hurt his throat, wha wha wha!  He was all for ice cream for dessert even though he was "too full to eat any more" (in his whiniest voice).  Ya, one of those nights!  So, I'm not counting his thumb down.  Whiners don't count.  My rules.
I don't have much to compare this to, so if you're a dumpling aficionado, please feel free to critique.  This was a new way to switch it up, and give a tired traditional turkey leftover soup a new life! 



Turkey Soup 

1 roasted turkey carcass, broken in half, plus any leftover bones
6-8 cups water, enough to cover carcass
2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely diced
3-4 carrots, quartered lengthwise and chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
3-4 potatoes, roughly quartered and chopped, or use leftover mashed potatoes
Approx. 2 cups reserved roast turkey leftovers, roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons Spike
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Clean out the fridge!  Any other leftover sides, would be a welcome addition:  turnips, yams, brussel sprouts etc.

In a large stock/soup pot,  place the carcass of the bird, and add enough water to completely immerse the bones. Use a medium-high heat, and bring to a simmer.   Reduce the heat to low, cover pot and leave it overnight or at least 4 to 6 hours.  In the morning, strain the broth through a sieve  or colander and discard the bones, fishing out any remaining meat, and returning it to the stock pot, along with the broth.  At this point you could refrigerate or freeze the stock to use at a later date.  I usually just add everything in for that nights dinner!
Add the onion, celery, garlic, carrots, and mashed (or uncooked) potatoes, and reserved turkey meat. Season with Spike and/or salt and pepper to taste.  Keep it on low for 4-6 hours, stirring periodically, and adjusting taste if necessary.


Brown Butter & Herb Dumplings

6 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup flour
1 egg
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh green onions or chives

Using a small saucepan, brown the butter (the kitchn has a good technique and instructions, if you need).  Once the butter is browned add the water and bring the temperature back up, so the butter doesn't harden.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt, flour and herbs, mixing until thoroughly combined.   Return the pan to medium heat and stir until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Using  a sturdy wooden spoon, speedily beat in the egg, so that it doesn't cook to the bottom or sides of the pan, but gets combined into the batter.  If doing the dumplings ahead, store covered in the fridge for no more than one day.
Drop teaspoon sized balls, or simply drop the batter unrolled into the simmering soup.  Repeat until batter is all used up, then cover soup pot.  The dumplings are ready when they rise to the top of the pot, about 5 minutes.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Raw Cocoa Date Bars


Our tree is off our roof!  Hooray!  Did you know I had to provincially outsource an arborist to get this to happen in a timely matter?  Tree professionals in Calgary are in high demand after our lovely Snow-tember. 


I am lucky enough to work within walking distance of the community library where I work, and generally I go home each day to walk the dog, and scarf down some food.  Yesterday, as I neared my home I could hear the sound of a chainsaw, and then as I rounded the corner, I could see heavy work was in full swing.
These lovely boys are here from my home town of Nelson, B.C., to save us all from our broken tree woes.  I've been anxiously waiting for this day, as our beautiful Mayday, which is the highlight of our backyard, was in dire straights.  This tree has two branches that fork off the main trunk, and the weight of the snow had cracked it down the centre.  Every time the winds picked up or we got another threat of snow I feared a branch might split clear off, and take the roof with it.  When I called the arborist, he thought I was being dramatic "Mayday in our backyard". Ha!


Send me home town boys and I want to make them feel a Koots style thank-you...that calls for some raw cocoa date bars!  I actually had these bars on the ready, as I fell off the no sugar wagon last weekend, and needed to wean myself off sweets again.  Ugh!  Why do I do it to myself?!
These wholesome bars fill my sugar fix, though.  Naturally sweetened from both the dates and raisins, chewy, and nutty, with a hint of cocoa.  Cut these bars up small, they still pack a high caloric hit, with plenty of healthy fats from the seeds -  a little goes a long way!

Raw Cocoa Date Bars

11/2 cup dates, pitted
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds (plus 2 Tablespoons more for topping)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted

Line a small baking dish (I used a loaf pan for extra thick bars) with parchment paper and set aside.  Add the sunflower and sesame seeds to a food processor, and process until broken down to a breadcrumb-like consistency.  Add the coconut, and cocoa powder, and pulse to combine.  Next add the dates, raisins, and coconut oil, blending on high until fully combined.  The mixture should stick together when pressed between your fingers, add a small amount of water if you find it is too dry or not sticking.
Add the mixture to your prepared dish, pressing as evenly as possible (wet your fingers with water to avoid sticking), sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds, and place in the fridge for at least two hours to firm up.
Cut into small squares or bars to serve, and store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Raw Crusted Vanilla-Cardamom Yogurt Tart




Guys!  I have fallen in love!  Don't worry, I'm not leaving my Hub's, its with another blog;)  My current blog fascination and admiration goes to the beautiful Farm on Plate.  Medha, a classically trained chef, is the genius behind the delicious creations of this well-written blog, and resides just one province over, in my home province of British Columbia.  Right now, Medha is travelling her own homeland in Western India.  The pictures she has been sharing while in India, along with the stories, are absolutely mesmerising, and completely engaging.  I implore you to give her blog a read.

I perused this Raw Crusted Vanilla Cardamom Tart from Farm on Plate, about a month back, and have been experimenting and substituting ingredients, and thoroughly enjoying each incarnation.  I had been wanting to try a strained yogurt dish for sometime now, as I have been reading many Middle Eastern Cookbooks, looking for inspiration for the spices my mom gifted me from her travels to Turkey last year.  The strained yogurt, is also referred to as Labna, or yogurt cheese, and can be traditionally served either sweet or savory.   
Playing with the original recipe of Medha's as a guideline, I've used Chia seeds in place of Hemp Hearts, different combinations of nuts for the crust, and topped the tart with berries, and both peaches and nectarines.  Every which way results in a winner, you simply can't do wrong!  



I couldn't call is a Raw tart though, because yogurt is not raw, as it has been pasteurized.  However, creamy Greek yogurt is packed with B12, which can be a common deficiency amongst raw foodies. The essential vitamin is typically derived from animal sources, making it hard to get enough of on a raw diet.  I used the 0% president Choice brand of yogurt, in honey or vanilla flavour (or a combination of the two!).  If you use a higher fat content yogurt, you would get even cream cheesier results (that's a thing!).  Or,  for a true raw or vegan option try using soaked cashews, pureeing them to a creamy consistency, before adding the additional spices and flavouring. 


Raw Crusted Vanilla-Cardamom Yogurt Tart
Recipe adapted from:Farm On Plate

Raw Tart
2 cups raw almonds (or mixture of raw nuts - I used 1 cup almonds, 1/2 walnuts, & 1/2 pecans)10 dates, pitted1/4 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
pinch of sea salt

Grease either a springform pan or pie plate with coconut oil or line with parchment or cellophane, and set aside. 
Place almonds, dates, coconut, hemp hearts, & salt in food processor.  Pulse until thoroughly broken down.  Add the melted coconut oil, and pulse again, until mixture becomes sticky when pressed between fingers, you can add a bit of cold water if you still find it too dry.  Place mixture into the prepared dish, and press out with your fingers or back of a spoon. Cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.


Yogurt Filling
3 cups Greek yogurt ( I used 0%)
1 tsp cardamom powder
vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup honey(agave or maple syrup would do in a pinch)
Healthy pinch of sea salt

Mix the Greek yogurt with the pinch of salt. Place yogurt in double layer cheesecloth/muslin cloth, gather up the sides and put the bundle into a strainer or colander, and place the strainer over a bowl.  Put the yogurt contraption in the fridge overnight to drain. 
Combine the drained yogurt, vanilla beans, cardamom, & honey, in the blender or food processor, blend.  Taste, and adjust for sweetness if desired.  Pour the yogurt mixture over the crust, and smooth out the top with the edge of your spatula, or bottom of a spoon.
Note: ** Original recipe states: Put the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to set. Before serving, take the pan out of the freezer and thaw for 15 minutes.**  I have been simply chilling the tart in the fridge, skipping freezer step, and have been enjoying the results!  
Top the tart with your choice of fresh fruit or berries before serving.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thai Chicken Slow Cooker Soup


I found my new favourite Thai Chicken soup via a beautiful hand-written/illustrated cookbook titled:  Sing For Your Supper.  This book is a musically inspired creation from the fellows in Blue Rodeo and their chef Kate Boothman.  The recipes were born while the band was recording the album "In Their Nature", and instead of take-out and junk food galore (like most bands I know would be consuming), they were nourished by these wholesome recipes.  The band themselves even contributed to what ended up being this wonderful 80 page book, which I borrowed from my library (duh!), although you can also find it for sale on the Blue Rodeo website.

 
What drew me to this book, was the hippy trippy handwritten style and layout  - a total throwback for me to all the cookbooks, and even recipes my mom would write out when I was growing up.


Even though this Thai Chicken Soup recipe does come together quite quickly, I chose to adapt for my slow cooker, you could always cook this on the stove top if you would prefer.   I also reduced it's serving size, as the original recipe was designed to serve like twelve people!
For my family there are always those nights we need something ready as we walk through the door, and this slow cooker method turns out a flavourful feast, perfect for a hectic week night.

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup
Recipe adapted from: Sing for your Supper

1 Tablespoon coconut oil
3 Tablespoons Thai green curry paste
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced, root to tip
one small nub (1-2 Tablespoons) of ginger, grated (or peeled & Minced)
2 stalks of lemon grass, bruised and hopped into 1" sections
2 Kefir lime leaves
1 can of coconut milk
4-6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
large handful of cilantro, chopped
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3-4 potatoes, or 1 small sweet potato, chopped small
2 heads, baby bok choy, thinly sliced
1 small can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped (or whole!)
small bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped
3 chicken breasts, thinly sliced (optional!)

Pull out your slow cooker and set it aside.  Using a medium pan, over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil, and then add the green chili paste, stirring so it get fragrant, but take care not to burn.  Add the onions, and ginger, and sate for a couple of minutes, until almost translucent and coated in the green chili paste.  Add to the slow cooker.  Add to the pan, half of the stock, and scrape up all the browned bits, and then add the peppers, mushrooms, and bok choy, cook just for a minute or two and then add to the slow cooker.  Add the rest of the stock, along with the coconut milk, lemon grass, lime leaves, potatoes, water chestnuts, and chicken directly into the slow cooker, and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Before serving, remove the lemon grass stalks, and lime leaves, and stir in the chopped fresh basil, and cilantro.  Serve over top of basmati rice, for a more filling meal.

Enjoy!





Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Brown Butter Peach Cobbler Muffins




I don't know about you, but after that horrid blast of winter (in September!), I am in the mood for pumpkins, and sweaters, and cute boots, and the cinnamony scent of autumn baking.  Oh, you didn't hear about the freak storm that hit Calgary last week?  We received a surprising summer snow storm that lasted over three days, and left the whole city, or at least the trees, in shambles.  

Everybody in Calgary has at least one broken tree to deal with.  We have one tree in the front yard that has broken branch about 20 feet up, and I'm too scared to climb it myself.  Our second casualty is the highlight of our backyard, a beautiful, and massive Mayday.  It split right down the middle of the trunk.  *Sobs*   I'm hoping an arborist will be able to help us save this tree, so it won't have to be cut down completely.  
Considering, that some people were out power for days, and many probably had trees fall on their cars, or maybe even their homes, we didn't fair to badly.  And for that, I am thankful! 

This meme gives me a giggle:

giving oprah - You get a broken tree! Everyone gets a broken tree!

Even though the snow has all melted, and we are back to blue skies and seasonal temperatures, that taste of cold chilly weather has left me craving belly filling soups, stews, and cozy fall baking.  
These muffins retain a taste of summer, using up the last of my peaches, but would also work well with any number of fruits...apples? blueberries? plums?  Mmmmm!

     
Let's try this again, Mother Nature.  This time let us ease into fall; enjoying falling leaves, instead of falling branches, and pumpkins, and apples and the awesomeness of autumn.  Plus, I have some really cute jackets I want to wear;)

Brown Butter Peach Cobbler Muffins
Recipe Adapted from:Joy the Baker Cookbook

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
7 Tablespoons (close to ½ cup) butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup milk (I used 2%)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup diced peaches, washed & de-fuzzed, skin left on or peeled.

Streusel :
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line muffin tin with cupcake liners (or grease tin) and set aside.
Using a small saucepan, brown the butter over medium-high heat.   Remove from heat and let cool.
While brown butter is cooling, use medium bowl and whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and set aside.
And make your streusal: combine butter, flour, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a small bowl and mash, using a fork, until it is crumbly, and also set aside.
In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract.  While whisking, slowly add the cooled brown butter (this is important or your eggs will scramble!) to the wet ingredients and whisk until well incorporated.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix, and mix until just combined.  Gently fold in the diced peaches until they are distributed evenly.  Divide batter into the prepared muffin tin, and spoon the prepared streusel over the top of each muffin.
Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cocoa Berry Overnight Oats


Ohmygoodness, I know the kids are back to school, which means the end of summer is nigh.  But doesn't it just feel Fallish out there?!  It's sooo cold in the mornings already, and I've worn boots twice(!) in the last week.  If that's not a sign that fall is on it's way, I don't know what is.

Not sure why I took so long to get on board with the overnight oat trend that's been happening over the last couple years...but now I get what all the fuss is about.  Overnight Oats are the bomb, guys!  They take like 5 minutes to throw together, and when you wake up, they're ready! No muss, no fuss!

I'm not at all a wake up and eat kinda girl, I usually like to drink all the coffee, and then have a sweat sesh first.  Which also means, I am always in a rush, cramming too many tasks in too short of a morning.  But with these overnight oats ready to go, I can grab the jar as we fly out the door, and nosh en route to school/work.  It's a stick-to-yer-ribs brekkie, perfect for fall; keeping you warm, and full 'til lunch.

If you too, have been putting off trying overnight oats, you've got to give them a taste.  Seriously.

Cocoa Berry Overnight Oats

1/2 cup steel cut oats
3/4 cup almond milk (or fave dairy, or nut milk)
1 Tablespoon Chia seeds
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1-2 Tablespoon(s) maple syrup
1/4 cup dried berries (I used PC Brand Berry Blend)

Use a medium sized jar or tight sealing container.  Add the oats, chia seeds, cocoa powder, dried berries, and stir to combine.  Next add the maple syrup, and almond milk, and stir again, until well mixed.  Place in the fridge 4-6 hours, or, as the name implies: overnight!  Stir once more in the morning, as the oats settle to the bottom.  Fill your belly, and have a great day!

Enjoy!