Tag Archives: recipes

Gratitude of the Day: Being an easy-going cook

2 Oct

Now, I wouldn’t be so bold as to say I am a good cook. If you put me on the set of one of those reality cooking shows I would stare at the rows of ingredients like a deer in the headlights and then maybe manage to whip together a mediocre salad off the top of my head. I wouldn’t know where to begin when creating a recipe for muffins or cookies or pies from scratch. I don’t know anything about palates or contrasting flavors or any of those things cool people go to culinary school to learn. What I do know is that I am relatively easy to please and my mother was kind enough to instill upon me what I call the “shrug and go” technique. It involves exactly what it implies. When you come upon an ingredient you don’t have or a method you don’t understand you simply shrug and proceed ahead with whatever first pops into your heard. For instance, this evening, I decided to put together a recipe I found for Kelp Noodles and Spicy Peanut Sauce and my inner monologue went something like this:

“I only have one package of noodles instead of two. Ah well, never liked noodles much anyway — more veggies for me! Oh. I don’t have broccoli. Brussel sprouts it is then! What on earth are Enoki mushrooms? Let’s pretend it says button mushrooms. One teaspoon of grated ginger? What if mine is frozen into a solid block formation? Hmm… yes this large chunk I have sawed off will do. Don’t have red curry paste…let’s go with green. Two teaspoons? That’s awfully complicated to measure. I think a small-ish sized glob will be just fine. Hey wait, I don’t have cumin or coriander or chili sauce like I thought. Curry powder? That’s spicy-ish. And cultural. Meh… sound good. Hurrah!”

And I gotta say… it was a pretty darn fine meal. I mean look at it:

Now, truth be told, this method doesn’t work for everything. I once swapped evaporated milk in for condensed milk and the results were not pretty. I probably should have assumed from the names that evaporated would be the exact opposite of condensed… but hey — live and learn! I don’t think I’ve ever followed a recipe word for word and I’m okay with that. It all tastes fine to me!

P.S. You should totally try this recipe in whichever form works for you — because it’s seriously delicious.

Super Healthy Dinner: Vegan Tempeh Marinara Pasta

8 Sep

This dish is the perfect combination of healthy and tasty. Which is great because I so rarely think of pasta as being “good for you”. But this dish is full of nutritious goodies. And I finally feel like I understand why Italians love making their own marinara sauce. The taste is so much better! I followed a recipe I found on Healthy Happy Life with a few minor adjustments:

  • I used sliced portobello and button mushrooms instead of of shitake.
  • I doubled the amount of kale (for some extra green goodness)
  • I used about half the amount of olive oil recommended just because 1/4 cup seemed like a little two much
  • I realized at the last minute I didn’t have any onion which was too bad, but I’ll make sure to have some on hand for next time!
  • For the sauce I did a small ziploc bag of plain tomato sauce that I happened to have in the fridge and then cut up one roma tomato and one normal tomato. I also chopped up a red pepper and added it along with the garlic and spices.
  • I ground raw cashews into a powder as topping instead of getting a Parmesan cheese substitute.

Next time around I think I’d like to use whole wheat pasta or maybe soba noodles. This was my first time using tempeh which was cool. It was very interesting. I’m excited to try grilling it to see how that works. Definitely a day of firsts!

Day 7 vegan discovery: Delicious wraps

5 Sep

I am pleased to say I have finally solved a mystery. In the past when I have made a wrap for myself it typically just involved me throwing some cheese and maybe a little ham in a whole wheat wrap, warming it up and calling it a day. So it’s no wonder I didn’t find it as exciting as when I got a wrap at a sandwich shop or restaurant. But when you have the right ingredients — a wrap made at home can be even better than one you buy.

Seeing as I’m not spending money on meat, cheese, or dairy products anymore, I have some extra funds to buy ridiculously awesome produce that I would otherwise have talked myself out of. And that lead to creating the best wrap of my existence. I filled a whole wheat pita with tomatoes, red pepper, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, shredded carrots and the “piece de resistence”: lentil hummus.

I found the recipe on Oh She Glows and it was unbelievably easy. I’ll be making it a lot more when I want a change from chick pea hummus. So simple and so good!

Mushroom and Kale Gravy over Millet

2 Sep

Oh She Glows is overflowing with healthy and delicious recipes such as this scrumptious Mushroom and Kale Gravy over Millet. The gravy is creamy and delicious while the kale adds a nice chewy texture and the millet adds the perfect tender crunch. I followed the recipe quite closely except that I used red onion instead of white because it was all I had and I substituted 2/3 button mushrooms and 1/3 portobello mushrooms because I didn’t have cremini. I also doubled the kale quantity for some added fibre and leafy greens. And because I didn’t have nutritional yeast I ground cashews into a powder instead. It was so good I literally closed my eyes to savor it. Enjoy!!

Peanut Butter Soba Noodle Stir Fry

7 Jul

Okay, I virtually always like the things I cook. Even if something I whip up may be disgusting, the fact I made it makes it my baby and I feel I am required to like it. But this…this dish is AMAZING. I seriously feel like you could find it in a restaurant. It’s nutty, creamy and delicious.

I used this recipe almost verbatim: Soba Noodles with Shrimp, Snow Peas & Carrots — with a few exceptions…

1) I realized after I had started that I only had half the amount of shrimp I needed. So I pan-fried a diced chicken breast in sesame oil and added it to the mix at the same time as the sauce. I strongly recommend it!

2) I accidentally used snap peas instead of snow peas — but it was still delicious!

3) I forgot to add the cilantro which was sad but I have plenty of leftovers that I will load up with the stuff.

4) I think I added close to an extra cup of grated carrot which I think made it even better so I would totally recommend doing so.

5) I used these super cool soba noodles I found at my local health food store:

They’re 95% buckwheat and 5% sweet potato! How cool is that!? If you can track them down I can practically guarantee you will love them. Enjoy!!

Healthy Banana Bars

29 May

A little while ago I came across this recipe for Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Road Cake. And this morning, as a reward for the busy day I had yesterday, I decided to finally enjoy some quality baking time. Unfortunately I didn’t have one of the title ingredients — honey. But the fact it was the healthiest banana bread I had stumbled across in some time (possibly ever) made me decide it was worth trying anyway. And the substitutions I made seemed to work out perfectly. The only thing I think I could have added but didn’t think of until it was too late was chopped walnuts. Walnuts are always a great addition to banana bread. Oh well — next time! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup Splenda (or other sweetener of choice)
  • 1 egg (or flax egg if making vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 heaping tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine banana, Splenda, egg, vanilla, maple syrup, peanut butter and apple sauce in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Ensure all banana lumps have disappeared.
  3. Stir in flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Pour mixture into a greased 8 x 8 baking pan. Even out mixture.
  5. Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes. You can check on it at 25 minutes but I find the bananas cause the mixture to take a long time to cook.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes or so as bread will continue to cook on the inside and then serve.

Note: Loaf can easily be cut into squares which are convenient to take with you as a quick snack or breakfast on-the-go.

Veggie, Chicken, Noodle Stir-fry

3 Feb

Sometimes it can be nice to follow a recipe perfectly and know you will get it just right. But it can also be deeply rewarding to play around with a recipe and really test one’s kitchen knowledge. It can be really satisfying to look for substitutions and alternatives. So this recipe originally started as Mushroom Asparagus Japchae but I wanted to add in some different veggies, mix in some chicken and used a different type of noodle because of what I had on hand. Never the less, it turned out wonderfully. I highly recommend it has a great combination of all the nutrients your body needs and it’s delicious to boot!

Veggie, Chicken, Noodle Stir-fry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

- 200g noodles (I used rice spaghettini but glass noodles or vermicelli would also work great)

- 500g sliced assorted mushrooms (I used a combination of button and enoki mushrooms but shitake or oyster would also work)

- 1 chicken breast (butterflied and sliced thinly)

- 1/2 bunch of asparagus (chopped into 1 inch pieces)

- 1/2 head of broccoli (chopped into small florets)

- 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (divided)

- 3 tablespoons chicken broth

- 2 cloves of garlic (minced)

- 4 tablespoons soya sauce (divided)

- 4 teaspoons brown sugar (divided)

- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (divided)

- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds (divided)

- salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch sliced mushrooms in boiling water for 10 seconds. Strain mushrooms and run under cold water. Set aside.

2. Prepare noodles according to package instructions. When they are done you can strain them and set aside. While noodles cook, proceed with the rest of the steps.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil in a frying pan with chicken. Once you can no longer see any raw sides in the chicken, add in the broccoli and garlic. After 2 or 3 minutes, add in the asparagus. Cook until veggies achieve desired tenderness. Add in chicken broth. Let simmer for a minute or two. Then transfer into a bowl.

4. Add 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil to the same pan and stir in mushrooms. Stir in 2 tablespoons soya sauce, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon sesame seeds. Remove from heat and add to bowl of veggies and chicken

5. Heat remaining oils, soya sauce, sugar and sesame seeds. Stir in cooked noodles and let them soak everything in. When noodles have warmed, add in the bowl of veggies and chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste.

It’s delicious eaten right away later as leftovers!

Israeli Couscous with Prosciutto, Asparagus & Mushrooms

3 Feb

When there’s a totally new ingredient in my kitchen I simply refuse to use it in an average dish – I become determined to use it as it was meant to be done. My mom brought home some Israeli couscous and as soon as I came across this recipe I knew it was a match made in heaven. This dish is the perfect combination of meat, cheese and veggies so you must give it a try!

Israeli Couscous with Prosciutto, Asparagus & Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients:

- 8 oz. Israeli couscous

- 6 oz asparagus (sliced into 1 inch pieces)

- 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

- 8ozĀ  cremini mushrooms (sliced)

- 2 cloves of garlic (minced)

- a pinch of red chili flakes or paprika

- 1/2 cup dry white wine

- 3 oz. prosciutto (chopped)

- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

- 1/4 cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)

- salt (to taste)

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water (salted, if desired) to a boil. Add in couscous an cook until al dente. This may take a good deal longer than you expect as the couscous is large and takes a while to cook through. Once it reaches al dente, toss in the asparagus and let cook for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add mushrooms and cook until they become tender. Add in the rest of the olive oil, garlic and red chili flakes/paprika. Stir until well combined and then add in white wine and let simmer for 2 minutes.

3. Add prosciutto and let simmer for a minute or two.

4. Stir in Parmesan cheese, parsley and salt. Mix until well combined.

5. Serve with an additional sprinkling of Parmesan and salt if desired.

Curried Veggies & Bulgur

19 Jan

The best way to describe this dish is a healthy version of chicken fried rice – and all you have to do is try it once and you’ll never go back to the old way again. I came across this recipe that used bulgur – I’ve never used the stuff before but I am so glad I tried it out. It is the perfect cross between rice and quinoa and is incredibly good for you. So there really isn’t a bad thing in this dish!

Curried Veggies & Bulgur

Serves 4

Ingredients:

- 2 tablespoons olive oil

- 1 medium onion, chopped

- 2 tablespoons curry powder

- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

- 1 cup bulgur

- 1 and 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth

- 1/4 cup currants and/or raisins

- 1/3 cup frozen peas

- 1/3 cup frozen corn

- 1/2 cup button mushrooms, chopped

- 1/4 cup sliced or chopped toasted almonds (I simply chopped up some whole almonds and toasted them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes)

- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- 4 eggs

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a pan on medium-low heat. Add in onions and cook until caramelized. Stir in curry powder. Toss in the bulgur and mix well so it becomes coated with some oil. Add in carrots and let sit for a minute or two.

2. Pour in the broth and currants/raisins. Cover the pan and let cook for 10 minutes.

3. Pour in the peas, corn and mushrooms and cover again. Let cook on low heat for another minute or two before turning the heat off and letting the mixture sit, covered, for 15 minutes.

4. While the mixture sits, fry the eggs in a pan until yolks achieve desired level of hardness.

5. When the bulgur mixture has cooked enough, stir in the almonds and salt. Scoop mixture into bowls and top each with a fried egg.

Note: If you are cooking the mixture to last you for lunches/dinners through the week it is probably best that you not fry all the eggs at once but rather cook them one at a time as needed.

Ethiopian Saute

15 Jan

I had a bunch of random vegetables on their way downhill this evening so I decided to make use of them. But I wasn’t in the mood for my usual herb topped roasted veggies or soy infused stir fry so I wasn’t sure what to do. That’s when I came across this recipe for Ethiopian saute! I switched up some of the ingredients based on what I needed to get rid of in my fridge but I stuck to the spices recommended and it turned out great. The only change I might make for next time is to lower the lemon juice a teensy bit and up the spice quantity – it was a little too much on the citrusy side for my personal tastes. But on the whole – definitely something worth trying!

Ethiopian Saute

Ingredients:

- Vegetables of your choosing (I used about 1/2 cup each of broccoli, chopped carrots and sliced red onions, 1 cup of chopped mushrooms and 2 cups of torn spinach)

- 1 tablespoon oil (I used grapeseed oil but any will do)

- 3 cloves of garlic

- 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white wine

- 2 teaspoons of itty bitty pinches of coriander, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, paprika, ginger and salt – combined in a small container

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a pan on medium-low heat. Add in vegetables according to cooking preference (I did onions and carrots, then broccoli and garlic, then mushrooms and spinach right at the end).

2. Sprinkle in lemon juice/white wine and spices. Distribute spices well.

3. There isn’t even a step 3 – it’s that easy! Eat up!

 

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