Monday, August 31, 2009

Curried Mushrooms and Peas

I mentioned a while ago that in an an effort to cook more Indian food, I picked up a few Indian cookbooks: 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, 660 Curries, and Indian in 6. Well I am finally getting to posting about some of the dishes I've made! Not everything has been great and some of it has definitely been my fault such as when I burned some spices because the pan was too hot. Oops. But I'm stumbling along on my journey to delicious home cooked Indian food. (Remember the chana masala/spicy Indian chickpeas I made from Lisa? Those are a favourite.) So right now what I have to share with you is curried mushrooms and peas. I love mushrooms, love peas, love curry - perfect for me. This dish was good but I'd up the spice level next time - probably double it.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Mushroom Pecan Burger
Hungarian Mushroom Soup
Walnut and Mushroom Nut Roast
Sweet Potato Badi

Curried Mushrooms and Peas
Adapted from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes

As I mentioned in my post, I'd double the spices next time (though maybe not the turmeric). I've written the recipe with the original amount of spice though because I'm not sure exactly how it will be with double.

1 pound white or brown button mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tsp finely grated ginger (about 2 inch piece)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 cup chopped tomato (about 1 small)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 1/4 cups shelled peas (I used frozen)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

Heat the oil in a large pan, and saute the onion until dark brown. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne, and stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture turns golden brown. This will happen quickly, so be careful it doesn't burn. Add the tomato and cilantro and saute another minute.

Add the peas and mushrooms to the spice mixture, mix well, add the water and salt, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. (Ashley note: Next time I'll uncover it and let it simmer for a bit to reduce the amount of liquid.) Serve hot.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Snickerdoodles are one of my favourite kinds of cookies so whenever I see a snickerdoodle version of something else, like these blondies or snickerdoodle muffins or snickerdoodle bundt cake, I have to try them out. I haven't tried out the bundt cake yet but it's definitely on my list. These blondies are super delicious, really soft, and deliciously cinnamon sugary. They taste kind of butterscotchy even. They're easy to make and use ingredients you likely already have so they're perfect for anytime.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Chewy Chunky Blondies
Peanut Butter Squares with Milk Chocolate and Oats
Chocolate Scotcheroos

Snickerdoodle Blondies
Adapted from Dozen Flours

I'm posting the original recipe but when I made it I halved it, used an 8x8 pan, baked it for 25 minutes, and used 183g flour.

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be somewhat cookiebatter-ish.) Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool in pan 15 minutes on a baking rack. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a rack. Once cool, cut them into bars.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Seitan

I've made baked seitan before, which was really delicious. But have never tried "regular" seitan. I've never seen it for sale in grocery stores here (except for maybe this really spongey slightly scary looking thing at an Asian grocery store). So I finally made it myself! And it was most exciting. And easy to make. I think I still prefer the baked seitan but this simple boiled seitan is more versatile because it's not really flavoured. While I enjoyed it, I don't think it's something I'd make all the time because I'm just as happy with tofu. I used the seitan in a dish from Vegan with a Vengeance - cold udon noodles with peanut sauce and seitan. Can't go wrong with noodles, peanut sauce and vegetables!

Random Abby photo! I love how her back legs are just splayed open.

I think this recipe is infinitely adaptable. Use tofu or tempeh or some other meat alternative instead of seitan. Use spaghetti, fettucine, or rice noodles instead of udon noodles. I used some kamut udon noodles which were good and I loved that they were made with kamut but they're expensive so I won't get them often. And use whatever your favourite vegetables are or whatever you have in the fridge.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Soba Noodles with Zucchini Ribbons
Honey-Mustard Marinated Tofu
Sunflower Rice Bowl
Lemon Miso Tofu & Eggplant

Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Seitan
Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance

Next time I think I'd put less maple syrup in the peanut sauce. Isa thinks the temperature of the ingredients is really important (warm seitan, cold noodles & vegetables, room temperature sauce) but personally I'd just eat the whole thing either hot or cold. Either way it'll be good. I chopped the vegetables and put together the plate as suggested but next time I'll chop all the vegetables up rather than into strips, and just mix everything together in a pot (so this is how I've written the recipe). I much prefer a plate of food that's easy to eat! And mixed together so I can get a bite of everything rather than one long piece of red pepper or something.

For the peanut sauce:
2 tsp peanut oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp minced ginger
1 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground coriander
2/3 cup smooth all natural peanut butter
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp Asian chile sauce or hot sauce

For the seitan:
1 pound seitan (2 cups) sliced into thin (1/4 inch) strips (Recipe below)
2 tsp peanut oil
1 clove garlic
2 tsp soy sauce

To serve:
10 ounces udon noodles
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 long english cucumber, diced
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup green onions, chopped

Make the peanut sauce:
In a small saucepan, saute the garlic and ginger in peanut oil over low-medium heat. Add the water, soy sauce, and coriander and bring to a boil. Add the peanut butter and turn the heat to low. Whisk well until the peanut butter and oil are combined. Mix in the maple syrup, vinegar and chile sauce. Remove from heat. If you want to eat the noodles cold then let the sauce cool, otherwise you can warm the sauce back up later.

For the noodles:
Meanwhile, prepare your udon noodles according to the package directions. Drain them and if you want to eat this dish cold, rinse them with cold water. Let them rest in the colander and prepare the seitan.

Saute the seitan slices in the peanut oil for 5 minutes on each side or until the seitan is browned and yummy. Then saute with the garlic for a minute, sprinkle with the soy sauce, and saute again for 30 seconds or so.

To serve:
Mix the vegetables, noodles, sauce, sesame seeds and seitan together.

Simple Seitan
Adapted from Veganomicon

Makes 1 pound

1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated on a microplane grater

8 cups cold water plus 3 vegetable bouillon cubes, or 4 cups broth plus 4 cups water

Mix together the gluten flour and yeast in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together the veggie broth, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and stir with a wooden spoon until most of the moisture has been absorbed and the wet ingredients are partially clumped up with the dry ingredients. Use your hands to knead the mixture for about 3 minutes, until the dough is elastic. Divide with a knife into 3 equal pieces and then knead those pieces in your hand just to stretch them out a bit.

Prepare the broth
Fill a stockpot with the water and broth (or bouillon cubes), and add the wheat gluten pieces. Cover and bring to a boil but watch carefully; you don't want it to boil for very long or the outside of the seitan will be spongy. Try to catch it as soon as it boils and then lower the heat as low as it will go so that it's at a low simmer.

Partially cover the pot so that the steam can escape and let simmer for an hour, turning the seitan occasionally. Turn off the heat and take the lid off; let sit for 15 minutes.

Remove from the broth and place in a strainer until it is cool enough to handle. It is now ready to be sliced up and used. If you have extra seitan, store in the cooking liquid in a tightly covered container.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cheddar & Dill Beer Bread Rolls

These cheddar & dill beer bread rolls have been on my list of things to make for a while and I'm sad that it took me so long to make them! Because they are really really good. When they first come out of the oven, they have a really strong beer taste, but once they cool it mellows out. These are great for a snack or with a meal and are really easy to make. If I had beer in my fridge all the time then I know I'd make these more often.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits
Maple Cornmeal Drop Biscuits
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Garlic Rolls

Cheddar & Dill Beer Bread Rolls
Adapted from Tinned Tomatoes

I used two 6 cup muffin tins this time but next time I might try these as drop style biscuits/rolls.

Makes 12

3 cups whole wheat flour (390 g)
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp dried dill
1 cup mature cheddar, finely grated
325 ml beer/lager

Heat oven to 375F. Sift the flour into a large bowl and then add the sugar, salt, baking powder, dill, and cheddar. Gradually pour in the beer and mix until just combined, do not over mix. The mixture will be quite thick and stretchy. (Ashley note: At this point it was pretty hard to mix but I was able to get it together.)

Divide the mixture into a 12 hole muffin tray and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden. The outside should be crispy and a toothpick should come out clean.

Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes before moving them onto a wire rack.

You can also divide the mixture into a large, 6 muffin tin or a loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Salad Challenge Week 2

Well Leng's two week salad challenge is over and I ate salad 13 out of 14 days. Overall it's been awesome! And it's made making dinner a lot less stressful. Though with all the summer fruit and salads I've been eating I think I've been getting a bit of produce overload. So here are the salads I ate over the last week. Almost every salad we ate this week had green beans in it - can you tell that green beans are my vegetable obsession this year? I don't think I even really liked them last year. They're just so gorgeous!

On Sunday I didn't get to have an official salad because we went hiking and had a picnic lunch, then went to my mom and stepdad's for dinner. I did however have a burrito which I will just call a salad wrap since it had all the right ingredients! With lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese and a spinach pesto wrap. Mmm love burritos.

Monday's salad we made one of my all time favourite dishes, french barley salad which I ate over romaine lettuce.

Tuesday's salad was romaine lettuce, mushrooms, green beans, honey flax crackers and this super delicious tofu beer sausage.

Wednesday's salad was romaine lettuce, snap peas, strawberries, sunflower seeds, hungarian pepper (which I got because I've never seen it before but it just tastes like green pepper), sol veggie burger, and garlic rolls.

Thursday's salad was yummy with romaine lettuce, cheese tortellini, sauteed green beans and mushrooms with herbs and garlic, and then drizzled with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. I loved the balsamic vinegar with the tortellini.

Friday unfortunately I wasn't able to have a salad. I didn't think I'd be able to bring a salad to work for lunch (unless I used a giant container) and we went out for a family dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

Saturday's salad was the most exciting because I finally got to try out the salad bar and hot food bar at Whole Foods, which I've seen on other people's blogs. However, the things I tried (which was practically everything) weren't that great so now at least I can stop drooling over all the different salads and tofus that they have in their deli section. There were a lot of grain salads (quinoa, farro and others), tofu (curry, one with peppers, and a pesto one), macaroni and cheese (of course I had to try that), potato salad, etc.

Sunday's salad was really simple with romaine lettuce, blue jay pepper (purple on the outside but tastes like a green pepper), snap peas and green beans, with a balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and parmesan dressing. I've eaten a bit too much this weekend so I wasn't even hungry for dinner thus I didn't bother adding a grain.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mediterranean Pepper Salad

I'm still eating my daily salad for the salad challenge and will post a roundup of the past week on Sunday. But for now I will post about this other really yummy salad as I want to make sure I get in on Jacqueline and Lisa's No Croutons Required pepper challenge!

Since it's been so hot here I've been craving salads a lot so I've gone through many different salad recipes over the last while. This one is a definite favourite. I've made it 3 times so far (which is a lot for me) and plan to make it many many more times. I've always wanted to make Greek salad at home but never knew how (which sounds kind of ridiculous because really, how hard is it?) - and now I feel like I've found it. Though it doesn't have any oregano, and Greek salad doesn't seem to usually have peppers. I liked eating a big bowl of this with a savoury muffin for a meal. And this salad has also made me realize how much I prefer cubes of feta to crumbles. With cubes you get a nice bite of flavourful feta - versus crumbles where you can barely taste it unless you add a ton.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
French Barley Salad
Warm Vegetable Salad with Sesame-Maple Dressing
Santa Fe Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pepper Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 4 meal size servings.

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cold water
1 tsp salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 a red onion, cut into a 1/2-inch dice (use less if your onion is huge)
3 bell peppers, your choice of colors (I used one red, orange and yellow)
4 roma tomatoes (or 1 cup grape tomatoes)
1/2 long english cucumber
1/4-pound firm feta cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup pitted sliced kalamata olives
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Swish together the red wine vinegar, water, kosher salt and sugar in a small bowl until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the red onion and set it aside.

Meanwhile, time to practice your knife skills. Core and seed your bell peppers and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. Chop the tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces. Chop the cucumber and feta into similarly-sized chunks. Put your peppers, cucumber, feta and olives in a large bowl.

By now, your onions will have lightly pickled, both sweetening and softening their blow. Drain them and add them to the other vegetables in the large bowl, but reserve the vinegar mixture. Pour a quarter cup of the vinegar mixture over the salad, then drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste. Toss evenly and serve at once, or let the flavors muddle together in the fridge for a few hours.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chewy, Chunky Blondies

As promised, here is a delicious baked good. Actually, this is no ordinary delicious baked good - it's an extremely yummy and perfect blondie. It's filled with toffee bits, chocolate chunks, coconut and walnuts, and is nice and dense and chewy (and a little too addictive). This comes from my favourite baking book, Baking: From My Home to Yours - a book that I would love to just live in. Every time I open it it makes me happy.

The other day I found Abby hiding under her cube and playing with her blue ball toy. She adores the cube and as you can see it's not exactly cube shaped anymore because she plays with it so much. She loves just hitting the top of it with her paw because it goes up and down. Kind of strange but really cute.

If this sounds good, you migh also like:
Monster Cookies
Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies
Peanut Butter Squares with Milk Chocolate and Oats
Hello Dolly Bars

Chewy, Chunky Blondies
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store bought chocolate chips
1 cup toffee bits
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan and put it on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until well incorporated. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chips, nuts and coconut. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use the spatula to even out the top.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the blondies comes out clean. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan a little and the top should be a honey brown. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 15 minutes before turning the blondies out onto another rack. Invert onto a rack and cool the blondies to room temperature right side up.

Cut into 32 bars.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Salads! Including Portobello Salad with Mustard Dressing

Are you guys getting sick of all the salad? I promise I'll post about some delicious baked good next time.

I've admired this salad in Veganomicon ever since I got the cookbook but for some reason never made it. As soon as I decided to take part in Leng's salad challenge I knew this was something I'd have to make! Marinated roasted portobellos, avocado, red onion, chickpeas, a mustard dressing - what more can I ask for? The grain portion of my salad was some tortilla "chips" that I made by cutting a tortilla up and toasting it. This was my favourite salad out of the last 6 salads. The roasted portobellos were really good and I loved the marinade so will use it with other vegetables or tofu. However I do not enjoy how expensive portobellos are.

Friday's salad was the least delicious salad of the week and also included ruining one of our pots when we were steaming the beets. Hopefully we can salvage it. Anyway the salad included beets, red onion, homemade garlic oregano basil parmesan breadcrumbs (didn't use enough oil this time to get things to stick to the bread), grated carrot, tofu marinated in the leftover portobello marinade, olives, red leaf lettuce, and the rest of the mustard dressing from the day before.

Today's salad was delicious crunchy romaine lettuce, beets, chickpeas, grated Gouda cheese, whole wheat pasta, and Caesar dressing. I love having the gouda in there.

I find it hard to come up with salads that incorporate grains. I think I prefer eating something on the side like bread or a savoury muffin or something. And I think I'm getting stuck trying to come up with yummy salad combinations. Any suggestions?

Portobello Salad with Mustard Dressing
Adapted from Veganomicon

Serves 4

1/4 cup smooth mustard (Ashley note: I used some balsamic fig mustard I had but next time I'll go for dijon.)
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

8 cups mixed greens
1 avocado, peeled, halved, pitted and cubed
1 small red onion, sliced into very thin half moons
15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 recipe Roasted Portobellos (recipe follows)

Preparing the dressing: Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Toss all the salad ingredients together, except the portobellos. Add the dressing. Divide up the salad and place the sliced warm portobellos on top of each salad.

Roasted Portobellos
Adapted from Veganomicon

1/2 cup wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large or up to 4 small portobello caps

Clean the portobello caps. Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a glass pie plate or small casserole. Place the mushrooms upside down in the marinade and spoon a lot of the marinade into each cap to form a small pool. Preheat the oven to 400F and marinated for about 20 minutes.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, use tongs to flip the caps over, and cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Let it cool a bit and then slice the mushrooms very thinly on the diagonal to make nice meaty slices.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Salad Challenge Day 2 & 3 - The Diva Salad

Last night's salad was called the "diva salad" and I found the recipe in Fresh at Home. I've only made a few things from this cookbook but I think with its salads, noodle dishes, rice bowls and other delicious healthy things it will fast become a favourite. The diva had romaine lettuce, potato wedges (you're supposed to roast the potato yourself but we have these yummy frozen seasoned ones so just used those), capers, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, avocado and creamy dill dressing - with another piece of jalapeno cheddar cornbread. I was really interested in the creamy dill dressing because it uses firm tofu, onions, dill, garlic, dijon, vinegar and some oil. It was pretty good and something different, and I loved that the dressing contains so much protein (because of the tofu). But it was impossible (at least with my food processor) to get a smooth non lumpy dressing. It was kind of like ricotta. This salad was really filling and very satisfying.

Tonight's salad used up last night's creamy dill dressing. We used romaine and red leaf lettuce, red bell pepper, olives, red onion, green onions, feta, and homemade garlic oregano bread crumbs. The bread crumbs were super delicious and definitely were an integral part of the salad!

The Diva Salad
Adapted from Fresh at Home

As I mentioned, we used some frozen seasoned potato wedges. But I'll write out the recipe as is. Next time I'll add more capers, more onion, and cut the sun dried tomatoes into bigger pieces because I couldn't really taste them.
Serves 2

8 frozen potato wedges (or make your own potato wedges)
6 cups mixed lettuce greens
2 tbsp capers, drained
1/2 batch Creamy Dill Dressing (recipe below)
6 sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated if dried, sliced thinly
2 thin slices red onion
1 ripe avocado, sliced

1. Toss lettuce greens and capers with creamy dill dressing. (I didn't do this and realized afterwards that I really should have.) Divide between 2 salad bowls.

2. Top with sun dried tomatoes, red onion and avocado.

3. Arrange potato wedges vertically around edges of salad and serve.

Creamy Dill Dressing
Adapted from Fresh at Home

3 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
1 cooking onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
2 cups chopped firm tofu (1 package)
1 tbsp dried dillweed
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dijon mustard (Ashley note: I love mustard so I'd add more next time.)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
filtered water (optional)

1. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat.

2. Saute the onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened. Set aside and let cool.

3. Put onion/garlic mixture, remaining olive oil, tofu, dillweed, salt, mustard and vinegar in a blender and process until smooth. Add water if needed for a smooth consistency.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Roasted Taco Chickpeas & Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

I'm super excited about day one of Leng's salad challenge!! We usually eat salad a few nights a week at least but not usually as the main course. And we usually buy the box salad because we don't have a salad spinner and I haven't wanted to go through the hassle of washing lettuce and fearing it will go bad before we eat it. But tonight I realized (yes it took me a while) how ridiculous that is and how insanely delicious fresh lettuce is!! (Not to mention that now we'll be avoiding that extra packaging and production required for the boxed lettuce.) I loooove romaine lettuce. So crunchy and delicious. The box salads always taste kind of chemically or weird to me. But fresh lettuce you can easily eat on its own without dressing. I could just snack on a bowl of it even. Maybe that's because I've been depriving myself of fresh lettuce for so long though haha.

Tonight for dinner we had a salad with: romaine lettuce, roma tomatoes, red bell pepper, corn, green onions, taco seasoned roasted chickpeas, and jalapeno cheddar cornbread! Mmmm. For the cornbread, I wanted one that used oil not butter so I found a vegan recipe. Then I added some cheddar cheese and jalapeno to it. I love cornbread, and shockingly my boyfriend said he liked the texture of this one (he really doesn't like cornbread because he usually thinks it's too dry). I didn't add enough cheese to make it distinctly cheesy nor enough jalapeno to have a strong flavour (should've left in some seeds), but I will make some version of this cornbread again. It's super easy and I'm already planning on adding corn and red pepper next time.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Spicy Indian Chickpeas/Chana Masala
Artichoke Rotini Pasta
French Barley Salad
Caramelized Onion, Sage and Cheddar Muffins

Roasted Taco Chickpeas
Adapted from Veggie Terrain who adapted from Happy Herbivore

The amount of taco seasoning in this recipe is enough for 2 batches of roasted chickpeas, so you'll have some leftover for next time!

1 1/2 cups chickpeas (about a can)
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce (Ashley note: Next time I think I'll just use water.)
2 tbsp taco seasoning

Taco Seasoning
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a small bowl, mix all taco seasoning ingredients together.

Mix together chickpeas, soy sauce, and taco seasoning. (Put extra taco seasoning in a sealed container.) Spread on a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Adapted from Isa Moskowitz

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tbsp canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup soymilk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (I removed the seeds)
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, separated

Preheat oven to 350, line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper or spray the bottom lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soymilk and the vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt). Add the jalapeno pepper and half of the cheese, and mix together. Add the oil and maple syrup to the soymilk mixture. Whisk with a wire whisk or a fork until it is foamy and bubbly, about 2 minutes. (Ashley note: I didn't see that I was supposed to whisk these all together so didn't do it. I'll try it next time though to see if it makes a difference!)

Pour the wet ingredient into the dry and mix together using a large wooden spoon or a firm spatula. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tarragon Pecan Asparagus

As some of you might know, I'm always reluctant to use my favourite fresh fruits and vegetables in cooking/baking because I love enjoying them just on their own. Asparagus is a favourite, especially the tips, but I had bought a lot one week so decided to try out a new recipe. And oh wow was it addictive. I could've sat and eaten a big bowl of just that for dinner.

Tomorrow is the start of Leng's (A Fat Cat Who Created A Vegetarian) two week salad challenge that I'm taking part in! Every day you have to eat a salad (as your main dish or as a side) that includes (at minimum) leafy greens, a different coloured vegetable/fruit, protein and a grain. I love eating big substantial salads for meals so I'm really looking forward to the challenge. I plan on posting about my salads every few days. Oh and that picture up there is my gorgeous salad bowl (though I think it's supposed to be a pasta bowl). I like tossing everything together and this bowl is big enough to make sure everything stays in the bowl (most of the time anyway).

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Asparagus and Feta Pasta
Sesame Beets
Maple Mustard Glazed Potatoes and String Beans
Herbed Cauliflower with Capers & Lemon

Tarragon Pecan Asparagus
Adapted from The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

1 1/2 lbs asparagus
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar
2 tsp honey (Use a different sweetener to make this vegan.)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup minced pecans, lightly toasted
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 tsp dried tarragon
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Break off and discard the tough bottom ends of the asparagus, then slice the stalks on the diagonal into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Set aside.

2. Combine the vinegar and honey in a small bowl and mix until the honey dissolves. Set aside.

3. Place a large deep skillet over medium heat. After about a minute, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the pecans and saute over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until they are fragrant and lightly toasted.

4. Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the asparagus, garlic and salt. Stir fry for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is just barely tender. (Thicker asparagus will take longer.)

5. Add the vinegar mixture to the asparagus, stirring well. Cook over high heat for only about 30 seconds longer, then remove from the heat.

6. Stir in the tarragon, more salt if you like, and some black epper to taste. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Olive Tapenade

I made this olive tapenade for my mom's birthday dinner because she's a big olive lover. Everyone always passes their olives over to her - well except me now, I've grown to like them. But I didn't think I, or anyone other than my mom or sister in law, would like this tapenade. But people did! It's so incredibly easy to make, versatile and full of flavour. I think it would be an excellent addition to an otherwise blah sandwich, or maybe it could be mixed into a pasta dish, and of course it can be eaten on bread as we did. When I cook, I'm scared of changing too much especially if it's an unfamiliar dish. But for some reason with this one, I felt confident it would turn out however I modified it and it did. So feel free to add or take out whatever you like.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Onion Chutney
Spinach Artichoke Heart Dip
Cheddar Ale Dip
Pan Fried Onion Dip

Olive Tapenade
Adapted from Lisa's Kitchen

I don't remember what kind of olives I used, and while it might be best to use Kalamata olives, I think any black olive would be okay. But I'm not a frequent olive eater so I might not know what I'm talking about. =)

1 generous cup of Kalamata olives, pitted
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary
freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you have a thick paste. Adjust seasonings accordingly.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lemon Lust Cake

I made this cake for my mom's birthday (almost 2 months ago now - I'm so behind with blogging about what I've made that I look at the photos and have no idea what it is, well that's only happened with some muffins I've made). Anyway, she loves lemon and buttercream icing (and lots of it), so I thought this cake would be a good choice. It's a lemon cake brushed with lemon syrup, filled with lemon cream cheese (cream cheese, whipped cream and lemon curd mmm) and iced with lemon buttercream. You can see why this is called the lemon lust cake! And yes of course the cake was very lemony. The star of the cake was definitely the lemon cream cheese filling, and the cake itself was pretty good but the lemon buttercream on the outside was, well, very very buttery. It's the kind of buttercream that's just butter plain mixed with stuff (in this case, lemon curd). If you eat the cake straight out of the fridge the icing is quite solid (as butter is). I much prefer Swiss meringue buttercream so I'd switch it for that next time.

Now that I'm looking at the photos of the cake I'm thinking I could've fancied it up a bit with some candied lemon slices. But I'm moreso the type to not care too much about how it looks as long as it tastes good. Though candied lemon slices might be delicious - I should make them one day. Looking at the pictures of the slice of cake, it makes me think of those old cars that have long hoods and front ends that stick out on top.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Strawberry Cream Cake
Creamy Coconut Cake
Lemon Cheesecake
Coconut Lemon Bundt Cake

Lemon Lust Cake
Adapted from The Cake Book

Split the lemon curd evenly for the filling and the icing.

Lemon Cake
3 cups (342 g) cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup whole milk

Lemon Curd
8 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Lemon Cream Cheese Filling
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces (113 g) cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 recipe lemon curd

Lemon Soaking Syrup
1/3 cup (80 mL) water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Lemon Buttercream
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 recipe Lemon Curd
Pinch of salt

Make the lemon curd:
1. Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium heavy nonreactive saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, and sugar until blended. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, salt, and butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, 7 to 10 minutes (do not let the custard boil, or it will curdle). The mixture should leave a path on the back of a wooden spoon when you draw your finger across it. Immediately strain the mixture through the sieve, pressing it through with a rubber spatula.

2. Set the bowl containing the lemon mixture in a large bowl filled about one-third of the way with ice water (be careful that the water doesn't splash into the lemon mixture). Stir the mixture frequently until it is slightly chilled, about 15 minutes. Put the curd into an airtight container with a lid and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the cake:
3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of two 9 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

4. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine, and set aside.

5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar and beat at high speed until well blended and light, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and mixing until blended. Beat in the lemon zest and lemon juice until blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the milk in two additions and mixing just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly, and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

6. Bake the cakes for 22 to 25 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.

7. Invert the cakes onto the wire racks and let cool completely.

Make the filling:
8. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream at high speed until firm peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a smaller bowl, cover and refrigerate.

9. In the same mixer bowl (no need to wash it), using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until very creamy, about 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in the vanilla extract. Add the lemon curd and beat at medium speed until well blended and smooth, about 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream until almost completely blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate while you make the syrup and buttercream.

Make the syrup:
10. In a small pot, combine the water, lemon juice, and sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside at room temperature.

Make the buttercream:
11. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy and light, about 2 minutes. At medium speed, gradually add the lemon curd, a large spoonful at a time, then add the salt and beat at medium-high speed until creamy and light, about 1 1/2 minutes. Set aside at room temperature while you assemble the cake.

Assemble the cake:
12. Using a long serrated knife, trim off the domed tops of the cakes so that they are even (save any cake pieces and crumbs for snacking). Cut each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Reserve one of the flat bottom layers for the top of the cake. Place another layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or flat serving plate. Generously brush with some of the lemon syrup. Spoon a scant cup of the filling onto the cake and, suing a small offset metal spatula, spread it into an even layer, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge of the cake. Top with another cake layer and brush it with more syrup. Top with another scant cup of filling. Repeat with another layer, more syrup, and the remaining filling. Brush the cut side of the reserved cake layer with the remaining syrup. Place the layer cut side down on top of the cake.

13. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the buttercream. Serve the cake or refrigerate it. If it has been refrigerated, let stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes before serving.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Spaghetti All'Arrabbiata with Crispy Garlic Crumbs

I've always preferred white/cream sauces to red sauces. I like rose sauces (a mix of red and white) but just never found a red sauce that I liked. But then I tried out this recipe and I actually quite like it. It's simple and easy to make, uses basic ingredients and tastes yummy! You don't have to make the crispy garlic crumbs but they are certainly delicious!

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Asparagus and Feta Pasta
Fresh Pear and Curry Pasta
Pasta with Creamy Spinach Walnut Sauce
Artichoke Rotini Pasta

Spaghetti All'Arrabbiata with Crispy Garlic Crumbs
Adapted from Rebar

1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3/4 tsp salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp red chile flakes, or more to taste
1 cup red wine
28 oz can whole or diced tomatoes (Ashley note: I use diced.)
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
10 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped (Ashley note: I think I used about 1 tbsp freeze dried basil?)
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
375 g whole wheat spaghetti
Crispy Garlic Crumbs (recipe below)

Heat the saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until a piece of onion sizzles on contact. Saute onion with 1/2 tsp salt for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, bay leaves, chile flakes and saute another 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with red wine and let it reduce until thick and syrupy. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes, basil, pepper and remaining salt. Simmer gently, partially covered, for up to one hour. Meanwhile, put a large pot of water on to boil to cook the pasta.

To serve, cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Toss with half of the arrabbiata sauce and transfer toa serving dish. Serve remaining sauce on the side along with grated Parmesan, chopped fresh basil and crispy garlic breadcrumbs to sprinkle on top.

Crispy Garlic Crumbs
1 cup fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs (about 2 pieces of bread)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake in a 325F oven until golden and crispy (about 10 minutes).