Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

There’s something about thunderstorms and baking that go so perfectly together. Being all snuggled up inside while something tasty is baking in the oven is one of my favorite feelings. While pouring showers in Australia are a lot warmer than the ones back home, they still make me crave fall-y flavors, and baking muffins in a new place always makes me feel at home.

The oven here is an interesting beast. There’s no temperature gauge and it has an open flame, but I’m guesstimating that 375 will work pretty good for these guys. I found some almond encrusted dates in the grocery store which were pretty exciting chopped up and mixed in the batter, but if you just want to use regular dates that’s cool too.

Even though I hate the word moist with a passion, all the apple in these definitely makes them worthy of that description. Since I’m an impatient person I pried one out of the pan way before they had cooled and it fell to pieces immediately so I ate it with a fork in a bowl. If you’re more patient than I am, and like your muffins whole, wait about 30 minutes before digging in. Or use muffin liners, your call.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Makes 12

2 cups flour, your choice(spelt is good here)
2/3 cup sucanat
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
½ cup vegan butter, melted
2 tsps vanilla
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon flax mixed into 3 tablespoons water
2 granny smith apples, finely chopped.
¾ cup dates rolled in almonds, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375, and grease some muffin tins. In a bowl mix together the flour, sucanat, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl combine the vegan butter, vanilla, almond milk, flax egg. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour in liquid, stir til just combined. Mix in apples and dates, and divide amongst muffin tins. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean(a few crumbs are okay).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

Lately I've been experimenting with putting coconut butter into all the places that vegan butter normally goes. Cookies, cupcakes, and everything else really. Sometimes it imparts a little bit of coconutty flavor, other times I don't even notice it except for the rich light texture it leaves. In cookies it keeps them moist and chewy but not oily, and in these cupcakes it made them a little denser than an ordinary cupcake but incredibly moist and flavorful. I hate the word moist but I honestly couldn't think of a word to replace it.

My original plan was to put lemon zest as well as juice in the batter, but our zester's vanished so that didn't happen. Adding a couple teaspoons would be an awesome addition though!

These guys are pretty tasty on their own, and frosting would make them even better. I'm one of those people who prefers the tops of muffins to the rest of them, and that happened with these a little as well. There's a couple sitting in my fridge decapitated right now actually. No shame.

I used homemade cashew milk for this recipe which turned out awesome, (1/4 cup cashews blended with 1 cup water), but any commercially made nut or soy milk should turn out fine as well.

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

1 cup cashew/almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup coconut butter, softened
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 cup cake/pastry flour, sifted
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350, line a muffin tin with liners.

Mix together cashew milk and apple cider vinegar with lemon juice, set aside for a few minutes.

Cream together sugar and softened coconut butter. Add vanilla, and milk and apple cider vinegar mixture.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt.

Mix the dry into the wet, and combine until smooth. Fill liners and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Roasted Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich has been one of my favorite things to eat since I can remember having favorite things to eat. At the beginning of January I had a pretty bad cold so I started putting ginger into everything, and this soup was born! It freezes and reheats really well, which is handy because when you're just trying to make soup for one every recipe seems to make enough to feed a village. If you don't like ginger feel free not to add it, but if you've got a cold it does an amazing job of clearing out your nose. Prepare your kleenex.

I've burned many a grilled cheese sandwich in my life, but I've found that using the heaviest pan you can (cast iron frying pans are awesome for this) work best and is the most even. On lower heat than you would expect, especially if the bread you're using is a bit thicker. Putting a lid over the pan while you're grilling it also helps the cheese to melt faster.

I don't know why it took me this long to add hummus to grilled cheese, but smearing both sides of the insides of the bread makes things extra amazing. So does adding tomatoes, if you're into that.

Roasted Tomato Soup
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14 oz can roasted tomatoes
2 carrots, chopped
salt and pepper
a bay leaf
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2-1 cup almond milk

Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the garlic and onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir fry until soft, then add the tomatoes, ginger, chopped carrots, and bay leaf. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Take out the bay leaf and blend in batches in a blender until smooth, adding the almond milk. If you'd like it a little thinner add more veggie stock.

Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
2 slices bread(I used sprouted whole grain bread)
Vegan Butter
1/4 cup Daiya cheese
1 thin tomato slice

Butter one side of each slice of bread, and the insides of both slices with hummus. Butter side out fill the sandwich with Daiya cheese and the tomato slice. Grill in a preheated pan on low, flipping over halfway through.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't think chocolate chip cookies need a lot of introduction. They're round, they're perfect, they're chocolatey. I'm a chewy cookie kind of girl, and I recently discovered the secret that adding a bit of cornstarch to your cookies keeps them soft and amazing.

I also discovered that I don't think there's a saturation point for too many chocolate chips in a cookie. It's just not possible. When the cookies harden and cool, so does the chocolate and that keeps it together. Handy for when you're only using cookies as a vehicle to get chocolate into your mouth.

Another cookie tip to keep in mind is that if you prefer softer cookies take them out when they look just barely cooked. The edges can be crisped up and a little brown, but if the middles look a bit doughy it's perfect. They continue to cook once they're out of the oven, so doing this keeps them from becoming to crispy.

Putting the cookie dough in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes before baking helps keep cookies from spreading too much, and relaxes the gluten a little keeping your cookies soft. It's not essential though if you're impatient.

I used spelt flour which resulted in a slighty denser, almost nutty tasting cookie. You can use whatever flour you like though.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup vegan butter
1 cup sucanat
1 egg replacer(I used 1 tablespoon chia seeds and 3 tablespoons water, mixed and left to sit for 5 minutes)
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 cups spelt flour
1 1/2 tsps cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips

With a hand mixer cream the vegan butter for a minute or two til smooth, then add in the sugar.

Cream together til smooth, add in the egg replacer, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.

Mix into the butter mixture til smooth. Add in chocolate chips.

Place in tablespoons onto cookie sheets, place in the fridge(if you're doing that step) for 30 minutes.

Set oven to 350, bake cookies for 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roasted Portobello Sandwiches

I've found that like seasons, I go through food phases. Right now I'm in a sandwich phase. A big one. A breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I'd-marry-a-sandwich if I could phase. I think I like them because you can make them as complicated or as simple as you like and they still taste good. There's enough variables to keep things interesting, and they go really good with soup(my other current winter food obsession).

Anything with the word portobello involved is probably something I want to eat, and when I saw portobellos at the grocery store as big as my face I knew what I had to do. Huge portobello mushrooms remind me of last summer when we'd have BBQs at midnight on Mondays just because we could. We'd go to Loblaws and find the biggest shrooms there, then coat them in olive oil and steak seasoning and BBQ them into deliciousness. Then I'd usually douse them in hot sauce which sounds strange but is weirdly delicious. Anything that reminds me of summer right now is okay with me!

I threw some roasted zucchini on there as well, cause the more roasted veg the happier I am. Avocado is super tasty in this as well, and maybe onions if you like those sort of things.

Roasted Portobello Sandwiches

1 ciabatta bun
1 Portobello(the biggest you can find)
Half a zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise
1 tsp and 2 tsps olive oil
salt and pepper
dried parsley
1/4 avocado sliced
handful of greens

Preheat oven to 400, destem the portobello and lay it gill side up in a pan. Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried parsley. Roast for 15 mins, or until soft(depending on the size of your mushroom).

Place zucchini in a pan, drizzle with 2 tsps olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley. Toss to coat and roast for 15, or until soft. Top with greens, mushroom, zucchini, and avocado and serve!

Slice bun in half and place under broiler for a minute, then cover one slice with hummus.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Copycat Protein Bars

My plans for blogging while travelling failed miserably, but I'm back now! In Australia and New  Zealand it's pretty slim pickings for vegans, but most of the places we stayed had kitchens. I mostly ended up just making simple stir fries most of the time with things I found at the grocery store, which doesn't necessarily make for the most exciting blogging.

It made me realize how many things I have in my life that I really don't need. Living out of a suitcase for 2 months will do that to a girl I guess. I loved Australia so much that I decided to move there. It's warm, there's beaches,  and the people are the nicest I've met anywhere. It was a pretty easy sell! I think  as a photographer(or any kind of artist I guess) you need to live where you're inspired, and I guess it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to find that in Toronto.

I also realized that in life you really can do absolutely anything you want, and go anywhere you want, the only thing that stops you from doing those things is yourself. Your excuses, and fears, and maybe a like for being comfortable where you are. I think the opportunities to push yourself and do things that scare you a little (or a lot) are the most rewarding, so I've decided to do more of them in 2013. Find bigger things that scare me, and try to do them to the best of my ability.

Anyhow back to food, while I was in New Zealand, I came across these super tasty protein bars from a brand called One Square Meal. The ingredient list wasn't the best(too many processed things for this girl), but I think when travelling(as a vegan) you sometimes have to stretch yourself ways you wouldn't ordinarily. I've been dreaming about them ever since I got back though, and since I've been hibernating due to the cold I've had lots of time to try to recreate them.

Copycat OSM Bars

2 cups quick cooking oats
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup agave
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1/3 cup hemp seeds
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon

In a bowl stir together oats, hemp seeds, cinnamon, salt and protein powder. In another bowl mix coconut oil, agave, chocolate chips. Mix the wet into the dry, and pour into a 9x12 pan lined with parchment paper. Press down firmly with your hands or a spatula, let set in the fridge for 30 minutes. Makes 8.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

A lot of good recipe stories begin with a bunch of bananas languishing on a counter. That's what happened in this case as well. I smushed the offenders up with some ground up almonds and oats, and these babies were born.

I once saw some graffiti on a wall that said "Oatmeal raisin cookies are the reason I have trust issues". I can relate. It's the worst when you're deliberating in front of a pile of cookies and you can't tell the difference between chocolate chip and raisin. I don't see why you have to choose though, just put them all into one cookie and your problem is solved. And I don't see why you need to stop at those, goji berries, chopped nuts, and hempseeds should also be invited to the party. Some is good, more is better, too much may be just enough.

If you're not feeling bananas, you could try pumpkin puree, or applesauce perhaps. Each banana is equal to about 1/2 cup. If your dough looks a little too wet though, try adding some more oats.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1 cup almonds
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons oat flour
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons chocolate/vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips
pinch of salt

Grind the almonds in a food processor so that it's almost flour texture, but still a little chunky.

Mix almond meal, oats, oat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, protein powder, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl combine bananas and vanilla, then mix into oat mixture. Add in chocolate chips and raisins, stir till combined. 

Bake on a cookie tray at 350 for 12-14 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies.