Thursday, December 16, 2010


Remember that time I tried my hand at making a Bánh mì without ever trying an authentic one? And how it was really good an all? But I still wasn't sure, 'cause I had never had a "real" one?
Well today I finally had an authentic one. And it was AMAZING. 
I was seriously loving every bite of this baby. The warm crunchy exterior of the bread gave way to soft warm fluffy white goodness, and nestled between that goodness was perfectly fried tofu, accompanied by crisp veggies with just the right amount of seasoning. Some kind of special sauce joined the party, and some mayo came along too. I added some hot sauce and more special sauce from the counter, and from there on it was sandwich heaven.
And it was only $3.64

The only downside, was that I may have spilled hot sauce all over my jacket since I had to walk and eat to meet a friend. And it was so worth it. 
And if I hadn't spent my last $4 in the world on this glory, I might be tempted to go downtown again and buy another. 
It's ok though. The shop I got it from is right by the library (a student's second home) so I foresee quite a few trips there in the future. 

So if you are ever in Vancouver, check it out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sometimes when you are a broke student, and find yourself constantly craving food from your favorite restaurant, but you have no money to spend, you figure out how to make yummy versions at home of your favorite meals. 

Which is what I did tonight. 

One of my favorite cuisines would have to be mexican. I love cooking it at home, and i love experiencing it at restaurants. I love that I have a friend from mexico who teaches me how to make the most delicious tacos you will ever meet in your life. 

Tonight was a simple dish, again inspired by my favorite brunch, though just the sides. This time I just went for the sides - beans, and roasted sweet potatoes.  

Pinto Beans:
olive oil
1 small can of pinto beans, drained, not rinsed.
1/2 white oniton
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 small can of green chili*
few tsp of  cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

heat the olive oil (about 1 tbsp) in a medium pan. Dice the onions and cook over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add the spices (cumin, paprika) and coat the onions. "deglaze" the pan by adding a bit of water, 2-3 tbsp should work. Don't add too much though!
Add the diced garlic and saute until fragrant. About a min. Add the beans and chili's and simmer over medium - low heat about 10 mins. 

*this could be replaced with jalapeno or chipotle peppers. Maybe just change up the qauntity a bit. (ie, reduce it if you don't like super spicy.)

I ate the beans over roasted sweet potatoes with some italian seasoning (since it had rosemary in it and I have no straight up rosemary), topped with jalepeno cheese, some salsa based off The Pioneer Woman's and half an avocado for good measure. 

Had I not botched a batch of cornbread last night, that would've made an appearance on my plate as well. Ah well. It's destined for croutons now

Make things extra special by eating this on one of the last summer nights on your balcony, even though it's already almost too cold to be out there even with a hoodie and sweats on. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Light Lemony Stir-Fry

Man alive, this was good! I wish I had a more eloquent way to put how much this sauce rocked my socks off, but sometimes all you can do is just say it was freakin' good

As I was making myself a stir fry for dinner I was lost as to what sauce i'd adorn my rice and veggies with. I couldn't make up my mind on what to do. Teriyaki? Spicy Peanut? Coconut Curry? While it's not even absolutely necessary to even have a sauce on a stir fry, it sure is nice to have. And while I was indecisive on what flavor of sauce I wanted, I just knew I wanted one.
Since it's finally summer I wanted something refreshing. Something lemony. I dabbled with just adding lemon juice and soy sauce to my veggies, but I knew that wouldn't do. I wanted more. And then it hit me-tahini! It'd add thickness and substance while still taking enough of a back seat to let the bright, fresh, lemon shine. 

This sauce is incredibly simple. Only 5 ingredients and all you need to do is stir. Perfect for when you are lazy but want something homemade and delicious without much effort. 

Lemon Pesto Tahini Sauce

1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice (+ zest of lemon if using fresh)
1 heaping tbsp basil pesto
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp red chili flakes (optional)
salt and pepper
fresh basil, to garnish if desired

Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together. Serve over rice, vegetables, or use as a salad dressing.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Excuse the bad lighting please, It was night time.

For years I have been wanting to try a Bánh mì, a Vietnamese sandwich. While there are tons of shops selling them around town, I had never purchased one before. (Even though they are usually cheap. (That's student life for ya.) So I figured i'd try my hand at whipping up a Bánh mì at home, all on my own.

I usually have this thing about trying something new in a restaruant first, to taste something authentic before I attempt my own (not  always authentic) version. But that can get expensive and inconvenient so I have been getting a little more adventurous lately. The ingridients are almost always on hand in my fridge. The buns were a special buy. They were nice and fresh and I couldn't pass them up at the store.
The buns are the furthest variation from a traditional Bánh mì, as a special Vietnamese french bread is typically used. This was a Portuguese bun, and it was still delicious.

Bánh mi
makes one

1/4 brick of extra frim tofu, pressed
2 tsp seasame oil, soy sauce
1 small carrot, grated
1/4 cup cabbage, grated
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2-3 sprigs of cilantro
finely sliced red onion
siraccha hot sauce (to taste)

Press the tofu and cut into slices. Fry in the sesame oil and soy sauce over medium heat until golden brown.
Grate the carrot and the cabbage and mix with soy sauce and vinegar. Set aside at least 5-10 mins.
To assemble the sandwhich, spread the bun with the mayo and a generous drizzle of siraccha, if desired. Add the cabbage carrot mixutre, cilantro, red onion, and tofu.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cilantro Lime Tofu

Ignore this hot mess of a photo. I made it later in the evening and all natural light was gone, and all my lamps suck.

So, I'm a "gleek". Hardcore. I live for Glee. I'm not ashamed it's the highlight of my week. It's quite possibly my favorite show of all time. And that's saying a lot coming from me. I LOVE my tv shows. I didn't think anything could ever top 30 Rock, or Arrested Development, or Freaks and Geeks, but then Glee came along. And week after week it blows me away. Yes, the story lines move faster then sand (is that even an expression? It is now. It's late and I just ate alphagetti, don't judge) but the stores are some real heart wrenchers. (See Wheels and Home.) If you haven't been living under a rock, then i'm sure you have heard of it. If you live above a rock, and aren't watching it, then what's wrong with you? *
*I am in no way endorsed by Glee, or Fox at all. I'm just a die-hard gleek. 

So what does glee have to do with tofu? I'm getting there. The other day I was reading an interview with  Lea Michelle, who plays Rachel Berry on Glee. In the article she mentioned a dinner she had, "Cilantro Lime Tofu on brown rice with Kale and Black Beans". I was instantly salivating. And not just because there was a picture of Cory Montieth with the article. Although that was a contributing factor.... 

ANYWAYS onto the recipe. Which is why i'm sure someone who is reading a food blog is after. As opposed to gushing over a tv show. I loved the sound of this dish. Lime is one of my favorite citrus fruits, and i'm always looking for more ways to use cilantro other than sprinkled in salads or in guacamole.
So I set to work on this a few days later, subbing the kale for broccoli and omitting the black beans because I forgot to prepare them. While dried beans are certainly cheaper, they are much less convenient. 

Cilantro Lime Tofu

1/2 brick of extra firm tofu, pressed 
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne 
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1-2 tbsp oil (for frying)

Cut the tofu. I made cubes but whatever strikes your fancy will work. Triangles could be fun. 
Finely chop the cilantro and mince the garlic. Add to the juice of one lime with zest, soy sauce, brown sugar, cumin and cayenne. 
Marinate the tofu in the mixture a few hours, or overnight for best flavor. Fry in oil on medium heat, until browned. Flip and continue to brown the other sides.  

Thursday, May 13, 2010

spicy tofu peanut salad

Summer is here. And summer is a time for cool, refreshing food to take centre stage. With only a few scraps of veg and 1/2 brick of tofu in my fridge I decided to take this theory in place for my dinner and make a cold salad instead of my usual stir fry. The tofu and veg were put into a cool spicy sweet thai inspired salad, wrapped up with some cabbage and crunchy romaine lettuce. Perfect summer time meal for lunch or dinner.

1/2 brick extra firm tofu, rinsed (and pressed if you have the time)
1/2 cup chopped vegetables (I used carrots, celery, and yellow pepper)


3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
juice of 1/2 lime, plus zest (or 1-2 tsp lemon juice)
1 tsp-1 tbsp sriracha (depending on how much you like spice, if you are wary start with only 1 tsp) red chili flakes to taste (see above)
1/4-1/2 cup hot water

I find the best way to combine all these ingredients is to find a small jar and act like The Cars and just Shake It Up. But whisking also works. Start by adding 1/4 cup hot water, then increase if the sauce is still too thick.

Crumble the tofu in a bowl with the chopped veg. And add the sauce and mix to combine. It's better if you let it sit a few hours, or even overnight for the tofu to absorb all the flavors.
But I won't judge if you devour it right away, like I totally did.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Classy Caprese

I love italian food. It would have to be tied with Indian as my favorite cuisine. One of the many reasons I love italian is because it's kind to vegetarians. Yes, Italians do love their meat, but there are plenty of pastas and salads without. 

The other night I got to go over to a friend's for her goodbye dinner. She had a room and board situation and her landlady is an Italian who loves to cook. My friend got to eat amazing Italian food for the year she was here. After tasting it first hand the other night, I am jealous. The menu featured pasta with fresh pesto, and gnocchi with borgonzola cheese sauce. I was in heaven.
The appetizers were caprese salad and prosciutto wrapped asparagus. Obviously I slid the prosciutto over to my friends plate and dived in to the caprese. One of my favorites. 
I love tomatoes, and cheese is the one reason I will never be 100% vegan for the rest of my life. So this salad is like heaven to me. And so easy to make. It's literally three ingridients.

Done. Instant deliciousness.
What really impressed me with this appetizer was it's presentation. The taste was something I knew and loved, but the way it was presented was something else. So on my weekly grocery trip this week I picked up some bocconcini and basil to accompany the tomatoes in my basket. 
What I love is that it looks so impressive but is really so easy. Perfect appetizer for a dinner party like I attended. But also perfect for a Wednesday afternoon lunch for just yourself. Because you deserve to eat pretty things even if you're all on your own and there is no one to impress but yourself. Why not work just as hard to impress yourself as you work to impress others? 
I personally spare no effort on my meals because I feel that I am worth it. It makes me sad to think that not everyone puts the care into a meal just for themself. 
But then again not everyone is a foodie with a food blog, who has to take a picture of something before they eat it. 

So if you want to make yourself feel special, all you do is slice the tomato across leaving some room at the bottom. Then stuff cheese in between those slices, top with some shredded basil, and a bit of olive oil. Balsamic is also a welcome addition in my books.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


vegetarain enchilada
I was so proud of my plating skils today!

Sometimes in the kitchen, you stumble upon magic.
Burritos are a favorite dish of mine to make, I'm surprised I haven't posted a recipe for them yet! They are easily vegetarian (or vegan!) and totally delicious. They also bode well for being a single girl because you can make a bunch and freeze them! (A deep freeze is a girls best friend! And so is a microwave, which I currently don't've got to re-heat those things somehow....)
And so that's what I was doing last night. I whipped up a batch of burritos with a black bean, corn, celery, and bell pepper filling. I wraped them in a flour tortilla with some lettuce, cheese, and fresh salsa.

I got lucky with the camera today, I am so obsessed with this photo.

It was goooood. I wrapped up a few for later with just the filling, and stuck them in the fridge. Today when I got home I was going to eat the burrito like I did last night, but then a voice spoke in my head. Enchiladaaaaa. It said. And then I knew what I had to do. I had never made enchiladas before, but I had eaten them. I wasn't afraid.
I set to work by whipping out a burrito from last night and throwing it in a little loaf pan (which was the exact perfect size!). Step one, done. Then I had to figure out a sauce. I just got back from a study session at the library, so I was feeling hungry and lazy. I opted to just blend some salsa in my magic bullet and add a dash of cumin for the sauce. Once that was done I poured it over the burrito, threw on some cheese and after 10 mins in the oven, I had an amazing meal before me.

This is an easy peasy way to make enchiladas. I think I know what to do with all my left over burritos now...

Black Bean Enchiladas
makes 4

the filling:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 can of black beans, rinsed well
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 orange pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1/4 cup frozen corn
salt & pepper
1-2 tbsp salsa

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion, celery, and garlic. Allow to just soften, then add the peppers with some salt and pepper. Cook a few mins until the peppers are almost soft. Add the beans, corn, and salsa. Simmer until corn is cooked.

Wrap the filling in a tortilla. To make an enchilada, place in a pan then cover with sauce. (For one enchilada, I used 1/3 cup of salsa, blended.) Cover with cheese, and cook at 350 for 10 mins until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown on the sides.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mango Lassi

I love, love, love, Indian food. Mostly for the obvious reason that there is a plethora of vegetarian options, as outlined in The Office episode, Diwali.

Angela: I'm vegetarian, what can I eat?
Buffet server: It's all vegetarian
Angela: I'll just have some bread.

And all this vegetarian food happens to be incredibly delicious. And the naan bread! Well, that is simply downright perfection.
My favorite place to go for Indian is in my hometown of Edmonton, at  New Asian Village. I first discovered it a few years back when a friend and I stopped in for a small bite, and ordered the vegetable  pakoras. They were divine, and we even got to sit in one of the Maharaja rooms! The room alone was an experience. It felt like we had stepped into The Darjeeling Limited.
After this discovery, I went back whenever I could, it's even where I had my last (18th) birthday in Edmonton. I always make a point to go back there whenever i'm home for a visit.

Another reason I love going out for Indian food (other than the naan, a plethora of vegetarian options, and even cool tent rooms to eat in), is the mango lassi. Smooth, creamy, and sweet, it has the power to quench any heat brought on your senses by the peppers and curry of this exotic cuisine. Up until now I never knew how to make it at home, I always thought it tasted so special that it was something you could only get in a restaurant. Now I know better.

All you need is:
a blending mechanism
(and some milk if you want)

Seriously, why haven't I been making these for years?! Whole Foods had a deal on ataulfo mangoes (my favorite fruit!) the other day for only $1 a piece. So I stocked up. While I adore eating them plain, (they are so much sweeter and juicier and more flavorful than the other kinds of mango!) they worked great in this lassi.
So now that i've discovered the secret, it's time for you to as well. Next time you whip up a spicy chickpea curry, make sure to include a lassi on the side.

Mango Lassi
1 mango, cubed
1-2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup plain yougurt
1/4 cup ice
milk (optional)

Peel and cube the mango and add sugar, to taste. Let sit until the sugar is dissolved and a syrup as formed. Add to a blender with yogurt and ice. Blend until smooth. If the smoothie is too thick, add milk.

All I had was greek yogurt, so I needed the milk to thin it out a bit.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chickpea Stuffed Avocados

I'm a student, living in one of the most expensive cities in Canada. I'm currently unemployed, and I can't seem to get a job here. Needless to say, I am on a tight budget. I've started shopping at Walmart (a place I used to shun) since stuff actually is really, really cheap there! Like Avocados. These wonders were only 57 cents each. That's just insane! Never in my life have I seen avocados that cheap. Even at the local fruit and veg markets, where I buy most of my produce for good deals. (Like a bag of 2 dozen overripe bananas for $1!) While not everything was cheaper at Walmart, there were some good deals to be had, and I just had to pick up some 57 cent avocados.

They're all perfectly ripe now, and i've been trying to find new ways to eat them. (Since I got crazy and bought 5.) But I didn't want to eat guacamole for days on end. Usually I put them on sandwiches, or in salads, or just eat them mashed on toast. But my kitchen is pretty bare bones right now -all I have are avocados and canned goods, so I had to think up a new way where I could use up what ingredients I had with the avocados.

Then came to mind a recipe I saw a while back, on Poor Girl Eats Well for Tuna Stuffed Avocados. As soon as I remembered that, I knew what I was having for lunch today.
Since I don't eat tuna (or any fish) I decided to use the classic vegetarian substitute- chickpeas! Just a quick mash, a few spices thrown in, and I had lunch.

Chickpea Stuffed Avocados
serves one

1/2 can chickpeas
1 small green onion, sliced finely
1/2 tbsp mayo type dressing, or olive oil, or even hummus
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp mrs. dash

1 avocado

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

In a small bowl, roughly mash chickpeas while leaving some whole. Add the miracle whip or olive oil, and spices. Mix to combine.
Cut an avocado in half, remove pit. If it's a small pit, scoop out some avocado (which you can then add to the chickpea salad),  to form a small bowl with each half. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving. (Optional, but I threw some on there after the photo was taken, and it gave it a nice kick.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

And I ate eggs, and they were good.

As far back as I can recall, I have always hated eggs.
My earliest memory of hating eggs would be whenever my parents would make scrambled eggs. I'd cry and scream and beg them to stop. I hated the smell, and the idea of having to eat what was making the smell. I would usually run and hide in my room until the eggs were gone.
Over the past few years, i've been trying to change this. Try to start eating eggs so I can reap the health benefits. First it started out with a few nibbles when a friend or family member would eat eggs. I'd take a small bite, trying not to think about what I was doing too much, i'd manage to swallow it, and then that  would be enough. After that I progressed into braving a tomato feta quiche a friend of mine had made, and I liked it! But I decided it would be a one time occurance, and didn't make eating eggs a habit. A year or so later, I got brave again and made a veggie omelette - and what do you know, that felt okay too. Yet for some reason, I still couldn't get past my childhood apprehension towards eggs.

I decided to try and counquer the egg phobia again today. I've recently been informed by my doctor that i'm vitamin B12 deficient, and that I should try to get some more sources of B12 in my diet. As a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I previously avoided meat and all dairy (other than cheese and yogurt). I drink fortified soy milk to get B12, but it must not be doing it's job very well because i'm pretty low in it. So I decided to try eggs once again.

I remembered a recipe I had seen on The Amatuer Gourmet , a recipe called "Eggs Adam Roberts" - scrambled eggs with jalapenos. The sound of them seemed just right, so today I set to work. Plus, my last name happens to be Roberts so I took that as a good sign. ;)

And now i'm converted. I LOVED THESE EGGS. I had no idea I could feel this way, that I could actually enjoy scrambled eggs! There was no smell like I had remembered suffering through in my child hood! and the texture wasn't at all repulsive! Not runny and chewy somehow at the same time. They were light, and fluffy, yet still held their own. I am in LOVE LOVE LOVE with these eggs.

So what does this mean? All I really know is that I love this recipe for eggs. And now I can start to see that they might not be so bad after all. For now, I know I can handle scrambled eggs, and i'm sure i'll like omelettes and quiches, too.
The next hurdle: poached egg. Nothing scares me more than a runny yolk. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pancake Failure

I have a foodie confession.
Maple Honey Apples on Pancakes
I cannot, for the life of me, make pancakes from scratch. I've tried at least 20 recipes in the last two years and not one of them has worked! I cannot fathom why. While I almost never stick to a recipe, when making pancakes I always do, or I make minimal substitutions. Yet for some reason, they never turn out. My affliction is so bad that I wasn't even able to make pancakes from a box until my roommate taught me. And even then, mine never turn out as good as when somebody else makes them... so needless to say pancakes are not something I ever make for myself.

This issue of my pancakes always being a flop (pun very much intended) came up today when I pulled out my Nov/Dec 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times, my most revered issue because it features an article on how to "Eat to Beat Colds and Flu". So whenever I am sick (like I currently am) I whip it out and make the mixed vegetable masala, my favorite featured dish, which does wonders for a sore through and clears out the sinuses. Oh, and it tastes great to.
But during this current bout of sickness i've been dealing with, I decided to try something new and make the Pumpkin Pancakes with Honey Raspberry Syrup. I followed the recipe perfectly- only replacing the eggs with bananas and the result was horrendus. Not that it's VT's fault. Every recipe I try from them turns out great. I am just cursed when it comes to pancakes.

So I gave up and reached for a box of Aunt Jemima where all you need to do is add water. And yes, they  still did not turn out great. Although they were eatable, unlike the pumpkin pancakes. I take what I can get.

What did turn out well though, was the honey apple maple topping to adorn my pancakes. I took inspiration from the raspberry syrup recipe featured along with VT's pumpkin pancakes, only I used an apple because I didn't have any frozen raspberries. I'm not a huge fan of straight up honey, but it's good way to boost immunity, so I wanted to include it in my meal somehow. I ended up adding some maple syrup to the mix so the honey flavor wouldn't be too strong. If you really like the tate of honey, omit the maple all together.

Maple Honey Apple Topping

Apple Maple Honey Topping

1 large apple (I used red delicious), cored and diced
1 tbsp margarine or butter
1/8-1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of honey

In a small saucepan, heat the butter or margarine. Add the apple and cinnamon and cook 3-5 mins until the apples are soft. Add the maple syrup* and the honey and simmer another few mins.

*If you really like honey, you can omit the maple. If your not such a big fan, use more maple syrup to balance out the flavors.

If honey or maple syrup both aren't your thing, this would also work well with agave nectar.
This topping would work great in crepes, waffles, or on ice cream!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tabouleh Two Ways

Cous Cous Tabouleh

And Hippie!
Hippie Tabouleh

Yesterday I woke up to a true horror in my kitchen. I was all out of Silk! All of a sudden breakfast seemed so difficult, near impossible. The lack of soy milk rendered by usual standby's of smoothies or cereal out, and I had no tofu for a scramble. And it just wasn't an oatmeal kind of morning.
In order to rectify the situation, I ran out to the grocery store. Once at the store, I actually ended up buying almond milk instead of my usual soy, because I was just feeling crazy! No complaints here though, the almond milk was cheaper than silk and tasted great in my banana-strawberry-date smoothie. Haven't tried it in my cereal yet though...

While I was at the store I also noticed fresh organic mint was on sale for $1, where as it's usually at $2.79. Not wanting to pass up the deal, I thought of what I could do with a bundle of fresh mint. Topping a fruit salad with fresh mint is divine, but it was another salad that sprung to mind; Tabouleh - a Lebanese salad made with fresh mint, fresh parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. I knew I had a cucumber in my fridge and tomatoes on my counter and even left over cous cous in my fridge. And that was that, I knew this was fate telling me to make tabouleh. Even though I had never actually made it before, I'd just ordered it several times at restaurants- which I now see is ridiculous because of how incredibly simple it is to make!

Tabouleh is traditionally made with bulgar wheat, but I used cous cous which works just as well. I also made a version with some left over quinoa, which also worked wonders. With both versions, letting the salads sit in the fridge for at least two hours is best, so that all the flavors can mingle.

Cous Cous Tabouleh

Basic Tabouleh Dressing
serves two as a main.

3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey or agave
pinch of salt
lots of black pepper
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, chopped
3 tbsp fresh chopped mint, chopped

In a small bowl whisk together ingredients to combine.
For a traditional salad, mix with 1 cup of cous cous, 1/4 of a cucumber, diced, and 6 baby tomatoes, chopped and some finely diced red onion. I also added some feta.


In the quinoa version, I decided to throw in all the vegetables I had in my fridge into the salad as well, which is part of why I fondly refer to such version as "hippie tabouleh". (Go hippies!) I mean,  it's got quinoa - total hippie grain - and a pleothora of veg. But non hippies can enjoy it as well!

Hippie Tabouleh

Hippie Tabouleh
Toss basic tabouleh dressing with quinoa, diced carrots, cucumber, peppers, and some diced apple* and raisins for some sweetness. Any or all of these can be replaced with whatever vegetables you have on hand!

*If adding apples to salad, toss diced apple in 1 tsp in lemon juice prior to mixing in the salad to prevent browning.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Best ever granola bars

Homemade granola bar
(I just love my new old plate I got at the thrift store the other day!) 

For a few years now,  I have been searching for the perfect homemade granola bar. When I first started my search, It was met with some failures. The first recipe I tried came out way too crunchy. It also called for eggs, which I try to avoid when possible as they freak me out. Then I tried this recipe and It was pretty good...more akin to the chewy store bought granola bars I favor. But it was not quite perfect. After that I kind of just gave up and went back to buying my bars. 

But after seeing this post on Smitten Kitchen, I decided to try making them again. Most of the motivation being that I had nothing to bring to snack on at school for the upcoming week. Another big factor was that by making granola bars myself, I can save money, (music to a student's ears!) and I have control of all the ingredients. Now i'm not eating any weird substances that I can't pronounce and make me wish I was better in science. 

This recipe is also super flexible. I'm sure i'll be making it again and again, trying out the endless combinations. 

Granola bars
(adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen.)

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup almond butter or another nut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the dry ingredients (including nuts, fruit, and chocolate) in a bowl and set aside. 
Whisk the wet ingredients together and combine into the dry. 
Line a pan with parchment paper (otherwise you won't get them out of the pan!) and press granola mixture firmly into the pan. The size/shape of pan will determine what kind of bars you get. Keep this in mind when deciding on which pan to use. (I used a small rectangle pan that I'm not sure of the measurements...)
Bake for 30 mins until the edges are cooked. My oven is crazy hot and at only 325 they were done in 20 mins! Allow to cool on the counter for 20 mins, then transfer to the fridge and let cool further. I left mine overnight and they were a dream to cut in the morning. Store in the fridge to maintain structure. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Vegan Brunch

new take on tofu scramble

This brunch was inspired by one of my favorite places to eat, Bandidas Taqueria. Every time I hit it up for brunch I get a vegan benny, which is made with tofu and butternut squash. Like a scramble. It seemed a weird combination to me at first, and wasn't sure how i'd like it, but it's been love since I first tried it almost a year ago.

I've been meaning to try my hand at the combination myself for some time, and since I had tofu and butternut squash, today seemed like the right day to go for it. I served it over home fries and steamed kale and the result was a delicious brunch.
Next time I plan on making some cornbread and making sure I have some good fresh salsa to make it even more like a delicious Bandidas' benny.
As I didn't have any salsa, I threw some diced tomato on top. My kitchen is kind of sad right now.

new take on tofu scramble

Tofu "benny" scramble
Serves one as a big brunch.

1/2 baby butternut squash, or 1/4 cup cubed squash
1/4 brick of tofu (I had extra firm. Firm or medium firm would also work.)
1/2 small white onion
1 tbsp olive oil
splash of soy sauce (1 tbsp?)
splash of rice vinegar (1 tbsp?)
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2-3 tsp mrs.dash
dash of seasoning salt
generous grinding of black pepper
1 tsp itlalian seasoning
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper

In a small pot, add the squash and add water until it's just covering the squash. Boil on medium heat until squash is fork tender, about 5-10 mins. Set aside.

Chop the onion, and simmer in a pan with olive oil. Add tofu until most of the water has cooked out. Add the soy sauce and vinegar. Stir until liquid has dissolved. Add the vegetable stock and stir until almost completely absorbed. Add the spices and stir until liquid is gone. Add the butternut squash and incorporate.

Serve over home fries, cornbread, english muffins, or fly it solo in all it's own glory.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tofu Florentine

tofu benedict

While I haven't been a vegetarian my whole life, and was raised a meat eater (though I use that term lightly, as I tried my best to never have to actually eat meat as a child), I have almost never eaten straight eggs. I don't mind them when they're hidden away in baked goods, but I always hated eggs on their own. The sulfur smell they gave off when my parents would scramble them used to make me cry. I recall on one occasion my parents forced me to take a bite, and I hated it's squishy, slimy, spongy texture. From that day on, I never let that mistake happen again. Though over the years i've tried to get brave,  and i've nibbled on friends scrambled eggs or omlettes from time to time, I still just can't get into eggs. Which I'm okay with. Because who needs eggs when you have tofu?!
I've been a lover of tofu scramble for a long time. But i've never tried another tofu'd take on an egg dish (eggs florentine and/or benedict) until this fall. The recipe I used then advised to use some vegenaise with spices added to it for the hollandaise sauce; traditionally made with eggs and butter. While I loved the lightly spiced tofu on a crisp english muffin with spinach and tomatoes, I thought the sauce that consisted purely of vegenaise weird and didn't get why this was a dish worth veganizing.

Today I tried a different recipe. Now I understand.
While I haven't ever had real benedict, and have most certainly never had the desire to, I don't ever need to worry about trying the egg version because this recipe is too good to question!

I slightly adapted this recipe from "Being Vegan and Getting Away With It".

tofu benedict

Tofu Florentine:

for the tofu:
3 slices extra firm tofu, drained
splash of soy sauce & rice vinegar

sprinkle the soy sauce and vinegar on to each side of the tofu. fry on medium heat until browned. set aside.

for the sauce:
3 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp curry powder blend (or plain tumeric, curry mix was all I had)
1 tbsp dijion mustard
2 tsp mrs. dash garlic seasoning
dash of salt & pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp parmesean cheese (use nutritional yeast to make this vegan. I didn't have any on hand so i used parm.)
1 tbsp mayo substitute (use vegenaise to make it vegan! I am out and only have mayo in my fridge.)

Heat the margarine in a small pot over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly. Heat for 1 min. Add the soymilk slowly, whisking constantly. Add the spices, mustard, lemon juice, parmeasean, and mayo. Whisk until incorporated.

Now all you have to do to serve is layer a toasted english muffin with slices of tomato, some sautee'd spinach (I sadly did not have any on hand) and then layer on the tofu, then drizzle with sauce.
Sooo good.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Food Goals

I don't believe in new years resolutions. Why only make a positive change at the start of the year? Why not aspire to continually change and improve upon things throughout the year instead?

With that said, this is not a list of resolutions.
It is simply put, a list of food things I'd like to take a swing at sometime in the near future.

-Go raw for at least a week.
I've been admiring the raw style of eating for a while now. But I love to bake and eat cooked foods too much to live a completely raw lifestyle. I'd like to try to be 100% raw just one week. See if I can make it. See how I feel. This will be sometime in the summer when fruits and veg are fresh, plentiful, and cheap!

-Make risotto.
The last time I made risotto I was still in high school. Why do I not make it more often? It's delicious and not that hard!

-Try making bagels, again.
I tried (and semi-failed) at making bagels this summer. The the texture was off, but not too horrible in the taste department. I'd like to try it again and see how I can improve.

-Pick fresh fruits. 
I live in B.C., which grows a bevy of delicious fruits in the summer months. Since I have a car, and I'm just a short road trip from the interior, this year I am determined to take a drive and pick plenty of peaches! I also want to do some berry picking locally. It's something I used to do when I lived in Edmonton, and I would love to go this year around Vancouver.

-Join a CSA.
CSA or, "Community Supported Agriculture" is something i've admired over the years. Since I live off mostly vegetables (and pasta....just saying...) joining  a CSA makes a lot of sense. Fresh local vegetables every week? Im in! Hopefully I can secure a spot this year!

-Make seitan.
It's not something I eat often, but when I do I really enjoy "wheat meat". I'm looking forward to the challenge of making some on my own!

That's all I've got for now. I'm sure i'll think up more once I get these done.

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's a miracle!

toast and a scramble

When i'm in school, I need a pretty good motivation to get myself out of bed. Knowing I have a day full of feeling stupid just isn't enough sometimes. Scrambled tofu usually is.
This morning as I embarked on my tofu scramble, I realized that my vegetable supply is pretty low. My usual scramble standards (mushrooms, zucchini) were not to be seen, and only a little sliver of green pepper (another standard) remained in my crisper. The prospect of a scramble with just green pepper made me sad, so I decided to get daring and throw in a vegetable I had never thought of scrambling before. Broccoli. (Carrot and cauliflower seemed a little too crazy this morning. Maybe next time...)
The resulting scramble was delicious, and i'm happy to report that broccoli may just become a regular in my scrambles from now on. I usually have it on hand and it adds a really nice texture.

If you still aren't convincced why you should scramble up some broccoli, read all about why it's a miracle.

If you need a scramble recipe, here is my preferred method.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chickpea Lettuce Wraps

Chickpea Lettuce Wraps

This salad is often referred to as a mock tuna salad, or mock chicken salad. Since i've never eaten tuna salad or  chicken salad (I always hated tuna and didn't find chicken salad all that appetizing...) I can't really say if that's true. I can say, that this salad is delicious. It's easy to make, and pretty healthy too. It's one of my favorite staples. This salad can be enjoyed on it's own, served in a pita, or on some large romaine lettuce leaves like here. It's so easy, delicious, filling and healthy.  I just love it.

Chickpea Salad
(makes enough for 4 large lettuce wraps)
Chickpea Lettuce Wraps

1 small can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed well!
2 tbsp miracle whip (or mayo, or veganease if you wanna be vegan)
2 tsp dijion mustard
1 tsp white vinegar
3 tsp dried dill
1/4 cucumber, diced
1-2 celery stalks, diced
2 sprigs of green onion, chopped.
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp mrs.dash
1 tsp paprika, red chili flakes (optional)

Combine the mayo, mustard, and vinegar in a bowl. Wash the chickpeas andd pat to dry. You can chop them up a bit, or leave them whole. I like to give them a course chop so you get more variety with every bite. Chop the rest of ingredients and combine them all together.  Add spices and seasonings.
Serve on a big leaf of lettuce or in a pita. Or just in a bowl.

Other add-ins:
red onion instead of green
diced pickles
grated carrot
finely chopped radish

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I can't believe it's tofu!

chocolate tofu dessert

I just discovered how to make the easiest and most delicious dessert ever. How easy? To ingredients easy. How delicious? Rich, luscious, cool, chocolatey deliciousness, delicious.'s healthy!
Afterall, it's made of tofu! (And tofu is healthy, ergo, this is a healthy dessert. That's my logic and i'm sticking to it.)

I had first seen this idea on an episode of Chef at Home years ago. It sounded good, but this was back when I was new to tofu and still learning how to love it. I kept in the back of my brain though, because the recipe sounded too good (hello it involves chocolate) and easy (two ingridents!) to ignore.

Flash forward to last week, when I mistakingly bought silken tofu instead of the regular ol'extra firm I usually buy. Cut to me trying to make a tofu scramble the next morning and realizing this would not at all work. Apparently my mind doesn't register the giant scripted word spelling out "SILKEN" on a box of tofu until i've already opened it, and started at the slinky white brick before me for a couple mins, only to then dig the package out of the garbage and yell "Ah, shark farts! It's silken!" (I just stared college, ok? My brain is a little spent. Yes, it's only been one week. I fear of what is to come..)
So off it went to sit in my fridge for a few days, until I decided I should figure out a way to use it up. (As I mentioned, I am a student again which means NO MONEY. I'm not wasting $3 worth of tofu!) That was when I remembered that episode of chef at home from years back, and set to work.

All you do is melt chocolate, blend some tofu, combine, let chill, and there it is: dessert! And it's healthy since tofu is healthy, and dark chocolate has antioxidants and is also good for you! (At least that's what i'm telling myself.)

This came out pretty thick, so thick it would make a lovely pie filling. Maybe using a less firm silken tofu would yield more of a pudding like dessert next time? Or just keep the firm silken tofu and throw it in a pie shell with some fresh strawberries/raspberries/banana on top. That's what i'm doing next time!
(In my defense, the ambiguity of this desserts' potential is also the reason i've given it such a creative name.)

Chocolate Tofu Dessert
Serves two. 
chocolate tofu dessert

1 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of dark and milk chocolate)
1 cup firm silken tofu
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 tsp sweetener- honey, agave, sugar, etc.(optional)

 Blend the tofu and set aside. Add sweetener if desired.
 Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. When the chocolate is completely melted, mix with the tofu and vanilla. Measure mixture into cups, bowls, or even a pie shell. 
Chill for a few hours or overnight. Serve cold.

This recipe can easily be doubled, quadrupled, or halved. Just make sure the chocolate and tofu are equal parts.