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Pumpkin Spice Loaf

13 Oct

Fall (and especially Thanksgiving) is the perfect time to cook with pumpkin. Everywhere you go, there’s pumpkin-flavoured something available. I found this fabulous recipe through Hillary, who regularly posts amazing looking (and sounding) recipes. This is very easy to make, and is a HUGE crowd-pleaser.

Pumpkin Spice Loaf

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 9×5 loaf pan.

In large bowl, whisk together sugars, eggs, oil, water, pumpkin and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, until top is lightly golden and toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

pumpkin loaf

I doubled the recipe so that we could have two loaves, and they turned out perfectly! I made them yesterday afternoon, and we’ve already gobbled down one of the loaves. We’re having our big family Thanksgiving meal this evening, and I’m sure the last loaf will be consumed as part of our dessert.

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Tomato Herb Soup

27 Sep

Now that it’s fall and the weather is getting cooler, I find myself making soups more often. This fabulous tomato soup is from one of my favourite food sites – Budget Bytes. There are so many incredible recipes to be found there, and a good number of them have become regular staples in my house. This soup is super quick and simple to make and is packed with flavour. An added bonus is that this is completely vegan – yay!

Tomato Herb Soup

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 10-15 cranks freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth

Mince the garlic and add it to a sauce pot, along with olive oil, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes and pepper. Turn the heat onto medium low and saute for about 2 minutes or until the garlic has softened.

Add tomato paste and brown sugar. Stir until everything is mixed (the oil will stay partially separated). Cook the mixture while stirring continuously for 3-5 minutes, or until it takes on a darker, almost burgundy hue.

Add crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth. Whisk the mixture together until smooth. Turn the heat up to medium and heat through, stirring occasionally.

tomato herb soup

I didn’t have any rosemary on hand, so I just added a little bit extra of all the other herbs. I also added a pinch of salt, and it tasted fabulous! The soup is VERY thick, so it’s the perfect consistency for marinara sauce. I have some fancy pasta that’s just begging to be used, and the leftover soup I have will be excellent to use with that.

Roasted Garlic Mushrooms

19 Sep

I love mushrooms. I’m surprised that I’m not sick of them yet, since I constantly seem to be putting them in a lot of the food that I eat. I recently found this very simple and quick recipe for roasted mushrooms that’s become a new favourite.

  • 16 mushrooms, stalks cut levelly
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly fry the mushrooms in hot oil for about 1 minute.

Arrange the mushrooms in a shallow roasting tin with the stalks facing upward.

Mix together the remaining ingredients and spoon a little of the mixture on top of each mushroom. I had some leftover, so I just filled the rest of the pan with the flavoured butter. Cook for 10 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked through and are a nice shade of brown. I took the pan out of the oven and spooned more of the butter over the mushrooms halfway through the cooking time.

mushrooms

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

1 Apr

I’ve had this recipe sitting in my “to make” file for for some time, and since it’s a holiday today and I have nothing pressing to do, I thought this would be a fabulous morning to try out a new recipe.

A friend posted a picture of this recipe on Facebook, but you can find the original here. I’ve converted the recipe over to Canadian measurements.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Filling:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, just melted
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pancakes:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

Prepare the cinnamon filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a zip baggie and set it aside. Make sure that the texture is similar to that of toothpaste when you’re ready to use it – it needs to be thick enough to make a solid swirl.

Prepare the glaze: In a small pan, heat the butter over low heat until melted. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until it is almost smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the pan, stir and add in vanilla extract. Set the pan aside while you make the pancakes.

Prepare the pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the milk, egg and oil, just until the batter is moistened (a few small lumps are fine).

*Or, if you’re feeling lazy like I was, using a pancake mix works perfectly fine*

Cook the pancakes: Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-heat and spray with nonstick spray. Use an ice cream scoop (or 1/3 cup measuring cup) to add the batter to the pan. Use the bottom of the scoop or cup to spread the batter into a circle. Reduce the heat to medium low. Snip the corner of your baggie of cinnamon filling and squeeze the filling into the open corner. When your pancake begins to form bubbles, add the filling. Squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl. Cook the pancake 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it’s golden brown on the bottom. Slide a spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling. Re-warm the glaze briefly, if needed. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of glaze.

cinnamon roll pancakes

*

Just a little note, from my experience. When the recipe says snip the corner, it should really just be the tip. Cut it VERY tiny, otherwise you won’t be able to get the desired swirl effect. For the first pancake I made, I accidentally cut the tip of the bag a bit too wide, and it was a total disaster:

whoops

Haha! Don’t get me wrong – it still tasted fabulous, but it didn’t look very pretty.

This is a perfect recipe to use at a brunch where you want to impress your friends or family, and it’s very simple to make! Just be forewarned that they are EXTREMELY sweet! I could barely get through two of these, so I’ll have plenty of leftovers for dessert or another breakfast.

Parmesan Hashbrown Cups

10 Feb

This recipe is so simple and quick to make, and very delicious. A friend of mine tweeted a link to this recipe the other week, and I knew I’d have to give it a try.

Parmesan Hashbrown Cups

  • 1 20 oz bag (or 2 1/2 cups) shredded potatoes
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Coat muffin tins with cooking spray. Combine potatoes, onions, cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss lightly with a fork. Drizzle on olive oil. Toss with fork again until mixture is well combined. Spoon evenly into each cup. With back of spoon, apply gentle pressure to pack mixture into each cup.

Bake in lower third of oven until golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes, run a small knife or spatula around the edge of each cup, making sure the edges are loosened and gently lift each potato cup out.

hashbrown cups

The original recipe said to bake for 60-75 minutes, which I thought was a bit excessive. My muffin tin has extra large cups, so I was able to fit everything into 6 cups instead of 12. I ended up keeping a close eye on these as they baked, and sure enough, they were done in about 35 minutes. Your oven may vary, so I suggest checking on them after 20 minutes or so.

I served these with a side of ketchup, and they were fabulously delicious!

Tortilla Soup

8 Dec

This recipe is from my new vegan cookbook. This tortilla soup is incredibly easy to make and amazingly delicious. The aromas in your kitchen will be pretty phenomenal as well! I had some down time today (a rarity in my world right now), so I made this soup for lunch.

  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups of canned diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced Spanish onions
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

 

  • Crushed tortilla chips (I used lime tortilla chips for an added kick of flavour)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, torn
  • 1/2 avocado, diced

Whisk the tomato paste with the soy milk in a medium stockpot until completely combined. Add the stock, tomatoes and their juices, chipotles, onions, celery, corn, garlic, chili powder and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Ladle into four serving bowls and garnish with crushed tortilla chips, cilantro and avocado.

bubbling away

*

finished product

I couldn’t find the chipotle peppers during the last few times I went grocery shopping, so I left that out. I’m sure they’d add a lot of great flavour if you can find them. Maybe I just wasn’t looking closely enough. 😉

In any case, this is the first recipe I’ve tried out of this cookbook, and I’m a huge fan. I have plenty of leftovers, and hopefully this will taste even better tomorrow!

On Cookbooks

4 Nov

I don’t remember when I got my first cookbook, but I know it was definitely in the late 80’s. It’s called Kids Cooking – A Very Slightly Messy Manual.

As you can see, it is VERY well loved. I can’t remember the last time I actually used this cookbook, since all the recipes are ridiculously simple and most of them aren’t interesting to me any more. However, the chocolate chip cookie recipe is to die for. I made those cookies ALL the time when I was a kid. I haven’t made cookies in a good 5-6 years, so maybe it’s time for me to consider baking again.

Over the years I’ve accumulated an interesting variety of cookbooks – some were bought because they were compilations that were sold as fundraisers, a few are the cookbooks filled with the recipes that are used at the retreat centre that my parents run, I have a few specialty ones (bread, crab/seafood, chicken, slow cooker), and a couple other really random ones.

In the last 2 years or so, I’ve changed my diet a fair bit. I now have a mainly vegan diet. I already limit my dairy intake due to my lactose intolerance, but meat is featuring less and less in my cooking these days. I rarely touch red meat because it’s never digested well, but these days I’ve begun limiting the amount of poultry I eat as well. I’ll never cut seafood out of my diet, so I’ll never be a true vegan, but it’s interesting to see how my eating habits have changed as I get older and learn more about food and cooking.

So, with these changes comes a desperate need for new recipes. I’ve found lots of great sites and recipes online, but there really is nothing like a good cookbook for inspiration. I recently got an Amazon gift card, so I decided to spend that on a shiny new vegan cookbook.

I saw this in a bookstore last year, and it was added to my wishlist immediately. There are so many amazing sounding recipes in this book, and I’m excited to share my discoveries with you over the next few months.

Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce

12 Aug

I have come to really enjoy gnocchi lately, and recently found this fabulous recipe for Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce. I’d seen reviews that the sauce was rather soupy and not very thick. However, I liked the fact that it has no dairy in it (aside from Parmesan, which is okay for a lactose-intolerant person like myself to eat, as it’s a dead culture). I figured I’d give it a try and see what it was like, and I could change things around if I liked it enough to make it again.

It definitely was almost soup-like, but that was okay with me. The taste was simple but excellent, and it’s definitely something I’ll be making again. I have a ton of leftovers, and I’m sure it will be great to have for lunch.

This recipe outlines how to make gnocchi yourself, but I’ll admit that I took the easy way out and bought a package instead, so I only had to boil them. I wonder if making them by scratch would make a difference in the consistency? I don’t have any truffle oil and it was way too expensive to justify purchasing, so I just skipped that entirely.

Gnocchi:

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 2 medium)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 7 Tablespoons (about) all purpose flour

Mushroom Sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 340 grams (12 oz) mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped arugula
  • 1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For gnocchi:

Preheat oven to 450F. Pierce potatoes with fork. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly; cut potatoes in half and scoop pulp into large bowl. Mash potatoes well. Mix in egg yolk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix in enough flour to form firm, slightly elastic dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Gently roll 1 portion between hands and work surface form 1/2 -inch thick rope about 18 inches long. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece over tines of dinner fork to make grooves in gnocchi. Arrange gnocchi in single layer on floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 3 portions of dough.

Working in small batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of boiling salted water until gnocchi rise to top and are tender, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to large baking pan. (Gnocchi can be prepared ahead. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days).

For mushroom sauce:

Cook butter and olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat until butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add stock and sage; simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add gnocchi to sauce in skillet and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Add arugula and stir until wilted. Divide equally among bowls. Drizzle with truffle oil, if desired. Sprinkle with cheese.

Just after adding the arugula

Served with Parmesan Cheese

This is a fantastic recipe, and I highly recommend giving it a try sometime. I will definitely be making it again, and next time I’ll attempt to make the gnocchi myself. 😉

Vegetarian Tortilla Lasagna

22 Jul

I found this recipe through my friend Natalie, and decided to try it out this weekend. I love Mexican food, I love veggies, and this dish sounded spectacular. I slightly tweaked my version, but you can find her original recipe here.

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 zucchini
  • 4-5 mushrooms
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Spices
    • Cumin
    • Cilantro
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Chili flakes
    • Taco seasoning (3/4 of one packet)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 can of refried beans
  • Flour tortillas
  • Grated cheese

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat oil in large skillet, add onions and cook until translucent. Chop the rest of the veggies, add to skillet and let sizzle for a while. Add spices, tomato paste, refried beans and simmer.

*

This may look disgusting, but trust me – it’s very good!

In a round casserole dish (or whatever shape yours is), lay down tortillas to cover the bottom, then top with the mixture. Keep adding layers of tortillas and veggies until the dish is filled. Sprinkle the top with cheese. You probably could add cheese throughout, if that appeals to you, but I didn’t even think about that until my dish was already full. Whoops!

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Serve with guacamole, salsa, sour cream or whatever else tastes good to you.

*

The flavour in this was excellent. The next time I make it, I’m going to add more mushrooms (just so the ratio of mushrooms to zucchini is a bit more even), taco seasoning and cilantro, and a bit less refried beans. It was pretty delicious, but those few modifications would make it even better.

Traditional Coleslaw

12 Jul

Now that summer has FINALLY arrived in the Fraser Valley, I thought I’d share one of my favourite things to make on those days when you just don’t feel like turning on your oven. Coleslaw is so fabulous, and while it may not be super healthy, it’s OH SO tasty!

This recipe is courtesy of my aunt, who’s the chef at a retreat centre on the Sunshine Coast called Barnabas. The original recipe serves 8-10, but I cut in half for my use. If you’re feeling even MORE lazy (like I am), I just buy a bag of pre-cut coleslaw from the grocery store and make the dressing myself. Easy peasy!

  • 1/4 head green cabbage
  • 1/4 head red cabbage
  • 2 1/2 carrots
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

In a food processor or by hand, thinly shred cabbages and carrots, and combine in a bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Pour enough dressing over the slaw to moisten. Add more if desired. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour or longer to allow the flavours to meld. Serve cold or at room temperature.

So colourful and delicious!