Blueberry banana muffins with a surprise inside

jammy muffin

I had some waaaaay overripe bananas to use up but was too impatient to make banana bread – that takes 45 minutes to bake in the oven. So, instead I opted to make mini muffins. These little cuties are moist and delicious and nutritious thanks to chickpea flour, bananas, blueberries and walnuts. I put a little jam centre in some of them for an extra gooey, delicious surprise. Best of all, these muffins are super easy to make. Like right now. Make them now.

 

open jammy muffin

 

Jammy!

 

Dry ingredients

2/3 cup flour (whole wheat or white)

1/3 cup chickpea flour (if you don’t have this, you can just use a full cup of flour)

½ cup cornmeal

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup blueberries tossed with 1-2 tsp flour to coat them. The flour coating stops the blueberries from leaking blue in the batter.

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Wet ingredients

2 very ripe bananas mashed

¼ cup coconut oil melted

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup agave nectar

1 cup plant-based milk (I used almond milk)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

 Optional – raspberry, cherry, strawberry or other flavour jam

 

open muffin no jam

I made some of the muffins without jam and they were still moist and delicious.

 

 Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Grease a mini-muffin tin, a regular muffin tin or a loaf pan. This recipe will make 18 mini-muffins, 6-12 regular muffins (depending on the tin size) or one loaf.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Sift in the baking soda so you don’t have any weird crystal lumps in your final mix.

In a separate bowl, mix all your wet ingredients EXCEPT the jam, if using.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to incorporate everything and make a batter. You don’t need to stir a lot or vigorously – just combine everything.

If you’re going with a jam-less muffin, at this point you can simply fill your baking pan. Don’t overfill the tins since the muffins will puff up.

If you’re going to add jam, fill your muffin tins just half way full. Then add a dollop of jam – a true measured teaspoon full. Cover with batter so the jam is hidden inside.

If you are making a loaf, then fill the loaf pan with half the batter. Spoon on jam in a strip down the middle of the batter and cover with the remaining batter.

Depending on the size and shape of your pans, here are your baking times.

Mini-muffins – 25 minutes

Regular muffins – 25-30 minutes

Bread loaf – 45-50 minutes.

The muffins are done when they are golden on top and a fork or toothpick inserted in them comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool in their pan for 10 minutes or so and then serve them up! These beauties also freeze well and make great snacks or breakfast on the go.

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Curried rice and lentil salad with grapes and celery

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If the Waldorf-Astoria merged with the Best Marigold Hotel, this would be the new hotel’s signature dish. This salad, which eats as a meal, combines flavourful Indian spices, the crunch of celery, the sweetness of grapes and the staying power of lentils and rice. It’s also an easy dish to make that will last for 3-4 days in the fridge and travels well, which makes it great for toting for lunches, picnics or pot lucks.

Ingredients

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The salad

2 ½ cups cooked brown rice (that’s about 1 cup uncooked)

1 cup of cooked du Puy or beluga (a/k/a black) lentils (about ½ cup uncooked)

2 green onions sliced

2 stalks of celery sliced

1 ½ cups red grapes cut in half

¼ cup slivered almonds toasted*

The dressing

The juice of 1 lemon

4 Tbsp canola or peanut oil**

1 Tbsp curry powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric

3 – 4 cloves garlic minced

¾ tsp ground ginger

¾ tsp salt

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Directions

Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a cup or small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss everything thoroughly to combine. I like this salad after it’s had time to sit and the flavours can marry. I usually make it in the morning for lunch.

Serve up and enjoy!  This makes 3-4 servings.

*To toast the almonds, place them on a small cookie sheet or other heat-proof dish (I used a miniature casserole dish). Place the almonds in the oven (To save power, I use my toaster oven.) at 400F for 3-4 minutes. Seriously keep your eye on them! They can burn in a flash. Remove the almonds from the oven as soon as they are toasted or they’ll keep cooking.

**Use an oil that is flavourless and will not go solid (like virgin coconut oil does). I tried this salad with melted coconut oil once and the minute the oil got cold, I was left with unappetizing mini-chunks of “oil” throughout the salad.

Isa’s Goddess Pasta a/k/a Tahini Linguini

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I think I have a girl crush on Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Or I should say a goddess crush because she is a kitchen goddess extraordinaire. Every recipe of hers that I’ve tried, I’ve loved. Here’s the latest – Goddess Pasta or as I am calling it, tahini linguini because if that not the name of a new Muppet, I don’t know what is.

Anyway… about this recipe. Isa promises it’s so ridiculously easy that she almost left it out of her cookbook, “Isa Does it”.  I’m glad she didn’t. This recipe IS(a) fast and easy. And despite what I thought was a lot of garlic and green onion (or chives), the dish is mild yet flavourful and creamy, crunchy and satisfying. I ate this dish hot, but I think it would even be great cold. So, without further ado, here’s how I made Isa’s Goddess Pasta. If you want to make it the way Isa does it, buy the book!

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Ingredients

12 oz linguini

The juice of 1 lemon

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (a 15 ounce can)

1 bunch broccoli cut into bite sized pieces. I also peeled the stem and sliced it up.

3-4 spring onions chopped finely

4 cloves garlic minced

2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt (I don’t salt my pasta water)

A few grinds of pepper

½ to 2/3 cup tahini (I didn’t measure exactly!)

½ cup hot water (I used the water from the boiling pasta)

1 Tbsp olive oil

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Directions

Boil the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is boiling, prep the sauce and other ingredients.

In a large bowl, blend together the green onion, lemon juice, salt, tahini, nutritional yeast, hot water and ground pepper. You will have a thickly creamy dressing. If the dressing is too thick, add more water.

In a large wok or frying pan, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil and sauté the garlic until it’s golden. Add the garlic to the sauce mixture.

Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and heat. Add the broccoli and stir fry until the broccoli is bright green but still very crunchy.  Add the broccoli to the sauce mixture and add the chickpeas.

Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Toss everything to combine and serve up. Enjoy!

This recipe makes 4 servings.

p.s. I think next time I may even add some shredded carrot and julienned red pepper for extra colour.

 

 

 

Easy vegan, almond-almond cookies

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I recently bought “Isa does it” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz – it’s a recipe book chockablock full of delicious, doable vegan recipes. One of the first that I tried was her lemon-lemon cookies. They’re pretty much like crack. It’s impossible not to eat them all immediately and then crave another batch.

But I also happen to love almonds so I wanted to see if I could recreate Isa’s lemon-lemon cookies but with an almond flavour. And yup, I did it. These cookies are rich, nutty, chewy, crunchy and just as addictive as the lemon-y originals And, because there’s no lemon rind grating involved, these cookies are kinder on my knuckles too.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients

For the cookies

½ cup coconut oil melted

¾ cup white sugar

3 Tbsp almond flour– toasted*

½ tsp almond extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp almond milk

1 ½ cups flour

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp cornstarch

For the icing

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract

½ Tbsp melted margarine

1 Tbsp almond milk

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Direction

*To toast the almond flour, place it on a small cookie sheet or other heat-proof dish (I used a miniature casserole dish). Place the flour in the oven at 400F for two minutes max. Not kidding – not one minute longer or it will burn! Remove immediately.

I have a toaster oven so I toasted the almond flour in the toaster oven. If you used your regular oven, turn the heat down on the oven to 350F. You may need to leave the oven door open for a minute to get the heat to drop.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the sugar, coconut oil, almond extract, vanilla extract, and almond milk together until they are combined. Add the toasted almond flour and stir to combine. Sift in the cornstarch and baking powder and then add the flour and stir to combine.

Use a teaspoon to drop the cookie dough in mounds onto the cookie sheet. You can use the back of the spoon or your fingers to flatten the cookies down slightly. I can get 15 cookies from this recipe.

Bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges of the cookies are golden.

Let the cookies cool completely on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a plate or cooling rack so you can drizzle on the icing.

To make the icing, combine all the icing ingredients in a small bowl or cup. The icing will be drizzly. Use a spoon to pour over the cookies, and while the icing is still wet, sprinkle on any garnish you might want or leave plain.

Let the icing set and serve up! Enjoy.

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It’s been a stormy, icy weekend here and almond-almond cookies, a good book and some kitty snuggles made it really quite perfect.

Isa Chandra’s dilly stew with dumplings

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I have never eaten stew with dumplings but when I saw the recipe and enticing photo in Isa Chandra’s cookbook Isa Does it, I had to make them. At first I wasn’t sure what to think of these little fluffy lumps of dough floating in a savoury stew but my tummy figured out pretty quickly that this was a great thing. Isa’s recipe takes about one hour from start to finish and is really very straightforward. I embellished a little by adding extra veggies, but essentially this is how Isa does it.

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Ingredients

For the stew

3 Tbsp vegan margarine

¼ cup flour

1 medium onion diced

3 cloves garlic minced

6 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp salt

A few grinds of black pepper

2 ribs celery

2 carrots cut into coins or half moons

1 ½ cups cooked navy beans (that’s a 15oz can drained and rinsed)

1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes cut into chunks (2 medium potatoes)

½ cup frozen or fresh peas

½ cup cremini mushrooms chopped

1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh)

2 Tbsp fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried – but seriously try to get fresh for this one)

½ tsp paprika

1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

For the dumplings

1 ½ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 Tbsp fresh finely chopped) OR 1 tsp poultry seasoning

¾ cup unsweetened plant milk (almond, soy etc)

2 Tbsp olive oil

 

Directions

Melt the margarine on medium heat in a large, wide pot that has a tightly fitting lid. Add the flour and heat through to make a soft roux – stir constantly for a couple minutes to cook out the raw flour taste but without burning the roux. Add the onions and garlic and sauté together for about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and stir constantly using a whisk so that the flour is incorporated evenly and lump free.

Add all the other ingredients and bring the pot to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir a few times during cooking. The stew is done when it’s nicely thickened and the potatoes and carrots are easily pierced with a fork.

While the stew is simmering, make the dumpling batter.

In a small bowl, sift in the dry ingredients. Okay, not going to sift? At least sift in the baking powder so you don’t end up with salty, crystalline lumps in your batter. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir everything to combine – you will have a rather ugly looking batter and that’s okay.

 

dough

It’s not pretty, and I was very dubious about this whole dumpling thing at this point.

 

When the stew is done simmering, drop the batter by spoonfuls on top of the hot stew. I got 16 dumplings that completely covered the top of the stew.

Put the lid on the stew pot and let the pot simmer for another 14 minutes. No peeking! It’s the steam in the pot that cooks the dumplings. They will puff up and be nice and firm to the touch when they’re cooked, but will be cakelike on the inside.

 

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Here are the dumplings after steaming. At this point I was REALLY wondering what I had done. But ladle up a dumpling and some stew on top, dig in and it’s savoury heaven!

 

Ladle the stew and dumplings out in a bowl. This dish makes 4 very satisfying servings and will last up to 3 days in the fridge. It makes great, microwavable leftovers.

 

Dumpling stew

You end up with this, and this is DELICIOUS!

 

The first and still the best vegan cheese I ever made

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In the first week of my vegan journey, I craved some creamy cheese. I bought a store-made brand and after one taste, dumped the whole tub. That chemically, chalky glop tasted like something that had been made by people who had never had cream cheese.

A quick google search didn’t bring me much luck either – I wanted cream cheese NOW not after eight hours of soaking cashews.

This is what I came up with and it’s still one of the best vegan cheeses ever. It’s so popular with my tribe that my friend, Cathy, specifically requests it for her birthday gift.  This recipe is nearly instant, easy and simple. And best of all, it’s delicious.

Let’s get started.

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Ingredients

¾ cup raw cashews

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic

2 tablepoons nutritional yeast

2-4 tablespoons water (I used 4 today for a very spreadable cheese).

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Directions

Put everything in a blender and whiz until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender a couple times.

Serve with crackers, rye toast, slices of apple or tomato.

 

 

Moroccan lentil soup

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The LA Times reported that the top food trends for 2018 spotted on Pinterest include Moroccan cuisine, plant-based proteins and soup. So here’s an on trend recipe that’s easy to make and delicious. It’s also ridiculously good for you with garlic, ginger, turmeric and iron-and-fibre-rich lentils.

My first thought when I encountered this recipe, which is from Healthy Starts Here, was “This is just weird enough to work.” And it certainly does with a hint of tanginess, a touch of sweetness from the apricots and mellow spices.

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Ingredients

1 tbsp canola or peanut oil

2 onions diced

4 cloves garlic minced

1-2 inches of ginger root peeled and grated

3 stalks of celery sliced

1 cup of red lentils

1 cup of water

4 cups of vegetable broth

28 oz can diced tomatoes

8 dried apricots

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

¼ tsp allspice

Optional but awesome – a cup of fresh kale, chard or spinach torn to bite sized pieces.

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You can add some fresh leafy greens for extra colour, texture and nutrition.

Directions

Measure out your spices and have the garlic and ginger prepped.

Sauté the onion and celery in a very large pot for about 5 minutes until the onion gets a bit golden. Add the spices, garlic and ginger and stir for another minute, heating everything through. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.

If you’re adding any leafy greens, add them after the soup is done cooking, but while it’s still hot. You want to wilt, but not cook the greens.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings and freezes well. I love it with warm pita bread.