Monday, 28 July 2014

Quinoa Granola

Good evening, friends!

I am excited to get The Husband back tonight, after him being away for the past week.
There was a time when I could not stand being alone. I felt abandoned whenever The Husband had to leave, whether it was for a night out with friends or for a few days at a hockey tournament. I used to drink and eat until I fell asleep, and that was how I filled my evenings.
I have somehow, over the past year, learnt to take care of myself, and I enjoy my time alone now (not as much as The Husband's company, mind you). I cook, bake, run, walk the dog, read, study, watch stupid shows and drink tea. The dog, cat and I have a grand old time!

I made a batch of quinoa granola last night. I got the recipe from It's All Good, Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook. It makes a great breakfast with a sliced banana and some plain yogurt. It seems to keep me full for longer than traditional granola, probably because of quinoa's high protein content (fun fact: quinoa is a complete protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids that the body needs).
And why should it only be a breakfast food? I may or may not just have had some with Cherry-Amaretto ice cream....

Quinoa Granola: 

- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 3 cups quinoa flakes
- Pinch of coarse sea salt
- 2 1/2-3 cups mixed chopped nuts/seeds/dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk olive oil and maple syrup in a large bowl.
Add quinoa flakes, and mix until well combined.
Spread evenly on a baking sheet.
Bake, stirring a few times, until crunchy and golden brown (about 25 minutes).
While cooling, add nuts/seeds/dried fruit and sprinkle with sea salt.


That's all for today!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sweet Potato and Peanut Butter Muffins

Hello hello,

I hope everyone is having a fantastic start to their week! Mine has been busy, as usual. Study, run, eat, work, eat, study, sleep, repeat. Why do I do this to myself?

Nutrition is super-important for all of us living fast paced-lives. I am always trying to come up with ways to sneak extra vitamins and minerals in my diet, especially in the form of veggies. 
There was one thing that I have been too chicken to try until now....THE GREEN SMOOTHIE.
Yes, I did what I swore I would never do: I added spinach to my smoothie.
Let me tell you, I was shaking in my boots before drinking this thing!

Verdict? It wasn't that bad. You can't really taste the spinach when there is a banana in there. Still, I would rather eat my veggies than drink them. I will attempt the green smoothie again in the near future though!

Speaking of healthy snacks, I whipped up these peanut butter and sweet potato muffins a few nights ago. I was intrigued by this strange flavor combination that I had seen on a few blogs, so I decided to give it a go (tweaking the original recipes, of course). I was expecting these muffins to be very dense, but they were surprisingly light and fluffy! I loved them and would definitely make them again.

Sweet Potato and Peanut Butter Muffins:  (makes 9 muffins)

- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup milk of your choice (I used whole milk, but even almond milk would work well)
- 3/4 cup sweet potato, cooked and pureed
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup all natural peanut butter (I used the crunchy kind)
- 1/2 cup oat flour (I just grind oats in the food processor)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a muffin pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, milk, sweet potato, oil, vanilla, egg, maple syrup and peanut butter.
In a large bowl, combine oat flour, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
Pour the wet ingredients over dry, and mix until just combined.
Scoop batter into prepared muffin pan, and bake for about 20 minutes.


In other news, our garden is doing really well!
I just went and grabbed some fixings for dinner: lettuce, tomatoes and dill. Thank you, Husband and Mother-in-law for all your gardening! I am now reaping the rewards of your hard work, hee hee hee.

'Night y'all!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Cooking failures, more camping, and delicious hummus

Good to see you, it's been a little while...

Guess why? More camping! The Husband's days off and mine rarely line up, so when they do, we have to take advantage of it.

Coziest camping ever!

Nothing screams vacation like ice-cream


Lately, when it comes to cooking, I had been on a roll, my experiments successful and delicious. I was due for a FAILURE. Or a couple.

I attempted a vegan "quiche" the other day. Most recipes call for tofu, but tofu might just be the only kind of food that I do not like! So, full of confidence from my recent experiments, I thought "no problem, I'll just tackle a vegan French Onion tart, replacing your traditional quiche filling with a mixture made of processed cauliflower and chickpeas". Well, kids, do not try this at home. The poor Husband struggled to eat the thing, and although I seemed to have an easier time of it, I would never make it again! Needless to say, you guys are NOT getting this recipe.

It looked good...looks can be deceiving. 

Then I made a double batch of my gluten free crackers, this time with sundried tomatoes and basil. They tasted great, but I had a few hiccups in the process!


Anyway, one successful venture was a batch of home-made hummus. So easy, so much cheaper than store-bought, and just as delicious!

Roasted Garlic Hummus: 

- 4 cloves roasted garlic (25mins at 350F, in foil and drizzled with olive oil)
- 1/4 cup tahini
- juice of a whole lemon
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor, process roasted garlic with lemon juice and tahini first. When smooth, add chickpeas, cumin and olive oil. Process for a minute or two, then add the water, vinegar, salt and pepper, and then process some more!

Refrigerate before serving. 


When we came back from camping, we were craving something fresh...and it doesn't get much fresher than a salad with lettuce from our garden! So good.

Good night everyone! All this sun and fresh air has us exhausted! I wish you a happy and healthy weekend (tomorrow is my Monday). 

Friday, 11 July 2014

Camping break!

Hello everyone,

I do not have much cooking to report because of THIS:

The Husband and I finally got to go camping, for the first time this summer. What a relaxing couple of days we had!
And when we camp, The Husband does the cooking.
Chili-cheese dogs by the fire - works for me!

Because no post would be complete without a recipe though, I will share one that I have made many times. A healthier version of your average banana bread, just as delicious, and yes, with added chocolate chips :)

Banana/Apple Bread, No Fat Added: 

- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced

Optional: 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed bananas + honey + applesauce + vanilla extract.
In a large bowl, combine flour + baking soda + baking powder + salt + cinnamon.
Stir wet and dry ingredients until just combined - be careful not to overmix.
Fold in the apple and the optional ingredients. A few walnut pieces can be sprinkled on top.

Transfer to loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes.

This recipe has become a staple in our house!


Have a fantastic weekend!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Apple, Rum and Chocolate Bundt Cake

Cake, cake, cake, cake.

One of my favorite things in the whole wide world is cake. I love making cake, and I love eating cake.

On Saturday night, we were invited for dinner at a couple of friends', and I had volunteered to make dessert. Actually, I pretty much said "You don't have a choice - I'm making dessert, and too bad if you were planning on making it".
I was having a lazy Saturday, so I decided to find a cake recipe that would call for ingredients that I had in my fridge/pantry (apples, dark spiced rum, and chocolate chips). And then I remembered my awesome silicon Bundt Cake Pan, which I had never used. Which meant finding a Bundt cake recipe that included apples, rum, and chocolate chips.
I found a couple, but ended up straying so far from the original recipes, that I will call this one my own :)

The cake turned out perfectly - I am glad I wrote down ingredients and quantities as I went!

This is my happy place, making a huge mess in the kitchen!

Apple Bundt Cake with Rum and Chocolate Chips:

For the cake:

- 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, quartered and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup applesauce
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup dark spiced rum
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips

For the glaze: 

- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup dark spiced rum
- 1 cup icing sugar

Making the cake: 

Preheat oven to 325F and lightly grease Bundt cake pan.
In one bowl, mix all-purpose flour + whole wheat flour + baking soda + baking powder + salt + cinnamon + brown sugar.
In another bowl, whisk together eggs + rum + applesauce + butter (the mixture may look a bit curdly - that's ok!)
Combine wet + dry ingredients ***DO NOT OVER MIX***, then fold apples and chocolate chips into the batter.
Pour into pan, and bake for about 1h10 -1h15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted close to the centre comes out clean.

Making the glaze: 

When the cake is just out of the oven, melt butter on a pot over low heat. Stir in buttermilk, rum and icing sugar. Turn heat to high, and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute.
Pour over the cake while still in the pan. Move the pan around to make sure the glaze finds its way down the sides and the middle of the cake.
Let stand for an hour.

Turn cake over onto a wire rack and let cool completely.


Take care, dudes and dudettes!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Turkey burgers (and coffee?)

Coffee, a love story:

I cannot, for the life of me, remember when I first started drinking coffee. I had hot chocolate with breakfast every single day as a kid (how French of me) and well into my teens. I switched to black tea in my late teens, and kept drinking it every morning until a few years ago.
I must have tried coffee during that time, and I don't ever remember hating it, but I clearly wasn't hooked enough to make the ol' cup of joe a daily occurrence. 
Here is the thing though - I now find myself drinking multiple cups of coffee as soon as I wake up, every day. 
When and how did that happen? Couldn't tell ya.
I do think that there is nothing wrong with A cup of coffee, especially since I drink it black, which means no unnecessary dairy or sweeteners.

Caffeine, when consumed in moderation, can be a good thing:
- it contains anti-oxidants, which fight free radicals in the body (in short, lots of free radicals over time = diseases such as cancer)
- it obviously improves alertness and boosts energy and mood
- it improves athletic performance (a given level of intensity feels easier while caffeinated)

However, I have never been known as The Queen Of Moderation.
Bottom line is, I need to cut back on the coffee drinking, limit myself to a cup or two, and ideally not every day.

Here are some of the not-so-cool things about caffeine:
- caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, which temporarily raises blood pressure and heart rate. It will temporarily increase metabolism and lower blood sugar levels, but once the initial stimulation is over, blood sugar levels will spike up. All this blood sugar yo-yo-ing can lead to dysglycemia, sugar cravings, and diabetes
- coffee is a diuretic and a mild laxative, leading to loss of minerals such as potassium, magnesium and zinc, as well as vitamins including the B-vitamins and vitamin C
- coffee is acidic, leading to heartburn through increased hydrochloric acid production in the stomach (clearly a problem for people with ulcers)
- caffeine is addictive!

Speaking of which, I'm going to warm up the rest of my second cup of coffee.


I made turkey burgers yesterday (team effort actually - I made the patties, and The Husband barbecued them), and I thought I would share the recipe:

- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 1 cup oats
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- salt and pepper, to taste

Mix it all together and form patties! This will make 7 or 8 patties.

Oh, and because I loved my chocolate-espresso tart so much, I made it again - this time even cuter! That same recipe makes 4 small tarts.

Have a wonderful day, and don't drink too much coffee!