Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

Ok, so I fully admit to being skeptical when I first saw the recipe - zucchini and oatmeal are two things I'd never expect to be in my mouth at the same time. But we've been so overwhelmed with zucchini this season that I've been putting it in just about everything. If you liked the Cherry-Zucchini Bread (we can't stop eating it), trust me when I say, you MUST try this!

It's the absolute most perfect warm-up for these unseasonably chilly fall-ish mornings. I'm not quite ready to let go of summer yet, but alas, if I must, this little bowl of heaven is going to make it a lot easier.

Buon appetito!

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal
Recipe courtesy of Oh She Glows
Serves 1

1/3 cup rolled oats
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt & nutmeg, to taste
1/2 cup finely grated zucchini (packed)
1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax
1 tablespoon raisins, cranberries or the dried fruit of your choice
2 tablespoons chopped pecans (walnuts are good too)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon Earth Balance (optional)

In a medium sized pot combine oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt. Add milk and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes.

Stir in the grated zucchini, chia or flax seeds, dried fruit, brown sugar, and half the nuts. Cook over medium heat, adding more milk if/when necessary, for another 5-6 minutes. Reduce heat to low. When cooked, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour into bowl and top with remaining nuts and butter. YUM!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Spiced Sweet Potato Fries with Maple BBQ sauce

Wow - what started out as a silly little snack attack turned into a full-blown production. I was looking for something healthy to nosh on and when my psychotic raid of the cupboards turned up nothing, I set my sights on the fridge. There were a few sweet potatoes left from some lofty menu plan involving a curry lentil stew that never materialized, so I grabbed some and pondered their fate.

I picked up the cookbook that has taken up permanent residence on the kitchen counter to find some inspiration and happened across this recipe. Quick. Easy. And way better than a bag full of chips! The best part was that the Bear - having never (seriously, never) tasted a sweet potato - was totally bowled over by these yummy little critters. Super score!!

Posted a quick snap on the Facebook page and the response was so overwhelming I had to share. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Spiced Sweet Potato Fries with Maple BBQ Sauce
Recipe adapted from Easy Green Organic

4 medium to large sweet potatoes, cut into 1-2" strips (I leave the skin on for maximum nutrient value but original recipe calls for peeled)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
sea salt for sprinkling

3/4 cup barbeque sauce
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl mix the cumin, coriander, garlic powder, paprika, olive oil and salt. Add the sweet potatoes and hand-toss until they're evenly coated. Add the parsley and mix well.

Lay out the potatoes in a single layer on a large baking sheet and bake, stirring once or twice, for about 30 minutes or until the edges are browned and the potatoes are cooked through.

While they're baking, mix the barbeque sauce and maple syrup together in a small bowl.

When the fries are done, sprinkle them with the sea salt and enjoy!! They're a great snack on their own or a perfect side for these BBQ Portabella Sliders.

Note: mine tend to come out kind of soft rather than crispy - which I actually like. You may need to make a couple of batches to come up with the consistency and texture that you prefer. If anyone manages to make them crispy, let me know how you did it! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chocolate Balsamic Cake with Red Wine

For those of you who don't know me, I'll let you in on a little secret - I don't really love chocolate. But put a glass of red wine in front of me and suddenly I'm prepared to take the most hard-core chocoholic to the mat over the last piece of whatever's in the house that even hints of chocolate.

So when I came across this recipe for vegan chocolate cake from Amy over at Fragrant Vanilla Cake, I just about flipped. For all you dedicated vegans out there, your karmic reward is this incredible recipe that non-vegans would likely never bother to seek out: chocolate cake held together not by eggs, but by red wine. Yes. Seriously. Oh, and with a cherry on top: a couple of tablespoons of balsamico that pull double duty for adding flavor as well as working with the baking soda to make this puppy rise.

I have to admit, having been raised on deliciously buttery eggy cakes, I was totally skeptical about how this was going to turn out. But I was determined to try a vegan cake and this one sounded way too interesting to pass up. Still, I braced myself for it to be totally dry or exhibit some other kind of weirdness and just kept my fingers crossed that it would at least be "passable"- lest I endure a resounding chorus of "I-told-you-so's" from my family. So imagine my joyous surprise when I took the first bite of this gobsmacking goodness...go ahead, imagine it. If you're picturing a cartoon character with eyes bugging out in tune with a fire alarm and passing out with little pink hearts and stars circling my head...well, you're obviously as weird as I am, but you'd be spot on.

Incidentally, as much as I'd love to, I cannot take credit for the awesomely awesome term "gobsmacking" - I shamelessly stole it from PeaSoupEats, a cheeky vegan blogger in Cornwall who if you don't already know, you absolutely must. In fact, I highly recommend pecking around her delightful little blog whilst stuffing yourself with this delectable cake!

Chocolate Balsamic Cake with Red Wine 
Recipe adapted from Fragrant Vanilla Cake
Makes one 9-inch single layer cake*

*if you want a double-decker - which, now that I've tried it, I highly recommend - double the quantities below to make two cakes and sandwich some yumm-o frosting in between

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (pastry flour works best, but naturally I didn't have any so I used regular wheat flour)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup sugar (original recipe calls for maple sugar - use it if you have it!)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Amy recommends lining the cake pan with parchment paper and coating the parchment paper (and pan sides) with nonstick spray. I didn't have any paper on hand (found out the hard way a few months ago that wax paper is NOT a viable substitute) so I just used non-stick spray on a standard 9" non-stick cake pan and it worked fine.

Anyhoo. Onwards...

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Next, whisk oil, wine, and vanilla extract together in small bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended. And while the bottle is open, feel free to pour yourself a glass and toast yourself for endeavoring to bake something.

Whisk in the balsamic vinegar and stir quickly until fully combined. Transfer cake batter to prepared pan and bake cakes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.

Cool cake completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour. Cut around sides of pan to loosen. Turn cake out onto platter and peel off parchment paper (if you used it). Let your masterpiece cool completely before frosting.

Use your favorite frosting (there's a great one on the original recipe page that uses Tofutti cream cheese and tons more on Amy's site). You'll want to be generous with the frosting, not only because it's delicious but also because eggless cakes, whilst they can be surprisingly moist, do tend to be a little more delicate than their eggy cousins and will crumble more readily under pressure.

If you want to make it insanely decadent - go ahead, you deserve it - top it with some vegan caramel sauce to bliss yourself out completely.

Days later, I'm still seeing hearts and stars...
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