Baked Oatmeal


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The great thing about vegan cooking, especially in the time of a pandemic, is the know-how to cook with substitutes. There are chronic shortages of groceries, but not the desire to feed ourselves well.

Confined in a distancing bubble with teenagers, the need to eat is frequent – but so is boredom. When every morning has been leftover banana bread, waffles, cereal or a smoothie, I’ve been starting to get some shrugs. It’s been tough trying to please everyone in the middle of the apocalypse.

And yes, it’s only a Tuesday (I think) but I’ve got the time and we’re trying to stay healthy here so, I hit the pantry to see what was new. I got the glaze over when I mentioned oatmeal at first, but when I kept looking, I remembered the frozen fruit stockpiled for those smoothies and a fresh vitamin boost. So, to make it interesting, I realized if I could bake rice, I should do it with the oatmeal too.

I think mostly anything you have on hand could be replaced for the fruit in this.
We’ve been lucky to be part of Foodshare. It’s a great organization that not only delivers fresh fruit and veg to my doorstep every week, it also gives back to support the nutritionally vulnerable. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been surprised with a pineapple, so that was added to the frozen blueberries! You could try banana/blueberry, or raspberry with lemon zest and almonds or hazelnut – or if you have those, hazelnut and chocolate. Go crazy!

 

BAKED OATMEAL

2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed
1/3 Cup Almonds, chopped
2 Cups Whole Oats
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
1 1/2 Cups Milk (Any kind)
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
2/3 Cup Pineapple, finely diced
1 Cup Blueberries
2 Tablespoons Brown, Raw or Coconut Sugar, for sprinkling

In a small bowl combine the ground flax with 1/3 Cup water and set aside.
Roughly chop the almonds and scatter flat in a 9″x9″ baking pan.
Set the oven to preheat the oven to 350ºF. Add the almonds to toast (about 5 minutes), while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Peel and dice the pineapple so it is about the size of a large blueberry.
In a large bowl, add the oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and toasted almonds.
Pour over the milk, maple syrup, coconut oil and flax mixture. Stir well to combine evenly, then add the diced pineapple and blueberries to incorporate throughout.
Add mixture to the baking pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Cool slightly for about 5-10 minutes.

CHOCOLATE ALMOND MEGABITES


OMG! Remember my 3:30 sweet craving? I got another one!

This time I needed

CHOCOLATE!

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Chocolate. You know, it fixes everything, right???
These certainly hit the chocolate craving spot.

CHOCOLATE ALMOND MEGABITES

1 Cup Almonds
12 Pitted Dates
3 Tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
1/8 teaspoon Himalayan Salt

Grind the almonds in a food processor and add the dates to blend. Add the cacao powder, coconut oil and salt. Once everything is combined, mix in the chia seeds.
Squeeze and roll into balls and refrigerate. Alternately, you can flatten out in a 9×9 pan and cut into squares once chilled.

Holiday Kourabiedes – Walnut Sugar Cookies


Tis the season to learn of new traditions. When I first heard of these I couldn’t help but be excited.

Greek Kourabiedes are popular special occasion cookies. They are often served at weddings, christenings and of course, Christmas. You might also find them on an Egyptian cookie tray for the similar celebrations. There, they are called Kahk.

They remind me a bit of what a cross between a shortbread and a sugar cookie.
They’re simple, nutty AND they use some of my orange blossom water I coveted for recipes past.

Kourabiedes are subtle and not too sweet. The seasonal walnuts may be traded for almonds, but I love the combination of the bitterish walnut and bursts of salt with a hint of citrus and the warming, sweet and intriguing fragrance of orange blossoms. They’re perfect for the Holidays. I hope you try them.

KOURABIEDES – WALNUT SUGAR COOKIES

3/4 Cup Walnuts
1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) (vegan) Butter, like Earth Balance, softened
1/2 cup Confectioners Sugar, plus more for dusting
1 Tablespoon Cointreau
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
2 Tablespoons Orange Flower Water

Toast the walnuts in a 350ºF oven, until golden brown, about minutes.
Pulse about 1/4 cup of the nuts in a food processor until finely ground.
Add the flour, baking powder, remaining nuts and salt. Pulse again to mix everything together and roughly chop the remaining nuts.
Meanwhile, beat the butter, sugar,  Cointreau, orange zest and vanilla extract together with an electric or stand mixer until and fluffy.
At a low speed, stir in the nut/flour mixture to make a crumbly dough. Bring the dough together with your hands (it IS crumbly). Flatten it into a disk, like pastry dough, and wrap it in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate dough for about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicone liner.
Unwrap the dough and cut into 20 pieces. Roll into balls between with your hands. Flattening to shape each piece into a round   disk.
Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until the cookies are golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove them from the oven and lightly brush the orange blossom water over the tops of each cookie.
Transfer to a cooling rack and dust with additional confectioners sugar.

Raw For Dessert


For the longest time, I think I’ve misunderstood raw eating. The desire for it or the satisfaction from it was a bit of a mystery as most of my comfort foods (mashed potatoes and gravy, minestrone soup or ooey gooey, fresh out of the oven oatmeal chocolate chip cookies) are all well cooked items. Now, I could understand the desire to be vegetarian, but it wasn’t until tasting a brownie, of all things, did I get the raw idea.

It’s fresh. It’s alive an you can taste the foods! It just feels healthy.
…And this was all from a brownie! The hard day satisfaction wrapped in chocolaty goodness.

How wonderful (and intrigued I was) to be invited to flip through Jennifer Cornbleet’s newest creation: Raw For Dessert.
Her recipes are well thought out and all use fresh ingredients, which I love…. And a food processor, which I LOVE, LOVE!

I had to try her 10 minute, one bowl brownies. The recipe was clear, simple and of course, fast.

Everything into the food processor as directed and I still think I had a minute to spare.

With the cocoa and walnuts the flavour was extremely chocolaty but a touch bitter. I found the that the finished brownies stayed together, but were still crumbly when I tried to cut or most importantly, eat them. I’m not sure I ended up adding enough dates to sweeten and stick everything together. Perhaps if the recipe went by weight for the dates, rather than in numbers, I may have been more precise. Either way,  I was yearning for a perfectly placed dried cherry in each bite as that’s what seemed to help balance and sweeten my untrained for raw palate. Not for the kids, but   a m a z i n g   with an afternoon cup of coffee and practically guilt free!!!

Always wooed by photos, I wish there were more. Either way this is a book I’m holding on to. I’m itching to try at least another half dozen recipes! That being said, Jennifer has let me know that I can keep my copy and still share!

Leave a comment, tell me about your raw food adventures. If you’ve tried it, if you want to… Let me know your comfort food.
I’ll be randomly drawing to choose someone to have a copy of Raw For Dessert for your very own.
Tell your friends, let them enter and I’ll enter you twice!

I’ll give you a week.

Until then, here’s the recipe to indulge without indulging:


REALLY! ONE BOWL BROWNIES

Recipe courtesy of Raw For Dessert
By Jennifer Cornbleet

3 Cups Raw Walnuts, unsoaked
1/8 teaspoon Salt
16 Pitted Medjool Dates
2/3 Cup Cocoa powder, or raw cacao powder
1/2 Cup Dried Cherries, chopped
1/4 Cup Raw Cacao Nibs, optional ( I didn’t include these)
2 teaspoons Filtered Water

Place the walnuts in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until coarsely chopped.
Remove 1/2 Cup of the walnuts and set aside in a small mixing bowl.
Add the salt to the food processor and process until the walnuts are finely ground.
Add the dates and process until the mixture begins to stick together.
Add the cocoa powder and process to incorporate. Add the chopped walnuts, dried cherries, optional cacao nibs, and water and process briefly, just until mixed.
Pour the mixture evenly into an 8-inch glass baking dish and press down with your hand to compact. Cut into squares.
Covered with plastic wrap, Really! One Bowl Brownies will keep for 5 days stored n the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

Yield: 16 small brownies (8 servings)

Mihl over at Seitan Is My Motor also reviewed this book. Check out her awesome blog and what she had to say…

Thanks for commenting and for waiting. After getting a number at random, we have a winner!
Congratulations Kelly! We’ll be in touch via email so I can get this great book out for you to enjoy too!

Countdown To Christmas: Dinner


Dinner, oh dinner.
Yeah, this is the big one. It’s also the one that by experience has proven that planning ahead, pop it in the oven kind of dinners are waaaay more enjoyable than missing out on events while slaving away in the kitchen. Plus, there really are so many relatively quick and impressive recipe options to choose from, so I can watch the yule log burn on the Apple tv and sip wine while I build some new lego…  (or play with cooking show Barbie – Shhhhhh.)

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mashed potatoes. And although I’m sure you know how to make those, I’ve added a little roasted garlic to these. Not only does it make them extra good, it’s going to match up the rest of the dishes served.

Next are steamed green beans, because you can’t go wrong with those. I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t like them… even the picky seats at the kiddie table!

To balance things out, I just wouldn’t be a mother if I didn’t serve brussels sprouts. Actually, these are the one vegetables I was made to sit and stare at as a child but thankfully, I’ve learned to cook them properly. The trick is to under cook them, there the secret’s out – now stand back and watch and the hoards make way in the produce aisle! Briefly roasted with oil, then tossed with rosemary and a little of the dinner’s themed garlic seemed utterly delicious!

One of my most favourite sides I’ve made almost too many times to count. Popular around Thanksgiving, yet I haven’t made it for Christmas. Combine two of my favourites, it’s a creamy spinach and squash gratin.

The main attraction? Another relatively easy but impressive dish. Adapted from Gourmet’s November issue. This mushroom spinach pie has a little something for everyone with earthy mushrooms, spinach, walnuts and, of course, roasted garlic.

My favourite part? The pie seriously took me about six minutes to make it but it can be made hours in advance.

This dinner will serve 4- 6.

SIMPLE ROASTED GARLIC

3 Bulbs Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cut the tops from each bulb and peel the outermost layers of papery skin from the garlic.
Coat each bulb well with the olive oil and roast for 30 – 35 minutes, until each bulb is soft, sticky and golden brown. Adding more oil or cover with foil, if necessary to avoid drying and over-browning.

ROASTED GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

4 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Bulb Roasted Garlic
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Using a pressure cooker or traditional stove top method, boil the potatoes until soft.
Drain then mash by hand, those little lumps and bits are good.
Squeeze the cooled garlic from the skin into a bowl and mash with a fork.
Add the garlic, oil, continuing to mash until fluffy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + SPINACH GRATIN

This recipe can be made days ahead, up to the point of adding the crumb topping, which can be done while reheating.

1 Small Butternut Squash
1/2  Bulb Roasted Garlic, about 2 Tablespoons mashed
6 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves, packed
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk, or unsweetened soy milk will do
1/2 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
1/8 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt, scant
1/4 teaspoon Pepper, to your liking
2 Slices Whole Wheat bread
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crumbled – optional

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Lightly spray a casserole dish with oil.
Sauté the spinach in the olive oil. Once wilted, remove with a squeeze and discard any extra liquid.
Slice the neck of the squash in to 1/4″ rounds. Remove the skin from the edge and evenly layer the bottom the casserole dish.
Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and pepper.
Top with sautéed spinach, nutmeg, another sprinkling of salt and pepper, then evenly dot with the roasted garlic.
Add another layer of squash to cover in an even layer, sprinkling over another pinch of the salt and pepper.
Combine the almond milk with the arrowroot powder and pour over the squash.
Tightly cover with foil and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile toast the bread slices to dry out completely. Either add to a food processor or chop finely by hand.
Add the butter and rosemary to the crumbs, mixing evenly.
Top the baked squash with the crumb mixture. Return it to the oven and continue to bake uncovered for about 10 minutes or until brown and crusty.

MUSHROOM SPINACH + WALNUT PIE

2 (397g) Packages Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Cups Sliced Mushrooms, I used crimini, but I’m doing shiitake for the next one.
8 Cups Baby Spinach, packed
1/4 Cup Walnuts, chopped
1 Bulb Roasted Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crumbled
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft and browned.
Remove the mushrooms to cool.
Add the remaining oil and sauté the spinach leaves. Squeeze over the bulb of roasted garlic and stir.
While the spinach wilts and the mushrooms cool, roll out the first package of dough into about a 12″x8″ rectangle.
Place the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Top the dough with the mushrooms, then the wilted spinach.
Sprinkle over salt, pepper, rosemary and chopped walnuts.
Roll out the remaining dough to top the pie, crimping and tucking the edges under.
Lightly score the top with a sharp blade, occasionally piercing for steam vents.
Bake in the center of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden and crisp.

Cherry Struesel Muffins


I’ve been thankfully blessed with an ever seemingly flowing deposit of cherries at market this season.
My fingertips are stained and I’ve finally invested in a cherry pitter it’s been such a bumper year.

The other day, with another bowlful of cherries, I was called by a neighbour to do some reno snooping and a visit. Since I didn’t want to show up empty handed, she was letting me look at the inside of her closets after all, I grabbed for my cherry pitter and a bowl.

We were a little late but the muffins were still steamy when we arrived. After peeking at her newest addition, we had coffee and the muffins. She had two and I got the name of her contractor. Pretty good trade.

CHERRY STRUESEL MUFFINS
350ºF 18-20 Minutes

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Bing Cherries, pitted & roughly chopped
1/3 Cup Safflower Oil
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Soy Milk
1/3 Cup Orange Juice

Struesel Topping

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Oatmeal
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Shredded Coconut
1/4 Cup Walnuts, chopped
3 Tablespoons Earth’s Balance Butter

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly spray a regular sized muffin tin.
In a small bowl combine the milk, oil and orange juice.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.
Add the sugar and stir in the wet ingredients.
Pit the cherries and roughly chop. Fold in the cherries, and spoon into prepared muffin tin.

Combine struesel topping together and mash butter with a fork until evenly distributed and the mixture is crumbly.
Generously top each of the muffins with the struesel mixture and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester can be cleanly removed.

Makes 12 muffins.