Its a scorching hot and humid summer heatwave, the 7th day in a row, and you just spent your day traveling to and from work in an hot steamy airless packed subway and bus. There is a respite for a few hours at work, thankfully there is AC there. When you do get home you strip and plop yourself on the couch with your fan on High aimed right at you because you only have AC in the bedroom. After 30 minutes of ‘chillin’ a horrible thought comes to mind: there is NO WAY I am cooking dinner but what am I going to eat? Panic stricken, you remember to reach for the new practical book you just got: The No Cook No Bake Cookbook!
Quite another milestone! June 14th was my 6th Blogiversary. Every year I am so grateful and surprised to see how my passion for food and desire to share my discoveries only gets stronger and stronger. I am so proud to be part of this great community of friends and food lovers. And I enjoy discovering what others are concocting in their kitchen just as much…it is an endless source of inspiration. You are all amazing. And thank you for every visit to my blog and all the amazing comments you leave.
This year the celebration will be low key. No elaborate dish, no giveaway, no major fanfare. I have been fighting a bronchitis (again) for the past 2 weeks so I have not spent a lot of time in the kitchen. But what I would like to share with you is something possibly new to you. After all I think that is what I do best: try to get people to step outside of their safe food box.
OK, I will have to come clean: I love rice pudding. It seems people hate it or love it, but no in between. I have always enjoyed this dessert. So when I fell on a recipe that suggested it as a healthy breakfast option I was of course all over it. It’s a nice change from oatmeal or cream of wheat. And since this recipe calls for coconut milk it is vegan as well. I am sure you could try it too with rice, almond or soya milk.
I came across this recipe as I was searching for a dish that included cocoa beans. My friend Susan brought back a few coca beans for me from a trip to Mexico about 3 years ago. Well those cocoa beans got lost in the jungle I call my food pantry. Too bad I waited so long, I never cooked with this ingredient before but now I am hooked. There is not a huge amount of cocoa beans in this recipe so the taste is subtle and earthy, perfect for breakfast in my opinion.
Cocoa beans is the main ingredient of chocolate. Once the bean has dried and fermented (which removes the bitterness), one can extract the cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The cocoa butter counts for 50% of the bean’s composition, the rest being protein, sugar and starch. The beans are also packed with antioxidants, serotonin, vitamins, minerals and phenylethylamine, a natural antidepressant. So in small quantities, eating cocoa beans or dark chocolate can be beneficial to your health. A lot of people who have tasted the bean straight complain it is bitter. That means it was not a fully fermented bean. I ate one and found the texture to be like a fatty coffee bean, with a sublime intense chocolate nutty flavor, not sweet and not bitter.
And with the addition of brown rice, molasses and toasted coconut, this rice pudding has nice rich deep flavor. If you do not have molasses you could substitute with brown sugar. And if you want to turn this breakfast meal into a dessert you can simply add a bit more molasses and/or sugar to taste. If you cannot find cocoa beans (or nibs) you can use chocolate chips, just keep in ind it will melt, unlike the beans.
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees. Spread the coconut in a thin layer over a baking sheet with ridges and bake on the lowest rack setting for three to four minutes. Keep an eye on the coconut to make sure they don't burn, and stir if necessary.
In a heavy, medium saucepan, melt the coconut oil. Add the rice and brown it for about four minutes. This will give the rice a nutty flavor.
Once browned, add the coconut milk and vanilla. Bring to a boil, cover the saucepan, and reduce heat to low, simmering lightly and stirring periodically until the rice is tender and the mixture thickens.
Add the molasses, coconut flakes, and cocoa nibs towards the end of the cooking process to preserve crunch. It will take 45 minutes to an hour to cook the rice, so add the additional ingredients 30 to 50 minutes in, depending on how fast the liquid is absorbing.
When the rice is done and a small amount of liquid has retained, turn the heat off and let the rice sit under the closed lid for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.
Wow we are already in the month of March. And in less then a week we are going into daylight savings time. Does that mean winter is almost over? Another reason to make me smile is that today is my group’s reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club. What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time.
I really enjoyed my pick this month and I have to say I have a lot of respect for her too, she is a very courageous woman. My assigned blog was Biting Life which is written by Miranda. She loves to read, has a great supportive boyfriend and, lucky girl, has her dream job as an editorial assistant at a publishing company (do you take cookbook submissions lol?).
Miranda’s blog focuses a lot on eating healthy and she used this blog to help her eat well and sucessfully loose weight. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with a disability some time back which pretty much limits her capacity to exercise as it can bring on a lot of pain. She writes extensively on her disability Heel Pad Syndrome and I urge you to go check it out.
The great thing is this does not stop her from living life to the max and enjoying things she loves…like food. I was very tempted by several of her recipes. My first choices were a Beer Caramel Sauce, an Orange Beef and a yummy Vegetable Moo Goo Gai Pan.
But I went with the Quinoa Vegetable Soup finally because I always say I have to eat more quinoa. It’s one of those things I like but then I forget they exist. Quinoa originated in the Andean Mountain range and the words comes from the native tongue Quechua, kinwa. The Incas considered this crop to be sacred and called it the “mother of all grains”.
And they had good reason to hold it so dear. Quinoa is packed with good stuff such as a high protein content, dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, it is gluten free and it is also a source of calcium. In fact 2013 has been declared International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations.
This was a wonderful soup indeed. It is packed with vegetables and quinoa that is a protein source. Vegan meal anyone? Well I actually used chicken broth because that is what I had on hand but the original recipe calls for vegetable broth. I also omitted the celery stalk and replaced it with fenugreek. It was a perfect addition to a meal I made where my guest must eat lacto and gluten free.
OK so one more thing before the recipe. I only saw one mention but Miranda, claims she is more than a little bit obsessed with goats. Funny enough I was introduced to one of the current viral YouTube videos where popular songs are mixed in with goats. Check them out, there are tons. But this one is for you Miranda!
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil and add your garlic, onion, and celery, stirring frequently over medium high heat until the onion is translucent (5 minutes).
Add your vegetable broth, water, and tomatoes. Add your spices and stir. After a few minutes, add your spinach and allow it to wilt. Lastly, add your quinoa, lower your heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Can you guess what this picture is? I had so much fun playing around with Photoshop in my last post, I went all artsy again. This was made from the first picture on top. Cool right? Wanna know how I did it? I’ll tell you in the next post if you do, just let me know in your comments.
Well this is a very exciting day and this is the first post of the year involving not one monthly group but two! I will also be at work this morning after some time off, boo to that! Oh well the holidays are over and real life has to sink back in. Great food will make everything nice.
So as I mentioned before, today we have a combined entry for two groups I belong too….
The first is my group’s reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club. What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time.
The second is a brand new re branding you could say. The old 5 Star Makeover is now the Creative Cooking Crew which is hosted by Lazaro Cooks and Foodalogue. One of the former leaders decided to take a bow for personal reasons so we thought it was a great chance to give this fabulous group a makeover.
For SRC this month I was assigned the blog by Barbara called Barbara Bakes. So many tempting recipes as Barbara is a big baker of delicious goods. It is always a debate as to which recipe to showcase. Well 3 days ago I was hosting a small dinner party at home so I concentrated on her dessert recipe index. I really liked the sound on the Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherry Filling one but I am not into 2 tiered cakes anymore so I adapted the recipe to make 1 layer. I also kept the idea of the fruit topping but I am not over my cranberry obsession so I swapped them instead of cherries.
And imagine my surprise when I realized this cake had zero eggs or dairy! It is actually a vegan cake. And wouldn’t you know it this month’s theme for the Creative Cooking Crew is Vegan. This group is very gourmet, especially in presentation. Now I may bake well but my cake decoration skills are pathetic. See I tried to do a red and green border with icing and I can’t even keep my lines straight lol. Well I hope the fact that I present an actually great tasting cake that is vegan will be gourmet enough. I would not have guessed otherwise. The secret is the bubbling reaction between the baking soda and vinegar.
Preheat oven to 350º with rack in the center. Spray an 8inch round cake pan with non-stick spray.
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Combine water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee, and vanilla in a large measuring cup.
Add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined, a few lumps are OK and the mix will be dense.
Poor into pan, then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-45 minutes. Cool cakes on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert onto the rack. Leave cakes upside down (this flattens domed cakes) to cool completely.
In the mean time in a small saucepan combine all topping ingredients and cook over medium-high heat, until cranberries start to release their juice and the liquid thickens and becomes syrupy, 6-7 minutes; cool until needed.
This past Wednesday was the first cold day announcing the possibility of fall. I had to wear socks and closed shoes. I hate socks and I hate closed shoes. I am happiest in sandals. I have been free of socks since like end of May. This weather also brought on my first craving for a hearty and warm dish. I would normally pack it with beef but my vegetarian friend was coming over for dinner…so vegetarian chili it was.
This is a quick post, simple phone pic and very simple diner to prepare. Right now comfort is my essential requirement. Enjoy
Ξ Hearty Vegetarian Chili Ξ
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped in big pieces
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chile powder
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans
1 pack of tofu, chopped
3 cans (14.5 ounces/400g) diced tomatoes
In a large pot heat oil over medium-high and add the onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring often. Add yellow pepper, cumin, cinnamon, chile powder, salt and pepper and stir well. Add the black beans, tofu, coriander to licking and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add fresh coriander to taste.
I am really enjoying this new group with a different monthly theme called Love Blog Hop. You can post on the theme any time of the current month and link up your post to the list (see all the entries at the bottom). So far I have participated in the citruslove and the chocolatelove. This month the theme is greensslove, as in a recipe featuring any leafy veggies.
OK I know it is St-Patirck this month so green is in, but leafy veggies, it did not bowl me over with ideas. Finally I settled on a recipe I knew I would probably not like so much but the concept was very cool: a green burger patty. My inspiration recipe was from Makiko’s blog, Just Bento, with her Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers recipe.
I just recently bought beets with their greens for last month’s 5 star Makeover Beet challenge where I made Apples With Beet Hummus and Mint Yogurt Sauce. Granted the leaves were a tad wilted but who cares once they take a whirl in the food processor!
I served my patties with tomato slices in lieu of buns. I love the color contrast and it really keeps the dish veggie all the way.
The verdict? Best word to describe: Meh! They were actually better the next day after a quick warm up in the microwave. This would be great for hard core vegans if they find a way to substitute the egg.
March is #greenslove month!
Please join in on the #greenslove fun by linking up any leafy green recipe from the month of March 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #greenslove event! The twitter hashtag is #greenslove :).
Ξ Beet Greens Burger Ξ
2 cups beet greens (or any greens)
1 tbsp tahini
1/4 cup rice flour (you can use wheat flour)
1 tsp black olive paste, or about 2-3 black olives finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (1/3 tsp dry)
Salt and pepper
Put all the ingredients in a food processor or mixer and process until smooth. Adjust the amount of salt and pepper to taste. The mixture will be like pancake batter – but green.
Heat up a non-stick frying pan or griddle with a little olive oil on medium heat. Drop 1/4 cup of the mixture and spread the size of a burger patty. Cook on both sides for about 3-4 minutes each until are lightly browned. Makes 4 patties.
Check out the following co-hosts for this months Love Blog Ho