Spice mix in a jar

So I just posted one of my delicious curry recipes. Here is the spice mix made bulk (though I will go through this jar in no time).

Yum.

 

How much of each for the big batch:

  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1.5 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1.5 tbsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 tbsp ground ginger
  • 3/4tbsp ground turmeric
  • 3/4 tbsp chili powder

If you don’t have hot peppers on hand when cooking with the spices you can use cayenne pepper to taste.

Amazing Curry

This curry is coursing through my veins. I found it, tried it, tweaked it, and have cooked it at almost once a week over the last five months. I’ve made it with chicken and turkey but my favourite so far is the ground beef version. I am going to try the recipes with lentils because Genesis is all about lentils and I can see them tasting amazing in this dish. This is an easy-to-vegan recipe. Switch out the ground beef for TVP, lentils, chickpeas, etc. This time around I added lentils and peas which added an nice texture and sweetness.

Seriously tasty.

AMAZING CURRY

  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp ground cloves
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 lbs of ground beef (alternatives: 2 lbs ground chicken, turkey, lamb, etc. or veggie it up: all lentils, tvp, chickpeas, etc.)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 large red onion (very large… or 1.5 kinda large onions. Can use white or yellow, I just like red onions)
  • 4-6 green serrano chili peppers or jalapeños (to taste)
  • 1 head of garlic (seems like a lot but this is a lot of food)
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 lime

Directions

  • Mix together all the spices in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Brown your protein in a large pot with the coconut oil (or olive oil if you are so inclined), add salt and pepper to taste.
  • While browning the meat chop your onion, peppers, and peel your garlic.
  • Drain your protein and set aside.
  • In the same large pot saute the onions, peppers, and crushed garlic (you can add a little more coconut oil if you need to). Cook until onions become lightly translucent.
  • Add the meat back in. Add lentils and peas (and any other veggies you want) and sprinkle everything with your spice blend.
  • Stir the mixture over medium heat for a few minutes until the spices become fragrant.
  • Pour in your two cans of coconut milk, stir to combine.
  • Cook everything until hot throughout and the meat is cooked (shouldn’t be long if you’ve happily browned away already).
  • Serve over rice, or quinoa, or more lentils, or green beans, or a tire (I bet it will make it delicious). Squeeze lime over everything.

Now… pictures!

Spices lined up, ready for mixing.

Onions, peppers, and garlic.

About to be served.

Beef and Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Well I took out ground beef because I had a hankering for curry but I’ve been making it at least once a week lately and I could tell that Gen was getting tired of it. (I will absolutely post that recipe next week)

Instead, I decided to make shepherd’s pie with our last round of ground beef. Gen also had boiled some lentils so I decided to mix those into the meat for a slightly healthier twist. This recipe was delicious, Gen loved it and I finally got my salting figured out (I tend to under-salt while cooking… I forget to salt).

Anyway, I am pretty thrilled with this dish but sadly my camera was dead so I used the iPad and have shoddy photos.

Shepherd’s Pie

Potato top:

  • 2 pounds potatoes quartered (I live the skins on for nutrients and texture… also I am lazy and Gen likes them)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup cream (milk or chicken broth for a lighter version)
  • salt & pepper, to taste (for the potatoes and meat)

Meat and lentil filling:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 cup boiled lentils
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth (I used Better Than Bouillon beef base)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • handful chopped parsley

Directions

  • Boil potatoes in water with salt until tender, 12-15 minutes. When cooked, drain and dump back into the pot. In a small bowl combine sour cream, egg yolk, salt, pepper, and cream. Pour sour cream mixture over the potatoes and mash until smooth.
  • While potatoes boil, drop the coconut oil into a large skillet, add ground beef. Season the meat with salt and pepper; cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain excess fat from pan.
  • Add lentils to the meat and stir to combine.
  • Add chopped carrot, onion, and garlic to the beef. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions and carrots have begun to soften.
  • In a small skillet, over medium heat melt butter and whisk in flour until a roux is formed. Whisk in beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Cook the gravy down for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Pour gravy over the meat and vegetable mixture. Stir in peas. (Pop a few frozen peas in your mouth too, they are so sweet and delicious!)
  • Turn broiler to high. Fill a glass casserole dish with meat mixture and cover with potatoes.
  • Sprinkle potatoes with paprika and broil until potatoes are brown (5-10 minutes).
  • Remove dish from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

While potatoes boil, drop the coconut oil into a large skillet, add ground beef. Season the meat with salt and pepper; cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain excess fat from pan. (My meat looks weird because I've started doing 'sheet meat.' It just means I flatten my meat in a ziploc before freezing because it thaws faster)

Add chopped carrot, onion, and garlic to the beef. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions and carrots have begun to soften.

I think next time I will do half-and-half with lentils and beef.

Veganized!

Shepherd’s Pie

Potato top:

  • 2 pounds potatoes quartered (I live the skins on for nutrients and texture… also I am lazy and Gen likes them)
  • 2 tbsp tofu sour “cream”
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth
  • salt & pepper, to taste (for the potatoes and protein)

Protein filling:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2.5 cups ground TVP (or all lentils!!! Yum!!)
  • 1 cup boiled lentils
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance buttery
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (or hot sauce if you don’t want to make the effort)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • handful chopped parsley

Directions

  • Boil potatoes in water with salt until tender, 12-15 minutes. When cooked, drain and dump back into the pot. In a small bowl combine tofu sour “cream”, Earth Balance, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup veggie broth. Pour tofu sour cream mixture over the potatoes and mash until smooth.
  • While potatoes boil, drop the coconut oil into a large skillet, add ground TVP. Season the TVP with salt and pepper; cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain excess oil from pan.
  • Add lentils to the TVP and stir to combine.
  • Add chopped carrot, onion, and garlic to the TVP and lentils. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions and carrots have begun to soften.
  • In a small skillet, over medium heat melt Earth Balance and whisk in flour until a roux is formed. Whisk in veggie broth, nutritional yeast, and vegan Worcestershire sauce (or hot sauce). Cook the gravy down for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Pour gravy over the filling. Stir in peas. (Pop a few frozen peas in your mouth too, they are so sweet and delicious!)
  • Turn broiler to high. Fill a glass casserole dish with filling and cover with potatoes.
  • Sprinkle potatoes with paprika and broil until potatoes are brown (5-10 minutes).
  • Remove dish from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Not a recipe.

This blog is going to be largely recipes but I know that when big things happen in our lives they will eventually find their way here as well.

This post is about one of those big things.

I am in a wonderful program, getting my Master of Publishing, and I am part of a wonderful group, The Cohort. This group is made up of 17 beautiful women and one handsome fella. Recently, my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor, brain cancer. Not only has The Cohort helped me get through the last five months (letting me cry in our offices, supporting me when I have to miss class to help my parents at the hospital or at the airport, and being all-around awesome) but they have actively worked to make my life feel normal.  Today I was presented with a card and a notice that this wonderful group of people donated $450 to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Just thinking about it makes me tear up. I am so touched.

Anyway. I love them all. The Cohort is amazing.

The power of The Cohort

Vegan Peanut Butter “Buttercream”

So I made vegan cupcakes and wanted to make vegan “buttercream” so my friend could eat the whole thing. The problem here is that Earth Balance Buttery is not my friend. I love butter, and Earth Balance is not butter. It has a distinctly gross flavour. My friend loves it but I wanted it to taste good for me as well. No luck. I ended up making some “buttercream” from my leftover peanutbutter filling, veggie shortening, Earth Balance, icing sugar, and Dark Chocolate Almond milk. It was ok, Gen liked it enough but it was no buttercream.

Image

I only made enough to frost six cupcakes (I made real buttercream for the rest). I will increase the recipe’s amounts 1. if there is interest 2. if I make it again later in a larger batch.

Vegan Peanut Butter “Buttercream” Icing

  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance buttery
  • 1/4 cup shortening (make sure it is all veg)
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1.5 cups of icing sugar (more to taste)
  • 2 tbsp Dark Chocolate Almond milk

Combine the ingredients, mix until well blended and add more icing sugar to taste. I added food colouring to make them purple in honour of World Epilepsy Day.

Dreamy Buttercream

This buttercream icing is my absolute standby. It is creamy, delicious, fluffy, and not sickeningly sweet. It stands up well at room temperature and you can refrigerate it and stir it up to use again later. It can be flavoured, coloured, and veganized (though not to my liking) with little effort. It is awesome.

Irish Cream, White, Vegan, Purpled

Buttercream Icing

  • 1 cup unsalted butter – room temperature (you can use 1/2 salted 1/2 unsalted as well. Truthfully I’ve used 1 cup of salted too, I am not too picky about this, myself)
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 tbsp vanilla (use clear vanilla extract if you want a pure white buttercream. Again, I am not too picky about this)
  • 1 1kg bag of icing sugar (2.2lbs), about 4 cups
  • 4-6 tbsp very cold milk

Directions

Cream the butter and shortening in a large bowl. Add the vanilla extract and combine well. The mixture may not be totally smooth, but this will be resolved. Add the sugar about 1 cup at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, add three tablespoons of the milk, combine very well. Add additional tablespoons of milk until you’ve reached your desired consistency. I find that four tablespoons is good for cakes and the full six is nice and fluffy for cupcakes.

Alternatives:

  • Drunken Buttercream: Replace 3-6 tbsp of the milk with Irish Cream, Amaretto, Kahlua, whatever liquor you are trying to work into your icing.
  • Peanut Butter Buttercream: Replace the shortening with equal amount of peanut butter.
  • Vegan “Buttercream”: Replace the butter with vegan butter and make sure the shortening you are using is all veg.
  • Chocolate Buttercream: Add 4 tbsp to the finished butter cream. Add more as needed until a rich chocolate buttercream is reached. This does not make a really brown chocolate colour, it is a little grey-brown but tastes amazing.
  • I am going to try out a brown butter version and report back the results.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with a Peanut Butter Surprize

A couple of friends of mine are vegan so I decided to try out a vegan chocolate cupcake recipe with a bit of a twist. Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my favourite combos!

Peanut butter and chocolate.

The cupcakes are turned out alright, the true test will be tomorrow when I take them to the cohort. While I like how fluffy and moist they are (of course I had a tester) they are a little bland and not as rich as I would like. The peanut butter ball in the centre competes with the flavours in the cake (which is weird because it is supposed to be chocolatey but the almond extract that they recommend is the culprit here) but is a nice surprize on its own.

Batter with coconut oil chunks and the batter ready for the oven.

Nice crispy tops with peanut butter balls.

I topped three cupcakes with a “buttercream” made from the leftover peanut butter filling, some vegan butter, shortening, extra icing sugar, and some almond milk. I HATE the flavour of vegan butter (Earth Balance) so I just made a small amount of icing with that and went with my favourite buttercream for the rest.

I clearly need to hone my icing skills.

I used Coconut Oil which I love but it seized when I poured it into the batter and I had a bit of a battle incorporating it. If you aren’t prepared to do a heat bath to melt the oil in the batter (ugh not my brightest moment), then best to stick with canola or olive oil.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Oh She Glows

Yield: 24 cupcakes

  • 2 cups non-dairy milk (I used Dark Chocolate Almond milk)
  • 2 cups sugar (I used white sugar but might do brown next time to make it more rich)
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil (or other oil)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract (optional, I would opt out if you are going to pair the chocolate in the cupcake with another flavour of icing or filling)
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Peanut Butter Ball Filling

  • 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • pinch salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Beat together the following ingredients in a large bowl: non-dairy milk, oil, sugar, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, almond extract. Beat on medium speed for a minute or two.

2. Now sift in the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well, until the clumps are gone. If you are a dolt like me, place the bowl in a larger bowl that has some warm water in the bottom. This will help to melt the clumps of Coconut Oil, stir until incorporated.

3. In a small bowl combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and salt. I normally use a spoon to start and then knead it together with my hands until it is shiny and well combined.

4. Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake pan, about two thirds full for each. Roll a teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture into a ball, press one ball lightly into the centre of each cup.

5. Bake for about 22 minutes at 350F, or until the cupcake slowly springs back when pressed with a finger. Allow to completely cool before frosting.

Spicy Cheddar Irish Soda Bread

St.Patrick’s Day had my head swirling with recipes for Irish Soda Bread, which made me uncomfortable. Bread… without yeast?!

Now, I am not crazy, I don’t think all breads must have yeast, or a sourdough starter, but I’ve been crazy for yeast since I picked up a fresh jar last month. But I just like the sweetness of yeasted bread; I love the smell as it rises and bakes. I love the chewy, stretchy goodness.

So, with all the talk of these soda breads floating around I scuffawed and tried to ignore it. But last night I was hungry. I hadn’t taken out anything for dinner and I didn’t feel like making anything involved. Remembering the tiny bit of shredded cheddar that had been sitting in my fridge for some time I decided that Irish soda bread was worth a try.

I started with Ina Garten’s recipe but made some changes to make it savory, cheesy, spicy, and delicious.

Spicy Cheddar Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk (I used 1.5 cups milk with 1.5 Tbsp of white vinegar to make my buttermilk)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until well integrated (pea-sized chunks or smaller). Add the cheese (note that I think it would taste best with 1 cup of cheese but I actually only had 1/2 cup on hand). Mix the cheese in so that the pieces are coated in flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl. Slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. The dough will be sticky, at this point I just got in there with my hands and mixed it up until it felt right (helpful huh).

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

When done, tear into it with a pat of butter. Taste particularly good with a glass of beer and 30 Rock on television. Yum.