Nishi’s Luscious Lentil Salad

I veganized my friend’s Nishi’s lentil salad, and replaced some veggies with what I had in the fridge.

Ingredients:
1 can lentils (brown or green)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 red or yellow pepper, finely chopped
1/2 english cucumber, finely chopped
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

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Dressing:
4 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix all the ingredients, and add dressing. Even my omnivore husband enjoyed this salad!

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For vegetarians, below is Nishi’s original lentil salad recipe.

Ingredients:
1 can lentils (brown or green)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 red or yellow pepper, finely chopped
2 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
2 oz semi firm Havarti cheese, cubed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

Dressing:
4 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

Enjoy!

Chocolate Coconut Squares

This is one of our favourite desserts to make for the holiday season. We like to serve these on Christmas Eve but they are a welcome addition to any occasion!

2013 will bring a new healthy lunch feature to the blog to balance out all the desserts we’ve been posting! Hope you enjoy the holidays!

coconut squares

1 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup 2 % milk
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup unsweetened fine coconut

coconut squares 2

1. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until creamy. Gradually add butter, milk and vanilla, and mix well.
2. In a separate bowl, sift flour and stir in baking powder. Add to the egg mixture and fold in with a spoon until well blended.
3. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes. Let it cool for at least 20 minutes and then cut into squares.
4. Meanwhile, bring milk and sugar to a boil. Lower the heat to medium low, and gradually add the chocolate, stirring constantly until it’s melted. Remove from heat and add butter. Stir until the butter is melted.
5. Set up the ingredients to form a sort of assembly line on your countertop. Place the pan of squares and the chocolate mixture next to each other. Evenly spread the unsweetened coconut on a plate and place it last. Take a square from the pan, gently dip each square into chocolate mixture and then roll in coconut. Make sure each square is completely covered with chocolate before rolling in coconut. Arrange squares on a big platter or in a plastic container. Put either foil or wax paper between the rows.

Cool squares in the fridge for 12 hours, or in the freezer for 4 hours before serving.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s the holiday season and we’re in the mood to bake! These peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are soft, rich and gooey. I even managed to sneak a carrot into these cookies!

If your’e allergic to peanuts try almond butter. Or chocolate almond butter. Mmmm.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 large carrot, shredded
3/4 cup real maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2 cup nut butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

oatmeal chocolate chip cookie 2

1. Preheat oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with lightly greased aluminium foil.
2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, rolled oats, baking powder and salt. Add the shredded carrot and mix together.
3. In a separate bowl use a whisk to combine the maple syrup and nut butter. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Drop about a tablespoon at a time onto baking sheet. Leave at least an inch between each cookie. Bake in the top 1/3 of the oven for 8 – 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden on top and bottom. For a softer cookie you’ll want to bake it for about 8-10 minutes.

Makes 12 cookies.

My recipe originally published on The Calgary Journal food blog.

Miso Potato Soup

We love fusion foods in our house! This one was easy. By using miso as the primary seasoning, this Eastern European soup is given a Japanese twist. The fusion results in a satisfying richness.

Miso Potato Soup

3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
4 Yukon Gold or Red potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups water
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp white miso
1 tsp Vegeta or seasoning salt
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of fresh chives

1. First make a roux, a basic thickening agent, by combining equal amounts of olive oil and flour. Heat oil on high in a large pot. When oil is hot, turn heat down to medium. Add the flour gradually and stir constantly. It should be smooth with no lumps. Keep stirring until the flour is light brown. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
2. Remove from heat and add the water. Be very careful not to splash yourself as the roux will be extremely hot.
3. Add potatoes and bay leaves to pot. Cover the potatoes with salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and can be easily pierced with a fork.
4. Remove soup from heat. Take out the Bay leaves and discard. Use a potato masher to combine the miso with the potatoes. Mash until soup is thick and creamy.
5. Add vegeta, salt and pepper. Taste soup and see if you would like to add more seasonings.
6. Sprinkle each serving of soup with fresh chives.
Serves 4.

What are your favourite fusion foods?

Spicy Potato Curry

We love curry, but prefer to create our own blend of spices. Paired with the coconut milk, they help create a fiery yet sweet potato curry. If you like your curry really hot, feel free to amp up the cayenne pepper!

Spicy Potato Curry

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (Increase for more heat)
1 can (2 cups) organic chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 can (398 mL) coconut milk
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Place peeled and chopped potatoes into a medium-sized pot. Cover potatoes with salted water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain.
2. While potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions in oil until translucent, about 5 minutes.
3. Add garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the salt, pepper, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala and cayenne pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add the potatoes and chickpeas. Sir in the tomato sauce and fresh lemon juice.
6. Add coconut milk and allow curry to simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Taste curry and add more garam masala, cayenne pepper, salt or black pepper if desired.
Serves 4.

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Originally published in Culinaire Magazine.

Smoked Cheese Potato Croquettes

Croquettes, or “kroketi” if you are Croatian, are small, deep-fried rolls usually made with potatoes that can be filled with anything you’d like. We’re obsessed with double-smoked cheddar cheese and will find an excuse to put it in any dish, but feel free to add veggies like onions or mushrooms. The possibilities are endless!

Consider making these crispy, delicious rolls as a snack the next time you have leftover mashed potatoes!


Mashed Potatoes

4 potatoes
1 Tbs margarine or butter
1 Tbs milk

Croquettes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup double-smoked cheddar cheese, finely grated


If using leftover mashed potatoes, skip steps 1-3.

1. Peel and chop potatoes. Cook potatoes in salted, boiling water in a medium-sized pot for 30 minutes. When potatoes are soft enough to be pierced with a fork, strain and return to pot.
2. Add margarine and milk to potatoes and mash until smooth.
3. Let mashed potatoes cool until they can be handled.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, egg yolk, flour, salt and grated cheese. Mix by hand until smooth, then roll out mixture into a long log. Cut log into small rolls that are approximately 2 cm thick and 4 cm wide.
5. Set up a breading station. Beat remaining egg into a small bowl and place the breadcrumbs on a plate. Dip each croquette into the egg mixture, then roll through breadcrumbs until croquette is well covered.
6. Heat canola oil in a large skillet. Fry each croquette in oil until brown on both sides, about 4 minutes of frying on each side. Fry in small batches, cooking about eight at a time. Do not overcrowd pan.
7. Place on paper towels to drain.

Enjoy with Ajvar, a red pepper spread!

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Recipe originally published in Culinaire Magazine.

Caramelized Butternut Squash Soup

So we may or may not have had to buy a second bag of Halloween candy because we ate most of it before it was time for trick-or-treating… Next year we’re not buying candy until October 31st!

Now that Halloween is over, we’ve been craving wholesome meals made with plenty of vegetables. This creamy butternut squash soup is made with carrots and parsnips so it’s a nice immune system booster and really hits the spot when it’s -10 C in Calgary!

Caramelized Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium Butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (2-3 pounds)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
2 cups light coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (or less if using vegetable broth with sodium)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)
A dash of chili pepper flakes (optional)

1. Melt the butter or margarine in a heavy skillet. Add the diced squash and cook without stirring until browned underneath, about 6 minutes. Then stir the squash and cook until browned on all sides, about 4 more minutes. Remove from the skillet.
2. Melt the coconut oil in the same skillet and add chopped onion, parsnip and carrots. Saute for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the caramelized squash, onion, parsnip and carrots to a large pot. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, or more if needed, until vegetables are covered by a layer of the vegetable stock. Add coriander, salt and pepper.
3. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. When vegetables are cooked, remove from heat and stir in 2 cups of coconut milk.
4. Puree the mixture in batches until smooth. Return to pot.
5. Warm up the soup before serving and add more vegetable stock if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve with a fresh french baguette and a scoop of sour cream if desired.

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Pumpkin Spice Muffins

So you may have noticed we’ve been on a pumpkin baking kick lately, ie. pumpkin mini muffins and pumpkin bread with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. We tried to balance out all the baked goods with a healthy pumpkin soup, but it was a DISASTER. We tried to make it savoury, then realized it tasted better sweet. We tried to correct our mistake…. but it was no good. It was a sad day for pumpkins everywhere. So this time around, we decided to continue baking with pumpkin because you can’t go wrong. Sugar has a way of making everything better, doesn’t it?

Serve these on Halloween! Fresh from the oven muffins would be wonderful after returning from trick-or-treating with the kids. Or on your own. Or from getting a blast of cold air every time you open the door to give out candy. That takes work too.


Pumpkin Spice Muffins

2 large free run eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with Halloween-themed muffin cups.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, all spice, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and oil. Add pumpkin puree and stir until combined. Stir in flour mixture until combined.
4. Spoon the batter into muffin cups, and bake for 20 to 22 minutes in the center of the oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
5. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from pan. Let cool before serving.

These muffins are excellent on their own, but even better with orange cream cheese frosting!

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the orange juice and orange zest and mix until incorporated.
2. Spread the frosting and decorate muffins.

Makes 12 – 14 muffins.

Pumpkin Banana Bread with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

We decided to add a fall touch to our banana bread recipe by adding pumpkin puree, pumpkin spices and smothering it in a delicious cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Make this bread with our pumpkin puree!

Pumpkin Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup melted organic coconut oil
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 free run egg, beaten or egg replacer equal to one egg
1.5 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mash bananas in a large bowl. Add melted coconut oil and mix well with a wooden spoon.
3. Mix in the sugar, egg and pumpkin.
4. Combine flour, baking soda, baking soda and spices in a small bowl. Mix together and fold into the wet ingredients. Mix well and pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees F.
5. It’s done when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and then take the bread out of the pan. Cool completely before slicing.

Cinnamon cream cheese frosting

1 package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the spices and mix until incorporated.
2. Spread the frosting on the pumpkin loaves.

Makes two loaves.

Pumpkin Mini Muffins

Halloween means many things to me. It means watching The Nightmare Before Christmas with my father, making a costume I’ve been planning since August, looking for the scariest Halloween decorations because when I was little I hated “cutesy” decorations, gorging on chocolate intended for trick-or-treaters, imagining the streets coming alive at night, and baking with my mother. This is one of the Halloween recipes we like to make. Use our pumpkin puree from last week!

These pumpkin mini muffins are oil free, low in fat and 1/4 of the size of a regular muffin so it’s totally okay to have 12 of them. At least that’s what I tell myself. That’s the problem with mini muffins… how can you eat just one?? They’re so tiny!

Top these with strawberry jam and drink with a big glass of almond milk!

Pumpkin mini muffins

3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup apple sauce
2 tbsp chia seeds with 1/2 cup water
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease paper liners.
2. Mix chia seeds with 1/2 cup water until smooth. The chia gel acts as a binder and the superfood adds protein, fiber and omega 3 to the muffins. In a bowl, mix the chia seeds with cane sugar and apple sauce. Add pumpkin and 1/4 cup water.
3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
4. Add the wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
5. Grease muffin cups with oil. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
6. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes at 350 F. Take care not to burn the muffins.

Makes 36 mini muffins.

For regular-sized muffins, bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see if they’re done with a toothpick.


My recipe originally appeared on The Calgary Journal food blog.

– Silvia

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