Vegan Whole Wheat Oat Bread

Bread time! Vegan bread, time. To be honest, it’s only vegan out of necessity, but hey, I like vegan, so I’m good with that. I don’t keep regular milk in the house, so my almond milk would have to do for this.

It’s a pretty simple recipe, took me no time to put together, and allowed me to smell freshly baking bread (which is even better than eating bread in my opinion… go ahead, call me crazy).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond milk (or soy–or 2%, if you aren’t interested in vegan)
  • 1/2 packet of yeast (about 1.25 tsp)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 and a 1/4 cups whole wheat all-purpose flour (additional for kneading)
  • 1/4 cup of oatmeal (plus additional for sprinkling on top, optional)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary (optional, but I think it would be lovely with a bread for dinner, or a healthy lunch sandwich)
  • non-stick cooking spray

Warm the almond milk in a small saucepan to no more than 100 degrees F (40 degrees C). Sprinkle the yeast over-top and let stand until the yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam, about 5 minutes; stir in the sugar.

Whisk the whole wheat flour, oatmeal, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour the milk mixture into the well. Stir until the dough has pulled together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-6 minutes should do it.Image

Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a light cloth and let rise in a warm place (80 to 95 F) until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.

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My warm place happened to be my NOT TURNED ON oven.

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The size it was, post 45 minute rising.

Grease a 8×4-inch loaf pan. Deflate the dough (I just gave mine a good punch in the centre, strangely therapeutic :P) and turn it out onto a lightly-floured surface. Shape it into a loaf and let it rest for 10 minutes. Place into the prepared pan, brush with the tiniest bit of olive oil (or honey, if you want a sweeter bread), then sprinkle with a tiny bit of oats and pat them into the surface gently (UPDATE: you can most definitely go for olive oil or honey as a topping and get a wonderful flavour, but neither makes anything stick. To see what does, see my post on experimenting with bread). Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.

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Preheat an oven to 350 F, then bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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Does this not look amazing?! I expected it to be more dense, but it turned out pleasantly light and crusty. A truly scrumptious vegan bread.

-Happy Cooking!

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Mini Chicken Pot Pies

I’m leaving for the Caribbean on Sunday, so I figured I’d do up one more recipe for my grandpa before I head down, and throw it into the freezer. This one is a bit easier than the beef pot pies I did before, but just as flavourful and comforting. And cute and tiny. But with no pesky left over filling!

I used the extra pie crust I made double of and froze for the beef pot pies, but just in case you didn’t see that post, here it is. Go ahead and use the same pie crust method, or buy a frozen one.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 (10 oz) can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 and a half cups of mixed frozen vegetables, thawed
  • a few teaspoons of dried rosemary.

Begin by prepping your pie crust, and then set aside.

To cook the chicken, dice it into about 2 cm square cubes and fry with a little bit of vegetable oil and a pinch of rosemary in batches in a large skillet. Please do not over crowd the pan, just be patient, and cook your chicken in 2 or 3 batches. 

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When you’re finished each batch, set it on a plate covered in paper towel to drain off any excess oil, and pat dry.

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Once you’re done that, put a teaspoon of rosemary in a bowl, and combine it well with the canned soup, the vegetables, and the chicken. I found this method easier than putting the dry ingredients into the pies first, then layering the soup over them, as I had a hard time not ripping the pastry while combining them, what with the small crusts.

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Distribute evenly between the crusts.

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Use remaining crust dough to cover the pies, and crimp the edges with a fork, and put slits in the top.

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Now, bake in an oven preheated oven at 400 F for 35 minutes, or freeze and then cook, thawed (which will take all day, so take it out in the morning) whenever you have a hankering for chicken pot pie.

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-Happy Cooking!

Yoghurt Berry Explosion

I have, pretty much, the biggest sweet tooth in existence. I’m being serious here, it’s ridiculous. However, I’m quite good at finding food which is decently healthy, but can still kick your sweet-tooth’s butt, so I’m not too worried 😛 This is probably my favourite snack…dessert, breakfast, whenever you want to eat it, it’s goooooood.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of frozen raspberries
  • 4 tbsp non-fat plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp raspberry jam

NOTE: this recipe is really versatile, these are just the ingredients I chose. You can switch them out for any other type of frozen berries and jam, or go for flavoured Greek yoghurt and skip the jam. This is just my favourite flavour combination. You do, however, need frozen berries to get this consistency. When they thaw a little bit, they release liquid which thins out the Greek yoghurt a bit.

Method:

Put the frozen berries in microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 30 seconds. Spoon the yoghurt and jam over the berries, and stir until well mixed.

Very simple, healthy, high in protein because of the use of Greek yoghurt, and really sweet and delicious.

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Frozen blueberries release that crazy purple colour, which I find wonderfully girly! 

-Happy Cooking!

Asian Spiced Pork Chops

Back at it the meat making for my grandpa tonight. Cooking is relaxing, what can I say!

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(I’m doubling the recipe to make enough for two people, although I only cooked for one)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pork chops, about a half inch thick
  • half cup of your favourite broth
  • half cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger

Method:

Bring the broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the mushrooms, and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, 1 tsp sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes, then set aside.

Heat the olive oil and remaining 1 tsp of sesame seeds  in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the pork chops, and brown for about 2 minutes on each side. Add the garlic and ginger; cook and stir until you can smell the garlic. Stir in the soy sauce mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered.

Stir the mushrooms and chicken broth into the pan with the pork chops, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce has reduced by about 1/3, and the pork chops are cooked through.

To serve, place pork chops onto serving plates, and spoon equal amounts of the mushroom sauce over them. My grandpa really loved this one, guys!

-Happy Cooking!

Pesto Potatoes (as part of a quick, week night meal)

My grandpa was looking for inspiration for dinner tonight, not knowing what he felt like, so I looked in our sadly sparse fridge, and found what I needed to make a simple supper.

Ingredients:

  • A largely cubed potato (one which was left over from the beef pot pie)
  • Pesto

I threw the potato chunks in a bag, tossed them with a heaping tablespoon of pesto, and roasted them on a pan, covered in foil, with parmesan cheese sprinkled on them in a 450 F oven for 30 minutes. 

If you’re making for more than one person, do a potato each, and a heaping tablespoon of pesto for each. 

To make the rest of the dinner, I seared some beef, cut in very thin strips, in a pan oven medium high heat with some garlic and herb Mrs. Dash, and he microwaved some frozen corn. The pesto potatoes were definitely the most exciting part 😀

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I apologize for my sub-par photography :/

 

Beef Pot Pies (Yes, two!)

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t do meat, so I was pulling out the latex gloves for this recipe, requested by my grandpa. Only until the touching of the raw meat was done, then I was good 😛

Because there is only one meat eater here, I made these small, so a whole pie isn’t sitting in the fridge for days after it’s been made. Therefore, I ended up with two adorably small pies. Image

Seriously, how cute are they?!

Anyway, I started off with a home made crust for these, but you can use a store bought one. I like doing things from scratch though 🙂

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
  • 1/4 cup ice water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Roll out when you need it. I doubled the recipe and froze half for another time.
The recipe I found for this pie comes off my favourite food site, All Recipes, and I made one small change to it, just because I felt like it. I probably could have made it a little smaller, as I had a bit of left over filling, but not enough for it to matter. This is all I needed:
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It was pretty simple.
Filling ingredients:
  • 2 cups diced cooked potatoes
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups diced cooked beef
  • 1 (10 ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

To cook the beef, I cut it in small chunks (maybe 2 square centimetres?) and browned it in a pot with a couple teaspoons of canola oil, and I just boiled the potatoes until tender.

Put the potatoes, vegetables, and beef in a bowl and mix, being careful not to crush the potatoes. Image

Next, mix the soup, water, thyme, rosemary, and Worcestershire sauce in a second bowl. It will make a very thick sauce, which you will spoon over the mixture, after you have spooned it evenly into the pie crusts.

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I made sure to carefully lift the beef, vegetables and potatoes to allow for the mixture to be spread evenly throughout the pie.

You will have lots left over with the crust recipe for this to cover the pies (after you cut off the excess and re-roll it), so roll it out and place over the pies, crimping the edges with a fork and making slits in the top.

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I froze mine so my grandpa can make them when he wants to, but if you’re doing them right away, bake them in a 400 F oven for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

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 Update:

Papa loved the one he had for supper tonight. Cooked up beautifully!

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-Happy cooking!

Healthy Granola Bars

I LOVE GRANOLA BARS. A lot. They’re delicious and crunchy and portable, but the store bought ones, while delicious (Nature Valley Oats ‘n’ Honey Crunchy Granola Bars, anyone?? I would eat only those for the rest of my life if I could), are usually pretty sugar laden. So, I searched and searched to find a recipe that made a low sugar recipe, and even when I did, I still had to modify it a bit. So I give you, the healthiest, yummiest granola bars I could find 🙂

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I put cashews in mine, because they’re my favourite type of nuts and I buy tubs of them in bulk, but you can use whatever nuts or seeds you like, or leave them out! I do sometimes. The bars alone are delicious 😀

Adapted from skinnytaste.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (or vegan margarine if you would prefer)
  • 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1 large egg (If I’m out of eggs I use about 3 tbsp of non-fat plain greek yogurt, or 3 tbsp of unsweetened applasauce)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews*

*You can replace these with other nuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, dried fruit of any kind, coconut… really, go nuts and personalize these to suit your taste 🙂

Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a 9×9 inch pan with foil, so that some comes up over the edges for easy removal. Spray the pan lightly with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together your whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, with a mixer (or a rubber spatula if you don’t want to pull out a mixer) cream together the butter and the sugar on medium speed.  Then beat in the egg (or chosen substitute) followed by the apple sauce and vanilla extract.

Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the cashews (or whatever you are using in their place).

Spoon oats onto prepared baking dish, flattening to make an even layer . Bake for about 23-25 minutes, or until light brown at the edges. Do it this way if you prefer chewier bars, but I prefer them a bit crunchier, so I leave them in for an extra two minutes (27 in total).

Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting them, otherwise you will have a hard time cutting them (which should be done with a long serrated knife). You can either do 16 bars like I did, or sixteen squares. Or 8 large bars or squares 😀

-Happy Cooking!