One-Pot Brown Rice Paella

Before doing this recipe, I was looking up substitutions for saffron because of the high cost. Some people recommended turmeric and paprika for colour, but nobody had a solid solution for a replicate flavour. I sucked it up and bought saffron, and while it isn’t the highlighted taste in this dish, it definitely adds a unique element of its own. If you’re looking to go the frugal route, feel free to sub out the saffron, though traditional paella does have it.

I’ve been reaping the benefits of my garden closer to the end of the summer, and finally got a nice small harvest the other day (photo below). I managed to use the tomatoes in the paella, I’m throwing the swiss chard into a recipe for next week, and I’m undecided about the eggplant and zucchini. I’ve got an abundance of those so suggestions are very welcome!

Vegetable Garden August 2015

I used my new Circulon Jumbo Cooker and it was perfect for paella. Deep dish, non-stick and easy to load in a ton of veg without worrying about overflow. As a plus, it’s dishwasher safe so the one-pot dish becomes even easier.

I lightly adapted this recipe from The Kitchn. This recipe appealed to me because of the brown rice and my new found love for it. I just changed the cooking instructions a bit when making it so that it could all fit into one pot.

Brown Rice Paella

Ingredients

Serves 4 as a main course

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small Romanian pepper, sliced (any other bell pepper will do)
  • 3/4 cups fresh cherry tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. hot paprika
  • Large pinch of saffron
  • 3/4 cup sliced artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (I used canned)
  • 1 1/3 cups parboiled short-grain brown rice
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup peas (I used frozen, fresh is even better)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley sprigs, broken apart

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with plenty of room, and sauté the onions until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic slices and peppers. Cook until soft on medium-low heat, 5-7 minutes. Turn up the heat a notch and mix in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, hot paprika, saffron threads, and season generously with salt and black pepper. Let it cook for a few minutes until everything has has a change to lightly simmer and mingle.

Fold in the green beans, artichoke slices, and chickpeas. Next, stir in the rice and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and allow to heavily simmer for 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid has just evaporated. Give it a stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure to rice burns along the bottom. A few minutes before the rice is fully cooked, mix in the peas. Sprinkle parsley evenly on top just before serving, and your paella is ready for the dinner table!

Keep any leftovers stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.


Full disclosure: Circulon offered me their Jumbo Cooker in exchange for a unique recipe post using their product.

Brown Rice Paella

Brown Rice Paella

Gluten-Free Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’m done with all-purpose gluten-free flour. But…didn’t you just use it in this recipe? YES, fine. I did. And you know what? Even with fresh zucchini I grew myself, loads of cinnamon, sugar and chocolate chips, that grainy, unfortunately familiar texture was still there. That doesn’t mean all gluten-free baked goods taste this way, it’s just that the all-purpose store bought stuff has let me down.

Let’s be clear on something: I bake gluten-free items because my mom is intolerant. Not because I think it’s trendy, healthy, or anything like that, because it’s really not any healthier than a balanced glutenous diet. If you don’t have a reason to avoid gluten, I’d recommend using whole wheat flour for this recipe, or a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose. I know, Wheat Belly scared you, but you’ll be OK if you have a sandwich here and there.

That being said, if you do need to bake gluten-free, I’d say start making your own mixes. Brown rice flour seems to be consistent in flavour and texture. Same with oat flour—you can literally grind up oats to make your own and it works in all sorts of recipes. I like chickpea flour, but it has a tendency to dry out, so make sure you use that in recipes that are rich in moisture-boosting ingredients: bananas, yogurt, etc.

If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, you know the amazingness that is tossing in mass quantities of food and having it shred in seconds. If you don’t, get one (seriously) because grating food by hand is for chumps. Of all the kitchen tasks, grating is probably my least favourite. That, and putting away dishes.

I adapted this recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

Gluten Free Zucchini Muffins

Gluten Free Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour or a homemade blend of GF flours (see above)
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp. fine grain salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/3 cups fresh zucchini, grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin tray, or place individual paper liners in each cup, and set aside.

In a large bowl, gently mix the flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl, add about 1 teaspoon of the dry ingredients to the chips and toss to combine. Set the chips aside.

To the flour mixture, add the granulated sugar and brown sugar, and whisk to combine. Add 1 1/4 cups of the grated zucchini to the dry ingredients, and mix gently to combine. Set aside the dry ingredients.

Place the remaining zucchini, the eggs, oil, yogurt and vanilla in a blender, and pulse until well-blended and smooth. Create a well in the center of the bowl of dry ingredients, and add the wet ingredients to the mixture. The batter will be very wet. Add about 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips and reserved dry ingredients to the batter and mix until the chips are evenly distributed throughout the batter. Scoop batter evenly into muffin tins, sprinkling the remaining chocolate chips on top.

Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Muffins are fully cooked with a toothpick can be inserted and removed without any visible batter on the end. Place on a metal wire rack to cool completely before storing.

Gluten Free Zucchini Muffins

Try not to let the chips burn like I did!

Try not to let the chips burn like I did!

Ice Cream Sandwiches

This Sunday is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day (why does this exist). In honour of this ridiculous holiday, I’ve decided to try out two things I’ve always wanted to do: making my own ice cream, and then sandwiching it between two home-baked cookies. Technically I think the “national” part is referring to the States, but us Canadians can borrow it.

I got my boyfriend this little ice cream maker as a birthday present last year and ever since I’ve been thinking up ideas for flavours. I won’t bore you with all of them, but I thought peanut butter, root beer and pistachio would all do nicely. I was so excited to put it to the test, but come cooking time I was missing a piece so ended up using store-bought ice cream that I melted down into a baking sheet and cut into shapes once frozen. I know, not as exciting, I’m also disappointed. But I’m still planning on making ice cream soon and you can use whatever recipe/flavour you want for this.

Since I was going to be sandwiching (apparently this is my new favourite verb) the ice cream, I decided to go the simple route and avoid any overly creative flavours. Plain vanilla worked fine, and it gives you the option to use candy, sprinkles and chocolate chips as coating. I was hoping to show a bit more of the coating I had planned like shredded coconut, skor bits, etc. but the photos turned out to be a pain with the heat wave going on in Toronto (note the melted ice cream).

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ingredients

Makes roughly 8 sandwiches

  • 4 cups of any homemade or store-bought ice cream of your choice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4+ tbsp. water

For the cookies:

Method

IF MAKING YOUR OWN: Follow the instructions on the ice cream maker. Each one will vary, but it will most likely say that you have to put the bowl of the machine in the freezer for a minimum of 12 hours. Your recipe won’t work otherwise so don’t try to shorten the time to 2 hours and cry when you have a sweet puddly mess.

Get ice cream to a room-temperature level. Pour into a clean, non-stick baking sheet, and stick in the freezer. If you want taller sandwiches, pick a container with high sides such as Tupperware or casserole dishes.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together shortening and sugar with electric beaters for 2 minutes until well mixed. Add baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, instant coffee, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Mix in 1 cup of the flour, using your hands if necessary, followed by 2 tablespoons of water, and then add the remaining 1 cup flour and another 2 tablespoons of water, mixing well until no dry ingredients remain. Make sure the flour is mixed in each time before adding the water; I made this mistake, and had to pick out white bits of doughy flour that had become gummy. Once mixed, the dough should be soft and consistent—add one or two more tablespoons of water if needed.

On a lightly floured surface, turn out half the dough and roll it to an even 1/4-inch thickness. Using a ruler and a rotary cutter, cut dough into 3-inch squares. Feel free to use cookie cutters for fun shapes as well.

Kitchen Counter

Transfer cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a thin skewer, poke an even pattern of holes on each cookie’s surface. After a few trial-and-error ones, I worked out that 16 was my magic number. You’ll figure yours out. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling scraps as you work. Place sheets of cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.

Bake 7 to 8 minutes, or until tops are matte and cookies are just set. Try not to overbake, or you won’t achieve that chewiness in classic ice cream sandwich cookies.

Remove from oven and let cookies cool 2 to 3 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to cooling racks to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate or freeze cookies until ready to use.

To assemble sandwiches, remove ice cream from freezer and cut into 3-inch squares or the shape of whatever cutter you used. Place each ice cream piece between two chilled cookies, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and place in freezer until ready to eat. You can get creative and roll each one in coatings just as candy, sprinkles, coconut, mini chocolate chips, etc.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches


Three Year Blogiversary!

3 year blog

To all my hungry readers,

It’s officially been three years since my first post to The Vegetarian Ginger. It really doesn’t feel like that much time has passed, but when I look at some of my first posts I can see how long I’ve come (and how long I have to go).

There have been a couple of big moments in the past year. I think one of my favourites was just recently when the Koopa Shell Cake Pops made the front page of reddit. I got lots of people telling me they loved me, and one person who said that my boyfriend and I were “complete trash” for liking something so childish. Oh, the Internet. Always a thrill.

reddit koopa

Another big moment for me was that I got some original recipes published by the CBC. I’ve been hoping to take my blogging and cooking into more career-focused areas and getting those published was a really great feeling.

There’s definitely still a lot I want to improve on. Frequency of posts, more informative nutritional charts, doing some giveaways…the next year has a lot in store. I also seem to be the only food blogger left on the face of the earth that doesn’t have Instagram, but at this point I really can’t be bothered. I know it would probably connect me with a ton more food bloggers and I could ultimately reach a wider audience, buuuut I’m also not feeling having one more platform to update.

I really appreciate everybody who takes the time to read my posts. I know a lot of them end up rambling on about something non-food related and by the time I’m done I have no idea what I’m putting up (sound familiar?) but it really does make me happy to know people are reading my weird little posts, cooking up some of my recipes and sharing their experiences with me.

Happy cooking, eating and falling asleep in assorted places around the house from food comas,

Veronica Sheppard

Classic Falafel

If your hands aren’t dirty in the process of making falafels, you’re doing it wrong.

I’m coming up to my three year blogiversary this weekend which is unbelievable. I started this blog to showcase a bit of my cooking and use it as a portfolio piece for work, but it has ended up being so much more than that. It makes me plan meals in advance, it’s helped me become a part of an online community I would have missed out on otherwise, and it’s taught me a lot in terms of writing and photography.

I lightly adapted this recipe from Canadian Living’s The Vegetarian Collection which is by far my favourite veg-focused cookbook to date. Every recipe is a knockout, the photos are awesome, and it’s under $25.

I was out of lemon juice so I used the liquid from pickled jalapenos instead for a bit of a kick in flavour and spice. The photos themselves are a bit less-than-par because I ran out of time. The original photo was supposed to have all the fresh herbs, sliced radish, yada yada…it didn’t happen. But I promise you the final result is amazing and you can reheat them for days afterwards!

Vegetarian Falafel

Ingredients

Makes roughly 24 pieces

  • 2 (19oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsely, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. juice from pickled jalapenos OR freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Grapeseed oil for frying
  • Pitas of your choice
  • Recommended garnish: fresh parsley, sliced radish, tahini, hot sauce, arugula

Method

In the bowl of a food processor, chop chickpeas, onion, parsley and garlic for about 30 seconds. Add flour, cumin, baking powder, jalapeno juice and salt; pulse until blended for 10 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Shape by taking 1 tablespoon and rolling into even balls, placing them on the wax-lined tray. Once completed, let refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours to let the flavours develop and for the texture to firm up for frying.

Pour enough oil into a deep frying pan to cover 2 inches and heat to 350 degrees F. If you don’t have a frying thermometer, drop a small amount of the falafel batter in to see if it begins sizzling quickly. If it doesn’t the oil isn’t ready. Fry in batches, letting each one reach a golden brown; about 2-3 minutes on each side. Drain on a paper towel-lined tray and serve stuffed into pitas, sandwiches, and your face.

Vegetarian Falafel

Vegetarian Falafel

Koopa Shell Cake Pops

If you’re a fan of Mario Kart, get excited.

Koopa shell cake pops are not the easiest dessert I’ve ever made, but damn do they look (and taste) good. In previous years I’ve made various baked goods for my boyfriend’s birthday (like this Hobbit Hole Cake, last year’s Hamburger Cupcakes, or my stint with fondant for Sushi Cupcakes), but I wanted to one-up myself.

I strongly recommend making the cake balls the night before and doing the decorating the next day—doing both in the same day would take a lot more time and patience than the average person possesses. Also, for the love of god, do not try to blast the candy melts on high heat. Learn from my mistakes. I ended up with a giant clumpy brown mess of burnt chocolate that needed to go in the garbage.

I bought cake mix and all of my icing because it’s a pretty tricky recipe as is and I didn’t want to risk any complications. It also saved me some time. Candy melts, icing, Wilton tips, lollipop sticks, foam blocks and couplers can all be found at Bulk Barn or specialty baking stores. You’ll have to excuse the lack of step-by-step photos, I was coated in chocolate, icing and needed to get them done. I did however do my best to give crystal clear instructions and if there’s anything that seems confusing, shoot me an e-mail or comment on the post and I’ll answer your questions!

I’m coming up on my three year blogiversary in a few weeks! I’ve got a bunch of new recipes coming and some news, stories and giveaways, so make sure to check back to catch all that sweet foodie goodness.

I got this amazing idea from Rosanna Pansino of Nerdy Nummies. I altered a few things like subbing out fondant, but kept things pretty much the same and I’m really happy with the result. I wish I had learned a better technique for piping the hexagons earlier on in the pop- making process so they looked a bit cleaner, but I can’t complain.

Koopa Shell Cake Pops

 

Koopa Shell Cake Pops

Ingredients

Makes 40 cake pops

  • 1 (432g) box cake mix of your choice (I used Betty Crocker Devil’s Food one but you can use any brand or flavour), baked as directed and cooled completely
  • 3 tbsp. instant coffee
  • 1 (450g) container of chocolate frosting (same goes for this—any brand or flavour will do)
  • 50 tall lollipop sticks
  • 3 cups white candy melts
  • 1 cup red candy melts
  • 1 cup green candy melts
  • 1 cup blue candy melts
  • 2 (120g) tubes of white decorating frosting
  • 1 (120g) tube of red decorative frosting
  • 1 (120g) tube of green decorative frosting
  • 1 (120g) tube of blue decorative frosting
  • A Wilton #2 piping tip + coupler
  • A Wilton #230 piping tip + coupler
  • 1/2 cup mini white chocolate chips
  • Foam/styrofoam blocks for drying

Method

The first thing you need to do is bake your cake mix as directed with the addition of 3 tablespoons of instant coffee mixed in, and allow the cake the cool completely. Crumb the cake by cutting it into four and rubbing the pieces together until the entire cake is fine crumbs; you may have to cut the edges off if they got a little crispy in the oven. With a large spoon, spatula or (my favourite tool) your hands, mix in 3/4 of the icing container into the cake crumbs. Mix until well combined and a rich, thick dough is formed.

Roll out dough into roughly 1 1/2 inch balls, then place on a wax or parchment lined baking sheet. Pop these in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours  or overnight to make sure they’re well chilled. Don’t skip this step!

Heat candy melts in a microwave-safe measuring cup or mug on a very low power setting, stirring every 20 seconds. if the melted chocolates are too thick, add in a few drops of vegetable oil at a time until smooth.

That rule applies for the rest of the instructions whenever I refer to melting the candy melts. Don’t try to be a hero and microwave them on high heat, they will burn and you will cry tears of rage. Moving forward!

Once your balls are well chilled, heat a small portion of the white candy melts (about 1/4 cup) until they are smoothly melted and no clumps remain. Using one of the lollipop sticks, make holes in the cake balls that go about half way down the centre on top. Dip the tip of the stick in the melted chocolate and insert it into the hole. Repeat until all cake balls have dipped sticks in them.

Melt your remaining white candy melts as instructed above. Holding the cake pop by the stick, dip the cake ball in the melts until completely covered—drip the excess back into the mug by tapping the stick on the edge of your cup/mug. Place the stick in a foam block to hold it in place and allow it to dry. Repeat with remaining pops and allow to dry for 10 minutes.

Divide your white dipped cake pops into thirds (you’ll have one extra…the chef always needs a taste test right?). Heat red candy melts as instructed above. Holding the cake pop by the stick, dip the cake ball into the melt halfway, leaving the top half red and the bottom half white. Drip off the excess, place back into the foam block, and repeat. Do the same for the green and blue melts.

Don't mind the horrible phone camera quality for a smartphone in 2015.

Don’t mind the horrible phone camera quality for a smartphone in 2015.

Now you are ready to decorate! Using a tube of the white decorative icing and a Wilton tip #230, grab a cake pop of your liking. Ice around the dividing line between the colour and the white melt halfway around the cake pop, making to arcs on opposite sides (see photos for clarification). Do this with each one. Using a Wilton tip #2, pipe hexagon patterns to mimic a Koopa shell on the tops of each cake pop in their respective colours—red for red, blue for blue…you get the point. Rinse out the tip between each colour change to avoid colour mix-ups.

Using the #2 tip, use a tube of black decorative icing to fill in the “arcs” you iced earlier; this is supposed to be where the turtle’s head would poke out. Using the same #2 tip (remember to rinse it out before the colour switch), using the white decorative icing to pipe 4-5 white horizontal lines across the “belly” of the turtle.

This last step is only for the blue shelled pops: take your mini white chocolate chips, pipe a tiny amount of white icing to the bottom and place 5-6 chips on each Koopa shell evenly.

Koopa Shell Cake Pops

You’re all done! Go massage your hands, take a shower, nap, have a drink and relax.

Koopa Shell Cake Pops

Super Seedy Granola

Making your own granola is surprisingly easy, fast and a huge money-saver. This recipe is very flexible to your personal tastes and takes minimal effort—just pop it in the oven  and shift it around once in a while. I’ve made other granolas with pumpkin and walnuts and one with mango, but this time around I wanted something lightly sweetened that I could eat for a protein boost any time of day.

I am going to be posting some amazing desserts next week, but since they’re for my boyfriend’s birthday I need to keep it a secret until then. Trust me, you’re going to want to make them.  I’ve posted some of my experiments for his birthday in the past, and every time I do I always get great responses.

For any of my more regular readers, I apologize for my lack of posts lately and everything is back on track now. Can’t wait to show you all what I’ve been working on and to see your creations as well!

Super Seedy Granola

Ingredients

  • 3 cups large flake oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. fine grain salt

Method

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut and seeds. In a separate bowl, whisk together maple syrup, oil and salt. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well.

Spread the mixture on two ungreased baking sheets and bake for an hour and a half, stirring every 20 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking for even colour. Once finished, allow to cool then store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 weeks.

Super Seedy Granola

Chive Flower Dumplings

Chives are the lowest maintenance garden herb and they grow back every year in full force. It was only this year that it dawned on me—are the purple flowers that grow on them edible too? I took it to Google and everyone said yes. I tried it out and I’m still alive, so there’s my answer. While in my search I found lots of recipes for tempura chive flowers and salads where the flowers are used as a garnish, but not many dumplings. The flavour isn’t over bearing or anything, but it adds a nice light chive flavour and they look so damn pretty.

I have been staring at the steamer attachment for my rice cooker for years, and it’s just sat in the furnace room of my basement, untouched, the entire time. I finally decided to use it for this recipe and it was really handy. Though I will admit in photos the steamed dumplings don’t look as appetizing as the fried ones, they are equally as good if not better. I know there are ways of putting together makeshift steamers with pots and colanders, so if you don’t have a rice cooker not to worry.

This recipe can easily be doubled for larger crowds. They also freeze very well if you have leftovers.

Chive Flower Dumplings

Ingredients

Makes 24 dumplings

  • 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • Generous drizzle of Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chives, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup chives flowers, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 200g package of square wonton wrappers
  • A small bowl of water
  • A clean damp tea towel

Method

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat; add a small amount of oil. Add onion and ginger, stirring until strong aromas begin to come off the pan. Add mushrooms and carrot, continuing to stir until all the ingredients have softened. Shake in salt, five-spice powder, sesame seeds, hot sauce and soy sauce. Add chives and chive flowers, making sure everything is well mixed, cooking for another 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and place mixture in a colander to strain excess liquid. Once slightly cooled, add cilantro and sesame oil.

Now for the fun part! Open up your package of wonton wrappers and take out 3-4 wrappers, leaving the rest of the wrappers in the packaging to ensure they don’t dry out. Dip your finger in a small amount of water and trace it along the edges of your wrapper—this will act as glue to hold everything together. Place 1 teaspoon of your mixture in the centre of the wrapper, and fold over one corner onto the opposite one, creating a triangle. Pinch the edges tightly to ensure no leaking will happen when cooking. Once this is done, set your dumpling aside in a clean, dry spot and cover with a slightly damp tea towel so the edges don’t harden and crack. Repeat this process until all of your mixture is used up.

To steam: Lightly coat a steaming attachment for a rice cooker with sesame oil and fill the bowl of the cooker with 1 1/2 cups of water. Place a single layer of dumplings on the greased steaming tray, close the lid, and let the rice cooker do it’s magic. When they’re finished, they should be see-through and soft. This will take roughly 20 minutes.

Steamed Chive Flower Dumplings

To pan fry: Heat a skillet over high heat. Add a generous amount of vegetable oil with a few drops of sesame oil in the mix. Once the pan is hot, cook 4-5 dumplings at a time, turning over after roughly 60 seconds. You should have a nice golden brown finish and crispy, bubbled edges.

Fried Chive Dumplings

Flourless Banana-Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins

This is a seriously healthy muffin (besides the chocolate chips, but you gotta live a little). Only a quarter cup of coconut sugar for the entire batch. Flourless. Greek yogurt. Hemp. All good things. Not like one of those muffins that is actually a cupcake disguised as breakfast—you’re not fooling me, Starbucks.

These didn’t rise as much so they turned out sort of like pucks instead of raised muffins, but the flavour is all there and the texture is still nice and fluffy. I like to warm them up for a few minutes in the oven or a few seconds in the microwave alongside a cup of tea in the morning.

In the upcoming weeks you can expect posts more frequently (hopefully) now that I’ve got a bit more free time. I’m trying to get in a bit of everything: baking, cooking, grilling, etc. but ever since I started working at a bakery my desire to make my own sweets has dropped. I know I’ll be making a super-amazing-special dessert post in early July that I make every year for my boyfriend’s birthday…the gears are turning. Also, one of my co-workers just started her own fitness/food blog called The Active Blondie and you should say hello!

_DSC1307

Flourless Greek Yogurt Banana Muffins

Sidenote: A robin laid eggs in my backyard a little while ago and look who I found last week! So cute.

Baby birds

Ingredients

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 overripe bananas or thawed from frozen bananas
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups whole large flake oats, plus some for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. whole hemp hearts
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with papers and spray with cooking oil.

Toss all ingredients except for the chocolate chips and hemp hearts into a food processor. Pulse until well mixed and a batter has formed. Stir in chocolate chips and hemp seeds by hand.

Pour batter evenly between the 12 spaces in the pan, then sprinkle a few whole oats on top of each one. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly. Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes. For storage, wait until fully cooled and store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Olive Oil Mayonnaise

The yolks and olive oil give homemade mayo a much different colouring than the classic blubbering white stuff from grocery stores (appealing-sounding, isn’t it?). I’m honestly not sure what they do to the processed mayo to make it that colour, but I didn’t feel like finding out since I do still eat it from time to time and ignorance is bliss.

My first taste after I was done mixing was unexpected and I wasn’t sure if I was a fan. The taste of olive oil is so strong and I was a little worried about the raw egg, I stuck it in the jar, put it in the fridge, then waited a while. Next time I tried it I knew what to expect and it was a much more pleasant experience—that, plus my parents and boyfriend also really enjoyed it.

This recipe is really basic and especially easy if you have a stand mixer. It only uses 6 ingredients, most of which you would have lying around your kitchen, and 30 minutes of your time, including washing up. If you’ve got a hankerin’ (you’re welcome Heather) for the perfect classic sandwich spread and want to get the way healthier, way more natural and way cheaper alternative, you should make this. As a bonus, you can also split this into batches and flavour them (i.e.- chipotle, wasabi, hickory, etc.) which is something I have yet to do but plan on doing it later in the summer. Olive Oil Mayonnaise Ingredients

Makes about 2 cups

  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups mixed oils (use a general ratio of 3/4 cup olive oil,
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. white distilled vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method

Place 3 yolks in your bowl of choice (it should be large enough to mix heavily without spillage). Discard whites or save for another recipe. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or a hand beater if you’re much stronger than me), set the speed to medium and beat yolks for 2-3 minutes until well mixed and thick. While this is mixing, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard powder and salt in a small bowl until everything has dissolved. Pour this gradually into the yolks over the course of 60 seconds, then allow to beat for another minute.

Combine your chosen oils in a measuring cup with a spout—this will make your life much easier when pouring the oil. Turn up the mixer to medium-high/high, and start drizzling a few drops at a time so that the stream of oil is no thicker than a strand of hair. This process is time consuming and may tire out your arm but the final result is pretty rewarding so keep at it! Olive Oil Mayonnaise Every 4-5 minutes while drizzling, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure there is no oily residue remaining. The oil pouring step should take about 15 minutes. Your mayo is done when it reaches a very thick, spreadable consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference, making sure to mix well after every added ingredient, if any. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and spread onto sandwiches, burgers and flavour to use as a dip. Olive Oil Mayonnaise