Thursday, September 24, 2009

Puppy Chow

Puppy Chow is not, as I'm sure you've gathered, actual dog food. That would be boring. Who wants to make dog food unless you want to save the starving hairy skeleton that hangs around your garbage bin and licked your hand once and made you feel like this is the stupidest rambling sentence that isn't even a metaphor, why am I writing it.

Okay, so. Not dog food.

It IS, however, a most delicious form of noms, as well as slightly dangerous. Trust me when I say if you are alone in a room with this, it can only end badly, and one of you will be crying. So be certain to recruit some mouths before making this, or be like me and carry a huge bag of it around campus and force it on anyone who makes eye contact or looks hungry. ...Yes, I really did do this today. I just want to be loved.

On a happier note, though, this is a somewhat healthier version of the traditional puppy chow with which you may be familiar.

Puppy Chow
Note: Again, since I have the tendency to throw random amounts of things together...use your best guess.

1 - 1 1/2 cups Natural Peanut Butter (You can use regular peanut butter, but I have an obsession, okay.)
1/4 cup Cocoa
3 - 4 cups Life Cereal (or another cereal of your choice, like Shreddies, Chex, etc. Even bran flakes might work, AND they would mean less guilt if you consumed it for the whole day.)
Icing Sugar

Melt the peanut butter in a large pot over low heat.

Stir in the cocoa until mixed in.

Pour in the cereal and stir it until well coated. Remove pot from heat.

Add the icing sugar in gradual amounts (roughly a 1/4 cup at a time) until the cereal looks lightly coated (or to your taste).

Make sure you are surrounded by others to save you from being consumed by it's deliciousness.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chickpea Broccoli Salad

This salad is a healthier version of the more well known broccoli salad which usually involves cheddar cheese, bacon, red onion and a sugar-sweetened mayo dressing. Me being me, though, I naturally like to take what other people think is a good thing and fu -- change it up a bit.

This salad has no added sugar and is not doused with exorbitant amounts of mayo, which is one of my biggest peeves. See, I have this thing with mayonnaise. It tends to disgust me in ways I can't really explain. I don't like touching it or looking at it or smelling it, even though I enjoy it in food, except in globular, massive amounts, which Subway employees, no matter how you phrase it to them (not a lot of mayonnaise -- just a BIT - a TEENY - SMALL -- WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU ARE YOU EDUCATED), always seem to put on your sandwich.

But, back to the salad. Like I said, not a whole lot of dressing, but I find the raisins add wonderful bursts of flavour and sweetness that make up for the lack of sugar and dolloping of mayo. Feel free to adjust the amount to your own tastes, though!

Chickpea Broccoli Salad
1 small - med. Head of Broccoli
1/3 - 1/2 cup Chickpeas
1 heaping tbsp. Finely Chopped Raw Almonds
1/4 cup Raisins
1/4 - 1/3 cup Barley (or whole grain of your choice)

1 - 2 tbsp. Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 tbsp. White Vinegar

Chop the broccoli into small, bite-size pieces and set aside.

Finely chop the raw almonds.

Toss the chopped broccoli and almonds with the chickpeas, raisins and barley in a bowl.

Add your desired amounts of mayonnaise and vinegar to the salad and mix until well-incorporated. Adjust according to taste.


Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds instead of Almonds
Cranberries instead of Raisins
Navy Beans instead of Chickpeas
Add in Celery for an extra crunch
Omit the barley or whole grain of your choice if you want a lighter side dish

Play with it, there are endless possibilities!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Whatever You Want in It Soup

I've been on a bit of a soup kick lately, after discovering from a super awesome friend of mine (who definitely is not reading this and getting this reference at ALL) told me that you can reuse the water lentils are cooked in as broth. I was ridiculously excited, because I hate using bouillon powder as it's essentially a concentration of SALT!! with double exclamation marks. Suddenly I had a healthy broth alternative at my fingertips, oh the possibilities! (Clearly I need a life.) However, lentil broth only lasts for about two single-servings of soup, and so I was once again without an easy broth source. (And I am way too cheap to buy an entire chicken or veggies to make my own broth. If I buy veggies -- or an entire chicken for that matter -- I want to EAT IT. Not boil them and throw them away. Blasphemy.) But then I thought -- tomatoes! Or, canned tomatoes, which are mostly liquid, and thus a perfect way to make broth without consuming inordinate amounts of sodium. Huzzah! And thus, this soup was born.

The great thing about soup though, (besides being a fast, easy and cheap meal) is that you can flavour it any way you like. This is just a basis for soup, which you can add to and change to suit your own tastes.

(Also, I do this thing where I don't really measure when cooking my own meals. So most measurements you see here are my best guess, so use amounts you think are reasonable if you don't trust mine.)

Tomato Lentil Soup
Cooking oil of choice (I used olive oil)
1/2 of White Onion, chopped
1 cup Broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup Canned Diced Tomatoes (including liquid)
2 tbsp. Water
1/3 cup Lentils
1 1/2 cup Spinach
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat a small pot over medium heat, add the oil, swirl it around, and then add in the chopped onion. Saute it for several minutes, until it begins to look translucent or is slightly browned, about 4 - 5 minutes.

Add in the chopped broccoli, tomatoes and water. At this point I usually start to add seasonings. I have a shameless love for freshly ground pepper, and highly recommend purchasing a cheap reusable grinder so you can have your own. (You will not regret it!) I have a bunch of pre-mixed seasonings, but for this soup, in addition to salt and pepper, I suggest using oregano, basil, parsley, and maybe a little cumin and (if you want your soup to have a kick) cayenne pepper. But really, it's up to you!

Stir in the lentils, bring the soup to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the spinach (the heat of the soup will cause it to wilt).


Ideas for alterations:

(The only reason I didn't put garlic in was because I was too lazy to chop it up.)

Add in some whole grains to get a complete protein (barley, brown rice, whole grain pasta, farro, quinoa, to name a few).

Choose your favourite veggies -- carrots, cauliflower, celery, asparagus, you name it!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nutritious Cookie Noms

So I have this obsession with baking. One that I'm surprised has not yet resulted in an intervention, although I'm sure I came quite close last year when I was baking up to three batches of cupcakes and or cookies a week. (Sometimes in one night.) Because even if it's past 10 o'clock at night and you're watching Hannibal wit your roommates, you want some peanut butter cookies and you want them NAO. (So much so that your mental narrator - what, you don't have one of those? - degenerates into lolcat speech.)

Ahem. However, having that many baked goods around is neither good to your wallet or your waistline (or those of your housemates, unless they're boys, in which case they are very reliable baking disposal machines). So I am learning some semblance of self-control. Not necessarily by not baking, but by baking things that will actually provide me with some kind of nutrition.

So cookies like these are a good thing. And not only because they taste good, but because you can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not feel guilty about it.

Healthy Oatmeal Spice Cookies (or Fibre Protein Snacks of AWESOME)

1 Ripe Avocado
1 Very Ripe Banana
1 Can (540 ml.) Chickpeas (or 2 cups cooked)
¼ cup Ground Flaxseed
1 cup Oat Flour (or grind 1 cup of rolled oats)
3 cups Rolled Oats
½ tsp. Salt
1½ tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Cloves
½ tsp. Allspice
¼ tsp. Nutmeg
Zest of 1 Orange
½ cup Maple Syrup
¼ cup Molasses (whatever you have on hand, though blackstrap is best)
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Raisins
1 cup Chopped Walnuts or Almonds (or a mix of both, or whatever nut you have a hankering for)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.

Mix all the dry ingredients, spices and orange zest together. Set aside.

Puree the avocado, banana and chickpeas together in a food processor. Or, if you don’t have a food processor, mash the banana and avocado with a fork and take a potato masher/hand blender to the chickpeas. (Or mush everything in whatever way you find satisfactory.)

Whisk the maple syrup, molasses and vanilla into the puree mixture.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until combined. Stir in the nuts and raisins.

Press into balls and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet. (Warning: your hands will get very sticky with cookie goo, so you may have to wash them once or twice in order form the cookies more easily.)

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Candied Ginger

If you're like me, you have this thing for peanut butter. A big thing. Which involves spoons, dates, carrots, broccoli and anything else I can think of to put it on. Which led me to my latest combo: peanut butter and candied ginger. A-MAzing.

And, if you're me, you'll also decide you don't have to buy the super sugar coated ginger slices in the grocery store, you can make your own candied ginger. (Especially since it's super easy. ...Unless you're in the bathroom and the pot starts boiling over...)

So you do. Twice. And promptly eat both batches in about a week.

Candied Ginger
1 lb Ginger
4 cups Water
4 cups Sugar

Peel the ginger. A spoon is actually quite effective in taking off the thin layer of skin on the root, and gets into all the little nooks and crannies. However, for the hard, nobbly parts, I took a knife to it.

Slice the ginger thinly and place it in a pot. Cover it with water, bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Repeat this last step, draining the water each time.

Cover the cooked ginger with water and sugar, and cook it on high heat, for at least an hour or so. (I naturally always forgot to time it, but I know it takes more time than it does for one episode of Ballykissangel.) The ginger is ready when the liquid forms a thin syrup that is a light golden colour, or, if using a candy thermometer, when it reaches 125 degrees.

Drain the ginger and spread it out on a sheet of wax paper lightly sprinkled with sugar, and sprinkle with sugar again on top to keep the slices from sticking. Leave it out for at least two days or so to let it dry. (However, if you're impatient like me, you can eat it right then.) You can also store the ginger in its syrup, if you prefer.

If draining the ginger, you can save the syrup for things like ice cream, pancakes, drinks, and anything else you can think of. It has a lovely little kick!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chocolate Avocado Cake

This cake was some intense chocolate crazy. Seriously, I kid you not. The avocado is undetectable, while the cake is moist and fudgy. The little bit of booze I snuck it really jazzed up the flavour, and the intensity of the dark chocolate in the icing kept it from being overpoweringly sweet, and making it more chocolatey. It was I may have overdosed on it a little while icing the cake. And there is still some leftover, and it's in my fridge, and I need it to not be there, because when you realize you just ate about a cup of pure chocolate, sugar and butter, you feel like a piece of you has been violated, and no amount of milk can save you. And I don't want that to happen...again.

Ahem. Anyways, onto the cake!

Chocolate Avocado Cake of Awesome (Just thought I'd get some alliteration going there for kicks. I am a dork.)
Adapted from Joy the Baker

3 cups Flour (I used whole wheat)
6 tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup Avocado, well mashed (about 1 medium avocado)
1 3/4 cups Milk
2 tbsp. Strong Coffee
2 tbsp. Dooley's (you can skip this and the coffee if you like, or add a different liqueur. I'm thinking Kahlua, Bailey's and even Gran Marnier would give this cake an awesome kick.)
2 tbsp. White Vinegar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch rounds. Set aside.

Sift together all the dry ingredients except the sugar. Set aside.

Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl, including the mashed avocado. Mix in the maple syrup and brown sugar.

Pour the wet into the dry and mix until smooth. (After combining them together, I whisked it by hand just to ensure it was well mixed.)

Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake 30 - 40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for about 15 minutes before turning onto cooling racks. (Tip: If you're in a hurry to ice them, stick the cakes in the freezer on plates with waxed paper underneath to prevent them from sticking. They'll be ready to ice within the hour.)

Super Intense Dark Chocolate Buttercream
2 100 g. (6 - 7 oz.) 70% Lindt Chocolate Bars, melted and cooled (or any other high quality dark chocolate you can get your hands on. Lindt was all I could find.)
1 cup Butter, softened
1/4 cup Cream or Milk (I only had skim, but it worked)
3 - 4 cups Icing Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. (I think I screwed mine up a bit and processed it too much, or I was too impatient and didn't let the chocolate cool enough. It became fudge-like in texture and not very spreadable at all. Still tasted like chocolate ecstasy though.)

Enjoy! I played around with the ingredients a lot, and next time (oh, there will be a next time!) I plan to spice it up even more, perhaps by decreasing the milk and adding brewed espresso, and even some chili powder and ground ginger. Mmmm, cake noms. The possibilities are endless!

Obligatory Launch Post (This sounds like it could use a rocket ship.)

So after obsessively following food blogs and baking obscene amounts of goods over the past year (that my student budget should never have allowed), I've decided to jump on the blog wagon and share my own food adventures with the world. Here's hoping it won't worsen my baking addiction, an addiction which is no friend to any student's wallet (or waistline).

However, my food crazy goes beyond chocolate, icings, peanut butter and cookies. I am also a "health freak" despite my weakness, which almost constantly sometimes leads me to delving into bags of chocolate chips or making a rendezvous with a jar of peanut butter and just a spoon to accompany me (and that's only when my finger can no longer do the scooping for me). So I'm almost bi-polar when it comes to diet, often consuming disgusting amounts of sugar while also obsessing over the amount of protein and nutrients I'm getting. I am slowly learning to strike a balance in my diet, and also to cook (and especially bake!) with more wholesome and nutritious ingredients.

Basically, I love food. It's kind of awesome. And now I can share my food crazy even more -- huzzah!