Monday, April 14, 2014

Comfort Food Chicken and Veggies (paleo)

When I look at my blog stats, my top six all-time popular posts are paleo. As I write this, I have 85 published posts, and only 29 of these are paleo. I've posted a total of two meat-containing posts in my blog's history, but stopped doing so in response to stats. The meat posts seemed to be generating no traffic in comparison to my vegan posts. I figured that it meant that people who were visiting my blog were mostly vegan. Things seem to have changed, though, so I've decided to experiment a little with this.

That being said, don't expect every post on here to contain meat. I'm reaching out to more people, not changing my diet. I still rarely cook meat. I'm even once again considering going back to veganism eventually. Basically, all it means is that when I do occasionally cook meat, I'll consider writing about it. I do definitely welcome comments about this or anything else.

Today, I finished my exams for the semester. This means that I have two consecutive compressed courses left, and then I will have completed my undergrad. It's taken me extra long to complete this degree, so it definitely feels like a relief to be getting to the end of it, finally.

Comfort Food Chicken and Veggies (paleo)

4-6 bone-in, skin on chicken legs/backs/thighs/breasts (choose your favourite)
2 large carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups butternut squash cubes
1/2-1 cup green beans
1 cup button mushrooms
1 small or medium onion, cut in half and sliced
1/4-1/3 cups chicken broth
2-3 tsp rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp oil

In a large "cooker" (like a deeper frying pan with a lid), heat the oil over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the chicken. Place skin down into the cooker and brown for about 5 minutes, then flip it over and brown for another few minutes. Add in the butternut squash, carrots, broth and about half of the rosemary. Salt and pepper some more. Lower heat to medium high and cover for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients. You can add a bit more salt and pepper. Make sure that there is still a bit of broth in the cooker. If not, add just a bit more. It will make the chicken nice and tender, and will give you a nice gravy-like sauce at the end. Cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Not-Your-Traditional Pizza (vegan, tomato free)

Some people may find vegan alternatives to old favourites quite disappointing. I love melted cheese, but I have yet to find a vegan cheese I enjoy (Daiya is not for me). I do love pizza, though. So how do you stop vegan pizza from being disappointing? Read closely, because I'm about to drop some wisdom... You need to stop making vegan alternatives resemble their conventional counterparts.
So what does that look like, for pizza? Well, for one, you need to make the crust really tasty. I've had a hard time finding a pizza dough recipe that really tickled my tastebuds, so I came up with a recipe on the spot. I'm eating my pizza as I type this out, and I have to say, it's really hard to concentrate while in pleasure-land. Yes, this crust is orgasmic. I'm more of a sweet girl than a salty girl though, so if you don't like sweeter dough, I can tell you right now that this recipe isn't for you.
In the spirit of making vegan pizza a new kind of pizza, I skipped the tomato sauce. Instead, I brushed olive oil with minced garlic allover the crust, and made the pizza all about the toppings. I'm not one to eat until I'm completely stuffed, but I just did. I'm finishing up the last few bites of the pizza as I write this. Yep, I ate the whole thing in one sitting.

Not-Your-Traditional Pizza (vegan, tomato free)

For the crust:
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour (or an extra 1/3 cup brown rice flour if you don't like the flavour)
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp organic cane sugar (or whatever you have on hand)
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup water (or less)
For the sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Toppings to your heart's desires - I used yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, green onions, and spinach
Preheat oven to 375F.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add in the oil and the vinegar, and about half of the water. Mix well and keep adding water, bit by bit, until you can form a dough that doesn't crumble. I found it easier to mix with my hands.
Line a baking sheet or stoneware with parchment paper. Spread out the dough to form a thin crust. Bake for about 7 minutes, then remove from oven.
While the crust bakes, mince the garlic and add the olive oil for the sauce.
When you take the crust out of the oven, pour the sauce on top and spread it out. Let the crust absorb the oil while you chop your toppings.
Now, pile on the toppings. Go on, don't be shy. Then, bake until the toppings are done to your liking.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Apple Crumble (vegan, paleo)

A while back, I posted this recipe for apple crumble. It was a bit of an experiment that gave me some interesting results. It's a good breakfast crumble, but it's not something I would make for dessert on a regular basis. When I make apple crumble for others, I make a different recipe. I decided to post it on here because I've had a few requests for the recipe.

I have a tendency to simply add ingredients until the mix looks right, rather than measuring them. This time, I made the effort to measure them so that I could share the recipe. I recommend making this for guests when you're unsure about what to make for dessert. It's easy and allergy friendly (aside from nuts), and accommodates all kinds of different dietary choices.

Apple Crumble (vegan, paleo)

2 apples, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp almond meal
2 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
1 tsp cinnamon, split into half teaspoons

Preheat oven to 350F.

Lay the chopped apples in a baking pan. Sprinkle half the cinnamon over the apples and toss around until the apples are evenly coated.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl. Try to spread the mix evenly over the apples and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 2 servings, so multiply as needed.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Your pasta masterpiece

This post is going to be a little different. Many people have recently asked me to teach them how to cook. I"m of the idea that cooking requires creativity, rather than just following a recipe. I'm a fan of adding ingredients that just feel right to me.

People often tell me they just don't know which flavour combinations make sense. A good tip is to think of a meal - any meal - where you've had the flavour combination you're about to attempt. Was it good? If so, it's probably a safe bet. If you're unsure about combinations in general, I recommend checking out The Flavour Thesaurus.

What you need
Veggies - ideas: anything you would stir fry
Pasta (I used brown rice)
Just enough oil to coat - ideas: olive, sesame, truffle, avocado
Flavourful additions - ideas: sesame seeds, parsley, basil

If you have a hard time figuring out how much pasta and veggies you'll need, try picturing it on a plate. I tend to not overdo it this way.

How to proceed
Start out by boiling the water for the pasta. Salt the water as desired. Add in the pasta when the water reaches a boil.

Heat a bit of oil in a frying pan. Throw in the veggies you want to stir fry. I add them as I chop them, so I start with the veggies that require the most cooking, and work my way to the ones that need the least cooking.

By the time the pasta is done cooking, I find that the veggies are done to my liking. Drain the pasta and coat immediately with the oil of your choice. Toss in the veggies and whatever else you would like to add. And there you go! An easy meal that's both interesting and filling!