Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chocolate Cherry Tart

It's cherry season and living in B.C for the first time I am definitely trying to take advantage of all the amazing fruit! I bought these individual tart molds and have been so excited to use them. Thinking of what I already had at home and with the fresh cherries I bought at the farmers market, I came up with this recipe. Using the leftover cinnamon cream cheese filling from the turnovers, I mixed in thickened plain yogurt to make a nice light filling. I was really pleased with the results, the cream cheese wasn't too rich and the touch of tartness from the yogurt was a nice compliment to the sweet cherries and chocolate crust. I usually find these individual tarts have decadent rich fillings like lemon curd, chocolate and pastry cream (oh and don't you worry, that will be coming soon to this blog...!) but today it was a nice change to do a lighter healthier version.

Chocolate Cherry Tarts (makes 4 tarts using 4" tart pans)
*Note if you don't have tart pans this can be made in a 8" pan)

Tart Shells
1 3/4 cup oreo baking crumbs
4 tbsp rapadura unrefined sugar (or white sugar)
4 tbsp butter, melted

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all ingredients and press firmly into tart shells or pan. Bake for 10 min. Let cool.

1/2 cup low fat cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup plain yogurt that has been strained (or Greek yogurt)
*see note below*
24 cherries, halved and pitted (or whatever fruit is in season)

1.Combine cream cheese, agave, vanilla and cinnamon. Fold in yogurt and set in fridge.
2.To assemble pop tarts out of their molds (or not, if using a pan) spread filling into the molds and top with cherries.

*To strain yogurt I start with plain yogurt with at least 2%MF. Place a bowl under a strainer and line the strainer with a coffee filter or paper towel. Place yogurt in strainer and let sit in fridge for at least 30min.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pear, Goat Cheese, Hazelnut Crusted Chicken over Farmers Market Fresh Greens

I was at the farmers market this morning trying to get an idea of what to make for dinner, thinking I haven't made a proper meal in a long time. All I seem to be eating lately are salads and what do I end up making? A salad! Granted, a bit more effort put in than usual. Instead of my usual seasoned chicken breast I opted for a chicken breast which I spread with pear jam (from France it is naturally sweetened with grape juice and soo good but any jam would be great), goat cheese and hazelnuts. Super simple, just shove it in the oven for 15 min at 350 and it's ready! Served over mixed greens (this time kale, beet greens, swiss chard etc) local zucchini, shredded carrot and green beans and you have a fab dinner worthy salad.

Pear, Goat Cheese, Hazelnut Crusted Chicken
1 chicken breast
1 tbsp pear jam (any jam will work, as goat cheese pairs nicely with all
2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
3 tbsp roasted hazelnuts, chopped (or any nut you like, pistachio, almond
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a heavy pot or the flat side of a meat tenderizer, pound chicken until it is even thickness. (Can also butterfly chicken)
2. Spread jam on one side of chicken, sprinkle on goat cheese and top with nuts pressing down so it sticks.
3. Bake for 15 min or until done.
*Serve over your favorite mixed greens, veggies and dressing

Not shown, is the dressing I put on after, my healthier rendition of a creamy dressing:

Creamy Raspberry Dill Buttermilk Dressing
1 cup plain yogurt that has been strained to thicken (or Greek yogurt)
2 tbsp buttermilk
2 tbsp raspberry vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1. Combine all together and chill in fridge.

Friday, July 25, 2008

5 minute Chocolate Cherry Buttermilk Cake (No Joke!)

11:52pm and I am on my computer when I came across this recipe for 5 minute chocolate cake. Noo wayy...I said to myself, this I have to try!! 5 minutes later I'm in the kitchen grabbing flour, cocoa powder and other ingredients, thinking of how I can change the recipe. Instead of milk I used buttermilk and kahlua, unrefined rapadura sugar and threw in some chocolate chips and bing cherries leftover from my turnovers that I had pitted and froze. Three minutes in the microwave and dessert was ready! Okay, so maybe its not the same as a cake from the oven, but how else can you have cake when you only have 5 minutes to spare!? So fun, if my roomies woke up and came into the kitchen I might have looked like a crazy person I was so delighted with this recipe..haha! I'll definitely make this again. Everything is mixed right into the mug so there is no mess either!

5 Minute Chocolate Cherry Buttermilk Cake (Serves 1)
4 tbsp flour
3 tbsp unrefined sugar (or white sugar)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used the good stuff Valrhona)
pinch of salt
2 tbsp buttermilk (or milk)
1 tbsp Kahlua (or just use 3 tbsp milk)
1 egg
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp chocolate chips
1 tbsp bing cherries (or other berries)
splash of vanilla
1 mug
1. Combine all dry ingredients in mug, add in buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg and stir till combined. Fold in chocolate chips and cherries
2. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Serve warm and if available, with ice cream or whipped cream

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

So I was thinking about the Better For You Banana Bread Recipe I did awhile back and wanted to try the idea I had for substituting peanut butter for the oil. For all you Kraft/Jiffy peanut butter lovers out there, if you've never tried natural peanut butter you should give it a try! Once you try it, I swear you won't go back. If you see peanut butter that looks creamy all the way through, it's probably because it contains hydrogenated oils (which are not good for you!) and are used to help keep the oil from separating from the peanut butter, as well lets you store it at room temperature in your cupboard for years! Look for peanut butter with ingredients that say just peanuts or peanuts and salt. There should also be a layer of oil on top, which just has to be stirred in and then kept in your fridge. Okay enough of the lesson...I was super stoked, I couldn't think of a better loaf recipe then something that combines banana bread, peanut butter and chocolate! I tweaked the recipe again this time using my new rapadura sugar (which is unrefined and still maintains most of its vitamins and minerals and tastes amazing) but sadly I was disappointed with the results! Okay, I think I may have over baked it a tad too, but I think the peanut butter and banana competed with each other so neither flavours really stood out. It was still good, just not as moist as I would have liked and not up to my standards so I didn't really want anyone to taste it! A day later I was still wondering what to do with this whole loaf to myself when I remembered what I used to do with banana bread after it had gotten past its fresh state and started to dry out (if it ever lasted that long!) TOAST it! Oh man...I don't know if it was a good idea or a bad idea because now I have almost consumed the whole loaf....it was sooo good when I toasted it! The spelt flour really came through and made it crispy and nutty and slathered with more peanut butter and strawberry jam, it is ridiculously good! I will definitely make this banana bread again, if only to use it to make the best toast ever!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
(makes 1 loaf and approx 6 muffins)
3 medium bananas
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour
1 cup rapadura sugar which is unrefined whole cane sugar (or use 1/2 white 1/2 brown sugar)
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup ground flax seeds (flax meal)

1.Preheat oven to 350
2.Butter and flour pan
3. Mash bananas
4.Beat egg, sugar and oil, add mashed bananas and vanilla
5.Mix dry ingredients together.
6. Alternate adding dry ingredients into liquid mixture with buttermilk, starting and ending with dry ingredients.
7. Bake for 1 hr or until toothpick comes out clean
8. Bake muffins 16-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Salad with Balsamic Yam Croutons

I'm addicted to this new salad bar that just opened up down the street from me a couple weeks ago, the dressings are soo good (it's all about the dressing!) and pretty healthy for you, but it's getting pretty ridiculous how often I have gone considering it just opened! My new solution is to just buy the dressing and make the salads at home. Like every other recipe I've been making these days it's just a mix of some of my favorite foods thrown together. I always seem to start with a base and then start rummaging in the fridge to see what else I can throw in. Haha I should mention that I have 3 other roommates, but I take up more than half of the fridge, all of the freezer (except the corner where Ty keeps his ice cream and perogies) and 3 packed cupboards with all of my food! They know by now not to try and open one of my cupboards for fear of something falling on their head as every space seems to be packed to capacity! Anyways..back to salad, this one had spinach, iceberg for crunch, feta, baby raw zucchini, marinated artichokes and yams which I cubed, threw in a pan and crisped up with a bit of oil, sprinkle of unrefined sugar, sea salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. It's such a good combo with the sweet, saltiness and tang, I highly recommend adding yams to your salads! Top with your fave dressing (mine is creamy herb tahini at the moment) and you're set!

Summer Salad with Balsamic Yam Croutons
-Favorite lettuce (I like spinach, mixed field greens, romaine, iceberg)
-Favorite cheese (I like feta cheese, goat cheese, shaved fresh parmesan)
-Favorite veggies (My faves at the moment are raw baby zucchini, shredded raw carrot and artichokes)
-Favorite protein(I like chicken, grilled flank steak, chickpeas or Italian tuna packed in olive oil)
-Other options: Wheatberries, couscous, toasted nuts (almonds and walnuts are my fave) flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, garlic butter croutons
-Fave Dressing
Balsamic Yam Croutons
1 large yam (or 2 small yams) cut into small chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp water
2 tsp unrefined sugar (or brown sugar/white sugar)
sea salt
black pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1.Heat pan on med-high with oil. When hot, throw in yams and let them get a bit of color. Add in water and place a lid on top for 2 min to help soften.
2. Remove lid and when all the liquid has evaporated add in sugar and salt and pepper. Cook until just tender but crispy on the outside.
3. Add in balsamic vinegar and cook until balsamic has reduced and coated the yams. Serve warm, room temp or cold.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cherry Chocolate Cinnamon Cream Cheese Turnovers

This morning I woke up at 8:30, pulled on my gym clothes and had a plan, I would work on my school case studies for a little bit and then do a good session at the gym. I must've been in total school mode (this doesn't happen as often as it should!) when I looked up at the clock and thought whoally sh#*@! It's 4:00! Ended up eating a very late lunch and then went back to work. Since I am on a time crunch and have way too much studying to do in way too little time, my plan was to stay home and do more work. Then I got a call from a friend wanting to make homemade pizza's tonight for a dinner party. Who can say no to that? I decided I needed a break anyway, so we split up duties and I offered to make the dough, while she made the fab toppings (homemade tomato sauce, caramelized onions etc). With the pizza dough done it was then that I decided we needed dessert...staring into my freezer I spotted some puff pastry dough and than it came to me what I wanted to make: a fresh cherry chocolate turnover. Whenever I come up with an idea in my head I always need to go through with it...so I raced to the produce store and got some cherries. What I really wanted was mascarpone cheese to put in as well, but none could be found! I remembered I had some low-fat cream cheese at home so I used that instead. (That makes up for using buttery puff pastry and chocolate right!?ha) After pitting a pint of cherries by hand, one stained apron, purple stained hands, three pizzas, a salad, some wine and cherry chocolate turnovers later I realized I never did make it to the gym...oh well it was soo worth it! Turnovers are so easy to make, you can stuff em with whatever you want, fruit and cream cheese, curried ground beef and leeks...anything encased in buttery flaky puff pastry will always taste good!

Cherry Chocolate Cinnamon Cream Cheese Turnovers
1/2 package of puff pastry
1 cup pitted and sliced fresh bing cherries
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup low fat cream cheese, softened (or mascarpone cheese)
2 tbsp agave syrup (or icing sugar)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten with splash of milk (or water)
2 tbsp coarse sugar (I used raw sugar)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix together cream cheese, agave, vanilla and cinnamon. Set in fridge
2. Cut the puff pastry into squares. Place cinnamon cream cheese filling on the bottom, cherries than chocolate chips.
3. Brush the outside rim of the square and fold into triangle
4. Using a fork press the edges together until sealed
5. Make 3 small slits with a knife into each turnover, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar
6. Bake for 20-25 min or until golden brown
7. Serve warm or at room temperature

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Light Chocolate Chunk Brownies VS Double Chocolate Brownies

I was curious to try a Martha brownie recipe I found that used unsweetened applesauce and reduced fat-sour cream (I used strained plain yogurt instead and a mixture of whole wheat and white flour: the first picture above me)and was pleasantly surprised! I did find it more cake like than dense fudgy brownie like but it was still delicious. Compared to Martha's regular brownie? Okay really, how do you go wrong with a brownie made with butter, sugar and white flour? Of course it's going to taste fantastic! If we're talking texture wise, I think I would have to go with the dense and rich double chocolate brownie..if we're talking feeling a bit better about eating a chocolate dessert, I'd go with the low fat version. How much lower in fat, I don't know, there was no breakdown! When I'm giving baked goods as gifts (like the ones in the box for my friends birthday), I usually opt for the full fat version of things, it's usually more when I bake for myself or family that I try these alternative methods! (For now anyways). As for the cookies in the picture with the brownies, I'm sorry to say I cannot give out this recipe as it is from my old work Crave. This recipe will have to go to the grave with me...! I hate to tell you it is a great chocolate chip cookie recipe, so soft and chewy with a nice crispy edge, this version also made with toffee bits (ok I'll stop!). So I guess the only way you can get a taste of em is if you go down to Crave yourself, or you are really nice to me and I will make them for you! In the meantime check out these brownie recipes!

Light Chocolate Chunk Brownies (adapted from Martha Stewart)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I made my own with 2 apples peeled and diced, cooked with a splash of vanilla and mashed)
1/2 cup strained plain yogurt (or plain Greek yogurt)
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (2 oz melted, 2 oz coarsely chopped)
2 large eggs

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch square pan with baking paper.
2. Whisk together flours, cocoa, salt and baking soda together in a bowl
3. In a mixer combine eggs with brown sugar. Add in applesauce, yogurt, oil and melted chocolate. Slowly add in dry ingredients just until combined
4. Pour batter into pan and top with remaining chopped chocolate. Bake for 30-35 min or until toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.

Double Chocolate Brownies (adapted from Martha Stewart's cookies)
6 tbsp butter
6 oz semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch square pan with parchment.
2. In a pot combine butter and chocolate, stir constantly until mixture is smooth. Add in cocoa powder and stir until there are no lumps.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
4. In a mixer combine eggs, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add in melted chocolate mixture. Slowly add in flour mixture until just combined
5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 30-35 min or until toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Loaded Spicy Veggie Walnut Burger

Geez! Two veggie sandwich posts in a row? I swear I'm not becoming a vegetarian...these sandwiches just taste fab! This would be round 2 for me on an attempt of a veggie burger, this time a success! I finally got the right consistency for the patty, it holds together and gets nice and crispy when pan fried. What's this burger loaded with? I could have continued adding more things onto the burger but it was hard enough to take a bite as it was! The spicy chickpea walnut based burger was topped with a roasted portobello mushroom, fresh spinach, tomatoes, caramelized onions and a roasted red bell pepper and basil aioli. Yum yum I have two that I froze for another day, those just might be saved for my bbq which I have yet to use!
Spicy Veggie Walnut Burgers
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 parsnip, grated
1 small yam, grated (yield approx 1 cup)
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 onion, fine diced
6 cloves garlic, fine diced
12 white button mushrooms, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup walnuts
1/8 cup chili garlic sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp montreal steak spice
2 eggs
1/2-1 cup breadcrumbs (explained below)
4 whole wheat buns
1. Using a potato masher, mash chickpeas until it becomes a chunky paste.
2. In a pan saute garlic, onions and mushrooms, let cool and combine with chickpeas.
3. Add all the rest of the ingredients in, except for breadcrumbs.
4. When well combined slowly add in bread crumbs until mixture comes together and is no longer moist. Form into patties and set in fridge, preferably for atleast 30 minutes
5. Heat oil in a pan and pan fry until golden and crispy on each side
Fresh Spinach
2 Firm Tomatoes
Caramelized onions (the quick way)
1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
sugar (optional)
1. Heat a pan on high with oil, add in onions and spread out evenly in pan. Only stir when you see the onions start to go brown, lower heat a bit and saute until caramelized. Season with s+p and if for some reason the onion isn't sweet enough, add a pinch of sugar
Roasted Portobello Mushrooms
4 portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
Montreal Steak spice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss portobello's in oil, steak spice and garlic. Roast for 12 min or until portobellos turn slightly soft.
Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Basil Aioli
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt that has been strained)
3 tbsp roasted red bell pepper spread (or pureed, roasted red bell peppers)
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1. Combine all ingredients and let sit in fridge.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Open Face Veggie Sandwiches

Ahhh life on the island is goood! This past weekend me and some girlfriends went over to Vancouver Island for a little getaway and got to stay at one of my friends beautiful summer houses with the most amazing view. Seeing as two of my friends are vegetarian, the first night we did all veggie. So simple and not too heavy for a nice light summer meal, all I did was slightly toast a multigrain baguette in the oven, caramelize some onions and saute up some mushrooms and bell peppers. To the rescue was store bought roasted garlic hummus, jarred artichokes, fresh baby spinach and basil, black olives and feta. Served with a simple tomato salad, nice cold glass of vodka spiked pink lemonade and a side of wicked sunset...heavenn!

Open Face Veggie Sandwiches
1 multigrain baguette
1 container roasted garlic hummus
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 large handful fresh baby spinach
1 large handful fresh basil
1 red bell pepper, julienne
1 jar artichoke hearts
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
2 large vidalia onions, julienne

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place baguette in oven to warm through and crisp up.
In a large skillet heat oil on high heat (this is my quick method to caramelize onions). When hot, add in onions and spread out evenly on pan. Only start to stir when you see the onions turn golden brown, reduce heat to medium high. Season with s+p
2. After onions are cooked take out and saute bell pepper and mushrooms, season with s+p
3. Slice baguette in half lengthwise and cut into desired length
4. Spread roasted garlic hummus on baguettes, top with fresh basil, spinach, mushrooms, artichokes, red bell pepper, caramelized onions, black olives and feta.
5. Place in oven for 5-7 minutes or until warmed through

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Do you know what this is?

Do you know what this is? I didn't! I saw them at my local farmers market and found out they are garlic scapes! I love finding something new I've never seen before and making a dish out of it. Tonight's dinner was a pasta primavera, with most of the ingredients found at the farmers market. Fresh made spelt pasta, amazing tomatoes, local zucchini and the garlic scapes. I tasted the garlic scapes raw and it had a very strong garlic flavor, but after sauteing them the flavor mellowed out and I found they were like a crunchy green bean with a hint of garlic, delish! A challenge for you this week is to try something new that you've never tried before. Who knows, you might just like it!

Pasta Primavera

1 bottle pureed tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
1/4 onion, fine diced
fresh basil, chiffonade
pinch of sugar
1 /2 zucchini
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch garlic scapes, chopped (optional)
favorite pasta
fresh parmesan

1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil till soft. Add in tomato puree, sugar to taste, s+p and fresh basil. Let simmer
2. In a pan saute zucchini, garlic scapes and mushrooms. Add in cherry tomatoes at the last minute just to warm through.
3. Boil pasta till al dente, strain out water and place back on stove.
4. Add a couple ladles of tomato sauce, just until pasta is coated, add in veggies.
5. Grate fresh parm over top.