Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Adobo Black Bean Dip

Let me introduce you to a friend named Mr. Adobo.

Adobo is a Spanish marinade made with vinegar, garlic, salt, paprika and oregano and it's absolutely delicious.

It's sometimes used as a marinade on meat, but is more commonly used to preserve ripe jalapeno peppers. These beauties are called chipotles and they come swimming in a spicy, smoky, vinegary concoction a billion times better than any bottled barbeque sauce. Is that enough mouth-watering adjectives?

I love chipotles in adobo!

Unfortunately chipotles in adobo are most often sold in a little metal can. I try to avoid canned goods but I make an exception so I can enjoy a little adobo from time to time.

The most common brands are San Marcos and La Costena and they're usually sold in the 'Mexican' food section at grocery stores. I have yet to find an organic and/or jarred version, but am hoping to put together my own recipe for chipotles in adobo in the near future.

Anyway, I found a can in my pantry and had just made a big pot of black beans, so the combination just seemed obvious. This recipe has five ingredients and it's ready in less than five minutes.

So easy, and so addictive. After taking a few pictures for this post I ate almost the entire bowl. With my fingers.

Domo arigato, Mr. Adobo.

Adobo Black Bean Dip

Prep time: 5 minutes

Makes about 1/2 cup


3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 cup cooked black beans (How to Cook...Beans!)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped chipotles in adobo*
1 Tbsp. lime juice

*I prefer to chop up two peppers in a coffee cup using kitchen shears, then add the bits to a 1/4 cup and top it with as much of the delicious sauce as possible*


1. Add everything to a blender and puree, scraping down the sides as required

Inspired by Big Vegan

Monday, 29 July 2013

The 'Dave Ate Mushrooms!' Burger

I'll willingly admit to a little cooking trickery from time to time, especially with my husband.

Dave is much less picky now than when we first met, but he still has strong responses to a few foods; so much so that he refuses to touch some dishes if they come in contact with particular ingredients.

He reacts with horrified disgust to things like ketchup, mustard, raw onions, olives, and particularly, above all else, mushrooms.

Dave hates mushrooms the way I hate...well, nothing. I don't think any of my food aversions can even come close to competing with his hatred of mushrooms.

Anyway, every once in a while I try to throw one or more of these ingredients into a recipe just to see how Dave responds.

A few days ago I offered to put together a meatless burger recipe for a weekend meal, and muttered "with lots of mushrooms" under my breath.

I put the recipe together, grilled up a patty on our little sandwich press and tried to look nonchalant as Dave took his first bite. "Whoa...these are amazing!" he exclaimed.

My Cheshire cat smile was obviously a little too telling. There was panic in his eyes as he asked, "Wait, what did you put in them?" "Are there mushrooms in here?!"

Oh yes, Dave, there are mushrooms. Lots and lots of mushrooms. But they're ground up into the patty mixture with other delicious ingredients, and the mushroom taste is absolutely imperceptible to mushroom-phobes.

This is an all-around great burger. It's well-spiced but not too spicy, stays together when grilled, and has a nice, crispy crust with a satisfying, burger-esque texture.

If I can get Dave to not only eat but love these burgers, I have no doubt even the most staunch mushroom haters will fall in love at first bite.

The 'Dave Ate Mushrooms!' Burger 

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

Makes 6 burgers


1 pkg. extra-firm tofu, pressed
1 1/2 cup rolled oats, ground
1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup red pepper, sliced
3 Tbsp. brown rice miso paste
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. dried basil
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried savory
1 tsp. safflower oil
1/2 dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Fresh cracked pepper


1. Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet on medium-high and cook onions for 5-6 minutes
2. Add garlic and cook for a minute, then mushrooms and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5-6 minutes
3. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool
4. Meanwhile, combine tofu, miso, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, mustard, spices, salt and pepper to a food processor and mix for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides every minute or so
5. Add rolled oats and process for about 30 seconds
6. Scrape everything into a large mixing bowl and add onion mixture
7. Get right in there with your hands and smoosh, smoosh, smoosh!
8. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (I kept my bowl in for about 4 hours)
9. When ready to cook, heat a sandwich press, grill or skillet on medium-high
10. Shape the dough into six equal patties and brush the tops and sides with a bit of safflower oil
11. Cook each side for about 4-5 minutes, or until there's a nice, crispy brown crust and the middle is set

Dave topped his burger with lettuce, tomato, his phenomenal Ranch Sauce and a sliced Thai chili pepper.

What an amazing lunch!

Inspired by Let Them Eat Vegan!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Happy Accident

Yesterday I accomplished a few goals:

1. I used the bike rack on the front of a city bus. That might sound like a weird accomplishment, but it's been on my to-do list for months. I was worried I'd try to pull the metal contraption open and it would fall off, or my bike would roll off into oncoming traffic, or I wouldn't be able to hoist the bike into place and it would fall on me...the list of ridiculous ways it could have gone wrong was endless. 

Thankfully Dave was interested in taking a little bike trip and offered to give me a hand. We trekked downtown then Dave helped me load the bikes in properly. Voila! Easy peasy.

2. I spent some quality time with one of my best buds, Brent, and his beautiful daughter. She's turning one today! Happy birthday, sweet child.

3. I went to Bulk Barn (cue heavenly choir) and stocked up on all kinds of goodies: nuts, dried fruit, nut butters, beans, rice, spices. It's a wonderful, magical place for strange folks like me.

4. I biked down one of the escarpment paths that lead downtown. This is something I've wanted to do since I was a kid, but there was absolutely no way I would have done it back then. One of my friends took a mighty spill down this same road when we were teens and I have fond memories of waiting in the emergency room to get her wounds patched. Anyway, I digress. It was so much fun to fly down the path and look out across the city on a beautiful, sunny day. I'm excited to try some of the other roads next.

5. I came home and found myself absolutely starving. I was definitely in the mood for a smoothie. I'd just biked halfway around my city and was craving something creamy and satiating. I threw together some standby ingredients including a giant handful of some local, organic kale...then added a splash of vanilla. 

I was expecting to taste something similar to The Linda (which, by the way, has now become my best friend's go-to breakfast...woo!), but was completely taken aback when I tried this smoothie.

What was different? The taste was sweeter, but in a way I couldn't place. I went back and checked my ingredients only to find that I'd used almond extract instead of vanilla. The taste difference was like night and day. 

If you've never tried almond extract in a smoothie (and honestly, have many people done this? Maybe there are hundreds of almond extract smoothie recipes out there...) I strongly encourage you to try this recipe. It's really pretty amazing.

The Happy Accident 

Proof that sometimes making a mistake yields delicious results.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Makes about 10 ounces


3/4 cup almond milk
3/4 cup frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/4 cup frozen mixed berries
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 giant handful of kale, stems removed*
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. almond extract

*I try to add as much kale as I can before the taste becomes too prominent. Kale is so unbelievably healthy but I'm not a salad eater so I make up some of the difference here. Feel free to use as much or little kale as you'd like, but ideally at least 1 cup.


1. Add everything to your blender and let it do its thing. This is a thick smoothie and may take a few minutes to fully blend, so scrape down the sides once or twice and check for consistency.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Sweet Curried Cauliflower & Chickpeas

Simple, sweet and spicy. Three of my favourite adjectives.

This tasty little dish more than satisfies all of these requirements, and is really easy to put together. 

The smell as it cooks is intoxicating, and the flavour is subtle, yet satisfying. 

Pair a scoop of this chunky curry with a nice bowl of basmati rice and you have yourself quite a fantastic weeknight meal. 

Oh, and leftovers are definitely something to look forward to. The spice will deepen and compliment the sweetness of the raisins even more the next day. 

What's not to love?!

Sweet Curried Cauliflower & Chickpeas

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes 

Makes: enough for 4-6


4 cups spinach, roughly chopped
2 cups cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 cup water
1 cup cooked basmati rice
1 cup cooked chickpeas (How to Cook...Beans!)
1 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup raisins
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. garlic, grated
1 Tbsp. garam masala
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sunflower oil
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
Fresh cracked black pepper


1. Heat the oil on medium in a cast iron pan or large skillet
2. Cook the onions for 5-6 minutes or until golden
3. Add the garlic, ginger, spices, salt and pepper and stir for another minute
4. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine
5. Add the cauliflower, chickpeas, water then cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
6. Pile the spinach on top then cover and steam for 5 minutes
7. Remove pan from the heat, uncover and stir in the raisins then serve with rice


Friday, 5 July 2013

The Linda

Aaaaand...I'm back!

The initial planting and weeding of our garden is basically complete, so now I have a bit more time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labour. Well, not literally...I don't think I'll get much of a show out of my fruit and/or vegetables this year, but regardless, the insane rush is over.

I spent every free moment from mid-May through the end of June outside. It was wonderful, but I'm ready to take a break.

I finally got back into the kitchen after weeks and weeks of avoidance, and lo and behold, I can still put together a tasty concoction!

This phenomenal smoothie recipe came together at just the perfect time.

Why, you ask? There are five reasons:

1. Today is July 5, which also happens to be my mother-in-law's birthday! I've known Linda for more than ten years and in that time we've grown from strangers to allies, friends and family. She's such an amazing woman.

2. Linda has a particular affection for mango, as do I. I'm pretty sure I ate the equivalent of my body weight in mango in the Philippines. Just thinking about mango makes my mouth water. Mango, mango, mango! It's the perfect summer fruit.

3. Last month I made the decision to eliminate all forms of sugar except from fruit. It's been *really* hard at times, but soooo worth it. I no longer have headaches, drastic mood swings or irritability. Unfortunately sugar is in absolutely everything these days, so it's also been quite a challenge. Anyway, Linda is a big dessert fan, so this smoothie is a great example of how delicious sweet food can be without added sugar.

4. It's a great confidence booster to throw together a few simple ingredients and come out with a fantastic new recipe. I was feeling a little low for a while; I didn't have the time or energy to put together recipes after 10 hour days at my regular job plus time in the garden. This lovely, simple smoothie has helped me appreciate my skills and encourages me to nurture them whenever possible.

5. I have to thank Linda for giving me the push I so desperately needed to get back into the kitchen. A week ago she sent me a message saying, "Are you still posting blog info because I have not seen any for maybe a couple of weeks?" That woke me from my gardening-fueled daze and I realized just how long it's been since I shared anything! A birthday sounds like a great time to start again, doesn't it?

Happy birthday, Linda!!

The Linda

Prep time: 5 minutes

Makes about 8 ounces


3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup frozen banana
3/4 cup baby kale (Earthbound Farm Organic Mixed Baby Kales)
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/4 cup frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries & blackberries)
1 Tbsp. hemp seeds
1 tsp. vanilla


1. Blend and sing "Happy Birthday, dear Linda" five times, or until completely smooth.