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Friday, April 23, 2010

Light Fresh Grapefruit Cake

Here is an interesting recipe for a cake with fresh grapefruit. This cake is light, moist, full of fresh grapefruit flavor with a hint of sweetness. Perfect for an afternoon tea date.

I have seen many variations of grapefruit cake recipes, and most include a glaze to pour on top of the cake. I, however, don’t think a glaze is necessary. I think the cake tastes perfect as it is, and too much sugar masks the fresh and slightly tart flavor of the grapefruit.

If you do decide that you would like to add a grapefruit glaze to this cake, mix some icing sugar with fresh grapefruit juice to form a pourable consistency (about ¾ cup of sugar to 2 tbsp grapefruit juice) and pour over top of the cooled cake.

Light Fresh Grapefruit Cake
Makes 1 loaf

Dry Ingredients
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup White Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Sugar

Wet Ingredients
3 Large Eggs
Zest from 1 Large Grapefruit (approx 1 tbsp)
1 cup Low Fat Plain Yogurt
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Canola Oil

1/4 cup Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice, freshly squeezed

Preheat oven to 175 degrees celsius. Lightly grease a standard loaf tin.

In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl beat the egg. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until just incorporated. Then stir in the fresh grapefruit juice.

Pour the mixture into the greased loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dahl Makhani- Creamy Indian Lentils

This creamy Indian lentil dish is absolutely irresistible. In fact, in my opinion, this is the best variety of dahl EVER! It’s creamy, slightly spicy, and full of flavor, and the ingredients are simple and accessible.

Just one small problem… the restaurant version can be extremely rich, creamy and buttery. I guess it’s not really a problem, but you definitely couldn’t eat it everyday… and dahl is actually supposed to be an Indian staple food. Well, let me tell you, if I ate this dahl everyday, I would be happy, but probably not so healthy.

So, in my version, I lightened it up so you actually can eat it everyday and not feel guilty at all. All of the great flavors are retained while keeping this lentil dish easy on the waistline.

Dahl Makhani
Makes about 6 cups

1 cup Black Lentils-Dry (about 4 cups cooked)
1 tsp Canola Oil
1 tbsp Garlic, minced
1 tbsp Ginger, minced
2 Large Onions, small diced
2 Large Tomatoes, small diced
2 tbsp Chili powder (moderately spicy…adjust as desired)
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
1 can Kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups Chicken Stock
1/4 cup Full Cream Milk
2 tbsp Butter
6 Cloves Garlic, cut into quarters

Soak the lentils overnight, then cover with water and simmer for about 45 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large pan, heat the oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and onions and cook until the onions are translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, chili, and tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the kidney beans, the cooked lentils, and the chicken stock. Bring up to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the milk. Season with salt to taste.

In a separate pan, melt the butter with the garlic cloves. Cook the butter and garlic on a low heat until the butter just starts to brown. Then pour the garlic and butter into the lentil mixture and stir to combine.

Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired. This lentil dish is great served with rice, flat bread or just eaten by itself! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Homemade Peanut Butter... Can all natural goodness get any easier?

There is something about peanut butter that is so delicious. It is hearty and filling, creamy and meaty all at the same time. Eaten on bread, crackers, celery, apples or all by itself (yes, I am guilty of spooning it straight from the jar into my mouth!), it is an instant energy booster.

The problem is that there are so many choices in the store today. How do you know which one to buy? Which ones are healthier, tastier, and the best value? Which ones are full of salt, bad fats, and preservatives? Now, I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that you can save money and make your own, all natural peanut butter. This way, you control what goes into it and ensure that you and your family are eating only the absolute best.

Plus, it is so simple that I am surprised more people don’t do it themselves. Just try it once, and you will never buy that jarred stuff again!

Homemade Peanut Butter
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 cups Dry Roasted Peanuts, unsalted, skin removed
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Sea Salt

Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender, or use a stick blender and process until desired consistency, scraping down the bowl often.

If you like it chunky like me, process until smooth then add a handful of chopped peanuts and processed for about 30 more seconds.

Place into jars and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

There are tons of variations you could make to this basic recipe. After processing, you add a couple of teaspoons of honey for a little sweetness, some chocolate chunks, or even stir in a little nutella.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pantry Fish Cakes

When I was a kid, I remember eating frozen fish cakes, which I baked in the toaster oven for about 20 minutes and dipped in ketchup. Since that time, I have eaten many fish cakes and crab cakes, but never really thought of making them at home. Especially since where I am living, good fish and seafood are very hard to come by.

Then I stumbled across this recipe that uses canned sardines! Now that is certainly something that I could try because all the ingredients were in my pantry! So I did. And they were great.

Pantry Fish Cakes

Makes 8-10 Large Fish Cakes

For the Fish Cakes
3 cups Potatoes, cut into chunks (about 1/2 kg)
2 x 120g cans Sardines in water, drained
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped
Zest and Juice 1 small lemon
3 tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 tbsp Green Onions
Salt and Pepper

For the Sauce
1 tbsp Green Onions
2 tbsp Parsley, chopped
1 tbsp Light Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Light Yogurt
Zest and Juice 1 small lemon
Salt and Pepper

Canola Oil for cooking

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 15-20 mins. Meanwhile, coarsely mash the sardines in a bowl (there's no need to remove the calcium-rich bones as they are soft enough to eat). Mix in the parsley, lemon juice, zest, green onions, and dijon. Drain the potatoes, then mash until smooth. Gently mix into the sardine mixture and season. Moisten your hands and shape into 8-10 large cakes.

In a seperate bowl, mix the sauce ingredients together.

Drizzle some canola oil into a non-stick frying pan and fry the fish cakes in batches for about 3-4 mins on each side until golden and crisp. Serve with the yogurt sauce.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Crunchy Baked Ravioli

A few posts ago, I made Fresh Ravioli with White Bean, Bacon & Leek Filling. I boiled some to eat that day, and I froze the rest to eat later.

Today, I wanted something crunchy and admittedly unhealthy. Usually, when I get this "munchy" feeling, it means I want something fried, although I try to stay away from frying because it's not that healthy.  To overcome this feeling, I generally reach into the freezer for my Baked Spring Rolls, which provide all the crunch without the fat. Unfortunetely for me, I had already polished those off during a previous freezer siege.  I did, however, have the ravioli, so I decided to try my luck with them.

So, I put them on a baking sheet, drizzled them with a little olive oil, and baked them at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes. They browned up beautifully and were crunchy and delicious! Just the cure for the munchies!

Now, you could jazz this up for entertaining by serving it along side some warm marinara sauce. Yum!

Crunchy Baked Ravioli

Olive Oil for Drizzling
Marinara Sauce for dipping

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Farenheit).

Place the ravioli on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden and crispy. Serve with warm marinara sauce.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Recipes using Juicer Pulp: Apple Carrot Muffins

I have never been a big juice fan. I guess it’s the idea that when you drink juice, you get all the sugar and calories without the benefits of the fiber and other good stuff in the pulp. So, I always thought why not just eat the fruit or vegetable whole?

My reservations about juice were confirmed a few years ago when I got a juicer as a gift. I tried it once, felt that it was a lot of work and a lot of waste, and gave it away to my brother.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. Every once in a while I love to sip a glass of fresh, frothy juice. But I just didn’t see the point getting a juicer and making it a daily routine.

But today, well, I gave in. I got a juicer. And I was so excited about my new gadget that I started to juice everything in sight… apples, carrots, pineapple, oranges, grapefruits. The resulting juice was amazing. Sweet, fresh, foamy. And then I saw the pulp container. It was full! I couldn’t believe that a couple of glasses of juice could result in so much waste! So came my determination to find a way to use this pulp.

And here it is. The first of what will likely be many recipes for juicer pulp. And let me tell you… they were amazing! Cheers to juicing and all the waste that comes with it!

Of course, if you don’t have any pulp left over from juicing, you could just use fresh grated fruit and vegetables and omit the water in the recipe.

Apple Carrot Muffins
Makes 18 muffins

Dry Ingredients
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
2 tsp Baking Soda

Wet Ingredients
4 Eggs
1/2 cup Canola Oil
1/4 cup Water
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 cups Apple Pulp
1 cup Carrot Pulp

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat eggs. Add oil, water, and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Stir in the apple and carrot pulp. Fill muffin tins with mixture (you can fill them to the top as this mixture won’t rise much). Bake for 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Not Your Average Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls can be interesting! They really can! Let me prove it by sharing my recipe for these classics.

Usually filled with meat, my rolls are filled with a mix of ground beef, bulgar wheat, and veggies making them healthier and a little more interesting. I also added some fresh lemon to add a nice sharpness and then topped with a homemade tomato sauce.

Not Your Average Cabbage Rolls
Makes 24 rolls (serves 8) – 2 casserole dishes

1 Large Head of Cabbage

For the Filling
1 1/2 cups Bulgar Wheat, dry
2 tsp Vegetable Oil
500 grams Ground Beef
1 large Onion, small dice
1 cup Carrots, cut in small dice
1 cup Eggplant, cut in small dice
1 cup Zucchini, cut in small dice
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup Parsley, chopped
Juice and Zest of 3 Lemons
Salt and Pepper

For the Tomato Sauce
1 tsp Canola Oil
3 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
2 tsp Herbs de Provence
3 cans Whole Peeled Tomatoes
2 tbsp Tomato paste
Salt and pepper

Making the Filling:
Place the bulgar in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover and set aside for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, heat 1 tsp of oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up with a fork. When just cooked, remove the beef from the pan. Add the remaining teaspoon of oil and the onions, carrots, eggplant, zucchini, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are just softened. Remove from heat.

When the bulgar is ready, stir in the beef, vegetable mixture, and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Making the Tomato Sauce:
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic, onions, and herbs. Cook, stirring until the onions are soft. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, breaking up the tomatoes using your hands or a spatula. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Preparing the Cabbage Leaves:
Cut out the core of the cabbage and remove the leaves. Cut out the hard veins from the cabbage leaves. Boil a pot of water and when just boiling, place the cabbage leaves in the water, and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Place a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of 2 casserole dishes. Place a cabbage leave on a cutting board. Spoon some of the filling into the leaf and roll it. Use a toothpick to hold it together. Place the roll in the casserole. Continue with the other leaves. Once all the leaves are rolled, spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the rolls.

Bake in a 180 degree oven for about 30 minutes.