Healthy Chai Tea Coconut Loaf

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Healthy Chai Tea Coconut Loaf

I don’t know about you, but at this time of year I want to trim down a bit while at the same time enjoying some of my usual favourites in new and healthy ways. Everyone loves a piece of breakfast loaf, however those recipes usually contain tons of fat, carbs and therefore calories – and let’s not mention how much worse the Starbucks, Tim’s and coffee shop treats are for you. However, this recipe has a nice blend of spice, sweetness, fibre all wrapped up in a really great,moist taste. This is a figure-friendly recipe that I absolutely love as it uses no butter nor oil. The batter smells heavenly even before you bake the loaf!

This is a simple, quick and healthy loaf to make

This is a simple, quick and healthy loaf to make

Chai Coconut Loaf
(yields 9 slices)

DRY:
1/3 cups of Quick-Cook Rolled Oats
(or whatever type of oats you have on hand)
1 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Ginger, minced*
3/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar (or 1-1/2 cup regular brown sugar)
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut, unsweetened

You probably have most of these ingredients on hand in your cupboard right now

You probably have most of these ingredients on hand in your cupboard right now

* TIP: I like to peel my fresh ginger and freeze it in a Ziploc bag.
For recipes like this it makes grating a 1/2 teaspoon very easy.

WET:
1 cup Chai Tea, steeped 5 minutes
1/3 cup Applesauce, unsweetened
1 tablespoon Vinegar
1/2 unsweetened Almond Extract
1 teaspoon Vanilla

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1. Preheat oven to 350*F

2. Place all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl, and stir together.

3. Add all wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Combine until just mixed as this is a quick bread so you don’t want to over-mix, or you will get a hard, tough loaf.

4. Grease loaf pan by spraying it quickly with Pam.

This loaf does not rise very much, so feel free to fill the pan right up

This loaf does not rise very much, so feel free to fill the pan right up

TIP: Dress up this loaf for Brunch by doubling the recipe, and baking it in a Bundt Pan. Simply adjust the baking time accordingly.

5. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into it comes out clean.

6. Slice and serve as-is without butter or margarine as the flavour is great. It’s best served warm by the way. It’s great after a 10-second refresher in the microwave.

Lots of fibre and tasty goodness in this 'slice of health'

Lots of fibre and tasty goodness in this ‘slice of health’

This loaf freezes wonderfully too! You may want to double this recipe and make two loaves, because you will love this guilt-free treat as a breakfast item or snack. TIP: I freeze the slices individually for quick breakfasts on the go.

What is your favourite loaf to bake?
How do you think you could make your usual version more healthy?

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Money-Saving Homemade Spice Rubs

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Money-Saving Homemade Spice Rubs

Save Money in 2013 by Making your Own Spice Rubs at Home

One of the treats that I love to buy for myself at the grocery store are new flavour-combinations in the form of spice mixes. Once upon a time, I was an Epicure Selections rep and sold spices and spice blends to my galpals. The ES spices are awesome, but I soon realized that it was very easy to combine spices to create my own spice blends, and at the same time save money.

Here are four of my current favourites… Lemon-Garlic-Herb, Spicy Paprika, Chili and Curry Rub. Spice up your New Year with spices blended from things you probably already have in your cupboard right now!

These four homemade spice blends are super quick to make and store for months

These four homemade spice blends are super quick to make and store for months

Unlike the other three spice rubs in this series, this rub is best made and used right away as it contains oil and fresh ingredients.

Lemon-Garlic-Herb

(yields 4 tablespoons)

WET:

1 tablespoon Lemon Zest, finely grated

3 Garlic Cloves, minced

3 teaspoons Olive Oil

DRY:

1 tablespoon Tarragon, dried

4 Bay Leaves, dried

1 ½ teaspoons Sea Salt

¾ teaspoon Black Pepper

Place the dry ingredients into your spice grinder (or mortal and pestle) and grind into a fine dust. I love using my Braun Coffee Grinder, which we have devoted to my spice blend creations as we so rarely buy whole bean coffee.

In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients and mix completely.

This zesty rub is ideal for leaner foods such as turkey or chicken breasts, and any flaky white fish such as halibut, cod, or snapper. Next time I’m definitely trying it on halibut!

I’ve used this rub in combination with a package of chunked up turkey breast meat in order to turn them into an easy low-cal turkey kebab meal.

This makes an easy marinade for Lemon Herb Turkey Kebabs

Just use 1 Tbsp. to make an easy marinade for Lemon Herb Turkey Kebabs

Spicy Paprika Rub

(yields 3 tablespoons)

½ teaspoon Allspice, ground

½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground

1 teaspoon Ginger*, ground

4 teaspoons Paprika

2 teaspoons Sea Salt

* If you only have fresh ginger, you will need quite a bit more than 1 teaspoon. Here’s a great article on the subject of ginger substitutions.

I love this rub on salmon! It’s a super, easy way to dress up a very healthy and good-for-you fish. It’s spicy combination would also work on fattier cuts of meat too, including: skirt/flank steak, pork loin, and whole chicken. NOTE: Smoked Paprika would also be very nice in this spice rub too.

But having lived in Vancouver for 13 years, my absolutely favourite salmon marinade is from a bottle. You can usually buy this in the seafood department of any Safeway.

Chili Rub

(yields 3+ tablespoons)

1 heaping tablespoon Chili Powder

2 teaspoons Cumin, ground

2 teaspoons Brown Sugar

1 teaspoon Oregano, dried

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. I like to transfer the mixture to a 125mL sealed jar for safe-keeping until I need it.

The brown sugar in this spice rub will caramelize on the meat while it cooks and provides a sweet glaze. Try this rub on whole chicken or turkey, pork tenderloin or chops, and most cuts of beef.

Curry Rub

(yields 3+ tablespoons)

4 teaspoons Curry Powder

1 ½ teaspoons Coriander, ground*

1 ½ teaspoons Sea Salt

1 teaspoon Ginger, ground

1 teaspoon Cumin, ground

½ teaspoon Black Pepper

½ teaspoon White Sugar

I’ve been told that this Indian-style rub is exceptional on lamb, however I do not cook lamb, so I like to use it on chicken which I pan fry in a bit of sesame oil and then add some coconut milk to make a nice, creamy sauce. It’s also great on shrimp.

* If using whole coriander seeds, simply pulse them first in your spice grinder until they become dust, then add other ingredients to complete the rub. Same goes for whole cumin seeds, if that is all you have.

What is your favourite Spice Blend/Rub recipe?
Please feel free to share it below in the Comments section.

Eat Smoothies NOT Waffles

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Eat Smoothies NOT Waffles

Eat Smoothies Not Waffles

Eat Smoothies Not Waffles

First I must apologize for the tardiness in my latest post. I’ve been doing too many things lately and with the seasonal cold that swept our household before Christmas, and Christmas itself, not to mention the kick-off to a very exciting New Year… well my food blog just took a back-burner these past three weeks. But here are a ton of posts of my favourite things just for you.

Happy New Year, may 2013 be truly amazing for you and yours!

This morning’s brunch was a lesson in many things. Today after finding this recipe on Pinterest, and craving these easy-to-make waffles for a year, I finally got to make them.

First step, borrow a waffle maker from a friend. Second step, locate Pillsbury product in your local grocery market – Superstore made them a bit hard to find. Third step, educate husband on how to use a waffle iron (i.e. spray with Pam, after each use). You can follow this recipe if you want to try this for yourself as I’m not going to bother typing the recipe up after my experience. I ate a half a waffle and then threw them out. It was like eating a combination of cardboard and shoe leather as there was no doughy texture left in the middle of the waffle. I kind of expected that as I’m not a fan of the Pillsbury Cinnamon Buns anyways.

Looks great - tastes like cardboard

Looks great – tastes like cardboard

I used Grands Pillsbury Cinnamon Buns, so maybe the ‘buns’ were too thick for the smaller machine that I borrowed. If you want to try this, I’d suggest you use a bigger waffle iron in combination with the smaller pack of cinnamon buns. This will more than likely help you to achieve that beautiful round shape as shown on this Simply Designing blog.

Also, we obviously have been neglecting our beautiful house-smoked bacon from our local German butcher as it was definitely off this morning and met its maker in the round-bin. Lesson learned – refreeze that great bacon in single-use packs. Better yet… stock up on the very low-fat/high-protein Freybe Back Bacon at Costco, which is where I’m off to today!

I took all this as a sign from the ‘weight-loss gods’, and it’s back to my usual 2013 breakfast of a blueberry (or strawberry) smoothie. Here’s how I make mine, and I love it thanks to a good friend who taught me a secret about picking the right protein powder.

Making a smoothie is super easy, fast, economical, and healthy!

Making a smoothie is super easy, fast, economical, and healthy! Now if I could just get my husband to drink them everyday – men!

Smoothie for One

  1. Pour ¾ cup skim milk into your blender.
  2. Add ¼ cup any fruit diced, and preferably defrosted frozen fruit does not break down as nicely as I would like in my blender (Is there a way to sharpen a blender’s blades?). I defrost a small baggie of frozen berries (enough for 2 smoothies) in my fridge overnight.
  3. Add a squeeze of Agave Nectar, about ½ to 1 teaspoon. Agave Nectar has a lower Glycemic Index than honey – Thank you Ellen DeGeneres for teaching me that!
  4. Add a scoop of LeanFit Whey Protein Powder* (I buy mine at Costco, I find you get twice the volume for half the price of the grocery stores.)
  5. Blend on high (Liquefy if you have a KitchenAid blender like mine) for 1-2 minutes. NOTE: The longer you blend your smoothie the more air gets into it, and adding more air amplifies mixture (think whipped cream). The the larger your smoothie gets – the fuller you will feel, longer. I can usually go from 7am to after 1pm on just this one smoothie.
  6. Pour and enjoy because it tastes just like a milkshake!

LeanFitProtein* This brand of protein powder does not contain fibre, and I realized that THIS is the protein powder that I love. It creates a nice, smooth smoothie without that undesirable chalkiness or grittiness. This brand is also low-carb, and contains 25g of protein. Having more protein at breakfast helps you feel fuller all day long. And it’s VERY hard to eat 25g of meat at 7am – at least it is for me.

TIMESAVING TIP: Make yourself a batch 5x this size, and pour into freezable drink containers so that you can grab-and-go in the mornings to work. I believe that my good friend just used Red Solo Cups as she’s a busy, working mom of two.

What is your favourite Smoothie recipe?
Please feel free to share it below in the Comments section.

Homemade Korean BBQ Sauce

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For those of you who are reading my Manitoba-Made Beef Short Ribs recipe at a distance and want to make them using a similar Korean BBQ sauce that you can easily make at home… please give this a try.

Korean BBQ Sauce & Marinade Ingredients

You will probably find that you have all the necessary ingredients in your kitchen right now

Korean BBQ Sauce & Marinade

1 cup White Sugar
1 cup Soy Sauce, low-sodium
1 cup Hot Water
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Fresh Ginger, grated
6 Green Onions (whites only), chopped
1 tablespoon Lime Juice
2 teaspoons Sriracha

1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, whisk together sugar, soy sauce, water, onion powder, garlic and ginger.

2. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to a low setting, and simmer at least 5 minutes.

4 Remove the mixture from the heat and cool it for 5 minutes.

5. Whisk in green onions, lemon juice and sriracha.

6. Cool and strain to store in a tightly sealed container in your fridge for up to a month. Or make a triple batch of my Manitoba-Made Beef Short Ribs using all of this sauce! You can probably omit the orange juice in that ribs recipe if you’re using this thinner sauce.

This recipe also makes a great marinade for any meat, especially chicken. Enjoy!

Makes 3 cups of yummy goodness

Makes 3 cups of yummy goodness

NOTE: If you find that the consistency is too thin for what you’d like, substitute brown sugar for the white sugar, and simmer the final mixture on low for a couple of hours to reduce it to a more sauce-y texture. You could also take 1/4 cup of your final sauce while it is hot and shake it with 1 tbsp. cornstarch to thicken, then add that mixture back into the whole pot and whisk together.
What is your favourite homemade BBQ Sauce recipe?
Please feel free to share it in the Comments section below.

3-2-1 Mug Cake: A Super Easy Mid-day Dessert

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I love cake, don’t you? I just don’t love all the dishes it takes to bake one. And with just the two of us… one cake is WAAAAAY more than we need to eat in any given week.

Earlier in the year I found out about how to make Mug Cake at home. Now I can make CakeFor1 or two, and here’s how you can too!

Take one Betty Crocker Super Moist Cake Mix and one Betty Crocker Angel Food Mix in any flavours or combinations you want. I chose chocolate, but we’ve already used up the vanilla! Mix them together in a large resealable container.

So simple! Mix together two cake mixes and have it ready to go - anytime.

So simple! Mix together two cake mixes and have it ready to go – anytime.

1. Use a regular sized coffee mug.

2. Add 3 tablespoons of your “Mug Cake Mix”.

Easy Chocolate Mug Cake in 3-2-1

Easy Chocolate Mug Cake in 3-2-1

3. Add 2 tablespoons of water, and stir until combined with a spoon or small whisk.
You could also use milk or any liquid I’m sure.

4. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
Caution… don’t try to bake more than 2 mugs at a time though.

Microwave for just one minute and voila! You've got cake.

Microwave for just one minute and voila! You’ve got cake.

5. Let cool for one minute, but be ready to eat it right away as it does not like to hang around to be eaten later.

6. Garnish with whatever you have on hand. I used white chocolate chips and chocolate sundae syrup.

7. Tuck your container of 3-2-1 Mug Cake Mix back in your cupboard for future use.

An amazingly simple dessert that even a non-baker can make in minutes

An amazingly simple dessert that even a non-baker can make in minutes

Suggestions for garnishes and flavour combinations…

* Use vanilla cake, strawberries and whipped cream from a can to create very fast Strawberry Shortcakes. Also great with ANY fruit or berry!
* Use prepared icing, which keeps so well in your fridge, to frost your Mug Cake.
* If you have an Epicure Selections Frother, you can make thick, fat-free whipped cream out of Skim Milk. Flavour it with any liqueur you have on hand, like Frangelico.
* Add bananas, butterscotch and a small scoop of ice cream for a unique Sundae-style Mug Cake.
* Use canned cherry pie filling, chocolate whipped cream and chocolate shavings to create a Black Forest Mug Cake.

How will you top your Mug Cake?
Please feel free to share your own personal combinations below.

Creamy Flank Steak Stoup: When Supper Transforms and Becomes Lunch

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One of my newly found, favourite recipes from last summer was Miles Thatcher’s Guinness & Honey Marinated Hanger Steak (I use flank steak) from the June 2012 issue of Flavours Magazine. I’ve made this recipe about 4 or 5 times since discovering it’s yumminess, and usually one flank steak is way more than enough for the two of us. And a great accompaniment to this recipe are my Spicy Marinated Mushrooms.

Guinness Beer

BUT… neither my husband nor I are big fans of Guinness‘ darkness… Nothing against the brand, but I just don’t drink beer. Initially I was leery of trying this recipe because I was worried that the strong taste of this Stout would be pronounced in the final result. But it’s not, this is an incredible BBQ recipe that you will want to add to your repertoire – forever.

Here’s a great tip… when I want to make this flank steak, I try not to waste the leftover 3/4’s of the can of beer… so I actually make a quadruple batch of the marinade, and freeze the extra three portions for later use.

So when you make this flank steak recipe, and if you have leftovers that you don’t want to use for sandwiches, fajitas, steak & eggs breakfasts or… whatever, please consider giving my soup a try for lunch the next day.

Just a lil' something I threw together

Just a lil’ something I threw together that was a big hit

Originally, I wasn’t going to blog about this soup because I’ve been including a lot of soup recipes lately. Plus, I’ve been making these soups up off the top of my head. It’s been very cold here in Winnipeg this past week, so soup has, of course, been top of mind.

After grocery shopping and picking up some fresh mushrooms and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup to have for an easy (i.e. discrete and not blogged about) lunch I found myself inspired to try yet another LunchFor1 soup recipe.

I had also picked up a couple Tetra Paks of Beef Broth because my freezer’s stash of broth was getting low, and it’s always a good idea to have some broth either in the cupboard, in the fridge, or in the freezer at all times for quick soups, sauces and stews.

So it was with these ingredients on hand that inspiration struck! Plus I had to do something with the leftover flank steak… and thankfully it all worked out – and we loved it!

Creamy Flank Steak Stoup

(Stoup is a word I first heard used by Rachael Ray, it’s Stew+Soup)

Leftover BBQ Flank Steak, diced

1L Campbell’s Beef Broth

1 Ready to Serve Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

20 Baby Carrots, chopped

3 Celery Stalks, chopped

3 cloves Fresh Garlic

1/4 Onion, diced

1/4 cup Pot Barley

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1 tablespoon Canola Oil

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1. Heat oil in large pot.

2. Add vegetables, and saute for 5 minutes.

3. Add diced beef and beef broth, and bring your soup to a boil.

4. Add uncooked barley to the pot, and turn down your stove to Medium-High. Cook for 30 minutes.

5. Stir in cream of mushroom soup just prior to serving, and warm the soup through for 5 minutes. NOTE: Overcooking this step may cause your soup to “break” or separated, so be careful.

6. This recipe made 4 hearty servings, with a side dish. Try my Chevre Grilled Cheese Sandwich or my Feta Dip and crackers as an accompaniment – those posts will follow later this week.

Soul warming, hearty goodness made quick and easy for a yummy supper or lunch.

Soul warming, hearty goodness made quick and easy for a yummy supper or lunch.

What recipe do YOU make for supper one night, and then turn around the next day and create an amazing lunch from?
I’d love to hear about it in the Comments section below.

Spicy Marinated Mushrooms – A Great Holiday Appetizers

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At this time of year it’s a great idea to have a few last-minute appetizers to pull out of your fridge to wow unexpected guests. These marinated mushrooms are super easy to make, and hold well for 3 to 5 days in the fridge, or can try canning them for a longer-lasting product.

Tender, spicy mushrooms for the fungi-fan in your family

Tender, spicy mushrooms for the fungi-fan in your family

Spicy Marinated Mushrooms

1/2 bag White Button Mushrooms, small
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
3 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
5 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce, Low-Sodium
1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Sriracha (or more)

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1. Boil a large pot of salted water.

2. Place the mushrooms whole into the boiling water for 7 minutes.
I do not recommend washing your mushrooms until just before you are going to cook them – a light washing is fine. I scrub mine 4 at a time in my hands under running water.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and sririacha.

3. Once the mushrooms are done boiling, drain them, and place them into a large resealable container.

4. Pour the liquid over the mushrooms, stir together, and cover with the lid.

5. Let your container sit on your kitchen counter to cool.
Allow the mushrooms to begin their marinading process at room temperature for a couple of hours.

6. Then you can refrigerate your mushrooms, and use as needed.

7. Create an Antipasto Platter by adding Roasted Red Peppers and Roasted Garlic. Serve the mushrooms with on a platter with room-temperature cheeses, deli meats and crackers or baguette.

TIP: The spicy taste is great!!! For a more intense flavour, pull the mushroom stems out of the caps before boiling which will allow the marinade to permeate into the mushroom from the inside.

These little, succulent snacks go well with any appetizer spread

These little, succulent snacks will go well with any appetizer spread you can dream up this Holiday season

Other Uses…

* Diced the marinated mushrooms up and use as a condiment on burgers or beef dip sandwiches.
* Mince them up to use as a mushroom tapenade on french bread.
* Pop off the stems, and pipe in some soft cheese like Boursin for a fancier appetizer.
* They’d be a great accompaniment to any steak.
* Excellent choice for use in any salad, especially to dress up a Caesar salad with fresh tomatoes.

What do YOU like to have with these mushrooms?
Please feel free to share your uses below in the Comments section.