Sunday, July 5, 2015

Oatmeal Raisin Banana Bars - #SundaySupper

Generally, when it comes to baking for a crowd, I try to steer away from common allergies like nuts, dairy and eggs. Gluten and wheat are not generally a problem in our family or my workplace, with the exception of one second cousin, but I know of a few severe reactors to the other three in both camps. Being the only nutritionist - and certified baker - in the clan, I've been asked a few times to bring something everyone can enjoy when there's a birthday or potluck, and I'm always happy to oblige! I find that bar cookies are by far the best treats for parties, since not only are they perfect for making ahead and freezing, but they travel and hold exceptionally well too. In fact, I almost always freeze the pan of brownies or bars ahead of time and let it thaw out on the drive, ensuring that they are neither dried out, in the temperature "danger zone" or broken to bits by the time I arrive (the farthest we travel is about 2 hours away, for reference).

Oatmeal Raisin Banana Squares

Recently, these banana bars have been my go-to treat both at school and at home. The combination of toasty oats, brown sugar, melted butter and raisins bakes into something reminiscent of a butter-tart (coincidentally one of my mom's and my favourite desserts), while adding a mess of mashed bananas lends extra sweetness, moisture and an egg-like binding capability too. Both soft and chewy, they're perfect for every age - not to mention ideal for other additions if you care for them! I'm partial to sesame or sunflower seeds, but in the interest of simplicity I left them out of the below recipe. Plus, I never measure them...

Summer is in full swing. People are taking vacations, going to picnics and potlucks, or bringing food to those in need. This week, #SundaySupper is sharing recipes for food that travels well to a vacation destination, potluck party, or to someone who could use a good meal.

This event is being hosted by Marion of Life Tastes Good with help from Coleen at The Redhead Baker. Thanks, ladies!

Adventurous Appetizers
Destination Desserts
Mains in Motion
Sightseeing Sides
Traveling Treats

More Tips
Sunday Supper Movement 
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Camperless S'mores

Happy Canada Day everyone!! We up North may be winding down on our national birthday, but this "national day of hooky" is just the first in what looks to be a host of excuses to embrace Summer sun, heat and food!

One of those quintessential Summer treats is the s'more - that combination of ooey, gooey fire-toasted marshmallow, sweet and creamy chocolate and crispy graham cracker that both shatters and melts into oozy, decadent oblivion when you bite into it. Now, I don't know about you, but building up a big ol' campfire in the backyard isn't always practical (or legal) - especially if you have a gang over which includes a lot of wee ones, or if the soiree you're hosting is a little fancier than standard BBQ fare. I, for one, couldn't very well start stockpiling a heap of firewood in the back playground at my school when we're running the Summer camp, but since we're not doing anything else relatively "campy" (like pitching tents or hiking) I wanted to bring one of the gastronomic delights to the older kids right before our classes ended for the year.

S'mores without the campfire?  Yes please!  #teaching #MLCP #homeeconomics #sweet #summer #simplefood #vegetarian

Now, there are recipes for s'mores at home which use the broiler or oven to toast up the marshmallow, and they're delicious on their own. But to me, a s'more just isn't a s'more without that little touch of fire... not to mention we were without an oven in the Home Ec room. My solution? Bring the fire to the classroom with a kitchen torch, whip up a marshmallowy meringue and nestle a softer, graham-laced chocolate filling between mallow and graham. The combination worked better than I could have hoped for, yielding square upon square of Summery goodness that was, dare I say, fancy while being totally kid friendly!

Not only do these not require tromping outside at dusk with the blackflies and mosquitoes, but they're also seasonless - if you have graham crackers, chocolate and egg whites on hand and the butane topped up, nothing is stopping you from enjoying a little Summer at Christmastime!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sesame Orangeyaki Stirfry with Tofu

I've obviously been on a total citrus-teriyaki kick these days, trying to achieve a balance of the tastes and textures my fellow veggie and tofu loving mom and I both enjoy. When it's just the two of us for dinner, stir frying is generally the method of the day - we can add as many veggies as we want (without the "any meat?" comments from the peanut gallery) and it's relatively quick to whip up. Since we both really enjoyed the marinade from the Teriyaki Tofu "Jerky" and the sauce from the Saucy Simmered Teriyaki Tofu Bowl, I decided to use those as a base for an "everybody in the pool" saute.

Sesame Orangeyaki Stirfry with TofuThis time, instead of adding water and simmering, I cooked all the veggies, along with two types of tofu, in toasted sesame oil for extra flavour, and opted for fresh ingredients over dehydrated ones both for better texture and the sake of saving me a trip to the store. Being able to make the broccoli, onions, celery and peppers just crisp-tender while the onions and mushrooms cooked a little more, and letting the garlic and ginger bloom without burning really made a difference! Since it didn't cook as long (and I didn't want the sauce to make soup), I thickened the mixture with a little cornstarch when I added it at the end.

Notice that I said I used two types of tofu - the types I'm referring to aren't regarding the firmness of the protein (i.e. silken vs. firm) or the form in which I bought it (dried vs. water packed vs. fried), but the actual beans each block was made from. I've fallen in love with the Korean-style black soybean tofu from VitaSoy I found at the Asian market, and decided it's distinctive nutty flavour would play well with the sweet, salty and bitter notes in the rest of the mixture and heighten the taste of the sesame oil. I knew, though, that Mom would probably go for the "regular" extra firm stuff she was used to more willingly, though, so I compromised with a block of each with excellent results. That said, either one alone is fine - it's all about using what you have after all!

Shared with Waste Not Want Not Wednesday and Gluten Free Fridays 

Sesame Orangeyaki Stirfry with Tofu

Monday, June 29, 2015

Saucy Simmered Teriyaki Tofu Bowl

Remember how I promised that I'd share some of the other things I did with San-J's Orange and Teriyaki cooking sauces? Like 3 weeks ago?? Well, I finally managed to rescue the photos and recipes from hard disk death and have the original dish ready for you - along with a second, similar dinner I made recently (more on that tomorrow!).

Saucy Simmered Teriyaki Tofu Bowl

This first meal (well, meal when you add a side of rice or noodles) came almost straight out of The Dehydrator Bible too, using not only vegetables I dried at home but a new batch of the Teriyaki Tofu "Jerky" I had made specifically for this purpose. Since the author had added fresh orange flavour to the teriyaki sauce in her beef-broccoli dish, I kept with the theme, swapping in my tofu jerky for the beef in the original and adding San-J's Orange Sauce for an extra kick of citrus. It took a while for everything to rehydrate and simmer down, and the sauce was still slightly too runny for my own taste, though Mom liked sopping it up with brown sticky rice. However, the chewiness of the tofu was the opposite for us - I liked it's mouthfeel, and the fact it held the sauce well, while Mom wasn't as much of a fan. Our varied experiences proved to me that the dish is totally subjective, especially depending on what you served it with, and the fact that the flavour was still so good regardless was one of the reasons I made a second, more veggie-packed version recipe.

If you have an hour or so to kill and some Teriyaki jerky on your hands, I definitely suggest simmering up this pot of gluten-free, (almost) vegan yumminess a go. Just make sure to cook up a mess of rice or some other grain, otherwise you have (an admittedly delicious) soup on your hands instead!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Teriyaki Tofu "Jerky"

Tofu gets a fair amount of use in the household these days, given that both my mom and I have decided that the white block of concentrated vegan protein is not the creepy, gelatinous, blah hippie food we originally made it out to be. No, thanks to a decent preparation primer, a few years of trial and error and a healthy dose of adventurous nature, we've discovered a few go-to recipes - both savoury (like Chickpea, Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry - a fave of mom's, the Chinese Style “Bourbon Tofu” that won over the whole family and my staple Tofu-Roni) and sweet (Soy Awesome Cookies, anyone?). While the household is evenly split on the bean curd debate (my sister and stepdad still won't willingly eat it), Mom and I both find it easier to digest, not to mention almost fun to work with given it's uncanny ability to soak up flavours like nobody's business.

While I've cooked and baked tofu a variety of ways over the years, I'd never thought to turn it into a "jerky" - dehydrating it into an even more concentrated mass of protein than it already was. That said, when I got a copy of The Dehydrator Bible I immediately spotted the directions for marinating and drying tofu and had to give it a go. Out of all the flavour possibilities the book provided, teriyaki seemed the most logical for this originally Asian foodstuff and I went to town! The recipe first drains, presses and infuses the sliced soy curd with a sweet, savoury and slightly spicy marinade, then dehydrates it, making chewy, easy to store strips. Unlike "regular" jerky which can be stored at room temperature, the book suggests tofu jerky be stored in the fridge or freezer for the longest shelf life. The reasoning is that since tofu contains fat it can still go rancid, even when dried, but I would figure beef or any other meat would have the same problem! Either way, this stuff is so addictive that storage really isn't an issue - and not only is it a great on-the-go snack but it made it's way into a recipe too! That recipe will be coming soon - I really promise this time!*

Shared with Waste Not Want Not Wednesday and Gluten Free Fridays 

Teriyaki Tofu Jerky

*I've been totally AWOL from the blog for a while thanks to end of the year report cards and my hard drive crashing sucking up all my time. Things are *fingers crossed* getting back to normal now!