Saturday, September 24, 2011

Packable Snacks

I LOVE packing lunches! And I love making healthy snacks over the weekend so that I can add them to my lunches or snack on them throughout the week. Also, I make a lot make-ahead dinners (which I'll post on later) to prepare for the week. With school, homework, and cross country every day it's hard to find time to do my favorite thing--cooking! So I make things ahead of time so that I can enjoy them all week and I don't fall into what my mom calls "cooking withdrawal."

Here are two make-ahead recipes that you can easily separate into individual servings to get ahead on packing for the week.

Edamame Hummus
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed
2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
water or lemon juice, as needed

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until creamy. Add extra lemon juice or water until the hummus reaches the consistency you want.

Oatmeal Snack Bars
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sucanat
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
2 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Mix the flaxzeed meal and warm water together in a medium bowl and set aside to thicken while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
3. Mix together the oats, flours, cinnamon, sucanat, raisins, almonds, and cereal in a large bowl.
4. Whisk the almond butter, applesauce, and honey into the flax mixture.
5. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring to combine.
6. Spread the batter into an 8x8 square pan lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, or until browned and firm.

You can wrap these individually in plastic wrap to save for snacks during the week.

Or you can be eco-friendly and pack them in little reusable containers.

And then you can take embarrasing pictures of yourself depleting the stash of bars for this week...or not...

By the way, if you have any questions, comments, or requests, please leave a comment below!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Finally! I've tried making at least three or four gluten-free pizza crust recipes, which all turned out either crumbly, rock-hard, or like a gooey, gluey mess. I'd been trying to make it through without xanthan gum, but finally, I convinced my mom to buy it for me broke down and bought the darn $11 bag. I think it really made a difference, and is probably a neccessity if you are attempting a lot of gluten-free baking.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust
(adapted from this recipe)
Dry ingredients:
2 cups tapioca flour/starch
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup corn flour (not cornmeal)
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Yeast mixture:
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 packet)

Wet ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal mixed with 6 tablespoons warm water (or 2 egg whites)
1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, and let rest until the mixture is foamy.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the yeast mixture, then stir into the dry ingredients.
5. Separate the dough into two balls, then press each ball of dough out onto a silicon mat or parchment-lined baking sheet. You will have to wet you hands several times as you spread the dough out, since the dough is sticky. When it's done, you want the dough to be in about a 12-inch circle with a small lip around the edge for the outer crust.
6. Let the crusts sit for about 15 minutes, until the dough is not as sticky on the surface and is puffed up a little bit.
7. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then top with whatever toppings you like and bake again until toppings are done!
-This crust was agreed to be as good as regular pizza crust by my family, very non-gluten-free people! I was very excited to finally be successful, and I'm giving the credit to the tapioca flour and xanthan gumfrom Bob's Red Mill.
-I topped some of the pizza with regular cheese, and some with nutritional yeast, which I've heard has a cheesy flavor, but I wasn't such a fan.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

While summer is still officially around, I never think of it as "summer" once school rolls around. So, in my mind, it's fall already! I would say that fall is my favorite season, but I say that about every season it seems. I'm excited for winter so I can wear hats and gloves and go sledding and bake cookies, I'm excited for spring because I can run outside without being freezing and I need a whole new wardrobe, I'm excited for summer because there's no school and I can go swimming anytime I want, and I'm excited for fall because it means pumpkin, cinnamon, apples, boots, sweaters, leaves, and butternut squash. I love butternut squash (and pumpkin...).

Since there's nothing like warm, comforting, creamy soup on a fall evening (even when it's still sunny and 85 degrees outside) I made a wonderful butternut squash soup, which I'll probably reinvent at least 30 times this fall.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup (with chickpeas!)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
1 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus more as desired
zest of 1/2 an orange (don't leave this out!)
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F, and line a large and a small baking sheet with foil or a silicon mat.
2. Toss the butternut squash and onion with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread evenly on the large baking sheet and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until soft.
3. Place 1/2 cup of the chickpeas on the small baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven for 20 minutes (this can be done at the same time as the squash and onions). Reserve these for garnish.
4. When the squash and onions are done, place them in a blender with the remaining chickpeas, spices, broth, milk, zest, and some salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, adding more almond milk if you want.
5. Serve the soup garnished with a drizzle of olive oil, paprika, and the roasted chickpeas.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Homemade Ravioli

I actually made and enjoyed this recipe a while ago, but the first week of senior year held me back from posting it!

A few summers ago, making homemade pasta was probably my favorite cooking pastime. I made it all the time, and I ended up with a hand-crank pasta roller and a ravioli press that have been collecting dust ever since. Last week, before summer ended and I got all caught up in school, I broke out the pasta machinery one more time to make some awesome (vegan!) ravioli.

Zucchini and Spinach-filled Ravioli
Pasta Dough:
2 cups white whole wheat flour
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup water

7 oz (about 1/2 a package) firm tofu
1 cup packed fresh spinach
1 tablespoon miso paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
1/2 cup water, plus more if needed
2 medium zucchini, grated
1 cup ground almonds
olive oil

1. To make pasta dough: Mix flour and salt in a large bowl, add the olive oil and water, and work with your hands until you can form a ball out of the dough. You may need more water to make the dough workable. Wrap the dough in plasitc wrap and let it rest while you make the filling.

2. To make the filling: Combine the tofu, spinach, miso, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt, pepper, and water in a blender, and blend until smooth. In a saute pan, cook the zucchini with just a drizzle of olive oil until it's soft and most of the water has cooked out. Add the tofu mixture and ground almonds to the zucchini and stir to combine.

 3. Roll the pasta into sheets using a pasta roller, starting at the thickest setting and working down to the next-to-thinnest setting. Work with about 1/4 of the dough at a time. If you don't have a pasta roller, you can roll the dough out with a rolling pin, just try to make it very thin (probably about 1/16").

4. Lay one sheet of pasta in the ravioli press, fill with about 1 teaspoon filling, brush the edges of each ravioli with water, then lay another pasta sheet on top. Roll a rolling pin over the press to separate the ravioli, then turn the press over and remove the ravioli. If you don't have a ravioli press, simply drop the filling by teaspoonfuls onto a pasta sheet, making sure to leave about 2 inches between each scoop. Brush water in between the scoops and lay a pasta sheet on top, pressing to seal the ravioli. Then use a knife to cut the pasta sheet into ravioli.

5. You can place the filled ravioli on a floured baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap, and save them to cook later, or you can cook them immediately. To cook, simply boil a big pot of water, add a pinch of salt, and drop in the ravioli a few at a time. Cook them for about 3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon, and drop a few more in the pot.