Whole Grain Blueberry Coconut Muffins

I have this muffin recipe that I’ve been making for years now. I have it written down by hand on a recipe card that is stained from various baking ingredients being splashed all over it over the years. It’s a wonderful recipe that I use all the time. As I learned recently, it’s also very easy to modify to suit any preference or dietary restrictions. I have a friend at work who is allergic to dairy and soy. We were having a celebration and I wanted to make sure that she would be able to enjoy something to eat too, so I took it upon myself as a challenge to produce a baked treat that was dairy AND soy-free. DSCN1169 I’m beginning to think that coconut and blueberry are a match made in heaven. The tart/sweet bite of the blueberries, combined with the mellow and subtly sweet coconut flavour is a combination that I’ve started to appreciate more and more lately. (Perfect example: Coconut Blueberry Popsicles) DSCN1170 To keep this recipe dairy-free, I used coconut oil instead of butter. The Western Family kind has a really nice intense coconut flavour to it. Love it! DSCN1171 Surprisingly, (and thankfully) my co-worker had no trouble with eggs, so I was able to make the muffin base quite easily. DSCN1172 For the milk in this recipe, I substituted coconut milk. DSCN1173 The hardest part was finding a dairy-free and soy-free yogurt substitute. I took to twitter to ask the wonderful #yegfood community if they knew where I could find some and sure enough, Save-on-Foods carries So Delicious cultured coconut milk yogurt. It was actually really tasty! DSCN1175 I added all the base ingredients together. DSCN1176 Then I mixed the dry ingredients together. (What else would I have used other than Gold Forest Grain‘s Soft White Wheat flour?) DSCN1177 I had tripled the recipe, so I had to use my big huge soup pot to mix everything together. Here I was being all McGuiver-ish. DSCN1178 Here’s the batter all mixed. DSCN1180 By tripling the recipe, I was able to make two loaves and 12 muffins. Not bad, eh?! DSCN1181 Here they all, all baked to perfection. DSCN1182 Enjoy, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, coffee (or preggo-approved decaf tea in hand), with a good book. Whole Grain Blueberry Coconut Muffins You will need 2 eggs 2/3 cups sugar 1/2 cup milk (I used 1/2 cup of coconut milk) 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used 1/4 cup coconut yogurt) 1 tsp vanilla (or if you have coconut extract, use it for even more coconut flavour!) 1/4 cup melted butter (I used 1/4 cup melted coconut oil) 2 cups whole grain flour 1 tbsp baking powder 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries   Instructions Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the milk, yogurt, vanilla or coconut extract and melted butter. Gently whisk to combine. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to milk/egg mixture and stir until flour just disappears into the mix. Gently stir in the berries. Spoon batter into muffin tin or loaf pan. Bake at 375 for 25 mins, or until a toothpick can be removed from the centre of the loaf/muffin clean. Enjoy, a lot!

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Shrimp and Mushrooms in Garlic Tomato Bisque Sauce

I just love it when I find a recipe pinspiration that I have all of the ingredients for in my fridge or freezer. It’s such a great feeling to be able to create a unique and fun meal from scratch with all of the right ingredients. This one is definitely a new favourite!DSCN1188

Begin by cooking down some tomatoes and garlic in olive oil in a medium saucepan.

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This will be the base of your bisque sauce. DSCN1190

I used by handy-dandy ground meat crusher from Pampered Chef to mush the tomatoes into more of a paste. DSCN1191

Remove the tomato sauce base from the pan. Using the same pan, add your diced onions and mushrooms. DSCN1192

Now it was time to made the bisque sauce. It was so simple and combined from fantastic flavours! I used Elaine Wilson’s Sweet Chili Sauce from Food You Can Cook. I only have one bottle of it left, so I am trying my darndest to make it last!DSCN1193

Add your tomato sauce base back to the pan and add the sour cream and and chili sauce. Stir to combine. Add in the chicken broth and incorporate well. DSCN1194

I was recently invited to attend a cooking demo, sponsored by Minute Rice. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend that evening, but they still generously sent me some free product. (I LOVE being a food blogger!) I served this recipe with the Whole Grain Brown Rice. Honestly, it was absolutely delicious. I love how quickly it cooks (10 mins!!), and you get all the nutritional benefits of eating brown rice rather than white. Rock on, Minute Rice. Thank you!

DSCN1195Ok! Back to the recipe. While the rice was cooking, I peeled and deveined the shrimp and let the sauce boil off a little to get a little thicker.

DSCN1196Then I added the shrimp and let cook for no more than 5 mins (rubbery, overcooked shrimp is one of the saddest kitchen tragedies…)

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Here’s the rice, all fluffy and tasty and ready to be served!DSCN1199Serve the shrimpy, mushroomy bisque on top of the rice and enjoy a hearty, healthy meal of deliciousness.

Shrimp and Mushrooms in Garlic Tomato Bisque Sauce (Courtesy of Natasha’s Kitchen)
You will need:
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 5 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 Lb Mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 Lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp sea salt

What to do:

  1. In a medium-large skillet or saucepan, combine your diced tomatoes and pressed garlic with 3 Tbsp olive oil and simmer uncovered over medium heat until tomatoes are soft and release their juices (10-12 min). If they are still holding their shapes well, mash them up a bit with a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Remove your tomatoes and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet over med/high heat, caramelize your diced onions and sliced mushrooms then add the tomato mixture back into the same pan.
  3. Add 1 tsp salt, ½ cup sour cream and 1 Tbsp chili sauce. Stir to combine. Add in 1½ cups chicken broth and stir to combine.
  4. If you like a thicker sauce, let simmer over med-high heat for about 10 mins to release some of the water in the sauce.
  5. Once your sauce has reached the desired thickness, add in the shrimp. Turn the shrimp a couple times in the sauce while cooking and simmer until shrimp is cooked through. Don’t overcook or your shrimp will turn rubbery.
  6. Let the sauce cool down a little bit, then serve over whole grain brown rice.
  7. Enjoy, a lot!

Easy Coconut Cinnamon Buns

Oh cinnamon buns. They have always been a delicious vice of mine. I’ve also been on a pretty awesome coconut kick lately, using coconut oil rather than butter, and coconut milk over regular milk, in a few recipes. (Mostly for flavour – I promise, I’m not going vegan!)DSCN0987

I’m not sure if I’d fall into the trap of the new coconut oil fad. I mean, there is a time and place for butter that any other oil would not be able to replace (chewy chocolatey cookies, anyone?), but it is a nice substitute when you’re looking for a different flavour. DSCN0988

This recipe was the epitome of coconutiness. It even called for coconut sugar. Since I did not have that, I used the classic brown sugar, cinnamon and oil mix for the filling. DSCN0989

I decided it was high time to clean out the freezer of some of the bags of flour I had kicking around in there. I had about a cup left each of Gold Forest Grain‘s Soft White Wheat, Einkorn Flour and Red Fife. Since the recipe did not require yeast, I figured: “why not combine them for a whole grain flavour sensation?”DSCN0991

Here are the dry ingredients.DSCN0992

Mix in the wet ingredients. DSCN0995

Form into a ball and turn onto a floured surface. DSCN0996

Roll it out into a big log. DSCN0997

Then add the tasty filling. DSCN0999

Next, roll it up into a tasty, spiral-log. DSCN1000

Then cut it up into cinnamon bun parts. DSCN1001

Place into a greased baking dish and pop them in the oven at 425 and bake for about 15 mins, until the tops are golden brown. DSCN1002

For the icing, I decided to keep with the tasty coconuty theme. I used coconut milk, cream cheese and icing sugar. DSCN1004

Into the food processor it all went. DSCN1007

Here they are! Incredibly tasty, easy to make, coconut, whole grain cinnamon buns. DSCN1009Drizzle the icing all over and enjoy on a lazy Sunday morning, coffee in hand.

Easy Coconut Cinnamon Buns

For the Filling:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted

For the Dough:
2 cups whole grain flour, plus more for rolling out dough
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk
5 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted

For the Icing:
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened* If you’d like to make these vegan, omit the cream cheese.
4 tablespoons coconut milk (or whatever was left from the can)
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Combine filling ingredients in a small bowl, then mix with a fork until well blended.
  2. In a another bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. Whisk together the coconut milk and melted coconut oil in a separate bowl, then pour into the middle of the dry ingredients. Stir together until dough comes together. Kneed slightly with your hands until the dough forms into a ball, then transfer to a lightly-floured surface.
  3. On the lightly-floured surface, roll the dough out long and flat. Add your filling, pushing it right to the ends and covering as much of the surface as possible. Roll into a large spiral and pinch together the end seams. Cut into 2 inch-thick buns. Place rolled buns in a sprayed pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the icing, warm cream cheese slightly in the microwave. Transfer all ingredients to the food processor and process until smooth.
  5. When cinnamon buns are ready, drizzle with icing and serve warm. Enjoy, a lot!

Eat Alberta 2015

I was so very fortunate to be able to attend Eat Alberta again this year. I attended in 2011, the inaugural year, and then I volunteered in 2013. Eat Alberta teaches participants all about local food, how to cook it, where to source it and how to enjoy it, through practical, hands-on workshops, sit-down learning or tasting sessions, as well as keynote and plenary sessions. (Sounds right up my alley, no?)

This year, the sessions were organized into streams, including two hands-on sessions and two learning/tasting sessions: the perfect mix of hands-on application and knowledge gathering. DSCN1202

After a wicked keynote session all about permaculture and sustainable farming from Takota Coen from Grassroots Family Farm, we started off the day with a hands-on session on corn tortilla-making with the great Elaine Wilson. I’ve always been a huge fan of Elaine’s work and spices (as you’ve seen throughout my recipes on the blog), so it was great to get the opportunity to cook with her again!DSCN1203

Elaine taught us how to make authentic Mexican corn tortillas from scratch. We learned where to get the ingredients and equipment you need to create a real Mexican fiesta right at home!DSCN1205

Start with Mesa flour (Mexican corn meal flour): 2 cups flour to 1 cup water. Then, use your hands to fully incorporate it all together. DSCN1206

You want to mix it until it starts to feel a bit like plasticine. Next, begin forming your little tortilla balls. DSCN1208

Using a tortilla press, press the ball between two pieces of plastic. DSCN1210

Pull down the lever to press, but don’t press too hard, or else your tortilla will be too thin!DSCN1211

Now you’ve created the perfect sized tortilla (about 4-5 inches in diameter)!DSCN1213

Elaine preheated her pan over medium-low heat to ensure that the tortillas would cook evenly. She didn’t use oil, which was nice (I’ve not a huge fan of oily foods). DSCN1214

Then, pop about three into your pan at a time (depending on how big it is!). Elaine mentioned that you will know its time to flip your tortillas once they begin to stream and the edges begin to lift slightly off the pan.

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See how the edges are lifting a little off the pan? It’s flippin’ time!DSCN1218

She had generously made us a whole bunch the day before, so that we could enjoy them at the end of the session. She brought a wonderful assortment of black beans, queso, and an array of condiments to fill our tortillas with. I have no idea why I didn’t take a picture of the assortment. I must have been way too distracted by the eating to remember the picture taking… sorry all!DSCN1222

Now it was our turn to try our hands at cooking the tortillas. They turned out quite nicely, having followed Elaine’s great tips and tricks. DSCN1223

Next, Elaine showed us how to make pupusas. Using the same dough, she made a patty with a small pocket in the inside. She then filled the pocket with re-fried beans, topped it off with another patty and sealed it up. DSCN1224

In Mexico, they call these Gorditas (which translates to “fat little one.” Oh yea! I just love how literal Mexican Spanish can be!) Elaine fried them up in some canola oil. DSCN1226

Here’s a picture of one cut in half. It was absolutely scrumptious!!

Next up, my sister and I got to learn how to make authentic Chinese green onion cakes with Slow Food Edmonton‘s lovely King Franks. We were originally signed up to take a cocktail tasting class at the time, but seeing I would be unable to enjoy it to its full extent, I asked it if would be possible to shift over to another session. The Eat Alberta Team was so incredibly accommodating in my request. I thank them whole hardheartedly!

DSCN1233Ming told us the story behind her family’s authentic green onion cake recipe: Her and her mom would use leftover dumpling dough to create these tasty cakes. They became a neighbourhood favourite and they began making them more frequently. For our hands-on session, Ming showed us how to create a hot water dough, for easy of cooking. First, take a pair of chopsticks to mix the flour and water together.

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When mixed, dump it all onto your work surface.DSCN1235

Then, begin kneading it together until it forms a uniform (and super hard) ball. DSCN1236

See? Ming made one the ay before to give it time to rest overnight, to show us how quickly it softens up once its had time to sit. DSCN1243

Now it was time to roll it out. DSCN1248

Try to keep it round. DSCN1249

Then baste it with oil. DSCN1252

Add salt and green onions. (Ming had some seasonal chives growing in her garden, so she use that instead!)DSCN1253

Have you ever noticed that with green onion cakes, there are tasty little layers of deliciousness as you bite into each wedge? Well, here’s how you make those layers: roll the dough up like a cinnamon bun. DSCN1254

Then, roll the sausage up from end to end, until they meet in the middle. DSCN1255

Take each end, then lay one of top of the other. DSCN1257

Here’s another shot of the dough, once the “sausage” had been rolled end to end. DSCN1258

Then twist the ends and lay one on top of the other. DSCN1259

It’ll kind look like a snail, with little green bits of deliciousness trapped inside. DSCN1260

Next, you roll it out to make the cake! Voila! All those tasty layers of doughy, green oniony flavours are all trapped inside the cake. DSCN1262

Next, it was time to fry the cakes over a medium heated pan, with about 2 tbsp of canola oil sizzling away in there. DSCN1264

The cakes will come out crispy-brown on each size. Hmm!!

Ming made us a variety of dipping sauces to eat our green onion cakes with, but again – I must have been too fascinated by the concept of eating to even remember to take a photo! (Sorry about that…)

DSCN1271 After an incredible lunch made by the wonderful chefs at NAIT (complete with desert!), it was time to learn all about egg cookery with Allan Suddaby. Allan is the Chef at Elm Cafe, and he also writes and awesome blog called Button Soup. He was extremely knowledgeable about all things eggs, and it was a great experience to be able to learn about the versatility of such an essential ingredient.

Now, I have to admit, the reason why I was so extremely excited about taking this class is because, where I have a lot of other skills in the kitchen, I have not yet mastered the art of making a egg (I know, I am still a little baffled by this as well… I mean, I can cook a pilaf from scratch, but I can’t properly fry an egg without breaking the yolk! I was so happy Eat Alberta Helped me remedy this!).

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Allan taught us the proper way to hard boil an egg – Bring a pot of water to a boil, then let reduce it to a low rolling simmer. Cook the eggs for exactly 15 minutes. DSCN1280

Then transfer them to an ice water bath right away, to stop them from cooking any further. DSCN1283

He also taught us the fine art of frying an egg without breaking the yolk (something I have never been good at.)DSCN1284

I managed it in this class, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself!! (I think what had really helped was the amount of butter that we melted into the pan before cracking the egg in there!)

I also poached my first egg (also in a low rolling simmer, this time for exactly three minutes.) It didn’t look as nice, so I didn’t take a picture… sorry!

 

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Allan also taught us how to make a tasty homemade mayo. Separate one egg yolk into a bowl. Add salt and vinegar and whisk away. Next, begin drizzling oil into the bowl as you whisk. Allan estimates 1 yolk for approximately 1 cup of oil, but, because he was eyeballing it, it looked to me more like 1/2 or 3/4 of a cup than a full cup.

Allan’s session was really great! It really put eggs into a whole new light for me. I was so happy to finally add properly cooked eggs to my repertoire!

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Next session, we got to learn all about cooking with wild roses with Debra Krause (Deb the Locavore) and Molly MacDougall. The class was so interesting! We learned where to forage for local wild rose petals and hips and how to use them, once harvested. We got to taste incredible rose hip teas, a jelly, syrup and puree, and learn about where to get them, if you’re unable to go foraging yourself this summer… (Blush lane for bulk dried rose hips!)DSCN1293I took a picture of the syrup recipe for future, when I have a moment to hunt down the dried rose hips.

After that session, there was a wonderful afternoon plenary session with Jennifer Cockrail-King and Marlo Moo, all about food writing. In Jennifer’s care, it was really interesting to hear a real food writer talk about her career as food writer (confession: that would totally be my dream job!!).

Next, we had our wine down session and tasting boards. Again – for some reason – I missed taking a picture before devouring my plate (My pregnancy is turning me into a terrible food blogger!). It was choker-bock full of delicious local food.

This year’s Eat Alberta was a blast!! Thanks to the organizers for their incredible hard work and for the wonderful day of local foodie awesomeness.