Recipes

Grain Salads – Cooking Without A Recipe

I rarely actually cook from a recipe.  I think this is because I learned to cook by watching my mom make dinner while I did my homework at the kitchen counter. She would usually throw a bunch of whatever-was-in-the-fridge, plus some spices and herbs into a pan, make something saucy to go with it, and pour it all over some kind of grain with a salad on the side. I really like this style of cooking.

But some people, especially those who didn’t learn to cook growing up, rely on recipes for every meal. This works really well, and you get to learn about great spice combinations that have already been tried and tested. But sometimes you’ve got to throw together something last-minute and you don’t have all the ingredients you need for any one recipe that you know of (even if you’ve tried finding one with supercook), and that’s when knowing how to improvise comes in handy. So here is my guide for making the simplest, most nutritious improvised meal: a grain-based salad.

Grain-Based Salad

There are three important components to a grain-based salad.

Grain: you have so many to pick from. Usually I choose quinoa, but it’s not always from the most ethical sources, so consider picking other options from this list. All should be available at bulk food stores, which is usually the cheapest way to get them, and are pretty easy to cook.

  • Rice (white, brown, black, wild etc. – pick according to cooking time)
  • Couscous
  • Bulgur
  • Farro
  • Millet
  • Pasta

Veggies: You should have about the same volume of veggies as grain in your salad. Pick any veggie you want, and cut it up into small pieces (usually about 1-3 cm chunks). Include as many as you like. Some good options include:

  • Bell pepper
  • Tomato (drained of its juice)
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Kale or other leafy green (torn into small pieces)
  • Carrot (I prefer to grate carrots before adding them to a salad)
  • Jicama
  • Radish
  • Snap peas
  • Frozen peas, corn, or mixed veggies (just stick them in boiling water for a minute and drain)
  • FRUITS if you’re feeling confident and adventurous
    • Apples, pears, and mandarin pieces can be successfully incorporated into a savory salad

Protein: Many grains have some protein in them, but you’ll probably need more than what’s in there. Add any of the following.

  • Feta cheese
  • Chickpeas
  • Beans
  • Edamame (shelled)
  • Tofu (cubed and marinated)
  • Nuts or seeds (sunflower seeds are my personal favourite)
  • Egg (scrambled and mixed in, or fried and plopped on top)

Two more additions can bring your salad to the next level:

Flavourful additions: Small amounts of these can make the flavour of your dish pop

  • Green onions
  • Red onions
  • Shallot
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh basil (if you have none, throw some pesto in the dressing)

Dressing: Not all salads will need a dressing, but it can make the texture better and the flavours hang together. Mix an acid like vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, etc.) or lemon juice, with an oil (olive is best, sesame can be used in small quantities for flavour), and optionally add some flavouring like honey, jam, garlic, spices, or herbs. There are plenty of homemade dressing tutorials online. You can also do very well without adding the oil. I finish off most of my grain-based salads with just a squeeze of lemon juice.

Let me know if this was helpful and if you’d like me to continue this series with other kinds of improvisable dishes! Folks who already cook like this, what are your favourite things to put in a grain-based salad?

– Arlie

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Secret Ingredient Mac ‘N’ Cheese Cupcakes

Mac N Cheese Bites

These mouthwatering, portion controlled nuggets of mac n cheese are my go-to potluck dish. Now that we’re in peak potluck season, I thought I’d share my recipe with you. Plenty of recipes exist for mac ‘n’ cheese baked in muffin tins, but this one’s different: you’d never know it, but they include a secret ingredient that lends a beautifully soft and creamy texture, and makes it healthier!

Ingredients

• 1.5 cups dry macaroni
• 1Tablespoon butter
• 3 cups shredded cheese (I use combo of cheddar and parmesan, but you could also include mozzarella for texture or small amounts of other cheeses for flavour), 2/3 c of cheddar reserved.
• 3/4 cup shredded cauliflower (you could easily increase this amount without it being detected)
• ¾ cup milk
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (plus some salt if your breadcrumbs are unseasoned)
• scant 2 teaspoons olive oil

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, shred cheeses and cauliflower, and mix breadcrumbs with olive oil. Trust me, do this before you start cooking the pasta. You’ll also need to oil a cupcake tin.
2. Boil macaroni until just underdone, about a minute from al dente. Drain and return to pot.
3. Add butter and cheese except for reserved cheddar, mix until melted.
4. Add cauliflower, milk, and egg, and mix until well coated.
5. Spoon into oiled muffin tins, distributing liquid from the bottom of the pot if left over.
6. Top with reserved cheddar, then breadcrumb mixture. Making sure to cover the top of each with cheddar will significantly improve the texture.
7. Bake for 25 min.
8. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan, to allow the cheese to set.

Fills 12 regular muffin tins.

– Arlie

The Panty Dropper

So back in late August my roommate, Colette, and I were unpacking and she told me about this drink called “The Panty Dropper.” So we innocently made this alcoholic concoction not realizing that we would be very drunk after half a glass. Not like we got drunk enough off one innocent glass to start stripping, however we do now understand why some frat-boys created the drink in the first place. So today, a week before closing night of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” I will share this drink recipe with you. Yes, this is what I plan to drink not-so-classily out of very large mason jar on Saturday night. All actors out there will understand the magnitude of a closing night party. Arlie and I have shared many stories about our various closing night shenanigans. For those non theatre people out there, it’s the one night where we get very drunk and celebrate a job well done after 6 weeks of hell.

So “The Panty Dropper” sounds disgusting. But if you feel the need to get drunk fast, it’s a great way to go. This recipe is enough to make in an ice tea container.

“THE PANTY DROPPER”

Ingredients:

  • A 26 of vodka.
  • A case of beer.
  • 2 cans of frozen pink lemonade.
  • A lemon as garnish (totally optional).

Instructions:

  • Start by making lemonade. Except instead of using water, use the vodka. Yes that means you add around 4 cans full of vodka.
  • Once the vodka and lemonade concentrate mixture has been stirred together add the beer. When we first made this we used Molson Canadian, but I suggest maybe spending a little more and getting something a little better.
  • Add the beer to taste. Probably around 4 cans, you want enough beer so it makes the drink fizzy.
  • Cut up a lemon and add it into the drink for looks and to add some “fruity” taste.
  • Get drunk off “The Panty Dropper.”

Well, there you go. A new alcoholic drink for you to try.

– Alannah

Apple Carrot Crumble

Apple Carrot Crumble | Made Out of Glue

Alright everyone.

I am REALLY excited to share this recipe with you. I personally think that I’m a genius for coming up with it, but you’ll have to judge that for yourself when you make it.

This unusual crumble is fragrant, perfectly textured, and sweet but totally breakfast-level-healthy. HUGE bonus if you have a juicer, like me, you can use the pulp leftover after juicing carrots in this recipe. I hate throwing all that delicious healthy fibre away. OK I can tell I’m getting weird and nerdy, so let’s just move on to the recipe.

Ingredients

Topping

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cook oats
  • 2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet your tooth is)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Filling

  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup carrot juicer pulp or finely grated carrot*
  • 1/4 cup apple cider, apple juice, carrot juice, or water (add an extra Tablespoon of liquid if using juicer pulp)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°C.
  2. Mix together first 4 topping ingredients in a small bowl. Add melted butter and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Dissolve cornstarch in the cider, then add sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon, and mix well.
  4. Mix apple and carrot together in a medium bowl. Add liquid to the apple and carrot and mix to coat.
  5. Place filling in a greased casserole dish**, pack down, and cover with topping.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.

*I didn’t grate my carrot finely when I made this recipe to take pictures for this post and the texture suffered – so take my advice and grate that carrot good.

**I use a smaller round casserole dish for a deep-dish crumble, but you can also use a 9×9 inch dish for a regular-depth crumble.

– Arlie

Turmeric Pumpkin Smoothie

Turmeric Pumpkin Smoothie

I’m currently working on my third gigantic can of pumpkin purée of the month. I have eaten pumpkin in every meal of the day for several days in a row. Possibly my favourite pumpkin dish is mac n cheese – my personal recipe is very similar to this one by CCK, except non-vegan, and I usually add onion and a bit of nutmeg and sage. I’m also a fan of pumpkin grilled cheese. So that covers lunch and dinner, but how to I incorporate pumpkin into breakfast (other than eating pumpkin pie for breakfast, which I am guilty of)? In smoothies of course!

A standard pumpkin smoothie uses pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg), but this one features turmeric, a superspice with anti-inflammatory properties among others. Personally, I just like it because it tastes good.

Ingredients

  • ½ frozen banana, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin purée
  • ½ apple peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • ½ teaspon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • sprinkle each of cardamom, ginger, cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 cup almond milk

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Serves 1

– Arlie

3 Minute “Baked” Apples

3 Minute "Baked" Apple

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

So you’re all ready for thanksgiving dinner. Turkey? Check. Mashed potatoes? Check. Pumpkin pie? Check. BUT OH NO! You just remembered one of your guests is gluten-free! (In this case, my mom, who’s celiac – the real deal) But you can’t let them go without dessert! Enter the easiest, fastest most delicious, reasonably healthy fall dessert ever.

Made in the microwave so it’s ready within minutes. Perfect for students with those annoying kitchenettes that don’t have ovens. Or people who are impatient.

Ingredients

  • 1 baking apple (Cortland, Ida Red, Golden Delicious, Empire…you have options)
  • 1 Tablespoon almond meal
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Carve a narrow hole out of the middle of the apple – essentially coring it, just enough to remove the seeds.
  2. Mix last three ingredients together in a bowl, then pack the mixture into the middle of the apple.
  3. Place the stuffed apple in the middle of a square of parchment paper, gather the paper up around the apple and twist.
  4. Place the packaged apple on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 2 minutes.
  5. Unwrap when ready to eat.

Serves 1*

*Most of my recipes just serve one because I only cook for myself. If you want to make more of these, just increase the ingredients and microwave the apples separately or multiply the microwave time by the number of apples you’re cooking.

– Arlie

Kale Caesar Salad

Light Kale Caesar Salad

I feel like all of my great inventions happen the same way: someone tells me about a Great Thing that exists. I get really excited about it. I experience the Great Thing and it’s nothing like I imagined. I make my own version. See the Green Tea Ice Cream Cocktail, that time I made a Doctor Who fanvideo, and this Kale Caesar Salad.

One of my biggest food pet peeves is when caesar salad is smothered in dressing. Gross. So here’s a light caesar salad with all the flavour you could want, and everyone’s favourite leafy superfood, kale.

Ingredients

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced (use a garlic press if you have one)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard (dijon, for best effect)
  • 2 cups washed, de-stemmed kale, ripped into reasonable pieces
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated parmesan cheese
  • optional: croutons, I’d suggest homemade ones for cost-effectiveness
  • optional: 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Combine the garlic, olive oil, and mustard in a small container and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, add the lemon juice to the kale and massage. If you’re not familiar with the practice of massaging kale, welcome to a whole new world. It makes this tough green tender and delicious within a minute or so of squishing between your hands. It’s done when all the kale is a rich, dark green.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil mixture over the massaged kale, and toss. If you don’t want a ridiculously garlicy salad, just drain the olive oil onto the greens – the garlic will have imparted its flavour to the oil while they sat aside.
  4. Sprinkle parmesan over the greens and toss again.
  5. Add crutons if desired. To make this salad into a meal, I love to fry and egg and plop it on top for some protein. If you know how to poach eggs, that’s an even healthier option.

Serves 2 (side) or 1 (meal)

– Arlie

S’more Mug Cake

Summer’s ending, it’s getting cold outside, let’s make us some summer memories in the comfort of our own kitchen!

Omnomnom

Instead of using graham cracker crumbs, which bog down the bubbles and make this vegan recipe very dense, I use regular flour with graham cracker flavouring to make the cake part of this delectable microwave dessert. The secret to the marshmallow part is marshmallow fluff, which is greatly superior to mini marshmallows in that it doesn’t just melt and disappear in the microwave.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey (sorry hardcore vegans – this is important to the graham cracker taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons milk (any kind – I use almond)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon marshmallow fluff (if you can’t find this, you can just use mini marshmallows. If you’re vegan, there is a vegan version, or use vegan marshmallows)
  • a few chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together dry ingredients, then add the rest except marshmallow and chocolate chips. Mix until just smooth.
  2. Spoon 2/3 of the mixture into a buttered mug – this is a small (but intense) cake, so use a small mug.
  3. Spoon marshmallow fluff into the centre of the first layer of batter, and spread it out as much as possible.
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the marshmallow fluff.
  5. Spoon the rest of the batter on top of the marshmallow and chocolate, spreading it to cover them.
  6. Microwave for 50-70 seconds – this will vary depending on your microwave, but your cake is done when the cake just looks dry on top.
  7. Let cool a couple minutes and enjoy with a glass of milk (or not, whatever, I’m not gonna dictate your beverage choice)

S'more Pinnable

~ Arlie

Vegan Granola Bars (feat. C.Habs)

Ever been really hungry and wanting a tasty afternoon snack? Hate overpriced granola bars? Well, my roommate Colette and I love tasty snacks and hate buying groceries so we decided to make our own VEGAN granola bars! And you know what, they were really great and easy to make!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Agave
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Almond milk
  • 2 1/2 cup of five grain granola (we opted for low fat raspberry almond to make things more interesting)
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp of melted Coconut oil
  • OPTIONAL: you can add frozen fruit! Like raspberries, or blueberries or strawberries etc! Since our granola came with raspberries we decided not to add this, but you can pretty much add whatever you want! Maybe even peanut butter or Nutella…I say this with Arlie in mind…

 

Me Mixing                        The Mixture

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Use a non-stick baking pan…or if you are using a glass Tupperware container like us…then line it with Pam or canola oil).
  3. On low, melt the coconut oil in a small pot on the stove. If you are like Colette and I and keep the applesauce in the fridge, then we advice also mixing in the applesauce on the stove once the coconut oil has melted. You do not want to add cold applesauce to hot coconut oil because then the coconut oil will go back to its hardened state (something I learned today…).
  4. Pour the applesauce and coconut oil mixture into a mixing bowl. Add in the cinnamon, agave, and almond milk. Use a whisk to mix the ingredients together. Once complete, add the granola.
  5. Mix the granola with the wet mixture until the granola is completely covered.
  6. If you wish to add in optional ingredients, make sure to gently fold them in. Fold until completely covered in the mixture.
  7. Put the completed mixture into a baking pan. Press in firmly.
  8. Cook at 350 degree F for 16-20 minutes. Let the bars cool to room temperature before enjoying.

 

VEGAN GRANOLA BARS!

VEGAN GRANOLA BARS!

 

 

 

BAM! I just did a recipe blog! Arlie should be proud!

(NOTE: Colette helped a lot…thank you to my wonderful roommate).

Green Tea Ice Cream Cocktail

A few weeks ago, I went out for a friend’s birthday, and ordered a Matcha Gin Matsu cocktail, which looked absolutely delicious. When I ordered, the waiter asked “Do you like green tea ice cream?”, to which I responded with an enthusiastic yes (it’s my favourite). Much to my disappointment, the cocktail, though lovely, did not taste at all like green tea ice cream, and I went home determined to make my own green tea ice cream cocktail. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream or other cream based liqueur
  • 2 teaspoons matcha powder
  • about 10 ice cubes OR 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
  • dash of spirulina powder for colour (optional)

Instructions

Put all ingredients in a blender together and blend until smooth. Serves 2.

MOoG 1 PinnableJust wait until I get my food photography act together. It’s gonna be glorious.

~ Arlie