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I can hardly believe it’s been over two years since my last post!! It would be an understatement to say that a lot has happened in my life in that time. But one thing has remained – I LOVE TO COOK AND BAKE! And, I love to share my favourite recipes with my friends. So, without further ado, here are two super yummy recipes for Bundt cake I recently discovered and have already made several times just this past week. You’ll want to make these for your family and friends this weekend!

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

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This is adapted from the Williams-Sonoma recipe, “Orange-Spice Pumpkin Bread”, which you can find on their website. It is my favourite of the two recipes I am posting today. The first time I made it I baked it in a glass loaf dish, but the centre didn’t / couldn’t bake fully. The next day I made it again but used my Bundt pan instead – it turned out perfectly!

Also, instead of using the 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice, and 1 tsp cinnamon as is listed in the Williams-Sonoma version, I used 2 tsp SURAJ brand “garam masala” (an Indian spice blend consisting of various other spices in addition to the four above-mentioned spices). It is definitely worth purchasing (I got mine from No Frills) and using in this recipe. And I promise to post more recipes that call for this incredible spice blend in the very near future!

Finally, the original recipe calls for 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks of butter), which I did use the first time around but substituted with 150 ml of oil thereafter (I have used canola, olive oil, and walnut oil on separate occasions and they all turned out beautifully).

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 – 4 tsp garam masala (the amount depends on how “spicy” you want the cake to be)

Wet Ingredients
150 ml oil (canola, olive, or walnut)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granular sugar (this is reduced from the Williams-Sonoma’s 1 cup)
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Combine dry ingredients. Whisk all wet ingredients for 2 – 3 minutes on medium-high. Blend in dry ingredients on low speed, scraping bowl. Pour batter into greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes. Using a wooden toothpick, check for doneness. Let cool in Bundt pan for at least 15 minutes before gently prying out of pan. Carefully use a knife and spatula to loosen cake around the edges, then invert onto cooling rack. Let stand for at least 15 additional minutes before cutting. Then watch as the cake disappears before you can count to ten!

Orange Carrot Bundt Cake

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Here is another Bundt cake recipe with orange zest (in fact, it is only the orange zest and not the carrots that you see after this cake is baked!). After listening to my husband explain to me that my usual carrot cake is not really a carrot cake because it’s too healthy, I decided to search for a less healthy carrot cake – voila. This recipe comes from my Canadian Living “Sunday Suppers” Special Issue Winter 2014/2015 on page 86. I made only two changes, which are noted below in the Ingredients listing. When my children first tried this cake, their response was, “Make this ALL THE TIME!” (as in, don’t bother making that other carrot cake – which, by the way, I still LOVE!)

Ingredients
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp grated orange zest
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour (of course, I used half white, half whole wheat!)
1 1/2 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream (I only had Greek Yogurt on hand, which I prefer over yogurt, so used that instead)
1 cup grated peeled carrots (next time I make this cake I am going to try adding 1 cup finely grated zucchini in addition to the carrots)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in orange zest and vanilla.
In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into butter mixture, alternating with sour cream (or Greek yogurt), making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of sour cream. Fold in carrots. (The batter will be very thick.) Scrape into greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan, smoothing top.
Bake in centre of oven until wooden toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer directly to rack to cool completely. Compared to the Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake from above, this cake looks like it will be dry. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that this is not at all the case after you take your first bite!

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Both these recipes come with directions for making a special glaze. I have omitted these in order to comply with my blog’s purpose of eating healthier!! And to be honest, both these cakes taste DELICIOUS without the extra sugar!

It’s good to be back! Let me know which of these you like best. Or share YOUR favourite Bundt cake recipe!

Barley Salad

July 8, 2012

Have you ever cooked with barley before? If yes, what is your favourite barley recipe?

As much as I adore quinoa, and despite the imbalanced number of recipes involving quinoa posted thus far on this blog, I do eat a variety of other whole grains! The first time I cooked barley was for the salad featured in this post, and I have since made this recipe many times, usually in the summer to accompany grilled meat.

This healthy yet tasty salad comes from Leslie Beck’s “Foods that Fight Disease – A Nutrition Guide to Staying Healthy for Life” and can easily be modified to accommodate the vegetables you have on hand and your specific taste preferences. The original recipe calls for pot barley, grated carrots, sliced black olives, chopped capers, and green onions (in keeping with yesterday’s green onion theme!). I am not a huge fan of black olives or capers (though I don’t mind them in this particular salad), so today I omitted those and I didn’t feel it needed anything to replace the missing ingredients. Still, next time I may add some roasted red pepper as I think the colour, texture and taste would be a perfect fit, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I just think roasted red pepper takes any dish to the next level. Update: Today I added chopped tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese in addition to the roasted red pepper to the leftovers from yesterday, and it was divine!

The main reason I do not make anything with barley very often is that it takes approximately one hour to cook. Compare that to quinoa’s cooking time of 10 – 15 minutes, and it quickly becomes obvious why quinoa is a staple in my kitchen. Still, I think it is important to incorporate a wide variety of whole grains into our diets and it is well worth the effort to make the time to prepare barley and other longer-cooking whole grains. I am now officially making it my personal goal to prepare barley-based meals once a week, and I challenge you to do the same!

Before I provide you with the recipe, here are some interesting facts about barley (source: Leslie Beck’s website):

  1. Barley is more flavourful and has a chewier texture than white rice, with a more subtle flavour than brown rice.
  2. Barley is versatile: like oats, it is an excellent source of soluble fibre, which can help in lowering blood cholesterol levels.
  3. Hulled barley or “whole grain” barley has only the outer husk (hull) removed and is the most nutritious form of barley, since the bran and germ are left intact. It may not be as widely available as other barley types, but its superior nutrient content makes it worth seeking out.
  4. Pot (Scotch) barley Pot barley is husked and coarsely ground.  It is polished like pearl barley, but to a lesser extent, so the kernals are less refined, retaining more of the bran layer than pearled. The kernals are not as small as pearl barley, so pot barley takes a little longer to cook.
  5. Pearl barley Barley kernels are polished (pearled) to remove the double outer hull and the bran layer, which also removes much of the nutrients. Polishing the kernals produces uniform, ivory-coloured granules. Like white rice, this process makes the kernals less nutritious but faster to cook.

Barley Salad
(from Leslie Beck’s “Foods that Fight Disease – A Nutrition Guide to Staying Healthy for Life”

Ingredients:

2 and 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup dry white wine (or orange juice is excellent, too!)

1 cup pot barley

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar (though I have omitted this in the past and the salad still tasted excellent)

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (or table salt will do)

2 carrots, shredded

1/4 cup sliced pitted black olives

2 tbsp capers (whole or chopped)

2 green onions, finely sliced

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, bring water and wine (or orange juice) to a boil. Add barley; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until barley is tender. Remove from heat, drain any excess liquid, and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, and salt.

Combine barley with carrots, olives, capers, and onions. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, tossing to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 6

Per 3/4 cup serving: 192 cal, 4 g pro, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 30 g carb, 4 g fibre, 0 mg chol, 444 mg sodium

Excellent source of: vitamin A

Quinoa-Veggie Burgers

May 4, 2012

If you’ve been following my blog since its inception just over two weeks ago(!), you already know that I adore quinoa. Well, today I finally had a chance to try out the Quinoa-Veggie Burger recipe that I discovered while flipping through an issue of Chatelaine during one of my many visits to the walk-in clinic (when you have three young children, you go there A LOT!). These tasty “burgers” are surprisingly quick and easy to make.

Chatelaine gives the preparation and cooking time as 20 minutes each (for a total of 40 minutes), but really the preparation (peeling and chopping vegetables) can be done in about 5 minutes, and if you use left-over quinoa instead of cooking a fresh batch, the cooking time can also be reduced to 15 minutes – meaning you can have lunch or dinner ready in about 20 minutes!

You can view the Chatelaine version of this recipe here, or you can follow along below to view how I made my burgers.

Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 cup cooked quinoa (I usually cook 1 cup quinoa – which turns into approximately 3 cups once cooked) at the beginning of each week so I have some readily available throughout the week for recipes like these Quinoa-Veggie Burgers, Quinoa Carrot Muffins, Greek Yogurt Delight, etc.)

1 egg, scrambled – EDITOR’S NOTE: by scrambled, I mean whisked & uncooked!

2 Tbsp cornstarch and 1 Tbsp brown rice flour (because I ran out of cornstarch, though you could use 3 Tbsp of either ingredient – I purchase my brown rice flour at the Bulk Barn)

2 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cumin (because I didn’t have any cayenne pepper, which the Chatelaine recipe calls for and I thought cumin would taste good – it did!)

1 tsp canola oil

approximately 115 g cremini and portobello mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 coarsely grated medium zucchini

1 coarsely grated medium peeled carrot

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Directions:

1. Transfer quinoa into a large bowl. Stir in egg, cornstarch (and/or brown rice flour), ground flaxseed, salt and cumin.

2. Heat a large, wide non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add oil, then mushrooms, zucchini, carrot, onion and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 min.

3. Add cooked veggies to quinoa and egg mixture and stir.

4. Heat the same non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Firmly press quinoa mixture into a 1/3-cup measuring cup. If the burgers are not sticking together well, add some more cornstarch or brown rice flour to the mixture.

5. Turn and release into pan. Gently press to shape into a patty. cook until golden and warmed through, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat until quinoa-veggie mixture is “all gone” (picture my almost-two-year old here shrugging her shoulders and holding out the palms of her hands upwards as she says “all gone”- too cute!).

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed my quinoa-veggie burgers along with some romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado, topped with a generous dollop of hummus. Of course, I drizzled the raw veggies with my Honey Mustard Salad Dressing! [Though I have made my own hummus in the past, I prefer the one from Costco (brand name: “fontaine sante”) because let’s face it, I don’t really have time to make EVERYTHING from scratch, and the listed ingredients are “normal”: chickpeas, tahini (sesame butter) canola oil, lemon juice concentrate, sea salt, vinegar, garlic juice (garlic juice, salt).]

Chatelaine suggests topping the burgers with tahini sauce and roasted plum tomatoes. Their photo of the cooked burgers shows them served on top of a grilled portobello mushroom and arugula. It looks soooo yummy, I think I’ll try this next time!

Will you give this recipe a try? Are you interested in more “meatless” meals?

Carrot cake is one of those cakes that sound healthy, but usually isn’t because of the obscene amount of oil it contains (typically between 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups) to ensure its moistness. Well, here is a super moist carrot cake that contains only 1/4 cup of oil! How is that even possible, you ask?! Well, it’s because of two additional healthy ingredients that replace all that excess oil: buttermilk (don’t let its name fool you – at 1%, it’s low in fat!) and pumpkin puree (which besides being low in fat, is high in fibre). Now, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin, but it’s growing on me. And it makes this carrot cake taste absolutely gorgeous, as one of my British friends would say!

I have made this cake at least half a dozen times since discovering it just three weeks ago, and the one I just made was supposed to be for friends we are visiting tomorrow for dinner and “games night” (we’re going to play “Settlers of Catan” – for details of this uber-fun game, check out http://www.catan.com/), but it looks like I’ll be baking another one tomorrow morning!

I found this recipe on an amazing blog you absolutely must visit at http://www.aprettylifeinthesuburbs.com/, though it originally comes from “The Looneyspoons Collection” by Janet & Greta Podleski, who have a website at the following address: http://janetandgreta.com/, which you also MUST view! I think I’m going to be asking for a copy of this cookbook for my birthday (this is my not-so-subtle hint to my wonderful husband!!).

And finally, the recipe:

Icing Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 packages of cream cheese, room temperature (I used just one 250 g package)

1/4 cup butter (I used 2 Tbsp)

1 and 1/2 cups icing sugar (I used just 1 cup)

1 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate (I used 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice, including the pulp)

1 tsp grated orange zest

Icing Directions:

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until it is smooth. Slowly add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Add the orange juice and zest, mix well. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Cake Ingredients:

1 and 3/4 cups flour (I use whole wheat)

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pie filling)

1 cup brown sugar (not packed)

3/4 cup buttermilk (I didn’t have any, so I used kefir instead)

1/4 cup oil (I use canola)

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups finely grated carrots (I recommend 2 and 1/2 cups)

1/2 cups walnuts (plus I threw in a handful or two of raisins!)

1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

Cake Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 round 9-inch baking pans.  You can grease & flour them or line the bottoms with wax paper (wax paper is my preference).

In a bowl combine the flour, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger and salt.  Set aside.

Using a mixer, combine the pumpkin, sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet mixture, and combine (on low-speed or by hand with a wooden spoon) until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Then gently add the carrots, nuts, raisins (if using) and coconut.  Hand mix.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the 2 pans, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes come out clean.

When done baking, cool the cakes in their pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around the circumference of the cake to loosen it from the cake pan, and then turn them out onto a cooling rack. You can ice the cakes when they have cooled completely. I prefer to serve my carrot cake the following day, as it gives all the flavours a chance to really soak through. I promise you, this cake will not disappoint!