Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Chocolate Vanilla Raspberry Birthday Cake!

I'm sorry I have been absent for quite a while!  As I mentioned in my last post, I have started a new term and begun a TA position, and things have been busy but great fun with figuring out my schedule, hanging out with my sister in our new place, and enjoying getting to meet friends and investigate Jesus' life in my International Students Bible Study!  I have also been trying out a few new vegan treats, and I am excited to share some of them here in the next few posts!

Last month, it was my sister's birthday, and for the occasion I decided to try something I've never tried before - a vegan birthday cake! 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Crispy Flax Crackers (inspired by Mary's Crackers)

I always find that texture makes a big difference to how yummy a food is.  I really appreciate the crisp and crunchy texture of a good cracker - especially Mary's Crackers. These crackers are amazingly snappy, and I also like their simple, organic, whole-foods ingredient list and abundance of omega-3-rich flaxseeds.  My sister and I had a box as a treat recently, but those crackers do get eaten quickly!  So, inspired by the cracker box and this recipe, I decided to make our own!

Crispy Flax Crackers


Brown rice - 2 cups dry
Quinoa - 1/2 cup dry
Flax seeds - 1 cup
Sesame seeds - 1/2 cup*
Salt - 1 teaspoon**
Soy sauce (or tamari) - 2 teaspoons
Pepper - 1 teaspoon
Vinegar - 1 teaspoon
Canola oil - for oiling bowl and pan


Cook rice and quinoa according to standard directions. Once cooked, let cool and then process in a food processor until mushy. Put in a large oiled mixing bowl (the mixture should be very sticky, so I recommend you oil it well!)

Add flax seeds and sesame seeds.  Mix well to combine. Add salt, soy sauce, pepper, and vinegar, and continue mixing until thoroughly incorporated.  (You may end up using your hands to knead in the seasonings; the mixture is so sticky, a mixing spoon wouldn't cut it for me.)

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Oil a couple of baking pans. (Or use parchment paper - I didn't have it but if you do this could be a good option!) Then, it is time to flatten your crackers!  I have tried numerous ways of doing this, many of which result in a sticky mess everywhere!  In the end however, my favourite option for making round shaped crackers was to take two plastic ziplock baggies, put a ball of cracker dough between them, and then to squish them flat by putting a cutting board on top of them and pressing down on it with as much force as possible. Using plastic wrap and a rolling pin may also be a reasonable (and probably faster) option, however I had neither of these things and had to get creative.  You want your crackers to be really flat so that they will get nice and crispy.  I made large crackers this time, with about 1-2 tablespoons of dough in each, however if you want bite-sized crackers, use about a teaspoon of dough each time. Warning: you will make a lot of crackers!

These crackers are giant (I guess they are more like flatbreads in terms of size)- and this isn't even the whole batch!

Bake crackers for about 10-15 minutes, until almost hard. Then, flip them, and continue baking another 8-15 minutes, or until very crispy. (Mine took 14 minutes on one side, then about 10 on the other side, but watch them to make sure they don't burn!)  Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack. You may need to make multiple pans, depending on how thin you can get your crackers and how large your baking pans are.

Store at room temperature and eat within a few days.  (I'm afraid I can't testify to longer term storage or freezeability - we ate them all before I even thought of testing that)


* I think these crackers would also be nice with other types of seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, or hempseeds - as long as you have the sticky base (i.e. the blended brown rice) - I think this recipe would lend itself well to experimentation!

** These crackers did not have a strong salty taste - you may wish to add slightly more salt to this recipe, especially if you are active and require more electrolytes, and/or have low blood pressure.

These crackers are plain and so are quite versatile - serve them with soup, hummus, nut butter, or another sweet or savoury topping!  If you want, you could also jazz them up by adding other spices or herbs.  The cracker-making process took some time, since I ended up needing to make several batches to use up all the dough.  I wouldn't recommend it if you are short of time, but if not,it is a fun evening activity, and also great for if you have other things to do around the kitchen.  These flax crackers definitely satisfied my hopes for a good crunch, and I hope they do for you as well! :)

Friday, 12 September 2014

Sweet and Tangy Watermelon Salad

This week, my sister and I went to another monthly vegan potluck!  I've been going for several months now, and it has always been fun to see and taste the different recipes that people contribute, to try out new recipes, and to have fun conversations.  This week had a great turnout of people, and the food was amazing! 

One of the two tables of delicious vegan foods!
So many yummy things!  Some of the highlights: dehydrated mango slices (left), soba noodle and edamame salad (in the middle), vegetable curry (top centre), and sweet potato hempseed muffins (not shown).

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival

This weekend I had the pleasure of exploring the 30th Annual Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival - a free weekend-long festival on September 5-7th at the Harbourfront Centre (as I'm posting this, it's still on, so check it out if you're in the area!).  The Festival happens every year at the beginning of September.  This was my second time going, and it is definitely worth going to!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Quinoa Sushi Rolls

I'm now happily established in the new place!  Although I just moved in on Saturday, I am already feeling at home, and once my sister moves in this weekend, it will be complete! :)

On Monday morning, I cheerfully set off walking to the clinic for my first new (and shorter) commute.  As I was walking, I was surprised that so many stores seemed to be still closed, and noticed that there were very few other people walking and driving on the streets, but I didn't think much about it until about 2 minutes from the clinic, when it suddenly hit me.. it was labour day holiday!  (I decided to go to the clinic anyway, since I don't yet have internet in the new place, which is another reason why I have been absent from posting for a while.) 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Banana Soft Serve Extravaganza.. or.. Finishing Foods in the Freezer!

On Monday I will be saying goodbye to my residence.  It's been a nice place to live, but I am so excited to move into a new apartment with one of my sisters who is moving to Toronto! 

Our lease starts a few days after I need to move out, so I will be going home for a couple of days before we start living in the new place.  Because of this, I wanted to minimize the amount of fresh and especially frozen foods I have left, so that it is easier to transport my things.  When I discovered how our moving timing would be working out, I also discovered that I happened to have A LOT of frozen fruits and vegetables!  While my meals have mainly involved cooking up a medley of frozen veggies (well..sometimes cooking.. does anyone else like to snack on their green peas while they are still frozen?) with whatever else I had left, the abundance of frozen bananas, as well as various other frozen fruits, meant that I got to experiment with a lot of different banana soft serves this week!  Here are a few of the highlights:

Banana Soft Serve Extravaganza

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflowers Appetizer

As I mentioned before, I am in the process of moving out of my residence and preparing to move to an apartment (with one of my sisters!). :)  Between packing and going to the clinic to do my research, I haven't had much time to post in the past couple of days.  (I've also been trying to finish up odds and ends in my freezer, so my meals haven't been too creative lately.)  However, I do want to share with you a recipe I made a few days ago that turned out pretty nicely!  I've seen a few similar recipes for Buffalo cauliflower "wings" going around recently, but I was first inspired by this one.  I haven't bought cauliflower too often, but as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to try it!  I didn't have cashews in the house, but since I've been in a zucchini phase lately (and I always like adding more veggies!), I also whipped up a slightly different twist on the dip. 


Spicy Buffalo Cauliflowers with Cool Zucchini Sunflower Dip