recipes, Uncategorized

Gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free bean brownie you can’t save from the crowds

I’m not eating gluten, eggs, dairy or nuts for almost six months now. I figured out what to eat for most of my meals by now, soups, stir-fries, oatmeal, etc. But I’m always in the lookout for a grab-and-go, healthy and filling afternoon snack. Specially on days when I exercised in the morning! I’m so hungry! So this recipe is one of my new favorites. I mixed a regular bean brownie recipe my son learnt at a field trip in a cooking school, with Jenna Zoe’s chocolate fondant recipe from her Super Healthy Snacks and Treats cookbook.

Photograph of gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free bean brownies made with this recipe.

Gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free bean brownie recipe

Ingredients

Yields one 9″ by 13″ baking sheet, about 32 (1.5″ by 2″) squares.

4 cups (800 grams) cooked black turtle beans (About the third of a 900 g bag dried beans.)

1/2 cup (90 grams) gluten-free flour mix of your choice

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3 tablespoons of ground flax seeds + 6-7 tablespoons of water

3 tablespoons of honey

4 tablespoons of Splenda or sugar or equivalent sweetener

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup of water or milk substitute of your choice

4 teaspoons of vanilla extract

4 flat tablespoons of cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips, semi-sweet

4 teaspoons of orange zest, optional, but gives really nice flavor

6 tablespoons of chia seeds, optional

Tools

Measuring cups and spoons, scale, good sized food processor or stick hand blender and a big bowl

Time

Prep: 1-2 hours to cook the beans plus overnight for soaking. You can do it a few days ahead of time.

Actual mixing time: 30-45 minutes

Baking time: 25 minutes

How to make the brownie

Prepare the beans for the bean brownie

  1. Soak the beans for 12-24 hours in a generous amount of water. Drain and rinse.
  2. Cook in salty water until done, about 90 minutes or so. Drain.
  3. Mash them with a potato masher.

I actually cooked all the 900 grams bag of dried beans, used what I needed for the brownies now, and froze the rest so next time I can skip this step. 🙂

Mixing the brownie

Food processor version

  1. Mix the 3 Tbsp flax ground flax with 6-7 Tbsp water in a small bowl. Set it aside.
  2. Put the beans in the food processor, blitz until smooth. Add some of the water if needed.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except half a cup chocolate chips. Blitz until well mixed, even the chips.
  4. Stir in the rest of the chocolate chips.

Stick hand blender version

  1. Mix the 3 Tbsp flax ground flax with 6-7 Tbsp water to make flax-eggs. Set it aside.
  2. Put the cooked and mashed beans to a big mixing bowl. Add the 1/3 cup of water, honey, coconut oil and blend it smooth.
  3. Add the flax eggs and the rest of the ingredients except half a cup chocolate chips. Mix it with a wooden spoon and blend it to smash the chocolate chips.
  4. Add the rest of the chocolate chips.

At the end, it is going to be a rather sticky thing, not batter, more like dough. That’s okay.

Baking the brownie

  1. Preheat the oven for 180 C or 350 F.
  2. Put the dough in a 9″ by 13″ baking sheet. Smooth it out with a spatula.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes or until you have the consistency you like for brownies. 25 minutes leaves it rather gooey… Yum!

Nutritional value of these gluten-free, dairy-free bean brownies

Nutrition value chart for gluten-free bean brownies

(I didn’t include the optional chia seeds and orange zest in the nutrition chart.)

I hope you will like this guys. For sure, from the batch I made yesterday there is only a few squares left…

 

 

Kids baking pumpkin cookies at a cooking class in Calgary
tips, Uncategorized

Cooking class for preschoolers – 5 reasons to give it a try

So you were wondering if a cooking class was a good activity for your 3-4-5 years old kids. Why this, and not a playground or art or music or library story time?

All the above mentioned are super, okay? But for variety, a cooking class can be a great addition, and it is available here, in Calgary, too.

Why a cooking class is good for young children?

1. New ways to explore the world

Little kids are born explorers! While making food, they can use all their senses to learn about edible stuff. How does things look, taste, smell, feel… What do I like, or don’t like… What happens when I mix these two ingredients… How are they going to taste together? Cooking and baking is a great sensory activity, beneficial to all children.

2. New foods to try

Sometimes it is not easy to offer new things for the kids to eat. In a cooking class, along with other children, and preparing the meals themselves, even more cautious kiddos might try new snacks or fruits or veggies. We cannot guarantee, but this is our experience. 🙂

3. Get ready for school

During cooking classes, the kids practice skills they will need in real school soon.

  • Number sense
  • Fine motor skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Attention span
  • Following instructions
  • Working as a team

Does it mean cooking classes are strict boot camps to train little army chefs? No, of course not. We play and laugh and relax. And that’s exactly the best way for kids to learn. In secret. 🙂

4. No attitude yet

I don’t want to skip ahead in time, but let me warn you: teenage years will come sooner than you thought. Let the kids work with you in the kitchen while they are sweet and little and want to help!

Yes, they can’t do it well, yet. But they are happy to try, and will get better with practice. If you wait until they are more skilled, well, you waited too long, and they might just give you a face or a growl and get back to their phone. Half of the time, anyway. 🙂

5. Baking with kids is a big mess – but not in your kitchen if you go to a cooking class

I don’t think I need to add more details to this point. 🙂

All right, I hope I gave you guys a boost to get messy and whip up something with your kids, at home or in a cooking class. It’s going to be fun and edible! Take care! 🙂

 

 

Eating home-made pizza.
recipes

How to make your first pizza

Is there anybody who doesn’t like pizza? Not in my family, no. I’m instantly very popular, if I’m making pizza for dinner. Let me show you how you can do this, too. You need only basic baking stuff for the dough and bits and pieces from the fridge for topping. Easy-peasy.

My home-made pizza recipe

I will give the ingredients for two pizza dough for a 11” by 17” (38cm*43cm) baking sheet. (I’m not using round pizza baking sheets, too small for us. No one ever complained about the rectangular shape.) I’ll tell you how to freeze half the dough, saving you time next time.

Ingredients

For the dough

3 2/3 cups (440 grams) all-purpose flour

3 1/2 cups (400 grams) whole wheat flour

2 cups of lukewarm water (approximate!)

1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast

1 tablespoon of sugar

2-3 teaspoons of salt

4 tablespoons of vegetable oil

For the topping for one pizza

1 small can of tomato paste

Onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil – to taste, about a  tablespoonful each

1-1 1/2 cup of shredded cheese of your choice

Any topping your family likes:

  • cooked chicken breast cubes, ham, bacon, pepperoni
  • spinach, mushrooms, red onions, olives, bell pepper, pineapple

Tools

Handheld mixer with dough hook, large mixing bowl, rolling pin, baking sheet.

Time

  • 20 minutes for making the dough,
  • about an hour or 90 minutes for letting it rise, then
  • 30 minutes for prepping and baking the pizza.

This last part can be cut in half almost if you enlist some help from the hungry crowds for chopping and putting on topping and stuff.

Making the pizza dough

Have your read my bread recipe? You’re all set, pizza dough is made exactly the same way. Go ahead and jump to the next section.

For the rest of you:

  1. Add the yeast and sugar to a cup of warm (never hot!) water, stir and let it foam.
  2. Measure the flours to a large mixing bowl. Add salt.
  3. When the yeast is foamy, pour the whole thing to the flour and add half a cup of warm water.
  4. Start mixing on low setting.
  5. Add the oil.
  6. Continue mixing. If there’s dry flour around, add more water, little by little.
  7. The dough is ready when it forms a ball. You want it to be neither too sticky nor too hard. Somewhere in between, nice and smooth surface, not sticking to your fingers, with some give if you touch it.
  8. Cover it with food wrap or a tea towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for an hour or so.

Freezing the pizza dough

  1. After the dough has doubled, get a medium sized zip-lock freezer bag.
  2. Put a spoonful or two oil in it.
  3. Put the dough on a work surface, cut it in half.
  4. Form a ball from one half, and put it in the bag.
  5. Move it around in the bad until it is all oily.
  6. Squeeze the air out, close the bag and freeze the dough for up to 3 months.

When you are ready to use it, put it in the fridge the night before, and let it come to room temperature few hours before you want to use it.

Preparing the pizza

Remember, you can easily delegate most of the following steps to bigger kids who already asked five times when the pizza will be ready! 🙂

  1. When the dough had doubled and you froze half of it, form a ball of the other half.
  2. Put parchment paper in the baking sheet.
  3. Roll out the dough to the same size as your sheet and lay it on the sheet.
  4. Preheat your oven to 500 F. It’s the highest setting mine can go.
  5. Prepare the tomato sauce:Last slice of home-made pizza, close-up.Add onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil  and a pinch of salt to the tomato pure. You can add a little water if it’s too thick. I can saute it a little if it is too watery.
  6. Chop all your toppings.
  7. Dress up your pizza:
    1. Tomato sauce first.
    2. Spinach next, if using.
    3. Cheese.
    4. Rest of the toppings.
  8. Wait until the oven is fully preheated and hot! It is very important. I was in a hurry once, skipped it, and the pizza crust turned out baaaad. 😦
  9. Put the pizza on bottom rack and bake for 7 to 10 minutes.

Enjoy! 🙂

Variations for pizza

If you want, you can try Hungarian style. Instead of using tomato sauce, you spread sour cream on top of the rolled out dough, and put lots of red onions and bacon on top. (Yes, no cheese. It’s still good.)

Also very good, sour cream with lots of garlic powder and chicken cubes for topping with your favorite veggies. With or without cheese.

That’s it, folks. Sorry I don’t have more pictures, we made pizza few days ago but didn’t take any pics. We were too busy baking and eating! 🙂

recipes, tips, Uncategorized

Breakfast ideas for kids

I used to love mornings. A nice breakfast and I’m active, ready for my day. Well, not anymore. I open my eyes in the dark and I’m thinking: what should I feed to my kids for breakfast and lunch today??? They wake up hungry, they need to eat, but they are very choosy on what to eat. So here’s my list to have on the fridge for mornings when I’m so sleepy, I can’t come up with anything.

I’m not going to give recipes, but will include the links. I will add gluten-free/dairy-free variations for those who need it. (Like me.)

Quick fix breakfasts

Cereals

You need: granola/cereal, yogurt, fruits

Time: 5 minutes

breakfast_parfait_genius_kitchen - Copy
Breakfast Parfait Photo: Genius Kitchen

You don’t need a cooking school for this, quick and easy. Recipe here.

Oat meals

You need: oats, fruits, butter or substitute

Optional: ground flax seed, shredded coconut, dried fruits, chocolate chips, chia seeds

Time: 5 minutes

Since I’m not eating bread, oat meal is a last minute breakfast for me. I just put hot water on the oats, microwave for a minute, stir in frozen berries, flax seed or chia seed, shredded coconut for fat, some cinnamon and I’m all set.

Eggs

You need: eggs

Optional: bacon, onions, mushrooms, potato, bell pepper…

Time: 5-15 minutes

Scrambled, sunny-side-up, chopped hard boiled in a wrap, mashed hard boiled with cream cheese, hummus or avocado, omelet in sandwich…

Pancakes

You need: eggs, milk, butter, flour, baking powder

Time: 15-20 minutes

Basic recipe hereVariations here.

Smoothies

You need: yogurt, milk, fruits, veggies, honey. 

For dairy-free version, you need: avocado, coconut milk, fruits

Time: 5 minutes

Three yummy fruit smoothies

Dairy-free smoothie It calls for a banana, I like mine with berries, try with your kid’s favorite.

Sandwiches & toasts

sandwich

You need: bread, ham, cheese; optional stuff like red onions, tomato, avocado, lettuce, leftover roast, etc.

Time: 10 minutes

Grilled, pressed, pan-grilled, oven-baked, french-toasted… 90 healthy sandwich ideas

Make-ahead breakfasts

Spending half an hour on these whenever we have, we can save some time in the rush hours.

Spreads

cream cheese sandwich with chivesBase: cream cheese+butter
Add-on: hard-boiled eggs, tuna, finely chopped leftover meat, onions, green onions, chives…

For even more taste: mustard, red paprika paste, lemon juice…

Time: 15-20 minutes

Muffins, sconces and bars

You need: basic baking ingredients, plus fruits, dried fruits, nuts.

Time: 20-25 minutes prep + 25 minutes baking

I like to make these for snack, and my daughter likes to have it for a quick breakfast the next day. Look for whole-grain, nut and fruit filled recipes for more filling and healthy varieties.

Triple berry oat muffins

Quick “everything goes in the blender” blueberry muffin.

Quiches

You need: eggs, cheese, some puffed pastry, veggies like spinach, mushrooms, shredded carrots, etc.

Time: 20-25 minutes prep + 30-45 minutes baking

This is a great way to sneak in some veggies, and high on protein, too.

No crust recipe here.

All right, I hope you could find some helpful tips here. Please share your best breakfast staples with us in the comments bellow!

recipes, Uncategorized

How to make your first bread at home

I’d like to share with you guys my old and faithful bread recipe I’ve been baking since ages. It is simple and works every time. Very good for beginners.

This recipe/tutorial is for you, if you

  • don’t have a bread maker
  • eat gluten
  • prefer a bit more dense bread that is great for sandwiches
  • have about half an hour time to make the dough, ten minutes to put it in a loaf and another half an hour to bake it

What you need for this bread

Tools

  • A handheld or stand-alone mixer
  • Two loaf pans (under $10 in Superstore)
  • Measuring cups
  • An oven

Ingredients

Makes two 9″ loaves.

  • 3 cups (540 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (570 grams) of whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • About 3 1/4 cups of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 4 tablespoons (56 grams) of melted butter or oil

How to do the bread

Prepare the dough – 20-25 minutes

Temperature is important when we’re making dough with yeast. The kitchen should be draft-less. The water we use should be warm, not cold, and definitely not hot.

  1. Put the yeast and a tablespoon of sugar in a cup of warm water. Let the yeast rise until foamy.
  2. While waiting, measure the flours, a spoonful of sugar and the salt into a large mixing bowl.
  3. When the yeast is ready, pour it on the flour. Add two more cups of water.
  4. Grab your mixer and start mixing everything on slow/stir setting. Increase the speed according to the instructions of your mixer. Add butter gradually. Add water as needed by spoonful. Add flour if needed. The mixing is done when the dough have come together in a nice ball.
  5. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic foil and put it in a warm place until it has doubled, for about an hour. (If you need to leave the house during this time, you can put the dough in a cool place to rise more slowly. And if you happen to get stuck on the playground with the kids, and it rises way too much, that’s okay, too. Just knead it down in the next step.)

Put them in the loaves – 10 minutes

  1. On a floured work surface, get the dough out of the bowl and knead it down.
  2. Cut it in a half.
  3. Line the loaf pans with parchment paper.
  4. Form the halves and put them in the loaf pans.
  5. Cover them with plastic and let them rise in a warm place. It takes about an hour, or maybe less if your place is warmer, or if using the warming drawer of the oven. Try not to let them over-rise, because then the top crust will be ruined. Ask me how I know.

Bake them

  1. When the dough has doubled, pre-heat the oven for 380 F. (I bake the two loaves at the same time, so I use convection. Without convection, set it to 400 F.)
  2. Bake the bread for 30 minutes.
  3. When done, get the bread out of the pan and let it cool on a rack, covered with a clean tea towel.
  4. Enjoy! 🙂

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Let me know in the comments below if something is unclear or missing and I’ll fix it. Thanks and happy baking!