Category Archives: Snacks

Recipe: Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

So it is totally worth saying that I am having a cashew moment of late. And of course, here is another cashew recipe!

I’m not sure if it is all my vegan readers and blogging friends that are re-igniting my fondness for creating yummy goodies from this nut, but either way, I’m happy to be here, enjoying the fun that comes with working with this great transitional ingredient for those looking to wean (just a little or a lot) of dairy from their diets.

Yup, cashews. They are pretty rad.

As many of you already know, the cashew is a very natural stand in for recipes requiring the richness, texture, and taste of dairy. For anyone wanting to reduce or eliminate milk and milk products from their diet, this is such a wonderful ingredient to cozy up and get familiar with.

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

Cashews can just be used in so many ways (but you guys know that already, right?)! To make cream, cheese sauce, dinner, as a topping for a healthy salad, as salad dressing, and today in a luscious spread for everything from burgers to sandwiches to pizza.

Cashews are not cheap as far as nuts go (not too many nuts are anymore), but pound for pound they might not actually be all that far off the price of good organic dairy. So while moderation is always key for any rich food (plant-based or not), it is prudent to also keep that in mind when adopting cashews for use as a dairy substitute in the kitchen.

Less is usually more, and that is certainly the case for this rich and flavorful spread, but the beauty part here is this dip is largely made of peppers. Roasted to perfection first, of course!

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

The Less:

Less dairy and egg-based spreads means less cholesterol and reliance on animal fats for fuel. Fewer ingredients in your food means easier work of collecting and knowing them. Less pre-made and pre-packaged sauces and spreads means less waste, cost, and (potential) bad karma, so serving up appies and spreads comes cheap & healthy.

The More:

More red peppers in your food means more color and fresh vitamins. More cashews in place of dairy means more plant based alternatives. More reasons to eat plant-based means you’ll never miss your old favorites, even if you still think you might πŸ™‚

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread:

  • (1/3) cup cashews, roasted
  • (2) red peppers, roasted, peeled & seeded
  • (2) tsp fresh lemon juice
  • (1/4) cup fresh parsley
  • (1/3) cup olive oil
  • (1/2) tsp salt
  • (1) small clove garlic (optional)

Start by roasting the peppers. To prepare, wash & slice the peppers each in halves lengthwise and place (seed side down) on a flat cookie sheet (no need for oil). Turn the oven on to broil and broil the peppers until black and blistered (and smelling wonderful) – about 15 minutes or so. Once ready, carefully remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Next, turn the already hot oven to 350 degrees. Spread the cashews on a flat baking tray and place in the oven. Roast to a light brown color and until just fragrant and remove from the oven to cool, about 8-10 minutes.

Prepare the lemon juice, parsley, salt, oil & garlic (if using) and add to the blender along with the still-warm cashews.

To prepare the roasted and cooled peppers for blending, wait until they are cool enough to handle with your hands, then simply remove the skins, stems, and the seeds with your hands and add the pepper flesh to the blender. Blend all of the ingredients together until perfectly smooth. Transfer to a clean jar or container and allow to cool before serving. Kept in the fridge, this delicious spread will keep for well up to a week.

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

Use this beauty as a substitute for mayonnaise in sandwiches and in burgers, or as a dip for raw celery or Belgian endive leaves.

There are numerous uses for this dip, and I enjoyed it several times slathered over the latest version of chickpea flat bread I’ve been making – topped with chopped fresh tomatoes and thyme roasted red onions. Pretty darned awesome any day of the week if you ask me, and even the teenager was pretty impressed. Win!

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

As a quick update on my week, we cooked tons of vegan food last night with another enthusiastic group of kids, and afterwards enjoyed a much needed drink and celebration as we look to our plans for the New Year!Β  The NSF website is being built as we speak and I’ll be hoping to share a little project we’ve been working on this year rather soon.

For now, I’m doing a little dance as we get closer to Christmas, and am looking forward to a lighter load under the tree (that will be lit up tonight!) this year (don’t tell anyone but I’ve yet to buy a present).

  • Are any of you planning a less is more Christmas?
  • What is your favorite part of the Holiday season?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic as we get closer to the big day. Thanks for being you (all of you), and I’m looking forward to getting caught up on my blog reading this week, I am hoping each and every one of you is well πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Apple, Kale & Hemp Seed Green Smoothie

Easy, clean eating to fuel your body.

Don’t major in minor things.

~ Author Unknown

Okay, I admit it. Sometimes I am a mess.

And no, I don’t mean in the kitchen (but I am that too and I LOVE it).

I mean, I worry. I try to worry (just a little) less at times, but catch me at a bad time late at night and it’s game over.

I worry about my schedule, or I worry that the kids won’t have the strength they need to stand up to a mean kid at school. I worry about the tall tree in the neighbor’s yard that might fall on the house in a windstorm, and I worry that I could get sick with some scary awful disease and leave my kids and my husband all alone (completely unwillingly of course).

Now please don’t get scared, I am not going somewhere dark or deep here.

I’m just saying, I think it’s in us all to worry, right? And we should be responsible, and do our diligence by living healthily and reducing our reasons to worry needlessly.

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things happen. Don’t be afraid.

~ Frederick Buechner

So cue the checklist to healthy living.

Eat well (check). Live well (check). Exercise (check). Laugh (check). Give thanks (major check) Give yourself regular breast exams.

Silence.

Am I the only one that is (so far) dangerously lax in this department?

This week I decided to take action on that front & was quite terrified when I actually found something. It was indeed a painful lump in my armpit (SO tender!).

It was late at night at the time of this discovery, time for bed. After my discovery and the inevitable irrationality of thoughts that followed, a little visit to the Mr. Internet SelfΒ  Diagnosis department, and more irrationality (there may have been tears & attempts to hide them from the husband), I finally fell asleep.

Like I said, I am a mess sometimes. But aren’t we all? (And it WAS late).

The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.

~ Chinese Proverb

Waking up that morning I vowed to be better. To check more often, and to visit the doctor more often. After all, I am in the prime age for this kind of stuff, and statistics show 1 in 8 of us will be diagnosed with breast cancer during our lifetime.

Shira you owe it to your family to do a better job (check).

After several hours of worry that morning, trying to work but only really thinking of my sore armpit (it was really really sore), and (maybe) a call to work announcing that I’d found a scary evil worrisome lump (in my pit), I managed to see the doctor in the clinic.

Even waiting there in that room (evidently the very same room almost 10 years ago that I learned I was pregnant the second time), I was a mess. Biting back tears, I explained my case.

I told the lovely doctor about the discovery, and about how I’d rubbed that lump extra hard to see just what kind of lump it was. I told her it really hurt (it really did).

When she didn’t seem to look worried, I started to (maybe) feel like it wasn’t going to be so bad.

Then when she asked me to take my shirt off and started poking around under my arm, I pretty much realized it was going to be okay.

The Less:

Less worry and more action means you can spend energy on real matters. Less avoidance of important issues means more facing things head on. Fewer reasons to fret needlessly means more calm in your center, so making room for thoughts that are fruitful comes easy.

The More:

More action on health issues means fewer reasons to lose sleep. More calm, confident feelings means more rational sound thinking. More healthy food and healthy thoughts means more wholeness and good, wholesome living. So the need to worry can go out with the compost.

Apple, Kale & Hemp Seed Green Smoothie:

  • (1) organic apple, seeded and chopped
  • (1/2 – 1) avocado
  • (1-1.5) cups mango juice, (or apple juice if you don’t have access to mango)
  • (1) tbsp hemp hearts
  • (3-4) leaves green kale
  • (3-4) ice cubes, if desired

Blend all to a creamy consistency and enjoy immediately for full health benefits. Don’t worry though if you do need to blend it and enjoy it later..it will still be good for you (but maybe not if you worry too much about it) πŸ˜‰

This makes a generous amount that can easily feed 2-3 hungry people, but if you are at all like me, this could be just for one worry-free wonder woman (or man) as well. I often use this as my main daily sustenance until late afternoon, which means I have no problem enjoying the full recipe over the course of the morning.

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

~ Dr. Seuss

Turns out, I managed to strain a muscle in my armpit. I learned from the very nice doctor lady that there aren’t any nodes in there, but there are a lot of tendons (apparently ones that don’t like being pressured frenetically late at night).

I’d rubbed the heck out of that node the night I discovered it and caused myself a whole lot of pain for no other reason but to give myself a little wake up call.

I’m glad it was all okay.

And I don’t wish for the day when it isn’t. For anyone out there that has had a scare, or (heaven forbid) has been through cancer, I was reminded this week of how lucky we all are to have our health.

Only a few things are really important.Β 

~ Marie Dressler

How can something bother you if you won’t let it?

~ Terri Guillemets

I don’t know how I strained my armpit, and it doesn’t really matter, the point is, I am going to be okay (it’s all healed now too so that’s good). For now, at least, and that is worth celebrating, and protecting, every day.

And I hope you are too.

So don’t delay on giving yourself some well-intentioned attention. Check yourself regularly, and eat well. Go to the doctor for check ups, and try not to worry (I think it comes with the Motherhood territory and having a majorly over-active imagination).

Surround yourself with friends that care about you.

And treat yourself to a green smoothie. Just be careful not to strain any muscles while tearing up your kale πŸ™‚

That’s for you, JY and MN πŸ˜‰ Love.

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Gluten Free, Raw, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Snacks, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

How To: Grow Super Nutritious Sprouts at Home

Home grown sprouts are all yours!

Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.

~ Wolfgang Von Goethe

Want to see magic happen?

I’ve got just the thing. Did anyone try this salad from my last post? I was thrilled to hear that a few of you did, some of you plan to, and those of you who were waiting for the how-to on growing sprouts?

It’s here! Look no further.

Sprouting legumes is just about the safest and easiest darned thing you can do. It’s a bit like bread…set it up, leave it to sit in the right conditions, and watch live magic happen right before your eyes.

Those dried peas in your cupboard you are not sure what to do with? Sprout them. There are many things to sprout but none are as easy (IMHO) as dried peas & beans.

So let’s get started!

Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.

~ Author Unknown

There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.

~ Unknown

Β There are just a few things you will need to sprout beans at home.

Starting with dried beans (of course). Of course if any of you are accomplished at growing alfalfa or other seeds, I’d love to hear from you!

My favorites beans for sprouting are:

  • Mung Beans
  • Garbanzos
  • Green Lentils
  • Green Peas (whole dried ones are hard to find strangely but oh, so good and kids LOVE them).

These are all (except for the peas) easily acquired, and cost very little. Given the cost for the average amount you will work with, you will see just how far they actually go.

How’s that for further proof that eating well needn’t be expensive, and this, dear readers, is one of the best examples around! Not to mention delicious too πŸ™‚

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.

~ Kongzi

The Less:

Less store-bought sprouted foods means more health for less cost. Less cooked beans and legumes means more of their vital live energy is in tact. Less high cost sources of protein means more money that goes farther, and less heavy bulky foods means more lightness and well-being too.

The More:

More living plant-based energy & live enzymes means more good feelings and good moods. More light crunchy textures means more satisfaction when eating them. More home-grown how-toΒ  means more skills where it matters, so good eating and good sense are easy, cheap, and pure amazing πŸ™‚

Once you have your beans, you will need just three more things:

  1. a clean jar
  2. an elastic band
  3. a small piece of cheesecloth

Plus, of course, lots of clean water for soaking and rinsing, light through the kitchen window, a little air circulation, and your care and attention just twice a day.

Not bad hey?

But more on that later.

Super Nutritious Sprouts at Home for Pennies:

  • (1/4-1/2 cup dried beans (mung beans are great to start with!)
  • (1) clean mason jar (1 liter size if you can but small ones work too for smaller amounts)
  • (1) piece of cheese cloth or plastic mesh, cut into a square the size of the jar opening
  • (1) elastic band to secure the cheesecloth to the top of the jar
  • Plenty of cold water for soaking & rinsing

Start by putting up the beans of your choice to soak for 8-16 hours in the jar you will use for sprouting (like most things they can languish for a while so don’t worry if you soak them too long). Use cold clean water to do this as the beans are going to absorb that water. You can leave the jar open on the counter and there is no need to cover it.

The soaking process starts the ‘waking’ process for the dried beans which are by nature designed to keep for long periods of time on their dry (dormant) state. This is a (very) beautiful thing, as they can really keep almost indefinitely in a sealed container if kept dry.

Once soaked, the fun really starts.

Using your piece of cheese cloth (no more than 2 layers as the water needs to drain easily, but you don’t want anything falling through the holes), secure it to the top of the jar and drain the soaking liquid.

Next, you rinse (get acquainted with rinsing).

Simply set the jar in the sink and run cold water through the beans several times, turning the upside down to drain the water between rinses. Here you will see whether you have the cheesecloth too layered as the water will drain slowly.

After a few clean rinses, your soaked and rinsed little bundles of life are ready to grow. Simply set the cheesecloth covered jar upside down, and on an angle, and rest it in your dish rack.

Sprouts need a few things to grow well: air & light (in addition to clean water). As most sinks are by a kitchen window, light is normally not an issue. If your kitchen has no window by the sink, you might consider propping the jar (in the dish rack or in a bowl on its side near a window in between rinses). The air comes from the holes in the cheesecloth

For the next two days, morning and night, repeat the rinsing process, taking care to rinse the beans in their entirety at least twice. After each time, set them to rest in your dish rack.

After two full days…you should have this….

Life in the form of a little sprout. Don’t they just make you smile?

Once ready, and you have little tails on your sprouts, rinse them a final time and transfer to a container and store in the fridge. These guys will keep well in the fridge (for up to a week).

If you try to sprout chickpeas, I might suggest rinsing 3 -4 times a day as they are larger and can dry out faster than the smaller varieties (this is not good for growing sprouts just like it’s not good for us). So keep them (and yourself!) fresh by watering them carefully and keeping them hydrated. Chickpeas might also take an extra day to sprout.

Enjoy sprouted beans in salads, tucked into avocado sandwiches, or as a snack for hungry kids who get home from school. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have a palate for mung beans when sprouted (pictured in this post).

Logic only gives man what he needs… Magic gives him what he wants.

~ Tom Robbins

If we are to have magical bodies, we must have magical minds.

~ Dr Wayne Dyer

I could really go on about sprouts, as I grew up eating them. My mom always had a jar of alfalfa sprouts growing in our sink as kids in the winter time. Sprouts are believed to contain a much higher level of enzymes, making them much more digestible than their cooked counterparts.

After all, sprouts are vital foods that contain enough life force to grow into a plant.

But I’ll let you be the judge of that πŸ˜‰

Thank you to all of you wished me well after my little vehicle mishap last week..I’m driving a giant courtesy car this week which is demanding my full attention πŸ™‚ You all made my weekend wonderful!

Looking forward to getting my little car back on the road, all shiny & new!

  • Are any of you home sprouters?
  • Anything special you are looking forward to right now?

Let us know, and wishing everyone a wonderful week!

Yours in Less,

48 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Food, Gluten Free, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Homemade Baked Beans On Toast – Part One

The ultimate in affordable (vegetarian) comfort food.

Play is the highest form of research.

~ Albert Einstein

Do you ever just need a little comfort food?

I think it is safe to say we all need a little comfort in the form of our favorite foods here and there. Growing up, one of my most favorite snack foods was just this – comforting – not to mention dirt cheap and easy to make.

After all, what is easier than opening up a can of beans and heating them up? Toss a few pieces of bread in the toaster and slather on the butter….just thinking of it brings me right back to 4th grade heaven.

My 30 something year old self now knows that while the old canned standbys are still good in a pinch, there is nothing better than a warm bowl of home cooked beans and a fresh piece of bread hot out of the oven. Especially when they are this cheap, and this easy.

All you need is (just a little) love. And (just a little) time.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Having just celebrated another birthday, I find myself of late quite keenly aware of the fleeting nature of our lives.

As I think back to my days as young child I can tell you my defining moments just as easily as I can tell you what my favorite things to eat were. Most often, and particularly at the beginning of each new school year, I think back to me and my siblings, convening after a long day at school to watch TV and eat food we could make on our own.

Hot beans in a bowl. With toast. Childhood comfort food. Three’s Company. Let’s do it!

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

The Less:

Less canned food in your pantry means more room for cheaper dry goods to nourish you. Less waste and added preservatives means cleaner eating and a lighter conscience. Less sugar heavy baked beans means more naturally sweetened heartiness, and a whole lot more nourishment too.

The More:

More high fiber protein foods means easier work of digestion. More hearty, filling comfort means more warmth and goodness in your day. More cheap easy recipes means more ways to spread your money farther, because good health doesn’t have to come at a high cost.

Homemade Baked Beans:

  • (2) cups dry white Navy beans, soaked in cold water
  • (1/3- 1/2 cup) good olive oil
  • (2) medium – large yellow onions, chopped
  • (2) tsp salt
  • (1) small can tomato paste (about 1/2 cup)
  • (3) tbsp honey, brown sugar, or other plant-based sweetener
  • (8) cups cold water for cooking
  • Lots of love of and plenty of time

Start by soaking your beans in plenty of cold of water for anywhere from 8 – 20 hours (8 is about the minimum to soak thoroughly and don’t worry if you ill time the soaking – they can sit there for a while). When ready to cook, drain the beans and rinse in the colander under more fresh cold water.

Next, heat the oil in a large soup pot and add the chopped onion and salt. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat, being careful not to burn them. Stir here and there, after 10 minutes the onions should be soft and translucent.

Next, add the tomato paste, beans, and 4 cups of cold cooking water. Stir well to dissolve the paste and bring to a boil over high heat with the lid on. Once the boil is reached, stir again and reduce the heat to medium, to keep the simmer at a jolly roll (not boiling but cooking nicely).

Now, kick up your feet, and get settled in. Read a book , or finish that knitting project you started. Maybe write some notes to your family to tell them you love them. Or not. But do enjoy this nice time at home.

Cook the beans withe the lid ajar for 1.5 hours, stirring here and there and adding the remaining 4 cups of water in increments as the sauce reduces. After the first hour, add whatever water is left, and the honey or sweetener, and cook for 30 minutes until the mixture is deliciously saucy.

From here, you can let the beans hang out until you are ready to bake them (you can even sneak in a bowl to eat at this point).

To bake, transfer the beans to a casserole and bake, covered either with the casserole lid or with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and serve hot with fresh bread or toast.

These beans will keep extremely well, and should be good to eat up to a week after they are made. A little goes a long way here as these guys are hearty and filling, so pile them into a container for those moments during the week when you need a little comfort.

Paired up with the bread recipe lined up for the next post, you’ll wonder if there could possibly be anything simpler or more nostalgic (especially if you grew up in my family).

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.

~ Julia Child

I was pleased to see that 25 years later, kids still love this food as a filler up after soccer practice or after a long tough day as a teenager (because let’s face it, that is exhausting work for those of you who may recall).

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Next I’ll share with you the bread recipe that has literally changed my life since I discovered it. Turns out, it’s never too late to be a baker, even if you’ve never even made bread before! Stay tuned, I am really excited about this one!

Here’s to a super fab October…wishing you all the very best as always!

  • Did you have a favorite childhood comfort food?
  • Got an updated version to share with us?

Let us know! Looking forward to hearing from you all as always, and for all my vegan-minded blog friends taking part in Vegan MoFo, wishing you all the best for a month of blogging inspiration, and those of you interested, check out the link here!

Yours in Less,

87 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Family, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipes: Chickpea Flat Bread & Basil Pistou

The turn of the seasons means time for new foods.

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.

~ Albert Camus

Holla bloggers! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Grateful as always to be here, I spent the weekend enjoying cooking at home and getting back into the groove in my kitchen. Yes, the dancing shoes were on and everything πŸ™‚

Since utilizing fresh, accessible & affordable ingredients is fundamental to this blog, I am super excited to keep sharing more easy healthy recipes, and what fun it is to bounce off the energy and inspiration collected on my recent holiday.

This (new to me) gluten-free chickpea flat bread is as versatile as it is tasty, and when it comes to preparation, is almost criminally easy.

Paired with a topper like this Basil Pistou, it makes a perfect light lunch or side to a more substantial meal.

A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.

~ Sir Thomas Moore

Before we start, a few thoughts on food…

I’ve been teasing for quite a few posts about the foods we enjoyed while we were away. Of course I’d planned to write about this for weeks, and the truth when it comes right down to it is just this: the food we enjoyed there was dead simple.

We enjoyed amazing produce, and super fresh bread & cheese. My husband barbecued & I made (and ate) salads galore.

There were a few key ingredients that were thoroughly enjoyed to the last drop, like a balsamic vinegar that tasted as sweet as could be, gorgeous raw walnut oil for our salad dressings, delicious mustard that was added to everything, and wonderful staples like fresh bocconcini, tomatoes, sublime melons, and that amazingly fresh bread.

The crazy thing was that in France, and most notably in the countryside, the fresh healthy stuff came wonderfully affordable compared to home.

Upon our return to the Canadian west coast, fresh on the memories of the market in Provence, a visit to our local farmers market revealed that prices are in some cases 5 times what they were in France (and I was informed that the market we visited was the ‘expensive’ one for tourists by a good French friend).

There, baguettes were at the most 1 dollar (85 euro cents). A giant ball of gorgeous fresh bocconcini cost all of $1.15, and a triangle of brie just a paltry $1.96 (precisely). Sweet ripe melons were sold at every market at a mind boggling 3/$5, and two entire days worth of fresh picked fruit and vegetables cost me all of $9 at a roadside stand.

Enjoying regional foods is beautiful no matter where you are, and treating to aged balsamic vinegar (at $15 a bottle), local walnut oil ($5 a bottle), and fresh pressed local olive oil ($6) was a dream, made that much more amazing by the accessibility and prices.

Here at home, the same balsamic once imported would cost $50. Needless to say, I’m back to adding sugar to my dressings, and they taste delicious too πŸ™‚

My return has prompted many new (and renewed) thoughts & ideas about our food here at home and the dream of making delicious, healthy foods available to all.

It was inspiring to say the least, and also eye opening to see such stark differences between the different worlds. So I am back to cooking, and back to work on this project that is so dear to my heart.

I’m so excited to bring you all along, starting with these recipes!

No one has ever become poor by giving.

~ Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

The Less:

Less store bought breads and dips means more taste & freshness without the added cost & waste. Fewer ingredients means easy work of making delicious. Less cost to make healthy goodness means your money can go farther, and who wouldn’t take a bite of that idea?

The More:

More fresh garlic means more taste and added amazing health benefits. More grain free recipes at hand means more options for those who may be sensitive. More easy ways to impress your guests means more smiles at the table, after all, nothing brings a smile like the smile of another.

Chickpea Flat Bread:

  • (1) tbsp good olive oil for oiling the pan
  • (3) tbsp good olive oil for the recipe
  • (2.5) cups chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
  • (3.5) cups water
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (1-2) tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a square or round 8-9 inch cake pan with (1) tbsp of olive oil.

Next, measure the flour into a large bowl. Gradually add the water into the flour, whisking constantly to keep lumps from forming. Add the salt, chopped rosemary, and (3) tbsp olive oil and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden, about 40 minutes. When done, remove the bread from the oven and let cool for a couple of minutes.

Remove from the pan and cut into slices, or, bring the entire pan to the table or serving area and serve straight from there!

This recipe made a generous amount that lasted in our house all week. If you like, this recipe can easily be halved, in which case you could use a regular loaf pan to bake it in.

We ate this with the pistou in this post but also enjoyed it days later fried in salt & olive oil as delicious croutons for our weeknight salads.

Keep any leftovers in the fridge and use within 5-6 days.

Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others.

~ Buddha

I’d love to hear how this goes for those of you who are looking for easy & affordable gluten free recipes to try. It’s so easy and has a lovely digestibility, not to mention the unexpected gentle chickpea flavor. Yum.

Chickpea flour is very affordable and is available in Asian food stores (it is used in Indian recipes) as well as most health food stores.

The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up.

~ Mark Twain

Basil Pistou:

– Adapted from Ina Garten in the Barefoot Contessa

  • (2-4) large garlic cloves (depending on your fondness for garlic!)
  • (1/4) cup tomato paste
  • (24) fresh basil leaves (or about 1 packed cup of fresh basil)
  • (1/2) cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • (1) cup good olive oil
  • (1) tbsp lemon juice
  • (1/4) tsp salt

Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth and well incorporated.

Feel free to start and stop the blender to whirl the mixture with a spatula (always taking care to not do this while it is running, mindfulness with the blender can be a big challenge for me!).

Transfer to a sealed container or jar and keep in the fridge. By adding the lemon juice, this recipe should not discolor, but if you choose to you can cover the top of the pistou with a film of olive oil to keep it from drying out at the top while being stored. The original recipe called for all but the salt and lemon, but I couldn’t resist adding my favorite flavor boosters, and I do think it is more delicious for it.

Use this as a spread for bread, or for pasta, in a sandwich, or as a quick perk up for a bowl of hot soup.

This one might be tough for my vegan readers as the cheese really does carry it, but with all the genius for substitutions out there among all of you, nothing would surprise me at all πŸ™‚

A quick bit of reading on the difference between pistou & pesto yielded some history on the origins of both (both have been around for centuries), and from what I read the basic difference between the two seems to be the absence of nuts in a pistou.

Great news for those sensitive to nuts, or anyone looking to add easy variety to their repertoire.

In my next post, I’ll share the pasta salad I made with this pistou. Garlicky and delicious, it was a perfect combo with these amazingly ripe local tomatoes πŸ™‚

The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

I hope all of you are basking in the glory of September, whether it is Spring or Fall where you are.

Stay tuned for more recipes and some Not So Fast news coming up! We are hard at work this fall and hope to have some fun to share with you all very soon!

  • Have you ever tried working with chickpea flour?
  • Got a favorite pesto or pistou?

I’ve seen a few great posts out there in the blog world using chickpea flour, feel free to share your faves in the comments – I’d love to know if you’ve got a goodie!

Wishing you all a super fabulous week!

Yours in Less,

92 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Not So Fast, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Travel, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Feisty Fried Cumin Hummus

There is nothing like a quiet weekend at home.

Lost time is never found again.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Howdy fine blogging readers and buds!

The weekend is soon upon us (yay!) and we are looking forward to spending a quiet weekend here at home. The teenager is gone on a camping trip, and the little one is done school for the year. Time to stop. And enjoy.

Sometimes nothing beats the promise of a few days around the house, enjoying the hard work it takes to make your house a true home.

I’ve shared with you all about my recent attempts to free up some space and remove a portion of mental clutter by clearing out closet space, or the basement, or just our minds. This weekend I am looking forward to seizing the opportunity to enjoy that extra space.

I can feel the relaxation already…can you? πŸ˜‰

Today I am excited to share with you quite possibly the best hummus I have ever had – yup, it’s that good.

Now, if you like cumin, this recipe will seriously hit the spot. If you don’t (or just aren’t sure), this is almost guaranteed to turn you onto it (IMO). It’s that seriously serious about it’s flavor. And it’s just that feisty too.

Packed with the goodness and flavor punch of fresh lemon, garlic, and parsley, this intensely flavorful dip will have you wondering how you ever made it any other way!

I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.

~ Thomas Jefferson

The Less:

Less over salted processed dips means less bad sodium without sacrificing taste. Less high cost and high fat snack foods means less guilt and more enjoyment. Less repetition in your recipes means there is always something new, so you can re-work the classics to be fresh every time.

The More:

More intensity in flavorings means more satisfaction from fewer bites. More freshly made snack foods means more healthy ways to get cooking. More pure clean ingredients means more accessible nutrition, so your body can make quick work of every morsel.

Feisty Fried Cumin Hummus:

~ Recipe can easily be halved for a single serving

  • (2.5) tsp cumin seeds
  • (2) tbsp olive oil
  • (4) cups cooked chickpeas (2 398ml can if using canned)
  • (4) tbsp sesame tahini
  • (6-8) tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • (2) medium cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • (2) tsp good sea salt
  • (1/2) cup good olive oil
  • (1/2) cup fresh parsley (not packed)
  • up to (1/2) cup of cold water

Ready to make delicious?

Start with the cumin seeds and 2 tbsp. of olive oil. In a medium frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat until hot. Add the cumin seeds whole and cook, stirring pretty much constantly, for 1 minute. The seeds should turn a dark brown and become beautifully fragrant – just be careful not to burn them!

It is best to stay fully present (as in, in the moment, hard sometimes) while doing this step, or you could end up with a smoke-filled kitchen (unless you like that sort of thing).

Remove the seeds to a bowl and allow the hot oil from the pan to follow. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine 2 teaspoons of the cumin seeds with all the remaining ingredients except the water – reserving the last half teaspoon or so of seeds for garnish. Blend on high until well mixed and smooth (and crazy good).

If using a blender, add the additional water as the blender runs and agitate the mixture with a spatula (careful of those blades!). Use only enough water to get the mixture churning nicely and to facilitate better blending.

For those using a food processor, feel free to add enough water to reach desired consistency.

Taste to adjust seasonings and remove into a container or serving dish. This hummus is best served a little colder or after sitting in the fridge for (just a little) while.

Before serving or storing, garnish the top with the remaining fried seeds and a nice splash or drizzle of additional oil.

Perfection!

I actually think this is my favorite hummus version ever.

It is full of protein, calcium, and loaded with healthy fats and fresh ingredients. Keep this stored in your fridge for up to a week and use it as you wish .

On fresh crusty bread, crackers, or with any fresh crisp vegetable.

Teachers open the door – you enter by yourself.

~ Chinese Proverb

There is nothing as wonderful as a fresh bowl of crunchy romaine hearts.

Ready to scoop up your favorite dip.

Summer time calls for easy living. With ovens off and back doors flung wide open.

Grab a few fixings and head outside. This weekend I’ll be enjoying this house I call a home.

I’ll be digging into this delicious dip right here. All alone. And I can’t wait.

I make like I like alone time, but guaranteed it won’t last long.

Whether filled with friends or family, this house always seems full. Full of energy, full of good folk, and (thankfully) full of good food. Not too much though……just enough. I am a lucky girl.

There is more to life than increasing its speed.

~ Ghandi

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.

~ Aesop

The first hummus recipe I ever posted here at IPOM was (just a little) bad-ass, but add this super feisty version and I wonder kind of match we’ll have on our hands?

  • What’s your favorite hummus version?
  • How are you spending your upcoming weekend?

Let us know readers! It is always such a pleasure to hear from you all πŸ™‚

I’ll be doing some major blogging catch up this weekend as I relax on my couch, and I can’t wait!

Yours in Less,

79 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Superfood Chocolate Chip Cookies & Guest Posting!

Ready for a 2 Post Friday?

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

~ Dr. Seuss

Welcome to a special 2 Post Friday here at IPOM! Holla! *So much fun*

Another link at the end of this post too!

Today I’ve got a guest post up at Cara’s amazing blog, Fork and Beans.

If you’ve never had a chance to visit her before now, I highly suggest you do after I tempt you with these delicious cookies (the link is up at the end of the post too!).

Today’s recipe, here at IPOM, is Carla’s favorite homemade cookie recipe, the one given to her on her wedding day in a family cookbook.

This version is slightly updated and it incorporates a few of our latest favorite super foods.

It is super. For reals.

I’ve also got to thank you readers for your responses and messages regarding the last post about Chris and Carla – if you liked what you read then be sure to keep up with us as we share more and more…it is only just beginning!

Now for the cookies…

Cocoa nibs are a nutritional wonder finding their way into yummy treats all over the blogosphere. You can enjoy them in granola, or these raw cookies.

But today – they team up with chocolate chips for an extra hit of rich sweet goodness!

Look for cocoa nibs online or in most health food stores these days. They aren’t cheap, but a little goes a long way.

Hemp hearts are one of my all time favorites.

Grown here in Canada (you’ve got to love local), they are loaded with healthy fats and protein that fill you up and keep on giving well into the end of your day.

I am a giant fan of enjoying them in the morning, they provide fuel for an evening run or workout that is amazing, and did I mention just a few tablespoons keep you satisfied for hours too? Pretty killer.

The Less:

Less hydrogenated fats and oil mean less hard to identify compounds for your body. Less store bought treats means less packaging, waste, and preservatives. Less reliance on outside sources for snacks and goodies means more ways to make life simply delicious. Especially when it is this super-charged.

The More:

More superfood ingredients means more super-charged nutrition. More pure easy ingredients means more goodness that’s easily at hand. More homemade chocolatey treats means more tasty ways to share blessings, so you can spread thankfulness for today πŸ™‚

Superfood Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Cream Together:

  • (1/2) cup brown sugar
  • (1) cup butter (at room temperature)

Wet:

  • (2) eggs
  • (2) tsp vanilla extract
  • (2) tbsp milk

Dry:

  • (1) cup whole wheat flour
  • (1) cup white flour
  • (1) tsp baking soda
  • (1) tsp baking powder
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (1/2) tsp salt
  • (2) cups oatmeal
  • (1) cup shredded coconut
  • (1) cup hemp hearts (sub 1 more cup coconut of you don’t have these)
  • (2) cups chocolate chips
  • (1) cup cocoa nibs (sub 1 more cup chocolate chips if you don’t have these)

Start by heating the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Combine the dry ingredients in another mixing bowl and add to the wet ingredient bowl in batches, stirring in between to incorporate. Get in there with your hands!

Shape your cookies and set on a flat un-oiled cookie sheet. No need to press these down as they will make a lovely ‘cake-like’ cookie (like my mom used to make).

Bake for 8 minutes. Once ready, remove from the oven and let sit on the hot dry another 5 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.

Pack up in your favorite tin and share, share, share!

This recipe does make a rather large batch of cookies. Of course, you could halve the recipe though I am sure the large batch size is for a reason ~ for sharing!

After all, who in your life could use a little thank you? Got a friend, co-worker, neighbour that likes cookies? I bet you do! Accountant, boss, arch enemy? No one could say no to a home baked cookie.*

*(unless you could)

There is no delight in owning anything unshared.

~ Seneca

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

~ Winston S. Churchill

The world is what YOU think of it, so think of it DIFFERENTLY and your life will change.

~ Paul Arden, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite

Consider this the official invite..

I’ll be busy planning an extra special dinner with some very special friends next weekend. I’ll be sure to update you all very soon on that one!

  • What is your favorite cookie recipe?
  • Anyone in your life that could use a little thank you?

I am so happy to share Carla’s favorite way to perk the office up with you today, we are always thankful for home baked treats!

Let us know your thoughts, and as always giant thanks to all for reading!

Make sure to come see us at Fork and Beans and meet Cara, you’ll be so happy you did, and thanks again to Cara for hosting me today!

Yours in Less,

51 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Oatmeal, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Snacks, Sweet Treats, Vegetarian

Recipe: White Kidney Bean Dip with Herbs & Artichokes

It is always so good to be home!

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

~ Henry Miller

Hello bloggers!

I am rather excited to report that I made it through another few days of (fun) work travel and am home safe and sound!

It has been a busy little spring here (for me and my little trips) and I am quite content to put my feet up for the next little while and rest until the ‘big trip’ comes around in August.

I wish I could report that the weather was swell here at home, but the truth is it is just so-so (it’s sunny out as I write though!).

So while I pine for (just a little) sun, I’ll share with you this yummy dip that we’ve been enjoying, most recently on our Mother’s Day picnic (yes…a sunny warm meal outdoors!) *sigh*…

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

~ Marthe Troly-Curtin

As you all may know, I enjoy finding many a use for green veggies like kale, and this dip offers another chance to use up this powerfully nutritious green.

Along with fresh herbs, the easy to use and ever tasty artichokes, and (always) good quality olive oil, lemon, garlic, and (just a little) of your love – this 100% vegan dip is an elegantly pleasant surprise!

So if you’ve got a bag of dried white kidneys, or a can or two hanging around the pantry, this is a fabulous way to enjoy their creamy texture and taste that serves as a base for many a lively addition.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.

Β  ~ Dalai Lama XIV

The Less:

Less dairy-based dips means more plant-based clean eating. Less store bought or prepared foods means more fresh easy ingredients. Fewer ruts in your repertoire means things will always stay fresh, and what’s better than freshness in life?

The More:

More high fiber bean dishes means more tasty ways to fill up faster. More fresh greens to incorporate means more reasons to always stock them. More fresh dips on hand means less tempting for calories elsewhere, so you can enjoy more of the good stuff, more often.

White Kidney Bean Dip with Herbs & Artichokes:

  • (3) cups cooked white kidney beans (navy beans will do in a pinch)
  • (1/2) cup cashews, soaked in water for 4 hours (you can also use them straight up)
  • (1) can artichokes (398 ml, about 5 each)
  • (1) cup chopped green curly kale
  • (1/2) cup fresh lemon juice
  • (1/2) cup good quality olive oil
  • (2-3) cloves of fresh garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
  • (3) heaping teaspoons capers
  • (1) tbsp fresh rosemary leaves removes from the stem & chopped (about 2-3 stems)
  • (2) tbsp fresh thyme leaves, removed from the stem
  • (1) tsp salt (more to taste)

Combine all ingredients on a blender or food processor, and pulse blend until creamy and well combined. You can’t over blend this one so let is really go!

Once ready, transfer to a container or serving bowl and chill. This tangy dip will keep for a while in the fridge, at least a week, and goes well with all breads, crackers, and fresh crisp vegetables (it’s super delicious with crisp romaine leaves).

This recipe makes a generous portion, so if you aren’t feeding a large group, or don’t want to eat it all week, consider halving the recipe.

If you do make the whole thing – plan to eat this for a few days! The nice thing is there are so many ways…..and it is pretty yummy πŸ™‚

If you have trouble peeling garlic, here is a good little tip (I am sure many of you do this already):

Start with good garlic. But organic if you can and local garlic is even better. Separate the cloves you need from the bulb.

Using a sharp knife, place the side of the knife on top of the garlic clove you are about to peel. Using all of your weight, push down on the knife and the garlic and crush the clove with the side of the heavy knife blade.

The peel will slip right off! Voila!

Of course I served this a few times in the last while for guests, and on this gloriously sunny picnic.

It’s also superb on warm toast with tomato.

The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.

~ Mark Twain

However you choose to enjoy it, I suspect this will be a hit!

Even the hubby liked it and kept going back for more. I didn’t tell him it was full of kale or capers..because there really was no need πŸ™‚

Where there is love there is life.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did!

  • What is your favorite summer dip?
  • Do you ever use white kidney beans?

Next up, I’ll share with you all (as promised!) the progress we’ve made on our plans for NSF…we are working on a menu for a special event coming up and getting ready to roll out our new look!

Carla and Chris started something special with their 40 day fast, and I am grateful for their efforts and contribution – I hope you will be as pleased to meet them as I am to know them.

Have a fabulous week my friends – I am wondering if anyone got inspired to purge their closet from the last post? I loved all of your comments…and am so glad to hear I am not the only one out there who is benefiting from letting go!

We would love to hear from you, and hope you are all having a swell week, wherever you are, and no matter the weather πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

81 Comments

Filed under Cashews, Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Nut Recipes, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Almond Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares

Can I tempt anyone with dessert?

There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now.

~ Anonymous

Anyone up for a special treat?!

This has been a very special week here at IPOM, and for (little, wee) me. Many hard weeks of patient, persistent, and tough pushing on seem to be paying off.

There are some big decisions being made, some plans being laid out, and some fruit ready for the picking from from what has been (what feels like) a (very) long, a (very) careful, and (at times) a very trying growing season (yes, more corny metaphors…..I can’t help it!).

There is one reason only these things are happening, and that is I am lucky to be surrounded to by truly great people.

These people give of their time, and of their talents, and most of all, from their hearts. For these people, and for you readers who are so wonderfully supportive, I am so very grateful. Thank you.

So I made dessert this week to celebrate! It was rather overdue, and plus, I get to thank a couple of special people for the inspiration on this one.

It’s better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t.

~ Paul Arden, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite

The inspiration for this recipe came to me from one of my blogging buds – Sarah from the Healthy Diva – who whipped up a batch of a lovely sounding dessert (originally from Oh She Glows) for a charity bake sale.

I checked it out and not only did the recipe sound amazing, but it was also right up my alley – gluten-free, no baking, and now, loaded with chocolate.

I made a few changes to the original, and the results are, well, more than worthy of this wonderful week!

Thanks to the Diva for her amazing efforts (in both cooking and giving) and to another wonderful reader also named Sarah (wink) who expressed her love for rice krispie squares this week in one of her comments.

The Less:

Less marshmallow sweetened rice krispie treats means less gooey, sticky messes to clean. Less heavy, flour-based treats means you can eat these and still feel light as air. Less time baking treats in the oven means less energy expended, so we can save it for something (or someone) else who needs it more.

The More:

More natural nut butter richness means sweet cravings become welcome. More crispy sweet rice cereal means less mess and more crunch. More yummy homemade treats means more yummy homemade smiles, ones you can share everyday.

Almond Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares:

  • (4.5) cups rice crisp cereal (I use the traditional Kellogg’s but you can use any kind)
  • (1/2) cup roasted or raw almond butter (feel free to sub cashew or pumpkin butter too!)
  • (1) tbsp coconut butter, butter, or margarine (optional)
  • (1/2) cup honey (or brown rice syrup)
  • (1/4) tsp fine salt, or to taste
  • (1) tbsp vanilla extract
  • (1) cup chocolate chips (we love Chipits in this house)

Get ready a 9 inch by 9 inch baking pan and butter lightly (either coconut butter or butter) or line with wax or parchment paper.

In a small pot, combine the nut butter, honey, sea salt, and coconut butter.

On very low heat, stir to combine and warm only very gently. Remove from heat once smooth and well mixed and add vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, combine the rice krispies and chocolate chips with the nut butter/honey mixture and mix (you need your hands for this!). Mix well with a firm hand, squeezing the mixture tightly to ensure evenness throughout.

The chocolate chips will melt as you mix and you will end up with a gooey mixture of pure amazing-ness.

Press the mixture into a square pan either greased with a little butter or lined with parchment paper. Push down firmly to pack it in tightly and evenly (this can be a bit of a meditative exercise). Once smooth, pop these babies in the refrigerator until set!

When cold and set, cut into small squares, triangles, (or whatever shape you desire really) and enjoy!

Keep these guys in the fridge to maintain their yummy firm texture.

Amazing, delicious, nutritious, and so easy!

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

~ Pablo Picasso

The beauty here is you need very little to be satisfied.

These little guys are loaded with nutrition from the almonds, sweetness from the bees (or rice syrup if you choose for my vegan readers), and crispy chocolatey perfection.

As is often said here at IPOM, it’s about celebrating & reveling in the little things, and a little really does go a long way here!

Talent helps, but it won’t take you as far as ambition

~ Paul Arden

These will now be household staple here as it is rare we don’t have all the ingredients in the house.

Once you taste these you’ll really understand πŸ™‚

It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.

~ Lou Holtz

So with that, I am signing off for a relaxing weekend with old friends over food, family, and (just a little) poolside banter and a few long, deep breaths of clean country air.

I am feeling incredibly grateful for life’s lessons this week, and know that the secret to doing anything is always just in starting.

From there, the road is bumpy. It’s messy and full of failure. But it is also exhilarating, and full of giant triumphs and smiles.

If you always make the right decision, the safe decision, the one most people make, you will be the same as everyone else.

~ Paul Arden

I can’t imagine any other way I’d want to live, and I am so happy you are here with me too!

  • What’s your favorite rice krispie recipe?
  • Are you as in love with chocolate as we are?

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

I might be a little MIA for the next few days and will try to keep up with you all as best I can. I am looking forward to some amazing meals and can’t wait to share it all with you when I get back!

Let us know your thoughts friends – I’ve a feeling there are some chocolate lovers out there with me πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

92 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Desserts, Food, Gluten Free, Nut Recipes, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Snacks, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipe: Caramelized Onion, Rosemary & Olive Focaccia – Virtual Vegan Potluck Edition

What is your ultimate comfort food?

Give us this day our daily bread..

Welcome to all my regular IPOM readers and those joining us specially for the Virtual Vegan Potluck today! I hope you enjoy this stop on the journey through – there are some great contributions out there today so I hope you’ve got your printer ready…here goes!

There is an old saying that wheat is the staff of life. Have you heard this before?

I grew up enjoying home-baked bread, and neighborly potlucks featuring homemade pizzas with whole wheat dough.

Many comforting childhood memories come from pieces of warm fresh bread, and nothing satisfies the soul quite like it to this day, (maybe it’s the Virgo in me, that’s what my mom always told me).

I am so excited to present this wonderful recipe shared with me by my chef brother that can double as both pizza dough, and a ridiculously good focaccia.

Well done is better than well said.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Olives, Caramelized Onions, Rosemary, Olive Oil, and more Olive Oil.

Along with good bread, pizza is also a super staple in our house for successful vegetarian entertaining. It’s always great, no matter what you put on it.

So after years of outsourcing dough (to those wonderful delis who do it so expertly), I am so proud to say that yeast and I are now officially good buddies (it hasn’t always been that way).

So with that, let’s get started on this most amazing recipe that is sure to become an instant party or potluck favorite!

The Less:

Less store-bought bread means less plastic and preservatives. Less bakery bought treats means you can make these treats for cheap. Less wondering whether you can do it means more champion-like confidence, so you can get going on pretty much anything, and what’s better than being a champion of action?

The More:

More confidence in the kitchen means knowing you can do just about anything. More ways to impress guests means more satisfaction from having them. More tasty fresh foods means less craving for taste and flavor elsewhere, and more yummy delicious recipes like this means you’ll always have lots to share πŸ™‚

Caramelized Onion, Rosemary & Olive Focaccia:

~ makes two focaccias or 4 pizza doughs

The Dough:

  • (2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • (2 cups) warm water – about the temperature of a child’s bath
  • (3 tsp) sugar
  • (3) tsp salt
  • (4) cups flour all-purpose
  • (4 tbsp) olive oil

The Toppings:

  • (1) medium yellow onion or(1/2) a large sweet onion, sliced lengthwise thinly
  • (1 tsp) salt
  • (1 tsp) sugar
  • (1 cup) of large black olives (Giant or Kalamata) – about 10 – 12
  • (2-3) sprigs fresh rosemary
  • plenty of olive oil (1/4-1/2 cup)

Ready to make bread? Yeah you are!

To get started, gather up all of your ingredients for the dough and commandeer your favorite large mixing bowl.

In the bowl, add 2 cups of warm water (not too hot, not too cold) to the bowl. Add the sugar and stir. Next, add the yeast, but do not stir. Let sit for 5 minutes or so.

After a few minutes, add half the flour and the salt to the mixture in the bowl (about 2 cups) and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is nice and smooth.

Next add the olive oil and mix until the mixture is a bit pasty. From here, you can go ahead and dump the rest of the flour into the bowl and mix – start with a wooden spoon and then switch to the hands – it’s so much fun!

My brother says to mix this until it ‘pulls from the bowl’. This seems to work well, and I mix this way until it seems ready to come out and be kneaded on the counter.

Once the dough is ‘pulling from the bowl’, remove it and set on the counter to prepare for kneading.

To knead, dust the counter with a sprinkling of flour and knead…this to inject the dough with air – and truthfully I have never enjoyed this process, or really applied myself to it either – but I am actually learning to love this part!

Just set the CD player to your favorite new dance CD and watch the time fly by…

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until you have a lovely round ball of dough.

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.

~ Edmund Burke

Set your dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl (feel free to wash and oil the same bowl you mixed in). Cover with a clean tea towel and set in a warm place to rise.

Hint: I turn the oven on and set on to heat up top of, or right beside the stove. It seems no matter how nicely you talk to the yeast, it will not rise unless it is in a warm place (go figure!)

It has risen!

Let the dough rise for about 1 – 1.5 hours, until you have a nice little rise happening (you will know!).

Now for the best part.

Remove the tea towel and punch the dough down with your fist to release the air. Your dough will pop and fall in a beautiful fashion, and it is now ready to settle in for a bit while you prep the rest of your ingredients.

Remove the dough from the bowl and re-shape on the counter or cutting board. Cut the dough in half. Ideally, let sit for 30 minutes before using. Any leftover dough not being used immediately can be frozen or refrigerated for future use, and I find it super handy to have some dough to bake off during the week for unexpected guests, or just for kids πŸ™‚

So. Very. Awesome.

The Onions, Olives, and Rosemary:

While you wait for the dough to rise, you can prepare the magical part of this recipe – the tasty toppings.

Slice your onion in long thin strips and heat a large skillet to medium-high. Add a nice splash of olive oil to the skillet and add the onion, salt, and sugar. On medium to medium high heat, cook the onion for 25 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. By slow cooking the onions in the sugar and salt, they will get brown, sticky, and heavenly. Just be sure to stir often. Once ready, remove from heat and let cool.

Pit and half the olives and set aside. Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and chop with a knife finely.

When ready to assemble the focaccia for baking, start by heating the oven to 400 degrees. Oil generously a large flat rectangular baking tray (or two if you are cooking them both off).

Oil your hands a little and stretch the room temperature dough to fit the length of your tray – this should be easy and the dough should keep it’s shape when pulled. If you need some help, you can keep a little bowl of flour to the side and use a little help this process.

Once you have your shape, add the olives, then the onions, and finally the rosemary. Finish this off with a generous pour of olive oil across the entire surface of the bread (don’t be shy!).

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until the sides are golden and the smell is heaven in the kitchen. Let cool and slice as desired!

Keep this stored at room temperature wrapped in foil, it’s great warmed up a bit in the oven the day after πŸ™‚

Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread. Without it, it’s flat.

~ Carmen McRae

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.

~ Nelson Mandela

This bread is stunning on its own, or served with a light dip, or alongside a salad, or really, anything!

It’s so tasty.

Honestly, it’s got all my favorite things. And the best part is I can now make it myself (and so can you!).

I hope you’ll enjoy this whether you are already great friends with making bread and dough or not!

This recipe can be altered in so many ways to suit your mood.

Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.

~ Richard Wright

Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.

~ Ella Williams

So, whether you are a seasoned dough expert, a newbie, or an ‘outsourcer’ like I’ve been, I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we did this week.

I think I’ve discovered the secret of life — you just hang around until you get used to it.

~ Charles M. Schulz

To continue to follow the offerings in the potluck , you can click on the links provided at the end of the post to see either the previous dish on the journey or continue through to the next dish. To start at the very beginning and see them all, go here to Vegan Bloggers Unite.

Huge kudos to all for their fantastic contributions, and a giant congrats to Annie for pulling this off!

I am so stoked to see all the rest of the wonderful offerings this weekend.

To read the original post that got all of this started, visit the original post here at an unrefined vegan.

  • Are you a seasoned bread or dough maker?
  • What are you favorite toppings for focaccia or pizza?

Thanks for stopping by, and wishing you all a fabulous weekend, and a Happy Mother’s Day!

Yours in Less,

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