Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coffee Fig Smoothies

Featured Ingredient: Coffee

It’s stinking hot in Southern Ontario these days. Living minus air conditioning is something Tabi and I prefer, but with our kitchen pulling double duty as a sauna we don’t have much of an appetite for laborious cooked foods. That is why our freezer is packed with smoothie cups for ready-to-go thirst quenching goodness. These coffee smoothie cups packed with figs and cashews are liquid ambrosia indeed. Using Doi Chaang coffee makes the java smoothies even easier swallow. 














You’ll be hard pressed to find a food or beverage company with a stronger social ethos. Not only has this coffee from the mountains of Northern Thailand garnered much praise from coffee tasting experts, but it’s half owned by the Akha growers. Hence the label “Beyond Fair Trade.” A couple years back, Tabi and I were lucky enough to bicycle up to the growing community which was a wonderful experience. To read more about this forward-thinking business model click here.














Ready for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway? The fine folks at Doi Chaang Coffee would like to award one of my readers with a bag of their stellar coffee. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I want to brew up Doi Chaang” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday July 24th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Congratulations to omarilynobrien who was randomly selected the winner of some Doi Chaang Coffee product. 

Coffee Fig Smoothie Cups














2 cups brewed coffee
1 cup unsalted cashews
1 cup dried Mission figs
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 large bananas
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place coffee, cashews and figs in a bowl and let sit for 1 hour. Place coffee mixture in a blender container along with the Greek yogurt, bananas, cardamom, cocoa powder and vanilla and blend until a smooth, thick mixture forms.

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized muffin cups, place tray in freezer and freeze until solid, about 4 hours.  

Unmold smoothie cups, place them in an airtight container, and return to freezer until ready to use. If you did not use silicon muffin cups and are having trouble unmolding the frozen cups try placing the bottom of the muffin tin in warm water for few seconds, being careful not to thaw the contents.

When ready to make a smoothie, place 1 cup liquid of choice (I usually go for milk) and 2 coffee smoothie cups into a blender container and blend until smooth. For most blenders, its best to carefully slice the smoothie cups into halves or quarters first before placing them in the blender container to help make the blending easier. 


You’ll get 6 smoothies out of 12 frozen smoothie cups. 


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hemp Spinach Pesto Cups + Giveaway

Featured Ingredient: Hemp Hearts

















During the summer, we always have pesto on hand. It goes smashingly with so many warm weather dishes such as grilled potatoes, smoked fish sandwiches or sliced local tomatoes. Unfortunately, with just the two of us some of the pesto often goes a little raunchy before we have had a chance to use it all up. It’s a grim time to have to scrap homemade pesto into the compost bucket!

For this reason, I’ve started to freeze my pesto in mini muffin cups. This way I have ready-to-go servings that simply need a quick defrost on a warm windowsill or in the microwave. The pesto cups will stay good in the freezer for up to 3 months which is much longer than in the fridge.

There are countless pesto combinations that can be used, but one constant in my recipes is hemp hearts (a.k.a. hemp seeds). They have an amazing nutty flavor that works well in lieu of pricey pine nuts and are loaded with minerals and heart-healthy omega essential fats. If I have it on hand, I’ll also often swap out the olive oil for verdant hemp oil. At this time of year, we can get loads of garlic scapes at the market or in our community garden and are a great seasonal addition to pesto recipes. But you can also use regular garlic in this recipe.

It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. This time, the fine folks at Manitoba Harvest would like to award one of my readers with some of their amazing hemp food. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “Hooray for Hemp” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday July 17th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Congratulations to Georgiana who was randomly selected the winner of some good goodness. Georgiana, use the contact button above to send me your shipping details and I'll get some hemp product sent your way.














Hemp Spinach Pesto Cups
















8 to 10 garlic scapes, finely chopped (or 3 chopped garlic cloves) 
2 cups spinach
1 cup fresh basil
1/3 cup hemp hearts (hemp seeds)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or hemp oil

Place arugula, basil, garlic scapes and hemp hearts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely minced. Add cheese, lemon juice and salt; process until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Through the feed tube add the olive oil or hemp oil while the machine is running until fully combined.


Divide pesto evenly among 10 mini muffin cups, cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and freeze until solid. Unmold pesto cups and place them in a zip-top bag for storage in the freezer until needed. If not using paper liners and you have trouble unmolding the pesto cups, try placing the bottom of the muffin tray in warm water for a few seconds, being careful not to thaw the contents. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Thai Mango Shake Cups

Featured Ingredient: Mango

Tabi and I have been lucky enough to have traveled in Thailand several times and one of the side effects (albeit a positive one) is a constant craving for Thai flavors. There is just something about the mish-mash of sweet, salt, sour and spicy tastes that can’t be beat.

Hence, the inspiration for these frozen ready-to-go shake cups. The little bit of chili heat is an unexpected flavor twist for a refreshing summer smoothie, but I think it really works. The peanuts, coconut milk and mango team up to also create a drink with classic Thai flavor. I’d suggest blending these with some coconut water for a standout smoothie that is rich in vitamin C and vitamin A courtesy of mango. For the best flavor, try to use ataulfo mangoes if available. 

This muffin tin recipe is keeping with the theme of my new cookbook The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook. Because after all, when the mercury is soaring who wants to bake up a batch of muffins?

My publisher Ulysses and I would like to award one my readers with their very own copy of my book, gratis. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I would tango for mango” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday July 10th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Congrats to vljflowergirl who was randomly selected to receive a free copy of my cookbook. Just use the contact tab above to get in touch with me with your shipping details and I will get a book out to you. 

Thai Coconut Mango Shake Cups
















2 cups coconut milk
2 mangos
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup fresh mint
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
1-inch piece fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Place all of the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth. The mixture should be nice and thick.

Divide the mixture among 12 standard sized muffin cups and freeze until solid, about 4 hours.

Unmold smoothie cups, place them in an airtight container, and return to freezer until ready to use. If you did not use silicon muffin cups or liners and are having trouble unmolding the frozen cups, try placing the bottom of the muffin tin in warm water for few seconds, being careful not to thaw the contents.


When ready to make a smoothie, place 1 cup liquid of choice and 2 smoothie cups into a blender container and blend until smooth. For most blenders, its best to carefully slice the smoothie cups into halves or quarters first before placing them in the blender container.