Monday, December 3, 2012

Kale with Crispy Salami

This is a super quick as well as super nutritious side dish ... not to mention super tasty!!!  ENJOY!!

1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch cayenne
3 tsp sea salt
5 cups of kale leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings
8 thin slices of salami, cut into narrow strips (Italian or Hungarian are our faves!)
Black pepper
  • In a small bowl, whisk together honey, vinegar and cayenne.  Set aside.
  • Add about 3" of water to a large pot, add salt and bring to a boil.  Toss in kale and parboil about 3 minutes.  Drain, and let kale dry out in sieve.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add shallots and stir-fry until they start to colour (approx 5 minutes).  Remove to a small dish.  Increase heat in skillet to medium high and add salami strips.  Cook until crisp.  Transfer the salami to another dish.
  • Add kale to skillet and toss quickly.  Kale should just be heated otherwise it will overcook and become soggy.  Remove from the heat, add honey mixture and shallots and toss.  Season to taste with pepper.  Transfer the kale to your serving bowl or platter and garnish with the salami.
  • ENJOY!

Asian Glazed Chicken Thighs

I was appalled to see that my last blog post was in September?!  What the heck have I been doing?? LOL!  I've actually been cooking a lot of the foods that are already posted on this blog (AKA being lazy and not very inventive in the kitchen!)
Last night I decided to try something a little bit different with the boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I had defrosted - and they were a hit with the entire family (PHEW!)  This recipe is easy and tasty, and paired with roasted root vegetables that can be baked in the oven at the same time and temperature as the chicken thighs, you have one super tasty dinner!

1/2 cup rice vinegar
5 tbsp honey
1/3 cup of soy sauce
1/4 sesame oil
3 tbsp Asian chili garlic sauce
3 tbsp minced garlic
Salt, to taste
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Whisk together all the ingredients before the chicken thighs.  Pour half of the marinade into a large freezer bag and add chicken thighs.
  • Place bag in fridge and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours, turning often.
  • Pour the other half of the marinade into a small saucepan and place over medium high heat stirring often to thicken.
  • Preheat oven to 425F
  • Remove chicken thighs from the bag and discard used marinade.  Place chicken thighs into a 9x13 baking dish.  Brush thighs with 1/3 of the thickened marinade
  • Bake in the oven, uncovered for 30 minutes.  Brush with another 1/3 of the marinade and bake for another 5 minutes.  Check temperature of the thighs with a thermometer - it should read 165F.  Remove thighs from oven and let stand.
  • Meanwhile reheat the remaining 1/3 of marinade.  Place thighs on plate and drizzle marinade over top.  
  • Serve and ENJOY!      

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Turkish Red Lentil & Vegetable Stew

I found this recipe in a magazine and was intrigued not only because of its simplicity, but the fact that the recipe has endeavored to make the lentils a complete protein source by combining them with a grain - bulgur!  I happened to have all the ingredients on hand and I was so happy that I took the time to create this meal because it was delicious!!

Half of a large eggplant, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
I large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, cut into 1" chunks
1 zucchini, cut into 1" chunks
1 each sweet red and yellow pepper, cut into 1" chunks
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup red lentils
1/2 cup bulgur
4 cups low sodium beef or vegetable broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp dried mint, crumbled
  • Sprinkle eggplant all over with the salt and let stand until beads of moisture appear (approximately 1/2 hr).  Blot dry with a towel.
  • In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat EVOO over medium-high heat.  Fry onions until lightly golden (approx 4 mins).  Add eggplant, carrots, zucchini, peppers, paprika and cayenne.  Saute until eggplant is almost tender (approx. 10 mins)
  • Add lentils and bulgur and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.  Add broth, 3 cups water and the tomato paste.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered until lentils are almost dissolved (approx. 1 hr).  Make sure you stir periodically otherwise the lentils tend to stick to the bottom of the pot!
  • Stir lemon juice and dried mint into the stew.  Ladle into bowls and ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Citrus Salad with Fennel

This was an easy and delicious salad that doesn't wilt easily so it's perfect for leftovers!!!

1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced (remove top and root ends)
2 carrots, finely julienned
2 small pickling (Lebanese) cucumbers, thinly sliced
4 navel oranges
Zest of half a lemon
2 tbsp of chopped capers
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Divide the oranges into segments, taking care to retain as much of the juice as possible.  Set aside.
  • Place all sliced vegetables and the orange segments in a bowl.
  • In another small bowl, mix orange juice with capers, lemon zest and olive oil.  Whisk all.
  • Add dressing to salad and mix well.
  • ENJOY!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


As I was having my friend Emily over for dinner, who is of Sicilian origin, I decided to make this traditional side dish.  I was a little nervous as I have never made it before - how arrogant to presume to serve a Sicilian a traditional dish without having ever created it before?!  However, Emily assured me that her mother would approve!  I think you will too as it is super-easy and super-tasty!!  It is lovely the next day heated up to compliment your scrambled eggs at breakfast!

1/2 cup EVOO
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 bell peppers (2 red, 2 yellow, 2 green) roughly chopped into 2" dice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 bunch fresh basil, torn
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Heat the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in a Dutch oven or a large skillet.  Saute the onions, garlic, and bay leaves over medium heat until the onion is soft (approx. 6 minutes).  Add the tomato paste, salt and black pepper.  Continue stirring until the tomato paste turns a dark, brick red colour.
  • Add the bell peppers and saute until they are softened (approx. 10 minutes).  Add the wine and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook the peppers for a further 20-30 minutes.
  • Uncover, increase the heat to medium and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated 20 to 25 mins.  Remove the bay leaves and add in basil leaves, balsamic vinegar and salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Serve and enjoy!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Broccoli Craisin Salad

Our Summer/Fall CSA boxes are in full swing with all the wonderful weather we've been receiving.  This week we got a box brimming with spring onions, broccoli, basil, zucchini and more!  Since I had purchased broccoli (as I didn't expect it to appear in the box for a few weeks, but with the warmer weather it ripened sooner!) I decided that dinner tonight was going to feature a broccoli salad.  I'm fortunate that my children enjoy broccoli and moreso because it came straight from the Cooper's!!!  This is a breeze to put together and so colourful and delicious you might make it a regular part of your family's dinners!!!

4 cups broccoli florets
1 cup chopped red peppers
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup Craisins
1/2 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
4 spring onions, diced
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp dark agave syrup
  • In a large serving bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar and agave syrup until well combined.  Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to serving.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Apple, Cheddar & Bacon Pie

All the ingredients you need!
The finished pie!
I grabbed one of the free magazines at the checkout of my local grocery store the other day.  When I opened it up I found this little gem and I was so intrigued (and had all the ingredients on hand) so decided to try it out on the family tonight for dessert!  The kids were so excited since we never usually have dessert during the week...and boy was it good!  Funnily enough, my son Devon didn't enjoy it (I supposed it is because he likes to separate his sweets and savouries?!)  The rest of us loved it!

1 deep dish pie crust*
4 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples
5 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
3/4 cup grated aged Canadian cheddar cheese*
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp of thyme (fresh or dried)
  • Preheat oven to 350F and blind bake the pie crust until golden (or according to the package directions).  Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 325F.
  • Toss apples with bacon, cheese, brown sugar and thyme.  Spread evenly in pie shell.  Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until apples are soft.
  • Serve and ENJOY!   
*I used a regular pie crust simply to hold the filling in place while baking. If I were to make this again, I would either make my own wheat free crust or not even bother, and just bake the fillings in the pie dish.
*As we don't eat dairy, I used a cheddar goat's cheese which tasted just as lovely.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Candy Sushi

Sushi platter!!
This past Saturday I was invited to a wedding shower for my sister-in-law's sister, Caitlin!  It was candy-themed and I wanted to create a dish that would dovetail nicely with the theme...hence candy sushi!!!  This is something that I have never tried before, but you know me!  I will try anything once - and I wasn't disappointed!  This was relatively easy and took approximately 1/2 hr!? (The kids were blown away that I made something unhealthy!  Just to show that I can be a 'fun' Mummy, I packed them two pieces of sushi each in their lunchbags!!)
3 cups rice krispies cereal
2 tbsp butter
1 cup mini marshmallows
gummy worms
Swedish or gummy fish 
Green fruit roll ups
chocolate sauce
Orange marshmallow wedges
Wasabi peas*
"Nigiri" sushi with wasabi peas!!
"Rice" rolls with "ginger" & "soy sauce"!!
  • In a small pot, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the mini marshmallows and stir until they are melted.  Take pot off the heat.  Place rice krispies in a large mixing bowl and add melted marshmallows - stirring together until combined.
  • Place a sheet of parchment paper on a rimmed baking dish and pour out rice krispies mixture on to the pan.  Press the mixture out into a flat sheet approximately 1/2" thick.  Approximately 1/2" in from the edge of the rice krispies mixture, place two lines of gummy worms widthwise across the sheet.  Take the parchment paper and gently roll the rice krispies over the gummy worms and using your hands, press into a cylinder shape (much like making real sushi on a bamboo mat or 'makisu').  Cut the roll off of the sheet of rice krispies.   Like you are cutting pieces of sushi, cut the rice krispies log in 1/4" rounds. (If they flatten a little, just mould with your hands!)  Wrap a strip of green fruit roll ups around the edge to mimic the seaweed (nori) found on the outside of actual maki sushi!
  • Another style of 'sushi' you can make is nigiri.  I achieved this by pressing the rice krispies mixture into the pan so it is 1" thick.  I then cut it into 1/2" wide, 2" long pieces.  Then I simply placed a gummy fish on top of the 'rice' and wrapped a thin strip of fruit roll up around the middle to imitate nigiri!
  • For soy sauce I used chocolate sauce.  For the pickled ginger I used the orange marshmallow wedges and simply cut them in half lengthwise.  *Not until I finished did it occur to me that I could have used fondant icing and coloured it green for wasabi!  Instead I substituted my guilty pleasure - wasabi peas!
  • ENJOY and have fun playing with your food :0)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why Wheat-Free??

As a family we have been wheat-free for almost 1 1/2 yrs now and we couldn't feel better!  I subscribe to this blog named after the famous book "Wheat Belly", and it has many fascinating facts regarding wheat.  The latest entry had answers to one of the questions I am frequently asked: "What is the benefit of going wheat free if I am not celiac or have an intolerance?"  I personally have no gluten intolerance but decided to make the whole family wheat-free as Devon and I should support both India and Greg.  Thought those who have been contemplating a wheat-free lifestyle, would be interested in this:

What’s the point of avoiding wheat if you don’t have celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity? Many reasons:
1) You avoid the gliadin protein of wheat, the opiate in wheat that stimulates appetite and increases calorie consumption by 440 calories per day. (Eliminate gliadin and calorie consumption drops by 440 calories per day.)
2) You avoid the lectin in wheat, wheat germ agglutinin, that is directly toxic to the intestinal tract and causes abnormal intestinal permeability that Trojan horse’s foreign substances into the bloodstream, causing multiple inflammatory diseases. You may also restore leptin sensitivity to restore the capacity for weight loss.
3) You avoid the amylopectin A of wheat, the “complex carbohydrate” that accounts for the fact that two slices of whole grain bread increases blood sugar higher than 6 teaspoons of table sugar.
4) You avoid the alpha amylase inhibitors that trigger wheat allergy, likely the trigger for the boom in wheat allergy among kids.

There’s more, but you get the idea!!
If you would like to read more about the way that wheat has been altered over the years, check out this link.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ensalada Grangero (Mexican Farmer's Salad)

Cinco de Mayo was this past Saturday and our friends, Michelle and Sean and their children, joined us in a veritable feast honouring our newly adopted homeland of Mexico!  We took our recipes from the Better Homes & Gardens "Mexican" magazine (on stands till July 2012) and were super impressed with the results!

This salad was made by Michelle and is delicious and beautiful in its simplicity.

3 ears of fresh sweet corn, husks and silks removed
1 1/2 lbs of fresh green beans, trimmed
3 cups grape tomatoes
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup snipped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
3 fresh jalapeno chile peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped*
2 shallots, chopped
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp bottled minced roasted garlic
1/4 tsp salt

  • In a Dutch oven, cook corn in a large amount of boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender.  Remove corn from Dutch oven, and set aside to cool.  Add beans to the boiling water in Dutch oven;  cook for 3 to 4 minutes or just until crisp-tender.  Drain beans in a colander; rinse with cold water and drain well.  Cut kernels from corn cobs.
  • In a large bowl combine corn kernels, beans, tomatoes and onion.  Toss to combine.
  • For dressing, in a food processor or blender, combine cilantro, oil, chile peppers, shallots, vinegar, garlic and salt.  Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth.  Drizzle dressing over vegetables; toss to coat.
  • ENJOY!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quick Vietnamese - Style Chicken Pho

My husband, kids and I have been into the spicy Vietnamese soups (pho) lately in a BIG way.  I am suffering with a lousy head cold today so I thought a chicken pho was in order for dinner tonight!  This is super simple and while you can go more elaborate and make your own stock, using a low-sodium chicken stock is perfectly acceptable.  I had chicken thighs which Greg browned for me and then I thinly sliced, and I had my own stock in the fridge already...this made the pho really quick to make!

2 cups of thinly sliced, cooked chicken
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 - 3/4 tsp Chinese 5 Spice powder
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sugar (I used 1 tbsp agave syrup)
Thinly sliced shiitake or porcini mushrooms (optional)
1/2 lb dried rice noodles
 1/2 cup of chopped, fresh cilantro
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges 
Either sliced red chilies, or sambal oelek sauce
  • Heat the stock in a large pot on medium low heat.  Add the chicken, onion, 5 spice powder, fish sauce and sugar.  If adding the mushrooms, add now.
  • Once the stock is simmering, add the rice noodles and stir well.
  • Serve the stock in a bowl, and top with cilantro, green onions, chilies, and lime wedge squeezed.
  • ENJOY!

Mulled Wine

**Yet another recipe that has been lingering in my drafts file on this blog - I will try to get a photo when we make it for our Xmas Party 2012!!!**

This has been a staple at our annual Xmas Open House for the past 17 years and it is delicious!  It reminds me of being in the Christmas Markets in Munich and sipping on the Gluhwein while munching on a sausage.  Beware - this definitely is a hangover waiting to happen!!!  Let's just say that it warms the blood and the imagination (just ask our friend JP how he created the Micmac legends surrounding the mulled wine...! LOL!)

1 lemon peel
1 orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch ground nutmeg
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 bottles of full bodied red wine
2 cups ruby port
1 cup brandy
  • In a large pot add peels, spices and sugar to the wine.  Heat gently and simmer.  
  • Add the port and brandy  and heat until liquid just begins to simmer, but do not allow to boil.
  • ENJOY!
*If you need to stretch the mulled wine, add orange juice...but remember, that just waters down the alcohol!!  

Feta Artichoke Bites

Yet another easy, economical and tasty appetizer that I made for our annual Xmas Open House and upon looking through my draft file, realized that it didn't get published?!

1 jar (7 1/2 oz) marinated artichoke hearts
1 cup diced seeded tomatoes
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 baguette
  • Drain artichokes, reserving 2 tbsp marinade.  Chop artichokes and place in a large bowl.  Stir in the tomatoes, cheeses, onions and reserved marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Cut baguette into 1/2" slices.  Spread with artichoke mixture.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Broil 4 to 6" from the heat for 4 - 5 minutes or until edges of bread are browned.  
  • Serve immediately.

Soba Noodle Salad With Pea Shoots & Shiitake Mushrooms

Although I made this for a friend's baby shower and posted it three years ago, I recently had a request for it from another friend.  Therefore, I decided to separate it from the blog post entitled "A Sweet Pea Baby Shower" (although check this post out for some other delicious recipe ideas!!!)

1 pkg of soba noodles (8oz) - Japanese buckwheat noodles
1 tbsp each, of sesame & vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz (300g) of shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
12 oz snow pea shoots (375g)
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup sodium-reduced soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
  • In a large pot of boiling water, cook soba noodles until tender (5 mins). Stir gently and reduce heat because they tend to boil over. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  • In a large skillet or wok, heat half of the sesame and vegetable oils over med-high heat; saute garlic until fragrant (15 seconds), add mushrooms and saute for another 4 mins, or until tender. Add to noodles.
  • In the skillet heat the remaining oils and stir-fry the pea shoots until wilted and tender (5 mins). Add to noodle mixture.
  • Whisk together mayonnaise, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Pour over noodles and stir well. Serve at room temperature, or cooled.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Refreshing Lentil Salad

My friend Michelle had me over for lunch the other day and she served this amazing lentil salad with the Mediterranean Squares from this blog ~ what an amazing combination!!!  I have made lentil salads over the years and I loved this one so much that I demanded she email me the recipe ASAP!!  It is not only easy and contains items you will likely already have in your kitchen, but since it is a heartier legume salad, you can make it and then have some for lunch or dinner (or both!) over the next three days without it getting wilted or losing its flavour.

2 plum tomatoes seeded and diced
2 oranges peeled and cut into segments
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 (19oz) can of lentils, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)
3 tbsp coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl until well combined.
  • ENJOY!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Quick Mini-Pizzas (Wheat, Yeast, Sugar, Casein and Lactose Free!)

I was really hungry at around 11:00 today as I had my morning smoothie at 8am and the tummy was a'grumbling!!  I usually grab for the eggs and some veggies to saute as my breakfast, but today I decided to mix it up and made mini-pizzas! 
Admittedly, pizza is the food that I miss the most being wheat, yeast, casein and lactose,and refined sugar-free.  I have made a couple of versions of pizza that is within the confines of this rebalancing diet:  one that is wheat and yeast free, and one that is the same but using almond flour.  These are both really tasty and we've enjoyed them both, but they aren't quite like a chewy, doughy, cheesy deep dish pizza!! LOL! 
Not wanting abdominal pain, I just couldn't get the idea of pizza out of my head...these little pizzas soothed my craving and were delicious!!! 
Even if you aren't interested in revamping your entire diet like my family and I have, just replacing a few meals here and there with this would make a huge difference ~ try them out and see!!

1 Ezekiel English muffin, cut in half
3 tbsp homemade tomato sauce*
Handful of arugula leaves or baby spinach
Leftover chicken, shredded
Handful of shredded goat marble cheddar
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Place the English muffin halves cut side up on a small rimmed baking sheet.  Spread the tomato sauce evenly between the two.  Top with chicken, arugula leaves and cheese.
  • Place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted evenly.
  • Remove from oven and enjoy!  
*If you aren't using a homemade sauce, read the label closely as they invariably contain sugar (as well as tons of preservative...and some BPA from the can!)  I sweeten my homemade sauce (which also contains no-heat jalapenos and some onions) with pureed carrots!  Try it out!!*

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemongrass

I wanted to add a bit of an exotic flavour to my regular chicken noodle soup as the kids absolutely love it, but my palette was growing weary of the same old recipe.  Everyone loved it (although Devon told me that I am not allowed to stop making plain old chicken noodle soup! LOL!)  This reminds me of a Thai or Vietnamese-style soup (or pho as it is called in Vietnam)!  Hope you enjoy the medley of flavours while getting the goodness of homemade chicken soup!!!

2 1/2 tbsp coconut or grapeseed oil
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, butterflied*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed, outer layers discarded, halved lengthwise and bruised with the back of a chef's knife
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger (I use my rasp)
2 tsp packed light brown sugar (I used maple syrup)
5 1/2 cups homemade or low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups stemmed and quartered shiitake mushrooms
9 oz fresh udon noodles (these are made of wheat so substitute rice noodles if necessary)
1 small Serrano chili pepper finely diced
8 large fresh basil leaves, torn (either Thai or Italian basil)
1 lime, half juiced and half cut into wedges
1 tbsp soy sauce (or gluten free Bragg's)
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 carrot, grated (for garnish)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (garnish)
  • Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot, over medium high heat, until hot (the oil shimmers when ready).  Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper, and saute until both sides are evenly browned and almost entirely cooked through.  Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool.
  • Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pot with the shallots and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.  Reduce heat to medium and saute until they start to become translucent (approx. 2 minutes).  Add the bruised lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar and stir constantly until the ginger becomes fragrant and lemongrass sizzles (1 minute).  
  • Add chicken broth and scrape up any browned pieces off of the bottom of the pot.  Bring to a boil and them reduce to simmer.  Add the mushrooms and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a medium-sized pot of water a boil and cook the noodles until al dente (still a little undercooked in the centre).  Drain and run under cool water to stop the cooking process.  Leave to drain well.
  • Either finely sliver or shred the chicken breasts.  Add the chicken and noodles to the broth and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes.  Discard the lemongrass.  Stir in the chilies, basil, lime juice and soy sauce.
  • Portion between 4 large warmed soup bowls.  Garnish each with shredded carrot, green onions, and cilantro.  Serve with a lime wedge for squeezing.
  • ENJOY!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes (Gluten, Soy, Casein Free!!)

For a month I have been placed (willingly, I might add!) on a rebalancing diet which essentially means no wheat, cow's milk products, refined cane sugars, soy products, or yeasts.  This can be extremely tricky for the uninitiated - fortunately I have virtually been cooking this way for a year since my daughter India, and husband Greg, have also been on this diet and chosen to eat this way permanently because of how wonderful they felt afterwards.

I have my annual book club meeting tonight at the house of my girlfriend, Kathy (who is also on the same rebalancing diet!) and so, I decided to whip up these little treats for us to snack on!!!  They are really yummy and I obtained almost all of the ingredients at my local "Bulk Barn"!  The recipe comes from an amazing blog ~ gingerlemongirl which you should all check out!  As you can see from the photos, I made a dozen mini-cupcakes for the book club, and the others were for India and Devon as an after-school treat!!  This recipe will make a dozen regular sized cupcakes (there was one large and small cupcake that I didn't photograph as they are presently in my stomach!!!)

Cupcakes ~
1/3 cup brown rice flour 
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, slightly beaten

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cupcake cups and dust pan lightly with sweet rice flour.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Make a well in center of dry ingredients. Add milk, oil, vanilla, and beaten eggs. Whisk together until combined and pour into prepared cups.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Do not over bake as these can dry out quickly!!
  • Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.
 Frosting ~
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I used agave syrup)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 - 4 tbsp non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
Glaze ~
 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Callebaut chips)
1 tbsp oil (grapeseed, coconut, or olive)
3 - 4 tbsp water

  • In a large bowl mix peanut butter with powdered sugar. Add vanilla and non-dairy milk. You can add more or less milk to create the consistency you prefer.
  • Spread peanut butter icing over completely cooled cupcakes.
  • In another bowl melt chocolate chips and oil over a pot of simmering water, until melted. Whisk in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get a drizzling chocolate sauce consistency. Drizzle glaze over frosted cupcakes.
  • Serve immediately or chill.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Almond Flour Pizza Crust (Gluten, Casein, Grains and Yeast Free!!!)

I have joined India and Greg in a rebalancing diet which excludes casein, wheat, refined sugar and yeast - this is a little tricky when it comes to one of my favourite foods - pizza.  Stumped, I decided to surf the web and found this fantastic website by "Ginger Lemon Girl" After reading this recipe I immediately went out and purchased "Bob's Red Mill" almond meal/flour and decided to treat us all to homemade pizza.  It was not only super-easy to create, but has a great texture and taste!!! YAY!  Pizza is back in my diet!!!
2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
 1 tsp each; dried oregano, garlic powder and dried basil
3/4 cup pureed white beans (I used white kidney but cannellini or navy beans are also good!)
3 eggs
3 tbsp EVOO 

  • Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 12" round pizza pan or rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.  In a smaller bowl mix the last three ingredients.  Combine dry and wet ingredients.  The dough is wetter than the average pizza dough, but don't worry!
  • Using a spatula, gently spread the mixture over the pan to a thickness of 1/2" and place in the oven for 10 - 12 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
  • Add your choice of toppings and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes, or until you toppings are cooked through or melted.
  • ENJOY!!!!

Saag Paneer (Indian Spinach with Homemade Cheese)


 This is a classic Northern Indian dish that consists of spinach and fresh, unripened cheese made by curdling whole milk to separate the curds from the whey.  You can find it in many stores,
but as with most things, I find homemade best!

2 bunches spinach, trimmed
2 tbsp vegetable (or coconut) oil
3/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp finely grated fresh gingerroot
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (AKA coriander)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Pinch cinnamon
3 plum tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup Balkan-style yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garam masala
8 oz paneer, cubed
Saag Paneer!!!

  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch spinach until just wilted; drain.  Chill under cold water and drain again.  In a food processor, puree spinach with 1/4 cup water and set aside.
  • In a large deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat;  cook cumin seeds until slightly darkened (approx. 10 seconds).  Add onion and butter; saute until onion is golden (approx. 8 minutes).  
  • Reduce heat to medium; stir in garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute.  Stir in fresh cilantro, cayenne, turmeric, ground coriander, salt and cinnamon.  Saute, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds before adding tomatoes.  Stir until tomatoes break down (approx. 3 minutes).
  • Stir in pureed spinach; cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adding 1 to 2 tbsp water if mixture is getting too dry, until steaming hot (approx. 3 mins).
  • Stir in yogurt, lemon juice and garam masala; bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and add paneer.  Cover and cook until heated through (approx. 2 minutes)
  • Serve and ENJOY!
12 cups homogenized milk
1 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
  • In a large saucepan, bring milk to a boil; remove from heat.  Add lemon juice; stir until milk curdles and separates into spongy white chunks (curds) and greenish milky water (whey).  Stir in salt.
  • Pour into a double cheesecloth-lined stainer set over bowl.  Let stand until most of the liquid has drained off.  Fold cheesecloth over top; weigh down with a plate and full 28oz can.  Refrigerate for 8 hrs or up to 24 hrs.
  • Remove cheesecloth and use!
*I substituted goat's milk yogurt - it is thicker and my family who is lactose intolerant can eat it!  I also omitted the butter and used coconut milk for the saag recipe...the paneer recipe I followed to a "T".

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Easy Spanakopita

I tried looking this recipe up on my blog and was shocked that I hadn't posted it before now?!  During the spring when baby spinach is in season and is plentiful in our CSA boxes, I make this recipe a lot!  It's fast, easy and delicious.  Serve on its own, with a salad or as a side dish - you'll be amazed at how easy and economical it is!

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1lb baby spinach
1 large egg
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
10 sheets phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Preheat oven to 350F.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and saute for approx. 8 minutes, or until softened.  Add garlic and saute, stirring constantly to prevent burning and sticking, for 1 minute.  Gradually add the spinach leaves and saute, stirring often, until wilted.  Transfer to a medium sized bowl and stir in egg, feta, herbs, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  • Lay 1 sheet phyllo on parchment lined rimmed baking sheet (cover remaining phyllo sheets with a damp teacloth as they will dry out really quickly!), and brush all over with the melted butter.  Repeat twice.  Spread spinach mixture in the centre and gently spread to within 1 1/2" of the edge of the pastry.  Top with 3 more buttered sheets.  Fold in sides to seal the spinach mixture in the pastry sheets.  Butter remaining 4 sheets and crumple gently like tissue paper, on top. 
  • Place in oven and bake until a golden brown (approx. 40 minutes)
  • ENJOY!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Braised Sausage with Grapes and Balsamic-Glazed Onions

We all love sausages and I was intrigued by this recipe that I found in Fine Cooking magazine as it uses red grapes.  Unfortunately the package that I had in the fridge had only 5 sausages in it and the recipe called for 8, but it didn't matter!  Pair with garlic mashed potatoes, a salad or kale chips!!!

2 tbsp olive oil
8 links of sweet Italian sausage, pricked with a fork
1 lrg yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
20 seedless red grapes, halved lengthwise
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • In a large 12" skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the sausages and cook, turning every few minutes until they are browned all over (approx. 8 minutes).  Transfer to a large plate.
  • Add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and the onion to the skillet with the salt, and saute until the onion softens completely and starts to turn light brown.  Add the chicken broth and balsamic vinegar and scrape the bottom of the skillet  to incorporate any browned bits.
  • Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.  Add the sausages and grapes, cover the skillet with the lid ajar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sausages are cooked through (approx. 25 mins or cut one to check)
  • Serve sprinkled with oregano and ENJOY!  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Better Than Take-Out Lemon Chicken!

In a quest to find something fast, easy and tasty to create for our busy Thursday nights, I found this recipe in amongst my pile of recipes torn from magazines.  Served with basmati rice and steamed broccoli, it makes a complete and VERY tasty meal!!!
  1 1/2 pounds chicken breast or chicken tenders, cut into chunks
1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour*
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Pinch ground ginger
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
8 ounces (1 cup) prepared lemon curd**
1/4 cup hot water
1 lemon, zested
2 green onions, thinly sliced

  • Coat the chicken cubes lightly in flour, seasoned with a little salt, the garlic powder and ginger. 
  • Heat a large skillet or a wok-shaped nonstick pan over high heat. Stir fry chicken until golden in the oils for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and return pan to heat. Reduce heat to medium.
  • Add a splash of vinegar to the pan and let it evaporate. Add stock or broth to the pan and scrape up any drippings with a whisk. 
  • Thin curd by stirring in a little hot water. Add curd to broth and whisk to combine. 
  • Add chicken back to the pan and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to thicken sauce and finish cooking chicken pieces through. 
  • Remove the pan from heat, add the green onions and zest, and toss chicken pieces well to combine zest and green onions evenly throughout the sauce. 

*Since we don't eat wheat flour, I dusted the chicken in brown rice flour which made them really crispy!
**Lemon curd can be found in the jam and jelly aisle in your local grocery store.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    South Indian-Style Vegetable Curry

    This easy one-pot meal is perfect for using up any of those random vegetables in your crisper!  There are many ingredients, but don't let that deter you - the complex flavours created from using these spices and vegetables is delicious!!

    2 tbsp coconut oil, or olive oil
    1 large yellow onion, finely diced
    4 medium cloves garlic, minced
    1-2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
    1 tbsp ground coriander
    1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    3/4 tsp ground turmeric
    1/2 tsp cayenne
    1 tbsp tomato paste
    2 cups vegetable broth
    1 cup light coconut milk
    1-3" cinnamon stick
    Sea salt and black pepper
    1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
    1lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1" cubes
    2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
    2 lrg carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" thick rounds
    1can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    4 lightly packed cups of fresh baby spinach
    2 tbsp fresh lime juice
    1 tsp finely grated lime zest
    2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
    • In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until beginning to brown (2 to 4 minutes).  Reduce heat to medium and cook until the onion is richly browned (5 to 7 minutes more).  Add the garlic and ginger; cook stirring for 1 minute.
    • Add coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne; stir for 30 seconds to toast the spices.  Add the tomato paste and stir until well blended with the spices.
    • Add the broth, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
    • Add the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.  Discard the cinnamon stick.
    • Stir in the chickpeas, spinach, lime juice, and zest;  cook until the spinach has wilted (about 3 minutes).
    • Serve garnished with the cilantro and ENJOY!