Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Homemade Bread

Hhomemade bread. These 2 little words tend to inspire two reactions in people: 1. The smell of it baking in the oven is almost as good as eating it hot with melted butter. And 2. Fear. People think that making bread is labour intensive and takes all day and is really hard. I'm here to tell you to have no fear for I have a fail-proof recipe which will give you delicious fresh bread in 1 hour. No mixer required. 4 ingredients. Honest. Oh, and it's delicious.
The trick to bread is all in the kneading. Which can take some practice. Kneading is what activates the gluten which gives bread its texture. If you don't knead it enough, your bread is going to be tough and brickish. When I was a girl, my mom taught me to make bread.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Toddler Muffins

Hi Friends!
I know it's been about a year and a half since I posted a recipe but I've had a busy life since my last post - I had a baby! She's almost a year old now and I was making some muffins for her this morning and thought I would share the recipe with you. I wanted to make her some muffins that were healthy but delicious and not too much work on my part. The basis was my mom's banana muffin recipe with a whole bunch of tweaks, additions and deletions. They are delicious. I am going to make another batch for me for breakfasts. They are sweet because of the fruit but only have 1/2 cup added sugar. I used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil to make them a bit healthier and added oats for fibre and iron. I used regular all purpose flour but you could substitute in half a cup of whole wheat flour if you wanted. I hope you like them!

Toddler Muffins
Prep: 15 minutes | Bake: 15-18 minutes | Yield: 1 dozen

1 very ripe banana, mashed
Unsweetened applesauce (approx. 2/3 cup)
6 TBSP coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/2 cup lightly packed golden sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1/4 cup grated carot
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup quick oats
sprinkle cinnamon

1. Put banana in a one cup measuring cup. Add enough applesauce to make 1 cup. Stir
2. Mix together coconut oil and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Add egg and vanilla and stir well. Add in banana/applesauce mixture and carrots and stir well. Set aside
3. In a separate bowl, mix together salt, flour, baking soda, baking powder, oats and cinnamon
4.Mix dry ingredients into wet and stir gently until just moistened. Do not overmix!
5. Spoon into lined muffin tins and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes. SHould be golden brown on top when done.

 These muffins freeze well, or stay fresh stored in a freezer zip-top bag for 4 days max.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Gluten Free Peanut Chicken Pizza

I made this last night for dinner at it was Amazing!! It was inspired by the flavours of  rice wraps with peanut sauce (which include pork or chicken, rice noodles, shredded carrots, green onion, bean sprouts, lettuce, mint, cilantro and peanut sauce wrapped in rice paper wrappers. These are also really, really delicious). The sauce is also nightshade free (no peppers of any kind) and uses gluten free soy sauce.
The crust is from a gluten free pizza mix (the brand is Duinkerken and I found it at Walmart) that is very good. It does not taste like regular pizza crust, but it is a perfectly acceptable substitute with a great texture and flavour (tip: if there is leftover pizza, be sure to heat it up before you eat it as the crust is not good cold. The nice thing though is that the crust will not get tough if you heat it up in the microwave as there is no gluten). I modified the instructions on the box a bit as I have used it before and found that it needs to be pre-baked before sauce is put on. Also, I only have traditional baking yeast, not quick rising yeast, so I had to prepare it a bit differently. I will include instructions for both below. The first 5 ingredients and most of the instructions for making the dough are taken directly from the box.
You make think that carrots on pizza is really weird, but it totally fits with the overall flavour and gives some nice texture on the slice. I have cilantro listed as an optional ingredient, but only use if you like it. I don't like it myself, but I do know the flavour works well with all the other flavours.
It does take some time to prepare, but it is worth it!

Gluten Free Peanut Chicken Pizza
Prep: 45 minutes | Bake: 20-22 minutes at 425 | Makes: 2, 12-inch thin crust pizzas

1 box gluten free crust mix (Duinkerken brand)
2 1/2 tsp quick rising yeast (or traditional baking yeast)
2 TBSP canola oil
1 cup warm water
2 eggs

3-4 TBSP smooth peanut butter
5 TBSP gluten free soy sauce
1 TBSP ground ginger
pinch cumin
2 pinches cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 TBSP maple syrup (or honey)
1 tsp lime juice
2 cloves minced garlic

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks
3 green onions, sliced thin
300g mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

1.  Crust: follow the instructions for the dough on the box. It helps to beat the eggs first and mix them with the oil before you add them to the mix. Your fingers will need to be really well oiled or the dough will stick. It takes a bit of effort to press the dough onto the pan, and you will need to oil your fingers regularly and it may not look like it will fit on the pan, but it will, I promise. If you do not have quick rising yeast, use traditional yeast but mix it with the water and 1 TBSP white sugar. Let it proof for at least 5 minutes, then add it to the mix with the eggs and the oil. Pre-bake the crust for 8 minutes
2. Sauce: put the peanut butter in a medium size microwave safe bowl. Add the soy sauce. Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave to help the peanut butter blend better. Add remaining ingredients and mix with a fork until smooth
3.  Cook the chicken breasts in a bit of oil until golden on both sides and cooked through. Cube into small pieces and set aside
4. Divide sauce between 2 pre-baked crusts and spread. It will be just a thin layer of sauce but it packs a big flavour. Top with chicken, carrots and green onions then shredded mozzarella
5. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden around the edges and cheese is melted. If using cilantro, sprinkle it on the top after it comes out of the oven.

This is the pizza crust mix

Finished Product

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Gluten-Free, Nightshade-Free 3 Cheese Sausage Lasagne

I know, I know it's been about 3 months since my last post. Life has been really busy (when is it not?) but that is no excuse.
In January, my husband and I decided to do a 60-day gluten-free trial to see if it would help him feel better (both his mother and his sister are gluten intolerant, so it's likely he is too). Lo and behold, he feels better! After many experiments in the gluten-free realm, I feel pretty confident in cooking gluten free (I've done some baking experiments too, and they have turned out relatively well, though I still need some practice).
Nightshade free, on the other hand, has been a little more difficult. What are nightshades, you ask? They are a family of flowering plants that include tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers of all kinds (including bell peppers, chilies, paprika, chili powder, etc), eggplant and potatoes (though potatoes don't seem to bother my husband - we think it's because they are the root and not the fruit). Here's a link to what Wikipedia has to say about them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightshade. Trying to find food that does not contain nightshades is very hard. Lots of things have "spice" on the label, which can often contain peppers of some sort (usually paprika or red bell pepper) so we can never be certain. Cooking from scratch is just the best way to go, because then I know what is going into the food.

This lasagne has 3 cheeses (ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella) and a creamy sauce. I used brown rice lasagne noodles (no need to pre-cook) and sweet rice flour as a thickener for the sauce (instead of corn starch - sweet rice flour won't make it goopy the next day like corn starch does). You needs lots of sauce to cook the rice noodles properly. I used mild Italian sausage meat (or you could buy Italian sausages and remove the casings if you can't find the meat on its own); the only thing I'm concerned about is that is has "spice" as an ingredient, so it may not be 100% nightshade free. You could use any kind of ground meat to be certain or if you don't eat pork for whatever reason. 

Gluten-Free, Nightshade-Free 3 Cheese Sausage Lasagne
Prep: 30-45 minutes | Cook: 45 minutes | Yield: one 9x13 pan (about 6 large servings)

1 package mild Italian sausage meat (or other ground meat) - about 1 pound
3 large cloves garlic, minced (I used my garlic press)
2 TBSP butter
3 cups 1% milk
4 TBSP sweet rice flour
1 large shallot, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp each salt and pepper
300g ricotta cheese (this is a standard container size)
2 TBSP shredded parmesan cheese
1 TBSP Johnny's Garlic Seasoning
10 gluten-free brown rice lasagne noodles
250g grated mozzarella
vegetable oil spray

1. Cook the sausage in a large pan over medium-high, breaking it up as you cook it. When the meat is mostly cooked, add the garlic and cook until the meat is no longer pink and is cooked through. Remove the meat to a separate bowl, leaving the cooking grease in the pan.
2. Return the pan to the stove and reduce the heat to low. Add the butter and melt. Once the butter is melted, add the shallot and cook for about 1 minute.
3. While the butter is melting, mix the sweet rice flour with the milk. Mix well to avoid lumps. Once the shallot is cooked, add the milk to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens. This could take up to 15 minutes - be patient! Once the sauce is thick, add the meat back to the sauce and stir to incorporate fully. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
4. Mix the ricotta cheese with the parmesan and the Johnny's Garlic. Set aside.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the pan with vegetable oil. Spread just over half the sauce evenly on the bottom of the pan. Place 4 rice noodles across the width of the sauce (side-by-side, not overlapping) and then place 1 noodle across the end of the pan (you may need to break it to make it fit).
6. Top the noodles with the ricotta mixture and spread evenly. Add a second layer of noodles (same as before and top with the rest of the sauce. Make sure the noodles are completely covered. Cover with the grated mozzarella.
7. Cover with tinfoil and cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the tinfoil and return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Rice Pilaf with Pork

I have never made rice pilaf before. I was never the biggest rice fan but I am learning to be more open to things. I had some instant brown rice in my pantry and wanted to try something new (instant brown rice isn't really "instant" like white rice is, but it only takes about 10 minutes to cook as opposed to 40 minutes. What makes it instant is that it is already partially cooked, then dried. Plus, it's way easier to cook and you don't have to worry about wrecking it by lifting the lid).
I made this with pork stir fry strips, but you could easily substitute chicken or turkey if you wanted.
This recipe looks simple but it is hearty and full of flavour. I served it with a side of steamed garlic zucchini.

Rice Pilaf with Pork
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4

1 package pork stir fry strips (about 500g)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups chicken broth1/4 tsp each dried parsley and paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups instant brown rice
1 TBSP fresh oregano

1. Cut stir fry strips into small pieces. In a large, deep pan, cook pork in the olive oil over medium heat stirring frequently until fully cooked, about 6 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
2. Cook the onion in the same pan that you cooked the pork in. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
3.  Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add rice, all spices (except the fresh oregano) and salt and pepper and stir until completely mixed. Top with cooked pork. Turn heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 5 minutes
4. Remove from heat. Stir in fresh oregano. Cover again and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir and serve.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Quick Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

This post is really hard for me to write. I learned yesterday that a colleague was killed in a car accident while she was on vacation overseas. She and I used to talk about food all the time and she loved reading my blog. I shared this recipe with her several years ago and it was her favourite. Every time she made it she would thank me for giving her the recipe and exclaim how good it was. So, Catherine, this post is for you.
My favourite kind of sausage to use in this is Capital brand turkey sausage,  but any kind of ready-to-eat sausage would work (kielbasa is yummy.)

Quick Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes | Yield: lots

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 TBSP olive oil
1 ring turkey or ham sausage, sliced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 each green, red and yellow peppers, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced stewed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
5-6 heaping handfuls instant brown rice (or more, if you like)
2 pinches ground sage
2 pinches dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 good shakes Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, onion and sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally
2. When the chicken is halfway cooked, add the peppers, garlic and all the spices. Cook, stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked through.
3. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, broth and rice. Stir until incorporated. Cook until the rice is done and most of the liquid is gone, about 15 minutes.   

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Quinoa Stirfry with Chicken Thighs

This is what I made for dinner tonight and the hubby declared that it was his favourite quinoa dish I've made. Quinoa is so easy to make and I love that it's a complete protein. Plus, it's gluten free!This recipe uses broccoli slaw, which is a pre-made slaw mix of shredded broccoli, carrots and cabbage - it gives the stirfry a satisfying crunch and it's full of all sorts of good vitamins.

Quinoa Stirfry with Chicken Thighs
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 20 mins | Serves 4-6

1 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 chicken bouillon cube
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 TBSP olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 green onions, diced
3/4 cup broccoli slaw
1/8 tsp each cumin, ginger powder and paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 TBSP soy sauce

1. Rinse the quinoa cold water. Put in a small saucepan and cover with 1 cup water. Crumble the bouillon cube into the water and stir. Cover and put over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Resist the urge to lift the lid to check on it. Check after 15 minutes - you will know it is done because the grains will be translucent and all of the water will be absorbed. If it is not quite done, cook for 5 minutes more. Fluff with a fork and let sit about 5 minutes
2. While the quinoa is cooking, cook the chicken. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Cook the chicken over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, turning several times. You want it to get crispy on the outside but be careful not to burn it. The chicken should be no longer pin in the middle and the juices will run clear when you cut into it.
3. When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a cutting board. Add the onion to the pan and give it a quick stir. Cut the chicken into small pieces. Once the onion had been cooking for about 5 minutes, return the chicken to the pan. Add the green onions and stir. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli slaw, the lemon juice, the soy sauce and all the spices. Stir and cook for about 3 more minutes. Add the quinoa and stir. That's it!