23 09, 2015

Fennel & Tomato Chicken

By |September 23rd, 2015|chicken, gluten-free, grain-free, recipe, tomato|0 Comments|

We’ve been enjoying the most beautiful produce in our CSA from Simpler Thyme Organic Farm this summer and this past week was no exception.

When I saw the HUGE amount of stalks and fronds on the bunch of fennel in our bag, I knew I had to find something to do with it.

Fennel fronds

The fennel was so huge, I couldn’t fit the bulbs into the pic. 🙂

So, I ‘Googled’ fennel fronds and found lots of recipes, but most of them were for salads and I really wanted to make a dinner out of this lovely vegetable. So, I decided to wing it and went to the grocery store to get some organic protein to go along with it. I ended up buying some chicken drumsticks and some organic canned tomatoes. I generally don’t buy tomatoes in a can because of the BPA, but since I had such a short amount of time in which to whip this dinner up I just went with organic and compromised this time.

Here’s what I did…

 

shallots

I sautéed 2 large shallots in coconut oil until golden.

 

Then I added the chopped fennel stalks and fronds (saving the bulbs for a salad later).

 

I cooked them until softened and then deglazed with 1/2 cup dry white wine.

 

I reduced the wine until the pan was almost dry and then added a large can of organic, chopped tomatoes.

 

Then I nestled the chicken into the sauce and covered the pan and allowed it to cook for about 25 minutes on medium-low.

 

I added 1/2 cup of chopped Kalamata olives and cooked for another couple of minutes with the pan uncovered.

I served it atop smashed organic potatoes (also from the farm).

I served it atop smashed organic potatoes (also from the farm).

 

This recipe is definitely a keeper. We all really enjoyed it and I was happy that although the fennel flavour was still there, it was quite subtle.

Chicken with Fennel and Tomato

  • 2 large shallots
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Fennel stalks and fronds (I used about 4 cups)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 large can organic chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped Kalamata olives

 

  1. Sauté shallots in coconut oil at medium-high heat until golden.
  2. Add chopped fennel stalks and fronds (save bulbs for another use).
  3. Continue to cook until softened.
  4. Add wine and reduce until it’s almost gone.
  5. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, then nestle chicken into sauce.
  6. Cover pan and cook for about 25 minutes.
  7. Remove lid, add olives and cook for another few minutes.
  8. Serve as desired (I served atop smashed potatoes).
22 06, 2015

Stinging Nettle Gnocchi

By |June 22nd, 2015|pasta|0 Comments|

Last week I ordered some stinging nettles in my CSA box from Simpler Thyme Organic Farm. I had decided I was going to try one of Chef Frank Giglio’s recipes and decided upon this one.

We eat pasta very rarely, perhaps once or twice a year so this was a big treat for us. I knew I wanted to make it gluten-free, so I decided to go with a mix of sorghum flour and buckwheat flour (3/4 cup of each plus more for sprinkling). I also knew I didn’t want it all to be regular potato, so I used a mix of russets and sweet potatoes. I think I used just a little over 2lbs in total. This made enough for a side dish for the three of us and a full baking sheet to freeze for later (at least 2-3 more meals worth).

I served this on the side with some organic Rainbow trout fillets (baked at 350F for 13 minutes) and it truly was a delicious meal.

Here’s what I did…

 

I steamed approximately 2 pounds of russet potatoes and sweet potatoes. It's always a good idea to use organic if possible.

I steamed approximately 2 pounds (in total) of russet potatoes and sweet potatoes. It’s always a good idea to use organic if possible.

 

I mashed them and added a couple of teaspoons of Himalayan salt.

I mashed them and added a couple of teaspoons of Himalayan salt.

 

Meanwhile, I picked the leaves (discarded stems) and washed about 6 ounces of stinging nettles.

Meanwhile, I picked the leaves (discarded stems) and washed about 6 ounces of stinging nettles.

 

I blanched the nettles in a pot of simmering, salted water for about a minute and then shocked them in cold water.

I blanched the nettles in a pot of simmering, salted water for about a minute and then shocked them in cold water.

 

Then I drained them well and put them into the Vitamix. As you can see, they shrunk a LOT after being blanched.

Then I drained them well and put them into the Vitamix. As you can see, they shrunk a LOT after being blanched. Because I knew this tiny amount wouldn’t be caught by the blades, I added about 1/2 a cup of the potato mixture before blending.

 

I removed the mixture from the vitamix and added it to the mashed potatoes in the bowl.

I removed the mixture from the Vitamix and added it to the mashed potatoes in the bowl.

 

I added a lovely farm fresh egg and gave it a quick mix.

I added a lovely farm fresh egg and gave it a quick mix.

 

Then I added about 3/4 cup sorghum flour and 3/4 cup buckwheat flour.

Then I added about 3/4 cup sorghum flour and 3/4 cup buckwheat flour.

 

This is the sorghum flour I used.

This is the sorghum flour I used.

And this is the buckwheat flour. I usually make my own in the Vitamix but had this in my pantry.

And this is the buckwheat flour. I usually make my own in the Vitamix but had this in my pantry.

 

Then I mixed it all together and kneaded the dough for about 3 or 4 minutes, sprinkling with a little more flour when needed.

Then I mixed it all together and kneaded the dough for about 3 or 4 minutes, sprinkling with a little more flour when needed.

 

I broke off pieces (about 1/2 cup at a time) and rolled them into long ropes.

I broke off pieces (about 1/2 cup at a time) and rolled them into long ropes, on a lightly floured surface.

 

Then I cut them into approximately 3/4 inch lengths and placed onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Then I cut them into approximately 3/4 inch lengths and placed onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. I kept enough aside for dinner and froze the rest. Once frozen, I put them into a freezer bag.

 

To serve the gnocchi, I brought a large pot of salted water to a boil, then allowed it to simmer. I dropped the gnocchi into the pot one by one and after they started to float, I gave them about another minute and then drained them. I sautéed them for about 2 minutes in a pan of sizzling butter and served alongside the trout. YUM.

To serve the gnocchi, I brought a large pot of salted water to a boil, then allowed it to simmer. I dropped the gnocchi into the pot one by one and after they started to float, I gave them about another minute and then drained them. I sautéed them for about 2 minutes in a pan of sizzling butter and served alongside the trout. YUM.

 

Stinging Nettle Gnocchi

 

2 pounds of potatoes (sweet and russet), peeled and chopped

6 ounces stinging nettles, washed and stems discarded

2 teaspoons Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt

1 farm fresh, organic egg (from a happy hen)

¾ cup sorghum flour (plus more for sprinkling)

¾ cup buckwheat flour

 

Steam and mash potatoes and place in a large bowl (I mashed them right in the bowl).

Blanch nettles in a large pot of salted water for about a minute and then shock with cold water. Drain well and make into a paste in either a food processor or blender.

Add to bowl of potatoes along with salt and egg.

Mix well and then add flour. Knead for a few minutes.

Using about ½ cup mixture at a time, roll into a rope on a lightly floured surface and cut into pieces about ¾ inch in size. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze any you aren’t using right away.

To cook, add gnocchi to a large pan of lightly boiling (a little more than a simmer) salted water. After they float, let them cook for another minute or so.

Remove with a slotted spoon. And place into a pan of sizzling butter. Cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Serve.

These of course can also be served as a main dish in any number of pasta sauces, such as tomato sauce,marinara, Bolognese, vodka sauce, etc… The possibilities are almost endless.

 

7 02, 2015

Christmas Sausages

By |February 7th, 2015|christmas, gluten-free, grain-free, pork, recipe, sausages, turkey|1 Comment|

I’ve had my sausage maker/meat grinder for about 10 years.  I’ve probably used it about 10 times in those years.  I really did plan to use it often when I asked for it for Christmas, but for some reason it always seems like a big undertaking and I only end up dragging it out when I’ve done careful planning.  It usually starts with Perry saying “we really need to make sausages” and then we think of all the interesting different kinds we can make and then about 6 months to a year later, we actually do something about it.  Ridiculous, I know!

So when the Christmas holidays were upon us and we knew Perry would have over two weeks off, we decided that this time we really WERE going to make sausages.  We hadn’t decided what kind we would make and then Christmas came and went and I figured it probably wasn’t going to happen yet again.  Then a few days after Christmas I was shopping in one of our neighbourhood grocery stores and noticed they had a sale on organic turkeys.  I checked them out and could hardly believe that there was an 18 pound turkey there for less than $18.  I couldn’t pass it up, so I bought it and took it home.  My first thought was that since we hadn’t had turkey for Christmas this year, maybe I’d roast it with all the trimmings and we’d have a post-Christmas Christmas dinner.  Then I thought about all the leftovers and where the heck we’d put them all and then how we always end up wasting food and I decided to do something different.

Since I had learned the handy skill of breaking down turkeys in the community learning kitchen at Eden Community Food Bank where I volunteer a couple of days a week, I thought it would be a good idea to use the different parts of the turkey for a few different meals.

So, Perry and I gave it some thought and came up with the idea of making sausages that taste like Christmas dinner.  My mum makes the most amazing and delicious chestnut stuffing/dressing, so of course they had to be included.  We always use fresh sage with our turkey, so that had to go in to the mix and there’s no way we could leave out onions as they not only add flavour but lots of moisture.

We ended up spending about 4 and a half hours in the kitchen that afternoon (see, it IS a big undertaking), but we were very happy with the results.  For about $20 or so (including the other ingredients), we ended up with lots of fresh sausages and enough leftover pieces and carcass to make more than 12 meals for the 3 of us.

So, here’s what we did…

 

First of all, I broke down the turkey, setting aside the thighs, wings and drumsticks for jerk turkey which made 3 meals for us. And I put the carcass into the oven to roast with some onions to make soup stock.

First of all, I broke down the turkey, setting aside the thighs, wings and drumsticks for jerk turkey which made 3 meals for us. And I put the carcass into the oven to roast with some onions to make soup stock (making a HUGE stock potful and resulting in LOTS of turkey and vegetable soup).

 

 

Sauteed a large spanish onion in schmaltz

Sauteed a large spanish onion in schmaltz

 

Minced about 1/2 cup fresh sage

Minced about 1/2 cup fresh sage

 

And minced a full bag of organic chestnuts

And minced a full bag of organic chestnuts

 

And coarsely chopped both breasts of the turkey (skinned)

And coarsely chopped both breasts of the turkey (skinned)

 

And chopped about 250g organic pork fat

And chopped about 250g organic pork fat

 

Mixed together the chestnuts, sage, onion and some Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mixed together the chestnuts, sage, onion and some Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

And added the turkey and fat to the rest of the mixture

And added the turkey and fat to the rest of the mixture, then placed it in the bowl above the feeder tube of the grinder

This is the grinder I use

This is the grinder I use

 

Then we put on one of the coarser grinding plates and started to grind the mixture

Then we put on one of the coarser grinding plates and started to grind the mixture

 

Once we had ground it twice, we removed the grinding plate and got the pork casing ready.  We washed it thoroughly as it's stored in salt.  Then we oiled the sausage attachment and fed on a casing after tying it at the end.  It's also important to prick it all over with a needle so that you don't get air bubbles in the sausages.

Once we had ground it twice, we removed the grinding plate and got the pork casing ready. We washed it thoroughly as it’s stored in salt. Then we oiled the sausage attachment and fed on a casing after tying it at the end. It’s also important to prick it all over with a needle so that you don’t get air bubbles in the sausages.

 

It took two of us as one needs to feed the mixture through the machine and the other needs to hold the casing and twist it every once in a while to make sausage lengths. It took us a few minutes to get the hang of it since it had been a while, but we got it :)

It took two of us as one needs to feed the mixture through the machine and the other needs to hold the casing and twist it every once in a while to make sausage lengths. It took us a few minutes to get the hang of it since it had been a while, but we got it 🙂

 

The resulting sausages were so tasty and juicy. Next time I think we'd add even more chestnuts as that flavour kind of got lost in the mix.

The resulting sausages were so tasty and juicy. Next time I think we’d add even more chestnuts as that flavour kind of got lost in the mix.

 

We had them again last night, but this time with my recently made sauerkraut.  This was my first time making it and we were so happy with the result.  I'll have to become a bit more of an expert before posting about that :)

We had them again last night, but this time with my recently made sauerkraut. This was my first time making it and we were so happy with the result. I’ll have to become a bit more of an expert before posting about that 🙂

10 01, 2015

Little Life Box

By |January 10th, 2015|chocolate, health, Smoothie, Tea, wellness|0 Comments|

I can’t remember where I first heard about Little Life Box but I thought it sounded like an amazing idea and was so excited to give it a try.

Basically, it’s a monthly service where you receive a box filled with samples of healthful foods, natural products, etc… It’s $19.99 per month, or you can sign up for a prepaid subscription which saves you a little bit per month.  I opted for the 3 month prepaid subscription and figured I’d reevaluate when I’ve received the 3 boxes.

My first box came in the mail a couple of days ago and I was so excited to find out what was inside.

Here’s what it looked like when I first opened the lid…

 

IMG_9311

So shiny and pretty 🙂

My first look at the products

My first look at the products

Everything that was included.

Everything that was included.

So, as you can see there were quite a few products, some of them were full-sized (organic roasted coconut tea, white quinoa, chocolate bar and channa masala) and the rest were samples.  Just doing a rough estimate, I’d say the products included were worth more than $30.  This makes the box very worthwhile in my opinion as I feel like I got my money’s worth but I also get to try a few products that are new to me.

I’m looking forward to trying the roasted coconut tea.  I don’t think I’ve ever tasted coconut tea!  I’m also interested to try the protein powder as I’ve never had a chai flavoured smoothie.  I usually only use coconut oil to remove my makeup, but I’m willing to give the makeup remover a try.  The quinoa and vegetables soup mix doesn’t really appeal to me that much, but I think it might be nice to bulk up a bowl of bone broth on a cold day.  I’ve had the snap pea crisps a few times and I already use hemp seeds all the time.  The chocolate bar will definitely not go to waste 🙂

All in all, I’m very happy with this month’s Little Life Box and I’m looking forward to seeing what next month’s box contains.

19 12, 2014

Fire Cider

By |December 19th, 2014|health, tincture, wellness|0 Comments|

I was listening to a podcast recently where they talked a lot about “fire cider”.  I was intrigued, so I decided to watch this YouTube video demonstrating the way it’s made.

I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea and went out immediately to buy the ingredients.  Basically, it’s a mixture of garlic, ginger, horseradish, onion, cayenne and apple cider vinegar.

Once this mixture has steeped for a month or so, it’s strained out and the tincture is mixed with raw honey.  This is something to sip all winter to ward off colds and flu or can be taken if you feel something coming on.

I put all the ingredients together about 6 weeks ago and just ‘decanted’ it 2 days ago.  I think it tastes great!  It’s very garlicky and pungent and just tastes like wellness in a jar 🙂  My dad was coughing two days ago, so I gave him one jar and kept one for us.  I see this being consumed pretty quickly, so I plan to make a bigger batch in the next couple of days.

Here’s what I did…

I chopped 1/2 cup ginger and 1 cup each of garlic, onion and horseradish.

I chopped 1/2 cup ginger, 1 cup each of garlic and onion and 1 1/2 cups of horseradish.

I didn't bother to peel the ginger as it was organic.

I didn’t bother to peel the ginger as it was organic.

This is the container I used.

This is the container I used.

First I put the ginger and garlic in the jar.

First I put the garlic in the jar.

Then I added the horseradish.

Then I added the horseradish.

I put the onion on top.

Then I added the onion.

Then I put the ginger on top of everything.

And I put the ginger on top of everything. As you can see, the jar was pretty full.

This is the vinegar I used.

This is the vinegar I used.

I filled it with apple cider vinegar to cover.

I filled it with apple cider vinegar to cover.

And I put a half teaspoon of cayenne on top.

And I put a half teaspoon of cayenne on top.

I gave it a bit of a stir to distribute the cayenne.

I gave it a bit of a stir to distribute the cayenne. Then I put it into a dark cupboard to start its magic.

After 6 weeks, I strained out the solids and mixed the tincture with a couple of tablespoons of this raw honey.

After 6 weeks, I strained out the solids and mixed the tincture with a couple of tablespoons of this raw honey.

Then I poured it into two re-purposed mustard jars.

Then I poured it into two re-purposed mustard jars.

I think it’s great as it is, however next time I may use a couple of chili peppers instead of the cayenne for an extra ‘kick’.

1 11, 2014

Beef Liver Curry

By |November 1st, 2014|Beef, Curry, gluten-free, Liver, meat|2 Comments|

I grew up eating liver.  My mum made liver and onions fairly often, probably once a month or so ever since I was little.  I always enjoyed it and never thought once of turning my nose up at it.  I didn’t know kids weren’t supposed to like liver.

Time went on, I met and married Perry and since he also liked liver, I cooked it once in a while and we both enjoyed it.

Fast forward to Krestan being born and me being a far too indulgent mom who only cooked him what he wanted to eat.  Liver wasn’t one of the things he wanted, so I basically stopped cooking it.  I don’t think I realised I’d pretty much removed it from our diets, but that’s what happened.  Occasionally we’d go out for lunch and Perry would order it and I’d think that I really had to make it again soon.  For some reason, that didn’t really happen and we probably ate liver a handful of times over the following 10 years or so.

When Krestan was about 6 or 7 years old, I started to become interested in nutrition and Perry being the person he is (thirsty for knowledge no matter what the subject) also became interested.  We started out trying things like quinoa (in 2001 I think), unhulled grains and such.  Then ventured into more interesting and obscure things such as lucuma, goji berries, raw cacao and the list goes on.  A few years ago we decided to start ordering frozen meat from a local farm where the cows are grass-fed and grass-finished and one of the items available for sale was beef liver.  We included a few pounds of liver in our order and were really excited about trying it.  I cooked it the first time and although it wasn’t terrible, I really didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d remembered.  I figured that time was a fluke and made it again a couple of months later.  Again, I didn’t dislike it, but I also didn’t love it.  This was very frustrating for me because by then I’d learned how incredibly nutritious offal is, especially when it comes from healthy, pastured animals.  Perry still loved it, but I think I’d just become a bit squeamish.  Over the last few years, I’ve made it a few times but really just ate it because I knew it was good for me, not because I was craving the taste.

Last week I decided to do something about this new-found aversion to liver.  I gave it some thought and it made sense to me that since my favourite cuisine is Indian, perhaps I could combine that with liver and come up with something I’d enjoy a lot more.  I searched online and came up with this recipe which sounded like exactly what I was looking for.  I made it for dinner and much to my delight I absolutely loved it.  I changed a few things and changed the quantities of most of the ingredients.  I opted not to boil the liver cubes first as I figured that might leach out some of the nutrients.

Here’s what I did…

 

I coarsely chopped 2 large onions and sautéed in virgin coconut oil with 1 tsp. of garam masala.

I coarsely chopped 2 large onions and sautéed in virgin coconut oil with 1 tsp. of garam masala.

 

I chopped 5 cloves of garlic and a 3" piece of ginger. I measured out 5 cloves, 1 tbsp. cumin seeds a cinnamon stick and 1 bay leaf.

I chopped 5 cloves of garlic and a 3″ piece of ginger. I measured out 5 cloves, 1 tbsp. cumin seeds a cinnamon stick and 1 bay leaf.

 

I added this to the pan with the onions.

I added this to the pan with the onions.

 

 

 

And then decided to add 4 green cardamom pods.

And then decided to add 5 green cardamom pods.

 

I stirred it and added 1/2 cup of water, continuing to cook over medium heat.

I stirred it and added 1/2 cup of water, continuing to cook over medium heat.

 

 

 

I cooked it until the water had evaporated and it looked like this.

I cooked it until the water had evaporated and it looked like this.

 

Then I added 3 chopped tomatoes.

Then I added 3 chopped tomatoes.

 

I added 1 tsp. salt, 1 tbsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. cayenne, 1 tbsp. turmeric and 1 minced Thai bird chile.

I added 1 tsp. Himalayan salt, 1 tbsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. cayenne and 1 tbsp. turmeric.

 

I stirred it all together and cooked until the tomatoes became soft.

I stirred it all together and cooked until the tomatoes became soft.

 

Then I cubed the liver into bite-sized pieces.

Then I cubed the liver into bite-sized pieces.

 

I added the liver to the pan.

I added the liver to the pan.

 

And also added 2 minced Thai bird chiles and 1/2 bunch of chopped cilantro.

And also added 2 minced Thai bird chiles and 1/2 bunch of chopped cilantro.  Stirred it all together and cooked for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liver was done (still very slightly pink inside).

 

Although we almost never eat grains of any sort, I decided I wanted a little bit of basmati rice with this.  It was the perfect accompaniment.

Although we almost never eat grains of any sort, I decided I wanted a little bit of basmati rice (about 1/4 cup) with this. It was the perfect accompaniment.

 

Beef Liver Curry

 

  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Himalayan salt
  • 1 tbsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tbsp. turmeric powder
  • 1lb beef liver, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • two minced Thai bird chiles
  • 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro
  1. In a large saucepan, sauté chopped onion and garam masala in virgin coconut oil.
  2. Add water, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and cumin seeds and cook until water is evaporated.
  3. Add tomatoes, salt, coriander, cayenne and turmeric and continue to cook until tomatoes are soft.
  4. Add liver, cilantro and Thai bird chiles and cook until liver is done (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve with cooked basmati rice, roti or over cauliflower rice if you don’t eat grains.
29 08, 2014

August Foodie Pen Pals

By |August 29th, 2014|chocolate, foodie pen pals|1 Comment|

It’s time for another Foodie Pen Pals reveal.  This month I had the pleasure of being matched up with the lovely Jen of Pretty Little Grub.  Jen is a dietician who lives in Alberta.  We exchanged a few e-mails and found out what we each liked and disliked.  I found out Jen loves chocolate and coffee, so you can take a look at what I sent her by going to her blog.

In return, Jen sent me a box tailored to my favourite foods.  She was so thoughtful in her choices and really paid attention to my particular food preferences (mostly paleo/primal, no refined sugars).

Here’s what she sent me…

 

IMG_8021

The box was wrapped with this pretty ribbon!

 

A sneak peek of what was inside :)

A sneak peek of what was inside 🙂

 

IMG_8026

Not sure how she knew that these are one of my favourite snacks! Salty, crunchy and cheesy. What’s not to like!?

 

Dark chocolate with salt.  Need I say more?

Fair trade dark chocolate with salt. Need I say more?

 

I told Jen I love spicy food, so these were a great addition to the box.  Perfect to top salads!

I told Jen I love spicy food, so these were a great addition to the box. Perfect to top salads!

 

Grain-free granola.  So delish. to sprinkle over a bowl of kefir in the morning.  This was new to me and is soooo good.

Grain-free granola. So delish. to sprinkle over a bowl of kefir in the morning. This was new to me and is soooo good.

 

I had never seen these before. I love that Jen included it because she figured it would be difficult for me to find portable snacks due to my dietary restrictions. This was really, really good!

 

Krestan claimed these right away.  Two honey-filled sticks.  One is caramel and the other is chocolate.  Needless to say, they are both gone and were both very much enjoyed :)

Krestan claimed these right away. Two honey-filled sticks. One is caramel and the other is chocolate. Needless to say, they are both gone and were both very much enjoyed 🙂

 

Jen included a lovely, hand-written note explaining why she chose all the items.

Jen included a lovely, hand-written note explaining why she chose all the items.

 

So that concludes another month of Foodie Pen Pals.  Once again, I was thrilled with all of the items in my box.  Can’t wait to do this again.  I’ll be taking at least a month off for various reasons, but hope to sign up for October.

13 08, 2014

Fennel & Watermelon Salad

By |August 13th, 2014|gluten-free, grain-free, Salad|0 Comments|

(Credit for above photo to Krestan Kühnen).

I was shopping at a new (to our city) organic market last week and when I got to the checkout, the cashier told me I’d earned a free gift for spending over $50.  She offered me the choice of 4 items, but the only one that really appealed to me was an organic watermelon.  I asked her to choose one for me and she chose one that was literally larger than a 6 month old baby!

I used a large egg for size comparison.

I used a large egg for size comparison.

After struggling to the car with this gargantuan thing and then manhandling it into the kitchen, I had to decide what the heck to do with it.  Since it’s been pretty hot here lately, I thought a nice, fresh salad would be a good idea.  I just made this up on the spot, but all three of us really enjoyed it.  Then I gave the rest of the watermelon to my mum to use as they eat a lot more fruit than we do and their fridge is always a lot less full than ours is 🙂

Here’s what I did to make the salad…

 

To a large bowl, I added 1/4 cup roasted walnut oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and S&P to taste.

To a large bowl, I added 1/4 cup roasted walnut oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and S&P to taste.  I whisked this together until emulsified.

 

Using a mandoline, I  thinly sliced a large, organic fennel bulb into the bowl.

Using a mandoline, I thinly sliced a large, organic fennel bulb into the bowl.

 

 

 

Also using the mandoline, I very thinly sliced 1/2 an organic, red onion into the bowl.

Also using the mandoline, I very thinly sliced 1/2 an organic, red onion into the bowl.

 

I added some minced fresh, organic mint.  Admittedly it had seen better days!

I added some minced fresh, organic mint. Admittedly it had seen better days!

 

Then I added about 4 cups of cubed watermelon.

Then I added about 4 cups of cubed watermelon.

 

And a cup of cubed feta cheese.

And a cup of cubed feta cheese.

 

Then I added 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives.

Then I added 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives.

 

I tossed it all together and topped with chopped, organic chives and a reserved fennel frond.

I tossed it all together and topped with chopped, organic chives and a reserved fennel frond.

 

 

Fennel & Watermelon Salad

 

  • ¼ cup roasted walnut oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large organic fennel bulb
  • ½ organic red onion
  • Handful fresh, organic mint
  • 4 cups organic watermelon, cubed
  • 1 cup cubed feta cheese
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives, sliced
  • Small bunch organic chives, chopped

 

  • Into a large bowl, add oil through S&P.
  • Whisk until emulsified.
  • Using a mandoline, thinly slice fennel into the bowl, reserving fronds.
  • Also using the mandoline, but on a finer setting, thinly slice the onion.
  • Add watermelon, cheese and olives and toss well.
  • Serve in individual bowls topped with chopped chives and fennel fronds.

 

30 07, 2014

Foodie Pen Pals July 2014

By |July 30th, 2014|chocolate, foodie pen pals, gluten-free, grain-free, Paleo|0 Comments|

I’ve been participating in Foodie Pen Pals for about a year and a half now and I’ve received some really interesting packages filled with all sorts of delightful goodies.  Some of the boxes have been more to my taste than others and some have been so incredibly thoughtful, but I have to say that this month’s box definitely takes the cake!

I was teamed up with the lovely Jenn over at Bake and Be Merry  this month.  We exchanged a couple of e-mails and hit it off right away.  This was her first time participating in Foodie Pen Pals.  She mentioned in one of her e-mails that she participated in a foodie scavenger hunt which raised money for the Ottawa Food Bank.  I was so interested to hear that since I volunteer 2 days a week at a local food bank.  She wrote an awesome blog post on the subject, which I forwarded to our community liaison in hopes that we can do something similar in the future.

I sent Jenn my usual Foodie Pen Pal questionnaire asking things like ‘what’s your favourite food?’, ‘what don’t you like?’, etc… and she answered it and then added even more questions for me to answer.  One question she asked me was ‘Is there something that you’ve been wanting to try/make/eat/drink that you haven’t gotten around to yet?’  I answered that I’ve been wanting to attempt making macarons for my sister as they’re her favourite baked treats.  Well wouldn’t you know that the extremely sweet and thoughtful Jenn put together a macaron kit for me!!!!  I mean, could you possibly ask for a lovelier gesture?  I was blown away.

Okay, enough rambling and on to the package contents…

At the top of the box there was an envelope telling me to open everything before reading it.  I LOVED that!

At the top of the box there was an envelope telling me to open everything before reading it. I LOVED that!

The macaron kit was wrapped in this pretty box with a ribbon.

The macaron kit was wrapped in this pretty box with a ribbon.

It contained all the makings for one batch of macarons.

It contained all the makings for one batch of macarons.

I loved how everything had a little note attached and what fun that everything was wrapped up.  It was like Christmas :)

What fun that everything was wrapped up. It was like Christmas 🙂

Apple chips for a healthier option than my guilty pleasure, potato chips :)

Apple chips for a healthier option than my guilty pleasure, potato chips 🙂

She actually had a spice shop make up a collection of spices for me!!!

She actually had a spice shop make up a collection of spices for me!!!

One for each of my favourite cuisines!

One for each of my favourite cuisines!

I love how she attached little notes to each item :)

I love how she attached little notes to each item 🙂

I tried these the day I got the package.  YUM!

I tried this the day I got the package. YUM!

Even fancy napkins! :)

Even fancy napkins! 🙂

I was so excited to see what was in this package!

I was so excited to see what was in this package!

Dark Chocolate to pair with wine!!!

Dark Chocolate to pair with wine!!!

I mentioned that I'm on a tasting panel and she managed to work that in to the package too! :)

I mentioned that I’m on a tasting panel and she managed to work that into the package too! 🙂

I can't wait to try this.  I'm obsessed with flavoured salts!

I can’t wait to try this. I’m obsessed with flavoured salts!

And then I got to open the letter.  Reading this, you can tell how much care was put into the package.

And then I got to open the letter. Reading this, you can tell how much care was put into the package.

Needless to say, the chocolate didn't make it past day one and it paired beautifully with a glass of dry red wine. I did share :)

Needless to say, the chocolate didn’t make it past day one and it paired beautifully with a glass of dry red wine. I did share 🙂

 

I truly hope that Jenn enjoys my package as much as I did hers.  And I hope that next month she’s paired up with someone as thoughtful as she is.  I wonder if maybe I should quit Foodie Pen Pals now as I can’t imagine any package topping that one! 🙂

 

 

 

25 06, 2014

Sugar-free Grain-free ‘Coffee’ Cookies

By |June 25th, 2014|cookies, gluten-free, grain-free|0 Comments|

 

These cookies were an experiment.  I decided to try to have another attempt at sugar-free as all the things I’ve made so far have either had a bit of an aftertaste from stevia or the cooling sensation from erythritol or xylitol.

I think these are actually very tasty and I was happy with the sweetness.  They didn’t taste artificial at all and I used such a small amount of erythritol that they didn’t have the usual cooling sensation.  Along with the erythritol I used Lo Han Guo, which is a non-caloric sweetener made from a ground fruit.  I haven’t used it half and half with another sweetener before and was worried the aftertaste would be very strong, but it really isn’t at all.

I also decided to experiment with a mixture of nut flours.  I generally stick with almond flour as I have it on hand, so it’s quick and easy.  But today I ground up cashews to make a cashew flour.  I’m really pleased with the texture and flavour this gave the cookies.  They’re a little softer than an all almond flour cookie and I think the cashew added a little sweetness.

I know I would have really liked some sort of dried fruit such as raisins or dates, but since I was trying to make these as low GI as possible, I decided against those.

I used Dandy Blend instead to give them a coffee-like flavour and raw cacao nibs in place of chocolate chips.

All in all, I’m very happy with the result of this experiment.  I’m looking forward to trying other flavours and combinations to come up with different cookies.  Maybe I’ll try using some cocoa next time.

So, here’s what I did…

June25

To a large bowl, I added 1 cup of almond flour.

1june25Then I added a cup of ground cashews (measured after grinding).

2june25I added 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs and 1/4 cup chia seeds.

3june25And 2 tbsp. erythritol, 2 tbsp. lo han guo, 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt & 1/4 cup Dandy Blend.

4june25Mixed the dry together then added 1 local organic duck egg (what I had on hand) & 1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil. Then mixed it all thoroughly.

6june25Dolloped onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and baked at 350F for 12 minutes and cooled on a wire rack.

Sugar-free Grain-free ‘Coffee’ Cookies

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • 1 cup cashew flour

  • ¼ cup raw cacao nibs

  • ¼ cup chia seeds

  • 2 tbsp. erythritol

  • 2 tbsp. lo han guo (I ordered mine here)

  • ½ tsp. Himalayan salt

  • ¼ cup Dandy Blend (I ordered mine here)

  • 1 large oranic egg

  • ¼ cup gently melted virgin coconut oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350F

  2. In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.

  3. Add eggs and oil and mix until well-combined.

  4. Onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, dollop mixture by the tablespoonful.

  5. Use a wet fork to press down the tops of the cookies.

  6. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and after 5 minutes, remove to wire rack to cool.