Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vitamix Recipe: Strawberry Milkshake (Dairy-free of course!)

This morning I decided I needed a little treat, so I blended up this easy-to-make strawberry milkshake.  It was so delicious!  I am very thankful that I froze so many strawberries this year as I can see this becoming a frequent treat.
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or rice milk)
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Add all ingredients to Vitamix.  Start at speed 1 and slowly increase to 10, then flip the high power switch.
  2. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately.  Makes one large or two small servings (really you won't want to share though).

Vitamix Recipe: Green Monster Smoothie

This witches' brew does not look like something tasty, but looks can be deceiving. If you have ever thought of trying a green smoothie but didn't know where to start, I think this is a good beginner recipe. It has a good refreshing flavour, and no it does not taste like spinach!

  • 1 cup seedless grapes
  • 1 apple, quartered and deseeded
  • 1 pear, quartered and deseeded
  • 1 orange, quartered and peeled
  • squeeze of lime
  • handful of spinach
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  1. Add ingredients to Vitamix.  Start at power 1, then increase slowly to 10 while using the tamper to push ingredients to the bottom.  
  2. Flip high power switch and blend for 1 minute or until completely smooth.
  3. To decrease foam, turn off high power switch and slowly turn dial lower.  A funnel should form in the middle.  Decrease speed until funnel almost disappears, then hold at that speed for 15 seconds. Decrease again until funnel almost disappears and hold for another 15 seconds.  Slowly decrease speed to 1, then turn off.
  4. Pour into two glasses and toast to your good health!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Zucchini Bread with Roasted Almonds

I have been looking for a good gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free zucchini bread for awhile, and I finally found one that really caught my eye over at Gluten Free Goddess.  I made a few changes, including incorporating roasted almonds.  We are just starting to introduce nuts to the Little Man's diet, so we don't have a wide range of nuts to choose from.  Although I would have originally wanted to pair this with pecans, the almonds surprised me in how much flavour they added to the bread.  It was a perfect match!  Roasting them yourself really brings out extra flavour.  I also included almond residue (leftover from making homemade almond milk) for an additional flavour boost, and used an organic demerara sugar for a crisp crust.

To roast the almonds, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spread whole raw almonds over a foil-lined cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Watch the oven carefully as the 10 minute mark approaches.  You want a nutty smell to be coming from the oven, but if you overdo it the almonds will burn.  Set cookie sheet aside for almonds to cool.  Note that almonds will not crisp up for at least an hour.  For using in the bread, you only need to wait until the nuts are cool enough to handle.  Chop by hand or in Vitamix at power 5 for 5-7 seconds.  For storage of extra almonds, wait 1-2 hours until almonds are completely cool, then store in a tightly-sealed container in the fridge.  I like to use my roasted almonds to top green salads.

The bread recipe can be started while the almonds are roasting.  Conveniently, the bread bakes at 350 degrees, so you can use the same preheated oven once the almonds are done.
  • 1 rounded cup (1 1/4 cups) partially peeled then grated zucchini
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup organic demerara sugar (can be substituted with natural cane sugar)
  • 1/4 cup almond residue (solids created by making almond milk) (optional)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp lime juice (can be substituted with lemon)
  • 1 Tbsp Ener-G egg replacer whisked with 1/4 cup water 
  • 1/3 cup chopped roasted almonds (optional)
  1. Press the liquid out of the zucchini by placing it in a sieve and squeezing. It is important to remove as much liquid as you can so the bread isn't too gooey. Fluff it with a fork and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sorghum, tapioca, xanthan, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Mix.  Add sugar and mix again.
  3. Add almond paste, coconut oil, coconut milk, lime juice, and egg replacer mix.  Beat on medium speed until well mixed -- about 1 minute.
  4. Add drained zucchini and almonds and mix on slow 20 seconds or so until combined.
  5. Scrape dough into parchment-lined loaf pan (I just drape it in a U-shape in the pan and don't worry much about the ends) and smooth the top with a damp spatula.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Decadent Hot Chocolate

The evenings are turning chilly now, and a good way to get warmed up is with a nice steaming mug of hot chocolate.  Use a really good cocoa powder for this recipe for full flavour, and feel free to customize the spices to your taste.  You could add a little chili powder for some extra heat, or replace the vanilla and cardamom with almond extract for a smooth, mellow drink.

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups rice or almond milk
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup agave or pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Heat coconut and rice/almond milks together in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Once boiling, add cocoa powder, cinnamon and cardamom and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add agave or maple syrup and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
What seasonings do you enjoy in your hot chocolate?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

We eat these chicken wings all the time and I never remember to take a picture because I am so busy digging in.  So please excuse the poor photo of the remaining few wings, and just trust me that these are way more tasty than they look.

These are perfect for a party as an appetizer, but also work as a main course.  They are excellent for planning ahead as they freeze really well in the marinade.  I usually prepare an extra batch (or two) when making these and freeze for a future easy meal.
  • 3 1/2 pounds split chicken wings
  • 2/3 cup safe ketchup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  1. Mix ketchup, honey, wine, sugar, salt, ginger and garlic together in large Ziploc bag.
  2. Add wings and squish gently to thoroughly coat all the pieces.
  3. Refrigerate overnight, or freeze for a future meal.  If you previously froze this recipe, now thaw overnight in the fridge.
  4. Transfer chicken to foil-lined baking sheet.  Pour a little marinade over each chicken wing so each is coated in sauce.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vitamix Recipe: Harvest Pancakes

Pancakes are a favourite breakfast at Eagle Loft. We have several different recipes that we alternate between, and we always make a big batch so we can freeze some to have on hand. This nutritious recipe smells divine while cooking, and tastes even better. It is such a comforting fall morning breakfast.

Although this recipe is designed to be made in a Vitamix, instructions are also included at the end to mix these by hand. Halve this recipe if you don't want leftovers (the recipe makes pancakes for eight or nine servings). These pancakes can be frozen and then heated in a toaster oven for a quick breakfast.

  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 banana, broken into 2 pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups rice milk
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix
  • (or use 1 3/4 cups brown rice flour, 1/2 cup potato starch, 1/4 cup tapioca flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  1. Place ingredients into Vitamix in order listed.
  2. Starting at speed 1, turn on Vitamix.  Turn dial to 10 and blend 15 seconds.  Turn off Vitamix and scrape sides with spatula to loosen any dry ingredients stuck to the edge.  Set dial to speed 1 and turn on Vitamix again.  Turn dial to 10, then flip switch to high power and blend 15 seconds or until batter looks smooth.
  3. Heat pan over medium heat.  Pour pancake mix directly from Vitamix into hot pan in circles about 2 1/2 inches round.  Cook about 2 minutes per side, being careful not to burn pancakes.
  4. If not using a Vitamix, mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls, mashing banana into wet ingredients.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix to combine.  Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to pour batter into pan.  Cook as directed above.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kabocha Squash Soup

I am so glad I decided to try more squash varieties this year.  I picked up a Kabocha squash at a local farm and decided to make soup with it.  It is a lovely sweet squash, so I made it into a sweet soup rather than a curried or spicy one.  Don't worry, it isn't too sweet -- this soup has a nice delicate flavour and a lovely texture too.  The Little Man gobbled it up, so I had to run out and stock up on Kabochas!  I've made the soup several times now, and every time it is finished I roast another squash and make it again.  I love to have this on hand for lunches.  It is a perfect meal on a blustery Autumn day.

I adapted the recipe from one at AYear of Slowcooking.
  • 1 small-medium Kabocha squash (4-6 cups cubed)
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock for a vegan soup)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a large kitchen knife, cut the squash into 6-8 chunks (be VERY careful not to cut yourself!). I find it easiest to start a cut next to the stem, pushing until the knife is embedded -- then remove knife, turn squash over and try to line up a cut from the under side.  Repeat on edges until you can slice completely through.  The subsequent cuts shouldn't be too bad once you get the squash sitting on the cut side.  Remove seeds and stringy pulp (I find these seeds too tough to eat roasted).  Place squash pieces in glass dish with 1/2 inch of water.  Roast in oven for 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add onion, apples, stock and spices to crockpot and turn to high.
  3. When squash is done, let cool a little until easy to handle, then use a spoon to separate the flesh from the peel.  Cube squash and add to crockpot.  Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
  4. During last 15 minutes of cooking, stir coconut milk into crockpot.
  5. Puree with a hand-blender or a VitaMix.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Oooey Gooey Lasagne

You may have heard it talked about as it is getting a lot of press, or you may have tried it yourself.  I'm talking about Daiya, a newcomer to the vegan cheese market.  If you haven't tried it I know what you're thinking: "Eeewww, vegan cheese. I'm not trying THAT again."  But you have to trust me that Daiya isn't like other cheese alternatives.  It contains no dairy, soy, eggs, or wheat.  What it DOES contain is gooeyness.  It actually melts like real cheese!  It also has quite a good taste.  So good the Little Man and I have consumed over 8 pounds of it since we ordered it the first week of August.  He loves it raw and gobbles up slices of it.  I am not so fond of it in its raw state, but love it melted on pizza, nachos, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, and of course -- lasagne.

I modified this recipe from one at Gluten Free Chops.
  • 9 Tinkyada lasagne noodles
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • fresh oregano, basil, marjoram, parsley all finely diced
  • - or - dried herbs to taste (try 1/2 tsp of each)
  • dash of agave syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt for sauce plus 1/2 tsp salt for meat
  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1/4 pound (or more) Mozzarella-style Daiya 
  1. Lay dried noodles in 2 lasagne pans so they are not overlapping.  Pour 1 inch of boiling water in each pan and cover with cookie sheets.  Let sit 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, lightly brown bison over medium heat in a large frypan.  Add garlic, onion, peppers, carrots, zucchini, kale, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook over medium-low until veggies are softened.
  3. Drain a little liquid from the diced tomatoes, then puree with a hand-blender.  Stir in tomato paste, herbs, agave, and 1/4 tsp salt.
  4. Once the 20 minute noodle timer rings, remove the lids and transfer all the noodles into one pan (draining the other pan).  Coat the empty lasagne pan with a little olive oil, then place 3 noodles side-by-side in the bottom of the pan.
  5. Spread half of the meat/veggie mixture over the noodles, followed by 1/3 of the tomato sauce and 1/3 of the Daiya.
  6. Repeat another layer of 3 noodles, the remaining meat/veggies, 1/2 of the remaining tomato sauce, and 1/2 of the remaining Daiya.
  7. Top with last 3 noodles, remaining tomato sauce, and remaining Daiya.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.
Have you tried Daiya?  What do you think of it, and what recipes do you make with it?

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Sunbutter Crispies

    These snack bars are very addictive.  Consider yourself warned!

    The Little Man goes crazy over these, and who can blame him?  He's the one that came up with the name "crispies".  They are definitely one of his favourite foods.  But I have to confess that I eat just as many (ok, probably more) than he does.  I think they are an excellent breakfast treat to add protein to your morning, and a perfect 4 o'clock tide-me-over-until-dinner snack too.  And they are SO easy.  You don't even need to grease the pan.

    • 3/4 cup Sunbutter
    • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
    • 2 1/2 tsp Agar flakes
    • 1 283g box Perky's Crunchy Rice cereal (made by Enjoy Life)
    1. Mix Sunbutter, syrup and Agar flakes together in a large pot (large enough to hold a box of cereal) over medium heat.  Stir frequently until the mixture starts to bubble.
    2. Remove pan from heat and add cereal.  Stir to combine well.
    3. Press mixture into 9x9 glass dish, making sure to smooth the top (a plastic rice paddle works really well).
    4. Refrigerate 1-2 hours to set (2 is better but I usually can't wait).  Use a sharp knife to cut into squares.
    5. ** optionally, drizzle melted chocolate over the top

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Bean and Squash Chili

    I have been looking for more ways to incorporate squash into our diet and to try more varieties of squash.  I  am also trying to serve a couple of vegetarian meals each week, so I have been experimenting with meatless main dishes.  Chili isn't something we have at our house anymore because some family members don't care for it.  But this chili met with rave reviews and was greatly preferred over our traditional meat chili recipe!

    My Mum and I each made this using different squashes and both were tasty, so feel free to use any variety of winter squash you prefer. The photo below shows us roasting our squashes and a pie pumpkin in my oven all at once.  This worked well as we had cooked squash and pumpkin available to use in several recipes over the next few days (this chili, pumpkin pie, squash soup, and some toddler lunches). Can anyone identify the squash on the top rack?  We think it is an heirloom hubbard but are not completely sure.

    I adapted the recipe from epicurious.
    • 1 small butternut squash (or other winter squash)
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 to 1 tsp chipotle chili powder, to taste
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 1 15oz can adzuki beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 2 cups vegetable broth
    • 1 large Italian tomato, diced
    • 2 cups fresh kale, chopped
    • 3/4 tsp sea salt
    • pepper to taste
    • fresh chopped cilantro to garnish
    1. Cut squash in half, remove seeds, and place halves in glass baking dish cut side down with 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the pan.  Roast squash at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes, then scoop flesh away from skin.  Coarsely cube squash and set aside.
    2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic 3-4 minutes.  Add chili and cumin and saute another 2 minutes.
    3. Add beans, broth, tomato and squash.  Reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes.
    4. Add kale, salt and pepper and cook another 10 minutes.
    5. Garnish each bowl with chopped cilantro.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Roasted Squash and Pumpkin Seeds

    One of the things I look forward to every Halloween is carving a pumpkin. The best part? Roasting and eating the seeds! Throughout the rest of the year, as I cut into squashes and see the lovely seeds inside I always wonder if I can roast those seeds as well. As it turns out, you can! The photo above shows a combination of pumpkin, butternut squash, and heirloom hubbard squash seeds, each with their own unique flavour.
    • 1 cup assortment of squash and pumpkin seeds
    • 1 tsp melted coconut oil
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
    2. Separate seeds from pulp.  Wash seeds in a sieve until all orange bits are removed.
    3. Dry seeds on a paper towel.  Leave out on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes to dry.
    4. Put seeds into a bowl, stir in coconut oil.  Once covered with oil, stir in sea salt.
    5. Spread seeds onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and roast for 35 minutes.  Stir after 5 minutes, then every ten minutes after that.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Apple Rhubarb Blackberry Crisp

    Something I have missed with our oat restriction is a fruit crisp.  It is such a comforting homey dessert.  Now that it is autumn, I went looking for a crisp topping that would work with our allergies.  And WOW, this is one great crisp!  I didn't feel deprived of oats at all in this recipe.  It is feel-good food.

    I adapted the recipe from one at Allergic Adventures, a lovely blog that has recipes free of allergens similar to our own.  The crisp can be served warm from the oven, or cold from the fridge.  It makes a delicious breakfast as well as a dessert.

    • 2 apples, sliced
    • 2 cups rhubarb, coarsely chopped
    • 1 cup blackberries
    • 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
    • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 Tbsp minute tapioca (mini tapioca pearls)
    • 3/4 cup sorghum flour
    • 1/2 cup natural cane sugar
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 cup chilled coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup boiling water
    1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
    2. Mix filling ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and scoop into a deep-dish pie plate.  Bake for 10 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, assemble topping by mixing together the flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, sea salt and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl.  Use a pastry blender/cutter to cut the coconut oil into the dry ingredients until the oil is in pea-sized chunks.  Add boiling water and stir just until combined.
    4. Remove the pie plate from the oven.  Using a tablespoon, scoop balls of topping onto the fruit.  Try and cover as much of the surface as you can.
    5. Return to the oven for 25 more minutes.
    This post is my entry for The October 2010 "Scared Silly" Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free event -- hosted by Diana at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.  The "scary" ingredient is rhubarb due to its poisonous leaves.

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Sunchoke Soup

    I only discovered sunchokes last year.  Also known as Jerusalem Artichokes, they are a root (unrelated to the artichoke family) that looks quite similar to ginger.  When cooked they can be used in place of a potato in a recipe, and provide a rich interesting flavour.  I also call this soup "butter bacon soup" even though it contains neither ingredient -- but there are hints of both flavours in it!

    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 3 leeks (white part), thoroughly cleaned and coarsely chopped
    • 1 sweet onion, chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, back peeled then chopped
    • 2 pounds sunchokes, peeled and coarsely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup fresh thyme
    • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
    • pepper to taste
    • 6 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock for a vegan soup)
    • 1 cup rice milk
    1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add leeks, onion and celery.  Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2. Add the sunchokes, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring once or twice.
    3. Add stock, bring to a boil and then reduce to a medium simmer.  Cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Puree soup in Vitamix (or use a hand blender) until smooth.  Add rice milk and return to stove to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
    I've listed this recipe at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang for Friday Foodie Fix - Secret Ingredient Thyme.

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    Banana Pancakes

    The Little Man loves his pancakes for breakfast.  He likes them plain, with no syrup or toppings.  I have been making him pancakes from the Bob's Red Mill Pancake Mix for about a year now;  I make so many things from scratch, it was nice to have one thing I could simplify.  But I always made it hard on myself by making a triple batch so I could freeze a few dozen little pancakes to have on hand.  So I would spend two hours in the morning every few weeks standing over the frypan cooking batch after batch.

    Then I saw a post from The Allergic Kid for Banana Pancakes.  They looked too good to not try.  I needed to make some modifications to make them gluten-free, and some other changes just because.  And I must say, they are delicious!!   They look like a lot of work to make compared to using a mix -- you even need a hand blender to puree the banana.  But they really are very simple.  I plan to make a single batch every weekend, which I know will be less work than the large mix batch I had been making.  And these are much tastier!

    Dry ingredients:
    • 3/4 cup tapioca flour
    • 1/4 cup millet flour
    • 1/4 cup sorghum flour  
    • (or use 1 1/4 cups of Bread Flour Mix from The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook in place of these 3 flours)
    • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    Wet ingredients:
    • 1 banana + enough rice milk to make 1 1/2 cups total
    • 1 Tbsp safflower oil + extra to coat pan
    • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    1. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl and whisk together.
    2. Combine wet ingredients in tall narrow container and puree with hand blender until smooth.
    3. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until combined.
    4. Heat a large frypan over medium heat.  Add oil to lightly coat bottom of pan.
    5. Use a measuring scoop to pour batter into the pan in 3-inch circles (I use a 1/3 cup scoop to make 2 pancakes).  Flip when top is filled with bubbles and bottom is light brown.  Note that these stick to the pan when they are not cooked enough -- let cook longer and they should be easier to flip.
    This recipe makes 1 dozen 3-inch pancakes.

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Eagle Loft Quinoa Salad

    My recipe is featured on the Enjoy Life blog!

    At first I found lunch to be a somewhat tricky meal to manage with allergies as I don't have time to prepare it from scratch every day.  I wanted something I could make ahead and have on hand, a dish that could provide protein and pack in a lot of nutrients.  Something that could be a side dish to last night's leftovers, a meal of its own, or a dish I could serve to friends at brunch.  One dish fit all these parameters -- quinoa salad.  I make quite a few variations of this salad, but over time this version has become my favourite.  I eat it daily!

    Eagle Loft Quinoa Salad
    (makes 6 servings)
    • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
    • 2 cups water
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
    • 1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and sliced (remove any thick outer leaves)
    • 3/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, rinsed and halved
    • 4 slices bacon (check for allergens), cooked and chopped
    • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
    • 1/2 of a sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped
    • 1/2 of a sweet yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
    • 1/8 of a red or sweet onion, chopped small
    • small handful of chopped parsley
    • 3 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • zest and juice of one lemon
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
    • 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
    1. Combine quinoa, water and pinch of salt in medium saucepan with lid.  Bring to boil, then turn to low simmer and cook 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, remove lid and let cool.
    2. Place all other salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Add cooled quinoa.
    3. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad.  Stir well to combine.

        Saturday, February 6, 2010

        Cookbook Review: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook

        When I heard that Cybele Pascal had a second cookbook coming out, I was very excited.  I have previously mentioned her first cookbook, The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook, as it contains several recipes that we regularly prepare at our house.  The one downfall of the first book for me was that the baking recipes contain spelt, which we cannot have as it is a form of wheat.  So I awaited the new book's arrival with a bit of caution as to not raise my hopes too high.  When I opened the cover for the first time I was holding my breath in anticipation.... and... NO spelt to be seen!  And Oh, what lovely photographs of things I can bake!

        The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook starts with a very useful dry and perishable goods pantry list.  It outlines the various flours, sugars, shortening, chocolate, and other baking ingredients that are found in today's allergen-free kitchen.  Cybele gives information on companies that make some of these products, as well as useful tips on why these ingredients are used and how best to use them.  This is followed by a section on how to replace various allergens so you can learn what to substitute in your favourite baking recipes.

        For the most part, the recipes in this book use a flour mixture consisting of brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour.  It is recommended that you mix up a big batch of this flour to store in your fridge or freezer so you have it on hand when needed in a recipe.  This makes it so much easier to bake -- you don't need a multitude of flours each time you want to make something.

        In our family there is a one-month period where we celebrate three birthdays.  This book arrived just in time for the festivities!  My Mum borrowed the book and made Chocolate Layer Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting for my birthday.  She loved the book and decided to also try making Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting.  Both were a success!

        Next was Little Man's birthday -- and his first ever cake!  I made the Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting -- twice, as we celebrated on his birthday and then again a few days later.  I found this recipe very easy to make.  The icing recipe creates a lot of icing, so I needed to make it only once for the two sets of cupcakes.  It keeps well in the fridge.  The cupcakes stay good in the fridge for several days, but they also freeze very well.  This has become a staple baked good in our house. In just over a month, my Mum and I have made these FOUR times!  When you have gone such a long time without cake I think there is a grace period where you can eat as much as you like to catch up a bit. :)

        For my Mum's birthday, I made Carrot Ginger Layer Cake with Orange Buttercream Frosting.  This is soooo good.  We couldn't taste the ginger, so we would add a bit more next time (and yes, there will definitely be a next time).  This cake was ok the day it was made, but it became outstanding the next day after it was refrigerated.  The icing is good enough to eat on its own!

        I also tried the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.  The results on this one were somewhat mixed, but it was through no fault of the recipe.  In my area we are unable to purchase dairy-free, soy-free shortening.  So in my baking recipes I substitute 3/4 cup refrigerated coconut oil for 1 cup of shortening.  This worked fabulously on all three types on cakes and their icing.  But I didn't measure very well with the cookies (I added too much), and I didn't refrigerate the coconut oil as long as I usually would.  The flavour was divine -- but the cookies ended up flat and lacy.  Next time I will try this recipe with 2/3 cup coconut oil and I bet they will turn out perfect.

        There is much more to the book than cake and cookies;  there are pies, cobblers, muffins, biscuits, and breads too.  Everything looks delicious.  There are lovely photos of baked goods that inspire you to try everything shown.  I am tempted to start at the beginning and cook my way through the book, but then I would have to wait a couple months before having a vanilla cupcake again -- and that is not going to happen!

        This book is so much more than just a cookbook to me.  This book represents a way of experiencing "normal" foods in spite of all the allergies.  It's a guide to creating a birthday cake that doesn't have to have the label "allergy-free cake", because it is so yummy that the non-allergic crowd can enjoy it too.  It is a confidence booster in that you don't need to alter the recipes and hope they work out.  It is the first book I pick up when I want to bake.

        I received a review copy of this book, but was in no way influenced to write a positive review.  I would have written everything the same if I had obtained my copy from the bookstore.  This is truly a breakthrough book for those of us living with allergies and I strongly encourage you to give it a try.  Cybele's web site gives the recipe for the flour mix, a red velvet cake with icing, and blueberry boy bait.  Give one of these a try and you will likely see yourself needing her book.  And remember, if you haven't eaten cake in awhile you have my permission to go a little crazy when you start baking from this book.

        Saturday, January 23, 2010

        Happy Birthday Little Man!

        The moment I waited a year for... Little Man got to eat birthday cake.  Last year we knew we were dealing with allergies before his birthday, but we didn't know what he was allergic to.  So no birthday cake for the birthday boy.  This year, we needed a special recipe for a two-year-old's first taste of cake.  I found what I was looking for in the Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting recipe from the Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook.  More on this book in a future post... but the cake was divine!  Little Man's opinion?  "Mmmmmm cake. Cake GOOD!"

        What else do you serve a two-year old on his birthday?  All his favourites of course!  For Little Man, that meant baby corn, brown rice pasta, turkey meatloaf, and homemade crackers with guacamole.  A tasty and nutritious meal that he gobbled up.

        Tuesday, January 19, 2010

        Quinoa Salmon Burgers

        I am a sucker for anything with quinoa in it, so when Ali at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen posted these quinoa salmon burgers today I knew I had to make them.  Not just someday -- today!  They are made in a food processor using cooked quinoa and fresh salmon along with some herbs and spices.  They are super simple and quick to make, especially if you ask the fish market to remove the bones and skin for you.  I chose wild coho for my salmon, and parsley and dill instead of the cilantro that Ali lists in the recipe. 

        These patties are going to be one of our dinner favourites.  We both raved about them while gobbling them up.  The quinoa makes them so moist, and using fresh fish really enhances both the texture and flavour.  Yum!

        Friday, January 15, 2010

        Quinoa Crackers

        I have been busy in the kitchen lately cooking up a storm.  So busy that I haven't found a moment to post (I also dig into dishes so fast I forget to take pictures!).  But when Ali over at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen posted a cracker recipe this morning, not only did I have to make it immediately but I knew I had to share it too.  The secret ingredient?  Cooked quinoa!  Well, I just happened to have some on hand so I decided to break out the food processor and rolling pin and give it a try.

        I have been looking for a cracker recipe for months.  The only crackers I have found that the Little Man and I can eat are the Hol Grain rice crackers.  He loves them -- me, not so much.  When checking out the recipes, however, I freeze up when I read "roll out the dough".  Let's face it, crackers look like a lot of work.  But this recipe says to put everything in the food processor -- easy!  Easy and fast mixing combined with slow rolling might be doable.  In fact, Ali suggests rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and simply transferring the whole sheet of parchment to the baking sheet.  So the tedious and slow task I was expecting surprised me by being rather fast after all.

        Ali's crackers are topped with three types of seeds, none of which we can eat.  I made half of our crackers plain (for Little Man) and topped the other half with rosemary and kosher salt.

        The verdict?  Hands down, the best crackers I've ever eaten (EVER!) gluten-free or not.  And if you listen carefully you might hear Little Man in the background voicing his approval... "more cracker, more cracker, more cracker!" 

        Friday, January 1, 2010

        The Chef

        I hope everyone had a Christmas as fabulous as ours.  I am still decompressing from the constant stream of visitors we entertained this year.  So much fun!  I have new recipes to share, and two new cookbooks to review, but it will take me a few more days to get back into the blogging mood.  I just want to enjoy as much family time as possible right now.

        As you can see, Little Man got his own kitchen for Christmas.  He loves it!  He cooks at it every day.  I think it is increasing his interest in trying out new foods.  That's my hope.

        I recently started a meta-blog that links back here for recipes, but branches out into other areas of our life such as crafting and parenting.  If you are interested in following our family journey, please come visit us at Eagle Loft.