Friday, 30 November 2012

My New Favourite Breakfast

I used to enjoy the sweet smell of scones, muffins and pancakes on the weekends.  A trip to IHOP in the fall when the pumpkin pancakes come out would immediately send me to my cozy, happy place.  Now that I am aware of what those things do to me allergy-wise, breakfast has lost a little luster (though I assure you all, I am still trying to find/perfect safe recipes for those aforementioned baked goods).  I did, however, find a recipe that brought back the culinary shine to my weekends, and it involves having vegetables for breakfast.  How could this be???  Only with favourite darling that can be served at any meal of the day: Bacon.  I first found this recipe a couple of weeks ago and have been too busy to share my results with you but a sick day from work seems to be the most perfect opportunity!  The Brussels Sprouts Breakfast Hash  from the blog, How Sweet It Is inspired me and required no substitutions, just the egg omission.  It is certainly filling enough without the egg also, and I may have added a bit more bacon.... (*sheepish grin).

4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped (it was a large piece of frozen bacon I cut it off of, so I may have added a wee bit more than four slices worth)
1/2 red onion, diced
1 10oz package of frozen sweet potato that is precubed for you!  (why do the work of peeling and cutting anything more than you  have to?)
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced
freshly ground salt and pepper

Cook your bacon in a large skillet on medium heat, then remove from pan, but leaving the wonderful rendered fat in the pan.  Add sweet potato and red onion, cooking for 6-8 minutes (likely closer to 8 minutes if you are using frozen), tossing as you go.  Add garlic until you are hit with the wonderful aroma, about 30 seconds (too long and it burns!).  Then add your brussels sprouts tossing it around in the pan for another 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, toast some bread that is safe for you to eat.  For me, it's bakery baked 100% rye.  "Butter" the toast and serve with your hash and find your cozy, happy place.

Bad Case of the Munchies

Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine sure is.

I was preparing my salad ingredients for a lunch this week when I had a nibble of my roasted edamame beans.  It was late (after my 7pm cut-off for eating that the homeopath recommended), and I just had to "test" them, you know, make sure they turned out.  One taste and I was hooked.  I finished about a half a cup worth.  Okay, more than half a cup.  It didn't leave much for lunch the following day so I quickly whipped up another batch....and proceeded to eat the rest of the first batch.  When it's a "safe snack" it is difficult to deny or even pace myself.  Perhaps you too have snacks that you enjoy like this, in moderation.  These are a great after-work snack, salad topper or movie theater sneak-in.  Salty goodness in little green beans. 

Roasted Edamame

1 cup edamame (I often am too hasty and skip thawing them, it still works, just a little less crunchy)
1 tbsp oil (if that, I use grapeseed a lot lately)
freshly ground (Hawai'ian? hehe) sea salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Toss (preferably thawed) edamame in oil and spread out on a baking sheet.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring around every ten minutes or so, until they start to turn golden brown.  You will still see some green parts, but trust me they will be delicious.  Crack salt and pepper and when cooled, store in an airtight container....if there's any left. 

Poultry Love: A Love Story Between Cranberries and Turkey.

Okay, I played around with some special effects for this picture, but cranberry chutney without refined sugar and citrus does seem kind of magical, no?

Turkey dinner is not turkey dinner without cranberry sauce.  The three basic ingredients in most cranberry sauces are cranberries, sugar and orange (juice, maybe even rind/peel): a nightmare for the liver diet I'm on (no citrus or sugar allowed) and bad for an orange allergy (hello, itching!).  But what is turkey dinner without cranberry?  So when a friend had a bunch of us over for turkey dinner I remembered a cranberry chutney recipe I happened upon and offered to make it for this dinner. I saw the potential in this chutney and even though I made alterations for my diet, I wasn't disappointed with the result, and I think the other cranberry lovers at the dinner weren't either. 

Here's what I did:

Cranberry Chutney

kitchen twine
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cups cranberries (as this was after Thanksgiving, fresh cranberries were unavailable so I used frozen)
1 cup coconut sugar (just enough to balance the tartness of the cranberries, not enough to notice a taste difference from white sugar)
1 1/4 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 firm Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and diced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger (is it a surprise that I used Hawai'ian ginger?)

With a piece of cheesecloth and twine I first make a bag and place my cloves and cinnamon sticks in.  This way I do not have to dig them all out later (granted there was one stray clove that my friend found, but the majority came out in the little baggie with no problem at all). 

In a large saucepan, combine, the cranberries, coconut sugar, baggie, water and salt.  Bring to a boil on medium heat.  Cook for about 10 minutes until the cranberries start to pop open.

Reduce heat and simmer on low, adding apple, pear, onion and ginger.  Cook for another 10-15 minutes (although admittedly I may have let it sit a little longer, I do get distracted very easily, but at least nothing boiled over!!).  Remove from heat, remove the baggie of cinnamon sticks and cloves, and let cool to room temperature before placing in a jar (or jars, this recipe yields enough to fill a 0.5L and a 1L glass jar).  Refrigerate and enjoy the turkey lovin'.

The prep work is quite easy and the reward for your time is unbeatable!  Making this again for a family dinner in another week.  MMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm......

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Soup's On!

This post is not exactly about soup.  It's about what you need for most soups: stock. It's surprising how many commercially made stocks have potato or tomato in, I make my own!  Mine is the vegetable stock recipe in the Williams-Sonoma Slow Cooker cookbook (which is strangely, one of the few recipes in the cookbook not made in a slow cooker).  A very similar recipe is found on the Williams-Sonoma website here.  Basically after prepping all your veg (leeks, yellow onions, carrots, celery, button mushrooms), you throw it in your stockpot and add parsley, thyme and peppercorns.  Add 2L of water and boil!  Sounds simple, and it is, but I tend to walk away and not realize the pot's contents are boiling until it's all over the cooktop.  That's my cooking style: burnt and crusty.  So, if you cook like me, you turn down the heat, clean up the cooktop and simmer for about an hour.  I let it cool down until I can easily strain the solids out without burning myself because, well, I that's what I tend to do.  Depending on whether I use the stock right away or freeze it, I package it appropriately, and VOILA!  I have the magical base for plenty of soups and stews in honour of the cooler weather that is now upon us.  Stay warm everyone...  Well, er, with my bad circulation, eat warm!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Mexican Night, Allergen-Free Style!

What to do, what to do, when you are allergic to some of your most favourite cuisines?  You improvise.  A Mexican inspired meal without rice, without corn or flour tortillas, without...TOMATOES???  It seemed impossible, but in my internet search travels I stumbled upon a Martha Stewart recipe for Black Beans and Rice.  It didn't need a tortilla.  Or tomato paste.  All it needed was an alternative to rice.  Queue: hulled millet.  With a little bit of "butter" and sea salt (from Hawai'i of course), millet isn't a half bad alternative to potatoes and rice.  With a little sliced avocado, and omitting the squirt of lime (it didn't really need it anyways, but if you are able to eat it, by all means, it's more authentic that way!) I had my first Mexican meal in a long time.  Take that, allergies!

It's so tiny!  Cooks and absorbs water like rice.  And I haven't burned it to the pan yet.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Liquid Luxuries

I have learned over this year that when one cannot buy, make... so I make a lot of things.  Smoothies tend to be my favourite luxury.  They are sweet and nutritious and I can almost convince myself that it is a good dessert substitution, or an awesome breakfast accompaniment.  When 2012 Whole Living 28 Day Mind + Body Challenge included blender smoothie recipes for breakfast in week one, I jumped on it and ran with them for the entire year as the occasional treat.  Most recently this week I bought the smallest bottle possible of carrot juice, broke out the frozen mango and made the Carrot-Mango Smoothie from the list of snacks for week 1.  Delicious!  And...I kind of drink two servings at one time.  What?   It's all fruit and vegetables! Look me in the eye and tell me you don't do it too.  I didn't think so....Happy sipping!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

You'll want more....

A few months ago I purchased a food dehydrator, trying to offset the cost of all the dried fruit I was purchasing to make my granola bars.  It requires more time and energy on my part to cut the fruit and tend to the fruit or herbs or whatever I am dehydrating.  It always turns out amazing though (except for papaya and cantaloupe, which is typically dipped in sugar syrup, and my homeopath would have a heart attack if I did that).  I've made dehydrated pineapple, mango, kiwi (I would recommend you skip that, it's is not as good as fresh, not even close), papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon (see kiwi comment), kale chips (turns out a little chewier than in the oven but doesn't burn which is awesome), and most recently, flax crackers.  I only used wheat-free tamari soy sauce, but my goodness they turned out well!!  My snacking ways almost caused me to inhale the whole batch.  Given that these are made with only flax seeds and soy sauce, that is not a wise idea, you could be a little too regular after that!  But in small amounts it is healthy and delicious!  I haven't tried it with a dip yet but I can imagine it would be delicious with avocado slices....bean dip....mmmmm....  If you have a dehydrator I highly recommend these as a healthy and nutritious, vegan snack.  Happy snacking!