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Sweet Chili Kale Chips

November 5, 2012

This recipe name and the ingredients don’t match….  At all.  But somehow, in some magical food alchemy, the garlic/spice mix in these suckers along with the cheesy-tasting cashew mix, end up tasting strangely like the sweet-chili sauce that is slathered on chicken wings all over North America….. Super odd, but super delicious!   A kitchen experiment gone right.

We make this recipe for kale chips all the time.  Soooooo good.  Taste just like sour cream and onion chips.  I was all ready to make a batch, and realized we didn’t have any onion…. hmmmm….. looked through the pantry, and threw some random spices in the blender, and voila!  We actually liked them more than the usual recipe!

I used an ingredient that most may not have in their spice cabinet:  Epicure’s Roasted Garlic.  It has just one ingredient:  Garlic.   I assume it has been roasted (duh), and dehydrated.   But it’s good in my books!  We throw it in soups, and assorted other recipes, and it has great flavour.  If you don’t have it, I would just replace it with freshly roasted garlic.  Or even just regular ol’ garlic.  But because I have it, and roasting garlic takes time, I just use this stuff!

These are ridiculously addictive.   We filled a whole dehydrator with them, and ate them all in probably 20 minutes flat.  Even the 3 year old loves them!

Sweet Chili Kale Chips

1 bunch of organic kale

1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 to 3 hours

2 Tbsp Epicure’s Roasted Garlic

4 Tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup water

Set cashews to soak in a bowl of water for at least 3 hours.  Wash the kale well, dry, and rip into pieces.  Do not use the middle rib or stem as it is too tough.

In a blender mix the soaked cashews and the remaining ingredients (not the kale!).  Blend until smooth, then pour onto the kale in a large bowl.  Using your hands, toss the kale, evenly coating it with the cashew mixture.

Place kale in a single layer in a dehydrator, separating the pieces so they dry evenly.  In my dehydrator they take only 3 to 4 hours, but mine is a little on the hot side.

You can also make these on a cookie sheet in the oven set really low (200 F?), but I haven’t tried that.

Enjoy!  Try not to eat them all in one sitting!  Actually, what they heck – they are good for you, so go ahead!

Sagey Spiced Butternut Squash

October 26, 2012

Not a great photo, but it was delicious!

Squash time once again!  I”m always looking for new ways to use squash at this time of year.  They’re plentiful, cheap, and delicious – and such a comforting food.  My husband isn’t a huge fan of a sweetened roasted squash (which I luuuv), so I went looking for something savoury.  This recipe is inspired by Jamie Oliver’s recipe here, which looks delicious but includes ingredients I didn’t have on hand.

I think these would be absolutely delicious with pan-fried buttery sage leaves crumbled on top – next time I have sage leaves I will definitely try….. If any of you give it a whirl, let me know!

Sagey Spiced Butternut Squash

1 small butternut squash, halved and de-seeded, then cut into chunks (skin still on)
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground allspice
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F

Melt coconut oil, add spices and mix. Place squash pieces on a cookie sheet, pour spice-oil mixture over them, and toss with until the oil coats the squash pieces evenly.
Cover cookie sheet with foil, bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 .

Enjoy!  I served ours with italian sausage in tomato basil sauce, which was fantastic, but I think this would pair deliciously with any number of items….. pork chops with apple sauce come to mind….  mmmmm

FYI – I don’t believe you are supposed to eat the skin – correct me if I’m wrong.  I didn’t.  But my husband ate some and he’s still alive.

Almond Butter Breakfast / Energy Bars; Paleo/Primal-friendly, Grain free, Gluten free

January 9, 2012

I’m back!  After quite the break (4 months?!), I have finally come back to a point where I have time/energy to cook, bake, and blog.  I have a good excuse, though –  I promise!  I’m 6+ months pregnant with our second child, and feeling good!  The first 3 to 4 months I felt so nauseous all the time, the kitchen was not a great place for me to be.  But I’m here again, and that’s what matters, right?

This is a recipe for something that I made a lot when I was pregnant with our first, and for the first few months after she was born.  As most new moms, I had little time to think about what I was going to eat, and breakfast was usually the meal that took the lowest place on the totem pole.  I would make double recipes of these, cut them into bars, and freeze them for a quick breakfast-on-the-go.  The recipe I used previously was similar, but had grains and such things that I have now eliminated from my diet.  So, anticipating the same time-crunch predicament for myself in a few months’ time, I set out to modify this recipe to be primal-friendly.  And I am pleased to say, that after my first attempt, this recipe is a smash hit!  My husband said that he greatly prefers this recipe to the one that I used to make, as this one  is much more moist.  That’s all the approval I need!

Almond Butter Breakfast/Energy Bars

Yields 16 bars (2″x2″)

1/2 cup Coconut Sugar

1/4 cup Almond butter

1/4 cup Coconut milk

1/4 cup honey

2 Tbsp melted coconut oil, or melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup almond flour

1 egg

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

1/2 cup raisins / dried cranberries

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (70%+)

1/4 c. sliced almonds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 Tbsp ground flax

Preheat Oven to 350 F.  In a large bowl, stir together the coconut sugar, almond butter, coconut milk, honey, oil/butter, egg, and vanilla.  In a small bowl, stir together the almond flour, baking soda and salt.

Add the almond flour mixture to the liquid bowl along with the remaining ingredients.  Stir until well mixed.Spread the batter into a greased 8″x8″ pan.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F, then reduce temperature to 325 F for another 10 to 15 minutes.  Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.  I had the best results waiting until the next day to cut them apart, as they will fall apart if they are even the slightest bit warm (because they have so much yummy stuff in them!).

Enjoy!

Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash

August 4, 2011

Poor little acorn squash, being so patient.  It IS summer…. and you ARE kind of a “fall” thing…… but I bought you!  And now I need to be a responsible produce consumer, and eat you.

I searched for a stuffed acorn squash recipe, and found this delicious-looking one here, from Whole9.  I followed it quite closely, but made a few substitutions.

Squash tip #1:  They can be challenging to cut open, so word to the wise: save your fingers, and soften them up first! Stab the little guy about 6 times with a chef’s knife – make sure you get through to the middle, so any steam can escape (and avoid an explosion).  Pop it in the microwave for about 3 minutes, then (carefully!) take it out and let it cool off a bit.  Then you can easily slice ‘er open, and scoop out the seeds and gross stringy bits:

Preheat your oven to 375.  Put the cleaned-out squash halves on a cookie sheet, and put a tsp on water in each.  Tent them with aluminum foil, and pop them in the oven for about 35-40 minutes.  Check them at 30 to see if they are soft/tender when you poke them with a knife.

Meanwhile, melt 1 TBSP coconut oil in a skillet, and brown 1 LB of grass-fed ground beef.  Season with salt and pepper, and add 4 or 5 minced garlic cloves about half-way through.

If you have any fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme would work), throw them at the end of cooking.  Otherwise, sprinkle in 1 tsp dried sage and/or whatever floats your boat.  While the meat is browning, chop up 1/2 cup of pecans.  I pre-roasted mine in the oven for just a minute or so until they start to darken and smell “nutty”.  Watch them closely – they can burn fast!  This step isn’t necessary if you are in a rush, but the roasting contributes to the flavour.   Chop up a crisp, juicy apple; I used a Gala, which worked well.

Chop the pecans roughly.  After the ground beef has finished browning, add the apple and the pecans, with about 2 Tbsp of liquid.  I just used water, but beef broth, vegetable broth, or even wine would work well.  Taste the mixture and season to your liking.  Cover, and let it simmer for just 1 minute.    Then scoop the mixture into your pre-roasted squash halves, and throw them back in the oven (un-tented) for about 10 minutes.   I had extra stuffing, which was wonderful scrambled with our eggs the next morning!

When they are lightly browned on top, they’re ready to go!

Enjoy!

Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash

1 LB grass-fed ground beef

1 TBSP coconut oil

salt and pepper

1 Tsp dried ground sage (or whatever medley of herbs you have/like)

5 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup pecans, roasted and roughly chopped

1 apple, chopped

2 Tbsp broth/water/wine

Pierce the acorn squash 6 times with a chef’s knife (make sure you go through to the centre).  Put the squash in the microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes and allow to cool.  Cut open the squash and scoop out the seeds and associated stringy-ness.  Put a teaspoon of water in each half, and place on a cookie sheet.  Tent the squash with aluminium foil, and place them in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes.  Check the squash after 30 minutes; see if they are tender when pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, brown the ground beef in coconut oil in a skillet.  Salt and pepper the meat, and add the minced garlic about 1/2 way through cooking.  Roughly chop roasted pecans, as well as one apple.  Once the meat has browned, add the pecans, sage (or other herbs), apple and broth.  Cover and simmer for 1 minute.

Scoop the mixture into the roasted squash halves and place in the oven, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

Enjoy!

Avgolemono Soup (Greek egg-lemon-chicken); Primal/Paleo-ized

July 27, 2011

This soup tastes like summer.  Delicious, sunny, chicken soup with lemon.

Avgolemono is a traditional Greek soup that uses eggs to thicken chicken broth.  It most often has orzo or rice in it, but that just wasn’t going to work for me.   I have used zucchini a number of times as a pasta replacement, and I gave it a try for this recipe – what a success!  I love it :)

A mandolin is so fun to use, and makes cutting large amounts of veggies/fruits easy and quick.  For this recipe, I set the mandolin to 1/4″ julienne, to get little “orzo-like” zucch’s.  Like this:


Avgolemono Soup

8 cups chicken stock

4 egg yolks

2 small-ish zuchinnis, cut into 1/4″ thick “orzo” shapes

1 cup roughly chopped roasted chicken

3 Tbsp lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

zest from one lemon

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large stock pot.  In a small bowl, whisk the yolks together.  You are going to temper the egg yolk (slowly add a hot liquid so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs).  This step involves two hands and a little coordination: take a ladle full of hot stock, and slowly drizzle it into the yolks, while whisking your little heart out with the other hand.  Add another ladle full, and whisk well.  Now you can add the yolk mixture to the stock pot (while whisking vigorously).   Continue whisking the stock for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, and you will notice the egg yolks beginning to thicken the soup.

Add your zucchini “noodles”, chopped chicken breast, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Serve warm with a sprinkling of fresh parsley on top.

Enjoy!!

For the Love of Coffee

July 12, 2011

A simple post; today I wanted to share how I start off most mornings.  This is my absolute favourite way to make coffee.

First, begin with whole organic beans that have been stored in air-tight conditions.  This is an important step; after you open a sealed bag of beans it is quite important to expose the beans to the least amount of air and moisture possible.  Air = dried out, crappy beans.  You know when you open a bag of coffee beans and they are all glossy and oily-looking and beautiful?  That oil is magic. You want to preserve the magical beany properties.

Secondly, we grind the beans.  No pre-ground beans.  Just No.  For the longest time, we had a little cheap-o blade grinder.  These are pretty good (and you can pick one up for close to $10), but you need to have a good eye for the type of grind you need.  What do I mean?  Well, different brewing methods require different coarseness of grind.  It all comes down to the surface area of the ground up beans.  The finer the grind, the more surface area is exposed.  A fine grind is perfect for when the grinds have very little contact time with the water; for example with a shot of espresso.  In an espresso machine, hot water is pumped at high pressure through a compressed “puck” of finely ground coffee beans; the water moves through quickly, and therefore you want to maximize the amount of bean surface area.  For a run of the mill coffee maker, the water drips through the grinds and via gravity makes its way into the carafe below; more contact time with the grinds and therefore you use a grind somewhere in the middle (sometimes known as “Universal” grind).

As we increase the coarseness of the grind, we get to my favourite brewing method: the French Press.   In my opinion, a French Press makes the most flavourful coffee.  The coffee isn’t run through a paper filter, as it is with your average coffee maker, so you retain a lot of the natural oils from the bean (and oils contain heaps of deliciousness.)  Most recently I busted my cheap-o blade grinder, and upgraded to a “burr” grinder.  These types of grinders have a dial that you simply set to the desired coarseness, and the little “burr” thingy grinds the beans at the touch of a button.  No stop/starting to check on the coarseness of the grind, as I always had to do with the blade grinder.

A “French Press” is usually a glass carafe with a push-down stainless steel filter.  Mine is made by Bodum; I have had other brands before, but they often contain plastic parts that eventually break.  You put your grinds in the carafe, pour in your boiling water, give it a stir, and set your timer for 5 minutes.  After 5, you slowly press the filter down, and there you have it – the BEST cup of coffee you’ve had in a while, I guarantee it!

I love mine with a few ounces of coffee/table cream – which here in Canada is about 18% MF.  Delicious!!

Cherry Almond Muffins; Primal / Paleo friendly, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar

June 4, 2011

Muffins, muffins, muffins!  Although loved by most, the beloved muffin is often misunderstood….. Many a muffin recipe has left the average person to think of muffins as essentially CAKE.  Cake in a small package, for breakfast.   Over-sized, sickeningly sweet, super soft, filled with questionable add-ins; if you ordered a muffin in any local coffee chain, that is what you would get.

Muffins have gotten a bad rap!  Muffins are not meant to be a cupcake without icing! Muffins are their own category!  Let’s stand up for the integrity of muffins!!

Here’s a Primal/Paleo-friendly muffin recipe, modified slightly from Dr. Bruce Fife’s great book, “Cooking with Coconut Flour“. I really like this book, as it’s got dozens of lovely-looking recipes that I am eager to try.  Those that I have tried have been great; all grain-free, gluten-free, and almost all have low-sugar options.  It’s a super resource for Paleo/Primal folks, and those that just like the idea of healthier baked goods.

Of course, muffins (nomatter how healthy) probably aren’t something you should be consuming in mass quantities every day.  But, I say they’re a great treat.  And what I say goes!  So grab your whisk and your muffin tin, and get going!

Cherry Almond Muffins

Set oven to 400 F (205 C). Makes 12 muffins

6  large eggs (preferably organic and free run)

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup whole milk or coconut milk

1/2 cup honey

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup sifted coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup chopped dried cherries

In a large bowl, combine eggs, butter, milk, honey, salt, vanilla and almond extracts

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut flour and baking soda

Blend coconut flour mixture into wet ingredients, whisking until there are no lumps.  Stir in chopped cherries.

Grease muffin cups and pour in batter.

Pop into the oven for 13 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy!!

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