black bean brownies

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black bean brownies

These are everything a brownie should be: moist, ‘fudgy’ and full of flavor! There is no flour in this recipe, which makes them both wheat-free and gluten-free and you can’t even taste the beans as they hide in among the chocolate chips. I’ve used both black beans and adzuki beans, which I soak over night and then cook up in a slow cooker here at home. My young friends gobble these up and I have to admit,  these don’t last long here at our home!

Black Bean Brownies

2 cups black beans or adzuki beans (canned or freshly cooked at home)

2 eggs

3 tablespoons canola oil

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup raw cane sugar (or natural sweetener of your choice)

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use 1 cup to make this extra ‘chocolate-y’)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Blend all ingredients, except the chocolate chips, together in a mixer or blender. Stir on the chocolate chips. Transfer to a greased 8 x 8 baking pan (I also line it with parchment paper). Bake for 30 minutes and allow brownies to cool before serving. Enjoy!

black bean brownies

potato and pea curry

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potato and pea curry

A very simple and quick curry for every day. I served this on a bed of coconut rice and garnished it with caramelized onions.

Potato and Pea Curry

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds

2 tablespoons ghee or canola oil

2 onions, sliced

2 closed garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons ginger, grated

1 teaspoons turmeric

salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 cup water

2/3 cup frozen or fresh peas

2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

Heat the mustard seeds in a large dry pan until they start popping. Add the ghee (or oil), onions, garlic, ginger and cook, stirring, until soft. Add the turmeric, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin garam masala and potatoes. Stir until coated.

Add the water and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender. Add the peas and stir; simmer, covered for 3-5 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the mint and serve hot or warm. Enjoy!

Resource:

Stephen, W. & al. (1996). The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook. NSW, Australia: Murdoch Books.

potato and pea curry

carrots and rutabagas with lemon and honey

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carrots and rutabagas

My family never ate turnips, rutabagas or parsnips when I was growing up so I never discovered how delicious they are until my adult years. I have only just tasted rutabaga this past week and have my fellow gardener, Rabbit (from Winnie the Pooh) to thank for finding this recipe! My son, Chayton enjoys watching Winnie the Pooh and we have watched the episode: “Rabbit and the Rutabaga Wrangler” more than a few times! I kept wondering what a rutabaga was and finally asked Brian, who explained it was a root vegetable, similar to a turnip. He brought one home the following weekend and I hunted for a recipe to cook it with. I found this one on the Epicurious website and loved how it turned out. For those who dislike turnips or rutabagas, this dish may surprise you. Where traditional pureed rutabagas are heavier and filling- a wonderful accompaniment to a winter feast, this recipe is light, a bit crunchy and lemony- perfect for lunch on the patio on a summer day.

Carrots and Rutabagas with Lemon and Honey

1 rutabagas, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
6-8 carrots, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or extra virgin olive oil (I used olive oil)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

Cook rutabagas in large pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes. Add carrots and cook until vegetables are cooked through but still slightly firm, about 5 minutes.  (Or cook longer for more tender vegetables.) Drain.

Melt butter (or olive oil) in large pot over medium-high heat. Add lemon juice, honey, and peel. Bring to boil. Add vegetables; stir until glazed and remove from heat. Or, for softer vegetables, cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Mix in fresh chives. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Rutabaga is cross between a member of the cabbage family and the turnip family. It was a staple during World War II when food was scarce which is why it is often thought of as a ‘deprivation food’. Rutabagas are more pungent than turnips and the pungency can be reduced by blanching the vegetable in boiling water for 5 minutes before cooking. Rutabagas are an excellent source of potassium and a good source of vitamin C. It also contains magnesium, folic acid and phosphorus.

carrots and rutabagas1Resource:

Fortin, J. (1996). The Visual Food Encyclopedia. Montreal, Quebec: Les Editions Quebec/Amerique Inc.

pizza with a new twist- try a flavorful cauliflower crust

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doughless pizza

I made this pizza for the first time a few weeks ago and it was so delicious that I had to make it again the following weekend! If you are gluten-free or wheat-free this pizza is perfect for you. For the rest of us, this is another delicious variation of an old favorite. The nice thing about this pizza recipe is that you don’t feel all full and doughy after eating it. You actually feel ‘light’. This recipe comes from William Davis’s Wheat Belly book.

doughless pizza

Wheat-Free Pizza

1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-to-2 inch pieces

About 3/4 cup of olive oil

2 large eggs

3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Your choice of meat toppings: sausage, pepperoni, ground beef, turkey or pork

12 ounces pizza sauce or 2 cans to tomato paste

Your choice of vegetable toppings: peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped onions, garlic, fresh spinach, mushrooms, olives, etc.

Fresh or dried basil

Fresh or dried oregano

black pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Lightly coat a pizza pan or large rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. (I use parchment paper here.)

In a large pot of boiling water or in a vegetable steamer, cook the cauliflower until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Mash until the cauliflower is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add 1/4 cup of the oil, the eggs and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Mix well.

Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pizza pan and press the “dough” into a flat, pizza-like shape no more than 1/2 inch thick (I made mine thinner, about 1/4 inch thick.) Bake for 20 minutes.

If using ground meat, cook in a skillet until browned and cooked through.

Remove the pizza “crust” from the oven and spread it with pizza sauce or tomato paste, the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, vegetable and meat toppings, basil, oregano and pepper. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil (I used less, about 1/4 cup) and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake until the mozza melts, about 10- 15 minutes.

Cut the pizza into wedges and use a spatula to transfer to plates. Enjoy!

Note: the “dough” will look like real pizza dough but will be too soft to handle with your hands. You will have to use a knife and fork to eat it and you’ll have to be careful when transferring pieces to plates.

doughless pizza

Resource:

Davis, W. (2011) Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find your Path back to Health. New York, NY: Rodale.

doughless pizza

starting seeds with Chayton

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starting seeds

Last year I wasn’t too ambitious in the garden as I knew I would be in my third trimester of my pregnancy in the summer and did not want to be working too long in the hot sun with a big belly and then have a huge harvest to manage right when baby arrived.

plant2With spring just around the corner, Brian and I are really looking forward to getting back to our outdoor projects. These include: restoring our old well pit (which is attached to the basement and will be used as a cold room for root vegetables), landscaping a large fire pit area, putting in a raspberry and strawberry patch, restaining a wooden jungle gym (given to us by Erin and Mitch who used to play on it when they were little. It’s still in great shape!) and beginning phase one of landscaping the “Bird, Butterfly and Bee Garden”, which will do double duty as Chayton’s play area while he is still little. If we get a burst of energy we just may set up our chicken coop and get that going as well.

seeds

In preparation, Chayton and I started some seeds about three weeks ago.

seeds1 seeds

We planted three varieties of heirloom tomatoes, yellow and green zucchini, spaghetti squash, both long and pickling cucumbers,  basil, parley, chives, black-eyed susans and echinacea (purple cone flower). As always, it’s so exciting to see the seeds sprout and watch them grow.

Chayton

It’s even more exciting planting with Chayton as this is his first year helping mom in the garden. I hope that our simple lifestyle will instill in Chayton an appreciation of good food, nature, fresh air, sunshine as well as the fun of growing things yourself!

We plan on planting more seeds this coming week and are looking forward to a new season in the garden!

cucumber sprout

add some sweetness to your savory dishes with caramelized onions

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caramelized onion

Caramelized onions are so easy to make and they only require three ingredients: onions, a bit of olive oil and time.

caramelized onion Start by thinly slicing your onions- use a red or a yellow onion. I like to make a larger batch with about four onions, which fit into my pan nicely.

caramelized onion

Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil (for four onions) in a pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook uncovered, stiring frequently until the onions are translucent. At this point turn the heat down to medium low and continue to slowly cook, stirring frequently. At this point the natural sugars in the onion will begin to caramelize, turning the onions a deep brown color. Watch the onions carefully so that they do not burn. As they onions darken I turn down the heat even more and allow them to cook until they are dark brown and ‘dry’ looking. Overall this takes about 45 minutes to an hour. I like to caramelize onions when I know that I’ll be in the kitchen doing something else for a while. That way I am in no rush.  Caramelized onions are a great example of ‘slow food’ and they are well worth the time.

caramelized onion

caramelized onion

caramelized onion

Serve over poached eggs, with pasta, roast vegetables, on any meat dish, over pizza, or with any mushroom dish.

caramelized onion

Store the caramelized onions in a sealed container in the fridge. Enjoy!

poppy seed dressing

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poppyseed dressing

I discovered this dressing at Maxine’s restaurant in St. Albert, Alberta about 14 years ago. They served this dressing warm over their house tossed salad and I immediately fell in love with it. They sold it by the bottle and I bought a few until I figured out how to make it myself. The restaurant has since closed but I now have the recipe for a great dressing that livens up any salad!

Poppyseed Dressing

1-1/2 cup sugar (I use raw can sugar)

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 tablespoons finely minced onion

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

2 teaspoons dry mustard

2/3 cup white vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

2 cups vegetable oil

Combine sugar, mustard, salt, vinegar and onion in a blender or food processor. Add the oil slowly, processing constantly until thick. Stir in the poppy seeds.

Serve warm over fruit salad or any green salad. Enjoy!

may your days be merry and bright…belated holiday wishes!

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Chayton

Sending out best wishes and happiest New Year to everyone! May 2014 be your best, brightest and most enjoyable year ever! I have a feeling that with a new baby in our lives that this will be ours! There has certainly been many changes as Chayton has enhanced our lives in many ways. As he grows and gives his mommy just a little more hands-free time I will be able to catch up on these blog posts as there is so much to share! I am looking forward to sharing  our projects and adventures with you all!

Chayton and Delena

Also, I want to thank you for your patience with me these past few months. I have not been able to blog these past two months as I was recovering from a fractured rib after slipping on some ice and falling down my back deck stairs. Yes, I was holding baby and thankfully he didn’t have a scratch on him! Thank goodness we are both doing just fine!

coconut fish curry

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fish curry

 

I was browsing through my Clay Pot Cooking cookbook and this recipe caught my eye. This warm spicy dish was perfect on  cold winter’s evening and I will definitely add this recipe to my list of favorites! I used red snapper this time around since that is what I happen to have in my freezer.

Coconut Fish Curry

4 thick fish fillets, such as cod or halibut, cut in half crosswise

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or mustard oil

1 tablespoon mustard seeds (optional)

2 onions, halved and sliced lengthwise

about 2 cups coconut milk, heated

2 red chilies, seeded and sliced

salt and freshly ground pepper

sprigs of cilantro to serve

 

For the ginger chile marinade:

2 tablespoons chile oil

2 tablespoons ginger puree

2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds

 

To make the marinade, mix the oil, ginger and crushed fennel seeds in a shallow dish. Rub the fish with the turmeric then place in the chile oil mixture. Set aside to marinate for 2 hours or overnight.

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the mustard seeds (if using). Cook until they begin to pop. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and golden. Add the fish and cook at a high heat for about 2 minutes. Season to taste.

Add the coconut milk, the remaining marinade and the red chiles. Bring to a boil then transfer to a warmed, glazed clay pot (I used a dutch oven). Simmer in a preheated oven at 450*F for 5-10 minutes until the fish is done. Serve with Jasmine rice with sprigs of cilantro. Enjoy!

Resource:

Petersen-Schepelern, P. (1999). From Tandoori to Tagine: Claypot Cooking. Vancouver, BC: Raincoast Books