Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gluten Free Chewy Chocolate Chippers #creativecookieexchange

These gluten free Chewy Chocolate Chippers get an extra pop of texture from coarse sugar and kosher salt.

Chewy Chocolate Chippers

"If you are anything like us, your freezer will always be stocked with logs of frozen cookie dough."

When I read that line in Aran's post "When muscovado sugar and fleur de sel make the best chocolate chip cookies" on Cannelle et Vanille, I was hooked. While I don't exactly go out of my way to do it, it's hard to go into any of our 3(!) freezers or a fridge without stumbling onto some sort of homemade treat, fully cooked or in dough form. For example, this moment I have peanut butter and chocolate eggs in the fridge, along with chocolate chip cookie dough, orange-chocolate ganache, ice cream, a peach pie, two fruitcakes, 24 bran muffin batter pucks and a dozen apple cinnamon muffins hanging out in the freezer. This afternoon, I baked off a batch of cookie batter that had been chilling in the fridge for 5 days, just to avoid putting that in the freezer. It's madness, I know!

However, around the holidays, batches and batches of cookie dough living in the freezer routinely save my butt. After all, I give out gift baskets of homemade goodies each year as my gifts, and with only one mixer (two if you count our antique hand beater), one oven and limited bowls it's not practical to be making everything from Step 1 the day before. Freezing dough - especially cookie dough - is also beneficial when working with whole grain or gluten free recipes that benefit greatly from an extended rest period. During the time it takes to freeze, then thaw during baking, the proteins relax significantly and the grains hydrate, allowing for soft, never-gritty, perfectly spreading cookies on bake day.

Frozen dough also transports better - especially plastic-wrapped logs that are stored in paper tubes (I put "big" cookies in bottle shipping tubes that I got when I ordered coffee syrup, and "small" two biters in paper towel rolls). Stacked in a cooler with a few ice packs, they will stay more or less frozen on short car rides, and the tube keeps any thawed dough in the proper shape. The rolls also allow you to just push out the amount of dough you need to slice off per cookie, keeping the round shape of the remaining dough intact. Perfect for toting to the trailer, the cottage, or even (if you're lucky enough to have one) the beach house!

So slice off a cookie or two, pack a sandwich and a refreshing drink while they bake and grab your picnic gear. Summer is almost here!


Summer means long lazy days, vacations, and if you are lucky, somewhere relaxing where you can put your feet up and and tune out for a while. Cookies can be the perfect snack any time of the day - yes, cookies for breakfast are a thing. Whether you bake up a quick batch whilst on vacation or decide to bring the dough with you ready-made, we’ve got a great list for you to choose from!

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sweet Thai Chili Sauce

Fiery Thai chilies are buffered with sugar and concentrated apple cider and set with Clear Jel for a perfect dipping sauce anytime!

The last of the #thaichillies found a home in a Sweet Thai Chili Sauce! #yum #vegan #growyourown #garden #vegetables #spicy #cooking #foodstagram #canning

As a kid, I went  through a major "plum sauce and chili flake" phase. No dinner plate was sacred - burgers, rice, veggies and proteins all got a dose of the sweet-spicy combination. It wasn't until I got older that I discovered that the combination had basically already been created for me - in a perfect melange known as Sweet Thai Chili Sauce.

While it is almost universally available in the grocery stores, Sweet Thai Chili Sauce is also ridiculously easy to make. Since I grew (and dried) Thai birds-eye peppers last year, I was thrilled to find a recipe for my favourite sauce on Canning Homemade, which I proceeded to modify until I was satisfied - namely adding some boiled apple cider syrup I had on hand. As soon as the mixture hit the heat, you could definitely tell there was spice going on - keep the windows open and turn on the fan! The mixture was perfectly thickened to a "dippable" consistency with ClearJel, which I used because I was canning the sauce and it's a safe thickener to use. If I was making the sauce and using it within a few weeks, though, I'd stick to tapioca starch or, in a pinch, regular cornstarch.

Thy name is liquid fire #cooking #cookingwithheat #thaichillies #yum #food #foodstagram #growyourown #garden #vegetables #spicy

After cooking and cooling, this sauce is ready for anything - my personal favourite is on steamed broccoli, asparagus or fiddleheads, but it's also killer on sauteed cabbage, grilled fish, shrimp or tofu and stirred into plain rice.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nocciolata e Fiordifrutta Bread Pudding @RigoniAsiagoUSA & @NocciolataUSA

No bread should go wasted - this bread pudding is filled with the rich flavours of chocolate hazelnut spread and orange marmalade, heightened with the use of a blended-nut mylk and a sprinkle of chocolate chips! 

Because no bread should go wasted...

As much as we love our bread here, there are occasions when simply no more of it will fit our freezers, fridges and bread bins. During the Winter, we really only have this issue around Thanksgiving and Christmas, when dinner rolls, stale half-loaves from stuffing, Challah and brioche abound. However, once the weather warms up and the BBQ emerges from it's cover our house is filled with hamburger and sausage buns, stale slices drying out for breadcrumbs, and soft slabs waiting for al fresco sandwich lunches.

Whenever we host a BBQ - which seems to be at least three times a month - Mom goes and buys one of the biggest bags of Kaisers and panini buns I've seen. Of course, we only tend to have three or so guests at a time, which means we then need to find places to stash the 5 or 6 mini-loaf sized buns. Sometimes we can make them fit in our (poorly designed, IMHO) upright freezer, but when we can't, they sit neglected on the counter, slowly curing into rock hard "torpedoes". Since I can't stand to waste food when it can be avoided, I grate a lot of the hard bread into breadcrumbs or toast up croutons. Occasionally though, I need to make something sweet and comforting - and bread pudding fits the bill.


Now I have to admit I was definitely selfish in making this bread pudding recipe - a while back the kind folks at Rigoni di Asiago sent me a few jars of their spreads to try out, and since bread is a perfectly neutral base I figured it would be a perfect foil to allow the flavours to shine. The first jar I cracked was a lovely Seville orange marmalade - I'm not an orange "stuff" lover in general (I prefer the fruit au natural) but this was very fresh tasting and not "gummy" like some marmalades can be. The sub-label for Rigoni di Asiago's fruit spreads, called Fiordifrutta, is sweetened only with apple juice (no white sugar) and set with natural fruit pectin. With no added flavours, aromas or colours, the company processes the spreads at room temperature to preserve the naturally occurring tastes and fragrances of the freshly-picked fruit.

The other jar I knew would be a family favourite. Nocciolata is a chocolate hazelnut spread just like the ubiquitous Nutella, but with no chemicals, no artificial flavors, no GMOs and absolutely zero palm oil. Instead, it contains
cane sugar*, hazelnut paste*, sunflower oil*, skim milk powder*, cocoa powder*, cocoa butter*, sunflower lecithin, vanilla extract* (* = organically farmed)
The flavour, according to the Nutella aficionado in the house, is slightly less sweet and nuttier than the "other" guys, and the chocolate is an accenting flavour rather than the dominant one. In other words, this is a HAZELNUT spread with chocolate, not the other way around. This will likely appeal more to the adults in the room, especially if the children have sweet teeth, but it is still delicious in its own right.
Because no bread should go wasted... @rigoniasiagousa Nocciolata and Fiordifrutta bread pudding. #yummy #yum #vegetarian #bread #baked #easy #sweet #cooking #❤️baking #dessert #breadpudding #nowaste

Together, the two spreads along with eggs, a multi-nut "mylk" and flaxseed made a perfectly silky custard that soaked into the stale buns and infused each bite with flavour. A sprinkle of chocolate chips on top crowned the achievement and begged to be cut into. By the end of the day not a speck was left, and even the "dessert phobes" at work were sold.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Chicken and Avocado Pasta Salad with @litehousefoods & @barillaus

A flavour packed (and one pot!) chicken pasta salad made with Litehouse Avocado Dip and Barilla Gluten Free elbow pasta. Amazingly delicious - you'd never know it was gluten free!  

A flavour packed chicken pasta salad - made with @litehousefoods avocado dip and @barillaus gluten free elbow pasta. Amazing - you'd never know it was #glutenfree ! #yum #yummy #healthy #vegetables #olives #tomatoes #pasta #pastasalad #avocado #zucchini #


With the Summer coming around - finally - we're slowly starting to transition away from the heavier, heartier mid-day meals and into lighter fare. While we are nowhere near harvesting our own tomatoes, peppers and zucchini from the backyard plots yet (my plants are still inside, albeit very happy), we're clamoring for the fresh flavours after a long winter and cold, rainy spring.

Victoria Day is coming up this weekend, and many of us are going to various BBQs, patio parties or simple al fresco meals where a "potluck" is taking place. Speaking from experience, potlucks are great in theory, and in practice if you have no food restrictions, but for those with allergies or celiac the buffet table can prove problematic. When Barilla sent me a few boxes of their Gluten Free Pasta
at the same time as a shipment of delicious dips from Litehouse Foods (which are almost exclusively gluten free as well) came to my door, I immediately wondered how I could combine the two into one spectacular take-along dish. I had a wealth of choices for both pasta and dips - all the basic noodle shapes (spaghetti, elbows, rotini, penne and fettuccine) are part of the Barilla line, and are free of not only gluten, but animal products, nuts, peanuts, soy and GMOs. The dips were a mixture of classics (like Caesar and Ranch) and unique (dill and avocado). All of them (and their descriptions) are below:


This thick and creamy dip is the perfect blend of real avocado, sour cream, lime juice, spices and a little kick from chopped jalapenos. It is a great dip for chips, and a natural complement for Mexican food, or to spread on a BLT instead of mayonnaise.


One of our most popular flavors, this creamy dip is a blend of sour cream, real dill and spices. Excellent as a veggie or chip dip, it is also a great addition to grilled salmon!



Just the right mix of sour cream, buttermilk, garlic and onion.  Add a savory kick to your chips and veggies!



Our famous Homestyle Ranch is a delicious combination of fresh herb and vegetable flavors.  This traditional favorite is sure to please your family!  Treat your family by serving Litehouse Homestyle Ranch with dinner tonight!


A robust Caesar with lots of garlic, Parmesan and just the right touch of anchovy. Our quality ingredients and taste make this dressing the perfect complement to your Caesar salad. 

Since Mom loves all things avocado, and those fruits are getting mighty pricey at the supermarket, I decided to make a somewhat Tex-Mex take on a classic pasta salad. The avocado dip contains egg yolks, just like traditional mayonnaise, but also sour cream which lightens up the flavour considerably and definitely classifies it as a "Summer" treat - I can see it paired with black beans and cheese in tacos or drizzled over grilled fish too.

In the interest of quick cooking and minimal clean up, I decided to give this pasta salad a "one pot" approach. Everything from cooking the chicken to cooking the pasta was done in a large pot and added successively to a mixing bowl before being topped with the dip and tossed. This also ensured that dressing met ingredients while they were still warm and receptive to flavours - a key to any good pasta salad! Being fairly experienced with gluten free pasta, I made sure to taste the pasta as it cooked, ready to pull it before the 7 minutes the macaroni box stated it took to become al dente - and to my taste, 6 minutes was perfect (my sister likes softer pasta and preferred 7). Either way, heavily salting the water like you would "normal" pasta truly elevates the flavours, adding an almost "buttery" note hinted at by the corn in the noodle dough.

The real punch of flavour and colour in this salad comes from the medley of vegetables, which are infinitely variable as you have available. I chose a fairly standard "Tex-Mex" mix of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, green onions and olives, which brought sweet, salty, tangy and spicy elements and even brighter colours. These vegetables also keep relatively well in the fridge as a salad, which allows you to make a big batch in advance and go at it over the week.

A plethora of veggies for a chicken pasta salad - made with @litehousefoods avocado dip and @barillaus gluten free elbow pasta
A plethora of veggies for a chicken pasta salad - made with @litehousefoods avocado dip and @barillaus gluten free elbow pasta

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Japanese Chicken Curry #SundaySupper

Homemade Japanese Curry Chicken WIN! The perfect balance of savoury, sweet, tangy and bitter, packed with umami and 100% from scratch. No roux, no prefab curry powder, and even gluten free to boot!

Oh my Lord what #recipe is this devil magic?? Homemade #Japanese #Curry #Chicken WIN! The perfect balance of savoury, sweet, tangy and bitter, packed with #umami and 100% from scratch. No roux, no prefab curry powder, and even #glutenfree to boot! #yummy

I know I've gone on and on and on about it time and again, but if there's one type of dish my mom can't get enough of, it's curry. I don't just mean your turmeric-stained yellow stuff either - although that is certainly on the "yes" list. Pick any curry-making region you can think of, and you can bet Mom will want a taste.

Our first experience with Japanese curry was actually about a year ago, when we went to a sushi and Japanese cuisine restaurant for my birthday. After ordering what was simply labeled "chicken curry" on the menu, Mom was surprised to receive a huge, steaming bowl of thick, dark and intensely aromatic stew with chunks of carrot, potato and chicken alongside a bowl of rice. A few spoonfuls later and she was sold - but we had no idea how to go about making it at home. After all, curry powder is British-Indian, not even vaguely Japanese in style, right?

It'll cure what ails you! Japanese curry powder I made for a cold-exorcising Japanese chicken curry, made 100%  from scratch. No roux! #yummy #yum #vegetarian #spicy #curry #eeeeeats #spicemix #japanese #food #vegan #glutenfree

Well, it turns out that Japanese curry is actually more or less based in a cube mix rather than an ornate blend of spices. Unfortunately, finding that pre-made roux is all but impossible around me, and I had no idea how to recreate the bouillon-like medley. However, I couldn't leave my dream of recreating one of my mom's favourte meals go cold, so I began Googling right after that fateful dinner, finally landing on No Recipes. There, I found a completely from-scratch formula for what I was looking for, along with a handy hint - the key to a really great Japanese curry is in the caramelized onions. Well, those I can do, and I do a lot.

Of course, I did modify a few things along the way - I didn't have apples at home, so an Asian pear stood in admirably. I made my own Chunou sauce too, because there was no way my "white bread" superstore would have heard of it if I haven't. I also left out the peas (forgot about them on grocery day) and decided to thicken the works with Veloutine instead of a roux (yeah, sacrilege, I know) because I'm lazy and didn't want to babysit and watch another pot. I've provided both methods, so go with your preference.

More #MothersDay treats for #SundaySupper are below. Our host this week is Amy from My Wolrd Simplified

Chocolate Treats

Entrees

Sides and Salads

Sweets

Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.