Friday, June 23, 2017

Medieval Horsebread

Some odd but delicious and healthy ingredients with a long fermenting sourdough crumb make a history lesson you can REALLY chew on!

Mediaeval Horsebread

One of the best things about my job this year was the ability to completely immerse myself in Medieval culture. From the clothes to the swordplay and chivalry to the dances and jester acts, I was learning alongside my students and kept trying to infuse my enthusiasm into each lesson. While that didn't always work, they were interested in the food!

In preparation for our "dinner theatre" presentation, I spent a lot of time researching the cornerstone of every Medieval citizen's diet - bread. Regardless of class, grains (usually in the form of various breads) provided 65–70% of calories in the early 14th century! Obviously, I love making bread as much as my mom loves to eat it, but in my studies I came across a most unusual formula for the "authentic" peasant bread. Apparently in those ages,there was something of a hierarchy amongst the bread eaters. The "upper crust" (excuse the pun) were given the most refined, smoothest-texture and purest flour for their bread, and the resulting loaves - called manchet - were similar to our "whole wheat" today. Next were the middle class, who didn't get quite the purity in their ground grains, nor the resources to make perfectly smooth doughs with heavy refining. These slightly irregular loaves were called maslin - and in fact about 7 years ago I made some of this myself. It's a perfectly acceptable loaf to taste, and for those who love dark pumpernickel style loaves it is definitely a winner for the table.

Lastly was the bread for the poor, who could only afford the miller's last grinds of the day. These grains were usually a medley of all sorts of grains, seeds and even legumes - the emptying of a grain sack that might have been intended for the horses or cattle - along with the debris swept from the shop floor. Obviously these were not finely milled, nor sieved, and the resulting loaves often required lengthy rising times. This lent a sour flavour to the dough, and even with the extended fermentation the bread was not a high-riser. Dense and hearty, it was sustenance more than anything for the impoverished, who would also feed it to their livestock in times of famine - hence the name horsebread.

Medieval "Horsebread"

It was this type of bread I was interested in creating as an example for my class, who would be able to taste it as part of their lessons. I have to admit that it is a rather sour loaf - which I loved personally - but the texture is unlike anything available today and definitely wouldn't appeal to children. That said, for my family, a smear of honey butter or jam on a freshly oven-warmed slice was the perfect combination while the loaf was around. With just a tad of extra refining, I would eat it again!

Of course, this isn't a complete recreation of Medieval bread baking. However, I loved this resource, which actually details the steps for a more accurate reenactment!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Citrus Glitters #creativecookieexchange

Sweet and tangy, these two-biters are a colourful addition to any cookie platter!

Glittering Citrus and White Chocolate Cherry cookies! #yummy #yum #vegetarian #sweet #cooking #baking #Xmas #cookies #dessert #eeeats

I love when the weather gets warm enough for the plants in my garden to thrive. While the common saying around here is "plant on the May 24 weekend", the last few years (this one included) have been so messed up weatherwise that I'm just glad to have greenery at all! I know Summer has truly arrived when the herbs take off, though - and when they do, oh boy does the garden smell heavenly!

While my herb selection varies slightly year to year, there are always two plants I make sure to include in my planning: catnip and lemon balm. Catnip is an obvious choice to those who know my family and our bevy of felines - there is nothing funnier than watching them with their "leaves"! Lemon balm is my personal favourite - I love anything lemony, and a few leaves torn into salad, ground into pesto or stuffed into a chicken add such a light kiss of flavour.

Recently, I started toying with the idea of using lemon balm in desserts. Rather, I should say I thought about using it in desserts again - after making these cookies I discovered that I had actually made almost the exact same recipe back in 2011 (that version, though, is gluten free). I don't remember the flavour of those ones, but these were phenomenal - the right amount of lemon flavour with a hint of "green" herbal notes, texture from cornmeal and coarse sugar and a melt-in-your-mouth experience due to the low gluten content of the dough. This batter was even delicious unbaked... not that I advocate that necessarily (but quality control!!).

That said, I still consider these to be more of a "grown up" cookie. The little ones just might not want anything to do with the bits of green in their treats!

All those beautiful herbs growing in the garden are our inspiration this month’s #CreativeCookieExchange. We tend to think of herbs as an ingredient for savory dishes, but they are truly wonderful in baked goods too. Cookies infused with an earthy herbal note are truly a delight to be enjoyed at any time - and are seriously addictive - so 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:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Snickery Springform Cookie #SundaySupper

A springform pan is the perfect vessel for this giant, chewy, Snickers-filled chocolate cookie. A dusting of sugar on the top adds a little extra sweetness.

Snickery Springform Cookie

Father’s Day is upon us. For the past few years, it's been a bittersweet day for my sister and I - a period where we celebrate having an amazing dad who would do anything for us (sometimes we don't even need to ask!) and where we remember our grandfather, who passed away on the morning after father's day a few short years ago. Ironically, both these men in our lives seem more and more similar as the years go on, even though they were not related to each other. Both manage to exhibit the utmost kindness to everyone, regardless of their "place" in society. Both have experience with some of life's scarier curveballs - diabetes, hypertension, and cancer were either personal struggles or those of loved ones. Both are fans of banana bread, pumpkin pie and my mom's stroganoff, and both can maneuver a truck and trailer back and forth across the country as well as down south of the border without issue. 

In honour of my dad, who also has a fondness for peanuts and caramel, I cooked up this "cookie-cake" - essentially a giant cookie in a springform pan. While not exactly a health food wonder, it's a holiday treat - and it serves a crowd, so in reality the sugar load isn't too heavy per serving. Peanut flour adds a nice richness that pairs well with the combination of fats, while the chunks of Snickers added toothsome chew and decadence to the pan. The worst part is waiting for it to cool before you can slice it into wedges - although I strongly recommend warming theach wedge up before serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Snickery Springform Cookie

Sides Dad Will Love


Mains for the Main Man


Dad’s Favorite Desserts

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.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pepper Braised Chicken

Braised Chicken Legs with Peppers, Mushrooms, Onions and Carrots. Hearty, wholesome and GREAT for perfuming the house! Adapted from The Food Lab

Pepper Braised Chicken

Last week was a long one for this household - especially for me. It started off on Monday, with my class' dress rehearsal for their Medieval "dinner theatre" production... a feat which sucked up the morning, and for lack of a better phrase, chewed it up, spat it out and washed it down the sink with bleach.

Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad, but it was close. I'm trying not to be oversensitive (I wrote and directed the action myself, wrote the recipes and cooked 3/4 of the meal) but I remember putting in massive effort as a kid, and these guys just... didn't. Oh well. The "real" production that night was overall an enjoyable one for the parents, which was the point! I haven't forgotten to share the recipe for the dessert, I just need to get around to it!

After the drama with the drama (as it were), our group packed up and shipped off for our year-end extended field trip. It sounded fun - a sports camp complete with zipline and kayaking. What the brochure failed to mention was the blackflies. Bug spray, layered clothing and mad swatting was of no use - we all came home on Friday (in the rain) exhausted and looking like we had a bad case of the measles.

Thankfully, with those 7 days behind us, there are only 5 or so left to get through before this school year is in the books. Until then, I've turned to cooking comforting meals for both myself and the family - it's the best type of therapy there is!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Medieval Gingerbread Castle Façade

This impressive twist on the gingerbread house features a sugar cookie base with gingerbread crumbs and sanding sugar for "dirt" and "grass", cake sparkles for "water" and both royal icing and melted chocolate for glue!

Gingerbread Castle Façade

It's almost over.

After spending many months researching, drafting, crafting, rehearsing, singing and cooking, the curtains go up on our year end play - which I (sometimes not so) fondly consider my year end play - this Monday. Looking back on everything my co-teacher, my mom and I have done since February when I started writing the script, it still seems impossible that we have all the pieces for a successful dinner theatre on hand.

One of the elements of our meal that was going to be part of the show was this Medieval Gingerbread Castle Façade. While already impressively large, the full recipe for the castle was about 7 times larger and incorporated more walls, towers and a drawbridge! As it was, creating this "façade" took many weeks to put together - each wall section was hand cut with (dedicated) pottery tools, "glued" together with brown royal icing and melted chocolate, decorated with sprinkles and sanding sugar to make "ivy" and "moss" and finally attached to the sugar cookie base. The base was then scattered with gingerbread crumbs and sanding sugar for "dirt" and "grass" and cake sparkles for "water".


While I never proclaim to be a professional anything, I am quite proud of this construction. Not only does it look like it belongs in the "ye olde" era, it tastes delicious too - and since it's glazed with a confectioner's "shellac" (vodka and corn syrup) it takes a long time to stale. Good thing too, since unless you're feeding a Great Hall plowing through this much cookie will take a while!

If you noticed, I said this castle was going to be part of our show. Truth is, it was simply too much work to put together even the façade, and the completed piece would be bigger than any cookie sheet or cake board I own. Instead, I kept this castle as a showpiece and made little pastries for our dessert instead. You'll see that recipe sometime soon, since it was a hit with both friends and family who taste tested my trials!


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Homemade "End of the Season" Ketchup #sundaysupper

Need to "catch up" to your tomatoes? Make a kid-friendly, totally dunkable ketchup! 


Are you part of a "ketchup" family? 

At any given time, we have at least three bottles of the stuff on the go in our fridge: my sister's "normal" ketchup which is replaced at least twice a month (it also has to be the store brand, not brand name, at all costs), my stepdad's sugar free variety which isn't used much, but is there "just in case", and whatever my latest homemade rendition of the condiment is. I'm not a huge fan of the red stuff myself (mustard is more my thing), but working at a school has given me a huge respect for it's ability to override any culinary grievances the under-12 set might have at the table. 

At the end of last year's growing season, I kept the ketchup game fairly simple. After a relatively horrible growing season (marred by both poor weather and voles), I took advantage of the fruit left on the vines that remained along with a few key spices to make a spoonable, drizzle-able, dunkable sauce. Aside from the tomatoes, I brought a new favourite to the party: monkeyface peppers.

Looking as weird as their name, monkeyface peppers have a fruity zing to them, like a mango kissed by a jalapeno. I don't find them spicy, although they're labeled as such, and when cooked into a sauce, stew or chutney their unique flavour lifts up the overall dish, which could otherwise be heavy on the stomach, too spicy or too sweet. As a bonus, these peppers make glorious pickled cucumber ingredients, and while I didn't dry any, I would definitely try that out too. Of course, since monkeyface peppers are kind of a specialty item, they can be hard to find (although I strongly suggest growing them yourself!). In that case, I would substitute Hungarian wax peppers (1 hot, 1 sweet) or cubanelles.

Ketchup isn't the only grilling staple out there, obviously! While it will remain a constant here, a Summer cookout for me is not complete without some Spicy Garlic Dill pickles, Sweet Relish and  Dijon Mustard. Other places have BBQ sauce as their butter-to-their-bread, and there are a lot of them to choose from! Here's this list from Sunday Supper, along with a host of other great BBQ recipes from this week's gang:
  • Texas Style – Often thought of as the quintessential BBQ sauce, this ketchup-based sauce has all the classic barbecue flavors. With lots of brown sugar, this sauce usually satisfies even the pickiest of eaters.
  • Carolina – This vinegar-based sauce really gives your pork and chicken recipes a kick of flavor! Also made in a mustard variety, the Carolina BBQ sauces cater to the more sophisticated palate that love that punch of acid!
  • Kansas City – Thick and tangy Kansas City BBQ sauce is known for a touch of molasses. The key to a true Kansas City barbecue is the low and slow cooking that makes their meats irresistible!
  • Alabama White Sauce – This mayo based BBQ sauce has a touch of chili and lots of vinegar tang. Not only is it great for pork and chicken, it can be used to add flavor to your barbecue salad!
  • Korean BBQ – With an Asian flavor, Korean Style BBQ is becoming all the rage. Adding sesame, soy sauce, and ginger to your traditional BBQ sauce transforms it into a totally different dish. If you like Korean BBQ, you’ll love #SundaySupper's Barbecue Pork Noodles


Best Burgers and Sandwiches


Grill Master Mains


Mop Worthy Sauces


Searing Starters and Sides


Sizzling 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.

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


Sides and Salads


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.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Rooibos-Infused Cornbread with @adagiotea

The Splendid Table's Cornbread, made with buttermilk infused with @adagioteas Vanilla Rooibos tea. Not super sweet but a great all purpose snack or side!

The Splendid Table's Cornbread, made with buttermilk infused with @adagioteas Vanilla Rooibos tea. Not super sweet but a great all purpose #snack or side! #yummy #yum #vegetarian #food #buttermilk #corn #cornbread #baked #easy #delicious #foooood

As much as I adore coffee (and truly, I don't know many teachers who don't have it running through their veins), I also have a deeply entrenched love for tea. But not just any tea - I have never really liked any form of "black" leaves, except in sweetened, lemon iced tea, and I am excessively picky about white, rooibos and mate styles. No, I'm definitely one who gravitates to herbal tisanes and green teas, and if my pantry is any evidence I like variety! My mom and sister are also bona fide tea grannies, T preferring the various blacks while Mom is pretty much "go with the flow" in her selection. When the kind folks at Adagio Teas asked if I would be interested in trying out some of their line and giving them my thoughts, I jumped at the chance!

I dove into their massive selection (they also offer users to make their own custom tea blends - amazing!) and selected a bunch that sounded too good to be true. Over a few weeks, I broke into most of the samples. Note: I "oversteep" all my tea - usually about 10 mins or more for herbals and green tea.

A new flavour of @adagioteas in my cup this afternoon... Mango Melange! I live mangoes and this is a great balance of tart and #sweet. The mango flavour is more on the aftertaste of a sip, lemon being more forthright, but it's a wonderful herbal tisane ei
I love mangoes and this is a great balance of tart and sweet. The mango flavour is more on the aftertaste of a sip, lemon being more forthright, but it's a wonderful herbal tisane regardless. 

Genmaicha has always been my favourite green tea, and I love how finely porous the bags from Adagio were. The bags made a cup of tea so convenient to make, and they are perfectly filled for optimal filtering. 

Dewy Cherry
Bad photo but delicious tea! Dewy Cherry is like drinking a warm, liquid snowcone, but not sticky sweet. Again this I ordered in their teabags, which are super convenient and steep the tea leaves perfectly.

Sour Apple tea from @adagioteas
Not nearly as flavourful as it smells, but a good mixer for other teas (I'm blending it with a sencha-matcha tea). Can't wait to try it iced!

Then there was the Rooibos Vanilla. Not being a fan of rooibos in general, I avoided tasting this "neat". However, I was pleasantly surprised with how well this tea accented other flavours - namely a ginger-spice blend I had previously, and an orange herbal tea my mom had. The latter combination is fabulous - think creamsicle!

What I really liked about this rooibos was that it made for a spectacular cooking ingredient. I don't often do tea-infused things, but after the Chai - Scotti was such a success I figured I would give it a whirl. We love our cornbread, and usually ours is on the sweet side. Knowing the tea has a penchant for being somewhat saccharine, and the vanilla flavour would only enhance that nuance, I looked for a recipe without a ton of sugar. I stumbled on the Splendid Table's recipe and figured I would give it a go, steeping the tea in buttermilk and using maple sugar instead of plain white.

Right out of the oven, the smell is divine - and deceptive! The aromas of the tea and the hint of maple really give the impression that this is a dessert-style quickbread, but once it cools down enough to taste, the flavours are delightfully subtle. It served as a mid-day snack for Mom with some cheese, and amply accompanied a bowl of chili the next night.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tortilla Pie

Veggies, beans, ground chicken and whole grain tortillas stack up for a "burrito-cake" kids and adults love! 

Tortilla Pie

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I realize it's late in the day to be sharing a recipe for the holiday, but in my books there is never a bad time for Mexican (or in this case, Tex-Mex) food. With few exceptions, this cuisine seems to be passable, if not delicious, warm or cold - I can fondly remember piling cold fajita-marinated tofu and veggies into a pita one night for dinner in university, and more than once eating chicken mole and cold rice out of the fridge during a late night study session. Most of these meals, being sauce based, also take kindly to reheating, which make them OAMC cooks' dreams!

One of the easiest to make and (generally) all-pleasing Tex-Mex meals I've made in a long time is this Tortilla Pie. Essentially all the fixings of a burrito (except rice, which IMHO doesn't belong there anyway) are layered into a springform pan, topped with cheese and baked into a cohesive, "tortillasagna". Served hot or room temperature, wedges are packed with the rich flavours of meat, beans and spices, the sharpness of the cheese and the toasty, wheaty tortillas. My grade 7's and 8's were able to prepare this almost 100% on their own (I did about half the skillet work while they were chopping) and demolished the pans within 30 minutes of coming out of the oven. Not bad for a meal filled with veggies, lean meat, and beans! The old Cheddar really makes the dish sing, since it brightens up the heaviness of the meat and bean mixture, but if you truly hate aged cheese, a pepper-Jack would be good, or something like Oaxaca.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Blueberry-Chocolate Jicamuffins #SundaySupper

A topping of Nature's Path Organic Love Crunch® Dark Chocolate Macaroon cereal makes these secretly healthy, gluten free Jicamuffins decadent!

Blueberry Chocolate "Jicamuffins"

Wow, April is almost over! I for one am glad to see it go - it's been a rough month - but more than saying goodbye to the fourth month I'm anticipating the warmth, sunshine and growing season May begins to develop in earnest. One of my favourite things about May is the opportunity to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which I love doing even though I'm not Mexican, nor do I live in the US where celebrations are more common. For the uninitiated, May 5 celebrates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War, and heralds parties across America if not so much south of the border. 

Unless you happen to be in the small Mexican community in Toronto, Mexican food is summed up as guacamole, nachos, tacos and the occasional quesadilla. However, there's so much more to "real" Mexican cuisine, including a bevy of fruit and vegetables! This past year or so, I rediscovered my love for jicama - a sweet, crunchy, semi-starchy root vegetable that is awesome raw in salads and slaws as well as prime for making oven fries or "country potatoes" when sprinkled with a bit of steak seasoning. Because their flavour profile is on the sweeter side of things, I often wondered how it would fare in baking - not so much flavour-wise, but in terms of texture. Unlike carrots, jicama is full of inulin - a fibre that helps regulate digestion and enhances the absorption of calcium. With that much fibre (5g in just over 3oz) I worried it wouldn't break down enough to lend moisture to a cake or cupcakes. After all, it doesn't break down into sauce when cooked on the stove!

I decided to try it regardless, after finding a recipe for jicama muffins on Food Fanatic. I kept things GF with my own flour blend, amping up the flavour with chocolate chips and butterscotch schnapps. Rather than "regular" sized muffins (what fun is there in that?) I Texas-sized them, topping each with a sprinkle of Nature's Path Organic Love Crunch® Dark Chocolate Macaroon cereal. Decadent? You bet. But in a way that is (sort of) good for you too!

Our #SundaySupper host for this week's Cinco de Mayo celebration is Shelby from Grumpy’s Honeybunch. Thanks, Shelby!







Sides and Sauces





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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.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sweet Potato Crackers

These deliciously crisp crackers are 100% gluten free and vegan, with the goodness of sweet potato too!

Sweet Potato Crackers

A throwback to the dieting days of my teens is the die-hard "knowledge" that dry snacks (read: chips, crackers, rice cakes) were bad and dehydrating, and never slaked your hunger. Lucky for me, I guess, that I never really liked those things anyways - notable exceptions being for Triscuits after school and saltines when I was too sick to eat anything else. Crackers and potato chips just felt like a non-filling waste of time (and calories) when I could just as easily smear some Nutella or peanut butter on a slice of bread and make a fold-over sandwich.

However, I know I'm in a relative minority. I look at my grade 4-6 class, for example, and spot baggies of microwave popcorn, chips, Bugles and Goldfish in over half the lunchboxes. While a good third of the class will ignore the morning snack option most days, if crackers and dip are on offer? Gone in a flash. Since my mom is in the same camp, and everyone loves sweet potatoes, when I saw this recipe on Frugal Farm Wife it seemed like a perfect mixture of favourites!

By making my flour blend with sorghum and chickpea flour, these crackers had a hefty dose of protein and B vitamins injected into their makeup. This not only helped out the nutritional profile, but improved the texture by helping the dough stick together a bit more and prevent the "sawdust" mouthfeel of so many GF baked foods.

The original recipe's author said these reminded her of Wheat Thins. I've never liked Wheat Thins, which is great - because these tasted nothing like the cardboardy, weirdly salty snacks I grew up with. If you're a fan of sweet potato fries, though - this is in your wheelhouse. A less greasy, crunchier sweet potato treat, true, but the nuances are there. I liked them plain personally (but I don't like "stuff" on each other in general) but I can imagine they'd be good with a cream cheese type of dip or even guacamole. No sweet potato (or you hate it / are allergic to it)? Use an equal measure of  pumpkin or any other winter squash. Heck, even pureed carrots would likely work! Let me know if you try those substitutions so I can update the recipe!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Very Veggie Vegan Muffins

A slow roasted applesauce, along with homemade pumpkin and carrot purees, made up the base of these vegan spice muffins, which are crowned with cereal crunchies. The other secret? Cane sugar ginger ale!

Very Veggie Spice Muffins

Easter always brings out the first carrot cakes of the year. The perfect marriage of new growing vegetation and the warming spices of fall and winter, a carrot cake is one of the most delicious ways to bridge the seasons. Of course, I have more than a few carrot cake / cupcake / doughnut recipes on this blog, and by and large they use grated fresh carrots. But I found myself in the situation with leftover cooked carrots languishing in the fridge that nobody would eat (including me - I hate cooked carrots except in soup). 

Rather than toss them (my finances have recently tightened a bit), I decided to clean out the rest of the fridge and see what I found. Turns out I had all the makings of a batch of hearty, healthy and delicious muffins! Laced with ginger ale and spiked with spices and a whisper of both maple and vanilla extracts, they required no egg or dairy to come together into a moist, full-flavoured package. Wrapped individually and frozen, they're great to throw in a lunchbox for mid-afternoon, or split and toast them lightly before topping with (vegan) butter or cream cheese for a decadent breakfast!

Friday, April 14, 2017

'Neep Cakes

These spiced sesame and date muffins have a secret ingredient... Turnip puree! Trust me - you'd never know, and they are to die for!  

'Neep Cakes

Vegetables in muffins and cupcakes is nothing new - certainly not on this blog for sure - and they have an uncanny ability to blend nutrition, moisture and a hint of flavour into every bite. From experience, mixing veggies into dessert is a great way to get even the most loathed of the crops (looking at you, beets, radish greens, cauliflower, parsnips and let's not forget kale) to taste delicious and in some cases even convert the haters. 

One of the root veggies I have been rather slow to embrace is the turnip. I've tried (and enjoyed) raw Tokyo turnips bought on a whim at the farmer's market, but truth be told I prefer radishes, and I wasn't a huge fan of their flavour when roasted. I'm told I come by it honestly - my mother and grandmother hate them as well, but like rutabaga (as do I), so when I was faced with leftover roots that I couldn't bring myself to eat, I looked around for a way to make them delicious - even for all of us!

Eventually I came across These Things I Love, who had a great sounding recipe (and story) for turnip cupcakes. I was intrigued, so switched around a few ingredients. The result is not gluten free, but maintains the veganism of the original, and uses less sugar and margarine. To make up for the missing fat, I turned to hyper-flavourful roasted tahini, and added sesame seeds and dates for texture. The results didn't need frosting or a glaze - the sprinkling of raw sugar was perfect all on its own. The best part? These muffin-cupcakes don't taste like turnip at all, just warming from the spices, a little nutty and a tiny bit earthy. Definitely a great way to enjoy them!

Shared with Foodie Friday

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rosemary and Cabernet Salt Focaccia #BreadBakers

Rosemary and Cabernet Salt top this yeast-free, lightning fast, whole wheat focaccia. A touch of sourdough starter adds a delicate tang as well.

Rosemary and Cabernet Salt Focaccia

As insane as the last third of the school year tends to be - filled with plays, trips and the inevitable report cards - one thing remains constant: people have to eat! Along with the hearty, soothing braises and soups I've been cooking up these days, bread always has a place on our table. Nothing is more comforting to a household filled mostly with carboholics, especially when it's homemade!

Of course, because our schedules are so packed (not to mention wonky) these days, making "traditional" yeasted loaves has taken a backseat. Instead, I've whipped up a few "quick" style loaves (think Irish Soda) and this focaccia, which shares a similar set of basic ingredients and method to this Floral Grape and Lemon Focaccia, albeit savoury. As this was going to be more of a "side dish" bread rather than a sweet loaf, I turned to some of my favourite flavour-packed pantry items: home dried rosemary from last year's garden, a bottle of basil-infused extra virgin olive oil that I was given at Christmas, and a sprinkle of my vibrant Cabernet Salt. Together with a hint of my sourdough starter's tang, the crusty flatbread was perfect for slicing into fingers and dipping into herbed oil as a starter or sopping up the last dregs of soup!

What do you make / eat when life gets crazy?

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to

Rosemary and Cabernet Salt Focaccia