Monday, October 8, 2018

Apple Crisp for One

Apple Crisp for One is buttery, sweet and full of apple-y goodness, all while being gluten free!


Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to everyone! While today I am deliberately doing no cooking (the kitchen has been usurped in favour of turkey / stuffing / potatoes, etc), I did have a chance to whip up a few little Thanksgiving-y desserts. The first round of baking featured mini-versions of my "famous" apple butter pumpkin pie - one for yesterday's feast with Dad, the other for my boyfriend's mom. Now, I'm really not a fan of pumpkin pie at all (yeah yeah, I know), my mom's apple pie has always been the perfect ending to fall dinners. She doesn't add sugar, uses a simple, shortening-based crust, and packs each pie with as many apples as she can fit. 

That said, while tonight will feature mom's signature pie, not everyone is a fan of the dessert. The boyfriend (A) is one person who doesn't enjoy pie crust, and loves his fillings sticky-sweet. So, instead of leaving him dessert-less this holiday, yesterday I whipped up an apple crisp perfect for one, fitting neatly into a little stoneware ramekin. While the methodology of crisp-making remained the same, I added a few little flairs of my own. First, since A is lactose intolerant, I used a fantastic lactose free butter I found - it tasted like European style cultured butter but wasn't labeled as such. The second thing I did was to change up the filling a bit. Instead of your standard sugar-flour combination, I used honey, cornstarch, a pinch of nutmeg and a dash of vanilla. Finally, I bumped up the protein in the "crisp" portion by swapping out the all-purpose flour for red lentil flour that I had ground in my Mockmill - it adds no taste, but adds a lovely colour and extra nutrition.

Apple Crisp for One

At any rate, this apple crisp is a satisfying, early-fall comfort food that not only is perfect for Thanksgiving dessert but even a decadent breakfast! What is your favourite fall dessert? Comment below!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Homemade Banana-Oatmeal Meal Replacement Shake

Sometimes we just don’t have the time to prepare a healthy breakfast or lunch. We could grab a snack and go but within an hour, those hunger cravings are sure to pop up. Furthermore, if it’s a processed snack, chances are you’re just taking in a bunch of empty calories or excess sodium and saturated fats.

Meal replacement shakes pack all the nutrition you need for an energetic day, but they are drinkable, quick, tasty AND they keep you full for hours!

The following is an example of a nutritious and easy to make meal replacement shake, including why it’s so great for keeping hunger cravings at bay.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Beetroot Cranberry Conserve

Beetroot Cranberry Conserve is tangy, sweet and slightly earthy, not to mention a brilliant colour! A nice Chianti makes it a little savoury, perfect for the holidays.


Beetroot & Cranberry Conserve

It's almost Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada - where the heck did September go? While my mom is stocking up on turkey, stale bread, potatoes and lots of butter, I took on the task of making one of the cult favourite condiments on every holiday table - cranberry sauce.

What emerged from my kitchen last year - and soon to be this year as well - is a delicious sweet-tangy conserve with a hint of savoury flavour, but I do hesitate to really call it a cranberry sauce. For one, the only cranberries in this recipe are dried (although they were unsweetened) - the brilliant ruby colour is the result of heirloom beets from my garden and a glug or two of red wine. For added body and cohesion, I used apples (of which we always have a ton of this time of year). Of course, many of the standard "holiday" seasonings found their way into the pot, including the zest and juice of a blood orange. Taste tests along the way were quite rewarding, and leftovers that didn't fit in either the canning jars or the sauce bowl were eaten by house guests on crackers with cheese.

Speaking of canning, I highly recommend making at least this one batch, if not two, and preserving half for Christmas season. That way, you have a side dish done and you don't need to take up another stove burner in the middle of holiday feast-making!

Beetroot Cranberry Conserve
Makes 32 fl oz, 32 (2 tbsp) servings
3 apples, peeled and diced
1 lb (about 5 small) beets, peeled and diced
¾ cup dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup red wine (or cranberry juice for non-alcoholic)
Zest and juice of 1 large orange (I used a blood orange)
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch cloves
Pinch sea salt
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a deep, heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thick and mounds on a spoon, about 1 hour.
  3. Can 15 mins in a waterbath or freeze leftovers within 1 week.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 50.4
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 11.3 mg
Total Carbs: 12.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 0.3 g

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Sweet Potato Peanut Curry with Red Lentils

This Sweet Potato Peanut Curry with Red Lentils is packed with vegan nutrition - vitamin A, protein, fibre and healthy fats to name a few!

Sweet Potato Peanut Curry with Red Lentils

With the cooler weather rearing it's (quite ugly and damp) head, it's time to start thinking about stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. Around here, that means breaking out the big Dutch oven and making a big pot of flavourful stew. Of course, with my mom around, curry is almost a no-brainer when it comes to the type of stew! This pot was inspired from a dish I saw on TV (can't remember the show, sorry!) using sweet potatoes and tomato juice with regular lentils. However, my mom likes peanut butter with anything spicy, so I added a dose to the pot and used fresh tomatoes, celery and home-grown Egyptian onion to bulk it up some more. The resulting mixture is spicy, but not hot, with a light earthy sweetness from the sweet potatoes and a natural creaminess from the red lentils. A squeeze of lime at the very end livens up all the flavours and makes it a perfect meal to warm you up when it's anything but outside.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How to Have a Filling Brunch


When you look at the brunch menu in some of the best restaurants in NoMad, you might be initially disappointed thinking that they are only light meals. For heavy-eaters, they might feel as if they are just appetizers. With this, in the rest of this post, we will quickly share some insights on what you should eat to have a filling brunch! 

Avocado Toast

I have tasted a lot of avocado toasts in the past, but none has been as mouthwatering as what I had in Scarpetta, an Italian restaurant in NYC. From the way it looks, you can easily say that it will indeed be filling. To make it even more flavorful, it comes with Aleppo pepper, onions, and lemon. The avocado on the top tastes so fresh! It is perfect in every bite!

Deviled Eggs

Another quintessential brunch item, deviled eggs are sure to make a filling meal. If you think that eggs are boring, having them deviled is an excellent way to add life to it through hot condiments or spices. One pair of deviled eggs can be a source of up to six grams of protein, which also explains why it can easily fill up your tummy!

Salads

For healthy eaters, brunch will not be complete without a salad. A bowl of greens will be an excellent way to start any meal. It already fills up the stomach without the need to worry about the calories. Of course, this is provided that the salad has the right ingredients. Some of the must-haves for a delicious brunch salad include tomato, avocado, lettuce, olives, croutons, spinach, kale, and cucumber, among others. Make sure to pair it up with healthy salad dressings, which include mango vinaigrette, Greek dressing, and raspberry balsamic.

Pancakes

A stack of pancakes with delicious toppings will be another essential to make your brunch filling. Stay away from artificial sweeteners. Honey or pure maple syrup will be great alternatives to those that are laden with sugar. As for the toppings, opt for fruits and get rid of creams. Blueberries, apples, and pears will be great. If you feel like giving yourself a cheat from your strict diet, greasy strips of bacon will surely be a treat!

Yogurt

Something a simple as yogurt can be filling, making it another great choice for a brunch. If plain yogurt seems to be too simple and bland for you, make it a parfait! Top it with ingredients that can make you even feel fuller, such as chia seeds, banana, apple, mango, and berry.

Smoothies

If you cannot eat your fruits and vegetables, drink them in the form of a smoothie. This is especially great for the kids! The key here is to choose the right ingredients. Otherwise, the smoothie will be nothing but empty calories. For a mouthwatering smoothie that will also make you feel full, some of the best ingredients to use include banana, strawberry, mango, blueberry, and cucumber.

With the foods that have been mentioned above, you will look forward to the next time you will have brunch! They will surely make a hearty and filling meal!

This is a guest post. The author wishes to remain anonymous

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Beginner’s Guide to Making Mouthwatering Cocktails


You do not know how cocktails are done unless you have already visited Regent Cocktail Club, my favorite cocktail lounge in Atlanta. The place is known for their exquisite concoctions using only the finest ingredients that are available, including premium alcohol bases. The recipes are top secrets, of course. However, if you want to make cocktails that will be at par to what the club serves, keep on reading and we’ll share some tips.

Know the Basics

You must first know the rules before you break them. Therefore, you have to initially gain mastery of the basic cocktail recipes before you can make tweaks and ingredient swaps. If you are a novice in cocktail making, stick to the basics. Some of the simplest and easiest drink that you can make include martini, margarita, mojito, Old Fashioned, and gin and tonic, among others.

Invest in the Tools of the Trade

If you visit a rooftop bar in Atlanta and sit next to the bartender, you can see that making a drink requires having the right tools needed. These tools are important for a number of reasons, such as for making sure of using the exact amount of the ingredients that are needed. With this, some of the basics that you must have include jigger, cocktail shaker, strainer, mixing spoon, juicer, and muddler.

Know when to Shake or Stir

Shaken or stirred? This is one of the questions that you have to ask yourself when making a cocktail. Knowing when to shake and when to stir can instantly up your cocktail game and make your drinks taste like they have been mixed by an expert. Generally speaking, you have to shake when the cocktail involves the use of thick or strongly-flavored ingredients such as egg, fruit juice, and dairy. On the other hand, shaking is recommended if you are using only light mixers, such as soda.

Master the Techniques

It is not enough that you know when shaking or stirring is the better option. The right technique will also matter. For instance, when you are shaking the cocktail mixer, you should do it in a circular motion. When it is properly shaken, the edge of the cocktail should be a bit frothy. When stirring, do this carefully to not aerate and dilute the drinks. Otherwise, the flavor will end up weaker. 

Pick the Right Base

If you think that top-shelf cocktails are the best, you are wrong! There are liquors that are made for cocktails. Their flavor is enhanced by your choice of mixer. Premium alcohol brands are too strong and better consumed on their own for you to appreciate its fuller flavor and aroma. For cocktails, especially if you are still in the experimenting stage, it won’t hurt to go for cheaper alternatives.

In sum, you do not need to be an experienced mixologist to create mouthwatering concoctions. Take note of the things that have been mentioned above and you can easily make cocktails like a pro!

This is a guest post. The author wishes to remain anonymous

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Egyptian Fruit Tartlets

These Egyptian Fruit Tartlets are a variation on my favourite fig newton recipe, and are perfectly sized for a two bite treat!


Egyptian Fruit Tartlets

Well, I'm more or less back to everything after this busy, busy Summer! Apologies to those of you who enjoy my writing but I needed to take the break to deal with both school and personal commitments. At any rate, I will do my best to at least get one post a week out, and what better way to start than with these delicious tartlets?

These tartlets are different from the standard pastry shell variety in a couple of ways. First, the casing is more of a shortbread style of dough, relatively soft and pliable. Second, the fruit is in a paste form, rather than fresh or "pie filling" format. The filling has to be my favourite part of the whole treat, since it is almost identical to the filling I use for date squares. My inspiration for these tarts came from the Middle Eastern pastry maamoul, and since I needed to make a dessert for one of the school plays that kept to the Arabian / Egyptian / etc theme it seemed to fit the bill nicely. To keep the filling from being super sweet, and since a few of the kids hate dates (I can't believe it, they are nature's candy!), I added some dried figs which lent a delicate texture and floral note. Those of you who have been following me know I love figs, and especially fig newtons, so I could definitely polish the spread off with a spoon.


I mentioned it earlier but the dough is very soft, even after chilling. I didn't want to add too much flour at the onset and had nothing but a paste on my hands, but I gradually added flour until I got a shortbread dough texture. for me, 27 oz worked well, plus the flour I dusted with when rolling. You may also need to tamp down the middle of the shells after baking to keep the depression intact. It's all worth it - I promise! While the recipe makes a fair amount of tartlets, it does scale well, and you can freeze leftovers as well without issue.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Gluten Free Cheddar Garlic Biscuits #BreadBakers

I made these gluten free, egg free Cheesy Garlic Biscuits for a friend of mine. PACKED with cheese and peppered with parsley, they're reminiscent of that famous restaurant appetizer but with a lower price tag!

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits


I'm not going to lie, those cheesy garlic biscuits from the famous seafood restaurant are insanely addictive. However, for those needing to avoid gluten due to either celiac or a gluten intolerance, the dreams of those rich, flavourful treats are often far in the distance. Since a friend of mine is avoiding gluten as a treatment for eczema and loves the famous biscuits, I decided to give making a gluten free version of them a shot.

I was extremely pleased at the outcome - soft and slightly flaky, packed with aged Cheddar cheese, parsley and of course garlic, they were a home run right out of the oven as well as reheated gently until steaming. If you're not going to polish them off within a day or so, freeze the leftovers - an oven re-warming is perfect treatment.

Check out all the Gluten Free Breads from the #BreadBakers this month:
BreadBakers

#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.

Friday, June 8, 2018

5 Food Items That Are Dangerously Toxic to Dogs


Making delicious home cooked meals is one of the many simple joys of being a parent to a dog. Most pet parents believe, and the experts agree, that meals cooked at home are much healthier than store-bought dry dog food. There are also plenty of pet-friendly recipes out there to keep those canine taste buds guessing. Now, a lot of dog parents try and add what they believe are healthy ingredients in an attempt to pack the meals with nutrients and phytonutrients. However, the problem with that approach is that a lot of human food can potentially make your dog sick. This is why it’s a good practice to seek out pet health advice from experts before adding any new ingredient to your dog’s diet. Now, we are not talking about chocolate, which is a well known toxin. If you are a pet parent, you probably have read several articles about the dangers of chocolate. In this post, we highlight the ingredients no one really talks about. So, next time you are looking for recipes for your dog be on guard for these 5 ingredients.

Avocado: Avocado toxicity in dogs is a very real threat. This completely healthy human food contains a chemical called persin. If consumed in high quantities, persin toxicity can lead to heart attack and even death.

Grapes: If you are having a bowlful of grapes and you feel tempted to toss one up to your dog then refrain yourself. Both grapes and raisins can lead to toxic reactions in dogs. As a responsible pet parent, you need to keep your dog away from food that contains grapes and raisins. This includes grape juice or mixed fruit juice with grapes and bakery items with raisin.

Artificial Sweetener: Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener and is completely safe for human consumption. While sugary food is not good for your dog, you should never to try to replace sugar with xylitol. Xylitol is a downright poison when consumed by dogs. To be safe, don’t give your dog any kind of artificial sweetener.

Garlic: Garlic is a kitchen essential and it’s also highly used in herbal remedies. While their benefits are plentiful when consumed by humans they are toxic to dogs. When consumed, garlic can lead to drooling, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, excessive weakness, and sudden collapses. Garlic poisoning damages red blood cells in dogs. Garlic in small amounts may not result in symptoms, but if your dog consumes a garlic-heavy recipe, then it’s best to rush him to the nearest vet. Apart from garlic, all veggies part of the allium family (chives, garlic, onion, and leek) are toxic to dogs and cats.

Macadamia Nuts: No one really knows why macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. There is also a debate on how much macadamia nut a dog needs to consume to feel the toxic effects. According to ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, symptoms may arise by consuming anything from 2.2g to 62.4g for every kilogram of the dog’s body weight. That’s a mammoth range. To be safe, it’s best to avoid giving your dog macadamia nuts all together.