With back to school time approaching, I was looking for ways to create new, fast, but healthy on the go breakfasts and snacks that my boys could eat on the drive to and from school. Their new school is a nut free school, so I needed to come up with a way to make a dense, healthy but nut free muffin. My solution was to replace the nuts and raisins we usually add to muffins with a mixture of flax seed, pumpkin seeds and coconut.
These nut-free muffins are still nutritious enough for breakfast with the addition of flax seed, pumpkin seeds and coconut.
- 1 cup white flour
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour*
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs, lighty beaten
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 5 overripe bananas, mashed (about 2 1/3 cups)
- 1/4 cup flax seeds, partially ground in coffee mill
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, partially ground
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
*if you have slightly less or more bananas, adjust the whole wheat flour up or down by 1/4 cup.
- In large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- In separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, and crushed banana.
- Mix wet ingredients into dry.
- Spoon into paper-lined muffin cups, filling two-thirds full.
- Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on wire racks.
Yield: 24 muffins
“A sweet wine jelly infused with mint and rosemary”.
This is a sweet wine jelly that has an amazing depth with the infusion of both mint and rosemary to the wine.
For our first try at mint flavoured wine jelly, we used a Voignier wine that was a bit passed it’s prime — and it worked wonderfully. I’ve made wine based jelly before having made our own Garlic Jelly so the process was not new. A note about infusing the wine: Most recipes say to let the herbs infused the wine for about 45 minutes then strain through a cheesecloth to remove herbs. I must have ground mine a little too finely as I ended up with a very cloudy green liquid. Since I wanted a true clear wine jelly, I added a little extra wine then poured the entire contents into a mason jar to sit overnight. The result was that the very fine herb particles settled to the bottom and I was able to use a baster to extract 1 3/4 cups of pure clear juice to use for my jelly. I think this made a better jelly with a slightly stronger mint flavour which we liked.
Wine jelly can be served with a soft cheese on a cracker or baguette. It’s also good as a glaze or accompaniment for meats.
Rosemary Mint Wine Jelly served with goats cheese on crackers
- 2-1/2 cups firmly packed fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3-1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- One pouch (85 ml) CERTO ® Liquid Pectin
- Wash jars. Sterilize jars in stove at 250F for 20 minutes. Put lids in water and simmer for 5 minutes.
- In a food processor or blender blend together mint, rosemary, and 1 1/2 cups of the wine until the herbs are chopped fine.
- In a small saucepan bring the remaining 1 cup wine to a boil, add it to the herb mixture and remove from heat. Cool.
- Strain liquid through several layers of cheesecloth or a fine mesh to remove most of the herbs (please see note above about infusing wine). Pour into 1 liter mason jar and let sit overnight in the fridge.
- The next day, use baster to extract 1 3/4 cups clear juice from the top of the mason jar being careful not to disturb the fine ground herbs that have settled to the bottom. Add lemon juice. You should now have 2 cups* of ‘juice’, if you do not add a little extra lemon juice to make up the difference.
- Add 2 cups of the herb infused juice into a large, deep stainless steel saucepan. Stir in sugar and butter. Over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Add liquid pectin, squeezing entire contents from pouch. Return to a boil, boiling hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam, if necessary (butter helps prevent foam from forming).
- Pour into sterilized jars about 1/4 inch from rim, being careful not to get jelly on edges. Clean edges are needed to ensure jelly jars will seal.
- Cover with lids and screw rings on tightly.
(*If you have any more than 2 cups of juice the jelly will not set well. Increase boil time a bit if you want a thicker jelly).
Yield: 9-10 125 ml jam jars
Slow roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic slices, ready for preserving.
If you are wondering what to do with all those extra cherry tomatoes from the garden, one option is to slow roast them in the oven with a little garlic. The extra sweet nature of cherry tomatoes make these a terrific addition to sauces and soups during those long winter months. They also taste great over top of a little garlic bread for a quick appetizer.
The process is very easy. Spread a small amount of olive oil on a cookie sheet. Clean and half some cherry tomatoes, the ones above are a mix of sweet red and Sungold orange, but any type of small tomato will do. Add some slices of garlic, sliced thick or you can even leave them whole if you are in a hurry. Drizzle a little more olive oil (not too much, they do not need to be drenched), salt & pepper. Mix and spread evenly over the pan.
Slow roast in a 300F oven for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Once they are finished, remove roasted tomatoes from oven and transfer to sterilized jars or plastic containers for freezing. I now freeze everything in mason jars rather than plastic. I don’t like how plastic retains the colour and flavour of foods, glass can be sterilized and mason jars last forever. Just sterilize clean jars ahead of time either by filling with boiling water or if you are doing a lot of jars, sterilize in a 250F oven for 15-20 minutes. When you remove the jars from the freezer, just thaw slowly. Be careful about using the microwave — thaw on defrost to avoid cracking the jar from the hot inside edges. Since I usually know what I am going to use, I just transfer a jar to the fridge ahead of time.
“If I Had $1000000
We wouldn’t have to eat Kraft Dinner.
(But we would eat Kraft Dinner. Of course we would, we’d just eat more.
And buy really expensive ketchup with it.
That’s right, all the fanciest Dijon Ketchup. Mmmmmm.)”
Sweet and Spicy Tomato Jam 2012
Well, I don’t know whether I’d like Dijon Ketchup but this recipe for sweet and spicy Tomato Jam brings to mind the feelings of fancy ketchup contemplated in one of my favourite songs by the Barenaked Ladies. It has been a perfect year for tomatoes – hot and sunny — and this year has produced the best crop of home grown tomatoes we have ever had. Wondering what to do with all those extra tomatoes one Sunday afternoon, I stumbled upon a few recipes for tomato jam. I’m not a salsa person, but the idea of a sweet and spicy condiment made with tomatoes sounded wonderful. I roughly followed the recipes I found, tweaking the spices for how we would like them — a little less hot pepper flakes, used ground ginger instead of fresh since that is what I had, and added cumin which we love. The result was a sweet tomato condiment with just enough heat to add some zip but not overpower. Enjoy this jam on cheese, bagels with cream cheese or better yet goats cheese. I even put some goats cheese and the Tomato Jam on my turkey burger — better than tomato relish!
- 5-6 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped (making about 10 cups chopped tomatoes)
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- I decided to both peel and de-seed my tomatoes before dicing them to make a smoother, richer jam. Some recipes mentioned that you can leave the peels and seeds in which adds more acidity and texture. To peel tomatoes, drop them into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds them remove and dump in cold water. The peels should easily slip off. Remove excess seeds with your fingers and dice.
- Add all ingredients into a large pot (one that will not react with the tomatoes).
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a hard simmer (bubbles still forming but not spurting)
- Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring regularly (about every 1/2 hour at first to every 15 minutes to every 5 minutes towards the end.)
- When almost fully reduced, sterilize cleaned jars in a 250F oven for 20 minutes and boil jar lids.
- When mixture has reduced to a thick, gooey texture it is finished. Pour into hot, sterilized jam jars, screw the lids on and set aside to cool and seal.
Yield: 2012 – 12 small (4oz) jam jars
A delicious way to have smoked salmon for dinner, combined with black olives and cream cheese. Serve with Zucchini and Smoked Salmon Rolls with Cream Cheese.
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 4 ounces (about 125g) smoked salmon, roughly chopped
- 8-10 black olives, diced
- 7 jumbo eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 3 tablespoons whipping cream or half & half
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk & cream; set aside.
- Heat olive oil in 9-inch oven-proof skillet. Add onion, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring until translucent, 2-3 minutes.
- Add salmon, olives and stir until salmon is just heated on the outside, about 1 minute.
- Add cream cheese, stirring a few times to partially melt cheese but leave some of the cheese unmelted.
- Add eggs, continue stirring for a minute so cheese partially incorporates into egg mixture but again, leave some of the cheese unmelted and clumping.
- Reduce heat to low-medium, cook without stirring until sides are just firm.
- Place skillet in preheated oven, bake about 20 minutes until firm.
- Remove and serve.
Inspiration can happen when two challenges collide head on. First my husband has mostly given up wheat (we won’t mention pizza night). This presents quite a challenge to find ways to ‘hold’ flavours that are usually combined in some form or other on bread. Second, we are in the midst of zucchini season and unfortunately I missed that very useful holiday: Sneak a Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (August 8th if you were wondering). I hate throwing away good produce from the garden, so challenge number two — what to do with even more zucchini sitting on my kitchen counter.
The solution for this evening was to convert a traditional smoked salmon roll (using wraps or tortillas) into Zucchini and Smoked Salmon Rolls. And best of all, we liked these even better than the original!
- 4 ounces soft cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dilled, chopped
- 1/3 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- zucchini, sliced into ribbons
- smoked salmon
- Slice skin off one side off zucchini to create a flat edge. Continue to slice zucchini into slices thin enough that they can be rolled up. A mandolin helps although mine is not large enough so I just carefully sliced the zucchini with a large knife. Salt zucchini and let slices sit for a bit to drain out some water.
- Combine cream cheese, lemon juice, dill, garlic, salt and pepper in small bowl.
- Pat dry zucchini slice. Place some of the cream cheese mixture on a zucchini slice, add smoked salmon and roll it up. Secure with toothpick. Since my zucchini was a little larger, I put two toothpicks through each roll and cut the roll down the middle. This made a nice flat surface for serving.
Note: if you make these Zucchini Rolls ahead place rolls on rack or on paper towels as they will still drain a small amount of water out of the zucchini.
My sons love waffles for breakfast and while I have no objection to the amount of maple syrup we seem to consume, I was not happy with the ingredient list in frozen waffles purchased from the grocery store. In my continuous effort to reduce the amount of packaged foods we eat, I came home one day with a new waffle maker. Needless to say, it has been a great hit. Our favourite waffles are made with vanilla yogurt, pecans and soy milk. I make a full batch every couple of weeks, freezing the extras so the boys can pop them in the toaster on school mornings. I like them with cottage cheese and some fruit on the side. They like them smothered in maple syrup. Whatever, they are much healthier than store bought.
Note: This is a large batch, it makes about 50 square toast sized waffles. It is fully scalable. I have often made half or two-thirds batches with no difference in taste.
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 3 cups unbleached white flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 or two single serve containers vanilla yogurt
- approx. 5 cups soy milk (see below for exact amount, you can use regular milk as well. If you want to be decadent, use about 1/4 cup half and half cream in place of some of the milk.)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 6 jumbo eggs (or 7 large)
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat waffle maker.
- Place flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in mixing bowl.
- Place yogurt in large measuring cup. Add enough milk to bring total liquid measure to 5 1/2 cups. Add to dry ingredients along with vegetable oil and eggs.
- Add chopped pecans.
- Blend in mixer until well combined, about 2 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.
- Pour batter into preheated grid. Spread with heat proof spatula until batter just covers lower part of grid. Close lid and cook until desired crispness.
I sometimes add blueberries or other fruit to make Blueberry Waffles. You can add the blueberries to the mixture but interestingly the blueberries mostly float so you end up with more blueberries in the first waffles than the last. So now I just add them individually to the batter once it is poured into the grid, before I close the lid.
Yield: About 50 square waffles.
It’s zucchini season and I’m once again ‘blessed’ with a plethora of zucchini. So looking for new ways to use up what’s current in the garden I decided to create my own version of stuffed zucchini for dinner one evening. My husband said it tasted like a meatball sub — and as he has given up wheat that seemed to please him greatly.
- two to three large zucchini, 9-10 inches long (or more if you use smaller ones)
- 1 red pepper, diced small
- 1/2 medium onion, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 12-14 black olives, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced small
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 5 mild italian sausage, casings removed
- spaghetti sauce
- mozzarella or pizza cheese, parmesan
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Slice zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out flesh, leaving 1/4″ thick. Salt and set aside. If you like your zucchini softer, blanch them in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. I didn’t the first time and the large zucchini were cooked but firm. I think I would blanch them for no more than a minute if they are 8 inches or more but not bother for smaller zucchini.
- Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in frypan over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, celery and red pepper. Cook until slightly softened. Add parsley, basil, black olives, salt & pepper. Heat another minute or two. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- In same pan, brown sausage, breaking up into small pieces. When just cooked through, add vegetables and mix. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Place zucchini in bottom of ovenproof casserole pan. Fill boats with sausage mixture. Top with two to three tablespoons of homemade spaghetti sauce (I used Neapolitan but Basic Tomato Sauce would work as well.)
- Top each with mozzarella or pizza cheese and parmesan.
- Cook, covered with foil, for 30 to 40 minutes depending upon size of zucchini. Remove foil for additional five minutes
These are very filling, one boat will feed a very hungry person.
It’s early July and the kale in our garden is growing like gangbusters. After reading several recipes on the internet, I decided to try and make my own kale chips. While they won’t replace potato chips (especially for my kids) I really liked the slightly nutty flavour and the crunch followed by chewy texture. The first time I made them I added way to much oil & salt — remember a little really does go a long way.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Clean and remove the center rib from a large bunch of kale. Dry completely then tear into 2 inch sized pieces.
- Transfer to two cookie sheets. Sprinkle “lightly’ with olive oil and toss. I’m estimating I used less than a tablespoon for each filled cookie sheet. Next sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning half way through. Bake until they are just crispy.
- Cool then place chips in a sealed tupperware container. They will stay crispy for about a week.
I purchased a deep 1- inch non-stick skillet on a whim one day as it was on sale and it turned out to be a good thing when I needed an small oven proof skillet to make my first frittata. This Kale & Pancetta Fritatta is a fantastic way to use kale during the height of the season, and for non-kale lovers, you can try spinach.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 150 grams cubed pancetta
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/5 red pepper, diced
- 8-10 kale leaves
- 7-8 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk or cream
- 1/4 cup shredded cheese (italian blend or mozzarella)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper to taste.
- Heat oven to 350F.
- Bring pot of salted water to boil. Add kale leaves and par boil for 1 minute. Drain, squeeze out excess water and chop.
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in 10 inch non-stick, oven proof skillet, add pancetta and fry until browned. Drain & set aside.
- In some of reserved pancetta drippings and another 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, fry onion and red pepper until softened. Set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk eggs with milk, cheese, flour, salt & pepper. The pancetta adds some saltiness so keep that in mind when adding salt.
- Add kale, pancetta, onions and peppers once they have cooled somewhat (adding them warm is ok, just not hot).
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in same skillet. When oil is hot, add egg mixture. Reduce heat to medium and stir egg mixture from sides and bottom until eggs have ‘thickened’ slightly but are still runny.
- Turn heat to low, cover and cook until eggs are set about 1 inch from sides of pan (about 8 minutes).
- Uncover and transfer frittata to oven. Bake another 15-20 minutes until top is set.
- Remove from pan and let sit another 10 minutes before serving. It can sit in the warm pan for 30 minutes and will remain relatively warm, but not hot.
Yield: 5 to 6 servings
I am always looking for new marinades for chicken. This one is quick and easy and very tasty. The first time I made it I marinated some chicken tenderloins then skewered them on BBQ skewers like a satay. Grill for 10 minutes and enjoy.
Barbequed maple dijon chicken skewers
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons dijon or, our favourite, tarragon mustard
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- Combine marinade ingredients.
- Add chicken tenderloins, coat well and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Skewer lengthwise, like a satay (think of making an S out of each piece). I put 3 tenderloins per skewer.
- Heat grill, oil grill so chicken doesn’t stick. With a short cooking time this really helps.
- Once grill is heated, grill chicken skewers for about 10 minutes.
Yield: 4 to 5 servings
A classic Quiche Lorraine recipe with a slight twist — I use tarragon mustard instead of dijon and add red peppers. This recipe makes two pies, one of which I freeze for another day. This is not a low fat recipe but with homemade ingredients I think it’s worth it and way better than any store bought version.
Easy to make Quiche Lorraine.
- 2 pie crusts – baked
- 12 slices bacon
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 7-8 eggs (8 large, 7 extra large)
- 1 cup soy milk or regular milk
- 1/2 cup table cream
- 2 tablespoons tarragon (or dijon) mustard
- 2 tablespoons regular mustard
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
- Prick pie crusts all over with fork. Bake pie crusts unfilled in 400F oven for 10 minutes. Check after 8 minutes and prick with fork if crust begins to rise. Alternatively you can line crust with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Let cool on rack.
- Fry bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels, cool then cut or break into small pieces. Set aside.
- Drain fat from pan. Fry onion, red pepper, salt and pepper over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Grate Gruyere cheese so that you have about 2 cups loosely packed.
- In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and cream. Add onion mixture and bacon pieces.
- Mix tarragon and regular mustard. Brush mustard over bottom of pastry shells.
- Spread half of grated cheese in the bottom of each pie shell. Pour in egg mixture.
- Bake in 375F oven for 35 minutes until knife inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool on rack.
- If reheating, reheat at 350F for about 20 minutes. If frozen, thaw first, then reheat.
Yield: 2 pies
I’m always looking for creative ways to use winter vegetables in meals. While we love roasted root vegetables by mid-winter we are looking for a change. Add to that the fact that homemade soup is a weekly staple in our house in winter and you have the makings of Winter Vegetable Barley Soup. We loved the texture, especially the slight bite of the barley in an otherwise creamy soup. And as a side benefit, I was able to get my youngest to eat squash since he didn’t know it was in the recipe.
Carrots, sweet potatoes and squash add flavour and texture to winter barley soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6-7 cups diced winter vegetables roughly as follows
- one sweet potato, peeled & cubed
- 2-3 carrots, diced
- 2-3 cups butternut squash, diced
- 2/3 cup pearl barley
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 5 cups water
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon each salt & pepper
- Dice vegetables so they are about 1/2 inch in size. In total you need 6-7 cups but the mix can change slightly depending upon the size of your vegetables.
- Heat olive oil, add onion & garlic & heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes. The heat should be enough that the onions and garlic start to brown but be careful not to burn the garlic or it will taste bitter.
- When onions start to brown add chicken broth & water. Add vegetables, barley, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Gently simmer for 1 hour. Add more water if it is becoming too thick.
- When the vegetable are tender, if you like, partially smash some of the squash. This made for a slightly creamier texture to the soup.
Yield: 6-8 servings
We are fortunate to be able to pick kale in the winter that is growing in the garden under small greenhouse covers. In fact, overall kale tastes even better once it is exposed to a slight frost and it is very cold weather tolerant. While easy to grow, the hard part is getting my children to eat this healthy green vegetable but I think I found a way. Just add bacon to kale and even my twelve year old son had a couple of bites! Adjust the onions and bacon to your liking.
- 1/2 onion, diced
- small bunch kale, tough stems removed
- 2-3 slices bacon, cut into pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Parboil kale in large pot of salted water for 3-5 minutes (depending upon size of leaves) until still firm. Remove and drain. Chop into smaller pieces.
- Fry bacon until just before it turns crispy. Add diced onions and fry for another 3 minutes until onion starts to brown and bacon becomes more crispy.
- Add garlic, stirring often for another minute.
- Add kale, a small amount of olive oil and butter, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring often.
Winter is a time for root vegetables in our household and I am always looking for a new way to prepare them. Today I roasted parboiled carrots, parsnips and potatoes with browned sausage pieces. A twist on a classic country meal, it was easy to prepare, flavourful and hearty. Served with some fried kale & bread and it was a simple but delicious meal.
- 4 Italian pork or turkey sausages
- 4 large carrots, a mix of yellow and orange, diced
- 2 large parsnips, diced
- 3 medium potatoes, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
- Preheat oven to 380F.
- Slice sausages into large meatball sized chunks. In a small amount of olive oil, brown sausage until outside is crispy but not yet cooked. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, parboil carrots, parsnips and potatoes for about 10 minutes.
- Drain vegetables and set aside.
- In large bowl, mix 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir in vegetables until coated. Add sauteed sausages and mix.
- Pour vegetable and sausage mixture into oven-proof casserole pan.
- Roast for 20 – 30 minutes until vegetables are tender and begin to brown.