Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dill Pickles and Pickled Beets

Dear Jess,

I had an amazing time at the market this morning! I picked up some pickling cucumbers, and some different coloured beets. I decided it's time to start my winter pantry. It is almost 3:00 in the afternoon, and I now have 9 large jars of pickles, and 4 medium jars of pickled beets! I'm off to a great start!

Dill Pickles
adapted from 
(I tripled this recipe)

8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 pounds)
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
3 tbsp kosher salt
8 heads fresh dill
8 cloves of garlic

Wash and trim your cucumbers.

Heat jars. (I either take them fresh out of the dishwasher, or heat them for 10 minutes in a 200 Degrees oven)

Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Remove jars from heat. Place 1 head fresh dill and 1 clove garlic into each jar; pack in cucumbers (if they're large, quarter them lengthways.) Add 1 more head of fresh dill and 1 more clove of garlic and a few peppercorns. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers to within 1/2 inch of rim. Process for 10-15 minutes in boiling bath.

Tip: Garlic may turn blue or green in the jar. Nothing to be alarmed about. It is only the effect of the acid on the natural pigments in the garlic.

Pickled Beets
from Mustards, Pickles and Chutneys by Margaret O'Sullivan, Page 36

6 beets
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
3 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3-4 heads fresh dill (or 3-4 tsp dill seeds)

Cook the beets, with some stalk intact, for 15-20 minutes or until they are tender. Dreain, setting aside 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. When the beets are cool, cut off the stalks and bottoms, then peel. Slice, then pack into warm dry jars.

Bring the vinegar and reserved cooking liquid to a boil, add the mustard, salt and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the dill to the jars with the beets, then cover completely with the hot vinegar mixture. Seal in a boiling bath for 10 minutes. Leave for a few days before using.

Next will be peach preserves I think! Hope your summer is going well!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Banana Almond Meal Muffins

Dear Sally, 

This is a recipe that you NEED to try.  I had some bananas in my fruit bowl that were past the point of eating and perfect for muffins. Usually I would make some regular muffins for Jesse or the neighbours, ones that I can’t eat but on THIS day I was being selfish. I found a recipe online for muffins using almond meal instead of almond flour. I had my doubts but once I tried them I was hooked. After eating three I had to walk out of the kitchen. This recipe is gluten free and vegan.

Banana Almond Meal Muffins


2 flax eggs (2 tbsp. flaxseed meal + 5 tbsp. water)
2 ripe bananas
3 tbsp. agave nectar, maple syrup or honey (not vegan)
3 tbsp. unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup almond meal
½ cup + 2 tbsp. oat flour
Optional toppings: chopped nuts, rolled oats


1.     Preheat oven to 350° and line muffin tin with 8 paper liners.
2.     In a large bowl, prepare flex egg by mixing flaxseed + water and letting it rest for a few minutes.
3.     Next add bananas and mash. Add agave, baking powder, vanilla, almond milk and stir.
4.     Add almond meal and oat flour and stir once more. Taste to see if it needs more sweetener.
5.     Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean and they become somewhat firm to the touch with a little give.
6.     Remove and let rest in pan for 5 minutes. Then cook all the way on a cooling rack.
7.     Store in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

When I made these I had 3 bananas so I just did one and a half times and I filled 12 muffin cups. I am serious when I say you have to make these. Jesse isn’t allowed to touch them and I am trying to pace myself. It may not fill your craving for pizza and comfort food but they are a really healthy snack.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Roasted Duck with Carrots and Apples

Dear Jess,

Ducks were on sale! Woot woot! I looooove duck! I was originally going to do it in my slowcooker. However, after dressing the duck and chopping the fruit and veggies, I realized that the duck was too big for the slowcooker. Thus, I did it in the oven. It made my house smell so heavenly, and after mashing some potatoes and making a gravy out of the juices of the cooked duck: dinner was a success!

Roasted Duck
adapted from

1 duck (fresh or thawed)
4 large carrotos, peeled
3 firm apples, peeled and chopped
2 springs rosemary
1 small bunch of thyme
1 lemon
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place carrots, apples, salt and pepper (to taste) in the base of a large dish or roasting pan.

Remove giblets from inside duck and discard, or set aside for other use. Put quartered onion, whole lemon, rosemary and thyme inside your duck. Tie the duck, and rub with salt and pepper all over. Place duck on top of carrots and apples.

Place in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Spoon 1/4 cup butter over duck and continue baking for 45 minutes. Spoon remaining 1/4 cup butter over duck, and continue baking for 15 more minutes (or until internal temperature reaching 160.) Your duck should be a wonderful golden brown.

Carve and serve!

I was also able to do some duck broth for the freezer! So exciting!

As for my garden, it is going as well as could be expected. I am afraid in my morning sickness stage I wasn't able to water it as often as I should have. That being said, my carrots, radishes, beets, lettuce, herbs and cherry tomatoes are doing great! My peas seem to be suffering, but I am still hopeful of a come-back!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jalapeno and Tomato Salsa Taco Salad

Dear Sally,

My parents came for a visit to our neck of the woods yesterday and while Jesse was at work I took them around the area. We went to a wonderful antique market in Barrie and also had to do some shopping at Marshals. My dad managed to keep himself entertained while the women went to the racks. He is a brave man.

We were originally going to try this recipe for lunch but we were too hungry and gave in to the calls from Much Burrito. Instead we decided to make it for dinner and I’m glad we did. I found it in the newest edition of the LCBO Food & Drink Magazine. Every now and then they have something good and this is a recipe to keep on hand.

We adjusted the recipe to suit the dietary needs of all. I wanted to leave out the chicken and I substituted goat feta for the Tex Mex cheese my dad wanted. Jesse was happy once he picked out the tomatoes I missed on his plate and was fully satisfied with the portions. I think Jason would like this as well and I know you will.

Jalapeno and Tomato Salsa Taco Salad
Adapted from Food & Drink Magazine


1 pkg cherry tomatoes
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers
1 tbsp. oil
3 green onions
1 lime
1 sweet red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

1 romaine heart, shredded
1can black beans
2 avocadoes, chopped
1 cup Tex Mex cheese or goat feta
4 handfuls tortilla chips
Fresh parley for topping


1.    In a medium saucepan cook the green onion, tomatoes and red pepper until soft. Add the black beans and warm through. Season with salt, pepper and juice of a lime. Set aside.
2.    Shred the romaine lettuce and divide onto four plates. Cut up the Avocado into small pieces and add to each plate. Divide the warm vegetable mixture onto each plate.
3.    Add the desired cheese and tortilla chips and serve warm. Balsamic vinaigrette or salsa can be used as extra dressing if needed.

I would love an update from you about how your garden is coming along. I made some kale chips the other day because our kale plants were taking over the sunlight in the garden. Jesse has all sorts of beans growing at the moment and it is hard to be able to use them all up without having to freeze them for later. Soon the lettuce and tomatoes will be ready and some of our peppers too! I love this time of year.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Dahl Lentil Soup

Dear Jess,

Oh man! That pasta looked extremely tasty!

I'm so happy to hear that your trip went well. The beaches were my favourite part out there as well. Well... that and Green Gables!

This recipe came from me wanting another comfy, cozy, dinner on a hot day. Weird, but the baby gets what the baby wants (which has also been a lot of pizza...) Another bonus is this is extremely cheep to make! So during that week or month where money is a little tight... this is the answer!

Dahl Lentil Soup
adapted from

1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp milk curry powder
1 tsp tumeric (optional)
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
6 small potatoes
2 cups chicken broth (or water)
1 cup canned red lentils, rinsed
Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt to serve.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.

Add the curry powder and tumeric and cook for 1 minutes, until fragrant.

Stir in the tomatoes, broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-10 minutes (or until potatoes are tender)

Add lentils and warm through. Remove from heat.

If desired (as I did) use your immersion blender to blend to desired consistency.

I hope your summer is going well! Mine is flying by!


Vegan Pasta Alfredo

Dear Sally, 

I have been neglecting my letters. I love your recipe for chutney. I tried making cherry jam the other day and it was a complete failure. Let's just say that canning is not my thing. 

So the trip out East was fantastic. I love the air down there and we had great weather for the coast. Walking along the beach on one of our last days was probably the highlight for me. You just don't get that kind of experience here in Bradford.

So I have been making many things on my days off but not all have been a success. This recipe was awesome! I have tried my share of gluten and dairy free foods and this one actually tasted like something most people would eat. Jesse included. He really loved this one and the best part was that the noodles weren't soggy. Rice noodles can be a challenge. 

Here is the recipe! 

Vegan Pasta Alfredo

modified from Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl

Ingredients: for the sauce:
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (or pine kernels)
  • 1/2 + cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • a pinch of maldon salt
  • a dash of black pepper
  • two hot Italian sausages
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
for the pasta:
  • 200 grams brown rice pasta (preferably fettuccine or spaghetti)
  • finely chopped fresh Italian herbs (such as oregano, basil or thyme)

  1. Start by placing the pasta in a pot with boiling water and a pinch of salt. Let this cook while making the sauce.
  2. The sauce is made simply by placing all the ingredients together in a small food processor (or use a hand blender) and run until completely small. Start by using 1/2 cup plant-based milk and add more for the sauce to reach the right consistency. It should be about as thick as pancake batter.
  3. Once the sauce is mixed cook the Italian sausages in a frying pan  until golden brown and cooked through. Cut the sausage into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Once the pasta is al dente, drain it and place back into the pot. Pour in the sauce and some finely chopped herbs (I used basil leaves) and stir well. Add the 1/2 cup tomato sauce and the sausages. Add in additional black pepper and salt to taste. Serve immediately while warm. 
Keep sending those pictures my way. I can't wait to see you again in person but photos will have to do. Tell Jason we say hi!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Cheesy Green Chile and Potato Chowder with Buttermilk Cornbread

Dear Jess,

For some reason I am craving comfort food this summer. All I want is pizza, mashed potatoes with gravy, stews, mac and cheese... the list goes on!

On yesterday's menu:

Cheesy Green Chile and Potato Chowder
adapted from 

3 poblano peppers
1 large yellow onion, small diced
1 green bell pepper, small diced
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 stalks celery, small diced
3 slices bacon
2 tsp minced garlic
1 quart chicken broth
2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup Jalapeno Monterey Jack Cheese {plus additional for serving}
thinly sliced green onions

First, fire roast the peppers.

To do this, place poblano peppers right over the flame on your burner if you have a gas stove. Flip occasionally until every inch of the pepper is charred. If you don’t have a gas stove, place peppers underneath the broiler on a lined sheet tray {also flipping occasionally} until charred. Once charred all around, immediately remove peppers from heat and zip up in a plastic zip-loc bag. Let sit for 20 minutes then remove charred skin with the back of a knife and roughly chop up peppers.

While your peppers are cooling, fry the bacon in a large Dutch Oven or heavy  bottomed pot. Fry until crispy then remove bacon from the pot and drain on pepper towels. Keep grease in the pot!

Add your onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery to the hot grease. Saute for about six minutes over medium heat until veggies are just tender. Add cubed potatoes to the pot, as well as the poblano peppers, and toss well so everything is combined.

Pour in chicken broth and add the salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 35 minutes until potatoes are very tender {be sure to “test” with a fork or knife…nothing worse than biting into an uncooked potato!}. Add milk and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together so that no flour clumps remain and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for another 10 minutes. (I used my immersion blender for this one, as I wanted something more creamy!)

Turn off heat completely and add cheese to the pot. Stir well so cheese melts. Serve immediately with crumbled bacon, sliced green onions and additional cheese.

Buttermilk Cornbread

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

*To make your own buttermilk, add one tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk. Let stand for 10-15 minutes.

 I love you and miss you!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Strudelicious Panzerotti

Dear Jess,

Happy Summer Holidays!

How is your trip?! I saw a picture or two on Facebook. It looks like you're having a relaxing time!

As you know I am a 'nanny' for a little boy in town throughout the week, and while he's napping I generally flick on the Food Network. I don't usually watch the Eat Shrink and be Merry show, but it happened to be on, so I watched it. They were making a Panzerotti, and immediately I wanted it. I got home, realized we had so many leftovers from pizza last weekend, and decided I would make it. The Food Network puts all the recipes on their website, so I hunted it down, and here we go!

Both Jason and Bill really enjoyed this! We even have some leftovers!

(Excuse the bad pictures... we lent our camera to my sister-in-law for her trip to England, so these are from my phone)

Strudelicious Panzerotti
adapted from

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 envelope Fleishchmann's Quick-Rise Yeast*
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup very warm water
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp honey

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp (each) dried oregano and basil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey

1 tsp olive oil
6 oz Italian sausage, casing removed and broken up
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup shredded cheese
10 x 15 inch piece parchment paper
1 lightly beaten egg for brushing top of panzerotti

1. To make dough, combine both flours, ground flax, yeast and salt in medium bowl. Mix well. Measure warm water in measuring cup, then stir in olive oil and honey. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and mix using a wooden spoon to form a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes. Spray another medium bowl with olive oil spray (or coat lightly with olive oil) and place dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until double in size, 20 to 30 minutes.

To make sauce, heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium pot. Add onions and garlice. Cook and stir until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Add tomato sauce, oregano, basil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. (Sauce may be made one or two days in advance and kept refrigerated.)

To make filling, heat olive oil in a non-stick over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onions, and bell pepper. cook and stir until sausage is no longer pink. Add mushrooms. Cook and stir until mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in oregano. Cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. (Filling may be made one or two days in advance and kept refrigerated.)

Spray parchment paper lightly with olive oil spray (or brush lightly with oil). When dough has risen, turn out onto parchment paper and, using a rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangle to fit parchment. Sprinkle dough with extra flour if too sticky.

Spread 1/3 cup sauce lengthwise in center of dough. (Make a 'strip' of sauce measuring down the center of the dough leaving an 1-inch margin at top and bottom and 2 1/2-inch margins on both sides.) Spread filling evenly over sauce. Top with grated cheese.

Using a sharp knife, make 8 cups (about 1 1/2 inches wide and 2 inches long) down each long side of dough. To braid dough and enclose filling, fold 1 inch top dough border over filling then, beginning with left-hand side, fold first dough strip at a slight downward angle over the filling. Do not stretch the dough too much. Fold first right0hand dough strip over top and continue to braid dough, tucking in ends and bottom dough border. (This sounds complicated but you're simply braiding the dough over the filling as if you are making a strudel!)

Brush top of panzerotti lightly with beaten egg.

Place panzerotti (and parchement) on baking sheet. Bake at 400F for 14 to 20 minutes, until top is golden brown. Remove panzerotti from oven and let cool 5 minutes before slicing (It's hot!)
Slice into four pieces and serve with warm sauce on side.

I will be making this again for sure! 

Enjoy the rest of your trip! 

So Much Love,