Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lots of Applesauce - or, what to do with all those apples you picked!

Every year our family looks forward to going apple picking in the fall. It's a lot of fun, but we do come home with a lot of apples.  They are absolutely delicious - nothing tastes quite a fresh as an apple right off the tree right?  Look at them, aren't they gorgeous?  I did make the usual array of apple pie and apple crisp.  BTW - apple crisp with ice cream makes a fantastic surprise treat for breakfast for the family.  But applesauce is the family favorite.  Even my son who really doesn't like fruit, loves this applesauce.
Mostly Cortlands all washed and ready

The apples all chopped up and ready in the cooking pot.

Bubbling and boiling away 

Here's my large applesauce recipe:

Sweet Potato Casserole - Gluten Free!

This was a Thanksgiving gamble.  I wanted to add another veggie dish to our menus - following my Auntie's example of Thanksgivings past and I happened to have sweet potatoes on hand.  The recipe I found was not originally gluten free, I made my own adaptations to make it work for us.  If our guest's reaction was any indication, this was a success.  She had seconds and raved about it so much that I gave her the recipe.  She has since made it for a dinner party and looks forward to making it again.
  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup coconut sugar  - (you could use brown sugar, I'm just on a coconut sugar kick right now)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter.
  • Topping
  •  1/2 cup coconut sugar - or brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans - I didn't have any on hand, so I used slivered almonds in its place, it worked!


Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot and browned.
Serves 6 to 8.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Delicious Gluten Free Stuffing!

When I was first considering eating gluten free last summer one of my biggest concerns was - what about Thanksgiving?  You see, I LOVE StoveTop Stuffing.  Like the kind of love that I would make a box of it and eat just that if I wanted to.  I just couldn't imagine a Thanksgiving meal without it.  But I put those feelings aside as it wasn't Thanksgiving yet and we discovered that my husband has a serious intolerance to gluten so we continued to pursue our gluten-free diet.  And it's been good. I can honestly say I don't miss bread most of the time and I am snacking a lot less than I used to.   And then October crept up on us and I realised I had my first gluten free Thanksgiving meal to prepare.  Most of the meal wasn't an issue, turkey and a pile of veggies (I follow my Auntie Sue's rule of thumb when it comes to serving veggies at a holiday meal - make sure there are lots!), my gravy I already figured out with corn starch instead of really was just the pies and the stuffing I wanted to make work.

Here's how the stuffing played out - it was absolutely delicious.  We had dinner guests who had never eaten a gluten free bread (to their knowledge before) - one of which only likes box stuffing, not homemade and they loved it!  I loved it too.  I made my bread from scratch, but I'm sure you could use a store made gluten free bread to make this work.

First - the Bread

I used Elana Amsterdam's Scrumptious Sandwich Bread recipe from her Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.  I will admit when I first mixed this batter I had my doubts.  (My gluten free bread baking experience has been hit and miss).  But this recipe really worked and it was quite quick and easy for a bread.  Do yourself a favor and put this book on your cookbook want list.  It is a really great little Gluten Free cookbook.

Here's the bread recipe:

3/4 Cup creamy roasted almond butter at room temperature
4 large eggs
1/4 blanched almond flour
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground flax meal

Preheat the oven to 350* F.  Prepare a 7x3 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.  In a large bowl, mix the almond butter until smooth (she suggests a handheld mixer, I used my Kitchenaid mixer).  Blend in the eggs.  In a medium bowl combine the almond flour, arrowroot powder, salt, baking soda and flax meal.  Blend the almond flour mixutre into the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
Bake for 40-50 minutes on the the bottom rack of the oven, until a knife inserted into the rack of the loaf comes out clean.  Let the bread cool in the pan for 1 hour, then serve.

Second - preparing the bread cubes

I let my bread cool while I was at church.  When I returned to it, I removed it from the pan and sliced it into bread cubes.  I put the cubes into a large bowl.  Meanwhile, I melted about a 1/4 cup of butter, adding a tsp of garlic powder into it.   I poured the melted garlic butter mixture over the bread cubes, coating all the cubes.  I spread the cubes onto two baking sheets and put them into an oven set to 225*F.  Let them bake to dry out (about an hour, but keep checking).  You could skip the make your own bread step and start here with store made gluten free bread.

Third - the Stuffing!

This stuffing recipe would be good with both regular bread and a gluten free bread.

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • all of your bread cubes (or 10 cups of bread cubes)
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • 1 egg
Preheat oven to 350* F.  Melt butter in a large pan. Saute onions, salt, sage, and thyme for 5 minutes on medium heat, until onions are soft. Turn off heat. Add bread cubes and gently stir them into the onion mixture. Slowly pour chicken broth over the bread cubes folding everything carefully so the bread cubes do not break apart too much. In a small bowl, gently whisk the egg and add it to the stuffing mix. Continue to fold everything until the egg is incorporated. Scoop uncooked stuffing into a medium casserole dish and bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until nice and toasty on top.
*I would have added some celery if I had it - 2 or 3 stalks chopped up well, cooked in with the onion and herb mixture.

So there you go - proof that you can have a gluten-free Thanksgiving supper that with a delicious gluten-free stuffing.  Looking forward to my Christmas meal now :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Going Gluten Free?

My husband gave up gluten about 2 months ago.  He has been battling reflux and some digestive issues for years and though I don't think he's full out celiac, I was curious if he had gluten sensitivity.  He rolled his eyes a bit but decided to give it a go.  Remarkably his reflux symptoms started to go away.  He heard about the book Wheat Belly and ordered it (and the accompanying cookbook).  He had doubts about reading the actual book after learning the gist of it in the cookbook introduction, but became hooked on the book.  Many of my quiet evening became interrupted by, "Kris, you gotta hear this..." I was curious and started to do a little wheat free research myself. 
We drove to Halifax a couple of weeks ago and I brought along the Wheat Belly book for myself.  Somewhere between my bagel at Salisbury at noon and pulling into the hotel parking lot at 3 I decided to go for it, like right then and there.  I find if I think about it too much and plan for a diet change I take too long to actually do it.  I didn't want to think about my last bagel or my last pasta.  Fortunately my introduction to gluten free eating was a fantastic one.  My husband found this fabulous restaurant in Dartmouth called The Wooden Monkey which specialized in whole foods type of eating.  It was delicious.  Two weeks later I haven't looked back.  I don't find it particularly difficult to eat without wheat.  The thing that surprises me most is that I'm simply not hungry.  I'm not always wanting to reach for a snack to tide me over until the next meal.  I'm still on the fence about if I'm going gluten free or just wheat free (there is a difference).  I'm also trying to not eat any gluten-free products that are full of processed fillers.  It is a very different way of looking at food.  Fortunately, there is a resurgence of popularity of eating "real" food.  More and more I want to cut out processed foods and sugars too.  I hope as this next phase of our cooking life enfolds that I can find some really great recipes to share with you.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Movie Popcorn Birthday Cake!

My son had a movie themed birthday for his 9th birthday party.  What better to accompany a movie party than a bowl of popcorn looking cake?  This turned out to be super easy and the kids just loved it.  This cake was 3 layers tall.  The bottom two layers I made in 9 inch round cake pans and the top layer was baked in a pie plate, a little shallower, but slightly wider to give it a bit of a bowl effect.
I frosted the layers with a little chocolate icing to stick them together.
Using a serrated knife to cut the rounded top off the layers.

Frosting the cake with vanilla frosting.  I did two layers of frosting.  The first layer gets a little crummy.  I let it set in the fridge before adding a second vanilla frosting layer.
Letting the first layer set in the fridge.
Meanwhile, my kids and I started to work on the popcorn top.  We took mini marshmallows and squished them together with our fingers in 3s to make it look like popcorn.
I mixed a little sugar with a few drops of yellow food coloring (mixing well) to make the "butter".
We then mixed the marshmallows and yellow sugar together.
The cake with its second layer of frosting on.
I unrolled Strawberry Fruit by the Foot and used my pizza cutter to cut the right size strips to make the striped bowl sides.
We then took Nibs and circled them around the top.  We placed the "popcorn" marshmallows all over the top of the cake until it looked full.  I sprinkled a bit more of the yellow sugar on top to give it that real buttery look.  Yes, you can see I used Betty Crocker's pre-made icing for my cake.  I often do as it just makes it easier. 
I then kept the cake in the fridge to keep it nice and firm until it was time for the party.  I usually make my cake a day ahead of time to give me plenty of time to set up for the party, not worrying about the cake too.
My son (in the middle) with a couple of friends at the party.  They thought the cake was pretty cool, and tasty too.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fibre 1 Almond & Cluster Delight Cereal!

 I was very delighted to have the opportunity to try out Fibre 1 Almond & Cluster Delight Cereal from General Mills. It is one of 8 new products from General Mills this summer!

I have been a fan of Fibre 1 cereal for a few years now.  My husband first discovered it in as a tasty way to increase our fibre intake but not lose out on flavor.  This new cereal is in my opinion their best yet.  It has the yummy sweetness of granola, but without the high fat.  Knowing that I am getting 40% of my daily recommended intake of fibre at breakfast is a great bonus.  I would love to make this my new daily cereal.

I wasn't the only one to try out this new cereal.  My 3 year old daughter wanted some too and she loved it.  We ate it for a week solid in the mornings and I got a disappointed "Awww" from her the first morning that the box was empty and there wasn't any more to be had.

Fortunately, this box is not the end of it and you can try it out for free too.  The folks at General Mills are offering a  free one-day coupon, redeemable in stores on July 16th. You can get your own copy at the Life Made Delicious site on Facebook.
And that's not all...
You can get more coupons for more new General Mills products that will be redeemable on certain dates in July.  
The July 16th Coupon will be redeemable for either one box of Fibre 1 Almond & Cluster Cereal (which I highly recommend trying, I'm so looking forward to having more of this) OR one box of Honey Nut Cheerios Hearty Oat Crunch.

The July 23rd coupon is redeemable for Nature Valley, Fibre 1 bars, Golden Grahams OR Cinnamon Toast Crunch treats! 

I've already got both dates marked on my calendar so I'm sure not to miss out.  

Like I mentioned earlier, I tried Fibre 1 Almond & Cluster Cereal out for one week.  I really feel as though it helped me kickstart off my summer goal of health and fitness.  This is a cereal that is good to eat and tasty at the same time.  I've tried many, many good for you cereals in the past that remind me of, well, eating cardboard.  Not this one, this one was truly tasty.  It was filling too.  I know that almonds are treat that helps to keep you full through to your next meal.  The week that I was eating this cereal, I didn't really want anything to eat at work at break.  I was still satisfied from breakfast.  
I can also imagine me packing a container of this to eat dry as a snack to munch on.  I think my kids will love it too.  I have to admit that I did keep it away from my boys and just let my little girl have a taste with me, so I could enjoy it a little longer.  But this is the kind of cereal and snack that they would love.  Nice to know that healthy doesn't mean tasteless :
“Disclosure – I am participating in the Fibre 1 Almond & Cluster Delight Cereal blogger campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Cake

A work colleague of mine was finishing up her time with us :(  Instead of buying a cake, I offered to make one.  I knew she loved chocolate so I tried a new to me recipe of Chocolate Pecan cake.  It was tasty, but dense.  It didn't rise the way I would have like and left me wishing I'd made my wacky cake instead.  I think I'd like to go back and play with this recipe a bit as I really liked the idea and the flavour, it just came out a little bit more like a brownie than a cake that's all.  One fantastic part of the cake was that I got to use some of the beautiful Mexican Chocolate my brother sent me from his trip to Mexico.  Yum!
  • 1 1/2 cups  unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees . In large saucepan, melt 11/2 sticks butter, chocolate, granulated sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa and 1 cup water over medium, whisking until smooth and warm. Let cool, 10 minutes. Grease bottom and sides of 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. salt into chocolate mixture. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and chopped pecans; whisk just until blended. Transfer batter to prepared pan; bake until springy in center, about 45 minutes. 
I frosted this cake with some cream cheese icing.  After I wrote on it, I sprinkled a little bit of chopped pecans around the writing, just to pretty it up a bit.


Hot Cross Buns

What would Good Friday be without Hot Cross Buns?  For me, it's become a tradition.  It started a number of years back when I went on a Stations of the Cross walk across town with my church at the time.  I remember it being a drizzly Friday and a very moving experience, taking my turn to carry the cross as we paraded along, stopping to read scripture and pray along the way.  The last stop was at our church building.  Some of the ladies at the church were ready for us with Hot Cross Buns and Hot Chocolate, a welcome gift on a rainy BC day.  Since that day Hot Cross Buns have been synonymous with Good Friday.  I have to admit that I've always let the Superstore do the baking for me.  Until this year.
This year my daughter (age 3) and I baked them together.  I grabbed the Pioneer Woman's Recipe because let's face it, if anyone knows how to make Hot Cross Buns it would be her.  The only thing I did differently was the icing.  I used my own sugar cookie icing instead as I had all those ingredients on hand.  It worked just fine. 

Buns Recipe
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1/2 cup Canola Oil
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 package (2 1/4 Teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (additional) Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Spices: Cardamom, Nutmeg, Allspice (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Raisins   
    Combine 2 cups milk, canola oil, and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Stir and heat until very warm but not boiling. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until mixture is still warm, but not hot--about 30 minutes.

    Sprinkle yeast over mixture. Add 4 cups of flour and stir to combine. Mixture will be very sticky. Cover with a towel and set aside for 1 hour.

    Add 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir till combined.

    Combine 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon and whatever other spices you want to use.

    Lightly flour surface. Press to slightly flatten dough. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle on about a third of the raisins. Then fold the dough over on itself and flatten again so the dough is "plain" again. Repeat the sugar/raisin process, then fold the dough again. Repeat a third time until all the raisins are used. (You won't use all the sugar/cinnamon mixture.)

    Pinch off ping pong or golf ball-size bunches of dough. With floured hands, quickly roll it into a ball, then turn the edges under themselves slightly. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 30 hour-plus is better.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees

    Mix 1 egg white with a splash of milk. Brush onto each roll.
    Bake for 20 minutes, give or take, or until tops of buns have turned nice and golden brown.
    Remove from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.


    1 cup icing sugar
    2 tbsp milk

    Mix the sugar with the milk.  Once mixed, put the icing into a ziplock bag.  snip one of the corners off just a little.  Use the ziplock bag as a pastry bag to pipe the cross on the top of the buns once they are cooled a little.

    *Did you know? 
    Some say sharing  a Hot Cross Bun with someone ensured unbroken friendship for the coming year. You're supposed to say these words: "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be."

Monday, February 18, 2013

Minnie Mouse Cake

My daughter had a Minnie Mouse party for her birthday this year.  I had been gathering cake ideas on Pinterest for a while.  And there are some beautiful cakes out there!  After having mixed results with marshmallow fondant, and knowing kids don't really like the real stuff, I decided to nix a lot of the fancier cake ideas.  I went back to basics.  This cake was iced with regular old whipped vanilla frosting.  I dyed it pink and away I went.  The polka dots are large white chocolate chip disks found at the Bulk Barn.  I then used a pink ribbon to go around the bottom and to tie a bow on top.  This cake gives a good allusion to Minnie Mouse and I think it turned out super cute.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Egg Nog Fudge with Chocolate Ganache

Egg Nog Fudge with Chocolate Ganache
This was one recipe I picked up on Pinterest that I knew I had to try.  I have never been a fudge maker at Christmas.  Sugar Cookies, Shortbread and Nanaimo Bars are my thing (can you tell I'm from BC?)  But I love Egg Nog.  It's my little treat to sip after the kids are in bed in December.
My Egg Nog treat
OH MY GOODNESS!  This fudge was so delicious!  (I'm not one to type in capitals so you know I mean it!)  I give credit to the originator of this recipe at Rook No. 17 - thank you!

For the fudge
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup salted butter, cut in to pieces
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup evaporated milk
10 ounces white chocolate, chopped (white chocolate chips can be substituted)
3 cups (7 oz.) mini marshmallows
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg  
2-3 Tablespoons dark rum or bourbon

For the ganache
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (chopped, or high quality chips)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Ground nutmeg for garnish

An 8x8 pan (must be at least 2" tall), or a 9x9 pan
Candy Thermometer*

1.  Prepare your pan by lining bottom and sides with foil.  Allow foil to overhang at least two sides, so it can be used to lift the fudge from the pan in the end.  Spray foil with non-stick spray or lightly coat with butter. 

2.  Stir together the sugar, butter pieces, condensed milk, and evaporated milk in a 3 1/2 quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, over medium high heat.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until a candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees F (soft-ball stage).  The thermometer will shoot up to around 224 rather quickly, but it can take up to 20 minutes to slowly climb the remaining 10 degrees.  Be patient, stir frequently, and keep your burner set the lowest setting of "high" to maintain a boil, but prevent burning.

2.  Immediately remove pan from heat.  Remove thermometer.  Stir in the white chocolate until it has melted and incorporated completely.  Next, stir in the mini marshmallows until they have melted and are thoroughly incorporated.  The mixture will be quite thick.  Lastly, stir in the rum and nutmeg.

3.  Pour mixture in to prepared pan.  Cool for 15 minutes.

4.  While fudge is cooling, prepare the ganache by placing the chocolate in a medium bowl.  In a saucepan, or in the microwave, bring cream to a boil.  Pour boiling cream over the bowl of chocolate.  Allow to sit for 2 minutes.  With a small whisk or fork, gently bring the cream and melted chocolate together until thoroughly combined, smooth and shiny.

5.  Pour chocolate ganache over the fudge (which will be warm, but will have set by now).  Use a small offset spatula to smooth and level.

6.  Cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with ground nutmeg for garnish.  Allow the fudge to continue to cool, on a baking rack, until it comes to room temperature.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

7.  Lift fudge from pan by the overhanging foil.  Gently peel back and remove the foil.  With a sharp knife, cut in to 1" squares.  Wipe knife in-between slices to keep pieces looking neat and clean.  It is easiest to cut the fudge when it is cold. 

Store fudge in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped for up to 2 weeks.  Best when served at room temperature.