Category Archives: food

Easy Homemade Pickles

I LOVE pickles. Especially the super salty garlic flavored dills. I can munch my way through a jar of dills in no time flat. I always wanted to try making my own pickles, it just seemed like such a complicated and messy process so I never got around to trying it. Then I  found this recipe from the Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking.  Check out the full post here
The long story short:

Ingredients

Cucumber or other veggies of your choice
1 cup filtered water
1 cup of any kind of vinegar
1 tbsp of non iodized salt
Herbs and spices of your choice (like dill or garlic)

Slice up your veggies and put them in a jar. Add your spices.

Mix the water, vinegar and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.  Pour the brine mixture into the jar, screw on the lid wipe down the glass.  Now let it sit in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks while it ferments.

Easy peasy!

I just made my first batch  with sliced cucumber and tucked it away in the back of the fridge.  I’ll let you know how they taste in a few weeks!

Accidental Tequila Sunrise

I meant to make a Shirley Temple. I accidentally made a Tequila Sunrise.  We had some grenadine in the cupboard that we got on sale a few weeks ago on clearance. I was thinking about what I could make with it. Then I remembered, Shirley Temples! I used to drink those every time my family went to Swiss  Chalet when I was a kid. I looked up the ingredients: ginger ale, orange juice, grenadine.  That didn’t seem like the Shirley Temple I remembered. I’m sure the drinks I was served at the Chalet by waitresses dressed in strange frilly Swiss maiden outfits were just 7up and grenadine garnished with a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry skewered onto one of those little plastic swords.  However, I wanted to make it the “proper” way.  When I got home from the grocery store I realized I forgot the ginger ale. I did remember the OJ though. So I poured a little grenadine over the ice. It was a Sunday afternoon and it was nice and hot out I added a shot of tequila  for the heck of it. Then I topped it off with some OJ.  Funny thing was it actually looked really pretty! The orange and red were mixing together  resembling a  fiery, blazing- you guessed it- sunrise!  Then I looked at the side of grenadine label. It had directions for making a tequila sunrise using the exact ingredients I had just half hazardly put together. Weird huh?  Here is the official ingredients and measurements for making a Tequila sunrise:

3 parts Tequila
6 parts orange juice
1 part grenadine

Pour the tequila and orange juice into glass over ice. Add the grenadine, which will sink to the bottom. Do not stir. Garnish and serve.

And if what you really want to make is a Shirley Temple, this is how you make it:
2 parts ginger ale
1 part orange juice
Splash of grenadine

Or you can use lemon lime soda, with or without orange juice.  Add some booze and then you’ve got a “Dirty Shirley”

Cheers! Happy mixing!

Tomato Roses and Carrot Flowers

An easy way to take a basic dinner dish and make it fancy is to add some garnishes. It’s all about the presentation. I learned how to make vegetable flowers out of tomatoes and carrots in my Hospitality Foods class in grade 9.One of the few skills from high school I actually still use.
For the tomato roses:

Take a small to medium sized tomato and slice off the stem and any leaves

Flip the tomato over and start to slice the end off about 1/4 inch thick- but don’t cut all the way. Slide the knife around the outside of the tomato skinning it into one long piece.

As you can see in this photo to the left you will have a long slightly curled piece of  skin attached to the bottom slice of the tomato.

Take the free end and start to curl it and roll it back up to the base of your piece

Once it’s curled all the way prop the curled skin on the base.

Voila! Tomato Rose!

You will still have the rest of the tomato to chop up and use in whatever recipe you are making.
Next, the carrot flowers:

Peel one or two carrots. Using a sharp knife start to cut down into the carrot diagonally but do not slice down all the way. Rotate the carrot 3 or 4 times  and slice down into the side each time. By the time you get all the way around the carrot the tip of the carrot will be chopped off and transformed into a little flower.

 

Easy Homemade Hummus

Have you ever learned how to cook something new and wonder: A) Why it took you so long to learn how to make it?  and B) How you lived without it for so long?
Once I learned how to make hummus I definitely felt that way. I’ve always enjoyed heaping helpings of hummus at parties and social events but I thought it was too difficult to make myself. Boy was I wrong. It’s SO easy. In fact I think I like the hummus I make myself better that the stuff I used to buy at the store. Want to learn how to make hummus? Keep on reading, I’ve got the super simple instructions for you below.


Ingredients: 

1 can chickpeas aka garbanzo beans
1 small lemon
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of tahini
Herbs and other spices of you choice (optional)

Tahini is a paste made of roasted sesame seeds. It’s similar to peanut butter except it tastes quite different. Tahini is low in sodium and cholesterol and high in thiamin, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Tahini can be difficult to find at the grocery store. If you can’t find it where you normally shop try Whole Foods or other specialty grocery stores. Tahini is a popular ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes so you can probably  find it at a Middle Eastern or Indian grocery store. If you can’t find it you can omit it and just make the hummus with the other ingredients.

Instructions:

Drain your beans and blend in your food processor. Add the other ingredients one by one until they are all blended into a fluffy paste. It’s that simple!  Serve in a small bowl and drizzle some extra olive oil on top if you like. You can dip veggies and crackers in the hummus, eat it with pita bread, or my favorite, use it as a spread instead of mayo on a sandwich.
I like my hummus with a lot of garlic and lemon juice. The great thing about this recipe is you can add whatever you like to it. You could add beans, different spices, roasted peppers, anything that tickles your fancy!
Do you like to make your own hummus? Share your recipes in the comments!

Vegan Potato Pancakes

My husband bought a humongous bag of potatoes a few weeks ago and I was starting to worry that they would sprout and go bad before I had a chance to use them up. I decided this would be a good opportunity to try out a new recipe,. Vegan potato latkes! So yummy, but if you are trying to watch your weight this recipe might not be a good option since you use so much oil to fry them in.  Prep time about 15 minutes, cook time about 20.

Ingredients

3 lbs of potatoes
1 medium onion
1 egg replacer
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp baking powder
Olive oil for frying
Apple sauce and vegan sour cream for dipping

Directions:

Peel and cut potatoes into chunks.  Using the grate blade on your food processor grate all the potatoes and the onion. You can grate by hand with a cheese  grater but it will probably take you 3 weeks. I wasn’t going to even make this recipe if I couldn’t find the grate attachment for the food processor. 3lbs of potatoes is A LOT of taters.  In a bowl add the rest of the ingredients and mix them together with the grated potato and onion.
Heat the oil on medium in a large pan spoon in the potato mixture into the pan into little pancake patties  about 3- 4 inches in diameter.  Cook for 2-3 minutes then flip. Continue cooking and flipping until both sides are golden brown.
Serve with  applesauce and vegan sour cream.

Is Organic Worth It?

Organic lemons growing at my husbands grandparents house in Mexico

Organic fruits and veggies can cost 50-100% more than the non- organic varieties at the grocery store. It makes you wonder, is buying organic really worth the extra cost? Well according to the Environmental Working group a non profit organization that is based out of Washington DC some types of produce are more susceptible to pesticide residue than others. The group came up with a list of the “Dirty Dozen” the 12 foods that are definitely worth buying organic:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

This list above are the foods that you should focus on buying organic. These foods are affected most by chemicals and pesticides.
If you can’t afford to buy only organic, that’s OK. They also complied a list of 12 foods that have the least pesticide residue:

  • Papayas
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Bananas
  • Kiwifruit
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn (frozen)
  • Avocados
  • Onions
Homegrown avocado also grown at the grandparents in Mexico

So if you can only afford some organic foods make sure you stick to the dirty dozen.

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

 Make delicious vegan blueberry muffins with this yummy recipe!

A yummy treat to snack on in the morning, or anytime of the day actually! These taste best warmed up with melted margarine.

Ingredients
1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup organic applesauce
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup soymilk
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tbsp of cinnamon.

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 and grease your muffin tins
Mix your dry ingredients and then your wet. Blend with an electric mixer.
Add your blueberries and then spoon the mixture into the muffin tins until it is ¾ full.
Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Vegan Egg Replacements

egg replace

When I  first started experimenting with vegan cooking I was pleasantly surprised to find there are vegan alternatives to many, many foods. Mayo, milk, ice cream and  cheese,  all have vegan versions. A lot of vegan “meats” are made with tofu.  There are even egg substitutes for cooking such as Ener- G Egg Replacer. If you are ever cooking or baking a vegan meal and realize you don’t have any  powdered egg substitutes when you are midway through a recipe, don’t worry ! There are actually some homemade egg replacements you can make yourself.  This list comes from the cookbook Vegan Comfort Food by Alicia C. Simpson. As a substitute for one egg you can use one of the following:

  • 2 tablespoons potato or corn starch
  • 3 tablespoons or ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed simmered in 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ¼  cup soft silken tofu, pureed in a food processor or blender
  • ¼ cup plain soy yogurt

So far I have tried applesauce, cornstarch and the baking powder/vinegar mixture. They all seemed to work pretty well. You couldn’t tell there was an egg missing. Have you ever tried one of these substitutes? How did it turn out?

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Waffles

This recipe is a new favorite of mine. I’ve been going waffle crazy lately. Waffles for breakfast, waffles for afternoon snacks, even for dinner. It’s pretty quick to make and they totally fill you up.  These waffles are gluten free and vegan but you can’t tell from the taste 🙂

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten free flour
½ cup starch
2 tsp baking powder
¼ cup applesauce
1 cup soy or alternative milk
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup cocoa
2 tbsp agave syrup

Mix ingredients and pour into the waffle maker in batches.
The cocoa gives it a yummy chocolate taste. I garnish mine with cinnamon, nutmeg and some fresh fruit.  Pour on some maple syrup and you’re good to go!

Gluten Free Apple Pie

Fall is almost here and apples are in season and ready to be picked from the trees. Try this yummy apple pie recipe I whipped up. It’s gluten free too!

Gluten Free Apple Pie

Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon xantham gum

8 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

1 large egg

1 tablespoon gluten-free vanilla extract

Apple Filling:

7 Medium sized apples. Peeled, cored and sliced thinly

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

Crumble Topping

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cup butter, chilled & cut into small pieces

Directions

Mix dry crust ingredients, then add wet and mix well. Form a ball set in fridge to chill for a half hour
while the dough is chillin’ Mix the apples with the rest of the filling ingredients and set aside.
Get the oven preheated to 400 degrees.  Take crust dough out of fridge and flatten with a rolling pin. Form into a crust along the pie pan and add your apple filling in the middle.  Mix together your topping ingredients in a seperate bowl. Cover the apple filling with the topping. Bake for 40 minutes.

It’s really yummy and you would probably never know that it is gluten free!