Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Glory Bowl.

On Friday night I went to Rain City Chronicles at The Salt Building, for an evening of wonderful stories and music all on the topic of "What Feeds Us".  From the Rain City website: Rain City Chronicles is a series of storytelling nights featuring a diverse roster of Vancouverites. From your favourite actress to the guy who sells you coffee, we believe everyone has a great personal story to tell. Our mission is to provide a community space for sharing these stories.

I had no idea when I bought the tickets what the evening would be like but was so inspired by the stories. There were speakers that were informative, stories that left me teary and so many funny tales. Preet Marwaha, owner of Organic Lives told about his Crohn's Disease diagnosis and his life changing decision to eat a healthy and pure diet. I've been really unwell lately and struggling to find food that doesn't make me feel sick. I'm trying to eat a more natural diet and it does seem to make things less painful. 

A friend told me about this salad dressing last week, I made it that night and now I'm completely hooked. It's creamy, tangy and delicious. The recipe is from Whitewater Cooks and is now one of my all time favourites. In the book it's served with brown rice, spinach, almonds, tofu, carrots and beets - I haven't tried that yet, I've been having it on salads.


Glory Bowl Dressing
Whitewater Cooks by BC chef Shelley Adams  
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used 1 cup of olive oil instead)
2 tbsp tahini paste
Mix well in blender or processor and keep in a mason jar.

I've been having mine on mixed greens with chopped fennel, pea shoots, cucumber, feta and grated beet. Dreamy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Apple Bran Muffins

Every Sunday I make a batch of muffins, freezing half of them to thaw later in the week. I was getting tired of all my regular recipes and I threw these together with what I had on hand and they ended up being really tasty! So healthy and with no added oil or butter.

Apple Bran Muffins
Makes 2 dozen mini muffins and 6 regular muffins, or 12 regular size muffins.
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely chopped dried fruit (I used a mix of raisins, prunes and dried apple)
1 apple finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375°.
In a large bowl mix wheat bran with buttermilk, let stand for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl whisk applesauce, egg, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Add bran and buttermilk mixture, stir well to combine. Add flour, soda, powder, salt, dried fruit and chopped apple - stir just to combine.
Scoop into oiled muffin pans and bake for 12-14 minutes for mini muffins and 18-20 minutes for regular muffins. 

Milly the mouse hanging out with Hannah while the muffins were cooking.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Braised Chicken with Saffron and Preserved Lemons

This past summer I decided to make preserved lemons, you can find the recipe here. I meant to use them many times over the fall, but life got busy and I forgot about the jar in the back of the fridge. On Sunday, after a long and stressful work week, I needed to cook to unwind, I was inspired to try the lemons.
I did some research for cooking with preserved lemons and couldn't find anything that I wanted to make, this is what I came up with - we loved it.
If you don't have the time or interest in making preserved lemons yourself, I have found them at a few Mediterranean delis, if you're in Vancouver, Yek-O-Yek on Main Street sells them.

Braised Chicken with Saffron and Preserved Lemons
6 - 8 bone in, skin on organic chicken thighs
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 preserved lemon, rinsed very well, pulp removed and finely chopped
1 pinch of saffron
salt and pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Mix flour with a generous amount of salt and pepper, lightly coat the chicken with flour mixture. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and butter in a heavy bottom over medium high heat and add 3- 4 pieces of chicken. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and do the same with the remaining chicken, remove from the pan. 
Add the onions and fennel, stirring well to lift any crispy chicken bits in with the veggies. Saute for 4 minutes and then add chicken stock, 1/2 of the preserved lemon, saffron, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Turn heat down to medium low, place chicken on the top of the veggies, put lid on and let simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove from heat, add remaining lemon and the chopped parsley, mix well and enjoy!

I served this with a very simple couscous dish.

Couscous with Pistachios and Mint
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 1/4 cup water 
1 tbsp butter
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
1/3 cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of a lemon

In a sauce pan, bring water to the boil, add couscous and butter, remove from heat, put lid on and let sit for 5 minutes.
In a mixing bowl combine onions, mint, pistachios, olive oil, lemon and salt. 
Once couscous has sat for five minutes, fluff it with a fork and add to the bowl. Mix everything together and season if needed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Work and books.

Work is very busy these days and only ramping up to what will be two crazy weeks starting on Monday. I'm doing a couch to 10k training program and at the gym every night. I forgot how much I love running, it takes a lot of effort at 7:30 pm to head off to the gym, but once I'm home after a run - I'm so happy to have gone.

I came across this on Scout today and am so in awe of the creativity and time that was needed to make this. Genius!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip

January, the month of very healthy eating!
I wanted to make a dip that would be really healthy, tasty and keep well in the fridge.

Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip
2 large eggplants, washed and chopped in to 1/4" cubes
2 red peppers, washed and chopped in to 1/4" cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt and pepper 
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350°.
Put eggplant, red pepper, garlic and olive oil on a large cookie sheet, season with salt and pepper, toss to cover. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the veggies at 20 minutes and 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool. Transfer to a large bowl and mix basil through, mashing some of the veggies in the process to create a creaminess. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy with crackers, breads, as a side dish or on its own with grated cheese.

Herbed Salt

We always like to give a homemade gift at Christmas, in the past we've there's been homemade marshmallows and cinnamon hot cocoa kits, different spice rubs, homemade cannelloni packages. This year was my favourite and it's so easy to make.

Garlic Herbed Salt
This made enough to fill fourteen small mason jars, you could easily half the recipe.
2 boxes of kosher salt (3lbs each)
12-14 garlic cloves, cut in chunks *
6 bunches of fresh herbs - I used oregano, sage, basil and rosemary

Strip the leaves off the herbs. In two batches in a food processor, pulse the herbs and garlic until they are finely minced. In a large bowl mix the herbs thoroughly with the salt.
Let dry on cookie sheets for 2-3 days, there will be some hard bits, stir to break them up. Store in jars, the salt dries the garlic and herbs and these keep indefinitely.

Next time I make this I'm going to do a lemon and chili blend too. This salt is so tasty, we've been putting it on everything. My favourite so far is on a soft boiled egg!

* I used this method for peeling the garlic - genius!!  (I used two medium sized glass mixing bowls)

Happy New Year!

This year I'm looking for a little more calm in my life, taking the time to look after myself and allowing the little things to slide. I like this list a whole lot and plan on really following it.

We had a wonderful Christmas break, a relaxed New Year, our friends and their little guys Hannah's age just left after a New Year's Day brunch and life is good.

Wishing you the best for 2012!