Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Desserts and sweets are being made with all kinds of new and healthy ingredients lately, and chickpeas are definitely one of them.  I'm not even talking about chickpea flour, I'm talking about straight out of the can or cooked at home, small, round, chickpeas.  Perfect for the gluten free crowd, chickpeas can act as the dough, or the bulk of the dessert, meaning that you can skip over the need for flour, butter, and even an egg if you like.  In addition to that of course, it makes your sweet tooth satisfier a little more filling, and a lot more healthy.

I've recently found and made, two excellent chickpea dessert recipes from two different bloggers.  The recipes are quite similar in regards to ingredients, although one ends in soft, gooey dessert bars, and the other finishes in a cold, creamy creamsicle.

Chickpea Blondies

Chickpea Ice Pops

I don't really find that you can taste the chickpeas in these desserts, but they do taste more natural and earthy, and they are definitely denser and gooey than others.  I really like the flavour, and it definitely still serves it's purpose.  Which is of course to deliver sweet, chocolatey goodness.

First up, here is the link to Ambitious Kitchen's Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies.  These sweet little bars are definitely a very gooey brownie type texture.  I had to cook mine double the amount of time that she recommends, in order to be able to cut them apart.  The batter itself is pretty much worth eating, and totally doable since it's egg and flour free.  But if you can wait until after cooked, I actually preferred to keep them in the fridge and eat them cold.  

Chickpea Blondies

Next I tried A Life Including Cake's recipe for Cookie Dough Ice Pop's.  As I mentioned, it's very much a similar ingredient list, except here the result is a little bit of a looser dough, which then gets poured into ice pop molds.  Yum.  This is like an ice cream treat, except I feel wayyyy better after eating it because my stomach is not rolling in cream, and I have massive chickpea energy.  Yup, chickpea energy.  It's totally a thing.  I also used cocoa nibs in this recipe as she recommends, instead of chocolate chips.  They are very frozen when they come out, but the result is worth a minute wait to enjoy these little guys.

Chickpea Ice Pops

Two of my girlfriends loved the blondies, while my boyfriend wasn't completely sold.  I'm quickly devouring the ice pops before I have the chance (am forced to) share.  Maybe it's a girl/guy thing?  Either way, I think they are both awesome, and I'm excited to see more recipes, and perhaps a few creations of my own with a can of legumes incorporated into it.  Go beans!

Monday, 29 July 2013


Oatmeal is great.  It's healthy, nutritious, economical, easy, and feels warm and comforting.  But in the summer, warm and comforting is not necessarily what you're going for.  Cool and quick is more the summertime speed.  That's why overnight oats have got it going on in the summer.
Overnight Oats

The idea is simple.  Mix up your oats in the evening and place them in the fridge.  In the morning, just take them out, top as desired, and eat.  Cool and creamy, these oats will not only please your taste buds, but will also have you rocking out all day. High in fibre and low in calories, oats provide energy for your workout, your errands, or whatever it is your undoubtedly busy day is filled with.

In the winter I'm all about using steel cut oats, because they go further both in your cupboard and your belly.  But they do take a bit more time, and they do require the use of the stove.  So, for these summertime overnight oats, I switch over to rolled oats. They have a shorter cooking time (in this case "sitting in the fridge time") and they are still super good for your bod.

Now for the details.  These oats are really easy to customize based on your own tastes and preferences, but it's nice to have a few recipes to try out the first few times, as you get the hang of it.  Here are my two favourite recipes for overnight oats. Cinnamon Overnights Oats is a simple and basic recipe and delicious topped with fresh berries.  The second is a must try.  The Strawberry Cocoa Overnight Oats recipe is just a little bit sweet, with a small bit of chocolate added in.  I'm not one for super sweet breakfasts, but this is just the right amount of tastiness without tipping over into indulgence territory.

Cinnamon Overnight Oats
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon flax
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all ingredients into a mason jar, and shake vigorously until completely combined.  If you don't have a mason jar, use a container with a tight fitting lid (shaking the mixture is key).  Keep the jar in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, remove from the fridge, top with fresh fruit, and enjoy.

Overnight Oats

Strawberry Cocoa Overnight Oats
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon flax
1 heaping teaspoon strawberry jam (homemade if possible)
1 teaspoon cocoa nibs

Place all ingredients into a mason jar, and shake vigorously until completely combined.  If you don't have a mason jar, use a container with a tight fitting lid (shaking the mixture is key).  Keep the jar in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, remove from the fridge, top with coconut flakes or strawberries, and enjoy.

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats may not be the prettiest dishes to look at (or photograph), but they sure taste good.  And since all they ask is that you shake them and put them in the fridge for a few hours, they aren't very demanding either.   Now you have no excuse to skip breakfast tomorrow.

Sunday, 28 July 2013


Cheese Biscuits

Cheese bread, cheese buns, cheese sticks, basically any cheese/bread combo is always amazing.  Yes, this may have something to do with my cheese obsession, but mostly I think it's just because both bread and cheese and awesome.  Everyone loves them both, right?  So put them together and it's like an ultimate power couple.  They throw the best parties.  They have the best relationship.  They always bring you to the coolest events.  And they make the best gluten free cheese biscuits.

Cheese Biscuits

I'm not going to say that these taste just like a non-gluten-free biscuit, because they don't.  Let's face it, gluten free food will never, ever, taste just like the real thing.  But hey, when the top of a biscuit is covered in golden crispy melted cheese, I'm not going to complain.

Cheese Biscuits

That's what makes these biscuits for me.  I used a blend of mozzarella, provolone, gouda, and parmesan, which is a kick ass cheese blend.  The provolone and gouda are strong, and make a statement, and the mozzarella is stretchy in the best possible cheesy way.  It makes for a powerful quatro of cheese in every bite.

Cheese Biscuits

Provo/Mozza/Gouda/Parma Cheese Biscuits
Adapted from Honey and Brie Recipe
1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into small chunks
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (mix of provolone, mozzarella, gouda, parmesan)
1/2 cup plain 0% greek yogurt
2 tablespoons water

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Use your fingers to mix in the chunks of butter (I freeze them for a few minutes beforehand to make sure they are good and cold) until it becomes pea sized chunks.  Mix in the green onion and 1 cup of the grated cheese.  In another bowl, mix together the yogurt and water, and then add to the dough.  Form the dough into a large ball and roll out on a floured surface to be about 1 inch thick.  Make sure your rolling pin is floured as well to avoid a sticky situation (har har).  Cut the dough into squares, and transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Sprinkle to tops with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, and place in the freezer.  Preheat the over to 450 degrees.  Once ready, remove the biscuits from the freezer and bake for 15 minutes.

I find these are best when heated up.  Warm them in the oven, toaster, or microwave to reheat, and then enjoy with a bit of butter, or use for an ultra-super-sandwich.  Yum!

Saturday, 27 July 2013


Iced Tea

This is so ingenious, I can't believe I never thought of it.  The internet really is magnificent.  Especially when it comes to making your own iced tea lattes.  Who doesn't love getting a fancy cold drink at Starbucks?  I do, that's who.  But it's always so hard to choose, and I have to implement visitation restrictions or I could just drift off in a caffeine filled cloud every week.  But in my own home, there are no tea restrictions whatsoever.

So here's the scoop.  Brew your favourite kind of black tea, adding sweetener as you normally would, and then pour it into ice cube trays and freeze.  From that point forward, whenever you are looking for a cool drink, just pop out a few iced tea cubes, and pour cold milk over them in a glass.  Sip away and enjoy your very own iced tea latte.  Easy right?

Iced Tea Latte

I've been drinking these all week.  It's a great after lunch treat when you just need that elusive "something else".  Or in the morning.  Or later in the afternoon.  Or if you use decaf tea, just about any time you darn please.

I used my favourite tea, from David's Tea.  It's called "Stormy Night" and it's a blend of black tea with chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, and vanilla......basically all my bestest things in one container.  I made a full pot, and then added a few squeezes of agave syrup and mixed it together.  Then I let it cool down for a couple of hours before I attempted to pour it into the ice cube trays.  I'm clumsy.  I will spill things.  I would rather not have it be hot tea.

I'm also a huge fan of giant cube ice cube trays (for no good reason, other than I think they are awesome).  That's why my iced tea cubes are rather enormous.  But don't worry, regular trays work just as well.  Just don't mistake these cubes when you're looking for regular ice.  And maybe inform family members in advance so that they don't think you are freezing muddy water.

Iced Tea Latte

The iced tead will melt slowly as you sip.  It's yummy and it seems a bit special somehow.  Like I'm getting a treat.  I think this would work well with any kind of black tea.  Chai tea would be very good, as would a classic Earl Grey.  Next round I'm going to use "Creamy Earl Grey" from David's Tea which has lovely notes of vanilla mixed in.  Perfect for an afternoon on the balcony/deck/backyard.

Thursday, 25 July 2013


My dad is an expert hummus maker.  Well, in my opinion at least.  From the time I was small, I can remember begging my dad to whip up a batch of his infamous chickpea dip for me to snack on.  And when my friends came over, I would always insist that they try this beige coloured dip that smelled very, very different from anything they had had before.

Yes, I personally introduced my white, suburban, childhood friends to this classic dip, spreading the  joy of hummus whenever I could.  Okay, so maybe it's not a global effort on my part, but really I think I did my share no?  Anyways, as soon as I had a kitchen of my own that I was willing to cook in (read: not in university, not when travelling, but only when settled with full time employment) I called up my dear father and insisted that he tell me how to make it.

Well, this was followed by much hemming and hawing and comments like "oh well, it's easy it's just chickpeas and tahini".  Full stop.  "But how many chickpeas, and how much tahini Dad? What are the specific measurements?  And what else?  And what do I do with it all?  What are the exact steps?"

Let me just say, that my father is an excellent cook.  However, we are two very different types of cooks.  I need detailed and precise instructions, and he, well he just wings it.   But, since hummus really is extremely easy to make, it wasn't long before I had the notes that I needed.  Since then, I've tweaked it slightly to my own taste preferences (come on garlic!), and lightened it up a bit so that it's a guilt free snack.  But it will always be my dad's hummus.


My Father's Hummus
1 can of chickpeas, drained (reserve liquid) / 2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 tablespoons chickpea liquid (reserved from can or cooking)

Place the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and cumin in a food processor. Mix on high until fully combined.  Then, while the blender is running, drizzle in the oil and chickpea liquid until the mixture becomes smooth, creamy and luscious.  Yes, I said luscious!  You can add more or less of the chickpea liquid to get the desired consistency.  I find that adding it slowly while the blender is on really gives it an extra creamy texture, even though the amount of oil is reduced.


I know most people eat hummus all the time, but homemade hummus is on a whole other level.  It's so flavourful and fresh, you'll want to eat the whole bowl right away.   I just dare you to try and restrain yourself from using your fingers to scrape the blender clean of any last bits of this dip.

Friday, 19 July 2013



Brunch season is in full swing, and that means kitschy cafes and flower filled patios are rocking from early morning to late afternoon.  The most coveted brunch dish of all, is most certainly the "bennie" and with multiple varieties and flavour options to choose from, brunch time can be a stressful occasion!  Brie and bacon?  Roasted summer vegetables and cheddar?  Fresh tomatoes and herbs?  I could go on.  And all of these succulent options come with a perfectly poached egg, smothered in creamy, luscious hollandaise sauce.

I've been trying to become a poached egg expert for some time now (and failing), and as far as hollandaise goes, well that has seemed like a mystery that only the gods hold the secret to.  Until now.  Eggs benedict, I'm coming for you.

Let's break this down.  First there are the eggs.  Everyone has their own tips and tricks for getting perfectly poached eggs.  But do they work every single time?  Does it involve using copious amounts of vinegar?  What about stirring like a maniac until the water in the pot has reached the optimal vortex position and then trying to get your egg into said vortex before it disappears?  Or maybe you've given up and moved over to the little yellow cups that turn out slightly watery eggs, shaped like a custard dessert and promising to leave eggy remains on the cups that you will have to scrape vigorously at later that day?  Well, I've done all of these things.  No more I say!

Perfectly Poached Eggs has an incredible article/video segment on getting perfectly poached eggs, every time.  Here's the link to the full article, but I'm going to break it down for you here too.

1)  First, make sure you are using a fresh egg.  If placed in a cup of water, a fresh egg will sink and lie flat.  An un-fresh egg will stand up straight or float to the top.

2)  Second, get a fine mesh strainer.  This is the only thing you will need (other than your pot of water on the stove).  Get the water nice and hot, almost simmering.  Not boiling.

3)  Crack the egg and pour it into the fine mesh strainer.  Then swirl it around in the strainer (over the sink or a bowl) to remove all of the tendrils of egg white.  You'll be left with a compact egg that's ready to be poached.

4)  Use the strainer to get the egg into the water.  Lower it slowly into the pot of water, and then carefully roll it out in the water.

5)  Then, just keep the egg moving around with a slotted spoon, for about 3-4 minutes.  Remove with you slotted spoon, and you're done.

There may be a few tense moments, on your first time.  But it's going to be okay.  It may look like your egg is going to disintegrate once it's in the water - just start stirring.  It may take a moment or two to get your system down (I set up a station with a bowl to crack the egg into, and then another bowl to cover the strainer swirl action, and then right into the pot).  But whatever happens, I swear you are going to have poached eggs when it's all over.  Perfectly cooked, slightly runny, beautiful poached eggs.

Poached Eggs

Moving on.  Holla back hollandaise!

Hollandaise Sauce has provided again, with another amazing video/article on how to make hollandaise sauce in just a couple minutes.  I'll admit it, I had my doubts.  But it worked.  First time.  That's why they call it foolproof.  No biggie.  Here's the scoop from Serious Eats:

1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
8 tablespoons butter
Cayenne pepper

Combine egg yolk, water, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in the bottom of a cup that barely fits the head of an immersion blender.  (This is important.  I used the plastic measuring cup that came with my Cuisinart immersion blender and it worked great).  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over high heat, swirling constantly, until foaming subsides.  Transfer the butter to a 1 cup liquid measuring cup.

Place the head of the immersion blender into the bottom of the cup and turn it on.  With the blender constantly running, slowly pour hot butter into the cup.  It should emulsify with the egg yolk and lemon juice.  Continue pouring until all the butter is added.  The hollandaise sauce should be thick and creamy.  Season to taste with salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper or hot sauce.

Serve immediately, or transfer to a small lidded pot and keep in a warm place for up to 1 hour before serving.  The hollandaise cannot be cooled and reheated.  (So you will have to enjoy it right away!)

Hollandaise Sauce

Okay, so we've mastered the two components and we now have perfectly poached eggs, AND creamy hollandaise sauce.  NOW PUT THEM TOGETHER!  Just don't plan a hike, or really even a stroll after this meal because seriously, this is rich.  But also delicious and heavenly and just like how your favourite brunch spot makes it.  All you need to do is pair it with your favorite bread, cheese, veg or whatever, and you're off to the races.  I was trying (I don't know why I even bothered) to lighten this up a little bit so I put mine on a bed of steamed kale.  But that part's all up to you, and your own eggs benedict.


Thursday, 18 July 2013


I am not even going to mention the heat.  I'm not even going to tell you how I nearly keeled over on my bike in the sun the other day, how my back is bright pink at the top, how our air conditioning has been on the fritz the last few days.  I'm not going to say anything about it.  What I will say is, who doesn't love ice cream?!

Cold, creamy, smooth, melty ice cream.  It's perfect for these (not going to say it) summer days.  It's tempting to eat it every day.  That's why I can't keep it in my freezer.  Which is why I'm always suggesting a little stroll down the road to Ed's Ice Cream shop.  Which is how I still end up eating it wayyy to often.

Then the day came where I was too lazy to stroll down the street to the ice cream shop.  And so I made Cheater's Ice Cream. This ice cream requires no special equipment and no endless stirring.  It's just whip, mix, freeze, and eat.  And it works because it has a high sugar content.  That's my kind of ice cream.

For a vanilla ice cream, just take a 500 ml container (2 cups) of whipping cream, and whip it in a large bowl.  In a small bowl mix one can of sweetened condensed milk (such as Eagle Brand) and 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.  Fold that into the whipped cream.

Then, if you aren't the most boring person in the world, add in some extra treats!  I folded in about a cup of roughly chopped extra dark chocolate.  I'm only semi-boring.  A more adventurous person might add nuts, or coconut flakes, or berries, or jam, or coffee, or cinnamon, or possibly everything all at once.  Well, maybe not that.  But you get the idea.  If you want a chocolate base, then just mix a half cup of chocolate syrup into the condensed milk before mixing everything together.  This is your ice cream, make it your way.

Pour your unfrozen ice cream into a dish or container.  Freeze for a few hours (minimum 5-6) and then enjoy.

If you're going to be serving the ice cream then you can use a loaf pan and just cut slices out, or flip the whole block out onto a serving plate before slicing.  Or just scoop it out the good ol' fashioned way.  As I said, who doesn't love ice cream?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


After catching a Mexican Tomato Soup recipe on Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals show a few weeks ago, I knew it was going to be a good one, full of flavour with a good chili kick of course.  And since he paired the soup with nachos, I thought a nice twist of my own would be to swap those for a fried taco, filled with basically all the same ingredients that were going into the soup.

Mexican Tomato Soup

Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals are truly fantastic.  The objective of course, is to show people that cooking good, healthy, real food at home is entirely possible, even with our crazy, busy, stress filled lives to contend with.  I'm all for that.  But what I really find appealing about Jamie's style in his videos and recipes, is how natural and inspirational he always is.  He chooses foods that are bright in colour, flavours that are bold in taste, ingredients from all over the world, and combines everything in this fantastically messy, yet beautiful way.  I mean, who wouldn't want to eat like that?

Mexican Tomato Soup

Like this Mexican Tomato soup.  Bright red, with creamy jalapeno sauce, and chunks of fresh red tomatoes, smooth green avocados, cilantro, feta, green onions, and lime, it's completely beautiful and totally appetizing. It's also an absolute delight to eat.  You start with the basic soup in your bowl, and then you get to throw in as many extra's as you want.  Like my partner in crime for example, he probably used about half a cup of the jalapeno sauce in one bowl of soup, but hey whatever makes you happy.  And this soup made us both, very, very happy.

Mexican Tomato Soup

This could definitely be a light supper on its own in my opinion, but I was feeling a bit celebratory (for no reason whatsoever) so I decided that another delicious dinner component was absolutely necessary.  Tacos for instance.  But it had to be tacos that are all toasty and crispy on the outside, and warm and gooey on the inside.  To go with the soup of course.  Kind of like a quesadilla, but in my mind, simply a crunchy taco.  The best part?  Using that amazing jalapeno sauce from Jamie's soup recipe as a dipping sauce for the crunchy taco.

Crunchy Tacos

On that note, this jalapeno sauce is now going to be a staple in our fridge.  It takes seconds to make, but it is so good, I've already used it as a veggie dip, a sandwich spread, a salad dressing, and then I made more and used it as a pizza crust dipping sauce too.  Basically any excuse to eat this stuff, and I will take it.  It's got kick for sure, but you can use as many or as few jalapenos as you like, and since I used 0% greek yogurt it's also guilt free.  Right?  It is, right?

Okay, here's the link to watch Jamie's 15 Minute Meals episode (the Mexican Tomato Soup is in the second half of the video) and I've also included Jamie's recipe below for the soup (with a few adaptations) and my own recipe for Crunchy Tacos.

Jamie's Mexican Tomato Soup (slightly adapted)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small bunch of green onions
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup basmati rice
450g jarred red peppers
28oz can of diced tomatoes
1 cup 0% plain greek yogurt
2 tsp pickled jalapeno chilies
2 limes
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup feta cheese

Trim and finely slice the green onions.  Reserve some for garnish and put the rest into a pan on high heat with 2 tablespoons of oil.  Add in the cilantro stalks (reserving the leaves).  Mince the garlic and add to the pan with the rice, drained jarred peppers, and the canned tomatoes.  Pour in 850 ml of boiling water, add a pinch of salt and cover with the lid.  Half the tomatoes, and slice the avocado, and place them along with the feta, reserved green onions, cilantro leaves, and lime slices onto a serving board.

In a bowl, use an immersion blender to mix the yogurt and the jalapenos along with a splash of their pickling vinegar (crucial, it's so good!).  Then use the immersion blender in the soup until the texture is smooth.  Add in the juice of 1/2 a lime, and season to taste.  Serve in bowls, and let everyone add their own sauce and toppings.

Crunchy Tacos
1 large gluten free tortilla (I used Fit For Life Brown Rice, but I think any would work)
1 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup tomato, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 shredded cheese (I used a provolone/mozza mix, but cheddar or mozza would work just fine)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, except the tortilla.  Heat a pan on high, and coat lightly with oil.  Place the tortilla in the pan for about one minute, until slightly browned, then add the mixture to one half of the tortilla, and fold over the other half.  Cook about one minute, then flip over to the other side for another minute.  Remove from pan, cut in half and serve with the jalapeno sauce from above.  Serves 2.

Jamie's Mexican Tomato Soup paired with Crunchy Tacos makes a food fiesta you won't want to forget.  Quick and easy, it's a great Friday night dinner that gets in lots of good healthy stuff along with tasty things like cheese that are also necessary in a whole different kinda way.  Let the fiesta begin!

Friday, 12 July 2013


It has been hot lately.  I mean, really, really hot.  Humidity has taken over our lives, and the air conditioning is working on overtime.  And yet, I keep cooking.  Yes, it smells great, yes it's delicious, but it is also getting very steamy!  I finally decided to take a break from my madness, and instead of cooking I threw a bunch of ingredients into a bowl.  I'm calling it Summer Quinoa Salad and though simple to make, this deliciously cool dish is anything but plain.  I've eaten it for three days straight, because I just can't get enough of the crunch from the nuts and the slaw, the variety of fresh vegetables, and the salty, tangy, peanutty flavour of the dressing.

Quinoa Salad

Summer Quinoa Salad
Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen's Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad Recipe

3 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup broccoli slaw (buy it in ready to go bags from the produce section)
1 cup carrot slaw
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 green pepper, diced
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl.

1/4 peanut butter (I used my homemade peanut butter, yum!)
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
3 tablespoons gluten free tamari sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place peanut butter and honey in a small bowl and warm in the microwave until the consistency is smooth and easy to stir, about 30 seconds.  Add remaining dressing ingredients and whisk together with a fork until completely combined.  Add to salad mixture and toss until thoroughly covered.

So easy to make, vegetarian and gluten free, this Summer Quinoa Salad is filling, packed with flavour, and full of good nutrition.  Works perfectly as a cool summer lunch, a quick dinner, or as a side to your favourite barbecued chicken.

Sunday, 7 July 2013


Peanut Butter

I've written about my love for peanut butter before.  And well, I still love it.  A lot.  There's something about the gooey, stick to your mouth texture and sweet yet salty peanutty flavour that is just so addictive.  And since I'm a loyal consumer of the all natural, 100% peanuts brands, I also love to fool myself into thinking that it's always perfectly healthy and just the right thing for me to eat, at any moment.  Or all the moments.

As I polished off yet another jar of the beloved peanut butter and added it to my grocery list, I paused for a minute.  Why had I never tried making peanut butter myself before?  As I was well aware, it's just made of peanuts.  I could easily buy a bag of peanuts!  Better yet....if I made it myself, what other flavours could I add to it?

Peanut Butter Ingredients

I am going to get to the description of making it, but like a mystery novel that you just can't put down, sometimes you just have to skip to the end first.  Amazing.  Pure, delicious, amazingness.  Smooth and creamy, with the best flavour I have ever had in a peanut butter before.  Okay, now back to the beginning.

For those who love simple and traditional, a pure peanut butter will certainly fit the bill.  About three cups of unsalted, roasted peanuts, and a half teaspoon sea salt go into a good quality blender for about 10 minutes, and out comes a perfectly smooth, beautifully flavourful peanut butter (it will get very clumpy before it gets smooth but just keep blending!).  It's way better than store bought.  I thought my love for peanut butter could not get stronger.  Oh, but it did.

Peanut Butter

And then, peanut butter and I took our relationship to the next level.  After scooping half of the simple peanut butter into a jar and into the fridge, I gave a little extra attention to the remaining half, still in the blender.  I added 1 teaspoon of honey and the seeds from one half of a vanilla bean.  Blend until combined, and taste.  Slightly sticky sweetness from the honey, real vanilla, and sea salt create a complex layer to a classic peanut spread.  It's breakfast, dessert and snacking all rolled into one.  It's the grow old together and still want to hold hands kind of love.

Peanut Butter

Whether you choose to go the classic peanut butter route, try a new flavour twist on the traditional snack, or even do a little of both with one batch, you'll be impressed with the pure, rich, peanut flavour.  It's pure peanut butter love.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Grilled cheese is the ultimate comfort food.  It's been around since childhood, toasty warm from the pan with crisp crusts and gooey middles.  It's also made a big appearance in the restaurant scene, with gourmet ingredients like brie cheese, specialty chutneys, and artisan breads.  Either way, it's always irrefutably delicious.

Now that I'm gluten free it's more difficult to get gourmet grilled cheese out on the town, so I brought it back into my kitchen with a few of my own tricks.  This grilled cheese is intensely melty on the inside, finely crispy on the outside, and bursting with flavour from all angles.

Grilled Cheese Recipe

I did two sandwiches, each with it's own extra pop of flavour, spread liberally on the inside of the bread, right beside the slices of cheese.  The first is a standard pesto sauce.  This nutty, herb sauce is packed full of taste, and will really kick the sandwich up a notch.  

On the other sandwich, I used a roasted red pepper puree, called ajver (pronounced like 'iver').  I luckily snagged one of these little jars of homemade heaven from my boyfriend's mother's kitchen.  I've used it mixed with goat cheese for a dip, or mixed into scrambled eggs, or in this case, as a sandwich spread.  It adds a ton of flavour to the grilled cheese, without taking over the taste of the cheese itself.  You can usually find a jar of ajver in the ethnic section of the grocery store (or you could make your own too!).

The cheese I used was a spiced gouda, party because I knew it would taste good, and partly because that's what I had in the fridge at the time!  My favourite option is a strong gouda or sharp white cheddar, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

Grilled Cheese Crust Recipe

The next way to trick out your grilled cheese is to do a parmesan crust on the outside of the bread slices.  Start by softening about 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave, and then mix in about 2 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Once you have a good, cheesy paste mixed together, spread that over the outside of the bread slices.  Then pop the sandwiches onto a hot pan, and cover with a lid to make sure the cheese inside gets fully melted.  The sandwiches only need about 1-2 minutes on each side, as the parmesan crust gets crispy pretty quickly.

Grilled Cheese Recipe

Grilled Cheese Recipe

Dig in quickly!  You'll love the extra bite of sharp cheese on the outside, the unique flavours inside, and the crunch these jazzed up grilled cheeses have.  It's comfort food, at a whole new level - no ketchup required.