Tag Archives: Cooking

enJoy the journey to Gluten Free


As some of you know I have recently been advised to try to eliminate Gluten from my diet due to a suspected Gluten Intolerance.   Wondering why I am capitalizing the Gluten?  Because its so damn yummy and hard to replicate of course!   This week – in a distinct effort to eat the same meal as the entire family, I tried to – ungluten-ize (ya that’s sooooooo a Joy word 🙂  ) some of our family-faves-clean-up-your plate recipes.  If you follow my blog – you will see that I found a Brown Rice Pasta that works perfectly for Penne and GF Meatballs.   Here are my next 2 attempts – one successful – scored a 10 from me, a 10 from hubby and a 7 from my 6 year old – Sweet Potato Enchiladas Verde Casserole and a “So-So Recipe With Potential” – Gluten Free Turkey Meatball Dumplings – scored a 4 from me, a 7 from Hubby and a 5 each from the kids.

**(skip to bottom for review of Chunky Green Salad with Basil Vinaigrette Dressing).

Sweet Potato Enchiladas Verde Casserole


*This casserole made of corn tortillas (make sure you read the ingredients – to ensure that yours do not contain gluten), sweet potatoes and spices combined with black beans & spinach makes a hearty & tasty meal These Sweet Potato Enchiladas  can’t be beat!

Filling:

2 1/4LB Sweet Potato – peeled and cut into chunks  (about 2 Large Potatoes)
1/8 LB (a bunch) or 10 g fresh spinach – washed & trimmed & blanched & drained
2 TB Cilantro Salsa (or 1/2 c fresh cilantro mashed with lime juice)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 large Red Onion
1 – 15oz can black beans drained and rinsed
1/4 LB (100g) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese (omit to make it vegan -maybe substitute in avocado for cheese? might be worth a try)
1tsp cumin
8 small (6 or 8 ” corn tortillas)
1 lime cut into slices or wedges.

Verde Sauce

Mix together – 1 jar ( 10-12oz) green salsa, 5 dashes cayenne sauce (optional), 1 1/2 c sour cream & 1/2 tsp minced garlic.

Directions:

  1. Bring a saucepan to a boil and add sweet potatoes until very tender.  Drain, return to hot sauce pan to eliminate any moisture.  Mash potatoes, add rest of ingredients except the cheese, sauce, lime  & tortillas.
  2. In the bottom of a greased lasagna pan/casserole dish spread a bit of sauce.  Add a layer (slightly overlapping) of tortillas (they may go up the sides of the pan a bit), top with a thin layer of cheese, then 3/4 of the filling, top with 1/2 of remaining sauce.
  3. Add another layer with the remaining tortillas, then the remaining filling and top with the remaining sauce. Top with lime slices.
  4. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through.  enJOY!

BONUS!

Extra Bonus – Grab a bag of Gluten Free Corn Tortilla Chips and reheat any leftovers and top with a bit more shredded mozzarella cheese and feast on no guilt nachos with the family!

Gluten Free Turkey Meatball Dumplings

This one we were expecting to come out like a turkey meatball stuffed yorkshire – however the “all purpose” gluten free flour I  was using made the batter almost like  a chicken ball batter, and they were difficult to brown.  That being said  – next time I would substitute a big chunk of chicken breast and a sweet and sour sauce and serve it as Chicken Balls…. or do this again and make a hollandaise  type of sauce, maybe a cranberry sauce for  a holiday meal, we dipped it in dijon mustard and that worked too.

Ingredients
1LB extra lean ground chicken (or large chunks of chicken breast)
1 Egg (beaten)
1 Tsp Oregano (or herbs to taste)
1/4 c gluten free bread crumbs
Dumpling:
1  Cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Milk
3 Eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees and place muffin trays inside to heat while the oven heats up.  meanwhile,  mix meat (if making meatballs), with beaten egg, herbs and bread crumbs – roll into large or small meatballs (we tried both).  Remove trays from oven, spray with cooking spray or mist some EVOO onto the tin).  Place Meatball into the centre of each muffin tin (we made some with a mini muffin tray and some with a full sized muffin stone.   Bake for 10 mins or until meatball is browned.  Remove tray from oven, pour batter over top to between 3/4 and totally full.  Put back into oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Enchiladas Casserole -shown served with Chunky Green Salad with Basil Vinaigrette Dressing (Tomatoes – Avocado – Chick peas – Green Leaf Lettuce – as expected was AWESOME  – that salad will be added to the rotation for sure!)   Thank you to fellow blogger:  Mrs Buena Vida for sharing the recipe!

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Its Egg-cellent choice! Top 10 ways we like Eggs & Veggie Omelet Recipe!


Breakfast is old news –  try eggs for lunch,  supper & snacks!  If any of you know me – you realize that our family loves fresh veggies, my hubby is a meat-a-tarian and we all love eggs, eggs and more eggs.  While this doesn’t make us very different than lots of other families.  I thought I would  highlight some of our big kids (mom and dad ) and smaller kids (the 4 year old and 6 year old’s) favourite ways to eat eggs.

Our Top 10 Fave ways to eat eggs!

  1. Hard boiled.  Hard boiled eggs are hands down our families fave snack.  We boil up a bunch and keep them in the fridge for quick snacking.   * Watching cholesterol or saturated fat?  Hard boiled eggs make it easy!  Just stick to the whites and for-go the yolks!
  2. Hard boiled on Salad or Wrap – cut up a hard boiled (from the ready to peel bowl in the fridge) and add to a salad or chop up and put in a wrap with  Sweet Heat Mango Hot Sauce, red onions and cucumber  (Mommies fave  quick lunch)
  3. Deviled Eggs – scoop the hard boiled yolks out add some dijon mustard and mayo whip, until creamy. Use a icing bag (or a sandwich bag with the corner cut off) to fill the egg whites.  Sprinkle with paprika OR Hard boiled eggs with the yolks removed and sprinkled with paprika. (This is 6 year old Leea’s fave).
  4. Egg Salad – add a little mayo, onion, celery, mustard and chopped up hard boiled eggs and top with lettuce and tomato for an easy lunch.  (my fave as a kid)
  5. Scrambled eggs – ’nuff said.  4 year old Ben’s fave is rye toast with peanut butter and  scrambled eggs (sometimes all together in a sandwich  – hey he’s 4 what can I say…)
  6.  Quiche – use up left over veggies, bacon, ham, spinach cheese etc with a great quiche (yes real men eat quiche (they just don’t admit it))
  7. On a buttered bagel with hot sauce (Sweet Mango Heat), cheddar cheese, red onion and salami (Dad’s fave lunch)
  8. Fried Eggs – served sunny side up or if in a sandwich over easy (Dad’s fave breakie or lunch) – preferably cooked in bacon drippings (barf – o sorry was that out loud it was supposed to be just for me)
  9. Toad in the Hole – butter bread, cut  hole out of the centre approx the size of an egg.  Add bread to  a hot  pan and crack an egg into the centre, cook as you would a fried egg.  (My ex-roommate’s fave and my sister’s fave growing up). Fry this in the bacon or sausage drippings if you really want to see a heart attack on a plate 🙂
  10. Veggie Omelet – Hands down my fave!  This is one of my fave dinners.  (recipe below).  Even my husband who makes a face when I say lets have a veggie omelet for supper has changed his tune and has decided that this is pretty. damn. good.  Make this into brunch by making homemade pancakes & sausage.  (Pancake recipe coming!)

Veggie Omelet (for 2)

  • EVOO
  • misc assorted veggies – I used 4 pieces asparagus – washed trimmed and cut into 3’s,  1 small stalk broccoli (chopped), 2 portabella mushrooms washed and sliced into good sized chunks, 1 zucchini peeled and sliced
  • 4 eggs – beaten with a fork
  • 2 dashes cayenne sauce (like Red Hot or Louisiana Sauce)
  • 3-4 TB milk  

  • ((more or less depending on taste)
  • 1/4 c feta cheese crumbled
  • fresh ground pepper
Heat a small frying pan.  Add some EVOO.  Add veggies, and cook until almost done (the asparagus and broccoli will turn bright green).    
Meanwhile whisk together beaten eggs, milk, hot sauce and black pepper.  Add to a hot medium sized pan.  I typically use a rubber scraper to pull back the edges of the omelet and let the uncooked  egg run down to fill in where the cooked portion is pulled back.  
Scrape (gently don’t break your egg base) the “wet” or uncooked runny part over to the side and let it flow to bottom of pan.  Add cooked veggies from the other pan to one side of the omelet.  Add the feta. flip on side over the filling. Allow to cook for a couple more minutes, remove and serve. 
** When I made the one in the picture at the top – I over filled the middle so my omelet would not close properly – we simple ate the extra veggies as they fell out.

hey y’all – it’s Gumbo!


Some of my loyal followers here know that I worked a couple of Blues Festivals (Southside Shuffle & Kitchener Blues Festival) over the summer with Mississippi Queen Foods.  If there was anything I learned while working with the Mississippi Queen  a.k.a Connie  herself is that if your going to serve southern to a bunch of BoozeHounds  I mean Blues Fans it had better be good – and if its good people will LOVE it! I tried my hand out at making some Gumbo myself last weekend and have the pictures to prove it 🙂  and damned if I don’t think it tastes pretty freaking awesome!

But first the lesson part of today 🙂  What is Gumbo exactly anyway?  Gumbo is a soup/stew that typically contains 3 different meats,  or whatever you have, with a base is made from a roux,  the “Holy Trinity” of onions, green peppers and celery (the base to a lot of  creole or cajun dishes).  It usually contains Okra, Andouille Sausage (spicy pork sausage native to the N’awlins area) and seafood. Gumbo was born on the plantations where the slave owners would throw the slaves the “scraps” and thus Gumbo was born (hey I didn’t say it had a pretty beginning!) .

When I decided to try my hand at Gumbo I didn’t have any filé (ground Sassafras leaf) which is used as a thickener & to add flavour,  instead I used okra as a thickener.  (If you are wondering where you can buy the filé or other southern groceries here in Canada – take a look at the MQF – General Store.)
The first thing I did was start my stock – you can use chicken stock or water, but I was making my gumbo with shrimp and was peeling them anyway so I went ahead and made my own shrimp stock.

Shrimp Stock

Peel shrimp for gumbo, add peels to a pot of water with a roughly chopped/chunked  onion, a green pepper and a tomato (I used organic ones from my local farmer, Svetec Farms but any will do).  Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until you need it (at least an hour or so), when ready to use, pour stock thru strainer and disregard veggies & peels.

Here’s my recipe!

The Joy of Gumbo (come on – I haven’t made a “Joy” reference for a long time!)

You will need:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 LB chopped  lean bacon (pay more and get the less fatty ones – we use side bacon)
  • 2 cups chopped okra (wash, cut stem off and chop

  •  1 LB spicy pork sausage
  • 10 tomatoes chopped
  • 1-2 Jalapeno’s chopped
  • 1/2 c butter – melted (or lard 0r bacon fat! yikes!)
  • 2/3 c  all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups or so chopped onion
  • 4 green onions – chopped
  • 10 small green peppers diced finely

  • 2/3 c celery chopped
  • 2 TB parsley
  • 3 TB minced garlic
  • water
  • 8 c Shrimp Stock
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 10  dashes Louisiana Hot Sauce (or cayenne pepper sauce)

  • 1 Tsp dried Thyme
  • 1 1/2 LB peeled uncooked shrimp – large sized
  • 1/2 LB peeled uncooked shrimp – small

Cooking Equipment:

  • stock pot, sauce pan, frying pan/skillet, strainer

Method

Gumbo is an all day process – or ideally overnight – leave yourself lots of time!
Time saver hint:  Use a food processor to shred or chop your veggies except okra and tomatoes.

  1. Brown the sausage in the skillet – preferably use andouille sausage but if you are here in Canada its harder to get – I used a hot pork sausage, removed it from the casing and added cajun spice to it.
  2. Once the sausages are browned, discard the fat in the skillet, drain sausage meat on paper towel and set aside.  Add bacon to skillet and. cook until well done.  Remove to paper towel and set aside.
  3. Stir the okra into the hot bacon grease and saute for about 5 minutes,  drain the okra in a colander and discard the bacon drippings.
  4. In saucepan, add okra, jalapeno and tomatoes over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer the okra mixture for about 10 minutes.
  5. In a large stock pot, melt the butter (or lard)  over medium heat, and cook and stir the onion, green onions, green pepper, celery, parsley, and garlic until the onion begins to turn brown.
  6. After about 10 minutes, remove the vegetables but leave the butter in the pot
  7. Pour a glass of wine.  (you’ll be standing in one place for a while – might as well enjoy it)
  8. Stir in the flour, reduce heat to low, and cook the roux, stirring constantly, until it darkens in colour (anywhere from carmel to a milk chocolate colour).
    30 to 45 minutes.
  9. Whisk in 2 cups  of water or stock
  10. Do not the roux burn.
  11. When the roux is the correct colour, Raise the heat to medium; stir in salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, and bay leaves, bring the mixture to a
     boil and stir in the sausage, bacon, okra-tomato mixture, and 6 more cups of
    stock.
  12. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer the gumbo, stirring occasionally, until the soup has thickened and the flavors are blended, about 45 minutes.
    Stir in the shrimp, and simmer until they turn pink and opaque, 6 to 8 more minutes. Discard bay leaves and adjust the seasonings, if desired, before serving.

Optional Step but I recommend.  

  1. If you can stand it, let the soup simmer for a few hours skimming fat/grease off the top every so often.  Personally, I like to refrigerate it overnight and let the fat form a layer on top, it can then can be easily skimmed off in the morning.

I serve this with Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread Muffins /Loaf. (Yes- I know its a stone and not a cast iron skillet – I couldn’t find my skillet- I sprayed the stone and preheated it previous to adding the batter, it worked pretty well)

Interesting to note: In Mississippi style southern cornbread there is no sugar or honey, the sweeter version is more popular in the north.   I make and prefer the unsweetened classic version but I had extra jalapeno’s so I them in.

You may wish to use filé or offer to anyone that wants a thicker gumbo (although this is pretty damn thick!).  You can substitute the meat ingredients however you wish,  chicken, catfish, crabmeat, crawfish, etc

Try it!  En”JOY” <grin> it and let me know what you think!

I recommend The Bayou Butt Burner Hot Sauce or Melinda’s Habanero Hot Sauce! ( you can order it online from MQF!)

Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and leave a comment!

Till next time y’all
from my kitchen to yours,  happy & healthy eating

Joy

In the soup… potato soup that is!


September 1 has come and gone … what happened to the summer anyway?  With Sept bring thoughts about “Back to School” (is anyone else singing “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” in their heads when the phrase Back to School is spoken?)  Back to school, back to routine, and back to the basics – and there is nothing more basic than a nice bowl of soup.  Perhaps my mind in stuck on soup because I have a wicked head cold and the medication has me all drugged up and creative   everyone knows that soup is a great comfort food when you are sick…. or on a cold day …. or when you don’t feel like cooking …. take your pick.

Over the weekend I catered my parents 45th Anniversary Party/BBQ and we hosted a Baked Potato Bar.  Never heard of one?  They are awesome – so many people commented that it was such a great idea!  Easy to do – wash, wrap potatoes in tinfoil and roast for an hour at 400 ahead of time (we roasted more than 75!!) (hint: split them in half first or partially so they are easier to dress later), then remove from oven and put in insulated cooler to keep hot.

When you serve – take some out of the cooler and  throw them into a big bowl for people to choose (we made smaller ones as we were serving tons of food and appy’s ahead of the meal).  Toppings can be placed in bowls and let people dress them as  they want – we used:  shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, fried onions, fresh salsa, sour cream, chipotle sour cream, (real) bacon bits, butter, margarine etc.   Other things I have included are chili or vegetarian chili etc.

Now what has all this got to do with soup you are wondering! Ha! Wfell let me tell you!  We ended up having a lot of extra baked potatoes (just due to the amount of food we had not anything to do with the taste!)  so we made some hashbrowns with with left over sausages, fried onions and some potatoes (added some rosemary and sage and baked them in the oven for brunch the next day), made a bit of potato salad, and still had some left over…. what to do, what to do…. Now I LOVE (yes in all caps! LOVE) Baked Potato Soup but traditionally it is made with bacon, bacon fat, sour cream and heavy cream so I thought I would rehab it and make it a little more appealing to my lifestyle (and health style!).

Here’s what I came up with:

Joy’s Baked Potato Soup Makeover

Ingredients:

  • 6 Large Baked Potatoes
  • 4 green onions white part only – chopped, reserve green part for garnish later
  • 5 -6 c vegetable stock (I make my own)

  • 4 organic carrots – shredded (if using organic just scrub them – if non organic, peel then shred them)
  • 3 cups 1% milk
  • 1-2 TB Basil
  • 2TB minced garlic (to taste)

  • 1/4 tsp salt(to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)
  • dash hot sauce (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 pieces peameal bacon
  • 1/3 c all purpose flour
  • 1/3 c EVOO or butter or margarine

Use 6 large (or in my case 12 or 13 small) baked potatoes, use a spoon to scoop out the inside.  Place in bowl and chopped into small pieces (I chop it right in the bowl – it doesn’t have to be pretty!)

Add shredded carrots.

carrots, potatoes, green onions

In dutch oven or deep saucepan, fry peameal bacon.

Remove to cutting board and dice.

Add to pan (there will be very little fat so don’t rinse it) green onion and garlic saute for a minute add other spices (you can use whatever spices you like  – I used bay leaves, garlic, basil).  Mix, remove to bowl or plate  while you make the roux.

In the hot pot, add flour and EVOO (or butter or margarine), and cook stirring until thickened.   Do not let it burn!

Add milk slowly, while mixing.

Once all the milk has been added in, add 3 cup of vegetable broth, the bacon, potatoes and carrots back into the pot, stir and let simmer for 30  mins (it will thicken even more) or longer.   Add more vegetable stock as desired.  ( I kept 1 c out and added it the next day).  If you plan on freezing the soup, add a bit of extra stock and mix before freezing.

Add salt and pepper as desired.

Top with cheddar cheese, green onions, and (if desired) sour cream).

Serve with fresh cornbread muffins (not the sweet ones the real southern cornbread muffins).

The upside – besides tasting awesome – you have a comfort food that pumped up the veggies by adding the carrots, reduced the saturated fat, by using peameal bacon and 1% milk, and punched up the taste without adding too much salt (using the spices) – don’t be afraid of people adding salt at the table – then at least they have a choice of how much salt to add.

Makes about 8 cups

Breakdown:  Calories: 319.3, Fat 10.6 g Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 4.6mg, Sodium 180.7mg, Carbohydrates 46.7g, Fiber 4.7g, Sugars 8.1 Proteins 7.2g.

From my kitchen to yours …. Happy & Healthy Eating!