Friday, September 3, 2010

Too many Peaches?

Just a follow up to that last recipe--if you lovelove peaches like myself and wish you had access to them in the can!  it is so easy to freeze them and store them for things like wintertime-peach cobbler, or smoothies or for your cereal in the morning..hmm

- Peaches (as many as you would like)
- 1 Lemon or so (you will need the juice so it depends on how many peaches
- a flat surface, preferably a cookie sheet (a plate would work just fine)
-a bag or container to keep them in after they are frozen

1.  Slice the peaches into flat thin strips
2. Place them on a flat plate or cookie sheet
3. sprinkle the peach slices with some lemon juice
4. place into the freezer flat and allow to freeze completely through
5. once frozen you may put them into a bag or container and they will retain their lovely little shape.
6. take them out when you are feeling nostalgic for the summer!
7. Enjoy!

Peach Cobbler

  Delicious Peach Cobbler

   Ontario's peaches have finally started to come in - and this is a great way to make the most of them.


Peaches (you can substitute any fruit of your choice), cut into 1-inch slices/chunks; 8 is usually sufficient
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup crushed walnuts
1 tablespoon organic cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup organic brown sugar
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 cup organic flour
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup organic honey


1. Preheat Oven to 350F.

2. Chop up peaches and put in saucepan along with 1/2 cup of cane sugar and cornstarch.

3. Stir until peaches have softened and the juice has begun to
thicken. (When you are cutting up the Peaches make sure not to let the precious juice escape!) When this is done set aside for later.

4. In a mixing bowl add the flour, baking powder, baking soda with a pinch of salt. Cut up the stick of butter and mix together with your hands. The majority of the dry mixture should be attached to the crumbled butter.

5. Put the peaches in a baking dish and then top with the butter/flour mixture. Then add the crumbled walnuts, oats, honey, brown sugar and nutmeg.

6. Allow to cook for 25-30 minutes or until the top is nice and crispy.

7. Allow to cool, add some fresh fruit, ice cream and enjoy!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bacon Backpack Chicken and gravy

In honor of my new kitchen inside my new apartment I decided to cook an extravagant meal for my lady friends.  I took a trip to the Healthy Butcher to see what I could get for the best deal.  After browsing the entire store I decided a whole chicken was how I was going to get the most bang for my buck.  I purchased a 3 lb organic Ontario chicken for 13 bucks then picked up some organic bacon and was good to go.  It had been a while since I had bought a whole chicken but the more I thought about it the more I realized how brilliant it is.  Not only did I have plenty for my lady-night dinner, but I had enough meat to last a week's worth of salads and another week worth of home-made chicken soup.  Needless to say I was really excited!

So onto the marriage of bacon and chicken...It was a recipe I had dreamed of really and something inspired by my bacon-loving partner.  and it is what I now call "Bacon Backpack Chicken"

Bacon Backpack Chicken

- 1 Whole Chicken
- Some butcher string (or even dental floss as my mother suggested)
- 4-8 slices of bacon (depending on the size of the strips and of the chicken, you want enough to cover one side of the chicken)
- 2 tablespoons butter
-  salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 2-4 carrots chopped
- 2 cups of beef broth
- paprika to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried sage

- 1-2 onions
- Extra veggies you may have in your fridge...some potatoes or tomatoes (these will go underneath the chicken!)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
2. Rub the chicken with butter and a mixture of the spices on the inside and the outside.
3. Chop up the carrots and onion and put them inside the cavity of the chicken as stuffing.  Try not to over stuff, the inside should be full but not exploding.
4. Put the extra veggies (carrots/onion/potatoes/tomatoes) in the baking dish along with the two cups of beef broth (for the broth I bought Beef Bouillon cubes, broght two cups of water to a boil and then added it into the baking dish)
5. Place the chicken on top of the veggies and the broth in the dish so that breasts are facing up.
6. Place the strips of bacon so that they cover the whole top of the chicken and are draped around its sides.  sprinkle with some extra paprika for added smokey flavor.
7. Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350F and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.  If you have a baster then bast the chicken aver 30 minutes or so...if you don't then just spoon the juice around but try not to burn your hand!  Or you can skip it...the chicken will taste amazing no matter what. 
8. Once the internal temperature has reached 180 F when taken from the thickest part of the thigh...or you cut into the thickest part and it is cooked through then remove the bacon and set aside.  Place the chicken back in the oven at 450F for another 15 minutes or so in order to get the skin nice and crispy.
9.  Remove the chicken from the oven onto a serving platter to cool. 

Bacon Backpack Chicken Gravy:

- the Juices and broth that cooked the chicken
- 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1. Pour the leftover broth into a small sauce pan.
2. Add a tablespoon of cornstarch and bring to a boil.
3. reduce the heat and allow to simmer for several minutes until the liquid has thickened up a bit.
4. Turn the heat off and pour into a side dish for the chicken.

A couple of things to remember are:
- Do not eat the stuffing inside the chicken...instead set it aside and use again when making your chicken stock.
- Save the bones from the chicken for stock
- The gravy will be sooo good I promise, it is worth the extra step at the end!

This was definitely a crowd pleaser--we ate and ate until we could eat no longer...and then we enjoyed my seasonal Peach cobbler...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Turn boring old Oatmeal into Oatmeal Pancakes!

I have often felt that pancakes were a poor breakfast choice because they low in nutritional value.  This is only because my idea of pancakes was also Aunt Jemima's idea of pancakes which is a mysterious dry mixture (containing bleached flour and other various filler ingredients) mixed with either water or milk and/or eggs.  This unhealthy process was always followed by a light frying in hot hot oil and then topping with vast amounts of sugar or syrup or something desert-y.  I am not saying that a trip to pancake house now and again isn't a grand time, but when I am thinking of everyday FEEL GOOD breakfast I am not thinking of pancakes...That is until I stumbled upon OATMEAL PANCAKES!

Now I really like this recipe because it relies on a bit of honey to sweeten the batter without getting too desert-y! is a FEEL GOOD pancake recipe that is easy and delicious without lots of filler.sugar.desert material.  :)

 Oatmeal Pancakes

- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat, grain or almond flour
- 1/2 cup oatmeal flakes

*TIP you can use any three kinds of flour/grain as long as you keep the measurements consistent!

- 1 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cups milk or water
- 1/8 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 eggs
1 teaspoon or more of pure
vanilla extract


1. Preheat that pan, let it get nice and hot.  I always splash a couple drops of water to check if the pan is hot enough--if they sizzle you are good to go. Keep the heat on medium-high so that the batter will cook while allowing the pancake to turn golden brown
2.   Hand Mix the ingredients and be patient.  This mixture takes a bit of time to get to a nice even consistency but it is worth it.
3.  Spoon your batter into your pan.  I am a fan of making small stack-able pancakes.
4.  Wait for the top layer to bubble and for those bubbles to burst.  When this has occurred evening on the surface flip to the other side.  At this point the pancake is mostly cooked so it should only take another minute or two for it to be done.
5.  If you are making a big ol batch put your pile in the oven to keep them warm.

6.  Rinse and Repeat!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Eat/Dance/Yell Your Way to Balance

Hello blog friends, it has certainly been a while since my last entry-- something I didn't anticipate when I first started this blog.  I began this blog for several reasons;  I was cooking all the time, discovering new things and wanted to share how accessible this experience could be, I was really involved in the Food movement in Toronto and I wanted to connect with others and share my experiences and because I had a lot of free time and wanted to put all my energy into things that made me happy and were productive.  Since this time (seems like long ago..) I now have very very little free time because I am still very involved in the Food community, am putting my energy where I want it to be and because I am working two jobs! Oy Vey!

Through these last few months I have struggled to keep my life in balance.  It is hard to eat well, exercise, socialize, volunteer and be a work-o-holic all at the same time.  Needless to say my cooking and blogging got left by the wayside, partially because my camera isn't charged and partially because as much as I have tried my life has not been fully balanced.

I thought that instead of sharing a recipe for food that I would share my thoughts on a recipe for balance, which to be clear, involves eating good food!

1. Eat Breakfast Every Day: My usual choice is 1/8 cup of Oatmeal and 1/8 cup of Red River added to a pot with 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of salt.  I usually throw this in the pot and allow it to boil as I brush my teeth, stretch and wash my face.  On mornings when I skip this routine I find I am prone to headaches, uneven moods and a deep angry hunger by lunch time.  For those with "crazy-life-syndrome" (which may be the majority of the people I know) this is an important ingredient to a balanced life.  (sometimes I made hot cereal in several batches and put in the fridge so all you have to do is reheat in the morning! saves 7 minutes of cooking and 5 minutes of cleaning!)

2. Close Your Eyes and Relax:  This is something that is easily neglected, but when I find 30 minutes to rub together I try and find a quiet place where I can just simply close my eyes.  At first it may seem a perfect time to check e-mail or return phone calls...this 20-30 minutes can make a huge difference! I usually set an alarm on my cell phone that vibrates when the time is up.  Giving myself time-outs allows me to clear my head and refresh for the rest of my day.

3.Always keep food with you (and water!):  If you look in my backpack you will usually find some sort of fruit, maybe a meal bar, some trail mix and then a secret hoard of pens (oops!).  One of the hardest things is making time to eat and this has a MAJOR influence on your moods and energy levels.  When you are not getting enough sleep and rushing around you should at least be eating and since eating takes time that you may not have I suggest taking a moment to throw in healthy whole foods into your bag/briefcase/purse/pocket for the day.  This prevents you from eating something Nasty that won't provide you with useful energy as well as provides an easy solution when you feel stressed about being hungry.  Also water..if you hate a big bulky water bottle--get a SMALL ONE, staying hydrated will prevent you from getting headaches and feeling dry and gross.  You should try and have at least 2 Clear Pees a day! (That's right..Clear Pees)

4.Work it Out:  When you are super busy you generally don't have time to deal with every inch of your personal life.  This may refer to your emotional state, your stress about non-work related things, your friends/family yadda yadda.  But even though you don't have time to deal with these things, they are still happening and you are still feeling but are generally unable to fully deal.  For this I try and work out, go for a short run if I have no time at all or go for a full on body busting session if I can make it happen.  But either way getting just a bit of a work out in a couple times a week relieves a lot of the pressure you feel emotionally whether you like it or not.  I think it gets neglected that exercising is important for your MIND and not just your body.

5. Be Lazy: If you have one day to sleep in..then do it.  Do not get up early because you think you will get more things accomplished.  A morning off to re cooperate will refresh you from your last week and set a positive tone for your next one.

6. Dance/Sing/Yell: In Your room, at a bar, in the shower, on the street.  Wherever you feel comfortable.  You have to Dance and Yell and Sing a bit.  I know we are all responsible adults these days but you have to let out a huge scream here and there, sing while you ride your bike, dance while you fold your laundry, dance at an awesome concert or something or other.  Apart from always keeping food with me...this is my favorite thing to do.  

I am sure there are a thousand and one other things one can add in their recipe for balance...but this is mine so  far.  It is still being revised daily as things are always changing.  If you have any ideas or additions from your own recipe for balance please feel free to comment below.
until next time! 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Diet and Body

I know that I have talked in length about my love for beans but I must also share my love for the Bean cousin, The Lentil.  My life has been very hectic recently, I have been feeling stressed and my energy levels have been a roller coaster of inconsistency.  While I am in a very happy place and feel as though I am finally putting most of my energy where I want it to be (FOOD!)  I often remind myself that my diet is one of most important places to take control of how my body may be reacting to the stress I put it under.   
In that I am a big advocate for Self Medicating Diets.  At the very least I believe that people should look toward their diets when they are dealing with mild discomfort and/or specific illness.  I am not saying to avoid doctors or to not take symptoms seriously, I am only suggesting that our diets are a key place in determining how we feel.  For instance, when I am feeling low and in need of energy I look to complex Carbohydrates like Oatmeal in the morning and other whole grains. And when my stomach aches I am often soothed by a mug or three of mint tea.  The more I get to know food the more I am impressed and not surprised by how powerful my diet is to my general condition.  My constant ache of food knowledge has recently led me to finding and reading Super Food Pocketbook by Michael Van Straten.  For any curious readers out there--I found this book to be an interesting and informative reference on many common foods.  Van Straten explores 100 foods alphabetically examining their nutritional properties and highlighting health benefits and medicinal uses.  Van Straten Also goes through Vitamins and Minerals explaining how the body absorbs them, why they are important and what foods contain them.  As a Foodie with a strong curiosity for Nutrition I would definitely recommend this little handbook. 

I am interested in sparking your curiosity and would like to challenge you to being more mindful of what you are eating, what your conditions are (stress? no stress?) and how you feel.  See if you are able to find more peace by being more aware of these things.

And in that vain I will share with you one of my favorite recipes.  Sran Style Dhal ripped right from the pages of my roommate Venice's Mother's handwritten cookbook. 

Sran Style Dhal
Serves 4 
- 1 cup red lentils (if you can find yellow lentils mix half and half)
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbspn cumin seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1tsp salt
- 1-2 inches of ginger (I find that less is more)
- 1 tomato
- 1/2 tsp Graham Marsala
- 1 tsp coriander 
- 4 cups of water

1. In a frying pan: heat up a couple tbspn of oil, once heated well turn the heat down to low and fry the cumin seeds for about a minute.  Then add the onions and allow to cook for a minute or two.  Then add the garlic and allow to cook for another minute or two.  Finally add the ginger and allow all things to be cooked through until the onion is nice and limp. Turn off heat!
2. In a sauce pan add the lentils and the water (Ratio is 1:4::lentils:water) bring to boil and add turmeric, coriander, and salt ( Hold off on adding the Graham Marsala until the end).
3. bring down to simmer and add the Tharka Mixture (which is the onions/garlic/cumin seeds/ ginger)
4. Let simmer for a couple of minutes, you want to avoid soggy lentils! however if they do get soggy they still taste good and you will get better next time
5. At last add the cut up tomato and the Graham Marsala and allow to heat through.
6. Turn off heat and enjoy!

I find Lentils to be a great food when I am feeling stressed.  Dhal especially is energizing, filling and comforting.  

Beans Beans the Musical Fruit

I love beans!

I love beans because they taste good, have an excellent texture and are versatile.  I have learned to love beans also because they are rich in Protein, Fiber, Essential minerals, B vitamins and Folic acid.  And I love beans because they are low in fat and good for cholesterol ( which happens to be a big issue in my family!). 

Due to my exxesive love of beans I often begin with beans when planning my meals.  This week I bought a bag of dried organic black beans and thought Hmmmmmmmmm wherever will these little tiny flavor pockets take me this week? True to form (and inspired by my very good friend Lilian Galante) They took me to Mexico. 

Last Year I ventured down to Mexico to celebrate in the wedding of my friend Lilian and her lovely partner Pape.  While I was down there I joined 50 of my new Mexican best friends and enjoyed three breathtaking days on the Pacific Ocean.  As usual, I was very excited about the food we were eating.  For the first time in my life I didn't feel a hint of guilt snacking on the Avocados that only ventured a small distance to the beach property we were camping on.  Lilian and Pape hired some lovely local women from the nearest village (a 20 minute walk away) so come and cook the meals for us.  These meals were very much centered on BEANS (i was thrilled!).  So long story short here is a meal that was inspired by this journey and by beans...i suppose you can call it a partnership between Mexico and Beans.  Yes..

My main Dish was Moosh's Mexican Beans and Rice...Vegan style

Black Beans
1. Soak 3 cups of black beans for 2-4 hours
2. Drain and rinse beans taking out anything out of the ordinary (rocks? weird looking bean?)
3. Put in a pot with 6-8 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Once you have reached boil bring the heat down to simmer.
4. Allow to simmer for 1 hr or until don't want the beans to get too mushy so keep an eye around the 60 minute mark and take a few test bites!

1. Sautee Onion and garlic for several minutes.
2. Add Rice and coat with the mixture, when heated through add the needed amount of water for your rice variety
3. Follow the directions on your rice package as far as proportions of water to rice and to timing ( I used Brown rice which took about 45 minutes and was 1:2::rice:water
4. While bringing rice to a boil add 1-tbsp of chili powder (depending on how spicy it is and how spicy you like it), 2 tsp of salt, 1 tblsp of Paprika, 1 tbspn of cumin, 1-2 tblspn of cayenne pepper.  Allow the rice to cook regularly with these spices added.
5. Once the rice is cooked add those beans! along with another batch of spices (this varies depending on how spicy you like your food...for me I didn't add too much more cayenne pepper, but I did add several teaspoons each of coriander, paprika, salt and chili powder).
6. Add chopped coriander along with half a can of whole tomatoes. 
7. Turn up the heat and bring to a small boil so that all of these tasty things can mix together.
8. Turn heat off and mix well.

When cooking for myself this dish would be plenty for a meal but I was lucky enough to have three hungry guests over so we added several other things to our menu.


- 3 tomatoes
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green chili (for mild spice...add more for spicier foods!)
- 1 onion
- 1/2 lime
- 4-8 tbspn of fresh cilantro
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop everything and Put it in a bowl!
2. Mix it together
3. Eat it!

The thing about that it shouldn't be an intimidating thing to make.  You really only need several basic ingredients, some way to flavor it (either with fresh cilantro and chilis or with dried spices..whatever you have available)  Tracy is pictured on the Right Showing us the most important to Eat the Salsa!

Our last component of our Mexican Inspired Fiesta was some crumbled up tofu sauteed with mushrooms onions and garlic (oh my!)

BBQ Tofu Crumble 
- 3 cups of mushrooms
- 1 Block of Tofu (nice and locally produces from Essence of Life Organics!)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 1 tblspn Cumin seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tsp cayenne
1. Saute Onions and garlic for 2 minutes.
2. Add Chopped mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Crumble in tofu so that it is a "ground beef like consistency"
4. Season and allow all things to cook through.  The tofu will be done when it has shrunk has dried out a bit.

We made little fajitas with Corn Tortillas like the ones I encountered while eating in Mexico.  Added some chopped avocado, cheese and lemon to turn into one heck of a filling meal.