Roast Chicken Backs with Legs

chicken legs backs1

 

Good day my loves,

Let me start by saying that I missed you guys last week because I was out of town with my family. This mini vacation couldn’t have come at a better time after the insane week I had last week. 

We took the kids to Niagara Falls Ontario with our couple friends and we truly enjoyed ourselves. I had made my girlfriend promise me before we left that when it came time to eat, that they would go ahead and eat out while we ate in our hotel room. I wanted them to feel comfortable and not guilty or awkward about not eating out together. I prepped by making a ton of pizza, chickpea medley (recipe to come), black beans (also to come), baked taco shells, cut up fruits, juice boxes, made my pancake mix and put it in a Ziploc bag to make at the hotel, and made a crazy batch of monster chocolate chip cookies!!

 

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It sounds like a lot and you’re right. It totally was. But it’s always better to make more than to be stuck not knowing what to eat. Especially when you have kids who decide all of a sudden that their once favourite food is no longer that…while you’re vacationing! Don’t worry, nothing was wasted. We shared our food with our friends and their kids. It was actually super nice. My girlfriend booked adjacent rooms for us and the entire time we were there our room doors were open for the kids to come in and out as they pleased. They loved it and so did we.

While laying on lounge chairs one morning, my girlfriend confessed that she had no idea how challenging it is to live with food allergies. And she was baffled at what food companies and restaurants put into our foods. This was how it went down:

“I don’t get it. I thought if you want to have chicken, they would just not use spices that might have dairy or whatever in them, but to be told they can’t even serve you chicken made me think about what they actually put into the foods that we eat.”  

“Ya I know, crazy isn’t it?”

She had an epiphany the night before when we went to Hard Rock Café. When my friend called the restaurant beforehand to see if our allergies could be accommodated they told her “absolutely yes.” But once we got there and I had inquired about the way food is handled etc, I was told what I’m accustomed to hearing which is “we do our best but there’s always a risk of cross-contamination and we also get many of our foods from outside sources so we don’t know how they handle their food.” Ie, eat at your own risk.

{This isn’t a knock on the staff or their food by any means. In fact, they were very friendly and really wanted to help us out.}   

 

chicken legs backs

 

It was nice to hear her say that to me because it’s one of the hardest things to explain to someone how challenging it is to eat outside your home. I have some family members who still don’t understand why it’s so difficult to eat out at a restaurant. They tell me “they can accommodate you” or “I know the chef personally” … and that’s great but when you’re there and they speak to you, it’s an entirely different conversation. One I choose not to have my children listen to, because after all I don’t want them to feel like they’re less than because they can’t eat the food.

Needless to say, it was an amazing trip and one I can’t wait to redo with our friends! The day we came home, we were hungry as you can imagine, so my good man brought home chicken legs and I went to work and made the best roast chicken back legs you’ll feast on! I wouldn’t say this if I wasn’t sure of it. ;)

These chicken legs are literally a cinch to make; and they’re so juicy and moist, they practically fall off the bone and melt in your mouth. And the skin is light and crispy and spiced perfectly to please even the pickiest of eaters. The Herbes de Provence is my go to for many dishes including chicken. Its aromatic blend includes thyme, fennel, rosemary, basil, savoury, and lavender. The perfect complement to any dish really. I just love it. You can find it in most grocery stores (I buy mine from Costco).

I also cook chicken on high heat because in my mind this step allows the skin to crisp up and essentially seal the meat; allowing it to cook in its own steam and come out perfectly cooked every time. 

So without further ado, here is the recipe to these amazing chicken backs/legs.  

 

Roast Chicken Backs With Legs
Serves 4
Super crispy outside and super moist inside. The best you will experience!
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
47 min
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
47 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 chicken backs with legs attached, bone-in, skin on
  2. OR
  3. 8 chicken legs, bone-in, skin on
  4. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  5. 2 tsp sea salt
  6. 2 tbsp Herbes de Provence
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 420F.
  2. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and add chicken legs.
  3. Massage the oil into each back/leg, front and back.
  4. Finally, sprinkle Herbes de Provence over the front and back of the chicken backs/legs.
  5. Then, sprinkle sea salt entirely over each chicken, covering the front and back.
  6. Place in the oven to bake for 45 minutes, until skin is crispy and slightly raised from the chicken, and juices run clear.
  7. Remove and enjoy with your favourite side dish.
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

Instructions

 

1. Preheat oven to 420F.

 

2. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and add chicken legs.

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3. Massage the oil into each back/leg, front and back.

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4. Then, sprinkle Herbes de Provence over the fronts and backs of each back/leg.

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5. Finally, sprinkle sea salt entirely over each chicken, covering the front and back.

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6. Place in the oven to bake for 45 minutes, until skin is crispy and slightly raised from the chicken, meat is easily removed with a fork, and juices run clear.

 

Remove and enjoy with your favourite side dish.

Bon appétit! xo

Dairy Free Egg Free Banana Muffins (Vegan)

 

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{{Cue Gwen Stefani music}} This isht is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s…this isht is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s!!

This song has been stuck in my head since I made these out-of-this-world Banana Muffins (and hopefully it’s now in your heads too!). Listen, I know what you’re already thinking. There are a thousand and one recipes for banana muffins but I will tell you why these ones are the best! Read on my loves.

I had such a great time over at my friend’s house last week. You know when you meet someone for the first time and it feels like you’ve known each other forever? Well this is how I feel about this particular friend of mine.

 

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Lina is super down to earth, a successful entrepreneur in her own right and a wonderful mother. We met sometime last year at a mutual’s friend’s house to honour her recent success on TV!! We hit it off right away :)  You can visit her site to see exactly what she does and how she helps so many find the perfect things to make their parties or gatherings that much more special.  

Anyway, she’s so sweet. So I took my babes over to meet her little cutie pie for the first time and we had such a great time!  The best thing was she went above and beyond to ensure we felt comfortable there including the food she’d brought out for the kids. She totally understands because she happens to be an allergy mama herself.  So everything was dairy, egg, and nut free. Including these amazing(!!!) vegan Banana Muffins she made that were absolutely the bomb! She changed a couple of things in the recipe she had and I’m so glad she did because although I’m sure the original recipe is tasty, hers were just pure perfection.

 

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I made sure I wasn’t leaving before I got my hands on the ingredients so that I can share this deliciousness with all of you (I forgot to ask so I sent her a text that night)!  The only thing I had changed was instead of using sweetened coconut milk like she had, I used my Silk Vanilla Almond Milk because it’s sweet and that’s what I had in my fridge (and because my coconut milk is unsweetened). Feel free to use the coconut milk like my friend had and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, the texture is slightly different but so amazing whichever milk you choose to use.

The beautiful smell that emanated from the freshly grated cinnamon sticks and nutmeg filled the entire kitchen…I felt like I was in Heaven. Maybe just a bit high from smelling them so much lol Kidding I don’t do that. But it was so nice!

 

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Both of my kids lent a helping hand; Munsur was in charge of mixing the dry ingredients, and Sofia was responsible for measuring, scooping, and dumping. She kept saying it was like playing in the sand box…oh and she wanted to use her shovel to scoop the sugar :| Don’t worry that didn’t happen.

These muffins, although loaded with banana goodness, don’t taste overly banana-y (how do you spell that word?) They’re also quite moist and the oats in this recipe add a bit of crunch which balances the mushiness from the bananas.

 

banana muffins

 

They’re also ridiculously easy to make. So reach for those almost too gross to look at, overly browned, covered in fruit flies bananas, and make these yummy things which are the perfect thing to have for breakfast, snack, or anytime!

 

Dairy Free Egg Free Banana Muffins (Vegan)
Yields 24
The BEST Banana Muffins you will have!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 C coconut oil, softened
  2. 1/2 C sugar
  3. 1/2 C packed brown sugar
  4. 1/2 C apple sauce
  5. 2 C flour
  6. 1 C oats
  7. 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  8. 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  9. 2 tsp baking powder
  10. 1 tsp baking soda
  11. 1 tsp sea salt
  12. 1 C Silk Vanilla Almond Milk, or dairy free milk of your choice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with liners and set aside.
  2. Start by mixing together the coconut oil and sugars on high speed until fully combined.
  3. Add apple sauce and mashed bananas and continue to mix. The coconut oil will slightly seize but that's normal. Continue to beat for a couple of minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients except for the oats and whisk well.
  5. Add in the oats and mix well.
  6. Next, add 1/2 of dry ingredients into wet mix and mix on low speed until just combined.
  7. Then, add the almond milk and beat for 30 seconds or so.
  8. Finally finish with the last 1/2 of the dry mix. Mix just until combined. Do not over mix!
  9. Pour into desired cupcake/muffin liners and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean, AND bananas are cooked through and dry, and muffin isn't 'wet' on the inside.
  10. Remove from oven and leave muffins in the muffin tins for 5 minutes before removing and enjoying.
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

 Instructions

 

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.

 

2. Start by mixing together the coconut oil and sugars on high speed until fully combined.

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3. Add apple sauce and mashed bananas and continue to mix. The coconut oil will slightly seize but that’s normal. Continue to beat for a couple of minutes.

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4. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients except for the oats and whisk well.

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Munsur stirring using his cinnamon stick

 

5. Add in the oats and mix well.

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6. Next, add 1/2 of dry ingredients into wet mix and mix on low speed until just combined.

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7. Then, add the almond milk and beat for 30 seconds or so.

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8. Finally finish with the last 1/2 of the dry mix. Mix just until combined. Do not over mix!

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9. Pour into desired cupcake/muffin liners and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean, AND bananas are cooked through and dry, and muffin isn’t ‘wet’ on the inside.

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Remove from oven and leave muffins in the muffin tins for 5 minutes before removing and enjoying.

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There you have it. The secret to the most delicious and most not-so-banana-y tasting Banana Muffins!

 

Bon appetite! xo

 

 

 

 

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Perfect Dairy Free Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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The following is a true representation of our mornings before my discovery of making the perfect dairy free cheese sandwich:

 

“Mom, I don’t want to eat this.” (Pushes the plate away.)

“But Munsur, you love peanut butter sandwiches.”

“But I looove crispy cheese more.”

“Munsur, that’s not breakfast food, it’s a snack. Now what do you want to eat????”

“What do I want to eat? I told you what I want to eat but you don’t want to make it for me! So, I want to eat nothing. I’m not hungry.”

“__”  (<— My face.) 

 

No kidding, this used to be my and Munsur’s conversation almost every single morning. And because Sofia is our little Xerox machine at home, she spits verbatim his words and sides with him. 

Mornings were typically challenging for us because breakfasts were the usual peanut butter and honey or cereal. Soon enough kids get bored and further frustrate you when they push their plate away or shake their heads in discontent when you offer them other foods (see scenario above). If only we can teach them to communicate their needs and wants better. When it comes to their needs and wants they have communication down to a T. It’s everything else you try to get out of them that seems almost impossible to do. But their ‘needs’ and wants, that’s a non issue.

It isn’t difficult to see that living a dairy-free lifestyle (and with other food allergies) certainly presents itself with challenges, especially in the mornings when trying to figure out what to make for breakfast becomes a daunting task. That is, until I’ve discovered how to make the perfect grilled dairy free cheese sandwich! 

 

grilled cheese sandwich2

 

Thanks to the number of options that have increased recently, all that’s required of us is to think outside the conventional method of doing things we’ve become accustomed to and conditioned to follow.  For example, making a cheese sandwich.

Picture the most delicious cheese sandwich in your hand, perfectly heated until the cheese melts and binds the two breads together. The cheese oozes out of the sliced bread ever so perfectly and fills your heart with warmth as you take your first bite, chasing it down with a cold glass of dairy free milk…. It’s a spectacular experience my friends!

 

 

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(Sofia tired of waiting for me to finish shooting!)

 

It has been my experience that dairy free cheeses’ melting point isn’t exactly like that of dairy cheese. And that’s perfectly OK! When I’ve attempted to make cheese sandwich the way I knew how to, I failed because the cheese shreds wouldn’t melt and when you took a bite out of your sandwich, you were essentially left with eating bread and scooping the cheese shreds off your plate with your fingers. Quite unsightly.

And although there are dairy free cheese slices out there, either their taste isn’t to my liking or they contain carrageenan which as most of you may know from a few of my previous posts, is a contributor to inflammation in the gut and so I try my best to stay away from that particular ingredient. 

The way I’m about to show you will revolutionize the grilled cheese sandwich making experience forever! Ok maybe not, but it is such a good way to get the perfect ooziness and the melting of your heart comment earlier.

 

grilled cheese sandwich

 

Perhaps the best part is that it takes a couple of minutes to make which in today’s times is a perfect thing. Less time on food prep equals more time to finish the never ending to-do list.

You’ll notice that I have pictures with different kinds of bread. You can use really any type of bread your heart desires. Which means that the amount of cheese listed is approximate and you can obviously use more or less depending on the size and the amount of cheese  you’d like in your sandwich. The important thing about this post is more so the technique to achieving the yummiest of cheese sandwiches. 

Enjoy making and eating this delicious breakfast, lunch, and anytime food. :)

 

The Perfect Dairy Free Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Serves 2
Dairy free melt-in-your-mouth gooey-ness! This will become a breakfast staple in your home.
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Cook Time
2 min
Total Time
2 min
Cook Time
2 min
Total Time
2 min
Ingredients
  1. 3/4-1C Daiya dairy free cheese shreds (Mozzarella, Cheddar, Pepperjack), or dairy free cheese of choice
  2. 1 pita bread loaf, separated OR
  3. 4 slices of bread
Instructions
  1. Place cheese shreds on a pan and heat on high until cheese begins to melt and stick together.
  2. Add either a slice of bread, or half of pita loaf, carefully pressing down with spatula to help bind the cheese to the bread. Approximately 10 seconds.
  3. Using a spatula, turn bread over so that cheese is facing up, and place the other slice of bread or pita half.
  4. Press firmly using your spatula. Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (depending on the crispy-ness that's desired).
  5. Flip sandwich and cook a further 30 seconds before removing from heat.
  6. Slice into desired pieces and serve.
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

Instructions

 

1. Place cheese shreds on a pan and heat on high until cheese begins to melt and stick together.

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2. Add desired bread (slice of bread or half of pita loaf) carefully pressing down with spatula to help bind the cheese to the bread. Approximately 10 seconds.

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3. Using a spatula, turn bread over so that cheese is facing up, and top with the other slice of bread or pita half.

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4. Press firmly using your spatula. Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (depending on the crispy-ness that’s desired).

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5. Flip sandwich and cook a further 30 seconds before removing from heat.

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6. Slice into desired pieces and serve.

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Enjoy it with a side of fruit or a glass of milk. Any way you choose to eat your cheese sandwich, make sure you enjoy the experience. :) 

 

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Bon appétit! xo

 

 

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The Perfect Lemon Cake

 

lemon cake

    

If you think you’ve tried the best every day cake, you’re wrong. This is by far the yummiest lemon cake/cupcake recipe you’ll ever make and taste! It’s a big claim but I wouldn’t say it if I wasn’t confident that you’d agree.  It’s so moist, so light, so delicious, and so lemony sweet. For those of you who aren’t fans of lemon, this doesn’t taste like you’re biting into a sweetened lemon per se, although I’m working towards making that happen; this has the perfect hint of lemony goodness no one can possibly resist.

This particular cake reminds me so much of the version my mom used to make us at least once a week when we were growing up. The sheer smell of her cake filled the entire house with sweet notes of citrus and love. It was full of aromatic lemon and orange zests, and it was so good we would beg her to leave some of the batter for us to lick while we waited for the cake to bake. Keep in mind that the cake had eggs in it. As in raw eggs. :|

I can’t believe we used to do that! Just thinking about how we used to fight over the bowl to lick it knowing there were raw eggs in it is a foreign concept and a weird thing for me now. It goes to show how laid back our parents used to be and how uptight we have become today…ok that’s not fair, I should point the finger to myself only. I’m such a freak when it comes to handling foods especially raw eggs and raw chicken. I wash my hands countless times whenever I handle said foods, to the point where it shouldn’t be considered healthy anymore. I feel like it’s too much. I mean we turned out ok and look how we used to eat. Well at least I think we turned out ok :/ Am I the only one who used to look forward to the bowl licking? Share with me so I don’t feel alone!

 

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I digress, as usual. 

My mother’s cake was delicious on its own but the best was when we dipped it in warm milk and enjoyed every last bite.

 

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Naturally this cake had to be remade for my family. But since nothing you make will ever taste like the stuff your mother makes (I’m convinced of that) because there’s that je ne sais quoi thing about it (must be love), I had to recreate it and add my own spin to my absolute favourite everyday cake. 

For many of you who had asked for the cake recipe I’d made for Munsur and his friends’ graduation ceremony, this is the base cake! The step-by-step process of how to make that beautiful strawberry lemon cake will soon follow this post. Sorry for the tease but hey at least you have the most important part of the cake you had enjoyed that night!

As always with anything I share with you, this recipe is so simple to make.  In fact it can’t get any simpler. And all of the ingredients are in your kitchen pantry right now. So go on and make this recipe into the prettiest cake or the sweetest cupcakes. And because it’s dairy and egg free, feel free to lick the bowl clean knowing there’s no chance of contracting salmonella or Listeria poisoning! This is really a ‘have your cake and eat it too’ kinda cake! It’s amazing any way you look at it. 

 

  

The Perfect Lemon Cake
The most moist and light cake you will come across, with a hint of lemon.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 C vegan spread, softened
  2. 1 C sugar
  3. 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  4. Zest of 4 lemons (3 tbsp worth)
  5. 2 C flour
  6. 1 tbsp cornstarch
  7. 2 tsp baking powder
  8. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  9. 1 C plus 2 tbsp room temp water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and have desired baking dish lined (either cake pans with parchment paper or muffin tins with cupcake liners). Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine vegan spread and sugar on high speed until smooth and light in texture. You may need to scrape the bowl down once while performing this step.
  3. Add vanilla extract and combine.
  4. Then, add lemon zest and beat until fully incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
  6. Turn speed of mixer on low and add half of flour mixture and beat until just combine.
  7. Add water and continue beating, increasing speed to medium.
  8. Then, turn speed back to low and add remainder of flour mixture to bowl. Beat until fully combined. Scrape bowl once and beat a few seconds more.
  9. Pour into prepared cake pans or into prepared cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes; until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (*see notes in instructions for more detail)
  10. Let slightly cool before removing from pans.
Notes
  1. This recipe yields 2-8" cake rounds or about 26 cupcakes.
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

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Instructions

  

1. Preheat oven to 350F and have desired baking dish(es) lined (either 1-9″ cake pan, 2-8” cake pans, or muffin tins with cupcake liners). Set aside.

 

2. In a mixing bowl, combine vegan spread and sugar on high-speed until smooth and light in texture. You may need to scrape the bowl down once while performing this step.

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3. Add vanilla extract and combine.

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4. Then, add lemon zest and beat until fully incorporated.

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5. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients.

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6.Turn speed of mixer on low and add half of flour mixture and beat until just combine.

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7. Add water and continue beating, increasing speed to medium.

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8. Then, turn speed back to low and add remainder of flour mixture to bowl. Beat until fully combined. Scrape bowl once and beat a few seconds more.

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9. Divide batter as evenly as you can into prepared cake pans or cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes; until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

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Note: You can choose to place entire batter into one pan but baking time will increase. Check for doneness after 40 minutes to start. It may need a good 45 minutes in the oven but check at the 40 minute mark to be sure. 

Let slightly cool before removing from pans.

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Hope you enjoy the process, the results afterwards, and the memories you’ll hopefully make with your own family. 

 

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Bon appétit! xo

Baked Wild Salmon

 

 baked salmon     

 

If you can get your hands on wild fish, don’t hesitate to grab one – what a difference in taste, and all the health benefits that come from consuming wild fish and other sea creatures over farmed make it a no-brainer. Even better is if you can get a freshly caught wild fish…absolutely the best thing you will taste. 

You’re welcome to do your own research, but I’m here to tell you that when it comes to taste, nothing compares to wild. And because fish is able to swim freely and feed on healthy sea things (instead of soy and other foods fish aren’t meant to eat), their colour is so much more vibrant and the meat is quite tender and flavourful.  

 

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One of the tell-tale signs of summer for me is when I see wild fish everywhere in grocery stores and fish markets. All the more reason to love summer time! I don’t know about where you live, but here in Canada, our winter seems to last a good 10 months out of the year, which is quite depressing when you think about. But, summer is here now and everyone knows not to complain about the heat, no matter how scorching it actually is outside. We’ll take it, because frankly, we know what’s to come.

 

When it comes to cooking fish, especially salmon, I’m partial to doing it on the barbecue with aromatic cedar planks, however for those of you who would prefer to use the oven, this very simple recipe is for you. I’ve added vegan mayonnaise to give it a rich flavour and the fresh oregano for that added amazingness. Although I am not a fan of mayonnaise by any means, Veganaise is different in that it has no eggs and instead is filled with heart healthy oils that are whipped into a beautiful creamy condiment. So, I don’t feel guilty about using it in my recipes and, if anything, it really enhances the flavour of the food.

 

And I’m not sure how to otherwise describe how using fresh herbs in your food is so much tastier and well, way fresher, except for the fact that fresh herbs such as oregano in this recipe really ups the taste and flavour of this dish without the need to add more salt. Having said that, if you can’t get your hands on fresh oregano, substitute with 1 tsp dried oregano.  

 

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This recipe is crazy easy to make. It requires only 4 ingredients to the most moist and mouth-watering fish you can lay your taste buds on. You’ll literally need a few seconds to prep, pop in the oven, remove and enjoy. Serve with a side of quinoa and salad and you have one of the healthiest meals you can concoct.  

 

 

Baked Wild Salmon
A simple mouthwatering meal that will surely have you wanting it again and again for dinner.
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Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
21 min
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
21 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 wild salmon fillet
  2. 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  3. Scant 1 tbsp Veganaise, or vegan mayonnaise
  4. 1 sprig fresh oregano, about 1 tbsp
  5. salt to taste
  6. freshly cracked pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven at 400F.
  2. Place salmon on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  3. Massage olive oil all over. Sprinkle with sea salt. I do a nice thin layer over the entire fish.
  4. Add Veganaise and massage into salmon using your hand.
  5. Remove oregano leaves from stem and adorn salmon. Add cracked pepper.
  6. Place in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Depending on the serving size, this meal may serve from 4-6 people.
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

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Instructions

   

1. Preheat oven at 400F.  

 

2. Place salmon on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

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3. Massage olive oil all over. Sprinkle with sea salt. I do a nice thin layer over the entire fish.

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4. Add Veganaise and massage into salmon using your hand.

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5. Remove oregano leaves from stem and adorn salmon.

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6. Finish with freshly cracked pepper.

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7. Place in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove and enjoy this hot and absolutely mouth-watering salmon with your choice of side(s).

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Bon appétit! xo

 

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Dairy Free Cheesy Sticks

 

cheese sticks

 

I’ve been experiencing writer’s block for over a week so forgive my lack of lengthy post write-up. I don’t like when I don’t know what to say. Or rather not that I don’t know what to say, it’s that I know exactly how I’m feeling about the food I want to write about but I can’t seem to translate my thoughts onto here. Laila, that’s what writer’s block means. Yes, thank you. Must be because we’ve had beautiful hot weather for the past week and all I think about is being in the pool and taking in healthy vitamin D from our  beautiful sun! Yes that must be it. 

Anyway, about this latest amazing food concoction of mine. You’re going to be blown away at how incredibly yummy it is but even more incredible is how quick and easy these cheese sticks are to make. 

 

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I’ve been wanting to make cheese sticks for a very long time. And although I had envisioned how they would look, I needed that push to get up and experiment in my kitchen. What better way to do that than when your kids are off school and boredom surfaces…like the very next day!

My kids were all over this creation! I admit I had a hard time containing my excitement when I made them. they’re so yummy and super satisfying.

Probably the best part of all  of this is that they are allergen-free and gluten-free as well. So everyone can enjoy this piece of goodness. And as always, they’re effortless to prepare and make. In fact, you require only two ingredients to get the most crunchy cheesy taste (not counting the sea salt). 

 

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I should mention that I tested this recipe using both mozzarella and cheddar style shreds. I made a batch of each and 1 batch of half and half. I have to say that my favourite was definitely the mozzarella cheese sticks. They tasted light and didn’t weigh the stomach down. The cheddar sticks tasted great as well except you were pretty satisfied after having a couple of sticks. So technically that can be a good thing if you’re looking to control yourself when enjoying these amazing things. It’s completely up to you. ;)

 

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Make this when your kids won’t leave you alone and complain that there’s nothing to eat in the house and all their friends eat junk foods – I could go on with this but you get the idea. This seems to be the trend currently in our household. 

This is a great snack your entire family will enjoy munching on. So give it a go today :)

 

 

Dairy Free Cheesy Sticks
Yields 20
Very healthy. A crispy exterior with the gooey-est interior! A must make.
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Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 C Daiya mozzarella cheese shreds
  2. 1 C Glutino Gluten Free cornmeal crumbs, or panko bread crumbs, or homemade bread crumbs
  3. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  4. 1/3 C grape seed oil or veggie oil
Instructions
  1. Have cornmeal or bread crumbs spread in a baking pan. Add salt and mix with your hand. Set aside.
  2. Place 1 cup of cheese shreds at a time into a pan and cook on high until the shreds have melted and are stuck together.
  3. Remove and place on a clean work surface. (See pics below)
  4. Handling the hot cheese with care, take about 1 tablespoon of melted cheese into the palm of your hands, working to get a nice log formed. (See pics below)
  5. Place in prepared bread crumbs and roll cheese until entirely covered in crumbs. Repeat.
  6. Once all of the cheese sticks have been formed, place oil in pan and heat on high at first, then drop to medium high once the oil is very hot.
  7. Drop sticks in pan and lightly cook in oil until just light golden in colour.
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

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Instructions

 

1. Spread cornmeal or bread crumbs on a baking pan or the like. Add salt and mix. Set aside.

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2. Place and evenly spread 1 cup of cheese shreds at a time into a pan and cook on high heat until the shreds begin to melt and stick together.

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3. Remove and place on a clean work surface. 

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4. Handling the hot cheese with care, take about 1 tablespoon of melted cheese into the palm of your hands, working to get a nice log formed. (Sorry couldn’t take complete progress pictures of this step but it’s kind of hard when your other hand is in charge of the camera….)

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5. Place in prepared bread crumbs and roll cheese until entirely covered. Repeat.

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6.(a) Once all of the cheese sticks are formed, place oil in pan and heat on high at first, then drop to medium high once the oil is very hot.

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6.(b) Drop sticks in pan and lightly cook in oil until just light golden in colour. Approximately 30 seconds.

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6.(c) Turn sticks over and cook a further 20 seconds or so until cooked and a nice golden colour is achieved all around.

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Note: The sticks will take longer to reach the desired colour at first, but you will find that as you continue to cook the cheese sticks, it will take you less time than mentioned to turn them over and remove. So keep that in mind.

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Remove and enjoy hot alone or dipped in your favourite sauce. I used ketchup for one of my kids.

 

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These cheese sticks taste great and will still stretch at room temp. You may refrigerate any leftovers in a lidded tupperware and just reheat before consuming again.

 

 

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Absolutely a delicious healthy snack that you can make on the spot and one your entire family will marvel at and devour!

 

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Bon appétit! xo

    

Healthiest No Bake Peanut Butter Cups

 

 

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I have to admit, I’ve never tasted a Reese cup (the horror!) because I never cared for peanut butter before I met my husband. Now it seems like I can’t live without it! Although the only kind I inhale (um consume) is the all natural peanut butter, not the tons-of-icing-sugar-and-other-junk-they’re-allowed-to-stock-on-grocery-store-shelves kind.  Honestly, I don’t know how companies are permitted to make foods that aren’t the best for us to have. Especially foods that kids enjoy on the daily like peanut butter. I digress….

 

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Although I haven’t had a peanut butter cup, I wanted to make something for my kids to enjoy should they request to have it at any time. I made my very first batch some time ago while vacationing at my sister-in-law’s in Calgary. It was a pure experiment that turned out to be a total hit! They were so good in fact, that I didn’t make them again until just recently because of fear that I would devour all of the cups!! Silly as that may be, I’ve realized my willpower has weakened over time so the best way to control it was to avoid making them all together. I know, quite sad. And my poor husband got to a point where he and Munsur would beg for me to make them. But I held on!

Then one day when I posted a picture of a failed cake which I had turned into a rolled cake slathered with delicious peanut butter and apricot jam, one of my dearest friends on social media (Instagram) gave me the happiest news that day, that her family was now able to introduce peanuts into their lives! 

 

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It was an emotional moment for me, and if you have food allergies in your household you would understand why; it’s one less thing you need to worry about when it comes to your child/children’s wellbeing. Every parent can attest to how much energy is exerted just worrying about them and ensuring they live a happy healthy life. Add to that food allergies, and your worries are multiplied by a ton. You have to constantly be aware of your surroundings and going anywhere where food is involved can be (and usually always is) a daunting ordeal. But because food is one of life’s simple pleasures and is necessary for one’s survival, it simply cannot be avoided. So you have to make due and make the best out of the hand you’ve been dealt in this life.

Enter these melt-in-your-mouth and not in your hand goodness. And the taste of the dark chocolate combined with naturally sweetened peanut butter is a match made in heaven. The honey isn’t detectable in this recipe but offers a hint of sweetness which is perfect because I don’t like my desserts overly sweet.

 

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For anyone who is vegan and would like to make this recipe, substitute honey with agave or maple syrup and the taste should remain the same. And for anyone with a peanut allergy, substitute the peanut butter with Wow Butter (or the like) which is soy-based but has a similar taste to peanut butter. Also, if you don’t have silicone molds feel free to use cupcake liners or those tin tart liners too. Basically, there is no excuse not to make them!

 

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This recipe I’m about to share with you can’t get any simpler than this. And these beauties are so healthy too (relatively speaking) because well, they technically are if you think about the ingredients used. Make these win-win, can’t get enough deliciousness today; your kids, family, friends, neighbours, and strangers will thank you! …and so will your weakened willpower too!!!

 

 

Healthiest No Bake Peanut Butter Cups
Yields 18
Inspired by the popular Reese cup, this version made with dark chocolate will have you satisfied and happy :)
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
35 min
For the chocolate layers
  1. 2 1/2 C Enjoy Life Mega Chocolate Chunks, or dairy free chocolate of choice
  2. 1 tbsp coconut oil
For the peanut butter filling
  1. 1 C smooth natural peanut butter
  2. 1 tbsp honey, or equal amounts liquid sweetener of choice
Instructions
  1. Using a double-boiler, heat 2 cups chocolate until they begin to melt.
  2. Stir chocolate until smooth. Then add coconut oil and stir until completely combined.
  3. Remove from heat, and add reserved 1/2 c chocolate. Stir until fully incorporated and chocolate is silky smooth.
  4. Place 1 teaspoon per silicone mold and swirl chocolate until you've achieved a nice base and about 1/2 inch of edge. (see pic in instructions below)
  5. Place in the freezer to set for approximately 15 minutes.
  6. In a bowl, mix together peanut butter and honey until fully combined.
  7. Remove cups from freezer and add 2 tsp worth of peanut butter mixture into each cup.
  8. Top peanut butter with 1 tsp of the melted chocolate and ensure a complete chocolate seal by swirling the cup until chocolate covers entire surface.
  9. Place back in the freezer to completely set, approximately 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from freezer and gently pop out each peanut butter cup. Enjoy cold or allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Notes
  1. Total Time includes setting time in the freezer.
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

Instructions

 

 

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1. Using a double-boiler, heat 2 cups chocolate until they begin to melt.

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2. Stir chocolate until it melts. Then add coconut oil and stir until fully combined.

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3. Remove from heat, and add reserved 1/2 c chocolate. Stir until fully incorporated and chocolate is silky smooth.

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4. Place 1 teaspoon per silicone mold and swirl chocolate until you’ve achieved a nice base and about 1/2 inch of edge.

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5. Place in the freezer to set for approximately 15 minutes.

 
6. In a bowl, mix together peanut butter and honey until fully combined.

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7. Remove cups from freezer and add 2 tsp worth of peanut butter mixture into each cup.

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8. Top peanut butter with 1 tsp of the melted chocolate and ensure a complete chocolate seal by swirling the cup until chocolate covers the entire surface.

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9. Place back in the freezer to completely set, approximately 10 minutes.

 
10. Remove from freezer and gently pop out each peanut butter cup. Enjoy cold or allow to come to room temperature before serving.

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Spectacular!!

 

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I would store these peanut butter cups in the fridge or freezer. Especially with the warm weather, you don’t want your beautiful creations to melt in the heat! 

 

 

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Bon appétit! xo

Vegan No Bake Chocolate Oreo Tart

 

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This recipe was inspired by a video that TasteMade had posted which received over 67 million views as of last week. It was created by the talented Ella who runs Home Cooking Adventure. Her recipes and photographs are nothing short of stunning. 

I must have seen the link to this video pop up multiple times on Facebook so it was only a matter of time before the creative side in me thought about how to turn this recipe vegan…and I did it! :)

 

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This Vegan Chocolate Oreo Tart was a crowd pleaser. You start with an ‘Oreo’ base, fill it with gorgeous silky chocolate ganache, and top it off with strawberries or any other berry of choice. I especially love the combination of raspberries and chocolate – and I was going to top mine with raspberries but all of my berries had fallen on the floor and got mushed (kids!) so I stuck with the original recipe which called for strawberries.

And it can’t get any simpler than the way I’ve prepared it for you. On top of all the amazing things about this recipe, it’s also wheat and gluten free! In fact, it’s top 10 allergy free!

 

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Prep time is a snap and the ingredients should be available to you at your local supermarket. Keep in mind when making this recipe to prepare it in advance because it needs to sit in the fridge overnight for the chocolate to completely set. And the longer it stays in the fridge the better. 

Enjoy making this simple but sinfully decadent treat. 

 

 

Vegan No Bake Chocolate Oreo Tart
A vegan chocolate tarte that's decadent and simple to make.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 hr
For the crust
  1. 30 whole KinniToos Chocolate Sandwhich Crème Cookies by Kinnikinnick Foods
  2. 1/2 C vegan spread, softened
For the filling
  1. 1 C full fat coconut milk
  2. 1 1/2 C Enjoy Life Mega Chocolate Chunks, or dairy free chocolate of choice
  3. 9 fresh strawberries, halved
Notes
  1. You'll need an 8" or 9" round pie pan with a removable bottom (highly recommended).
  2. I get the 'oreo' cookies from Loblaws. You can also check their website below for where to buy in your area.
  3. http://consumer.kinnikinnick.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/products.home/productcategoryid/12
Adapted from Home Cooking Adventure
Adapted from Home Cooking Adventure
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

Instructions

 

 

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1. Using either a food processor or a blender, process cookies until completely broken and crumbly.

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2. Add vegan spread and combine with cookies until fully incorporated.

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3 (a) Pour the mixture into the pie pan. Shape crust using your hand and ensure it’s smoothly and evenly laid out. 

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3 (b) Press the crust against the edges as shown. Place in the freezer until ready to fill.

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To prepare the filling:

 

4. Place chocolate chunks in a heat-proof bowl. Set aside.

5. Then, heat coconut milk over the stove and once you notice it come to a boil, remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let milk sit in chocolate untouched for 3 minutes. 

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6. Then stir or whisk chocolate and milk until fully mixed. Your ganache is ready.

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7. Remove crust from freezer and pour and spread ganache over top crust.

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8. Place strawberry halves in a pretty pattern over ganache. 

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9. Place tart in the fridge to set at least overnight to allow for the ganache to completely set. Minimum 8 hours!  

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Tip: As tempting as it is not to touch the tart, don’t skimp out on the timing in this step. Because we’re using coconut milk which is much lighter than heavy cream, it needs more time to solidify and give that texture of perfectly done ganache. So the longer you leave it in the fridge the better the taste result.

 

When ready to serve, remove tart from fridge, remove from pan, score and cut tart into desired segments and serve with milk, tea, or coffee.

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This is a beautiful dessert that is simple to make and considering the ingredients used, scores high on the healthy desserts scale. 

 

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Bon appétit! xo  

Vegan Ka’ak El Eid! {Festive Date Filled Cookie Rings}

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They say time flies when you’re having fun, and although this might come across as strange that I actually truly love the whole aspect of Ramadan and everything it encompasses (yes, including the long hours of fasting), the truth is I along with many others look forward to this month every year and are somewhat saddened to see it end so quickly. 

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a strict fast and take part in charitable and other pious activities. It’s also a time of self-awareness and self-reflection, and a chance to start over and make amends with those you may have wronged in the previous year (or forgive those who may have wronged you). It’s a very peaceful month and to see it go so quickly is bittersweet to say the least.

However, with every beginning there is an end, and for Ramadan, it’s Eid Al-Fitr or the Festival of Fast-Breaking! 

 

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Eid Al-Fitr falls on the first day of Shawal, the month that follows Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. Muslims around the world take part in the celebrations by giving to those in need, handing out presents to children, and visiting family and friends. New clothes are usually purchased and saved for this day or your best clothes are cleaned and are ready to wear on Eid day and the kids can’t wait to open their presents and spend time with those they love.  

A few days before Eid, Muslims donate a determined amount to the needy so that everyone is given the opportunity to celebrate. It is truly a beautiful time of year. 

With that comes food of course! And one of the things that people look forward to eating is sweets (anytime really we just need an excuse!) 

 

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Among the arabic sweets is Ka’ak El Eid, or Festive Cookies. They’re prepared in batches and the sheer smell of one of these cookies will have you packing on a few pounds for sure… I speak from experience. Some are filled with dates and others are made with no filling at all. I’m always fishing for the ones that are filled with dates because I personally can’t justify eating what is essentially sweet bread without anything in it! Can’t do it. 

This year, I decided I’d make my own batch of Vegan Date Cookie Rings to hand out to family and friends. Regular Ka’ak have butter and milk in them…some even put eggs. This is the third time I make them so I’ve had the chance to tweak the recipe quite a bit to get it exactly how I like it. Traditionally, these sweets are very crispy, but I prefer mine somewhat softer, and loaded with dates.

 

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My cookies are not only vegan, but dare I say healthier, so delicious, with a slightly crispy yet airy outer layer, and a soft chewy date filled inside, I promise you will love the entire process of making them. It’s labour intensive but well worth every sweat bead (although you won’t be sweating because I wouldn’t want to do that to you) ;)

 

 

Vegan Ka'ak El Eid {Festive Date Filled Cookie Rings}
Yields 60
A delicious arabic sweet made before Eid to celebrate the end of Ramadan and/or the end of Pilgramage Muslims take part in every year.
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Prep Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
1 hr 36 min
Prep Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
1 hr 36 min
For the dough
  1. 1 1/2 C flour
  2. 1 1/2 C fine semolina flour
  3. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 tbsp yeast
  5. 2 tbsp sugar
  6. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  7. 1 tsp ground anis
  8. 1 heaping tsp Nigella/Black seed (Habet Barakeh) {available at your local Middle-Eastern store}
  9. 1 tsp Mahlab spice {available at your local Middle-Eastern store}
  10. 1 C vegan spread*
  11. 1 C coconut milk, warmed
  12. 2 tsp orange blossom water {available at local Middle-Eastern supermarkets}
For the filling
  1. 3 1/2 C Parnoosh pitted dates
Notes
  1. This recipe yields approximately 60 cookie rings - depending on the size of rings you end up making.
  2. *I've made this recipe using both olive oil and vegetable oil to see the results. Using oil renders a crunchy and slightly tougher dough, but it still tasted great. I however loved the results the spread gave my cookies so i'm partial to using that ingredient.
  3. If you aren't able to get your hands on the Mahlab spice, omit it and replace with same amount of ground nutmeg for an equally delightful result.
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

Instructions

 

 

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1. Using a large bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix very well using your hands or a whisk.

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2. Add vegan spread and using your hands, work it into the dry ingredients until you get a soft almost crumbly dough.

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3. Next, add spices and mix well until incorporated. 

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4. Then, warm coconut milk over the stove being careful not to get it too hot. You want it to be tolerable to the touch for a few seconds. Add orange blossom water and stir.

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5. Add warmed milk to bowl and stir using your hands until dough is formed.

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6. Cover bowl with Saran wrap and put a towel over it to allow the dough to proof (rise). Leave for at least 1 hour.

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While the dough is proofing, prepare the dates.

 

 

7. In a bowl, place the Parnoosh dates and massage them into a paste using your hands.

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Continue to massage until all dates are fully mushed into a paste.

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Tip: Parnoosh dates are best for this recipe because they’re so soft and perfect to work with. You don’t need to add butter or any other fat to get them to soften. 

 

8. Then, take about a tablespoon worth of date paste, roll into a ball first and then into logs as shown. This helps make the cookie assembling faster and easier. Logs should be about 3 to 4 inches long. Set aside until ready to fill.

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Note: logs don’t need to be exact length or width. Try to get them as uniform as possible so that your cookies come out evenly sized. But it doesn’t matter whether you have smaller or larger cookies, the important thing is the taste.

 

To make the Cookies:

 

9 (a) Remove dough from bowl and place on a clean work surface. Using your hands, knead dough well and roll it into a log. 

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9 (b)  Then, either cut small 1 inch pieces using a knife, a spoon, or pinch with your hand. 

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10. Working with each dough ball, spread into a rectangle and add one log. Fold dough over date log and gently roll together to form a log. Cut excess dough that has no filling in it and reuse with other remnants to form more balls.

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Tip: If you find you’ve rolled a rather large date filled log, just roll it further to thin it out and cut the log in half to make two.

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11. Fold the ends on top of each other as shown. Pinch ends together to seal. Place on a prepared baking pan with parchment paper.

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Continue steps 10 and 11 until all dough is used and rings are formed.

 

Tip: If you end up with extra date logs, put them in a container in the fridge to be used another time or eat them as is like my kids love doing. They should keep for a while in the fridge.

 

Allow cookies to rest for 20 minutes before placing in the oven.

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While the cookies are resting, preheat the oven to 350F.

 

12. Place pan in the oven to bake for 15 minutes, until bottom of cookies are golden in colour. Then, switch baking setting to Low Broil and let cookies broil until dark golden in colour, 1 minute or so.

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Tip: be careful not to leave the area. Monitor the cookies to ensure they don’t burn.

 

Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool slightly on a wire rack before enjoying.

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Biting into one of these cookies is heaven. You’ll know what I mean once you make them for yourself. My measure of whether my recipe is a success or not is heavily dependant on whether my kids devour them. I’m happy to report that I’ve received four little thumbs up! 

These cookies make a great gift to give to family, friends, and neighbours. They will certainly appreciate the thoughtful gesture and more importantly, the taste. :)  Hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.

 

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To everyone observing the month of Ramadan, have a blessed last few days and an early Eid Mubarak/Happy Eid to you!

 

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Bon appétit! xo                  

Quinoa

 

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Quinoa is one of those frequently talked about whole grains (well technically a seed) that people don’t seem to quite understand how it gained sudden popularity in the last few years. A little lesson for you then: Quinoa has been around and used for consumption for 1000′s of years and it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids needed for your body to function in a healthy manner. It’s also very high in protein which means, for many of us who don’t consume a lot of meat products, it offers a nice balance of protein next to your main meal. Plus, it’s naturally gluten-free. It can’t get any better than this, relatively speaking. ;)

I love quinoa for its versatility and plain good taste. You can add any desired spices to it to up the taste factor, or enjoy it plain with some salt. It offers a nutty flavour and a light texture. It’s a grain I don’t feel guilty about eating (like I tend to feel with rice and wheats). I always make a big amount and eat it over several days for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

 

 

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I have it for breakfast  with some almond milk, peanut butter, and a drizzle of honey. I also use it in salads on occasion, in desserts like when making my Allergen-Free Cookies (recipe to come!), and of course for dinner in place of rice or potatoes! We’re not big on rice in my family but quinoa, we’re definitely huge fans!

You cook quinoa like you would rice. I like to toast it to bring out its nutty notes; this step definitely ups the flavour factor of quinoa in my opinion. Therefore, it’s a simple and a very healthy alternative for days when you’ve had maybe a bit too much of the other stuff! And honestly, once you start making quinoa in your home, you may very well prefer it over anything else! 

Quinoa is by far one of the yummiest grains to consume, not to mention how simple it is to make, and how crazy healthy it is for you to serve in your home.

Follow my steps to make the perfect batch every time!

 

Quinoa
Serves 4
A delicious alternative to rice, quinoa is full of essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and protein that the body needs to live a healthy life.
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Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 C quinoa of choice (red, black, yellow)
  2. 2 C water
  3. 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1/2 tsp sea salt to start
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

 

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Instructions

 

1. In a dutch or french oven, add olive oil and quinoa and cook on medium high heat for approximately 3 minutes to toast the quinoa seeds.

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2. Next, add water and bring to a boil, stir and ensure all of the quinoa seeds are immersed in water. 

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3. Once water is boiling, add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to start, stir, and let cook for a couple of minutes uncovered.

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4. Then, lower heat to lowest simmer, cover pot with lid, and allow quinoa to cook and absorb the water for 15 minutes. 

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5. Turn heat off and leave quinoa covered for 3 to 5 minutes before removing lid to absorb any left over water and to help it soften further.  Then, stir quinoa to loosen it up. Add more salt if needed. 

 

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Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, in salads, or dinner with your favourite meal. Quinoa has a distinctive taste that’s nutty and absolutely delicious, and it will for sure delight even the pickiest of eaters (fingers crossed!).

Bon appétit! xo 

 

   

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