Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Garlic

Ripe, colorful, sweet cherry tomatoes. Fresh, strong, pungent garlic. One of the things I miss about living in Victoria is the massive rosemary bush in my garden. That thing had a mind of its own and would mutate every time it rained. I would regularly cut it, post an ad on Craigslist and give bags of it away. Fresh rosemary all year round … I miss that and I’m looking forward to the day I can have an out of control rosemary bush again. Among other things! I love this recipe because it uses all fresh ingredients but it’s also so versatile. It can be used in pretty much anything. I often use it in casseroles, like a spaghetti squash casserole. It’s great as a simple addition to pasta or you can puree the tomatoes and garlic together and add them to a basic marinara. There is a face-punch of flavor, no matter how you use it. But fair warning: your house will smell irresistible!

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Coconut Cream Yogurt

Hi. I haven’t seen you guys in a while! It’s been a rough few months for me and I’m finally starting to get my stuff back together. My dad succumbed to cancer in July, somewhat unexpectedly so I took a month off of work to help mom sort things out. After that, I had no energy, too hot, too tired, too sad to focus on cooking and taking pictures and writing these posts up for you. At the beginning of August though, I hooked myself up with two personal trainers and I feel like my life is on a different track. A path that I could always see off in the distance but could never get to, one that I constantly thought about but could never pull the energy out of the depths for. So, I’ve been going to the gym. And I’ve been given a meal plan. And since August I’ve lost 16 pounds and in the last month I’ve lost 12.75 inches! It’s moments like this that I’m so grateful for this blog because if it weren’t for this and these recipes and all of the work I’ve put into learning how to cook healthy meals, a meal plan would be so much harder! My plan, for now, is gluten free and dairy free. I was already 90% there so I didn’t find this too difficult. This recipe helped me step over the roadblock I had with my homemade yogurt. My trainer was letting me still use the dairy yogurt but that’s all I was allowed to have. I wanted to eliminate it entirely and do the best that I can with this exercise ‘thing’. This recipe makes two servings so I have to make it more often but it takes less than 5 minutes to prep, a night in the oven and we’re done. It’s slightly more expensive but totally worth it as far as I’m concerned – I’m happy to have a sugar free, preservative free vegan yogurt for my morning snack. I’m still in love with the dairy yogurt though and hopefully I’ll be able to incorporate it back into my diet in small doses.

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Citrus Coffee Marinated Chicken

I wasn’t looking for a new chicken recipe yesterday. I had every intention of making my original Roasted Chicken recipe but when I started prepping everything, it turned into something totally different. I made something up, it sounded weird with a side of ‘could be good?’. I had a huge almost 7 pound chicken that was about to get freezer burn. I had some left over coffee from that morning’s fix. And I also had oranges. So I whipped up this little ditty with the hopes that it didn’t taste as weird as it sounded. Well, it smelled incredible. That’s a good sign right? My oven has some sort of weird magic it does where it cooks a 7 pound chicken in just under an hour. So, please keep that in mind if you use this on a whole chicken – your oven probably isn’t magic. This marinade would be just as great as a marinade for chicken pieces or maybe even pork chops! By the way … it was yummy. Super tender, not too citrusy, couldn’t pick out the coffee specifically. Delicious.
Citrus Coffee Marinated Chicken (16)

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Chicken Phở

I crave phở like I crave sushi. Not often but every once in a while I just need some strong flavourful broth. I’ve had bad phở and I’ve had awesome phở and for me, it’s usually about the broth. Sometimes it’s too sweet, sometimes too fish-saucey and others give me the perfect balance of flavor depth. I don’t get very brave with tripe and what-not and stick to what I know with thin-sliced raw beef or chicken. The last restaurant bought phở I had was not very impressive. The beef slices were all stuck together in one big clump, hard to pull apart and mushy. Blech! It’s a good thing it’s cheap or I’d have a hard time spending money on it. Phở is one of those dishes that people don’t typically make at home because it’s ‘a labor of love’ and thus I had never even considered attempting it. So, naturally, I was a bit floored when I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. It’s actually quite simple, doesn’t have a million, complicated and inaccessible ingredients. The ingredients that you do need are super inexpensive and aside from the chicken I think I spent a total of $4 on this meal. It is time consuming though. All in all, it takes probably 3.5 hours to make but there certainly isn’t a lot of effort involved. Just a lot of simmering. I would consider this a perfect recipe for new and practicing cooks and the results are more than worth the time! I actually got so darn excited making it that I forgot to add basil and lime!

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Homemade Yogurt

I have some serious rants about yogurt. Things that really just get my goat every time I buy it. We like it for breakfast, I use it in cooking and some baking but is it just me or is it outrageously expensive? I could easily spend $30+ a week on yogurt. I want to say that I do this without batting an eye but that’s just not true. There is a lot of eye-batting at the dairy counter. Plenty of blink-blinking going on! Making yogurt this way costs me $7 for 7-10 days worth! Another thing that causes excessive blinking is the ‘nutritional value’. When was the last time you looked at the nutritional information on your favourite yogurt? I’m usually pretty shocked by the amount of sugar and fat in one of those itty bitty containers. Itty. Bitty.

Which leads me straight into complaint #3 – Is there anybody out there that thinks a 2oz container of yogurt is satisfying? Aside from a 3 year old, that is. I’ve noticed over the years that the sugar content is going up but the servings are getting smaller. Ridiculous! Complaint #4 stems from the part of me that likes to know where my food comes from. I don’t know where the milk came from, what kind of process it went through, how long it sat before being fermented etc. So yeah, then there’s that. But we all know I like the easy things in life. Anything to make life a little more convenient, a little bit more tolerant of my laziness, I’m in. And we certainly know I love my slow cooker. Homemade yogurt has got to be one of the easiest kitchen experiences – EVER. I started off by making this on the stovetop. It’s a great method for small batches but is a smidge more high maintenance in that you really have to monitor the temperature. Make this once and you’ll never have to buy yogurt again. With this recipe you can control where you buy your milk and what you put in the yogurt in the way of flavor; as much or as little sugar as you want, fresh berries, honey – you choose! It’s perfect in every way – you can probably tell I’m passionate about my yogurt.

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Sweet & Spicy Cashew Chicken

This recipe is from the Eat, Shrink and Be Merry cookbook. A friend photocopied it and gave it to me and it’s taken me a good year and a half to get around to making it. Quite unfortunate really because it’s incredibly delicious and surprisingly low in fat! I tried it out on friends last night and I think it was a winner. It’s absolutely packed with flavor and I think you’d be hard pressed to distinguish this dish from one in a restaurant! I served it over steamed Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) and Bok Choy although the picture shows it over rice.

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Japanese Pickled Cucumber Salad

I’ve been MIA for a while. I find myself incredibly lazy, uninspired and unmotivated to cook in the summer months. I don’t like the heat and I especially don’t like humidity. It has been one of the hottest summers on record in Vancouver. 3 straight months of 25-35 degrees with very little rain. 25 degrees isn’t bad in the Okanagan, where I’m from, but factor in the temperate rainforest and the 95% humidity kills me. I also live in a basement suite with no air conditioning so the stove and oven get turned on as little as possible. Now that I’m finished making excuses, I’d like to present you with a dish I came across today. I have no idea where I found it but the link to the original website is below. Super simple and healthy but with so many complex flavors. You also don’t need to turn on a burner. I whipped this salad up and while it was marinating I made up a quinoa fry with sweet red peppers, caramelized onions and Japanese turnips. Delicious and super light dinner for a stupidly hot day.

Japanese Cucumber Salad (7)

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Easy Energy Crackers

One of the things I miss about being gluten free is crackers. Crackers for hummus, cheese, peanut butter, garlic sausage … They’re kind of perfect for everything. When I lived in Victoria one of my favourite places for a light lunch was Cafe Bliss on lower Pandora Street. A cute little raw and vegan cafe tucked in an easily accessible area of Victoria. They make raw yam crackers and raw seed crackers that are just simply amazing. Dehydrated yam puree made into crackers. *swoon* This recipe fondly reminds me of those far away days. These crackers, combined with my awesome Spicy Hummus is really appealing and sounds like something the doctor would order. I’ve made Parmesan Cream Crackers before and they are so delicious, but I haven’t thought of them since going gluten free. This will be a great alternative! These crackers are gluten free, vegan, oil free and sugar free. Simple, healthy ingredients that you can adapt however you please! I adapted the recipe quite a bit but have a look at the original and you can derive ideas from there too.

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Enchilada Sauce

I’ve never made enchilada sauce before. This recipe looked easy, I had everything I needed here (except sour cream) and I figured it was a sauce that could have many uses. I changed the recipe a bit, there wasn’t nearly enough garlic or jalapenos so I spiced it up a bit! Turned out to still need more jalapenos. I associate Enchilada sauce with some level of spice and mine didn’t have it. It was still delicious, lots of flavor. I used some of it to cook chicken thighs in in the slow cooker. Made pulled chicken in enchilada sauce tacos. With Mexican Black Bean Sauce of course! There’s so much left over that I’m going to freeze it so I can use it in something like Spanish Rice or marinating more chicken!

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Mexican Black Bean Sauce

I didn’t know black bean sauce could be this delicious. Seriously. I was tempted to eat the bowl of sauce by itself. There’s a lot left over from tacos though so I may just get my chance. That or I’ll think up something brilliantly creative to use the leftovers for. I adapted the original recipe a bit, using less liquid. I wanted it thick enough to put on tacos so I halved the chicken stock. I’ll lay it out for you in the recipe so you can make it whatever consistency you want. This sauce would be perfect for burritos. Or better yet, chip dip! Perfect I say!

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