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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No Bake PB Drop Cookies

Simple. That’s the only way to describe these. Actually that’s not true. One can also call them delicious. Mike prefer to call them ‘amazeballs’. I shared them at work (what was I thinking?!) Everyone loved them which is a good sign! But it means there were less cookies for me *sad face* But I’ve been even sadder ever since they disappeared. I was away from home for a few days, eating out, eating really poorly and aside from vegetables, all I could think of was these damn cookies. They take 5-10 minutes to prepare. An hour to cool and 5 more minutes to drop onto a pan. They taste like delicious little protein cookies but with better texture and dare I say even tastier! The oats lend a little crunch to them, the coconut gives them flavor depth and more texture and the honey is just perfectly sweet but not over powering. There is no added sugar (honey is the only sugar!) and if I had children, I would feel more than comfortable giving them these as a treat. Hell, they could even make them themselves! Well … with maybe a little supervision. What wasn’t simple about this recipe though, was what to call them! 

Chocolate PB Drop Cookies (13)

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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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Chicken Stock

So like I said in the last post, roasted chicken is a double hitter. Roast up your chicken with some spices, butter and veggies and after dinner, remove all of the meat from the bones and throw the carcass in a slow cooker with your roasted veggies (or fresh veggies if you used the roasted ones for dinner) and some water. I’ve done up this recipe with the assumption that you’ll use fresh veggies. You can use any veggies you want and can add any additional spices you want. I’m not sure how aware you are of the salt content of store bought stocks. Even the low-sodium versions are loaded with salt. It’s used as a preservative and I think it’s virtually unavoidable if you’re going to buy it. No judgement though, I have certainly bought my fair share of stocks but there is almost no sodium in this recipe – I didn’t add any more to the crockpot and it has a pure, delicious chicken flavor. This recipe is absolutely just as easy to make as it is to throw the carcass away so I highly recommend it! You can split it into freezable containers and keep it stored away for several months, or you can do what I did and make Garlic Parsley Risotto and Creamy Cheesey Polenta with it – a great hearty soup is also a solid option. It’s great to plan almost a week’s worth of recipes around one chicken, let me tell you!

Chicken Stock (3)

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Roasted Chicken

What’s your take on roasted chicken? Is it a go-to in your house or is it a meal that has strong memory connections for you? Do you have a preferred method or recipe? My answer is – none of the above. I’m sure my mom made it as a kid, but I don’t have any powerful recollections. Both of my Grandmothers were terrible cooks and I don’t often make it, even though my mantra is simplicity on all fronts. Roast chicken is definitely simplicity. Of all the recipes I’ve ever looked at I have never come across one that could be classified as complicated. Even the greats use simple tactics and simple ingredients! I have a trick up my sleeve though – one that I don’t see very often in recipes but when I do see it I says to myself “Eh, they know what they’re doing!” The secret is butter. Ssshhhhh Don’t tell anyone! My mom gave me some large (5-7 pounds!) organic chickens and I haven’t used any because the time it takes to roast those suckers is far longer than I want to have my oven on during the summer months. But now, it’s cold, it’s raining and it’s looking a lot like winter. The best thing about roast chicken though is that it’s a double hitter. Take the meat off the chicken, throw the carcass in a crock pot with some veggies and water and you end up with some wicked (and natural!) chicken stock – which I then proceeded to use to make Garlic Parsley Risotto. It’s been in the oven for 10 minutes and already smells great. I only have two hours left …

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Rutabaga Honey Cake

Last year I received a rutabaga in my CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture) Rutabaga was certainly one of those vegetables that reminds my adult self how much my childhood self despised them. They’re kind of flavorless but have a distinct earthy, tangy smell when cooked. Distinct like celery, without smelling like celery. I wanted to use it in a way that wasn’t a stir-fry, boiling or basically just eating it. *ick* So a quick google search netted me a version of this recipe. It was already a gluten free recipe, so that was cool. I made it then promptly died and went to heaven. I haven’t made it since, though I often think about it. My last CSA box had a huge rutabaga in it. I could easily make 4 of these cakes, so I opted for doubling the recipe. I hate wasting food! I didn’t have brown rice flour on hand so I used gluten free all purpose and coconut flour instead. I think it made the rutabaga stand out a bit more and still tasted delicious. I’m pretty confident in saying you can probably use any flour you have available to you, inluding wheat flour, but keep in mind the density and textures will change with each flour variation.
Rutabaga Honey Cake (15)

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Vegan Raw Chocolate Pudding

Hey, I’m not going to lie to you; I like pudding. I think the same goes for most people. It’s delicious! But it isn’t healthy. By any stretch of the imagination. I actually found this pudding more satisfying than regular chocolate pudding. There’s no added sugar. There’s no dairy. It’s all healthy, digestable fats. This is healthy stuff but I can assure you, aside from a slight flavor distinction, you won’t know it’s good for you – and I’m willing to bet good money your kids won’t notice either! That and it better be good for me because I ate it ALL. (don’t judge)

Vegan Chocolate Pudding (2)

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Coconut Sweet Potato Muffins

Holy smokes, where have these muffins been all my life? I like muffins to begin with but these are moist and light, not dense and heavy like some muffins. They have a great flavor, savory and not too sweet. It was a spontaneous decision to make them and I’m so glad I did. I saw the recipe on Pinterest, knew I had all the ingredients on hand and of course I had just finished cleaning my kitchen, so the timing was perfect. They came together in under ten minutes, which is really my idea of the best kind of baking. You can adjust the ingredients to use what you have on hand or to make them vegan if that’s what you prefer. The ingredients are simple and easy to come by. The recipe only makes 9 muffins and I’ll double it next time. A healthy treat for your and your family. I’m sure your kids won’t be disappointed!

Sweet Potato Muffins (6)
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Homestyle Hashbrowns

I’m not vegan. Though I appreciate veganism and am totally down with throwing some vegan meals into my weekly routine. Especially when the recipe is so good you aren’t obliged to tell your significant other about dinner’s lack of all thing animal. So I bought this amazing cookbook called “The Garden of Vegan” It’s a local cookbook and everything I’ve tried is awesome. One might think “Hashbrowns? Why waste your time posting about hashbrowns?” I’m sharing with you because it is so easy and it spices up regular ole’ hashbrowns (and because sharing is what I do!) Breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Homestyle Hashbrowns
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