Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter to those celebrating this weekend.

I think we are all happy to have a 4 day weekend happening here, especially since the weather has improved.  There have been so many incidents of misbehaviour around here lately, that the girls have lost almost all of their privileges, and I've lost my sanity.  Although really I lost that years ago.

Little A still seems to be in some sort of phase that is, well, miserable.  I think it was exhaustion a few days this week because the girls got to bed much later than usual due to the Passover sedars.  But yesterday morning she was so irrational that I can't even explain it. Adam and I suspect it might have been nerves about having to do this presentation in French at school, but it's hard to say.  She is very social, but definitely doesn't like being put in the spotlight.  She was too shy to sing the 4 questions at the sedar, for example, even though it was just family.

I am very excited because today we are taking the girls to a ceramics place where you can paint mugs, plates, etc.  They have been wanting to do this for a while and I enjoy it too.  I took pottery lessons for a few years in my early 20s and absolutely loved it.

Saturday is Little A's 5th birthday.  Man, I hope she is in a good mood!  Sunday we have a family get-together, and Monday some playdates.  Not everyone has Monday off as a holiday, but the daycare and school are closed, so Adam and I booked it off as well.

Have a lovely weekend and enjoy some (stevia-sweetened) chocolate!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sesame Ginger Shirataki Noodle Salad for Passover

Finally, after several days of indulgent Passover treats, here is a savoury recipe for you.

This one basically adapts one I make all the time to be for Passover.  Having to avoid wheat and other grains isn't even the hardest part of Passover for me, it's actually having to also avoid legumes.  This means I can't even use soy sauce!  Thankfully, most health food stores now offer alternatives to soy sauce like coconut aminos.  I subbed coconut vinegar in for the rice vinegar I would usually use, but Adam wasn't overly impressed with that.  I agree, it's definitely better with soy sauce and rice vinegar, but for 8 days of the year, this will do.  It's still very tasty.

For all you not celebrating Passover, this is still a yummy recipe that is great for people eating gluten-free, low-carb, etc.

This is a big recipe, because it was served at our family sedar, so feel free to half it if you don't want to make as much.

Sesame Ginger Shirataki Noodle Salad for Passover


2-1lb shirataki noodles (the soy-free kind), cut with scissors
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 340g bags broccoli or rainbow slaw
1 bunch green onions, sliced


1/2 cup tahini/sesame butter
1/4 cup coconut aminos
1/4 cup coconut vinegar
2 tbls grated fresh ginger
1 tbls toasted sesame oil
Salt and crushed red chili flakes, to taste

Whisk together ingredients for dressing and set aside.

Place noodles and garlic in hot fry pan for 3-4 minutes.  Toss into a large bowl with slaw and onions.  Pour in dressing and mix well.  If there is any excess moisture from noodles in the salad, sprinkle in 2 tsp of konjac flour and mix well.  Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Death-by-Chocolate Passover Chocolate Torte (aka Nigella Lawson's olive oil chocolate cake)

Most folks who know food, know that the best Passover desserts, are those that never had flour in the recipe to begin with.  So when I found Nigella  Lawson's Olive Oil Chocolate Cake, I knew I had to make it for this year's sedar.

It was definitely the show-stopper.  My picky father-in-law had multiple servings and there were nothing but accolades from everyone else (including the kids).

Unfortunately, its not super healthy.  I thought about using something other than white sugar, and might do that next time I'm making it for us, but since I was making it for a crowd not always keen on healthy substitutions, I left the recipe as is.

Actually, I kind of gilded-the-lily on this one and used almond milk instead of water to make it even richer, and instead of just dusting the top with icing sugar, as Lawson does in her recipe, I poured a chocolate fondant over the top.

I also did the lazy woman's version and skipped all the sifting, electric beating, etc.  It still turned out amazing!

While there might be a heck of a lot of sugar in this, it is gluten-free and dairy free for those with allergies or sensitivities.

Death-by-Chocolate Passover Chocolate Torte (aka Nigella Lawson's olive oil chocolate cake)

  • cup regular olive oil
  • tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ cup boiling water or unsweetened chocolate or vanilla almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups almond meal 
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs

This recipe has been submitted to this week's Gluten-Free (Good) Friday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Passover Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free)

I saw this recipe on The Detoxinista blog and instantly thought it looked perfect for a Passover dessert.

I didn't think baking soda was okay at Passover, but when I did a bit of research, a lot of sources claim it is.  I guess you can decide for yourself.  I kept it in because I am not that experienced baking with almond flour, so I didn't want to mess these up.

The original recipe uses maple syrup, but I don't like baking with maple syrup unless I want the flavour to be the focus (otherwise it's a waste of liquid gold!), so I opted for agave, and it worked perfectly.  These are super yummy even if you aren't celebrating Passover.  Adam described them as tasting like a cross between a macaroon and a cookie.  The kids love them too!

Passover Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free) (Adapted from this one)

1 1/2 cups of blmond flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 whole egg, or flax egg
1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, vanilla, syrup and egg, and mix well. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and mix well until a uniform batter is achieved, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a tablespoon, drop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, or until golden around the edges, turning the pan half-way through baking time.  Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 24 cookies.  Keep in air tight container for 3-4 days or freeze.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (for Passover)

Happy Passover, and happy birthday to my dad!

Since I invented this recipe for Passover about a dozen years ago, they've been a favorite of Adam's.  The original isn't very healthy, using 2 full cups of brown sugar, but several of my attempts at making them with substitutions failed.  The recipe I posted last year is the original, but the photo is actually of the ones using coconut sugar, which ended up too crumbly.  This year, I finally mastered it!  Just a very small change in proportions and they turned out perfectly: sweet, caramel-y, crispy, chewy and amazing.

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (for Passover)

2 large eggs
4 tbls egg whites (or whites of 2 large eggs)
2 cups coconut sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat matzo meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined.  Scrape batter into greased 8x8 square pan and bake at 350F for 22 minutes.  Let cool and then cut into squares.  Makes 16 cookie bars.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Know When to Fold Em

Funny Birthday Ecard: I find it strange that we celebrate you on the anniversary of a day when your mom did all of the work.

Little A's birthday is coming up, with Big A's a few weeks later.  Ugh!  Why is it that kids birthdays have turned into such a big deal?  When I was a kid, we had people over for cake and ice cream and we played pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.  My mom would make me a cat shaped cake every year (remember, I used to be a crazy cat lady), with the face being made out of jelly beans and licorice (no professionally made fondant covered masterpieces). 

Last year, we got away with doing a joint party for them at a local community centre, but just to prepare all the healthy (ish) cupcakes, cake balls, etc. that they requested, and set up all the entertainment, and make the music CDs for the lootbags, almost left me a drooling idiot.  I think I needed several days to recover from all the stress and excitement.

This year, I am subcontracting much of the work out.  I just can't do it.  Things are busy and it's too much right now.  It's also all so darn expensive.  I hate that.  Not just because its a ridiculous amount to spend, but because, I can't imagine how horrible it must be for kids whose parents cannot afford all the usual frills (venue, loot bags, decorations, etc., etc.).

Initially, the girls each chose a different venue, but just the basics for the combined parties (not including loot bags, cake, etc.) was going to cost $1,000.  My neighbour mentioned that Amazon Indoor Playground has better rates so I checked it out.  At first I was reluctant because it's really far from our neighbourhood, but when I discussed it with the girls, they loved the themed parties on offer.  Unfortunately (and predictably), Little A chose the Princess theme, while big A chose Rock Star.  I love that the snacks and cake are included (I am going to pretend it's not made with white flour and sugar), and for a reasonable price, we could add pizza (which I requested with whole wheat crust).  I thought I would deal with loot bags myself, but at the last minute, broke down out of sheer desperation and ordered them from The Loot Lady.  At least they are mostly toys and only one small sugary treat.  Sigh!

Part of me feels like a failure because I can't be more of a Pinterest-Obsessed-Make-Everything-Beautiful-All-By-Myself type mother, but at the end of the day, I realized its about making the kids happy and they are very excited for their parties.

With Passover starting Monday, it will be a busy weekend.  I am bringing several dishes to my mother-in-law's sedar, and there are still a few things I promised to make for Adam.  I also have to work this evening and tomorrow morning, and we have dinner plans with friends on Saturday night.  Hence, I tried to avoid booking any clients on Monday so I can cook, in case it doesn't all get done this weekend but I ended up having to squeeze in one appointment.

Well I am glad that it's Friday anyways.  It was another tough week.  Adam got the bug Big A and I had last week and he had to stay home Wednesday.  When he stays home from work, you know he is super, super sick!  But the weather is getting better and there is lots to be grateful for.  The fact that my top-of-mind complaint is organizing the girls' birthday parties makes it obvious how fortunate I am...I will try to remind myself of that over the next few weeks...

Have a happy, healthy weekend and enjoy this gorgeous weather!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Red Thai Curry

I really love the complex flavours of Thai food, so I don't know why I don't make it more often.  It's actually quite simple.  If you have the time, you can add your meat raw and simmer in the sauce, or you can just use leftover meat or tofu and throw it in later, whatever.  As long as you don't overcook the meat or seafood, it's really quite hard to screw this up.

This could even be a Passover dish if you serve it over cauliflower rice!  If you want to thicken up the sauce a bit (which you definitely would want to do if using cauliflower rice), add a tablespoon or two of coconut flour.

Red Thai Curry (Vegan Option)

1 lb boneless cooked chicken, pork, beef, seafood or tofu

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch chunk of fresh ginger, minced
2-4 tbls red curry paste*
2 tbls fish sauce (or Ume plum vinegar for vegan)
1 can light coconut milk
1 broccoli, cut into florets
4 cups mushrooms, cut in half
2 red or yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
3 Japanese eggplants, cubed
2 cups diced fresh pineapple
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt and/or crushed red chili flakes, to taste (optional)

In a large skillet or pot over medium heat, whisk together ginger, garlic, curry paste, fish sauce, and coconut milk.  Toss in broccoli and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms, peppers, and eggplant and simmer until vegetables reach desired doneness.  Add meat or tofu and remaining ingredients, season to taste and serve over brown jasmine rice.  Keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days or freeze.