Saturday, November 2, 2013

Clean Eating Pumpkin Muffins... Almost

Now that Halloween is over its time to finish with that jack o'lantern that has been waiting on the front step. First of all DON'T leave it outside all night. When the trick or treaters have all gone home, put it in your fridge until you are ready. Cut into big chunks, and place on a foil tuned baking sheet. Drizzle with a little oil and place in a 300f oven. This could take a couple hours depending on the size of your chunks. Check if pumpkin is cooked by pricking with a fork. Remove from the oven allow to cool. Peel off skin and place in a food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer pureed pumpkin to the fridge  or freezer. This can be used for any number of pumpkin dishes.

Now that I have muffins fresh pumpkin puree, it's time for muffins. Today, I am making an almost 'clean' pumpkin spice muffin. Those that are following clean eating principles will enjoy these. There is no refined sugar or flour and has an extra boost with ground flaxseeds and chia seeds.

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1/4 cup ground chia seeds
2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 C fresh pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk

Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Don't over mix. Divide into 12 muffin tins. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds (pepitas) if desired. Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes.

So there you go, a guilt free muffin you can enjoy anytime.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Award Winning Chili

It's been an interesting summer and things are feeling like back to school time. We've had lots of time at the cottage and my foot has recovered from surgery. Last weekend we attended the Winnipeg 2nd annual Blues and Barbecue festival where I was selected to compete in the Turkey Chili Throwdown. Out of all the entries, 3 were selected. The chilies were prepared by chefs from Granny's Turkey and we're tasted and voted on by attendees of the festival. After 2 hours of tasting the votes were tallied; the winners were announced and my chili came in second place! I was (and am) very excited.

So not only is this recipe easy and delicious but it follows the principles of "Clean Eating". It has three superfoods (sweet potato, kale and flax seeds), uses a small amount of healthy oil and no added salt. This can also be made in a slow cooker.

So, as I promised to my Facebook friends, here is the recipe.

 Chipotle Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground turkey breast
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1 12oz can crushed tomatoes
3 - 4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
1 12oz jar roasted red peppers
1 cup cooked & pureed sweet potato
1 16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 2 tbsp Chipotle in adobo sauce, pureed
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 poblano pepper, diced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup kale, chiffoned

In a large pot, heat the oil and add onion and garlic. When the onions are sweating, add the ground turkey. Allow to brown breaking apart with the spatula and add flax seeds.

Add remaining ingredients and allow to simmer at least 30 minutes.

Top with sour cream and fresh cilantro if desired.

Eat and Enjoy

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Homemade Skor Bars

It's been 3 weeks since my surgery. I'm supposed to stay off my feet but cabin fever has set in big time. My garden has been ignored for the most part, but the perennials are doing their job.  My youngest son has a friend over to play and I find myself with a craving for something sweet.

I remember these homemade skor bars one of the choir moms made for a Christmas party.... Perfect. They are simple, quick and delicious. It makes a big batch so I can send some home with Jack's friend. I might even make some for a little thank you gift for the crossing guards at the school.

1 sleeve salted soda crackers
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 bag milk chocolate chips


Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with nonstick spray. Line crackers in a single layer getting them as close together as possible.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla. Bring to a boil and simmer until it starts to thicken...about 8 minutes.

Pour sugar mixture over prepared tray and spread evenly with an pallet knife. Place in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit for just a minute until it stops bubbling. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Place in the oven for just a few seconds to start the chocolate melting. Spread evenly with a pallet knife.

Cool to room temperature and break into pieces.
As a option sprinkle melted chocolate with nuts or toffee bits.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Reinventing a Diner Classic

My husband had a special request for dinner. It wasn't steak, nor was it pizza. It was a diner staple... A patty melt. Before then, I have never even eaten a patty melt but now I am hooked. It was so easy, and had rave reviews from the whole family. With a little prep during the day or the night before, you can use this diner classic on your busiest night of the week.

This is one of those meals that you don't need a recipe to make it. Just a few of your favorite toppings.

Make your burger patties about 4 oz, and cook all the way threw. In the winter, I cook them in a skillet, but in the summer cook extra patties on the weekend from the grill. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the patty melt night. ( if it's longer than 3 or 4 days, put in the freezer, but thaw before using)

You can use whatever leftovers you want. My husband likes caramelized onions and pickled jalapeño peppers. I like sautéed mushrooms and bell peppers. Add a little barbecue sauce or hot sauce or pesto and a cheese of your choice. I find shredding the cheese helps it melt easier, and it uses less cheese to save a few calories. All you do now is place your filling between two pieces of bread, buttered on the outside and cook like you would a grilled cheese sandwich. I like to use my panini maker.

How great would this be on the night where everyone is home for dinner at different times? How about on soccer practice night when you have 30 minutes to get out the door?

What I really like about this meal is the versatility. How about a chicken burger with tomato sauce and mozzarella for a Chicken Parmesan melt, or with a slice of ham and swiss cheese for a Chicken Cordon Bleu melt? Turkey burger with bacon, tomato and white cheddar for a BLT melt? Beef burger with sautéed peppers and onions and provolone cheese for a philly cheesesteak melt? Turkey burger cranberry sauce and brie?  The possibilities roll around in my mind until finally its time for dinner.

It's a Diner Classic for a reason. It's fast. It's easy. It's tasty. A virtual trifecta of suburban cuisine.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pancake Tuesday

You've heard me talk about it before. Pancake Tuesday! The one day a year when it's okay to have pancakes for dinner without guilt. This year Pancake Tuesday happens to fall on swimming night. It seems to work out best to leave from the pool right from school. They have some tables set up where the canteen used to be. We'll sit and have a snack and the kids do some homework. We get back home where we have a quick dinner. Usually eggs. So the fact that Pancake Tuesday falls on swimming night is quite convenient.

For the last little while I've been thinking about making Pumpkin Pie Pancakes. It happens that I have one bag of pumpkin puree in the left in the freezer. Using whole wheat flour, oatmeal and flax seeds should eliminate most of the guilt of this carbohydrate laden dinner. Making healthier pancakes, you can afford a little spiced whipped cream. I only wish I had so apple syrup left. When my parents lived in Ontario, the were close to an apple orchard which made the best apple syrup. Not that there is anything wrong with maple syrup.

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp melted butter or canola oil
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup pumpkin puree

In a large bowl add dry ingredients. In another bowl, mix wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk together.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt about 1 tbsp butter and coat the pan. Pour about 1/2 cup batter into skillet. Once bubbles come through the middle and edges no longer look fluid, flip the pancake to cook on the second side. Repeat until batter is gone.

Serve with syrup, whipped cream and/ or icing sugar.


Did you know you can freeze pancakes? If you have leftover pancakes, place on a baking sheet lined with waxed or parchment paper. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or so, and place them in a resealable freezer bag. Reheat in the microwave for a quick weekday breakfast.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Waiting Game

I had a busy day planned. Skating lessons in the morning, boy scout trip to the museum in the afternoon, followed by the neighbour's daughter's birthday party. That plan went out the window when we woke up to a cold house. With the two weeks of extreme cold we've been having, the furnace just couldn't take it anymore. So now I'm playing the waiting game. I put the fire on, and was looking for a reason to turn the oven on. I decided to make some muffins. I had some over ripe bananas in the freezer  so took them out to thaw. I don't cook a lot with bananas, actually it's an intolerance. I can't really be in the same room as a ripe banana, but in this case, sucked it up for my family. My husband likes banana muffins with chocolate chips, but I didn't have any. I did have some toffee bits. That sounds good. You've heard of banoffee pie? Well, here are banoffee muffins!

Banoffee Muffins

3 mashed over-ripe bananas
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup English toffee bits


In a large bowl, add bananas, sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients and mix to combine. Don't over mix.

Fold in toffee bits. Spoon mixture into muffins tins that have been sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with baking liners.

Bake at 325F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a baking rack.

Now that I have muffins to keep me warm, I can wait a little longer for the furnace guy.

Stay warm my friends

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Child's Play in the Kitchen

I don't know about you, but my kids love to help in the kitchen. I've tried from an early age to include them in many aspects of cooking and meal planning. I believe this will give them a life skill, and encourage a healthy lifestyle into adulthood. I also want my kids to try new foods all the time.

This was one my inspirations for my next little project. I'm taking my love of cooking and a child's natural love of learning and creating recipes to do in the classroom. My first "assignment" is for my son's kindergarten class. I want to keep it healthy and fun while simple enough for a 5 year old to do... With supervision. I chose Strawberry Shortcake. My mom always made strawberry shortcake with sweetened biscuits, so in my school-friendly version I'm using biscuits made with oatmeal and whole wheat flour with a little honey for sweetness. Instead of the whip cream, I'm using vanilla flavored Greek yogurt.

Now, the number of servings for this recipe is low considering it's for a classroom, but my plan is to keep the work groups to 4 or 5. This will also work perfectly for home use. In the classroom, multiple quantities accordingly.

Oatmeal Biscuits

1 cup oatmeal, ground in a food processor
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tbsp honey

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add shortening and mix (with hands if you want) until it looks like coarse crumbs. Mix in milk and honey.

Turn dough out onto the table and form a flat disk. Cut out biscuits using a biscuit cutter or hand form small circles. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375F for about 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool slightly.

For strawberry shortcake, split in half and top with sliced strawberries and vanilla Greek yogurt.