“That’s a valiant flea that dares eat his breakfast on the lip of a lion.” – William Shakespeare

I’ve been busy, boy have I ever been busy, as such I haven’t been cooking as much as I’ve wanted to. That also means I haven’t been blogging at all, really. My back took me out of commission for several months and I lost motivation to do a lot of things. However, after several months of chiropractor trips twice a week, I am slowly getting back into the swing of things.

Cooking has always been a passion and a bit of a mental vacation for me and in that sense I haven’t been taking enough trips lately. I have taken a few and I’ll be sharing them over the next few days, hopefully, and then will be trying out some new ones to impart.

This was a recipe that I made for Johnathan & Holly Gregorash’s wedding shower and was a big enough hit that I was immediately, and politely, hounded for the recipe. I kept saying I would post it on here and send the link and time kept slipping away, with work and self-pity about my back I didn’t have the Get Up And Go to pull it together. Now I do!

 

Breakfast Casserole

 

Das Zutaten (ingredients)

  • 8-12 eggs (depending on number partaking)
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 6-8 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 coloured pepper (I use red purely for esthetics)
  • enough strips of chicken bacon to layer across the bottom
  • whichever herbs and spices you like to season your eggs with (I use sea salt & garlic with a bit of dill and cracked black pepper
  • 2 generous handfuls of Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
  • 2-3 slices of sourdough bread cubed.
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • coconut oil

Bring a pan up to medium heat, toss in a bit of coconut oil and allow it to melt and add in your onions to get some colour. Once the onions have cooked a bit, the mushrooms go in until everything is a nice golden. Meanwhile bring the oven to 375 degrees and, on a baking sheet, lay out the cubed sourdough with a drizzle of olive oil and bake until crisp (roughly 5-7 minutes.) While the bread is in the oven you may want to put the chicken bacon on a pan and bake it as well. It will take longer than your newly formed croutons but that gives you a reason to keep the oven on until your casserole goes in. Your veggies should be done by now so you can set them aside and either leave them in the pan off the heat or place them in a bowl.

The egg bit is rather straight forward, crack the lot of them into a large bowl, add just a titch of water and your seasoning and whisk it away to the ideal mixture, then add the pan-fried veggies and cheese and mix further. Flash back to the chicken bacon that is now just about perfect, take it out and layer the bottom of your dish of choice. Pour your egg mixture over the bacon and sprinkle on the sourdough croutons, add any last-minute garnish you deem worthy of breakfast (occasionally, green onions make the grade.) Then it is into the oven for roughly 30 minutes or until the egg is cooked through.

This is a great dish to make at the beginning of the week so you can fry (or microwave) a few pieces for breakfast without all that early morning prep time. It’s also a good option for pot lucks.

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“Not to sound too much like Christopher Guest in ‘Waiting for Guffman,’ but on Thanksgiving you’re putting on a show!” – Ted Allen

I’ve been away for a while, working on two other sites which took my spare time away from my own. But just because I’ve been away from the keyboard doesn’t mean I’ve been out of the kitchen. This past weekend, Thanksgiving, I created a dish, somewhat by fluke, that has become a side dish staple.

We cooked our turkey two days in advance and were having people over for dinner on Friday night (you guessed it, our T-Day was Sunday), but since I have so many food issues I couldn’t eat what was being served. So I started to make a mini turkey dinner for myself, which meant I needed some veggies. Rather than dirty several pots, I put the potatoes in the bottom and tossed a veggie steamer on top for the carrots. Originally my plan was to do up a batch of Make Ahead Potatoes, but the carrots gave me a better idea.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 small to medium sized potatoes (peel to preference)
  • 3-4 good sized carrots peeled
  • curry (to preference)
  • Daiya Dairy Free Cheese
  • Tofutti Sour Cream
  • margarine

I made this twice over the weekend, once with steamed carrots, the second time was done with carrots that were sliced into dollars and cooked in a pot all their own. Both worked quite well, the steamed, of course, mashed better and the dollars kept their form. How you cook the carrots depends on whether you want to have a completely smooth consistency or a more chunked, rustic, feel. I do prefer the latter and, as such, leave the skin on the potato and mash rather than use a hand mixer.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll give the recipe with dollared carrots and then, if you’d rather, all you need to do is steam the carrots and use a hand mixer to marry it all together before tossing it in the oven.

Peel the carrots, halve or quarter the potato according to size and slice the carrots into dollars. toss both in separate pots to cook. Once the veggies are done, put in a large bowl, add in some margarine to make the mashing easier and have at it. After you get a good mash on the potatoes and carrots, add a couple spoonfuls of the sour cream, your preferred amount of curry and a handful of the Daiya Cheese. When the mix is mashed to your desired consistency, transfer to an 8×8 pan, flatten it out, layer on some more Daiya, and put in the oven @ 350 for 25-30 minutes.

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While it does LOOK like the Make Ahead Potatoes, it tastes completely different and an excellent addition to your dinner table.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa

First off, I want to thank everyone who came to visit me last night at my booth during Afterglow. I had many great conversations with the lot of you and it was great to be able to share what I know about living dairy free, and very encouraging to have so many people excited to try my recipes.

Those who attended last night’s event got a bit of a preview that you folks have not yet been privy to, a few days ago I made Panko Crusted Stuffed Meatballs and posted a picture on both Facebook and Twitter. That resulted in several people asking for the recipe and I decided to include it in those featured at my booth.

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Since some of you were geographically unable to attend, and others either couldn’t make it out or the rain killed their copy of the recipe, I’ve uploaded a PDF version of the pamphlet I handed out with all three recipes included. Simply click the link and you’ll have access to them in all their glory. Tony’s Recipes – Afterglow

I look forward to hearing feedback from those who give these recipes a go and, as always, if you’d like to send me an e-mail with pictures of your creation and a write up on what you did, I would love to post them on here. My goal for this blog is to replicate the atmosphere found when sitting with a group of friends in the kitchen, swapping recipes.

Happy Cooking!

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later. – Og Mandino

Back in action!

As I mentioned previously, the past few weeks have been incredibly hot and humid here, so I’ve had to stay away from the stove as much as possible. Otherwise I would have overheated the whole house, and I didn’t want to have to deal with that.

This meant I was very limited as to my choices, especially since take out isn’t an option. I decided to break out the slow cooker, which still kicks off a fair amount of heat but my system worked out quite well. The best way to beat the heat is to do all your prep, load the slow cooker, then find the coolest place in your house and plug it in. Since you don’t need to do much other than leave it be, and occasionally twisting a knob or two it doesn’t need to be on the kitchen. Keep it somewhere cool, and let the smell waft through your house.

We got a good rain storm, so I can use the stove again, but I wanted to pass on my personal favorite of the recipes I came up with.

Here’s What You Need

  • 1.5 lb ground poultry
  • 1 medium sized zucchini
  • 6-7 mushrooms
  • 1-2 scallions (depending on size)
  • 1 orange pepper
  • cayenne
  • sea salt & herbs
  • 1 pkg brown rice pasta (shape to preference)
  • 2-3 green onions
  • tomato sauce (2 cans)
  • Daiya Dairy Free Cheese

This can become a vegetarian dish very simply, just ditch the poultry & double up on the veg. =)

There is still some stove work required, but not much.

Put some olive oil in a pan big enough to cook all the poultry, and dice all the veggies. Set the green onion aside, and toss the rest in the pan once the meat starts to change colour. Season everything as you see fit (cayenne + sea salt & herbs, for me.) Keep it at a medium heat and let it all cook down, until the meat is browned slightly.

At the same time, bring a pot of water to a boil, put in a few drips of olive oil and the package of pasta.

When the ingredients in the pan finish cooking, put them in the slow cooker, and when the pasta is done, drain it and add that in too. At this point I added in a healthy amount of cheese and then mixed everything together with the tomato sauce. Topped it off with a layer of cheese, cranked the slow cooker to high and put it in the coolest place in your house for 4-5 hours. Then toss on the green onions, and leave it for another hour or two.

Now is about the time to carry this amazing culinary pot pourri back to the kitchen and serve it up!

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I’m about as tired as my little one, so I’m calling this blog sufficiently entried!

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This Life Is What You Make It” – Marilyn Monroe

When I first kicked this blog back into gear I wasn’t sure what I wanted it to become. It was more or les a virtual recipe book that I could refer to as need be, then something happened. People start reading. Not just people I knew either, I’ve met quite a few people since I started. In doing so, the main idea for my blog took form.

I love cooking with friends and sharing recipes/ideas, as well as riffing on how to make them better. So I want to replicate that atmosphere in a blog, and apart from encouraging people to comment about how the process goes for them or suggestions for recipes to feature, it is somewhat out of my hands haha. Luckily I received an e-mail this week with Barbara Nolan‘s take on the Breakfast Pizza recipe I posted a few entries ago.

So, basically from here on out, if you try one of the recipes and want to share with everyone, and I hope you do, just shoot off an e-mail to biodomer@hotmail.com with pictures and any tweaks you made to the recipe and I’ll gear up a post and share it with everyone else.

Here We Go!

Starting with the tweaks to the recipe:
Bacon fried in a 12″ pan – I was actually considering changing this to chopped up Canadian bacon in the future.
6 eggs scrambled – I did this with milk but think I might leave the milk out next time.
Daiya Cheddar cheese – Cheddar is my personal favorite kind of cheese.
Black olives spread over half of the eggs
Red/Green peppers spread over the other half
Sea Salt and Garlic & Herbs sprinkled over all

Bake at 350° for 15 min.

She also posed this question – “I am thinking that the consistency of mine may have been different because of using the milk to scramble the eggs.  Did you use anything?” The answer is just a very little bit of water. I find it makes the egg a lot fluffier, which gives your eggs a great little pick me up.

Now for the photographic evidence, and I would like to go on record saying this looks leaps and bounds fancier than mine! Great job, Barbara =)

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I look forward to more e-mails from all of you.

Have a great one!

PS – If you send in your goods, you name the post too =P

Failure is success if we learn from it. – Malcolm Forbes

My mother always made the best Mac & Cheese growing up, and I would request it regularly. But when you develop both IBS and an intolerance to dairy, your diet gets tweaked ever so slightly.

I can no longer eat pasta, one of the joys of IBS is everyone reacts to it differently and the triggers are different for everyone. I have no problems with bread, or wheat, or flour, gluten is not my enemy. But for some reason Pasta just does not agree with me. So I just considered Mac & Cheese to be a write off. I figured I had eaten my last one long ago and didn’t even savour it because I had no idea it was my last hurrah.

Over time I found some pasta alternatives, there’s brown rice pasta, corn pasta, rice vermicelli, udon noodles, and one made of bean sprouts and peas that is white raw, but cooks clear. When you’re not warned about something like that it can catch you off guard pretty quick!

Finding an alternative to run of the mill pasta was easy, as the first one I tried didn’t taste like cardboard. I wasn’t so lucky with an alternative to cheese.

I tried many different types of dairy free cheese and none of them tasted anywhere close, some claimed they “melted” but they didn’t. They ended up with a film over top and just molten particle board tasting lava underneath. I had almost given up, I thought I had tried them all, with no success, but then I noticed Daiya for the first time as I passed by it in the deli. It wasn’t with the other dairy free or vegan cheeses, but around the corner with the “normal” cheese, so I hadn’t paid it much attention. I saw those magic “Dairy Free” words, and tossed it in the cart. When I got home I also noticed the claim that it “melts and stretches”, but took it with a grain of salt. Fast forward to a year or two later, and there is always at least two bags of the shredded in my fridge. It is the best alternative I have found, it DOES melt, it DOES stretch, & most of all IT TASTES LIKE CHEESE!

To me it’s a wonder product, it was a game changer for me, it was with this product that I realized being dairy free wasn’t all that horrible, there were work arounds and they tasted great.

It’s because of Daiya cheese that I’ve been able to make a lot of the recipes that are on this blog, including the one I’m about to share.

I’ve obviously had to tweak the recipe a bit as far as ingredients go, I’ve also added some stuff too because I can never leave well enough alone, this is Mac & Cheese 2.0

The zucchini is something that, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have in my fridge. However, the always fantastic Susie Jimenez sent out a battle cry to pick up a new vegetable, you normally wouldn’t cook with, and incorporate it into your night’s meal. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have figured out just how awesome zucchini is and how much it added to this recipe. I suggest you all give her a follow on Twitter, she’s got some great ideas!

Side Note: If you want to make this dish vegan, all you have to do is omit the bread crumbs and chicken, also use the vegan margarine that Becel has.

The Goods

  • 8×8 pan
  • 1 3/4 cups macaroni (brown rice pasta)
  • 2 tsp margarine (olive oil or vegan becel)
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • bread crumbs (omit for vegan)
  • Daiya Dairy Free Mozzarella or Cheddar style shreds
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 4-5 mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1-2 small chicken breasts (omit for vegan)
  • curry powder
  • sea salt & herbs

I tend to cook the chicken in the afternoon so that its cooked when I’m prepared to get everything else ready. Just very simply chop it up into chunks, season it lightly as you wish, over the dish in tinfoil and cook it at 350 for 30 minutes.

Put the pasta in a pot with some salt, water and a little bit of olive oil to keep it from clumping.

Slice up the onion, zucchini, and mushrooms and toss them in a frying pan with some olive oil and some Sea Salt & Herbs and once the veggies start to get some colour, toss in the chucks of chicken. Keep it at a low-medium temperature and let it cook, while keeping an eye on it, and get everything else ready.

In a small microwavable bowl, melt the margarine then, in a larger bowl, whisk it together with the flour, almond milk, salt, pepper, and curry. Now the curry is a recent addition, and we loved it! For those who aren’t familiar with it, you don’t need a lot of curry for big flavour, so be careful not to make it too spicy. We use a yellow curry and keep adding it in bit by bit to avoid a mishap.

The veggies and chicken will be done before your pasta, so feel free to transfer them from the stove to the 8×8 pan. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, rinse it off, and drain a second time. Then add it into the pan with your other goodies. This is where the cheese comes into play. I didn’t put an amount on the list of ingredients for the simple fact that it all comes down to preference, we like it quite cheesy. Put your desired amount of cheese and mix it all together, and pour in your liquid. After everything is in the pan, give it another mix to make sure everything is coated, sprinkle on a layer of bread crumbs and some more cheese and into the oven it goes @ 350 for 30 minutes. The cheese and bread crumbs crisp up and everything else cooks perfectly to the point where it all melts in your mouth.

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Once again, if you try this, please send me an e-mail with pictures and any revamps to the recipe you’ve made. My next entry will be Barbara‘s take on the Breakfast Pizza =)

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, I was watching Chuck’s Day Off on the Food Network and he was making this really yummy looking spinach dip. Going on about the different cheeses that go into it, and the beer base and I slowly started to check out mentally. A beer based spinach dip sounded great, but when you’re lactose intolerant and they talk about how great the flavors of the different cheeses are, and the boost that they give to the recipe, you just sort of lose interest. But for whatever reason I decided I was going to make it work with my ingredients, I was going to make it dairy free, and it was going to be excellent…I was right!

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Los Ingredientes

  • Round loaf of bread (I find Sourdough works best)
  • 1 bottle of beer (We swear by Stella) (here’s a list of Gluten Free Beer to use instead. Note that I have not tried these, but have friends who drink Redbridge)
  • 1 pkg Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds (amazing dairy free cheese, best I’ve found)
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 4-6 mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium sized onion
  • roughly 4 cups of chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sea Salt & Herbs

Before I get into this, I have to expand on the Sea Salt & Herbs as it can be found in almost every recipe I make. It’s a mixture of, you guessed it, sea salt & herbs that can be purchased at the Bridgewater Farm Market from Rumtopf Farm for $5 a bag. If you live in my general area I strongly suggest picking up a bag and trying it for yourself. I barely make a meal without it.

First thing’s first, put your cheese in a bowl with the 2 tablespoons of flour and mix to make sure its all coated so they don’t clump together and put it to the side.

Next, take a bread knife and cut the top inch or so off the top of the loaf of bread and, taking a paring knife, cut out the inside of the loaf, leaving about an inch the whole way around. Scoop out the bread from inside the loaf as you would a pumpkin when making a Jack-O-Lantern and chop them up into little cubes doing the same with the top you cut off earlier. Spread them out on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, along with salt & pepper over top and mix to make sure they are all coated. Make room for the newly formed bread bowl and put them all in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes. Afterwards, take your cubes and put them on a plate, or tray, or in a basket if you’d prefer but keep the bread bowl on the pan, you’ll need it again .

While all this is going on you can fry up the yellow pepper, mushroom, and onion in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and whichever spices you prefer. Keep it at a low heat, you won’t need them until after the spinach goes in with the beer & cheese.

In a pot, bring the beer to a very warm temperature without bringing it to a boil and add in the cheese. This will take longer with the dairy free cheese than normal cheese just because it’s a different consistency. Add in the Sea Salt & Herbs, or your go to seasoning, and with a wooden spoon keep mixing it slowly until it becomes completely melted, then comes the audience participation. Get the person who’s been standing there holding up the counter while you’ve been working to slowly add the spinach to the pot while you keep stirring.

Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for since I mentioned it, I know you have! The veggies you fried up earlier can now be added into the pot too! Once it’s all had a chance to get properly acquainted, take the contents and pour it into your bread bowl. Then it’s back into the oven for another 15 minutes, still at 350, and you can dig in and enjoy.

Remember, if you run out of the cubes, you can always start ripping the bowl apart!

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Be sure to check out the other recipes on the blog too, as all of them are dairy free! =)

PS – If you want to make this more of a meal, you can always fry up some ground chicken or turkey, or stick with the veggie theme and double up on the mushrooms. peppers, and onion. Zucchini is also a nice addition =)

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Considering I told everyone I would update with more fun stuff yesterday, I felt that today was a good day to do it. Not that I thought it would be a good laugh to get all your hopes up, but yesterday was my dad’s birthday and it was a jam packed day of running around and cooking.

In an effort not to forget things, I’m going to jump back to where my last post and move forward. That means you’ll have to read all about it before you find out the AWESOME gift I got for my dad. I mean, you could just scroll to the end, but then you’d be cheating yourself out of a good read now, wouldn’t you?

I had gotten up much earlier than my other cohorts, so I was chatting with Josh and Emily (@JoshLyonsPhotos & @Emily_Ellyn on Twitter) about food, and Josh’s band Fell on Deaf Ears (definitely suggest checking them out!)

Emily had posted a photo of some amazing cupcake on Facebook andwhen I shared it, Sara, my houseguest, commented that we should have cupcakes for breakfast, then she came upstairs. My brain immediately started working and within a few minutes I had a recipe MOSTLY figured out in my head. I told Sara that her wish was granted and we’d be making Breakfast Cupcakes.

The Good Stuff

  • asparagus, cooked (follow recipe below)
  • leftover Make Ahead Potato, or some sort of potato (hashbrowns, mashed, fried)
  • 7-8 eggs depending on how many other ingredients make it into the muffin tins
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 coloured pepper
  • 1-3 stalks of green onion
  • Daiya dairy free cheese
  • Sea Salt and Herbs

So, the asparagus (pronounced Ass-Par-Agus forevermore, due to Sam’s dad). I have a very simple method and it turns out consistently tasty. set the oven to 400, lay the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil being a bit more generous in coating the tip (adds awesome crunch) and sprinkle some sea salt and pepper. I prefer using a coarse grinder for both S & P as I find it kicks up the taste a bit. Then it’s just a simple 15 minutes in the oven and you are off to the races.

This is a fairly simple recipe and great for making while still half asleep or while the coffee you’re drinking works its way into your blood stream.

the onion and peppers get a quick fry in a pan with some olive oil. Leave the green onions aside as they have more flavour going in raw.

The potato goes into the muffin tin first, to cover maybe 1/4 of the tin. Once again, the Make Ahead potatoes from the previous post work splendidly as a base and depending on the size of the group you served with it initially.

cut the asparagus halfway up the stalk and stick it in the middle of the potato so the tip sticks out like a flagpole once everything is added into the tin. You may need to poke a hole in the potato and then fill it back in around the asparagus.

The eggs and fried veg mixture can be mixed together in a bowl and poured into the tins evenly. Then sprinkle the green onion and cheese over top of each one and it’s into the oven at 350 for about 20-30 minutes.

it should end up looking something like this:

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Sam missed out on the initial creation and consumption as she was working. Once we did the dishes, we took the leftovers to her, which means we each had three AND all the asparagus we had left over. good hearty breakfast.

The downside to missing a few days of blogging is the events in between photos becomes a bit blurry….OH! Nevermind, I remember.

I could delete the above sentence, but then you may feel less involved in the process, and we can’t have that.

Sara, B, and I decided to buy some outdoorsy stuff since we were already at Walmart (Sam works there). We got a football, dog frisbee (they were cheaper), and a bocce ball set. We spent the bulk of the day at the soccer field playing and getting burnt by the giant fiery orb in the sky, all in all a great afternoon.

We got back and it was back into the kitchen for me. Sara had never had poutine before so we had to rectify that. But, as usual, I couldn’t just make a normal poutine, I had to be difficult.

Back on the 30th I attended a Heritage Party that featured all things Canadian, including poutine. Being lactose intolerant, I made my own and enough for others to try, cooked it all, put it in a casserole dish, and covered it with foil. When we got there it was tossed in the fridge and then into the oven when we were ready to eat. What resulted was the recently dubbed Poutinserole.

I replicated it, and I think it’s a keeper.

The Inner Workings

  • Fries
  • Gravy
  • Daiya Dairy Free Cheese
  • Sea Salt & Herbs
  • Ingenuity

with a bit of olive oil in the pan, & the temp low-medium toss in your fries, and once they thaw, throw on the Sea Salt & Herbs. keep frying them until they get a bit crispy, or your desired fry texture. In a pot bring whatever gravy you’re using to temperature (I used a can of mushroom gravy, which was excellent). Combine the gravy and fries in a casserole dish and then mix in the cheese. Make sure everything is mixed well, then cover the dish with foil and, as per usual 350 for about 18-20 minutes. You’re not cooking anything, you’re basically making it more awesome.

I’m giving you fair warning, Poutinserole is not photogenic, but tastes excellent.

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Baking allows it to be cut into squares and, if you wish, you can add some more gravy drizzled over top.

Given that we did a lot of running and jumping and such we were quite hungry and the Poutinserole takes some doing. As such I had an appetizer in mind that doesn’t take too long to throw together, but tastes like a lot of work went into it.

The Essentials

  • Shrimp (cooked and deveined)
  • Sea Salt & Herbs
  • Margarine
  • Garlic or Garlic powder (Not Garlic salt)

In a pan, toss in some olive oil on low-medium and once that heats up a bit toss in your shrimp, and once those get comfortable, hit them with a healthy dose of Sea Salt & Herbs, and keep them going on a low-medium temp.

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While they’re in the pan, mix your margarine (or butter if you prefer) with either minced garlic or powder and melt it down, either in a small pot, or microwave (which we opted for). Once it’s liquid pour it over the shrimp and keep tossing it in the pan until they are completely coated.

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Once they get a good coat of garlic butter, plate them and enjoy. Make sure you also have a little bowl of plate for the tails.

The reason for keeping it at a low temp is that these lovelies are already cooked and you are basically heating them up and locking in the flavours you have added.

This is where there I take a bit of a break from cooking as there wasn’t much time, we did a whole lot of running around those few days. Not only that but Sara made us an excellent breakfast one morning and gave me time to get some work done.

You’ll have to ask her what all went into it, but it tasted so friggin’ good!

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What I do know is that the sourdough had some becel underneath a heaping spread of homemade strawberry freezer jam my mother had whipped up the day before.

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Should last us a few days 😉

During the time away from the kitchen we went to Peggy’s Cove

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I get my picture taken with this sign each and every time I go to Peggy’s Cove

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spent another day at the field playing with our new toys, Sam was able to come this time.

(No pictures available)

Sam had to go to work, and we three that remained were way to hot to cook so we went to Waves. We ordered Sweet Potato Fries and Chipotle Mayo to start and I got the same thing I get every time. Chicken Clubhouse without cheese or bacon.

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Waves has the best fries in town, and their sweet potato fries are no exception.

The following day the 4 of us were up early and off to Halifax, Sam and I played tour guide as we hit up the essential shops on Barrington. Renaissance (they sell Chucks), Rock Candy (Rock shop that I can never leave without buying something, Freak Lunchbox (candy store to end all candy stores), & Oddjects (wacky fun shop that can’t be explained unless you visit).

Dad’s birthday was yesterday and I KNEW I could find him something at Rock Candy. For a while, each gift giving event I would give him a Beatle’s CD, then I shot myself in the foot, gave him the gift of all gifts and presented him with the entire Beatles collection in stereo that they released a few years back. Ever since I try to find unique and inventive gifts, sometimes thinking very far outside of the box.

Normally any time you find something related to The Beatles and there are four of them, it’s very simply one for each member of the band. I found a set of four pint glasses with that exact motif, and it just didn’t do it for me. I thought it was too predictable and something I could have picked up anywhere with little to no effort and that, does not, a good gift make. One the other side of the store, under a Misfits alarm clock, I found THE gift. Again a set of four pint glasses, but instead of each being the face of one of the members, each was a different album cover. It was perfect, Beatles related, yet not something you could find anywhere, it was a treasure and would go splendidly with his Jimi Hendrix coffee mug.

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I also got him a M*A*S*H 4077th keychain, because we used to watch it together all the time when I was growing up.

Next we went to Oddjects and I found this black and white polka dot cookie jar that stood on four legs with green and orange leggings and little black boots/shoes with a tag reading $15. I couldn’t see a matching lid anywhere and assumed that was why it was cheaper. Now, my mother has a rather odd cake plate that this would compliment, it was originally given to her as a gag gift and she uses it proudly. As such, I knew the cookie jar was perfect. When I took it to the counter the lady told me it had a lid, I told her I must have missed it. When she went and got it for me, I knew why I missed the lid… It doesn’t match at all, it’s like two different people made the two halves….it’s AWESOME.

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Is this not the best cookie jar you have ever seen?!?!?!!

If you have a better one than this, please post a pic in the comments.

Dad loved the birthday gifts and mom loved the cookie jar and couldn’t stop laughing.

Yesterday was Dad’s birthday, we did it, we made it to yesterday!

We didn’t do much during the day, went downtown, talked to Marc, our tattoo artist. Sam, B, and I made an appointment for Monday (pics to come). Then we went to get donairs, Sam and I told B and Sara that they HAD to get a proper donair while they were here. In Vancouver we never could find one that tasted as good as they do here, with real donair sauce.

I can’t eat them anymore because of IBS and I’ve yet to try to make a Tony Friendly version, but I’m sure it will come.

When we got back from getting donairs I had to start making dinner. It can take a bit of time, but the result is well worth it.

I call them Loaded Chicken Burgers, and they are aptly named.

Components

  • chicken bacon, 7-8 strips diced
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 3/4 a good sized harder apple (not a mac), cubed
  •  3-4 stalks of green onion
  • 2 lbs extra lean ground chicken
  • Daiya dairy free cheese
  • several splashes of italian dressing
  • 2 eggs
  • stove top stuffing
  • cayenne
  • Sea Salt & Herbs
  • 5-6 mushrooms can also be added, we kept them out as Sara’s not a fan

You’ll need two pans for this one. Olive oil in both, low-medium temp, in one pan put the diced chicken bacon and cover the pan with foil. In the other add the onion, pepper, and apple (once again leaving out the green onion).

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Stir both occasionally and cook them down. You’ll be able to tell that both are done when the bacon starts to crisp (chicken bacon is already cooked when you get it) and the apples will still have a bit of crunch to them. The reason for that is the stove top stuffing will steal some of the juice from the burger, and the apple gives it back as it cooks down inside.

Mix the bacon with the veggies and set aside to cool down. In a good sized bowl, add the chicken and green onion, then toss in your veggies and bacon. Get right in there and knead it with your hands, have to make sure its blended well. Afterwards, put the cheese in, followed by the stove top, mix thoroughly, then add the Italian dressing and one egg. Knead again and form a patty freehand. If it looks like it may fall apart as it cooks, add the other egg. Providing it looks solid, don’t bother with the second egg. Sprinkle on the cayenne and Sea Salt & Herbs liberally as it has to reach its way through all the meat.

If you have a burger press, then that’s great and if not, simply eyeball them to the size you’d like.

I have a press and this made 20 1/4 pound burgers.

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Cooking method is up to you as well, it was a beautiful day so we BBQ’d. If the weather isn’t in your favor they fry up really well in a pan.

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That’s it folks, we have reached the end. I hope you all enjoyed our trip through the past couple of days in the kitchen and beyond. Let me know how you like the recipes.

In closing, This is the Sea Salt & Herbs I keep talking about.

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“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.” – Roger Ebert

*NOTE* – Both of these recipes have had additions/tweaks made to them and the additional info can be found Here!

normally I’ll go full tilt for one meal a day, and Saturday, that meal was Lasagna cupcakes and Make Ahead Potatoes. Neither are all that labor intensive and both taste awesome! I think I’ve stepped up my game a bit because I have friends staying with me from Vancouver and they’ve seen all the pictures I post with what I’ve cooked and now they get to try it, so I don’t want to miss any chances to impress.

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They are a cinch to make, and just so everyone felt involved we made an assembly line.

The Goods

  • 2-3 mini muffin tins (can also use regular muffin tins)
  • 24-30 Wonton Wrappers
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 pkg ground meat (we used chicken)
  • sauce of your choosing (we used Hunt’s mushroom & basil)
  • cheese (we used Daiya Dairy Free Mozzarella)
  • seasoning for meat, completely up to you

(To make these vegetarian, simply ditch the ground chicken and supplement veg of your choice. I have made them with zucchini, mushroom, peppers, and onion with excellent results.)

I’ll tell you right off the top, these babies are going in at 375, so turn your oven on when you think you should to be ready to cook. Put some olive oil in a pan and bring it to temperature. Add your ground meat and once it starts to break apart and get a little bit of colour add your onion and seasoning/spices. Cook on a low-medium heat for maximum flavor.

While it’s cooking get one of your houseguests/family/friends AKA prep cooks to put a wonton wrapper in each muffin tin. This is where you have a decision to make, you can either use a glass, cut circles out, and place them in the tins OR you can say screw that, and put in the entire wrapper, which is MUCH more fun!

By the time you’ve decided between circles or squares, your meat has probably finished cooking and now all you have to do is layer in the sauce, meat, and cheese.

Once again, we implemented the assembly line, meat, sauce, cheese, repeat. I will say, we didn’t heat the sauce, it went right from can to tin. It will cook during the 18-20 minutes spent in the oven, but it is your call.

The last decision you have to make for this dish comes between the first and second layer of meat,sauce,cheese, (when using the mini muffin tins) and that is whether you want to fold the corners back in and cover them with the mixture (Thanks to Josh Lyons for the suggestion, its a great one!) or leave them exposed to the elements (see what I did there?).

So these go in, as I said, @ 375 for 18-20 minutes, and come out looking like they do above.

Next on the docket is a little gem called Make Ahead Potatoes, reason being you can make it ahead of time and simply toss it in the oven before your meal. When I got IBS, I also managed to become lactose intolerant, which meant I couldn’t eat this one anymore, which SUCKED. But recently, I’ve found dairy free cream cheese, and sour cream and I was off to the races!

The original recipe is HUGE and feeds roughly all the players in the NFL, so I knocked it down a few pegs.

The Innards

  • 8×8 pan
  • 4-5 good sized potatoes, peeled and roughly cut
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 6 tbsp margarine
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • cheese for the top

This will be cooked @ 350 so, once again, preheat accordingly. Fry the onion and yellow pepper in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Boil the the potatoes, drain, and put in a large bowl. Put a little bit of margarine in with them and give them a rough mash, then switch to a hand held mixer, this will make the potatoes extra smooth. Mix in the other ingredients as they appear. Once the veggies have been added, transfer to your 8×8 pan. The potato WILL  go above the edge, that’s fine and half the fun. Just smooth out the top and generously apply a layer of cheese and that sucker is ready to go into the oven @ 350 for 40 minutes.

Let it be said that you can add any extras you would like to this dish, I think the next time we do it I’ll add chicken bacon for good measure.

These are the dairy free alternatives I used for this recipe:

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Making use of all of these still make it taste great and the three other people who were eating it said that they wouldn’t know that it was made with dairy free anything. This was the end result.

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If you want a bit more of a crust, you can leave it in a bit longer, or after the 40 minutes, switch it to broil. But be advised that if you choose the broil method, keep a VERY close eye on it as it can go from crust to crisp without notice.

That brings everyone up to date on the culinary goings on up until yesterday morning, but rather than bog one post down with a boatload of recipes and such. I’d hate for you to get too excited and try and lick/eat your screen.

To close this out, here is my step-kitten, Molly

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We’re like, in the end of “Die Hard” right now, only it’s our actual life! – Schmidt (21 Jump St)

To the answer the question you’ve all been asking, No, I haven’t forgotten about you. Not a day went by that I didn’t think “I wonder how those people who read about my life are getting on without me?” The answer to that query can be found below when you write a comment about how you’ve been doing since I skived off.

The past post was about a chicken cordon bleu roll-up, which was superb, but it was also eaten far too quickly to take pictures of. I switched out the ham that normally goes inside with fried onion and mushroom, and the pre-bread crumb dredge consisted of egg, almond milk, and dijon mustard. I’ll post the complete recipe in an hour or so when I get my computer back.

Two friends have come to visit from Vancouver for 2.5 weeks and since it is only 5:34AM Vancouver time, they are still asleep.

I obviously have some catching up to do, which means I’ll obviously miss some things and post them as I remember.

The Highlights:

It’s become far too hot for my morning coffee which saddens me, and I don’t always feel like making iced coffee so, I finally tried something that I’d been working on in my brainpan for a long while…I made coffee popsicles. But not just normal run of the mill popsicles because I knew it needed something sweet so they weren’t bitter. I took some popsicle moulds (I got mine at the dollar store) and poured a little bit of Hazelnut flavour syrup in the bottom, a little more than it takes to cover the bottom, and then filled the rest with coffee that I let cool down so it was warm, but not cold. The reason for this is I feel that once coffee gets completely cold, the taste changes and it can be rather unpleasant, so a little bit warmer than room temp is your goal, folks.

This was the result:

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I understand that coffee is not for everyone, and I also get where the coffee purists, snobs, are coming from as well with the mindset of “coffee should only be drank hot, and black!” That is all well and good, but in the dead heat of summer, I will take a coffee popsicle over a steaming cup of joe any day. I was even able to get my dad to try one and he really liked it, which surprised me because, other than milk, he doesn’t like much done to his coffee.

HERITAGE PARTY!

my good friend Ashton threw the First Annual Heritage Party on Saturday and I have to say, it was a lot of fun. We had a pot luck of Canadian dishes, and we had 5-6 people who were not from Canada so it was all new to them. Of course poutine was on the menu and, being lactose intolerant, I made my own version and brought it with me. It’s a very simple tweak on the normal recipe but at the same time quite different. (again, no picture, I’m sorry)

Rather than just bake the fries, I put some EVOO in my copper bottom frying pan and put it on low. Once it got up to temp, I threw in the fries and got them coated and let them cook for about five minutes, I then threw in my new culinary weapon…

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it’s great on everything, and it’s the perfect pick me up for fries without getting into prepackaged seasonings, not that there’s anything wrong with them, they just aren’t for me. I get this at the local farm market, and it is one of my culinary staples.

BACK TO POUTINE!

I kept the temp low and let the herbs imprint themselves on each and every fry, once they were about 5 minutes from being done, I went to work on the gravy. I didn’t make it from scratch, I used a can of heinz mushroom gravy, but I love the taste and a lot of people were very surprised it came from a can. Once again I used Daiya Dairy Free cheese and, since we live about 20 minutes away from Ashton’s, I mixed it all together in a casserole dish, covered it in tin foil and we were off. By sealing it all in, and reheating it later to eat, it became a poutine casserole and I got a lot of compliments on it.

When you’re a person with many dietary restrictions, it always feel good when people who have the option of eating “normally” and still choose your dish.

After the pot luck we all went into the barn where the screen was set up to get to the main reason we were all there, watching all 74 Heritage Minutes and having a Canadian Trivia night to prep for Canada Day, but also to prep those non-Canadians with the knowledge needed to make the transition. Important things like Great Big Sea, Stompin’ Tom, Alanis, Donairs and Dulce.

It was an excellent night and our team ALMOST won the much coveted Golden Inuk Shuk, hopefully the people will still know we were there.

Ok Emily, as promised, the recipe for Any Meal CasSurreal.

Yes, I had posted it before, but I’ve made several tweaks to it since then, and I believe I’ve got the best recipe/system for this beast. The reason it’s called the Any Meal CasSurreal is because it can be eaten at any meal because of the assortment of ingredients, and the bread that is on top, loses it’s “breadiness” through the egg wash and the cooking, kind of like french toast, which is where the surreal portion comes from. You want proof it can be eaten for any meal, you say? Fair enough, when I made it a few days ago, I realized around 10PM that I did, in fact, eat it for every meal.

You can put almost anything IN this dish, my staples are onion, green onion, mushroom, and a coloured pepper (normally red). The amounts also vary depending on how much variety you’d like your CasSurreal to have.

General rule of thumb is as follows:

8×8 pan

1/2 onion

1/2 pepper

3-4 mushrooms

1-2 stalks of green onion

This dish is also a good way to make use of last night’s leftovers. There was some chicken from supper that had been BBQ’d so I diced it up. I noticed it was kind of dry so I used science to rectify the situation. If mushrooms release a fair amount of liquid while cooking, and chicken tends to absorb the flavours of what it’s cooked with, then combining them in the pan should do the trick. I cooked the veggies at a low heat, onions and peppers first, and once I saw some colour on the onion, tossed in the chicken, let them mingle just enough for the chicken to take on some of the pepper’s red tinge and tossed in the mushrooms, mixed them all around and let them sit for a bit, letting it all cook down. The result was very moist chicken, and somewhere a Science teacher, who I told I’d never use anything he taught me, smiled to himself.

Once the veggies are all cooked place them in your 8×8 pan, now comes the egg and bread portion.

bowl

wax paper

8-9 eggs

4-5 slices of sourdough

small circular cookie cutter

sea salt and herbs

place a sheet of wax paper on the counter, big enough to rest 12-13 circles of sourdough and crack 7 eggs in your bowl. Add as much sea salt and herbs  as you wish to the eggs and beat the ever loving crap out of them. Once they are well mixed, start cutting circles out of your sourdough, the number of circles is entirely up to you. I tend to use 12 and place 3 rows of 4 across the top of the casserole, this makes it easier to cut as you can use the circles as indicators of portion size. For the sake of being artsy fartsy I used 13 today just to make a design, this is also completely acceptable as you’re the one you need to impress, I unfortunately can’t come over.

Once your sourdough is circled, take 3 at a time and place them in the bowl of egg and push them to the bottom, once they float back to the top, take them out of the bowl and place them on your wax paper.

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Now that they are all eggy and wonderful, pour the rest of your egg into the pan with your veg. This will ALMOST cover it, but not quite. Which is where the other two eggs you were wondering about come into play. Crack them into the bowl, whip ’em up, and toss them into the pan as well. Then it’s back to your handy dandy SS&H, henceforth this means Sea Salt & Herbs, it’s too long to keep typing haha. Sprinkle it across the top of the egg and veg, and them mix it all together so that it’s all laying somewhat evenly in the pan. Then comes the fun part, placing or tossing the bread circles on top o’ the feast.

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At some point during this burst of creative energy, you’ll want to set your oven to 350 degrees. I usually start getting mine to temp around the time I start dredging the bread. Now all you need to do is cheese your CasSurreal. As I mentioned before, I’m lactose intolerant, I use Daiya Dairy Free cheese which is soy, gluten, and dairy free and is tapioca based. It melts like cheese and tastes like cheese. It’s the only non dairy alternative that does cheese any justice. For those willing to give it a try, this is what you’re looking for.

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so what goes into the oven will look like this –

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and will come out looking like this –

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Hope you enjoy your Any Meal CasSurreal!

Let me know how yours turns out =)

in closing, I didn’t want a Grad Ring from NSCC, these are my Grad Chucks, designed by me. What better way to graduate from Business Admin – Marketing Concentration =P

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