Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dinner: Turkish Lamb Stew with Green Beans

As we were making this meal for dinner recently, I asked Mr.C "Have I put this recipe on the blog yet?" We looked at each other puzzlingly and came to the consensus that I don't think we did! I discovered that I did mention it here but that certainly doesn't do it justice!

 This recipe is so flexible, simple and yet delicious! The previous few times we've made it using bison steaks, but this time we bought a beef roast & cut it up. The long stewing time called for in the recipe can be cut down if you're using a better cut of meat, but I would suggest at least half an hour regardless of what cut of meat you've chosen.

Now that I think of it, this might even work in a slow cooker!

I like to up the amount of green beans and use stewed tomatoes that I canned in the fall. This time we had it with jasmine rice (we're trying to clean out the cupboards!) but we've made this dish with quinoa as well. The yogurt is optional, but it does add a whole other dimension to the dish.

I found this recipe at theKitchn awhile ago, but it's a keeper for sure. Give it a try & let me know what you think!

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I use coconut)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound lamb stew meat (you can also use beef stew cuts like chuck)
2 cups chopped green beans
3 small tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup Greek yogurt

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cut lamb into slightly larger than bite size pieces and trim excess fat. Add lamb to onions, season with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides, stirring and turning pieces as necessary.

Cover pot, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes. Add green beans and cook for an additional hour. Add tomatoes and cook 20 minutes more. Lamb should be tender, not tough, when pierced with a fork.

Serve hot over rice with a spoonful (or several, if you're Turkish) of yogurt on top.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bitlet's For You This Past Week: May 21st - 27th, 2012

It's been a busy week at our house- holy moly! Mr.C's grandma came in from 8 hours out of town and stayed with us on Tuesday & Wednesday. Thursday was a totally insane day at work for me, then Friday through Sunday Mr.C's mom & step-dad came from even further out of town for a visit! Thus this week's compilation isn't earth shattering, but I always have at least a couple of 'bitlets' for you! How was your week?

Homemade maraschino cherries: Do I dare?

All the great benefits of almonds! 

We're printing off these guidelines and keeping them on the fridge for reference. I suspect many more sally-ann trips are in our future!

Everyone could use a little help getting more kale into their lives!

Fact: Organic produce does taste better! (it's really just their healthy immune systems fighting off invaders!)

I can't believe that May is nearly over in just a few more short days! Every May is Celiac Awareness month, which generally draws attention to the disease. More and more people are asking questions and wondering if taking grains out of their diet might be something they wish to try out. While I fully support people who wish to make this move in their diets, I cannot stress enough that if you suspect that you may have Celiac Disease see your doctor before you stop eating gluten. If you do have Celiac disease, it may not show up on your test results after you have cut it out of your life. Nobody likes going to the doctor, but this is certainly one of those times that I would encourage you to do so before you take action. Because I didn't, I may never know whether I do in fact have celiac disease (and I'll always wonder!).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix Review

There are oh so many gluten free mixes on the market for everything from pancakes to biscuits to pizza. I've spent the last few months year laboriously going through the numerous pizza crust mixes. Here are the contenders:

Arrowhead Mills

texture: 4/5
taste: 4/5
color: 5/5
ease of preparation: 4/5
overall: 4/5

Despite the use of yeast in this dough, it is certainly a gluten free crust for thin crust lovers. Which, it seems is not the majority of us when we can't have a traditional chewy crust. I suppose you always want what you can't have, right?

* Good marks for not getting soggy even though we put fresh tomatoes on it when baking.
* Don't need to pre-bake the crust.

Toppings: tomato sauce, balsamic onions, fresh basil, goat cheese, fresh tomato slices, black olives
pizza 2: pesto/daiya mozza / tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, daiya mozza, fresh basil

Namaste Foods: 

texture: 3/5
taste: 4/5
color: 4/5
ease of preparation: 4/5
overall: 3.5/5

This mix didn't have a yeast packet do deal with which was nice & also had a sprinkling of herbs in the dry ingredients, which was a welcome surprise. I always add in a variety of Italian herbs when I make pizza from scratch as we do enjoy it.

This crust was... crispy. We're talkin Rice Crispies crispy. Kind of strange & unexpected. Kind of like these actually. I hate to say, but we wouldn't buy it again.

Square pizza toppings: pizza sauce, black olives, fresh tomato, daiya pepperjack, artichoke hearts, fresh mushrooms
Round pizza toppings: basil paste, smoked salmon, sundried tomatoes, black olives, capers, artichoke hearts, goats gouda.


texture: 4.5/5
taste: 5/5
color: 5/5
ease of preparation: 5/5
overall: 5/5

This is a crust mix fit for someone who doesn't love thin crust. I was always a sucker for Chicago Deep dish pizza, and this one comes closer than any I've had in the last few years (you can make it a thin crust with a larger pizza pan though). It wasn't heavy and didn't get soggy! I haven't been terribly impressed with any of the other products I've had from this company, but this one's a winner for sure.

Being yeast free, this crust took only a handful of minutes (less time than the oven took to preheat) to mix up, which is definitely a bonus in my books. Less than 20 minutes to bake (plus a few to broil the toppings) what more could one ask for? Okay, maybe a bit more healthful as the main ingredient is rice flour. But really, who's looking for anything healthy in their pizza? Toppings: green pepper, pizza sauce, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, proscuitto, mozzarella & cheddar Daiya. 

Bob's Red Mill: 

texture: 5/5
taste: 5/5
color: 5/5
ease of preparation: 3/5
overall: 5/5

"If you told me that this pizza crust was fake I wouldn't believe you." -Mr.C

And I said "Fake?"

It's that good. But I had my doubts when I was pressing the crust into the pans. It was whole-grainy, and sticky and generally a pain in my butt. I wasn't optimistic, but at the same time there was a glimmer of hope in the back of my mind because I know that Bob's makes good stuff. Compared to the other two brands of mixes we had in the house at the time, this one required the least amount of time for yeast rising, and baking. But it was worth it. Especially since I was at yoga while the crusts were magically being prepared!

Round pizza: goat cheese base topped with veggies (zucchini, red onion, mushrooms, yellow pepper) sauteed in olive oil with cumin, chili powder & a bit of salt along with a teeny bit of cheddar Daiya.

Rectangle pizza: pizza sauce, black olives, capers, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, cheddar Daiya & fresh tomato.


texture: 5/5
taste: 5/5
color: 5/5
ease of preparation: 3/5
overall: 4.5/5

The prep on this pizza was a sticky mess just like the last one. It didn't leave me doubting this time, just frustrated. Rather than fighting with trying to smooth out a second crust, I threw the second half of the dough into a muffin tin in globs. After the dough had time to rise, I topped said globs with a bit of pasta sauce & some cheddar daiya & put them in beside the pizza. A tasty little appetizer!

I had a heck of a time getting the crust off of my "non-stick" pizza pan as you can see. Clearly not enough oil went down on the pan before the crust did. 

Now this was totally a "clean out the fridge" pizza. Goat cheese, fresh picked basil, roasted red peppers, pasta sauce, cheddar daiya, sundried tomatoes, green & red pepper, mushrooms, black olives, artichoke hearts, capers, fresh tomato, plus we added Italian seasoning to the dough... man was it good! And as promised, chewy too!


texture: 0/5
taste: 3/5
color: 2/5
ease of preparation: 5/5
overall: 2/5

The texture of this "crust" isn't pizza-like at all. Definitely more reminiscent of a crumbly biscuit, or cornbread maybe. Much like one would expect from Bisquick I suppose... I suggest to them that they take this recipe off of the box, it's not pizza.

As far as taste is concerned, well, it tastes like a biscuit. Again not like pizza at all, but it doesn't taste bad. There was a bit of browning in the oven, but in general the coloring is pale.

This item isn't something that I have found in Canada to date, I purchased it in Hawaii on our last trip to the U.S. I can't forsee myself purchasing it ever again.

Toppings: olive oil, fresh basil leaves, capers, sliced black olives, smoked salmon, goat cheese.

Gluten Free Pantry:

texture: 4/5
taste: 4/5
color: 5/5
ease of preparation: 4/5
overall: 4/5

The instructions for making this mix into a pizza crust weren't terribly clear on the back of the box, so we did the best we could. I let the dough rise for 40 minutes, then scooped it out onto the pizza pan & baked for 15. I probably should have divvied the dough into two pizzas, but went for one monstrous, reminscent of deep-dish pizza instead. It was light & fluffy as you would expect from French Bread (the alternate use for this mix) but didn't quite have the same chewiness that a deep dish pizza does. This is certainly the closest I've had since going gluten free.

The pizza dough recipe we have at work (not gluten free) calls for flour that has a higher than normal level of gluten in it, so I suspect this is the "secret ingredient" in the chewy pizza crusts I used to love. Dammit.

Toppings: pureed fresh salsa, sliced black olives, diced green pepper, sliced fresh crimini mushrooms, hungarian salami, daiya mozzarella.

Highwood Crossing:

A picture is worth a thousand words... 

And those words are "I wouldn't buy this one again..."

On two different pans (one stainless steel, one non-stick) this pizza stuck like glue. The stainless steel pan that I slathered the olive oil onto (after seeing what happened with the non-stick pan -which I did spray) wasn't as bad, but still stuck.

texture: 3/5
taste: 2/5
color: 4/5
ease of preparation: 2/5
overall: 2/5

I don't even know what else to tell you about this one... just don't buy it.

Toppings: sweet basil marinara, deli cured black forest ham, fresh pineapple, black olives. 

Purely Bulk:

texture: 4/5
taste: 4.5/5
color: 5/5
ease of preparation: 5/5
overall: 4.5/5

This is definitely a thin crust pizza mix. The batter (not dough...) was very thin, much like pancake mix. It spread out on the baking sheet just as a pancake would have. If the liquid was reduced the crust may be thicker, but this is how it turned out according to the package directions. 

The majority of the crust was almost chewy like a thicker traditional pizza crust may be, but the outer edge (sans toppings) was crunchy almost like a cracker. I would suggest topping this pizza crust right to the edge. Because the batter spread so much there was no way to form this part of the crust anyways, so it was the same height as the rest of the pie.

The directions required eggs and milk in addition to the mix contained in the bag. We used unsweetened original almond breeze in our crust mix. Also worth noting is that there's three 12" pizzas worth of mix in the bag! All in all, this is one of the better ones, for sure! We would buy this one again.

Toppings: Roasted garlic pasta sauce, green pepper, dry pepperoni (lots of oil on the pan after baking) & goat's mozzarella.

Heartland Gourmet:

texture: 2.5/5
taste: 2.5/5
color: 3.5/5
ease of preparation: 4/5
overall: 2.5/5

This crust is very focaccia bread-like in appearance. Moreso in looks than taste though, and sort of like a biscuit (much better than the bisquick though!). It doesn't have the gluten-y appeal that a "good" deep dish pizza does (in my opinion) but it's not bad. The directions indicated that we could either make 2 thin crust pizzas, or 1 thick crust- we chose the latter.

I've begun to notice that the mixes that contain herbs in them seem to be attempting to make up for a general lack of flavor within the mix. I think that one that called for some salt or butter would perhaps fare better taste wise. Despite the herbs, this crust didn't taste like much. I put jam on my crusts and ate them for dessert. Try not to judge me...

As this was a mix that involved yeast, there was a total of one hour of rise time, but the preparation wasn't difficult per se. Overall I don't think we would buy this brand again. Pizza crust isn't meant to be biscuity, biscuits are.

Toppings: cooked crumbled "Juliet" sweet italian chicken sausage, sauteed red onion, black olives, sundried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, goat's feta & mozzarella daiya.

So there you have it folks! A years worth of pizza at our house, dissected & scrutinized. Tell me about your favorite way to rock gluten free pizza in the comments below!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strawberries & Chocolate- What I Ate Wednesday: May 16, 2012

Happy WIAW friends! It's been beautiful, warm & sunny way up here in Prince George, which has led to some awesome outdoor eating around here... Did I mention we bought a watermelon at the grocery store the other day? (You have NO idea how exciting that is for me!) Here's some tasty meals that made their way into my belly lately!

A scoop of Progressive Chocolate Protein Powder blended with 100 grams of frozen strawberries from the farmers market last year, 1/2 cup of original almond milk & 1/4 cup of water makes a great breakfast or snack (or dessert!)

Homemade applesauce topped with organic vanilla yogurt & a sprinkle of cinnamon while watering our tiny tomato plants! I took this to work this weekend with some pecans & golden raisins in a mason jar for breakfast- SO good!

Huevos Rancheros (almost!) Corn tortillas with melted jalapeno jack cheese (quesadilla style!) topped with 2 scrambled eggs & diced fresh tomato. Yummm....

Mixed greens with slivered almonds, yellow pepper, radishes & sweet peas topped off with somma this! Oh, and steak off of our charcoal grill too :)

Tell me about your eats this week! OR check out some more WIAW's here!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bitlet's For You This Past Week: April 30th- May 06th, 2012

A little late this week... forgive me?

These crackers look tasty!

Cauliflower pizza crust? Adventurous!

Not every recipe on a food blog is a success. And that's okay! This my friends, is how we learn.

Would you eat sushi made by a robot?

More truth on soy.

May 1-15th is Fair Trade Fortnight. Check it out!

Yoga changes lives- watch this!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dinner: Salmon with Kumquats

Through part of my childhood, my father worked at a distribution warehouse for a chain of grocery stores in western Canada. Sometimes he would come home with interesting things such as stickers off of exotic sounding fruit like lychee, granadilla or dragon fruit. Occasionally we would be surprised with something even better. Something that was not for my sticker book, but for us to eat! I can recall an untrusting feeling as though I was being tricked into an unpleasant experience when he told me to just pop a whole kumquat in my mouth rather than cautiously tasting it first. This is however, exactly how one should eat a kumquat.

We bought a container of organic kumquats from Choices while we were in Vancouver last week. While we enjoyed them while we were away some of them made their way home with us. Puttering around the kitchen a few days after returning home trying to figure out what to put on the salmon filets I had defrosted for dinner, my searches for a lemon led me to our small stash of kumquats.

I've never been one to enjoy any sort of plain-jane fish. Maybe the Costco sized container of lemon pepper seasoning my mom kept in the kitchen while we were growing up might have had something to do with it. But this meal is just that- with a twist. A simple sprinkle of sea salt & black pepper, a dusting of dried dill... and citrus. Because a kumquat is best enjoyed whole (skin & all!) using them like this is ideal. I feel that most diners would remove their slices of lemon from a traditionally prepared fish before indulging, but kumquats can be consumed within a bite of perfectly cooked salmon.

Serves 2

2 wild pink salmon filets
sprinkle of dill
sea salt & pepper to taste
4 organic kumquats

Preheat your oven to 350F.
Sprinkle the salmon filets lightly with sea salt, pepper & dill and place them skin side down on an oiled baking sheet.
Bake for 7 minutes or so before checking for doneness. Continue baking if a deeper color remains in the middle of the filet.
Serve with wakame brown rice pasta and green beans if you wish.

Swing by The Tasty Alternative for lots more allergy free recipes!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday (Gluten Free In Vancouver!): May 02nd, 2012

Yesterday we embarked on our travels home from a few days in Vancouver back to Prince George. For breakfast yesterday we used up as much of what we could from what had collected in the kitchenette of our hotel room. Over the course of our 5 day mini-vacation we ate:

Bob's Red Mill GF pancakes, Liberte organic vanilla yogurt, organic kumquats, toast, tea, grapefruit, an orange that fooled us all into thinking it was a grapefruit, spinach salad, green beans, market fresh mussels, one rogue clam, Mexican, gf tiramisu, gf carrot cake, gf pecan squares, apples, carrot juice, more carrot juice, Thai green curry pork, hummus, gf brownie, eggs in a Glutino Genius nest, baby salad greens, fresh lemongrass vinaigrette, almonds, chicken breasts, fudge, grapefruit ganache, cherry tomatoes, cucumber....

That's a lot of groceries that weren't meals eaten out (ok, maybe some of them were)! Kitchenette is the way to go, I'm tellin' ya! The "Continental Breakfast" is useless to someone who can't eat gluten... Okay, except for the peanut butter packets.

 Stuff like this is such a novelty when it's not available at home!

 Stackhouse prime rib patty, guiness cheddar, tomato, butter lettuce, pancetta, portabello mushroom & chipotle aioli with mesculin greens.

Edible Canada steelhead salmon 'fish & chips', duck fat frites & asian coleslaw.

The teeny tiniest mussel I've ever seen!

We didn't make it to nearly as many gf friendly locations as I would have like to have, but I'll be going back in a few short months and will be targeting The Wallflower Diner, My Goodness Gluten Free Kitchen, Rocky Mountain Flatbread & Gluten Free Epicurean as suggested by Gluten Free Vancouver.