Thursday, March 28, 2013

Are you ready for Easter?

It that time of year again, the weather is getting warmer, the blossoms are emerging - at least here on the West Coast...
In a few days the Easter bunny will arrive - so if you are looking for a fun, easy project, this one is a snap and lots of fun to do with kids!

Click HERE to view this simple fun Easter project.

How to decorate an Easter HERE HERE

Click HERE for a fantastic menu for Green Thursday (today) and HERE for a delicious Buffet dinner for Good Friday.

Need some inspiration for an Easter Table Setting? Click HERE.

And click HERE for a beautiful Easter Sunday Brunch Menu.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Who's Your Valentine?

On this Valentine's Day...

I am celebrating with my very own Valentine, the love of my life for 27 years and the man I said "I do" to on one  beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon in September of 1990.

Our special Valentine's date won't take place until this coming weekend. Having both worked in the restaurant industry for many, many years and having stood witness on countless February 14th evenings watching numerous love birds reaching across their prospective tables for two, whispering sweet nothings into each other's ears, we try and avoid THE actual day like the plague...

Don't get me wrong - I don't dislike the popular 'Hallmark Holiday' - by all means, I am the first to go out and buy cinnamon heart candies or a red foil wrapped Purdy's chocolate heart for my honey. You WILL find me in the card aisle perusing rows of red and white greetings, finding the perfect words that resonate, which I can share with my sweetheart over a glass of sparkling wine or Champagne.

We won't be spending our retirement money on a snazzy dinner at one of hundreds of fancy (and outrageously expensive) restaurants in Vancouver this weekend - no - we will go for a different kind of Valentine's Evening - a couple of drinks, a few appetizers and a show at the local movie theatre. I love any excuse to spend an evening with my Hubby - for a chance to get out and have a good uninterrupted chat over a cocktail, glass of wine or beer.

For those of you who are preparing a special Valentine's Dinner for your significant other - kudos - its a week-night and times can be busy. Maybe you are also waiting for the weekend to celebrate, or perhaps you skip the day altogether. Maybe you give gifts to your loved ones, either store bought or home made.

I wanted to share these 'Queen Of Hearts' Linzer cookies with you so that you can either indulge after your special meal, or maybe wrap them up as a special treat for someone else. These rich, European inspired cookies are cut into heart shapes and then filled with raspberry jam and dusted with icing sugar...Yummy!

Whatever your plans are for Valentine's Day, make it a lovely, loving, love bug kind of day!

Queen Of Hearts Linzer Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup organic or unrefined sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups ground pecans
2 cups unbleached flour

Powdered sugar for dusting
About 1/4 cup raspberry jam

In large bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy; beat in vanilla. Gradually add pecans and flour, blending thoroughly. cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until easy to handle (1-2 hours) or for up to 3 days.

On a floured board, roll out the dough to a 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out with a 2" heart shaped cookie cutter and transfer to a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet, spacing about 1" apart. Cut a hole in centre of half of the cookies, using a tiny heart shape or round cookie cutter (1/2" in diameter).
Bake in a 350F oven for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to racks and let cool completely.

Sift powdered sugar over tops of cookies with holes; then spread bottom sides of cookies with jam. Place sugar topped cookie on each jam half to form a sandwich. Store in airtight container - can also be frozen.
Makes about 3 dozen.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ode to Gluten!!

So I have been paying my dues this past week, since indulging in all things Wheat and Gluten over the Christmas Holidays: cookies, bars, cakes; those cute little Hors D' Oeuvres that you know always contain some sort of wheat gluten, Chinese Take-Out, especially all of those flour-coated, deep fried nuggets like sweet and sour pork balls and shredded ginger beef - I even had to have the Fortune Cookies, yup - I know. I ate buttery, flaky croissants for breakfast and fully loaded Pizza for lunch. Not to mention all of the sugar content - wine and beer and spirits - Oh my!! I feel like I need a full body transplant...

Because I have Fibromyalgia, I have to be careful with anything that causes inflammation, or I go into a full fledged flare. I am usually pretty good and carry a strict rule about staying away from my trigger foods. But this Christmas, for some reason, I revisited my somewhat rebellious teen years and just went for it. Ok my friends, now my disregard of simply 'staying away' from junk has sent my hips, shoulders and back into a frenzy and are screaming at me to go back on my diet.

I am considering starting a cleanse tomorrow to help purge all things gluten once and for all...maybe I should just stop eating altogether...? Note to self: this destructive behaviour has sent you back to square one...but trying to still be kind to myself I remind myself that I can once again be 'good' and get back into that healthful state and be Fibro Symptom Free...

On a positive note, today I visited my friend Jeanine's (The Baking Beauties) web-site to ponder a good recipe for Gluten Free bread, thinking I can at least enjoy a slice toasted tomorrow morning loaded with coconut oil and home made wild blackberry jam - its a start anyway.

I must tell you, I have been a sceptic - not about Jeanine's recipes, but of Gluten Free bread itself - you know the kind you buy for $8 a loaf at the grocery store? I buy all of my bread from an organic bakery and stick with the varieties that are not made with wheat - such as Kamut, Quinoa and Spelt breads. I love these dense, pumpernickel style breads eaten the European way with butter and deli meat or a thick slab of goat or sheep's Gouda. But I admit, I do crave that fluffy light sandwich bread fresh from the oven with some butter and jam. So I perused Jeanine's site and decided to make the Gluten Free Sandwich Bread she had listed under her 'breads' recipe section.

Remember I said I was a sceptic...? Well the ingredients were a cinch to assemble and once I got the loaf into the oven to bake, the whole house was soon filled with the sweet aroma of yeast bread and 40 minutes later I was indulging  in a little slice of heaven!

Jeanine's recipe calls for brown rice flour, tapioca and potato starch and flax meal. I added millet, chia seeds and sesame seeds to increase the fiber content. It rose a good amount (although I should have used a smaller loaf pan - next time) the outer crust is crusty - and the inside fabulously fluffy! My goodness I am in a bread stupor! Thank you so much for your amazing recipe Jeanine! All of Jeanine's fabulous GF recipes can be found HERE.

So I bid thee goodbye Oh evil gluten, I will NOT miss thee now or tomorrow or the next day...I have found my new vice!