Friday, 15 January 2016

PAPRIKA-GARLIC CHICKEN OVER SWEET KALE MIX


PAPRIKA-GARLIC CHICKEN BREAST ON A BED OF SWEET KALE SALAD MIX

Yah. You heard me:  Salad in a bag! And frozen chicken breast (organic)
This took absolutely no time to put together.  I swear. Gluten-free, paleo, delish.


Don't you just LOVE that Sweet Kale Salad Mix with that awesome dressing and cranberries and pumpkin seeds?  I could eat the salad everyday.  I worry though about how raw cruciferous veggies like the ones in the mix are goitrogenic.  For people like me who have Hashimoto's disease, I've read that we should avoid eating goitrogenic foods.  Since having half my thyroid removed (it was a size of a walnut); I've become sad finding that practically everything I ate before is something that might cause me to have another goiter. I do want to keep that left thyroid as healthy as possible.   So did you know that broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, strawberries, spinach and practically all the cruciferous veggies that composed the main part of my diet are goitrogenic?  Apparently if you eat them raw it's goitrogenic.  Aiya.  

Scroll down to the bottom for the recipe if you want to skip my long-winded explanation of why I have to not post a cake pic and recipe today. Heehee



Fortunately, and I'm going to just trust the articles I've read because I don't want to give up my fave veggies, and it's convenient to believe so...if you cook them, it reduces the goitrogens.  

So we arrive at today's lunch after my workout at Steve Nash Fitness.  Yah.  You heard right.  Since my shoulder impingement is starting to slowly defrost (frozen shoulder! Such an apt term!) I decided to join a gym.  I thought about just joining a yoga studio; but frankly, I love my kettlebells and want to start using them again.  For a whole year, this frozen shoulder has been a pain and I've been afraid to do weights and use my kettlebells.  I had injured it skiing I think.  Frankly, I don't remember it hurting that much when I fell; but the pain increased afterwards over the course of a few months to the point that I couldn't even change my clothes without extreme pain.  I used up all my physio and massage therapy and eventually went to UBC Sports Med to see a specialist.  He essentially told me there's not a whole lot you can do to hurry along a frozen shoulder.  He said eventually it will slowly defrost.  And it did.  But it took just over a year. He told me when it starts to defrost, I should start exercising and rehabilitating the shoulder.  

Lovin' Costco's Pre-washed Shredded Veggies in a bag for Juicing and Smoothies! This mix has: beet greens, carrots, kale, broccoli stems, chard...and all you add is fruit. I used a granny smith

With my gym membership I received 3 free sessions with a personal trainer; so this month with my left shoulder having increased mobility, I decided to start the journey back to health.  When I booked my 3 sessions, I was told he was the most educated trainer at the gym. I must have sounded like a difficult case! LOL! She told me that he's an ex pro-hockey player and is familiar with sports injuries too.  I was like "holy smokes! He's gonna kill me!"  What I found out later when I met him is that he is a kettlebell specialist (yay!) and is very well-rounded.  I'm feeling lucky here to have such a knowledgeable trainer *Hi Kyle!*  who is a rock star.   He's created an exercise plan for me to help build up strength in my wonky shoulder and get me back into shape from that whole year of pretty much not exercising much.   His plan includes self-myofascial release techniques using a foam roller and this really hard plastic ball.  When I'm doing the release techniques, it's like "OW"; but I know it's good for me.  

I know he's going to address my eating next session (yikes) but for me it's not about a lack of knowlege of how to eat healthy but the loss of my muse (desserts).  You know I love to take pics of my food...that's why you're here right?   And I love to bake. And baked goods ALWAYS look good in pics.  They don't move around. They ooze sexiness.  Now I've gotta make kale look sexy.  It's gonna be rough guys. Fortunately, I have willing colleagues that'll eat my baked goods so the baking probably won't end.  I just love cake...the idea of cake, the taste of layered cakes, and the perfect beauty of cake.  Believe it or not, I'm not tempted to eat baked goods, cake and other desserts, but potato chips are kind of my achilles heel.  If I just have a taste of cake, like one bite, it'll suffice for me. Sometimes I don't even taste things I make because they're for parties or other people; but I know how it tastes from how it looks.  If it looks like a sexy cake, it'll taste good.

This weekend I have to bake some cupcakes for my 8 yr old's birthday.  Twice.  Once for the party and once for the class.  So yes, I'll still have plenty of cake to take pics of in the near future. Until then, here's an easy-peasy chicken dish.  Next time I think I will have it without the guacamole.  It was good; but not necessary.  In fact cherry tomatoes with the kale would be a better choice next time.  



PAPRIKA-GARLIC CHICKEN BREAST OVER SWEET KALE SALAD (GF & Paleo)
1 organic skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 handfuls of Sweet Kale Salad Mix (from Costco) 
*NB you will NOT use the dressing or pumpkin seed/craisins mix
1/4 tsp Garlic powder
1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tsp Avocado oil
Optional: 1 tablespoon prepared guacamole or cherry tomatoes

1. Marinate the chicken breast with the salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder & avocado oil.  Set aside
2.  Heat a cast iron skillet until hot.  Place the chicken breast in the pan and cover with a loose lid or splatter screen.  Reduce heat to med.  Allow to cook for 4 minutes.  Flip the breast and cook the other side for another 4 minutes, loosely covered
3.  Remove chicken breast to a cutting board to rest.  
4.  Wipe the skillet with a paper towel. It's okay to leave some bits and oil in there.  Toss in the sweet kale salad mixture (just the veggies, not the packaged dressing or seeds and stuff).  Add a splash of water and sautee the veggies until slightly wilted.
5.  Remove the kale mix to a plate.  Slice the chicken breast and arrange on top of the kale.  NB:  if you like, you can add 1 tablespoon of prepared guacamole on the bed of kale like I did, just before you place the chicken on top OR sliced cherry tomatoes

Friday, 1 January 2016

Itty Bitty Lemon Meringue Tartlets!


Mini Lemon Meringue Tartlets
Pucker up! Mini Lemon Meringue Tartlets for the New Year!

Wishing you all a healthy, happy, delicious 2016 full of laughter and good times!

My 8 yr old asked Santa for a mini whisk!  And he came through!

From me, she received a new tartlet pan.  So she did a lot of stirring with the new whisk when we made the lemon curd for these little tarts.  She made the tart dough recipe on the back of the WS tartlet pan's box.  Then I made an easy food processor lemon curd recipe and an easy meringue


I did the piping because she's not too savvy with the piping bag as of yet.  Instead of a big swirl, I decided to make little poofs to cover the tartlets.  The result: billowy little meringue puffs atop creamy lemon curd that is seriously to-die for! It's perfectly balanced; not too tart and not too sweet and easy peasy.  I'll be making double-batches of this in the future and keeping it on hand for emergencies.  It's one of those lick-the-bowl when you're cleaning up kind of recipes.  

LEMON CURD
(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
  • 3 organic lemons
  • 1 1/2 Cups organic evaporated cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 Large free range eggs
  • 1/2 Cup lemon juice (3 to 4 organic lemons)
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  1. Zest 3 lemons with a zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
  2. Add the butter pieces to the processor and pulse in the sugar and lemon mixture. With the food processor running, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Continue mixing until combined.
  3. Press the entire mixture through a sieve into a 2 quart saucepan.  
  4. Cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.
  5. Makes 3 cups
TART CRUST
(Adapted from the back of the WS tartlet pan box)
  • 2 1/2 cups (390g) alll-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 16 Tbs (2 sticks/250g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) pieces
  • 6 to 8 Tbsp (90 to 125 ml) ice water

  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt and pulse to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the ixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the 6 Tbs (90ml) ice water and pulse twice.  The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky.  If it is crumbly, add more water, 1 tsp at a time, pulsing twice after each addition.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface an divide in half.  Shape each into a disk.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
  3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes.  Place 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll out 3/16 inch (4.5 mm) thick.  Using the cutter, cut out the tart shells, reserving scraps of dough to re-use.  Place the cutouts on a baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough disk.  Re-roll the scraps and make more cutouts.  If the dough becomes too soft to cut, refrigerate it for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Center a cutout over one of the wells in the baking pan and using the tamper, gently but firmly press the cutout into the well so that the sides of the tart shell come just above the pan.  Press a cutout into each of the remaining wells.  
  5. Dock the tart shells with a fork; line with a circle of parchment and load in some dried beans or pie weights.  Bake the tarts for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove to cool on a rack.  Allow tart pan to cool and complete the same process for all of the rest of the remaining dough until everything is baked off.  
  6. Place the pre-baked tart shells on a rimmed cookie sheet in preparation for filling or store in sealed container for use later.

MERINGUE:
4 organic large egg whites
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1.  In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on med speed until frothy.  Add the cream of tartar.  Turn up the speed to 8 (med-high speed) on a KitchenAid and continue beating
2.  Gradually add the sugar while the mixer is running; continuing to beat until stiff peaks form
3. The meringue should be very stiff.  Fill a pastry bag with the meringue with decorative tip of your choice.  
4.  Follow assembly instructions below

MINI LEMON MERINGUE TARTS ASSEMBLY:
1.  Preheat oven to 400F.  Arrange the pre-baked tart shells on a rimmed cookie sheet
2.  Pipe the lemon curd into the pre-baked tart shells
3.  Pipe the meringue onto the filled tarts.  
4.  Bake the tarts in the oven until the meringue is a golden brown, approximately 10 minutes.





Thursday, 24 December 2015

CONFETTI CORN FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER


Confetti Corn made better with Bacon!

Hey hey peeps! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Saute your chopped bacon, onion and peppers until soft

Here's a Christmas side dish that will save you some room on the hob on the day of. Plus, it's so delicious and you can make it ahead and keep it in the fridge until needed.

That's a whole brick of cream cheese.  It's Christmas...you're not eating the whole brick yourself, right?  

This delicious creamy corn dish is a make-ahead side that I'm preparing for Christmas dinner.  I'll reheat after my turkey comes out of the oven.

CHRISTMAS CONFETTI CORN WITH BACON
(Adapted from melskitchencafe.com)
  • 10 slices bacon, chopped (reserve some for sprinkling on top)
  • 2 14oz bags of Frozen corn kernels (I used 1/2 a package of Costco's peaches and cream frozen corn, approx 1.25 kg)
  • 1/2 Cup chopped onion, white, yellow or red
  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, light or regular, cubed (8 - ounce)
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup milk (or just enough to loosen the corn mixture)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 4 green onions, green parts finely chopped (reserve some for sprinkling on top)
  1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the chopped bacon until golden and crisp. Scoop the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and discard all the bacon grease except for a thin coating on the pan, maybe a teaspoon or so.
  2. Add the corn, onion, and red pepper, and cook over medium heat, stirring every so often, until the vegetables are tender and the corn is heated through, 6-8 minutes. Add the cream cheese and milk, stirring until the cream cheese melts and the mixture is evenly combined.
  3. Stir in the sugar, salt and pepper. Add more salt to taste if needed. Stir in the green onions.
  4. Serve warm topped with the reserved bacon, red peppers and chopped green onion
  5. This dish can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Scoop the creamy corn mixture into an oven-safe dish, sprinkle with the bacon and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, heat the corn dish in a 325 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until heated through.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A Very Merry Totoro Christmas to You!



I regret that for the majority of my life I had not watched the movie My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ) the 1988 Japanese animation written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and produced by Studio Ghibli.  Just last year my kids and I watched it at home and thereafter I was smitten.


My kids love all things Totoro (and I do too)!  The storyline of the mythical cat-like ginormous creature that befriends the children in the animation had us wanting more Totoro.  I've bought a few items for my kids and I have attempted to make Totoro baked goods (like everyone else on Instagram!)

The thing is, I am kind of cheapie when it comes to shelling out mucho $$ for a cookie cutter. Today I decided I was going to make my own cookie cutter using pliers and sheet metal. My hubby said no way; that his scraps from work are industrial and heavy gauge so I won't be able to bend it.  I thought of using a tin tuna can or a pop can but I don't have any pop in the house...just homemade kombucha!  So I just drew a totoro outline and cut it out on a scrap piece of paper.  Then I traced over the dough with a knife; cutting out the totoro shape.  

My Totoro Cookie consists of the following elements:  Black Sesame Butter Cookie body, Vanilla Butter cookie tummy, Matcha Butter Cookie leaf, Dark Chocolate fur and White Chocolate eyeballs.  Everything is natural in colour; coming from the different ingredients I used.  The cookie base I used was my trusty ol' Vanilla Butter Cookie dough and I just tossed in the natural flavourings: ground black sesame & matcha powder.
Unfortunately, the totoro cookies don't bake evenly because the ears stick out and are a little more brown than the rest of the body but that's okay. I actually like brown cookies because they're tastier--that's caramelization, folks!


The most difficult part of the totoro cookie decorating experience is those dang whiskers and fur chevrons.  I contemplated using a fine round tip for my piping bag. Then at the last minute I decided to do everything by hand and a toothpick.
This one turned out the best I think. He's a cutie! The matcha leaves melded onto the Totoro foreheads no problem as they baked.  I'll be giving away one Totoro Cookie away with each gift bag of cookies I'm making this year.  Each bag will consist of tiny round sparkly butter cookies in each flavour: Matcha, Black Sesame & Vanilla.  

I have plans for this Copper Snowflake cutter I recently bought on sale at WS.  It's resting on a log of my Vanilla Butter Cookies that are waiting to be cut and baked off.

I was pretty handy this Christmas and made everything by hand...even my Christmas Cards. This is my LawnFawn stamps & die cut set employed in my butter cookie packaging frenzy

The little penguin throwing a snowball at his deer friend is a so cute!

See those vanilla butter cookies? Those cookies are the base recipe that all my flavoured cookies evolve from: toss in flavourings and you will have delicious cookies in no time. Easy-Peasy Christmas Cookies!

Here is my trusty Vanilla Butter Cookie Recipe once again:

VANILLA BUTTER COOKIES
  • 1 Cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup organic evaporated cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups sifted all - purpose flour (or gf flour blend)
  • 3/4 tsp teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 Cup fine sanding sugar or extra organic evaporated cane sugar for rolling cookie logs
FLAVOUR VARIATIONS:  
MATCHA:  add 1 tablespoon matcha powder (1 tsp if you don't like matcha flavour)
BLACK SESAME:  add 2 tablespoons ground black sesame
  1. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in whole egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and salt and mix until combined.
  2. Halve dough; shape each half into a log. Place each log on a 12-by-16 inch sheet of parchment. Roll in parchment to 1 ½ inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Transfer to paper towel tubes to hold shape, and refrigerate until firm or freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Roll log in extra evaporated cane sugar or sanding sugar. Cut into ½-inch thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. (cakebrain note: ensure the cookies are golden brown and they'll taste much more flavourful as well as have a better crunch). Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.
TOTORO COOKIES:
1. Divide batch of dough into 3 bowls (pull off one handful to colour green with matcha, 1/3 should be vanilla and 2/3 should be black sesame).  Add various flavourings: matcha, black sesame and keep one plain vanilla.  Roll out black sesame cookie to an even thickness.  Roll the vanilla dough into a log shaped to the size of Totoro's tummy.  You will slice off thin pieces to place on the black sesame totoro.  
2.  Using a paper template as a guide for Totoro's body.  Trace with a knife with the black sesame dough.
3. Slice off a thin piece off of the vanilla dough log.  Place it on Totoro's tummy area.  
4. Take a tiny piece of matcha dough and cut out a leaf shape and place on top of Totoro's head.  
5. Bake the cookies, keeping a close eye on the ears so they don't burn.  I started checking the cookies at the 10 minute mark.  Depending on the thinness and size of your cookies, it'll take from 10-18 minutes.  Just keep an eye on those ears!


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Birthday Pie! Flaky All-Butter Crust Apple Pie

Birthday Pie

Organic cold unsalted butter sliced in 1/4 inch pieces in my food processor, along with only 2/3 of the flour mixture...ready for pulsing.

Several years ago, my friend confided to me that he doesn't like birthday cake (gasp!)
I remembered that.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Garlic Scapes Potstickers

Garlic Scapes! My fave ingredient for amazing home-made potstickers

These are Garlic Scapes.  They are not hollow like scallions or chives but have a solid core.  They are very mild in flavour and a wonderful addition to homemade potstickers.  I threw in a few stalks of green onion also (can you spot them?) because they just happened to be in the fridge too.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Homemade Fizzy Grape Kombucha


Homemade Fizzy Kombucha
This Kombucha experiment was anxiety-ridden and exciting and most importantly economical! Do you struggle with paying almost $5 for those bottles of effervescent flavoured kombuchas too?
I failed somewhat in trying to grow my own SCOBY from a bottle of store-bought GT Unflavoured Raw Kombucha.  I don't think I had the right ph balance and I never got anything beyond a translucent scoby that was a few millimetres thin.  When I found out that a local shop was selling scobies I practically went there the next day.  Interestingly, there was a kombucha workshop running that day but I didn't stay for it.  I knew what I wanted and after purchasing some other supplies (at a pretty reasonable price!) I went home to try and make my own kombucha.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

BC SPOT PRAWN FESTIVAL! Stir-Fried Ginger Scallion and Soy Spot Prawns

BC Spot Prawns w/Ginger, Scallion & Soy
It's BC Spot Prawn Season! yay!

The season lasts from May to June and after seeing friends' Spot Prawn pics posted on FB I had a yearning too.  I sent the man down to T&T supermarket where they were on sale for $15.99/lb until May 18.

A photo posted by Cake Brain (@cakebrain) on


The Spot Prawns were lively in their plastic bag.  These guys have pokey antennae and sharp spear-like tails and heads.  You have to buy the Spot Prawns with the intent to eat them within a few hours.  I kept them in the fridge for an hour before I was ready to prep them.  I am squeamish and even with rubber dish gloves to protect me from their sharp pointy bits, I couldn't handle how each prawn would squirm and hop out of my hand.  In the end, I held a prawn with tongs in my left hand and worked the scissors in my other hand. It gave me the willies...but I was not deterred enough to stop because I knew these prawns had to be cooked quickly to maintain their freshness.  After they die, the prawn flesh becomes mushy...bleh...inedible.  When cooked fresh, they have a firm 'n bouncy texture and they're sweet and juicy.  They do not require much fuss in terms of cooking.  

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Ayoub's Dried Fruit and Mixed Nuts

love the chandelier in Ayoub's
If you love nuts and dried fruit, you'll have to check this place out.  Ayoub's first of all is beautiful. It's like walking into another world.  The white shelves, silver urns filled with fragrant spiced nuts and the huge candelier hanging in the centre of the room make for an impressive first impression.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Crackle Crème, Vancouver

Duelling my 7 year old for the crackle!

Basho Cafe & Sweets, Vancouver

Matcha Latte Afternoon Tea special ($5)
Upon entering Basho Cafe on East Hastings (my old teenage stomping grounds!) you are immediately taken aback by the fine details evident in the decor and the food.  By gosh, even the door handle at the front has a knitted warmer wrapped around it!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Earnest Ice Cream, Vancouver


London Fog
Do you ever argue with family members about where to eat for dinner? well, this is us practically every weekend.  I figured out a compromise.   One person chooses the resto for dinner and another can choose a different place for dessert.  Win Win!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Blueberry Milkshake

Blueberry Milkshake
My friend gifted me a HUGE ice-cream pail full of perfectly sweet local blueberries from a UPick farm in Richmond.  The blueberry season is here NOW! and I don't know about you, but I have blueberries starting to turn mushy and I'm heading to the freezer now with trays of them to save them for smoothies and baking.  

Aside from a healthy smoothy, a more decadent way to enjoy a nice heap o' blueberries is in a milkshake.  Here's my quick recipe:

Blueberry Milkshake
2 scoops vanilla ice cream (can be made dairy free with almond or coconut ice cream)
1 cup milk (can be made dairy free with almond or coconut milk)
1 cup blueberries

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until combined and no longer lumpy.

Parthenon Greek Supermarket, Vancouver & a GF rant

Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
Spanakopita (Spinach pie) 
The best part of living in Vancouver is my proximity to good authentic eats if I'm craving it.  I live within 10 minutes of excellent foods from India, Greece, China, Japan, the Middle East, Italy, France and practically every other major country you can think of.  I'm so lucky. Today, the crave of the day was Greek.  The Parthenon is a Greek supermarket that's been around for ages.  It's always been there on W. Broadway as long as I can remember and I was born and raised in Vancouver.  Let me google it for you and see if I can find out.  Oh! Over 45 years!  that's pretty close to my age (which I shall stay mum about).

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