Friendly Food Snobs

salsa verde

Summer weather is arriving here in Toronto, thank goodness,.

Bright green, aromatic and delicious, this salsa verde uses fresh flat leaf parsley and cilantro, which I grab from my herb garden. We’re growing tomatoes, zucchinis and cantaloupes all in pots this year too. I am not sure if camps will be open because of COVID, so I am hoping watering the growing fruit and veg in the backyard will keep my kids busy.

Warmer weather means cooking has shifted gears too. Lemons and limes are always on my grocery list, for salad dressings, guacamole or to squeeze into water. I am also loving crispy sweet romaine lettuce salads. And I have been using the leftover brine in pickle or sauerkraut jars to quick pickle my own red onions. Just thinly slice and add to the jar.

Dreaming of travelling again someday and my cravings have been Mexican and South American food. Enter this salsa verde. So simple to make. Just toss everything in the blender, let is sit in the fridge for an hour to two and enjoy.

I serve this salsa verde over sliced skirt steak, grilled chicken, shrimp, roasted potatoes or even with eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey/maple syrup
  • pinch chili flakes
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Pour the oil and vinegar in your blender. Add remaining ingredients, and blitz until almost smooth.

gluten free sweet potato muffins

Hi friends. Toronto is in our third lockdown as I type and baking healthy treats is bringing me a lot of joy at the moment.

Enter these gluten free muffins made with sweet potato. Perfect for chilly spring mornings with a mug of something hot.  The texture is fluffy and you can’t even tell they’re gluten free.

I make these two ways by varying the add ins. The first version is stirring in pepita seeds and dark chocolate chips which my kids love. And the other version is with just chopped walnuts – my fave.

Recipe makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:
1 cup baked sweet potato
1 cup all purpose flour or gluten-free flour (I love Bob’s Red Mill cup for cup)
3/4 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup or brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg

Optional Add ins:

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pepita seeds

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Wash the sweet potato and poke a few holes in it with a fork. Wrap in foil and bake for 45-55 minutes until soft. Let cool and slice in half and scoop out one cup. [Note: I often bake the sweet potato the day before I plan the make the muffins.]

Combine the oil, egg, milk and vanilla with the syrup or brown sugar. Combine remaining dry ingredients in a separate large bowl. Pour wet mixture over dry and stir until just combined. Spoon into lined or greased muffin tins. (I grease mine with coconut oil or non-stick spray.) Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes.

Delicious with butter or nut butter for breakfast. Or drizzled with honey for dessert. 

If you like baking these healthy muffins you may like these no-sugar banana muffins or this protein-packed super seedy banana bread.

lentil soup with greens

I love a good vegetable lentil soup in the winter. Serve with bread or crackers and cheese to make supper. Or freeze it for meal prep. This soup is simple to make but totally delicious. The trick is to saute the veggies until they are starting to brown and smell fragrant, then stir in the tomato paste and let it cook for a few minutes to build a big base of flavour.

I recommend using yellow split peas for this recipe. They hold their shape and are packed with protein and have a lovely bite. They take about 20-30 minutes to cook. If you are using red lentils they cook much quicker, just 5-7 minutes, any longer and will turn mushy. Look for yellow split peas in the bulk section of the grocery store or your local health food store.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cooking onion chopped
  • 1 head thinly sliced swiss chard or baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 tbsp thyme

Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with the 5 tbsp olive oil. Saute the onion, celery and carrot with a generous shake of salt and pepper over medium heat for ten minutes. Add the chopped garlic and tomato paste and stir as the paste browns and starts to caramelize for another few minutes.

Add the 6 cups of water and bouillon cube and bring to a boil. Toss in the split peas and bay leaf and simmer for 30-40 minutes until split peas are tender. If using red lentil the cooking time is less, just 5-7 minutes.

Once the lentils are done turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and stir in the swiss chard. The residual heat from the soup will wilt it perfectly. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. This soups taste even better after a day in the fridge and freezes well too. Highly recommend serving it with some fresh bread with butter and a hard cheese.

Need inspiration for more soups and stews for winter? Check out this easy chickpea curry, coconut milk butternut squash soup, slow cooker beef tostadas and butter chicken.

dark chocolate mendiants

Dark chocolate mendiants are little chocolate treats topped with whatever you desire – I love flaky salt, nuts and dried fruit. It’s about two weeks until Christmas here in Toronto and I am just starting my Christmas dessert making. I love one or two of these mendiants in the afternoon with tea when I get a mini break from my boys.

They are super simple to make. Melt the chocolate and spoon it onto waiting parchment paper to form little discs and then top.

A few topping ideas:

  • dried fruit like cranberries, blueberries, apricots, raisins or figs
  • goji berries
  • pistachios, walnuts, cashews, peanuts or hazelnuts
  • coconut
  • candied ginger
  • smashed candy canes
  • pretzels
  • flaky salt

Mendiants hail from the French – and the history of the treat represents a coin, and the toppings the four monastic orders. They are traditionally made in Europe at Christmas time. They are so pretty on a dessert tray or as a holiday gift tied up in a clear bag with ribbon. The recipe below makes 20-24 small mendiants. To make 10-12 mendiants, just use one chocolate bar.

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 100 gram dark chocolate bars (70% or 80% cacao)
  • prepped toppings ready to sprinkle

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Have the toppings ready. For example, chop the nuts or slice the candied ginger. You have about ten minutes to top before the chocolate firms up. Melt the dark chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave.

To use the double boiler method: bring a pot of water to a low boil. Place a heat safe bowl on top of the pot. Break up the chocolate bars and stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate melts.

To use microwave: break up the chocolate bars in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave in 20 second intervals stirring after each one. Once the chocolate is almost entirely melted just keep stiring and the heat from the bowl will melt the rest.

Use a teaspoon to spoon 20-24 chocolate discs on the parchment paper. Use the back of the spoon to help spread the chocolate into circles.

Top with whatever you like. Let set in the fridge or on counter until chocolate hardens.

Need holiday cooking inspiration? Check out these chewy ginger cookies and my savory thyme cheddar shortbread. And this is the holiday salad – with arugula, pear, walnut, Parmesan and pomegranate seeds I make every year.

the best gluten free waffles

My ideal waffle has to be crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, and these hit the mark. Early in the quarantine, in those dark months of working and parenting at home, I bought a waffle maker online. It was about $60 and my kids went crazy for fresh waffles. It’s the little joys right? This recipe is simple and the almond flour gives the waffles more protein and a yummy crispy texture. It’s a great way to break through the weekday haze and start the weekend with waffles for breakfast.

Gay Lea recently sent me some of their new Farmhouse premium butter and we’ve been topping our waffles with this incredible butter, blueberries and maple syrup. The butter has a creamy sweet taste, and is a wonderful treat on homemade baked goods. I cannot think of a better way to start the weekend. Recipes makes 4-5 waffles

The best gluten free waffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I love Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 cup packed almond flour
  • 1 cup milk (dairy or nut milk work)
  • 1/2 TSP cinnamon
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • 3 TBSP canola oil
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Pour over the wet ingredients, stir and let batter sit for a few minutes while waffle maker heats up. Spoon in approximately 1/4 of the batter and close lid. My waffle maker has 5 settings and I like a crispy waffle so cook mine on setting #4 or #5.

Enjoy topped with whatever you love. Almond butter, peanut butter, yogurt, banana and honey or chocolate chips are all kid approved toppings around here. These reheat well the next day in the toaster too. Hope you enjoy!

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