Toum! Lebanese Garlic Dip – Gluten Free and AIP!

A few years ago, we were travelling through Kalamazoo, en route to Toronto. It was the first of our site scouting trips to prepare for our upcoming move back to Canada, and my husband wanted to stop by his favourite brewery – Bell’s – on the trip. We stopped for lunch at a random shawarma place, and my world was ROCKED.

I have no idea how I’d never tried toum before then. It was this thick white dip that they served alongside their grape leaves… SUPER potent with garlic – it burned to eat! – and was absolutely addictive. I wanted to put it on everything! We cleaned our plates, bought some more to go, and made a point of stopping off at that same restaurant on subsequent trips between Minnesota and Ontario.

The thing is, it wasn’t listed as “toum” on the menu. They just called it their house garlic sauce – or something similar – and I’d assumed it to be a unique thing. It wasn’t til one of my facebook friends mentioned “garlic dip” alongside “toum”, that I googled and found my long lost love, LOL. Not only did it mean I had a name of an item to look for / ask for when dining out, I found that it was something that is very easy to make at home. I put that knowledge aside for the time being.

Recently, I’ve had to adopt the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) diet, as a result of some thyroid weirdness. The next 6 months mean a very strict diet that cuts out a lot of fun stuff – nightshades, grains, dairy, seeds, nuts, sugar, etc. It’s not that big a deal for me – I cook, I can make any diet taste great! – but it does sting a little, now that we’ve moved to Hamilton. You see, there is a shawarma place pretty much on every block here, and we were definitely getting into trying as many as we could, before this change of dietary direction. Amazing stuff, as far as the eye can see!

This past weekend, I was really, REALLY wanting some shawarma… so I came up with an AIP version. I’ll be blogging that shortly, but wanted to post components of it, first.

Now, you don’t have to be on AIP to go for AIP shawarma. It’s an excellent dish on its own (“I want 6 more of these, right now… but I am FULL, AUGH!” – my non-AIP husband, when I made shawarma wraps from the leftovers), and it’s a great option when dealing with a number of dietary restrictions. It’s nightshade free, so safe for the many people who have that allergy. It’s gluten-free, paleo, dairy free, and avoid all of the most common allergens. If you’re cooking for a group that involves some people with dietary restrictions, it’s a good place to start!

So, first part of that: Toum.

This is every bit the burny, addictive, wildly satisfying garlic condiment that we had in Kalamazoo. A simple change of oils used takes it from not being AIP safe, to AIP all the way – with no change in the taste. This is exactly the sort of thing that any number of articles warn you to not eat before a date, for some reason. So bizarre. IMHO, if you’re dating someone afraid of garlic breath … you need to reconsider your standards. Accept no less than someone that who will fight you for the last bit of garlic deliciousness left on the plate!

This is super easy to make – with a food processor – and requires fairly basic ingredients.

A word on the garlic used: I’m lazy, and buy garlic cloves that have been pre-peeled by the produce department at my local grocery store. (For $2.50 for about a cup worth of garlic, it’s not worth it to peel them myself, IMHO!). I haven’t tried this with the mass produced pre-peeled garlic, but would assume that to be almost as good, just not as fresh. I would NOT recommend using pre-minced garlic, as that always tastes bitter and weird.

I use a very light olive oil for this, so the flavour doesn’t compete with the garlic too much. You could, alternatively, use all avocado oil, instead of the mix. If you don’t need to follow AIP diet restrictions, feel free to save a few bucks by using canola oil instead.

With regards to oil amounts: as listed, this will give you a nice, thick dip. If you’re looking for a bit thinner, you can continue to add more oil – about 3 cups total will give you more of a sauce consistency, rather than the dip.

Enjoy! Also: Keep an eye out for the coming recipes – AIP quick beet pickles, chicken shawarma, and more! Follow us on any of our social media accounts for updates, or subscribe to our newsletter for monthly emails!




Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.




AIP Paleo Chicken Pad Thai – Gluten Free

So, part of the reason I haven’t been blogging much lately is that I ran into some health problems, and have been spending some time sorting things out in the aftermath.

I’m fine now – I just went from needing a hefty dose of thyroid meds to not needing ANY, without anyone noticing. The resulting massive over-medication of thyroid meds upended my whole life since October 1. Can I just say how thankful I am that it happened in Canada, vs while we were still in the US? Ooof, so many ER visits, specialists, and testing.

Now that things are leveling out, one thing led to another, and I’ll be on a restricted diet for the next few months – The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet. It’s basically a step beyond paleo, getting rid of nightshades, allergens, and inflammatory foods. Already seeing some benefit, so that’s great!

It’s been interesting, feeling my way around the first few weeks. I’m well versed in gluten-free, and I’m well versed in low carb… but following most of what I was doing while low carb, but not really worrying about carbs has been… a trip. It’s been a lot of fun being on a “diet” and actually losing weight, while not having to obsess about whether or not a small handful of shredded carrots is going to screw me up. I can have beets! Sweet potatoes! Maple syrup! All the fruit I can handle – AND IT’S SUMO ORANGE SEASON! MUAHAHAHHAAAA!!

Anyway.

While I do have a bunch of non-diet recipes photographed and lined up to post, I’ll be interspersing some AIP stuff as well. Much like my other recipes, this stuff is just good food – restricted or not. My husband isn’t doing AIP himself, and has been loving the offerings over the past few weeks. Basically, don’t let the “AIP” or “Paleo” scare you off, if you’re not needing those kinds of restrictions!

The first AIP recipe I want to share is my Chicken Pad Thai. It’s an allergy-friendly version of my normal pad Thai. No nightshades (hot pepper flakes), grains (rice, rice vinegar), legumes (bean sprouts), nuts (peanuts), etc. The rice noodles were swapped out in favour of shirataki noodles – Asian yam noodles. They’re 0 effective carbs, so if you’re watching that kind of thing, a GREAT option! The rice vinegar was swapped for apple cider vinegar, I bumped up the amount of tamarind for more flavour, and added some ginger for a bit of heat.

This recipe is quite customizable – add more ginger for more heat, or leave it out if you don’t like ginger. Add some shredded cabbage in at the end if you have some on hand, or maybe a couple handfuls of bean sprouts if you’re just doing paleo, rather than full AIP. If you’ve reintroduced peanuts, go ahead and toss a handful in at the end – same goes for egg. Feel free to scramble up an egg and toss it in, if you’re not avoiding them. Not worried about gout? Feel free to add some shrimp, or substitute it for the chicken entirely.

A note on the tamarind paste – you can get stuff that’s relatively solid, or you can get stuff that’s like a thick sauce – either way will work, just be sure to check the ingredients list to make sure there’s nothing unacceptable added. Also, the “sauce” style tends to be a bit less in-your-face, so feel free to stir a bit extra in, if you’re not feeling it as-is. I like to start at about 1 Tbsp if solid, 1 ½ Tbsp if using the saucier style.






Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Low Carb Sesame Crusted Smoked Tofu with Sesame Ginger Dressing

Wow, two new recipe posts in as many weeks? Maybe this dieting thing is helping me in other areas, too!

Anyway, yes. I’ve had a lot of comments on my personal Facebook about the low carb meal photos I’ve been posting, so I’m going to try to be better about actually doing up recipes and posting here. Generally, I just post photos of what I’m making to a “Diet Food” album, for me to reference when I’m making meal plans for the week. I get forgetful, so it’s nice to look through and think “YUM. Yes, I need to make that again!”, you know?

This particular recipe is one that we’ve really leaned on as a go-to, eating it at least 1-2 times a week. It’s easy to make, and tastes way better than any “diet food” has any right to, LOL!

It came about as a bit of a progression – I’ve had to cut my meat consumption on account of gout, and my husband loves tofu. After playing around with it a bit, we found that we both liked crispy baked tofu – a preparation that usually involves corn starch. With me needing to go low carb, that meant tweaking what we were doing, so I came up with a mixture of seasonings and sesame seeds that would add flavour and crunch, without adding a ton of carbohydrates… and eventually honed it into the recipe we use now!

We serve the crispy tofu cubes over top a salad – usually with cabbage, beets, carrots, cucumber, and radishes of some sort – and top it with a quick sesame ginger dressing – recipe below. SO good!

We use the “Soyganic” brand smoked tofu* for this – plain or Sriracha, depending on our mood at the time – but I’ve also done the same with normal, extra firm tofu. The smoked tofu we tend to use has far less water than normal tofu, however, so you’ll want to drain / dry the normal stuff much more thoroughly, if that’s what you’re using.

To make this gluten free, all you have to do is to use a GF soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos when it calls for soy sauce in the dressing. Easy!

*No disclosures to make, we don’t have any sort of promotional arrangement with this company, we just really like their smoked tofu! But hey, if you guys are reading… call us *wink and finger guns*.








Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Low Carb “Singapore Mai Fan” Style Zoodles – Gluten Free

Ok, by popular request on social media, I’m going to blog this recipe … even without proper photography for it. So: Sorry for the cell phone photo – we were SO hungry!

I’ve been really busy with life and work – which is why I haven’t had time for blogging – but I’ve also been low carbbing, which means getting creative in the kitchen. Low carbing can be hard on its own, but when you add in the risk of gout flares, and a husband who does not need to low carb? Sometimes it can be challenging to come up with meals that do what they need to do, without getting boring. I’ve made this one a few times now – based on my Singapore Mai Fan recipe, which was based on a favourite order from a local Asian restaurant in Minneapolis – and it’s a favourite each time.

A few notes on this recipe:

– It’s pretty ingredient intensive, I get it. When dieting, I tend to have a lot of ingredients that I use for multiple meals throughout the week(s), so it’s easy to grab a few handfuls of scallops, or shrimp, or some green onions, without having to go and buy everything needed to make this. I like having a bag of frozen shrimp and a bag of frozen bay scallops in the freezer, that I can raid a little bit at a time, as needed!

– This recipe is all about doing a bit of prep work first, as everything comes together really fast once you start up the burner. Once you start cooking, it’s only about 10-15 minutes until it’s ready to eat!

– If your shrimp and/or scallops are frozen, thaw them out before getting started. I usually put them in some warm water for a few minutes before, and drain well as I get started.

– To make this gluten free, just use gluten free Tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos.




Enjoy!




Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

“Extreme” Caesar Salad Recipe (And Homemade Croutons!)

About a year or so ago, I happened across a post – maybe it was a tweet? – where someone mentioned using mayo as a base for Caesar dressing.

I hadn’t considered it before – it’s easy enough to make an emulsion with a stick blender or food processor after all – but it was actually kind of brilliant. Not only did it make things a lot easier, it gets rid of the worries associated with the use of raw eggs.

I decided to mess around with making a mayo based Caesar dressing to our tastes, and came up with this… monstrosity.

This dressing smells TERRIBLE. It burns to eat. The lemon in it makes my tongue feel like it’s ripped to shreds halfway through.

… and it is – far and away – the BEST Caesar salad I’ve ever had in my life.

The weird thing about this recipe is that almost every rave I have about it sounds completely negative! This isn’t about “burst of flavour”, it’s more like “punch you in the face with flavour”. This recipe is definitely geared towards garlic lovers, so keep that in mind!

If you’ve never worked with anchovies before, you may have a weird idea of what to expect. Though this recipe has a lot of anchovy in it, it doesn’t taste fishy at all. Anchovy doesn’t really taste like fish, it just has a rich, salty, complex flavour that adds a ton of character to whatever you put it in. You buy them in little jars, either by the canned meats, or in the fresh fish aisle, depending on your grocery store.

This dressing whips up in just minutes, and makes a SUPER potent dressing. A little goes a long way, so use less dressing than you think you’ll need – you can always mix more in if you want to kick it up a notch or ten!

Anyway.

Making homemade croutons is a good way to accent this dressing, because who wants crappy store bought croutons when you’re serving a special dressing? Not I! So, I’m including a non-recipe recipe for my croutons at the end of the dressing recipe. It only takes about 3 minutes to prepare, and 15 or so minutes to bake – totally worth the effort!

Enjoy!










Chicken Satay Recipe – Gluten Free

Chicken Satay is one of those dishes that is SO close to being gluten-free… but isn’t.

The soy sauce included in both marinade and dipping sauce renders restaurant satay inedible to most with gluten issues. It’s such a small thing, yet ends up meaning that most restaurant-made satay is off limits.

So, if you’ve got to make it at home, best start with an amazing recipe! This is one of the recipes from Beyond Flour 2.

“The chicken stays nice, tender, and juicy from this marinade, and the dipping sauce is perfect for it – It compliments the chicken so well, and is amazing on its own – I feel like I could just take a spoon and eat it by itself. I could live on this.” – my husband’s view on it.

The sauce can be made ahead, or just as you’re grilling the chicken. I like to serve the sauce hot, but it can also be served cool if you like – you’ll just want to thin it with a little extra chicken stock, as it thickens when cold.

Note: This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. While I’ll only ever link to items that I, personally, wholeheartedly recommend, I do need to put that disclosure out there!
Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay - Pinterest Image


Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Rainbow Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Last week, I was doing my social media chores on Facebook, when I came across an ad for some takeout place way down south. I have NO idea why it was in my feed – driving 12+ hours for takeout isn’t reasonable! – but it featured a photo of a salad that I needed in my life.

I noted what I could see in it, and planned to make something like it at home. I made a few additions, based on our tastes – edamame, green onions and (optionally) avocado.

For dressing, I decided to throw together a carrot-ginger dressing. Not only were we both in the mood for something like that, it would go really well with the flavours in the salad. Also, I thought that the bright orange of it would be extra pretty against such a vibrant background. I was not wrong!

It actually took me two tries to get the dressing to where I wanted. Hit the flavour perfectly on the first go, but the texture left a bit to be desired. I’d used fresh carrots and pureed them, thinking that would be the easiest for people – not everyone has a juicer, after all.

I really wasn’t happy with the mouthfeel on it, though… so I went back to the original plan, and it was *perfect*. Freshly juiced is best, but if you don’t have a juicer – just buy some carrot juice in the produce section at your grocer.

Finally, this makes a ton of salad – a big, sharable bowl worth. We make it up and keep it in the fridge, picking away at it through a few meals. That is the ONLY reason I’m not including avocado in it – avoidance of brown avocado bits. If you’re making this up as a single serve thing – for a gathering, maybe? – I would recommend including an avocado or two. I love the texture and flavour of it in this!

Enjoy!

Rainbow Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing






Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

The One CHEESE Ring!

Recently, I had to make something to bring to a Lord of the Rings themed potluck. I wasn’t in the mood to make my Lembas, and didn’t have time to order the Elderflower syrup to make my Miruvor.

I was on a big cheese kick (as always!), with a lot of cheese in the fridge. We started with the idea of somehow making a LOTR cheese ball (??), and that idea quickly spawned the final plan: We would make The One Cheese Ring.

I like to make cheese balls in the same way I make my Fromage Fort: See what we have in the fridge, use a bit of everything. What can I say, I like adventure! For the less adventurous / those without a ridiculous amount of cheese sitting around, you can always go with a mix of cheddars, goudas, etc – it’s all good!

When it comes to the black speech piped on the side, I decided to use Sun dried tomato paste, which you can buy in a tube. Really, you can flavour the cream cheese with anything you like, and tint it any colour you like. Dijon mustard, horse radish, pesto paste, etc. If using pesto paste, use one without nut chunks in it, or it will be hard to pipe. You can get basil paste in the produce section of many grocery stores.

Once you’ve piped the Black Speech onto the cheese ring, you may feel an overwhelming desire to keep THE PRECIOUS all to yourself … but you should probably share this with friends. 2 1/2 lbs of cheese is a lot, even for the tricksiest of Hobbits.

The One Cheese Ring




Lorien, of The Feral Fellowship

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Tolkien Fan? Be sure to check out these other posts:

How to make a Hobbit Hole Cat Shelter
Caturday: Tolkien edition
How I Made that: Dwarf Wig
So I’m Dressing My Husband up as Thranduil…
The Two Week Thorin Costume!
Thorin Costume!
How to make Thranduil’s Crown
Smaug the Terrible… I mean, Terribly AWESOME.
I am Fire, I am FRUITY – Smaug Fruit Bowl
Smaug Costume
Doing the Elf Meme Thing…
Gandalf the Fabulous

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Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Smoked Jalapeno Poppers

A couple weeks ago, we bought a smoker. After having made proper back bacon, we just HAD TO.

That first day of smoking things, we went a little nuts: A couple kinds of sausage. Poblanos. Peanuts! A chicken (that one didn’t go so well, though). The big standout from the day? Smoked Jalapeno Poppers.

These happened as a bit of an evolution. My husband bought a little metal holder thing for smoking jalapenos upright, with the thought that we could use them in my cooking, or even just making salsa. Fair enough… but what if we stuffed them full of cheese before smoking? … better yet, what if we forget the stand, slice the peppers in half, wrap them in bacon, and smoke THAT? It has always been our preferred style of poppers *in the oven*, but smoking them could be really great, right?

So, we did. They were AMAZING – super addictive. I thought I was really a genius for coming up with them… until a friend on Facebook informed me that they were already a “thing” in the smoking community. Well, crap.

So, while I can’t take credit for actually inventing an original thing here, I HAVE to share our recipe. These take a little bit of prep work, but are SO worth it. Brave the snow and put some of these on to bring to your holiday potlucks, or just keep them in your fridge for quick snacks. Just be sure to make at least twice what you think you’ll need, because they go fast. (Understatement of the year!)

This recipe can be tweaked to suit personal taste: If you scrape out all of the seeds and ribs from the peppers, they have flavour without heat. If you leave some of the seeds/ribs in, you can get anywhere between a little heat, to scorching. They can be served cold, room temp, or hot – we prefer them reheated.

The amounts listed for cheeses and bacon are approximate: The amount of filling and bacon you need will depend on the size of your peppers, how full you pipe them, and the cut of your bacon. We recommend thin or regular cut bacon, as we didn’t like the texture thick cut left after being smoked.

Quick bit of advice: I highly recommend using nitrile/ latex/whatever gloves for preparing the poppers. You will come in contact with an insane amount of capsaicin, and it can burn!

Note: This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. While I’ll only ever link to items that I, personally, wholeheartedly recommend, I do need to put that disclosure out there!




Smoked Jalapeno Poppers Recipe

5 lbs jalapeno peppers
~ 3.5 lbs cream cheese
1/2 – 1 lb shredded cheese of choice (we used a peppered blend)
~ 3.5 lbs bacon

Wood chips*
Gloves
About 5 disposable pastry bags

At least an hour before smoking – but ideally overnight – soak your wood chips in water.

Wearing gloves, cut the tops off the peppers, and cut each in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out as much or as little of the seeds and ribs as you’d like, set aside.

In a large bowl, microwave the cream cheese for 30-60 seconds at a time until it’s soft enough to stir well. Beat until creamy and with no lumps. Add shredded cheese, stir until well distributed.

Spoon all of the mixture into piping/frosting /pastry bags, trying to avoid creating air pockets as you go, and leaving enough room to twist the bag shut. (You can spoon the filling in, if you like… but piping it in is so much quicker, easier, and cleaner!)

Cut 3/4-1″ off the pointed end of the bag, carefully pipe filling into each of the pepper halves, as shown.

This is a good time to preheat your smoker (or charcoal grill) to about 200F

Next, wrap the poppers in bacon. Depending on the size of your poppers and the cut of your bacon, you’ll want between 1/2 – 1 strip of bacon per popper.

Leaving a little room between each, transfer the prepared poppers to your smoker racks.

Smoke for 1-2 hours, checking on them right around the 1 hour mark. For our smoker, we use 2 big handfuls of wood chips at a time, adding more chips after about 30-40 minutes.

You can also cook these on a normal charcoal grill: we’ll toss about 1 big handful of wood chips right on the coals, adding more about every 20 minutes.

With our smoker, one hour produces poppers that look like this (how *I* like them):

… and 1.5 – 2 hours produces poppers like THIS, how my husband prefers them:

… try to let them cool for at least a few minutes after they come out of the smoker, as they’ll be molten inside and burn your mouth. I have a hard time waiting, so I won’t judge if you park yourself next to the newly-removed poppers like a wild eyed vulture 🙂

* We like to use the “Jack Daniels” wood chips for this, which we purchase on Amazon. Click here to view the listing we use




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How to make Peameal Bacon and Back Bacon

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the annoying things about living away from my homeland is the lack of availability of many of the grocery basics, treats, and general comfort foods of home. For the most part, they’re easy enough to make, once I put my mind to developing a recipe (Tiger Tail Ice Cream, or Honey Garlic Cooking Sauce, for instance!)

Recently, I was disappointed with a purchase of “Canadian bacon” (we don’t call it that – it’s back bacon!). I lamented the lack of availability of not only GOOD back bacon, but also peameal bacon. My husband had never even heard of peameal bacon, and had only ever had “Canadian Bacon” as they sell it here in the USA… anemic, flavourless, very blah ham product. This was a situation that needed to be rectified!

So, I did some research on recipes and techniques, and created a recipe of my own, using the flavours I wanted. I ordered a few necessary items – including Prague Powder, which I’d never even heard of – and then called my husband to let him know that I was taking up a new hobby – curing meat. You know you’ve married well when such a declaration isn’t met with some variation of “WTF? Because we don’t have enough hobbies?”, but with “Awesome! I’ve been meaning to take up smoking meats! We can do both!”!

Anyway, both back bacon and peameal bacon start out the same – soaking in a flavourful brine for a few days – and then veer off in different directions from there:

Peameal Bacon is then rolled in cornmeal (Back in the day it was crushed up dried peas), wrapped, and chilled. It’s then cut into thick slices and fried up as needed, usually served in sandwiches. So far as I can tell, peameal sandwiches are mostly a Toronto thing… I have no idea why. They’re fantastic!

Back Bacon skips the cornmeal, and gets smoked until fully cooked. You can serve it as-is, though it’s usually reheated in some form: fried as part of breakfast or in a sandwich, or thinly sliced and used to make pizza. I promise you, making a pizza with this will wreck you for all other pizzas. I made a spicy Hawaiian one the other day – back bacon, pineapple, thinly sliced jalapenos, and a drizzle of sriracha.. spectacular!

Says Porter: “It has a better texture than the stuff I’ve had – firm but not stringy or chewy. Much better flavor, more character. I definitely see a big difference, and I’m not going back”

While back bacon requires smoking – usually requiring special equipment / technique – peameal bacon is ridiculously easy to make, and requires no special skill or equipment. I was really kicking myself for not having done it sooner!

Note: This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. While I’ll only ever link to items that I, personally, wholeheartedly recommend, I do need to put that disclosure out there!






With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.