Quinoa Pizza Mini Bites – Dairy & Gluten Free

pizza mini bitesDefinitely my favorite mini bite recipe so far are these Quinoa Pizza Mini Bites. At first when I looked at the recipe I thought having quinoa in it was weird and probably not very tasty, but it turned out to be delicious!

The quinoa gives it a nice texture and does not make you feel that heaviness in your belly that pastry does. And it doesn’t take away or overtake the other flavors in the bite, it enhances and allows them to stand out.

pizza mini bitesQuinoa, considered a plant food, is also super good for you. It is one of the most protein rich foods we can eat, as well as high in fiber, iron, magnesium and many other vitamins and minerals. It is also gluten free which is great for those who are looking for or in need of that option; and even contains antioxidants. On it’s own, quinoa is quite plain but is a fantastic healthy addition in salads, baked goods, warm breakfast cereals and more!

These pizza mini bites really do taste like pizza and with the quinoa in them they are super healthy. I was amazed at how good they were and how much they actually tasted like pizza. And like pizza you can add in your favorite pizza ingredients. I used small pieces of pepperoni but you could easily substitute ham, add peppers, chopped up mushrooms, etc.

They are also fantastic for kids – they can easily help make them and they are a nice healthy option to put in their lunches or even for a snack. Yes you have to put in 3 or 4 but that’s ok this recipe makes a lot! They are even a great appetizer or snack for your next gathering or party.

Quinoa Pizza Mini Bites

2 cups cooked quinoa*

2 large eggspizza mini bites

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup Daiya shredded mozzarella

2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 cup chopped pepperoni sticks (3-4 sticks)

1/2 tsp seasoning salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried crushed oregano

pizza or tomato sauce for dipping

Mix together all ingredients, except pizza sauce, in a medium mixing bowl. Using a tablespoon, scoop the mixture into a well greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup to the top. Press down gently to compact.

Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly (about 5 minutes). Gently remove bites from muffin tin and serve immediately.

These are also very good cold. So if you’re putting them into kids lunches or your own, there’s no need to heat them if not able to do so.

Makes approximately 40 bitespizza mini bites

*How to Cook Quinoa

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

Thoroughly rinse quinoa in a colander (make sure the holes are small enough that the quinoa does not go through). Once rinsed place in a small pot with water.

Uncovered bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Let quinoa cool slightly then fluff with a fork and either serve or use in desired recipe.

What are some of your favorite quinoa recipes? Share in the comments below

Miss last week’s mini bite recipe? Check out Dairy Free Macaroni Mini Bites

Camping Recipes – Potato Boats

potato boats

On my hunt for new camping recipes I discovered this neat recipe for potato boats (which honestly is a glorified baked potato but it’s still fun). I really liked the idea of the variety it offered and also found it similar to TFD’s (tin foil dinners, another favorite camping recipe in our family).

We tried it out potato boats this past week when we were camping in Writing on Stone Provincial Park for my oldest son’s birthday (He’s 13 now a real teenager in my home – yikes:). It’s a beautiful park in a part of the Badlands with magnificient hoodoos along the Milk River. This park is also a sacred landscape that contains the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the great plains of North America.

I thought Matthew would really like this recipe and since it was his birthday I let him choose what he wanted to have for supper. When I offered potato boats his eyes lit up and he practically salivated all over me. He even got the fire going so that I could get them started.

They turned out really well and all the kids loved them, Matthew practically inhaling his. They were a little too big though for the twins, in the future I would make one potato and give them each half. I also found it a bit too much for me as the portion was just too large.

potato boatsThe other downside with this recipe is that you have to bake the potatoes first and pre-cook your bacon. Then slice them put in the cheese, bacon, ham, etc. and then heat. For me, this was too many steps for a camping dinner and took too long. When I am camping I like recipes that are hearty, filling and delicious, but that are also quick and easy. The fact that I had to cook the potatoes and the bacon first and then put them together and cook some more wasn’t really appealing to me. But I made them anyway to see how they would turn out. And as I said they were delicious. I can see this recipe being one that would work well at home over the BBQ.

When we were camping, we did them over the fire, which I love because there are less dishes! but the flipside is it did take a little more time. First you have to build your fire and let it burn down to nice hot coals. You do not want flame as this will burn your potatoes. This can take at least an hour or more to get the coals you need, and then at least an hour to bake your potato – great if you’re kicking around the campsite.

Potato Boats

(amounts are based on one potato per person and is dairy free – may choose to serve half depending on appetite and age)

1 baking potatopotato boats

1-2 slices of bacon, cooked

1-2 sliced ham

1 Daiya cheese slice

green onion, chopped for topping

Earth Island’s non-dairy sour cream

Wash and prep potatoes for baking. Poke holes with fork all over potato and wrap in single layer of heavy duty foil. Bake potatoes in hot coals of campfire, approx 1 hour, turning once. When potatoes are soft, remove from fire and open foil. Cut 4 slices along the potato, do not cut all the way through to bottom. In each sliced section put in cheese, bacon and ham. Rewrap in foil and place back on coals for about 10 minutes.

potato boatsRemove from coals once cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and green onions on top.

In making these and deciding there were too many steps for me making while camping, I came up with a couple of things that could make this dinner easier and a little bit faster if you don’t want to spend two hours making dinner.

If you were having this meal for your first night you could bake the potatoes and cook the bacon at home then simply stuff them and reheat them on the coals of the fire. You would still need to build your fire and get it to coals but then the actual cooking time would be cut almost in half as it would only take about 20 minutes on good coals to heat through.

It is definitely a hearty delicious meal and you could certainly change up what you ‘stuff’ into the slices. I had planned to serve grilled veggies with it but just ended up serving them raw in the end. You could also serve with a side of fruit if desired.

potato boats

Try it out and share your thoughts in the comments below? Did you stuff it with something else? How did you enjoy it?

 

Kids Healthy Cooking – The Perfect Mini Pizza

making mini pizzas with kidsPizza is another one of those fabulous recipes to make with kids that is super easy and fun. Not only do kids like eating pizza, kids like making pizza to! It is fun, easy and something they can get their hands into.

Making mini pizzas with kids is great because they can choose their own ingredients and put on what they like. Giving them choice and control over what they are having. It is also great because they use their hands to make it, and most kids, (though I do know some who don’t), like getting messy and using their hands to make and create things.

The key as the adult is providing a number of ingredients for them to choose from, not only in hopes that they will choose ingredients that will provide a balanced diet, but also an opportunity for them to try something new.

making mini pizzas with kidsMaking mini pizzas is also a great way to give kids further autonomy over their pizza because they are truly making their own, that they are going to eat and no one else.

I had to laugh when we made these in our Mini Chefs class. As soon as I took out the ingredients we were using, little ones started expressing how they did not like tomato sauce, or mushrooms, etc. I just smiled and said that was the great thing about making your own pizza is that they could put whatever they wanted on it!

So they did. Some of them completely excluding the tomato sauce and just placing ham and cheese on top. Others experimented with all the ingredients, while some went for the simple straight forward ‘just cheese’.

And it’s so great to watch them experiment and try new things. Sometimes I don’t know what is actually new for them until after class when I talk to Mom and say “Suzy had ham and cheese on her pizza today.” Then Mom looks at me in surprise and says “Wow, she tried ham, she won’t touch it at home,” looking impressed.

Once you have the kids making a basic mini pizza, you can then start adding in some new ingredients the next time you make them, like spinach or feta. You can also get creative around holidays like Halloween and have them make spooky faces on their pizzas (again adding new ingredients to try like peppers or olives – they’re great for faces). Pizza options really are endless and once they’re hooked and involved they’ll be no limit to what you and they can try.

Mini Pizzas

Ingredients:

Tomato saucemaking mini pizzas with kids

Daiya mozzarella cheese (or regular mozza if preferred)

Sliced ham

Pineapple, sliced and cut into pieces

Mushrooms, sliced

Whole Wheat English muffins

Cut english muffins in half. Place both halves face up on counter. Spoon on 1-2 tablespoons of tomato sauce (to taste). Be careful not to use too much as it will make the muffin soggy. Place desired toppings, ham, mushrooms, pineapple on top of tomato sauce. Spread toppings evenly. Sprinkle with Daiya mozarella.

making mini pizzas with kidsPlace in pre-heated oven (350F) or toaster oven until cheese is melted and muffin is golden brown around the edges – approximately 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on your pizza as some ovens are warmer than others and may cook faster.

Next week we experiment with dips – the caramel one is to die for (and is fabulous with apples – you’ll want to eat an apple just to eat the dip)!

A Biscuit by any other Name

IMG_5950One of my favorite meals, especially in the summer, is corn on the cob with biscuits. I have no idea why I enjoy this combination so much or even where I came up with it, but it must have seemed like a good combination at one time and it seems to have stuck.

The kids get so excited when they see me mixing up the biscuit dough, literally jumping up and down. They always help me husk the corn, loving pulling off the green to reveal the sweet corn inside. (We do this outside on the deck, then we can make a big mess and it doesn’t matter as much)

I usually make the biscuits from a Bisquick mix, using their recipe on the box for drop biscuits, substituting my almond milk and dropping the biscuits by the teaspoon to bake. But the other day when I was grocery shopping and went to pick up Bisquick I looked at the package, actually reading the ingredients in the mix (I am not sure why I have never done this before). In reading the ingredients I realized that it contained sugar, something I have been diligently avoiding and eliminated from our diet. Why oh why had I been continuing to use the Bisquick and not paying attention? This did not seem like me at all. Perplexed by my own idiosyncrasies, I decided not to purchase the Bisquick and put it back on the shelf.

I then remembered that when we were in Australia last summer visiting my sister that she had made these delicious biscuits one night from scratch and had given me the recipe. I knew that regardless of what the ingredients were I could modify it accordingly if needed. I was a little unsure though of where this recipe might be…

picQm6KFZLuckily it was easier to find than I thought, with hardly any adjustments needed. I was off to town and ready to make biscuits! They turned out very well, golden brown, fluffy and delicious! We all gobbled them up, eating them fresh from the oven, slathered with butter.

The recipe makes a good amount of biscuits, boasting 16 good size biscuits on average. I also like the options for this recipe, being able to add in things like cheese or ham if you want to, or simply making a plain biscuit. I also love the slight hint of cayenne that goes into this recipe, as it gives it just that subtle flavor and kick. I have yet to make this recipe and actually roll out the dough. I am lazy, and usually making dinner quickly, and I think they turn out just as nicely. Plus I say why create more work for yourself rolling them out when dropping them by the tablespoon works quite well! No one is going to pass on eating them because of it.

Now though my kids usually associate biscuits with corn on the cob, you can easily serve these with other yummy meals, such as chilis, stews, or whatever meal you want to add biscuits to! They are quick, easy and are a delicious recipe to make from scratch.

Homemade Biscuits

1 cup all purpose flourUS-Shreds-Cheddar

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 cup shredded cheese (I use Daiya vegan cheddar)

3 tbsp Earth balance vegan spread

1 cup almond milk

1 tsp honey

Combine flours, baking powder, soda, salt and pepper.  Stir in cheese. Cut in Earth balance until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Combine milk and honey. Add to dry ingredients. Use a fork and stir to form a soft dough.  Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Form a ball and roll out to 1/2 ” -3/4″ thick. Cut into 2 inch rounds. Or if you don’t want to roll the dough, drop by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet.IMG_5948

Bake at 425 F for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

*other additions – may add bits of chopped ham, bacon, onion

Makes approximately 16 biscuits

Bacon in All Things

I love bacon. And so do my kids. They want everything with bacon. If I am making eggs they are asking if they are having it with bacon. Pancakes, waffles, etc. are we having bacon too? I am not sure if they inherently inherited this love of bacon from my younger sister who basically has bacon with everything!

IMG_3309In fact every time I see something with bacon I think of my sister and how much she loves it. I have noticed entire menus centered around bacon and would take pictures and send it to my sister, never really thinking much of it myself. I thought some of these combinations may be odd, but having never tried them I didn’t discount that it had possibilities.

A couple of weeks ago as I was listening to the radio in the car, I heard the morning show crew on KISS FM talking about things with bacon and how the one DJ put bacon on absolutely everything, including her brussel sprouts! I am not a fan of brussel sprouts, but I was intrigued when she mentioned bacon with her macaroni and cheese. Hmmm, I thought, that might actually be good.

Then later that week, while at Beerfest, I noticed that one of the food items being offered was macaroni and cheese with bacon. I was tempted to try some…

Instead I decided to come home and make my own macaroni and cheese with bacon, that way I could make a dairy free version and enjoy it much more (cause honestly once you go dairy free when you have even a trace of it it’s just not worth the symptoms afterwards and just feeling gross). So we finished up at Beerfest, no rush of course :), and then came home for dinner.

IMG_5261I made my mac and cheese like I usually do, using the Daiya cheddar cheese, almond milk and Earth Balance. I maybe added a little extra cheese and I felt this dish would be much better being a little cheesier. Then I cooked up the bacon, I usually use Mitchell’s, which is a brand that does not add sugar to their bacon when curing it. Most brands do unfortunately, but there are a few you can find, like Mitchell’s that do not have the added sugar. My mouth was watering as I was preparing everything, so excited to try this out.

Once everything was ready I crumbled up the bacon, served my mac and cheese and put the bacon on top. Then scooped up some and tasted it. Omg! was it ever good. The flavours worked so well together, the salty bacon giving it just the right taste sensation in my mouth. It was really hard not to overindulge on this dish.

The next week I made it for the kids, who of course gobbled it up! Now I understand how people can combine anything with bacon. There is just something about it that creates a flavour that your tastebuds will enjoy and be asking for more! I love too that I was able to make this in a way that meets my dietary choices of no dairy and no sugar, and still appreciate the combination.

Now I don’t know if I am going to be putting bacon with brussel sprouts anytime soon, maybe it will improve the taste? But I am definitely going to be more open about trying bacon with more things!

Do you have any dishes that you love adding bacon?

 

What Turkey, Christmas and Pizza have in common

turkey leftoversOne of the things I absolutely love about the big holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, is the big delicious feasts we have. All the decadent recipes we enjoy, from classic to traditional, to the new one you always wanted to try. So yummy! My mouth is watering just sitting here thinking about it (or maybe that’s the quiche I currently have in the oven?)

And of course there’s all the leftovers, usually enough at our house that we are eating turkey for a week before we tire of it and freeze the rest. Sometimes we’ll just enjoy the turkey on its own with the gravy, potatoes and leftover veg, or we’ll make something new out of the turkey, creating a whole new fantastic dish to enjoy!

From hot turkey sandwiches to omelettes and casseroles, there are endless delicious turkey leftover recipes to create. My absolute favorite though is hands down, turkey crepes. My mother found this recipe years ago, when I was probably 11 or 12. She made them one Boxing Day. I remember asking Mum what was for supper and looking at her like she was crazy when she responded. I thought ‘oh yeah those will be delicious…gross.’

Boy was I surprised. The rule in our house was that you always tried something once and if you didn’t like it fair enough, but you couldn’t say you didn’t like it if you had never tried it before. Plus that was what was for supper, if I didn’t eat it, there was nothing else. So I tentatively took a bite. OMG! These things were fantastic, they tasted just like pizza, but were lighter and fluffier. My sisters and I gobbled them up and eagerly asked for more. They quickly became the family favorite and the traditional dish on Boxing Day.

Now I make them for Christmas Day, as we have simplified the meal (and by simplify I mean reduce the amount of prep) on Christmas Day to allow more family time, and less time in the kitchen cooking. I have also adjusted the recipe to meet our dairy free requirements and they are just as delicious! In fact we have had a few guests over on Christmas Day and they are none the wiser (and also gobbling them up, in fact D’Wayne’s nephew requested the leftovers this year). D’Wayne too is also salivating as I am wrapping them up and putting them into the oven.

It is a fairly simple recipe, with some of the cooking being done easily in advance. I usually make the crepes a few days ahead (or if I am really organized earlier and freeze them), and the filling and final touches the day of the meal. Everybody loves them.

So if you are in need of a new yummy recipe for all the leftover turkey you have (or just want to try something new) definitely give this recipe a try!

Turkey Crepes

16-20 8″ crepes (recipe below)turkey

3c. cubed turkey

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

2 onions finely chopped

1 c. sliced mushrooms

1 clove garlic, minced

2 – 5 oz jars artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

3 c. shredded Daiya mozzarella

1 – 28 oz. can tomato sauce

1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. oregano

salt and pepper

Crepes:

4 eggsturkey

3/4 c. water

1/2 c. almond milk

1 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

Crepes:

Beat eggs and stir in flour. Add water, almond milk and salt, mixing until smooth. Refrigerate for 1 hour to let flour absorb liquid (can be left in fridge overnight if desired). Just before making crepes, melt Earth Balance in pan; stir excess butter into crepe batter. Batter should be consistency of light cream. If batter seems a bit thick blend in more water to get it to the right consistency.

Pour 1/4 c. of batter into pan and swirl to form a circle. Cook crepe until lightly browned, turn and cook other side for 1 minute. Repeat with remaining crepes. Stack cooked crepes between layers of wax paper until ready to use. Crepes can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time and kept wrapped in the fridge. Crepes may also be frozen for longer storage.

Makes 16- 20 crepes

Filling:

In a large skillet, melt Earth Balance over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender.  Add mushrooms and continue cooking until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in turkey and half the artichokes. Heat through, then remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place crepes on work surface with light colored sides up. Divide turkey mixture equally among crepes and roll up. Place crepes seam side down in a single layer in a greased 9×13 ovenproof dish.

In a medium size bowl, combine tomato sauce and remaining artichokes. Stir in basil and oregano and spoon over prepared crepes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

turkey

Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Serves 8

Festive Ham and Dairy Free Scallop Potatoes

IMG_4425Years ago we were away over Christmas for the first time ever, well not including university years or when we went somewhere else to visit. This was the first time we were not somewhere spending Christmas with other family or friends. We were in Australia, part of our 3 month stint back in 2007, and the beginning of a love affair with the Aussies (cause as you know we’ve been back since to Australia and there’s talk of going again).

This was the first time that we as a family were in a place where they was no family or friends to visit or stay with. We had no traditions that we had to uphold (not that there is anything wrong with traditions, everyone calls me a very traditional gal. I love them and uphold many, but there are times to break from or form new traditions) and no particular place that we needed to be. We were in Tasmania, the only island state in Australia, staying in Launceston at a lovely place called the Penny Royal Apartments (which are refurbished historical buildings turned into apartment accommodations). It was a lovely place.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (244)

Penny Royal Apartments

For Christmas, we kept it low key, enjoying a nice dinner on Christmas Eve and preparations for Santa Claus, with our paper tree and actual socks hung up for stockings. Christmas morning was even simpler with a present from Santa, some goodies in our stockings and a nice breakfast of french toast. Matthew was 4, and was super happy with his little Tonka trucks from Santa Claus and his few small gifts from us.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (246)We went to the beach for the day, we came back and went to a Christmas buffet at another local hotel. No one had to cook the big meal, no fuss, no muss, relaxing, easy. Simple. It was so nice because we got to spend time with each other, it was not about the toys and gifts, or the big Christmas dinner. There was no stress to have things perfect or a timeline to abide by. It was cool, it was authentic and was one of the best Christmases I have ever enjoyed.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (247)When we returned from Australia we decided to shift our focus, and make Christmas about the things we really want, which we had identified as being together, enjoying each other’s company, it didn’t matter what we were going to do. So we simplified things, we ordered pizza on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day we had turkey crepes (a fabulous dish made with leftover turkey, that is not only delicious but simple and can be made ahead of time, reducing time in the kitchen on Christmas Day). We still had a nice meal and used the nice dishes, we still exchanged gifts, but now no one was stuck in the kitchen all day making dinner. Which for was usually just us anyway and was all over in about 20 minutes. Now I make the big meal 2-3 weeks earlier, chop and freeze the turkey and toss the crepes together on Christmas day, takes maybe 30 minutes.

That being said I do love the spread at Christmas and I still love all the traditional items on the menu, like turkey and stuffing, ham and potatoes, with all the dressings. So I usually do a bigger meal a little bit before Christmas, when I have more time, less things competing for my time and can afford a day in the kitchen.

The beach Christmas Day 2007

The beach Christmas Day 2007

In fact just this past weekend I decided to make a ham and scallop potatoes, often a favorite on many Christmas dinner tables. I was so excited because this was the first time that I was making the scallop potatoes dairy free. I love scallop potatoes but for some reason since going dairy free I thought I couldn’t make them, that adjusting the recipe would be too complicated. I have no idea why I thought this, but for some reason the other day this ‘block’ lifted and I decided I could do it and what I would do. I knew exactly what I was going to do and what substitutes I was going to try.

Oh my goodness! The potatoes turned out so well. They were absolutely fabulous and I couldn’t believe that I had waited so long to adjust this recipe, or that I thought I couldn’t! It was really quite simple and easy (and in case you haven’t noticed I like simple and easy).

The ham was fabulous as well, I use my own mix to glaze and flavour the ham, though I have discovered that it is near impossible to find a ham that is not cured with sugar of some kind (at the moment anyway, I believe that will come). I ended up buying one from the local butcher, no hormones, no steriods, grain fed, but still cured in a brine that did contain a little bit of sugar, though the butcher assured me that it was much less than what you would find in the local grocery store. Rounded out with a nice green salad it was a fabulous meal and one that we all enjoyed. It was the first time the twins had scallop potatoes and though Luke rejected them because they looked different, once he tasted them, he gobbled them up.

So if you’re doing the Christmas spread this year and want to try a dairy free scallop potato recipe (you may have a lactose intolerant aunt who you can finally make a dish for) or have decided to keep it more simple (you could make the slow cooker version of these potatoes), enjoy yourselves, remember what is most important to you and make that your focus, when you do Christmas day will be perfect no matter what.

Glazed Ham

dry mustardIMG_4424

coconut sugar

water

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together to make a smooth paste. Be careful not to add too much water as you do not want it runny. Amounts of mustard and coconut sugar depend on preference for sweetness and tart, as well as size of ham. Spread mixture over ham. Place in covered roaster and roast for 2 hours at 350F for a 3.5 kg ham (increase or decrease cooking time according to size).

Scallop Potatoes

4 tbsp. Earth Balance vegan spread

4 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 c. coconut milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage, slightly thinner than regular coconut milk)

6 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly slicedIMG_4430

1 large onion, thinly sliced in rings

*optional 1/2 c. Daiya dairy free cheddar

In a medium saucepan melt Earth Balance. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Add coconut milk and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. If adding cheese stir into sauce.

Layer half of prepared potatoes and onions in large (2.5 quart) casserole dish, alternating a layer of potatoes, a layer of onion. Pour half the sauce over potatoes and onion. Layer the rest of the potatoes and onions the same way, then pour the rest of the sauce over top.

Bake covered at 350 F for 50 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 minutes more to brown slightly. Potatoes should be tender, sauce warm and bubbling.

Serves 6