Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mediterranean Marinated Chicken with Sumac Coriander Rice

I have to say Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cuisine is one of my favourite things to eat.  Fattoush, Shish Taouk, Tabouleh, Hummus, Kibbeh I love them all.  I’ve even had raw Kibbeh, yup that’s right raw ground beef.  One of my friends mother was from Lebanon and used to cook all these delicious foods and one day raw Kibbeh was on the menu so I gave it a try.  I honestly can’t remember what it was like but I have to assume since I was a fussy teenager at the time it must have been good or I wouldn’t have eaten it, or maybe I was just biding my time till dessert was served, which was most likely Baklava. 

This is a simple recipe but has a couple ingredients you may not have in your pantry Sumac and Za’atar.  Sumac can be found at the Bulk Barn.  I’ve found Za’atar in the specialty food section of the Superstore or you could find both at a specialty store.  Locally in Halifax there is the Mideast Food Center at the corner of North and Agricola. 

Sumac used in this recipe is not the same poisonous Sumac found in North America.  Sumac is reddish in colour and comes from berries that are found on a bush that grows wild across the Mediterranean.  Sumac has a tart flavour and is often used in place of lemon for the flavour without the acidity of citrus.  It is a source of antioxidants and is said to have antimicrobial properties as well as aid in digestion.

sumac zaatar

Za’atar is a blend of herbs and spices.  The mixture varies by region but usually contains Thyme, Marjoram, and Oregano.  Sumac and Sesame Seeds are other common additions.  One of the more common ways to use Za’atar is to mix it with olive oil and use as a dip for soft flat bread for a simple and tasty snack.

Mediterranean Marinated Chicken

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • small red onion thinly sliced,
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1 lemon cut in wedges
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp za’atar
  • 2 or 3 tbsp pine nuts toasted
  • 3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

Combine garlic, half the sliced onion, allspice, cinnamon, sumac, s & p, lemon wedges and chicken stock add chicken and marinate for at least a few hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 375.  Place chicken and marinade in a baking dish add remaining onion and sprinkle with za’atar.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Scatter pine nuts over top and continue cooking till juices run clear.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

med chicken4

Next time you’re in the grocery store have a look in the Specialty or International food section. You never know what yummy things you will find, and if you have  a specialty grocery store in your area stop in and have a look around the spices you will find there will be much more flavourful than you will find in the bottles at the grocery store.

~ Jackie

Check back for the Sumac Coriander Rice



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Homemade Nut Milk

It was back to work yesterday after my mini vacation.  It doesn’t matter how long a vacation is, it is just never long enough, although we are having another heat wave here and work does have A/C so it was a blessing in disguise.  I can’t believe the heat we’ve been having.  When I left work yesterday it was 36 degrees without the humidity.  I almost turned around and went back inside. 

The heat certainly isn’t inspiring me to get in the kitchen and cook so I thought I would do a post on something that doesn’t require turning on the stove.

I am lactose intolerant so before I discovered nut milk I used to use Lactose free milk but I have never really liked the taste of milk so I was quite happy to discover Almond milk a few years ago. I happily drank my store bought almond milk and then I saw how easy it is to make your own.  Who knew?! You don’t have to limit your choices to almonds. either If you like cashews or hazelnuts they work too.  I alternate between hazelnut and almond milk.  Almonds are a goitrogenic food and since I have thyroid disease I try to avoid overdoing those foods.

Aside from the fact that homemade nut milk tastes sooooo much better than store bought you can avoid carrageenan by making your own.   Carrageenan has been found to cause problems with our digestive system. You can check out my FB post on carrageenan here if you’d like some more info.

Homemade Nut Milk
  • 1 cup almonds (or your nut of choice)
  • 3 cups water for soaking
  • 3 – 4 cups water for processing
  • 2 dates pitted, and soaked (or maple syrup, honey, stevia) to sweeten
  • 1/2 vanilla bean ( or pure vanilla extract)
  • blender, nut milk bag (or layers of cheese cloth and sieve)
Soak nuts at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.  Drain water and rinse.  Add nuts and fresh water to your blender.  Blend till smooth. Pour the liquid in the nut milk bag or sieve with a couple layer of cheese cloth, and let drain.  If using the nut milk bag squeezing it through will speed up the process.  Return liquid to blender, add vanilla, and dates.  blend till combined. Store in a container in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.  Before using your yummy nut milk be sure to give it a shake as it will separate while in the fridge.  Other flavours to try – Chocolate and Coffee

nut milk1

I also make my nut milk in my juicer.  I know most people don’t have a juicer but if you do give it a try.  Follow the same procedure.  Soak the nuts discard the soaking water, rinse the nuts add 3 cups of fresh water and process through your juicer.  I find when I use the juicer there is much less pulp left in the milk.
nut milk2 

If you’re thinking it’s a waste to just throw out the pulp, you can use it in your baking for some added flavour. Just store it in a Ziploc bag in your freezer. 

Have a great week! 
~ Jackie


Friday, July 12, 2013

Water,It Doesn`t Have To Be Boring

Happy Friday everyone!!  Last week here in Nova Scotia we had quite the heat wave.  Personally I don`t enjoy the heat and humidity, and find temperatures up around 40 degrees rather brutal.  I function much better when the weather is cooler.

So given the heat and the fact that my cooking mojo has yet to return I have some quick and easy ideas to make your water a little more flavourful.  Skip the commercial water flavouring products.  Here are some of the tasty ingredients you`ll find in them mio_group
Propylene Glycol (aka antifreeze) what is used in our food is pharmaceutical grade as opposed to industrial grade, but that being said it is still the same product just a lesser strength.  Besides food products, you can find it in mascara, hair dye, shampoo, nail polish and many more. I don`t know about you but I don`t like the idea of the same ingredient that`s in nail polish in the food I`m eating. Thank`s but I`ll pass.
You will also find artificial sweeteners, various dyes, and I like this one on the ingredient list, contains less than 2% natural flavours.

In case you haven`t heard how important it is to consume water, here are a few reasons.  Your body needs water to function properly.  It is used to regulate temperature, digest your food, and help your blood flow better (when you are chronically dehydrated your blood becomes thicker). As a result of the blood being thicker your body has to work harder to push it through your veins.  This in turn can increase your blood pressure.  It keeps your joints and connective tissues hydrated.  When they are dry and brittle they are prone to injury.

Those are just a few of the reasons why water is important, but let`s face it plain old water can be boring, so here are a few suggestions to add a little yumminess to plain old water.

Homemade Flavoured Water

Watermelon and Rosemary
Lemon Ginger
Watermelon cubes Lemon slices Pineapple cubes Fresh ginger grated
small sprig of Rosemary Lime slices Cherries fresh mint leaves
fresh mint leaves Orange slices fresh chocolate mint leaves or regular mint leaves cucumber slices
Orange slice Drizzle of pure maple syrup lemon slices

Add ingredients in the amounts you think you would like.  I crushed the mint in the containers before adding the rest of the ingredients to release the oils and bring out the flavour.  You can also crush (muddle) some of the fruit as well to release the flavours.  They are best if you let them sit for a few hours or overnight so the flavour can develop.
IMG_0876        IMG_0875
Here is another natural water flavour enhancer for you  Terra Beata juices.  You can find Terra Beata farms in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  If you`re in the area you can stop in any time.  In addition to their juices you will find, preserves, dried fruit and frozen cranberries.  It is also the first and only cranberry U-pick in Nova Scotia.  The U-pick opens on Thanksgiving weekend so if you`re in the area stop in and get some yummy fresh cranberries for the holidays.

You can find their juice (Cranberry, Blueberry, Tart Cherry and Cran-Raspberry) on the shelves in the juice aisle at the Superstore.  One 473ml bottle can make 1 or 2 L of flavoured water.
There you have it, just some ideas to make drinking water a little more interesting. Please share any flavour combinations you like.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Strawberry Muffins


It’s been awhile since I actually sat down and wrote a blog post.  I haven’t been totally absent from the online world though, I’ve been posting on the FB page for the blog.  So if you think I’ve gone amongst the missing hop on over and like the FB page.

Back to work after a very soggy Canada Day long weekend.  There wasn’t too much excitement here, Saturday started with a trip to the market.  I was on a mission to find local Valley strawberries.  Nothing says summer than some juicy fresh strawberries.  I found some spray free berries from Annapolis and oh my they were good.  Notice I said were…that would be because they are all gone. IMG_0848

We have a few Farmers Markets around here Alderney Landing, Halifax Seaport Market, Musquodoboit, and The Brewery Market.  Farmers Markets are bursting with fresh local produce this time of year.  Besides the local produce  being far more flavourful than what you pick up at the grocery store, shopping at local markets supports our local farmers.  Why would you choose to buy flavourless hard strawberries from the US or Mexico that were picked, who knows how long ago, when our local berries, the best berries you can find, are in season. 

My friends brother posted this recipe on FB and they looked so yummy I had to make a batch.  I changed up a couple of ingredients ( coconut sugar for some of the white sugar, coconut oil for half of the butter and almond milk for cows milk)  I wanted to use spelt flower but I couldn’t find it.  I’m assuming it’s at the bottom of the deep freeze and I couldn’t be bothered to dig everything out to find it.


  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 2 cups organic unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 3 tsp organic sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture. Add vanilla. Gently stir in strawberries.

Spoon batter into muffin pans. (It will be a thick batter)

Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over muffins.

Bake at 400ยบ for 20-25 minutes (makes 12 muffins)


So head on out to your local farmers market this weekend and support our local farmers!



~ Jackie