Monday, July 25, 2011

Rogue Valley Produce and Basil Pesto - Without Pine Nuts

Last week we travelled south to the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon. It was mainly a business trip but Shawn's family lives there so we were lucky to be able to visit with them while we were in the area.

It's late July and after a long spring here in the northwest, local produce is finally getting a move on! Shawn's mother Vicki and his stepfather Jim, have a beautiful piece of property scattered with fresh herbs, vegetables, fruit trees, flowers and grape vines. It's a little piece of paradise. You instantly relax when you arrive.

I brought my camera along with the intent to document some of my favourite things in Vicki's garden. A bit of photography practice for the photography challenged! I was also fortunate to leave with a big bag of fresh garlic and basil. You'll find the recipe for my Basil Pesto at the bottom of the post.

Enjoy the pictures. I hope they bring a bit of the beautiful Rogue Valley to your home. :)

English Ivy, wild Wine Grapes and tall Maple Trees create a secret hideaway down by the stream.
Fresh Garlic right from the ground - boy are we lucky!
Fragrant Garlic
Picture Perfect Pears :)
Lemon Balm - Vicki has giant bushes of this everywhere.
Patty Pan Squash
Fuzzy Peaches! 
Squash Blossoms 
Sunflowers - Do they make you as happy as they make me?
Tomatoes - Just a little more heat and they'll be ready to go!

Fragrant Sweet Peas
Wild Wine Grapes!! We don't know the varietal yet - we'll have to check back in the fall.
Cacti Blossoms - A gorgeous plant you wouldn't expect.
Shawn and nephew Wade picking apples :)
Apples - Just begging to be picked
Fields of Lavender
Fresh Basil
Fresh Basil,  bagged and ready to be taken home to make pesto! Without pine nuts that is. Pine nuts are like gold. Their price per ounce is ridiculous! I use either cashews or almonds and believe me, you won't notice the difference. The peppery basil and fragrant garlic are the stars of this pesto!

Basil Pesto without Pine Nuts

  • 2 cups of fresh basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of almonds or cashews
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup of olive oil (I use canola....gasp! I know! But it's cheaper and we still think the pesto is delicious)
  • 1/2 cup of grated aged parmesan cheese
  • *salt and pepper to taste (optional - I get enough salt from the nuts)
  1. Add basil, garlic, lemon juice, and nuts to a food processor. Pulse until chopped. While pulsing, pour the 1/2 cup of oil into the opening at the top of the food processor slowly. Process until smooth and all ingredients are fully incorporated. I always start with just a 1/2 cup of oil and add more gradually if the pesto needs it.
  2. Add the cheese and pulse 1 or 2 times for a few seconds.
  3. Serve on top of pasta, fresh bread (sandwiches) or pizza dough (pesto pizza). Remember with pesto - a little goes a long way :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

10 Barrel Brewing Co. Review and Beer of the Month

10 Barrel Brewing Company
Amazingly yummy Pineapple Beer from 10 Barrel
So my husband and I along with our friends, finally made it to 10 Barrel Brewing Company.

My first reaction was, "Wow this is an awesome building!" The pub has large garage-type doors that were opened out onto a patio just as large, if not larger than the interior. The patio was stocked with a giant fire pit in the middle. The theme was urban with a rustic alpine edge. It was so Bend :)

My second reaction was "OMG it's soooooo busy!" The pub was PACKED! It was a Friday evening, but still, with so many brew pubs here in Bend it was like everyone decided to skip downtown and head to the west side.

Hubby managed to snag us a table outside in little time and our server was prompt with the menus and knowledgeable about the beers on tap. It was so busy that day that unfortunately 2 of their taps were sold out. One being a nitro (poor Shawn!) but there were lots of others to choose from.

I chose a fresh crushed pineapple infused brew. I LOVED it! It smelled like pineapple and tasted like pineapple. A truly unique beer perfect for beating the mid-summer heat!

The food was also great. I had a tomato, mozzarella, and basil sandwich on foccacia. It was so good that I would have eaten two! Shawn had a turkey pesto sandwich he said it was exceptional. Our friends loved their food as well. I didn't like the shoestring fries they serve.  It was like the potato was fried out of existence. This is odd for me. I rarely get fries because they are so unhealthy so when I do order them I devour them. Next time I'll fork out the extra 2 bucks for a side salad. Shawn really liked the fries so it might just be a matter of taste and not quality.

Overall we really loved 10 Barrel. The unfortunate lack of Happy Hour and the expensive pints ($6.00*) will keep us from being regulars. But we will definitely be back with friends, family and for special night outs.

*update: 10 Barrel has $4.00 standard taps all day. The pineapple IPA I chose was from their "Big Handle" series which cost $6.00 a pint.

10 Barrel Brewing Company
1135 NW Galveston, Bend OR 97701

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ground Beef Meat Rolls - A Success!

Successful Ground Beef Meat Rolls
My last attempt at Meat Rolls didn't turn out as expected. But I didn't follow the recipe for the dough correctly so I couldn't blame the recipe until I tried it again. So I did! And it turned out delicious!!

I followed the dough instructions faithfully but changed up the ground beef a bit. I found the seasonings rather bland so I kicked it up a notch. I loved these so much that I could eat them with plain with no sauce, but I didn't because they were even better with salsa! The only word that I could come up with to describe them was exotic. There not like pizza, or a hamburger, or a sandwich of any sort...they are their own category. Which pleases me because I'm always looking for ways to use up our mountain of ground beef tucked away in our deep freeze.

Meat Rolls
adapted from Sandra's Easy Cooking

Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 and 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbs of dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 and 1/3 cup of warm water

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1  pound of ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • 1 shredded carrot
  • 1 tbsp of onion powder
  • 1 tbsp of garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp of BBQ sauce (recipe here)
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • Cream cheese for spread at room temperature (I used a mix of cottage cheese and cheddar)


  1. Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in 2 cup measuring cup. Let it sit until the yeast is activated and frothy, about 5 minutes. Add the canola oil and salt to the yeast mixture. 
  2. Put the flour in a large bowl and make a well. Pour the yeast mixture into the well. Using your hands, mix together until a ball is formed - resist the urge to mix the dough too much. Don't knead the dough. Just mix until combined and form into a ball. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and turn to coat the dough evenly with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.
  3. Place ground beef into a medium bowl and add all of the filling ingredients with the exception of the cream cheese. Mix together with your hands like you would if you were making hamburgers. the dough...don't overwork the meat. Just mix until combined. 
  4. Place the ground beef mixture into a deep pan and cook on medium heat until the beef is cooked thoroughly and is no longer pink.
  5. Once the dough is risen, punch down and form the dough into balls just smaller than a baseball.
  6. Roll out each ball into a 7 inch long and 4 inch wide rectangle. Spread cream cheese all over the dough. Fill with meat mixture but leave room along the edges of the dough so that you can pinch the seams tightly together.
  7. Place on parchment paper on baking sheet and bake in an oven preheated to 375F. Bake these for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven when done and cover with a clean dry towel for 10 minutes.
  9. Serve as an appetizer or as dinner with a side salad. Salsa is a great dipping sauce for these.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Applesauce Cake

Applesauce Cake
I recently bought a giant can of unsweetened applesauce with the intent to use it to bake with. After consuming it by the bowlful for a week (I'd forgotten how delicious applesauce was!) I hunkered down and set out to find a unique recipe to bake it in. While surfing the net I came across a recipe for applesauce bars. It looked delicious but the cinnamon and nutmeg screamed fall to me. Luckily yesterday was unseasonably cool. We turned on our pretty gas fireplace in the early evening and I excitedly went about preparing our favourite cool weather dinner that we haven't had for months, Balsamic Chicken. While reaching for an onion in the fridge I glanced at my giant tub of applesauce and saw an opportunity. Warm weather was due back soon, so I decided to bake a little fall for dessert that evening.

Fall tastes really yummy.

Don't tell summer.  ;-)

Applesauce Cake
adapted from Allrecipes


  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of butter softened or canola oil or butter substitute
  • 1 cup of whole wheat AP flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of applesauce
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Mix the egg, brown sugar, and butter together in a large bowl until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and spices to the bowl and stir. Once the batter starts to look dry add the applesauce. The applesauce will add immediate moisture. Mix well until batter is smooth.
  • Pour into a prepared 9 inch cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Cool in pan on a rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar. 
  • This cake is light, moist and full of just the right about of spice...enjoy!
Applesauce Cake

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chocolate Covered Banana Bites

Chocolate Covered Banana Bites
We are all about bananas in this household. We buy on average 8 bunches of bananas a month. This past month was higher...we bought 10 bunches!!

Why do we buy soooooo many bananas you ask? Well I use them for breads, muffins, cakes, granola bars, ice cream, smoothies, sorbets, and Banana Bites... Shawn's favourite treat. We also work-out a lot and we like to load up on potassium to keep our muscles in good condition. So bananas are incredibly multi-purpose, healthy, and when you buy them at Costco they are dirt cheap. I just wait for all those bunches to ripen then I slice them up into rounds about 1/2 an inch thick and a freeze them. Once frozen they can keep for a long time, way longer than it would ever take you to use them up. For using them in your baking just thaw desired amount of bananas in the microwave and they mash up super easy. Use them in their frozen form for smoothies, ice cream, sorbets and of course Banana Bites. 

In our freezer at any given time we will have 4 large tupperware containers containing frozen bananas...2 containers of Banana Bites and 2 containers of naked sliced bananas. :-)

What are these Banana Bites I keep mentioning? Well they are frozen pieces of banana covered in a chocolate coating and topped with a few peanuts. They are a cool, refreshing, bite-sized treat that is a healthy alternative to those chocolate covered ice-cream bars that ooze fat and calories. The banana flavor is not very pronounced in these. When you bite into frozen banana the flavor and texture is akin to vanilla ice cream. Not exactly vanilla ice cream, but almost! 

Chocolate Covered Banana Bites

  • 1 bunch of bananas, cut into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces (too thick and these treats are hard to bite into), and frozen on a wax paper lined baking sheet
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping tbsp of smooth peanut butter
  • peanuts, almonds, etc for garnish
  1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper
  2. Heat up the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a sauce pan on low heat. Sir until smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. Drop a frozen banana piece into the hot chocolate/peanut butter mixture. Using two spoons coat the piece in chocolate (be as neat or messy as you want) and place on the baking sheet. Take a peanut or two and place on top. 
  4. Continue until the chocolate mixture is finished. Sometimes I need to reheat the chocolate near the end to make it more spreadable. Place chocolate covered bananas in the freezer and freeze for about an hour. Remove from sheet and place in a freezer safe container and store in your freezer. 
  5. Store any unused banana pieces in your freezer as well. These you can use for smoothies, ice cream or baking at a later time. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pulled Pork Fajitas

Pulled Pork Fajitas
Time for another recipe that uses leftover pulled pork!

If you've made pulled pork you know the vast amounts of leftovers you deal with. I tackle those leftovers by freezing leftover pork in small freezer bags so I can defrost just the right amount of pork to add to curry, pad thai, enchiladas, or.....fajitas! Ole!

This meal is quick, easy, and can be made entirely outside on your BBQ if you have a cast iron skillet or a burner. I made this meal outside on a 90 degree day, keeping the heat outside and our kitchen cool. :)

Pulled Pork Fajitas

This recipe is scaled to serve 4.

  • 8-10 flour tortillas (recipe here)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cooked pulled pork (we go light on the pork and pile on the veggies) (recipe here)
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp of red chili flakes (optional - for some heat)
  • 1 tbsp of canola oil
  • enchilada sauce for topping (recipe here) 
  • 1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup of salsa
  1. Heat up your cast iron skillet or frying pan and add the oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook for about 4 minutes until they start to get tender. Add the pork and the garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and red chili flakes. Toss everything together and cook for anther 2 minutes or so, until the pork is hot and tender.
  2. Top tortillas with desired amount of  pork mixture and add a dollop of enchilada sauce.  You can also add fresh diced tomatoes, salsa, sour cream or cheese but I love the simplicity of only using my homemade enchilada sauce. 
  3. Serve with a can of black beans, drained, rinsed and cooked in 1/4 cup of salsa. (I had some left over rice in my fridge that I added to my beans)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chinese Lemon Chicken

Chinese Lemon Chicken
I love lemon chicken! It's one of my favourite Chinese takeout items. So it won't come as a surprise when I tell you that this recipe was born from my first attempt at making 'takeout at home', well over a year and a half ago. I was living in a new city that lacked good Chinese food so I thought, "Why not make it myself"? It turned out so well that the meal changed my views on takeout and my own eating habits. Yes you CAN make it at home! It WILL taste better and it will most definitely be HEALTHIER! 30 pounds later I can definitely attest that making your food yourself makes you much more aware of what you are putting in your body. Once you realize this, changing your eating habits and losing weight becomes much easier. 

Not only is this dish special because it was the first ever Asian recipe I mastered, but it is also has the honor of being the first meal I prepared for my then boyfriend and now husband Shawn. Lemon chicken brings nothing but good memories and full tummies in this household :)

Lemon Chicken
by Kaitlyn McFadden

  • 2 large chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces 
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp honey 
  • Large bowl 
Let the chicken hang out in the marinade in the bowl for at least 30 mins in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap.

  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup cornstarch 
  • ½ tsp baking powder 
  • Pinch of sea salt and white pepper (black is fine) 
  • Transfat free oil for the skillet/wok 
Beat the egg in a small bowl and add to the bowl of marinated chicken. Stir and toss to coat. Add the salt and pepper to the cornstarch and sprinkle the cornstarch on top of the chicken a little at a time. Toss the chicken in-between cornstarch sprinkles to coat the chicken evenly. Once fully coated, using tongs, pick up the chicken piece by piece, allowing excess egg batter to drip back into the bowl, and place into a large heated and lightly oiled skillet/wok. Give each piece some room in the skillet to prevent them from sticking together. Brown the chicken on both sides and then reduce heat to low and cover with a pot lid until the chicken is fully cooked.

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice or the juice from one whole lemon (I add an extra tbsp because I like it extra lemony) 
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 1 ½ tbsp cornstarch 
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil 
  • 3 slices of lemon (optional) 
  • 2-3 drops of yellow food colouring (optional) 
Combine ingredients (minus the food colouring) and heat in saucepan until thickened. Add the food colouring once thickened.

Serve :
I serve this all in one pretty glass bowl in a layered “Trifle-Style”. I add the cooked brown rice to the bottom of the bowl. Then I add the chicken as the next layer and pour the sauce evenly over top of the chicken. Set on the table with a serving spoon and everyone can dig into lemony-chicken goodness!

It's Lemon Chicken for dinner tonight! BTW we love our bowls Aunt Cindy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thick and Creamy Hummus without Tahini (New and Improved)

Thick and Creamy Hummus without Tahini (My new and improved recipe!)
I already posted a recipe for Hummus without Tahini but after making it almost daily in this heat, I decided that the recipe could use some work. It wasn't thick enough - I like my hummus to be almost spreadable. And it just needed more *umpf* in the flavour department. So I've reworked it and I love the end result. I think you will too! However if you still like the old recipe you can find it here (Old Hummus without Tahini Recipe)

Thick and Creamy Hummus without Tahini

  • 1 15oz can of garbanzo/chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (I use canola)
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder (Sometimes I add a little extra if I want extra garlic flavour)
  • 1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter
  • sea salt, black pepper, and diced red pepper for garnish (optional)
  • Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until thick and creamy. Top with a sprinkling of sea salt, black pepper and diced red pepper. Dig in! :)
Thick and Creamy Hummus without Tahini - it rhymes!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Healthier Low Calorie Frosting and a TruWhip Review

Yummy and natural TruWhip
TruWhip ready to be consumed!
I don't really like frosting. Yep. There, I said it. I'll eat a piece of cake or a cupcake with frosting on it and like it. But if I go for seconds I usually scrape the frosting off. It's just too much! Frosting really is just butter mixed with sugar you know! Frankly it grosses me out to even think about it.

That's why I have always adored Cool-Whip. It's light and looks like frosting, without all that butter and calories.

For the 4th of July I made cupcakes and I wanted to frost them with frosting of course! But I really didn't want to waste 2 sticks of butter on a dessert that would only be consumed by the two of us. So I decided to make my trusty "low-calorie" pudding frosting. This frosting requires a box of instant pudding mix and a tub of Cool Whip. I was feeling very proud of my decision until Shawn reminded me that Cool Whip was full of high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and chemicals. We no longer consume products that contain those ingredients!

Well, when I was at the grocery store I checked out the Cool Whip anyway and yes, the ingredients are pretty much as bad as you can imagine. But right next to the Cool Whip I saw another product called TruWhip.

Unlike Cool Whip, TruWhip contains natural ingredients! No hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup, and no trans fat! This is a 100% natural and 70% organic product for only about a dollar more. Thank you healthy-eating gods!!

I bought a 10oz tub. Took it home. Defrosted it in the fridge. Took the lid off. Licked the lid of its contents. :-)

This product tastes AMAZING! It has the Cool Whip texture and lightness without the chemical aftertaste. Simply said, it tastes natural!

Healthier Low Calorie Frosting - blue for Independence Day!

Healthier Low Calorie Frosting
by Kaitlyn McFadden


  • 1 small 4 serving size natural instant pudding product (Like Dr.Oetkers) (It can be in any flavor but go with vanilla, coconut or white chocolate if you want to dye your frosting a different colour)
  • Soy milk or skim milk (in amount stated in pudding directions)
  • One 8-10oz tub of TruWhip
  1. Prepare the pudding as stated in the directions on the box.
  2. Mix in the TruWhip well.
  3. At this point you may dye the frosting the colour you prefer or skip that step and cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  4. Remove from fridge and pipe or frost as desired onto cakes or cupcakes. This frosting contains milk products so any cake or cupcake that contains this frosting should be refrigerated. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Healthy Snickerdoodle Cake

Healthy Snickerdoodle Cake
Healthy Snickerdoodle Cake
I've recently discovered a food blogger called Chocolate Covered Katie. She remakes all your favourite guilty pleasures into healthy guilt-free treats. I decided to try her recipe for snickerdoodle blondies as I had all the ingredients. FYI: the main ingredient in these is..........chickpeas!! How fabulous is that?!

It turned out great! I don't have a 8x8 square pan so I used my 9 inch round cake pan and decided to call my snickerdoodle blondies, Snickerdoodle Cake.

I loved it, especially after I chilled the snickerdoodle slices in the fridge. Shawn, on the other hand, didn't know what to think of them. He said that they tasted like something he's had before but couldn't quite pinpoint. Hmmm can you say...snickerdoodle cookies! Sheesh!

Anyway. After eating a third of the pie he suddenly decided that he didn't like it. Fine! More for me ;-)

There is a weird texture to them. Obviously the texture is going to be different than flour, egg, and butter based snickerdoodle blondies because you are replacing all those ingredients with beans! So the texture is different but I think the taste is amazing!

I can't wait to try a few more of her recipes. I just need to stock up on some more applesauce first!

Healthy Snickerdoodle Cake
from Chocolate Covered Katie

  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsps of a nut butter (I just subbed applesauce to reduce fat)
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of ground flax (I subbed with whole wheat flour)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt **optional - I omitted it
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of applesauce
  • a dash of cream of tartar
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Pour into a 9 inch cake pan or 8x8 square pan lined with parchment paper
  3. Bake in the center of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. You want them to look slightly undercooked when you remove them from the oven as they firm as they cool. 
  4. Cool completely. I like to refrigerate before serving. 
Healthy Snickerdoodle Cake - ready to be sliced

Friday, July 1, 2011

Red Velvet Pancakes

Red Velvet Pancakes
Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!

To celebrate this morning I made some red velvet pancakes. They were kind of a second thought. I had decided earlier this week to make raspberry stuffed vanilla cupcakes topped with swirly red and white frosting then top the extras with blue and white frosting for July 4th. Then I thought, July 4th is Monday. I don't want to make two desserts over one weekend. There is only two of us after-all. So this morning I decided last minute to make red velvet pancakes for Canada Day and save the cupcakes for Independence Day.

Because it was a quick decision and we were in a rush to finish breakfast and get out in the kayak before the river got crowed, I only took a few pictures. ALL OF THEM, with the exception of this one, were out of focus....bleh!

So don't judge too harshly. I really am trying to improve my pictures. :)

The recipe I used was okay. I have adapted it for you in a way that I think improves the end result greatly. These pancakes are sweet with a hint of chocolate, just like red velvet cake! I think these are a perfect special occasion pancake or something special and out of the ordinary to serve guests.


Red Velvet Pancakes
by Kaitlyn McFadden

Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups of AP flour
  • 2 tbsp and 1 tsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp of baking powder

Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups of prepared milk (Prepared milk: 1 1/4 cups of milk or soy milk mixed with 1 tbsp and 1/2 tsp of white vinegar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp of butter melted
  • 2 tsp of red food colouring

  1. Make the prepared milk and set it aside.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix together well. Make a well.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to a medium bowl or large measuring cup and whisk together.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients to the well of dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Do not over mix.
  5. Cook on a prepared skillet preheated to a medium temperature. Cook for about 5 minutes then flip and cook for another 2-3. 
  6. Makes about 10-12 medium-large sized pancakes. I halved the recipe and got 5 pancakes out of it. I had two and was full.