the ultimate burger

To ring in our wedding anniversary and the Hubs' birthday I pulled out all the stops. No fancy gifts or overpriced restaurant food, just a bottle of wine (mummy has a headache), our backyard and delicious homemade grub!

The menu was very guy-friendly and included "The Ultimate Burger" from a recipe in the LCBO BBQ Central magazine, grilled corn on the cob and a simple arugula salad. For something sweet I baked a flourless chocolate torte (courtesy of Gluten Free Girl) garnished with raspberries (to die for!). You can't have a birthday dinner without a cake right?!

Want to pull this meal together yourself for the long weekend? Here you go...

The Ultimate Burger

You'll need:

  • 2 lbs of ground chuck (have it ground at your local butcher, the supermarket ground beef is too fine for these burger heavyweights)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Salami
  • Arugula
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Provolone cheese
  • BBQ Sauce (I suggest you make your own and I've included the recipe below)
  • Buns

Then you:

  1. Divide meat into 4 equal portions and pack into a loosely packed patty.
  2. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill patties on high for about 3-4 minutes per side or until just cooked (you want them to be juicy).
  4. Top burger with grilled salami, provolone cheese, arugula, cherry tomatoes and BBQ sauce.

BBQ sauce is a hot item in our house and a recipe that the Hubs is constantly trying to perfect. I found this recipe in the same LCBO magazine and I hate to say it, but it was the tastiest BBQ sauce yet.

Here's what you need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dark beer

Then you:

  1. Heat olive oil on low and brown garlic cloves for 10 minutes
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil on medium heat.
  3. Reduce to one cup, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and using a hand blender, pulverize until smooth.

Worth the effort!

Happy long weekend everyone!!!




lost that gluten feeling

Sluggish. Bloated. Tired. That's how I've been feeling. Partly because I have a 6 month old, but my diet is also contributing to this general feeling of malaise. I eat healthy (or so I thought), but always know I can eat healthier. So, in an effort to determine if I was becoming what I ate I challenged myself to a week of gluten free eating with The Hubs (willingly) in tow.

What did that mean exactly? Well, think of all of your favourite foods (baked goods, pasta, pizza, cereal, bread, beer, chips) and say bye, bye. I knew this diet would take some planning ahead so I took to the internet to get a shopping list and easy to grab foods to prepare for our gluten fast. Gluten Free Girl and the Chef is a wicked resource and there are tons of other websites that offer gluten free recipes (thank God!).

Breakfast was the most difficult meal because I basically eat one big ball of gluten for breaky every day (granola with yogurt and toast with Nutella or PB). In an effort to stay away from eating eggs every morning I found a recipe using quinoa and almond milk in an old Style at Home magazine, of all places.  This recipe became my go-to gluten free breakfast and I like it so much that I'm going to stick with it (it sure sticks with me, har har).

We experimented with buckwheat pancakes (interesting), buckwheat pizza dough (don't try this at home kids), brown rice pasta (a little sticky, but edible), rice bread (Food For Life - amazing!) and chickpea curry.

Was it all worth it? Yep! All week I had more energy, no bloating, a clearer head, and I felt light on my feet. I also ate WAY more fruits and veggies because when I wanted to grab a snack that's all I could really have. The only problem was that I never felt truly satisfied. I don't plan on staying gluten free forever (God help me!) but it was a wake up call to the amount of gluten I ingest on a daily basis and a good reminder to alter my eating habits.

If you want to give it a go, here are a few recipes:

Quinoa Cereal

You'll need:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • almond milk
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar (if you don't like sweet stuff, cut this in half)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 banana
  • handful almonds

Then you:

  1. Bring pot of cold water to a boil, add 1 cup quinoa and boil for 12 minutes. Strain quinoa and place in a bowl.
  2. Mix quinoa with brown sugar and vanilla.
  3. Spoon quinoa mixture into bowls and add chopped banana and almonds. Pour in almond milk.
  4. I add a sprinkle of cinnamon too!

I just made a big batch and kept it in the fridge so I wasn't cooking up quinoa every morning. Deelish!

Buckwheat Pizza Dough - this recipe calls for tapioca flour, but I didn't have any so I substituted with cornstarch. Tapioca flour is a binder/thickening ingredient so cornstarch does the same thing. He also recommends grilling the veggie toppings beforehand but I didn't bother. The pizza was good, but obviously nothing like the real thing.

Buckwheat pancakes - this is a really tasty alternative to the quinoa cereal. The buckwheat has a distinct nutty flavour, but if you smother the pancakes with maple syrup and banana you feel like you're eating evil white flour pancakes. I would totally make these again.

Peanut Butter cookies - by about day 3 I was pining for a cookie so I made these gluten free peanut butter cookies from the Gluten Free Girl blog. They are amazing and the only ingredients are sugar, peanut butter, egg and baking powder. So easy!

I broke my week-long fast last night with a feast of pizza from Pizzeria Libretto (yum!) but unfortunately I suffered the consequences (tummy ache!).

Happy gluten free dieting everyone and please share your recipes if you have any.