Kitchen Frau Weekly Meal Plan

food bloggers of canada menu plan image

 

My weekly menu plan has been featured over at Food Bloggers of Canada this week. I’ve put together seven days of easy gluten-free meals to give you a break from meal planning – or just to give you some ideas for one or more of your family dinners for any day of the week. There are links to a variety of different meals: a slow cooker meal, a 10-minute meal, a vegetarian option, a casual summer entertaining menu. If you use the menu this week, or save it for when the busy back-to-school crunch starts, I hope you find new family favourites to add to your cooking repertoire.

I love how easy it is to make healthy, flavour-packed meals when you use fresh vegetables, meats, and lots of herbs to wake up weary tastebuds. You won’t even miss the gluten, and you might just discover a whole new way to feel and cook.

If you’ve been thinking of trying to eliminate or reduce gluten in your food, this is an easy way to start. If you’re a veteran to this way of cooking, here’s a chance to enjoy the last few weeks of summer, and let me do the thinking for you. There’s even a link to a handy printable grocery list.

Here’s the link to my meal plan over at FBC.

Let me know how it goes!

Guten Appetit!

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Wowee! Watermelon Salsa

watermelon salsa

Don’t you love it when old (not in age or spirit – just in the fact we’ve known them since high school!) friends drop in to visit?

This past weekend we had  a lovely unplanned barbecue with Don and Shirley (actually, Raymond and Don have been friends since elementary school – and got into lots of escapades together – my lips are sealed) and their absolutely adorable and smiley little grandson. There was much laughter and storytelling and catching-up to do. It feels so good when the years in between just drop away and you are with friends.

And to add some icing to the cake, Shirley walked in carrying a beautiful carved watermelon shell holding . . . watermelon salsa.

watermelon salsa

Watermelon + Salsa. I would never have thought to put those two words together, but woweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It was a hit. We attacked it like pyrhanas, and good thing we did, because the leftovers that we packed away in the fridge were devoured by the resident teenager before we could get another taste, so I had to go ahead and make a batch for us again the next day, while the memory of it was still fresh on my taste buds.

Pippa wants some watermelon salsaPippa gets some watermelon salsa

There’s enough of our gorgeous summer left that you might want to make this refreshing and stunning dish for your next get-together . . . or maybe just for yourselves.

I even served the watermelon salsa as a side salad to our grilled fish the other night, and it was so light and zesty – the perfect accompaniment.

The fancy bowl is optional, but makes it even more fun to eat!

watemelon salsa and chips

* * * * *

watermelon for salsa

Kitchen Frau Notes: The size of the watermelon doesn’t have to be exact here. The flavour would still be the same with a little more or less of the chopped fruit – you can always add a squirt more or less of lime juice. I used half of about a 12 lb/5.5kg watermelon.

Shirley said she didn’t have fresh garlic, so she used garlic salt. You could substitute the garlic and the salt in the recipe for 1 teaspoon garlic salt. She sprinkled half of it into the scooped out shell before adding back the salsa, and the other half was mixed into the salsa.

The onion was also my addition, but I think it added a nice counterpart to the sweetness and balanced out the garlic flavours. You can omit it if you like.

I used the jalapeno without the seeds, for a mild salsa with just a little kick. If you want a spicier salsa, add a few of the seeds (or all of them) to the mix.

watermelon salsa

Fresh Watermelon Salsa

  • ½ of a medium-sized watermelon
  • ¼ of a small onion, finely minced (about ¼ cup/60ml)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 juicy limes
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • ¼ cup packed cilantro leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • taco chips or crackers to serve, or toasted pita triangles, or plain rice crackers

carving the watermelon for salsa

Cut the watermelon in half either the long way or the short way, to get either a round ‘bowl’ or a flatter, oval one. With a large metal spoon, scoop the flesh out of the watermelon half, leaving ¼ to ½ inch (1 cm) of the pink flesh attached to the rind for a colourful effect.

Carve triangles out of the cut edge to make a zig-zag border for the top of your watermelon ‘bowl’. Test how stable the watermelon shell is – if it needs it, trim a thin slice of peel off the rounded end so that it sits flat. Don’t trim off too much, or your bowl will leak. Set the watermelon ‘bowl’ upside-down on a plate to drain while you make the rest of the salsa.

Trim the watermelon flesh from the discarded triangles, and add it to the reserved scooped-out flesh.

chopped watermelon for salsa

Pick out any dark seeds from the watermelon. Working in small batches, chop the watermelon flesh into small, pea-sized pieces. This ends up being a drippy job as the watermelon releases its juices. Tilt the cutting board into the sink to drain off the liquid between batches. Place the chopped watermelon into a colander to drain. (Save the juice when it’s finished draining – add a squeeze of fresh lime juice, a squirt of agave nectar or honey and serve it over ice as a refreshing drink. A shot of tequila turns it into a cocktail!)

chopping watermelon for salsa

The longer the watermelon drains, the better it is. Half hour is the minimun, but if you can plan for it to drain for an hour, that is better. Every now and then during draining, shake the colander to release more juice.

ingredients for watermelon salsa

Chop the onion finely and place it into a large bowl. Add the garlic clove, either pressed, or finely minced. Finely grate the zest of both limes over the top, and squeeze on the lime juice. By doing this first and letting it sit for a while, the lime juice pickles the onions and garlic and takes the bite right out of them.

Chop the green pepper finely and put it on top of the macerating onions in the bowl, but don’t stir it in.

Remove the seeds and stem from the jalapeno, mince the flesh and add it to the bowl. Chop the cilantro leaves and add them, sprinkle with the salt.

Just before serving, add the drained chopped watermelon to the lime juice/vegetables and stir to combine all the ingredients. Spoon the salsa into the watermelon shell bowl.

You will probably only fit about half of the salsa into the shell. Refill the shell as needed (it won’t be too long).

Makes about 6 cups (1.5l) watermelon salsa or summer side salad.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Chili-Lime Jicama Salad

Pico de Gallo Salsa Three Ways

Cooling Watermelon-Lime Ice

Watermelon Pickles

Ruby Red Fruit Salad with a Pomegranate Glaze

eating the watermelon salsa

Posted in Appetizers, Fruit, Salads & Dressings | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Grilled Chicken with Romesco Sauce (and How to Roast Peppers)

romesco sauceIf last year was the summer of Chimichurri Sauce, well, then this year it’s the summer of Romesco Sauce.

And I need to ask . . . again . . . Romesco Sauce – where have you been all my life?!!!

While Chimichurri is an Argentinian, parsley-based, intensely-flavoured and zippy sauce great to slather on anything, Romesco is a Spanish, roasted red pepper-based, intensely-flavoured and zippy sauce great to slather on anything. Similar but very different.

Oooooh, mammy, I can’t decide which I like better, although this year the Romesco is winning just by a tad because it’s new to me and I am still in the flush of first love with it.

Romesco sauce is a rich, smoky, yet zingy sauce based on roasted red peppers and chunky ground almonds or hazelnuts. Traditional recipes often include a slice of bread mashed in to thicken it up, but since I simplified the steps by using tomato paste instead of peeling and dicing fresh tomatoes, I find it doesn’t need it. Olive oil, vinegar and fresh garlic are the ingredients the two sauces have in common, which give them their zip.

I guess you’ll just have to decide for yourselves.

The Romesco Sauce is wonderful slathered over simple grilled chicken, steak, or burgers, and gives a jolt of flavour to boiled or steamed new potatoes. It’s great as a sauce on sandwiches or hamburger buns. Try it on hot dogs, too, or add a dab to a boiled egg, or stir it into some hummus or sour cream to jack up the flavour.

Spice up your summer with some Spanish flair – olé!

romesco sauce on grilled chicken

*And please don’t let the fact that you have to roast peppers stop you. I know what you’re thinking (that it’s fussy and complicated) and I thought those things, too, before I actually tried making them. But now that I’ve come, late in life, to the joys of roasted peppers, I make them often. (Peeling them is so much fun!) In the beginning I even did the extra step of oiling them before roasting, like in this delicious Roasted Pepper Salad. One day I was lazy and thought Oh, the heck with it – I’ll just skip that step, and you know what? They turned out just fine. I love to roast up a few extra peppers and have them in the fridge to layer on sandwiches and wraps, or  to chop into salads or casseroles. I sometimes dice the roasted peppers and freeze them flat in a baggie, then break off chunks to add to dishes when I need them.

With these two handy sauces in your repertoire – Chimichurri and Romesco – your summer entertaining will be elevated to new gourmet heights with very little effort.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Use all almonds, or half hazelnuts and half almonds. Both are traditional to this sauce. Use whole almonds, or slivers. Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350°F until golden and aromatic. If you are toasting hazelnuts, too, rub them in a clean tea towel right after roasting, to remove as much of their skins as possible.

Puree the sauce to your liking. I prefer it chunky with a slight crunch from the nutty bits, but Romesco Sauce can also be pureed until smooth.

Also, adjust the spice level to your liking. We like just a slight nip to the sauce (from the cayenne), so I use mild smoked paprika.

If you have dried ancho chilies, use 3 or 4 of them, soaked for 15 minutes in water, then drained, instead of one of the roasted red peppers. The anchos provide the lovely smokiness that is the undertone to this sauce, but if you don’t have ancho chilis, the smoked paprika does the same thing.

*Dollop one-tablespoon-sized plops of leftover tomato paste onto wax paper and freeze, then pop them into a baggie to store in the freezer. They are handy to pull out whenever you need a little hit of tomato paste.

romesco sauce

Romesco Sauce

  • 2 large red bell peppers, roasted * (see below)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup toasted almonds (or half hazelnuts)
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (mild or hot)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup (120ml) olive oil

ingredients for romesco saucePlace all ingredients into a food processor and puree to a chunky paste, or process further to a smooth sauce if that is what you prefer.

*How To Roast Peppers

Preheat the oven on the broiler setting. Set the top oven rack so that it is 5 to 6 inches (13-15cm) below the broiling element. Prepare a large cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper or tin foil.

Choose large, thick-fleshed bell peppers. Wash and dry them, then cut them in half right through the stems. Pull out the stems, seeds, and thin membranes on the ribs. Shake each half upside-down to release any loose seeds stuck inside.

roasted peppers for romesco sauce

Lay the peppers, cut side down, on the prepared cookie sheet, leaving at least ½ inch (1cm) space between them, so the heat can get to all sides of the peppers.

Place them in the oven so that the tops of the peppers are about 3 to 4 inches below the heating element.

Broil for 15 minutes, until the tops are very charred and quite black in places.

roasted peppers for romesco sauce

Remove from the oven, and place the hot peppers into a saucepan with a lid on it to steam them as they cool (or a bowl covered with a plate or lid).

Once they are completely cooled, pull the charred skins off with your fingers or a paring knife. As long as most of the skins come off, that is okay. Don’t worry if you can’t get all the bits off around the edges.

peeling roasted pepper for romesco sauce

Your roasted peppers should have some lovely soft brown areas to them.

peeling roasted peppers for romesco sauce

Use immediately or store in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.

Makes as many roasted peppers as you can fit on your cookie sheet at one time.

Grilled Chicken with Romesco Sauce

Simply season the amount of chicken breasts you will need with salt and pepper. To speed up the cooking time, I like to pound the chicken breasts first with a meat hammer so they are a uniform thickness. Brush lightly with olive oil.

Grill (or sauté) until cooked through but still moist inside. Place on serving plate and dollop with romesco sauce, or serve the sauce on the side.

grilled chicken with romesco sauce

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Chimichurri Sauce – on Salmon, Steak, or Anything

Wine and Cheese Burgers for Barbecue Season

Juicy Grilled Mushrooms

Grilled Corn with Chipotle Cream

Roasted Pepper Salad with Roasted Garlic and Balsamic Dressing

Posted in Barbecue & Grilling, Condiments & Sauces, How-to-Basics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saskatoon Slump

saskatoon slump

No, that title does not describe how you feel at about three o’clock in the afternoon after picking saskatoons in the heat for the whole day.

It describes a lovely saskatoon berry dessert – sweet, flavourful saskatoons combined with melting morsels of ripe peach or nectarine, all topped off with a dense, cakey, almost-chewy batter that makes each mouthful a comforting taste of sweet saskatoon summer.

saskatoon slump

Yes, I know. Another saskatoon recipe! There’s been the ice cream and the juice already. But when the season for this unique berry is so short, we have to make the most of it. Saskatoon berries only grow in a select part of the world, and we here in the northern Alberta prairie region are lucky to be at the center of it. It’s hard to describe the flavour of saskatoons – people compare them to blueberries because they look somewhat alike, but that is the only thing they have in common. Saskatoon berries taste nothing like blueberries.

saskatoon slump

Saskatoons are much sweeter and seedier than blueberries and have a flavour that combines hints of vanilla, almonds and cherries. They really are a unique berry. The native First Nations People pounded them with meat and fat and dried the mixture to make pemmican, an important food staple. Early pioneers picked the wild berries, filled with antioxidants, to preserve for the long harsh prairie winters. Today, the berries are being cultivated and are an important new crop for the prairies, used in wines, jams, jellies and many delicious desserts.

saskatoon slump

We’re at the tail end of the saskatoon season here in northern Alberta, but I know that in higher altitudes and colder climates than ours, the saskatoon season is still in its prime, so I quickly wanted to pass on this recipe. I’ve been making it almost daily for the past week, and it disappears by evening. Saskatoon-Slump-Snitchers have been emptying the pan when I’m not looking.

A slump falls in the category of crisps, cobblers, betties and pandowdies, and though usually cooked on the stovetop rather than baked, I just had to use the term for this dessert because it had great alliteration with the word saskatoon. Plus it so aptly describes the way the batter sinks between the berries. Normal slumps have a biscuit batter on top, but this batter, with its ground flax instead of eggs, and small amount of baking powder, has a delightfully ‘gooey’ texture, more reminiscent of a clafoutis, which we love.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: This Saskatoon Slump also works wonderfully with frozen saskatoon berries if the saskatoon harvest is finished where you live. Use heaping cupfuls of berries, since frozen ones take more space.

Also, you could substitute the diced peach or nectarine for any other tangy fresh or frozen fruit – use a heaped cupful, also. Possibilities are fresh or frozen raspberries, rhubarb, apples, apricots, plums, etc.

*Remember to store your ground flax seed in the freezer. Whole flax seeds keep for a year or more without being frozen, but once ground it turns rancid within a few weeks at room temperature.

saskatoon slump

Saskatoon Slump

gluten free, grain free, dairy free, egg free

  • ¼ cup ground golden flax seeds
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 3 cups saskatoon berries
  • 1 large nectarine or peach
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons natural evaporated cane sugar
  • 2/3 cup almond flour (ground blanched almonds)
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1/3 cup soft (or melted) coconut oil or butter
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground flax seeds and the warm water. Leave to gel for 5 minutes.

While the flax is resting, prepare the fruit base. Grease a 10 inch (25cm) pie dish or 9 inch square baking dish by greasing it well with coconut oil or butter. Spread the saskatoons in the bottom. Dice the nectarine or peach and arrange on top. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the sugar.

saskatoons and nectarine ready for saskatoon slump

To the jelled flax seed mixture, add the almond flour, tapioca starch, coconut oil or butter, ¼ cup of the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, almond extract and salt. Mix well with a mixer or wooden spoon until all ingredients are smoothly incorporated.

Plop the batter over the fruit in the pan. Using a spatula, spread it around to even it out somewhat, but don’t worry about covering all the fruit completely. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon sugar.

saskatoon slump ready for the oven

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling up around the edges of the pan and the slump mixture is golden.

baked saskatoon slump

Let cool slightly and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or, to intensify the flavour, saskatoon ice cream.

Also tastes mighty fine with a plop of yogurt for breakfast (if it lasts that long in your house)!

Serves 6.

 Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

How to Can Saskatoons (and Saskatoon Peach Preserve)

How to Freeze Saskatoons (and Saskatoon Cobbler)

How to Clean Saskatoons (and Saskatoon Juice)

Saskatoon Ice Cream

Pork Chops with Saskatoon and Green Apple Chutney

 

 

 

Posted in Dairy-free, Desserts, Puddings & Such, Saskatoons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Saskatoon Juice – and How to Clean Your Saskatoon Berries

saskatoon berry juice, and how to clean your saskatoonsI’m at the tail end of our saskatoon picking – with purple fingers and purple lips most days. The crop has been wonderful, but now we’re getting down to the sweet, very ripe, sometimes shriveled berries that are still full of flavour but not so juicy anymore.

saskatoon juice, and how to clean saskatoon berries

Andreas, pulling down a loaded branch to get at the berries

It’s time to make juice.

The weather is hot and after a few hours of picking, it’s so refreshing to guzzle a glass of cool saskatoon juice.

If I’m lucky, I rope the men in the family into doing a spot of picking for me. . .

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

Raymond likes to thread his belt through the bucket handle, leaving both hands free for picking – smart guy

We’ve picked a few . . .

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

so it’s time to stop for a cool drink.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berriesLuckily I cleaned some of yesterday’s berries and made a batch of saskatoon juice which is chilling in the fridge.

Here’s the handy dandy way my mom taught me to clean saskatoon berries (or any other berries you’ve picked.)

How to Clean Saskatoon Berries

Saskatoons can be full of leafy bits, twigs, shriveled berries and unwanted little critters that hitched a ride into the pail.

To clean my berries I do a two-step process: first I pick them over, then I wash them.

To pick them over, I set up a picking station like this.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

see, that old phone book comes in handy

At the table, I take a large cookie sheet or tray, and lay it with the short end facing me. I then prop the far end up on a book so it’s elevated one or two inches. The slant should be just enough that the berries don’t tumble down the pan by themselves, but roll easily when nudged with your fingers. I have a small bowl on my right side for the duds, and a large bowl ready to hold the cleaned berries.

I carefully pour two or three large handfuls of saskatoons onto the high end of the cookie sheet, then with both hands gently roll some of the berries down toward me.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

Raymond is the hand model here for me – it’s good practice for him to clean a few berries, too

As they roll down the cookie sheet, I pick out all the duds, gimpy berries, crud, and critters and put them into the dud-bowl (I get little stinkbugs that like to come along for the ride, and sometimes ants, etc.). It’s easy to see what I’m doing, and I don’t miss any berries with this system. (My mom is so smart.)

I then dump the cleaned berries into the big bowl and pour another load of berries onto the pan. This process actually goes quickly, and I can get through a pail of berries in quite a short time.

When I’ve cleaned a large bowlful, I fill the kitchen sink with cold water, and pour the cleaned berries into it. I swirl them around with my hand a few times to clean them, then wait a few seconds for the water to stop moving. Then, either with my hands or a strainer, I fish out all the berries floating on the top of the water and place them into a colander to drain.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berriesThe berries that float at the top are usually the lighter, drier berries that aren’t so great for freezing. The heavier, juicy ones sink to the bottom of the water. I fish out the heavy ones and place those into another colander to drain.saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

Once they’ve drained for an hour or so, I place them into heavy zip-top bags and label them, then freeze them to use in desserts and smoothies.

The lighter berries that I’ve fished from the top of the water are great for making juice, since they are full of concentrated flavour, even if they are a little drier or more shriveled. (Think of them as saskatoon raisins.)

Below is the recipe for making juice, but feel free to use it just as a guideline - I often don’t even measure the berries, just fill a pot about ¾ full of berries, then add water to barely cover them, cook, drain, add lemon juice and sweetener to taste, and dilute with water to serve. This method works with all berries.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

How to Make Saskatoon Berry Juice

  • 4 cups (1 litre, about 600grams) cleaned saskatoon berries
  • 2 cups (500ml) water
  • juice of half a lemon
  • honey to taste (about 3 tablespoons) or other sweetener of choice

If I’m making big batches of juice to can, or make saskatoon jelly, I use my three part steam juicer (on the left) but if I just want to make a small batch of juice for drinking, I cook the berries in water in a saucepan (on the right).

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berriessaskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

Place the saskatoons and water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover the saucepan. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Pour into a colander set over a bowl to catch the juice, and let drain until cooled to lukewarm and no more juice drips out – an hour or more.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

Add the lemon juice and honey or other sweetener, and whisk until the honey is dissolved. Remember that the juice will be diluted to serve, so it will taste sweeter as a concentrate.

You should have about 3 cups of saskatoon juice concentrate (it depends on how juicy your berries are).

To serve, mix 1 part saskatoon juice with 2 to 3 parts water or club soda, to taste. You can mix it up in a pitcher or refrigerate the concentrate and mix up individual glasses as you need them. Will keep for one week in the fridge.

*Use club soda and add a shot of vodka for a fun summer cocktail.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berriesGuten Appetit!

You might also like:

Saskatoon Rolls or Cobbler and How to Freeze Saskatoons

Saskatoon Preserves and How to Can Saskatoons

Saskatoon Ice Cream

Pork Chops with Saskatoon and Green Apple Chutney

Posted in Drinks, How-to-Basics, Saskatoons | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments