Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Last week, a friend of mine sent me a link to a recipe she thought I'd be interested in.  The recipe was for a cauliflower crust pizza.  The fact that the crust is made with cauliflower and cheese and not pizza dough, makes it a healthy low-carb and gluten-free option.

Ever since I switched to a lower carbohydrate lifestyle, pizza hasn't really been on the menu (although I will indulge on "special" occasions), so the idea of a low-carb pizza sounded perfect to me! 

Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable and I've had great success using it to replace rice.  I hoped that the cauliflower would work just as well in this recipe, and it really did!

This great recipe comes from the food blog  Stick a Fork in it and I'd like to share my interpretation of it with you! 

Here is a look at the crust before it was baked.

The crust consists of:

1 cup cooked cauliflower rice
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
1 egg, beaten

I brushed the pizza pan with olive oil and then formed an 8 inch circle with the cauliflower mixture.  I baked the crust in a preheated 450F oven for approximately 15 minutes.

  This is how the crust looked after baking for 15 minutes.

I made my own pizza sauce using whole canned tomatoes pulsed with some extra virgin olive oil, and garlic salt - easy to make and so much better than the canned stuff.

Next, I added shredded mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced chorizo, sliced kalamata olives, green peppers and basil leaves.  I put the pizza under the broiler (550F) for approximately three minutes...

And here is the result!  Doesn't it look yummy?

The personal pizza was delicious and very filling.  My favourite part was the cheesy, crispy edges.  How does it compare to a regular crust pizza?  The taste was delicious.  I couldn't even taste the cauliflower!  The only difference is in the texture of the crust.  Instead of being crispy, it is kind of limp and soft, but not surprising, as the crust contains cauliflower and cheese.  But, for me, it in no way, takes away from the pizza.  It was close enough to a regular pizza as you can get!

Care for a slice?

I was so pleased with the way it turned outl, that I made personal pizzas for Nuno and the girls for dinner.

Pepperoni and cheese for the girls

Chorizo, mushrooms, green peppers, kalamata olives, and basil leaves for Nuno

We all enjoyed the pizza, the girls too!  If any of you are looking for a low-carb and/or gluten-free pizza option, this one's for you! 

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Plenty of Inspiration

Hello everyone and happy Tuesday!  Today, I want to share with you my latest cookbook find...

This is the book Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi - a famous London chef, restaurant owner, and food columnist for the Guardian newspaper in London, UK.

I first heard about Yotam Ottolenghi from my dear friend, Rachel, who lives in England.  I know how much she adores Ottolenghi and his recipes, so when I saw this book for sale in the reprinted American edition, I had to have it! 

This cookbook contains 120 vegetarian recipes.  Although I am not a vegetarian, I do enjoy vegetarian dishes, so there is much inspiration here, even for meat lovers! 

Let me share some of what I've experimented with thus far...

Sweet Potato Wedges, pg. 26

Okay, seriously, these are to die for!  I've tried sweet potatoes all sorts of ways - baked, fried, mashed, cubed, etc., but this recipe is my favourite.  It is melt-in-your-mouth delicious!  Ottolenghi provides a recipe for a dipping sauce to go with these...I didn't have all the ingredients, so I used plain old mayonnaise and served them with oven-roasted back ribs.  YUM!

This is me preparing to roast aubergine (eggplant) in the oven according to Ottolenghi's instructions on page 110.  The Maldon sea salt I used for this recipe was a gift from another dear friend of mine.

Aubergine with buttermilk sauce pg. 110
I served these as an appetizer - before our main course.
I must say, Nuno (my husband) and I have never been too fond of aubergine in the past. 
Ottolenghi's recipe turned out delicious!  I am a newly converted fan of the eggplant!

I decided to roast eggplant again another night using Ottolenghi's method, but this time I turned this vegetarian dish into a meat-lover's dream...

I made my meaty tomato sauce to go with it and grated some fresh parmesan cheese over top.

Vegetarian meets meat-lover!

I am looking forward to experimenting with many other recipes in this new cookbook!  It is filled with PLENTY of inspiration! 

I will leave you with this photo of my backyard early this morning...
It's Spring here, but it hardly looks that way.  I am crossing my fingers that the sun comes out and melts all of this away.  Sending warm thoughts to you.  I hope the sun is shining wherever you are!  Enjoy the rest of the week!  xoxo

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Most A-moose-ing Day!

Last Friday, Nuno, the girls and I took advantage of the Good Friday holiday by day-tripping to beautiful Algonquin Park, Ontario's oldest provincial park. The last time we visited was in the Fall, to see the gorgeous fall foliage.

The reason that brought us there this time was something very different.  This time we were looking to get a peek at moose in their natural habitat.  Algonquin Park is probably the best place for seeing Moose in Ontario, and possibly in all of North America!  It is also home to many other species of animals including deer, beavers, black bears and wolves.

Since neither one of us had ever seen a real, live moose in its natural habitat, we took the two-plus hour drive in the early Friday morning hours, before sunrise.  We set the alarm clock for 5 am because we know the best time to see moose is in the early morning hours, when everything is still relatively calm and there isn't a lot of traffic on the roads.

The reward for waking up so early is watching this glorious sunrise!

"There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope." - Bern Williams

We knew we were close to our destination when we saw this sign!

 After a smooth, quiet ride and some hot morning coffee, we finally arrived!

It only took a couple minutes driving through the park to encounter our first moose!
Here he is, drinking "salt" water right by the edge of the highway.  After winter's snow melts away, the salt-deficient moose come to drink the water in the ditches that are filled with sodium-rich road salt.  Hence, the perfect opportunity for us to spot them! 

Here he is, posing pretty for the camera.  We were all in the car pulled up right beside him and he let me take as many photos as I wanted.  I was beside myself with joy! 

As you can tell from the photo, Winter has not been kind to him.  Much of his fur is missing and he looks pretty haggard, the poor thing. 

I zoomed in on his face, where he looks the prettiest.  Isn't he gorgeous?!
 He doesn't have his antlers because they shed off before Winter and only grow back in the Spring (approximately one inch per day!)   

As we continued to drive along highway 60, through Algonquin Park, we came across this female turkey (hen) walking across the road and chasing behind our car, probably looking for food. 

This is a photo of another moose we saw further along the edge of the highway.  One man actually got out of his car to take photos of the moose - up close and personal.  Doesn't he know that if a moose feels threatened, he will attack?  The man was close enough to take photos from the car, but he felt the need to go out there and put his life in danger. 

We saw one more moose along the way, but I couldn't get a good shot of him.   All in all, we were pretty lucky to see three moose on our first attempt!

  As you can see from the photo, we couldn't have picked a more beautiful Spring day- the sky was so blue and the sun was shining warm and bright.

We saw several beaver dams on the surrounding lakes, but not a glimpse of any beavers.
I was so hoping to see them.  Maybe next time, we'll get lucky and see one!

We drove through Algonquin Park's Highway 60 Corridor, from the West Gate to the East Gate, totaling 56 km.  We took the same route back, hoping to find more wildlife along the way.  The drive back was much less active.  The only animals we saw were small birds flying amongst the trees.  This only confirmed what we already knew - the best time to see the animals at their most active is at daybreak.  We will definitely be returning again, maybe later this Spring.  I would love to see a mature moose with large antlers and maybe a bear or two, who knows?

On our drive back home, we stopped in the town of Orillia for lunch (30 minutes from home).  We drove past this pretty home.  I told Nuno, "Stop the car!  I NEED to take a picture of this!".  I can't tell you how beautiful this was in person.  The photo doesn't do it justice, but it gives you an idea.  Most of the front lawn was covered in these tiny, bluish-purplish flowers.  I don't know what they're called.  Do any of you know? 

Here is a close-up of the flowers.

I think this photo exudes all the beauty of Spring.  The tree branches are bare and yet there is so much life and colour surrounding them.  It's the promise and hope of Spring!

We arrived back home before mid afternoon and enjoyed the rest of the day relaxing and doing nothing in particular.  It was pretty close to perfect as a day could get! 

There is beauty everywhere we look and we don't have to roam very far to see it.   I love road trips, discovering and experiencing new things.  For me, in the end, the most precious of those things are the ones we take most for granted - the sunrise and sunset; the cloudless blue sky; the pretty little flowers growing right under our feet.  I am thankful for these things every day!  It was a GOOD FRIDAY! 

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

I hope that every single day you appreciate the little things.  It is so easy to take them for granted.  I always try to remind myself!  Sending love and hugs and wishes for a wonderful rest of the week!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Perfectly Pink Princess Party!

On Sunday, my April Fool's baby celebrated her sixth birthday!  I can't believe how quickly the time has passed.  It seems like just the other day, she was turning one, and now she's six years old! 

This year, Annabel chose to celebrate her birthday at home with a pink princess party

On Saturday, I baked chocolate and vanilla cupcakes for the princess celebration and a cheesecake for our evening get-together with family.  I was super excited to do some baking as I don't get to bake very much these days.  It was such a treat!

Scooping batter into muffin tins

Chocolate cupcakes cooling on the rack

Preparing cheesecake for water bath

The morning of Annabel's birthday...

Annabel opening her gifts from Anita.
Annabel loving her new pretty pink dress!
Since Easter is right around the corner, I decorated the vanilla cupcakes with buttercream icing, fuzzy, yellow chicks and cadbury mini eggs.  The chocolate cupcakes were dipped in chocolate ganache and topped with sprinkles and cadbury chocolate bunnies. 

The party started at 12:00 pm.  The little girls had pizza for lunch.  I would love to share photos of all the children with you, but because of privacy laws, and such, I cannot.  They played with the pretend kitchen, doll house, colored, read books, played Wii and had lots of fun. 

Soon, it was time for tea...

The tea was really fruit juice, but we'll just pretend! 
Singing happy birthday to Annabel!
After tea and cupcakes, Annabel opened all of her cards and gifts and took pictures with her friends.  They played some more and then it was three...time for all the princesses to go home. 
Later that evening...
After dinner, we had some family over for cake and coffee.  Annabel loves cheesecake, so this was her birthday cake.  I topped it with whipped cream and fresh mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries), her favourite! 
Annabel making a wish and blowing out her candles.  If it were my wish, I would ask to pause the time.  There's no place I'd rather be than right here, right now!  I count my blessings.  They are many!  Annabel is such a sweet, kind little girl.  I am so proud of her and the person she is becoming.  Happy birthday, my darling daughter!