Monday, December 21, 2009


One more blog before the year ends, in the hope that you might be able to use it over the holidays. I can think of about one hundred ways to use this salsa. Over fish (pictured here), chicken, or lamb; as an ingredient in an organic sour cream dip; or tossed with Zucchini noodles or Cauliflower "rice." You will no doubt think of other ways once you taste this highly flavorful and extremely versatile salsa. No cooking required!

1 ½ teaspoons anchovy paste
2 to 3 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons capers, chopped if necessary
½ cup pitted black olives, chopped
½ cup flat‐leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved, or cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1) In the bottom of a medium bowl, combine anchovy paste, grated garlic, red pepper flakes, zest and lemon juice; and whisk in ¼ cup olive oil.
2) Add capers, olives, parsley, and tomatoes.
3) Toss and season with black pepper (optional).
4) Serve immediately. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
If it lasts that long.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Asparagus Frittata

Asparagus Frittata has been a family favourite for Christmas brunch for years. Everyone enjoys the beautiful look of it, not to mention the delectable savory taste. But I have always enjoyed using it as the centrepiece of the brunch because it finishes in the oven while I put the finishing touches on the table and other specialties of the festive family meal.


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, or two small shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, spears cut diagonally into 1‐inch lengths
4 to 6 large (preferably organic, free range) eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded raw organic (Imported) Gruyere or (Domestic) Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
1) Gently heat olive oil into a 10‐inch oven‐proof frying pan (see our blog on cookware) over medium high heat.
2) Add onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 3 minutes.
3) Add asparagus, reduce heat to medium‐low, and cook, covered, until the asparagus are slightly tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
4) Pour in eggs and cook until almost set, but still runny on top, about 2 minutes.
5) Sprinkle cheese over eggs and put in oven to bake uncovered until eggs are set and cheese is melted and browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. (You may want to turn on the broiler during this baking time, to better brown the top.)
6) Remove from oven with oven mitts and slide frittata onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Coffee Ice Cream

My first interest in creating food came not as a well-meaning bride or young mother, but much later. I watched Emerill Lagasse prepare unbelievable meals on late night television as I was falling asleep, and I was hooked. This means two things.
1.) I was trained by a chef.
2.) I am lucky to be alive.
However, Emerill's recipe for Coffee Ice Cream, using stevia rather than sugar, is a winner. If you are worried about what kind of dessert you can serve with a late afternoon Christmas dinner, maybe this is just what the (Maximized Living) doctor ordered.

  • 2 cups organic heavy cream
  • 2 cups organic whole milk
  • Stevia to equal the sweetness of 3/4 cup of granulated sugar (See the blog on Stevia)
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 6 egg yolks

Combine the cream, milk, stevia, and coffee in a medium, heavy saucepan. Stirring gently, bring to a heat point just before a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.
Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks very slowly in a steady stream. This will temper the egg yolks so they do not scramble when they are added to the hot cream mixture.
Gradually add the egg mixture, again in a slow, steady stream, to the hot cream. Cook over merium-low heat, stirring, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 170 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to keep a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Remove from the refrigerator and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. After the ice cream is made, transfer to an airtight container. Cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve.
My ice cream maker delivers a soft-serve consistency ice cream in approximately 30 minutes. I would love to tell you exactly how long to freeze the finished product before serving, but hubby and I nearly finished the batch at this soft serve point. Therefore, there wasn't enough left to estimate a required time in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator. If you like the idea of a soft serve consistency, you could certainly have the ice cream machine running while you finish your dinner. I have often done this with frozen yogurt during summer meals.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Anne Willan's Home Canned Tomatoes and an Elegant, Easy Cream of Tomato Soup

This is one of the simplest methods for canning fresh tomatoes I have ever heard of. The method is the creation of Anne Willan, a respected chef who has written over a dozen internationally published cookbooks, and is the founder of one of the best cullinary schools in the world, La Varenne, in France. Once processed, the jars of fresh whole tomatoes will last for one year, and can be used for soups and sauces all winter long. Although you will probably use this method next summer at tomato harvesting time, I promised one of the blog followers to post the method over the weekend. (Sorry I am a day or two late.)
Pack whole, well washed, unpeeled tomatoes with stems and any leaves removed, into quart/litre jars with a few sprigs of thyme, a couple of bay leaves, and an onion slice or two. Close the sealer lids and set the jars on a rack in a deep canning pot. Add enough water to cover generously. Weight the jars down (with a brick or other weight) so they don't float. This can be tricky. My suggestion is to weight the jars down before adding all the water. One other tip: If you do not have, and can not find, a round rack to fit in the bottom of the deep pot, use a clean kitchen towell or two in the bottom of the pot. This worked well for me after I scoured my town for a round rack.
Bring the water to a boil, and then simmer for an hour and a half until the tomatoes begin to lose their shape and collapse. Let the jars cool in the water so the lids form a tight seal. When done, each jar will look only half full of tomatoes. See the photo.
Elegant, Easy Cream of Tomato Soup
Open one of the jars of canned tomatoes and remove the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme. Put the remainder of the contents into a blender and puree until smooth.
Add the puree to a soup or sauce pan, and add approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup of organic heavy cream (or a combination of cream and unsweetened almond milk) to taste. Bring the soup to temperature, add just a touch of salt, and enjoy one of the freshest tomato soups you have ever tasted.
Note: I used about two tablespoons of cream and approximately 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk. Suit yourself. You won't believe how wonderful the soup tastes.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chicken or Steak with Balsamic Mustard Sauce

The cover of GOOD FOOD is a photograph of one of my favorite "go-to" quick and delicious meals - free range, organic chicken thighs with Balsamic Mustard Sauce. The sauce is tangy and delectable, requires no effort, and gets raves every time I serve it. The recipe below uses grass-fed beef steaks for those who love a good steak, although any grilled chicken variation would be my personal favorite. Either way, the sauce is the real star of the show. Hmmmm. I wonder how it would taste on left-over Turkey. . . .

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 grass-fed, organic beef strip steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each, (approximately 3/4 inch thick) seasoned to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard (No sugar – check the label)

Preparation:1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season steaks generously on both sides with salt and pepper; place in skillet. Cook, turning once, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium‐rare.
2. Transfer to a plate; cover with foil.
3. Add vinegar to skillet; boil until syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Remove from heat; whisk in mustard and any accumulated juices from steaks.
5. Serve sauce with steaks.
See our notes about cookware.

Bar‐b‐que is a fair weather cooking option. If I were making the sauce only, I would begin with a dash of olive oil and one clove of minced garlic, and then work from step 3.

The organic grass-fed beef steaks recipe will serve 6 to 8 people. Most of us consume too much protein at one sitting. When the meat is from a grass fed animal, it is so nutrient dense that half of what we are accustomed to eating is quite filling.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cinnamon Strawberry Flax Muffins

These muffins will keep for a week in the refrigerator (if they last that long), or 3 months in the freezer.

1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1 1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/2 cup “Spoonable” brand Stevia (or equivalent - I use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon KAL brand concentrated Stevia powder)
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla (no sugar – check ingredients)
2 tablespoons grated orange peel (optional)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 F
Line muffin tins with paper or silicone liners.
1. Chop strawberries into a medium sized dice.
2. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients (minus the strawberries) separately, then, mix them together.
3. Let mixture stand for 10 minutes to thicken.
4. Fold in strawberries.
5. Fill each muffin cup about half way, and sprinkle with nuts.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Variation: Substitute fresh or frozen blueberries for the strawberries.

Note: If you are going to freeze the muffins, I recommend beginning with fresh berries.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fresh Tomato Soup

When I grew up, Fridays always meant Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup for dinner. Over lunch this past week, at least a dozen of my co-workers admitted that one of their favourite food memories from their own childhood was the grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup combo.
Now that I am grown up, but don't want to grow out, I've made some changes. I rarely eat grains at all, so that generally eliminates the grilled cheese sandwich. Bummer. They really were delicious. Of course, if you do eat grains, stone ground whole grain bread with a slice of organic cheddar cheese can make one beauty of a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. But the best way to ruin a Maximized gourmet style soup and sandwich combo is to open a can of condensed tomato soup containing very few tomatoes and very many additives, preservatives, bad fats, and sugars.
Try this tomato soup recipe. It is made with fresh tomatoes, and takes very little time to prepare.

Fresh Tomato Soup

4 peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped fresh tomatoes
1 roughly chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, grated or diced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 cups of organic chicken stock
2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste (no sugar - check the ingredients on the label)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup organic cream, milk, unsweetened almond milk, or a combination

1.) Remove the core and cut an "x" into the bottom side of each tomato. Drop them into boiling water for approximately 1 minute and then remove. The skins will literally fall off the tomatoes. Chop them into quarters and squeeze out the seeds.
2.) In a soup pot with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, gently saute onion and garlic.
3.) Add the chicken stock and the tomato paste.
4.) Bring the soup to a boil; season to taste, and simmer for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
5.) Puree the soup in a blender, in batches if necessary.
6.) Return soup to pot, add the cream, or milk, or almond milk, or a combination. (I used unsweetened almond milk only, and found the soup delicious. But then, I usually do impress myself, if no one else.)
7.) Bring the soup back up to heat and serve.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Home Made Chicken Stock

It is almost impossible to buy chicken stock that isn’t ruined by the food industry's additives, sugar, or bad fats. I have not found a single ready-to-use stock that I want to consume. Fortunately, homemade chicken stock is not difficult to make, and it is well worth the time and easy effort.
In the London area, we have an Organic chicken farm, McSmiths, which I have blogged about in the past. I cannot overstate the importance of a quality protein supplier. The chickens in the grocery stores are loaded with hormones and, in most cases, antibiotics, which do not make for healthy or delicious meals. Find an organic chicken farm in your area. It will mean the world to your family, and to the farmer who is working so hard every day to provide quality food for so many of us.
Once you make a big batch of this golden, hearty stock, you can freeze it in 1 quart containers. It will be the basis for so many beautiful soups all winter long. In fact, my next post will be an old family favorite - Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup. Wait for it. . . .


2 organic, free range chicken carcasses (locally available at McSmith's Organic Chicken Farm)
2 small carrots, peeled, trimmed
2 small onions, peeled, trimmed, and quartered
2 small celery stalks, trimmed
3 peeled, smashed, garlic cloves
Stems from 1 bunch parsley (optional)
3 to 4 green leek leaves, sliced (optional)
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 quarts water, approximately

In a stockpot, place the chicken bones, then add all of the remaining ingredients, except the water. Add water to cover by 2 inches, bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer uncovered for 2 to 3 hours, skimming as necessary.
Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl and cool. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days, discarding the hardened layer of fat before using or freezing.

Note: for more about McSmith's Organic Chicken Farm, see August, 2009 blog.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Portobello Mushrooms with Leeks, Spinach, and Cheese

If you are always on the look-out for a lovely, sophisticated, and easy side dish for Sunday dinner or for dinner parties, you will enjoy this. The recipe is for four portobello mushrooms, although I prepared only half of it, using my unbelievable math skills. Depending on the size of the portobellos, two mushrooms might be enough for four people. Still, one of my favorite cooks always said, "You eat with your eyes first." Serving these whole makes such a beautiful presentation, I was thinking of her while I served our Sunday dinner.
2 leeks
4 Portobello mushroom caps
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher or sea salt and black pepper
2 cups chopped fresh (preferably organic) spinach (about 2 ounces)
1 cup crumbled soft goat cheese, or Greek feta cheese (your preference)
Pre‐heat oven to 450 degrees
Leeks are sandy by nature. Their flavor is well worth the preparation. Here’s an easy way to clean them.
1) Trim dark‐green parts from leeks; slice leeks crosswise, and soak in cold water. Swish leeks to help loosen dirt. Repeat with fresh water until you no longer see any grit at bottom of bowl. Lift leek slices out of water, leaving grit behind; drain them thoroughly on paper towels.
2) Place mushroom caps, gill sides up, on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until caps are just tender, about 20 - 25 minutes.
3) Top with leeks, spinach, and cheese; season again if desired.
4) Bake until spinach wilts and cheese starts to brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leek and White Asparagus Soup

This soup is comfort unlimited! The white asparagus are slightly sweeter than the green, and whenever I see them at the market, I just have to get at least one bunch of them for this soup. I usually cave in, though, and buy another bunch to grill up and then wrap with smoked wild salmon slices (an appetizer extraordinaire if I do say so myself).
But back to the soup. This recipe takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, and will make about 8 cups of soup, once you puree it. Because it is such an easy soup to drink, I love to divide it into 2 cup mason jars to take to school for lunch. Makes my day.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 bunch of white asparagus (approximately 20-25 spears), chopped
3 leeks, whites only, cleaned and cut into rings (as shown)
5 to 6 cups organic chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 to 3 cups almond milk
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste See note.

Saute all the vegetables in the olive oil, adding the garlic last, for 2 to 3 minutes, just until soft. Add the stock, and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the asparagus is cooked through.
Remove the soup from the heat, and let it cool slightly.
Transfer the soup into a blender, in batches if necessary, and blend until smooth.
Return the soup to the pot, add the almond milk and bring it back to heat.
Check for seasoning.
Note: Purists may want to use white pepper, because the soup is a very light color. This is entirely up to purists.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chocolate Truffles

O.K., so we managed to make a Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving without poisoning ourselves with sugar and white flour. What now?

Christmas will be here before we know it. Some stores ridiculously display their Christmas trimmings right along side the Halloween decorations. Here is a recipe for Chocolate Truffles which will compliment your Maximized Christmas table without killing you. The recipe is also in GOOD FOOD, listed as Chocolate Ganache, since it can also be used as a frosting for the Chocolate Cupcakes in GOOD FOOD. If that's not enough sweet treats for Christmas, your problems are probably more far reaching than I am professionally capable of handling.


· 8 oz. (squares) unsweetened baker’s chocolate chopped into tiny pieces
· 1 cup organic heavy cream
· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla (no sugar – check the ingredients)
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· Stevia equivalent to approximately 1 cup sugar
· 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional) Note: If you use the espresso powder, you may have to add extra stevia. Taste it.


1) Heat the cream, vanilla, stevia, espresso powder (optional) and salt until bubbles form.
2) Remove from heat. Add chocolate pieces and let melt, stirring occasionally.
3) Let the mixture cool to room temperature, and then chill slightly in the refrigerator. At this point it can be rolled into truffles, which you can then roll in chopped raw nuts, unsweetened shredded coconut, or unsweetened cocoa powder.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Butternut Squash and Green Apple Soup

For those of you who enjoy the tastes of fall, and the aroma of fall spices, this soup really fills the bill. I particularly liked the distinctive, slightly sweet taste. The recipe is so simple. The most difficult part is peeling and seeding the butternut squash. Once that's done, you are 15 minutes to a delightful first course.

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon organic butter

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped

  • 1 or 2 tart green apples, peeled, cored, chopped (squash and apple should be a 3 to 1 ratio)

  • 3 to 4 cups organic chicken broth (or organic vegetable broth)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper

  • pinch of nutmeg (to taste - freshly grated is best)

  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk (original or vanilla flavor)
  • Combine butter and onion, saute gently for 5 minutes.

  • Add squash, apple, and broth. Bring to a boil.

  • Simmer for 10 minutes, or until squash is tender.

  • Puree.

  • Stir in Almond Milk and spices to taste.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie
Thanksgiving and Christmas are back! Here is a pumpkin pie you can really enjoy without complications (to your health or your waistline). It is sugar free and grain free, and tastes delicious. Sometimes, I impress myself.


1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (no sugar or other additives, check the label)
¾ cup “Spoonable” brand stevia or equivalent OR 2/3 cup xylitol (See blog about Stevia)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
4 oz. organic cream
8 oz. unsweetened almond milk, original or vanilla flavor
1 almond pie crust (see recipe)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees
1) Combine all the ingredients.
2) Pour into a cooled almond pie crust.
3) Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
4) Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes.
5) Cool and garnish with whipped (organic) cream, flavored with cinnamon and stevia.

Almond Pie Crust


1 ½ cups almond meal or almond flour
3 tablespoons “Spoonable” brand stevia, or equivalent, or 2 tablespoons Xylitol
3 tablespoons melted organic butter


Heat oven to 350 degrees

1) Melt the butter.
2) Mix the melted butter with the almond meal and stevia.
3) Pat into a glass pie plate with your fingertips.
4) Gently heat in the oven for about 8 minutes. Do not let the crust go brown.
I hope you enjoy this pie as much as my family does. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My friend Chantal's Roasted Cauliflower, Leek, and Garlic Soup

If you have been looking at the beautiful leeks in the grocery store, and wondering what you might do with them, here is one of my favourite fall soups. I have been having a giant cup of it for lunch every day at school, and it makes me feel so warm and full, although the actual calorie load is extremely light. Thanks to my friend Chantal for this delicious recipe.

· 3 Leeks – white ends only (To clean the leeks, which can be quite sandy, slice them half way through, lengthwise, and open them out slightly under running water. You are going to put them through the blender later anyway, so don't worry too much about the shape they're in when you roast them.)
· 1 Head Cauliflower
· 1 Head Garlic
· Olive oil
· Nutmeg to taste
· Salt and pepper to taste
· 3 cups organic chicken stock
· 1 cup organic milk, or unsweetened almond milk


1) Clean, prep & place all ingredients on a baking sheet. Spray or drizzle with some olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg.
2) Roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.
3) Remove vegetables from oven and put into 3 cups of organic chicken stock.
4) Simmer another 30 minutes.
5) Puree in a blender - or by using an immersion blender.
6) Add 1 cup organic milk, or unsweetened almond milk.
7) Bring back to heat and serve.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One of my Favorite Lunches - Avocado Halves Stuffed With Tomato and Feta

This is one of my favorite lunches from GOOD FOOD. The presentation makes it beautiful enough for company, and the taste is lovely. The trick is to use just ready avocados. I like to buy them when they are under ripe and very firm, and leave them on the kitchen counter for a day or two until they are just giving way to the touch. I also sometimes substitute a handful of diced grape tomatoes for the whole roma variety.


1 ripe avocado
1 small ripe roma tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon snipped fresh parsley, or basil, or chives (to your taste)
2 teaspoons raw pumpkin seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1) Halve avocado lengthwise, and remove the pit.
2) Top each half with tomato and feta.
3) Drizzle with lemon juice, and garnish with chives and pumpkin seeds.
4) Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Serves 2

Garden Fresh Basil Pesto

This recipe is so simple and so delicious. Right now, before the weather changes, you will want to harvest your beautiful basil and make up a giant batch of pesto. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks (if it lasts that long), or you can freeze it in ice cube trays and use little amounts later. (See below for more on freezing.)

All you do to make a big batch of Basil Pesto is this:
Put two to three cups of basil leaves in a food processor with 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, about 1/2 cup of pine nuts, olive oil (the amount of olive oil depends on the texture you desire - so more or less depending on how thick you want the pesto to be), and approximately 1/2 cup grated quality Italian parmesan cheese, and YUM!

Note: If you intend to freeze some of the pesto in ice cube trays or small containers, this is easily done, and works very well. However, it is wise to omit the Parmesan cheese from the recipe, and add it when you thaw the pesto for use within a week or two.

Pesto is wonderful as a side sauce over an otherwise ordinary grilled chicken breast, or, for you grain eaters, it is always a wonderful pasta sauce or pizza topping (used in place of tomato sauce).
I am making myself hungry.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Chili Lime Salad Dressing

When it comes to salad dressing, I sometimes get tired of the same flavors. Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil is my typical mix, but tonight I had two limes that needed to be used, and I used them for a really interesting salad dressing which I thoroughly enjoyed. Here's that recipe:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Mexican chili powder (Check the label. You dont want spices with MSG or other crazy ingredients.)
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated into the mix

Pour all the ingredients into a re-sealable jar, and shake vigorously. Makes 12 oz.
This dressing took me about 3 minutes to prepare, and I will have it to enjoy for a week or two. I think you'll enjoy it, too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Who doesn't love Buffalo Chicken Wings? The problem with the deep fried kind is, of course, the oil - not only the type of oil used, which is a problem in the first place, but the temperature you need to reach to deep fry the chicken wings. High temperatures de-nature oils, and render them toxic. Here is an alternative method for baking Buffalo Chicken Wings which I think you will enjoy. There is a bit of "do-ahead" preparation, but the end product is tasty and (yes) crispy, without smoking up your kitchen. (By the way, if your weather permits, you can do the "baking" on your covered bar-b-que grill if you prefer.) Here's the method:

1. Cut 12 organic, free range, antibiotic free chicken wings into halves, and pat dry. (Get them as dry as you can.)
2. Steam chicken wings for 20 minutes, giving them as much “breathing space” as you can. This can be done with a vegetable steamer inserted into a large pot, or in a bamboo steamer. The steaming will render a lot of fat from the chicken wings; and this should be taken into consideration when choosing your steaming method. Depending on the quantity of wings you are preparing, you may have to steam two batches, rather than pile the wings on top of each other during the steaming. The more breathing room the wings have, the more efficiently the fat will be rendered out of the wings.
2b. Although the steaming method is optimal, you may opt to simply boil the chicken wings for approximately 12 minutes, and then follow the rest of these directions as written. I have boiled the wings for the sake of convenience, and the end product is delicious.
3. Chill the steamed wings for at least one hour in the refrigerator.
4. Remove the wings from the refrigerator and bake them in the oven @ 425 degrees for 40 minutes, turning them over after 20 minutes. If you have a rack that fits over a 4-sided baking sheet, use it. If not, use the baking sheet without the rack.
5. As soon as you take them out of the oven, toss them in ½ cup of your choice brand of a quality Hot Sauce and 1 stick melted butter. (Use an organic butter.)
This is enough sauce for 24 wing halves.

Is all this extra preparation worth the trouble? To masses of people who are happy to eat whatever is fast and tasty, perhaps not. But to those who have done any investigation into the North American (processed) food supply, and found it inferior at so many levels, yes. It is worth it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sun Dried Tomatoes and Other Wonders

I have had to make lots of changes over the past three years. At first it was simply annoying that I felt I could no longer eat my favorite foods. Then, when I realized that Stevia and Xylitol could indulge my sweet tooth, I thought I might actually be able to stick with this new "Maximized" way of living and eating. Little by little, I found ways to alter traditional recipes. Now, at last, I can't imagine eating beef that is raised in a confinement lot or white bread that makes me crave other processed, unhealthy foods. And now, at last, I realize that I can change most, if not all, of my old favorite recipes so they look good, taste good, and are good for me.

One of the changes I have had to make is in condiments and dressings. Nearly all bottled or jarred salad dressings and condiments are packed in canola oil. So when I want to make my "Sundried Tomato Pesto," I have to start from scratch. I am happy to do it because I know I can enjoy it without worrying that it will make me ill. When it is ready, I can use it to spread on my Flax Seed Bread, or rolled in a flattened chicken breast, scewered with a sprig of rosemary and grilled on the bar-b-que. For those of you who follow the Core Nutrition Plan, this pesto is unbelievable thinned with pasta water and poured over whole grain Italian pasta. Do I have your attention?

Sundried Tomatoes in Oil

Once you prepare these, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to six weeks, if they last that long.

Buy dried sundried tomatoes. They are available in many grocery stores, and sometimes you can find them in bulk food markets.

To reconstitute the dried sundried tomatoes, cover them with boiling water, and let stand for two minutes.

Drain and let them "air out" for about ten minutes.

Place the reconstituted sundried tomatoes in a jar, and cover with oil and other seasonings. I like to add a clove of garlic, salt, pepper, and sometimes a bit of balsamic vinegar. As long as your ingredients are "Maximized," suit yourself.

Sundried Tomato Pesto

Into a food processor, add a jar (about 1 cup) of your made-to-order wonderful sundried tomatoes in olive oil, 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, and approximately 1 cup of fresh basil leaves. Blitz, adding a bit of oilive oil, if needed, and about 1/3 cup of freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese. Taste. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.

Keep this spread at room temperature if using that day over whole grain Italian pasta, or refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Basil Vinaigrette

This time of year, I always have too much basil. Since July, I have harvested twice, and although I love pesto, I really dont want to make another batch of it. Even a delicious sauce like pesto can get boring if that's all you can think to do with the basil that's in such abundance in summer. In this vinaigrette, basil, roasted garlic and good Italian Parmesan cheese are paired with balsamic vinegar and fine quality olive oil. How's that for a scrumptious use of basil?!


1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup roasted garlic
2 tablespoons freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste


Roast a head of garlic and let it cool.
Later in the day when the garlic has cooled: In a blender, combine the basil, garlic, cheese and vinegar. Slowly blend in the oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Choosing Hot Peppers at the Grocery Store

A few of the recipes in GOOD FOOD call for the use of a Serrano chili. Use a Jalepeno anytime you cannot find a Serrano in the grocery store. This tip may help you decide which pepper to choose.

"Ever take home a jalapeño chili pepper from the grocery store and have it either be so lacking in heat it may just as well be a bell pepper, or so hot a speck will create a raging inferno in your mouth? Here's a quick tip for choosing jalapeños that can help you decide which ones to pick. Jalapeño chilies progressively get hotter the older they get, eventually turning bright red. As they age, they develop white lines and flecks, like stretch marks running in the direction of the length of the pepper. The smoother the pepper, the younger, and milder it is. The more white lines, the older and hotter. Red jalapeños are the most hot, because they've been maturing the longest. "

"If you are trying to avoid the hottest jalapeños, pick the chilis without any striations. If you are looking for heat, find a red jalapeño, or a green one with plenty of white stretch marks. Note that this is just a guideline. There is still plenty of variation among individual peppers. You can find hotter-than-Hades peppers without any white lines. But your chances of picking a mild one are better if you go for smooth. Or if you are looking for heat, you will more likely find that in a pepper with lots of lines. "

"I would like to clarify here that this tip is based on absolutely NO scientific evidence. I have seen this approach mentioned by others (online), but who knows what is really going on? I do know that they are developing much milder variety of jalapeños these days. I also know that the capsaicin, the chemical that gives chilis their heat, is concentrated in the seeds and ribs. The flesh of the chili that is closer to the seeds will be hotter than the flesh near the tip. This is established fact. Perhaps chilis that are more mature have more of their capsaicin distributed throughout their flesh than the younger ones? Perhaps hotter varieties of jalapeños develop striations and milder ones do not. I have never eaten a mild red or striated jalapeño. But several times I have bought perfectly smooth, beautiful jalapeños only to be disappointed in their complete lack of flavor and punch. So, please take this tip with a grain of salt. Since using this approach I have not encountered a dull jalapeno."
To view the picture above, simply double click on it for a larger image. You will see the "stretch marks" or "striations" more clearly.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cucumber Salad

Who doesn't love cucumbers, especially when they are locally available, and deliciously cold and crisp on a summer evening? Here's another recipe that is not included in GOOD FOOD, simply because it is so easy.

Cucumber Yogurt Salad Recipe

2 cucumbers, peeled, quartered lengthwise, then sliced
1 cup (approximately) Organic, full fat, Plain yogurt
1 teaspoon dried dill, or a couple of teaspoons of fresh dill
Sprinkling of kosher salt and pepper


First taste the cucumbers to make sure that they are not bitter. Depending on the variety of cucumber you are using, and many other factors, you may find a cucumber that is distinctly bitter in taste. If this happens, soak the cucumber slices in (kosher or sea) salted water for half an hour, or longer, until the bitterness is reduced, then rinse and drain before using.

To make the salad, simply gently mix together the ingredients.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Note: If you don't like dill: My mother used to prepare this summer cucumber salad using marjoram, and it was delicious. Thanks, mom.

Monday, August 17, 2009

McSmith's Farm and a Lemon Chicken recipe

I have been to McSmith's Farm twice in the past 5 weeks. What a lovely experience. This farm is the real deal. They sell fresh, organic, free range chickens every two weeks on a Saturday morning from around 10AM to 1PM. From the London area, going south on Wellington Road, the cutoff for McSmith's Farm is exactly 9 km south of Regina Mundi Highschool. Just follow the signs - believe me - it will be worth it.

McSmith's also has fresh and frozen organic, free range chicken pieces, such as boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, and bone-in chicken thighs (my favorites). They are pre-packaged in freezer safe storage pouches, so they could not be more convenient to have on hand. I was so delighted with the quality of the chicken that I went out and bought a separate small freezer. For more information on McSmith's, you can check their website at, but for now, I want to share a new lemon chicken recipe that I tried the last time I had the bone-in chicken thighs on hand. This recipe is not in my recipe book, GOOD FOOD, but I wanted to share it becauseI KNOW you will enjoy it. We sure did.


3-4 pounds chicken parts (thighs and legs recommended), skin-on, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried) (optional)
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

2-3 Tbsp melted butter
Lemon slices for garnish

1 Place lemon juice, lemon peel, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, whisk to combine. With the tip of a sharp knife, cut into each chicken piece one or two times by about 1/2 an inch. (This will help the marinade penetrate.) Place the chicken pieces and the marinade in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Rotate the bag so that all chicken pieces are coated with the marinade. Seal the bag and place in a bowl in the refrigerator (in case of leakage). Let marinate for 2 hours.

2 Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove chicken from marinade and place in a single layer in a large baking dish, skin side up. Reserve the marinade. Use a pastry brush to brush a little melted butter on to each piece of chicken.

3 Bake for a total of 50 to 55 minutes, until the skins are crispy brown, and the chicken is cooked through, juices running clear (breasts have an internal temperature of 165°F and thighs 175°F). Half-way through the baking, at about the 25 minute mark, baste the chicken pieces generously with reserved marinade.
Depending on the size of the breasts, they may be ready before the thighs, so if you are cooking a mix of chicken parts, keep that in mind, you may have to take them out of the oven before the thighs.
Let rest, covered in foil, for 10 minutes before serving.

4 Pour the juices from the pan into a serving bowl. Use a tablespoon to skim the fat off the top (save the fat for cooking with later, or discard, but do not discard down the drain or it will solidify and clog your drain). Serve the chicken with the juices on the side or a little poured over the top of the chicken.
Serves 4-6. Serve alone or with steamed vegetables, or "Cauliflower Rice."


Since the first day I released "Good Food," I have wanted to create a blog for people who have bought or downloaded the book, as well as for those who have simply tried a few of the recipes I have shared through the Maximized Living Makeovers, newsletters, etc. I wanted to blog about the recipes, the processes, and the tricks and tools I have picked up over approximately 3 years of developing the recipes and the "Maximized" lifestyle for my family.

This has been a journey for me, as it may be for you. I want to hear your stories of overcoming the habits and pitfalls of the North American food supply, which, left unchecked, will have a devastating effect on your health, and the health of those you love. The happiest accident of the journey for me has been that I have discovered a world of what I like to call "Gourmet Good Food, Maximized." When I see a chef's beautifully prepared masterpiece, the first thing I want to do is "Maximize" it and enjoy eating it with my family. You can do the same. I hope you will then share your recipes, and the triumphs as well as the tragedies you encounter in your kitchen on your own journey to a "Maximized " lifestyle. And be sure to ask any questions you may have - they are usually questions for which LOTS of people need answers.

So, welcome, and, as one of my absolute favorite chefs, Jacques Pepin, always says, "Happy Cooking."