Petite Piglet Patties

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I was going to call these things “savoury sausage sliders,” or even “summer savoury sausage sliders,” but then the Pie suggested the above title and for some reason I started to laugh so hard I needed a tissue and had to sit down.  And then he suggested that, since we used hot italian sausage meat, we call them “picante petite piglet patties” and I may have told him to shut up at that point.

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Anyway.  These are sliders, if you hadn’t gathered that by now.  I picked up a package of ground sausage meat the other day and this is what we did with it.  Basic ingredients are about 1lb ground pork, 1 egg, half a white onion, and some fresh summer savoury.

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Mince up the savoury and the onion and chuck them in a bowl with the sausage meat and the egg.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Give that a good stir with a spoon and then mix in about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (or whatever kind of bread crumbs you have on hand).

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Form the goo into balls slightly larger than a golf ball but smaller than a cricket ball and flatten them into patties (I ended up with eleven patties).

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Fry those suckers up.  For some reason the light was such in my kitchen on this particular afternoon that it took us twelve tries (the Pie tried to help) of blurry patty photos before I gave up and used flash.

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While that’s on the go, why don’t you have yourself a salad, too?  Here we have a mixture of baby spinach, a small hunk of plain goat’s cheese (chevre), a handful of sliced almonds, another handful of dried cranberries, and a diced ripe pear.

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Then the dressing is 3 equal parts vegetable oil (I used almond, because we’re trying to use it up), rice vinegar, and orange juice).

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Toss it up!

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Top your sliders with whatever floats your boat.  I used mayo, tomatoes, avocado, and spinach.  The Pie voted for barbecue sauce and cheese.  We had them on some picnic buns I grabbed in the bakery section.

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All in all, a good summer meal. Don’t forget to eat your veggies! You see them peeking at you in the background? Don’t forget them!

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I love me some Granola

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My morning meal usually consists of coffee, juice, yogurt, and granola.  Like I could eat that stuff every single day.

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Until now, I’ve been buying our granola, but it’s quite expensive for the amount you get and it’s full of all sorts of weird additives and the like that I don’t really want to put in my system.

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My mother used to make granola for us sometimes when we were kids, so I figured that I could probably do it myself if I tried.  And it’s easy.  And you can use what you’ve got in your cupboards, or what you can scoop up at the bulk food store.  Which means you can customize each batch.

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So preheat your oven to 350°F and get out a large rimmed baking sheet.  I took the precaution of lining mine with parchment paper, so stuff wouldn’t stick.

The majority of granolas start with a base of oats, about 4 cups.  I used four double handfuls, because I measured my tiny hands once and put together that’s about what they hold.  And thus ends my list of measurements for this recipe.  Because you can do whatever you want.  So what else have I got going on here?  In addition to the oats, I have bran, ground flax, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, lavender flowers (yes), and then a selection of dried fruits: apricots, mango, and raisins.

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Take all your happy dry ingredients (minus the fruits) and plop them in a bowl.

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Mix ’em up.

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In another bowl, add about 1/2 cup runny honey,

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about 1/2 cup maple syrup,

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and about 1/2 cup melted butter.

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*** EDIT: If you’d like granola that forms clumps (and that’s my favourite kind), whisk 1 or 2 egg whites into a froth and add them to the mixture as well.  The protein in the whites will stick everything together during the baking process.  Just use caution when stirring mid-bake, as the amount you stir will affect the size of the clumps you create. ***

Pour that golden loveliness into the dry mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are coated.

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Spread that stuff out on your baking sheet and chuck that in the oven for about 40 minutes.

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Make sure to stir with a spatula every 10-15 minutes or so to keep the stuff on the bottom from burning.

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While that’s on the go, get your dried fruit ready. I chopped up the apricots and mango slices a little to make them easier to get on a spoon.

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Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan, stirring it occasionally to break up the chunks.  The finer grained your ingredients are, and the more sticky wet ingredients you use, the chunkier your granola will be.

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While it’s still a little warm, stir in your dried fruit.

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Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, and enjoy whenever you want!

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Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons

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I’ve had a real hankering after macaroons recently, so I decided to fulfill my craving.  And if you’re looking for good, easy, light and airy dessert ideas (gluten-free, too!) for Passover or Easter, this one (with any modifications you like, such as kosher ingredients) would probably do in a pinch.  And it’s a cinch.

Separate 3 large eggs.

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Bring the whites to room temperature by setting the bowl they’re in into another bowl of hot water — just make sure not to get the water where it shouldn’t be.

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Press plastic wrap into the surface of the spare yolks, seal them in an airtight container, and put them in the fridge to use in something else.

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Preheat your oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, plop your 3 room-temperature egg whites, 1/2 cup sugar, a sprinkle of salt and 2 teaspoons pure almond extract.

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Whisk those together until it’s all glossy and frothy and the sugar is mostly dissolved.  The frothier you get it, the better your macaroons will stick together and the fluffier they will be.  You won’t get a meringue out of this because you added the sugar at the beginning but you can get this lovely white stuff that works really well.

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Fold in 4 cups sweetened shredded/flaked coconut and 1 cup blanched sliced almonds.  Make sure the egg mixture is fully combined with the dry ingredients.

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I used a soup spoon to scoop these onto the baking sheets and ended up with about 20 cookies.

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Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until they’re a nice golden brown. Allow them to cool completely.

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For a bit more pizzazz, I melted a hunk of white chocolate and another of milk chocolate and dipped half the cookies in white chocolate, and the other in the milk and put them back on the parchment to dry.

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Deadly.

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Them’s Fightin’ Cookies

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

This is a recipe for gluten-free almond chocolate chip cookies.  I found it in Thursday’s issue of The Ottawa Citizen, where it was referenced to the California Almond Board.  Can we get more complicated?  Surely.  These cookies are also touted as a great energy snack after a workout (a cookie?  Really?).  Whatever they are, they’re gluten-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free, and, if you use carob instead of chocolate, then they are also dairy-free and vegan.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

So I figured I’d bake up a batch and try them out on my collection of captive guinea pigs — in this particular case, the Pie’s fighting game community, which meets every Sunday.  I’m sure that the last thing they need is more energy, but whatever.  They are good at ensuring the Pie and I are not left alone with too many cookies to eat by ourselves.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups almond flour (I did half coconut flour and half almond meal, because that’s what I had and I figured that the recipe actually meant almond flour, which is a finer grind, and not almond meal) with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

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In a smaller bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup grapeseed oil (regular canola or sunflower oil will do as well), 1/2 cup agave nectar (available at any health food store and many grocery stores — it’s basically sweet cactus sap, and they also make tequila out of it), and 1 tablespoon vanilla.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

I’ve finally busted open the home-made vanilla that Ando and Teedz gave me a couple Christmases ago.  It’s excellent, and I can just keep refilling the bottle to get more and more vanilla.  Fantastic!

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

I’m not sure if I had to do this, but I whisked the ingredients thoroughly together until they formed a lovely smooth and thick emulsion.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and make sure they’re thoroughly combined before folding in 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup sliced almonds.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

I didn’t have any sliced almonds so I just used some raw almonds, which I then toasted and crushed myself.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Using a tablespoon, drop the dough onto the parchment sheets and press down on the dough to flatten it a bit.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Well, that’s what the recipe said.  I had a hard time keeping mine together so I found if I used my hands and mashed them hard into little patties then I had better luck.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Bake those puppies for 7-10 minutes, until golden, before removing from the oven.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes before you try to peel them off.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

This recipe had potential, but it fell far short for me.  The cookies turned out a little burnt on the bottom despite me only cooking them for 7 minutes, and they were so very, very dry.  If I were to make these again (and I might), I would nix the oil and substitute in about 1/4 cup butter, salted (which means leaving out the salt in the recipe) and then 1 large egg instead.  If you still want to pursue the vegan route you could also substitute in some apple sauce.  In fact, I might add in some anyway, in addition to the butter and egg.  There simply was no glue holding this baby together.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip