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If there is one thing I love in this whole wide wide world that we live in- it is homemade soup.  Nothing soothes the soul more.  In winter time, soup will always be number 1 in this household, hence another soup recipe.

It seems to be all the rage these days to have homemade bone broth.  Many restaurants serve bone broth before your meal in my neck of the woods.  Bone broth?  I’ve been making it for years, only we always called it stock.  Whatever you want to call it – it is delicious and packs in a mighty bowl of nutrition which always puts a smile on my face.  There is nothing better on a cold winter night than a great bowl of soup.  There are a few posts on this blog about making stock/bone broth from scratch but will do a more detailed recap here.

We go to a local restaurant from time to time for a nutritious gluten free brunch (all organic using local farm fresh ingredients), and once in a while I will buy their frozen “made from scratch” chicken bone broth.  It is delicious.  They say they simmer their bone broth for 12 hours.  Interestingly enough, I usually simmer mine 6-8 hours and seem to get a “firmer” more gelatinous consistency with my soup compared to theirs.  Hmmm….wonder what the difference is?

I am diligent about saving roasted organic chicken carcasses to freeze. (my dear husband has said I am an anal freak when it comes to freezing chicken carcasses….and he is right!)  Usually there will always be 3 carcasses in the freezer at some point.  Today, there were 3 good size (not small) chicken carcasses, along with various bones from cooked chicken breasts, legs etc.  If there is left over chicken from the night before, the meat is cut off the bone and the bones go into the “chicken bone” bag in the freezer.

There are many recipes out there suggesting you make bone broth in a crock pot.  Sorry to say it, but it makes me cringe!  The reason being, is it is vital to skim the foam off the top of the soup – that is all of the impurities coming out of the bones.  Who wants to eat that?  It looks nasty and smells even worse.  I have not seen a crock pot recipe yet, that says to skim off the foam when using a crock pot. Perhaps there are some recipes out there and I’ve missed them?  In any event, with the end result you want a rich, CLEAR, very gelatinous broth and by skimming the foam off it will be beautiful bone broth. Many recipes also suggest to add a tablespoon or so of vinegar to bring out the nutrients of the bones – something I have never done before and yet we still end up with great tasting, rich gelatinous broth.

Some chefs say no aromatics.  No aromatics?  Not in my world – they add a depth and richness to the soup that in my humble opinion adds more flavor.  More flavor is always a good thing!

With 3 chicken carcasses and various other bones we ended up with 13 1/2 cups of rich broth.  6 1/2 cups went into the freezer (canning jars are great for this – just refrigerate over nite then freeze the next morning.)


3-4 organic roasted chicken bone carcasses and various other bone parts

2 medium carrots, roughly chopped

bunch of fresh flat leaf Italian parsley

5 fresh sage leaves

2 large Bay leaves

5 roughly chopped shallots (leave the skin on, cut off the root – the skin also adds color)

2 celery stalks, leaves included

3 green leek tops, well rinsed (optional – they were in the fridge so in they went)

Add all of the ingredients to a large stock pot.  Cover with water.  Bring to a steady bubbling boil.  Using a flat large spoon (or something similar) begin removing the foam.  This should take a good 20-30 min. on and off skimming.  Discard that yuck!

Then turn down to a very low low heat.  The bone broth wants to just pop up with a few bubbles of simmer like a “glug glug” here and there throughout the soup.  Monitor the heat to maintain this level and continue to cook for 6-8 hours.  No worries – while the bone broth was on the stove I went grocery shopping, banking, did laundry – no need to monitor the broth the whole 6-8 hours.  (I love making soup on my day off – yay!)

Very Important:  after 6-8 hours strain off the broth.  I use a colander to strain the bones veggies etc. into a very large stainless steel bowl.  Then I place a fine sieve over an 8 cup measuring cup and strain the broth in batches.


7 cups chicken bone broth

1  28 oz. can whole tomatoes including liquid – chop up the tomatoes into chunks

4 small shallots, halved, then sliced

3 swiss chard leaves and stems, chopped small – spinach is lovely here too

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

2 leeks, white part rinsed well, sliced in half and chopped

2/3 cup  rutabaga chop small

Cooked wild rice – cook just under 1/2 cup wild rice (or make 2/3 cup rice for a thicker soup) (we use Lundberg blend wild rice) cook as per directions

season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Bring the bone broth and tomatoes plus their juice to a simmer.  Add the rutabaga.  10 minutes later, add in the rest of the vegetables.  Simmer until tender.  Add in the wild rice and serve piping hot with some great gluten free bread or buns. – Enjoy this nutritious, healthy and delicious soup – it will make you happy! :)

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It seems Christmas Pudding and Christmas Cake is something you either love….. or not.  I have not had Christmas Pudding or Cake in many many many years, and I absolutely love them both.

(the above picture is not mine – I won’t be able to unveil my picture until Dec.24th so will keep everyone posted on the success of this endeavor)  In the meantime – here is how this Christmas Pudding was created. (I am 99% positive it will be a winner. The batter had just the right consistency you know?)

Before beginning this post I must give a huge thank you to a few people.  This recipe was inspired by a Gluten Free Christmas Pudding recipe from Jamie Oliver’s site – so many many thanks for creating a gluten free version of this wonderful Christmas Pudding.  Secondly, a huge thank you to Mairead of the blog Irish American Mom.  I took many tips from her recipe and in particular on how to steam the pudding using a crock pot.  Ingenious yes?  Please check out Mairead’s recipe – an excellent tutorial and post.

Then I found the answer here on how to store your Christmas pudding.  I wanted to store it in the same container as I will be reheating it on Christmas Eve to serve with Vanilla Custard.  As mentioned previously, I will show pictures of the end result on Dec. 24th – soooo excited!

In terms of this gluten free recipe, I did make a number of changes, as well as changing the method so will do a recap here. Plus the original recipe is in grams.  While I do have a scale, the grams are somewhat difficult to read/measure – so this recipe is converted into cups.  I used a 1.5 liter aluminum Christmas Pudding baking pan, and Mairead uses glass mixing bowls which work very well too.

It is a bit late in the year to make a Christmas Pudding – but oh well, it should be fine anyways.  (I made mine on Nov. 28/16) I have read you can actually make Christmas Pudding a few days before Christmas, but doing it earlier of course will enrich the flavors.

Next:  typically Christmas pudding is made with Brandy.  It just so happened, my dtr. & I attended a Christmas Craft show, where we found this:

The Wayward Order has created this spiced honey liqueur  made locally in Courtney B.C.  Wow what flavor.  It has such a touching write up on the bottle it is worth sharing here:




On the back of the bottle it says:  “Our Wayward Krupnik is a deeply aromatic blend of spices, citrus and wild B.C. honey delicately blended with our hand-crafted honey spirit to create a superbly rich and soul-warming liqueur.  Let the opulent tradition of this drink seep into your bones.  Krupnik is 100% natural.”

“CRAFTED BY HAND IN RIDICULOUSLY SMALL BATCHES”.   You gotta love it!  By the way, it tastes wonderful – and with the subtle flavors of spice and citrus it is perfect for Christmas Pudding. Plus, it is completely GLUTEN FREE!

Apparently Krupnik has just recently been released, so they did not have large batches available.  Next year I will definitely be getting some more.


2/3 cup currants

3/4 cup sour cherries – from canned in a jar (I roughly chopped the cherries and used the extra juice from chopping them)

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup cranberries

1/3 cup chopped dates

Juice and zest from 1 lime

Juice and zest from 1/2 a large orange

1/3 cup mixed peel

5 Tblsp. Earl Grey tea – cooled

1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

3 1/2 Tblsp. Krupnik or Brandy

3/4 cup Coconut sugar

1/2 a large apple – grated

1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts

1/3 cup Almond flour

Just slightly under 3/4 cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs (I used Udi’s bread to make the breadcrumbs)

1 tsp. gluten free baking powder

1/2 cup unsalted butter

pinch of salt

2 large organic eggs plus 1 large egg yoke

1 tsp. vanilla

24 hours ahead of time: in a large glass bowl combine the first 13 ingredients, including any juice from chopping the cherries.  Mix well, cover and let sit 24 hours.

The next day (to measure how much water you will need in your crock pot) put your Christmas Pudding baking pan into a large crock pot (mine is a 7 quart) and fill the crock pot with hot hot water to measure 3/4 up the sides of your  pan.  Remove the pan and set the crock pot on high to bring to a boil.  Mine took a good hour plus to reach to temperature.

Grease your baking pan with butter and cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the top of your pan.  Lightly grease the parchment with butter.

Next: add the chopped walnuts and grated apple to the fruit – mixing well.  In a separate bowl, whisk the almond flour, baking powder and breadcrumbs and set aside.

In another bowl beat the butter and sugar – it will be lumpy.  In a smaller bowl beat the eggs well, with a hand mixer then add to the butter/sugar mixture with the vanilla.  Beat well with the hand mixer.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg/sugar mixture stirring well with a wooden spoon, then add in the fruit and all the liquid again mixing well.  Pour into your prepared Christmas Pudding baking pan and top with the buttered parchment paper.

Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, then wrap the pan in tin foil twice to completely wrap and secure the baking pan.  Tie well with kitchen string leaving a bow at the top for easy, careful removal after steaming.

I followed Mairead’s instructions for steaming the pudding in a 7 quart crock pot:  1 hr. on high, and then 6 hr.’s on low.  Check half way through cooking time and if necessary top up the crock pot with more boiling water.

Here is a picture of the cooled Christmas Pudding still in the container:  (whooo hooo this is so gonna be good!)  At this point, once completely cooled, resize a lightly buttered piece of parchment paper to fit over the pudding.  Top with the lid, then wrap tightly twice in plastic wrap, then re-wrap twice in tin foil.  Store in a cool dry space. In the next post I will give information on reheating the pudding.

Stay tuned…for updates of the unveiling of my very first Gluten Free Christmas Pudding with Vanilla Custard – hopefully on Dec. 24/16.  Many thanks again to Jamie Oliver’s site, to Mairead of the blog, Irish American Mom, and to the Wayward Order…this could not have been done without you.  :)

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Recently I had read an article on the health benefits of cashew nuts.  When cashew nuts are soaked and pureed into a luscious smooth mixture it is a perfect addition to soups of all kinds. Then I found this recipe from Sarah, of Making Thyme For Health.  Wow, this takes cream of mushroom soup to a whole new level – it was truly delicious.  No need for real cream – personally I think this is better.

I did change the method, made it gluten free, and used a couple of different ingredients so will do a recap here. (If using a bouillon cube or powdered stock seasoning double check that it is gluten free – there are many on the market that are not) For the original recipe please check out Sarah’s lovely blog Making Thyme For Health.  Many thanks Sarah, your recipe is a winner!

For the cashews it is recommended to use a high powered blender, which always makes me think of a Vita Mix or a Blendtec – neither of which I have.  I used my old faithful Cuisinart and it worked like a charm.

2/3 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup wild rice

2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 large shallots, diced

3/4 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup diced celery with the leaves

4 minced garlic cloves

2 cups diced crimini mushrooms

1 tsp. salt

fresh cracked pepper

3 Tblsp. lite gluten free Tamari sauce

1 tsp. dried Thyme

2 tsp. fresh minced Sage

2 Tblsp. fresh minced Italian parsley

1 large Bay Leaf

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

2 Tblsp. nutritional yeast

1 Tblsp. arrowroot powder

1  1/2 cups homemade vegetable stock

If you did not want a Vegetarian/Vegan soup, organic chicken or beef stock would be lovely in this recipe too, just omit the nutritional yeast.  It would also make a great base for a seafood/clam chowder.

Cook the wild rice in 1 cup of water – on a low simmer, lid on for about 45 min.  Once cooked, and all the water is absorbed remove from the heat, lid on and set aside.

Add the cashew nuts to a medium sized heat proof bowl.  Cover with 2 1/2 cups boiling water and allow to soak 30-40 min.  Drain and add to your blender.  I added some of the almond milk a bit at a time and kept on liquefy until it was completely smooth (use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender with each blending process).  Once completely smooth, add in the rest of the almond milk, nutritional yeast, and arrowroot powder. Blend well, and transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Heat up a pot or dutch oven on low medium heat, and add in the EVOO.  Saute the mushrooms until nice and golden.  Season with the salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Add in the diced carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, fresh sage, fresh parsley and saute about 8 minutes.  Add in the homemade vegetable stock, tamari sauce and bay leaf, bring to a simmer, lid on and cook until the vegetables are tender – about 10-15 minutes.

Then add in the cashew/almond milk mixture, and the wild rice.  Stir well until combined and re-heat through – keep stirring as it will thicken.  Remove the bay leaf and serve piping hot with a sprinkle of fresh minced parsley.  Enjoy….we sure did!

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We are in full swing with rainy season in our neck of the woods.  It is hard to believe that November is already here…where do the months slip by?  Well, with fall comes pumpkins, and squashes of all kinds.  Despite the rainy season, I always look forward to creating new squash dishes of any kind.  [...]

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This cake was a delightful festive dessert.  If you love the flavors of gingerbread this is a cake for you.  It would be lovely for Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas and your house will smell divine while it is baking.  Apples would work nicely here too. We have just come into pear harvest in our area [...]

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Before commencing with today’s recipe I thought it fitting to make mention of our recent “Royal” visit.

Our fair city has been a whirl wind of activity for the past week. We have just finished our “Royal” visit with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Victoria B.C.  They spent the week touring throughout [...]

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Nothing says fall like beautiful squash – and much cooler temperatures too.  Work has finally slowed down….the tourists are going back home.  What a whirl wind of a summer we have had!  Still not sure where summer went and now it is already fall.

With the cooler weather,  we have been having more soups lately and [...]

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Thought I would post this early as beautiful fresh tomatoes in our neck of the woods are not too far away. With an abundance of heirloom tomatoes making stewed tomatoes is a great way to use them up.  Although for weeks on end we just eat them fresh off the vine.

We do not do much [...]

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I have never had Jamaican Jerk Chicken before.   My daughter recently returned from a vacation to Jamaica and she raved about the BBQ Jerk Chicken she had there.  She also went crazy over their curries.  So another recipe is in the works for down the road….I just need to find Tamarind paste….so far no [...]

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Although I do have a number of rice dishes on this blog….rice is not my favorite side dish.  Never has been. (unless it is Risotto or a lovely dessert rice pudding) However, if you make it into a pilaf, adding numerous flavorings and other ingredients, it creates a flavorful side dish indeed.

We recently discovered this [...]