Sunday, 14 December 2014

Leek and Spinach Quiche with Sweet Potato "Crust"

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Well friends the day has come - I've found employment again. A "huzzah!" is definitely in order, along with a quiche and a vacation or two. That's how everyone celebrates, right?

Truthfully the trips were planned and booked long ago, but my new workplace has been flexible enough to let me start after the new year, which makes me an even happier camper. So for the next week I'll be celebrating an early Christmas with family (and not posting to this wee blog) before returning, celebrating on actual Christmas with more family (and hopefully posting on this wee blog),  and then escaping winter with some of my closest friends to ring in the New Year and several 30th birthdays in Cuba (again, not posting on this wee blog). It's going to be jam-packed and I can't wait!

As it always seems to be with birthdays and holiday parties, home cooking has been scarce and indulgence has been plentiful. Add on to that the cold weather desire for comfort foods and, well, you have a not so healthy redhead. One way of combating this was to create some comfort food with a healthier spin. Enter the sweet potato "crust".

This is simply just sliced sweet potatoes lined in a pie plate and baked before topping it with a more traditional quiche filling. Don't get me wrong, I love an all butter crust as much as the next gal, but sometimes you just need to make delicious, delicious sacrifices. I was worried the potatoes wouldn't hold together well enough and would just slop all over my plate, but just enough of the egg mixture settled in between the nooks and crannies to hold it all in and a perfect slice was formed.

Best served when in need of a lightened up version of a traditionally rich food, and versatile to the max! The filling can be any combination of flavours you dream up, and to lighten it up more you can omit cheese all together (I was not willing to make that sacrifice).

Well, off I go! Have a happy week and I'll see you on the flip side!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Mushroom and Kale Phyllo Roll

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I'm not sure if you've heard, but December is sort of a busy month. Not only do we have the usual holiday shenanigans, but mine also happens to be chock full of birthdays. And to top it all off, I just happen to be of that age where friends are starting to have a certain significant birthday, which means extra effort seems to be going into the fun having. You'll find absolutely no complaints here, but I feel like I've been out every night for a month. So after what seems like endless celebrations, and more to come, a home cooked meal is just what we needed. 

Packed with mushrooms and kale, this phyllo roll is all kinds of earthy goodness wrapped up in a flaky, crispy shell. The combination is savoury, the pastry adds a light and airy undertone and just a touch of cheddar adds a welcome richnesses without going overboard. All in all, I'd say this is a keeper.

This meal came together pretty quickly which makes it a great weeknight option when you're short on time - but the outcome feels (and tastes) like it would be a great option for when guests are on their way. So whether it's for your next meatless monday (or tuesday!), or you're hosting for a crowd, I think I've got just the thing you need.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Mushroom and Kale Phyllo Roll
adapted from Oh She Glows

7 sheets Phyllo dough, thaw according to package directions
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil - for brushing each layer of pastry
16 oz sliced white or crimini mushrooms
1 leek, chopped (I used mostly the greens and it yielded about 1 1/4 cups)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 bunch kale leaves with stems removed, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Thaw Phyllo dough according to package directions
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. In a large skillet, cook the mushrooms until the water has released and evaporated, about 10 minutes
  4. Add in the garlic, oil, leek, and kale. Cook for another 5 minutes on and add salt and pepper to taste 
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese
  6. While the mushrooms are cooking down, place 1 sheet of Phyllo dough onto prepared baking sheet and brush on a thin layer of oil. Repeat for all layers.
  7. spread the mushroom filling lengthwise, fold in the edges, and then roll into a log. 
  8. Brush log with a final layer of oil and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. 
  9. Enjoy!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Lavender Shortbread

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Sometimes you want to feel just a little bit fancy. So you put on some lipstick, or curl your hair, or drink your tea from fine china, or put lavender in your shortbread...

I guess that's how I was feeling recently, because I definitely put lavender in my shortbread, and I wish I'd done it sooner.

When we were in China, Christmas baking was near non-existent so this year I want to crank it up a notch. I've got a couple things hiding in the freezer already (much to Other Half's chagrin... sharing isn't really his thing when it comes to baked goods) including this shortbread, and a few more in my brain waiting to make it to the oven.

People often ask if we're glad to be back in Canada, the answer is a resounding yes, but it's the little things like Christmas baking that really bring the point home for me. *let's out deep sigh of contentment*

This shortbread turned out to be subtly sweet and floral and would be perfect dunked into a cup of tea or even hot chocolate (for an extra indulgent treat). I think it would also be amazing with any dried herb/flower/tea of choice. Chai shortbread!? ummm yes! Or perhaps cocoa-mint is more your speed? Or rosemary? Or earl grey? Or, or, or!? The possibilities really are endless here. I can't recommend some good old fashioned experimentation enough. If nothing else, at least you'll feel a little bit fancy!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Vegan Salted Chocolate Covered Caramels

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If a food ever had a trick up its sleeve, it would be these vegan salted chocolate covered caramels. They are so delectably indulgent that you'd never guess the normal butter/sugar combination that makes caramel has been replaced by a blended up date with a touch of coconut oil. Draped in a layer of almond butter before dipped and coated in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt, these morsels of goodness not only easy (though time consuming) but also slightly less guilt inducing at the same time, which in essence is my kind of caramel. 

These got whipped up on a day of "getting into the Christmas spirit" with my sister as we tried in desperation to find a Christmas movie we hadn't seen 100,000 times but in the end had to settle with the always appreciated National Lampoons Christmas. And a word to the wise, don't even bother turning on the Lady Gaga/Muppets Holiday collaboration ... just trust me on this. Though perhaps you have better judgement than me in the first place. 

Based on this recipe from Minimalist Baker, these caramels have a salty sweet aspect that worked its charm on everyone. These disappeared at record pace and left a caramel sized whole in the hearts of those who enjoyed .... soon to be filled by another treat, I'm sure!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Wide Angle: Vol. 16

Pin It Happy Monday friends! This month's instalment of Wide Angle, in which we take a look at what's happening behind the scenes is brought to by a lot of nature walks and scenic sunsets. My first autumn back in Canada did not disappoint with the amazing foliage change, and while that's all done and gone by now (we even survived our first snowfall!), these images are relaxing to my mind and soul and hope they do the same for you.

1. & 2. This doesn't look like downtown Toronto, does it? But it is! This is why I love volunteering with Evergreen Brickworks. They are smack in the middle of Toronto (in the Don Valley) and my commute there (photo #1) and the site (photo #2) are some of my favourite Toronto scenes, because they are the most unexpected.

3. Sunset on the road. This was mega.

4. There were so many perfect fall leaves this year it blew my mind every single day. I like fall, but I also find it sad, because it signifies the end of summer and the impending doom of short sunlight hours and bitter cold temperatures. However, it's impossible not to be happy when such amazing colours are thrust in your face.

5. Another scene from the Brickworks and a solid message to boot!

6. An end of season stroll with husband and dogs is a pretty blissful time.

7. Please, if you know what breed this dog is, tell me!! It's just so amazing and huge and, I mean, those ears!

8. Nothing makes you feel more fresh and ready to take on new things than a good haircut. I'm pretty picky about who can cut my hair, and so didn't get my haircut once while living in China (for the best really, curly hair is just not in their repertoire). I travel 45 minutes to a different city entirely to get mine done and it feels worth it every time!

Until next time!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

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Sometimes, pancakes are the answer to everything. They are so warm and comforting and the cinnamon-y scent of this batch in particular just makes me want to shrink down and use one of these as a big puffy blanket. Is that weird? It is. I'm sure. But make these and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Pancakes are a rarity in this household because while the breakfast food genre is my favourite of all the food genres, it's Other Half's least favourite. Which is heartbreaking when you are a die-hard brunch fan such as myself.

If we go out for brunch, I first have to convince Other Half that it's worth it and no, we shouldn't just wait and go for sushi later - which is his response to everything. If I can manage to get him there then guaranteed he's look for the least breakfast-y thing on the menu. Unless there's Huevos Rancheros ... who doesn't automatically just order that? Or maybe that's just me?

Pancakes are also doubly hard with Other Half because he prefers crepes to pancakes 10-fold. I think it has something to do with him preferring to squish his food down no matter what he's cooking. A light and fluffy pancake is generally lost on him.

So, when I asked him he felt like pumpkin pancakes for breakfast I naturally expected him to pose an alternate suggestion, of sushi. However, when he gave me a simple "yeah, sure". I sat for 30 seconds in shock and then leapt to the kitchen before he had a chance to tune into what he'd just agreed to.

These whipped up really quickly, and I based them off of this recipe from New South Food Co. They are also pretty flexible, if you have only regular white all purpose flour, no problem! Lacking certain spices? No problem! Just be sure to sub in enough to make them flavourful - though I will say cinnamon is crucial. Use your milk of choice, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk and it was delicious, but any milk will do. And if you want to make these vegan, you could try subbing in a flax egg for the real one!

For this recipe I also used homemade pumpkin puree that I had left over, but the canned stuff will do just as well. Just make sure you're using pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Farm Fresh

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Another Monday, another Farm Fresh! Switching to a biweekly program has definitely worked better for us and feels like less pressure. Phew!

It has been insanely cold the last little while, which is really making me feel good about this hibernation thing. Dark by 5:00? Zero degrees? Oh yeah, I'll just sit quietly inside thanks. Luckily, in times like this, the food is brought to me allowing me to stay as snug as possible.

One of the best parts of this farm share is the amazing selection of colours that arrive with each box. I mean, just look at that kale! Have you ever seen such a beautiful deep purple? Phenomenal.

Anyway, let's get to it. This week's share featured:

Sweet Potatoes
Red Onion
Cucumber (not pictured)
Carrots (not pictured)
Broccoli (not pictured)

And with this haul I'm planning all kinds of wonderful nibbles. The broccoli has already gone to a simple and tasty pesto pasta with shrimp, and half the kale has been sautéed with salt and pepper which created a simple and crispy side - delicious. I'm also interested in creating some sort of mushroom, kale, phyllo roll up thing (I'll definitely have to work on a better name for that one). Other Half can't make a smoothie with less than two bananas so those and more get gobbled up pretty quickly. I recently saw a quiche recipe that used sweet potatoes as the crust, which is pretty intriguing and I still haven't really made a sweet apple treat, so perhaps this is my week.

....and I think that'll keep my busy enough for the week. Until next time!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Simple Dill Potatoes

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Remember that time I told you all I'm about good for these days is Netflix marathons and the most basic of kitchen basics? Yeah? Good. Because that's still a thing.

Some of you may have noticed that my posts are getting a bit shorter, and I'm sharing less. I promise you dear reader, you should not take it personally. I still share everything there is to share. The problem is, there just isn't that much to share these days.

The transition from China to Canada has been, in some ways, great and everything I could have hoped for. But in others ways, it's been beyond difficult. After we landed I pretty much threw myself into wedding planning. It was a blast. It was exciting. It let me forget that I needed to find a new job. Then we got married. And it was the most perfect day. It was fun and laid back and filled with the most amazing flowers. Then we went to Chicago, and it was the best. I found a new city to love, we got free wine, and I ate more than I care to admit. All great things. Then we moved into our new apartment. It got set up and I got cooking in a real sized kitchen after two years in Barbie's fun house. The greatness continues.

Then I started to really get serious about the whole job hunt thing. And there I have stayed. Seriously job hunting. Seriously pulling on networks. Seriously getting serious. To say this has been the easy part of the transition would be a big lie. It sucks. A lot. Everyone knows this. I'm not unearthing any great truths here. It's boring and frustrating. I go through the feeling of being both over qualified and under qualified several times a day. It's been a huge mental strain that has seen some pretty ugly days (and don't worry, some also not so ugly days where I'm happy just to keep on keepin' on).

And you know why this is all ok? Because this is the risk I 100% knew I was taking when the decision to move to China in the first place was made. And so I continue, knowing these things take time, but steadfastly remaining one of the most impatient people I know. Have I ever told you I can be a bit of a walking contradiction? Because I can. My patient impatience is a pretty prime example.

So, there you have it internet, that's me. Trying to be honest in the good and the could-be-better. Now let's talk about potatoes. Simple, humble, comforting potatoes.

These potatoes are boiled and then fried. Tossed with parmesan, dill, and salt. And eaten. And eaten again. And probably again because there's that great addictive quality about them that takes hold when you mix things like salt and fresh herbs. They are also cooked in the cast iron because it makes it feel both fancy and rustic at the same time which is pretty wonderful way for a potato to feel.

These took all of 20 minutes to make, including chopping time and could be mixed with a whole variety of different herbs to really spice things up. Basil and Oregano? Why not! Rosemary? Oh heck yes! Go wild friends, and make yourself some potatoes.

Click through for the recipe!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Link Love-In: Hibernation Mode

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You guys, something terrible is happening. I'm losing motivation. To cook, to bake, to play with my food. It's terrifying and disconcerting and I blame a large chunk of it on this blasted daylight savings time thing people have been harping on about for all these years - making short days feel shorter.

It's resulted in waaaaay to many episodes of Gilmore Girls. Seriously, it's like a fix that I just can't fulfill. It's a sickness and a disease that I'm looking at getting help for.  They shouldn't offer almost endless episodes of anything at the click of a button, it's too easy folks.

With these two things combined I'm about to enter into hibernation. I'll see you in April. May if we have lots of snow.

In the mean time, here are some things I've found interesting as of late.

I lived in Amsterdam for a while during university. As a result it's one of my most favourite cities on the planet. I once took a solo bike trip to see the tulip fields and famous Keukenhof Gardens. Here's an idea of what I say that day.

I recently made this Kale and Feta Loaf. It was delicious and going heavy on the pepper was a happy mistake.

If I can tear myself away from my new best friends, The Gilmores, then I'm also hoping to make these vegan caramels. Check back in June, I might have mustered up the bother to make them by then.

I just learned what an Étagère was. I like the idea, but this is probably the only time I'll be able to use the word. Cool.

Making pasta from scratch definitely goes beyond the realm of my motivation in the kitchen at the moment. Someone else try this and tell me how it went. Thanks.

Until next time!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Sweet Potato Hummus

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Apparently Toronto had a hummuseria (that's a word now) in its midst and I didn't know about it until was already closed. Admittedly, it was only open for a short while, almost all of which while I was in China, so while yes, I am horrifically out of the loop on what is going on in this fair city of mine, this one was not entirely my fault ... or so I like to think. I also like to think there was every possible flavour of hummus imaginable available in that magical little space.  I mean, just imagine the possibilities!

Roasted garlic, beet, edamame, white bean, and so on, and so on, and so on. And yes, sweet potato. Now this is obviously all conjecture because I actually have no idea what they had going on in there, but in my world it was sublime.

I think I'm digressing here.

Let's talk about this hummus.

It's seasonal, sweet, savoury, garlic-y, a touch lemon-y, and deeelightful eaten with garlic parmesan pretzel crisp things.

It follows this basic recipe but includes sweet potato (obviously) and a few minor tweaks here and there. The result is a refreshing take on a classic that keeps it seasonal.

For an added kick I little cayenne would also be awesome in this... perhaps I'll try that next time!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Farm Fresh

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Just a little late with this one today, but never fear, it's still Monday and that means we're getting Farm Fresh up in here!

As I mentioned in my last post of this series we've cut our order back to every two weeks because we just couldn't keep up (that's about the only time you'll ever hear me claim there's just too much food!). Along with that decision came the choice to switch from pure local organic to local and imported organic. Because we are (shockingly) already in November, the growing season in Ontario has moved to the root vegetable side of the spectrum, so for the next few months, until the spring season starts up again, we'll be mixing it up a bit.

What does that mean for the farm box? well about 70-80% is still grown locally either on their farm or neighbouring farms. The rest is imported from certified organic growers in other locations.  We got an immediate reward for the switch this week when very happily found two gorgeous and perfect avocados, something I love but don't buy often.

Anyway, as usual it was a good haul with lots of goodies coming to mind. So, here's what we got:

1 beautiful bunch of deep purple kale
1 head of lettuce
1 bunch baby bok choi
5 apples
1 bunch bananas
2 avocados
10ish potatoes
3 large sweet potatoes
1 acorn squash
8-10 beets

And here's what I'm planning: I've already made this carrot and beet salad to accompany some falafel; the bananas will speedily get consumed in Other Half's two-bananas-per-smoothie addiction; this recipe for crispy baked fries looks too good to ignore; and I've been craving a coconut curry of some sort recently and I think a squash/bok choi version might be just the right mix.

Do you have any inspiring ideas for me? Do share!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Roasted Tomato Soup

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Happy Hallowe'en! May your day be filled with too much candy, not too many slutty versions of unassuming costumes, and a good dose of tricks and treats. I'll be heading out on the town withs some friends and no general plan to see what the night has in store... which is hopefully only good things!

Do you have any big hallowe'en plans? Do share!

Anyway, on to the soup. Up until now if you had asked me what my least favourite of all the soups were, I would have unhesitatingly answered "Tomato!"

I just didn't get the appeal, I mean the flavour was fine but when you have a whole world of other soups out there, why would you ever choose tomato!?

Well folks, I stand corrected, because the world has brought me roasted tomato soup and I am forever grateful.

This soup is super cozy and comforting, and roasting the tomatoes first adds a ridiculous depth of flavour that regular old tomato soup just won't give you. So while I wouldn't fully call myself a tomato soup convert, I will gladly take a bowl of this deliciousness anytime!

When I'm feeling out of my element I have a tendency to want to over-add things to a dish because I figure the more the merrier. While this sometimes works, it also definitely sometimes does not. I knew for something as basic as tomato soup I needed to keep it simple, so I practiced a lot of restraint in order to do so, and it really worked in my favour.  So while I didn't keep it purely tomato I did dial it back a few notches from what I was originally planning.

One thing I did do to add to the flavour of this soup I also roasted up a red pepper and some white radishes that desperately needed to be used. Neither of these overpowered the soup, but did add that little something extra. Served with some crusty whole wheat sour dough from the local bakery this was the perfect meal for a cold night.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 27 October 2014

9 Fresh Takes on Hallowe'en

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You guys, I'm feeling fresh lately. I recently cut off what feels like 983,412 inches of hair and i'm sporting a look that is very new to me. And I'm loving it. I was in need of a change and this was a great kickstart.

To continue on with this feeling of freshness, and my love for getting seasonal I thought I'd give a little round up of Hallowe'en themed DIY's and food-stuffs to help get in the spooky spirit.

If you're anything like me (or perhaps even nothing like me), you don't necessarily desire reams of cotton cobwebs and plastic witches to take over your abode. Maybe, you're looking for something a little more simple, modern, or homemade. Halloween doesn't have to be just for the kids and I think if you dig around these links you'll find there are a lot of ways to keep it fresh. Enjoy!

Keep your pumpkins looking mod with this Ombre DIY (via Martha Stewart)
Avoid the pumpkin thing altogether and opt for this awesome pineapple-olantern instead (via The Sweetest Occasion)
This Boo Banner is simple, modern, and not at all kitsch or childish (via A Beautiful Mess)
This black flatware set is super subtle and beautiful (via Design Within Reach)
While I might leave off the spider, this web cake is thematic in a simple and charming way (via The Cake Blog)
Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn? Yes, please. (via Lemon Tree Dwelling)
If you're looking for something else to do with all of those pumpkin seeds, these sweet and spicy pepita clusters look crazy good! (via Organic Gardening)
Traditional colours, untraditional snack. Done. (via Joy the Baker)
This whole black and white party is a modern take, but the photo for this blackberry cocktail is the most inspiring (via Style Me Pretty)

Friday, 24 October 2014

Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream Float

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Fridays seem like such a great day to indulge in an extra special treat, don't you think?

It's the end of the working week. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, you've made it.

You've met with that pesky client and came out with clear objectives. Well done!

You've read and marked 56 short stories, of which only one made any grammatical sense. Bravo!

You've successfully avoided your boss long enough so they can't reasonably ask you to work this weekend. You're a champ!

What a great/long/productive/exhausting week it's been. No matter which adjective you choose to use, you deserve a treat. So let's do this!

To break this down for you we've got ice cubes made out of coffee, almond milk, pumpkin spice syrup, coffee, and vanilla ice cream. All of these a great things to have individually, but when you put them together ... that's when the magic happens.

Bitter coffee with sweet ice cream. Spicey pumpkin syrup with cool ice cubes. Just the right amount of creaminess from the almond milk. There's a lot going on, and it's fantastic.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Farm Fresh

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It's rainy and dreary and Monday where I am, which is an unpleasant mixture of characteristics that can only be made better by talking about food. Or consuming chocolate. Or playing with puppies. 

I don't have any chocolate or puppies. So let's talk!

Other Half and I have made the decision to cut our farm shares back to a biweekly order. Even the small share seemed to be just a tad too much for us to handle each week without feeling like we were going to let something rot, which is the opposite of the purpose of this whole thing.

So, I'll still be posting Farm Fresh on Monday's but it will only occur every other week. In between will be the usual collection of recipes and whatnot.

These weeks share was the most cold weather box to date. It was full to bursting with roots and autumnal fruit and veg. Here's a closer look:

1 bunch white radish
1 bunch baby bok choi
5 apples
2 tomatoes
1 large head of broccoli
3 sweet potatoes
approx. 15 mini white potatoes
approx. 10 red and white carrots
2 red onion

I have recently perfected my pizza dough recipe (which I'll hopefully share soon), and so I'm hoping that some of the mini potatoes will go to a roasted potato pizza with caramelized onion. The apples are destined for an apple-cinnimon skillet cake, if I can get to it before Other Half puts them all in his morning smoothies. And a mixed vegetable strata will likely take care of the bok choi, broccoli, and several carrots.

What are you cooking this week?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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I should probably just start a new feature called "pie for breakfast" because with this smoothie, and these Apple Pie Breakfast Bars, I am well on my to proving how much I like to mask everything so it tastes like dessert. I can see it now... pecan pie overnight oats, lemon meringue pancakes. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Until I run out of pies. Which would happen in approximately 11 days. Because I cannot name more than 11 pies. How sad.

Oh well, at least I've got this smoothie.

Smoothies are a daily consumption in this household and while I have my go to mix-ins, I am trying to broaden my horizons a bit. And since it's all-pumpkin-all-the-time these days, the move to adding pumpkin in my morning smoothie was only a matter of time.

Pumpkin is fairly dense in smoothies and can sometimes create a semi-gelatenous texture - not something I'm a personal fan of - so to combat this I've added more liquid than I normally would in other smoothies. Though this is personal preference.

To make this morning mixture even more nutritionally satisfying I've added some goodies like ground chia seeds, hemp hearts, and flax seeds. If you don't have these don't worry about it. They don't alter the flavour but they do add a recommended boost and can assist in keeping you feel full longer.

Keeping reading for the recipe!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Wide Angle: Vol. 15

Pin It Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving! A day made for taking a moment to find gratitude for the big and small things in your life. I have a lot to be thankful for this year and I was lucky enough to have not 1, but 3 hearty meals with family.

Because I've been in France for the last week (yes, it was great), and I'm still fighting some bleary-eyed jet lag, I don't have a food post or a travel post. Just quick little look at what's been happening behind the scenes.

It's been busy and awesome and I'm thankful for every second of it. So let's get to it.

1. & 2. Are a couple of glimpses from when I was exploring the new neighbourhood. Unfortunately the ferris wheel was a temporary installation for a local street festival.

3. That gold french press is the thing of dreams. It was given to be by my sister as part of a wedding shower gift and it makes coffee time feel 1,000 times more glamorous, instantly.

4. Beautiful flowers also help make coffee time extra special. Just saying.

5. Did I mention I went to Paris!? I had the chance to stay with two wonderful human beings in the most picture perfect Parisian apartment. To make it even more perfect, one of them happens to work around the corner from this famous site. A fact I was informed of but didn't truly believe until I parted ways with her and then stumbled on this view. I was charmed.

6. After Paris it was time for some good ol' country life. This also led to a few side trips, which led to ridiculously charming views, in ridiculously charming villages. France is charming.

7. This is where I'm lucky enough to call home (in France).

8. That is not a painting, I swear. Coulon in the Marais is a sweet little village with some pretty great views. It is also the home of a cafe that will serve an entire baked camembert on top of a salad. I ate the whole thing.

Well friends, that's me. I'm going to spend the next couple days getting over this jet lag, but I'll be back soon, and hopefully with something tasty to share!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Link Love-In: The Paris Edition

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Surprise! There's going to be no Farm Fresh for the next two weeks because I'm in France this week (and feeling so gosh darn lucky to be here!) and next week is Canadian Thanksgiving. That means that on both occasions where I'm supposed to be showing you all the lovely fresh veg I've got to work with over the next week, I'm actually stuffing my face full of delightful treats.  This week is all about rich cheeses and flaky croissants, and next week it's pumpkin pie and gravy coated potatoes. Ooooh baby! And in week three, I'll be wearing bulky sweaters and flawy skirts to hide it all. I can't wait!

Anyyywayyyy.... As I said, I'm in France right now! I had the luxury of spending the last two days in Paris with two very dear friends of mine, caught up with old friends from my days of living in Amsterdam, and now I'm lounging in the Poitou-Charantes region soaking up some country life.  Yes, it's as charming as it sounds. Yes, my intent is to make you jealous.

Actually, that's not true. Jealousy is not my angle. I heart you all.

In lieu of a regular post we're going to check out some sweet links that may or may not be thematic.

They are totally thematic.


These maps to "secret" Paris are just great! I would like to get lost in every one of them. (via Messy Nessy Chic)

Oh, were this my apartment... (via This is Glamorous)

I'm a wanderer when I travel. I feel like they made this for me. (via Kevin and Amanda)

This in-depth about Paris, centred on the Seine is full of interesting facts and tidbits. Oh the things those divers must find! (via National Geographic)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Pumpkin Carrot Muffins

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We're not even two full days into October and already there has been a huge pumpkin overload in the blogosphere. And I totally get it. Once the season hits I'm all pumpkin all the time.

This morning I made myself a Pumpkin Spice Latte (using this recipe), a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, and I ate one of these Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins. And I won't even admit to overdoing it, because every sip and every bite was totally awesome.

I will however try to not overwhelm you with 52,348 pumpkin recipes this fall. No promises, but I'll try.

I totally love when muffins are all craggily and misshapen, it makes it look like I might be eating something healthy. Like there isn't a load of butter and oil and whatnot to smooth out all the edges. You know? No? Just me? Ok. Don't ask me where I got that logic, but I'm sticking to it. And, I'll happily note these little morsels are relatively good for you. Certainly better than the oil packed versions you'll get at the local coffee shop, anyway.

I packed these full of good things like whole wheat flour, shredded carrot, ground chia seeds, and chopped walnuts. And just because I can, I added some chocolate chips. Because everything is better with chocolate chips.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Farm Fresh - Week 4

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We're one month into our farm share adventure and feeling good! This process has really forced us to cook in a lot more and be really mindful of the ingredients we're using, resulting in less food waste and money saved. Win. And win.

It's also been phenomenally awesome to be able to enjoy so much lovely fresh and organic goods grown so close to home. It's no secret that Other Half and I had a lot of issues with access to foods that were healthy and safe to eat while we were living in China, often resulting in splurging on $7 lettuce during day trips to Hong Kong just because I really freaking needed a salad. Don't get me wrong, we had to turn a blind eye a lot, especially when eating out, but let's be real - a blind eye is never blind and it really started to wear on us. In short - hooray for food regulations!

We're definitely starting to get an autumnal vibe with our boxes, and that's a great thing! I love warming foods and these ingredients are perfect for that. So, shall we?

This weeks delivery included:

1 (very) large green cabbage - not shown, I forgot
3 tomatoes
1 head of garlic
2 yellow onions
1 bunch of carrots with the most lovely greens on top
4 bell peppers - 1 red, orange, yellow, and mottled yellow
10-15 small white potatoes
1 head of lettuce
1 bunch of spinach
1 butternut squash
6 apples

I'm in the mood for a good curry, and have wanted to try making biryani for a little while now, so I think one night this week will be dedicated to using the potatoes and spinach in some sort of aloo palak combination and have ourselves a little Indian feast (this will also use up some onion and garlic). I've been making a lot of soups because they are simple to make, tasty to eat, and use up lots of leftovers - this week I think it'll be a butternut squash and coconut version.

To be honest I'm a little nervous about the cabbage, I'm not used to cooking with it much because it often hurts my stomach and I loathe and detest coleslaw which is about as far as my cabbage knowledge goes, so if you have any great ideas for me please do share!

To recap what actually got made with last weeks share, there was the carrot, apple, and ginger soup, and the apple pie breakfast bars. Additionally, behind the scenes we ate a huge Mexican feast of corn salad, rice and beans, and quesadillas. I also finally got around to making the garlic and parmesan potatoes I've been talking about - these were only okay and I definitely have some ideas for improvements. And finally, last weeks head of lettuce and veggie remnants went to some vegetarian lettuce wraps that were a deliciously messy treat.

What are you cooking up this week?

Friday, 26 September 2014

Apple Pie Breakfast Bars

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Pie for breakfast? Yes. Always yes.

That's pretty much what we're making today, except instead of a flakey crust filled with sugary apples we're creating an oat-y exterior with a slightly sweet, but mostly just apples interior. But, thanks to that magical combination of apples and cinnamon (with just a touch of sugar) it feels more dessert-like than breakfast-like and it makes us feel like the good ol' days where we could eat cold pizza and half a chocolate cake for breakfast without worrying about anything at all. Don't judge me.

We're keeping it short today because it's Friday, and the cat has come into the habit of laying in front of/on top of the key board making this whole typing thing a bit difficult. So, let's not waste any more time, you go get these whipped up (you'll thank me) and I'll go give Miss Zorra (the cat) the belly rub she's been after.

Have a happy Friday!

Keep reading for the recipe...

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Carrot, Apple, and Ginger Soup

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Happy first day of autumn everyone! The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and we're all walking around saying how happy we are to be welcoming the cooler weather, when in reality we're all silently lamenting the loss of summer. Welcome to this fresh new season!

As I hinted at yesterday I've whipped up this soup to ring in the new season with open arms and warm bellies. This tastes exactly how it looks, warm and inviting. And despite this being completely vegan there's a definite creaminess that lines the body with autumnal happiness.

The ginger adds a slight spiciness that is definitely "there" but not at all overpowering, the apples lend a certain sweetness, and the carrots make it all earthy and balanced. In short this is a soup for the season.

And as are most things that I churn out of my kitchen, this is super simple and is definitely something that can be whipped up for a quick weeknight meal. It's also so utterly tasty that you'll likely be making it for your next dinner party/potluck/gathering-of-people-you-invite-just-to-impress-with-soup. Seriously friends, this is a winner.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to go eat more soup and then put on my cutest fall boots and find a pile of leaves to jump in.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Farm Fresh - Week 3

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Happy Monday! Many humans least favourite day of the week... except mine, I personally hate Tuesdays.

Instead of moping around because everyone in the whole world has a "case of the mondays" let's take a look at the yummy farm fresh produce we've got going on this week and then think about all the yummy meals we can make! So much better than moping.

Even if you don't have a weekly delivery of delicious local and organic foods waiting to be used, that doesn't mean you can't spend your Monday food-dreaming and planning all the delightful treats just waiting to be made. It's a great time to sit down and focus on the week ahead and get your creative juices flowing.

If you are interested in starting with a farm-share program, there are several links in this post that will lead you in the right direction (provided you live in Ontario). Alternatively why not check out your local farmers market? Most of them will run until at least late October. Check out this website to help you find the closest one near you.

Let's do this!

This week's box featured:

2 large tomatoes
1 head of green leaf lettuce
1 bag of mixed salad greens
2 small heads of broccoli
1 large yellow onion
1 bulb of garlic
4 fresh green cayenne peppers
6 apples
10 small red potatoes (approximately)
2 lbs of carrots (not pictured)
4 cobs of corn

What a week it's going to be! I've already got a pot of carrot, apple and ginger soup on the the stove to welcome the new season (and use some of those apples and carrots!). Last week instead of the corn salad I had thought of making I ended up whipping up some fresh corn salsa when some pals came to visit, so I think this weeks corn will go to that original thought and the potatoes will go to some classic smashed potatoes in garlic butter. Oh, and more of those apples are definitely destined for some sort of hearty dessert or breakfast bar!

Any other thoughts or ideas for me? What are you planning on cooking/baking this week?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Leek, Feta, and Roasted Tomato Savoury Scones

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Nothing makes me feel more accomplished in the kitchen than a successful scone recipe. Scones aren't that complicated or difficult, and in fact they are super adaptable. But there's just something about a warm, fluffy scone that makes me think "Yeah I did!"

For this recipe I used Smitten Kitchen's basic cream scone recipe and altered to my needs. Her recipe is great and has yet to fail me (not that I make all that many scones). Having received so many big tomatoes in the last couple of weeks from our farm box, I wanted to feature them in some way that wasn't just a salad, and since I like to roast just about everything I can I figured that was the direction I would take here.

Roasting tomatoes is super easy, and while I had only ever tried it with small tomatoes, big tomatoes works just as well. The flavour enhances to a point of smoky/sweet/savoury complexity and the process is just so dang easy. These would be great as a replacement to your regular salad tomatoes, as part of your next soup, pasta sauce, or scone! Seriously. Try it.

The feta and leek were obvious additions as they both enhance the savoury factor (and taste ridiculously good together), and in the end I ended up with a melt-in-your-mouth, eat-two-at-a-time, don't-judge-me treat.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Farm Fresh - Week 2

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Another Monday, another farm share post! As a reminder, Other Half and I recently purchased a share in a local CSA program and each week I'll be sharing what we received and what we plan to do with it, along with any winner recipes that may come from it. Last week was a success with both this Spinach Pasta Bake and this Tomatillo Salsa Verde.

This week was just as plentiful and just as exciting.  Before picking up our share we were worried that it was going to be a carbon copy of the week before, which wouldn't have been terrible because we love what we received, but variety is the spice of life ... or so they say.

Happily this week was different enough that meal planning cogs started turning almost immediately! Here's what we got:

1 (very) large eggplant
4 cobs of corn
1 bunch of swiss chard
2 large red bell peppers
2 large onions
2 large tomatoes
2 bulbs of garlic
5 large red potatoes
1 bag of mixed salad greens
2 cantaloupes

I've always wanted to try making garlic parmesan fries like these, so at least a few of the potatoes will hopefully be going towards that.  The corn is destined for a Mexican corn salad in which I'm hoping to emulate the flavours of the amazing corn bar at our recent wedding. The bell peppers, swiss chard and eggplant will go towards stuffed peppers, hopefully of the thai curry variety and the cantaloupe took our smoothies to the next level last week, so at least one of them will continue to be used for those, but hopefully the other will find its way into some sort of dessert. Phew! It's going to be a busy week!

What are you cooking up this week?

Until next time!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

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Happy weekend! Have some salsa.

This salsa is fresh, bright (yes, food can be bright), and addictive. It features tomatillos (a small green item that at first resembles a brussel sprout but is actually related to the tomato and has a dry husk on the outside keeping it safe. I also threw in some yellow and red cherry tomatoes from my brother-in-law's garden for some extra colour.

Like just about every recipe I share this one is super simple and comes together in a snap. You basically just throw everything in a food processor and watch the magic happen. It's the best kind of recipe.

Make it for a crowd. Make it for yourself. Make it for your new neighbours. Whomever you make it for, make sure you make it!

This is great as a regular dip but would be amazing as an addition to a bigger fiesta feast night. The next time I happen upon some fresh fish I'll be whipping up some fish tacos and using this as my main topping. Yum!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Cheesy Spinach, Kale, & Zucchini Pasta Bake

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So it turns out that Canada is cold. Go figure. This is my first September in Canada in a few years and I forgot how chilly it can get. Yes, I'm still trotting around in shorts and t-shirts, but that's an act of pure defiance and there is definitely a large part of me that wants to curl up in a wool blanket instead. But I'm not ready to give up my flip flops and sunhat just yet, so I'm getting my coziness from my food instead.

In my last post I shared all the goodies we received in our farm share box and promised to share winner recipes. Well, I think I've got one. This is a rib-sticker and is exactly what this cooler weather calls for. I think there are going to be many variations of this over the next few months, as it's only going to get colder from here!

This dish features lovely hearty leafy greens along with some silky zucchini, all tossed together with pasta and coated with a simple cheese sauce.  I was aiming for a sauce similar in style to this mac and cheese I made awhile ago, but realized literally as I was making it that I had no butter and no milk. Hmmmmm time to improvise! In place of the butter I used coconut oil, and in place of regular milk I used almond. I made a simple roux out of that before adding a good dollop of cheddar and the result was awesome! Not at all coconut-y just silky smooth cheesy goodness. I'm telling you guys, it's a winner.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Farm Fresh - Week 1

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Last weekend Other Half and I moved back to the city. Finally. We’ve both been craving all that Toronto has to offer for a while now and we’ve really tried to make the most of being back in our own place. Bike rides through the park and along the lakeshore, dinners out with friends, and my own extensive exploring of our new neighbourhood has us feeling pretty good.

One of the first things we decided to do when we got back was to partake in a CSA program. CSA stands for ‘community supported agriculture’ which essentially means you order a box of fresh fruit and/or veggies that are guaranteed to be local (and most farms are also organic) that gets delivered either to your door, or a nearby drop point. Some programs have foods from just one farm, others have foods from a series of neighbouring or nearby farms, it all depends on what you’re looking for. Luckily, there are several to choose from in the Southern Ontario region thanks to our abundant, but threatened, farm lands. The best part is it was all picked within the last 48 hours, translating to ultimate freshness for us! We went with a local box from Plan B Organics and just received our first shipment, colour us excited!

The point of all this is, I’m hoping to experiment a bit on this ol’ blog and share what we received each week along with some plans I have for the food - winner recipes will then also be shared – in an attempt to keep us accountable for the abundance of veggies we’re receiving. So without further ado, here’s what we got!

  • 5 cobs of corn
  • a bunch of kale, spinach, and pac choi
  • a cantaloupe
  • approximately 25 tomatillos
  • 2 zucchinis
  • a bag of mixed salad greens
  • 2 tomatoes
  • a small bunch of radishes

Most of the leafy greens (minus the salad mix) will hopefully go into a cheesy pasta bake along with the zucchinis, the tomatillos and tomatoes will go towards a fresh salsa verde, the corn will be cooked up and spread with our favourite topping – jaljeera spice mix and lemon - and the rest will likely go towards salads etc. throughout the week, except the cantaloupe which will be a welcome addition to our daily smoothies. I’m really looking forward to this food adventure!

Do you have any other ideas for me? Or things you’re excited to cook up in your kitchen this week? Do share!

Until next time!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Travel To: Chicago, Illinois

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Sue - the world's most complete T-Rex

I think I'm supposed to apologize for my lack of posting last week, but I'm not going to. You know why? BECAUSE I GOT MARRIED! (!!!!)

It was crazy hectic, but it was also one great party. The most overwhelming aspect is realizing that all of your friends and family are in one place at one time, and it's for you. No one would be in that room/barn/field unless they wanted to be able to share your special day with you. What a feeling! I feel special and loved, and warm and fuzzy.

I could gush on and on.

But I won't. Because another thing I did was go on a quick little honeymoon road trip to Chicago. And that's why we're here today.

I can't say enough good things about Chicago. It's huge but inviting. It has some of the most top notch museums, galleries, and restaurants I've been in a loooong time. It's got Blues. And Jazz. And amazing architecture everywhere. It has lots of little neighbourhoods that are all unique, but also somehow totally "Chicago". It's got really good popcorn and really cheesy pizza. I was a total tourist for four days, and every second of it was awesome.

One thing we did find however is that Chicago is expensive. Every single attraction (except the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is free) was a minimum of $20/person, most were closer to $30 or even $40. They offer some discounts to students, and certain evenings are free or discounted ... if you happen to be a resident of Illinois. As a tourist though it got to be a bit much. Most major cities in North America are the same way but their free evenings tend include more than just state residents. Chicago should still absolutely be a must visit if you haven't been, but this is just something to keep in mind when planning!

To help us plan, we called on the powers of the internet the day before we left to gather ideas of things to see, eat, and do. We tried to do most of it, and squeezed in a couple of our own things too. Below is a list of my favourites.


  • Millennium Park and "the bean" - no list would be complete without this infamous sculpture, and it did not disappoint. At various points throughout the year (mostly) summer, Millennium Park also offers free concerts and shows. We just missed the free orchestra, but it's just reason to return!
  • The view from the top of the John Hancock tower - also known now as 360 Chicago. Aim for a clear day if possible, but even on our not so clear day we had 2 miles of visibility and were awed at the sight. 
  • The free Lincoln Park Zoo - both Other Half and I are on the fence about our feelings toward zoos, but we decided to head up there anyway to see what we could see. As far as free goes, this one is not to be missed. We were both impressed with the quality of the park and it's upkeep.
  • Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! - This tapas bar was one we found on our own, and I literally had to drag Other Half there. For starters he's rarely a "tapas" guy, and secondly we had just gotten caught in a thunderous downpour at Lincoln Park. He was tired and wanted to go back to the hotel to wait out the rest of the storm. I insisted we make the 10 minute trek (without umbrellas, since we wisely left them at the hotel) since we were hungry and the rain was letting up enough. Success! This ended up being our favourite meal. They have a huge selection of dishes to choose from along with an excellent list of wines, beers and sangrias. This would be the stop I recommend most.
  • The Chicago Diner - meat free since '83! This vegetarian and vegan spot specializes in diner classics that have been made meat free. And it's excellent. We split some 'wings' and then each had a sandwich and every single thing was delicious. I don't what kind of voodoo they are doing to make soy taste so good, but it's working. Apparently the 'shakes are to die for, but we were too stuffed and our planned second visit never quite made it to reality - a shame. 
  • El Nuevo Mexicano - two separate recommendations means it's a 'must visit' and boy are we glad we did. Their traditional lime margarita was perfectly tart and not too sweet and the atmosphere was perfect, busy but not touristy (this place is just far enough out of the way that it seemed to be mainly happy locals - same goes for the diner above). 
  • Honourable mentions go to the things everyone will tell you to do (and with good reason) - Garrett's Chicago Mix popcorn (half cheese, half caramel, mixed together and so salty-sweet good!), and deep dish pizza (we tried Lou Malnati's, but there are tons out there to try!)
  • The Field Museum - This natural history museum started off a bit "meh" but really picked up speed when we hit the right areas. The Machine Inside exhibit that's currently running is worth the extra $$, and the evolution portion on the second floor would be where I would start next time - it's fascinating, but by the time I got there I was dead tired and could hardly focus.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago - Every major city has it's major gallery. This one just happens to be filled with some serious works of art. All the greats are represented here along with some interesting American folk art and much more. If you're an Illinois resident it's free after 5:00 on Thursdays,
  • The Architecture Foundation's river cruise - There are a few different companies that offer this cruise, but again this one happened to be recommended at least twice. The volunteer guide was exceptionally knowledgeable and recounted the stories of the buildings and their builders in a fascinating way. It was 90 minutes in the baking hot sun, but it was a highlight. 

Until next time!


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