Chia-mazing dessert: 2 ingredients!

Tonight I tried this simple dessert using chia seeds and almond milk. That’s it. I had it once before at a vegan colleague’s home for dinner, but at the time didn’t realize how easy it was to make.

Chia seeds in my previous experiences have been slimy and not appealing in texture to me. I’ve since learned that is because they need to absorb more moisture for best results. Hence a pudding.

I found these white chia seeds tonight, and the back of the package even had a recipe for a chocolate recipe version.

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A simple gift for any occasion! Sweet, Salty, Spiced Candied Nuts

One of my go to sites for good recipes and photos is Smitten Kitchen. So, of course that is where I found this great recipe to use over the holidays for last minute gifts: Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts.  Even though the holidays are now a distant memory (it seems), this recipe is good for any holiday, like Valentine’s Day, Easter, or even a last minute hostess gift! It’s an easy way to revive some old nuts you likely have sitting in your pantry…

I followed the recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s very closely, but made a few changes of my own. I didn’t use as much spice, and added more salt for an emphasized sweet and salty candied nut mix. I did this by increasing the salt to 1.5 tsp, from 1 tsp. And I doubled the amount of nuts, so the candied coating was lighter. The recipe calls for one pound of nuts, I used two pounds (and there are about 4-5 cups of nuts in a pound, depending on the nut).

This made the recipe much more subtle but still very ADDICTIVE!

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I packaged them up in mason jars, tied them with a ribbon and added a gift tag. Simple. I tripled the recipe for the holidays, and made quite a few jars. I will definitely keep this recipe on hand and use it again.

Use any mix of nuts you like, i just happened to have lots of almonds and pecans in stock.

Use any mix of nuts you like, i just happened to have lots of almonds and pecans in stock.

What kind of food gifts do you like to make? and what recipes do you keep on hand?

My new Kitchen Aid stand mixer!

In the fall I purchased my first ever Kitchen Aid stand mixer – in candy apple red, to be specific! It has been a welcomed addition to my kitchen appliances, and it feels like i’ve always had it. Over the past few months I’ve made many of my favourite recipes and the mixer made my kitchen time that much faster and less laborious.

I bought the Architect model with the glass bowl. Its beautiful.

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One of the first things I made was a batch of pumpkin cupcakes with chai frosting, and later that same weekend I made a lattice crust apple pie. I was having a good weekend, needless to say!

Day 1 with the Kitchen Aid resulted in pumpkin cupcakes with chai spice frosting.

Day 1 with the Kitchen Aid resulted in pumpkin cupcakes with chai spice frosting.

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Friday Fur Elise: a patisserie in Vancouver

Macarons by Fur Elise Patisserie

Macarons by Fur Elise Patisserie

I recently stumbled upon the perfect patisserie in downtown Vancouver the other night. I was walking home from work, through downtown along Hamilton Street (847 Hamilton St.) and discovered Fur Elise Patisserie. The window display is what first caught my eye, in front of the heritage home, and at first I thought it was a wedding store actually based on the window display. It was also a dark winter night, so until I walked up to the entrance I didn’t realize I was about to enjoy some tasty macarons.

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Kitchen gadgets and organizey things

Well here’s a look inside my kitchen drawers, to see a few of my top used gadgets and gizmos in the kitchen.

If you don’t have some of these, I recommend you do – they are handy to have around.

The red tube thing, is a garlic peeler. Buy one. Pop the clove of garlic in, roll it, and out comes your garlic without the peel. Easy and your hands smell garlic-free.

Elastics and folder clips, I keep them around for all the bags of things I use to keep them sealed. No special packaging seals here, I just save my produce elastics for reuse. Reduce reuse and recycle! The other image is of my tea spoon, used for loose leaf tea. Makes the perfect cup every time and I don’t need to fuss with tea bags. If you hate cleaning them out, when the leaves are all wet, I just let it sit overnight and the leaves dry up (then they fall out easily for easy clean up).

Handy stuff I tell you!

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Here’s a few more:

The egg slicer, is just priceless to have around for salads and such, pictured below (right). They run for a couple bucks at Ikea or even dollar stores. You can slice your mushrooms in them too… Bet you didn’t know that?!

Mini jars and containers, top left, are from MEC: they hold about a spoonful of spice, or sugar, or oatmeal toppings, or other dried goods you only need a sprinkle of. The lids snap on and off, easy peasy.

Bottom left, are mini jam and honey jars I’ve reused from hotels, events, or other brunch experiences. They are great for my packed lunches, to carry salad dressing, BBQ sauce, ketchup, etc… Or for you mayo lovers out there, these mini jars can carry your whipped goodness. I save them, wash and reuse – and store in my cutlery drawer.

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What are your favorite kitchen gadgets? Share! I love new handy gadgets!

Bountiful Brunch Menu: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Veggie Hash in Muffin Tins, and all the Fixin’s!

Do you like brunch? I do. And I’ve blogged about it before too. Recently I hosted brunch in my little apartment for some of my friends. I have to say, if you like having friends over and you want to cook for them, breakfast is way easier than dinner!  Then you have the rest of your day open to do what you want. For this brunch, I chose two simple recipes, one that could bake in the oven while the other cooked on the stove top.

I chose Welcome-back cotta (a.k.a Lemon Ricotta Pancakes) from the LooneySpoons Collection cookbook, and made veggie hash in large muffin tins (my own recipe based one a few others I merged together).

Here’s some photos of the brunchy-affair…. Oh yea, and there was coffee, slices of oranges, and apple slices with maple-peanut butter sauce. It sounds fancy, but I promise you it was easy and I had a lot of fun putting it all together.

First, you can get the pancake recipe here via CTV’s site, they hosted Janet & Greta earlier this year on their show and this exact recipe was demonstrated on air. Watch here

Lemon and ricotta pancakes demonstration and recipe

Lemon and ricotta pancakes demonstration and recipe

I didn’t use blueberries for mine, I made a fresh raspberry sauce instead using a little recipe I learned from Jamie Oliver. And I have to say, my pancakes turned out much like Janet & Greta’s! Yay!

For the veggie hash in muffin tins:

– I used a large muffin tin. And lightly greased the tin with olive oil.
– I filled the tin about 1/2 full with some frozen hash browns  Let them thaw, and shape around the edge of the tin as best you can – like pie crust style.
– Bake for about 10 minutes at 350F
– While they are baking I sautéed some mixed veggies, any veggies you like in an omelet (i.e. mushrooms, shallots, bell peppers, etc).
– Fill the tins evenly with some of your sauteed vegetables.
– Crack a whole egg overtop, or you could scramble the eggs with a fork and then pour evenly over the muffin tins. For six large tins, I used one large egg for each tin.
– Then return the tin to the oven, and bake until the eggs are done to desired doneness. It took about 15 minutes for me, but it will depend on your oven so dont leave the kitchen while baking.
– This is a good time to start frying your pancakes so you’re near the oven!

What is your favourite brunch recipe?

 

 

Save-On Meats rocks & so do their cooking classes too!

Last week I attended a canning and preserving cooking class at Vancouver’s Save-On Meats – thats right, the one with the pink pig neon sign out front. They are all that they claim to be–awesome. Before you read anymore, I’m gonna kick this post of with a recommendation to go check them out.  The rest of this post should just verify that for you.

Here are my five reasons that you should go check them out now:

1). Since the new owners took over the vintage building, they have redone the place with great Vancouver style and it’s just FUN to be inside their deli and diner. Fun music played over head while we enjoyed our dinner.

2) Their food is really good, homemade, and pumped with flavour.

3) The food prices are very affordable, considering how good their food is. It’s like comfort food your grandma made, but served up in a funky-Vancouver-diner.

4) They have cooking classes, via Groupon. I took the Canning & Preserving Class, taught by Serena.  Apparently there was another glass via Groupon to learn to make your own bacon and sausages.  Both were popular, the latter especially. I’m glad I went with the canning class, because I’m totally hooked.

5) Save-On Meats staff are fun. Their cooking class instructors are very knowledgable and packed with information. I learned so much from their canning class, and can’t wait to get canning on my own… I might can some apple sauce while apples are still in season.

So those are my top reasons to go check them out. Just do it. http://saveonmeats.ca/

Here is a gallery of photos from my night at Save-On Meats. We had a three hour canning class, followed by some dinner in the diner. I had the chicken soup, served with a toasted homemade cheese biscuit – it was delicious and less than $10 including tax and tip! Yes! My friend had one of their stacked sandwiches  I can’t wait to return and try their homemade veggie burger, not alot of places make homeade veggie burgers – it’s usually a good sign when they do.

To explain the canning photos, we made two recipes in one night: Earl Grey tea infused Strawberry Jam, and Spiced Pickled Beets.  Both smelled amazing while we made them. We made massive batches of each, as it was a group class. Each student got to have two jars of each when the class was done. But we had to go back the next day to pick them up, because part of the canning process is to let the canned food sit for 12-hours after it’s canned.

The cream of early grey tea smelled amazing, with hints of vanilla. Really amazing. So much that I went out and bought this week, and have been drinking it daily since. My new favourite tea.

Our instructor Serena has a very cool blog too, I recommend you take a look. She’s inspired me to can more at home – you know, just like your Grandma used to. It’s a skill that I dont want to let die… Computers can’t do everything!

I had a great time and I am going to keep my eye on Save-On Meats for sure, because they plan to have more cooking classes in the future. Its a great way to spend your evening.

Organize your spices!

Super spice organization!

Super spice organization!

So, I’ll confess, I’m big on organization. I love it when my kitchen is tidy and in order and everything is put away where it belongs. But it’s sort of my haven, I love being in my kitchen and getting into the rhythm of baking or cooking or whatever the my day’s menu brings…

I’ve gone through different ways of keeping my spices in order too, from small cylinder jars to bags of plastic bags or spices to spice racks with pre-determined labels… etc, etc, etc. And they all work to a certain point.

However, I’ve recently found my perfect system – complete with labels. I bought myself a bunch of 1/2 cup / 125 ml mason jars. You can buy them at most large grocery stores, and places like Wal-Mart, etc. Then I filled each one with my spices and stacked them like here. Originally I wrote the spice name on the lid of the jar, but that wasn’t the most efficient for obvious reasons.

Then I discovered Mabels Labels. A friend of mine recommended them to me, she happens to also be a Mom, and said they were great labels for his kids stuff. I thought they were so cool! Then I discovered they sell spice labels and other household labels too.  A simple online order and then they arrive in the mail – voila, kitchen organization HEAVEN!

Mabels Labels

Mabels Labels

They also sell kids name tag labels for a variety of uses – this is their main business – but they are highly durable labels, and a Canadian company too!

Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Magazines repurposed into my kitchen decor!

Earlier this year I realized my Martha Stewart Everyday Food Magazine subscription was piling up. I’ve been a subscriber for a few years and love getting every issue in the mail. The recipes are always easy and seasonal, and the photography is amazing – if nothing else – and inspires me to try new things all the time.

But one can only keep so many magazines around the house, although I was reluctant to simply throw them out (i.e. recycle).  I came up with the idea to redecorate one of my kitchen chairs. I have some unfinished birch chairs from Ikea and they make for the perfect canvas….

 

BEFORE: a plain ikea chair

BEFORE: a plain ikea chair

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Summer Time – Meringue Time!

Wow, its been a while since I posted here but I can honestly say I think about this blog often. I continue to bake and eat good things and my goal for the rest of this year is to start sharing more of that here with you.

More and more people have been asking if I’m keeping up with my blog, so to those of you who have asked and are reading this – I thought of you while making these deLIGHTful little meringue cookies.

Many people think Meringue Cookies are

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