Make mom’s day with Green & Black’s Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread + A giveaway!

Green and Black's Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread with jam on a sliec try small things

After packing house and downsizing a couple of times over the past few years, my mom insists there’s few things she wants or needs. That’s not to say she doesn’t light up at a little sparkly somethin’ to draw attention to her impossibly delicate wrists or ample bosom (oh she does!) but usually she says “If I can’t eat it, drink it or read it, I don’t want it.” I likely won’t see her for Mother’s Day (we live 500 kms apart) but she’s planning to visit a couple weeks later and I know just what I’ll give her: a steaming cup of tea, a slice of homemade chocolate banana loaf and my undivided attention (provided the kids are outside or something — and even then they’ll be in and out the door every two minutes, you know how it goes) while we take some time to catch up. And I think she’ll be happy. Green & Black’s did a Mother’s Day survey and 57% of moms said that spending time with family and loved ones is the most valued gift, followed by 32% saying that feeling appreciated is really what they want. (Only 1% said receiving a luxurious gift was the most important.) So maybe join me in making something sweet for the special mom in your life (your mom, your neighbour, your buddy) and make the time to enjoy it together. I’ve got just the recipe — Green & Black’s Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread — and a little giveaway to go with.  Continue reading “Make mom’s day with Green & Black’s Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread + A giveaway!”

The Greenhouse Cookbook: Plant-Based Eating and DIY Juicing + Win a copy!

The Greenhouse Cookbook cover try small things

You know when you climb into bed with a great cookbook and wind up equal parts ravenous (‘tho too lazy to get up and fix yourself something), inspired, and more than a little bit charmed? That was my experience with The Greenhouse Cookbook: Plant-Based Eating and DIY Juicing by Emma Knight (with Hana James, Deeva Green and Lee Reitlelman), and I have a sneaking suspicion it’ll be the same for many of you too. It’s the first book from the creators of Toronto’s wildly popular cold-pressed juicery, The Greenhouse Juice Co., and features 100 plant-based, gluten-free meals and drinks that promise to nourish and energize with nutrient-dense delicious goodness anyone can make and adapt (vegetarians and omnivores alike). Penguin Canada was kind enough to send me a copy and allow me to share one of my favourite recipes from the book, the Tuscan White Bean Soup with Dinosaur Kale.  Continue reading “The Greenhouse Cookbook: Plant-Based Eating and DIY Juicing + Win a copy!”

Purely Pumpkin by Allison Day + A giveaway!

Purely Pumpkin by Allison Day cover final-3

I’m not exactly a hard sell when it comes to all things pumpkin, so I was delighted when I heard Allison Day was working on a pumpkin-packed follow-up to her wonderful first cookbook, Whole BowlsPurely Pumpkin: More Than 100 Seasonal Recipes to Share, Savor, and Warm Your Kitchen came out last week and it’s the most gorgeous ode to one versatile and nutritious fruit. There’s sweet and savoury pumpkin breakfasts, desserts and everything in between — think sharp cheddar, pumpkin, and pecan scones; vegan pumpkin, onion, and spinach lasagna with white bean ricotta; gingerbread pumpkin cheesecake with pecan oat crust; classic pumpkin pie (naturally!); and several better-for-you takes on the beloved pumpkin spice latte. Read on to learn a little more about the book, get Allison’s ah-MAZE-ing recipe for morning glory pumpkin muffins and enter for your chance to win a copy of the book.  Continue reading “Purely Pumpkin by Allison Day + A giveaway!”

A summer splash with Lick Your Plate + Thai turkey sliders with peanut slaw

Lick Your Plate pink flamingo pool float and pink lemonade

Summer entertaining should be as easy as the day is long with little time in the kitchen and lots of time in the pool. Especially when you’ve got a pretty flamingo floatie like this fella to play with. I paired up with my friend Emily from The Best of This Life for a pool party earlier this week and really, the hardest part was choosing which recipes to make. Our inspiration: Lick Your Plate, the fun and colourful new cookbook with 160 family-friendly meals from Canadian sisters Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat of Bite Me More. It’s designed for busy bodies who want fresh and healthy (and sometimes healthy-adjacent) meals and desserts they can prepare in a flash. There’s everything under the sun from appetizers you can eat with your hands to quick and satisfying pasta, rice and grains and more salads and veggie dishes than you can shake a carrot stick at (‘tho I’m not sure why you’d do that). Julie and Lisa share tips for saving time, swapping ingredients and using leftovers and they’re funny too. (Funny ha-ha, not funny strange.) Today Emily and I are sharing two of Julie and Lisa’s recipes and a little decor inspo from the book. Let’s take the flamingo a go-go and get to it! Bonus: you won’t have to lift a finger, except maybe to scroll. Continue reading “A summer splash with Lick Your Plate + Thai turkey sliders with peanut slaw”

Be a flock star with this watermelon cotton candy slushy float

cotton candy watermelon slushy float DAVIDsTEA flamingo 1

You know what they say: Birds of a feather drink watermelon cotton candy slushy floats together! Or something like that. This recipe is all delicious goodness — you can totally wing it and you won’t go wrong. Serve with feathers. (Oh I know some of you have them already!) Continue reading “Be a flock star with this watermelon cotton candy slushy float”

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken and Cauliflower + A giveaway!

Kissan Butter Chicken Indian Cooking Sauce

Do you hurry for a curry? Adore the tandoor? O M Ghee — Indian food! So comforting and so delicious. So why don’t we make it more often? Well partly because I’ve got a fussy eight-year-old who’d sooner go hungry than try something new. So imagine my surprise last night about an hour after supper and halfway into Nanny McPhee when she piped up out of the blue, “That Indian food was so good!”  Continue reading “Slow Cooker Butter Chicken and Cauliflower + A giveaway!”

PROTINIS Prosciutto and Provolone Quiche Cups + A Giveaway

PROTINIS Prosciutto and Provolone Snack and Quiche Cup

I don’t know about you, but I’ve eaten so many Halloween treats that I don’t even want to look at another mini Twix or Twizzler. I’m ready to turn over a new leaf (yet another new leaf! I’m forever turning over a new leaf) and snack on something much healthier, something that’s going to keep my energy up throughout the day. Maple Leaf Foods sent me some of their new PROTINIS meat, cheese and cracker snacks to try and after sampling them for a few days, I’m having fewer cravings for sugar and the spikes and dips that come with it. I’m also much more satisfied. Prosciutto and provolone and wholewheat crackers with chia seeds? This is next-level snacking, mes amis. Continue reading “PROTINIS Prosciutto and Provolone Quiche Cups + A Giveaway”

Apple raspberry pie + A giveaway! #BakeWithStyle

tender flake apple raspberry pie

What makes a good dinner guest? Someone who shows up on time, brings a bottle of wine and offers to help with the dishes? Yes those are all nice, but what I really appreciate is someone who tries a bit of everything and finds something to like. And for that, my father-in-law is the best guest. He’s coming up this weekend for Thanksgiving and my heart is already happy knowing that whatever we make, he’ll probably enjoy. Especially if it’s in the form of a pie. And if he tells me it tastes just like something his mother used to make? Well that’s just the biggest compliment right there. Something tells me he’s going to like this apple raspberry pie, and I hope you will too. Serve it for Thanksgiving as an alternative (or in addition to) pumpkin. It’s easy as, well, pie! Continue reading “Apple raspberry pie + A giveaway! #BakeWithStyle”

Three-Star Greek-Style Tuna Sandwich + A Giveaway! #GuidingStarsCA #PCStars

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Really, Shakespeare? I beg to differ. Especially when it comes to recipes. Tell me, would you be tempted to try Creamed Tuna on Toast? Yeah, I didn’t think so. What about Tuna with Pain Grillé or even Chicken of the Sea on Toast avec Champignons? I polled a few friends to come up with a name for this dish that would sound as good as it tastes and while the Vice Admiral Sandwich (approved by the Sturgeon General!) was right up there, Cathy’s Three-Star Greek-Style Tuna Sandwich won out. Why three-star? Because all of the ingredients are rated three stars by Loblaw’s Guiding Stars program, which assigns foods 0 to 3 stars for their nutritious goodness. This is some fine comfort food, friends. (All the more comforting ’cause it’s good for you!)

three-star greek-style tuna sandwich

So let’s get to the recipe! You can make this in 10 minutes, easy. (While your mushrooms are cooking, enter to win a $150 President’s Choice gift card. But hurry! The contest closes in two days.)

Three-Star Greek-Style Tuna Sandwich

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 227 g pkg mushrooms, white or brown

1 cup frozen or fresh peas

1 can water-packed tuna

3/4 to 1 cup President’s Choice Plain 0% M.F. Greek Yogurt

2 pieces Country Harvest Ancient Grains bread 

fresh or dried thyme, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Slice mushrooms and sauté in a pan with just enough water to keep the pan from burning. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Toss in frozen or fresh peas and heat through, about 2 minutes.

Drain tuna and add to the peas and mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper and thyme (I like four or five sprigs of fresh thyme). Stir til combined.

Make toast.

When your toast has popped and it’s on your plate, pour the mushrooms, peas and tuna into a medium-sized bowl and stir in Greek yogurt. (Don’t do this in the pan over heat or the yogurt will separate.)

Pour over toast and garnish with fresh thyme.

For more three-star recipes, check out Katrina’s Turkey and Red Pepper Meatballs, Linda’s Red Lentil Pâté, Kathryn’s Three-Star Breakfast Berry Parfait, Theresa’s Three-Star Spaghetti, Brandi’s Pasta and Bean Soup, and Tyna’s Healthy Nutella Style Spread and Avocado Chocolate Mousse (these two are in French).

I partnered with Loblaw on this post, however all views are mine. And thanks Aaron, Aneta, Cathy and Jonathan for brainstorming with me. 

Dead-easy baklava

We all have those days (sometimes weeks!) where we feel like we’re spinning our wheels, but if you want to put something tangible in the win column, this Greek baklava will do it. I learned how to make it (along with four other delicious sweet and savory dishes) at a Loblaws cooking class last week and taught my daughter how to do it in less than an hour yesterday afternoon.

It’s one of those complicated-looking recipes that are surprisingly simple, even more so the way Chef Mary Kosta taught us to put it together. Instead of stacking the buttered sheets of phyllo on top of each other you roll them into logs and press them together in your pan. Let me show you what I mean.

baklava buttering dish

First, brush your baking dish or pan with a generous amount of melted butter. This will help keep all of your delicious crispy pastry from sticking to the bottom and the sides.

baklava buttering phyllo 2

Slather more melted butter all over a sheet of phyllo.

baklava sprinkling nuts

Sprinkle the phyllo with your nut and cinnamon sugar filling. You won’t need near as much as Lily used here. (I was distracted taking photos and let her get a little carried away.)

baklava rolling dough

Roll the sheet of phyllo as tight as you can (obviously this was a little difficult here with so much filling) and tuck it inside your pan. Don’t worry if the phyllo tears as you’re rolling it — it’ll look and taste just fine.

baklava putting in dish

Continue with another 8 or 9 sheets (that’s how much we needed for our 9 x 5 dish), pressing each log tightly against the one before it.

baklava buttering top

Brush the whole mess with melted butter, making sure to get it in the cracks and down the sides. Butter is your friend!

Sprinkle with a little nut and cinnamon sugar filling and pop in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes.

About 5 to 10 minutes before it’s ready to come out of the oven, prepare your syrup (recipe below) and pour the hot syrup over the baklava as soon as it comes out of the oven.

baklava out of the oven

You’ll end up with a pan of sweet delicious crispy pastry that should look something like this, although how it comes out of the pan may vary.

I cut mine into squares while it was still a little warm and the pieces fell apart so that it had the consistency of a very juicy apple crumble. With less syrup it may be dryer and hold together better, however the log method makes it more like a pull-apart baklava than one that could be easily cut into squares. But no matter. However it shakes down, one taste and you’ll see you’re a rock star. One for the win column, baby!

greek baklava

Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Chef Mary Kosta, President’s Choice Cooking School. I’ve adapted it for a 9 x 5 pan.

Greek Baklava

Ingredients

8 – 9 sheets phyllo dough

1 cup walnuts (but you can use any combo of your favourite nuts)

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup melted salted butter

And for the syrup:

1.5 cups sugar

1.5 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 to 1 orange peel

4 cloves (optional; we don’t like cloves and left them out)

Directions

Heat oven to 350 F.

Brush a 9 x 5 dish with melted butter.

Crush walnuts in a food processor with sugar and cinnamon.

Brush a sheet of phyllo with melted butter. Sprinkle with nuts and sugar mixture. Roll the phyllo tightly and tuck it against the edge of the pan. Continue with remaining sheets, pushing each phyllo roll against the one before it.

Brush the top and sides of the phyllo with butter, making sure to get it in all of the cracks.

Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

To make the syrup, put all of the ingredients in the post and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. When the baklava is baked, pour the hot syrup on top and let it cool.

If you like your baklava crispy, keep any leftovers on the counter. (It will go soggy stored in the fridge.)

I partnered with Loblaws on this post, however all opinions are my own. 

Five things

I’ve been feeling badly for not posting last week’s highlights earlier but now that it’s Throwback Thursday, it’s totally legit! Don’t you love when things work out like that?

five things march 21

1. I thought IKEA would be mobbed last week with everyone around for March Break, but last Monday it was surprisingly quiet. (Ahh!) I restrained myself from bringing home more kitchen goods and picked up a few things from the Paper Shop instead. (Oh and meatballs, of course.) Have you seen IKEA’s new stationary, gift wrap and party decorations? I love!

2. Tuesday we woke up to more damn snow. Which was pretty and all, but for crying out loud! Enough!

3. I’m not a fan of artificial flowers, but Urban Barn is bringing me around. The downtown store was abloom with gorgeous bouquets last week when I stopped in for the Spring decor workshop.

4. Who knew falafel were so easy to make? Hubby tried Chef John’s recipe on Saturday and they turned out awesome! Have you ever made them?

5. And what a fun surprise to see my Instagram photo in the new issue of Today’s Parent magazine! (And the Spaghetti Nests with Bocconcini “eggs” are really delicious, if you want to try them.)

I’ve got another book review and some great recipes to share with you in the next couple of days. Talk soon!