Homemade Granola ❤️

A663F348-46E1-4D62-A786-C3D6D44F209E.jpeg

Looking for a healthier snack? Or perhaps wanting to make a special homemade gift for someone? Try making your own granola! In the picture above,  I added orange, mango, cranberries, almonds & cashews. I love the way you can mix and match the different spices, fruits and nuts. By adding egg whites to your mix you can create a more clumpy mixture which is ideal for snacking.

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

The Base

  • 9 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 2 cups of wheat or oat bran
  • Pinch of  salt to enhance flavours
  • 2 Tsp of your favorite spice
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 egg whites, whisked
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola or sunflower or coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

The Additions

  • 1 cup of your favorite dried fruit, chopped (unsweetened coconut flakes are my favorite)
  • 1 cup of your favorite raisins or dried berries
  • 2 cups of your favorite nuts, chopped or whole
  • 1 cup of your favorite seeds
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite citrus zest
  • 1 cup of your favorite white or dark chocolate chips or chunks (optional)

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or foil. In a bowl, mix together oats, wheatgerm, bran, salt and spice. Toast nuts/seeds in oven on baking sheet and set aside. Watch that they don’t burn.
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, mix together sugar, maple syrup, oil and vanilla and then bring to a boil. Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients and stir until fully coated.
  3. When oat mixture is slightly cooled add in whisked egg whites and stir again thoroughly.
  4. Pour onto a prepared baking sheet and press mixture down with palm of your hand.
  5. Bake till golden brown (approx. 15 min). Half way through baking process, pat down the oats again with spoon and then return to oven. Once baked and cooled, gently break apart granola with fingers, add your fruit/chocolate/zest/nut options and mix. I like to leave larger chunks in mixture.
  6. Store in air tight container/ziplock bag. Great as a snack or on top of yogurt.

🍐 MANGIA! 

 

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

E36FA6D4-C9D6-458D-9A10-FD21953F1646.jpeg

The saying “anything wrapped in bacon is good” was never more true than with this side dish/appetizer. This is a great way to BBQ asparagus and make something so simple look elegant. Pairs nicely with fish or meat. Wrap one asparagus spear with a prosciutto slice or wrap 2-3 thin spears together.

Prep: 5 min

BBQ: 10 min

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • Prosciutto (Italian ham), several slices
  • Asparagus bunch

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wash and prepare asparagus. Hold both ends of an asparagus spear and gently bend until it snaps into two. Discard the woody bottom end.
  2. Loosely wrap asparagus with prosciutto so that stem is mostly covered.
  3. Place on bbq and cook until vegetable is tender and prosciutto is crispy.

🍐 TIP: 

I used my indoor grill and it worked beautifully.

🍐 MANGIA!

 

 

Orange 🍊 Lavender Scones

1928DD6A-67A8-4BBA-94EA-78B3B20BD3C0.jpegThis post is for all those amazing mothers out there—we should love and cherish them always. If you are still looking for that special gift, I suggest you consider making these equally amazing lavender scones for breakfast or brunch. Many of the traditional scone recipes tend to incorporate lemon flavours but I thought I would try something new. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY 💐 🌺 🌸

PREP: 30 min

BAKE: 5 min at 425 degrees, approx. 15 min. @ 350.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp *culinary lavender
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp orange rind
  • pinch salt to enhance flavours
  • 3 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk (save 1/4 cup for glaze)
  • 1/4 Tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 Tbsp crystallized sugar for topping (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven, prepare baking sheet (I use parchment paper) and set aside.
  2. Measure out all your ingredients before you begin. This will also ensure you are not running out for ingredients in the middle of baking 😬.
  3. In large bowl, sift flour. Add dried lavender flowers but first crush them with your fingers to release the scent.
  4. Mix together sugar and orange rind and then add to flour mixture, along with salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  5. Incorporate butter (preferably cold) into the flour by using a pastry blender to cut in.
  6. In a glass measuring cup add 1 cup buttermilk,  peppermint extract and stir.
  7. Add liquids to flour and gradually combine by mixing and turning, but do not over mix or scones will come out dense.
  8. On flat surface, gently mold dough into a 7 inch round disc shape, approximately one inch thick.
  9. Divide and cut disc into 8 equal parts so that sections will cook evenly. It helps to start by marking  the dough disc into quarters with a pastry scraper and then in eighths.
  10. Cut out the triangle sections and place on lined cookie sheet with small spatula.
  11. With brush, cover top of scone with thin layer of buttermilk and top with sprinkles of crystallized sugar.
  12. Bake in preheated oven and take out when scones are light golden brown in color. Cool on rack. The aroma will be divine.

*TIP: Make sure you use culinary lavender. You might have some luck finding it in local organic/herbal stores, but it is readily available on  the internet. I bought 1/2 lb and it’s lasted over a year!

MANGIA! (8 scones)

Best Ever 😋 Apple Streusel Muffins

A2CE0786-C2EC-40B8-8EF4-81A2DB56AA89

I hope you believe me when I tell you that these muffins are really, really good. No need for a big cake muffin when you have one of these apple and cinnamon treats. Add a cup of coffee ☕️ and you are ready to start your day. If your household is like mine (where anything good doesn’t last the day), be quick to grab or hide one.

PREP: 50 min

BAKE: 5 min @ 450 degrees, 12 min at 400.

 🍐 TOPPING

  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1/4 cup golden yellow Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp Walnuts, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted Butter, melted

🍐 BATTER

  • 3 Apples, peeled, chopped & 🍎 *precooked
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 Walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven, prepare muffin tins with wrappers, chop your apples and cook in saucepan for 12 min (see below) 🍎.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together your streudel topping which includes your flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and walnuts. Add melted butter and form crumb like mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt. Add butter to flour mixture and blend it in with your thumb and fingers until mixture has course texture. Toss in Apple and walnut pieces.
  4. Mix together eggs and buttermilk and then gradually add to flour mixture. DO NOT OVER MIX.
  5. Add batter (heaping 1/4 cup) to muffin tin.
  6. Top with streusel mixture, generously covering tops and then bake in oven till lightly browned.

TIP:  🍎  An extra step worth completing is to cook your chopped apple pieces in 1 Tbsp of butter and 1 Tbsp brown sugar on medium heat for about 12 min or until Apples are soft.

🍐 MANGIA! (12 muffins) 

 

 

Zucchini Boats

900D12B3-5304-4B95-9D94-FDF1FBEF70B1.jpeg

Zucchini boats make an excellent vegetable side dish and can  be cooked on the BBQ or in the oven. Super easy to make and a great use of the endless supply of this summer Squash.😀🤪😋

PREP TIME: 10 min

BBQ TIME: 20 min

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 small Zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cup Feta Cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp Balsamic Reduction
  • 1 Tsp Basil Pesto
  • Black Pepper, Basil, Oregano, to taste

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut Zucchini in half.  Scoop out some of the membrane, carving out space for the filling.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together Cheese, Spices, Pesto, Garlic, Balsamic Reduction and Oil.
  3. Add mixture to carved out Zucchini shells.
  4. Barbeque stuffed Zucchini for approximately 20 min to soften outer shell.
  5. Just before serving, drizzle Balsamic Reduction on top for garnish (optional).

🍐 MANGIA! (serves 3-4)

Homemade Croutons

67F7E9A9-9086-47E4-83B3-0FC3D5510A25

Homemade croutons made from leftover bread are a great way to elevate a simple Caesar salad.

PREP TIME: 10 min

COOK TIME: 10 min

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Baguette (or any left over bread)

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut up Bread into cubes and then place in a large ziplock bag.
  2. Add Oil and Spices to bag and shake , allowing bread to be coated evenly.
  3. Spread onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until bread is golden brown.
  4. Add to favourite salad as topping.

MANGIA!

🍐 INSPIRATION:

Sometimes even small changes can have a big impact.

 

 

Bruschetta

72B0BFC2-27F3-45FD-9E56-85DA5E8973B1.jpeg

Bruschetta is like a taste of Italy. The flavours of garlic, basil, tomato and prosciutto all melt together to make this appetizer unforgettable and irresistible.

Prep time: 15 min

Cooking time: 30 min

⚠️ Warning: one piece is never enough.

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Baguette
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Heads of Garlic
  • Basil Pesto (homemade or store bought)
  • 6 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pepper, Salt & Basil to taste
  • Prochutto slices (Italian ham)
  • Balsamic Reduction (also available in stores)

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut Baguette diagonally, with desired thickness and spread on thin layer of olive oil with brush.
  2. Bake bread in oven for few minutes (don’t walk away) until light golden brown in colour.
  3. Cut off top of garlic so pieces are slightly exposed. Lightly brush with olive oil, wrap in foil and roast at 400 degrees for aproximately 30 min.
  4. Once fully roasted, squeeze out garlic paste and spread a thin layer onto toasted bread.
  5. Then spread on a thin layer of pesto.
  6. Chop tomatoes and place in a small bowl. Drizzle in oil and vinegar, keeping in mind a 2:1 ratio.
  7. Add pinch of salt, basil and pepper to tomato mix.
  8. Spoon tomato mixture (& juices) onto bread pieces.
  9. Top with one slice of prochutto (optional).
  10. Drizzle balsalmic reduction onto your creation just before serving.

🍐 MANGIA!   (Appetizer for small group)

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta & Fagioli

7253614C-028A-42C3-986E-EC774092FC34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for the perfect Minestrone style recipe? Search no more, especially if you love pasta and beans. Pasta and Fagioli is a traditional Italian dish that is certainly one of my favourites. It is nutritional, economical and extremely tasty, but don’t take my word for it, make it yourself. Half the fun is trying to pronounce the word  ‘Fagioli’ !

( Fah— Jo—Lee)

🍐 Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Carrots, chopped
  • 2 Celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 can (796 ml) Italian Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 can (398 ml) Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1 can (398 ml) dark red Kidney Beans (plus liquid)
  • 1 can (398 ml) white Kidney Beans ( plus liquid)
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 3 cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp  White Balsamic Vinegar
  •  1 Tsp Oregano, Basil
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 5 Hot Italian Sausages (or mild if you prefer less spicy)
  • Pasta—I used Farfalline (butterfly shape) but you can really use any small pasta shape you like (small shells, elbow etc)

🍐 Directions:

  1. In a deep pot, add oil and when hot, add garlic and onions and sauté.
  2. Then add vegetables, tomatoes, beans & tomato paste and cook couple of minutes longer, continue to stir.
  3. Next add broth, water and vinegar.
  4. While broth mixture is simmering on medium heat, remove sausage casings and brown meat in a frying pan. When cooked, drain off excess oil and add to broth mixture.
  5. The sausages will have their own flavouring, so taste the broth while you add the spices and adjust to your preference.
  6. When mixture has cooked for approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hours, add cooked pasta just before serving.

TIP: Don’t be afraid to experiment when using a recipe as it is only a guide. You may want to cut the sausages into pieces to change the texture of the dish or increase water amount for more of a soup consistency. Be creative and have fun. 

Mangia! ( Serves 8+) Leftovers freeze really well.

Orzo Salad

B9E15DDA-60E7-4D35-8C21-4CAED9F4893D
THE PERFECT POTLUCK DISH

 

Whether you add Shrimp, Chicken or keep it simple, Orzo Salad is always a crowd pleaser. I always love a dish you can make the night before and have it taste even better the next day.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg Orzo Pasta
  • 1 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small jar Roasted Red Peppers, drained & chopped
  • 1 small jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts, chopped
  • 1 can Black Olives, sliced
  • Cooked Prawns (or cooked & cubed chicken)
  • Your favourite Vinaigrette (or try 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar), dash of salt & 1 Tbsp minced garlic)
  • Oregano, Basil, Black Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook Orzo pasta in pot of boiling water.
  2. Drain pasta and add 1 Tsp of Olive Oil to pasta so it does not stick together.
  3. Place drained pasta in a bowl and add Peppers, Artichokes, Olives and Prawns.
  4. Then add dressing, mix and refrigerate (cover). You can experiment by adding some of the juices from the artichoke jar, but taste your pasta salad first!

TIP:  You can also add Avocado 🥑, Feta cheese and/or Fresh Dill  to this dish for more taste, nutritional value and colour.  If you do decide to add Avocado, best to incorporate it just before serving and pick one that is not too soft. 

MANGIA! (Serves small group)

 

 

 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

 

223470EC-77D2-43E9-8C40-6E6A83C6C803 Next time you think about cracking open a jar of tomato sauce, STOP and consider making it from scratch. The aroma, taste and satisfaction of cooking your own sauce will make it all worthwhile. The use of fresh tomatoes is best, but if you don’t have time to blanch/peel tomatoes (and most of us don’t) then canned tomatoes can be the next best alternative.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 large Onion, chopped finely
  • 2 stalks  Celery, chopped finely
  • 1 Carrot, chopped finely
  •  2 cans (796 ml+ 398 ml) Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 (398 ml) can Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1 (156 ml) can Tomato Paste
  • Hot Sauce, to taste
  • Wedge (with rind) of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Oregano, Basil, Garlic powder, Black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large, deep skillet fry garlic and onions in hot oil until soft. Add celery and carrots and fry for couple more minutes on low heat.
  2. Next add tomatoes (& juices), paste, small handful grated parmesan, spices, hot sauce and stir. Using fork, crush tomatoes into smaller chunks, depending on preferred consistency.
  3. Cook on medium heat, simmer for approximately 45 min. Continue to stir occasionally. Taste and add more spice as needed.
  4. When mixture has thickened, place directly on any cooked pasta you desire. Garnish with fresh basil 🌿 and cheese 🧀 .

TIP: Cut off the Parmesan cheese rind (quarter inch thick) and cook it in the sauce until softened. This adds great flavour BUT I cannot be responsible for the fight over  that soft, gooey piece of cheese!

Mangia! (Serves 6)