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.
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
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)
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.
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.
When oat mixture is slightly cooled add in whisked egg whites and stir again thoroughly.
Pour onto a prepared baking sheet and press mixture down with palm of your hand.
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.
Store in air tight container/ziplock bag. Great as a snack or on top of yogurt.
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
Prosciutto (Italian ham), several slices
Wash and prepare asparagus. Hold both ends of an asparagus spear and gently bend until it snaps into two. Discard the woody bottom end.
Loosely wrap asparagus with prosciutto so that stem is mostly covered.
Place on bbq and cook until vegetable is tender and prosciutto is crispy.
This 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.
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)
Preheat oven, prepare baking sheet (I use parchment paper) and set aside.
Measure out all your ingredients before you begin. This will also ensure you are not running out for ingredients in the middle of baking 😬.
In large bowl, sift flour. Add dried lavender flowers but first crush them with your fingers to release the scent.
Mix together sugar and orange rind and then add to flour mixture, along with salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Incorporate butter (preferably cold) into the flour by using a pastry blender to cut in.
In a glass measuring cup add 1 cup buttermilk, peppermint extract and stir.
Add liquids to flour and gradually combine by mixing and turning, but do not over mix or scones will come out dense.
On flat surface, gently mold dough into a 7 inch round disc shape, approximately one inch thick.
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.
Cut out the triangle sections and place on lined cookie sheet with small spatula.
With brush, cover top of scone with thin layer of buttermilk and top with sprinkles of crystallized sugar.
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!
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.
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
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
1/2 cup Buttermilk
Preheat oven, prepare muffin tins with wrappers, chop your apples and cook in saucepan for 12 min (see below) 🍎.
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.
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.
Mix together eggs and buttermilk and then gradually add to flour mixture. DO NOT OVER MIX.
Add batter (heaping 1/4 cup) to muffin tin.
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.
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)
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)
In a deep pot, add oil and when hot, add garlic and onions and sauté.
Then add vegetables, tomatoes, beans & tomato paste and cook couple of minutes longer, continue to stir.
Next add broth, water and vinegar.
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.
The sausages will have their own flavouring, so taste the broth while you add the spices and adjust to your preference.
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.
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.
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
Cook Orzo pasta in pot of boiling water.
Drain pasta and add 1 Tsp of Olive Oil to pasta so it does not stick together.
Place drained pasta in a bowl and add Peppers, Artichokes, Olives and Prawns.
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.
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 toblanch/peel tomatoes (and most of us don’t) then canned tomatoes can be the next best alternative.
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
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.
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.
Cook on medium heat, simmer for approximately 45 min. Continue to stir occasionally. Taste and add more spice as needed.
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!