Almond Coconut Granola

I am not a morning person. My internal clock wants me to wake up around 10:30, eat dinner late, and go to sleep around 1:00 in the morning. I think I will fair well in Spain (I’m going in June!) I savour coffee, having 2 or 3 cups if I can, and I like to eat breakfast slowly, adjusting to the time and preparing for my day.

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My love of good granola is not a new thing. I make it regularly, and I like to mix it up with all kinds of different dried fruits, nuts, spices, sweeteners, etc. This one is fairly basic, which is great, because it means you can add/change things to suit your tastes. I especially love the faint citrus-y taste that the orange juice adds.

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A bowl of granola is the perfect morning ritual. It’s crunchy and not too sweet and you don’t have to think about preparing anything fancy in the morning. I like mine best with a sliced banana and some almond milk, but it is also delicious with yogurt, or whatever suits you. Also, coffee (or at least tea) is not optional.

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A batch of this will usually last me about 2 weeks, eating about 1/2 cup almost every morning. The number of servings are not exact on account I have a bit of a late night snacking issue (I’m pretty sure my roommate is also a culprit).

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Almond Coconut Granola:

Makes about 6 cups  

Adapted from The Kinfolk Table (Alela Diane Menig)

3 cups Whole Rolled Oats

1 cup Raw Almonds, chopped

1/4 cup Whole Flax Seeds

1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds

1/2 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/3 cup Coconut Oil, melted to liquid consistency and cooled

1/3 cup Honey

1/4 cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat oven to 300. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine oats, almonds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk the coconut oil, honey, orange juice, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add oil the mixture to the oats and stir until thoroughly combined.

3. Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 15 or 20 minutes, for 45 to 60 minutes or until golden and dry. Transfer the sheet to a rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes. The granola can be stored at room temperature for 2 weeks and frozen for up to 4 weeks.

Sweet Potato & Broccoli Miso Bowl

Hello friends! I have a simple, nourishing recipe to get you through that mid-week slump.IMG_3305

This one is from Smitten Kitchen, and she is exactly right when she talks about the whole “bowl” concept. Grains and vegetables seem so much more exciting when they are layered into a bowl with dressing and sesame seeds, don’t they? This colourful bowl is super healthy and comes together in like 10 minutes, yet the flavours are comforting and the opposite of boring. It’s easy enough for a week night dinner, but seems fancy enough for guests.

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This sesame – miso dressing is also delicious on different roasted or stir fried vegetables, and I had a little extra, so that worked out perfectly.  It also seems to keep well in the fridge for quite a while (I’ve had mine there for a couple weeks at least) in a sealed container.

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Sweet Potato & Broccoli Miso Bowl:

Serves 4. 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the Bowl

1 cup Grain of your choice (I used Israeli Couscous, rice would also work well)

1 – 2 Sweet Potatoes

1 large bundle Broccoli

1 – 2 tbsp Olive Oil

Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

2 tsp Sesame Seeds (mix of black and white, if you have them)

Miso – Sesame Dressing

1 tbsp Fresh Ginger, minced

1 small clove Garlic, minced

2 tbsp White Miso

2 tbsp Tahini

1 tbsp Honey

1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar

2 tbsp Sesame Oil

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place rice or grain and cooking liquid on the stove and cook according to package directions.

2. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Cut tops off broccoli and separate into bite-sized florets.

3. Coat one large or two smaller trays with a thin slick of olive oil. Layer sweet potatoes on tray(s) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until browning underneath. Flip and toss chunks around, then add broccoli to the tray(s), season again with salt and pepper, and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, until broccoli is lightly charred at edges and sweet potato is fully bronzed and tender.

4. In a small skillet, toast sesame seeds until fragrant. Let cool.

5. While vegetables roast, prepare sesame-miso dressing: Combine everything in a blender and run until smooth, scraping down sides once. Taste and adjust ingredients if needed.

6. Assemble bowls: Scoop some rice/grains into each, then pile on the roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. Coat lightly with sesame-miso dressing and finish with toasted sesame seed duo. Serve with extra dressing on the side.

Caramel Bacon Popcorn

I needed to make something for a potluck. My requirements were that it wouldn’t take forever to make, wouldn’t force me to go to the grocery store, and that it would blow everyone away. Not such an easy feat.

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I have this thing where I feel the need to impress everyone with cooking, and one way to do that is at potlucks. I don’t know why I can’t just take the easy way out and stop at the store, or make something easy and typical. I have the type of friends where pretty much everyone does this, and I definitely wouldn’t be judged if I joined, but I literally can’t make myself not care.

I made this popcorn on the night before a final exam (at the end of January) at like midnight when I REALLY should have been sleeping (or studying), because of course I did. That is the kind of thing that I do.

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Luckily, this version of caramel popcorn was quite easy and not overly time consuming, and it was SO GOOD. You guys. I mean, who doesn’t love caramel popcorn? And when people find out that you put bacon it it?! They will think you are crazy, but they will love the stuff (I was actually shocked by how many people thought this was crazy – isn’t bacon and dessert pretty mainstream these days? I thought so…)

It is the ultimate combination of salty and sweet, and you will not be able to stop eating it. I doubled this recipe because live in a madhouse with a bunch of girls who attempt to refrain from eating things like this but are very easily swayed, and I needed to make sure there was enough for a potluck the next day.

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Side note: I recommend acting quickly when you add the baking soda mixture to the sugar, because it WILL bubble up a lot and if you do not mix in the bacon quickly and then pour it over the popcorn, it will be gigantic mess and you will panic. Not that I know this from experience or anything.

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Caramel Bacon Popcorn:

Adapted slightly from A Cozy Kitchen

Makes a large bowl 

5 – 6 slices Bacon

3 tbsp Vegetable Oil

1/2 cup Popcorn Kernels

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda

3 cups White Sugar

3 tbsp Unsalted Butter

2 tsp Fine Sea Salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and lay bacon side-by-side. Transfer baking sheet to hot oven and cook bacon for 15 minutes, and until crispy and brown. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. When cool, cut into dice-sized pieces.

2. Lightly coat two large heatproof rubber spatulas and a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray. In a large saucepan or pot with a lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped, about 4 minutes. Transfer the popped popcorn to the large prepared bowl, removing any unpopped kernels.

3.  In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Cook over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking soda mixture (the mixture will bubble up). Quickly fold in bacon bits. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss, until all of the popcorn is evenly coated with the caramel.

4. Pour the popcorn onto a large baking pan and quickly flatten and separate it into small pieces while it is still warm. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Once it is cool, store it in a well-sealed airtight container. Caramel popcorn will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti with Dried Cherries

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I feel like this is a holiday that people tend to be rather opinionated about. Usually, I find, it’s a love or hate kinda thing. Either that, or people will attempt to ignore it. I do not fall under any of these categories. I take it as an excuse to eat cute heart-shaped foods, indulge in chocolate, and to tell my friends that I love them. If I was in a relationship, I would probably take the opportunity for a nice, romantic dinner, but I do find the cards/flowers/teddy bears a tad excessive.

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So, I actually went on a bit of a whim with this one. I have a confession. I don’t really love the infamous combination of hazelnut and chocolate. Nutella doesn’t excite me. The hazelnut gelato that my favourite cafe is known for? I could do without it. I’ve tried, but the flavour just doesn’t do anything for me.

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But when I decided to make chocolate biscotti yesterday, I couldn’t convince myself to pair anything else with it. I added sour cherries and extra chocolate, but the hazelnuts just felt necessary. And you know what? I’m glad I went with my instinct. The hazelnuts are not overpowering in this, like I usually find them to be, and especially when dunked in coffee, I really enjoy their flavour.

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Biscotti is one of my favourite treats, mainly because I am a coffee/tea fanatic and they are delicious when dunked. These aren’t overly sweet, and traditional biscotti (like this one) doesn’t contain any butter, making it pretty low fat as well (if you’re into that kinda thing).

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Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti with Dried Cherries:

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes About 30 Cookies (depending on how thick you make them)

1 cup Whole Hazelnuts, preferably blanched

2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour, plus more for work surface

1/2 cup Cocoa Powder

1 tbsp Espresso Powder

1 pinch Salt

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

3/4 tsp Baking Powder

4 Large Eggs

1 1/3 cups White Sugar

1/2 cup Dried Cherries

1 cup Milk or Dark Chocolate Melts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread hazelnuts on baking sheet and toast about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. If hazelnuts are not blanched, toast them until the skins begin to crack, then remove them from oven and wrap them in clean linen or cotton towel. Rub hot nuts to remove most of the skin. Set toasted nuts aside.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder together and set aside.

3. Beat eggs lightly, just until blended, in mixing bowl with whisk or in electric mixer. Remove two tablespoons of egg mixture to small dish and set aside. Beat sugar into remaining eggs until blended. Stir in flour mixture to form soft dough. Fold in dried cherries.

4. Divide the dough in half and place one portion on a well-floured work surface (the dough will be quite sticky). With floured hands, pat it into a six-inch square. Scatter half the hazelnuts on the dough and press them into the surface. Roll the dough into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and 12 to 15 inches long. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and place the roll of dough on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush the tops of both rolls with the reserved egg.

5. Place in the oven and bake about 15 minutes, until firm to the touch. (This took me until 20 to 25 minutes.) Transfer to a cutting board and cut on an angle into slices one-half-inch thick. (I found that letting them cool for five minutes made this easier, as well as a sharp knife with a tight serrate.) Return the slices to the baking sheet, laying them on their cut sides, and return them to the oven. Bake another 20 minutes, until they are crisp and dry.

6. Place chocolate melts in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Flip biscotti so that they are sitting vertically, then drizzle melted chocolate over the biscotti. Allow to cool completely before serving or storing.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

We’re in the middle of another cold snap, so obviously all I can think about is soup. January was so beautiful and I was dreaming of strawberries and barbecue and dresses and music festivals (I may have gotten a little ahead of myself) and then February came and I locked myself inside (literally). My productivity is at an all time low, because all I want to do is sit in bed and watch the Olympics (Go Canada!) and eat soup (and also go cuddle babies at my clinical placement – it’s the best).

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A hearty roasted tomato soup that will warm your tummy and your heart – there are few things more perfect to slurp on in the depths of winter.

This soup is the most simple recipe and takes hardly any time to make, but like I have said before, sometimes the simplest foods are the most delicious. I make it at least every couple of months, and it will keep for a few days in the fridge, but it also freezes well if you somehow don’t eat it all.

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I ate this with Herbed Focaccia Bread and it was truly incredible. I can also see this being a great way to use up fresh tomatoes from your garden at the end of summer, if you are lucky enough to have some.

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Roasted Tomato Soup:

Adapted from A Hint of Honey 

Serves 4

6 or 7 Fresh Tomatoes, quartered

4 cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped in half

1 large Yellow Onion, roughly chopped

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 tbsp Butter

3 cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock

2 Bay Leaves

1/2 cup Fresh Basil or Oregano

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place tomatoes, garlic, and onion on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (about 1/4 cup), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread in an even layer and roast in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until tender and caramelized

3. Transfer roasted vegetables to a large pot. Add the butter, bay leaves, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by a third.

4. Add basil or oregano to the pot. Using an immersion blender (or food processor), puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to low heat.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with fresh parmesan cheese.

 

Herbed Focaccia Bread

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There is something about baking bread that makes me SO happy. I realize that it is a task that not a lot of people love doing, but something about the kneading and rolling is the best stress relief. Plus, is there anything better than the smell of fresh baked bread? I don’t think so.

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I was actually about 75% sure that this wasn’t going to work out. I mean, I’m certainly no expert in baking bread, and I’d never made focaccia before. Plus I didn’t really like the instructions on the recipe I was using, so I had to piece together a bunch of the reviews. But, oh man, did it exceed my expectations. I would go as far as saying that this could be the best focaccia I’ve ever had. Given, I’ve never been to Italy, and I’m sure that there are only a handful of times I’ve even eaten focaccia, but you guys, it was SO GOOD.

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This is one of those recipes that literally everyone will be really impressed by and you’ll laugh because you had no idea it was so easy to make but it was and now you can feel like a queen in the kitchen. In my case, a 4 foot long kitchen where you have to use your dryer for counter space – but a queen nonetheless.

I had mine with some Roasted Tomato Soup (recipe later this week!), but this would be amazing with pasta, as an appetizer dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or with any other soup.

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Herbed Focaccia Bread:

Adapted from Allrecipes 

Makes One Focaccia 

1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast

1 cup very warm Water (100-110 degrees, if you want to be technical)

2 3/4 cup White Flour

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp White Sugar + 1 pinch

1/2 tsp Dried Oregano

1/2 tsp Dried Thyme

1/2 tsp Dried Basil

1 pinch Ground Black Pepper

3 tbsp Olive Oil

1-2 tbsp Fresh Herbs (Oregano, Rosemary, Basil)

Sea Salt, to taste

1 tbsp Parmesan Cheese, shredded

1. Combine yeast with 1/3 cup of the warm water and a pinch of sugar and allow to sit for about 10 minutes until foamy and the liquid has almost doubled.

2. Combine flour, salt, sugar, herbs, and black pepper, then add in the yeast/water mixture, the other 2/3 cup of water, and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Stir to combine well.

3. When the dough has pulled together, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Punch dough down, then roll into a large round circle, about 1/2 an inch in thickness. Using the pads of your thumbs, make indents in the dough liberally. Brush top with other 2 tbsp of olive oil and top with fresh herbs and sea salt. Allow to rise for another 10 minutes.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, stopping halfway through to sprinkle on parmesan cheese. Focaccia should be a light golden colour. Slice and serve warm.

*You will notice that pre-baking, there were sundried tomatoes on my focaccia. They burnt. A lot. So I had to take them off. Next time, I will put them on halfway through baking, with the parmesan cheese.

Aloha Muffins

I did it. That 30 day running challenge I said I was going to do? I’m done. I ran. Every. Single. Day. Would I do it again? No. Am I glad that I did it? Yes. Let me explain… Before I started, I ran occasionally. I would aim for a couple times a week, which was realistically more like maybe once a week, and I would go to the gym a few times. I was not out of shape, but I definitely had room for improvement. I hoped that by running for 30 days in a row, it would become more of a part of my routine, perhaps even something that I enjoy.

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I am quite happy with myself for actually sticking to it for the whole 30 days, but I am VERY glad that it is over. I think that at least 1 or 2 days of rest a week is really important for your body to recover, especially if you already live a busy, active life. I will definitely continue to run, but probably only every other day, or 3-4 days a week. I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will probably not ever actually like going to the gym or running and will spend most of my life forcing myself into going. But that’s okay, I think. As long as I’m also doing exercises that I do enjoy, like yoga, hiking, or going for bike rides.

I mentioned before that I would announce a new “challenge” for myself every month – something new that I would try to do every day for 30 days straight. February is something that should be pretty easy for me – I will make my bed every day. You probably already do this, but I have somehow gotten out of the routine of it when I’m rushing out the door in the mornings. I’m anticipating a super busy month, and I think in times when my life is feeling a little chaotic, a nicely made bed will make me feel a little more organized.

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On a totally different note… I am dreaming of Hawaii. It’s been a month since I’ve been back, and I am longing for those days sitting on the beach, in the sun, reading. These muffins originated from those dreams. Think of them as a little piece of Hawaii, in muffin form. If that makes any sense at all (it doesn’t).

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These have triple the coconut, buttery macadamia nuts, slightly crunchy tops, and when served with guava jelly, they are to die for. And if you needed more convincing, they are made with mostly whole wheat flour and minimal sugar. I think these might actually be my favourite of any muffins I have made, which is saying something. They are the perfect consistency, the perfect sweetness, the flavours work together perfectly – I’ve already made them twice and I am firmly in love.

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Aloha Muffins:

Makes 12. 

Inspired by Two Peas and Their Pod

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 cup White Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 cup Coconut Oil, melted and cooled

1 Large Egg

1 Ripe Banana, mashed

3/4 cup Light Coconut Milk

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1/2 cup Raw Macadamia Nuts, roughly chopped

Raw Turbinado Sugar

Guava Jelly*

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin pan or line pan with muffin liners. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

3. In a separate medium bowl, mix coconut oil, egg, mashed banana, coconut milk, and vanilla together.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula. Stir until just combined. The batter will be thick. Gently fold in the coconut and macadamia nuts.

5. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar. Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer muffins to a cooling rack and cool. Serve topped with guava jelly.

* I bought Hawaiian Sun guava jelly when I was in Hawaii, but haven’t seen it sold in Canada. It seems that you can order it on this website. Let me know if you guys have seen guava jelly sold elsewhere!