Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Basil Pesto


The Busboy (Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld)

(Jerry, George, and Elaine are all eating at an Italian restaurant. George hasn't eaten anything)

GEORGE: Why do I get pesto? Why do I think I'll like it? I keep trying to like it, like I have to like it.
JERRY: Who said you have to like it?
GEORGE: Everybody likes pesto. You walk into a restaurant, that's all you hear - pesto, pesto, pesto.
JERRY: I don't like pesto.
GEORGE: Where was pesto 10 years ago?

LOL. Classic. But seriously, who doesn't love pesto? So fresh, so green, so delicious!

Can you ever have too much basil?


200 g basil leaves ( a big colander full or three small bunches), ends cut off but I keep the stems on
200 g toasted pine nuts
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
200 g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 clove garlic
1 lemon, juiced


  1. In a large blender, place pine nuts, basil, garlic and lemon juice.
  2. Puree for 1 minute or until ingredients are roughly blended.
  3. Slowly, add oil while blender is on medium setting.
  4. Add cheese.
  5. If too thick add a bit more oil.
  6. Blend until almost smooth or to desired consistency.
  7. Will last for a few of days in refrigerator.
  8. If adding to pasta, make sure you include a couple of tablespoons of pasta water when adding pesto to pasta.
or pine nuts?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mango Tango Berry Smoothie

Smoothies in the morning are an easy way to grab a nutritious cup of fruits and veggies especially for people who don't like a big breakfast.

This one is easy peasy. And it doesn't have anything but fruit in it - no dairy. Throw in a handful of frozen mango, fresh or frozen strawberries, pineapple and a 2 peeled oranges. I add 1/2 c  water (more if needed). Blend away and it's done! It honestly tastes like spring feels - clean, fresh, pure and refreshing. If you want you can add some hemp hearts for added nutrition.


1/2 cup frozen mango
1 c strawberries
2 medium orange, peeled
1/2 cup pineapple
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp hemp seeds (optional)


Blend everything together for 1 minute or desired consistently is reached.

Other smoothies you should try:
Green Goodness
Avocado Strawberry Smoothie
Blueberry Mango Smoothie
Blueberry Banana Tofu Smoothie
Pomegranate and Kale Smoothie
Strawberry Muesli Smoothie
Detox Lemon Spinach Smoothie
Cranberry Orange Antioxidant Smoothie
Chocolate Avocado Smoothie

Friday, January 9, 2015

Orange Spiced Tea Poppy Seed Loaf with OJ Glaze


I drink coffee. A lot of coffee. For the most part, I only drink tea if I'm feeling sick or my mom is in town. But baking with tea is something different - I love it. I didn't really think about it until I attended the IFBC 2014 in Seattle last September. There, I attended a session led by Cindi Bigelow, President & CEO of Bigelow Tea. I learned an amazing amount of facts and information about tea. We also tasted amazing baked goods with tea as a main ingredient. This what inspired this loaf. Bonus: My kids loved it!

Brush with tea glaze - poke holes in top of loaf to ensure maximum tea flavour.

Brush or pour the glaze on the loaf once loaf has cooled.

Let sit for at least 30 minutes to dry slightly.



3 bags orange and spice tea
1 -1/4 c  boiling water

1½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp poppyseeds
3/4 cup plain yogurt
¼ c steeped orange and spice tea
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp orange zest
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup vegetable oil

Orange Tea Syrup:
1 cup orange and spice tea
1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp pure orange flavoring (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with baking spray.

  1. Steep 3 tea bags in boiled water.
  2. Let steep 10 minutes.
  3. Discards tea bags and let tea cool.


  1. Make orange syrup by placing 1 cup tea and 1 cup sugar in blender. Blend for 1 minute.
  2. Set aside. Can be made ahead of time.


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt and tea.
  3. Add eggs and whisk until combined.
  4. Add sugar, zest, vanilla and vegetable oil and whisk until combined.
  5. Add in dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan.
  8. Poke holes over top of loaf.
  9. Brush syrup over orange poppy seed loaf.
  10. Wait 10 minutes and brush with more syrup. (you’ll have extra syrup – just refrigerate for future use)
  11. Cool loaf completely.
  12. Create glaze by whisking together icing sugar, orange juice and orange flavoring.
  13. Gently pour glaze over loaf, let set till crust forms on glaze, about 30 minutes.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mini M&M Chip Cookies


Ever get intense, give it to me now, craving for chocolate chip cookies? I do. And there is nothing more frustrating when all I have is cold hard butter instead of the room temperature version most recipes call for. This recipe avoids the problem by using melted butter! The cookies are crispy and perfectly sweet. Mmmm craving satisfied.

I used mini m&m's but you could substitute regular or mini chocolate chips.


2-2/3 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 c granulated sugar
2/3 c melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp hot water
1 package (about 2 cups) mini m&ms or chips
2 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until well mixed.
  3. Add eggs and beat for 30 seconds until incorporated.
  4. Mix in vanilla and water.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. 
  6. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  7. Using 1-inch cookie scoop, place on ungreased baking pan.
  8. Bake for 8 minutes.
  9. Cool on pan for 5 minutes and remove to cooking rack.
  10. Repeat with remaining batter.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Drunken Beef and Potato Stew


Vancouver rarely gets really cold. Usually our winters are mild and rainy with a few periods of snow thrown in over the season. This year, however, has been colder than usual...and I'm not complaining because it has also been sunnier than usual...I'll take sunny & cold over mild  & rainy anytime!

And let's face it, cold weather is perfect for cooking up soups and stews. Stew is exactly where my mind went to when I was trying to decide on a recipe to create for The Little Potato Company. Have you heard of them? If not, you've probably seen them...they're in lots of grocery stores across Canada...even Costco. They produce over a dozen potato products and take their work very seriously to give their customers the perfect little potato. I also love that they give back to the community by donating over 25,000 pounds of potatoes to food banks every year!
Here, I used their Blushing Belle potatoes. According to The Little Potato Company, they were "...originally bred in Germany by one of the oldest breeding companies in Europe, Blushing Belle is extremely versatile, and adapts well to a variety of cooking methods. Named after its blushing red skin and buttery yellow flesh, Blushing Belle delivers a soft, light texture with mild, delicate flavour. Excellent roasted or mashed."

Image from The Little Potato Company

I used them in this recipe because they hold up well under long heat. In other words, they won't turn to mush before they make it to your plate. I also added big pieces of carrot and celery and lots of garlic! Oh and did I mention the wine? Yup, a whole bottle of dry red wine goes into this stew!



2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lbs beef stew meat
3 c dry red wine (1 bottle)
3 cups beef stock
1/3 c flour
1.5 lbs baby red potatoes
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
2 large shallots, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 gloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, grated
1/2 c tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. On medium high heat, add vegetable oil to large sautee pan.
  3. Brown beef by placing pieces of beef in large dutch oven or other bakable pot - don't crowd the meat! Work in batches if necessary.
  4. Turn beef until all sides are browned.
  5. Remove beef from pan and place in large mixing bowl.
  6. If needed, add another tablespoon of oil to pot and add onions, leeks and shallots. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir often so they don't burn.
  7. Add garlic to onions and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Remove and place onions/garlic mixture into beef bowl.
  9. Add tomato paste to pot and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. This will deepen the flavour of the tomato paste.
  10. Add 1 cup of wine to pan and mix with paste. Stir and get all the bits stuck on the bottom of the pan off of the pan.
  11. Bring to simmer.
  12. Add the beef and onions back into the pan.
  13. In a small bowl stir flour salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and cumin.
  14. Sprinkle flour mixture over the beef and combine.
  15. Add Worcestershire sauce, ginger, 2 cups wine, and stock to the pot.
  16. Bring the pot to a simmer.
  17. Add carrots, potatoes, and celery.
  18. Cover and place pot in oven.
  19. Cook for 3 hours, until beef is incredibly tender.
  20. Remove from oven.
  21. If it is not thick enough, mix cornstarch with cold water in a small dish until cornstarch is dissolved.
  22. Add to stew and stir in.
  23. Place back in oven for another 15 minutes.
  24. Remove from oven.
  25. Serve.
Note: As with most beef stews, this dish tastes even better the next day!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Feta Olive Pesto Spread

We're about to embark on that time of year when snowflakes fall on nose and eyelashes, bells jingle, and family and friends come home for the holidays! All of this means more parties, get togethers and nights filled with the angst of trying to decide what to feed all of these people!

This spreadable feta-olive pesto spread is perfect - if you take some shortcuts, it's super easy and fast to put together and if you take the long way it's still not that hard. It will definitely impress your guests if you serve it like we did - in individual serving cups (sake cups) with little bread sticks!

I use Macedonian feta - it is soft, creamy and mild tasting.When I'm not interested in making it from scratch, I head to my local Greek grocery store and buy some of their delicious olive pesto. I only need about 2 tablespoons of olive pesto per cup of feta. I throw the pesto and feta in a food processor and pulse until it comes together. If you don't like olives you could add traditional pesto instead. A mild goat cheese would work too!

If you want to make it from scratch, you can make the pesto ahead of time. It's also good on pasta!


Olive Pesto


1 tbsp sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1/2 c kalamata olives, no pits


  1. Add tomatoes, cheese, garlic and pine nuts to food processor. Pulse until combined but chunky.
  2. Add olives and olive oil.
  3. Pulse until combined. You want it to have texture - that is, not too smooth.


Feta-olive pesto spread


1 c Macedonian feta
2 tbsp olive pesto


Combine and pulse feta and pesto until combined.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are soft, cakey, chocolately and with just a whisper of coconut flavor. They are possibly my favorite chocolate chip cookie. I used coconut oil because I didn't have any butter on hand. I wasn't sure I would like it since I don't use coconut oil often but taking this risk paid off! And when they are still warm and gooey, omg, they are nirvana on your tongue!

Makes approx 4 dozen cookies.


2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp hot water
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2-2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix the espresso powder and hot water in a small bowl.
  3. Beat together the oil, sugar, eggs, hot water and coffee until well combined.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Stir in the chips.
  7. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, place batter onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 8-9 minutes.
  9. They will be slightly cracked and shiny.
  10. Cool for two minutes and then move to a cooling rack. As they cool, the cookies lose the shiny look and will flatten a bit.
  11. If you think they are too flat, place the batter in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.