17/04/2016

Blueberry Almond Pancakes


Happy Sunday! Today's recipe is all about these incredible, blueberry and almond pancakes from the Super Fresh cookbook. Fresh (four locations in Toronto) is my favourite restaurant. It serves up the most delicious vegetarian and vegan foods, even all of my meat-eating friends love it! When I saw this cookbook at work I knew I had to pick it up and I'm so glad I did. It's full of two hundred or so recipes, a few of which I have already tried and they went over very well. 

While these blueberry almond pancakes are on the menu at Fresh, I have yet to try them there. I thought I'd try my hand at making them on my own. Usually, I like my pancakes piled high with maple syrup and whipped cream or maybe even some Nutella but these pancakes are already so flavourful from the fresh, juicy blueberries and the fragrant and toasted almonds. The recipe is super fast to put together as well, so these make an impressive, yet quick weekend breakfast where you are not fussing around the kitchen for too long.

Yield - about 10 six-inch pancakes

Ingredients -

2 cups of flour, the original recipe calls for gluten-free all-purpose flour, I used quinoa flour
1 and 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 of a teaspoon of sea salt
1 and 1/2 cups of almond milk, or whatever milk you have on hand
1/4 of a cup of maple syrup, original recipe calls for agave nectar
Coconut oil, for frying
2/3 of a cup of sliced almonds
1 cup of fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried

Method -

1 - Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine your milk and maple syrup. Make a well in the bowl of your dry ingredients and add a little of your liquid ingredients. Mix together. Keep on gradually adding in your liquid, stirring after each addition. Mix until everything comes together and makes a batter.
2 - Heat your coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Using a small ladle, drop your batter onto the hot pan. I use the back of the ladle to spread the batter out into perfect circles. Once you drop the batter, press some blueberries and almonds into the batter.
3 - Cook pancakes until the bottoms have browned and the tops are bubbling. Flip and cook until the other side is browned and cooked through. Repeat with leftover batter.
4 - Serve warm, with maple syrup.

Thank you for reading! Have a lovely day! x


16/04/2016

Vegan Pear Muffins


We had a few pears laying around that were just days from going off so I thought I'd put together a little something with them. I really love this recipe for banana muffins so I used it as a guideline and changed things up quite a bit. Firstly, I omitted the banana and added in my overly ripe pears. Since pears are quite sweet, I cut the amount of sugar in half. If you want something sweeter go ahead and add in all the sugar, or even some maple syrup. I am not vegan (maybe one day!), but I really enjoy trying out vegan alternatives in my baking. Instead of using eggs, I made an egg substitute using just chia seeds and water. Instead of melted butter, I melted some coconut oil in both the muffins themselves as well as for the streusel topping. There really is no difference with the texture or the density of the muffins, so you don't have to worry about that. 

The end result leaves you with incredibly moist muffins that are packed with flavour and topped with a sweet and crumbly brown sugar streusel.

Yield - 12 muffins

Ingredients -

Muffins
1 tablespoon of chia seeds

3 tablespoons of water
5 small, overly ripe pears
1/2 of a cup of coconut oil, melted
1 and a 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 of a cup of organic sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 of a teaspoon of salt
1 heaping teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/8 of a teaspoon of ground ginger

Streusel Topping
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
1/4 of a cup of organic brown sugar
1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
1/3 of a cup of oats

Method -

1 - Preheat your oven to 400F and line a muffin tray with paper liners. In a small bowl, combine your chia seeds and water. Mix and let sit for about five minutes. It will turn sort of gooey and act as a substitute for eggs in this recipe.
2 - Mash up your pears. The pears you use should be overly ripe and very soft. Once mashed be sure to drain any excess liquid. In a large bowl whisk your pears together with your chia seed mixture and melted coconut oil until combined. Set aside.
3 - In a small bowl mix together your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Combine with your pear mixture and mix just until everything is moistened. 
4 - Spoon your batter into your paper liners. Be sure not to fill them up too much, you will need a bit of room for your streusel topping.
5 - Make your streusel topping by combining all your ingredients in a small bowl and top muffins generously.
6 - Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Be sure not to overbake. You want your muffins to be moist.

I hope you enjoy these! They are absolutely delicious and just so simple to put together. Have a great weekend! x

25/03/2016

Hot Cross Buns


Because they are so indulgent, hot cross buns were banned from being sold in Elizabethan England on any day except Good Friday. Today is Good Friday, so go ahead and treat yourselves! The recipe I used came from the April edition of Chatelaine magazine. I have made a few minor changes, but I believe you will find these to be so incredibly tasty, especially if enjoyed right from the oven. They're sticky and sweet from the icing sugar glaze, but the buns themselves are so chewy and delectable, packed with plenty of spices and raisins. Slather them with some butter and enjoy with a hot cup of tea, these make a wonderfully scrumptious breakfast.

They are quite simple to make, although quite time consuming. You need to allow the dough to rise twice, for about an hour each time. So if you haven't got much else to do today, then why not? This recipe leaves you with twelve sinfully delcious hot cross buns.


Ingredients -

Dough
1 cup of raisins
3 and 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 of a cup of white sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
2 and 1/4 teaspoons of quick-rise yeast
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 of a teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 of a teaspoon of ground ginger
1/3 of a cup of warm water*
1/2 of a cup of warm milk*
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 egg, at room temperature

* The water and the milk must be warm enough to activate your yeast. Make sure both liquids are around 120F - 130F

Crosses
1/4 of a cup of all-purpose flour
1/4 of a cup of water

Glaze
1 cup of icing sugar
2 tablespoons of water

Method -

1 - In a small bowl, cover your raisins with boiling water for about ten minutes. This allows the raisins to plump up. Drain well and pat dry. Set aside.
2 - In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together 1 cup of flour with your sugar, lemon zest, yeast, salt and spices. Gradually add in the warmed up water and milk, as well as your egg. Incorporate the remaining 2 1/4 cups of flour and continue mixing until the dough looks smooth and is cleanly pulling away from the sides of your bowl. This should take between five and seven minutes.
3 - Add in your raisins. You can continue using your mixer but I prefer to knead the raisins in by hand, on a lightly floured surface. Once the raisins have been fully combined, lightly oil a large bowl and pop your dough in it. Cover with a warm, damp tea towel and allow the dough to rise until it’s doubled in size, roughly one hour.
4 - Transfer your dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into twelve equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball, trying to keep the dough as smooth as possible. This can be quite tricky, I ended up with a few bumpy looking buns but it really makes no difference in taste. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer your balls of dough to the sheet, arranging them in four rows of three so they are just touching. Cover with your tea towel once again (if your towel has gone cold, warm it up a bit) and let rise for about an hour.
5 - Preheat your oven to 350F. To make the crosses for on top of your buns, mix together 1/4 of a cup of flour and 1/4 of a cup of water until smooth. I just pour this into a small Ziploc-bag and snip a small hole in one corner. Pipe crosses onto your buns. Pop into your oven to bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
6 - Stir together your icing sugar and two tablespoons of water until smooth. Brush over the tops of the buns fresh from the oven. Transfer to a rack and allow for them to cool and tuck in!

Thank you for reading! Happy Easter weekend!


14/02/2016

Raspberry Almond Blondies


Happy Valentine's Day! 

Just a quick post today, but to celebrate this wonderful occasion, I baked up a delicious batch of raspberry almond blondies. I'm one of those people who much prefer blondies to brownies, something about the sickly-sweetness I guess or the simple fact that blondies are essentially just baked brown sugar and butter - my favourite combination. The addition of the raspberries gives a much needed tartness to the bars and the aromatic roasted almonds elevate the texture and provide a nice, toasted flavour. 

The recipe I used (which can be found here, from Tutti-Dolci) is a simple and quick one. Melted butter, rather than room temperature is used so you don't have to wait for it to soften. Making these perfect to prepare right now as a last minute Valentine's Day treat for someone special. Or just for yourself.

Have a lovely Valentine's day! Thank you for reading!

11/02/2016

Raspberry Pistachio Brownies


Hi, everyone! Valentine's day is just a few days away so I come bearing a simple, yet tasty recipe for you to whip up for yourself (or I guess for your loved ones, as well). I have previously posted about these brownies over here, but they were made with salted caramel. If you stick with the basic recipe, you can add whatever you have on hand - nuts, any other fresh fruits, pieces of chocolate bars, basically whatever your little heart desires! The base is totally versatile and so thick, dense and wonderful, so I'm sure that anything that you add will go over extremely well. 

Ingredients -
1 cup of butter, melted
1 1/4 cups of white sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2/3 of a cup of cocoa powder
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 of a teaspoon of salt
1/2 of a teaspoon of baking powder
1 shot of espresso, optional
1 cup of shelled salted pistachios
1/2 pint of fresh raspberries

Method -
Preheat your convection oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x9 pan and set aside. Melt your butter and pour into a large mixing bowl. Continue to add the rest of your ingredients in the order that they are listed. Mix well and pour into your prepared pan.
Top the brownies with your raspberries, gently press them into the batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean, your brownies are ready. 

Enjoy! And stay tuned for another super simple and delicious treat that's perfect for Valentine's Day! Thank you for reading!

04/02/2016

Lush Haul


My favourite time to shop at Lush is whenever there is a Holiday coming up (I am already excited for their Easter stuff!). I'm such a fan of their collections and with Valentine's Day just around the corner, it was imperative that I do some shopping.

While browsing the Lush website, the first thing that landed in my shopping cart was the Prince Charming shower cream. I believe Lush first released Prince Charming in last year's Valentine's collection but as a shower gel rather than a shower cream. I guess the main difference between the gels and creams is that the creams are made using moisturising ingredients, in this case, Prince Charming is made with cocoa butter. I really like the scent, it is fresh and fruity with pomegranate and vanilla, without being too sweet. The colour is gorgeous as well, an opaque pink that looks an awful lot like paint. It lathers up really well, left my skin feeling moisturised and the scent lingers (very subtly) throughout the day. I definitely think I will be repurchasing before it goes out of stock after Valentine's Day! 

After using up my Montalbano shampoo bar (you can read about it in one of my previous blog posts here) I decided to try something different. I just found that Montalbano, while perfect for my oily hair, was just too drying to use during the already dry Winter months. So, I did some research and decided to pick up Jason and the Argan Oil shampoo bar. To be quite honest I only purchased this because of its scent - it has the same smell as the Lush Rose Jam shower gel, which is only sold during the Holiday season. I was a little bit concerned that the argan oil would make my hair even more greasy but I'm happy to say that it hasn't. It leaves my hair looking super shiny and I've been able to go four days between washes until my hair starts looking oily. You can also buy Shampoo Bar Tin to store your bar as well as for travel. 

American Cream conditioner is my favourite Lush scent of all time. I know, that's a very bold statement but seriously, it is just so lovely! Lush describes it as a strawberry vanilla cream scent but I don't really smell the strawberries, definitely some sort of creamy vanilla dessert, though. It can be days after I wash my hair but the scent lingers! It is fantastic and whenever I swish my hair around I can smell it. Despite my greasy roots my ends can get quite dry but American Cream has been very good about keeping my hair looking soft, moisturised and shiny. If you're in the market for a new hair conditioner I strongly suggest you to try this out!! I am sure the scent alone will win you over.

The Unicorn Horn bubble bar is a returning favourite from Lush. This too is a part of their Valentines Day collection so it's only available for a limited time. I did not manage to get a hold of one last year since they sold out so quickly but I immediately grabbed one when they first went on sale this year. Aesthetically speaking, this bubble bar is far too cute. It's shimmery and a swirl of bright colours and full of Lavender and Neroli essential oils which make this the perfect treat to use before tucking into bed for the night. It is a decent size so I think it would be good for up to three baths. 

Silky Underwear dusting powder can be used in many ways, I've seen reviews on the Lush website about people using it as a dry shampoo, to prevent chafing, sprinkled on their bedsheets and even in their shoes. The main way that I use it is under my arms. I use one of those crystal deodorants (which I one hundred percent recommend) but since it is unscented I like to sprinkle some Silky Underwear on under my arms. It smells great, and it's made with cocoa butter so it melts right into your skin and leaves me feeling nice and soft. I'm sure once Summer rolls back around and the days are hot and sticky this stuff will be put to good use. 

And that's everything! Do let me know in the comments what your favourite Lush products are. And as usual, thank you for taking the time to read!