In Summer

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Fall is here, but I wanted to share a favourite summer salad with you before the cold weather sets in for good.

Greek Orzo Salad
I had been searching for a salad hearty enough to serve on its own as a meal but light enough to also be used as a side. I also wanted something pretty easy (it had been a long week but I was determined to stay as far away from the burger joint around the corner as I could). We love Mediterranean food (aka I love feta and fresh veggies!) so when this recipe for Greek Orzo Salad from Cooking Classy came up, we decided to give it a shot.

We’ve made it at least 6 times since mid-July. I’ve switched some things up when we were out of an ingredient or two, and we skip the olives (none of us are fans), and it’s been a winner every time.

Greek Orzo Salad

Here are the deets.

Yield:

  • Original Yield: about 6 servings
  • Actual Yield: about 6 servings (unless it’s dinner.. then about 3 servings)

Prep Time:

  • Original Prep Time: none given
  • Actual Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

Cook Time:

  • Original Cook Time: none given
  • Actual Cook Time: 30 minutes (orzo-10 min + cooling orzo-5 min + 15 min to cool in fridge)

Notes or Comments:

  • As mentioned above, we always skip olives in this salad, but due to the saltiness of the feta, we’ve never found the need to add extra salt.
  • The first time we made this salad, we had no lemon and neither did the store by our house. We subbed in equal parts red wine vinegar for the dressing and it was delicious.
  • I’ve made the dressing for the salad with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and half lemon/half red wine vinegar as the acid. Our favourite is the half/half version as it gives the salad a bit more bite than just the lemon (could be because of those missing olives).

Verdict: Success! Go make this salad NOW! It’s flavourful, healthy, easy, and works as a light main or side. We’ve had it as a side for BBQ-ed sausages, grilled chicken, as lunch, and as the main course for dinner (who wants to eat hot food when it’s already 42C??). And if you try it with olives, let me know!

Greek Orzo Salad
*** Please note, the recipe for Greek Orzo Salad is in no way mine. All opinions and experiences are my own and are in no way endorsed/influenced by Cooking Classy or any other third party.

For The Love of Matcha

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We all have favourite flavours and favourite foods. My favourite fruit is mango, favourite candy flavour is banana (the fake one that they use in kids penicillin!)… And anything matcha. I LOVE matcha. My go-to at Starbucks in the green tea latte (made with matcha of course). I seek out matcha ice cream whenever I can. So you can imagine my delight when I found not one but two matcha-based recipes in the new Oh She Glows app. I decided that I had to try them ASAP.

Mighty Matcha Wheatgrass Protein Smoothie

The first one I tried was the Mighty Matcha Wheatgrass Protein Smoothie. My first attempts left something to be desired, so the second time around I added a teaspoon of maple syrup.

Bingo!

Mighty Matcha Wheatgrass Protein Smoothie

Let’s talk details.

Yield:

  • Original Yield: 2-2.5 cups
  • Actual Yield: 2 cups

Prep Time:

  • Original Prep Time: 5 minutes (total time)
  • Actual Prep Time: 3 minutes

Make Time:

  • Original Make Time: included in prep 
  • Actual Make Time: 2 minutes

Notes or comments:

  • As mentioned above, I needed to add some maple syrup to this smoothie for a touch of sweetness. I love the mild bitterness of matcha but this smoothie needed the sweetness.
  • I’ve since made this smoothie with cow’s milk and without wheatgrass, and every combination I’ve tried is yummy (just include the sweetener!)
  • I used honey as a sweetener and it works just as well as maple syrup.

Verdict: Success (with modifications)! This is as easy as it gets. My blender has liquid measurements on the sides so I didn’t even have to use a measuring cup and I didn’t have to eye-ball the milk amount (what can I say, I’m not a fan of doing dishes)! I happen to always have most of the ingredients for this smoothie on hand (wheatgrass juice/cubes being an exception), so I can whip this treat up easily and in the same amount of time as it takes to make hubby his coffee. Total win!!

Mighty Matcha Wheatgrass Protein Smoothie
**Please note, the recipe for Mighty Matcha Wheatgrass Protein Smoothie is not mine. The views and experiences above are my own and not endorsed/influenced by Oh She Glows or any other third party.

Mix and Match

Crisps and crumbles are such versatile desserts. Pick a fruit, add some spices, make the topping, and into the oven it goes. Now, as long as you have a good recipe for the topping, you can make an almost infinite number of fruit combinations. A crisp a week never hurt anyone (or has it?)!

I have some tried-and-true fruit fillings that I like to use for my desserts, but it wasn’t until recently that I came across what would become my number one favourite crisp topping recipe.

I was trying to find a recipe for a strawberry rhubarb pie filling for hubby (his favourite!) and I stumbled across this strawberry-rhubarb crisp recipe from Creations by Kara. It was simple, and I had everything to make the crisp (I was feeling lazy and didn’t really want to make a pie crust), so I made this instead. The filling was pretty good, but the crisp topping was AMAZING!

Now anytime I make a crisp, I use Kara’s recipe, and I have yet to be disappointed. It’s the perfect topping; it never overpowers the filling, stays crisp and chewy, and is the perfectly buttery. You really can’t go wrong.

Peach Crisp
Peach crisp with my favourite crisp topping!

Yield:

  • Original Yield: 1 8×8 pan
  • Actual Yield: I double the recipe for a 9×13 pan

Prep Time:

  • Original Prep Time: None Given
  • Actual Prep Time: 10 minutes for topping, 25 for the recipe, doubled

Bake Time:

  • Original Bake Time: 35-45 minutes
  • Actual Bake Time: around 40 minutes (see note below)

Comments or Notes:

  • I’ve made this as one recipe before, but most often I just use the crisp topping recipe.
  • Bake time will vary depending on your filling. I recommend using the bake time from your filling recipe.
  • If you’re just “winging it”, then I suggest starting with a bake time of 45 minutes at 350F for a 9×13 pan, adding time if necessary.

Verdict: Success! If you’re looks for a go-to, versatile crisp topping, look no further. This topping is perfectly buttery, chewy but crisp, and super simple to make. The recipe as a whole is fantastic as well; it’s the perfect summer dessert. As an added bonus, it’s not laden with sugar! Very much a win in my book.

**Please note, the recipe for the Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp is in no way mine. The views and experiences above are my own and not endorsed/influenced by Creations by Kara or any other third party.

(Not) So Creative Crisp

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One thing I love about summer in Southern Ontario is the abundance of local veggies, fruit and berries. Drive in any direction just beyond the busy borders of Toronto and you’ll be pulled this way and that; blueberries here, strawberries there, asparagus, sweet corn… And peaches. You can’t forget the peaches. I don’t go to many public events, but one I try to frequent every year is the Niagara Peach Festival. As you can imagine, they have everything peach on offer: jams, chutneys, smoothies, pies, sauces, custards, tarts, ice cream, and of course, piles and piles of fresh, sweet, juicy peaches.

We go through a LOT of fruit at my house, so of course, I bought two large containers of peaches. On our way home, a friend asked me if I planned to make a peach crisp with some of them. I blinked and nodded. And there’s a peach crisp that just came out of my oven.

But I have a confession to make.

I have never made a peach dessert before.

Never.

No peach cobbler. No peach pie. No peach tart. Although I did make a mixed fruit pie once and it had peaches in it. Does that count?

Anyways, since I’ve never made any kind of peach dessert, I decided to turn to Pinterest and its amazing search bar. The first recipe to pop up when I typed in “Fresh Peach dessert” was this peach cobbler from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I scanned through the recipe and immediately knew that I wanted to use her filling recipe. I already have an amazing go-to crisp topping (I will share it in the next post!), so I decided to forgo Sally’s cobbler topping and do a mix and match instead.

The results?

Ah-MAZE-ing!!!!!

I honestly don’t think I’ll use another peach filling again. Yeah, I might choose to slice my peaches for a decorative tart instead of dicing, but everything else I’m keeping as is. No need to reinvent the wheel people.

I did take a peek at several other crisp/cobbler recipes (just in case), and noticed that they all had quite a bit of sugar for the filling. Nothing against sugar, but when I have naturally sweet, succulent peaches, I don’t need to heap on the artificial white stuff. Sally only uses 1/4 cup of brown sugar for her cobbler and even that can be toned down if you have super sweet fruit.

It’s nothing fancy, nothing new, just an old-fashioned crisp.

Peach Crisp
Here are the deets (does anyone even say that anymore?):

Yield: 

  • Original Yield: one 9×13 pan, 10-12 people
  • Actual Yield: one 9×13 pan, 2 1/2 people for a few days (we’re not sharing!)

Prep Time:

  • Original Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Actual Prep Time: 25 minutes (I didn’t make her biscuit dough, so the timing is different)

Bake Time:

  • Original Bake Time: 40-45 minutes
  • Actual Bake Time: 41 minutes (different topping, but both crisp and cobbler recipes were calculated between 35-45 minutes)

Comments or notes:

  • I can’t make any claims on how the cobbler topping tasted as I didn’t make it.
  • I used 8 peaches to fill the pan but could have easily added a couple more.
  • I peeled my peaches over the pan to get the juices into the mix.
  • Peeling peaches is a lot harder than poaching them, but I didn’t want to bother as my counters were a bit messy and I didn’t have a ton of room.

Verdict: Success!! As mentioned above,I didn’t want the cobbler topping so I only used the filling portion of the recipe. And OMG is it delicious!! The peaches are showcased so well, no other flavours get in the way, and no part of it is overly sweet. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a hot summer evening or enjoy it hot, right out of the oven with a cozy tea in autumn. 

Peach Crisp
**Please note, the recipe for the Peach Cobbler is in no way mine. The views and experiences above are my own and not endorsed/influenced by Sally’s Baking Addiction, the Niagara Peach Festival or any other third party.

    Back on Track Trail Mix

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    It’s been a while since I’ve had time to post anything, but things are finally starting to slow down and get back to normal. I’ve actually been working on a few posts here and there but they’re all unfinished as of yet.

    Motivation? What motivation?

    I think I’ve mentioned that just before our move back in June, we emptied our fridge and ended up living off of frozen meals… Lots of lasagna, pizza, and pierogi. During the move, we continued having frozen dinners along with eating out at fast food restaurants. The trend continued (although we did start cooking at home more and more) while my sister visited in mid-July. It’s not until then, though, that we really went back to eating healthy and cooking at home.

    My big issue with all of this has been not being hungry. I went from being at home with my little one (and subsequently have 24/7 access to my fridge) to being at work for 10 hours a day plus about an hour and a half total commute time. I need quite a few options for food now.

    I totally blame my office’s lack of built-in desk fridges. Those should be a thing. Right?

    Right?

    *crickets*

    Ok fine.

    My change in daily activities, though, does mean that I need to make sure to bring several snacks to work. If I don’t, the cafeteria downstairs ends up selling me one too many donuts. Totally their fault.

    When I have a break at work, I like to browse the Oh She Glows recipes, and a couple of weeks ago I came across this post on a make-ahead lunch menu. Hidden in the yummy ideas was this Go Go Glow Mix. Can you say delicious?

    I was feeling super-inspired by it, so the other day I trekked to the local Bulk Barn, grabbed a bunch of nuts, fruits, seeds, and some dark chocolate-covered espresso beans, and got to work.

    This is what I ended up with.

    Back on Track Mix

    Yuuuuuuuummyyyy!

    It’s not quite the same as Angela’s mix, but one of the great things about trail mixes is how versatile they are. You can keep what you like (or have around in your pantry) and leave out what you don’t want.

    Here’s my version of the Go Go Glow Mix:

    Yield: about 4 cups

    Prep Time: 5 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups raw mixed nuts (mine had no peanuts)
    • 1/2 cup dried goji berries
    • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
    • 1/2 cup dark chocolate-covered espresso beans (or chocolate chips)

    Directions

    • Pour all ingredients into a bowl or container (preferably with a lid).
    • Close the lid and shake to mix.
    • Enjoy!


    I added about 1/3 of a cup to my packed lunch today and it was the perfect mid-morning snack. I ended up with about 3 of the espresso beans and it was just enough to give me a tiny caffeine boost without making me jittery or sick. I’m still breastfeeding so I’m making sure to have very little caffeine or none at all. I don’t even want to know what a cup of coffee would do to me now… I haven’t had one in over two years!

    With things being more normal now, I’m hoping to be able to post more often. I’ve been trying out recipes and have a few backlogged posts I need to finish for you guys. Think refreshing summer salads, frosty smoothies, and even a short, tiny-bit-spoilerish-but-not-too-much-given-away review of the hottest book of the summer (if you thought Harry Potter and the Cursed Child you are correct)!

    Hope to see you back!

    *This recipe is my own and was created based on inspiration from the Oh She Glows Go Go Glo mix. The views and experiences above are mine and not endorsed/influenced by Oh She Glows or any other third party.

    Do The Mash… The Potato Mash

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    Another late post.

    Well, at least this time I totally have a string of genuine reasons (and not excuses). Unfortunately I’ll be around sporadically until mid-July, but it’s the Saturday of a long weekend here in Canada, so I have some down time and can write a bit.

    What have I been up to? Well, where do I start? The week before heading back to work, Hubby and I ended up buying a house (yay!). We weren’t expecting to buy until late summer, but an amazing opportunity came up so we took it (and all of the craziness it. Then right as I started back from Maternity leave, the little one got sick. She was down and out for two weeks, and of course as she began to feel better, Hubby and I got whatever she had. Ugh. And of course let’s add teething to the mix. Let’s just say I’m tired.

    Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes
    On a positive note, I’ve been trying out lots of recipes from Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows. I have her book, I have the app (and love it!), and I love the blog. What I really like about her recipes is that they’re mostly very simple to make, but they’re always super flavourful and very satisfying. I can make a vegetarian dinner (sorry, but I can’t say no to butter or cheese!) that’s filling and NOT just a pasta or plain salad, that Hubby and little one will eat, and that doesn’t take me 5 hours in the kitchen.

    One dish that’s both in the Oh She Glows cookbook (page 207) and is on the app is for Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Love creamy, silky mashed potatoes with fragrant garlic? Love veggies? Or want to sneak in some extra veggies for your picky eaters? This is the recipe to try. You may never go back to plain old mashed potatoes again.

    Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes
    From the OSG app… yum!

    Yield:

    • Original Yield: 4 cups
    • Actual Yield: 4+ cups

    Prep Time:

    • Original Prep Time: 10 minutes
    • Actual Prep Time: 20 minutes (peeling potatoes takes time!)

    Cook Time:

    • Original Cook Time: 20 minutes
    • Actual Cook Time: about 20 minutes

    Notes or comments:

    • I’m the first to admit that my knife skills are quite lacking, so I love that this recipe calls for grating the garlic on a microplane. You can, of course, mince it by hand as well.
    • We’re not vegan, so I skip the vegan butter and use regular butter (obviously it works just fine).
    • I’ve also used both regular cow’s milk as well as unsweetened almond milk and both work very well here.
    • I’ve added a sweet potato to the mix once (I’m obviously a wild one!) and while it tasted amazing, I did have to end up puréeing the sweet potato to match the consistency of the regular potatoes and cauliflower.
    • I’ve never left out the garlic (we love the flavour), but I have added other herbs and spices to give us some variety, and even added some goat cheese once. Super yummy!

    Verdict: Success! I’ve made this as a side at least 5 times now and we haven’t even thought of making just plain mashed potatoes. This has become our go-to potato side and I’m sure you’ll love it too. It’s an easy dish to customize, so feel free to put your own twist on it!

    Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes

    *Please note, the recipe and app image for Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes is in no way mine. The views and experiences above are my own and not endorsed/influenced by Oh She Glows or any other third party.

      Am I “Glow”-ing Yet?

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      Hello lovelies!

      It’s been waaaaaay too long since I’ve posted, and I’m very sorry about the MIA-ing here and there. Over the past month I was busy trying out new recipes on my Pinterest board and planning my little one’s first birthday party. I’ll do a post on that later, because why not (I used some Pinterest inspiration of course!).

      For today, however, I want to jump on the bandwagon of a VERY popular blog (and now cookbook and app!)… You guessed it. Oh She Glows.

       

      Oh She Glows cookbook
      My copy!
       
      Now let me start by saying that we’re neither vegan nor vegetarian, and we’re not following any specific dietary restrictions or fads. I’m just hell-bent on having us eat as healthfully as possible (without breaking the bank). I suppose that in loving the recipes we’ve tried so far, it’s a great testament that many (if not all) of the recipes are tasty and filling enough for the average omnivore.

      We haven’t had many of the recipes as of yet, and some I’ve modified a touch or added meat as the optional protein (hubby and tofu are not friends), but they’ve all turned out great and the modifications are such, that the recipe would retain the nutrition and flavour of the original.

       

      Raspberry Mousse Chia Bowl
      Screencap from the OSG app… yum!!
       
      Now, onto the first review: the Raspberry Mousse Chia Bowl. Now, I can’t seem to find this exact recipe on the blog, as I got it from the app, but the chia pudding component is here or here or on page 225 in the book and the mousse component seems to be in the app only. Sorry for not having any of my own pictures, I just always forget to take one before devouring this for breakfast.

      Yield:

      • Original Yield: 3 servings
      • Actual Yield: 3 servings

      Prep Time:

      • Original Prep Time: 15 minutes
      • Actual Prep Time: 10-20 minutes (less time if you skip the mousse)

      Cook/Chill Time:

      • Original Cook/Chill Time: 1 hour or overnight
      • Actual Cook Time: overnight (I found the chia pudding to not be quite as thick as I like it after just one hour with the given amount of milk)

      Notes or Comments:

      • I’m sure it’s been said a hundred times, but if you aren’t a fan of the tapioca consistency, skip this recipe. I love tapioca, so it was a win for me.
      • The first time I made this I was out of avocado so I skipped the mousse component and had the pudding with granola and fresh fruit. You NEED an acidic fruit like kiwi or berries for this pudding otherwise the creaminess can be a bit overwhelming. I ended up adding extra fruit half-way through eating. I’d skip the banana for this one.
      • If you make the mousse, you can go easy on the fresh fruit, as it’s the perfect compliment to the chia pudding.
      • I don’t have the time as of right now to make my own almond milk, so I’ve made this recipe with store-bought almond milk (if you use sweetened, skip the maple syrup sweetener!) as well as plain cow’s milk (I used half of the maple syrup). Both options gave me a creamy, decadent pudding perfect for topping with fruit, mousse, and granola.

      Verdict: Success! This is a delicious way to start your day (and it’s healthy! Yay!). This is a recipe that can be modified and adapted to your tastes (and available ingredients!). It’s simple and quick to make, especially if you’re not making your own milk, and sets up ready to eat overnight in the fridge. Just cut up some fruit, put everything together with your lunch, and you can have a filling and delicious breakfast without resorting to that box of Lucky Charms.

      **Please note, the recipe for Raspberry Mousse Chia Bowl is in no way mine. The views and experiences above are my own and not endorsed/influenced by Oh She Glows or any other third party.