Snowmageddon – DIY Spring Wreath

If you live anywhere near the GTA then you know that we’re currently living through what I hope is our LAST snowmageddon of the winter and spring can’t come quickly enough.

Being snowed in inspired me to finally make my spring wreath. I’ve never been a wreath person, but since we actually OWN our place now, I went decoration-crazy for Christmas and ended up making a wreath. I’m super proud of it and think it’s lovely, and since it’s not actually Christmas themed it’s been living on my front door from December until now as a winter wreath.

I got my supplies for it at Michael’s way back in November and for about 20$, a couple glue sticks, and lots of scissor work (to get the floral stems and picks into pieces!) I ended up with this lovely creation.

Winter Wreath
Festive winter wreath
Winter Wreath detail
Isn’t the flower gorgeous? It was obviously the focus of the wreath

But now it’s time to coax out the warm weather and sunny days, green grass, flowers, and beautiful colours. So of course I hit up Michael’s again and Dollarama for some inexpensive pieces to chop up and reassemble to make a wreath I’d love.

Traditional round wreaths are nice and all but I wanted something fun and different. Of course I came across an adorable bunny wreath and knew it would be perfect. It came with some glittery eggs already attached, so I removed most of them and added bits and pieces from some spring florals and picks. And for a grand total of about 7$, I now have a springy bunny wreath to remind me that the snow will melt soon enough!

Spring wreath
Simple and cute! And works before and after Easter!
Spring wreath detail
Eggs and flower detail
Spring wreath detail
I adore the little nest with the eggs!

I hope spring shows up soon wherever you are (and I’m super jealous if you aren’t under a pile of snow)!

*Please not that all ideas and experiences are my own. This post is not endorsed by Michael’s, Dollarama, or any other third party.

Super Smooth(ie)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here, which usually leads to some not-so-healthy food choices. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I needed to stock up on pasta and pierogi again this past weekend.

Whenever we go through a period like this, I end up with this massive need to eat all of the healthy things in existence. My lunches become quinoa- and chard-filled, I buy a (normal person’s) lifetime supply of Greek yoghurt at Costco, and I stick everything that’s green into my blender to make smoothies when I have time.

I like yoghurt, ok? Don’t judge.

Anyways, since I have the Oh She Glows app on my phone, I check it daily to see if Angela has put up a new recipe. There are quite a few smoothie recipes on there, and between the two OSG cookbooks and the app, I have a TON of inspiration for smoothies. And since I was hit with a major craving this morning, I decided to do smoothies for lunch. This meant they’d have to pass the hubby-test AND the baby-test. Talk about stressful.

Green Mango Smoothie

Here’s what I came up with:

Green Mango Smoothie (Thickie)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup apple juice/cider
  • 1 cup milk (any kind works, I tried both cow’s milk and coconut milk to great reviews)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yoghurt (optional)
  • 1 tart or semi-sweet apple (Granny Smith or Gala apples work well), cored and peeled
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups frozen mango pieces (can use fresh)
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional, still nice and sweet without it)
  • 1 tbsp protein powder (I used an unflavoured hemp powder this time)
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • Ice cubes (optional, if you want a thinner consistency)

Method

  • Place everything except the maple syrup and ice cubes into your blender and blend until smooth.
  • Add ice cubes (or juice) if a thinner consistency is required.
  • Add maple syrup to taste.
  • Enjoy!

I think this is the best smoothie I have made to date. We all LOVED IT. This is extra awesome, especially since my toddler changes her favourite food more often than we change her diaper. She gulped down this smoothie in record time, then turned to me and asked: More? More? More? Total success.

Green Mango Smoothie

If I was making this just for myself, I would use one cup of mango and add a cup of greens (lettuce, sprouts, microgreens). I would also probably add 1 tbsp of flax seeds.

**Please note, the recipe for the Green Mango Smoothie is mine, but has been inspired by the many recipes from Oh She Glows. The views and experiences above are my own and not endorsed/influenced by Oh She Glows or any other third party.

(Sugar) Baby Carrots

Wow, this is so late…

You know when you eat something that’s not as healthy as it should be but you convince yourself otherwise? Of course you can have that second donut… it’s baked (not fried!)… sure, go for fries instead of a side salad, as long as they’re sweet potato fries!

I’m all for moderation and indulgences now and again. There’s no point in being super healthy but miserable in my opinion. That and, you know, that donut won’t eat itself… I’ll take one for the team.

I love my vegetables and I love preparing them in a myriad of different ways, but one of my FAVOURITE ways to have carrots is cooked in butter and brown sugar. Since it’s not exactly the healthiest recipe, we eat it rarely, but it’s to die for.

It’s something hubby has been making for a few years and while I’m sure there’s an original recipe out there somewhere, I’m just going to give you a rundown of how we make it at home.

Brown Sugar Carrots
Brown Sugar Carrots

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Method:

  1. Wash, peel, and chop carrots into rounds.
  2. In a saucepan on low, melt the butter.
  3. Add in the brown sugar, stirring until the sugar is melted, about 1-2 minutes
  4. Add in the carrots, stirring to coat in the butter, and cook until tender, about 12-15 minutes
  5. Serve immediately!

Brown Sugar Carrots

*This recipe was introduced to me by my husband and was passed down from his mom. Any similarities to other recipes (I’m sure they’re out there) are coincidental. The views and experiences above are mine and not endorsed/influenced by any other third party.

In Summer

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

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

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.