“Spring fake-out” | Blueberry Ricotta Breakfast Muffins

I hope you are having a fantastic week. It has been painfully cold around these parts, waking up to -21 degrees Celsius is not among my favorite ways to wake up, but I’m making do with cuddly pajamas and freshly washed sheets.

I’m going to ignore what is happening outside of my dining room window (SNOW. SNOW. WIND. SNOW. ugh) and write to you from my happy place: a mild climate town in Europe, with a ton of markets, thrift stores and cafes to busy my days in. Or perhaps I’ll stay in the country and head west to British Columbia and drive through the mountains. It will be more mild and humid, far better than this frigid, dry cold that has fallen over us here in the east.

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I went to a local thrift store recently and picked up a few gems that I’m quite tickled with!

– An olddd pot that is so thin, it boils nearly twice as fast!
– An adorable wicker basket with leather handles, it is the perfect size.
– An old (I’m tempted to say vintage, but I don’t know?) sterling silver cake stand and matching cake lift.
– Another cake lift with a pearl handle – definitely not authentic, but it was pretty.
– One of the better finds of the day was a stone wear plate with some beautiful floral detail on it that I am absolutely in love with – I’m not typically a floral design kind of person, but this is so delicate.
– Finally, an old springform cake pan that I paid ONE WHOLE DOLLAR for!!!! 😉
(the tea pot and tray were in my hutch, shhh)

I’m starting to form a collection of “photo props” for this space, which is kind of nerdy, but kind of great all at the same time.

(Recipe after the jump)

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A Cake to Share | Honey Pear Cake

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I am constantly reminded and surprised by how much can change within a year, how we morph as we grow, yet we always feel “the same” until we actually take the time to look back. It feels the same way with seasons, too. Right now there is so much snow on the ground (about 3 feet, we think – it’s hard to tell with the gigantic 5+ foot drifts) and we *unthoughtfully* swear “we have never EVER seen this much snow before”, but would be reminded otherwise once we looked back about 10 years. Each year it feels that summer will never get here, and then when it finally does and it is the same rainy, humid summer, it feels as though we have never seen snow and are delighted the first day it falls. I really quite like this, though, that although humans are typically in the state of mind of always needing something new, we can feel excited by the changing of seasons that has happened since the beginning of everything.

This week both dragged on and flew by. Do you ever feel that way? Earlier in the week, when we had our Heritage Day holiday and were snowed in for two days, those days dragged on and on and on. Once we were finally able to leave the house, the rest of the week went by in a flash. I had intentions on many of those days to post this recipe. Instead, I made it again to provide you with a superior version and was delighted when I woke up to a muted grey sky, the most perfect source of light for photography.

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I think that this cake is perfect for the season that we’re currently drifting through – cold, wet, rainy, but with the promise of spring. It is light, fluffy, the most perfect accompaniment to a hot tea or coffee for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Continue reading

No oats? No problem! | Our Favorite Granola: Carob Buckwheat

I’m writing to you from what appears to be the North Pole. The snow banks in the town are well over my head, and if I attempted to walk throughout my lawn, I’m guessing that the snow would be about knee-height. Nova Scotia has gotten pummeled with snow the past couple of weeks and Mother Nature doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Luckily for you, the wind chill is convincing me to stay indoors in my cozy kitchen. I’ve got a few special recipes coming up in the near future to share with you, but today I thought I would keep it simple.

But, before I forget! I gave the space a little bit of a makeover yesterday while I was (literally) snowed indoors. What do you think? How can this space be more accessible to you, and what improvements would you like to see? I am always up for suggestions and want this blog to grow with me and my readers!

Now, on to the recipe!

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This past fall I discovered that I’m very intolerant to oats. For about half a year I struggled with extreme stomach pain every single day – the kind of stomach pain where real pants = not happening. Unfortunately, real pants needed to happen given that I had a job in a cafe and was working 8-10 hour shifts. Once I finally pinned down that the culprit was oats, and after I was finished sooking about it (morning oatmeal, granola, oatmeal cookies, GONE!?), I knew I needed to find a granola replacement and FAST. Continue reading

Super Light Bourbon-Vanilla (Cottage) Cheesecake

Valentines day is just over a day away – I hope I’m not cutting it too close to share with you this recipe that I just worked out yesterday evening and tested this morning!

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Or maybe, much like myself, you aren’t really “doing” Valentine’s day. I have no foul angst towards the holiday (is it even a holiday? I don’t know), but I’ve never had much reason to get giddy about it either. Anyhow, despite my indifference, I was looking forward this year to making something wonderfully delicious for lovers (or just food lovers, holler!) and it’s pretty cute, to boot.

I don’t know about you, but cheesecake is kind of my weakness. Maybe you’ve gotten the hint, as I’ve used goat cheese in a couple different frostings. I’m a sucker for a sweet that has a hefty dose of tang, too. The thing with cheesecake, though, is it seems that you’re merely a few bites in and feeling as though you swallowed an elephant (no? just me?). You keep eating though, because, HELLO! it’s cheesecake and it’s flippin’ delicious – but, you pay for it later.

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You get my point. But what if you could have LEGIT cheesecake, eat a whole damn slice (or cake) and feel light as a feather? Or what if you could eat that very same cheesecake the morning following Valentines day, FOR BREAKFAST… and feel NO remorse? Continue reading

Brown-Butter Banana Muffins, 3 ways + frosting!

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Perhaps if you follow me on instagram  you may have noticed that I have been doing more cake baking lately. While I really enjoy making cakes and working my creativity muscles in the frosting department, I can’t forget about the simple but heartwarming recipes that brought me here.

I’ve been hoarding over-ripe bananas in my freezer for what feels like forever, so I put them to good use this past weekend whilst snowed in, in between Friends episodes. Instead of just making one kind, I decided to challenge myself a bit and divide a recipe into three to make BANANA MUFFINS/CUPCAKES 3 WAYS, including 3 awesome frostings to dollop on top. Of course, these are muffins, so if you wish to fore-go the frosting, they will still be good. But, we all know that buttercream makes everything better, yes?

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balance | rosemary vanilla mini cakes with vanilla mascarpone frosting

After the bust that was the storm on Saturday, Mother Nature came back around and proved herself powerful and dumped a ton of ice and snow on us the last couple of nights; I woke up this morning to being completely snowed in. Thankfully a family friend came along and plowed us out, not without getting his truck stuck on our side hill. All of this time stuck indoors while Mother Nature does her thing has forced me to be productive, while I avoid going stir-crazy. Among the chores I did and the countless episodes of Friends I watched, I also came up with a recipe that I am excited to share with you in the coming week. It even involved using a calculator (what) – but don’t worry, you won’t need to!!

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It may surprise you to know that I’m not much of a sweet tooth, which makes approximately zero sense given the nature of this food blog. I love to bake, the artistic nature and the science of it, but I prefer savoury dishes with good balance. Balance is really important to me in all aspects of my life – it’s the way my brain works, and I feel that I am easily set off-kilter if I ignore my need for balance. My idea of a good meal is one that includes carbs, protein, fat and veggies, has a variety of colours, and is balanced in taste; sweet, salty, sour, bitter, earthy. When I am planning my meals, I take into account all of these aspects; it has become second nature to me now, and often times I don’t realize that I’m doing it until somebody points it out. How do you plan your meals? Continue reading

orange cake with marzipan layer and vanilla bean buttercream frosting

Sticking with things hasn’t always been my strong suit. Generally, my interests were always arts-related and I tried various things in that category – trying to “figure it all out”, as we all do. More often than not, I would become frustrated with myself if I didn’t excel quick enough and would give up all together. The only thing that is more irritating than not excelling at something you enjoy, is having a long list of things you “quit”. I cannot stand that word – quit. It has always been a word that weighed down on my shoulders, hovering over me the second that I became skeptical over a new activity I’d chosen. I think I had actually become guilt-ridden because I hadn’t found something that I was passionate about that I could stick to, and I don’t think that I’m the only one who has ever felt this way.

Looking back over the past year, though many things stand out, what I find truly fascinating is how patient you can be when you’re involved in the things that you truly love, and are happy as a whole. Something I’m constantly asked is how I can bake all day long and then happily cook supper that night. I think that when you really love something, the hours you put in are not only effortless, but exciting. And when the time comes to leave the kitchen that day, throughout the night I ponder new flavours and ideas for inspiration the next day.

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So here we are, the end of the first month of 2015. How are you doing? This month is known as “the Monday of months”, and maybe it’s a causation of what I was talking about above. We set these “resolutions” and end up expecting so much change (too much) in ourselves in one month, and when we stray off course, we get frustrated and give up. Here’s my proposal: take each day for the day that it is and how you feel in each moment. Address the things that aren’t serving you in a positive way, do what you can today to make a small change. Goals are great, but if we constantly have our eyes looking straight up, we’re going to trip a time or two.

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If this month has indeed felt like the Monday of months for you, I’ve got a little something that will surely brighten up your kitchen, no matter how grey and snowy (currently ice-laden here, woo!) it is outdoors. Continue reading

our favorite meal of the month | Asian noodle stir fry

Just a quick little check in today, sharing with you our favorite meal of the month.
*Maybe this could be a reoccurring thing for 2015? Favorite meal of the month? FMOM? Let me know what you think!

Since the beginning of 2015, I made it a quiet resolution of mine to experiment with new flavours, foreign dishes, and trying to make said dishes as authentic as I can in my own kitchen. Experimentation and new flavours really is what drives me in my kitchen, otherwise I’d probably throw in the towel and eat a soft poached egg on toast every day. For me, one of the new ingredients I introduced was miso. Albeit, I hear that western versions of miso are pretty sad in comparison to the real thing, but for now, I’m satisfied.

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Miso is a really strong flavor, and a little goes a long way. You may need to track it down at a local health food store, or an Asian market if you have one, but it is pretty inexpensive and it will last. First I used it in making my very own ramen noodle soup, which I hope to perfect in the coming year, but our favorite use was this honey-miso noodle stir fry that I’m about to share with you.

I’ve used the sauce for a ton of things, even just as a glaze for pan-roasted brussle sprouts and carrots (SO MUCH YUM), so if you take nothing else from this recipe, just take the sauce.

As I’ve mentioned before, I *never* follow a recipe when cooking savory dishes. Consider this recipe more as a guideline, substituting as need be – however, I strongly recommend using sesame oil in the sauce, as it really takes the Asian flavour to its full potential.

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pairings | carrot cake with goat cheese frosting

I’m sitting here, my eyes getting heavier in the dim light. As an early riser, the after-dinner hours are typically my low-energy period where I sit, reflect, or browse various media to find inspiration. Sometimes it takes quite a bit to light a fire under my feet, other times I am inspired by the way the light comes into the dining room.

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My life is quiet. I wake up anywhere between 5am and 6am; many mornings the stars are still visible as I sip at my coffee (read: apparently i actually drink my coffee pretty quick, so maybe *guzzle* is a better term?). Most days I have a house to myself as I putter in the kitchen, chopping, mixing, kneading, sauteing. For many people, the bedroom is their peaceful place, where they go to escape. The kitchen is mine; I find my mind wandering elsewhere as I chop, mix, knead, saute. Yet at times, my mind is quiet and clear – free of worry.

I have also found a deep connection with my yoga mat; finally, after a few years of home practice, I am comfortable to be there without direction. I move as my body wishes, breathing fresh air into the places it asks. I really am thrilled by what simple, small movement can do for me as a person. I have never been so at ease, so comfortable, aware.

I have been playing with some new flavors in my kitchen, lately. New flavors paired with trusting, familiar flavors. It can make something old and worn out new and fresh again, reminding you of why it became old and worn out in the first place. The best things always are. Continue reading