Arugula Walnut Pesto

I’ve been finding myself eating a lot of pesto lately, mainly because I love my food processor, but also because it’s super easy to make and play around with the ingredients. That’s a pretty big plus because traditional pesto calls for pine nuts, and I’m not sure how many people buy pine nuts on a regular basis, but they are SO expensive! I like to buy few once in a while but I can’t see buying cups of them just to live in the shadows of basil.

Walnuts are relatively cheaper, I think they’re super tasty, and they have a pretty distinct flavour. You could toast them for a bit before you throw them into this and I’m sure it would give you a really different pesto-experience, but I was lazy and just popped them in the food processor.

But hey, how exciting is arugula? It’s like lettuce, but way better. Actually I take that back – it’s not a lettuce at all. First of all, it’s so much better than lettuce – but I think it’s a member of the mustard green family which may explain why it has that amazing peppery taste. It’s also super duper versatile. I’m not even lying, there’s a reason it’s a superfood (besides the fact that it’s a cancer fighting food!!!). You can make salads, you can saute it, roast it, mix it with grains, substitute spinach with it in pretty much anything, sandwiches, make pesto (duh), and I won’t lie, my all time favourite way to use it is putting it on pizza. If you have not tried this, you need to. I know this has nothing to do with pesto, but this has suddenly become important. Next time you make pizza, you make it with tomato sauce, cheese, your veggie toppings and prosciutto, and then when you take that baby out of the oven you top it with fresh arugula and balsamic. Every other pizza will seem inferior after you try it, trust me.

So anyways, getting back on track – my other favourite way to use arugula is definitely this pesto. The arugula adds a great peppery-ness to it, and the walnuts compliment it really nicely. And no surprises, I add lots of lemon. I bet you saw that coming though because you are all so amazing and read through all my blabber, which means you’ve probably read my pistachio mint pesto recipe where I confessed my undying love for lemon. Like any pesto, you can play with the flavours. Add more garlic or cheese, more or less lemon, omit the cheese completely if you’re vegan (or sub with vegan parm), and add more or less oil to get the consistency that you like – this is your pesto after all!

And as I’ve talked about before, pesto is so versatile, you can put it on ANYTHING. It’s also a wonderful sauce to keep on hand in your freezer. On Friday we ate this plain on bread with some cheese and wine. When I got home, I spread it on puff pastry with some cheese and baked it into pinwheels. I took the leftovers (this makes a good size batch!) and have it in the freezer stored next to my other pestos for quick use! What a superhero sauce!

Remember – pesto is the besto!

Arugula Walnut Pesto

  • 84 g. fresh basil
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh arugula
  • 1 cup walnuts (toasted or non toasted)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon to whole lemon (depending on your taste)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (to taste)
  • Cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • Olive oil (or avocado oil/water) to blend to consistency

Add basil, arugula, walnuts, cheese, lemon zest and juice, garlic and pepper to blender or food processor (again, you can play with the ratios to your own taste and preference, I love the lemon taste with the arugula but have fun with it)and blend together until it becomes a fine, paste like mixture.

While still blending, drizzle in oil (or oil alternative) through the spout of your food processor until everything is finely blended and you have your desired consistency. I like it heavier and thicker for pasta and spreading, and thinner for dressings or to drizzle! Keep leftovers stored in freezer* for quick use!

*freeze in ice cube trays then store in ziploc bags for quick, single sized cubes of pesto*

Saluti!

Tzatziki

Y’all know I lovveee lemon. So naturally when I make Tzatziki it’s going to be full of lemony love and LOTS of dill. This is honestly one of my favourite dips/condiments, it’s so creamy and refreshing. I think it’s delicious on everything. I also like to think it’s healthy because it has cucumber and lemon in it. When you think of it like that you won’t feel as guilty for just smothering everything in it. Tzatziki is NOT just for Greek food!

I didn’t have pita bread when I made this last week, but I was HARSH craving it. I ended up eating it for the next 3 days – which is perfect beccauuuusee *drum roll* this stuff tastes better the next day! Is this the perfect make ahead appetizer or condiment? Umm..heck yeah! I mean it is amazing fresh, but the next day when the lemon and the dill and the garlic have had time to mingle and get cozy – maybe exchange phone numbers and have a movie night – then it tastes reallllyyy fantastic! Whenever I make this for friends and family there is always someone who asks for the recipe. Which I’m always happy to give because this stuff is way better than store bought.

Anyways, so yeah, I ended up eating this on some baguette and I had some cucumber slices (leftover from making this), roasted mushrooms and tomatoes to dip into it. A couple days later when I ran out of bread I just dipped slices of cheese in it (I regret nothing). Like I said, it’s a perfect make ahead dish, so you don’t have to be afraid of letting it sit in the fridge. It’s also wonderful because you can make this to taste. I like a lot of lemon and dill, but you can add less or more if you like! The only thing to keep in mind is that the more lemon juice you add, the runnier your Tzatziki will be.

Before the angry squeezing, grate it into paper towel or dishtowel

SQUEEZE YOUR CUCUMBER LIKE YOU’RE MAD AT IT. I’m serious. If you don’t squeeze all the juice out of it, you’re gonna have a bad time. Why are you mad at it? I don’t know, maybe it disappointed you, maybe it gave you the stink eye, maybe it disrespected your mother, just make something up or use it as an opportunity to release some bottled up frustration. I find the easiest way to do it is to fold 3 or 4 paper towels up and squeeze it over the sink. The paper towel will rip a bit, so just make sure the cucumber doesn’t fall out the bottom. Another easy way to do this is to use a clean dishtowel and just throw it in the wash after.

If you want to keep it classic, serve this with Pita Bread (click here for my recipe) You can also make this vegan simply by using your favourite plain vegan yogurt!

Whatever you serve it with, I promise that it will be a HUGE HIT!

Tzatziki

  • 500 grams plain Greek yogurt (the small container)
  • 3/4 cup grated cucumber (liquid squeezed and drained)
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp. dill (or to your taste)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon -1 lemon (depending how lemony you like it)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (to your taste; tip: instead of chopping your garlic – grate it on your rasp grater/zester)
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Start by grating and draining your cucumber. To do this, grate your cucumber on a cheese grater onto folded paper towel (3-4 sheets) or a clean dishtowel. Squeeze over sink until there’s barely any liquid being squeezed out.

In a large bowl combine yogurt, drained cucumber, lemon zest, dill, lemon juice, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Stir well. Leave in fridge overnight, or until you’re ready to serve. Garnish with dill or a drizzle of olive oil.

Note: the seasonings are to taste. The more lemon juice you add in, the runnier your dip will be, start by adding the juice of half the lemon, taste it, and then add more if you want. You can always add more in, but you can’t take it out!

Saluti!

Irish Guinness Soda Bread with Cheddar

So I’ve come to understand that the backbone of a lot of traditional Irish dishes basically begins and ends with potatoes, which I’m 100% on board with, I think it’s fantastic. I also happen to love Whisky. I mean, I know they eat a lot of beef and mutton, which really isn’t up my alley, so I guess my idea of a great Irish dining experience would be a lot of potatoes and Whisky…oh and lots of bread.

Irish Soda Bread uses baking soda instead of yeast to help the bread rise, which is great if you’re intimidated by the idea of making yeast breads or maybe just don’t have the time for all that resting and kneading and wondering if your yeast even survived. Or maybe you just want something a little different. Traditionally it’s made with buttermilk, dried fruit and nuts, but I made it PG19+ and used Guinness and added double smoked cheddar cheese…because beer and cheese sounds so much better than trail mix. And using Guinness makes it double Irish, right?

This bread is quite dense and thick, the crumble and texture makes me think of a hybrid somewhere between bread and biscuit, which is pretty neat. It has a slightly Guinness-y flavour to it, and a bit of a smoky flavour from the cheddar. I’m sure this bread would still be great without cheese if you don’t have any on hand, but you can’t really go wrong with putting cheese on anything, so just put it in, I know you want to. Not to mention the little crispy bits of cheese around the edge are delish. It’s a little chewy, a little crunchy, and very hearty. We ate slices of it with more cheese on the top, because that’s how we roll, but it’d be equally as delicious toasted or dipped into soup or stew! And I kind of really like the colour of it – it just looks really deep and hearty, you know what I’m saying or am I just crazy?

The dough will be a little wetter than a normal bread dough, but that’s okay because you’ll be kneading a bit of flour into it anyways, and it doesn’t have to be a perfect shape, all bread is beautiful. I tried to do a rectangularish shape, and even though the dough was wet, it still held it’s shape really well and baked into a pretty cool lookin’ loaf! Anyways, this bread is quick and easy, tastes delicious, and is topped with ooey gooey cheese so there’s no wrong time to have this. Oh and hey BONUS – the amount of beer used is less than a full can of Guinness, so you have a little treat while you finish making this!

Irish Guinness Soda Bread with Cheddar

Makes 1 really decent – too much for two people for one sitting – sized loaf.

  • 4 cups AP flour, plus a bit extra for kneading (maybe up to a 1/2 cup or so and a sprinkle for the top)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 3/4 cup Guinness stout
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated smoked cheddar (or whatever cheddar you like!) plus a bit more for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 fht.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil or a silicone baking mat.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add in the cubes of butter and cut into flour mixture until you have a fine crumble.

Butter should be well combined into flour mixture to make a crumble

In a separate bowl, mix the Guinness and egg.  Slowly pour the beer and egg mixture into the flour and combine until just mixed. No “knead” to overmix here because you’ll be kneading in a second.

Pour the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it a few times, adding up to an additional half cup of flour to get the dough firm enough to mold. Make a well in the centre of the dough and knead in cheese (pictured in main text)  Place the loaf on the pan and lightly cut an X or two slits lightly into the top of the bread. Top with a sprinkle of flour and a sprinkle of cheese (no measurement for the cheese, just enough until you think “oh yea, that’s gonna be good”)

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown.  Tapping the bottom of the loaf should make a hollow sound.

Cool bread…or don’t (warm bread is AMAZING)…slice and enjoy!

Saluti!

Olive Stuffed Jalapenos (Vegan)

My snowy week away with friends and family is over, and we have only a few weeks until our next snowy ski/boarding trip with my aunt and uncle, which means that Gord will once again be busting out fantastic vegan recipes. I’ve never been so full in my life as I was staying at their house. When we weren’t shredding up on the mountain, we were swimming in a sea of olive oil, hummus and wine (no complaints here). I realized I had forgot to post these though, and I did promise Gord that I would.

I was skeptical of these at first. I normally make stuffed jalapenos with cream cheese and cheddar, then wrapped in bacon and baked…butttt…that ain’t vegan. The nice thing about these though, unlike the incredibly non-vegan ones, is that these are really good cold! Actually, I found they were better once they had been sitting in the fridge for a bit and had time to chill, you know how I like to let flavours mingle. And they’re only 4 ingredients (plus a glass of wine or corona) so they’re really easy to make. They’re refreshing, crisp, and you can make them as spicy or as mild as you like.

Now if you don’t like olives, this definitely is not the snack for you, so you should probably just move along, because the stuffing is literally just chopped olives. We’re an olive family though, everything from appetizer platters, pasta, deep fried olives or martinis – olives normally make an appearance in our dinners.

The only thing I may have changed (sorry uncle Gord, you can correct me if I’m wrong about any of this) is that I would’ve maybe baked the jalapenos a bit longer to get them a bit softer. With that in mind, I do get why it’s good to keep the jalapenos a bit crunchy, it’s a nice texture contrast to the soft, chopped olives. I also think that I put way to much oil on the jalapenos, so I actually ended up patting them down with paper towel before putting them in the oven, so it may be something to be cognizant of. Anyways, we ate these with mexican food, and they were a really good compliment, which is no surprise since it’s lime and jalapenos! Oh oh oh, but I was thinking…how good would these be with garlic stuffed olives? You can experiment with the olives here, how fun!

I made these really mild, I took all the seeds and the ribs out of the jalapenos, but if you like it spicy – leave some in! Remember to wear gloves when you’re working with these, especially cleaning out the jalapenos…if you don’t…you’re gonna have a bad time. You can wash your hands all you like right afterwards, but it’s still gonna sting if you touch your eye or basically just any part of your body. Have you ever done that? I have, and if you have too then I’m sure you’ll never do it again. If you really dislike someone though, then feel free to do this bare handed and then touch them. Otherwise, just wear some gloves. Even disposable dish washing gloves will do. Safety first people! Gord, if I’m missing anything else in my blabber, do tell! Oh, also these can be left in the fridge for a few days afterwards, and the leftovers are just as delicious – bonnnuuuusss!! The longest part of making these is waiting for your beer to chill all the way through!

How cute are these though?

Olive Stuffed Jalapenos (Vegan)

  • 12 jalepenos, halved and de-seeded
  • 2 cups green stuffed olives
  • 24 slices lime (about 3-4 limes, depending on size)
  • A couple tbsp. grapeseed oil or olive oil

Preheat the oven to 250 fht. (Thank you for the correction, uncle Gord!)

With disposable gloves on, slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise, leaving the stems on.

Use a serrated grapefruit spoon or a spoon and a knife to cut out the ribs and the seeds from the jalapeno. If you like it a bit spicy, leave a few of the seeds in, but not too many. Make sure you really clean them out!

Brush each jalapeno half with grapeseed or olive oil. Put in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes or until the jalapenos soften up..think of them like al dente jalapenos (or a bit softer, to your preference)!

Meanwhile, put the olives in the food processor (or one of the fun handheld choppers) and process until the olives are finely chopped.

Once the jalapenos are baked and cooled, stuff each half with the chopped olives.

To garnish, peel the limes (important so you can and slice into small wedges to fit onto the jalapenos. I think it’s easiest to peel the limes with a knife, very carefully.

Place one slice of lime on each jalapeno, and serve cold! Does it get any easier? I think not.

Saluti!

Vegan Naan

Yesterday was SO cold and SO windy up on the mountain I was frozen and tired by the time we got back to the house. When we walked in the smell of indian food instantly warmed us up. I walked in the kitchen and my mom and uncle were fussing over a pot of lentil daal and starting the butter chicken (for the carnivores). Gord passed me a beer and cleared off a space on the counter for me to make this naan, it’s a neccesity with indian food.

I’d actually never thought of this before, but naan isn’t vegan. It’s often made with buttermilk or yogurt. Gord said that sometimes you can find vegan naan, but it’s a bit tricky, so most of the time he eats his indian food with a different kind of flat bread, so I was happy that I could show him how easy vegan naan is to make! I just think that eating indian food with pita bread or a tortilla isn’t the same. It doesn’t soak up the yummy sauces the same way naan does, and it just doesn’t seem fair.

Everyone at the table loved this naan, it was chewy, soft, fluffy, hot and fresh. These can be wrapped up and kept for a couple days OR frozen up to 3 months! Which is great if you have a sudden craving for naan, you can take one out of the freezer and toast it to have fresh, homeade naan at your fingertips.

This recipe itself is very easy, it’s only a few ingredients, most of which you may already have in your kitchen. As easy as this recipe is, it is bread, so it does take some time. Making the actual dough takes 0 time, but it does take 2 hours to rest and then a bit of time to cook them, but honestly…SO worth it! There’s nothing like fresh naan. If you know ahead of time that you need naan, then this is the way to go. You can make the dough earlier in the afternoon, let it rest, and then cook them right before dinner so that they’re hot and fresh when you go to eat, which is what we did. I made the dough at around 4:00 and we ate around 6:30. You could smell the naan throughout the house and it smelled AMAZING.

I used a vegan based coconut milk yogurt, that I just bought at save on foods. Don’t be tricked though – lactose free doesn’t mean vegan. I find the coconut milk based yogurt is best, I love coconut milk, and the yogurt itself doesn’t take super coconutty, but the texture of the yogurt is perfect. If you’re not a vegan, this recipe is still perfect because you can use just regular plain yogurt and it will turn out the same, so this recipe is perfect for eevveerrryoonnnee! Feel free to have some fun with this naan – add in a couple cloves of chopped garlic, some curry powder or some coriander or cilantro! I’m only sad that I wasn’t here to get the lentil daal recipe from my uncle, he made it while I was up snowboarding!

We served our indian food with a bottle of Gewürztraminer and a bottle of dry Riesling from Quails Gate, a local winery here in Kelowna that we popped into on our way up here. The perfect pairing for indian food!

Vegan Naan

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp. active yeast
  • 2 tsp white or organic sugar
  • 4 cups ap or unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp. plain vegan yougurt (So Delicious is what I use) or regular plain yogurt for non-vegans
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil or grapseep oil
  • Garlic, curry, cumin or coriander (optional)

Makes 12 naan

In a medium size bowl, combine warm water, yeast and sugar. Stir abd set aside until mixture becomes foamy, around 10 minutes or so.

While the yeast is activating, in a large bowl combine flour, salt ande baking powder.

Once the yeast mixture is foamy, add yogurt and oil. Stir to combine.

Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Don’t panic the dough will be a bit sticky!

Turn onto a floured surface and add just enough flour to gently knead for 5 turns and form into a loose ball. Place back in mixing bowl and rub with a bit more oil and turn to coat. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, turn the dough out on to a floured surfae, and knead for 30 seconds, adding more four if needed. Divide the dough into 12 balls.

Let the balls rest for 10 minutes.heat. Once the balls are rested, take a piece of dough and lay it on a floured surface. Then roll out into an oval or circle with a rolling pin. Carefully flip over and pat the dough with a bit of water so it doesn’t stick to the pan.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or non stick skilet to medium heat. I sometimes add a pat of oil or vegan butter to the pan, but that’s optional.

Place one your naans in the pan. Cook for 1 minute or until the edges of the dough look dry and it’s beginning to bubble. Flip the dough and cook until the underside is dark brown.

Repeat until all naan is cooked. If you want, brush with melted vegan butter or coconut oil and sprinkle with cilantro and sea salt (optional).

Serve warm and cover leftovers and store at room temperature for about 2 days or in the freezer up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or oven until warmed through. Enjoy with your indian food and a glass of wine!

Saluti!

Vegan Triangle Puffs

Gord originally made these on our ski trip to Manning park last year. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how he made them. So instead of asking him, like a normal person, I brought up Vegan sausages to Kelowna and asked if we could make them, and yayyy we did! We ate these for lunch with our quick vegan pea soup (link attached) and it was perfect. I may have had 1 or 2. Or 3. Fine, I ate 4. They’re vegan so they’re healthy, right? Kidding kidding, this is the comfort food of vegan food, and it’s wonderful. I’ll have to work them off snowboarding tomorrow. We put the leftovers in the fridge and I fully intend on eating more before the day is through. These puffs will please both vegans and the carnivores in your life. They will last in the fridge covered, for around 4 days. They’re delicious cold or hot!

We cheated and used store bought puff pastry, because who the heck makes their own? These are ridiculously easy, everything is put together in the food processor, bzzzzz bzzz bzzzz blended and done! Stuffed into rolled puff pastry and baked until brown and cripsy and flaky! Perfection.

These would be a great appetizer, you can make small, little mini ones for a nice canape! Or you could make them bigger and make them meal sized and served with salad for dinner would be deliissshhhh. If these things were to hit the streets, they would be forgetting about crack. Actually we could clean up Hastings street with these, but I think we’ll keep them for ourselves. Selfish selfish.

As with our soup, wine is necessary, although not in the recipe, still very important. And I think I mentioned this in my vegan pasta sauce recipe, but what’s everyone’s deal with vegan meat? This stuff is delicious and aready has spices so it cuts out the middle man. I prefer these over sausage rolls because as many of you know, meat makes me sick (TMI?) and these are 100% beak and hoof free (unlike a lot of sausage/hot dogs). Also they are not greasy, so the puff pastry stays nice and crisp and flaky. As a sidenote, my uncle Gord is helping me write this post, it’s called teamwork. As a bonus, we didn’t light anything on fire!

Stay tuned for some more vegan recipes this week – I think we have risotto coming tonight – drool – and some stuffed jalapenos – also drool. Anyways, I’m gonna continue sipping my early afternoon wine (I’m on vacation afterall) and maybe eat another one of these babies. I hope you all enjoy these as much as we do!

Vegan Triangle Puffs

  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 package vegan italian sausages (4 sausages)
  • I cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • 5 tbsp. sundried tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil (to blend)
  • 4 sheets puff pastry, thawed

Put onion, sausage, olives and sundried tomatoes in food processor. Double check your olives for pits before you put them in, otherwise it will ruin your food processor and put sharp shards in your mixture! Pulse until everything is blended and finely chopped and mixed well together.

Slowly drizzle oil into food processor until mixture turns into a thick paste like, maleable mixture.

Once mixture is done, take your puff pastry sheet (or roll out yourself so it’s nice and thin, and cut puff pastry into 8 squares (these make nice side dish sizes). If you’re making them for a main dish, only cut them into four, or you can cut the pastry even smaller if you want mini ones.

Put about 1 tbsp. of filling in middle of puff pastry. Take some water and wet the edges of puff pastry slightly. Fold the top corner of the pastry over and crimp with a fork.

Place triangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (hey did you know that the parchment that comes in the sheets of puff pastry can be used to bake on? Save having to use your own).

Bake at 375 fht. for 15-25 minutes, or until golden brown on the top. Just keep an eye on them!

Serve hot, warm or cold with mustard.

Saluti!

Quick Vegan Pea Soup

I’m in Kelowna, visiting family for the week, doing lots of snowboarding and snow sports – my favourite! My uncle is a vegan, so you know there’s going to be LOTS of amazing vegan food happenin’ this week, so stay tuned! Gord is so excited to cook together this week, and I am too! We always have such a blast in the kitchen together.

He told me that this soup is the easiest and quickest thing you can make, and he wasn’t lying. This pea soup is vegan and gluten free, not to mention it’s only 5 ingredients…including salt and pepper. So there’s no excuse to not make this. You can make as little or as much of this soup as you want because all you have to do is cover the peas with about an extra 1/4 inch of boiling water, so use as little peas or as many peas as you want!

moments before disaster

This should only take 6 minutes to cook…but umm…yea we had some techinical issues and may have set the immersible blender on fire….there was a pop! and then a puff of smoke….so we tried the masher..plan B…well darn that it didn’t work either, way too much of a work out for me. So plan C….food processor! Actually that should have been plan B but we’re people that like to use our hands. So we rolled out at almost 12 minutes, but honestly that’s still ridiculously quick, I can’t even make Kraft dinner that quickly. The lemon juice adds a really nice brightness to the peas, and you can see the colour is AMAZING. FYI, 3/4 of a cup of peas (110 g) is only 70 calories, has 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 5% of your daily carbs, 20% of your daily fibre and 5 grams of protein and it’s 10% of your daily iron! Which is good because it offsets the puff pastry bundles that we ate it with. It’s called balance okay.

We ate this as our lunch with vegan triangle puffs (which I’ll upload a little later) and it was the perfect hot lunch on a cold winters day in Kelowna, and bonus we got to watch the snow fall outside. Also served best with a big glass of red wine, because it’s noon and that’s okay. Cabernet Sauvignon is not just for breakfast anymore.

Quick Vegan Pea Soup

  • 750 Grams Green Peas
  • Boiling water
  • 2 ounces lemon juice (to taste)
  • Kosher Salt & Cracked Black Peppercorn (to taste)

Put peas in large dutch oven. Cover them with boiling water with about 1/4 inch above the pease.

Let come to a boil. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Blend with submersible (hopefully yours doesn’t catch on fire) or food processor as your backup or blender until smooth.

That’s it!

Saluti!

Lavender Cookies (London Fog Glaze)

Soap, detergent, pot pourri, perfume, healing remedy and now…cookies? Oh yeah, the cookie monster would be stoked on this one. Give those chocolate chip cookies a break and swtich it up with these lavender cookies! These are chewy, soft and have a gentle hint of lavender with beautiful purple flakes throughout that will leave any cookie monsters in your life happy!

Okay, so the dirty truth about these is not EVERYONE likes them. Lavender really isn’t a traditional baking flavour. I think a lot of people can’t get past the fact that they’re eating lavender in a cookie and if you use too much of it, your cookies will in fact, taste like soap…I’m speaking from experience. But when you get the perfect amount of lavender, it’s such a delightful unexpected flavour! Not to mention, how gorgeous does the lavender look in these cookies?

See this lavender? It’s dried lavender..obviously. Have you ever seen it in the store? I haven’t, but if you do please let me know! My mom and I both grow lavender (hers is always more full, she must have a secret) so we pick it and dry it ourselves to use, but if you don’t grow and dry your own, then Epicure spices makes a dried lavender! I’ve ordered from them before when we’ve been short on lavender. Although if you haven’t tried growing it you should consider it. It smells great, it’s easy to grow, and you can dry it and make cookies with it…that should pretty much sell you right there (you can make other stuff with it too, but cookies is obviously the most important).

Anyways, these are really gorgeous spring cookies. I’ve made them for baby showers and bridal showers, and have coloured the glaze purple to go with the spring/lavender thing. Honestly, I think the natural colour of the Earl Gray tea in the glaze is beautiful though. My aunt needed a couple dozen cookies for Monday night, and these keep well if they’re sealed in a tin. I had a beautiful, relaxing Saturday morning then I went to my parents to finish packing, and here I am now baking away before I leave for my snowboarding trip! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t taste one…or two. FINE, I ate two….and gave one to my dad. OKAY OKAY I licked the batter off the spoon…get off my back, it’s Saturday night!

So the glaze is definitely optional. It’s my personal preference because I think that london fog and lavender is SUCH a nice, gentle and feminine pairing, but lemon would be really good too in the spring! Drizzle the cookies or dip half of the cookie in the glaze and it’ll add an extra special touch to an extra special cookie! If you’re low on time though, these cookies are delicious without it.

I hope you’re ready to expand your cookie horizons and shake things up, because these cookies are ready to blow your mind away! “Me love cookies…OMNOMNOM”

Lavender Cookies (London Fog Glaze)

1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp dried lavender, finely chopped
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder

  • Preheat oven to 375° Fht.
  • Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract.
  • Stir in lavender, flour and baking powder. Roll half teaspoon-sized amounts onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  • Allow to cool slightly on pan before moving to a cooling rack.
  • Glaze cookies, if desired.

Makes between 2-3 dozen cookies depending how big you make them!

London Fog Glaze

2 earl gray tea bags
1/2 cup milk
1 cup icing sugar

  • Warm milk in microwave or stove. Steep 2 earl gray teabags while cookies are cooling
  • Put icing sugar in large bowl and add milk 1 tbsp at a time until you’ve reached desired consitancy. I like it a little thinner, but if you want it thicker, add less milk. You will most likely not need to use all the milk!!! Remember, add slowly so you don’t add too much! If you did, and it becomes too thin, just add more icing sugar.
  • Drizzle over cookies or dip half of each cookie in glaze.

Saluti!

Pita Bread

Pita bread is in my opinion one of the best vehicles for dips. Nothing against regular bread – because this girl loves all bread, I’m in no way “bread”judice (ba dum ch)- but pita can not only dip into your dip, but you can scoop easier with pita, and get a ton of goodness on it. Personally, my favourite dips are hummus and tzatziki, which yes, is traditional for pita bread, but honestly even without pita they are still my favourite dips. I dip everything in them and often use them as spreads in wraps and as marinades and sometimes will eat hummus with a spoon. I don’t need pita for those dips but the pita is definitely a perk. And really how great is it when you get Greek food, and you get a basket of warm pita bread. Can you even imagine eating Mediterranean without it? I CAN’T.

And really what can’t pita do? Stuff that baby with veggies and sauce and meat, dip and scoop up olives and hummus, roll that thing up into a gyro, use it as utensil to pick up food (as is traditional), or even put pizza toppings on top and bake it – umm hello weekday cheat! It’s honestly no wonder that it’s been a staple of the Middle East for 4,000 years. They were definitely onto something back then, they knew they had somethin’ good goin’ on.

I won’t lie – when I’m in a pinch, and that is a lot as I’m often out and about and busy, I will buy pita bread from the store. I still think the store bought stuff is good if you can find a decent brand. This pita bread though is super duper easy to make and requires pretty minimal effort, the only thing is that it takes a couple hours because there is a bit of a waiting game for the dough to rise. But when I’m making Greek or Mediterranean food for my loved ones, and I have a bit of time to spare, the fresh pita is definitely a must. Nothing adds a pinch of extra love like homemade pita does! Making your own pita bread is definitely a way to impress your loved ones, they’ll be amazed and you can soak up all the “wow, you made pita bread? That’s amazing, you’re so talented and hardworking!”(true story).

They don’t have to know how easy this is, I won’t tell if you don’t!

Pita Bread

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus a pinch to oil the bowl)

Makes about 10 pitas – depending how big or small you make them!

Pour yeast into 1/4 cup of the warm water; add the sugar and let stand for 10 minutes until it foams.

Combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour with the salt into a bowl. Form a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture and remaining 1 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Begin to mix with your hand, wooden spoon, or dough hook (I use a wooden spoon personally), adding remaining flour as needed. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 to 15 minutes (or use the machine and dough hook), until the dough is smooth and soft but not sticky.

Oil a large bowl and place dough in the bowl and turn to coat the entire surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and put the dough in a warm, draft-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until its doubled in size. (here’s the waiting game!)

Preheat oven to 475 fht. Place a heavy baking sheet or baking stone on the lowest rack of the oven.

Roll the dough out, then fold and roll again. Do this a few times to get the air bubbles out of the dough. Divide into balls about 2 1/2 ounces each (approximately 5 tablespoons of dough) and cover with a damp towel.

Roll each ball into a circle on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a thin, full circle. The circles should be about 1/4-inch thick and about 7 inches across – you can make them bigger or smaller to your preference! (p.s. – if they don’t come out as a perfect circle…those are the ones that I call “rustic”)

Let each rolled pita rest while you roll the remaining dough balls.

Sprinkle the hot baking sheet or baking stone lightly with flour. Place a few of the circles on the stone or baking sheet (or as many as will fit comfortably, leave them some room). Bake for about 5 minutes, or until they just begin to show some color, flipping them half-way through.

Remove from the oven and cover with a clean kitchen towel until cooled and ready to chow down! These can also be frozen in ziploc bags!

Saluti!

Cinnamon Bun Pull Apart

Cinnamon Rolls are AMAZING. The best cinnamon roll place is called “Cinnamon Roll Fair” on South Kihei Road in Maui….not Vancouver, sadly. Which is kind of a plus because I would eat there. Every.Single.Day.  Our condo happens to be conveniently located RIGHT NEXT DOOR (coincidence? I think not) to the heavenly gates that lead into Cinnamon Roll Fair, the brief walk into the bakery is guided by the sweet smell of warm, fresh, massive, ooey gooey cinnamon buns and fresh toppings. Forget about the smell of the ocean and Maui breeze, this place is where it’s at. 

Every trip to Maui, our first morning is always spent the same. We get up early, walk across the street to the beach and get some sand in our sandals, then we quickly run next door to Cinnamon Roll Fair to get breakfast before the morning crowd rolls in. These things are massive, this is not an understatement, they are literally the size of a dinner plate. Or at least they feel like they are. We get them topped with fresh pineapple or macadamia nuts (classic Maui!) and we head back to the condo – a warm box of cinnamon buns in hand, the smell oozing out the lid. We open the box and pop a bottle of sparkly and juice – and there you have it – a Shoults tradition – Cinnamon Roll Fair and Mimosa’s on the lanai. A trip to Maui wouldn’t be complete without it. I look forward to them every trip – and we still talk about these cinnamon buns when we’re home. Heck, we even brought them up the other day? “you know what would be good right now? A bun from Cinnamon Roll Fair” (Dad, I know you’re reading this and thinking about them now too). Since this place opens at like 4:00 a.m., my dad and I have been known to sometimes indulge in these before we go scuba diving….because we can burn it off while we dive, right? That’s how it works, okay! 

The point of the story is: I cannot find a cinnamon bun that tastes like that anywhere else. Maybe part of it is the fact that I’m in a tropical paradise – but none the less, every other cinnamon bun seems disappointing. And I can’t make cinnamon rolls to save my life (also not an understatement). Honestly though, I can’t see to figure them out? they’re always dry or thin, I don’t know….maybe my expectations are too high. I mean once you’ve had the best, what’s the point of making anything less, am I right? But I still have cinnamon roll cravings! AHH what do I do! Darn you Cinnamon Roll Fair, whyyy are you so far away!?

*woosh* in fly’s this baby! Helloooo cinnamon roll pull apart! Also known as “land of nod” from Best of Bridge. These overnight life savers are FANTASTIC. They’re easy, quick, smell AMAZING, they’re ooey-gooey and different enough from an actual cinnamon roll that I’m not left disappointed. And did I mention MAKE-AHEAD. Oh yea, prep these the night before by putting everything in your bundt pan, cover them with a towel, leave for overnight, throw this baby in the oven in the morning, turn the coffee or tea on, head back to bed, and wake up to your house smelling like cinnamon and everything that hopes and dreams are made of. 

Ooey Goeey Cinnamon Bun Pull Apart 

To make these extra indulgent, cover them with cream cheese icing or nuts! If there’s leftovers (hah, yeah right) then heat yourself up a slice or a pull in the microwave to re-live the experience. You will not regret these. Oh, and the other best part – it’s made with frozen dough (yay for cheats!) so you know the dough is going to turn out, and it really can’t be any easier. These are PERFECT FOR SHARING. If you’re into that sort of thing. 

Alright, well I’ve blabbed on enough about cinnamon rolls and such, so I’ll stop talking…and hopefully you’ll get to making these! Breakfast, brunch, dinner (yes you read that right) or dessert – there is no wrong time to eat this! 

Cinnamon Bun Pull Apart

  • 20 unbaked frozen dinner rolls (I find these in the frozen section with the pie crust and pastry)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup instant butterscotch or caramel pudding mix (or vanilla, to keep it classic if you like)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • Sprinkle of walnuts (optional)

Lightly grease a 10 inch Bundt cake pan. Place frozen rolls into pan and sprinkle with brown sugar, pudding mix, ground cinnamon and raisins. Pour melted butter over rolls. Cover with a clean, damp cloth and leave overnight at room temperature.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350 fht. Bake rolls for 25 minutes, until golden brown, while you make your tea or coffee, and go back to bed and relax. When buns are ready, flip rolls out onto a plate and serve warm. heat leftovers in the microwave to experience the same amazement.  See, easy peasy!  

Saluti!