Perfect Summer Cocktail: Aperol Spritz

Gin and tonics have been my jam for the longest time. However, I recently discovered the Italian cocktail, Aperol Spritz. I'm a sucker for any cocktail that involves sparkling wine so it's no surprise that I fell in love with this one. It's the perfect refreshing cocktail for summer and it doesn't leave that boozy taste in your mouth afterwards. It's literally sunshine in a glass. Chin chin! 

Aperol Spritz 

Aperol Spritz 

Out of Office 

Out of Office 

Ingredients (per cocktail): 

  • Scoop of ice
  • Slice of orange 
  • 3 ounces of Prosecco
  • 1 1/4 ounces of Aperol 
  • Splash of soda water 

Directions: 

  1. Place ice and orange slice in large glass
  2. Pour the Prosecco
  3. Pour the Aperol
  4. Pour a splash of soda water
  5. Enjoy!
Aperol poolside 

Aperol poolside 

Weekend Lunch: Lobster Cobb Salad

 This warm weather has inspired me to make a spin on the classic cobb salad recipe featuring one of my favourite ingredients…lobster! Lobster always reminds me of Summer and relaxing outside so I thought it would make the perfect weekend lunch. 
 
Cobb salad is the kind of salad that you can order at a restaurant and you will actually be full and satisfied. It is packed with lots of delicious ingredients like avocado, bacon, egg, tomatoes etc. I paired the fresh lobster salad with homemade unsweetened lemon iced tea. A perfect meal to devour in-between jumping in the pool and lying in the sun. 

Lobster Cobb Salad

Lobster Cobb Salad

Marthas Vineyard 

Marthas Vineyard 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of lobster (you can buy lobster meat at Loblaws)
  • 5 tablespoons of peaches and cream kernel corn (about half a normal sized can)
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • A dash of salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce
  • 1 head of frisee lettuce 

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of Worchester sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of shallots, finely chopped 

Directions:

  1. Once all the toppings are prepped, place the lettuce in a large long bowl
  2. Line all the toppings on top of the lettuce in a row and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Pour dressing on top
  4. Enjoy!
Lobster Cobb Salad

Lobster Cobb Salad

Sweet Summer

Sweet Summer

Amazing Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

On Sunday, I noticed how many bananas my parents were hoarding so naturally, I decided to bake! It was raining so I made myself some tea and whipped up this incredible chocolate chunk banana bread with ingredients I found in their pantry. This is the perfect recipe to bring to the office, give to your grandma as a sweet gesture or just go to town and eat it all yourself. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees 
  2. Lightly grease a loaf pan (I divided the batter into three mini loaf pans)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon 
  4. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar
  5. Stir the bananas, eggs and chocolate chunks into the bowl with butter and sugar
  6. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until combined
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan
  8. Bake for 60-65 minutes
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack  

Mother's Day Picnic

For Mother's Day this year, I ventured to my favourite shops in Oakville to create a beautiful and delicious picnic. I bought local cheeses at The Farmhouse Artisan Cheese Shop, smoked salmon and other goodies from Whole Foods and Serpolet Rosé. It was a perfect spring celebration for my amazing mum! 

I made this simple and fresh dish: Radish, Goat Cheese and Arugula Toast 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bunch of washed radish bunches, sliced very thinly
  • Fresh baguette, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of goat cheese
  • A handful of arugula 

Directions:

  1. Spread goat cheese on the bread and top with radishes and arugula! 
IMG_4167.jpg

Japanese Avocado Toast

I love avocado toast more than the next person, but sometimes even a classic recipe (avocado + chili flakes + maldon flakes) needs to be switched up. This recipe is perfect for a lazy Sunday with a matcha latte. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 1 avocado, cut into slivers 
  • 1 packet of original seaweed 
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • Handful of fresh spinach 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Directions:

  1. Place the sliced pieces of baguette in the oven at 350 F and toast until lightly brown
  2. Top the baguette with spinach, avocado slices, sesame seeds, salt and sesame oil 

Best Restaurants for Dates in Downtown Toronto

Finding the right restaurant for date night can be difficult. Depending on the stage of your relationship, budget and food preferences, you can be easily be overwhelmed by choice - and it suddenly it feels like there aren't any options. The success of your date can be largely tied to your restaurant experience. I've listed some of my recommendations below to ensure your next date goes off without a hitch.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

A TASTE OF EUROPE: CLUNY

Located within a historic building, this modern French restaurant nails all the details in design and cuisine. This restaurant is perfect for after a romantic stroll around the distillery district. My personal favourites are the steak frites (dinner), crab salad (for brunch) and les premiers mots (cocktail). Check it out for a great brunch or mid-week dinner. 

ON A SCHEDULE: MIKU

While most people wouldn't think of Miku as their first spot for a date night, I think it's a great restaurant for the couple limited on time or as a lunch date. The sushi is seriously out of this world. My go-to order is the "premium sushi lunch", which features twelve pieces of nigiri, oshi and sushi rolls. 

CASUAL BUT INTIMATE: CAMPECHANO

This is one of my new favourite restaurants. It's great for a casual, yet intimate dinner - perfect for the relaxed couple. Definitely try the margarita, signature campechano taco and chicken taco.  

TRENDY AND CUTE: WISH

Visit Wish after roaming Yorkville. The interior looks straight out of Pinterest and the food is comforting but refined. A side of crispy, fried brussels sprouts are a must with any main dish. 

HIP AND FUN: WVRST

Head to Wvrst for pints and gourmet sausages. This is the perfect spot for any couple looking for somewhere fun but relaxed on any day of the week. Nothing says romance like indoor twinkle lights and sharing a plate of their famous duck fat fries.

LIVELY BUT SIMPLE: GUSTO 101

Dollar an ounce wine - enough said, right? I love this place for their simple but delicious food. My favourites include the bruschetta, kale salad and, well... any pizza. Great for a fun dinner in the city without the pretentiousness of so many other popular restaurants.

CELEBRATIng: GEORGE

This award winning restaurant is the spot to celebrate a big moment with someone special. It isn't cheap, but it will certainly be one to remember. George offers an ideal mix of fresh ingredients, impeccable service and mouth-watering wine. 

Source: Pinterest 

Source: Pinterest 

Life-Changing Tomato Soup and Crusty Bread

About a month ago, we were in the car and I came across a Facebook post from Chapters in Etobicoke announcing a closing sale. There are few stores I love more than Chapters so we had to stop on the way home. I managed to snag a few greeting cards and two cookbooks at serious discounts. One of the cookbooks has turned into a go-to resource in our kitchen - Sarabeth's Good Morning Cookbook: Breakfast, Brunch, and Baking. Sarabeth's has several restaurants across New York and is famous for their comfort food and brunch classics. I decided to make her velvety tomato soup after Cam was raving about how fantastic it is (he's tried the real deal). With a few modifications, I've listed the recipe for the soup and a crusty bread below. Perfect for anytime of the year! Makes 10-12 servings.

Ingredients for Soup:

  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, chopped 
  • 2 medium shallots, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 x 28oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 8 cups of half and half 
  • 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Maldon salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup of fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 cup of white cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions for Soup:

  1. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium heat
  2. Add the onion, scallions and shallots and cook until translucent 
  3. Add the tomatoes and half and half in the pot. Crush some of the tomatoes with a wooden spoon
  4. In a seperate saucepan, melt the remaining four tablespoons of butter over low heat. Gradually, whisk in the flour to make a roux. Whisk constantly for about three minutes. Slowly, pour the roux mixture into the pot
  5. Reduce the pot's temperature to low and simmer for 35 minutes to blend and thicken
  6. Add the dill, salt and pepper
  7. Serve hot and top with shredded cheddar cheese 

Ingredients for Crusty Bread:

  • 1.5 tablespoons of instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoon of salt
  • 6 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon of rosemary

Directions for Crusty Bread:

  1. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups of warm water, yeast and salt. Stir in flour until there are no dry spots. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let sit for two hours 
  2. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with a parchment paper and let sit for 40 minutes. Top with one tablespoon of sea salt and rosemary (can make two circles of dough if you want a smaller loaf). Slash the top of the bread with a serrated knife three times
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  4. Place a baking sheet at the bottom of the oven with half a cup of water in it
  5. Place the baking sheet with the dough on the top shelf of the oven
  6. Bake for 28-30 minutes and let cool

Easy Baked Empanadas

Now that I am training for my new job in Etobicoke, the Cheese Boutique is an easy stop on my way home. We love their empanadas, but they come with a hefty price tag. This past Saturday, while the cold kept us inside, I fired up the oven to meal prep and take a chance on some empanadas. They were a hit! We enjoyed them with salsa and guac, but they're probably delicious with any sort of saucy goodness. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 1 cup of fine-chopped onion
  • 2.5 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • Sprinkle of salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons of hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of sliced green olives
  • 3/4 cup of green bell pepper, chopped 
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup very warm water
  • 1 egg, mixed 

Directions for Dough:

  1. Melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in a saucepan
  2. Combine a teaspoon of salt and warm water to the pan
  3. Place the flour in a food processor and mix in half of the liquid from the saucepan
  4. Stop machine and mix in remaining half 
  5. Place the dough on a floured surface
  6. Knead into a thin disk 
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least a half hour 
  8. Take out and cut into 6-inch circles (I used a bowl to trace)

Directions for Filling: 

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a skillet. Add the onion and green pepper and saute 
  2. Add beef and cook until lightly browned
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste
  4. Add the cumin, paprika and hot sauce
  5. Set aside and preheat oven to 400 degrees
  6. Place some meat mixture on half of each circle. Sprinkle the olives and parsley 
  7. Place some eggwash around the border of the dough and fold in half. Use a fork to seal tight
  8. Arrange empanadas on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip over and bake for another 5 minutes 

Wine 101: Stomping on Wine Myths

Do you find yourself following wine "rules" that you don't truly understand? For example, have you ever stopped someone at your dinner table for pairing a red wine with fish or a white with steak? Wine can be complex and pretentious, so when many people don't know the details, no one questions the rules. Below, I've outlined some of the most common wine "rules", the logic behind them and if you should follow them.

Need Supply Co.

Need Supply Co.

Red Wine with Red Meat; White Wine with Fish

Great pairings mirror or contrast flavours in the food. Sweetness and umami can make wines taste harder, while salt and acid can make them taste softer. However, since everyone has different tastes and sensitivities to these flavours, there are no universally good pairings.

The complexity of some red wines can make them difficult to pair, but the salt in meat dishes can soften the tannins and overall impact of the wine while enhancing the flavour of the meat. If you want to pair a red with fish, you'll want the dish to be salty and acidic to avoid the wine tasting too bitter and pungent. On the other hand, white wines are often lighter, more fruity and sweeter so will generally pair well with dishes higher in umami, like fish. 

Following this rule may avoid disasters, but there is no reason not to drink white wine with red meat or red wine with fish if the elements match. If you feel like breaking the rules - consider a Champagne with red meat and a Pinot Noir or Cab Franc with fish.

Need Supply Co.

Need Supply Co.

Red Wine Should be Served at Room Temperature

I'm sure you've heard people at the dinner table say that red wine should never be chilled. In reality, the best temperature to serve a red wine depends on the type. Medium to full-bodied wines like an Australian Shiraz, Barolo or Rioja should be served at room temperature. Light-bodied wines like a Beaujolais, Pinot Noir or Gamay should be slightly chilled at 13° C.

Need Supply Co.

Need Supply Co.

Wine Tastes Better When You Let It Breathe

Some people are religious about letting wine breathe or sniffing the cork once they open a bottle. It's fine to let a wine breathe, but it should be done properly in a decanter or glass. In reality, only about 15-20% of red wines need to breathe prior to drinking. Old wine should not be decanted for very long as the molecules are fragile. Younger wines should be decanted for approximately one to two hours. 

Need Supply Co.

Need Supply Co.

Red Wine is Healthier

Pinot Noir is the healthiest wine to drink because of the number of antioxidants. In general, lower-alcohol wine has fewer calories than higher-alcohol wine. If you're calorie counting, white wine has approximately 140 calories per six-ounce glass, while red wine ranges from about 135-200 calories per glass depending on the alcohol content. Avoid sparkling and dessert wine because of the added sugar.  

Need Supply Co.

Need Supply Co.

The Thicker The Legs, The Better The Wine

The wine's legs are the tears that run down the side of the glass when you swirl the liquid. Legs are not an indicator of quality; they are simply the alcohol evaporating at a faster rate. The legs get pushed down the glass by the increased surface tension. One thing you can comment on is the speed at which the legs move down the glass because slower moving, thicker legs equate to a higher alcohol content. 

Need Supply Co.

Need Supply Co.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Pulled pork is the ultimate crowd-pleaser any day of the week. There is nothing wrong with eating it plain, on a bun or better yet - stuffed in a sweet potato! The sweet potato fills you up faster than any bread would and gives you extra nutritional value. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, B5, B6 and riboflavin. Whether it's game day or just a weeknight dinner, you'll be licking your plate - guaranteed. There isn't an easier recipe out there! Serves 2 to 4 people. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. of pork tenderloin, roast or shoulder
  • 4 cups of root beer 
  • 3 cups of barbecue sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons of green onion, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato 
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil 

Directions:

  1. Make the sweet potato mash ahead of time if you can to save time. Boil a pot of water, throw the sweet potato in and let cook until tender
  2. Once the sweet potato is tender, cut in half, scoop the flesh out of the skin and using an immersion blender, mash the potato flesh while combining the coconut oil into it
  3. Put slow cooker on low and add pork with root beer. Cook on low for 6-8 hours
  4. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a plastic cutting board. Throw out all the liquid in the slow cooker so it's empty
  5. Preheat oven to 375 F
  6. Pull the pork with a fork and throw the meat back into the empty slow cooker
  7. Add the barbecue sauce and combine well
  8. Place the pork into the two sweet potato skins and bake for 15 minutes. Place prepared sweet potato mash in a baking dish to warm as well
  9. Once finished baking, drizzle the potatoes with barbecue sauce and green onion. Serve with sweet potato mash 

Perfect Weeknight Meal: Slow Cooker Chicken Burritos

This is my favourite kind of weeknight dinner. It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and it can last for several meals (even if you're living with a bottomless pit!). This burrito recipe is full of hearty protein, delicious spices and comforting brown rice. Recipe serves two to four people.

Ingredients:

  • Two skinless boneless chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces 
  • 2 cups of salsa (we used the PC Black Label's Chipotle brand)
  • 1 cup of organic chicken stock (you can use vegetable broth instead if you wish)
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 3 tablespoons of pickled jalapenos (optional)
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1 cup of peaches and cream corn
  • 1.5 cups of black beans 
  • 3 tablespoons of green onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of guacamole 
  • 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt 

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients other than green onions, guacamole, yogurt and brown rice in the slow cooker. Combine well and place on low for 6 hours
  2. After six hours, change the setting on your slow cooker to "keep warm" and make your brown rice
  3. Once brown rice is prepared, add it to the slow cooker and combine well 
  4. Serve burritos either on a brown rice wrap with guacamole and yogurt or on a bed of fresh spinach
  5. Top with green onions 

Chimichurri Flank Steak with Pomegranate Seeds

Looking for a main course to serve at your next dinner party? This is the dish! It's perfect for anyone following a paleo or whole30 diet and brings big bold flavours to your palate. This steak is so easy to make and everyone will be impressed with your mad home cooking skills. 

Wine Pairing Suggestions: California Cabernet Blend, Bordeaux or Malbec.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of flank steak 
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar 
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of Bragg liquid aminos (or 1/4 cup of tamari) 
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped 
  • 1 cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 cup of fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper 

Directions:

  1. In a large ziplock bag, add the following ingredients: 1/4 cup of olive oil, Bragg, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Shake well
  2. Add the flank steak to the bag and place in the fridge overnight 
  3. Prior to cooking the steak in your cast-iron, make the chimichurri sauce. In a food processor, add the parsley, olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, shallot, coriander, cilantro, cumin, and salt and blend until smooth 
  4. Place flank steak in cast-iron pan and grill for about 4 minutes per side
  5. Remove the steak and let rest in aluminum foil 
  6. Thinly slice and garnish with chimichurri sauce and pomegranate seeds 

Our Costco Essentials

I'll be the first person to say, "I freakin' love Costco!" Heading to Costco for our weekly grocery run has become a fun cheap date for us. We love to stroll through the aisles to see what's new, what's on sale and if they're handing out any good samples (hello, where's the chicago mix at!). About a year ago, we were on the verge of getting a membership and now that we've taken the plunge, it's been an absolute game changer. There is nothing worse than heading to Loblaws and spending a fortune on a small quantity. 

Fast forward to today, we've upgraded our membership to the executive card so we can benefit from the 2% cash back (nerds!). I'm sharing our Costco essentials as it's always great to discover a new products. Don't forget to check out the book aisle..my favourite part of our trip! I love finding new reads for our book club and delicious cookbooks. Finally, thinking about trying Whole30 and wondering what to buy at Costco? Check out this useful link. 

GRAINS

Silver Hills Organic Sprouted 20 Grain Train Bread - $7.99 for two loaves

Why I love it: Perfect for weekend avocado toast

The Essential Baking Company, Gluten-free Super Seeded Multi-Grain- $10.99 for two loaves

Why I love it: A little more guilt-free without compromising on flavour.

PROTEIN 

Kirkland Lean Organic Beef- $29.99 for a package of three portions

Why I love it: Although it's hard to imagine consuming this much beef, it's great to store in the freezer. We make it with zucchini noodles and tomato sauce!

Kirkland Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon- $36.99 for 9 pieces

Why I love it: Such a great thing to always have in the freezer. I love to bake it with lemon and dill or broiled with pesto. Serve with roasted vegetables or cauliflower mash. 

PANTRY ESSENTIALS

Prana Kilimanjaro Deluxe Nut Mix- $12.99

Why I love it: Handy for a quick snack on the go! Our trail mix consists of a tablespoon of Kilimanjaro mix, a handful of raw almonds and some Prana coconut chips.

Kirkland Whole Natural Almonds- $23.99

Why I love it: Great to combine with our trail mix, smoothies or adding them to a spinach salad.

Happy Village Organic Calimyrna Figs- $12.89

Why I love it: Highly addicting! Add to any charcuterie board or make this outstanding recipe. 

Vega Vanilla Protein & Greens Powder- $33.99

Why I love it: Inexpensive and works well in smoothies without getting that chalky taste some protein powders have. You can also make protein pancakes like these ones here

Nutiva Coconut Oil- $27.99

Why I love it: Awesome to use as a natural moisturizer, cooking oil or to throw in a smoothie. I literally slather this stuff all over my arms and hands. Read about the proven health benefits of coconut oil here

Kirkland Almond Butter- $16.49

Why I love it: Go-to dip for my celery and carrots. As well, I make a healthy version of a funky monkey smoothie with a tablespoon of this, almond milk and a banana. 

Realemon Lemon Juice- $4.69 (2-pack)

Why I love it: Can't go wrong with the price! I love adding it to sparkling water (and cocktails!)

Galvanina Sparkling Water- $10.99

Why I love it: Such a fantastic price and taste just as good as Perrier. Serve with a lime wedge and a fancy straw to impress your guests.  

DAIRY

So Nice Organic Almond Milk (3-pack)

Why I love it: When I don't get around to making my own almond milk, this brand has the best flavour and creaminess. 

Santa Lucia Mini Bocconcini- $6.99

Why I love it: We don't buy this often but when we do, it's added to our homemade pizzas or caprese salads. 

Fresh Produce

Sweet Kale Salad Mix- $6.79

Why I love it: The best salad mix to bring to work. We throw out the dressing because we use balsamic instead but the nuts provided add a great crunch. 

Angel Sweet Tomatoes- $5.94

Why I love it: Amazing for any meal of the day! Add it to an omelette, weekday salad lunches or oven roasted for dinner.

Assorted Frozen Fruit- $12.99

Why I love it: Great for baking, smoothies or munching on au naturel! 

Raspberry Lemon Scones

 This little produce shop by my office sells fresh berries and flowers at ridiculously good prices.  One morning, feeling inspired by our clean kitchen, I took our fresh raspberries out of the fridge and whipped up these scones. They were the perfect treat to nibble on while we researched kitchen renovations and lounged the rainy morning away.  

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Zest from 1 lemon 
  • Lemon juice from half of a lemon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Place sugar, lemon zest, flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until combined
  4. Cut the butter into the flour mixture. The texture should look like coarse sand
  5. Pour the cream, lemon juice and raspberries into the flour mixture and with a spatula fold the ingredients together
  6. Turn the dough onto a slightly floured surface and gently knead 
  7. Form the dough into a circle and cut into about 8 pieces
  8. Transfer the scones onto the baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes (or until golden brown)
  9. Remove from oven and let cool completely  
  10. Serve with fresh raspberry jam or devonshire cream 
Illustration by Inslee

Illustration by Inslee

Vanilla Bean Almond Milk

This almond milk is so creamy and delicious in my coffee and morning smoothies. I can't get enough! It lasts for about 4-5 days and takes only about 10 minutes to make! Once you've been making your own almond milk, you will not want to buy store bought ever again! 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 3.5 cups of water
  • 2 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 vanilla bean, split (they sell them at costco!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Place almonds in water and soak overnight or longer
  2. Rinse and drain almonds
  3. Place all ingredients in your blender
  4. Strain almond milk over a large bowl. Use an old tshirt to create a sack (I bought this nut milk bag but an old tshirt will do!) and squeeze as much liquid as you can into the bowl 
  5. Transfer the liquid to a jar and shake before using

Helpful hint: If you're thinking about what to do with the leftover almond pulp, I really enjoy this recipe and also this one. 

Great vs. Good Wines

As a certified sommelier, I wanted to write this post to share my thoughts on a good vs. great wine. What is the difference between a good and great wine? If you're drinking a great wine throughout the night, chances are you'll be spending the whole night talking about it. For every one great wine that you try, there will be dozens of mediocre to good ones. Good, simple wines should be relaxing to drink and not too demanding of our attention. Great wines, on the other hand, call for drinkers to notice and actually speak more about the wine other than "it's good" and carry on their conversation.

Quails Gate Winery

Quails Gate Winery

Just like everything else in life, there is a time to indulge in good or great food and wine.  We recently joined the Poplar Grove wine club and these wines are perfect for casual nights in. However, when we really want to celebrate something special, we usually have Champagne, an older Italian wine or a classic wine from Bordeaux. 

If you're not quite sure if it's a good or great wine, don't stress. You will learn to tell the difference with time. To start practicing, the next time you're enjoying a glass, sip slowly and register what kind of flavours you're tasting instead of gulping it down. Here are three major factors when determining the difference:

Complexity: The more intense the wine is, the more you will be able to identify the flavours. There will be distinct flavour characteristics and more mature notes including tobacco, leather or stewed dark cherries. The more of these flavours you can taste, the more complex the wine, and the higher the quality.

Intensity: A great wine has very complex flavours, but they're still very clear to decipher. 

Balance: Balance is the optimal equation of various flavours. It's the perfect balance of oak, vegetal, fruit, alcohol and earthiness. Younger wines will have more fresh, vibrant flavours of fruit that will take over the palette.

Gray Monk Winery

Gray Monk Winery

My advice to all you fellow wine lovers is to stock up on LCBO favourites for those precious relaxing moments at the end of a busy week. These are perfectly good wines (some borderline great) to ease your way into catching up with friends or simply cuddling up watching Netflix. 


However, don't shy away from investing in your cellar for special occasions down the road. There's nothing like opening a bottle of wine that you've been properly storing for several years to toast to a great moment in life.   

Poplar Grove Winery

Poplar Grove Winery

Slow Cooker Idea: Thai Sesame Meatballs

Meatballs in the slow cooker are a beautiful thing. They're gently simmered, so the meatballs stay tender while capturing the flavours of the sauce. You can make so many versions of slow cooker meatballs and they're so great for weeknight dinner parties. We ate these with cauliflower rice and it was a hit! Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons of Bragg's liquid aminos (or can use soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds for garnish 
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped green onions, for garnish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of sweet thai chilli sauce

Directions: 

  1. Combine pork, panko, egg, garlic, liquid aminos and salt in a bowl. Work your hands to combine well. Rolls into about 15-20 meatballs.
  2. Place meatballs in slow cooker. Pour beef broth over top. 
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. Scoop out cooked meatballs from the slow cooker and place in a bowl.
  5. Pour sweet thai chili sauce over top and combine well so all meatballs are evenly coated.
  6. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.
  7. Enjoy! 

Bachelor Finale Dish: Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

While we're all patiently waiting to see Ben's match; I'm thinking about food pairings. Here's a delicious recipe that's perfectly flavoured and great for snacking between Lauren's and Jojo's tears. I hope you all enjoy the finale tonight and leave a comment below if you made these buffalo cauliflower bites! Served best with sparkling wine, lots of desserts and popcorn, of course! 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of brown rice flour (found at bulk barn)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into smaller bite size pieces
  • 3/4 cup of Frank's hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F
  2. Combine flour, water, paprika, garlic powder and salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix enough to get all the lumps out. Add a little bit of more water if it's too clumpy or thick. 
  3. Throw the bite sized pieces of cauliflower into the bowl and mix until all the cauliflower is significantly coated
  4. Place cauliflower onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and flipping halfway through
  6. While baking, whisk together the hot sauce and coconut oil in another bowl
  7. Once the cauliflower has baked, combine with hot sauce mixture
  8. Dip with greek yogurt or any kind of dressing you prefer 

Paleo Shepherds Pie (Whole30 Approved)

Shepherds Pie is such a great budget-friendly and deeply comforting meal. This paleo dish is delicious and filling. A savory combination of sweet potatoes, seasoned vegetables and ground turkey.  You'll be like mmmmmm after the first bite! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (peeled, washed and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 lb ground turkey 
  • 1 yellow onion (medium sized), chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 10 baby carrots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Boil water and then place potatoes in water and cook until you can stick a fork in it easily 
  3. Use an immersion blender to break down the potatoes while incorporating a tablespoon of coconut oil into the mixture (if you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a potato masher)
  4. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to saute pan and then throw in the veggies and spices until cooked (about 6 minutes)
  5. In another pan, cook ground turkey (drain fat when done) 
  6. Once veggies and turkey are ready to go, add the turkey to the veggie pan 
  7. Place veggie and meat mixture in a casserole dish 
  8. Add mashed sweet potatoes on top of mixture (I like to either smooth out the potatoes with a spatula or draw a fork with lines to make it look more appealing) 
  9. Bake dish for 20 minutes and then broil for 5 minutes 
  10. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper 

Perfect Snacks for the Week

We were on the search to find some snacks without tons of added sugar, so I made these recipes from Oh She Glows. This chia donut recipe and this granola bar recipe are perfect to throw in the freezer and they will be defrosted by the time that mid morning stomach grumble says hello. It's best to buy the ingredients from Bulk Barn to save on some costs. I like to bring a measuring cup with me to Bulk Barn so I'm not buying way more ingredients than I need...I can never eyeball it! There is also quite frequently coupons for Bulk Barn on their website to save some extra cash money. 

For the chia donuts, I bought my donut tray at Kitchen Stuff Plus for $11 (found here). You can top the donuts with almond butter, jam, coconut flakes or anything your heart desires! For the granola bars, I added fair-trade dark chocolate chips because who can say no to chocolate, right? You can also switch the dried cherries to any other dried fruit since dried cherries are quite expensive.