It’s summer! Finally!  We have had a few weeks of sun and some heat.  The evenings are fragrant.  The air is full of a delicious sweetness. I love taking the dog for a walk on a summer’s night (so much easier than the rainy days of winter!), the trees almost whisper a song as they sway to the evening breeze. Yesterday I went out to the valley and picked some raspberries and blueberries.  Then I was off to visit with my mom and step-dad.  I drove home at twilight. The light was golden as I left suburbia and made my way back downtown.  Seeing the city glow as I drove over the bridge, my breath almost caught in my throat. I love where I live. Vancouver is such an amazing city, the mountains, the ocean, the neighborhoods and then within 45-60 minutes you are out in farm country.

So with most of the berries packed away in the freezer, I kept some out to much on over the next day or two…don’t they look beautiful?

Sometimes simple is best. So this morning I rummaged around and found some goodies to throw together in some home made granola. The great thing about granola is how you can use what you have…one of my favourite approaches to food is to use what you have around.  If you always have to run to a store to follow a recipe exactly, I can only imagine how constricting, so if you feel like making some granola, use what you have, no maple syrup? Use honey?  Don’t like cinnamon, don’t add it. And so on, and so on.


2 cups rolled oats
a handful of sliced almonds
handful of shredded sweetened coconut
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp cinnamon
chopped dried fruit (i used golden raisins and apricots)


  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the dried fruit and mix thoroughly.
  3. Spread on a baking sheet and put in the oven.
  4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown, stirring a few times – just watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  5. Remove, allow to cool and then mix in dried chopped fruit.
  6. Store in an air tight container, I find that a mason jar works really well.
  7. And of course, if possible serve with some fresh berries, either over milk or yogurt – yum!\

Months have gone by.  To list all that has happened in that time doesn’t make sense here. So instead, we will discuss food.  And for me, food is often associated with memories.  Is there anything more comforting than the smell of muffins wafting from the oven on a weekend morning? I had a bunch of nearly over-ripe bananas that desperately needed to be used up.  Whipping up some fresh muffins meant a grab and go breakfast for the week ahead, and a relaxing start to a bright and sun filled Saturday morning.

The twist to these muffins was a little sweetened coconut.  I used a recipe found on Simply Recipes and just slightly modified.  In less time than it took the oven to pre-heat to 350F the batter was ready.  So if you find yourself with 3-4 ripe bananas I recommend trying these.

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tbsp espresso or strong coffee (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup of flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted or raw)
1/4 cup sweetened coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in the sugar, egg, coffee and vanilla.
  3. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
  4. Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts and sweetened coconut.
  5. Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Cool on a rack.

makes 6 jumbo muffins (seen in the picture above) or 12 regular muffins

adapted from Simply Recipes

I am not a breakfast girl.  I know that it is the most important meal of the day, but I really struggle with sacrificing even 15 minutes of my sleep for breakfast.  That being said, I do enjoy breakfast.  The savoury aspect of eggs and bacon or sausages really appeals to me – pancakes, not so much.  I know they have good potential.  I just can’t seem to bring myself to eat them very often.  They are too sweet, too mushy.  So savoury it is.

A few weeks back I was cleaning out the fridge and found myself with some random bits and pieces that needed to be used: a few slices of bacon, an older jar of sundried tomatoes and a half bag of spinach.  My mind immediately went to a quiche, but Taster Boy is not a lover of quiche, too fluffy and full of eggs for him.  So I thought of a picture of a tart that I saw in Jamie Oliver’s book, Cooking at Home.  He had made it in a rimmed baking sheet, it looked rustic and a little different.  I pulled out the recipe and reviewed.  It called for it’s own version of crust and really focused on onions and spinach as the flavours.  Sounded good, but of course it had to be tweaked because I can seldom leave a recipe alone!

I opted to make my own stand by pastry crust but added about ½ a cup of sharp cheddar cheese, lowering the lard content to compensate.  This added a wonderful richness to the crust.  I used one egg and egg beaters to keep it a little healthier (yes, I know, adding the egg to the cheese to the crust was so not a healthy option, but pick and choose right?)  I loved that you could really throw anything into the tart.  Essentially whatever you would like with an omelet, you could add to this recipe.  Perhaps we should call this “Clean out the fridge Breakfast Tart”.

You could cut yourself a square of it and heat it up in the toaster oven, either at home or at work.  A grab and go breakfast that I literally have to just heat up is a good option for those of who prefer sleep and the snooze button.  I would love to hear what flavor combinations you might enjoy, or have already created yourself!

PS – my mom thinks this could be frozen well, because quiches can be frozen.  So I would individually cut and wrap in cellophane and then foil and then try.  Worth a shot if you have leftovers you don’t think you will get through.

Spinach tomato bacon tart


2 cups AP flour
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp vinegar (I was out of regular vinegar and tried red wine, it was pretty good)
1 cup ice cold water (you won’t use all of this)
1/4 cup Crisco lard
½ tsp salt
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Tart Filling
1 egg
1/3  cup egg beaters (2 eggs worth)
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 cups clean washed spinach
1 medium sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese.
¼ cup chopped sundried tomatoes
4 slices of bacon, minced
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Prepare the dough by combining the flour and the salt on a clean counter top
  2. Add the Crisco, using two knives chop it up into the flour to create an oatmeal consistency.  You want it keep little “pebbles” of lard in the flour and not make it too fine because in the oven these will puff up and create the delicious flakiness you want with your pastry dough.  I always used to make the dough in a bowl.  But I found the knives a little cumbersome in a rounded object and then realized you are already going to roll the dough onto the counter, so why not just start there?
  3. Stir in the grated cheddar cheese
  4. Beat the egg in a small measuring cup, add the vinegar and then add cold water until you reach a one cup measure
  5. Make a small well in your flour mixture, pour about 1/3 of the liquid into the well.  With a fork start stirring the flour from the centre into the liquid and continue until fully combined.  You may need to add more water or flour depending on humidity of your flour
  6. Lightly grease your pan with either pam or a light light coating of butter.
  7. Roll out to fit your baking sheet.  Crimp edges, poke with fork and place in freezer for half an hour.  This way you don’t need to blind bake and then tart should not shrink too much or pull from the edges of the pan.
  8. Preheat oven to 425F
  9. Bake tart shell for 15-20 minutes, until just a about to brown.  This allows you to add the egg mixture and not get a soggy bottom tart.
  10. While the tart is baking, in a large non-stick frying pan heat up the EVOO on medium heat.  Add sliced onions (if you are daring and like garlic, add a minced clove or two, delish!) Slowly sautee onions. Don’t rush it let them sweat and cook down, not brown.
  11. Once onions have cooked for about 10 minutes, add spinach.  You may need to do this in batches depending on how big your pan is.  Allow to wilt. Cook out the liquid. If this isn’t happening, drain it from the pan.
  12. Set aside until ready to bake tart.
  13. In a small bowl combine the egg and beaters and whisk until light and frothy.  I find an immersion blender quite helpful to incorporate lots of air into it.
  14. In the prebaked tart, spread out the spinach and onion mixture, sprinkle the sundried tomatoes and minced bacon and then pour in the egg mixture.  Add the shredded parm on top.
  15. Turn oven down to 375F
  16. Place tart in the oven, allow to bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
  17. Remove and let cool to reasonable warm temperature, or even room temp and enjoy!

“Raspberry muffins.”  That was what was requested for breakfast by my 5 year old nephew a few weekends ago when we looked after him and his 2 year old sister.  We didn’t have raspberries, so it was off to the the grocery story.  They too didn’t have any.  The choices were down to blueberries and blackberries.  Blackberries were “close enough” I was informed.  So with my little helpers gathered around the world’s smallest kitchen we made these super easy muffins.  The results paid off!  Faces smeared with blackberries, and seconds asked for.  A successful collaboration I am positive of.

I found this recipe over at Gourmet Girl’s site.  I had been intrigued by the yogurt in the recipe.  I had made it a few weeks back for Friday treats at work.  So this go round with the kiddies I thought I would try it again.  However instead of plain or vanilla yogurt I opted maple flavoured yogurt, topped with maple sugar instead of vanilla sugar.  Regardless of what combination you built this as, I am sure they would work out.  A great standby to have kicking around when muffins are needed in a flash.

Blackberry Muffin_2

12-1/2 ounces cake flour (3 cups)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup maple yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups blackberries, (1 pint)
1/8 cup maple sugar for sprinkling tops
paper liners or buttered muffin tins


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl toss blueberries with about 1 tablespoon of flour mixture and set aside.
  3. Whisk all wet ingredients together and mix well.
  4. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until just barely combined. add blackberries and mix lightly. Do not over mix.
  5. With an ice cream scoop fill muffin pan almost all the way to the top. top with sugar generously and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove muffins from pan as soon as they are cool enough to handle. They will keep for 3-4 days covered at room temperature.

Makes 18 muffins

peach cinnamon bun

Do you ever get something on the brain and just can’t let it go?  For me, it has been cinnamon buns.  I don’t know why.  I don’t particularly get cravings for them.  Once in a while when someone brings them into the office from one of the great coffee shops around the University, they are certainly a treat, but I don’t usually pick one up on my own accord.  I didn’t want to just make cinnamon buns, I wanted to incorporate some of the delicious fresh fruit that is now on the stands…peaches, blackberries, apricots and blueberries.  I figured the cinnamon sugar could only compliment the fruit.

I think one of the reasons I haven’t loved making cinnamon rolls is because I haven’t quite nailed the dough…these are pretty close, especially considering the whole wheat.  I imagine using white bread flour would have been almost ideal!  The dough of past buns were always too dense, too crusty.  They missed the light, almost flakiness of the commercially made buns.  I found this recipe by randomly searching on Google.  I made a few changes because what we had in the house in terms of the dough (baked with Whole Wheat Bread Flour rather than White and didn’t have the Wheat Gluten), and then created my own filling and used the cream cheese  icing recipe from the lime mojito cupcakes – the zing from it is such a refreshing compliment to the sugary sweetness of the cinnamon buns.

I am going to submit these to Yeast Spotting, and send them into work with Taster Boy – he hasn’t brought in goodies for a while, hopefully these are enjoyed by his colleagues!

Fresh from the oven

1 cup milk (heated approximately 1 minute in microwave)
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature and beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups bread flour

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup plump golden raisins
3 large peaches finely chopped or diced

1/2 recipe Lime Cream Cheese Icing


  1. In a stand mixer with a hook attachment, combine all dough ingredients.
  2. Allow to come together and form a ball.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly greased counter (use vegetable spray)
  4. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Turn into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic and let rest.
  6. Roll out rested dough to 20″ x 12″, cut in half length wise.
  7. Spread soft butter out on two pieces of dough, leave a 1 cm perimeter on the long sides.
  8. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
  9. Spread out cut fruit and raisins on top of sugar.
  10. Roll two separate rolls and pinch dough together.
  11. Using a serrated knife cut the dough into about 1 1/2 inch long rolls.
  12. Assemble in a pan, rolls should not be touching. Pat down gently.
  13. Let dough sit out and rise for one hour at least – should double in size and dough should be touching.
  14. Preheat oven to 350 F, bake for 20 minutes.  If using whole wheat flour be sure not to over cook as this could easily dry out the dough.
  15. Spread icing over buns… and enjoy!

Adapted from What’s Cooking America

Monday was a good friend’s birthday.  Since it is also a holiday here she opted to have a brunch in their beautiful backyard.  I insisted on bringing something…I don’t know why I am on a bit of a scone kick these days.  Perhaps because they are easy and they make the house smell sooooo good!  This recipe is apparently from the Empress Hotel’s legendary Afternoon Tea. They are simple and sweet.  Served with some lemon curd or crème fresh and warmed strawberry jam and perfect cup of tea and they make a great breakfast or snack.

I had a little of the batter left over so I left it in the fridge for 2 days and baked the final four scones a today.  I was worried they would be dry.  The texture was certainly different than those that I made directly after mixing.  The first baked batch was more buttery and a little crispy.  The batch made today was more crumbly and yet lighter.  If I was to make these again, I would let the dough sit at least overnight…I liked the result better I think.

Empress Scones

Empress Tea Scones
-20 scones

12 oz AP flour
4.5 oz sugar
1 oz baking powder
4.5 oz butter, cold and cubed
3 oz raisins, soaked
3 eggs
1 cup whipping cream


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the butter until pea sized crumbs are obtained.
  4. Slowly add the eggs and the cream, stirring lightly.
  5. Fold in the raisins.
  6. Gently turn out onto a floured surface and pat into a rectangle that is about 1/2 ” thick.
  7. Use a floured cutter to cut into desired shapes.
  8. Place on a silpad on a cookie sheet.
  9. At this point either place in refrigerator to set overnight.
  10. Or, brush with cream or egg wash.
  11. Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes until golden on the top.
  12. Serve with jersey cream and strawberry jam.

Taster Boy loves to sleep in.  I often have the grand intention to do so, especially on Sundays…after all, Monday to Friday I can barely drag my sorry butt out of bed.  However, the weekends are a little different.  I seem to wake up at a decent time, usually between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m.  I love my sleepy quiet Sunday mornings.  I usually make myself a tea, grab a book and a blanket and sit on the balcony for a while. An hour later or so, and I start getting the itch to make something for breakfast.  I have been thinking about scones for the last few days, and toyed with the idea of strawberries and Marscapone cheese, a Google search later and I stumbled across Katie at Good Life Eats.

I made a few tweaks to her recipe,  though not too many.  These were wonderful!  So flavourful, a fantastic breakfast or dessert (or snack!) scone.  They came together in less than 10 minuets, were a little messy, but really, what scones aren’t when you are wrist deep in flour and butter.   Katie’s recipe called for what sounded lovely, a honey milk glaze, but I opted not to add that and just sprinkled a little sugar on top.

I will certainly be making these again…in fact, I only baked half the recipe this morning and plan on baking the other half tomorrow morning to bring into the office a Monday morning treat.


4 cups flour (I used 2 cups white and 2 cups whole wheat flour)
4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp lime zest (she called for lemon, but I really like the lime flavouring)
1/2 cup butter, sliced
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Mascarpone cheese
2 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 Tbs vanilla
2 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 c strawberries, diced


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and zest. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and honey.
  4. Using two knives, cut the mascarpone cheese and butter into the flour mixture. (I found it easier to do the butter first and then the cheese  – make sure the cheese is fresh out of the fridge as this makes the method of “cutting it into the flour easier)
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the egg mixture and the strawberries. Gently stir until it forms together.
  6. Knead on a floured surface a few times – be gentle so you don’t squish the strawberries.
  7. Divide dough into two equal portions. Flatten into 8 inch rounds. Sprinkle the sugar on top.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F on a parchment paper lined sheet for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Cut each round into eights. Cool on a wired rack.
  10. Serve with some strawberry jam (and maybe a little creme fraiche on the side?!)

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