Roasted Asparagus

Springtime is asparagus season, so I’ve been on a big kick lately! There’s nothing like fresh asparagus — I especially love the thin, crunchy kind you can get at farmer’s market. They definitely beat the big, meaty, mass-produced stuff any time!

This is one of my absolute favourite ways to prepare asparagus. Generally speaking, roasting any vegetable tends to make its natural flavour even richer and deeper, and requires minimal effort. I find that this technique works especially well for asparagus, as it gives it a wonderful texture as well as enhancing its flavour. I also like that it is super quick and easy, so I can enjoy these on short notice or when I’m in a hurry.

In other news, I’ve signed up for a CSA share again this summer, this time with a friend, and I am so excited to start getting fresh local produce delivered to my home! If you’re not familiar with how Community Supported Agriculture works, read up on it here.

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Green Giant Pasta

When I’m in a hurry to get something nutritious and filling in my stomach after a long day, I often turn to pasta dishes. I tend to load up my bowl of noodles with whatever “extras” I have in my fridge, and most of the time, that includes lots of vegetables! In fact, I try to keep my pasta-to-veggies ratio at about 1:1, so that I’m filling up on vitamin and mineral-rich foods and keeping my carb intake reasonable.

This pasta dish combines fresh asparagus and frozen green peas with loads of fresh basil pesto — it is bursting with flavour and nutrients, and takes a jiffy to prepare! With so much green goodness in my bowl, I couldn’t help but name it accordingly.

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Peppered Strawberry Quinoa Muffins

My mother has a wonderful recipe to dress up fresh strawberries that never fails to wow friends and family: strawberries, sugar, and black pepper.

It is seriously — and surprisingly — amazing. The sugar breaks down the fruit and creates a syrupy juice and the black pepper’s spice brings out the flavours of the fruit. These strawberries can be eaten on their own or atop some yoghurt, ice cream, and all sorts of cakes.

So I thought: why not put them in muffins?

Read on if you want to see more of this… I promise it is worth it!

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Kale and Red Pepper Frittata

I just had to Google “frittata” to figure out how to spell it… awkward.

Moving right along.

If you read my blog often, you know how much I love quiche. Well, the way I see things, the frittata is quiche’s cousin: it’s got all the yummy eggy goodness of quiche, but without the crust. Sometimes, I feel like quiche but I want to forego the crust, so I make a frittata (read: I don’t have a crust in my freezer and am too lazy to go buy one).

In all seriousness, frittatas are a wonderful lighter alternative to quiche, with all of its flavour but less fat. Frittatas are simple to make and easily customizable, so you can try many versions before tiring of the dish. Plus, it seems really fancy, so you can serve this up at a brunch and wow your guests without slaving in the kitchen for hours. Bonus!

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Mocha Chia Oatmeal Breakfast… Pudding?

I have been coming across so many blog entries about chia pudding and cold oatmeal lately, my curiosity got the best of me and I combined both concepts into one recipe this weekend.

The basic premise of chia pudding is that chia seeds, a very healthy and nutrient-packed superfood, take on a tapioca-like texture when they’re soaked in any liquid. This quality makes these seeds the perfect candidate for a healthy dessert option. They are an easily digestible plant-based protein, easy to integrate into various recipes (they’re often used as egg replacements in vegan baking, since they bind ingredients together effectively), and neutral in flavour. And yes — chia seeds are used to grow the “hair” on Chia pets!

Cold oatmeal, on the other hand, is made by combining oatmeal and milk — either dairy or non-dairy — and letting it sit in the fridge for a few hours. The idea is that you can enjoy a healthy filling oatmeal breakfast in the summer without having to have it hot, which can feel a bit heavy when it’s warm and humid out. Oats are an excellent source of fibre and protein, low on the glycemic index, and may help reduce risks of heart disease (according to the FDA). What’s not to like?

Naturally, I can’t just follow a recipe, so when I decided to try my own cold oats/chia pudding, I had to make up my own… no recipe escapes unaltered when I get my hands on it!

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Banana Hazelnut Bread

I have neglected my poor blog lately! I decided to take a bit of an extended break while I finished up my undergrad degree… and I am officially done! Come June 12, I will have a Bachelor’s diploma in my hand and a huge smile on my face. Right now, though, all I have to worry about is an entire summer stretching out ahead of me… bliss!

I can’t say that I cooked a lot while I was studying for my exam and writing my final paper, but I did manage to whip up a few snacks and meals here and there. I am really looking forward to cooking for myself more now that I’ve finished my coursework. I have big plans for May, including some Spring cleaning in my apartment (it looks like a tornado landed in here…) and in my tummy. I’m aiming for fresher food with lots of produce, vegetable-based proteins, and as little refined sugar as possible.

But enough about that and on to the recipe!

This particular loaf got me through a week of breakfasts, and was inspired by my mom’s recipe for hazelnut cake (which I’ve blogged about before). That cake is so nutty and sweet, I can’t get enough of it! Or maybe I can — after all, it is cake, and often I’d prefer a healthier alternative — that’s where this bread comes in. The nuts improve the bread’s nutritional profile as they are a source of protein, so this is probably one of the best candidates when it comes to having a baked goodie for breakfast.

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Easter Feature: My Father’s French Toast

While I was doing my “Foodie Friend Friday” recipe series, my father visited my sister and I for about a week. During that time, he told me he wanted to contribute to my blog with a recipe of his own. Seeing as his cooking adventures are at the root of my own love of cooking, I agreed right away.

I had already lined up my five contributors for the month of March, so I didn’t know when the right time would be to feature his recipe. But then I realized… Easter weekend is the perfect time to feature a family-friendly, brunch-appropriate recipe!

I hope you enjoy my father’s French toast as much as we do whenever he makes it. Personally, I love to top it with maple syrup, berries, and a nice slice of sharp cheese — that last addition confuses my dad to no end, but I promise you it is a delicious companion to the sweet toast.

Editing this recipe made me rather homesick, I have to admit… But, my mom is here for the weekend so that’s the next best thing, I suppose!

Happy Easter (and Happy Passover, too)!

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Buttery Lavender Cookies

My sister and I went to visit our aunt and uncle in Ottawa a few weeks ago, so I went on a little adventure to bring them a nice hostess gift. My father’s side of the family enjoys good food, so I was looking to bring them a few tasty treats. One of the things I ended up giving them was a small package of lavender shortbread cookies. We had them with tea during our stay and they were fantastic — buttery, sweet, and floral.

Of course, when I find a recipe that I like, you can bet that I’m going to try to recreate it in my own kitchen. I approached these cookies in similar fashion to the way I make my tea-infused shortbread cookies (see recipes here and here). That is, I “steeped” the lavender in the melted butter before incorporating the rest of the dough ingredients. I wanted to make sure the lavender flavour would come out through the cookie base, which is akin to a sugar cookie.

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