Thursday: What’s Baking?

fruit-cream-cheese-breakfast-pastries-recipeFeast your eyes on this! A wonderful addition to your Sunday brunches, these Fruit and Cream Cheese Breakfast Pastries will be a game changer for your dining table! Puffed pastry with cream cheese filling, topped with fresh fruit of your choice, is a simple but delicious morning treat. Let’s take a look:

 

Fruit and Cream Cheese Breakfast Pastries

Store-bought puff pastry has starred in many a versatile creation around these parts, from baked eggs and sticky buns to tarts and turnovers. But when it comes to puff pastry’s role in the early a.m., it absolutely steals the show when baked into quick and easy breakfast pastries topped with tangy cream cheese filling and piled high with the season’s freshest fruits. [Get the Recipe…]

PREP 10 MINUTES
COOK 18 MINUTES
YIELD 8 PASTRIES

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (17.3-oz.) package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups fruit 
  • 1 large egg
  • Sanding sugar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract until creamy.

  3. Unfold the puff pastry sheets onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly roll the pastry with a rolling pin to seal the perforations. Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter (or glass), cut out four circles from each sheet of puff pastry.

  4. Transfer four pastry circles onto each baking sheet, spacing the circles about 2 inches apart. Lightly score a circular border 1/4-inch from the edges then prick the centers of each pastry with a fork. Spread a portion of the cream cheese mixture inside the border of each pastry then top the cream cheese with fruit.

  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the edges of the pastries with the egg wash then sprinkle them with the sanding sugar (optional). Bake the pastries for 15 to 18 minutes or until they’re golden and puffed.

  6. Remove the pastries from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Note:

  1. Any type of fruit will work for these breakfast pastries. Opt for your favorite flavors or whatever is in season, such as strawberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, apples or pears.

    *Recipe taken from Justataste.com 

    I will be posting pictures of my pastries on my “At Home” day on Sunday for all of you to see. I’ll give you helpful suggestions about the recipe once I try it so that you can make these pastries fail proof! The weekend is coming up, and I dare you to put a few of our pastry recipes together for a wonderful brunch. Invite friends, neighbours or family to your table to partake in tasty food, and beautiful memories that will last a lifetime. Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

sharpie

Sharpie mugs! Am I the only one left out of this secret?? I could have done 15 of these! If you are looking for a creative activity that passes some time on a slow day, then look no further! All this craft requires is a few blank mugs, sharpie markers, and an oven.

You could doodle as your heart desires, making designs that you dream up, or ones that you’ve researched online. Anyhow you do them, they will be your original masterpiece. Once you draw on them it is pretty hard to get the marker off, so you have to accept every mistake as part of the plan! While completing my Sharpie mugs, it brought me back to my good old days in high school, where we would take our sharpies to the back of the yearbooks to write our personal messages. The hearts, stars, and sentimental notes came to mind as I laughed through each stroke of the marker. Okay, maybe I’m having too much fun, but if you don’t believe me, give it a whirl and see what you come up with! It definitely makes you feel like a kid again.

When your art is complete, set the oven on 350 degrees and place the mug(s) on a cookie sheet, and in the oven immediately to allow for the mugs to gradually warm. Bake for half an hour and keep the mugs in the oven as it cools down. This will help the mugs not to crack. Share the mug photos with us at the bottom of the page! It will be exciting to see what designs you all come up with. Happy Wednesday everyone!

 

 

 

Tuesday: What’s for Dinner?

 

 

Hello everyone! I have been hunting for the perfect recipe for today’s meal, and boy did I find one! How do I know when I’ve found the right recipe you ask? When my eyes bug out of my head, and I salivate over the picture! Anyway, we are going vegan and Mediterranean all in one shot tonight folks! Feast your eyes on this:mediterranean

THE ULTIMATE MEDITERRANEAN BOWL

The ultimate Mediterranean Bowl with greens, hummus, olives, parsley-tomato salad, classic vegan falafel, and a variety of sauces! My go-to easy recipe when we’re craving Mediterranean cuisine!
Author: Minimalist Baker
PREP TIME15 minutes
COOK TIME15 minutes
TOTAL TIME30 minutes
Servings: 2 (bowls)
Category: Entree
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Mediterranean-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 2-3 Days

Ingredients

FALAFEL*

PARSLEY SALAD

  • 2 cups fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin (or regular) olive oil (optional)

FOR SERVING

  • Hummus (or store-bought)
  • Kalamata or green olives, pitted
  • Pita / Pita chips / Flatbread (optional)

Instructions

  1. First prepare falafel by following this 30-Minute Kale Falafel recipe (or this Classic Vegan Falafel recipe for more traditional falafel, although more time consuming).You will need ~10 falafel total, so adjust amounts accordingly. You can also, prepare your falafel ahead of time and keep it uncooked in the freezer. To cook, thaw and cook per recipe instructions for easy, weeknight meals.

  2. Prepare the parsley salad by adding parsley, tomato, onion, lemon juice, salt and olive oil (optional) to a medium mixing bowl and tossing to combine. Set aside.

  3. To serve, divide parsley salad between serving bowls and top with hummus, olives, and desired number of falafel (we recommend ~4-5 per bowl).

  4. Serve with additional sauce of choice (optional) – we prefer our 3-Ingredient Tahini Sauce! We also add some fresh lemon juice, chili garlic sauce, and pita on the side (also optional).

  5. Best when fresh! Store leftovers covered in the fridge up to 2-3 days. Store and reheat falafel separately.

    CLASSIC VEGAN FALAFEL (GF)

    10-ingredient, classic falafels kept vegan and gluten free and pan fried to perfection! A faster, easy way to make falafel the traditional way!
    Author: Minimalist Baker
    PREP TIME2 hours 45 minutes
    COOK TIME15 minutes
    TOTAL TIME3 hours
    Servings: 24 (falafel)
    Category: Entree, Side
    Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Mediterranean-Inspired, Vegan
    Freezer Friendly 1 month
    Does it keep? Best when fresh.

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups dry chickpeas
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
    • 7 cloves garlic
    • 2 Tbsp gluten-free oat flour (or gluten-free flour blend)
    • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
    • 23 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 pinch ground cardamom
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
    • Grape seed (or other high smoke point) oil for pan frying

    Instructions

    1. Rinse (uncooked) chickpeas in a fine mesh strainer and add to a large pot. Cover with 2 inches water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute. Then cover, remove from heat, and let set for 1 hour. Then drain and lightly rinse and dry thoroughly (method from the Kitchn).
    2. In the meantime, add parsley, onion, and garlic to a food processor. Mix until well processed. Set aside.
    3. Once the chickpeas are slightly cooled and dried, add to the food processor, along with gluten-free oat flour, salt, cumin, cardamom, coriander, and cayenne (optional). Mix to combine thoroughly, scraping down sides as needed. This may take up to 4-5 minutes to fully incorporate all of the spices and herbs. You’re looking for a near paste with only very small bits of chickpeas and herbs.

    4. Sample a small bit and adjust spices/salt/herbs as needed. Then cover and set in the refrigerator for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld and the texture to become more firm.
    5. Once cooled, remove from refrigerator and scoop out 1 1/2 Tbsp amounts (using this scoop or a Tablespoon) and gently form into small discs using your hands. If the falafel isn’t sticking together the mixture may need to be blended more thoroughly, or dusted with a bit more oat flour if too wet.
    6. Once your falafels are formed (~24 total // amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size), heat a large metal or cast-iron skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Once hot, add enough oil to create a thin layer on the bottom of the pan and wait 1-2 minutes for the oil to heat up. Then place only as many falafel as will fit comfortably in the pan and cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Once the bottom side is browned, flip gently as they can be fragile. Continue until all falafel are cooked. Adjust heat as needed if they’re browning too quickly, or aren’t cooking quickly enough.

    7. These falafel are delicious on their own with hummus,garlic dill sauce or tahini sauce. I also love garnishing them with chili garlic sauce for heat. Serve over greens, in pita, or enjoy as is!
    8. To freeze, pan fry falafel and let cool. Then add to a freezer safe container and freeze up to 1 month. Reheat in a 375 degree F (190 C) oven until warmed through.

     

    *Recipes taken from the Minimalist Baker

     

    Don’t forget to throw in some beets if you are a fan of them. This dish looks so delicious!  Go ahead and have a little “Mediterranean flow” this evening when you cook by adding the music and mood lighting. I guarantee it will put you in the right mood for your meal. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday: Confessions of a Shopping Diva

I love a well-dressed home! A home that has character and appeal, but manages to be organized and comfortable too. Shopping for the home is one of my favourite things to do because it challenges me to open up my mind to endless possibilities of phenomenal looks, while keeping on budget.

Let’s take for example the space below:

room3

This space looks shabby chic with it’s white washed walls, curved entryways, and stripped wood floors. There are a few options we can choose for the living room furniture. Which ones appeal to you? Let’s shop together:

Sofas

Coffee Tables

 

Area Rugs

 

 

Isn’t shopping fun when you don’t have to foot the bill?!! In the space above, I would have chosen the grey Batts Sofa, the Stella coffee table and the Hector rug. I love that touch of tradition, mixed in with a few modern accents. The look I put together is called,  “Transitional.” You may fall in love with some of the pairings I have used as examples, and if you want to know more about them, just click on each item for more details. If you happen to stumble on any must-have pieces please share with us! We all love gorgeous pieces for a fabulous price. Happy Monday everyone!

 

 

Sunday: At Home

parcelsI don’t know about you, but this Sunday absolutely flew by! I had so many things to do on my list and didn’t even get through half of them! I am willing to speculate that my lists are a little unrealistic at times, but I will never abandon them because they always give me peace of mind.

I did the laundry, the grocery shopping, my son’s soccer, and even a little bit of self-care today. All of this, and still managed to whip together Thursday’s “Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke Parcels” just for you. All in a day’s work, my friends!

Going through the recipe, I realized that I didn’t have any frozen puff pastry, so I made myself a batch from scratch. I will share that super easy recipe I used at the end of this entry.  I found that the recipe called for way too much filling for four squares of puff pastry. I only put in half of the ingredients for the filling and managed to stuff six squares instead of four.

As the pastries cooked, they opened up a bit, and failed to maintain that parcel look. The trick is to keep pushing the corners back to the center with a spoon while it bakes in the oven. So, as I’m writing this, my husband walks by with one of the pastries stuffed in his mouth saying, “I could get used to this, Lis!”

Well, you heard it here! The “Parcels” were a huge success in my kitchen. How were they in yours? Share your experience with me at the bottom of the page. I’d love to hear from you. Happy Sunday everyone!

 
*Recipe taken from: An Italian in my Kitchen
10 Minute Homemade Puff Pastry

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Chilling Time
1 hr
Total Time
30 mins

Ingredients
FOR THE PUFF PASTRY
1 1/4 cup very cold butter (salted)
1/2 cup very cold water (118 grams)
1/4 teaspoon salt**
2 cups all-purpose flour (260 grams)
**If using salted butter then add 1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter than add 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Instructions
10 MINUTE PUFF PASTRY
Using a food processor, fitted with the metal blade, add flour and salt to the bowl, then add 3/4 cup (170 grams) cold butter cut in cubes and pulse until butter is absorbed (about 10 to 12 one second pulses), then add the remaining cold butter (cubed) and pulse two or three times (no more) to combine, add the cold water and pulse four or five times just until the dough comes together to form a ball (really important not to over process).
On a lightly floured surface place dough and knead lightly approximately 10 times. With a lightly floured rolling- pin (lightly flour the dough so it doesn’t stick) roll into a rectangle approximately 12 x 18 inches (30 x 45 centimeters).
Fold the dough in half and then half again and one last time, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours.

 

Saturday: Reflections

calm2VULNERABILITY. A word that causes us to throw up a wall of defense in order to shield us from the effects. To be vulnerable is to expose yourself to the possibility of harm or attack, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. Looking back at your week, I’m sure you can see yourself in that situation at work, or the relationship you are currently in, which takes you to an uncomfortable place. A place that doesn’t guarantee that you will win if you decide to play.

I want to explore WHY we have vulnerability in our lives. Consider the following scenario:

You and a co-worker are the best of friends at work. You take all of your breaks together, take the walk to and from the car together, and take every opportunity to work on projects together as a team. You are both in separable.  However, your friend asks if he/she could come by your place to get ready for the company Christmas party. All of a sudden, you feel uncomfortable with the idea, seeing that work friend as a total stranger walking into your home life.

What is the difference between the workplace and your home? You’ve mastered a relationship at work, but worry about if your friend will accept who you are at home. Vulnerability allows for us to experience the change over of ourselves from the standard to the more personal side. The standard you should always be linked to the personal you, as it should be a true version of who you really are. Some people feel anxious about the exposure of their personal side only because their standard side was built to please the masses, but fails to serve their true reflection.

To experience that change is to have a good understanding of who you are inside, and to be confident about that inner person no matter what the outcome. If your co-worker decided that he/she doesn’t have much in common with you after being in your home, then that decision is for the best. It is essential to stay true to who you are because it is the most authentic part about you. There is no one else like you in this world, and you are the only one who can contribute to the world the way that you do.

Allowing vulnerability in our lives helps to build up our character, and discover who we are. It is the moment that defines your own integrity when you stand up and let your light shine, no matter the scrutiny. You can live a life without limits and boldly blaze your own trail in this world because you are uniquely you. Happy Saturday everyone!

 

 

 

 

Friday: The Socialite

TGIF! We made it through the week in one piece, and it feels good. Make this day count by leaving a little of your sparkle all around the office today. It helps the day to move faster and have flair all at the same time! It is the last day of the work week and we are going to celebrate!  So, what to do this weekend in Toronto? Let’s make some plans:

 

ROMROM After Dark – Lunar (Royal Ontario Museum, Tonight, 7 -11:30 pm)

Leave planet Earth behind for the night and immerse yourself in a celestial-inspired world of music, live performances, and curated programs, food & drinks at ROM After Dark: Lunar.

Meridian
On the Move 2020 (Meridian Hall Toronto, In Progress, 9am-5pm)

 

on the MOVE is a FREE professional development event for graduating students and emerging dance artists of all genres. We welcome you into the professional community with lively panels, workshops and networking activities. Success, in the business of dance, with lively panels, workshops and networking activities. For all you dancers out there, if you leave now, you can still make it!

 

glennRICE Asian Comedy Showcase, Chinese New Year Special (CBC Glenn Gould Studio, Tonight, 6-9:30pm)

 

Asian Comedy Showcase, a special concert film taping live at CBC Glenn Gould Studio on Friday, January 24, 2020, at 7:00 p.m.

 

 

cucinatoMangia! Dinner Series with Giulio Muratori Pasta (Cucinato Studio, Tonight, 7-10pm)

Mangia Dinner Series is a monthly Italian dinner series aimed at bringing friends and strangers together for a unique dining experience. This month, artisinal pasta maker, Giulio Muratori will teach us how to make pasta with locally sourced ancient grains, and then we will enjoy a 3 course Italian feast. Grab your tickets at Eventbrite!

*Information taken from Blog TO

Write out your plans and have a blast this weekend! Feel free to send me your pics and written experiences for any of these special events, at the bottom of this page. Go ahead, live your best weekend!  Happy Friday everyone!

 

Thursday: What’s Baking?

Let’s talk savoury. I thought I’d tantalize you with a recipe you were not expecting, but will thoroughly enjoy. When we think pastries, we think sweet. However, there are so many recipes we can explore that allow the “salt cravers” an opportunity to indulge. Let us try, “Spinach, Artichoke and Chicken Puff Pastry Parcels,” that are guaranteed the nod of approval at your dining table. Make them as a quick bite, or part of a complete dinner, with a side of soup or salad, that should satisfy the most ferocious hunger.

I found this recipe on the following website: “fromachefskitchen.com”

 

 

YIELD: 16 PARCELS

Chicken Spinach and Artichoke Puff Pastry Parcels

Chicken Spinach and Artichoke Puff Pastry Parcels are super elegant and perfect for any celebration!

PREP TIME30 minutes
COOK TIME22 minutes
TOTAL TIME52 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (5-ounce) packages baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (approximately 1 pound), cooked, cooled and diced
  • 1 can (15-ounce) artichoke hearts, drained, squeezed of excess moisture and chopped
  • 1 container (6.5-ounce) herb and garlic cheese spread
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 (17.3-ounce) packages Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (4 sheets)
Note: Any brand of pastry sheets will do.
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw puff pastry per package directions.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the baby spinach and cook, 3-4 minutes or until wilted. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds more or until fragrant. Transfer baby spinach to a sieve or colander to drain. Gently press on the spinach with a wooden spoon to extract any excess moisture.
  3. Combine spinach, chicken, artichoke hearts, herb and garlic cheese spread, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and chives in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  4. Combine egg and water to form an egg wash. Set aside.
  5. Roll out and cut each sheet into four even squares. Place even amounts of the chicken filling in the center of each puff pastry square. Dab a small amount of egg wash on each corner of the puff pastry. Pull the corners up and over the filling to form a square parcel. Dab each parcel with egg wash.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden. If the pastry pulls away from the filling, gently press it back down with a spoon or spatula. Serve immediately.

 

As usual, I’m always excited to see how you all did with the recipes, so be sure to share pictures, questions and comments with me at the bottom of this page. Also, look out for the Parcels I will be making to share with you on “Home” day this Sunday.  Have fun baking tonight. Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

habitat

We are back to my laundry room this week, and I’ve been doing some searching both online, and at the stores for gently used items. I figured it would save me money to go with second hand materials so that I don’t have to spend a bundle. If you choose to move in this direction for your own projects, this may take some time because you may not find what you are looking for right away. Be patient in the process, and search everyday until you find the products that are the perfect measurements and style for your space. Here is a list of places both online, and in-store, where you can find great used deals:

Habitat for Humanity ReStore – are home and building supply stores that accept and resell quality new and used building materials. There are many locations all over the city. Look out for a store near you.

Marketplace on Facebook – a part of the Facebook app that allows people to buy and sell new and used items online. It is also a great place to negotiate prices, too!

GUFF Furniture Store – a range of vintage furniture & goods from Scandinavian to art decor offered at a neighborhood shop in Toronto.

The Singing Lady Consignment Emporium – a treasure trove of gently used quality home furniture, accessories, decor and unique and eclectic items. From frugal to extravagant, fab finds for any budget in the Etobicoke area.

These are just a few places you can check out to find some really quirky items at a reasonable price to use for whatever project you have in mind. I am still searching for two double door wall cabinets, a utility sink and cabinet, and a counter top. I will keep all of you in the loop when I find what I am looking for. Happy Wednesday everyone!

 

Tuesday: What’s for Dinner?

taco

It is “Taco Tuesday” everyone! We are shaking up a regular weeknight with a little Mexican flavour for your palette. I recommend a good fish taco to break away from the chicken you will probably eat 2-3 times this week, making your protein diet more complete. Make sure you go all the way with some fresh coleslaw and a pinch of fresh cilantro that is guaranteed to bring colour and life to your meal. You could also skip the deep fryer and opt for the frying pan instead, in order to deep fry your fish.  Give the fish 3-5 minutes on a low to medium temperature on either side, until the fish is golden brown on the outside, and tender on the inside. This recipe can be found on Allrecipes.com, and it is delicious! Enjoy your dinner tonight, amigos! Happy Tuesday everyone!

 

Fish Tacos

Rated as 4.71 out of 5 Stars

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart oil for frying
  • 1 pound cod fillets, cut into 2 to 3 ounce portions
  • 1 (12 ounce) package corn tortillas
  • 1/2 medium head cabbage, finely shredded

Directions

  1. To make beer batter: In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Blend egg and beer, then quickly stir into the flour mixture (don’t worry about a few lumps).
  2. To make white sauce: In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt and mayonnaise. Gradually stir in fresh lime juice until consistency is slightly runny. Season with jalapeno, capers, oregano, cumin, dill, and cayenne.
  3. Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Dust fish pieces lightly with flour. Dip into beer batter, and fry until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Lightly fry tortillas; not too crisp. To serve, place fried fish in a tortilla, and top with shredded cabbage, and white sauce.