Monday, November 28, 2011

Banana Nut Muffins

I thought I would start the week with a recipe for my banana nut muffins which are so nice to make in large quantities and freeze. I love having these on hand for a quick breakfast on the go or warm them up as part of a weekend family brunch.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 large bananas
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together.
2. Add bananas and egg to butter mixture.
3. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until ingredients are incorporated.
5. Add 3/4 of the walnuts to the mixture and mix.
6. Fill muffin tins 1/2 full. I recommend buttering and flouring your tins instead of using muffin pan liners to create a prettier and nicer tasting muffin.
7. Sprinkle a few walnut pieces on top of each muffin.
8. Bake in a 350ºF oven for approximately 15 - 20 minutes.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Calling all Crafters and Artists!

Today is black Friday and I just thought I would put in a little plug for my daughter's online store.  My daughter, Paige is a very talented artist and she has created a company called PaigeeDraw which has a series of apps that teach kids how to draw and an online store that sells Copic Markers.  Copic markers, if you don't know of them, are the premium art markers artists and crafters use to create amazing works of art.

Paige has made these markers available for half the price you would find them at your local art store! So, if you are looking for art markers for yourself or as a christmas gift for an artist please stop by the PaigeeDraw store.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Peach Tartettes with Mascarpone

Today I wanted to share with you a very simple appetizer recipe. It looks impressive and tastes great. This dish is sweet and savoury and I'm sure you and your family will love it! Try it an let me know what you think.

3 sheets phyllo
3 T butter, melted
1/4 cup peach preserve
1/4 cup walnut halves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

1. Brush melted butter between each of the layers of phyllo.
2. Cut stack of phyllo into 12 squares.
3. In a mini muffin pan, place each square into a cup pulling the sides up to form a papery tart shell.
4. In each shell, drop 1/4 tsp. of peach preserve and top with a walnut half.
5. Sprinkle 2 or 3 thyme leaves on top and bake in a 350ºF oven for approximately 5 minutes until light golden brown.
6. Let cool slightly and top with a bit of mascarpone cheese and a tiny sprig of thyme.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Beef Wellington Bites

Wow, did I ever have a busy weekend cooking! It was a good thing too because last week was nearly a write off. You know those weeks where you are doing a lot of everything but not much of anything in particular? Well, this weekend I made up for it and because of that I have a very nice recipe to share with you today. It's for an old fashioned recipe (beef wellington) that I've adapted as an appetizer.

3 - 4 Beef tenderloin steaks, cut into 1" pieces
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp dry thyme
1/2 package puff pastry, rolled out to 1/8" thickness and cut into 1/2" strips
1 egg, beaten

1. Season steak pieces with salt, pepper and thyme and brown all sides in a non-stick fry pan. Be careful not to over cook the meat.
2. Place meat on a dish lined with paper towels, cover with foil and let rest for 3- 5 minutes.
3. Wrap each piece of meat with a strip of puff pastry and place on a foil lined baking sheet.
4. Brush each piece of meat with the beaten egg mixture.
5. Bake in a 450ºF oven for 6 or 7 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

This dish can be served alone or try it with a little hollandaise sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Betty Crocker, you make good cake!

I'll be the first to admit that I do not subscribe strictly to puritanical food preparation methods.  I love good food but I would not consider myself a food snob.   I like to do things right but I am always looking for time saving alternatives.  Furthermore, I am not too proud to  admit when someone does something just as good( if not better than) myself.  Every now and then we all deserve to engage in some culinary trickery.  For me, Betty Crocker cake mixes are the perfect excuse to cut corners.  In my house, it is a pantry staple.  Chocolate, White, Confetti.... you just can't go wrong!

These are some cupcakes my daughter made. They were delicious, as always.

Friday, November 11, 2011

November Hail

Just thought I would sign off for the weekend with a couple of photos I took today after a bit of a hail storm. Tiny pea sized ice crystals showered down and it left the ground looking as if it had snowed. It was so beautiful, I had to snap a few pictures.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chili Lime Salmon + Roasted Vegetables

Last night I was wondering what to make for dinner. (The dreaded "what's for dinner?" dilemma that befalls us all at one time or another.) Anyway, I had these purple new potatoes in my refrigerator.

So, I decided to roast them with some other vegetables and make my go-to salmon recipe that is super easy and very delicious.


1 salmon filet
3-4 T Williams Sonoma Chili Lime rub
3 T butter, cold and cut into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Place filet on baking sheet, skin side down.
3. Sprinkle filet with pieces of butter then spoon the chili rub over top.
4. Cover with foil and cook for approximately 25 - 30 minutes.

Roasted Vegetables
4 cups new potatoes(assorted), halved
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1- 2 tsp herbes de provence
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tsp fleur de sel
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup butter, cold and cut into small pieces

1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place all of the vegetables onto the sheet.
2. Cover all of the vegetables with the oil and spices.
3. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the vegetables evenly. Cover with foil.
4. Bake in a 400ºF oven for approximately 45 minutes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inspiration from Eat, Pray, Love

I ran across this picture again recently and just thought I would share it here. I absolutely love the casual beauty of the space. It just looks like the kind of place where you could picnic in the middle of the room and not worry about ruining something. I think that some interiors look overly done and not very livable. This one seems like the perfect place to have lots of rustic bread, savory cheeses and of course, wine!

Image from the movie Eat, Pray, Love.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Best Banana Bread Recipe

Banana bread is one of my favorite snacks. It also makes a very nice quick breakfast if you need something as you run out the door.
This recipe is actually my mom's and it is the best recipe I have ever tried.  The top has a beautiful sugary crust and the centre is soft and chewy.  Try it, I am certain it will be your favorite as well.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 large bananas, mashed
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup flour

1. Cream butter and sugar.
2. Add egg and banana to butter mixture and mix well.
3. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.
4. Butter a loaf pan then lightly dust with flour.
5. Pour batter into loaf pan.
6. Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes - 1 hour.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lunch Made Easy!

One of my favorite lunches is a sandwich and a salad. It's a healthy lunch that is as filling as it is calorie wise.
This is my Ham and Cheese Panini with Baby Greens.

Today I helped my son choose university classes so I prepared this for our power lunch together!

Ham and Cheese Paninis
2 mini focaccia loaves
6 slices black forest ham
4 large slices monterey jack cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper
oregano, dried

1. Cut the focaccia loaves in half horizontally.
2. Drizzle olive oil over the insides of each piece for moisture.
3. Sprinkle each half with salt, pepper and oregano.
4. Place 3 pieces of ham folded over onto the two bottom pieces and top with two slices of cheese.
5. Fold the top half of the focaccia loaves onto the bottoms and place in a panini grill until cheese has melted.

Baby Greens with Balsamic Vinegrette
2 cups prepared baby greens
2 T dried cranberries
4 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a medium sized bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper and stir.
2. Add greens and cranberries and toss.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

DIY Slipcovers

Today I thought I would share some photos of a pair of chairs I slipcovered. They were nice before but I felt they were just a bit boring. Also, my dog LOVES to sit in the one on the right and I was forever spot cleaning it. Now all I have to do is throw the cover in the wash when it gets dirty.

I got the fabric in the remnant section of my local fabric store for $3/metre and I used about 3 metres or so. I'm really pleased with how they turned out.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

High Tea at Faubourg

If you ever get the chance to go for high tea at Faubourg, you must!  Faubourg is a little French cafe located in the Kerrisdale area of Vancouver and it is my daughter's and my favorite cafe. So, on my  daughter's birthday last Friday,  I let her skip school for the afternoon so we could enjoy tea at one of our favorite haunts.

I apologize for the photos, they were taken with my iPhone. You can't really tell how small the pastries are but, they are really tiny (and delicious). We had everything from poppyseed scones to smoked salmon rolls and the sweets out numbered the savoury at least 3 to 1! That's what I call a balanced meal.