Buffalo Blue Cheese Cauliflower

Want a late night snack that won’t give you post-greasy food itis? Here it is.

I made this not realizing how potent the taste of two hot sauces and strong blue cheese are, and decided to split it between two people. While it tasted delicious it was really strong and the spice built up after a while—I decided that it would be perfect as a side dish or appetizer for roughly six people.

This dish is great because of it’s simplicity and versatility. Add it on top of your burgers, serve it hot with toothpicks at parties, and even sprinkle them on pizza.

In all fairness, this isn’t a comparable snack to actual buffalo chicken wings because the flavours aren’t replicated here (or the texture). I just borrowed the sauce from one dish and added it to another.Buffalo Blue Cheese Cauliflower

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 1 head cauliflower, leaves removed
  • 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. canola oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup sriracha hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp. crumbled blue cheese

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the stalk end off the cauliflower so that the head sits flat and place it on a large baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons of the canola oil all over the cauliflower, coating it well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and roast until it begins to brown, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the cauliflower to a cutting board and allow it to cool completely. Once the cauliflower is cool enough to touch (it stays hot in the middle for quite a while), cut or break it into small florets.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring both of the hot sauces to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then slowly whisk in the butter until fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. Shut off heat and set aside.

In a large, deep saucepan over moderate heat, warm the remaining 1 teaspoon canola oil. Add the cauliflower florets and sauté until heated through. Add enough buffalo sauce to coat the cauliflower and continue sautéing until both the cauliflower and the sauce are hot, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower to a platter and garnish with the crumbled blue cheese.Buffalo Blue Cheese Cauliflower

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Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips

This was my first attempt at red velvet anything and I went into it with a blank slate. I honestly had no idea what made something “red velvet” and how it differentiated from any other colourful cookies. Here’s the long and the short of it: it’s not very different at all.

Essentially, red velvet is regular chocolate chip cookie dough with some added cocoa powder and red food dye. It doesn’t sound as exquisite when you put it like that, but they still look really impressive (and taste awesome), so that’s really all that matters, right?

I decided to use peanut butter chips because they are the equivalent to crack in baked goods. So delicious and addictive. If you haven’t tried them yet I truly feel sorry for you.

I adapted this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. She seriously is the master of all things baked.

Note: I made these in a stand mixer, but made one small mistake which was adding the chips in and using the mixer to stir. It ended up being a little too aggressive and breaking up the chips. It still tastes good and I added more on top, but I’d suggest just stirring them in with a spatula to avoid crumbles.Gluten-Free Red Velvet CookiesGluten-Free Red Velvet Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. softened unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free baking mix*
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. pure xanthum gum
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. red gel food colouring
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips

* You can make your own mix using rice flour, potato starch, xanthum gum or a combination of whatever you feel works best. If you’re not opting for gluten-free you can substitute all-purpose wheat flour.

Method

Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. Turn up the speed to medium and beat in both sugars until combined. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Once mixed, add the food coloring and lightly beat until combined. Turn the mixer off and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed. Beat in more food coloring if you’d like the dough to be redder. Add in the peanut butter chips and stir by hand. The dough will be sticky at this point.KitchenAid Stand Mixer Paddle with cookie dough

Leaving the dough in the bowl, cover it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. Chilling is mandatory.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Scoop 1.5 tablespoons of dough and mold into a ball. Place roughly 9 balls onto each baking sheet—there should be enough space so they can spread a little. Bake each batch for 10-11 minutes. If the cookies only spread slightly, press down on the warm cookies to slightly flatten and form crinkles. Lightly press a few peanut butter chips on top of each cookie.

Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days. Cookies may be frozen for up to 2 months. Cookie dough may be frozen up to 2 months – thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Cookie dough balls may be frozen up to 2 months. Bake for 1-2 extra minutes (do not thaw).Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cookies

Protein-Packed Vegan Crockpot Chili

Crockpots are a godsend for lazy (or busy) home cooks. Besides from the prep, you can just throw everything into one pot and come back a few hours later to a finished meal.

When I called this chili protein-packed, I wasn’t exaggerating. 9 different kinds of beans, edamame, shredded tofu—you’re getting a ton in every serving. On top of that, the flavour is perfect for the colder weather and it’s filling. I put in a couple of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (these should be easy enough to find in a big supermarket) but if you don’t have access to these I’d suggest using some smoked paprika and a bit of hot sauce. If you love smoky flavour I’d even say a drop or two of liquid smoke would be a good addition.

Feel free to play around with what you add in. Chili is forgiving. If you’ve got a bunch of bits and pieces sitting around in your fridge that need to get used up, chances are if you toss them into a slow cooker for 6 hours it’ll taste glorious.

Note: My batch was a little more liquidy than I would have liked. To fix this, I just added in a small amount of cornstarch mixed with water to thicken it up. Allowing the chili to sit overnight in the fridge lets the flavours mix and thickens it up even more. The photos you’re seeing are before I attempted any thickening.Protein-Packed Vegan Crockpot Chili

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 1 1/2 cups dried bean mix (I used Golden Boy 9-bean soup mix, but make your own if you want)**
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, plus a teaspoon of the sauce
  • 3/4 cup firm tofu, shredded
  • 1 (796mL) can diced tomatoes, plus liquid (should be about 2 cups liquid without tomatoes)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 whole dried cayenne pepper

**If you’re making your own bean mix, I’d suggest a mix of kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, peas, etc.

Method

Rinse bean mix well. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with water so that 4 inches comes above the bean mix. Soak for 12 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.9-Bean Golden Boy Mix

Add all ingredients to bowl of the slow cooker. Put the lid on and cook on high for 6 hours. Serve with quinoa or rice. Keep in the fridge up to 5 days, or freeze in batches.Protein-Packed Vegan Crockpot Chili

Banana Split Hot Chocolate

What are the essentials of a banana split? Chocolate drizzle, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and of course, banana. Turn that into a drink and you’ve got an easy-to-make unique dessert with no major mess that’s addictive. The only thing that’s missing is a cherry on top (which is fine by me—it would have sunk down to the bottom and added unnecessary sweetness).

When I made this, a couple of the chunks of chocolate were too big and didn’t melt all the way through. I just strained them out when pouring the drink into mugs; just be sure to finely chop the chocolate.

If super sweet drinks aren’t your thing (as this is very rich) you can cut down on the amount of chocolate you add in, or you can add a little more milk and cream to dilute the mix and share it with more people. If you’re not a fan of white chocolate, feel free to experiment with milk and dark chocolate as well. I discovered dark chocolate milk a little while ago and I could only imagine how good that would taste blended up with banana.

If you’ve really got an extreme sweet, you could just drizzling some peanut butter chips on top or melted some peanut butter directly into the saucepan. I didn’t want to overpower any of the flavours so I didn’t try it this time, but next time there’s a pretty big chance that’s happening.

Banana Split Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

Serves 2 people

  • 1 medium-sized overripe banana
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 5 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

Method

Add banana, milk and whipping cream to a blender. Blend for roughly 60 seconds until ingredients are completely smooth and no clumps remain.

Strain the mixture into a small saucepan, and begin to heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Bring the mixture to a light simmer and add in chocolate; stir frequently to prevent burning. Continue to cook/stir until all chocolate has melted.

Pour the drink into 2 cups for a warm, ultra-rich drink that makes for a unique dessert!Banana Split Hot Chocolate

Note: For thicker hot chocolate (and even less effort) don’t bother straining the mixture before adding it to the saucepan. As long as the mixture is blended very well, it will still taste great.Banana Split Hot Chocolate

Triple Ginger Cookies

Ginger is one of those flavours that I can’t get enough of, and I like it to be strong. Especially since we’re coming up to the winter months, it can be warming, a bit spicy and tastes perfect crammed into a cookie.

I adapted this recipe from the November 2013 edition of House & Home magazine. I ran into a few troubles with this recipe, and was actually disappointed at first because my final result was not as smooth or dark as the cookie in the photo.

Firstly, the crystallized ginger they called for was for “rolling”, but after one or two cookies I quickly learned that it was too sticky and thick to roll anything in. It clumped together and looked ugly; your best bet is mixing it into the dough. Crystallized ginger is also referred to as candied ginger, which can be found in most bulk food stores and supermarkets.

Secondly, the colour was not as dark and rich as it was supposed to be, and I never quite figured out why. You’ll see the colour of my cookies in the photos below—they taste great and have a light brown colour in the end.Triple Ginger Cookies

Ingredients

Makes 25-30 cookies

  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • ½ tsp. ground pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup fancy molasses
  • ¼ cup finely diced crystallized (a.k.a. candied) ginger
  • Coarse turbinado sugar, for rolling

Method

In a medium-sized bowl, mix flour and baking soda. Stir in spices and salt until well combined.

In a separate bowl with electric beaters, mix together butter, brown sugar and grated ginger until smooth. Reduce speed to low. Add egg, then molasses. Gradually add dry ingredients until a smooth and thick batter has formed. Mix in crystallized ginger.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper. Form roughly 2 tbsp. of dough into balls—roll balls in turbinado sugar and place on baking sheet, leaving a small amount of space between each ball. Flatten with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a glass. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks until ready to eat, or to store away for later.Triple Ginger Cookies

Smoky Sweet Potato Cheddar Soup with Chipotle Peppers

Comfort foods tend to be super greasy and carb-packed, but not all of them have to be that way. I mean, I don’t complain if they are. I’m not likely to turn down a big bowl of homemade mac ‘n’ cheese…if I do, there’s something wrong. That being said, sometimes a bowl of soup can be just as comforting, and you might not feel the immediate need to nap afterwards.

This soup is a new favourite for me. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a great, versatile ingredient; a little goes a long way. I put two in, but if you don’t love spice, I would cut out the hot sauce completely and only use one pepper. The smokiness from the peppers is contrasted with the sweetness from the sweet potatoes, making for a damn good soup.

The original recipe I adapted mine from is from Healthy Seasonal Recipes. When first reading the recipe, I was a little hesitant to add the cinnamon because I’ve never been a huge fan of sweet spices with sweet potatoes. In the end I decided to take a risk and try it out, and trust me, even though it’s subtle it makes a huge difference in a good way.Smoky Sweet Potato Cheddar Soup with Chipotle

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 drops extreme hot sauce (I used Blair’s Ultra Death Sauce)
  • 1 drop liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • Basil leaves for garnish or fresh chopped chives for garnish

Method

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil. Add onion, celery and salt, stirring until the onions very lightly brown and soften. Add in the hot sauce, liquid smoke, cumin and cinnamon, and stir for another 60 seconds until all the flavours have mingled and become aromatic.

Add in sweet potato and broth, stirring to mix well. Cover and increase heat, bringing the mixture to a light boil. Uncover, bring heat back down to medium-low, and allow to lightly simmer for 20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked all the way through. After the 20 minutes is up, stir in the minced chipotles and the cider vinegar. Stir well.Smoky Sweet Potato Cheddar Soup with Chipotle

Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth and creamy. Stir in cheddar and serve hot, garnished with fresh basil leaves, chives or freshly ground black pepper. Store the soup in the fridge for up to 5 days—it tastes even better heated up the next day!

Garlic Dill Pickles (Canning 101)

Before now, the process of canning was this big, looming mystery that I wanted to learn but was too scared to try.

My aunt Nancy and I had this very overdue pickling date (for more than a year, actually) and it finally happened this past week. I’m a huge fan of basically all things pickled—cucumber, radish, beet, mushroom, cauliflower, onion—but I never actually learned how to do it myself. I’d heard all these horror stories of people getting really sick over a bad batch of homemade canned goods, so I knew I needed to do it right with somebody who had been doing it for a while.

Please, please, please READ THE INSTRUCTIONS before doing this. Sure that sounds like the obvious thing to do, but you don’t want to miss a step and be left with a bunch of inedible pickles.

Asides from the initial cost of pickling equipment (canning pot, jar funnel and lifter) this recipe is really inexpensive for what you get. I’d say including all the ingredients and the mason jars, your total will come out to roughly $20. Not only do you get 22 jars of homemade pickles that taste great, but to me pickling was immensely satisfying and I felt as if I’d gained a skill—pretty cheap if you ask me.

The method used in this recipe is known as cold-packing, which essentially means you’re pickling raw, uncooked foods. It takes a good chunk of time (3 1/2 – 4 hours) so make sure you’ve got plenty of time and to be in a good mood. It definitely helps if you’ve got someone with you!Garlic Dill Pickles 101

Garlic Dill Pickles Recipe

Ingredients

Makes 22 jars

  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 bushel of small cucumbers (roughly 150 of them)
  • 1/2 tsp. pickling spice per jar
  • 1 dill flower per jar
  • 1-2 sliced garlic cloves per jar

Special Equipment

  • 22 mason jars
  • A heatproof funnel for jars
  • A large canning pot
  • Jar lifter

Method (Read this several times before starting)

First and foremost, make sure everything that will be used in the process is sterilized. Remove the lids from the mason jars and soak them in boiling water until you need them. You will also need to soak any ladles, knifes or spoons, etc. that may be used in the process. To sterilize the jars, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and place the jars on a cookie tray in the oven for 20 minutes.

While the jars are in the oven, this is the perfect time to prep your ingredients. Wash and cut the dill flowers so that they will fit nicely in the jars. Peel and slice the garlic into quarters. Thoroughly wash the cucumbers to get rid of all dirt that may be stuck to them. If there are any rotten pieces, toss them.Garlic Dill Pickles

Once your ingredients are ready, remove one tray of jars from the oven, leaving the others in until you are ready to use them. Place one dill flower, a clove or two of garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of pickling spice in each jar. Stuff as many cucumbers as humanly possible into each jar; this is to avoid “floaters” later and makes sure the jar will have a nice finished look. If you have some extra space but can’t fit a full cucumber, half or quarter some and stuff them in the middle. Just be sure that none of your cucumbers come above the opening of the jar, as everything needs to be able to be covered in the brine.

In a large pot, bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil, then reduce heat. Stir until all of the salt crystals have dissolved, then remove from heat completely. This is your brine.

At this time you’ll also want to fill up your canning pot with enough water so that it will be able to cover the jars that are put into it; normally 7 or 8 at a time. This will take a while to come to a boil, so set it up now.Garlic Dill PicklesGarlic Dill PicklesGarlic Dill Pickles

Once all of your jars are stuffed and the brine is ready, you can begin filling the jars with the liquid. Get your funnel and carefully place it on the mouth of the jar. I filled up a measuring cup with brine to make pouring easier (make sure you sterilize it). Carefully pour just enough liquid into the jar to cover all the ingredients, leaving roughly 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. Wipe down the rim with a paper towel, then place the lid on top of the jar, screwing it on tightly. Repeat with remaining jars.Garlic Dill Pickles

In your prepared and boiling canning pot, place however many jars are meant to fit. Be careful as the steam is very hot. Lower the jars into the boiling water and cover—let cook for 20 minutes exactly. Remove them from heat with a sturdy jar lifter and oven mitts, and place them on a flat, cool surface that will allow them to seal. Once you hear the lid make a “pop” sound, you know it has properly sealed. You can also test this by pressing down on the lids; if they are sucked in towards the bottom of the jar and don’t move when touched, they are sealed. Repeat until all jars are sealed.

To allow the flavours to fully develop, you will want to let the pickles sit for at least one month from the date you made them. Store them in a clean, dry place. For best results, lightly shake the jars once a week to mingle the flavours. Once these jars are opened, they need to be refrigerated. Unopened, these pickles have a shelf life of 1-2 years.

Notes

  • You may need to add more water to the canning pot during the process, as the liquid will lower and it always need to cover the jars. Make sure the water is always boiling before you place the jars in the water.
  • Depending on the size of your pickles and jars, you may need to make more brine. You do not necessarily have to double the recipe, but make sure it follows the correct ratio.
  • Make sure your cucumbers are fully immersed in brine. If there are bits sticking out, they can rot, spoiling the entire jar and making them unsafe to eat. Worst case scenario, just cut the part of the cucumber that protrudes. It may look funny but it’s better than all your hard work going to waste.
  • Do not try to take shortcuts. This process takes a good couple of hours and needs close attention. The right equipment will make the process go smoothly.
  • I know this is mentioned above, but it is important: Sterilize, sterilize, sterilize.
  • Once your jars have fully cooled, you can place fun labels on them if you plan on giving them away as gifts. Alternately, you could also date-stamp them just for reference.

Nutella-Swirled Banana Bread

Nutella and banana are a pretty unbeatable duo. Pack the two into a loaf pan and you’ve got yourself an impressive-looking marble dessert that’s not long for this world.

I’m normally all for substitutions, but I have to admit this banana bread is near perfect for look, taste and texture. I wouldn’t change a thing. Using frozen bananas was really key for me because they don’t leave any chunks and mix really well with not a ton of effort.

I didn’t specify the baking pan size because I find that banana bread is forgiving when it comes to baking times. As long as you use a medium-sized loaf pan that isn’t too large so the batter thins out, or too small so the batter oozes all over your oven, you’re good.

The recipe I used is from Rachael Ray’s website here. I added in some walnuts and altered the pouring method (as suggested by my wonderful baking buddy Taiya) so that you don’t have to stir it up once it’s poured into the pan.

_DSC0078 _DSC0080

Ingredients

Makes 1 loaf of banana bread

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more to flour the pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup mashed banana)**I used frozen bananas and thawed them out—perfect for baking
  • 1/2 cup Nutella, or another chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a medium-sized loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray, then dust thoroughly with flour. Set aside.

Combine sugar, flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, oil, and banana, and mix well to combine. Stir in walnuts. Take half of the batter and put in a separate medium-sized bowl.

Combine with 1/2 cup Nutella and mix well. If your Nutella is too stiff, soften in the microwave for 10 seconds or until it loosens. Place alternating spoonfuls of the batters in the prepared loaf pan; try to make it even as this is what gives it the swirled effect.

Bake for 55-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely (if you can wait that long before digging in). Cutting the loaf into slices is definitely easier once it’s 100% cooled off.Nutella-Swirled Banana Bread

Banana Bread Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

A few months back, my aunt and uncle got me a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer as a graduation gift. I wanted to make them something as a small thank-you, so I asked for requests. In response, they said either raisin scones or banana bread would do.

Now, if you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I’m pretty anti-raisin, but very pro-banana bread. So I mixed the best of both worlds. Being unfamiliar with how to bake scones, I was afraid of them turning out too crumbly, dry and dense. To my recollection, I don’t even know if I’ve ever tasted a scone. I figured if I used bananas, it would give me a safe cushion to work with—they’re moist, add flavour and change things up a bit.

I followed this recipe from The Kitchn, and have added a couple of small notes alongside the recipe that I hope you’ll find useful. Full disclosure: I made these the week I had my wisdom teeth removed so I couldn’t really try them, but my boyfriend, aunt and uncle all had good things to say.Banana Bread Scones

Ingredients

Makes 8 scones

For the scones:

  • 2-3 very ripe or thawed frozen bananas (about 1 cup mashed)
  • 2-4 tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp. white granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the glaze:

  • 1 tbsp. salted butter
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4-3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Method

Mash the bananas and then add enough milk to make one total cup (if necessary). Stir in the yogurt and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. Work the cubed butter into the dry ingredients using a fork, pastry cutter, your fingers or a mixer until no large pieces of butter remain.

Pour the banana-yogurt mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir just enough to incorporate all of the flour. Fold in the walnuts, if using. This will make a fairly wet dough.

Line a dinner plate with a piece of wax paper, lightly grease it, and turn the dough out on top. Pat it into a disk about 1-inch thick and cover with another piece of greased wax paper. Place the plate in the freezer and leave the dough for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel off the top layer of wax paper and invert the scones onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Peel off the second layer of wax paper. Slice the scones into eight wedges (you can use a pizza cutter, plain dental floss or a regular knife) and pull them apart a little to give them some room to expand. If the scones are sticky as mine were, pat the tops and bottoms very lightly with flour so they can maneuver easier. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the scones are firm to the touch and turning golden brown on the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to allow the scones to cool completely and cut apart any scones that baked together with a sharp knife.

To make the glaze, melt the butter and the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and vanilla, and stir until the sugar has melted (heat for an additional 15-30 seconds in the microwave if necessary—careful not to overdo it). Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar, starting with 1/4 cup. Add more confectioner’s sugar if desired to make a thicker glaze. I did since I was afraid it would be too drippy, and it turned out perfectly.

Just before serving, drizzle the glaze over the scones. The glaze hardens fairly quickly; it only takes a minute or two. You can either serve the glaze right away or store it for later.

The glaze can make the scones a bit sticky/less fresh if kept for longer than a few hours, so store any scones to be eaten later un-glazed. When you want to glaze them later, just heat up the mixture for 30 seconds or so and it will be ready to be drizzled.Banana Bread SconesBanana Bread Scones

Pistachio, Arugula and Mixed Herb Pesto

I eat a lot of condiments. Like, a lot. I’d say 75% of my fridge at home is filled up with hot sauces, mustards, hummus, pesto, dressing…all the good stuff. So in the summer, when I’ve got fresh herbs in my backyard all the time, I like to take advantage and make my own.

Pesto is easy enough for anyone to make, really quick, and is probably the most versatile condiment there is. Sandwiches, pastas, dips, salads—you name it, I can put pesto on it. I made this recipe, jarred up the results and my boyfriend and I took pieces of bread and just scooped up the pesto that was left and ate it in a messy, embarrassing way.

I feel the need to explain that when I was taking these photos, I was a little rushed and did literally zero prep, so that’s why they may not quite be up to standard or even the same colour tone. Sometimes you just want to eat it and forget the picture taking!

Sidenote: I am leaving for Costa Rica & Nicaragua in just over a week! I’m excited for more reasons than I can list, but one thing I want to be able to share with all of you are some authentic veg recipes from (what I consider to be) abroad. From what I hear, rice, beans, tortillas and fried plantains are big. I’ll be sure to report back. Any tips for traveling?

Pistachio, Arugula and Mixed Herb Pesto  Pistachio, Arugula and Mixed Herb PestoIngredients

  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 2 cups parsley
  • 1/3 cup each of fresh sage, basil and oregano
  • 1 cup shelled, toasted and unsalted pistachios
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Salt to taste

Method

In the bowl of a food processor, add arugula, parsley, sage, basil and oregano. Pulse until very fine and well combined. Add in pistachios and process for 30 seconds. Slowly pour in olive oil while pulsing, stopping along the way to scrape down the sides of the bowl in necessary. Add in Parmesan and salt, and process for a few more seconds to allow the ingredients to blend together.

For best results, allow the pesto to sit for an hour so the flavours can develop. Serve fresh with pasta, sandwiches, pizzas and whatever else you want to smother pesto on.Pistachio, Arugula and Mixed Herb Pesto