Sweet Peas and Saffron http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com Sun, 21 Sep 2014 03:13:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 SLOW COOKER TUSCAN CHICKEN STEW http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/slow-cooker-tuscan-chicken-stew.html http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/slow-cooker-tuscan-chicken-stew.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:35:42 +0000 http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/?p=4882 Two weeks ago was still pretty summery.  Last week was wintery {see my Instagram :( :( :( }.  This week seems to be pretty autumny.

Mother Nature is trying to keep us on our toes.  I have to check the Weather Network before dressing in the morning!

Whatever the weather is doing, I am doing my own thing.  It’s called soups and stews.  And big chunks of bread.

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Stew

Basically, my slow cooker has come out to play again.

I am still pretty new to the whole slow cooker thing; we never had one growing up, and  I am slowly learning what you can and cannot do in a slow cooker.

Can: big tough cuts of meat…after hours in the slow cooker they are heavenly soft and falling apart.  Example: Slow Cooker Jamaican Beef Tacos with Mango Salsa.

Cannot: actually cook chicken for 10 hours, even though that’s what the temperature setting says.  Example: um, that one did NOT make it on the blog!

DO:  add more spices and seasoning to the slow cooker just before serving.  Love this one, I used this tip in the Slow Cooker Chicken & Sweet Potato Korma, and that step is the magical step.

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Stew

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Stew

This recipe is another one inspired by something my mom cooked for us just after Kai was born.  I remember looking at this chicken stew and not thinking much of it.  But then we dug in {with huge chunks of bread, completely mandatory!} and…holy yum.

The potatoes and the chicken and rosemary and THE BREAD…just so delicious, soul-warming and not a drop {or a crumb} were left behind.

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Stew

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Stew

 With that stew as an inspiration, I set out to recreate it in slow cooker form….but once I got going, it evolved into a new version, that tasted completely different, but still totally delicious and comforting, and {duh} amenable to bread-dunking.

I added some crushed fennel seeds, because I love the flavor it gives to soups and stews.  The rosemary is also delish, make sure you try to get the fresh stuff, it makes a big difference!  I added some white wine because I can’t NOT add white wine to my soups.  Just can’t.  And my favorite part was the addition of a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar just before serving.  It gives it a tiny hint of sweet and a teeny bit of tanginess.

My FAVORITE PART: throw it all in the crockpot and hit start.  Walk away for 4-6 hours.  I lovvvvve this.  {Yes, browning your chicken and then deglazing the pan with the wine adds more flavor, but the non-browned version is still reeeeally good, great news for us lazy busy people}.

So.  Are you guys ready for some slow cooker recipes?  I’m just getting started ;)

5.0 from 2 reviews
Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Stew
 
Prep time
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This easy slow cooker recipe simmers chicken, potatoes and rosemary with vegetables for a delicious and flavorful supper.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 6-8 chicken thighs, fat removed and cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 small-medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 12 baby potatoes, left whole or cut in half
  • 1¾ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed with side of knife
Just before serving:
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • a twig of fresh rosemary {roughly 1 tsp chopped}
  • ½ tsp salt {to taste}
Garnish:
  • chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Toss chicken, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste, wine, and fennel seeds into the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on the lowest setting for 4-6 hours.
  3. Just before serving, combine the corn starch with the water and mix until no lumps remain.
  4. Add the water/cornstarch, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and salt. Taste and add additional salt if necessary.
Notes
Serve with a crusty baguette, or fresh focaccia.

 

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PUMPKIN DONUTS WITH MAPLE-CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/pumpkin-donuts-with-maple-cinnamon-cream-cheese-frosting.html http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/pumpkin-donuts-with-maple-cinnamon-cream-cheese-frosting.html#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:55:41 +0000 http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/?p=4850 These spiced pumpkin muffins are topped with a creamy, amazing maple-cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Pupmkin Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Cream Cheese Frosting #pumpkin

Someone stop me.  Please!

I have another pumpkin recipe today!

Let’s recap: Pumpkin BiscuitsButternut Lasagna.  And now Pumpkin Donuts.  And this is coming from a non-pumpkin person.  What on earth is going on?!

Like any obsession, this one is just going to have to run it’s course.  So here we go.  Pumpkin Donuts.

Pupmkin Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Cream Cheese Frosting #pumpkin

Pupmkin Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Cream Cheese Frosting #pumpkin

Not just any pumpkin donuts.  Pumpkin donuts with a spiced maple cream cheese frosting.  And I’m not going to lie to you.  These donuts are all about the frosting.

I am such a sucker for cream cheese frosting.  It is the entire reason I eat carrot cake.  It is sweet, tangy, smooth, creamy, just so perfect.

For this cream cheese frosting, I added cinnamon, maple syrup, and maple extract.  The predominant flavors are the cream cheese and the cinnamon, but you can get that little hint of the maple syrup.  I’m Canadian, so I have to like maple syrup, and say eh, and apologize all the time.  Actually all three of these things are true ;)

Sorry, I digressed, eh?

Pupmkin Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Cream Cheese Frosting #pumpkin

Pupmkin Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Cream Cheese Frosting #pumpkin

Anywho.  These donuts.  They are like little spongy pumpkin cakes with all those awesome pumpkin pie spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger.

It takes about 15 minutes, if you are going  S U P E R   S L O W  to get this pumpkin donut batter together.  So.  Simple.  They bake up in 10 minutes.

You can make these into donut holes, if you prefer, by baking them in mini muffin pans for the same amount of time.  Although, I actually find the donut holes more dangerous: it is easier to convince myself to pop one in my mouth then it is to commit to eating a whole donut.  So maybe I should stick to donuts from now on?

The cream cheese frosting is also superduperfast to whip up, however you do need to remember to let the cream cheese come to room temperature.

Uh huh.  So another day, another pumpkin recipe.  Happy Tuesday!!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Pumpkin Donuts with Maple-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Prep time
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These spiced pumpkin muffins are topped with a creamy, amazing maple-cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
Pumpkin Donuts
  • 1 cups all purpose flour {125 g; fluffed, spooned & levelled}
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk
Maple-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cream cheese {brought to room temperature}
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp maple extract
  • heavy cream {as needed to thin out frosting}
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease a standard donut pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat eggs lightly, and mix in brown sugar, stirring until no lumps remain. Stir in the pumpkin, milk, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until smooth.
  5. Spoon into the greased donut pan, filling ⅔ full.
  6. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until donuts spring back to the touch.
  7. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Frost when cooled.
Maple-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, beat until smooth.
Notes
Do not frost donuts until just before eating. Donuts will keep in a sealed container for up to three days, while frosting will keep in the refrigerator.

 

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CHEESY CHICKEN, BUTTERNUT AND SAGE LASAGNA BAKE http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/cheesy-chicken-butternut-and-sage-lasagna-bake.html http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/cheesy-chicken-butternut-and-sage-lasagna-bake.html#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 17:34:48 +0000 http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/?p=4858 This lasagna tastes so creamy and indulgent, you’d never guess it was lightened up with butternut squash and a Greek yogurt ‘bechamel’ sauce.  

Cheesy Chicken, Butternut and Sage Lasagna- you'll never guess this is lightened up with a Greek yogurt 'bechemel' sauce and butternut squash #lasagna #pumpkin

This recipe makes me feel nostalgic.

Not back to the 90′s-nostalgic, but one-year-ago-nostalgic.

Almost one year ago {plus a few weeks}, Kai was born.  You know the saying “the days are long but the years are short?”  Well, I finally get it…I seriously can’t believe that he is almost a year old.

But.  There have also been some seriously loooong days, especially early on.  Lucky for us, my mom stayed with us and helped out so much with the laundry and cooking meals.  She was paid in baby snuggles ;)

One night, a few days after Kai was born, I requested Two Peas and Their Pod’s Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese for dinner. I was a starving hungry new mom craving comfort food {nothing gets your appetite going like having a baby, seriously!}, and completely intrigued by this whole butternut squash-cheese-pasta thing.

And.  It was amazing.  So amazingly creamy and cheesy, but with the hidden butternut squash, slightly lighter than a normal Mac and Cheese.  Totally satisfied my comfort food cravings.

And butternut squash officially moved to the top of my fall 2014 experimentation list.

Cheesy Chicken, Butternut and Sage Lasagna- you'll never guess this is lightened up with a Greek yogurt 'bechemel' sauce and butternut squash #lasagna #pumpkin

Cheesy Chicken, Butternut and Sage Lasagna- you'll never guess this is lightened up with a Greek yogurt 'bechemel' sauce and butternut squash #lasagna #pumpkin

I’m not going to lie: there has been a lot of butternut squash in our house these past two weeks…we’ve had butternut lasagna, butternut mac and cheese, butternut enchiladas.  And I’m pretty sure that Ben sees me climb out of the car with another butternut squash, he’s going to lock the door on me.

Luckily, I finally settled on this recipe.  It is basically lasagna, but let’s call it ‘casual lasagna’, because: there’s no fancy sauce, I used pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, and I broke up the lasagna noodles and placed them wherever they’d fit.  Basically: let’s make this as easy as possible without sacrificing any flavor!

I also tried to lighten this up as much as possible: there is the butternut, and also I subbed a bechamel sauce for a combination of milk and Greek yogurt.  But you will notice: there is no shortage of cheese.  Sorry.  Flavor > healthy in my book of priorities.

Cheesy Chicken, Butternut and Sage Lasagna- you'll never guess this is lightened up with a Greek yogurt 'bechemel' sauce and butternut squash #lasagna #pumpkin

Cheesy Chicken, Butternut and Sage Lasagna- you'll never guess this is lightened up with a Greek yogurt 'bechemel' sauce and butternut squash #lasagna #pumpkin

This lasagna was my favorite of all the different variations, mostly because of the texture: the butternut/ricotta mixture is creamy, the noodles ended up with that perfect soft texture, you got a hint of the sage and nutmeg, and the amount of chicken was just perfect.  It is creamy and delicious, total comfort food.

I also found this to be the easiest version of all: no bechamel sauce that you have to babysit.  No cook noodles means you don’t need to boil your noodles.  Assembling and preparing all of the components took around 30 minutes, assembling the lasagna was another 10, and then it’s in the oven!  Not bad for a lasagna in my book!

One tip I’ve picked up the past few weeks: soak your no-bake lasagna noodles in warm water while you are assembling the rest of your ingredients.  That way, you won’t get that awful, crunchy top noodle that you basically have to discard.

So there you have it.   The perfect comfort food for fall…which is officially in full swing here in Canada!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Cheesy Chicken, Butternut and Sage Lasagna
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This lasagna tastes so creamy and indulgent, you'd never guess it was lightened up with butternut squash and a Greek yogurt 'bechamel' sauce.
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
Butternut/Ricotta Mixture:
  • 500 g butternut squash, peeled, scooped, and cut into 0.5-1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup ricotta
Greek Yogurt Sauce:
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¾ tsp ground nutmeg {fresh if possible}
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped sage
Assembly:
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1½ cups of rotisserie chicken meat, diced into small pieces
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
Butternut/Ricotta Mixture:
  1. Fill a large pot with approximately one litre of water and bring to a boil.
  2. While water is heating, peel, scoop out, and dice your butternut squash into 0.5-1 inch cubes. Place in the boiling water and simmer for 10 or so minutes until butternut is quite tender.
  3. Drain water off and run butternut under cold water for a few minutes until cooled slightly.
  4. Place in a 7 cup food processor fitted with a steel blade. Puree for a few minutes, scraping food processor sides occasionally, until butternut is completely pureed and smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the butternut puree with the ricotta.
Lasagna Noodles:
  1. While prepping the rest of lasagna components, soak noodles in warm water.
Greek Yogurt Sauce:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine Greek yogurt, milk, nutmeg, and sage leaves.
Assembly:
  1. In a 9x9 inch baking pan, scoop about ½ a cup of the Greek yogurt sauce into the bottom of the pan. Arrange lasagna noodles {you will need to break them into pieces in order to cover the whole pan}.Spread half of the butternut-ricotta mixture over noodles, smoothing with a spatula. Sprinkle with half of the chicken, and top with another ½ cup of the sauce. Scatter ½ cup of shredded mozzarella.
  2. Assemble the next layer of noodles, butternut/ricotta, chicken, sauce and mozza as above.
  3. Top with another layer of lasagna noodles, pouring any remaining sauce over top. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella.
  4. Spray aluminum foil with oil, cover, and bake for 40 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and return to the oven for another 10 or so minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbly.
  5. Allow to cool for 10 or so minutes before serving.
Notes
The sauce will be very watery, however as the lasagna cooks, the noodles absorb the extra liquid.

 

 

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SPICED BAILEYS ICE CREAM FLOATS http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/spiced-baileys-ice-cream-floats.html http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/spiced-baileys-ice-cream-floats.html#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:56:50 +0000 http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/?p=4851 Baileys and cinnamon make for a fall {and adult} twist on a root beer float.  The easiest dessert you’ll ever make!

Spiced Baileys Ice Cream Floats #baileys #icecream

So, hi.  You guys want to know what’s stressful?

Photographing root beer floats.  With a baby who awoke, mid-photo-shoot from his nap and demands cheerios!  More cheerios!  NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW!

Root beer everywhere…ice cream melting way too quickly.

Mmm hmmm.  Lots of cheerios were flung.  Lots of Baby Baluga was sung.  Lots of root beer went everywhere.

But let’s just pretend that you are relaxing.  Yes.  You are very relaxed.  It is Friday…you want a dessert.  And a cocktail.  And ice cream.  And…here is the perfect combination of all three.

Spiced Baileys Ice Cream Floats #baileys #icecreamSpiced Baileys Ice Cream Floats #baileys #icecream

Adding Baileys to a root beer float totally changes it.  The root beer becomes so much more creamy, and of course you get that hazelnutty yum-ness and also a little booze.

Then sprinkling some cinnamon {OK, it didn’t quite sprinkle like I’d hoped and went more like: poof!}, which makes this float feel like all things warm and cozy {even though you’re eating ice cream}, and just generally fall-ish.

And in case you’re still not convinced, I made you another GIF.  I hope you’re not sick of them yet!

Spiced Baileys Ice Cream Floats #baileys #icecream

Spiced Baileys Ice Cream Floats #baileys #icecream

5.0 from 2 reviews
Spiced Baileys Ice Cream Floats
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Baileys and cinnamon make for a fall {and adult} twist on a root beer float. The easiest dessert you'll ever make!
Author:
Cuisine: dessert
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • 3 tbsp of Baileys Irish Cream
  • Root beer to taste {at least ½ cup}
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon {just under ⅛ tsp}
Instructions
  1. Scoop ice cream into a large glass.
  2. Pour the Baileys over the ice cream.
  3. Top with root beer, to taste.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and stir before eating.

 

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PUMPKIN SAGE BISCUITS http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/pumpkin-sage-biscuits.html http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/pumpkin-sage-biscuits.html#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 14:02:57 +0000 http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/?p=4826 Flaky, buttery, savory pumpkin sage biscuits.  The combination of pumpkin and Greek yogurt makes these biscuits guilt-free.

Pumpkin Sage Biscuits- buttery, flaky biscuits lightened up with Greek yogurt! #pumpkin

Something bad happened.

Something so gut-wrenchingly disturbing that I don’t even really want to talk about it.  But I think it’s important that I talk about it…in order for me to heal and move on with my life.

It….SNOWED.  In September.  Yesterday…Septbember 8th, to be exact.  September 7th: 25°C, sunny, hot, gorgeous.  September 8th: snow.  Check it out on my Instagram.

Not only did it snow, but it snowed…and snowed…and snowed.  From 8am till 10pm it snowed steadily.  I woke up to at least 3 inches of snow this morning.  Mother Nature hates us in Calgary.

Pumpkin Sage Biscuits- buttery, flaky biscuits lightened up with Greek yogurt! #pumpkin

Pumpkin Sage Biscuits- buttery, flaky biscuits lightened up with Greek yogurt! #pumpkin

I feel better having gotten that off my chest.

You guys have to agree with me…snow should not fall in September, especially not early September!  We should still be able to wear t-shirts and maybe even flip flops, even here in Canada, for at least two more weeks.  Those are the rules.

I guess it’s in part because of the weather that I am completely in a fall state of mind.  {Fall.  Not winter!}  Logically that means pumpkin.

Pumpkin Sage Biscuits- buttery, flaky biscuits lightened up with Greek yogurt! #pumpkin

Pumpkin Sage Biscuits- buttery, flaky biscuits lightened up with Greek yogurt! #pumpkin

These biscuits are based off my favorite recipe, and are ‘accidentally healthy’.  Meaning that there is only 2 tbsp of butter in the whole batch, {plus another tbsp or so brushed on top}, and the rest is basically flour, pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt.  All together I calculated about 110 calories per biscuit…not bad in my book!

And they don’t taste healthy…if you know what I mean.  They have the same old buttery and flaky biscuit texture.  And they are so moist!

There are so many pumpkin dessert recipes kicking around these days, I though it would be good to do a savory pumpkin recipe…and sage is the perfect compliment to pumpkin in this recipe.

By the way: 20 minutes prep.  12 or so in the oven.  Couldn’t be easier!

And so comforting and tasty that they momentarily distracted me from the weather.  Sigh.

Pumpkin Sage Biscuits- buttery, flaky biscuits lightened up with Greek yogurt! #pumpkin

5.0 from 3 reviews
PUMPKIN SAGE BISCUITS
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour {187g; fluffed spooned & leveled}
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tsp dried crumbled sage
  • 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 10 fresh sage leaves {optional}
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sage.
  3. Cut in the butter, blending with a fork or pastry blender until butter is in small, pea-sized pieces.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, combine the pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt. Mix the wet ingredients into the dried ingredients. You may need to use your hands to get it completely blended.
  5. Knead dough out onto a floured surface 6 or so times. Pat or roll out to a thickness of 0.5 inches. I found it easier to pat since the dough is a bit sticky. Cut out circles of 2-3 inches in diameter {I used a glass}.
  6. Transfer circles to baking sheets, and bake for 11-14 minutes, until biscuits are firm to the touch and cooked through.
  7. Cool slightly and serve.

 

Biscuits adapted from Gourmet

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KALE, BARLEY AND FETA SALAD WITH A HONEY-LEMON VINAIGRETTE http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/kale-barley-and-feta-salad-with-a-honey-lemon-vinaigrette.html http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/kale-barley-and-feta-salad-with-a-honey-lemon-vinaigrette.html#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 15:28:36 +0000 http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/?p=4827 This kale salad has it all: nutty barley, crunchy sunflower seeds, creamy avocado, salty feta cheese, chickpeas and red onions, and tossed in a tangy honey and lemon vinaigrette.  Perfect for a week-day lunch!

Kale, Barley and Feta Salad with a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette | Kale, Barley, Feta, Chickpeas, Avocado, Sunflower Seeds and Red Onion are tossed in a tangy Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette. #lunch #kale

I know that it has already been ‘back to school’ for most kids, but it’s about to be ‘back to school’ for me!

Except that my school is more like work.  It doesn’t end at 3, that’s for sure.  There were often long days, homework and work on week-ends.  That’s because I’m doing my PhD.

I am 4 and a half years in {!}, meaning that I am hopefully within a year of finishing.  There are definitely things that need to happen in this year, the least of which is writing my thesis {!!} and having my defense {!!!}.  Then you have to call me doctor, or I won’t answer you ;)

So yes…It’s time to roll up my sleeves, dust off my brain, and say hi to science again.

Kale, Barley and Feta Salad with a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette | Kale, Barley, Feta, Chickpeas, Avocado, Sunflower Seeds and Red Onion are tossed in a tangy Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette. #lunch #kale

Kale, Barley and Feta Salad with a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette | Kale, Barley, Feta, Chickpeas, Avocado, Sunflower Seeds and Red Onion are tossed in a tangy Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette. #lunch #kale

Besides saying good-bye to my {somewhat} relaxing morning routine with Kai, I am going to have to start packing a lunch again!  And as much as I like peanut butter, PB sandwiches are a bit depressing.

That’s how this salad was inspired.  It is healthy, convenient, packed with goodies.  It will keep in your fridge for a few days {minus the avocado} so you can prep up a big batch and eat it for several days.

My favorite part about this salad {besides the flavor!} is the different textures.  Are you a texture eater?  I am!  This salad has the leafy kale, creamy avocado, crunchy sunflower seeds, smooth, chewy barley.  I love all the contrasting textures.

Kale, Barley and Feta Salad with a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette | Kale, Barley, Feta, Chickpeas, Avocado, Sunflower Seeds and Red Onion are tossed in a tangy Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette. #lunch #kaleKale, Barley and Feta Salad with a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette | Kale, Barley, Feta, Chickpeas, Avocado, Sunflower Seeds and Red Onion are tossed in a tangy Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette. #lunch #kale

The base of the salad is kale.  Maybe you are on the kale bandwagon, maybe not.  I have found that the secret to eating raw kale salads is to marinate your kale in the dressing for at least 30 minutes before eating it.  It also helps to slice it into thin ribbons.

I added pearl barley to the salad to give it some ‘staying power’.  I hate it when I eat my lunch and am hungry an hour later!  Plus I absolutely adore the texture of the pearl barley….so smooth and chewy and slightly nutty in flavor.

To add some protein to the salad, I threw in some chickpeas, feta and sunflower seeds.  We ate this salad for dinner one night and Ben also added some chicken breast, but honestly, I was good with how it is.

Then…the vinaigrette!  It is a tangy white wine vinegar, honey and lemon vinaigrette.  Super simple, and works perfectly with the kale, feta, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, avocado.

It all comes together as a slightly lemony, sorta tangy, all-round delicious, fresh, healthy, tasty salad.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Kale, Barley and Feta Salad with a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This kale salad has it all: nutty barley, crunchy sunflower seeds, creamy avocado, salty feta cheese, chickpeas and red onions, and tossed in a tangy honey and lemon vinaigrette. Perfect for a week-day lunch!
Author:
Cuisine: salad
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Salad
  • ½ cup uncooked pearl barley {just over 1 cup cooked}
  • 4 cups loosely packed kale; washed, stems removed, and cut into small ribbons
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 avocado, cubed {leave out until just before serving}
  • 2-3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
Vinaigrette
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp honey
Instructions
  1. Cook pearl barley according to package directions. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients and toss with the kale. Make sure all of kale gets some vinaigrette on it, this helps to remove some of the bitterness of the kale.
  3. Once barley is cool, toss with the kale/vinaigrette and remaining ingredients {however you should leave out the avocado until directly before serving}

 

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ROASTED GARLIC AND WHITE BEAN HUMMUS http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/roasted-garlic-and-white-bean-hummus.html http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/roasted-garlic-and-white-bean-hummus.html#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 17:19:01 +0000 http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/?p=4798 This light and smooth white bean hummus packs a flavor punch from roasted garlic.  The perfect healthy snack!

Roasted Garlic and White Bean Hummus- simple, delicious and healthy! #vegan #healthy

There are some benefits to turning the corner from August to September:

It is a little bit easier to fall asleep at night, now that a) the sun is setting earlier and b) it is cooler in our bedroom.

The ability to drink a cup of hot tea without needing to remove a layer of clothing.

Soups, curries, stews <= all back on the menu.

And: the oven ban is lifted!  It is perfectly acceptable to turn on the oven and roast up some garlic for this hummus.

hummus_

hummus_-5

 I have a thing for roasted garlic.  Have you tried it?

Something magical happens while that olive oil-drenched head of garlic is roasting.  It turns from pungent, vampire {and human}-repellent garlic to a sweet, mellowed out version.  And: your house will smell amazing.

My favorite part of all is squeezing the garlic out of the peel.  After 40 minutes in the roasting in the oven, and surrounded by olive oil, it is so soft that it just pops right out.

Roasted Garlic and White Bean Hummus- simple, delicious and healthy! #vegan #healthy

Roasted Garlic and White Bean Hummus- simple, delicious and healthy! #vegan #healthy

Obviously this roasted garlic had to go in hummus.  I mean, clearly you guys love hummus…this Smoky Sweet Potato Hummus is one of my most popular posts!

Instead of using chickpeas, I used white beans…cannellini beans to be exact {aka: white kidney beans}.  Because their skins are so soft, these beans make the creamiest, most silky smooth hummus.  And the cannellini bean flavors are pretty mellow, which makes them the perfect compliment to the awesomeness of the roasted garlic.

And you guys…something completely unreal happened:  My 11-month old Kai ate…and enjoyed {!} this hummus.  Unbelievable.  This hummus officially has magical powers.

Roasted Garlic and White Bean Hummus

ROASTED GARLIC AND WHITE BEAN HUMMUS
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Roasted Garlic
  • 1 head of garlic
  • olive oil
Hummus
  • 1 can of cannellini beans {or white kidney beans}
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice {1/2 a lemon approximately}
  • ¼ -1/2 tsp salt {taste and decide}
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • ½ tsp fresh rosemary, chopped {to garnish}
Instructions
Roasted Garlic
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the top ¼ inch off of a head of garlic.
  3. Wrap in aluminum foil; drizzle olive oil into head before sealing.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
Hummus
  1. While garlic is roasting, assemble remaining ingredients in the food processor.
  2. After garlic has roasted and cooled slightly, squeeze the cloves out of the skin into the food processor.
  3. Blend for 30 seconds-1 minute, scrape sides of processor and repeat.

 

Don’t forget to enter my Amazon.com gift card giveaway:

amazon gift card enter to win

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$50 AMAZON GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY! **CONTEST HAS ENDED** http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/50-amazon-gift-card-giveaway.html http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/50-amazon-gift-card-giveaway.html#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 02:37:49 +0000 http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/?p=4800 **CONTEST HAS ENDED, WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED AND CONTACTED SEPT 15** Amazon gift card giveaway

Hey guys!

This is a bit of a change around here…no recipe today!  Instead, I am offering you the chance to win a $50 amazon.com gift card!

This is my way of saying thank-you, my amazing readers, for your support these past few months {or if you’ve been around longer than that, you are awesome :) }.

Thank-you, big sloppy kisses {muah!}, and enter below for your chance to win!

What would you buy with a $50 amazon gift card?  Here are some ideas {no affiliate links, just things I covet}:

OK, OK, you guys know I could go on forever, but I’ll stop.

Enter below using rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
A few more notes: the winner will receive the gift card by e-mail. Gift card is only redeemable at amazon.com {not amazon.ca}

Ready…GO!

 

 

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APPLE COFFEE CAKE MUFFINS http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/apple-coffee-cake-muffins.html http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/apple-coffee-cake-muffins.html#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 21:56:28 +0000 http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/?p=4782 These muffins are packed full of goodies: sweet apples, a cinnamon sugar swirl, and a buttery brown sugar crumb topping.  All the flavors of coffee cake, in muffin form!

Apple Coffee Cake Muffins- cinnamon-swirled apple muffins with a buttery brown sugar crumble #apple

Ahhhhhhh.

Guess where I’ve been?  Nowhere.

We are having ourselves a little ‘staycation’.  This was going to be Hawaii…that was until I took a 1.5 hour flight with Kai and decided there was absolutely nothing relaxing about getting on a 10-hour flight with an 11-month old.  Nope, nope, nope.

Instead, Ben took some time off work and we’ve done some fun family things around the city.  We went to the zoo as a family, yesterday we went for a hike.  Kai has had a lot of time with his Daddy, which is really nice.

And I’ve had some culinary therapy!

 Apple Coffee Cake Muffins- cinnamon-swirled apple muffins with a buttery brown sugar crumble #apple

Apple Coffee Cake Muffins- cinnamon-swirled apple muffins with a buttery brown sugar crumble #apple

I have had a great time this long week-end with some uninterrupted kitchen time.  Uninterrupted kitchen time = SO much more productive!  Are you ready for a bunch of recipes?

First up are these muffins.  Or should I call them cakes?  I really think they should be cake-fins, a hybrid, because these have a lot of goodies you’ll find in cakes…yet are still undeniably muffins in taste and texture.  But there has to be a better name out there than that.

These muffins were actually ‘created’ back on holidays at my parent’s house where the apple trees were overflowing.  They are so good that I made three batches of them!  It seems that my Mom and I have a very similar addiction: coffee cake.

Apple Coffee Cake Muffins- cinnamon-swirled apple muffins with a buttery brown sugar crumble #apple

Apple Coffee Cake Muffins- cinnamon-swirled apple muffins with a buttery brown sugar crumble #apple

So.  Cake-fins.  Cake-ins?  Muf-akes?  Ugh.  I give up.

These muffins are packed with things that make me happy: apples.  A cinnamon sugar swirl.  And topped with a crumbly, buttery, brown sugar crumble.

They go down perfectly as breakfast…coffee break snack…dessert, you name it!

They are my way of ringing in the first ‘unofficial’ day of fall.  The leaves are changing here, which means apples are totally acceptable!

What do you think?

Apple Coffee Cake Muffins- cinnamon-swirled apple muffins with a buttery brown sugar crumble #apple

 

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Apple Coffee Cake Muffins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These muffins are packed full of goodies: sweet apples, a cinnamon sugar swirl, and a buttery brown sugar crumb topping. All the flavors of coffee cake, in muffin form!
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Apple Coffee Cake Muffins
  • 2 cups all purpose flour {250g; spooned, fluffed & levelled}
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar {165g}
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk {buttermilk recommended but any milk works}
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of apples, peeled and diced into 1 cm pieces
Cinnamon Sugar Swirl
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar {55g}
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
Crumble Topping
  • 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces {28g}
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar {55g}
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour {32g}
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Instructions
Cinnamon Sugar Swirl
  1. Combine ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Crumble Topping
  1. Combine brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut the butter in using a pastry tool. Mix until coarse and crumbly {see photos above}. Set aside.
Muffins
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Line a standard-sized muffin pan with large muffin papers and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and brown sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg, and add in the milk and vegetable oil. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry with a spoon, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix!
  4. Fold in the apples.
  5. Spoon 1 tablespoon of muffin batter into the bottom of each muffin paper. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar mixture, then top with remaining batter until the well is completely full. Spread a heaping spoonful of the crumble topping on top.
  6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

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LEMON MERINGUE PIE BITES http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/08/lemon-meringue-pie-bites.html http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/08/lemon-meringue-pie-bites.html#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:09:05 +0000 http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/?p=4775 These two-bite lemon meringue pies are the best way to celebrate summer! Meringue nests are filled with lemon curd in this lighter and miniature version of the pie.

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites | sweetpeasandsaffron.com

Sigh.  August is almost over.

I’m finally coming to grips with this fact, and am finally starting to look forward to autumn.  I am going back to work near the end of September, and although life is going to get CA-RAY-ZY then, I think it will be good for me to spend some time with other adults.  And it will be good for Kai to be around other kids.

Things I’m looking forward to in autumn: Kai’s 1st birthday party, apples, soups, wearing leggings, butternut squash, changing leaves, warm drinks, not having to water my garden, and anything sage…so much to look forward to!

One thing has been bothering me, though, just this one thing and then I can finally move on from summer: there has been a serious lack of lemon meringue pie in my life this summer.  I played around with key lime…um…LOTS, but no lemon meringue pie.  It’s just not right!

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites | sweetpeasandsaffron.com

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites | sweetpeasandsaffron.com

Of course I couldn’t just be normal and make a lemon meringue pie…for one thing, I would probably have to consume the entire thing myself {Ben doesn’t like sweets—whaaat!?  I know!!}

So I decided to get a little bit creative and make meringue nests, and fill them with lemon curd.

And they taste just like lemon meringue pie…without the crust, and in miniature form.  Perfect!

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites | sweetpeasandsaffron.com

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites | sweetpeasandsaffron.com

Ah!  Look!  I made a GIF :D  A pretty basic, lame-o one, but it’s actually playing!  Denise: 1, Technology: 0.  Ha ha!

So here’s the deal: I preferred these in miniature, because the lemon curd: meringue ratio was perfect, and they were much easier to eat.  I used a Wilton 21 tip to pipe the meringue nests.  However, you can also make these larger {and prettier} using a 1M Wilton tip to pipe the meringues.

Also: the lemon curd.  I couldn’t find it in the store, anywhere…in fact I’ve never seen it in the store in Canada.  So I used Ina Garten’s recipe which worked beautifully {see below for my tips on this recipe}.  If you can find store-bought lemon curd you are saving yourself about 40 minutes of work, although the homemade version is absolutely divine.

So this is my last summer recipe for awhile.  Autumn isn’t officially until September 21, but Mother Nature doesn’t seem to know that.  It is really starting to feel chilly and brisk.  And I’m finally OK with that!

What are you looking forward to this autumn?

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites | sweetpeasandsaffron.com

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Lemon Meringue Pie Bites
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These two-bite lemon meringue pie bites are the best way to celebrate summer! Meringue nests are filled with lemon curd in this lighter and miniature version of the pie.
Author:
Serves: 25-30
Ingredients
Meringue Nests
  • 4 egg whites {from large eggs; at room temperature}
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
Lemon Meringue Pie Bites
  • 2 cups of lemon curd {see below for recipe recommendation}
Instructions
Meringue Nests
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or baking mats, set aside.
  2. In a clean, dry stand mixer bowl, beat eggs on high until they become frothy and form soft peaks {that slowly sink back into the bowl; takes around one minute}.
  3. Add the cream of tartar, then begin adding the sugar by the tablespoon, while continuing to beat on high. Go slowly; this part may take 5-10 minutes of continuous beating/adding sugar. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to get all sugar.
  4. When mixture has formed stiff peaks {see photo of stand whisk above if you are wondering what a stiff peak looks like}, fill a piping bag fitted with a Wilton number 21 tip.
  5. Going slowly, pipe a 3-5 cm circle on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Without lifting the tip, do the second and third layers around the outside of the circle, forming a mini nest.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes at 300°F, reduce the temperature to 250°F and continue baking another 15 minutes. Turn oven off, open oven door slightly, and allow to cool for one hour in the oven.
Lemon Meringue Pie Bites
  1. Spoon lemon curd into the 'nest' and serve immediately.
  2. Nests and lemon curd can be stored separately for several days.

 

My advice for Ina’s Lemon Curd Recipe:

  • don’t freak out when your curd looks…um…curdled.  Keep heating/stirring it and it will become smooth
  • Ina recommends to heat the curd over low, but mine never got to 170°F on the low setting; I eventually raised the heat to medium and finally got my curd to temperature/thickened.
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