Pistachio linzer cookies with festive raspberry jam centers and a flurry of powdered sugar. These sandwich cookies are sure to dazzle and delight this holiday season!Read More
When we moved a month ago, naturally, there was no food in the house. Before I had a chance to do a big grocery trip, I ran over to the nearest store to pick up some things to get us thru the first few days. I grabbed a box of granola, yogurt, milk, fruit, and some other items to make quick snacks and breakfast. Each morning that I topped my yogurt off with the boxed granola, I thought, "what a shame." A shame because not only is a box of granola from the store expensive (for what it is), I know I can make a much more flavorful, crunchier, and possibly healthier granola on my own.
The number one reason that I enjoy making my own granola is that you can easily switch up the flavours and ingredients to whatever you like or happen to have on hand. It is so easy and versatile! This way, you will never get bored of plain ol' granola and each handful is like a little, crunchy party for your mouth. Okay, that might sound weird, but you get what I mean.... This week's winning combo, Pumpkin Pistachio Granola.
If you are like me, then come this time of year, you always have a partially used container of pumpkin puree hanging around. I am always looking for new and creative ways to use pumpkin, and find myself tossing whatever puree I have around into just about anything. For this granola, you bet I tried cooking it with some pumpkin puree. For fall, I combined some pumpkin seeds, pecans, and dried cranberries to go with the chopped pistachios that I knew I wanted to include. The colours are really quite beautiful together. I tossed in some uncooked quinoa for extra crunch and added a dash of all my favourite fall spices.
Of course there is the convenience factor of store-bought granola. If you really think that going all the way to store the store, buying groceries, checking out, blah blah blah is easier/faster than tossing some ingredients in the oven and giving them a stir every so often, then I have an even better solution for you. I am always trying to out-conveience myself and do things faster, so say hello to Skillet Granola! Or insta-granola, as I refer to it as. A quick dry roast in a hot skillet, followed by only about 5 minutes of "cook" time and Voila!!
I've been baking up a storm lately. Lot's of layer cakes, donuts, and bundts. Most of the treats are for a designated project, but my kitchen it still left with cut-into confections everywhere. I have a super sweet tooth, but my waistline does not appreciate it. With warmer weather and less bulky sweaters just around the corner, it's time to get fit.
I'm not afraid to hit the gym hard, but please don't take away all of my sweets! I decided to make three different flavors of Gourmet Meringues as a light and airy alternative to all the buttercream and chocolate that usually floods my fridge. Made with only egg whites and sugar, they leave you feeling a bit more guilt free. The crisp yet chewy texture is perfect for snacking. Check out the recipes for tart Raspberry, nutty Pistachio, and Chocolate-Orange over at Brit + Co.
Why hello there, 2014! You snuck up on me so fast that I hardly got to say good-bye to 2013. Last year brought change, among many other things. A change in jobs, a big move, the husband going back to school.... too much to reflect on for right now. This currant chapter of our lives has continued into the new year, and I am thrilled to dive into the pool of ideas and inspiration I have lined up for the months to come.
I am not really one for setting yearly resolutions, most likely because I am not very good at sticking to them. Like dieting. and Lent. I know this will probably makes me sound all high-and-mighty, but I am more about changes in lifestyle and lessons of moderation instead of complete deprivation or extreme activities for a short period of time. Just typing that alone was exhausting. So if you asked me what my resolution for 2014 is, I would not really have answer. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things in my life that need improvement. I can always be a bit healthier, more productive with my mornings, and better about getting out the door in a timely manner.
As far as health goes for 2014, I came up with a few small adjustments to my diet. Instead of saying no sweets (we know that's not gonna happen) or going vegan (although I do cook vegan unintentionally on occasion), I will start with these three moderations:
- Less unnecessary carbs This pretty much means no more white rice as side dishes, passing on the bread basket, but I can indulge in the occasional pasta dish at my fave Italian restaurant.
- Less white sugar With sweeteners like agave, my favorite muscavato sugar, and the beautiful wild flower honey I picked up at Whole Foods the other day, there really is no need for adding white sugar to anything- unless I'm baking a cake or making Swiss meringue buttercream.
- Cut out the candy and processed snacks Let's face it, as long as I am a pastry chef, I am never going to stop making sweets. And I will probably never completely stop going out to dessert or to try out the latest new bakery in town (it's research, I swear!). If I am taste-testing my own treats and enjoying the occasional pastry, then there is no need for outside candy. Plus, with my own baking, at least I know that only real butter and organic eggs are being using - no artificial flavors or preservatives please.
I know these ideas are not ground-breaking and probably not life-changing, but they are doable. I tend to keep a fairly healthy lifestyle as it is, so I am hoping these small changes will be easy enough to follow but also make a small difference - perhaps not in pounds but at least energy levels and longevity.
On another note, one thing that is certainly not all that healthy, but fun to make and share is this fabulous Pistachio Cranberry Rose Nougat. Hey, this is a dessert not diet blog after all. However, if you are going to eat candy, surely the homemade kind has got to be a bit better for you. Right? At the very least, it contains healthy nuts and ingredients you have easily find in any home. Make a big batch and share with friends or wrap of as gifts. Feel free to change up the flavors, nuts, and add-ins!
Recipe adapted from Cooking Melangery
Last month, I created the most beautiful, delicious cake recipe for Half Baked: The Cake Blog. Inspired by mint, spring greens, and fresh red berries, this Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate and Raspberry fillings was created. I love the creamy, nuts flavor of pistachio, and developed this moist cake recipe around a lovely discovery I found at my local gourmet food shop: Pistachio Paste.
The design was kept simple and chic, reflecting the classic flavors inside. To finish, I added my own touch of whimsy with the curlicue detail. You may find the complete Pistachio Cake recipe here.