Rice, Asparagus & Avocado Salad

As the temperature rises, so does the appeal of crisp, healthy and delicious summer salads. This recipe does double duty as either an appetizer or a meal. My hubby made an incredible stuffed pork tenderloin so this colorful salad served as a side but if you wanted to add juicy grilled chicken, prawns or salmon it would make for a great meal. This was so delicious, mighty nutritious and will be made again and again!

Rice, Asparagus & Avocado Salad
Adapted from: Cook & Be Merry

½ cup uncooked white rice
½ cup uncooked brown, aromatic or wild rice

¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1-2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup packed cilantro leaves, stems discarded (I used basil)
Kosher salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon) (not table salt)
Dash white pepper

½ cup sliced green onions
1 cup seeded cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cups chopped curly endive, light to medium green leaf parts, stems discarded (optional, I didn't add)
1 pound asparagus, stems peeled, cooked 1-2 minutes, cut in 1-inch pieces (I used white and green)
1 avocado, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
Optional: yellow or red pepper, cut into small strips (I added half of both)


Cook white rice according to package directions. Chill. Cook brown rice (separately) according to package directions. Chill.

In mini-processor or blender (I used my magic bullet), place vinegar, oil, sugar, garlic and basil. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

In a very large bowl, combine rices, green onions, tomato, asparagus and avocado and any other veggies you're using. Toss with dressing. Serve immediately or chill to blend flavors.


Strawberries & Cream Cake

You can't go wrong with all of these ingredients. Ever. This recipe screams summer to me... and no, it's not summer yet, especially around here, but it didn't stop me from baking this for some lovely company in hopes that the warm season would hurry up.

This has the perfect combination of crumble, strawberries and cheesecake. This recipe suggests letting the cake chill in the  fridge for a least four hours before serving. I would definitely agree and even suggest chilling the cake overnight as I thought it tasted better the following day. Also, this cake calls for neufchatel cheese and if you live in Canada it doesn't get shipped here. Use 'Fromage Frais - Natural' instead or you could get away with a cream cheese filling, too. There are a few steps to this recipe but don't be put off by the long directions as it was an easy dessert to throw together and will be well worth all your effort.

This was so tasty! I'm wishing it wasn't all gone because I could really go for another slice right now! Enjoy!

Strawberries & Cream Cake
Adapted from: An Edible Mosaic


Oatmeal-Almond Crust:
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup almond meal/flour
1 tsp pure vanilla powder
1 1/2 sticks salted butter, melted

Strawberry Filling:
4 cups of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
2/3 cup sugar (more or less depending on your preference and how sweet your berries are)
3 TBL cornstarch dissolved in 4 TBL cold water
1 tsp lemon juice

Cream Filling:
8 oz Neufchatel cheese, at room temperature (I used Fromage Frais)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tsp lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the springform baking pan with butter. In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients for the crust, then use a fork to mix the melted butter into the dry ingredients.  The mixture should have some lumps that are about the size of peas (you might find it easiest to use your hands to gently crumble the mixture until it has the right consistency). Pour about 2/3 of the crust mixture into the greased cheesecake pan and reserve the other 1/3 for the topping.  Use a glass to help you press the mixture down evenly in the pan (press just firmly enough so that the mixture is loosely compacted).  Bake the crust for 8 minutes.

Use a mixer to combine the Fromage Frais cheese and eggs (adding one egg at a time); then beat in the sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice until everything is just incorporated.  Pour the Fromage Frais mixture into the pre-baked crust and bake for 12-15 minutes (just until the cheese is starting to set).

In a medium pot over medium heat, simmer the berries, sugar, and 1/4 c water (covered) for about 10 minutes.  Dissolve the cornstarch in cold water and add it to the berries, stirring constantly.  Boil for about 2 minutes, then stir in the lemon juice.

Once the cheesecake is starting to set, remove it from the oven and spread the berry mixture on top; bake for 5 minutes.  Remove it from the oven and evenly sprinkle the remaining crust mixture on top of the berry layer.  Bake for another 15 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the sides are bubbling up.

Allow the cheesecake to cool completely to room temperature and then refrigerate for 4 hours before cutting and serving.


Pear Walnut Muffins

Pears are lovely to bake with!

The pears in this recipe were soft and gave a lot of moistness to the muffins. They paired (no pun intended) beautifully with the spices and walnut crunch. The relatively delicate flavor of pear was strong, which I loved.

This recipe made 12 large muffins and 9 mini muffins... you know I can't resist making a two bite anything! These muffins didn't last long as they were wonderful out of the oven but even better the day after they were baked!

As we should all be eating more fruit, it isn't hard to justify a second muffin!

Pear Walnut Muffins
Adapted from: The Cookie Shop
For measurement conversions use this calculator.


3 to 4 pears, peeled and cut into chunks
100 grams walnuts, coarsely chopped
250 grams plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
180 grams sugar
125 grams melted butter, cooled
2 large eggs
100 mL milk

For the streusel topping
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup plain flour
30 grams cold butter, cut in bits


Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 12 cup muffin pan.

Make the streusel
In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar and flour. Add the butter and rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles corse meal, with smaller and larger clumps. Reserve in the refrigerator while making the batter.

Make the muffin batter
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and nutmeg. In a smaller bowl, mix eggs and milk. Add pear chunks and walnuts to the flour mixture and toss with your fingers. Add the milk/egg mixture and the melted butter and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cups and top with the streusel. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.


Lemon Cumin Quinoa

Quinoa... my newest grain love! Have you tried it?!

The quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) seed is high in protein, calcium and iron. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans.

This is superfood here people! And it's wonderfully delicious!

I'm hooked on quinoa and love its versatility. Qunioa is great for breakfast, salads or soups.You're only limited by your imagination when cooking with this grain!

Lemon Cumin Quinoa with Avocado, Raisins, and Apricots
Adapted from: Fine Cooking


3 TBS raisins (preferably a mix of dark and golden)
2 TBS dried apricots, thinly sliced
1 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed well
Kosher salt
1 large lemon
3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
2 medium firm-ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
3 TBS coarsely chopped toasted almonds
Freshly ground black pepper


In a medium bowl, soak the raisins and apricots in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups water, the quinoa, and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Immediately fluff the quinoa with a fork and turn it out onto a baking sheet to cool to room temperature.

Finely grate the zest from the lemon and then squeeze 1 TBS juice. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest and juice with the olive oil, coriander, cumin, paprika, and 1/4 tsp. salt. In a large bowl, toss the vinaigrette with the quinoa, raisins, apricots, avocado, scallions, and almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.


When Life Gives You Lemons...

...make these!

These are so delicious! Little mini perfect bite size pieces of sunshine!

After you take these tart, fabulous, lemony mini muffins out of the oven you dunk them in a lemon sugar liquid mixture and after they have cooled you top them off with a lemon glaze. Delicious, right?

This is such a versatile recipe. You can make mini muffins or a couple of loaves. Or, go for the hybrid version like I did and split the batter to bake both! If you like lemon these definitely won't disappoint. Enjoy!

 Mini Lemon Muffins
Adapted from: Barefoot Contessa Parties!


1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temp
2 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
4 eggs at room temp
1/3 grated lemon zest  (6 to 8 lemons)
3 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice divided
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temp
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups of confectioners sugar, sifted
4 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease mini muffin tins (and an 8x4 inch bread pan if you want to make a loaf).

Cream butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer or hand mixer for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of lemon juice, the buttermilk and the vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide batter into the bread pan and the mini muffin pans (only fill cups halfway). Bake bread pan for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean. Bake mini muffins for 11-13 minutes and rinse and regrease muffin tins after every batch.

While the cake is baking, combine 1/2 cup of granulated sugar plus 1/2 cup of lemon juice in a small saucepan on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. When the cakes are done, cool on a rack with a cookie sheet underneath for 5 minutes. Dunk the mini muffins into the sugar and lemon mixture and pour mixture over loaves and saturate them. Allow cakes to cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.


Banana Crumb Muffins

This is a very basic recipe for banana muffins that is absolutely fantastic. If you enjoy banana bread you will love this recipe. The ripe bananas make this muffin ultra moist and delicious. The best part about these muffins is the streusel, it goes perfect with banana. If you want to add something extra to the recipes, you could throw in some nuts or chocolate chips (I added both!). If you are looking for an amazing tasting banana cinnamon muffin recipe, give this one a try. Enjoy!


Banana muffins
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas (mashed)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1/3 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional, I added)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional, I added)

Cinnamon crumb topping
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter


Preheat oven to 375° F and line 12 muffins cups. In a large bowl sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. In a separate bowl combine bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moist and combined. Do not over mix. Spoon batter into prepared muffins cups.

In a separate bowl mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon of butter with two butter knives until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle streusel generously over muffins before baking.

Place muffins in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. I took mine out at 17 minutes and the were moist and delicious.


Beautiful Vancouver!

Life has been busy so baking and blogging have been put on the back burner. I'll be back with some baked goodies soon but in the meantime I thought I would share some pictures of beautiful Vancouver, BC that I've shot in the last month. Enjoy!

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