pumpkin granola with cacao nibs

west van & granola (14)west van & granola (3) The west coast smelled like fir trees and cedars – likely due to a small wind storm that hit shortly before our arrival, but I’m happier romanticizing it as part of Vancouver’s charm. On a too-quick trip to hug my aunt and cousin, we managed to climb most of the way up a mountain, see a couple shows, try a bunch of beer, and enjoy some impressively sunny November weather.

West Van seemed even prettier than I remembered (“Oh my gosh, you can see the mountains from here! And the ocean from here!” etc, etc…). Or, maybe it is so beautiful out there that I just can’t help gushing. With coniferous breezes and palm fronds waving by the seawall, it seems instinctive to inhale as deeply as possible. (Woah, did I just get a little yogic/life coach-ish on you? Blame Vancouver.)

So, four days on the other side of the country did us good. Vancouver smelled like firs and cedars, and fresh baked granola every morning.

I credit my aunt with introducing me to homemade granola a few years ago. It comes together so quickly, and is such a versatile thing to bake that it quickly became a staple in my kitchen repertoire. Variations are endless, which is part of the fun. This warm spiced pumpkin and cocoa nib combination is one I have been enjoying a lot lately. I hope you do, too.west van & granola (5)

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Laura’s Kingston Kitchen [Chia Power Doughnuts]

kingstonkingstondwight!Knowing me as well as she does, Laura made breakfast our first order of business after I arrived in Kingston. Having taken a 6:30am train from the mess that is Union Station in Toronto, I was thrilled to get caffeinated and fed on the patio at Pan Chancho. pan chanchoI’ve been to Kingston several times, but it was my first time visiting since my friends had finished school at Queen’s and it was my first time seeing lovely nurse Laura in her ‘adult’ life– it might have also been the first time our visit didn’t involve dancing the night away at one of Kingston’s fine bars and spending the rest of our time recovering. We must be getting a little wiser.

There wasn’t a whole lot going on in town, so we picked a couple recipes from the Oh She Glows cookbook, headed out to do groceries and spent the afternoon catching up while cooking. It was so nice to just be in the kitchen chatting, accompanied by Laura’s adorable cat (named Dwight, as in Schrute Farms) and good music (or a new guilty pleasure by J. Lo). After a grey morning, Kingston gifted us with a perfect summer evening, so we took our feast down to the harbour for a picnic.picnicharbourpicnicWe made most of the next morning’s breakfast before heading out to see a movie (I think we were feeling pretty organized). After waking up around 6am with Dwight on my legs (turns out I’m a scaredy cat and was afraid to move him off me), I fell back asleep and woke up way later to see Continue reading…

Shorter Days [Apple Spice Granola]

shorterdays1shorterdays1Winter is tiptoeing its way in. Frosty mornings have arrived, along with the first dustings of snow, though it has yet to linger. shorterdays2I’ve nicknamed this month No-fun No-vember due to the mess of schoolwork I can never seem to actually catch up with. With the days getting darker earlier though it is slightly more conducive to getting cozy with my textbooks. And I can’t whine, even when I try to cut back on the fun and ramp up the studying, I always seem to find time for some fun — there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Weekend moments

Weekend moments

What does the fox say? (Zzzz after Halloween festivities.)

What does the fox say? (Zzzz after Halloween festivities.)

Happy Diwali!

Happy Diwali!

I always have a little notebook with me in which I like to write down things that flit through my mind, and this summer I jotted down a whole bunch of different combos of ingredients for “seasonal” granolas. In my head I imagined bright, sunny flavours for summer, and spiced warmth in the colder months. Most of these little inspirations that get written down never see the light of day, but I managed to make one of my “fall” granolas the other day. Pepitas, apple, spices, and maple syrup might help make these cold mornings warmer.shorterdays6shorterdays7 Granola for Fall…

Visions of Sugar Plums [Maple Sugar Plum Baked French Toast]

SONY DSCOne of the things that defined the Christmas season for me (and perhaps our entire household) almost all through elementary and high school, was our annual performance of The Nutcracker. My twin and I went to the same ballet school and every year around Thanksgiving, parts would be assigned to excited little dancers, rehearsals for the ballet would start, and Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score would start playing through our house. Honestly, I don’t think I could ever get sick of that music, but I could see why our two younger brothers and parents would groan when “Nutcracker season” started for T and I.

The show really became a family affair — my parents shuttled us to and from rehearsals, my mum helped us behind the scenes, and my dad even got on stage for a few years as one of the “guest fathers” during the opening scene. I wasn’t a particularly impressive ballerina –T was a much better dancer (he’s danced professionally, so ooobviously he’s the better dancer in this twin duo) and had prominent solo parts; I was happy enough to get my bits on stage and be part of the show. Although one year, when they couldn’t find a man to play the comedic role of “Mother Ginger” as they usually did, guess who ended up as the lady who was supposed to be in drag? This is what happens to tall, not very serious ballerinas…it’s a good thing I can laugh at myself.
It’s been several years since our Nutcracker days, but after going through countless rehearsals and performances, I’d bet that both T and I could remember the steps from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.SONY DSC

These aren’t sugared plums in the traditional sense; they’re coated in maple syrup and tossed in brown sugar, so I think they earn the name (plus it’s oh-so-festive!). The recipe is adapted from this Classic Baked French Toast that was part of our Mother’s Day brunch back in May. Any type of baked French toast seems like a pretty lovely idea for an easy holiday morning treat; throw it together the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning. I hope you enjoy it and merry Christmas eve!

Classic Baked French Toast from Mother's Day

Classic Baked French Toast from Mother’s Day

Maple Sugar Plum Baked French Toast

Baked French Toast

Weekday breakfasts for me are usually just something fast and simple, but weekend breakfasts can be special. Without work or school to rush off to, it’s so nice to sit and really enjoy your first meal of the day! As far as “special” breakfasts go, I’m a pretty big fan of french toast; it’s easy, delicious and you can add almost anything to it. Well, this baked french toast takes even less prep time but is still lovely enough to serve for an occasion.
You can put it all together and leave it in the fridge overnight, then all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven! I think everyone can handle that.Ottawa is getting it’s second weekend of beautiful weather in a row, and I can’t get enough of the sunshine (although my lobster red shoulders might disagree).   This long weekend is the perfect time for a languid breakfast in the sun — hope you can take advantage of it!

This baked French toast was part of our Mother’s Day brunch… it was a delicious morning and I have so much love for my wonderful Mum & Nana! 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day…start baking!

Auntie C’s Granola

Pretty, but the snow probably isn't good for the tulips!

When my (amazing) Auntie C visited over Christmas, she brought with her a big bag of homemade granola. We meant to save it for breakfast, but someone opened the bag to start munching and before we knew it the whole thing was gone! I’d been meaning to make her recipe since then, and it did not disappoint.

After a weekend with friends in rainy Montreal, I woke up to a slushy wonderland in Ottawa this morning.
Cozy in my PJs, this granola was beyond perfect with some Greek yogurt and my morning coffee.

Montréal, je t'aime.

Having never made my own granola before I was happy with how easy it was! I love the “artisan”  organic type of granola you can get at the store, but this is so much cheaper and you can use whatever ingredients you like and have on hand.
It tastes great with fruit and yogurt or milk, on its own as a healthy snack and if you packaged it nicely it would even make a nice treat for someone else (a friend who skips breakfast?!). There’s a lot to like about this easy and delicious granola.  Auntie C’s recipe