I like to eat nuts for a snack but I tend to get bored easily with them. Especially when I just eat them raw.

So when I found this recipe for chili lime almonds, I thought to myself, ‘what the heck, let’s spice things up’.

Adding the hot almonds to the tangy spicy liquid turns the almonds into little sponges: they just soak up the flavor. Then, throwing the dressed almonds back into oven, locks that flavor in. I don’t like I’ll ever eat raw almonds again.

Chili Lime Almonds (adapted from Healthy in a Hurry)

Makes about 1 cup dressed almonds

1 cup whole raw almonds

2 tablespoons freshly squeeze lime juice, about 1 lime

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon brown sugar, packed

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 300˚F. On a large baking sheet, toast almonds for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine lime juice, chili powder, salt, brown sugar and cayenne. Once toasted, add the almonds to the dressing and mix to combine. Allow the almonds to soak in the dressing for about two minutes.

Pour the dressed almonds back onto the baking sheet and continue baking at 300˚F for about 8 minutes or until the almonds no longer appear wet.

Allow to cool. Enjoy.

Isn’t Easter Brunch just the best? It just sounds delicious. Here is my idea of the perfect Easter brunch to make for you and yours. Serve it all together, who has courses for brunch anyway?

Limoncello Fruit Salad

Cinnamon Buns

Spring Vegetable Frittata

Serve with Bacon or Ham, Coffee and Tea, and Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice.

Enjoy your brunch and your Easter friends!

I must say that making cinnamon buns for Mr. Collin Murray was something that I put off for a long, long while. After making them, I honestly don’t know why I put it off for that long — it really wasn’t that painful.

What makes these cinnamon buns a little special is the addition of a little orange zest to the butter/sugar “stuffing”. If you wanted a traditional taste, you could certainly leave it out but Collin Murray and I found that the zest was really quite lovely — it brightens and lightens the buns right up.

This recipe is certainly isn’t the easiest one on this site but when you are thinking of making buns, are you really looking for easy? I made them out of love and judging by how many he ate, Collin Murray felt the love.

Cinnamon Buns with Vanilla Glaze (adapted from Home Baked Comforts)

Makes 16-20 medium-sized buns

For the dough:

2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast

¾ cup milk, warmed to 110˚F

¼ cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, optional

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed

1 ½ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed

For the filling:

¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

⅔ cup brown sugar, lightly packed

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Zest of one orange

For the glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

¼ cup milk or orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract

Begin with the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk and the yeast and let stand until the yeast is foamy and dissolved, about 10 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, eggs, salt and 4 ½ cups of flour. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and on a low speed, knead until the dough comes together, adding more flour if the dough looks wet. Add the butter and allow the mixer to knead for about 5-7 minutes or until the dough is soft and springs back when touched. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough into the bowl to rise for 1 ½ hours or until it has doubled in size.

Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside. Punch down the dough and cut it in half. On a lightly floured flat surface, roll the dough out into a large rectangle – about 9×14 inches. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread half the butter all over the first rectangle, sprinkle with half the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture and zest half an orange overtop. Starting at the long side that is closest to you, begin to roll the rectangle away from you, carefully and tightly, forming a long log as you go. Cut into eight equal pieces, arrange the slices in the baking dish.

Repeat the whole process with the second ball of dough.

Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for about an hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Bake at 400˚F for 20 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the buns in the middle of the baking dish comes out clean.

While the buns are baking, in a small bowl combine the confectioner’s sugar, milk or orange juice and vanilla and stir together.

Once baked, allow the buns to cool about 10-15 minutes and the drizzle the glaze overtop and enjoy while warm.

I love frittatas. I really, really do. A lot of people aren’t sure what they are and let’s be honest, with so many egg dishes out there, it’s hard to keep track. So let’s try to get it straight: omelets are beaten eggs that are fried and then served with a filling folded into the middle; frittatas are beaten eggs with the filling baked into the eggs; and quiches are like frittatas with a pastry crust. Is that clear as mud?

Whenever I make a frittata in a cooking class, I have a hard time telling people that you can really put anything into a frittata. Seriously. You have leftover sausage, spinach and cheese in the fridge? Slap it into a frittata. It’s the perfect dish for leftovers but also the perfect dish for simple spring flavors. This frittata has sauteed leeks and asparagus in side as well as a little goat cheese for punch. Switch up the veggies, switch up the cheese, add a little turkey sausage or smoked salmon and you can easily make this dish your own. Happy frittata making!

Spring Vegetable Frittata

Makes 1-8 inch frittata

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. asparagus, ends snapped, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 small leek, washed and thinly sliced

Zest of half a lemon

60g or 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

6 eggs (4 eggs, 2 whites or any combination)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a small fry pan, heat olive oil. Add asparagus, leeks and lemon zest and saute till the vegetables are crisp tender, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, beat eggs and egg whites with a fork till eggs are broken up but not foamy. Pour eggs into the fry pan over the vegetables. Sprinkle with the goat cheese and use a spatula to move the eggs and vegetables around in the pan. The goal is to evenly distribute the eggs, vegetables and goat cheese around the pan.

Allow the frittata to cook in the pan for about 10 minutes or until the sides have cooked and only the middle of the frittata is raw. Turn the broiler on to high and place the pan in the oven. Broil the frittata until the inside is cooked through and a knife inserted into the centre of the frittata comes out clean. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. Enjoy.

There are a couple of types of macaroons out there which can make for occasional pastry confusion. French macarons are all the rage right now and they are delightfully delicious to boot but Coconut Macaroons (note the second “o”) are old school but equally delicious. Both treats are gluten free and use egg white to bind the “doughs” together but what makes the two macaroons different, really is that the French version uses ground almonds as the base of the dough and the coconut version uses, well, coconut. Now these coconut macaroons were a bit of a pickle for me. The recipe variation here is the third one that I tested, having had fairly epic fails with the first two vintage recipes I tested. I didn’t previously eat coconut macaroons all that often but after making this recipe, I’m really not sure why. Sweet, chewy, full of coconut-ty goodness, these macaroons are a winner.

Coconut Macaroons (adapted from marthastewart.com)

Makes about 10-¼ cup sized macaroons

2 ½ cups sweetened medium flake coconut

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 egg whites

½ teaspoon vanilla paste

Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients. Using your hands (a spatula doesn’t do the job quite right), combine all the ingredients until the coconut is thoroughly moistened. Using a large cookie scoop, portion the macaroon batter onto the parchment sheets about 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the macaroons are slightly toasted on top. Allow to cool completely, about 1 hour. Store in a covered container. Enjoy.

So here’s the funny thing about this recipe. I was reading a cookbook the other day and saw a recipe for a lemon fool. I immediately thought, how fun, I’ll make a fool for April Fools… Here’s where it gets interesting, the difference between a fool and an eton mess is simple: crumbled meringue cookies. So here I am in my kitchen, whipping up some cream, folding in some lemon curd and crumbling cookies…turns out, I made Eton Mess (this is not the first time this has happened). Whose the fool now?

Lemon Eton Mess (inspired by Nigella Lawson)

Serves 4, generously

2 cups heavy cream

1-2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons limoncello (optional)

1 cup lemon curd

1 cup crumbled meringue cookies, or more if desired

In a large bowl whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Add sugar and limoncello and continue whipping till you’ve achieved stiff peaks. Gently fold lemon curd into the whipped cream until the cream is streaked with ribbons of curd. Carefully spoon “the mess” into parfait glasses or bowls. Sprinkle with desired amount of crumbled meringue. Serve cold and enjoy.

 

What makes these muffins glorious is that though they are low fat they are the moistest and most tender “healthy” muffin I’ve ever had. This version, which came out of a little bit of on the fly recipe testing, has considerably more fibre and less sugar then the original but yet I think the end result is even better.

One thing that is going to trip you up in this, admittedly, very long ingredient list, is the carrot baby food. I know. It’s weird. Why would I use carrot baby food in a grown up’s muffin? Well, a) it calls for it in the original recipe b) I think it adds a tremendous flavor and c) just because sometimes it’s good to do things that scare you. Don’t be freaked out. Just buy the baby food and embrace the deliciousness of this muffin.

Glorious Morning Glory Muffins (adapted from Great Good Food)

Makes about 16 muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup oats, not quick cooking (optional)

1 ½ cups brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon cloves

¼ cup vegetable or canola oil

½ cup applesauce or apple butter

1 egg

1 egg white

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste

2 small jars carrot baby food

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

½ cup crushed pineapple in its own juice

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with muffin cups. If you fill the cups ⅔ full, you will not need to use both pans fully.

In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flours, oats, if using, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Into the well, add the oil, applesauce or butter, eggs, vanilla, baby food, orange juice, coconut, and crushed pineapple. Carefully mix the batter until just combined. Portion the batter into the muffin cups, ½ to ⅔ full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of a couple of the muffins comes out clean. Cool for at least one hour. Enjoy.

Blood oranges are not in season for very long but my land are they lovely and delicious.

If you’ve never had blood oranges before, they are not as harshly acidic as regular oranges and have a mellow, earthy, subtly sweet flavor that is really fantastic. There are many ways to enjoy blood oranges but using this simple, boozy marinade is one of my favorites. Eat them on their own for a light dessert or over frozen yogurt to spice up a classic.

Marinated Blood Oranges (adapted from Healthy in a Hurry)

Makes two small servings

3 blood oranges, supremed

1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cointreau or other orange flavored liqueurs

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, allow to marinate for 10 minutes. If less liquid is desired, strain the oranges and serve alone or with frozen yogurt. Enjoy.

I went to the grocery store the other day to buy buttermilk and they were out. How were they out of buttermilk you ask? Well maybe everyone was making Green Velvet Cake…or not. Whatever the case, I thought perhaps I should share with you how to make your own buttermilk, just in case you’re ever standing in the grocery store staring at the empty buttermilk fridge as I was.

Homemade Buttermilk (from my Mama’s words of wisedom)

Makes one cup

1 cup milk, any percentage

Juice of half a lemon

Squeeze the lemon over the top of the milk in a measuring cup. Allow for the mixture to curdle for at least thirty seconds. Stir and use as you would store-bought buttermilk.

My friend the Queen says I need an intervention and I happen to agree. I don’t know why I did it but I decided to make red velvet cake green. I think I did it to be festive but now I just feel ashamed. I mean the Queen is right, who have I insulted more, the Irish or bakers? The only saving grace is that the cake is damn adorable, super tasty, and as green as the Emerald Isle and if I was going for festive, I think I hit it right on the head.

Green Velvet Cake (adapted from Home Baked Comforts)

Makes one-6 inch cake with leftover batter

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

⅓ cup boiling water

1 cup buttermilk

2 ½ cups plus one tablespoon all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons green gel food coloring

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter, flour and line with parchment two 6-inch cake pans.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk to combine the flour and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and boiling water. Stir to combine and allow to cool. Add the buttermilk to the cocoa mixture and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar till pale and soft, about three minutes. Add the eggs one at a time beating well and scraping the bowl after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, add the food coloring and vanilla. Beat until the batter is thoroughly mixed and the color is consistent.

With the mixer on low, add one third of the flour and half the buttermilk. Mix about thirty seconds. Add another third of the flour and the remaining buttermilk. Mix another thirty seconds. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and the baking soda. The mixture with bubble vigorously. Quickly add the liquid into the cake batter. Mix on high for about 10 seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Cool and ice with the frosting of your choice. Buttercream, Milky White Frosting or Cream Cheese Frostings would all be delicious. Enjoy.