homemade soup for a rainy day

It was another rainy day and L'il E was a tired baby after a weekend away at Nana and Papa's so he napped while I was busy in the kitchen. I made a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins and a pot of cream of broccoli soup (yum!). I love having portions of homemade soup in the freezer.

Itching for some homemade soup too?

Here's what you need:

  • 4 cups broccoli florets (2 heads of broccoli)
  • 1.5 cups veg stock
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup grated aged cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • salt and pepp to taste

Then you:

  1. Cook broccoli until tender in boiling water, drain.
  2. Add veg stock to cooked broccoli and puree in a food processor.
  3. In a pot on medium heat mix butter, flour, and coconut milk and cheese until bubbling.
  4. Add broccoli puree to milk mixture and stir until heated through.

Serve with warm baguette and cheese on a cold rainy day.


May 16, 2011 — Alanna Banks

chewy peanut butter cookies

I recently swapped cookbooks with my neighbour Daphne - I borrowed her Get It Ripe: A Fresh Take on Vegan Cooking and Living"" in exchange for my fave Grazing: Portable Snacks and Finger Food for Anytime, Anywhere"". Great idea right?!

Now for the record I'm not vegan, but as I was flipping through the pages I decided to challenge myself to a week of no meat. It was so inspiring to see all of these veggie recipes that I just had to give some of them a try. I kept fish on the menu because I'm still nursing L'il E and I think I would fall over and die if I went exclusively veg. So it's been two weeks and I'm still challenging myself (I'm loving it actually). This won't be a forever thing, but for now it's a right now thing and I'm feeling great.

Anyway, back to the cookbook; it was recommended that I try the recipe for chewy peanut butter cookies and they are ah-mazing! No sugar or butter = no guilt (right?!). Try them yourself!

You'll need:

  • 2 cups spelt flour (I used 1 cup white and 1 cup whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (I know weird, but you can't taste it)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I'm out so didn't use it)
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts (didn't have any, but it's optional)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (a must!)

Then you:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Whisk flour, salt and baking soda together. Mix in the peanut butter, syrup, oil and vanilla until you don't see anymore flour. Fold in peanuts and chocolate chips.
  3. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet and press down on them gently with a fork.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes and let cool.

Yummy and guilt-free!

May 06, 2011 — Alanna Banks

fresh produce delivered right to your door

Image source

Most of the local farmers markets in Toronto are winding down  for the season and that means no more fresh fruit and veggies until next Spring (sad face).  Fortunately there are some fabulous small businesses that deliver the good stuff right to you door!

Wanigan Fruits and Vegetables is a great little company based in Brampton that delivers boxes of seasonal and organic produce. You can choose from an a la carte menu of items or you can get a suprise box (they call it a Wanigan) on a weekly basis. The price is right (range from $25-$54 for a box depending on size) and the fruit and veg are delicious! The best part is, you don't really know what you're getting so you get try items you wouldn't normally pick out at the grocery store.

Try it out and let your imagination go in the kitchen.

October 29, 2010 — Alanna Banks

would you like fries with that?

If you were to ask me what my one vice is I'd have to say my love for chips and fries (love the salty snacks!) In fact my love for chips is so deep that I once gave them up for 40 days just to see if I could do it (suffered major withdrawal symptoms, but did it). Anyway, last night I had a hankering for fries to accompany my western sandwich and normally I would make my own, but I'll admit I was feeling lazy, so I picked some up at Chippy's. Honestly, they're fries aren't as good as mine (I know they're Toronto's Best Fish & Chip shop). So here let me share my recipe with y'all. My mouth is already watering!

You'll need:

  • 3-5 potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt

Here's what you do:

  1. Chop potatoes into chunky sticks and pat dry with paper towel
  2. Toss them in a metal baking pan and place in oven while it's preheating to 450F (this step sucks out the moisture)
  3. Once the oven is preheated pour a tablespoon of olive oil over the potatoes and toss them around (you want just enough to slightly coat them, too much oil is bad and results in greasy fries, yuck!)
  4. Let them bake for about 25-30 minutes until nice and crispy and be sure to continually check on them and stir them up to avoid sticking
  5. When they're golden brown pull them out of the oven, toss with salt and pepper or any seasoning you like


October 13, 2010 — Alanna Banks
Tags: food recipes yum

pumpkin chocolate chip squares

My contribution to our Thanksgiving feast is dessert and rather than making the same old pumpkin pie I decided to switch things up and make pumpkin chocolate chip squares (yum!). Those that love the spicy goodness of pumpkin pie will be satisfied and all the chocolate lovers will get their fix (aren't I thoughtful?).

If you're scrambling to make a yummy dessert for your Thankgiving dinner try out this recipe from The Stop's Good Food For All: Seasonal Recipes from a Community Garden (love this cookbook!)

Here's what you need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp each nutmeg, ground cloves and ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (or fresh if you're up for it)
  • 1 pkg (340g) semi sweet chocolate chips

Here's what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9x13'' baking pan.
  2. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients except for the sugar and chocolate chips.
  3. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth, beat in egg and vanilla until combined, then add pumpkin puree.
  4. Drop mixing speed to low, add in dry ingredients until just combined, then fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread batter in baking pan and bake for 40 minutes.
  6. Cool and cut into squares.

Yum! Happy baking!

October 10, 2010 — Alanna Banks

soft ginger cookies

I love anything with ginger and this recipe I have for ginger cookies is always a big hit. Since I missed Glee (thought it was on at 9:00 p.m. boo!) I thought I would share this recipe with y'all so you can enjoy in your warm cozy houses as the cool weather creeps in.

This recipe comes from one of my fave baking books The Clueless Baker: Baking from Scratch by Evelyn Raab.

You'll need:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Mix butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg, water and molasses and continue mixing until smooth. In another bowl stir flour, ginger, baking soda and cinnamon together. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and beat until everything is combined into a soft dough. Roll into a big ball, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge while you clean up your mess. Once everything is cleaned up, preheat oven to 350 F and dump some sugar onto a plate (you're going to roll your dough balls in this shortly). Pull the dough out of the fridge and start rolling the dough into 1-1.5 inch little balls. Roll the dough balls in the sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes (I bake for 9 minutes). Pull them out at 9 minutes. They will look soft and like they're not finished but trust me they are (trust!). Let them cool for a couple of minutes and then move them to a plate (they will firm up!) This recipe makes 4 dozen so I hope you're hungry!

Happy baking!

September 21, 2010 — Alanna Banks

sara's punch

I know I promised a stiff one, but since this weekend is officially the LAST weekend of summer (sob!) I just had to post this deelish punch courtesy of my friend Sara.

So dust off the patio furniture and don your sweaters because it won't be long before we're sipping hot cocoa with marshmallows (and rum!) as we hibernate indoors.

For Sara’s Punch you'll need:

  • 5c strawberries
  • 2c fresh pineapple
  • Simple Syrup (make simple syrup with 4c water and 3c white sugar, bring to boil then simmer for 8 minutes and let cool).
  • 2c Pineapple Juice (more or less)
  • 2c Orange Juice (more or less)
  • 1c Lemon Juice (more or less)
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish
  • Champagne

Pour half the simple syrup  over the fruit (then add more depending on the tartness of the fruit and juices). Add 1.5 cups each of the fruit juices then taste, it will be sweet and concentrated but if it’s out of balance (too much pineapple taste or too much orange juice) adjust with the other. The concentrate should taste good, but strong. Add mint leaves. Keep this mix in a tall glass jug with a stirrer and give it a good stir each time you use it. Fill glasses halfway with fruit mixture then fill with champagne. Done!

Sara says if you hate having fun, you can use soda water instead of champers.

Delish (and good for parties!)

Enjoy the last weekend of summer.

September 17, 2010 — Alanna Banks

cucumber kowito

Summer is NOT over yet, so get your cocktail glasses and pitchers out and grab a seat on your back patio!

This recipe (thanks Sara!) came in during the Summer Sipper contest and while it didn't beat out the Pineapple Sage drink it is still worth a post and sounds deelish (cucumber is just for garnish)!

Here's what you need (makes a pitcher):

  • 500 ml Soda Water
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Kiwis
  • 1 can frozen limemade (Minute Maid or whatever)
  • 2 lemons
  • Sugar Cane (optional)
  • 400 ml white rum
  • Ice

How to get happy:

Step One: Muddle kiwi and mint and squeeze those lemons into the pitcher (avoid letting lemon pits drop in). Step two: Add the remaining ingredients to the pitcher with the ice. Step three: Stir. If using the sugar cane you can use as a big stir stick for the pitcher.

Enjoy you little hooligans.

August 27, 2010 — Alanna Banks

hungry for hummus

I just had to have some hummus and crackers as an after work snack today (so hungry!), so as soon as I got in the door I was at the counter whizzing up some homemade hummus. I always make it from scratch; the store bought stuff just isn't good enough, plus making it yourself is so much cheaper!

If you have a hankering for hummus too and want to try it out here's my recipe:

You need:

  • 1 can chick peas
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice (real or bottled)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Plain yogurt
  • Salt and pepper
  • Peanut butter (optional)
  • Food processor or blender

Chop garlic clove in food processor until finely minced, add can of chick peas, a few glugs of olive oil, a tbsp plain yogurt, salt and pep, three or four squirts of lemon juice and a tsp of peanut butter (if you're using) whiz up in food processor until creamy. You may need to add extra olive oil if it's too dry and extra lemon juice to taste. Voila! It's that easy. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, should be good for a week (if it lasts that long).

I heart hummus.

August 17, 2010 — Alanna Banks

pineapple sage caipirinha

Image source: garrypalm.com

I've been out in freezing cold Calgary this week and I need a tropical drink to warm me up. Fortunately Simon (winner from this week's contest) wrote in with a recipe for the Pineapple Sage Caipirinha (say what?) a more advanced drink than usual, but I dare you to try it!

Here's what you need:

  • 2 oz. Cachaca  (you can find it at the LCBO it's made from unrefined sugar cane and is comparable to rum)
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • lime
  • fresh sage leaves (6-10)
  • 1/2 oz.  simple syrup or you can just use sugar
  • shaker

Simon says:

Muddle lime, sage leaves and sugar, add pineapple juice, Cachca and ice, shake and serve over ice in a rock glass. A bit of 7Up or soda water for bubbles is a nice touch too.

Enjoy your beach-y drink this weekend. Can't wait to get back to Toronto's hot and humid weather.

Bottoms up!

August 13, 2010 — Alanna Banks