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Saturday, 30 April 2016

A Healthy Alternative To Beer Nuts

I have a stash of these at my office. I usually crave sugar around 3pm. So to hit the spot I brew some green tea and munch on these almonds. A good way to curve your sugar craving.

You can also serve these as an appetizer with pre-dinner drinks or at a card game with the girls or guys. Just store them in an air tight container to have on hand. It really doesn't take long to make. A great healthy substitute to beer nuts.


Roasted Almonds




Roasted Almonds

Ingredients

2 tbsp.                       egg white or egg white of one egg

1 tbsp.                       vanilla extract

3 cups                       almonds

2 tbsp.                      coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey

1 tsp.                        salt

1 tsp.                       cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy, beat in the vanilla.
  3. Add almonds, stir gently to coat.
  4. Combine sugar, salt and cinnamon; add to nut mixture and stir gently to coat.
  5. Spread evenly into a greased pan.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until almonds are crisp, stirring once; cool.
Store in an airtight container.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Cherry Cheesecake Bites

This simple and decadent recipe will be a hit a your next party. I once served this at my child's birthday party and the adults ate all of them! When the kids came up from playing, there was nothing left! Thank God for the birthday cake! These little morsels have a chocolate chip cookie base which adds a little oomph to the dessert.

Cherry Cheesecake Bites



Cherry Cheesecake Bites

1 pkg.          chocolate chip cookie dough
2 pkgs.        cream cheese 8 oz ea. at room temperature
1 can           sweetened condensed milk
2 large         eggs
2 tsp            vanilla extract
1 can            cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 325 degree F. Paper line 24 muffin cups. Place one piece of cookie dough in each muffin cup.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookie has spread to edge of cup. Remove from oven.

Beat the cream cheese, condensed milk, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour about 3 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture into the cups and bake for an additional 15-18 minutes or until set. Cool. Top with cherry topping.                

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Broccoli Salad With A Twist

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The original recipe called for mayonnaise and bacon. I've modified the recipe to a more healthier side by using chicken bacon and using a greek yogurt dressing which is just as yummy. If you're not feeling it with the chicken bacon, by all means use the real deal. No worries :)

Broccoli Salad With Greek Yogurt Dressing
Broccoli Salad

1 bunch        broccoli washed and chopped
1/2                medium red onion
1/2 cup         salted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup         golden raisins (I also added some dried cranberries)
10 slices       bacon or chicken bacon (cooked and chopped)
Greek Yogurt Dressing (see below)

Wash and chop the broccoli in very small pieces. (I like the stem as well, just remove the tough outer layer). Cut up the bacon in very small pieces and fry until very crisp. Combine all ingredients.

Greek Yogurt Dressing

2 tbsp.           fresh lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1 tbsp.           white wine vinegar
1.5 tsp           sugar
2 cloves         garlic, minced
1/2 cup          greek yogurt or you can also use sour cream
2 tbsp.           extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tsp           sea salt
dash              black pepper
1 tsp             greek organo or regular oregano

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well incorporated. Slowly add the dressing to the salad and incorporate.

I usually like to refrigerate this salad for about 24 hours before serving.


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Growing Up A Foodie





As mentioned on my previous posts, I'm Canadian of Italian descent. My dad was a professional waiter who worked in the hotel industry for over 40 years. He worked at high end hotels all over Europe before immigrating to Canada. He took his profession very seriously and brought the passion home. Food and entertaining was huge in our home. From an intimate coffee get-together to huge dinner parties. We had it all! The memories that were created through these events were unforgettable.

My parents would plan for weeks the menu, drinks and d├ęcor for each event. Even for a small coffee drop in, my parents always had a liqueur on hand, a delicious treat and of course espresso!

With everything, my parents always involved the children with the event. I would set the tables and bake the desserts, my mom would do the cooking, my father would prep the barbeque, my brothers would organize the drinks. It was a family affair.

To have our guests fill our home and to share good food and laughter was priceless! I will never forget the joyful events we had that would take us into the wee hours of the morning.

I started this blog to share with you my passions about food and entertaining. I will try to mix it up a little with some of my authentic Italian recipes that were passed down to me to healthy eating and my favorite of all - baking!

Stay tuned! xo

Breakfast of Champions

My children and I try our best to cook and eat as healthy as we can during the week and allow for a guilty pleasure on the weekend. So to make our meals a little interesting during the week, I have to make the meals healthy and taste good. So I made up this breakfast meal using quinoa. As seen in my previous post I've made some delicious variations for breakfast. I hope you enjoy this recipe. It smells like apple pie!

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa by The Suburban Single Mom


Apple Cinnamon Quinoa

2 cups      water
1 cup       quinoa
2              apples cored, peeled and cubed
1 tsp        cinnamon
1/2 tsp     nutmeg
1/2 tsp     salt
1/2 cup    raisins
1/4 cup    walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp.     maple syrup
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

Boil the quinoa and apples until cooked. Remove from stove and add the raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, maple syrup and almond milk. Stir until combined. I served this with a dollop of vanilla greek yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon and walnuts.

Tasty and filling. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Risotto With Asparagus and Prosciutto

Spring has arrived! Yay! What better way to celebrate spring is to cook with spring vegetables such as asparagus. This creamy dish is nice served with a side of salad. Just a note that once cooked, add a tablespoon of cold butter straight from the fridge to intensify the creaminess of the rice. Yum!


Asparagus and Prosciutto Risotto By The Suburban Single Mom


Asparagus and Prosciutto Risotto

2 cups           aborio rice
1/2 cup         dry white wine
5 cups          warm chicken stock
1/2 bunch     asparagus (stems removed) cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2                small onion finely chopped
2 tbsp.          cold butter
1/2 cup         prosciutto finely chopped
4 tbsp.          parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp ea     salt and pepper

Blanch the asparagus until soft (about 5 minutes) then remove from heat and set aside. Sautee the chopped onion with 1 tbsp. butter until translucent. Add the rice and stir quickly. Add the white wine and let simmer.


This is what the rice looks like when the wine has evaporated. It is now time to ladle in the chicken stock.

 Once the wine has evaporated, ladle the stock in two scoops at a time. When the stock has evaporated or almost evaporated, add more broth.

Rice cooking with the chicken stock


Repeat this process until the rice has cooked. The rice texture will be firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and gently add the asparagus, chopped prosciutto, salt and pepper, 1 tbsp. cold butter then the parmesan cheese.

Serves 6

Buon Appetito!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Getting Ready For Mother's Day




Mother's Day is quickly approaching (Sunday, May 8). And what I usually like to do is host brunch at my house. I'm more of a morning person. So I will prep the buffet table the night before, set the dining room table and then wake up early the next morning to cook. I found these cute mini chalk boards (with a clothes pin backing) at the dollar store. I will be using these at the table so everyone knows where to sit.

 
I made this little sign with chalkboard paint. I bought the frame at Walmart. I dis-assembled the frame and removed the glass. I then painted one side of the glass with chalkboard paint. Once the paint has dried, voila! Instant chalkboard. What a cute accessory for your brunch!
 
Simple and inexpensive ideas to complement your event! No one has to know!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Spending Quality Time With My Daughter

 Being the girly girl that I am, playing with make up has always been a passion of mine since I was a wee girl. My mom never wore make up. The odd lipstick and perfume - nothing more. She believed that beauty came naturally. I would love going through the Avon book or look through the make up counter at the local department store.  When I was older, I took make up courses on my spare time to learn how to apply make up professionally. I just loved it!





My daughter shares the same passion. She's constantly on Youtube watching tutorials about make up application. Ask her any question, she will answer you. She loves it! So we had some girly time, and she did my eyes.



I love it! She prepped my eyes, then applied my eyeshadow.


She took her time, and was very patient with me. I was nervous and kept flinching.


The colors she used brought out the green in my eyes. We both had so much fun! It was the best mother - daughter time we had in a long time! I'm so grateful for my in house make up artist!


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Breakfast On The Go!

We all live busy lives. Leaving in a rush in the morning to work, driving the kids to school, going to class, etc. etc. etc. Just because our lives are busy doesn't mean we should sacrifice our health. Going through the drive through for a quick fix is no excuse. I usually make this parfait the night before so there's no excuse. I used flavored cottage cheese. If you're not a fan of cottage cheese,  greek yogurt is also a yummy substitute.


Use a mason jar to quickly pack this breakfast parfait on the go. I used fresh (or frozen) berries to make this. Layer the cottage cheese (yogurt), a layer of granola, then a layer of fruit and repeat. It's that simple! I used strawberries and blueberries and vanilla flavored cottage cheese! Yum!


I found these really cute mini chalkboards at the dollar store! OMG! The endless possibilities for these cute and inexpensive chalkboard clippies. I used an elastic band around the jar to fasten the spoon and clipped this tag on the jar! Enjoy! xo

Friday, 22 April 2016

Guacamole Dip


This dip is so delicious served with tortilla chips, tostitos, on a piece of toast, multigrain cracker or veggies. I love serving several dips as a pre-dinner nibble when I am hosting an event.




Guacamole Dip

3 ripe avocados
1/2 small onion
juice of one lime
6 cherry tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. cilantro, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Remove the flesh of the avocado and place in medium mixing bowl. Mash with the backside of a fork until smooth. Add the onion, tomato, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir until blended.

Enjoy!




Thursday, 21 April 2016

Oatmeal Date Breakfast Cookies

You are not going to believe that these cookies are sugar free and healthy too! I made a batch last night and guess what? There's nothing left! Gone! 1 had the privilege of only tasting one cookie. The dates, raisins and maple syrup add to the sweetness of this cookie. Soft and chewy and just the right amount of spice. A perfect breakfast on the go or for an afternoon snack (if it lasts until the afternoon).





Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, line baking sheet with parchment paper

1/4 cup      dates pitted and chopped
3 tbsp.       coconut oil
1                egg
1 tsp.         vanilla
3 tbsp.       maple syrup
1/2 cup      quinoa flour
1/3 cup      all purpose flour
1/4 cup      rolled oats
1/2 tsp.      each of baking powder and baking soda
1/2 tsp.      cinnamon
1/4 tsp.      each of nutmeg and sea salt
1/2 cup      raisins

In a bowl whisk together the flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and raisins. In a food processor, puree dates, coconut oil, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla. add to flour mixture and stir until combined.

Drop by the tablespoon and keep approximately 3 inches apart.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes.  Let cool.

Yield: 18 cookies



Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Old School Munchies

 
 
Dropped by my parents house the other day just to see how they were doing. My uncle and aunt were over. All four of them were having a game of cards. The snacks my mom was serving brought me back to my childhood days.  The snacks served were what I call peasant food. Food they grew up on back home.

Pictured below, my mom served mini taralli, flavored with white wine. Lupini beans, dried figs that were cut in half and stuffed with walnuts. The dates were also split in half, pitted, stuffed with goat cheese and topped with an almond.

With the figs and dates, serve warm. Just place it in the oven just to warm through.

I must comment on the dates. The thought of sweet and savoury totally turns me off. But with this combination, the flavors balance. The sweet date offsets the savoury goat cheese.

Let me tell you, I cannot stop at one! So addicting! And with a glass of wine, even better!

Toss the chips and peanuts and try this for a change.

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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Bocconcini Salad

Spring has sprung here in Canada - finally! We had snow last week and this week we have hit double digit temperatures! To celebrate spring, I made this salad for dinner last night to complement the roasted chicken. Light, easy and delicious, my kids crave for this dish believe it or not!

 

This recipe is quite easy. Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Add sliced cucumber and mini bocconcini. Add salt, black pepper, fresh or dried basil and extra virgin olive oil. That's it! So tasty!

Cranberry Orange Quinoa For Breakfast





Now that I am getting older, healthy eating has become a regiment in my household. The children also have changed their eating habits as they have found that eating healthy makes them feel and look better.

Steel cut oats has become the latest breakfast craze. I love steel cut oats don't get me wrong, but sometimes you need change.  I've stepped it up a notch by using quinoa pronounced (ki nu a) in this recipe.

Cranberry-Orange Quinoa

1 cup         quinoa

3 cups        water

1 tbsp.       unsalted butter

1/2 tsp       sea salt

1                 zest of an orange

1                 juice of an orange

1/2 cup      dried cranberries

1/4 cup      almonds

1/2 cup      vanilla almond milk or cow's milk

2 tbsp.        maple syrup



Sautee the quinoa with butter until lightly golden.
 
 
Add the water and let boil until cooked. Add the salt to the boiling water.
 
 
 
While the quinoa is cooking, soak the cranberries with the orange juice. This will plump up the cranberries.
 
 
 
Once the quinoa has fully cooked, remove from heat and add the almond milk, cranberries with the juice, maple syrup and chopped almonds. For an extra touch, add a dollop of greek yogurt.
 
Refrigerate leftover and reheat the next day.
 

 
 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Motivation Monday

Set your intentions today to do a little something for yourself! I know that I always look after everyone else but myself. We're going to change that! We need to learn to love ourselves! Not in a conceited manner, but to learn self love. Love yourself for who you are! Look in the mirror and affirm that you're beautiful! That you are worthy.







Take a half hour or an hour for yourself. Even more! Soak yourself in a salt bath. Go for a manicure, a walk or meditate! Now that the weather is getting nicer, take your favorite book and read outside - no excuses! You deserve it! Now make it happen! xo



Death By Chocolate






This recipe by far my go to when pleasing a crowd. You can serve in glasses like I did here or in a trifle bowl. When there's an event I'm invited to, the host/hostess always asks me to bring this along.

Skor Trifle

1                   Chocolate cake mix (or your own) prepared
1/3 cup         Kahlua liqueur (or sweetened black coffee)
3 pkgs          Instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 cups    skor or heath chocolate (I always use Skor)
4 cups           Sweetened Whipped Cream

Make holes, using a fork, all over top of the baked cake. Drizzle the Kahlua over top. Let stand 10 minutes. Chop the cake into small pieces.

Layer the pudding
 
Add the chocolate bits
 
Then the whipped cream and repeat.
 
Chill.
 
Serves 20
 
ENJOY!
         

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Lunch on the fly

Tt seems like there's not enough hours in the day sometimes to get all my stuff done. So making a meal sometimes just doesn't happen. So, for lunch I made this quick and easy meal before running out. I lightly toasted some fresh olive bread from my local bakery. Sliced a bit of tomato, added salt and pepper and topped it with sliced bocconcini cheese. I then drizzled extra virgin olive oil. It's that easy!

Lemon Chia Loaf



This delicious and moist loaf will be a perfect start to your day. You can serve this for breakfast with a dollop of vanilla greek yogurt or call your friends over and serve this with a nice cup of coffee or tea.

Lemon Chia Loaf

1 1/2 cups    all-purpose flour
1/4 cup        almond flour
1/4 cup        chia seeds
1 tsp            baking powder
1/2               tsp salt
1 cup           granulated sugar
1 cup           plain yogurt
3 large         eggs
1/3 cup        vegetable oil
2 tbsp.         lemon zest
2 tbsp.         lemon juice
1 tsp            vanilla (I used limoncello liquor) for that extra lemony flavor

Mix together flour, almond meal, chia seeds, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Whisk the sugar, yogurt, eggs, oil, lemon zest, juice and vanilla until well blended. Incorporate the flour mixture and blend well.

Scrape batter into a greased 8x4 inch loaf pan.

Bake in preheated 325 degrees oven for about 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

A delicious and healthy alternative to the pound cake.



Saturday, 16 April 2016

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Parfait





Healthy eating has become a lifestyle in our home. The children and I try our best to eat healthy all week. For breakfast I have been making this parfait made with cottage cheese. Before you cringe, I must say this is so delicious! Nordica (Gaylea) has introduced creamed flavored cottage cheese! I'm not a fan of cottage cheese but I do enjoy this!

1 (113g) container of plain smooth cottage cheese
1 (113g) container of smooth cottage cheese in lemon
10 unsalted almonds
1/3 blueberries




I incorporated the plain and lemon flavored cottage cheese so it's not as sweet. Layer the cottage cheese, almonds and blueberries for a delicious, healthy breakfast. If you're in a rush, create this parfait in a mason jar so you can pack and go.

I love this especially in the morning. The lemon refreshes and cleanses your mouth.

Enjoy!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Dinner In a Hurry

Last night it was a "ME" night. I had a class to attend and needed to eat something quickly. I found this flatbread at the grocery store that I absolutely love! It's called artisan thin pizza crust by Stonefire. This pack that I purchased is a pack of 2 stone oven baked crust. It's good to have on hand for nights like last night.

 
 
I wanted something light to dress the pizza with. So I spread the bread with a pesto sauce, placed oven roasted chicken pieces, sliced bocconcini and sliced cherry tomato.
 


Baked the personalized pizza on a preheated pizza stone at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.



And there you have it! A delicious personalized pizza in less than 1/2 hour. This pizza for me is quite big so I tend to eat about half of it. You can serve this for dinner for your family with a soup and salad.



 
 

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

This is my all time favorite banana bread recipe It's the best and easiest you will ever make! I usually freeze my ripe bananas in baggies to save for banana bread.



3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
3 shots rum (optional)
7-8 bananas

Preheat oven to 325. Butter two loaf pans, Mix all dry ingredients together. Mix eggs, oil and bananas together. Combine the flour mixture with the banana mixture and pour into pans. Bake for 1 hour or until inserted toothpick comes out clean, let cool, enjoy!

A great lunch box snack!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Suburban Mom is Now on Twitter

Please join me on Twitter. I can be found @suburban_mommy on Twitter!


https://twitter.com/suburban_mommy
@suburban_mommy


I would love to connect with you!

Laura
xo

Kitty Chronicles

As mentioned in my previous post, our cat Tiffany has been a true blessing to our family. She has brought in so much happiness and joy into our hearts. When we brought her home from the shelter, we all made a decision that she would become an indoor cat. Our property backs onto natural green space with a lot of wild animals. The odds of her being preyed upon was very high. We didn't want to take that chance. But we have windows! She's constantly staring out the window making these really weird noises. She sounds like a goat! She trembles and has little mini fits.



When we check in on her we see that those pesky birds are teasing the shit out of her! OMG! Not to mention those bratty squirrels!




We have to pull her away from the window and calm her down. Our little chickita is being teased by the neighborhood animals! Our poor baby!

But that's life and we will only love her more!

Until next time! xo

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Sunday's Best

Well when I was growing up,  Sundays were a big deal in my family. It was family day. We celebrated Family Day every Sunday. It was a time of rest. The time to spend with the family and the day that my mother would treat us with homemade pasta! Nothing beats homemade pasta. It does take a little time to make but if you slot some time once a week I think your family deserves it. One of my favorite dishes is gnocchi.  I'm sharing with you my mother's recipe. My mother and I have tweaked it a little bit to add a bit of sweet potato in it as a healthy alternative. If you don't like sweet potato use all potato.


Nonna Lidia's Sweet Potato Gnocchi


3 potatoes
1 small sweet potato
Both combined weighing about 2 pounds. If you do not like sweet potato then use all potato

1 Egg
1 tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour

Boil the potatoes in salted water until fully cooked, remove from heat. Drain water from pot and carefully peel the skin from the potato. Rinse the potato and place in bowl. Place potato in ricer into another bowl.


Once the potatoes have gone through the ricer, add 1 tsp. salt and the egg.



Stir until incorporated.


Place the flour on a clean working surface. Add the potato mixture on the flour mixture and slowly incorporate the potato mixture with the flour until a soft dough forms.



slowly add the flour until soft dough forms
 
 
 

Add more flour if needed as you knead the dough..


The dough should be nice and smooth.

Now it's ready to cut the gnocchi into strips.

Roll into a 1/2" rope.



Cut on the diagonal (about 3/4")




Place a clean tea towel on a baking sheet and sprinkle with flour.



Place the gnocchi on the baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with flour.


On your stove, boil salted water. We add about half a tsp of salt to the water. Once the water has boiled, drop the gnocchi into the water. Stir gently. Once all the gnocchi has popped to the surface, remove the gnocchi with a drainable spoon and place onto your serving platter.


Add your favorite tomato sauce and gently incorporate.

Serve with parmesan cheese.

Approx 6 servings.