Lavender Pear Almond Muffins

I love a good pumpkin muffin around fall, don’t get me wrong, but last week I decided to take a great muffin recipe and shake it up with other fall flavours instead! Pear is a subtle, but oh-so-delicious, flavour that pairs beautifully with the cherry-like aroma of toasted almonds and the herbaceous, floral flavour of lavender. These are absolutely delicious hot out of the oven and make a great on-the-go breakfast. Not to mention how sparkly and pretty they look with their crust of granulated sugar on the top. For a sweet fall treat that doesn’t centre around pumpkin or cinnamon, look no further!

Lavender-Pear-Almond-Muffins-Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1.5 Tsp Food Grade Lavender Essential Oil
  • 1Tbsp Honey
  • 1/2 Tsp Almond Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Unsalted Almonds
  • 1 Can Pears (Chopped Into 1/4″ Pieces)

Lavender-Pear-Almond-Muffins-Recipe

DIRECTIONS

1 // Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line muffin tin with cupcake foils or grease with a bit of butter or cooking oil.

2 // Mix the dry ingredients together (apart from the sugar) in a large mixing bowl until well blended.

3 // In a medium sized bowl, used an electric mixer or fork to cream the butter, sugar, honey and extracts together until they have the consistency of fluffy snow.

4 // Add your eggs to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until light and creamy.

5 // Gradually your dry mixture to your creamed butter, eggs and sugar. Add your mix and mix with a spoon. The batter should be a little bit lumpy.

6 // Open your canned pears, drain them, and chop them into 1/4″ pieces. Mix them into your batter until they are evenly distributed.

7 // Scoop your batter into your muffin tin – each cup should be 3/4 full so they have enough space to rise while they are baking.

8 // Sprinkle the tops of your muffins with extra granulated sugar to create a delicious, sugary crust.

9 // Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Remove from the over, let them cool and enjoy!

These are truly the coziest fall treat and are the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of coffee or fragrant mug of tea. A little butter really makes these flavours sing, so don’t be afraid to use the real thing (let’s face it, margarine never made anything better). Let me know what you think about this recipe! If you love lavender and like your desserts on the floral and not-too-sweet side, I have a feeling this will be a hit with you.

xoxo,

Alicia

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The Perfect Vegetarian Power Salad That Will Actually Fill You Up

I eat a pretty healthy diet in general, but lately I’ve been trying to clean up my diet even more. As a vegetarian, I eat a ton of nutrient-rich veggies and fiber-filled grains. On the other side of the coin, I also eat too many starchy carbs like beans and lentils. Don’t get me wrong, these foods have a ton of health benefits, but considering they make up a huge part of my diet and with all the talk about how we should be eating fewer carbs, I wanted to replace the starch with a few more leafy salads. The problem is, 9 times out of 10, I am left unsatisfied and bored after eating a salad and find myself hungry and reaching for salty, carb-filled snacks not long after. After a little bit of trial and error, I realized the key elements of a satiating salad: protein, fiber, fat and a variety of textures. This delicious salad is packed full or protein-rich tofu, calcium-filled feta, fibrous asparagus and a plethora of flavours and textures. It’s also super quick to prepare and can be made in large batches, making it an awesome option for Sunday meal prep. It’s low-carb as well, so it’s perfect for those on the keto diet. Say goodbye to dullsville piles of leaves and hello to flavour and healthy fats and plant-based protein.

INGREDIENTS

Salad

    1/2 Block Of Extra Firm Tofu
    1 Cup Of Mixed Greens (I like a mix of kale, spinach and arugula.)
    1-2 Tbsp Of Crumbled Feta Cheese
    1/2 Cubed Avocado
    1 Cup Chopped Asparagus
    1 Handful Of Chopped Cilantro
  • Dressing

    • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
    • 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp Lime Or Lemon Juice
    • 1 Tsp Minced Ginger
    • 1 Tsp Sea Salt
    • Herbs To Taste (I like oregano and rosemary.)

    DIRECTIONS

    1 // Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Celsius.

    2 // Mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl with a whisk. Set aside.

    3 // Chop the vegetables (apart from the asparagus) and toss in a bowl.

    4 // Drain the liquid from the tofu package and chop the tofu into bite sized pieces. Sauté with olive oil, salt and pepper until golden brown (approximately five minutes).

    5 // Cut the bottom end off of all of the asparagus and place on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until tender.

    6 // Once cool, add the asparagus and tofu to the rest of the salad and toss while slowly adding the dressing.

    7 // Garnish with extra cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Serve and enjoy!

    Enjoy your healthy and delicious salad! I promise you won’t be hungry in half an hour. Try it and let me know what you think!

    xoxo,

    Alicia

    Homemade Strawberry Ice-cream

    As we are getting into fall, you would think I would be craving cozy meals like soup, stew or chili. While I love a comfort meal on a brisk autumn day, ice-cream is season-less and this strawberry ice-cream has my mouth watering whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. Here’s how to make it!

    YOU’LL NEED

    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 Cups Of Cream
    • 2 Cups Of Whole Milk
    • 1.5 Cups Of Sugar
    • 1 Package Of Strawberries
    • 1.5 Teaspoon Of Vanilla
    • Drop Or Two Of Red Food Colouring (Optional)

    DIRECTIONS

    1 // First things first, cut off the stems of your berries and chop them up into small cubes (approx. 1/4 inch pieces). They don’t have to be exact, just small enough so that they are easily mashed and don’t appear as giant chunks in your ice-cream.

    2 // Use a fork or potato masher to mash your berries into a jam-like consistency. They should be soupy so that the strawberry juice is able to effectively flavour your milk and cream.

    3 // Measure out your milk and cream into a large bowl and add your strawberries to the mixture. Whisk until the berries are completely incorporated into the base of your ice-cream.

    4 // Add the sugar, food colouring and vanilla to your ice-cream mixture and whisk for four minutes or until completely blended. The milk should be a little bit frothy at this point. For those who are weary of sugar, feel free to experiment with other natural sweeteners. The flavour won’t be exactly the same, but the strawberries and vanilla really are the stars of the show, so don’t be afraid to play and adjust the sweetness to your taste. I just find that the cup and a half of sugar really make the flavour of the berries pop.

    5 // Pour your ice-cream mixture into your machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

    6 // Once frozen, either serve or store in an airtight container if you would prefer your ice-cream to have a firmer consistency. It has a soft-serve texture when it’s fresh out of the ice-cream machine. Freezing it for a few more hours (or better yet, over night) gives it a texture that is more like the traditional ice-cream we are all used to.

    7 // Enjoy! It has a fresh berry flavour that is a little more tart than store-bought versions. It pairs well with a touch of coconut whipped cream, berry compote, chocolate syrup and/or desiccated coconut.

    Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

    xoxo,

    Alicia

    Earl Grey Ice-Cream

    Over the past couple of years cooking has become a growing passion of mine. I love playing with different flavours and techniques and, while I am by no means a professional chef, it’s extremely satisfying for me to see my skills developing. Last Christmas my boyfriend got me an ice-cream maker and I’ve had an absolute blast trying out different flavour combinations. Red velvet, salted caramel chocolate, orange and white chocolate – I can’t stop coming up with ideas. One of my most recent flavours was earl grey. I made it this past weekend and I was amazed at how easy it was and how delicious the finished flavour was. It’s zingy yet creamy with a touch of lemon and caramel along with that unmistakable bergamot flavour we all know and love. This is an elegant dessert that is delightful on its own, but goes especially well with cozy, spicy desserts – for example, poached pear cake or apple pie. Are you addicted to both tea and ice-cream like me? Give this tasty confection a whirl.

    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 Cups Whipping Cream
    • 2 Cups Homogenized Milk
    • 1.5 Cups Granulated Sugar
    • 1 Tsp Caramel Extract
    • 1.5 Tsp Grated Lemon Zest or Lemon Extract
    • 4 Earl Grey Tea Bags

    DIRECTIONS

    1 // In a large saucepan, add your milk and cream with your four tea bags. Heat up the milk until you can see that the tea has dispersed and infused with your milk/cream mixture.

    2 // Pour your milk/cream mixture into a large bowl and add your sugar and extracts. The lemon and caramel extracts are optional, but they really enhance the sweetness and citrus freshness of the earl grey. With a whisk, blend well until it all gets a bit frothy and everything is well mixed.

    3 // Wait until your earl grey ice-cream mixture is completely cool and then freeze it according to the manufacturers instructions.

    4 // Once your ice-cream has finished churning, scoop it into an airtight container (it should be the consistency of soft serve) and put it into the freezer until it’s as firm as regular ice-cream (approximately 5 hours, although overnight is best).

    5 // Pile it high, add some caramel sauce and shredded coconut (or whatever your favourite add-ons are), dig in, and enjoy!

    Have you made homemade ice-cream before? What’s your favourite flavour and recipe? Sweet talk me in the comments!

    xoxo,

    Alicia

    Sweet Potato Parmesan Gnocchi

    I truly love to cook. It’s creative, productive and there’s something so meditative about working with my hands. Not to mention how rewarding it is to be able to sit down to a delicious homemade meal that I know I made from scratch. I’m trying to experiment a bit more in the kitchen and lately I’ve been making a ton of homemade pasta. While I love using my pasta maker to make fresh fettuccine, it’s quite a time consuming process and sometimes I just want to be able to whip up something that tastes like I slaved for hours without having to actually spend a lifetime at my stove. This decadent recipe for Sweet Potato Parmesan gnocchi tastes and looks fancy, but is incredibly easy and quick to make. Instead of reaching for that prepackaged, preservative-filled gnocchi at your local grocery store, flour up your counter, roll up your sleeves and see for yourself just how easy (and delicious) it is to make Gnocchi yourself! Pour yourself a delicious glass of Pinot Noir and get cracking.

    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 Medium Sized Yams
    • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
    • 1/4 Cup Powdered Parmesan
    • 1/2 TSP Salt
    • 2 TBSP Garlic Powder
    • 1/2 TSP Sage
    • 1 Large Egg

    DIRECTIONS

    1 // Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

    2 // Cut up and peel your yams. Place them on a baking sheet drizzled in olive oil with a touch of salt and pepper and then bake them for 30 minutes.

    3 // Wait for the yams to cook completely and then mash them until they are smooth without any lumps. You can use a potato masher or fork, but a ricer works best.

    4 // Add the spices, Parmesan, salt and egg into the mashed yams and mix well.

    5 // Gradually add your flour bit by bit until you have a soft, pliable ball of dough. If your dough is too dry, add a touch or olive oil. If your dough is too moist, dust it in flour.

    6 // On a floured surface, roll out your dough into several skinny tubes and then slice into pieces that are about 1 inch thick. Use a fork to create ridges on your freshly cut gnocchi. This is not a total necessity but it will allow whichever sauce or flavourings you use to better adhere to your gnocchi.

    7 // Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add your gnocchi. Cook them for a couple of minutes or until they float to the surface of the water. Scoop them out with a ladle and place them into a serving bowl.

    8 // Toss your freshly made gnocchi with your favorite sauce and serve. I like it with just a touch of butter or olive oil with mushrooms sautéed in garlic, white wine and sage. With this recipe, simplicity shines and I love just letting the flavour of the gnocchi take center stage.

    9 // Enjoy your delicious gnocchi! How easy was that? Seriously, you don’t have to be an expert chef to create scrumptious, homemade gnocchi and it’s sooo much better than what you can buy prepackaged at the store. There is truly no comparison.

    If you try this recipe let me know how it goes! I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be hooked.

    xoxo,

    Alicia

    Double Chocolate Butter Scotch Chip Cookies

    There are so many amazing desserts out there that it’s hard for me to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose, I would have to pick chocolate chip cookies. Let’s face it, it’s hard to beat this comforting classic. Unless, of course, you not only pack them full of extra chocolate chips, but also white chocolate and butterscotch chips! This recipe is what chocolate/caramel dreams are made of. They are chewy and soft and are jam packed with chocolate goodness. They are also incredibly easy to make. Even if you’re a total baking novice, you’ll be able to whip these up in no time without a problem! So go ahead. Pour yourself a glass of milk (or merlot), preheat that oven and get to baking! These are seriously too good to not make.

    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 1/4 Cups Flour
    • 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
    • 1 Cup Butter (Or Coconut Oil)
    • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
    • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
    • 1 Tsp Salt
    • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
    • 1/2 Tsp Caramel Extract
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1/2 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips
    • 1/2 Cup White Chocolate Chips
    • 1/2 Cup Butterscotch Chips

    DIRECTIONS

    1 // Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

    2 // Measure our your flour, baking soda, and salt and mix together in large bowl.

    3 // In a separate bowl, cream the butter (or coconut oil) with the sugar. Add the eggs, caramel extract and vanilla and mix well, either with a fork (it’s a workout) or an electric mixer. Beat until the mixture looks fluffy or like snow.

    4 // Add your dry ingredients to your butter and sugar mixture and mix thoroughly. Slowly add the chocolate and butterscotch chips and combine until they are distributed through the dough.

    5 // Use an ice cream scoop to spoon out balls of dough and place them about 2 inches apart on a greased baking tray or a baking sheet lined with waxed parchment paper.

    6 // Bake the cookies for approximately ten minutes. The cookies should be golden and crispy around the edges but soft in the centre.

    7 // Cool the cookies before transferring them to an airtight container where they will keep for about 1 week.

    If you try making these cookies, let me know what you think of them! They are definitely decadent and are truly a chocoholic’s dream.

    xoxo,

    Alicia

    5 Fantastic Subscriptions That Are Totally Worth It

    I’ll admit that, while I love nature, I’m a total city girl who loves the many amenities of urban living. Prior to this year the only kind of subscription I paid for was Netflix and for monthly issues of Elle Canada. The past year has been a revelation and I have discovered 5 game-changing subscription services that make everything from getting ready in the morning to cooking dinner, so much easier and more pleasurable. Whether you’re looking for convenience or a little bit of luxury, these services are sure to elevate your daily life. 

    1 // My Stylish French Box

    If you’re like me and go wild for all things french, then this lovely box of treasures is going to give you goosebumps. Sign up and every few months you will be sent a parcel filled with fashion, beauty, home decor and lifestyle items by gorgeous french designers from all over the country. It costs a pretty penny, but when you consider how many luxury gifts you get per box and how useful each item is, it’s totally worth it. You can even gift a box to a friend! If you want to live like the french, and who doesn’t, then this is the subscription service of your dreams.

    2 // Naturebox

    Healthy and yummy snacks delivered to your door? I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a dream come true to me! I don’t snack a ton during the day but I like to have a pick me up or two while I am work and after a workout to keep my energy levels high and my mood pleasant. Because hanger is a real thing my friends! Each snack is made without artificial flavours or ingredients and there are over 100 options. Go nuts – literally and figuratively (the salt and pepper cashews are delish).

    3 // ScentBird

    I’m a fragrance fanatic and so when I discovered Scentbird I was hooked. For only $14.95 a month they send you a small bottle of perfume so you can see if you love it and want a full-sized bottle. Each month you get to choose the perfume you want to be sent and they have options from some of the biggest brands and designers – think Dolce and Gabbana and Armani – as well as more obscure indie brands. For the cost of a sandwich and coffee, you’ll be sent high-end perfumes bottles. And these aren’t the tiny sample vials you are given along with a purchase at a department store. Each bottle comes with 8ml of fragrance and so if you spray modestly they can last ages! It really is the subscription service of my olfactory dreams. 

    4 // Ipsy

    I can honestly say that since I’ve started my subscription with Ipsy (early spring last year), I have rarely had to go out and buy makeup. When you sign up you fill out a profile that tells the company what your preferences, skin type and hair type are, and then each month a bag is sent to your door that is specially created with products to fit your tastes and beauty needs. I have to say, their system is effective because I very rarely get a product that I don’t like. They also send fabulous, high-end products from brands like Benefit, Tarte, Too Faced and Makeup Forever, as well as lesser known indie brands. Beauty fiends, sign up to discover new products and brands, and for the joy of getting a little bag filled with makeup every month. Oh, and did I mention that the bags are adorable? I have used Ipsy bags as clutches and wallets on more than one occasion. 

    5 // Hello Fresh 

    I can honestly say that I love cooking, and so the only real obstacle to me making a home-cooked meal at the end of the day is a lack of energy and ingredients. Hello Fresh delivers perfectly proportioned ingredients and recipes to your door so that you can make fancy-pants, delish dishes in no time at all and with practically zero cooking know-how. I wouldn’t use this service on a daily basis, but it’s perfect for lazy days or when you are hosting a dinner party and want to make a stellar impression with very little effort. It’s also a great way for beginners to improve their cooking skills!

    Have you tried any of these subscription services? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

    xoxo,

    Alicia