Food | Raspberry White Tea Lemonade

"This art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of energy in our great men."
~Captain J. A. Hadfield

Raspberry White Tea Lemonade

Oh summer, I heart thou! Well, I would be saying that if mosquitoes weren’t Edmonton’s official bird. I would be saying that if I could stand outside for more than 2 minutes without being consumed. But a subtle breeze kicked in and offered us a respite from the blood suckers. Finally, alfresco dining and gallivanting no longer seemed unsuitable.

Suddenly the desire to sit out could be fulfilled; and coincidentally around the same time, I decided I needed a break from the interwebs. I will always be astonished by how completely consuming the internet can be. The connections made online are amazing and I am grateful for the ones I have made; but I just needed a break. The glow from my perpetually powered on computer was starting to mess with my sleep cycles. Yes I admit that I am addicted to the net.

Raspberry White Tea Lemonade

The first step is admitting that there is a problem.

So I am currently on a self imposed internet hiatus, allowing only brief moments to check emails and post the occasional tweet; I tried to give it up completely but I was starting to get the shakes; but in the name of rest, relaxation and the ability to sit outside; a raspberry, basil and white tea lemonade.

Raspberry White Tea Lemonade

Raspberry Basil and White Tea Lemonade
5 raspberry white tea bags
5 lemons, juiced
1 cup crushed ice
½ cup water
½ cup honey
15 leaves of basil (adjust to your liking)
Steep the tea bags in 4 cups boiling water. Meanwhile in small sauce pan bring to a boil water and honey; remove from the heat and add the basil. Allow to steep for 10 minutes, and then remove the basil leaves. Remove the tea bag from the water and stir in the ice. Add the lemon juice and 2/3 cup of syrup. Serve cold over ice with a slice of lemon and basil leaves.


Food | Quinoa Granola

"All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast."
~John Gunther

real food photos

This week I’m in a breakfast kind of mood. I’ve been doing the breakfast thing for months now; but I’ve never truly illustrated my love. Although cheesecake smoothies for breakfast is nice; drinking a cream cake like rendition every single morning, is likely not a good idea. I used to be a notorious breakfast skipper; what can I say, I love sleep. But nowadays, I’ve learned to prioritize breakfast. For me to commit to something it has to be easy; breakfast was no different. Initially, I did the toast thing; toast is easy and it’s fast. And Nutella spread on toast is a glorious way to wake up; wouldn’t you agree?

But soon I grew bored with my elementary provisions; and eggs proved to be just as easy as the toast thing; but far more savory. Eggs became a regular morning feature; being scrambled, sunny sided and always served with toast. Then summer came along, and wine nights became more frequent; sitting on the patio, sipping on the white grapes is quintessentially summer- this also means I want more sleep time come 7:30 am. And I needed a breakfast that was just as fortifying as the aforementioned breakfast items; but effortless- completely effortless.

Enter Granola.

real food photos

Granola is a pleasure to make, because it’s so bespoke; there are so many approaches to granola- it’s anything you want it to be. Don’t like nuts? Use seed; an aversion to dried fruit? Leave them out. See, bespoke!

And granola keeps for days; it’s unfussy like that. I make granola on a Sunday, and relish it all week- with yogurt, with milk and completely unadorned. Granola is everything; and it’s effortless.

Quinoa Granola
c/o Fake Ginger

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup dry quinoa rinsed and spread out to dry slightly
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup dried fruit cranberries
Preheat oven to 300.
In a large bowl, combine oats, quinoa, almonds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. Set aside.
Stir together applesauce, cinnamon, vanilla, and honey. Taste and add more honey or cinnamon as needed. Pour over oat mixture and stir to moisten all of the ingredients. Spread the mixture onto a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until granola is golden and crunchy. Remove from oven and stir in dried fruit. Let cool before serving.


Food | Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.
~ Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie

Friday was one of those days that I just needed to end. I find it amazing how one person’s actions (and my subsequent reaction) can ruin a day. From that point onward, my day was shot- I wanted *several* drinks and to be LEFT. ALONE. I went to bed on Friday, hopeful that Saturday would bring sunnier moods- sleep is purported to do wonders for bad moods; instead I woke up to a torrential downpour- on the day of my birthday celebration no less; and just like that my bad mood was back.

If you follow astrology, then you know that anyone born on the 11th of July (as I am) is a true Cancerian; and characteristic to the Cancerian sun sign is moodiness- it’s always the first negative attribute on the list. And my Cancerian nature did not disappoint. All Saturday morning I was sour- I could not break free; I was down and even more upset by my inability to shake it. But by noon, and after back to back episodes of “So You Think You Can Dance” I made the choice to be happy; screw the rain, I was celebrating my birthday, and I was going to enjoy it, damn it. Regardless of Mother Nature’s f'ing plans.

Blueberry Cheesecake 2

As we all know by now, a good day starts with a great breakfast. On this day I wanted something celebratory, but, ultimately, a real breakfast- so cake got the kaibosh; the sugar high creating the inevitable crash would prove only to fortify my negative mood. Enter Tastespotting, the place where inspiration is made of; where I found a recipe for a cheesecake smoothie! Bluebrries, cream cheese, coconut milk and honey are healthy and indulgent; and a perfectly non alcoholic way to sip away a bad mood. Don’t believe the hype people you can have your cake and eat it too!

Happy Birthday to me. Good morning to you!

Bluebeery Cheesecake Smoothie

Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie
Makes 4 servings

2 cups frozen blueberries
3 tablespoons simple syrup or honey
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 cup coconut or soy milk
vegan cookie or graham crackers for topping
1 tbsp fresh blueberries for garnish

Combine berries and honey or simple syrup, cream cheese and coconut milk in a blender; and pulse until smooth. Pour into serving glasses and top with crushed cookies and fresh blueberries.

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Food | The Bee's Knees

First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you. ~Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

Bees Knees 3

I like the simple things in life. Someone holds the door for me- like. Someone smiles back at me, when I smile at them- like. A delicious cocktail- like, a lot. There really is nothing like a good cocktail to shake off a bad week or to toast a really great one; alcohol is equal opportunity- like!

My birthday is in a week and this weekend my friends and I are commemorating the day with a potluck bbq garden party- a who’s who of my nearest and dearest. Lately we have been into cocktails- mojitos, caprinia’s and spritzers alike; and this party is no different. We have been brainstorming all kinds of tipples for this event. But some of our favorite aforementioned cocktails require a lot of garnish; and from experience I know that garnish only serves to make the drink look better (for about 5 minutes or the time it takes to photograph) and to clog up the sink the next day. Rounding up cups with nothing but sticky residue and garnish is not cute at all.

Bees Knees 1

When I saw this recipe on Ashley Rodriguez’s site Not Without Salt, I was intrigued- likely due to her amazing photography; but I was also frightened. You see, I am not a gin drinker- I have had far too many of “those” nights when gin was in the mix; and although my hangovers aren’t as bad when I drink gin, I would rather tough out the vodka hangover rather than unleashed a gin-ed out Bianca into the world. Despite this, I decided to try this; also because the title of this cute little sipper is one of my monikers- for months my BBM handle was Bee’s Knee’s. If that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.

The manual labor of this drink is slim; aside from making the honey syrup, this is all assembly. Gin, syrup, lemon juice, ice- shake. Pour over ice and top with a skiv of tonic water (which is the only variation.

Happy Birthday to me! Yes, this is what I said when I took the first sip; and no matter when you sip this lightly sweet and crisp interpretation of this notorious spirit, you’ll feel like it’s your birthday too.

And remember, they don’t call gin The Panty Dropper for nothing; so proceed with caution.

Bees Knees 2

Bee’s Knees
c/o Not Without Salt

1 ½ oz gin
½ oz lemon juice
¾ oz honey syrup*
1/3 cup tonic water

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain over ice into a chilled cocktail glass; and top with tonic water. Garnish with lemon- if you'd like.
Feel free to adjust the honey- some like it sweeter than others.

*Honey Syrup
Combine equal parts honey and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly then place in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.

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Food | Tomato Sauce

"Only by indulging in good food, can one expect a good life"

Tomato Sauce 1

I confess that I’m a carb-aholic; I could easily eat a family sized portion of pasta and not think twice. I maintain that I have hollow legs. I’ve joked, that I'm never full, I just know when to stop; but my enchantment with pasta is another matter completely. I am thankful everyday for “smart” pastas; they definitely take the edge off my carbohydrate indulgences.

This past weekend I was house sitting for my parents; and after a few solo glasses of the grapes (read: wine), I was beginning to hunger for pasta and sauce. What is it about red wine that demands such heavy accompaniment? In any case, I went to bed hungry; and woke with my craving still heavy on my mind. Enter the easiest pasta sauce I have ever made.

And I know “easy” is sometimes seen as less flavorful or rich; but I assure you this is not only easy but delicious as well. And by easy, I mean quick prep; but, as for time, the sauce needs some time to simmer and create a wonderfully rich tomato sauce. I had two very large bowls in quick succession- one just didn't seem like enough. Initially I had planned to save some for my parents to try upon their return home; but gluttony prevailed and the sauce barely made it 24 hours. Next time I’ll make more; but, I’ll likely just eat more.

Tomato Sauce 2

Tomato Sauce

761 ml canned whole tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ medium sweet onion
¼ cup pinot grigio, or any medium sweet white wine
2 tbsp butter
¾ tsp honey or more if the tomatoes are too tart
1 tbsp oregano
1 ¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Heat a heavy bottom pot on medium high heat and melt ½ tbsp of butte, add the garlic and cook until fragrant and slightly colored- about 3 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer for a minute and season with salt; add the canned tomatoes, their juice, the onion and the remaining butter and bring back up to simmer. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally; pressing the tomatoes against the side of the pot to break them up. Add the pepper and honey; and taste. You may need more honey if your tomatoes are too tart.