Crunchy Quinoa Granola

Toward the end of 2015, my body began to give up on me for a number of reasons, one being not eating properly.

I don’t want to be the person who says, “new year, new me”, but I do realize I need to start taking control of my health if I want to make it through another semester of school.

There are two things I have been trying to focus on in 2016: eating breakfast before I leave the house, and integrating food high in iron into my meals.

One bad habit I have is not eating breakfast before I leave the house in the morning. This results in me being super drowsy and not fully opening my eyes until after lunchtime (which isn’t very ideal as most of my classes start before 9 a.m..) Another problem with my eating habits is that I don’t eat enough food that is high in iron. Since a lot of my body’s weakness comes from having low iron, I have been trying to integrate foods like spinach, nuts, oatmeal, beef and quinoa into my daily meals.

So this week I made a quinoa granola recipe because it tackles both of these habits as I can eat it with breakfast, and it uses many ingredients high in iron such as, pumpkin seeds, almonds, oatmeal, quinoa and raisins. I like to eat it on top of yogurt in the morning, or mixed into a smoothie. This recipe makes about six cups of granola.

Crunchy Quinoa Granola

Ingredients:

3/4 cup quinoa

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup shaved coconut

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup applesauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon coconut oil melted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 275°F and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Rinse the quinoa under cold water and drain well.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, shaved coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together applesauce, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Pour the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until granola is golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes or so.

Once out of the oven, stir in the dried cranberries and raisins.

Let granola cool completely and store in an air-tight container. I keep mine in the freezer so it stays fresh for longer. If you would like to make the granola gluten-free, use gluten-free oats. And if you would like to make the granola vegan, use agave instead of honey. This healthy granola is easy to make and the quinoa adds a nice crunch.

Quinoa granola on top of yogurt for breakfast

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Chicken Pot Pie and Butter Biscuits

Tonight my family and I enjoyed a crispy and creamy chicken pot pie for dinner along with melt in your mouth butter biscuits.

Even though chicken pot pie isn’t the fanciest dish, it has always been one of my favourite recipes. When I was little, I loved chicken pot pie so much that I would request it at all of my birthday parties. But since most normal seven-year-olds preferred pizza and hotdogs, my mom saved the chicken pie for our family party.

This recipe can be time consuming if you make the crust from scratch, but if you don’t have as much time, frozen pie shells from the store work just as well.

Tonight we used a recipe from Allrecipes Canada as a guideline to make the chicken pot pie, and a recipe from The Catholic Women’s League cookbook to make the butter biscuits. Here are the versions I made:

Chicken Pot Pie

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts 

1 cup sliced carrots

1/2 cup sliced celery

2 cups spinach

4-5 potatoes

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

2/3 cup milk

Homemade or frozen pie crust

Begin by cooking the cubed carrots, celery and chicken over medium heat. Add just enough water to cover the ingredients and let boil for around 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside. In remaining liquid, cook cubed potatoes until slightly soft.

Follow by cooking the diced onion in butter until transparent. Next, stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Continue by adding the chicken broth and milk to the mixture and let simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the chicken mixture in a casserole dish and add spinach leaves. Follow by pouring the hot liquid mixture over top. You can put a second pie crust on the bottom, but we find one crust on the top is just the right amount of crust to filling. Cover with pie crust, and cut away the excess dough. Make several small slits in the crust to allow steam to escape.

In an oven preheated to 425F, bake the pie for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Butter Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup chilled butter

3/4 cup milk

Begin by mixing the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Continue by cutting in the butter until the mixture resembles the consistency of cornmeal. Follow by adding the milk and mix lightly to make a soft dough. Next, knead the dough on a floured surface for around 10 seconds. Roll the dough out until it is about 1/2″ in thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 425F for 12-15 minutes.

Homemade butter biscuit and chicken pot pie

Double Chocolate Cookies

Last week I made double chocolate cookies for my classmates birthday and they were a big hit. I found this recipe on Allrecipes Canada last year and now it’s my go-to recipe when I’m craving chocolate. This is a very easy and quick recipe to make and it makes about 35-40 cookies depending on how big you make them. These cookies are rich, but they go perfectly with a glass of milk. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Begin by preheating the oven to 350F. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until the mixture is light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

Follow by stirring the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until well blended. Next, mix in the chocolate chips. Drop teaspoonfuls of batter onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Let the cookies slightly cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a plate. The cookies may seem like they need more time in the oven, but while they are cooling on the baking sheet they continue to bake as the pan is still hot.

Restaurant Review- The Peasant Cookery

Here is the restaurant review I promised in my last blog post.

The Peasant Cookery at the corner of King and Bannatyne, in the Exchange District, is a cozy escape from the dark and dreary winter. The minute you walk in the door, you forget about the blustery wind and snow outside as you are greeted and led to your table through a trail of glimmering candle light.

The Peasant Cookery is an elegant yet quaint place, featuring walls lined with traditional wood framing, old paintings and antique mirrors. The dining room is filled with small and comfortable tables that are set with bright red place mats and candles.

The menu is split into firsts and seconds and offers a wide range of food around the $20 price point. From mussels and fries to soups, salads, and various types of bruschetta as firsts, to brisket, aged cheddar gnocchi, salmon and lamb pie as seconds, everyone is bound to find something they’ll enjoy. Not only is the food fresh, but each item has a distinct flavour that sets it aside from the other items on the menu.

The items on the dessert menu are hard to choose from. There are many options for example, a classic vanilla bean crème brûlée, profiteroles covered in dark chocolate, and house made sorbet with flavours like pomegranate ginger and blueberry lemon.

We tried the mussels and fries as recommended by our waiter and not even being a seafood fan, I managed to lick the bowl clean. About 20 mussels came in a large bowl covered in a white wine cream sauce with leeks, garlic, bacon and tomatoes, and served alongside homemade fries and mayonnaise ($18). The rich and creamy homemade sauce is what makes the mussels stand out on the menu.

The restaurant became completely full as we moved onto our second course of a maple lacquered chicken breast with leek bread pudding, potatoes and cranberry sauce ($23). Our taste buds were ecstatic as they experienced the delicious combination of sweet and savoury. The chicken was so moist that each bite melted away in our mouths. The combination of chicken and bread pudding drizzled in a warm maple sauce was like an early taste of Christmas.

The service was very attentive and friendly from the minute we walked in the door, to the time we left. We had made a reservation online a day ahead and when we showed up an hour early, they accommodated us with no problem. Both the manager and the hostess greeted us and checked our coats and bags. Within minutes of sitting down, our waiter introduced himself along with the Tuesday night special of 25 per cent off bottles of wine. Since we couldn’t decide between two choices of wine, our waiter generously brought us a sample of each. After placing our order, the waiter checked to see if we were attending an event after dinner so he could make sure the kitchen had our dinner to us in time.

The only failing grade was for the ladies bathroom, due to its unflushed toilets and overflowing garbage can. The good news is, enhancing staff training and adding washroom checks will be an easy fix, guaranteeing The Peasant Cookery a straight-A report card.

An Elegant Escape

This week my homework was to go out for dinner! Well I mean, not just go out for dinner, but to write a review about my experience at the restaurant. I could have gone to a concert, play, or even read a book, but eating food was more up my alley.

I chose to go to a small restaurant near my school called The Peasant Cookery that is located at the corner of King and Bannatyne. The Peasant Cookery is a cozy and elegant escape from the dark and dreary winter. The second you walk in the door, you forget about the blustering snow and wind outside as you walk through a trail of glimmering candle light and vintage decor.

Their menu varies from items like mussels, to poutine, to strip loin steak that you are bound to find something that everyone will enjoy.  At The Peasant Cookery, with every bite you can tell that your meal is made with thought and the ingredients are fresh. I will post a more depth restaurant review once I am finished writing it, but for now I can say that I highly recommend stopping by for a warm and super tasty meal.

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A cozy and elegant table for two!

Know your stitcher

This week my college newspaper, the RRC Projector, published a story I wrote about craft sales in Winnipeg. This was my first time ever writing for a paper and not only did my story get published, but one of my photos was chosen to be the main photo for the front page!

Two weekends ago, I went to a couple craft shows including, CRAFTED Show + Sale at the WAG, and the Winnipeg Esty Street Team Handmade and Vintage Sale VIII. I interviewed a lot of buyers and sellers for my story and learned how craft sales have evolved from being the items in your grandma’s house, to the most wanted items for the Christmas season. I also learned that more and more people are recognizing the importance of buying local and handmade.

I enjoyed writing this story because I met many talented artists and I got to check out all of the cool items for sale.

Click here to see my story. Or read it below!

Know your stitcher

Craft sales have gone from homely to hipster in Winnipeg

MADELAINE LAPOINTE, CONTRIBUTOR 

Craft sales have evolved from being a place to purchase gaudy cat ornaments to a place to purchase the hottest trends of the season.

While stores begin to fill up with Christmas jingles and crowds of frantic shoppers, more and more people are seeing craft sales as a one-stop-shop.

“Crafts have become a lot more modern,” said Amanda Reimer, a member of the Winnipeg Etsy Street Team. “There are far less Tupperware sales, and now crochet items have neon colours and modern designs.”

Reimer adds, “when I shop for Christmas, I have some rules — it has to be handmade or vintage.”

Shopping local and handmade are some of the most important aspects to buyers when it comes to looking for that one of a kind gift.

“It’s a nice thing to be able to say ‘I really thought hard about this gift and I met the person who made it,’” said Reimer. “It makes your gift more personal.”

Winnipeg is hosting several craft sales this holiday season in support of Craft Year 2015, a nation-wide initiative that promotes craft as a crucial part of Canadian culture.

“It really helps support our local economy,” said Ruth Smith, owner of Periwinkle Dzyns and captain of the local Winnipeg Etsy Street Team. “When you spend money with a local vendor, over 70 per cent of your dollar stays in the community. But when you spend at a big box store, it’s under 30 per cent.”

Craft sale customers value buying items from the artists themselves, according to Smith. They make an effort to shop locally as often as possible, especially around the Christmas season.

“When we started doing these sales four years ago, we had a little over 200 people attend,” said Smith. “Now we expect at least 1,500 people through the door, if not more.”

Winnipeg has more craft sales planned before Christmas day. In November, there’s the Signatures Craft Show and Sale at the RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre from Nov. 19 to 22, as well as THIRD + BIRD Christmas Market at the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church from Nov. 27 to 28.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery held CRAFTED Show + Sale earlier this month. Joyce Berry, co- chair of the show said she’s thrilled Winnipeg recognizes the importance of crafts and the artists behind them.

“The gift of a handmade item comes with the love and the care of the maker,” said Berry.

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#1 on the list- Needlepoints with sassy sayings.

#2 on the list- Customized beer growlers.

#3 on the list- Succulents in geometric shaped pots.

#4 on the list-Ceramics. (I bought a beautiful ceramic mug.)

#5 on the list- Vintage jewellery.

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The crowd at the WAG.

The crowd at W.E.S.T Handmade and Vintage Sale VIII.

 

Some of the sellers:

Kendra Smith and Ruth Smith from Periwinkle Dzyns.

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Caitlin Schlamb-Sikora, founder of Esty shop Real Swanky

Daivin Macdonald and Leah Macdonald, founders of North City Growlers.

Amanda Reimer, member of the Winnipeg Etsy Street Team.

 

Peanut Butter Brownies

What goes better together than peanut butter and chocolate? Not a whole lot. These brownies will fill your heart with happiness and love (unless you’re allergic to peanuts!)  My mom wasn’t feeling good tonight so I made her her favourite brownies that her mom used to make. She chowed down two in a row and she’s still eyeing down the pan. Let’s just say that these brownies won’t last long!

Peanut Butter Brownies

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugars in a bowl. Beat in the egg, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the rolled oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Combine both mixtures together and spread in a greased 9×9 inch pan. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 15-20 minutes.

Once brownies are golden brown, take them out of the oven and put the chocolate chips on top. Turn the oven off and put brownies back in the warm oven for about two minutes to let the chocolate chips melt. Spread and indulge!

Homemade Mac and Cheese

The colder the weather gets, the more I want to eat comfort food. No matter how bad my day may be, comfort food always seems to make it better.

Comfort food is different for everyone, but most of the time it’s a recipe that takes you back to your childhood (and most likely contains carbs and cheese).

Today I’ll be sharing my favourite recipe for homemade mac and cheese because sometimes KD just doesn’t do it. I found this recipe on Allrecipes Canada about year ago and continue to use it with some of my own alterations.

Mac and cheese is my weakness, especially when it is homemade. I can’t remember a day where I didn’t want it. Not going to lie, sometimes when I go to a restaurant I try to convince the waiter to let me have the kids meal because I just can’t resist.

There are many ways to make mac and cheese (some fancier than others), but this recipe is easy and has everything you could ever want in a comfort meal.

Old Fashioned Mac and Cheese

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cups whipping cream

1/2 onion, minced

1 clove garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons oregano

A mixture of cheeses of your choice. I usually use: cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan

Preheat your oven to 350. Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling, salted water for as long as the package indicates.

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in the flour until a cream colored paste forms. This is called a roux. This is what give the sauce its thickness. Follow by gradually pouring in the milk and whipping cream, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Stir this for one more minute and then remove from heat and set aside.

I like to cook down my onions before I add them to my pan. I have made the recipe without doing so, and I found they stayed crunchy if I didn’t fry them before. All I do is fry the onions in a pan with butter and add to my sauce. This time I also added a clove of garlic. Sometimes when I’m feeling fancy, I add spices such as garlic powder, salt, pepper and oregano.

When the macaroni is cooked, spread 1/2 of it into the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking dish. If you didn’t fry your onions and mix in your sauce, layer 1/2 of the minced uncooked onion on top of the cooked pasta. Next add salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 of each of the cheeses. 

Repeat these steps one more time: macaroni, onion, salt, pepper and cheeses, and then pour the white sauce over top.

Cover and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, I put breadcrumbs on the top and broil the dish so it’s crispy on top.

Friday Night Pizza

Pizza is the best creation of all time. If I could, I would eat it everyday.

When I was little, every Friday night was “Pizza Night”. I spent my entire week looking forward to this night because I would get an entire pizza to myself. An entire cheese pizza, lacking sauce.

You’re probably wondering if I ate the whole pizza in one sitting. If I could have I would have, but no… I took a slice a day for lunch throughout the week (until we made pizza again the following week.)

Surprisingly, I never got tired of pizza. To this day, I still look forward to making it on Friday nights here and there. However, I did change it up a little over the years by adding a few more ingredients!

The recipe I am posting today is my current favourite pizza to make on Friday nights. I call it my Pesto Chicken Bacon Alfredo Pizza. We go to DeLuca’s for all our fresh ingredients such as the pizza dough, meat and pesto and Alfredo sauces. When I have more time I try and make my own dough, but usually I buy it at DeLuca’s. They make their dough fresh every day and they offer it in whole wheat and white. DeLuca’s might be a little more expensive than other stores, but the quality and taste of their products is worth it. When it comes to certain things in life, especially food, I tend to live by the saying, “you get what you pay for.”

When it comes to pizza, you don’t really have to follow a recipe. As long as you have all the right ingredients, it will most likely turn out great!

Ingredients

Pizza dough

Chicken breasts

Bacon

Spinach

Pesto

Alfredo sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Oregano to taste

Basil to taste

A mix of the following cheeses:

Mozzarella

Cheddar

Parmesan

Asiago

Pesto Chicken Bacon Alfredo Pizza

Begin by preheating the oven to 425F. Next, prepare your pizza pan by greasing it with vegetable oil and sprinkling with cornmeal. Roll out your dough on a floured surface and place the flattened dough on prepared pan.

Follow by placing your dough in the heated oven for 5-8 minutes. Make sure to poke the dough with a fork before baking it as the holes will let the heat escape and prevent the dough from rising too high.

I like to bake the dough before putting the toppings on because then the dough doesn’t become soggy. Especially for this recipe as there are many ingredients.

While the dough is baking, cook the chicken and bacon in a frying pan over medium high heat. Usually I cook the bacon first and then drain the fat out of the pan before cooking the chicken. When cooking the chicken, season it with the oregano, basil, salt and pepper. One tip with cooking the meat is to undercook them a bit because they will still cook in the oven when on the pizza.

Once the dough is a little cooked and crisp, spread the pesto sauce over the entire surface. Follow by covering with spinach and then place cooked meat on top.

Next, poor the Alfredo sauce over top of the meat. Finish by sprinkling the mixture of cheeses of your choice over top and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Pesto Chicken Bacon Alfredo Pizza for your Friday night.

There you go, now you have one of the best meals you will ever indulge in.

You’re welcome. 🙂

Pumpkin Patch Personality

This week for my journalism class our assignment was to write a personality profile on a stranger of our choice. I chose to interview Milan Lukes, a 13 year old boy that proved to me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. The past three years, Milan competed in the Roland Pumpkin Fair. He improved every year by keeping track of his pumpkins in a journal. This year, Milan won 1st and 2nd place with his giant pumpkins weighing 1348 and 1283 pounds.

I drove out to Milan’s place to interview him, and see just how big the pumpkins were. They were massive! Milan told me that the pumpkins make a great fort can fit eight people his size in one.

Below is the story I wrote. I had over 1500 words of quotes only from Milan so it was very difficult to get the word count under 700 for the assignment! Let me know what you think!

Personality Profile

Milan Lukes kneels in his garden as his hands and knees become covered in dirt. Four days after winning first and second place at the Roland Pumpkin Fair, Milan prepares his soil for next year. His bright orange sweater glows in the dark as he runs toward his giant pumpkins.

“Wanna see them?” he asks, brushing the dirt off his knees.

Milan, 13, became interested in pumpkins at the age of six.

“It was the pumpkins that really caught my eye because I was amazed at the colour and how quickly they could grow.”

His Mom, Janice Lukes, kept a garden in the backyard up until she had triplet boys and realized how much work they were combined. When she was going to sod over the garden, Milan convinced her otherwise.

In 2012, a brochure advertising the Roland Pumpkin Fair caught his mother’s eye and she and Milan decided to attend.

“Ever since then I really began growing hard-core,” says Milan.

The following year, Milan decided to participate with his pumpkin of 519 pounds, which placed 21st. That wasn’t enough though, his second year competing his pumpkin more than doubled in size to 1200.6 pounds.

Milan keeps a daily journal where he tracks every minute detail such as the vine bearing, watering and turning of his pumpkins. He also takes pictures every eight days to observe their progress.

“Every year, I learn more techniques. I learned from my mistakes from last year and the previous year.”

In April, Milan plants his seeds in anticipation of the fair that happens on the first Saturday of October.

“You are with the pumpkin the entire time. It’s really cool because it’s like you’re taking care of a kid.”

During the growing season, Milan spends two to three hours a day with his pumpkins. From soil analysis, getting the soil prepared, adding necessary soil adamants, and vine pruning. He also makes sure he has the right equipment, from automatic soil cable heaters, mini hoop houses with heaters and wind protectors.

“For my birthday we hooked up a half horse power pump and circuit boards.”

He believes that pumpkins are more than just plants.

“You really get to know that they’re sort of like us. They need water, they need care, and you can’t just abandon them.”

The past three summers Milan and his family have sacrificed family vacations.

“When you’re growing giant pumpkins and they put on 25 to 30 pounds a day, you have to be around every day,” says Janice Lukes. “I try and relate it to human experiences. If you take care of your kids, nine times out of ten they turn out good, so if you take care of your pumpkins, they turn out good too.”

Milan’s dedication goes far beyond most kids his age.

“There’s so much more than video games that you could be experiencing. Being outside and taking care of a plant is a really valuable experience because you get better at critical thinking, coming up with solutions and being on task,” he says.

Milan comes from a background of farming. His uncle, Bruce Cockerill is a third generation farmer who lives on the 123-year-old family farm. He helped Milan build the greenhouse and manoeuvre the pumpkins to the fair.

“I couldn’t do it without him. Growing the pumpkins is one part, but lifting them and getting them to the fair safely is a whole other chapter,” says Milan.

Uncle Bruce has Milan to his farm to share his insights on farming.

“It’s nice to see someone so young have such high hopes and accomplish so much. He reminds me that the simplest things in life can be so huge if you put your mind to it,” says Bruce.

2015 has been a banner year for Milan with his winning pumpkins, one he named Roger weighing 1348 pounds and the other named Chumlee weighing 1283 pounds.

“Even if I didn’t win, I’d still be happy with the pumpkins. It makes me more ambitious for the next year.”

Once high school begins Milan will probably put pumpkins on hold to focus more on school.

“All I know right now is that I really just want to stay a kid.”

Milan’s goal is to grow a pumpkin over 1400 pounds in 2016 to win the provincial record.