Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Maple Almond Granola

This is the best granola you will ever have. It's filling, slightly sweet, and super crunchy. I can't seem to make it fast enough! I'll bake a batch, think it will last me the week, but it will be gone within a few days because the whole family is chowing down. It's great for breakfast or for a snack and doesn't even need berries because of the delicious addition of dried fruits. Seriously, this is the only granola recipe you will ever need. Don't you dare spend $10 on granola at the store - this is better!

Adapated from Pastry Affair

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
1/3 cup chopped, dried apricots
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, quinoa, almonds, ground flax, chia seeds, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in the coconut oil, maple syrup, almond extract, salt and egg white and stir until everything is combined and well coated. Evenly spread out the mixture onto the baking sheet and bake for 23-27 minutes, until the edges are golden brown . Do not stir half way! Leave it for the full time to ensure crunchy clusters.

Allow to cool completely. Break up granola into clusters and mix in the dried apricots and cranberries. Store in an air-tight container. I have no idea how long this stays fresh for because ours is all eaten in about three days.

Friday, January 30, 2015

What I'm Into: January 2015

It's cold and it's awards season, so I've watched a lot of movies this month. I've watched so many movies it's ridiculous. I still have a couple of the best picture nominees left to see before the Oscars at the end of February - Birdman and American Sniper. I read a couple books too and both were amazing! Here's what I've been into in January:

Movies I've Seen

Foxcatcher - I enjoyed this movie for the most part, Steve Carrell was super creepy and completely transformed from his usual weird, funny self. The story was different from most sports related movies I was used to, which I appreciated, and kept my attention throughout the film.

Wild - Though I wasn't a fan of the book (I didn't even make it half way), this was a great movie. It offered adventure and self-discovery without being pretentious (re: Eat Pray Love).

If I Stay - This is quite possible one of the worst movies of all time. Obviously it was a teen drama romance thing but it was even more terrible than you're thinking. It's the worst. Don't see it.

St. Vincent - I really liked this movie! It wasn't anything amazing but it was a great feel-good movie with lots of interesting characters.

The Imitation Game - I saw this with the whole family one Sunday afternoon, and we all really enjoyed it. Not being a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch or Keira Knightley, I was pleasantly surprised by both of their performances. 

Whiplash - Most people I talk to seem to love this movie but as a past school band member (though obviously not even close to the same level of talent) this movie made me incredibly uncomfortable and brought back the few bad memories I have. I was so happy when the movie ended and I could finally breathe again.

Selma - So we all agree that this should be nominated for more Oscars right? Without a doubt, David Ovelowo deserves a best actor nomination for his role as Martin Luther King Jr. (or win if that were possible), and best director? Where is that nomination hmm? I don't want to say too much, but this is a powerful film. It's beautiful. You should go see it right now.

Books I've Read

Opposite of Loneliness - This was my first completed read of 2015! I wrote more about it in this blog post, but all you really need to know is that it's a beautiful collection of essays and short stories, written by a talented woman, and you should read it.

We Were Liars - This is one of the best teen fiction novels I've ever read. It's about a group of cousins who meet up at their family's summer home every year but then something happens, and it changes everything. It makes you curious, and is full of suspense as you move through the novel trying to piece together what this "something" is. 

More Fun Stuff

Frozen Fruit - I am a big fruit eater and that's why I don't like winter - my only options are apples and oranges! Everything else is out of season, only okay tasting or super expensive. I've had frozen fruit (mostly mango) in stock for a while and I mostly used it for smoothies but then! I had a revelation. What if I just ate the frozen fruit as is? What if I zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds? Why didn't I think of this before! My fruit woes are over.

Audio Books - When I'm trying to be productive, it helps me if there's some sort of background noise. Usually I count on Netflix so I can listen to an entire series, for a while it was the Serial podcast, but now it's audiobooks. I'm currently listening to Amy Poehler's Yes Please on audio (even after having already read it) and it's wonderful. I'm a huge fan of this book and will probably be re-reading and listening to it forever.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Reading Resolutions

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I made the new years resolution for the third time to read 25 books this year. Though right now I have quite the long list of books I intend to read there always comes a time where I get stuck, I'm not motivated and need something new to excite me. Thankfully the internet has come to the rescue with a whole bunch of resources to help us out with our reading resolutions! I'm going to use all of these lists to help change up my reading resolutions and bring new excitement to reading throughout the year. 

1. With the Oscars coming up, why not check out this list of 6 book adaptations all with top oscar nominations. So far, I've got 2/6 - not bad, could be better. 

2. Tomorrow is National Readathon Day! Check out this Pinterest board for book reading suggestions and breeze through your January picks from 12-4pm. 

3. Young adult fiction is one of my favourite genres. I always find the stories so exciting than must adult fiction novels. This infographic provides us with a YA fiction book for every day, month and season of the year.

4. Back to the movies - every book on this list will be hitting theatres in 2015. Read the book - then watch the movie. 

5. Finally, Strand Books NYC has created this giant list of reading resolutions. Some apply to the whole year, but some you can pick and choose depending on your reading needs. I'm definitely going to be consulting this list time and time again. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lemon Pecan Squares

Introducing my first baking post of 2015.  Having said I was going to challenge myself and bake new things in 2015, you may be thinking - lemon squares? Really Joanna? This is your big baking endeavour? And to you I say - Yes, it is. I wanted to make use of my beautiful gifted cookbooks and I have lists and lists of recipes written down and bookmarked. Lemon squares were one of them. These aren't your typical lemon square - the combination of pecan and coconut gives a delicious added nuttiness, and the hint of lemon is the perfect complimentary flavour. These lemon squares can be easily changed to any citrus and nut combination of your choosing - oooh what about orange almond? Grapefruit cashew? Lime macadamia? Call it! Dibs on the lime squares. Anyways, here are my lemon pecan squares, adapted from Butter Baked Goods Cookbook.


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon ground flax
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup ground pecans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 300 mL can condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9x9 inch pan with butter, and line with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in the microwave at 30 second intervals until completely melted. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flax, flour, sugar, coconut, ground pecans, baking powder, and lemon zest. Add in the melted butter and mix until well combined. Pour half of the oat mixture into your pan and press until firm and even spread.

In a medium bowl, gently whisk together the condensed milk and lemon juice until combined. Pour the mixture evenly over your oat base and sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the filling. Bake for 23-28 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Squares are best served chilled from the refrigerator.