Tag Archives: fruit

Farmer's Market Sign

Insider Tips on Scoring Deals at the Farmers’ Market

As asparagus, ramps and fiddleheads begin to sprout through freshly thawed soil, Canadians are eager to taste the first delicious harvest of the season.

Soon, farmers’ market season will be in full swing, so we caught up with market insiders Dina Rock and Kim Antonius for their insight on how to score at farmers’ markets this season.

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1. Think in season and within reason.

“First off, I know that when a lot of people go to the farmers market they might be thinking that they’ll find a deal because they’re cutting out the middleman,” says Fairmount Park Farm Market founder Kim Antonius. But she warns that isn’t necessarily the case. “Food isn’t always less expensive at the farmers’ market than it would be at your local grocery store,” she says. Grocery stores buy in massive quantities from distributors who import cash crops from warmer climates, and the local produce you buy at a farmers’ market may end up costing the same — or even a little more — than what you’ll find in big box stores. This year, however, Antonius speculates that the high American dollar may allow local markets to be more competitive.

Dina Rock, owner and chief pickling officer at Mighty Fine Brine, is also a regular farmers’ market vendor. She cautions shoppers against the temptation to bargain with farmers and artisans. “People who work in the local food movement in Canada do it mostly out of a passion for our community, our growing season and our environment,” she says. “We live in a place where we’re subject to the elements and limited in the amount that can be produced. So our incomes are already tremendously challenged. You would never walk into a Starbucks and say, ‘Can I get a discount on that latte?’ So to say, ‘I know you toiled on your farms and were up since 5 a.m. harvesting these beautiful pears…but can I get a discount on them?’ That’s frustrating. This is how people make their living — don’t try to discount that.”

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2. Fresh is best but good things can come to those who wait.

Still, there are opportunities to score at the market, particularly if freshness and nutrition are priorities. “The fresher the produce, the higher the nutrients it has,” says Antonius .“So when you’re buying something that was picked that morning, or the night prior, it has more nutrients in it than something that has been shipped from California…the other thing is that it’s so fresh, it lasts longer.”

Of course fresh, local, seasonal fruits and veggies is what the market is all about, but consider waiting week or two into the season before scooping up the latest crop. “Ramps are finally available,” notes Rock. “They’re going to be at their most expensive because they’re available right now… Wait a week or two, so that that fever pitch has died down a little bit.”

Fresh Strawberries Market

3. Get friendly with your farmers and vendors.

Rock will dole out deals from time to time — when customers buy a lot at once, she’s liable to toss in an extra goodie. But like all good things in life, the best deals are earned. “For me it comes down to building relationships,” she says. If Rock has brought something special to the market or is in the mood to trade, her regular customers — the ones who take the time to get to know her and her business — will hear about it first.

As you get to know farmers and vendors, Antonius suggests asking them to add you to any email lists they might have going. That way you’ll be the first to know about bumpers and seconds, the rare crops that farmers might sell at discount.

“One of my favourite bumper crops are fava beans,” says Antonius. “They’re amazing when they come, but they don’t last very long. If you learn how to preserve or freeze them, then you can buy larger quantities of them for less and have them when they’re out of season, too.”

Preserving is also a great way to deal with seconds; slightly damaged or ugly produce. Most farmers don’t bother bringing their seconds to market, but are often happy to part with imperfect produce at a lower rate if they know you’ll be there to buy it.

At the end of the day, even shoppers who prefer their transactions swift and silent will benefit from choosing from the farmers’ market. “Your dollars are investing in Canada’s farmland,” says Antonius. “It’s really exciting to think of yourself as a purchaser, but also an investor.”

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Cory Vitiello on How to Make Fruits and Veggies Last

By night, you may know Cory Vitiello as an expert on Chef in Your Ear, but by day, he’s a popular Toronto chef and restaurateur. He’s also a serious purchaser of fruits and vegetables. Produce is important at his Toronto restaurant, Flock, which is just as famous for its fresh salads as its antibiotic and hormone-free rotisserie chickens. “We probably go through $20,000 worth of produce in a week,” says Cory.Cory Vitiello

Here, he shares his tips for which fruits and veggies will last the longest, how to store them for optimal longevity, and what to do with them when they’ve started to wilt. These tips are a great starting point for getting the most from your fresh goods, but as always, trust your senses and don’t consume food that looks or smells off.

Apples
Last for: up to 3 months in the fridge.
Store apples in the warmest part of the fridge in a sealed bag, says Cory. Apples tend to absorb flavours, so avoid putting them next to fragrant items like cheese. If they’re starting to overstay their welcome, peel them, cut them into slices and toss them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. From there, you can “use them for smoothies just like you would bananas,” says Cory.

Tip: A plastic bag helps keep apples (and bananas) well segregated from other produce; apples release ethylene gas, which can cause premature ripening in nearby produce.

beets-raw-wholeBeets
Last for: 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
Although beets last quite a while in the fridge, they tend to lose their sweetness over time. Cory recommends keeping them at room temperature as long as possible to maintain optimal flavour. As long as they’re firm — “I mean very firm, you should not be able to bruise them” — they can be stored in the pantry. “If you’re looking for a nice salad beet, you definitely want to use the firm, fresh ones,” says Cory. When the skins start to get leathery, move them to the refrigerator, or better yet, roast them. “Keep the skins on — you don’t have to peel them. Just give them a good scrub and roast them with your apples that are about to expire.”

Cabbage
Lasts for: up to 2 months in the fridge.
“Cabbage is probably one of the most underrated vegetables,” says Cory. “As long as it’s stored in the fridge, you’re golden.” Peel off wilting outer layers to reveal crisper leaves below, and don’t be afraid to branch beyond coleslaw. Cory likes chopping a cabbage in half, dicing it against the grain, and stir-frying: bonus, cooked cabbage goes nicely with your roasted or sauteed aging beets, apples and carrots.

carrots-orange-yellow-purpleCarrots
Last for: 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
Trim the green tops off carrots and store them in water with their skins intact so they stay fresh and juicy. “I like to leave the skins on, scrub them down and roast them whole,” says Cory. “I love that rustic, natural look on a carrot. What I don’t like is a perfect carrot stick on a plate. I think that looks tacky and 1980s.”

Celery
Lasts for: up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
When the base of celery goes limp, do like “everybody’s mom” and cut the base off, and revive celery sticks in a cup of water in the fridge. Or simply remove the flimsy outer stalks to reveal the heart, “which is the best part anyway.” And don’t forget to use the inner leaves — Cory likes to toss his in fresh salad as he would with other herbs. “It’s really nice, tender and sweet.”

Garlic
Lasts for: 3-6 months.
“All garlic will age to a certain point, but you want to keep it in a dark place, in a paper bag,” says Cory. Keep it away from fruit to avoid flavour transfer, but you’ll know it’s nearing the end when it starts to sprout. To use up a bunch of garlic at once, peel and roast in olive oil on low heat until just browned. Store the roasted cloves submerged in olive oil in a jar in the fridge.  “Use it for pasta, sauces, anything you’d use garlic for — it’ll last for a month after you roast it,” says Cory.

Onion and Shallots
Last for: 2-3 months.
Like garlic, onions and shallots are best stored in paper bags in a dry, cool place, encourages Cory. Sprouting will indicate that they’ve started to turn; as with beets, if they start to wrinkle or can be easily squeezed like an orange, cook them. Whether you roast them for a dip, caramelize them for burgers or at them to soups, “any kind of cooked preparation is fine,” says Cory.

pomegranatePomegranates
Last for: 3 -4 weeks in the fridge.
Pomegranates can last quite awhile as long as they’re intact. Once you remove the seeds from the fruit, however, they need to be eaten within a couple of days. “The seeds have an incredibly short shelf life and will lose their juice, go pale and won’t taste as sweet,” warns Cory. He suggests sprinkling them on your morning yogurt, or trying them in salads. If you crack into your pomegranate and find some of the seeds are brown and slimy, don’t eat them, but do go ahead and pick out the good ones.

Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Last for: 2 – 3 months.
These famously long-lived staples are good to eat until they start sprouting, says Cory. Like beets, the starch and sugar levels will fluctuate according to storage methods. “If you store them in a cool, dark place,” says Cory, “that will prevent the sugar levels from building up. Then you’ll get a nice, dark roasted potato, and not a limp one that tends to burn quickly or is flimsy when you fry it — that’s because of too much sugar. When you store them in the fridge, they build up too much sugar.”

Winter Squashes
Last for: up to 3 months.
“This is definitely one of the most versatile and longest lasting ingredients,” says Cory. “It takes a long time for winter squash to break down. I like eating winter squash raw — I’ll peel and shave it really thin on a mandolin or vegetable peeler, and it gives a really nice, unique crunch in a salad. But when in doubt, just roast it whole — cut it in half, smear with butter and some spices.”

watermelonWatermelon
Lasts for: 2-3 weeks in the fridge
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an expired watermelon,” says Cory. But if you’re looking to use up your watermelon quickly, he suggests scooping out the flesh and tossing it in the blender with your favourite tea. “Watermelon iced tea is the ultimate summer drink,” he says.

Mangoes

Is This Fruit Ripe? Tricks to Buying the Sweetest Produce

Although it’s easy to spot which fruit is perfectly ripe at a roadside stand in the peak of summer (hello, juicy peaches and oh-so fragrant strawberries!), during the remaining months it can be challenging to figure out if the fruit you’re purchasing is truly at its peak.

While we have seemingly endless options available at the grocery store year-round, it’s not as simple to tell when some fruits are ripe. Here are some easy tips to make sure you are never disappointed when you crack into a beautiful piece of fruit.

orange

Citrus
Since citrus grows in a separate climate from ours, it’s easy to forget that there actually is a season when they’re at their best. Lucky for us, prime citrus season is in the dead of winter, just as we’re so desperately looking for those bright and sunny flavours.
Indulge in blood oranges, pomelos, grapefruit and Meyer lemons from December to March while they’re super sweet and juicy. Look for citrus with tight skin that doesn’t have a lot of give when pressed. If they’re too soft, they could be passed their prime. Always make sure to give them a good sniff. The ripest citrus will be bursting with the scent of their essential oils.

Pineapple

Pineapple
Choosing a ripe pineapple can seem a bit tricky, but they’re actually one of the easiest fruits to tell if they’re ripe — as long as you know what to look for. Counter intuitively, a pineapple can have some green throughout its body and still be perfectly ripe. So take a step back and look at its overall appearance. Its top leaves should be deeply green and not too wilted or browned. and its skin should be tight and only gives slightly when pressed. Most importantly, a fully ripe pineapple will always have super sweet scent, so pick it up by the top and smell the base. Its aroma should be fruity and delicious.

Melons
Unlike oranges and pineapples, not every variety of melon will give off a scent to gauge its ripeness, but luckily there are other simple ways to find out. Look for melons that have consistently even skin, free of any soft spots, bruising or cracks. Smooth melons, such as watermelon, should have a matte finish and lacy melons, such as cantaloupe, should be vibrant in colour underneath their rough, top layer. Regardless of the melon you’re buying, pick it up. It should feel heavy , then give it a gentle knock; a ripe melon will always sound hollow inside.

Mangoes

Mangoes
The best rule of thumb when it comes to purchasing a mango is pretty simple: a soft mango will always be a ripe one. Once you know this rule, it’s easier to look for indicators to make sure the mango isn’t overripe. The skin should be tight and plump, without any shrivelling or discolouration. Take the time to pick it up and smell it by the stem; it should smell sweet and fresh, not alcoholic or sour.

Avocado

Avocados
If you’re shopping on a Sunday and want to have an avocado towards the end of the week, it’s best to buy ones that are under-ripe so it has a few days to reach perfection. If you want to make a bowl of guacamole tonight, look for avocadoes that are so deeply green, they’re almost black and have a slight give when pressed. Be careful if doesn’t feel too soft, an overripe avocado will have a lot of give and feel squishy inside.

How to Make Strawberry Jam

As much as we love a delicious gourmet meal, there’s something to be said about a good ol’ classic PB&J. What better way to take a basic sandwich to a whole new level than with rich, homemade strawberry jam?

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Composed of nothing but a few simple ingredients, this made-from-scratch pantry staple is a must-try. When you see how easy (and insanely delicious) it is, we’re sure you’ll be making it every other week!

Ingredients:
1 quart of ripe strawberries (normal-sized container from the grocery store)
½ cup sugar
1 tsp water

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Directions:

1. Sort through the strawberries and make sure they’re completely ripe. Green ones just won’t cut it.

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2. Wash them, remove the stems, cut out the white bits and place them on a paper towel to remove the water.

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3. In a medium-sized pot on medium heat, add 1 tsp water along with the strawberries. Using a wooden spoon, mash the strawberries into small pieces and add the sugar. Stirring continuously, let them come to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from the stove and let it sit over night.

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4. The next morning, put it back on the stove. While you wait for the strawberries to come to a boil, fill two small jars with water and put them in the microwave until boiling. When the strawberries on the stove start to boil, pour the water out of the jars and fill them with the strawberry jam.

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5. Seal the jars, turn them upside down, let them cool and keep them stored in the fridge.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

How to Make Peach Bundt Cake

There’s one fruit that I look forward to all year; a fruit that just won’t do if it’s out of season, and that’s peaches. This juicy, flavour-packed fruit is always worth the wait, and you just won’t be able to find it in the cold weather months.

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When peaches hit the shelves near the end of summer, I buy them by the basketful. When I’m not eating fresh peaches, I look for ways to incorporate them into every other dish. Chutneys, salads, grilled and sautéed… These are all great ways to consume this delicious stone fruit. But really, I’m a sucker for cake.

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I love making this peach bundt cake — it’s stuffed full of peaches and if you like, topped with even more. I highly recommend serving it still warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a nice big dollop of fresh whipped cream.

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Ingredients:
1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour, plus 1 Tbsp
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp  salt
½ cup whipping cream
4 large peaches (or 6 small) cut in large dice

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a bundt tin and set aside. In a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat on high after each addition. Add vanilla extract. Beat batter on high for 4 minutes until very pale and fluffy.
2. In a separate bowl combine 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture along with cream and mix on low speed just until combined. Toss your chopped peaches in 1 Tbsp of flour and gently fold into your batter. The flour helps stop the peaches from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
3. Pour the batter into prepared tin and bake in the center of preheated oven for 1 hour or until golden brown and a skewer comes out of the cake clean.
4. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes. Don’t be tempted to remove the cake any sooner or you’ll risk having some stuck inside the tin.
5. Eat with a big spoonful of chopped peaches, ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

11 Foods That Should Never Be Refrigerated

Call me weird, but I really hate putting away the groceries. There’s never any room in the fridge and I now know why. I’ve been putting foods I don’t need to refrigerate in my already-crowded fridge!

Have a look at the list below (I’m going home and taking out #3, #6, #7 and #9 immediately)!

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1. Honey

No need to put honey in the fridge, it’ll just thicken and crystallize which is really annoying to scoop out but perfectly fine. Honey is all natural so it stays good almost indefinitely in the pantry. In fact, a 1000-year-old jar of honey will be as fresh as the day it was put into that jar.

2. Avocados

Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, you can put them in the fridge for a week. Best to keep avocados whole, not sliced, to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air. Also if you want them to ripen faster, put them on top of your fridge in a paper bag.

3. Hot sauce

I didn’t know this but you can keep it in the pantry for up to three years!

4. Coffee

The fridge (and the freezer) create condensation which affect the flavour of both ground coffee and coffee beans. It’ll also absorb odours in the fridge. My mom actually uses coffee grounds instead of baking soda for its odour-absorbing powers. Keep coffee in an airtight container in the pantry.

5. Onions

Avoid direct sunlight. Keep them in a cool, dry place but NOT next to your potatoes. When stored together, both deteriorate faster. Moisture in your fridge will turn onions soft and moldy–yuck.

6. Potatoes

Putting them in the fridge affects the flavour and texture (they become gritty) Store in the pantry in paper bags (plastic bags trap moisture and speed decay). Most varieties should last three weeks but not next to the onions (See #5).

7. Bread

Did you know refrigeration will dry your bread out quicker? It’ll also make it tough and less tasty. Unless it’s sliced bread you plan on using in the next few days, keep it in the freezer or the counter.

8. Tomatoes

Tomatoes lose all their flavour in the fridge because the cold stops the ripening process. It also messes with the texture and them mealy and mushy.

9. Melons

You really shouldn’t store any whole melon fruit in the fridge. Once it’s cut though, that’s another story. There’s research that shows refrigerating whole melons decreases the antioxidants – that’s the good stuff you want.

10. Garlic

Store them in a cool, dry and ventilated container to preserve their powerful flavour. Once the head has been broken open, use the cloves within 10 days.

11. Oils

Nut oils (like hazelnut oil or peanut oil) must be refrigerated, but for other types of oil keep them in the pantry. They become cloudy and harden when refrigerated. While this doesn’t do lasting damage, it’s a pain to wait for the oil to warm up before it flows properly again.

How to Make Berry Tea Popsicles

How to make Berry Popsicles

Nothing much beats the thirst-quenching bliss that comes from sipping on a cold and sweaty beaded glass of iced tea on a hot summer’s day — except when you turn that same glass of iced tea into a cold berry popsicle.

Stay cool this summer by making these easy and refreshing pops; just add a handful of fresh, plump, in-season strawberries and blueberries to some ready-made, subtlety-sweet raspberry tea for a bright and healthy treat bursting with juicy flavours and an intense pop of colour.

How to make Fresh Berry Tea Popsicles

Berry Tea Popsicles

Makes: 8 Popsicles

Ingredients:
6 to 8 large strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup Pure Leaf Raspberry Iced Tea (or you can use unflavoured iced tea)

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients and pour into popsicle maker and freeze until ready.

BonnieMo Bonnie Mo is a Toronto-based editor and the face behind Food Network Canada’s 1 Dish, 2 Ways column. She’s also a contributing editor over at slice.ca. For more recipe ideas, visit bonniemo.ca, or catch her on Instagram @bonniemo.

The Raspberry Refresher Smoothie

This simple, nutritious and refreshing smoothie is the perfect energy boost pre workout or great for replenishing your body post workout. Featuring an electrolyte hydrator packed with the essential electrolytes your body needs to stay hydrated when you exercise, you’ll be replacing your regular coffee with this healthy smoothie day in and day out. Feel free to sub any flavour or brand of your choosing, but the berry flavour pairs perfectly with the raspberry and banana.

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Ingredients (makes 2 servings):
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 frozen banana
1 packet Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator, berry flavour
1 Tbsp fresh mint
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 1/4 cup coconut water (or use 1 cup coconut water & 1/4 cup fresh orange juice)
1 cup ice cubes

Directions:
In a Vitamix or high powered blender combine all the ingredients until smooth.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Bourbon Soaked Cherries with Vanilla Ice Cream

This dessert is simple and quick to make, and the combination of smooth vanilla ice cream topped with tender, bourbon-spiked cherries is to die for. Enjoy this boozy treat outside during those hot summer months, after a long day at work.

Cherries Jubilee

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1 pound pitted sweet cherries, halved
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 fluid ounce bourbon
pinch of kosher salt
1 pint vanilla bean ice cream

Directions:
1. In a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat, combine the cherries, brown sugar, and unsalted butter. Cook gently until the butter and sugar have melted and the cherries begin to release some of their juice. Continue to stir until the mixture is bubbling gently, about five minutes.
2. Stir in the bourbon and kosher salt. Cook for an additional five minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in lemon juice to taste and let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes.
4. Divide ice cream between six bowls and top with a cherry mixture.

amanda riva Amanda Riva is the host of The Hot Plate, a free online cooking show dedicated to inspiring culinary confidence in new cooks. The Hot Plate also offers regular cooking tips and advice, how-tos, and information on seasonal ingredients. 

Amanda Riva is part of the Blog Network family.

Made Easy: The New Year, New You Green Smoothie

It’s 2015 and chances are you are A) Still nursing one heck of a hangover or B) Making a resolution of some sort to eat healthier. Smoothies are a great way to pack in lots of veggies when you don’t have the time or appetite to munch on a salad, and unlike a juice, you get all the healthy fibre from the skin and pulp, making you feel fuller longer.

KaleSmoothie_smoothie

In this smoothie, the sweetness of the apple juice helps temper the bitterness and grainy texture of kale, while the frozen blueberries keeps the smoothie cold and adds a tinge of tartness. Ginger has long been used as a home remedy to help with an upset stomach, but more importantly, its spice adds a nice kick to the end of every sip. Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your taste and experiment with other greens and fruits you have on hand. Smoothies are also a great way to use up greens that are starting to wilt and would otherwise look sad in a salad.

If you want to cut down on the amount of sugar, replace the apple juice with almond or coconut milk and add an additional teaspoon of maple syrup or honey. A scoop of unflavoured protein powder would also make this a nice breakfast option on the go.

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Ingredients (makes one serving):

1 1/2 cups kale, stems removed and chopped finely
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped finely
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup apple cider or juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger*
1 teaspoon maple syrup

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Directions:

  1. Blend all the ingredients in a blender until everything is well mixed and liquefied. Drink immediately.

*The easiest way to peel ginger is to scrape the skin off with the edge of a spoon.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

Guilty Kitchen: Banana Bread Ice Cream

Recently, a friend and neighbour gave me four pounds of overripe bananas. Living in a small community, the grocery store had become over run with the things and needed to get rid of them. So I cooked banana bread, duh. But I still had a surplus of bananas sitting around. So I started digging through the fridge and pantry, and I found everything I needed to make a seriously delicious ice cream that would taste just like the banana bread I just made!

This ice cream is a step up from your average one-ingredient banana ice cream, of which I am not a big fan (too icy!) and takes you to a whole new level of flavour, and it’s so easy to make. The peanut butter and stracciatella are optional, but they do pair nicely with the flavours of the banana bread. Cause, you know, I eat my banana bread smothered in peanut butter and sometimes, Nutella. Doesn’t everybody?

Get my delicious banana bread recipe here, and then get started on this delicious ice cream below:

Banana Bread Ice Cream
Makes 1 litre

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

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Ingredients:

The Bread
2 pounds ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup half & half (or for a creamier ice cream use all heavy cream)
2 teaspoon vanilla

The Peanut Butter Chunks
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky, natural or not so natural)
1 Tablespoon icing sugar

The Stracciatella
3 ounces dark chocolate
1 Tablespoon + 1 tsp butter

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Directions:

  1. In small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook until it begins to foam and bubble, but do not stir. Cook until foam dissipates and you are left with a browned butter.
  2. In 2 small baking dishes (such as 9? rounds), slice bananas into coins. Pour browned butter over bananas and coat. Bake in 400°F oven for 20-25 minutes. The bananas should begin to caramelize and be slightly golden in colour when you take them out. Allow to cool before next step.
  3. In a blender or food processor, purée the banana/butter mixture with the sour cream.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat cream with brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Do not allow to boil, but just bring to a high enough temperature that the cream begins to steam and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
  5. Cool to room temperature and add to blender or food processor with puréed bananas. Blend until smooth.
  6. Pour into bowl or container, cover and refrigerate over night. This is your ice cream base.
  7. In a small bowl, mix peanut butter and icing sugar until well blended.
  8. On a cookie sheet spoon out small teaspoon sized portions of peanut butter. Place in freezer overnight.
  9. Over a double boiler or a metal bowl, set over a pot of gently-boiling water, melt chocolate and butter together until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
  10. Remove ice cream base from refrigerator, place in ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your machine.
  11. When the ice cream is basically done, begin to drip the chocolate in a fine stream into the ice cream. This will create the stracciatella (little bits of chocolate that melt in your mouth).
  12. Remove ice cream from machine, stir in peanut butter chunks and freeze for at least four hours.

Elizabeth-Nyland-0012-2 Elizabeth Nyland, author behind “Cooking with Coconut Oil: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Recipes for Good Living” and “Cooking with Avocados: Delicious Gluten-Free Recipes for Every Meal” is also a mother of two and is the blogger behind guiltykitchen.com, a food, fitness and health blog that’s been going strong since 2009. You can find Elizabeth in her home gym lifting heavy things, in her kitchen cooking up new recipes or at the bakery down the street attempting to uncover the world’s best doughnut.

Elizabeth Nyland is part of the Lifestyle Blog Network  family.

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Topics: Banana Bread, Ice Cream, Dessert

Made Easy: Spiced Peach Punch

One of the best parts of summer here in Ontario is peach season, which runs from late July to late September when farmers markets and produce aisles overflow with gorgeous baskets of plump and vibrant pink peaches. You can tell if a peach is ready to eat by holding it up to your nose and smelling its juicy aroma. And when it’s ripe you better eat them fast because they tend to turn within three or four days (they’ll last another day in the fridge, but bring them back to room temperature before eating).

Typically when home cooks have an excess of peaches (since you’re more likely to buy a basket of 10 than just one) they turn to making preserves or pies, but try making this easy and quick spiced peach puree drink that can be served hot or cold as we transition to fall. Consider this as the gateway drink before you full switch to pumpkin spice lattes.

Spiced Peach Punch

peach drink

Ingredients:
8 ripe peaches
2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup whole milk

Directions:

  1. Remove the pit from the peaches and chop them into smaller pieces. Don’t bother removing the skins. In a blender, puree the peaches and the milk until smooth.
  2. In a pot over medium-low heat, pour in the peach mixture and add in the spices. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Yields 3 to 3 1/2 cups of peach puree, depending on how juicy the peaches are.
  4. Serve hot in a mug like an apple cider, or pour some over oatmeal. Alternatively, chill in the fridge for a spicy, pick-me-up breakfast smoothie or serve it as a chilled appetizer soup with fresh mint leaves as garnish.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

Related:

How to Make Summer Fruit Popsicles

FN_RReardin_13Aug1

In case you weren’t aware already, it’s really hot outside. Even on the days that our iPhones tell us it’s only 20ºC, we still find ourselves in a sweaty, frizzy-haired mess. And since we still have a few more weeks left of summer, I’m sharing the ultimate recipe for the quintessential frozen treat.

No, I’m not talking about the Frappucino you opt for over a steamy cup of coffee (no-brainer), or that cup of FroYo you eat for dinner a couple times a week (it’s summer vacation—duh!). I’m talking about the perfect, healthy alternative to tasty frozen desserts.

Instead of blowing all your money (and bikini bod!) on candy-covered yogurt and Frappa-whatevers, try my easy, inexpensive and refreshing recipes for real fruit popsicles.

Whether you make them for a mid-day snack or a BBQ dessert, you’re in for a real treat.

FN_RReardin_13Aug2

Ingredients:

  • Popsicle molds (I got mine from Ikea)
  • Orange juice
  • Vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Strawberries
  • Peach
  • Raspberries
  • Banana
  • Kiwi
  • Blueberries
  • Ice
  • Large popsicle sticks
  • Gel pen
  • Magic Bullet Blender

FN_RReardin_13Aug3

Directions:

1. I started with writing the different fruit combinations as labels on the popsicle sticks: fruit punch (a mix of whole fruit slices with orange juice), strawberry-banana (blended together), and blueberry-raspberry (blended separately with vanilla Greek yogurt).

FN_RReardin_13Aug4

2. Prepare by slicing the kiwi and peach, and a few strawberries for the fruit punch popsicles (you can leave them whole for the strawberry-banana popsicles).

3. Using a blender (I used the Magic Bullet), blend strawberries and bananas with ice. Then blend raspberries, ice and vanilla Greek yogurt (about half as much as you made for with the strawberry-banana mix), followed by blueberries, ice and vanilla Greek yogurt. By the end you will have three different fruit blends. You can put the blueberry one in the fridge—we’ll get to that later.

FN_RReardin_13Aug5

4. Pour the raspberry mix until the halfway mark of the container, and pour the strawberry-banana mix to the brim of the container. For the fruit punch pops, place kiwi, peach, strawberries and blueberries in the containers, and fill them with orange juice.

FN_RReardin_13Aug6

5. Using the cardboard packaging from the popsicle molds to secure the sticks, place the labelled popsicle sticks into the molds, and put them in the freezer. After about two hours, take them out, and top the raspberry pops off with the blueberry mix, then put them back in the fridge and leave them overnight.

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6. Ready to enjoy the pops? Run each mold briefly under warm water (but don’t let the warm water touch the popsicle!) and they should slide right out. Enjoy!

FN_RReardin_13Aug8

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

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3-Minute Summer Dessert Recipe: Caramel Apple Dip

FN_RReardin_18July

Whether it’s due to our jam-packed summer schedules or our somewhat carefree (read: forgetful) warm weather lifestyle, BBQs, dinner dates and other under-the-sun soirees seem to pop out of no where this time of year. Of course, we’re so happy and grateful for the many events with friends and family, but they tend to leave us in a bit of a tizzy until we figure out what to bring.

No need to waste your summer days in shops or stuck in the kitchen. We have an amazing recipe for a delicious dessert that only takes three minutes to make. Let us introduce you to your new answer to that dreaded question, “what can I bring?” Caramel apple dip.

Only requiring three ingredients (plus the apples), this easy recipe will allow you to bring a thoughtful, homemade treat to any event, while saving your time, money, and looking bad in front of your loved ones.

Ingredients:

Light cream cheese
Caramel sauce
SKOR bits
Granny Smith apples, sliced

Directions:

  1. Using a spoon, smooth layer of light cream cheese over the bottom of a bowl.
  2. Pour caramel sauce on top.
  3. Sprinkle SKOR bits on top, and serve.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

 

Related:

3 Yummy Recipes to Go Bananas Over

FN_RReardin_11July

Bananas—our go-to fruit for smoothies, dessert bread, and of course, ice cream sundaes. But we’re always trying to discover new, delectable ways to bake with them.

Because bananas are one of those rare fruits that always seem to be in season, it only makes sense to find more ways to eat them!

So we’ve gathered some of the most delicious, OMG-inducing recipes featuring everyone’s fave yellow fruit. Whether you’re in the mood for an extra-sweet breakfast dish, deep fried dessert, or a sweet-and-salty snack, here are three new ways to start baking with bananas.

One: Sometimes we get introduced to a new and exciting dish that’s so darn good, we can’t believe we never thought of it before. Like this, Banana Bread French Toast.

Two: For a stellar recipe you’ve probably never tried, check out these Banana Rum Fritters with Chocolate Sauce and Coconut-Rolled Ice Cream. Warning: you might be tempted to make this every week.

Three: Well, we’ve done it. We’ve put pretty well covered anything you’d ever want in a dessert, into one, single cookie. I mean, does it get any better than chocolate, peanut butter, and banana? You have to try our recipe for Banana Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Drizzle!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup ripe, mashed bananas (about 1 1/2 bananas)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips (garnish)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the peanut butter and beat, and then the eggs and beat. Mix in the bananas, and then fold in the dry ingredients and mix.
  4. Measure out 1 Tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball, place on baking sheet and then using a fork, and press a crisscross pattern into each ball, making them about half an inch thick.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden.
  6. Melt chocolate chips in microwave, about 60-90 seconds. Stir until smooth, and drizzle over cookies.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

 

Related:

Top 3 Summer Fruit Salads

 

fruit salad

Fruit salad may be our go-to snack year round, but it’s even better in July. Not only is it a healthy and energy-boosting treat, but it’s the time of year when all your favourite fruits are in season. That means they’re fresher, juicier, and just plain tastier!

Here are some easy and unique flavour-enhancing tips to make fruit salad that much better.

From the perfect mixture for a berry-enthusiast, to a chic mélange featuring salty feta cheese, these three fruit salad combos will ensure you’ll never get tired of your favourite healthy snack.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

 

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