Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Merry! Merry! Matcha Shortbread and Cookbook News!

It's just a handful of days before Christmas, but my biggest and best present came a little early.  All the Sweet Things cookbook went to print today.  Hooray!  Guys, I'm so, so happy.  And proud.  And feeling all the feels.  This has been quite the journey, from the time I was approached by TouchWood almost 2 years ago, to finishing my proposal in June of 2015, to the offer of a contract in July, then the completion of the manuscript this past April.  With the expected publication date of late April 2017, that's almost two years of gestation for my book baby!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Watermelon, Pomegranate and Feta Salad with Mint

This is a sponsored post.  I was compensated financially by the National Watermelon Promotion Board.  As always, I wouldn't tell you about a product unless I really really love it.  And I love watermelon.  

So, we're in the thick of it, aren't we?  Hustling to and fro, going to holiday parties and Christmas concerts, and doing our best to make the season bright.  If you're like me, and busy busy busy, you're behind on your baking and unsure if those Christmas cards will be sent out before the Big Day.  Don't fret.  Do the best you can.  And if in doubt, hum along to Good King Wenceslas.  It works!  I swear!  And, of course, the Plan B is always a shot of something boozy into a hot beverage.  Baileys in hot chocolate is a fave around here!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks

Hey all!  Oh my gosh, long time no chat.  I feel badly about that.  The hours, the days, they are so jam packed lately, it's honestly hard to find time to hang out here.  I hope you understand.  The gigs that pay the money - like my regular food columns and recipes development often come first, because, well, I like to eat good things and I have to pay the mortgage.  And buy cat food!  And save for a new bathroom, because I hate mine so much every time I have a shower.  Speaking of bathrooms, if you follow along with me on social media, you know how I visited Toronto last month for a Food Bloggers of Canada Conference, thanks to the kind and generous sponsorship of Canadian Lentils. My suite was on the 29th floor, next to the CN tower, and it had the most magnificent bathroom that ever was.  Floor to ceiling windows.  Soaker tub, big enough for me to stretch out my long legs, amazing views of the harbour and CN tower.  I felt like the luckiest girl alive.  I would call my handsome farmer back in Sask, and talk to him all the while in the loo.  Sweet soul, he just laughed at me.  I probably spent too much time hanging out in this great bathroom, but who knows when such opportunities will surface again for me.  Seriously, if you find yourself in Toronto, book room 2914 in the new Delta.  It's so good!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Greek Stuffed Zucchini with Rice and Lentils

This is a sponsored post.  I was compensated financially by USA Rice.  All thoughts and feelings and opinions about rice are entirely my own.  As always, I wouldn't tell you about a product  unless I loved it.   

I didn't grow any zucchini this year.  In fact, I didn't grow much of anything except pots of herbs and 3 tomatoes.  No, not tomato plants.  Tomatoes, singular.  I'm not sure why the heck my tomatoes did not flourish, but I have an inkling it's because my yard has become tremendously shady over the past couple of years.  Veg hate shade, that's a known fact.  Good thing I'm dating a vegetable farmer so there has been no shortage of tomatoes, or zucchini or anything else that grows in the ground around here.  If I were an emoji right now, I'd be the one with hearts for eyes.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Thanksgiving Weekend of Fall Favourites

Good gracious, is it me or is this year flying by?   Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend, and yes, we've had our first flakes of snow fall here in Saskatoon.  I see you shudder with disbelief.  Now you know how I feel!  Flannel sheets are now on the bed, and the furnace is now my friend.  Which reminds me, I need to change the filters.  Fall house maintenance.  It's a thing.  Next up is raking all of the leaves (once the snow melts) and my fella has offered to clean out my eaves for me.  What a guy.  There may just be an apple fritter in it for him.  That's right.  I said apple fritters!  I made them recently for an article I was writing and they were so delicious they left me without coherent words.  Only sounds of complete and utter satisfaction were able to leave my lips.  Tasty treats, those apple fritters.  Find the recipe here.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Back-to-School With Pulses: Carrot Lentil Muffins & Spaghetti with Chickpea Tomato Sauce

Backpacks are bursting with pencils and notebooks as the kids head back to school this week.  The excitement of a fresh start is in the air, and with this fresh start comes a shift in focus on how we eat.  Meals need to be simple and quick, yet nutritious and tasty.  We want snacks to be healthy, and yet we don't want to find them lingering in the bottom of the lunch bag at the end of the day.  That's where pulses come in handy.  2016 in International Year of Pulses (lentils, chickpeas, dried peas and beans), and if you have yet to take the Pulse Pledge, I urge you to do so and peruse the website for all kinds of fantastic ways to incorporate pulses into your back-to-school menu plans.  You basically sign up to eat 1/2 cup of pulses a week, which is so easy to do.  Bursting with protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, pulses are essentially superfoods.  They are good for the heart, manage blood sugar levels and help in weight management.  Gluten free and vegetarian, pulses are tremendously versatile.  I love adding them to just about everything: main dishes, breakfast, as a side dish and even dessert.  One of their many positive attributes is they take on the flavour of whatever you cook them with.  Plus, they are a super affordable source of protein.  One pound of lentils is a fraction of what 1 pound of ground beef costs.  These things matter when it comes to feeding a family.  Pulses are also super good for the environment.  They fix their own nitrogen in the soil, making them a sustainable crop.  Highly water-efficient, they enrich the soil where they grow.  Canada is the world's largest producer and exporter of pulses, and if you took a road trip across Saskatchewan this summer, I bet you drove by a lentil field and didn't even know it. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Just in Time: Honey Lime Peach Tart

Every time I look at the calendar I have to blink a few times.  Is it really September already?  Summer certainly gets a speeding ticket.  It seems like yesterday when I was putting the finishing touches on the cookbook edits and summer was waiting in the wings.  Today I'm wearing socks and on my third cup of tea.  Fall is in the air, but I'm not too keen to rush into the sweaters and scarves and pumpkin pie just yet.  There are 6 months of that to come.  For me, it's still ice cream and all of the seasonal fruit that I love so much.  Peaches, nectarines, Concord grapes, strawberries.  I can't even look at a pumpkin as long as these are still around!  I wait all winter for summer to come, so you better believe I'll hold on as long as I can.  But, I'm no fool.  The smell of fall is wafting around, and the first golden leaves are falling.  I do like these end of summer days, and can certainly feel a transition happening.  Most of our lives are spent in transition.  The sweet passing moments between the moments; the rhythmic flows between the words.  Let's love the transitions like they're destinations.  Let's put all the worries and stress aside and just appreciate how nicely the sun goes down. And how tasty that ice cream is.  And how good it feels to have the hand of someone you love holding your own.    

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Summer Lovin': Links and Other Good Stuff to Tell You

"Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."  ~  Henry James

So, the calendar says it's August 20th and I can't quite believe it.  Time has flown by this summer and I feel like I wanted to accomplish so much more than I did, but that's pretty much how I always feel once the last days of summer are upon us.  One thing is for sure, I've eaten this Caprese Salad every day for lunch this past week, because Summer and Tomatoes.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Love! Links! Plus, Sour Cherry & Chocolate Scones!

"Millions and millions of years would still not give me half enough time to describe that tiny instant of all eternity when you put your arms around me and I put my arms around you."  ~ Jacques Prévert

Hello.  It's me.  Renée.  The blogger who has been missing in action for quite some time.  It's been forever since I last posted, and what can I say?  The summer has been keeping me occupied - with cookbook edits and work and the yard and visitors and small bits of travel here and there.  Oh, and I'm in love.  With a handsome, kind, sweet, funny man who lights up my life every single day.  This is the kind of love I've been looking for, and just when I had nearly given up hope on finding it, there he was, right under my nose.  I'm terribly happy.  The kind of happy that makes people tell you you're glowing.  The kind of happy where you can't stop smiling.  It's been nearly 3 months and I'm glowing and smiling all the time.  But, especially with him.  When we're together it's kittens and rainbows and lightning bolts and, well, magic.  It's love.  So, now that you know my story do you forgive me for my absence?  I thought so. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Grilled Portabella Mushroom Salad with Halloumi and Quinoa

Did you greet the arrival of summer with a great big grin like I did?  Oh, what a feeling!  Things have been bonkers busy around here for the month of June.  My mom came to visit for a few days, then I was consumed with working on the first round of edits for my cookbook - and now I'm on to round two.  With not much time on my hands, meals have been quick and simple, and that's another reason I love this time of year so very much - you can throw stuff on the grill and dinner is essentially done.  Take this salad I made for the fine folks over at Mushrooms Canada.  I grilled some meaty portabella mushrooms and thick slices of halloumi cheese, which I then served over a mixture of quinoa, arugula and plenty of herbs from my kitchen garden.  The result was a delicious, healthy and satisfying summer salad.  For the recipe, head to the Mushrooms Canada blog.  Enjoy these days, friends.  I'll be back soon, once the edits are done and I have just a little more time on my hands.   Until then, eat all the ice cream and wish on the shooting stars.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fire Roasted Tomato Stuffed Peppers & A Muir Glen Giveaway!

With the recent glorious weather here in Saskatoon, can I just say how much I love eating outside?   Last night it was dinner and this morning it was breakfast.  There is something quite spectacular about sipping coffee while the robins sing from the treetops.  As the sun shone  through the leaves, falling on my rock garden, it’s as if the ferns were unfurling before my eyes.  This summer stuff is going to be good stuff.  I’ve got a feeling.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Batch: Fermented Pancakes with Maple Syrup with Dried Blueberries

I know it's just the middle of May, but aren't you getting excited about summer?  I know I am.  The grass and trees have burst into all of their verdant glory, and my perennials are shooting up from the ground.  I can't wait until my yard is in full bloom.  Better yet, I can't wait until all of the glorious produce is in season.  My favourite farmer has been supplying me with just-picked asparagus, so for the past week I've been eating it daily.  And I figure I will be doing so for the next month or so.  This is also the time to think about what I want to preserve this year.  Sure, apple butter and plum jam are a given, using the fruit from my backyard, but a new cookbook has landed on my doorstep recently and it has made me want to preserve all of the things.  I have a feeling my canner is going to be busy!!

Many of you may already know the blogging duo Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison from Well Preserved, a Toronto-based blog devoted to preserving.  They've recently launched Batch:  Over 200 Recipes, Tips & Techniques For a Well Preserved Kitchen from Appetite by Random House and if any of you have any inclination to preserve anything this summer and fall, this is a must-have for your kitchen.  With beautiful photographs and well-written recipes, plus loads of tips and instructions, the cookbook covers 7 methods of preserving:  dehydrating, cellaring, fermenting, canning, salting, smoking and infusing.  So many options for so many things.  I'm dying to try the Charred Pickled Beets and the Chili Infused Vodka.  Roasted Apricot Vanilla Jam sounds like it would be absolutely divine on scones, and I've always wanted to make Kimchi, and now I have the recipe at my fingertips.  The variety of recipes in this cookbook is impressive, and I know it will be a wonderful resource for many years to come. Congratulations Joel and Dana on an impressive achievement.  You should be very proud!

My love of breakfast, brunch and pancakes is no secret, so my first recipe selection from Batch is Fermented Pancakes with Maple Syrup with Dried Blueberries on page 140.  You might be like, what?  And I'm like, trust me, these are killer.  I first stirred together buttermilk and flour, let it rest on the counter for about 24 hours, then I stirred in some egg yolks and the usual suspects into the batter.  The beaten egg whites at the end gave them a nice lift, but these aren't your traditional pancakes.  With their slight tang and light, almost bubbly texture, they remind me a little bit of the Ethiopian bread injera.  Smothered in a blueberry-infused maple syrup and topped with fresh fruit, I loved every bite.  This may just be my new go-to pancake recipe.  I made them bigger than the recipe called for - partly to save time and partly because I wanted nice, round pancakes.  The batter is quite thin, so the small ones ran into each other.  But, who doesn't like big pancakes!

I'm so happy that Joel, Dana and Appetite by Random House have generously offered one copy of Batch to a lucky reader.  Simply leave a comment below telling me what you plan on preserving this year and a winner will be chosen randomly.

Other wonderful food bloggers are also participating in the giveaway, so be sure to stop by the following for another chance to win!  My lucky winner will be chosen on Monday May 16th, so enter soon!  And happy preserving! 

Getty at GettyStewart.com
Mardi at eat. live. travel. write.
Jan at Family Bites
Kelly at KellyNeil.com 
Amy at Family Feedbag

Valeria at A Canadian Foodie
Isabelle at Crumb
Food Bloggers of Canada 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Things I'm Loving Lately: Spring Edition

While I haven't been sharing many recipes on the blog lately, don't fret that I've turned into an immobile couch lump binge watching Grantchester.   No, that's not my style.  In fact, I don't think I've ever been busier, but in all the best ways.  So, I'm going to catch you up on where you can find some of the recipes I've been writing for on other publications (dream job!) plus I'm going to share some favourite links I've been loving lately.  But first, I must tell you about this wonderful book that found its way into my mailbox recently.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Blueberry Ginger Smoothie and Stuff I've Been Meaning to Tell You

I feel like it's been forever since I've sat down at the computer and just wrote to you guys.  As you can imagine, there's been a whirlwind of activity around here for the past 6 months, and I finally have a few quiet hours to chill in the morning light and just say hey.  The manuscript for my cookbook is in the hands of the publisher and very soon I'm going to get the edits back then the whirlwind of activity will resume - except this time I'll also be working a few days a week at my pastry chef gig and the phrase "how am I going to do it all?" flits in and out of my mind on a loop.  But, as they say, we shall cross that bridge when we come to it.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Finish Line: Roasted Chickpea & Cauliflower Tacos

You guys!  I did it!  The manuscript and photographs for my first ever cookbook are now at the publisher’s and I’m still kinda in shock that hey, I just wrote a cookbook.  No big whoop.  Except of course, it is.  A very big whoop.  I’m still kinda processing the whole experience, really.  When people ask what it was like, all I can say is that I loved it.  So much.  Even the parts where I had to wash dishes until midnight, only remembering then that I never even brushed my teeth that day.  Such was the life!  I want to talk more about it later, after I’ve kinda calmed down a bit, but today, I’m spilling the beans on these really, really good tacos I made my mom went I went to visit her last week.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Homegrown: Kale Tossed Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing

With my manuscript and photographs for the cookbook due in just a handful of days, time around here is tight.  The days are long - testing the last few recipes and going through the manuscript, crossing i's and t's and making sure I make sense.  My house is a mess.  I don't leave the dirty house, unless it's to get groceries and have a little human contact with the outside world.  I can't believe on April 1st, it will be all over.  What in the world will I do with myself?!  I know, clean the house!  Go for a massage!  See friends I haven't seen for 6 months.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but still so much work to do before then.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Black Bean Tostadas

Time is flying by, isn’t it?  We’re already well into March, and spring is definitely in the air given the amount of melting going on around here.  My cookbook manuscript and photographs are due on April 1st, so you can well imagine what I’ve been up to.  I’m almost done the recipes - just 10 left to shoot - and my testers are hard at work making sure everything is turning out the way it’s supposed to.  Let me tell you, having all these sweets in the house sounds pretty dreamy, and for the most part it is, but holy smokes, I’m having to run across the street with a dozen cream puffs for my neighbours, or calling up friends asking them to take away a cake.  I figure I’ll need a month of green smoothies to detox from the sugar and butter I’ve accumulated in my system over the past 7 months, but oh my, the treats coming out of my little green kitchen are impressive.  I made French honey crullers the other day, and oh lord, I swooned.  Needless to say, meals around here have to be relatively easy and healthy - I don’t have much energy to feed myself after a long day of baking, photographing and writing.  That’s where pulses come in - they are quick, tasty, economical and good for me.  Now if only someone could wash the dishes and give me back rubs…

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Apple Skillet Pancake with Rosemary & Cheddar

Perusing the produce aisle isn’t super fun in February.  The prices are high, the selection isn’t great and it seems like everything has to travel so far to get to Saskatoon, especially the fruit.  I don’t even look at the fresh berries, and I don’t like melons.  Bananas are only good for banana bread in my world, and mangoes are alright, but you never quite know what you’re going to get when you slice them open.  This lack of availability combined with my pickiness means I load up on gorgeous citrus because it tastes so good right now, frozen berries and apples.  All the apples.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Braised Chicken Thighs in a Mushroom Lemon Cream Sauce

It's a cold day across most parts of Canada - I know I had to throw an extra blanket on the bed last night and I don't dare go anywhere in my house without slippers on my feet.  It's a day for staying in and being cozy with your favourite people.  And, two words:  comfort food.  There's nothing better than curling up with a steaming bowl of something gorgeous and I've got just the right recipe for you.  The kind folks at Mushrooms Canada asked me to be a guest in their kitchen again, and I knew right away I wanted to use chicken thighs because 1) They're super economical right now.  2) Bone-in and skin-on thighs have loads of flavour, perfect for braising.  And 3) Chicken + Mushrooms = Together 4 Eva.  It's a great combo, especially when you throw cream and lemon juice into the mix. The meat just falls off the bone after 40 minutes of braising and the sauce, oh man, the sauce is delicious, great served over pasta or mashed potatoes.  If you are staying in and cooking for your love bug this Valentine's weekend, you'll find the recipe here.  Light some candles, pour the wine, and let love rule.     


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Five Whole Years (!!) and a Few Favourite Things

When I first started writing this blog, I had no idea what I was a) doing, and b) getting myself into.  I never in a million years expected it to be anything more than a little chat about what I was making in my little green kitchen.  But then I fell in love with my little corner of the internet universe, and like anything else when it comes to love, you work at it.  Often.  I'd come to this space whenever I had a second or two free from my full-time chef gig, with hopes (and dreams!) of one day writing more at home and working in kitchens less.  Five years later, that is my current reality, which still blows my mind a little.  Okay, a lot.  I've come a long way since that very first post about pears and waffles.  Don't laugh at those photos!  I had no idea what I was doing!  Besides being a creative outlet, the blog has opened up all kinds of opportunities for me.  I've been lucky and traveled to Washington State, Toronto, Montreal, and Southern Saskatchewan, twice.  I've met other bloggers who've turned out to be sweet, sweet friends.  I've gotten freelance writing gigs for newspapers and food magazines.  And of course, I'm near the end of writing my very first cookbook.  All because of this blog, and hard, hard work.  In short, Sweetsugarbean changed my life.  This was not what I had in mind when I sat at my computer in January of 2011 and pressed "publish" for the first time.  But holy smokes, I'm so happy the way things have turned out.  Thanks to all of you who have been with me from the beginning, and to those who have just joined in.  I'm so happy to have you here!  Giant hugs and kisses all around!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Pulse Pledge: Chickpea and Lentil Curry with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Eleven days into the new year, and how is everyone doing?  Apart from the clothes fitting noticeably tighter than perhaps a month ago, things are swell here.  I also just got back from Toronto, where I was fortunate to meet up with old friends and pretty much eat all the things.  If you were following me on Instagram, you probably saw the divine burger from Burger's Priest, or the crispy chicken bun from Momofuku, or my first ever Krispy Kreme doughnut.  I totally wasn't messing around.  Then there was the fantastic private lunch with Chef Michael Smith and a handful of other Canadian food bloggers at the beautiful Fairmont Royal York.  We enjoyed a bit of a tapas menu featuring pulses - lentils, chickpeas, dry peas and beans - and one day I hope to recreate a chickpea beignet like the one I tasted there.  So good.  Then there was Pulse Feast, a party to kick off International Year of Pulses.  I mingled with pulse growers from the prairies, other food media and chefs.  It was a grand time, full of inspiring conversation and fantastic food, featuring pulses of course.  I swear there was a platter of lentil fritters following me around all night.  Sweets!  I can't escape them!  

Friday, January 1, 2016

Good Feeling: Sweet & Spicy Rosemary Pecans

"Anything can happen, anything can be!"  ~ Shel Silverstein

One of my favourite songs ever is "Good Feeling", by the Violent Femmes.  The general gist is how you wish for that good feeling to stay with you, just a little longer.  I suppose that's how I feel about this bright and shiny new year.  All of the good stuff that came my way in 2015, I want it to stick around for as long as possible.  2015 will be remembered as the Year of My Amazing Luck, which is a nice upgrade from the years of "Enough Already", and "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"  2013, 2014, I'm looking at you.  I like the turning over of a new calendar year.  Like our buddy Shel said, anything can happen.   That's the brilliant thing about a blank slate - you can set intentions for how you want your life to unfold.  Obviously you won't always get what you want, but then again, you very well may.  I hope that 2016 is full of magic and adventure, courage and creativity.  May there be more laughter than tears, and more hellos that goodbyes.  I'm sending off 2015 with a grateful heart, and I'm eager to see what this new year will look like.  No doubt it won't always be smooth sailing, but I've got a good feeling we're all gonna rock it.  Happy New Year!  
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