delightful summer recipes

popsicle champagne

one of my favourite things about summer is the abundance of fresh and colourful food – i head to the farmers market every weekend in search of organic berries, tomatoes and the like. these are recipes i can’t wait to try this summer – how amazing would that watermelon frosty be on a hot summer day? nothing better i’d say! well, maybe i spoke too soon; how ridiculously cute is that popsicle champagne idea above? to find the recipe for each, click on the photo.

check out my catalog of beautiful food over on pinterest – it’s guaranteed to inspire you to try something new and different!

blueberry cake

thai noodles

watermelon frosty

avocado

pavlova

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how to: scented butter

scented butter

often times, a fancy touch can be a lot more simple than you’d think. such is the case with this little recipe for scented butter; add your favourite flavours to butter (in my case it was lemon zest and parsley), a pinch of sea salt, mix it up and store it in your fridge for up to a month.

its a nice little treat on bread, in sauces, over pasta or steak. i took it a step further and wrapped it up in plastic, parchment and a bow, gifting it to friends as they left my place after a visit. it’s always nice to make someone’s day with a sparkle!

ingedients

mix it up

recipe: oatmeal chocolate coconut clusters

oatmeal chocolate coconut clusters

these cluster style cookies are perfect for those of us who still love a treat, but are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. these are hearty and healthier than the average because i’ve used whole wheat flour, olive oil, unsweetened coconut, a smaller amount of brown sugar and dark chocolate. they are heavy on texture so you feel satisfied without over indulging and while they aren’t super sweet, the chunks of dark chocolate keep your sweet tooth in check. i adapted the recipe from martha stewart, and i double the recipe below to throw half in the freezer for later. also, if you have gluten allergies, like nuts in your cookies, prefer it a little sweeter, tweak as you like! this is a dairy free recipe minus the chocolate.

{the sparkle} oatmeal chocolate coconut cluster recipe:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup
  • 1/3 cup (or 2/3 cup) packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate (chunked or chips)

method:

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. in a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients; set aside.
    dry ingredients
  2. in a large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla. add dry ingredients , and stir to combine; mix in chocolate. mixture may seem a little dry, but that’s normal.chocolate chunks
  3. using two tablespoons of dough per cookie, roll into balls; place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.cookies on sheet
  4. cool 5 minutes on sheets, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. freeze while warm.

on the cheap: holy crap cereal

holy crap‘ is a cereal mixture of buckwheat, chia seed, hulled hemp hearts and dried fruit. the high fiber and omega oils do wonderful things for your body, and i eat this stuff almost daily on my oatmeal. here’s the thing: this healthy eating stuff gets expensive. one bag costs about $10 and lasts just over a week. with this in mind, i decided to start making my own. it’s easy to just buy the uncomplicated ingredients from the bulk section at your grocery or health food store, throw it in a sealed bag or jar and save your money for a bottle of good wine (balance!).

nutritional info:

holy crap nutritional info

recipe: bacon wrapped candied salmon

bacon wrapped candied salmon

i came up with the idea for bacon wrapped candied salmon as i was strolling the aisles at whole foods. i don’t know about you, but i am such fan of salmon and maple and bacon, so throwing these together is instant satisfaction. it’s a pleasing snack to serve friends at a dinner party, or simply as an appy to share over wine. sweet and salty is my favourite flavour combination, and i couldn’t stop popping these in my mouth after i prepped ’em!

here’s how i did it:

roast bacon

have you ever roasted bacon? thanks to my guru, ina garten, i was inspired to try and never looked back. i highly recommend this method – it’s so low maintenance – you literally lay it out, and come back 20 minutes later to perfectly crispy goodness. best tip i could ever give you is to line the baking sheet with foil… for obvious reasons.

dab and wrap

p.s: check out all of my recipes over at my recipe box!

foodie finds: vancouver’s best food

foodie finds

let me help you find the best food in vancouver… it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it and i’m happy to be the ‘chosen one’! february was a very social month full of outings with girlfriends, my boyfriend and business meals; proudly and happily, i scratched three “must try” vancouver spots off my ever growing list.

these are my favourite foodie finds for the month. if you’re planning a visit to vancouver, i HIGHLY recommend trying these restaurants, and if you live in vancouver, lucky you!

boneta

boneta

this place is a vancouver institution, and my boyfriend took me for valentines day. i was so impressed and enjoyed everything we ordered. the octopus chips are a must try, but unfortunately, my camera wasn’t able to get a decent shot in the dim light (#foodieproblems). natasha henstridge and her date were at the next table, so i guess this place must be special; apparently she’s a regular here!

italian kitchen

italian kitchen

this spot holds one of my favourite dishes in vancouver. you must go for the truffle cream spaghetti with the kobe meatballs. the pasta platter was a treat at lunch shared between a few of us.

milano

milano coffee roasters

this is a great spot in gastown (there’s other locations throughout vancouver, too). with the neighbourhood feel and the modern yet comfortable atmosphere, you must try the carrot cake (dare i say “the best i’ve ever had”) – the coffee is also unbelievable.

tableau

tableau bistro

this spot has been in my rotation since august of last year when they hosted my 30th birthday party. i would say i’m somewhat of a regular at this french style bistro, and the lamb shank with risotto was a pleasure to eat.

cactus club

cactus club cafe

often, i shy away from chain restaurants, but during a business lunch, i tried these two swoon worthy dishes. their menu had a recent re-design by celeb chef rob feenie and let me tell you, i’m very impressed with the improvements!

nicli

nicli antica pizzeria

to call this pizza is almost unrepresentative of what it is. the flavours are clear and fresh; this must be the closest to authentic neapolitan pizza you’ll find in the western hemisphere. the ceasar salad was equally delicious.

labattoir

l’abattoir

this is a spot i’ve been dying to try since it opened. it’s received fierce critical acclaim, and these two dishes lived up to it. the mixtures of textures and flavours were done to pure perfection at this modern french style restaurant.

commune

commune cafe

it’s a cafe to enjoy a great coffee and erin ireland’s ‘it’s to die for banana bread’ but when i tried the flatbread at lunch with a friend, i was delighted.

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recipe: the kitchen sink salad

everything but the kitchen sink salad

one of my go-to meals is what i call ‘the kitchen sink salad’, meaning ‘use what you have’ and ‘create a masterpiece’. what i love about this version is the mix of flavours and textures, the simplicity and unpretentious approach. not to mention it’s filling and nutritious!

my version is dressed with a drizzle of balsamic crema… yum!

fresh and sweet

tangy and juicy

as you’ll see, it’s as simple as chopping up a few things and tossing them in. one knife, one bowl, one cutting board. swap out one ingredient for another, play with balance and make it your own.

rich and hearty

cool and creamy

p.s: i’ve started a recipe index where you can find all of my recipes in a snap. visit and bookmark it! {the sparkle} recipe box

valentines day: sweet inspiration

valentines day inspiration board

if you’re feeling uninspired this valentines day, hopefully this inspiration board helps to spark some delight!

a few v-day staples like cupcakes, confetti, fancy heels, a glittery dress, a sweet card, cocktails, a special ‘love’ cake and romantic hot chocolate… sweet, cute and romantic – all covered!

valentines day: pop of love

pop of love

we’re two weeks out from that ‘day of love’ – so now might be the time to start planning – these cake pops will definitely impress.

it’s always nice to acknowledge a holiday… even valentines day! while i don’t fuss over this hallmark holiday* too much, i usually make my sweetheart something special in the kitchen (last year it was this). if you’re feeling extra loving, why not surprise your plus one with some cute cake pops or take them to your single girls v-day? i warn you, they are a project, but why not do something out of the box this year?

red velvet cheesecake pops // pink chocolate pops // red velvet chocolate pops

*hallmark or not, i still swoon when my sweetheart brings home a lil’ something for his lady.

it’s to die for: {the sparkle} feature

its to die for

great food is something i’m passionate about; sometimes, the term ‘foodie’ is putting it mildly. as erin ireland says “why waste calories on food that isn’t ‘to die for’?” and i would tend to agree… perhaps this like way of thinking is why we connected right away! i’ve featured this lovely and influential vancouver food reporter on {the sparkle} back at start up – not only does she know her ‘to die for’ food – she is insanely stylish.

erin asked to feature my “to die for face” in an article all about the food i die for in vancouver. i was honoured and didn’t miss a beat grabbing a thomas haas almond double baked croissant to evoke the reaction. check out the full feature by clicking the photo above!

(if you are looking for spots in vancouver to try out, check my restaurant picks. these are vetted by me and in no way am i paid to endorse anything i recommend. as i find the best spots, the lists are updated so keep an eye out for new additions!)

p.s: have you seen this “sh!t foodies say” video yet?! it’s really hilarious – from my boyfriend’s mouth: “did you write this script?”.