Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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Since I’m picnicking over on the Bicyclette blog today for this week’s edition of Take Me Out, I figured I might as well post one of my all-time favourite picnic recipes here for all of you wonderful people. This recipe was originally taught to me by my incredibly talented friend Laura (the best vegan cook I know) a few years ago, and though I’ve tweaked it a little bit, I’ve cherished it as one of the best vegan sandwich recipes in my recipe book ever since.

I haven’t eaten fish in a few years, but it was the last thing I gave up when I went veg because I love it so much, and I’m always on the lookout for fishy vegetarian substitutes that can fill the sea creature void in my diet. I mean, no mermaid should be eating her friends from the ocean right? Fish are friends, not food!

Anyway, this recipe is so delicious and flavourful that it’s just as good as the real thing, and unlike its real tuna counterpart, it doesn’t hurt the already suffering ocean and feed into overfishing. You can use it to make vegan tuna melts, tuna casserole, or just classic cold tuna sandwiches like I did. I promise, you won’t be fish-appointed (it’s been a long week, don’t judge me.)

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Ingredients:

Half a block of firm tofu, frozen overnight and then thawed
1 bunch chopped green onion
1 cup Veganaise (or normal mayo if you’re not vegan)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
A tiny pinch of smoked paprika
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
A bit of carrot, celery, onion, or anything else you like in tuna salad!

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Method:

Drain the liquid out of the tofu after it has thawed by pressing on it with paper towel. Once it is dry and spongy, use a fork to flake the tofu. Because you have frozen it the night before, the tofu will crumble and flake easily, and the texture will be much better!

Now here’s the best part: all you have to do is mix all of the ingredients up in a bowl and serve! I added two stalks of chopped celery to my batch for extra crunch, and served the tuna salad on brown bread. It tasted heavenly, and was so convincing that even the cats went after it! Let me know how you serve it okay? I’m always open to new tasty ideas!

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Photography by Brianne Burnell

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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Guess what? The Toronto Japanese Film Fest starts in just a few days! To celebrate, I’ve been coming up with all sorts of fun movie night recipes, playing around with some of my favourite flavours like green tea, and trying to get my hands on some sakura extract!

I’m feeling super inspired by the incredible films I’ve been able to pre-screen so far, and I wanted to make something influenced in some way by Japanese food, but also a movie night classic. I actually came up with this recipe ages ago when I worked at a local tea shop, but I never quite perfected the measurements, so I gave it another shot. I think it perfectly suits the occasion, don’t you?

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Ingredients

1/2 cup Organic popcorn kernels
2 Tb Canola oil
2 tsp Kosher Salt
2 Tb Sweetened Matcha Powder

Method

Pour about two tablespoons of oil into a heavy bottomed pot, and heat on the stovetop over medium-high. Drop one kernel of popcorn in, and once it pops, drop in the rest, remove the pot from the heat, and shake until everything has popped! (You can use microwave popcorn too, but I like the classic route personally)

Once your popcorn is fully popped, remove it from the pot and put it into a large paper bag (the bigger the better). Sprinkle the salt and matcha onto the popcorn in small portions (don’t dump it all in at once!), and shake the bag like crazy! Continue adding and shaking until your satisfied with the sweet and salty flavour. The listed measurements are what I think works best, but it’s really up to you!

That’s it! Pour your green tea popcorn into a bowl (or a bag if you’re taking it to-go), brew yourself up a cuppa tea (I went with Sloane’s Cherry Blossom Sencha), and tune into to your favourite Japanese film!

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The Toronto Japanese Film Festival will run from June 12-27th, and showcase 18 new films. To get tickets, directions, and read about the films, visit their website!

*This post is sponsored by the Toronto Japanese Film Festival, but I only accept partnerships and sponsors when I feel that they’re in line with my values and interests. If you think your brand might work with Random Acts of Pastel, please send me an email with some information about yourself!*

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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Making granola is seriously one of the easiest and most rewarding recipes I’ve ever come across, and I honestly don’t know why people don’t make it at home more often! I’ve experimented with all sorts of delicious combinations of fruit, nuts, and seeds, and so far I’ve come up with a great tropical pineapple recipe (coming soon!), a simple maple almond raisin mix, and the most healthy of the lot, Goji berry with golden raisins!

This granola recipe is loaded with antioxidants and protein dense seeds, and it has a perfect sweet flavour that offsets the tart taste of the goji berries. I love having a bowl with my smoothie in the morning, or better yet, using it to top off an acai bowl! I posted a picture on Instagram a few weeks ago, and so many of you asked for the recipe that I decided to share it here! Let me know if you try it?

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Ingredients

-2.5 cups gluten free rolled oats
-1/3 cup sunflower seeds
-1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
-1/3 cup goji berries
-1/4 cup chia seeds
-1/4 cup flax seeds
-1/4 cup hemp hearts
-1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
-1/2 cup maple syrup
-1/4 cup agave
-1/4 cup melted earth balance
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp organic vanilla extract
-1 cup golden raisins

Method

Mix all the dry ingredients together except the raisins, then add in the wet ingredients and stir until everything is well covered. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet, and bake for 30-35 minutes at 250, stirring and rotating the pan every 10 minutes (this rule applies to all types of granola!) Once The granola is golden brown and no longer wet, take the pan out of the oven and mix in the raisins. Let everything cool, then store into an airtight container and use within two weeks. If you can’t finish the whole batch before it goes stale, or want to make a bigger batch, give jars of granola to friends and family!

Recipe adapted from The Simple Veganista

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Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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Is there anything sweeter than fresh squeezed lemonade once the Spring sunshine starts up? Well, yes, I think there is actually: there’s floral lemonade!

This may be both the most simple and most delicious thing I have ever made. I’ve been known to covet anything that tastes even remotely like flowers, and this petal-packed lemonade certainly fits the bill. Though some of the ingredients can be hard to find (rose water and violet syrup can be found at The Spice Trader or BYOB if you live in Toronto), the juice is most definitely worth the squeeze (no pun intended!)

I’ve been really anxious for spring flowers and sunshine lately (the urge to move to California grows stronger with each passing day), but sitting by the window with a glass of this petal-packed lemonade was almost enough to ward off my Spring daydreams, at least for a few hours. You can always add a bit of gin or vodka too if you’re craving a slightly stronger pick me up!

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Ingredients

– 2 lemons
– 1/2 cup cane sugar
– 1/2 cup filtered water (plus more to fill the juice jug)
– 1 tbsp violet syrup
– 1 tsp rose water
– 1 tsp grenadine
– Candied violets (optional, for garnish)

Method

Melt the cane sugar into the filtered water on the stove until it is all dissolved, then set it aside to cool. Juice the lemons (by hand or with a juicer) into your juice jug, careful to strain out any seeds, and then add the 3 syrups. I like things super sweet, but if you don’t, add the violet syrup, rose water and grenadine to taste. Add the water and sugar mixture once it’s cooled, and then add filtered water (or sparkling water) until the jug is full.

Mix everything up a bit with a wooden spoon or stir stick, and serve! I added a candied violet to each glass I poured and the purple candy melted away to give the drink an incredible ombre effect! I highly recommend this special touch if you can get your hands on candied violets (I got mine in France at Ladurée and I am very careful about when I use them because I’m so scared to run out!)

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Photography by Brianne Burnell

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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In case you haven’t caught on, I’m not much of a coffee drinker. I love the taste, smell, and rituals associated with coffee, but at the end of the day I can only really drink it when I want to stay awake for 48 hours straight in a constant state of panic. In conclusion, coffee makes me crazy, but luckily I have something I would argue is even better. I have a strong, undying love for tea.

Even after working for two years in a high-stress tea shop where I had various tea-related nightmares, I am still incredibly passionate about the world’s second most consumed beverage. Tea warms my body, my soul, and my heart. It reminds me of afternoons spent with my great grandmother as a child, and early mornings getting things done. Tea both comforts and excites me; it’s new, ancient, traditional and exciting all at once. With tea, anything is possible. It whisks me away to new places with every sip, like a great scent or a forgotten photo.

I love to experiment with teas, blending them to create unique new flavours, or using them in cooking and baking. I have somewhere around 50 different kinds at home (too much, I know), so the possibilities are pretty much endless! One cold wintery day, I decided to come up with the perfect latte recipe, and stumbled upon something that can only be described as “Earl Grey Goes Camping”. In other words, I made an Earl Grey toasted marshmallow tea latte, and it was delicious! I used a wonderful Monin syrup that I picked up while vacationing in New York last summer, a blend of two of my favourite teas, and some soymilk that I foamed on on the stovetop.

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The end result was a divine, fluffy cup of tea reminiscent of campfires and traditional tea time, and it was super easy to make. All you need is:

*A Milk frother (handheld or a steamer on an espresso machine)
*Vanilla soy or Almond milk (ideally something fatty like Silk)
*Monin toasted marshmallow syrup
*2 teaspoons of Kusmi’s “Smoky Earl Grey”
*3 teaspoons of Sloane Tea Company’s “Heavenly Cream”
*Boiling water, fresh from the kettle

Step 1. Measure out your milk using the mugs you will be drinking the tea from. You want the mug to be about a quarter full of cold milk. Once measured, pour the milk into a small saucepan over medium low heat.

Step 2. Scoop the tea into a tea filter of some sort. You can use a teabag, but I prefer to use a strainer so I create slightly less waste in the world. Pour the boiling water over the tea until your mug is half full. You are aiming to make a super strong half cup of tea ideally, so don’t add too much water!

Step 3. While the tea is steeping for 2.5 minutes, foam the milk until it is as pillowy and frothy as you prefer. If you are using an espresso machine, steam the milk like you traditionally would instead. Once the tea is finished steeping, dangle the strainer over the cup to get the last few drops of flavour out, and compost the used up leaves in your garden/bin.

Step 4. Stir 1 Tablespoon of Toasted Marshmallow syrup into the steeped tea (or to taste).

Step 5. Top it all off by filling the remainder of your cup with warm, frothy milk, and serve piping hot with biscuits or any other treat of your choosing!

Photos by Brianne Burnell