Happy Holidays! / December 23, 2016

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A few holiday links to share today, for those who are looking for a little baking inspiration, a book to curl up with, or some beautiful snowy photos – a little bit of everything this time!

It wouldn’t be the holidays without cookies & these three variations of crinkle cookies all look equally delicious.

We’ve made these cranberry and brie puff pastry swirls for quite a few celebrations now, and they always go fast!

Another favourite tradition of ours is a platter of Strawberry Santas – they are always great to make with my nieces and nephew each year, super simple and very cute!

I’ve been following this family’s adventures in New York City for a few years now, and these snowy photos they recently posted are some of my very favourite photos they’ve ever taken. That is pure happiness right there. They are such a positive, vibrant family who is a constant reminder to have fun and enjoy the little things in life!

I was very kindly given this book recently and I am looking forward to sitting down with a cup of tea and reading the rest – it has already been a great source of inspiration.

Last but certainly not least, a beautiful commercial that makes me tear up every time. I’m incredibly grateful for my family and for good health this holiday season, and this video is such a powerful reminder of how lucky I am to be able to say that.

Thanks again for visiting the site, and wishing you a very happy and joyous holiday! xoxo

Strawberry Ice Cream! / September 2, 2016

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Making ice cream is such a quintessential summer activity, so one afternoon this summer, I pulled out my 15-year-old ice cream machine (still kicking after all these years!!!) to make some with my nieces and nephew. It turned out so well that I thought I should pass along the recipe we found online to use. We have an egg allergy in the family, so generally that means most ice cream recipes are avoided, and I’ve had a tricky time in the past finding an egg-free recipe that works well in an ice cream machine and doesn’t taste icy rather than creamy like you want ice cream to taste! This one was a cinch, which is a relief when you have three little cuties huddled around a mixing bowl all wanting to help! Plus, it required a potato masher to mush up the strawberries, which is always a bit hit with the 3 and 5-year-old crowd these days, let me tell ya. Here’s the original recipe, plus a few notes about how we adapted it at the bottom:

Perfect No-Cook Strawberry Ice Cream (recipe found on Epicurious by Andrea Albin via Gourmet 2009)
Ingredients:
1 pound strawberries, trimmed, halved if large*
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream*
Equipment: an ice cream maker

Coarsely mash strawberries with sugar, lemon juice, and salt using a potato masher in a large bowl. Let stand, stirring and mashing occasionally, 10 minutes.
Transfer half of strawberry mixture to a blender and purée with cream until smooth. Return strawberry cream to bowl with remaining strawberries and chill, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours.
Freeze mixture in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up.

Cooks’ note:
Ice cream keeps 1 week.

*We used half fresh strawberries and half frozen simply because the fresh ones were past their peak and it worked out fine!
*We used 1 cup 35% cream and 1 cup 18% cream (the consensus in the comments section seemed to be that it was better using a mixture of heavy & lighter cream)

Happy long weekend to everyone!!!

Raspberry Picking & Recipe Round-Up! / August 24, 2016

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At the start of this summer I decided to make a list of things to do, since I usually get to the end of the season and haven’t done nearly enough to soak it all in. Some of the things are simple, like eating more ice cream (obviously), or having a water balloon fight with my nieces and nephews (we used these balloons and they were so much fun I can’t even put it into words. The video of the balloons filling up and tying in knots all by themselves is mesmerizing, I tell you, mesmerizing).

Raspberry picking was also high on the list, but somehow raspberry season was ending and I hadn’t quite made it there yet. We realized driving along a back country road one day that we were near a raspberry farm that offered pick-your-own berries and it was just too tempting to pass up. A few more photos from the day, plus a few raspberry recipes listed below!

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Peaches AND raspberries combined?! Sign me up for this cobbler!

This Chatelaine list of recipes includes plenty of ideas to use up those raspberries, including a galette that looks simple and perfect for the lazy summer baking season!

Raspberry mini pies, too adorable to pass up!

Raspberry oatmeal crumble bars – I’ve tried out lots of Averie’s recipes this summer and they are always crowd-pleasers!

Happy baking!

Strawberry, Cucumber & Mint Water / June 29, 2016

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In the Spring, I stayed at a hotel where every day they offered a different kind of flavoured water and it completed changed my take on a typically boring beverage. Typically boring for me anyway! I know I should drink more of it. I know it’s good for me. But it’s just too plain for me to actually want to drink it regularly so it becomes a bit of a chore. Enter: flavoured water. This strawberry, cucumber and mint version is a great way to up your intake of water, plus it tastes delicious. It’s pretty too, which let’s face it, always helps ;) It’s a great beverage idea for a summer party too!

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The options for this are endless — you could try apple & mint; orange, lemon & lime; lemon, orange & blueberry; strawberry & basil, or whatever you have on hand! It couldn’t be easier — in a large pitcher filled with water, add approximately 6 large diced strawberries, 2 mini chopped cucumbers and 10 mint leaves. It’s really all to taste though, so just use this as a guide. (I heard once that squishing/muddling herbs is what releases their flavour. I think this tip was from Jamie Oliver way back when. So if Jamie Oliver says it, I say do it. I simply used a wooden spoon to do so with the mint before adding it). Allow the flavours to meld together for at least an hour or so in the fridge before serving. Enjoy!

It’s The Little Things: The Great British Bake Off / March 11, 2016

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Flipping through a cookbook is one of my favourite things to do on a weekend, and watching baking shows is no different. In my early 20s I went through a phase where I would hop on the elliptical with my music on and would proceed to watch the Food Network on mute just to see what they were making. I usually timed my workout around the baking shows. This proved to be counter-productive as I would hop off the elliptical wanting cheesecake. Wanting cheesecake bad.

So when I recently came across the comments section for a post called What TV Shows Are You Watching? I couldn’t help but laugh when a few people chimed in with their love of The Great British Bake Off. I laughed mostly because their funny comments rang so true — one commenter described it as her version of meditation, with another saying she wants a tent kitchen on her lawn (watch the show and you too will want a tent kitchen on your lawn). I was definitely late to the game with The Great British Bake Off — or “The GBBO” as my uncle likes to refer to it — I’m admittedly a few seasons behind because I tend to catch up on it when they air the reruns here in Canada (so the link above to the show’s website might give spoilers, be forewarned!) — but besides waiting for it to air here, it looks like you can get it on Netflix or the BBC site, too. The music, the baking tent, the magical and happy little way its filmed, anytime anyone says in their British accent that a cake has a soggy bottom…it’s pretty much perfection. And if that’s not enough, it’s worth it alone just to watch the two hosts and their commentary.

But don’t take it from me. This write-up encapsulates the show far more succinctly, and hilariously, than I ever could.

A few other cooking shows of note: Donna Hay’s show Fast Fresh Simple tends to include lots of great dessert ideas, and while Jamie Oliver’s show Jamie’s Comfort Food doesn’t centre around baking either the desserts he does make are show-stoppers. I give you Exhibit A as an example. Ree Drummond has such an ease in the kitchen, and the quick & simple recipes on her show The Pioneer Woman always look delicious. Last but not least, my love of baking shows started way back when with Anna Olson, so Bake with Anna Olson must be included on this list. Extra bonus points for the adorable kitchen and mint coloured stand mixer!

Valentine’s Day Recipe Round-Up! / February 12, 2016

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A little recipe round-up, and some fun little links, in honour of Valentine’s Day…

Let’s start with the decadent: oreo cookie rolls!

And keeping it going with the ultimate comfort food: pasta — cacio e pepe is always a crowd pleaser, and this recipe looks like a winner. (Cacio e pepe literally means “cheese and pepper” in Italian and it is literally amazing.)

A simple way to make a heart-shaped cake. Easy peasy.

My tastes for candy are usually not fancy (hello drug store gummy worms!), but these two companies have really stepped it up. Sugarfina has been around for a while but it wasn’t until this past Christmas that I tried the peach bellini candy, after standing in the store debating if spending $8 on a teeny-tiny jar of candy was worth it. It was WELL worth it. Another company is Sullivan & Bleeker (Toronto-based, yippee!! Also, their cookies are equally as delicious).

If you’re looking for something sweet but healthy, look no further than these banana and chocolate chia cream pie parfaits. They are described as “literally what banana cream pie dreams are made of. Light, soft, fluffy, chocolatey perfection.” Sign me up!

This last link isn’t a recipe but I couldn’t resist including a segment I watched on The Today Show this week of 6 couples who have each been married for over 50 years (that’s over 350 years collectively!). I especially loved all their stories of how they met and the man who said “I’m not letting this one go” — so sweet and inspiring to watch.

Happy Heart Day & Happy Weekend!

It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere: Blood Orange Gin Fizz / January 29, 2016

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It’s the best season of all, blood orange season! They’ve been a little tricky to find this year in particular, so for this drink I’ve substituted in a blood orange soda that I buy regularly. I should own stock in it, I buy it that much. Plus, that way, this drink can be made year round rather than just during citrus season. Win-win. But by all means, use freshly squeezed juice if you’ve got it on hand — even better. The blood orange soda I buy isn’t too sweet and is still quite tart to keep this cocktail on the refreshing side, but if you go the route of the freshly squeezed juice I would suggest adding in a little simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar to water, heat on stove until sugar has dissolved and set aside to cool before using) — it helps to cut the bitterness a bit.

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Blood Orange Gin Fizz (makes 1 drink)
1 1/4 cups blood orange soda (or freshly squeezed juice)
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a cocktail glass filled with ice, add gin, soda, lime and lemon juice. Stir and enjoy! (And yes, I felt silly adding directions for such a simple recipe, but I did it anyway!)

Cheers!

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2 More Sleeps & Holiday Links List! / December 23, 2015

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This list is filled with ideas for a little reading, a little snacking and a little cocktail-making, should the mood strike you…

A few years ago I made Santa hat brownies on Christmas Eve and these Santa Strawberries look even cuter. Can’t wait to make these with my nephew this year — with all of the cookies and sweets around over the holidays, a nice light dessert idea is definitely welcome!

A reminder to take a step back during what can be a very pressure filled time for many.

Just because it’s Amsterdam and it looks especially beautiful this time of year.

FYI, I could not find the panda. My sister found it in three seconds flat.

How beautiful is this glazed beet salad?

Somewhere Inside, a Path to Empathy” (via A Cup of Jo) — well worth taking a little extra time to read.

For more reading ideas, look no further than this list.

Pop up gift wrap?! Say no more.

A festive gin & cranberry cocktail from Supergolden Bakes.

Cheers, happy holidays & thanks again so much for visiting!

Fall Flowers & Weekend Links! / November 13, 2015

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Happy almost weekend, and happy reading! A few fun links I’ve come across recently:

They had me at roasted acorn squash. The beautiful photos make it look even better than it sounds, if that’s possible!

Trying my very best to fight off cold and flu season better this year, so this simple tip was a good one to come across. Also: can I have the sweater she is wearing in the picture? Please and thank you.

I may live in a country that gets blanketed in snow (love you, Canada!) but despite that I still get the urge to travel to other snowy destinations like Colorado. This beautifully photographed recap of a trip to Dunton Hot Springs looks incredible. Also pretty incredible: her Sorel boots. (Sweater, boots…can you tell I love Winter clothes the best?!)

Once you’re cold, there’s really nothing left to do than warm up with some hot chocolate. This round up of NYC spots has you covered.

Life advice from 10 smart humans. Aziz Ansari, you are hilarious. On a more serious note, Anne Lamott’s quotes seem strike a chord with many people, and this one is no exception. So beautifully put, as always.

Another one of those ten smart humans mentioned, Elizabeth Gilbert, was interviewed on a talk show the other day and her advice was pretty spot-on for living a creative life. Looking forward to picking up a copy of her book.

What do you do when you realize the flowers you picked up this morning match your coat? You take a picture. Obviously.
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Cookbook Dinner with Donna Hay! / October 30, 2015

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I’ve read Donna Hay magazine for at least a decade and still have every single issue I’ve ever purchased. Long story short, I’m a Donna Hay magazine hoarder. They are all so beautiful to look at, but even better are the simple but elegant recipes that stand the test of time. I think you can tell this already, but I count myself among her many many fans.

Last week, as an early birthday present, I was able to attend an event at Luma restaurant with a dinner and Q&A with Donna Hay. The sold-out event, in celebration of her newest cookbook The New Easy, was a wonderful way to spend an evening. (Also wonderful: getting to spend the evening with my mom, since we’ve oohed and ahhhed over her magazine together many times).

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The Q&A was led by Pay Chen, a host and food writer in Toronto, and she chatted with Donna about where she gets her inspiration (design and fashion), and about recognizing a need for simple food styling and a very clean white-on-white feel to the photography, a style which was in stark contrast to most food photography at the time she began her career. Following the Q&A, I had a quick chance to get a photo (I NEVER have the nerve to go up to anyone but figured this was a one time shot!) and say a few words. She was lovely and inspiring (and had amazing heels on, but that’s neither here nor there) — and she also stopped by the tables between courses to chat with everyone as an added bonus.

Dinner was a collection of recipes from the cookbook, including the best chicken I think I have ever tasted (not an exaggeration) — tarragon & lemon roasted chicken, plus a variety of side dishes and a salted chocolate caramel tart for dessert. A crowd pleaser at my table was this Annie’s Lane Clare Valley 2013 Riesling from Australia.

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Picking up a copy of the cookbook on my way out the door was a wonderful way to end the night!