12.23.2016

Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies



All I want for Christmas is…Nick Carter. Ok fine, something more realistic? I’ll settle for some gooey chocolate peppermint crunch cookies then. It’s Christmas Eve eve, so naturally I’ve been baking up quite a storm. Chocolate and peppermint go hand in hand during the holidays, kind of like how Nick and I go hand in hand but that’s another story. I whipped up the ultimate chocolate peppermint cookies, and cannot stop stuffing my face with them. Soft and chewy, each bite is filled with the richness of dark chocolate intertwined with the crunchiness of peppermint pieces, and candy candy pieces. These are the perfect holiday cookies to snuggle up with on Christmas morning, with a cup of coffee, tea, or even some hot chocolate. Christmas coziness.





Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies (makes 3 dozen)

Slightly modified from this recipe here.

Ingredients:

-       2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
-       1 tsp baking soda
-       ½ tsp sea salt
-       ¾ cup Dutch processed cocoa
-       1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
-       2 cups coconut sugar
-       2 large eggs, at room temperature
-       1 tsp vanilla extract
-       ½ tsp peppermint extract
-       1 cup dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
-       1 cup crushed Ghirardelli peppermint bark
-       ½ cup crushed candy canes

Directions:

  1. Preheat the over to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa together. Set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat together. Add the vanilla and peppermint extract and mix until just combined. 
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture in and beat until just combined. Do not over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips and peppermint bark pieces. 
  5. Place the crushed candy canes in a small bowl. If you don't have crushed candy canes, place 6 or 7 candy canes on a cutting board, wrap them in plastic wrap, and bang on them using a rolling pin until crushed.
  6. Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, scoop a large tablespoon size dough and roll into a ball. Roll the dough in the crushed candy canes until lightly coated and place the cookies on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes (do not over bake), then remove from oven and let sit on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Hope everyone has a safe and Merry Christmas!


12.09.2016

Velvet Crush




I never thought I’d be a fan of velvet. Since last wearing it in the 90s in probably some ugly form of a dress that my mother forced upon me, I was glad when the trend faded away and I never had to lay eyes on it again. That is, until now. Velvet has made a huge comeback this season, and this time around, I am surprisingly all over it. The hideous, granny like velvet that I remember has been replaced by a more elegant, stylish version and I just can’t get enough. This Zara dress is my first foray into velvet again and is the perfect crushed velvet attire. The dark pink colour is so beautifully multifaceted and makes for a great holiday look. Unfortunately, this colour is no longer available; however, there is a lovely mustard version that's still available. Oh velvet, I am simply crushing on you and I apologize for all my years of disdain. You now have a place in my heart.

Dress: Zara | Booties: Nine West Canada


11.28.2016

A Bonne Maman Holiday Dinner



Food brings everyone together, especially during the holidays. One of the best parts of the season is spending time with loved ones and stuffing your face to your heart’s content. But let’s be real, I pretty much do that at every meal. I had the pleasure of attending my first holiday party of the season at Irene Matys of The Spicy Olive’s beautiful home, where she prepared an amazing holiday feast for myself and 6 other foodie friends.


Irene and I had been following each other on Instagram for a long while and as a huge admirer of her delicious recipes and food, I was thrilled to be able to take our Insta-friendship from online to offline and taste her cooking for myself. And I wasn’t disappointed. Irene effortlessly whipped up an incredible meal, incorporating four different Bonne Maman jams: Cherry, Blueberry, Orange Marmalade, and Caramel. For decades, Bonne Maman has been creating their special preserves in France, with all natural ingredients and no artificial colours, additives, or preserves. Upon first bite, I instantly fell in love with their jams and practically licked spoonfuls of them straight from the jar. No shame.


Irene creatively used a different Bonne Maman jam into each dish, highlighting the jam’s flavour profile and bringing them to the forefront. While getting to know one another, we munched on a local cheese board with spiced nuts, dried fruit, and a lovely cherry jam port and herb preserve. We then feasted on a winter salad with pears, cranberries, pecans, and goat feta tossed in a delicious blueberry jam balsamic vinaigrette. And what’s a holiday dinner without some turkey? Irene crafted a turkey roulade with an orange mandarin jam sauce, served with a crispy shallot potato mash and herbed carrots. Not your traditional turkey with gravy, Irene’s version was sweeter with the burst of orange marmalade sauce.




The dinner ended on a sweet note, and my favourite component of any meal -– dessert. We indulged in a vanilla bean ricotta ice cream, with a warm sweet wine and raisin caramel spread sauce, and topped with a cherry jam macaron. This was probably my favourite dish and I could’ve easily had seconds (or thirds). The dulce de leche jam was so good, I scooped more spoonfuls of it into my dessert because there’s no such thing as too much dulce de leche right?



I left the dinner that night with my stomach full, and my heart inspired by the wonderful people I had met, especially the loveliest host and The Spicy Olive herself. For delicious recipes and to see more photos from that night, check out Irene's site here.

11.21.2016

Italpasta Mac & Cheese



Mac and cheese is one of those comfort foods that I constantly crave, especially during the colder months. Growing up, I was never a huge fan of Kraft dinner. It always looked and tasted artificial to me and just wasn’t all that appealing. But the Italpasta mac and cheese has made me reconsider boxed pasta. Made with 100% wheat and real cheddar cheese, and no preservatives, there’s nothing artificial about this mac and cheese.

Quick and super easy to make, I dressed up this version by adding fried prosciutto bits, chives, and toasted bread crumbs on top because I'm fancy like that. When I crave pasta but don’t feel like making anything from scratch, this mac and cheese satisfies my hunger in a pinch.

And you’re in luck! Italpasta is giving away a prize pack that includes two of their mac and cheese packages, socks, a cozy blanket, and a cheese plush. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post below, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and follow Italpasta on Instagram and Twitter. Each option are separate entries. The giveaway ends in a week and the winner will be chosen randomly. Good luck!






a Rafflecopter giveaway

10.10.2016

Roasted Pumpkin Soup



When the temperature drops, there’s nothing I love more than curling up with a soothing hot bowl of soup. And what better soup to heal your soul during fall than a pumpkin one? I make this roasted pumpkin soup on rotation throughout the colder months and it’s rich, velvety, and simply luxurious. The coconut milk gives it a nice, silky texture and is pure coziness in a bowl.

Last week, I attended a dinner hosted by World Vision Canada to celebrate food in support of their #hungerfree campaign. With 795 million people chronically under-nourished around the world, the goal of this movement is to unite Canadians around the idea that everyone deserves access to a sustainable supply of healthy and nutritious food.

As today is Thanksgiving for all my fellow Canadians, I thought I’d share my Meaningful Meal with you all and inspire you to create your own Meaningful Meal. With World Food Day approaching on October 16th, I encourage everyone to support the #hungerfree movement by hosting your own Meaningful Meal, donating to World Vision, and then sharing your Meaningful Meal on social media with the hashtag #hungerfree.

For more information and to get started, check out www.hungerfree.ca.






Roasted Pumpkin Soup (serves 6):

Slightly modified from this recipe here.

Ingredients:
  • 4-4 ½ pounds pumpkin (you can use any type of pumpkin or squash)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger (from a 3-inch long piece)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp coconut Thai seasoning (from Bulk Barn)
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat or light)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a heavy, sharp knife or cleaver, cut the pumpkin into quarters and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 1 hour.
  2. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. When cooled, peel the skin from the flesh and chop the pumpkin into bite-sized chunks (the smaller the better).
  3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and fry for another few minutes. Add the curry powder and coconut Thai seasoning and fry for another minute.
  4. Add the pumpkin chunks and salt, and fry everything together for about 5 minutes, stirring to ensure everything is incorporated well.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender or pour the soup in batches into a blender. Be sure to hold the top down with a towel and blend carefully. Add more salt if needed.
  7. Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro or parsley. 

Let’s celebrate food and help create a #hungerfree world. Happy Thanksgiving!