There’s a lot of things about wedding planning that you have no idea about – until you get engaged.
After searching online for venues, vendors and researching prices it’s clear that wedding planning is difficult. First, you have to decide on the day, and that’s all fine and dandy until you find out no one, and no venue, is actually available for that date. It also doesn’t help when you have a popular date in mind. So, as of now we haven’t finalized anything after almost a month of being engaged (this Thursday.)
Actually, I have to laugh because as soon as you’re engaged the first thing people ask is “have you set a date!?” I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this before when my friends or family have gotten engaged. We called family and friends within an hour of Adam popping the question and more than once we were asked “So, have you got a date?” We were both like “no, it just happened half an hour ago!” should we have this figured out that soon?? Even a month later, we’re no closer to figuring out a set date or venue location.
One thing we have decided is that it won’t be this year – with our date in mind it would have been much too quick to get everything done this year (although I’m sure it could be done, I’d rather enjoy our engagement than stress over rushing through preparations.) We have a few appointments to look at venues for a 2015 wedding, which will give us lots of time to prepare, plan, and most importantly, enjoy our engagement.
A couple weekends ago I attended my first ever Wedding Fair. I thought it would be totally overwhelming, but it was actually really enjoyable. I now have hundreds of brochures and bridal magazines to peruse.
Just before meeting with a friend to chat about our engagement over coffee one afternoon, I popped into London Drugs and found this puffed quinoa cereal. I hadn’t seen quinoa cereal before and instead of thinking about it as a breakfast food, I immediately thought about turning them into squares. Rice Crispy Squares are one of Adam’s favourite things, and I guess he is my fiancé now, so I thought I’d make him a treat since I couldn’t remember the last time I actually made them.
I also bought Trader Joe’s Crisp Rice Cereal, which I found was way crispier than regular rice krispies – which makes for an even better square.
I made these without butter (sub coconut oil), and you can make your own marshmallows (recipe here!) or use store bought. The cocoa quinoa reminded me of my favourite tri-colour qunioa, yum!
Cocoa Quinoa Rice Crispy Squares
Crisp quinoa and rice squares made with gooey marshmallows.
Wheat Free - Gluten Free - Dairy Free
- Marshmallows (half a pan of homemade, or 1 bag of store bought)
- 3 cups Cocoa Quinoa Cereal
- 3 cups Crisp Rice Cereal
- 2 Tbs. Coconut Oil
- 1. In large pot melt coconut oil along with marshmallows over medium-low heat until completely melted, stirring often with wooden spoon.
- 2. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish, or 2 8x8 baking dishes with parchment paper, or spray with coconut oil/cooking spray.
- 3. When marshmallows are completely melted, turn off heat. Pour in the Quinoa and Rice cereal and stir together until well incorporated.
- 4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and, using a large metal spoon sprayed with cooking spray, push down and smooth out using the backside of the spoon.
- 5. Set aside and cool completely. Cut with knife into squares, store in ziplock bag or container on the counter for up to a week.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
The last weekend before Christmas – and I woke up this morning feeling not so great. I already had one cold this month, which turned into an ear infection. I’m hoping it’s just the result of walking around in the cold windy snow yesterday. I’ll be popping vitamin C for the next few days before the big day.
On the plus side – I got all of my Christmas wrapping done yesterday – including some last minute gift pick ups. All that’s left is to get ready for our Annual Christmas Cousins get-together tomorrow.
Every year Adam’s cousins try to get together for Christmas and this year we’re having it at our new Club House – which is perfect since it’s easier to have a large group of people there than in our townhouse – although we have done it before. Plus, there’s a pool table in the Club House. However, someone has taken all of the pool cues – or – they have put them inside a locked closet. Hopefully we have some for tomorrow’s get together.
I’ll be bringing most of my baking – It is currently taking up real estate in our freezer and we have no room for even the ice tray anymore.
I have made this ‘toffee’ style cracker dessert before, only with saltine crackers. I’ve seen both versions, and I actually prefer it with the Graham Crackers. It’s a better, thicker base than the saltine’s, and I think the Salt overpowers the chocolate – the base needs to be fairly bland for such a sweet and decadent topping such as toffee and chocolate. Here I used bought Graham Crackers, however if you have the time (and I suggest you do) you can totally make your own. I have a recipe for Graham Crackers here, and they are very simple and taste amazing when you make them yourself.
The recipe is affectionately called ‘Christmas crack’ – and the title is deserving. It is mildly addicting – but like I said, with the more neutral graham crust it isn’t tooth-sickeningly sweet. It’s just the right amount. The Toffee portion also isn’t the hard-as-rock toffee, more of a caramel-smooth toffee.
It’s a super simple recipe – lay tray with graham crackers, boil the sugar and butter, bake then spread with chocolate. You can sprinkle anything on top – I like the combination of nuts (walnuts or pecans would be good) You can even package the crackers up for a sweet gift.
Chocolate Toffee Crack(ers)
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- Enough Whole Graham Crackers to Line baking tray (about 1/2 package)
- 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking tray with parchment paper.
- 2. Arrange whole graham crackers to fit the bottom of the pan in a single layer.
- 3. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow mixture to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- 4. Remove saucepan from heat and pour mixture evenly over the graham cracker layer. Spread with a spoon to cover. Bake in preheated oven for about 5-10 minutes.
- 5. Remove pan from oven and allow bubbling to subside. Place chocolate chunks on top of toffee layer. Wait two minutes for chocolate to melt, then use an offset spatula to gently spread chocolate in an even layer on top of the graham crackers.
- 6. Sprinkle chocolate with chopped walnuts.
- 7. Allow to cool to room temperature. Break into chunks.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
Nanaimo bars were one of my favourite treats that my grandmother would make. Whenever we had a family get together, a baby shower, wedding shower etc. we would have Nanaimo bars. They are a treat that you don’t usually make unless it is for a special occasion, however, they are really quite simple to assemble and require no baking which would make them a great dessert for anytime.
While I was going to make them the traditional way – a three layer decadent and sweet square, I had an idea.
While preparing the custard layer I thought I might use a piping bag to pipe the filling on first, then spread it evenly on top with an offset spatula. Then it hit me – why not just use the piping bag to pipe the filling into rosettes and then cut them into squares before adding the chocolate?
One of the hardest things I find when making Nanaimo bars is cutting them once the chocolate has hardened. It’s difficult to make them into perfect squares because the chocolate cracks and breaks when you cut into it, especially once it is cold. However my aunt who is the queen of Nanaimo bars (and learned from my Grandma) always made them perfectly.
I thought it would be much easier to cut them before adding the chocolate, then drizzle it on top as a decoration. I also find that because the filling is so sickeningly sweet sometimes that the extra slice of chocolate on top almost sends you into a sugar coma. This way you still get the combination of chocolate and custard filling, only on a much smaller scale.
And truthfully – my favourite part was always the base. I love the combination of coconut, chocolate, graham crumbs and walnuts. I could just eat the base without the sweet toppings.
These bars as extra special because they hail from a small town on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo, which the dessert was named for (although there have been other claims). However at the end of the day a Nanaimo bar, is a Nanaimo bar.
This is the recipe my grandmother and aunt use and it is my favourite. Of course, you can still make it the traditional way by spreading the filling then pouring the chocolate over top and slicing it into squares. In my opinion, they look much prettier this way.
Nanaimo Bar Bites
A modern take on a traditional classic - Nanaimo Bar Bites are a decadent twist on the beloved three layer square with a chocolate cookie crumb base, custard filling and chocolate drizzled top.
- 1cup Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 up Sugar
- 10 tbsp. Cocoa
- 1 Egg beaten
- 1 ¼ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 1 1/4 cups Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
- 3/4 cup Walnuts, chopped
- 2 cup coconut
- ½ cup Unsalted Butter
- 2 Tbsp Almond Milk
- 2 Tbsp. Birds Custard Powder
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 4 squares Dark Chocolate
- 1/2 Tbs. Butter
- 1. In the top of a double boiler (if you do not own one, place a glass or metal bowl over top of a sauce pan filled with simmering water) melt together the butter, sugar and cocoa.
- 2. In a small bowl beat the egg. Slowly whisk it into the melted butter and cocoa mixture. Continue to whisk until it thickens.
- 3. Remove from heat and stir in the crumbs, coconut and chopped walnuts.
- 4. Press mixture into an ungreased 9"x13" pan and place in fridge.
- 5. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment whip the butter until pale and creamy. Add the cream and custard powder and continue to beat. Slowly add the icing sugar and whip until the consistency of frosting.
- 6. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
- 7. Take the chilled base out of the fridge. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the base in 1" sections, drawing lines horizontally first then vertically.
- 8. Using the piping bag, pipe rosettes on to the middle of each 1" scored square section. Repeat until entire surface is covered. Place in fridge, covered.
- 9. Allow to set in fridge for about 45 minutes to an hour. You want the base to set and harden completely. Once it is hardened, remove it and use a dough scraper or sharp knife to cut the bars all the way through, then lift them out carefully with a fork.
- 10. Finally, after you have sliced the bars fully into squares place them onto a cooling rack with a piece of parchment paper underneath. Melt the Chocolate and butter in the microwave in 1 minutes intervals, stirring until fully melted. Spoon the melted chocolate into a ziplock bag or piping bag and snip off the corner. Drizzle the melted chocolate over top of the bars. Place aside to allow chocolate to set.
- To store the bars, place them in an airtight container in the fridge separating the layers with parchment. Alternatively, you can place them back into the 9x13" pan and cover.
- The bars also freeze very well.
- ** To make traditional bars double the ingredients for the Custard and stop at Step 5, then spread the Custard layer evenly over the base and cool. Melt the chocolate (You will need slightly more chocolate to cover the top) and spread evenly over top, allow to set in the fridge. Cut into bars/squares **
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