Weekend in: Seattle

March 25, 2013

This past weekend Adam and I went down to the States to do a little relaxing, shopping and sight-seeing for a ‘spring break getaway’. We totally lucked out with the weather, considering the Friday we left it was snowing, hailing and raining! It had also been snowing in Washington so I wasn’t sure what to expect once we crossed the border.

Friday night we went to Bellingham to do some grocery shopping, and then headed to his family’s vacation property near Mount Baker. Saturday we woke up to sunshine and headed down to Seattle for the day. We stopped along the way for some delicious eats, which I’ll share later! It was glorious sunshine all day, warm enough to toss our jackets to the side. We shopped and walked around, then headed back to start a fire and roast some s’mores. It was a great much needed getaway.

Here’s some pictures from the weekend!


Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Beer

March 21, 2013

Last week I wanted to make something for St. Patrick’s day dinner, something Irish-y i.e. Something that included beer, more specifically, Guinness. When in Rome – err – Ireland…

However, in true Irish fashion we met up with my mom and brother and everyone else for Greek Food. Not quite Irish, but oh well. The pubs and Irish food joints were packed to the hill, so we decided to eat wherever was empty, which ended up being a Greek place. The food was good, but took forever – there were also 9 of us so that might have been why.

Although St. Patrick’s day was over, I woke up Monday wanting to still make something. So, I decided to go to the Liquor store to pick up some Guinness. It never crossed my mind what time it was. It was 11 am. On a Monday. And I was going to buy beer – all in the name of cooking. I joked with the cashier that I hadn’t had anything Irish on St. Patrick’s day and that I was going to make a stew with the Guinness, and not actually drink it. I suppose he knew a thing or two about cooking, or has had the conversation before because he mentioned that there were other, better, beers to use for a stew besides Guinness. I also didn’t really need a case of beer (though Adam would have helped me there), and apparently Guinness doesn’t make single serve beers. Not that I know about about Beers, or Stouts, but he suggested Phillips Chocolate Stout for using it in a stew. It was in the single serve beer section, so I though I would try it.

A friend of mine had asked me to post a slow cooker recipe, and also enjoys a good beer or two. This way, you can have both in one.

The great thing about slow cooker recipes is that you can throw it all together, and then be off on your way knowing that a delicious dinner will basically cook itself. That’s the kind of dinner I like, especially when I have finals and assignments to write – and Adam isn’t the chef around here. Although, I’m fairly certain anyone can make a slow cooker meal.

I know it’s technically ‘Spring,’ now, but yesterday it was so windy and cold that our power went out. So, as long as the warm weather holds off, you can still warm up with a bowl of this stew.

Adam and I are headed down to the States this weekend, hoping for some Seattle sunshine – maybe??

After hitting up the liquor store at 11 am, ahem, I went to our favourite butcher shop Meridian Meats & Seafood to get some beef. You’ll need about 1.5 – 2 lbs of stewing beef (they had extra lean, but a little bit of fat would actually add flavouring to the stew when you brown it)

Where’s the Beef. (hah)

Add 2 Tbs. of butter to pan over medium-high heat.

Add the beef in two batches, you’ll want to leave room for browning.

Brown the meat on all sides. Season with salt + pepper as it browns.

Once all the beef is browned, place the piece in the slow cooker. Leave the juice in the pan.

Saute onions and celery in juice for 5 minutes. Add 2 tbs tomato paste. Saute for a few more minutes, adding a splash of the Stout to scrape up the browned bits in the pan.

Once finished, transfer celery and onion mixture to the slow cooker.Add the rest of the Stout, worcestershire sauce, broth, thyme and vegetables to the pot.

Cover, and let cook on Low for 8 hours OR High for 4 hours.

This stew gets even better the next day.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew 


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1.5 – 2 pounds marbled stewing beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 celery staks, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbs. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pint Stout/Porter/Guinness (may I suggest a Chocolate Stout)
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 small yellow nugget potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large turnip, peeled and cut into chunks
  • dried thyme
1 Heat the butter in large pan over medium-high heat. Brown the beef in the butter. Do this in two batches to allow beef to brown evenly. Sprinkle salt over the beef as it browns. Once browned on all sides, transfer the beef pieces into the slow cooker.
2 Add the diced onions and celery to the pan in which you just browned the beef. Saut√© the onions and celery until they begin to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Cook for a minute or two, then add a little of the Stout, enough to make it easier for you to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Transfer the celery and onions into the slow cooker.
3 Add the rest of the Stout, beef broth, worcestershire sauce, carrots, chopped celery, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, and thyme to the slow cooker.
4. Cover and cook on “high” for 4 hours, or “low” for 8 hours.
I served mine over mashed potatoes, but you can also just have it on its own.
adapted from Simply Recipes.
Cookies, St. Patricks Day

Mint Chocolate Sables a.k.a Thin Mints

March 17, 2013

Ah, baking. It’s good to be back.

It’s good for my health, er – maybe not. My waistline may not agree in that sense (I literally ate 5 of these cookies for breakfast this morning..and that’s all). But, good for my mental health.

School has been exhausting. I am officially finished my long practicum. It was physically and mentally exhausting, exciting, and thoroughly enjoying. I have only my final to write now, and my last few days in second grade as a student teacher. Soon I’ll be returning to campus to begin my summer semester to complete my teaching degree. I must say, after being in school for 20 years, since kindergarten… I’m a little over school. I feel like I have been in school my entire life (which, basically I have been) I’ve only ever taken one semester off, and took two summer semesters back to back as well. There was as time when I had 5 semesters of school without a break, full time. Definitely ready to be finished.

So yeah, baking again has made me happy. I finally have time to bake, and take photographs (while It is still light out; thank goodness for daylight savings).

A lot has happened since I blogged last. Adam turned the big 2-9. We had a housewarming / birthday party all in one last weekend, which was really fun. I’ll be posting pictures of the house soon! I took him out for dinner and went to the casino, which was less fun. The dinner was unfortunately terrible, and we lost at the casino. Oh well, c’est la vie.

One thing I will never pay for as well, is cookies. I mean like boxed, off the shelf cookies. I have recently made  Graham Crackers, which were so much better than store bought. After having a boxed chocolate chip cookie at school I really couldn’t believe the taste of them – so processed, and chemical. The only cookies I have bought, are Girl Guide Cookies. Who can resist – and it’s for a good cause, so you have to. My favourite type are the Thin Mint cookies. So. Good. Especially frozen. Something about March and St. Patrick’s day make people go green and mint crazy. So, naturally I had to make some thin mints of my own. I also made a delicious minty-smoothie the other night with banana, ice, almond milk, cocoa and mint chocolate chips. Blend everything, and enjoy.

St. Patty’s Day

I started off with an oreo type cookie dough (I’ve seen people make thin mints by simply removing the oreo stuffing from a cookie, and dipping the chocolate cookie into mint chocolate… not quite the same). I dipped these in melted mint-chocolate, this was a little messy, so I decided to just top them with mint chocolate instead.

FYI – these are even better frozen, or refrigerated. They are cool, crisp, and minty. Addicting.

Mint Chocolate Sables
makes approx. 3-4 dozen small cookies
cookie recipe adapted from Smitten Kitten’s cookbook, brownie roll-out cookies 


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp. almond milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used the Rapunzel Organic Cocoa I got from iHerb. 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Mint Chocolate Chips, OR chocolate and mint extract


Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Whisk flour and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.

Roll out cookie dough on lightly floured counter. Use a cookie cutter to cut out your desired shapes, I used a 2” fluted circle, and a regular circle (double sided cutter). Bake on un-greased cookie sheet for about 12 minutes, until edges are firm and centres slightly puffed.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

In a small bowl melt mint chocolate chips, or chocolate, over double boiler. You can also microwave on 1 minute intervals at 60% power, and stir until smooth. If using regular dark chocolate, add in a drop or two of peppermint extract.
Using a spoon, place a dollop of chocolate in centre of cooled cookie, using the back of the spoon to smooth out a circle on top. Allow to cool completely. You may want to place them in the fridge for 5-1o minutes to set. I highly recommend eating them cold, as they are crisp and minty cool.
Store in container once fully set. Can be refrigerated or frozen.