Almond Butter Blossoms

December 17, 2012

Today is supposed to be a silent day in honour of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school incident last Friday in Connecticut. However, as a student becoming a Teacher I felt I needed to say something. I cannot begin to imagine the grief the small town of Newtown is feeling in the aftermath. As a practicing teacher I have come to care for each and every one of my grade two students and I could not imagine anything happening to them. My heart goes out to the families affected, and to the heroic teachers who gave their own lives to save those of their students. As I flew home from Prince George last night I watch the Presidents speech, many of the topics he spoke of can resonate around the world. 

I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope that it helps for you to know, that you’re not alone in your grief. That our world, too, has been torn apart.” Obama

I hope everyone takes a moment to remember those teachers who lost their lives, and to appreciate and thank those teachers in their lives today. 


This weekend I went to Prince George to visit  family with my brother Nick. It was especially nice to be able to spend the weekend with my brother, and made me treasure it even more after learning about the loss other families endured that day.

My brother and I were like any other typical brother/sister combo growing up. We had days we loved each other, and days we fought. Over the years as we grew up we developed a more mature relationship as siblings.However since I’ve moved on and out from the house and he has began his career we don’t see each other as much. Adam actually works with my brother (both Electricians) as well as Adam’s brother in law (his sister’s husband) so Adam probably, if not definitely, sees my brother more often than I do. Our family is a very close family and we try to get together as often as possible but it gets hard to figure out everyone’s schedule.Nick is pretty busy at work organizing, developing and planning for his company so it was nice to get away together for the first time in a long time. It was probably only the second time we had ever been on a plane together. We took a family vacation, which turned out to be our last family vacation just before our dad passed away, flying to San Francisco and a cruise in 2004. We were a camping family, not a flying around family. Our summer vacations would always be a week long camping trip to Cultas Lake each year. My brother and I probably haven’t really gone away together just the two of us for a while so it was a really great weekend with him.

It was a weekend in the winter wonderland that is Prince George at this time of year. I love a white Christmas, and I’m not sure we will get one here in Vancouver this year, although on the way home last night we actually had some snow and it was sticking to the ground. But of course it is all rained away this morning.

I made these Almond Butter blossoms/thumbprints before we left so I could bring some baking up with me. I love these cookies at Christmas but with my peanut allergy I don’t make them often. So I though why not make them with Almond butter instead, and then I can still enjoy them. They are just as delicious as the peanut butter version.

I bought these mini kisses from chipits -they are perfect for making smaller blossoms for your dessert tray, plus you don’t have to unwrap them and there are tons in a bag. I made 5-6 dozen cookies and still have half a bag left.

Almond Butter Blossoms


1 cup butter
1 cup almond butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
almond milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 bag Chipits Mini Kisses


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

2. In stand mixer, cream together butter, almond butter, brown sugar, and sugar until smooth.

Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Mix in a couple splashes of Almond milk and 2 tsp vanilla.

3. On low speed add in flour one cup at a time, and baking soda. Mix until incorporated. Dough should come together, and be a little bit sticky but easily able to shape. Add more flour a tablespoon at a time if too thin.

4. Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into balls in the palm of your hand. Place cookies 1 inches apart on un-greased cookie sheet.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to12 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie. Allow to cool completely, so the chocolate hardens before storing.

Dough should come together and be sticky, but not thin.

I made these about a tsp. size so I can add them to my dessert tray. I love cookies but I can’t eat too many full size ones. This way guests can try a bit of everything and the mini kisses are perfect.

Press a mini kiss into them once out of the oven.

Allow to cool completely before storing.

Share with those you love this Christmas.

Life, Loaf

‘Tis The Season

December 11, 2012

‘Tis the Season for…


Sickness – cold/flu?




The Christmas season is a time when many things seem to occur like clock work. Everybody gets sick at the same time, every student is stressing over finals and end projects, and in the midst of it all we are all hoping and praying for a miracle during this holly jolly season of ‘anything is possible’

I can say this past week I have been beyond stressed. Adam and I are now officially moved into our new house as of Saturday night, after many back and forth trips, that also included returning our couch that was deemed too small for the space. Adam’s brother in law has been quite sick the past two weeks and still struggling with a flu type sickness, and last week began what I dub the week of no eating and no sleeping. I am officially finished this semester of the PDP teaching program and passed my final and practicum, and this last week was a wind-down week of bringing together the loose ends and preparing to gear up for the long practicum beginning in January. Now, it wasn’t exactly a stressful week in terms of school but in terms of my personal life it was quite a difficult week.

They say moving is one of the hardest, most stressful thing you can go through in life.

As I googled “moving is stressful” the top site hits were:

Moving house is one of the most stressful experiences you’ll have” – Where one man said he had moved 26 times and finds it hard to believe it is stressful – an answer to which one man replied “Is your house a caravan?” Well noted.

As well as “Moving is the third most stressful event in life, following death and divorce.” This I can agree with because I have already experienced two of the three (no divorce here). Funny how life goes, as this week as we were moving in I also had a shockingly stressful week because of a terrible loss in my extended family. While I still believe Miracles may happen, this season our family was not afforded a Miracle. I won’t go into the details, but just want to remind everyone what this Season is truly about – Family and Friends and gathering together to celebrate in whichever way this may be for you and yours.

Embrace the joy of being with Family and Friends as often as possible. Don’t let the small things get to you (as my mom and Adam are constant reminders to me.) I am terrible at thinking of every small thing at once and turning it into a large thing to focus on.

‘Tis the Season for miracles if you are lucky enough to experience one.

I am constantly reminded how many days there are until Christmas through e-mail reminders, and how many short days there are left to buy presents. Just a reminder that presents aren’t everything. Just being Present in your families life is a large enough gift.

I also missed out on my last day for the semester with my PDP family and our get together, for which I optimistically baked this loaf for. Baking and cooking are a huge stress reliever for me. I think due to the whole not eating/not sleeping properly last week my stomach has taken quite a beating with the stress and is now taking it out on me. It’s been in knots, quivering, and nauseous the past few days and kept me at home. I made some chicken soup with rice for dinner, and enjoyed a bowl for breakfast as well. Instead of sharing this loaf with my school family, I’ll share it with Adam and his co-workers this week.

Lainey did her job as a therapy dog (her original purpose), and kept me company while I wasn’t feeling well

Cranberry Orange Loaf

Recipe adapted from: Just a Taste
Joy of Baking


1 large egg, well beaten
3/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and thoroughly dried
1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar (optional)


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan with butter or cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the beaten egg with the orange juice and vanilla extract.

In stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda. Add the pieces of butter to the flour, blending the ingredients together until butter/flour resemble pea sized pieces.

Add wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then stir in the cranberries. Pour the batter (will be thick) into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with the Turbinado sugar (optional).

Bake the bread for 50 or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, may add additional 10 mins to cooking if needed.

Let the bread cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.



December 7, 2012

As I write this my fingers smell of freshly diced garlic and fresh basil.

And I’m ok with that because this appetizer is delicious and as an Italian we’re pretty much born with basil in our blood.

Many Italian recipes begin with simple ingredients like tomatoes, basil or parsley and garlic. While I was in Italy this summer I had some of the best homemade pasta dishes in my life that had under 5 ingredients in them for the sauce. Fresh is always best. And, as my Nonna says ‘Italy is the best.”

My Nonna is one of (I say one of and not THE only because I have a feeling all Italians think this way) the most committed Italian citizen with an undying love for her country. Although she’s lived in Canada longer than she lived in Italy by now, she remans utterly loyal to everything Italian. From food to home furnishings, if it’s not Italian it’s not worth its salt.

{ Giueseppe making sauce }

It was quite the experience to go to Italy this summer with her to visit where my father was born. My Nonna makes the trip almost every single year back to her home country, and this year we met in Southern Italy for two weeks. It was amazing, and as my Nonna kept reminding me “You better eat a lot because you won’t find this in Vancouver!”

She was definitely right. However, I’d like to think I can still try and cook fresh delicious Italian cuisine in my own kitchen, even if it is a pale comparison to my Nonna’s authentic cooking in Italy.

If you’re looking for a little Italian apply to bring with you this season, this Bruschetta is a delicious, fresh appetizer that takes no time at all.

It’s easy to create with no baking (unless you make your own Crostini.. but my poor planning to go to a WalMart with no bakery, and no Baguettes, forced me to buy pre-made..Don’t tell my Nonna). And of course it’s seasonal colours, red and green.

Tonight I’m going to a girls Christmas get together, and after the week I’ve had I am in dire need of a little partay. I’m eagerly looking forward to the holiday season and all of the get togethers with family and friends we have lined up.

To Make Fresh Bruschetta You will Need:

Fresh Basil

 Grape Tomatoes

Diced in half

Finely Diced Garlic

Chopped basil

Fresh Bruschetta:

  • Olive Oil (2-3 tbs)
  • Grape Tomatoes ( 2-3 packages )
  • Garlic  ( 3-4 cloves )
  • Fresh Basil
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
Chop the grape tomatoes in half and place in medium bowl. Dice/chop the garlic and add to tomatoes. Chop or tear (like I do) the basil into small pieces and add to bowl. Drizzle a good amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Set aside in bowl on counter to marinate – do not refrigerate.
To make Crostini, pre-heat one to 400 Degrees.
Slice baguette into thin slices and place in single layer on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil on both sides and bake for 10-15 minutes, and turn to bake additional 5-10 mins on other side. Remove from oven and let cool. Slice a piece of garlic and rub onto cooled crostini. Top with Bruschetta!