Bars & Squares

At Last

November 25, 2012

{Etta James Style}

This has been a long time coming.

A Very. Very. Very. Long time coming.

I have wanted a new camera probably since I started this blog in 2008. Not just any camera, but a Canon.

I have had my eye on a Canon Rebel for quite some time. A couple things held me back from getting one right away, but mostly the cost. As a ‘starving student’ (Hah) I just couldn’t bring myself to spend upwards of 500-600$ on a camera when I wasn’t exactly working, and in school full time. So, I made do with what I had. Adam and I bought a Panasonic Lumix camera back when we went to Mexico the first time. This was a major upgrade to my old point and shoot Nikon. However, that was about 300$ on sale at the time we purchased it, and we split it 50/50. It was also a point and shoot, but a huge step up, and only a few steps down from a DSLR. It was a pretty good camera, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for in a camera.

Bloggers will know, especially food bloggers, that the pictures are everything. A very appetizing dish can quickly become un-appetizing with a bad photograph. So many times I have made wonderful, delicious recipes that I wanted to share with you, but the photo’s just weren’t great. It’s hard to sell a recipe when the photograph looks so unappealing. I can go on and on about how amazing good it was, but if the photo isn’t great you may not be up to trying it out. Somewhat like my cookbook theory; if there’s no pictures in the book I don’t buy it. I need a photograph! Otherwise, how else am I going to know if it turned out right? Or, if it looks like something I might want to try. I need at least 80% of the recipes to have photographs accompanying them! If I ever made a cookbook, or maybe When, I make my own cookbook I would make sure Every Single Recipe has a picture. Cooking is very visual.

People, the photographs are the food relationship deal breaker.

I had been trying to use the point-and shoot Lumix, but it just wasn’t capturing the photographs right. It’s sad to say that my iPhone camera worked better for me, and about 70% of the photo’s on the blog recently were probably from my iPhone.

I had said I wasn’t going to partake in the Black Friday madness, but I was sucked in. I was browsing the flyers and sales and noticed a Canon Rebel T3 on sale at Black’s Photography (no pun intended.) The deal was $399 for the Rebel T3, including a lens. Now, I have been hunting and drooling over, and stalking Canon cameras for probably the last year or two religiously. Adam can confirm my lamenting about wanting a new camera forever. So, when I saw one on sale for LESS than 400$ I was shocked! Then, I also saw Shoppers Drug Mart had one on for $379! As well, WalMart had it on for $398, plus they Ad-Match, so you could bring in the Shopper’s Ad and price match it. So, I asked Adam to kindly stop on his way home from work to pick me one up! What a great boyfriend =)

Now, I’m still a starving well fed student, but I had recently sold a few new/recently won un-needed items on Craigslist, and had been saving up my money specifically for a new camera, stored in my great-aunts teacup on my dresser. Thankfully the amount I had saved in my antique teacup was the exact amount needed. Therefore, not money out of pocket for me!

{Adam’s dog, Chubby. One of my first photographs}

It’s nice to know that after saving up, and waiting I finally have what I’ve wanted. It also makes you appreciate it more knowing that you’ve been wanting it for so long.

Good things come to those who wait.

Now, of course to celebrate I had to break in the new camera with a recipe. I needed something to take pictures of clearly.

I brought these to a Cousins get together last night, the first holiday party of the season! They were a hit, and definitely going to be making them again this season. They reminded me of my Blackberry Crumb bars, but the base and topping were a little more firm.

Cranberry Lemon Squares
Adapted from: Kitchen Culinaire  

For the dough:

3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced (juice reserved for filling)
1 cup,  cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg
2-3 tbs. water
2 tsp. vanilla

For the filling:

1 bag frozen cranberries, plus a little more depending on your baking dish size.
1/2 cup sugar
reserved juice from 1 medium lemon
2 tablespoons corn starch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  1. Mix the cranberries, sugar and the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and mix well. I always have lemon juice on hand, so I added a bit more to the mixture.
  2. For the dough combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and lemon zest in mixer with paddle attachment. Mix on low to combine dry ingredients.
  3. Slowly add chilled cubed butter and mix on low until dough forms pea sized crumbs, don’t over mix. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again. Add a couple tsp. of water if needed, more or less, until dough just comes together but still slightly crumbly. You can also use a food processor if you like.
  4. Press a little more than half of the dough into the bottom of a  9 x 13 inch baking dish with your fingers. Set remaining dough aside for topping.
  5. Next add the cranberry filling, in a single layer so that the top is evenly covered, you don’t want any gaps.
  6. Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the top in small/pea sized clusters using your fingers to crumble it.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or so until the top starts to brown.
  8. Cool on countertop, you can also move it to the fridge to cool completely. Let sit at room temp for a few minutes before cutting.

These would also freeze nicely for the holiday season!

Paleo

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

November 19, 2012

Wow! November has been a super crazy month – and it’s not over yet. School has been busy, lots of prepping and work for my practicum in a grade 2 class. It’s been lots of fun too, I taught my class a dance and song for an assembly last week, and this week they are “exploring the world,” learning about different cultures in Canada, including things like what holidays they celebrate, and food they eat. Two things I am familiar with. As an Italian, my culture has a deep, and serious relationship with food.

Even though Canada has already had our Thanksgiving, this week is the American Thanksgiving, or shall I say another excuse for a crazy shopping, consumer-driven holiday. It’s become a little ridiculous, that American Thanksgiving. All I see in my inbox from Amazon is Black Friday Deals, which has now become an entire week of Black Friday deals?? I like that our Thanksgiving is so early, leaving a nice big gap between it and Christmas. However, I do like a good Pumpkin Pie.

I also like a good turkey dinner. I think I’ve convinced Adam’s mom to make a turkey dinner this Thursday to honour the American holiday. Plus, Adam and I get our house in TWO WEEKS!!!!! So it would be nice to have a big family dinner before we move.

I made this Pumpkin Pie, or tart, for our Thanksgiving and though I would share it for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a Paleo Pumpkin Pie. And two, It’s super ridiculously delicious and easy. No pie dough required.

Adam was on a Paleo diet for a while, he wanted to try it out and see how he felt while eliminating beans, wheat and dairy etc. from his diet. He was having two sandwiches a day for lunch, along with cheese, crackers, cereal, milk etc. A lot of dairy and wheat made up the bulk of his diet. He was always good at eating his vegetables too, but thought he would try the Paleo way of eating after talking to a cousin of his, who is also a personal trainer, and a friend who is an avid cross-fit instructor and Paleo enthusiast.

What is Paleo?

“The Paleolithic style of eating is based on the foods that our ancestors  used to ingest before the introduction of agriculture (10,000 years ago). The idea is that humans are intended to eat certain foods, and evolution hasn’t caught up to digest or utilize the highly processed foods we see today. The Paleo diet was first suggested by gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin, who claimed that a carnivorous diet, high in fats and proteins and low in carbs, would improve health and prevent digestive problems. Since then, many doctors and nutritionists have jumped on the Paleo bandwagon and offer alternatives to the original plan which can include dairy and starches.” – The Fitnessista

Adam said it was pretty tough, and the first week sucked. He said he had a headache for a bit, from not eating those foods. But, he feels much better now that he tries to avoid those foods. He’s traded honey nut cheerios and milk in the morning for scrambled eggs with veggies and the occasional bacon, and he said it fills him up, and keeps him full longer. Which is a good thing when you work in a trade, and wake up at 5:30 am. I think eggs and veggies is a better alternative to processed cereals and milk for sure.

He did pretty good for a while, but he’s slipped the past month or so. I’ve been bad lately too with my wheat allergy, eating things containing wheat and then paying for it later. So does Adam. He said he can also feel it when he cheats, so we’re both trying to get back to that clean-eating lifestyle. I’ve made so many wheat-free main dishes for dinner, I’ll have to post them soon, because they were all delicious as well. We both are looking forward to the new house, getting into old routines and I’m most looking forward to my brand-spanking new giant kitchen.

I think I’ll need to maybe make this tart again for Thursday. I just baked and pureed my sugar pumpkins on the weekend, so I have lots of homemade Pumpkin Puree hanging around, even after making Butternut Squash and Pumpkin/Carrot soup last night for dinner. Also delicious.

I have always been a Pumpkin Pie lover, but I gotta say I liked the firmness of the pumpkin filing, and I prefer a nut crust over pastry!

This Paleo pumpkin pie is really easy, it’s Dairy-Free, Wheat-Free, and Gluten-Free. A perfect addition to your holiday table, to please all of your special diet-eaters.
Original recipe from here

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

Crust:

1 1/2 cup nuts (pecan or walnut, or a mix of both)

2 Tbsp.  coconut oil or butter

 

I used:

1  cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts

Filling:

2 cups 100% pumpkin (homemade or store bought)
1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat)
1/4 cup raw honey
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1-2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, or All spice, Ginger, Nutmeg and cinnamonDirections

Preheat oven to 350 degrees C.

Melt the coconut oil or butter and mix into the chopped pecans.  Press this mixture into a pie dish/tart dish for the crust.

Place dish on top of cookie sheet, and partially bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool

Place pumpkin puree, coconut milk, honey and eggs into food processor. Pulse until combined, and then puree until filling is silky and smooth. Pour into partially baked tart crust, and bake for one hour, or until firm. Middle should be slightly wiggly if you tap it. Set aside to cool, can store at room temperature or in fridge.

Serve with Paleo Whipped Cream

To make dairy-free whipped cream, place a full fat can of Coconut Milk in the fridge 24 hours, overnight. Open can carefully, and scoop out top half of solid coconut milk. Discard the coconut water, or keep for later use. Using a beater, whip hardened coconut milk until fluffy, you can add some vanilla in if you like. Serve with Paleo Pumpkin Tart! Store extra in fridge.

 

Life

Smitten + A Guest Post

November 12, 2012

Sorry I’ve been so MIA from the blog the last week. For a while there I was doing pretty good, three or so posts a week. However, I’ve started student teaching and it’s gotten busy! Lots of work to do at night for the grade 2 class I am in, but it’s been really fun and a great experience so far.

I have lots of new posts lined up – Just have to find the time to edit and post them! But I promise more delicious recipes will be heading your way soon.

Last week I was so excited, and Smitten, to attend the Chapter’s book signing for the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman. I was also super excited to meet my friend Danielle from Smelly Danielly. If you love good humour, hilarious wit, honest opinions, photography, fashion and delicious Italian recipes I would highly suggest her blog. I think she might even be more Italian than me. She’s married to an Italian, so she’s got me beat there. She’s so cute in person, and we’ve already planned a cookbook making party once we both have our lives kitchen’s sorted out in our new homes. We’ve both in the process of moving!

It was a fun night for sure, lots of people turned up – wish they had allowed more questions, and actual pictures to be taken (we weren’t allowed to ‘pose’, candid photo only) But I was quite happy we had the opportunity, it seems Vancouver is missed on many blogger / cookbook book tours that I would have loved to see. Thanks for coming up to Vancouver Deb!

Also – Adam wrote me a guest post last week! His first appearance on the blog =) To free up some time for me – Thanks Adam!! (post after the pics!)

 { Deb was so cute, just adorable}

{Answering some Q&A’s}

{Chatting to Deb! Getting my booked signed =) }

{Deb and I having a moment. I told her I expected her to have a New Jersey accent! haha}

{Danielle and I with our new cookbooks!}

 {Officially personalized}

—-

Hello! I am Adam, the distraction/farmer/whiteboard holder/boyfriend that you may or may not have read about here on Bakeaholic.ca. I guess you could call me Mr. Bakeaholic (or Mr. Lucky to eat so well). Ironic that my last name is actually Baker. Alicia has been blogging for quite a while now, and I have read her posts and been included in many of them, but I have never really conributed and suppose this is as good a time as any to have my own first post.

There are many things I could write about, and I am hoping to write more posts in the future if Alicia will allow me to grace this blog with my presence. I hope to be doing some DIY projects in our new house and I will try to bring you along for the ride. I have no problem testing the delicious things that Alicia makes and telling you how great they are either!

I guess I will start with our Tuesday night last week, Alicia was excited to go down to the Chapters on South Granville (a favourite place of ours to visit) to attend a book signing by Deb Perleman  from the Smitten Kitchen. Alicia was meeting up with another blogger from the lower mainland so I was left to my own devices while they attended the event. I grabbed myself a coffee, Grande dark roast as usual from the Starbucks and headed towards the magazine section. I have been working ten hour days the last couples of weeks and I was pretty tired so I grabbed a seat and started reading a mens magazine called Sharp for Men. I really enjoyed it, more than the Maxim magazines I read when I was a teenager (I know, I know, they were pretty bad). I find that I am more interested in the lifestyle and fashion sections than I used to be. I had to keep myself from drooling over the multiple watch advertisement from Tag Heuer, Rolex Omega and many others. I have had a thing for watches for a while now, I have filled up the watch box that Alicia gave me two years ago. After I had flipped through a few magazines i headed over to check on how Alicia was doing, but couldn’t even get close, there were far too many people in attendance for the book signing. I left the fans alone and headed back to check out the latest special edition of Life Magazine, celebrating 50 years of Bond, James Bond.  I have loved James Bond since I saw the first one on a TBS special preview weekend when I was about 8. I have every movie on VHS and am trying to get them all on Blue-ray now, as I no longer even own a VCR. The newest film, Skyfall comes out this weekend, with Daniel Craig as the character he has breathed new life into. If you have never seen a Bond film, first of all, shame on you, and second of all, you should really get started! I would suggest a Connery Bond film to start, Goldfinger is a classic, then maybe a Roger Moore edition (The Spy Who Loved Me is great) and maybe Pierce Brosnan’s first turn at Bond in Goldeneye. Casino Royale though, the first to star Daniel Craig. just feels different than the others, grittier, faster, better. I recommend watching it as soon as possible and definitely on Blue-ray on a big screen TV.

Wow, I kind of went off on a tangent there didn’t I? I think this is a decent effort for a first post, add that to the fact I have to wake up at 5:30 tomorrow morning and it is coming up on 11. I am going to wrap this up.

Goodnight World, have a good sleep, I hope I do.