It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… (which is only 5 days away!!!!)
Today is a wonderfully white snow day in Metro Vancouver.
The fluffy white snowflakes began falling late last night and we woke up to roads blanketed in snow. Snow makes everything look beautiful.
I hope it sticks around for Christmas. We haven’t had a white Christmas in Vancouver for a few years.. oh how lovely it would be.
However, snow in Vancouver creates chaos. Unlike most people, I actually put on brand new all weather tires a couple months ago so I was pretty prepared for the cold weather and ice. Whereas a lot of people in Vancouver don’t have all weather/snow tires, and if they do they wait until after it is already snowing to put them on….
I’ve been watching Twitter all morning and the list of accidents/cars in the ditch keeps growing.. Stay safe out there people.
What better way to celebrate a snow day (if you’re lucky enough to be home today and enjoy it!) than to bake. A warm house filled with baked goods while snow falls outside is a perfect winter afternoon to me.
I have a certain love for ginger baked goods (such as these GingerStamp cookies) – the aroma is delicious. These are soft and chewy gingerbread people with a spicy ginger bite. To make them a little more personalized, without using royal icing, I used a small letter cookie cutter to imprint our family members initials on them. They would be great for table setting cards – or on top of presents.
Stay warm inside on this snow day and bake yourself a gingerbread army.
The dough itself is easy, and only requires about an hour to chill. Little kids can help with rolling out cutting out the cookies, and even decorating if you want to add frosting.
Soft and chewy personalized Gingerbread Men
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices in a large bowl and set aside.
- 2. Beat butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses.
- 3. Add flour mixture, mixing on low until just combined. Divide dough in half and wrap each in plastic.
- 4. Refrigerate until cold and firm, about one hour or up to two days.
- 5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes of your choice, I used smaller gingerbread men cutters. If you want to personalized them, lightly press a small letter cookie cutter into center of the cookie. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone baking mat.
- 6. Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
- Store in airtight container on counter for up to a week, or freeze.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Adapted from Martha Stewart
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
Happy long weekend everyone!
We’re off to the island this weekend for some camping, atv’ing and boating! I am so excited – I haven’t been ‘real’ camping for a while, and I’m really excited to go with some friends of ours who we haven’t seen for a while. They live on the island, we live on the mainland, so we only get together every now and then. And, they’ve made the trip over here the last couple times so I figure it was our time to take the ferry across. I also haven’t been on a ferry for a long time, after living on the island for school one semester I had my fair share of ferries. However, BC has a beautiful coastline and the ferry ride is gorgeous. I’m hoping the clouds part and we have a sunny, smooth sailing.
Camping was always our summer family vacation. We weren’t the cross country, road trip family. The first time I went on a plane with my mom, dad and brother for a family vacation, I was almost 16 years old. We went to San Francisco and then cruised home on a 3 day cruise back to Vancouver. So, when I grew up every summer I looked forward to our family camping trip.
Without fail we went to Cultas Lake with my dad’s cousin, his wife and their kids (my cousins.) Every year it was a crazy fun family adventure, and every year we got rained out. Like, every year. We never left, however, we just had to put up with the pools of water inside the tents and the makeshift tarp rain cover, giving us a good reason to laugh about it. Although my parents might have had less than perfect camping experience, as kids, we absolutely loved it. There are so many stories we tell over and over from those camping trips. One year my dad and uncle dropped off the wives and kids a week before the ‘men’ could come, and it rained the entire time. Mom never told dad, but we went into town and ate every. single. night. because it was such horrible weather. When my dad and uncle joined us after, they said “let’s go into town for dinner,” thinking that we had a rough week in the rain and it would be a nice treat. Little did they know we had actually already been into town, at the same restaurant just the night before.
It’s nice to be able to reminisce about them now, and I’m thankful that we had those experiences with my dad while he was here. Family holiday’s don’t have to be glamourous, and I think camping is the perfect family vacation to get away from all our technology and unplug, and reconnect with each other.
However, now, camping is simply an excuse to get a tan, hang out with friends, go boating, and have a good time. When we have our own little family, I look forward to planning family camping trips, come rain or shine.
I have done a TON of pre-baking, cooking and packing before we leave. I think it’s the teacher in me – I have to be organized. Adam thinks we have too much food, but I say it’s better to have too much than too little. Plus, we can always bring non-perishable stuff back with us. I’ve pre cut, pre-washed and prepped all of our veggies and fruit to make it easier once we’re there.
Also, I can’t believe how much we’ve packed for the two of us. Every time we go on vacation I ask Adam “how the heck did our parents do it, with kids!?” I feel that the car is packed full for just us, and can’t imagine doing it with a full family! I laugh now, because my dad would always load our full sized BBQ into the back of our van to take camping. It was huge, and heavy! I have no idea how we packed so much stuff each year with coolers full of food (let alone, thinking about what to cook and make sure it doesn’t go bad), the tent stuff, bikes, and clothes for everyone. I guess I’ll learn how to some day!
So far I’ve prepped/made:
- Chicken, sliced, marinated and frozen for Fajitas (thaw during the day for dinner + keeps cooler colder)
- Peppers and onions sliced, for fajitas
- Guacamole, for fajitas and chips
- Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free banana berry protein breakfast muffins
- Hard boiled eggs for lunch or a quick breakfast if we go out boating/fishing early
- Steaks, marinated for dinner
- Marinated Quinoa Salad for lunches/dinner made + stored in large ziploc
- Kale and grated carrots and red onion, and nuts + dressing to make marinated kale salad
- Homemade trail mix for the car
- Dark chocolate and cranberry sugar free oatmeal breakfast/snack cookies sort of like my cowboy cookies
- Caramelized onions, pre-cooked to reheat for Smokies
- Washed and cut strawberries
- Washed blueberries
- Washed apples
- 2 jars of sliced carrots and celery with water to keep them crisp
Phew! I was up until 10 last night prepping. And so far we have made 3 trips to Wal Mart to get things we forget. Needless to say, Adam and I are both excited to go camping! And, we are now fully stocked for any future camping/picnic adventure.
I also made these no-bake peanut butter cookies. They’re sort of like the protein pods I make, but without the protein (though I also added it to a second batch.) They’re delicious, and a quick healthy cookie on the go if you’re craving something sweet.
**** And – I’ve discovered a secret to making smooth, round cookie dough balls! You need to puree the dates FIRST, and then add the oats etc. For my protein pods I always throw in the dates after I grind the oats/almonds, but If you puree the dates separately, and then add the oats after it will give you super smooth, super chewy smooth cookie dough!! ****
No Bake Raw Peanut Butter Cookies + the secret to smooth dough balls ;)
- 10 Medjool Dates
- 1/4 cup all natural peanut butter
- 1 cup rolled oats, not quick oats
- 1/2 – 1 cup almonds
- 1-2 Tbs. Water
First, in processor grind oatmeal and almonds until form a powder. Transfer to separate bowl and set aside.
Next, add dates and water in small dish and microwave for 30 seconds. This makes the dates softer, and the water helps when pureeing to make a paste. Add to food processor and process about 1 minute, scraping down sides when needed. If it’s still thick, add a little more water, you want it a paste, but not ‘watery.’
Then, add your oat/almond mixture back to the food processor, along with 1/4 cup of all natural peanut butter. If you want to make these with protein, add your protein powder now too. Process for another minute or two, scraping down sides when needed.
When dough starts to form, remove and roll into 1” balls. Use a fork to mark the tops like regular peanut butter cookies. Store in container in the fridge.
They taste even better after they’ve been in the fridge, like most baked goods.
Have a great long weekend, Canada!
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.