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.
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 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.