7.23.2012

MOM


It was the most special lady in my life's bday this past weekend. Had a big family brunch with my aunts and uncles at the L'Arche Tova Cafe. I brought some cupcakes for the occasion, too! Mom + me will be hanging at Ten Spa sometime in the near future.

Last year, I made such an amazing gift for my mom. I still love looking at it. It was a milestone year, and - I don't want to give away her age but it rhymes with fixty. Anyways, I contacted the closest people in my mother's life; parents, brother, sisters, brother and sister in-laws and close personal friends. I asked them to write a short letter to my mom or a fond memory they share. From there I filled the book (which I made online) with pictures of her life and matched stories and well-wishes with relevant photos. 

My mom loved it, needless to say. 

<3 Love you Mom.

7.18.2012

DEAR MARTHA STEWART...





Dear Martha Stewart, 


There's a new blonde in town. Just kidding. But kind of not. As you guys know, one of my goals for this summer is to learn how to bake. Back when I was in Boston a few weeks ago, I picked up an amazing baking book by Williams Sonoma (which has been an incredible help). With the help of my baking bible and some helpful websites and blogs- I've been baking up a storm. Did I mention the new KitchenAid mixer addition to our kitchen? Cupcakes for everyone, I say.


My favourite sources online for baking recipes and how-to's are allrecipes +  Bakerella (such a cute blog).


Over the past week I've made a cheese cake, 24 mini cupcakes and a dozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes. The cookie dough cupcakes are ridiculous. Think raw cookie dough in the middle of a tasty cupcake- unreal! The recipe I used is below.


Tomorrow I'm making another cheesecake to bring to the cabin on Friday for a big party! I'm still undecided on what kind of coulis I want to make for the cheesecake. Last week I made a delicious blackberry coulis... maybe I'll try raspberry this week!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH CUPCAKES

  • Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes
  • Prep Time: 45 min + freeze time
  • Cook Time: 25 min


COOKIE DOUGH FILLING:


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips


CUPCAKES:




      1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all purpose flour

  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

  • Preparation



  • In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using electric mixer on low speed, mix in butter, milk, eggs and vanilla; beat on high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.



  • Spoon into 12 paper-lined or greased muffin cups, filling about three-quarters full. Bake in centre of 375°F (190°C) oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Transfer to rack; let cool completely. (Make-ahead: Store in airtight container for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 2 weeks.)

  • Directions:

  • 1. Prepare the cookie dough filling (see *Tips below): In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to stir together the butter, sugars, milk and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the cookie dough is firm. Scoop out dough in 2 tablespoon scoops and place it on a cookie sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes.

  • 2. Prepare the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners. Place the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt in a blender. Blend to combine. Add the water, oil, egg and vanilla. Blend to combine, scraping down the sides as needed a couple of times until all is well mixed. Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake liners. Drop a ball of frozen chocolate chip cookie dough into the center of each cupcake. If you would like the cookie dough to bake up slightly, keep the top visible as pictured in the post. If you'd like to keep the cookie dough somewhat raw, push it to the bottom of the cupcake wrapper, making sure that the batter comes up and over the dough.
  • 3. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake portion of the cupcake (not tested through the center where the dough is), comes out fairly clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before adding the frosting.
  • 4. Prepare the frosting: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugars until smooth and creamy. Mix in the flour, milk and vanilla and continue to mix until all is well combined.
  • 5. Assemble: Frost cupcakes with a knife or scoop the frosting into a piping bag and pipe it on decoratively. Sprinkle mini chips on top and garnish with a small chocolate chip cookie.
  • Tips:

  • *You don't necessarily have to melt the butter and refrigerate the dough before scooping. The melted butter just helps the sugar dissolve a bit more so you don't have that grainy texture in the cookie dough. It is necessary to freeze it though.
  • Source: RecipeGirl.com (cupcakes from this recipe, frosting adapted barely from TidyMom)

  • COOKIE DOUGH FROSTING:
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • GARNISH:
  • additional mini chocolate chips
  • 12 mini Chips Ahoy cookies



7.16.2012

SO GOOD

Him on repeat.


Catching up with my sister, weekend at the lake, sleep ins, cozy blankets, pups, canoe rides and long summer days. Life is good.


Every once and a while I like to read the quote that inspired my blog in the very beginning, it never fails to make me smile and remember the meaningful things in life...

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself. 
- Henry Miller

7.13.2012

POPPIN' BOTTLES OKANAGAN STYLE


The Vibrant Vines proprietor Wyn Lewis pours us a little taster and tells us fun facts about Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is apparently the only red wine that comes in the shape of a white bottle of wine.
The wino crew.
The incredibly sweet Vibrant Vines proprietor Marion Lewis.
Cheese between every stop.

Although the primary reason for jetting off to Kelowna was to watch two really great people get hitched and start a beautiful life together- the trip also served as a perfect opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do: vineyard tours.

I love wine. I love wine when I'm cooking, chatting with my girlfriends, watching a movie, painting, soaking in the tub, reading a book, you name it. I just love wine.

So finally, last weekend I was able to knock off another off of my Fifty list. A group of about 20 of us from the wedding, loaded up on a bus and toured four stunning Okanagan vineyards.

The first, and my absolute favourite, was The Vibrant Vine Kelowna Winery. Not only were we able to chat with the friendly proprietors Wyn and Marion Lewis, but the couple served us up their palette pleasing wines while telling us first hand stories of the history of Vibrant Vines. They had bought the property in 2003 and have turned it into something truly beautiful. I can't wait to go back.

The Vibrant Vine also had a live band playing in the back yard and featured fantastic 3D art produced by the proprietors' son, Phil Lewis. The bottles of wine were covered with Lewis' art and we were all given 3D glasses to see the art in full effect! I also really loved how this vineyard incorporated art and music into their vineyard.


After The Vibrant Vine, our bus continued on to Spierhead, The Vine and House of Rose Vineyards with cheese and cracker breaks in between each stop.

Overall, I drank a little bit more than I learned but it was an incredible experience and I was so happy to spend it with friends, old and new.  


7.10.2012

FROZEN STRAWBERRY BANANA CHOCOLATE TREATS





After coming across a cute little health, food and fitness blog- I found a recipe that looked too good not to try! Thankfully I had all the ingredients in my fridge so without further adieu: Frozen Strawberry Chocolate Banana Treats!


The original recipe called for peanut butter... but I used Nutella instead. 


I also substituted granola for Organic Holy Crap Cereal - Dragon's Blend. Mmmmm! I have to tell you that this cereal is my absolute favourite! It has hints of cinnamon, apples and cranberries in it! It's organic, gluten-free and vegan!


Ingredients:


Organic Bananas
Organic Strawberries
Strawberry Greek Yogurt
Organic Holy Crap - Dragon's Blend
Nutella


*You can find the original recipe HERE.

7.09.2012

KELOWNA TEASER



After coming home from Kelowna this afternoon and looking through all of my pictures, I feel as though I'm going to have to split my trip into several different posts. In the meantime, I thought I would give you guys a small taste of what I experienced in beautiful British Columbia through some of my favourite shots of the weekend.


I had such an incredible time in Kelowna, celebrating a friend's wedding, visiting with old friends, tasting local wines and exploring vineyards, and boating and swimming on Lake Okanagan. It was an amazing trip.

7.04.2012

BOSTON PHOTO DIARY + RECAP

Parish Cafe and Bar was phenomenal. Each item on the menu was created by a chef from the Boston area.
Mike & Patty's - An amazingggg sandwich shop on Church Street. This place was literally less than 200 square feet.
Avocado, eggs & some sort of asiago spread = my idea of Heaven.
I now know the secret recipe of home made lemonade- Boston style...
Our hotel was celebrating its centennial anniversary!

Stopped in at Williams-Sonoma and picked up a mammoth of a baking book to help me on my journey to becoming a top notch baker. I also got two very cute baking aprons with matching oven mitts!
At the most beautiful wedding I have ever been to. Hands down. 
Handsome men.
You will find Catie most days at The Fairmont Copley Plaza. She is the hotel's 'Canine Ambassador' and has her very own children's book. Guests can even take Catie for a walk around Boston!

The Pahk.
Douglas, Regina Pizza's bartender extraordinaire. He is the only man to ever work as a waiter at Regina's, which has been open since 1926.
I was told that pictures were not allowed BUT - the oven, still used today, was imported from Italy in 1883. It's the same oven Regina's Pizza has been using since they opened in 1926.
You don't even understand... 
A line-up, always.
Spent an afternoon at the beach and put our toes in the ocean.



Norah Jones sang some tunes...


BOSTON RECAP:

- Norah Jones concert- This girl has won NINE Grammy Awards...
- Tenacious D concert - This band has won zero Grammy Awards... but Jack Black was hilarious.
- Wedding
- Shopping
- Fenway Park: I would have LOVED to have caught a game, but the team was away...
- Regina's Pizza
- Mike & Patty's
- Saw the ocean
- Ate some delicious seafood
- Beers every day- sometimes even for breakfast- don't judge me
- Picked up some exciting goodies at Williams-Sonoma

I'm off to one of the most beautiful places in Canada tomorrow, the Okanagan in Kelowna, BC! I'll be knocking off another spot on my fifty list this weekend: visiting vineyards!