Yummy Energy Bites

Good Morning,

I don’t know about you but with the days getting colder and shorter, I find my energy is lacking.  And when my energy is low I usually crave food. And by food I mean snacks.  And by snacks I mean sugary, fatty, processed crap disguised as food. Sure, they are delicious, but they do little for my energy level (and add to my waistline).  In an effort to find some healthier ways to get a quick pick-me-up, I did a little “research” (aka spending quality time with my BFF Pinterest).  I was excited when I discovered some healthy (and yummy) sounding recipes for different energy bites.  So I tried them out, and I’m sharing three of them with you today!

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The first batch I tried were the Blueberry-Lemon Energy Bites from Dishing up the Dirt. Made with ground up nuts, dates, coconut and dried blueberries these are sweet, super fresh-tasting, and satisfying. I substituted ground almond instead of cashews and fresh blueberries instead of dried and they still turned out lovely.

blueberry-lemon

The next batch was the Nutella Energy Bites from Gimme Some Oven.  I know what you are thinking, these can’t be healthy if they are made with that heavenly hazelnut spread. Sure, they aren’t vegetable smoothie healthy, but when combined with things like flax and chia seeds which offer tons of fiber, protein, good Omega-3 fats and a slew of other minerals and nutrients, they are certainly better for you than a Nutella filled doughnut.  And they taste almost as good.

nutella bite

 The last bites on my list, the Moroccan Date Bon-Bon from Food & Wine, were the biggest surprise of my energy bite adventure. These ones are packed with dates, 3 kinds of nuts, various spices, and get this….kalamata olives! I was expecting the olives to throw off the sweet flavour but it was just the opposite.  They really complemented the other ingredients and made the flavour totally unique but delicious.  Also, I’ve never met a recipe with pistachios that I didn’t like.

Morrocan bonbon

Now, a couple of things to note about these recipes.  You need a good food processor, especially for the ones with the dates because they get very gummy and will bung up anything else you might use to whip these up.  And all of these recipes recommend you put them in the refrigerator, but my bites still fell into messy flat blobs in the fridge.  So, I kept them in the freezer to help keep the shape, and lots of the time I ate them straight out of the freezer!

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I would totally recommend all three of these bite-sized healthy snacks.  They are all very different, but all of them are delicious, filling and give you an energy boost when you need it most.  I hope you like them too!

XO,

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Childhood Recipe: Carol-Ann’s Cardamom Bread

Good Morning!

When I was a kid, my parent’s friends from Alberta, Ted and Carol-Ann, bought a really old farmhouse down the road from our cottage at Oak Point, New Brunswick.  They called it the Oak Point Inn. It looked like a haunted house. It had no electricity, no indoor plumbing, an awesome back staircase and what seemed like 1000 rooms when I was young. We had so much fun in that house. Playing hide and seek, pretending it was haunted and exploring every nook and cranny. We shared many meals there and after dinner when it got dark, we lit lots of candles and glass oils lanterns and huddled in to play boardgames or cards.  Needless to say, I have many memories of the Oak Point Inn but one of my fondest ones was making cardamom bread with Carol-Ann from scratch. I was pretty young at the time but she was patient and let me help at every step. I remember feeling very proud of myself when it was finished. And it was delicious. Over Christmas this year, my Mom suggested we make Carol-Ann’s cardamom bread recipe.  So we did. And I’m sharing it today.

I know you are probably thinking that cardamom bread sounds like it would be a savory bread.  But it’s not, it’s actually a very sweet bread.  Now, I cheated a little and made the dough using the dough setting of my mother’s bread maker, but I’ll share the manual instructions below in brackets for those of you who do not have a breadmaker.

You need:

  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 4- 4 1/2 cups of white flour
  • 1/4 cup of margarine, melted

For the wash:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp of milk
  • sliced almonds
  • sugar

ingredients

Check you breadmaker instructions for dough recipes and add all your ingredients in the order they are required. Set you breadmaker to the dough setting and turn on.

ALTERNATE (no breadmaker): Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, eggs, sugar, salt cardamon, and 2 cups of the flour.  Beat in melted margarine until smooth and then add remaining flour. Cover and rest 15 mins. Turn on floured surface and knead bread.  Place in greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down.

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bread maker

Split dough in half then split into 3 equal pieces.

dough1

Create 3 long tubes of dough that are roughly the same size.

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Braid three pieces.  Do the same for the other half of the dough and let rise again until doubled in size.

dough2

Whisk together the egg yolk and milk, and coat the loaves with it.

glazing

Sprinkle with sugar and sliced almonds.  Bake for 20-25 mins.

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And voila!  Tasty sweet cardamom bread.

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final product

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The bread tasted just as I remembered it from all those summers ago.  I think that the best recipes have a dash of nostalgia. They eventually sold the farmhouse and Carol-Ann is no longer with us but many memories are wrapped up in this recipe. I should also mention that I recently discovered that Carol-Ann’s daughter, Jody, who also spent some summers at the Oak Point Inn, is also a blogger in Calgary at Travels with Baggage!  I’m telling you the power of social media for re-connecting people is pretty amazing sometimes.

Have a great day!

XO,

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Le Diner En Blanc Toronto 2014

Good Morning!

Today I’m exited to share with you an amazing event I attended about 3 weeks ago called Le Diner En Blanc®.  The concept is a chic all-white picnic held in a public space in the city. A congregation of people, food and fashion creating a magical atmosphere which is neutral in both decor (all-white) and space (public place).

Le Diner en Blanc Toronto

Participants only find out the location of the event about 2 hours before it starts. You have to wear all white, bring your own food, white dishware and table linens, and depending on the location, your own table and white chairs.  Given that this event is held in a public space, there are many “rules” of the evening which allow for it to come together quickly and efficiently. Here they are (from the Diner En Blanc Toronto website):

  • In order to participate, one must be invited by a participant from the previous year or get on the official website’s waiting list.
  • Once confirmed, the presence of each guest thus becomes mandatory, regardless of weather conditions, as the event is held regardless of weather conditions.
  • Seats are allotted on-site in a very specific manner.
  • Table seating is symmetrical with men seated on one side and women on the other.
  • Participants arrive and depart at the same time by chartered bus or organized public transportation.
  • Depart with one’s belongings, leftovers and trash, leaving the place as clean as it was upon arrival.

Sounds like a lot of work, I know, but let me tell you that a little bit of work from everyone results in something which is truly a visual masterpiece, as you will see.

But first a little history. This event originated 25 years ago in (no big surprise) Paris, France, when François Pasquier assembled just a few of his friends for an all-white picnic. It has grown rapidly over the years and today Paris’ Dîner en Blanc draws nearly 15,000 people.  It doesn’t hurt that Le Diner En Blanc® in Paris has been held in some of the most magical places like Versailles and under the Eiffel Tower.  The event has since expanded to dozens of other cities worldwide.  You can learn more about the event at Le Diner En Blanc® website.

The setting for Le Diner En Blanc Toronto this year was Echo Beach at Ontario Place, which was a fabulous location because it has such a stunning view of the City.

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Now, I was lucky enough to get media tickets from a blog who wasn’t able to attend (thank you Girls on Bloor!) which meant that I didn’t have to bring all my own food and wine. As mentioned above, all attendees arrive and depart together, but because media could  arrive a little earlier than the crowd I was able to take this awesome photo of the city with just a few of the organizers/volunteers dressed in white in the foreground.

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Being there early also meant I got to take some great photos of the 1500 people arriving and setting up. Yes I said 1500.  And considering the numbers it took very little time to get everyone in place!!

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Adding to the beauty of the setting were ballerinas dancing near the entrance for the attendees to enjoy on their way in.

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The dinner is officially started with the waving of white napkins. And then people get down to eating, drinking and generally having a good time. There was a band that kept everyone entertained white they ate by candlelight, and a dance floor for post-Diner fun.

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I will apologize now for the quality of my pictures after this point.  I only had my iPhone with me for the event (still deciding which camera to invest in since I lost my mine) so the night-time pictures are less than stellar. But even had I had an amazing camera with me, I think it would be hard to really comprehend the beauty of this event just looking at pictures, without experiencing it in person.

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At the end of the evening everyone was given a large sparkler and the sea of white around me slowly turned into a sea of white and fire.  Another ridiculously cool sight to behold.

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And as you can imagine, the fashion is to die for.  So many gorgeous ensembles.  And there were prizes for best dressed, so people had a vested interest in looking fabulous. When the woman in the picture below walked in I said to myself, she is soo the winner for best-dressed.

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But as it turned out, she was actually the JUDGE for best dressed contest so she wasn’t eligible.  But she most certainly looked the part. I loved the fur, fascinator and her dress was absolutely gorgeous.

The woman below MADE her fabulous mask she is wearing….the detail is just amazing.

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But ultimately best dressed went to this woman, with her classic sophisticated look and beautiful fascinator.  You can see both the male and female best-dressed and other Diner en Blanc style on the Got-Style blog. 

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This is the only picture I have showing what I wore, taken unbeknownst to me by my friend Monisa who was my +1 for the festivities.  And given the weird things I do with my face when I know I’m being photographed, it’s probably better I didn’t know.

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It was really amazing to part of this event and was for sure one of the many highlights for 2014.  You can see more reviews and photos of the event at Best of Toronto, Toronto Life and Got Style blogs.  I’m definitely getting myself on the waiting list for the next one…..I’ve already started planning about my outfit!

XO,

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Tasty Tuesday: Simple Lemonade Syrup

Good Morning!

This may sound odd but one of the things my Mom makes that I LOVE is lemonade.  I know what you are thinking…”Did she say lemonade? Like the stuff that you get from a can that take about 5 mins to make?”  Yes, lemonade, but definitely NOT the kind from a can.  Today I’m sharing a recipe for lemonade syrup which, in my opinion, makes much better lemonade than the cans.  It takes a bit longer to make but it yields a lot more lemonade.  And it is no more expensive than the canned kind (trust me, I’ve done the math).

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This is what you will need:

  • juice of 6 Lemons + zest of 4 lemons
  • 10 cups of sugar
  • 6 cups of boiling water
  • 2 tbsp tartaric acid
  • 3 tbsp citric acid
  • 1 tbsp epsom salt

Makes 2+ liters of syrup.

For the last 3 ingredients you may have to get those at a health food store or pharmacy, although some grocery stores may carry them.

Also, the amount of sugar MAY alarm you (it did me….) but keep in mind you are just making the syrup (and A LOT of it) which you will then add water to to get the lemonade.  And you will only use about 30-40 mls of the syrup per glass so it’s actually not as much sugar per glass as it sounds.

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Take your lemon and grate the zest off of 4 of them.  If you are lucky you have a master zester like my dad to do this part.

Zesting

You will get this….

rinds

Then juice all six of those lemons.  My mom has a electric juicer which speeds it up,  but with only 6 lemons it won’t take long to do it by hand.

juicing

Then in a LARGE pot or bowl (at least 2.5 L) add the acids, epsom salt and sugar.

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Sugar

Add in your lemon juice and zest and then pour in 6 cups of BOILING water.

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Stir thoroughly until the sugar is dissolved and let it sit until cooled.  Then transfer to a container or containers.  I like the zest in it but if don’t you could strain it out.  But if you plan to do that I would let it sit overnight to make sure you get all the flavour before taking it out.

To make the lemonade just add about 30-40 mls of syrup (can vary depending on how sweet you like it) per cup of water (250 mls approx).  Or by using a the same measurement but scaled up you can make a whole jug of it!

Finished Lemonade Syrup

This is a sweet, delicious lemonade.  It does have a few more grams of  sugar in it than a regular lemonade (per glass), but it doesn’t have the high fructose corn syrup that most canned and bottled lemonades have and has fewer weird unpronounceable ingredients, so I would argue that it is more natural than the processed canned kind.

And once you have made it, it lasts for a long time.  You get almost 60 glasses of lemonade per batch where you might only get 5-6 per can.  And it’s almost the exact same cost per glass cost (about 20-25 cents) as the canned kind.  Better tasting, more natural lemonade for the same price as the can?  #nailedit  Totally worth a little extra prep time.

It also could make a great hostess gift for summertime gatherings.  Put some syrup in a mason jar with a pretty bow and a tag, and voila!  Instagift.

So, I obviously think this recipe is the bees knees,  but now it’s time for you to try it!   Let me know how you like it!

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Traditional Lobster Dinner

Good Morning!

Maybe it’s because I’ll be heading home soon, or maybe because I just attended my friend’s annual Canada Day lobster party but I totally have my favourite crustaceans on the brain these days.  I loooove lobster.  It is my favourite meal.   And the word meal is key here.  I’m talking traditional east coast lobsters were caught morning, true lobster “dinner”.  I almost never order a lobster meal in a restaurant (except maybe a lobster roll….).  It just doesn’t feel (or taste) the same if I’m not at my cottage in New Brunswick.   Today I’m sharing all things lobster, and more specifically what you need to pull of a decent lobster dinner.  But first some….

Lobster Fun Facts!

  • Although lobster can be various different colours in the ocean; all turn red when cooked because all color dyes get destroyed while cooking except the red dye.
  • Despite popular belief, lobsters do they do not scream when you cook them.  Lobsters do not have vocal chords. Any sound you hear could be that of air escaping from the lobster’s body cavity as it expands from heating.
  • The teeth of the lobster are in its stomach, which is a very short distance from the mouth.
  • Lobsters “smell” their food by using the four small antennae on the front of their heads and tiny sensing hairs that cover their bodies.
  • The greenish brown stuff you fin in the inside of the lobster is is the tomalley or tamali, which functions like the liver, pancreas and intestines in the lobster. Many people find this delicious to eat (like my dad).  I don’t mind it but usually scrap it off.
  • It takes 5 to 7 years for a lobster to grow to legal size in the ocean. A lobster at legal size will weigh approximately 1 pound.

You can find more fun facts here and here.

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Now what do you serve at a lobster dinner?  Well, with the lobster is the main event and doesn’t need much else.  But there are few things that are important….

1. Melted butter with lemon…lobster is the perfect vehicle for butter, am I right?  And without  the squeeze of lemon it’s just not the same for me.

lemon and butter copy Photos via Flikr Creative common (Casey Bisson and Troy Tolley)

2. Fresh rolls

rolls Photo via Flikr Creative common (dithie)

3.  Coleslaw or Potato Salad…or both!

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4. And if you NEED more vegetables (who has room with all the lobster and butter?), corn on the cob works well.

3898162422_5f36eb52bb_z Photo via Flikr Creative common (Keith McDuffee)

And that is it!  So simple, right?  An amazing meal with very actual little food prep required. However, if you are going to host a TRUE lobster dinner, there are a few essential tools you’ll want to have for the table.

lobster DInner table essentials

 

1.  The shell cracker:  The claw shells can be pretty hard so a few shell crackers are important.  The one is from Canadian company  Paderno.

2. The seafood pick: Forks won’t cut it when trying to get that last last teensy bit of lobster out of the shell (and lord knows you CANNOT leave anything behind).  You need a seafood pick.  I like this one from Crate and Barrel because it has a pick AND a scoop.

3. A large bowl:  For the shells.  You can’t  make room on your plate for more lobster with the shell(s) still sitting there now can you?  This one from Emile Henry will do the trick.

4. Napkins:  You are eating in large part with your hands.  You’ll need napkins like these from Pier 1 Imports.

5. The butter warmer:  This may be the most important tool.  What is lobster without warm melted butter?  Sure, you can throw it in the microwave every 10 mins to keep it warm, but why not use a butter warmer right on the table (like this Crate and Barrel one)? Then you can stay at the table and enjoy your feast!

6. and 7. The lobster bib and tablecloth:  As noted above, this meal can be messy, which I think is part of the fun.  However, less fun if you ruin your shirt.  Therefore, the bib is essential for me.  And how AWESOME are these ones from Canadian textile designer Avril Loretti?  Love.  And on the mess topic, if you are going to bother using a tablecloth, I would go with a plastic/vinyl like this one.  If you use a cloth one make sure it is washable.

And there it is for you, the lobster dinner basics.  AND now I’m hungry.

 

Summer Recipe: Grilled Peach Melba Sundae

Good Morning!

This morning I’m sharing a crowd pleasing recipe from the cover of this month’s Canadian Living magazine.  With grilling season in full swing, why not make the absolute most use your grill with this yummy dessert?  Grilled Peach Melba Sundaes with a raspberry sauce are T.A.S.T.Y.  I recently made this recipe for some friends and it was a hit.  And it’s really easy to do.

Raspberry copy

The raspberry sauce was sweet and delicious and the best part is you can easily make it ahead. Also, if you make a little extra you could use it for other things too.  Maybe add it to a vinaigrette to make a sweet raspberry salad dressing?

peaches

Once peaches are in season, this dessert will be extra sweet and delicious.

peaches and sugar

grilling peaches 2 *photo credit Jen Button 🙂

Grilled Peaches

almond

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I really loved this dessert.  As you can tell from the slightly melted ice cream in the photo, I put the peaches on while they were still warm from the grill which made it ever better! My friends were also fans….

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Aside from this dessert tasting great, it’s so easy whip up.  The sauce and toasted nuts can be made in advance.  And if you are already grilling your dinner on the barbecue you can then just throw on the peaches after and BAM!  An instant light dessert, perfect for long summer evenings on the patio.  You can find the full recipe here, or in this month’s Canadian Living magazine!

Have a great day!

XO,

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*This is sponsored post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

BBQ Love: Char Sui Ribs

 Good Morning!

It’s finally barbecue season again, so this morning I’m sharing a great BBQ recipe from the cover of the June Canadian Living magazine. Very few things scream BBQ like great ribs, am I right?  And these tangy Char Sui ribs are a great twist on your traditional ribs.  I tried out this recipe last weekend and it didn’t disappoint.  I started with some pork ribs, slathered it in the marinade and left them to absorb the deliciousness in the fridge overnight.

char sui ribs 5

 

After cooking in them in the oven, I put them on the BBQ to finish them off.

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I left them on until there was JUST enough charring on the surface that they were crispy, but didn’t taste burnt.

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You can see the red tone from the sauce which is due to the grenadine in the marinade.  Yes, I’m talking the stuff that goes in a shirley temple!  I have never used that ingredient in anything other than drinks, but it worked great in this.

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char sui ribs 1

 

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I served them with brown rice (made properly for the first time EVER, I might add) and steamed veggies.

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The flavour of these ribs is awesome.  A little bit honey sweet with spiced undertones. Such a nice contrast to more traditional rib sauces.  I halved the recipe (and even then I was eating ribs for days! #singlegirlproblem) and it worked great.  The only thing I would do differently next time is I would choose a different cut of  rib than I did.  Confession, I have no idea what rib cut I bought.  I got it at my local asian market and the signs aren’t in English.  They just looked good (insert embarrassed face here).  But the bottom line is they had too much meat on them.  They were perfectly moist but the meat didn’t come off the bone as easily as I would have liked. I think smaller ribs might work better.  But the taste was awesome and I would recommend this recipe for sure.  You can find the whole recipe here on the Canadian Living website!

Do you have a favourite BBQ recipe?

XO,

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Delish Sesame Chicken with Fennel and Orange Salad

Good Morning!

I’m going to be frank with you, it’s rare for me to really enjoy a salad. A friend of mine often says, “you don’t make friends with salad”, and I tend to agree with that statement.  It’s even more rare for me to sing the praises of a salad recipe.  Well, this morning my friends, I’m singing a new tune.  I recently tried Canadian Living’s Sesame Chicken with Fennel and Orange Salad recipe (which is their May cover recipe) and this salad was delicious.

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The recipe was really easy to follow, took no time to whip up, and the ingredients were all things I already had or could find easily at my local grocery store.

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I grilled the chicken on the barbecue which gave it a little extra smokey flavour.  For the dressing, I substituted grainy Dijon mustard, with hot and sweet Russian mustard which made it extra tangy and sweet.

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This salad is a winner in my books.  Crunchy, tangy and filling.  You won’t feel like you need another meal after you eat this salad.  And you can trust that if this salad skeptic is saying you should try this recipe, then it must be good.  You can find the full recipe here.   You can also see how other CL bloggers made this recipe, here.  Enjoy!

XO,

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Note: This was paid post. All the opinions are my own. I only endorse or promote things on this blog that I truly support and enjoy.

Taste Tuesday: Country Seed Bread

  Good Morning!

I really did have a Last Week’s Loves post mostly written but then yesterday got the best of me and I didn’t get it finalized and posted…so maybe next week I’ll do a Last Two Week’s Loves post!  But for now, back to Taste Tuesday. My biggest weakness, more than salty snacks or chocolate, is bread. I LOVE CARBS.  And not the good kind.  The baskets of delicious white bread that come on the table before you eat at a restaurant, fresh white rolls, thick pizza dough, really bad for you kind. Needless to say I’ve been making an effort to cut down on my bread consumption.  But when I do have bread in the house, I try to make my own instead of buying it.  Since it’s time consuming to make bread I figure I’m less likely to make it very often. It has been awhile since I’ve had bread in the house so I decided to make some this weekend.  This recipe for Country Seed Bread from my ever reliable Complete Canadian Living Cookbook is great.  It’s got some whole wheat and good for you seeds like flax and sesame…it almost feels like I should be able to eat it for every meal. (SEE? It’s a slippery slope….) But regardless, it’s delicious and relatively simple as far as making bread goes.  I made the recipe last week and here is the recipe in pictures.

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And VOILA you have homemade bread!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Not so hard, right?  It is a time commitment, but not actually ‘making’ it, that takes no time.  Most of the time consists of waiting for the bread to rise and the baking time.  You just need to be around your house for a few hours and work it in between doing other things.

Have you ever made homemade bread!

XO,

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Taste Tuesday: Nougat

Good Morning!

Did any of you go to the One of Kind Show in Toronto in the spring or at Christmas?  Well, something I discovered in the food aisles (LOVE the food aisles) thanks to La Nougaterie Quebec….you guessed it, nougat.

Photo by Victoria Reay via Flickr CC

Until this discovery my exposure to nougat has been the tiny bits inside the Toblerone bar that make it so delicious.  La Nougaterie had all sorts of flavours; chocolate,  lavender, cassis, cranberry….and my favourite by far, orange.

Photo by Meraj Chhaya via Flickr CC

So I’ve been thinking that I need to try to make my own orange nougat.  I’ve found a few recipes that look like they are worth trying, but the one that looks like it is closest to what I want is this Hazelnut & Orange Blossom Nougat from Pease Pudding blog.  I get the impression that nougat is not the easiest to do successfully, so it may take me a few tries to get it right but I’ll keep you posted!

Have you ever tried making nougat?

XO,

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