Cookbook Review: The Whole30 Cookbook

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My husband will be turning 40 this year and for the past 4 years he has been suffering from a variety of skin disorders that have literally popped up over night and taken over his life. He has been steadily healthy and rarely ever has a sniffle but his skin on the other hand has just been wreaking havoc on his day-to-day activities. He can barely walk without feeling a degree of discomfort. Simple daily tasks are becoming more and more difficult for him especially if it involves his hands being in water or changing a diaper on our 9-month-old baby.

Almost every day there seems to be a discussion between us about his skin and what might be causing these never ending-issues. The topic of our discussions: Food. The relationship between what he eats daily and the reaction his skin has to the various foods he eats.

I love the idea behind the Whole 30. (A big thank you to Penguin Random House for sending over a copy) “ For a full 30 days, you completely eliminate the foods that scientific literature and my clinical experience have deemed the most commonly problematic in one of four areas- your cravings, metabolism, digestion and immune system. During the elimination period, you’ll be completely eliminating these foods for a set period of time, experiencing what life is like without these commonly problematic triggers while paying careful attention to improvements in energy, sleep, digestions, mood, attention span, self-confidence, cravings, chronic pain or fatigue, athletic performance and recovery, and any number of other symptoms or medical conditions.” (Hartwig, 2016) Once the 30-day period is over, you slowly reintroduce the foods you have been missing and carefully pay attention to your body, the changes that occur and how you feel.

The Whole 30 diet involves eating meat, seafood, and eggs, lots of fruit and veggies and healthy fats. There are rules that you need to follow during the 30 day elimination- no added sugar of any kind, alcohol, grains, legumes, baked goods, dairy, etc. (Refer to the book for the rest-she goes in detail). I’ll be honest- I have never been able to stick to any kind of diet ever. I have tried to eliminate sugar in the past and it just doesn’t work for me. I also don’t have any major health issues that would make me want to diet in the first place anyways. That being said, I am always motivated to just eat and be healthier in general. My thoughts: If you can stick to the rules and you are motivated to change your life in some shape or form. This, in my opinion is the best way to do it. I love the idea and it just all makes perfect sense.

For those who are further interested in Whole 30, author Melissa Hartwig’s book The Whole30 talks all about it. This particular book “The Whole30 Cookbook” includes a bunch of recipes to get you started on your Whole 30 journey.

The Recipes

Recipes are easy to follow and most don’t have a lengthy ingredient list. There are a few exceptions of course. Recipes with longer ingredients however are ones with more spices (which only makes a dish tastier right!) Each recipe is accompanied with a description about the particular dish as well as a picture. Also included: Prep time, cook time, total time and serving amount. Some recipes have additional tips at the bottom for the particular recipe. The end of the book takes us to a Basics Section where she includes chicken broth, bone broth, basic mayonnaise, egg-free mayonnaise, Whole30 Ketchup and more. Also included is a list of Whole30 approved companies, cooking conversions and of course an index.

I managed to recreate 3 recipes in the book. You will have to pardon my not so perfect pictures. All were made in the evening when my kids were sound asleep so the lighting and presentation were not the greatest! Also not pictured below: Beef and Sweet Potato Chili. This was my favourite one of them all. I have already made it 3 times! I love this recipe because it has all the flavours of a normal chill minus the beans. I can’t for the life of me come to like beans!

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Smoky Barbecue-Spiced Kale Chips

 

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Pesto-Pepper Frittata with Squash

I have to be honest… I have not completed this 30-day challenge but trust me I can definitely use it and of course my husband would really benefit from it too. Once I can convince him to stick to an elimination diet to find his triggers, I will most definitely update this post and let you all know what the results were! Stay tuned!

A big thank you to Penguin Random House Toronto for sending over a copy of The Whole 30 Cookbook in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own. 

Grandbaby Cakes Cookbook Review

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Reading the introduction of this cookbook takes me back to my own memories of my grandmother baking. She hardly ever used a recipe from a book and truly baked from her heart and soul. Every single thing she made was made out of pure love. The look on her face when you would bite into one of her cookies was priceless- a smile from ear to ear with each bite. I miss her a lot. Last week marked the one-year anniversary of her passing and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. Reading this also makes me reflect on the grandmother I want to be one day. I hope to make plenty of memories- especially food memories with my future grandchildren.

Grandbaby Cakes is a heart warming cookbook with recipes that reflect the upbringing and culture of author Jocelyn Adams. “Vintage Recipes, Fresh Twists, Soulful Memories” the tagline to Adam’s website, Grandbaby Cakes. (A big thank you to Agate Publishing for generously sending me this book in exchange for an honest review)

The beginning of this cookbook takes us to a guideline on how to use the book, baking rules, ingredients, best baking tools, and words of advice.

The chapters are divided into the following:

  • Pound Cakes
  • Layer Cakes
  • Sheet Cakes
  • Baby Cakes
  • Celebration Cakes
  • Seasons and Holidays

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Ultimate Birthday Cake
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German Chocolate Pound Cake
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Blueberry Pan Cakelettes
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Cookies & Cream Gooey Cake
Recipes are fairly simple to follow and each one is classified according to difficulty. Grandbaby Cakes require the least amount of effort and time. Mama Cakes are intermediate-level cakes that require a little more time. Big Mama Cakes are the most advanced recipes and have more steps and possibly additional equipment.

Ingredients are listed in order of use and majority of the ingredients are basic and can be found at your local grocery store. Instructions are simple to follow and I did not have any issues recreating the recipe that I tested out.

Some on my to-do list:

  • Cinnamon Roll Pound Cake
  • German Chocolate Pound Cake
  • Snickerdoodle Gooey Cake
  • Cookies and Cream Gooey Cake
  • Blueberry Pan-Cakelettes
  • Smore Lava Cakes
  • Ultimate Birthday Cake
  • Snickers Cake
  • Coffee-Toffee Pumpkin Cupcakes

I just could not stop drooling at the Mississippi Mudslide Cake, which features moist chocolate cake with layers of ganache, kahlua whipped cream and Oreos. I recreated this beauty for a recent family celebration and not one crumb was left behind! I will most definitely be making it again. This cake was classified as “Big Mama Cake” difficulty however I personally found it quite easy to make. See below for pictures and recipe!

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Mississippi Mudslide Cake
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Looks a little lopsided but I promise it was not in reality! 

Mississippi Mudslide Cake

Difficulty Level: Big Mama Cake (see above for definition)

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Kahula Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream, cold
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch

Ganache

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup heavy cream, room temperature

Assembly

1-cup roughly chopped chocolate cream-filled sandwiches cookies, such as Oreos, divided.

Directions

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Liberally prepare 3 9-inch round pans with the nonstick method of your choice. (Melissa’s Note: I don’t own 3 9 inch round pans- I used one and cut the cake in half. This required longer baking time and regular toothpick pokes to ensure it was cooked)
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the granulated sugar and eggs and beat on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the hot water, cocoa powder, instant coffee, and salt. Add this to your mixer.
  4. Turn your mixer down to its lowest speed and slowly add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix until just combined. Be careful not to over mix. The batter will be somewhat thin, but this is normal. Do one final swirl of the batter to make sure the oil does not separate.
  5. Evenly pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a later comes out clean.
  6. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Let cool to room temperature. Lightly cover the cakes with foil or plastic wrap so they do not dry out.

For the Kahlua Whipped Cream:

  1. Clean your stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment. Place them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to get them nice and cold.
  2. Remove the bowl and whisk attachment from the refrigerator. Add the heavy cream and whip on high speed until soft peaks begin to form.
  3. Reduce your mixer speed to medium and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, Irish cream, Kahlua, cocoa powder, and cornstarch. Once everything is fully incorporated, turn your mixer speed back to high and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Transfer to the refrigerator until it is time to assemble the cake.

For the Ganache

  1. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream. Microwave on high for 15 seconds at a time, whisking together after each heating interval. Once the chocolate has melted into a shiny, smooth sauce (this takes about 30 to 45 seconds), transfer to the refrigerator for 15 minutes to cool.

To Assemble

  1. Once the layers are completely cooled, place 1 layer on a serving plate. Spread just the top of the layer with 1/3 of the whipped cream. Drizzle 1/3 of the cooled ganache over the whipped cream. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the ground cookies. Add the second layer and spread with another 1/3 of the whipped cream. Drizzle another 1/3 of the cooled ganache over the whipped cream. Sprinkle with another 1/3 of the ground cookies. Add the final layer, bottom-side up, and spread with the remaining whipped cream. Spread the whipped cream on the tip of the cake. Do not frost the side of the cake. Drizzle with the remaining ganache. Sprinkle with the remaining ground cookies. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Melissa’s Note: I added sprinkles to make it festive and of course for my toddler who is obsessed with them.

I am in love with this cookbook and it will most definitely become a go-to cookbook for special occasion cakes and more!

 

I received a copy of Grandbaby Cakes from Agate Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own.

Bobbette & Belle Cookbook Review

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I am absolutely dessert obsessed. When this gorgeous cookbook arrived at my doorstep, (Thank you Penguin Random House for generously sending it over in exchange for a review!) I was absolutely thrilled! Needless to say I had it all tabbed up with my favourites within minutes.

French-inspired pastry shop Bobbette & Belle based in Toronto, Ontario released this beauty late last year. This cookbook features a collection of over 100 recipes and variations of desserts all of which they sell in their pastry shop. While I have not had the opportunity to visit the shop (new mom problems), they have a line of treats they sell at The Bay Eaton Centre. Whenever I feel sorry for myself I will purchase a pack of their Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. They definitely aren’t cheap so I consider it an absolute treat and let me tell you….they are soooo worth the price. I was head over heels when I discovered this cookie recipe was revealed in the cookbook and yes they do taste almost the same!

The beginning of the book takes us to the Bobbette & Belle Story, essential tools and ingredients, general baking tips, tips for specific pastries and alternative baking & dietary restrictions. The sections are brief and not overwhelming (thank you!)

Chapters are divided into the following:

  • Classic Cookies and Bars
  • Cupcakes
  • Layer Cakes
  • Loaves, Scones, Bundts and Tortes
  • Crumbles, Tarts and Pies
  • French Macarons
  • Chilled Crème Desserts
  • Confections and Sweets
  • Buttercreams, Frostings, and Fillings

Also included at the end: A source guide, conversion chart and a cross-referenced index.

The Recipes

Recipes are fairly easy to follow. Ingredients are listed in order of use and each recipe begins with a story, which I love. Ingredients are basic and most can be found at your local grocery store. All recipes have little tips at the bottom to help you through your baking. Hands on and total time are not included in the recipes however you will find the amount each recipe yields. The photography is GORGEOUS and each recipe has a picture.

Some of the recipes I have tabbed up:

  • Double Chocolate Fleur De Sel Cookies
  • Shortbread Cookies
  • Amaretti Cookies
  • Death by Chocolate Brownies
  • Pecan Caramel Churchill Squares
  • Cinnamon Pinwheels
  • Double Chocolate Cupcakes
  • Dark Chocolate Brownie Fudge Cake
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduja Cake
  • “No Raisin” Carrot Cake (and may I add no pineapple too! Yay!)
  • Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
  • Blueberry Scones
  • Sharp Cheddar and Chive Scones
  • Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
  • Apple Crumble
  • Apple Galettes
  • Salted Caramel Tart with Dark Chocolate Glaze

I managed to recreate the Amaretti Cookies as well as the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I didn’t have much success with the Amaretti and I am reluctant to blame the recipe for being poorly written until I reattempt it. I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that I made an error somewhere along the way! The Chocolate Chip Cookies are amazing and I have made 3 batches of them with pure success every time! Find the recipe and pictures below.

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Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 24 Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature but not soft
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups large-flake rolled oats
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Put oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just to combine.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture, mixing until just combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once. Add the oats and chocolate chips and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Spoon 12 heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto each lined baking sheet, leaving ample space between them.
  6. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are light golden brown on the bottom. For even baking, rotate the sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Bobbette & Belle Tip: This recipe is particularly sensitive to the temperature of the butter. It needs to be room temperature but not too soft. If your kitchen is warm, use the butter before it reaches room temperature.

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Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Overall I am in love with this cookbook and it is most definitely one that I will be baking from often!

A big thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me this cookbook in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own.

Chewy Coconut Granola Bars with Sprinkles

IMG_3788.JPGI made these on a whim today with my 3 year old. Everything has to have sprinkles on it so of course…sprinkles it is all over these tasty bars! I used PC brand Natural Smooth Peanut Butter but you can use any kind of peanut butter you like. Comment below if you try them out!

Chewy Coconut Granola Bars with Sprinkles

  • Makes about 20 bars (depending on how big you cut them)
  • Active time: 20 min
  • Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup nuts (pecans, cashews or almonds)- I used cashews
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan melt together the coconut oil, honey, peanut or almond butter, salt and ginger stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the oats, coconut, nuts and chocolate chips. Pour the warm coconut oil mixture over the oats and stir together to combine.
  3. Pour mixture into a parchment-lined 9 x 13 inch baking dish and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with extra coconut, mini chocolate chips and sprinkles if desired. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
  4. Use the parchment to remove the bar from the dish and cut into squares or bars. Store bars, separated with parchment, in the fridge. Can be stored for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!

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Chickpea Pasta!

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photo taken from choosechickapea.com

I have recently fallen in love with this pasta and just had to let the world know my latest obsession so here is my quickie review!

This pasta is made of only 2 ingredients: Organic chickpea flour and Organic red lentil flour. Each 227g box contains a significant amount of folate (Hello pregnant mamas..so good for you!) Iron, zinc, vitamin B5, and magnesium are a few others that make it big. No artificial flavours, colours or added sugar…literally just 2 ingredients.

I first discovered this pasta at my local Longos and knew I just had to try it! I have tried all kinds of pasta and my family currently eats spelt, whole wheat and Catelli Greens. Being of Italian decent I just can’t get pasta out of my diet. I have tried on numerous occasions to eliminate it, eat less of it, and pretend I don’t like it anymore and I have to face reality that it’s just not going to happen.

At $5.99 a box for 227g I would not recommend using it at your next dinner party but in my opinion it is a small price for huge nutritional rewards for you and your family. All it really means is you can stop buying a bunch of .99 cent pasta bags and splurge a bit on a quality box of Chickpea Pasta once in a while. I have to confess that I bought a couple boxes and have almost entirely replaced my pasta stash.

How does it taste?

Hmm…good question. It definitely doesn’t taste like normal pasta. It tastes like a mix of bean, whole wheat and spelt. I have made it with my homemade tomato sauce and it is perfection! (see pic below)

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Chickapea Pasta Spirals with my homemade tomato sauce

The best part of this product? Created by a Canadian Mama. I love supporting Canadian anything.

The pasta comes in 3 varieties: spirals, penne, and shells. You can purchase it online or check out their website to find your local grocery store that carries it.  If you sign up for their newsletter you will receive 15% off your first order. You better believe I am taking advantage of that!

All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own. I purchased Chickapea Pasta from my local Longos at $5.99/box. I have never seen it on sale, but just deal with it and buy it already! 😉

“Sweet Mornings” Cookbook Review

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“Many of the recipes in this book reflect a time when folks lingered over their breakfast tables, rapt in conversation” Patty Pinner speaks in the introduction of her new book, “Sweet Mornings”. I love this. I have to admit that although I used to hate mornings, I am slowly becoming a morning person. Although I am so extremely exhausted first thing in the morning due to being a new mom all over again, I really look forward to sipping my coffee slowly. In fact my husband constantly teases me for being a really slow coffee drinker. I think part of me secretly does not want my mornings to end.

I love what this cookbook is all about. Family gatherings, reminiscing good times, bringing people together and socializing all over breakfast. These are the kind of cookbooks that genuinely warm my heart.

The beginning of the book takes us to a brief chat about what every baker needs as well as indispensible baking tools, then goes right into recipes (which I love). Recipes are divided into the following chapters:

  • Sweet Beginnings
  • Morning Savories

The Recipes

The recipes are so easy to follow its ridiculous. Not a ton of ingredients listed and definitely suitable for the beginner baker. I love that some recipes also call for some premade stuff. Now I would not have said that say 3 years ago prior to being a Mom, but now time is more precious than ever and some days call for shortcuts! (actually most days really!) You can also expect a ton of homemade recipes as well, which is equally as fantastic. The index is cross-referenced which makes it super easy to find your go to recipes in the book. The only downside…not a ton of pictures. This would normally turn me right off from the entire book but surprisingly it didn’t. Thankfully the recipe names are so delicious that they caught my attention right away, no picture needed! (Trust me on this one!)

Some of my favourite:

  • Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes
  • Tuesday Morning Blueberry Loaf
  • Mama’s French Toast Casserole (I can’t wait to try this one)
  • Mama’s Brown Sugar and Pecan Coffee Cake
  • Stuffed Pecan Pie French Toast
  • Morning Apple Crisp
  • Cream Cheese French Toast Bake and soooo many more!!

In our little family of four we have been making an effort to make Saturday mornings fun and memorable. We call Saturday morning breakfasts “Family fun breakfast” and my 3 year old daughter absolutely loves it. We purchase maple breakfast sausages, taters or any kind of frozen hash brown. My husband makes killer scrambled eggs and bacon and slathers toast in tons of butter (I’ll complain to him about having to lose my baby weight but secretly love it). Nothing about our fun breakfasts is really “homemade” but we don’t care. Its fast to make, tastes good and they are so so fun! We all sit there for a long time eating. Or let me rephrase that..my daughter sits there for roughly 2 hours eating..and demanding more.

While I was reviewing this book I was super excited to take over one family fun breakfast on Saturday and I chose to recreate the Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Bun Ring. This recipe included 2 tubes of refrigerated biscuit dough and I was super excited about it. I’ve never really cut corners before but as I mentioned above, it’s about time I do with 2 small children! Let me just say it was perfect. Delicious, fast and easy to make and my daughter loved helping me out.

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Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Bun Ring

Makes 10 Servings

  • Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
  • All-purpose flour for dusting
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons breakfast syrup (I used Maple Syrup)
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 (10-count) tubes refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough, separated (I could not find any with buttermilk and purchased Pillsbury biscuit dough)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan with the cooking spray and dust with some flour. Sprinkle the pecans and breakfast syrup into the pan.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/3 of the sugar mixture into the prepared pan.
  3. Split each round of biscuit dough in half and arrange the halves horizontally in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture on top of the rounds of dough.
  4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the ring is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Invert onto a serving platter and serve warm.

Overall this recipe was fantastic and I would definitely do it all over again. The only little issue I had was time in the oven. I had to keep it in the oven about 3 times longer that the stated time in the recipe. I am not sure why other than perhaps because the biscuit dough I purchased was a little different. I am not sure. Regardless, other than the impatient taste testers waiting, it was super fun, easy and delicious!

Click here to view a special Q & A with author Patty Pinner.

Many thanks to Agate Publishing for sending over this beautiful book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You may purchase Sweet Mornings: 125 Sweet & Savory Breakfast and Brunch Recipes” by Patty Pinner on Amazon.ca for the current price of $33.06 CAN. Price is subject to change

“Holiday Cookies” Cookbook Review

Christmas cookie baking for our family starts around mid November, when the Downtown Toronto Santa Clause Parade all goes down. To me this signifies the start of the Christmas season. I am trying to create memories and traditions for my young family and one of them is baking gingerbread with my 3 year old for the big day with her cousins. We bake and decorate all day and wrap up our tasty treats in plastic and she proudly shares them with her aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I loved reading some of the essays in this book and the memories each unique cookie played in that person’s life. “Holiday Cookies” is filled with a collection of recipes and essays from the history of the Chicago Tribune’s Holiday Cookie Contest. For the contest, readers submitted a brief essay and a recipe describing what made the cookie special to the writer. The book is divided into the following chapters:

  • Simple Drop Cookies
  • Sugar & Spice
  • Fruit & Nut Treats
  • Chocolate Delights
  • Sandwich Cookies
  • Brownies & Bars

Most recipes are accompanied by a picture of the cookie, as well as a photograph of the writer. The recipes are all quite simple to follow and most ingredients are readily available at your local supermarket.

I managed to recreate Dorie’s Dark and Stormies recipe which included chocolate of course. This recipe was used by contest winner Colleen Frankhart to get her through a rough romantic patch..and I can totally see why! Let’s just say they got me through the night with my 3 month old colicky baby! Comment below if you get around to trying the recipe.

 

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Dorie’s Dark and Stormies

Prep time: 25 minutes

Chill time: 1 hour

Bake time: 14 minutes per batch

 

Yields: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1-teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits.

Directions:

  1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together in a small bowl; set aside. Beat the butter until smooth in bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed. Add the sugars, vanilla and salt; beat 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add the flour mixture, mixing until incorporated but still crumbly, and being careful not to overload the dough. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
  1. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface; squeeze it so that it sticks together in large clumps. (If you need to, it’s OK to lightly flour the work surface.) Gather the dough into a ball; divide in half. Shape each ball into a log 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap; chill at least 1 hour.
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Gently slice logs into ½-inch rounds using a serrated knife (some will crumble; simply press broken bits back onto cookie). Place 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.
  1. Bake, one sheet at a time, 14 minutes; cookies will not look done or be firm. Cool on pan 5 minutes; transfer to cooling rack. Cool to room temperature.

NOTE: Dough can be made ahead and frozen. Frozen dough doesn’t need to be defrosted before baking: just slice logs and bake one minute longer. Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature up to 3 days or frozen up to a month.

 

I received a copy of Holiday Cookies from Agate Publishing. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You can purchase Holiday Cookies from Amazon.ca for the current price of $28.43 CAN.

“Try the World” Subscription Box Review

I love getting little goodies in the mail. Whenever something comes for me, it feels like Christmas and I get all giddy! When I received these 2 tasty gourmet food boxes, I was salivating at how yummy everything looked and I am always up for trying something new and different.

Let me first start by introducing one of the most unique and scrumptious subscription boxes. “Try the World” is a unique subscription box that is curated by expert chefs. Each item in the box is truly authentic and comes from the country of origin so you can be sure that you are only getting the absolute best. Each box comes with a variety of recipes, suggestions, and tips on how to use the products in the box and every product is accompanied by a little story about that particular item.

My particular favourites were the amaretti cookies from the Taste of Italy box and the Mexican hot chocolate tablets from the Holiday box. Scroll below to see all the goodies you can expect to find in these boxes!

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Try the World “Taste of Italy” Box
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Risotto al Funghi Porcini. This was SO GOOD and super easy to make. All you had to do was add a 1/2 cup of water every 5 min or so for 30 min. 
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Egg Pappardelle with Pesto all provided in this box. This fed both my husband and I and our toddler.

 

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Try the World “Holiday” Box
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Mexican hot chocolate tabs in hot milk. So good!

A variety of subscription options are available on the site. Starting at $29/month you can receive 7 to 8 gourmet delicacies from around the world each month. Both of my boxes came with a 20% off promo code (exclusive to subscribers) to use at the online store (more amaretti please!!) The shop carries all the products sampled in the box so you can purchase your favourites.

Thinking about subscribing? I’m including a link to a FREE “Taste of Italy” box with a subscription!:  http://bit.ly/2dyoH4K

A huge thank you to Try the World for sending over these 2 boxes for me to sample in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this post are 100% my own.

 

 

“2016 Christmas with Southern Living” Book Review

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With tips on entertaining, decorating ideas for the home and tons of super tasty recipes for the holiday season, this book is truly for the Christmas lover.

If your stuck on ideas on how to adorn your home with everything Christmas, this book has you covered. A fireside forest theme for your living room or a woodland mantel for your fireplace, each page is filled with beautiful Christmasy pictures on ideas for your home. Don’t know what to cook for your holiday feast? Full menus complete with recipes and pictures have you all set. My favourite part…the desserts of course! A huge bonus collection of all sorts of truffle recipes. A “Bake-and-Take Cookie Party” is a perfect activity to do with the kids with recipes for pecan linzer cookies, chai-spiced spritz cookies, dark chocolate crinkles and many more! Need some gifting ideas that don’t break the bank? A recipe for homemade all purpose biscuit, pancake, and waffle mix all in this 2016 collection complete with time-saving tips. Love it!

Short Rib and Stout Pies, Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Ricotta-Pecorino Crust,Amaretti-Chocolate Tart…yes this book is awesome! I am also loving the Cinnamon-Apple-Bourbon Bread Pudding that uses a package of frozen cinnamon rolls. I am usually a homemade everything kind of home cook but with a toddler and now a newborn, convenience recipes are becoming increasingly more appealing!

Pick and choose your favourites and make something unique and delicious for the holidays. The recipes included are super easy to follow and if you are familiar with recipes from Southern Living you will be well aware that they are SUPER delicious!

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One of my favourite parts of this book is the 2016 Holiday Planner included at the end of the book. How adorable is this; documenting everything you do for the holiday season including a calendar for November and December, a decorating planner, Holiday meal prep planning and tips and so much more. Areas to write your Christmas dinner plan, gifts and greetings checklist and holiday memories, notes for next year, absolutely perfection! I love it!

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I managed to recreate the Pear Salad and oh my goodness was it ever a hit with the family! We actually ended up eating this salad as a full meal for dinner one night (hence the picture below of the massive salad!) and it was absolutely to die for. Both my husband and I agree it will become a staple recipe in our cooking. I’ve included the recipe and picture below so you can taste for yourself. I can’t even imagine how tasty the rest of the recipes are!

Baby Kale and Pears with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette

Serves:8   Hands-on: 15 minutes  Total: 45 minutes

Tender baby kale leaves dressed in a savoury, rich roasted shallot dressing are enhanced by the sweetness of fall pears in this festive first course. Use a vegetable peeler to get pretty curls of cheese to garnish each plate of dressed salad.

  • 4 large shallots, halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large fresh thyme sprig
  • 1/4 cup high quality sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 medium-size, ripe Bosc pears, thinly sliced
  • 2 (5-oz) packages mixed greens with baby kale (*I just used mixed greens as I could not find a mix with baby kale)
  • 4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the shallots, oil, and thyme sprig in a small baking dish. Cover loosely with aluminium foil. Bake 30 min or until shallots are light golden brown and very tender, Discard thyme sprig.
  2. Pulse roasted shallot mixture, vinegar, chopped thyme, mustard, honey, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper in a blender until shallots are mashed. Process until blended, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. Toss pears with 1/4 cup dressing in a bowl.
  4. Toss mixed greens with 1/4 cup dressing in a large bowl, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer greens to a large platter, top with pears, and sprinkle with pecans and cheese.

NOTE: To make ahead, prepare recipe as directed through Step 3 up to 1 hour ahead. Store pears and dressing in refrigerator. Proceed with recipe as directed in Step 4 when ready to serve.

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This 2016 Complete Guide to Holiday Cooking and Decorating is definitely a keeper. I am absolutely thrilled to have discovered this annual book and I now look forward to it picking up a copy each year!

A special thanks to Oxmoor House (Time Inc Books) for sending over this wonderful book for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own. “2016 Christmas with Southern Living: The Complete Guide to Holiday Cooking and Decorating” is available at amazon.ca for the current price of $30.63. Price is subject to change.

Christmas Cookie Swap! Cookbook Review

Christmas Cookie Swap!  More than 100 Treat to Share this Holiday Season

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I’ve never actually organized a cookie swap before but if I do in the future I think I would probably make every single cookie in this book…and eat them all before swapping time!

With over 100 tasty treats packed in this adorable book I don’t even know where to begin! Spritz Cookies, Iced Cookies, Filled Cookies, you name it, it’s in there.  The book is divided into the following chapters:

  • Cookies for Santa
  • Decorated Cookies
  • Christmas Classics
  • Brownies and Bars
  • Confections

Also included is a small section on Christmas cookie basics, tips on assembling a cookie platter (super cute!) and metric equivalents. The recipes are SUPER easy to follow and directions are short and simple. The ingredients are also very accessible and easy to find at your local superstore. Each recipe begins with a short description of the particular cookie as well as a picture of the cookie (yes! Love it). If you’re a cookie junkie like me, you will love this book to pieces and it’s a must have in your baking library.

Some of my favourite recipes:

  • Pretzel-Toffee-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  • Coconut Macadamia Shortbread
  • Snickerdoodle Spritz Cookies
  • Maple-Praline Cookies
  • Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Shortbread Squares
  • Hazelnut and Brown Butter Biscotti
  • Hidden Kiss Cookies
  • Frosted Mocha Espresso Brownies
  • German Chocolate Cake Truffles
  • Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Pretzel Bites

And so many more!!!

I managed to recreate the Pretzel Toffee Blondies and they were deee-licious! Perfectly salty and sweet and they were a huge hit at work. Check out the recipe below and if you make them, let me know how it goes and post below!

PRETZEL-TOFFEE BLONDIES (pic below)

Hands-on time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Makes: 16 Blondies

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 22 small pretzel twists, chopped
  • 12 chocolate-covered small pretzel twists, chopped
  • 4 (1.4oz) bars chocolate-covered English toffee candy, chopped (I used Skor)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. Stir together the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl with a spoon until blended. Add the vanilla, salt, and egg; stir with a wire whisk until blended. Stir in the flour until blended. Stir in the pretzels and toffee candy. Pour into the prepared pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 24 to 26 minutes or until set and a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store loosely covered.

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All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. A huge thank you to Time Inc Books for generously sending over a copy of Christmas Cookie Swap! in exchange for an honest review. Christmas Cookie Swap! is available to Amazon.ca for the current price of $23.68 CAD.