Saturday, June 30, 2012

whoopie pies

this weekend one of my bestest friends is getting married! i can't even believe the day is almost here and what a whirlwind the past few months have been. i am over the moon excited and so so happy to be a part of becky and blaine's special day! at the reception, they opted to have a sweet table in lieu of a traditional wedding cake - many (many) of their favourite baked goods and candy will be beautifully covering the spread. Becky asked if i might be able to help with a gluten-free option, and given that i recently acquired a vegan/ gluten-free dessert cookbook - babycakes covers the classics by erin mckenna (such an amazing book- highly recommend it!) - i was much too excited to help out!

sorry for the poor quality pictures - i was in a huge rush to get these made so just shot pictures with my phone
i picked their whoopie pie recipe (with one slight modification) and let me just say, these were some of the best cookies i have ever made- EVER! you would NEVER be able to tell they were vegan OR gluten-free and they blew all of my past attempts at (conventional) whoopie pies completely out of the water! again, highly recommended!

whoopie pies by babycakes

:: ingredients ::
- cookies -
1.5 cups bob's red mill all-purpose gluten-free baking flour (found on amazon or at most natural food stores) (NOTE: after making these many many times, i have found this recipe almost always requires a full extra 1/4 cup of flour to make them the right consistence to keep their shape while baking. if your batter looks and feels too runny, add more flour a little bit at a time until its stiffened up)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup arrowroot
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup melted coconut oil or organic canola oil
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 unsweetened apple sauce
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

* in the book it says for the filling of the whoopie pies to use 2.25 cups of Susanne's Specialities Ricemellow Creme - i had no luck finding it locally, so made icing instead.

- icing -
(not babycake approved as it uses soy and refined sugar- sorry)
1/2 cup earth balance vegan buttery spread (original flavour)
2 cups icing sugar (organic, fair-trade makes me feel slightly better about using it)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 tablespoons soy, coconut, or almond milk

:: directions ::
preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper
in a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. add all the wet ingredients and mix together with a spatula until mixture forms a smooth dough
drop dough by the teaspoonful onto prepared baking sheets - about 1.5 inches apart
bake for 7 minutes, rotate and bake another 7-ish minutes until nice and golden
let cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheet
* my cookies went a touch flat (i got a little wild with the apple sauce...) so i used a circular cookie cutter to cut the cookies into symmetrical shapes once cooled.
for icing, add all ingredients together and blend with a mixer for 5-8 minutes until light and fluffy.
spoon into the bottom of one cookie and sandwich with a second cookie. repeat until all cookies are used.

yields about 12 whoopie pies\ more if you make them mini

enjoy! xo

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

loving right now...

Custom made paper dolls (via paper acorn)  //  tribe print (via beauchamping)

quarts and square necklace (via miss moss)  //  psychedelic patch work quilt (via thief & bandit)

Monday, June 25, 2012

silence is golden

i apologize for the silence around here. part of it is just adjusting to (and enjoying every second of) our new routine. part of it is just that its summer time and the days never seem long enough, but- life is good and we are all happy and on route to being healthy again (more about that later.) for now, a few pictures of finn stolen from jeff's phone.

catching rain drops in the garden

Friday, June 22, 2012

this moment - 2012-06-22

{this moment} - a friday ritual. a photo (or two) - no words - capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (inspired by soulemama)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

all things new again

i cant even start to explain how good it feels to be home again. every morning i wake up and breathe the happiest sigh of relief that i get to spend the day with finn doing whatever we feel like doing. i feel like a new person. my energy and spirit seem to have doubled over night and, even though i have been sick (yes, again. or still...) and it has been raining ALL week, nothing seems to be able to stop us from enjoying every minute!

when i finished up at work last week, i made a conscious decision to 'cleanse' some of the negative energy that had built up over the last year. clear out the stale and no longer needed feelings of discontent, and breathe in happiness, patience, kindness, abundant energy, and the ability to be fully present with my family and friends during our time together. last night i started my negativity detox with an incredible reiki session with my beautiful friend, gisa. there were several times during the session that i felt some crazy things happening and it was amazing to have one full hour of quiet meditative time to myself. i honestly don't know if that has EVER happened before. afterward gisa said there were moments when her hair was standing on end from the flow of energy between the two of us. so incredible! long story short, i feel amazing today and am so excited for the next couple of events in this energy transformation. only good things are in store for this mama! i will keep you posted as to how they each go.

so- what have we been up to this week? well, lots!! we have been swimming (finn wasnt so sure about that in the beginning, but of course, when it was time to go, it was not an easy task to lure him out of the pool.) yesterday we spent the morning at the library playing life-sized chess and picking out lots of books, and today we went to butterfield acres farm where we saw baby goats and bunnies and tiny chicks. finn loved it and all afternoon kept saying 'more bunny? more goat? more cow?' (we didn't see a cow.) summary of how im feeling lately - rad.

on a side note, finn has been called a girl no less than 8 times this week. it doesnt bother me at all and i never correct them, but i sometimes feel bad that when people make that mistake, it makes THEM feel bad (which it shouldn't, but our culture is kinda super weird about gender stuff..) anyways, finn's hair is getting a little scraggly - should we cut it?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

gluten-free biscuits

a few months ago, jeff and i saw a new naturopath for some general health and wellness advise. no surprise she cautioned us both to try cutting out dairy and gluten for a while to see if it made each of use feel better. i was totally prepared for that to be her advise, but not all prepared to actually even attempt to live without those things. as a predominately vegetarian home, giving up dairy and gluten would leave us with... well, vegetables, and honestly, i pretty much live off bread and cheese. fast forward a few months and it is quite apparent that both diary and gluten are taking their tolls on the both of us. it has honestly been like simply VERBALIZING that their COULD be a problem made the problem fully surface (or perhaps just more noticeable and acknowledged). whatever the reason, we have both been doing our fair share of avoidance for the last little bit.

yesterday i was kindly taken out for lunch by my coworkers to celebrate my last few days of full-time employment. we went to such an amazing restaurant here in calgary called blue star diner - one of my all time favs! such a rad little spot with a dedication to local farmers and producers and many (MANY) vegan and gluten free-options- just up my alley! i had an incredible burger and opted to try their gluten-free bun. i was a touch nervous as i had overheard the waitress saying that the gluten-free buns were really good for gluten-free, but- they were not as good as their 'real' buns. the bun that showed up on my plate was surprisingly perfection! buttery and moist, delicious and wonderful- the perfect cover for the patty and condiments buried inside. needless to say, i came home tonight eager and excited to try my hand at my first gluten free baking experience, and i must say, i was again happily surprised. (sidenote: blue star diner gets their GF buns from a somewhat new bakery here in town called big star bake house - 100% gluten free baking!)

tonight i tackled some amazing biscuits. i first came across this recipe while we were visiting jeff's parents in new brunswick this past winter and instantly feel in love. it's from one of my most favourite blogs, cher stuff, and honestly - EVERY SINGLE RECIPE cheri posts is beyond perfect! i would go as far as to say they are mind blowing! i regularly go back to MANY of the recipes i first discovered on her blog and totally love her descriptions and thoughtful directions that accompany each post. her photographs and sweet anecdotes are beautiful too. long story short (well, not really i guess - this is a pretty long post) these biscuits are a definitely crowd pleaser! (and they don't have to be gluten-free)

Biscuits (via Cher Stuff Blog)

2 cups flour of your choosing *
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup milk

whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. using a pastry blender cut the slightly soft butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (note: i also recently read you can freeze your butter and then grate with a cheese grater into the flour mixture - i have never tried this method, but have heard it works wonders!) pour the cold milk over the flour/butter mixture and using a fork quickly blend until most of the flour is incorporated. don't over-mix!

lightly dust a board or counter with flour and turn the dough out onto it. using your hands press the dough out until it is about 3/4" thick. i use a glass to cut the rounds for the biscuits but you can use anything that strikes your fancy. place the cut out biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. gather the remaining dough together (without over working), press out again and cut out more rounds. continue until you have used all the dough - when I cut mine out using a glass that is about 2" in diameter i usually get about a dozen biscuits. if you want to skip the re-rolling process you can just cut the dough into rough squares using a knife and transfer those to the baking sheet. just another look and a tiny bit faster.

bake at 425 F for 9 minutes or until just beginning to brown (note: i like mine a little more golden, so ended up cooking for about 12 minutes). cool on a wire rack or better yet - eat while hot, slathered with honey-butter or butter and home-made jam.

*I used a commercially packaged organic gluten-free baking mix i bought at a local health food store. i was generally happy with it, however next time around i will definitely tackle making my own gluten-free flour mix as a small bag of this stuff was quite pricey and it was a touch on the chalky side. (Cheri has a wonderful recipe for GF flour mix in her website HERE)

tips for a gluten-free version:
the nice thing about using the gluten-free flour is that the caution to avoid over-mixing really doesn't apply. since there is no gluten the biscuits stay nice and light instead of becoming tough, which is the problem with over-mixing as it develops the gluten. watch the baking time - for the gluten-free version. 7 or 8 minutes was closer to correct. (again, me with the more well cooked thing, i baked for about 11 minutes.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

this moment - 2012-06-08

{this moment} - a friday ritual. a photo (or two) - no words - capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (inspired by soulemama)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

right now...

sorry for the silence around here lately- jeff's wonderful parents had been visiting us for just shy of a week and i of course, got deathly sick just as they arrived. a flu bug swooped in and made me a sleepy faced, tummy aching mess their entire visit. i tried to make the best of it and get out on a few dates with jeff and visits with friends while we had the most wonderful live-in babysitters, but i am just now starting to feel like myself again. i still have the wind knocked out of my sails, but definitely on the mend and on route to being completely healed- just in time to get back into the normal everyday routine.

right now i'm...
  • sipping tea, snacking on apricots and procrastinating doing any real work.
  • contemplating a big move. where will the wind take us?
  • planning an afternoon farmers market visit.
  • smiling as the sun peeks its head through the grey clouds that have hoovered over my city the last few days.
  • daydreaming about popsicle. 
  • looking forward to saturday! wedding crafts, organizing and planning with my sweet becky! (omg becks, your wedding is so soon!)
  • a little groggy from too much japanese food.
  • contemplating ordering this sweet wooden tea pot for finn (he LOVES having tea parties lately)
  • feeling excited that my remaining days of work are becoming numbered!
  • wondering if i will ever get around to gardening. sigh- not enough hours in the days it seems.
  • happy that my parents are getting settled in their new house! looking forward to spending many warm summer days playing in backyard with finn.
  • feeling content and fulfilled in many areas of life.
  • thinking of tackling this cute ruffled belt diy over the weekend - i have been desperately trying to find a green belt to go with my bridemaids dress for becky's wedding, but this might be the answer to our problems!
  • sending so much love to the ones i love the most! happy wednesday!! xo
jeffs parents brought a couple of hockey sticks out for finn - he likes them just a little.