Tuesday, November 25, 2014

12 days of baking || almond roca

this recipe is another of my grandma's greatest. it's one i make over and over and over again. one that everyone raves about and one that i got no less than 9 emails requesting the recipe for after our wedding. i have actually shared this on the blog before, but i just couldn't do a roundup of my favourite holiday recipes and not have this one included.

if you only make one recipe this entire holiday season, this would be the one to pick. simple ingredients, so easy to whip up, and bodes well tossed in a container in your fridges for an instant crowd pleaser whenever guests pop by. buttery, a little bit of crunch, the perfect mix of delicious and melt-in-your-mouth. there are not enough words to describe how perfect this simple recipe is, so you should probably just go try for yourself.

almond roca
:: ingredients ::
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 lb butter (don't use margarine. ever.)
1 cup sliced almonds
1-2 sleeve of graham crackers

:: directions ::
preheat oven to 350 degrees
line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and cover with a single layer of graham crackers
in a pot, melt butter and brown sugar together, stirring constantly until bubbly and foamy - about 5-7 minutes
remove from heat and stir in almonds
pour mixture over top of graham crackers and gently smooth out to edges
bake for 10 minutes
let cool in pan, break into pieces and enjoy!

for more 12 days of baking recipes, click HERE

Monday, November 24, 2014

12 days of baking || anne's gingerbread cookies

jeff's mom anne has one of the best recipes for gingerbread cookies. one that has been made every year since jeff and his brother kyle were little boys, and one that we look most forward to inhaling each december. a delicious treat full of happy memories.

because my brain wont keep up with me lately, i was forced to make a couple small modifications to anne's completely perfected recipe, but the results, thankfully, were equally delicious.
  • i substituted butter for shortening because i didnt have shortening on hand. the cookies turned out just great, but with the butter substitute, i chilled the dough for a couple hours before rolling it out. 
  • anne's classic recipe uses smarties for buttons on the gingerbread men. i forgot to add them to the grocery list (and all thats left of finn's halloween candy is suckers. bad parents.) so instead, i made this simple icing to drizzle over the top. it was almost as delicious as smarties.
  • anne traditionally cuts the dough into gingerbread people shapes, both big and small, but finn recently picked out a snowflake cookie cutter at the store and was adamant we use it when we made these. who am i to argue? 

anne's gingerbread cookies
:: ingredients ::
1 cup shortening or butter (or a mix of the two)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 egg
4 cups flour
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
smarties or simple icing to top

:: directions ::
preheat oven to 325 degrees
in a large bowl, cream together sugar and shortening/ butter
add in molasses and mix until incorporated
beat one add and add to the liquid mixture
in a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and spices.
add flour mixture into wet ingredients and mix until combined
flour your surface and roll dough out until 1/3" thick
cut shapes and add smarties (if using)
bake for 10-15 minutes (around 12 minutes is perfect for large shaped gingerbread men or snowflakes)
to avoid breaking, let the cookies cool on the baking tray for a bit before moving to a wire cooling rack. let them cool completely if you plan to ice them.


 to see more of the 12 days of baking recipes, click HERE

Friday, November 21, 2014

12 days of baking || glögg (mulled wine)

carina is a superhero. i have talked before about this amazing skill of hers - somehow managing to get it all done. and today, between moving houses, running kids around, volunteering for PAC, managing her own incredible blog, oh and working full-time, this beautiful swedish woman somehow found the time to make and share a special family tradition of hers- glögg.

this mulled wine is the perfect treat to warm you up from the inside out. it easily lived up to its reputation of pure deliciousness on our girls night earlier in the week where we sat around sipping the quintessential tastes of christmas and listening to david sedaris' santaland diaries. the most perfect of evenings indeed.

glögg (mulled wine)
'since i was a little girl, i always remember a pot of this richly coloured and deliciously pungent liquid simmering on our stove around Christmas-time. i've been lucky to have such a close life with my swedish background through travels, traditions, and loving relations, and this is one of many wintertime rituals i've brought with me into my adult life. the wonderful thing about Glögg is that you can make it your own. you can add the traditional raisins (I forgot mine at the store!), or almonds (i'm allergic), or you can give an extra kick to this mulled warm drink with as much (or as little)
rum/whiskey as you like!' - carina thiedeke

:: ingredients ::
peel of one orange
1 tbsp thinly julienned ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp cardamom pods or seeds
2 tsp whole cloves
1/2 cup rum
1 cup water
1 bottle of your favourite red wine (the deeper the flavour the better)
add some chopped up raisins if you enjoy a sweeter flavour wine, or leave out for a crisp, dry taste. either way will result in pure deliciousness.

:: directions ::
in a large saucepan or deep pot, add the orange peel and all the spices, including the ginger.
pour the rum in and simmer the mixture on low for about 5 minutes - you should start to smell the delicious flavours infusing the rum.
add a cup of water and simmer on low for a additional 30 minutes- be sure that you never let the mixture boil at any point or you'll burn off all the alcohol (unless you want virgin glögg! but then it wouldn't be authentic viking drink).
once everything is smelling nice and spicy pour in your bottle of wine, give it all a good stir, and let it simmer again for at least an hour.
once your entire home is smelling like christmas, you're ready to serve your warm glögg!
you can also let it cool and bottle it in clean jars or wine bottles to keep for a later party or a gift.
some people like to strain the spices from the glögg before serving or storing it, but i personally like it nice and complex, and tend to leave everything in for a day or two for some extra flavour.

family photo by images by bethany
more of the 12 days of baking recipes can be found HERE

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

12 days of baking || simple cinnamon rolls

cinnamon buns are a christmas morning tradition in my family. as we all trickled out of bed on december 25th, my mom would greet us with a heavenly waft of cinnamon and a big cup of tea to fuel us through present opening. so naturally, when steph asked if she could share her childhood cinnamon bun recipe, i was more than happy to oblige.

stephanie is an amazing cook. everything she touches is just so much more delicious than the same recipe made by someone else. her mom, janice (or 'nana j' as finn calls her) is also totally top notch in the kitchen (likely where steph got a bit of her magic from...) so without having actually tried these cinnamon rolls, i can wholeheartedly promise you that they will be divine! and the perfect addition to our christmas morning this year.

mumma j’s cinnamon rolls
makes 12 cinnamon rolls (but can easily be doubled)

'this recipe is not glamorous but is fast, easy and satisfying. when we were growing up, we had these cinnamon rolls almost every saturday morning during the winter.  for my mom who had 3 kids under 4 years old, they fit the bill - inexpensive ingredients that you always have on had, no messing with yeast ot waiting for dough to rise, 20 minutes to bake and only 2 bowls to clean... they never lasted long in our house. they are not really the ooey-gooey kind you might expect, but the crispy outer edges covered in butter is a whole other kind of yummy.  (or dunked into your hot chocolate, coffee or hot apple cider? seriously.)' - stephanie nigh

:: ingredients ::
- dough -
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter
1 cup milk, (approximately)

- cinnamon topping -
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp (or more) cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped raisins or currants (optional)

:: directions ::
preheat oven to 400°f and grease 12 large muffin tins
in large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
pour in milk, stirring lightly with fork, and adding a little more milk if needed to make dough soft. turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead gently 8 to 10 times. roll into 12x8 inch rectangle.

in bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.
drop 1 tsp into each of the 12 greased muffin cups. spread remaining mixture over dough rectangle. sprinkle raisins or currants over top (if using); roll up, jelly roll style, from long side.
cut into 12 equal slices and place in muffin cups.

put baking sheet on oven rack below muffin cups to catch any drips.
bake until golden brown and cinnamon filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes.
turn out immediately onto heatproof tray and serve warm.
for a little something extra, top with an easy creamcheese icing or a dollop of butter- you cant go wrong with these delicious rolls. 

steph and her mama, janice.

view more recipes from the 12 days of baking HERE

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

holiday gift guide - bestest friends

girlfriends can either be incredibly easy or very very hard to gift give to. always wanting whatever you find to be the perfect something that will make their heart swell and a smile appear on their face each time they think of you- kind of a tall order! but fret not, below are a few items that have my heart fluttering as of late. sure to please even the most difficult of gift receivers in your life. filling hearts and creating smiles for years to come.

one || sunday suppers - i adore a good cookbook. pawing them over and over until the pages start to tatter, admiring the photos, the beautiful stories and of course, the recipes! i have a soft spot for sunday dinners as that has always been a day my family gathers and eats a big, delicious meal together, so its no surprise that this cookbook is the top of my gift giving (and receiving) list this year. one that will surely be happily covered in food splatter in no time flat.

two || chilote house shoes - these slippers are made fair by women in chile under transparent eco-inclusive design-craft model. using only premium, renewable raw patigonia sheep wool and repurposed, upcycled salmon leather from commercial fisheries. a gift that will make your toes and heart feel warm.

three || astronomy print - a beautiful, large scale poster showing the sky and stars of the northern hemisphere. white walls everywhere are just begging for this print to be hung up on them.

four || 1000 flowers reglisse noire - perfume can be a bit of wild card when it comes to gift giving, but this scent is the most divine i have ever smelled. i typically avoid scented products all together, but if you are going to cheat once in a while, this is scent to do it with. organic naturals and biodegradable musks make a little touch of this spice, black licorice, cocoa, woods and musk scent complex, perfect, and suitable for men and women. (1000 flowers also has 100% natural fragrances - rose otto and narcotic flowers are both on my wish list this year)

five || state the label smock - im smitten over smocks lately. just the perfect piece to keep you feeling good as you tackle the cooking, child rearing, house tidying and grocery shopping. toss on a little lipstick and your favourite boots, and you effortlessly transition into an outfit worthy of coffee dates or an evening of drinks with your best pals.

for more holiday gift ideas, click HERE

Monday, November 17, 2014

12 days of baking || lemony lemon squares

michelle and i met several years ago through the power of instagram. at the time, she was pregnant with their second daughter and sharing lots of homesteading/ nesting ideas they were working on to prepare for their new addition. instantly, i knew we would be wonderful friends.

michelle is an EXCEPTIONAL cook. making everything from scratch (raising bees for honey, rendering her own lard, making butter...) and only using whole, organic ingredients (they have an incredible urban garden, and seriously, you have never seen pies like the pies michelle makes). she is a daily inspiration and also one of the kindest women i am lucky enough to call a friend.

today, i get to share her incredible lemon square recipe. there is very little in life that i love more than lemon squares, and this recipe offers the perfect compliment to the chocolate and butter filled desserts that traditionally make their way into our stomachs during the holidays. 

delightfully lemony lemon squares

:: ingredients ::
- crust -
1 cup organic, unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup icing/confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (cold, chopped into small pieces)

- filling -
3 large free range, organic eggs
1 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (approx 2-3 lemons)
1 1/2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (1-2 lemons)
3 tbsp organic, unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt

:: directions ::
line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper (makes removal so easy)
preheat oven to 350 degrees

- crust -
mix flour, icing/confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl.
add cold chopped butter and mix with your fingers until crumbly.
press mixture into prepared pan in an even layer. bake for 15 minutes and set aside.

- filling -
beat eggs with a whisk until super frothy. slowly add cane sugar until just combined.
add lemon juice and zest and mix well.
mix flour and salt together in a tiny bowl and sift or whisk into lemon mixture.
pour filling over the baked crust and bake for about 15 minutes until the top sets (it should have tiny bubbles on the surface and the edges should be slightly browned and pulling away from parchment paper.)
let cool for an hour or more before cutting, dust the top with confectioners sugar if desired.
remove by pulling the edges of the parchment paper and place onto a cutting board. cut into desired size- makes 12 rectangular bars or 16 smaller squares.

enjoy! xo

view more 12 days of baking recipes HERE

Friday, November 14, 2014

holiday gift guide - tricky husbands

jeff is notoriously difficult to gift-give to. he does however have an appreciation for classic, simple and practical items. below are a few things that might fit that criteria, and perhaps offer you a little inspiration should you too find yourself with a tricky partner to gift hunt for.

one || chemex drip coffee maker - we love coffee in our house, so any contraption that will help brew the perfect cup will forever be a welcome addition.

two || turkish bath sheets - these towels are the greatest! they dry quickly (so they never smell musky - perfect for humid climates like vancouver), they are slim and lightweight so they take up less space in your linen cupboard or swim bag, and they're large enough to be used as a blanket at the beach. win win win.

three || handmade leather wallet - if someone in your life is lugging around a gnarly faded black crusty wallet that they have had since grade 10, it might be nice to get them something beautiful to replace it. there are tons of options out there, but i especially appreciated the simplicity of these ones- and just a touch of uniqueness in the patterns.

four || shaving set - a beautiful handmade shaving mug, natural shaving cream, and a boar bristle brush should absolutely be part of every mans shaving routine. 

five || opinel trekking knife - knives are always a welcome gift- a great tool to have on hand, and something that is forever being lost and in need of replacement in our household. opinel blades are classic, beautoful, and the best quality around.

for more holiday gift guides, click HERE

Thursday, November 13, 2014

12 days of baking || cocktail crisps

we all have that friend who no matter what, just always knows about the coolest stuff before the rest of the world. that someone who somehow hears about the greatest restaurants, most delicious yet cooly obscure coffee shops, the hippest websites and all the greatest items to fill your living room and closet (a full season before anyone else.) and then they travel to other places and STILL manage to find all the coolest stuff there too. whats with that?

for me, that person is anna palmier. she is actually the coolest person i have ever known. her blog is incredible- a perfectly curated mix of dreamy travel photos, delicious food and drinks, and always packed with details on things i completely adore before i even know i adore them. i honestly don't know where i would find all my favourite cool things if it weren't for anna.

 AND shes just so happens to be an incredible and creative cook! case and point- these delicious looking savory cookie/cracker crunchy bits! YUM!!

cocktail crisps
from the best of bridge | yields about 3 dozen

:: ingredients ::
1 c. butter
1 250g continer of imperial chees
dash of salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. worcestershire sauce
11/2 c. flour
4 c. rice crispies

:: directions ::

preheat oven to 350
soften butter and cheese and cream together. Add salt, cayenne and worcestershire. Stir in flour and rice crispies. Mix well. Shape into balls and press down with a fork that has been dipped in cold water. You can also form into logs; chill and cut into slices. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. enjoy! xo

* a small note - this recipe doesn't double well.

above photo by my favourite, brittany staddon

view the rest of the 12 days of baking recipes HERE

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

blue sunshine

my beautiful and seriously talented best friend stephanie has recently opened an awesome little etsy shop! blue sunshine sells handmade, one of a kind, completely unique dream catchers. incorporating items like vintage lace, hand-died crochet pieces, yarn, wool, beads, feathers, and interesting and rare fabrics - everything comes together to create these stunning spiritual pieces.

she has a few beautiful ready-to-ship pieces currently listed in her shop, but she also loves to create special, totally custom dream catchers that will be sure to please your color and taste preferences perfectly.

lastly, from now until november 15, use the code 'THANKSFRIENDS' and receive 10% off your entire purchase! hooray for blue sunshine!!

follow blue sunshine:
etsy shop | facebook | instagram

holiday gift guide - non-traditional, alternative gift ideas

perhaps a touch contrary to what these gift guides would have you believe, i am a huge advocate of non-traditional gifts- presents that arent things. when push comes to shove, there is very little that we actually need, so try to think outside the box- picking a charity or cause to donate to on behalf of the ones we love most, offering a gift of service or time together, or hand-making something sentimental. if its tears of joy you want to see on christmas morning, these gifts are sure to get them flowing.

one || canada helps - a one stop shop for charitable giving in canada- search through thousands of registered charities and donate to multiple causes at the same time. with a mission to increase charitable giving by making it easier to donate online, canada helps is a nonprofit organization, so their fees are a fraction of the for-profit alternatives. pick a charity to donate to on behalf of someone, or purchase a gift certificate and let the recipient decide.

two || plan canada - gifts of hope - plan canadas gifts of hope is an ethical gift-giving program. unique gifts that bring with it hope and change to the lives of families and entire communities across the world. select from items like bed nets, fruit trees, baby chicks, goats, maternal health initiatives... the list is endless, with varied price points starting at just $10. you can definitely find something for everyone. (and a small side note: plan canada has no religious affiliation, which may or may not be important to you.)

three || kiva - loans that change lives - a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. kiva leverages the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, letting individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. you can purchase giftcards online for friends or family- they are then able to select a cause that's important to them, lend the funds, and overtime when the loan is paid back, reinvest in another cause.

four || gifts of time or experience - there is really nothing better than the gift of time. think pre-planned date nights, tickets to a play or movie, registration to a class or workshop, vouchers to go swimming/ skating/ skiing/ whatever. an offer to share a skill you have - maybe you know how knit, or bake bread, or fix cars or surf... whatever you can do, there is surely someone who would love to learn. or babysitting. parents LOVE offers to babysit.

five || handmade and sentimental - handmade items always make for beautiful gifts, something the recipient feels extra special receiving knowing you put so much time and effort into creating just for them (see a few past ideas here, here and here)- pinterest is also loaded with endless ideas so find a little inspiration and get crafting! a few simple and sentimental ideas i love:
  • a letter a month - promise to send a letter or postcard to someone special every month for one year. this is especially awesome for kids, but really, who doesnt love getting real mail?
  • a family / friend / coworker cookbook - a few years ago, the office i worked in all brought in our favourite recipes. we compiled them into an office cookbook and everyone received a copy.
  • christmas cards with a little something extra- send a packet of native wild flower or vegetable seeds with your handwritten holiday note. 
  • soup swap - gather a group of friends and each make your favourite soup recipe- divvy into jars and freeze- you will each take home a variety of hearty soups to fill your freezer for the cold winter months ahead. you could of course do this with baking or pretty much anything that strikes your fancy.
  • host a re-gift party. rather than rushing out to purchase more stuff that no one really cares about, get everyone on board and find something gift-worthy around your house that you no longer have use for. everyone brings something, and you take turns drawing numbers and picking the things you like most.
  • give away the last great book you read to someone with similar taste.
for more ideas on simplifying the holidays, practical tips for less stress and more joy, have a look at the centre for the new american dream's downloadable booklet. its an absolute favourite of mine, and is FULL of amazing ideas for thoughtful, environmentally and budget conscious, meaningful gifts. enjoy! xo 

for more holiday gift ideas, click HERE

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

12 days of baking || sweet + spicy mixed nuts

nuts are always a favourite snack of mine, and around the holidays they are extra great as they don''t carry with them the same guilt factor that cookies and other festive treats tend to.

this sweet and spicy mixed nut recipe fancy's up the most basic of nuts- adding just a little hit of intense flavour that we all crave when indulging over the holidays (but still better for you than that cookie.) simple to whip up, they look extra beautiful perched on a side table in your living room in that glass dish your grandma gave you that doesn't get used as often as you might like.

sweet + spicy mixed nuts

:: ingredients ::
1 large egg white
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt + more to garnish
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3 cups unsalted mixed nuts
(i used almonds because we had them in the cupboard, but feel free to use whatever you have/like)

:: directions ::
heat your oven to 325 degrees
line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil
in a large bowl, whisk together egg white, sugar, salt, and all the spices
add the nuts and toss to coat
spread nuts out onto the baking sheet and arrange in an even layer
bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until nuts are dry, approximately 30-40 minutes
transfer to a clean sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle with an extra few grinds of sea salt and let cool
once cooled, display nuts in your favourite pretty bowl, and enjoy!

view the rest of the 12 days of baking recipes HERE

Monday, November 10, 2014

holiday gift guide - argh! teenagers!

if we are being totally honest, i myself would love anything on this list. i don't know if that makes me completely out of touch or super hip, but i'm banking on hip. the older children in our lives can often be the trickiest to shop for, but hopefully something on this list will result in a half smile. maybe even a hug?! i'm probably pushing my luck today.

one || vans x star wars- yoda aloha sk8-hi - these shoes are the greatest! classic style made new with this awesome star wars hawaiian inspired print. everyone needs a pair of these.

two || crosley portable turntable - when i was teenager, endless saturdays were spent scouring the citys junk shops praying to find a record player with the needle still intact. nowadays, $80 and an amazon account will have this beautiful machine delivered to your front door in a matter of days. the magic of technology.

three || fjall raven kanken backpack - these backpacks have been around for decades, and are build to last a lifetime. sure to impress even the coolest of teens on your christmas list (and get a ton of use in the process.)

four || in bloom book collection - rifle paper co. has re-illustrated some of the most beautiful covers to these classic books -  anne of green gables, a little princess, heidi and little women. the perfect addition to any book collection, young or old alike.

five || ebbets field flannels ball caps - vintage, authentic, handmade, limited edition - all buzz words we love to hear. these ball caps have it all and then some- lovingly researched, made in american and hand-crafted using vintage wool and felt.

for more holiday gift ideas, click HERE

Friday, November 7, 2014

holiday gift guide - loved little children

if you are anything like us, you try with all your might to avoid big box stores, junky plastic toys, and giant bags of waste heading to the landfill on christmas morning. it can be tricky with younger children as they begin to learn the power of marketing, but a few thoughtful and carefully selected items can have a lasting impact as they grow. balance and moderation- my motto for this coming holiday season. i also like to simplify by following this basic guideline - 'something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.' 

one || crochet bear hood - this sweet little hood will delight kids and parents alike. simple, easy to wear, and warm, perfect for playing in fall leaves or throwing snowballs in the yard. or if you have a knitter in the family, perhaps a PDF version of the pattern would make a nice stocking stuffer (and a not so subtle hint)?

two || schyling hohner toy accordion - finn received this accordion a few years ago for his birthday, and ever since it has been a favourite of his and every other child (and a few adults) that come over to play. sounds, looks and feels like the real thing, encouraging your little ones love of music for years to come.

three || twig creative knotical origami nesting boat - a modern take on a classic, traditional origami dates back to the 6th century and was the inspiration for this toy. each boat is carved from a single block of eco-friendly cork, while the removable inner boat is crafted from solid walnut. 

four || mix it up by herve tullet - an interactive journey all within the printed page. follow the artist's simple instructions, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader's imagination. an extraordinary book for kids of all ages.

five || gifts of experience - these are our favourite gifts to give and receive- think passes to the zoo, aquarium, science centre or other local attractions, a gift certificate for an arts and crafts class (if you are in vancouver, check out collage collage, arts umbrella or 4 cats), tickets to a play, concert or movie, or something fun like swimming, dance, rock climbing or gymnastics lessons. whatever your little one is into, there is most likely a class, lesson or drop-in they can take for it. (thank you to my lovely friend bree for the image of her son at the science centre in this photo) 

for more holiday gift ideas, click HERE

Thursday, November 6, 2014

12 days of baking || whipped shortbread

i feel like shortbread cookies and the holidays go hand in hand. everyone makes them, everyone has a recipe for them, and often, they are skipped over for the more talked about treats on the christmas dessert table. (cough cough, salted butter caramels.)

but this recipe, another of my grandmas, is so simple, but truly unlike anything you have tasted before. the secret is two things. first- the butter to dry ingredient ratio. given that literally 1/3 of these cookies is butter, they melt on your tongue with the most magical of textures. the second is air (or the whipping). you probably do not want to attempt to tackle these cookies without the aid of some sort of an electric mixer. 10 minutes in the mix master or electric hand mixer is the key to getting these light-as-air cookies the holiday chatter they deserve.

whipped shortbread
:: ingredients ::
1 lb butter, softened
2 cup icing sugar
3 cups flour
a handful of cut up glace cherries (or other garnish) for topping (see note below)

:: directions ::
preheat oven to 300 degrees
mix butter and icing sugar together until well blended, around 3 minutes
add flour and continue mixing on medium speed for 10 minutes
scoop batter onto parchment lined baking sheets
top with 1/4 sliced glace cherries (or other desired garnish) and bake for 18-23 minutes, or until edges of cookie are just started to turn golden

a note about garnishes: obviously the cherries in their totally natural green or red is a classic topping for shortbread. i will admit that i do love the sweetness the cherries provide in contrast to the buttery flavor of the cookies themselves. i do however like to mix up what i use for garnish- candied pecans, crushed candy canes, or silver decorative balls (like i have used here because i had them in my baking cupboard)- anything you can think up will likely pair well with these cookies.

these cookies freeze (and thaw) exceptionally well. just take out of the freezer an hour before gusts arrive, and the cookies will taste like the day you baked them. 

enjoy xo

view the rest of the 12 days of baking recipes HERE

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

holiday gift guide - wee babes

babies! hooray for babies! i wanted to share a few of my favourite gifts to give (and receive) for the wee babes in our lives. when gifting to sweet new humans, i try to select unique and quality-crafted pieces that parents might not indulge on themselves. handmade is great. beautiful items that will be around forever or passed on from one child to the next are even better. 

one || peppa bonding doll - this was the very first thing i bought for finn, and to this day, it remains one of his favourites. filled with sheeps wool which is known to absorb scents easily, this bunny will take on comforting scents of home, of its parents, or things that are familiar for baby.

two || redcreek handmade - oh goodness- if we ever have another baby, this is literally the only thing i would ask for. these clothes are so beautiful- gender neutral silhouettes, fabrics that are natural, functional and durable, and classic pieces that will easily pass down from child to child to child. all handmade in squamish, BC

three || hand and cloth kantha blankets - this traditional two-sided blanket is made from reclaimed sari cloth by artisans in bangladesh. by working with the local community, hand and cloth is helping to provide dignified work, ensuring the women are compensated fairly, and allowing them to send their children to school. 

four || north country folkwear - i can not get enough of this brand new etsy shop the incredible julie letowski just opened. beautiful hand knit hats and crowns (and some sweet little chickens) just waiting to be adorned with excitement. swoon! lovingly handmade on her homestead in maine.

five || padraig cottage slippers - the perfect gift for babes of all ages (they make adult sizes too). lovingly knit in small batches in north vancouver, these slippers are lined with hand spun raw wool making them extra cozy on even the coldest of winter nights.

for more holiday gift ideas, click HERE

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

12 days of baking || ginger whoopie pies with cream cheese icing

becky zimmer is my hero. strong beyond words (she once sat for something like 14 hours straight being tattooed), she is so brave (she works as a probation officer, and previous to that, worked in a young offenders correction facility. enough said.) she effortlessly juggles work, motherhood, marriage, friendship, the most beautiful home, looking immaculate ALL the damn time, and - she still found time (somehow?) to share this incredible cookie recipe. collective 'sigh' let out by women all over the world. i know.

baking is becky's love language. one of the first times we ever hung out, she sent me home with containers full of turtle brownies, and a variety of no less than three types of cookies. and that has never stopped. i have yet to show up at beckys house for a coffee / visit  / a random hello and NOT had her fill me to the brim with the most delicious baked goods ever made- one of the many reasons we have remained the bestest of friends all these years, i'm sure ;)  so believe me when i say we are in for a serious treat today. like eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head-in-complete-ecstasy-as-you-take-that-first-bite good.

ginger whoopie pies with cream cheese icing
from the kitchen of becky zimmer

:: ingredients ::
3/4 cups salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar (+1/2 cup to garnish)
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 pkg (8 oz) of cream cheese, softened
1/2 c butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 - 3 cups icing sugar

:: directions ::
using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
add the molasses, vanilla and egg and beat until incorporated.
in a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. add to the butter mixture and mix until well combined.
chill batter in a covered container for about 60 minutes or until firm.
preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
line baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick silicone baking mat.
once the dough has chilled, roll into 1 inch balls and then roll in white sugar to garnish.
flatten balls slightly using the bottom of a glass (your hand or a fork also works just fine).
bake cookies for 10 -11 minutes (do not over bake, you want a soft, chewy cookie!)
cool completely on a wire rack.

using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until light and fluffy.
add the icing sugar gradually, beating after each addition until well blended.
place cream cheese filling in a pastry bag and pipe on the flat side of half the cookie (a good ol' knife works just as good).
place remaining cookies on top, and enjoy!


follow becky (and that beautiful little smoosh of hers) over on instagram
family photo by paisley photography.

view the rest of the 12 days of baking recipes HERE

Monday, November 3, 2014

holiday gift guide - the coolest couples you know

for me, november is all about planning. getting as much done now so you can really enjoy the visiting, celebrating, family time and days off that december brings with it. this year, i have complied a series of gift guides. ideas and inspiration for even the trickiest of people on your holiday list. hopefully offering a little something for everyone.

first up- the coolest couples you know...

gifts for couples can be tricky- you want to appeal to both parties without it looking like a gift for your bestie with their partners name attached. below are a few items that are beautiful and appeal to all types of humans, guaranteed to get a couple of smiles from your favourite twosomes.

one || bind & fold wabi sabi pillow slips - handmade of the softest linen, hand-dyed using natural pigments, and all kinds of beautiful, these pillow cases will add just a touch of perfection to everybody's existing bedroom landscape.

two || 'it's ok' banner - we could all use a reaffirming message from time to time, and this banner fills that need, effortlessly and stylishly. 

three || beta 5 chocolate union membership - beta 5 chocolate is the top of the chocolate food chain- unlike anything you have likely tried before. give the gift that keeps on giving after the holiday hustle and bustle has died down- memberships come in 3, 6, or 12 month increments, and are delivered right to your front door (all over canada).

four || knock knock linen tablecloth - i adore linen lately. the natural wrinkle, cool-toned colours, and ease of care. this tablecloth is all of those things, and would look beautiful underneath your favourite traditional family breakfast christmas morning. and most other meals all year long.

five || linda mccartney - life in photographs - hands down one of my most favourite phototgraphy books- full of stunning, candid and smile-inducing photographs, this book is the kind that is kept out on coffee tables for years to come.  

for more holiday gift ideas, click HERE

Saturday, November 1, 2014

12 days of baking || salted butter caramels

november 1st - a day perfect for tucking away the skeletons, pumpkins and bats that have filled the corners of our homes, and turn our attention to the most wonderful time of the year!

over the next several weeks, i will be sharing a few of my favourite recipes in a series called '12 days of baking', delicious and nostalgic treats you can make in advance, pile up in your freezer, and pull out whenever friends pop by. i have recruited a few of my wonderful friends to help along the way, sharing some of their favourite family recipes.

in the end, we will have a collection of 12 of the absolute best recipes around. full of love, happy memories, and family traditions.

to start things off, i wanted to share my grandmas recipe for salted butter caramels. this recipe was recently shared over on peak and harbours blog (remember carina and bree from the sisterhood?)

You can CLICK HERE to view this recipe on peaks and harbours, or keep scrolling to the bottom of this post...

When I was little, my grandmother had a list of recipes that were reserved specifically for Christmastime. There were the usual holiday staples that made an annual appearance – shortbread, almond roca, popcorn balls, but the undisputed scene-stealer in our family was, without a doubt, her butter caramels.

I remember anticipating that first taste months before the snow started to fall. And finally, when that Sunday dinner came around and my Grandma placed her Tupperware containers of baking on the counter, I remember filling my pockets with more than my stomach could possible handle. Unwrapping and shoving 3 or 4 in my mouth at a time, knowing that after that night, it could well be another 12 months before I got my beloved caramel fix again.

A few years ago, my Grandma happily shared her caramel recipe with me. It’s a simple mixture of a few basic ingredients, but boiled patiently to the perfect temperature, they become the sweet treat of my fondest childhood memories. I have adapted her recipe ever so slightly- using honey instead of corn syrup and adding coarse sea salt to compliment the sweetness in the most perfect of ways. The sea salt is of course optional and with or without, you will be left with a delicious treat.

Note: It is definitely best to use a candy thermometer when making these caramels. There are ways around it if you don’t have one (see instructions here), but the results wont be as consistent, and if baking or candy making are something you enjoy, it’s definitely worth the $10 investment. 

Holly Sherwood’s Salted Butter Caramel
Yields approximate 40 pieces

:: ingredients ::

¾ cups sugar
2 tbsp water
5 tbsp milk or heavy cream (the higher the fat content, the better)
5 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
coarse sea salt (as needed)

:: directions ::

Prep two small bread loaf pans by lining with parchment paper.
* If you don’t have loaf pans, you can use something similar in size – a square casserole dish or cake pan should do the trick.

In a heavy pot, mix together about half the sugar and two tbsp of water over medium high heat, stir mixture constantly until well dissolved and the mixture starts to turn a beautiful amber/golden colour- approximately 4-7 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat and add the remaining sugar, milk, honey, and butter. At this point, it will likely solidify and look like you did something wrong but don’t fret! That’s totally normal! Once it heats up again it will all start to melt back together.

Return to heat, add your candy thermometer and continue stirring pretty much constantly until it reaches just a little harder than the ‘soft ball’ reading on your thermometer (around 240 degrees).

Pour mixture into prepared loaf pans, trying to divide evenly. Avoid scrapping the bottom of the pot, as the caramel will be harder (and darker) there, adding crunchy bits to these otherwise soft caramels. Sprinkle with a generous amount of course sea salt and allow to cool for about an hour

Once cooled, remove from pan onto a cutting board. With a large, sharp knife, cut down the middle lengthwise, and then into small bite sized pieces, about ½- ¾ “ think.

Cut parchment paper into squares, and individually wrap caramels.

Enjoy xo

view the rest of the 12 days of baking recipes HERE