Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Homemade Twix Bars

Halloween is almost here! I love Halloween. I love making a costume and parading around in it for all to see,  but what I love most about Halloween, is fun sized candy bars. They're delicious and yet so dangerous. I've somehow managed to resist buying a box of candy and thus thankfully avoided the dreaded stomach ache after chowing down on forty bars of fun. This year I decided to make a homemade version of a favourite candy bar, Twix! These classic treats offer the buttery, cookie crunch of shortbread, topped with creamy caramel, all dipped in smooth, milky chocolate. You could make these into normal sized bars, but fun sized is obviously more exciting. Are you excited? You should be excited.

Adapted from Whisked and A Beautiful Mess

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of fine sea salt

350g of soft caramels
1 1/2 tablespoons cream

1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a square 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, flour and salt until crumbly. Evenly press the crumbly mixture into the bottom of the pan until firm. Prick slightly with a fork to avoid air bubbles and bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.

While the cookie base is baking, melt the soft caramels and cream together in a sauce pan on medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. When the cookie is baked, allow to cool for 5 minutes and then pour the caramel on top. Spread it as evenly as possible and allow to sit until hardened. You may put it in the freezer to quicken the process.

When the caramel is set, remove the cookie from the pan and slice into bars of your desired length. Place the bars in the freezer. Melt together the semi sweet chocolate chips and vegetable oil, over 30 second intervals in the microwave. Remove the bars from the freezer and dip into the chocolate, ensuring they are fully coated. Allow the chocolate to set - again you may put in the freezer to speed up the process. Your last step is to overindulge and eat them all in one sitting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oatmeal Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

After a huge berry haul from picking this summer, we have an abundance of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries in the freezer waiting to be baked into deliciousness. Uninspired by the typical muffin and fruit crisp recipes. I was looking for something completely different to incorporate our frozen berries into. Finding this recipe on Pinterest was a dream come true! These cookies are close to a muffin top (Seinfeld dreams coming true - top of the muffin to ya...anyone?) but the best part is the burst of blueberry! If you're not a fan of blueberry I'm positive a raspberry dark chocolate combination would be just as good. These cookies are best served day of, still warm. 

Adapted from Lady and Pups

1/2 cup of unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat your oven to 365 F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan on medium heat brown the butter (click here for tips) and then allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Once cooled, whisk in the white and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sea salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Gradually stir into the butter mixture. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in the oats and chocolate chips. Gently fold in the frozen blueberries, until combined, ensuring not to squish many berries in the process. Round 1 tbsp of the dough into a ball, place onto your prepared baking sheet and lightly press down. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday. There are no obligations to do anything but relax, enjoy the outdoors, and eat till your heart's content. I was sure to make some pies to enjoy (both pumpkin and pecan) and had more than my share of mashed potatoes. Our thanksgiving has been a bit busier than usual but I still made sure I took the time to read a good book, spend time with family and friends, and reflect over all the things I have to be grateful for.

While we're counting our blessings, I thought it'd be a nice idea to share a few of my favourite organizations, and offer a chance for giving to those in need. 

Liberty in North Korea is a non-profit organization  that aims to change the narrative away from the politics and towards the people of North Korea. They provide rescuing and resettlement services for North Korean refugees so they may reach freedom. 

FoodShare is a non-profit organization based in Toronto that works with communities and schools to provide food education and healthy food opportunities. Their programs include community farm shares, school farming programs, cooking classes, and so much more.  

Femme International is one of the only non-profit organizations working in feminine hygiene education.  They are dedicated to educating and empowering all females so that the restrictions and stigmas associated with menstruation may be lifted. 

There are so many worthy causes in the world to which we can donate our time and money, these are the organizations that are close to my heart, but I encourage you to find a cause you're passionate about and support them anyway you can! 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What I'm Into: September 2014

Okay so I'm a bit late. Yes we're a week into October but ya know what, I run things around here and I say that's okay. September was another crazy month! I've been volunteering, jet setting to San Francisco, applying to jobs like a mad woman, and somehow I've managed to squeeze in lots of books and movies. This is what I've been up to this month:

Books I've Read:

The Enchanted by Rene Denfield - I'm not sure about this book.  It follows the life of a prisoner on death row,  and the various characters he interacts with. At the start it seemed like it could be something I would enjoy since it's all dark and twisty. But the further I read the more I couldn't wait to be done with it.

Quiet by Susan Cain - I've been reading this book off and on for awhile,  when my brain needed to work a bit harder and when I was in the mood for learning. I finished it finally a couple weekends ago and really enjoyed it. It gave me great insight not only to understanding my introverted self, but also to my relationships with others.

Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling- I'm not sure why I picked this book. I'm not really a fan of the Office, didn't like the Mindy Project, and wasn't familiar with any of Mindy Kaling's other works. That being said, it was a great weekend read. Definitely not as good as Tina's Bossypants (what could be though?) but still pretty funny none the less.

Movies I've Seen:

The Skeleton Twins - I really enjoyed this movie. It's about a pair of estranged twins who reunite after their lives don't go so great. The brother and sister work together to not only fix their lives apart, but also their relationship together. This movie is real and believable with the perfect amount of humour.

The Giver - This is a bad movie. Well, if you liked the book it's a bad movie. The Giver was given the Hollywood treatment and about a third into the movie it went on it's own path, separate from the story told in the novel. The acting wasn't very good, the romance (wait what? yes, I know) was weird, and Taylor Swift was unnecessary.

The Trip - This was my boyfriend's choice one night on Netflix. I hadn't heard of it but wasn't in the mood to make decisions so I agreed. It is the most ridiculous movie. It follows two British comedians on a foodie trip throughout the U.K., and it was actually pretty great. Thankfully, there is a sequel recently out in theatres, set in Italy.

Fun Stuff I Did:

TIFF - I've been attending the Toronto International Film Festival for nearly ten years! It's one of my favourite times of year. There is so much energy in the city, and so many movies to be seen, most that you wouldn't have the chance to watch otherwise. This year I decided to switch things up and volunteer. It was a great chance to meet people just as excited about the festival, learn about what goes on behind the scenes, and sneak in the odd film. Highlights of the festival this year include shaking Bill Murray's hand in the pouring rain, rushing my first movie, and sitting in on a screening of the Belgian movie Cub (so good!). Of course, it wouldn't be TIFF if I didn't go to my favourite program, Short Cuts Canada - so many good films from some pretty awesome filmmakers.

The Library - Ohhh I bet you thought this was some cool, hip bar or restaurant that I was going to rave about. HA! Joke's on you. It's the actual library. I don't know why I haven't been making use of the library all these years (actually that's a lie, I do, I was living in fear of my high school overdue fines). The library is just the best - you can borrow books, like ten books, for FREE. Loving the library.

LiNK - The organization I worked with this summer has started a new campaign and fundraising goal.  I'm aiming to raise enough funds to help at least one North Korean refugee reach freedom and gain the resettlement support they need - learn more by clicking right HERE