Sunday, November 16, 2014

Coconut Chocolate Scones

It's snowing as I write this. It's not a blizzard, and it's not staying on the ground, but it is snowing. I'm partially excited because the air is fresh and it's snowing ever so lightly that it's more calming than chaotic white mess. But then again, it's snow, it's the beginning of 6 months of winter and two pairs of pants. At least we have baked goods to get us through. For some reason I think of scones as winter food. They're dense, sweet and need a cup of tea - all things I crave in a snack during the colder months. These scones are moist and slightly chocolatey and the perfect accompaniment to my day cozied up with a blanket and a book. 

Adapted from Hungry Girl

2 cups all-purpose white flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 shredded coconut, toasted
1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted

Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, mix in the butter until the mixture is similar to sand, the butter being no larger than pea sized.
Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips and make a well in the centre. Pour the cream and vanilla into the well and gently combine, until a dough begins to form. On a floured surface, knead the dough (about 10 times) until the dough is well formed. Pat the dough into a large circle, approximately 1 1/2 inches thick - or your desired thickness. Cut into 8 large triangles and place on the baking sheet. Brush scones with milk and lightly dust with coconut. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What I'm Into: October 2014

I dare say fall is coming to a close. I saw my first snowfall this past weekend and did not welcome it with open arms! I'm going to squeeze ever last bit of fall goodness I can from this season. Though, now that Halloween is over everyone is moving straight to Christmas. No stops along the way! Red cups, christmas decor, peppermint, gingerbread and all the other christmas flavours are here. Me, I am still in fall, and October was a great month this season. This is what I've been up to:

Books I've Read

The Glass Castle By Jeannette Walls
Amazing book. It's a beautiful memoir, so beautiful in fact that it is easy to forget how sad it is. The Glass Castle follows Jeannette Walls as she grows up in a family of constant movers, is unsure of when they'll eat next, but mostly full of adventurous, creative, children motivated to change the direction of their path. Read this book right now.

Nightmares by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Two things I love: Children's books and Jason Segel - so when my boyfriend heard of Segel's first attempt as an author, he sent it my way! This is a great Halloween book for young readers. It's the story of Charlie and his friends as they face their nightmares and try to save their city. Full of imagination, creativity, and a little bit of terror - it was a great read for this time of year.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Sorry to say I am not a fan! I love reading about hilarious women and the stories about how they got to where they are - but I gotta say, Lena Dunham's memoir was so boring. It's supposed to be filled with her life lessons, but I found it difficult to relate to her privileged upbringing, and her lessons weren't all that profound, or wise, or even funny. I mostly found myself annoyed at her ramblings - pages of old food diaries, way detailed sex life - and wasn't inspired by her drive to make it in showbiz (re: Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler). A pass on this one!

Movies I've Watched

Gone Girl
This was a great adaptation of the book - as it should be since the author Gillian Flynn also wrote the screenplay. Everything was spot on and I absolutely loved the casting - especially Rosamund Pike, she was fantastic. The only trouble I had though, was since I read the book I knew exactly what was coming. I wasn't caught up in the suspense or drama because I knew exactly what was going to happen. But! That's not the movie's fault. If you haven't already you should go see this.

This Is Where I Leave You
I was excited for this movie when I first heard of it at TIFF. I'm sorry to say that it wasn't great. There was just way too much happening! Too many stories, new events and dramas introduced, and weird humor - it seemed like it was trying too hard. Jason Bateman was his usual annoyed, problem solver self and I'm over it.

TV Shows I've Marathoned

Gilmore Girls
It was 11:59pm on September 30th, and I was anxiously waiting for the clock to strike 12 so I could watch my favourite mother-daughter duo, in my favourite town, live their hilarious lives, until the end of time. Gilmore Girls is now on Netflix and it's the best and I have been watching it nonstop. I watch it with breakfast, before bed, and have it on in the background when I'm getting ready for the day - and right now as I write this. I seriously love this show. Team Jess.

Fun Stuff I've Done

Say hello to the partnerships coordinator at Jayu! We have a lot of great events coming up such as our second speaker series event on November 27th and also our 3rd annual Human Rights Film Festival from December 5-7 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox! Our programme was recently released and tickets go on sale November 17 so you should definitely check it out.

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.