Last minute Christmas dessert ideas

Hey everyone,

My apologies for not posting last week. I had promised myself that I would never miss a post but it just wasn’t in the cards last week. For those who follow me on Instagram (lovelylife.xo), you already know that Julien and I were away in Banff for four nights last week, so the beginning of the week was spent preparing for our trip. i.e. wrapping things up at work, getting things in order at home, and ensuring that the kids were packed for their time spent with their grandparents. The good news is that I plan on dedicating next week’s post to our time spent in Banff. It should be a fun post so please do check it out.

Missing five days before Christmas meant that I had to get most of my baking, shopping and meal planning done ahead of time which I sort of managed to do…sort of lol 😉 Although I had done most of my baking, I still had a couple fun and easy dessert recipes to make. My son and I managed to make them last night, just in time for their last day at daycare. For those of you who are late with your holiday baking or simply looking for a quick and easy recipe to make before Christmas, I highly recommend trying these out.

First up is a recipe for bark. I don’t know about you, but I always thought that bark would be difficult to make. The truth is is that it’s one of the easiest recipes to make.

White Chocolate and Cranberry Bark
Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup of pistachios, shelled

Method:

  1. Put your chopped white chocolate in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 30 seconds at a time. After 30 seconds, stir chocolate and repeat until fully melted.
  2. Once melted, stir in your dried cranberries and shelled pistachios. (note: feel free to add whichever  nuts or dried fruits that you like).
  3. Pour mixture onto foil-lined (or Silpat lined) baking sheet and spread to desired thickness.
  4. Freeze until solid and then break into pieces.
  5. Store in an airtight container and freeze.

Martha Stewart’s Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Method:

1. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture and beat until combined.

2. Divide the dough in half and flatten into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and freeze ( or refrigerate) until firm, at least 20 minutes.

3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line your baking sheet with a Silpat or aluminum foil. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out to desired thickness between two sheets of floured parchment paper. Dust dough with flour as needed. Cut shapes with cookie cutters and transfer to a prepared baking sheet. (If dough gets soft, chill for 10 minutes).

4. Bake, rotating halfway through until edges are golden (approx.10 to 18 minutes) depending on their size. Cool completely on wire racks.

5. For the icing, sift icing sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in 4 tbs’s of milk until icing is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If too thin, whisk in more sugar; if too thick, add more milk.

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6. If you want to make coloured icing, separate icing into a few bowls and add desired food colouring to each and mix.

7. Ice cookies and decorate as you like using sprinkles or candies.

As previously mentioned, whether I’m making cookies, brownies or bark, I like to freeze them and take one out at a time when I’m craving something sweet.

Christmas is only a few days away now so I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas with your friends and families. To those who have been following my blog regularly, I thank you for all of your support during the last 6 months and I hope that you continue to check out my weekly posts. Please feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what you like to see on the blog, as I would like to focus on topics that interest you.

Merry Christmas!!!

Ash

 

 

 

The best ever chocolate chip cookies!

Hey fellow chocolate and cookie lovers!

Do you have a favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe? Either way, you HAVE to try this recipe out! I wish I could say that I came up with it myself but I didn’t 😉 I owe a big thank you to Martha Stewart for this one. Like most of her baked goods, this one is insanely good.

I’ve been making this recipe for 7 years now and, even though I am GF, I will continue to make them for my family since they’re their favourite. I have challenged myself though to try to find a GF alternative. It hasn’t happened yet but if and when it does, I will make sure to share it with you.

So here’s my secret/not so secret recipe for Martha Stewart’s soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies:

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup brown sugar…I know, it’s a lot. I usually use 3/4cup of brown sugar max but it’s up to you and how sweet you like your cookies
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips (although I love chocolate, I find 2 cups a little much so I usually add a little over one cup)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda and set aside
  3. In a bowl with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars
  4. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy
  5. Reduce speed to low, add the salt, vanilla, and eggs
  6. Beat until well mixed (about one minute)
  7. Add flour mixture, mix until just combined
  8. Make tbs size balls of dough and place them on your baking sheets

 

9. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges (approx 8-10 minutes)

 

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*Note: this recipe makes approx. 3 dozen cookies.

Of course, my little helper helped baked these sweet treats. We happened to make them last Sunday after the snowfall so we, of course, made hot chocolate and enjoyed it while the cookies were cooking in the oven.

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Hope you guys enjoy this recipe. If you try it out, please let me know what you think and if you have any favourite recipes, especially GF ones, I would love to know about them so please leave a comment or msg me.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

xo

 

Baby girl’s 1st Birthday

This weekend we celebrated our daughters first birthday. Like most moms, I can’t believe that a year has already gone by. It feels like yesterday that we brought her home and were trying to navigate our new life as a family of four. Julien, we made it 😉 thank you for being the incredible Papa and husband that you are. Below, is a picture of her shortly after she was born.

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Unlike our son’s first birthday, we decided to have a small get together with just our family. We will throw her a bigger bash for her second birthday.

We celebrated at my in-laws home on the river. It is such a fun place for both ourselves and the kids. They have a beautiful view of the river and the kids love spending hours playing in the water and hunting for frogs. It’s also a playground for adults as they have a hot tub, hammocks, beautiful gardens, decks and Adirondack chairs.

Lucky for us, my sister flew home the morning of the party, from out West, to spend a couple of weeks with mom and the family. As you can imagine, the kids were beyond excited to see her especially our son who really misses her. We are a super close family and she used to stop by our place 3-4 times a week before she moved when he was one and a half years old. He adores and misses her so much when she is gone so it was so nice to have her with us to celebrate her niece.

My parents and sister arrived for our daughter’s party at noon. It was an emotional reunion as we hadn’t seen my sister since mom’s debulking surgery in February. Being apart has always felt wrong so it was so nice to just have her home. This time it is particularly wonderful since mom is feeling more and more like herself and has the next 3 months chemo free.

We had an awesome time celebrating baby girl. We dressed her up in an adorable dress I found at the Children’s place for $10 (parent win ;)). She also wore some adorable black shoes, given to her by our friends, and a necklace that was gifted to her by family friends when she was born.

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Once everyone had arrived, we sipped on some celebratory cocktails, rose bubbly of course, cheersed to having survived the last year with two kids 😉 and then opened gifts. The kids both nap in the afternoons so we decided to do presents and cake before they went down. To those moms out there who had a son first and daughter second, I am sure you’ll understand this next piece. Prior to her birthday, our daughter didn’t really have any girly toys. She had a few stuffed toys and books but not much else. We have an abundance of toys, most of which our son never plays with so there wasn’t really a need to buy any for our daughter. Until now…She is no longer a little baby anymore so when people asked what they could buy her we practically begged them to buy something girly lol Something other than trucks. All she knows are trucks (vroom vroom) and cars. She absolutely loves them but a girl has to have some variety, right?! And variety is what she got. She was spoiled with the cutest girly toys.

  • Moonana (my mom) bought her a black doll which came with her own bassinet, bottle, sippy cup, change of clothes and purse. SO cute;
  • Papa G bought her a leap frog dancing mat which I know she will love since she already moves to any and all beats she hears;
  • Auntie bought her a high chair so that baby girl can feed her black doll;
  • And Mimi and Papi bought her a lovely doll which came with a beautiful pink dress, a change of clothes and a tea pot set that our daughter fell in love with while we were in Florida in May.

Overall, our baby girl was truly spoiled. A big thank you to all of our loved ones for the beautiful gifts. She loves them.

Next was cake. I don’t think I have shared this with you guys yet but my father-in-law makes the worlds best cakes. OMG. They not only taste fabulous but they are always beautifully decorated. He made baby girl a pink and white three tiered almond flavoured cake decorated with whipped cream and pink, white and silver decorations. It couldn’t have been more perfect. I’m super girly as well so I was very excited by it and the perfect shade of pink that he achieved.

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The birthday girl also agreed that the cake was a complete success. It was evident as soon as she dove into it with big eyes and without hesitation. Once she tasted her first bite there was no going back. She grabbed her slice with both hands and went for it lol. Can’t blame her though. It was her first taste of cake and it was one of Papi’s so we knew she would love it.

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After two hours of playing, opening gifts and filling up on sugar the kids we ready for nap time. They both went down without hesitation and gave the rest of us a couple of hours to enjoy the property and river. My mom, sister and I took this opportunity to head out for a kayak ride. This mother daughter time was greatly appreciated and so much fun. We don’t get to spend time just the three of us so it was nice to head out on the water, laugh and of course race back since we all have a competitive edge.

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The kids woke up shortly after we returned so I took my son out for a swim in the river. It was just what we needed after an hour of kayaking and following a cozy nap. The water wasn’t too cold and the air was so hot so there was no shock effect when we got out. By this time it was 5pm so we said goodbye to my parents and sister, packed up our things and left my in-laws in time for dinner and bedtime at our place.

I ended this weekend exploding with gratitude. I am thankful for our beautiful and healthy kids and for our family and for being able to share these moments with them. Also grateful that my mom is feeling like herself again and that we are having so much fun together!

How did you celebrate your son or daughters first birthday?

Talk soon,

Ash xo

 

Canada 150 cupcakes

Today was another rainy day so my son and I decided to make some dessert for Canada day. We will be spending the long weekend at my in-laws place, on the river, and are responsible for preparing one lunch and dessert. I have a pretty good idea of what we will be preparing for the main course but I wasn’t sure what we were going to serve for dessert, until today! After looking online and through my recipe books, for inspiration, we’ve decided to make red velvet cupcakes with vanilla icing decorated with red coloured chocolate balls. Yum!!! I found the red coloured chocolate balls, at Independent, and knew that our son would love them. Of course, when he saw them, he needed to taste test them immediately before using them. I think he ate ten of them before we actually used them lol You know how it is ;).

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At first thought, red velvet cupcakes seemed like a great idea. I didn’t really think about the mess the red food colouring could make with a toddler but quickly realized how messy things could get lol It was totally ok though and worth it. I mixed most of the ingredients myself, while he watched. He was pretty impressed with the colour of the cupcake batter and it took everything to keep his little toddler paws from going inside the mixer.

This was our first time making this recipe and it is a keeper. We used Sally’s baking addiction’s red velvet cupcakes. Even though I only used 2.5 tbs of red food colouring, rather than the 3.5 it required, the colour still turned out beautifully. Once things were mixed, my son licked the spatula dry. His face, arms, and clothes were covered in batter but he loved it. Getting messy is part of the fun. He helped me pour the batter into the cupcakes papers and here they are below, in all of their red glory, before we put them in the oven.

IMG_20170629_180504.jpgOnce they were cooked, we finished them off with the vanilla icing and red chocolate balls. The kids were excited about how they turned out and enjoyed eating them. The best thing about this recipe is that they were super fluffy and stayed so for five days until I froze them.

 

 

For those who are interested in the recipe, please do give it a try. You won’t regret it.

What is your favourite cupckare recipe? I would love to know.

Bon Appetite!

Ash xo

Canada Day long weekend!

Hey guys,

It’s Wednesday after the long weekend and what a fabulous weekend it was. We spent it at my in-laws home in Dunrobin, right on the Ottawa river. We drove up Friday and stayed until Monday.

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Their home is one of the best places to relax and for the kids to have fun. They built themselves their dream home, five years ago, and it is like visiting Le Nordik.

We kick started our Canada Day festivities with a 45 minute Kayak ride on the river with our son. This kid loves water. He always has. I love that he does but it also scares me to death sometimes since he is fearless. Our kayak trip was so relaxing. I’m always amazed at how quiet the river can be. You would assume that it would be busy and loud, overwhelmed with motor boats and sea-doos but it isn’t the case.  At least not where they live. While we were out, we only saw a couple of beautiful sailboats and one couple canoeing. It was as though we had the river to ourselves.

imageThe rest of the day was spent eating good food, playing with the kids and enjoying a cocktail or two ;). Paul, my father-in-law, made the most incredible mushroom, fig and caramelized onion and stuffed hamburgers for lunch. They were to die for. Dinner started with a beautiful strawberry bruschetta with Louis Buillot rose followed by confit de canard with garlic and herb potatoes and strawberries marinated in rum. If you haven’t had duck confit, you must. It is one of the most delicious dishes I have ever had in my life. My in-laws are both French (Mother-in-law is French Canadian and my father-in-law is half Austrian and half French) and make us this dish a couple times a year and each time I am blown away by the flavour.

Other highlights of our day were decorating our Canada day cupcakes, walks with the kids, searching for frogs and resting in the hammock while the kids napped. Note: napping in a hammock is good for the soul. The hammocks never fail us. Julien and I always fall asleep in those things. Once we get in we are down and out.

Last, but not least, we spent our last evening off at my parent’s place. Mom was feeling healthy enough to have us all over and it was just like the good old days. We caught up on their deck, while sipping on sangria, and enjoyed an awesome grilled chicken caesar salad. Mom had had her sixth chemo session, a week before, and will have the summer chemo free!!! Nothing makes me happier than knowing that she can rest, catch a break, regain some energy and enjoy the summer months with her many friends and family.

IMG_20170703_172349.jpgCanada day 2017 will be one to remember. The kids, Julien and I had an awesome weekend and we hope that you did as well.

How did you spend you Canada day long weekend?

Ciao,

Ash xo