30 Random Acts of Kindness

Filed Under (Personal) by Lisa on 27-12-2013

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This has been a whirl wind year for me. From having some serious health issues to buying a home with my boyfriend and moving out for the first time 2013 has been full of huge life changes. Thankfully things are settling down for me now.

This year I turned the big 29! I sure don’t feel 29. I decided before I turn 30 I would do 30 random acts of kindness after my 29th birthday to journey into my 30’s in a positive way. (thanks to pinterest for this wonderful inspiration).

Here I can chronicle my random acts of kindness.

1. I started off with snow shoveling ¾ of our new subdivision when we had our first major snow fall. I started with just shoveling our driveway, and then together with a lovely neighbor the two of us cleared all the sidewalks, most of the roads, and many drive way entrances. (yes I was partly doing it so I could get to work easier but it was also above and beyond what I needed to do to get to work). I received many thank yous and one neighbor was so grateful they even later dropped off treats to my home.

2. Giving Gifts to Strangers

This Christmas I decided to give two of our new neighbors whom I had never met Christmas gifts, just because. They were very pleasantly surprised. That made me happy.

I have 28 more random acts of kindness to do before I turn 30, but I’m certain I’ll have many more opportunities to do helpful random kind things for strangers this year. I look forward to it!

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Filed Under (Cookies) by Lisa on 10-02-2013

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It’s been really gloomy weather out the past few days here on the island. It’s kind of  a mildly warm 5 degrees C or so outside, but very foggy, cloudy and rainy. The kind of day that makes  you just want to stay inside and turn on the oven.

This afternoon I did just that. I found a photo on Pinterest, that inspired me to make these cookies. It was for peanut butter chocolate chip banana cookies. I had never made or eaten a peanut butter banana cookie before so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I also changed the recipe adding and subtracting a couple things, so my cookies were quite the gamble, but they turned out awesome.

The best way to describe them is like a piece of banana bread with a more cookie like texture. I also added some rum to the recipe (just because I love pairing rum and banana), and the rum flavor, banana flavor, and peanut butter flavor, all blended together marvelously as one.

I highly suggest making these cookies ASAP. You won’t be disappointed

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies   *adapted from how sweet it is
(makes aprox 26 medium to large sized cookies)

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
A few shakes salt
8 tbsp salted butter (softened)
6 tbsp “just peanuts” peanut butter
¾ cup loose brown sugar (not packed)
¼ cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp rum
2 medium bananas
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl combine the flour, white sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix well. In a blender add the bananas, brown sugar, egg, butter, peanut butter, rum, and vanilla extract. Blend to puree. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture. Stir, and knead to form a soft ball of cookie dough. Form medium sized cookies (I used my hands). Place on cookie sheet (I didn’t grease my  non-stick pan). Bake for about 15 minutes in your preheated oven.

Enjoy HOT. These are melt in your mouth bites of goodness!

Kahlua Balls

Filed Under (No-Bake Dessert) by Lisa on 30-11-2012

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In the past few months I have become a pinterest addict. I recently discovered a pin, that I just couldn’t resist making. Chocolate Kahlua Balls. Since I am a certified chocolate addict and I love putting booze in my cooking and baking, I was smitten for this recipe fast. A few days ago I gave it a go (changing bit of it to my liking of course). The result was a decadent chocolate ball with just a hint of Kahlua. The balls aren’t too sweet and are the perfect after dinner treat. Give them a try today.

Kahlua Balls
Adapted from dashrecipes.com

Makes 25-30 medium to large sized balls

2 squares bittersweet chocolate
¾ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 5 oz can evaporated milk
2 cups honey graham crumbs
1 ¼ cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup Kahlua
2+ cups medium unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup sliced or shredded hazelnuts

In a medium sized pot or saucepan melt the bittersweet chocolate and chocolate chips in the evaporated milk over low heat. Stir until blended. Remove from heat. Cool 20-25 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients except coconut. Stir into the melted chocolate mixture. Shape the chocolate mixture into balls aprox 1 inch in size. Roll in coconut. Place on parchment paper (or waxed paper) to let set at least 1 hour. Place in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Enjoy.

The 2012 Festival of Trees

Filed Under (Personal) by Lisa on 27-11-2012

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I can’t believe it’s less then one month till Christmas time! Where has the year gone? It feels like it was just summer a couple weeks ago.

This year once again I decided to decorate a tree for the Vancouver Island University Festival of Trees.  Since my chocolate themed tree in 2011 was pretty popular I decided to make another chocolate tree for the festival. This year I called my tree “Chocolate Heaven“. I wanted to make a completely different style of chocolate tree then my previous one so I changed my color scheme. I went with burgundy and gold with red accents for my tree colors. I loaded my tree up with a lot of chocolate! I admit my tree this year wasn’t was glamorous as my 2011 tree but it was much more delicious. Hopefully a true chocolate lover takes home this tree at the end of the festival.

All the trees get raffled off this year (for the cheap price of $2.00 per raffle ticket). Sounds like a bargain to me!

Here is my chocolate themed tree

And other favorites from decorating day

Thumb Print Butter Cookies

Filed Under (Cookies) by Lisa on 27-10-2012

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Hello blog, we meet again. I’m so sorry to have neglected you for so long. This year I’ve been busy working a lot more then in the past few years, so I haven’t payed enough attention to you. However it’s really no excuse for my lack of attention you have been getting. I am going to make a solid effort to not neglect you again for sooo long.

Now back to business

Lately I have been bitten by the baking bug. All summer I hardly baked anything at all but come fall, the cool gloomy weather, sure makes turning on the oven enticing.

After thinking about baking cookies for a few days I finally did it. I decided to give making thumb print cookies another go. I tried making them a few years ago but ended up a little disappointed in the results. This time I couldn’t be happier with the way these jam filled butter cookies turned out.

They are a thick soft cookie with a subtle vanilla flavor (enhanced by some rum extract). When I had my first bite of cookie, all I could think was OMG these are AMAZING! Seriously the best cookies I have ever made! I used plum butter instead of jam and it was super delicious. I think any fruit preserves would work well with this.

Here is the recipe. Go try it now!

Adapted from allrecipes

Thumb Print Butter Cookies
(makes about 26 medium sized cookies)

¾ cup salted butter softened
1/3 cup white sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp ground almonds
1 large egg
1 tsp rum extract
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
About ½ cup of fruit preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl add the butter, sugar, salt, egg, vanilla, and rum extracts. Cream with electric mixer. Gradually add the flour. Blend with mixer to form a crumbly dough mixture. Knead the dough to form a soft ball of dough. Roll dough into balls about 1 inch in size. Place on a (not greased) cookie sheet. Make a well in the centre of each ball ( I used the handle of a paring knife to do this). Fill each ball with just enough fruit preserves to make the cookie filled level on the top (don’t over fill them). Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes.


Lemon Coconut Loaf

Filed Under (Cakes, Uncategorized) by Lisa on 18-05-2012

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Are you a fan of pound cake? What about those little short cakes that grocery stores often market next to the strawberries? If you are you will love my lemon coconut loaf.

I created this recipe several months ago, when I was craving a plain lemon pound cake. I searched the internet, and couldn’t find any one recipe that I really liked for pound cake. Most recipes have way to much sugar in them.  I only had one option, and that was to create my own. I have made my lemon  coconut pound cake numerous times over the last several months, and it is always a HUGE hit. It’s melt in your mouth goodness. Eat it plain, warm out of the oven, or let it cool off and have it with strawberries whip cream, and vanilla frozen yogurt. Either way is a big win.

Here is the recipe.

Lemon Pound Cake
*makes one pound cake

½ cup salted butter softened
1 cup white sugar
4-5 tsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 ½ – 2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾-1 cup skim milk
A few shakes salt
¼ cup medium shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease loaf pan. In a large bowl add the: sugar, lemon juice, eggs, and softened butter (even slightly melted is okay). Beat with electric mixer. Add the flour, and baking powder. Mix with a spoon to combine. Add the coconut. Add the milk. Beat with the mixture until a smooth cake batter that is moderately thick forms (if it seems to thick add a bit more milk). Bake for 55 minutes in the preheated oven.

Enjoy J

A Little Taste of Heaven

Filed Under (Pie) by Lisa on 01-05-2012

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Today I visited heaven.. Chocolate heaven.

I one of my favorite food blogs: Love and Olive Oil written by bloggers Lindsay and Taylor, recently posted a must try it now recipe. It was for Chocolate Strawberry Oasis Pie. Since I am a HUGE fan of  strawberries (as in I eat them pretty much every day from February till July), and a certified chocolate addict, I had to try this recipe.

I made it this afternoon, and OMG it’s beyond amazing! I really did take a trip to heaven and back with each bite. It’s a subtly sweet chocolate mousse with a irresistible Oreo cookie crust (I added that to the recipe instead of chocolate wafer cookies). The strawberries pair perfectly with this chocolate delight. The whiskey and spices give this dessert a to die for flavor.

Without further a due here is the recipe! Go try it now : )

Chocolate Strawberry Mouse Pie

(slightly adapted from Love and Olive Oil)
*makes one nine inch pie

For crust:

6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped finely
7 oz Oreo cookie crumbs
About 10-15 strawberries halved

For Filling:

2/3 cup white sugar
¼ cup corn starch
2 tbsp coco powder
¼ tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
3 large eggs
2 ½ cups whole milk
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 tbsp whiskey
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

To make the crust: Grease 9 inch pie plate. Place 1 oz chopped chocolate in a bowl and melt in the microwave (about 30-60 sec), stir until smooth. In a separate bowl melt the butter in the microwave. Combine with the melted chocolate and stir to combine. In a large bowl add the Oreo cookie crumbs, and the chocolate butter mixture. Stir to coat the cookie crumbs evenly. Press mixture into prepared pie plate. Place in freezer for (a min 40 minutes).

To make the filling: In a sauce pan whisk together the: sugar,  corn starch, coco powder, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.  Beat in the eggs. Gradually add the milk. Turn on the burner to medium heat and stir mixture until it thickens and boils for one minute. Remove from heat. Add the 4 oz of chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth. Add the Whiskey and vanilla extract. Stir until well combined.  Cool about 5 minutes.

Place strawberries in pie crust. Pour over pie filling. Freeze for a min 3 hours before serving. Garnish with whipping cream and strawberries if desired.

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Rugelach

Filed Under (Baking, Rolls) by Lisa on 18-12-2011

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I recently visited one of my favorite food blogs Annie’s Eats, and discovered a awesome recipe for Rugelach, something I had never heard of before. Rugelach is a cream cheese pastry that is rolled up into a crescent shape, and is filled with jam (in this case raspberry jam) nuts, chocolate shavings and or raisins. The cream cheese dough is soft and tender, and the lemon zest gives it a light zing. The filling is the perfect combination of raspberry jam, almonds, and chocolate shavings or raisins (soaked before hand in rum) that create a symphony of flavors in your mouth with each bite. Either combination is equally yummy.

These delightful rolls are a new holiday tradition at our  house, and may even make some appearances outside of the festive season too.

For the recipe head over to Annie’s Eats.

The only things I changed when I made this dessert were: I brushed each roll with half and half cream instead of heavy cream, and I used 1 tsp of lemon zest in the dough (instead of ½ tsp). I also used half the amount of chocolate and made half of the dough/rolls with raisins (pre soaked in rum).

Thanks Annie for posting this wonderful recipe!

The 2011 Festival of Trees

Filed Under (Personal) by Lisa on 13-11-2011

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This year once again I decided to decorate a tree for the local festival of trees. I chose to do a chocolate themed tree which I called “Cocoa Christmas” which featured edible chocolates including Godiva chocolate bars, Godiva chocolate covered strawberries, Toblerone chocolates and Lindt chocolate balls. It was difficult to not eat my ornaments but I managed. Here is my tree at the festival.

And here are some of the other trees.

First off “Hark the Bark” a dog themed tree. One of my favourites.

Another favorite “Diamond in the Ruff”. I just love dog and cat themed trees : ).

A very pretty tree that I like “Vintage Chic Boutique”.

More trees from the festival

I love Christmas and it’s always fun to into the spirit decorating at the Festival of trees. How do you get into the Christmas spirit?

Cocoa Christmas

Filed Under (Personal) by Lisa on 10-11-2011

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This year I decided to decorate a tree again for the Festival of Tree’s in Nanaimo which supports student scholarships and awards at the university I attended (Vancouver Island University).

This time I chose to do a chocolate themed tree. I called my tree “Cocoa Christmas”. It features many edible delectable chocolates. Yes it was hard for this chocoholic to hold back and not eat the decorations, but I did. 😛

All of the trees are either auctioned off in a silent auction or given away in raffles (I won’t know which way my tree is given away until after the festival since I have had previous trees some raffled and others auctioned).

Here are some photos of my yummy tree. I’ll have some festival photos once I decorate my tree at the festival in a couple days.