Friday, February 22, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bars

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bars

No. No there is not. Especially when it comes to combining desserts in one.

Yesterday on Facebook I called this creation the mullet of desserts. It's brownies on the bottom and cookies on the top, packing the ultimate dessert punch. Crunchy, chewy, gooey - these chocolate chip cookie brownie bars seriously has it all.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bars

I always like to see who gets more excited about what I bake - man vs boy - and I thought the boy would definitely take the cake on excitement over these. Surprisingly though, it was the man who nearly lost his shit seeing two of his favourite desserts mashed into one. I can't blame him though, because um, I felt the exact same way while making them.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bars

Who do you think would enjoy these the most in your family?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baked Spiced Apple Doughnuts

How do you show those in your life that you love them?

Baked Spiced Apple Doughnuts

I tend to show it with food. It's one thing to tell them (which I do almost compulsively) but it's another entirely to demonstrate it by not letting them starve to death. This means a lot to my family because they've seen what I do to plants, and they do not want it to happen to them.

Baked Spiced Apple Doughnuts

These whole wheat baked apple cinnamon doughnuts are a classic example of love and food. Whipped up on a lunch break while answering emails (one of the benefits of working from home), the doughnuts were ready and waiting when the man and boy got home from work and school.

Baked Spiced Apple Doughnuts

And they're relatively healthy, too, as far as doughnuts are concerned. There's fruit, a little oil, no frying... you get the drift and can justify eating 10 along with me, I'm sure.

So whip up a batch and get sharing!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chocolate Covered Pretzels for Valentine's Day

“It’s weird it’s you.”

That’s what we always say to each other, still unconvinced it’s really each other woven so tightly into our present lives. You see, I met my boyfriend, Jason, a little over 13 years ago. But I met him, really, in November 2011.

For some of you, this is the first time you’ll be hearing the real story. It’s strange and bizarre and yeah, maybe kind of lame. But it’s also a ridiculous tale of chance, and who isn’t into that?

Chocolate Covered Pretzels for Valentine's Day

It all begins in 1999. I was 14, internet was dial up, and printers were just stopping making some of the most god-awful noises you have ever heard. Instant message systems were all the rage with teenagers (and sex offenders – a classic mix), and the poison of me and my peers was ICQ.

ICQ had three defining features: 1) its classic UH-OH! message tone, 2) its cheerful clip-arty flower symbol, and 3) its ability to connect you with strangers through a “random chat” feature.

It was this random chat button that brought us to where we are today.

As I was sitting at my parents’ computer in Vancouver, likely building a Geocities site for shitty poetry, Jason was sitting at his parents’ computer in Kelowna, a city about 5 hours away. At 16 years old, he pressed that random chat button, and guess who popped up on the other end? Me. Purely by a big swirling cosmic chance.

I wish I remembered what we said for those first words. I wish I remembered every conversation we ever had. (Though I wish I could forget some of them, too).

But I know I knew one thing: whoever this person was, I needed him to stick around, if only for just a little bit. 14 year old me couldn’t even imagine the journey that random chat would take us on.

Jason and I couldn’t have been more different, and on many levels we still can’t. The most defining difference is that he is Christian, and I am very much not. Why does this matter, you ask? Because when we met he thought my soul was in trouble and I needed saving. I thought he was sheltered and needed liberating.

In a way, that one point of contention is our story; it’s been a constant in our ever-changing relationship, and a dynamic that always ties us together. My soul has needed a lot of saving, and there's been a lot of the world he needed to see.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Back in 1999, and for several years after, we talked all the time. Daily. As much as we could about girlfriends, boyfriends, life, everything, and most often – absolutely nothing. We didn’t even have pictures of ourselves, since digital cameras weren’t for the masses yet.

When I was 15 I sent him a picture of myself. And guys, I posed HARD. When we finally met, 11 years after I put that picture in the mail, he brought it with him. He had kept it all those years.

It’s now on our fridge.

The thing is, when you talk to someone, just talk to them, without history or hang-ups or anything that’s attached to actually physically knowing someone in person, you have the opportunity to speak honestly, and to get to know each other on a level that’s hard to explain. You become part of a life-long conversation.

Over the years, our chats ebbed and flowed. We became busy with our own lives, and occasionally didn’t talk for several months at a time. But we were always there, and would pick back up again without missing a beat when the time was right. For over a decade, people!

It’s hard to say what stopped us from meeting over the years. A mix of geography, a treacherous highway, relationships, and just plain nerves when we happened to be in each other’s cities are mainly to blame.

But that all started to change when Jason moved to Vancouver, and we were definitely in the full swing of talking again.

One random rainy day in November 2011, I texted him that I had a new temporary contract, my first full-time official writing gig, at an agency downtown. As luck would have it, the office just happened to be a block from his apartment. And as luck would have it, his bank was just below it. And as luck would have it even more, he got home from work right as my shift ended.

We agreed that if the world was trying to throw us together at that moment, we were fools to go against it. So we went to Vancouver’s colosseum-esque library to finally hang out.

And we haven’t separated since.

Of course, there’s more to the story. There’s been what feels like a lifetime since, and the 12 years before it is hard to adequately sum up in such a small space. But all that matters is that I love him, even when he leaves my kitchen a mess, smokes from time to time, and forgets to take out the garbage. And he loves me, even when I treat the floor like it’s a closet, sweat in his clothes when I'm sleeping, and am a strange mix of unsentimental and insecure.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Herb Quinoa Patties

Ladies and gents, meet my favourite lunch.

These cheesy, savoury herb quinoa patties hit all the right spots: they're versatile (so I can't mess up the proportions, and can throw random fridge stuff into them - I'm looking at you, broccoli), tasty (note the cheese), and can be made ahead to be munched on for a few days in a row. They're also a fantastic side to mains like roasted chicken, and go great in salads.

Seriously - what more do you want? (No more; you want no more in life than these. Trust.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Homemade Chicken Stock

Let's be frank: Store bought chicken stock sucks.

For something that's so incredibly easy to do - you literally boil shit in a pot - I have no idea why so many brands fail to make something remotely palatable. Especially considering how invaluable a good, rich stock is to everything from rice to mashed potatoes. It can really make or break a recipe and turn the mundane into something fantastic.

Fortunately for you and me, chicken stock is really simple to make (although it takes a bit of time) and it's a great way to use up all those kitchen scraps and chicken carcasses you generally don't have much use for. I like to freeze chicken carcasses (there's no nice way to phrase that), and any carrot, onion, or celery ends to save for stock. 

Economical and delicious - it really doesn't get much better than that.

PS. Want to convert this recipe to make in your slow cooker? Just put everything in at night, and let it cook on low until morning.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Football Rice Krispie Treats

Are you ready for the Super Bowl? It's mere hours away, but I'm still adding new things to the menu, like these football Rice Krispie treats, made with real unsweetened chocolate.

My mom actually made these this weekend for our Super Bowl party, but the man and I devoured them before I had a chance to take any pictures. (I know - we're the worst and have zero impulse control). But I recreated them, and here they are for you in all their glory!

They take all of 15 minutes to whip up and require no baking, so your oven can be free to bake wings, pretzels, or absolutely nothing.


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