Saturday 31 August 2013

Honey Almond Granola Bars

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It’s the end of summer already!? I’m a week into classes already!? It’s basically September, ALREADY!? I can’t even begin to understand where time went, it’s vanished faster than my ice cream sandwiches!

I was on the go a lot this summer, in fact I barely spent more than three nights in the same place before moving on to the next. In a word it was hectic. It meant a lot of on-the-go food and drinks  which was often delicious but most costly and not the healthiest.  I wish I had these granola bars with me everywhere I went - tasty, filling, and packed full of yummy goodness these hit the spot for so many different occasions.

Travelling and wary of airplane food - check! (I kept a couple of these in my purse on a flight to the UK this summer and they were the perfect breakfast after my overnight flight, and on my train journey several hours later!)

Need a pick-me-up during/after work? - check!

Plain greek yogurt in the fridge? - check! (just crumble it up on top)

Going hiking, need a snack? - check!

Just really like granola bars? - double check!

Sunday 18 August 2013

Wide Angle: Vol. 8 - Off Again

Pin It I'm sitting in the Toronto airport waiting for our flight back to Hong Kong to begin our second year in China. That means that my glorious summer of fun, food, family and friends has officially come to a close and I'm now left with great memories and too tight jeans (totally worth it).

To tide the time until we settle in China and get our internet booked up and oven purchased so that I can start blogging regularly again, here's another wide angle look at my everyday.

1. Canada Day was spent with friends, beer, and bocce.  A look here at my best shot.

2. Just a simple glance at some of the amazing food I've been enjoying.  A falafel burger at The County General in Toronto. Yum!

3. and 4. Flowers, flowers, everywhere! I literally cannot get enough!

5. and 6. I spend A LOT of time out doors this summer in the great nature that Canada offers.  Here are Tobermory and Lake Manitowaba, respectively.

7. A walk with friends in Hamilton's hidden trails

8. An ice cream festival led to some time with furry friends ... win win!

9. and 10. Last, but absolutely not least, I GOT ENGAGED! A picnic in a meadow led to happy tears and many glances at my left hand. We also managed to find a venue mere days before our flight out for the year and I'm am SO EXCITED for the beauty that will be a farm wedding in my hometown. WOOP!

Until next time!

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Ice Cream Sandwiches: A Childhood Favourite!

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Let me tell you about me and ice cream sandwiches. I'm a fanatic. Not just a fan, but a legit fanatic. I've eaten so many ice cream sandwiches in my life that if I ever turned into a food, it would be this one. It's the first thing I ate when I got home from China, and I've had more than my fair share over the last several weeks.

I don't know when my love affair with ice cream sandwiches began, I just know I've always loved them.  Sure freezees, popsicles and cornettos are also a dream on a hot day, but nothing satisfies like a good ol' fashioned ice cream sandwich.

Let's reminise for a minute, shall we? Here's a favourite memory of mine (stay with me folks, it's about ice cream sandwiches): When I was in high school I was staying home by myself taking care of the dog while the rest of the family was away. Naturally I had friends over, partly because that's what normal teenagers do (not that I was very normal), but mostly because I lived in an old house that made too many noises of its own accord.  On this occasion I met my friend Kyle for the very first time. He came over with one of my closest friends and we sat around colouring and laughing - a good start.  Our mutual friend was in a jazz band at that time and had to go for a gig, so in the mean time Kyle and I decided that it would a great idea to walk to the grocery store and pick up some nourishments for when our friends returned. Obviously we walked out with a box of 24 ice cream sandwiches - an excellent middle. Over the next 18-24 hours that box of delight was easily polished off, mostly while 4 of us piled on my sisters bed to eat and chat - the best ending!  I don't know 2 of the 3 others that were there anymore (Kyle included), but I hope they all know how great that memory is for me.

Ice cream sandwiches come in all shapes, sizes, and flavours, and while I'm happy to try them all, I'll always, always, be partial to the old fashioned chocolate cookie and vanilla ice cream combo. The cookie that sticks to your fingers and teeth just so, the ice cream that tries to oosh out the sides, and that oh-so-classic flavour combination - well ... it get's me everytime.

When I was still in China, and I was planning all the foods I wanted to eat and/or make while home, these were top of my list.  And boy am I glad they were! While the steps aren't difficult I did find it easiest to spread the process out over a couple of days to ensure everything was as cold as possible.  The assembly can get messy if you let things warm up to much, so if attempting these (and you should) work quickly!

Ice Cream Sandwiches!
adapted (slightly) from, Brown Eyed Baker

Just under 2L of vanilla ice cream - homemade or store bought
½ cup vegetable shortening
1¼ cups dark brown sugar
½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ - ¾ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

4 Tbsp of water, divided

  1. Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with foil, allow excess to hang over the edges to ease the removal process later
  2. Soften the ice cream slightly so that it can be spread more easily into the prepared pan. Freeze overnight.
  3. The cookies can be prepared the same day and frozen over night or prepared the next day and frozen for at least 30 minutes before assembly. 
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the shortening and the brown sugar - easiest with an electric mixer - for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Mix until incorporated. Mix in 1 cup of the flour, followed by 2 tablespoons of water, and then add the remaining 1 cup flour and another 2 tablespoons of water, mixing well until no dry ingredients remain.  This will take a bit of time, but it will come together. 
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough to roughly 1/8-inch to ¼-inch thickness. 
  7. Cut the dough into desired size and shape. I used a template cut from a cereal box and a pizza cutter to help get them the same size. Re-roll and shape the extra bits as you go. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough, ensuring you have an even number of cookies (a top and a bottom of your sandwich!)
  8. Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a skewer, toothpick, fork, etc., poke a pattern of holes on each cookie's surface. Place the sheets of cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.
  9. Bake for 7 minutes, or until the cookies are just set. 
  10. Allow the cookies to cool slightly before transferring them to cooling racks and cool to room temperature. Freeze cookies for at least 30 minutes before assembling the sandwiches.
  11. When you're ready to assemble, work quickly! Use the edges of the foil to lift the block of firm ice cream from the baking pan and place it on a cutting board. Working quickly, cut the ice cream into the same size as your cookies (again my template helped here). 
  12. Place a piece of ice cream between two chilled cookies and press the cookies together to help them "stick". Wrap individually in parchment paper or plastic wrap and store in the freezer (obviously).
  13. Enjoy!


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