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An Update!

A lot has happened in the last two months since I posted last.  Life took over and unfortunately I was feeling fairly uninspired to come on here and tell you fun stories.

I finally got a job that has me out of the house and working.  It was a major adjustment due to working shift work which includes 12 hour shifts switching from day shifts to night shifts.  I was terrified of the change but I was able to embrace it and make it work as best as possible.  Unfortunately right now, work has slowed down and I have been temporarily laid off (for about 10 days).  With the days getting nicer as summer approaches it is actually quite difficult to think about going back to work.  Unfortunately the bills don’t stop so back to work I will go!

Shortly after I started work I became an Aunt.  It was a whirlwind of a day and we are all overjoyed to have this new little bundle of joy in our lives.  Her birth meant we were able to have everyone together for Easter which doesn’t get to happen as often as we’d all like with all of us spread around the country.   My brother and his wife have adjusted splendidly to having their beautiful baby girl at home.  I love that I am only ten minutes away so I get to hang out with the new family whenever I want as well as being able to babysit when needed.

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The Victoria Day long weekend has just recently passed and CB and I managed to get away for a three-day camping weekend that was much-needed.  I have never camped this early in the year but we were lucky enough to have three days of temperatures over 25 degrees.  We canoed into the camp-site, set-up our stuff and waited patiently for the rest of the crew to show up.  In total there were eight of us camping which made for an entertaining weekend.

CB’s plan for the weekend included fishing, fishing, fishing and more fishing!  He got a fair amount of fishing in but unfortunately there just weren’t a lot of big fish biting.  He did manage to catch two clams while we were trolling (which ended up being the most memorable catch of the weekend)…Perhaps his lure was going a little too deep….dragging the bottom of the lake!

I think we all managed to come home looking like we had a case of the chicken pox from the swarms of mosquitoes that were waiting in the wings ready to pounce whenever a fresh piece of skin became available.

The camping weekend also gave CB an opportunity to have fun with his GoPro camera.  Check out the Time Lapse photos and video below to enjoy a taste of our weekend!

Sunset at Camp

Canoe Trip to go Home

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CB requested I make a new favourite cookie recipe to take camping.  We received more than a few good reviews on these cookies.  And we may have used these to make S’Mores (talk about decadence! WOW!).

The Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies are the perfect chewy cookie.  I have made these in a single batch as well as a double batch and both worked out perfectly.  I found that the cookies don’t cook down very flat so when I made these the second time I pressed them down a little bit on the cookie sheet before baking mainly just for aesthetic purposes.

I am off to make a Thai dinner feast.  It feels great to be back here writing away to you and I will try to keep the information flowing.  Please feel free to let me know what you have been up to the past little while and what you are looking forward to most this summer.

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Two-Ingredient Lemon Bars…Sort Of!

This post is not how I plan for my baking posts to go.  This is a good recipe that needed tweaking so when you get to the end you can read my ideas of what I would/will do differently.

This recipe jumped out at me for two reasons when I first found it on Pinterest: it was lemon flavoured and it only took two ingredients.  (Two ingredients I didn’t have mind you!).  I used two sites for this recipe.  The Pinterest link took me to an altered version of the recipe (here) but I wanted to start with true original (here).

It took me all of about five minutes to decide to make this recipe.  I needed two ingredients: angel food cake mix and canned lemon pie filling.  I have NEVER seen canned lemon pie filling but I know how to make it from a mix (that we likely had in the house) so all I needed was an angel food cake mix.  Well we definitely didn’t have any, but would a white cake mix suffice?…Sure it would!  Off I went!

My Cast of Characters

Obviously because I was making the lemon pie filling my recipe was a tad longer than two ingredients.  My recipe was more like 5 ingredients (white cake mix, lemon pie filling powder, egg yolks, water and butter).   I simply followed the instructions on the pie filling box.

Once the pie filling was finished cooking I placed it on the deck (the natural refrigerator) to cool.  While it was cooling I greased and floured my 9″ x 13″ pan.  The recipe didn’t call for this but I know how well cakes release from un-greased cake pans and I wasn’t willing to let this experiment go down in a crumbly mess.

This is the point where the recipe matches up with the original.  I opened the cake mix and poured it into a large bowl, followed by the lemon pie filling.  The original recipe asked for one can of pie filling while the second recipe added two cans.  I figured I was adding what amounted to about two cans of pie filling (I was okay with more lemon flavour).

Pie Filling/Cake Mix

My oven was preheating to 350 degrees as I stirred the cake mix and pie filling together.  I was a little sceptical about how it was going to come together but there seemed to be a perfect amount of liquid to dry ingredients.

I poured the batter into the pan and spread it out to all corners (the mixture was quiet thick and sticky) and slid it into the oven for the recommended 20 minute bake time.

Cake in the Oven

After about 20 minutes I checked on the cake and it was still quite glossy looking on top and an inserted toothpick came out quite moist.  I added an additional 5 minutes and was pleased with how it looked and removed it to the counter to cool.

Cooling Cake

After a few minutes of cooling I sifted icing sugar (oops…ingredient number 6) over the top (to pretty it up) as recommended in the original recipe.  It sure stepped up the visual appeal and I must say the aroma was to die for!

Icing Sugar Decorations

As soon as I could, I cut a few squares to taste test and to model.  Taste testing went swimmingly – YUM!  Artsy photography not so much (I’m working on it – natural light is difficult to locate).

I chose to place these delicately lemon treats on my good set of dishes.  This is the first time I have broken out my set of good China and I am pleased to see I love it as much now as I did when I picked it out at 16.

Set for Tea

I debated whether or not to post this recipe as it didn’t 100% win me over but I need the practice writing so here we are.  Please bear with me while I nit-pick for a moment.

I deviated from the recipe by choosing white cake mix rather than angel food cake (which could be the main problem).  I imagine the angel food cake would lighten up the consistency of the recipe but not overly change in entirely.  The cake ended up quite moist and dense which I can tolerate but resulted in me not really wanting to make this recipe again.  I believe by adding the entire lemon pie filling it overwhelmed the cake and resulted in a dense cake that was almost too moist.  The title of this post and of the original recipe refer to the resulting lemon concoction as a square.  The fact that I cut this into square pieces is about all that makes it a square to me versus a lemon cake.

What would I do differently next time?  I would cut the amount of pie filling down by about a half.  I would be tempted to use the white cake mix still as the flavour combinations seemed to work.  I would consider making a Graham Cracker crust and using the same amount of batter but spreading it over two 9″ x 13″ pans to create two thinner cake.  I think the thinner profile and crust would make this into a perfect dessert square.   I also considered mixing in poppy seeds which would give it a little more visual appeal.  (I haven’t had any outsider feedback so this could just be me being overly critical.)

This recipe is tasty and I think would venture to try it again with some minor adjustments!

If you have tried this recipe please leave me a message and let me know how it turned out.

Jewels, My Baking Assistant...Being Very Helpful! Zzzz...

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I tend to flip-flop on whether or not I want to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  It’s great to have an excuse to fancy yourself up, go out for dinner and focus on the love between two people (which can so often be placed on the back burner).  But when it falls so closely to my Birthday I don’t really NEED the extra fuss and there is a special group of people who claim it is a Hallmark holiday so really, why bother?!  This year I have decided it is a great idea but have chosen to make it a do-it-yourself celebration (on my end).

On Saturday I was inspired by some of the “100 Reasons I Love You” lists I came across on the web.   I figured I could come up with some neat way to present the list but first issue first: I needed to come up with my reasons.  I love my boyfriend CB for so many reasons but how on earth would I put all those mushy feelings into words let alone come up with 100 reasons.  I wanted the reasons to be personal and meaningful.  Instead of stressing myself and scrapping the project I told myself to record as many as I could and see where I ended up.  On my first attempt I came up with eight.  Well eight wasn’t going to suffice to I thought about a few of the things we do together and what makes those times special and the ideas started flowing.  I kept the idea in my mind as I continued to browse the web for presentation ideas and kept adding to my list.  By the time I found a perfect way to present the reasons to CB I was well over 50 reasons.  That would be enough for now!

At first I figured I could decorate a Mason jar and cut the reasons into strips on pretty paper which CB could draw out to read.  This idea was simple and would do the trick but it just didn’t feel right.  I finally remembered seeing this neat idea on Pinterest which was a toy for kids but could be altered.  This idea luckily came with a great how-to on Instructables to make the Low Tech Cardboard TV Toy.   This was it!  The perfect idea!

I wasn’t making mine into a toy TV but more of  a Love Box with a scrolling list of things I love about CB.  I decided I would place the words “I love…” directly onto the box and would have the list of reasons scroll through the cut-out in the box.

I started by finding a cracker box and an empty wrapping paper tube (to use as the handles).  I formatted my list into two columns, printed and cut them out.  Once I had my list prepared I followed the instructions on the Instructables page to create the scroll.  Once I had all the holes cut in the box I decided I wanted to cover the Love Box in an old Valentine’s Day bag that I cut to match the outline of the box and taped it into place.

I was almost giddy when it was finally assembled and it actually worked!  The reasons scrolled properly, the box looked fabulous in the V-Day paper and it only took a few hours to get it together.  After a quick break for dinner I labelled the box and set a time to meet up with CB.  He insisted I was not allowed to give it to him yet (this was only February 11) but I was WAY to excited to hold on to it any longer!

The Love Box

I showed up to his house and forced it into his hands and taught him how to scroll through and I was so pleased to see the small grin creep across his face as he read through my reasons.  He loved reading the reasons and I loved seeing the smiles and laughs I created.   Definitely one of the most heartfelt gifts I think I have ever given and I love that he can keep it around to scroll through when you sometimes need a reminder of how much you’re loved.

Now that isn’t the end quite yet.  It’s tough for me to pass up the opportunity to bake and a holiday like Valentine’s Day is much too perfect.  So I threw together some cookies to give out to those I love.

I whipped up my favourite Peanut Butter Blossom recipe (I use peanut butter).  This recipe was initially made up for Halloween but I usually substitute plain Hershey Kisses or Hugs to make them more universal.  For Valentine’s Day I wanted to love them up a little bit so I found heart-shaped chocolates at Wal-Mart (not hard to come by at this time of year).  These are the ones I picked up:

Chocolate Hearts

I baked off the cookies as instructed in the recipe and pressed the un-wrapped chocolate hearts onto the tops of the cookies when they were still warm.

Just Placed the Chocolate Hearts

The finished product is pretty and delicious!

Valentine's Day Blossoms

Please feel free to try this recipe!  It is easy and yummy to the max.

Have a safe and happy Valentine’s Day.  And for those anti-Valentine’s Day people, you should still make these cookies, they are reason enough to be happy!

Leave me a comment below telling me what you do to make Valentine’s Day special.