January 20, 2015

spray it back to life

Before my daughter was born, I'd been in a bit of nesting, crafty mode.  I guess it happens around that time. :)  So, along with the multitude of other projects I gave Mr. A, I also asked him to spray paint some household items I thought could use some freshening up so that they could be put to good use again.  It's amazing what you can accomplish with a can of white spray paint.

We turned this lamp, which had a 70s-vibe base, into this lovely lamp that can be used in a guest bedroom or girl's room:

We turned this thrifted bassinet stand into a white one that looks quite shiny and new now:

And finally, my personal favourite, we gave this candle holder a bit of added interest, but only painting it white on the outside and leaving the original metallic finish on the inside, and are now using it to hold cotton balls in our bathroom vanity:

Hope you're having a lovely day!  And before you write something off, think about whether a quick coat of white (or any other colour) of paint could give it a second life. :)



January 14, 2015

banana cream pie with gluten-free crust

Hello! and welcome to my second instalment of fun, old fashioned pie recipes.  Today, it's all about banana cream pie.  But here, we gave it a little twist, and made it with a gluten-free almond flour crust which worked out quite nicely (the almond flour crust complemented the banana and custard filling really well!).

almond flour in the blender

almond flour and coconut oil all blended up together

pie shell formed and ready to be baked

pie shell all baked up

yum, custard!

chopped up bananas

custard in the pie shell, ready for bananas

bananas added

doesn't that look pretty?

Here's the recipe!

Banana Cream Pie with Gluten-Free Crust
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and Elana's Pantry

Pie Crust
makes 1 pie crust

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 tsp sea salt or regular table salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 egg

1. Place almond flour and salt in food processor and pulse briefly to combine.
2. Add coconut oil and egg, and pulse until the wet and dry ingredients are fully combined.
3. Form the mixture into a ball and place in the centre of a 9 inch pie dish.  Press the dough out into the pie dish, keeping the thickness as uniform as possible as you do so.
4. Bake at 350 F for 8-12 minutes.  If you're going  to use this almond flour pie crust for a pie that requires baking, simply do not pre-bake it. Load it up with your filling and bake according to the recipe of your choice, or until your pie is all the way cooked through.   If you're going to use it for the coconut cream pie.  Bake it, then let it cool completely to room temp before adding the fillings.

Cream Pie Filling
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 cups milk, anywhere from 1% to whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium bananas
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the half-and-half or heavy cream, followed by the egg yolks and finally the milk until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low to medium heat, whisking constantly (this is key), until the mixture thickens and becomes smooth. This could take anywhere from 5-10 minutes from start to finish so be patient if it doesn't thicken right away.  It will thicken all of sudden, so keep an eye on it and keep whisking. Remove the pan from the heat; whisk in the butter and vanilla to the hot pudding. Let the mixture cool until just warm, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Pour half of the warm filling into the pre-baked pie shell. Peel and slice the bananas thinly on top of the filling and top with remaining filling. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly over filling surface (don't worry it will come off easily once its cooled). Refrigerate pie until it is completely chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 6 hours.

For the topping, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the top of the pie. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



January 10, 2015

no-sweat pecan pie

Pies are such wonderful things.  You've got the pie shell and then you fill it with all kinds of goodness. Now, I'll admit that fruit pies are actually my favourite kind of pies, but every once in a while it's fun to mix it up.  For instance, we made this pecan pie for Christmas dinner and it worked out quite nicely.  Also, it was pretty simple to make which is always a plus.

First you add the pecans into the shell

Then we add the sweet filling

All baked up

Here's the recipe!

Old Fashioned Pecan Pie
from Epicurious


Pastry dough (I used store-bought, thawed overnight)
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 cups pecan halves


Preheat oven to 350°F with a baking sheet on middle rack.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and lightly press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt. Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk in corn syrup mixture.
Place pecans in pie shell and spread them out evelyn.  Pour corn syrup mixture evenly over the pecans. Bake on hot baking sheet until filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely.


January 03, 2015

chewy oatmeal walnut chocolate chip cookies

I love oatmeal.  One of my favourite breakfasts is hot oatmeal with cinnamon, a dash (okay, maybe a little more than a dash) of maple syrup, and berries.  Mm, mm.

The other thing I love about oatmeal is how you can bake with it.  Like oatmeal cookies.  This recipe I used made me happy because the cookies really did come out chewy, and that's the only way I like to eat cookies, oatmeal included.

Here's the recipe!

Chewy Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 18 cookies
adapted from Butter Baking

  • 110g unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ - ½ tsp salt, to taste
  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts, chopped


1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non stick silicon mat.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, rolled oats.  Set aside.

3. Using a stand or electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until they are combined.  Turn the speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

4. Using an ice cream scooper or spoon, scoop up 1" balls of dough onto the baking sheets.

5. Preheat the oven the 350F and while the oven is heating up, keep the cookie dough balls (on their baking sheets) in the refrigerator to cool.

6. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until the edges are golden and the centers are soft.

Enjoy with a tall glass of cold milk! :)



January 01, 2015

dulce de leche in the can

Have you ever tried dulce de leche?  Well if you haven't yet, give it go.  It's amazing.  It's caramel sauce that's super smooth and spreadable and downright comforting.  You can buy this amazing thing at the supermarket now, but you can also make it easily from a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Once you've made it, you can spread it on toast, crepes, pancakes, put it on ice cream, on fruit, over desserts like cakes and pies.

Here's the recipe!

Dulce De Leche in the Can
adapted from The Tough Cookie

You'll need:
Can(s) of sweetened condensed milk (as many as you'd like to make), with the label removed
Large pots

Place the can(s) of condensed milk in large pot (only place one layer of cans in the pot if you're making more than one can, don't over-pack the pot with cans).  Pour water over the cans, with at least 2 inches above the cans.  Place the pot on the stove on high heat.  Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil.  Once the water has started boiling, reduce the heat to a low simmer.  Cook for 3 hours, checking every half hour to ensure that there is still lots of water covering the cans.  If some of the water has evaporated, pour more water into the pot.  It's best to have a pot of boiling water going on the side, to use to top up the pots if need be.

After 3 hours of cooking, remove the cans from the water and place on a cooling rack to cool off completely.  Once the cans are at room temperature, you can safely open the can to check out your dulce de leche.

Transfer the caramel into a sterilized and resealable container.  Mason jars are a good option.  Keep the jar refrigerated if you're using the caramel sauce over time.