Homemade Oreos

Growing up, my mom held strict rules about what we had in our kitchen and junk food was limited. No yummy sugary cereals, cookies, soft drinks or TV dinners. I grew up on delicious home cooked meals, lots of salads and fruit. Of course I had junk food from time to time, my mom wasn’t that strict, but it was never really kept in the house. At the time, I didn’t understand how wonderful this was and how lucky I was, but I thank her now for instilling healthy habits in me from a young age. I now appreciate cooking and baking. I love bold flavours, spices, experimenting with new foods from different cultures, making things from scratch and sitting down for a good meal with family. At the time though, all I wanted was a bowl of delicious fruit loops, these Trixx yogurts with a pack of sprinkles you mixed in before eating, Michelina’s tortellini and broccoli frozen dinners, soda and Oreos! Anyways now that I’m all grown up I tend to steer away from packaged foods, sodas and junk foods. I do eat them on occasion, but I rarely keep them in the house. So when I saw this recipe I screeched! Homemade Oreos, it’s the best of both worlds!

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This recipe is extremely simple. It took about 10 minutes to prepare and about the same to assemble. I won’t call it healthy but it’s not processed (it will keep for a week in a well sealed container) and you know exactly what you’re eating… except for the vegetable shortening, I am not sure about that, but it is essential for keeping the filling from melting and turning into a gooey mess. I want to find an alternative (anyone have any suggestions?)
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My boyfriend took a bite and was disappointed that it wasn’t soft and fluffy. I guess he was expecting a whoopee pie from the way it looked (which is a great idea – Oreo whoopee pies? yum!) but this is no whoopee pie, it’s an Oreo cookie, and they are crunchy and slightly bitter to counter the sweet, creamy centre! I really liked the way they turned out, and urge you to try it!
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Homemade Oreo Recipe (from Smitten Kitchen, my favourite source for baked goods)
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

Chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar (this will give it that bitter and sweet balance. Add 1/2 cup more if you want a sweeter wafer)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

Creamy Filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Here’s what you need to do:
First, set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.

To make the wafers:
1. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar well. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the room temperature butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

2. There are two ways to do this.
– You can take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart and with moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough.

or

- You can divide the dough into 2 pieces, wrap with plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator at least 1 hour. Then, knead the dough slightly to help soften it and avoid cracks when rolling. Place one piece between 2 lightly floured sheets of parchment paper and roll into a ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. Any scraps will have to be re-chilled before you can re-roll it.

3. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the creamy filling:
1. Place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla.
2. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

To put it all together:
1. In a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie.
2. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie.
3. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

**If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can easily use a zip lock bag with the corner cut off.

Enjoy them with a glass of milk and share them with all your friends and family!

Easy DIY Camera Strap

I had this realization the other night that even though I’ve had my camera for more than 8 years, and use it often, I still haven’t changed the strap. Yes, I’m that person that still has the original one that comes with the camera when you first buy it. Big bright red Canon letters sewn on… not so pretty, so unprofessional and uncomfortable to boot. I can sort of get it to hang across my body, but it’s tight, and now with winter here, there’s no way I could wear it comfortably over my coat. So being the impulsive person I am, I figured out a way to make a new strap at 11 pm on a monday night. With all the stores being closed, I had to think about what I already had on hand. All it is, is a spare strap from one of my totes and some key rings, there’s really nothing to this DIY. It’s a quick fix if you’re impatient like I am and itching for a change. You just need to make sure that you attach the rings securely to the camera so that you can be sure the strap is on safely, preventing any accidents!

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Here’s a self portrait of me and my new camera strap! I love it, and can now wear it comfortably across my body when not using it. Isn’t the colour fun?

Self-portrait

Having this new strap will definitely encourage me to bring my camera out with me more often! I always found excuses to leave it at home and use my iphone instead, since it fits comfortable in my pocket and my DSLR does not. Looking forward to taking it out more often!

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie

I am not one to write down my smoothie recipes, because most of the time I wing it depending on what I have in my freezer, fridge and pantry. The one thing I never let myself run out of is frozen bananas. It’s the perfect way to save those bananas that you buy that go brown before you can enjoy them. I peel them up, cut them in half and keep them in freezer bags ready to use for baking and… smoothies! I wrote this one down because it was just so delicious, and I ended up drinking it for breakfast for 4 days straight. It’s packed with delicious things, and uses the bananas and dates for a natural sweetness.

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Photo: Jessica Pevzner

 

Ingredients
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup of loosely chopped kale
3 Ice cubes
1 cup of nut milk or rice milk or any kind of milk you love
1/2 frozen banana
2 pitted dates
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
1/4 cup of rolled oats

Directions:
Always put the liquid in first and then add the rest of your ingredients. Pulse slowly to break up the chunks and then blend until smooth and enjoy!

What is your favourite smoothie recipe?

5 Tips on Mixing Prints in your Home Like a Pro

Long before mixing prints became a trend, I was watching Sarah Richardson pull it off time and time again. She wouldn’t just mix 2 or 3 prints together. Sarah didn’t mess around. Sometimes she would have a pile of different prints in front of her and I would be amazed at how she was able to make them look like they were always made to be together. Not everyone has a natural talent for knowing which prints work well together, but with the right tools, you can definitely become a pro. Here are some tips on how you can begin to master the skill. Because I am telling you, once you do, you will never look back.

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{source} This is a perfect example of mixing prints. We see different scales, types of prints and compatible colours all on a neutral backdrop.

1. Size does matter: Use patterns of multiple scales and densities. When you do this, the prints visually balance each other out, so that one dominates the eye and becomes the focal point and the other one compliments it. If you don’t do this your eye won’t know where to go and it will make the whole thing look messy.

2. Use different pattern types: (floral, animal, stripe, geometric) Mixing different patterns together is key, and insures that two patterns won’t be competing with each other. One of my favourite combinations is floral and stripes.

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{Source} Staying in the blues; geometric chevron meets floral. I love the contrasting prints in these similar tones!

3. Use a low contrast palette: By using your colour wheel wisely, you will ensure that the colours are harmonious. This doesn’t mean every pattern has to be the same colour, but the colours need to compliment each other well.

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{Source} This neutral backdrop sets the stage for compatible colours with natural tones of copper, brown, and rose.

4. Start with a neutral foundation: It’s best to have a neutral foundation when mixing prints so as not to overdo it. This means your base (walls, couch etc..) should not overpower the prints. They will act like your blank canvas.

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{Source} The Starting Point in this has to be the art. Everything seems to fit perfectly with the artwork, making all these random colors and prints work so perfectly together.

5. Find a jumping off point: Find a fabric that appeals to your individual style and use it as your guide. Pull colours from it and find prints that contrast well with it using the tips above. It makes the whole process easier when you have something to compare too and go back too.

How do you feel about mixing prints? Would you feel confident enough to incorporate it into your home?

Rustic Plum & Apple Crumble

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It’s really starting to look and feel like fall around here. The trees are bursting with vibrant colours and the ground is crunchy with their fallen leaves. All of this is making me really excited to go apple picking and make my favourite comfort foods including this delicious apple and butternut squash soup. I love apples, but my all-time favourite is the Lobo which is actually from the Macintosh family, but grown locally in Quebec. When I go to the orchards I am sure I eat almost half a bags worth before actually filling my bag up. They are tart and crisp and a great choice for snacking and baking. For this recipe I had to go with Macintosh instead, since I am clearly not the only one who loves Lobo’s, they were sold out!

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I had an idea in the back of my mind that I wanted to bake something using  apples, but while walking through the market the other day I saw the most delicious looking plums. They were a beautiful deep purple and perfectly ripe. I thought about how yummy they would be along side the apples, so they ended up coming home with me. After a very food filled weekend in Toronto (celebrating the Jewish New Year) I decided I wanted something a little bit healthier to satisfy my sweet tooth. So here it is! My Plum & Apple crumble. Simple, delicious and on the healthier side (for a dessert). I decided to omit any refined sugars by using maple syrup and swapped out butter for coconut oil. You could even replace the flour with whole grain flour, spelt, kamut, wheat etc… if you want.

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This recipe would be delicious using any seasonal fruits you desire. Peaches, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb… the list goes on, but apple is a true classic, and tis the season!

For the Fruit Mixture

5 Cups of Sliced Apples (I used Macintosh but any cooking apple will do)

5 cups of Pitted and Sliced Plums

2/3 cup pure maple syrup (you can reduce this if your fruits have their own sweetness)

The Zest of 1/2 an Orange

The Zest of 1/2 a Lemon

1 1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg (or allspice)

For the Crumble

1 Cup of Old Fashioned Oats

1 Cup of All Purpose Flour

2/3 cup of maple syrup

1/4 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 cup Plus 1 Tblsp Coconut Oil

The Zest of 1/2 an Orange

The Zest of 1/2 a Lemon

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees

2. Peel, core and slice up your apples. Pit and slice up your plums and put them in a large mixing bowl. Add to this the maple syrup, lemon and orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg. Combine it all together until all the fruit is well coated.

3. In a separate bowl combine the oats, flour, maple syrup, baking powder and soda, orange and lemon zest and coconut oil together until well combined. The mixture should stick together when pressed into the palm of your hand.

4. Put the fruit mixture into a large casserole dish, then with a spoon or your hands (if they are very clean) evenly distribute the crumble so that it covers the whole surface of your dish. This s a rustic looking dessert so don’t worry too much about making this part perfect.

5. Bake for about 50 min or until the top is nice and golden brown and the fruits are soft and caramelized.

6. Enjoy on its own or with a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

What is your favourite fall recipe?

Salted Caramel Brownies

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Having been away for a few weeks it was really nice to come home to my parents place in the country and enjoy the peace and quiet these mountains have to offer. All I have wanted to do since I have been here is read this, practice my calligraphy and bake. I also got to enjoy a nice long walk yesterday. The sound of the birds and the rustling of the leaves was pretty therapeutic. This time of year is one of my favourites (even though I am a true summer girl at heart.) I absolutely love the changing of the leaves and the smell of fall. The air is crisp, the sun is still shining and yet you just want to layer up and get cozy! It’s the perfect balance, just like these salty sweet brownies.

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When I come across a recipe I love, I end up making it over and over and over again. I am kind of like that with everything to be honest. Yes, I am that person that will put her favourite song on repeat, what can I say, when I like something I can’t resist enjoying it, and this right here is one of those recipes. I have no shame, it’s so worth eating again and again…this one is a winner! The first time I came across this recipe I was beyond excited to try it, but when I saw that it required making homemade caramel, I thought “there is no way I can pull this off.” (I’ve had trouble with sugar at high temperatures in the past, let’s just leave it at that) But let me assure you, if you are feeling the way I felt, it’s really not as scary as it seems! I was so happy to discover that making caramel is actually one of the easiest things to do! I really want to try making other recipes with it now!

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I am heading to a big family dinner and wanted to bring something sweet for everyone to enjoy. I needed something that would be a crowd pleaser and was fairly easy to transport, since this said family dinner is in Toronto. I chose this recipe for many reasons. First of all it has an awesome balance of salty and sweet and it has these ooey, gooey salty caramel surprises in almost every bite! It also uses a one bowl brownie recipe, which is awesome. I am pretty messy in the kitchen so when it can all be done in one bowl I am pretty happy about it and so is Zack. He always complains that when I cook he has to clean up a storm, but when he cooks I get away with cleaning a few dishes and then get to put my feet up (I am working on it!) For this batch I decided I would double the original recipe since it was devoured within seconds of being put on the table at the last family dinner. I am hoping that this time there will be enough for everyone to enjoy! I also discovered that this recipe can be made without flour for a gluten-free alternative. It was a happy mistake but they turned out just fine! I think I will be making these for passover this year!

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Salted Caramel Brownies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Caramel
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or salted, but then ease up on the sea salt)
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or 1/8 teaspoon table salt, more to taste)
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Brownies
3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/8 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour (you can omit the flour if you want and they turn out just fine)

To Make the Caramel:
1. Prepare a medium sized plate by putting parchment paper that has been lightly buttered over it to prevent the caramel from sticking
2. In a medium dry saucepan melt the sugar over medium-high heat until its a deep copper colour. Stir if necessary to break up any sugar chunks that may form. (This will take about 5 minutes). Remove from heat once it has reached the desired colour and add in the butter string until incorporated. It may not entirely blend together but do your best. Now you can stir in the heavy cream and the salt and return to medium-high heat. Bring the mixture back up to a simmer and melt any sugar that may have solidified. Cook the bubbling caramel for a few minutes, until it is a shade darker.
3. Pour the hot mixture out onto the parchment-covered plate and transfer plate to your freezer. Freeze until solidified, which can take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.

To Make the Brownies
1. When your caramel is almost firm you can start by heating your oven to 350°F. Line an 8X8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper (in my case I used a bigger pan because I doubled the recipe), extending it up the two sides. You will want to butter the paper to insure the brownies don’t stick.
2. In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, add chocolate and butter and stir until only a few butter bits remain. The chocolate will be beautiful and silky smooth. Take the mixture off the heat and stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each. When the mixture is fully incorporated, whisk in the sugar sugar and then then eggs, one at a time. Then add the flour with a spoon or flexible spatula.

Assemble Brownies
1. When the caramel is firm, remove it from the freezer and chop it into rough 1-inch squares. Gently fold all but a small amount of caramel bits into the batter. Scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading until mostly even. Scatter remaining caramel bits on top. Bake in heated oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool thoroughly and enjoy!

TRENDING // Paint Splattered

An homage to Jackson Pollack, paint splattering is becoming a major trend in both fashion and home decor.  Have you been noticing it everywhere too? It’s so much fun! At first I was a little on the fence about this trend. If not done properly, paint splatter can just look plain messy, but when used just the right way it looks amazing and is a great way to add colour and a “splash” of fun to any space. I even think that paint splattered wallpaper would look amazing in a small powder room or as an accent wall. Check out this powder room, isn’t it gorgeous? Whether bold and graphic or delicate and painterly, paint splatter is making a mark!

I have gathered together a few paint splattered items that I really love, check them out.

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1. Coloured paint splatter pillow from Zazzle 
2. Blue Splatter 1/2 pint mug by Emma Bridgewater
3. Blue Splatter Dinnerware from West Elm
4. Paint Splattered Chocolate (that is ridiculously expensive but beautiful) from UNELEFANTE

What a great tablescape theme as well, look how beautiful this is.  I think this is going to be a new potential DIY project!

As an accent wall it looks great as well! I think I see a trend in the blue paint splatter being my favourite.

And finally, check out how nice these curtains look. Fun and classy all in one!

How do you feel about this trend? Love it or hate it?