Caught in a Snowstorm in Vermont

Hey guys! I hope you’re all doing great and just as excited as I am that March is just around the corner.

Although it’s hard to believe with insane amount of snow we got this week. I’m talking 51 cm of the white stuff! Welcome to Snowmaggedon, er I mean, Ottawa. 

We don’t usually get that much snow all month, let alone in one day. In fact, we broke a 60+ year record as Ottawa hasn’t seen this much snow fall on a single day since 1947! Not that I hate snow or anything, but this is a little bit much as far as I’m concerned.

Somehow our neighbouring cities got spared by a long shot as Montreal only got a whole 10 cm & Toronto got a whopping 5 cm of snow! So clearly this storm was AIMING straight for us. I don’t know what we did to deserve it, but it must have been pretty nasty. 

I can’t really complain though as it HAS been a very mild winter overall. And we’ve had very little snow–until this week, anyway. Guess it was payback time.

Speaking of snowstorms…

It was a beautiful afternoon in early January and I was standing outside the Best Western in Burlington (Vermont) when I suddenly felt a few snowflakes fall onto my face. Cowboy and I had just arrived here after a 3 1/2 hour-drive from Ottawa, apparently right in the nick of time.

After a busy holiday and a quiet start to the new year, Cowboy suggested we escape for the weekend for some R & R. Since I’m always up for a road trip (which probably comes to a surprise to absolutely no one reading this), I was already packing my bags. Although it was just a short trip, it was nice to have a change of scenery. Even if that meant one with more snow than what we have back home in Canada (ha ha…*sigh*)

We’d originally planned to head to out Friday night but because I’m a Weather Channel addict, I’d learned about an impending storm heading toward the East Coast later that day. Since it was a beautiful, sunny day in Ottawa we probably would have never seen it coming otherwise.

So Cowboy and I pulled some (work) strings and left in the afternoon instead as neither of us were excited about driving the mountainous roads of Vermont– in a blizzard. 

Which, ironically, is exactly what happened to us on our drive back to Ottawa a few days later (at least we didn’t get this both ways)

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(we couldn’t delay our trip back home as we had prior commitments, else we would have waited it out. Yep, this white-knuckle drive was totally fun!)

So, after we arrived in Burlington and checked into the hotel, Cowboy and I hopped back in the truck and headed downtown (about a 5-minute drive) to grab some dinner and roam around. This wee bit of snow isn’t gonna stop these hungry Canadians.

We choose the Vermont Pub and Brewery which has always been one of my go-to spots in Burlington. Although I’m a little less impressed than I used to be when I first starting coming here over 15 years ago, their brews are good and their food is decent and relatively cheap. The atmosphere is fun, too.

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This is Vermont’s oldest brewpub, as it’s been open for over 25 years now. It started out as a small brewing business in the late 80’s and eventually transformed into a full-fledged brewery and restaurant soon after.

You’ll find the odd kooky Canadian in here sometimes, too.

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After a bite to eat, we bundled up and set forth back outside. It snowed a heck of a lot just since we went into the pub for dinner. Even the cute little Christmas tree outside the pub was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the white stuff.

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The snow was getting a bit lighter now, so we decided to wander down main street to soak in the sights of this Winter Wonderland. I usually only come here in the summer, so I was really enjoying seeing Burlington at this time of year with all the Christmas lights and decorations, especially in all this snow.

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We walked down Church Street, the town’s main drag. It’s a pedestrian-only street with a church at either end of it– hence the name. With so many restaurants, pubs and shops, it was actually quite bustling (despite this picture) with locals and tourists alike enjoying the newly fallen snow. 

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I thought we were the hardcore ones because we were sightseeing in a storm, until I saw this guy. Yep, he’s driving his bike in the deep snow. He must be a Canadian (ha ha)

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A bunch of kids had made use of the snowbanks for a toboggan hill in the middle of the street (thankfully it’s a pedestrian one). It was pretty fun to watch them having a grand ol’ time. 

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When we decided it was time to head back to the hotel, it took us awhile to uncover the truck. By us, I mean Cowboy warmed up the car and cleaned it off while I got some fresh coffee.

He’s such a sweetie, I think I’ll keep him 🙂

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It was almost like we hadn’t seen a snowstorm before (ha ha). But pictures in a snowstorm are fun regardless, and I’m sure my southern U.S friends may appreciate these (since ya’ll probably rarely see snow).

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The next morning, we came outside to see this:

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Good thing I keep a shovel in the truck. The hotel had one available for guests to use too, which came in handy for a few southerners we chatted with who didn’t have one stored in their trunk.

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After we finally hauled the 15 feet of snow off the truck, we set out for downtown Burlington so we could have breakfast, do some shopping and wander around a bit now that more places were open.

It was like a ghost town now though, as it was snowing even harder now. For some reason, many of the people working at the various stores we popped into somehow knew that we are Canadians (??) . I guess it’s that obvious, eh? HA HA

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 Stay tuned for the next installement on our road trip to Stowe, Vermont..right after the storm. The sun came out and it was a beautiful day for a road trip…Woohoo!

Thanks for popping by guys, hope you aren’t feeling too cold reading this post. I’ll sign off with a cute picture of my doggie friends, who were the only ones who enjoyed the 50 cm of snow we got a couple of days ago! xo  Dana

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Black Forest Chocolate Cream Pie & Happy Chocolate Day

Hello friends! It’s that time of year again.Yep, chocolate will be half-price starting tomorrow…Yippee! I hope you’re all enjoying the day & weekend with your loved ones. And eating lots of chocolate, perhaps even a chocolate cream pie? Like this one…

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I’ve never been a huge Valentines Day fan, regardless of whether I’ve been single or in a relationship. I always found it overly commercial, but I’ll admit I do like the story/history of St Valentine.

When I used to work in restaurants, I was shocked at how many couples spent their Valentine’s Day dinners fighting or bickering. I’d estimate at least half my tables were having some unpleasant discussions during their meals. My guess is that it was either the pressure of trying to impress the other, or one’s expectations of the day were a little too high or optimistic. Or perhaps they were expecting more of a 4-course extravagant meal? I’ll bet there are many studies done on this.

Cowboy and I don’t really do much for Valentine’s Day as we both don’t really think it’s a big deal. But this was our first Valentines Day ever that we were both off work and so we got to spend the day together.

Yesterday we had the coldest weather we’ve had in 22 years! Yep, on Saturday morning it was actually colder here in Ontario than it was at the North Pole!! I only WISH I were kidding. It was -31 with a windchill of -41 in Ottawa (& Toronto). It was only -30 at the north pole, apparently (with the windchill). Clearly I need to head further north to get warmer weather. 

I laughed and almost snorted my coffee up my nose this morning when I read a twitter update from someone in York City freaking out that the windchill was -13! All I could think of is: “I’m heading to New York for some Spring weather!” (ha ha). It’s warmed up a lot since yesterday though, thankfully, and we’ve had an unusually warm winter overall (until yesterday) so I really can’t complain…much. 

So with today’s warmer weather, and a rare day off together, Cowboy and I went to see the ice sculptures at Winterlude. We timed it perfectly as the sculptures had been melting like crazy the past few weeks, but they’re back to normal now as they were fixed up a little, and the recent deep freeze helped keep them intact. 

They were pretty impressive! This hockey bear is totally Canadian…I love it. (I’ll have to admit, I’m also rather biased when it comes to Bears and hockey hehe).

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After walking around for awhile, it was time to warm up a little (it was still -25 with the windchill). So we headed to a nearby chocolate cafe (which had just recently opened) for a hot chocolate and a light lunch since we were getting hungry.

I may have had a bit of chocolate overload at this place (to help cope with the cold weather— um…yeah, that’s it). Is there even such a thing as a chocolate overload? (I wouldn’t know).

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This is my new happy place. I’m sure you can see why. It may or may not have something to do with my chocolate addiction.

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Later in the evening we went for Pizza and beer (wine for me) at a pub. Yep, only the fanciest Valentine’s Day dinner for us 😀

Big Rig is a fabulous local brewery with some of the best (pub) food in the city. Their pizza is incredible. And Cowboy’s friend works there too, so we had a nice visit with him. 

(I think I’ll be eating lots of salad and veggies this coming week to get re-healthified. My current diet is not overly paleo).

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To celebrate the festive holiday AND to cope with the cold weather, I thought it’d be a good idea to do some baking (because normally I hate it). So lo and behold, I made Cowboy a chocolate cream pie, with a twist. It’s got cherries on top! (it’s not just an expression)

Say hello to my Black Forest Chocolate Cream Pie. This one’s topped with a fresh (home-made) cherry filling and whipped cream.

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I love a homemade, diner-style chocolate cream pie. I generally don’t like mixing chocolate with fruit, but this was a fun change and a very tasty addition (especially if your cherry filling is homemade, as opposed to the nasty can stuff).

If you’re not a cherry fan, just leave it out as it’s just a topping that goes along with the whipped cream.The cherry filling in this recipe is the same one I use to make a fresh cherry pie (just a much smaller amount) and it’s scrumptious–especially with the subtle accents of cinnamon, lemon juice and vanilla thrown in there.

This chocolate cream pie is delicious either way, I hope you’ll like it. If you like Black Forest Cake, I think you’ll enjoy this dessert. Here’s the pie before adding all the stuff one top. You can even just add a strawberry for decoration.

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Even my little dog approves. Okay, she didn’t actually try the pie–since dogs can’t have chocolate–but she did an exceptional job guarding it. (much to Cowboy’s chagrin ha ha).

I hope you guys had a great weekend & Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget chocolate is half-price tomorrow! (be there or be square).

 Dana xo

 Black Forest Chocolate Cream Pie

Inspired & adapted from: Pie on Sunday
Makes one 8″ pie


Ingredients

Chocolate Filling:                                                                                                       2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch                                                                                         ½ teaspoon salt                                                                                                              4 egg yolks, room temperature                                                                              2 ½ cups milk (regular, coconut, cashew, etc– except almond milk which I find too thin).                                                                                             1/2 cup cream (or coconut cream, or reg milk is fine)                             1 cup chopped good quality chocolate preferably (or reg choc chips)                                                                                                                                    ½ teaspoon salt                                                                                                                1 Tablespoon dark cocoa                                                                                          1 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)
2 Tablespoons butter                                                                                                  2 Tablespoons vanilla bean extract (or reg vanilla extract)                                                                                                                                        Cherry Filling–for the top  (optional)                                                                2 cups fresh or frozen cherries                                                                            1/3 cup sugar                                                                                                                   1 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch                                                                                   2 teaspoons lemon juice                                                                                            1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, but delicious)                                           2 teaspoons vanilla

Cooked Pie Crust–homemade or store-bought (I prefer a chocolate cookie for this pie & gluten-free)                                   Whipped cream (or coconut whip)


Instructions                                                                                                 

Chocolate Filling:                                                                                                        1. In medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cocoa, espresso powder (optional), egg yolks, and salt. Slowly drizzle in milk (and cream–if using).                                                                                                             2. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for several minutes until mixture has thickened considerably.                                3.  Remove from heat and pour into a strainer/colander over a bowl (optional, but makes it smoother). Then immediately whisk in chocolate, butter and vanilla until chocolate is melted and it’s thoroughly mixed.                                                                                                       4.  Allow to cool for a few minutes then pour into cooked, cooled pie crust. Refrigerate for several hours (at least 4-6 hours is ideal).

Cherry Filling:  (optional)                                                                                          1. In medium saucepan mix cherries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice                                                                                                              2. Cook on medium heat stirring often until mixture starts to thicken and cherries have broken down (approx 5 minutes).            3. Let cool in fridge until pie has set.

When pie filling is ready, spoon cherry mix on top, and garnish with whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings. Enjoy! 

The Golden Gate Bridge…and football!

Hey guys! Did you enjoy the Superbowl last weekend? If you’re not a football lover, I hope you enjoyed the food–at the very least.

I’m a huge hockey fan (Go Bruins!) but I’ve started watching football too, since Cowboy’s a big fan. I’m not a complete stranger to the sport as I was on the girls’ Touch Football team in Junior High, and I used to played tackle football with my brother and his friends (ouch) growing up.

I also went to many Rough Rider games too, until our team suddenly disappeared in the mid ’90s. It’s back now though, under a new name (unfortunately) called ‘The Redblacks’. So now there’s no chance you can confuse us with Saskatchewan 😀

The Ottawa Rough Riders were formed in 1876, whereas the Regina Roughriders (later changed to Saskatchewan Roughriders) didn’t come onto the field until 1910. But since both teams played in different divisions across the country from one another, they never played each other until the CFL was formed in 1961. So the similar names (there’s a space between the Ottawa Rough Riders) wasn’t really a big deal. But when Ottawa’s team folded in 1996 and then came back in 2013, our team’s name changed. I’m just happy our city has football again! 

I enjoyed the Superbowl this past weekend and getting to see Peyton Manning (Broncos) win. And it’s even sweeter because this was likely Peyton’s last rodeo (as he’s presumably retiring), and this win means he’s finally tied with his (younger) brother for Superbowl rings. Now he can happily ride off into the sunset– at the age of 39! (like how I managed to connect football to my blog’s theme?) womp womp womp.

Okay, enough about football.

While watching the Superbowl coverage the last week—I promise this is no longer about football— I enjoyed seeing all the beautiful shots of San Francisco, which was home to this year’s Superbowl. It made me  reminisce about my road trip through California a few years ago. So I was then inspired to dig up some of my photos to share with you guys.

I’ll start with San Francisco, but don’t be surprised if you see posts from San Diego, the Big Sur and Hollywood in the near-ish future— since I’m on a roll (consider yourselves warned)

I was only in San Francisco for half a day–believe it or not–so I haven’t really seen the city. But at least I got to check out the gorgeous Bay and the famous bridge. Now, I bet you’re wondering: who in their right mind goes to San Francisco— for a few hours?  Before you go ahead and call me crazy(er), I promise I’ve got a good reason.

It was the summer of 2008 and my good friend Al and I were on a big road trip across the Western U.S. We hadn’t planned to hit the California coast at all, actually. We’d started our road trip in Vancouver, drove through Washington and Oregon, crossed over Northern Cali to Nevada, meandered around Arizona and only then, whilst in Tombstone contemplating where to go next, did we decide– on a whim– to drive to the coast.

It was a wonderful drive, and we’re glad we did it. But, by the time we arrived in San Francisco we had 2 days left to get back to Vancouver for our flight home. Of course that put a bit of a damper on our sightseeing and dilly-dallying.

But you can’t drive along the California coast and not see the world’s most photographed bridge, right?

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Hello San Francisco!

We’d left San Diego early that morning, stopped in Hollywood for the afternoon, and finally arrived in San Francisco late that night. We decided to stay for the night because we were exhausted, but also because we wanted to see the bridge, at the very least, while passing through the city.

It was sunny and beautiful when we got up the next morning and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We were both pretty excited since neither of us have been to San Francisco before and we didn’t get to see too much in the dark last night.

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As we got closer to the bridge, though, we started to see some fog.  Which started to block our nice view of the bridge in the distance. 

We were now getting formally introduced to the world-famous San Francisco Fog!

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As many of you probably know, San Francisco is known for its fog, and it’s worse during the summer months. It’s caused by inland heat combining with the cool water of the Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The cold water then cools the air above it, and since cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air, the moisture then condenses into fog.

Voila! The reason we couldn’t see the bridge anymore.

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The fact that San Francisco is bordered by water on all three sides  doesn’t help, either.

As we started to drive over the bridge, I felt like we were driving onto the set of a horror movie. It was pretty eerie going through it, but insanely cool at the same time.

Sure we get a little fog back home once in a while (usually early in the morning–which is why I rarely see it–haha) so I’ve seen fog before. But nothing like this.

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I love how the fog drifted dreamily through the bridge and completely surrounded us. My imagination then suddenly went into overdrive and I started thinking about different scenes from horror movies that my friends have made me watch over the years. There is a reason I can’t stand horror movies, and it might have to do with the fact that I couldn’t sleep for 3 years after seeing Amityville Horror when I was just 8 years-old.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about (even with Al beside me). As we approached the mid-point of the bridge, the fog suddenly started to dissipate and we could see blue sky again. And, more importantly, the view of the bridge and the bay! It was fabulous.

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It was even cooler that we got to experience the fog lifting right as we were crossing the bridge. And then we got to see the view at the tail end of it. We couldn’t ask for better luck than that.

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I love how striking the bridge looks against the brilliant blue sky.

I later learned that the bridge’s colour (called ‘International orange’) was actually the colour of the primer that was put on when the bridge was first built. The consulting architect (Irving Morrow) liked how the colour complemented the natural surroundings, so he decided to keep that colour scheme. It was probably a good call because the vibrant colour also helps make the bridge more visible in fog.

When we crossed the bridge, we arrived at the ‘Golden Gate National Recreation Area”. This was a perfect stop because I was hoping we could park somewhere so we could walk around a little.

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There was still a bit of fog in a few spots, but it had mostly evaporated from the late morning sun.

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The park was super busy with many other tourists who were just as excited as we were to finally be here.

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This is Joseph B. Strauss, who built the bridge in 1937. Sadly, he died a year later.   

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The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge ever built when it was completed in 1937. It spans the Golden Gate (hence the name), which is the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. It’s now, of course, one of the most recognized symbols of the city, and is one of the most visited (and photographed) bridges in the world.

While we walked around and got a bit closer to the water, I got a nice shot of this boat coming down the Bay. It shows just how massive this bridge really is.

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When we were here in San Francisco, it was mid July. So, being in sunny California in the middle of summer, you’d think it’d be warm–right? Look at the fleece jacket Al is wearing. BRR!

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It was surprisingly chilly (even though it was almost noon) and very windy. We walked onto the bridge for awhile, but we eventually turned back because of the heavy winds and the damp chilly air.

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We were then told by a local that, like many tourists, we wrongly assumed that: “It’s California, in July…it’s gotta be hot, right?” 

Nope. It’s actually quite cool here during the summer because of the ‘natural air conditioning’. When the hot inland air (from surrounding cities) rises and the heavier cold ocean air rushes in to replace it, this causes a cool breeze. And a rather damp one at that, I thought.

Thank goodness we packed pants and jackets. I felt bad for the folks we saw hopping off the tour buses in shorts and flip-flops. Yikes!

Apparently Mark Twain once said that the coldest winter he ever spent was during the summer in San Francisco! (HA). Well, I’ve been here for half a day and I can see why 😉

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Part of the reason it seemed extra cold to us, I think, was because just yesterday we were sweating in the scorching heat of the desert (near San Diego). So we hadn’t had much of a chance to get acclimated yet. As a result, this felt like Fall to us.

Speaking of Fall, we were also told that September (or October) is THEE time to come for ‘summer’ weather in San Francisco. Apparently it’s much warmer then than it is in July or August. So, keep that in mind if you’re heading to San Francisco. If you go in the summer, pack lots of fall clothing (you’ll be glad you did). 

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Now, before Al and I hop back in the car to start our trek northward, I think I’m off to find a nice cup of hot chocolate to warm up.

Thanks for reading everyone! I can’t wait to get back there so I can actually see the city, the cool neighbourhoods, do a trolley ride, try all the amazing food that I’ve heard so much about, check out Alcatraz…and more! If you’ve been, I’d love to hear about your trip (and I’d love to hear your suggestions).

Stay tuned for more stories and photos from the gold coast! Hope you’re all doing great!

Love, Dana xo

Yummy (& Slightly Paleo) Carrot Cake

 Hi Guys. Happy National Carrot Cake Day!

Well it was officially yesterday, so I guess I’m a little late for the party. I’d say that I’m fashionably late, but if you know me you’ll know the fashion part isn’t really all that accurate. (he he)

We don’t observe Carrot Cake Day here in Canada, technically, as it’s a U.S-based ‘holiday’ (well, not a ‘real’ holiday– at least I don’t think?), but I like the idea of supporting our American friends by celebrating ‘Carrot Cake Day’ with them over a slice of this delicious dessert.

Who’s with me?

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As ya’ll probably know, I’m an extreme chocoholic, but I do love me a piece of carrot cake every now and then (yep, even though it doesn’t contain chocolate).

Apparently carrot cake—or some version of it, anyway—has been around since the Middle Ages! It was probably more of a pudding-style dessert than an actual cake, and likely didn’t contain much sugar either as sweeteners were quite rare (and very expensive) during those days. I’m pretty sure they didn’t smother their carrot ‘dessert’ with mounds of fluffy cream cheese icing back then, either. 

While this frumpy, yet moist and delicious, spice cake is very tasty on its own, the cream cheese frosting that now commonly adorns it is almost mandatory. I know a few folks who only eat carrot cake as an excuse to eat the frosting! (crazies)

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I used to think carrot cake was healthy because it’s made with carrots.  Since it’s made with a vegetable, it’s gotta be healthier- right? Um, not really….

It wasn’t until I started making it that I realized many carrot cake recipes called for the same amount of sugar I’d put in a chocolate cake or my fudge brownies. So to keep up with my theory that it’s supposed to be healthier, I just halved the sugar and it still tasted great! I even forgot the sugar entirely a couple times– by accident (which I’ve never done with any of my other baked goods). But at least I had the yummy frosting to make those cake fails edible.

Recently I’ve been baking more Paleo desserts and have been surprised by how good they’ve turned out. I like that they’re usually slightly healthier as they usually have less sugar and little-to-no gluten/grains as well. My first few carrot cakes were okay, but I tweaked my recipe a bit more and ended up with this one, which I’m very happy with. My awesome taste-testers, most of whom are NOT following a Paleo or gluten-free diet, very much enjoyed it. Woo hoo!

Don’t let the words ‘healthy’ or ‘Paleo’ scare you from trying this. The ingredients are not that different than a regular carrot cake, but you will need coconut flour and almond flour for this recipe. If you’ve got a coffee grinder, you can just grind up a handful of almonds to make an instant flour (but just grind it briefly–or you’ll end up with almond butter).

You’ll find coconut flour in the ‘organic’ section of your grocery store or try your favourite bulk food store where you can just get a small amount. That’s probable more ideal as this recipe only calls for a quarter of a cup (or a half cup if you double it).

I hope you enjoy it and Happy Carrot Cake baking/eating 😀  xo

My Delicious Paleo-ish Carrot Cake

Inspired & adapted from: The Primal Palate and The Healthy Foodie
Makes one 8″ cake (but can be easily doubled if you want to do a 2-layer cake)


Ingredients

¾ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour                                                                                           ½ cup arrowroot starch (or any starch: potato/corn/tapioca)                 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon                                                                                     3 eggs, room temp                                                                                                ½ cup maple syrup or honey (or ¾ cup brown sugar mixed with 2 Tbsp water)                                                                                                                      8 Tablespoons coconut oil or melted butter                                                    1 Tablespoon vanilla bean extract (or regular vanilla)                                   1 1/3 cup grated carrots                                                                                       ½ cup shredded coconut (*optional, but delicious)                                     ¼ cup diced pineapple (I’ve used chopped banana or apple in a pinch)


Instructions                                                                                                  1. Preheat Oven to 350F. Grease an 8″ pan (I like to use a round one)    2. In medium bowl, mix together coconut and almond flours, arrowroot starch, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.         3. In large bowl, beat eggs with a hand mixer until blended, about a minute or so. The add maple syrup (or other sweetener), coconut oil or butter, vanilla bean extract and beat the mixture for a couple of minutes until well  mixed.                                                                                                  4. Slowly add the flour mixture and blend by hand just until the flour is mixed in. Let sit for a few minutes so that the flours (especially the coconut flour) absorbs the liquids. I do this with most of my gluten-free baking.                                                                                                                    5. Fold in carrots, pineapple and shredded coconut (if using).                  6. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting with your favourite cream cheese frosting (I often use whipped coconut cream– delicious and a lot less sweet).           7. If desired, sprinkle with walnuts, grated carrot and shredded coconut.

Gaming, Steampunk and Geeks: My first Sci-fi Convention


I think I’m officially a geek now.

Okay, I might be one regardless, but after spending a whole weekend at a Sci-Fi Gaming Convention, I certainly felt geek-ier.

When you’ve got photographic evidence of time spent with Captain Kirk, it’s probably obvious you’ve got a fondness for all things geek. (have I mentioned I’m a bit of a Trekkie?)

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I may or may not have spent an entire afternoon at the Star Trek Experience in Vegas a few years ago. Sadly, it’s now closed, but I’m happy I got there before it did. Unlike the Back to the Future ride that I’m still crying about–which was at Universal for over 15 years, and I somehow missed it by a few days!! (*sigh*).

Anyway, Kirk and I chatted a bit and then he took me on a private tour of the Enterprise, which was really nice of him considering I’m not even his type (um, green?). He is quite the charmer, that’s for certain.

The best part of this photo? I actually look like the normal one in a picture for once. Yeah!!

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So, clearly I’ve got a bit of geek background. But from what I’ve heard, you’re not *technically* a geek until you go to your first Sci-Fi Gaming Convention. Well, if you insist….

My good friend Al, who you’ve seen in many of my stories on here, is a quite the hardcore geek gamer himself and some of his gaming buddies told him about TempleCon, a convention that takes place each year in Rhode Island. Since he was just starting to get into board game design, he thought this would be fun to check out. He asked if I’d like to come along (hello? Road trip!)

But–before I packed my bags, I decided I’d better check out the convention’s website, just to make sure it wasn’t anything ‘too weird’ (’cause as ya’ll know, I’m plenty weird enough). That’s when I learned Templecon is a ‘Geek Convention for Grown Ups’–a weekend chock-full of gaming, awesome costumes, live music and a Steampunk theme! The time-travel(ish) theme alone sold me. I was totally in.

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Plus the idea of being completely outnumbered by guys for a whole weekend too didn’t sound all that bad either 😀

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It also helped that we were smack-dab in the middle of the winter so the idea of going even a wee bit south was sorely tempting. Now I know Rhode Island ain’t no Florida, but just the idea of being able to ditch my ski jacket and long johns for a few days sounded too good to pass up. I was ready to get my geek on!

We happily left Ottawa in a snowstorm (and sub-zero temperatures) and when we arrived in Providence, Rhode Island–about 7 hours or so later– we were greeted with a balmy 10 C ( 50 F) and, even better: NO SNOW!

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It felt like Florida to me. Hello Spring…

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You know you’re in for a pretty exciting weekend when you’re greeted by these guys in the hotel lobby.

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Don’t let their scary costumes fool you, these dudes were the biggest teddy bears around (shh! don’t tell them I said that). At first I thought the hotel was going a little overboard with the security, so I nervously showed them my hotel key and convention badge–which made them chuckle quite a bit. I ended up chatting with them a lot over the weekend, they were so much fun.

TempleCon, which began over a decade ago, is much bigger than we expected. Apparently it attracts over 3,000 people every year from all over the world! And they’ve got every game imaginable here including Magic, Dungeons & Dragons (and other role-playing games), Warhammer, strategic war games and a huge variety of board games, too.

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After checking in, we went up to our rooms to drop off our bags. This is one of the signs we saw taped to the door in the elevator:

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I dunno, but I think it might be wise of the General to stay in hiding and not come to this convention. It doesn’t bode well for him right now, I fear.

This convention is big business for this hotel (the Crowne Plaza– which is located in Warwick, just outside Providence) especially since it takes place in the middle of winter (low season)–Note: it’s changing this year from February to August, see the end of my post for link and more details.

So, the hotel goes all out for the event-goers, including a free hot chocolate bar in the lobby!!!  This was turning out to be a dangerous weekend indeed.

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I may or may not have skipped the hot chocolate part and dove right into the chocolate toppings. Because we all know what a chocoholic  rebel I am.  

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The hotel also has a fitness centre, a pool, a really funky library-themed bar and a fancy restaurant as well (all on-site).  Somehow Al and I managed to get free breakfast coupons from the concierge, which got us a delicious sit-down (hot) breakfast in the morning. Sweet! 

For some reason our server was a little afraid of Al. I think it may have been his shirt (but there may be other reasons).

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Al was pretty keen to get started with some gaming. But first, a photo at the ‘grand entrance’:

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He took a snap of me, too…just to prove I was here.

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While Al got involved in a game right away, I meandered around the hotel checking out all the game rooms and chatting with several people who were milling about. Everyone here was really friendly and welcoming. Since many of the folks who were here are now regulars, they knew we were newbies.

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The convention is spread all over the hotel (which is gigantic) so there’s lots to see and do. I did more socializing than gaming, not too surprisingly, since I am a bit of an amateur gamer. Although I’m getting into it more since Al now designs board games.

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This was one of my favourite parts of the convention. It’s a craft sale  that takes place in different rooms all along the first floor of the hotel.

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Essentially each of the rooms have turned into shops for artisans to sell their wares. And, as an added bonus, the folks with these rooms don’t have to go far when it’s time for a nap (or a good night’s sleep), assuming they didn’t load their beds up with too much with all their products that they don’t have space to lie down.

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We had fun chatting with many of the different artisans, all of whom were super nice.

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This guy was a real hoot and quite eccentric. I felt like we were chatting with Jules Verne himself.

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He showed us his assortment of steampunk themed glasses, which were pretty neat.

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Not-so-modern technology was on display as well. This is one old record player!  I had wondered if it did sell in the end, I forgot to check at the end of the weekend.

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There were quite a few folks selling hand-made clothing and crafts here, too.

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Even though we didn’t show up in costume (as it’s not required) there are lots of great steam punk/Renaissance-themed clothing here, should you come in a t-shirt and jeans but decide you want to be a steam punk princess for the weekend instead.

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After a full day of roaming around and socializing (and gaming for Al), we decided to take a break and head into Providence (about a 10 minute drive) for a bite to eat.

We choose the Union Station Brewhouse as we figured it’d be a great spot to try some local beers. Not to mention it’s housed in an old train station, which was really neat. If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you may have noticed that I love pubs & restaurants that are in old historic buildings (such as Department stores or a Post office).

Al really loved the bread that came before our dinner. Maybe too much.

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He ordered the pot pie, which is one of his favourite meals ever! This one was delicious, I might have stole a bite or two when he wasn’t looking.

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I think they’re planning to use this picture of Al in their upcoming restaurant brochure.

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After dinner, we walked around downtown for a while and checked out  Federal Hill, a popular street in Providence which is chock full of restaurants. We stopped for coffee and dessert before heading back to Warwick.

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They have an outdoor skating rink here in Downtown Providence, too, which is pretty cool.

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Al enjoyed the break from the gaming (he gets headaches sometimes from concentrating too long), so he was ready to get back to the convention.

We spent the next morning (Sunday) gaming, but then we decided to start packing it in around noon as we had a 7-hour drive ahead of us. While it was only a brief getaway, we really enjoyed the convention and the warmer weather, too.

If you’re an avid gamer and live close to New England, you might really like TempleCon. You don’t have to commit to an entire weekend either as they have day passes, which will give you a taste of it before getting a full weekend pass. The convention has also moved dates this year from its usual early February time-slot to August (25th-28th).

I recently found out they now have a retro video game section as well, which I know I would have LOVED! But given that I used to be a video game addict (back in the 80s) it’s probably good that they didn’t have the arcade when we were there. I probably would have done more Pac-Man and a lot less socializing 😀

Thanks for getting geeky with me and have a great week everyone!

xo Dana

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Sedona: This Place Really Rocks!

I can’t believe I’ve had this blog for nearly 2 years now and haven’t told you guys about one of my favourite places in all my road trippin’  around North America. Cra–zy!  I think it’s about time I rectified this.

So, why don’t we hop in the car and head to the American southwest, shall we?

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict that you’re probably not too surprised to learn that one of my favourite spots on this continent is in the Wild West. Because even if you’re new here (hello, and welcome!), you’ve probably figured that out already 😀

After a few days of traipsing around Utah and the Grand Canyon, my road trip buddy Al and I arrived in Sedona, a small town in Northern Arizona (just south of the Grand Canyon).

This is the view that graced our windshield as we drove into Sedona:

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I’d finally arrived in the Wild West! (Yee haw). But even if you’re not the wannabe cowgirl I am, don’t worry…you will still love this place. If anything, for the scenery–which looks straight out of an old Western.

As soon as we got here I completely understood why this ‘desert-meets-the-forest’ town is considered by many to be one of ‘America’s Most Beautiful Destinations’.  The vibrant colours of the rocks looming imperiously against an endless blue sky are just breathtaking.

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Sedona sits right beside a Ponderosa Pine forest (to the north) and is also completely surrounded by a geological wonderland that is filled with incredible red rock formations that ranges from buttes, canyon walls, pinnacles and hoodoos. Some of them are almost 7,000 ft high!

It’s one of the most striking places I’ve seen in all my travels across America.

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You can’t help but feel like you’ve just been transported to another planet. I half-expected to (**Trekkie alert**) run into Captain Kirk wandering around searching for Gorn (no luck…dang!)

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The magnificent red and orange sandstone that comprises the area around Sedona is known as ‘The Schnebly Hill formation’, which is only found in this area. So, the fact that it’s very unique makes this place even more special.

As bit of a geology freak, I was in my glory here.

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Just when I thought this town couldn’t be any more picturesque, the sun started to set. Then the rocks slowly started to glow in a gazillion different shades of reds and oranges, heavily saturated by the early evening sun. It certainly was a sight to behold.

I suspect that even if I wasn’t a photo nut, I’d still be inspired to take a million photos here.  In fact, I don’t think we ran into anyone who didn’t have their cameras out at all times (more like their iPhones these days, of course, but this was a dozen years ago).

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We decided to sign up for a Jeep Tour as we heard many of the areas  are restricted to the public without a guide. A couple of our fellow travelers recommended Pink Jeep Tours so that’s the company we decided on. I’m glad we did though because our tour was fantastic (post coming soon!).  It’s a wee bit pricey–ranging from $50-100 depending on the type/length of tour, but it’s so worth it.

If you do the jeep tour on your visit here, be sure to choose the evening tour so you can catch sunset on the rocks. I recommend booking ahead though, as this is the most popular time-slot…for good reason.

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Words can’t describe the beauty of this area at sunset, especially as we got closer to the rocks.

So, I’ll just show you some of the pretty photos I took from the jeep:

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After we headed toward the rock formations, the tour guide stopped the jeep and let us out to walk around. I must have taken 800 pictures just on this tour. (maybe more…).

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I didn’t realize until later that night that there was a thumbprint on my camera lens, which also resulted in a blurry spot in many of my photos from this tour. I figured I must have accidentally touched my lens during the bumpy jeep ride. Oops! (you can see the blurry spot in the picture of “Al the Sasquatch’–haha— above) EEEK! Curses. Grrr….

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At least some of the pictures worked out. It helps if you take a few hundred pictures of the same thing 😀

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This incredible scenery also draws a huge New Age crowd here to Sedona. Native Americans have long considered this place to have spiritual Vortexes–concentrations of electromagnetic energy within the rocks. Apparently (as I didn’t notice it myself, but I wasn’t here too long–if that makes a difference), the energy helps facilitate mediation and healing.

In 1987, the Harmonic Convergence (a global meditation event) took place here in Sedona which resulted in hordes of believers flocking to the area in hopes for an awakening of love and harmony (and possibly a few UFO sightings– right, Mulder?). Eventually word got out and folks started making the pilgrimage to Sedona. It also attracted several alternative medicine doctors, psychics and tour companies to set up shop here.

This is one attraction in Sedona you don’t want to miss: The Chapel of the Holy Cross. Yep, it’s a church built right into one of the Buttes!

Not something you see everyday. How cool is this?

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But even if you’re not a New Age enthusiast (or a UFO-seeker), there is still tons to see and do in Sedona including hiking, swimming, biking, jeep tours and shopping.

Downtown Sedona is your typical small town… but with way better scenery. It also has an eclectic collection of funky new age shops, craft stores and restaurants on the main drag. And a few cool sculptures, too.

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Being a popular tourist town, it’s a wee bit expensive here in Sedona. We got fairly luck though, as we were here in the middle of summer (low-season) so the hotel rates weren’t actually that bad. You know it’s pretty hot though when all the locals had fled town in search of higher elevation (and thus, cooler temperatures).

I actually loved the heat here. But that’s mostly because ‘it’s a dry heat’. Yes it’s a cliché, most definitely, but I much prefer it to the awful humidity we get back home (Great Lakes area) or, more so, in the Deep South. My first visit to Memphis was during the month of August which was almost unbearable. Needless to say, the next time I ventured that far south, it was early Spring.

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Both Al and I were getting pretty hungry so we decided to find a spot for a coffee and some lunch. We found a nice little cafe that had a gigantic deck with plenty of tables. It was perfect!

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You can’t beat this view whilst relaxing in the sun over a cuppa java. Not too shabby at all.

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My local Starbucks doesn’t have nearly as nice of a view as this (or any view, really). No wonder everyone who comes to Sedona wants to suddenly move here. Until they see the real estate prices (HOLY COW!!).

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After relaxing, caffeine-ing it up and soaking in the scenery, we hopped back on the road and headed to Red Rock State Park– just outside Sedona–for a short hike. We were only here for two days, unfortunately, so we had to try to cram in as much as we could in a short amount of time.

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After a fairly extensive hike, we were a little tired and slightly sunburned (luckily we brought tons of water—a must ’round these parts) so we decided to head back to town for a refreshing swim at the hotel.

For dinner that evening, we decided to check out the local brew pub. Oak Creek Brewery is located in historic Tlaquepaque, an Arts and Crafts Village in Sedona with several unique shops, native crafts and a few restaurants. It’s definitely a great spot to check out if you’re visiting Sedona.

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The pub was relatively quiet, too (low season does come in handy!) so we didn’t have to wait long for a table. And we got to sit on the patio, too, which was wonderful. The food was your fairly standard pub food–not bad, but not amazing either, but the beers were delicious!

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This is what happens when you give Al a beer. He certainly had fun though…just in case you couldn’t tell. (plus, he thinks he’s number 1!!)

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Even though I’m an avid sun-worshiper, I’ll admit that I was quite happy to see the sun go down finally (man, I never thought I’d utter those words). While sitting on the patio at the brewpub after sunset, we could see why star-gazing is pretty popular here. The brilliant night sky was just incredible. You know it’s pretty spectacular when they host ‘Star Parties’ around these parts regularly (and I don’t mean ‘celebrity sightings’, either)

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on our Oak Creek Hike AND the Jeep Tour.

Thanks for reading guys, especially if you made it this far. I hope I’ve inspired you to check out Sedona. If you’ve been to Sedona, I’d love to know what you thought of this town. We can compare notes 🙂

Hope you’re all doing great!

Cheers, Dana xo

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New Year and Coconut Cupcakes (My first recipe!)


Happy New Year, guys!  I hope your holidays were fabulous. While they were way too short (aren’t they always?), I certainly enjoyed a break from work…and the never-ending baking I was doing leading up to Christmas. I must have baked over 300 doggie biscotti! While I was exhausted by the time the holidays arrived, the dogs were pretty happy.

How is it already mid-January already? (Crazy!).

I thought I’d start the new year off with something a little different on here: a recipe! I know that I usually just share road trip stories with you guys, but because I don’t globe-trot as much as some folks do, I thought I’d branch out a bit and include some of my other love with you, too:  FOOD. And more specifically…Baking.

Like these. Coconut Cupcakes, anyone?

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Because when I’m not on the road, you can usually find me in my kitchen baking up a storm.

I’ve run a dog bakery here in my hometown (for over a decade) and I now bake for humans as well, too (but not dog cookies, don’t worry). I also do some recipe-testing on the side, which I’ve discovered I love. I got my first crack at it last year helping fellow blogger Anna (of The Yellow Table) with her fabulous Kickstarter-boosted cookbook. It was a blast!

I’ve been thinking of starting a food blog for awhile, but two blogs sounds like way too much work. And, since many of my favourite bloggers cover several different things on their blogs, I figured a mix of food and travel was a great idea. One of the very first blogs I ever started reading (The Pioneer Woman) writes about everything on her blog including food, travel, her ranch, homeschooling and decorating (to name but a few) and she’s got more followers than most (if not, all?) bloggers on the interweb.  So having variety can’t hurt your blog too much, right?

If food isn’t your thing, don’t worry– you’ll still see plenty of travel stories on here. I hope you’ll stick around, and maybe even enjoy a brownie whilst carousing my travel stories.

I bake mostly gluten-free these days, but that’s just because I’ve discovered I’m fairly gluten-intolerant (makes me burp like a trucker, it ain’t pretty). So, over the last few years I’ve done a lot of experimenting in attempt to create gluten-free versions of all my ol’ favourites. As a result, I’ve discovered my niche: baking for those with allergies or on special diets such as grain-free, nut-free, dairy-free, vegan, AIP, FODMAP and Paleo. It can be challenging, but I love it.

If you don’t need to avoid gluten, just substitute regular flour for the GF flour mix in my recipes.

Okay, without further ado…. let’s make some cupcakes!

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I’ve been trying to come up with a good gluten-free vanilla cupcake for a while now and I think this is it. It’s funny because I’m a HUGE chocoholic, but when it comes to cupcakes I actually prefer vanilla. (Crazy, I know…)

These cupcakes are fairly light and fluffy (even for gluten-free) and taste just like a regular cupcake (pretty close, anyway). My friends (who are also my taste-testers– *hi guys!*) tell me they don’t really notice a difference at all (Woo hoo!).

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If you’re not a fan of coconut, just substitute the coconut milk with another milk of your choice, and skip the shredded coconut. These are great topped with my fave coconut buttercream (recipe below), regular vanilla buttercream or a simple coconut whipped cream (great if you’re trying to eat fewer carbs). I find there’s enough sweetness in the cupcake, so the whip cream is a nice contrast.

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I’ve discovered the secret to a great buttercream that I thought I’d share with you guys (in case I’m not actually the last person to know about this–haha): whip it like no one’s business. Yep, it is time consuming (I usually beat it for 5-8 minutes), but it really makes a difference. The extra mixing yields a frosting a little more like a Swiss Buttercream–which uses egg whites to get that light, creamy texture (many professional bakers use this type of frosting). But since I’m not a big fan of egg whites (see here and here, lest your curious), I rarely make that version.

Thanks for reading and checking out my first food post, guys! I hope you enjoy the cupcakes. Please do let me know if try them.  Dana xo

Vanilla Bean & Coconut Cream Cupcakes

Inspired & adapted from: Sally’s Baking Addiction and Add a Pinch
Makes 12 Cupcakes  


Ingredients

1 ½ cups Gluten-Free flour (this is a good one)
¾ to 1 cup sugar (I generally lean on ¾ cup, but I like a less sweet cupcake)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if it’s in your flour mix)
½ teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons coconut oil, room temp*
2 large eggs, room temp
½ cup coconut milk (can is best, but carton is fine).
1 Tablespoon vanilla bean extract (or reg vanilla)
Shredded unsweetened coconut– for sprinkling on top (toast the coconut for a more wonderful flavour)
*if coconut oil is liquid, place in fridge until it’s soft and butter-like in consistency. Or, use butter/shortening instead. 


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
2. In medium bowl add flour mix and whisk well (I always whisk gluten-free flour really well first), then add sugar, baking powder and salt.
3. Add coconut oil (or butter, if using) to the flour/sugar mixture and, with a hand mixer, beat on low-speed until thoroughly mixed. It will be crumb-like in texture, similar to coarse sand. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until blended.
4. Pour in the vanilla and then slowly add coconut milk. Beat on medium for about a minute or so, until batter is fairly smooth (since GF flours don’t contain gluten, you don’t have to worry too much about over-mixing). If batter’s too thick, gradually add an extra couple of teaspoons milk (you probably won’t have to add extra milk if you’re using reg vanilla extract). Batter should resemble a soft frosting when it comes together.
5. Fill liners with batter to almost ¾ full. Bake for about 17-20 minutes–but I usually check them in about 15 minutes. When they’re slightly golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, they’re done. Allow them to cool completely.
6. Frost with coconut buttercream (below) or your favourite frosting.

Coconut Buttercream


Ingredients

½ cup butter, softened (room temp)
½ cup coconut oil (place in fridge if it’s liquid, until it reaches a butter-like texture)
2 to 2-½ cups icing sugar (start with 2 cups and add more if needed).
¼ tsp sea salt
1 TBSP vanilla bean extract
2 TBSP coconut milk (or, even better, coconut cream).


Instructions

1. Using a mixer, beat the butter and coconut oil on high for a minute or two.
2. Turn speed to low and add confectioners sugar–but only a half cup at a time to  gradually incorporate the sugar into the butter/oil. Add salt.
3. Slowly mix in vanilla and coconut milk (or cream) and continue to beat on medium-high for a minute or two. After it comes together, increase speed to high and continue to beat for several more minutes (aim for 5 or more minutes, for best results).
4. Frost cupcakes and top with shredded toasted coconut, if desired.

Enjoy!! xo

Holiday Fun, Baking and… Scam Artists?


Hey Guys! Happy Christmas Week!!

I hope the start of your holidays is very merry and bright. And with lots of festive spirit, too!  (Peppermint mochas, wine or eggnog anyone?).

Although this is generally a busy travel season for many, I don’t tend to travel at Christmas very often at all. I sometimes get outta dodge shortly after Christmas, as work is generally slow, but I rarely travel for the holidays. My family always stayed home for the holidays, with the exception of a few years ago when we went to Florida for Christmas. It was a nice change but we felt like we’d missed Christmas completely that year. Plus it was only 8 degrees in Orlando when we got there, so not much warmer than Ottawa at all. (kinda defeats the point of going south in the winter).

The few weeks leading up to Christmas is generally my busiest time of year, so I’m happy to stick close to home anyway. I bake LOTS of fun treats for clients, friends and orders, too. So I spent an insane amount of time in my kitchen baking up a storm (which I love).

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I like to bake a few extra batches of cookies for the soup kitchen at the church in my ‘hood during the holidays, too. Many of the regulars who pop in for a hot coffee and a nice bowl of soup really appreciate homemade treats when they can get them. Particularly at this time of year when Christmas goodies (for them) are, sadly, few and far between.

I’m doing a couple of craft shows this year, too, which I’m really enjoying. I haven’t done any in a lonnnnnng time, so I’d forgotten how much I like doing them.

When it’s at a pet-friendly venue, I bring my guard dog with me. Just in case someone wants to buy something from me (ha ha).

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So, let me tell you about the Christmas Craft Sale I was supposed to do this past weekend (yep, the last Saturday before Christmas). I saw an Ad on Kijiji (you can probably guess where this is going) and although I’m usually very paranoid/suspicious about paying for anything online (I don’t even do online-banking), I ended up sending an e-transfer to a craft sale ‘organizer’ for an event which turned out to be a fake.
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Coffee, Hikes & Leaves: A Roadtrip in New England

Hi Guys!

I hope all my American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I can’t believe ours was almost two months ago….holy cow! Then again we Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving practically as soon as summer’s over. My hometown team, The Redblacks, lost in the Grey Cup (our version of the Superbowl) yesterday, unfortunately, but it was pretty exciting nonetheless. I hope your weekend was a good one, too.

Now that November is almost over (wait what??) I thought I’d better hurry up and share a Fall-themed road trip with you guys. How does a trip to New England sound? Grab your pumpkin latte or apple cider and let’s hop in the car. We’re going to do some Leaf Peeping.

While I’m not a huge fan of Fall, at all, there is one thing I do like about the season: the changing leaves. And judging by the millions of other tourists who flock to New England every Fall too, I’m clearly not alone. 

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Leaf Peepin’ is big business in New England. Particularly in Vermont where you’re bound to find some of the most spectacular colours anywhere in the country. I think it’s safe to say that money really does grow on trees ’round these parts, especially in October when tourists come here in droves.

Vermont happens to be one of my favourite States too, so it usually doesn’t take much arm-twisting to convince me to head there any time of the year, let alone when the mountains are completely ablaze in vibrant reds, burnt oranges and dazzling yellows.

 The show is spectacular.

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I’ve been to Vermont several times but mostly in the summer (and twice at Christmas), but I haven’t been there in the Fall yet, for some reason. It was about time I rectified this!

So with a rare weekend off-work, my good friend AL and I decided to take a day trip to Vermont (it’s only a 3-hour drive from Ottawa).

I wasn’t really expecting to be blown away by the colours here at all, but that’s only because we get our share of spectacular foliage at home. So, you know it’s gonna take some pretty nice lookin’ leaves to impress me (ha ha).

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When we arrived in Vermont, however, my expectations were surpassed—by a long shot.  This place is incredible in the Fall. The colours of the leaves are so vibrant that it’s almost surreal.
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It’s Leaf Peepin’ Time in Ottawa


Hey Guys! 

I hope you had a Spooktacular Halloween and your Fall season is off to a great start. Hopefully you haven’t gotten any of the dreaded white stuff yet. We got snow around Halloween last year and it was just the beginning of an unusually long, and much colder-than-usual winter (I’m still having nightmares about it, ugh!).

It’s supposed to get warmer this week so not much snow in the immediate horizon for us.  In fact, it’s supposed to be 15 degrees (60F) over the next couple of days. Woohoo! I might even go for a swim.

I’m not a big fan of Fall at all, but I especially don’t like seeing the end of Daylight Saving time (wahhh!) and it starts getting dark by 4pm. Curses! Whoever came up with that idea (to end Daylight Saving Time, not the concept itself) must have had a few loose screws. I suspect he/she was a vampire, but that might be because I watched too much Buffy back in the day.

As much as I don’t like Fall, Ill admit there is one nice thing about it: the changing leaves. We’ve had some spectacular colours this year in particular, so I’ve decided to share some snaps of my hometown with you guys. I figured my Southern U.S and European friends, in particular, might enjoy seeing some of our Fall Splendour.

It’s only been the last couple of weeks that our trees have been awash in stunning shades of bright red, orange and yellow. They look especially fetching in the sun and against the beaming blue sky.

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Almost makes me not want to move to the Deep South (notice that I said *almost*?). Don’t worry as soon as the leaves start to fall and winter sets in, I’ll be back to dreaming about the Gulf Coast or the Desert in Arizona. (so, in another week or two…haha).

These are a bunch of pics I took while out walking in my ‘hood with the pooches over the last couple of weeks.  And in addition to some pretty leaves, I’m making you look at cute puppies, too! I know, I’m so mean.

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You probably recognize this little gal from many of my travel stories on here. She’s a road tripper and a leaf-lover. (takes after her human mama!).
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