November on Planet Byn {2016}

by byn on November 30, 2016

in Monthly Recaps

beechwood-doughnuts

November is usually a quiet month around here, where I can re-charge and get set for the holidays, and this year was no different, except I was also sick for most of the month, which sucked. Here’s what else was going on:

  • My Mom took me for a belated birthday brunch to The Crepe Kitchen in Oakville. It was so cute! Little mis-matched tables and chairs, and a huge list of savoury or sweet crepes to choose from. I had the Good Morning crepe with bacon, cheddar and egg, and Mom had Mediterranean with goat cheese, spinach, tomatoes and onions. We loved them both.
  • I went on a little Stateside road trip to Target and Trader Joe’s for treats and Christmas stuff, and on the way there, we stopped at Beechwood Doughnuts in St. Catherine’s where I had the best doughnut of 2016 (even better than Donut Monster that I mentioned last month!). I can even deal with how good this place was, and I need to go back soon! I had their French Toast doughnut, and it was the best kind of yeast doughnut: soft, squishy and so fresh. St. Catherine’s already held a special place in my heart because I visited Kristine and Alexis there so often when they were at Brock, and now they have the best doughnuts ever!
  • Kristine and I made another trip to Cake & Loaf, our favourite new bakery, to check out their holiday menu and so I could get some inspiration for Champagne & Cookies VII! We had Salty Honey Tarts and Unicorn Bars as we watched the final episode of the Gilmore Girls Revival on Netflix (more on that below!).
  • Nicole and I had our annual Christmas baking day this past Sunday, and a special new helper, baby Francis, was on the scene this year! We made Buckeyes, which is our tradition, plus Maple Pecan Squares and Ginger Molasses Cookies. This is always the day that puts me in the holiday spirit!

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • GILMORE GIRLS! This was the focus and joy of my month. GG was my favourite show back when it was on in the early 2000s, and I remember I would call Kristine at university (St. Catherine’s again!) after each episode when she was still there so we could discuss everything, and we would binge watch the DVD sets when they were released. I knew I wouldn’t have time to re-watch the entire series, so starting at the beginning of the month, I just watched my favourite episodes of each season. Best ones: Sookie’s Wedding, Dear Emily & Richard (when we flash back to teenage Lorelai), Rory’s graduation from Chilton, the trial run of the Dragonfly Inn when Luke kisses Lorelai, the 100th episode with Emily & Richard’s vow renewal, plus any episode with Christopher, an epic fight between Lorelai and Emily, or a freakout by Paris. I totally loved the revival, with the exception of a few small things, and thought it ended perfectly. Don’t want to write too much here in case of spoilers, but as Lorelai says: Full. Freakin’. Circle.

Flashback!

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cinnamon-chocolate-cookies

This week for Baked Sunday Morning, we’re baking Chocolate Cinnamon Sugar Cookies. They’re actually supposed to be Chocolate Cinnamon Chipotle Sugar Cookies, but I wasn’t too keen on that. I have enough problems with mixing chocolate and cinnamon together, so I just left the chipotle powder out.

The dough for these cookies was easy to mix up, and rolled out like a dream. I found I could re-roll the scraps twice, and the dough was still pretty smooth.

Instead of dressing up my cookies for the Day of the Dead (as done in Baked Occasions), I went with a Halloween theme of pumpkins and spiderwebs. See, while I enjoy decorating cookies with royal icing (and I still follow Annie’s recipe and tutorial here), I’ve learned a few things about myself and this process over the years. First, it’s only fun (and even relaxing) if I have lots of time. Whenever I try to rush the process, things never go as well. Second, I know myself well enough to know that I get bored doing large quantities of these. So small batches of cookies are the way to go. Third, I only ever do one or two designs at any time, and try to limit the number of colours involved. More than that and it looks like a bomb went off in my kitchen – a bomb made up of squeeze bottles, icing bags, food colouring, bowls and toothpicks.

I brought these into work on Halloween and they were a hit!

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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London Eats {November 2015}

by byn on November 2, 2016

in Travel

buckingham-palace

This post is a long time coming, but I’m excited to finally be writing about my trip to London last November! It was my first time travelling to Europe, and I was equal parts excited and nervous leading up to the trip. I went with my friend Danielle, who is an accomplished world traveler and had been to London a few times before, so I knew I was in good hands.

In terms of eats, I found it challenging to research restaurants and treats online for London, because the city is so huge, and it was hard to find consensus on where to go.  Instead, I asked my friends for their recommendations: Weedy (who lived in London for a few years), Sarah (who grew up there), Jenny (who has visited many times), Jen (whose brother lives there now) and Gwendolyn (just an overall excellent resource). I also stalked Jenn Yee’s Instagrams of her visit last year, and of course Danielle had a few places she wanted to return to. Here’s a glimpse into the highlights of what we tried over the course of our week when we weren’t in pubs eating fish & chips and pot pies:

  • Harrod’s Food Hall: Of course everyone tells you to go to Harrod’s when you’re in London, but the Food Hall there is also a must! It was totally magical and a foodie dream. In the bakery section, we picked up a quartet of cupcakes, and I was loving all the flavour combinations (i.e. Harrod’s Posh Peanut Butter Cupcake was peanut butter chocolate chip cake with peanut butter buttercream, brushed with gold lustre!). Hidden in the back of Herrod’s is a Ladurée, the French Tearoom known for their macarons. It was the absolute cutest little shop.
  • B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour: Danielle noticed this tour the last time when she was in London, and knew it would be perfect for us. You get to cruise around London in a vintage double decker bus, whilst having afternoon tea (in a travel mug you get to take home!) with delicious savoury and sweet snacks. There were little quiches and tiny sandwiches, plus mini cupcakes, macaron and fruit tarts. The plates and serving dishes are secured to the table, so nothing is sliding around, and you just sit back and enjoy. We loved this!

double-decker

tea-treats-tour

  • Hotel Chocolat: I couldn’t even handle this chocolate shop. I think I did two or three laps before I could even decide what I wanted to buy. Danielle had been here before, and even sent me some chocolates in the mail, and going in person was like sensory overload. I brought so much chocolate home with me, and my favourite was the Milk & Cookies bar.
  • Nopi: The only restaurant reservation I made before the trip was for Ottolenghi’s restaurant, Nopi. I researched all of the different locations extensively before the trip, as Danielle had told me that some are solely takeaway spots and some are casual eat-in places with seating, but there is only one true restaurant, and that is Nopi. There’s a more formal dining room upstairs, and a communal space downstairs, which is what I booked. I can’t emphasize enough how much I loved this experience. We were seated side-by-side on the corner of a huge marble table and to our left was the open kitchen, where we could see all the dishes being prepared, and all the desserts being plated. To our right was the cutest pair of couples that we eavesdropped on; I was obsessed with their accents and also the dishes they ordered.

nopi-drinks

Instead of ordering entrees, we copied our new friends and ordered many small plates to share. We had: a roasted cauliflower dish, a beet and goat cheese salad, a butternut squash dish, truffle polenta chips and this savoury cheesecake made with blue cheese, almonds and honey. Everything was so unique, and like nothing else I’ve ever had, pairing flavours together in unexpected ways.  Side note: Google “Ottolenghi Nopi Washrooms” because I can’t even try to describe them. So cool. Also, it also goes without saying that Nopi is expensive as hell, but to me, so worth it.

nopi-dinner

  • Wahaca: I thought it seemed a little odd to eat at Mexican restaurant in London, but Weedy and Sarah both mentioned Wahaca, so we had to check it out. It turned out to be delicious, and a welcome change from all the pub food we’d been enjoying. We had guac and chips, chicken tostadas, plaintain tacos, and sweet potato and feta taquitos.
  • B Bakery: Because we had so much fun on our Afternoon Tea Bus Tour, when we were in Covent Garden, we stopped by B Bakery to try more of the treats we enjoyed on our tour. We had some rooibus tea, and shared a chocolate darling and a banoffee tart, and they were perfect.

b-bakery

  • Piebury Corner: This was another place Danielle had noticed on her last trip and we returned to check it out. We tried a savory pie (butternut squash, onion and goat cheese) and a sweet one (blueberry) and both come with sauces on the side to pour over (mushroom gravy and vanilla custard respectively). This was such a charming little shop and the kind of place I would get takeout from all the time if I lived nearby.
  • Indian Restaurant We Can’t Remember The Name Of: Over the last 15 years, I’ve read so much British Chick Lit, starting with Bridget Jones’ Diary, and one thing those books all have in common, is that our heroine at one point or another is always having Indian takeaway for dinner! We both heard that all the best Indian food is on Brick Lane, but on our last night, we didn’t have the energy to head over there (about an hour away on the tube) so instead we wandered around Kensington High Street near our hotel trying to find something close by. I don’t remember the name, but we stumbled upon a small little neighbourhood place and gave it a try. It was SO amazing. As were settling in, looking at our menus, we kept seeing people come in to pick up takeaway (like Bridget!) and we knew we were in for some deliciousness. We had chicken tikka, a vegetable curry, piles of warm, soft, chewy naan, and tried all the pickled vegetables and sauces on the table. Just the best.
  • CHIP CRISP PARTY: One night when we were still full from a late fish and chips lunch, we just went to Tesco and loaded up on every type of British crisp flavour we could find and had a crisp party in our hotel. We tried cheese & onion, worcestershire, and a few others I can’t remember. We have basically done this on every trip we’ve been on together and I love it.
  • Ridiculous amounts of CHOCOLATE: Case in point:

so-much-chocolate

Other non-foodie related adventures:

  • God bless Danielle, she did all this touristy stuff with me, even though she had seen it all before: London Bridge, Big Ben, going up in the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Kensington Palace and more.
  • You better believe we travelled about two hours outside London to go on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour of THE MAKING OF HARRY POTTER. This was absolutely incredible for an HP fan such as myself. It has the soundstages and backlot where all eight of the Harry Potter movies were made, plus sets, props, costumes, the actual Hogwarts Express, Diagon Alley, and so much more. Plus you can have BUTTERBEER ICE CREAM in the snack bar (obviously I did).

butterbeer

  • We saw Billy Elliot the Musical, which was a delight, and something I missed in Toronto years ago.
  • We stayed in Kensington neighbourhood, which was perfect. Our hotel was a short walk to the tube, and there were so many cute shops near us, plus a Boots pharmacy with free Wifi, that we took advantage of many times.
  • Every London stereotype about the weather is true: it was grey, dreary and raining every single day when we were there, but I don’t think I would have had it any other way!

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October on Planet Byn {2016}

by byn on October 31, 2016

in Monthly Recaps

birthday-donuts

I spent the first half of this month preparing for Thanksgiving and the rest of the month celebrating my birthday! There were lots of good eats and fun things happening this month, so here we go:

  • I tried to go to the Luke’s Diner pop-up that Netflix put on so I could grab a coffee but it was a mob scene! I asked a girl on her way out how long she waited and she said TWO AND A HALF HOURS. I’m a huge Gilmore Girls fan, but I don’t have time for that! Instead I got out my GG mug I bought on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in 2005, and my FOMO decreased automatically.
  • My friend from work surprised me with birthday treats from Roselle, which has been on my list of bakeries to visit since the summer! We had a turtles-esque tart and an earl grey cake with lavender, and both were absolutely delicious!
  • Byn’s Birthday Bonanza happened with stops at Montecito, Byblos, the lobby bar at the Ritz-Carleton, Fring’s and Belfast Love. Shout to my friends Krishna, Weedy & Jen for organizing this night, I’ll never forget it! (Check out my Instagram for the details of each stop).
  • Kristine and I did a little Hamilton Tour of Treats, although “tour” is a stretch as there was only one place we wanted to go to: Cake & Loaf Bakery. We’d both been following them on Instagram and drooling over their amazing looking treats, so we finally got to check it out! I picked up so many things: smoked caramels, a butter tart WITH RAISINS (like the only time I ever want to see a raisin in my baked goods), homemade twix bar, pumpkin spice cinnamon bun and a skor sandwich cookie. This is our new favourite place!
  • We also went to Earth to Table Bread Bar for lunch, which is just a short walk from Cake & Loaf, and it was so good! We split a pizza with apple, bacon and caramelized onions, a fall harvest kale salad and truffle fries. Loved everything!
  • I spent my actual birthday with The Tasty Gardener & The Brunette Baker at the Toronto Baker’s Market. There was tons to choose from, but my favourite treat of the day was Donut Monster (pictured up top)! We grabbed a half dozen to share, and tried flavours like Peach Pie Bullseye, Blueberry Basil, Raspberry Habanero and Concord Grape Jelly Filled. Yeast donuts are my fave, so these hit the spot!

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • Hands down, #1 obsession this month was the discovery of the How to Cake It channel on You Tube! I love, love, love Yolanda and have been trying to get caught up on all the videos in the archives. She makes some truly magical cakes, and I’m currently deciding which of these two cakes (coffee or junk food) to make for some Gilmore Girls viewing at the end of November!
  • I went to my first Drake concert, but left asking myself, am I not as big of a Drake fan as I thought I was? I could NOT keep up with the all the millennials there who knew every single word to every single song. Still had fun though, rapping along to all the songs I did know. A true OVO fest for me and Aubrey.
  • Kristine’s cousin had a Halloween party, and as I just finished watching it on Netflix, we went as Jessica Jones & Trish, the easiest/laziest costumes ever (basically just regular clothes + a leather jacket, fingerless gloves and a bottle of bourbon for Jessica/Kristine // headphones and a blazer for me/Trish). Hey, at least we tried, and K got recognized in Superstore!

Flashback!

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malted-milk-chocolate-brownies

This is our third brownie week in row for Baked Sunday Mornings, but I’m not mad at it (okay, maybe just the first ones). These Milk Chocolate Malted Brownies are far and away my favourites of the trio. They’re everything a brownie should be, which is rich and fudgey with a deep chocolate flavour. I brought them to a Halloween party, and Kristine nailed it: “I have never heard the word MOIST so much in one night!”. We tried to teach a few people to say hydrated instead; we’ll see if it catches on.

The only notes that I have are that I mixed up the chocolate measurements, and bought 4 oz of milk chocolate and 6 oz of dark chocolate, instead of the other way around, but I don’t think it made that much of a difference. The other thing is that I would bump up the ganache ingredients for the icing by 50% next time. I didn’t quite have enough to cover the entire pan. Other than that, these are perfect!

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Slutty Brownie Cookie Cake

by byn on October 27, 2016

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Icing

drake-on-cake

I love making my own birthday cake. This is a long-held and well-documented belief here on Planet Byn. It’s pretty much the only time of the year that I make something with only myself in mind, and I start thinking about it months in advance. It took me forever to decide what kind of cake I wanted this year, and the only thing I knew for sure was that it would be a #drakeoncake.

I wasn’t really feeling a cake cake for myself this year, I think because I made so many layer cakes over the summer (Ombré Cake, Take 5 Cake, Caramel Banana Cake). Danielle sent me this link she’s been contemplating for her own birthday (which is in December by the way! See, I’m not the only one), and as soon as I saw it, I realized what it actually was. Brownie Layer + Cookies & Cream Layer + Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer = Slutty Brownie Cookie Cake!

slice

That recipe actually uses a cake cake for the Oreo Layer, but I swapped in another recipe from that blog for an Oreo cookie. I stacked it up with an amazing chocolate cream cheese icing from the Baked Boys, and then got to work decorating and setting up my #drakeoncake shot.

So this is an over the top sugar explosion, and people did not even understand when I was handing out slices, trying to explain that it was a cake made of giant cookies. That’s the birthday lifestyle on Planet Byn.

Slutty Brownie Cookie Cake

Source: Life, Love and Sugar (+ here for the Oreo Cookie) & Baked Occasions

Ingredients

Brownie Layer

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

6 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup flour

2 tbsp cocoa

1/4 tsp salt

Cookies & Cream Cookie Layer

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped Oreos (about 12 cookies)

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chocolate chips

Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

1 pkg cream cheese

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

3 cups icing sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3 oz dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line three 9″ cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. For the Brownie Layer: melt the butter and chopped chocolate in the microwave in a large bowl. Whisk until combined, then whisk in the sugar, followed by the eggs and vanilla. Fold in the flour, cocoa and salt with a spatula, then pour into one of the prepared pans. Bake this one for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few fudgey crumbs.
  3. For Oreo Cookie Layer: In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined. Fold in the chopped Oreos and chocolate chips, then add dough to cake pan, and press into an even layer with your fingers. Baked this one for 20-25 minutes, or until just starting to turn brown around the edges.
  4. For Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer: In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again. Add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, then add dough to cake pan, and press into an even layer with your fingers. Baked this one for 20-25 minutes, or until just starting to turn brown around the edges.
  5. For all cookie cakes, let cool entirely in pans, then turn out onto cooling racks.
  6. For icing, mix cream cheese and butter together until combined, then add the icing sugar and melted chocolate and mix again until smooth. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of milk or cream and mix in to loosen up.
  7. To assemble, stack your cookie cakes up in whatever order you like, with a layer of icing in between. I used a jumbo star tip to pipe on the border on the top.

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Apple Cider Caramel Corn + Thanksgiving 2016

by byn on October 25, 2016

in Candy

my-plate

I was so, so excited to host Thanksgiving at my place this year! My middle brother and sister-in-law were away celebrating their 10 year wedding anniversary, so I was able to fit everyone else (7 grown-ups, 2 kids) in my condo. You know by now that I took this very seriously, and it was basically all I could talk about in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving Sunday. For your enjoyment, here are 1,500 words on how it went!

tablescape

I started planning more than a month in advance by thinking about the structure of the menu, and what I wanted to make. I wanted to keep things pretty close to what my Mom has always served, but with a few updates/twists. I also sent an email to the Thanksgiving guru, Jan from Family Bites, to see how she sets up her menu, as well as Danielle, to find out what’s on her mom’s table. After some research and a lot of thought, this is what I came up with:

  • Appetizers: my Mom has never served an appetizer at any family event I can think of. Her school of thought is along the lines of ‘why should I cook all day if people are going to fill up on apps’, but she usually puts out a few bowls of nuts or pretzels. I did the same thing, picking up some maple toffee peanuts, hummus, sweet potato chips and pretzel thins from McEwan’s.
  • Turkey/Gravy: outsourced to my Mom. I figured hosting my first Thanksgiving was perhaps not the right occasion to attempt to roast a turkey for the first time. She also brought some leftover cranberry sauce she had in her freezer (no one in my family is big on this).
  • Stuffing: my Mom always made her stuffing without a recipe and I loved it no matter what, but she would always comment that it was tricky to get right. I did a lot of research on this to find a simple recipe that wasn’t too weird for my family (shout to all the Cornbread & Sausage Stuffing recipes out there, I would have loved you, but I don’t think my family is ready for you!), and settled on this one from Brown Eyed Baker. It was perfect, and and SO EASY. I also added a handful of raisins to this, a family tradition from my Dad’s side of the family.

traditional-bread-stuffing

  • Mashed Potatoes: I went with a classic that I’ve made many times before – this recipe for White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes. I don’t add the green onions, bacon or roasted garlic, keeping it pretty simple. These are so creamy and so tasty, and the key is using a ricer to make sure there are no lumps!
  • Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Gratin: My Mom normally makes mashed turnip (or a turnip puff casserole recipe from Nicole’s mom) but I wanted to switch this up a little bit. Instead I made this gratin again, with butternut squash, caramelized onions and parmesan, and it was once again amazing. I ignored my own note to myself on this post, and didn’t double it. I should have, it was so delicious.
  • Sweet Potato Casserole with Bacon Pecan Streusel: My sister-in-law usually makes a sweet potato dish for turkey dinners, but once I saw this recipe on Simply Scratch, I was sold. It has a smooth, creamy layer of mashed sweet potatoes on the bottom (you’re supposed to spike it with bourbon but I left it out because of the kids) and a brown sugar bacon pecan streusel sprinkled over the top. I repeat: brown sugar bacon pecan streusel. Everyone loved it. My only notes on this would be to cut the streusel in half, and then either leave the bacon out totally, or double it. I found it kind of got lost in there.

sweet-potato-casserole

  • Honey Corn Muffins: For me, there has to be some type of bread on the table. In the past I’ve made dinner rolls and bacon biscuits, but decided to go with cornbread muffins. This is a recipe from Baked Explorations that I’ve made many times. I found them a little on the dry side this time around, and I’m not sure if it’s because I overbaked them, or because they were in the freezer for the week. I would just make them fresh on the morning of next time.
  • Green Salad: I wanted something green in the mix, but not our traditional side of CANNED PEAS that I’ve refused to eat since I was a little kid! I went with a fresh green salad with sliced apple, pepita, candied pecans and a maple balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie: Look, on Planet Byn, there’s just not going to be pumpkin pie. I’m not a fan. I still wanted to make a pie though, so I went with this recipe for Tuscaloosa Tollhouse Pie from the very first Baked book. I made it on Sunday morning, then I followed the suggestion in the book by heating slices in the microwave and serving warm with a scoop of ice cream. My brother Chris said it tasted like a warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven. (Looks kind of homely because all the chocolate chips sunk to the bottom).

chocolate-chip-cookie-pie

  • Apple Cider Caramel Corn: Yes, at my Thanksgiving, there are loot bags! I just love the idea of handing out a treat for everyone to take home at the end of the night. This comes from years of reading Annie’s Eats, where she always has cute little cookies packed up for her guests. Caramel Corn is actually a perfect idea because you can make it way in advance. I prepped it and packaged it on Monday, and everyone was so excited when I surprised them with it as they were heading out (“Is it one treat per family or one per person?” Chris asked, hoping he would get one all to himself!). The caramel coating has an entire litre of apple cider reduced down to a syrup, plus lots of fall spices (cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg). Recipe is below!

apple-cider-caramel-corn

Overall, I would consider my first Thanksgiving a huge success, even with my sweet potato casserole sliding out of the fridge and onto the floor 5 mins after everyone arrived. Luckily my Pyrex dish didn’t smash, it landed right side up, and was still the star of the night!

Other notes:

  • I really took my planning to another level for this dinner, and I had my menu set in September. I did all my grocery shopping the weekend before Thanksgiving, and then had a smaller list of fresh things to pick up closer to the big day (i.e. lettuce, fresh flowers).
  • I actually set the table a week before, and it was so nice to look at my tablescape every day and get more excited!
  • I made a workback schedule of tasks to complete for the week leading up to dinner on Sunday, and started doing little things each day, beginning on Monday (i.e. making and freezing pie dough, peeling and chopping butternut squash etc.)
  • I made as many complete dishes as I could on Saturday, so on Sunday all I had to do was reheat them.
  • To make thjngs even easier, I told everyone to bring whatever they wanted to drink, which saved me time and fridge space. This meant the gang all showed up with their favourite wine, beer, or mixed berry drinking box.
  • My friend Weedy has encouraged me to practice making a turkey so I can motivate her to do the same, so I think FRIENDSGIVING is going to be revived in November!

Apple Cider Caramel Corn

Source: Annie’s Eats

Ingredients

1L apple cider (the kind you buy at a farmer’s market, not apple juice)

3/4 cup popcorn kernels

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1/2 cup corn syrup

2 cups brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Pour the apple cider into a large saucepan and bring to boil over medium high heat. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat, and continue to boil until it’s a super thick syrup and measures about 1/2 cup (I had to pour mine into a measuring cup a couple of times to see where it was at, I’m a bad judge of volume when just looking into a pot). This will take almost an hour.
  2. In the meantime, make your popcorn. I always follow this method, which is the best ever. I dumped all the popcorn into a big bowl, shook it a little bit, then transferred it by handfuls to another big bowl, making sure to leave all the unpopped kernels behind (which I then put in the garbage, don’t try to repop them). Then I split all the popcorn among those two big bowls.
  3. When the cider is almost done, preheat the oven to 250° and line two big baking sheets with parchment paper. Get all your other ingredients measured and combine all the spices together in a small bowl (this just makes things go quicker later).
  4. Add the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and salt to the saucepan with the cider syrup. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Once boiling, stop stirring, and let bubble away for 5 minutes, then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. Remove from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla, and stir well. It will bubble up and go crazy a bit.
  5. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and use two spoons or spatula to make sure it’s evenly coated. Spread the popcorn out over the baking sheets. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  6. When totally cool, add to cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon, or store in airtight containers. I made mine a week in advance and it was still perfectly crispy when I ate it.

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pumpkin-cheesecake-swirl-brownies

This recipe was one of the last ones I tested for Baked Occasions about three years ago! I can’t believe it was that long ago, and I also can’t believe how many recipes we’ve made out of the book! I’ll be so sad when we’re done; this is truly one of my favourite things.

batter-swirls

I remember my friend Janelle describing these brownies as “confusing”. She said she just didn’t understand chocolate and pumpkin together. I couldn’t remember my thoughts on them, so I made them again, and I loved them. (It’s not surprisingly though, since these cheesecake brownies are one of my favourite treats of all time.) I love the pumpkin cheesecake swirl, I love the Baked boys’ amazingly fudgey brownies, and I love the hint of fall spices (cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg).

baked-swirls

My current co-workers were all over these, and I also shared some with my yoga class. Namaste.

inside

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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September on Planet Byn {2016}

by byn on September 30, 2016

in Monthly Recaps

wilbur

My social policy this summer was to say YES to everything, which meant I had lots of fun, but then basically didn’t feel leaving the house in September. I laid low and cooked almost exclusively out of the new Oh She Glows Everyday (which I’m blogging about over here). There wasn’t much else going on except:

  • Lydia came over to watch the season finale of our favourite show: Bachelor in Paradise. It was only fitting that we had a tropical dinner of these Pineapple Chicken Fajitas, which I fully endorse.
  • Nicole and Francis came over to watch the Emmys, and everything I made was out of OSG Everyday: Lemon-Garlic Hummus, Sweet Potato, Chickpea, Spinach and Coconut Curry and Flourless Brownies (with Coconut Ice Cream).
  • Krishna and I planned out the 2016 WEEDY BIRTHDAY MARG + TACO TOUR, which was pretty much the most fun I think I’ve ever had on a Tuesday. We started at Wilber Mexicana for margs, guac, queso and chips (pictured above), moved on to La Carnita for tacos, and finished at El Caballito for more tacos and a CHURRO ICE CREAM SANDWICH. Weedy said to me as we were eating it, “This is the only time you’ve stopped talking all night”. It’s that good.
  • I went to Kristine’s brother’s wedding and had the best time ever! EJ & Ashley’s take home treat was a box of two Krispy Kreme doughnuts: the best snack ever to eat at 3am in your Uber home.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • I picked up Season 2 of Fargo from the library and binged it in one weekend. It was SO good! Less creepy than Season 1 (no Billy Bob), but just as quirky and dark and crazy.
  • I tried a few new Fall shows, and my faves are This Is Us and Pitch. Zack Morris is HOT you guys! Obviously I’m watching The Bachelorette Canada. Kevin W. is inexplicably my fave.
  • Truly, Madly, Guilty finally came off the hold list for me, and while I liked it, I wouldn’t say it was better than Liane Moriarty’s other books that I was obsessed with (The Husband’s Secret & Big Little Lies). I also read Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event and HATED it (so boring).

Flashback!

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mini-brownie-cupcakes

I have to be totally honest this week; I wasn’t feeling these brownies. I don’t even really feel like we can call these brownies, because they were more on the cakey side of things. In my opinion, brownies must be fudgey and super chocolatey, and these were neither. Obviously this did not stop my co-workers from eating them all in a meeting, but still.

My other major complaint with these can best be expressed in the following photo:

brownie-prep

Seriously, it shouldn’t take this many bowls to make a simple brownie mixture. My favourite mini-brownies are posted in this recipe. They’re made in one pot with six ingredients and they’re super rich and fudgey.

one-bite

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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