Today I’m blogging about the @lacuisineparis Cafe Gourmand baking class we took in Paris! Blog link is in profile

My latest blog post is up! Today I’m talking about our Paris Context Travel walking tour through Montmartre.

Check it out here.

Today I’m blogging about our latest jaunt out to Niagara for the Small Batch Burn. Check it out!

Happy Holidays! It’s officially the holidays for me as Friday is my last day of work until next year (I love saying that ;) )  Anyways, what better way to celebrate then with friends and family. I’m excited to catch up on movies, books and more importantly sleep. I also have some exciting news to share about the evolution of The Twitter Book Club - so stay tuned! 

In the spirit of the holidays I have compiled a list of my favorite bloggers’ holiday posts!

  1. I love Susan’s wish list - especially the classic Jane Austen book cover.
  2. Skye is my crafty role model. Seriously I wish I was half the crafty person she is. Check out her fantastic gift wrap suggestions.
  3. Ashley visited Strasbourg, Germany which is like the capitol for Christmas. I love, love, love her photos. Definitely adding it to my bucket list.
  4. Kayla’s December’s Joy post will most certainly put you in the holiday mood, such wonderful photos.
  5. Krista is spending her first Christmas in Australia after moving there recently.  I can’t wait for the follow up post to this one where I hope to see her Christmas day photos out and about in the sunshine and warmth.

It’s that time of year!  All of these items above I have been coveting for sometime now.  So for those of you who are still searching for that special something I hope this list helps you out.

PS. Next year I will not be asking for any gifts but rather setting up a wish list for those less fortunate via OXFAM. Check it out!  What could be better than spending $15 on a chicken and changing some one’s life for the better?

1. Canon PowerShot Point & Shoot. I love my SLR but sometimes I don’t feel like lugging it around on trips. This handy Canon point and shoot would do just the trick.

2. Goodies Gourmet Soaps Cupcake Soap & Bath Bomb. I love cupcakes and I love baths. I have been coveting these for sometime now, so I really hope they are in my stocking come Christmas morning. If not, Steph I will be putting in an order asap. ;)

3. Cuptakes iPhone cover I’m a big fan of the cuptakes wallpaper apps for iPhone. So when I found out they make covers I knew I would need one stat!

4. Cookbooks, enough said. 5 Ingredient Fix by Claire Robinson, Everyday Food Light & The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond

5. Swarovski Mickey Bracelet. As you know I am a HUGE Disney fan. I think this bracelet is the perfect match between grown-up jewellery with a youthful twist.

What’s on your Christmas wish list?

I made this a couple years ago, as hostess gifts for when we were invited to dinner parties.  It is too easy to make and the slow cooker allows for everything to cook in one pot! I love giving this to coworkers and friends — and I’ve never received a complaint - it’s THAT good.

Slow Cooker Pear & Apple Butter

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds Bartlett or Anjou pears (about 5)
  • 2 1/2 pounds McIntosh or Gala apples (about 5)
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Directions

  1. Peel, quarter, and core pears and apples. In a food processor, finely grate fruit (in batches if necessary), then transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in dark-brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook on high, 4 hours.
  2. Remove cinnamon stick and reserve. Transfer mixture to processor (in batches if necessary) and process until smooth. Return to slow cooker, along with cinnamon stick, and cook on high, uncovered, until mixture is thick and browned, 4 hours. Discard cinnamon stick and let mixture cool. Transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate, up to 3 weeks, or freeze, up to 3 months.
Source: Martha Stewart

If there is one thing I like to read more than books it’s magazines. You tell me, what’s not to love? I anxiously await the delivery of a new issue each month. The four magazines above are my yearly staples, although I must admit that last year I didn’t renew Martha Stewart Living because I got bored of the content and high end ingredients in the recipes.  However, I did miss it - so I will be renewing my subscription this year.

What are your favorite magazines?

1. Real Simple is a wonderful magazine. I love the recipes, especially the tips and tricks that are sprinkled throughout.

2. Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I LOVE this magazine. I cannot say enough good things about it. Every month it’s chocked full of quick, easy and flavourful recipes. It’s a must for any cook or food enthusiast.

3. Conde Nast Traveler. I love this magazines for all the obvious reasons. Although the articles and information are catered to someone who is probably more affluent than me, I do appreciate the travel writing articles and hotel recommendations.

4. Lastly, Martha Stewart Living. As mentioned previously I did have a subscription for a couple years but cancelled it last year because I felt that the recipes were too high end for me and ingredients that were inaccessible. I’ve realized that I do miss the craft articles as well as the home decor content, so I will be renewing it this year.

This month’s Across The Cafe Table question from The Travel Belles is “If someone said you had to go visit another country for Christmas, where would you go and why?”

Of course, my first answer would be of course to opt out and kindly decline and choose spend it with my family. But say this person was like no, the fate of mankind rests in you spending Christmas abroad I would probably choose a beach somewhere warm and sunny.  Specifically Turks & Caicos or maybe Jamaica. Let’s admit it, the holidays can be stressful so what better way to rest and enjoy the season then a beach and an umbrella drink. It might be selfish, but sometimes we all just need to getaway from it all.  So, my question for you is - Where would you go?

Check out other Belles’ responses by heading on over to The Travel Belles!

It’s that time of year, and of course just like Christmas is synonymous with presents and Santa Claus it is also synonymous in mind with baking. My mom has been making a variation of these fruit drop cookies for years. I always request a special batch for myself — they are THAT good. Just like the Peppermint Bark, these cookies also make a great gift for a friend and even better - a hostess gift. Try them today.  These cookies will definitely bring out the Holiday spirit in any kitchen!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 cup(s) (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cup(s) toasted rice cereal
  • 1 cup(s) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup(s) red candied cheries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup(s) green candied cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) white chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease large cookie sheet.
  2. On waxed paper, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugars until creamy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Beat in vanilla, then eggs, 1 at a time. At low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat just until blended, occasionally scraping bowl. With spoon, stir in cereal, walnuts, cherries, and 1 cup chocolate chips.
  3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons, 1 inch apart, onto cookie sheet. Bake cookies 10 to 11 minutes or until golden. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.
  4. Place remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips in small microwave-safe-bowl; heat in microwave on Medium (50% power) about 2 minutes or until chocolate melts, stirring once. Stir until smooth. Place cookies on waxed paper; drizzle with melted chocolate. When chocolate is set, store cookies, with waxed paper between layers, in tightly covered container at room temperature up to 1 week, or in freezer up to 3 months.

Source: Good Housekeeping

There’s a new addition to my kitchen and I am extremely excited about it!  I bought a doughnut pan.  I know, I know you’re probably thinking — big whoop, it’s just a doughnut pan.  BUT come on IT’S A DOUGHNUT PAN!!!!  Anyways I was super excited to try out a couple recipes and boy, they did not disappoint. Luckily my awesome blogger friend Steph had a great recipe that she got from Jenna. That’s the power of blogging and the internet in general. There is such a sense of community and helpfulness. I love my blogging friends.  Anyways, the recipe below produced some of the best doughnuts I have ever had, so go out and buy your own doughnut pan!  I smell a recipe swap in the future.  Doughnut day anyone?  Ok, OK I’ll stop.

PS. Have a lovely weekend.

Glazed Cake Doughnuts - Makes 6 

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp cold butter

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

glaze:

1 Tbsp milk

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and work it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips, until the mixture looks like sand. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, vanilla and egg. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pipe into a greased doughnut pan using a pastry bag or plastic bag and bake for 15 minutes.

Let cool and mix together glaze ingredients. Drizzle glaze over doughnuts and top with rainbow sprinkles.

Time:

25 minutes

Source: Eat, Live, Run

It’s that time of year!  One of the things I love about the holidays is the time off of work and of course spending time with friends and family. I also really enjoy staying in and reading to my heart’s content. Catching up with a good book is the perfect way to rest and relax after the hectic holiday season.  I’ve compiled the list of books above to hopefully inspire your holiday reading. Next week I’ll be sharing my favorite cookbooks of the year!

What are you currently reading?

1. Cocktails for three by Madeline Wickham. Did you know that before Sophie Kinsella wrote the uber popular Shopaholic series she also wrote a collection of chick-lit novels under the pen name Madeline Wickham?  It’s a fantastic read.

2. The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. Michael wrote The English Patient. Enough said.

3. Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. Esi won the prestgious Giller Prize award for this book about Jazz artists surviving during World War II

4. Rules Of Civility by Amor Towles. This book has been called “gatsby-esq” by several notable book reviewers. Seeing as The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books, I am very excited to read this novel.

It’s that time of year! And what better way to celebrate the Holiday season than baking!  Over the next couple of weeks I will be featuring some Holiday baking ideas that are delicious, easy and can be the perfect gift to a loved one.  First up is Peppermint Bark. Unlike most recipes, this one calls for Rice Krispies which add a unique crunch to the bark’s sweet taste.  These are great gifts, just put a couple in a clear bag and finish with a Holiday bow.  Who says the Holidays have to be stressful? Stay tuned for more recipes and gifting ideas!

Peppermint Bark

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 pound white chocolate, chopped (do not use chips)
  • 2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 1 bag (7 1/2 ounces) hard peppermint candies, unwrapped

Directions

  1. Spray a 10-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; line with a piece of waxed paper. Crush candies (see below).
  2. Place white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in rice cereal.
  3. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; with a spatula, spread to edges of pan.
  4. Sprinkle with crushed candy; with a piece of waxed paper covering the entire surface, press in gently (paper prevents hands from sticking to candy and chocolate). Chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes (no longer, as candy will begin to soften).
  5. Peel waxed paper off. Break bark into 2-inch pieces.

Cook’s Note

To crush candies: Place candy in a doubled resealable plastic bag (one inside the other); seal and wrap in a kitchen towel (to prevent candy from piercing the bag). Use a rolling pin or skillet to crush candy into tiny pieces. Pass through a large sieve to separate crushed candy from fine powder. (Save powder to stir into hot chocolate or sprinkle on ice cream.)

Source: Martha Stewart

Happy Monday friends! My latest post is up on The Travel Belles, so check it out! Today I’m writing about the enchanting villages of Mallorca, Spain. Seems like forever ago that we traveled there, even though it was May. It being December and all, I could really use a Spanish island getaway right about now. What about you? What are your upcoming travel plans?