Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-off of 2011

A few weeks ago, I heard about the NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie and I thought I'd give it a try. Then, just days before I had planned on making them, I stumbled across Anna Olson's Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe over on Gwendolyn's blog. Both claimed to be out of this world so I thought I'd have a little bake-off and decide for myself. Two days and 3 dozen cookies later, here's what I've discovered...




...they're both amazing. Not the answer you were hoping for? Me neither. I was really hoping that one was going to outshine the other so I could run through the streets shouting "I've done it! I've made the world's best chocolate chip cookie!" I even handed them out to friends and co-workers with a stipulation that they must pick one or the other, but the opinions were split.

They both baked up nice and thick and stayed soft and chewy. The main difference was really the taste. The NY Times ones were saltier (even before the added sea salt on top) with a deeper almost caramelized flavor. Anna Olson's were really classic, remind-you-of-your-mom type cookies. I went back and forth on which one I liked more and in the end I still can't decide.

So here's what I'll say about them: if you have the time to chill cookie dough for 24-36 hours and the self restraint to not eat the entire thing in all it's raw glory, then make the NY Times ones. If you're like me and tend to bake on a whim, then make the Anna Olson version. Let's face it, they're chocolate chunk cookies. It's not like you'll be disappointed either way.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Kitchen Essentials

I consider myself pretty resourceful in the kitchen. If I don't have a certain tool or appliance, I can usually figure out a way to wing it (I used a wine bottle as a rolling pin for longer than I'd like to admit). That being said there are a few things that keep coming up that would make my life a whole lot easier.


Knives

Oh our knives. You'd probably have more luck cutting with a spoon. We have a knife sharpener which helps, but how often can you sharpen knives until they just end up as stubs? To avoid that fate, I think a set of these are in order.


I found these bad boys at Knifewear here in Calgary. They're affordable and oh so pretty- probably the two most important factors to consider when shopping for knives.

Food Processor

Normally, I can get by with either an immersion or regular blender, but I've discovered that there are just some things that can't be made with either. This mini food processor would do the trick.

Cuisinart Elite Die-Cast Mini Prep


Mandoline

It may have something to do with the knives, but I hate slicing. My vegetables always end up such a mess. I imagine this was one of those life lessons that my mom tried to teach me and I rolled my eyes and said something along the lines of "Mom. It's chopping. I'm sure I can figure it out."
You win again, Mom. You win again.

de Buyer Mandoline

Silicone Baking Mat

Because, it would be nice to not ruin every cookie sheet I own.

Silpat


There are hundreds kitchen tools and accessories I could probably make use of (see the entire Williams-Sonoma and Anthropologie catalogue), but I think this is a good start.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Alexa Chung for Madewell

I have so many things to post about fall and cooler weather, but it seems so wrong to write about soup when it's still 20 degrees outside. While it's still warm, and we all know it won't be for long, let's take a moment for the Alexa Chung for Madewell collection.


I'm loving the cozy sweaters mixed with summer skirts and that jacket can easily get you through fall and maybe even a few chinooks this winter.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Ahh the Weekend

Beers, bikes & burgers edition...
Beers with Dennis at Craft Beer Market


Bikes rides in the park


The Chuckwagon Cafe won Best Burger 2011 in FFWD Magazine so we had to give them a try. They're well deserving of the title!


Sheep Falls


The Big Rock

Friday, 23 September 2011

Arthur's Day

Yesterday marked the 252nd Anniversary of the Guinness brewing company.

This weekend let's all raise a glass in memory of Arthur Guinness, the man behind the tasty brew. If you're not one for drinking, or even if you are, I leave you with Nigella Lawson's delicious Chocolate Guinness Cake.



In her recipe she says you could leave the cake un-iced, but why on earth would you skip out of a healthy layer of cream cheese icing?! I've made this before and I say ICE IT!

Have a good, Guinness filled weekend everyone!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Chuck Klosterman Hypertheticals

I love Chuck Klosterman. His essays and and commentary on pop culture are so clever. In addition to his books, he's written for Spin, The New York Times, GQ and still regularily contributes feature columns in Esquire. Imagine my surprise when I found "Chuck Klosterman Hypertheticals: 50 Questions for Insane Conversation."
I love things like this. They help pass the time on road trips and can make for some pretty hilarious ice breakers.You can learn a lot about a person when they answer whether or not they would hire a pornography enthusiast as their house painter.



Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

French 75

Last night I came home in the mood for a cocktail...


I felt quite 'Mad Men' greeting Eric with a drink when he walked in the door (to which he exclaimed "Man, I love your blog!").
My favorite cocktail of all time happens to be the French 75. Why you ask? Well, it involves gin, lemons, sugar and champagne. That ought to explain it.
There are a few different ideas about what makes a French 75. Some think it's a cognac based drink invented in France and served to allied soldiers on leave, while others argue it was invented in England and served using gin to British soldiers. Either way, it was aptly named after an artillery gun known for it's kick.

French 75

-1 oz gin
-1/2 oz lemon juice
-2 tsp. sugar
-Brut champagne

Shake the gin, lemon juice and sugar with ice in a martini shaker. Pour into a champagne flute and top with champagne. I like to add a little sugar to the rim of the glass, but that's up to you.

A word of caution: these are not for the faint of heart. I had 2 (in the name of research) and it resulted in a diatribe to Eric about what a resourceful genius I am, using a to-go mug in the place of a martini shaker.

Also, this drink can be made with vodka in the place of gin and is referred to as a French 76.

Happy sipping my friends.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Ahh the Weekend

In a word: Krug.


Those of you that know me know I like to prolong my birthday as much as possible. On Saturday night, almost a week after my actual birthday, Eric and I had the last of the birthday celebrations.We decided to stay home and snuggle up to a plate full of cheese and glasses full of that heavenly nectar.



Sunday morning was happily spent on the couch with a cup of coffee and the September issue of Vogue.


So, I suppose it's official. 26 has begun!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week wrapped up yesterday. Here are few things that made me gasp with sheer delight...

Jason Wu, Jill Stuart

Diane Von Furstenberg

Badgley Mischka

Jenny Packham


Ugh. That Jenny Packham dress! Actually, her whole collection! I die.

What do you say we skip winter all together and just go straight to spring 2012?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

For the little ones

How awesome is this? You send in a picture that your child drew and Child's Own Studio makes it come to life!



To all my nieces, nephews and friends' kids: get your markers out!!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery


Remember guilty pleasure Saturday? Well, the ever essential scone I get over at Kawa actually comes from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery. Aviv Fried is the genius behind said scones and various other delicious goodies. You can find his baked goods at several coffee shops around town and at this little bicycle cargo shop on Stephen Avenue on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. He also sets up shop at the Hillhurst Market on Wednesday nights and opens his bakery doors on the weekends.

For a full schedule of where you can pick up these scrumptious treats you can check out their website or follow Aviv on Twitter.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Ahh the Weekend

What an amazing weekend!

Michelle and I spent the weekend in Banff. Highlights include dinner at The Bison (duck, of course), sangria on the Elk and Oarsman patio and sleeping in until 1pm guilt free. Today's weather makes me think that this past weekend was the last nice one that we're going to get and I wouldn't have spent it any other way. All the dinner, wine and sleep was in preparation for our 10k run on Sunday morning.

If you'd have told me a year ago that I'd be spending my birthday weekend running a 10k race, I'd have told you to give your head a shake. I ran my first 10k last year around this time and it was raining/snowing and completely miserable. I did it in 1:02:27. This year I did it in 00:57:19! I told you those new runners were good.

Last night was birthday dinner with the family at Double Zero for pizza and gelato and today is my dear friend Sarah's birthday. It's been so great celebrating our birthdays together for the last 14 years.

I didn't take a single photo over the weekend so I'll leave you with these champagne popsicles because, well, look at them!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Birthday Break


Taking a little birthday blog break. Back tomorrow!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Birthday Wishlist

Here are a couple things I wouldn't mind unwrapping for my birthday on Monday...



Hmm, that chair is going to be awkward to wrap. Ok, if you get me the chair you don't have to wrap it. Deal?

Also, I wouldn't mind blowing out a candle stuck in one of these peanut butter cheesecake brownies...



I'll leave you to it then. Have a great weekend!


All images found on Pinterest

Thursday, 8 September 2011

10K Essentials

I'm off to Canmore for a 10K this weekend. Here are some of my running essentials...


10K Run

These New Balance Minimus runners are my new obsession. Barefoot running seems to be all the rage these days and if you've read anything about the benefits it's easy to see why. I'm not quite brave enough to run barefoot through downtown Calgary, but these are an incredible alternative.

I'm so excited to run in the mountains, especially if the 20 degree forecast pans out.

Is it Friday yet?



Adidas by Stella McCartney long hoody Nike activewear
Nike
New balance shoes
Nike block hat
Headphones / Earbuds | MUSIC ACCESSORIES | Music

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Back to School

Here are a few cool things to make back to school a bit more fun...


I'd go back just so I could make one of those crayon monograms. So clever!


Apple Rice Crispy Treats 
Typewriter Waffle Iron
Crayon Monogram
Pencil Socks

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Ahh the Weekend

The weekend started out with what I like to refer to as Guilty Pleasure Saturday. It starts out with a circuit class which isn't pleasurable at all. In fact, two days later and it's still haunting my hamstrings. However, it's a necessary part to Guilty Pleasure Saturday as it makes me feel a bit less guilty about parts 2 and 3. Circuit is followed by a trip to Kawa for a latte and scone for me and a cafe Niko and sticky bun for Eric. Eric is usually still sleeping at this point which is also an essential part of this whole thing because the last and most embarrassing part can only be enjoyed solo. This is when I like to watch my stories. You know, the shows you pretend you don't watch in order to maintain some dignity. It's the worst possible television created that I can only justify watching on this special occasion. It usually involves some sort of marathon on the E! channel. Don't judge me.

We met Carrie and Amelia for brunch on Sunday morning before heading out to Canmore for the Highland Games. In case you're wondering, Amelia's iPod includes Drive By Truckers, The Black Keys, The Pointer Sisters and Bruce Springsteen just to name a few. That kid is awesome.





Friday, 2 September 2011

Have a Good Long Weekend!

We're staying in town this weekend and takin' it easy. If you're planning on doing the same, here are a couple things happening around Calgary that might tickle your fancy.
BBQ on the Bow is happening down at Eau Claire. Watch some local pit masters compete for Best Brisket, Ribs, Chicken, BBQ Sauce and more.
 
Photo: Wolf Leonhardt

 It looks like it's going to be prime rafting weather. Rent a raft from Lazy Day Raft Rentals. I've lived in Calgary for 7 years and I've never rafted the Bow. What an outrage! I think I might have to remedy that this weekend.


If you're up for a bit of a drive the Canmore Highland Games are on Sunday. Who doesn't love a good caber toss now and then?


If you do end up in Canmore, have lunch at the Iron Goat. Their duck wings are what dreams are made of. I'm heading out there next weekend and I'm already salivating.

Whatever you end up doing, I hope you have a great long weekend! See you Tuesday.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Leftovers...

The contents of my fridge were a bit random yesterday. Leftover zucchini- 1 whole and 2 partially peeled, the remnants of the 2 dozen eggs I took home from the family reunion, green onions, spinach, mixed greens, apples and honey goat cheese. I was originally going to make some sort of zucchini bread until I stumbled upon these Zucchini Fritters. Throw a poached egg and some crispy prosciutto on top and I'm sold!*


 I threw together a quick salad with cider vinaigrette and Highwood Crossing canola seeds.

We typically don't eat dessert, especially not on a Wednesday night dinner at home (the shame!).
But with all those leftover apples, what's a girl to do? I tossed the apples in some course sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread the honey goat cheese on the pie dough, put the apple mixture and some pecans on top.

I don't want to toot my own horn here, but BEEP! BEEP!



I think the dinner gods sensed I wasn't in the mood for failure and granted me a win on this one. Thanks dinner gods!

*That statement applies to pretty much anything.