New Cacao 70 Eatery in Gatineau a chocolate-lover’s treat, and eye candy too

New Cacao 70 Eatery in Gatineau a chocolate-lover’s treat, and eye candy too

I’m pret-ty sure I’m not going to win Mother of the Year, but after Wednesday’s epic pizza party (more on that in another post) and yesterday’s trip to the new Cacao 70 Eatery in Gatineau, I might be in the running for Mom of the Month. Plus it’s World Chocolate Day (did you know?) and not only did we celebrate, but we did it a day early. The restaurant is Cacao 70’s newest location (it opened last month) and one of three new concepts for the Quebec-based chocolatier. We were invited to sample the menu free of charge in exchange for a review, so today I’d like to show you around and tell you more about our visit.  Continue reading “New Cacao 70 Eatery in Gatineau a chocolate-lover’s treat, and eye candy too”

Make mom’s day with Green & Black’s Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread + A giveaway!

Make mom’s day with Green & Black’s Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread + A giveaway!

Green and Black's Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread with jam on a sliec try small things

After packing house and downsizing a couple of times over the past few years, my mom insists there’s few things she wants or needs. That’s not to say she doesn’t light up at a little sparkly somethin’ to draw attention to her impossibly delicate wrists or ample bosom (oh she does!) but usually she says “If I can’t eat it, drink it or read it, I don’t want it.” I likely won’t see her for Mother’s Day (we live 500 kms apart) but she’s planning to visit a couple weeks later and I know just what I’ll give her: a steaming cup of tea, a slice of homemade chocolate banana loaf and my undivided attention (provided the kids are outside or something — and even then they’ll be in and out the door every two minutes, you know how it goes) while we take some time to catch up. And I think she’ll be happy. Green & Black’s did a Mother’s Day survey and 57% of moms said that spending time with family and loved ones is the most valued gift, followed by 32% saying that feeling appreciated is really what they want. (Only 1% said receiving a luxurious gift was the most important.) So maybe join me in making something sweet for the special mom in your life (your mom, your neighbour, your buddy) and make the time to enjoy it together. I’ve got just the recipe — Green & Black’s Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread — and a little giveaway to go with.  Continue reading “Make mom’s day with Green & Black’s Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread + A giveaway!”

Waffle sticks

Waffle sticks

Up until a few weeks ago, I could count on one hand — specifically one finger — the number of times I’d tried a homemade waffle. (Sad, right? And it was years ago too.) The hubs and I were at a beautiful little B&B in Kingston just after Valentine’s Day (because we were too cheap to pay the premium to go on the actual holiday) and the couple who owned it served my hubby fluffy waffles dusted with icing sugar in the charming breakfast room. I had poached eggs or something, as I’d never order something that decadent myself, but I do remember trying some, and of course it was frickin’ delicious. And the years (and years!) after that? Waffles just weren’t a part of our lives. (Nor were B&Bs.) Oh Eggo’s from time to time for the kids, but those really aren’t the same, are they? Then a few weeks ago I bought this babycakes mini’s waffle maker (Target! $20!). Changed. Our. Lives.

babycakes-mini-waffle-maker

Alright, so maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit, but it does do a damn good job. It heats up and cooks and minutes, it’s easy to use and it’s easy to clean. (The cleaning bit is key. You know if something’s a pain in the hoop to clean it’s just going to sit in the cupboard.) And it makes the cutest individual waffle sticks, which are ideal for little fingers.

waffle-batter

I’ve tried the basic waffle recipe that came with it, but I found the waffles a little tough and prefer my trusty one for pancakes, which I’ve included at the end of this post. If you like a lighter waffle, you might like it too.

waffles-cooking

Careful not to overdo it with the batter. I’ve overfilled my waffle maker a few times and it makes a damn mess. Blueberry waffles were a mistake (the blueberries were too big so the lid didn’t close properly and the batter oozed out all over the place) but I’ve had lots of success with plain and chocolate. (For chocolate, just stir a couple of tablespoons of cocoa into the batter and thin with a little milk.)

regular-and-chocolate-waffles-2

You’ll want to cool them on a wire rack straight away so they stay all nice and crispy. You can also freeze them and reheat them in your toaster, stacking two in each slot.

chocolate-dipped-chocolate-waffle-2

I went a little cray-cray and dipped them in chocolate and sprinkles, but they’d be just as tasty (okay, almost as tasty) with syrup. And you could easily skip the sugar and make your own savoury creations — say, herb, garlic and cheese — and serve them with a creamy dip. Wouldn’t those be great for a party? Zillions of possibilities!

One thing’s for sure: they’ll be gone in seconds!

Try ’em and let me know what you think! Are you team waffle or team pancake? Or team neither? (Boo.)

Oh! A little note about the accessories giveaway: now the Cara necklace is included too! If you haven’t entered, just hop on over here. The contest closes this Sunday, August 3 at midnight EST. You must leave a comment on the contest post in order to be eligible.

On with the recipe!

Trusty pancake/waffle batter

Makes 28 waffle sticks (I’m guessing 7 waffles in a regular-sized wafflemaker)

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking power

2 tablespoons sugar

Sprinkle of salt

1 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Whisk dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk again until combined. Careful not to overmix; batter should still be a little lumpy.

Cook per your waffle maker’s instructions.

Flourless chocolate cookies

Flourless chocolate cookies

If it’s hot where you are, baking might be the last thing on your mind. You want to be out in the sunshine, walking, lounging or gardening or maybe running around with your kids. But trust me, these cookies are well worth the time in the kitchen. They’re the perfect combination of crispy/chewy goodness, with a welcome crunch from the nuts and plenty of chocolate chunks to sink your teeth into. And while I haven’t tried it myself, I bet they’d be delicious in an ice cream sandwich. Will you try them and let me know?

flourless choco cookies six

C’mon. You know you want one!

cookie close up

They’re large enough to share, but of course you don’t have to.

cookies in pkgs

And if you do, they make a pretty little gift. Just don’t be surprised if people ask you to make more.

Flourless chocolate cookies
Adapted from this recipe

Makes 10 jumbo cookies (about 3 inches in diameter)

Ingredients

1.5 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa

2 pinches salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 egg whites

1 and 1/4 cup walnuts, slivered almonds or pistachios (or a combination of your favs)

2 generous handfuls dried cherries or dried cranberries

1 3 oz/100 gram 70% cocoa dark chocolate bar, broken into chunks (or a couple of generous handfuls of jumbo semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place one rack in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Whisk the sugar, cocoa and salt until blended.

Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat on low speed for approximately one minute. Mixture will be runny.

Throw in the nuts, dried fruit and chocolate chunks/chips and stir ’til combined.

Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop, scoop out mixture and drop onto the baking sheet in six generously spaced piles. (If you don’t have a cookie scoop, measure out two tablespoons per cookie.)

Bake for approximately 15 – 17 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through.

Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before carefully peeling from the parchment paper or baking mat.

Bake remaining four cookies.

Finished cookies will have glossy tops, crackly outsides and a chewy, brownie-like centre.

Chocolate avocado fudge

Chocolate avocado fudge

This week I’m all about satisfying cravings in a healthy way. And ‘tho we know a little dark chocolate can be good for you, sometimes it just doesn’t satisfy. Sometimes you want something rich and chewy and decadent and bad. This chocolate avocado fudge satisfies that deep dark chocolate craving and (bonus!) it’s good for you too.

fudge ingredients

I adapted a couple of recipes from the Interwebs to come up with this one, replacing Stevia with a little brown sugar, doubling up on the vanilla extract and simplifying the cooking method so you can make it all in one pot. I used pistachios but any other nuts would probably be just as good.

fudge

Fudge isn’t the most photogenic, but that didn’t stop my five-year-old from asking for seconds. Which totally blew me away. Avocado and coconut milk and nuts and he actually liked it?

We have a winner here, people. Try it and see.

Chocolate avocado fudge

Makes 12 satisfying pieces

Ingredients

1 large avocado

1/3 cup coconut milk

3 oz/100 grams 70% dark chocolate

1/3 cup brown sugar (next time I’ll try 1/4; the fudge is quite sweet)

1/3 cup pistachios

12 walnut halves

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Peel, pit and puree avocado until smooth.

Simmer coconut milk until warm; break chocolate into chunks and stir into coconut milk until melted.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Continue to stir on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour into loaf pan and chill in the fridge overnight. (The fudge will be fairly soft; freeze overnight if you like it more firm.)

Remove fudge from pan (keep it on the parchment paper to slice) and cut into 12 portions. Garnish each with a walnut half.

Satisfying cravings

Satisfying cravings

Although I try to eat healthy foods for the most part, at that time of the month, things completely fly off the rails. Salty, fatty or sweet — if it isn’t nailed down, it’s going in my mouth. And I usually feel terrible for it.

This week I am trying to flip the script. I’ve tucked the last of the Easter chocolate out of sight and stocked up on ingredients to make some dishes that are not only full of delicious, nutritious goodness, but should satisfy my cravings too. (I mean ideally. We’ll see.)

First up: this Israeli couscous and artichoke salad with roasted tomatoes, tuna and basil. It’s in the June 2014 issue of Style At Home magazine. (The recipe’s not available online so I can’t post a link to it here, but it’s worth picking up the issue.)

couscous salad large

The couscous is dressed with a wonderfully flavourful mix of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and chives. Lima beans and tuna give you something to chew on and pack in the protein too, and the roasted artichokes and tomatoes add some tang. Fat grilled slices of halloumi cheese are delicious served alongside, ‘tho I nearly had to sit on my hands last night to stop at just two.

The salad was so filling and satisfying that I didn’t reach for something later in the evening when I usually snack, and didn’t crave something sweet until this morning when I wolfed down two of my favourite chocolate peanut butter protein bars. Because I cannot give up my chocolate.

I’ve seen all kinds of healthified recipes for chocolate fudge and chocolate pudding made with avocado and cocoa. I’ll try one this week and let you know how it turns out. Maybe you’ve tried one? What did you think?

How do you satisfy your cravings?

Chocolately Easter basket

Chocolately Easter basket

Try an Easter basket

This Easter basket couldn’t be any simpler. You “glue” ladyfingers to a bowl with icing, then fill the bowl with treats.

I saw the idea on Marilyn this week and had to make it straight away. The version on the show was made of Kit Kats instead of ladyfingers, with marzipan instead of icing for the glue.

I went with ladyfingers because they were cheaper and tried the marzipan but found it wasn’t sticky enough and used icing instead. (Nothing fancy, just some from a store-bought tub.)

The ribbon is critical for holding everything in place when you’re done and it’s a good idea to put it in the fridge for a good hour to set.

Do you think it’ll last ’til the weekend?