Brownies & Cherries Ice Cream Sandwich Recipe

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Ok ok, I know…so indulgent.  But I couldn’t help myself.  I was majorly craving ice cream, I had a huge bowl of ripe cherries and a 5 year old who was asking me repeatedly for us to make cookies together…so I  did what I had to do.

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I really couldn’t decide what I loved more, the brownie cookies or the fresh cherry ice cream, so I combined the two and let the flavours speak for themselves.  The only thing with this recipe is that it takes a bit of planning.  You need to make both the ice cream and the cookies the day before because the cookies can’t be warm, and the ice cream needs to be fully set, or you will end up with a runny gooey mess…potentially equally delicious but not much of an ice cream sandwich in looks.  So if looks are important to you then plan ahead…otherwise just make it at once and eat warm cookies with ice cream sauce.

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Here’s how to make it.

For the cherry ice cream:

Pit 30 or so cherries and cut in halves.  Put in a small sauce pan, pour 1 tbsp of granulated sugar on top and simmer on low until the cherries soften.  I added a splash of almond extract for extra flavour.  Cool and set aside.

Make this recipe here minus the vanilla, mix together with the cherry mixture.  Cover and freeze for at least 6 hours…though I prefer overnight.

 

For the brownie cookies:

1 cup softened butter (I use salted butter)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup cocoa

1/2 cup white sugar

2 cups packed brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp warm water

 

1 cup chocolate chips (or more if you like them chocolatey)

sea salt to taste (for sprinkling)

 

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

With a paddle cream butter with sugar until pale yellow (you can do it in a stand mixer if  you have one).  Beat in the eggs.  In a separate bowl mix the baking soda,cocoa and flour.  Then add to the butter and egg mixture in three equal batches until well incorporated. Mix in chocolate chips and almonds.  Spoon onto baking tray and bake for 10minutes (or a couple more) until the edges are just lightly brown or a toothpick comes out clean (since the brown edges are harder to see).  Once out of the oven sprinkle with sea salt and spatula onto a cooling rack.

To make sandwiches simply place a scoop of ice cream between two brownie cookies and enjoy!

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Mexico Family Vacation

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all photos taken with my iPhone, to see more click here

I’m going to preface this entire blog post with two warnings: (1) there are a lot of pictures, an obscene amount, and (2) I left my big girl camera at home and decided to just use my iPhone all week long…so the quality of the photos is what it is.

I’m not going to pretend that the airplane travel was a breeze, because it wasn’t.  Johannes was great, but Magnus was not, though he was much better than last winter when we took him to the Dominican for a week.

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However once we got to our hotel, both boys seem to fall into their routines and were so excited about being on vacation, sharing a bed and eating at restaurants, that the rest really didn’t matter.  So rather than bore you with dissertation of our entire week I will instead share a few “tips” I learned this week:

(1) early morning flights are awesome, and every flight from now on will be booked at the crack of dawn

(2) make a packing list in advance, and do not pack mere hours before your trip…because you’ll forget a lot … ie. wallet containing ALL identification and health information, the $$$ of sand toys you may have spent hours purchasing, and so on

(3) leave your heavy giant camera at home because iPhones are just as good these days, and so much less hassle to worry about on the beach

(4) depending how close in age your kids are, bring two of the exact. same. thing.  EVERYTHING.

(5) pack little gift bags in their backpacks with new books and a few new small toys…it will keep them busy for 30-40 minutes which is just long enough to down a few glasses of vino

(6) at the buffet take a few extra unopened boxes of cereal and stuff them in your bag for pool side snacks…Fruit Loops gave me at least 3 hours of relaxing mama sun time during the entire week

(7) iPad. no elaboration required.

(8) screw the routines and early bed times, you’re on vacation and your kids will survive an hour extra at the resort show

(9) bring ear plugs….in case your room happens to be above the entertainment section and you’re unable to sleep through nightly disco music

(10) expect the worst, there’s only one way to go from there…and its up my friends!

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Kale and Edamame Rice Bowl with Spicy Peanut Sauce

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I really wanted something light yet satisfying for dinner the other day, and since my garden is bursting with kale over growth I felt inspired to add it to our meal.

When in doubt, I throw everything together over rice, with some yummy sauce and call it a “rice bowl”.  You can literally make any type of rice bowls you can imagine, Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese…heck I bet you could make a yummy dessert bowl too with the right ingredients and sauces.

But for these purposes our vegan meal was made extra tasty with a generous pour over of my spicy peanut sauce.

And also the filling would make a rad rice paper roll filling, or leftovers for lunch the next day.

Try it! I’d love to hear how you liked it.

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salad ingredients

1 can corn

2 cups chopped kale, stems removed

1 cup cooked and cooled edamame

1 avocado pit removed and cubed

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 cup shredded carrots (I only had baby carrots so I sliced them thinly instead)

1 cup chopped roasted unsalted almonds

3 sliced scallions

2 tsp coarse sea salt

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp lime rind

To make, massage the kale with sea salt, pour lime juice over top, cover and set aside.  Next put a bowl of water to boil and cook about 3 cups of brown rice as per package instructions. While the kale is marinading and the rice is cooking.  Toss together all the remaining ingredients, the hardest part of the whole meal is chopping everything up by the way! Then add in the kale mixture, toss again, and set aside while you make the sauce.

sauce ingredients

3 tbsp smooth peanut butter

1-2 cups of boiling hot water

3 tbsp sesame oil

3 tbsp tamari soy sauce

2 tsp siracha sauce

In a large bowl put in the peanut butter, and begin mixing around while adding in two tbps of hot water at a time and mixing until well incorporated.  Once you have the desired sauce consistency (I like mine a bit thicker), add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Taste.  If you like to have a bit more spice, then add a bit more siracha sauce. If you accidentally made your sauce too runny, add a little more peanut butter and mix well.

To serve place the cooked rice at the bottom of the bowl, top with the salad mixture and pour the sauce over top.  You can also top with a little extra chopped almonds and cilantro to make it all look fancy 😀

Enjoy!

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r a c i s m : it is your problem

“The plague of racism is insidious, entering into our minds as smoothly and quietly and invisibly as floating airborne microbes enter into our bodies to find lifelong purchase in our bloodstreams.” – Maya Angelou

The snow was falling hard and fast on the remote Pennsylvania roads. House after house, crossroad after crossroad we passed, not a soul in sight. It was January 1, 2016 as Michael, Johannes and I drove from our home in Toronto, Canada down to our weekend retreat in Pennsylvania, some three hours away, through several small towns in the USA.

“Can you believe those flags?” Michael asked. I looked around. Bright red flags, with blue crosses and white stars were hung on every house, every gas station, every store along our route.

“The confederate flag Ana. They’re all flying the confederate flag.” Michael called out.

He was right.

I learned about this in school, about the American Civil War in history class, so why wasn’t the flag a recollection of the past? House after house screaming out “I am a racist” now seemed incomprehensible and wrong.  Why is the confederate flag not banned?! Why is it not illegal?!

I looked back at Johannes staring out at the world, listening to our conversation and I felt sick to my stomach. He was born white.  He was born and immediately he was awarded a different set of playing card. He was born without knowing hate and anything that he becomes is entirely my doing.  I, as his mother, have the responsibility of instilling on him the soundtrack of the world.  He is born loving everyone.  Open minded, with love in his heart, curiosity on his side. The world will change and shape him, and perhaps not for the better.

After the appalling atrocities that have taken place in the States against black human beings this week I realized two things: this has been happening all along, but we are now in an era of social media, private live streaming and personal sharing that is accessible and allows us all to publish our story quickly and pointedly.  And second, it affects all of us.  We all need to rise up, stand up, put our hands in the air and scream, “not in our name”!  You will not murder humans in the name of whites. That is not ok.  That is not OK.

Its my responsibility as a human, as a mom, to raise my boys to love and care for ALL humans.  And perhaps teaching them to disregard colour is wrong. So instead,

I will teach them to see the colour of one’s skin. And then I will teach them that skin is less than a centimetre thick and that when you peel it back all human beings are exactly the same.

I will teach them to see the colour of one’s skin.  And then I will teach them that our differences make us interesting, special, worthy of love.

I will teach them to see the colour of one’s skin.  And then I will teach them that every human has a mother, a father, sisters, brothers and love in their hearts.

I will teach them about the past.  And then I will teach them that our human responsibility is to learn from the past in order to better the future.

I will teach them about the horrors of today’s events.  And then I will teach them that they have to stand up for those who cannot always defend themselves even if it means putting themselves in harm’s way.

I will teach them that people kill for no other reason than pure hate.  And then I will teach them that hate does not win.

I will teach them that they are human and as a human there are responsibilities.

I will teach them that the best defence against hate is unity in love and acceptance.

I was born white.  My children were born white.  Nor they, nor I, will understand what our friends experience on a daily, weekly or constant basis.  But I do know that it is not ok for black mothers to warn their sons against wearing hoodies, or having to comply with the police.  I know that it is not ok to shed another human’s blood simply for the colour of their skin.

So when I see comments on the Black Lives Matter posts with retaliative statements such as “all lives matter” it infuriates me.  Because, yes! all lives matter. But that is NOT the point. Not ALL LIVES are being persecuted for their colour.  And right now we are not talking about ALL OTHERS.  We are talking about BLACK lives.  The lives that have been systematically been cut short for no other reason than the colour of their skin, it is infuriating.  And it should be infuriating for you too.

When I see posts on social media with naive comments such as “I’m so glad I live in Canada where this doesn’t happen.” it infuriates me.  Because yes! when I dig down deep this does happen in Canada. No we may not fly the confederate flag, and no, we may not be able to walk around bearing arms, but yes our police officers target minorities and routinely detain, persecute and racially profile them.

Racism is OUR problem.  Its everyone’s problem.

You want to stop it? Stand up.  Share your abolishment of the hatred.  Share your story.  Take a collective stand against universal racism. Volunteer with the local shelters.  Expose your sons, daughters, and yourself to everyone and everything so that love is socialized and accepted irregardless of skin colour rather than in denial of it.

And for the record, saying and doing nothing at all is part of the problem.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou

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tiny lessons

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“actually, the best gift you could have given her

was a lifetime of adventures…”, Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

Sometimes quotes inspire us, sometimes they lift us up.  Sometimes they evoke deeper meaning or act as simply something we can giggle at.

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I don’t have girls, obviously, but when I came across this quote while rifling through my worn out copy of Alice in Wonderland, I couldn’t help but stop.

Adventure.

I often think about just this exact though when it comes to the boys.  I try to think of the experiences I can share with them, new things that I can teach them, places we can travel to together.  Life is made up entirely of adventures isn’t it? big or small…but they are certainly adventures.

We may not have the largest back yard, the biggest house, or even two bathrooms for that matter.  But we have fun collecting rock samples, and finding tiny potato bugs Johannes names Seymour. At least I hope so.  Only time will tell I suppose.

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Perhaps naively, I believe adventures shape their personalities, their likes and dislikes.  The more they experience, the more fun they have with it, the more they’ll grow into balanced, happy young men, fathers, brothers, husbands, friends.

On the weekends we spend our time outside.  Planting new lavender bushes, or tending to our garden.  The boys participate, and love to help.

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One Sunday Johannes and his friend dug a hole for over 3 hours.  I heard them chatting the whole time, collaborating on a digging strategy.  When I saw their very large, and very deep hole, I asked, “What is this hole about guys? its very big”.

“We are digging our way to China, of course.  Would you like to come?”, the kids echoed back.

As it turns out they were creating their own magical adventure, complete with a destination and purpose.  They diligently worked at making it a reality, never could I have imagined that a task that seems so mundane to the rest of us brought them so much joy.

The disappointment crept in when they realized it was time for dinner, and they weren’t in China as they’d hoped.  So I promised to plant peonies in their hole and a giant pumpkin too.  Reluctantly they acquiesced.

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5 Minute Strawberries and Cream Dessert

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What do I want my kids to remember most about me when they’re old and grown and busy with their daily lives?

I don’t want them to remember a specific instance, or moment.  I don’t want them to have a single memory to look back on nostalgically.  Instead I want them to have a feeling of “I’m home” “I was home”.

I want them to bite into a freshly picked strawberry and instantly be reminded of their childhood.  I want them to smell the fragrance of a lemon tree on a trip down south and think back to their childhood home and fun summers in the back yard.  I want to be an all encompassing memory stored much deeper than words could express, and maybe even deeper than basic thoughts can resurface.

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We had fresh picked strawberries on Sunday, thank’s to my mom who always thinks to buy extra whenever she comes across something amazing. Initially I thought perhaps I would make strawberry jam from it because it seems to be a revolving favourite with both the boys, but then the guilt of bastardizing a perfectly good strawberry by drenching it in sugar and boiling it to near extinction got the better of me and I came to my senses.

I decided to make a really easy, simple dessert and let the flavour of the wild strawberries do the talking. So strawberries and cream it was, and in Johannes’ own words, “Mom this is the tastiest thing you’ve ever made in my life.” so I have big shoes to fill moving forward it seems.

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Here’s how you can make it too…if you have 5 minutes and perfectly sweet, ripe strawberries!

1 small container of 35% whipping cream

2-3 pints of sweet, fragrant, washed and quartered strawberries, stems removed

1 cup of sour cream

4 tbsp granulated sugar

Whip the whipping cream as is (you could add vanilla extract but it would likely overpower the strawberries) until peaks form. Pour the sugar over the cut strawberries and let stand for 3 minutes. Mix the sour cream with the sugar and strawberries.  Divide into bowls.  Top with whipped cream, and more strawberries if you wish.  ENJOY!

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