Quebec Travels – Architecture

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The other weekend Mr. Bean and I had a whirlwind trip to Quebec, where we spent a few days in Montreal, visited my sister and spent a day in Quebec City.

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I’ve always wanted to go to the old city in Quebec City as I love that style of architecture from the 1700’s with stone buildings and colourful wooden windows. Let’s just say that my inner 14-year-old was incredibly happy the entire time we wandered around.

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Architecture-4My favourite thing to do when visiting a new city or place is walk around and look at stuff. Then I get to see everything up close and I can pretend that I’m a local (plus, the exercise helps even out all the tasty food I inevitably eat. Priorities!)

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Chateau-Frontenac

Chateau Frontenac

Another one of the things I wanted to see was the Plains of Abraham, where the Battle of Abraham took place in 1759 where the British defeated the French, essentially setting Canada up to be an English-speaking county. Not that I’m a nerd or anything. :)

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360° view at Dusk

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View from the Citadel

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We stayed in a really sweet hotel called the “Chateau des Tourelles“. It’s a pretty sweet setup as the hotel is a bunch of adjacent flats combined and renovated. We had one of the studio rooms, which was on the top floor (our bathroom window is the mini pseudo circular window under the gable – how cool is that?). They even had a deck on their roof, which looked over the newer parts of Quebec city. I would definitely recommend this place if you’re ever going to go to Quebec City!

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Where have you always wanted to visit?

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Winter Adventures!

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(Clockwise) Cross Country Skiing at Moraine Lake, Kananaskis and Snowshoeing at Emerald Lake

Winter is really much more enjoyable when you do something to enjoy it. I know, it’s May so winter should be the last thing on my mind, but it’s still winter-y here. Maybe it’s the snow today or I finally feel slightly organized for the first time in a long time, but I thought it was the right time to share pictures from my winter adventures with you!

I haven’t really shared here that I started doing something last year that I used to think I would NEVER do: I tried downhill skiing and I LOVE it. Like “I-sometimes-take-days-off-in-the-middle-of-the-week-to-go-skiing” love it.  Add in some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and I can say that this (long) winter definitely wasn’t too bad!

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Snowshoeing up to the Fire Lookout in Peter Lougheed Park.

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Downhill Skiing at Sunshine and Nakiska

I even participated in this year’s work ski trip to Whitefish! It was a really fun trip despite a few adventures due to poor visibility and splitting up with the people I was skiing with.

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The best visibility that we had in Whitefish!

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Fun Times at Whitefish! The picture on the bottom left corner is the best visibility we had on the second day!

One day Mr. Bean and I decided that we were going to try going cross-country skiing, not realizing that it was too warm for any of the waxes that we had and that the snow was so bizarre it really wasn’t worth it. It was the “longest” trip we’ve ever had – about 50m of skiing. So we went for a walk at Kananakis Village instead. The sun even came out!

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View from Kananakis Village

I’ve met some pretty entertaining people on the ski lift – from the American guy in Whitefish who chewed us out for trying to put down the bar and then tried to make up for it by calling us “cute Canadian girls,” to the guy who asked me if I took selfies because it was my birthday to the old guys who were complaining how powder was horrible and they hated it.

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Skiing Nakiska & Travels Home

I’d have to say that my favourite day of skiing was my birthday! I took my flex day and you couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was sunny, warm and the snow was decent! By the end of the day the snow had really softened up, which was kind of fun as skiing through slush makes you feel like a hero!

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Birthday Skiing at Sunshine – Pretty much the best day ever! Look at Mount Assiniboine in the background!

Even though, as much as I love skiing, I am ready for spring to finally come!

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SRC: Couscous & Consciousness’ Double Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

CCouscous & consciousness Raspberry Brownies-5For April’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired with Sue from Couscous & Consciousness. Sue is a Kiwi who loves yoga, food and conscious eating. When I first opened her blog, I was greeted with load of beautiful photos of beautiful food. Yum! Foods like her Roasted Cauliflower and Almond Salad and her Fried Zucchini, Pea and Quinoa Salad , Asparagus, Artichokes, Argulua, Pomegranate and Beet Salad, and Apricot, White Chocolate and Cashew Nut Slice. (Apparently I was mostly on a salad kick when I was looking initially.)

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I ended up choosing her Double Chocolate Raspberry Brownies at Mr Bean’s Request as he needed to bring a “not-cake” to the birthday celebration at his work. Brownies have never really been my “thing” and I’ve made them maybe once before – I guess it’s not that surprising given that we weren’t a “chocolate” family, but I was surprised at how easy they were! You essentially mix things together in two separate bowls, mix the bowls together, add the mix-ins, pour it into the pan and into the oven it goes.

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I made a few adjustments – I reduced the sugar to 1 lightly packed cup, made it gluten free and used chocolate chips instead of chopped chocolate as that’s what the store had (Although, I would recommend that you use chopping white chocolate as the majority of the chips melted.) You can also easily make this recipe dairy and soy free by using a dairy free/soy free chocolate for both the white and dark chocolate.

I also made the brownies in a 8 x 8″ pan as I don’t own a 8 x 12″ one, which meant that it was more of a brownie cake than brownie squares and the cooking time was much longer as a result. I think even a 9 x 13″ pan would work and the cooking time would be much shorter as a result.

These brownies are moist, not super dense and very chocolate-y. I’m sure Mr. Bean’s coworkers will love them and not be able to tell they are gluten free!

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Gluten Free Double Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

280 g butter (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
250 g dark chocolate chips (The original recipe called for 200g chopped dark chocolate, but the store was out)1/3 c. each of brown rice, sorghum and tapioca flour
1/2 tsp. xathan gum
1 c. packed sugar
6 eggs
1 c. frozen raspberries
250 g white chocolate chips (Original recipe called for 200 g chopped white chocolate)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8 x 8″ pan with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat. Once it’s melted, remove from heat and stir in dark chocolate until it’s all melted. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, xathan gum and sugar. Add eggs and use the whisk to beat them slightly before using a spoon to mix it until smooth.
  4. Pour in the chocolate mixture and mix well. Fold in the raspberries and white chocolate.
  5. Pour batter into pan and bake in the oven for 60+ minutes (Start checking at around 45 min for doneness and rotate pan about half way through) or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and cool in tin. Cut into squares.
  7. Enjoy!

Sue, it was wonderful looking through your beautiful blog and I hope to try more of your recipes in the future!

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Please Check out the rest of Group D’s Recipes Below:

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Turnip to Tangerine’s Blueberry Spice Streusel Coffee Cake

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For March’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired with Lynn of Turnips 2 Tangerines. Lynn lives in Wisconsin and married her highschool sweetheat many years later (so cute!). She shares lots of amazing looking recipes including lots of baking! If I were eating dairy, I would totally want to try her lingonberry cheesecake – after going to Sweden, I love Lingonberries! I’m also super impressed with how good she is with making sourdough anything. She even has instructions on how to grow your own Avocado tree – if I wasn’t such a black thumb, that would be awesome to try!

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I ended up choosing her Blueberry Spice Streusel Coffee Cake – usually I don’t use cake mixes, but I had one I wanted to use up. The cake turned out really well! It probably helps that I followed the instructions on the box (shock!) – namely,  I used eggs as I knew I was going to be feeding it to my coworkers and the texture was amazing! It was fluffy, light and moist! My coworkers loved it and it disappeared quickly. I’d definitely make it again!

The only changes I made were that I didn’t use a spice cake, so I added my own, I reduced the sugar on the top by 1/4 c. and I didn’t add the frosting as it was still quite sweet to me.

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Gluten, Dairy and Soy Free Blueberry Spice Streusel Coffee Cake

1 – Betty Crocker GF Golden Cake Mix
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves
3 eggs
2/3 c. almond milk
1/2 c. Earth Balance Coconut Spread
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 c. frozen blueberries, thawed (Or fresh)

Topping:
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
3 tbsp. brown rice flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. coconut oil, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line the bottom of an 8 x 8″ pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the topping.
  3. Whisk together cake mix and spices.
  4. Add eggs, milk, vanilla and coconut spread and mix on low for 30 sec. Add vinegar and beat for 2 mins on medium.
  5. Fold in Blueberries and scrape into pan. (All mine went to the bottom, so I would recommend scraping a bit of batter to cover the bottom of the pan and then mix in the blueberries in the remaining batter before scraping into the pan).
  6. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake.
  7. Bake for 35 – 45 min or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.
  9. Enjoy!

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SRC: Food Baby Life’s Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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For February’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired with Susan of Food Baby Life. Susan is an amazing baker – just look at all the Daring Bakers, Tuesdays with Dorie and Baking with Julia challenges she has done! It was very hard for me to decide what I was going to make! I spent so long looking through recipes like her cornflake biscuits (so similar to what my grandma used to make for us when we were kids!), Spiced Apple Baked French Toast, or her Mediterranean Lamb Salad. Food Baby Life Chocolate Zucchini Muffins-1

I was having such a hard time deciding what I was going to make, so I asked Mr. Bean for help. I ended up choosing her chocolate zucchini muffins. I made them gluten free and a little bit healthier by replacing some of the oil with applesauce.

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I had a few issues – all of which would probably have been solved had I squeezed the water out of the zucchini prior to mixing it in. My muffins took almost 40 minutes to cook because the insides were too wet. Once they were cooked, they were pretty tasty!

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Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

1/4 c. each tapioca starch, potato starch, brown rice flour, sorghum flour and millet flour
1 tsp. xathan gum
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/4 c. cocoa
3/4 c. gluten free oats
1/3-1/2 c. coconut palm sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 small zucchini, grated & excess liquid squeezed out
1 egg
3/4 c. almond (or other dairy free) milk
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla

  1. 1. Line or grease a muffin tin and preheat oven to 350F. (I used 12 mini muffins and 9 normal sized)
  2. Shift together flours. Mix in the remainder of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  4. Pour the wet into the dry and mix until just combined.
  5. Spoon into prepared muffin tins and cook for 20 – 25 min for the normal sized muffins.
  6. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before cooling on a wire rack.
  7. Enjoy!

Susan, it was great looking through all the beautiful recipes on your blog! :)

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Please click below to see the rest of Group D’s recipes!

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