cold

When in doubt, chocolate.

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It’s been absolutely FREEZING the past few days. I’m not sure if it’s just me being a huge wimp, but it seems like winter is neverending. We have an extreme cold warning for the next week – yes that’s a thing here in Canada – it’s supposed to be -24 degrees Celsius feeling like -33 with the windchill. Lovely. Needless to say other than the extremely brisk walk between my house/car/workplace I don’t subject myself to the elements. If anyone’s looking for me I’ll be hibernating in my blanket fort denying the existence of any temperature below zero.

On a brighter note, being cooped up inside has forced me to come up with new activities to pass the time, most of which include food … Smartie Chocolate Chip cookies specifically. There’s just something so comforting about the smell of baked goods – especially ones made with chocolate.

I’ve stated before that I’m not a baker – having to precisely measuring out ingredients and really just following directions in general has never really appealed to me, so naturally this recipe is extremely forgiving. I was even able to successfully sub in coconut oil for butter so it gets extra points for being kind of healthy!

Smartie Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 cup Coconut Oil*, melted

1/4 cup Butter*, melted

1 Egg

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

3/4 cup Brown Sugar

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 cup All-Purpose Flour

1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

1/2 cup Smarties

*I’ve made the recipe with 1/2 cup Coconut Oil instead of a quarter cup of both butter and coconut oil and it’s turned out just fine! The butter seems to make the cookies a bit fluffier, whereas the coconut oil only cookies came out flat (but still delicious)

Set your oven to 325 degrees Celsius. I always forget to do this first and end up having to wait for it to warm up. For anyone who is impatient like me this is THE MOST unfortunate thing that could occur – I just want to bake my cookies and devour ALL them as soon as humanly possible, forgetting to turn on the oven really impedes this process.

Next you’re going to want to melt your butter and coconut oil – I do this because I personally can’t be bothered to wait for the blender to adequately combine the sugar and whatever fatty base I’m adding it to. I find that melting the oil makes the sugar dissolve much quicker, plus most of the time my butter comes straight from the fridge and is as solid as the French Baguette you bought for lunch last week and forgot in the cupboard. If you haven’t noticed most of the things I do are because I’m lazy/forgetful/impatient. To be completely candid, the first batch of these I cookies made I used my Magic Bullet, in my mind smaller appliance = easier to clean = more likely that I’ll be able to get away with leaving them in the sink for someone else to wash (see lazy).

Getting back to the recipe … after you’ve sufficiently combined the melted coconut oil/ butter add in the egg and vanilla and mix until it’s a nice light brownish yellow colour. Next you’re going to want to add in the brown sugar – I add them in 1/4 cup at a time, but hey feel free to add the whole 3/4 at once, it’s a free country. By the time you’ve beat that all together you should have a smooth medium brown watery glob of tastiness at the bottom of your mixing bowl.

Now is time to add the dry ingredients into the wet. The original recipe said to sift/whisk together the flour and baking soda, but that meant I would need to wash yet another dish sooo I just add the flour to the mix in 1/4 cup lumps and the baking soda after the second quarter cup addition. To all those of you thinking jeeze this girl is lazy – yes, yes I am, and I find laziness is the key to my ingenuity so just let me live my life.

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Toss in whatever chocolatey goodness your heart desires – for me that was Smarties and dark chocolate chips, but you could really toss in anything – I imagine squares of caramilk bars would also be delicious (if anyone ends up trying this let me know and please send some for testing).

Now is the choose your own adventure portion of this recipe … your options are to:

A) Place the batter in the fridge to chill for half an hour, then rolling them into perfect 1 inch balls, spacing them out adequately and placing them in the oven

B) Screw chilling the batter and toss these on a cookie tray and getting those buggers cooked ASAP

C) Chilling them in the fridge for 5 minutes, taking them out (and sneaking a spoon of raw dough), then quickly deciding you can wait no longer and these chocolately morsels must be baked like YESTERDAY

… if you chose option B/C hit me up sometime because we have the potential to be BEST friends.

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But for real, roll out teaspoon-ish sized (1 inch) balls with about 1.5 inches between them minimum. If you’re cooking with the full 1/2 cup of coconut oil you’ll probably need about 2 inches because those suckers flatten out.

You’re going to need to wait about 18 minutes till they reach optimal chocolate-gooeyness. They should be light brown on top and slightly darker around the edges.

After eighteen AGONIZING minutes you’ll have the greatest little treat to share (or not).

FYI here’s the difference between the coconut oil only cookie versus the butter/coconut oil combo one …

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100% Coconut Oil

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50% Butter 50% Coconut Oil

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Battling the Winter Blues

The aftermath of last winter's snowstorm

The aftermath of last winter’s snowstorm

I’m a summer baby in every sense of the word, I was born on a hot summer night in August and have reveled in warm weather my entire life. As a child I spent my summers running around the park behind my house, playing in the forest, or pool hopping. If it was above 20 degrees Celsius you could count on me being outside soaking up every ray of sunshine I could. While some people complain about blistering 30 degree weather, I’m completely in my element – those days with heat wave warnings, they’re my favourite. I’ve always associated the heat of summer with absolute freedom; as the days grew warmer I was that much closer to ridding myself of the responsibilities of school and whatever stress came with it. Summer is synonymous with happiness to me, so when the cooler weather inevitably rolls around you can imagine how my mood plummets.

Living in Canada means that I’m subjected to seemingly never-ending winters. The first snowfall marks the beginning of my own personal hibernation season – my motto is if it’s below freezing count me out. Aside from the obvious social drawbacks of being cooped up all winter, living as a weather-induced recluse is mentally draining.

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This year, I’m trying to brainstorm ways to keep busy during these frigid months in hopes of improving my outlook on the snowiest season. In typical list-loving fashion I’ve created an index of activities and things I want to accomplish between November and March. I’ll probably be adding to it over time, but here’s what I have so far!

1. Host a dinner party
2. Learn how to make chicken pot pie
3. Build a snowman … while singing do you want to build a snow man :)
4. Take my younger cousins out
5. Decorate my house for Christmas
6. Host a fondue/cocktail party
7. Make all of the hot chocolates on this infographic
8. Go to the Toronto Christmas Market
9. Go skating at an outdoor rink
10. Knit a scarf
11. Take photos of a fresh snowfall
12. Make a festive bread pudding
13. Make homemade dog treats
14. Make a printed t-shirt
15. Sew another shirt – I made one before Europe but bought material to make a second, the design’s from this blog!
16. Buy another onesie … I’m on a hunt for a panda one!
17. Make a list of New Years resolutions
18. Make a perfectly roasted chicken
19. Clean up my Macbook
20. Organize my closet
21. DIY some Christmas gifts (maybe bath bombs? I LOVED these when I was little)
22. Create a monthly meal plan – and stick to it
23. Learn to make gnocchi
24. Perfect my hummus recipe
25. Learn to make falafel balls
26. Make a croquembouche tower – preferably for my dinner party
27. Learn to make my Dad’s beef stew
28. Make a mini terrarium for my room
29. Organize my new Filofax (it should be shipped just in time for Christmas!)
30. Write Christmas cards to both my Great-Grandmothers
31. Visit at least 2 restaurants on this list
32. Make a custom ceramic mug with a sharpie (I love this one!)
33. Make my own body butter – I need to find a good recipe for this … my Bath and Body Works bill has been getting out of control.
34. Redecorate my room
35. Continue planning my next international adventure
36. Perfect my mussels recipe (I’ll be doing a post on this soon!)
37. Find the perfect winter soup recipe
38. Purchase the perfect over-the-knee boot
39. Go on a winter hike
40. Go tobogganing
41. Bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie
42. Learn to make the Butterbeer that was at Harry Potter World
43. Make a photo album of my last Eurotrip
44. Make a Cake Batter Protein Shake (recipe here)
45. Watch all the old Christmas classic movies – I’ll never grow out of watching Rudolph
46. Learn how to waterfall braid
47. Clean out and reorganize my closet
48. Learn to make sushi
49. Redecorate my bathroom
50. Spend more time with family and friends

As you can see a lot of them have to do with food – the only upside I see to cold weather is that gaining a pound or two isn’t as easily detected under big sweaters – not to mention that it’s near impossible for me to lose weight while stuffing my face with turkey around the holidays!

I’m hoping by the end of this winter I’ll feel more like this …

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Do you like winter, or dread the season like me? What are some things you do to keep busy when it’s cold out?