Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween Pretzel Sticks


Once upon a time there was a girl who craved something sweet and salty. She thought of possible combinations that would excite her taste buds, like sea salt chocolate, or chocolate/caramel covered bacon but those two wouldn't cut it. She wanted to incorporate festive colors into a seasonal sweet and salty treat. So, the idea of Halloween pretzel sticks was born!

 

As you can see from the image above, there are many different toppings you can add onto dipped pretzel sticks. The important thing is that those toppings have something to stick to. I chose orange candy melts, chocolate and caramel. Also pictured above are Skor bits [or little bits of heaven].  The possibilities for toppings are endless - Smarties, M&M's, crushed almonds, coconut, white chocolate, sprinkles, etc.


First, you'll want to melt your candy melts. I used the double boiler method. If you don't have candy melts, white chocolate works well too. To get that ideal orange color, you simply add a few drops of food coloring, but you can always leave it as white.


Same goes for chocolate, just stir until you get a smooooth consistency. If the mix starts to harden or get clumpy, add a touch of oil [about 1-2 tsp]. I used melted coconut oil, but any oil should do the trick. 

 

Melting the caramel was a trickier to work with. I had to pop this guy in and out of the microwave, stirring vigorously, and adding oil every few seconds. Eventually you will get a gooey caramel sauce. I didn't have the patience to let it melt all of the way, so I just drizzled the pretzels with it, instead of dipping them entirely.
 

Finally, a tray of the finished sticks! [tip: let the sticks dry on parchment paper so they peel off easily and you have a quick clean up.] We have a few dipped in the orange candy melts, topped with Skor bits, chocolate drizzle, caramel squiggles. Some different combinations that I tried were sprinkles of crushed almonds, orange sprinkles, and coconut.  

Wrap these festive sticks in long plastic treat bags, tie the tops with orange or black ribbon and you have a cute and delicious, seasonal treat. Enjoy!

For more creative ideas, here are some ideas:



I already have ideas for Christmas pretzels...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cozy with Coffee


Cozy knit sweaters, combat boots and dark skinny jeans - the epitome of my fall wardrobe. Ottawa's weather has been decent; some warm days, a few rainy days and a handful of chilly days as well. I've definitely been keeping myself busy with school work, midterms, energized by multiple cups of coffee with almond milk and the occasional shake of cinnamon if I'm feeling wild. You don't think putting cinnamon in your coffee is wild? It's kind of a thing I'm obsessed with. If I'm spending hours in the library, comfort is essential and luckily my TNA skit sweater always keeps me comfortable and warm. As for the boots, I've been wearing them almost every day, switching it up with my brown riding boots, or my sister's black combat boots. I even featured the combat boots in an outfit post here last year. Obsessed.


Sweater: TNA - Jeans: American Eagle - Boots: Payless Shoe Source

Friday, October 05, 2012

Friday Finds 4: Thanksgiving Edition

I can't believe that we will be celebrating Thanksgiving this Friday! Well, for my Canadian friends I should say. I'm sitting here in the student run cafe at my school, isolated on the couch near the big windows, sprinkled with fresh raindrops, displaying a great view of campus. Long and wide sidewalks, luscious and towering evergreens, burnt orange and golden yellow leaves falling, leaving the trees half naked, and of course the people scurrying around to avoid the rain. Campus is rather empty due to the holiday, 'University Day', so everyone decided to take the day off [other than myself obviously].

Anyways... Thanksgiving! That's this Monday! Or Sunday, depending on when you decide to celebrate, but if you don't celebrate it, that's totally cool too. I love Thanksgiving festivities because it gives me an excuse to bake with some of my favorite ingredients, and pull some new recipes out to test, and hopefully please everyone's seasonal palette. I've come across some new autumnal recipes on the blogosphere that I'm going to share today[did I actually just say 'blogosphere'? don't ask].

Without further ado... here is my 'Friday Finds: Thanksgiving Edition!'

 
Butternut squash stuffed shells. Think ricotta stuffed shells... but an autumnal spin on them with a bechamel sauce. If you like rich, luscious and cheesy dishes, this one is for you.


I went to the grocery store with my mom the other day, and we picked up an acorn squash. I didn't know what to do with it, until I stumbled upon a recipe for wild rice stuffed squash. This recipe includes cherries and pecans - two of my favorites!



You know that 'cranberry jelly' that comes in a can, that jelly that just shlooops out of the can? I loved that stuff as a child but last year I couldn't go near it. Why buy the canned godknowswhat'sinthat cranberry 'stuff' when you can make a homemade version that will leave your house smelling sweet and tart - like the perfect seasonal candle! Perhaps a recipe for Apple Cranberry Sauce with Crystallized Ginger is right up your alley.


Now, you'll need a nice beverage to accompany your big meal, right? A 5 ingredient pumpkin frappuccino is a good idea [or great if you ask me]!
 


And for dessert... why not make a Halloween inspired cake? The girls over at 'A Beautiful Mess' put together a very simple n' spooky ghost cake. If you're not an expert cake decorator but you can wrap a cotton ball in some cheesecloth and stick a skewer in it, then this cake is an easy project for you. 

You may have noticed that there is not turkey recipe. Turkey's good, although my favorite are the side dishes that are on the table. Vegetables or all sorts, breads, deserts, etc. The possibilities are endless.

And last but certainly most not least, even if you are not celebrating this weekend, remember to count your blessings and reflect on the finer things in life. Think about what you're grateful for, even the things that you are not grateful for and spin them around viewing them in a positive light. Positive and hopeful thinking is one thing my mother taught me, and that I am thankful for, along with many other things in life such as you guys for reading my blog :) A few years ago Joy came out with a post on being thankful. Check is out here, it's a great read.

Q: What are you looking forward to eating this Thanksgiving? Do you have any baking favorites?What are you thankful for?

Monday, October 01, 2012

Octobrrrrrr


It feels like in the blink of an eye, September has come and gone. September was a busy month due to University fall classes starting, my birthday and beginning holiday prep. My birthday wasn't what I expected for my 19th. I spent it at school, all day and got home after 10pm, hitting my comfy bed shorty after. Is it weird if I say that I didn't even mind? I'm not a huge fan of big celebrations, especially if the attention is towards myself. But, I did visit a good friend in Toronto with another girlfriend this past weekend and that trip was great. The 5 hour bus ride there and back wasn't even that bad either because I was able to get some textbook readings done. Priorities. The long bus rides also got me reflecting on the past month and the upcoming fall season. September was a stressful month, so I knew in order to stay on top of things, I had to set some goals [posted here]. Let's recap shall we:

  1. Book a dentist and optometrist appointment - done and done! The only thing I need to keep up with is flossing! 
  2. Blog 2-3x a week - total fail. Oops. Still working on this one.
  3. Eat better/healthier/cleaner - some days were good, some where bad [just check out the birthday chocolate I got!!]. I have a new plan to eat healthy this month! More on that later.
  4. Make healthier recipes - did a little bit better on this one. It's a continuing goal.
  5. Do more ab work - I did well on this one too. I worked on my abs almost every night, but now I just need to add more variety into my routine. Planks can get a tad boring, right?
So, with about half of those goals accomplished, I'm continuing to work on the old ones and I have a few new goals as well:

  1. Continue with eating healthier - how do I plan on accomplishing this? Well, I've signed up for Unprocessed October. In a nutshell, it's eating only unprocessed foods throughout the entire month. This is a tough one for many people but you are allowed to go at your own pace. For example, eating one unprocessed meal a day is already a huge step. With that said, it brings me to my next goal...
  2. Be successful with Unprocessed October - I'm aiming for 90% unprocessed. But that 10% doesn't mean junk. It means foods like Earth Balance, almond milk and other healthy alternatives - more on that later in a future post.
  3. Stop buying Starbucks expensive drinks - it's an unhealthy and expensive obsession. I'm looking at you, soy pumpkin spice lattes.
  4. Get caught up in school work and stay on top of it - Midterms are coming up [4 in one week!!] and I need to do well in order to get into my program.
Only four basic goals this month. Attainable and I'm happy to make them on this chilly, Monday afternoon. Now I'm off to my psychology class, and then the library for some studying. Sigh.

Q: What would you like to accomplish this month?