let’s take this outside

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So there’s this guy.

(No, this isn’t going where you think it’s going.)

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He’s really good friends with one of my really good friends, and recently started seeing my best friend. I’ve met him once.

The other day, my best friend was telling him about my blog and how all of the food looked delicious. Later that night, he sent her a photo of his dinner, saying “Kimmie’s got nothing on me.”

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I’m pretty sure those are fighting words, Wael.

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Get your gloves on and your baking pans out. You’ve got brownies to beat.

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Gluten-Free Brownies

Lightly adapted from David Lebovitz

Ingredients

six tablespoons butter
four ounces bittersweet baking chocolate
five ounces semisweet chocolate
three quarters cup sugar
two eggs, at room temperature
one and a half tablespoons cocoa powder
three tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
one cup pecan bits

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 8″ square pan (mine’s silicone, but if you’re using a metal one it might be helpful to line it with parchment or foil.)
Over low heat, melt butter and chocolate. Stir constantly – be careful not to burn the chocolate!
Once it’s all melted, remove from heat and stir in sugar and eggs.
Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer, and sift in cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. Use the whisk attachment to beat on medium-high for at least two minutes. I kindof let mine do its own thing while I cleaned up the kitchen – with no gluten, there’s no over-mixing to worry about. Fold in pecans.
Pour into square pan, and bake for about 30 minutes (you want the centre to be just set). Cool completely before removing from pan and cutting into squares.

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street cred… sort of

So I have a secret I’ve been wanting to tell you.

No, I’m not pregnant (sorry Leslie).

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I learned how to ride a motorcycle, and then I bought one. And I didn’t tell you because I didn’t tell my dad because I didn’t want to have an angry Eastern European swearing at me in Hungarian. Also I didn’t want to be disowned.

I almost told you before but I got scared that my dad might read it, or that my stepmom might read it and then tell my dad, so I deleted all the motorcycle references (which made it a pretty weak post, so I’m sorry about that). But now he has a Vespa and I’m throwing caution to the wind, so you get to know.

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I took the motorcycle course in mid-May, bought the bike a couple days before I left for China in early June, and – fearing jetlag – had a neighbour bring it home for me once I was back from China in late June. I was then either thwarted by weather or too busy to ride it or too scared to go alone until almost a week later, when I decided to stop making excuses and just go. I survived my first ride.

The bike didn’t.

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I started off by riding up and down my apartment building’s parkade a few times. The coating on the floor was and is incredibly sticky, and every time I turned a corner I thought I was going to fall over. I almost just parked the bike again and gave up, but I convinced myself to stop being a wimp and get out on the road before I ended up never riding the bike again.

To raise the gate when exiting our parkade, you drive over a thin air hose, and the pressure triggers the gate. The bike wasn’t heavy enough to trigger it. To my relief, a car pulled up to enter the parkade, and I got my friction point all ready for the hill start to exit as they entered.

I stalled. The gate shut.

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Then a car pulled up behind me, and after a few minutes of trying to get my point across by waving my arms around like a crazy person, the driver pulled far enough forward to trigger the gate. This time I made it out. After a few minutes of freaking out every time a car pulled up beside me or behind me, I got comfortable. I rode out to my old university campus and it was fine. More than fine. The wind and the power and the adrenaline were amazing. It reminded me of galloping a horse around a track. I could have happily stayed on a highway for hours.

(I did notice that I was starting to pick up some of my riding habits again. For example, every time I slowed to a stop, instead of saying “clutch and braaaake” like the school taught us, I would say “whoaaaa.” Judge away.)

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Anyway, I got back to and into the parkade without incident. It wasn’t until I was turning the bike around a tight corner to pull in behind my car that it started to tip over… and dropped. The manfriend had been making fun of me for buying a bike that I can’t pick up (but what bike would I be able to pick up? Even the tiny powerless ones are 200 pounds), but I didn’t really take it seriously until I was standing there in the parkade next to my horizontal bike with no idea what to do. The course I took never taught us how to pick up a bike if we dropped it (the closest they came to it was mentioning that, as a girl, men would come running from all directions to help me. As far as I could tell, there was no one – male or female – in the parkade). Luckily, a few minutes later, another guy on a motorcycle rode by on his way out, and immediately stopped to help me. Within the following minute, two other cars stopped and also offered assistance. All of these neighbours got really excited that I had a bike and kept telling me how beautiful it was. Which I maybe would have taken a bit more seriously if the beautiful bike in question wasn’t still lying prone on the parkade floor, the plastic cover for the right turn signal smashed (along with my heart and ego and hopes and dreams).

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Telling a friend about it hours later, she asked if I dropped it or if I let it down gently. Only then did I realize letting it down gently was even an option – in the moment I was mostly envisioning my leg getting crushed by 500 pounds of burning hot metal, so I leapt off it as it fell. I must have been 4 feet away by the time it hit the ground.

Anyway, we got it up and I got it parked and replaced the light cover – luckily there was no other damage – and (knock on wood) things have been fine since. But I had to spend some serious kitchen time to emotionally recover – and so… Cinnamon buns!

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Vegan Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients

eight grams instant yeast
one tablespoon sugar
one cup unsweetened almond milk
three tablespoons Earth Balance, any temperature
two cups whole wheat bread flour
one cup all purpose flour
three (more) tablespoons Earth Balance, cold
pinch of salt
one (more) tablespoon Earth Balance, melted
one tablespoon cinnamon
quarter cup sugar

Directions

Warm almond milk with three tablespoons of Earth Balance until it’s about baby-bottle temperature. Stir in tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for about ten minutes, or until yeast activates (gets bubbly).
In another bowl (I use a stand mixer because I’m lazy) sift in flours and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the next three tablespoons of Earth Balance (the cold stuff). When it’s pretty well mixed (you want it to be pretty crumbly with the largest bits of Earth Balance left no more than pea-sized), make a well in the centre and pour in the milk/yeast mixture. Stir a couple times and then get your dough hook attachment out. Knead for a few minutes until it becomes a ball. Knead a bit more. Take out of the stand mixer bowl and knead a bit more. If you’re feeling fancy, get all over this.
Lightly oil the bowl and put the dough back in to rise somewhere warm for about an hour.
In the meantime, mix the cinnamon and quarter cup of sugar in a small bowl. Toward the end of the hour is also a good time to melt your butter and grease a 8″ square pan.
When the dough has roughly doubled in size, beat it down and roll it out into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread the melted butter evenly over the dough.
Spread the cinnamon sugar mix evenly over the melted butter.
Roll the dough along the long edge as tightly as possible. With the seam down, cut into equal sized buns, about an inch and a half thick. Put the buns in a roughly even pattern in the square pan. Cover with a plastic wrap, and let sit again for about an hour, or until the buns have risen and are all touching.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake until golden brown, or about 25 minutes. Try not to overbake!

Optional frosting: I just mixed almond milk with icing sugar until I got the consistency I wanted (always use less milk than you think you’ll need!), or you could get fancy and do a cream cheese icing like this one (not vegan, though you could use Tofutti for the cream cheese and more Earth Balance for the butter).

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Finally, due to popular demand, here she is:

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sucky life challenge

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Can we press pause for a second and talk about this Whole Life Challenge thing? I need a moment to be honest about it.

It kinda sucks.

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I mean, at first it was sort of cool because even though I drank a ridiculous amount of water and peed every 3.7 minutes and missed jellybeans and took supplements that I’m not convinced did anything, I lost weight. Like 3.5 pounds in 3 days. That’s a lot.

But then it crept back up, and I was hovering around the net-minus-two-pounds range for a few weeks, and then I started to question the challenge. Like, why can I have sugar in my tea but not milk? And sweet potatoes but not normal potatoes? And corn tortillas and corn oil and fresh corn but not popcorn or corn taco shells? Who made up these ridiculous, arbitrary rules? (CrossFitters, that’s who.) And is gluten really the devil?

Pfft, no. Gluten is amazing.

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So basically I tried to fill the void in my life with a huge amount of paleo bread and paleo banana bread and paleo cookies. And they were okay, but they weren’t bread. So I’m kindof just over it.

(Also, what’s with the ridiculous amount of meat we have to eat? It makes me want to take a nap just thinking about it.)

I’ll be dreaming about gluten-filled cookies.

Like these ones.

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S’mores Cookies

Ingredients

one package graham crackers
three or four Hersheys milk chocolate bars, broken along lines
one cup butter
one cup sugar
one cup brown sugar
two eggs
one teaspoon vanilla
two cups all-purpose flour
one cup bread flour
one teaspoon baking soda
two teaspoons hot water
half teaspoon salt
one and a half cups chocolate chips
one and a half cups mini marshmallows

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet (I use 3 so I can rotate through) with parchment paper. Break graham crackers into squares, place on cookie sheet (I tried to leave about half an inch between crackers, but be warned they’ll slide all over) and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until combined.
In a small glass or bowl, stir hot water and baking soda. Add to butter mixture along with vanilla, and mix well.
Sift in flours and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows.
Scoop a large spoonful of dough onto each graham cracker – the marshmallows will be a bit of a pain, but don’t worry about them too much. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes.
Press Hersheys chocolate into each softened cookie, and bake for another 6 minutes, or until the edges are browning and the cookies look done. If the cookies have expanded over the crackers and they’ve all stuck together, it’s easiest to wait until they’re cool before breaking back into squares.

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peanut butter everything

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I keep getting sucked into pinterest and seeing all these beautifully heartbreaking quotes over instagrammed photos that make me want to curl up and cry. And maybe buy a few cats and get cosy with Netflix.

I refuse to give in.

I’m allergic to cats and I’m more than halfway through this ridiculous Whole Life Challenge and I can’t watch a television screen for longer than seven minutes before I think of eighteen other things I could be doing right that second.

So let’s battle this.

Starting with a chocolate peanut butter smoothie, because since the Whole Life Challenge started I eat peanut butter with everything, and, well… if I can’t have cats and Netflix, I should at least get chocolate.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

Ingredients

one and a quarter cups unsweetened chocolate almond milk (I like Almond Breeze)
one scoop chocolate protein powder (I use a whey-based protein because they taste better, but Vega makes good vegan ones)
one tablespoon cocoa powder
a huge spoonful of natural peanut butter
half a banana (frozen is better, if you’re planning ahead)
optional: a couple ice cubes (if the banana isn’t frozen)

Directions

Throw everything in a blender. Easy!

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the internet lately

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It’s fall, and these are the corners of the internet where I’d like to curl up with a mug of cream of earl grey and a West Elm throw and the dog.

For dreaming about next summer.

This makes me want to stay in bed and cry a little bit, but we’ve all been there.

For when you could use a good laugh or ten. (And to recover from the previous link.)

All fights should be resolved like this.

When you need a reminder that you aren’t missing out, despite what your Facebook feed might say.

Most days, most of us have no idea what the hell we’re doing… But this actually makes a lot of sense.

And this reminds us that it doesn’t matter that much anyway.

I’m doing my utmost to bring back exchanging greeting cards for all occasions, with handwritten messages inside. And no, “To [You], From [Me]” doesn’t count.

If you want to know how to approach someone or what their texts mean or how to make a relationship official… or if you just want to know what girls do when they go to the bathroom together.

And finally, because this is a space about food after all, this documentary is amazing and hilarious and heartbreaking and inspiring.

I’m ahead of myself again

You know what it’s way too early for?

Getting excited for Christmas.

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I’m upset that Christmas stuff is showing up in stores already, and yet… I have to admit it. I’m so excited. I’m excited for fuzzy socks and turkey dinners and movie marathons and finding the perfect gifts and ice skating and spiked peppermint hot chocolates.

Do you like how I just snuck ice skating in there all innocently, like I’ve actually gone ice skating in the past decade?

But hey – maybe this is the year.

And it wouldn’t be Christmas without cookies. Spicy, gingery cookies.

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So I’m making gingerbread, but I’m not bringing out my gingerbread man cutter yet. I’m rolling my dough extra thin and digging out some autumn leaf cookie cutters and hoping I can pass these off as gingersnaps.

Because it’s way too early to be getting excited about Christmas.

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Gingersnaps (vegan)

We’ve made these before. But that was Christmas, and this is… not. Yet.

Ingredients

two thirds cups canola oil
one cup sugar
half cup brown sugar
half cup molasses
half cup almond milk
one teaspoon vanilla
four cups all-purpose flour
one teaspoon baking soda
one teaspoon baking powder
one teaspoon salt
one teaspoon nutmeg
one teaspoon cloves
pinch all spice
half tablespoon cinnamon
one tablespoon ground ginger

Directions

Mix all your wet ingredients really well. Add in all the dry. Keep stirring until they’re all combined.
Scoop all of that out onto some plastic wrap, cover it up, and throw it in the freezer for an hour or a day or a week.
When you’re ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grab your dough (it may need a few minutes to soften if it’s been in the freezer for more than an hour) and roll it out to about a quarter of an inch. Cut out non-gingerbread-men shapes and put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Smush together all the remaining dough and repeat the process until you’ve used it all up. Bake each tray for about 10-12 minutes.

happy Sunday

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This feels like a good time to set some goals.

I’m not really sure why, since it’s not a new year or a new month or even a Monday. But here we are, so why not?

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I’d like to make it to 7am bootcamp twice a week, even though it’s dark and miserable and rainy and I’d really rather stay in bed.

I’d like to start taking dance classes again, and actually show up to class more than once or twice every couple months.

I’d like to get back on track with my eating – without going all-or-nothing crazy.

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I’d like to show more gratitude for and spend more time with my favourite people in my life.

And stop feeling pressured to hang out with people that I don’t love spending time with, whether or not they are wonderful people.

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I’d like to find more date-like things to do with the manfriend.

I’d like to finally check off items on my to-do list that have been there for 6 months.

I’d like to make Whole Life Challenge friendly muffins.

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Well, at least one of those is done.

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Banana Muffins (paleo, gluten free)

Ingredients

five ripe bananas
four eggs
quarter cup natural peanut butter
quarter cup natural almond butter
quarter cup coconut oil, melted
quarter cup coconut flour
quarter cup almond meal
one tablespoon cinnamon
one teaspoon ginger
quarter teaspoon cloves
one teaspoon baking soda
one teaspoon baking powder
one teaspoon vanilla
one teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin and set aside.
In a large bowl, mash bananas. Add eggs, nut butters and oil, and mix well. Stir in vanilla.
Sift in dry ingredients and stir until just barely combined. Scoop into prepared muffin pan.
Bake for about 22-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
These are best served right away (or re-heated later) with butter.

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