Thursday, September 18, 2014

Quebec City...pack your bags, people.

It's not easy to surprise your husband with a 50th birthday trip. 
Heck, I could barely click "purchase now" for the airline tickets without asking his opinion on the prices and flight times.
visiting Quebec City ... a photo tour
Quebec City has been on our "maybe someday" list of places to visit every since my cousin and her husband (remember their engagement cookies?) honeymooned there.
(Also, they just had a baby girl yesterday...named Bridget. I cried. Hi, baby Bridget!!!)
I remember seeing the pictures and thinking that Quebec City looked magical.  It is.

So many people have asked, "why Quebec City?"  Since I was sold on it through pictures, that's what I'll share with you, too.  Mainly pictures and a few tidbits.  (No, this is not a sponsored post.  Yes, Quebec City...consider this an open letter.  We're available for relocation. ;))

I could talk all day about these yellow shutters...
visiting Quebec City ... a photo tour
Utterly charming.

visiting Quebec City ... a photo tour
{Yes, that is a water fountain for horses. I TOLD you...QC is SO cute!!!}

Quebec City likes its statues...
visiting Quebec City ... a photo tour

The food. Oh my gosh. This is from a bakery called Le Croquembouche. Mr. E ordered an ice cream. Kiddo ordered a sandwich. My order is below: quebec city bakery ...
That little pastry with the heart is chocolate mousse with a praline crust covered in dark chocolate.  I'll remember that forever.

Before the trip, I tried to learn a little French on the sly. My French app really seemed to understand me. french language app
Also, every time I spoke French to someone, they answered me in English.  Hey, I tried.

visiting Quebec City ... a photo tour
No trip out of the country is complete without a parking ticket.  Just ask my dad who has a 20-year-old outstanding parking ticket in Ireland.  (PS: we paid this one.)

Montmorency Falls, just outside Quebec City
There are lots of cool things to see outside of the city, too.  Like Montmorency Falls.  Not as wide as Niagara Falls, but taller.

Montmorency Falls, just outside Quebec City
Y'all.  We rode a cable car to the top...walked across a bridge over the top of the falls, and walked down about a million steps to get back down.  It was cool.

The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.  Beautiful.
Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, just outside Quebec City


Let me tell you about the hotel where we stayed:
Le Chateau Frontenac.
It's easy to see why it's the most photographed hotel in the world.  I could NOT stop taking pictures of it...from every angle. (It's in the first picture of this post and a few of the collages, too.)
visiting Quebec City ... a photo tour (Le Chateau Frontenac)
{Again, this is not a sponsored post...but if you visit, think about staying here, or at least have a drink in the bar.}

visiting Quebec City ... a photo tour (Le Chateau Frontenac)
Lobby.

visiting Quebec City ... a photo tour (Le Chateau Frontenac)
Gorgeous bar.

visiting Quebec City ... a photo tour
I knew we had breakfast included with our stay, but let's be honest, hotel breakfast are usually a let down, right? Not this one. I contemplated staying there all day. Four (4) kinds of croissants, fresh crepes, eggs, CHOCOLATES (!!!), and a million other goodies, PLUS juice in the cutest glass bottles. There was even a big bowl of Nutella! It was dreamy. 
{Yes, the longest paragraph of this post is about a breakfast buffet.}

We were totally smitten with Le Chateau Frontenac...and so glad that my cousin & her husband recommended it.

visiting Quebec City ... a photo tour
There are SO many things to see, and do, and EAT.  The museums, Ile d'Orleans, etc., etc. If you go, will you take me with you?

quebec city boys photo quebeccitycollageboys.jpg
PS...Mr. E was totally surprised with the trip! Maybe we'll go back for his 51st. ;)



Monday, September 15, 2014

Seriously Delish Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

This post is making me so happy...and I'm only on the first sentence. ;)  Today, we're talking about a fantastic new cookbook, we're talking about chocolate chip cookies...and well, we might even see a fluffy kitty.  See?  So much to be happy about.
Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food

Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food is the first cookbook (I predict of many) from Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats.  I've been a fan of Jessica's for...forever.  I love her recipes, many from her blog have become staples in our house.  I love her fun style of writing.  I love that Jessica LOVES FOOD.

whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from the Seriously Delish cookbook
I've already made 4 recipes from her book...we have loved each of them.  Last week, kiddo had a friend over for dinner and I made the Green Chili Turkey & White Bean Enchiladas. I think we demolished the entire pan in 5 minutes.  So good.
We'll be talking about those Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies more in a minute.

Here's a little peek inside:
Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food ... cookbook review
When I read it, I really felt like Jessica was hanging out with me in my kitchen.  Such an engaging and personable read...I love that in a cookbook.

Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food ... cookbook review
The photography is beautiful.  Not only did Jessica develop the recipes, she did her own photography.  Multi-talented, that one.

Jessica has this knack for creating recipes that are unique and modern and fresh, but still keeping them simple enough to make every day.  Next on my list:  Amaretto-Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Toast Croutons (!!!), Parmesan-Pistachio Kale Chips, and the Fleur de Sel Caramel Bourbon Brownie Milkshakes (oh. MY. gosh.).

kitty reads a cookbook
Spike was very interested in the Buffalo Chicken Pizza.

fluffy kitty reviews a cookbook ;)
He REALLY likes this book. 


The cookies.  In my option, there is nothing better than a chocolate chip cookie.  Nothing.  Well, maybe the dough before it's baked, but basically nothing.  A cookie that is made with whole wheat and oat flour, though?  That might even be better than the original.
whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from the Seriously Delish cookbook
I felt so good about eating all that whole wheat that I ate a few extras purely for the health benefits.
You say multi-vitamin, I say cookie.  Tomato, to-mah-to.

whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from the Seriously Delish cookbook
print recipe photo printrecipe.jpg

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

{reprinted with permission from Seriously Delish}

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 TBSP (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet)

Preheat oven to 350.  In a bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter on medium until smooth and creamy.  Add both sugars and beat on high speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and beat until combined, another 2 to 3 minutes.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Use a large spoon to stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the dough (I used a cookie scoop) and roll it into a ball.  Place the dough balls on nonstick baking sheets 2 inches apart.  Bake until cookies are set around the edges and slightly golden, 10-12 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then remove them with a spatula and place on a cooling rack.

whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from the Seriously Delish cookbook
Yeah, they ARE delish!

Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food ... cookbook review
So, Seriously Delish?  You want it.  Oh!  And, check to see if Jessica is coming to your town on her book tour.  I went to the one in Houston, and not only is Jessica a doll, but the entire crowd was just so delightful.  I feel sure it's the same in every city...Jessica brings the fun with her.

spike the cat ♥
Seriously Delish.  Mom tested, kitty approved. 



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sweet on Trader Joe's Saturday: Brownie Truffle Baking Mix

Time to review a little something new this week...one of Trader Joe's baking mixes.
trader joe's truffle brownie mix ... yay or nay?
We've never tried a TJ's baking mix before, but I always think it's a good idea to have a brownie mix in the pantry for emergencies. 

Trader Joe's Brownie Truffle Baking Mix makes an 8x8" pan of brownies.  The mix is made with Dutch cocoa and chocolate chips, and the box costs $2.99.

The brownies are easy to mix up, just add eggs and melted butter.

trader joe's truffle brownie mix ... yay or nay?
A mom's (my) take: It's hard to make a bad brownie...and these are not bad at all, just not my favorite.  The brownies came out really dry around the edges and on the top.  I like a fudgy, shiny-topped brownie.  (The instructions were very specific about using a toothpick to test for doneness in "several locations." I don't normally do this with brownies, especially ones with chocolate chips like these. I think this is why they came out a bit dry.)  The center was tasty, but I ended up tossing the dry edges.  This mix won't be the one I keep in my pantry for dessert emergencies.
Overall rating: 3 of 5 stars

A teenager's (kiddo's) take: Like my mom, I prefer a chewier, softer brownie. However, these brownies are amazing if you are a "dry brownie" person. The chocolate is actually very rich and flavorful, even though the brownies themselves are a bit dry.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

trader joe's truffle brownie mix ... yay or nay?

Trader Joe's Brownie Truffle Baking Mix: not bad, not great.


Want to see more of our reviews of Trader Joe's desserts?  Click here.



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