Eating my way around the world

Category: Dessert

Classic Christmas Cookies

Growing up in Canada, these two cookies were Christmas staples. My grandmother always made haystacks, and everybody’s mom had a version of shortbread she swore by. I loved the shortbread made with icing sugar because those cookies tended to just dissolve in your mouth. Another bonus is that these two recipes are ridiculously easy to make; because who wants to be a slave to the kitchen during the holidays?
Here are the links to these classics:


Advent Calendar

My husband brought my son back an Advent Calendar (Adventskalender) from his recent business trip in Düsseldorf, Germany. If you’ve never heard of these, advent calendars are used to count the days leading up to Christmas. Each day a new window is opened to reveal a picture or a poem describing the story of Christmas, either focusing on Jesus, or as ours does, Santa Claus. The majority of the time the slots also hold a little presant in the form of chocolates which you must hunt down since the calendar isn’t in chronological order.

Ours is geared more towards the proclivities of the adult palate: chocolates filled with cherries & kirsch, hazelnut nougat bathed in dark chocolate, rich truffles, and silky caramels. Yuummmm. And since the kiddo only has 6 teeth (4 of which are barely poking through) we decided as all responsible parents do, to spare him the agony of trying to bite through the chocolates and eat all the little morsels this year. Next year he can have all the fun;)


The kid & I share November as our birthday month. We both had chocolate in some form as our cake, because it’s not dessert if it’s not chocolate. Am I right?!??
Mine, pictured above, is The Best Chocolate Cake I have ever had. Period. It’s the combo of the sweet & sour sour cream-based icing paired with the ultra-moist, dense, & rich chocolate cake that made me have 2 slices per serving….
Chocolate Dump It Cake by Food52.


The kid didn’t have a traditional cake, he had A16’s Chocolate Budino as his dessert which he happily ate like a fiend. We typically don’t serve these unmolded, we just don’t own a million little spring form pans to serve picture perfect little cakes. Instead, we serve them in porcelain ramekins and usually omit the cake bottom of the recipe which leaves us with only the custard. Sprinkled with grey, flakey sea salt and drizzled with olive oil, these end up being divine Italian versions of chocolate pot de crème.


For the kiddo’s 1st birthday party, we also served an assorted charcuterie & cheese plate, Food & Wine’s Green Goddess Chicken Salad (this will be your go-to chicken salad from now on after trying this recipe. Trust me. And don’t try swapping the mayo for 0% fat Greek yoghurt, it just won’t be the same- I’ve already tried…), Heidi Swanson’s Farro Salad, and A16’s Monday Night Meatballs, although the recipe is really just a guideline for my husband. He has skewed so far from the original they’re basically his own. And unfortunately, he changes them each time he makes them, which means his versions have never been written down.
Every month should be birthday month in my opinion.

Airplane Food + Dark Chocolate Chunk, Coconut, & Banana Cookies

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Posting pictures of what I ate and where are half-assed jobs for blog posting if you ask me. But that’s exactly what I have been doing, shame on me. I was just recently in the Pacific Northwest- specifically Mt Rainier, Portland, and everything in between. Rainier was amazing, I highly recommend this spot for your bucket list of “Places to Visit”. The drive going into the national forest from the east on Highways 12 and 123 were amazing, I had no idea Oregon and Washington states encompassed so many different environments: on the coast you have the ocean, majestic evergreens, and fog. Heading east you encounter snow capped mountains, lava fields, the enormous, sunburnt rolling hills of the desert, and orchards, vineyards, lakes, and waterfalls dotted throughout. Pretty cool.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetWe flew from O’Hare, and as much as airports have improved in terms of healthy offerings and different restaurant options (hello Frontera Grill at O’Hare, and Shake Shack at JFK), I still can’t eat very much at airports because the majority of the food is highly processed. And highly processed food means there’s a lot of soy in it, either as soy oil (vegetable oil), soy protein isolate, soy lecithin, etc, or just straight up edamame. Soy is my kryptonite. Soy is also the ugly step-sister of gluten. Gluten intolerance gets all the fanfare and media attention, and a lot of eateries are offering gluten free fare, which is great, but that doesn’t help me out at all since most gluten-free foods have soy in them. What I’m left to eat are stale nuts, mealy apples, and rotting, brown bananas. Awesome…..

So I have learned to make my own food before a flight, especially long-haul trips to Europe or Asia, because a well-fed belly makes for a happy traveler. Here are a few recipe links for salads and such I have made and taken on flights. These dishes are sturdy enough to last unrefrigerated for several hours in your backpack, yet still hold their texture, stay tasty, and get you past security. I also pack a few Lara bars, some trail mix, a bar of dark chocolate, and a few pieces of fruit or carrot sticks. I reuse old, clear, carry out containers from Whole Foods or wherever to package my food in (much classier than reusing cottage cheese containers), and grab cutlery within the airport. Yes, this will make your bag heavier initially while traveling, but you will be so much happier. Also, those Lara bars and trail mix packages can save you when you arrive late at night somewhere and your food options are limited, like in the Middle East, India, or Vietnam.

Best fall salad, don’t wait for your next trip to make this
-I made this salad for my flight to Zurich a few years ago. I kept the cheese, but omit it if you just don’t feel comfortable keeping your cheese out for so long
-I made this stir fry for my flight to Milan. I omitted the tofu (obvi) and subbed toasted walnuts instead
-For shorter, domestic flights, I love snacking food such as these granola bars (a side note: they are super crumbly. I’m still figuring out a way to bind them more efficiently; freezing them definitely helps. Nonetheless, the flavour is Divine)
-Wow, another Heidi Swanson recipe; I told you she was my cooking goddess….. Right now, summertime, is the perfect time to make this amazing gratin. I always double it so that everyone can have thick servings, and so that I can have leftovers for lunch the next day if there’s anything left.
These baked beans are a winter comfort-food staple of mine
-I have made this lentil salad for trips to Paris, Amsterdam, and Germany. It holds up super well, and can easily be doubled in case you have a large potluck party to go to. I normally add in kale (doesn’t wilt as much for long flights), broccoli, red peppers, carrots, walnuts, all of the herbs she suggests, cauliflower, and avocado. The dressing is what makes this salad, double the amount if you use a lot of add-ins

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For this past trip out West, I made these cookies. They are an adaptation of these. I subbed dark chocolate for the walnuts because I’m a new mom who can’t drink caffeine (woe is me), so chocolate has been my go-to pick me up, and I added chia seeds for a bit of “health”. If you’re gluten free, try subbing the wheat germ for buckwheat flour as a binder and let me know how it turns out.
These are very soft. You can keep them in the oven for a bit longer than suggested, but they will still turn out soft. I am assuming the coconut oil is keeping them incredibly moist. For our trip, I popped them in the freezer so that they could hold their shape a bit longer in my backpack. Again, don’t wait for your next trip to make these, eat these banana-bread-like-cookies now:

-3 ripe bananas, mashed
-1/4c melted coconut oil
-1 tsp Tahitian vanilla (it really is the best. Mexican vanilla is my next choice), or the seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
-1/4c Grade B maple syrup (fun facts: maple syrup contains potassium, magnesium, and iron. It is also considered beneficial for our digestive and circulatory systems. Grade B is the darkest, and has the strongest flavour)
-1c old fashioned oats, can be gluten-free
-1/4c wheat germ
-2/3c almond meal
-1Tbsp chia seeds (I’m sure you are well aware of chia’s health benefits: protein, fiber, Omega 3 fatty acids, and all essential amino acids)
-1/2tsp aluminum-free baking powder
-1 4oz bar good, dark chocolate, chopped into large chunks. (I like Schraffen Berger, and Valrhona, and have always had a sweet spot for Lindt)
-1/2c unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut

-Preheat oven to 350F, and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
-In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stir to combine.
-Drop large spoonfuls onto the parchment, bake for 16 – 18min rotating the cookie sheets 180° halfway, and until golden underneath
-Makes about 12 – 16, depending on how large or small your spoonfuls are