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Baking tips 101| The Adventure Of My First Pie (Vegan)

hello darlings!

I am not sure how I can describe the joy I feel as I write this post! What is the special occasion? I finally baked my first pie...ever! Because fall is everywhere else (except here in the tropics) my Canadian soul craves for apple filled, cinnamony, and nutmegy  things. As a result, I decided to ignore this Caribbean heat and slave away in the kitchen to make a pie. I've always loved pies but the opportunity (or the effort) to learn always seemed to pass me by due to the fact that I lived close to a great bakery in Montreal that provided opportunities in excess for me to satisfy my sweet tooth. 

Then, when I moved to a small town in Tennessee, my pie obsession grew and I thought to myself "with all these great bakers around me I will surely learn how to bake some goodies." Alas, it did not happen. So, after contemplating the idea during the summer I decided that this Fall I would teach myself to bake a pie. I had these moviesque visions of how it would be: Flour flying in my sunbathed kitchen as I prepared to roll my perfect crust mix with my beautiful new rolling pin (one that I still did not own until the day before). I looked forward to the great smell of a still-undetermined flavor filling up the whole house. Just an overall baking utopia.  However, I had also heard countless times that a pie crust was hard to nail and just the  idea of not getting it right and wasting all that time made this "pie crust virgin" a little intimidated not to mention the fact that our oven is sometimes only semi-functional. I feared that I would put all this work into something that could potentially turn into a disaster and I wasn't sure that my heart could take it. Now I know it's not that serious, but for some reason I acted as if the queen of England was coming to dinner and I need to make her a perfect pie. No queen, no dinner, just my husband and I overly excited over dessert. 

I decided to bake my pie on a day my husband would be home, that way I would at least have his moral support. After a careful research, I settled on this Vegan Apple Pie recipe that I adapted. After buying all the ingredients, I realized that I was still missing a pan and a rolling pin so I sent my husband on the hunt. Being the supportive husband that he is, he not only bought what I asked but he got a little carried away and bought me a high-end, ceramic rolling pin (he said it should last long enough for our grandchildren to use as well), a pan and he even got me a very useful and practical baking mat. It's wonderful because it has all the measurements and metric conversions that this Canadian sometimes needs, a diagram showing how far I should roll the crust according to the size of the different pie pans. Basically, it was a perfect beginner's tool for a pie rookie like me. 

The big day
That morning, after putting my hair in my legendary "Val-bun", like my friends call it, I  laid out all my ingredients on my huge dinning table. Armed with tutorials on three different gadgets, I got to work. There was defintely flour everywhere, however, it was not as glorious as I had imagined.

The crust
I learned that there are 2 important secrets to a good crust: chilled chunks of butter and small amounts of iced water that you spoon into the mixture gradually. I mixed the dry ingredients and when the time came to press the butter unto the flour, I became unsure of what that meant. It was probably the excitement of it all that was making my vocabulary knowledge a bit cloudy. I panicked and frantically looked for a youtube tutorial in which I could get a 101 level course of how to do it.

Note that I had to make dough for the crust twice, because the first batch was crumbly and worked perfectly for the bottom crust but did not roll well for me to put on the top part. I faced the setback with courage and grace and decided to start the whole process again and make a second one, which by the way, came out perfect (and yes, I did my happy dance, the same one I do when I get snail mail). 

The filling
After I decided on the recipe I would follow, it became obvious that I would use apples for the filling. I mean, I'm such a beginner that I wasn't even sure which way to cut the apples. Thanks to the beautiful pictures from the recipe I followed, I was able to quickly figure it out. From the couch my assistant (AKA husband) cheered me on, and passed by from time to time to take pictures of the process and judging from all the apples wedges that he snuck around to eat, (wedges I was keeping for the filling) it was good. 

The glaze 
A few minutes after I finished the pie and it was finally in the oven, my mother-in-law sends a text asking if I had put an egg in my glaze. For a split second I panicked again because I was like "oh no" I missed an ingredient, but then I remembered that my pie was 100% vegan, so no eggs! When the time came to put the glaze on the pie, my husband was overly excited so he offered to help me apply it. He dealt with our crazy oven, getting it to work perfectly and kept a close watch on it during the whole cooking process to make sure it behaved as it should. He truly is the cutest assistant ever!

Unfortunately, we weren't able to eat our pie right after it cooled because we had a special event that evening that we had to attend. So after a beautiful night, we came back and shamelessly enjoyed a big piece of pie. All the work that is put into that pie becomes worth it the minute you take that first bite. Yesterday, on National Coffee Day I savored a piece of pie with my morning coffee and wondered why I waited so long to do this. 

Just like pie, some things in life need to be dreamt of first,  but we also need to take a step towards making them a reality. A dream without any action will always only stay a dream. So today I encourage you, to take ONE step towards your goal (even if it's clumsy and imperfect like my pie) and tomorrow take another one and just keep going. 

There you have it! The tale of the my clumsy but rewarding baking beginnings. XOXO



Guest Post from HeartBeet Kitchen | Coco-Banana Chocolate Chip Blondies (gluten-free & dairy free)

Hello Darlings,
I could hardly contain my excitement, I am so glad today to introduce to you author and new amazing blogger friend Amanda with such a delightful recipe and with some nutrition words of wisdom. Enjoy! 

"There have been several instances in my lifetime where someone has stumbled into my life whom I had no idea would turn out to be such a great supporter and friend. Valerie and I met through Twitter, the exact occurrence I can’t even remember because once we started chatting we never stopped! When I hopped on over to her blog and saw the inspiring work she does, to lift up women and bring us all a spot where we can feel loved, I knew I had found something special. 

We connected over all things that nourish a strong woman – mind, body and soul. I write about fresh & seasonal cooking over on my blog Heartbeet Kitchen, and feel strongly about how a healthy relationship with food can bring more than just nutrition. I also just published the cookbook “Smitten with Squash”, which celebrates this wonderful vegetable and all its different varieties, plus endless ways to use it in your kitchen. By cooking more for myself, I’ve found creativity that I never knew I had, as well as a better body image knowing that food is beautiful fuel. All the recipes on my blog are gluten-free, most of the time naturally because they’re made with real food that is plant focused. And when it comes to sweet treats, which every girl needs in her life, they’re made with love and quality ingredients.  

I couldn’t wait to share these Coco-Banana Chocolate Blondies with you after swooning over their deliciousness. These bars are quick and easy to make, using only one bowl and just a few ingredients. I used coconut & oat flours as the base, plus coconut oil. The result was super soft and chewy bars packed with healthy vitamins and minerals. I love the flavor combination weaved into them with the bananas, chocolate, and coconut!

On a side note, have you baked with coconut flour yet? It’s incredibly healthy, rich in dietary fiber, and essential fats that our bodies crave. These benefits also mean that it works a little differently in baking, where it absorbs far more liquid than grain flours which is why the bananas and eggs are essential parts of these bars. But not to worry, that’s why I did the work for beforehand in order for you to get this recipe just right! These incredible treats are as healthy as they come, incredibly easy, and both gluten-free and dairy-free.

♥ Coco-Banana Chocolate Chip Blondies (gluten-free, dairy free)
Makes an 8x8 inch pan
Adapted from this recipe

I know it’ll be hard to resist taking a bite of these bars when they’re just warm out of the oven, but they do benefit from cooling completely. You’ll get a fudgey texture that holds together perfectly.  Enjoy!

3 very ripe medium bananas, mashed (mash should weigh 210 grams)
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar (110 grams)
2 large eggs (130 grams)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil, cooled
1/4 cup oat flour (15 grams)
1/3 cup coconut flour (45 grams)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chocolate chunks, chopped (80 grams, use dairy free if needed) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
Place the banana and brown sugar in the large bowl of a stand mixer. (Or you can use a hand blender.) Mix medium speed until the banana and sugar are creamy and mostly smooth.  It doesn’t have to be 100% smooth, a little banana texture is okay. Add the eggs and mix until smooth.  

Add the coconut oil, coconut flour, oat flour, vanilla, baking powder and salt.  Mix until smooth. Finally add 1/2 cup chocolate chunks and fold them in. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth out. Bake for 25 minutes, until just golden and set.  The blondies should still be soft but just cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate in the microwave, then drizzle on top of the bars. To store, keep in refrigerator for up to 4 days. 

It’s been fun saying hi to all of you and I’d love to connect with more lovely ladies, just as I connected with Valerie. Besides my blog, you can catch up with me on TwitterInstagramPinterest, or Facebook. Hope you have a wonderful week and happy baking! "

Hope you enjoyed this amazing post by Amanda from Heartbeet Kitchen. Be sure to let us know (by tagging us on social media) when you try it!



Make it | Limeade Iced Lollies (Popsicles) over at Cellardoor Magazine

Hello Darlings,

Today I am over at Cellardoor Magazine sharing one of my favorite summer inventions, three Limeade Popsicle recipes or Iced Lollies like they are called in the UK. I had so much fun putting this recipe together for this online magazine full of darling inspiration.

The inspiration was born on the day I treated myself to a ZOKU Pop maker. It is honestly fantastic and I am so happy I got it. My only regret would be not getting it earlier in the summer.

♥ The Californian| Passion Fruit, Spicy Limeade Lolly
♥ Forget-me-not | Lime and Basil Ice Lolly
♥ Herbal Sweet| Rosemary, Mint and Kiwi Limeade Lolly

If you are dying to know how to make them be sure to check out their website and if you decide to make one (or all three) tag me on your social media. 



Make it | Chocolate Banana Frozen Pops

Hello Darlings!

Right before we all dive into our weekend here is the easiest summer all natural desert for any of your  summer barbecues, parties or for your children. This is a twist on classical frozen desert my mother would make for us growing up. 

Chocolate Banana Frozen Pops
(Each banana can make 2 pops)

Chocolate for fondue
Popsicle sticks
Toppings (nuts, shredded coconut, granola but you can add anything you would like)

Start off by peeling the bananas and cutting them in half. Insert the popsicle stick and freeze it for about 1 hour. A few minutes before taking the bananas out of the freezer, melt the chocolate (according to instructions) and put it in a bowl to start dipping your frozen bananas. After dipping them in chocolate, quickly dip them in the toppings you would like to add. 

Place each "Choco-banana" pop on a cookie sheet, lined with wax paper and put it back in the freezer until you are ready to serve them. 

What is your easiest summer treat? What about your favorite childhood desert? Check out another recipe involving chocolate and favorite summer salad.  



Make it | Mango Summer Salad

Hello Darlings!

I am visiting my hometown Montreal and after a year and a half I am finally back in the land of summer festivals, amazing coffee shops and out of this world food! I will be sharing more pictures about my trip on Instagram

Now, let's talk about today's super simple, vegan and gluten free summer recipe. I don't know about you, but for me summer has me constantly concocting refreshing recipes which almost always include fresh fruit. This has been made easier since we have the awesome blessing of having a fresh produce truck pass by our apartment daily so we enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables practically delivered to our door. I hope you will enjoy your summer and if you try any variation of this salad please share your link to your post below.

Mango Summer Salad 
serves 2

1 Peeled Cucumber
2 Diced Tomatoes
1 Diced Mango 
(stay away from the mangoes that are hairy, the mango piña are the best for this recipe) 

1 lemon (squeeze the juice)
1 tbs of Olive Oil
A dash of oregano, salt and pepper according to your taste

In a big bowl layer the vegetables and the mango and put in the fridge to chill until you are ready to serve. In a separate small container, mix all the ingredients  for the dressing and pour it when you are ready to serve the salad. Mix and adjust the condiments according to your taste. 

This is such a simple but yummy salad. My husband has been telling me for a while to post it because he thinks it's awesome so I hope you will agree! Now back to my maid of honor duties since the main reason for this visit to my beautiful Montreal is because of sister's wedding! What are you up to this weekend? 



Make it | My Mother's Guacamole Recipe

Hello Darlings,

Finally! Today is 

the day I am sharing with you my "awesome" Salvadorian guacamole recipe, otherwise know as Avocado and Egg Salad. Actually, let me correct that previous statement, this is not my recipe but my my mother's guacamole recipe. Let me tell you, there are not many things that I feel comfortable cooking for others without second guessing myself but this my friends, I can do with my eyes closed and without any doubt that it will always be a hit. Please do not hold my lack of humility against me, but I will shamelessly brag about my mother because, like most mothers, she's 

 a great cook. She does not have a wide range of recipes but the ones she masters are divine and unique. If you follow me on


or have read

my profile

, you already know that I have a passionate romance with citrus, especially lemon. If I could, I would put lemon even on my cereal but other than that, I pretty much put lemon on



Enough about me, here's the recipe. 

Avocado and Egg Salad (Gluten-free and Vegetarian)

Makes 4 servings and will fill a big bowl (enough for 2 people to munch during the duration of a full movie) 

4 ripe avocados (if you have Caribbean avocados 2 will be enough)  

1 entire medium size onion

2 hard boiled eggs (1 hard boiled egg per 1 big avocado) 

1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro

The juice of 2 lemons (or the juice of 4 limes) 

Salt and Pepper

A Potato masher or a Pilon (

Mortar and pestle

Vegan option: Either replace the egg for tofu, or consider putting green, sour mango finely chopped. If you choose to only put avocado you may not get as much of a "clumpy" consistency. 


- Dice the avocados and eggs and put in a large bowl.

- Finely chop onion and cilantro leaves and put in the same bowl where you put the avocados and   onion.  

- Add the lemon juice and start mashing, turning the bowl as you go and mixing it well. 

- After you reach the desired consistency

 (there should not be any complete pieces of the avocados or egg but it should still be clumpy), you will notice that both the cilantro and the onion will blend with the rest and by mashing it all together it will give it a great flavor. 

- Add salt and pepper to your taste. 

And there you have it!

Here are some more citrus pictures I took just because it's pretty. enjoy! 

If you try it, please share your picture with me via social media!  



Guest Post: Chocolate Dipped Tahini Cookies

Hello darlings!

Today I am so excited to introduce "the" wonderful Renee from Will Frolic for Food blog. She has the dreamiest, yumiest 
Instagram account and spends her days cooking healthy, clean, vegan recipes and she owns a chocolate company as well (how cool is she?). I invited her to share with us one of her own recipes (she had me at chocolate dipped, dulce de leche cookie sandwich), that can be added to your special Valentine's day dinner. I hope you enjoy this post and her photography as much as I do.

Hello there! Renee here from Will Frolic for Food. I found this beautiful recipe for sesame cookies from Half Full Travel and had no choice but to make them and dip them in chocolate. I had a little baggie of black sesame seeds around from some truffle experiments earlier in 2013; Other than sprinkling them on morning yogurt, I've had no use for them. I'm really digging the play of the black seeds with the white. It breaks up the monotony of an all-white sesame cookie world, amiright?

Sitting in the parking lot of my local hippie grocery store, I rack my brain for flavors I'm craving. This is how I come up with recipe concepts, really. Thinking deeply whilst half-in half-out of the drivers seat, door flung open, fingers tapping at my lips. I rifle through the recipe box in my brain, flipping through the sheets of taste-memories category by category: sweet, bitter, sour, savory, salty.  Lately, a lot of my cravings and obsessions have centered around blood oranges, kumquats, brussel sprouts, and tahini. Maybe it's the bitter cold that turns my thoughts to bitter foods. Although I'm always thinking of ways to soak them in honey or maple syrup, it seems.

So these are bittersweet. More sweet than bitter, but still retaining that distinctive sesame bite I so love. Just slightly floral, via blood orange zest. Creamy, dark, crumbly. I consider these a winter cookie, meant to be eaten with gusto whilst burritoed within three or four layers of blankets. For Valentine's day, these mold perfectly into little hearts and hold their shape when baked. Once rolled in sesame seeds and flattened slightly with the palm of your hand, use your fingers to shape them into hearts. Bake & dip in chocolate as usual. They're also great with coconut dulce de leche smooshed in a sweet, caramelly, tahini cookie sandwich. Hope you enjoy!

♥ Chocolate Dipped Tahini Cookies (Gluten Free, Vegan) 

Adapted from Half Full Travel makes about 20 small cookies

1 cup (256g) tahini3/4 cup (130g) evaporated cane sugar 1/2 small orange, zested (I used a blood orange)1/2 cup (40g) coconut flour 1/2 cup (80g) gluten free all purpose flour2 tsp baking powder1/4 tsp salt1 cup (150g) mixed black and white raw sesame seeds

Preheat your oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, rub together orange zest and sugar to release the oils of zest. In a separate large bowl, stir together the tahini and sugar/zest. In a medium bowl, mix coconut flour, gluten free all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Bit by but, add dry mixture to the wet mixture. Stir until combined. Roll the dough into 1"-1.5" balls and coat each one in sesame seeds. Place on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until they become slightly golden brown around the edges. They will still feel squishy to touch on top, but they solidify as they cool. Let rest out of the oven for about 10 minutes. Dip in chocolate, and enjoy with a spot of tea. 

♥ For the chocolate3.4 cup dark chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)3 tbsp coconut oil

In a double boiler, melt coconut oil. Add chocolate, and let melt for about 5 minutes. Stir together. Pour into a bowl, and let cool five to ten minutes before dipping your cookies. 

Bon Appetit!

♥ Check out Renee's blog Will Frolic for Food & her chocolate company Frolic Chocolate. You can follow Renee on InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest,  & Google+.

P.S You can still participate in my birthday GIVEAWAY