A Reminder for the Holidays

With the holidays just around the corner, I wanted to throw back to an old post to remind you to ignore all those fun-sucking messages in the media about “surviving” holiday food. Let’s focus on what the holidays are really about.

Read my old post here: Don’t just “survive” the holidays – enjoy them!

Nana's shortbread cookies

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2017 Cook My Books Challenge: November

11 months in and still going strong, despite the craziness of this month. I managed to squeeze in a few cookbook recipes between my sister’s birthday, a few presentations for work, and celebrating both an engagement and a wedding – not ours, ha!

Here’s what I cooked from my books this month:

Mexican Chicken Soup from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

This soup surprised me! I sometimes find tomato and broth based soups to be a bit boring, but this one was delicious! I loved the way the tortilla topping got a bit soggy. Combined with the grated cheddar on top, it reminded me of enchiladas in the best way possible.

Mexican Chicken Soup by Ina Garten [Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen 2017 Cook My Books Challenge]

Wine Country Salad with Wild Rice Grape Pilaf and Halloumi from Whole Bowls by Allison Day

I was obsessed with this salad! I mean I’m pretty much obsessed with anything using halloumi. But the flavours in this were so spot on! The sweetness of the grapes with the salty cheese was addicting. If you can’t find halloumi, this would also be good with feta.

Wine Country Salad with Wild Rice Grape Pilaf and Halloumi by Allison Day

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten

I made these on a day when I seriously needed some comfort food – and I’m not kidding when I say these biscuits helped cheer me up. If one good thing came out of that day, it was that my biscuits came out so perfectly flaky and buttery. If you want to know my secret, it’s chopping up my butter into small pieces and putting it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before using it so that it stays extra cold. Works like a charm!

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits by Ina Garten

Missed my previous Cook My Book Challenge posts? Catch up on them here:



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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

Just before it starts turning to gingerbread season, I’m squeezing in this whole wheat pumpkin bread. What is fall without a little (or a lot of) pumpkin spice, right?

Moist, tender whole wheat pumpkin bread made with 100% whole wheat flour and sweetened with maple syrup and brown sugar.

I’m not all “OMG pumpkin spice everything!” but I did pick up a box of pumpkin spice Mini Wheats to try this fall (they’re ok). I generally prefer homemade pumpkin spice foods though, namely this baked oatmeal from Budget Bytes and my pumpkin chocolate chip muffin tops.

And of course there needs to be a good pumpkin bread recipe in any recipe collection! This is one I’ve adapted from Ellie Krieger’s recipe that was in Fine Cooking magazine a few years ago.


There were a few changes in my version:

I used whole wheat pastry flour rather than all-purpose and regular whole wheat flour. Pastry flour is made from soft white wheat, making it lower in protein and great for soft, tender whole wheat baked goods. I also added a few scoops of ground flaxseed to sneak in some fibre. Finally, I swapped in maple syrup for the honey because it feels more fall-ish to me and decreased the total amount of sugar by just a smidge.

The result is a super moist whole wheat pumpkin bread that makes a great snack. Or you could increase the sugar slightly and top it with a maple cream cheese frosting for dessert (<– do it! It’s delicious).

Moist, tender whole wheat pumpkin bread made with 100% whole wheat flour and sweetened with maple syrup and brown sugar.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Yield: 10 servings
  • 1-1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
  • ¼ tsp table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup canola oil or olive oil (regular, not extra virgin)**
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 tbsp milk of your choice (optional for extra moistness)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9"x5" baking pan with oil and dust with flour then set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, ground flax, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, oil, pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, and milk.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until they are just mixed, then pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake for 43-47 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool for at least an hour before cutting.
*Or use about 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp allspice and ⅛ tsp of cloves.
**Could likely decrease this to ¼ cup without changing the taste or texture too much, but I have not tried this yet.

What’s your favourite pumpkin spice product or baked good?


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