Cookies and Cream Blondies

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For the longest time, my favourite ice cream flavour used to be cookies and cream. My favourite kind of cake would be a fluffy white cake with oreo chunks. My DQ blizzard of choice would obviously be Oreo. I think the cookies and cream combination is a classic and I automatically assume that everyone loves it as much as I do, because really what tastes better than ice cream or cake or icing studding with chunks of Oreos? (Don’t tell me, I won’t listen)

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These blondies are super easy to make and are moist, dense and indulgent. Let’s just say there is no shortage of Oreo chunks in these! They smelled fantastic coming out of the oven and I immediately had to taste test one before it even cooled because I have a problem and because obviously I had to make sure they tasted fantastic before I went through the effort of taking pictures for you :P

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Cookies and Cream Blondies

Yields: one 8×8″ pan

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping cup chopped Oreos, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8×8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on opposite sides so you can lift the bars out. Spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the egg and vanilla extract, beating until incorporated. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just until combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in 3/4 cup of the Oreos.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining Oreos over the top of the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the bars cool completely in the pan. Use the parchment “handles” to lift the bars out and cut into squares for serving.

—SOURCE—
Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof 

Leaving town

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Tonight is my last night in Vancouver. That’s right, after three short months I’m packing up my bags and heading (slightly) east! I got a job offer recently in my field (not pastry school, unfortunately) which may explain my absence from this blog the past few weeks. Apparently when you get a real grown-up job, there is a lot of paperwork to do. Also when you switch provinces, there is even more paperwork to figure out. To my BC/Canadian friends, I’m still staying close to Vancouver, I’m just going to be a few hours away in the beautiful Okanagan region which I could not be more excited about!!!

I’m going to really miss being a pastry assistant and making pretty tarts like these.

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And pretty cakes like these ones.

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I’m going to miss my favourite yoga instructor who somehow made my body do this in class. (I haven’t been able to do it on my own since, although I haven’t made much of an effort to contort my body into this shape since)

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Luckily it doesn’t matter where I am, my friends will can still look forward to receiving cool snapchats from me.

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I’m going to miss being able to eat ALL THE CROISSANTS in the world. My record is 5 croissants in 15 minutes. I’m not proud of that.

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Every time I felt guilty about my increased pastry consumption, I would tell myself I was carb-loading for my long runs.

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This one time I was really sad and my friend started talking to me and asked how my life was and I almost burst into tears. He ran across the street and was back in an hour with a Starbucks gift card and a handwritten card. People sure are nice here!

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Oh yea! There was that thing called Valentine’s Day. This day has never really meant much to me, I think because the 4 years straight I actually had a boyfriend he never did anything special or out of the ordinary, so it’s always just been a regular day for me. Although this year my roomie made cupcakes. Except that we don’t have a muffin tin in our house, so she just poured the batter into cupcake wrappers set on a baking sheet and baked them. They turned out wonky and lopsided, but I loved them.

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This past week has been really sad! I worked my last shifts and realized how lucky I was to have met some incredibly amazing people in just 3 months. There were lots of hugs and promises to visit, and a few surprise gifts from my new friends.

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My one friend appropriately picked out the journal above because sometimes I get really angry when people are rude and stupid and I find the need to vent about it to my friends. But now I can write down my feelings haha

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Uh, so I didn’t know that Purdy’s existed until I came to Vancouver. Over the holidays a lot of the regulars brought in mass amounts of chocolate gift boxes for us at work, which is how I gained a few extra pounds and rediscovered my love for all things chocolate.

When I worked my last shift at the french patisserie, a tiny part of me was relieved because it meant no more cakes, croissants and pastries. But of course my fabulous boss couldn’t let me leave without taking a few cakes home!

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“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A. A. Milne

The next time I update you on my life, I’ll be in a new town. New places, new faces. Here’s to new adventures!

Running Updates

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Kind of a quick post before I head to a yoga class with my favourite teacher in Vancouver!  I feel super lucky to be in Vancouver with the beautiful and mild weather and gorgeous trails. Nothing beats running on a path between trees!

This week was week 8 in training for the Around the Bay 30km race at the end of March. Long run this week was 24km, I had to rearrange a few of my runs to fit my work schedule so ended up doing my long run today (Monday). I’ve been having a problem lately with wanting to do all of my runs fast, and I definitely didn’t want to do my first long run since the half marathon last week fast and get injured. So the plan was yesterday I would do my 10km run in the afternoon/early evening instead of in the morning as usual.

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That 10km went well and this morning I woke up still a little sore from yesterday’s effort which was good because there was no way I was pushing it for my 24km today.  Somehow still managed a 6:35 min/km average pace for the 24km run today which is crazy for me because last year at this time I was averaging a 7:00-7:30 min/km pace (let’s just say I took a lot of walk breaks as well). Man though this run was pretty hard, I ended with salt flecks dried all on my face and a permanent grimace through the last 5km.. but I didn’t give up!

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In case you didn’t already know, I’m pretty awesome and my friends think so too especially when they receive pictures like these on Snapchat.

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I’m actually on my second container already of that massive tub of yoghurt, such a great find and buy!

Not so much of a great purchase was this massive bag of popcorn from Kernels. The flavour I got is called West Coast Wave and omg it’s a combination of white cheddar cheese popcorn mixed with double hit caramel popcorn and I know that combination sounds weird and maybe even gross but when you try it AHH I couldn’t stop eating it. It’s embarrassing how quickly I finished this bag.

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Exciting news! I’ve officially chosen and registered for my spring marathon: the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Registration was a little pricey compared to other marathons but I am hoping it will be well worth it and that there is still food left at the finish line by the time I am done running 42.2km.

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This quote was on their website, I couldn’t help but giggle.

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I can’t think of anything that would make me want to wish I was running more than 42.2 km. Even an extra 100m hurts.

Another exciting update! My sister and I have officially registered for the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in August! It’s also in Vancouver, BC and I’m pumped. Registration sold out in an hour so I’m super happy we both managed to register. Her half marathon PR is 2:19 and the plan is to pace her to a 2:10 finish :)

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That’s all for now, I’ll be back in the next day or two with a recipe I’m stoked to share with you!

Chilly Chase Half Marathon 2014: Race Recap

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Yesterday I ran the Try Events Vancouver Chilly Chase Half Marathon. I found out about this half marathon a couple of weeks ago, and signed up last minute knowing that it would fit in well with my Around the Bay 30km training schedule. I had do to a 22km run yesterday anyways so I thought racing a half marathon would be a good indication of where I was in my training and maybe give me the kick in the pants I needed to take my training more seriously.

The only official half marathon I had done was last April (the Limestone Half Marathon in Kingston, Ontario) and my finishing time then was 2:14:44.6 so I thought a PR would be reasonable, but worst case scenario, this half marathon would just be a way to get my long run in for the week.

The Chilly Chase event itself was fairly small with only 142 people running/completing the half marathon. There was also a 5k, 10k and 15k option as well. They were celebrating their 10th year as an event and their first year with the half marathon option so all runners received a toque and gloves set instead of a technical shirt.

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Leading up to the race I wasn’t too concerned as I still had it in my mind that getting a sub-2:14 should be doable and again, worst case it would just be a long run for me. However the morning of the race I was so nervous I thought I would be puke. I woke up just before 7am, had 3 pieces of toast with cream cheese and then made my way to the race start which began at 9am. I want to mention just how much I loved this race, mostly because of how well organized it was. The race started just outside a community centre which was fantastic because it was a cool and extremely foggy 3 degrees Celsius outside so most of the runners were  able to stay warm inside (there were lots of runners doing warm-ups and strides outside as well). Another great thing about being in a community centre was no port-a-potties!! We had full access to all of their washrooms and although the lineups were pretty lengthy minutes before the race start, it was much more preferable than the port-a-potty system large scale races use. There was a bag check available but I brought my own lock and was able to to use one of the lockers on site.

I got there about a half hour before the race started and there were already a ton of runners hanging out, warming up, and chatting excitedly. This was my first race alone, with no friends or family (aka my biggest fan my MOM) so I felt even more nervous than usual. Soon enough it was time to head out for a pre-race warm-up. I had my timing chip attached to my shoelaces, my 7-oz hand-held water bottle with a chocolate energy gel attached to it, my iPod shuffle and my Garmin ready to go. I opted to wear my favourite Lululemon running jacket that my fantastic sister had gotten for me last year with a technical t-shirt underneath, my favourite running leggings and of course my trusty Saucony running shoes (the only pair I own :P)

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There was a fun warm-up led by 2 girls and before I knew it all the half-marathon runners were being asked to head to the start corral. (Once the half-marathoners had left, the 15k would start, then the 10k then the 5k). There was a 10 second countdown where I’m pretty sure my heart was pounding so loud everyone could hear it, and then we were off!!!

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My race game plan:  give’er

Just kidding. I had some sort of plan formulated in my mind, which was:

Plan A: Sub 2:10 finish (as in 2:09:59 would be completely acceptable)
Plan B: 2:10-2:12 finish
Plan C: 2:12-2:14:44.6 finish (clearly not getting a PR was not an option)

In order to achieve a 2:10 finish I needed to run about 6:10km/min or 9:55miles/min splits. I was playing around with the idea of running 6:05 splits for the first half and then if that got too uncomfortable slow slightly to 6:10 splits for the second half. I know many runners advocate running negative splits, so running the second half of the race faster than the first, but for this race I liked the idea of doing the hard work the first half and then just trying to maintain and not lose any of the work the second half.  So in short, I was aiming to keep 6:05-6:10 splits. I always have problems the first 5km with going out to fast but I was pretty determined to hang on to a consistent pace the entire race.

This was what happened.

100m in: I LOVE RUNNING I LOVE RUNNING I LOVE RUNNING

200 m:  whoa girl, calm down. You still have 21 km to go.

1km: (5:46 split)  Okay well that 1st km was a little fast, it’s time to slow down a bit.

2km: (5:44 split) SLOW DOWN.

3km: (5:42 split) Dang it Lianna, why can’t you ever stick to the plan?!

The funny thing was, when I tried to slow down to even a 6:00 km/min pace it felt painfully slow and my body just wouldn’t do it. So I decided to keep with a 5:45 pace and see what happened.

4km in and I had run up next to a girl who was going about 5:35-5:45 pace as well and I decided to stick next to her and see what happened. We ran the next km in silence and then finally I turned to her and said “What finish time are you going for?” with what I hoped was a friendly smile on my face. Turns out this girl was super nice! She gave me a big grin and said “Right now I want to finish, either 2:10 or even 2:30 since I missed a lot of training the last few weeks from being sick.”  Awesome, I thought. “Let’s go for 2:10!!!” I told her and she agreed and we ran side by side off into the fog along the Vancouver seawall.

If you read my first half marathon race recap, you’ll know that I enjoy making friends while running a race. In fact, I highly recommend this strategy. You don’t have to talk to them much and I prefer not to know their names because that makes it too personal in case you have to ditch them (or they ditch you). The benefits of making a friend who is going at the same pace are HUGE because now you have another reason to not drop your pace, because you have to keep up with someone else and/or they are relying on you to not slow them down. Also it’s nice to have company because even if you aren’t talking you are still struggling together. And you are less likely to go off course and get lost!

So me and my new friend, I’m going to call her Tammy because she looked like a Tammy, kept up a 5:35-5:45 pace pretty well. In the back of my mind I knew this well was ahead of a 2:10 finish but I figured that it felt comfortable in the moment so I was going to stick with it. Around 7km I could hear Tammy’s breathing get a bit more laboured and around 8km she started to fall behind a bit but I kept looking back to make sure she was still sticking with me. I knew she was trying really hard which was great because none wants friends who give up easily right! Especially during a half marathon.

Around 10km we both got really excited because we knew the turnaround point was coming up (the race was an out and back course), and before we knew it we saw the halfway point up ahead with a water/gatorade station. We both slowed to a walk to sip our gatorade, and I got ready to keep going. I looked back though and my friend Tammy was still walking and I could see she wasn’t feeling so great. “Go ahead!” she said. “I’ll catch up with you!”   We both knew that if I kept going at a 5:35-5:45 pace she would not catch up to me. “No way!” I said. “I’ll wait for you.”  “No!” she said. “Keep going, I’ll catch up!”

Tammy lied to me. She never caught up to me like we both knew she wouldn’t and I never saw her again.

So onwards I surged, a lone wolf into the fog without a companion and pacer.

I managed a 5:37km split for 12km and 5:34 for 13km.  I think it was around 13km that the course went off of paved roads and onto a trail for a bit which was nice and made me glad that I had done a bit of training on trails so my legs were used to the uneven ground and mini obstacles. 13km was where I started to struggle and feel uncomfortable. I had brought an energy gel just in case and was glad I did. I managed to choke down half of it and kept going. 15km felt really uncomfortable but I was determined to hang on to a 5:45 pace. The last 6 km were a blur, a long and slow and painful blur. With 3km to go, my legs felt so heavy and my feet felt really weird, like they were filled with water almost and were so heavy to lift up. I’ve never felt that before. I’m also pretty sure I lost all proper running form in that last 3km. My face must have looked insanely desperate and my mascara was all smudged around my eyes (note to self: when it’s foggy out don’t wear mascara because fog droplets will collect on your eyelashes and it won’t be a pretty look when you accidentally wipe sweat out of your eyes).

The last km was the hardest km I feel like I have ever run. I kept pushing and I was literally wheezing air in and out of my lungs and before I knew it I saw the big blue finish line through the fog and it was kind of a surreal feeling, like a mirage that someone lost in the desert desperately looking for water sees. I squinted at the big clock to try and see what it read. 2:01?  No way. It must be 2:11.  Omg omg. It really is 2:01!!!!!!

And so finally finally I crossed that finish line with, with a chip time of 2:01:28:3. I was in such a state of shock as I turned my Garmin off and stumbled through the finish chute. There were volunteers greeting me with big smiles and congratulations, and then another volunteer cutting off the timing chip that I had strapped to my shoelaces and then another volunteer giving me a shiny Chilly Chase medal shaped like a snowflake almost.

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I was in such a daze as I walked back to the community centre to see if there was any food left. I was worried that since the 5k, 10k and 15k all finished before I would, along with probably most of the half marathoners that there wouldn’t be any food left but I was pleasantly surprised that there was TONS of food left and a good selection also!

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I picked up one of everything, a banana, mandarin orange, yogurt squeezie thing, banana chocolate chip bread (mmm!) and a cinnamon raisin bagel (there were also blueberry bagels!!). Also not pictured was a station that was pouring out sweetened soy milk that was just fantastic, I helped myself to about 6 cups of that stuff and the volunteer was just laughing at me.

Once I had time to sit down, I pulled up the half marathon run splits on my Garmin to make sure it really was real and that I didn’t dream I just ran a 2:01 half marathon.

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Yep, it was real!  :D

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I’m still on a runners high from yesterday. Overall a fantastic event, well organized with great volunteers cheering us on through the cold weather. The course was great, fairly flat with minimal hills and the post-race food was the best. This was the best way to start off my 2014 running season and I can’t wait to chase a sub-2:00 half marathon in the future!!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

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This one time in high school, I dated a boy. I should mention that all throughout elementary school and even in high school, my mom spoiled me with good food. She made all of my meals so every day I had an amazing, homemade packed lunch to bring to school. I started dating this boy in grade 11 and we were serious enough to keep things going into grade 12 (kind of a big deal when you’re in senior year of high school, hello guaranteed prom date!).  I even managed to dig up a prom picture for you!  Here I am waiting for my date.

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Anyways, so this boy I dated usually went across the street with almost half of my school at lunch time to one of the fast food places to grab lunch. But then there was this one time where he decided to make a lunch ahead of time! Great idea, except for the fact that he thought it would be a good idea to make 5 sandwiches on the Sunday, one for every day of the week. The sandwiches were pretty simple, plain white bread, mustard, ham and a piece of lettuce. By Wednesday, the lettuce was no longer crispy fresh but instead was replaced with a slimy green substance that almost looked like seaweed. Let’s just say he didn’t eat Thursday or Friday’s sandwiches… anyways naturally I thought this was hilarious and gross and I told my mom who instantly took pity on this poor boy and for the rest of the year she sent me with 2 packed lunches every day, one for me and one for my guy.

One of the places across the street from our high school was a pretty cheap place that had great but really greasy Chinese food. Whenever I think of Chinese takeout, I always think of sweet and sour chicken which I adore. I stumbled upon this recipe a while back and was intrigued at the possibility of recreating my favourite dish at home. This recipe is so good that I made it twice in one week (and finished all the leftovers!!). A big statement, guys. The sauce smells fantastic in the oven and tastes good enough to lick off the plate and overall it’s a pretty easy dish to whip up on a weeknight :)

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or tenderloins), cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil

For the sweet and sour sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the chicken in a pie plate (or any wide, shallow dish). Season with salt and pepper and then sprinkle the cornstarch over the top. Toss to coat. Add the eggs to a second pie plate and beat with a fork to break them up. Transfer the chicken to the eggs (shaking off excess cornstarch first) and coat the pieces thoroughly.

Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. When it shimmers, add the chicken. Cook, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides (you don’t have to worry about cooking it through right now). Transfer the chicken to the prepared pan.

Whisk the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic salt together in a large measuring cup. Pour over the chicken. Bake for 1 hour, tossing the chicken every 15 minutes – the sauce will thicken as it cooks. Serve over rice.

—SOURCE—
Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

What I learned this week

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What I learned while spending my day trying to register for the Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon:

1. There are a lot of angry people in this world.

2. I used to be one of them.

The SeaWheeze half marathon is an exciting half marathon combined with a yoga/sunset festival that happens annually in Vancouver in late August. This year will be it’s third year and the hype is bigger and better than ever. I excitedly bookmarked my calendar back in September last year and counted down the days until today, January 23 when I could register for the run that would take place in August (eager I know!). There are just over 10,000 spots and registration opened at 10am my time so by 9:30am I was ready to go and waiting patiently. By 10:01 am the registration server had crashed from what I can only imagine were hundreds or thousands of people from all over the world trying to register for this one event. I know my sister in Toronto was trying to register at the same time as well, and soon enough on their official Facebook page, angry comments from people all over the world in many different time zones were pouring in, many repeating the same thoughts, voicing their frustration and in some cases just downright being mean.

If you have ever worked in a job where you have to provide excellent customer service (aka most jobs) then you know that some people can be nasty and rude and be upset about the smallest things and will take their anger out on you without thinking twice about the consequences of their actions. I’m ashamed to say that I have been one of these people. I didn’t lash out at others often for silly reasons, but when I would get angry over the smallest things I would always regret knowing that I made someone else feel horrible.

All of that brings me to this: why is it that people get angry when things don’t go their way and why do some feel it is okay to take their anger out on other people? Often our anger and frustration are related to selfish reasons (in this case, not being able to register ourselves immediately for an event). I’ve learned in the past couple of years to do my best to let go of the negative energy that results in negative feelings. While a few years ago I would have been just as frustrated and ticked off to have spent 3 hours trying to register for an event online, today I laced up my shoes and went for a run in gorgeous weather. Every inhale I felt blessed to be breathing clean, cool air. Every exhale I marvelled at how efficiently my body could transport and exchange oxygen with carbon dioxide (nerdy I know..). I felt the sun on my skin, the beads of sweat on my face and I just felt really lucky in that moment to be healthy, happy and alive.

I’m not saying that I’m always calm and happy and everyone should strive to be like me. I still get mad and frustrated at times but when I do I try to just think about the consequences of my actions and realize that upsetting someone else by voicing my anger won’t make me feel better. So for now I will look forward to tomorrow when I will hopefully be able to successfully register for SeaWheeze 2014!

Something else I learned this week?

I need to stay away from all-you-can-eat buffets.

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Ugh I’m embarrassed at how much I binged on sushi and tempura on Monday. I was so full after that I had to sit there for a good 30 minutes before the pain in my fully distended abdomen subsided just enough for me to walk home. Never again.

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Let’s end this post on a sweet note!  Life is like a box of macarons (courtesy of the awesome french patisserie I work at :D). You never know what you’re gonna get!

p.s. I even shared. The macarons, I mean :)

xo,
Lianna

Marble Pound Cake

IMG_5018 Time flies! These past few days have been a whirlwind of work, running, yoga, eating, sleeping. Repeat. It’s finally stopped raining (for now) so I’ve been trying to take advantage of the clear skies on my runs. I’ve also been working on getting a Running page up on this blog! Nothing too exciting, just an easier way for me to organize my thoughts and separate running from food. But like I said before, the recipes will still keep coming so have no fear if you aren’t quite into the running stories!

Let’s talk marble pound cake.

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I’ve actually had this post saved in my drafts for a while now but that doesn’t make me less excited to share it with you! I’ve always loved how beautiful a swirl effect can be in baked goods. This cake takes full advantage of that plus satisfies both white and chocolate cake lovers. I know pound cake isn’t really cake cake, but it’s still cake-like and this recipe especially make a lovely, fluffy pound cake.  Another bonus is that you most likely already have all of the ingredients you need for this recipe (or you can make* certain ingredients) so this is the perfect last-minute recipe!

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*how to make:
- buttermilk: 1 tbsp lemon juice or 1 tbsp white vinegar in a 1-cup measuring cup, fill to top with milk
cake flour: 1 cup all-purpose flour, replace 2 tbsp of flour with 2 tbsp cornstarch and sift

Marble Pound Cake

Yields: 1 9×5 loaf cake

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
butter or spray for pan

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter or spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan; set aside.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour.

Scoop 1/3 of the batter into another bowl and set aside. In a separate small bowl, mix the cocoa powder and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of boiling water until smooth. Add the cocoa mixture to the small bowl of cake batter; and stir it well.

To assemble the cake- start by creating a checkerboard pattern in the bottom of the pan by spooning dollops of each batter on opposite sides of the pan. For the second layer, alternate the pattern, spooning vanilla batter over the chocolate and vice versa. Finish with a final layer of batter- again alternating it from the pattern of the 2nd layer. Use a knife or skewer to swirl all the batters together. Make a couple figure 8s and run it back and forth so it is swirled and pretty.

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40-60 minutes (check at 40 minutes by inserting toothpick and if it does not come out clean, leave in longer as needed). Transfer pan to a rack to cool 10 minutes. Turn out cake from pan and cool completely on the rack. Cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

—SOURCE—
The Baker Chick, from Martha Stewart

Sunrise runs

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I’ve been seriously lacking the motivation to get out and run this past week. It has rained pretty much every hour of every single day this week. I may be exaggerating slightly but not a whole lot. To me, that’s the kind of weather that makes me want to snuggle up under the covers and finish watching every episode of Suits that’s available while eating chocolate slathered in peanut butter (I’m not proud of it..), instead of sucking it up and heading outside for a run.

I also only brought one pair of running shoes with me to Vancouver, so every time they get soaked I pretty much hope for the best that they dry in time for my next run. I love my running shoes, they have carried me through countless miles in all kinds of weather. It’s definitely time to get a new pair as I train for a new marathon, but I’m not quite ready to let these ones go. I also can’t quite afford a new pair just yet :P

I would also like to add that it may look like I have cankles in the picture above because of my high socks but I totally don’t thank you very much!

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Sometimes waking up crazy early to fit in a 10km before work has its perks! I was the only one in sight lucky enough to see this gorgeous sunrise a few days ago. As the sun rose the entire sky lit up and I felt like the colours that were spreading through the sky were also reaching out to me, pushing me forward to run faster and finish strong.

I am still loving my job as a pastry assistant! I really need to work on this self-control thing though. I got to take home a few croissants, fresh from the oven on my last shift. I took three and promptly ate them all in one sitting. I felt horrible about myself afterwards and hopefully won’t be doing that again, ever.

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I hope you all had a fantastic week! I am working on adding a running page to this blog, but I’m still planning on sharing as many recipes with you as I can so expect one in a day or two :)

xo,
Lianna

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberry Maple Syrup

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This one time I went for brunch with a new guy friend (new in the sense that we were still getting to know each other). What I didn’t realize at the time was that apparently this was a date that I clearly was unaware of until afterwards. I mean he did offer to pay and I let him pay, but I’m kind of thickheaded and did not clue in to the fact that if a new guy friend asks you out to brunch and picks you up in his car and offers to pay for your brunch and then pays for your brunch and drives you home and rushes to open the car door for you, he probably likes you and considers that a successful date.

Anyways, the way that I found out that that brunch was a date was because the next day at my work I found out through my friend that the brunch-date-boy had told his mother who worked with my friend’s mother that he was dating a girl named Lianna who worked at the place where I worked.  PARDON ME?!?!

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I quickly put brunch-date-boy in his place and told him that no, we are not dating and no, I don’t want to date you let’s just be friends. Except deep down I was clearly thinking well now this is too awkward for us to actually be friends. So I never saw him again!

The reason I’m telling you this story is because during our brunch-date (that wasn’t really a date), I ordered these amazing waffles with the best blueberry maple syrup topping and I had to go home and try to make a slightly healthier version to enjoy whenever I wanted to. Well, I’m glad to say I succeeded! Buckwheat flour is a healthier alternative to white flour and is higher in fiber and protein. Blueberries may not be in season right now which is just fine, because frozen and thawed blueberries are just as lovely! The blueberry maple syrup is perfection and I highly recommend the extra bit of effort it takes to make the syrup because it ties everything together nicely and really enhances the blueberry explosion effect in your mouth with each bite. Yum!

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberry Maple Syrup

Ingredients:

For the Pancakes:
1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 and 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen & thawed blueberries

Cooking spray

For the maple-blueberry syrup:  (this makes enough for about 3-4 tablespoons per serving.  If you want more syrup, increase the amounts accordingly.)
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup maple syrup

Directions:

For the pancakes:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly combine. Gently fold in the blueberries, mixing until incorporated.

Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and lightly spray with cooking spray. Pour the batter in 1/3-cup portions onto the prepared frying pan, letting the pancake cook until it forms large bubbles on its surface (about 2-3 minutes or so).  Gently flip the pancake and cook for another minute or so, or until cooked through.  ***Here’s a good time for you to get the maple-blueberry syrup ready.  See below.

Transfer the pancake to a plate (cover it to keep the pancakes warm), and repeat for each pancake (re-spraying with cooking spray as necessary), until you have used all of the batter.

For the maple-blueberry syrup:
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the blueberries and the maple syrup.  Cook over low heat until the blueberries have popped, about 10 minutes or so.  Serve the syrup over the pancakes.

—SOURCE—
The Curvy Carrot,  adapted from Williams-Sonoma.

From 2013 to 2014, and my first long run of the year

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Wow. Where to begin? I really just want to tell you about my awesome 20km run yesterday, but I think I should start my first blog post of 2014 with a quick 2013 recap and maybe some personal goals for 2014.

2013 was such an amazing year for me. I rang in the new year with two girl friends who I think the world of so I was already off to a fantastic start. I fell in love with yoga and running. I ran my first marathon ever. I ran my second marathon ever. I did a solo trip to Costa Rica which was life-changing. I graduated university. I learned how to do a headstand.
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I learned that to love others you have to love yourself first. I went on my first blind date ever (and it wasn’t a complete disaster!). I got a job as a pastry assistant at a french patisserie and moved to Vancouver (wait, what?!). I realized how lucky I am to have things that make saying goodbye so hard.

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Uh, yeah. So back to the part about moving to the other side of the country..a lot has happened since my last post and I feel like I am only just getting a chance to sit down, breathe, and share this new part of my life with you. About a month ago I packed up my things and headed out west to Vancouver where I was lucky enough to get a job as a pastry assistant at a french patisserie. I’ve only been working there for just under a month now, but I love it so so so much. Getting paid to bake and do what I love, seriously?! And as if things couldn’t get better, my boss who is the owner/head baker is so nice and ridiculously talented and creative. I am so inspired by the beautiful cakes, macarons, pastries, etc that she creates and feel so lucky that I have the opportunity to help create beautiful things. I also am loving being out west so far, I can’t get enough of the mountains!

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I’ve never been into new years resolutions after being forced to come up with a list of ten every year in elementary school (mine were always the same: be nice to my sister, clean my room, stop global warming, etc.)  Instead, I like to set goals, so here are a few of mine for 2014:

- eat less chocolate (too late, I’ve already binged on an embarrassing amount and we’re only 6 days in the new year..)
– learn how to do a forearm stand and hand stand (and hold it)
– run a 4:30 marathon and a 4:20 marathon
– blog more!!!!!

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These stunning and scenic images were all taken on my cell phone during my 20km run yesterday with a friend. We were planning on doing maybe 8-10km, whatever the distance was around Stanley Park on the gorgeous and famous seawall. The weather was perfect, sunny and clear skies, and we both felt pretty good so we decided to run to Granville Island to get lunch there. We ended up having to loop around the coast to get to Granville Island, so by the time we got there my Garmin read 19.6km.

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I should probably tell you that I don’t normally run 20km just for fun, but I am training to run the Around the Bay 30km race in Hamilton this spring so it worked out with my training schedule :) I also don’t normally run with friends, let alone GUY friends who are naturally faster than me, but my friend took it easy on me and let me run at my pace, most likely because otherwise I would have been wheezing the entire time and unable to carry a conversation which would have been pretty boring for him :P

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Naturally once we got to Granville Island we were starving, and we may or may not have inhaled 2 donuts each in record time…oops. I managed to snap a picture of my second donut, it was SO GOOD, the best chocolate donut I have ever had! Although to be fair, I think any donut after 20km would be the best donut ever.

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Then we couldn’t help but split a poutine…oops again. I think I run just so I can eat things like chocolate donuts and poutine. Although now that I think about it, I should probably make “eating healthier” a new years goal for 2014.

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If you’ve been reading The Little Spork since 2013 (or before!), thank you for staying with me through my sporadic blog posting schedule. I hope to share a ton of great recipes with you this year, along with my adventures in running and life. I have a recipe I’m excited to share with you tomorrow, so until then!

xo,
Lianna

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