Weekend Away // Winnipeg, MB, Canada

My husband and I took a last minute trip to Winnipeg to spend some time with his Grandpa who had fallen quite ill and was in the hospital. Jordan is very close with him so it was tough knowing he was in pain and almost all the family was there but him. Luckily, he was well enough to leave the hospital the day after we arrived, and the good news on his health has poured in ever since - praise the Lord! Because this trip was not planned, and it wasn't during a major holiday as it is when we usually visit, it gave us a chance to explore and try out some new places to eat and drink. My husband grew up there, but a lot has changed and some great locally owned places have popped up since we last visited. If you ever find yourself in the center of North America, here a few places to check out!


The Grove Pub & Restaurant

This menu has a bit of something for everyone, but not in an overwhelming way. We split the poutine, which was great, but the crowning glory was the duck breast tacos. Out of this world! The layers of flavor were surprising and perfectly assembled to create a dish unlike any other I've tasted - I mean, there was duck crackling on the top people!! 

Duck Tacos

They also have seasonal drink specials, a great beer & wine list, and happy hour! I sipped on a melon mojito; it was delightful, not too sweet as some tend to be.


Thom Bargen Coffee & Tea {Fun fact: The name comes from a combination of the co-owners names}

One of the first of its kind in Winnipeg, Thom Bargen offers a curated craft coffee menu, a few locally made pastry items, and a minimalist atmosphere with white walls, large windows, and wood & steel furnishings.

TB Latte

It also houses a leather shop called Wilder in the back that sells its beautifully crafted wares, along with some small batch body care products from a company, Northlore.


Little Sister Coffee Maker

The name alone has a special place in my heart because I am a little sister to three of the best siblings out there. This adorable shop is accented with a mint green painted brick wall and matching ceramics for in-house coffee drinkers.

Little Sister

It’s set just below street level but has a great vintage street lamp with a coffee sign to alert the passerby. The owner, Vanessa, is kind and outgoing and really puts her passion into the place! She even has a branded bike rack out front so her customers can lock up and come in for a treat - if you’re ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend it!

Little Sister Bike Rack

The thing I love most about these two coffee shops is that they are both owned and operated by people my husband grew up with and you just can’t beat supporting young entrepreneurs!


The Tallest Poppy and The Osborne Village Cafe

I’m not going to lie, you will be inclined to walk right by both of these places if you judge by looks alone, but once you get their vibe it all makes sense. These two places are not connected in any way, but they both provided amazing, creative, and fresh food in an unassuming atmosphere.

The Tallest Poppy has mismatched everything and wild paint colors, but it also boasts a huge front window and tall ceilings. I highly recommend the breakfast corndogs (what?!) and Jordan said his chicken & waffles were the best he’s ever had - and that’s saying something since we have some pretty great places here in Brooklyn.

The Osborne Village Cafe is set in an old motor inn and we never would have thought of it without the recommendation from a friend. From the outside, you might think it’s your average greasy spoon, but upon walking in, you see their house-grown microgreens and herbs and an ever-changing chalkboard menu of specials that highlight the season’s bounty, local eggs and potatoes and the enticing combinations that the chef is whipping up.

Jordan and Katie

Now, I know that you’re probably not headed to Winnipeg anytime soon, but I wanted to share this little adventure as a reminder to explore your own town, or somewhere close you thought you knew, to see what culinary gems might be hiding out there. It’s so important to support local businesses, whether they are your local or just local to the place you happen to be at the time - you can’t beat the heart & soul these folks put in!

With a full heart and an empty plate,



Countdown to Thanksgiving

It’s coming, and we all know that as soon as it’s here and gone, Christmas is going to tap us on the shoulder and scare us to death because yet another year has gone by! But that’s too much to think about right now so I am going to reign it in and focus on the next six days.

Growing up, Thanksgiving day meant waking up to a bird in the sink, rolls proofing on the counter, and a table full of pies we dare not touch. Oh, and the simmering pot on the stove that always contained creepy-looking giblets but you would forget each year what it was and still crack the lid with excitement, then immediately regret it. I would put the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on the television, have some breakfast, then help my mom with whatever I could. It was usually just the six of us as our extended family is predominantly Canadian so the BIG Thanksgiving dinner was in October. Twice. So by the time this one rolled around, it was our third feast of the season. Did I ever tire of turkey sandwiches on homemade buns? Never! But this day was usually low-key for us, and as I got older, the evening was spent with my mom and sister, sipping coffee and reading the flyers, planning our big 3am shop the next morning. Back when it was still black FRIDAY. I miss those days; I miss wondering whether or not I can get a cup of coffee on holidays, or making sure the grocery shopping was done because the stores were closed. I’m getting a little tired of all the conveniences we allow ourselves, while cutting into the family time we already have so little of. Even if you don’t celebrate with your blood-related family, it’s so important to take some time off and allow yourself a real break this time of year.

Now that I am married, my Thanksgivings can change quite a bit from year to year; sometimes we get home, sometimes we host, sometimes we are travelling all day! Anytime I host a large dinner or party, I always get excited to try new recipes, show off my classics, and most of all, enjoy time with those I love. I want to give you a few tips as to how I pull it off without going crazy or locking myself away in the kitchen. First of all, it starts out looking like this:


Phase One: Brainstorming

This is the fun phase! Anything goes - grab that recipe you have been wanting to try that you tore out of the magazine in the waiting room, email your mother-in-law for the family potato recipe, jump online and read a ten-page-long forum about whether or not you should brine! If you are like me and also like to craft and set a perfect table, pull some of that inspiration out too.

Phase Two: Components

Grab a notebook or piece of paper (or start a new Google doc if that’s more your style!) and write down what you know you for sure want, even if you haven’t decided on a recipe yet, and leave some space between each one like this:

Turkey/Gravy -

Cranberry Sauce -

Stuffing -

Salad -

Potatoes -

Vegetable Side #1 -

Vegetable Side #2 -

Dessert -

Misc -

Then, if you know someone else  is bringing something, add their name in. And folks, if you are hosting but others are bringing dishes, for the love of turkey - assign them something! The last thing you want is three sweet potato pies. If you have a self-proclaimed ‘I keep sweaters in my oven’ type of guest, have them bring some nice cheeses for an appetizer platter! When thinking of the dishes you’ll make, consider oven space and perhaps try a new stovetop dish or a squash you can roash ahead of time then pan fry with a glaze to reheat. So now your paper might look something like this:

Turkey/Gravy - Classic roast turkey/pan gravy

Cranberry Sauce - Ginger-Orange infused recipe from my BA mag

Stuffing - try cornbread this year! foodnetwork.com

Salad - Melissa is bringing

Potatoes - Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Potatoes cookbook pg. 257

Vegetable Side #1 - Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash

Vegetable Side #2 - Carrot & Sweet Potato puree - BHG pg 431

Dessert - Mom’s Pumpkin Pie & whipped cream/ Mark is bringing a gluten free torte

Misc - ice, rolls, Wine/Barbara, appies?

Phase Three: THE LIST

Now that you know all of the items that you are making and what miscellaneous items you need to be a good host, make that list! But not haphazardly. When I do my regular grocery shops, I use an app called Grocery IQ; however, for something like this where I *cannot* forget anything, I map it all out on paper. {Remember that time your finger slipped and you accidently ‘checked’ something off your list but cannot retrieve what it was?! Not the best game to play for Thanksgiving}

  1. Write down all your headings, leaving the appropriate space underneath for items. I used: Meats/Deli, Dairy, Canned/Dry, Baking, Produce, Alcohol, and ‘Misc’ for items like ice, club soda, paper towel, etc.

  2. Take each recipe, in the order it’s written above, and write down every ingredient under it’s proper heading on your shopping list. You aren’t worried about different store at this point - this is your master list you can always reference. Unless it’s something you have a large supply of, write it on the list now, just in case.

  3. Depending on how far in advance you do this step(for any future dinners or parties!), use your master list to check weekly sales and flyers so you can grab items as they come on sale, and then you can check them off and keep all the items together.

  4. The final shop - check your list against your cupboards and fridge to ensure there isn't anything you can already check off - space is key so you don't want too many "extras" lying around. If you have your go-to places you know will have everything, just hit the store with you list and go to town. Just remember that on holidays, everyone tends to shop at the same time for the same things so planning is key! At this point, I break my list down on my phone because I can separate lists by store/market: Farmers Market, Sprouts, Whole Foods. I’m going on Tuesday, and my list is down to fresh produce, dairy and the bird - no diving for the last can of Libby’s for me!

Phase Four: Fruition

Give yourself a couple hours on a quiet Sunday morning or set your alarm for 2am if that’s the only quiet time you get while the kids are sleeping. The planning of your meal prep should be done no later than the weekend before the big day so that you can go into the week calmly. You also must know your dinner start time!

Take a look at phase two again, and starting from the first component, read through the WHOLE recipe and make some notes, ie Brine 24 hrs, let stand 30 minutes, place in freezer for 15 minutes, can be made 2 days in advance, etc. Think about what time you want to sit down to dinner, and work backward, making timing notes such as ‘oven @ 3pm’ ‘make dough Wed. a.m.’. Do this for all the recipes - and yes, your page might end up looking a bit like this:

Thanksgiving Plan

Now all you need to do is look at those notes and take the step that can start the earliest - for me it’s homemade jelly candies that can be made up to one week in advance before cutting. I am starting my timeline there on Sunday, then following with the next three days of little things I can do to prepare; Thursday will get it’s own piece of paper. Now since you already got your craziness out on the ‘phase two’ sheet, your timeline can look like this:

Daily Lists

Believe me, come crunch time, you want to be looking at that organized page! I have the ability to be at home the days leading up to the holiday so I am a bit more open with my plan, however, you may want to write specific times in the margins so you have a grasp on what the day looks like in detail.

Now, the final piece of this crazy-organized puzzle, Thanksgiving day. Start with a few key times, building a framework:

7am - Make largest pot of coffee possible

8am - Mix up bun dough and let rise / Have breakfast


    -9:30- start stuffing for bird/turn on oven

10am - Start preparing turkey - in at 10:45!

11am -

12pm -

    -Take break to do makeup and hair!!/Quick snack

1pm -

    -1:45-Quickly get changed

2pm - Appies out/Guests start arriving

3pm -

4pm - Sit down to dinner!

Fill in the rest according to cook & prep time, taking care to note when something needs to be removed from the freezer or oven, chilled, etc. Look over your recipes one last time, and make any adjustments needed, and remember to allow yourself time to do your hair & makeup and to get dressed. By the time your guests start arriving, that alone will make a huge difference on your overall stress level - I’ll even go as far to say set a time on your phone to remind yourself! You are now ready to go forth and conquer Thanksgiving with stressless grace and style. Okay, not stressless...but less stress ;)

Through all of this, remember to give thanks - to God, the universe, those who came before us - and enjoy some time {and food!} with those you love.

With a full heart and an empty plate,


Hot Fudge Pudding w. Vanilla-Infused Whipped Cream

Yes, you read that correctly. Hot-fudge pudding is probably something you have had, even if you think you have never heard of it, I bet your mom or grandma or Sunday School teacher made it for you at some point. I gussied it up with some whipped cream that I infused with whole nutmeg and a vanilla bean; that inspiration came from an article in my April edition of bon appétit magazine. Delightful results, let me tell ya.

Hot Fudge Pudding

Hot Fudge Pudding w. Infused Whipped Cream // Serves 6-8

*Pudding recipe brought to you by my Auntie Christel via 'Our 50th Anniversary Cookbook' Evangelical Women Zion, Evangelical Church, Chilliwack B.C., 1991*

My slightly adapted version:

1 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 c sugar

2 T + 1/4 c cocoa

1/2 c milk

2 T butter, melted

1 c packed brown sugar

1 c hot water + 3/4 c warm milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; grease a 9" x 9" baking dish. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and 2 T cocoa. Stir in the 1/2 c milk and melted butter; spread batter into prepared pan. In a small bowl, toss together the 1/4 c cocoa and brown sugar; sprinkle evenly over batter. Combine the hot water and 3/4 c warm milk, then pour over the sugar mixture to cover completely. Carefully place the dish in the oven and bake until the top is cooked through and the chocolate is bubbling up from the bottom, 40-45 minutes (be sure to start your whipping cream infusing as soon as it goes in!). Allow to cool about 10 minutes before serving to allow the 'fudge' to set up.

Folks, when this baby is baked, a supremely magical thing happens. The chocolatey cake batter cooks through to the top and the fudgy layer sinks to the bottom and the result is something that looks like it was way more difficult to accomplish than it was! And the taste, well, it's perfection. It's not too sweet or rich like you might imagine, and if you add on the whipped cream, it puts it over.the.top. and makes this childhood dessert a little more adult.

Infused Whipped Cream

My best friend travels the world, leading groups on these insanely opulent vacations, and I am so lucky to reap the benefits of treasures brought back. She gifted me some delicious vanilla beans from her recent trip to Madagascar and I incorporated them into this recipe. I also used a half of a nutmeg seed (I had to google what this is called because saying 'half a whole nutmeg' sounded strange to me). I use fresh nutmeg a lot so I had a seed that was already half-grated; if yours is whole, use a very sharp knife to VERY carefully crack it in half for this recipe. Not only does a little go a long way, but the flavor is better imparted when the inside is exposed. You may want to infuse the cream earlier in the day, so it's nice and chilled by the time dessert is out of the oven and you want to whip it up!

1 c whipping cream

1/2 vanilla bean 

1/2 of a whole nutmeg seed

Sugar for sweetening

Warm cream in a small saucepan until it's hot but do not allow it to come to a boil (appx 175 degrees); remove from heat.

Whipped Cream Infusion

Crack the nutmeg half into a couple pieces to better distribute the flavor and add to the warm cream along with the vanilla bean half. Swirl the cream a bit to incorporate and cover; let the mixture steep for about 20 minutes. Strain into a small bowl, reserving the vanilla bean and discarding the nutmeg. Split the bean in half lengthwise and use the back of a knife to scrape out all of the caviar from the inside and stir it into the cream; discard the bean.

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Press a piece of plastic wrap right down onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming, and place in refrigerator to chill well; can be made up to one day ahead. When you are ready to serve your dessert, place the chilled cream into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high until it starts to thicken slightly, then add your sugar - I used about 1 tablespoon as I did not want it too sweet, but feel free to use however much you please! Continue to beat until it is a beautiful, thick consistency that holds its own. 

Serve atop the hot-fudge pudding, and admire the beautiful vanilla specks throughout your fancy infused whipped cream.

Pudding w. Whipped Cream

My husband loved this treat and he is 'not a dessert person' so I always count that as a win for me! I hope this recipe can put a smile on your loved one's face too, enjoy my friends!

With a full heart and an empty plate,