August 15, 2014

Lemon, Blueberry and Almond Cookies

Etsy Road Trip Canada

It is so cool when things on the internet merge into real life. I have been a fan of Etsy for so long and heard that this summer they were doing a cross-Canada road trip to bring their products to life. Yes, there is life outside of the internet and Etsy did a great job of making Etsy into a real-life experience with real people (part of what makes their brand so effective) rather than aimless internet shopping. It's like when you meet a celebrity in real life.

It was NOT in fact like the time my Mom took me to see Sailor Moon at my dentist's office. I wondered what Sailor Moon would actually look like in real life--and the logistics of meeting someone who is actually animated--and waited in line to see a lady dressed up in a homemade costume who was clearly not Sailor Moon. I don't know what I was actually expecting, but somehow I was disappointed. For a second there was some childhood hope that a promise would turn into something magical even though I knew it was impossible. All hope wasn't lost, as my Mom took me to the Baskin Robbins ice cream store located right next door to my dentist. And I thought, maybe Sailor Moon is cool to me when I can draw her and watch her on T.V; she doesn't need to be a real person. 

Etsy Road Trip Canada, Ottawa

The Etsy Road Trip was not disappointing in any way, even if the Ottawa stop was somewhat lacking in vendors. The experience itself was neat to see. They did it in the coolest way possible with a gorgeous airstream trailer, rad photo booth and extremely stylish people browsing for crafts. They also had local food trucks and a lot of swag. Seriously, though. I got a swag bag that had about 100 Etsy buttons in it. I don't know what to do with that many Etsy buttons. Maybe I could sell them on Etsy? The trip stopped in four cities over 10 days (Montreal, Kingston, Ottawa, Toronto) and I liked how it was an opportunity for other less Toronto-centric craft lovers to see what Etsy has to offer. I especially liked these knitted cactuses (pictured above) from Yeff Knits. If you haven't already, check out my page on Etsy for all of my favourite online finds. 

Etsy Road Trip Canada

That little outing inspired me to start some of my own crafty projects. My first was giving my cat's food station a bit of a makeover solely inspired by Pinterest and this tutorial from Beauty Lab. There are so many other priorities in our new place that "remodelling" something for the cat seems somewhat trivial; however, sometimes doing something small can make the bigger things seem less daunting. Like Pinterest so often does, it tends to lead you down into crazy, D.I.Y rabbit holes. Obviously my cat deserves to eat her meals in style even though all of her food comes out of cans.

Cat feeding station with IKEA tray

Her previous food mat was hard to clean and kind of gross, so I bought a new white tray from IKEA and treated her to a new water dish from PetSmart and the transformation was complete all for less than $20. But not before writing her name on the tray and drawing a paw mark with a Sharpie. Now all of the cat food mess is hopefully contained on the easy-to-wash tray that looks a little nicer than a crusty mat. I'm pretty sure she likes it and is thinking "Oh wow, thank you so much for making the place I eat so nice now." Or not...

D.I.Y cat feeding station makeover
That's alright. She's worth it. If owning a cat is like having kids, then I am set! All you have to do is put out some food for them twice a day, cuddle with them a bit and throw a ball around, right? Don't worry. I'm kidding. And in no way do I consider myself a pet "Mom" or "parent." She is my pet and I am her owner. I do nice things for her and she does nice things back...or pukes on the carpet and then hides under the bed.


You know what IS tricky for me? Making cookies. Most of the time the cookies either turn out like melted pancakes or like rock hard discs. I have experienced the dreaded "cakie" aftermath of a bad batch of cookies before and it is not a good feeling for your baking ego. So just like obsessively wanting to try every Pinterest project I see, raising kids or owning "fur babies," I found a little trick to make my life a little saner. The trick to these cookies is Jello instant lemon pudding mix. The mix adds a sweet and creamy lemon flavour to the cookies and ensures the cookie texture is chewy, soft and slightly crunchy like a good cookie.

Lemon, blueberry and almond cookies
These cookies were inspired by this recipe from Amy's Healthy BakingI to make something light, summery and colourful for dessert. You don't even need to have fresh lemons in your house to make lemon cookies with this recipe. I don't usually agree with recipes that solely use cake mixes as their base. I can agree with the way the pudding mix is used in this recipe to add more flavour and texture. There's nothing wrong with adding a little something, something to your recipes. I also swapped out the white chocolate chips from the original recipe and added fresh blueberries and sliced almonds instead. 

Lemon pudding cookies with almonds and blueberries

Lemon, Blueberry and Almond Cookies

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp butter, slightly melted
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 box instant Jello lemon pudding mix
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with greased parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. If you're using salted butter, then omit the salt in this step. In a separate bowl, whisk the butter, eggs and vanilla together. Add in the sugar and pudding mix (do not add the ingredients listed on the pudding mix) and the lemon juice. Fold in the blueberries and almonds. Mix together, but not too much to avoid a grey colour from the blueberries.
3. Chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
4. Drop the dough into the baking sheets and press down slightly to flatten. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes.

Lemon pudding cookies
Cookies are so hit and miss for me, that it's glorious when they turn out as perfect as this. I loved the combination of the lemon flavour, fresh berries and crunch from the almonds. As long as you don't over mix the dough, they will turn out the wonderful, bright yellow colour like little orbs of summer sun. These are something you will see on the internet that will definitely live up to your expectations in real life, trust me on this one.

Have you done any neat craft projects lately? Or baked some delicious cookies? I would love some tips for baking the perfect cookie!

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