Cranberry Buttermilk Scones!

It's been a while since my last post. I can't really tell you what I've been doing, because I don't really remember. Well, that's not true. I went dress shopping again, think I may have found "the one". There's one more place to check out, but I found the dress at Clara Couture. This time Clara helped me, and I can tell she is so passionate about what she does.

Anyway, so I haven't made scones in a couple months. The recipe I had was good, I liked the flavour, but I found the scones really dense. After watching some videos, and reading some recipes, I decided that my problem was that I didn't use dairy. I used almond milk thinking it would do the job. But alas, you can't use almond milk for all of milk's responsibilities.

So, I found a new recipe, and it turned out beautifully!! I googled a loooot of different recipes. I didn't want a recipe with a huge batch, so I looked for recipes that yielded 8 - 10 scones. I've also convinced myself that not only did I need dairy for success, but I needed buttermilk. So I've found myself a buttermilk recipe.

Cranberry Buttermilk Scones

Inspired by Canadian Living

Yield: 8 scones

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp  granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup dried cranberries, or other dried fruit
1 egg
1/3 cup buttermilk


1 tbsp buttermilk
2 tsp granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
I used a food processor, but you can also do this by hand. Mix (or whisk, if by hand) flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Add in butter, and pulse until mixture looks like coarse meal. If you're doing this by hand, you can either mush (very technical) the butter with your hands, use a pastry blender, or a fork to cut in the butter. Once the butter is incorporated, add in dried fruit. Mix in egg and buttermilk. Process until the dough comes together.

Pour dough out on to a silpat, or parchment paper. Form into a 1-inch thick round disk. Brush dough with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Cut into 8 slices, but DO NOT separate!

Bake for 16 minutes.

When it comes out of the oven, it'll look like this.

Here's what it looks like on the inside:
It's so light and fluffy! I ate mine with Devonshire Creme and strawberry jam. Sooo goood.

The whole process took about 30 minutes. I was done making the dough just as the oven was done pre-heating. While it baked, I cleaned up the kitchen.

I love this recipe!!!

What's your favourite scone?



Chickpeas quest continued...

I've made another dish in my quest to diversify my love of chickpeas. Like many of my other recipes, I used what was available in my pantry. I had made plain quinoa last night as a side dish, and of course I made enough to last a couple days. So here it is:

Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Serves 4

2 cups COOKED quinoa
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch mint, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped (I used grape and roma tomatoes)
2 - 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 lemon
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

This is another simple recipe. Mix all the ingredients together, squeeze lemon over the salad, and drizzle the olive oil. You're set to go!


German Cucumber Salad

This is one of my favourite salads. It's so fast and easy to make. And guess what!!! I didn't get the idea from Pinterest! hahaha. This recipe is actually from Cal's mom. She makes it all the time when we go for family dinner.

German Cucumber Salad

Serves 2

1 cucumber
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of dried dill

In a bowl, combine vinegar and sugar.

Slice the cucumber thinly into the bowl. You can do this with a knife, or use a mandolin. Salt the cucumber. The salt will draw out some of the liquid from the cucumber.

Sprinkle dill over cucumber. You can also use fresh dill.

Let it marinate for 20 minutes before serving.

Easy peasy!



Chickpea salad...AKA unblended hummus

When I was on vacation in Cuba with Cal and his family, the dishes we really enjoyed all had chickpeas. I didn't think much about it though, it was just really good and that was that. The only thing I ever made with chickpeas was hummus. My hummus is very delicious, if I say so myself! haha. I'll post the recipe next time I make it. But, what inspired this post, and the following recipe, was Pinterest (Follow ME!) of course. Hopefully, this will be the first of many things I try to make with chickpeas.

Here's the original inspiration:
I followed this recipe pretty closely.

Cilantro Chickpea Salad

Inspired by Oh She Glows

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup of cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup of sweet onion, chopped
1 lime
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
dash of red chili flakes
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk lime, mustard, olive oil, cumin, chili flakes, and garlic together until it comes together.
Toss with chickpeas, spinach, cilantro and onion.

I don't have a food processor, so I chopped everything by hand. If you have a processor, by all means, chop the spinach, onion, and cilantro with that.

Here's how it turned out:

Let me know if you like it!



Looking for the one....progress so far

I've been to 4 salons so far. It definitely hasn't been the Say Yes to the Dress experience I had been expecting.

The first salon I went to was Bisou Bridal. It was a nice place, the dress were less expensive than I thought, however, it could be because they just had a sample sale, and what was in the shop was leftover sale items.  I am looking for a lace, trumpet gown, with a sweetheart neckline, and button back. You can see a sample of what I like here. I found quite a few gowns within my budget that met my specifications. The consultant was very professional, she was right there helping me do up the gowns, and right there when I took it off. Although, she didn't really help pull more dresses that fit my requirements, but that could be I already pulled everything. The dressing rooms were small, but it was sufficient. The lighting was a little dim though. The one I liked the most was this:
It was okay, I didn't love it. Bisou also wasn't restrictive about taking pictures, or who the designer is. The shop definitely is for a bride with a budget greater than $2000. A lot of the dresses there were at least $4000 at full price. If my budget was that high, I would not hesitate to shop there.

The second shop I visited was Clara Couture. I dropped in on a weekday without an appointment. They happened to have time for me to try on dresses, so off I went. There isn't a huge selection, I think they custom design too, but I did find a lot of dresses to try on. The consultant gave my hanger tags to mark which dress I wanted to try, and she grabbed them for me and put them in the dressing room. They also were not secretive about the designers, which was nice. I told her which designers I was interested in, and she was able to pull some other dresses. My favourite was a Pronovias dress. It was similar to this:
The dressing room was huge. It had lots of space to move around, and room opens to a sitting area for your guests. The mirrors are in the dressing room as well, but there is no real "pedestal" for you to stand on. Overall, I enjoyed my experience. I may come back and try on more dresses again.

Yesterday, I went out to New Westminster's "Bridal Row". It's a street with several bridal shops next to each other.

My first stop was Sposa Wedding World. We had to take off our shoes at the entrance, which was fine. The store was quiet, and we didn't have to wait for our consultant to come out. She was waiting for me at reception when we entered the store. She listened to what I wanted, and right away went to the back to pull out a dress for me to try on while I was browsing the racks for other dresses. There were several dresses that fit within my requirements, and my consultant was very professional. I was sure I was going to find my dream dress here since they carried the designers I was particularly interested in. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. There was a dress that was really beautiful, but it wasn't the shape I wanted. I didn't want to spend a lot of money changing the dress into what I wanted. The consultant was very responsive to what I was looking for, and giving suggestions on alterations, and also the cost. She put a veil on me, and let me walk around. What I found strange was how secretive they were with their designers. I'm not sure why the name of the designer was hidden. My guess is they didn't want their clients going to other stores to find the same dress for less. Since we didn't know the designers, of course, taking pictures was also out of the question.

All in all, I had a good experience at Sposa. The experience here was the most similar to what you would see on Say Yes to the Dress.

Our next stop yesterday was The Bridal Gallery. They claim to have Canada's largest selection of wedding apparel. So I was very excited to try on a whole bunch of dresses. The first thing we see when we enter the store was a floor full of wet shoes. We had to step over shoes to get to reception. They were also so busy that they couldn't handle all the clients. I filled in the typical forms, and waited. 

The first thing my consultant said to me was "we have over 500 dresses in the store". I was stoked! This was the place I'm going to find my dress. The store was a zoo! It was so busy, so noisy, really chaotic. We sat down, and she asked me what I was looking for, and she wrote it down on my form. Then we went to look at dresses. What was strange was that the dresses were arranged by sizes, and not style or fabric. She took me to the section with my size, and there were about 30 dresses. She started pulling out dresses that was the opposite of what I was looking for, big poufy dresses with no lace in sight. I politely said no, and said I wanted lace. The next dress she pulls out, again, has no lace, not trumpet, not remotely close to what I was looking for. This went on for a few minutes while my bridesmaids scoured the other racks. My consultant gave up after 10 minutes and said "that's all we have". She didn't have ONE dress for me to try on. I didn't think what I was looking for was too demanding, since I've been to other shops that had multiple dresses for me to try on. We walked around a little bit more, and she points to a room full of princess dresses and asked if I wanted to try anything there. We finally found one dress to try on that was on a different size rack. My consultant was so concerned about the big size, it was just weird. I put on the dress, it was pretty, but not really what I wanted. Honestly, by then, I just wanted to get out of there. I couldn't believe there was nothing to try on. While I was in the change room, my bridesmaids were chatting with her, and apparently my consultant just said "she just didn't like anything I showed her". My bridesmaid's interpretation was that the consultant didn't want to admit that they don't have anything I liked, she blamed me for not liking anything they carried.

Overall, it was a disappointing experience. I would recommend going there if you were looking for princess dresses with a lot of tulle, or a dress with no lace. It's more a shop of satin type fabrics with bling. Totally not what I was looking for. We were out of the shop within 20 minutes. And when we were leaving, my bridesmaid asked for her coffee back which she had given to my consultant to safe keep in the office. When she came back to claim her coffee, turns out my consultant had thrown it out.

Anyway, that's my rant about Bridal Gallery. I was not impressed, and kinda pissed by it, and just wanted to go home.

Luckily, my bridesmaids encouraged me to look at some other shops since we came all the way out to New Westminster. We decided to go into a little place called Ellebay Bridal Boutique. We walked in, and right away, there was a dress that was pretty close to what I wanted!!! 
We were telling Gaby, one of the owners, what an awful experience we just had at The Bridal Gallery, and was commenting that I was simply looking for a dress like the one she has on the mannequin. Without missing a beat, she offered to let me try on the dress! It fit like a glove!!!! The custom dress I tried on was definitely within my budget, which was quite surprising. After buying a dress, and getting alterations, it would cost about the same as a custom made dress. I remember reading about custom dresses on Vancity Bride. I didn't think much of it, but as I talked more with Gaby, I suddenly remembered I had read about her business on Jeannine's blog.

Gaby was so accommodating! I was probably standing there in the dress for about 30 minutes. It wasn't 100% what I wanted, but definitely a close 80%!! There would just be a few things I would change, and Gaby was right there to answer any questions I had. The biggest thing that stood out for me the most was that the dress would be made based on my height (I'm 5'2", so everything I've tried on so far has to be hemmed). Not having to hem a dress is already a great money saver. There is no cost for alterations per se, since the dress is fitted to you! Gaby even let me try on a veil that was originally $750!!!! I had never seen such a beautiful veil. It was amaaaazinnnnnggg!!!!

After talking with Gaby, I am definitely going to consider having a custom dress made by her. I can get exactly what I want, and I can give her my budget, and not have to worry about having to pay for extras.

Be sure to check out her blog too!!

I am so glad we went into Ellebay. That experience definitely ended my day on a great note!

Okay, I rambled on for a bit. Here's a quick summary:

Bisou - Designer dresses, higher end price points, small fitting rooms, dim lighting
Clara -  Smaller selection, lots of lace dresses, medium price point, huge fitting room
Sposa - Very professional, secretive about designers, limited dress selection
Bridal Gallery - Only go if you are looking for a princess, ballgown type dress, very chaotic, cheap dresses
Ellebay - Custom designer, very friendly, can work within your budget

Alright, that's is for now.

I'll keep you posted!