Holiday Baking – Nanaimo Bars (Actually…A “No Bake” Recipe!)

Hello all,

I spent a few hours this weekend, baking and stocking the freezer with Christmas goodies.  There is more to do yet, (isn’t there always at this time of year?) but it was a good start.

And there is so much to love about Nanaimo bars.  They are no bake, they freeze beautifully, (a little insider tip…they are awesome right out of the freezer) they’re chocolaty, a little nutty, a little custardy, quite easy and Canadian.  Oh Canada!

Here we go:

Layer an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper, making sure that you have cut it long enough for a bit of overhang.  You could use  a 7″ square pan, resulting in bars that are a little thicker, but don’t go any smaller than 7 inches, or larger than 8 inches.  Try to use a pan that has relatively straight sides.  The parchment overhang will act as handles to help lift the finished bars out of the pan and will make clean up a little easier too.  If you don’t have parchment paper, foil will work as well.

First Layer:

In a double boiler, or a bowl fitted over a pan of simmering water, melt butter, sugar and cocoa powder.

Once they are combined, add the beaten egg and stir for a minute to cook.  The mixture will thicken quickly.

Remove the mixture from the heat, and add in the Graham Wafer crumbs, chopped almonds and coconut.  Stir the mixture until it is all incorporated into the chocolate and press into the bottom of your pan.  Helpful tip: run your hands under the tap and shake off the excess before you press in the bottom.  Alternately, use the back of a measuring cup to press an even layer.

Middle Layer:

Cream together the butter, cream, custard powder and icing sugar and continue to beat until they are whipped and lightened in colour.  Spread this mixture on top of the bottom layer.  Helpful tip:  drop “dollops” of the mixture to make distribution easier and avoid disturbing the bottom layer.

Top Layer:

Melt semi sweet chocolate and butter together.  You can do this in your double boiler, but the easiest way, is to do so in the microwave.

At no higher than half power, microwave the chocolate and butter in short, thirty second bursts.  Stir and repeat the process until the chocolate is just melted.  If there are some small bits of chocolate that are still firm, simply stir the mixture and they will melt and blend.

Let this mixture cool for about 10 minutes.  You want it to be cooler, but still liquid.

Pour it over the top, and spread it out as evenly as possible.

The hard part is over.  Now all you have to do is make yourself a cup of tea while you wait for the pan to chill in the refrigerator until set.

Again, using the parchment overhang as handles, lift the chilled square out of the pan and slice.

Last helpful tip:  Put the ragged edge cuts out on a plate for your family as a decoy, while you squirrel the rest away in the freezer.  Works every time.

Enjoy!

Holiday Baking - Nanaimo Bars (Actually...A "No Bake" Recipe!)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Category: Christmas Baking, Holiday Baking, Recipes

Cuisine: Canadian

Servings: 16-20 - depending on how small or large you slice the bars

Holiday Baking - Nanaimo Bars (Actually...A "No Bake" Recipe!)

Ingredients

  • Base Layer
  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 1/4 C Granulated Sugar
  • 5 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 C Graham Wafer Crumbs
  • 1/2 C Almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 C Coconut, dried, sweetened
  • Middle Layer
  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tbsp Custard Powder
  • 2 C Icing Sugar
  • Top Layer
  • 4 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp Butter

Instructions

  1. Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper or foil
  2. Bottom Layer
  3. Melt first three ingredients in a double boiler
  4. Add the beaten egg and stir for a minute to cook and thicken
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the Graham Crumbs, Almonds and Coconut
  6. Press firmly into the bottom of your pan
  7. Middle Layer
  8. Cream the butter, cream, Custard Powder and icing sugar together and beat until light and fluffy
  9. Drop dollops of this mixture onto the bottom layer and spread evenly
  10. Top Layer
  11. Melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat in a double boiler or on low power in the microwave.
  12. If using the microwave, use half power or lower and only cook for 30 second intervals. Check and stir the mixture until it is melted
  13. Allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes.
  14. Pour and spread the chocolate mixture on top of the middle layer
  15. Chill the pan in the refrigerator until it is set
  16. Slice and enjoy, or freeze for later
http://atcouture.ca/2019/12/10/holiday-baking-nanaimo-bars-actually-a-no-bake-recipe/

 

A Little Flash, A Little Glam – A Festive Tablescape

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Last year, a dear friend of mine asked me to make a black tablecloth for her dining room table. Not a problem and what a great idea! I immediately wanted one myself.

I bought several metres of two different black tablecloth fabrics. One was plain and one brocade. She chose the plain for herself. (I was hoping she’d pick that one!). And I made a cloth for my own table out of the brocade.

Above is a shot of the cloth before I laid out all the tableware.

We are hosting a small dinner party Saturday evening, and since this is the start of the Holiday season, it’s a perfect opportunity for a bit of sparkle and drama. And the black lends a backdrop that works splendidly.

The gold table runner was purchased from Homesense for under $20. They had a red one too and I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t buy it as well. Truly, I couldn’t make it any cheaper.

The silver bowl and compotes were purchased from Replacements. The other silver pieces were acquired at various auctions.

I’m really pleased with how this has all come together. The little compotes will be removed from the table during dinner, and will return, holding after dinner mints which I’ll serve with dessert.

For dinner, we are starting with a Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup, which is an Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa recipe.

Then we will tuck into beef tenderloin, Yorkshire puddings, glazed baby carrots and roasted Brussels sprouts.

I’ve just baked a cheesecake for dessert and will make a strawberry sauce in the morning…after I go to the gym for a serious calorie burn session in anticipation!

Let the festive season begin!

Bye for now.

Andrea

Vogue – V7975. Next On The Cutting Table

Vogue 7975 Pattern Cover

Ah, the little French jacket. There are so many wonderful versions that have been beautifully sewn over the years. Many fellow seamstresses have used Vogue 7975 as the basis of their creations, and have very graciously shared their insights, tips and process. Inspired, I spent an hour or so this morning, tracing out View E of V7975. I will be making this with a lovely navy and white boucle that I purchased last summer at Mood Fabrics, during a trip to NYC.

Unfortunately, the fabric is all I have for this project, so I am full stop for the next day or two. I do need to buy lining and interfacing – the latter being most important before I can move forward. The boucle is bound to fray and unravel as soon as I cut into it. After reading many reviews for V7975 from Sewing Pattern Review, I am resolved to follow the wisdom of those who have already made this jacket and block interface the fabric.

What is block interfacing or block fusing? That is where you take a large piece/block of interfacing and fuse to the fabric before you lay out the pattern pieces and begin cutting. I have never needed to go this route with past projects, but do think that this will be a great time to do so. I’m hoping as well that this will eliminate some headaches, and perhaps mitigate stretching or misshapen pieces. I’ll post pictures of my progress as I go…

In the meantime, here is the fabric for my jacket. It looks almost black in these photos, but it is indeed a navy blue.

Boucle swatch for V7975
Another view of the boucle for V7975

As you can see, the selvedge has a lovely frayed edge that I am hoping I can incorporate into my cuff, neck and front edge trims.

If I have enough, I will try to squeak out a pencil skirt to match, although that may be wishful thinking. I was only considering the requirements for the jacket when I bought the fabric. Argh…hindsight. They may have it still in stock. I’ll have a look online.

The traced pieces for V7975

And there are the pattern pieces, traced out and ready on the kid’s old ping pong table my cutting table.

More to come…

Andrea

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Vogue V1562 Lialia Double Breasted Coat

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Category: Vogue

McCalls M6886 – A Quick Way To Get Your Sewing Mojo Back

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Hello all,

There is no doubt in my mind, that when I say that life sometimes gets in the way of sewing, you are all nodding your heads in agreement. Holidays, schedules, family and work have all taken priority and the end result, for me has been a loss of my inclination and enthusiasm.

Someone in one of my online sewing groups had posted a question about this very thing; asking how to get the sewing mojo back after an absence. And most every answer was the same – whip out a quick project. There is something very true about the effect that an instant gratification task brings.

And there is no better pattern for a quick sew than M6886. Two pieces, front and back. It doesn’t get much easier and I was tempted to do the whole thing on my serger.

I chose to make a combination of view D – sleeveless with the scoop neckline, while using the pattern pieces of view F for the length. View D was the shorter version only.

Zip, zip, zip in under two hours, including the tracing.

I serged the shoulder and side seams for a clean finish and did a very simple serge and turn under finish on the neck and arm holes. A zig zag or twin needle are also excellent finishes if you don’t own a serger.

And le voila.

Mojo restored and on to my next project. We are heading out on vacation soon and I’m keen to make a couple of swimsuit coverups. More to come on that…

Bye for now,

Andrea

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Vogue 1422

One of the great benefits of social media, is the way in which it brings like minded individuals together from around our world. I have had the pleasure of being part of a Facebook group, led by an encouraging and ever cheerful host over the past year or so. The leader selects a pattern and the participants all work away on their own version, posting steps, challenges and progress pictures along the way. The sewing talent of the members is inspiring as we all tackle our pattern together; each of us finishing with a garment as unique as our fabric choice. Although I don’t participate in every challenge, I am always a keen observer.

One of my favourites has been Vogue 1422. What a dress! Fabric, lining, underlining and stretch mesh all layered for a gorgeous result.

Now, I have always been a die hard pattern tracer. Weight fluctuations, terribly fragile tissue and a desire to make favourites more than once are a few of the reasons that I could never bring myself to cut into my patterns. Lately though, my husband has questioned why I am not placing value on my time versus the cost of a pattern. He suggested that rather than spending an hour or so taping, tracing and cutting, that I should just purchase two copies of a pattern that I think I will make more than once. Cut one, save one. And he is absolutely right. I had already traced this one out though. Next time…

I bought all my materials from my local Fabricland. The teal fabric also came in a solid, but I was really drawn to the large roses. Bemberg lining, organza underlining for the skirt and a stretch mesh lining for the bodice. Here we go…

Bodice front
Bodice back
Stretch mesh bodice lining. How persnickety was this stuff to sew!
Organza skirt underlining view 1
…and view 2
Inside out to show fabric and underlining together
The lining is added
The zipper is installed (unpicked, and re-sewn)
Completed back view
The finished front view

An added benefit of the sewing group is that it makes you give patterns a second look. Surely, I had seen this pattern on Vogue’s website, but it wasn’t until it became the group choice that I really noticed it. And I am very glad that I opted in.

Would I make this again? Absolutely. If I do, it will be in a solid colour and I think this would make an excellent “little black dress”.

Bye for now,

Andrea

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Butterick Lisette B6385 – Part 2 – The Finished Coat!

Hello all,

A very quick post to show off my completed Butterick Lisette B6385.  I started this coat in November of last year which you can read about here.   Because this was the second time making it, the majority of it was done within about a week.  I became quite indecisive about buttons for it however, and set it aside while I found ones I liked.

Of course, then the Holiday season ramped up and my attentions were drawn to cooking, baking and décor.  My poor Lisette hung sadly unfinished on my dress form in the basement for a month and a half.

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