Friday, February 27, 2015

Your Virtual Kick in the Butt!

First of all, happy Friday everyone! :)

Every once in a while I need a good kick in arse. And I am old enough to know that I am too young to know a thing, so I often find myself looking for some external wisdom to get me on the right track. Sometimes it will be advice from friends and family, but often I find myself digging around the world wide web. Now and then I come across some gems that I bookmark to read again when I need a little boost.

Today I thought I’d share a few you with, so pick your poison! Read a good article, and get ready to take on the world…or at least the weekend! ;)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Wedding Bliss

Andrew and I have finally set a date! For a long time we had plans to elope, to keep it easy, simple and just us. However, like I'm sure most weddings do our plans slowly snowballed into having an actual wedding. And although I'm still a fan of the whole elopement idea, I must admit I am so exited to have a wedding with our family and friends.

We've decided to keep it small and intimate, with a modern rustic feel. We are doing a morning ceremony with a lunch reception to follow. It just felt more "us" and will perfect overlooking a lake on a bright summer day.

This past weekend I finally said "Yes!" to a dress and ordered it. Which is a big relief! I never thought that trying to find a dress I loved would be so difficult! I mean, they are all so beautiful. At my first appointment (1 of 3) I felt much like Carrie Bradshaw in the sense I was missing the bride gene. They all just felt so wrong, so puffy and silly. I felt very hopeless after that appointment, I found one I liked, but didn't love. I figured I should know, get that little bride feeling, shed a tear and jump up and down. By the next appointment I was getting more into the swing of things. I had a better understanding of what I liked and didn't like. Still didn't find "the one", but figuring out what I didn't like was all part of the process. Ironically enough, after my third appointment I had come to the realization that I actually did find my dress at the first store I went to.

After getting over the initial weirdness of trying these gowns on it actually became kind of fun. So I'm glad I got to experience it, and will miss devoting my Saturdays to hauling dresses on and off and then spending the afternoon stressing over which one is "the one". Luckily, finding my groom was much easier and gave me the tingling, jump up and down feeling right away. ;)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Easy Mongolian Beef

This recipe uses ground beef instead of flank steak which is probably a more traditional version of Mongolian beef. But this substitute makes it a super-fast weeknight meal that’s both sweet and spicy just like most of our favorite Asian take out items.

And much like take out, it’s almost better next day! :) Enjoy!

  • 1 lb of lean ground beef
  • ¼ of brown sugar
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp of ginger, minced
  • ½ tsp of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • Green onions, sliced

1. In a large skillet brown the ground beef in the sesame oil, drain the excess fat.

2. Add the garlic, sugar, soy sauce, ginger salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer for a few minutes. Serve over steamed white or brown rice garnish with green onions.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I Heart Organizing

Happy New Year Friends!!! :)

Is it just me or is January is the adult September? In my younger years I was always so excited to go back to school, it never lasted long but the idea that this year was going to be my year inspired me. I would go out and buy super cute notebooks, tabs, highlighters etc, and for that first week of school I took impeccable notes.

Luckily, for me, with age has come a little more dedication and my motivation lasts much longer then just a week.

January is all about resetting, cleaning up, getting the things done you have been putting off. And although these tasks seem daunting, when you break them down and actually get them off you to-do list, it is such a good feeling!

For example, since I moved last year the way my kitchen was unpacked has driven me nuts! But I ignored time and time again because taking everything out of the cupboards and trying to find a new configuration seemed impossible. But this year I finally did it! And man does it feel awesome!

Since blogging is all about the sharing of ideas, I thought I would share some of mine that make my life so much easier and more organized -

Make Lists
I am constantly making lists, I usually have 2 or 3 on the go at any given time. One containing things I want to accomplish by weeks or months end and the other for daily activities. I keep other lists on my phone of thing's I'm running low on, so next time I'm out I can check to see what I need. I even keep one for things I want to ask my doctor next time I see him. I write down everything I have to do to get out of my head on paper.

Chunk it Out
Break out your to-do list into small pieces. If you want organize your dresser for example. Make a commitment to sort out a drawer a night, by week's end you'll be done and it only took you about 10 minutes at the end of your day.

Once you get some organized, make sure you maintain it. For example - every 6 months or year, make a note in your calendar to go through your files and shred any paperwork you don't need. Or clean out your closet of any unwanted items to donate or consign. Maintaining is always so much easier then dealing with it after it builds up for a long time.

Get Inspired
Before I reorganize anything I was check out what other people have done on Pinterest. I pull ideas from all over to come up with the perfect solution for myself.

Make the task fun 
Put music on, get your friends or spouse involved. Make it fun. And make sure you reward yourself after a job well done!

Happy Organizing! This year's going to be great! :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Almond Butter Freezer Fudge

Since by last post was all about the coat your teeth with sugar and put you into a coma sweet fudge, here’s a much healthier option that you can keep in your freezer all year round! 

  • 2 cups of creamy almond butter (I used almond/hazelnut)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tbsp of raw honey, melted
  • 1/2 tsp of salt 

1. Prepare an 8 x 8 pan by lining it with plastic wrap, set aside.

2. Mix together all of the ingredients until smooth, pour into pan and freeze until firm.

3. Remove fudge by lifting plastic wrap out of the pan, cut into 1 inch squares.  Store in the freezer in an airtight container until ready to consume.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Easy Chocolate Fudge

 Normally fudge doesn’t make the cut on to my Christmas baking list, but this year it somehow made it's way on there, and now it might very well become a part of the holiday baking tradition.

It’s so easy, and such a sweet little indulgence that can be cut into perfect little squares that make my OCD smile.

  • 3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ tsp of vanilla
  • ½ cup of pecans, chopped *optional

1. Line a 8x8 or 9x9 pan with tin foil, and lightly grease.

2. In a medium sized saucepan, over low heat, mix the chocolate chips with the condensed milk until the chocolate is completely melted.

3. Add salt, and vanilla and pecans, mix until combined and pour into prepared pan and refrigerate until firm. Cut into small squares and store in an air tight container in the freezer or fridge.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Stuffed Pepper Soup

I love me some stuffed peppers! Probably because I grew up on them. My grandma made THE best ones and ever since I started cooking for myself I have been making them.

With that being said I love this soup even more! It's the exact same taste but much easier to make and you get the perfect ratio of ingredients with each bite!

  • 1 lb extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 package of spicy ground sausage
  • 1 c onion, diced
  • 14oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2  green peppers, chopped
  • 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • ½ tsp of dried basil
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of brown rice, cooked al dente
1. In a large saucepan, brown your beef and sausage with the onion over medium heat. If there is excess fat, drain.
2. Add remaining ingredients, and simmer for 30 minutes. Rice and peppers should be soft.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Fresh Pressed Juice Review

To date, I have tried 3 different juiceries. I started out wanting to do a juice cleanse, but more recently I just decided it was good way to get some extra fruits and veggies in me. I feel so much better when I eat healthy, I truly am my own worst enemy at times.

Even having a few juices a day helps me remember that and get me back on track with a more healthy and balanced diet.

I found that a full on cleanse almost resets your body and your cravings, which is nice, because if you don’t crave junk, then it’s a heck of a lot easier to avoid it.

Buying fresh pressed juice is expense and it’s even more so when you do a multiple day cleanse. In my mind, you’re getting good value in what you’re buying as the bottles are a good size and to make that much juice, it would take a lot of fruits and veggies. And the best thing is no cleanup for you. Just adorable bottles filled will nutrients.

Anyway, people are always asking about my experiences and which ones I liked the best so here it is!

Total Cleanse

When I first started looking, not a lot of places delivered to Calgary. So my choices were limited. But Total Cleanse seemed like a good fit, so I ordered a 2 or 3 day cleanse (I can’t remember) Even though they are located in Toronto, they deliver across Canada.

I opted to select my own juices for my cleanse as I knew right off the bat the Cashew Milk had no place in my fridge. For some reason, it’s didn’t appeal to me at the time. So I got a selection of the others.

The start day of my cleanse, I can home to a box of juices packed on dry ice. I was so pumped to try it out. So the following morning, I packed my juices in my bag and headed to work. I was already hungry so I cracked the first one right away. I think it was the Lemon Rush….not very tasty. I got through it but it took hours as I could only manage a slip at a time. Finally, it was done and I was on to the Green Energy….I really didn’t care for this one. So I didn’t drink it and moved on to Very Berry, which was amazing! Which made sense as it was almost completely fruit. Needless to say, I threw in the towel on the first day. In my mind, It was hard enough to be on a liquid diet for 3 days but not likely what you could have made it impossible for me anyway.

This cleanse obviously wasn’t for me. I have noticed that since I ordered they have a new flavor, Citrus Splash which sounds like it would taste pretty good.

Glow Juicery

Once I got the hankering to add some fresh pressed juice to add to my day again, I started googling every place even remotely close to me. Learning from my experience last time I knew that finding a juciery that blended fruits and veggies would be more appealing to me, I was on a mission.

I came across Glow Juicery, and seemed to perfect. The downside being they are based in Edmonton, and don’t deliver. However, it just so happened that Andrew was working in Edmonton M-F so he could bring them back for me. Yay!

I ordered 5 juices and had them for a Friday night when Andrew got back. These juice were pretty tasty! I would buy them again but without them being local it makes it more challenging. And I find drinking juice is much easier during the week, as I tend to indulge more on the weekends. Since Andrew only came home on Fridays this was my only option. However, if you live in Edmonton, this place is worth a try!

Juice Because

On to the next! (And yes, I saved the best for last) I found these to be the best tasting juices by far! I actually enjoyed drinking them!

Not to mention they are local and come in the cutest 6 pack box! I ordered 6 to try out, 2 Betty, 2 Shirley, and a Peter, and Hank.

They seem to add ginger and/or lemon to most of their juices which I think is one of the reasons they taste so great. My favorite is Betty. But they were all wonderful. I will definitely be ordered some more juices from Juice Because, and if your live in Calgary, you should too! :)

Happy Juicing!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pizza Buns

I bought a pop can of Pillsbury pizza dough strictly as a backup. However, plan B became plan A when my weekend got away from me and I lost complete track of time. I intended on making whole wheat dough from scratch so the buns would have even a very small amount of nutrients. But that didn’t happen. I mean it’s a pizza bun, let’s not kid ourselves, this isn’t a healthy recipe. But they aren’t huge, so if you make a lunch out of one with some veggies on the side. All and all your diet isn’t completely blown.

Once cooled, I wrapped them up individually and froze them for the days I didn’t time to make my lunch ahead.

  • 1 can of pizza dough OR a batch of your own recipe
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Cheese, grated
  • Toppings

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Unroll, or roll out pizza dough into a rectangle. Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce, sprinkle cheese, and toppings.

3. Starting at one end, roll up the dough with the toppings inside. Once you have a large roll, cut into 1’’ pieces and place roll on it’s side on the baking sheet. Bake for approx. 20 minutes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Banana Bread

I will pass this recipe onto my future offspring. No other banana bread recipe compares. It is the best. In fact, I often double it and always make 2 loafs as a general rule. I slice it up, wrap then individually and keep them in my freezer to grab as a snack on my way out the door.

  • 2 cups of flour (you can use whole wheat or half and half)
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup of butter, softened
  • ¾ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 over ripe bananas, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease loaf pan and set aside.

2. In a large bowl or kitchen aid, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in eggs and vanilla, mix well.

3. Add flour, salt, baking soda and bananas. Mix until combined and batter is smooth.

4. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for approx. 60 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Butter Tart vs The Pecan Pie Tart

Welcome to the Tart Show Down!
Where both tarts are deemed winners. Like why choose? Make both!

This was my first time making both of these little seasonal treats, and it was much easier then I thought it would be.... Okay so I used stored bought, frozen tart shells. I work full time, please don't judge me, the guilt has been keeping me up at night as it is. ;)

These both freeze extremely well. In fact I always prefer mine frozen or cold. yum!

Butter Tarts
  • 1/4 cup of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup of pure maple syrup
  • raisins
  • 1 package of frozen tart shells (approx 20)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tart shells on it. Sprinkle raisins in each shell (as desired). Set aside.

2. In a large bowl or kitchen aid, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, eggs, and maple syrup, mix well. (the filling may look chunky with small butter pieces, that's okay, it's freaked me out too, but it will melt in the oven when baked)

3. Spoon filling into each shell on top of raisins, taking care not to over fill. Bake for approx 15 - 20 minutes, pastry should be golden and filling is bubbling. Let cool.

Pecan Tarts
  • 3 cups of pecans, chopped
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of corn syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of butter, melted
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 1 package of frozen tart shells (approx 20)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tart shells on it. Set aside.

2. Stir together sugar and corn syrup in a medium bowl. Stir in pecans, eggs, and next 3 ingredients.

3. Spoon about 1/4 cup pecan mixture into each tart shell. Bake for approx 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Let cool.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

I always thought of Pineapple Upside down cake to be in the same category as Jello molds. Something your mother would have made for “special occasions” and for some reason that thought remains in my mind in black and white. It feels like it’s from a completely different generation then my own. But I’ve been seeing the recipe in the mini form, a TON on Pinterest, so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and join in. Besides, what else was I going to do with canned pineapple?

So I think that if you like Pineapple Upside Down Cake this is a great recipe, I just don’t think I’m a huge fan of it. And when I say I’m not a huge fan, that means I ate 2 of the little cakes the same day I made them. If I really like something, I eat the whole thing and pretend it never happened. ;)

So put on an old movie, throw on flapper dress from the back of your closet and take a trip to the 20s with me as you bake these sweet little cakes.

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • ½ cup of butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar, packed
  • 2 cans of pineapple chunks, drained and sliced in half
  • 21 maraschino cherries
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of butter, melted
  • 1 tsp of almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, grease 21 muffin tins cavities.

2. Arrange 5 slices of the pineapple chunks at the bottom of each cavity so it forms a circle, place a cherry in the middle of each. Set aside.

3. In a small saucepan, melt ½ cup of butter over low heat, mix in the brown sugar then spoon over the cherry and pineapple pieces so it’s divided evenly.

4. In mixing bowl or kitchen aid, beat the eggs whites until soft peaks form. Add the white sugar and continue to beta until stiff peaks form.

5. Fold in the egg yolks, flour, baking powder, and salt, until just combined. Then mix the butter and almond extract.

6. Spoon batter evenly into each cavity, bake for approx. 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges of each cake with a table knife. Turn over onto wire rack and let rest for a minute or two.