Sunday, December 30, 2012

Guest Post – Hey, Turkey Soup!

I’m back! We took a nice little blogging break in this house for the holidays but now that Christmas is all said and done (hope yours was great!) it’s time for some new posts. We’re starting today with a recipe from One Hungry Dude, perfect for those turkey dinner leftovers.

It's after Christmas, and if you've cooked a turkey, you're likely looking for something to do with the leftovers. So don't throw out the bones, they can form the base of a delicious and easy to prepare soup. Feel free to improvise on the amount of turkey meat and pasta. I prefer a heavier soup, with plenty of meat and pasta to sop up the broth; but there is so much flavour in this recipe, a lighter hand would also suffice.

turkey soup 1
• 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 2 Onions, each cut in half
• 2 Cups Baby Carrots
• 5 or 6 Garlic Cloves
• Salt and Pepper
• 4 Dried Bay Leaves
• 2 Tsp Dried Rosemary
• Leftover turkey, bones and meat
• Zest and Juice from half a Lemon
• 3 Cups Fusilli
• 2 Tsp Dried Parsley

Start by separating the meat from the turkey bones. Then in a stock pot, add the olive oil, onions, one cup of the baby carrots, and garlic, and heat over medium-high. Cook until the onions just begin to brown, then add the salt and pepper, bay leaves and rosemary. Continue cooking for another two to three minutes, then add the bones. Cook for another five minutes, then add the lemon and 12 cups of water.  Reduce the heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for anywhere between two to four hours, depending on the amount of time you have available. The longer you simmer the broth, the more depth it develops.

Strain the broth and discard the solid material. Return the broth to a simmer and thinly slice the remaining baby carrots. Add the carrots to the broth, and continue simmering for another 15 to 20 minutes. Then add the turkey meat and Fusilli, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with fresh bread or grilled cheese.

This recipe serves five to six people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crafty Christmas – DIY Gift Tags

Have you seen the price of gift tags lately? Unless you’re buying the little stickers then you’re probably paying an arm and a leg for them so why not make your own? These tags were so easy to make but are really cute and unique enough that your gift recipient will take notice.

Christmas Tree Tags

The measurements for these will vary depending on the size of tag you use but the method will stay the same. Cut three strips from a piece of double sided paper making each strip a little shorter than the last. Score each strip along even intervals and then fold them accordion style. Pinch the longest strip together a bit at the top and hot glue it on to your tag. Repeat with the remaining strips being sure that the middle strip is flipped over so you can see the coordinating pattern. The last step is to glue little paper stars to the top (I cut mine out with my Silhouette).

Simple, cute and you can make them on the cheap because, let’s be honest, they’re probably getting thrown out with the wrapping paper! I made some of these for my craft sale that were about 5 inches tall. I priced them at $2 each and sold 6 of them.

So, how’s your gift wrapping going?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guest Post – Roasted Potatoes and Carrots

Still planning your holiday menu? Consider including this delicious new recipe from One Hungry Dude!

I love to watch holiday cooking specials at this time of the year, and Food Network is fully satisfying my craving. It seems every celebrity chef has their own take on holiday food. A few weeks ago, I saw Jamie Oliver make a roasted potato recipe, and was inspired to create my own. These potatoes were amazing, and I fully intend to add them into my regular food rotation. They are easy to make, but look and taste quite impressive. Best of all, they'll take some stress out of your holiday cooking.

roasted carrots and potatoes

• 2 Cups of Baby Carrots
• 8 Yellow Potatoes, peeled and cut in half
• Olive Oil
• 5 to 6 cloves of garlic
• 2 Tsp Dried Rosemary
• 4 to 5 Tbsp Margarine or Butter
• Zest and Juice from 1/2 a Lemon
• Salt and Pepper

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the potatoes and carrots, reduce the temperature to medium, and parboil for about 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F. In a large roasting pan, add enough olive oil to thinly cover the bottom. Drain the vegetables, but leave the element on. Place the pan on the element, and heat the olive oil. Then add the rosemary and garlic, and cook for about two to three minutes, or until the rosemary becomes fragrant. Stir in the vegetables, making sure they sit in a single layer and are coated with the seasoned oil. Drop the margarine or butter, one tablespoon at a time, on top of the vegetables. Then top the vegetables with the lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper.

Place in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven, stir, then use a masher to gently squash each potato. Return the vegetables to the oven for another 20 to 25 minutes, until they reach your preferred tenderness.

Remove from the oven and consider transferring the vegetables to a plate covered with paper towel, to drain some of the excess oil. Then serve.

This recipe yields about 8 to 10 servings.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Crafty Christmas – Upcycled Wine Bottle Vases

Popping in with a quick post before getting the weekend started. And by that I totally mean putting on my pajamas and catching up on Grey’s Anatomy ;) But first, I wanted to show you these easy, pretty winter vases made from wine bottles. I pinned these last winter but, since we don’t drink wine, I wasn’t able to try them until someone donated some bottles to the cause this year.

Upcycled Winter Wine Bottle Vases

Start by cleaning off any labels and giving the bottles a good scrub with some hot, soapy water. Once they’re dry give them a coat of white spray-paint. I found that one coat was enough but don’t be afraid to add a second if you can see through to the glass. Once the paint is dry give the bottles a quick blast of spray adhesive (don’t spray the necks) and then roll them in Epsom salts. Done! Since taking this picture I’ve added a few glittery flower sprigs that I originally bought to put on a wreath. I think they look beautiful and I can leave them out all winter.

These were part of my inventory at my craft sale and I sold two of them at $10 each.

A quick warning – if your cat is anything like mine you’re going to want to keep these bottles somewhere he can’t get to. My cat licked some patches bare the first night I left these out. Luckily they were easy to repair :)

Have a great weekend!

Pinned It – Did It Count: 4

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Easy Hanukkah Toddler Crafts

I hope everyone celebrating the festival of lights has been enjoying themselves so far! I’ve mentioned before that while we’re not religious, my husband is Jewish on his father’s side so we acknowledge Hanukkah each year. This is Nathan’s first holiday season so I was searching for ways to get him involved in celebrating and came up with two simple toddler crafts that we did together.

The first is the handprint menorah. I’ve seen this done before but with paint. Since Nathan is only 9 months old the idea of spreading paint all over his hands and hoping he didn’t touch EVERYTHING within reach didn’t really appeal to me! So instead I traced his hands and cut them out of blue paper. I glued them together with one thumb on top of the other to make the shamos and then I cut out little yellow flames. I glued all the flames on myself but if your child is a bit older they can enjoy gluing a flame on each night when you light the menorah!

Handprint Menorah

Our second craft was a simple paper chain. Nathan has just discovered colouring so I gave him a yellow and a blue crayon and had him scribble all over some cream coloured cardstock.

Paper Chain Supplies

I cut the cardstock and some patterned blue paper into strips and then made them into a paper chain. If you’ve never made a paper chain before I explained them in a little more detail here. I hung the finished chain over one of the bigger pictures we have hanging in the living room though I take it down now and again so Nathan can shake it – it makes a great noise ;)

Hanukkah Paper Chain

Hanukkah Paper Chain_ 

Happy Hanukkah!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Guest Post – Rosemary Bread

Well the first Hanukkah present has been opened and our Christmas tree is now up and decorated – what a fun weekend! It sure did go by quickly though. On this lovely Sunday afternoon One Hungry Dude is dropping by with another delicious recipe. Since I’m a vegetarian I don’t taste a lot of what he creates in our kitchen but I have definitely sampled this Rosemary Bread and am fairly certain I could eat an entire loaf prepared this way! Seriously, you should give it a try.

There's something about rosemary that gives off a great holiday vibe. It's a strong herb, but works incredibly well with a number of festive, savory foods. This bread is a perfect compliment to a holiday dinner, especially since it's so quick to make. You may even consider using the bread as an appetizer at a party, by cutting it into wedges or halves once cooked, and serving it with vegetables or a cheese spread.

Rosemary Bread
• 3 Tbsp Margarine
• 2 Tsp Dried Rosemary
• 1 Tsp Dried Basil
• A Pinch of Garlic Powder
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• Four slices of your favourite thinly-sliced bread (I typically use Rye)

Place the rack in the middle of the oven, then set to broil. Meanwhile, put the margarine, rosemary, basil, garlic, salt and pepper in a large frying pan on the stove top, and heat over medium. Once the margarine begins to melt, stir to ensure all the ingredients blend together, and the mixture covers the entire base of the pan. When the margarine begins to bubble, place the bread on the pan. Press down lightly using your fingers, allowing the bread to soak up the mixture. After a few seconds, take the bread out of the pan, and place it in the oven. Broil until the bread begins to brown, then take it out of the oven and serve.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crafty Christmas - $2 Tinsel Garland Done Two Ways

Is it just me or are Christmas decorations really shiny this year? Tinsel trees seem to be everywhere! I love the retro vibe that tinsel can have so when I found $2 strands of tinsel garland at Walmart I knew I could make them into something great. I bought two strands for a total of $4 and made two different projects. The first is my tinsel tree set.

Tinsel Trees 

These were really easy to make! I created tree forms with a pizza box (the kind that you cook in your oven, not a delivery box) because it was sturdy but not so thick that I couldn’t roll it. Once the hot glue had dried on the forms I used some more to glue on the tinsel. I started at the top and that way, if I ran out, I could just cut off the bottom of my tree form. The last step was to take some mini ornaments that I bought for $1 at the dollar store and hot glue those onto the trees. So easy and so cute with a real vintage feel. These cost me less than $3 to make (I had leftover ornaments) and I sold the set for $15 :)

Next I took my second garland and started wrapping it around a wire wreath form. My plan was to cover the whole wreath but I obviously hadn’t guesstimated the correct length of garland I’d need as it only made it about half way around.

Tinsel & Yarn Wreath

Not to be discouraged I rummaged through my stash and found the pretty blue yarn that I used on last year’s Yarn Winter Wreath and wrapped it around the other side. I went back over with some random strands to try and give it a more natural look. I tied a bow with some silver ribbon and hot glued that onto the tinsel side and then added all the silver ornaments from my $1 pack onto the yarn side. I wasn’t sure about this wreath at first but I really like the way it turned out. I love the way the yarn is in such contrast to the tinsel. I was asking $20 for it and it got a lot of compliments but didn’t sell. I can’t be too upset about it though since it only cost me about $3 to make (not counting the materials that I already had).

So what do you think of tinsel? Vintage or tacky? Or maybe just trendy? While you ponder that I’ll be off working on some toddler Hanukkah crafts that I’ll be sharing next week!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Crafty Christmas – Dry Erase Christmas Countdown

Today I’m sharing another one of the projects I did for my craft sale – dry erase Christmas countdowns. I’d seen the idea for writing on glass with a dry erase marker on a few blogs recently and I thought it would be the perfect way to keep track of the days leading up to Christmas!

DIY Christmas Countdown

I started with some 8x10 black frames that I bought at Good Will for a few dollars each. I removed the glass and the ugly bathroom art and sprayed two with Nickel and one with Red paint. Painting only one coat allowed the black to show through a bit which gave the frames a kind of vintage feel.

DIY Christmas Countdown v2

While the paint dried I used my Silhouette to cut out “Days Until Christmas” and the little dashes to write the numbers on top. I glued my letters down on some Christmas paper and arranged some additional paper elements. Then I popped the glass and the paper back into the frames.

 DIY Christmas Countdown v3

And it was as easy as that! I was selling these for $20 each and including a dry erase marker with each one. I thought that was pretty reasonable for decently sized Christmas decor that can be used year after year and I think they would have sold at that price in a different setting. Unfortunately, I didn’t sell any of them. If you like one of them and you’re local or you’d be willing to pay for shipping just let me know :). Otherwise, give this craft a try yourself – there’s still 18 days until Christmas!

P.S. Linking up with Clean & Scentsible, Free Pretty Things For You, Someday Crafts

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Guest Post – Mushroom & Potato Soup

This post from One Hungry Dude may be late but it sure is appropriate for the rainy and grey weather we’re having here today. All of our snow has melted away and I’ve had to keep the lights on all day because it’s so dark outside. Curling up with a bowl of this yummy soups sounds pretty good right about now!

Once the weather gets cooler, I love to experiment with soups. I find very few meals are as satisfying as a rich, hearty bowl of soup on a cold late fall or winter day. So I often make soup in batches, because the leftovers always become a tasty and quick meal option for a busy day.

Mushroom and Potato Soup

• 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 6 Tbsp Margarine
• 2 Onions, diced
• 1 Cup Baby Carrots, diced
• 4 Cloves Garlic, diced
• 15 Cremini Mushrooms, roughly chopped
• 4 Bay Leaves
• 2 Tsp Thyme
• 2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
• 4 Cups Vegetable Broth
• 10 Yellow Potatoes, peeled and chopped into one-inch cubes
• 2 Cups Milk
• Shredded Cheddar Cheese and Parsley, for garnish

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and margarine over medium-high. Add the onions and carrots, and cook for about four to five minutes, then reduce heat by about half, add the garlic, mushrooms, Bay leaves, thyme and Worcestershire, stir, then cover. Meanwhile, warm the vegetable broth in a separate pot. Cook the vegetables until they begin to soften, and the onions become translucent.

Add the broth to the large pot, then add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes become soft. Use an immersion blender, and puree until smooth. Gradually stir the milk into the soup, so it doesn't curdle. Let the soup simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes to an hour, then ladle into bowls, top with cheese and parsley and serve.

This recipe yields 10 to 12 servings.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Crafty Christmas – Treat Containers from Formula Cans

I like to give away baking at Christmas. It’s an affordable way to spread some cheer to neighbours and friends who you wouldn’t normally buy presents for. But it can be tricky determining what to put my homemade sweets in for gifting as pretty containers end up being more expensive than the baking but a Ziploc bag really won’t do.  Yesterday, Chris needed cookies for a charity bake sale at his office. I knew the chances were high that if I sent them in one of my containers I’d never see it again so I had to come up with something quickly that still looked cute. Enter the formula can!

Christmas Treat Container

I’ve been saving them since Nathan started on formula 3 months ago so I have a LOT of them – he goes through about a can a week! I just knew they’d come in handy some day. I took a clean, empty formula can, measured a piece of glittery Christmas scrapbook paper to fit and then wrapped it around the can and hot glued it on. Done! Isn’t it pretty? The lid is plain so I don’t think anyone would even know it was a formula can (unless they have a baby of their own at home!). This was a 900g container and it fit two dozen Hot Chocolate Cookies perfectly – great for Christmas gifting! And since the tin is air tight it’ll keep the cookies fresh too :)

If you wanted to get even more creative you could add extra embellishments like ribbon or stickers but I think I like how pretty and simple this one is. I'll definitely be making more of these before December 25th!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Crafty Christmas – Dictionary Page Ornaments

So as I’ve mentioned previously, I participated in my very first craft sale this past weekend. I worked really hard to build up an inventory of awesome Christmas crafts and decorations – things that I was really proud of. I was up until 2 the night before the sale putting the finishing touches on things and I was very pleased with my 8 foot table piled with Christmas goodness. So you can imagine my extreme disappointment when I sold almost nothing! The good news is that I don’t think it was my fault. We got a lot of snow the night before the sale and the roads were a mess in the morning which meant not a lot of people came. So now I have a bunch of boxes full of Christmas crafts in my basement but I also have a lot of great projects to share with you. First up are super simple Dictionary Page Ornaments.

Dictionary Page Ornaments

I bought a bunch of Styrofoam balls at the dollar store and decided to turn them into “unbreakable” ornaments. Basically, ornaments that would be safe should your toddler decide to throw them or your cat decide to climb your tree (I’ve lost many an ornament to my cat’s antics). For this project I chose balls that were a bit bigger than a ping pong ball.

I started by tearing up pages of an old dictionary into small squares and strips. Then I applied a layer of Mod Podge to the balls and covered them in the dictionary pieces, overlapping them to make sure nothing would show through. This is the point where it got messy – I then applied a generous amount of Mod Podge to the top of the dictionary pages and used my fingers to really rub it in and smooth everything out. My hands were black when I was through!

To dry the ornaments I set them in an old egg carton so that they wouldn’t stick to each other or anything else. Once they were dry I used straight pins to attach a loop of red ribbon for hanging. And voila – Dictionary Page Ornaments. I think they turned out simple and pretty and I was selling them for $2 or 3 for $5. I got a ton of compliments but I didn’t sell any. Oh well, they just might make it onto our tree this year ;)

Making sure you keep checking back as I’ve got a lot more Crafty Christmas posts coming up!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Guest Post – 20 Minute Pork Chop Marinade

Well my Craft Sale (that I wrote about on the Sugar and Shimmer Facebook page) has come and gone and, sadly, it was not much of a success. We got a dumping of snow the night before and into the morning and not a lot of people made it out. The good news is that I made a lot of really great things that I’ll be sharing with you over the next 30 days. Can you believe we only have 30 days until Christmas?! And, in addition to my Christmas crafts, One Hungry Dude will still be dropping by every weekend to share a delicious recipe like this one.

For the last few years, I've primarily worked from my home office. That changed two weeks ago, when I took a great new job at a larger newspaper. However, the new career path has also led me to a 40 minute commute — which means I typically have less time to cook great meals on weeknights. So the other day, I tried this pork marinade. It has some strong flavour, which really helps compliment the pork chops, and was prepared in minutes.

20 Minute Pork Chop Marinade
• 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
• 2 Dollops of Honey Mustard
• 6 Tbsp Grated Parmesan Cheese
• Juice from 1/4 Lemon
• 1 Tsp dried Basil
• A sprinkle of Garlic
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• Four pork chops

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the olive oil, honey mustard, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place the pork chops in a separate bowl or container. Pour the marinade over the pork chops, then use your fingers to rub the marinade into both sides of the pork. Place the pork in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

On the stovetop, preheat a frying pan over medium-high. Place the pork in the pan, and cook until done, flipping once. During the cooking process, baste the chops with the drippings using a spoon. This will help keep the chops moist and flavourful. Once cooked, remove the pork from the pan, and place on a cutting board to rest for about three to four minutes, then serve.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Guest Post – Stovetop Penne & Cheese

Another weekend is here and it’s another busy one at that! I’ve got my Christmas craft sale next weekend so I’ve been busy creating and Chris has a new job that takes him out of town every day which has really changed some of the ways we do things around here. The biggest thing is that I’m cooking more! I’m not a confident cook to say the least so I was very happy when Chris (aka One Hungry Dude) deemed one of the dishes I made this week good enough to blog about :) I’ll let him take it from here!

With my evolving work schedule, Sarah has taken on more of a role in the kitchen. So she's always looking for quick, simple and delicious recipes that can be prepared with a baby playing nearby. She made this delicious entree the other day — Stovetop Penne and Cheese. The dish was made in minutes, and it was so tasty, we'll be having it again very soon. She did modify the recipe slightly, based on the ingredients available. We also chose to double the recipe, because the original from White on Rice Couple simply didn't make enough to feed my appetite after a long day.

Stovetop Rotini and Cheese
• 4 Cups Penne
• 4 Cups Low Fat Milk, or more if needed
• 2 Tbsp Margarine
• 1 Tsp Yellow Mustard
• 2 Tsp Salt, plus additional for final season later
• Pepper, to taste
• 2 Cups grated Cheese, any combination of your favourite cheese will do, though we chose Cheddar
• Panko bread crumbs, for topping

In a medium pot add the penne, milk, margarine, mustard, salt and pepper. On medium heat, slowly bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring the penne frequently. This will separate the penne and keep it from sticking together. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat to low. Continue to stir the mixture frequently so that macaroni will cook evenly and absorb milk evenly.

Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the milk has been fully absorbed. If the penne is not fully cooked, add a small amount of milk to the mixture, and let cook for another five minutes.

When milk has evaporated, stir in the grated cheese. Turn off the heat. Place lid on top of the pot and cover for about five minutes. Add salt and pepper, if needed.

Meanwhile, melt a knob of margarine in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add Panko into the pan, until they cover the bottom in a thin layer. Cook for less than five minutes, stirring regularly, until the bread crumbs become fragrant and brown.

Divide the penne and cheese onto plates, top with breadcrumbs and serve immediately.

This recipe feeds about two to three people.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Easy Pumpkin Shaped Cake – Great for Thanksgiving!

Here in Canada, Thanksgiving is long over but my American friends are gearing up for their turkey day next week. For those of you on dessert duty this year, I’ve got you covered! If you’re in Pinterest then you’ve probably seen this idea done a bunch of times but here’s my take on the pumpkin shaped cake.

Pumpkin Cake

This really could not be easier. Simply bake two bundt cakes and then stack them together like a two layer cake (with the bottom one upside down, of course). For my cake I used boxed mix and, though I admitted it, if you don’t want to tell anyone then no one will know the difference ;). Cover the whole cake in orange frosting and then add stem and leaves. For a stem I just rolled a brown paper bag. I’ve seen these made with an ice cream cone stem and that looks great too but I didn’t want to buy a whole box of cones that would just go stale in order to use one for this cake. The last step was to pipe on some leaves. If you’ve got icing tips then go for it, if not you could make your leaves out of paper or, if you prefer edible, cut them out of green fruit leather.

Such a simple idea that makes a really big impact!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Guest Post - Oven Baked Parmesan Garlic Potato Chips

It’s another busy weekend at our house – I’m crafting like crazy to get ready for my Christmas craft sale and the weather is actually warm enough today for spray painting so I’m getting as much done as I can before the cold comes back! Chris (aka One Hungry Dude) starts a new job tomorrow and, of course, our 9 month old keeps us hopping. I hope you’re having a great weekend! And speaking of One Hungry Dude, he’s got an awesome recipe for you today. I was a little skeptical about homemade potato chips but these things are so good! This is a recipe you definitely want to try :)

I've been contributing recipes to the last few editions of Footprints, a magazine distributed throughout the South Simcoe area. For the next edition, which is being released in the next few weeks, I was asked for some perfect appetizers for the holiday party season. Here's one of the recipes:

Parmesan Potato Chips 2

• 6 Tbsp Canola Oil
• 4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
• 4 Yellow Potatoes, thinly sliced using a mandolin, then rinsed and patted dry
• 6 Tsp Parmesan
• 2 Tsp Parsley
• Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F. On the stovetop, heat the oil and garlic. Cook the garlic for about four to five minutes, until it begins to brown. In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes and oil mixture. Spread the potatoes in individual layers on greased baking sheets, working in batches if necessary. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chips become golden brown. Meanwhile, mix the Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Toss the chips with the Parmesan mixture, and serve.

This recipe yields about 100 chips.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Even More DIY Birthday Cards!

Last month my cousin turned 4 so, of course, birthday cards were made! I love making cards for kids since I get to use up all the cute stuff I have in my stash. Lauren loves elephants so this card from Nathan was a no brainer.

Elephant Birthday Card  Elephant Birthday Card_details

It’s made entirely from Sassafras paper and stickers. I just did a lot of layering and added the 4 sticker since it was her fourth birthday. Here’s a look at the inside.

Elephant Birthday Card_inside

For the card from me and Chris I just kept it simple and girly with some patchwork papers and a pretty sticker tag. I love that little caterpillar crawling across the top of the card :)

Girly Birthday Card  Girly Birthday Card_details

And here’s the inside of that one – felt birthday shapes and some cute little stickers including a little To and From tag.

Girly Birthday Card_inside 

We all had a great time celebrating with Lauren (and a bunch of her rambunctious 4 year old friends!) at her butterfly themed birthday. Can’t believe she’s 4 when it seems like just yesterday I was driving to see her in hospital on the day she was born. Looking forward to another great year with one of my favourite people in the world :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

By the Batch – Cookies & Cream Cookies

Well we’re a week into November and I find myself at a bit of a loss. Halloween is over and it’s really too early to pull out Christmas decorations. Americans are gearing up for Thanksgiving but that’s long over here in Canada. So with no holidays to decorate or prepare for, what’s a girl to do? Bake! And that’s just what I’ve been doing. I’ve actually started selling my cookies locally and am really pleased at the response I’ve received so far. For more information visit my Facebook page. In the meantime, here’s my take on a crazy good recipe for Cookies & Cream Cookies I found on Cookies & Cups.

Cookies & Cream Cookies


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cookies & cream chocolate (I bought mine in large pieces at the Bulk Barn)


Preheat to 350. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Beat in eggs and vanilla. On low, slowly beat in cocoa powder until well incorporated. On low, mix in your remaining dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). Fold in both kinds of chocolate until evenly incorporated. Drop by large tablespoonful on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for approx 12 minutes or until edges are set. When done baking let cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling.

According to Sarah

Seriously so good! The cookies & cream chocolate doesn’t come cheap so these are definitely not a cookie I’d have in the house all the time but for a special treat or for the holidays these are sure to please!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Guest Post - Cheese Ravioli with Garlic, Mushroom and Rosemary Sauce

Well it’s the weekend again. Halloween has come and gone. I suppose my American readers are gearing up for Thanksgiving but as we Canadians celebrated at the beginning of October I’m ready to skip right to Christmas! I’ve been crafting up a storm for a craft show I’ll be at on November 24 – more details to come for you local readers. But first, here’s another yummy recipe from One Hungry Dude. I really liked this pasta and loved how fast he was able to get it on the table ;)

A few weeks ago, I saw Michael Symon create a ravioli recipe on The Chew, and was inspired to make this dish. It's incredibly filling, and one of the most delicious pastas I've cooked in awhile. I've made a few slight amendments to the original recipe, since I was trying to use up existing items in our pantry. But either way, this dish is simple and quick — from start to finish, the recipe took about 30 minutes to prepare.

Cheese Ravioli with Mushrooms
• 1 Package of frozen Cheese Ravioli
• 4 Tbsp Butter or Margarine
• 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 2 Cups Button Mushrooms, sliced
• 1 Tsp Dried Rosemary
• 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• 2 Cloves Garlic, diced
• 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat a saute pan over medium-high, then add the olive oil and 2 tbsp of the butter. Once hot, add the mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Drop the ravioli into the water, and stir with a wooden spoon.

Add the garlic into the pan, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic cooks through and becomes fragrant. Cook the ravioli one minute shorter than the packaged instructions, then drain, reserving the pasta water. Put the ravioli, about 1/3 Cup of the water, and the remaining butter in the pan. Add the Parmesan and toss the pasta until the sauce becomes creamy and emulsified. Serve immediately.

This recipe yields about six servings.

— Recipe inspired by The Chew

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween! Salty, Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

It’s here! Happy Halloween everyone! The weather here isn’t exactly ideal but we’re still hoping for a good turn out of trick or treaters this evening. Otherwise we’re going to have an awful lot of candy to eat! Here’s a peek at my little trick or treater – his no sew costume was inspired by the unicorn costume here.

No Sew Horse Costume

If you’re leaving your pumpkin carving for today then you’re going to love this recipe from One Hungry Dude for awesome pumpkin seeds. Have fun tonight, everyone!

Pumpkin seeds are a favourite treat for me, around this time of the year. Since Sarah enjoys carving at least one pumpkin for Halloween, there's always a big batch of leftover seeds to work with. Try this simple recipe, and you'll be rewarded with a tasty and healthy snacking option, while your kids are taking advantage of their Halloween spoils.

Salt Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
• Seeds from one Pumpkin
• Olive Oil
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• Juice from about 1/4 of a Lemon

Place a cookie sheet in the oven, and preheat to 375 F. Once the oven is hot, take the sheet out. Spread the seeds on the sheet in a single layer. Lightly drizzle the olive oil over the seeds, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Squeeze or drizzle the lemon juice over the seeds, then place them in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the seeds begin to lightly brown around the edges. Pull the sheet out of the oven, place the seeds in a bowl, and serve.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Vase from a Salsa Jar

I have to admit that I have more than enough Halloween decorations. I believe I told Chris about a month ago that my collection was verging on “ridiculous”. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to make some more this year. The catch was that I wasn’t going to spend any money so I had to use only things that were already in my stash. So far I’ve showed you Luminaries, Painted Pots and Painted Pumpkins. Today I’m showing you a painted vase I made from an empty salsa jar.

Painted Halloween Vase

This one was really simple. I just used a sponge brush to apply silver craft pain to the outside of the jar. I painted lightly so you can almost see through the paint and it has the great textured lines. Once it was dry I mod podged on some Halloween shapes and then tied on a big black and white bow.

Painted Halloween Vase - details

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Painted Pumpkins

I’ve gone paint and glitter crazy this Halloween – it seems nothing can escape my sponge brush. That includes these mini pumpkins that I decided needed a bit of dressing up.

Painted Pumpkins

If orange and white aren’t your style a little bit of paint can go a long way towards transforming your pumpkins and Halloween display. I started by making a glittery pumpkin using the leftover mixture from my Halloween Luminaries and Painted Pots. I used a sponge brush to paint on the mod podge and glitter mixture and then just let it dry.

Painted Pumpkin - Glitter

Next up I used a sponge brush to lightly add some black paint to this orange pumpkin. I wanted the orange to show through and I liked the texture the sponge brush made. I dabbed a little silver on to the top of the pumpkin for extra dimension.

Painted Pumpkin - Orange

Lastly, I painted this white pumpkin a bright blue but decided it didn’t really fit in with any of my other Halloween decor. The fix was to sponge some silver paint on, leaving just a bit of the blue peeking through. I like that it looks sort of weathered and antique.

Painted Pumpkin - Silver

All told it took me about 15 minutes to paint these little guys. I was using real pumpkins so I didn’t worry about what would work and what wouldn’t since they’re just going to be thrown out in a week or so anyway and it was fun to just be creative. I’m tempted to paint our full size pumpkin after it’s carved!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Post – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Wow, it’s Monday already! One Hungry Dude and I had a busy weekend with lots of running around so I’m a little late posting his recipe. But don’t worry, you’ll forgive me once you read it. And you’ll really forgive me once you try it because it is darn good!

When the weather begins to get cooler, I love moving cooking indoors. After a summer of barbecuing, it's nice to regularly turn on the oven and stovetop burners, and revive recipes that have been stored away for months. This recipe is based on a soup that I made during a cooking competition last year. It's got plenty of harvest and fall flavours, with a slightly sweet touch.

Butternut Squash Soup
• 1 Large Butternut Squash, peeled, seeds discarded
• 1 Yellow Onion, peeled
• 1 Green Apple, cored
• 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled
• 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
• 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
• 1 Tsp Thyme
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• 3 to 4 Cups Vegetable Broth, warmed
• Cream and Parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Cut the squash, onion and apple into one-inch cubes. In a single layer, place the squash, onion, apple and garlic in a large baking pan or casserole dish, and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle the brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper over top. Place in the oven, and cook for about 40 to 45 minutes, until tender.

Remove from the oven. Place the mixture in a large pot, add about half of the broth, and puree until smooth using an immersion blender. Add more of the broth, until the mixture becomes a thick soup. Bring the soup to a simmer, and add more salt, pepper or broth, if needed.

Serve in bowls, topping the soup with a touch of cream and a sprinkle of parsley.

* This soup can be served immediately after it is brought to a simmer, if time is a constraint. But I prefer to let it simmer for about an hour or so, to let the flavours meld together.

— This recipe yields about six servings