Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Time is Running Out in the Photography Giveaway!

Don’t miss your chance to enter to win four 5x7 fine art photography prints courtesy of Marianne LoMonaco. Marianne can turn any of the prints in her Etsy shop into a 5x7 so you have dozens of gorgeous prints to choose from!

Marianne LoMonaco  Marianne LoMonaco 2Marianne LoMonaco 2 (2) Marianne LoMonaco 2 (1)

The contest ends soon and entering is incredibly easy so click over to the original post and enter today!

Monday, July 30, 2012

By the Batch – Peach Cobbler

Recently we were given a bunch of peaches and I needed to come up with a way to use them. I’m not really much for fruit (I know, it’s weird – I’m told that fruit is delicious) but Chris loves fruity desserts so I thought I’d try my hand at cobbler. This recipe from Sing For Your Supper was intriguing because it calls for a biscuit topping instead of the traditional pie crust topping I’m used to so I thought I’d give it a try. And you know, it was so good that even I loved it!

Peach Cobbler


4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
squirt fresh lemon juice

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup boiling water

For Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture:
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the sliced peaches in a large pot and add just enough water to cover. Stir in the 1 cup sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until peaches are soft and most of the water has cooked down; about 20 minutes. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and reserve 1/2 cup juice. Place peaches and reserved juice in a greased 9×9 baking dish.

To make the topping: In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until texture resembles oatmeal or small peas. Stir in water until just combined.

Drop spoonfuls of topping over the peaches and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes. Serves 6.

According to Sarah

I didn’t even think I was going to try this dessert but the peaches smelled so good while they were cooking that I thought I’d taste it just in case and it was delicious! Best eaten fresh from the oven, the biscuit crust was crisp on top but soft and buttery underneath. The peaches cooked down with just the sugar and lemon juice were sweet and fresh tasting.

One word of caution, I thought this recipe looked quite simple but it actually took me almost two hours to make. Nothing was too complicated but there were a lot of steps when you factor in preparing the peaches. Blanching them for 60 seconds made taking the skins off much easier but it was still a time consuming process to peel and slice 6 peaches. Though that’s not to say it wasn’t worth the effort!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway! We’re giving away four 5x7 prints of your choice courtesy of Marianne LoMonaco. Only a couple of days left to enter!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guest Post – Great Garlic Bread

Hope you weekend is off to a great start! If you’re meal planning for the next couple of days consider including some garlic bread courtesy of One Hungry Dude. And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for four 5x7 prints before it’s too late! Happy Saturday!

There's really no 'absolute' way to make garlic bread. I've ordered the classic appetizer at countless restaurants, and whether topped with gooey blends of cheese, sprinkled with diced tomatoes and green onions, or simply placed aside an entree using crusty wedges of bread, there are so many delicious renditions. I've been tinkering with this recipe for quite awhile. It can be put together in less than 10 minutes, and can be modified to suite your taste buds. Give it a try, then explore!

• 3 Tbsp Margarine
• 1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
• Italian Blend seasoning
• 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, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a large frying pan on the stovetop, 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.

For a treat, try sprinkling Mozzarella, Cheddar, Parmesan — or any combination of those cheeses — on top of the bread, just before placing it in the oven. In that variation, once the cheese begins to bubble and brown, remove the bread from the oven and serve.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

DIY Shadowbox Art from Baby Cards

Before Nathan was born my friends and family spoiled the both of us at an awesome baby shower. There was food, presents and, of course, a lot of cards . Then after Nathan’s birth we were spoiled again with more presents and even more cards. I’m a sentimental girl so I saved all the cards but I knew that it probably wouldn’t be too often that I’d take them out of the box and reread them - there had to be some other way of preserving them. I was so excited when I saw this idea and I used it as a jumping off point to create my very own shadowbox art to display the cards.

Baby Card Shadowbox 

I started by using my trusty heart punch (seriously that thing gets a lot of use!) to cut hearts out of each of the cards. I tried to mix it up so that I had patterns, pictures and some words too. The size of the punch meant I ended up with only pieces of pictures which lent the whole thing a neat collage feel. The next step was to line all the hearts up and glue them to a piece of scrapbook paper. Because I’m really bad at math I went with paper that had  a lined pattern and that helped me place the hearts without having to do any measurements.

Baby Card Shadowbox - Details

Once I decided to put the whole thing in a shadowbox I knew I needed some elements with dimension. I used some pieces from the Lime Twist collection from My Mind’s Eye like this diecut train and made them stand out by cutting up a Styrofoam cup, gluing together the pieces and then attaching them to the backs of my elements. There’s probably a better way of doing this but I went digging through my craft supplies and came up with a Styrofoam cup! The flag in the train window is just a sticker and a toothpick.

Baby Card Shadowbox - Train 

In the top corner I used stickers and more Styrofoam cup – I wrote Nathan’s birthday on the “Date” sticker and his name on the “Property Of” one. I also included a cute little cat safety pin that my Mom had attached to one of her gifts for Nathan.

Baby Card Shadowbox - Cluster

Once it was complete I just popped the whole thing into a shadowbox and it was done. I love the way this turned out – it’s so personal and it reminds me how many people care about us. As Nathan gets older we can talk about how each heart in the frame represents someone who loves him!


P.S. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway! We’re giving away four 5x7 prints of your choice courtesy of Marianne LoMonaco. You only have a week to enter so do it today!

P.P.S. Linking up with


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It’s Giveaway Time!

Those of you who “like” Sugar and Shimmer on Facebook will know that recently the page reached 100 fans which I decided was cause for a giveaway. For those of you don’t like Sugar and Shimmer on Facebook – what are you waiting for?!

For this giveaway I wanted to partner with a local artist to offer you a really great prize. The lovely Marianne LoMonaco, based out of Barrie, Ontario, fit the bill perfectly. Marianne’s original fine art photography is absolutely beautiful and covers a variety of subjects including still life, nature and food. I’m in love with her kitchen art!

Here of some of my favourite prints from Marianne’s Etsy shop.

So what’s up for grabs? Marianne has generously donated four 5x7 prints of your choice! That’s up to a $60 value! You know you want to win so here’s what you need to do:

  1. Visit Marianne’s Etsy shop then come back here and leave a comment telling me which 4 prints you’d like to win. Marianne can make any of her prints into a 5x7 so just choose your favourites! (MANDATORY ENTRY
  2. Like Sugar and Shimmer on Facebook 
  3. Favourite Marianne’s Etsy Shop
  4. Like our intrepid weekly cooking guest poster One Hungry Dude on Facebook 
  5. Share the giveaway on Facebook 
  6. Tweet about the giveaway 
Use the handy dandy Rafflecopter widget below to let me know which of the activities you’ve completed. You must leave a comment with your list of prints but the rest of the entries are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest is open to anyone, anywhere in the world and it closes on Thursday, August 2 at 12:01 AM EST so be sure to get your entries in. Good luck and thank you for being a reader!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Guest Post – Broken Lasagna with Zucchini- Tomato Sauce

Last week, in the middle of yet another heatwave and with a with a fussy baby by my side, I took an impromptu break from the blog. Now it’s time to get back into the swing of things with another recipe from One Hungry Dude. He made this delicious dish for us last night for dinner and I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tonight!

Whenever I'm in the grocery store, I always keep my eye out for the latest Food Network Magazine. The magazine's timely, season-appropriate recipes always manage to inspire. It has a variety of recipes in every edition, and really does a good job of presenting both easy and more complex meal ideas, along with tasty desserts, simple drinks and chef secrets. This recipe was inspired by the dish on the cover of the magazine's July/August 2012 edition. It has a fresh taste, and is incredibly delicious — perfect for summer!

Broken Lasagna
• 2 Large Zucchini, coarsely grated
• 12 ounces Lasagna noodles, broken into bite-size pieces
• 3 Tbsp Margarine
• 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
• One small Onion, quartered and thinly sliced
• 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, halved
• 1/2 Tsp finely grated Lemon zest
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
• A pinch of Parsley, for topping

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, toss the zucchini with 1/2 tsp of salt in a colander, set over a large bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes, then gently squeeze out the excess moisture. Add the pasta to the boiling water, stirring vigorously to prevent from sticking. Cook until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Reserve 1/2 Cup of the cooking water, then drain pasta.

Heat the margarine in a large frying pan, over medium-high. Add the garlic, onions, salt and pepper, and cook until the onions begin to soften and caramelize, about five to six minutes. Add the tomatoes, and cook until blistering and softened, about four minutes. Stir in the zucchini and lemon zest and cook, slightly crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, until the zucchini becomes crisp-tender, about four minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the zucchini-tomato mixture to a large bowl. Add the pasta and cheese and toss. Stir in about 1/4 cup of the cooking water, adding more to loosen, if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls, and top with more cheese and the parsley.

This recipe serves four people.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Guest Post - Crispy Barbecued Chicken Breasts

It’s the weekend and it’s a beautiful day out there! If you’re planning to do some grilling over the next couple of days be sure to check out this recipe from One Hungry Dude!

My father-in-law introduced me and Sarah to Traeger brand barbecues about two years ago, when he gave us one for Christmas. We love it, because the barbecue is wood pellet fired, and uses indirect heat to cook food like a convection oven. It's also great for smoking. But for this recipe, the Traeger is actually perfect for cooking a chicken breast that ends up tasting like a hybrid of roasting and barbecuing techniques. Since a majority of people still use gas or charcoal grills, I've adapted the recipe to suit all barbecues.

Crispy Barbecued Chicken Breast
For the Chicken
• 2 Tbsp Flour
• 2 Tbp Sugar
• 1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
• 2 Tsp Black Pepper
• 1 Tsp Salt
• Six Chicken Breasts, Bone-In and Skin Left On
Rustic Barbecue Sauce

Bring the barbecue to high heat. While the barbeque is warming up, combine the flour, sugar, thyme, pepper and salt in a small bowl, whisking until thoroughly mixed. Dredge each chicken breast in the mixture. Place each breast on the barbecue, bone side up, over indirect heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, until some clear grill marks have formed on the skin, then flip. Cook for another 20 minutes, then add a coating of my Rustic Barbecue Sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes, then remove from the barbecue and serve.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Clothespin Wreath

Recently while hunting through the crafting supplies clearance at Walmart (seriously, I find the best stuff there!) I came across the Berry Sweet paper pad from K&Company. With all its pretty and bright summer colours I just couldn’t pass it up and, having recently seen a clothespin wreath on Pinterest I knew exactly what I’d use it for. Our front door was still sporting my Spring Wreath and it is now decidedly summer so I got to work and created my own Clothespin Wreath.

Sugar and Shimmer - Clothespin Wreath

While a bit time consuming, this project was actually pretty easy. All you really need is a wreath form (I used a metal one that I happened to have in my stash but you could just as easily cut a circle from a cardboard box), clothespins, paper and mod podge. The ribbon for hanging and the letters strung in the centre of my wreath are completely optional.

I started by cutting my paper into little strips the same size as the fronts of my clothespins and then using mod podge to both glue the paper on and then weatherproof it. I used 10 different papers and decoupaged 100 clothespins. All told it took about 2 hours but I did it while watching tv so it didn’t seem too bad.

Clothespin Wreath 3 

Once the mod podge was dry – I left it overnight - I started clipping my clothespins onto my wreath form. I just repeated the same pattern 9 times around the wreath and ended up using 90 clothespins for my 18 inch wreath. I used my Silhouette to cut scalloped circles and letters to spell out “Welcome Summer”. Then I used mod podge to attach the letters to the circles and strung everything on some baker’s twine. The last step was tying some pink ribbon on to the top of the form and the wreath was ready to hang!

Clothespin Wreath 2

I ended up with 10 leftover clothespins and decided to put them to use as well. Those of you who follow Sugar and Shimmer on Facebook will have already seen that I turned them into handy dandy fridge magnets. I hot glued magnets to the back and then glued stickers on to the front.

Clothespin Magnets Clothespin Magnets 2

I love how welcoming the wreath looks on our front door – it makes me smile every time I pull in the driveway!


P.S. Linking up to:

Someday Crafts

Free Pretty Things for You

Tatertots & Jello

Monday, July 9, 2012

By the Batch – No Bake Cookie Dough Bites

Last week I wrote about how hot it’s been here and how no bake desserts like Chocolate & Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars are the way to go when you don’t want to turn the oven on. Today I’ve got another great no bake treat, Cookie Dough Bites from Disney Family.com. The best part about this recipe? None of the 5 ingredients (count ‘em, just 5!) is raw eggs so there’s no need to worry that these are unsafe.

No Bake Cookie Dough Bites


1 cup salted butter, softened
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup miniature chocolate chips


Cream butter and sugar together. Add remaining ingredients and mix well -- use your hands to get it together the best. Roll into 1-inch balls.

Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Dip in chocolate, drizzle with chocolate or eat as is. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

Super simple and so good! I didn’t have miniature chocolate chips so I used full size. There’s nothing wrong with the full size ones but the balls are a little harder to make stick together so next time I’ll use miniature or smash up some regular ones and save myself a trip to the grocery store. Just one word of caution – these things are addictive!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Guest Post – Steak & Mushroom Sandwich with Au Jus

Today One Hungry Dude is sharing another of his sandwich recipes. Enjoy!

I love a good quality, hearty cut of beef. But I also enjoy changing up the way I eat that meat, and I often discover ways to seriously enhance the flavour as a result. This recipe calls for a few ingredients, and several steps, but it's not a particularly complicated process. And the results are certainly worth the effort for steak sandwich lovers.


For the Steak and Au Jus
• 1 Steak, New York strip loin or another good cut
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• Four Mushrooms, chopped
• 2 Tbsp Red Wine
• 1/4 Cup Vegetable or Beef Stock
• 1/4 Can Diced Tomatoes
• 1/2 Onion, cut in half
• 1/2 Carrot, cut in half
• 2 Garlic cloves
• 1 Tsp Thyme
• 2 Bay Leaves
• Splash of Lemon Juice
• Splash of Worcestershire Sauce
• Knob of Butter

For the Sandwich
• Eight slices of bread
• Butter or Margarine
• About a cup of Mozzarella cheese, grated

Pre-heat a medium-sized frying pan to medium-high. Sprinkle the top of the steak with salt and pepper, then add to the pan. Place a pot lid on top of the steak, to keep it flat, and generate heat on both sides. Flip once after about four to five minutes, then add the mushrooms into the pan. Cook for another four to five minutes, stirring the mushrooms frequently, to ensure they don't stick to the pan. Remove the steak and mushrooms from the pan, and set them aside.

Deglaze the pan with red wine, and let cook down for two to three minutes, then add the stock, tomatoes, onion, carrot, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, lemon juice, Worcestershire. salt and pepper. Reduce the temperature by about half, then cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and using a potato masher or spoon to press down on the vegetables and ensure the most amount of flavour is extracted.

While the au jus is cooking, prepare the bread by buttering one side of each slice. Take half of the slices, and place them buttered side down on a griddle or large frying pan. Cut the steak into thin slices, and place about three to five pieces on top of the bread. Place a dollop of mushrooms on top of the steak slices, then add a handful of mozzarella to each sandwich. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and cover with the remaining bread slices.

Strain the au jus into a small sauce pot. Place the pot over low heat, then add a knob of butter to the au jus. Heat the griddle over medium-high, flipping once when the bread becomes golden brown. Once the other side reaches the same colouring, remove the sandwiches from the heat. Let sit for two to three minutes, then slice in half and serve with the au jus as a dipping sauce.

This recipe yields four sandwiches.

Friday, July 6, 2012

By the Batch - No Bake Chocolate & Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

The heat wave continues here in Ontario – with temps feeling like 44 with the humidex it is officially HOT! If you’re like me then the last thing you want to do in heat like this is turn your oven on. But that doesn’t mean that you need to deny your sweet tooth. Nope, in summer time I turn to no bake baking like these delicious No Bake Chocolate & Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars I saw on Gingerbread Bagels.

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars 


3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter


In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add in the brown sugar and vanilla extract. Mix to combine. Add in the quick cooking oats and stir. Cook the oat mixture over medium low heat for 4 minutes.

While the oat mixture is cooking, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl. Then set aside.

Lightly grease an 8 by 8 inch baking pan. Press 3/4 of the oat mixture in the bottom of the pan. Pour the melted chocolate and peanut butter over the oats.

Take the remaining oat mixture and crumble it over the chocolate/peanut butter. Refrigerate the bars for at least 3 hours. Then cut into squares and serve.

These bars came together really easily and with few ingredients and they’re sweet without being too sweet. I did find that a lot of my oat mixture crumbled off into the pan when I was lifting my squares out. This may have been because I cheated and took the bars out of the fridge after only 90 minutes but I think next time I would cut back on the amount of oats used – Chris said he thought the bars were “too oat-y”. The one good thing about all those lost oats though is that they taste great mixed into yogurt!

So the next time your sweet tooth needs silencing give these bars a try or search through Pinterest for a million other no bake recipes. Next week I’ll be sharing delicious No Bake Cookie Dough Bites!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

DIY Collage Art for Kids

If you’re a regular reader then you probably already know I’m a scrapbook paper addict. I have way more paper than I’ll probably ever be able to use so when I come across a project that calls for a collection of pretty paper, I’m on it! This elephant collage is based on a template from Martha Stewart (there’s also an owl and a bulldog) and this project could not be easier to make!

Elephant Collage

Once I had downloaded the template and knew how many pieces I’d need I chose a collection of matching papers from Suzy Ultman’s Lion Sleeps collection (sadly, I don’t think they make this anymore but I still see the pads in the clearance aisle at Walmart so you could try there if you like the patterns pictured). Then I cut out each of the template pieces, traced them onto my patterned paper and cut out all my final shapes.

Elephant Collage Close

I changed up Martha’s project a bit. Instead of mod podging my elephant on an 8x8 wooden art board, I glued mine on to an 8x10 piece of paper so I could frame it. The only alteration to the template required is extending the two ground pieces so that each one is 5 inches long.

This project literally came together in about half an hour so, when I was finished with this pink version, I made a blue one for Nathan. It’s already in its frame.

Elephant Collage - Boy 

I love how this simple little project will have big impact hanging on the wall in a child’s room and I think these collages would make great gifts!


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