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