Saturday, 14 December 2013
Sunday, 1 December 2013
Or I may resort to old wives methods.
Saturday, 30 November 2013
Classic Blueberry Muffins adapted from here
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries
- Preheat oven to 375°. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
- Whisk butter, eggs and milk in a bowl. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients; fold in blueberries.
- Divide batter evenly among muffin cups; sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp sugar.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Sunday, 24 November 2013
Anyway, lately I've been going crazy for Nutella. CRAZY. It's not the healthiest thing out there but I figure if you throw it on some whole grain bread and add some fruit it can't be that bad right? I've been eating this for breakfast or for a snack whenever I feel like something sweet. It tastes just as good with strawberries on it too, or on a waffle instead of toast. Yum.
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
So I'm about halfway through this baby growing process and thought I'd share what we've found so far in terms of how much it's costing us. When we started planning for this baby we heard countless people tell us the typical "GAH BABIES ARE SO EXPENSIVE ARE YOU CRAZY?!" thing. Many (well meaning) people thought because we are relatively young and really just starting out in our careers that this would be a bad idea. Anyway I won't get into that too much because, well, here I am pregnant! Dave and I knew going into this that we wanted to try to keep expenses down as much as possible and go for the whole "minimalist baby" thing, which means different things to different people. To us it means buying only the basics and trying really heard not to accumulate too much baby stuff, especially since we live in such a small space. We want the focus to be more on the experiences we can provide our baby rather than the "things".
What We've Dished Money Out For (so far)
I know a lot of people get really into prenatal fitness classes and all-organic eating when they're pregnant, but let's be honest, that adds up and is easier said than done. I had been doing hot yoga before getting pregnant and had initially thought I would continue with a prenatal yoga class, but holy smokes they're expensive! I'm talking $15-20 a class expensive! My job keeps me pretty active during the day so instead I've been focusing on going for longer daily walks with Dave and Gus with some stretching/yoga poses at home. Bonus: it's free!
With food cravings have come many more dinners out recently, but we've worked this cost into our personal spending budget so it doesn't come out of the bank. We've cut down on meat just because it's more expensive and have instead used that money to buy more fruits and vegetables (organic when we can).
The only thing I feel like I've had to buy so far is some maternity clothes (ugh, what an ugly term right?). I'm not gonna lie, I thought I'd be one of those people who would just find ways to wear what I already had in my closet for the whole pregnancy. HA! I realized after month 3 that that was not going to happen. Maternity clothes can be pricey, but if you buy them second hand you can save so much. A friend at work told me about looking on Kijiji and I scored about 12 tops and a pair of pants (all from H&M maternity and super cute) for $50. I also had to buy some new er, undergarments, as things there are expanding at an alarming rate.
Preparation Classes etc.
In terms of prenatal classes, we lucked out as our Midwife Centre provides a program in conjunction with our midwife appointments, and it's all covered! Score! Other than some prenatal vitamins (which you can get a free prescription for at Sobey's ) that's all I've had to dish out above and beyond our regular expenses.
I know down the line we'll have to spend more money on this baby, but for now we're trying to set up some good budget habits so when the baby does finally show up, it won't put too much of a financial strain on us.
What do you think, do we sound like naive first-time parents? Or can a baby on a budget really work?
Saturday, 16 November 2013
- Gus's favourite sleeping place right now
- We're practicing this baby thing with our friend's adorable baby
- Did a bake sale this past weekend to make some extra money for Christmas gifts
- My mum's pottery sale
- Attempting to organize craft materials
I've been a bit under the weather this past week with a terrible cold/flu hybrid thing. Which is even more annoying when you're pregnant because you can't take anything for it. Nothing! My midwife said to inhale some hot steam. What?! That's it?! So I spent the week sleeping, attempting to craft while in bed, and craving a whole lot of Nyquil.
In other news, Dave and I found a new apartment! Yay! All I really need to say is that it has 2 bedrooms and a huge jacuzzi bathtub. It's awesome, and in a nicer building (it's a duplex) and in a nicer area of town. So we are deep in the throes of packing as we get the place in about a month.
Also, we find out if we're having a boy or girl in less than 2 weeks, so be prepared for an onslaught of baby crafts soon ;)
Have a happy weekend!
Tuesday, 15 October 2013
- baby arugula
- pine nuts or any nuts you have on hand (You can get pine nuts in the baking aisle at Freshco for $4.99)
- balsamic vinegar
- fresh cracked pepper
- Dump your arugula into a serving bowl
- Lightly toast the nuts in a frying pan until slightly browned (I constantly forget about mine and burn them, don't forget about them!) set aside to cool
- Shave some parm over the greens, top with cooled nuts, sprinkle on some pepper, and drizzle about 2-4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar over it. Toss and serve
This salad always looks a bit dry, likes it needs more dressing, but make sure you taste it first before adding more vinegar, as balsamic has a very strong taste.
Monday, 14 October 2013
- several heads of garlic (I usually do 5 or 6 at a time)
- olive oil (I just use the cheap stuff for this)
- salt & pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400
- Take your heads of garlic and slice off the top part, like your giving it a little bit of a haircut. You just want to expose the tops of all of the garlic cloves inside.
- Place each clove in a piece of tinfoil and mold the foil around the bottom. Drizzle the top of the head with about a tablespoon of olive oil (it should kind of seep in between the cloves). Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top
- Now totally wrap the garlic with the tinfoil so the oil won't leak out
- Place the individual garlics in a muffin tin and put in the oven to bake for about 30-40 minutes. You'll know when they're done when your kitchen smells amazing and when you peel back the tinfoil the cloves are browned and soft.
When the cloves are cooled, I like to squeeze them out of their papery shells and put them in a little jar and cover with olive oil. Roasted garlic tastes amazing spread on grilled bread, in pasta, on baked potatoes, and is great to bring along with you camping. There are really endless ways to use it, and it's so cheap! I think I got my last pack of 5 garlic for about $1.50.
I highly recommend you give this baby a try, enjoy!
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
So I had this dilemma tonight. I was dying for pasta but currently can't stomach tomato sauces. *shudder* There's something about really tomato-y smells that makes me sick. Hopefully this passes because 90% of my go to pasta recipes are tomato based. Anyway what I'm getting at is that I made this really easy pasta that didn't involve tomatoes and it was totally awesome. And pictures don't do it justice, so I just took photos of the ingredients.
Super Simple Pasta
- spaghetti noodles
- 4 heads of roasted garlic (recipe to come!)
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- salt & pepper
- olive oil
- chopped parsley (or arugula)
- Cook your spaghetti noodles in salted water. Before you drain the pasta though, use a mug to scoop out some of the pasta water and set aside.
- Add the pasta back to the (now empty) pot. Drizzle some olive oil and about half a cup of the reserved pasta water and toss the noodles. Then add in your lemon zest, lemon juice, roasted garlic cloves, cheese, and pepper. Use some tongs to really mix it up, you want the garlic evenly distributed, not in chunks, so mix mix mix.
- Garnish with parsley and more parm. You can never have enough cheese.
Friday, 4 October 2013
Brown Butter & Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies slightly adapted from here
I still can't believe I'm sharing this...
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt (I've used vanilla yogurt before and didn't notice a difference)
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
- Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
1) Mix together dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and set aside.
2) Now you're gonna make some brown butter. This is what makes the cookie. But it can get a bit dicey if you don't watch it, so read this first. Once you've browned the butter, set it aside for a few minutes to cool.
3) Mix sugars and butter, then add eggs, vanilla, and yogurt. Then slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until it just comes together. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
4) Chill the dough for 2 hours in the fridge. Kinda a pain, but you can snack on cookie dough while you wait.
5) Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out your dough into big or small balls and then squish them slightly on a greased cookie sheet. I personally like big cookies so I use about a 1/4 cup of dough per cookie. Whoa, that now seems like a lot when I write it down. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on top of each cookie and press down into the dough. You could always skip this if you don't like the salt on baked good craze.
6) For big cookies bake for about 9 minutes, for small cookies bake them for about 6-7 minutes. Take them out and let cool.
Tips for cookies (aka things my mum taught me)
- use the paddle attachment if you have it, there's less of a chance you'll over mix the dough with it.
- always under-bake your cookies by a minute or so. When they come out of the oven they should be lightly browned on the edges but would break apart if you tried to pick them up. Just leave them on the pan for a few minutes before you transfer them to a cooling rack, they'll continue to bake a bit. This way you'll have soft-ish cookies once they've cooled.
These cookies (or rather brown butter) will change your life. Enjoy!
Thursday, 3 October 2013
Anyway I could talk forever about my year there but let's get to the nachos! Now these probably aren't the exact same ones the Tapas Bar made but I distinctly remember olives, feta, peppers and tomatoes. I also remember that they were only ever served with sour cream. Which is weird right?
- nacho chips
- sharp cheddar, shredded
- sliced green olives
- diced red peppers
- diced tomato
Come on guys, they're nachos. Fool proof!
I chopped up some avocado, onion and added garlic salt, pepper, lime and hot sauce as a side along with salsa my brother and mum made. But you can use whatever you want for dipping. Also, side note: you know what's really good on nachos? Arugula. After they're cooked, toss some arugula on top and it's awesome, just trust me.
Sunday, 8 September 2013
Anyway I'll have the completed project ready for you guys sometime in March (eek!) but in the meantime please bare with me as I go crazy with baby crafts and weird food obsessions I'm having.
Wednesday, 21 August 2013
Lucy Knisely's Mushrooms
- different kinds of mushrooms (whole or sliced)
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- thyme (optional)
1) Get your pan nice and hot, add a pat of butter and a good glug of oil to the pan. Add your mushrooms and give them a stir. They will soak up all of the oil but don't add more! Leave them until they start to squeak. They'll start to release their juices soon.
2) Once they start to brown, shake the pan and continue to cook them until they're fragrant and browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and maybe some thyme if you're feeling fancy.
These are ridiculously good. I went out just to buy mushrooms today I wanted them again so bad.
Saturday, 17 August 2013
- Gus in trouble
- every 10-year-old girls dream car
- one of the many neighbourhood watch cats
- making blueberry sauce
- playing with leaves
- picnic treats
Lately we've been spending a lot of time outside going for walks, tossing a football around, and having afternoon picnics. I actually said to my mum "it's a perfect day to play outside today!" without even thinking lol. The summer has turned me into bruised-knees-paint-on-my-chin kid again.
Monday, 12 August 2013
Sticky Chicken & Asian Watermelon Salad slightly adapted from here
- 6 chicken thighs
- 2 cups cooked vermicelli rice noodles (you can use any skinny noodles really)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 4 tbsp Chinese 5 spice
- 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
- 4 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 cups chopped watermelon
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro and mint
- 4 small radishes chunked
- 4 large romaine leafs chopped
- 2 green onions
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- thumbsize piece of ginger
- clove of garlic peeled
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (find it in the Asian section)
- 1/2 small red chili
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- juice of 2 limes
- Make the salad dressing first. Just throw all the ingredients for it into the blender and, well, blend it.
- Lay your chicken on a plate and sprinkle the 5 spice on both sides of the chicken. Heat up some olive oil on medium heat in a pan and put the chicken in there, flipping them every few minutes or so.
- In another pan heat up the sesame oil. Once it's hot, throw in half of the rice noodles and fry them up until they're nice and crispy. Set aside.
- Once the chicken is almost cooked all the way through, pour the sweet chili sauce over it and give it a good stir, making sure everything gets nice and coated. Then sprinkle your sesame seeds over it. Once the chicken is cooked and the sauce has gotten all sticky pour it on a serving plate.
- Make the salad by combing the cooked rice noodles, lettuce, watermelon, cilantro, mint, and radishes. Top it with the crunchy noodles and pour over the dressing.
You can probably tell from the photo quality that I couldn't wait very long to eat this.
Saturday, 10 August 2013
I made a batch of these the other day for my friend who recently had a baby (and now has much more important things to do than spend an entire afternoon cooking meatballs). This is one of my favourite one pot meals to make and keep in the freezer. Pull it out, heat it up and pour it over some rice or quinoa and you've got an amazing dinner! Again, this is from my well loved Nigella Express book, which, surprise surprise, I happened to find at a thrift store for $4. Score!
Mellow Curry Meatballs adapted from Nigella Lawson
- 3 big tablespoons red curry paste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- box of frozen meatballs
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 big can diced tomatoes
- 1 can chickpeas (drained)
- 1 sweet potato chopped
- 4 small carrots chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ cup cilantro (finely chopped)
- Heat the red curry paste and vegetable oil in a large pot; when it starts sizzling, add the meatballs, and coat them in the oil mixture.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon and ginger over the meatballs and fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add the coconut milk, diced tomatoes and drained chickpeas. Stir in the sweet potato, and carrots, then the stock and honey.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes until vegetables are soft and sauce has thickened slightly. Toss some cilantro on that baby.
- Either eat over some rice and quinoa or let it cool, and freeze it for another day.
Trust me, you will definitely thank your past self for making this.
Thursday, 8 August 2013
Today I had a crazy desire to cook and bake. All day. Luckily my parents are out of town so I took over their rather large kitchen. I made 2 quiches, a batch of mellow meatballs for my friend (recipe to come!), 4 mason jars of vanilla rice pudding and these babies. I'M A MACHINE! Anyway these cookies were the easiest thing I made and were probably my favourite. They're a little more dense than a regular cookie, almost like a brownie. But that's always a plus in my book.
Chocolate Mint Cookies (from Nigella)
- ½ cup soft butter
- ¾ cup soft light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips ( I used white chocolate)
for the glaze
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (sieved)
- 2 tablespoons boiling water*
- ¼ teaspoon peppermint essence
1) Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar together, then add egg and vanilla and beat together.
2) Mix the dry ingredients together and then add to the wet, mix to combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
3) Scoop cookie dough (as big or small as you like) on to a parchment paper-lined pan and bake for 10-12 minutes (I did 10).
4) While cookies are baking combine glaze ingredients in a pot over low heat and stir to combine. Once it`s nice and smooth remove from heat. * I didn't bother boiling the water before mixing it into the glaze and it turned out fine.
5) Once your cookies are out of the oven and on a cooling rack, drizzle them with the glaze.
Monday, 5 August 2013
1) Eat at the table.
We recently sanded, stained and re-finished our kitchen table so had been eating elsewhere in the apartment for the past few weeks. I always feel a bit guilty when we don't eat at the table, and I eat without really being mindful of my food. Besides, eating at the table makes food taste better. Now we're back to table set, cloth napkins out, the whole shebang!
2) Carry camera all the time.
This one's a bit trickier as I don't have a good camera case to travel around with me, but I always find that when I'm out and about sans camera I seem to find so many camera-worthy moments that I miss. My XL purse will have to do for now!
3) Bake something every weekend.
I really like the idea of baking bread and a treat for the upcoming week. This would be a great habit to start for back to work.
Do you have any goals this month?
Sunday, 4 August 2013
Score! Looking through the binder of stamps I suddenly had the realization that I was , well, a pretty big geek. I had pages just of stamps that had horses in them. Oh boy. But I thank past-geeky-Natalie for supplying me with many creative materials for present-less geeky- Natalie.
Anyway, this DIY is super simple. I just took an old $1 frame from Goodwill, painted it with gold spray paint and then made a collage with stamps which I then glued down to the card stock (some stamp enthusiasts may cringe at this). I played around with the placement of the stamps before I glued them down, to make sure they all fit in.
Don't have a large stamp collection to pull from? Ask around! My mum works for a financial company and they get mail from all over the world: read, they get cool stamps! So what she would do (when I was really into stamps) is go to the mail room and ask the guys there to rip off the corners of the envelopes with the stamps on them and save them for her. You'd be surprised how many stamps I would get this way just in a week! My oma would also ask her neighbors to save their stamped envelopes as well. I clearly have the best family. Removing the stamps from the paper is easy enough too. Here's a how-to if you're interested.
Now I just need to figure out what else to do with all those stamps...