Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Basil Plant

You guys!!! look at my basil plant!

I am so proud of it because usually whenever I get a basil plant it lasts a few weeks and then dies. This time, I followed the wise advise of my old McGill roommates and replanted it in a bigger pot with potting soil. What a difference! It is a bit if extra trouble in the beginning, but so low maintenance after that. Leave it in the sun and water every few days.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chalk Paint Labels

A while back, my friend Kristin and I painted some chalk paint labels. We followed this tutorial from Gemma over at the sweetest digs. I met Gemma briefly back at the Target event- and love her blog! She has a lot of great DIY projects so check it out if you are looking for new ideas. She also has a lot of tips on parenting and travelling with a baby etc. which are great for those with brand new babies.

Anyway the chalk paint project turned out great!

These jars pictured above are mostly from the dollar store with a few from Ikea. I also have some from Bulk Barn.

In those photos the labels are written in chalk, but it actually looks a lot nicer with chalk markers. Also it doesn't rub off as easily, but does come off with water. I bought a pack of 4 chalk markers at Michaels. They come in different colour pallettes which is fun! I think that white looks the best. They cost about $11. The price is a bit steep, but print off a $40% off coupon from Michael's weekly coupons, and you are good to go!

I loved how the jars looked, but still had many jars without labels.  I am a frequent shopper at bulk barn  and often buy stuff only to completely forget what it is, so this is definitely a problem for me! I considered buying some of the Martha Stewart chalk labels (they have them at Staples) but at $5 for a pack of 3, this would get expensive.

I decided, why not paint plain Avery Labels with the chalk paint and use those? I still had almost a full can of chalk paint (which I had lent to my friend Carolyn) and had some labels lying around too. So this past weekend, I was up visiting Carolyn and her hubby and we got to work.
Setting up- making sure to cover the table with newspaper! 

They don't look perfect, but once they dry they look a lot better

It was fun, and the labels turned out great! It is pretty self explanatory- we just painted 2 coats of pain on the labels (paint one coat, wait about 10-15 minutes, paint the next coat). After a few hours they were dry enough for me to bring them home. I let them dry more over night and then "cured" them with chalk. You just rub the chalk sideways onto it, wipe it off and repeat. This makes it so that when you write on the label and erase it, it doesn't leave an imprint.

and Voila the final product on jars in my cupboard!

As you can see there is still work to be done in terms of putting things in jars and labeling them. I see a lot of name-less baggies in there.. Luckily I have lots of labels left, so hopefully I will tackle the rest soon!

If you need labels for your pantry, try this out!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Blueberry smoothie

Made by my bro-in law

replica- made by yours truly back in Ottawa

Smoothies are super easy to make. Also, you don't really need a recipe, because you can just throw in whatever you want. Sometimes though, I get carried away and add in anything and everything. The flavours all mix together and it doesn't always taste great.

This combination goes so well together, I had to share. My bro-in law made it in Boston and it was so good, I wanted to make it again. I managed to get him to tell me some of the ingredients and with a bit of guesswork, I recreated something quite similar and modified it a bit to make it even more healthy and filling.

- frozen blueberries
- frozen or fresh banana
- almond butter (this is what really makes the smoothie!)
- almond milk or regular skim milk
- I also added in 1/8 avocado or a handful of Kale
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla whey protein (for good measure, to make sure it fills you up)- optional

Blend all ingredients.


Sunday, August 03, 2014

Goat cheese toast

One of my favourite cafes in my sister's neighborhood- 3 little figs- in Somerville- has an item on the menu Ricotta Toast. It looked so good!! I decided it would be easy to replicate it back at home. We used goat cheese instead of Ricotta and whipped it up for a quick lunch before we head off to Providence!!

It is very simple:
- Toast ( jalepeno and olive here)
- Cheese (goat cheese or ricotta)
- olive oil and salt and pepper- voila!!!

The quality of this can greatly improve with the quality of the ingredients. C&E had nothing but the best of course.We used:
- Bread from When Pigs Fly. The bread is delivered daily from Maine. We used two different kinds because Claire doesn't like olives. One type with olives and jalepenos and one whole grain.
- Maple goat cheese from a goat farm in upstate new york. They picked it up on a trip and had been keeping it in the freezer.

 - Olive Oil- from Italy- from our family friend's land! If you can't get your hands on olive oil from Italy just make sure you have an extra virgin good quality one. You usually get what you pay for when it comes to olive oil.
- Himalayan sea salt (what else?)
and finally an "ordinary" pepper- Malabar black pepper from India.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chocolate Ice cream!!

Here are some photos!

I just used the recipe from the kitchen -aid manual book. I didn't add in chocolate chunks so mine was just double chocolate and not triple.

We ate some right after and it was good but tasted very rich.

 I then froze the leftovers in a tupperware and then brought it to my parents (and friends) a couple of days later, and everyone really liked it. Some people had seconds. I definitely preferred it once it had time to freeze for a while and was more solid (right after making it, it has more a soft-serve consistency). It makes a lot! There is still some leftover, however I chose not to bring it back to my place, in fear of eating it all. 

My dad said "I didn't like it- I loved it. best ice cream I ever had"

That being said,  my dad is always my # 1 fan and a huge chocolate lover!


I am looking forward to making more ice cream recipes soon! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Whole Grain Bread

So, For my birthday my parents got me a kitchen-aid stand mixer!! It also came with the ice cream maker bowl attachment as a special promotion. A whole new world has opened up to me!!

Now some people would get a stand mixer and let it sit forever and not use it, but I wanted to put mine to good use right away! In one day, I made bread, pizza and prepped the mixture for ice cream! [ think of how many dishes that makes!! I really really really want/need a dishwasher!!]  I got some of the recipes from the little manual that came with the machine and some from a kitchen-aid cookbook that I picked up for $8.99 at the local bookstore next to my work. I just love it when the sales are in my favour!! I also found some bread recipes in cookbooks i have at home and can't wait to try them out!!

Oh- and I borrowed my dad's Nikon!! Please bear with me as I try and improve my photography skills! All i can say is that it is so much fun!!
So full disclosure- I made this bread from scratch, but using a bread hook on the stand mixer to kneed the bread. I view this somewhere in between using a bread maker, and kneeding it all by hand (which, by the way, I have heard is very therapeutic). It was my first time even using yeast-which by the way- does not smell good!!

This recipe is pretty healthy! it makes 2 loaves and I brought one over to my parents. They ate it all,  along with friends visiting from the States, and everyone said it was really good. Yaay- success :)
I am eating the other loaf for sandwiches for my lunch!!

It is an easy recipe to follow as long as you have a lot of time.

I did the first part, went for a run, second part, went for brunch, third part, went for soccer..etc etc- haha see a pattern- exercise-food-exercise-food. Anyway here is the recipe- from Kitchen aid- 3 in 1 cookbook.

- 2 cups warm water (105- 115F)
you need a thermometer for this- I bought a candy thermometer that clips onto the edge of your pot. At first I kept heating the water to above boiling and couldn't understand why the temperature wasn't going any higher- then I realized I was looking at Celsius not Fahrenheit- woops!!)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 2 - 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup bread flower
- 1 1/4 cup large flake oats
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup assorted grain- I used wheat germ cause I had it on hand
- 1 egg white
- 1 Tablespoon water

- heat 1 1/2 cups water, honey, oil and salt in a saucepan until it reached 105-115F.

wayy too hot! as you can see it is nearly at 200 F
- Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in mixer bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in honey mixture. Add 1 cup whole wheat flower and bread flower. Stir with dough hook at speed 2 for 2 minutes. Gradually add in seeds, grains and 1 cup of the oats. Add in remaining whole wheat flower 1/2 cup at a time until it begins to form a ball. Continue kneeding (aka leave the machine on) for 7-10 minutes, until the dough is elasticky and stretchy.

-place dough in lightly greased bowl, turning to coat lightly, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place 1 1/2- 2 hours

- grease 2 9x5 inch loaf pans. Punch down dough. I watched  a you-tube video to figure out what this means. It really means just punch the dough. Do it once in each spot- it lets the air out and does other chemical things to the yeast. Separate dough into 2 and place in pans. lightly cover and let rise again for another hour

- Preheat oven to 375- bake for 30-35 minutes

let it cool 10 minutes in the pans

remove and let cool completely.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cake Decorating

I haven't posted anything in a while, as I haven't really cooked anything new. Instead of a recipe, I wanted to share with you my experiences with cake decorating. Over the last year, I took 3 Wilton Cake decorating courses at Michaels.

In the first course, you learn butter cream basics, how to make flowers, decorate cupcakes, write on cakes etc. This course was definitely the most time intensive as you have to bake things for each class- cookies, cupcakes and cakes. Thanks to Juliet who did 99% of the work on this one. Unfortunately for me, she wasn't in town for the next ones. The instructor spent a lot of time reading us the book, and the pace for the class was quite slow, until the last half hour where we were so rushed to get everything done. It was still fun to do the class with great friends.

Andrea and I continued with the cake decorating, even thought the others couldn't join. In the second course you learn some fondant techniques and royal icing flowers and techniques. I missed the last class, so I don't know how to do the basket weave technique, but at some point I will do a make up class.  The class was smaller and the instructor jumped right into it, rather than focus so much on the book.

In the third course, which has been my favourite, you learn how to make things with fondant and how to cover and decorate a cake with fondant. How fun!!

Here is the cake I did in course 3

I brought it over to Tamara's for her birthday and house warming party! Having taken the first course, I think she appreciated the work that went into it! The downside of fondant cakes are that they look pretty but (although edible) I don't recommending eating much of the fondant.

I now need to move to a bigger apartment, as I no longer have room for all my cake decorating equipment. I actually got tired of bringing 3 + bags to the class every time and got a big huge bag to put my stuff in. It still doesn't fit everything. Perhaps I need one of those huge storage bins.

We decided not to take course 4 for now, as it is just more complex fondant flowers. We were a bit tired of all the flowers. Instead, I decided to take what I'd learned and practice.

I made this cake for D for his b-day:

I looked at various different pictures and tutorials online and combined bits I liked from different ones such as this one. For the car cake topper, I followed this tutorial.

Here are some more photos of the car topper, I was pretty happy with it, and I think D really liked the cake.

That's all for now.

Next up, I will probably make some cupcakes!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mint Green Smoothie

This is my new go-to post run smoothie. I got the recipe from the Oh She Glows Cookbook and modified it only minimally, as it is great as is. It is my go-to post run morning smoothie! It took my a little while to get all the ingredients that i don't always have on hand- coconut water and watermelon, and mint. Well, I now have my very own mint plant, so as long as I don't kill it, I should always have fresh mint! This recipe makes a nice big thirst quenching cup. It looks like it is too much, but goes down easy and is very light on the calories. You may want to eat something else with it or add in a banana to make it more filling. Coconut water could be subbed for almond milk for an even more substantial breakfast or snack.

- 1 1/2 cups spinach
- 1 apple
- 1 cup coconut water
- fresh mint
- watermelon (if you have fresh use that. you can also freeze some so you have it on hand)
- 1/8 avocado
- 5 ice cubes
- 1 Tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Add all ingredients except ice. Blend. Add in ice, and blend some more.


The taste of the fresh mint is delicious and refreshing!! I was skeptical at first, but it works.
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