Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips-9A friend said something interesting to me the other day. I believe the exact words were “ I would love to have more (muscle) definition, but I also want to enjoy life. I like chips!

Sweet Potato Chips

The first thing that came to mind was “Mmmm I like chips too, I should make some” then I contemplated what they had said about enjoying life.

Sweet Potato Chips-3As crazy as I have been about my eating and fitness, I too really just want to enjoy life. It’s all well and good to be healthy, but it’s so important to “enjoy life”, whether it’s eating the best pizza ever, or skipping that workout to hang with some friends.

Sweet Potato Chips-4For me, it’s enjoying a glass of wine. I have mentioned on the blog before, that it’s been 7 years since I was able to have a sip of alcohol. But lately I am able to enjoy a (just one) glass of wine. If I try and squeeze in a second, the sneezing starts, and doesn’t stop.

Sweet Potato Chips-5OK back to these chips. For some reason my mind will always gravitate to food in a conversation. I just could get the idea out of my head about making homemade chips. I still wanted the try and make then healthy, so I headed over to Ashley’s site, and sure enough, she had perfected the art of CRISPY sweet potato chips.

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I have listed the basic recipe and instructions below, but visit Ashley’s site for her version of the recipe and for some awesome tips to making these really crispy. She also has a super simple avocado dip.

Sweet Potato Chips-7So if you will excuse me, I’ll be over hear enjoying a glass of wine and some sweet potato fries.

Sweet Potato Chips

[Adapted from http://www.edibleperspective.com/home/2015/1/26/crispy-baked-sweet-potato-chips.html]

1 Medium Sweet Potato

Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Line a large baking sheet with tin foil, and brush it with olive oil, set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a mandolin , or very sharp knife, cut the sweet potato to 1/8 of an inch. Toss in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lay out on the prepared baking sheet, do not overlap.

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip, bake for 8-10 more minute, and lip again. At this point you will notice the potatoes, starting to curl at the edges and brown slightly. Place bake in the oven for 4 minutes. Remove and smaller chips that are brown and the edges are curled in, place them on a wire rack. Keep flipping and removing any that are done, in 4 minute intervals, until all the chips are finished cooking.

Sprinkle with salt. Allow to cool completely, they should turn out crispy and not soft in the centre.

Goat Cheese and Veggie Stuffed Chicken

Goat Cheese and Veggie Chicken (2)So I have declared this THE “super, crazy, insane, push myself physically until I want to cry” SUMMER.  I have not only joined a boot camp, but now I have signed up for a Spartan race?!?!

Goat Cheese and Veggie ChickenI have no idea what I have gotten myself into.  I think what scares me the most is when I tell people, most of the time I get “OMG you signed up for tha!t?”  Which tells me 2 things, its crazy hard, and I’m crazy stupid.
Which brings me to my next point,  apparently it’s in bad form to discuss your fitness.  Like its right up there with telling people how much you make.  Like you’re bragging or something.  I have a huge problem with this.
I too, before engaging in rigorous physical activity, and eating clean, thought fit people were either crazy, or thought they were better than me…. Guess what, they were (both).  And they had every right to show it off, they worked damn hard for it.

Goat Cheese and Veggie Chicken-2I get that there is a fine line between being dedicated and being obsessive,  but let’s face it folks, working out HARD and eating well requires a lot of focus and determination.  So I say, good for you for being fit.  I applaud that solo runner jogging after diner or when the sun first rises, and bravo to that person who munches on carrots, instead of that box of doughnuts.

Goat Cheese and Veggie Chicken-3I’m not saying you should never have a doughnut, or laze around on your couch in your underwear all day watching the new season of orange is the new black…. Too much info?  What I am saying is, we shouldn’t ridicule or call these healthy individuals crazy, we should praise them and aspire to be more like them.  So get out there and get fit, even if it means taking a walk after dinner, or choosing the stairs at work.  Maybe you just skip the pop with you’re happy mean and drink water instead.  What ever it is we should all want to live longer and live better.

Goat Cheese and Veggie Chicken-4

On that note, here is one of my favorite meals, lots of clean protein! Fills me up and keeps me going.

Goat Cheese Veggie Stuffed Chicken

[http://www.fitchicks.ca/blog/2015/05/chick-feed-3-ingredient-super-stuffed-chicken-recipe/]

2 Chicken Boneless Chicken Breast
1 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
Zucchini, Sliced
Red Pepper, Sliced
Carrot, I Peeled Mine into Strips
3-4 Small Mushrooms, Sliced
2 Tablespoons of Goat Cheese

Pre-Heat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment or tin foil (spray with non-stick spray if using tin foil), set aside.

In a medium pan over medium heat, warm up the olive oil, add all the veggies and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until soft.

If you didn’t buy chicken breast that are already fillet, you can do it yourself. Spread the chicken breast out as flat as you can, between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Gentle pound (that’s an oxymoron if I ever read one) until its about ¼ inch thick. I say gentle, because if you start smashing it, you’ll just rip the chicken. I used a rolling pin before I got my kitchen Hammer.

Take about 2 tablespoons of the veggies and place into the centre of each flattened chicken breast. Spoon 1 tablespoon of goat cheese on top of veggies. Gently fold and secure with tooth picks.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve over rice for your cabs.

Chickpea Salad (Is it Worth it?)

Chickpea Salad-8

Yup… another salad!

Chickpea Salad-4 I’m not even going to try and fool you by calling it a bowl, or a side dish, or whatever other name us food bloggers are trying to disguise salads as.

Chickpea Salad-5

I’m not even going to sugar coat this salad. It’s a lot of work! Like mind numbing, torturous, painfully monotonous kind of work. Or at least that’s the way I see it. What makes this such an involved process? Removing the skin from the chickpeas.
I HATE the skin of chickpeas. It just seems wrong to eat it.

Chickpea Salad-7 I’d like to say this salad was worth it, but as I said I HATE the chickpea skin! Argo I must painstakingly peel them. SERIOUSLY, they have a kitchen gadget for everything! From cherry pitters, to garlic peelers, to melon bawlers… who needs their melon’s balled! I know it’s cute and stuff, but really, what’s wrong with a square melon. Not the point… I would happy to ball all the melon, if someone would invent a chickpea peeler.

Chickpea Salad-9

But I digress, there is no such gadget, so if you’re like me and must have the skin off your chickpea, pull up a kitchen stool, peel those chickpeas, and make this salad.

Chickpea Salad

[Adapted from https://dashingdish.com/recipe/mediterranean-chickpea-salad/%5D

1 15 oz Can of Chickpeas (Skin removed, if your into that mind numbing torture)
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Parsley
½ Cup of Red Pepper, Chopped
½ Cup of Tomatoes, Chopped
¼ Cup of Red Onion, Diced
2 Tablespoons of Crumbled Goat Cheese

Dressing

½ Tablespoon of lemon Juice
½ Tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Greek Yogurt
½ Cup of Cucumber, Diced

Assembly

Peel of the outer skin of the chickpeas, or leave it on if you’re into that kina of time saving thang. Chop up all the veggies and toss all the ingredients in a bowl, except for the dressing.
Mix the dressing in a separate bowl. Mix into the salad, ¼ cup at first and add tablespoons at a time, until you have the right amount for you.

Overnight Steel Cut Oats – Pre Workout Snack

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I have recently set some new fitness goals.  Number one, join and insane bootcamp and secretly plot to destroy the instructor as I drive away…. I thought about taking that back… but if you were in my bootcamp, you’d be plotting too.  At this point I’m afraid not to show up, in fear she will find me.

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Number 2, perform 1 chin-up and 1 pull up.  Yes there is a difference.  A chin up is waaaaay easier.  I recently performed my 1 chin up (still working on the pull up) so I have increased that to 5 chin-ups.

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 Why am I torturing myself… not really sure.  I may need to get my head checked.  If I write to you guys and tell you I’m joining a crossfit box, then you guys can commit me.  Those people are insane.  Google crossfit games.

 Steel Cut Oats-5

While on this new fitness journey,   I have realized how important it Is to fuel my body.  I never understood the whole protein powder craze, or carbing up, until I stepped up my goals and found I was losing energy.  Did you know your body rebuilds muscle ALL day.   And in order to do that you need protein… like  A LOT of protein.   While I haven’t added any protein powder … yet.  I have started eating certain foods to fuel me before and after my workouts…. And it totally works.

 Steel Cut Oats

This is my go to pre-workout snack…. This has to be the easiest snack to prepare ahead of time

 Steel Cut Oats-5

The best part is topping them.   I added milk, maple syrup, blueberries and toasted pecans.  You can add anything thing you want, from soy milk, to brown sugar, and almonds, or even peaches… seriously you could add an old shoe… ok maybe not anything.

Overnight Steel Cut Oats – Pre Workout Snack!!!!

1 2/3 Cups of Steel Cut Oats
4 Cups Of Water
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
5 ½ Pint or 1 Pint Jars

Bring water to a boil, add salt and oats, and let boil for 3-4 minutes.    Remove from heat.

Using a soup ladle, stir the oats and divide equally into jars.  I did this in 2 passes, and I kept stiring the oats every time I took a new ladle full.  Allow them to cool to room temperature, close the lids and pop in the fridge.

When you want eat them , pop them in the microwave, with a little water.    And top with what ever you want.

Crazy Good Noodle Bowl(s)

Cold Asian Noodle Bowl-10

It’s no secret around here that I am in LOOOOVE with salad lately. So instead of calling this a salad, we’re calling it a bowl.

Cold Asian Noodle Bowl-2 I’m naming this a bowl for two reasons, one, because otherwise you might think I’m the crazy salad lady, and two, “Bowls” seem to be all the rage… like matcha powder.. Which by the way, I have finally tracked down and it didn’t cost me a billion dollars, but that’s another story.

Cold Asian Noodle Bowl-4

Back to this salad bowl. I was a little hesitant at first, I mean cold noodles… but um… seriously I could eat these cold all by themselves.  It’s probably a good idea to add all the other stuff though, cause otherwise you’re just some crazy person eating plain noodles. Unless that’s your thang.

Cold Asian Noodle Bowl-6

I do have to complain… I mean mention, this post was exceptionally hard to type.. I joined an insane boot camp and we did shoulders and arms… I’m barley able to lift my arms, I look like a penguin. My entire class is currently plotting the instructor’s demise.   Also it doesn’t help that I work with a bunch of 6 year olds, that insisted on squeezing my arms upon learning this info.

Cold Asian Noodle Bowl-7

I guess I’ll have to find someone to feed me this noodle bowl. Any takers?

Cold Asian Noodle Bowl

Crazy Good Noodle Bowl(s)

[Adapted from http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/noodle-salad-with-chicken-and-chile-scallion-oil%5D
Spicy Oil
2 Green Onions, Sliced Thinly
2 Garlic Cloves, Sliced Thinly
2 Star Anise Pods (yup the whole pod)
2 Teaspoons of Black Peppercorns
1 Tablespoon of Red Pepper Flakes (you can add more, I’m a wimp)
½ Cup of Olive Oil
Noodle Bowl
6 oz of Somen Noodles (mine came conveniently portion controlled)
2 Tablespoons of Reduced Sodium Soya Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Rice Vinegar
2 Teaspoons of Agave Nectar (or Honey)
1 Teaspoon of Toasted Sesame Oil
1-2 Cups of Cooked Chicken (I used shredded mine)
2 Green Onions, Sliced Thinly
½ Cup of Cucumber Slices
2 Asparagus, Shaved (I used a Y-Peeler)
2 Carrots, Shaved (I used a Y-Peeler)
Handful of Chopped Parsley

To Make the Spicy Oil
Combine all the ingredients in a sealable container and place in the fridge. The longer it sits, the better is tastes.
To Assemble the Bowl
Cook the noodles, as per the package, and strain and run cold water over them. Through some olive oil on them so they don’t stick.. maybe a teaspoon or 2.
In an small bowl whisk soya sauce, rice vinegar, agave nectar, and sesame oil.
Place the cold noodles in a bowl (one big one, if you’re super hungry), toss in chicken, green onions, cucumbers, asparagus, and parsley. Add the wet ingredients from the small bowl and toss.
Drizzle the spicy oil, and top with parsley.

SOOO GOOD!

May; Monthly Things

Soooo May was long. I think I say that cause half of April was spent in Hawaii… so you can see why May seem to drag on.

pool

I feel like we are super behind on everything.   The pool seems to take forever to open. My brother-in-law came over and help start the process first week of May, and yesterday was the first swimmable day … and it was freezing! We like our pool at 80 degrees around here.

Garden

My Garden also is all ready to grow,…. See what I did there. But in all fairness we did have a late frost, and I NEVER plant anything, until the last weekend of May, and I did have most of my stuff bought, they was just hanging out in my dining room. Can you say greenhouse?

I found this really Cool link of 20 things to do in your 30’s to make you a better person at 50!  Click Here.

birthday doughnuts

What else did May bring… oh ya a 14 year old! That’s right, my favorite girl turned 14! I usually make some sort of tricked out cupcakes… but we ended up taking a trip over to this new doughnut place, and we bought some tricked out doughnuts… they were awesome.

How could we forget Mother’s Day! My mom lives 5 hours away, so I made sure to call her, and I send her some African violets, which she assures me she will kill shortly. It’s not that she doesn’t like them, apparently they are hard to care for. At least they looked pretty on the Day. We also had a lovely dinner with Mr.PBandO’s Mom. She’s awesome!

fitness

Fitness bootbcamp… I signed up ,and I’m already regretting…. we’ll talk more about it in June things.

I think the most exciting thing (for me) was that the marketing department for the Ricardo people, asked me to feature a recipe from their web site. I have always loooooved Ricardo. Check it out!

ricardo

And to round out the month I thought it was a super awesome idea to sign up for a “kick my ass” boot camp. I am looking forward to NOT being able to walk on Wednesday!

Maggie says hi!

Maggie

Oh and I think golf season has started, cause I haven’t seen much of Mr.PBandO… which may have something to do with the pool taking forever to open. ;)

Lemon Zucchini Cookies

I’m so bored with my workouts!

 Lemon Zucchini Cookies-6

I have been (more or less) doing the same workouts for about 2-3 years.  I run almost everyday, and I have about 5-6 different workouts I rotate around, and even though I have added a few additions and adjustments… I’m just BORED.

 Lemon Zucchini Cookies-2

I recently changed my eating habits and noticed fantastic results (check out my clean eating challenge) so changing up my workouts is really just the next step.

 Lemon Zucchini Cookies-3

I did look into this cross fit thing. They are supposed to be 30% more effective in a 20 minute time frame, compared to a regular a 30 minute workout. The catch…… they ARE INSANE.  Kudos to all you cross fitters.  While I’m not ready to jump head first into a cross fit, I did sign up for a 4 week 2X’s a week boot camp. It has some cross fit in it, so I’ll consider it an introduction.

Lemon Zucchini Cookies-4

Over the years I have thought, I couldn’t do that workout, or I would never be that weight, or have those muscles, or even eat that healthy. Each time I have proven myself wrong. The only thing I regret is not doing it sooner. I know how cliché am I?   You never know unless you try… you only fail when you stop fighting…. be all you can be… oh wait , that’s the army.

Lemon Zucchini Cookies-5

Being healthy and fit is a priority in my life, but so are cookies… like my Segway?  These light and citrusy cookies are not that bad and they hit the spot! Plus there is zucchini in them, so they are practically a vegetable, right?

Lemon Zucchini Cookies

[Adapted from http://www.marthastewart.com/314971/lemon-zucchini-cornmeal-cookies]

1 Medium Zucchini, Grated
1 Cup of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
½ Cup of FINE Cornmeal
½ Cup of Softened Unsalted Butter
1 Cup of Powdered Sugar
½ Teaspoon of Vanilla
2 Teaspoons of Lemon Zest
Pinch of Salt

Pre Heat oven to 325 degrees, an d line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

Grate the zucchini and sit in a colander to allow the water to drip out. I squeezed mine to help it along, and patted it down with a paper towel.

In a small bowl, whisk flour and cornmeal, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar, until well blended. Stir in vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Now add the flour and cornmeal. The mixture might be crumbly. Fold in the zucchini.

Drop tablespoons of the cookie dough on the parchment lines cookies sheet. Allow a bit of room for the cookies to spread. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the sides are slightly brown.

Allow to cool on a wire rack, on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool completely directly on the wire rack.

Ricardo’s BBQ Curry Chicken Skewers

BBQ Curry Chicken-7

This is SO exciting!   A couple of weeks ago I was approached by the marketing department at Ricardo Cuisine, and they asked me if I would be interested in posting a recipe from Ricardo’s web site, for their Ricardo Cuisine’s Spring blogger campaign.

 BBQ Curry Chicken-2

Ummm… I had to think about that for 2 seconds. YES.

 BBQ Curry Chicken-5

I have loved Ricardo from the first day I saw him on the food network. I have been following him ever since. From his web site to his French magazine, to the launch of his English magazine.  Even Mr.PBandO makes an apple crisp from Ricardo’s site.  So you can see why I was so excited to accept.

 BBQ Curry Chicken-4

I was tasked to highlight something from the BBQ category section of the Ricardo site. My only problem with that, was choosing a recipe.  There are so many delicious recipes, and all of them are so easy to follow, one of my favorite things about his site!  Easy and delicious.

 BBQ Curry Chicken-6

I finally settled on this super simple, super delicious curry bbq chicken. I put it on top of some coconut brown rice, it paired perfect.

 BBQ Curry Chicken-8

Click HERE, and Head on over to the Ricardo site and check out this recipe along with so many other great recipes.

Bacon and Gruyere Cheese Pizza

Bacon, Gruyere and Parmesean Pizza-8

Thin Pizza Crust with Bacon, Gruyere and Parmesan on it!

Bacon, Gruyere and Parmesean Pizza-2 (2)

OK, I’m trying to stuff 2 recipes into one post. I have been meaning to post this super yummy thin crust pizza crust recipe I got from my sister for almost 6 month!

Bacon, Gruyere and Parmesean Pizza-3 (2)

 Honestly it’s the only pizza crust I use these days.  I’m a sucker for a thin crust, although I have been known to steel the odd thick crust off Mr.PBandO.

 Bacon, Gruyere and Parmesean Pizza-5 (2)

I thought posting a pizza crust was a little boring, but it is the foundation of any great pizza. Crappy pizza crust, crappy pizza.

 Bacon, Gruyere and Parmesean Pizza-5

And I was asked recently “Where’s the bacon?” not to be confused with “Where’s the beef?”…. did I just date myself… ummm moving on.

Bacon, Gruyere and Parmesean Pizza

So technically I’m killing 3 birds with one stone. Amazing thin crust; Check!,  Pizza; Check!, Bacon on Pizza; Check!

 Bacon, Gruyere and Parmesean Pizza-7

My Sisters Awesome Thin Crust Pizza Dough

5 1/3 Cup of Bread Flour
2 Teaspoons of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Instant Yeast
1 ½ Tablespoons of Honey
2 Cups, Plus 2 Tablespoon of Room Temperature Water
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Pizza Toppings

1 Cup of Grated Gruyere Cheese
½ Cup of Parmesan Cheese
6-8 Slices of Cooked, Chopped Bacon
1 Tablespoon of Hummus
2 Tablespoons of Pizza Sauce

Put all ingredients into a stand mixer (or a big bowl) and mix with paddle attachment for 1 minute, or a large wooden spoon. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Switch to your dough hook and mix on medium-high speed for 2 – 3 minutes. Or kneed by hand on a lightly floured surface, for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, and somewhere between tacky and sticky.

Form into a ball, and then flatten and shape into a log. Divide dough into 4-5 pieces. You can freeze in individual bags or put in the fridge overnight, or for at least 4 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, remove dough from fridge and let come to room temperature, about 1.5 hours.

Pre heat the oven to 500 degrees, and place your pizza stone in the oven to warm up.

Roll out your dough on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper

Pizza Assembly

Spread the hummus, and pizza sauce all over the rolled out dough.

Sprinkle both cheese, and top with bacon.

Slide your pizza onto your pizza stone (I use the back of a baking sheet), or place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly, and the crust is browned.

Potato, Leek and Spinach Soup

potato leek and spinach soup-6

I know what you’re thinking…. Its spring, what’s with the soup?

 potato leek and spinach soup-2

This is completely inspired by the fact that I was sick last weekend, and I had NO soup in the house.   Me, no soup! I always have a bunch on soup stashed in my freezer.   At least 3 varieties!

 potato leek and spinach soup-3

Of course I am all sick and achy and not at all feeling like making anything.  Honestly I think I ended up eating cookies. That and crackers.

potato leek and spinach soup-4

I was however feeling a little better on Sunday, so I mustered up enough strength to throw together a batch of this soup. It’s actually quite easy and it freezes really well.

 potato leek and spinach soup-5

Moral of the story, always have soup on hand, you never know when sickness… or laziness will hit.

Potato, Leek and Spinach Salad

[Adapted from Ricardo winter 2015 Magazine]

1 Leek, White Part Only, Sliced Thin
2 Tablespoons Of Butter
1 Tablespoon of Turmeric
8-10 Small White Potatoes, Cut into Quarters
½ Cup of White Wine
5 Cups of Chicken Broth, Low/No Sodium
1 Tablespoon of Honey
1 Cup of Corn
2 Cups of Fresh Baby Spinach
5-6 Slices of Bacon, Cook, and Crumbled
1 Green Onion, Chopped

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter, add the leeks, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, and the cut up potatoes, cook for 1 minute. Add in the wine, and cook for 5 more minutes.

Pour in the Chicken broth, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Throw in the corn and spinach, salt and pepper to taste. Heat for 2 -3 more minutes.

Serve hot, and top with bacon and green onions.

Monthly Things; April/Hawaii Edition

April Things

HAWAII;  No big surprise, I’m blabbing about our trip to Hawaii.  “OMG that was horrible, hated it.” Said no one EVER, returning from Hawaii.  Honestly I’m surprised I got on the plane to come home. Of course it was beautiful every day, sunny, hot and stuff. It did rain for 5 minutes, and even then it was sunny.

I actually need a long nap after that trip.  From the sunset Easter dinner cruise, to snorkeling ( I saw reef a shark… for honest), to the luau (so my favorite part), the drive up the 10,000 foot dormant volcano to watch a sunrise, to shopping with the ladies, to watching the first hockey playoff game in a bar in Maui (the ladies may have popped out to shop around during that), to happy hour with our 8 person gang (OMG I can drink alcohol in Hawaii… I usually sneeze like crazy).   Other than the luau, where btw I ate like 5 desserts, my favorite part was sitting around playing cards against humanity with our gang of family and friends.  Let’s be honest folks, if you can’t share memories with your family and friends… then they just aren’t worth remembering.  We had a great gang of people with us.  Thanks guys, Hawaii would have sucked without you!  Derek & Helen (Condo mates & great friends) , Steph& Lisa (Tour guides extraordinaire), Sylvie & Rick (resident funny man and healing lady) and Suzanne & Craig (hockey fans, and drinking buddies)

Here some pics! And by some I mean a billion!

luau-2

Dinner

luau

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Baby Pineapple

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Hawaii - Flora and Fauna-14

One of a Million Palm Tree Pictures

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Hawaii - Flora and Fauna-8

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Hawaii - Flora and Fauna-5

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Hawaiian Christmas Tree

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Hawaii - Flora and Fauna-2

Hawaii - Flora and Fauna

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Enjoying the Golf View

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Golf

flaura and fauna

chicken-2

chicken

Instead of Stray Dogs, They Have Stray Chickens

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volcano-3

volcano-2

Silver Sword… only grows 10,000 feet up!

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Volcano

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Our View From Our Condo!

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Black sand beach

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Our everyday beach

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Black Sand Beach!

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me

Hawaiian Selfie!

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I Ate All of Them!

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Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Raisins Cookies-6

Soooo I planned on whining and complaining to you guys about my 4 day stomach flu, but then I realized you might want to punch me in the face when I told you this was my first bout of sickness in nearly 3 years…. So change of plans.

 Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Raisins Cookies

Instead, I’ll just tell you how sorry I am for not getting my “Monthly Things; April edition” up on the blog over the weekend. Because I know you are all, and by all of you, I mean the 3 or so of you who actually follow me (hi Mom) are on the edge of your seats wondering where it is. For the rest of you who are wondering what Monthly things are, you can check them out via the menu up top.

 Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Raisins Cookies-2

I will post April’s version in a couple of days. It will mostly consist of copious amounts of Hawaii pictures, that will make you want to either plan your own Hawaiian holiday, or just punch me in face.

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Not really sure where my violent obsession with punching in the face is coming from…. I’ll just stop.

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You should just stay calm and make theses super healthy (and yummy) cookies. ;)

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Raisins Cookies-7

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

[Adapted from http://cookieandkate.com/2014/peanut-butter-banana-honey-oat-chocolate-chip-cookies/]

¼ Cup of Agave Nectar
¼ Cup of Honey
½ Cup of Natural Smooth Peanut Butter
1 Banana, Mashed
¼ Cup of Coconut Oil, Melted
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
½ Baking Soda
½ Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon of Salt
1 ½ Cup of Rolled Oats, Ground up in a blender
1 ½ Cup of Rolled Oats
1 Cup of Raisins

Pre Heat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the wet ingredients (the first six ingredients). In a medium bowl, whisk the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and both rolled oats (grind up 1 ½ cups of oats in a blender). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in the raisins.

Using a tablespoon, scoop the cookies dough onto the prepared baking sheets. At this point you can flatten them with the back of a spoon, or your hand, I just left mine all round and stuff.

Bake in the oven for 13-16 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack, or just shove them in your mouth all hot and soft.

Kitchen Sink Pizza

A friend recently asked me quite possibly THE most important question about my blog. Where is the BACON?!?

Kitchen Sink Pizza-6

They were right, I mean they ARE right. Where is the BACON on this blog! And can I use more exclamation marks… let’s find out!

Kitchen Sink Pizza-2
Despite the lack of bacon here , I really do love bacon! I mean really, who doesn’t love bacon, other than crazy people. I am however am not referring to people who choose to discount it from their diet do to religious beliefs. ( a girl has to be politically correct)

Kitchen Sink Pizza-3
I’ll let you in on a little crazy secret, and I do mean crazy! Years ago, I gave up all forms of pork! Even BACON, I know! Please don’t hate me. It wasn’t even for religion.

Kitchen Sink Pizza-4

I regained my sanity some years later and Bacon was the first pork related food back on my plate. I have never looked back. Even throughout this clean eating fiasco, bacon has stayed!

Kitchen Sink Pizza-5

Let’s face it people, bacon is awesome! It resolves conflicts, creates peace, and saves the world from….. ok maybe I’m stretching it. But I believe it has it place in the food world, and it goes on everything.

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You’re soufflé looking a little flat, but bacon on it! Your cookies taste like dirt, put bacon on them!, you’re cleaning out your fridge and making a pizza, and even though you have a million ingredients on said pizza, there is something missing…. Put BACON on it!

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I dedicate this kitchen sink pizza (with bacon on it) to my dear friend who pointed out I was neglecting the most important food group of all, BACON!

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Seriously, I’m pretty sure my kitchen sink is somewhere on this pizza… let me know if you spot it! And I managed to use 12 exclamation marks! 13…

Kitchen Sink Pizza
Your Favorite Pizza Dough (My sister sent me a great one, I’ll post it soon)

Pizza Sauce or Tomato Puree
¼ Cup of Corn
½ Cup of Arugula
½ Cup of shredded cheese ( I used a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar)
Shredded chicken
2 Tablespoons of pureed tomatoes
Half a zucchini, sliced thinly
3-4 thinly sliced pieces of red onion
2-4 tablespoons of Goat Cheese
3-4 thinly sliced tomato
As Much Bacon as you want

Pre-Heat your oven to 500 degrees (you heard me! 500!)  Place your pizza stone in the oven to get it nice hot. If you don’t have a pizza stone, then lower the oven heat to 450 degrees.

Roll out your pizza dough as thin or thick as you want on a parchment paper.  I like to start with the pizza sauce (or tomato paste), then I like to put 1/2 cup of cheese (you can use more), then I put all my toppings on, including the bacon.  I then like to crumble goat cheese and 1/4 cup more of shredded cheese.

If your using a pizza stone, place your parchment paper with the pizza on top on the back of a cookie sheet, and gently slide the pizza (parchment and all) onto the pizza stone.  Or just leave it on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until the top and bottom are brown.  If using a cookie sheet, and the oven is at 450, I’de bake it for 15 – 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Minestrone (All Cleaned Up)

Minestrone_-4So we’re back from Hawaii….. I don’t really have anything else to say about that. It would be way more exciting of a topic if I was telling you I was leaving for Hawaii… again, but alas, I am home and I have no plans to go back anytime soon.

 Minestrone_-2

Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing,!  Gorgeous weather, sandy beaches, cold drinks… but 12 hours on a plane… that’s not something you forget overnight, or in a a year… or 2.

 Minestrone_

I was sad to leave, but also very happy to get home and see my puppies, sleep in my bed, and cook in my own kitchen.  Mostly to COOK IN MY OWN kitchen.  Sorry to yell that at you.  I just really missed MY kitchen.

 Minestrone_-5

The first thing that I whipped up was this yummy minestrone.  The best part, not only is it yummy, but its clean. Yes I’m still on the clean wagon…. Opposed to the dirty wagon?   It’s a thing, the clean wagon, not the dirty wagon.  Although I’m sure there is such a thing as…… never mind.   If you feel like checking out the insanity that is my new “Clean” eating, check out the menu at the top.

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In the mean time, make soup. Make this soup.  I say that in the most non-bossy was possible.  :)

Minestrone (Cleaned Up)

[Adapted From http://www.edibleperspective.com/home/2014/12/28/minestrone-soup-with-collard-greens-black-eyed-peas.html?rq=Minestrone]

1-2 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
4-5 Medium Carrots, Sliced Thin
2 Teaspoons of Garlic Chopped
1 Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning
5 Cups of Chicken Broth
1 28 Ounce Can of Crushed Tomato (Sodium Free)
1 15 Ounce Can of Seasoned Diced Tomato (I Used Italian Seasoning)
1 15 Ounce Can of Chickpeas, peeled
2 Cups of Chopped Kale
¾ Cup of Brown Rice Macaroni
Pinch of Salt and Pepper

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Once oil is heated (about 1 minute), toss in onions with a pinch of salt, and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add carrots, and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic and Italian seasoning.

Add broth, tomato and a pinch of pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

While the soup simmers, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Now peel them. This will take the next 15 minutes. Seriously! If someone knows how to speed up this process, PLEASE TELL ME.

Toss in chickpeas, kale and macaroni. Cook for 15 more minutes, or until pasta is cooked.

Spoon into a bowl and throw some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on it.

Maple Coconut Oats

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As soon as I saw this, I wanted to make it. So much so, that I was so disappointed to realizethat I didn’t have any un-sweetened coconut flakes. You see we live just out of the city, so taking a 30 minutes drive into the city for coconut flakes, isn’t really logical….and I almost did it.

Coconut Maple Oats

So I waited until the next day, and on my lunch break I went to my local bulk place to look for un-sweetened coconut flakes…. But for some reason the flakes looked…. Small and inadequate. Who wants small and inadequate flakes…. NOT me.

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I ended up going to 3 separate stores, until I wandered into a health food store, and found them!!! Except they were called coconut chips.  So note to all you Canadians… we call coconut flakes, chips.

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Since it took me the better part of the week and almost all my lunch hours, I was determined to make this.

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Early on a Sunday morning, I went to work and made the most flavorful wonderful oatmeal I have every eaten. Seriously, if you’re and oatmeal lover, or even of your not.. you need to make this. Even if it takes you all week to find coconut flakes… or chips, or whatever you want to call them… just make sure they are big and adequate.

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I’m still in Hawaii….in case you’re wondering!

Maple Coconut Oatmeal

[Adapted from http://notwithoutsalt.com/toasty-oats-coconut/]

4 Tablespoons of Butter
2 Cups of large Flaked Oats
1/3 Cup of Coconut Flakes (or chips)
¼ Cup of Pure Maple Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
Pinch of Salt
2 Cups of Milk

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat, and allow to brown. This will be obvious, it will turn a rich brown color and smell like heaven, stir frequently. Add the oats, and cook oats until all the butter is absorbed, and the oats are starting to brown a bit. Add the coconut flakes.

Stir in the maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Cook for 1 minute, stirring the whole time. Slowly add the milk ¼ cup at a time, allowing the milk to absorb between each addition.

When you get the last ½ cup, you don’t need to let all of it absorb, you want it a little milky.

Server warm, with a little maple and toasted coconut.

Affogato – Coffee Covered Ice Dream

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A couple of weeks ago, I hosted an authentic Irish dinner. Guinness stew, with Irish soda bread. My problem was, I couldn’t find an Irish dessert I wanted to serve.

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I was trolling around chef John’s site for something different, but easy, when I stumbled onto his thing called affagato.

Affogato

I had no idea what that was, but I watched his how to video, cause he’s so funny, and even though it was Italian, it looked and sounded delicious.

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I was on the phone with my sister a couple of days before the dinner, and I had forgotten what the name of it was, so I just described it, and with her being a fancy foodie and stuff, she knew right away I was describing affagato. She encouraged me to make it, which in my books is a green light.

Affogato-5

O M G, yup I used O M G.   It was better than delicious. I wanted to go back for seconds. It kind of tasted like a frappuccino. (I went back for seconds… maybe thirds)

Affogato

[Adapted from http://foodwishes.blogspot.ca/2012/07/affogato-and-black-magic-of-cold-brewed.html%5D

Cold Coffee Concentrate

3 Cups of Cold Water
2/3 Cup of Fresh Ground Coffee (like for French press)

Affogato

Couple of Scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
Cold Coffee Concentrate
Shaved Chocolate Pieces

12 Hours before you want to server the affogato, put the coffee in a large bowl, and pour cold water over top. Give it a stir, cover and let it sit for 12 hours.

When you’re ready to server, scoop ice cream into bowls, pour a couple tablespoons of coffee concentrate over the ice cream and sprinkle shaved chocolate over top… THAT’S IT.

A Birthday Cake – Chocolate

Birthday Cake - Chocolate-6

I first heard about this cake from my sister. She said it helped her get through a tough day. I mean what doesn’t, cake make better. Have a bad day… eat cake. The End.

 Birthday Cake - Chocolate-8

I introduced this cake to Mr.PBandO about 3 months ago. He’s been complaining for years that not enough (chocolate ) baking comes out of our kitchen for him. He’s been feeling, baking neglected, of sorts.

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He is the ultimate chocoholic. If someone if offering up a dessert, my first question is “is it chocolate?” if the answer is no…. then he won’t eat it. Chocolate cheese cake is the only exception, apparently cheese doesn’t belong in dessert. (WHAT!)

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So when my sister passed this along to me, and mentioned it was super-fast to make, win, win, win!

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I may have created a monster, though…… I think I have made this 10 times in 3 months, I’m not even exaggerating, ….at all. He loves it so much, that this is what he requested for his birthday cake.

 Birthday Cake - Chocolate-5

One layer, chocolate frosting, that’s it… oh and the option to request a second cake later that week. Which he did, and he got.

Birthday Cake - Chocolate

So here it is…. The best quick fix cake….. or, is it a quick cake fix…. Or… forget it… just make it.

A Birthday Cake – Chocolate

[Adapted from http://www.marthastewart.com/334278/busy-day-chocolate-cake/]

1 ½ Cup of Flour
1 Cup of Sugar
3 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon of Salt
6 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
1 Tablespoon of Vinegar
1 Cup of Cold Water

Frosting

2/3 of Icing Sugar
6 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
3 Tablespoons of Butter
2-3 Tablespoon of Milk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line with parchment paper a 8X8 pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, mix together vegetable oil, vanilla, vinegar and cold water. Make a well in the flour mixture, and pour the liquid into the well. Mix with a spatula or a wooden spoon, until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 4o minutes, or until a tooth pick comes clean.   Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan, by lifting the parchment paper, or loosen the sides and flip over onto your hand, and flip back and place cake on rack, bottom side down.

Make frosting;

Sift icing sugar and cocoa powder into a small bowl. Cream in butter, until I starts to blend, Pour 2 of the 3 tablespoons of milk, and start to stir, it will create a really creamy frosting. Add milk as needed.

Spread on cake and enjoy

Monthly Things; March Edition

Monthly Things: March

I’m heading to Hawaii, tomorrow!! I can’t believe it’s finally here.

I soooo needed a vacation. I am finished with winter. Winter and I are not friends anymore!. I don’t usually mind winter, but seriously, enough already. I think my least favorite part of winter this year has been the salt. It’s everywhere and on everything.

But I’m not worrying about that right now, I’m soon heading out for 2 weeks of no work, no winter, no cold and NO SALT.

Enough rubbing it in.. I can do that in April things.

 before packing

I spent most of my month wrapping up work stuff and trying to decide what to pack. I hate not having my whole entire wardrobe with me at all times. In fact I’m pretty sure I brought it to our cruise a couple of years back. I know I was ridiculous, but at least there was no wining about how I wish I had packed that, or I forgot this. I think I struck good balance. I mean how can I go wrong with 5 pairs of shoes! I could have packed 10… trust me, its growth.

packingdone

So March was a blur, but I made this awesome Affogato (I’d never even heard of “Affogato” until I stumble onto a recipe), and I made this delicious oatmeal. I need to buy THIS book. Both these recipes are coming soon…. and oh ya, My challenge is over… 3 long months of clean eating. And after all that, I have decided (with the exception of Hawaii), that I’m going to try and adapt this into my daily life. Read about it under the clean eating menu.

 Birthday Cake - Chocolate-6

Despite the clean eating thing, I still indulge; especially with someone has a birthday!!! This cake, you guys! My sister sent me the link, its Mr.PBandO’s favorite cake. I think I have made it like 10 times in 3 months, and he demanded it for his birthday! It too will be coming soon, like tomorrow!!!   I figured I starved you for 3 months, let everyone one eat CAKE!

I found myself some new sites this month, and I also want to highlight a few I’ve been fallowing recently. You have to check out Slim Palate! its run by an Joshua, he is only 18. His photo’s are stunning, and although I don’t really agree or follow the paleo lifestyle, I do enjoy his recipes. Also stumbled on this little gem, its where I found the sweet potato brownies I posted earlier this month.  I’d like to give a shout out to this lady. Since clean eating, I have frequented her site a few times, great recipes.

You know pinterest … right. Of course you do. I mentioned the other day to a friend that I use it to pick out my outfits. I’ll type in a piece of clothing (ie black poka dot blouse) and BOOM. I have 20, 000 new outfit ideas. She was really impressed…. Other than new recipes, its all I use it for… what do you use pinterst for?

 Hawaii

 For Now… alaoha!!!!

Clean Eating Challenge; Week 11 and 12

Vintage-Hawaii-Ad

A few thoughts on this being “clean”.  This has been a great journey so far, and with Hawaii around the corner (2 Days!)  it was worth it!  I jotted down a few things about my healthy lifestyle journey so far.  I can see a difference, but more importantly I FEEL a difference.

Avocado-Pear Salad with Italian Dressing-5

I have come a long way from grade 8 track team. Which was the only athletic thing I ever did as a kid. As I moved into high school, I traded in my one time running career for hanging with friends and eating whatever I wanted. There was this on 2 week stretch that I was working at the mall and I ate a whopper every day for 2 weeks, it got to the point where I would have exact change, and the employees would see me coming and hand over the burger, no line required (I would skip the line) Why I never dropped dead of a heart attach..I don’t know

Youth, IT DOESN’T LAST.

book

I always wanted to be fit, but I never really felt like I had to , physically I was always thin.  I think it was somewhere in my early to mid 20’s  when I noticed a few things happening, that go along with aging.

  • Injured my back, and it wasn’t getting better
  • My stomach was in bad shape.  I felt like every second meal would actually cause me physical pain
  • Oh and all of a sudden I was fat, and no one told me

Like I said I really wanted to get healthy but I didn’t know where to start.  I had never been on any sports team, and I had never really had the need to “eat” healthy.  Like i said, I was always (until this point) naturally thin.  So i took a couple of running classes (yes they exist), I started some core training for my back  and I also went to a nutritionist.

lately, I have had a few epiphanies;

  • I can survive without sugar
  • I need to feed my body like an athlete, because apparently….. I am
  • I don’t need to be a perfectionist in my workouts (although I come pretty darn close)

And last but not least… my stepdaughter asked me recently “how long are you doing this for” I was just about to answer “3 months”, when I stopped and realized, I’m liking how I feel and look… so I answered. “forever”. Seriously guys, FOREVER.

organize

I realize that I sound crazy to some of you.. for example, the other day I suggested to a friend she should give up sugar, she looked at me like I had 3 heads, called me crazy and walked away. Funny thing, I would have, and did say the same thing just a few months ago. This just seems to be working for me. I still like to indulge (hence my once a week cheat meal), and I still love to bake.  You don’t need to starve or deprive yourself.  Its,as they say, everything in moderation.

fuelband

It took me several years and several different challenges to get to this point. My only regret, I wish I had done it sooner.

The BEST Granola Bars

Best Granola Bars-8

Right from the beginning of my clean eating challenge, I have been on the hunt for some tasty “clean” treats.

Best Granola Bars-3

One of the first things I attempted to make was granola bars. I mean how hard could it be, granola is already good for you and clean , right? Well…… I figured out very quickly it was not so easy.

 Best Granola Bars-5

Its true you are putting a lot of Clean and healthy things into it, but a good granola bar needs to stick together, and when your removing refined sugars from the mix, things tend to get , the opposite of sticky.

Best Granola Bars-6

I also realized that you must bake your granola! I mean you don’t HAVE to, but it sure makes this adhere together.

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I must have gone through a gazillion (like 4) different recipes before I found this one. You can totally change up the ingredients as you see fit, I even made a batch where I threw in ½ cup of puffed quinoa for ½ cup of the oatmeal. The important thing is to keep the ratios the same. If you want to use pecans instead of almonds, make sure you replace it with the same amount.

Best Granola Bars-9

If you’re not crazy and giving up refined sugars, you can even dip these in chocolate like the original recipe says to do.

Best Granola Bars

[Adapted from http://www.dollyandoatmeal.com/blog/2013/03/01/chocolate-dipped-granola-bars?rq=bars]

3 Cups of Oatmeal
¾ Cups of Dried Cranberries
¾ Cups of Dried Blueberries
¾ Cup of Shredded Un-Sweetened Coconut
½ Cup of Slivered Almond
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
½ Cup of Natural Smooth Peanut Butter
4 Tablespoons of ground Chia Seeds
½ Cup of Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1/3 Cup of Honey
3 Tablespoons of Orange Juice
½ Teaspoon of Vanilla

Line an 8X8 pan with parchment paper, make sure you use 2 pieces, and they drape over the sides of the pan, set aside. Pre Heat the oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, mix together oatmeal, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, coconut, almonds and cinnamon. In a small bowl, mix peanut butter, chia seeds, apple sauce, honey orange juice and vanilla together.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.

Gently pout the granola into the pan, trying not to move the parchment paper around. Gently, press the granola into the pan, until even. Once it’s in place, press it down even further.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently lift (using the parchment paper) the granola bars out of the pan, and place directly on the cooling rack. Allow to cool completely, before cutting.

I cut mine into 16 square pieces, with a sharp paring knife. I did this gently. Some pieces will break off, that’s ok, that’s just more for you to eat.

French Bread (For Real)

French Bread-6

I’d like to take a quick break from clean eating, to share with you the one food group, (yes I consider it a food group) BREAD. Let’s be honest, no one can resist the smell of fresh from the oven bread. It intoxicating,

French Bread

When I was visiting my sister out west, I was treated to some of the most amazing bread. Seriously, she makes some pretty awesome bread.   Bagels, buns, and she even make French bread. You know the kind, crusty on the outside, until you cut into it, and it’s all soft and spongy.

French Bread-2

I was so inspired that when I arrived home I googled, “how to make French bread at home”. I came across what is now one of my favorite sites.

French Bread-3

His name is chef john, and he is hilarious! When I say hilarious, I mean he is very PUNNY. Huh? Huh? Get it? Or course you do, I’m lucky if your still reading, if you are, you can just skip to the recipe.

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His quick wit and easy instructions make some of the most difficult recipes a breeze.  I’m not even joking. He actually makes baked Alaska, with a butane BBQ lighter…. Did I mention he’s Punny? Sorry I did it again….

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Just ignore me and make the bread

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French Bread

[Adapted by http://foodwishes.blogspot.ca/2013/10/perfect-french-baguette-at-home-only.html ]

¼ Teaspoon of Active Dry Yeast
1 ½ Cups of Water
1 ¾ Teaspoons of Salt
4 Cups of Flour

**Note: These instructions are my rough version. You need to Chef Johns site and watch the video. It really helps.

***Note2: This recipe can take 12 -14 hours.

Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray, set aside.

In another large bowl add yeast and water, and stir until dissolved, add the salt, then mix in all the flour. Stirring with a wooden spoon until it comes together. It will be super thick and sticky.

Gather it into a ball and place in the greased bowl from earlier. Cover with plastic and let rise for 12-14 hours, or double in size.

Once its double in size, tip the bowl onto a floured surface, and cut into 2 or four (idid 2), and shape into long baguette shapes, by rolling the dough between your hands.

Place the newly shaped baguettes onto a baking sheet, and cover loosely with plastic wrap and a dish cloth. Let this sit for about an hour.

Now the magic! Heat your oven to 550 degrees. You read that right. Fill a deep pan with water and place it in the oven. This will create humidity, which gives the bread that crispy outside.

While the oven is heating up and creating a bit of humidity, take a pair of kitchen scissors and cut slits in the top of the bread, making sure to push down any peaks the scissors have created. Give the loafs a quick spray with water… lightly.

Now you can pop the bread in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Give the bread a quick spray with water every 5 minutes, until 15 minutes are up.

Clean Eating Challenge; Week 9 and 10

We are entering the home stretch people. The journey so far has been an eye opening and enlightening experience. I always thought you healthy clean eaters were crazy, now I’m one of you … so does that make me crazier?!

fuelband

I chatted a bit about my workouts last week. So this week I thought I would chat to you about another really important part of working out. INJURY and RECOVERY.

I was lucky for the first 5-10 years of my running career.. (can I call it a career?)   I had absolutely not injuries or chronic pain of any type.   Heck, I didn’t even stretch. If anything my running and cross training helped me heal some cronic injuries. I actually started running an core training because of a chronic lower back injury. Now that I think of it, I started eating healthier because of a chronic stomach ailment…. But I digress

10 years rolled by without incident. Then when one day, while I was out for my daily 5 km run, it hit me!  This nagging pain in my left knee. So much so, that I had to stop running. For those of you who run on a regular basis, you know it had to hurt for me to STOP running.   I tried to ease off running a bit, I even started interval running (2 mins run, 1 min walk… ) but it just wasn’t getting better.   After a couple of weeks of complaining I must be to old to run, I sucked it up and visited 1 physio therapist, 1 message therapist and running coach. Yup, it took all 3 professionals to discover my hips are uneven! Oh, and I had a weak ass. Ya I said it.

equipment

It was suggested that I start stretching 5-10 mins after every workout and to increase my glute exercises in order to support my uneven hips. I also had to ease back into everything, really really slowly. It took almost 1 year to be back on track. Even to this day I still struggle with this injury and I imagine that I always will.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here, is know your pain limits. We are all guilty of running or working through pain, just so we can get that last mile in, of finish off our 30 min cross fit program. Its not worth it, especially if it means we have to take a long hiatus from exercise, or even worse, quit altogether.

shoes

I do not pretend to be at the level of some of the athletes I know, but even with the stuff I do, you can still sustain an injury. Working out is awesome, and can keep you healthy, just remember to listen to your body and give it rest when it needs it, know when to retire your running/cross fit shoes, get a massage, foam role and stretch! Be nice to your body and it will be nice to you.

Sweet Potato Brownies

Sweet Potato Brownies-5

I’m having one of those days, for the last couple of days. You know the ones? Right? At every turn something either goes wrong, or breaks, or spills, or… you get the picture

 Sweet Potato Brownies

Take yesterday; I’m prepping salad dressing for dinner. I have carefully added all the ingredients into my salad dressing bottle, I screw on the top and give it shake. Not a sissy, back and forth shake, I real vigorous shake. Dressing EVERYWHERE!!!, My trusty lid, has a pop top, it wasn’t closed.

 Sweet Potato Brownies-3

I clean that up, stroll out to the garage to let Mr.PBandO know its dinner, and grab an iced tea. I hit my head opening the door (yes I opened the door and hit MYSELF in the head), drop the can of iced tea, which when I pick it up, now has a small hole in it, and it sprays me right in the face.

 Sweet Potato Brownies-2

Then I woke up this morning with a huge charlie horse, or should I say flew out of bed with a charlie horse. I don’t have to tell you how much that hurts. Get to work, and 2 of the environments go down (shout out to my colleges who made it all better)

Sweet Potato Brownies-4

Get home, just about to start dinner, when I drop completely full jar of the LAST of my red pepper flakes on the floor and it shatters. I proceed to clean all of shattered glass up, find a new spice to cook with, and step in the only piece I didn’t clean up. Then I spent about 20 minutes, taking said piece of glass out of the bottom of my foot.

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At this point, all I can do is laugh… and eat brownies. These brownies!

Sweet Potato Brownies

[Adapted from http://laurasmess.me/2015/01/15/sweet-potato-and-cacao-brownies/%5D

4 Cups of Cooked Mashed Potato
¼ Cup Coconut Oil, Melted Then Measured
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
1/3 Cup of Honey
3 Tablespoons of Coconut Flour
½ Cup of Cacao Powder
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
½ Cup Chopped 85% (or higher) Chocolate

Peel and cut up 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, and place in a pot filled with water. Bring water to a boil and turn down the heat medium and let simmer for 15 mins., or until the sweet potato is tender when poked with a fork. Drain the water out. Using a hand blender, whip the sweet potatoes for 20 seconds, don’t over whip. Set aside and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

While the sweet potato is cooling, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper, so it hangs over the edge.

Melt coconut oil (I did mine in the microwave) and measure out ¼ cup. Place the melted coconut oil, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk until eggs are slightly beaten. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, along with the cooled sweet potato. Mix until just blended.

Pour into the prepared pan. Do this slowly and spread it out with the back of a spoon or a cake spatula.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

NOTE: I placed these in the fridge for an hour and they tasted so much better than at room temperature.

Salmon With Dill Sauce over Carrots and Rice

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I hated salmon growing up.  Actually I hated all fish; they just seem to taste fishy!?

Salmon and Dill Sauce

It’s funny how we hang on to old ideas of food from our childhood.  Even in my 20’s, I was all like “I don’t like fish”.  Then one day I was reading about how salmon had all these great properties, omega 3, low in fat, so I decided to give it another chance.

 Salmon and Dill Sauce-5

Guess what, turns out I don’t hate salmon, or fish for that matter.  I wasted all that time avoiding something my 8 year old self-proclaimed to hate, all those years ago.

 Salmon and Dill Sauce-3

Since then I have been re-trying things that I supposedly hate.  Even today I find I’m rediscovering foods that I “hate”.   Quite recently (like a month ago) we were sitting at our favorite Italian restaurant, starving!!!!  All they had on the table was bread (not clean) and these little black olives.  I “hate” olives.  Remember I was starving, so I ate one, 10 olives later… I don’t hate them.

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SO the next time you catch yourself proclaiming you hate a certain food, stop and think why you’re saying that.  And unless the site or smell or a recent encounter has you gaging, try it again, you may actually love it.

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And if you’re not sure (like I was about salmon) put a yummy sauce all over it!

 Salmon and Dill Sauce-6

Rice and Carrots

1 Cup of Brown Basmati Rice
1 Cup of low (or no) Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Cups of Cut up Carrots

Sauce

1/3 Cup of Sour Cream
2 Tablespoons of Agave Nectar (or Maple Syrup)
1 Tablespoon of Mustard
1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon of Lemon Zest
1 Teaspoon of Dill (dried)

Salmon

4 6ounce Salmon Fillets
½ Teaspoon of Salt and Pepper

 

In a medium pot, bring to boil the chicken stock and ½ cup of water.  Add rice and carrots.  Cook for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk all the sauce ingredients together, and place in the fridge until salmon is dead.

When there is 15b minutes left on the rice, grease a baking sheet, set aside.  Pat dry the salmon, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Place on the prepared baking sheet.  Set the oven to broiler.  Place the salmon about 6 inches from the top of the oven and bake 8 minutes, flipping half way through.

Serve over rice and drizzle the sauce on top… or put a big blob on your fish like I did.

Monthly Things; February Edition

Monthly Things:  February

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Lets start with Valentines.  I received this wonderful homemade valentine in the mail from my nephew.  BEST VELENTINE EVER!!  Love you William!  I also received some beautiful roses.  Thanks hun!

valentines

Holy Crap Its March!  You know what that means?!?!?  One month until Hawaii!  I. CAN’T. WAIT!  In true Ross Geller fashion, Could I USE any more exclamation points?

This trip has been 3 years in the making, and we haven’t really had any major vacations in that time.  I’ve visited my sister out west and Mr. PBandO had attended his annual fishing trip in northern Edmonton, but other than that, we have been staycationing it.  Working on the back yard and such.

I’m going to try my best to take some good pics, but honestly, over the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to actually enjoy the moment, not capture it.  Ever since I barley caught a glimpse of Prince William and his beautiful wife Kate, trying to take a picture of them.  I waited 2 hours in the heat pressed up against a barrier (almost got in  a fight over my spot) to just barely get a glimpse of them, cause I was too busy trying to take  a picture, which I never got.

So February, other than the fact that it was gone as soon as it came, we managed to enjoy it.

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I got my annual skate on the canal in at the beginning of the month, and Mr.PBandO came with!  The winter got away from us last year, and I ended up doing a skate on my own, in the dark.  I had fun.  If your ever in capitol of Canada (Ottawa, not Toronto), in the winter, you need to soak up this wonderful winter tradition, and grab a beaver tail while you’re at it!

I also attended a baby shower for one of my oldest friends (since 5th grade, when she pulled my hair).  Our good friend Colleen put it together with her Sister Louisa, great job girls.  This is my friends 2nd baby, and it’s another boy.  I love buying little boy things Congrats Josie, good luck.

baby shower

Peanut Butter Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These are so not clean, but sometimes a girl needs a cookie, like a real honest to goodness, white flour, brown sugar, chocolate chip cookie!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter oatmeal

I also want to take a moment to remind anyone following me in my 3 month clean eating challenge, there is room for treats.  And in case you were worried Mr.PBandO has been suffering through this, he’s not.  I’ve been providing him with treats just like these… and a couple of chocolate cakes.  In fact, I’d say I’ve been feeling extra guilty with this challenge and he’s been seeing mare baking just for him.  I think what I like most about these cookies, is they are 3 cookies in one!  You have your peanut butter, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies, all rolled in to one.

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I mean really, if I’m going to indulge, I might as well squeeze as much yummy stuff into one cookie as I can.

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To be honest, If you look closely these aren’t even that bad., and they are totally Mr.PBandO approved, which means he won’t share with anyone!  That’s saying a lot!

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Peanut Butter, Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies

[Adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks Crazy Plates]

1 Cup of Flour
¼ Cup of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 Cup of Quick Oats
½ Teaspoon of Baking Soda
½  Teaspoon of Salt
¾ Cup of Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup of Butter
1/3  Cup of Smooth Natural Peanut Butter
¼ Cup of 1 % Buttermilk
1/3 Cup of Chocolate Chips

Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.  Or you can use a silicon baking mat… I highly recommend it.

In a medium bowl mix the first 5 ingredients, until combined.

In a Large bowl, cream together, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter.  Mix the buttermilk in.

Slowly add the flour mixture into the large bowl with the creamed butters and sugar.  Mix in chocolate chips.

Roll out the dough into 2 tablespoon size balls.  Place on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.   Flatten with a fork dipped in water.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Cool the baking sheet on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.  Transfer the cookies to the cooling rack tpo cool completely.

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup

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OMG she is showing us another soup.  Contrary to this blog, I do eat other things… things like doughnuts.

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But this soup, seriously guys!  It’s awesome, like beyond your normal awesome, maybe even epic.  My pictures are so not doing it justice.

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My journey to this soup started while I was shopping on amazon for a couple of new cookbooks. You know once you select a few items, it starts to suggest items for you, the Thug Kitchen came up for me.

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So I goggled it, and came across their web site.  Let’s just say you’re not going to let you kids hang out on this site.  Their approach to recipe writing is…. Um…. Well if it was a movie it would be 18 +.

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So make this… really, and then make some doughnuts, cause it’s all I’m offering up!

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup

[Adapted from http://www.thugkitchen.com/roasted_tomato_soup]

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Can of No Sodium Whole Tomatoes (28 Ounces)
5 Garlic Cloves, Un-skinned
1 Potato, Peeled and Cut into 1 Inch Cubes
1 Small Head of Cauliflower, Cut into Small Chunks
1 Small Onion, Chopped
1 Teaspoon each of Dried Thyme and Rosemary
½ Teaspoon of Salt and Pepper
2 ½ Cups of No Sodium Chicken Broth

Pre-Heat oven to 325 degrees, and grease a baking pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and set aside.

Drain the can of tomatoes, and save the juice.  Transfer the tomatoes to one side of the prepared baking sheet and roast for 30 min.  In a large bowl add the potatoes, cauliflower and onions, with the remaining olive oil, thyme and rosemary.  Mix it up and add to the baking sheet.  Leave room for the garlic. Sprinkle the salt and pepper. Roast with the tomatoes for 40 mins, or until the cauliflower is slightly brown.

Remove from oven.  Squeeze the garlic from their skin. Add everything to a blender including the chicken broth and reserved tomato juice.  Blend it up really good, and warm up in a medium pot over medium heat.  EAT ALL THE SOUP, that way you don’t have to share.

Clean Eating Challenge: Week 5 and 6

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Still going strong!……ish.  

I think I finally adjusted to the lack of sugar in my coffee.  You have to understand this is was a huge sacrifice.  I loved my 6 teaspoons of sugar in my coffee.  I will say this, I’m a little pickier with my coffee.  I heard, (and ignored in the past) that to truly enjoy a good coffee, you’re not supposed to add anything to it.  I’m half way there, I still enjoy a bit of milk/cream. 

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How I’m feeling, and what I’ve learned.

I’m feeling pretty good.  I mentioned that in week 3and 4 that I was struggling a bit.  I chalked it up to not taking advantage of my cheat meals.  It helps a lot, but I’m missing the simplicity of my junk food.  That’s why planning is key.    I’m also noticing a difference in my abs.  Like I have them, or like I always did, but now I can see them.  And I like to say like… a lot.

Pre-minced garlic is not clean!  I guess this is not a shocking revelation, but I was using up until week 5.  I’ve been reading a lot of labels lately, but it never occurred to me to read my insanely large jar of minced garlic label.  I was making a batch of this salad dressing and it occurred to n=me, that a jar that big has to have something in it to make it fresh for so long.  YUP, one more thing I have to do by hand.

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What do I eat.  If my blog is any indication, all I eat is soup and doughnuts

Snacks

  • Red pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Celery with hummus
  • Pears with almond butter
  • Greek yogurt
  • Frozen fruit (fav blueberries)
  • Oatmeal (plain with fruit)
  • Oranges ( when Mr. PB and O peals them)
  • Apple slices (need to eat this more)
  • Almonds or pistachios you can eat 2X pistachios
  • POPCORN
  • Cottage Cheese

Breakfasts

  • Granola bars (homemade)
  • Frozen Fruit with Greek yogurt
  • Plain Oatmeal with fruit
  • Hard Boiled eggs

Simple Lunches and Dinners

  • Avocado toast (ala Jessica’s cookbook)
  • Cocoanut brown basmati rice and mangos
  • Ricotta cheese on whole grain toast with roasted cherry tomatoes
  • Scrambled eggs with cheese, on whole grain toast with roasted asparagus and cherry tomatoes
  • Sweet Potato shepherd’s pie with ground turkey
  • Lots and lots of salads, usually topped with chicken, goat cheese, pecans, cucumber, and red peppers.

Going forward.

I’m feeling pretty good about my food choices, and my portions.  I have been concentrating on healthy replacements for my junk food.  This is a good thing, I mean when I girl needs a cookie, she needs a cookie, so having fresh baked “clean” cookies and no preservative chip options are a must.  But I need to remember that fruits and veggies and healthy fats and proteins, curb hunger as well.

Inside-Out Peanut Butter Cups

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Here they are! I posted a picture of these little beauties on Facebook and Instagram, and have had a few requests for the recipe.

Inside-out Peanutbutter Cups

These have saved my life! Or someone else’s life. When I was on the brink of despair and jonesing (do people still say that) for something sweet, I just reached for one of these, and crisis averted.

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Don’t get me wrong these are not as healthy as an orange but sometimes an orange just doesn’t cut it. Besides, I would have to find someone to peel the orange for me (I HATE the smell of orange peels ). MR.PBandO isn’t always around, and with the dogs not having opposable thumbs and all, they are kind of useless in that department.

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This made 10 peanut butter cups, and I cut them into quarters and put them in a container in the freezer (as per Ashley’s suggestion). That’s 40 pieces of deliciousness!

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Side note; I gave one to Mr.PBandO, and you’d think I fed him rotten dirt. Don’t take his word for it though, they are awesome. They are actually really sweet (hello dates, natures sugar!), so I don’t find I want more that ½ of one at a time. They hit the spot and cure my sweet tooth.

Inside-Out Peanut Butter Cups

[Adapted from http://www.edibleperspective.com/home/2014/4/14/5-ingredient-inside-out-peanut-butter-cups.html%5D

1 Cup of Creamy Natural Peanut Butter
½ of Coconut Oil
3 Tablespoons of Palm Sugar, Sifted (Coconut Sugar)
10 Medjool Dates, Soaked, Pitted and Chopped
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder

Line 10 -12 muffin tins with large paper liners, set aside. In a medium bowl, soak dates for 15-20 minutes. This helps to not break you food processor, or mini chopper, unless you have invested in a kick ass food processor.

While the dates are a soakin, heat the peanut butter and coconut oil in a small sauce pan.   Once heated through, remove from the heat.   Spoon the melted peanut butter into the lined muffin tins, to about ¼ of the way. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, or until its pretty solid.

While the peanut butter is in the freezer,drain your dates, and pit and chop them. Place them in a chopper, or food processor, along with the cocoa powder, and pulse, until it forms a paste.   I had to scrap down the sides a few times.

Remove the muffin tins from the freezer.   Take about a teaspoon of the date mixture, and flatten it into a disc shape, place on top of the hardened peanut butter (this part was messy). There should be about a 1/8-1/4 of an inch of peanut butter still showing. Spoon the heated peanut butter ( I hate to re-heat mine a bit) over top the dates, until its just covered. Pop back into the freezer for about 20 mins.

Ashley suggested cutting them into ¼ pieces and keeping them in a container in the freezer. I did this, and they have been an awesome sweet treat to pop I my mouth, when I have a craving. You should keep them in the freezer regardless, or they will melt.

Avocado and Pear Salad with Italian Dressing

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I just had one of those amazing winter wonderland walks. You know the ones. The temperature is just below freezing, the snow is falling really slow, and you have this incredible urge to jump in the snow and make a snow angel.

Avocado-Pear Salad with Italian Dressing

I haven’t had one of those walks at all this year.   It’s been too darn cold. I know , I know, I live in Ottawa and it is Winter. But sometimes a girl needs some good winter walking weather.

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It totally reminded me when I would go out for a walk with my dog Earnie, and I’d bring my magic carpet, just in case there was no one on the local sled hill. If I was lucky and there was no one around, I would jump on my crazy carpet and fly down the hill, with Earnie in tow, barking and hopping around me the whole way down. It’s no wonder I didn’t run him over.

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Then I’d see the neighborhood kids approaching, and I’d continue on my walk. You might be wondering why I was “hiding” my sledding adventures. It might have something to do with the fact that I was 25.

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Alas there are no good sledding hills around me these days, so I’ll have to settle for a few snow angels.

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Oh ya, and here is the most amazing salad I’ve been devouring lately. I actually don’t like salad, but this one I can’t get enough of. This dressing is now my favorite. I had to make my own since the store bought isn’t “Clean” and I was surprised how easy it was to throw together.

 

Italian Dressing

6 Tablespoons of olive Oil
4 Tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon of Minced Garlic
2 Teaspoons of Mustard
2 Teaspoons of Honey
1 Teaspoon of Italian Seasoning ( I used Club House)
¼ Teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
½ Teaspoons Each of Salt and Pepper

In a re-sealable container, add all the ingredients and shake before using. That’s it! Put in an air tight container in the fridge, for 5 days.

Avocado Pear Salad

1 Ripe Avocado
1 Ripe Pear
6 Cups of Mixed Greens
¼ Cup of Dried Cranberries
¼ Cup of Chopped Pecans
2-4 Tablespoons of Goat Cheese, Crumbled

Add mixed greens into a large salad bowl. Cut up the avocado and pear into bite size pieces, and sprinkle over mixed greens. Top with pecans, cranberries, and goat cheese. Drizzle homemade Italian dressing on top, mix and server!

Clean Eating: Week 3 and 4

I decided to combine 2 weeks of updates at a time. I mean there’s only so much updating and wining you can listen to.   Just to keep up, I am mid-week 5 currently; this is a recap of Week 3 and 4:

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How I was feeling and what I discovered:

I actually found week 4 to be a bit of a struggle. I was really hungry. I managed to stay on track, but I really understand the importance of a cheat meal. For me and I’m sure others starting out, it really helps you keep on track. It’s when you deprive yourself of things, that you start to binge.

I actually skipped my cheat meal week 3, not really a good choice and probably the reason I struggled so much. Don’t worry I made up for it in week 4. We went out on the Sat (start of week 4) to our most favorite wood oven pizza restaurant. I had the special which was a chicken avocado, mango salsa and parsley pizza with brie. The flavor combo was awesome, and to be honest, if it wasn’t for the wheat crust, it was pretty clean, so I ordered dessert.

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I have been (as always) been experimenting with baking. Ashley has been my go to blogger for recipes lately.

Things to work on:

Keeping up with the healthy snacks. I need to keep on top of the fruits and veggies for snacks. I have a tendency to lean on my sweet treats. Even though they are super yummy and clean, I cannot forget all the good things that fruit and veggies give you. I also want to make sure I’m elating a protein and good carbs at every meal.

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BTW my clothes are fitting better, already!

 

Monthly Things: January

If you follow me, or dropped by in the last 31 days, my month has been consumed with my new clean eating challenge. When I say all consuming, I mean ALL CONSUMING! There is a link to the deets at the top menu…. Did I just say deets? Is that a word? Never mind.

papertowel

Do you recycle your toilet paper rolls? We re-use them… as dog toys. Maggie will take a toilet paper roll over a squeaky toy any day….. weirdo.

Here a few things I saw or heard or smelt… scratch the last one. Let’s all watch this video. It’s an extreme view on how texts can be miss-read. These guys are hilarious!

Mid-month I was listening to the radio and they were talking about a show of sorts at our local theater. It’s was a showing of Singing in the rain, except the entire score was played by a live orchestra. Can you imagine the complexity? I’m really sad I missed out.

SO happy to have my regularly scheduled programming back. Madame Secretary is still not disappointing me. I’m glad to have my Sherlock fix, with the return of Elementary.   Still upset I have to wait FOREVER for the British version to come back. What are you watching?

This is a little sad guys. I have actually suggested to my step-daughter to read a book…. Wait for it…. To help her fall asleep. I obviously have not read anything good in so long, I’m starting to recommend books as a sleep aid. Help me!

cherrios buddy

I have the biggest mooching dogs ever. If I have food, they are lurking… exhibit A above.

A few sites that I’ve been obsessed with:

http://www.simplebites.net/ ** Amy’s cook book comes out on Feb 10th, excited!

http://www.edibleperspective.com/ ** Ashley’s book is a must buy!

http://londonbakes.com/

http://minimalistbaker.com/

http://ohsheglows.com/

Next time you see a skinny person, remember skinny people have feeling too. I know my sisters and I could relate to this when we were younger, especially number 7 and 9.  I don’t have that problem anymore!

salad

This is what I have been eating lately… I know .. I hate salad, but this one doesn’t totally suck… on the blog soon.

Maple Doughnuts – Gluten Free

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I’ve decided to skip my weekly update of my clean eating challenge this week. I mean really, how much can you really listen to me go on and on about my super crazy, healthy eating challenge. I figured I’d combine week 3 and 4 updates next week.

Maple Doughnuts-3

It’s not that I don’t have anything to tell you, It’s just my motivation has hit a wall. I was totally anticipating this. If I’m anything its self-aware, and when I decided to “eat clean”, I knew myself well enough to know I’d start getting cranky around week 3-4. Years ago I saw a nutritionist about my IBS. I was so excited to try out every piece of advice she had for me. She asked me to give up Dairy, wheat and sugar. So I did, ALL AT ONCE. By the end of week 3, I found myself standing in the grocery store wondering what the hell to buy, and wanting to cry.

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Motivation is a powerful thing, but perseverance is what gets us through. I learned a few valuable lessons that day melting down in the middle of the grocery store.

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Here are a few simple things I do to keep me going

  • Allow yourself a cheat meal, once a week. Even if you don’t think you need it! Trust me all of sudden you’re in the drive through at McDonalds ordering 10 happy meals. I find if you allow yourself to indulge, you tend not to overdo it.
  • Plan the hell out of your food. Seriously! I prep all my snacks and some meals on the weekend. It helps me get past those days I just want to eat cookies for dinner. If I have a few already prepared meals, all I have to do is pop them in the oven. Also if all my snacks are portioned out, it’s less work. DON’T give yourself excuses to give up.
  • This goes with point 2. When you’re planning your meals and snacks, have options. One day have a pear with almond butter, the next day, red pepper slices with cottage cheese. Have fun with it, seriously! Try something you’ve never tried. The internet is your friend in this department.
  • Warn tell your friends and family what you’re doing. People tend to be a little more understanding when you bite their head off, when they know you’ve been starving eating healthier. They want you to succeed (or at least they should).
  • You will see results. When I first started eating healthy a few years back, it was tough to stay motivated, and push past those days you just want to give up.   But I finally got there, and guess what, I looked and felt better.
  • You can make almost anything into a habit. For me it takes 6 weeks, you may be different. I replaced sugar with fruit in my oatmeal. After 6 weeks it didn’t taste so much like warm cardboard anymore, and I have never looked back.

Maple Doughnuts-4

I am no Jillian Michaels, and eating healthy can be challenging. I have fallen off the wagon/horse a thousand times. The important thing is, I keep getting on. It doesn’t make me a failure, it makes me human. Funny thing is….. it gets easier every time I climb back up.

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Enough of my motivational blabber, make these! These are another wonderful recipe from Ashley’s Book, “Baked Doughnuts for Everyone” Its technically a cheat meal, but only if you put the glaze on them… totally worth it.

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[Adapted from Ashley’s Awesome book!!!]

Maple Doughnuts – Gluten Free

½ Cup of Oat Flour
½ Cup of Sweet Rice Flour
3 Tablespoons of Ground Almond
2 Tablespoons of Cane Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Cinnamon
2 Eggs
1/3 Cup of Milk
1/3 Cup of Unsweetened Apple Sauce
3 ½ Tablespoons of Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla

Maple Glaze

1 Cup of Powdered Sugar
¼ Cup of Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons of Milk (maybe 1 more tablespoon)

Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease your doughnut pan, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the oat and sweet rice flour with the ground almond, cane sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, apple sauce, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Be careful not to over mix the batter. It’s just like muffin mix, if you over mix it, they will be tough.

Spoon batter until there is ¼ inch of space at the top of the doughnut mold. Bake for 22 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool in the doughnut pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the doughnuts from the pan with a soft spatula, and allow to cool completely.

Glaze

Sift powdered sugar, into a medium bowl. Drizzle the maple syrup, and mix until combined. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the right consistency.

Slow Cooker Indian Carrot Soup

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I was never a soup person growing up. Sure I ate the odd chicken noodle when I was sick, or the classic tomato soup (with grilled cheese). This one time I fell in love with pea (green pea) soup and I asked my mom, no I begged my mom to make it ALL the time and she did. Then after 2 weeks of constant pea soup, I never ate another bowl for 20 years. She killed pea soup, like that song you download to your phone or iPod, and you play it until the words have no meaning and is the most boring song in the world, killed it.

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In her defense, her child was asking for a vegetable, even if it was in soup form.  So other than the 2 weeks back in 1980 something when I gorged myself with pea soup, I wasn’t too excited for soup.

Indian Carrot Soup

Then a few years back, I had this friend whose grandmother was famous for her soup. I was all like “ who’s famous for soup? Except for that Seinfeld guy. “  Well let me tell you! I was a soup convert. I couldn’t believe that much flavor could be packed into a hot bowl of liquid. I have forever been trying to re-create that kind of flavor punch into all my homemade soup.

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I have had some failures, and successes, this is definitely one of them. Its packed full of flavor and it’s a stick to your ribs kinda of winter soup.   Make it! Eat it! And warm up!

Slow-Cooker Indian Carrot Soup

[Adapted from http://www.canadianliving.com/food/indian_spiced_carrot_soup.php]

4 Cups of Diced Carrots
2 Onions, Chopped
2 Celery, Chopped
1 Cup of Lentils (I had Orange on hand)
1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic, about 2 Cloves
1 Teaspoon each of Cumin, Turmeric, and Chili Powder
½ Teaspoon each of Salt and Pepper
¼ Teaspoon of All Spice
2 ½ Cups of low-sodium Chicken Broth
2 ½ Cups of Water

Plug in your slow cooker, and dump all the ingredients in and give it a stir. Put you cooker on low (8 hours).

You can speed it up, by setting your slow cooker to 4-5 hours, but longer is bester…. I mean bestest, I mean… you know what I mean.

After it done cooking, puree in a blender, and server!

Clean Eating: Week Two

Week two
So week 2 started off pretty good. I’m actually finding this change not so bad. It’s totally making me wonder if this is the calm before the storm. I remember in the summer thinking I didn’t know if I could give up sugar, never mind clean eating for 3 months. We’ll see if in a couple weeks if I’m hiding in a closet with a box of doughnuts. Below are a few things I discovered or learned and how I was feeling

– Greek yogurt isn’t so bad, as long as I put equal parts fruit in it. It still tastes like sour cream to me.
– Organization is key! I’m already pretty organized, I’m a big meal planner. Now I also pre-package snacks, for on-the-go
organize
– Big discovery this week. When you cut out all the processed foods in your life, you cut out a wack of sodium. I’ve been feeling really tired lately, so a friend suggested this app, call myfitnesspal. It allows you to track all your food intake and breaks it down, so you can see what you’re missing or what you need to cut back on. Apparently I’m taking in 500 – 600 mg of sodium a day. Ummm pretty sure I need even more than the recommended 2000mg a day. I do 30 min of weight training, then a 5km run, and then a 30 min dog walk… 5 days a week.
– Avocado toast: Yes I am the last person to discover this. I AM ADDICTED.

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What to work on:
– More sodium. Funny when you google how to increase your sodium, you don’t find a lot. Everyone is cutting back these days. So I tried how to replenish electrolytes, found a ton more suggestions. I’ll be increasing my cottage cheese, and looking for some after workout smoothies.
– The one part of clean eating I haven’t been concentrating on is the including protein/carb/fat into every meal. This and sodium will be my focus.
Remember people, this is a journey, I’m learning. If you see something I’m missing of something, I’m doing wrong, please feel free to correct me.

Here is one of the members of my support team.

monster

Baked Steel-Cut Oats (with peaches!)

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I meant to post this yesterday as penance for the insanely  wordy post I posted Tuesday, but I thought I would let that post digest with you guys for an extra day.

Baked Steel-Cut Oats - With Peaches-2

So today we forget about clean eating, but still keep it in the back of our minds.  I know it’s like that line in 40Days and 40 nights with Josh Hartnett (wear did he go!)  When his date says “ It’s like If someone told you not to think of the color red, then all you can think of is the color RED!”

Baked Steel-Cut Oats - With Peaches

But seriously, I’m always conscious of it, I’m just not consumed by it.  I’m also surprised how many “Clean Eating” meals out there I already eat.  Like this one, or the one I posted 2 Christmas’s ago (enter link to overnight oats) While this one is slightly altered to fit in with clean eating, it wasn’t much of a stretch.

Baked Steel-Cut Oats - With Peaches-3

Steel-Cut Oats is one of the good whole grains, and while it takes a while to make, sometimes slowing down, isn’t a bad thing.

Baked Steel-Cut Oats - With Peaches-4

Whether or not you’ve jumped on the healthy band wagon or not, you could easily get into this oatmeal, on a chilly Sunday morning.  I know I will.

Baked Steel-Cut Oats - With Peaches-7

Baked Steel-cut Oats with Peaches

2 Cups of Boiling Water
½ Tablespoon of Butter
1 Cup of Steel-Cut Oats
½ Teaspoon of Salt
1 ½ Cups of 2% milk
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
2 Cups of Peeled and Cut Peaches (or your choice of fruit)

Toppings (Optional)

More Cut up Peaches (or your choice of fruit)
1 Teaspoon of Maple Syrup, Cocoanut Sugar, or your choice of un-refined sugar
Sprinkle of Cinnamon (don’t use too much, maybe ¼ teaspoon), or chia seeds
Splash of Milk or Dollop of Greek Yogurt for protein
A few pecans….  This list could go on and on and on

Pre-Heat Oven to 375 degrees, grease a 9X12 baking dish, and set aside

Boil water, make sure you start with more that 2 cups, you will lose some of it to evaporations.  While water is boiling, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, add oats and stir until brown, about 3-4 minutes.   Measure 2 cups of the boiling water and add it to the skillet.  Now add salt, cinnamon, milk and peaches. Give it a stir, until its combined.

Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish, bake for 1 hour.  Take a peak at 45 minutes to see where its at.

Remove from oven.  Allow it to cool for a couple of minutes, then spoon into a bowls.  Top with more fruit, some unrefined sugar, cause ya miss the real thing, and sprinkle with cinnamon and pecans, and some milk… or whatever!

Clean Eating

My clean eating journey, I mean challenge, I mean journey… I mean that time I went crazy and cut out all the delicious food.

lets do this!

What I’m doing…. Or what I think I’m doing

As of Jan 1st, I set out to “eat clean”, or as close as I could get to it.  I was determined to stick to a pretty strict way of eating.  Notice I didn’t call it a diet?  It’s supposed to be a way of life, not a diet.  Right from the beginning I knew I was not going to go completely clean.  I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with such a huge change all at once, and I knew I would end up eating things I wasn’t supposed to, and cutting out things I didn’t need to.  This is going to be a learning experience as I go.  I am allowing myself one cheat meal a week, for sanity sake, It’s either that or tackling my co-workers as they leave the lunch room.

Why the heck would I torture myself this way? And how long will it last?

Like I said above, this is not a diet, it’s a way of life, but I’m going to commit to 3 whole months.  After that, we’ll see.  Let’s be honest, I run a food blog, one that frequents cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and all sorts of baked goods.  THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF CLEAN EATING.  So why, why, why!   For one, I’m constantly looking for ways to challenge myself.   In the summer, I went gluten free for a month, and I restricted eating after 7pm in Sept.. my snacking time!!  Then I saw that Lindsay and Bjork gave up sugar for 2 months.  I thought, I can do that, and it will be a great challenge.  I didn’t want to kick off the challenge around national baking season (Christmas), so I decided to start Jan 1st…. I know, what a cliché!  And the second reason, we are heading to Hawaii in a couple of months and I want to look my best.

Sunset Beach Hawaii

About me

A little bit about me before the challenge;  I’m 37 years old, about 5’7” and I’m guessing I weigh about 130lbs. I say guess because I do not weigh myself.  I haven’t in years, like 15 years!  I figure I’m not over- weight, so I see no reason to obsess over a number.  Wow, that was a lot of personal information!  But, we’re like best friends, right?

My Nutrition knowledge going into this… I ain’t no dummy

It’s true, I know stuff, like white bread is not good and whole wheat bread better, but whole grain bread is best.  What I didn’t know is what whole grain meant (CLEAN EATING).  Essentially, it’s a grain that has not been altered.  It’s in its whole state.  Where did I pick up some of my knowledge?   The internet, for one, and I used to go to a nutritionist in an attempt to correct a digestive issue I have (IBS).

What clean eating meant for me when I started

There is about a million different takes on clean eating.  You have to decide what works best for you!   For me, I started off trying to eat food as close to its natural state.  Here are a couple of rules I followed.  Be warned!  I made a few mistakes here, and I figured it out in my first week:

  • Fresh veggies and fruits
  • Lean cuts of meats:  Mostly chicken and turkey, no red meats, or very little
  • Nuts (almonds, pecans, pistachios…)
  • Cottage Cheese (no other cheeses)
  • Greek Yogurt, not regular
  • If buying packaged foods, they must be whole foods, and the ingredients list must be 5-10 at most, I must also be able to pronounce and identify all ingredients in the list
  • No Sugar, like none, not even Honey.
  • No potatoes, white rice, white bread, or any bread for that matter.

I know what you’re thinking; there are a few things wrong on my list… I know, I get there in week one.

Week one (how I felt, and some discoveries)

NOTE: I promise I’ll post a recipe tomorrow for making you read a million and one words and it won’t suck!

Going into week one, I was excited!  You always are when you start a challenge.  I was riding high on a wave of confidence, determination and motivation.  The only thing I missed this week was sugar in my coffee!  I really had to plan ahead, but meal planning is my thing, clean eating is not. Still, I managed to muddle through ok.  I also pre-packaged some snacks.  So if I knew I was going to be out and about for more than 3 hours, I had a few clean snacks to munch on… not a cheese burger!

Here we go…. The mistakes, discoveries, wins and fails:

  • Potatoes are in.  There is more potassium in a skin on potato than a banana, they’re in!
  • I took a sip of sugar filled coffee – not my fault, I asked for 2 milk, I got 2 milk and 2 sugars, I also threw it out after that sip, so I’m calling this a win, not a fail!
  • I ate 4 slices of sliced turkey breast for lunch one day.  Seriously didn’t even think of the fact that it was processed.  Mr. PBandO pointed it out… I googled it, he was right… as usual   **MrPBandO edits my blog, I wonder who put that in?!?!?
  • I omitted all sugars, even the unrefined, like honey, agave nectar and coconut sugar.  Turns out, unrefined sugars are in, THANK GOD!  My list of sweet snacks has tripled!
  • Left over processed foods:  for 2 days I was still eating my Kashi bars.  I made some homemade granola bars to replace them, also I was still drinking chocolate milk after a workout, read the label, lots of sugar, OUT!
  • I ate some cheese, and then looked it up and its fine.  But it has to be full fat cheese…. I’m not crying of this one.
  • I switched from regular yogurt to greek, except, it had sugar, no wonder it tasted good.  I added some fruit, I’m choking it back with my sugar free coffee.

granola bars

How am I feeling?

  • Tired, pretty sure that’s me coming off 2 weeks of holidays, but someone suggested I might be low on sodium.  That makes me think that maybe I should track my food, and make sure I’m not cutting out something I need.
  • Over all I’m still motivated, especially because my desserts are about to triple!  Joke… maybe.

Doughnuts (Gluten Free)

I’m such a cliché!

Doughnuts (Gluten Free)-9I swear I didn’t intend on being a cliché. You know in the summer how I challenged myself to go gluten free for one month? Well I did….. It was in an effort to broaden my culinary horizons at home and while eating out.

Doughnuts (Gluten Free)13It totally worked. I learned so much about gluten free baking, and was so surprised at how many restaurants cater to gluten free eating, or at least gluten friendly eating. After that I wanted to give up something even more difficult.   I considered sugar, but then the holidays showed up, and come on….. no sugar, means no Christmas… at least in my world. So I shelved the new challenge idea.

Doughnuts (Gluten Free)-3Like everyone else in the entire world, I indulged over the holidays, not overly, but just enough to make me want to take that challenge off the shelf and add a few extras. So for someone who never makes New Year’s resolutions, I am now not only sugar free, but also gluten free, process food free, ad white rice and potato free. In case you’re thinking I’m completely crazy (cause I am), I have decided to do a clean eating challenge.

Doughnuts (Gluten Free)-6I am really excited, and scared to death. In a couple of weeks, you may see me tackling people outside the local doughnut shop for their chocolate glaze.

Doughnuts (Gluten Free)12

In an attempt to avoid those situations and having a complete melt down, I will be allowing myself a cheat meal once a week. You can be sure I’ll be cracking open Ashley’s cookbook “Baked Doughnuts for everyone”.

Doughnuts (Gluten Free)-7Ashley is truly a genius at gluten free baking, you can’t even tell these doughnuts are gluten free. There is a little sugar in these, but I’ll feel like a super star eating these for my cheat meal.

Doughnuts (Gluten Free)-8Even if you’re not crazy, you should totally get her book, and bake a million doughnuts.

Doughnuts (Gluten-Free)

[Adapted from Ashley’s totally awesome book “Baked Doughnuts for Everyone“]

½ Cup of Oat Flour
½ Cup of Sweet Rice Flour (NOT Rice Flour)
1/3 Cup of Sugar
¼ Cup of Ground Almonds (aka almond flour or almond meal)
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
2 Eggs
¼ Cup + 3 Tablespoons of Buttermilk (*or make your own)
3 Tablespoons of Unsweetened Applesauce
2 Tablespoons of Oil (I used Grape Seed Oil, but EVOO works)
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla

Chocolate Frosting

2/3 Cup of Powdered Sugar
¼ Cup of Cocoa Powder
1-3 Tablespoons of Milk

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees, grease up your doughnut pan (or muffin tin), set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk oat flour, sweet rice flour (NOT rice flour), sugar, ground almonds, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together, eggs, buttermilk (* or make your own), applesauce, oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Fold until just combined. Just like quick bread of muffins, you don’t want to over mix this.

Spoon the batter into your doughnut pan (or muffin tin). It should reach almost to the top, leave about 1/8 of an inch.

Bake for 20 -22 minutes. If you are using a muffin tin, check the doneness, with a tooth pick and leave in for a few more minutes if not done yet.

Allow to cool on a wire rack in the tin for about 5 minutes, remove from the tin and allow to cool completely before frosting

Frosting

In a small bowl, sift together the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the right consistency. I only used a tablespoon and a half.

When the doughnuts are cooled, frost them up and sprinkle the hell out of them!

*to make your own buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a one cup measuring cup and then top off with milk. Allow to site for 10 minutes… …voila! Buttermilk!

Monthly Things: December

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

christmas 2014

WTF happened to December!

Christmas came and went, in a whirl wind, like it does every year. Every year I get a little better at everything. We were all done Christmas shopping by Dec 1st, even Mr.PBandO was finished early. This year I followed Amiee’s steps to a perfect turkey … she is a genius! Mr.PBandO kept saying how moist it was. My table settings are kicking ass, although I have managed to get myself banned from buying Christmas crackers, I am a Christmas cracker whore… see below

cracker whoreI also baked… and baked and baked….

baking

Show alert!!! The Newsroom. It’s like House and The West Wing had a baby… watch it, it’s AWESOME.   I also got Ashley’s booked, baked doughnuts for everyone, and I baked my first batch… they were awesome!

donuts

I finished up the Christmas holiday with the Doctor Who and Downton Abby Christmas Special’s, I forgot how much I missed these shows!

Would be complete without dressing up the doggies, they love it!

puppies

 

 

 

Browned Buttered Brownies… Best Ever

Best Brownies Ever-8

I had this whole post written out about this new healthy clean eating challenge I’m starting next month, and realized that, that’s next month.   This is this month, and there is still time for me to stuff my face with brownies.

Best Brownies Ever

Let me tell you little stories about brownies. Ever since I started my blog, I’m always hearing that I don’t make enough chocolate stuff for Mr.PBandO… so I made it my mission to bake him the perfect brownie.

Best Brownies Ever-4

As he likes to point out, I made him eat a lot of brownies, and most of them.. not so good. Apparently I made a really good batch this one time, but when I made them again, I was promptly told, they were not the same brownies.

Best Brownies Ever-7

I continued to bake batch after batch of brownies, and while most of them got eaten (some more than others) I was failing miserably. Until one day I baked up the quickest, and easiest batch ever. They were a huge hit, He couldn’t believe how much he loved them… then I told him they were from a box!

Best Brownies Ever-9

I would take this as failure, but I don’t. Sometimes the box is just better. And even if other people disagree, everyone has different tastes. So the search is over for Mr.PBandO ‘s perfect brownies… you win betty!

Best Brownies Ever-10

So as a consolation, these were the runner up. Out of all the batches I made (excluding the mysterious recipe I lost), these were the best out of the bunch. I don’t think Mr.PBandO gave them enough credit, they were fantastic.

Browned Butter Brownies… Best Ever

[Adapted from http://cookieandkate.com/2014/the-very-best-brownies/]

10 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
1 ¼ Cups of Sugar
¾ Cups of Cocoa Powder
½ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon of Finley Ground Coffee
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoons of Vanilla
2/3 Cups of Flour
1/3 Cup of Chocolate Chips

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare an 8×8 pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper, make sure the parchment hangs over all 4 sides.

Melt butter in small sauce pan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, continue to cook the butter over medium heat, stirring frequently until it turns a turns a warm caramel color. Don’t let it burn, that’s why you have to keep stirring. You will know when it’s browned, cause you’ll want to drink it! Remove from the heat and stir in sugar, until dissolved.

Add the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and coffee. Stir until incorporated. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Once cooled, add the eggs one at a time, whisking fast, you don’t want the eggs to cook, especially if your mixture isn’t cool enough.

Add the vanilla and flour, and stir for 2-3 minutes, it should look shiny. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop the batter (it will be thick) in blobs all of the prepared pan. I used a cake spreading spatula to spread the thick batter. This can be difficult, just take your time.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or a tooth pick comes clean. The original recipe said to bake for 25 minutes, this was not long enough for me, I made these 3 times and all 3 times I needed 40 minutes.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then lift the brownies out and cut into 4 large pieces… or however big you like your brownies.

Slow Cooker Meaty Spaghetti Sauce

It’s Christmas Eve people!

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce-8

All my Christmas presents are bought, wrapped, my turkey is thawing, my cookies are baked ( and half eaten), my halls are decked, my stockings are hung and the bottom of my tree is empty. I’m done!

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

The last thing I want to do, other than tomorrows feast, is cook!

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce-3

I do however have family up and they always seem to want to eat. Any my suggestion of cookies for dinner is always over ruled.

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce-4

So what I like to do is whip up a batch of this Slow Cooker spaghetti sauce, that way I can pull it out when the fam is here, and dinner is served.

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce-6

This sauce is so yummy, and versatile, you can add whatever you want to it. I like to freeze it in freezer bags with 2 serving portions. It thaws really well in the sink and the freezer bags take up virtually no space.

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce-5

The only thing I’m stressing over is Christmas day dinner!

Slow Cooker Meaty Spaghetti Sauce

[Adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/meat-lovers-slow-cooker-spaghetti-sauce/%5D

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, Chopped
2 Teaspoons of Garlic, Minced
2 Large Hot Italian Sausages
1 Pound of Ground Beef
3 Teaspoons of Italian Seasoning (I used Club House)
1 Can of Plain Tomato Sauce (29 ounces)
1 Can of Tomato Paste (6-7 ounces)
1 Can of Italian Style Diced Tomatoes (14-15 ounces)
1 Can of Plain Diced Tomatoes (14-15 ounces)
2-3 Fresh Basil Leaves, Chopped
1 Tablespoon of Sugar

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove sausage from its casing and break up into chunks. Cook until completely cooked. Add to slow cooker.

In the same skillet, add the onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.   Add ground beef, breaking up while you cook. Cook until ground beef is no longer pink. Add the itilian seasoning, and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the cook ground beef to the slow cooker.

Add the remaining ingredients, and mix until combines.

Set the slow cooker to 8 hours. It makes quite a bit of sauces.

Cookie Monday and a Guest Post: Chocolate Dipped Mocha Shortbread

I’m doing something I said I’d never do…. Guest post.  But if you know Purdy, then you understand why I couldn’t, and didn’t want to so no, when she invited me to guest post for her COOKIE Monday feature.  So head over and check out my cookies on her blog, and have a look around, she got some great stuff.

Chocolate Dipped Mocha Shortbread-7

Get the recipe HERE!

Beef Stew and Rosemary Dumpling

Beef Stew With Dumblings-7

I know I should be talking to you about Christmas, or this incredible stew right here, but instead I thought I would share with you one of my guilty pleasures.

Beef Stew With Dumblings

If you know me, you know I have bad taste in TV, especially when it comes to reality TV. I have been known to watch Laguna Beach, and the ever popular spin off, the hills, and can’t forget The City. I even got addicted to Deadliest Catch, which is so random.

Beef Stew With Dumblings-2

Before I confess my most recent reality addiction, let me just clarify I have never watch (a full episode) of Jersey Shores.  Ok here it is…..

Beef Stew With Dumblings-3

I’m totally into the Kardashians. Yup that’s right, I am caught up with the Kardashians. I think I have seen every show, including the spin off shows: Kourtney and Kim Take New York, Kourtney and Kim Take Miami, Khloe and Lamar and of course the most recent show Kourtney & Khloe Take the Hamptons.  I can’t explain why I like it. It’s like watching a train wreck, and posh and pretty train wreck.  Sometimes I feel like we are friends. Me, Kim, Khloe and even Kortney.

Beef Stew With Dumblings-4

Ok enough about my bad TV watching habits. I will make it up to you by sharing with you this delicious stew with rosemary dumplings. This meal is a favorite in our house, and it freezes really well.

Beef Stew With Dumblings-8

Sorry for over sharing. Eat Stew!

Beef Stew with Dumplings

[Adapted from Janet and Greta’s Eat, Shrink and Be Merry]

2 Cups of Low Sodium Beef Broth
2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
2 Teaspoon of Sugar
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
2 Pounds of Stewing Beef Cubes, 1-2 Inch Pieces
2 Tablespoons of Flour
2 Teaspoon of Olive Oil
1 ½ Cups of Chopped Onions
1 Cup of Chopped Celery
2 Cups of Chopped Carrots
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2 Teaspoons of Herbs de Provence
½ Cup of Light Sour Cream
2 Tablespoon of Cornstarch
1 ½ Cup Bisquick
1/3 Cup of Milk
1 Teaspoon of Dried Rosmary

In a small/medium bowl add beef broth, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir a couple times. Set aside.

Trim off the fat from the beef cubes.   Place in plastic bag or bowl and coat with flour.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet, over medium heat. Add the flour coated beef cubes, and cook until browned on the outside. Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the herbs de province, and cook for one more minute. Add the beef broth mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 30 to 60 minutes, or until the carrots are sort.

After 45 minutes, mix the sour cream and cornstarch, mix into the stew.

In a small-medium bowl, mix bisquick and rosemary. Pour in milk, and fluff with a fork. Roll the bisquick into tablespoon size ball, and drop them into the stew. Cover, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dumplings are double in size.

Enjoy!

FruitCcake Shortbread

I CANNOT STOP BAKING.

Fruitcake Shortcake Cookies-6

At this point I’m not even sure I’m doing this for Christmas, or using Christmas as an excuse to bake this much.

Fruitcake Shortcake Cookies

So far I have made, chocolate gingerbread,   Almond toffee rounds, cherry ice box cookies, cream cheese orange pistachio cookies, cranberry white chocolate oat cookies, linzar cookies, Mocha Chocolate dipped shortbread, 2 fruitcakes, and these babies! I still have graham cracker toffee bark and chocolate espresso brownie cookies to go.

Fruitcake Shortcake Cookies-4

But lets talk about these. My all-time favorite , nostalgic Christmas cookie, hands down, has to be shortbread. I have never meet a shortbread I didn’t like. Of course I love my mom’s, she always made then this and crispy, with cherries. They taste even better fresh out of the freezer.

Fruitcake Shortcake Cookies-5

I have in recent years developed an insane liking for fruitcake as well… weird… I know. SO when I came across these cookies, I thought there could be nothing better. Fruitcake shortbread…. AMA..ZING.

Fruitcake Shortcake Cookies-8

Even if you think fruit cake is for little old ladies (I’m so a little ol lady, between the fruitcake and knitting, I’m one pair of comfy white sneakers away from becoming an honorary senior) You wil love these… it helps that they are full of butter and dipped in a sugary glaze.

Fruitcake Shortcake Cookies-7

Please add these to your insane Christmas baking list… what’s that, you don’t have one… make em anyways… worth it. The little ol lady (or man) inside will thank you.

Fruitcake Shortbread

[Adapted from Canadian Living December 2013]

For the cookies

1 Cup of Unsalted Butter, Softened
¾ Cup of Powdered Sugar
½ Teaspoon of Vanilla
2 Cups of Flour
1 Cup of Diced Glazed Fruit

For the glaze

¾ Cup of Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Dark Rum, (or Water)
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

In a larger bowl, cream together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Add flour ½ cup at a time, until combined. Kneed in the fruit. If you find the dough is a little too soft, place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Split the dough in half. Working one at a time, place each piece on to a sheet of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a square. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top of the square.   Using your hands press down and form a 7 inch x 7 inch square. Make sure the square is nice and even (I totally cut off the excess) . Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease cookie sheet with butter or non-stick spray. I use a silicon baking matt, you should too.

Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a cutting board. Cut off the edges so it’s a perfect square. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Turn the dough and cut into 7 equal pieces.

Place on the prepared cookie sheet, and bake for 22 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.

Prepare the glaze. Mix the ¾ cups of powdered sugar with the rum and vanilla.   Using a pastry brush, brush on the glaze. Allow to cool completely.

Parsnip Apple Soup

Parsnip Apple Soup-6

I have been knee deep in cookies lately. I feel like it’s the only thing coming out of my kitchen. This is exactly how it happens every year. I don’t really feel like making anything else. If it’s not some sort of Christmas baking, I just don’t feel like making it. Besides baking, there is so much prepping to do for Christmas.

Parsnip Apple Soup

But a girl cannot live off of Christmas cookies and fruit cake alone. I have tried, trust me.

Parsnip Apple Soup-5

What I like to do is live out of my freezer. I find cooking for 3, sometimes leaves me with left overs.   Often times I’ll end up cooking a meal just for me. Mr.PBandO is not always up for trying out my experiments. Needless to say I usually have a fully stocked freezer, and at Christmas time its the perfect time to dig into it.

Parsnip Apple Soup-4

This soup is one of those recipes that the Mr. wasn’t quite interested in. Really, just no sense of adventure. It left me with a few leftovers as a result. I like to freeze soup in freezer bags, saves on space.

Parsnip Apple Soup-9

It warms up beautifully, just pop it out of the freezer and into a pot.   When I made it originally I whipped up that fried leek garnish, it was a really nice crunchy addition, and it fancied it up a bit.

Parsnip Apple Soup-8

This is the season of shopping, baking, wrapping, and decorating, who has time for dinner.   Whip up this soup and pop it in the freezer, for those nights you want something warm and quick.

Parsnip Apple Soup

[Adapted from http://www.canadianliving.com/food/creamy_parsnip_celery_and_apple_soup.php]

2 Tablespoons of Butter
1 Leek, Sliced (I used the whole thing)
¼ Teaspoon each of Ground Ginger and Salt
1 Pound Bag of Parsnips, Sliced and Peeled
3 Celery, Chopped
1 Apple, Cored, Peeled and Chopped
3 Cups of Chicken Broth
3 Cups of Water
¼ Cup of Whipping Cream (35%)
2 Teaspoons each of Mustard, and Apple Cider Vinegar

For the Garnish

Vegetable Oil, enough to reach 1 inch of a small pot
1 Leek, Sliced Lengthwise

 

In a deep pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, ginger and salt. Cook until the leeks are softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the parsnips, celery and the apple. Cook, stiring for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low, and allow to simmer for 20 -30 minutes, or until the parsnips become tender. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Working in batches, blend in a blender until smooth. Return to the pot, stir in cream, mustard and vinegar.

For the garnish:

Heat enough vegetable oil to cover 1 inch of a small pot. Drop small batches of sliced leeks, until brown, not black. My first try, I totally burned them. I just lowered the heat and tried again. It wont take to long, may 30 – 60 seconds. Place them on a paper towel so some of the oil can absorb into the paper towel. Place the leeks on top of the soup when serving.

 

 

 

Monthly Things

Monthly Things: Nov Edition

I’m changing things up around here, well not so much, instead of a list of top ten things, I thought I would just tell you about things that have happened, things I’m watching, reading, and loving, just not in a formal list format.

monkeys

So to start off the month, I was in Calgary spending time with these monkeys. Love my nephews. I also got to taste some wonderful eats ala my sister, she’s also a super foodie! We even had a cheese plate for dinner one night, I felt all fancy and stuff.

cheese

I have put a serious dent in my Christmas shopping, actually, I’m done!! Don’t hate. I did this last year and it felt wonderful to be one of those annoying early bird people. Being that its December 1st, I’m also decking my halls, and finishing my table setting… this is the basic idea.

christmas cookies

Oh and the baking….. I have managed to whip up 3 batches of cookies and I even perfected panettoni.   For some reason I can’t seem to mess up bread lately. Last week I made some authentic French bread, and it was epic. I had a little help from this new web side run by chef John. Check it out, he even has a tutorial on de-boning a turkey.

I feel like I can actually enjoy the upcoming Christmas season, now that my shopping, baking and decorating is almost finished. I know, I’m so annoyingly prepared.

Here are some links I have enjoyed: Shopping for someone weird and don’t want to spend a lot of money this year? check this: 15 Incredibly weird things you can buy on amazon for under $15. When you’re done shopping for your weird friends and family, serve them one of these awesome Stuffing recipes at Christmas…Cranberry and Walnut Stuffing, or Pumpkin Cheddar Stuffing.   If your feeling crafty this year, head over to Half Baked Harvest, and she’ll show you how to turn a pine cone into a fancy oraniments, sparkles and all. Don’t forget to head over to Bev’s side for a good laugh in her new series, Friday Flotsom, she’s so funny. (http://bevcooks.com/2014/11/friday-flotsam-plus-a-flash-giveaway/)

That’s all for now. Have a relaxing December.

Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

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I love heading south of the boarder. You Americans have the best culinary treats. I’m often found drooling over American food blogs, Facebook pages and Instagram photos of gingerbread M&M’s, cherry filled dark chocolate chips, birthday cake flavored everything, and of course cheese in a can.

oatmeal cinnamon chip cookies I’m not even joking about that last one. I’m pretty healthy and do my best to keep only fresh ingredients in the house, but put a can of cheese in front of me and seriously, I will devour it in minutes. I think I once heard it was one ingredient away from being plastic. oatmeal cinnamon chip cookies-2Friends who know I have a blog and unwavering fetish for treats only found across the border, often bring things back for me to try.   I usually LOVE everything I get, except this one time, someone brought me cinnamon chips. No not potato chips covered cinnamon, but I might have jumped all over that.

oatmeal cinnamon chip cookies-3They are like chocolate chips, but cinnamon flavored. I didn’t really know what to do with them. They kind of just sat in my cupboard. I was stumped. oatmeal cinnamon chip cookies-6So I googled it. There are some weird and wonderful suggestions out there, but nothing was peaking my interest.   Then I flipped the bag over. There is was, Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies. Seriously! The back of the bag.

oatmeal cinnamon chip cookies-4I added a few raisins to change it up. Next time you’re not sure what to make with an ingredient, flip the bag, or the box, or whatever type of package it’s in, you’d be surprised what you find.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies

1 Cup of Butter, Softened
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup of Sugar
2 Eggs
1 ½ Teaspoon Vanilla
1 ½ Cups of Flour
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
2 ½ Cups of Quick Cooking Oats
1 Cup of Cinnamon Chips
¾ Cups of Raisins

In a medium bowl, whisk flour and baking soda, set aside.

In a stand-mixer using a paddle attachment, cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. About 2 minutes. You can also use a plain old bowl and spoon and cream the butter and sugars by hand.

Add eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, until incorporated. Add vanilla. Now add the flour, I did this is 3 parts.

Using a wooden spoon, fold in the rolled oats and then the cinnamon chips and raisins, until combined.

Place cookie dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours. It helps the butter to harden. If you don’t chill the dough, your cookies could come out flat.

Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

On a cookies sheet with a silicon baking matt, or parchment paper, drop cookie dough in 2 tablespoon size balls. Bake for 10 -12 minutes. If you are using parchment, check them after 10 minutes. I find cookies take shorter to bake on parchment, but the silicon has a consistently perfect effect each time.

Cherry Icebox Cookies

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Tis’ the season! OMG someone slap me!

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I am so not a November Christmas person, if it were up to me nothing Christmas related would be allowed until December first.   On the other hand I do love getting all my Christmas shopping, baking and planning done in November.

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It’s kind of a catch 22. I hate any mention of Christmas until December 1st , yet I love getting all the holiday stuff out of the way before then.   I know I know… I’m a walking contradiction.

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I’m kind of a Scrooge until December 1st, then watch out… I literally explode with Christmas. The decorations go up… the lights are light, the presents are wrapped, the dogs get dressed up in their traditional Santa and elf costumes (you know you want me to post those) I even can be seen on the highway singing along to my local Christmas station.

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It’s actually a little annoying. Its like I save up Christmas all year long and then I unleash her… MRS. Freakin’ Christmas!

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I think my favorite thing about Christmas is the gifts.. nay I’m kidding. First Christmas goodies, then gifts… kidding…. Sort of.

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I made these little beauties a couple of weeks ago just to test out the Christmas baking waters. I only used red cherries, as to not seem so Christmas crazy… I didn’t fool anyone. I think I like these because you can freeze them up to 3 weeks, and then pull them out, and bake!   Super easy.

Cherry Icebox Cookies

2 2/3 Cups of Flour
½ Teaspoon of Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
1 Cup of Butter, Softened
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla
¾ Cup of Chopped Red and Green Candied Cherries

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, until fluffy. I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat in the egg and vanilla, until mixed.

By hand, slowly add the flour, I did it in three batches. Gently fold in the cherries.

Divide dough into three pieces.   Place each piece on a large plastic wrap, and shape into a log about 8 inches long and 1 inch high. Wrap the plastic wrap tightly around the logs, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours or the freezer for up to 3 weeks.

When ready to bake, remove from the fridge or freezer (let stand for 2o minutes if in the freezer). Slice dough into ½ inch thick rounds, and place on a baking sheet lines with parchment paper.

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. I find the browner they are the better they taste. Let cool on a wire rack.

 

 

 

 

 

Cheddar Cheese and Chive Scones

I am a horrible traveler!

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We’ll I’m a horrible Return traveler. You see I’m fine on the way there, whether it’s driving, taking a bus, a train or flying. It doesn’t really matter how long or short the trip is. It doesn’t even matter how good or bad the trip was.

Chedder Chive Scones

I recently took a trip out to Calgary to visit my sister , her husband and my 2 beautiful nephews. I had a wonderful week. I got to spend time with my very smart, well behaved and handsome 4 year old nephew. I also go to meet my new 3 month old nephew; you’d be surprised how heavy 13 lbs is after 40 minutes. And of course my beautiful and talented sister.   I love food, but she has an incredible passion for food that surly surpasses mine. I was treated to some amazing meals. Did I mention she has the patients of a saint?   A 4 year old and a 3month old.. need I say more.

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So obviously I had an amazing time, aaaaand then I had to make my way home. I’m not sure if the trip was as horrible as I thought it was or if it was just that I hate the travel home. There’s always either a crying baby, or jerk in front of you that reclines his seat all the way back decreasing the already tiny bit of leg room you have, and even after you ask him to move his chair up, he completely ignores you. Then you try and watch a movie, but the screen is in the head rest, in front of you and its practically in your lap now…… so you sit in your seat, uncomfortably shifting around in the smallest space possible and your seat buddy is fast asleep and it takes like forever to wake them so you can go pee. Oh and did I mention the dirty look she gave me.

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Then you get off the plane, which always seems to take forever, like hello people, we landed and have been parked for 10 minutes. Even the walk to the baggage claim seems like its 10 football fields away.   I don’t know about you, but I love the thought of someone waiting to welcome me home. I have said as much to Mr.PBandO, and he knows personally how I hate my travel home. But it is much easier for him not to park, and just keep looping around until I get my bags and get outside.

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SO I start down the escalator and who do I see at the bottom… Mr. PB andO and my step daughter. Seriously just washed away the whole horrible trip home.  Love you guys!

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So thank you to my sister and her husband, for having my in their home and allowing me to share, good food, great company and two of the most beautiful kids I’ve ever seen.

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Thanks to you guys too, for reading the ramblings of a crazy person. Here is a twist of Jessica’s scones from her cookbook. These are awesome just like her book!

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Cheddar and Chive Scones

[Adapted from Jessica’s Seriously Delish cookbook; Strawberry Coffee Cake Scones]

2 Cups of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or 2 Cups Plain)
1 ½ Teaspoons of Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon of Baking Soda
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
3 Tablespoons of Cold Mascarpone Cheese
2 Tablespoons of Cold, Unsalted Butter
1 Cup of Aged Cheddar
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Chopped Chives
1 Cup of *Buttermilk

 

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut in the cold mascarpone cheese and cold butter with 2 knives or a pastry blender, until it resembles small pebbles.

Mix in the cheddar and chives.   Pour in the buttermilk, using a spoon at first, mix it until it starts to come together. Using your hands, covered in flour, form into a ball. It’s important not to kneed or mix the dough to much.  Place the ball on a floured surface and flatten into a circle about 1 inch thick. I used a ruler.

Using a floured knife, or floured pizza cutter, cut into 6-8 pieces. Separate them slightly (not touching) and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Optional; whisk and egg with a tablespoon of water, and brush the tops of the scones with it.

Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Check them after 10 minutes.

Serve warm with a bowl of soup, or on its own with butter. Or you could put an egg in the middle with bacon, and….. eat it any way you want.

*to make your own buttermilk, put 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup, and pour milk to fill the rest of the cup. Allow to sit for 10 minutes…. Tada you have buttermilk.

Monthly Top 10: October Edition

maggie halloween

Let’s start off with this picture. I dressed up my puppy Maggie as Dorothy from the wizard of OZ. Why have dogs if you can’t dress them up.

Canadian Thanksgiving: All of us up in Canada had our thanks giving beginning of October. I like that we have it early. I would feel so over whelmed if ours was so close to Christmas like our friends south of us.

I saw a really great movie this month: This is where I leave you. It’s basically about a family that comes together after a death in a family and all their family issues come to the surface. Tina Faye, Jason Batmen (love him) Jane Fonda, and it even has the guy that played Hannah’s boyfriend in Girls. Watch it, seriously.

During our thanks giving my Mom came for a visit. I’m originally from Toronto, so we don’t live that close to each other. I love catching up and we always go for afternoon tea. I really appreciate her now that I’m older and I’m a step mom.

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Road trip to Boston: I totally drove to Boston for Jessica’s book signing at the North Eastern University. We took the opportunity to do a little site seeing; Not only did I meet Jessica (she’s even more awesome in person) I also got to see her in action, She whipped up some great recipes from her book. I HEART HER!  p.s. I look awfull in this picture.

I love me my magazines. I am a hoarder of many things, but this one takes the cake. I have just added one more to my collection. RICARDO. He’s a French Canadian chef I have always loved. I have seen his French magazine in the stores, but my French sucks, and Mr. PBandO isn’t interested in translating an entire magazine. So when his English magazine came out, I immediately subscribed. Two issue’s in and I’m hooked.

Halloween in Calgary; I got the amazing opportunity to go trick or treating with my nephew this year. I headed out to Calgary last Thursday, to spend some time with my Sister and her family. I haven’t decided if I’m here for the family or the food? She is an amazing baker/chef. I’ll put together a post of the delicious things I ate here.  P.S.  Happy Birthday to my sister!  she just turned 30 this month.
TV Lately: I recently got sucked into Madame Secretary. It stars Tea Leoni as a CIA agent turned secretary of state. I’m really digging it. Did I just say that?

Always use parchment paperI will always have parchment in my house. Read about my meltdown here. I was trying to make a fruit cake, without parchment paper… fail. I got it right the second time.

I’m not usually someone to pass on videos, but I still can’t stop giggling, at this. These girls are swearing for a good cause.
I am a Christmas Cracker whore!

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