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Thursday 15 November 2012

Recipe of the Day - Mom's Hot Chocolate Powder

Reposted from 2012... Nothing says Christmas is coming like steaming cups of Hot Chocolate. I grew up on this stuff and so did my husband. This recipe can be adjusted to suit the tastes of those you are serving (see note at end about adding cocoa). We also love using Candy Canes as a stir stick at our house :) makes it pepperminty hot chocolate, yummy... Enjoy!

Mom's Hot Chocolate

10 1/3 Cups Carnation Brand skim milk powder
250 g Original Coffee Mate
750 g Nestle Chocolate Quick Powder
1/2-3/4 cup sifted dutch process cocoa powder

1. Using a whisk or pastry blender, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Store in large airtight container with a 1/3 cup measure or a scoop of the same size.

2. To serve: Boil water, add to 1/3 hot chocolate powder per cup.  Add milk as desired to cool it for little people. Serve with marshmallows, whip cream, baileys or peppermint sticks for stirring. Makes about 12 cups powder.

Note: Makes great gifts! Try wrapping up cello bags of powder with instructions, bagged mallows and candy canes... so cute!

Monday 20 August 2012

Our first year as parents

  Well, it is hard to believe it is August already. It is also hard to believe that our precious girl Patricia has been with us over a year now (she's adopted for those of you just tuning in now).  

Of all the growing that has happened around our house, I can honestly say it is Ryan and I who have grown the most!  Yesterday we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary and had a lovely evening out on the town together.  I am still married to my best friend, not to mention one of the best men I have ever known.  Looking at his handsome self over the rim on my beer last night I couldn't help but be amazed by the blessings we have experienced in this year gone by.

Living in the land of Toddlerdom is truly the craziest adventure I have ever experienced! I say so in part because it is wild for everyone who has ever visited, and in part becuase we have a unique and exceptional child
capable of levels of chaos I never knew existed.  I like to think of myself as resilient, positive and capable.  I can now say with confidence that these 
things are true, but I have seen myself stretched further in these areas than I could have ever imagined.

Our Tricia is not challenging because she is adopted (though learning about attachment and trauma have been a big learning curve as well).  She is challenging because she is herself, full of adventure and very little fear. She is smart, beautiful, strong willed, determined, focused and for whatever reason absolutely refuses to learn the alphabet. Which is just fine with me as I have far more important things on my mind for her to be learning and she probably already knows it anyways.

All of this to say, we are blessed, and fortunately for me what I lack in patience and grace for the task I have been blessed with is more than made up for when I ask for help.  My heavenly Father has grace sufficient for this life of mine and I have been struck by just how crucial it is that I become what I want to teach my daughter. If I want her to be kind and gentle, I must be those things first. If I want her to be slow to anger and learn patience then I must do so also. Otherwise where will she learn these things? My job is big but I can't think of a better adventure or a more amazing way to spend my energy.  Now we just need to pray for a sibling for her, the girl needs one big time :)

Here are a couple fun videos of little T this past week....

Parent's note: The toad lived, I checked to see as I get very nervous about these things.
Parent's Note: In case you missed it, she did declare some strange things, including something about God being her daughter. Everyone is her daughter lately and she is pregnant at least every other day, so fear not, we'll get it straightened out eventually :)

More recipes coming soon... also I've been working on some homemade cleaning products I'm pretty stoked about so I'll try to get back on here soon!

Saturday 2 June 2012

Recipe of Day - Award Winning Guacamole!

Award Winning Guacamole
Yield: 1 1/2 cups Guacamole

I realize that "award winning" sounds so dramatic, but it is! We used to have these competitions among all the employees at With the Grain Cafe in Guelph.  The recipe was decided upon in advance and then you could enter your dish anonymously and everyone would eat and vote.  Super fun theme for a party and this "Guac" of mine was the winner of the Guacamole night. So give it a shot and see if you agree.

2 ripe avocados (this is the hardest part ;)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 shallot finely chopped (little red onion, not green)
1 Tbsp finely chopped pickled jalapenos
(or use 1/2 a fresh jalapeno - watch your eyes once you've handled them)
2 tsp kosher salt or 1 1/2 tsp table salt
2 tsp ground coriander
20 grinds fresh black pepper (or 1 tsp ground)
2 juicy limes, rolled hard on the counter and juiced (use 3 if they are small or hard)

1. Half and peel the avocados or use a spoon to scoop the flesh from each half. Place in a bowl.  Mash with a fork, whisk or potato masher until consistent in texture but still a little lumpy.

2. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Spoon into a fresh bowl and either serve right away with tortilla chips or lay plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the dip (so the air can't turn it brown.

Note: The old 'add a pit to the bowl to keep it from browning trick' is a myth but feel free to do it if you like the fun of a pit in the middle. Storage Tip: Not going to use it all at once, wanna make it in advance? Place in a ziploc bag, press out all the air and freeze for 3-4 weeks.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Adventures in Chicken Rearing - meet the girls!

Our "baby chicks" as Tricia calls them were a day old when they came home on Feb 16th.  It was Tricia's birthday and we were excited to welcome these little balls of fluff to our brood.  The crazy weird shower in our basement made for a perfect brooder and we settled our girls in with a heat lamp, pine shavings and food and water.  I loved dipping their tiny beaks into their water so they would know where to go (this was a researched how to, not my whim as it may seem).  The most challenging part was keeping small hands away from these tiny creatures as they are literally the size of an egg upon hatching... duh. 

Introducing... Lily, Lola, Ede, Charlotte, Aviva and Betty Bird....

I have been cataloguing their growth with photos and wanted to share them.  The girls wont be laying until late June early July but they are so fun already and they love their new home outside which I lovingly refer to as the 'taj-ma-coop'.  Ryan (aka captain thorough) doesn't do anything halfway, not even coop building.

That's Lola in brown

That's Ede, also brown, there are also 3 black and brown and one white and black.

Under construction - the coop will be ready for our growing teenagers.

The most dangerous creature in the yard... chickens beware.

This look says... "Don't mess with me Chickens".  She means it, I have caught her with a wagon full of chickens after strict orders not to pick them up, as well as chasing them with a stick and trying to kick them when they don't love her back..... poor angelic Tricia ;)

Teenager birds start to look cute again, I didn't think they were photo op ready when they had no feathers.

From back to front: Charlotte, Ede adn Lily

Charlotte is gaining confidence and they have such a blast outside.  At this point they were out in the day but slept inside as it was still quite cold.

Birds of a feather really do flock together!

Ede, Lola and Lily find yet another delicious patch of grass!

I LOVE their fluff butts...

Betty Bird is so big now, but this picture shows how her colours were coming in

Miley couldn't care less about the chickens, though she likes to lay near them, perhaps she is guarding them?

Flighty as they are, the birds also seem to like Miley. They don't care unless she tries to play.

Digging themselves cozy beds in the warm dirt, delightful.

The coop with walls

Inside their cozy home, we used dishwasher racks as removable flooring, sooo easy to wash!

Here is a view of their water, food and ramp, we layed 6 inches of gravel for easy cleaning, its surprising how much the girls poop!
More to come, sorry I've been away a while, I will get back in action on this wee blog asap!

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Recipe of the Day - Best Ever Kale Chips!

Kale... its almost a curse word.  The truth is, I've hated on this hardy leafy green for as long as I can remember. That is of course until I learned the art of the kale chip.  Now I have kale in my fridge at all times and serve this delicious chip to anyone who stops by for supper.  

These crispy lovelies are also versatile and can be served as a side dish or appetizer with cheese and crackers.  I would also recommend experimenting with toppings.  This recipe is for your basic kosher salt and olive oil method but feel free to try anything you feel like (Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, tamari or light soy, sesame oil and sesame seeds and so on and so forth).

Baked Kale Chips
Yield: 1 x good size bowl

1 bunch leafy green kale
2-3 Tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin unless you like a smoky kitchen ;)
1/2-1 tsp kosher salt for sprinkling (1/2 tsp table or fine salt)

1. Preheat the oven to 350`F. Check to see if the kale you purchased has been washed.  If yes skip to step

2.  If not, wash under cool running water and shake really well to remove excess water (the bath tub or outside works well).

3. Now chop the main stem section off the bunch of kale.  Divide bunch in half (or do the whole thing if you`re feeding a crowd).  Next tear the leaves apart away from the stem.  You should end up with a pile of stems and lots of big leafy pieces of kale.  Don`t worry if they seem big, they shrink lots.

4. Spread kale leaves in a single layer on a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet.  Drizzle liberally with the oil and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until leaves are dry to the touch but not dark brown, the majority of the pieces should still be quite green.  Let cool several minutes and serve warm or cool.  Enjoy!

Note: Now that I have embraced the kale I have found some other lovely uses for it in my kitchen.  I now add it thinly sliced to soups (brothy pretty ones) and salads (hearty coleslaw types).  It also goes well in small quantity in a stir fry (note: it takes longer to cook than you'd think) and in place of cabbage in anything.  It also never hurts to puree it into a soup or smoothy.  Afterall, its pretty much the healthiest thing you can eat: high in fibre, iron, vitamins and minerals see 9 Health Benefits of Kale for a complete article on why you should be eating this pretty green.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Recipe of the Day - Homemade Snickers Bars

I found this recipe on Pinterest and just had to see if they were as easy as they seemed.  Snickers are Ryan's (that's my husband btw) all time most favourite chocolate bar, which is saying a lot since he LOVES chocolate.  He normally goes for a piece of nice dark high quality chocolate (like anything over 60% cocoa solids and he's a gonner) but when its time for a candy bar this would be his pick.  He liked this version a lot... it makes a 9x13 though so be warned, it might be in your households best interest to half the recipe or freeze half the recipe... just saying.

I love you Ryan and I am committed to keeping your chocolate intake at a healthy level :) To see the original recipe in all its glory head to: PS - I did make a few small changes, I just can't help myself :)

Homemade Snickers Bars
yield: one 9x13 inch pan

Bottom chocolate layer
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
Thoroughly grease you baking pan. Melt ingredients together in a saucepan or microwave, then pour into the baking dish and spread until even. Let cool and harden completely.

Nougat layer
1/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cup salted peanuts chopped, roughly chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in sugar and milk, stirring until dissolved and bring to a boil. Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in fluff, peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Turn off heat and fold in peanuts, then pour over bottom chocolate layer. Let cool completely.

Caramel layer
1 14-oz bag soft caramels
(Werthers = uh-mazing!)
1/4 cup whipping cream
Combine ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Let melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth – this took about 10 minutes for me. Pour over nougat layer and let cool completely.

Top chocolate layer
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
Melt chocolate in a saucepan or microwave, then pour over caramel and spread until even. Let cool and harden completely.

Refrigerate the whole mess for at least one hour before serving, then cut as desired. These can stay at room temperature, but they do get gooey. I like them refrigerated best! Note: These will keep for several weeks in the fridge or several months in the freezer, just be sure they are in a nice airtight environment so they don't absorb other flavours.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Tricia's "first" third Birthday!

Lanterns over the birthday table - a family tradition
For those of you who are new to this lil' blog of mine, it is actually Tricia's 3rd birthday but its her first birthday with us.  Tricia is adopted so it is extra fun and exciting to celebrate this birthday for so many reasons. Not the least of which is that T knows it is her birthday and has been prancing around the house for weeks singing "Happy birthday Tri-SHA".  I am particularly excited because she is such a girly girl (for now) so I get to have all the hearts, pink and glam my heart desires.  The theme?  Obviously hearts and rainbows... I will post more pics as the parties unfold.
T helping Daddy "paint the box"!

The main reason for this post though is to share the excitement Ry and I are feeling as we just finished and set up our homemade play kitchen... This is the kitchen I dreamt of all my life and while T may not appreciate it fully right now, we are hoping that all our kids and their friends... and our friends can enjoy it for years to come.

Check out our before and after shots below and come over to play anytime!!  Funny thing about all this... Tricia still has no idea what we have been building in the basement.  She calls it the "box" and was more than happy to help prime it :)

PS - tomorrow the baby chicks come (1 day old) so that is the other exciting thing this week and I will get posting about them too, there is just no time when so much fun happens all at once!  Ok, here are the photos.

Cabinet #1 - the Fridge

Cabinet #2 - the Stove/oven
Cabinet #3 - The Sink

Starting to take shape :)
Looking like a kitchen, but too serious...
Tada!  It's my dream come true!  Oh the meals we will make together!

THe dishes are a combo of collected Asian grocery finds, Costco from Mimi, Ikea dishware and the dollarstore

The oven and sink cabinets are painted with magnetic paint, I just have to find some more fun magnets I have stashed somewhere... why can't I ever remember where I put things to keep them organized??

6 burner gas range just like her mamas!!

Utensils ready at hand
I want to freak out with excitement over this bread pan inspired "icemaker"

So there you have it.  The results of many hours of marital bliss enjoyed in the basement complete with fumes, cold beer and the intense thrill of having so much love for a little gal that this labour of love was as fun for us as we hope the kitchen is for her...

Saturday 4 February 2012

For all my Indian feast students - Masala Chai!

Masala Chai As with every spiced dish, once you read this, the recipe is yours to do with as you wish, so experiment and enjoy! 

1 x 3" piece cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
8 whole cloves
8 whole green cardamom, lightly crushed
6 whole black peppercorns
4 slices fresh ginger
2 cups water
2 Tbsp loose black tea or 4 x tea bags (Darjeeling is preferred)
2 cups milk
1-2 Tbsp Sugar or more to taste (sugar is traditional and helps bring out the complexity of the spices)
1 tsp vanilla

1.  In a stove top tea pot, medium saucepan or tea kettle combine the dry spices, ginger and water.  Bring to a boil.  Add the tea and continue cooking for 1 minute.

2.  Reduce the heat, add the milk and simmer on low for 10 minutes in order for the spices to infuse and the tea to get good and strong.

3.  Remove from heat, stir in sugar and vanilla and if using a glass kettle, serve.  If using a saucepan use a small strainer to carefully lift the larger spices out of the pot and them pour the whole mixture into a tea pot with a built in strainer small enough to catch the remaining spices (don't worry if you don't have the right tea pot, the tea I was served when I fell in love with this drink always had spices floating around). If using a tea kettle, place a small strainer over each cup as you serve the tea in order to catch the spices as they pour out (be prepared for a little spilling).

4.  Gather sweet friends or neighbours and enjoy one anothers company over a cup of chai!

Note:  You can also turn this recipe into a spice syrup you can then just stir into hot milk when you feel like it.  To adjust the recipe, just omit the milk and all but 1/2 cup of water and increase the sugar to 2 Tbsp. Cook to dissolve sugar, strain, chill and keep in a squeeze bottle for easy access.  You will likely use about 2 Tbsp of syrup for a nice big cup or a small pot of masala chai.