Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lovely Bones

I have a confession...I have a sweet spot for vintage platters. Iron stone, bone china, ceramic, pottery; I really don't discriminate. I limit myself to thrift stores, scratch and dent and the mismatched bin at Antique stores to keep my costs down. My dream is to use all of the platters to present my baked goods at my bed and bakery one day! Until then, they're used for personal baking and I'd like to get a few on the walls. Here are three I picked up last week at the Value Village:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Blues

It's the simple things in life that make me happy, and rearranging my buffet decor is one of those things. I was in a bit of a blue (colour only) mood on the weekend, and this is what I came up with!

Happy Monday everyone, hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fab Find Friday: Kitchen Tins

With 2013 being the year of bread and all as noted here...I just couldn't pass up taking this sweet girl home with me last weekend when I visited the thrift store. She is a Kromex original, and according to some internet research selling for upwards of $75 (not bad considering I paid $5).

Then, in pure kismet, my friend's sister posted these great cannisters on Facebook, and I had to have new girl needs some company:) Jayne is just starting to sell her pickings through her shop Shakey's Vintage, so please check out her Etsy Page:)

Bad lighting= not being able to read Flour, Coffee, Tea

One big happy family...if only we could find the runaway sugar!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Menu Planning Progress

As I noted in my looking back post, menu planning was definitely not one of my strengths in 2012. It was inconsistant, non-existant and just plain hard. Edie blogged this past week about her menu planning process in three parts (one, two, three), and although I really like her idea of using reoccurring calendar meetings as a tool, I came to the conclusion that menu planning is personal. Every household is different, and just because something works in a kitchen in Tennessee, Toronto or Timbuktu; doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you.

Sunday's latest prep

I've been working at it for the last few weeks and here's what i've found works for me so far:

  • I plan no more than 3 meals for the week. Life happens and that usually means that we aren't eating together or at home  twice a week. Anything more than this also feels like too much pressure.
  • Prep your meals, scan your pantry & fridge, write a grocery list and shop once. I used to end up having to stop at the grocery store multiple times during the week because I didn't have all the ingredients for the meal I wanted to make. Shopping to a list also results in a cheaper more efficient trip at the grocery store!
  • I don't necessarily prepare full meals on the weekend. I make a combination of full meals and prepped ingredients. For example, this weekend I made the sauce for pasta, so I just need to stir-fry the meat and veggies, a soup and a quinoa main dish. Last weekend I made a chili, prepped chicken burger patties, made oatmeal to go and marinated steak.
  • Pre-portion your meals, whether they're in individual portions or meal-size portions, this certainly makes cooking during the week a lot easier!

How about you? Do you plan your meals on the weekend, or wing it throughout the week? If you do plan, what tools or recipes have you found the most helpful?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fab Find Friday: Apothecary Jars

I found both of these jars at the thrift store. I picked up the larger one last weekend, and the little guy in the summer. These would be great in the bathroom or on a vanity. They both needed a little TLC, but nothing a little soap and hot water couldn't fix!

Happy Friday to you all!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sweet Guy

I've decided it wouldn't be my blog without a regular picture of one of my fur-babies. I apologize in advance for anyone with a sheer hatred of cats, people who call their animals their babies or people who have far too many pictures of their pets (read: way more than I have of humans).

My little buddy was in this pose waiting for me when I came home from work last week. I immediately snapped his picture. I think it looks like we took him to Sears for a portrait session! 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Oatmeal On The Go

I love making baked oatmeal on the weekends, and I usually end up putting leftovers in a pyrex to take with me to work during the week. That was until I came across Katie's recipe for oatmeal cupcakes. It makes two dozen, so I decided to make half a batch of chocolate chip and half a batch of blueberry! I used brown sugar instead of stevia, but maple syrup would work well too. They were great freshly baked (Chris had four), and I took two to work today that I didn't have time to warm up and they were still delicious (and filling)! They're great because you can freeze them and just pull them out whenever you need them. They're also a great way to use up overripe bananas!

Baker & Co Ltd Plate thrifted

Oatmeal On The Go
  • 5  cups oatmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp brown sugar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • optional: 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 cups over-ripe mashed banana, measured after mashing (About 6 bananas)
  • 2 2/3 cups water (if you use maple syrup, cut water by 1/3)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp oil 
  • 2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • optional add-ins:, shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, ground flax or wheat germ, raisins or other dried fruit, etc.
Preheat oven to 380 F, and line 24-25 cupcake tins. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir very well. In a separate bowl, combine and stir all wet ingredients (including banana). Mix wet into dry, then pour into the cupcake liners and bake 21 minutes. If you're making two flavours, split the batch before adding inclusions. I used 1/3 cup chocolate chips in one batch and 1/3 cup blueberries in the other batch.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bread Winner!

OK, so you know the story here from yesterday; I had a hankering for some garlic breadsticks to go with my pasta e fagioli. Lucky for me, the grocery store didn't have any, and I had to try my hand at bread yet again. Given my recent history of severe disappointment, my expectations were low (and Chris' were even lower given he asked if we had "backup bread" in anticipation of yet another epic fail).

I have loved Annie's blog for a long time, and she was the first person I turned to when considering a roll recipe. Her soft garlic knots fit the bill, and didn't seem too complicated. She has a great step by step guide, and amazingly they turned out perfectly! The only change I made was to mix with the dough hook for about 5 minutes and not 8 minutes.

After they had finished rising the second time and topping was brushed on

Fresh from the oven

Served with soup!

So here's what I think, I am going to continue making bread from Annie's recipes. The winning combination for my success is bread flour and instant yeast. I know my grandmother who has made bread every week for as long as I can remember would probably say this is cheating, but given my excitement for how well these turned out; I really don't care. I'm calling 2013 the Year of Bread:)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Soup's On!

Do you ever get a craving that you just need to give in to? I'm a big believer in giving into cravings in moderation, and last week I was majorly craving Olive Garden's Pasta e Fagioli soup and garlic breadsticks. The only problem is that Olive Garden doesn't exist in Canada. I thought about asking Chris to drive me to Buffalo, but that just seemed plain silly (after thinking about it long enough)!

So, I did what any other good home cook would do and put my trust in google! Turns out this is a very popular soup to try to copy at home, there were tons of options out there, but the reviews on this one just seemed too good to not make it my first choice! All in all it turned out awesome. When I make it again (and you can bet the farm I will), I will wait until the soup is fully cooled before adding the noodles to store it. Those little noodles can suck up broth like no ones business!

Recipe adapted from Top Secret Recipes

1 pound of ground beef
1 small onion diced
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 cup of diced celery
2 cloves garlic minced
1 large can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans with liquid
1 can small white beans with liquid
1 can pasta sauce
2 small cans or 1 1/2 cups V8 juice
1 Tbsp white vinegar
11/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 pound ditali pasta 

1. Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan over medium heat, drain off any remaining fat
2. Add in the onion, carrots, celery, carrots and garlic, saute for 10 minutes over medium heat
3.Add all remaining ingredients except the pasta, let simmer for an hour
4. Cook the pasta until al dente

To serve immediately, put some the amount of pasta of your choice in your bowl, add the remaining soup.

To store: cool the soup entirely in the fridge. Add in the pasta at that time so there is not chance of the soup further cooking the pasta, and less chance of your broth being sucked up!

Tomorrow I will be blogging about the garlic knots I made to accompany the soup. They were officially my first wildly successful bread item, so I was very proud and can't wait to share just how easy they are!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Guest Room Bounty

I don't spend a lot of time in our guest room, but with my mom visiting over the holidays, I enjoyed spending some time in there. We have added a few finds since I first posted about the infamous boat room last February, so I thought I'd show you a few of the changes:

We've been keeping an eye out for east coast pinnies throughout the antique season, and last year we picked up this gem from the Hopewell Rocks for $5 at Aberfoyle. It had even more meaning now that we have visited the natural wonder together!

Don't mind the cat in this photo (she doesn't get to spend much time in this room, so she couldn't wait to explore). The bed has been accented with two of the sugar sack pillows I made last year (DIY can be found here).

I picked up this great jar with Chris' mom at a Labour Day flea market last year, and I just love it. I think it would make a great base for a DIY lamp on day (similar to the one Layla just bought!)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fab Find Friday: Triangle Kitchen Mat

I was in desperate need of a new kitchen mat. My old one was an Ikea as-is department find, had been through the wash one too many times and was starting to come undone. To me a kitchen mat needs to be thick to serve any purpose at all, and this one certainly fit the bill. I refuse to pay full price for just about everything, so I was pleased when I found this guy in the clearance section of Homesense for $20. It is the perfect size and its muted colours are a good fit for our kitchen

Happy Friday everyone, I'm looking forward to the start of my January hibernation challenge!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tea Time

I don't know about you, but for some reason getting together with family = drinking a lot of tea in our household. My mom came to visit from Boxing Day to New Years Eve, so we got plenty of time for tea!

For the longest time we only drank plain orange pekoe in my family, but in the last few years we've all branched out a little. I'm loving loose leaf rooibos, green and herbal teas. Dad loves the apple cinnamon and white blueberry from Tim Horton's and mom's really into a citrus spice rooibos from Shoppers.

Here are some if my loose leaf favourites:

David's Tea Winter 2012 Alpine Punch, Gunpowder Taffy (discontinued), Creme Caramel Rooibos, Hojicha Creme (discontinued), nourishtea canadian breakfast.

The only problem with finding a good tea, is that sometimes it gets discontinued, so if you find something you like- buy lots!

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