Friday, January 29, 2010

there's always a better way

Remember when, on a Try it Tuesday, I substituted eggs for ground flax and water in a recipe?

I wanted to do that again recently in a batch of banana muffins, but I couldn't remember the ratio of flax to water, so I Googled it. Oddly enough, the first few hits indicated a different method than what I had used before. The amounts are the same (1 tbsp. flax to 3 tbsp. water) but every link I clicked said to simmer the two ingredients together, rather than chill in the fridge like last time.

And it worked better! I took the lazy route and stuck the mixture in the microwave on high for 30 seconds and the result was a much more egg-whitey texture than before.

Try it!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

reason #897 I want to a house

Whoever designed the bathtubs in our apartment building must be a shower person. The back of the tub doesn't recline. It's straight up and down. Completely perpendicular to the bottom. Square. It just makes no sense. Who wants to sit up straight in the bath? Not me. Not you.

Rounded, high-sided bathtubs are now officially on my dream house list.

try it tuesday: follow-up

The squash casserole was delish! I didn't take a picture because frankly, I find most mushed up casseroles don't look all that appetizing when made in a slow cooker.

Lovely friends A and T came over for the taste test and we all stared in to the pot quite skeptically, but we were hungry enough that it didn't really matter. To my surprise, it was incredibly flavourful, maybe even more-so than the baked version.

To clarify, the squash I used was actually a winter squash, not summer squash. And it was grown by my Grampie Stan, which made it extra tasty. When I try this recipe again, I think I'll use two boxes of Stovetop instead of one. Because I have an oval, three-quart slow cooker, the casserole turned out quite shallow in the dish and the single box of Stovetop barely covered the bottom and the top, as instructed.

This Try it Tuesday gets 5 big stars!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

try it tuesday

Finally! I'm back. I swear. For real this time.

This Christmas, I received my very first slow cooker. It's surprising that someone like me, who has always loved to cook and collected kitchen gadgets, has never owned a slow cooker. And while I wouldn't categorize it as life-changing, like the Magic Bullet, it is pretty convenient.

My first attempt: Baked beans. I used Mum and Grammie's trusted recipe, and while they weren't quite the same as the beans I grew up with, they were pretty tasty. What I loved most was how easy it was. I tossed in a few ingredients, set it and forgot about it. They simmered all day while I did other things, and voila, dinner is served. I know, this isn't revolutionary information, but it's new to me!

Tonight, I decided to tackle a family favourite — squash casserole.

Here's what I used:
2 lbs. yellow summer squash, sliced (about 6 cups)
half a medium onion, chopped
1 cup grated carrot
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flour
8 oz. package seasoned stuffing crumbs (I used turkey Stovetop)
1/2 cup butter

Combine squash, onion, carrots and soup.
Mix together sour cream and flour. Add to vegetables.
Toss stuffing mix and butter. Spread half in bottom of slow cooker. Add vegetable mixture. Top with remaining stuffing.
Cover. Cook on low for 7 to 9 hours.

And the jury's still out, because it's still cooking! But I'll report back tomorrow and let you know how it tastes!

A big congratulations to Karen who completed her mission of 365 days of slow cooking and living to blog about it! She posted her final recipe today. Click here to enjoy her many unique Crock Pot ideas.

What are your favourite slow cooker recipes or websites?

Monday, January 18, 2010

not me monday

— I never get the urge to shoulder check people out of the way on the sidewalk when I'm running. I'm totally patient when slow-moving pedestrians decide to walk directly in the centre of the sidewalk with no consideration for anyone else around them.

— I did not ignore our growing pile of laundry in favour of laying on the couch with lots of bad re-runs this weekend. I'm always productive and never, ever lazy.

— I did not regret my career choice today when Husband got to go home at lunchtime because school was canceled.

Friday, January 15, 2010

you are what you eat?

If you really are what you eat, then I'm a walking, talking carbohydrate.

I feel like I've been eating poorly lately (and no, I'm not talking about the traditional Christmas over-eat, though that totally happened, too). I would like to blame all the running. Running burns a whole lot of calories, which makes you hungry. In my case, makes me specifically hungry for carbs.

Enter the gadget that has changed my life:

Since purchasing a Magic Bullet during a boxing week sale, Husband and I have increased our fruit intake by 100%. OK, that's not an exact figure, but it has to be close.

It's hard to keep fresh produce in stock at all times, unless I want to spend several lunch hours each week trekking to the store for replenishments. And breakfast is the trickiest meal for me, since I don't eat eggs, bacon or much cereal. Fruit smoothies made from frozen fruit give us an amazing burst of healthy energy in the morning. Our basic recipe is about a cup of frozen berries, one banana, a couple splashes of whatever juice is in the fridge and a few generous dollops of vanilla yogurt.

And the Magic Bullet not just perfect for smoothies (yes, I am pointing to my Magic Bullet in a very Vana White kind of way). We've also made chocolate milk shakes, sun dried tomato veggie dip, and I've also used to to shred onions and grind flax seeds.

Has your life ever been altered by an appliance? Got any Magic Bullet recipes to share?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

easy update

I've really detested our living room throw-pillow covers for a while. The biggest problem is that they are ivory and the pillows inside are the same chocolate brown colour as the couch, so I find the darker colour shows through the lighter colour and they just look dingy.


See what I mean? I've kept my eye out for inexpensive covers or alternative fabric for months, but haven't found anything that suits. That is, until I emptied out my sewing back the other day and discovered our old bedroom curtains. I bought the curtains for next to nothing, but when I replaced them with the ones I made, it seemed a waste to throw them out. So the stayed in the bottom of my fabric pile until a snowy day last week.


They're kind of hard to photograph because, with the flash, they look shinier than they are in reality. They're a smooth gold fabric that actually match the love seat throw perfectly. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

house hunters

Husband and I have finally taken the plunge and we are officially house hunting.

It's really exciting and scary at the same time. At this point, we're taking it slow and compiling a list of likes and dislikes in the houses we see.

On our wish list:
— 3 bedrooms (or more if it's within the budget)
— decent yard space
— a spacious kitchen/space to entertain
— significant storage/closets

That said, what if a house isn't the way to go at this point? Husband is still unsure about the work situation for next September, and it would be great to keep saving money. What do you think about condos? I've talked to friends who have been met with huge unexpected fees, and I've also chatted with others who praise the benefits of home ownership without the hassles of maintenance.

Calling all experienced house hunters out there — what are the first features and flaws you look for when viewing a potential new home?

Monday, January 4, 2010

not me monday

— I have never taken a ridiculously long blog break. Not to mention, I never put off projects, avoid tasks or procrastinate on, well, everything.

— I would never eat one more chocolate, even though I'm completely full, just because it's Christmas.

— I maintained my running schedule throughout the Christmas break. I would never use lame excuses to keep my butt on the couch.

— I am super enthusiastic to go back to work on this lovely Monday. I'm completely rejuvenated and do not wish for a snow day. Why do the biggest snow storms always come on Saturdays?