In My Kitchen

Cutting Board Rejuvenation

I am a big fan of my wooden cutting boards in my kitchen. I have different types of wood and different shapes. Not only do I use them multiple times daily I also like to have them displayed on the counter. This means I need to keep them looking fresh. I always wash them after use but sometimes, just like many areas of the home, they need a deep clean. In an attempt to move more chemical-free at home, I did some research to come up with a cleaning recipe used by many. Effective and as natural as it gets.

What you will need:

Lemon cut in half, use one half of a lemon per cutting board

Coarse Sea Salt

White Vinegar (you can also use a vinegar cleaning agent)

Oil

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Start by covering the board in white vinegar.  Sprinkle a heavy dose of sea salt all over the cutting board. Use your half lemon to scrub it into the wood. While doing this, squeeze the lemon so that the juices pour out. I did this for about two minutes. Then pour a couple tablespoons of oil onto the board. Continue scrubbing with the lemon, mixing the oil into the salt and vinegar and covering the entire surface of the cutting board. Do this for about one minute. Let sit for fifteen minutes. Rinse clean. Voila! Fresh and clean, looking good and ready for use.

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French Toast In A Pinch

Well not really but a close second for sure! I wanted to share a holiday favourite with you, a little after the holidays. I meant to make a big batch of this and give it away in mini mason jars as Christmas gifts for friends. Like many, time slipped away from me and the holidays we over. Still, I couldn’t resist this super simple recipe, a staple in our home: Cinnamon Butter! This batch should probably be called cinnamon-maple-vanilla-honey-butter though. If you have read any of my food posts before, you know that I tend to veer away from following recipes. I am more of an instinct person when it comes to ingredients. A dash here, a heavy hand there. In the end, if it tastes good it is probably working just fine. So rather than share exact measurements, I am just going to tell you the ingredients and steps. Everyone has different tastes so feel free to add more of one thing and less of another. Spread it on your morning toast and it tastes very close to french toast with half the work and none of the clean up. A win-win for all the busy mommas out there.

Ingredients:

Butter – I use unsalted and a full pound. This made five mini mason jars.

Cinnamon – my personal favourite is by Watkins.

Maple Syrup – use the real stuff, not pancake syrup.

Vanilla extract

White Sugar – many of you will shake your head at that one but I am sure all the bakers can appreciate it’s importance.

Honey – liquefy before adding.

Mix all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and MIX. I went old school and used a vintage hand egg-beater that my mom had. I was feeling the need to work out some aggression. Probably something to do with the kitchen faucet exploding that morning OR the furnace shutting down for 24 hours and leaving us all shivering our booties off. It’s been a tough week here! Using the hand mixer actually whipped up my butter and made it super frothy though so I will no doubt use that method in future. Taste as you go and add more of ingredients depending on your taste. In my case, it was all of them! But the result was perfection. Every buttery time. Enjoy! Full disclosure: Not the healthiest option and tastes even better on white bread. YUM!

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Toddler Tummies

I remember when I used to think of being a mom and having babies, I had all sorts of hopes and dreams for the type of parent I would be. I like to pride myself in being a rather relaxed parent but there are things that I have always been strict about. Bedtimes. Lots of cuddles. Bath time and brushing teeth. After experiencing a newborn baby, an infant, a baby and now a toddler, I feel like I should send out a disclaimer that corrects many things I said PRE-parenting. The truth is, you just have no idea until you are in it. It’s survival of the fittest. If it works, you do it. My little girl was in total hysterics the other day because I took away the disgusting dirty Freezie that had been dropped in the grass seven times while she tried to eat it. She was so upset and it broke my heart so much that I handed it back to her. I have no idea if she played with it or simply ate it but that filthy blue popsicle was all that made her smile in that moment. Don’t even get me started with how happy she was ten minutes later when I am almost positive she ate a dragonfly! I am not saying she is the boss all the time and that the slightest tantrum will win her all battles. I am not saying that at all! I am fully admitting though that you need to pick your battles wisely. Some of them are not worth the tears. With all of that being said, I feel it is the perfect segway into the topic of food! Toddlers are picky as hell. If they like it today, tomorrow it will end up splattered across your face. Or all the way up your walls and all over your crisp, freshly washed white linen curtains. Toddlers also have the ‘chipmunk winter-food-storing-ability’ down to a science. This girl will chew up about fourteen baby carrots, hold them discreetly in her cheeks, and wait until about an hour later when you are cuddling on the sofa and spit them out all over you. What the logic behind this for her is I have absolutely no idea. She sure finds it funny though. As I fight my way through the darkness in identifying what foods will and will not work, I wanted to share a few tasty treat ideas that are a success in our home- this week anyways. I have probably jinxed it now!

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These mini pizzas were delicious and a hit with those big and small. I picked up what I can only compare to Naan Bread from our local bakery, infused with spinach and herbs. Drizzled with tomato sauce, topped with prosciutto and mozzarella (some grated and fresh), and baked for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. I even like to grill the top a little bit to brown and bubble the mozza. Slice them up small for baby and serve as is for mom and dad. Bon appetit!

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Hallie is slightly obsessed with Munchies Mix – the mix that has sun chips, cheetos, pretzels, etc. Not going to lie, I love them too. Instead of buying a bag of that though I bought a bag of each type of chip in it (more or less) and mixed it all together in a jumbo zip lock bag. I then divided up the mixture into these plastic mason jars. These plastic jars are the best! They store easily, stack, travel well to the park, I LOVE them!!! Very kid friendly too. Oh and husband friendly! Henry cannot open a bag of chips to save his life. We always end up with a long rip down the bag and stale chips, so this is a great solution for him too.

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Homemade Guacamole is possibly my favourite snack ever. It may as well be a meal. Today in fact I ate a bowl of guac which consisted of at least three avocados. Good fats right? (Don’t care..) I follow a very simple gauc recipe. Perfectly ripe avocados, lime juice and lemon juice, chopped cilantro, fresh ground pepper and cayenne pepper. Sometimes I will add a few tablespoons of a really nice salsa just to excite things but trust me, it isn’t necessary! Nothing like fresh ingredients. It also helped that a certain little lady LOVED dipping her tortilla chips in it.

Until next week when she decides she hates all of the above mentioned snacks and we need to turn to Pinterest for new ideas. I don’t know if I have thick enough skin though. It slightly hurts my feelings when she hates my cooking or hard work & preparation haha!

Fried Chicken

This recipe came from a few weeks ago and I had intended to share it, but forgot all about it. Do you ever get a hankering for some good fried chicken? I LOVE fried chicken. It has to be authentic though. No Shake & Bake for this lady. I picked up this gem of a cookbook, ‘Fried & True’ in the clearance bin at Superstore and it has just about every form of fried chicken you can think of. I am even tempted to purchase a deep fryer to make nights like this happen more often… however then I would have deep fried food that much easier and I am not so sure that is a very good idea after all! This meal was fairly laborious but when it came time to eat, it was well worth the pain and effort.

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After a long contemplation, I decided fried potato cakes were the best side to accompany my fried chicken. Yes, more fried! Can you feel your arteries clogging yet? To balance things out, there is nothing like fresh cut raw veggies. We need to be slightly healthy here folks. I am filing this meal under the so yummy that my mouth waters thinking about it but major pain in the ass to make. All in all, well worth it for this fried-chicken-craving preggo momma!

Blueberry Pancakes & Sunshine

The sun was out in full force this morning which meant it really felt like Spring. Not a single dark cloud to threaten the day so we celebrated with some homemade blueberry pancakes. We are total breakfast people so I don’t really need any excuse to whip up a batch of hot cakes. Not to mention, Hallie LOVES them! Add in some fresh blueberries and it makes them even better – more mess! I am not sure what it is but my child needs to make an enormous mess whenever food is consumed. I wanted to share my go-to pancake recipe with you. Easy & delicious!

1   3/4 cups all purpose flour

2   teaspoons baking powder

1/4   teaspoon salt

1   tablespoon sugar

2   large eggs

1  1/4   cup milk

4    tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1   cup fresh blueberries

In a mixing bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and combine with blueberries. Warm your greased frying pan on medium-high heat. Use a ladle to spoon out your desired amount for each pancake, cooking until bubbles appear. Flip to cook other side – usually about a minute each side. That is it really. Time to eat!

So that was our lazy morning. Eating many pancakes, making lots of messes, and getting out in the sunshine. We also snuck in a quick shopping visit to the Carters store – some ADORABLE Spring finds in there right now including a great clearance section. I love this denim top and these eyelet lace tee’s  are perfect for adding some color to winter/spring transitional pieces. I picked up this Fox Sweater for $5, and the best 80’s inspired cardigan, sold out online but shown in the photos below. Can I get an amen for 80’s inspired baby clothes? Hallie pulls them off so well. Girl looks great in bloomers too.

Time to catch the last bit of sun in the backyard before dinner – love these longer days! Thank goodness for black out blinds though keeping a certain someone’s bedtime consistent! Hope you are having a wonderful Tuesday afternoon, filled with sunshine and toddler messes and smiles!

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Gobble, Gobble, Gobble…

Happy Thanksgiving! We are celebrating today, on Sunday, though many people I have talked to had an early Saturday celebration. Then there are the lucky ones who have multiple turkey dinners to attend and will likely be enjoying more deliciousness tomorrow! In my opinion, the more celebrating you do with food, the better.

We were in full swing today with our inappropriately sized turkey. I plan on freezing a lot of it so hopefully we get to enjoy many meals from my expensive birdie here. This year I decided to try a meat injector that my mom sent me. Never having done this before, I turned to Google. There have been years when we have brined the turkey and years where we have just seasoned and roasted. This year, I felt like the mad scientist with my giant syringe. I found a great recipe that included beer (thank you Old Milwaukee), butter, Worcestershire, tabasco, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. A few shots into each breast and under the skin and we were ready to go. I slathered the remaining sauce on top and sprinkled rosemary to keep in time with tradition. Into the oven she went for five hot and sweaty hours. Accompanying our bird was homemade stuffing, green friends including sprouts, beans and broccoli, roasted potatoes and just to keep things saucy, gravy and cheese sauce. It might sound complicated but it was a very low maintenance meal when it is spread out over that amount of time.

Now that the food has all been eaten (and frozen), the sangria is drained and our bellies are full, it is time to relax and watch Blue Jays hopefully kick some butt. I am so thankful for my family and that we have a warm and cozy house to call home. I hope all of you have a fantastic Thanksgiving and enjoy this very special holiday weekend. Time to hit the gym now . . .

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Thanksgiving Meal Prep

I can’t believe we are already well into October and it is Thanksgiving weekend! Seriously, where does the fricken time go? Hallie will also be ONE on Friday! I am baffled at how the last year passed by so quickly. When you watch a tiny baby grow into a toddler it really puts time into perspective. But enough time of reflect because it’s high time we cooked a turkey. Or at least prepped for cooking it tomorrow.

It’s our first holiday in our new home and new life in Kamloops. Even though there is only going to be three of us in attendance, I still felt the need to go all out with the usual Thanksgiving meal. I found a great local butcher and though I probably shouldn’t have, ordered a fresh local  bird. I requested the tiniest turkey possible, falling in the 11-15 pound category. I had a mild heart attack this afternoon when I went and picked up (and paid a ridiculous price for) my NINETEEN POUND birdie! WTF. May as well invite the entire Food Bank over now. I have not told hubby how much I paid for this chubby chickadee either. I will drown my broke ass sorrows in wine tonight though!

Since the real cooking action does not take place until tomorrow, I had a full afternoon of preparation on my hands. Now either I have done this meal too many times, or the shiraz has numbed all nerves, but I found it relatively stress-free and enjoyable. Or maybe it’s because no one is coming over. That sure relieves the usual holiday tension as well. I have decided to share some of my prep pictures and recipes, just in case you are in a last minute scramble looking for some tasty ideas.

Fall Inspired Sangria:

This was inspired by my new neighbours. I went to a shopping party the other night (yes, a shopping party) fuelled with this sangria and boy was it tasty. I am also never one to flow recipes exactly so feel free to toy around with the ingredients. I have a feeling though that this particular concoction will result in a very happy Thanksgiving afternoon.

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1 bottle chardonnay, 2 cups club soda, 2 cups white grapefruit juice, 2 cups rum (I used spiced rum for an extra kick), 1 cup sugar, half a bag of cranberries, chopped apples (I used Honey Crisp and Granny Smith). Let it sit and simmer for 24 hours, add ice and get tanked! I will let you know how it goes…

Homemade Stuffing For The Bird:

I am known to cook up some stove top stuffing on a normal day but the holiday calls for the homemade goods. There are countless recipes out there and sometimes it is fun to try variations that include sausage and apple and nuts. This year we are sticking with the traditional flavours. Three days ago I ripped up a bag of white sliced bread and let it go stale. I combined 2 cups of celery, 2 cups of onions, butter and the usual spice suspects in a sauce pan and let those babies sizzle. My kitchen smelt amazing! In a large mixing bowl mix together 2.5 cups of chicken stock, the stale bread, 2 eggs beaten, the celery/onion combo and salt and pepper. Go easy on your salt though because once you cross that sodium line, you can’t go back. That’s it. Refrigerate the mixture overnight and stuff that birdie with it in the morning. (On a side note here, if the turkey is done and your stuffing is still a bit soggy, bake it under the grill and it will crisp right up. Most importantly those turkey juices have become one with your stuffing, all getting ready for a party in your grateful mouth.)

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Cranberry Sauce:

Every time I make cranberry sauce I miss one of my best girl friends so so much. Maria, this batch is for you. We have a tradition of making cranberry sauce (while drinking) and I feel super nostalgic whenever I have to complete this task on my own. Much like stuffing, there are a TON of recipes out there. My favourite includes orange zest but since it is a sparsely attended meal this year, I am keeping it simple. I even followed the directions on the packet so that just shows you my imagination is limited right now. I did add a splash of whiskey and a sprinkle of nutmeg because it is tradition and really adds a punch of flavour. I highly recommend you take a peak in your liquor cabinet and see what secret sauce you can add to your own recipe! Untitled

My last tip is don’t forget to keep that little one busy. Here is my attempt while my husband turned our living room in to a construction zone and I prepped for our MASSIVE meal that shall go down tomorrow. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving prep to you!

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