Wednesday, September 29, 2010

House Cleaning

On today’s agenda is some muffins (with a recipe link), a coffee give away, a contest and some eats!  Let’s get started, shall we?
As I mentioned in my last post I had baked some muffins.  Pumpkin Double Chip muffins, to be exact.
I found the recipe in a Taste of Home magazine that I was flipping through at the library while waiting for DS’s game to start on Sunday.  I knew right away it was a keeper and quickly jotted it down on a scrap of paper.  As usual, I made a few changes so here they are:
  1. Took the sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 of a cup
  2. Used a 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the 1/3 cup of oil
  3. Used a 1/2 cup of Egg Beaters instead of 2 eggs
  4. Omitted oat flour entirely and used ALL whole wheat
  5. Used 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips in place of the 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  6. Completely omitted the cinnamon sugar topping
Not that I have the original recipe to compare mine to, but these were fantastic!  I ended up with 21 muffins and the fam and I have have been making quick work of them!
Second on the agenda would be my eats.  And I have been consuming some awesome ones!  I seem to be on a real rice kick lately.  You’ll see that in just a minute!IMG_3577 This was the last 2 pieces of my multi grain bread turned into eggy French toast.  Mmmm…
IMG_3570 IMG_3579 Leftovers from dinner above and below!  LOL
IMG_3573 IMG_3578 IMG_3574 Honey Crisp!!IMG_3575 IMG_3576 Above is the most amazing meal I’ve eaten in awhile!  Caroline’s Coconut Black Beans with Mango.  Try this….it will change your life.  Seriously.  And as Caroline advises DO NOT skip the coconut butter!!  This was served over white basmati rice.  Perfection.IMG_3580 This was the fam’s meal tonight.  This morning I put a (frozen) turkey breast in the crock pot with some veggies to make some stock and meat for tonight.  Because meat tends to get tough after being boiled I knew I needed to put it into something on the saucy side.  This pasta dish is quick, easy and creamy enough to perk up dry meat.  Simply prepare 2 Sidekick noodle packs (whatever flavour you like) according to package directions.  Just before the sauce is thickened add a few cups of shredded turkey or chicken meat and 2 cups of frozen peas.  Bring back to temperature and serve.   Kids lurve this!  (The stock is currently cooling in the fridge and will go into the freezer later on).  This is what I whipped up for myself tonight:IMG_3582 IMG_3581 Leftover peppers and sauce, peas and turkey served over brown basmati rice.  Yum yum!
Do you love coffee?  If so you really should go visit Kelsey for a great giveaway on some organic plain (and flavoured) coffee.  And while there it will totally be worth your time to check out her muffin recipes.  I made some of the espresso chocolate chip muffins and they were da bomb!!
And Nature’s Path is hosting a fabulous getaway contest!!    Do you dream of white sand beaches, luxurious spas or rolling green hills during your 3pm snack time? If so, Nature’s Path can make your daydreams come true with their 3PMmmm Photo Sweepstakes on Facebook. What is a 3PMmmm moment you ask? It’s that delicious time of the day when you take your snack break. It could be hiking, sitting in traffic, post-yoga, walking the dog and picking up kids from school.  All you need to do is share a photo of your 3PMmmm Photo moment to win a grand prize of one of three exciting eco-vacations: a Hawaiian tour, spa resort getaway in Tofino, Canada or a visit to an organic farm in Oregon's Willamette Valley!!! 
There will also be a weekly winner of a prize package full of Nature's Path goodness. 
This is what you have to do is to enter this amazing contest:
1.       “Like” Nature’s Path’s Facebook page
2.       Click on the 3PMmmm Contest tab
3.       Click on the Get Started (or Enter tab at the top)
4.       Share their 3PMmmm moment by uploading a photo of their 3PMmmm moment
5.       Each photo you submit, and the more people you tag, the more entries you get (up to 50 entries per person, per week).
**Please note: This promotion is running now and will end November 14, 2010 at 11:59PM PT. It is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Limit fifty (50) entries per person, per email address, per week during the Promotion Period. Multiple participants are not permitted to share the same email address. More official rules can be found in the 3PMmmm tab under Rules.**
What are you waiting for?   Go check these cool links for your chance to win!!  But first let me know what dream vacation YOU would choose if you won!!!  Have FUN…
Bye for now!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

How About Dem Apples?

We managed to fit a trip to the apple orchard (Chudleigh’s) in yesterday in between a soccer tryout and a hockey game.  My weekends have been jam packed with kid stuff and I was determined to do something un-sport related for an hour or so.  I’m not a HUGE apple fan, but there are 3 varieties that I enjoy.  And they happened to have all 3 ready as either “pick your own” or “pre picked”.   So what are my top 3?  Here you go, in order!

Honey Crisp:
Ginger Gold:

Royal Gala:

For some unknown reason I walked out of there with no Gala.  What a dork, but these are easy to find in the grocery store I shop at.  The other 2 are only sold a higher end stores which are all across town from me.  BOO!  I also bought a bag of McIntosh because it’s the only variety that DS will eat.IMG_3566
I think this was the reason I got thrown off course with the galas!  Anyways, here is some info on the varieties that I got:
Honeycrisp is an apple cultivar developed at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station's Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesota. Designated in 1974 as the MN 1711, and released in 1991, the Honeycrisp, once slated to be discarded, has rapidly become a prized commercial commodity, as its sweetness, firmness, and tartness make it an ideal apple for eating raw. The Honeycrisp also retains its pigment well and boasts a relatively long shelf life when stored in cool, dry conditions.”
Two Honeycrisp apples, showing the distinct two-toned coloring.

“Ginger Gold is one of the earliest commercial apple varieties to ripen, bearing in August on the east coast or even July in California. The fruit is conical and starts out a very pale green, though if left on the tree will ripen to a soft yellow with a slightly waxy appearance.  The primary use is for eating out of hand, though it can be used for most other purposes. The flesh, of a cream color, resists browning more than most varieties. The flavour is mild but with a tart finish.”

Malus Ginger-Gold.jpg

“Gala apples are small and are usually red with a portion being greenish or yellow-green, vertically striped. Gala apples are fairly resistant to bruising and are sweet, grainy, with a mild flavour and a thinner skin than most apples. Quality indices include firmness, crispness and sweetness.”
The orchard also has pumpkins, and lots of them.  I set DD out with my camera while we waited in a long line so these great photos are courtesy of her!IMG_3545 IMG_3546 IMG_3543 IMG_3544
We treated the kids to candy apples which they had never had before:
IMG_3548 IMG_3549  
Not surprisingly, DD made fast work of hers, DS started out strong but called it quits at the halfway point!IMG_3556
And I couldn’t leave without the prerequisite photo of my kids sitting on the pumpkins!IMG_3552
On Saturday I put the last of my yellow tomatoes to use in a quick, easy soup.  Let’s call it “Golden Tomato Soup”, shall we?IMG_3537
-3 ripe yellow tomatoes, wedged
-1 onion, wedged
-dashes of oregano, cumin, chilli powder, salt & pepper
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 cup stock or water
-1/2 milk (I used almond breeze)

*pre heat oven to 400*
*combine tomatoes, onions, spices and oil in a large bowl
*dump onto large cookie sheet and roast for 25 minutes
*put veggies and all juices into a stock pot and add water
*bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes
*puree (I used an immersion blender)
*add milk and bring back to temperature
*serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, sour cream or quark
This is very similar to my Butternut Squash soup.    Just different veg, but same delicious results!  And you could totally use red tomatoes!
Even though I’ve been changing up the format of my posts, food is still a big part of my world and I’d like to keep it as a key point in my posts.  So here are some of my eats from the past few days!IMG_3559
Dark chocolate cherry mocha oats
Nature’s Path hemp seed hot oats…
IMG_3540 IMG_3562 IMG_3541 IMG_3557
I had this turkey sub for dinner last night.  I never, ever get a foot long but last night I reasoned that the foot long was only 50 cents more than the 6”.  NEVER AGAIN!  This was WAY too much food and even though I didn’t eat it all, I still ate too much.  I was still full this morning and my stomach has not been happy with me today.  :/
The above dish was dinner tonight.  I sautéed 2 yellow and 2 red bell peppers with one onion, added some chicken thighs, tomato sauce and spices.  I served it over quinoa for a great meal!
IMG_3538 IMG_3564
I just pulled a batch of muffins out of the oven and the house smells GREAT.  I’ll save that recipe for my next post, though.  ;)
Flanigan Farms is offering a 15% Off Special Discount on Nuts ‘N’ Things® 1oz trail mix as an exclusive promotion geared to introduce new, healthy treats with Hallowe’en just around the bend.  You can choose from multi-packs of this “goblin food” in 18, 36 or 72 counts. These would be great to fill pumpkins & pillowcases on Halloween night, or sneak in a healthy snack for yourself.  All you have to do is visit, and enter coupon code SPOOK upon checkout. Offer expires Halloween night.  *Disclaimer:  I am not receiving any products from Flanigan Farms to post about this promotion*
Bye for now!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Let’s Talk About Hair and Tables and Food!

DD and I went for hair cuts last night.  By hair cuts I really mean hair “trims”.  Five years ago my hair was down to the centre of my back and I decided to cut it all off.  A decision I regretted about a week later!  I’ve been growing it back ever since but it’s been slow going.  I’d say now it’s just a bit longer than shoulder blade length.  DD and I go to the salon to every 8 weeks for what we like to call, TLT; trim, layer, thin.  My hair is quite thick and wavy so the layering and thinning ensure that I don’t go around looking like a triangle head.  And the trim?  Well, let’s hope that’s keeping my locks healthy enough to grow about 3-4 more inches before I turn 80.  Here’s what my main looked like in the morning:IMG_3519 IMG_3517
And here I am mid-cut (please excuse the drunk look on my face!!):IMG_3524 IMG_3525
The end product!IMG_3527
As long as it’s not humid/raining out I have my hair straightened.  It takes WAY too long to do myself so having someone do it for me is a real treat. 
A few weeks ago I posted a photo of a new conditioner I bought to try out.  I’ve used it a few times now so I’ve decided that seeing as we’re on the topic of hair I’d give you my opinion of it.IMG_3196
Firstly, it smells bad.  Like really strong mint/disinfectant bad.  I almost didn’t use it because I detest strong smelling stuff first thing in the morning, but I ploughed on.  As per my hairdresser, conditioner should only go on the ends of your hair, not your whole head so I followed her instruction.  Odour aside, this product really pumped up my hair in a good way!  After my usual quick blow-dry the bottom half of my hair was soft and full of volume.  My hair was in no way flat or “heavy” from the conditioner.  It didn’t feel slimy, either.IMG_3197  
I don’t know if I would buy this again because the scent of it is just too powerful, IMO.  But if that’s something that doesn’t bother you, I’d say give this a try!
Something else I’ve been up to is a nice bike ride with DS in some gorgeous fall weather along some beautiful trails:IMG_3512 IMG_3511
We made sure to be safe by wearing our helmets although the dark clothing was maybe not so wise as it was getting dark at the tail end of the ride!
The 2 of us love to ride our bikes but there is one drawback; we live at the top of a hill so no matter what route we take going home, uphill it is.  More often than not we walk the last little bit, dragging our bikes along.  :)IMG_3513
And it goes without saying that there has been hockey in my life this week, too! 
I’ve also been doing some online window shopping…a dangerous habit!  There are some great deals on nesting tables at CSN Stores right now. 
Three Piece Nesting Table in Oak
I think these units are a great idea for space challenged or awkwardly spaced rooms.  How easy would it be to stack them all up nicely and pull them apart as needed?  I also like the new coffee tables that store the 4 ottomans underneath.  Such space savers!
Here are a few of my eats over the past few days:IMG_3507 IMG_3505
Hands down my favourite Lara Bar ever! 
I mixed this superb granola with goat’s milk yogurt one day for a tasty little lunch.IMG_3529 IMG_3514 IMG_3522
I know this dish doesn’t look like much but it was bursting with flavour.  I roasted some tomatoes from the garden with an onion at 400* for 30 minutes and served it as a side.  I dredged some halibut fillets in flour seasoned with oregano, garlic powder, chilli powder, salt & pepper then pan fried it with a tad of olive oil.  Lastly, some quinoa finished off the plate.  It was amaze balls!
This was also a great dish.  I bought some curry marinated tempeh and stir fried it with brown rice, broccoli and some roasted red pepper dressing.  Fabulous meal for sure!!
Well, it’s getting late so I’ll be off.  We’ve got soccer tryouts (for next season) Saturday and Sunday and hockey Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.  It’ll be Monday before I know it!! 
What have you got planned this weekend?
Bye for now!!