Thursday, May 31, 2012

Digging In The Dirt

Hi bloggies... Last night's post was preempted by cooking class and a sick fur kid.  I tried posting but fell asleep with the laptop on my lap in bed... oops.

Let's talk gardening 

Flowers make me happy.  I love picking them out, strolling the garden centers and greenhouses, trading with friends,then creating pretty container gardens and flower beds.  Sadly I left most of my plants behind when I got divorced and then left the rest at my house when I sold it. I used to spend hours dead heading them, trimming them and yes I even talked to them.. lol (please don't judge). I could just tune out the world and relax.

Last summer I thought I'd like to give growing my own veggies a try, so I asked hubby to build me a raised bed at the side of the house. So off I went shopping for some transplants and came home with some purple kale (can you say kale chips), English cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower, and peppers. The kale, tomatoes and cucumbers were a huge success, the cauliflower and peppers, not so much.  The little critters, bugs or what have you decided they were pretty tasty and ate them all before they had a chance to grow into anything :(

This year I wanted to expand and try something different. I started growing some things from seed.
Fernando supervising.
I planted some carrots, arugula, 2 kinds of beets, mesclun mix, spinach and some other lettuce.  So far so good, they're actually growing, I just need to get them in the ground.

Aren't they cute??  

Of course this wasn't enough, so on the way by Farmer Clem's and the Superstore last weekend I stopped in just to see what they had.  I'm sure you know how that turned out.

There's going to be a whole lot of cooking with fresh herbs this year.  Parsley, Cilantro, Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Dill, 2 kinds of Basil and Curry.  There are a few lettuce plants thrown in there too along with some hot peppers (here's hoping the bugs don't like hot peppers).  I also had some garlic growing in the pantry so I threw that in the ground and it's coming along nicely.
If that's not enough I still have more seeds I need to get in and mom has a bunch of different kinds of Tomato plants.

The only negative to growing you're own, is you have to wait way too long for everything to grow.  Patience is not one of my strong suits. It'll be worth it though, and if everything grows I'll be eating LOTS of veggies and spreading some veggie love around to whoever I can.

Well, that's all I have for you tonight. 


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Quest For The Perfect Pizza

No you're not seeing things this really is the fourth blog post in a row.  I don't know what's gotten into me.

Hubby has been on a quest to make the perfect pizza. His plan is to open some kind of Pizza place that also has some other foods in there as well.  I keep trying to talk him into having healthy food, and he is on board with the healthier side of Greek/Mediterranean/Lebanese food which just happen to be some of my favorites. He also plans on building a pizza oven outside for us at the house.  Unfortunately it's been a few years in the planning stage.  He just can't get enough time to actually build the thing.

Needless to say there's been a lot of pizza going on over here.  On the menu tonight.... yup you guess it Pizza.

Not the best picture.  It's been so long since I've used my camera I keep using the wrong settings.

Toppings  - Spicy Sausage from Pete's
              - Bacon
              - Prosciutto
              - Ground Beef
              - Buffalo Mozz
              - Basic sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes.  I use them as much as possible when I'm cooking.  They really are the best!!

No veggies on this pizza, they are taboo for hubby. 

Once assembled, to the BBQ it went.  Pizza on the BBQ is about 1000 times better than pizza in the oven in my opinion.  In the quest for the perfect pizza he had a little something up his sleeve.  
He picked up some cherry wood to add some extra heat so it would cook faster and give some added flavour. He let it burn to coals then put the pizza in on the other side of the grill.  The pizza wasn't directly on the grill we have one of the pizza pans with all the holes in it so the air circulates around it.
A few turns so it wouldn't burn then 10-12 mins later the finished product in all it's cheesy bubbly goodness.

I think the quest just might be over, he may have made the perfect pizza.  It was delish!!

Don't forget next time you make pizza give it a try on the BBQ, you won't regret it I promise.  

Have a good night everyone.

~~ Jackie

Monday, May 28, 2012

"Set It and Forget It"

I hope everyone made it through Monday relatively unscathed.  Just think now that Monday's over we're that much closer to the weekend. 

I don't know about you but I'm always exhausted on Monday.  You'd think after the weekend I'd be all rested up and ready to take on the world, but it doesn't work that way for me.  I can tell you it's not because I've been out partying all weekend, unless of course your idea of partying is a couple glasses of vino and a good book.  That's how I roll now that I'm... ahem...almost 43 (B-day next week)...ugh when did that happen????

Here's a little know fact about me, I'm a sucker for an infomercial and The Shopping Channel, well, let's just say we're well acquainted.  I've bought fitness equipment, dvd's, electronics and kitchen equipment to name a few.  Saturday  I dug out one of those purchases, blew off the dust and put it to use.  

I know what you're thinking.... SUCKER!!!  Yup that's me. I actually didn't buy this from the infomercial I got it off Ebay after watching it 5431 times.  One of the drawbacks of not sleeping is you see a lot of infomercials. 

I actually really like this but I don't use it much because I keep it stored away. It takes up precious counter space and trust me I have enough appliances out on my counter as it is. 

It takes about an hour to cook a 4lb chicken and they are 100 times better than what you get at the grocery store.  You can do kabobs, roasts and there are even baskets if you want to do shrimpies, or fish. 

Since chickens were on sale this week I picked up a couple put a rub on one, then "Set it and Forgot it".  

For the rub I used -  lemon zest, paprika, granulated garlic, fresh ground pepper, sea salt, pinch of cayenne, oregano, and some chili powder. No measurements just what I thought looked good.  Give the chicken a little massage and don't forget to loosen the skin and rub some of the spices under it and on the breast meat itself. An hour later a perfectly roasted and juicy chicken.

Served with some freshly made pasta!!

All in all a good day in the kitchen.

Looks like it's about time to get myself ready for another day tomorrow and then catch some zzzzzzz's (hopefully).


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Catching Up & A Pasta Party

Hope you all had a fantabulous weekend.  It's been sunny and gorgeous in my neck of the woods.  Two weekends in a row.  Hopefully this doesn't turn out to be our summer.

In case you haven't noticed it's been a few weeks, I mean months since I posted more than once.  I thought I would do a quick recap of what's been going on with my life.

Last I checked in I was attempting to sell my house.  Well it FINALLY sold in November.  Let me just say that was possibly the worst experience ever.  My divorce was easier than that.  Mostly because it was a rental so it sat empty for seven months.  Thant meant extra mortgage payments, power etc. I was not in my happy place during that process. I really was sad to see it go.  I loved my house, but didn't want to risk having horrible tenants.

There's been a whole lot of learning going on over here too.  I finally made a commitment to something I have wanted to do for a long time and enrolled in the RHN (Registered Holistic Nutritionist) program at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.  It's challenging to say the least and my poor old brain is getting a workout.  It's been 20 years since I've been in school so you can only imagine what a change it is.  On top of the course I've been taking quite a few nutrition related workshops too. Information overload.

Something else new and exciting is, I've been introduced to the wonderful world of Aromatherapy.  I've been taking some courses at Casaroma Wellness in Dartmouth and am amazed by all there is too learn about it. There's so much more to it than just pretty smells.  The endless number of things you can accomplish with aromatherapy instead of putting a million chemicals in and on your body it's amazing. 

Once you start learning about all the nasty stuff that's in the products we use every day on our skin, on our kids skin and not to mention what we put into our bodies...well it's scary!!  The hidden things in food and what they say is ok for us to eat or put on our skin, in you cleaning products etc. It's just not a good thing.  

I'd like to say I've been a workout machine and am in the best shape of my life since the last time I was here but I can't. I've been plagued with chronic tendinitis in my shoulders and knees, and I've been fighting what seems to be a losing battle over the last year with my thyroid.  Although I'm hoping it will improve soon.  Plus I've come up with a new mysterious issue that my lymph system doesn't seem to be working as it should.  So I've been stuck with constantly swollen legs, ankles and feet. All that combined with a lack of motivation has resulted in a 20 - 25lb weight gain.  This of course doesn't make me happy and I'm annoyed that the majority of the clothes in the closet don't fit anymore but I'm confident it will change.  My main goal is health and once that falls into place I know I'll be at my happy or at least my happier weight once again.

There was another first over here yesterday.  I made my own pasta for the first time.  I got this KA attachment for Christmas but have been afraid to try it out.  I don't know why but the thought of making pasta scared me.

I thought I'd start off simple and made a basic egg pasta.  It turned out really good. If I could make it fresh each time I wanted pasta I would. So much better than anything you can buy.  Hubby even liked it.. woo hoo!!  I made some fusili and rigatoni.  I preferred the fusili but I think I had the speed to high on the rigatoni and it turned out a little thicker than it should be.  

I wanted to taste the pasta when I gave mine a try so I kept it simple  - butter, fresh grated Parmesan and fresh ground black pepper... Delish!!

I guess it wasn't really a quick catch up, but I think that's everything I had for you.

Have a great week everyone, don't work too hard!!

~~ Jackie 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Well, hello bloggies, it's been awhile. I don't know how many times over the past few months I've thought about blogging, tried a new recipe and thought I should post about it, or taken pics with the intention of posting them.  Obviously those thoughts were just that.

It's been so long I wasn't sure what to start with so I thought I would do a recipe post.

My goal today was to attempt to make over  "healthify" my tried and true favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  Now when I say healthify I don't mean no fat, no sugar, no taste diet cookie.  I wanted to keep the basic integrity of the recipe and just make some better choices with my ingredients.

The original recipe calls for 1 cup of Golden Crisco shortening, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar and 2 cups AP flour. So I switched out the shortening , bye bye killer trans fat, with Organic Virgin Coconut Oil.  Replaced the brown sugar and white sugar with Coconut Sugar and ground Turbinado sugar. I wasn't sure  what to do with the flour. I was thinking Quinoa flour and Spelt flour but thought that might be too much of an odd texture and change the taste a little too much.  I use Spelt flour quite often and have had great success substituting 1:1 with AP flour.  I knew I wanted to use my Quinoa flour so I just subbed half the flour with that and left the rest as unbleached AP flour.

Here's the finished recipe

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Cup Coconut Oil
1 Cup Cocount sugar
2/3 Cup Turbinado sugar (ground)
2 large eggs
2 tsp  pure Vanilla
1 Cup Quinoa flour
1 Cup AP flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Chocolate chips - I never measure these

Preheat oven to 350

1.  Cream coconut oil, sugars, vanilla and eggs together
2.  Add in dry ingredients and mix well
3.  Fold in chocolate chips

Using small scoop place on cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or to desired doneness.

** I haven't tried to make them gluten free but to do so sub in the gluten free flour mix  or try a commercially prepared mix for the AP flour.**

I was pleased with how they turned out.  Not quite the same texture as the original cookie but it actually tasted like a chocolate chip cookie and that's what I was hoping for.

Here's hoping my posts aren't as sporadic and infrequent as they have been.  My intentions are always good, but time isn't always on my side to get a post done.

~~ Jackie