Monthly Archives: December 2010

Things I Learned in 2010

Life works in mysterious ways. Things have a funny way of working out. I just need to trust the process and know I’ll end up where I should be.

I really am not a 9-5, Monday-Friday person. I’ll take my working weekends and wonky hours thank you.

Some relationships are worth the extra work. Others just need to be let go.

Being myself will attract the right kind of people into my life.

The pressure I feel to succeed does not come from others, but from within. The expectations I put on myself are much too high.

Life isn’t something to be “survived” every day. I need to be an active participant in my own life.

 

My diet is always going to be a work in progress. My life is always changing, thus so is the way I eat.

My social anxiety disorder asserts itself into every area of my life. I will always be challenged by it, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t see past it.

Earthquakes happen in Ontario!!

Bloggers are some of the best people I know.

I’m a baker as much as I am a cook.

Gaining weight is not the end of the world and some extra pounds are worth the fun times that brought them on.

Eye masks are the best invention ever.

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This country girl has a bit of city girl in her.

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But when all is said and done, I’m still a country girl.

My only long-term life goal is to have a dog and a yard it can run in. Preferably with a house attached.

As much as I pretend to be a grown up, I still don’t have that many responsibilities. I need to act my age and be a little reckless sometimes.

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I love my life. For a long time I thought I didn’t. But 2010 taught me that I can make life fabulous on my own accord. It’s all about the choices I make, so why not make some amazing ones :)

Click here to read my 2010 recap.

Click here to read my favourite posts.

Happy New Year!! xo

Question of the Day: What did you learn in 2010?

Pumpkin Scones in A Winter Wonderland

I finally got that snow I’ve been wishing for!!

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It seems everywhere in Canada has had a major snowfall except for Toronto. The surrounding areas look like a Winter Wonderland, and yet the city is still bare.

I always used to complain about snow. Mostly about how much I hate shovelling it. For the record, shovelling is still at the bottom of my list of activities. But it now officially feels like winter to me. Even if I do have to ditch the snow crystals for pavement if five short days.

The snow is also making me want to do winter activities. Like tobogganing and ice skating. And of course… baking.

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Let me tell you, a 28 oz can of pumpkin can go far. So far I’ve gotten a cake, a big batch of pancakes, two bowls of oatmeal and now a batch of scones out of it.

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I feel like me and the mushy stuff have turned a corner this holiday season. I still like my oats better without it, but I no longer fear adding pumpkin to baked goods.

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I asked my family if they wanted pumpkin chip bread or scones, and the scones won out. Most of the pumpkin scone recipes out there are meant to mimic the Starbucks version. You know, the one that’s 480 calories.

No thanks. I believe I ate enough of those triangle cakes when I was a barista and at my heaviest weight.

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Instead, I opted for this Joy of Baking recipe with a few changes, of course.

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fresh or canned pure pumpkin (if using canned pumpkin make sure there are no spices or sugar added)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon eggnog

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Mix together the flours, sugar, spices, salt, baking soda and powder. Add your cold butter pieces and mix until crumbly. Some people do this with a fork, I find my hands to be a lot more effective.

Stir in yogurt and pumpkin, kneading a few times to get all the dry mix in. Shape into a circle around 7 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Cut into 8 triangles and transfer to a greased baking sheet. I stack two baking sheets to prevent burning on the bottom. Then mix up the egg wash and brush on the tops. Bake for 20 minutes at 400F.

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They rose up big in the oven! I probably could have cut them smaller, but it also meant more scone for me.

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I was barely done taking photos before my family started attacking these.

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Scones fresh from the oven on a winter day, aahhh. These were a brimming success. Slightly spicy, a little hearty, with that soda-scone taste I love. My 12-year-old step-bro had two. And he’s never even had scones before.

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Another day, another mess in my mother’s kitchen. Muhaha ;)

The scones acted as a great snack to hold us over until supper. We ended up going to the Old Triangle, an Irish pub here in Moncton.

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From left to right: Me, my step-dad Mark, oldest sister Sara, Mom, middle sister Jane, and her partner Renaud. Behind the camera is Heather, who had quite the time trying to capture everyone in my zoomed 50mm lens.

I remember when I posted this picture in this post, Callie called me out for having a drink in each hand.

Well, like mother like daughter. One of each colour!

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I stuck to Diet Coke as I was the DD. I had to take this motley crue home in the minivan.

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Can’t we all just stay here together forever? I promise to bake scones!

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But I can’t promise I won’t make a mess ;)

Christmas Dinner: The Recipes

Now that the leftovers are gone, I feel ready to talk about their recipes!

These are some of the more unique dishes we enjoyed on Christmas Day. Ones we’ll definitely be making again.

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First up is the Wife Saver.

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The name of the dish comes from my step-dad’s family who make a very similar breakfast for Christmas Day. But it isn’t the same recipe as theirs. I also call this a savoury bread pudding and based it off of the Pioneer Woman’s version.

  • 3-4 cups cubed stale bread (I used a fluffy French bread, but a denser bread works much better)
  • 1 lb cooked ham, rinsed and cubed (rinsing it will make it less salty)
  • 3 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup egg whites (or another 4 whole eggs)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 cup grated or crumbled cheese (I used old cheddar)
  • Pepper to taste

Layer your bread, ham, spinach and onion in a greased casserole dish. Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour over top. Bake for one hour at 350F. This can be made the night before and popped in the oven in the morning. I made it the morning of and just let the bread soak up the liquid for an hour before baking.

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This also makes great leftovers and tastes almost as good cold!

 

Mom’s Layered Salad

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The elements of this salad can be changed based on your preference. But a few things can’t be changed: the iceberg lettuce, peas, cheese and dressing. Why? Because I said so ;) Here’s the order of layers:

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Sweet bell peppers, chopped small
  • Celery, chopped small
  • Red onion, chopped small
  • Carrots, chopped small
  • Frozen peas (using frozen helps the dressing seep through the salad)
  • Dressing (1 1/4 cup mayonnaise + 2 tbsp white sugar to taste)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Bacon pieces

This is also best made the night before so the dressing has time to seep through the salad. This is one of the few salads that actually gets better with age. I like eating it best on Day 3!

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Again, you can play around with what chopped veggies you use. Some people also add boiled eggs, or a little spinach.

 

Scalloped Tomatoes

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This is a recipe I’ve been sitting on for months now and Christmas Dinner provided the opportune time to try it! This version came from this Smitten Kitchen recipe with a few changes because I have issues following recipes.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups french bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2 – 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly slivered basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Toast the bread in a pan with olive oil. Meanwhile, mix up the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper. Once bread is crispy and toasted, add the tomato mix and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in basil then transfer to a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in a 350F oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

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This smelled soooo good thanks to the basil and garlic. And it tasted just as well! My only complaint is the bread gets mushy despite the toasting, but you can’t go wrong with the flavour combination. Fresh basil is the bestest.

Last, but certainly not least, the course I am most proud of – dessert.

Pumpkin Roll

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I didn’t even know this dessert existed until I saw it on Jenna’s blog. It sounded like a nice light dessert as opposed to the heavy pie we usually have after Christmas dinner. Plus, I’ve never rolled a baked good before and I love a good kitchen challenge!

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I immediately got concerned when I read I had to beat together the eggs and sugar for 10 minutes. My mom doesn’t have a Kitchenaid mixer, so I beat it with a hand mixer until it got thick and pale in colour.

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Then of course came the pumpkin. As mentioned before, I’m slightly frightened of pumpkin. It’s tasteless, mushy, bright orange. It’s mashed vegetables in a can. I tried not to gag as I scooped out the grown-up baby food.

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I have a really bad habit of not checking to see if I have the proper pans before baking. But this regular baking sheet seemed to sub well as a jelly roll tray.

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Jenna’s recipe says to just remove the cake and roll it up with the frosting as soon as it cools a little. But every other pumpkin roll recipe I read instructed to roll it up in a towel first to set the shape before adding the icing.

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This is where I started to get reeeeally nervous.

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Dessert. In a towel. I let that cool for a little bit while licking the cream cheese icing bowl. I slowly unrolled it and evenly spread the frosting from corner to corner, then attempted to roll it back up without the towel. This is where it got tricky, as the cake started sticking to the towel and I could see it tearing a little. Slow and steady did it. I managed to get it in plastic wrap and in the fridge without making a scrambled cake!

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Classic Pumpkin Roll

serves 10-12

  • 3 eggs, room temperature (I used cold eggs, whatever)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

for cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 T soft butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350. Beat the eggs and sugar together with a Kitchen Aid on maximum high speed for about ten minutes. When done, the mixture will be very thick and very, very pale. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and pumpkin and stir gently.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and mix just until combined.

Pour the cake batter onto a sheet tray (or jelly roll tray) that has been greased and lined with wax paper. Spread out the batter evenly and bake for fifteen minutes, or until golden.

Let cool on the pan for about ten minutes and start your frosting.

Whip the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for three minutes or until creamy looking. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip on high for another six to eight minutes. Set aside.

After you have cooled the cake for a few minutes, turn over the sheet pan and gently peel off the wax paper. Spoon the frosting on top of the cake and spread out. Starting at the far edge, roll up the cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about an hour before serving.

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The end result was downright delicious. You really can’t go wrong with a spiced cake and cream cheese. With a scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt, it was the perfect end to the perfect meal. If I ever make this again, I think I will skip the towel step. Rolling it twice just gives more opportunity to screw it up, and I don’t mind a few torn edges to nibble on ;)

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