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Cinq Choses…

…aka “Five Things.” Just trying to make this blog live up to provincial French/English bilingual standards. Har har.

1. Yoga yesterday was fantastic! Thank you for asking (let’s pretend that you did). I haven’t been able to do yoga since before I shattered my elbow in February of this year. I was actually planning on getting back into it the week I was admitted to hospital with cancer. Go figure. After that, I was afraid to do it because of the germ-infested classes and my restricted blood flow. I didn’t want to catch a death cold or pass out.

After a little researching however, I found a very small weekly class with just me and two other people. It’s 30 minutes of “beginner” postures. The only pose I needed an alternative for was downward dog because I can’t straighten or put weight on my left arm. Followed by 15 minutes of guided meditation. A far cry from my favourite 90 minute Ashtanga class in Toronto. But my goal for this class is also a far cry from what my intentions with yoga used to be. It was absolutely perfect for me, I am so happy I found the class!

2. Smoked paprika. I’ve been putting it on everything lately. It adds such a nice, warm, smoky kick. It was one of the stars of my “CSA salad” this week.

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For two servings it contained:

  • 1/4 head shredded red cabbage
  • 3 large shredded carrots
  • 1 shredded green apple
  • 1 ear of corn, sauteed in smoked paprika <–
  • 1/4 large thinly sliced white onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 baked chicken breast, chopped
  • Poppyseed dressing to taste

3. This is a really cute movie!

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I share this because it’s a Canadian movie that I found on Canadian Netflix. And finding good movies on Canadian Netflix can be difficult.

4. Don’t ever put Hemp milk in your coffee.

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Baaaaaad idea. Hemp milk is only good in things that will mask its gross flavour.

5. I am getting a PICC line!! In other words, a “peripherally inserted central catheter” in my arm. It’s a little tube they insert inside one of the main veins in my arm, all the way into my chest. With an attractive tube that hangs out my arm ALL THE TIME like some kind of alien science experiment.

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This is good news because it means no more IVs and needles for chemo and blood tests. They can do everything from the hanging tube, and my veins won’t get burned up from the chemo anymore. It also means my oncologist believes the cancer has shrunk enough that it’s no longer putting too much pressure on my veins.

I’m scheduled to get it put in next Wednesday before my next chemo, provided my tests on Tuesday look okay. Even though this is a good thing, I am irrationally scared for the procedure. It’s done by a radiologist and with a local freezing on the skin. Which doesn’t make sense to me because won’t I feel it going up through my vein?

It sounds a lot like my two needle biopsies which were hands down the worst experiences I had in the hospital. I actually started hyperventilating when I had my bone marrow biopsy despite the anti-anxiety meds, painkillers, and freezing. It just hurt and I was scared, and I freaked out thusly. Why can’t they just put me into a sleepy happy place for all of this stuff?

Anyways! Those are my Cinq Choses for this Friday. I had a more serious post scheduled for today, but my brain needed the break. Maybe I’ll put it up over the weekend. I am doing some cooking, baking, and exploring a farm over these next few days – should be fun. Enjoy yours!

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 ;)

I Eat Vegetables Too

According to my recent blog posts, I seem to subsist on a diet of cupcakes, waffles and marshmallows

Okay, so the last two may not be so far from the truth.

But I am here to tell you that I also eat a lot of fruits and veggies. Usually paired with a lean meat and complex carb. Y’all know how the combo goes.

But what with my increasing frugality and decreasing spare time, I seem to be branching out less and less with my veggies. I mean, I can only eat carrot sticks so many ways.

Enter Kraft, who recently approached me about trying out their new Sizzling Salads kits. My knee jerk reaction is to usually decline these things. But let’s face it, my salads could definitely use the sizzle.

First up is the Chicken Caesar kit. Each one came with a recipe, as well as a few alternatives with things like shrimp or beef. One bottle is a cooking sauce for the meat, the other a salad dressing.

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I haven’t had a caesar salad in so long. It’s one of those items I frequently ate before I lost weight. Now it’s always being outshone by healthier salads.

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I began with cooking my chicken in a frying pan. Organic free-range chicken I might add, from my awesome local butcher. Once cooked, I added one tablespoon of the cracked black pepper cooking sauce to coat.

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While that was going on, I made my own croutons. I will never ever understand why people buy these things. I just spritzed whole grain bread with oil and sprinkled Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute on top before crisping in the oven.

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No simulated bacon bits here either. I fried up a big slice to make my own bits with.

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Of course, I couldn’t just add romaine lettuce like the recipe suggests. I know it’s been a while, but I wanted more to my caesar salad! So I also added spinach, bell pepper, carrots and zucchini. A wonderful combo.

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Of course, who could forget the shaved parmesan in there as well. I tossed the salad with just one tablespoon of the Kraft caesar dressing and it was the perfect amount. No need to have it coated and dripping with sauce!

Overall, I really liked the sauces provided in this particular kit. The caesar was creamy and flavourful and I loved the black pepper cooking sauce. That may become a regular ingredient for me. The salad was absolutely delicious and the perfect way to re-introduce caesar back into my life.

Next up is the Greek Chicken sizzling salad kit. This one came with a lemon oregano cooking sauce + Mediterranean feta dressing.

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I went for the chicken version again, because Greek chicken salad is probably my favourite salad of all time. True story.

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Started by assembling the usual suspects – romaine, green pepper, cucumber, tomato, red onion.

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Cooked up the chicken pieces, adding a tablespoon of cooking sauce at the end. 

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Then all assembled with black olives and feta. I admittedly also buy Kraft feta cheese in the bag. Cheese purists will gasp, but I like it!

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Unfortunately, the Greek kit didn’t “wow” me quite as much as the Caesar kit. The flavour of the lemon cooking sauce didn’t pop out as much. The dressing was okay, but nothing compared to the homemade oil dressings you get at Greek restaurants.

Overall, the sizzling kits were a fun way to change up my salads. They’re not something I would see in the grocery store and feel inclined to buy. I typically make my own dressings and cook my meat plain. The bottles I received also didn’t have any nutritional info, so I’m not sure about the calories, sodium or ingredients in these. Regardless, I see many more Caesar and Greek salads creations in my future. You know, to balance out with all those cookies ;)

Even better, these count toward Kacy and Lisa’s 20 Salads in December!

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite kind of salad? I’m a Greek girl! Except I typically like to add a ridiculous amount of pickled beets to all salads.

 

Pssst! Head on over to Deb’s blog to see my pictures that didn’t make the Blogger Babe calendar!

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