Monday, December 02, 2013

Public Service Announcement

Dear Internet,

I would be doing you all a great disservice if I did not tell you to drop what you are doing and make this immediately...IMMEDIATELY!!

Rachel Ray's Braised Beef

It.  Is.  Amazing.

You're welcome.

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Saturday, November 09, 2013

How to...Make Personalized Rustic Chalkboard Programs or Seating Charts!


** Warning - I'm about to talk about our wedding!  If that's not your thing you might just want to skip right over this post and come back next time!

I haven't really told you much about our wedding other than that it happened! It was very much a DIY affair, which I loved and which saved us quite a few pennies! One of the projects I got the most questions about were our chalkboard signs:

Photo credit: KJP Photography
Photo credit: KJP Photography

I knew I wanted chalkboards, but I also knew I lacked any real artistic skill to free hand that kind of thing.  I was also terrified they would get all smudged in transport.  No one needs that kind of stress when setting up their wedding day! Taking all that into consideration I decided to see if I could make a digital version that would look like a chalkboard but without all the trouble of being an actual chalkboard!  Here's what I came up with (these instructions assume you know some computer basics...if you don't...ummm youtube?):

First, gather your materials:

Download a chalkboard background
Get yourself a collection of fun chalk-y fonts.  Some of my favourites:
Pea Ellie Bellie
Eraser Dust
Return to Sender
Chalk Hand Lettering Shaded
Download this photoshop brush set to get the little hearts (optional)
Spray adhesive
A thin board from the hardware store cut to whatever size your print out is going to be

1) Open some type of photo editing software.  I used Photoshop but you could probably do something similar with Paint or even PowerPoint.  Open the chalkboard background.
2) Use your fancy new fonts to type out your words.  You can make the design as simple or complex as you like!
3) If you're using Photoshop, use the brush tool to stamp on your hearts with the brush you downloaded.
4) Save. Very Important!
5) Send to any printing company.  You just want it on matte, regular,old cheapy paper but big - like 24x36-ish.
6) Spray your board with the adhesive, wait 1 minute then carefully place the print out onto the board.  Smooth out any bubbles with a rolling pin and that's it!  You now have a faux chalkboard!!  No smudgies!

Have fun!

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Pinterest Challenge Day 7 - Pumpkin Curry with Chicken Meatballs

And here we are at the end of the challenge! I've made a good dent in my untried Pinterest recipes and had some awesome (and some not-so-awesome) meals!  Yay!

The last recipe on the list is Pumpkin curry with chicken meatballs!  I've had this one pinned here forever and just ever got around to trying it out!  I figured the pumpkin flavour would make it a perfect end to  cold Fall week!  Here's how we did:

1) 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon in place of the stick
2) Regular coconut milk instead of low-fat
3) Added 1 tbsp of soy sauce
4) 1/2 cup chicken broth in place of bouillon and to thin out the curry a little (it was super thick!)

And now for the ratings:

Taste: A.  We both really liked this one! This was warm, spicy and hearty and I can't wait to eat the leftovers for lunch today!  I think if I were to do this one again, though, I'd use strips of chicken in place of the meatballs or I would add some breadcrumbs to the balls -they were a little dry. 
Cost: A-.  Using ground chicken makes this very budget friendly!  If you already have a decent spice cabinet at home, you probably don't need to buy any of the seasonings!
Nutrition: A.  Between the spices and the veggies, there's tons of anti-oxidant goodness in here! Between the carrots and the pumpkin you'll get a good dose of beta carotene!  Also, the chicken is nice and lean.    
Simplicity:  B. Using some strips of chicken would save the time and mess of the meatballs, but they were kind of unique and cool so I'm torn...
Overall: A.

And that's that!  Will you be trying out any of these recipes yourselves?  Which ones?  
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Saturday, November 02, 2013

Pinterest Challenge Day 6 - Double Feature!


How was everyone's Halloween?  Ours was busy!  We got close to 500 trick or treaters!  Insane!  In any case, on to the food! I didn't get any good pictures of these recipes because the lighting in our house sucks.  You'll have to use your imagination!  Let's start with the chicken:

This recipe is pinned here.  Here are our substitutions/changes:
1) We used chicken thighs instead of breasts
2) We added about 1 tsp of dijon mustard to the topping mix.
3)We used Hellmen's  half the fat olive oil mayo

Taste: B.  Dawson liked this one more than I did.  He devoured his.  I just thought it was "ok".  I'd eat it again, but it wasn't my favourite.
Cost: A-.  Not expensive fora main dish at all. Most of this stuff you probably have in your kitchen already. 
Nutrition: B.  Not bad. Not great, but not bad either. The mayo is calorie-dense but heart healthy and the chicken has good lean protein.    
Simplicity:  A+. Super easy!  No complaints here.
Overall: B.

Now for the cauliflower! This one is pinned here and is coincidentally from the same blog as the risotto I made earlier this week. So far the author is 2 for 2, because this was actually even more awesome than the risotto! Wee!

No subs or additions made to this one.

Taste: A+.  If there was anything above A+, I'd give this recipe that! We loved it!  This one is definitely going to find itself in heavy rotation at our house!
Cost: A. This one is cheapy cheapy. 
Nutrition: A. This is a super tasty way to get your veggies in! We liked this so much we ate an entire head of cauliflower between the two of us.  I generally don't even like cauliflower!    
Simplicity:  A+.  Doesn't get much easier than this, internet!
Overall: A+

Only one more day left in the challenge! Exciting! 
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pinterest Challenge Day 4 - Mushroom Risotto

Hello Internet!

Tonight we made mushroom risotto, which I have pinned here.  Of everything we've made so far, this was by far my favourite! It was rich, creamy and tasty! Mmmm, risotto...  I believe this kind of thing is really supposed to be eaten as a side dish or appetizer, but we made this as our main dish because I love risotto that much and I was in the mood for some good comfort food after yesterday's fiery inferno.  I doubled the recipe and was shocked at how much food it made - we both have leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Here's how it turned out:

Yummy, yummy, yummy!
1) We used low sodium chicken broth in place of regular
2) We omitted the butter at the end, it didn't really need it.
3) We cut the cheese down by ~25%, again, it didn't really need that much

Here's how we rank this one:
Taste: A.  I love risotto and this one was really tasty! I just finished eating and I'm already looking forward to eating the leftovers tomorrow!
Cost: A-.  This is relatively inexpensive, other than the cheese.  
Nutrition: B-.  As a side dish, this is actually not too bad - there are some good veggies in there, but as a main dish this isn't really balanced. When I make this next time I think I will substitute some olive oil for the butter just to decrease the saturated fat a little. 
Simplicity:  B-. Realistically, this is a risotto and risotto is labour intensive.  All that stirring takes time, but it's oh, so worth it.  My only other complaint is the way the ingredients list was written.  I was confused by the ingredients that were listed twice.  I think they should have been listed once but marked "divided" instead. 
Overall: A-.
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