Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Born Banana Bread

A few weeks back while I was in Toronto for the birth of my nephew (a.k.a.: The cutest little munchkin on the planet!)  there were some bananas on the counter that clearly no one was going to get to in time so I decided to make a Banana Bread.  I didn't have my regular recipe handy so I made it a little different and actually thought it was so much better!  It's a super simple recipe so I wanted to share with you!  My sister and fam are chocoholics so I did put chocolate chips in theirs but when I make it for Jon and I, I'll skip the chocolate chips and either make it plain or with frozen blueberries.  So yummy for breakfast with the blue berries in it!

Ingredients:
1) 3 ripe or over ripe bananas, smashed
2) 1/3 cup melted butter
3) 1 cup sugar (use 3/4 cup only if using chocolate chips too)
4) 1 egg, beaten
5) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6) 1 teaspoon baking soda
7) Pinch of salt
8) 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
9) Optional : Blueberries or chocolate chips - 1 cup of either.


Directions:
It's your choice on if to use a mixer or not.  At home I do throw it in my Kitchenaid but in TO I did it by hand and they turn out pretty much the same.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.   Mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix.  Fold in blueberries or chocolate chips gently.  Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Yummo!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Official!

It's official.  I am all set up on Up, Down & Natural!  This is the blog I plan on using out in the world for marketing.  The other thing you'll notice is that Up, Down & Natural is on TypePad which will allow me some more flexible formatting and marketing options that aren't necessarily available on blogger.  However because of this change at the moment it's a bit drab as I'm still playing with layouts and figuring out how to use TypePad.  But it's there!   

This blog, The Monahan's will still be in existence and I'll be blogging about family things that don't necessarily need to be broadcast to the whole world ie: Holiday Travel Plans, Baby News, Baby Pics etc.  (No... this isn't my way of saying we have baby news or pics.  This is just anticipatory!)  But in preparation for "going live" with the other site I did want to protect this one a little bit.  

I hope you'll also follow me on the other site and "Like" my facebook page. 
Thanks all for your support!  
Love
~A


Friday, November 12, 2010

Christmas Cheer For A Greener Year

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is sending out Christmas cards.  In the busyness of every day life, and amidst the technology crazy world of blackberries, iPhones and constantly accessible email it's pretty rare to actually receive something in the mail from a loved one.  This is perhaps why I love sending Christmas Cards.  It's almost like bringing back the lost art of writing letters.  I love that little rush of happiness when I see an envelope in the mail that can't be anything but a Christmas card! 

What I don't love about sending out Christmas cards is only one thing...  It's SO much wastage of paper!  Every New Year I can't help but feeling guilty about what to do with the pile of Christmas Cards I receive, and wondering what has happen to the ones I sent out.  I prefer picture cards, which can't always be recycled very easily... or so I thought!  In the past year I've gotten much more committed to really thinking about my actions and how they're affecting me, my overall health and the environment.  So this year, when I started my search for Christmas cards I was so pleased with what I found!!

There are so many options for recycled cards, and they're just as festive (and around the same price) as the store bought or special order cards I've gotten in the past.  Paper Culture is the company that I've decided to go with this year, and I have to say I think our cards are pretty darn cute.  I love the philosophy of this company.  Not only do they use recycled paper for their cards and envelopes, I was also able to choose from loads of templates and different picture cards.  In addition, for the cost of postage they will mail all your cards to your recipients for you.  Of course, for an additional charge, you can have the cards shipped to you and then mail them out yourself.  However, Paper Culture strongly urges against this as it's more costly to you, and it increases the carbon footprint of your cards as they are then being shipped twice.  Once to you, and then once to your recipient.

The icing on the cake for me is that Paper Culture has joined forces with the Arbour Day Foundation, and for every order placed will plant a tree in the US National Forest.  Now, I do wish they had a Canadian site, and a Canadian National Forest, but this is a step in the right direction I feel.

Paper Culture is by no means the only company that offers a great selection on recycled and environmentally friendly card choices.  Here's a list of other great resources and companies that I came across through my research!

My Good Greetings

Gallery Collection

Pear Tree Greetings

Sierra Club

Green Field Paper   - This company also has recycled gift wrap for all those presents under the tree!

Mostly all of these also do cards for every occasion from birthday parties, to wedding invitations, engagement and baby announcements... you name it!!  I wish I had known about these when I was getting married!!

Enjoy your holiday preparations!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Reflections

After two tiring, but strangely blissful weeks in Toronto with my sister and her family for the birth of their son, I am finally back home with Jon in Nova Scotia.  Although it was only two weeks there, and the time certainly did fly by it's also a little strange to be baby-free all of a sudden.  I have to say I kind of miss being woken up at 7am by my two and half year old niece Nalini.  And, while I wasn't the one who had to get out of bed when newborn baby Nilesh cried, I did still find myself waking up last night about every 4 hours expecting to hear him cry. 

My time with my sister in Toronto has gotten me thinking, even more so than normally, about what type of mother I want to be.  And even more so than that... what parts of my current "parenting plan" are going to have to be changed, modified, or altogether abandoned.  Something a mother of twins said to me has always stuck with me.  While laughing about all the silly parenting advice she got when she was pregnant she told me, "I did all my best parenting before I had kids..."  It really makes me wonder how many of these ideals and dreams I want for my children and my parenting style are actually going to come to fruition.  I hope more beliefs will be kept than tossed, but have also been around enough mothers and new families to know that it doesn't always work out that way.  I'm very anxious to see how it's all going to pan out in reality for us.

This is a video that has been floating around for a little while now, and I just thought I would share since it seems to fit in with my thoughts lately.  I absolutely love it.    




Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Super Sonic & Silent

Super Sonic...


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And Silent... 


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And Super Cute!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Resistance Is Futile & Mickey Likes To Boogie

Well, I'm not exactly sure of when the first Twilight movie originally came out.  I put up a good fight for a few years, to not be sucked in to the vampirey goodness... But clearly, resistance was futile as is often the case with vampires.  After spending just over a week in Toronto with my sister and bro-in-law they have sucked me in.  Truth be told, I think it would have happened sooner had they not been newborn sleep deprived...
   



They DVR'd Twilight and New Moon which I watched back to back, and now I'm dying to find out what happens next.  Luckily my 32 year old  sister has all the books so I'm going to read Eclipse while I'm still in Toronto.  


On a cuter note, and likely of more interest to people...  Today was Nalini's Halloween dance-a-thon at her day care and apparently Mickey Mouse likes to boogie!!


video


And Part II

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy One Week Nilesh

Today was one week since the birth of the cutest little prince on the planet.  For the occasion, Mommy, Daddy, Nilesh, Juhi Moasi and Arpita Moasi headed out to a "Mommy and Me" movie while Nalini was at day care.  Mommy was in great shape considering she just had surgery a week ago!

After the movie, we made a quick stop at Starbucks and the St. Lawrence Market downtown Toronto.  I fell head over heels for this market!  Basically like a permanent farmer's market with loads of really great quality and variety meats, produce and odds and ends kitchen knick-knacks.  I clearly do not give my sister enough credit, because I was amazed she was doing so well walking around this market for a bit 1 week post c-section.  She truly is a little bit of a rockstar.  Unfortunately, I left my camera home and wasn't able to take any pics of the market.  On the plus side there is this super cute video of the kiddies.


video

And ofcourse, I couldn't help myself to snap a pick of Daddy at the end of the day, and the tiring business of a new born.  



Happy One Week Birthday Nilesh!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nilesh's First Home Bath

To be fair this is post bath to respect his modesty.  :)

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Monday, October 25, 2010

The NKS's!

With Mommy and Daddy and baby finally home from the hospital, life is already starting to settle into a semi-routine.  Nalini Krishna Singh and Nilesh Krishna Singh are enamoured with each other.  Although the kiddos, and especially Nalini have the distraction of their moasi's (aunts) life does seem to be returning to normalcy for Nalini.

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The most noticeable difference between the NKS's is that Nilesh is a champ at sleeping so far.  For those who were around when Nalini was a newborn we all remember the days of creeping around and speaking in a whisper with fear of waking baby... and she was easily woken.  Nilesh on the other hand is completely content sleeping in the bassinet while mommy relaxed and watches tv, or chats with the moasis.  All in all, family seem to be doing great and clearly, Nalini is happy to have Mommy, Daddy and her baby brother home!



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nilesh Krishna Singh Joins The Family (Videos)

Baby Nilesh Krishna Singh joined us today.  Coming in at 6lbs 14oz, 21 inches, with daddy's nose, a full head of hair and the rosiest most kissable cheeks ever!!  In the first video he's in mommy's arms just after surgery talking to the doctor who delivered him.  The second video is of Nalini meeting her baby brother.  She's just been staring at him, and asking to touch his nose. 

Mommy, baby and Daddy are doing well.  (And mom looks pretty darn radiant for coming right out of surgery!!) 


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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

24 Hours To D Day!!

The beautiful mama to be 24 hours before D day!  (Delivery Day)  :) 

FYI - By popular request, I'll be blogging every day during my visit to Toronto for friends and family who weren't able to be here for the birth, so please brace yourselves!  :) 















video

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Going Green Done Right!!

Talk about recycling!  This is super cool!  One of my favorite bloggers posted about these amazing vintage furniture pieces made from old suitcases.  I am in love!! 








These are from designer Katie Thompson, and she does all sorts of remade furniture with different recycled things... Check out her website!  I have definitely book marked me these for our home!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mixin' It Up Must Have

As most of you know I'm soon heading to Toronto to be with my sister and her family while they welcome their newest addition.  As such I've promised friends and family who won't be able to attend the birth, I'll be baby blogging non stop while I'm there...  So before all the baby post flooding starts, I thought I would write a quick post about something that is definitely on my must have list! 

Last Christmas there was a Kitchenaid Mixer under the tree for Jon and I.  I didn't really understand all the fuss over these babies until I used mine!  There is nothing it can't do from making pizza dough, to mixing up all types of batters... and it's taken all the guess work out of getting the right consistency with icings and meringue.  I absolutely love this mixer!  (And Jon loves the tasty treats that I whip up with it!)

My favorite thing about the mixer though, is my favorite thing about most things... Accessories!!!  There are SO many cool accessories to this mixer that I have got to get my hands on!  Here are my top 3!

The first one is kind of a two-fer.  It's The Fruit & Vegetable Strainer & Food Grinder Attachment.  This is the food grinder with the attachment for a fruit and veggie strainer (Yes... an accessory for an accessory!!)  This would be such a life safer to have with a little one around.  When the day comes, Jon and I plan to avoid processed food for our kids as much as possible, and will mostly be staying away from the store bought bottled "Gerber" style stuff.  We both really like the theory of baby eats what we eat...  So this is definitely a handy little gadget for when that day comes, both for grinding up meats, pastas etc, and for fruits and veggies to make a homemade applesauce without all the sugar and junk thrown in.  Not to mention, it would be perfect for puree-ing pie fillings, and other baked yummies.  


Kitchenaid is clearly after my own heart, because they have an accessory, for the accessory of the accessory...  Yeah, this is the Food Tray.  It just sits atop the Strainer & Food Grinder to give you a bigger surface area and be able to put more food through at once.  All about the optimization!  


And finally, my last mixer must have is the grater and slicer attachment.  There is nothing I hate more that grating...  I have no idea why, but I just really feel like we should be farther along as a society and should have come up with a better way to get little shreds of food rather than scrapping it repeatedly over a metal board.  Maybe that's just me...  But this, I love... and it slices too!!  Easy peasy salads all the time!!  Love love love!!

I think Kitchenaid saw me coming when they designed this mixer.  The list goes on and on for the accessories you can put on this thing.  At the end of the day these ones are the ones I think are most useful, and the ones that will actually get pulled out and used.  Yeah... they had to have seen me coming...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Seventh Generation For Our Generation

So Jon and I used to be Costco members but when it came time to renew our membership we made the decision that we just did not shop there enough for the two of us, to make it worth renewing the membership.  Although, when we stopped... there was one problem I had that I didn't foresee - which was my lack of Ecos Laundry Detergent that I LOVED from Costco.




It’s plant based, biodegradable, safe for septic systems, great for sensitive skin and is phosphate and petrochemical free.  We love this in our efforts to be "greener".  To Costco's credit they actually do an amazing job of stocking environmentally friendly and organic items.  In addition, Jon has very sensitive skin, especially to laundry detergent.  Tide may as well be kryptonite for him.  I had been stuck with unscented laundry until we discovered Ecos because Jon's skin just can't handle the harsh perfumes.  (Which is probably a good indication that just because I don't have a reaction, they're likely not great for me either.)  But Ecos is scented with natural magnolia and lily - a combination which makes the scent-phobic hubby actually very pleased with it.  I love it both in use and in the clothing after it’s been folded or hung.

So needless to say, I was pretty bummed when I ran out of my last bottle of Ecos and realized I couldn't get anymore at Costco.  I was even more disappointed when I found out that my huge bottle that I got at Costco for $17 was selling at Pete's Froutique for almost triple the cost, but 1/3 of the size.  Clearly I was on the hunt for a substitute.

Then I discovered Seventh Generation's Laundry detergent!  I love love love this company!!  Their mission is essentially that every decision we make, we should take into account how it will affect the following Seven Generations - and if the effects are negative, don't do it and figure out how to get the job done in a more planet friendly way. 


I'm not sure why it took me so long to realize they sell laundry detergent.  We've been using their household cleaning products for a while now and I love them.  At first I was skeptical if they were just as good as the "Lysol" and everything else I was used to... but honestly, I find they're better!  I love that I can walk into my kitchen and smell a clean kitchen... not bleach.  And I love that Jon can walk into the kitchen at all, right after I clean it.  Before the smell of any chemicals left him choked up.  

In our efforts to be greener, Jon and I had decided a while back that once baby comes along we will be cloth diapering.  (Not to mention the colors cloth diapers come in are so freakin' cute!)  I wasn't however so much a fan of the idea of using cloth baby wipes, and was thrilled that Seventh Generation makes chlorine free, phosphate free and scent free wipes.  We will definitely be using these!  

 

 And of course, I've heard from other cloth diapering mommas that when you're travelling, or on vacation to not try to be a hero and just skip the cloth and use a disposable.  Good advice I think for sure, but scary when you hear that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission launched an investigation because babies were getting chemical burns from plastic disposable diapers like Pampers Dry Max.


Which is why I was thrilled to find out Seventh Generation makes an environmentally friendly, chemical free diaper.  Definitely worth checking out for my mama friends who don't necessarily want to go to cloth, but feel a little guilty throwing away all those plastic diapers, and want to do it a little more environmentally friendly.

All in all, I love this company.  Jon and I are by no means as green or planet friendly as we should be.  But we are making small strides every day, and are more and more conscious of our decisions and how they affect our planet.  It's definitely much easier when there are companies out there like this that are taking the guess work out and just make it simple.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Trivial Pursuit To End Trivial Moments

I'm not sure if the stars are out of whack or what, but recently it has definitely felt like it's Jon and I against the world, and the score isn't pretty.  It's so easy to get swept up in all the difficulties that seem to be in your path sometimes.  But then, there's moments like this that make us realize that all the stuff that we convince ourselves has any long lasting effects on our life really does not.  

Last night at 3:00am after trying to figure out some plans for things we've got in the works right now, Jon and I were still up and still felt like we were in an endless uphill battle against the world.  Then Jon turned to me and pulled out the Trivial Pursuit from the coffee table.  Ahhh, beautiful Trivial Pursuit.



I have always been a board game lover, but there is something about Trivial Pursuit that really does make all the problems of the world seem... trivial.  I love this game so much.  I mean really... who can focus on any of life's "problems" when you're trying to remember "What state on the Mississippi River boasts the only diamond field in North America?"  (If you're thinking Arkansas, you're right!)  And what's the point of worrying when you have to think of "Is a Pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable?"  (Clearly, it's a fruit.)

The thing that I really love about Trivial Pursuit, is that the one we have is the one I played growing up.  The "Young Edition" version that my parents bought circa 1980.  A lot of the questions are out of date and the game itself looks very... loved.  Playing it now, over 30 years since its creation, it's kinda retro.  Like a historical Trivial Pursuit.  :)



When we play this though, I love that not only is it one of the best distractions from all the day to day stuff that is so easy to get caught up in, but also the time that we spend together playing and just being care free.  I love that the memories I have of playing this game with my mom, dad and sister are now being enhanced as Jon and I create new memories every time we pull those pie pieces out.  No matter what life throws at us, we will always have each other, and we will always have Trivial Pursuit.   


Thanksgiving With The Monahans

This weekend we headed down to Jon's parent's place in Lockeport.  The few weeks leading up to the weekend have been a little stressful for Jon and I.  Lots of things going on with his work, and hopefully things leading to good news in the future, but still stressful at the moment.  At any rate, we both really needed a break to be home with family.  I've said a few times I'm so grateful to truly have family in my in-laws.  It really is a home away from home, and I'm always happy when we're able to head down there.  This time was no different.

Dad prepared a beautiful turkey dinner with all the fixings and I brought down a pumpkin pie.  Dad has recently been making home made wine (He's actually got me into the wine making this summer too!)  So after supper, we all got in to the wine and shared the most precious thing of all... family time.  :)  I love moments like this to remind us what's really important in life, and to give us renewed strength to keep pursuing the things that we desire from life.

It being thanksgiving, I also have to say that I am so thankful for all our friends and family who have supported us in tough times and celebrated with us in great times.  Without our friends and family we would be no where.  I'm also thankful to be blessed with a husband who is truly my rock.  He's such a good man, with such a sweet soul and I couldn't be happier to share my life with anyone else.  Together I know we'll be able to conquer anything we set our minds too.

These are some pictures of Lockeport.  Possibly a glimpse into why I feel so much peace there.












Friday, October 8, 2010

Christmas Comes Early In Canada

While growing up in New Jersey, it was SO painful waiting all the way through November before you could get to thanksgiving before it was finally time to get ready for Christmas!!!

Oh... but not in Canada!  That's right my American friends, Thanksgiving comes early in Canada, which means that so does the hype up to Christmas!!  This weekend is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada and it could not come a moment sooner for The Monahans!  It's been a relatively stressful few weeks for both of us and Jon and I are desperately looking forward to some time in Lockeport with the family.  It's been a little while since we've had a proper visit down and with everything that has been going on it'll be nice to take a moment to relax and focus on what's really important - family time!!  :)   

I have to say what I'm most thankful for this thanksgiving is having amazing family around me.  Especially my in-laws.  My parents live in New Jersey and very rarely are able to make their way up here to Nova Scotia so it makes such a huge difference to have in-laws that truly are family.  I feel so bad for friends when they grimace at the thought of spending time with their in-laws.  I'm so grateful to have an additional family in them, and a home away from home.  Can't wait to share some wine over board games... Me and mom in law are huge board game fans so hopefully I'll be able to talk hubby into some board games while we're home for the weekend.  I'll also be taking the first pumpkin pie of the season down with us!  YUM!


Although it's definitely easier some times than other....there's something beautiful in stopping and thinking about the things we're thankful for in our life.  

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving... whether you're celebrating this weekend or in November!   :) 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rituals

Ahhh, Rituals.  Humans are creatures of them.  Children and animals thrive on them.  In this house, Sunday is my favorite day of rituals, and this Sunday was no different.  One of my favorite things that we received as a wedding present was my Big Griddle.  Truth be told when I got it I had never used a griddle, and wasn't really sure what it was used for.  Then when Jon told me people mostly use them to cook breakfast foods like eggs, bacon and pancakes I still didn't understand what a griddle had on the plain old frying pan??  Ohh but I quickly learned.  The frying pan doesn't have a clue what it's doing when it comes to breakfast.

The main reason I love my Big Griddle though is that it's shaped so much of what our weekends are together.  I love that every Saturday and Sunday the first thing Jon says to me when we wake up is "What are we having for breakfast today.", like a little kid on Christmas morning.  I love it, and the cozy late mornings we share together.  Today I decided to throw some of the fresh organic blueberries that we got in our Home Grown Organics Box into the pancakes and it was a GOOD decision.  Yummy blueberry pancakes for breakfast.


 After breakfast Jon normally reads different articles and things online and I catch up on my favorite blogs, or will sometimes post something of my own.  Our afternoons are usually pretty lazy consisting of reading, knitting, or practicing the guitar.  Then we head to church. 


Our church that we normally go to is St. Mary's Basilica in Halifax.  I love this Church.  It's the church where I was baptized and confirmed, and the church that our children will likely be baptized and confirmed in.  There's just something so warm and comforting about stopping your day for a short time to reflect on something greater than ourself.  It's so comforting and brings so much peace to our life.  Recently the church has also been trying to attract young adults and those who don't really want to go to church by way of replacing the choir with a young group of students from SMU who have amazing voices, and play a variety of instruments from guitar to keyboard.  It definitely brings something extra to the mass that I love. 

One of my many favorite things about our Church is the beautiful stained glass windows all throughout the church.  The one I focus on most when I'm there is the one below picturing the scene from the bible of the virgin Mary's Ascension into heaven.  There's something about looking at this window that bring so much peace over me, and just makes me happy no matter how I'm feeling before I go.  It's directly in the front center ceiling of the church and holds a lot of meaning for me.  I love this one.   



All in all, I love our lazy Sunday rituals.  It's nice to have this time together to unwind and take a few lazy moments before buckling in again for another week of work, school, errands chores... etc. 

Hope you all had some time this weekend to take a moment to unwind from it all and have a fantastic week ahead!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Food Blog Search

I don't normally make two posts in one night, but this one couldn't wait...  And it's been a while that I've posted due to a fantastic visit from out of town guests staying with us (which I'll blog about shortly...)

Anyways, I just discovered this food search engine powered by Google.  Well, actually it's a Food Blog Search Engine.  It's AMAZING!!  You type in any recipe or ingredient off the top of your head and it comes up with a million bloggers who blogged about it and have recipes.  I was looking for a recipe for bread pudding and found a fantastic one on there from this blog for a Pumpkin Bread Pudding!!  OMG!  Delish!  Ours was soaked in bourbon but skip that for a non-alcoholic kiddie friendly version and I think it would still be just as yummy.



Here's the recipe!  I'll warn you, I bake with the philosophy that as long as they are as natural and hormone free as possible, fat and cream are love... the thicker it is, the more you love the people you're baking for.  Simple as that.  How I'm still this side of 100lbs I have no idea, but feel free to sub out for more waist line friendly ingredients at the sacrifice of love.

Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream plus 1/2 cup whole milk (OR 1 1/2 cups whole milk)
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
1 cup bourbon (optional, but who are we kidding...)
5 cups cubed (1-inch) day or two old baguette or crusty bread
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted* (can skip this step if using the second set of instructions)

Directions:   **Note** There were two set of instructions - "Gourmet" and "Alternate, Common Be Lazy With Me" version...  I actually followed the Gourmet because that sounded easier to me.  Both are easy as pie bread pudding.  
 

Gourmet’s Instructions: Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, spices and 2 tsp bourbon (if using) in a bowl.
Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.  Slice and Serve.  Top with remaining bourbon to taste.

Alternate, Come On, Be Lazy With Me, instructions: While preheating oven to 350°F with rack in middle, melt butter in bottom of a 8-inch square baking dish. Once it is melted, take it out of the oven and toss bread cubes with butter, coating thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients except Bourbon. Pour mixture over buttered bread cubes in baking dish, stirring to make sure all pieces are evenly coated. Bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.  Slice and Serve.  Top with bourbon to taste.  

Enjoy!

I Can't Live Without...

For my second installment of "I Can't Live Without..."  I bring you, the Pampered Chef Stoneware Bar Pan.

Oh.  My.  God.

My Pampered Chef bar pan!!  Words cannot even begin to describe how much this has changed my cooking life. (An interesting concept for a blogger - but I'll give it a try...)  Like my last post regarding "I Can't Live Without..." this one was a gift as well, from my mother in law for mine and Jon's second wedding anniversary.  It was definitely something that's been on my list for a while and I'm so grateful for mom in law getting this for us.  I've been using it basically every day for everything from brownies to a pork roast, and our favorite thing so far... the California chicken pizza.  Delish!!!  (Recipe below.)


The key to the bar pan is that you really have to "season" these bar pans, similar to a cast iron skillet that needs to be seasoned first to make them non-stick, and really pull out their full potential which does make some people shy away from them.  Ohhh, but it's soo worth it when you do season it.  Another trick to get around seasoning it is to simply bake something very high in fat the first two or three times on it - like bacon, or what I did first - bacon wrapped scallops!  YUM!!


To season:  Spray entire stoneware OVERLY generously with cooking spray such as Pam, or grease with oil, so there is a nice thick coat all over the pan - tops and bottom.  Bake alone in the oven for 3 - 4 hours at 400° Fahrenheit.  Then let the pan cool completely in the oven.

The cooling is the most important part - because as the pan cools the pores of the stone will close up and lock the hydration and moisture from the oils in the stone which will eventually make it a GORGEOUS non-stick pan.  (First indication you're relishing your role of housewife a little too much - you refer to non-stick pans as gorgeous in all caps.)  I did this three times with mine and then made the bacon wrapped scallops before using for drier things like pizza and lean roasts.

Recipe For California Chicken Pizza 
Ingredients:
  • 1   tsp evoo
  •  1   package of Pilsbury refrigerated pizza crust 
  •  2   cups shredded  cooked chicken  - We used bbq chicken. 
  •  2   cups shredded cheddar  and Monterey Jack or marble cheese 
  •  2  plum tomatoes 
  •  ¼  medium red onion 
  •  1  medium avocado 
  •  1   lemon - completely squeezed for juice OR about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice from the bottle
  •  6   slices bacon, thinly sliced, cooked and drained 
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly brush Bar Pan with oil.  (You can skip this step if your pan is VERY heavily seasoned, mine was not yet, so I oiled.) Unroll dough onto bottom of pan, gently stretching and pressing dough to cover bottom. Top crust with chicken and sprinkle with cheese.  
  2. Bake 16-18 minutes or until crust is golden brown; remove from oven. 
  3. Meanwhile dice tomatoes. Slice onion.
  4. Dice avocado and place into a large bowl.  Add tomatoes, lemon juice and onion.  Mix well. 
  5. Distribute tomato mixture evenly over pizza. Sprinkle with bacon, if desired. Cut pizza into squares with Pizza Cutter.

Vegetarian Note:  Growing up in a vegetarian household I always try to think of alternatives to meat and this could easily be a vegetarian pizza by subbing out the chicken for some more veggies like green and red bell peppers and some zucchini, and skip the bacon - or use imitation bacon.

Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sweetness...

Blogs like this are dangerous for me to follow.  Love love love it.  Obviously I've saved pictures as ideas for when our baby finally decides to join us...  <3

This photographer mom takes pics of her little girl in these scenes while she's laying down sleeping.  Love it. 

 









Thursday, September 16, 2010

Masterchef... Arpita?

I have been addicted to the new Fox show with Gordon Ramsay, MasterChef!  I don't normally get "addicted" to tv shows, but this one I watched religiously.  During the finale last night they revealed the winner, the youngest competitor who fought challenges on her age the whole competition - a 22 year old southern bell from Mississippi name Whitney Miller.  Through the whole competition she was just as cute as a button and so professional.  All her dishes looked absolutely amazing.  After a few competitions, and some of the most exquisite desserts I've ever seen, she earned herself the nickname 'The Pastry Princess'.  (Note to self: MUST try to make profiteroles soon!)


Every time I get sucked in to cooking shows though, I start having visions of being a Chef and wondering if I could hack it, and if I would enjoy it as much as I think I would.  A dangerous wondering when you're married to a man who's been trying to edge you towards the career for years...  Recently Jon and I decided it would be best for me to take a break from working to recoup, take some time to focus on us and certain things we want in life as well as taking a moment to step out of the rate race for a minute (I HIGHLY recommend doing this if you're able! It was really hard for me to let myself go to this at first, but it's been so therapeutic for my emotional well-being and for us as a couple.)  and trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I've been toying with the idea of going back to school for Culinary Arts at NSCC.  The thing that I'm most nervous about with the career is that  I'm not sure that it fits well with family life and having kids.  I could handle the fast paced high stress environment, and some of the other not so appealing aspects of the career...  But being suitable to family life come first and foremost for me, and is something that's definitely important to me with a career so I'm not really sure.  I'm planning on doing a "test drive" at the school and with one of the head chef's here in Halifax to get a feel for it and see if it's something I'd want to pursue.

For now, I'll just enjoy watching cooking shows, and trying out their recipes...   :)