Sunday, September 26, 2010


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.

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.  


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 
  • 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 

  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.


Sunday, September 19, 2010


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...   :)  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Toastie Pies - a La Hey, Lady Grey

Friends, and blog followers have been asking me how the organic/ healthy eating initiative I started a little while back is going.  I think this blog post is a good indication of where I'm at....  It's going... in that I'm conscious of it.  And it's definitely improved from where it was in that I do only use my Home Grown Box of produce, or on occasion store bought organic produce.  I have cut down on refined sugar, but have not cut out.

All in all, I'm happy with the small strides I've made, and am definitely eating healthier now than I was before I started the healthy eating kick.  And as of today, I have gone 6 weeks with no fast food.  Those who know me well know that this is a HUGE feat in and of itself.

The other pitfall I'm experiencing is that in recent weeks I've become quite a blog junkie, and have been especially following foodie blogs.  One of my faves that I've posted about before is Hey Lady Grey.  Recently she blogged about Toastie Pies and they looked way too good (and easy) for me to pass them up. 

 Picture from Hey Lady Grey

Here is the recipe.

1 apple
2 slices bread (I used raisin bread)

Cinnamon-Sugar Spread
2 Tbs butter, room temperature
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix cinnamon & sugar in a small bowl, then mix with butter. This will make a little more spread than you need, but it keeps in the fridge and makes a great breakfast spread for toast.
3. Peel and slice apple into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 min 30 seconds. Then set aside.
4. Cut crusts off bread. Then using your fingers (or a rolling pin) smush/squish the bread down to a pancake. Butter one side of each bread with plain butter. On the other side generously & evenly spread the cinnamon-sugar-butter mixture. 
5. Push the bread into muffin tins, butter side down (cinnamon side up). Fill centres with apple slices, then fold corners of bread over top to seal the pie. Don't be afraid to really squish it down so that the top sticks. Sprinkle top with a bit of granulated sugar.
6. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until tops of toastie-pies are golden.
7. Remove from muffin tins and serve warm with ice cream. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Can't Live Without...

Recently I've been wanting to start a weekly "series" on the blog and was thinking of what I would most enjoy blogging about... and then it dawned on me today, as I was vacuuming the house.  I bring you, "Things I Thought I Could Live Without, But Really Can't..."

First item on the list is my Dyson Slim Vacuum.

Anyone who knew me when Jon and I were engaged knows that I was equally as excited about putting the Dyson Vacuum on my Bridal Registry, as I was to be marrying my best friend.  Mainly because I thought I would love the vacuum but thought that I'd never be able to justify the coin.  Ohh, but I was wrong.... Worth every penny!!  Luckily, a group of my mom's very generous friends went in together to get the Dyson Vacuum for my Bridal Shower.

The model we have is the Dyson Slim, which I love and really suits our lifestyle.  It's SO  light weight I can carry up and down stairs with one hand, but still fully functional.  We currently have, and will likely always prefer hardwood floors, because of Jon's allergies and the fact that we have a kitty, and once we have kids and a house, we're thinking we'll be adding a dog in the mix too.  That's A LOT of dust and dirt.  So, definitely no carpeting in our future.  Dyson does make a "pet" model which is supposedly amazing at getting fur out of carpets... but as I mentioned, there is definitely no carpet in our future.

All in all, it's such a functional vacuum... and stays completely true to the claim that it definitely does not loose suction.  All the attachments are super easily accessible, without having to bend down to floor level.  You can tell this vacuum was designed by a man.  It has a very "techy" feel to it.  Lots of little gadgets all over it, and I love every single one of them!!  The big plus for me is that I love not having to worry about vacuum bags!  It's nice to be able to see the clear canister to know when it needs to be emptied.  Jon's allergies have improved so much since we've got the vacuum...  It's night and day. 

Verdict:  LOVE LOVE LOVE, and you will too!!   

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grumpy Kitten

Do you ever just feel like you're up against a wall trying to make things work out?  I've been having a small string of bad luck recently and having a hard time getting through it.  Thankfully I am blessed with an incredible family, and such a strong and supportive husband to lean on.  I've been praying a lot and hoping I find the grace to get me through this.  My hopes are that maybe putting it out there will help take it away. 

What do you do to help you get through the grey days? 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Hurricane" Earl

Those who know Jon well know that he's always had a thrill of adventure.  Most notably he loves checking out natural disasters... while they are occurring.  Immediately after the 2004 Christmas Tsunami that hit Southeast Asia, he headed down to Sri Lanka and ended up helping with the relief effort, and checking out the destruction that had occurred.  So, it was no surprise to me when he woke me up this Saturday morning to check out the destruction we were expecting from Hurricane Earl.  We woke up at 9 am and it looked just like a regular cloudy day.  When we left the house at 10am, there was still really not much going on...   We drove around the city and went to Halifax harbour.  There were a few broken branches and business signs knocked down, and the seas were rough for sure, but it still didn't really feel like a hurricane.  So then we headed up to Lawrence Town Beach, where they were predicting 30ft waves.  Although RCMP officers were blocking off the beaches and really dangerous areas we did still get a glimpse of some pretty crazy waves.  Definitely not 30ft waves, but I can see why the RCMP was blocking off the area.  We got out for a short bit, but I almost blew away so we decided to get back in the car.  :) All in all, although there was some damage and quite a bit of the city was left without power, it just felt like a heavy rain storm for us more than anything... Didn't even loose power.  Glad we didn't get what was predicted!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Yummiest Book Ever!

One of my favorite bloggers, Bakerella, is writing a book about something from her blog.  She's actually quite famous and was on Martha Stewart talking about her Cake Pops.  I saw this idea on her blog a few years ago and altered it a bit to make what I call Cake Truffles.  Essentially the same thing, but I don't put mine on sticks, and I use chocolate instead of candy melts.  I always,  Santa always makes sure to have a bunch in all the stockings at Christmas time in the Lockeport Monahan house.  They're a huge hit!  Yum!

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