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Friday, June 17, 2011

A Vacation Memories Keepsake...

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For the first time ever this year, our little family went on a warm winter vacation to somewhere semi-tropical...Florida.
We have always been too busy with our winter sports seasons to book ourselves this kind of vacation, or we just didn't have the extra in our budget.
But with the realization that our daughter will soon be off to University in 3 short years, we decided this year would be the year.
We had an amazing vacation....lots of wonderful, slow down-time on the beach.
No schedules. No early mornings. No practices. No homework.
It was peaceful & rejuvenating.

When I got home, I really wanted to make a tangible reminder of this vacation for us to remember.
I found a shadow box at Winners and I printed some black & white photos doing the thing we enjoyed the most...hanging at the beach.
We loved Cocoa Beach.


I really love how this simple project came together.
It is a snapshot in time....of the 4 of us together.
Happy. Relaxed.
A memory to place on our wall!




This post is linked to these great parties:

Somewhat Simple


The Girl Creative


Strut Your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters Stuff

Sundae Scoop @ I {heart} Naptime

UndertheTableandDreaming


lil luna link party buttonThirty Hand Made Days




Organize and Decorate Everything


Photobucket


Tips & Tutorials Tuesday at Stories of A to Z

Tip Junkie handmade projects



Monday, June 13, 2011

The Perfect Picnic Sandwich {Oh Yes It Is!}

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This is one of our all time favourite recipes ever.
Our all-time yummy-always-a-hit picnic sandwich.
I love it because not only is it a fabulous sandwich, but it is the ultimate in 'make ahead'  food.
It tastes better the day after it's made....after the flavours have had time to mingle.
It makes 8 sandwich wedges and each piece is very filling and satisfying.


This sandwich requires a filling, some meat & cheeses and a round loaf.
Step 1: The Filling.
5 seeded & chopped plum tomatoes
1 cup chopped red, orange or yellow peppers
1/4 cup chopped pitted black olives (I use kalamata olives)
1/4 cup chopped red onion ( I increase this to 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil. Do not skip this ingredient!
2 tsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
drizzle of olive oil

Mix all of these things together.The tomato mixture is similar to a brushchetta topping. You can adapt the filling to your own tastes by adding grilled vegetables with hummus or pesto.
The filling will look like this:
Step 2: Scoop Out the Round Loaf
Scoop out the loaf so that you have about 1 inch of bread all around. Keep the 'hat' of the loaf for the finished sandwich.
Brush the inside of the loaf with olive oil.
This step prevents the bread from going soggy.
Step 3: Fill the Round Loaf
Now spoon half of the filling into the bottom of the bread and press down with spoon.
Then layer in half of the sliced meats.
You can use different salami, ham, turkey or even eggplant if you want to keep it vegetarian.
In this sandwich, I used sliced turkey & ham.
Then layer in cheese slices. I used havarti slices. Again, any favourite cheese can be used.

After the cheese layer, layer the remaining meat and spoon in the other half of the filling.
Place the 'hat' back on the loaf. Press firmly. You are done!
Step 4:Wrap the Sandwich for The Picnic
Wrap sandwich tightly in saran wrap.
Then I also wrap in tin foil.
Place sandwich in large bowl with some soup cans on top for weight to help "press" the sandwich.
(This step can be skipped, especially if you don't have room in your fridge for the big bowl).
Place sandwich in fridge overnight.
I usually slice my sandwich in the morning with an electric knife into 8 wedges.
Then I re-wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap and tin foil and place in the cooler until lunch time.

This sandwich doesn't take long to make. Once you chop up the ingredients for the filling, the rest only takes a few minutes. My 13 yr. old daughter has actually made this sandwich.




This post is linked to:
Cooking With Ruthie

Friday, June 10, 2011

10 Great Camping Recipes & Tips To Get You Through Camping Season...

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With camping season upon us, I thought I would share 10 recipes & tips to help make your camping excursions easier.
We love camping! It is one of the rights of passage of summer for us! 
We are campers in the true sense of the word.... we sleep in sleeping bags in a tent under the stars {or rain} to the sounds of nature's music.
Our camping kitchen is outside...it consists of a picnic table, a campfire, a table top barbeque & portable kitchen set-up with a sink and the our cooler of food.
I find one of the things that make our camping trips go just peachy keen is if I have the a food plan ready to go.
So here are some tips to help make your camping season as super fun as the toy department at Christmas!


1. Plan The Meals. Write out all the of the meals you are going to need for your camping trip and write a menu plan for it...however simple or elaborate you want it to be. Add in snacks that your family will be looking for and use this information to create your packing/grocery list. Don't forget to include the condiments you will need like bbq sauce, ketchup, etc.


2. Wash & Prep Healthy Snacks Ahead of Time. I always find it easier to have snacks such as fruit & vegetables washed & cut up before I leave home. I pack everything in ziploc bags or containers and into the cooler it goes. This way when the kids are looking for a snack...I can do my mom duty and say "Eat some fruit! Have some vegetables!".




3. Containerize Condiments.  Save yourself time & money by packing small containers of condiments made up from the bigger sizes you already have in your fridge. This saves you from having to buy small sizes of condiments...saving you money. The smaller sized containers from home also fit into a cooler better. I like these little Tupperware containers.


4. Label, Label, Label Your Food Ingredients. This makes it much easier when rooting around the cooler looking for certain things! I like these containers from Ikea...they are so sturdy!



5. Have Side Dishes Ready to Go. I like having our little sides ready to go on the barbeque. These are mushrooms & onions washed & sliced  for our steak night.



6. Have Lunch Ready For  Set-Up Day.  I like having this SPECIAL PICNIC SANDWICH ready for us on the first day of camping when we are busy setting up tents, inflating mattresses, making beds and setting up. It's busy for the first few hours and it is so nice to not have to stop and make lunch.  I make the sandwich the day before we leave for our trip and wrap it in plastic wrap, then tin foil and tuck it into the cooler. You just need to add drinks, veggies & fruit and presto....lunch is ready! You can find the recipe for this PICNIC SANDWICH HERE.



7. Recipe Share: Chicks on Sticks. This is one of my favourite recipes for camping....chicken kabobs. I cut & marinate the chicken at home, freeze it and place it in the cooler for a meal. On the day we are eating this, I take it out of the cooler to thaw for a few hours. We just need to thread the chicken on skewers with veggies and bbq. You can find the recipe for 'Chicks on Sticks' here.



8. Marinade & Freeze Your Meats.  If you like to switch it up from the ususal hot dogs, hamburgers and beans....... simple marinade recipes for meat... prepared at home, tossed in the freezer and taken on your trip for meal are just the ticket. Just take the meat out of the cooler to thaw on the morning of the day you plan to serve it.
For  a recipe for delicous steak marinade, click here.


9. Pack A Salad That Is A Travel Trooper. It's always handy to have a make -ahead salad ready to eat with hamburgers, hotdogs, steak or chicken. One salad that travels really well is this bean salad which  is full of healthy ingredients and tastes better as it ages.It doesn't get soggy like a lettuce salad would. For this bean salad recipe, click here.



10. Try Camp Cookers For Quick Meals & Desserts. Last summer we purchased some camp cookers from Canadian Tire and we had a blast using them at night time for snacks & desserts. They are perfect for grilled cheese, pocket pizzas or toasted s'more sandwiches.Just simply butter 2 slices of bread, add whatever you like inside and toast in the camp cooker over a fire.We tried: pizza sauce with ham, pineapple & cheese.Desserts combinations are endless. My daughter's fav was blueberry jam with cream cheese, but we also made nutella with banana slices and lots of other gooey stuff.





It usually takes me a few hours to prep and prepare all the food for our camping trip, but once we arrive at the camp site, all my efforts are so worth it....as I have more time to sit & relax without feeling like I'm
'in the kitchen' all the time!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Reviving a Kitchen with Paint & Decor...

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I have shared on this blog before how my husband & I purchased our home on a short 5 day house hunting trip.
It was stressful to say the least, and we ended up buying a house that was our 3rd choice.
Below is the kitchen on the day we purchased the house.
It is not a big or remarkable kitchen.
Just a normal run-of-the-mill kitchen...nothing fancy schmancy.
Take note of:
The boring colour on the walls.
The lack of personality.
The dumpy appliances...{the appliances were included but we said no thank you}.
The vinyl floor coverings.
Not very inspirational at all.
Because of our big move across the country...we did not have a budget for renovations or huge decorating projects.
I began with the cheapest transformational tool out there.....paint!
 I chose a very warm yellow-y colour...Benjamin Moore's Gingerroot.
For years I have decorated with blue & white because it is a colour scheme that I love and this colour makes a wonderful backdrop for blue & white.
Gingerroot on the walls made the kitchen feel instantly warm & inviting.
It makes a nice contrast to the white cabinets.
We painted, painted, painted.
Added a new stainless steel sink.
New stainless steel appliances.
And after 2 years, we added a medium brown laminate floor.
I thought the kitchen looked so much better for not a lot of money.
 Then I set to work organizing my kitchen into 'zones'.
This is my baking corner...everything I need is within reach.
{I do bake a lot...my flour & sugar canisters are looking sort of empty!}
 This is our food prep & plate zone.
And yes...there is real butter in the butter dish....Julia Child lived to be 92 years old and she ate pounds of butter...so that's what I am going with!
 The small counter by the fridge makes a perfect coffee corner.
Anyone can help themselves to coffee, tea or hot chocolate without having to go into the work zones.
The cabinet above holds all of our coffee & tea cups.
 I decorated the top of the cabinets with things we already had...it is a great storage spot for things not used very often.

 This kitchen is a great 1 person kitchen. Everything is within easy reach.
It is small & humble...but it works for me.
There are a lot of things on the counter...but I cook every day and  all of those items are used and needed
Before:
After:
Yes.... I still dream of a custom designed kitchen with white cabinets, subway tile and marble counters with some gleaming chandeliers, but for now...this feels great!
And you know the best part about a small kitchen?
Cleanup is a breeze.


This post is linked to:

Somewhat Simple





UndertheTableandDreaming






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Before & After Party @
















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