Bruschetta Chicken and I miss summer

I miss summer.  As I look out my window at all the snow, and feel the -23*C (-32with windchill), I can imagine the warm sun and green grass.

I am itching to get in to my gardens.  Unfortunately, we have at least another two and a half to three months of winter left to get through.

So, I decided to bring a little summer to our dinner, and make bruschetta chicken.  I had to go out and buy the tomatoes and basil instead of plucking it from the garden, but it was still good eats.

You can do your chicken however you want, grilled, roasted, pan fried.  I wanted to grill, but did not want to shovel off the BBQ, so roasting it was.  I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  The meal was finished off with some cheesy potatoes, and steamed green beans and broccoli.  It was all gobbled up.

I am not a fan of raw onions, as in if I get any in my mouth I cannot choke it down, I start gagging and have to spit it out, so my bruschetta recipe does not have onions.  If you want to know how I make the rest for bruschetta, scroll to below the photo.

Bruschetta (this makes a large batch, you can easily half the recipe)

6 or 7 ripe roma tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
6-8 fresh basil leaves chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Start by destemming and deseeding your tomatoes, then chop in small pieces.  Some people will remove the skins, I never have, and honestly, I don’t notice much of a difference whether they are on or off.

Mix in all other ingredients and let it sit while you prepare the chicken.  The longer it sits, the more the tomatoes take up the yummy balsamic flavouring.

Salt and pepper your chicken and prepare how you like.  I baked mine covered at 350 for about a half hour.
When it is done plate it and add your bruschetta mix to the top.  And voila!

To make bruschetta:

Make your tomato mix and let it sit.
Take a loaf of small crusty bread and cut on a diagonal.  Brush olive oil on one side of the bread and put on a cookie sheet, oil side down.

Toast at 450* for 4-6 minutes, until the bottoms are a slight toasty brown.  Arrange bread on a plate toasted side up and either add toppings or keep the bowl out beside the bread for people to load themselves.

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A Delicious New Cookie

I had a couple of browning bananas sitting on my counter that I needed to use, and I wanted to dry something different instead of the same old banana bread.

I thought, how about a banana cookie of some sort.  So I went searching, and found a recipe for banana chocolate chip cookies.  It didn’t look too hard, and who doesn’t like chocolate chips?

Oh my goodness, they are delicious, like little soft banana cakes!  I am not a huge sweets/dessert eater, but even I had to have more than one!

They lasted a total of three days, and I have already had a request to bake some more!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup mashed bananas (I used three in this recipe)
2 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 cups flour
1 12oz bag chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks dh had brought home from work and ended up using two cups)

In a large mixing bowl combine the butter and banana.  Add the brown and white sugars in and cream together.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until just mixed.  Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix well.    Add the chocolate chips and make sure they are mixed in well.

Use a small scoop to scoop on to an ungreased cookie sheet.  They should be about 2″ apart.  Warning, the batter will be sticky, if you need to use your fingers try really hard not to lick them clean!

Bake at 325* for 13-14 minutes, or until bottoms are a light brown.  Let stand on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

If you need to stack them to store, use a piece of wax paper in between layers or they will stick together.

You have to try one of these when they are cooled down just enough to eat.  The chocolate chips are all melty and warm, so good!

A Month of Elf on the Shelf

Elf on The Shelf was a new tradition that I brought in this year, and I had so much fun doing it!  The boys loved waking up every morning to see what “Bob” had done the night before, and even  the daycare kids ran right in to look for Bob as soon as they got here.

For those of you who do not know what the heck I am talking about, take a look here
Basically, the elf is sent by Santa to a family to help Santa with his naughty and nice list.  The elf watches through the day, and once everyone is asleep he returns to the North Pole to report to Santa.  The parents move Bob to a different spot each night for the kids to find in the morning, and he stays there for the day.

When you purchase your elf, he/she will come with a hardcover book that tells the story, and this year there was even a tv special.  The book says that when your elf comes you need to give him a name.  You are not allowed to touch the elf as he/she will lose his magic and will not be able to return to the North Pole.  You can talk to your elf and tell him your wishes, and he will tell them to Santa.

“Bob” was the name that O and B gave our Elf.  B was a lot more in to the whole experience than O.  B would talk to Bob all the time.  O just looked for him every morning.

Our elf was a mischevious elf, not just hanging out in different spots.  I think that made it more fun for the boys.  Near the end it was getting harder to think of ideas, but Pinterest was a great help with that.

And now for the pictures!  This will be picture heavy, there is a month of mischief to record!  Some are my own ideas, and some are ideas I found on Pinterest.

New Year, Resolutions, and Rambling

Hi all, I am back!

The Christmas holidays got the best of me and I did not have much time to get on and post.  My New Years Resolution is to be a better, more consistent blogger.  I hope to post at minimum twice a week.

Christmas was a busy time.  Between working, doing daycare, baking, shopping, having five (!) different Christmases, and shovelling lots and lots of snow, I was glad when New Years came and everything wound down.

My favourite present this year was my Kitchenaid stand mixer.  I broke it in on Christmas morning by beating my eggs in it!  Isn’t she pretty?

With Christmas money that I got from the husbands parents I also bought myself a brand new set of good quality pots and pans.

 I pretty much had a kitchen Christmas, but I am absolutely okay with that.

I will be doing a post on a new tradition that we brought in this year, Elf on the Shelf.  It was so much fun, and the kids loved it!  I am forewarning you that that will be a picture heavy post.

My mixer has been getting a lot of use.  I am happy to say that I conquered my fear of yeast, and have made bread, and cinnamon buns, and currently have dough for crusty buns rising.  I always had this fear of doing something wrong and the dough not rising, and the amount of work that seemed to go in to bread making.

These are my first attempts at bread, I think they turned out great, and it is almost gone already, so I know it tastes good!

The recipe I used was very easy to follow.  If you are a first time bread maker with a stand mixer I highly recommend this recipe.  You can find it here.

I think that is about all for now.  How was your holiday season?

Minecraft Costume (and a successful attempt at crafting)

So anyone who knows me knows I am not all that crafty.  I would like to say that I am but I can’t.
I cannot draw, heck, I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler.

With Halloween coming, B decided he wanted to be a Ninja Turtle.  Easy, there are costumes to buy.
O decided that he wanted to be Minecraft Steve.  If you are not familiar with this game, Steve is the main character.  This game is all the rage with kids now, but I really know nothing about it except that you build things and you get rid of “creepers”, which are zombies.  The game is old school graphics and pixellated.

Well, great idea O, but there are no costumes anywhere.  I did find a head on Amazon, but it was a painted cardboard box, at the grand cost of $30cdn plus shipping.  There was no way I was going to spend that on a piece of cardboard!  After looking it up online and studying the pictures, and reading a couple of other blogs, I thought that I would be able to make him the costume.  I kind of combined a couple of ideas from a couple other blogs to get to my final result.

Step 1 was to make the head.
Materials needed:
cardboard box
different colours of fleshy toned paper cut in to squares, plus a black or dark brown for the head
hot glue gun
paper cutter (for cutting a LOT of squares)
ruler or measuring tape

My inspiration for this part came from this blog .  I got a box proprtionate to the size of O’s head, bought A pack of cardstock paper from Michaels, plus an extra pack to get the right colours.  The head seemed to be layed out in an 8×8 pattern, so I found the centre of the box and split the box in to a four part grid.  I then figured out the size I would need to cut the squares in order to fit eight across.  This will depend on the size of your box, but for me it meant a 1.5″x1.5″ square.

After that I laid out the pattern, picked up the hot glue gun and proceeded to glue the squares on to the box, leaving an empty space where I needed to cut out the eye holes.

Step 2 was to make the sword
Materials needed:
Foam poster board
Black, yellow and brown paint.

I was lucky enough to find a template for all the weapons used here.

I printed off the template for the sword (found at the bottom of the blog post in the link) cut it out and painted it.  He wanted the gold sword, hence the yellow paint.  I painted the outline first, then the middle, and finally the handle.

Step 3 was to paint the body.
Materials needed:
Larger cardboard box
spray paint (teal)
exacto knife to cut out head and arm holes

You don’t need to do this step.  Minecraft Steve wears a teal shirt and jeans, so your little Minecraft guy could go out like that.  However we live in Canada, and need to bundle up for trick or treating, so I needed something that he could wear his jacket under.

Using O as measurement I cut the flaps off the bottom of the box, and cut out the holes needed.  I then spray painted two coats on the box to get Steve’s body.

The end result turned out really well.  O was ecstatic with his costume, he was the only Minecraft character in the neighbourhood, and everyone (kids) knew who he was.  A crafting success for this mom!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Wow, I know I said it in my last post, but I have been a bad blogger!  I am going to be better, I promise!  Now that summer is over and the kids are in school I am hoping to have some more time to myself.

Oct 14th was Canadian Thanksgiving, and turkey dinner was hosted at our house.  We always do a full spread (that I forgot to take a picture of).  The day was eventful to say the least (think exploding toilet and full septic tank)  but all turned out well in the end.

Do you have canned cranberry sauce with your delicious turkey dinners?  We used to, until two years ago when I decided that I wanted to try to make it.  After looking on the back of a package of cranberries and seeing how easy it was I thought I would give it a go.  Seriously, it only takes about 15 minutes to do.

OMG, it is so much better than the canned.  You can add all sorts of different things to it, but I like mine plain and simple.  I bought organic local cranberries this year, and so did not have the recipe handy to make, so I had to go searching the internet to find one.  This is also how I found out about all the different things you can add to the sauce.

This is all you need, plus a pot.

Cranberry Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 cups cranberries washed

Combine your water and sugar and bring it to a boil.  Add berries and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and gently boil for ten minutes.  You will hear them popping, like Rice Krispies but cranberry style!

After ten minutes remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  After it is cooled put it in to the bowl I will be serving it in and refrigerate until it is dinner time!  I always make it the day before as well.

 

Garden Goodies

I am so excited, yesterday I had the first harvesting from my vegetable garden for the season!  Everything is doing really well, there are a ton of little green tomatoes, tiny little cucumbers, the hot peppers are doing very well and I will be able to start picking the cayennes soon.

I decided to take a look yesterday morning, and it looks like the basil is ready to start picking and using and freezing.

And this is what I was able to pick yesterday!

Green and yellow beans (which were delicious steamed by the way) and our first cucumber of the season.  In another week or two we will be inundated with them, and the beans are already getting out of control, and that is only the first planting.  The second is two weeks behind, and starting to sprout lots of little baby beans too!  this year I will be trying to freeze them to see how they turn out.

And we had one lonely little cucumber ready too, I don’t know why it was so far ahead of the others, but I’ll take it, and it was delicious.

My day continued with a nice afternoon pedicure with my sister-in-law.  We had to wait a bit to get in, so we wandered the mall for a bit, but the wait was worth it.  We both got a total pampering foot rub and treatment with fun summer colours.

And check out the cool freehand artwork, but please ignore the flip flop tan lines 😀