Sunday, 31 March 2013

4 Fresh Salads For Spring

I love salads and I eat them almost every day for lunch. My family prefers to eat salads over cooked veggies, so I often make a salad to go with  dinner. I find the salads that we enjoy the most are the simple salads made with only a handful of ingredients, and a favourite dressing. I want to share with you 4 fresh salads for Spring that are new favourites at  our house!
We are so lucky because a few weeks ago, the kind people at Kraft sent us 4 NEW dressings to try on our salads, which we were very happy to do! The new salad dressings are called Kraft Pourables and they are made with real fruits and vegetables. They are so good, and we loved them all so much that I actually made 4 salads with them to show off their bold, fresh taste. Their dressings also have no artificial flavors & colors, are low in fat & salt, and are between 25-30 calories per serving.The first dressing we tried was Berry Balsamic on a Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad. The berry flavour was a perfect compliment to the strawberries, greens and goat cheese and I find that when making a salad with greens, you really want a nice bold tasting dressing to make the salad sing.
Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad

Field greens, washed
Strawberries, washed and sliced
Goat cheese, crumbled
Cinnamon spiced pecans, {optional}{ I bought mine at the grocery store.}
Kraft Pourables Berry Balsamic Dressing

1. Place salad greens in a bowl. Add Kraft Pourables Berry Balsamic dressing and mix.
2. Add greens to a salad plate.
3. Sprinkle with sliced strawberries, crumbled goat cheese and pecans.
4. Serve immediately.
This salad was completely yummy!
The next salad I made was a Poached Egg on Asparagus Salad. Asparagus is one of my favorite spring vegetables and I especially love it steamed to a bright green color. The best thing about this salad is that I skipped the traditional rich hollandaise sauce and used the Kraft Pourable Garlic Parmesan with Roasted Cauliflower instead  so my salad wasn't  high in calories or fat.
Asparagus with Poached Egg Salad
Steamed asparagus
Poached egg
Kraft Pourable Garlic Parmesan with Roasted Cauliflower Dressing.
1. Add hot steamed asparagus to a plate.
2. Slide the poached egg gently on top of asparagus.
3. Add fresh ground pepper to poached egg, if desired.
4. Drizzle with Garlic Parmesan with Roasted Cauliflower Dressing.
This salad was SO good and made the perfect lunch. The taste of the garlic and the parmesan was a great kick to the asparagus and the egg. Delicious!

This  next salad was made at my daughter's request.  She absolutely adores avocados and eats them every day. She wanted a salad with avocado and grapefruit, so I made this just for her!

Avocado & Grapefruit Salad

Greens, washed
Diced avocado
Fresh grapefruit, sectioned
Kraft Pourable Roasted Yellow Pepper, Garlic and Lime Dressing

1. Add washed greens to a bowl. Mix with Roasted Yellow Pepper, Garlic & Lime Dressing.
2. Add salad greens to plate.
3. Sprinkle diced avocado and sectioned grapefruit.
4. Drizzle with more Roasted Yellow Pepper, Garlic & Lime Dressing, if desired.
I cannot tell you how wonderful this salad was! The Roasted Yellow Pepper, Garlic & Lime Dressing was the perfect partner for the grapefruit and avocado.
This plate of salad was gone in no time at all!
The last salad that we tried with the new Kraft Pourable Fire Roasted Tomato & Basil was this super simple cucumber & tomato salad, which is my husband's favourite salad and we eat this a few times a week.

Simple Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Sliced cucumber
Sliced tomoato
Diced red onion
Sliced green or black olived, optional
Salt & Pepper to taste
Kraft Pourables Fire Roasted Tomato with Basil

1. In bowl, mix together cucumber, tomato, red onion & olives.
2. Season with salt & pepper.
3. Plate on salad plates or bowls.
4. Drizzle with Kraft Fire Roasted Tomato with Basil dressing.
5. Serve.
This salad was my husband's favourite because he loves anything with a tasty tomato flavour, and this dressing delivered that bold flavour for him. My husband ate huge bowl of this salad with fish for dinner one night.
All of these salads served with the new Kraft Pourables were tasty and delicious!  I won't hesitate at all to add any of them to my grocery cart. In fact, these 4 NEW Kraft Pourables are the new popular dressings at my house and are more than half gone already. I love how they are made with real fruits & vegetables too!

{Disclosure: The products mentioned above have been given to me as part of a sponsored post through my ad network, SheBlogsMedia, for Kraft Canada. However, all opinions expressed are my own and the recipes have been developed by me to try with the new Kraft Pourables.}

This post is linked to these parties:
Under The Table & Dreaming, StoneGable, Aalderberry Hill, Craft-O-Maniac, Skip To My Lou,
Lolly Jane, Cozy Little House, Chef-In-Training, Homestories A To Z, Time To Sparkle, House of Smiths, Not Just A Housewife, Lil Luna, Clean & Scentsible, Savvy Southern Style, StoneGable, The 36th Avenue, I Gotta Create,  Rae Gun Ramblings,

Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Birdhouse for Spring

If you are looking for a fun project for the kids this weekend, this might be just the thing you are looking for! This little birdhouse is such a colourful creation and each little artist can personalize it and make it their own in the colours of their choice. A group of birdhouses together would also make a fabulous mobile or decoration hung from the ceiling too!

Little wooden birdhouses are easy to find at the dollar store or Michael's. I found this one at Michael's for $1.50. The rest of the supplies I had at home. Here is a visual of the supplies you will need:

-1 or more birdhouse for each artist
-paintbrushes and paints in assorted colours
-ric rac ribbon and buttons in assorted colours
-white glue or glue gun & glue
-little chickadees {I found mind at Michael's}
-assorted Easter Candies
-scrapbook paper scraps

1. Paint birdhouses as desired. Let dry.
2. Decorate roof. Candies can be used as I have down, or multi-coloured buttons, or strips of scrapbook paper. Have fun with it.
3. Add ric rac and buttons as trim on birdhouse as shown.
4. Glue little chickadee on perch.
5. Admire the colourful creation!

If you are looking for some other easy crafts to make this weekend, have a look at my Easter Pretzel Hugs, Chickadee Pencils, Easter Baskets from Recycled Cans, or Playdough Bunny Favours.

And for more great ideas, please visit these boards on Pinterest:
Wishing you a sweet & lovely Easter!

This post is linked to these parties:
Spring Craft Linky PartyTip Me Tuesday,Tatertots and Jello, Under The Table & Dreaming, Aalderberry Hill, Craft-O-Maniac,Lolly Jane,Homestories A to Z, Time To Sparkle, House of Smiths, Not Just A Housewife, Lil Luna, Clean & Scentsible, Savvy Southern Style, The 36th Avenue, I Gotta Create, Rae Gun RamblingsTip Me Tuesday, The Sunday Soiree Party,

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sweet Chickadee Bracelet

I am still crafting Easter projects. This sweet little chickadee bracelet is the latest creation.  I love these beads and chickadees so much because of the pretty colours. Plus, I just keep seeing cute stuff at the dollar store that I just have to make something with. It's an addiction I tell ya!

My daughter LOVED crafting when she was younger, and making things with beads was one of her very favorite things. This beading project is an adorable craft to make with little ones for Easter. All of the supplies can easily be found at the dollar store. Although I couldn't find any Easter-type beads in particular, I did improvise a little to put together some little chickadee beads for this project.

Assorted coloured beads
Elastic cording
Yellow Beads
Chickadee cutouts
1. Glue the chickadee cutouts to yellow beads{as shown}to make chickadee beads.
2. Thread beads on elastic cording as desired. I used a pattern of three coloured beads and a chickadee bead. Repeat.
3. When the beading has reached the desired length, tie a knot in the cording to finish the bracelet.
These little bracelets would make a such sweet gift for friends or family for Easter.
This would be such a cute project to whip up before Easter dinner for the dainty wrists of little ladies, don't you think? And I am sure that Moms and Grandmas would love it equally as well!

Wishing you a Happy Easter!

This post is linked to these great parties:
The 36th Avenue, The Style Sisters, Jennifer Rizzo, Tidy Mom, The Frugal Girls, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, Craftberry Bush, Becoming Martha, Ducks In A Row, Tatertots and Jello, Under The Table & Dreaming, Aalderberry Hill, Skip To My Lou, Lolly Jane, Homestories A to Z, Time To Sparkle, House of Smiths, Not Just A Housewife, Lil Luna, Clean & Scentsible, Savvy Southern Style, Savvy Southern Style, Rae Gun Ramblings,

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Easter Wreath Favors

Easter is this weekend and I have been busy planning our family Easter dinner. I saw some beautiful Easter wreath table favors at a home decor store that I absolutely loved, but could not afford at $14.95 each. So like any DIY/Craft blogger, I went home and made my own for a fraction of the cost, and just as pretty too I might add. This is a project that anyone can do, and I will share with you just how easy it is.

To start, I picked up some supplies at the local dollar store, including 6 mini grapevine wreaths and a handful of artificial flowers....all for under $15, which was the cost of one wreath that I had spied originally at the store. Score! Now all I needed was a glue gun and a little time to create.
 The first thing I did was to glue some greenery to the wreath. I chose to add some to the side of the wreath because I chose to make the focal design on the side of the wreath.
 Next, I added my largest and brightest flower to be the focal flower for the design. I chose these beautiful bright orange flowers with yellow centers because I just loved their cheery brightness.Then I chose to add 3 more smaller flowers in different colours around the focal flower.
 And this was my final design. I then made 5 more exactly like the first.
 I love how these simple wreaths will dress up my Easter dinner table. They lend such a bright pop of colour. And I saved myself so much money by making my own for a total of 6 for under $15. So never be discouraged when you see something at a store that is outside your budget because with a little elbow grease and creativity, it is well within your power to create your own beautiful project at home.
 How are your plans for Easter dinner going?
Are you hosting this year, or will you be dining out?
To see some of my other Easter crafts:
Looking for ideas? Visit these boards on Pinterest:
Have a lovely & wonderful week!

This post is linked to:
The Sunday Soiree Party, The Sunday Soiree Party, Spring Craft Linky PartyTip Me Tuesday,Lil Luna, The DIY Dreamer, Savvy Southern Style, Clean & Scentsible, The 36th Avenue, The Style Sisters, Jennifer Rizzo, Tidy Mom, The Frugral Girls, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Craftberry Bush, Becoming Martha, Ducks In A Row, Tatertots and Jello, Under The Table & DreamingAalderberry Hill, Craft-O-Maniac, Skip To My Lou,  Cozy Little House, Homestories A to Z, Time To Sparkle, House of Smiths, Not Just A Housewife, Lil Luna, Clean & ScentsibleSavvy Southern Style, Rae Gun Ramblings,

Monday, 25 March 2013

Easter Baskets Made From Recycled Cans

I had so much fun this weekend turning some recycled tomato cans into Easter baskets for my pretty chillens. I love creating and it's always amazing to me how scrapbook paper and ric rac ribbon can dress almost anything up! My kids are now a teen and a tween,  and other than a special family dinner, we don't celebrate Easter in a big commercial way. In fact, giving each child a little basket with a few treats inside is just fine for them, so this year I have decided to downsize the baskets and replace them with something smaller. Just so happens my husband made pasta sauce yesterday and as I was rinsing the tomato cans out for the recycling bin, I began to think how the tomato cans were the perfect size for a few treats.

I know that many of you will be inspired by just looking at the pictures, but I want to share a visual of the supplies needed for this project, along with step-by-step instructions to answer any questions you have.
-28 oz. can, label off, washed and dried.
-drill or hammer and nail to add a hole on each side of the can for the handle.
-scrapbook paper and cardstock scraps
-stickers or chipboard letters for the monogram
-pipe cleaners
-ric rac ribbon
-plastic flowers
-scrapbook adhesive
-glue gun and glue

1. Using a drill or a hammer and nail, make a hole to each side of the can for adding the handle.
1. Measure scrapbook paper to fit around the can. Using scrapbook adhesive, add the paper to the can.{You could also use a glue stick, white glue or modge podge...your choice!}
2. Using a glue gun, add ric rac ribbon around the top of can.
3. Use the tip of  the scissors to press through scrapbook paper that has covered the holes for the handle.
4. Thread a pipe cleaner through each hole on each side of the can to create the handle for the basket. If desired, add a bead to each end of the pipe cleaner to slide over the ends as shown below.
5. Embellish the basket as desired. I have added a circle with a letter inside as a monogram for  basket. You could decorate any way you wish! Glue flowers on side of basket as shown if you like.
6.When finished, line the inside of the basket with tissue paper and fill with little treats!
This is the basket that I created for my daughter. I also added a sweet little bunny pick to make it look pretty!
 Inside the basket is: a small chocolate bunny, a pack of gum and soft, fluffy socks. 
This is the basket I created for my son. His basket has a cute little bunny pick too!
Inside my son's basket are the same treats his sister has. I like to keep it simple!
This project is a fabulous way to recycle cans into something that is both useful and pretty. When Easter is over, it could easily become a cup for pencils or markers for a desk.

This would also be a wonderful activity to make as a craft with a group of children such as a class at school, a Sunday school group or a Girl Guide troop.

Have you been busy making any Easter crafts recently?

Here are some other great crafts for kids:
And tons of other ideas on these Pinterest boards:
Thank you so much for visiting!

This post is linked to these parties:
The Sunday Soiree Party, Spring Craft Linky PartyTip Me Tuesday,Skip To My Lou, Craft-O-Maniac, Bru Crew Life, Homes Stories A to Z, Lolly Jane, Cozy Little House, Not Just A Housewife, Lil Luna, The DIY Dreamer, Savvy Southern Style, Clean & Scentsible, The 36th Avenue, A to Z Celebrations, The Style Sisters, Jennifer Rizzo, Tidy Mom, The Frugal Girls, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, Craftberry Bush, Becoming Martha, Ducks In A Row, Tatertots and Jello, Under The Table & Dreaming, Aalderberry Hill, Craft-O-Maniac, Skip To My Lou, Time To Sparkle, House of Smiths, Not Just A Housewife,

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Beauty of BlogWest 2013

Two weeks ago, I had the most unforgettable  time attending the 2nd annual BlogWest Conference, organized by Felicia Dewar, right here in my home city of Edmonton, Alberta. This year I had the honour of being an ambassador for the conference and I have to say that it was the easiest job ever!  How could I not be passionate about and support an event that was full of learning, friendship and networking? I introduced, greeted, chatted, laughed, learned, connected, and came away with warm memories of new friendships, seeds of inspiration for the future, and the biggest bags under my eyes ever from total lack of sleep. Seriously, when I got home, the first thing I did was a big, face down starfish on my bed in total exhaustion, but also soul-fulfilling happiness.

I cannot even begin to tell you the many, many wonderful things that I got personally out of this conference. I can't thank Felicia enough for the caliber of the conference, and the array of talented people that we had access to...all in an intimate setting.

The Highlights:

Our opening speaker was Jen Reynolds, the new Editor-In-Chief of Canadian Living Magazine. Jen shared with us the journey to her new job as Editor-In-Chief of Canada's #1 magazine. One thing that she talked about, that stood out in my mind, was how she had spent hours pulling apart and then putting back together issues of Canadian Living in preparation for her new role. My takeaway from that? You know you love your job when work is play and play is work.{How many of us bloggers feel that way?} From a personal perspective, I had the chance to chat and share my work with her one-on-one later in the evening and her generous feedback about my work as a blogger has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams on a much wider scale than I ever thought possible.  {More about that later!}

Jayson Acquilanti, a Disney Imagineer from Canada and now living in California, joined us to share some of the' behind the scenes' details of how Disney takes things from ideas to real life experiences. This spoke to me in regards to my blogging activities because I am constantly reminding myself to focus on my ideas and creativity and NOT to get caught up in things that don't support that goal.

Angela Saclamacis. What more can I say? If you have never met the Disney PR person for Canada, she is fun, dynamic and shares stories that will make your sides split and your cheeks hurt with laughter  Her passion is's clear that she loves her job. And if you work for Disney, really, what's not to love?

Elan Morgan,  from the well-known Canadian blog Schmutzie, gave the closing keynote and her story as a blogger is moving and poignant and uplifting...all at the same time. Whereas on my blog I share ideas and inspiration with pictures, Elan is truly a talented blogging storyteller, with photography that is both artful and beautiful and compliments her writing perfectly. I loved meeting this talented blogger and her husband.

Erin Isfeld from CTV News Edmonton delivered a great session on Saturday morning on "Unleashing Your Inner Media Personality". She gave us lots of advice and tips from her experience as both a reporter and news anchor, and for me, it was a thrill to meet someone that I watch regularly on TV every day while I eat  lunch!

Sharon Vinderine  from Parent Tested/Parent Approved, gave an amazing session on 'Pitching For TV'. And do you want to hear something SUPER funny? When she began her session, I was thinking to myself that I would never pitch to TV. Never. I let thoughts of self-doubt and fear creep in and stop me from even trying. But as I began to process the things that Sharon shared with us, and the concrete strategies she gave us, something for me clicked.

Within 24 hours, I found myself with an opportunity to pitch myself to CTV News Noon{Edmonton} Anchor Erin Isfeld, and pitch away I did! The result:  I am now appearing on CTV News Noon {Edmonton} on Wednesday, March 27, where I will be sharing ideas for Easter crafts and recipes in a 4 minute segment. How cool is that? I went from thinking "NEVER", to pitching, and to guesting on CTV news at noon as a blogger sharing ideas and projects. All within 24 hours! Oh, the power of a new perspective, a little confidence and positive thinking.

The Learning:

There were so many sessions given by professionals from every field over the course of the 3 days that I could write a book on what I learned. Felicia really assembled some local top-notch experts on everything from WordPress, Google Analytics, to the fields of photography and journalism...there was something for everyone. Thank you to those excellent people for sharing their wisdom & experience with us.

For me, I especially loved learning from other bloggers attending the conference. Jody Arsenault from Mommy Moment and Kathryn Lavallee from Mommy Kat and Kids, spoke on "Monetizing Your Blog", and I could have listened to these ladies speak for hours. To me, they have so much knowledge and hands-on experience to share.They are leaders in Canada in turning this whole blogging thing into a succesful work-at-home career. I also got to hang out and share some meals with them, and I consider them to be friends. {Plus, Jody kept me up half the night talking on the last night, right Jody?}

Julie Nowell from 3 Chickens and A Boat and Christine Nielsen gave an inspirational talk on a "New Era in Blogging". I loved meeting these girls and they had lots of great tips to share. And if you need to 'gas' up your confidence and motivation in life....I highly, highly recommend booking a session with Julie. She's your girl! 15 minutes with that girl is gold!

The Fun:

Besides all the fun I had with Jody, Kathryn, Julie & Christine, and  all the other amazing women I was so lucky to meet, I got to spend the whole weekend with this girl: Laura from "I'm An Organizing Junkie".  She was my roomy and source of lots of fun coversation and laughs for 3 whole days. She and I attended BlogWest together last year too. She rocks. And we stayed up way too late talking & giggling like school kids, but that's what good friends do, right? Plus, she's my Peter Walsh of Canada.....the guru of all things organizing. I loved spending time with her!
When I arrived at my hotel room to check in for the conference, this awesome treat was waiting for me as a gift from my publishing company, She Blogs Media. I was so surprised. Then I ate. But I was a good girl and I shared too.
And how about this Face-Off platter from the Edmonton Central Social Club? It's a combination of all the appetizers they serve on one large tray....which is perfect for a group of chatty girls having  drinks. Angela ordered this for the table and it was a feast for the eyes for those of us who had last eaten 8 hours previously.
I also got to meet the two co-owners of Mom Central Canada, Kathryn Easter & Cora Brady,  at a cocktail evening they hosted. They flew to BlogWest for less than 24 hours to meet and chat with bloggers. It was so nice to meet them in person.
My 3 days at BlogWest was time well spent and the connections I made were invaluable to me as a blogger. I want to personally thank Felicia Dewar for all of her hardwork in making this conference happen and all of the amazing sponsors who so generously supported it. I am looking forward to next year already.
See you next year, right girls?!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Encourage A Mom #EncourageAMom

This post is part of's and Becel's "Encourage A Mom" program. In its role as a founding member of The Heart and Stroke Foundation's The Heart Truth™ campaign, Becel wants to empower moms and encourage them to prioritize their own health and well-being as much as they do others. I received compensation for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.

Heart health is very important to me. My family suffers from a genetic heart condition, which if left untreated, can be fatal. The onset for this condition is usually around the mid-thirties and can be very serious. I have been tested for this genetic condition at ages 20, 27 and 37 and so far...I have been lucky. However, I am very aware of the of how others in my family have been affected, and I try to make sure that I take care of my health by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, taking multi-vitamins, managing stress levels, and going to bed by 10:30 pm every night to get 8 hours of sleep. I don't smoke and I only have the occasional drink. And although these healthy habits don't predict whether I will succumb to my family's genetic condition, I am doing what I can do to prevent heart disease brought on by poor lifestyle choices.

Did you know:

  • 9 in 10 women have at least one significant risk factor for heart disease or stroke, a leading cause of death for women in Canada? Just as many women think they are healthy.
  • Too many kids lose their mothers to heart disease and stroke, a leading cause of death for women in Canada.
This is shocking news!  I know that we all know of a woman who has died too young of a stroke or heart attack and left behind children, husbands, partners and other loved ones whose lives were forever changed. But by taking the time to care for yourself through healthy lifestyle choices, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 80%.

Would you like to know some other shocking facts? According to a Becel commissioned survey:
  • 70% of Canadian mothers surveyed don't rank themselves among their top 3 priorities.
  • 60% of Canadian mothers surveyed say they don't have enough time to take care of themselves.
Darn it people! We've got it all wrong! If we don't take care of ourselves, then what's it all for? I know as moms, we are often so caught up in taking care of our families and volunteering that we have very little time for ourselves.  And often the things we put off or get pushed to the bottom of 'the list' are those things that involve taking care of ourselves. I am just as guilty as anyone! Although I try hard with healthy habits, I am very bad at taking care of my own health checkups.  But yet, if my kids are sick for more than a day....I am the first one running off to take them to the doctor 'just in case'.  I find time to run forgotten notebooks to school in the middle of the day, or to blog {haha) but when it comes to my health check-ups, I fail miserably. So I need to change things and here's what I am going to do:

I want to you to join me in some SPRING CLEANING! Spring cleaning is usually a thorough cleaning of a house to get ready for spring.  I want you to give yourself permission to do some spring cleaning for YOU! YES! I said SPRING CLEANING for YOUR HEALTH!  How can you 'spring clean' yourself? Stop neglecting yourself and put yourself first! It's totally okay!  I want you to go through this list and make sure you do the MOM'S  HEALTH SPRING CLEANING CHECKLIST!  Part of health and stroke prevention is knowing where you are at risk! Regular checkups are part of this plan. I INVITE you to join me in this by:

Mom's Health Spring Cleaning Checklist:
  • Make an appointment for a full physical. When was the last time you had one? Make an appointment to see your doctor today.
  • Plan healthy lunches for yourself. You plan healthy things for everyone else, now please do the same for you! Get in  those fruits and veggies for heart health.
  • Get exercise. Get out in the fresh spring air. If you have been neglecting exercise {guilty as charged}, now is the perfect time to add a short brisk walk to your routine.
  • Watch this amazing ENCOURAGE A MOM VIDEO. It's a short video that  will inspire you to take care of yourself! Sometimes the things that we put first are not what our kids need. The most important thing our kids need is for us to be around for years to come. So please, go watch this video and share it with a friend! You can also personalize it to send to a friend that you know needs some help & encouragement in taking care of herself AND her health.
  • Plan a date for some time for yourself. Plan a lunch with a few girlfriends, or go for a long walk or bike ride. Connecting with girlfriends is so important for mental health. If you have little ones,  trade some weekly babysitting with a girlfriend for some time for a kid-free activity.
So please, ladies, let's get this conversation going! Let's round up all of our girlfriends and encourage everyone to do some SPRING CLEANING for themselves. Get those checkups! Make healthy lunches! Get outside and get moving! I don't know about you, but I feel 44 is the new 34, and I plan to be around for a long time so I can enjoy fun family activities with my kids like this one {below} for a long time!
Becel made this amazing video to empower moms and encourage them to prioritize their own health and well-being as much as they do for others.

You can go to the Becel website to easily personalize and send this video to moms in your life to remind them to take care of themselves too!

Encourage A Mom today! #EncourageAMom

Linked to:
Bru Crew Life,

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Easy Big Batch Beef Recipe

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working with both Canadian Beef and Safeway grocery stores, where I took a tour of the meat department at my local store and learned a lot of wonderful things about Canadian beef. One of the things I was able to come away with was this FANTASTIC recipe for BIG BATCH BEEF. This is a recipe that I think every family should have and let me tell you why.

As a mom of a busy family, just like you, I know how rushed it can be to get dinner on the table sometimes. I like quick and delicious meals for my family, as well as dishes that don't take a lot of time or steps to prepare. I think this recipe is brilliant because the basic concept is this: you cook a big batch of beef once a month, divide the beef into bags for the freezer, and then you have a 'meal starter' for at least 7 different healthy meal options for your family. How easy is that? I would even suggest cooking as much beef as you can for the freezer to last a month or two. {I cooked and froze over 8 pounds of beef for the freezer at our house.}  And to make that grocery budget rock, I would watch the grocery flyers for a ground beef sale to capture savings in money, as well as time!

4 pounds {2 kg} Ground Beef
4 Each onions and cloves of garlic, minced {or if you don't have time for all that chopping, add in 1 envelope of onion soup mix}.

1. Cook ground beef in large, deep skillet or Dutch oven using medium high heat for 9 to 10 minutes, breaking large chunks into small chunks with back of spoon, until browned and completely cooked. Drain in colander. Return to pot and add onion and garlic and simmer until onion and garlic are softened. {Skip cooking onion & garlic if adding onion soup mix.}

2.Spread mixture in a single layer on foil lined baking trays. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until meat is firm. {About 1 hour.}

3. Loosen frozen beef into small chunks. Scoop meal-sized portions into freezer bags or sealable containers.{I used medium size Ziploc bags. They hold 2-3 cups each.} Freeze for up to 3 months.

Please remember: Cook all ground beef thoroughly to an internal temperature of 160 F or 71 C. Test temperatures with digital instant read thermometer.

Never eat ground beef rare.

Now you have the base for  at least 7 meals that are easy to prepare, kid-friendly, and delicious. I will be sharing more recipes in upcoming posts, but to get this little BIG BATCH BEEF Party started, here are the first 2 recipes for family-friendly food made with BIG BATCH BEEF from the freezer.
I hope you enjoy these recipes using BIG BATCH BEEF! It really is a great time-saver for any busy family!

Looking for other easy meals? Check out these boards on Pinterest:

This post is linked to these parties:
Bru Crew Life, Home Stories A to Z, Lolly Jane, Cozy Little House, Not Just A Housewife, Lil Luna, Under The Table & Dreaming,

Friday, 15 March 2013

Buttermilk Waffles with Sweet Orange Sauce

There is no better smell  than the smell of homemade waffles steaming in a waffle maker. It tells the whole house that something good is coming. We have homemade waffles often at our least once a week. My kids love homemade waffles and are happy to eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. My daughter has been crazy over  the wonderful citrus at the market lately...eating tons of Cara Cara oranges and Ruby Red grapefruit, so I wanted to incorporate some of those flavours into some waffles just for her. She has been working hard in school lately with late night study sessions and papers due, so I wanted to do something special for her. I came up with a sweet sauce...kissed with the flavour of citrus...and paired it with easy buttermilk waffles.  If you have never made homemade waffles before, let me assure you that they are easy to make and if you have made a cake or muffins, you can easily make waffles....all you need is a waffle maker and some basic ingredients. And please..don't let the bit-tad-long ingredient list scare you!

Buttermilk Waffles
{makes 8 waffles}

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk {regular milk will also work}
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
orange zest {optional}
Orange sections for garnish
Citrus sauce {see below}

1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, eggs and orange zest.
3. Add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture. Stir gently until batter is just combined. There will still be some lumps.
4. Plug in wafflemaker while the batter rests for a minute. When the waffle iron is ready, add a half cup of batter to the centre of the waffle maker. Remove when waffle is cooked...2-3 minutes.

Citrus Sauce

2 cups orange juice, fresh squeezed or carton
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

1. Add orange juice, sugar, zest and salt to a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil.
2. Mix cornstarch with cold water in a container. Shake vigourosly and pour into orange juice.
3. Let orange juice return to a boil while whisking.
4. When orange juice has thickened slighty, remove from heat and let cool.
5. Serve warm over waffles, with orange sections if desired.

The lovely folks at Canadian Tire  recently sent me a Cuisinart Waffle Maker, a product that can be found in the Canadian Tire Destination Home Guide,  to try and I had such a blast making these Buttermilk waffles with it.  I found it  was  a dream to use and any busy homemaker would love its features. Once plugged in, a small red indicator light will show during the pre-heat stage, and when the waffle maker is ready for batter, the light will turn green. While the waffle is cooking, the light will be red, and when the waffle is comletely cooked, the indicator light will turn to green again.  I was able to wash some dishes in the sink while the waffles were cooking because I could easily keep an eye on the light while waiting for it to turn green. The red/green light system takes the guess work out of when the waffles are ready, and is perfect  if you are new to the whole business of waffle making. I also had my 12 year old son help me with the waffles while I worked on some laundry. I told him that when the light turned green, he could take the waffle out and put some more batter in. Easy peasy.
Another wonderful thing about the Cuisinart Waffle Maker is that it has a small lever that can be adjusted {like a toaters} so you can choose how brown you would like your waffle to be. This is an awesome feature because my kids like their waffles golden brown, while my husband likes his waffles to be a bit darker and crunchy. The lever allows me to give my family the waffle that they want!
 And if you are worried about how hard a waffle maker is to clean, let me share with you that this waffle maker is a breeze to clean. This is what it looked like after I made 8 waffles and you can see that I only need to wipe it out and put it away. It's also small, and doesn't take up a ton of room for storage.
 My daughter loved the citrus-kissed waffles I made for her. In fact, everyone liked them and there were no leftovers. The only bad part? I couldn't get anyone to agree to have their picture taken while eating their waffles because the time change this week has everyone extra tired! But that's okay because the real reward for me was in making my family one of their favourites and having them gobble it up in no time! As they say...the proof is in the pudding...or, er...waffles in this case.

If you have never made waffles before, I really encourage you to try. It may seem like a lot of work at first...but it really is not. And after a few times, waffle-making will become  just like a super cool trick you can do in your kitchen!

Wishing you a wonderful spring break!

{This post was generously sponsored by Canadian Tire, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit the Canadian Tire Destination Home Guide.}

This post is linked to:
Home Stories A to Z, Lolly Jane, Cozy Little House, Not Just A Housewife, Rae Gun Ramblings,
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