Easy Greens and Chicken

We went to Costco earlier this week, and I bought a bag of spinach.  To be honest I didn’t have any idea what I was going to make with it, I just knew I wanted to use it.  So I hit the search button once again — this time chicken and spinach.  What I found was Garlic Parmesan Chicken.

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With my giant bag of spinach, and fresh chicken, I was ready to go.  In frying pan melt the butter and sauté the garlic.   After a few minutes, when the kitchen smells with the aroma of garlic, add in the diced chicken. Cook until browned.

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Sprinkle cheese on top, and stir until coated.  I noticed that there was still a lot of liquid in the pan, but I left it to (hopefully) simmer off. Finally I added in the spinach.

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Now I had a special helper in the kitchen while I made this.  My husband helped me for the last step as my little one was fussing.  Stir the spinach as it wilts, making sure to coat with cheese and mix around the chicken.

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It was here that I noticed, and my husband commented, that the liquid accumulation was actually worsening.  If I made this again, I would probably drain some of the liquid before adding the spinach, as spinach tends to make its own.

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Overall, a super easy meal that tastes good over pasta (or rice).  The chicken and spinach had great flavour in contrast to the noodles. Topped with a little more parmesan!

Love is in the Air

Valentines Day is coming! Although we don’t celebrate it in our house, as it is viewed as strictly a Hallmark-money grab kind of holiday, I thought I would make some love/heart based crafts anyway.  The craft I did this week is loosely based on this Button Heart On Canvas.

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Most of these things came from the dollar store (not the glue gun of course), but I had a hard time finding felt.  Every time I went they were sold out – so while I was at Walmart one day I discovered a package of 5 different colours of adhesive on one side felt.  This was a bonus as it 1) saved time on mounting felt to board, and 2) gave me felt for other crafts  (all for $4)

I liked the idea of making a heart out of buttons, but I didn’t really want to do the work of painting black and white lines on my canvas.  I did however have to do one coat of white paint to ‘seal’ the canvas and make it easier to work on.  This took time to dry.

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I opted to change it up a bit by x-naying stripes for a more basic background (white) and a saying of my own. Now I did slightly cheat — as I drew lines with a ruler and wrote the words with pencil first before hand painting them on.  I figured I wasn’t going to get a whole lot of chances with painting the words — so try to get them as close to perfect the first time as possible.  I later erased the pencil that was still visible, and no one would have been the wiser (if I didn’t otherwise confess it here).

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And of course don’t forget to add the felt heart!

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Now was the time consuming part — hot gluing the buttons.  I will admit — I burnt my fingers on the glue several times while trying to place them just right.  I admit to being a little amateur with the hot glue gun (even after several crafts).  Start with a base of buttons, trying to cover as close to the outside as possible before filling in.  This is where I burnt myself a lot — trying to push buttons into place before the glue dried!

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Once I had my base — I was able to layer up my heart to make it more 3-D and awesome.  I  just kept layering until I couldn’t see anymore red felt below.

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Now all that is left is to frame it, which I still have to do weeks later, but in time!

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Voila!  You will always have my ❤ art!

Blueberries & Oatmeal Make a Mean Muffin

I had some blueberries leftover in the fridge that I desperately wanted to use before they went bad, so I searched a healthy sweets recipe on Pinterest.  After pinning about 4 different blueberry recipes, I settled on making Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins as I figured they were kind of breakfast-y.

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Now I’m not going to lie, the other reason I chose this recipe was its simplicity and the other ingredients.  I knew I had everything else I needed in the house, including the buttermilk which was leftover from recipes of last week.

Step one, mix oatmeal and buttermilk together and set aside.  I can only assume this adds to the fluffiness of the muffins later – but pretty easy step!

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Next as with almost all baking recipes, mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Then, in separate bowl, mix egg and sugar, then add milk/oat mixture. Top off with mixing in your melted coconut oil and finally add the dry to wet.

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Pour in the blueberries and fold until evenly distributed.  I used a 1/4C measure to easily scoop my batter into the muffin tray, and I came out with exactly 12 even muffins (this doesn’t happen very often!!!).  Throw them in the oven and in 20 mins I pulled them out to be baked to perfection.

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Golden brown on the tops, and yet moist throughout.  I found these had the perfect amount of blueberries, pretty much one (or more) in every bite!  They didn’t last long as my husband took them for breakfast, and I ate a few too 😉

Row Row Row Your (Zucchini) Boat

As soon as I came across this recipe, I knew I HAD to make it. I have made zucchini boats, as I like to call them, in the past.  Although they are tedious — they almost always turn out amazing. Here is my newest take on zucchini boats in Quinoa & Black Bean Stuffed Zucchini. 

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The hardest part of this recipe is to carve out the insides of the zucchini but how else do you make a boat??  Step 1 — cut in half length-wise.  Step 2 — scrape out insides and save to be cut up for stuffing.

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Once they are all carved out nicely, leaving as even an edge as you can, brush with olive oil and broil.  Broil (on low) for 8-10 mins, until the edges are browning.  I had to flip the pan to make sure they browned evenly.  This step was key as it baked the boats, making them soft enough to be stuffed.

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While my boats were browning, I cut up the insides and sauteed in a pan with olive oil.

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Next I added in the corn, green pepper, beans and onion, letting it cook for a few minutes.  Then I added the spices, quinoa and stock.  Cover and let simmer for 10-15 mins until the quinoa is cooked.

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Finally I added in the tomato and cilantro, and topped with some cheese before giving it one last stir.

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Now its time to stuff and bake our boats.  I recommend using a small scoop or spoon to fill the boats.  Sprinkle on some last minute cheese and pop back under the broiler until the cheese has melted.

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These were deliciously moist, and satisfying, although we thought about adding maybe a few more Mexican flavours.  I also had a large amount of the filling left which was great to eat with some tortilla chips.

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PF Chang in the House-ish

I was debating about what to make this week, and while walking through the grocery store, I thought about what I had pinned recently.  I remembered a Chicken Lettuce Wrap recipe and so I hunted for all the things I needed.  Here is PF Chang style Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

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The hardest thing to find (and to be honest I didn’t actually find it), was the butter lettuce. I bought boston lettuce, but that was definitely NOT the right kind, so I ended up sending Jay to the store for Romaine (a fair substitute).  Once again we start with ground chicken, browning it in oil, and draining the extra liquids.

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Once browned, I added in the onions, garlic, hoisin and soya sauce, rice wine vinegar and ginger.

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Finally add in chestnuts and green onions.  I stirred it all together, and let it simmer for a few minutes.

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I used the utterly small boston lettuce leaves and left the romaine lettuce for my hubby and sister-in-law to enjoy.

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I must say — I may not have a giant restaurant, or kitchen to cook in, but this turned out to be absolutely delicious!!!  It was easy enough that I would definitely make it again.

Dog Treats — gone wrong.

So I wanted to make some new healthy treats for the pups again .. and this one seemed overly simple, so why not.  Here is my attempt at Sweet Potato Dog Treats.

I had to run out to grab sweet potato baby food — as I haven’t been making mine yet, but the rest of the things were in our pantry.

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My problem with this pin has nothing to do with the pin itself .. but my lack of mind when I was making them.  I had a million things on my mind this day — and I managed to completely screw up the recipe.  So although I completely massacred this recipe — here is what it turned out like.

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So here is where I messed up — yep on the 1st step.  I mixed EVERYTHING together when I wasn’t supposed to, which caused my many problems throughout the rest of this pin. So if you want to do it right  — you would put everything BUT the egg in a bowl and mix together.

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I found that the dough was really really sticky .. I kept adding in more flour to make it less sticky, but it never seemed to work.  Flour a surface, knead the dough and then roll it out.  Check it out — I bought myself a REAL rolling pin!!!

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Due to the stickiness — I had to flour the rolling pin (repeatedly) and adding flour to my working surface.  Even as I was cutting with cookie cutters I had a difficult time pulling them up.  I would also recommend for this recipe to find a smaller cookie cutter!

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I used my dog bone cutter and then placed them on a pre-lined cookie sheet.

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This is where I realized that I had messed up my pin.  The next step would have been to paint an egg glaze over the biscuits.  Finally bake them for 25-30 mins.  As my treats were really thin, I baked them for 20 mins .. until the edges were browned.

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Even though I didn’t make them according to the recipe .. the dogs still LOVED them and within the week they were gone.  I might revisit this recipe, maybe with my homemade baby food, and actually follow accordingly.

Bananas and Blueberries by the Loaf :)

So I actually started back to my challenge of a pin a day, but like before I have been pressed for time.  This means that although I actually do the pin, I can’t post about it right away.  I’m not exactly sure how I can get these things posted earlier, so I hope that you can bare with me as I get them up when I can.

Without further ado — Here is my first post-holiday pin.  Sticking with the theme of Monday being Sweets & Treats day, this week I looked around to see what I had to use up.  The Superstore had blueberries on sale earlier in the week, which I had picked up, not to mention the bananas that desperately needed to be used up. I did a search on pinterest and found these delights — Buttermilk, Banana, Blueberry Bread.

After some special shopping — mainly for buttermilk (something I never use), I started my baking!

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I normally don’t choose to make loaves, as typically we don’t eat them before they go bad, but I wanted to stay true to the recipe.  Once again — the recipe uses a stand mixer, which if you have read any of my posts I don’t own.

Step 1 – mix all dry ingredients together.  Step 2 – cream sugar with butter.  For this step, I used an old-fashioned mixing tool — that most people probably wouldn’t know existed (jokes).

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Creaming the butter would have worked better if it was soft, so for next time I would probably melt it a little in the microwave.   Next mix in eggs, buttermilk and vanilla (which I actually didn’t have so I skipped).   Although I skipped the vanilla step, I didn’t really notice that much of a difference – as in I didn’t miss the flavour.  Once mixed together, add banana.  As I was hand mixing this vs with a stand mixer — next time I would probably mash the banana before mixing it in.

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Gradually add in the flour mixture until it is well combined, and finally fold in blueberries.  I used a full pint vs whatever the recipe said, as we LOVE blueberries in this house.

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I easily split the mixture between 2 loaf pans, and baked for about 40 mins.  The recipe called for a bake time of 30-35 mins, but my toothpicks just kept coming out with batter.  This will vary by oven, but I found that even after 40 mins they still could have used about 5 or so more mins.

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As I used tin foil pans, I was easily able to pop the loaves out, and cool on rack.  I would recommend leaving them in the pan though until cooled, as my loaves kinda sagged (could have been due to not being 100% cooked though).

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All in all they turned out deliciously moist, and wonderful.  I think I taste-tested 3 pieces the first day — hee hee oops.