October 10, 2017

DIY toddler shark costume

Hallowe'en is around the corner and I thought I'd share some inspiration for a toddler costume!  I always liked Hallowe'en as a holiday, but now I like it even better after having kids. It's so fun to have them dress up and see them having fun with the whole thing!  Last year, my daughter was really into sharks so I made her a shark costume.  It is pretty easy to do, all you need is:

  • a grey hoodie
  • grey pants
  • black felt
  • grey felt
  • white felt
  • a small amount of stuffing
  • sewing supplies and ideally a sewing machine

While you need a sewing machine for this project, I have to say that my sewing skills are super-basic (I can sew to straight pieces of fabric together, yay!) and I could do this, so don't be intimidated if your sewing skills aren't super advanced.

 There are three things you need to sew on the hoodie and that's it.

1) Cut out enough white felt into little a strip of "v" shaped teeth.  My felt was 8x10, so I cut out two strips.  Then sew the strip(s) onto the inside of the hood.

2) Cut out two white felt circles and two smaller black felt circles, and sew them on to either side of the hood.  These are the eyes.  The white circle gets sewed on first and then the black circle is sewed on top of that for the iris.

3) Cut out two fin shaped pieces of grey felt.  Sew the two outer sides together and turn the fin inside out then stuff it with stuffing so that it gives the fin a little bit of dimension.  Finally, sew the third side onto the hoodie.

And you're all set! Pair it with a pair of grey or black pants if you like to finish off the look. All in all, this took me about an hour to do, and again, I'm no wiz at the sewing machine.

Happy Hallowe'en!

February 14, 2017

persian-style salad olivier

Salad Olivier.  I grew up on this.  It brings back memories of comfort, home, and more comfort.  When I pronounce the name of this dish, I say it with a Persian accent  (Saalaad Oh-live-ee-eh) not because I'm trying to be silly but because I truly mean it that way - it's the only way I know to how to pronounce it.  Funny enough though I recently researched Salad Olivier online and discovered that it's not a strictly Persian dish, it's actually found it Russian and Middle Eastern cuisine as well, so it's kind of an international salad which is cool.

I like the combination of the mayo, chicken, potatoes and the pickles because it's a nice balance of sweet and sour/savoury.  Also the pickles add a nice crunch.  Side note: Mr A doesn't like this salad specifically because of the pickles.  I can't imagine this salad without the pickles.  So there you have it.  I guess you could leave them out if you don't like pickles.  Also, this dish is really easy to make with ingredients that one usual has on hand like eggs and mayo, and it's a great way to use left over roast chicken.

Here's the recipe!

Salad Olivier

Ingredients & Directions:

Mix together the following ingredients in a large bowl:
3 cooking potatoes, boiled and cooked and chopped into 1/2" inch cubes
1/4 - 1/2 of a leftover roast chicken cut into 1/2" inch cubes
4-5 pickles, cut up into 1/4 inch cubes
3 hard boiled eggs, cut up into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Enjoy on warm flat bread, in a lettuce wrap, or just on it's own. :)



October 30, 2016

pear upside-down cake

I love apples, but replacing the common fruit with pears (which I also love) can somehow make a  cake or pie into something even more special.  If you're feeling super fancy you can try this recipe from Martha Stewart.  It's not too tough overall, except for the batter for the cake which was a bit fussy, but worth it if you want to make a special dessert with a bit of a wow factor.

Here's the recipe!

Pear Upside-Down Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 ripe pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou, peeled and cored

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup whole milk

1. Make the topping: Melt butter in the bottom of a 10 1/2-inch cast-iron skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar, stirring until dissolved. Swirl to coat the bottom; remove from heat, and cool. Cut pears into 1/4-inch-thick wedges, and arrange them in a circular pattern over the brown-sugar mixture to cover completely; set aside.

2. Make the batter: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract; beat to combine. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating to combine.

4. Alternating with the milk, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix, on low speed, just until the flour is incorporated.

5. In a large bowl, beat reserved egg whites with a whisk until it forms stiff peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold egg whites into the batter. Transfer to skillet. Using an offset spatula, spread the batter evenly, being careful not to disturb the pears.

6. Bake until well browned on top and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan, and immediately invert the cake onto a serving dish. Serve warm or at room temperature.



July 17, 2016

vanilla birthday cake with vanilla buttercream frosting

My daughter turned one six months ago.  That's how long it's taken for me to get this post up.  In my defence, it's been a busy six months.  I went back to work after a year on mat leave, my daughter started daycare and it's just be go, go, go.  And it's been wonderful.  I'm just amazed at how she's growing up and becoming a little person.  I haven't wanted to miss a moment of it.  But I also want to keep blogging, so here's my attempt to get back on the blog wagon.

We had a little one-year old birthday party for her at home and I decided to make the cake.  It was fun as baking always is.  I did have alot of help from my husband and mother in law who took care of baby while I baked.  The inspiration came from a Pinterest photo with the decoration you see in my photo above, but the recipe was from Martha Stewart and another blog. It was a really great cake, so I wanted to share it with you. :)

Here's the recipe!

Vanilla Birthday Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

for the cake:
adapted from Martha Stewart

I doubled Martha's recipe to have a larger cake in order to have enough for the number of guests we had (25).

2 stick2 unsalted butter, softened, plus more for cake pans and parchment
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment as well. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 33 to 35 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.

Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup frosting on top. Place remaining cake layer on top. Spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, swirling to coat in a decorative fashion. (If frosting becomes too soft, refrigerate to firm up.) Cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated overnight. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

for the frosting:
adapted from Add a Pinch

2 cup butter (4 sticks), softened
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4 teaspoons vanilla
pinch salt
4-6 tablespoons milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half

Place softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on a medium setting and cream the butter until it is smooth and has lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
Add confectioner's sugar, ½ a cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and combine until well-incorporated.
Add milk, heavy cream or half-and-half until the frosting has reached the preferred consistency. For a firmer frosting, add more confectioner's sugar, a ¼ cup at a time. For a softer frosting, add more milk or cream, a tablespoon at a time.



January 21, 2016

slow cooker butter chicken

More slow-cooker creations!  This time it's Mr. A's delicious butter chicken.  In my opinion, this butter chicken beats the restaurant version.  I'm usually not a big fan of restaurant butter chicken because I find it a bit bland, but not this slow-cooker version - it's really flavourful!

Here's the recipe:

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
adapted CBC's Best Recipes Ever

2 onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
2 tbsp (30 mL) grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp (30 mL) packed brown sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder
3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground coriander
3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground turmeric
1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper
1 28 oz can (796 mL can) diced tomatoes
1 cup (250 mL) sodium-reduced chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/4 cup (60 mL) cashew butter
3 lb (1.4 kg) boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast
1 cup (250 mL) Balkan yoghurt
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:In slow cooker, combine everything except the chicken, sour cream and cilantro.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  At the 4 hour mark, using an immersion blender, purée the sauce until smooth then add chicken; cook, covered, for the rest of the time (4 more hours).
At this point, after 8 hours, the chicken will be quite soft, so you can pull it apart into smaller pieces with a fork very easily.Stir in sour cream. Serve sprinkled with cilantro, on rice or with naan.