Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Breakfast for Supper: Birds' Nests

 We are officially halfway through the week! As you know, Canada day is Friday and I'm very much looking forward to the (hopefully sunny) long weekend. I'm planning on celebrating with some friends including none other than my dearest friend, Disaronno. What are your plans?

Before I get to today's post, you may have noticed the change in background. I'm going to be playing around with some new templates and adding a super pretty header in the next couple of weeks. Also, I'd love to get some feedback on my blog whether it's content, design, suggestions for posts or anything else. Feel free to shoot me an email at sugar_plum_cutie@hotmail.com with your comments and suggestions. Go ahead and laugh at the email, it was grade 7 and my family nickname was sugarplum...


So today's recipe is my first Breakfast for Supper feature (see my other breakfast posts here & here). Here's what you need to make super-delicious & filling Birds' Nests:

Serves 2 hungry people
2 cups of hasbrown potatoes (frozen or cut up potatoes)
4 eggs
1 very small onion, diced
Real crumbled bacon bits
1/2 tsp of basil 
1 tbsp olive oil
pepper to taste
grated mozzarella
maple syrup

To make:

Heat your oil in a large pan & throw in the hashbrowns. Add basil & pepper. Cook until soft, add onion & fry until browned. Add bacon bits and fry just to intensify flavor (1 or 2 mins).

Meanwhile fry up the eggs one at a time in a small pan.
Serve by arranging hashbrown/bacon bit mixture in a circle on large plates. Add 2 eggs to each plate and top with grated mozzarella. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve hot. You can also forgo the syrup for ketchup if that's more your style!

In my books, anything with bacon is always amazing, but add a little bit of sweetness and it takes it to a whole other level. Val, you know what I'm talking about!
The cheese grater was dirty & I was hungry, so cut up mozza it is!
Apparently, I cook with sunglasses on my head.

Come visit me and I'll make you one. Any takers?

xo Janelle

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Casa Fridays: Accidental DIY

Let's talk about nightstands for a minute, k? Love them. I need something by my bed to put all my crap on. A very nice lady donated mine so we wouldn't have to buy one (Thanks MaryLou!). Back to nightstands... It's really easy for things to pile up on top of them, like books, a kleenex box, a lamp, a cup of water, last night's earrings etc. etc. And when things pile up, all it takes is one flailing arm to soak your sheets with that cup of water. Used to do that all. the. time.

My recent "problem" was that my picture frame kept toppling over. I would reach for a Kleenex.... smack. Set my glasses down... smack. So eventually, in my annoyance, I just stopped propping it up and this turned into my accidental DIY (do-it-yourself project). I guess I can't really call it a project because I didn't do anything. Anyway, it turns out that the frame I have makes a perfect little tray for my nightstand.

It usually makes a cozy home for my water & my cell phone. Have a looksie:

Minus the cell

Showing off my YFM mug.
On the back is a moustache so that when you drink it looks like you have one...

It makes a nice jewelery holder too.

This would look nice with most frames, I bet. I wouldn't use a frame with a wide border, it wouldn't really look like a tray. Either of these would work though:

From Sears
From Ikea
Another key to making this work is making sure that the flap on the back that holds the frame up either lies flat or can be removed. Otherwise you'd have a wobbly tray and no one likes a wobbly tray, am I right? If you have any frames lying around and your nightstand could use a little love, give it a try!

What I'd like to do someday is get a bigger frame and attach it to the top of the nightstand. This would not only cover any wear and tear on the top of the nightstand (see my photos above) but it would create a smooth surface that's a cinch to dust. And as you may already know, I'm not huge on dusting... or cleaning... or dishes. But instead I focus all of my domestic energy on cooking, baking, laundry and crafts. Much more fun, don't you think?

xo Janelle

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Chocolate Chip Scones + Oil Substitution Tip

A lot of people go to church on Sunday. I, on the other hand, bake on Sunday. The lazy feel of this particular day of the week never fails to get me in the mood... to bake! I usually don't have anything planned (besides tutoring, previously), which means that I can take my time and I won't feel rushed. This past Sunday the urge to bake hit a little later in the evening around 9:30 and D said he wanted to help. And, he suggested that we watch HGTV while the scones were baking. Did I mention yet that I love this guy?

So we looked up a few recipes and chose this simple one from Edible Ventures. I had some extra almond flour I wanted to use up, so this recipe was an easy choice. I followed the recipe and but substituted a little less than 1/4c of pure maple syrup in place of the agave nectar and 1/3c unsweetened applesauce for the canola oil. Oh, and I only got 11 scones, not 16, but I like my scones big.

*Did you know that you can sub unsweetened applesauce for oil in almost any cookie, cake, square or dessert recipe? Not only does it dramatically cut the fat, but it also gives the dessert a moist (hate that word) texture.

all ready to go.

adding the wet to the dry.

finished product.

These turned out very well. I find they taste like a chocolate chip pancake, especially with the substitution of the maple syrup. Even though they look just like chocolate chip cookies, they're actually much softer and more cake-like. I also made a few plain ones by forming a few balls before I added the chocolate chips and they were delicious as well. Next time I think I'll add the full 1/4c of maple syrup, but I didn't want to overdo the sweetness this time. These little babies are actually surprisingly healthy, given the applesauce, almond flour and eggs. Which is a good thing if you have a problem with portions, like me. Haha. I may do these with butterscotch chips if/when I buy almond flour again... Only the 14$ price tag is standing between me and another batch.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think of the recipe. Did you know about the applesauce/oil trick? Do you have any other helpful substitutions? I'll be sharing another one in a couple weeks.

xo Janelle

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekend Recap

Hi! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.

I had a pretty great one! Friday night I just watched a movie and then Saturday was my last shift at NovaScotian Crystal. That was a little bittersweet for me. I'm thankful that I'll now only be working one job. It means I'll get to come home for lunch everyday and take Abby out and I'll have every weekend off for the rest of the summer. It really doesn't get much better than that! I must say though that I'm really going to miss working with the people there. All the craftsmen, the ladies upstairs, Rod, the warehouse gang, Lisa & the showroom ladies really made working there a good time. But the good thing is that I'm only a short walk away. I'm still going to be able to see the majority of the people when I'm out and about on the waterfront and I'm thankful for that.

On Sunday when I went to tutoring I found out it was our last session together. I knew that the family was moving to Toronto in July, but I didn't know when. It turns out that Sunday was our last session because she'll need next week to pack up. I'm really going to miss their sweet family.

So, although two things came to an end this weekend, I was reminded of people's generosity and kindness. I'm so happy that I was able to meet these people.

Thanks for reading. Tomorrow I'll have a recipe for chocolate chip scones so check back in the evening if you're curious.... 

via Katie's blog

xo Janelle

Friday, June 17, 2011

Casa Fridays: Simple Clothesline Art

Happy weekend! Today I want to keep with the theme of bedrooms and share a quick art idea. I would love to have beautiful art hanging above my bed, but I don't. I stared at the blank wall above it for months before deciding to do something anything to make it look a little less empty.

Well hello there!
So while I wait for the right piece of art to come along, or the inspiration hits to make my own art, I've set up a little art clothesline. This is not by any means an original idea. I've seen other clotheslines all over the internet, but I thought I'd share because it's such an easy project that you can adapt to suit different rooms and styles. Here's what mine looks like at the moment:

It only takes about 2 minutes to set up. All you need is a piece of ribbon or cotton twine, a handful of clothespins and a couple of push pins. To start, push a pin into the wall where you would like one end to be. Tie a bit of twine around the pin and pull the string over to where you want the opposite end to be. Push the other pin in and tie the string around it. Cut the end and you're done. 

The fun part is choosing what to hang on it. I cut out a couple of pictures from 7 Mondays (Mount A's photo/poetry journal) and put a greeting card from Nanase in the middle. It looks a little empty in the photo, but I'm looking to switch it up in the next week or so. I'll update you when I do! Another great part about this project is that it's so easy to switch up. You can hang objects, shapes or art prints. You can use colored clothespins or plain ones.

Here are a few cute clothesline ideas:

From Danielle Thompson's blog.
From Apartment Therapy's gallery
Wouldn't it be nice to have an inspiration clothesline above a work desk? I can sure use a little pick-me-up to keep me motivated...

From Dollar Store Cratfts
I think this would look cute in a baby's room. And this next one would be perfect for a kid's room too because you could switch out the flash cards with homemade art.

From YoungHouseLove
And, what a perfect way to display Christmas or Birthday cards. You wouldn't even need clothespins because you could just fold the cards over the string. I even made one of these for my co-workers birthday and just made 3 small signs saying 'Happy', 'Birthday' & 'Abby'. It was simple, but still looked a lot better than a paper sign sticky tacked to the wall. So, if you've got a spare wall that's in need of some art but you don't want to make nail holes or bother to pick out the perfect art piece, you should try clothesline art.

Have a great weekend,

xo Janelle

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Moroccan-Style Bedroom

Just a short post today for some decor inspiration.

We all spend a lot of time in our bedrooms. I know that some other people like their bedrooms to be bright and energizing for the morning, but I prefer a warm, cozy and comfortable room. I really like reading in bed at night and like my room to help me wind down at the end of the day. If you're like me, you probably have a lamp that gives off soft light on your nightstand. Candles can also make a room feel super-cozy, as can some draped fabric.

I created this mock-up bedroom on Olioboard, a great site where you can design rooms & see how certain colors & fabrics look together. 

I'm kind of a sucker for canopy beds, with or without an actual canopy, so as soon as I saw the bed I decided to create a room to put it in. I added dark floors, saturated wall colors, a printed rug and some lanterns and candles for mood. I think white bedding would really pop against the dark walls, but some throw cushions could tie it all in together.

The room would also look nice with a low platform bed like this one:

Very casual low platform bed from West Elm.

I hope you liked one of my dream bedroom designs! If you could have any style bedroom what would you choose? Tell me!

xo Janelle

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Mini Smacaroons (Mini-Smacks)

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Today I want to share a recipe I tried a little while ago as part of my sugar-free challenge. I made Smacaroons from Spoonful of Sugar Free. *Click the link for the recipe! To make them mini, just make smaller balls. Here are a few pics from my Mini-Smacaroon making:

See the mess I make when baking?

Yummy dough

Before baking

Sorry I don't have any after pics!

These were good, but I have a few recommendations for you. Definitely take Alex's advice at the end of the recipe & broil them for the last minute or two. It gives the macaroons a satisfying crunch. Second, I would suggest NOT using unsweetened chocolate. Everyone I gave them to thought that the taste was overwhelmed by the unsweetened chocolate. Unless you're on a sugar-free diet and are used to it, it tastes very bitter. I would suggest using 70% dark, semi-sweet or even peanut butter chips! Yummm.

I plan on making them again without the chocolate but maybe adding some cocoa powder and stirring in some peanut butter. Think about all the variations you could make for these with raisins & nuts. It's really a great base recipe to experiment with and make your own flavors. Best of all though, it uses very few ingredients.

Also, don't be intimidated by making chia gel using chia seeds and water. Literally all you have to do is put the seeds in a little bowl, add the water and wait for it to bulk up. Yes, it's a little strange, but they add bulk to the macaroons with the bonus of getting Omega-3s and all that good stuff whatever it does? Haha. This is the end of my sugar-free adventure on my blog, back to business as usual! I will be back to eating reduced-sugar, but I won't be sharing the details with you. That said, this blog is for delicious recipes so if I find some that are sugar-free I will be sure to share them with you.

I will be posting tomorrow, so check back if you get a minute.

xo Janelle

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Casa Fridays: Duvet Covers

I hope you all had a great day today! I had a special day today but now I'm lying in bed with no pants on (shhh- I have a long top!) and I'm just about ready to catch some sleep. But I figured since I was cuddled up--alone--I would do a quick post on bedding.

One of my favorite things about moving to a new place, or upgrading to a bigger bed size is buying a new duvet cover. Yes, I had a twin bed up until I moved to Halifax 9 months ago... fine for one person, dangerous for two.

When I "inherited" a double bed in this apartment my parents decided to buy me a simple brown duvet cover they found for quite a steal ($20). It's a good, solid color and it held up fairly well until I noticed some fading on one side from the sun. So, I flipped it. And now it's probably fading this side.... The point is that eventually I will have to buy a new one and I've been thinking about what color/style to go with. 

Want to see some of my favorites?

I love the subtle grey tones in this organic cotton one by Amenity.

Aren't the cheery yellow tones in this one from Pottery Barn energizing? I think it would look beautiful in a room that gets a lot of sun in the morning.

If I had my own room I'd go for this luxurious, soft, feminine duvet cover in my favorite color from Anthropologie. The more I look at it though, those knobs are starting to look like the buns on Sumo wrestlers' heads. 
No? Oh my. What is wrong with me?

Although some people find white bedding too stuffy or "hospital-like", I disagree. Because white linens remind me of spas and hotels, I find white bedding to be very relaxing and inviting. To keep the cover from looking boring, I look for some sort of visual interest whether it's a ruffle on the hem, a waffle-weave texture (for a casual, cabin vibe) or a light strip like the Bed Bath & Beyond one in the pic.

You're going to think I'm completely obsessed with bedding after this next confession, but I'll tell you anyway. The bedding from the set of PS I Love You is awesome. It's a brown duvet cover with an almost-celtic design in white or vice versa. It's very cute, you should look for it the next time you're watching it.

As you can tell from my pics, I like a little bit of everything, but I'm not crazy on a ton of print and color on the same blanket.  

What are your favorite bedding styles? Bright colors or darks? Prints or solids? 


xo Janelle

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sugar-Free Challenge: Breakfast Update!

Good morning!

As you may have read, I'm doing a 10-day sugar-free challenge. By far the biggest challenge has been sauces, but with breakfast being a close second. I wanted to share a super-easy idea for dressing up your oatmeal. This is what I've had the past 2 mornings for brekkie: quick oats (prepared in the microwave) topped with cinnamon, a sliced banana, a handful of raisins, cashews and unsweetened almond milk. It's creamy, rich, sweet, crunchy and comforting. I also want to try some PB swirled in there. Maybe tomorrow.

xo Janelle

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Graham Brittle (aka "The Recipe")

*Edited to include ingredient amounts. (Thanks Crystal!)

Hello everyone,

I'm going to wait until next Tuesday to post my smacaroons recipe from Spoonful of Sugar-Free. I'm waiting for some more feedback. This left me wondering which recipe I should write about today until I settled on posting the easiest dessert/treat recipe that everyone asks me for. I have brought it to work, potlucks, birthdays, you name it and the response is usually "Who made this?" followed by "I need the recipe!".

So before you go on thinking that I'm full of myself, let me tell you this, it's deliciously easy. Seriously. You can make it. A 10 year old can make it. (Even those who think toasting Pop Tarts is cooking.) It takes 15 minutes to make. But a word of caution (as with the Oreo Truffles recipe) you probably want to make a plan to give some of this away. Otherwise you may be picking away at it only to realize that half of the entire baking sheet is gone. Whoops. You were warned.
15 Minute Graham Brittle
(for reviews click here)
*serves about 15-20 people large pieces.

Preheat the oven to 350. Place graham crackers in a single layer to fill a baking sheet. Line them up so that they're touching on all sides, like a grid. (Baking sheet must have sides.)

Bring 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of butter to a boil in a saucepan. Pour this mixture evenly over the graham crackers and spread to coat. Bake for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle one pkg milk chocolate chips on top of the graham crackers evenly. Let them melt for 30 sec-1 minute. Then spread to coat the graham crackers.

Sprinkle on your desired topping or leave it plain! Chill in the refrigerator or freezer until chocolate has hardened.

To serve, use a metal spatula or pizza cutter to break it up into pieces.

Suggested toppings: leftover cereal crumbs, coconut, crushed nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts etc.)
Don't feel like you need to top this with something. The butter & sugar turn into caramel which pairs perfectly with the milk chocolate. Plain is actually my favorite!

Let me know if you try it! I made this recipe for the first time with mom about 3 years ago and it's been a classic recipe for me when I need to whip up something for a get-together or potluck.

xo Janelle 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sugar-free Challenge: Veggie & Ham Scramble with Pita

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope the sun is shining wherever you are; it sure is here.

One of the hardest parts about the sugar-free challenge for me so far has been breakfasts. Anyone who has spent a morning with me knows that I LOVE cereal. I love the ones with medium amount of sugar, like Honey Bunches of Oats (6g) or Cinnamon Toast Crunch (11g?). Not only do I love it for the taste but it's great for when I'm in a rush. Pour, add milk, eat. I like simple things...

Cereal has always been a breakfast staple in my house growing up. At any given time in our apartment now there are about 4 types of cereal, any less than that and we're "running out." So it was essential for me to find a substitute for cereal. Even though I loved puffed wheat and unsweetened almond milk, I needed another breakfast alternative. Enter, eggs!

My dad used to make us the 2nd best omelets (mine are still better!). But omelets can be a bit plain so I wanted to punch it up a bit with today's breakfast: Veggie & Ham Scramble with Pita.  

Here's how to make it happen...

Fry up some veggies in a pan. I like to start with a tsp of olive oil heated on medium, followed by some onion, peppers, tomatoes and spinach/greens. This morning I also threw in some chopped up deli ham for a protein kick. Fry the veggies until just soft.

Crack your eggs (I used 3) right into the pan. Be sure to keep scrambling with a spatula or flipper. Gradually reduce stirring and continue to cook until eggs are cooked well.

To crisp up some "pitas" to eat alongside the scramble cut a tortilla of your choice into 6 pieces. Lay the pieces on a baking sheet and broil them in the oven until brown. (This only takes a few minutes, be careful not to burn them!) You can also try adding a drizzle of olive oil and some spices, like chili powder or basil, to them before broiling. Serve with your choice of soft cheese (feta, goat etc.).

Here's what mine looked like:

With some leftover homemade hummus peeking out in the back.

What is your favorite breakfast food? What's your favorite cereal? Let me know!

xo Janelle

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Maid of Dishonor?

I just got back from seeing Bridesmaids and it was too funny. I don't want to add to all the hype or anything, but you can bring almost anyone to see it... your BFF, your sister, your boyfriend/husband, whoever.

Well, you might not want to bring your mom. Or maybe you do, if you're past that point where your mom asks "Is this movie restricted?" My mom still does that.

Anyway, the movie is actually very funny, gross, awesome and a little romantic, just a little though.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My (almost) sugar-free day

So, in a spur of the moment decision I decided to join Alex's 10-Day Sugar Free Challenge. Now, this poses a slight problem because I already did groceries for the week before deciding to join. This means that a lot, even most, of the food I have here has at least some sugar in it. That said I did a pretty good job working with what I had. Don't worry I won't be posting my meals everyday because A) it would bore you to tears and B) I really don't keep track of quantities and such. So here goes my meals for today, just because.

- 2 Fiber + Eggos with peanut butter (the Eggos had 2g of sugar for 2 or something like that)
- Applesauce

- Goldfish crackers (almost the whole bag, whoops!)

- Hummus & a handful of Triscuits
- 3 slices of turkey breast (the kind we bought had 2g glucose solids, but I needed meat desperately.)
- Salad mix & some leftover cous cous
- A Banana

- More Goldfish (Seriously, I can't control myself...)

Supper: (Thanks Darryl!)
- Chicken, peppers, tomatoes & goat/cow cheese mix in a whole wheat wrap.
*Love wraps and Triscuits because they're sugar free!

- I'll probably have some frozen corn or edamame with salt before bed. Yummm.

I also had 2 cups of coffee with milk & lots of water.

So there's my update on my 1st day of sugar-free! I think I did alright... I just need to stock up on some nuts & tuna to keep me feeling satisfied between meals. I'm also going to be ending the challenge next Friday on D's birthday when we go out for supper! It's nice to have something to look forward to... and what a great way to celebrate. I'm going to make him a special cake and I might even sneak some healthy stuff into it, wink wink.

xo Janelle