Liebster Award


Remember the really real Tacos I made?  Oh, they were so good and myluchanddinner is the gal who made it all possible.  I wanted to not only thank her for the recipe, but for also presenting me with the Liebster Blog Award.  I felt extremely grateful and honoured that she did so, because I feel really new to the blog world and to have been recognized, really encouraged me.

My five nominations are: 

Domestic Diva, MD: A brilliant writer, full of humor and witt that is super fun to follow and is a definite creative genius.

Chocolate and Raspberries: A blog I enjoy looking at for fashion inspiration and ideas.

The Hungry Irish Man: A fascinating blog filled with far out meals that are deserving of attention.

Assia’s Kaleidoscope: An interesting blog with bright beautiful pictures of cakes I have never heard  of or seen before, and can’t wait to give them a try, as well as other dishes that inspire me.

My Thin Eats: A blog that has informative topics related to health and life with the added bonus of meals to try out, that are practical, tasty, and healthy.

Liebster Award Rules:

  1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
  3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
  4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed.
  5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog


The First.

I am being reminded of my first year of marriage.  This would be because we got married in the spring.  The colors from the Heather, Grape Hyacinth, Cherry Blossom Trees, Daffodils, and Tulips were instrumental in the choosing of the colors for our wedding.  The first year was difficult.  I wasn’t too keen on being a team player with certain things and Sean wasn’t used to having to let someone know, being me, when he was going to be late coming home from work.  We were both very independent, stubborn and opinionated.  Fortunately, we are extremely committed and because of commitment and sacrifice, we are respectful to one another and have matured and are still maturing into a team, a unit, and a family.  I have always liked cooking and experimenting with different foods.  Sean in our early years was very bent towards red meat and potatoes.  I didn’t know how to cook red meat and I’ve never been a potato kinda gal, so my dinners were often times a flop.  Most nights we would go to our favorite little restaurant and be guaranteed a great meal.  Other times we would go to the butcher and buy ready made meals or stuffed chicken and so forth.  It was a splendid time, but costly.  Kids came into the picture and the lifestyle of being single, kind of became non-existent.  I realized that I had to get my butt in gear, in more ways than one, and embrace change and healthy lifestyle to the fullest. No more excuses.  No more laziness.  Included in a shower gift, someone had given me a Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I flipped through it and instantly became a Martha groupie.  I happened to come across this chicken recipe that has become the staple dinner for when we have company.  I wanted it this evening, so therefore, here it is. Thanks Martha for the inspiration, you rock.

Baked Crisp Parmesan-Romano Chicken

 (Inspired by Martha Stewart)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for baking sheet
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tsp sea salt
1/4 Tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 Tsp dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 whole chicken-rinsed, patted dry and cut in 8 pieces or (I use 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs and 3-4 breasts, cut in strips, instead).
For the coating:
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, or cream crackers, processed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh grated Romano cheese
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
1/4 Tsp ground pepper

How To Play:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, and garlic in a 9×13 baking dish. Add chicken to marinade. Cover. Refrigerate at least 1-8 hours.
Stir together bread crumbs, cheeses, parsley, and pepper in medium bowl. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, oil lining. (I just grease a baking sheet with coconut oil.) Dredge each chicken piece in bread crumb mixture to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake chicken until bread crumbs are golden and chicken is cooked through, about 45-50 minutes. Serve this dish with arugula, tomatoes, blanched green beans, and crumbled Parmesan cheese tossed with olive oil and vinegar or a simple spinach salad with grated carrots, pecans, tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


Birthday Cupcakes

For 2’s birthday all he wanted was chocolate cupcakes.  Oh, a child after my own heart. I love both chocolate and cupcakes.  I can’t believe he is now three.  It is fun to watch the kids and listen to them talk to each other.  Did I talk like this when I was their age?  There is a kind of pressure I have been feeling lately.  How much will my everyday interactions with my kids affect them both positively and negatively?  I remember most of my childhood from the age 2 1/2 years and up.  My words and facial expressions are being constantly imprinted into my little loves.  When I was running this evening, I was thinking about the different pressures currently overwhelming me. I am slightly neurotic, yes, especially with germs, so that is something I feel overwhelmed with, also finances. They have to be the ever constant beast in my life, just like my weight.  Losing weight and saving money are a handful of numbers and equations that I allow to fill my brain and consume my thoughts.  Sometimes I run to burn off steam, other times I run to distract myself, tonight was one of those nights.  I needed a distraction.  I had a really good conversation with my grandma earlier and I have come to the realization, whether we are in our 30’s or in our 80’s, we all have the same struggles and pressures in life, they just present themselves to us differently. I don’t want to live in fear.  I really don’t.  That is why I am dedicating this recipe to the worry warts.  Those who worry about weight, those who are concerned about money and germs, sickness and death. This is for those who lack discipline and fear they won’t be able to stop themselves from wanting to eat more.  The neurotics, the fear mongers and the scaredy cats, all of you, fear not, this cake will not harm you, it will liberate you…within reason, of course.

Birthday Cupcakes

(Inspired by Rebar’s chocolate cake)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 Dutch process cocoa
1 1/2 Tsp baking soda, aluminium free
3/4 Tsp baking powder, aluminium free
1/4 Tsp sea salt
3/4 cup strong coffee
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used 3/4 cup milk with 1 Tsp vinegar added to it)
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used 1/3 cup grapeseed oil only)
2 eggs (1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk)
1 Tsp pure vanilla

5 oz (150 g) milk chocolate
5 oz (150 g) dark chocolate
1/2 lb (225 g) butter, softened
1/4 lb (112 g) cream cheese, spreadable
1 Tsp pure vanilla

How To Play:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tray. Set aside. Combine the sugar, flour,cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt in the bowl of a mixer and whisk on low to combine, making sure it is lump free. Add the coffee, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix on medium-low for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides. The batter will be pourable.
Use a ladle to distribute the batter evenly into prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes sit for 10 minutes before removing them from the tray.
* Note: This recipe is for a 8″ round cake, so there is extra batter. I made 4 small heart shaped cakes as well, to use all the batter. I don’t think it would enough to make 2 dozen cupcakes, but perhaps if they were small ones, it could.
Next, the icing. This, as mentioned above, is actually for the 8″cake’s filling, but I used it as an icing for the cupcakes instead. Melt the milk and dark chocolates in a double boiler and stir until smooth. Cool 10 minutes. Cream together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Mix the cooled chocolate into the creamed mixture.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, spread icing evenly over each one, gently transfer the iced cupcakes in the fridge and serve when ready.


Really Real Tacos

I am excited to say I may never have to buy taco seasoning again, because of a recipe mylunchanddinner posted.  It is her grandmother’s taco recipe and it is delish.  We didn’t even bother waiting for Wednesday for Mexican.  We made these on Saturday.  So great.  We used ground beef, but ground turkey or chicken would be just as good.  I served it with spinach, taco chips and cut up tomatoes.  I just love finding  recipes and the joys of sharing them.  Nothing bothers me more than those who won’t share the love.  Seriously, what is the big deal?  I think it might be a form of control…I have had few incidences where I had asked for a recipe and was refused.  One time my sister and I frequently visited a health food store that had the most amazing home-made carob cookies.  Once when I had asked the owner what was in them, or if she would be willing to give out the recipe, she immediately refused to do so and said, “If I give out my recipe, no one will buy these cookies anymore.”  Well, sadly the store closed down and now no one is getting the chance to taste the most awesome cookie in the world.  What a shame.

Picadillo de mi abuelita

(From mylunchanddinner)

**Picadillo (which is just mexican-spanish slang for really chopped)
(1 lb) of ground beef
1/2 small chopped onion
1 garlic clove chopped
1 medium carrot cut into small squares
1 medium potato cut into small squares
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
2 teaspoons of oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Either 1 fresh jalapeño or serrano pepper chopped, or 1/2 green pepper,chopped

How To Play:

Heat a large pan to medium temperature.
Add the oil and immediately the onions. Once the onions are transparent, add the chopped garlic and cook for about a minute.
Place the beef in the pan, and using a wooden spoon move the meat to separate it into small pieces.
Season with salt and pepper and add cumin.
Stir until the meat is brown. Add vegetables, pepper, and the tomato sauce and season again with salt and pepper to taste!
Cover the pan and turn the heat to the lowest point. Cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.


Under the tea cozy.

Everybody needs family. Everybody needs to be a part of a family, whether it be an immediate family, an extended family, or a spiritual family.  A major cultural theme in today’s society is individualism.  With individualism, the individual’s focus is on their own needs and perspectives instead of on relationships and groups.  Why?  I think there are many reasons for this and there is no one person who will have the same reasons as another.  I used to be involved with the new age movement.  I was really involved with numerology, horoscopes and other things, trying to figure out who I was and what my purpose was.  Often times I would catch myself putting myself in a box.  My sign didn’t get along with that person’s sign, so therefore we couldn’t be friends, and so on.  However, as I continued on my path of searching for the power within me to set me free from the bondages of anger, hurt, and depression, I ended up stumbling across a small church who accepted and embraced me for who I was and walked with me through some of my most painful days on the journey to recovery.  I met Jesus on this trip, and from that day forward, I have never been the same.  One of the major memories my church family has of me, is I would wear a tea cozy on my head.  I was shy, broken, insecure and felt safer if I had something on my head, whether it was a toque, a hat of some sort, or a tea cozy.  Hence the name of this blog.  Most people just knew me as the one wearing the tea cozy on my head, but never really got to know me until later, when the tea cozy came off, and my healing process changed how I viewed life and myself.  Being a young and new Christian, I was like a sponge and taking in all the teachings and readings to heart.  I would sit under the older, more mature women and learn all I could from them.  One lady in particular is Carol.  She became a spiritual mother to me. She loves me and she loves Sean greatly.  Before Sean’s mom passed away, Carol would often say she’d be his mom in the west, since his family was all back east.  She and Herb have embraced us like their own, and we really love and appreciate them.  Since we have been married, for almost seven years, it has been a tradition for the four of us to go out for dinner to experience  a new restaurant.  Last night was one of those occasions.  It was brilliant.  Absolute fun.  The food was fresh, tasty, and beautiful.  The conversation, like always, full of life, laughs, and excitement.  We left feeling refreshed and revived.  I love family.  I love that family doesn’t have to be placed in a box.  I love that community can’t be placed in a box.  There is just no room for it.  We need family.  We need to know we belong.

Home Made Pizza

Today I weighed myself and I am 186.5.  That means, I have 20.5 more pounds to go.  Whoo hoo!  This is a familiar weight, I have been here 3 times now.  Last night I made a vegetarian pizza meets the meat-eater.  The great thing with home made pizza, is one can do whatever they want with whatever they have.  This pizza worked out really well for the family.  I was a bit sneaky and added chopped spinach quite finely, and no one seemed to notice.  The joys of being in the kitchen preparing for the red meat lovers.

Home-made Pizza

preferred dough, whether it be home-made or store-bought (I used TJ’s fresh dough)
3/4 cups preferred pasta sauce (I used TJ’s Tomato Basil Marinara)
parmesan cheese
hand-full of spinach, chopped finely
1/4 cup red onion, chopped finely
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped finely
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped finely
12 slices of salami, chopped finely
1 1/2 cups of cooked ground beef, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

How To Play:
Heat oven to 500 degrees. Grease a baking sheet sprinkled with organic cornmeal. Prepare dough accordingly. When dough is ready, stretch out onto the prepared cookie sheet. Place in the oven for about 5-8 minutes until it begins to cook. Take it out, let it cool for about 3 minutes. Spoon pasta sauce and smear generously onto the pizza base. Sprinkle a fair amount of parmesan cheese onto the pasta sauce. Evenly lay out the spinach, red onion, peppers, and meats. Sprinkle the cheeses all around. Turn the oven down to 475 degrees, cook pizza for 10-15 minutes or until cooked to perfection.


Another vegan chocolate chip cookie, please…

I had such good intentions to bring these cookies out for our pot-bless, but they never made it to the table. I love the Kind Diet book by Alicia Silverstone, and this is from her book, however I make a couple of changes, but the results are the same. They are quick to make, as well as eat, and they are quite enjoyable with a nice cup of tea after a busy day of doing errands, work, or whatever. I love cookies and I love these. Like always, they taste great when put in the freezer, that is, if they ever make it there.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Inspired by The Kind Diet’s Oatmeal, Walnut, and Dried Plum Cookies)
1 cup of oats
3/4 cups spelt
1/3 cup sucanut
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil (heated to liquid form)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp molasses
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

How To Play:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the syrup, oil, vanilla extract, and molasses. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
Using your hands, roll tablespoon size scoops of dough into balls. Flatten the balls with the palms of your hands and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
For a variety, I have used Barely flakes and Kamut flakes instead of Oat Flakes, as well as dried plums, dried apricot, and dried papaya. All have worked out great.


Big Barn Bowtie Pasta

Oh, finally the sun is out. Seriously, it is as though it has been raining for years. My skin is an awesome shade of pale white and my entire body is sore from my workout yesterday. I have determined, despite lack of sleep, it is time to return back to my old routine of going to the gym early again. Our nights, most days, are filled with different commitments and engagements. It seems the most logical thing to me. I can’t handle the stress that comes with time restraints or time slots to have workouts an hour before we have to go somewhere or when others will be arriving at our home. So now, in the early morning hour, I will feed 3, put him back in the crib and off I will go. I don’t necessarily feel motivated, but I am committed. I have determined in my heart that this is what I need. I know I do. The feelings of accomplishment far succeed the feelings I get with procrastination. My weight? I don’t know. I still don’t feel as though I can be bothered with that. What matters, is that I am fitting into clothes, maybe I will weigh myself on Friday. Tonight we have our homegroup pot-bless. Pot-bless? Well, we believe we are blessed not lucky, therefore, pot-bless. Three things I have prepared for it, my sister’s favorite pasta dish, big barn bowties, hummus, and vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

Big Barn Bowtie

(inspired by Rebar)
1 lb faralle
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp sea salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
1/3 cup minced sage
1 tbsp minced thyme (optional)
8 cups chopped savoy cabbage
1/2 cup vegetable stock, or water
2 medium carrots, half-moon slices
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, roasted
1/4 cup brown butter
extra minced sage and thyme
grated Parmesan cheese

How To Play:
Heat a large pot of water to cook the pasta. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Add onion and 1/2 tsp of salt and sauté until golden. Add garlic, chiles, and minced herbs and sauté several minutes longer. Stir in the cabbage and remaining salt and cook until the cabbage is well coooked and slightly browned. Add stock or water to prevent the cagbbage from sticking to the pan. Add carrots and continue to sauté until tender.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente and prepare the brown butter.[Place 1/2 cup of butter in a small saucepan and melt over low heat. Let it simmer for 10 minutes until golden amber in color. Strain through a cheesecloth to remove solids and use immediately- I don’t strain it, I just pour it in to the dish when required]. Just before serving, season the vegetables with balsamic vinegar, salt and cracked pepper to taste. Toss in extra fresh herbs if using. To serve, toss the hot noodles with the vegetables, drizzle each serving with brown butter and top with crushed roasted walnuts and grated Parmesan.
* I toss the noodles in with the vegetables, but also add the walnuts, butter and about 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese in with them too. I don’t think it really matters the manner in which it is served. I love Parmesan cheese, so taste and see if you need more cheese or not. I often add more than 1/3 cup.


The Flexible Salad

Last night we had our Pastor’s meeting. Before our meetings, we share a meal together. Adrienne and I will often times prepare new recipes and hope for the best. She made a scrumptious curry chicken dish and I made a toasted sesame salad. The salad dressing actually worked really well with the chicken dish. Unfortunately, I don’t have Adrienne’s chicken recipe. The dressing recipe, however, was one inspired from Oh She Glows, and in my opinion, it is very flexible. This salad and dressing definitely could be used as a side with a variety of different meals. It’s super yum!

Toasted Sesame Salad

2 cups Spinach
2 Romaine Hearts, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
3 Tablespoons toasted sesame
1/4 cup red onions, sliced finely

Better than Bottled Balsamic Vinaigrette

2.5 tablespoons balsamic
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or regular mustard
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1 minced clove of garlic (optional)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

How To Play:
Prepare the salad by toasting the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until browned and placing them on top of the lettuces, cranberries, and onions.  Toss all  the dressing ingredients into a bowl and whisk! Makes about 1/2 cup of dressing.


Chocolate Coconut Bites

After church today, I had a craving for these little guys.  They are so good and taste even better when placed in the freezer.  I love frozen treats and these freeze greatly.  I used to call them my brain food when I would be studying for exams, now they are my brain food when I am chasing after kids.  I found them in a cool little recipe book a beautiful friend of mine blessed me with called, “Slice- Health Inspired Food,” by Barb Davies and Jennifer Rallison. This book is brilliant and has really great creative meals that are not difficult to make and are HEALTHY!

Chocolate Coconut Bites

3/4 cup milled flax seed
1/4 cup each of finely chopped hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup vanilla vega protein powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
zest of 1 organic lemon
1/2 cup almond butter
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup unpasteurized honey
2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

How To Play:
In a bowl, combine flaxseeds, nuts, cocoa powder, whey protein, salt and zest. Add almond butter, tahini, honey, coconut oil and vanilla. With a hand mixer, combine until smooth (I use a wooden spoon). Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes then shape into 1 inch balls. Place coconut in a small dish. Roll balls in coconut to coat. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve, or place them in the freezer!- So good!!