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I have a great view from my balcony. It is one of the main reasons I got this apartment… other reasons include it was in my prefered neighbourhood, wasn’t in a scary basement and allowed pets.
See – gorgeous, eh?? Though the hot air balloons only come out during the Hot Air Balloon festival once a year.
I plan on taking full advantage of both the view and what I’m hoping will be amazingly nice summer weather. Starting…. now. Now! Now?? Nnnnnnow!! Ok… soon. While I might be happy to call a gorgeous glass of red wine - dinner, not everyone is. So here is a really quick little bite that you can throw together quickly and get back to the sunshine! It is adapted from a wonderful cook book called “Around my French Table” by Dorie Greenspan – she calles it a Dieter’s Tartine.
Dorie’s Dieter’s Tartine
Baguette or nice bread you can cut into thick rounds
Pepper * For this I used a smoked pepper from The Salty Don - it’s just amazing. You can use regular pepper… but it’s worth seeking out this fantastically delish product.
1. Cut as many rounds of bread as you want to serve/eat. I find I’m stuffed with about 3 or 4 I’m in that phase where I eat like a bird (nature’s way of balancing when my mouth is like a black hole that all food is sucked into). Toast them either quickly on a griddle pan or in a toaster oven. One side will do – it’s just for texture.
2. Scoop out a tablespoon of cottage cheese for each bread round. Season it to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Cut the tomato, avocado and cucumber into a tiny little dice.
4. Spread the cheese on the bread and add the chopped veggies on top. Don’t worry if it spills over… if you have already started drinking before making the snacks it was bound to happen anyway.
Living alone gives you a lot of some things, like privacy, free time and opportunities for sitting around sans-pants. Sadly for your bank account, that often translates to going out. Not to mention that paying bills on your own is way more expensive than splitting them with someone. So it is great when you find smart ways to save money, money better spent treating yourself to something kick ass… like this:
Aged balsamic vinegar is thicker, sweeter and more complex that regular balsamic. It makes a spinach and strawberry salad sing a song so beautiful your ears will weep with joy. It’s also a hell of a lot pricier depending on how long it has been aged. Thanks to my amazingly awesome boss at C’est Bon Cooking - there is a work around.
Take a bottle of your regular, cheap balsamic. Pour it into a pot and turn on the heat to about medium. Allow that vinegar to simmer. NOT BOIL. If you boil it, the smell of vinegar will fill your house like mustard gas. But if you simmer it, and allow it to reduce by half – you will have a thicker, sweeter and very similar to aged balsamic tasting vinegar. Let it cool – pour it back in the bottle.
It is, quite literally, awesome sauce.
Leaving your budget free for something amazing. Perhaps Spock oven mitts?? Ohhhh baby.
I love lasagna. It is a way for me to justify more cheese on my pasta and nothing could make me happier. The only problem – making a single serving of it. Sure you could buy the frozen kinds – but let’s face it, they suck. There is either all meat sauce with no veggies, all veggies and a severe lack of cheese or it is just bland.
Then I discovered this little trick and it has once again brought the sun shine happiness of homemade lasagna back into my life: a loaf pan is the perfect size for two servings of lasagna. Basic noodles fit almost perfectly (a little trimming might be required), two per row.
Use your favourite lasagna recipe as a guide or take a look at what I did.
Just layer oven read noodles between tomato sauce (add a little water to it if it doesn’t already have a very liquid consistency - the noodles will need it while cooking. Add handfuls of spinach in some layers, and use cottage or ricotta cheese in place of the bechamel sauce and your favourite cheese. Throw it in the oven until the noodles are cooked to your liking and BAM! Lasagna for one (or two depends on if you like to share) that tastes amazing and is simple enough for even the busiest single guy or gal.
There is a British Study that says that people tend to choose dog that have similar personalities to themselves. I don’t know about that, but I DO know that since Lemon and I moved out on our own… he’s gotten quirkier. So, yeah. I guess that study is pretty bang on.
Let us look at the ways that Lemon and I are the same:
1. We both dislike early mornings and love naps.
2. We are both somewhat paranoid and twitchy.
3. Neither of us have much fashion sense.
You can’t see it in this photo but his purse totally clashes with that hat.
4. We love a good cookie.
5. We are easily startled.
6. We hate cleaning up after ourselves. *The only difference is that one of us will eventually do it anyway… thanks Lem.*
7. We are somewhat awkward and a whole lot weird.
8. Once you get to know us those things become adorable.
Here is another thing we have in common… we love this recipe. Me, because it is basically dessert dressed up like a meal and Lemon, because he gets the fruit that I drop on the ground. Both the accidental and deliberate kind.
Also, because it is just the two of us (though TV assures me that cute single girls in the city have many opportunities for “unexpected, but completely welcome morning visitors”… please don’t let this be more of your ‘false advertising’ television) this recipe is in singles friendly portion. One recipe makes 2 decent sized pancakes.
Best Pancakes In The World
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup liquid (milk or water – up to you)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp white vinegar
1/2 TBSP sugar
1 medium sized fruit or 1/2 cup
A little sugar and spices to taste
Depending on the fruit you use, you may need to cut it up and saute it with a little butter and sugar. Use the sugar to taste, it will depend on if you are using a seriously sweet banana or if you have a bitter apple. Berries and such don’t need to be cooked first, but you can if you like.
This is also a good time to add spices like cinnamon or nutmeg if you so choose. Usually 1/2 tsp is more than enough.
Mix all other ingredients in a bowl, add your fruit – cooked or not. Mix well.
Cook pancakes in a fry pan over medium heat until golden brown and cooked through.
Enjoy with an abundance of maple syrup. Seriously… go nuts. It’s awesome.
Everyone is good at something. I am a spectacular procrastinator. Spectacular. But sometimes that isn’t a good thing. Say, hypothetically of course, you were baking brownies and you didn’t check in on them maybe as much as you should…. and they are dry. Not burnt mind you. But so dry that you can’t even cut them with any kind of knife. They could be used as a weapon.
Luckily, the second thing I’m good at is fixing my fuck-ups. It might not be what you originally intended but it is way better than those bricks you call brownies.
First step: If there is anything salvageable – scrape it off and put it in a bowl.
Step two: Add a few tablespoons of butter in little pieces all over the dried, stuck to your pan brownies. Put them in the oven at 200 degrees until the butter melts.
Step three: the melted butter will loosen up that brownie no matter how much you swore it was never, ever, coming off the pan. Put those scrapings in the bowl with the other brownie pieces. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look pretty.
Step four: Add one egg and 1/2 cup of milk for every 1 cup of dried brownie pieces. Add a splash of vanilla. I realize these aren’t exact instructions, but not following instructions properly is most of the reason we are in this situation in the first place.
Step five: put them in a muffin tin or ramekins that has been sprayed with oil. Bake at 350 degrees until the liquid has evaporated and the texture is like a soft muffin.
Step six: enjoy your now soft and awesome brownie bread pudding… because that is exactly what you meant to make.
You know why I love Facebook? Because it is like having a team of people searching the internet for you and then posting all the best stuff. The best looking recipes, the luckiest chain letters and the funniest jokes. Ok… that’s not always true. But if you sift amongst the rocks there is gold in them there hills!! I mean… that there news feed.
My friend Amanda posted a link to making your own deodorant. I had the same reaction that I bet you are having right now. It sounded something like “Pfft… that is some pretty hippie shit right there.” Well I was wrong and so were you. Actually… we were both pretty bang on but just because it is hard core hippie doesn’t mean it doesn’t rock the proverbial casbah.
It just so happens that I have very sensitive skin. I’m also super accident prone – so when I had cut my under arm (yes that’s right… I cut it) I found that regular deodorants burned and stung like a mother cuss-er. I was pretty quick to beg Amanda for a sample.
Do you know what clove and orange smells like?? Juicy Fruit gum. Oh hell yes.
Made from essential oils, house hold baking supplies and coconut oil – not only does it smell amazing, is natural and didn’t sting – it is also fully customizable!! Oh yes. For every time I have turned to someone and said “I wish I smelled just like this ______” insert yummy smell here. Usually it is wine, bacon or popcorn. Just swap out the orange and clove oil below for your prefered scent.
So I made some! And with it a bit of a change in the recipe for a better texture. So use up your old stuff – keep the container (you can just pour this right in and it will set up like a regular stick of deodorant). But you might want to have some regular stuff on hand because this recipe is the exact opposite of “no white residue”. Sorry little black dress. But it does last all day and even through my yoga sessions.
Homemade Deodorant – Smell Like Candy
10 drops Oregano Oil (this is the bacteria fighter… you need this. I know you may not like the smell but you wont notice when you are done)
25 drops Orange Oil
10 drops Clove Oil
4-5 TBSP coconut oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup corn starch
In a big bowl whisk all the ingredients together until combined. Should be the consistency of thick cake batter. Pour into your container and start smelling great!
And now, because you know it is in your head. The Clash -
The funny thing about these cookies is that they never actually made it to the intended recipient.
Remember when I had said that I was making cookies as part of a 2013 creative ‘Pay it Forward’? (If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, catch yourself up here. Don’t worry I’ll be here when you get back.) Well these ginger snaps were made for my friend Katy. In my head I was 150% certain that she was going to be at a dinner party mutual friends were having. Turns out Katy was 151% certain that she was going to New York City for the weekend.
So… the cookies were made, they were photographed, eaten and enjoyed. Katy simply had no part in any of that. *Note to Katy - I do promise to get you a cookie at some point. It may even be a ginger cookie and be made by me. It could also be a single Oreo that I hand you and then proceed to eat the rest of the bag by myself. In one sitting. While you watch. *
Incase Katy gets tired of waiting for me to show up at her door with cookies – here is the recipe
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup molasses
1 TBSP baking soda
3 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 TBSP ground ginger
1/2 TBSP grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp salt
Melt butter and shortening together, put in a large bowl. Add molasses and baking soda. Stir to combine.
Add flour, sugar, buttermilk, ginger and salt. Stir until blended and becomes a dough.
Form dough into small balls. Place on cookie sheet with space in between. Bake 13 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. If you prefer a crisper cookie (more like a ginger snap) press the ball of cookie dough out with the palm of your hand or a fork before baking.
Sometime in early January I saw a friend make the following post in their facebook status:
“2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward: The first five people to comment on this status will receive from me, sometime in the next calendar year, a gift – perhaps a book, or baked goods, or a candle, flowers, or a surprise! There will likely be no warning (well, except if I need your address) and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me. The catch? Those five people must make the same offer in their FB status. Who’s in?:
The chance to get a random surprise?!? Of course I was in. I have a deep love/hate relationship with surprises. I love getting them, I hate not knowing what they are!
Of course, those who signed up on my status are receiving food. I decided it would be best to make everyone cookies! Cait was first with a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
Here is the recipe!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (6oz) package of chocolate chips
In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl cream together butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir until combined. Add dry ingredients and blend together.
Stir in chocolate chips.
For dough into small balls (about 2 TBSP per ball). Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet a couple of inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees until the edges become golden.
Allow cookies to cool, or you will burn your mouth like I did.
Yesterday was such fun. I was on Rogers Daytime for about 7 minutes making some flourless chocolate cakes. They really are awesome little cakes, so I figured I would share the recipe. They may be the best thing that came out of my time of “wheat-free”.
That’s right. My “wheat-free” days are done. All in all I felt good not eating it, but no better than when I was eating it. Maybe if I had lasted longer, I would have noticed a difference. My weight stayed pretty much the same – the biggest difference was really when I would cheat and have a little something.
I remember being doubled over with stomach pain after eating one of my favourite muffins (Morning Glory from Epicuria – 357 St. Laurent – if anyone happens to be in the neighbourhood) – but it was so worth it.
So because I will never give up a muffin this good (seriously, it’s like a carrot muffin to the extreme… amazing); I started incorporating wheat back into my life but only once a day. I figure everything in moderation, right? And to be fair the amount of wheat flour I ate *was* absurd.
But even if you are eating wheat all the time, doesn’t mean you don’t need these fudgy little cakes once in a while. They were so awesome I don’t even have a photo of them because they were so quickly inhaled. You know. For quality control for the show. Had to be done.
Also, because I’m not a great blogger, I don’t have a clip of the segment (but you are probably better off not seeing me ramble and mutter) - so here is a song from my favourite childhood band Green Day. Don’t listen to it Mom. You won’t like it.
Flourless Fudgy Cakes
3.5 oz dark chocolate
2 TBSP unsalted butter
2 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8oz ramekins with non stick spray and dust with flour.
In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter until smooth.
In a separate bowl, use a hand held mixer to beat egg whites into stiff peaks.
In a third bowl, mix sugar, vanilla and egg yolks until thick and creamy. Mix in the melted chocolate 1/4 at a time. Fold egg whites into the mixture.
Spoon batter into the jars equally and bake for 25 minutes or until the cakes have risen and the tops are cracked.
There are many things I’m enjoying about my new single life and a couple of things I hate. One of the biggest, and lamest, changes has been my new found dependence on public transportation.
I hate taking the bus. I’d rather walk. But when that’s not an option I’m often left standing at the side of the road freezing my tail off wondering why I’ve seen 6 buses come the opposite direction while I’m still standing here.
Luckily in the past week I’ve been given two secret weapons to aid in this endeavour – which I am more than thankful for with the snowy weather just a couple months away.
Not so secret weapon 1 – GPS bus tracking
Just text 560-560 with the bus stop number and bus route number (example 7567 7) and you will get a text back right away with the next three times the #7 bus is supposed to stop at stop number 7567. The times with an *, are real time from the GPS on the bus.
Sometimes it backfires and the bus is delayed a little longer than you were told last time you checked, so you can re-text to check on it.
Invaluable when it comes to knowing if there is another bus coming shortly after that packed one, or if the bus is running 2 minutes early so shake a leg! It will also allow you to maximize your time in a warm sheltered spot before heading to the bus stop.
Not so secret weapon 2 – Cream of Fall Vegetable Soup
Quick and simple. Throw it in a pressure cooker and you’ll be warmed from the inside out in no time.
1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 sweet potato cut into large pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1/2 a turnip, chopped
1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup barley
3 cups broth
1/2 red onion
1/2 TBSP dried dill
1/4 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 TBSP dijon mustard
Combine first 9 ingredients into a pressure cooker, turn on high and lock lid. Once lid locks into place turn heat down to medium and allow to simmer away for 30 minutes until everything is nice and soft.
Add final ingredients and combine with an immersion blender or in a regular one. Check seasonings and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.