Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Salad Bag Bandwagon

Friends, I have jumped on another bandwagon to save time during the busy work week.  I’ll be honest because I’m not too sure if it saves money but the convenience and time saving trade-off is totally worth it (although I usually find them on sale).  I now buy 3 bagged salads when I grocery shop for the week.  I buy one salad to have at home for dinners and then I buy two salads for my lunches, salad in a jar.

Bagged Salads Save Time


Last week I bought a Pear Gorgonzola Mixed Green Salad for home and a Fiesta (Mexican) Salad Kit with a bag of shredded iceberg to top it off with, for my lunches.  (Note: I don’t normally just buy shredded iceberg, I try to buy something with a bit more nutrition but this was all they had this week).The Pear Gorgonzola salad comes with a yummy dressing, nuts and fruit and I can get four side salads out of it so it takes care of two dinner veggies, and there is no way my hubby is eating salad with dinner every night so I have to switch the veggies up anyway.

Bagged salads have also shaved even more time off my lunch prep for the week!  I am lazy and if I don’t have something I can grab and take with me every morning, I would be inhaling cheeseburgers every day.  So on Sunday I whip up 5 delicious salads in a jar in 10 minutes.  Why does it even take 10 minutes?  Because I have to strip the meat off the rotisserie chicken.  And in doing so I am not only getting meat for my lunches, I am also getting enough cooked chicken for at least one dinner.  We make quesadillas, pasta, whatever you can throw chicken in, and it’s already cooked!

Salad in a jar ingredients


So for my lunch salads, I divide the dressing from the kit evenly between the jars (adding a bit more if needed from our home stash), add ¾ cup of cooked chicken, sprinkle whatever cheese or nuts or other fixings that are included in the kit on top of the chicken, and then top with the actual salad mix.  I pack it all down and there is usually another 1.5” which I stuff with the extra salad I bought.  And I usually have a bit of leftovers from the third bag and use them up at some point during the week.

So to sum it up, I save time and we get to eat yummy salads.  Sounds like a win-win to me!

What are your time saving tips?

Eat Drink & Be Mary

Monday, 29 September 2014

Garage Sales Suck

It’s Monday, it’s pouring rain, my coffee is cold and I have cramps.  TMI?  Sorry but that’s my morning.  I did manage to sleep in for half an hour this morning but really I was catching up on sleep because the pains ripping through my abdomen kept me up until midnight.  Do cramps get worse as you get older or is it just me??  Isn’t that something that should go away with time??  And the best drugs for taking away the pain make me sleepy so I can’t really take them at work so I have to suffer which obviously means that everyone around me has to suffer. 
 
Sorry I didn’t mean for this to be a post about my lady business but that’s Monday for you.
 
We had a super busy weekend.  Our tenant decided to have a garage sale on Saturday and because I am a hoarder pack rat I thought it would be a good idea to throw some of our (my) junk out there so Friday after work we raided the house and put out DVD’s, video games, household crap, shoes, purses, clothes, etc.  Then Saturday morning I hauled it up to the carport and got it all organized (of course my husband had to work) and settled in with my Baileys coffee. 
 
Garage sales suck.  Seriously people are cheap!  You’re already selling a brand-new-in plastic DVD for $1 and people want to pay $0.25.  And people are rude!  Some woman was telling me how old our tenant’s little dog looks.  She is old but she doesn’t need some stranger to rub it in her face.
Around 10am my Baileys was replaced with something a little stronger.
Somersby pear cider

 
I started taking pictures of stuff and posting it on Facebook groups and would you know, it started selling.  We actually made just over $80 and then yesterday I made another $41.  I also took the books that didn’t sell to a local used bookstore and got $56 in credit, and then I donated all the non-name brand clothes.  So I did actually get a lot of crap out of the house and made a little bit of cash doing it.
 
And then all too quick it was Sunday evening and the weekend was over.  Here’s hoping this week goes by quick and Friday rolls around soon!
This is what we have cooking this week:
 
Meal plan


Sunday | Cheese Tortellini with Homemade Tomato Garlic Sauce: our garden this year was the best it’s ever been and although they took a while to get going, our cherry tomato plants exploded (and we still have more coming!).  I had so many cherry tomatoes that I knew would go to waste if I didn’t do something with them so I decided to make tomato sauce because if there is one thing my hubby can’t get enough of, it’s pasta. I even got to use two tiny green peppers from our veggie crop as well!   

Monday | Asian Style Pork Chops: one of our new favourites, this recipe is so easy to make but has tons of flavour so I always get away with it.  I marinade the pork chops overnight and then serve with rice and veggies.

Tuesday | BFD: we actually missed out on our BFD last week so we are craving some breakfast food tastiness.  I think I am going to toast up some bread, slather it with cream cheese and then pop an over-easy egg on top.  Serve with fruit and enjoy!

Wednesday | Turkey Parmesan Meatball Casserole: I am trying this recipe and if the photo is true to life then it will not disappoint.


Thursday | Chicken Fajitas: nearing the end of the week is when we get lazy and in order to avoid slipping into fast food easiness, we need to have some fast and ready to go.  This recipe for baked chicken fajitas looks like just that.
 
 

Friday: I am out for dinner with my book club and the Mr. will probably get takeout.
 
Have you ever had a garage sale or are they a thing of the past?

 
Linking up with Bella and Lisa for the Weekend Recap, Biana, Monday Morning Gossip and Meg's Monday Mingle! 
Weekend Recap



 
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Thursday, 25 September 2014

A 9 Month Wait...

Not that 9 month wait!  One of our favourite summer traditions has officially come to an end for another year.  It’s bittersweet really… you get so invested over 3 months and with all the drama, chaos and buildup you can’t wait to see the final outcome.  BUT it also means another long 9 month wait until you get another fix. 
 
The Big Brother season finale was last night. 
 
And for the first time ever, my pick from day 1 won!  That would be Derrick, for those of you with lives living under a rock.  My hubby’s choice from the start was Donnie and I knew he would win America’s Favourite Player, but I figured pretty early on that there was no way he would go all the way.  I don’t normally get invested in the strategy and all that jazz (I am more of an emotional spectator who gets drawn in by personality and who wears the cutest clothes) but for some reason I took note at the beginning of the season when Derrick told the audience that he was an undercover cop but his strategy was to hide that from the other players and use his skills to basically manipulate everyone from behind the scenes.  The thing is, people come into Big Brother with all these strategies at the beginning but I can’t remember one that worked from day one.  Derrick’s did.  And he is the only houseguest to never be nominated! How crazy is that?? 
 
So basically, Derrick had his shit together and he totally deserved to win.
 
 Derrick Levasseur wins Big Brother 16
source
 
 
Five of my favourite moments from this season of Big Brother were (in descending order):
5) When Devin was evicted.  That dude made my skin crawl from day one.
4) Caleb and Amber’s super awkward date… it was so painful to watch but you just couldn’t look away.  And how oblivious was Caleb?? It was creepy and I am genuinely worried for any female he falls for in the future. 
3) Frankie winning a Battle of the Block competition on his own.  I wasn’t a huge Frankie fan but to see him win a competition on his own that was meant for two people was pretty amazing.  Caleb would have succeeded in his mission to lose had he actually chosen to play and fucked it up.  #hindsight
2) Zingbot’s zingers!  Not much explanation needed here, if I could come up with one-liners like his I would quit my job and head out on the road.  I laugh so hard I cry every. freaking. time.
1) Jeff proposing to Jordan.  Ummm can you say perfect couple?  I have the biggest woman crush on Jordan and would love to be her friend.  And I wouldn’t kick Jeff out of bed for eating crackers so there’s that.  Those two need a reality show!  Although they don’t really because couples with reality shows always break up so maybe they just need to appear on every season of Big Brother.
 
Jeff proposes to Jordan on Big Brother 16
source
Until next summer #BigBrother!
 
So what do we do now that we have 3 hours a week back??
 
 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Recipe: Perfectly Puffed Chicken Pot Pie

I pulled puff pastry out of the freezer on Saturday with every intention of making a yummy appetizer but as it tends to do, wine got in the way and the puff pastry ended up in the fridge.  The next morning I decided to do something fun for dinner so it wouldn't go to waste. My husband has been  incessantly nagging subtly hinting for homemade chicken pot pie.  I have never made chicken pot pie before because I'm actually not a huge fan of pie crust - unless it's filled with chocolate mousse and whip cream - and most chicken pot pies I have tasted had runny filling.   

But puff pastry?  Puff pastry makes everything better.  So I decided to scour the internet and find a chicken pot pie recipe with a thick flavourful filling. And I succeeded.  I am already planning to make these again!

Perfectly Puffed Chicken pot pie recipe


Adapted from this recipe

Using an oversized muffin tray, this recipe makes 6 individual pot pies.  I made four slightly larger pies but will investing in an oversized muffin tray because these pies are perfect for freezing!


INGREDIENTS
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 medium onion, halved, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • A handful of mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1 small rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup defrosted frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour, plus a sprinkle to roll out dough
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used 1% because that's what I had, the original recipe called for cream)
  • 1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 8-ounce sheet frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF

1 |  On medium-high heat, sauté mushrooms in 1/2 tbsp EVOO for approximately 5 minutes and then add 1/2 of the chopped onion and celery.  Cook for 3-4 more minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

saute mushrooms and onions

2 |  At the same time as the mushroom mixture is cooking in the frying pan, add the other 1/2 tbsp EVOO to a dutch oven on medium heat.  Add the chicken and other 1/2 of the chopped onion and stir regularly.


combine chicken and onion

3 |  Add frozen peas and corn to the mushroom mixture and heat through, approximately 1-2 more minutes.  

add peas and corn to mushroom mixture

3 |  Add the vegetable mixture to the dutch oven and combine thoroughly.  Remove from heat and set aside.

chicken mixture in dutch oven

3 |  Now it's time to make the gravy.  In the frying pan, completely melt the butter, then add the flour and cook one minute.  Whisk in the chicken and let thicken for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in milk and cook for another minute, whisking constantly.  And then add what I think is the key ingredient, the star of the recipe; dijon mustard (you don't get an intense dijon taste by any means but there is so much flavour!).  Also add the thyme and then salt and pepper to taste (don't taste too much or there won't be enough for the pie filling, I had to stop myself from eating it...)


chicken gravy

4 |  Remove gravy from heat and add to the chicken and vegetable mixture. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

chicken and veggie mixture with gravy

5 |  To put the pies together, spray the muffin tin (or in my case 4 small containers) with cooking spray.  Roll out the dough and divide into 6 (or 4) even squares.  Place each square in the container and then equally divide the chicken and vegetable mixture.  

chicken and veggie mixture with gravy

5 | Pull in all four points of the dough over the filling and pinch edges together to enclose.  

pot pie ready for oven

5 | Brush the top with the egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes, until crust is crisp and deeply golden.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Chicken pot pie ready to eat!

Chicken pot pie ready to eat!


These were delicious, my hubby even gave me an enthusiastic "GREAT!" when I asked how his chicken pot pie tasted (normally if he likes it he says it's ok so I knew this was a winner).  The pies were moist but not runny and had a ton of flavour, plus they were really filling.  Perfect for a nice Sunday dinner.  And these will definitely become a freezer meal staple!


What are your go to recipes for puff pastry?

Eat Drink & Be Mary

Monday, 22 September 2014

Big Bang Love (and Other Stuff...)

Good morning world!  The only reason that I am happy greeting a Monday is because I am so excited because... THE BIG BANG THEORY SEASON PREMIERE IS TONIGHT!  A FULL HOUR!  I apologize for the type yelling but TBBT is my favourite show.  I love a lot of shows past and present, but I choose this one over them all. I may or may not have discussed a friend's betrayal in this post that illustrates my obsession with the show. So if anyone needs me this evening I am unavailable #sorrynotsorry.

And so another week has started, another Friday countdown, and catch up time for me with everything I missed at the office last week.  Last week's training seminar went amazingly well and I met a great group of people from all over the world.  We even had a guy from Scotland and we kept teasing that he wouldn't be allowed back into the country if the separation vote went through.  When the results came in Thursday night he kicked off one heck of a celebration.  He also slept through breakfast and barely made it to the final session Friday morning... not that the rest of us were much better, I was downing Advil like candy.  I left work a couple hours early and passed out at home until my hubby dragged me out of bed for date night.  It was an early (and sober) one.

After sleeping like the dead I woke up and spent Saturday lounging around the house.  I didn't have any appointments or places I needed to be and after running around all week, it felt great to be lazy.  Taking advantage of the sun that appeared after 4 days of rain, I set myself up outside and got into the new read for my book club. We had a quiet night in catching up on PVR shows (ok I may have taken over the PVR to catch up on my chick shows but hubby kept himself busy) and crawled into bed at a decent hour.

Somersby cider
Saturday's hardest decision... start with pear, blackberry or citrus? (For the record: pear)
Milo in the sun
My chillaxing companion
Great Little Lies book
Spent some time reading our book club's latest pick... perfect read for a lazy day!

Sunday was another fairly quiet day, I ran a couple errands to make sure we were ready for the week meal-wise and then resumed my lazy weekend position.  I had to get as much rest in as possible because I am back at my side gig this week so have long days Tuesday through Thursday... hopefully I get into some sort of rhythm with this schedule.  Oh and a family nap, we love our family naps :)



I am excited for this week's meal plan, we are trying out a couple new ideas.



Meal-plan-for-dinners


Sunday | Beef Dips:  We have roast beef that was simmered for a few hours in au jus, the perfect meat slices for a beef dip night.  

Monday | Flat Bread Chicken Pizza: We bought some Turkish flat bread and if we don't use it up sooner rather than later it will go stale, so I'm thinking pizza?  We have pizza sauce, veggies, pepperoni and cheese.  Sounds like a winner to me and bonus - thin crust!

Tuesday | Pork Chops: I found a pork chop recipe that we both love and it's super easy so perfect for a week night meal

Wednesday | Macaroni and Cheese: I bought organic red lentil pasta from Costco and am going to try sneaking it into homemade macaroni and cheese.  I just hope it can pass as pasta for my hubby...

Thursday | BFD: Our old faithful Breakfast for Dinner... this is a good way to use up peppers, zucchini and mushrooms in a veggie 
egg scramble.  

Friday: Ordering in!

What do you have cooking up this week?

Linking up with Bella and Lisa for the Weekend Recap, Biana, Monday Morning Gossip and Meg's Monday Mingle! 

Weekend Recap



 
Mingle 240

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

BRB...

Hi Friends, I apologize but this week has been an epic fail on the blog front...  I thought I might be able to keep it up while I oversee the seminar we have at work this week but I'm just too busy to write anything effective (assuming that I sometimes write things that are effective ;) so I think the best plan is to get through this week and then start fresh next Monday.
 
Until then...
 
BRB... feeding my unicorn
 
 
 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Weekend Recap & Tasty Meal Plan

And another Monday rears it's ugly head all too soon. Remember that whole taking it easy and possibly even learning to meditate weekend I was planning? Yeah that didn't happen... but I did catch up with a friend I see rarely, planned a couple get togethers my mom and I are hosting, ate some delicious sushi (our new delivery spot for sure) had too many drinks in the sun, played with my camera and laughed a lot. It felt great to let loose and have fun.  It means that I didn't get anything on my list done but you know the saying - rules are made to be broken.

Hubby and I enjoyed a fairly quiet Sunday just hanging around at home.  I organized the kitchen and got lunch stuff ready for the week.  I am going to be MIA this week as we 10 people in town for a training seminar which means long days for me, but I am excited about meeting new people and observe the training sessions.  I organized a seminar in April for 24 people and it was a blast so I'm sure this one will be fun as well.
 
On a side note, you know how facebook suggests groups for you to join?  Below is the recommendation I got yesterday and I'm thinking they really need to qualify their members a bit better.  I'm not single and I'm pretty sure the wedding photos seen all over my profile reinforce that fact.  Also, if I were in fact single, I would not be looking for a girlfriend.  Friends who are girls, sure always happy to have more in my life, but I don't need to be single for those ones.   So yeah, facebook knows me really well.

We have been doing really well with our meal plans and even though I won't be here for a couple dinners we have some tasty eats planned.




Sunday:  I defrosted some puff pastry on Saturday for some appetizers I intended to make but never did, so I put my big girl panties on and made chicken pot pies for the first time.  And I nailed it.  They were delicious.

Monday: I will throw some prawns into a tomato cream sauce and boil some linguini and mix it all together.  Easy and tasty.

Tuesday: Hubby is on his own and making one of his favourites, fish tacos.  Tempura battered tilapia with coleslaw in garden veggie wraps.  He might be just a bit too excited about them...

Wednesday: I have been buying a rotisserie chicken and removing all the meat so it's quick and ready to throw in a dinner.  I will cut up some veggies and make chicken quesadillas to serve with a side salad.

Thursday: Another dinner I will miss so the Mr. is making himself BLT sandwiches with turkey bacon.  

Friday: Dinner out :)

What do you have coming up this week?

Linking up with Bella and Lisa for the Weekend Recap, Biana, Monday Morning Gossip and Meg's Monday Mingle! 

Weekend Recap


 
Mingle 240

Friday, 12 September 2014

Oh Hey Friday | Regroup. Refocus.

I am so relieved that today Friday.  Not just the normal ‘Yay! It’s Friday and I have a whole weekend of fun ahead of me’ but I need a mental break.  My weekdays are so jam-packed and I need to figure out a better way to survive function.   

In addition to working 8.5 hours a day with a  1-1.5 hour commute Monday through Friday, I have taken on a side gig that can really only be done during the week, after my other job.  So now three days a week I get up at the crack of dawn – actually it was still dark this week – so I can leave my day job by 3:30-4:00pm to do some side work.  And then I have to go home and make dinner, clean up, spend time with my hubby, crawl into bed… and then I try to blog.  I love this little space of mine.  I can’t remember the last time I felt so freaking excited as I do when I get a comment on a post or an email about my blog.  It makes me feel so so so good.  And right now I want to put so much energy into my blog but I am so exhausted and I feel like I’m doing the opposite and it’s actually suffering.  I have posts I want to write but have simply been too exhausted this week.
You may ask why I have taken on this side gig when it’s kind of wreaking havoc right now… well it’s an opportunity that was presented to me by a woman I truly admire, the closest thing I have to a mentor.  I jumped at the chance to work with her, to learn from her and I am determined to do what I have to in order to succeed.

I need to regroup. I need to focus.
And as a result, more Friday randomness coming your way…

1 | I want to try meditating
I need to clear my mind. I know what's important to me, I know what I want to do, I know what I need to do, but I feel like I need to shut everything out and empty my head. Relax. Breathe, really breathe. And then I can make a plan, map everything out and make it work for me and my family. 

I hear Oprah and Deepak’s 21 Day Meditation Experience works really well… have any of you tried it?
But let's be honest here - this is probably how it will actually go for me:
Meditation or wine for relaxation
source
 
2 | Blog love = SEO
My blog needs some serious SEO TLC. As in I'm basically not doing any. Thankfully I have been working with Kristyn from Chits and Giggles and she has found some great resources for me. I am actually really excited to work on this stuff and hopefully get some more exposure.


3 |Sales Plan
My new gig is all sales. I have never done sales so it's a steep learning curve for me. I need to strategize better, make a plan for say, a month at a time. I feel reactive and to be more in control I need to be proactive. If anyone has any sales tips or advice on cold calling, please send them my way!

4 |Coconut Oil
My skin is so awful right now! I am breaking out like I did in high school! And my rosacea is at an all-time high. So when I saw this posted on Instagram yesterday I took note... I haven’t been living under a rock so I have heard of all the benefits of coconut oil. I figure there is no harm in trying it on my face so wish me luck! I will keep you posted.


5 | SOA Season Premiere
Hubby and I wanted to re-watch the last few episodes of season 6 so we knew what was going on and we finished the last one last night. So tonight we are watching the premiere and I. am. so. excited. We are getting butter chicken from our favorite place, wine obviously, pjs and snuggling on the couch.
Oh and Jax. 


jax and tara SOA
source

jax teller and tara SOA
source

jax teller SOA
source
 
 

Linking up with Karli and Amy, and Leslie from A Blonde Ambition!


 
 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

To PSL or Not?

I got to my desk Monday morning and found a little present waiting for me from one of my colleagues.
 
Starbucks coupons
 
On Fridays I treat myself to a 'fancy' coffee, my favourite being a white chocolate mocha or as I like to call it Heaven in a cup (on vacation I even get the whipped cream). Monday through Thursday I drink office coffee made slightly better by all the flavoring crap I bring in to disguise the taste.  I simply can't bring myself to spend $5 every morning on a coffee plus I'm too lazy to take the extra 5-10 minutes to stop and get out of my car (no drive thrus on or even close to my route). So when I see the Starbucks coupons my heart (and wallet) do a little happy dance. And then I realize that there are TWO coupons for a pumpkin spice latte. PSL x 2? Really?
 
Starbucks PSL coupons
 
I have had exactly one PSL in my life and have even commented on other blogs that I'm not really a fan. The weirdest thing for me is the colour. Orange coffee? At Thanksgiving and Christmas I don't eat a whole piece of pumpkin pie but I always have 2-3 bites. Pumpkin loaf doesn't thrill me but I can wash it down with coffee. Brown coffee.
 
So I now have the coveted Starbucks coupons (seriously, I don't even know where he gets them) but two of them are for the infamous PSL. Can you see my dilemma? Do I suck it up and try it one (two) more time(s)? I could be super friendly and give the coupons to someone who loves PSLs... but I tend to be a glutton for punishment.
 
So... to PSL or not?

UPDATE! I did it, I gave it another shot (with only half the syrup to see if that would make a difference) and while I didn't hate it I won't be ordering another one.  So I have decided to give the other coupon away to someone who will appreciate it... as well as the two I received a couple days later.  Seriously?!