Monday, April 30, 2012

Fun with Puff Pastry

Saturday night was my friends' Stag & Doe and it was a success.
The games were fun, the company was great, and the food was plentiful.
My contribution (food-wise) consisted of things I could do with puff pastry.
I went with the tried and true brie and balsamic red pepper jelly combo that I used for my friends' engagement party, and by request I made apple and brie also. I changed it up a bit though and made apple and brie turnovers rather than on puff pastry squares.
I also made the always declicious pizza-esque tomato, basil, and cheddar puff pastry tart.

To keep the middle pieces from becoming so soggy that you can't lift them off the pan, bake the puff pastry for a few minutes before adding the toppings. Then, once the cheese is melted and the edges gently browning, cut the tart into peices, seperate them, and bake them again for a few minutes.

These were a good idea. They're a good idea for any party where you know you'll be in the company of brie lovers.

Anyway that's it for now - if you want to get puff pastry crazy I highly recommend it. You can go sweet or savoury and use practically any combination of flavours and ingredients you want.
Some day I'll try to make my own puff pastry. It's a super intense process ... so, one day.
Not today.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Good News / Bad News

Good News:

I went for a run this morning after weeks and weeks of making excuses. My first since January!

Bad News:

I ran for 31 minutes and thought I was going to die. I have a 10k to run in 2 weeks. I definitely won't break the 50 minute mark this year.

Good News:

I've been cleaning the apartment like a fiend lately. It's really starting to look neat again nd I'm enjoying this decluttering process. Also: not pregnant! Not nesting.

Bad News:
Everything is covered in dust and everything remaining is John's and I can't (in good conscience) throw out his stuff (without him getting mad). But I don't think he's going to read 14 back issues of Ontario Out of Doors magazine. Right? He probably will. On the table they stay.

Good News:

I got a call from a hospital asking me to come in a write a med quiz next week - the first step in the hiring process! AH! It's also on a palliative unit that I would really love to work on. My best friend is a Social Worker on that unit and she put in a good word for me (I love her, I'm going to buy her a yacht).

Bad News:

It's a quiz. I have to pass with 80% or more. I hate medication calculations. I need to start studying for this quiz now because my potential future employment depends on it!

So this is me.
From now until Wednesday May 2nd.
And then again until June 6th when I write the CRNE.

I'll be cooking up a storm on Friday night/Saturday morning in preparation for my best friend's Stag & Doe so this weekend expect a cooking post (finally).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wedding Wednesdays: Menu Tasting

Of all the emails I've sent, people I've called, appointments I've booked, etc, in the wedding planning process, I think tasting every option on the wedding dinner menu might have been the most fun I've had so far.

John and I, along with our parents, arrived at the winery at 1 and sat down for a huuuuge lunch.
5 types of salad.
4 pasta dishes.
Appetizer plates of springrolls, crab cakes, and an antipasto platter.
5 main courses.
5 deserts.

Needless to say we were all stuffed before the pasta was cleared from the table.
What an experience!
I would recommend people plan weddings just to sample all of the food. Every course was delivered to the table family style, so we weren't just given bite-sized tastes of each possible choice.
In my excited state I forgot to take pictures of the first few courses (and I'm usually that person who takes photos of everything she eats). They did set up plated versions of each main course for us to take pictures of and to give us an idea of what the plated meal will actually look like.

Because we're choosin two main options (plus a vegetarian option) and they will be on the invitation reply card, here are some not-great pictures of the 5 main course options!
The descriptions are listed in front of each plate but reading it might be difficult.

We had 2 steak options, salmon, and 2 chicken options. We picked one beef and one chicken and will give people the option. We actually sort of mix and matched the two steak entrees for optimal taste.

Eating that much food reminded me of how fitted and unforgiving my dress is.
Good thing I won't be eating every possible thing on the menu next time.

Monday, April 23, 2012

2 Ideas for Cupcakes

I think I would be well suited to being everyone's bridesmaid. Partially because I'm just all-around awesome.
Mostly, however, it's because I really enjoy planning things and think I'm getting pretty good at it.

My best friend and her fiance are hosting their Stag & Doe this Saturday and I've jumped in with both feet.
I tried to grab a bunch of Dollarama items this past weekend (108 plates, 150 plastic shot glasses) but then had to take my party to Costco to pick up 360 assorted utensils and 240 red party cups.
Sorry, red solo cups.
Proceed to party.

Anyway, aside from buying more party cups than we will use, I've also started to put together a gift basket to be auctioned off to help the bride and groom -to-be raise wedding funds. So far I have a design your own coffee tumbler, an iced coffee tumbler, a mini cupcake pan, a spatula and whisk, and Martha Stewart's Cupcakes recipe book.
I obviously looked through the book and will likely scan some images before I wrap this gift up.
Two that particularly caught my eye were these ones:

Tres leches cupcakes and lemon-yogurt cupcakes with raspberry jam.
Neither recipe is available on her website so I may post the recipes to both when I make them... hopefully sometime this week.
I still don't have flour or butter.
But I did buy toilet paper!
And rainbow trout (ew) for John for dinner - he went fishing yesterday and caught two but let them go because he wasn't sure if he was legally allowed to be fishing where he was fishing. Shhhh.

In other news I finished ONCE AND FOR ALL today with school!
My BScN is complete - just need to worry about passing the RN exam and then finding myself a job.

Now I must learn how to cook fish.
Smelly, disgusting fish.
It's what's for dinner.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hello, baking, it's been awhile...

Tuesdays and Thursdays I don't start work until 3 and 4 respectively, which means I have leisurely mornings. Mornings in which I plan to go for a run, clean the apartment, but instead waste hours at a time on the internet or watching TV.

After doing the laundry (yay) I decided that this morning would be a perfect time to start baking again. I figured banana bread would be ideal as I currently have 15 bananas sitting on my counter.

But no flour. And no butter.
I think that's a sure sign that it's been way too long since I've made anything.
Going the easy route, I decided not to pass up the opportunity to bake and pulled out some rainbow bit cake mix and got to work.
It'll make John happy when he gets home.

Also sad news for those of you who use picnik to edit photos: it's closing down today.
From now on I'll be testing out my photo editing at a different site.

Time to fold the laundry before gettin ready to head to work.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wedding Wednesdays: Save the Date Cards

*This post was scheduled to go up yesterday but for some reason it didn't... so the first of the Wedding Wednesdays series will be on a Friday.

One thing I started planning almost immediately after our engagement was the save the date cards.
After buying every bridal magazine I could find, I came across this adorable idea in Martha Stewart Weddings and knew it was what I wanted to send out to family and friends.

To make these scratch cards I bought some silver metallic acrylic paint, cardstock paper, and that plastic-y paper you can slip photos into. I bought that last one because after reading the comments posted under the instructions on it became apparent that a lot of people were having problems with scratching the date right off with the paint!
Some suggested putting tape over the date. I tried and it looked awful. So not wanting to paint directly over the date hearts, I cut strips of that plastic paper and stapled them over the hearts.

First you need to download the template found here.
Fill in your information - this invite can be used for a number of things/events.
Print out onto cardstock paper and attach the plastic strips over the hearts.
Mix 2 tbsp of the acrylic paint with 1 tbsp of dish soap. I used a grapefruit scented soap hoping that it would add a nice scent to the final product but it didn't so feel free to use plain ol' dish soap.
Paint carefully over the hearts on the plastic and let dry. You may need to do a second or even third coat of paint.
Once they're dry you are ready to mail them out, but don't forget to include a penny to scratch the date off with.
Or save your pennies as they're going out of style pretty soon.


A few people chose not to scratch the paint off and just lifted up the plastic to find the date to preserve the integrity of the card.
I get it, cause I have about 10 extras just as keepsakes.

We're getting our invitations under way tonight!

Next Wednesday: Menu Tasting!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm Back!

After an almost 5 month hiatus I am happy to say that I once again have time (and things) to blog!

I started a hectic consolidation nursing practice in January - squeezing in 384 hours of clinical practice between school assignments and working 20-ish hours a week. It didn't leave a lot of time for cooking, baking, or blogging.

I finished my last day of placement earlier this month and attended my last conference class yesterday. All of my assignments are handed in and I have only one more 30 minute meeting to go to before I am done with this degree.

It's insane that another 4 years have gone by and I am one exam (a big one though) away from being an RN.
Also one job away from being an employed RN but we'll take that one day at a time.

I'm working at my part-time job still but now I can come home from work and relax, read up on some study material, and do the things I have missed since Christmas.

First thing on the agenda: Clean my kitchen!

(Click on the picture to get the full effect)
My teeny tiny little kitchen was a disaster. I did, however, give it a BIG clean-out last month during reading week so all of the cupboards are fairly organized. All it needed was a good washing of the dishes and a scrub of the stove and counters. Voila. A kitchen fit to cook in.

You may also recall that I am getting married in about 4 1/2 months.
To combine things I love (planning + crafting + blogging), and to get myself back in the blogging habit, I have decided to introduce a new series called

Every Wednesday I'll blog about something wedding related - without giving away too much, as 98% of the people reading this will be at the wedding.

John and I were down in the Niagara area this past weekend to do some more planning.
We figured out our flowers, booked an officiant, stayed at one of the hotels we blocked (the Super 8 which was awesome), looked into rehearsal dinner locations, and did our menu tasting.

We also visited a few wineries in our spare time between appointments.
And bought a few bottles to enjoy with the rest of our planning.

There are 8 bottles there.
Cave Springs Chenin Blanc might be my new favourite.

Back tomorrow for the very first Wedding Wednesday!