Halloween Dinner

I really wanted to make a super cute Halloween treat to show you. It didn’t turn out so great, so we also made a back-up recipe. I will share both.

Here’s the first:

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They are candy corn cookies. I followed this recipe, but I didn’t use food dye (I can never make orange, it always comes out pink, since I refuse to use the 75 drops of food colouring, or whatever it is). I used turmeric for the yellow and Kurt’s cheese colouring for the orange (it comes from some sort of seed), but you can easily use carrot juice.

The loaf pan I used was far too big. I realized this when I cut my cookies and they were only slightly bigger than real life candy corn. Some I baked as they were, others we smooshed down flat to make them a bit bigger, but much wonkier looking.

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They look strange, but they are still cute and they taste good, I promise!

Onto number two. This is for a savory Halloween (or just Fall) dish. Pumpkin gnocchi.

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Gnocchi is easy to make, but does take quite a bit of hands on time. The first step is either to roast a pumpkin, or used canned pumpkin. Once you have your pumpkin puree, you just need to add flour until it gets a dough like consistency. Then you roll out small bits into thin snakes and cut it up into bit size chunks. If you are feeling particularly fancy you can roll a fork over it to make little lines for the sauce to cling to.

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For sauce, we just used a simple creamy sage sauce, but the gnocchi is fairly bland so next time I would use either a tomato sauce, or something else flavourful.

Happy Halloween everyone!

A Short Trip to Ottawa

Last weekend we decided to take a little trip to our Nation’s capital. Though it rained and was cold, we managed to have a great time! We went to an antique show, the Byward market (a large indoor/outdoor market), toured Parliament and visited with an old friend. I forgot my camera, so these pictures were taken with my phone.

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Lunch, chili poutine and a chocolate milkshake. I ate the whole thing.

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Parliamentary Library.

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Having some tea with my fellow suffragettes.

It’s so nice to take little weekend trips that don’t require much planning, time or money. It is still fun and relaxing. Sometimes they provide the perfect change of pace we all need.

Seasonal/Holiday Decorating

I would love to have a house that changes with the season. The only problem is, the thought of storing all that holiday stuff the rest of the year makes me cringe. I remember every year hauling my Mom’s giant and plentiful Christmas decoration boxes out of the basement only to have to pack it up and haul it all back down a few short weeks later. Ugh. I think there is an alternative.

I prefer decorations that can magically go away at the end of the holiday or season. I’m not talking about throwing them away. I mean using things that can either be eaten, go back to nature, return to the recycling bin or just stay around and serve another purpose.

For a Christmas tree, for example, we use a little potted evergreen tree. At Christmas time we make some simple decorations to adorn it (stringed popcorn, paper stars, etc). In January, the stuff comes off and it’s just a regular, non-Christmas tree. It can be enjoyed all year round.

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For Fall we usually just keep some squashed arranged nicely on the table. We eat them and replace them as the season goes by. This year I upped my game and added some bright leaves and little pine cones to the display. And when the season changes, the squash all get eaten, or moved to cold storage.

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We also carve pumpkins, of course. Those can be composted afterwards.

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The one addition I would like to make is a wreath for the front door. I would like one that I would weave things into (ie. leaves, garland, flowers), and be able to change for each season. I haven’t come across anything cheap yet, but there is already a hook waiting for it on the door (it was here when we moved it), so I’m still keeping my eyes open!

How do you like to decorate for the seasons? Does storing things that only get used briefly bum you out too? Maybe it’s just me!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites

This recipe is a big deal to me. It is an answer to my pleas. It fills a hole I’ve felt in my life for a while. I see recipes for no-bake energy bites (and other no bakes things) on Pinterest and blogs all the time. Hopefully, I nearly always click on the recipe. Dates. The main ingredient is always dates. I not only hate dates, but pretty much ever dried fruit. I hate them to the point that if I accidentally eat something with a raisin in it, I will spit it out. My disgust with dates has left me in the cold while everyone else is enjoying lovely things. Until today. I have discovered a no-bake energy bite that not only contains no dates, but there is also no coconut (another offender) and it contains things that I regularly have (except for one minor substitution).

Here is the recipe. I didn’t use the cinnamon (though strangely, they ended up tasting a lot like it anyways, I think it’s the flax), the chocolate chips (to make them healthier) or the candy things (I’ve never seen those before). I also changed the chia seeds to hemp since that’s what I had. I also ground the almonds myself in the food processor.

They took about 10 minutes to make and they are definitely good. Kurt finds them a little dense and I find them a little cinnamony, but because I’ve been waiting so long, I just don’t care. They are wonderful.

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In Process

We are in the middle of so many big projects. Housework has fallen by the wayside, tools sit everywhere. There is an inch of sawdust covering everything upstairs. I have hopes that we will soon be finished and can concentrate on small jobs for a while. Here is some of our progress (and mess):

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Packaging Our Soap

Our soap is ready! We tried it and it’s just lovely. It’s super lathery and feels very moisturizing. We have tons of it and since we’d like to make more, we needed to get rid of some so that we don’t need to build a third story to house our soap. We decided to give some away as Christmas gifts, so this meant I needed to package it somehow. We were told at the class that castille soap needs to breath, so it shouldn’t be packaged in a way that it’s all covered. I thought about it for a bit, and this is what I came up with:

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I used brown kraft paper, tape, a sharpie and a stamp we used for our wedding. I think it turned out pretty cute. What do you think?

Minestrone Soup

We are in the middle of installing flooring for our whole upstairs. It is not an easy job. I made this soup because it only took a few minutes in the morning, then I left it simmering all day so that we would could have something delicious, warm and wonderful after a hard day’s work. This is a really good soup. It’s a cozy, cold weather, sitting on the stove all day type of soup.

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Start by chopping up two onions, three carrots, three ribs of celery and about half a large butternut squash. If you want to use meat you can use sausage, pancetta or bacon (I used thick cut prosciutto, because that’s what we had). Cut up the meat into small chunks and fry it in the bottom of a large pot. Then add the onions. Once everything is brown add in about 2 cups of wine (I used red, again because it was already there, but use whatever kind you like). Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add in a carton of broth and the rest of the vegetables. Add some salt, pepper and a little chili powder (if you feel like it). Add in a can of crushed tomatoes. Leave everything to simmer.

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Once the vegetables start getting soft add in white beans (I used Great Northern). I used about a cup I think. Tear up some kale and add it in. Turn the heat down to low. If it gets too thick, add more broth or water. It’s really good thick, though. A little before you are ready to eat, boil some pasta, anything small will work. To serve, put a few spoonfuls of pasta in a bowl, ladle in the soup and then put a little sprinkle of parmesan on top. Serve with crusty bread.

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