Friday, 30 November 2012

Butter Chicken Lasagne

I have a fantastic recipe to share with you all today!!! Last week the hubs was watching Recipe to Riches and saw a chef making Butter Chicken Lasagne. He immediately called me and told me that I had to find that recipe and make it immediately.

I couldn’t find a recipe online on the Food Network, so I thought I better find my own! A little while ago I had purchased this Butter Chicken seasoning from Epicure Selections, but hadn’t had a chance to try it out. This was the perfect opportunity! It was super easy to put together, and the recipe came together seamlessly.
I planned to use the butter chicken in place of marinara sauce in a regular lasagne-style recipe. My husband said that it was one of the best things he had ever eaten, and he ate three huge pieces. I ran up to my local Indian shop and picked up samosas for a side dish – they made it the perfect meal!
Butter Chicken Lasagne
The ricotta cheese is totally missing from the photo!!
2 lbs chicken, cubed
1 large onion, diced
2 tbsp butter
1 pkg Epicure's What's For Dinner? Butter Chicken Recipe Seasoning Mix
1/2 cup (125 ml) crushed tomatoes
1 cup (250 ml) water
2 lbs (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup (125 ml) cream, sour cream, or thick yogurt (I used Greek Yogurt)
1 package oven ready lasagne noodles
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in large frying pan or skillet. Add onions and cook until lightly golden. Sprinkle contents of Butter Chicken Recipe Seasoning Mix over onions. Stir while cooking for 1 minute.

Stir in tomatoes and water and bring to a boil. Add chicken and simmer for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked. Remove from heat. Stir in cream or yogurt and let cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, mix together ricotta cheese and shredded mozzarella. 
Layer three lasagne noodles in the bottom of your pan. Cover with 1/3 of the butter chicken and 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Repeat three times. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.
Loosely cover the pan with foil and bake at 375F for one hour, removing the foil for the last ten minutes to broil the cheese.

I will hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full of Lemons, Delightful Order, Doodles and Stitches and Joyful Homemaking.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

A Countdown to Christmas, Part 2 (The Advent Calendar)

My family loves Christmas, and all of the fun and exciting activities that go along with this wonderfully festive season.  We have a few fun ways that we get together and celebrate our countdown to Christmas, check out my last post about our Christmas reading countdown.

In order to plan and make sure to fit all of these fun, exciting activities in the 24 short days before Christmas. Last year I put together an Advent activity calendar, and today I am going to share it with you!

I found a big old picture frame, removed the glass and matting and got to work! I sprayed the glass with some frost spray paint, and wrapped the frame backing with Christmas gift wrap. Putting the spray side on the inside of the glass, I put the glass back on the frame and added the activity envelopes to the front of the glass.

I used little tiny envelopes from the dollar store, put some red cardstock on the front, cut out some little trees, punched out some pretty blue snowflakes and glued them all together. Then I used some velcro strips, cut them into little squares and used them to affix the envelope to the glass. This way we can detach and reattach the envelopes every year.

We named our Advent calendar Our Extraordinary Merry Christmas Countdown (after our fave song from the Glee Christmas CD).

I asked the girls to sit with me and think of all the fun things we wanted to do this Christmas. I printed out their suggestions, and then I got out my calendar, plugged in the events that require driving somewhere, or that all family members be present, and then put the rest randomly in the envelopes.

Each morning, as the girls eat their Yummy Mummy Oatmeal (recipe to come next week!)they get to open the daily envelope and see what fun activity we have planned. Just a tip!

Make sure you write down what is planned for each day - otherwise you might pull "have hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles" and have neither hot chocolate nor marshmallows in the house!

Here are the plans for this year's Advent calendar - it's going to be fun, maybe you could join us for a date or two!

1. Go see a Christmas Movie together
2. Wrap up a new toy and gift it to charity
3. Make a paper chain and ornament for the Christmas Tree
4. Go to Starbucks for fancy hot chocolate
5. Make paper snowflakes and hang them in the window
6. Fill bags of food for the Christmas hamper


7. Have snowman pancakes for dinner
8. Take pictures with Santa
9. Go shopping for presents for each other
10. Elf Yourself day
11. Go to the Christmas train
12. Make a Christmas cookie tree
13. Drive around town in our jammies and check out the Christmas lights
14. Make a Christmas craft
15. Go to a Christmas party
16. Have hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles
17. Make a bow wreath
18. Bake treats for the neighbours


19. Deliver cards and gifts to the neighbours
20. New Christmas socks for everyone!
21. Make a card for Daddy's stocking
22. Christmas music dance party
23. Bake a birthday cake for Jesus
24. Put carrots out for the reindeer and chips and cheesy salsa for Santa (Miss A's request!!)
I hope you enjoyed this post - I know I had fun putting it together!  I will hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full of Lemons, Delightful Order, Doodles and Stitches and Joyful Homemaking

A Bowl Full of Lemons

A Countdown to Christmas, Part One (Basket of Christmas Books)

I love Christmas. L.O.V.E. it. I can't wait to do the shopping, the baking, the wrapping, the visiting, the pictures with Santa, I love it all.
Last year I made a Advent Calendar for the kids, so that each day we could do something fun in the month leading up to Christmas. I am updating the advent calendar this week, when it's done, it will be Part Two in this Christmas Countdown post.

My girls love books, and we read three or four books every night before bed. We have a few Christmas/Winter books, but I needed a few more to finish this project. I ordered a ten pack of books through Miss E's school to round out the stack.
I asked my little sidekicks for help with the wrapping (which is hard for me... I can't handle it when the paper isn't crisp and the wrapping nice and neat...).

The girls picked two books each and wrapped them in last year's Christmas wrapping paper.

Each night before bed, one of the girls gets to go to the Christmas tree and pull a wrapped story book out from the basket. I have numbered the books 1-24 so they can pick the appropriate book each night. I made sure to have stories about the nativity and the First Christmas in the week before Christmas.
I hope the girls enjoy this new tradition as much as I have enjoyed putting it together for them.

I will hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full of Lemons, Delightful Order, Doodles and Stitches and Joyful Homemaking

Gift Wrap Storage and Organization

Who is ready for Christmas?!? I can honestly say that I am! I may not have every last card written or every last cookie baked, but I have the toughest task of all completed.  Yup! With the exception of a few odds and ends and a few little stocking stuffers, I am FINISHED Christmas shopping!
Last week the hubs put up the Christmas lights outside and I assembled the tree and then together we decoarted with our favorite family ornaments.
Now it's time for the fun part - wrapping! Before I get started, I like to make sure I have all of the right tools to get the job done quickly and efficiently - especially because I have to wrap while tiny little prying eyes could peek around the corner!

To organize all of the gear needed for wrapping, I use a big under-the-bed bin and fill it with little boxes and baskets to help sort out the supplies. This way, I can grab one big bin and take it whereever in the house I will be wrapping.

Then comes the supplies:

Gift Wrap:  I start each wrapping season with a giant roll of double sided wrapping paper from Costco. They cost about $10, and are great quality, really thick paper. They also come in really cute patterns. I use the giant roll to wrap all of the gifts we buy for family and friends. I also pick up two smaller rolls of coordinating paper in other colors to wrap Miss A and Miss E's gifts. Rather than label them, each child gets their gifts wrapped in a specific paper, so they are easier to identify during the chaos of Christmas morning!
Boxes and Tissue Paper:  I keep some dollar store gift boxes that I wrap in my pretty paper for wrapping clothing and odd-shaped items, as well as tissue paper for filling in the space in the boxes.

Adhesives and Ribbon: Gather up some peel and stick gift labels (I get mine at Dollarama) and a whole bunch of scotch tape (don't want to run out halfway through wrapping). I also pick up some curling ribbon from the dollar store to hold multiple gifts together.

Cards: I keep a supply of regular gift tags and card in the wrapping bin. I use this setup year round, so there is a selection of blank and regular greeting cards, organized by occasion in one of the boxes in the big bin. I keep a couple of pens in the bin for card writing too!
Cutter: The most important tool in the entire wrapping paper bin is this little beauty. It is a magical wrapping paper cutter. There is a little blade inside the do-hickey that cuts the paper perfectly and makes the whole process so much quicker!
Well there you have it, my gift wrap organization and the tools needed for quick, pretty gift wrapping. Now if you haven't started your shopping, hop to it!!

I will hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full of Lemons, Delightful Order, Doodles and Stitches and Joyful Homemaking

Leftover Chicken Pot Pie Recipe (and Freezer Meal!)

Who loves Chicken Pot Pie? We do!! One of my favorite things to do with the Thanksgiving leftovers is to mix them all up in a big dish, add some extras to bring it all together and then turn it all into Chicken Pot Pie filling.
I picked up a couple of rotisserie chickens when I was in Costco and after making dinner for the family from part of the first chicken, I used the rest of the chicken meat to create two delicious dinners!
The ingredients for this recipe are pretty flexible, I just use whatever leftovers I have on hand. If there isn't enough mashed potatoes, I may whip up a package of instant mashed potatoes, or make a box of stove top if I'm short on leftover stuffing.

The trick to this recipe is how to tie it all together. I use cream of chicken soup as the binding agent for this pie. It is super creamy and is like a super yummy gravy in the pot pie. I top it off with a store-bought pie crust, only on the top of the pie. I don't know why exactly, I just prefer to have a top crust on my pot pie!

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
This recipe will make enough chicken pot pie filling for two dinners.
4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 box stove top stuffing
2 cups vegetables (I usually use a frozen blend of peas, corn and carrots)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pie crust (store bought or homemade, you decide!)

In a really big bowl, mix together the chicken, potatoes, stuffing, and veggies. Stir in cream of chicken soup and mix until well combined. Scoop half of the pot pie filling mixture into your favorite pie dish. Cover with pie shell, pulling the crust to all of the edges of the pan. 
Scoop the remaining pie filling into a ziploc freezer bag, mark with its contents and freeze to enjoy for dinner another night.
Bake in a 400F oven for 40 minutes, or until the pie shell is golden on top.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! You will see it on our menu plan often! I'll hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full Of Lemons, Delightful Order and Joyful Homemaking.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Chili Hot Chocolate Cookies

Every year I host an amazing baking event at my house. I have invited my favourite friends and relatives to bake up some cookie goodness and come over to share them with each other. 

This year will be the 7th Annual Christmas cookie exchange, and since I try to make a new type of cookie each year, it was time to get baking and make a test batch of cookies!
Since I wanted to try something different, I thought I’d try a spicy cookie! I did some googling and found that Martha Stewart has a Chili Hot Chocolate Cookie that had great reviews. I usually don’t like Martha’s recipes because they seem to have random weird ingredients that I wouldn’t want to try in a cookie, or don’t keep on hand in my house.  This time around, I read the reviews and made a few changes and pulled together a yummy new recipe.

I brought these cookies, piping hot out of the oven with me to the school when I went to pick up the girls and all of the parents who got to try them out loved the chocolatey goodness and the bit of kick from these cookies.

Chili Hot Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from
Martha Stewart

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chile powder or cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down side of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined. Add chocolate chips and mix until combined.
In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and chile powder/cayenne pepper. Using a medium cookie scoop, form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place, about 3 inches apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minute. Let cookies cool on wire rack and store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

I will hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full of Lemons, Delightful Order, Doodles and Stitches and Joyful Homemaking.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Simple Living Lesson #6 - Outgoing

Do you love these flowers?
 I took this photo at a photography workshop last year.
Hey all! I am happy to have you back here, following along with the Simple Living Lessons from Simple Living: Thirty Days to Less Stuff and More Life. Last week we talked about streamlining the incoming clutter in the house - the junk mail.

This week involves finding ways to streamline the clutter going out of your home. For the two years or so I have been on a major cleansing, decluttering path. I have purged clothes, toys, kitchen gadgets, pretty much everything thing in sight.
How does your household deal with outgoing clutter? What works in our house is the Donation Station. We have an Ikea laundry hamper in the corner of our spare bedroom where outgrown clothing and unused household items are stored until I have a chance to take them to the second hand store. 
Between clearing the drawers and closets and bins and shoes for my Forty Bags in 40 Days Challenge (more on that later in the week) our donation station is pretty full! I think I'll be making a trip to the VV Boutique later this week.

Another way to help streamline the flow of excess clutter out of our home is to have an out-of-here shelf. We have a little area in our front entryway where I put anything that needs to be returned - library books, something to go back to my mom's house, something to return to the store. If I have all of the "outgoing" stuff in one place, hopefully I'll be more likely to remember to return it to its rightful owner when I leave the house.

Of course, if you are very organized, you may have a Sell Pile. I will be honest, I'm pretty lazy and most of the stuff I am purging I couldn't be bothered to try to sell. However, if you are purging things of value, you may benefit from some Craigslist postings. A couple of tips though - price things to sell, so you aren't holding on to them for ages and ages. And if it doesn't sell quickly, maybe you need to rethink selling it and just donate it!
Sometimes you need help with a big purge, I have a couple of cute little sidekicks!
If you are following along with these Simple Living Lessons, you are already practicing some of these decluttering techniques. Hopefully I can give you some tips on other ways to live more simply. I don't think I will ever be finished purging things out of the house (kids grow out of clothes and toys, I get bored with decor items) but hopefully with less stuff in the house, we have room for more living!

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it! I will hopefully be linking this post up with A Bowl Full of Lemons, Delightful Order and Joyful Homemaking. Have a great week!


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