Monday, 24 November 2014

Some of my FAVOURITE Gifts to Give this Year

Well Friends, it's that time of year! CHRISTMAS!!!!! I frigging LOVE Christmas. I love the build up, the music, the parties, buying gifts...all of it! However, I find every year it gets harder and harder to give GREAT gifts. Let's face it...we're in a time where if you want something, you go out and buy it. Sure, there are a few things that people wait on, but those aren't thins I can afford to give them (no matter HOW amazing a Black Friday deal is!)

So, what I've decided to do this year, is put together a list of some of my favourite things to give/things that I'm giving this year. I promise this list is MUCH more affordable than Oprah's.

Disclaimer - this post was written completely of my own accord. I haven't received anything to write this post, I purely did it to tell you about some things I love and am excited about.

Chic Tags
Chic Tags 
I first came to know about Chic Tags through a friend of mine. I saw some of the beautiful things she had done and fell in love. Then, a short while later, I recieved something from Chic Tags as a gift from a friend and I was SOLD! I've been stalking her site from quite some time now and just recently settled on a piece (I can't tell you what in case someone is reading and sees this!) but I can tell you that it looks beautiful. These personalized pieces are fantastic for Mom's, Dads, ANYONE really. I highly recommend her product.

Declyn
Available Here


Clippo
So, I've been following the Clippo site now for about 3-4 years. I absolutely LOVED the product, but I never had anyone to but them for (and I'm not really sure J would want mitten Clips...even if he needs them!) In any case, Alex (the owner) had to shut down the site for a bit, but recently started back up again and I'm in love with EVERYTHING...seriously. Look at some of these...

$14 - Available Here

Mitten Clippos $14 - Available Here



Card Wallet $15 - Available Here
There are things for everyone & great shipping offers (if you're local, it's FREE!) Plus, you can feel good knowing, you're buying something local and from an outstanding lady!

CoreEssentials Fitness
You may or may not have heard me harp on before about how much I love my friend Anne. Anne is the one behind me running my first half marathon, getting my Zumba Instructors License and helped me find joy in exercising. Recently, I was reflecting on this and thought - what a great Christmas Gift for the person who has everything? Something to use in the New Year when you feel like your pants don't fit & you want to start fresh. I also promise you, one class with Anne & you'll be hooked - whether it's Pilates, Boot Camp, Tabata...whatever. I highly recommend a class pass! If you're interested, you can reach out to her on her Facebook Page!

If you're not local to CoreEssentials Fitness - Try searching your area for a unique & different exercise class. Maybe Hot Yoga or Pole Dancing (yes, it's a thing & yes, it's a lot of fun) or an Outdoor Boot Camp (if you're somewhere warm). This sounds cheesy, but the gift of fitness is a pretty amazing thing. Plus, while you're at it, pick something up for yourself to try in the New Year!
Baked (or not yet baked) Goods
Fudge

Bakery Charms
Okay, I am certifiably OBSESSED with this woman's work. I found her on Instagram about 6 months ago and I haven't turned back since. This lovely lady resides in Hawaii and hand makes ALL of her beautiful charms. Anything from Cake slices, Macrons, Cake Pops to a BANANA SPLIT and Cupcakes...I could go on. I'll show you a couple pictures here, but to really get the full effect, go follow her on Facebook...you won't regret it! Here are a couple of my faves:

Cake Pop - Available Here
Belgian Waffle - Available Here
And my personal favourite...

Coffee and Donut Earrings
Coffee and Donut Earrings - Available Here
ErinCondren.com
Believe it or not (and most of my friends probably won't believe this) but I LOOOVE calendars. At any given time, I probably have 5 or 6. Here's the thing...I write down differnent things on different calendars...and then forget half the things I'm supposed to do...SO, for the unorganized (or UBERorganized) friend in your life, enter Erin Condren. Her life planners and pretty much porn. They're well thought out, beautiful colours and you can personalize them. Now, they aren't cheap but considering they will help keep you (or your friend/mother/significant other) sane for one whole year...$50 is a small price to pay.

I love them all!
Available Here



THEN, we have gifts for people you want to give a little something too, but don't neccesarily want to buy anything...(this is where I shamelessly promote some recipes on my blog)

FOOD GIFTS!

The beautiful thing about food gifts, is you can make a batch and divvy up into a few different gifts. All you need is some cello, some ribbon and BOOM you have a gift.

Here are some that I enjoy giving:

Candy Cane Fudge



EggNog Truffles


 
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark



Another amazing idea (found on Pinterest, obviously) is to give a batch of FROZEN dough. That way people can save these treats for later (instead of feeling like they have to eat them right away) and they can bake the whole batch or one at a time!

Cookie Dough Label jpg
From Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Now, if you're looking for something personalized & unique I suggest you check out Etsy (I have already bought 3 gifts on there). I could get lost on that site for days! Plus, I love that when you buy something from that site, you're helping a small business grow.

For example...you cannot forget about your furry, four legged friends. Check out this adorable dog collar from Canine Designs:

Christmas Dog Collar, Santa  1 inch wide, adjustable
Available Here




OR *cough* for the baker in your life *cough* a little something special for them to look at while baking some amazing and delicious treats for you........

Kitchen Mixer Decal - Subway Vinyl Decal Kitchen Aid - Baking Cake Dessert - KitchenAid Mixer Sticker - Kitchen Aid Decal - Cuisinart Decor
Available Here
Finally, if all else fails...go to"Gifts" Board on Pinterest and find that perfect little something!

What are gifts that you are excited about giving this year? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Happy Holidays!

Lisa


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Peanut Butter Oreo Fudge


Yes, my dear friend, you read that title correctly. Peanut Butter OREO fudge. Something this delicious hasn't happened since chocolate and peanut butter we married together in the form of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup...true story.

Anyway, this has been 3 of the craziest weeks of my life INCLUDING the time I got married. I cannot express to you the absolute insanity that is my life right now. First it's work, then it's Zumba, then it's running, then it's a FLAT TIRE (fml). However, there is little that brings me peace like whipping up a batch of something delicious.

Enter: Peanut Butter Oreo Fudge

Originally I was going to try making Cookie and Cream fudge, but I realized a little too late that I didn't have white chocolate chips. I took to the trusty Google to help me find inspiration and lo and behold...I found a recipe from Sally's Baking Blog for easy, peanut butter fudge. I also had Oreos (meant for the cookie and cream fudge) and I decided to put the two together.

BEST THING EVER. Not to mention that this recipe makes enough for J to feel like he wasn't jipped AND enough to bring to work. That almost NEVER happens.

So here you are peanut butter lovers - buttery, sweet, fudgey, peanut butter happiness. Also, you can tell from the first two ingredients that this is SUPER low-cal.......... ;) 


Peanut Butter Oreo Fudge
Modified from Sally's Baking Addiction  

Ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Kraft)
1 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4 cups icing sugar
20(ish) Oreo Cookies, smashed
4-5 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chopped 

Method:

Line an 8 inch baking dish with tinfoil. Make sure there is enough so that the tinfoil hangs off the sides (this will help you lift this beautiful magic out once it has set).
In a glass bowl, placed over a pot of boiling water (or a double boiler if you have one), melt the peanut butter and butter together. I chopped the butter up first to get it to melt faster. Continue to stir until it is combined completely (it will be fairly runny at this point). Add the salt.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the icing sugar. It will seem kind of chunky and weird, but keep stirring until it is nice and thick. Don't worry if it kind of seems like cookie dough, that is a good thing!

Add in the Oreo cookies and make sure everything is evenly combined (no one likes Oreo peanut butter fudge with no Oreo...talk about disappointing).

Press the fudge (it's fudge! Aren't you proud of yourself!?) into the baking dish you prepared. Sprinkle chopped peanut butter cups over top and press into the fudge. Put in the fridge (or freezer if you want to eat it faster) and let set. You'll know it's ready when it feels like fudge...so, hard but not too hard. You know?

Slice and enjoy! Like I said, SUPER low cal, so don't worry if you have a couple pieces ;) 

**DISCLAIMER: This fudge is NOT LOW CAL. If anything, it has more calories that you should consume in a meal, so best enjoyed in small dosages...if you can...I won't tell**


Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Perfect Brunch Meal Plan

Remember that time I was all "GUYS I'M BACK" that I posted awhile ago? Yea, me too...I'm so sorry I haven't posted since that. Work has been monumentally busy and by the time I get home, make dinner and do the dishes, I'm pretty much done for the night. Due to this, I don't get a lot of oppertunities to try new things (baking wise) and any posts that I want to put up...well, they just don't happen.

However, I happen to have a Sunday morning with an extra hour (yay for daylight savings) and a quiet moment with my coffee, so I wanted to tell you about a SUPER easy & yummy brunch idea that I made last week when my Dad came over!

Here is the meal:


Bacon, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwhich

Homefries

Mimosas

I only had to make enough for 3 people, but this could easily be done with many, many more, like on Christmas Morning.

On a side note, my beagle just jumped up on me and sniffed my armpit...I think I'm in need of a shower. *Sigh*

Anyway, here is how to make this scrumptious meal! I don't have super awesome photos (had to take these with my phone) but you get the idea!

The Perfect (Easy!) Brunch Meal Plan
by: ME!

Serves 4
Ingredients:
The Breakfast Sandwhich
4 English Muffins
Sliced (or Shredded) Cheese - I did about 2 slices (from a brick of cheese) per person
6-8 Eggs (depends on your crowd, for my Dad & J I estimated 2 eggs each & 1 for me)
8-10 pieces of bacon (again, depends on your crowd) 

The Homefries
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
6-8 potatoes (allow about 2 per person, unless the potatoes you are using are HUGE)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Optional: Onions (we didn't use because my Dad doesn't like onions, but they would add a LOT of flavour to the homefries)

The Mimosas
Orange Juice (with a little pulp)
Sparkling Wine (I LOOVE the Barefoot for this) 

Method:
The only tricky thing to this meal is there is a LOT going on at once, do just make sure you're watching everything carefully. 

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line 2 baking sheets with tinfoil and lay bacon strips out side by side. Set aside.
 
2. Thoroughly wash and cut off any bruises on the potatoes. Cut into bite size cubes.  Add oil to a non-stick skillet and allow to warm up. Once skillet is ready to go, set to medium heat and add potatoes, salt & pepper. Stir around until potates are coated in oil & salt and pepper. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes. 

3. Once oven is heated, put bacon into the oven. Set timer for about 10 minutes. 

4. Once 10 minutes is up, take lid off potatoes and stir around, trying to flip over to other side. The side that was face down in the pan should be nice and crispy.

5. Check on the bacon, if it is sizzling, remove from oven and flip each piece to other side. Put back in the oven for about 8 minutes. At this point, you really want to watch the bacon to make sure it doesn't burn. Check every 3 minutes or so. 

6. Stir potaotes again, make sure they aren't burning. 

7.  Line another baking sheet with tin foil and lay the english muffins cut side up and lay cheese on top

8. Remove bacon from oven. Switch to "Broil" and put pan with English muffins and cheese in. Watch carefully. 

9. Cook eggs however you like them. I did mine scrambled. 

10. Check potatoes. At this point they should be done. If not, give another stir and let cook.

11. Remove English Muffins from oven. Add bacon & egg. Plate with a scoop of potatoes. 

12. Make Mimosas - fill your glass halfway with sparkling wine and fill the rest with orange juice!

Enjoy!

Lisa