Monthly Archives: January 2014

Buffalo Chicken Taquito Wraps

Last week, I went a little wrap crazy.  It’s all part of my continuing effort to try new recipes.  I have literally thousands of recipes in categorized boards on Pinterest, as well as a whole bunch torn out of magazines, so I try to make one or two new recipes a week mixed in with old favourites.  So last week, I made a batch of cheeseburger wraps, and a batch of buffalo chicken taquito wraps.  They were a nice change since they’re so easy to pack for lunches, and both had lots of protein and flavour.  Today, I’m going to share the chicken recipe with you.  It was delicious!  Flavourful, filling, and with a bit of kick – Nick even ate a few for dinner!  Plus it instilled a new love for the buffalo sauce, which I even made on some leftover rice at one point!  So, let’s get cooking 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Taquito Wraps (adapted from Deal Wise Mommy)

Ingredients

  • 4 cup(s) of chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 5 large flour tortillas
  • 10 slices of light marble cheese, from a brick
  • 4 ounce(s) of light cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup(s) of Frank’s hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup(s) of milk
  • 2 tbsp. of butter
  • 1 tsp. of seasoning salt
  • 1 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. In a fairly large pot on medium heat, melt butter.
  3. Add seasoning salt and garlic powder, mix well.
  4. Add cream cheese and mix until melted and uniform.
  5. Add in hot sauce and milk, combine well, and simmer for about 7 minutes.
  6. Add salt to taste, mix again.
  7. Add chicken to pot, remove from heat, and mix until fully coated and uniform.
  8. Lay out your 5 tortillas, evenly divide the chicken between them, in the centre.
  9. Place 2 slices of marble cheese on top of each tortilla, on top of the chicken.
  10. Roll up tightly like a burrito, and place on a greased baking dish (I used an 8”x8” deep dish).
  11. Brush wraps with vegetable oil on all sides.
  12. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

The end result is tasty, with a nice crispy wrap and warm, spicy filling.  I guess to really make it Buffalo style, it would be served with blue cheese dip and maybe some celery sticks.  That wasn’t really practical for a work lunch, though, which was the purpose this time around.  I really loved the way the sauce turned out.  Like I said above, I actually whipped it up on some leftover rice when I was hungry, by basically topping my cold rice with cream cheese, hot sauce, garlic powder, and seasoning salt, then heating it up, and mixing it all together – yummy!

What are you guys cooking up these days?

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Haven in the Cold

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about hibernating.  I’m sure it’s not that unusual, since most animals are probably doing exactly that this time of year, and back in simpler times even humans would have food and resources stored up so they could stay indoors, rest a bit more, and plan for the coming warmer times.

Right now, though, especially as we face another deep freeze from the arctic here in Toronto, my thoughts are deeper than simply the act of storing up energy and sleeping more – though we could all use some more sleep, I’m sure.  What’s been calling me lately is not just finding an escape from the cold, but rather seeking and resting in a source of warmth, comfort, and peace.

Where do you turn when the cold winds of life start whipping around you?  Where do you go when you feel yourself being overtaken by the cold and anxiety and confusion and blizzards?  What familiar things does your heart begin to seek when each step seems to be into the bitter cold and unrelenting frost?  These are questions with small answers, and big answers.

This is a great time to revive favourite winter traditions or treats.  Sometimes, a hot cup of tea and a good book are all that is needed.  I myself like a warming, flavoured coffee, hot chocolate – or even the occasional mulled wine!  Hearty hot dinners are also perfect this time of year – we’ve had chili, macaroni & cheese, and I’m sure I’ll be making my artichoke chicken dip again pretty soon as well.  In these times of cold, we light candles, snuggle under blankets, and linger in hot baths and showers.  We slip into cozy pajamas once we get home, and curl up close like little kittens.

This is also a reflective time for me, a time of re-centering.  I find myself huddling in even closer to my husband, to our marriage.  We already act like smitten newlyweds, but even with that I feel a sense of renewal.  I feel a deepening connection to family, and bonds that are so strong, they are written in blood and love.  Even more than that, I’m deepening my faith.  I find my mind often reflects on the amazing message of the Bible, the utterly amazing gift extended to us through Jesus, and I am humbled and brought to my knees by it.  I am in awe, and thankful, because I know that there is nothing I could ever do to deserve such goodness and love.  Knowing this, I know that no storm is too much, or too harsh for me.  Nothing can even come close to the great love that surrounds me, and I am so grateful for it.

What do you rest upon in stormy times?  What is your haven in the cold and darkness?

East Texas Caviar

Hello dear friends!  I hope the dramatic weather this winter hasn’t dampened your spirits, and I know I’m definitely enjoying the milder temperatures right now.  We are now fully in the dead of winter, and after the tinsel-trimmed beauty of December, it can get a little dreary – that’s one reason I actually like Valentine’s Day haha!  It may be fabricated, but at least it’s a pop of fun bright colours!

Another way I try to keep the winter blahs away is by whipping up tasty food!  Well, I love making yummy dishes all year, but I find winter can be the toughest for me to be creative with – the siren call of easy carbs (and even mac & cheese!) gets harder to tune out, and I’m usually a bit reluctant to spend loads of money on produce because it has to come from worlds away.  Happily, I’ve got a recipe today that’s not only easy and healthy (and great for those resolutions), but also full of delicious flavour!  It comes from one of my favourite blogs, Biblical Homemaking, and she calls it East Texas Caviar, so we’re going with that 🙂

East Texas Caviar (original recipe here)

Mix together the following:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (2 cups fresh)
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed (2 cups fresh)
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed (2 cups fresh, I use frozen)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • juice of 3 limes
  • dash of cayenne
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • salt, to taste

Once well mixed, let sit in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Serve over lettuce, greens, or rice.

I love this recipe because it has a really fresh tex-mex taste to it, and I’ve even eaten it just by itself!  I find I prefer to leave my cherry tomatoes whole rather than chop them like the original recipe, but that’s because the recipe lasts me a few days, so I like the tomatoes to be juicy!

It sounds like a simple light salad, but don’t be fooled – the chickpeas and beans pack a punch in terms of protein!  This is definitely a bit higher than you’d think in terms of calories, but it is packed full of amazing nutrients!  I love this option for a cheap, filling, and delicious vegetarian meal – and we’re not even vegetarians!

I am having a bit of a chickpea phase right now, seeing as I’ve also done Mediterranean Chickpea Salad, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow’s Chickpea Soup recently.  I’ll be remaking this recipe soon, and maybe tossing it over some broccoli slaw, yummy… and who knows?  Maybe this chickpea phase will last long enough to yield some homemade hummus!

I Love… Lists

Hello, dear readers!  How are we all doing on our New Year’s Resolutions?  If you’ve still kept yours, you’re likely one of the few haha 🙂  One common resolution people make is getting more organized, and anyone who knows me well in real life knows that I’m a little crazy for organizing.  Like twisted.  I find great joy in labelling things, organizing things, and don’t even get me started on file folders.  I have been known to jump around wide-eyed, squealing “file folders!” like a little child – a little quirk that started when we were planning our wedding, and I realized my wedding planning kit had colourful, labelled file folders.

I love filing so much…. and lists.  I actually have a spreadsheet in Google Drive called Organizing Lists, which never ceases to amuse Nick.  But seriously, that spreadsheet kind of runs my life.  It’s got the master shopping list (yes, I keep a perpetual shopping list), master to-do list, mailing list for Christmas cards, a tab where I plan out our weekly menus and grocery lists, books to read, restaurants we’ve liked or want to try, wines we’ve liked or want to try, coffee flavours for our Keurig we’ve liked or want to try, packing lists for various occasions…. it’s pretty awesome.

Anyways, since we’ve been having so much fun in the new place, I thought I’d share my home list with you guys, and then we can revisit it later to see progress – yay!  So, I give you, our home list, organized by room, and showing what’s been done as well, and also ideas we’re currently mulling over.

Hallway & Entryway

  • install entryway art (move over the Chicago canvas), wall shelf, and wall hooks to create a mini-mudroom
  • buy a sleek looking key catcher dish and piggy bank for the aforementioned shelf
  • procure and install art (likely a canvas) to cover old intercom speaker
  • look at some different options for shoe storage (something wall mounted and closed?)
  • buy iron & ironing board (this would likely be stored in an entryway closet)

Bathroom

  • fix ugly towel wall – with some semi-gloss white paint
  • install pretty towel rings or hooks for face towels
  • secure bathtub hardware to wall
  • buy bathtub headrest
  • find a cute standalone way to store extra toilet paper rolls – we’re thinking cute basket on a shelf, yet to be installed
  • buy cute toiletries dish to put on top of toilet tank
  • buy cute seashells/stones for toiletries dish, use to display mini toiletries for guests
  • spray paint cabinet hardware (currently in the running, chrome and oil-rubbed bronze) – maybe?
  • install instant granite countertop (yay renter solutions) – maybe?
  • find some cute art for bathroom, maybe a skyline or beach scene
  • frame the mirror – an idea/maybe item?
  • find cute covers for light bulbs – again, a maybe item?

Kitchen

  • buy and install wire shelving add-ons
  • remove kitchen doors into main room
  • spray paint cabinet hardware (currently in the running, chrome and oil-rubbed bronze) – maybe?
  • try growing food from scraps/urban farming
  • install instant granite countertop – again, renter solution – maybe?
  • figure out some sort of bar/beverage storage – maybe DIY?
  • buy leather parsons chairs for kitchen table
  • get a kitchen table
  • receive our Nutrafarms shipment and freezer

Bedroom

  • make & install custom headboard – need wood, foam, spray adhesive, batting, vinyl (in chocolate?  cream? black?), staple gun
  • find and install tieback hooks for curtains – a maybe item
  • hang up guitar on wall for Nick
  • create bedside vanity for Delia
  • look into creating a coffee nook with a Keurig machine, coffee accoutrements, and a mini fridge
  • find/make some art for the bedroom
  • hang a large mirror facing the bed (likely flanked by art on each side)
  • review & clean out under bed storage
  • review & clean out closet
  • buy, assemble, start using Ikea Malm dressers
  • install ceiling-hung curtains
  • drape archway in white Lill curtains
Living Room & Office
  • build custom desk with storage – paint desk semi-gloss white, cabinets TBD
  • upgrade filing box on desktop – paint a pretty colour, get new hanging folders in one colour, label folders – or maybe get a new pretty one?
  • review & clean out filing cabinet
  • review & clean out electronics box
  • wall mount our TV
  • organize stray CDs into a CD Binder
  • get opaque liners for curtains – a maybe item
  • find and install tieback hooks for curtains – a maybe item
  • create a pretty picture frame setup on a wall
  • spray paint doorknobs in chrome/ORB – or replace – maybe?
  • save up for a massage chair
  • spray paint serving tray, vases in chrome
  • install ceiling-hung curtains
  • buy 2 Ikea Poang chairs
  • set up home phone

Whole Home

  • install some gorgeous mirrored wall sconces  and decorative items
  • replace generic light fixtures with something nicer in entry and kitchen

Balcony

  • get balcony hanging table for patio chairs
  • sell/get rid of gumball machines
  • find cute outdoor table to eat out on balcony

So, there you have it, our ginormous list of stuff that we’re planning, but who knows?  It might change – we had our hearts set on an Expedit TV stand for a while, and now we’re going to DIY something that will fit even better.  You can see that progress is definitely happening, it’s just taking its sweet time.

What about you guys?  Tackling anything around the house?  Any organizational freaks like me?  Tell me I’m not the only one.(Picture of lady with list from From Sarah With Joy at http://fromsarahwithjoy.blogspot.ca/2014/01/how-lists-might-be-enabling.html )

Stylishly Warm

Hello, sweet readers!  I hope you are all keeping yourselves warm and cozy, especially as we weather this “polar vortex”, which sounds way cooler (metaphorically) than it’s been.  And in case anyone is reading from Australia, hope you’re keeping cool, and would you like to trade places? 🙂

Now I expect that being in Canada, winter will be cold and snowy and, well, wintery.  However, usually I can get by with the Toronto downtown uniform of a nice wool coat, scarf, and boots (and sometimes gloves).  Usually I can wear a skirt or dress to work, with nylons of course, nothing too alarming or bitingly cold. Basically usually I head outside looking like this:

And after receiving a lovely coat for Christmas from Nick’s parents, the late holidays into early 2014 looked like this:

However, neither of those would stand up to the temperatures we’ve had recently.  They are warm, and work well, but once you get below about -15 they start to be insufficient, even with piled on layers.  Time to call in the heavy duty stuff.  Personally, I’m not a big fan of the puffy style of coat, since it reminds me a bit too much of snowsuits.  For me, it meant pulling out my precious Danier long leather coat.  It’s an amazing soft leather (lambskin, I think?) in a red wine colour, and it’s stood up to the coldest winters I’ve ever had to deal with, while still being flattering!  This one is a few years old, maybe purchased in 2008, but a good leather coat is timeless.  I saw similar styles brand-new from about $300, so this would definitely be an investment piece.  Towards the beginning of this deep chill, I simply swapped coats, and I’d be on my way:

… And then the temperatures decided to plummet further, much much further.  At that point it was time to pull out hats, scarves, the whole deal.  I took a page out of Nick’s book, and layered a couple of scarves as well for extra warmth.  I basically ended up looking like this, which I think is still cute:

And here, for laughs, is the picture of how I headed outside in the dire temps.

Happily, it looks like the vortex is slowly going to ease up.  In the meantime, bundle up, dear friends!  And evenings curled up in cozy pajamas with a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate (or mulled wine!) should be just the fix!

How are you weathering the polar vortex?  Or has your area escaped the cold wrath of this phenomenon?

Homemade Gingerbread Granola

Happy New Year, sweet friends!  I hope you have had a wonderful last little while, filled with many happy memories and dreams.  I know we really enjoyed the holidays, seeing family, resting, and of course, planning and dreaming for the new year 🙂

Of course, now is the time so many of us make resolutions, whether it’s health related, money related, relationships, I’m curious, what are your resolutions?  Mine include making exercise a habit, as well as taking vitamins regularly, as well as eliminating all our credit card debt as a couple, and more future financial planning.  I’ve learned with health that making delicious healthy, natural foods is amazing for the body and soul.  With that in mind, I made this delicious holiday recipe with a few tweaks, and ended up with delicious, lightly sweet and spicy homemade granola/cereal!  Even better, you likely have most of the ingredients on hand already 🙂

Gingerbread Granola (original recipe here)

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oats (I used quick-cooking since that’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 cup almonds, slivered
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I used a fair bit more spices than the original, so play with it to suit your tastes)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix oats and almonds in a bowl.
Add olive oil and maple syrup.  Mix well.
Add all the other ingredients, mix well.
Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, in a thin and even layer.
Bake for 15-18 minutes (I did it for 15).
Let cool completely, and then transfer to an airtight container to store.

We’ve really been enjoying this as our breakfast cereal, and it provides a good healthy start to the day!  I like that it’s natural, and I can control what goes in, and I’ve found it surprisingly hearty in a bowl of milk.  It’s easy, and cheap as recipes go, and one of those things that makes me feel very put together and domestic diva-esque, kind of like making my own cleaning or beauty products (which I don’t often do, but I feel nice when I do it) 🙂

What are some of your goals or resolutions for 2014?  Are you on a full-blown cleanse/detox, or just taking it one dish at a time, like me?