Tag Archives: delicious

How a little gadget made our mornings amazing

Do you ever find yourself having sad breakfasts in the morning rush?  Maybe you love the idea of freshly cooked eggs, smoky bacon, warm bread… but you also love your sleep too much to get up way early to cook it all up.  I know we definitely had that happening, and although grabbing a granola or oatmeal bar, or having a bagel (half a bagel in my case) with some sort of spread is fine, it’s not exactly the happiest way to start off the day. If that sounds familiar, one little gadget that would seem to belong on an infomercial could be the answer.

I am talking about the breakfast sandwich maker.  Yes, a funny looking little contraption that will likely set you back around $25.  After thinking about getting one for weeks, we finally got one!  Here’s the little guy in all his glory 🙂

Now, our mornings have been transformed!  I’m not even exaggerating.  We begin almost every day with the delicious experience that rivals an Egg McMuffin, a Timmy’s Breakfast Sandwich, or a Starbucks Breakfast Sandwich, but at a fraction of the cost, and none of the hassle – right in our own home!  The aroma of hot breakfast is very conducive to smiles, and I’ll show you exactly how we do it.

The night before, I prep our breakfast.  I slice two English muffins, and slice enough cheese for each one.  I sandwich the cheese (and cooked bacon if we’re having it) between the muffin halves, tuck it in a small sandwich bag, and pop it in the fridge.  I also put fresh ground coffee and water in the coffeemaker.

In the mornings comes the fun part (there’s a statement I never thought I’d make). As soon as we get out of bed, we turn on the coffeemaker and plug in the sandwich maker to preheat.  Once it’s warmed up, just lift up the egg plate, pop in the bottom half of the muffin, cheese, and maybe some cooked bacon.  Then lower the egg plate, crack in a fresh egg (scramble it a bit if you’d like), and lightly place the top muffin half on top.  Close the lid, and set a timer for 5 minutes.  Once 5 minutes is up, slide out the egg divider gently, and raise each divider one at a time.  Presto!  A delicious, hot, fresh breakfast sandwich.  By now, our coffee’s also ready, so breakfast is served and fantastic!

Right now we’ve stuck to the classic recipe, but I’m also excited to see what other tasty combinations we can come up with, maybe with some veggies, other types of cheese, biscuits… my mouth waters just thinking about it.

Seriously, if you don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking, but want a great hot breakfast, give these little machines a whirl – you won’t regret it.

How do you make your mornings better?

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5 Things That Are Making My Week

Here we are, near the end of another lovely summer week, and at the brink of a sweet weekend.  I hope you’ve been having a good week, lovely weather, and basking in the sunshine and warmth.  Here are a few things that have made my week better.

  1. The sights of downtown:  I find that there are two environments that speak to my heart above all others:  tropical stunning beaches, and big vibrant cities.  I’m a city girl, and draw my energy from the buzz and the lights and the gleaming smooth lines.  This week I’m once again amazed at the beautiful skyline of this great city, and the glittering gems of tall buildings that are found within.
  2. Mineral foundation: Mineral foundation has become my staple this season.  I was very skeptical of how a loose powder could ever be nearly as good as a nice cream or liquid foundation, but I have since changed my tune.  I’ve been using Artistry mineral powder foundation in Medium to work with my tan, and it’s been phenomenal!  Not only is it super-light and even, but the coverage is perfect and there’s no orangey tinge to it.
  3. Homemade breakfast sandwiches:  Ooh this has been a morning game-changer!  And believe me, you’ll be hearing more about this soon 🙂  We’ve started making hot breakfast sandwiches at home, and it’s been a fantastic addition to our mornings.  Instead of a hurried half bagel with cream cheese, or nothing at all for breakfast, one of these protein-filled satisfying sandwiches gets me off to a great start, and ensures lighter choices throughout the day, yum!
  4. Lemon scented sea salt scrub:  Every once in a while, I get really into scrubs, and right now is one of those times.  I have this lemony scented sea salt scrub from Arbonne, and I love that not only does it make my skin feel so silky and smooth, but the oils in it moisturize my whole body so deeply when I’m in the shower, I don’t even need to use body lotion after.  Once I run out, I’ll probably make my own with coarse sea salt, some sort of lightly scented oil, and essential oils for aroma.
  5. Minty lip gloss:  In the summer, I usually lighten up my eye and lip colours, and I’ve been in the mood for a lip gloss that has shine, but not glitter.  This simple clear gloss from Bath & Body Works has become a purse staple for me.  It looks great on its own or over a soft wash of lipstick, and the peppermint oil provides both cooling and mild plumping.  This was actually a winter beauty purchase, since it tastes like a candy cane, but it’s proven to be quite the perfect little item for summer as well 🙂

Interesting, it looks like this week I’ve been really into beauty and pampering!  I guess we all have those times when we want to put in just a little extra effort into our looks, and I know it always helps me feel better in my own skin.  I hope you’ve had a beautiful week thus far, and that you have a lovely weekend as well!

Simple Meat & Mushroom Lasagna

Hello, friends!  How has your early spring been so far?  I hope it’s been wonderful, and I know I’ve been happily wearing my bright pink spring coat and new pink purse!  I always find this transitioning time an interesting one, both in terms of style as well as food – one day is warm and beckons of summer, the next is cold and invites you to cozy up like you have all winter.  On one of those cozier days, I decided to cook up dinner with random items I had lying around – and it turned out really well.  So I thought I’d share this with you, my super simple delicious lasagna.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 cans sliced mushrooms, drained and rinsed
  • 830mL tomato-based pasta sauce (marinara, roasted garlic, your choice)
  • 250g cottage cheese
  • 220g cheddar cheese, sliced thinly
  • oven-ready lasagna noodles, about 10

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Over medium-high heat in a large frying pan, brown the ground beef.  If desired, add salt, pepper, and italian spices such as oregano, basil, etc.  Once browned, add in mushrooms and pasta sauce, and mix until uniform.  Take off heat.
  3. Layer as follows into a 9×13 pan: ⅓ meat sauce mix, one layer of noodles, ½ cottage cheese, ⅓ cheddar, ⅓ meat sauce, one layer of noodles, ½ cottage cheese, ⅓ cheddar, ⅓ meat sauce.  Reserve last ⅓ of the cheddar for later.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, but check for doneness around the 30 minute mark.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar on top, and bake for an additional 10 minutes for melted crispy cheese topping.
  6. Allow to cool for at least a few minutes before serving.

Et voila!  Delicious, textured, hearty Italian flavour without loads of time and effort spent in the kitchen.  This was quite a hit at our home, and I’ll likely make it again, in between lighter springier foods as well.

What have you been cooking up this spring?

 

Creamy Beet Fettuccine

Hello, sweet friends!  I’ve got a fun and a little unexpected recipe for you today – creamy beet fettuccine.  I know, I know…. huh? beets & pasta…. huh?  I was a little caught off guard by this one as well when I first saw it here on A Beautiful Mess, but I figured it was a small risk, and I like beets, and I love pasta, and it was pink!

This made a beautiful meal that was both pleasing to the eye and the taste buds – it had the delicious flavours of the unexpected, kind of like trying something like salted caramel or Chicago style popcorn for the first time.  It also came together in less than half an hour, which is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner.  Here it is, with a few tweaks because I rarely follow a recipe exactly as outlined 🙂

Creamy Beet Fettuccine (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fettuccine
  • ½ cup finely chopped beets
  • 1 small onion (or dried minced onion)
  • 5 cloves garlic (or corresponding amount of pre-minced garlic in a jar)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • ⅓ cup ricotta cheese
  • juce of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil (or about ½ tbsp dried)
  • salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Scurb, peel (or don’t), and chop the beets finely.  Pro tip: wear disposable gloves to avoid staining your hands, or you’ll look like you’ve been finger painting with bright fuschia for a few days.  Finely chop the onion and garlic as well (or be lazy like me and just use dried minced onion and pre-minced garlic)
  2. Cook the fettuccine al dente.
  3. Preheat a large pan (I use my wok) over medium heat.  Add the butter and oil to the pan.
  4. Saute the onion in the pan for about 2 minutes – it starts getting delicious and fragrant here.
  5. Add the garlic and beets, cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked, drained pasta, with or without a bit of the pasta water.  Mix it all well, and the pasta will adopt a beautiful pink hue.
  7. Plate the dish, and top with lemon juice, basil, ricotta cheese, and salt & pepper.  I serve it with the ricotta in a dollop on top, but then mix it in right away before I eat, which makes for a deliciously creamy dish!

Pretty easy, right?  I know it might sound (and look) a little odd, but trust me, this is an amazing flavour combination.  My husband said it reminded him of pad thai, and loved it!  It’s rare that he loves a vegetarian dish, so I’m considering that a win!

Tried any unusual recipes lately?  Or do you like to drop the beet? (Sorry, couldn’t resist) 🙂

 

Pizza a la Casa

I really like pizza.  It’s one of the most fun foods, and it is tied to so many good feelings and memories.  Whenever I smell it or bite into it, I am reminded of joyous pizza days in elementary school, paying $1 for a slice of cheese or pepperoni.  I am reminded of day camp.  I am reminded of Pizza Hut’s lunch buffet, complete with their dessert pizza in either cherry or apple.  I am reminded of late night studying, or of working in a group to help someone move, and splitting pizzas as a result. It’s the perfect reprieve when you are feeling too tired, lazy, or whatever to make dinner.  It can also be an elegant and romantic meal, especially if topped with gourmet toppings like goat cheese and truffle oil, and then lovingly hand-fed to your spouse by candlelight.

But my favourite way to enjoy pizza is homemade.  Not only is it one of Nick’s favourite dinners, but it’s a mini date night just making pizza together.  Throw on some music while it’s in the oven, pour some wine, light a candle, and presto date night at your own little trattoria.

I occasionally buy pre-made fresh dough at the grocery store, and then it’s really easy – roll out, top, bake.  After a while of that, I decided to be even more of a domestic goddess and make my own pizza dough – ridiculously easy, and makes a big batch so I can freeze extra and always have some on hand.  I adapted this recipe, swapping out some of the AP flour for whole wheat, and it goes like this:

No Knead Pizza Dough

  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1000 grams) plus more for shaping dough
  • 4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3 cups water

Directions

1. Whisk flour, salt, and yeast together.  While stirring, gradually add 3 cups water.  Mix well. Form dough into a ball, place in large bowl.

2. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for about 18 hours.  The surface will be covered with little bubbles, and the dough will have more than doubled.  I like to start on Friday evening, so this step is complete Saturday afternoon.

3. Place dough on a floured work area, and divide into 6 equal portions.  Dust with flour.  Let sit for about 1 hour.

4. At this point, dough is ready to use.  Wrap extra dough separate plastic wrap or resealable bags and freeze.  I usually throw these in the fridge overnight to thaw when needed.

Baking – roll out, top and bake at 450 for 13-15 minutes.

Our Favourite Homemade Pizza:  The one that’s been a continual hit at our place uses the dough above, then a generous layer of marinara sauce.  Top with shredded cheese (Italian blend), shredded grilled chicken, and bacon bits.  Sprinkle with basil, oregano, and garlic powder.

Buon Appetito!

HCG P3 Cheesecake

This spring, Nick and I both went on the HCG diet to cleanse and reset our metabolisms.  While on maintenance, we were allowed to eat whatever we liked except sugar and starch.  This time around, we were on maintenance when his birthday rolled around, so I set about finding a birthday cake that we could eat then.  Lucky for me, he likes cheesecake far more than regular cake, and I was able to find a perfect recipe!  Full disclosure – yes, it’s “diet” in that the recipe was perfect for maintenance phase of HCG, but this cake is very rich, and still pretty hefty on the calorie counts, but sooo worth it.

HCG P3 Cheesecake (Adapted from My HCG Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ground pecans or almonds (I used almond meal)
  • 2 tbsp sweetener
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 8-oz packages of cream cheese (I used light)
  • 1 cup sweetener
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp no sugar added jam (I used raspberry)

Directions

For the crust:

  1. Mix together ground pecans or almonds, 2 tbsp sweetener, and melted butter.
  2. Press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch cake pan (I lined mine with parchment paper before), and bake at 325 for 10 minutes.  Then turn oven up to 450.

For the filling:

  1. Beat together cream cheese, and 1 cup sweetener until well mixed.
  2. Add in 4 eggs, one at a time, and mixing well in between.
  3. Add in yogurt and 1 tbsp vanilla.
  4. Once well mixed and uniform, pour over crust.
  5. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, lower heat to 250 and continue to bake for one more hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

For the topping:

Warm no sugar added jam of your choice for about 20-25 seconds in the microwave, until thinner and glaze-like in consistency.  Spoon over cheesecake, and spread carefully to cover the cake.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least a few hours before serving.

Of course, I also added candles and sang Happy Birthday to my sweet husband, but that part’s not really in the recipe 😉

This cheesecake was so delicious and easy that I would happily make it again, but one slice was more than enough to fill us up!  We even had it for breakfast later on.  I know lots of people who are wary of artificial sweeteners, so you could use stevia or xylitol, or even plain old sugar if you’re not on HCG Phase 3.  I used a sweetener that measured out the same as sugar (like Splenda), so it you’re using something different, you may need to change up the measurements for sweetener.  For us, this turned out with that perfect balance of sweet and creamy, so it was a hit!

Anyone else doing sugar-free baking?

Also, what’s better – cake or cheesecake?  Chime in, I’d love to get your thoughts!

 

Fresh Green Bean & Tomato Salad

One of my favourite things about warmer days is the glorious fresh produce that’s available.  After a winter of seeing sad excuses for fruit and veggies lining the aisles of the grocery store, I always feel a little happier when the warm weather kicks in, and the food looks, smells, and tastes far more appetizing.

I love my salads, and often I use the tried-and-true formula that I learned growing up: sliced tomatoes + chopped lettuce + optional onion/cucumber + olive oil + salt + balsamic vinegar = yummy house salad.  Although this recipe is delicious, I like trying new recipes and mixes of salad, and this one is a new simple spin on fresh salad that goes with anything.

Ingredients:

  • 375g (13oz) green beans, ends trimmed
  • 250g (9oz) grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small onion (or shallot), minced
  • 2 tbsp basil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes, until tender but still crisp.
  2. Rinse and add to a serving dish along with tomatoes, onion, and basil.
  3. Drizzle on olive oil, vinegar, sprinkle salt and pepper.
  4. Mix well.

That’s it!  Super simple recipe, and I really liked the green beans being the base flavour, it made for a more interesting texture and flavour than lettuce.  I found that the 2 minutes in boiling water really made the colour a vibrant kelly green, and had just the right amount of crunch.  

I served this salad as a side with chicken burgers, but I think it would work just as well with grilled or roasted chicken, beef burgers, even steak!  It’s really versatile, and the basil gives it a really nice flavour that’s a little bit Italian.  Bon appetit!