Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

Thanksgiving is celebrated in Canada this weekend, and we are busy getting things ready for the festivities. An essential feature to the gathering is the well-dressed table, which should be one of the highlights of the evening. This is where you all gather to share in food and fellowship, and a cozy atmosphere is the key to achieving the perfect ambiance.

Starting with the centerpiece, its details should be the inspiration of the theme. Pumpkins are a the usual go-to for many who dream up the perfect table, but you could also put a twist on the traditional and dress it up by cutting off the top, and inserting a floral arrangement. This transforms the pumpkin into a vase that becomes a vibrant showpiece. The pumpkin base could also be painted for a more rustic look, which accents familiar sightlines, and plays on creativity.

Laying out the runners on the table in a horizontal fashion, as opposed to vertical, makes the table more visually stimulating. A runner that cuts through the center of the table draws your attention to the centerpiece that sits in its prominence, taking the lead in expressive appeal. Two runners placed horizontally will could also be perfect for shaping your place settings. Plates set on either side of the runners defines each guest’s seating, shaking up tradition, making a bold statement out of your dinnerware.

Finally, it is truly all in the details when it comes to fancy finishing touches. Place card settings are still a thing in the world of dinner parties, allowing your guests to feel pampered by personal luxury. There are many ways to organize and present formal seating arrangements, and the more unique the look, the more dazzled your family and friends feel by the notion. I would say that it is the best part of any dinner, hands down!

I hope you are in the mood for dreaming! It will take a lot of imagination and creativity to make your table a reflection of your personal style. Play with ideas and have fun in the process to truly appreciate the end result. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday: What’s for Dinner?

Food Network to Revive '30 Minute Meals' With Rachael Ray as Linear,  Digital Series - Variety

As you all know, Rachel Ray is one of my favourite tv chefs because she makes everything look so easy for everyone; even the beginner cooks! I did find out that Rachel recently had a house fire at the home with the kitchen I shared with you in a video. She and her family are fine, but how devastating to lose your home, especially at a time like this! In honour of Rachel’s lost love, her kitchen, we will do the first dinner recipe after the fire; Tuna Casserole!

*Video taken from tiktok.com

Tuna Noodle Casserole

  • 25min COOK TIME
  • 20min PREP TIME
  • 4 SERVINGS

Ingredients

  • 1 10 3/4 ounce can Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimientos (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cans (about 6 ounces each) tuna, drained
  • 2 cups medium egg noodles, cooked and drained
  • 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preparation

Stir the soup, milk, pimientos, peas, tuna and noodles in a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl.

Bake the tuna mixture at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Stir the tuna mixture. Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture.

Bake for 5 minutes or until the bread crumb mixture is golden brown.

*Recipe taken from rachelraymag.com

I’ve never done Tuna Casserole with fresh tuna before (shame on me), so I will definitely be trying this recipe out. It looks and sounds delicious! Glasses up and a hearty cheers to a woman who manages to cook her heart out in good times and in bad, Mrs. Rachel Ray! We could all take a page from her book and let her enlightening quote set in, “These are the days we all have to be grateful for what we have, not what we’ve lost.” Well said! I hope you all have a great night, and happy Tuesday everyone!

Thursday: What’s Baking?

This Thanksgiving, don’t be afraid to experiment with the best ingredient known to the baking world, chocolate! Step up your game in the kitchen, and explore the creamy goodness that hits the spot every single time;) The Olive Magazine has some great ideas as to what you could include as a fabulous dessert for your menu. What happened to catch my eye was the Chocolate Pecan Tart that stood out in all of its glory, with it’s crunchy crust and fudgy goodness! The only thing that makes my heart palpitate are the calories on that bad boy!

Chocolate Brownie Pecan Tart Recipe

Chocolate brownie pecan tart

Ingredients

  • shortcrust pastry 375g pack
  • salted butter 125g
  • plain chocolate 100g, chopped
  • golden caster sugar 200g
  • eggs 2
  • vanilla 1 tbsp
  • plain flour 4 tbsp
  • pecan halves 125g, roughly chopped
  • crème fraîche to serve

Method

  • STEP 1Heat oven to 200c/fan 180/gas 6. Roll out the pastry and use to line a 24cm tart tin. Chill for 15 minutes in the freezer or 30 minutes in the fridge. Line with baking paper and baking beans and bake for 10 minutes. Take out the beans and paper and bake for another 5 minutes. Let sit while you make the filling.
  • STEP 2Turn oven down to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large glass or metal bowl set over (not in) a pan of boiling water. Whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla, then the flour. Stir in the pecans, pour into the tart case and bake for 30 minutes. Cool then serve with crème fraîche.

Recipe taken from olivemagazine.com

Just how many calories are we talking? Try 867 calories per slice! Don’t cry, there’s always room for a super power walk with the family after dinner! I know, I’m not too convinced either, but sometimes comfort food comes at a painful cost! We have to remember to change the name of that game somewhere in the future. Anyway, I hope you all have a restful evening, and happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

It’s cold, it’s hot, then it’s cold again, all in one day! This is the current situation of our temperature here in Canada, and it can be very confusing! In honour of the colder weather rearing its ugly head in our direction, we must be prepared! A long time ago, a little old Jewish lady who volunteered at the hospital where I worked at the time, inspired me to learn how to knit. It was no easy chore for me to learn, and it took a full day at her house, over tuna fish sandwiches and orange juice, before I finally got it! Do I remember it now? Not very much, but I do recall the ease at which Doris moved her fingers, and how the needles cascaded across each other, creating beautiful hats and mittens.

I tried a scarf. I was pretty good, but extremely slow. It took Doris 2 hours to make mittens. It took me 2 years to make a scarf;) I could hear your laughter from my computer, but I am not ashamed! It was the best damn scarf I ever owned! The warmest too! I thought I’d attach a video of how to knit a scarf, so that you could give it a try at home.

Notice that I found a video for BEGINNERS! This is not hard. If I could do it, so could you. I guarantee that you will thoroughly enjoy your handmade scarf for years after the blood, sweat and tears. I have a picture of mine, just to prove to you how much I still love mine after all those years.

My scarf was knitted from a multicoloured wool that made for a very unique look. It almost seems as if I used many different colours individually, but I have to say that it was one, simple stitch! There is no limit to creativity once you put your mind to it. I that I hope you all get cracking before the cold is here to stay! If a scarf is the only thing you accomplish, well, it will definitely be worth it. Have a good night and happy Wednesday everyone!

Sunday: At Home

Hello all! I am absolutely pooped from all-night baking on Friday, and I just haven’t been able to recover. You know, you begin to realize how old you are when you’re not able to do the things you used to do once upon a time! However, I did manage to upload some great pics and a funny video done during my Sticky Toffee Pudding Bake-Off I did last weekend. Check it out:

The finished products square off…

The winner of the Sticky Toffee Challenge is….. The Original! The family gathered for a taste test, and finally reached a verdict after many hours of deliberation;) Needless to say, they could not get enough of that toffee sauce for the original recipe. Believe me, I almost sat down with the pot and ate it all myself!! Everything went according to plan for the most part. A few bloopers happened in the kitchen, but overall, I had a great time!

Tumeric Mask

As promised, I also dabbled in Wednesday’s DIY project and made a tumeric face mask for dark spots, as well as the face scrub. The mask turned out pretty well, but the scrub was a little runny. I didn’t bother to use the scrub because of its consistency, but the mask went on smoothly, and when I washed it off, my skin was visibly lighter. I kept it on for 15 minutes before washing it, and the plan is to do one twice a week for 6 weeks. This is day 1, week one.

Today was a blast but I have to run! All the best to you this week, and happy Sunday everyone!

Friday: The Socialite

Caves & Caverns - Scenic Caves Nature Adventures - Collingwood

We have already explored the hills of Blue Mountain in Collingwood, but there is a place right around the corner that is yet to be discovered. It’s called, “Scenic Caves.” A five minute drive from the town, the caves boast fifteen kilometer hiking trails, comfortable picnic spots for the family, and a suspension bridge that poses the picturesquest 10,000 square kilometer forest view from above. Carved years ago by glacial ice, the caves run 70 feet below the surface with self-guided tours, and panoramic views of the Georgian Bay. It was once home to the Petun First Nations, who numbered approximately 8,000 in population size around the Niagara Escarpment in the early 1600’s.

Suspension Bridge - Scenic Caves Nature Adventures

In the summer there are many activities such as: Mini golfing, wagon rides, zip lining, and trails. In the fall, the view is spectacular from the bridge, with all of the rich colours of the season. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular winter activities, as well as special winter trails. There is a lot to do in Collingwood, and it being roughly a two hour drive from Toronto, you can be transported instantly to a whole new world in nature in no time. It would be be a real adventure that awaits you this weekend, if you pack up the car and just GO! Enjoy the last of the warm sun;) Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

4 Ways to Incorporate Turmeric Into Your Beauty Routine

I’ve mentioned the power of tumeric before, but now we will explore it as a prime ingredient of homemade facial masks! For those who are not aware, turmeric has medicinal properties such as: A strong anti-inflammatory agent that fights against foreign invaders, and also helps to repair any damage to tissue. It is an antioxidant, which assists in the protection of your body from free radicals (single atoms with unpaired electrons). There are so many more amazing things that turmeric can do, and using it as part of a homemade recipe for a mask, only seems fitting.

Turmeric is very good for clearing acne and dark spots, which is my topic for discussion today. If you are anything like me, the thought of a pimple makes you nervous because if they pop, they leave those pesky marks on your beautiful skin. I’ve tried a series of recipes that include fresh aloe vera, or lemon juice and tea tree oil. However, I have never attempted to put a turmeric mask to the test. One thing to remember about turmeric is that it stains easily, so if you don’t want to walk around with an orange face, you must add some sort of fatty barrier to help block your skin from the deep yellow colour.

I’ve collected 3 recipes that we will examine more closely:

3 Best Turmeric Face Masks to Remove Dark Spots and Acne Scars 2020

Turmeric Face Mask for Acne

  • 2 tablespoons turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour or chickpea flour
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt or milk (for oily skin) OR olive, coconut, or almond oil (for dry skin)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

*Recipe taken from cosmopolitan.com

Best DIY Turmeric Face Masks That Will Work Wonders For You

Turmeric Face Mask for Dark Spots

  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon of almond oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk

*Recipe taken from cosmopolitan.com

Probiotic Honey + Turmeric Face Mask — TORRSIM

Turmeric Face Scrub

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons almond milk
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda

*Recipe taken from helloglow.co

So, how long should you be using your face mask before you see the results? Well, experts say that if you apply your mask for about 10-15 minutes a day, twice a week, within 4-5 weeks you should see results. I will be making these masks/scrub over the weekend, and will gladly be the guinea pig for the experiment! I will chart my use and take pictures of my skin’s progress each week, starting on Sunday. You will discover with me, the power of turmeric! Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday: What’s Baking?

Soup is on! Pumkin is the name and flavour is the game. It’s amazing how many ways a pumpkin can be prepared, from tasty appetizers, to a beautiful pie, it has many different faces. I’m thinking that a pumpkin soup might be just what your Thanksgiving table needs to begin the festivities! Paired with crusty cheese twists, this soup will be a fabulous! However, this is not your ordinary soup; this recipe comes straight from Peru! Have a peak:

Peruvian Pumpkin Soup - Sopa de Calabaza in mini pumpkin bowls on a copper tray.

Peruvian Pumpkin Soup – Sopa de Calabazo

Prep Time 20 minutes Cook Time 45 minutes Additional Time 15 minutes Total Time1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 sugar pumpkin (or similar)
  • 1 bulb garlic, top of bulbs exposed
  • 4 roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 large yukon gold or red potato, sliced lengthwise (or 1/2 cup Peruvian dried potatoes pre-soaked)
  • 2 tablespoon coconut or olive oil (divided use)
  • 1 sweet onion, vertically sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 cups broth/stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons ají amarillo paste (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (to taste!)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cups coconut milk creamer (or half n’ half if you prefer)
  • cilantro (garnish)
  • scallions (garnish)
  • lime wedges (garnish)
  • cancha – Peruvian popped corn (see notes)
  • toasted pepitas
  • crumbled cotija (not DF and optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place squash/pumpkin wedges, tomato halves, garlic (with the tips exposed), and potato (if using) on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Roast until the squash is fork tender and beginning to brown. Allow to cool sufficiently to remove the skins from the wedges.
  4. To a Dutch oven, add the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and cumin for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the broth/stock, ají amarillo, salt and pepper.
  5. Add the roasted vegetables (squeeze the garlic from its skins first!) and soaked dried potato (if using).
  6. Simmer soup until flavors are combined, and everything is very tender – about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Whisk in the coconut milk creamer (not coconut milk!) or half n’ half. Gently reheat. 
  8. Taste for seasoning.
  9. Ladle soup into bowls.
  10. Garnish with your choice of: Chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, canchita (see notes), lime wedges, toasted pepitas.
  11. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Substitute your favorite winter squash – butternut, acorn, carnival, etc. I still recommend roasting first for best flavor
  • To make this soup dairy free, use non-dairy creamer or milk (I like So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Creamer as it adds more of the richness and thickness of half n half
  • Obviously cotija is not dairy free, and it is optional. Substitute a dairy free cheese if you wish
  • I do keep maiz chulpe in my pantry as I LOVE all things Peruvian. Many Latin markets now carry it. See this recipe for instructions on “popping” it. It doesn’t pop like “regular” popcorn.
  • If you’re serving the soup in mini pumpkin bowls, don’t forget to eat that yummy squash!
  • Remember: You can make this soup in advance. It works really well to go through to the immersion blender step, and refrigerate or freeze. Add the creamer or half n’ half as it is reheated prior to serving. You can also complete the recipe, saving the garnishes until service.
  • Macronutrients (approximation only from MyFitnessPal.com) Macros do not include garnishes.

*Recipe taken from https://beyondmeresustenance.com

I don’t know about you, but I will definitely be trying this spin-off for my table! How about the cheese twists? You don’t have to ask twice! I’ve got you covered:

Cheese Twist Snack - In Pile on Wax Paper

Puffed Cheddar Cheese Twists

SERVINGS: 4  PREP TIME: 10 MINS COOK TIME: 10 MINS TOTAL TIME: 20 MINS

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese (2.5 oz, by weight)
  • 1/2 cup flour (2.5 oz, by weight)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter cubed
  • 1 egg white (2 tbsp)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  • Combine the cheddar, flour, salt, and cayenne pepper by swirling it around with your fingers.
  • Add the cubed butter and work it into the flour mixture with your fingertips, working quickly (you don’t want to melt the butter).
  • Once the big butter pieces are broken down, stir in the egg white until evenly distributed. The mixture will be crumbly but you should be able to knead the mixture into a cohesive dough ball fairly easily (do not overwork).
  • Roll out onto a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.
  • Cut into long strips with a pizza cutter and twist them onto the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 minutes until crisp and a light golden brown. Let cool slightly, then enjoy!

*Recipe taken from https://www.fifteenspatulas.com

There are a million and one cheese twist recipes out there, but I especially like this version because the author uses real flour, as opposed to frozen puff pastry. Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby! I’m thinking I will have to do a trial run of these delicious recipes before the big day. I’m always looking for a good excuse to make soup, and with today marking the first day of Fall, it won’t be too difficult to find one:) Enjoy your night and happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday: Confessions of a Shopping Diva

It’s Monday! Time to get our shopping on! It is all about the skin today, and we are looking for up-and-coming, natural products that will take your body back to basics. The points of interest for the fall and winter seasons are products that help moisturize, and protect from severe wind damage. The deep cleansing of pores is another great way to keep the skin looking fresh and vibrant, even in the harshest of weather. I found a few keepers that I know you will fall in love with!

1. Organic Hemp Line (Moisturizer Cream)

A remarkable emollient, this skincare secret is an ideal natural moisturizer, with an optimal balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Drawing on the beautifying power of the 21 amino acids in organic hemp seed oil, this cutting-edge formula nurtures skin while promoting a soft, supple look.  Organic Hemp Line $51.90

Olive Oil Face Wash - Juniper Orange

2. Olive Oil Skincare (Face Wash)

Olive Oil Skincare Company – The ideal daily cleanser and tonic for maintaining healthy, smooth and radiant skin. Our blended face wash carries the woody, sweet aroma of Juniper and the fresh, crisp scent of Orange. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamins to help fight the signs of aging, promote the production of collagen and it is beneficial for skin conditions as eczema, psoriasis and acne. Cave Creek Olive Oil $13.50

Natural Face Wash - Organic Facial Cleanser with Bentonite Clay, Activated Charcoal, Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Oregano, Castor Oil - Acne Treatment, Pore Minimizer Soap for a Clear Skin. Gentle on Skin

3. Organics Holistic Apothecary (Face and Pore Cleanser)

Natural Face Wash – Organic Facial Cleanser with Bentonite Clay, Activated Charcoal, Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Oregano, Castor Oil – Acne Treatment, Pore Minimizer Soap for a Clear Skin. HOLISTIC APOTHECARY ORGANICS $9.95

4. Reliv Organics (Microderm Cleanser + Mask)

This nutrient-rich, gentle microderm cleanser doubles as a mask. It contains kelp, a type of seaweed that is high in vitamins A, C, B1, B2, and E as well as minerals iodine and zinc. Smooth the texture of your skin to allow for better penetration of your skin care products and a flawless finish to your makeup application, all while facilitating elastin production and combating inflammation. Reliv Organics $56.00

This image may contain Bottle Cosmetics and Perfume

5. Huxley’s Secret of Sahara Oil

After cleansing and toning, apply oil for an extra dose of moisture. This is a good habit no matter the season, but it’s especially helpful during the cold and dry months. It’s a clean-smelling, thin and viscous dry oil made from Sahara prickly pear cactus, jojoba, and sunflower, and skin drinks it up within minutes of applying. Huxley Skincare $58.00

Beauty is organic! Love your skin, and treat it with some of the best product lines inspired by nature. There must be a variety in our skincare products according to the season we are in. If your makeup colours change, shouldn’t your care products change too? Just a little food for thought as we barrel into the colder days ahead. Happy Monday everyone!

Reflections: Saturday

I’ve always wondered why New Years Day marked the first attempt at weight loss. The gyms and weight loss clinics have all their commercials all lined up for boxing day – right after the massive Christmas dinner. They remind us that we have a goal we need to meet, and we suck up the shame and whip our credit cards out! With Thanksgiving spearheading the eating games, we must take a closer look at the reasoning behind why our feasts are so out of control.

Saturnalia by Antoine Callet.jpg

If we go back in time to ancient Rome, there was a celebration called, “Saturnalia,” which commemorated the first day of the sun’s return. In honour of the Greek god Saturn, the people would take part in heavy drinking, gluttonous eating, non-stop gambling, and sexual orgies. Rome was known for their outlandish partying, and it became such a trend that the world followed suit.

When we sit at our celebration tables, we have to consider the historical influence of our modern traditions, and decide for ourselves what it will be for us. Coming together as a family, sharing in a meal, and celebrating our own beliefs is one thing. Going over the top because we can, almost seems excessive. We wouldn’t have to worry about our waistlines if we did things in moderation. If we also consider that so many of our fellow men are in more perilous conditions around the world, and are not able to partake in a simple meal, it would be downright disrespectful to stuff our faces.

So, the world encourages us to eat, and then turns around to make a mockery of our weight gain. They take ideologies from the past and make it our present, even if it has nothing to do with who we are today. I think it’s time to make our own history, and to make choices that reflect what we truly believe. All the best you, and happy Saturday everyone!