Category Archives: Cooking

Mason Jar Salads

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I have been procrastinating so long on writing this particular post, which is ironic given that it’s all about being more organised.

Tim has been really busy with work lately and I have been trying to manage meals at our house a bit better.

This usually involves one night at the start of the week, after Josh is in bed, sitting down and planning out all the meals for the week, then making a grocery list.

It’s annoying and a hassle sometimes, but it really has helped me to organise a bit more.

I’ve become so organised in fact, that most nights I will usually even make our lunches for the next day.

This has been aided immensely by the idea of putting salads in mason jars; yet another Pinterest discovery. It says that as long as the dressing and lettuce aren’t touching, the salads will stay fresh for up to a week.

I haven’t yet tried out this ‘stay fresh for a week’ hypothesis, but that’s hardly been necessary, as usually by the time I am done adding the toppings to the salad, I don’t have room for the lettuce and end up putting the lettuce in its own jar.

Either way, it’s pretty nice to have lunch all sorted when I get home. It also doesn’t hurt that they are in these cute mason jars.

So, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite ones, it being such great salad weather here in England.

Here they are in no particular order…

20121108-185535.jpgCaprese Salad

  • basil pesto, thinned out with a little olive oil;
  • pre-cooked chicken pieces;
  • cherry tomatoes, either halved or quartered;
  • cubed mozzarella;
  • fresh basil leaves, lightly chopped; and
  • lettuce, in a second jar.
  • 20121108-190123.jpgAsian Style Salad

  • Asian style salad dressing;
  • pre-cooked chicken pieces;
  • mandarin orange slices;
  • lettuce; and
  • sliced almonds.
  • 20121108-190558.jpgGoat Cheese and Strawberry Salad

  • dressing (probably a vinaigrette would work well here);
  • pre-cooked chicken pieces;
  • crumbled soft goat’s cheese;
  • strawberries;
  • sliced toasted almonds; and
  • lettuce, in a second jar.
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    Feta and Avocado Salad

  • dressing;
  • pre-cooked chicken;
  • cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered;
  • crumbled feta cheese;
  • corn;
  • toasted pine nuts;
  • avocado; and
  • lettuce, in a second jar.
  • You can see from the picture above, I waited until the morning to slice the avocado to keep it from turning brown.

    It sure looked nicer in a bowl then it did in the mason jar though.

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    Waldorf Style Salad

  • dressing;
  • pre-cooked chicken pieces;
  • sliced celery;
  • apples, cubed or chopped;
  • toasted almonds; and
  • lettuce, in a second jar.
  • You can probably see now why I’ve been putting off writing this post.

    There are endless possibilities.

    These are just a few of the ones I’ve enjoyed but maybe you all have more ideas you’d like to share?

    I’m always looking for some nice, quick lunch ideas, as I mentioned earlier, it being such nice salad weather and all.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to scrape the ice off my windscreen.

    Happy eating!

    Lazy Weekends and Curiously Easy Recipes

    It was such a nice, relaxing weekend here.

    The weather has been warm and sunny and most of our Saturday was spent just lying on a picnic blanket in the grass, staring up at a blue sky. 20120909-210028.jpg
    I’ve really been trying to get back into writing every day, not on this blog, but rather on other bits and pieces I’ve been working on. And, for the most part, I have been and am really happy about that.

    I know it means I haven’t been putting up as many photos of Josh lately, to which Grandma says she feels out of touch and I am sorry for that. But as she pointed out, it’s only 11 weeks till we get to see her in person. Just enough time for her to brush up on all the Cars names, though she already seem to have them all down!

    I assure you, I will still keep updating the blog, though probably only once a week or so. Hope that’s ok.

    In the meantime, to go with my relaxing weekend, I wanted to share an easy recipe for Cinnamon Toast Crunch Treats.

    I was looking for a quick and easy treat to make this weekend and stumbled upon these.

    Making these took all of about five minutes and only required three ingredients.

  • 5 cups of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, or as it’s called here in the UK, Curiously Cinnamon;
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows; and
  • 5 tablespoons of butter, or 70 grams for those in the UK.
  • All you do is melt the butter in a large pan on the stove.

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    When it has melted, add the marshmallows.

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    Stir them on a low/medium heat until they have melted and are a smooth consistency.

    Then grab your cereal.

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    Isn’t that the funniest name for a cereal? Maybe because in my head I say it in a British accent.

    Turn off the heat and pour them into the pan, stirring to coat the cereal.

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    Once they’re coated, pour them into a pan and let them set till they are ready to eat. I actually ended up putting ours in the refrigerator for an hour or so before we cut them up and they turned out just fine.

    Better than fine.

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    They were curiously delicious.

    Hold The Mayo

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    Poor Tim.

    I feel like we’ve been so busy these last few weeks, I really didn’t make any effort to celebrate Father’s Day. I think I even slept in while he got up with Josh.

    So no breakfast in bed for Tim on Father’s Day.

    We did make him cards though.

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    And I did make him lunch.

    Does that count?

    Cranberry sauce, rocket (or arugula in America), Brie and ham.

    It doesn’t look that good in the photo, but trust me, it was a really good sandwich.

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    Tim always used to make fun of Americans, saying we are really into our sandwiches. When he first came to America, he had never heard of so many options for sandwich fillings. Avocado? That’s crazy!

    Most sandwich options over here usually consist of some mixture of tuna and sweet corn (aka corn), always with mayonnaise, and always with butter.

    Now that is something I will never get used to.

    I also tried to redeem myself by making Tim some cookies last night which were so good.

    The recipe is for Chocolate Oreo White Chocolate Chip Cookies and they are amazing.

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    I even saved some to give to these ladies who we picked up at Heathrow today.

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    Yes my mom and sister are here!

    Well they were here, for about an hour, and now they are in Italy for a week before coming back to stay with us.

    I can’t tell you how happy it made me seeing Josh recognise them at the airport and run to give them hugs.

    It also made me happy to hear my sister say “guy it’s cold here!” when we were walking at the airport.

    You people in California are just so soft.

    But in all seriousness, I hope they have a great time in Italy though I’m anxious for them to get back.

    I think Josh is too.

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    Sunshine and Tired Legs

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    We have sun!

    And not just sun but warm weather too!

    We’re talking shorts and a t-shirt type warm weather!

    Finally!

    I decided to take Josh on a bike ride to celebrate.

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    I tried to take some photos of us both on the bike with my iPhone, though they usually ended up cutting half of either mine or Josh’s face off.

    Oh well. I’m sure you can tell he’s enjoying himself.

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    The bike ride ended up being a lot longer than I thought. It always seems like a good idea as your pedalling along, the wind in your hair, down little hills and enjoying the sunshine. Well, you have to eventually go home, and those hills are now uphill

    Not as fun.

    We were out for almost two hours on this bike ride. My legs are still shaking tonight.

    But it was great fun to get out and enjoy the sun.

    We came home and had some lunch. I am always at a loss on lunch ideas for Josh, usually that need to be made very quickly as we are rushing home from one activity or another and he is screaming at me to feed him.

    But today I toasted a bagel, and spread some hummus on both pieces. I then filled it with turkey and some baby spinach. I ended up making one for myself too, it was that good.

    And did I mention quick?

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    This evening, it was still nice and warm so we all, Tim, Josh and I, walked to the park to kick around a soccer ball.

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    We eventually came home and I tried out a new recipe for Greek inspired chicken breasts, which I found here.

    They turned out really yummy and I’m sure this recipe will be going into the rotation.

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    So all in all, a very nice sunny day!

    Peanut Butter Snickers Cookies

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    Between the various toddler groups, swim lessons, exploring and long walks in the rain, we’ve been pretty busy here these last few weeks.

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    Special lunches with just Mommy and Josh will still always be one of my favourites though.

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    The weather still hasn’t been great here, which means a lot of time spent inside. But if you have to spend time indoors, what better way to spend it than trying out new cookie recipes?

    I love coming home, out of the rain, to a nice warm house that smells of baking cookies.

    Is there anything better?

    I’ve tried out a few recipes over these last few weeks but wanted to share one of my new favourites. They are peanut butter Snickers cookies, the recipe for which I found here at Brown Eyed Baker and they are amazing.

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    But I suppose that’s not that surprising as they are full of chopped Snickers bars.

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    The recipe calls for four Snickers bars, but by the time I got around to actually making these cookies, one of the bars had mysteriously disappeared…

    It’s just the three of us in the house, and while Josh may be sneaky, I don’t know that he’s quite capable of getting into the cupboard and finding the Snickers bars.

    Tim you’re so busted!

    So I made this recipe with only three bars, but they still turned out just delicious!

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    I’m sure if I allowed Josh to eat some, he would say they are delicious too, and that he likes cookies as much as he like dogs.

    Even plastic ones.

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    Do you think he knows that’s not a real dog?

    Hmm…

    It’s still pretty darn cute.

    First Drafts

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    Every morning, without fail, Josh will eat a whole bowl of oatmeal.

    This began months ago with Josh “mooching” some of Tim’s oatmeal at breakfast.

    As difficult as it is to get him to eat certain foods sometimes, he’ll happily eat anything… as long as someone else is currently eating it.

    He will walk over to where you are sitting, ask to be picked up, sit on your lap and happily plunge his dirty little toddler hands into your food and eat away.

    I guess I might be mad, but at least he’s eating right?

    This morning, to mix things up a bit, I tried out a different recipe for baked oatmeal. I had never made baked oatmeal before, but I had some strawberries that needed using and decided to give it a go.

    The recipe I used is for baked oatmeal with strawberries, banana and chocolate, which I found here at Inspired Taste.

    I did change the recipe a bit in that I probably doubled the amount of strawberries (I told you I had a lot of strawberries that needed using!), and reduced the salt by half. I also didn’t use any chocolate and instead used almonds in place of the walnuts.

    It is nice because I think it can be refrigerated and heated up for breakfast tomorrow. And maybe even the day after, depending on how much Josh decides to eat!

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    Either way, it was a hit today with Josh, so we’ll see if he feels the same about it tomorrow.

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    After breakfast, we went for a walk along the canal.

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    At one point on the walk, there was an area where they had just cut the grass. I gathered some up for Josh who enjoyed playing with it as we walked, even despite the wind blowing most of it away.

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    We ended up making our way to the local art museum, which runs an under 5s painting session every month.

    It was our first time going and I was beginning to regret the decision as Josh seemed more obsessed with these little pom pom animals than the paint.

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    But as more kids starting arriving and painting, he was able to watch them and eventually ended up painting quite a bit.

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    We ended up having a really nice time and I hope we can go do more of these sessions in the future.

    Speaking of trying new things…

    Last night was the first class for a creative writing course I am taking.

    I’ve always had an interest in writing and now that I think of it, in all my many, many years of schooling, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a class completely dedicated to creative writing.

    In all honesty, I was really nervous last night. I thought it would go either one of two ways. One, no one would actually be in the class, or two, I would be so completely out of my league.

    It turned out to be just fine though and they seem like a really friendly group of talented people.

    If anything it inspired me, listening to the instructor talk about the process (and frustrations) that come with writing. My favourite quote she used during the evening was one from Ernest Hemingway, who apparently said “The first draft of anything is shit.”

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    Wise words indeed.

    Decorating Easter Eggs

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    Tomorrow is Easter and Josh is easily the most spoiled little boy in England!

    Over the last few days he has had three massive packages arrive for him, bringing him gifts for Easter all the way from his Grandpa, Grandma and Great Grandma back in California.

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    I can’t thank you all enough for being so generous and sending him Easter gifts! I’m waiting until tomorrow morning to let him open them though, but I’m sure he will love them! It also makes me feel less guilty as I didn’t really make him much of an Easter basket this year, so thank you again!

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    We also had another surprise waiting for us when we got back from yoga this morning…

    A beautiful bouquet from my Grandma.

    It was so lovely and almost as big as Josh!

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    It was so nice to get, though it does make me miss all my family even more.

    Josh enjoyed the flowers too.

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    We finally got around to painting Easter eggs this afternoon.

    I had been warned about the lack of white eggs in England (all they really have here are brown), and decided to embrace it. So instead of dying the eggs, I decided we would just paint them.

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    Rather than hard boiling the eggs, I thought it would just be easier to hollow them out by blowing out the yolks.

    I don’t know why I decided this and was feeling pretty happy with my decision as I watched Josh start to paint his very first Easter egg!

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    That is until he accidentally cracked it, which led him to realise that he could smash and crumble the egg in his hand, which is far more fun than painting it.

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    And so here, in all it’s glory, is the end result of Josh decorating his first Easter egg.

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    Thankfully, mine and Tim’s eggs turned out a bit better (though that’s not really saying much is it?!). Tim even actually seemed to enjoy painting the eggs, painting one to look like Josh, and coming up with some great “transport” themed eggs which are sure to be a hit with Josh.

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    I stuck with farm animals.

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    Josh stuck with his cars.

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    After we had finished decorating the eggs, we tried out a new pizza recipe.

    It’s for strawberry balsamic pizza with chicken, sweet onion and applewood bacon. I found the recipe here at The Café Sucré Farine.

    Reading the ingredients, I thought the pizza would be far too sweet for my taste, but the bacon and chicken balanced it out well and it ended up tasting pretty good.

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    Wishing everyone a Happy Easter tomorrow!