Lemon Dill Tilapia with Couscous

Recently Brian started on a new workout program that involves working out to a different DVD every day while maintaining certain caloric intakes per day (he is doing T25 in case you were wondering). Since he was so supportive when I decided to try my hand at the Wild Rose Cleanse a couple years ago, I told him that I would help him out with the meals. We both like to eat pretty healthy but we both have our vices and one of the biggest ones is chips. Brian loves chip and I will eat them if he is eating them so we don’t help each other out at all when they are in the house. That was one of the hardest habits to break this past week but I am proud of him for staying so determined. His efforts are already showing too, he has already lost close to 10 pounds in a week!

We decided that the easiest way for us to make sure he sticks to his program is by writing out a weekly meal plan for dinners using some of the dinner ideas included in T25 as well as some of our own favourites. We both really enjoy tilapia and have made it a lot over the past few years. I actually introduced it to him when I first moved in as my mom used to make it all the time 😉 So when one of his recipes called for halibut we decided to use tilapia instead. The recipe was for lemon dill halibut tilapia with couscous. I was worried that Brian wouldn’t like couscous (he hates quinoa) but we both inhaled this dinner the first time we made it it was so delicious. We added our own spin to a few things so I thought I would share this recipe as we have ate it 4 times in the last two weeks it is so good.

For the Tilapia

– 1 five pack of frozen tilapia fillets (we buy ours at Save On and it only comes in 5’s so I use the rest for lunch the next day)

– lemon pepper

– dill (I used powder)

– thinly sliced lemon for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees spray a 4 x 11 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Take the thawed tilapia out of the package and rinse gently under cold water; pat dry. Place tilapia in pan and season one side with dill and lemon pepper then drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top of the fillets. Put in the oven for 25 minutes-no need to flip them at all.

For the Couscous

Follow directions on the box. Ours only take 5 minutes once the water is boiled so make sure you time it effectively.

When I made this the first time I added sauteed kale that was seasoned with paprika and cumin and mixed it into the coucous. Last night I added one raw red bell pepper and both were really tasty so just play around with it. You could leave it plain as well (that is what the recipe calls for but I wanted to add in some veggies 🙂 )

Once the fish is done, place a lemon slice on each fillet and serve with a side of couscous. This is a super easy and really fast weeknight meal that Brian and I are going crazy for right now. Let me know if you make it!

 

xo T

A Sunday of Baking

As previously warned, I did not have too much planned for this weekend other than Brian’s Christmas party and doing some baking on Sunday. The Christmas party was okay. It is always nice to have an excuse to see Brian get all dressed up (he looks really good in his new dress clothes), and a free meal is always a winner in my books. 

Saturday was filled with errands and very very cold weather. One day last week, we were colder than the North Pole. HOW IS THAT FAIR?! Saturday was one of those days where you walked outside and you could feel your nose hairs freezing. Disgusting but seriously true.

Sunday however was awesome. Jo and I conquered (yes conquered) six recipes in about three hours. Boom. I had never made any of the recipes before either so we both thought this was pretty impressive. And because we powered through all the recipes so fast, I only managed to get one photo from our whole baking day experience. 

TurtlesPathetic I know. And I call myself a blogger. 

But this photo was during the making of my favourite recipe of the day so that counts for something I think right? Yes I ended up making the Pretzel Turtles from The Pioneer Woman. This recipe is gold I tell ya, and super easy to make just a bit time consuming. I would highly recommend it, especially if you have a turtle-loving partner like I do. 

We also made homemade bits ‘n’ bites from a recipe that Jo’s mom uses all the time and is super easy as well. It is just two packets of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix with 1.25 cups of oil mixed with whatever snacks you like. We used goldfish, pretzels, shreddies, cheerios, and mixed nuts. Since we made a batch for each of us, the ratios vary because Jo doesn’t really like cereal and I do so she added more goldfish and I added more cheerios and shreddies. After mixing everything thoroughly in a roasting pan, pop it in the oven for an hour at 325 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes. 

These chocolate crackle cookies were probably the hardest recipe that we did and I am not entirely sure they were worth all the time it took to make them. They involved a lot of refrigeration time and a lot of mess with the use of icing sugar. By the time these cookies were done, I had icing sugar EVERYWHERE in my kitchen and so far the reviews on them have been “meh”. The do look pretty cool though so that is a plus. 

choco cookies - 2(source)

We also took a stab at shortbread cookies. They took a lot of time as well and they were just okay. Neither Jo or I had ever made them before so were kind of blind when it came to desired dough consistency and things like that so they tasted like shortbread in the end, but it seemed like we were missing something when were trying to roll the dough out and make shapes. Jo used to work at a store that made their own treats so she showed me how to make caramel popcorn balls. First she made her caramel out of corn syrup and brown sugar (I think that is all she put in there, I was too busy getting icing sugar everywhere to notice the measurements) in a pot over medium-high heat. I had made a big batch of popcorn on the stove so that was already waiting for her too. She then combined the caramel with the popcorn, shaped them into softball-sized balls and put them on parchment paper to cool off.

WARNING: the caramel is VERY HOT and will stick to your hands and burn when you are trying to shape them. I helped with the first batch and maybe made about three before I chickened out. Another trick that she used to help with the stickyness/skin-burning  is to lube your hands up with butter. For real it helps even though tons of hilarious innuendos will ensue during this process. The laughter will help you forget that you are losing the first layer of skin on your hands too so that is an added bonus. 

Last but not least, the easiest recipe of all, almond bark. All we (Jo) did was melt chocolate in a double boiler (we used a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water for all of our chocolate melting) then pour the melted chocolate over almonds that are laying on parchment paper. We (Jo) also sprinkled coconut on top for a garnish and some more flavour. We also decided to make use of the North Pole weather outside and put the almond bark in the BBQ to cool down and save us some space in the kitchen. Ingenious right? We thought so.

grease

 

So how was your weekend? Did you do any holiday baking? 

xo T

Back In The Groove

Well now that I am caught up on both recaps from my trips I am slightly embarrassed by how little I have to blog about. I really am not exciting as you all think I am but I try 🙂 This week I think it being dark when I leave work is really messing with me as I have been going to bed at like 8 or 9 each night and actually being super tired when I get to bed. Wild woman I know right?

knopedancing

 

This weekend sounds like it will be pretty low-key with one of the highlights being Brian’s work Christmas party is tonight (free dinner FTW!) and it is at a place that I haven’t been to in a really long time so I am looking forward to it.

My friend Jo and I decided that we wanted to channel our inner Martha Stewart this weekend and do some holiday baking this weekend as well. So far I am dead set on making this amazing deliciousness via The Pioneer Woman:

Capture (source)

Don’t they look awesome? And they sound super easy so that is a bonus in my books. I am at a loss for what else I want to make though. Brian always tells me to bake more but he never helps me eat it so I think the best things to look into making would be things that freeze well and nothing fudge. I hate fudge. It makes my teeth ache and tastes like I am chewing on straight sugar *shudder*. I was thinking maybe shortbread cookies of some sort or something? Any suggestions would be appreciated as I have been looking for recipes but I keep getting distracted by shiny objects on the internet.

Uhhh did anyone else know that shortbread is only made out of 3 ingredients? Butter, brown sugar, and flour. I think I could make these easily but I don’t know if I could eat them knowing what little nutrients they are made out of. Just reading the directions makes my ass feel bigger already :/

So tell me:

1. What do you like to bake during the holidays? Got any good recipes you can throw my way? 

2. Do you have any weekend plans that make mine sound super lame? 

Have a great weekend!

xo T

Redemption Tastes Sweet

Our Thanksgiving dinner kind of helped get my cooking mojo back after this horrible fruit pie disaster but I have to admit I was still kind of shaken. So this weekend when Brian and I were invited to go over to our friends house for a BBQ and we were in charge of bringing the dessert I figured that this was a sign that I needed to redeem myself with the notorious fruit pizza. Verdict? Nailed it.

dance_will

 

I was so on my game this weekend I woke up Sunday morning and made pancakes for everyone and then started some chili in the slow cooker to freeze. Who am I?!

I was still pretty sore on Friday from using the bench press on Thursday so I took Friday off from working out. Saturday I ran 6 miles though and then did an easy 5 km on Sunday.

5km

 

The fruit pizza and I have a tumultuous history that goes way back to my early teen years when I made it for the first time with my friend Christina (it is her mom’s recipe). So now dear friends I will share it with you because honestly it is super easy, very delicious, and once I tell you how to make it, it will become clear why me screwing it up was so embarrassing. photo 3(1)(yes this is a photo from the one that I failed at, I forgot to take a photo of the masterpiece from the weekend :()

So first up, make the crust. You will need:

– 2 cups all purpose flour

– 1/2 cup icing sugar

– 1 cup cold butter (I used margarine)

Mix the icing sugar and flour together in a medium sized bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles crumbs. My margarine was quite gooey so I added it in stages to make sure it was evenly distributed. Then press mixture onto a greased pizza pan until it is evenly distributed and about the size of a plate. (This weekend I needed to have the dessert in something that was easy to transport so I tried pressing mine into a glass pie plate. It worked well, however the crust was quite a bit thicker than I would like.) Then pop the crust in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned (FYI the pie plate took quite a bit longer because it was so thick).

While the crust is in the oven beat together:

– 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese

– 1/3 cup white sugar

– 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat this mixture until smooth. Spread evenly over cooled crust (make sure it is cool or else it will be hard to spread). Now the fun part! Pick whatever fruit you desire to arrange on the pizza. I used strawberries, kiwis, and a banana. But you could also use pineapple, blueberries, raspberries…whatever you would like! For my fruit pizza I used:

– 1 cup strawberries

– 1 banana

– 2 kiwis

I always add a glaze on top but you don’t have to if you want to cut down on the sugar intake. The glaze just kind of blends everything together and adds a bit more flavour. It kind of acts like the cheese on a pizza 😉

To make the glaze you will need:

– 1 cup pineapple juice (if you used pineapples for your pizza you can use the leftover juice from the can!)

– 1/2 cup white sugar

– 2 tbsp corn starch

– 1 tsp lemon juice

Mix the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat and make sure there are no lumps from the cornstarch (Tip: I mix half of the juice and the cornstarch in a cup beforehand and that ensures that the cornstarch dissolves correctly). Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Once boiling keep stirring it for about two minutes as it gets thicker. You will know when it is done because it will coat a metal spoon. This change occurs fast so make sure you keep an eye on it or it will burn very quickly. I usually end up using about 1/3 of this mixture on the fruit pizza but it depends on your own preference. For easiest distribution I use a tablespoon and drizzle the glaze on top of the fruit until I am satisfied. However if you want to just dump the entire pot of glaze on top that is okay too. If you do that make sure you scream YOLO* at the same time and then send me a picture because that would be legendary.

*YOLO = You Only Live Once. It is quite popular to use it on Social Media with a hashtag (#) when people do something dumb or something they may regret later.

So there my friends is the infamous fruit pizza recipe. I hope you enjoy it and now you can all unanimously laugh at me now that you realize what an easy recipe I screwed up. Ah F*** it whatever, YOLO amiright?!

xo T

You Can Relax Now

I know a bunch of you had to spend the weekend on the edge of your seat to see how my Thanksgiving menu worked out and I am happy to report that it was success! Yay! Brian completely ROCKED the turkey and I am so proud of him! It looked like it came out of a magazine, covered in bunches of thyme with browned skin and everything!

photo 2(4)

I ended up using this stuffing recipe using the crockpot and the flavour turned out amazing, but like a lot of the reviews said, it got pretty mushy. My sister came up with the idea to put it in a shallow baking dish and pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes and it turned out perfect! It was a good balance of mushyness and crispyness if that makes sense 😛 (side note – I even cut up and browned all the bread to make this stuffing…it’s a lot of work!)

The Brussels sprouts recipe from Rachel Ray was a big hit as well as the pumpkin pie appetizer dip. We dipped graham crackers and slices of Granny Smith apples in it and it was delicious. (side note – the recipe called for candied pecans and I couldn’t find them in Save On for the life of me so I candied my own pecans…I may have taken this home cooked Thanksgiving dinner thing a bit far but they were relatively easy and were a big hit!).

photo 1(4)

We ended up just using packaged gravy but we poured the turkey drippings in it too so that counts a bit no? I also made two pumpkin pies for the dinner and I don’t remember where I found the recipe but I think it was just a standard one as my mom used the same one for hers. Somehow though and we don’t know why mine turned out SO GOOD and my mom’s tasted like it was missing something. Namely sugar. It just tasted like if you ate the inside of a raw pumpkin, so we ended up throwing it out. So we had an unofficial pumpkin pie off and I won by a mile on my first try by default ha ha! My mom also brought two lemon meringue pies that were delicious and cranberry sauce from scratch so all that made up for the less than stellar pumpkin pie 🙂 Our family friend also joined us for dinner and she brought some sides too so needless to say we had A LOT of food.

photo 3(4)

 

So much food in fact that we had to do a buffet style set up because it wouldn’t all fit on the table! This made for a good photo opportunity though 🙂 Thanks to Windy for being my food plate example for the above photo. Real conversation during the impromptu photo shoot:

Windy: “Did you get the steam in that last photo?”

Me: “Oh yeah I did, look at that steam!”

FYI those brown pucks covering the orange mash is our traditional marshmallow topped yams…it tastes really good though!

By the end of the weekend my legs and feet were throbbing and it felt like I ran 10 km I was so exhausted Sunday night. I have to give props to the women who have been doing this work for generations. It is no joke! I was saved because I had a lot of help and it was our first time so we always had that to fall back on if anything went bad. But just the prep work for the feast on Sunday night took me all day Saturday to do. I had to get my pies done, do all my chopping and get organized for the chaos on Sunday. It was a lot of work! Not to mention the clean up afterwards is always time consuming. At least I am prepared now though and the next time we do this it will be a bit easier.

Just checked with my mom and nope it is always that time consuming. Awesome.

 

xo T

 

Thanksgiving Menu

Okay now that yesterday’s freakout happened, I think I am more prepared to tackle the meal plan for Sunday’s Thanksgiving Dinner. Is Thanksgiving kind of synonymous with Slapsgiving now for anyone else? Any HIMYM fans in the house?

slapsgiving

Anyway, now on to our tentative menu for Sunday:

– This pumpkin pie dip as an appetizer. Any suggestions on what to use to dip? I like the idea of graham crackers or apples.

– Turkey (obvs)

– Brussels sprouts – I  usually roast them but since the turkey my mom bought is so ginormous, I want to do them on the stove top. This Rachel Ray recipe looks delicious! And you can never go wrong with bacon 😉

– Gravy – I am going to make a stab at doing my mom’s version of homemade gravy using the turkey drippings and cornstarch so wish me luck!

– Stuffing – Apparently after googling “how to cook a turkey” Brian got all freaked out about the idea of stuffing bread in a turkey carcass because there are tons of safety concerns? My reasoning is that people have been making stuffing that way for how long and I have never heard of anyone getting sick, but he won’t listen to me. Oh well though my step-mom said crockpot stuffing is actually really easy so I think I am going to give it a try! It is a double bonus too because it frees up a burner on the stove 🙂 I really like this recipe, but will have to see what kind of bread we are going to use.

– My mom ALWAYS made baked turnip/sweet potato/yam (depending what she had on hand) and then baked marshmallows on top for Thanksgiving. It is kind of a tradition in our family now so it isn’t Thanksgiving without it. Guess it is my turn to make it! How hard can it be right? Right?!

– Cranberry sauce – I am not even going to lie, this is coming from a can 😛

– Pumpkin Pie – I am debating making the traditional or going with a cool pumpkin pie cheesecake. Thoughts?

– My mom is bring the potato salad that she made for our rehearsal dinner as well as a lemon meringue pie

Ok that looks like a full menu filled with a lot of stuff I have never made before but I think I can pull it off. Any vets have words of advice for me before I enter the trenches this Sunday?

For all my fellow Canadians, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving weekend! And for all my American friends….well have a great weekend 🙂

xo T

Fail Pizza.

Sometimes when there is nothing you can do, you just have to laugh at yourself.

I encountered this reality on Saturday when I tried to be the best wife ever and make Brian his favourite dessert, a fruit pizza. He had worked 19 hours on Friday and woke up from 4 hours of sleep to work another 5 hours. I have no idea how he does it but while he was sleeping I decided to surprise him with the infamous fruit pizza.

photo 2I decided to get creative and use up a Tenderflake pie crust that we had sitting in our freezer and instead of the regular sugar cookie crust, make more of a fruit pie than pizza. I also tried a new recipe for the filling part and made an orange glaze (with freshly grated orange zest) instead of the regular pineapple one that I make. I know, I was getting fancy but he is worth it 😉

PicMonkey Collage1So my fruit was cut and neatly arranged, the glaze actually turned out really nice so I eagerly spooned it on top of the fruit pie and placed it in the refrigerator to set. I didn’t say a word about it to Brian so a couple hours later when he went to get a glass of milk he sounded like a little kid at Christmas, high pitched voice and everything (sorry babe…).

photo 3(1)

We were having friends over for a potluck dinner and cards that night so everyone who arrived got to see my fruit pie in the fridge. After we stuffed our faces at dinner, we waited a little while to digest before diving into my masterpiece. But as I was cutting it, I was noticing that something wasn’t right. I felt the crust and it hit me. I didn’t bake the pre-made crust (looking at  the photos now it is pretty obvious but at the time it didn’t even cross my mind).

Wow.

So in front of everyone, I had to explain what I did and laugh along with everyone else about my error. I mean it was pretty hilarious but I was mortified that I had bragged so much about my amazing Susie Homemaker skills. We all decided that I should still serve the pie and everyone would just scoop out the filling and leave the raw crusts. My sister, the people pleaser, saw that I was laughing but kind of upset so she tried eating a bite that included the raw crust. Bless her heart for trying but she immediately started gagging and had to spit it out.

The mistake was a the running joke for the rest of the night, and I drowned my sorrows in one several cocktails to ease the embarrassment. We played a drinking game called Socialables, have you ever played it? If you make the right rules, it can be pretty hilarious. Did you all have a good weekend? Anyone have a major fail in life like I did?

photo 4(1)

Happy Monday and hopefully your weekend culinary adventures turned out better than mine!

 

xo T