Super Easy and Fast Guacamole

Seriously, it’s almost stupid how much money I have been spending recently on guacamole. I love the stuff. So this week while at the grocery store I decided that instead of buying the pre-made garbage, I was going to pick up an actual avocado and make the stuff myself.  Just my luck avocados were also on sale this week (it was like a sign!). So tonight after work I popped  few things in a bowl and voila – instant awesomeness.

Guacamole Party!

Recipe:

1 – avocado (ripe, but not too ripe)

1 – small firm tomato

1/4 – fresh lime

1/4 – small onion (I’m not the world’s biggest onion fan, so this was plenty for me)

Some garlic powder and sea salt

I cut the avocado in half, and scooped the yummy stuff into a bowl.  Instead of mashing it to bits I left a few small/mid-sized chunks cause that’s the way I roll.  Chopped the onion (super tiny; mostly because I don’t want to see it), cut the tomato into small-ish pieces and added it to the mix.  I took a quarter sliver out of my fresh lime and squeezed as much juice as possible into the mix.  I added some garlic powder (I had no fresh garlic in the kitchen) and a dash of good ol’ sea salt for good measure.  Stir it up and let it sit in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes (this lets all those yummy flavours mix together to create a masterpiece).

Take it out of the fridge and enjoy!  My favourite chip at the moment are the Old Dutch ‘Sea Salt & Hint of Lime” (which I can only ever find at Safeway for some reason).  There are so good!

I would have loved to share a photo of the finished product, but I ate it all so quickly, that I totally forgot!  Whoops! Next time.

Other options include adding a bit of salsa to the mixture, or a favourite of mine is fresh bacon crumbled into it!   Enjoy!

New York Wall Art

Want to make some easy art to help cover wall space in your home? Well I’ve got a solution for you! And for a grand total of spending of maybe $25. Everything I bought I got on sale, so a word to the wise, always wait for a sale. It will happen eventually? :) 20120505-121621.jpg

To complete this easy project you’ll need the following:
A calendar with larger pictures (I chose a New York City black and white calendar. I thought it had great photos and each page was a perfect size!)

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You’ll also need a whole whack of frames. Ikea had a sweet sale awhile ago and I bought a million different sizes and in varying colours (ok, most were black and white…) 20120505-122449.jpg

Super easy steps:
Gently remove staples from the calendar
Pick which photos you want to use
Carefully cut them and position in the frames
I like borders, so I left the mats that were in the frames.
Framing some of the photos was fun cause the frames were small, so I ha to pick which part of the larger photo I wanted to capture and have hanging on my wall!
Once you’ve picked and framed all the photos you want out of your calendar, then comes the more difficult part of figuring out how to hang them. I spent quite a bit of time doing this, and it may have been smart to do this first… Alas every project is a learning experience!
I hung them on the wall with those amazing 3M Velcro strips. Especially great if you are a renter and don’t want to make too many holes in the walls ;)20120505-123504.jpg
Seriously. They are amazing!

Hang the frames up and admire the easy and cheap wall art!

Famous Potato Wedges

No surprise, I make some absolutely delicious potato wedges. I mean everything I make is awesome….! I make them at least once a week and they pair well with almost any other dinner item. We’ve eaten them with steak, chicken, fish etc.
Because they are baked in the oven with minimal oil they aren’t as bad as French fries either. Hurray!

(Note: I can’t believe I’m sharing my secrets with the world!). ;)
You’ll need:
Two-three med/large red potatoes (serves 2 people)
EVOO
Sea salt
Seasoning salt
Mrs dash original
Garlic and red pepper shaker from club house
Garlic powder
Parmesan or Romano cheese (grated)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425
Wash potatoes
Cut potato in half, turn on their flat side
Cut in thin slivers ( see photo) this is key, if the slices are too thick they will take longer to cook and won’t get as crispy. Crispy=yummy!

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Dump the wedges in a big bowl and pour about 2 tablespoons of EVOO (enough just to coat the potato wedges). Then shake as much garlic powder, salt, seasonings etc as you want. The more the better. Add the cheese too (I leave it out for those that are lactose intolerant). Feel free to experiment as well! Next get your hands in there and start gently mixing the ingredients.
Once all the potatoes are coated get out a cookie sheet, cover with tin foil and spray with that aerosol oil, I find it’s easier to get off later, and I use tin foil cause it makes for less cleaning!

Pour the potatoes on the cookie sheet and level off so they are not overlapping too much.

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Bake for about ten minutes, then take the tray out and gently flip the potatoes. Put back in for another ten minutes and so on til cooked through.
I also like the broil them for about two minutes at the end cause it helps them crisp up. Yum.
Gently pull them off the tin foil and enjoy.
Sooo delicious! I promise you won’t regret making them.
Let me know if you tried any different seasonings and came up with something amazing. I’m always looking for new ideas!

Homemade Apron Fun!

I finished making a cute reversible apron today. It’s the same on each side just with different fabric. And it has pockets! Fun!
Of course I forgot to take pictures during this project…. But you can find the step by step instructions I used here. Thanks to whomever posted the pattern! If I make it again, and I probably will as a gift for someone, and I promise I’ll take my own step-by-step photos!

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Easy Mushroom Beef Stew

While I did say I would keep up with the blogging I’ve somehow already fallen behind! To remedy the situation here is a super easy recipe for beef tomato mushroom stew in a crock pot. Yum!!

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Well that looks good right?!! I know you’re thinking that there is no way that anything that delicious looking could be easy right? Wrong! Follow along and you’ll see.

You’ll need:

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Large package of stewing beef (like Costco big, or two of the smaller ones from the grocery store)
5-6 medium potatoes
3 big carrots
3 stalks of celery
2 big packages of mushrooms (I LOVE mushrooms!)
1 medium onion
1 garlic bulb
1 can of tomato paste
Worcestershire sauce
Olive oil (for browning the beef)
Spices!
1 carton of beef stock/broth (any will do, I had the Campbell’s less salt in my cupboard)

Super easy, cut the bigger pieces of beef into smaller pieces, you want the pieces to be big enough so they don’t dry out and get tough, but you also don’t want them so big that it’s unmanageable to eat!
Put some olive oil in a frying pan and heat up. Drop some of the beef chunks into the pan and just sear the outside of each piece. I did mine in about four batches to even out the heat distribution. Be sure to not let the beef cook too much or it won’t be tender and yummy later.

20120306-212102.jpg Once browned put the beef in the crock pot. While I wait for that stuff to brown I cut me some veggies!
Potatoes- cut into bite sized pieces
Mushrooms- cut into quarters
Carrots- slices, good sizes (vague I realize)
Celery- slices, but not to thin
Onion- teeny (I don’t like seeing onion in my cooked food….but I like the flavour)
Garlic- I cut up the whole bulb. Yum Garlic!

 

 

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Once all the beef is browned and in your crockpot, dump all the veggies (potatoes, carrots, celery, garlic, onion and HALF of the quarter mushrooms) in the crock pot and gently stir it up. Add the tomato paste and lots of worcestershire sauce. Gently stir again. Add spices- basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, basically anything you want! Remember its your stew, do what you want! I usually stick a bay leaf or two in as well. Pour a little more than half the carton of beef broth and gently fold again. I have a big crock pot, but I still only start with half the mushrooms cause I can never get them to all fit, but I love mushrooms so much and because they get so much smaller as they cook I dump more in later.

 

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Depending on what kind of time you have you can cook on high for about 3 or 4 hours (or until all your potatoes and carrots are soft), or you can leave the crock pot on low for 6-7 hours. Just remember if you’re a mushroom lover, put the other half of the mushrooms in about half way through.
Remember that it’s not always a good idea to lift the lid and the stew…it lets heat escape which you want to avoid. So be strong and leave it alone (except to add those extra mushrooms!!)
After all your patient waiting. Take the bay leaves out (you don’t want to eat those, ick) You’ll know everything is done when the potatoes and carrots are easy to poke with a fork, and the beef pieces can be easily pulled apart. Eat and enjoy!!

Speedy note: if strapped for time put everything in a really big pot with more of the broth being to a boil on the stove and everything could be ready in about 35-45 minutes. I find the slow cooking works better but I’ve done it the cheater way as well with great results.

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DIY Canvas Wall Art

I found this idea in a store and decided that instead of spending lot of money on them I would make it myself! Easy right?

Necessary Supplies:

3 – 12″x12″ blank back stapled canvases (I buy them in bulk at Michael’s when they have awesome coupons) – $6.00

1 – white acrylic paint (dollar store is great for easy colours) – $1.00

1 or 2 – background colour(s) of your choosing (I used a robin’s egg blue & purple, from Michael’s with coupon) – $1.50 each

1 – wide acrylic paint brush – $4.00

1 – roll of painters tape (I had some lying around, its usually pretty cheap though)

Total cost for this project: $14.00

Steps:

  1. Lay out some old newspaper to create your super easy masterpieces
  2. Paint each canvas with the white paint, let dry and paint again (make sure to paint the outer edges of the canvas)
  3. Let them all dry and just create your art work using the painters tape. (I doubled up a few of the pieces of tape to make wider lines, and I also cut some of the tape pieces in half to make thinner lines.)
  4. Paint over the edges of ALL of the painters tape (this will help prevent any of the coloured paint seeping underneath the tape later, I promise). Let dry and run over the same lines again
  5. Once dry, paint over the whole canvas again in the colour of your choosing (making sure to get all the edges too!)
  6. Let dry, and paint again with the coloured paint
  7. Let the canvas dry COMPLETELY
  8. Gently peel the painters tape off the canvas to reveal the easy, simple, yet beautiful art you’ve created!

Seems easy enough right?

This could also be done on larger canvases, smaller canvases, or even multiple sizes to hang together.

Mine hang in my office at work. My grey walls needed some colour, and these fit the bill perfectly!

Blueberry Cake with Crumble Topping

Who loves cake? Seems like a silly question, right? Personally I’ve been a big fan of cake in all its marvelous forms since my first birthday. I believe I was given a chocolate cake with a clown wearing a pink hat on top. Classic 80s. Since that fatefully day I’ve been asking these same simple questions—-
Did someone say there was cake? Can I have some? Is there icing? Can I have another sliver please? Can I have the recipe?
Sound familiar? Well, heck yes! While I will admit that I am not expert at making basic cakes from scratch (I’ll admit to using the boxed stuff… eeep), but I can whip up a mean blueberry cake with a yummy crumble topping. Trust me on the yummy part of that sentence. This recipe is one I may have borrowed from mom.To begin to make this delicious 8×8 cake with the even more delicious topping you’ll need to:
Cream together in a large bowl:
-1/4 c. softened butter
-3/4 c. sugar
-1 egg
Leave aside.

In a separate small bowl mix together:
-2 c. flour
-2 tsp. baking powder
-pinch of salt, about 1/2 tsp.
Mix these dry ingredients into the wet mixture alternatively with 1/2 c. milk
Mix well, the batter will be thick

Add 2 c. blueberries. (Frozen is fine, but make sure they have thawed enough, or they’ll freeze the batter and make it incredibly difficult to stir, trust me, I’ve made that mistake one too many times). The batter will turn purple because of the berries, but that’s normal. Once its baked, the cake won’t be purple anymore :)

Pour the batter into a lightly greased 8×8 glass pan (I greased mine with some butter to make it easier when removing the cake later.)

The topping:
-1/4 c. softened butter
-1/3 c. flour
-1/2 c. brown sugar
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon


Mix well, and then crumble with your fingers on top of the cake batter and bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Now comes the easy part, wait for the cake to cool and you can cut the pieces right out of the glass pan. I promise tasty. The crumble topping makes the cake absolutely delicious, guaranteed. Enjoy!!