Thursday, 28 November 2013

Banana Bread Every Week!

So there's this silent agreement with my boyfriend and I in regards to baked goods at home. Always have a banana loaf ready weekly. I have no idea how this tradition started but ever since I moved into this new house we are in back in July it had been a weekly occurrence.

Now, to spice it up I've tried both pumpkin loaves around Thanksgiving (Canadian version) and an apple strudel coffee cake but both were met with mediocre responses from my boyfriend and my roommate so banana seems to be it.

Banana bread is a classic comfort food. I actually buy extra bananas every time I go to the store to ensure I have enough for my baking needs.

The recipe itself is fairly simple. Usually it takes me about 10 minutes to put together and an hour or so in the oven.

Banana Bread

Prep time: 10-20 minutes
Cook time:1 hour

Ingredients

1 cup butter room temp
1/2 cup sugar
2 lrg or 3 med bananas mashed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour (I like to blend the unbleached and the whole wheat so I can tell myself it's healthy!)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350F
With a hand mixer or stand up mixer cream butter and sugar together. Once pale yellow and fluffy, add bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Mix together. It will look separated or like it has curdled but that's fine.

Add in flour baking soda and salt. Mix until batter is smooth.

Grease a loaf pan with butter then sprinkle with sugar to prevent sticking and makes for a delicious caramelized crust to the loaf.

Pour batter into the loaf pan.


Put in oven and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool and enjoy!



The best part about this recipe is that it is definitely versatile. I have used it to make mini loaves and muffins. I love adding toasted walnuts and chocolate chips to it too. If you were to make it what would you put in it to make it your own?

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Stashbuster Adventures 2013 - The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief

In a search to create another lovely stash buster, I turned to always handy Ravelry to find my next mission

This project has been on my radarr for some time. My best friend has done one and said it was quite easy but the idea of the garter tab definitely caused me to shy away. But alas, I knew I had a skein of Berroco Vintage in a bold deep red waiting to be used.  Perfect yardage for this amazing project. So I started off.

The garter tab was definitely the biggest learning curve for me but the rest was fairly simple.


It was quite the easy knit and knitted up very quickly at first. 

Around this point I started slowing down.


But still the project took me not too long to complete it. Approximately 4 evenings as they were all days I worked. But I loved how it turned out.

The blocking took some time though. It took about 2 days because of the heavier yarn and the poor circulation in my house. I tried using my first fancy soak and it smell delicious!



Loved it so much here's how the finish product looks wore:


Couldn't be happier! Please check out the ravelry page for this pattern! Age of Brass and Steam Let me know what you think! :D

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Stashbuster: The Last Minute Slouch

I love hats! I always end up spending $30 on a cute hat at the local sports store but not this winter! I plan on knitting myself a whole bunch so I have NO excuse to buy them and look amazingly cool this year! :D Ok so I hope I will look amazingly cool.

What better way to start of my stashbuster journey by starting my new hat collection!

This hat pattern was super easy to do. Took me a total of 2 days to knit it and no blocking involved! I think this might be on the holiday knitting list of this year's Christmas gifts.

I have never really experimented with colour changing before. I had 2 partial skeins of Cascade 220 kicking around left over from other presents I knitted for Christmas. I decided to combine the two and see what they would look like together. The first skein is a gorgeous deep turquoise colour. It is so rich and nice all on it's own. I had gone to the lys in Guelph one day in search of something to knit a scarf with. Being completely unsuspecting, the ladies there convince me to buy 2 skeins of yarn insisting that it would require both to make a scarf. Yup, wrong! I only needed one so I decided to make a cute beret with it which only required a bit more than half a skein since Cascade 220 is so much yardage. Great bang for the buck. The next one was a black that I used to do the black borders for 2 scarves I made which resulted in some leftovers still. Black is awesome because it can go with pretty much anything.

The result? You let me know what you thinks! :D Second hat ever is not too shabby!





Yup, winter is coming.... in like 5 months but still winter is coming and dammit I will be ready for you! :D

For the link to the actual pattern, check this out: http://madelinetosh.com/last-minute-slouch/

Onto the next project! :D


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Stashbuster Intro



I know I haven't written on here in a while. I apologize for it. It has been beyond hectic lately for me. Work has been insane with staff leaving, coming, blah! Working tons of hours and coming home exhausted. The up side to being that busy? The big paychecks! :D I have had the chance to go out and get myself some neat things and lately those "things" have been yarn! I love the lusciousness of yarn. I love how comforting it is and how soft and smooth and fluffy it is. I love the colours and how they brighten up my mood. I love walking into a lys and just being in awe of the walls and rows of gorgeous yarns and tools for me to drool over.

I have had the pleasure of going to Portland two months ago and the amount of lys in just a 1 block radius is unreal! I got to check out so many different types of shops and lay outs. There were so many different companies I never even got a chance to consider because I have never seen any of their products up close and personal.

I also found 2 amazing LYS here in the Lower Mainland. About a 5 minute drive from my house is the always lovely Black Sheep Yarns here in Port Moody. What a great little spot! If you didn't know it was there it would've just been another hidden gem tucked away from the main road. Then there's the gorgeous little fishing village of Steveston out in Richmond. I love it there because of the sweet village feel and the amazing fish and chips but now I have a great little yarn shop to browse through when I'm there by the name of Wool and Wicker. The ladies at this shop was super helpful and there were just so many brands I never considered sitting on their shelves that I just had to snap up some!

Now with the discovery of these little gems and more to come it's hard to not buy yarn. Except now that we are on the verge of moving to a more permanent area for us here in the Lower Mainland my boyfriend is not happy with having to move it all. Now I can't exactly blame him, I should be more controlled and knit what I have before getting more but darn it, they are so pretty and soft and I just wanted to HAVE them. So now he puts his foot down for me (Thank God!) and says I am not allowed to purchase any more yarn until I knit up at least half of what I already have or at least what I have wound up.

Good thing my needle set came last week! I got a set of Addiclicks. These needles are a dream! I will go more into detail in another post. But since I have have been dying to knit with them, this gives me a chance to play with them!



So please join me in my stash buster journey. I will post each item as I finish with how I felt about it and a link to the pattern I used! :D

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Recipe Sundays: Lasagna

Cold dreary days always seems to call for big and hearty comfort foods. In the dead of winter when everyone is snuggled inside on days off, slow cooked meals are easily some of my favourites to make. Although, today has been bright and spring like, this past week here in Vancouver it has been rainy and damp here. Earlier this week I came home in an absolute torrential downpour. Even though I had a ride, the walk to the house from the complex parking lot was enough to make me feel that damp cold in my bones. As soon as I got a hot shower in me, I got set to work on one of my favourite comfort foods of all times, lasagna. 

Now the thing I love about making lasagna is that when I make it, there's always leftovers. I build it 4 layers high and I can always cut and freeze. It always turns out exactly the way I want it to. The thing that sometimes turns me off from making it though is that it is pretty time consuming. I do take a few short cuts to save time like buying pre made tomato sauce and then spicing it to my own liking and buying oven ready noodles to save time on the cooking process.

Lasagna

Sauce: 

1lb ground beef
1 medium onion diced
3 cloves of garlic minced 
1 tbsp italian seasoning
1 can of premade pasta sauce 

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, brown off ground beef with onion and garlic. Once browned, add italian season and cook for another 3 minutes to toast the seasoning to bring out more flavour. Add sauce, mix well and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Cottage Cheese Filling

1 500g container of cottage cheese
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper.

Beat eggs in a small mixing bowl. Add everything else and mix well. Set aside.

Assembly

1 pkg of oven ready lasagna noodles
Pasta Sauce
Cottage Cheese Filling
2 cups shredded cheese

In a rectangular baking dish spread a thin layer of sauce. This prevents the noodles from sticking and burning to the botton of your pan.

Place your first layer of noodles down.

Top the layer with 1/3 of the remainder of the sauce and 1/3 cup of cheese.

Place second layer of noodles.

Place the whole amount of cottage cheese filling spreading it evenly. Add 1/3 cup of cheese.

Place third layer of noodles.

Add 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 cup of cheese.

Place 4th layer of noodles.

Top with remainder of sauce and 1 cup of cheese making sure to spread evenly.



Cover loosely with tin foil trying not to touch the cheese and bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

Remove tin foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.



At the grocery store near my house they sell these garlic toasts that I just pop in the oven for about 5 minutes while the cheese is browning to add the extra touch.



What is your favourite comfort food?




Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Knitting Tuesdays: How To Spot A Bargain




My obsession with yarn has really grown the more I learn about the world of knitting and crocheting. Everywhere I look I see inspiration and I find myself wondering how I could go about knitting/crocheting it. Lately the obsession has been cowls. In the colder weather they are chunky and squishy, in the warmer weather they are light and airy just adding a touch of class to whatever you are wearing.

With all these designs in mind I have to find the right yarn. Now I know I can't always go to my local yarn shop. The hours are sometimes incompatible with my work schedule or the prices are sometimes just too much. I am a bargain shopper wherever I go. I went scouring for some online sources. It meant I could shop any time any where and let's face it, who doesn't love getting packages in the mail?

Well, from what I have seen, here are a few sources I have found helpful! :D

1. +Etsy  - That place is a plethora of ides, gadgets and supplies. The important thing to remember with Etsy though is that the prices on there may not be such a bargain after factoring in shipping costs, especially to Canada. I love handpainted yarn and sometimes I lose track of how much I might be spending so I always dial it back and calculate in all the factors which includes prices of the yarn, price of shipping and how much it would cost me to get it locally. It's hard sometimes. The other thing I do scour for on Etsy is destash. Destash yarn is from people who realize their yarn collection is too big or that they really have no use for a particular yarn they have in their inventory. It is usually sold at a discounted price. Just again beware of the shipping costs.

2. DBNY - So many good bargains here! Many local yarn shops that go out of business will sell their entire stock to this website and they in turn sell it at a ridiculously low price. I have seen everything from Noro to Bernat in there. The only catch is once it's gone it's gone. I sign up for their newsletter so I know when new stock comes in and I can browse for it. The important thing to remember with this site though is that sometimes they sell vintage yarns and that requires a bit of look up on Ravelry. Also this company does calculate their shipping by the weight so watch out for that. Always get the system to calculate the shipping before you order because sometimes the shipping is more than what you are actually paying for the yarn itself!

3.Eat Sleep Knit - This is an amazing site full of delicious premium yarns. The possibilities are endless here! They don't have many sale items or bargain yarns but the reason I included this site is because they have something called the "Yarnathon". This program gives you rewards for the amount of yarn you end up buying. This can come in the form of accessories or gift certificates or discounts on your purchase. Some yarns have "power ups" which means the total yardage that you buy of that particular yarn is either counted towards the program by another half, double and sometimes even triple to get you to the next level quicker. I love that they offer this type or promotion for their customers because not many yarn sites offer any type of loyalty program at all.

4. Your Local Yarn Shop Website - I have visited many local yarn shops and after leaving decided that I needed more of what they have in there. It never hurts to call or ask the staff if they do shipping. The other day I was at Wool Is Not Enough and the proprietor told me she does flat rate shipping for $10. Cheaper than most sites out there by far! The Purple Purl in Toronto does a similar thing as well and they even carry my favourite hand dye artist Indigo Dragonfly.

Do you have any sites that you would recommend? I am always looking for new ones!


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Knitting Tuesday: Crocheted Baby Blanket

Sorry for the late post! I really wanted to finish this project for my Tuesday post and ended up  finishing it late last night. But better late than never! It was still in my opinion a quick project. Took about a week and a half and the results were awesome!

Now I always believe that every baby needs a baby blanket. The reason is most kids still hold on to that very blanket like a favourite toy as time passes. They are and comforting at the same time. They are soft and warm. The love you put into a baby blanket for someone show through in the work and detail. Parents can never have enough baby blankets for the new little one especially here in Canada :D

Now I know that it says Knitting Tuesday but I recently learned to crochet and found this a quick and easy way to do up a baby blanket. I usually reach for chunkier yarns as well. This particular one is by Bernat Yarns a pretty inexpensive and easy to find brand of yarn. It is called Baby Blanket. Easily found at your local walmart or joann's. Now no one knows if the baby is a boy or girl so I went with a yellow base. The border is a colour by the name of "pitter patter". I love it because the colours remind me of cotton candy. I know the base does include bits of pink but should still be a gender neutral balanced out with everything else.


2 balls of bernat baby blanket in two different colors
8mm crochet hook
Scissors


Chain off 35 stitches
HDC 10 rows
Switch to second colour
HDC 4 rows
Switch back to original colour
HDC 10 rows
Bind off
Using your crochet hook pick uo stitches off the side of the blanket and begin to crochet the border. Crochet border for 4 round and bind off.



This blanket was so soft making it my puppy did not want to let it go! :D 

Any projects you like to do for the arrival of someone's baby? What is your favourite gift to give?