Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Money Saving Tip: A Picture Frame Makeover

Back in the fall, I was scouring thrift stores for some décor to use in our still underway guestroom makeover.  On a visit to The Salvation Army, I stumbled across a set of three prints, all in custom wood frames.  The prints were not bad – they were all agricultural or country themed, and since this room is inspired by my grandfather’s home in Nova Scotia I decided they could work.  Each print was on sale for $4.99, but I had a coupon for a discount from a previous donation so I ended up purchasing them for $3.00 each.  Not bad.

Although the prints looked decent, the mattes in each were a very dark green and the frames looked dated and worn from age.  It was time for a makeover.

The first order of business was to carefully remove the frame backing, cardboard, mattes, prints, and glass.  Next up, I painted the mattes white using Rustoleum White paint.  Simple.  Easy.
The frames were a bit trickier, and reminded me of my love-hate relationship with Rustoleum.  

Rustoleum is awesome and can transform just about anything which is why I love it.  I hate it because it really only work best when the weather is such that you can use it outdoors (ie. sunny, still days of a moderate temperature).  Initially I tried to spray paint these frames.  Fail.  Even though it was done indoors, it was in a cooler part of our house and due to the cold temperature I ended up getting all kinds of bubbles in the paint.  In addition, the fumes went through the whole house and made me feel ill.  This was the reminder that I should only use Rustoleum on the aforementioned days.  But all was not lost…

I sanded down the frames, primed them with Para Primer and then painted them (by hand, no spray) my current favourite shade of grey, St. Boniface, using Para furniture paint. 

A quick coat of Windex to clean up the glass, and a very tedious and careful reassembly of the ensemble and ……voilà…..a fantastic set of custom framed prints at a bargain price.  Thank you Salvation Army!!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday Night Dinner Project: Thanksgiving Dinner *Updated with photos*

Note: There are no picture at this time due to my computer being dead.  Photos will be added at a later date.  Apologies.

The Thanksgiving menu in Friday Night Dinners is truly wonderful.  Really.  We did not make it for Thanksgiving (obviously), but we made it on a chilly winter weekend.  The leftovers were equally enjoyable.

Let's begin...

Ginger Pear Sangria
By the time I got rid of the candied ginger (because I do not like it) and made this a virgin drink recipe, it was essentially pear nectar, sugar, and Canada Dry Ginger Ale.  It was still a nice drink.  The only thing I might suggest is that if you are making it without the ginger and alcohol to omit the sugar as the pear nectar is already quite sweet, plus you will have the sweetness of the ginger ale which you would not have if you are using wine.

Roasted Carrot and Butternut Spread with Pita
I have made this dip before and served it when entertaining friends and family - it always goes over well.  It is just something different - a warm vegetable dip that is not full of cheese or dairy products - and it tastes fabulous.  I have served it with grilled pita and naan bread, but this time when I made I tried something different.  I made bite sized appetizers by placing a small amount of dip on a cracker (I used Ritz) and topping it with a bit of feta cheese.  Amazing!!  In her book, Bonnie suggests putting some crumbled feta on top of the dip and this pairing was indeed quite good.  This dip can be reheated and served.

Sweet Chili Tomato Soup with Cherry Tomatoes
For the ten years I have known my husband he has refused all Tomato Soups.  He ate this one.  He liked it.  It is definitely sweet, as the name suggests.  It is not difficult to make and would be great for a light meal served with piping hot cheese garlic bread.

Laid-back Roast Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing
For Christmas this year my mother-in-law got me the mother of all roasting pans - a Mauviel roasting pan (these are available at Costco Canada online, but if you live close to or in the States they are available at Sur La Table for an excellent price).  Our old (cheap) roasting pan died while I was making a previous recipe for the Friday Night Dinner Project.  Actually, the enamel peeled off the inside of the pan and ended up on the roast, but that is another story.  Anyway, I was pretty pumped to use my brand new, beautiful Mauviel roasting pan to make this turkey.  I have to confess that I did not get a fresh, butterflied as the recipe suggests (budget!) - I simply thawed out one of the frozen turkeys I keep in my freezer.  For everything else, I followed the recipe exactly and this turkey was great.  I also made the cornbread stuffing (but I cooked it in a separate 9x13 stone dish), using the cornbread recipe from one of the other menus in the book.  Everything was delicious.  Just really, really good.  I would not hesitate to make this turkey and stuffing combo for company.  The thing I really like about the stuffing is that it is not soggy as some stuffing can be, nor is it dry.

Cremini Mushroom Gravy and Spiced Cranberry Port Sauce
Both of these sauces are infused with flavour, easy to make and can be reheated.  Hello convenience.  I actually hate making gravy, but I found this gravy to be foolproof.  The cranberry sauce is very nice as well - and this is coming from someone who can usually take it or leave it.  The gravy tastes delicious poured over the Cornbread Stuffing.

Sweet Potato Mash with Vanilla and Chipotles
I love sweet potatoes so there was not really a chance of me not liking this recipe.  It is exactly as its title describes.

Sauteed Snow Peas with Garlic and Green Salad with Walnut Dressing
The greens that go with Thankgiving Dinner require very little time\prep in the kitchen which makes them perfect.  The Walnut Dressing reminded me of something although I could not quite put my finger on it.  I definitely recommend serving the salad with goat cheese.

Rustic Apple Tart
This tart is very good on its own.  It is AMAZING topped with French Vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.  Yes.  So good.  I will also confess that I asked my husband to make this recipe and he was kind enough to oblige.  He worked his way through the recipe with no difficulty and I enjoyed the results!

And that's a wrap for the Thanksgiving Menu.  Enjoy!

Friday Night Dinner Project: Fast Food Italian *Updated with photos*

Note: There are no picture at this time due to my computer being dead.  Photos will be added at a later date.  Apologies.

This quick and easy Italian menu is super convenient and tasty.

Bruschetta with Green Olives and Herbs
This quick and straightforward bruschetta tastes yummy and is easy to make.  It might not be a hit with kids, but the adults will love it.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
I really enjoyed this recipe.  Roasting the cherry tomatoes just infuses this with so much flavour - and it tastes fresh and delicious - even though I made it in the dead of winter.  This recipe would be absolutely perfect for anyone who has an oversupply of cherry tomatoes from their summer garden.  I will definitely make this again.  Quick.  Simple.  Delicious.  (oh and if you grow your own tomatoes it is also very budget friendly!)

Italian Salad
Just going to be honest and say this was not my favourite salad recipe.  It was not bad, but it would not be on my list of "make this again" dishes.

Lemon Pudding Cake
This delicious dessert has been made on several occasions in our house.  It is light and wonderful.  The Lemon Pudding Cake is delicious topped with fresh raspberries, or a raspberry sauce.  The only trick to this recipe is making sure you allow the cake to cool enough before inverting it to remove it from the pan.  Otherwise it will crumple.  It still tastes yummy, but it will not look as pretty.

And that friends is the Fast Food Italian menu.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Coming Soon...

My computer is still dead. Sadly looking like I might have to buy a new one.
In the interim - follow me on Twitter
Here is a sneak peak of some things to come:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sick Boy, Dead Computer

Well the posting has been light over the past few weeks because my son was very ill.  Turns out he had pneumonia.  He is on the mend.  I have still been cooking up a storm, and on Sunday I sat down to update my Friday Night Dinner posts.  After working for about an hour, my computer encountered the Black Screen of Death.  Just completely shut down.  Poof.  Gone.  Won't power up.  Won't start.  Nothing.

Needless to say, I am working on getting this fixed but I am not sure how long it will take.  Hopefully we will be back in business in about a week, at which point there will be multiple menus getting posted.

Thank you for your patience.