Wow, sorry folks!

My sincerest apologies! It’s been a busy summer and Christmas season. I’ve actually been away for most of the months that I haven’t written. Writing on an iPhone is not the best thing to try – I do not suggest it.

I felt that with the new year refreshing so many old goals that I should start writing again! And just like that I’m back. I’ve had ¬†little help, one of the people who’s inspired me to loose weight and eat healthily has invited me to a new group on Facebook that will help keep us all motivated to keep that pesky new year resolution. So I thought it would be good to continue chronicling my foray through food.

School wise I’m waiting on my acceptance. My application is currently in the appeals process. Guess what I’ll be writing about next! It’s a helpful and yet very stressful process.

I look forward to sharing a new cookbook with you on Wednesday! Until then.

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Apologies!

My sincere apologies for having no Foodie Friday this week. I’m traveling across the country right now and updating my blog from my iPhone is not the easiest thing to do.

I have picked up a great vinaigrette recipe that I want to test out and further develop before I post it, however, I have high hopes.
My plan is to collect a bunch of recipes and make up for all of my missed posts when I have a desktop to utilize.
Until then!
Cheers

Foodie Friday

With it finally acting like summer weather here I thought I’d share my favorite go-to summer salad. This is a direct replica of Martha Stewart’s daughter’s favourite salad. I found this recipe so long ago, and I still love making it. It’s so fresh, crunchy, refreshing and a perfect accompaniment to any barbeque or excellent just on it’s own. I sure do love versatility! Best of all – it keeps! The flavours just get better and better the longer it marinates.

Alexis’s Chopped Vegetable Salad

Serves 10-12
Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for water
  • 2 fresh ears corn – you can used canned corn that’s been drained and rinsed but it’s nice to use fresh if you can get it.
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound wax beans (yellow beans), trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces – again used canned if you can’t find fresh ones.
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces – take out the seeds and the white membrane around said seeds
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces – take out the seeds and the white membrane around said seeds
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces – take out the seeds if there are any
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, lightly chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced – make sure to take the seeds out of this one! The seeds are what make a pepper hot. I suggest using gloves to work with hot peppers if you can, rubbing your eye afterwards isn’t fun.
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Prepare an ice bath; set aside. Ice Bath – is a large bowl of ice & water. Fill the bowl until the water just covers the ice.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil.
  3. Add corn, and blanch until tender, about 6 minutes. With tongs, remove from water, and plunge immediately into ice bath. When corn is thoroughly cooled, remove from ice bath. Using a large knife, remove kernels from cobs. Transfer kernels to a large bowl.
  4. Add green and wax beans to boiling water. Blanch until tender, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, remove from water, and plunge immediately into ice bath. When beans are thoroughly cooled, drain in colander.
  5. Add green and wax beans, tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, onion, cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeno to corn. Stir to combine. Add olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Adjust for seasoning. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Blanching –¬†To plunge food (usually vegetables and fruits) into boiling water briefly, then into cold water to stop the cooking process. Blanching is used to firm the flesh, to loosen skins (as with peaches and tomatoes) and to heighten and set color and flavor.

Seriously, although blanching is kind of a pain in the ass it makes vegetable colours pop and intensifies the flavour. It’s a step that’s worth doing.

 

. o O (a side note, My apologies for no “cookbook of the week” this week. Things are a bit hectic right now, I’m preparing for a cross country motorcycle trip. If you’d like to follow my exploits across the country feel free to visit: http://rideeatsleeprepeat.wordpress.com/

 

Upgrading

I know the posts as of late have mainly been about food so I thought that I would take a break for a post and add a helpful article about upgrading high school classes.

I’ve recently made the decision to return to University for a career change. Upon investigation I found that dreaded “you need these classes to be accepted” section. When attending high school I never thought that I would need said classes and now, I do. So what do you do? I, like most, work full-time and can’t think of when I might fit in classes. For this, I’m going to draw upon two experiences of mine: when I first graduated high school and found that my marks weren’t sufficient for acceptance and now, where I need specific classes for a program that I didn’t take in high school.

When I first graduated high school I applied to University only to be rejected because I was 0.2% below the acceptance average. I, of course, was upset but I knew that I needed to go back to school and upgrade my marks. I chose my two worst classes, the two I knew I could have done better in, and made my way to the continuing education program. When I picked up the class schedule I found that they offered classes at night. Having just graduated I thought that night school would be like summer school in the respect that it was every single night and, frankly, a pain in the butt.
Night school with the continuing education program proved to be only two nights a week for a full semester. I thought, “Hey, I could get a full time job and earn some money for University and upgrade my marks.” It turned out to be the most ingenious thing I’d thought of in years.

For an entire school year I attended continuing education and upgrade two high school classes whilst I had a full time job, earn spending money and enough for a year and a half of school. I felt accomplished. Best of all only having school 2 nights a week meant that I wasn’t wearing myself out. I still had time to spend with friends, rest and do my homework. I wasn’t always concentrating on school and work. That year off ended up being the best thing that I could have done for myself. It prepared me for University and allowed me to mature that extra year.

Now, I’m working full time and due to unforeseen circumstances I’m being forced to change my career direction. Due to the transient nature of my current job I don’t have the luxury of being able to attend continuing education again. This time around I need something that is more portable. Thankfully, we are living in a digital age. I’ve done my research and am attending a virtual school.

Virtual high schools are a wonderful thing. A sense of the future, really. When I first took my year off, internet schools were still somewhat of a dream for the future; something not yet realized. This time around they are abundant. I have my pick of the litter, so to speak.

I contacted several of the schools to determine their exact structure. Many of the virtual schools still require you to rent/purchase a hard cover textbook and attend paper examinations. This is something to look out for. Keep an eye out for these draw backs when you’re searching for the right school for you. The benefit to virtual schools is that there are no “districts”. You can be from anywhere and achieve the education of your dreams. For example, I can attend a virtual high school based in Ontario instead of having to attend the virtual schools in Alberta where I reside. This also allows me to choose the type of curriculum that best suits my needs. Granted the curriculum will still cover the same scope of the subject but each school teaches the subject differently; whether that’s visual learning, tactile learning, auditory learning or a combination thereof. Some schools will send you the virtual ebook of the textbook, others a course package of notes – each one is different. It’s a smorgasbord of virtual schools.

The best thing, so far, about a virtual school is that I complete the course at my leisure. If there’s a day where I just have too much on my plate and just can’t complete that lesson I just don’t. I don’t have to worry about missing a class, playing catch-up, missing assignments, etc. It takes a significant amount of stress off of me. One thing I worried about with a virtual school was not having the resources to ask for help when I got stuck. Not to worry! There are teachers available for support during regular school hours. You ask the question, they shoot you back an answer… easy peasy. It’s a great way to upgrade my classes and gain acceptance to University once more.

There are just so many options for upgrading now-a-days that there really is no excuse not to follow your dreams. The continuing education programs, virtual or no, are put in place to help you. Going back to school should be on your terms, when you’re prepared for it.

Cookbook of the Week

This week’s cookbook is actually a two-for-one. When I reach into my stash of cookbooks I usually pull these two out simultaneously. To me, they’re really just one great book of easy, fun cupcake decoration.

Yes, I’m delving into my shelf full of just desserts. Can you tell I have a sweet tooth?

“Hello, Cupcake” and “What’s New, Cupcake” by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson are two of the most fun books I’ve ever read. The cupcakes are cute, whimsical and just plain fun – both to make, look at and most of all eat! It’s a great book in the respect that it teaches you how to decorate cupcakes without all the fancy schmancy tools. You just need scissors, zip lock bags, food colouring, candy and a lot of time. Each of the books include recipes in the appendices for easy icings and altering cake-box mixes to make them more flavourful. You don’t even need to know how to bake to make these lovely little darlings! In each of the how-to of the cupcake decorations she suggests using the plain old tub of icing from the grocery store. It doesn’t get much easier!
Granted, every time I make them I go the extra mile of baking the flavour of cupcake I want and making icing from scratch but the nice thing is that these books are accessible for everyone.

This book is full of photos, large colourful, stomach pain inducing photos. The use of the different everyday candies is ingenious. I’ve never thought of taking the time to roll out tootsie rolls or cut up skittles to make ears or windows. Each of the books feature a variety of different cupcakes. There’s an April Fools section to each one, my favourite, animals, theme parties, Halloween, Christmas, spring… the possibilities are endless.
“April Fools?”, you ask. Allow me to elaborate. The beginning of each book there’s a series of cupcakes that are meant to look like something else. For example, spaghetti and meatballs, Chinese take-out, a box full of popcorn, corn on the cob, pizza… the cupcakes in this section are just fantastic. Some of them you look at and ask “Why is that in there? This is a cupcake book.” Then you realized that, hey, that is a cupcake.

There’s a little bit for everyone from baby showers, to Easter surprises, to snow globes, to haunted houses. These are two absolutely fantastic books to help spruce up your dinner parties or just to make everyday living just that little bit more fun!

These books have become such a phenomenon that Karen & Allan have even released an App on itunes! The App helps you explore the world of cute cupcakes with animations, helpful videos, exclusive tips, illustrated shopping lists and step-by-step photographs of each recipe. The initial App purchase gives you access to 10 recipes with all of these helpful bonuses – with the option to purchase more in the App itself.

“Hello, Cupcake” and “What’s New, Cupcake” are both available from most retail bookstores and online bookstores. The Hello, Cupcake App is available on itunes.

Karen Tack & Allan Richardson have since put out another delightful book called “Cupcakes, Cookies and Pie, Oh My!” that covers making the rest of the dessert world be even more fun. I haven’t purchased it just yet – but I know it’s on my wish list!