What’s For Dinner: Cashew Chicken

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Cashew Chicken is one of my favourite easy to make dishes for dinner. The recipe comes from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast. It is a great go to meal if you want something that is flavourful and quick, a nice alternative to fast food or a frozen dinner. I usually like to serve it with short grain brown rice.

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Coarse salt and ground pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower

6 cloves garlic, minced

8 scallions, white and green parts separated, each cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

3/4 cup raw cashews (4 ounces), toasted

 

Directions

In a medium bowl, toss chicken with cornstarch until chicken is coated; season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

 

 

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Cook half the chicken, tossing often, until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

 

 

Add remaining oil and chicken to skillet along with the garlic and white parts of scallions.

I have a great tool for mincing garlic I chop up your garlic put in the chopper, roll it on the counter and the garlic comes out nicely minced. This recipe uses a lot of garlic so it nice to have an easy quick way to mince the garlic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cook, tossing often, until chicken is browned, about 3 minutes. Return first batch of chicken to pan. Add vinegar; cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds.

Add hoisin sauce and 1/4 cup water; cook, tossing, until chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in scallion greens and cashews. Serve immediately over white rice, if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure you remove from heat before you add green onions. I was busy taking the pictures and left it on the heat so the green onions continued to cook so it doesn’t look as pretty as it normally does, but it tasted just fine.

 

 

 


Dining at Disneyworld Part One: Breakfast at the Grand Floridian’s 1900 Park Faire

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I originally posted my food report over at the Disboards from our Disneyworld trip, and thought it might be enjoyed here on my blog.

If you have been to Disneyworld you may know the craziness of planning your meals 6 months ahead of your trip. Reservations can be made at 180 days for your trip and for some of the restaurants you may actually need to make your reservations at 180 days. For those of you wondering what to book for your trip I will be posting my reviews of the restaurants we dined at including pictures. We did do the Deluxe Dining plan so that meant we ate at a lot of restaurants during our trip. So here we go…

After a fairly restful sleep we packed up our things and headed to the Grand Floridian. We gave bell services our bags and checked in. It was around 10am and our room was not ready yet, but we were early for Park Faire.

 

 

Our reservation at Park Fare was for 11am but we thought we would try checking in early. They took us right away. We declined having the picture taken outside the restaurant. We were seated and our server was quick to take our drink orders.

Tigger was the first to stop at our table, when pooh arrived he stopped shook my daughters hand and than left we didn’t even have a chance to take a photo. We let our waitress know and the character handler made sure Pooh stopped by for a second time. Mary Poppins, Alice, and the Mad Hatter were all great. We had very good character interactions here. I made a photobook from our previous pictures with the characters for my daughter to use as an autograph book. We did get a lot more time with some characters because of the book. I got the idea from someone on the disboards and it does make a nice keepsake. I also noticed the later the reservation the better the interaction. I think the characters have more time to interact later in the day.

 

 

 

The food was a little better than some of the other character buffets. I had french toast with banana foster sauce, I found the sauce to be a little bitter, bacon, pineapple, breakfast potatoes, and lobster eggs benedict. The poached eggs had a cooked yolk a prefer a runny yolk on my poached eggs so I didn’t love it. My Daughter had mickey waffles, strawberries, bacon, and smoked salmon, and my husband had bacon, a pecan roll, scrambled eggs, ham, breakfast potatoes, smoked salmon, and lobster eggs benedict. He also did not like the fact that the yolks were cooked through. He did however really enjoy the scrambled eggs.

 

 

 

Overall we enjoyed our breakfast at 1900 Park Fare and would eat there again. Coming up next in my Disneyworld dining series our room at the Grand Floridian and dinner at the Flying Fish.

 

 


Handmade Gifts: Personalized Ragdoll

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Last Christmas I decided to make my nieces and nephews dress up clothes for their gifts. For the girls I made Cinderella dresses and a Pirate and Woody (from Toy Story) for the boys. The gifts went over well, thank goodness since I was sewing day and night for two weeks to get them in the mail in time for Christmas. My sisters both live in another province and we don’t get to see them much. Because of the distance I am not up on what toys they have or want. By making the gifts I was certain to give them something that they wouldn’t have and hopeful they would remember past January.

My youngest niece’s birthday is coming up in a couple weeks so I decided that I would make her a rag doll for her birthday. A couple years ago Martha Stewart had a segment on making ragdolls from by Black Apple on the show, I used that design as a jumping off spot for making my niece’s doll. You can find the original pattern and instructions on Martha Stewart’s website.

I increased the size of the doll to 155% and here are PDF of the pattern at the increased size, Black Apple Doll enlarged Head and Black Apple Doll enlarged Body and Legs. This pattern is not mine and is for personal use only not for commercial use.

My niece is fond of monkeys so I decided to use some of my sock monkey fabric scraps for the dress. I made the hair brown and added an embroidered applique of her name on the dress.

The Black Apple tutorial has you draw the face on the doll, you could hand embroider the face, or do as I did embroider the face on with an embroidery machine. I recently purchased an embroidery/sewing machine and have looked for any chance to embroider something. I do have the embroidery file available at my Etsy store.

I adjusted the pattern to fit the face, the hair was made slightly larger to fit the face. I also needed to adjust the pattern for the dress to attach to the face and hair properly.

Once I had cut out the head, hair, dress, arms and legs I laid out the pieces to see how they fit together and to check to see if I needed to make any adjustments.

 

I then began to put the doll together starting with top stitching the hair to the face. You then attach the front head to the front body and repeat with the back pieces and sew the arms and legs together leaving the top open to stuff. With right sides together pin stuffed arms and legs between the front and back. Make sure a little bit of the ends of the legs and arms are sticking out so you are sure to enclose the ends with the stitches, and leave a space unstitched so you can flip the doll right side out. Stuff the head and body of the doll and stitch up the opening.

The dolls are easy to make and personalize and make a great gift that will hopefully be cherished for years. Check the Martha Stewart’s website out for more complete instructions with pictures.


Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies a Homemade Alternative to Mallomars

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My daughter loves chocolate and marshmallow so I checked out Martha Stewart’s website looking for a recipe that she would enjoy. I found this recipe for Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Cookies. It comes from the September 2010 Everyday Food magazine.

I love Everyday Food, I have liked every recipe that I have tried and it is nice to get a whole new set of recipe ideas every month, (10 times a year). It is also available as an app for the iPad, I am currently a subscriber to Everyday Food and Living, and have tried the iPad app free versions of the magazine but I am disappointed they don’t offer a discount for people who are subscribers. I don’t want to pay for an e-copy of the magazine that I already have paid for. I don’t know if there is much difference between the printed copy and the e-copy so I don’t know if it worth paying for both, (I am guessing it isn’t). Back to the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for working
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 9 large marshmallows, halved
  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on high, scraping down bowl as needed, until light, 4 minutes. Add egg and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls, 3 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. With the bottom of a measuring cup dipped in flour, flatten cookies to 2 inches in diameter.

This is where I differed with the recipe. The first time I made the recipe I found it difficult to judge the size of my cookie base, so this time I decided to roll the dough and cut with a 2 inch cookie cutter. It made the cookies more consistant in size, but I think next time I would flatten the cookies a little more. Also when using the cookie cutter I ended up with 23 cookies and needed 12 marshmallows.

Bake until dry and set, about 7 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

Remove from oven and top each cookie with a marshmallow half. I put sticky side down, I don’t know if this matters, but I think it makes it melt more evenly. I also think if you want more marshmallow you could skip cutting the marshmallow and use a whole one per cookie. Bake until marshmallows are soft, 2 minutes.

You can see in this picture that the marshmallows are puffed slightly and are rounder looking then before they were put in the oven. Remove from oven and, with a metal spatula, gently flatten each marshmallow.

Let cookies cool completely on sheets on wire racks.

Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted, 2 minutes. Remove bowl from pan.

The recipe calls for you to set cookies on a metal rack after covering in chocolate. Last time I made them I found that the chocolate around the metal rack making it difficult to remove from the rack so this time I set wax paper on the rack and then the chocolate-covered cookie.

Place one cookie at a time on tines of a fork (below), submerge in chocolate, then tap fork on edge of bowl to remove excess.

Place on wire rack set over a baking sheet. Let cookies set in refrigerator, about 10 minutes.

I am not normally a fan of chocolate and marshmallow cookies, but I really liked these. You could also go another step further and make your own marshmallows for an all out home-made cookie. They are similar to Mallomars only much better tasting. An interesting fact that I found when checking the spelling of Mallomars is that they are only available from October to March and are made here in Canada. If you are craving Mallomars in the off season this is an excellent replacement.


Upcycling: Make a Girl’s Dress from a Men’s Dress Shirt

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I have the Martha Stewart Sewing Crafts book and one of the first projects I wanted to try was making a dress for girls from a man’s dress shirt. You can also find the instructions for this project on the Martha Stewart website. That is one thing I like about Martha Stewart projects is that you can buy the book collection of crafts and recipes, but you can find the same projects on the site.

I used the Martha pattern on a first try at this dress.

I didn’t like the way the sleeves and body were all one piece. I also found that the pattern was sized small, the dress according to the description is for size 4-8. When you download the pattern it is a one size pattern. When I finished the dress it was more like a size 3 not great for my 5 nearly 6 year old. I finished the neck and collar with a contrasting bias tape and embroidered a G on the dress (a la Laverne and Shirley), to hide a small hole made when removing the pocket. I think it was cute, just to small.

So I decided to give the dress another try changing some of the problems from the first attempt. First I made the pattern larger. I had traced the pattern on to Swedish tracing paper and added an inch to the body. I also wanted to sew the sleeves on seperately so I marked a cutting line along the sleeves. I cut the shirt apart along the seams removing the arms and separating front from back.

I then made a a pattern for the sleeve and cut them out of the sleeves.

I began putting the dress together starting by placing right sides of the body together and stitching along the shoulders and sides. Don’t forget to iron the seams.

I wanted to gather the sleeves that I wanted to attach. So I adjusted the serger and did the gathering on the machine. I adjusted the tension on the needles and changed the settings on the differential feed. You can also do quick gathering on a regular sewing machine by increasing the thread tension to the highest number. It is so much easier than sewing to rows of stitches and pulling the threads to get the gather.

Match the seams on the side and the bottom of the sleeve and match the top of the sleeve with the seam at the shoulders with sleeve inside armhole, right sides together. I serged the raw edges of the sleeve and neck, and then I then folded, ironed and sewed the stitch under to finish the neck and sleeve.

To finish the hem I could have done the same as at the neck and sleeve, but I wanted to make the dress a little longer and add a little extra style. I thought about adding a piece of gathered white fabric a couple of inches long. I remembered I had some ribbon that went well with the pink of the dress so I added it. I gathered it in a tighter gather than the sleeves by increasing the tension the thread tension more than I had on the sleeve.

I attached the ribbon to the bottom of the dress with right sides together and then I turned it right side out and top stitched close to the ribbon to keep the hem in place.

Here is the finished dress.

The shirt cost $3.35 at the local second hand shop. I already had the ribbon and it took about 2 hours to make a new spring dress. My daughter was happy with the dress as you can tell from the modelling of the dress.


New Modern Minky Baby Blankets from Snug-A-Bug Blankets

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Green Vine Minky Baby BlanketGreen Vine and Orange Berry are the two newest minky baby blankets from Snug-A-Bug Blankets.

The Green Vine original modern “Snug-A-Bug Blankets” Minky* Blanket is made from super soft chocolate Minky-Dot backed with a bold green and cream vine pattern.

The Orange Berry Minky Blanket is made from super soft chocolate Minky-Dot backed with a bold orange, yellow, and cream leaf and berry pattern.

Both blankets measures approximately 25inches long by 20inches wide, (64x51cm), and topped with cuddly soft minky diamond fabric. They are the perfect size for a car-seat, stroller, bassinet, or baby swing.


Sock Monkeys and Animal Crackers Blankets Back in Stock

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Sock Monkey Minky Blanket

Finally, after much searching, I was able to find some more fabric for both the Sock Monkey and Animal Cracker Blankets.

The Sock Monkey blanket is red cotton backed with Monkey fur-like chocolate minky. Animal Crackers is available with lavender, yellow, or denim minky and has a cute modern print with giraffes, hippos, and tigers.

You can buy these and my new styles for spring at my Snug-A-Bug Blankets Etsy shop.


An Alternative to Plastic-Save the Planet and Stay Healthy

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Sigg Water BlanketsConcern about the environment has made me look at ways to improve our family’s carbon foot print. One of the easiest changes is to stop buying bottled water.

We have a filter to improve the taste of our water and I bought a couple Sigg bottles for me, Jay and Georgia. They are made from aluminum and don’t leach into your beverage, which makes them a great alternative to plastic. I picked our bottles up at http://www.reusablebags.com/

They also carry Klean Kanteen. The Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Sippy Cup includes a 12 oz stainless steel bottle, a sippy adapter and two Avent sippy spouts. which means you don’t need to worry about your toddler and bisphenol-a, BPA.



Another New Spring Snug-A-Bug Baby Blanket and Now with Matching Bib

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An Evening of Damsak Bib and Blanket SetAnother new spring style has hatched at Snug-A-Bug Blankets: Evening in Damask.

The Damask print is a Robin’s-egg blue with chocolate brown print. It is backed with chocolate Minky-Dot and topped with Minky-Diamond.

For the first time time at Snug-A-Bug you can buy it in a gift set with a matching bib. The bib has the same modern damask print and is backed with Chocolate Minkee-Dot and trimmed in brown.