I had lunch with Mom earlier this week and she treated me to Crabfest at Red Lobster. As a seafood lover this lunch was over the top and really hit the spot. It was messy to eat, but that is half the fun.

What I ordered was called the Crab and Roasted-Garlic Seafood Bake. It contained: crab legs, shrimp, bay scallops, corn on the cob, and potatoes. Everything was roasted in a garlic and white wine broth, which was excellent for dipping the signature rolls into. This lunch was a mega hit and I remained happy and full all day.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 29, 2014 10 comments
I recently got a new (to me) camera. Hand me down from my brother to my Mom, and then re-gifted from Mom to me. My digital camera has become increasingly unreliable, shutting off randomly, freezing with the shutter open, corrupting files. It could be a battery issue, but replacing the battery is at least $30, and because the camera is over seven years old, I'd rather put that money towards a new camera (probably an SLR). Until I take the plunge and buy a new camera, I'm playing around with my hand me down one and it's pretty great. It's a point and shoot like my old one (same brand as well), a few years newer than mine. I'm taking lots of pictures and having fun with the new functions.

I did some practice shooting on a bouquet of flowers and I think they turned out pretty well. Going to keep practicing until I figure out all the best settings. I love this bouquet - just gorgeous.

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, August 28, 2014 8 comments
I got an excellent deal on chicken wings on Monday and John quickly made them into a mouth watering meal. He works without a recipe, so I'll give you a rough idea of what he did, but mainly he just sort of winged it. (Bad puns for the win!)

First he split the wings. We had 14 full wings which made 28 split. He put them in a bowl and sprinkled them with olive oil, pepper, and Montreal steak spice (our go-to spice mix).

He spread them on a baking sheet and cooked them at a high heat (450°F) until fully cooked (about 40 minutes), flipping once. 

Once fully cooked, he added the wings to a bowl for tossing.

John made an amazing spicy BBQ sauce for them that included: prepared hickory BBQ sauce, Sriracha sauce, vinegar, chili powder, and salt + pepper. Not sure of the exact amounts of each, but it was damn good! Here are the wings right after the sauce was added. Look at them steam! It had a wonderful smell.

We snacked on wings strait from the bowl while watching the Emmys Monday night. Quite fun. The coriander seeds from the Montreal steak spice added an amazing flavour to these crispy and saucy wings.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 27, 2014 8 comments
I am so excited for my brother-in-law Tab who is heading to Toronto tonight to see one of his favourite artists live in concert. Tom Bailey, previously of The Thompson Twins, is currently on tour playing Twins hits, which included tracks like "Hold Me Now", "Doctor Doctor", and "Love on Your Side". This is the first tour of Twins music is over 25 years and this will be the first time Tab will be seeing these songs live. The tour has been on for the past few weeks, and there is already some footage on YouTube and it looks like Tom Bailey puts on a pretty good show.

So for your 80s Synth Pop Break today, here are a few Thompson Twins songs to get you into an 80s groove.

"Hold Me Now" (a classic favourite)

"Love on Your Side" (Tab's favourite)

Have a great time Tab!

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, August 26, 2014 8 comments
Summer BBQ's are great for catching up with friends and family, but they are even better for all the amazing food! We went to an over-the-top BBQ at Bryan and Betony's last weekend that went beyond typical hamburgers and hot dogs (though we ate those too). There were also crab legs, lobster, shrimp, corn bread, and some home cooked baked beans. All the food was delicious and I took my hamburger up a notch by topping it with baked beans. Yum! Betony shared the baked bean recipe, which turned out to be made with canned beans instead of dry. I had two cans of beans on hand so I made some up at home. They are easy and delicious (although they do take some time in the oven).

The recipe is Simple Baked Beans from allrecipes.com.

In a large bowl, mix together two cans baked beans,1/4 cup molasses, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tbs mustard, and 2 tbs ketchup. That's it.

Put mixture into well greased baking dish (I used an 8x8 disposable one). Cover and bake at 350°F for 3 hours.

The beans thicken up beautifully and have a really sweet and smoky flavour. They are also a bit sticky and little chewy which gives them a stick-to-your-ribs feel. I served them with a bacon and egg bagel for an epic breakfast-for-dinner. So good!

At some point I still want to try making these with dry beans, but this was a fun and easy first try at this yummy dish.
Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 25, 2014 7 comments
It is harvest time and my sisters-in-law brought over a tonne of vegetables from their garden to share.

2 giant bags of romaine lettuce
2 lbs of green/yellow beans
1 bag of peas
4 giant zucchini (about 10 lbs in total)

We are making our way through all this wonderful food and I just love how good it looks piled together. So much goodness!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 22, 2014 8 comments
In line at the grocery store yesterday I had a really good chat with a stranger about Robin Williams and mental health. Robin is on the cover of pretty much every magazine in the check out line and his death has started an important conversation that we need to be having. I am still genuinely devastated by his death and by the amount of pain he was in. It's still really hard for a lot of people to talk about mental health and mental illness, and hopefully Robin Williams can be the catalyst that gets people talking so they can get the help they need to battle it.

According the Canadian Mental Health Association:

Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
The chances of having mental illness in your lifetime is 1 in 5.
Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague

I have anxiety. I have friends and family with anxiety and depression. I have friends and family with addiction issues. I worked in social services for many years and have worked with both colleagues and clients who struggled with mental illness. One of the repeated headlines I saw after Robin Williams death was "depression is real". It most certainly is and I think talking more openly about it is a good step towards getting people the help they need.

If you think you may be struggling with mental illness, please talk to someone. You do not have to go through it alone.

The following are some Canadian resources for depression and anxiety.

Depression Hurts

Check Up From The Neck Up

Anxiety BC

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention

Canadian Mental Health Association

Also the more we talk about it, the more we can try to end the stigma associated with mental illness. Check out Bring Change 2 Mind for more information.


Posted by Jen B On Thursday, August 21, 2014 9 comments
My favourite flowers growing up were a patch of black-eyed Susans that grew along the back edge of the grain field on our farm. They were my favourite because it was always an adventure to get out to see them, which made me think they were special. It was probably less than a kilometer to reach them, but as a little kid it felt like a very long walk. When we finally made it all the way to the back, it was nice to see such beautiful flowers.

A few years ago a friend gave me a potted black-eyed Susan that she grew. We transplanted it into the backyard and it has since spread out and we have a nice patch of these beautiful flowers. They are in full bloom now and I just love looking at all the yellow.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 20, 2014 7 comments
My friend Amanda recently posted that she made Poutine Pizza. The idea was so over the top and fun sounding that it was only a matter of time before I tried it.

For anyone who doesn't know, Poutine is the wonderful mixture of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Seems like an odd thing to put on a pizza, but believe me, it works. Gravy is substituted for the pizza sauce, so there is no confusion of flavours.

I used Amanda's recipe, but didn't go the authentic distance and pick up cheese curds - I just used mozzarella. We also used a poutine add-in, using some deli ham that we thought would taste great on the pizza.

Step 1. Cook up some gravy. I used a package of Poutine Gravy which made 2 cups.

Step 2. Pre-cook your french fries. We used strait cut fries from a bag.

Step 3. Press your favourite pizza dough (we used homemade) into a pizza pan. Add enough poutine gravy to cover dough (as the pizza sauce).

Step 4. Cover in shredded mozzarella. Add some chopped deli ham if desired. Bake for about 20 minutes at 425°F until dough is mostly cooked. 

Step 5. Remove pizza from oven and top with pre-cooked french fries. Spread more shredded mozzarella on top.

Step 6. Top with the rest of your poutine gravy and return to the oven for about 10 minutes (or to desired melty-ness of cheese). Broil for a few minutes to get cheese to bubble.

Poutine Pizza!!!!

This was a really fun treat night meal. It tasted like two amazing things: (1) poutine and (2) fresh rolls dipped in gravy. It was a delight! It was very filling, so we ended up with leftovers that weren't as good the next day. So this might be a great pizza for sharing.

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, August 19, 2014 9 comments
The past few weeks were unexpectedly full. I didn't have any blog posts scheduled so it was pretty quiet around here. With all the running around I wasn't able to roam the blogosphere like I normally do, but I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone this week. And if you're ever looking for me, I always seem to find time to post on Twitter, so feel free to follow me there if you are interested.

In the last few weeks I tried some new recipes and had a few adventures, so now that I'm back on the blog I'll have a few things to write about. I also had an epic wind down on the weekend, where I watched all of season two of Orphan Black in about 24 hours (it was only 10 episodes). It helped me recharge the battery (and also led to some weird conspiracy dreams). That series is well worth your time if you are looking for something new to watch.

So Happy Monday! Hope this week treats you well!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 18, 2014 9 comments
Using a garden fresh zucchini from my sisters-in-law, I made a batch of brownies. I had never baked with zucchini before, but having two giant zucchinis gave me the inspiration to try.

Following a recipe found on allrecipes.com, I gave these zucchini brownies a shot.

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups shredded zucchini

Method (in photos):

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, and vanilla until combined.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

3. Mix the flour mixture with the sugar mixture. I used a whisk for this too and it worked really well as the mix was really dry.

4. Add the shredded zuchinni and mix to combine. It was hard to mix, so I ended up using my hands.

5. Spread mixture into prepared 13x9 pan. It was really sticky so I used a rubber spatula to spread it out to the edges.

6. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350°F. My brownies took 25 minutes. They are done when they spring back when touched.

Frost the brownies if desired. I only had enough cocoa powder for a thin layer of icing, but it ended up being the perfect amount.

These brownies were so good! I had one at room temperature and it was just okay, but once I had one out of the fridge...I ended up having three out of the fridge. They are really tasty cold! If I didn't know they were made with zucchini, I wouldn't be able to tell, which I think is kinda neat. I will definitely be making these again.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 06, 2014 11 comments
My sisters-in-law brought over two giant zucchinis from their garden.

I love zucchini, and I'm really looking forward to eating these. I'm going to try using them in baking, as I've always heard about doing that but have never tried it. I looked up some recipes this morning and think I'll make some zucchini brownies. They sound interesting and apparently the zucchini makes the brownies really moist. I'm excited to see if that's true.

In the mean time I fried some up for lunch, as fried zucchini is a favourite of mine. A little olive oil, a little s+p, and you have yourself a great side dish. Sometimes we even serve it over rice. Yum!

Have you ever baked with zucchini? If so, what did you make?

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, August 05, 2014 8 comments
It's a holiday Monday here in Ontario and I've been having a great weekend! Lots of friends, food, fun, and activities - it is what summer is made for.

The weather has been fabulous - really hot and sunny. I started the weekend catching up with my favourite Wizard Detective, Harry Dresden. I'm about half way through and enjoying it so far.

On breaks from reading on Saturday I baked some gingerbread cookies. Always nice to have treats around on a long weekend.

Yesterday my parents came up and we went on a short visit to the beach and walked around the Elmvale Sales Barn looking for deals.

We picked up lunch at Perky's Fish and Fries, which never disappoints. I got the haddock and chips, Mom got a burger and onion rings. MMMMmmmmm....

After Mom and Dad left, my sisters in law came over on their way to the beach, dropping off garden beans and romaine. The. Best.

Adding to our fun filled day, we hosted gaming night and played a little HarnMaster style RPG and enjoyed some treats.

I made caramel corn which was a big hit.

Our friend Bryan brought some treats to share that he brought back from a trip to Ohio. I don't think you can get this stuff here, so it was neat to try.

The remainder of the weekend will be spent reading and relaxing and probably eating a lot of garden beans. Perfect!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 04, 2014 8 comments
I had a nice visit with Mom last week and we went to Applebee's for lunch. We got the Two for $25 deal, which included an appetizer and two entrées. We started with the spinach and artichoke dip, which was hot and yummy. The chips were so crispy and even the salsa that came with it was fresh and full of flavour. We could have snacked on this all day!

I got the chicken fingers as my main meal and could only eat one, as I was completely full of chips and dip. The one finger I ate was good and the rest came home with me and were enjoyed by John.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 01, 2014 9 comments
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