Tuesday, December 23, 2014

our out of town guest

Our dearest little sister is in town for Christmas! She came in on Sunday morning, and leaves bright and early on Christmas day. Originally, she was only coming here on the 23rd and leaving on the 25th, however her work partner graciously offered to work a few of her shifts for her. That was super duper nice of her, otherwise she would have only been home for about 48 hours!

My mom and her girls
On Sunday, we promptly went to the family favorite Ricky's for breakfast, followed by a visit to see Odie at my parents house. Then, my family came over for dinner at our house and I made my sisters dinner request: pasta with pesto sauce, chicken, veggies, salad, and bread. (oh and apple crisp for dessert - I make it all the time though so it's not too exciting!) We then went to The Taphouse for a drink. (aka the new Mirage!)

Odie the Christmas puppy - this is his first Christmas with us!

The appetizer I made for dinner on Sunday! I saw this idea randomly on Facebook (I think) but didn't actually click on it so I have no idea where it came from. Isn't it adorable?! It's just cheddar & mozzarella cheeses, tomatoes, pepperoni, and rosemary as the "tree branches."

Yesterday, I worked during the day and had a girly evening with Amanda. We went for sushi at a place we'd never been to in New West called Okonomi Sushi where they serve only pink sushi rice. How cool is that?! It is patent pending and apparently it's quite nutritious for you. We then painted our nails gold. (we know, we are pretty fancy! hehehe)

Today, my mom, sister & I went out for lunch with my Aunty Catherine and cousin Kristin to Cactus Club. Keep in mind there are like 6 restaurants in Smithers...that's about it! I think little sister enjoys eating out when she is here!! I then came home and wrapped presents while my brother and sister went to the mall with out me. Apparently they were buying a "Shedwin" gift and I wasn't allowed to go. I still have a few left to wrap, but those gifts aren't home yet! (they are coming home from work with Edwin today...)

I spy some presents that are possibly for Edwin under our tree!
Tomorrow, we are doing all of our Christmas activities. My Grandma and Grandpa are coming over for turkey dinner (which my dad was working on brining today) and we will do presents tomorrow night as Jen's flight leaves at 7 am on Christmas day. Although that's a tad early for me (and likely everyone else in our family), I am so so glad she was able to come home for Christmas!!! It would have been super weird for her not to be here, especially since it is her first Christmas living in good ol' Smithers.

In other festive news around here, Edwin & I went to The Nutcracker  by the Goh Ballet on Saturday night. It was amazing!! I'd never been to a ballet before, but this was so entertaining. Plus, I didn't realize that I surprisingly knew quite a few of the songs from the ballet. (you would recognize them too!) The dancers are incredible, and the music is really enjoyable. It was a great date night - I even wore high heels!

I know these are really not the greatest photos, but this was some ballroom dancing happening!

Classic ballerinas.

The curtain closing.

We had a Spier family Christmas brunch last weekend, with the whole gang minus Jen, Meryl, and Meryl's fiancee Evan.

Lastly, we have what I call Christmas tulips these days. Aren't they fun?! I like them because they are unique & not your typical tulips.


Monday, December 15, 2014

a food thing post

A few things around the web food-related:

Pizza waffles. Who would have thought?!

Food photography tips.  (I guess my first tip would be to acquire a great camera...)

I need these tips: 5 unexpected ways to use wonton wrappers (I still have some left from the raviloi adventures!) 

Baked broccoli nuggets. After beet fritters, I'm not sure I could convince Edwin of these...haha

I NEED these tea spoons

10  best ways to use cream cheese for the holidays. (isn't cream cheese good with ANYTHING?!)

This article cracked me up: "All the Comments on Every Recipe Blog"

Quinoa sushi. Amanda is allergic to rice, so we are going to give this a try! I'm intrigued.

Samosa stir fry. All the flavors of a samosa, just not deep fried! Must try.

Another must try: pizza with egg on it!

Last but not least, I'll leave you with a fun picture of pears, just because they are a fun color!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

thankful sunday

I'm thankful for so, so much these days!! What are you thankful for??

1. We got our Christmas tree yesterday! I don't know why I was insanely excited, but I was. I must have told Edwin about 80 times during the day how excited I was. It's our first Christmas in this house, so I think just overall that concept to me is very exciting.

We went with my dad to Rona as he was getting a tree too, and that way we could put it on his roof rack. He is also a Christmas tree pro, so that was helpful! Thanks daddio!

2. Heidi & her adorable kiddos. On Thursday, it was Heidi's birthday. Did you know that we've been friends for 25 years?! We met in kindergarten, and on the first day, I went home and told my mom: "I have a new best friend, her name is Heidi, and she has long yellow hair." I'm sure you've heard that store before, but it just still amazes me that it's been so long! Yesterday morning, Lindsay & I babysat our favorite trio of kiddies while Heidi & Tim went for breakfast and to do some Christmas shopping. They are seriously extra adorable. Love you guys!!!

Jack was reading to Harrison.

Julia was all smiles after gulping down her bottle!

Somehow, we managed to get a photo with all 5 of us looking at the camera! A 5-some selfie is pretty impressive, I think.
Happy birthday Heidi! Let's bring back the Barbie birthdays & fancy party dresses...maybe next year?? xoxo
3. A fun place to work. I think I forgot to tell you about this, but I went on a team outing with my work colleagues a few weeks ago. We went to an indoor trampoline park in Langley and actually had tons of fun! I hadn't been on a trampoline since I was maybe 15, so I thought maybe I wouldn't remember my super-duper jumping skills, but it was pretty easy! We were there for an hour, and I probably would have been okay with just half an hour. Boy, is trampolining quite the work out! I was pretty sweaty after a while. Apparenty they have workout classes there too that would be fun to try!

This is us!

A trampoline selfie. Note: that is the foam pit behind me. Only jump into this if you want to spend quite some time attempting to get out of it. I had to have some help...

This was a fun photo shoot! (also a bit sweaty...)

4. Work Christmas parties. Mine was last Friday at Eagelquest Golf Club, and Edwin's is this Wednesday at Dockside Restaurant. (I'm excited for some good seafood at that one!) 

 5. Power outages. Okay, so I know they aren't great, but we try to make the best of it because, well, what else can you do?! We've actually had a few lately. A few were quite brief, but there was a car accident not far from out house two weeks ago and it was out overnight. We put some sweaters on, snuggled, and lit some candles!

 6. Food. In general. I made french onion soup a few weeks ago and remembered how much I love it! Highly recommended for this winter season.We are really trying to not eat out as much these days to assist the wedding budget project, so making new things at home is always fun! (my beloved soup was also in the Province Gastropost last weekend - can you spot it?!)

 7. My "book club." Remember when we actually used to read books!? Now, we primarily just get together to hang out and have girls nights. We also have 2 relocated members, so its a bit different now! Min lives in Victoria & Kristina lives in Toronto, but we all still keep in touch. We ordered Indian food, and our new plan is every time we hang out, we are going to do a different ethnicity/type of night! There are talks of fondue, Greek, Japanese and much more!

Left to right: Lisa, Eliza, Keri, me, Amanda

8. Our family Whatsapp group. I think I've talked about this before, but it's so nice that even though my sister & I don't live at home anymore, we all still talk ALL the time. Probably too much, some could argue! My sister sent this to us a few days ago and I laughed a lot:

9. My friend Christina Wagner. I met her at Kwantlen, and then we actually ended up working together upon graduation. We sat directly beside each other and ate lunch together every day. In October last year, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. She went into the hospital early this year for cancer treatments, and was unfortunately subject to every single complication and side effect one could incur. She passed away last Saturday after a lung surgery complication, at the young age of 26. She will be missed very much!! I'm thankful I got to know her, even for a short time in our lives.

10. Getting to see JC while she was home! She just came back from a 6 month cruise stint, and was only home for 5 days before heading to Arizona for Christmas with her dad. Then, she's off on another 6 month adventure. She will be back in time for our wedding next September though, yay! It's always fun to see her and also hear about her adventures. We made some yellow daal for dinner, in true JC & Shannon fashion!

Monday, December 8, 2014

a birthday post

Today is my little sisters 23rd birthday - can you believe it?? I remember when she was born!! My mom let me have somewhat of a say in what we were going to name her. I showed my strong & honest dislike to quite a few names at the ripe age of 7, and ended up liking the name Jennifer. Matt used to call her "Jeffiner" because he couldn't say her name properly. How did this little Jeffiner grow up, become a policeman, and move to Smithers all of a sudden?! Time flies when you love your fam!

Fun fact about my sis: my mom still calls her Jeffiner to this day sometimes.

Bonus fun fact about my sis: my dad calls her Barney or Barney-oh to this day because of her strong, STRONG love for Barney. (we don't let things go around our house, trust me!)

Extra bonus nickname fact about my sis: we all currently call her Ben, Benny, Benners, or Ferf a lot too. Poor kid - we don't really call her Jen. Maybe when you're the youngest you get the most nicknames - is there research on that?!

Love you Ferf! 

I used to have this super cool app on my phone that did photos like this - I miss it! I used to make my family do this with me ALL the time. This is about 6 years ago. Oh the things my sister has put up with over the years with me!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

beet dip

Last week, I was at my friend Keri's house. She had prepped some appy's for us gals before we were going to head out to a concert that night. She lives right across from Meinhardt, and got beet dip from there. First of all, the color was amazing so we were all fascinated by this. Then, the taste was really great too! It tasted like beets, but not solely like beets. It had a good tang flavor to it as well. Since I looooove beets, I decided to try making it at home!

Beet Dip

8 small beets, boiled & peeled (or roasted - I just find roasting takes a lot longer to cook them)
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup sour cream 
1/4 chopped cashews
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
salt, to taste

After washing beets, boil them until they are soft. Remove skin from them, and place in blender. Add olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Puree until smooth. Add sour cream & goat cheese, and continue to puree. Add cashews, garlic powder, & salt, and continue to blend until the dip appears smooth. Voila!

I think you could likely add more goat cheese if you wanted, but I was mostly making this dip simply for the color. Therefore, adding more white goat cheese to the mixture would have diluted the hot pink color!

There are lots of modifications you could make to this as well to suit your tastes! I was looking up recipes online and saw that a lot of recipes used walnuts instead of cashews. A lot of them also called for an herb, such as thyme or dill. I think that style was less of a creamy, cheesy dip than I was going for, though. 

Oh, and the concert was super fun that night!! Here is my fave song of his: The Sound of Sunshine. Enjoy! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

memory lane

I went down memory lane on Thursday. My parents are away, so I went to go let Odie out since my brother was at work until later that evening. My dad has been doing some painting & updates to the 2 empty bedrooms upstairs lately, and ended up finding a bunch of my stuff that I left in a closet there. It was mainly notebooks, pictures, photo albums etc. He asked me to go through it and take home whatever I wanted to keep. And boy, did I go through it all! I had a hoot going through old pictures. I took pictures of a lot of these pictures because I kept texting them to people as I giggled to myself all the while. See for yourself:

Graduation 2003 - hard to believe that was 11 years ago!!

I put this on Instagram too, but I LOVE this picture and all the memories it fills me with. Nicole & I were young little lifeguards having a blast at work ALL the time. This was taken at an inservice.

I'm not sure what year this was - maybe I was 12 or 13? Our family had always gone to Galiano Island for summer vacations, and for this one, Heidi came along. This photo makes me laugh so hard! (note: my dad STILL calls my sister 'Barney' or "Barney-O' to this day. That's how obsessed she was!!!!)

A random, cute sibling photo in the backyard.

How adorable was my brother?! I think he's 2 or 3 here?

Oh.... my braces days... I think this was around my birthday and I was maybe in grade 5 or 6? We had gone to Planet Hollywood downtown for my birthday dinner (with Heidi, because we didn't do ANYthing apart!) and we got matching t-shirts. Too cool for our own good we were ;)

Remember photo booths in the mall? This was one with my cousins, Robyn & Gina. We were maybe 15 or 16?
This is just a sampling of photos I found. It was really fun just thinking back on things from the past. I found pay stubs from when I was first working at the Y, letters my family & friends had sent me while I was working at Timberline Ranch (as Llama!), and tons of other things. Memories are great!

Happy Saturday! What are you all up to? (I always ask this...but no one ever tells me! It's more rhetorical currently... please feel free to actually let me know what you are up to!) Edwin & I are going to go to Central City this evening for the annual tree lighting at 6:15. Should be festive! Oh, and on the festive note, I am making a wreath for our front door this year. I'm getting artsy in my old age apparently! We shall see how this goes...updates to come!

Monday, November 17, 2014

ravioli update

As promised, I made more butternut squash ravioli with wonton wrappers this time. Wonton wrappers can be found in the produce section of grocery stores - I found these ones at Price Smart by the tofu and veggie meat products. It came with two packages of 50 or 75 (I think?) for about $3.75.

I had filling leftover from the previous butternut squash adventure (below) where I hand made the dough. With these wonton wrappers, you just put your filling in the middle, fold over the wrapper, and make it stick together with an egg wash. 

They were really easy to work with, and relatively healthy too! For 10 of them, they were 100 calories. Probably more healthy than pasta dough which is pure flour...

I made two cookie sheets of raviolis, and they looks much prettier than my hand made ones! I cooked one sheet of these for Edwin & I for dinner, and froze the other sheet for future use.

I wasn't expecting the texture of the ravioli to change as they cooked, but it did. It turned very flimsy and thin, and some of my raviolis fell apart. (or through my slotted spoon!) I boiled them for about 5 minutes, and then put in a fan with some olive oil to fry a little. I thought they might harden up a bit, but they didn't. The texture wasn't bad, it was just not as structured as you would typically eat ravioli.

For the finished product, I put some pesto & goat cheese on top. Pesto goes very well with butternut squash, and well, ANYTHING, so this was a good combo. They were very light to eat since they were so flimsy, but it did make it so that you could taste the filling more, and not dough and filling like last time.

I still have the other half of the ravioli wrappers in the fridge, so I'll have to try another recipe with them sometime before February 2015! (when they expire!) Any ideas??

Saturday, November 8, 2014

my ravioli adventure

I got the grand idea in my head to make homemade butternut squash ravioli. Fall screams squash to me, and at the local market, it is plentiful. The recipes for any homemade ravioli make it sound so easy: mix a little flour, egg, and water together to make a dough. Make your filling, put them together, and voila - ravioli!

Let me tell you that dough is not as easy as the recipes make it sound, especially when mixing by hand and trying to get the dough as thin as possible. That is really what made this a lot of work, the filling part was easy peasy comparatively. I should have learned from my perogy experience, but apparently I didn't!

Pasta Dough Recipe
3 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
½  cup olive oil
½ cup water
Extra flour for dusting
Extra water for molding ravioli

Butternut Squash-Sage Ravioli Filling Recipe
1 whole butternut squash, cooked & mashed
1.5 cups ricotta cheese
Finely chopped fresh sage to taste
2 cloves garlic, roasted & mashed
2 tsps garlic powder
1 tsp Salt
Pepper and/or cayenne pepper to taste
2 tsp butter, for frying
1 small tomato, chopped to garnish
1/3 cup goat cheese, to garnish

First, you roast the squash. I actually did this the day before ravioli day to save some time. I then scraped out the insides and put it in a container in the fridge.  Hint: the squash has this little cavity space under it if you turned over the below squash. Put some garlic under there to roast!

Then, you make the filling for the ravioli. I put extra sage in, because I really like the flavor it provides. I don’t cook with sage too often, so when I do, I use a lot! You could also make lots of modifications as desired: other types of cheese (add some parmesan or use mascarpone instead), substitute basil for sage, or add some spicy sausage. 

And then, my friend the dough comes along. Doing it all by hand is wayyyy too much work. If I had a Kitchen Aid mixer, life would be much easier (note to self for wedding registry!!). I also don't own a rolling pin, so I had to improvise. (Oh, the joys of owning your first home & learning what you need!) 

You roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, and roll. Then you use a round cup from your cupboard to make circles.

You then fill the circles with the squash filling and squish two circles together. You could also make different shapes if you have different cut outs, such as a triangle or square. I recommend using BIG shapes/circles, otherwise you will get very minimal filling in your ravioli and therefore minimal flavor. Use water to squish the edges together by hand. I had to use lots of water to make the two pieces of dough stick together.

Then you have a bunch of flour covered raviolis of all shapes and sizes! I then boiled them for about 3 minutes, and put them in a frying pan with some butter and sage. I added chopped tomatoes at the end as well as some herbed goat cheese (goat cheese goes SO well with butternut squash and sage).
The yield for this recipe was about 35 raviolis of decent size (not all are pictured above). What I made today used about half of the filling and was sufficient for Edwin & I for dinner as well as lunch the next day for both of us (with the remaining filling, I am going to try making ravioli with wonton wrappers, a tip I read online!)

There you have it - the finished product! I grilled some asparagus, zucchini, and red peppers to go alongside, and Edwin had a sausage as well. The ravioli tasted a lot different than store bought butternut squash ravioli, but there is probably a lot more actual squash in the homemade versions than the store version. The flavor of the filling was quite powerful, in a good way! It was fresh tasting, and there was a good amount sage. The ricotta cheese made it creamy and salty which I think is key to the ravioli filling. The actual taste of the dough was good, but it was a bit thicker than it ideally should have been. Plus, towards the end, I was getting a bit sloppy and not removing excess dough from each one.

My recommendation: if you wish to spend 3 hours making dinner, than this was great! I think some sauce would have been helpful - maybe a pesto or alfredo? My goal was to let the squash and sage flavor the ravioli enough, but I would have preferred it with some sauce. I had found this samosa recipe I wanted to try, but it again involves dough. Darn.

I'll update you once I try the raviolis with wonton wrappers later this week. Until next time, ravioli!

PS - Milestones makes an awesome butternut squash ravioli with a roma tomato sauce, basil, goat cheese, and pecan topping. Delish. If you are new to butternut squash, try this!! You'll love it.