Many, Many Meatballs

I’m off work today! I decided at about 10 am  yesterday that it would be great to have another four day week (I had last Friday off, too, for Remembrance Day). My job, although I love it, can be a bit stressful at times. Today I’ve already worked out, done some knitting, and did my meal planning, so I’m feeling good. And I’m about to share five recipes I’ve tested because I can’t narrow things down – they’re all worth sharing! It’s a very meatball-heavy post, by the way.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a soup fiend. I LOVE soup. It’s the perfect lunch, in my opinion. All the components of a meal you could want, in one bowl. This week for lunch, I  took a risk on a soup that I thought might not turn out great. It just wasn’t as photogenic as some of the other recipes in Fast and Slow. But, it was vegetarian (which I like to make sometimes, to save money and for health reasons…mostly the money part) and made in the slow cooker, so I took a risk, and made Slow Cooker Vegetable Yellow Split Pea Soup. WOW, I am glad I did. It was perfect: perfect texture (smooth), perfect taste (lots of flavour, but nothing overwhelming)… just perfect. Although, in the cookbook, the peas aren’t supposed to turn to mush like mine did – they actually appear intact. Mine were totally dissolved into the soup, but I actually loved it. It was creamy without any cream. I can’t say enough about this one.

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Here we go with meatballs, round one: Zucchini “Meatballs” – something I wanted to try for a while, and I’m very glad I did. This recipe is also in Fast and Slow, and the only difference is the book uses 1/4 tsp salt rather than 1/2 tsp. I tried to pretend to my husband that they were real meatballs, but he saw me making them, so it didn’t work… I’d love to test them on someone and see if they can tell the difference. While I knew they weren’t meat, I LOVED them. They did need to cook a bit longer to stay together, but my oven always takes longer than most recipes suggest. This is a great way to help eliminate some meat from your diet! We had them over zucchini noodles (I buy a lot of zucchini) and with a little ricotta on the side.

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I saved the best Skinnytaste recipe as of late for last: a gigantic meatball (meatball round  two). Specifically, Giant Turkey Meatball Parmesan. She is so creative. As soon as I saw this one, I knew I had to make it – I was just so intrigued. It was absolutely amazing!! Better than I could have imagined. We had a house salad on the side from Fast and Slow, and it was the perfect Sunday dinner. The photo is pretty bad, the juice from the meat leaked all over, but I promise it tasted incredible.

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Now a little bit of Inspiralized! I love Ali from Inspiralized. I follow her on Snapchat and he is so upbeat and cheerful all the time, and very creative. I wish we could be friends in real life! But, I can do the next best thing: make all her recipes. Here are two standouts from the past couple weeks.

First, Thai Chicken Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles (yes, that is a third meatball style. I warned you!). Technically, the meatballs aren’t an Inspiralized creation. They’re from another blogger who runs Domesticate Me. She has released a book called the Dude Diet, which I am considering picking up. I haven’t looked into her blog very much yet, but I believe it has quite a few healthy recipes. I generally don’t make recipes unless they’re considered “healthy.” We go out for dinner on Friday nights (tonight!! woohoo!!) so I save my indulgence for when someone else is cooking. I’m actually on a bit of a fitness journey, but I will save that for another day. Anyway, the meatballs: they were fab. I love recipes that change up a classic – like this one, and the recipes above, where instead of regular old meatballs, certain elements are changed. I love making Asian-inspired recipes and this one did not disappoint. Something interesting about this recipe is that instead of using egg as a binder, chia seeds are used. They actually held together great and added a nice texture.

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Last, but absolutely not least: No-Lettuce Jicama Cobb Salad, from Inspiralize Everything. I love trying new ingredients, and jicama (pronounced HEE-ca-ma) was definitely new. I hadn’t even seen it in any stores in Kitchener, but I took a risk and added it to my meal planner. I had to go to three stores, but eventually found it at Farm Boy. Jicama is very mild-tasting, and a bit sweet. It tastes like it might be distantly related to an apple, but it’s a root vegetable so I don’t think it is. I loved it. I am definitely looking for more jicama recipes. Cobb salads are a favourite of mine, and mixing it up by trading the lettuce for jicama upped the flavour in this one. It was amazing. Like I said in my last post, I’m trying to make more salads for dinner, and this was a great dinner salad. Filling, but still light.I added extra egg (one egg per person, instead of half) but otherwise stuck to the recipe. Cobb salads are just so pretty, too. Like a rainbow on your plate.

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I’ve been knitting a lot lately, and will share a few projects soon. I also visited Romni Wools for the first time in Toronto, which I will share thoughts on too! (Spoiler alert: they are very good thoughts).

More Fast and Slow

It has been a few weeks since I posted, and I’ve done a lot of knitting and cooking. I’ll do a food post today, and share a bit of knitting later this week. I need to get into a better habit of posting! Here are a few more recipes I’ve tested out from Skinnytaste Fast and Slow. I have been making new recipes from it every week.

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Kale Caesar and Grilled Chicken Bowl – we had this for dinner last week, and it was both fast and so tasty! The Caesar dressing is homemade which really lightens it up while still tasting great. The only thing I wish I did different was I should have massaged the kale to soften it up a bit. I’m trying to have more salads for dinner, rather than just lunch. Salads are so fast and healthy, especially any of the Skinnytaste salads.

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Slow Cooker Korean-Style Beef Tacos – another winner, of course. I couldn’t find flank steak so I used a different cut (which I can’t remember now… sirloin tip maybe?) but it still was super tender and fell apart in the slow cooker. The cucumber and carrot slaw was a great addition as well. I think I mentioned this before but there is an entire taco chapter in Fast and Slow, and I’m going to try all of them!

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Roasted Red Pepper and Orzo Soup – this was one of the “fast” recipes. I doubled it and had it for lunch at work with a hard boiled egg on the side. I loved this one! It’s extremely flavourful and comes together so quickly. Orzo is a nice change from regular pasta and it doesn’t absorb all the liquid like some larger varieties do.

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Lastly, Slow Cooker Indian Chicken with Peas. I love Indian recipes, and this was excellent – lots of flavour but not too spicy. I had it over brown rice and it was a great combination. I have said it before, but I love my slow cookers. Kitchen gadgets are my weakness… I think what I need next is an Instant Pot – it’s a pressure cooker but also has a slow cooker function.

I’ll post some more recipes later this week, including some great ones from Inspiralized!

Handmade Gifts

A bunch of my friends got married this year, and another is having a baby in December. It has been a great opportunity for crafting! I have handmade something for each of them.

First, for the four bridal showers I attended, I bought everyone pottery and knit them each a hand towel and two dish cloths. The pattern is from Mary Maxim and my grandma has been using it for years. She makes these every Christmas as gifts. I made another set for a buck and doe prize basket as well, and you think I’d be sick of making them, but I really like making these! I used a few different cotton yarns, and tried to pick a colour specifically for each girl that I thought they would like.

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Our first set of friends got married in August. I cross stitched a wedding sampler for the bride and groom. I even framed it myself… which is not something I want to do again. This photo isn’t great, but it was a 5″ x 7″ pattern (if I remember correctly) in quite a bit larger frame. It is a Gold Collections pattern, which is my favourite cross stitch brand.

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Next, we had a September wedding. I knit pillows for them from this pattern. They were simple and knit up very quickly. This was my first attempt at knitting pillows and now I want to make new covers for all the pillows in our apartment! These were knit with Patons Decor, which is nice and soft.

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The last wedding was my best friend’s, and it took place last weekend. I was the maid of honour, and wanted to give her something special, so I decided to knit a blanket. I saw this “Lucky Horseshoes Throw” pattern in the Mary Maxim catalogue and thought it was exactly her style. It was super fun to make as well and I LOVED the end result! This was knit with Mary Maxim Aran Irish Tweed yarn, which knit up quite nicely for being on the cheaper end of the yarn spectrum.

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Lastly, the first of our friends to have a baby are due in December! I am so excited, I love babies and think our friends will be awesome parents. I can’t wait to meet their new addition, and I think I’ll probably be making quite a few things for him or her. For my friend’s baby shower yesterday, I knit the very popular owlie sleep sack and hat. There are tons of photos of this set online, and I can see why it’s so popular – it’s quick to make and absolutely adorable. I used “Diamond Luxury Tradition” yarn in “Azure” and I loved it! The quality was excellent and it knit up super nicely. It’s also machine washable which is nice for baby clothes. I am making this again for a friend at work whose daughter is having a baby later this winter, and I’m looking forward to using this yarn again.

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Phew – there is my wedding/baby gift wrap up. All of these projects were so fun!

As a little bonus project, I also made a cowl for Andrew’s cousin’s birthday. It’s called “Tom’s Crossed Cowl” and I found the pattern on Ravelry. I think I’ll make this one again, it only took about two days from start to finish. I don’t love the quality of this yarn, but I do love the colour!

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Fast and Slow

I am officially obsessed with the new Skinnytaste cookbook I mentioned last week. It is absolutely amazing! I am testing out recipes all week. So far I’ve made three of the slow cooker recipes. I LOVE my slow cooker(s… I actually have three). They are easily my favourite kitchen gadget. My husband and I both work an hour from home in opposite directions, so we spend a lot of time driving. It’s awesome to come home to dinner ready, or at least partially ready.

The first recipe I made was “Stuffed Pepper Soup,” which is actually also on the Skinnytaste website as well as in the new book. I’ve been wanting to make this one for a long time.

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This soup is awesome! It actually tastes better than a stuffed pepper, in my opinion. It’s more tomato-y and so full of flavour. I loved it.

For dinner tonight, we had “Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork Tacos with Charred Pineapple Salsa.”

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They were absolutely delicious, beyond words! The smokey pork flavour with the sweet salsa and vinegary cabbage was so fantastic. We’re having leftovers on Wednesday and I am already looking forward to it.

I made “Slow Cooker ‘Baked’ Oatmeal with Coconut, Blueberries, and Bananas” for breakfast this week as well, but I forgot to take a photo before I divided it into bowls. It was also excellent! I just can’t get over this book! I would recommend it to anyone. When you first start cooking from scratch, it can feel like you are endlessly buying ingredients. After a little while you’ll build up a collection and will have a lot more on hand.

Long Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend is one of my favourite times of the year. This year was especially perfect: the weather was cool and crisp, we went to Oktoberfest, we had a campfire, and… I got the new Skinnytaste cookbook!! Skinnytaste Fast and Slow is officially released tomorrow, but my mom found it on Saturday and picked up copies for both of us.

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This book is amazing. All of the recipes are either for the slow cooker or take less than half an hour to make. It’s perfect for anyone trying to cook more at home because it makes it so easy! I had already made my meal plan for the week by the time I got the book, so I won’t be making any of the recipes until next week.

I make lunches for my husband and myself on the weekends so they’re ready to go all week. For my lunch this week, I made Inspiralized Spicy Asian Chicken Turnip Noodle Soup.

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This soup is one of the best Inspiralized recipes I have ever made! It’s very simple but so full of flavour. I’m so excited that “soup season” is officially here, and I will definitely be making this one again.

I recently discovered The Lemon Bowl (from my mom, who also introduced me to Skinnytaste…are you seeing a trend here? We have very similar interests). I haven’t tried very many recipes yet, but for breakfast this week I made Healthy Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins. They smelled delicious and I can’t wait to try one tomorrow morning!

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Inspiralized: Chicken Tikka Masala with Butternut Squash Fettucine

Inspiralized is one of my all-time favourite food blogs. Ali Maffuci, creator of Inspiralized, has also published two cookbooks (“Inspiralized” and “Inspiralize Everything” – both of which I own) on top of tons of amazing recipes online. I usually make a spiralizer recipe at least once a week.

I have the Paderno three blade spiralizer:

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If you’ve never heard of spiralizing, it’s simple: using a spiralizer, you turn vegetables into noodles (or rice!) which can be eaten in place of pasta or used as part of a whole new recipe. I, along with many others, started out spiralizing zucchini (to make zoodles), but there are so many other vegetables you can use.

This week, I made Inspiralized’s Chicken Tikka Masala with Butternut Squash Fettucine. The butternut squash was spiralized with the thicker noodle blade to resemble fettucine pasta. Squash is definitely one of the more labour-intensive vegetables to spiralize: its skin is difficult to peel, and the hard flesh makes it a bit tricky to process through the spiralizer. The end results are definitely worth the work, though. This type of noodle is generally cooked on a pan in the oven, rather than on the stove.

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This recipe is definitely a winner!

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The flavours went so well together. The chicken was spicy which went great with the sweet butternut squash noodles, and plain Greek yogurt was mixed into the sauce at the end to add creaminess without using cream. It was also very filling. I’ll definitely be making this again!

Stash Busting

I recently made a promise to myself that I would use up all the yarn in my stash before buying anything else. I used one ball…and then promptly bought three new kits. At least I tried, right? The one ball I did use was Patons Classic Wool in “light grey marle.” I picked it up at the Spinrite tent sale in Listowel last year because it was half price and beautiful.

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I am a huge Ravelry fan, and that is where I found the patterns for both pieces above. The hat is for my brother, and the pattern is called “Jason’s Cashmere Hat.” I love the classic cables, and the wool will keep him warm while he’s snowmobiling all winter. The headband was made with the remnant yarn from the hat, and the pattern is called “Saving Grace.” I don’t think it will be extremely warm due to the lace-type pattern, but I do like the look.