More Cheese Please: Casserole for a Cold Night

For someone that loves the holidays, I'm not particularly fond of winter. I hate being cold and I could really do without four months of snow and frigid temperatures. A perfect winter season would last from December 22nd to December 27th; this would provide just enough frost to get you feeling festive and make Christmas feel like Christmas with a little hint of white. Sigh... if only. Since I cannot change Canada's climate, I embrace winter for what it is and for the happy things that come along: oversized sweaters, fuzzy slippers, warm knitted mittens, and comfort food.

Note: Winter is Mother Nature giving us permission to eat more cheese.

Roger and I have started a wonderful new tradition in response to the cold. We make a different casserole every Sunday night and portion it for lunches to last us through the week. So far, each creation has been a heavenly mix of healthy meets hearty--the quintessential combination for taking winter's chill out of your bones. I would attribute our culinary success to teamwork, but I shouldn't misrepresent the truth: I simply motivate the chef.

(And grate copious amounts of cheese alongside him.)

The feature of the week is a Chicken & Rice Casserole with Broccoli, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Cheese!

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The Secret:

- 2 tbsp olive oil 

- 1 lb cubed chicken 

- 1 large onion, chopped

- 1 large can tomatoes, diced

- 2 cups chicken broth

- 1.5 cups rice 

- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

- mushrooms, broccoli, peas, corn (whatever you have in the fridge!) 

- 1 clove garlic, minced

- salt & pepper to taste

- oregano & italian seasoning to taste 

1.) Heat a cast iron pan on high. Add olive oil and brown chicken 30 seconds per side.

2.) Reduce heat to medium low. Add onion and caramelize until soft.

3.) Add diced tomatoes and finish cooking the chicken.

4.) Add chicken broth and bring ingredients to a boil. Add veggies and rice and let everything simmer for 20 minutes. Add more chicken broth as needed. Stir in cheese.

5.) Remove from cast iron pan and bake in casserole dish @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes. More cheese on top is totally optional, but very recommended. Go big or go home, right?

Enjoy! 

Nov 27 - Casserole

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Feeling Wavy and Lazy

Hello all! So my alarm went off at 5:30am for work this morning and the last thing I felt like doing was fussing over my silly hair. It's in a weird in-between stage right now--not too short, yet not quite long enough for my liking--and every morning I am fickle as to whether I enjoy it or not. For those who know me, the length of my hair has been a point of frustration for years; I swear it grows to a certain threshold and then simply stops. Lately, I have been trying extra hard to keep it strong and healthy, so I am growing out my highlights (I'm on Week 17!) and I've been taking supplements to make up for what I'm lacking in my diet. Being peanut/nut allergic takes a lot of "good" essential fats off the table, hence I choose to buy them bottled. (Insert Registered Dietician *tsk tsk*ing me here.) I'm also in a love-hate relationship with my current blonde shampoo and conditioner. I currently use the Joyco Sulfate-free duo. Some days it rinses out of my hair no problem and other days I'll be halfway through blow-drying when I get greasy fingers and I need to wash it all over again. At 5:30am I didn't want to take any chances; I simply wanted to roll out of bed, into the shower, and into my clothes without the uncertainty. I made a game-time decision to revive my high school beauty routine... sans putting on my uniform and picking coloured elastics for my braces. I forgot how easy I had it back then--no detangling, no straightening, no problem! Au natural is the best way to go when you're feeling pressed for time.

November 26 - Crazy curls

November 26 - Crazy Hair

It's so much fun to go curly every once in a while. I accomplished this look from start to finish by:

- washing my hair with just shampoo (no conditioner)

- scrunching upwards while towel drying it

- applying gel

- blowdrying the roots on my way out the door

Et voilà!

November 26 - Styling Tools

My favourite part about this hairstyle is when I brush it out before bed. For a girl with very fine hair it's exhilarating to experience a fleeting moment of wildly untameable tresses.

November 26 - Back

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Counting Down ‘Til Christmas: Random Acts of Kindness

There's no denying it: I have gone from Summer loving to Christmas crazy all in a matter of days. It must be something in the air--snow perhaps? 😉 Anyways, I've jumped on the holiday spirit train and as you can imagine, I am only a few days shy of blasting Christmas music and eating candy canes for breakfast.

With the holiday season just around the corner, I've started thinking about ways to increase my karma points (HELLO Santa's “nice” list) by showing friends, loved ones, and even strangers that I care. I say it's never too early to kickstart the giving season and the best way to do it—random acts of kindness!

I’ve compiled a list of ideas to help make the holiday lead-up merry and bright:

1.)   You know the old Pay It Forward trick, but what about the Pay it Back? Tim Hortons drive-thrus are a well-known breeding ground for kindness conga lines. Spare a few dollars and front the bill for the car behind you.

2.)   Be extra generous, even if all you get in return is a smile. Last year a gentleman offered to pay for my meter parking as I was out of change. All he asked for in return was that I pass on the gesture to someone else.

3.)   Go through your closet and donate your neglected gently-worn items to a Clothing Giveaway. A warm coat can go a long way on a cold day, even if it looks like something your aunt’s friend’s cousin’s grandma would wear!

4.)   Offer to shovel snow for a neighbour or take their dog for a walk.

5.)   Send yummy baked goods in the mail.

6.)    ‘Tis the season for tax write-offs; please put a penny in the old man’s hat… or support your charity of choice.

7.)   Volunteer at a soup kitchen to help those uprooted from their homes and in need of a hearty meal and friendly conversation.

8.)   Be a friend. The holidays can also be a sad time for some. Set time aside to catch up and show old acquaintances that they aren’t forgotten.

9.)   Let someone go in line in front of you at the grocery store, even if they have more items than you.

10.) Adopt a kitten.

You’ll be racking up the karma points in no time! (I went ahead and crossed #3 off my list this weekend. I was enveloped in snow in the process, but it was well worth it!)

December 25 - Donation

Despite my freezing toes, it was a win-win situation. This highly inaccessible large green box is now full of pre-loved treasures AND Roger and I have more space in our closets!

December 25 - Snow

Stay tuned for more exciting holiday adventures!

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Feeling Festive Already… I Blame it on the Snow!

For those that celebrate, December seems to be a socially acceptable time to start decking the halls and jingling the bells in anticipation for the festive season. Growing up, my family always waited until the 6th to start decorating our home--a day that coincided perfectly with my parents' anniversary, the first snowfall, and the coming of an irresistible desire for piping hot cocoa and Christmas carols around the fireplace. Me and my brothers would trim the tree while my mom wrapped garland around the bannisters and my dad tended to the fire. Many wonderful memories were made during those first moments of December. I promised myself that this year--my first year of having my very own decorations--I would carry on the family tradition in my own home. I planned to break out all the glitter and gold on December 6th, or at least until there was enough snow on the windowsills to excuse my eagerness. And then it snowed. It snowed and it snowed and it snowed. Needless to say, after a day and a half of snow squalls my home is feeling quite merry and bright!

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Lost my car

There really are two cars trapped under all that snow!

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I learned quickly that it's best practice to hang ornaments beyond the reach of large and curious dogs.

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And so the Christmas countdown begins! 🙂

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