Sunday, August 31, 2014

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Do chicken nuggets sum up anyone else's childhood? It's not just me, right?


Well, they were always my favorite. Whenever and wherever we went out to eat:
Burger King

.......Just to name a few. But that was before I was very health-consious, obviously.

These little gems I have for you today are much healthier, and baked. To be honest, I've never deep fried anything in my life. Grease just doesn't appeal. At all. I don't even remember the last time that I ate fast food!

Anyway, you should definitely give these a whirl, they are sooooooooooo much better than McDonald's. Although, I guess that's not saying much, but you get the picture.

Chicken Nuggets
2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 eggs
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
2 slices bread (stale is good. if it is super stale, skip step no. 2)
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

  1. In a food processor, grind the chicken until it forms a thick paste. Add the eggs, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 2 tbsp. oregano, and 1/2 tsp salt, and combine until everything is evenly distributed. Set aside.
  2. Dry bread out by toasting on low until very stale.
  3. Crumble bread into super small crumbs (this can be done in a food processor). mix with remaining ingredients.
  4. Take chicken mixture 1.5 Tbsp. at a time, form into a slightly flattened ball, and coat in breadcrumb mixture. Placeon a baking sheet lightly greased with coconut oil.
  5. Once all the chicken is used (you'll probably have leftover breadcrumbs. Just throw them away), bake in a preheated (400 degrees Fahrenheit) oven for about ten minutes, or until heated through and golden brown and slightly firm. Allow to cool slightly before enjoying!
I hope you like them as much as I do!

<3 Danielle

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thoughts are Stars

Inspired by the quote from John Green, I painted this piece of art several weeks ago on a day when I was feeling particularly scatter-brained. Lately I have been feeling inspired by starry nights and the moon.

There's just this overwhelming urge I get sometimes to paint an image I get in my head. Does anyone else get that?

I am extremely strong-willed. once an Idea gets into my head, theres only a very small chance of stopping me. For example, although I've never {successfully} sewn an article of clothing, around Easter, I got this idea into my head that I needed to sew myself a new dress. So I went all out. Not only did I sew my vintage-styled dress, but I also designed it. In fact, I was finally able to apply the calculus class I took to real life! But that's for another day. . . .

Whats inspiring you these days?

<3 Danielle

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Hello everyone! Remember my garden with the GIANT cucumbers? 
Well, I had to figure out a way to use all of those cukes up, not to mention the plethora of tomatoes!  So, I made this super simple salad. This is perfect for a party, because it can be made the day before, or ten minutes before! Can't get better than that!

I wish I could say that I grew those onions as well, but last year, when I tried growing onions, they all got eaten up by worms (blah!!!).  Does anyone have any secrets to growing onions? I could use some advice!

Anyway, you should totally make this because it's basically a taste of summer, and we need to stretch summer as long as we possibly can, no matter what the school districts or lawmakers say.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad
1 Large Cucumber, Chopped (about 3 cups)
1 tomato chopped, or twelve grape tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp. basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, store in fridge in an airtight container until ready to serve or up to 3 days.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

How to Cut Mango Like a Pro

Mangos are by far my favourite fruit. Yeah, I probably eat more bananas than any other fruit, but to be given the choice between a banana or a mango, the mango would win hands down.

Unfortunately, much of my life wasted away without the knowledge of how incredible this silky, sweet, juicy perfection is. Why was this?
When I was a kid, my mom never bought mangos. She said they were too much work for not much fruit.

I didn't care too much then, because I had no idea what I was missing out on. But then, one night everything changed. I was probably in seventh grade, and I was over at a friend's house. She cut up mango and offered me a piece. My mom's mango- free reign was beginning it's downfall.

I begged for her to invest in some mangoes, and she gave in. Then came the errors many make:
1) it was under ripe when we cut into it.
2) we attempted to cube their flesh of the fruit while it was still in it's skin
3) we tried to remove the fruit from the skin with a spoon

She stopped buying mango after that.

Years later, I gave them another approach, and this time, I won the battle with the mango. And the rest is history. So for all you mango fearers, here's the secret to success in your match against the tricky mango:

This is the best method, in my opinion, to get the most bang for your buck. Cause mangos are expensive. And I am cheap. 

Also, you're probably not going to want to use a peeler that you got for fifty cents at the dollar store, by the way. Believe me, investing in a good quality peeler will be worth it, not only for mangos, but also potatoes, apples, etc.

So enjoy your mango!

Friday, August 22, 2014

One Pan Stir Fry

Note: sorry this post came a little later in the day than usual, I am out of town staying in a house of no WiFi, so bear with me for the next week or so... I'll do my best to post regularly!

Some nights, I just don't feel like cooking.

Some nights, I have too empty of a pantry to make anything fancy.

Some nights, I just want to eat something delicious, but don't have much time.

Some nights (read: every night), I crave Asian food. 

That's when I make this stir fry.

This is super adaptable:
Don't have the right veggies? Mushrooms, green beans, sugar snap peas, etc. work well
Don't have chicken? Omit  or  substitute cooked pork, tofu, or beans.
No rice? Use quinoa, spaghetti squash, cauliflower rice, or your favourite grain.

So, there is no excuses not to make this!

One Pan Stir Fry

2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
2 cups uncooked rice
3 large carrots
1 head broccoli
2 large stalks celery
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce (I love Little Soya brand)
pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. sriracha sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  1. In a large skillet, simmer rice in water for twenty minutes, or until soft.
  2. While rice cooks, chop vegetables to a uniform size, or as shown in the picture above.
  3. Strain the rice. in the same skillet, steam vegetables until tender, about ten-  fifteen minutes.
  4. Once they are soft, remove steaming liquid from pan, and add rice, chicken, soy sauce, pepper, sriracha, ginger, and vinegar to the vegetables. Heat everything through, and keep heated until serving.
Serves about 6-8

Hope you all like it as much as I do!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Berries 'n' Cream Oatmeal Parfait

Why oh why can't it be summer all year long? Probably because without winter and fall, we wouldn't appreciate summer quite so much. One of my favourite summer features is the fruit. Especially:


I mean, sure, fall has apples and pears, winter is prime for citrus, and spring is the time for rhubarb (at least in my garden), but really? Summer trumps them all.

So here's a recipe calling for berries. Enjoy it now as we cling to the last wisps of summer, or forever hold your peace (because really, winter lasts FOREVER).

Berries 'n' Cream Oatmeal Parfait
Serves one

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup almond milk, or milk of choice
4 strawberries, stems removed
6 blackberries
15 blueberries
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
Sweetener of choice to taste, optional
3/4 cup yoghurt of choice
Optional: granola, chocolate chips, more berries, coconut, etc.

1) In a blender or food processor, puree milk, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, sweetener, and vanilla.
2) in a small saucepan, cook oats and milk/berry puree until oats are soft and most of the liquid has absorbed. Cool overnight, or until it's cold. This is sped up if it's placed in a shallow bowl.
3) Layer the oatmeal and yoghurt and optional ingredients in a container. Enjoy immediately.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Autumn Things

Wow, the blogging community has really been embracing autumn! Me? Not so much.

You see, the reason why I dislike fall is because it leads to winter.
This may seem like a strange statement considering that my favorite season is summer, then winter, then spring, then fall. winter is boosted up to second place for several reasons, one being that my business really picks up in the winter (I sell heating pads and greeting cards). 

But the main reason is Christmas, which not only symbolized Jesus's birth, but also it just fills the air with joy and love and cheerfulness.  also, I looove Christmas carols. And Christmas movies. And Christmas lights. And Christmas trees. And egg nog. And Black Friday. 

Back on track. Besides, since winter doesn't start until December 20, most of those things happen in fall. so, maybe I do like it. Except for the weather. I live in the midwest, where we have HOT summers and COLD winters. I'm talking negative degrees, people. And that's in Fahrenheit.

So I decided that to convince myself that autumn is a good thing, I'd make a piece of art.

What you'll need:
cardstock (white)
water colors

1) Using different calligraphies, write fill the page with things you love about fall.

2) Fill the spaces with doodles corresponding to the words

3) Using the watercolors, fill in illustrations or letters to create a busy, somewhat abstract masterpiece.

So, do you like fall?

<3 Danielle

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Summer is most definitely my favorite season. No doubt about it. But every year a small part of me aches for cool winter temperatures. Why? One word: soup. I just don't understand why it's less acceptable to eat soup in summer than it is in winter? It tastes delicious year round! Sure, it's hot food, but then again, so are hotdogs, burgers, and baked beans, and those are traditional American summer foods. Hmmm...

Anyway, although I've never been a "rule breaker" when we had a few cooler days last week, I wasted no time. This cauliflower soup is so simple, yet so yum. There are no chunks, if that bothers you, add some extra steamed cauliflower after blending. 
{excuse my chipped nail polish}
So if your like to break rules, if you like soup, or if you get a blast of cooler weather, be sure to put this on your to do list. 

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

2 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 cup rice, uncooked
6 cups chicken broth
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 head cauliflower, chopped
2 c. unsweetened milk of choice (I used cows' milk)

  1. In a 3 or 4 quart saucepan, melt the butter, then add the onions, cooking them until they become translucent. Add rice and 4 cups of the broth and heat them until they boil. After reducing heat, simmer for 20 minutes. Add the salt and pepper before pureeing.
  2. Steam the cauliflower in one inch of water until slightly tender. Remove the cauliflower, but leave the water to reduce to less than one cup.
  3. Puree the cauliflower and the reduced cauliflower water, adding a little of the already pureed soup base, if necessary.
  4. Mix the soup base and the pureed cauliflower in the saucepan. Then add the extra broth and milk. Heat through, adding any extra salt and pepper if needed.
This keeps about a week in the fridge.

optional: Add some larger chunks of  steamed cauliflower to the finished soup if the lack of chunks bothers you. I rarely do this.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tips for Homeschoolers Part One

Wow. School's starting already... where did the summer go?

For some kids, this means getting on the bus every weekday, and heading off to a building of learning, friends, lockers, and school lunches (blah)...

for others, this means heading to the kitchen table and opening a textbook to be taught by their parents.

I personally for my entire education was lucky enough to be in the latter category, so today I am going to be giving some tips for homeschool moms (or dads!).

(Although I do not have any children yet myself, I do hope to homeschool some day.)

  1. Be firm. Make it to your children that school hours are school hours, and TV, extracurricular activities, and such need to be saved for after school hours. For some families, The parent will set a time at which school hours will start and end (such as 9 AM- 3PM), or some set a quota of what needs to be done that day (as in one unit of history, 30 math problems, and so on) and once the quota is met, then school hours end. I personally believe that the second one is more efficient for students who tend to get distracted and are not as dedicated to their work, because it helps them to stay motivated to finish their work.
  2. Become connected with other homeschoolers. From the third grade on, I was involved with a homeschool co-op (attending classed taught by other homeschool parents. The one I attended met once a week), and it helped me to be able to work with others. As a parent, it will be a time to connect with other homeschool parents and receive suggestions on curriculums, techniques, and to receive support. Also, say math isn't your strong suit, as your children get older it will get more difficult to teach them math, so co-ops allow those parents who have math talent to teach your children instead.
  3. Have fun. Yes, school can be fun, and the more your child enjoys it, the more likely he will thrive in school. See a science experiment that involves making a solar system out of marshmallows and gum balls? Go for it, make school fun!
  4. Cirriculum suggestions: Different curriculums work differently for different people, but These are the ones that I love most:
Math: Saxon
Science: Apologia
History/ Geography: Alpha and Omega (Lifepacs)
Grammer: Easy Grammar

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Poppyseed Baked Oatmeal

Well do I have a treat for you! I went into making this without high expectations, but as soon as the first forkful passed my lips, I was in foodie heaven.

Normally, no matter what anybody claims, "hidden" bananas in recipes can be detected from miles away, even if your name is not Sherlock Holmes. And unfortunately, it seems, the less one likes bananas, the better they are at tasting them. Me? I adore them in recipes, as you may have noticed, but I only tolerate them plain, as the flavor os just mediocre, in my opinion. Does anyone else find the aftertaste disgusting?

Anyway, the banana is barely detectable. I say barely because although I could faintly taste it, the flavor blended in so well with the lemon and blueberries that it definitely would have taken home a medal for hide and seek. Does anyone else think hide and seek should be an Olympic Sport? Gosh, that would be fun to watch!

Back on track, Danielle..... okay, so all that to say, seriously, make this. You will not be dissappointed. IT'S LITERALLY THE BEST!

Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Baked Oatmeal
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Poppy seeds
Zest of one lemon
2 tsp. Lemon juice
1/3 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 large ripe banana, mashed
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/4 heaping cup blueberries

1) Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit
2) In a small bowl, stor together first five ingredients.
3) Gently mix in almond milk, banana, lemon juice, and extract, in that order
4) Fold in blue berries.
5) Bake in a greased single serving ramkin until the center is no longer wet, anywhere from 20-30 minutes.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lyric Art

Have you seen this floating around Pinterest? Well it just so happens that it was created by yours truly last year. If you look on the far right towards the bottom, you'll notice my signature hidden within the floral crowd. 

The quote is from a Mumford and Sons song, and I think it is really an important snippet of wisdom to keep in mind as I invest time in my passions. 

Please do not make prints without permission.

<3 Danielle

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Right Way to Crack an Egg

I know, I know, you're thinking, "what on earth? Everyone knows how to crack an egg!)

Well, I always thought I did too:

1. Hit egg against rim of bowl.

2. Put fingers in crack and pull apart.

3. Let white and yolk fall into the bowl.

4. Fish out egg shell bits.

I guess the "right way" might be common knowledge, but I didn't discover it until a few days ago, so just pretend like you're interested.

What I was doing wrong:
    Cracking it on the rim of the bowl...
                                                               goes so. Much. Better. When you crack it on a flat surface. This make it have the perfect sized web of cracks to put your thumbs in before pulling the two halves of egg shell apart. Really.

You're bored? Oh... Sorry.... I thought it was pretty smart.... I'll try to keep my post a a bit more interesting in the future...

 Question of the day: was this news to you, or have you always done it this way?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

5 Things I Look for in a Blog

Okay, I follow a TON of blogs. A TON. But even so, I have my standards. And now that I too am a blogger, I'm setting my goal to change these standard into personal goals for my blog. So I thought I'd share them with you all today.

«1» Consistency. Consistency to me is probably the most important thing a blog should have. I don't like to follow blogs that post something every daybfor a week, take three months off, and then post two more posts, take a week or two off, post five posts, and so on. After a while, I just stop checking in if there's no new content for a long time.

«2» Good photos. Yes, yes, I know, I need to work at this one. But it really is a draw when the photos are well taken.

«3» Variety. Some blogs are dedicated to one thing, such as varieties of oatmeal which is awsome, but if a desserts blog only posts a million different variations of, say, mud buddies (AKA puppy chow), it becomes rather monotonous.

«4» Good blogger-reader relationships. I'm not so sure how I am at this yet, but I really like it when bloggers can be personal with their readers.

«5» Easy to navigate. As you may have noticed, the format of my blog has been changing rather frequently. I want to have a site that's easy to use.  What do you think of the set-up I currently have? Should I change it?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal

I've been having a baked oatmeal craze lately. It never used to appeal to me until out of the blue, I decided to give it a try.... and the rest is history!

Oatmeal is a crazy thing. It's so healthy, but so delicious. That is, if you make it the right way; and this, my friends, is the right way. Brownie-like on the outside, fudgey in the middle, it doesn't get better than this. 

Remember my chocolate pudding oatmeal? If you tried it, then you know it's delicious. Well this is the baked version, which is also delish.

So go ahead, give it a whirl. You won't be disappointed.

Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 tsp. Baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp. Cocoa powder
1 small ripe banana, mashed
1/3 cup almond milk, or milk of choice

1) Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. And grease a single- serving ramkin.
2) Combine first three ingredients.
3) Stir in first the banana, then the milk.
4) Bake until no longer liquidy in the center, or about 25-30 minutes.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

How to Get Some Exercise on Accident

I work out 6 days a week. I walk/run in the mornings and do my daily workout routine in the afternoon. I exercise because it's good for me, and I feel accomplished after I finish. I feel better on days when I work out. But, I would be lying if I told you I enjoy working out.

However, working out doesn't always have to be a chore. Here are some ways of sneaking in some exercise that can be enjoyable:

Hiking. This is fun because it allows you to enjoy nature while getting some exercise.

Biking. Choose to bike to the store, library, school, work, etc. Personally, I love biking, but somehow, it becomes ever so much more bearable when you have a destination.

Walk with friends. Walking (or almost anything) can become exponentially more fun when done with a friend to talk to; they really make the time go by fast!

Skiing. I have never water skied, but I adore snow skiing! It really works muscles that are normally seldom used.

Sports. The only sport I play is tennis. The thing I love about sports is that when you are playing, you aren't thinking about exercise, you are focused on winning. It's totally a mind game.

Dance. Although they may help, wallet-emptying dance lessons aren't even necessary. Just play your jam, and flow to the music!

Shop (!!!). Although this definitely shouldn't be your daily exercise routine, shopping very now and then is actually not bad exercise. At least if you're like me and speed-walk the whole time.

Just be.creative when trying to exercise. Switch it up and try to enjoy it. Other suggestions I have are to:
Listen to audio books during your workout.

If you are on a treadmill, exercise bike, or working out in a relatively stationary fashion, watch a movie. It makes the time fly!

So get out there and have fun moving around! If you have any other suggestions on ways to accidentally exercise, comment below!