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January 2017

Around the House

Home Organization Challenge – Week 2 – The Pantry

Well, I barely got the pantry organized this week and it’s still not quite perfect. I managed to clean up some of the clutter that was on the floor of our pantry, like grocery bags and random kitchen appliances, and I renewed some of the storage options in the pantry. Previously, I had used cheap storage boxes from the dollar store to organize my pantry items. However, they were flimsy and it was difficult to lift a box containing heavy items because the bottom of the box couldn’t support the weight. Luckily, Michaels had a sale this week on storage boxes, so I picked up some nice teal storage options that tie in with the colour scheme of our kitchen. Our pantry door is closed most of the time, but I think it’s pretty neat to see the pop of colour every time it is opened.

My spices have always been neatly organized in glass jars so I didn’t have to do much there. I just cleared off the shelf and gave it a good scrubbing.

The floor of the pantry is still pretty cluttered, but I just don’t have any other space to put my kitchen appliances or the big bags of rice that are so common in Asian households!

Anyways, on to week 3, which is the dining room. I don’t have much to declutter in the dining room, but I’ll use some of the time this week to clean the baseboards and blinds. And if I’m feeling inspired, maybe I’ll try to decorate the dining room a bit with a nice table centerpiece!

Is anyone else doing this challenge? How is it going for you guys?

Pantry Before Picture – pile of plastic bag on the floor and cheap dollar store storage boxes

Pantry After Picture – new teal storage boxes from Michaels and a somewhat tidier floor

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Sesame Soy Vinaigrette

You can measure my culinary growth over the years through the evolution of my salad dressings. In my early 20’s when I was single, I had Kraft salad dressing in my fridge…next to my bagged salad, Diet Coke and Grey Goose. In my late 20’s, I started buying the fancier salad dressings, you know, the ones in the refrigerated produce section that came in glass containers instead of plastic squeeze bottles. Now that I’m in my 30’s and I consider myself a decent home cook, I make my own salad dressings.

The components of a vinaigrette are generally the same. There’s the oil component and the vinegar component, and you can just stop there if you want to. However, you can build more layers into your salad dressing by adding a sweetener component and a flavour component. Common sweetener components are honey, white sugar, or brown sugar. Common flavour components that I often see are dijon mustard, soy sauce, or spices (like Italian spice, oregano, etc).

One of my current favourite vinaigrettes is this sesame soy vinaigrette. Even when supper is just a hastily thrown together affair of salmon, rice, and greens that came out of a bag, this sesame soy vinaigrette definitely escalates the quality of the meal!

What are some of your favourite homemade salad dressings?

Sesame Soy Vinaigrette

Print Recipe
Serves: 2 Cooking Time: N/A

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Instructions

1

In a bowl whisk together everything, except the vegetable oil.

2

Slowly add the vegetable oil and whisk until vinaigrette is emulsified.

Canadian Recipes/ Featured/ Meal Planning

Apple Cinnamon Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats

Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal

I have a poor nutrition confession to make: We eat a lot of bacon in our household. I’d say we go through 2-3 packages of bacon a week, and that’s a lot considering there’s only two adults in our household! Baby E isn’t exactly old enough to eat her fair share yet. The reason for the bacon overload is that whenever my husband isn’t working, it is our routine to enjoy a big breakfast together, consisting of bacon, eggs, toast, sliced tomatoes, and coffee. My husband works shiftwork (roughly five days/nights on, five days off), so on his days off I enjoy 5 days of big breakfasts with him. On his five days on, I fend for myself for breakfast.

I’m starting to feel a bit guilty about my five day stretches of bacon & egg breakfasts, so I’ve decided that on the five days that I’m on my own, I will eat a super nutritious breakfast to counteract all the grease from the previous five days (I don’t know if that is scientifically/nutritionally possible, but just humour me).

Keep in mind that when the husband is working, I am also home alone taking care of the baby, so I don’t exactly have a ton of time to prepare myself an elaborate breakfast. I need something that is prepared ahead of time, or easy enough to prepare with one hand, if need be. This is where this amazingly healthy apple cinnamon slow cooker steel cut oatmeal recipe comes in. I prepare this in the slow cooker the day before my husband goes back to work, and it makes enough to last me the five days where I’m flying solo for breakfast. All I have to do in the mornings is take a portion out of the fridge, plunk it into a bowl, sprinkle a bit of almond milk on it, and reheat in the microwave!

All the ingredients, dumped into the slow cooker.

I use almond milk in my recipe, but you can use whatever your preferred type of milk is. I use almond milk because I just recently found out that Baby E has a dairy allergy. I’m exclusively breastfeeding her so every time I have dairy, she gets severe eczema on her beautiful little face, digestive issues, and congestion. So don’t expect to see anymore recipes containing dairy on this blog for awhile! We actually found out about her dairy allergy after the seafood chowder recipe I posted a few weeks ago that contained a cup of milk and a cup of cream.

Since the steel cut oats take 7 hours in the slow cooker, you can technically make this overnight and have it fresh in the morning. I have never made it overnight though, only because I don’t like the idea of having something plugged in and cooking while I sleep. I usually make it the afternoon before my husband goes back to work so that it is ready later that night. I portion out individual servings that night so that it is ready to reheat and eat the next few days.

Give this super healthy and convenient recipe a try and let me know what you think! The weather in Regina is supposed to be on the plus side this week, so I’m happy to have this quick breakfast before I take the baby out and about. We have been going stir crazy being cooped up during last week’s -47 degrees Celsius weather! Enjoy the warmer weather, everyone!

Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal

Print Recipe
Serves: 5 Cooking Time: 7-8 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into little pieces (1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1 1/2 cups of almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel cut oats
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salted butter, cut into 5 little squares

Instructions

1

Coat the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray or vegetable oil.

2

Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker (except for the butter) and stir.

3

Distribute the butter pieces evenly on top of the other ingredients, cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.

4

Store leftovers in refrigerator.

5

To reheat single servings: Put desired portion in microwaveable bowl. Add a couple tablespoons of almond milk (or preferred type of milk), and reheat on high for about a minute. Stir, and reheat for another minute if necessary.