To brine or not to brine…

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Over the last year Mr C and I have been dabbling with a chicken brine recipe.

I was a little skeptical of the process to be honest, I am very cautious when it comes to cooking chicken – to say the least, the thought of a chicken bobbing in a solution for hours really didn’t seem to appeal to me.. the first time we tried it however my apprehensions disappeared!

Brining not only allows flavors to fully permeate the flesh of the chicken, it also creates some of the most juicy chicken I have ever consumed!

Last weekend we decided it was perfected enough to document it here.

The following is a pretty easy and fool-proof way to brine a chicken. Hope it works for you as well as it works for us!

You will need:
1-whole chicken-cleaned and rinsed out (about 4 to 5 lbs)
A large stock pot
1 tbsp red peppercorns
5 Bay Leaves
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp crushed cloves
cold water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar

You will also need to have the chicken in the brine for at least 5 hours – preferably overnight! So, on top of all the ingredients, you also need time!

Step 1 – create the brine solution

Put about 6 cups of COLD water into your large pot. Mix together the peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon, dried onion flakes, crushed cloves, salt and sugar. Stir until most of the sugar and salt appear to be dissolved.

IMG_4098 stirring and stirring… always stirring…

Step 2- Gently place the chicken into the pot.  We always place the chicken breast-side down to allow for the brine to attack the mostly commonly “dry” areas of chicken.. no one likes dry breasts.. … …. … heh.

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Step 3- add more COLD water to the pot until the chicken is fully submerged.  Push the chicken into the pot when you do this.

You can probably see from the picture above that I also have the chicken pre-tied, just makes it easier when you are preparing to roast it!

Step 4 – cover and refrigerate!

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After 5 hours (or over night)  it is time to get that brined chicken into the oven!

Spray a roasting dish with some cooking spray, and remove the chicken from the brine.

Some brine recipes say to rinse the chicken. I do not, I just make sure that all the bay leaves, peppercorns etc are removed from the chicken.  I also pat the chicken dry prior to placing it in the roaster.

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I then used a “greek seasoning mix” as well as onion powder, salt and pepper and rubbed the outside of the chicken.  I also took about 2 tbsp of butter and put it in between the breast meat and the breast skin.  I also placed a clump of butter on the inside of the chicken.

Lastly, because I love my onions, I chopped 1/2 of an onion and tossed that into the roaster as well…

——————————————- ROASTING TIME!——————————————————–

Cover the roasting dish and place in an oven that has been preheated to 375 F.  For a 4-5 lb chicken it will need approx. 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.

After the chicken has been roasting for about an hour, remove the lid/cover to brown the chicken nicely.

Once the lid has been removed, check on it every 20 mins or so to baste. If you notice you are running low on liquid in the roasting dish (should have at least 1/4″ of liquid), add some chicken broth directly into the roaster (not on the chicken, just on the inside of the side of the roaster).

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I served this sumptuous chicken with some stove made dressing, peas, gravy and my famous roasted potatoes.

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For my potato recipe, click here!
Oh yes.. bellies are full, time to sit in front of the fireplace and digest – cheers!

Mrs C Easy Roasted Potatoes

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For this easy dish you will need some mini spuds, I sometimes use white, sometimes red, in this case I found a mix of different spuds and thought why not?!

How many spuds you ask?  How many do you plan on eating?  These are amazing as left overs, fried in a pan and served with eggs etc;

Scrub em down and pat dry, for these types of spuds I never peel them… personal choice..

Chop them and place them in a roasting dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

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I also usually add about 1/2 of an onion as well as carrots-ok I never really have a plan, I look in my fridge and say “eh-why not!”.  Again, however many you use is up to you!

Coat the veggies in about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Then add a dash of salt, pepper and seasonings.  I use a blend of “tex mex” plus “greek”.

I love my spuds seasoned to perfection!

Cover your dish and roast in an oven at 375 F for about 40 minutes (uncover after approx 20 mins).  The veggies are done when you poke them with a fork and they fall apart.

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Voila!

Poke Cake

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Hello again!

I can’t believe it has been over a month since I last posted!  oy vey!  Must make more of an effort to blog at least once every other week!

It is now officially Spring although where Mr C and I reside Mother Nature has other plans, we are forced to deal with snow, then melting, then snow, then melting, then snow.. and well you get the picture.  Because of this all of our outdoor projects have been left on the back burner, by now we were hoping to at least have our raised garden beds done, but we will have to save that for another day!

Because it has been so miserable out our main bathroom project is also on hold (when I paint I like to have at least one window open for air!) Can’t do this while it is cold outside!

Hence I have been forced to occupy myself in the kitchen, shucks?  I don’t think Mr C or his stomach minds!

Almost a month ago we celebrated Easter weekend, I decided to give a Poke Cake a try.  Poke cake you ask?  Quite simply, you bake a cake, then once the cake is cooled you poke holes in the cake and pour a gelatin mixture over the cake, producing a moist, marbled cake.

For Easter I decided to make a Vanilla Cake with lemon gelatin and vanilla buttercream icing!

Step 1

Bake a cake!

You can use a cake mix or your favorite homemade recipe.

When prepping the cake pan, give the pan a spray of some cooking spray, also line the pan with parchment paper-do this even if the cake recipe tells you that you do not need to. Trust me, you will thank me for this tip later!

Due to time constraints I chose a French Vanilla cake mix.

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Once the cakes are out of the oven, let them cool IN the pan (you won’t be removing the cakes from the pan until later!)

Allow the cake to cool completely.

Step 2

Poke the holes!

I used a skewer and poked holes in the layers of the cake (wiggled the skewer a little bit to enlarge the hole slightly).

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Step 3

Make the gelatin.

Mix 2 cups of boiling water into 2 pkg. (4-serving size each) of Gelatin (lemon flavored in this case) at least 2 min. until completely dissolved.

IMG_4081stirring and stirring and stirring

Step 4

Carefully add the gelatin mixture to your cooled cake-I used a spoon to make sure the gelatin got into the holes…

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The top of the cake may start appearing a little soggy, have no fear!  Once all of the gelatin is poured over your cake mixture put immediately into the fridge!

The cake needs to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours preferably over night.

After about an hour, to avoid the cake from drying out, I covered the pan (using a toothpick in the centre so the cake didn’t stick to the wrap).  I also poked some holes in the layer of plastic to avoid moisture build up.

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Step 5 – after 3 hours – or in my case the next morning

Remove the cake from the pan and get decorating!

To effectively remove the cake from the pan, fill your sink with about 3/4″ of hot water.  Place the cake pan inside the hot water for about 30-40 seconds.  Remove pan from water and gently tap the cake out (the hot water will dissolve any gelatin on the bottom of the pan that could prevent the cake from popping out in one piece).

IMG_4087 First layer safely out! (this is where you will now be thanking me for using spray and parchment paper!)

I then smoothed on a thin layer of my special buttercream icing (will hold on to recipe for now!-buah hahaha), and then added the second layer of the cake.

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Once this is done you may want to pop the cake back in the fridge for about an hour – depending on how warm it is in your house.  If you notice the cake is a little soggy you should definitely do this…

Now it is time to decorate with whatever you want to do..

Since it was Easter I piped on a fun buttercream Easter Bunny for the nephews

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I am by no means a cake decorator, however I did receive a super fun cake decorating kit for my birthday via my momma and sister.. soo maybe just maybe I shall improve.

The cake was gobbled up after our Easter meal and had great reviews!  My 3-year-old nephew who was too full to finish his dinner even managed to wolf down his slice…

Definitely will be making this again.. I am thinking maybe a coconut cake with lime gelatin, or even a chocolate cake with cherry gelatin.. hmm.. the skies the limits-be fearless!

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7-up-iscuits

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Last weekend I finally got to try out a recipe one of Mr C’s co-workers wife’s gave me.

We had been talking about biscuits and home-made bread recipes when the topic of Bisquick came up.

I have added cheddar cheese and green onions to the basic recipe before (the recipe that is on the box) which was delicious, but had never heard of adding pop to the recipe!!

Here it is:

Mix together

  • 2 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup 7-up (Sprite or other lemon-lime flavoured soda will work too)

Taking about 1/2 cup of Bisquick mix, spread it onto your counter top, then dump your dough mixture on top and knead until you have a soft dough.  (Dough will be slightly sticky)

Melt 1/4 cup of butter.

Using a pastry brush (I used a silicone one), brush the inside of a 9″ pan.  (I used just a regular cake pan)

Using a large-sized round mould (or in my case because I don’t own any moulds or cutters-I used a medium-sized glass, yes a drinking glass-works the same!)

Way to be crafty self -pause from blogging to pat self on back (self recognition is a must-always-try it-no you’re not crazy-hey-if you don’t pat yourself on the back.. who is gonna??!)  Mr C? Nah he’s busy walking the dog while I make a royal mess in the kitch!

Where was I? ah yes, cut yourself out some biscuit-shaped dough (these can be stars for all I care-doesnt matter!) The kitch is yours, be fearless!

Place them in the pan

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Brush the top of them with more butter

Place in an oven preheated to 450

Bake for 15-20 minutes-until they turn a delicious golden color and are slightly brown on the edges

As soon as they are out of the oven, brush them once more with butter.

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We dug right into these, gosh darn they were good, unbelieveably fluffy and melt in your mouth!

I didnt even pause to take a pic of the delicous fluffiness that were them-drat!

They were great the next day too, cut in half and toasted and served with a boiled egg. OM NOM!

So yummy!  Thanks Mrs H!

Powder Room Nook…

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Last year or so Mr C and I tackled our powder room.

It all started with my love/hate relationship with the nook above the toilet…

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We wanted to do something with the room that would have our guests wowed while they were errr, powdering their noses.. 🙂

We decided after hours of online searching, home improvement books and magazines that we wanted to tile the nook.

Yes, tiles, we can do this!

We knew we wanted either mosaic tiles or some form of small-ish natural stone tile.

To our dismay we had no clue how much they would actually cost!

All home improvement centres we visited had tile that was way out of our range.

We then found Tile Town!

To someone who is planning on tiling an entire kitchen, Tile Town may not be for you as what you see is what you get.  For someone who has an imagination, and has a small area to tile, such as a back splash, a tub surround or a.. nook! this place is perfect! We found natural stone tile that cost us 1/2 of what we had been pricing out in the other stores!

Yippee!

Step 1 – Plan it out!

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Note-when buying natural stone tiles, the color you see is not what you are going to get. Splash some water onto the tile (we may or may not of used a little spit and rub in the store – hey, no water was to be had…until the store worker showed us the washroom) *hangs head* A little fluid will help show what the tiles will look like once sealed.

We also invested in a wet tile saw with a diamond blade for this little project.  The cost of the machine was actually less than what it would have cost us to rent one.  Plus we will probably dabble in the world of tiling again (granted one of us doesn’t lose a finger), so this investment seemed worth while  Also Mr C does like his tools *grunt grunt, he is man, hear him roar with his loud tools of power*

Using cardboard we cut out forms of what the nook was.  This helps when laying out and planning the location of tile. Natural stone tile is uneven, and did you know one of the hardest tile to lay?-First time tilers and the hardest tile to lay.. hrmm.. pushing down thoughts of doubts we pressed on!

Hint-Make the bulk of your cuts at the same time. Once the tile adhesive is down you don’t want to be mucking about going in and out of the house cutting tiles.  Lets proceed calmly.

Step 2-Slop and slap

Yes, slop the adhesive down and slap the tiles on!  Dont be afraid by the amount of adhesive you are slopping down, especially with uneven tiles, if you have a nice build up of adhesive underneath you can push tiles in further than others to create a level surface.

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At this point we had images of the tiles slowly oozing down the wall.  This did not happen, but we were highly doubting ourselves at this point and wondering what the what we had gotten ourselves into!

Dont be cheap and invest in tile spacers as well.  Although they may seem like an unreasonable expense, they definitely helped keep things level-ish.

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Once the inside of the nook was tiled we also thought it would be a nice touch to add a tile border.  Mr C attached a piece of wood along the bottom border to keep things level.  Such a thinker the man is…

Step 3-let adhesive dry

Depending on the type of adhesive you get, they recommend between 24-36 hours of drying time, BEFORE grouting.

The type we chose was only 24 hours

Step 4-seal the tile!

Yes, seal the tile, especially with porous type tiles such as natural stones. If you are planning on using a coloured grout (which we were), you need to make sure the grout will not ruin the integrity of the stones color.. hence.. seal!

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yowza, that looks much better!  We chose a seal that would allow for the “wet look” the best type with natural stones.

step 5-grout!

Mix the grout outside! Messy messy messy, dusty, messy!

slop it on do not be afraid! using a grouting tool, make sure you use a twisting pushing action to get the grout into the cracks good!

depending on the grout you will probably also need to have a bucket of water handy and several rags to wipe off excess grout off the tiles before it dries

grouting done, wipe-wipe-wipe, rinse and repeat

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Step 6-seal again!

yes- the tiles were sealed before, but now the grout needs to be sealed, also because the grout can be gritty, it probably removed a bit of your first layer of seal, so shine it up!

Once the tiling was done, we decided we may as well go full gusto and give the powder room the treatment it deserved. We painted the walls, upgraded the faucet, changed the towel bar and toilet paper holder and put in a new mirror.

We think the results are pretty darn good.

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Now the room is err.. nose powdering worthy!

*high five Mr c* ❤

Ive been thinking…

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Mr C has been trained over time to know when I say “So.. I’ve been thinking”, the results are probably going to end up with a trip to our favorite hardware store and plenty of head scratching and work.
We have been planning for quite a while to paint our upstairs washrooms (both the main bath as well as the master bath).
Side note- Our home was built almost three years ago, the builder did not put bathroom paint in the bathrooms. Over time the water splashed on the walls from basic hand drying or the odd shake from the shower has resulted in water stains on the wall that no amount of scrubbing or Pintrest tips can help!
We have had our color picked out for a while “Pebble”, I would like to think of it as a more milk in my coffee type of color though.
We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast last year and the bathroom in our suite had wainscoting. Ever since I have wanted to put this in my house in some way, shape or form! Enter “So.. I’ve been thinking”.
Our main bathroom, other than the wrong paint choice from the builder, really had nothing wrong with it.. but I loves me a good weekend project!
Here is a few pictures of “before”

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Here comes the long weekend!

Day 1: Cleaning and Prep-do not under-estimate the power of prep, the more prep you do the easier the clean up in the end! Trust me!

IMG_4031Tools of the trade on stand by…

IMG_4034Everything draped and taped!

Speaking of drape… I recommend getting a big roll of plastic instead of the plastic drape sheets, it is definitely more bang for your buck, especially if you know you will be doing a lot of painting and fixing!

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We bought this roll for 10 dollars, we have used it for painting, covering furniture, and even creating barriers to keep dust out of other areas of the house (stay tuned for basement renos).

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I also picked up this gadget  to help paint next to trim, and to save time on taping, it worked for the flat, horizontal planes, but vertical it did not, ended up stopping painting to tape vertical trim areas.

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End of day one: two coats of pebble are on the wall! (Bathroom/kitchen paint)

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I suppose we could have just stopped here, but I still had wainscoting on my mind!

Day 2: Glue, caulking and some trim!

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Measuring twice before cutting, we started with the larger panels, first fixing them to the walls with construction adhesive.  Make sure whatever glue you use can be used on painted surfaces.  It should also have a very fast setting time (the stuff we chose had less than a minute of setting time).  Trust me, your arms will thank you later!

Once the panels were glued down, we then used finishing nails to drive the panel securely to the wall and into a stud, these panels are not going anywhere!

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We then set the chair rail on top, again, more glue and more finishing nails (as the chair rail we chose was thick we had to use 3″ finishing nails to make sure the nail would go through the rail, then drywall, and into the stud.

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Mr C then used a screw driver and a hammer to pound the finishing nails further into the panel and rail.  This allows you to then use wood fill to fill the nail head areas.  We then used white-paintable caulking and caulked the seam between the chair rail and the panel. This is a bathroom with a large soaker tub, we need everything to be water proof!

Once the caulking and the fill is dry, the panel and rail can then be painted.  We chose a high gloss paint, especially for trim and doors in bathrooms. Dont cheap out on this, longevity will eventually pay for itself!

After the paint is dry we then used clear caulking and went along all seams of the panel and rail to make sure no moisture would find its way in.

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Day 3-sealing and finishing touches… and Voila!

As you can see we also used the same trim and went around our mirror, making a frame around the mirror.  We glued this directly onto the mirror using construction adhesive. (Make sure the adhesive says it adheres to glass)

We also upgraded the faucet, found a new towel bar and added some shelves.

Sidenote, we ended up also buying 1″ trim that went along the edges of the panels and to hide the seam where the two panels met.  For the section behind the toilet, we first cut the pieces and then pre painted (no hands of mine would be able to paint behind that toilet!)  prior to gluing the panel on.

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Looking forward to a glass of wine and a loooong bubble bath later on!