Thursday, 10 December 2015

A holiday project...

Living in rented accommodation we do our best to make it homely but one thing we both miss is an open fire. Now there is obviously no way to fix that at this time but J being the creative genius that he is sent the picture below to his sister and tagged it "operation fireplace" unbeknownst to me.

I came home from grocery shopping to find him knee deep in Styrofoam boards plotting.
Obviously at this stage he had to spill the beans...

He wanted to make a fireplace, to enclose the television on which we could put the fireplace channel from YouTube. So clever!! 

He started by boxing in the base and sides, leaving a gap at the back to avoid overheating of course.
I added my two cents and had him make the top higher and to step out the imaginary bricks. He used no more nails for the adhesive and a few screws to keep things in place while it dried.
Once the adhesive had dried, he filled in the screw holes and any little gaps. Then set about marking out the "bricks", used his dremel to create the mortar gaps and roughen up board to give the "brick" some texture as you can see below.

Once the detailing was finished he primed the whole piece twice and allowed to dry over night. The following morning he was up nice and early giving it a top coat. The paint he got as returns that  Canadian Tire where selling off but the color worked out perfectly. Using a lint free mini roller he painted out the bricks, leaving the mortar spaces the base color. 

After two coats she looked like this......

 He went on to add some light touches of black paint along the base and on the inside bricks to give a smoky illusion. Once dry she was given pride of place and we lit the fire.....
Here she is in all her Christmas glory. I cannot tell you much I love this. It adds such a homely feel to our relatively bland apartment. I'm not sure I could allow him get rid of it after Christmas ;-)


Don't forget to check us out on Facebook or follow on Pinterest, Instagram , Twitter and Bloglovin for updates.
Michelle xxx

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Homemade takeout...

One of J's favorite dishes from back home is ginger beef from one particular Chinese restaurant, after some recent cravings we said we would have to give a homemade version a try. I found this recipe and off we went. Almost as good as the take out only difference being we had to make it ourselves ;-)

2 tbsp  rice vinegar
5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 tsp chile pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
Beef and stir-fry
1 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb top sirloin steak
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 hot chilies,seeded, sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 cups spinach
6 mini sweet corn cobs
1-inch nob of ginger, peeled, cut lengthwise into matchstick shapes
4 green onions, cut in 1/2-inch slices, including the greens
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Chill the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes before you slice it, crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. The cut each slice lengthwise into strips. Chilling in the freezer makes it easier to slice the steak.
Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, grated ginger, honey, red chile flakes, and cumin in a small bowl. Add the beef and marinade to a ziplock bag and mix to coat the meat and let it sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, over high heat until it is nearly smoking. As the oil is heating up, pat the beef dry and separate it into small sections. Working in batches, sauté the beef until just brown outside but rare inside, about 1 minute. Transfer beef to a bowl.
When all of the beef is cooked, put the chilies and garlic into the pan and stir-fry 30-45 seconds. Add the ginger and cook for 30-45 seconds more. Add the peppers, sweet corn and spinach cook for a couple of minutes then add the beef back to the pan. Add the cornstarch slurry. Add the green onions and mix everything together. Cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat off and mix in the cilantro.
Once marinated this dish moves very quick so while your beef is marinating prepare your side dish. We had brown rice, cooked according to the packaging instructions in some vegetable stock I had. Then all that's left to do is plate up and enjoy.
We have made this dish a couple of times now and changed out the veg for something different. If so versatile and easy to make.

As always I'd love to hear how your own recipe trails go and don't forget to check us out on Facebook or follow on Pinterest, Instagram , Twitter and Bloglovin for updates.
Michelle xxx

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Baby got snacks...

 We have been busy working on a few projects over here at teach O'Tuama so to keep my creative husband fed and watered I took the opportunity to try some of the snacks I've had pinned on my Pinterest board for some time. I started with some spicy roasted chickpeas which I came across here 

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed + drained
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes 
 ½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and drain the tin of chick peas.
Grease a baking pan, make sure your pan has a rim of some sort or your peas may go awry.
Toss chickpeas with the olive oil, chili powder, salt and red pepper flakes together in a bowl and mix well. Spread chickpeas into baking pan. 
Bake chickpeas for 10 minutes turning throughout and then bake for an additional 10 minutes. Check at this time for doneness. If you prefer a crisper chickpea bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container once completely cool.
A tasty alternative to chips and dare I say it just as tasty!!

After the chickpeas I started on something more substantial and made up some pasties with a combination of recipes from here and here. As always I use what I have to hand, the filling recipe calls for chicken thighs and fresh herbs, I don't like brown meat so I used chicken breast and as for the fresh herbs, I cant seem to keep those babies alive so I use dried herbs instead. I also doubled the pasty recipe because I wanted to freeze extra portions.

 To make the pasty you will need
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 1/2 tsp. gluten-free baking powder 
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tsp. xanthan gum
10 Tablespoons butter, cold, cut into pieces
2/3 cup shortening, frozen
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup plain yogurt 
4 tbsp.  water
potato starch for dusting
1 egg white for brushing

To make the dough combine all dry ingredients together and whisk thoroughly.
Add butter, shortening, vinegar and yogurt. Cut the wet ingredients into the dry using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, until you can form it into a ball with your hands.
 Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
For the filling you will need

1 onion, diced
olive oil
2 skinless chicken breast cut into small pieces
1 carrot, diced
1 medium potato, diced
1/2 tsp. of dried thyme
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. plain flour
Fry your onion in the olive oil until softened about 8-10 minutes. Add the diced chicken and fry for 5 minutes until brown, then add the chopped carrot, potatoes, garlic, thyme, chili, paprika and nutmeg. Fry for another 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, then pour in the chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in the flour and simmer on a medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the stock has cooked away and you’ve a nice thick gravy. Allow to cool.

After the pasty has been in the fridge for at least an hour its time to get rolling. Divide your dough in half. And return half to the fridge. Then divide the remaining dough in four equal pieces.
Taking one piece at a time kneed your dough on a potato floured surface and flatten into a patty. Between two pieces of parchment paper roll out the dough to about an 1/8 of an inch. I used my Wilton rolling pin guide for this but you can eyeball it. Make sure you use plenty of potato starch for dusting to ensure no sticking.
Cut the dough to your desired size. I wanted ours quite big so I used a bowl, but if you wanted to make smaller ones use a glass or a pasty cutter, whatever suits yourself.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and or line a baking sheet  Lightly coat the edge of half your pasty circle with egg white and place 2 tbsp. of the chicken mixture into the centre of the pasty. Fold the pasty over and press to seal the edges.
Place patties on the baking sheet and brush top of the pasty with some egg white. Bake for 12 minutes then increase temperature to 375 degrees and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes depending on how brown you like them.
I got 6 patties out of a half ball of pasty as I added any cut offs back and I had half the chicken mixture left also which I froze for use another time. I considered going ahead and making up all the patties and freezing them that way but I was concerned how they would hold up. If anyone tries it that way please let me know how it goes. 
 So there you have it some tasty snacks to keep you going. I will get on to sharing the actual projects real soon. In the meantime you can catch up on Instagram or Facebook.
 Hope you have a great week. Happy Hump Day!!
Michelle xxx


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Gluten Free Garlic Mushrooms

A staple on the starter menu in many Irish restaurants, J decided this is what he was missing most from home so we set out to make some Garlic Mushrooms. Gluten Free of course!! 

10-12 mushrooms
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup Gluten Free flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper



 Wipe the mushrooms clean with a dry cloth. You may remove stems if you wish but we left them on.
Mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Add in the water and mix until smooth to create the batter.
Dip each mushroom in the batter, allowing excess to drip off and coat each mushroom in the bread crumbs.
Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large heavy pot to about 350 degrees. Carefully add the mushrooms to the hot oil. Allow the mushrooms to cook for about 7-10 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crispy.
Carefully remove mushrooms from the oil to a paper towel lined plate. Allow the mushrooms to cool for a few minutes before serving with garlic mayonnaise.
To make the garlic mayo I mixed a half cup of mayo with 4 crushed cloves of garlic, and some chopped parsley.

There was some batter left so we tried out a few onion rings too. Not the healthiest of dishes I know but sometimes a reminder of home is just the little pick me up we need....
 Hope your all having a great Halloween week. Check out our funky pumpkins on our Instagram or Facebook page and keep up with the latest projects we have on the go!
Michelle xxx

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Italian job...

Today I would like to introduce you to some friends of ours. They are Laura and Stephanie Hamilton, sisters who recently bought an olive farm in Italy!!
 Yes you read that right.... A Farm in Italy and they have just  recently received their first shipment of their very own cold pressed olive oil from their own trees, grown on their own land here in Toronto. These ladies are an inspiration. It's been a long road for them but they are making progress, This is the first step. They have undertaking courses in bee keeping, cheese making, wood working and have even taken a couple of vacations on a farm in Ireland all in the name of making their move a success.
You can follow their experience on their blog "The Sister's make their Move" here
 Having recently returned from Calabria, Laura has nothing but great things to say about the availability of gluten free products available {we had had the worried conversation prior to trip in regards to being gluten free in Italy, She didn't hold out much hope to be honest} She came back laden down with things for me to try one of which being this awesome pasta from Barilla.
I wanted to try something different for a pasta dish and have really been trying to get more fish into our diets so flicking through Lorraine Pascale's "How to be a better cook" cookbook, I came across this recipe. Now I am all for trying new things but clams are a bit further down the list so I've left them out this time.
 Gluten free chili garlic pasta with prawns
Gluten free spaghetti
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 red chilies, chopped
Prawns, peeled and deveined
1 glass white wine
1 small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper
1 small lemon, cut into wedges 
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water according to the packet instructions, add salt and pepper.

Place the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until translucent, stirring from time to time, 8 to 10 minutes {pay attention to the onions, I burnt my first batch} Add the garlic and chilies and cook for a couple minutes more.

Add the prawns and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine to the pan and cook until the prawns have turned from grey to pink, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain well retaining 1 cup of the cooking liquid, tip the pasta on top of the prawn mixture and mix well. I like to use salad hands for this to minimize breaking up the pasta. Stir in the chopped parsley and season to taste with salt and  pepper.

Place in serving bowls {I got these cool wooden ones in Marshalls during the summer, aren't they awesome} and serve immediately. I added some gluten free garlic bread on the side too as no pasta dinner is complete without garlic bread in my book.

Hope your all having a great week. Happy Hump Day!!
Don't forget to check
us out on Facebook or follow on Pinterest, Instagram , Twitter and Bloglovin for updates.
Michelle xxx

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Slow cooker balsamic glazed pork...


It's that time of year again when the slow cooker starts calling from the corner of the kitchen just praying for some food love. My first trial this autumn was slow cooked balsamic glazed pork. Like all my trials this one has been pinned to my Pinterest board for quite awhile. I've adapted it slightly to ensure it's gluten free but the original wasn't too far off. I also only used one pork loin as there is only the two of us to feed.

1 pork loin joint
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper
4 cloves of garlic crushed
1/2 cup water
1 onion chopped
2 tbsp Honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp cornstarch
First you want to combine the sage, salt, pepper and garlic together. Rub the spices all over the pork joint and place in the slow cooker on top of the chopped onion. Pour in the water, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Towards the end of cooking time combine the honey, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan. Make a slurry with the corn starch and water.  Heat the honey mixture until well combined add the cornstarch slurry and let the mixture simmer, stirring until it thickens.
At this point you have two options either baste the pork joint at 20 minute intervals for the final hour of cooking or remove from slow cooker, baste and place under the broiler for 10 minutes, repeat twice or until you have the desired texture. Use two forks to shed the pork.
While the pork was glazing I mixed up some coleslaw, chopped some tomatoes and prepared some guac. I had my pork on a Toufayan Gluten Free Wrap with some spinach. I cannot recommend these wraps enough, they come in four varieties and are without doubt the best gluten free wraps I have come across.
J wasn't feeling the Gluten free love that day so he had his a whopper of a burger bun. I wasn't jealous.... not one little bit!!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend. We have all of a sudden hit single digits in the temperature here in Toronto. I'm not impressed the big winter coat is out already but I'm looking forward to hibernating in the kitchen, I have so many trials I want to get through.
Don't forget to check
us out on Facebook or follow on Pinterest, Instagram , Twitter and Bloglovin for updates.
Michelle xxx

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The mini moon...

So we are back on Toronto soil as Mister and Misses.
Cannot believe it's been almost a month already

This is the one and only picture we have from the photographer at the moment. I'm hoping to have more soooon {patience is not something I have lots of} The wedding went off practically without a hitch and it didn't rain .. Yes you read that right it did not rain in Ireland!!
We spent a few days on the Ring of Kerry and stayed in the Parknasilla Hotel and Spa  after the wedding just soaking up the fantastic weather and enjoying our first days as husband and wife. Just take a look at these shots, we cannot believe how lucky we where.

 The image above is of "Ladies View" probably the most photographer spot along the Ring of Kerry, It got its name after
 Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting visited Ireland during a royal visit in 1861. They were so taken with the view that it was named after them.

The picture above where taken on the Castle trail on the grounds of Parknasilla. The colors and lighting were amazing.

The walled garden where the hotel has a huge vegetable patch to supply the kitchens daily

Dinner being caught!!

I just love the colors in these stones. They always say we should look to nature for our décor inspiration right.

Dating back to the mid 1800's Parknasilla has seen many a change in its life time. This is the main house with Spa underneath  to the left. There is also lodges and villas available to rent within the grounds.

If you follow us on Instagram you will have seen some other snaps, If you don't pop on over and see what my pretty little country can be like when mother nature plays ball. Or visit our Facebook page  for updates.
Hope your all having a lovely week.
Michelle xxx