New Year’s Favs & Resolutions for 2014

What is not to love about New Years Eve? 

This picture was from last New Year’s, which I was fortunate enough to spend in Barcelona, Spain- fancy-shmancy I know! Look at me just dripping in festivness!!

This year was more typical:

Spent with a couple of close friends: scattegories, sparklers, and more than a couple shots- really my fav way to spend any evening, but New Year’s in particular ūüôā 

I got thinking about what I like so much about New Year’s this year (or rather last year ha ha…)

and here are my TOP 5 FAVS about New Year’s!

#1 Shrimp rings with the horseradish tomato sauce (most delicious thing ever put together)

#2 Over the top glitter being a 100% legitimate make-up look for the night

#3 Sparklers / Fireworks / Confetti explosions 

#4 Champagne (or shots- depending on how classy you’re feeling that night)

AND.. #5 Resolutions— 

This year, instead of making my usual vague and overachieving resolutions, I have decided to make them a little more specific and a little more achievable. And the resolution I finally landed on was all about creativity and this blog in particular. 

So without further adieu … I resolve to:

Post a minimum of 3 times a week to this blog- with possible increases to daily blogging in the future (but let’s not be too hasty yet..). 

One of these posts will be my fixed feature of ‘Soup Sunday’ which will soon become ‘Supper Sunday’ as I am actually starting to see the end of all the soups I know how to make…

The second post will be a new feature ‘Wellness Wednesday‘ (that’s a working title..) because I’m actually really into all things health (having a psych/health degree) and I am always asked by my friends about my diet, motivation & positivity, and other fitness and wellness tips – so that will be a sort of ‘living your best healthy life’ kind of thing. Not to mention I have slightly fallen off the health bandwagon and this will hopefully encourage me to jump back on it! 

Then on top of those two fixed posts, I will post a minimum of one creative post per week– whether it be a sewing project, a DIY, crochet, beading, possibly make-up tutorial (?)- anything creative! 

Then after all of those minimum 3 three posts, I will try to post more things like outings, OOTD, or other tag-style things like ‘my favourites’ or hauls. 

So I am anticipating a hectic schedule for myself this 2014, and hopefully this blog will give me the motivation I need to get all of that done- and possibly build my little community on here! 

Looking forward to the upcoming Sewing and Life Adventures of Emerald Erin: 2014!! <3

xo erin

Soup Sunday: Rich Turkey Stew

You are all about to learn what I do with all of my Christmas leftovers. Turkey Stew. A rich and delicious stew so full of flavour and full of all my leftovers from the big dinner! 

This is- like all of my other recipes- very flexible, and I generally just use everything that I had for Christmas dinner that is still leftover.

Turkey Stew

For the stock:

bones from your turkey (I just take all the meat off the carcass – everything else is left for the stock- this year we had a 14 lb bird)
(also if you like you can roast the bones for 30 minutes in the oven before you boil them for more flavour)
1 large carrot cut in large pieces
1 large onion cut in large pieces
1 tbsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp black pepper corns
enough water to leave only 1-2″ of the turkey not submerged  (approx. 8 cups)

Place all of the above into a large stock pot. I just got this lovely Le Creuset 6.7 L round french oven for my mom for Christmas- and this was the first soup it has seen!

Boil away for 20 minutes covered, and 10 minutes uncovered (approximately). 

Then strain away all the bones and vegetables, leaving a delicious rich stock.

Now to Soup:

1-2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes 
1 or less cups of leftover turkey gravy
1 1/2 cup leftover cooked carrots or cook them in the microwave quick
1 1/2 cup of brussels sprouts halved or quartered
1 cup of leftover corn
2 1/2 cups of leftover turkey broken into bite-sized pieces 
salt / pepper / seasonings to taste 

– you can pretty much put any leftover veggies you have into this- or just your favourites-

Add the mashed potatoes and the gravy into the stock, mixing it all in until it blends in with the stock- this will make your stock SUPER thick, rich and delicious, then add all the veggies and turkey.

Then, the most important step, taste your soup, add the salt, pepper and seasonings until it tastes just how you like your soup to taste- add a little, taste, assess, add more or stop. I used this for seasoning because my mom got it for Christmas and it was there.

Then serve your piping hot and delicious soup to all of your family, who hopefully isn’t too sick of turkey to appreciate your lovely soup!

I served mine with a cheese quesadilla- not traditional, but so delicious!

What do you like to do with your Christmas leftovers? Hope you are all still basking in your Christmas chocolate and looking forward to New Years!

xo erin 

Reflecting on Christmas

I feel like there are so many little Christmas things that I didn’t get to share on this blog, partly because it is such a busy time of year, but also because they all seemed a little small and insignificant for posting. So before it is altogether TOO late- I am going to reflect over a few little things from this Christmas.

Firstly- my minimal apartment decor- which was simple and fleeting- as I generally go home for the weeks surrounding Christmas- but none-the-less I feel like I did a good job at creatively adding some festivity to the apartment. My favourite decoration had to be the bats- a leftover decoration from Halloween that I decided to Christmas-ify with some little hats and antlers.


After (aka- instant Christmas)

Then I had my little tinsel tree, that I decorate in full girly style with all my bling:

And then, what had to be the BEST part of all my Christmas holiday: A crafty visit from my best friend Claire! – It was three days of bliss- all day crafting, wine-drinking & delicious food eating in our pjs!
She brought her very impressive collection of card making supplies:

 And showed me how to make the most beautiful and festive cards- I ended up with these five most beautiful cards!

She had so many nice stamps and an amazing organization system they were all sorted in binders with a page of them stamped beside so you could see what they would look like- such a smart crafter!

We also did quite a bit of cooking, making up a batch of my vegetable beef soup & cheddar biscuits. Along with some deluxe hummus/guacamole/chicken/sprout sandwiches with spiced black beans on the side.

 SO GOOD- and I can proudly say that we were very healthy during our 3 day crafting marathon! Especially being so close to Christmas!!

She also got me an amazing book for Christmas:

which I have been pouring over during my free time this holiday!

Also- more about my Christmas at home–> my mom got me some gorgeous estate earrings:

and we put up our crazy- overloaded fake tree!

All the Christmas things!

Hope you all had wonderful Christmases with friends and family- and most importantly stuffed yourself with delicious food! 

xo erin

My Pie Crust

This recipe has been requested by some of my friends (Claire- this is for you!), generally after I’ve had them over for dinner &  dessert with pastry involved, whether it be a chicken pot pie, tourti√®re, or one of my famous fruit pies. (exemplified here in a tourti√®re)
Before we get started with the recipe, I just want to state that this pastry is not the most picture perfect, glossy, thick pastry. This is a SUPER tender and melt in your mouth pastry, that can be used for the most delicate pies- but that I love so much that I still use for my meat pies and quiches. It is very very tender and delicious, but it will not look like what you generally see on the Thanksgiving magazine covers with the super smooth, glossy top with thick edge- but I LOVE IT!, WAY more than what I think are more ‘tough’ pastries. Anyways. I hope you enjoy it- As you can tell pastry is close to my heart- and this is a recipe that has been passed down from my grandma and is somewhat of a family special tradition. I hope you enjoy it too! 
My Pie Crust
This is very simple recipe. You can make a full batch using a full block of lard which would be enough for approximately 3 pies with tops or 5 pies without tops and some little tarts- it really depends on how thick you roll it (the thinner the better). Or you can make a half-batch, which would be a good amount to make one pie with a top or two pies without tops, with some extra maybe to make some jam tarts :).
For the full batch:
1 lb of lard (tenderflake), cold and cubed
4 1/2 cups of flour (plus flour for dusting your rolling surface and rolling pin)
ice water
Using a pastry blender, cut the lard and flour until it takes on a crumb texture. Alternatively you can use a food processor – but be VERY CAREFUL to not over-mix!!
When you have a nice crumb consistency, add a little bit of ice water (without the actual pieces of ice) and mix with a big spoon bringing it together- keep adding a little bit of water here and there and only mix until it JUST comes together loosely- it will still be crumbly and NOT a smooth dough- you want it only just holds together.
 For a bottom crust, push together a ball of pastry a bit smaller than two fists – dust your work surface with flour (I like to work on wax paper), and dust your rolling pin aswell. Roll out your dough to about 1/4″ thick- it can be tricky to work with , but I promise it will be the most tender, flaky and melt in your mouth pastry. If you have any tears or holes you can patch them up by pressing little filler pieces into holes. I like to lift up the wax paper under my pastry and us it to fold the pastry into quarters and then place it in the pie shell and unfold it- to reduce tears- this pastry is delicate!
 For ease, I like to do my pie tops with little pieces that I roughly shape into leaves, or cut it into strips to do lattice. You can also use cookie cutters for any shape you want- or you can just roll a normal flat top- whatever you like. With the leaves you can always use your pastry scraps from tarts or the pie shells- then you don’t have to re-roll (which will make it tough). The one rule that I generally go by with this pastry is: the more difficult it is being and the more frustrated I get- the more tender it will probably end up- so don’t worry about it- go for the taste not the looks!
I use this pastry for pretty much all pastry needs, be it chicken pot pie or pecan pie. My general rule for pie cooking times is 15 minutes at 375 F, then 30 minutes at 350 F. I find it gives it the perfect golden brown top. 
I hope you like this pastry recipe and that it becomes as much of a favourite to you as it is to me! I used this pastry in my tourtière recipe I just posted, which you can check out here!
Have a lovely Christmas Eve Eve!
xo erin

Not so Soup & Not so Sunday: Tourtière on a Monday

Yes, it is the second installment of a failed Soup Sunday- I was thinking that at some point in the new year this feature might become Supper Sunday instead- because I will eventually run out of soups… but I suppose I can keep it, in this cheating way for a while.

And today is Tourtière!!

1 1/2 lb ground pork
1 medium onion (diced)
1 tbsp butter
3 cups mushrooms (chopped)
1 apple (peeled & diced) 
2 tsp white whine vinegar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup mashed potatoes (mashed with butter & cream/milk)
1 pie shell with top (you can learn how I make my own HERE)

Cook the pork with the onions in a frying pan. Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms in the butter, once they have reduced a bit, add the apple. 

Mix the cooked pork with the cooked mushrooms & apple. Add the vinegar and spices to the pork mixture.

 Then, mix in the mashed potatoes to the pork mixture (I like to save any leftover mashed potatoes in the freezer for this purpose- or I cook potatoes in the microwave and mash them quick with a little butter & cream) 

Put it into your rolled pie shell, and cover with pie top. I make my own pastry, and instead of rolling out a flat top, I like to cut out leaf shapes and lay them over the top.

I made a double batch- so that I could make four mini tourtieres to save in my freezer for lazy winter evenings.

Then bake in the oven at 375 F for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 F for 30 minutes. 
REJOICE in your delicious meal!

And serve with a side salad, or whatever you like.

It might fall apart a little, but I guarantee that it is delicious!
The perfect Christmas Eve meal- nice for lunch leftovers on Christmas day as you prepare your turkey!
Hope you are all having wonderful Monday’s! So close to Christmas!

xo erin

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