Category Archives: Let’s Make A Thing

Cooking with Cait : Two Super Salads

When my good friend and housemate Angie was travelling this summer, she picked me up a furoshiki cloth. These cloths are used to wrap up things in inventive and beautiful ways.

Since I’ve had this I’ve been on the search for the perfect Bento box, and I think I’ve found it.

This box is modern, has a stupidly strong seal, is microwave safe, and has moveable compartments meaning that I have great control over my portions and ratios.

Since buying my bento box, I’ve made two meals in it, and I would like to share them with you today.

 Sweet Potato and Avocado Quinoa Salad

YOU WILL NEED

  • 2 Cups Cooked Black & Golden Quinoa
  • 1 Large Sweet Potato
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Minced Red Onion
  • Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper and Salt to Taste
  • The Juice of One Lime
  • Minced Cilantro (or Parsley depending on what you like)
  • 1 Avocado
  • Shredded Daiya Cheese to Garnish

Let’s Get Cooking!

Bring four cups of water to a boil and add your quinoa. While this is happening take the opportunity to peel and cube your sweet potato and prepare the rest of your veggies.

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Take the diced sweet potato and pop it into a pot of salted, boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes. It’s important not to cook it all the way as you’ll be toasting it later!

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In a large bowl toss together the quinoa, bell peppers, onions and avocado.  Then mix your oil, lime juice, salt, pepper and cayenne in a smaller bowl.

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Mix your dressing in with the previously tossed ingredients and allow it to sit while you toast the sweet potato in a frying pan. This step is optional, but I think it adds a nice texture to the salad.

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This is yet another optional step, but you can then choose to garnish with a cheese of your choice. Right now I’m in absolute love with Daiya cheeses. They’re delicious, vegan and it MELTS AND STRETCHES! JUST LIKE REAL CHEESE!

Can you tell I’m excited by this prospect?

Here’s my salad! I had some leftover avocado, so I whipped up a super quick guacamole and added some tortilla chips in my second compartment.

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Pickled Vegetables and Marinated Tofu Salad on Rice

This is a much lighter salad compared to the first recipe, which is great for when you’re feeling like a light lunch. It does, however, pack a great nutritional punch by incorporating a rainbow of vegetables and the use of low sodium soya sauce.

YOU WILL NEED 

  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Snowpeas, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 Small Radish, Julienned
  • Red Pepper, Julienned
  • Carrots, Julienned
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Chopped “Superfood” Green Mix
  • Rice
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • Scallions, sliced on an angle.
  • 3 Tablespoons Low Sodium Soya Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  •  Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • Firm Tofu

A note, this salad is definitely a “prepare the night before” sort of deal, the prep work can seem a bit much, but if you incorporate it into your dinner prep it’s not much work at all.

Mix your soy sauce and five spice powder together in a container add your tofu and allow to marinate for at least three hours.

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When the tofu is done marinating prepare your rice and throw it in the fridge to cool.

While your rice cools, take the opportunity to julienne the vegetables. If you can’t tell, it takes a bit of practice and I’m still learning.

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In your bowl, or bento box make a bed of cooled, cooked rice. This will serve as a foundation and a small midday carbs fix.

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Add the sugar and vinegar into a small pan and boil for five minutes, allow to cool and then add to the chopped veggies and leave it to sit for 30 minutes.

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Lastly toss your ingredients together and dress with a sesame oil/soya dressing and toasted sesame seeds.

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How do you make your boxed lunches special? Whats your favourite salad these days?

Let’s Make A Thing Really Quickly – Oven Mitt Heating Pad

As fall continues to march on the temperature keeps dropping, and I turn into a shivery Victorian Orphan. Wheatley seems to be similar to her mum in that respect so the other day I whipped up these microwaveable heating pads.

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These are cute, incredibly simple to make and can be used to soothe cramps, heat up beds or warm extremities in a snap!

You Will Need

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One 900g bag of rice

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An Oven Mitt

STEP ONE

Fill the mitt with rice up to an inch below the opening at the wrist, finish off by stitching it closed. I used a catch stitch to close mine up.

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To use your heating pad, throw it in the microwave in one minute “bursts” until you figure out how long it takes for it to heat up.

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These projects are great, within minutes you have a physical, functional “thing” and a great sense of accomplishment.

Enjoy the toasty warmness!

All Pumpkin Everything

This passing Sunday marked the first day of fall.

Autumn is by far my favourite season; the changing weather makes everything especially beautiful and crisp, and it’s just cold enough to still enjoy getting cosy.

For me, cosiness means a good story, something to nibble on and a warm drink. It being fall of course, means that everything should be pumpkin flavoured.

Today I’m going to share a Vegan Pumpkin Bread and a Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe. Hope you enjoy!

First … The Pumpkin Bread!

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Unfortunately, I was missing a proper loaf pan, so this does look more like a cake. But I assure you that this is much more savoury and spicy than it is sweet.

YOU WILL NEED

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp  ground cloves
  • 1 cup pumpkin pie filling
  • ½ cup oil – ( I used Sunflower Oil)
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup chopped pumpkin seeds

LET’S BAKE BREAD

Preheat your over to 350, then grease and flour your loaf pan.

Mix together your dry ingredients – flour, sugar, salt, spices, baking powder & soda.

In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients – pumpkin, syrup, oil and water.

Pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl and mix well. Fold in your nuts and seeds.

Add the batter to your loaf pan, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Bake for around 45 minutes.

Once cooled you can add the optional spicy sugar dusting. Simply combine a pinch of all the spices used in the cake with icing sugar and dust overtop.

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LET’S MAKE A LATTE

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As this petition on change.org shows, people are really passionate about their pumpkin spice lattes, and getting them veganized.

Now I don’t want to brag, but I really do prefer the taste of this latte, made with natural ingredients and a “true” pumpkin taste.

YOU WILL NEED

  • 2oz Strong Coffee or Espresso
  • 14oz Milk of Your Choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Filling
  • 1 Tbsp Raw Sugar
  • Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice and (optional) Cayenne Pepper to taste.

In the bottom of your cup add the pumpkin puree, sugar and spices.

Mix in your piping hot coffee and warm milk and “blend” well. I use my handheld milk foamer from IKEA but you could also use a small whisk or even a fork.

Top with cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice or anything else you fancy and enjoy!

How are you enjoying the new season? Are you making pumpkin treats or sick to death of “All Pumpkin Everything All The Time”?

Cooking with Cait : Vegan Mocha Chocolate Raspberry Cake

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Well, I’ve come up with a name for my recipe features. It’s a little cliche, but it’s hard to beat that alliteration!

This Friday the 13th was my dear housemate Gabriela’s 21st birthday. Naturally I decided to make something to help celebrate. I decided on a cake and adapted this Martha Stewart cake with the addition of raspberries, and a few more unexpected changes along the way.

YOU WILL NEED

FOR THE CAKE
3 cups unbleached white flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups natural cane sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 cup water. (I used the Turkish Grind Setting to make my own)
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons  apple cider vinegar

ICING

1oz bittersweet chocolate
1oz 80% or higher dark chocolate
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried raspberries
2 tablespoons soy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Raspberry Jam

LET’S GET STARTED

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees as you begin to prepare the cake.

Using a large mixing bowl sift your dry ingredients together.

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In a smaller bowl combine, the wet ingredients save for the vinegar and whisk in with the dry.

At this point, your cake batter should look like this

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At this point I got so into my baking that I stopped taking pictures entirely, my apologies.

Now you can add the vinegar and stir quickly, it’s important for the reaction to take place throughout the entire batter, so the cake adequately rises.

Line your 9 inch cake pans with a light layer of canola oil and pour equal amounts of batter into into them. Bake for 30 minutes.

As your cake bakes, and subsequently cools you can begin to prepare your icing.

Melt the chocolate and allow it to cool to room temperature. Combine these with your other ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until it achieves the desired consistency.

Here is where your cake and mine will probably differ. I’ve retroactively adjusted the recipe because my cake turned out too wet and fell apart. This lead to my piecing together a second layer and covering said layer in icing which leads to the cake you see in the photos.

Shall we continue?

Add a thin layer of raspberry jam to one side of each cake layer, then cover the jam with a layer of icing. Place the two layers together, decorate and serve!

Enjoy!

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Let’s Make a Thing – Monogrammed, Printed Notebooks

Sometime this summer I sort of became obsessed with Monograms.  They just add this beautiful, personal touch which immediately make everything look incredibly luxurious.

This newfound love combined with my love of pretty school supplies and a University student’s budget created my latest DIY project.

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I picked up some cheap notebooks from the Dollar store and after some extreme couponing at Michael’s (seriously, check their website before you go) which allowed me to create a collection of one of a kind notebooks for under thirty dollars.  However, if you’re a crafty type there’s a chance you have the supplies at home.

So let’s make a thing!

YOU WILL NEED 

  1. Notebooks
  2. Scrapbooking Paper (two sheets per notebook)
  3. White Glue
  4. Varnish
  5. Stencils or Stickers
  6. Cardstock

THE MONOGRAMS 

The first thing I did was make my monograms. Using a teacup I traced out four circles on the cardstock, Then I cut them out and used a sparkly pen to fill in my stencils. I highly recommend using stencils over stickers, you can pick your own colour and use them again and again! I used this kit from Martha Stewart

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Here’s the final product

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Once the monograms are done you can start on the notebooks.

THE NOTEBOOKS

Apply a line of glue at the edge of the notebooks binding and place the scrapbooking sheet overtop of it. Then at a thin layer of glue overtop of the first layer and smooth.

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Open your notebook and fold the excess onto the inner cover. Follow the same gluing strategy as you did when attaching the paper to the front of the notebook.

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After this you can open your notebook halfway and rest it on your crafting table (or floor) and apply your first coat of gel medium and allow to dry.

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The trick to durable notebooks is a bunny helper and many thin layers of protectant.

After your first layer of gel medium dries you can glue on your monogram and cover with another layer of gel medium.

Once that dries you can start applying layers of a matte varnish to seal it all in. I used three layers to finish it off, but in the end it’s your call.

Allow to dry overnight and then enjoy having the coolest notebooks in class!

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Let’s Make a Thing – Nerdfightastic Doormat

It’s 11:45 on Friday. I’m pushing this deadline, but I’m not even a month into blogging, and I don’t plan on breaking promises now.

Though I always knew the difference between a house and a home, it’s only now that I’m realizing how much work that takes. You have to start from the front door inwards, in this case it’s the doormat.

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I chose the saying to represent my Nerdfighter pride, and also to remind myself and my housemates to never forget to be awesome.

This is a simple, sweet, short and cheap DIY so let’s get to it!

YOU WILL NEED

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  • A Doormat ( I used this one from IKEA)
  • Stencils
  • Tape
  • A Measuring Tape/Ruler
  • Spray Paint

Step One – Choose a phrase, spend some time and pick something that will make you smile as you fumble for your keys. Then draw up some drafts and finalize your placement.

Step Two – Unless your a master stencil artist I suggest practicing with a mock up. I had never used a stencil/spraypaint combination before in my life and without my mockups would have ruined at least three doormats.

Step Three – Measure your doormat and calculate the exact centre and use that centre to plot out your phrase.

Step Four – Start taping down your stencils. I cannot stress this enough. Without proper taping your stencils will leak to the point of being unrecognizable. Luckily the sort of rustic look of woven rugs and spray paint gives you a margin of error.

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Step Five – Spray Away!

Step Six – Enjoy your cute new doormat!

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Simple Summer Meals : Gazpacho and Rice Salad

My sister and I are massive fans of The Simpsons, sometimes our conversations will dissolve entirely into Simpsons quotes. This little fact comes to mind because two of our favourite Simpsons references have to do with Gazpacho.

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See also

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But these little references aren’t the reason why any day I have gazpacho automatically becomes a good day, or the fact that it’s my go-to meal during the summer. Gazpacho (and the rice salad I’ve been pairing it with) are light and cool enough for hot summer days, and  filled with fresh, clean ingredients.  It’s also incredibly simple to make, doesn’t heat up the kitchen and stores well!

So let’s make a thing. Gazpacho and Rice Salad.

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First, the Rice Salad. This is an adapted recipe from Jaime Oliver for Chatelaine. The photo above is of a salad made when we were out of wild rice, so it’s regular long grain rice which is just as yummy!

This recipe will make about four servings.

Ingredients

  •  Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 250 g mixed long grain and wild rice
  •  A few sprigs of fresh basil
  •  A few sprigs of fresh mint
  •  A few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 a diced cucumber
  • 1/2 a fresh red chilli
  • 1 lemon

Instructions

Step One : After cooking your rice place it in a large, uncovered bowl in the fridge so it can cool as you prepare the rest of the salad.

Step Two : Remove the fresh herb leaves from their stalks and chop them finely. Chop your red pepper into medium sized bits and dice your cucumber.

Step Three : Cut the chilli in half deseed it and finely chop it up.

Step Four : Make your dressing by combining six tablespoons of a high quality extra virgin olive oil (or cooking oil of your choice) with salt and pepper. Add the juice of one lemon and shake well.

Step Five – Bring the rice out of the fridge and toss in your ingredients, dress with your freshly made dressing and add lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste.

Ta Da!

The Gazpacho is another adapted recipe, this one from a longstanding favourite at my house – The Silver Palate Cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 1 peeled and chopped cucumber with the seeds removed
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 shallots diced
  • 1 28oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar to taste OR the juice of one lemon
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Step One – Chop up your veggies

Step Two – Throw them in a food processor or blender and blend till your desired texture is achieved. I like to keep my gazpacho a little heartier texture wise, but its all about personal preference!

Step Three – Add your oil & vinegar (or lemon) along with salt and pepper and process for just a few more seconds.

Step Four – Put the finished soup in the refrigerator to chill.

Step Five – Once chilled, garnish with finely chopped basil, dill or chives.

BONUS! Try adding a dash of hot sauce or cayenne pepper for an extra kick!

What’s your go to summer meal?