Pot Luck Pizza

This recipe is quickly becoming a regular in my rotation. Whether it is a birthday party, work pot luck or a Saturday afternoon snack for Monkey, this recipe is always a hit!

I first tried it at my baby shower, my cousin’s wife made it and I think I probably ate most of it myself that night. I have gone on to make it for Monkey’s baptism, a friends birthday pot luck, Monkey’s first birthday and a Saturday afternoon when I just wanted something yummy with vegetables. 


I have no idea where the recipe came from originally, to me it’s Nicole’s pot luck pizza! 

Ingredients 

  • 2 packs of crescent roll dough
  • 2 tubs of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1pkg ranch powder
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • Vegetables of your choice chapped very small

Directions

  1. Cook dough flat on cookie sheet according to introductions
  2. Whip cream cheese, mayonand ranch powder until blended
  3. Once the dough is cooled spread cream cheese mixture evenly over the dough and top with your favourite vegetables and cheese. 
  4. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

 

Makes 2 pizzas


What is your go to pot luck recipe? Let me know in the comments below I would love to try it out at the next office gathering!

Spring project part 2: planting the seeds

Easter Monday, Monday and I decided t was time to continue our spring project and get the seeds started. 

This was more of a Mama project than a Monkey one so far but he did enjoy the fresh air, and chasing Desmond in the window.


For me it was a little more work though. Over the last month I have been saving our egg cartons, to use as starter planters.

I labeled each carton with the seeds planted inside.

And planted 9 of each plant type.

Then lightly watered, covered and placed in the laundry room window for warmth. In the beginning they don’t need sunlight just warmth. Once they sprout you can open the lids and let the sun shine in!
When did you start your seed for this summer? What are you planting? Let me know in the comments below!

Breakfast at the McGills

This past weekend we celebrated Easter and my birthday, and if there is one thing I love on holidays it’s special breakfasts and brunches. Because we were just the 3 of us this year I didn’t want to do anything too crazy but I did really want cinnamon buns, which can be about as much work as a big brunch. 

I found this awesome recipe on Pinterest (click here) which gave me enough time to prep them and get them ready for the oven before leaving for mass at 10:30.

Recipes like this make me super thankful for my Kitchenaide. Not only does it reduce the time to mix and kneed the dough it also allows me to do two things at once play with Monkey and mix/knead the dough. 


This is especially important when there is so much flour in the recipe! This one calls for 7-7 1/2 cups, which is more than mybpost gym arms can handle right now. 


This recipe makes a ton of cinnamon buns and my first mistake was not having enough baking dishes so I had squish them all into the two dishes I own. But swished and funny looking they stilll taste the same, and went great with mini eggs and mimosas!


You can find the recipe for these easy morning cinnamon buns here.
Ingredients

3 cups warm water

2 tablespoons dry active yeast

6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

1 tablespoon salt

6 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

3 large eggs

7 – 7-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 to 1-1/2 cups butter, divided, softened

2 cups dark brown sugar, divided

3 – 6 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions

Prepare your oven to allow the dough to rise by turning on the light a half hour before starting the recipe of turnin on the oven for a few minutes then turning it off so it is warm not hot.

Add yeast water and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until frothy. 

Then add salt, oil, eggs and 4 cups flour and mix until incorporated.  Add 2 more cups of flour; mix again. Add 1 more cup of flour; mix again. 

Increase the speed to medium for about7 minutes, if the dough is still wet and not just sticky add more flour in 1/4 cup amounts. The dough should not be dry. 

Lightly oil an extra large bowl and transfer the dough into it to rise and place in the warm oven to rise. Allow to rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.  

Once it has risen, punch it down, and allow to rise again until doubled in size

Once the dough has risen grease the bootom and sides of 8″x8″ or 9″x9″ glass baking dishes. 
Divide the dough into three equal portions and roll into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of butter onto the dough then sprinkle a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon over the dough. Then roll and slice into rounds. Allow to rise for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F while the buns are resting. Bake each pan for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. 

What is your favourite brunch recipe? Let me know in to comments below I would love to try them! 

Goals are a dream with a deadline

Now that 33 is here it’s time to set some goals for the next 365 days. Last year my only goal was for Monkey to come home. This year I think I will be a little more selfish. 

I have had a dream of running a marathon sincei was 21. I started running in my fourth year of university and blew out my left knee. I tried again at 23 and did really well but when my running partner moved away I struggled to maintain my routine. Every few year after that I have started and stopped with goals of running a marathon at 25, before 30, at 30 and now with 35 only a few year away I will set this goal again by 35 I will have run a marathon.


My next goal is for our family. I want the three of us to travel to the beach when it’s freezing here. Whether that means Christmas at Disney, January in Hawaii or February at an all inclusive in the Caribbean, we will have a sun break this winter


And lastly my third goal is to challenge myself to try 2 new healthy recipes a month and blog about it here. I hope you will all enjoy them and share them with your friends! 


I can’t wait to see what this year brings and I hope you join me for the journey! 

What was 33 like for you? Do you make birthday goals? What was your favourite? Let me know if the comments below!

10 Things about 32

I LOVE my Birthday. It’s my most favourite day of the year. It always falls on my favourite week in the best month of the year, April 16… TODAY!!! Yay!!! 🎉

And in celebration of my special day here is a list of 10 things that made 32 so special.

  1. Monkey was home for my first Mother’s Day
  2. Michael and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary 
  3. Michael and I both brought Monkey home to meet our families.
  4. We had our first Christmas in our new house.
  5. I mastered the pizza stone
  6. And rye bread on the pizza stone
  7. I got really sick but got my priorities straight because of it
  8. I spent the entire year loving these Monkey  feet​.
  9. I learned the power of regular pedicures… especially in the winter.
  10. I Started Dinner at the McGills and I’m enjoying every minute of it! 

Even though 32 began with a pod party, it turned out to be a magnificent year, that flew by far too quickly! I am so excited to see what 33 brings!

    Knowing I’m “that mom”

    One of the things that has made going back to work a lot easier for me is realizing what kind of mom I am. 

    When Monkey was first born Mommying was easy for me. We had a strict routine and schedule, and Monkey loved cuddles. All things I am good at scheduling and  baby cuddles. When he was discharged I also rocked that with my Erin Condren full of appointments and diaper days, treatment papers and strict rules from the medical team about what to do and what not to do, activity days and planned pajama days. 

    As Monkey grew, learned and professionals discharged him from programs and we had more and more time I home I started to realize there are some things I am not great at in the Mommying department, like playing. I am terrible at playing, especially when it comes to being the person leading the play, and realizing this really made me sad. 

    I always knew play was never my strong suit, when I was a child I liked to colour, bake and read more than play dolls or house; but I had hoped that once I had my own little I would be able figure it out and enjoy it. That did not happen for me, not even a little. I love spending time with Monkey and watching him discover the world and learn new things but I really needed to work up all my energy to play farm or trucks and even at 10 months old he knew I was not great at it. 

    When we finally found a day home for Monkey and I saw how much he would be played with that really put my heart at ease about going back to work. While there he will have his imagination stimulated and he will meet so many friends to play with and have someone who is actually good at helping him grow this way.

    While realizing the things I’m not very good at I also realized the things I am good at. I am the mom who will make sure that Monkey has a good routine, he will make bread and homemade cookies with me on the weekends. I will be a mom who take him to Disneyworld when he’s too young to know how to enjoy it and again when he old enough to ride all the roller coasters. I am the mom who is already planning a trip to the Vatican for his confirmation year and  an adventure to Hawaii so he can see the sea turtles. 

    And while being a working mom and going on adventures and planning to plan may not make up for my lack of play skills, it’s what I do well and I will do it every day for my little Monkey, and I’m really ok with that.  I know that going to work everyday gives him a chance to learn more than I could ever teach him, and me an opportunity to give him the best part of me. 

    What is your best mommy skill? Let me know in the comments below!

    Dinner at the McGills

    Anyone who follows my Instagram (@the_mcgills2015) knows my favourite pass time is cooking for my family and friends. 

    And my most favourite time to cook for them is Sunday dinners, especially during Lent. After fasting all week it’s nice to sit down with loved ones and eat a nice warm dinner with a glass of wine. 
    This is my first Sunday back at the office and after an exhausting week I still managed to pull together a yummy meal for us to enjoy. I know roast dinners can be beyond intimidating to many but really they are some of the simplest recipes in my artillery. There is no reason for someone who wants to cook a big Sunday shouldn’t be able to. Trust me, this is where I started cooking and my skills only grew from here.

    Roasted pork shoulder and carrots with potato scallop au gratin


    When starting to learn how to make Sunday roast your first and forever best friend is your grocery flyer and a well stocked pantry. I alway pick up which ever roast is on sale and because we have a deep freeze I usually pick up a few. It’s great when the roasting chickens are on for about $6 a piece, even if they aren’t very big you can make soup with the bones the next day or toss the carcass in the freezer for soup another day. 

    My potato box in my pantry is always well stocked with root vegetables like turnip, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes and of course potatoes. This way I always have sides that are quick and easy and are yummiest when roasted. 

    You next best friend is your slow cooker. When I first started I would always make a roast beef with potatoes and carrots on Sundays for my roommate and I in university. 

    First I would cover the roast in Montreal steak spice, place in the slow cooker and cover with potatoes, onions and carrots. I would turn it on low in the morning and by dinner we had a great meal to enjoy. This can be done with any roast you wish.

    If you don’t have a slow cooker the same can be done in the oven. For example the roast pictured above I made this week. I flavoured the pork shoulder with seasoned salt, placed it in the roasting pan added 1 cup of chicken stock and then added a few handfuls of carrots. Cooked it in a preheated oven at 300F for 2 1/2 hours. Quickly while I waited for the oven to heat I ran 4 potatoes through the spiralizer, made a quick cheese sauce and made quick and dirty potato scallop (recipe below) that I popped into the oven after about an hour. 

    And my secret for nice an crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside roasts is no matter how you make them once they are cooked place them in a 475F oven for about 13-17 minutes (until nice and brown). Trust me everyone will think you are a pro!

    Potato Scallop Au Gratin

    • 4 large russet or red potatoes
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 4 tablespoons flour
    • 2 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I like old)
    • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
    • 1/2 cup bread crumbs 
    1. Use a spiralizer to slice the potatoes and arrange them evenly in a greased 8×8 baking dish.
    2. In a medium sauce pan melt butter. Once melted whisk in flour, when combined and thick whisk in milk.
    3. Allow milk mixture to come so a simmer then whisk in cheese until melted. Pour over potatoes. 
    4. Speard bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese over the top of the potatoes and cover with foil. 
    5. Bake at 300F along with the roast for the last 90 minutes.
    6. Turn up the heat to 475F remove foil and cook until bubbly and golden (about 17 minutes)

    What is your quick and easy Sunday dinner trick? Let me know in the comments below!

    The 10 things I learned my first week back at work

    I am one week closer to retirement, a lottery winning or another matternity leave, and I have to say I AM EXHAUSTED!!! But I have learned a few things this week that will hopefully make my life a little easier next week. 

    1. EBTs are your best friend…. 5:45am arrives way too soon when you stay up past 9:30pm especially when Monday has immunizations and we had a bit of a rough night… Let’s just say I was a little less made up and a lot less sharp on Tuesday.


    2. Practice family table. This was something we really tried to do as often as possible when I was home but sometimes it’s just easier to feed Monkey, do his routine and then relax with my dinner for the evening. But now that he is an independent feeder for the most part and we have such little time together now this is a great time to play and have some bonding time. 

    3. Crock pots, freezer meals and husbands who make guacamole are your key to success. A few weeks back I made some yummy easy to prep freezer meals that a toddler would eat and planned to have crock pot dinners on nights that life lets me prepare ahead. I was also luck that Michael is off this week so he manned the kitchen and took a huge load off my shoulders. 

    4. Shower at night. No one has time for morning showers anymore, trust me… even on mat leave I was lucky to get a shower before 2 so with changing to evening showers I am much closer to keeping my regular schedule than if I switched it back to mornings. And make sure to dry your hair at night, this just leaves curling or straightening in the am and that means an extra 15 minutes of sleep in for Mama!!

    5. Pack your diaper bad for the week. That’s right on Sunday night put everything you know you need (diapers, wipes, bibs, changes of clothes, toothbrush) in the diaper bag.  That way you only have to add in the few extras like outside clothes that is weather dependent and outdoor shoes in the mornings. 

    6. Do the same for your gym bag… even if you don’t make it there. I knew this week would be way to difficult to actually go to the gym on lunch but now that I have a rhythm I will be implement that into my routine again. If I pack it all on Sunday and it goes in my car Monday morning I think it will help me get a little closer to my goals and not getting to work and having forgot something really helps with keeping goals set.

    7. Leave your heels at the office. No one wants to try and walk with diaper bag, lunch kits, purse, gym bag and work bag in heels when it’s been probably 18 months since you have worn them. Trust me just throw on your mom Toms and slide into your heels when you get to your desk.


    8. Put an entire outfit on ONE hanger. Yup that’s right! I stumbled on this by accident because I bought pieces from Old Navy, The Gap and Rickis to build my back to work wardrobe (capsule wardrobe post soon to come) and because some I bought in store and others I bought online I just started putting the pieces on one hanger so I knew everything arrived and I didn’t end up not wearing some of the pieces because they got lost in the closet. This made mornings really quick and easy.  I only need to decide on one item, pull the hanger and I’m ready for the day. It may take a little longer on laundry day but it is well worth it in the morning.

    9. Evenings are for quality time. The first few days I really felt terrible for being at work instead of hanging out with my little Monkey, and then I noticed how goomy evenings were with him. How I wasn’t reaching for my phone during play times, and bath time wasn’t just for washing hair. Everything had so much more meaning to it because time is so limited. I really treasure my evenings now.

    10. Know that next week will go a little smoother... or maybe it won’t but that’s ok because you are doing your very best! Plus you are one day closer to a vacation right?!?

    What is your number 1 back to work tip for new moms? How did you survive your first week?

    3 Month Check in

    It has been a little over 3 months since my health scare and I am finally in a good routine with my self care… just in time for me to go back to work. I can say that it took the rest of January (after I was well enough to get out of bed) and February to figure out what I needed in self care and that in March I really put it into practice. My day looked a lot like this

    6:30am – Monkey wakes up so we start our day

    8:30am – Monkey goes down for his nap, I make breakfast and head back upstairs to bed where I open the curtains to let the sun in and watch YouTube while I eat my breakfast in bed. I get ready for the gym and relax until Monkey wakes up. 

    10:30am – We head to the gym. This is a great outing for Monkey, he loved the train table in the day care and it gives him a chance to get out of the house and see new people. He is a “gregarious one” as my dad says so daily outings make everyone’s lives easier and at least this way I get a little extra self care in. 

    12pm – We head home and have lunch

    1pm – Monkey goes down for nap #2. Now I am able to do some quick chores, get cleaned up from the gym and do my FAVOURITE chore folding diapers, upstairs, on the bed watching the afternoons hustle on our quiet street. 

    By the time Monkey wakes up from his afternoon nap chores are done, dinner is prepped I am rested, rejuvenated and ready to tackle the next play time. This routine has really worked for me and I really am going to miss now that I am back to work. But change is growth and growth is good right?!?

    So how do I plan on keeping a baby/life/work balance now that I am split three ways instead of two? Well I am not completely sure… You see I am returning to work in a new role that is more team based, so before when I generally worked your traditional 9-5 there was a ton of flexibility so making time for the gym or yoga in my lunch breaks was easy, and I didn’t have a Monkey to pick up at day home so there were a lot of opportunities for self care. I was a typical gym after work, lunch break work outs when I needed to, massage every 3 weeks kind of gal back then.  Now everything will be different I will be learning my new role and working as a team so my 9-5 is not my own anymore and Monkey (or more likely Miss J) will be waiting for pick up promptly at 5:30 and somehow I will have to somehow manage 3-4 work outs a week and hopefully get better at booking my massages regularly again.

    My initial back to work plan is to take it easy the first week. Make my lunch and our breakfasts at night so I don’t have to worry about that in the mornings and make sure they are very healthy. I don’t want to loose any of the traction I have gained since mid January. Then hopefully I will feel like I at least know where my office is next week and maybe I can work in a few work outs on my lunch hours or at least go for a few walks. 

    What I learned when trying to find a routine for myself over the last few months was that it is much better and more successful when you take it slow. I didn’t loose all the baby weight more like maternity leave weight before going back to work but I did splurge on some new work clothes that I LOVE (capsule wardrobe coming soon), and I have a routine that I look forward to doing every day and give Monkey a much happier mama. 

    How did you balance your baby/life/work balance when you finish maternity leave? How many time did you need to change it up to make it work? Let me know if the comments bellow!