Toblerone Shortbread Cookies

Toblerone Shortbread | My Real Life KitchenAs you may or may not have read before, Christmas is like my all time favourite time of the year. The drinks, the parties…THE FOOD. There is just something special about the food this time of year. Maybe because it’s a little bit minty, maybe because it’s consumed with gratuitous amounts of alcohol…probably because of the alcohol.

Anyway, we have a lot of parties to go to and a lot of food to prepare. Typically I bake a lot of cookies and prepare a lot of dips. I always struggle with how to transport all my goodies. I mean sure, I could toss them in my missmatched containers or slap on some no name plastic wrap, but they always end up falling apart, leak and look very sad.

Anyway, GLAD offered to send me some amazingly festive containers to Toblerone Shortbread | My Real Life Kitchenhelp make my life easier. What I was MOST excited about was the ADORABLE Press and Seal. This stuff is my GO TO kitchen must-have. It sticks to virtually everything, creates a TIGHT seal and works for both refrigeration AND for the freezer.

I’m serious you guys, even if GLAD hadn’t sent me the Press N’ Seal, I would still sing it’s praises. It’s just the best.

I also looooove the containers. Lids snap together for easy storage, stack nicely and are the perfect size for transporting cookies and snacks around. Just plop on a bow, and you’ve got the PERFECT gift. They also look adorable if you’re just keep snacks on your counter.

Toblerone Shortbread Cookies | My Real Life Kitchen

Now, these Toblerone Shortbread Cookies were MEANT to hang out on the counter for awhile, but my Father-in-Law and Husband (who HATE shortbread btw) made short work of making these disappear.

This is probably the best shortbread I’ve ever made in my life. It was so soft and chewy and melt-in-your-mouthy. I can’t even. I just can’t.

Also, this recipe is ALL about the butter.

Toblerone Shortbread Cookies
Inspired by: The Emotional Baker

Prep Time: 8-10 mins
Total Time: 30-35 mins
Makes: about 25 cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup (and a bit) SUPER soft butter
2 Mini Toblerone Bars (usually bought in a 6 pack)

Instructions:

Preheat Oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. You might need more or less depending on the side of your cookies.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, sift together the flour, cornstarch and icing sugar. Add the ooey gooey butter and mix together on low until a stiff dough is formed.
Roll dough into approx 1″ balls and placed on your prepared cookie sheets. Press 1 piece of a mini Toblerone bar into the center of your cookie. Make sure it’s surrounded by dough, you don’t want it leaking out the side. You should have about 24-25 cookies.
Put in oven and bake for 22-24 mins on the middle shelf. After about 20 mins, keep an eye on the cookies. Ideally they’re done when they’re JUST firm to the touch. You don’t really want them to brown. I found that with this batch the edges of my cookies got a little brown and that’s when I pulled them out!
When in doubt, pull them out and break one in half to check the consistency.
When they’re done, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
ENJOYY (and if you make these, send me one plzzzz)

Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies | My Real Life KitchenYOU GUYS!!!!!!!!

Like. I can’t even. I am so excited about these cookies.

Let me give you a little bit of background on these cookies.

Two things:

I’ve been trying to freestyle a bit more with my baking & cooking the last little while & experiment more. ALSO, My In-Laws are staying with us over the winter, and my father in law is a TOTAL cookie monster. I’ve made more cookies over the last two months than I have in a year.

So, I decided I wanted to make a cookie that was a little bit healthier than the short bread & other sugary treats I’ve been making. I headed up to my kitchen to explore & see what I could find.

I saw – ripe bananas, dark chocolate chips, peanut butter & some spices. My FIL’s fave cookie is oatmeal chocolate chip, so I decided to try something new.

This cookie is so healthy, you could eat it for breakfast. However, it’s so yummy, it takes like dessert. I just can’t say enough good things.

Take my word, just try it!

Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
Inspired by The Food Network

Prep Time: 5-8 mins
Baking Time: 14-16 mins
Makes: about 24 medium sized cookies

Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas (the riper the better)1 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups quick oats

Instructions

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mash up the bananas with a potato masher or a fork. The riper, the better! They’re more sweet!
  3. Add in the peanut butter, honey, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg and stir until combined.
  4. Add in the oats and mix until combined. Finally, stir in the dark chocolate chips. The darker the better. MMMMMMMmmmmm. The dough will be pretty sticky & that’s totally ok!
  5. Using two spoons, scoop out dough & plop on the baking sheets. These cookies don’t really spread, so press them down with your fingers to flatten them a bit.
  6. Bake for 14-16 minutes. All depends on your oven, but they’re ready when the bottoms are golden brown.
  7. Transfer to a wire baking rack & enjoy!

These last for a few days at room temp, or up to a week in the fridge. Trust me, they won’t last that long!

Exercise is like Buckley’s

Today was a terrible, no good, very bad day. Just frustrating in every aspect. By the end of the day, all I wanted to do was skip Zumba, go home, open a bottle of wine, get a bag of chips and wallow in my own pathetic-ness.

But then, I re-thought things and knew that tomorrow morning, I would feel like shit when I woke up. I would likely have gut rot and feel lousy about skipping Zumba. And…as much as Chips and Wine would give me temporary relief, I knew Zumba would give me long-term relief.  So, as soon as I got home, I put on my workout gear, ate dinner and grumpily went to class.

Our Wednesday Zumba crew is a small one, but it’s an awesome one. The ladies that come out smile the whole time and work hard. They motivate me to push myself and to match my enthusiasm to theirs. They’re also always up for a challenge, so if I tell them to squat lower, they do. If I tell them to jump higher, they do. They’re just awesome.

My teaching partner for this class is also awesome. She works as a fitness instructor full time, so this Zumba class is like her 5th of the day, but she’s still smiling and still ready to go. It’s amazing.

It’s funny, I’ve started to think about my workouts a little like Buckley’s. The initial dose is yucky and I dread taking it, but the relief I feel, is like nothing else. As soon as I took the pressure off myself and just let each workout be whatever it’s going to be…it’s a game changer. My head is more clear, my body feels awesome, I’m getting stronger…I just feel better.

Don’t get me wrong…it’s not like I jump out of bed in the morning, excited to get my sweat on, but I also don’t dread it. There are some days I have to push myself harder to actually do it (like today) but in the back of my mind, I know that I’m going to do it because it just makes me feel more human.

Let’s see…it’s only taken me 28 some odd years to get here. Not bad, right?

Anyway, if you’re struggling getting into a workout routine, I suggest changing your view of the whole thing. Don’t think about it as a means to an end (i.e. weightloss) but more of how it can help you with other things in your life, long term. For me, it’s my mental health. For others, it’s being able to crawl around on the floor with their kids, or run an extra mile or improve their lung capacity.

Whatever it is, look at exercising in that light & see if it helps!

Something I want to Share…

Hi Guys!

I have something I would like to share with y’all. No, I’m not pregnant (why does everyone always think that?)

I’m going to type this all out quickly and post before I lose my nerve, so apologize in advance for spelling and/or grammatical errors.

I’ve debated quite a lot whether or not to post about this topic. There’s part of me that is nervous that some may think I’m looking for attention. There’s also the part of me that wants to share with people who are going through the same process that I am. But then I think, well, what if people think I’m weird…and on and on and on.

Anyway, I’ve decided to talk about this and eff off to anyone who wants to be judge-y.

OKAY, here goes.

I have decided that I want to lose 30lbs.

Yes – I really have that much to lose.
Yes – it’s a healthy amount.Yes – I’m scared as f*uck to be talking about this.

Weight loss is a very personal journey. It’s a lot of self control, motivation and determination. Especially for someone like me whose food is their drug.

So why am I talking about it?

I am finally and 100% ok with the fact I might fail…or at least stumble a bit. I’m ready to accept this as a life change. I’m okay that it’s going to take awhile, I’m ok with it all.

I’m also finally only doing this for myself. Like, 100% myself.

I first really realized this when after a month or so, I had dropped 10lbs and not one person noticed. Previously, this would have really upset me. I THRIVED on people gushing about how much weight I’d lost. It gave me a very secret (gross) sense of satisfaction.

This time…I was cool with it because for the first time, in the million times that I’ve tried to lose weight, I’m doing this for myself.

I’ve worked really hard at loving myself in my current body. I’m at least 20lbs over a healthy weight, but I stopped letting that define me. It wasn’t easy…sometimes I still struggle with it, but slowly, I stopped looking at my body with disgust and started looking at the things I liked about it.

Once I got that under wraps, I had to decide if I wanted to lose weight, why, truly, I wanted to do that. Did I want to because I thought it looked better being thin? Did I think it would magically make my life better? Did I want to impress someone or want approval from someone? If I answered yes to any of those questions, I knew I wasn’t ready. Trust me, being thin, won’t make you happy. It won’t make your life better, especially when you don’t love yourself.

This time, I’m doing it because I didn’t feel like me in this body. I didn’t feel healthy and I wasn’t treating my body well. I was using food (and sometimes booze) as a way to comfort myself. I had stopped working out and I had stopped caring.

I officially started this change in July. I woke up, bloated from a night of binging and slightly hungover. I felt like shit. I just lay there thinking “What am I doing? This is not who I want to be”

So, over the next little while, I’m going to tell you about the changes that I’ve been making and hopefully help you to realize you can do it too. If I can…you can!

Until next time!

Brown Butter Scrambled Eggs

Brown Butter Scrambled Eggs | My Real Life Kitchen

I have a problem…it’s actually a full blown obsession. I cannot stop watching Chef at Home with Michael Smith. My husband thinks I’m crazy because it’s one of the cheesiest cooking shows out there, but I just love how he explains everything to you. He explains why and how each flavour works together, he explains amazing techniques (is your lemon to hard to squeeze? Just zap it in the microwave for a few seconds), and he’s just awesome to watch.

It doesn’t hurt that he reminds me of Aiden from Sex and the City.

Anyway, my second recent obsession is reading cookbooks. Yes, reading them. There are so many amazing tips and techniques that I used to gloss over because I was searching for a recipe. Now, I take time to go through them and read every page. It’s like magic.

You know where this is going….

I found an AMAZING recipe in “Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen : 100 of my favourite easy recipes” for something called “Brown Butter Scrambled Eggs” It’s just as easy as regular scrambled eggs, but just takes a wee bit more time.

I’m here to tell you, it’s totally frigging worth it. I’m not usually a huge fan of eggs (unless they’re slathered in Franks) but these I could totally eat plain. They’re rich, fluffy and savoury all at once.

I added garlic mushrooms to mine, but you can add anything you like!

Brown Butter Scrambled Eggs
Inspired from “Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen : 100 of my favourite easy recipes”

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
8 eggs
Splash of cream or milk
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter (salted)

Instructions:
In a medium bowl, put in eggs and milk. Whisk your eggs thoroughly, this (along with the milk) helps encourages them to be fluffy. Stir in any “mixins” you may like – mushrooms, onion, peppers, cheese etc.

Place butter into a saucepan over medium heat. Keep stirring the butter until it melts. After about 30 seconds, the butter will start to bubble. This is the moisture in the butter evaporating off . Your butter will slowly start to brown. KEEP STIRRING. Never stop stirring!

When the butter is golden brown, add those eggs!

Cook the eggs by constantly stirring and scrambling. Stirring helps to keep the eggs nice and fluffy as well. You’re know they’re ready when they become nice and thick and creamy.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Real Life…Outside the Kitchen

Better than YesterdayWhen I started this blog a few months back, I intended to use it as a more open and honest space. The funny thing about social media and online personalities in general, is you tend to show only your best self. I don’t usually take a selfie of bawling my yes out for no reason, or a picture of  the six bags of chips I just inhaled to comfort myself.

I also didn’t blog about the anxiety I was feeling about how much time had passed since last posting.

So I just kind of left this blog. Told myself “I don’t have time” and that “who even reads it anyway?” and sure, that worked for awhile. It kept gnawing at me though and I was still feeling at odds.

Anxiety is a funny thing. Even as someone who is very aware of my mental issues…I’m very good at pretending it doesn’t exist. I hadn’t stopped blogging because I was “busy” and “didn’t have time” I had stopped because I wasn’t able to make it perfect despite my whole “Real Life Kitchen” persona. I still wanted my pictures to look flawless. I wanted my posts to be witty and adorable. I wanted to be the best part of every blog out there and If I couldn’t so that…I didn’t want to do it at all.

This has been a current theme in my life. There are many things I gave up because I didn’t want to work at it. Guitar, figure skating, school and exercising to name a few. I just want to be good at EVERYTHING without having to really try.

I wanted to be everyone’s best friend and be the best wife, daughter, neighbor, baker, runner, worker. I wanted to have my hands in everything and be everything to everyone and be the best at all of it. I also just wanted it to happen.

That’s not how things work though. To be the best, you have to work at it and despite my best efforts, you can’t work to be the best at everything, all the time. It’s just not possible. Trying to be the best at everything is a very delicate juggling act…with chainsaws, while riding a unicycle. It just spells disaster.

And the disaster it was. My and my juggling act came crashing down on top of me. I had stopped taking care of what was most important to me, and I was paying dearly for it. It has taken me the better part of a year to put everything back together, but I think I’ve learned a lot from it.

That quote “Anything worth having is worth working for” fits in pretty well here.  Your job, your relationships, your health, even your hobbies and your passions. They take work. They take maintenance. They take focus. Without focus, it’s utter chaos.

So where is this all going? What does this have to do with my blog?

I’ve decided this blog is something I want to focus on, something I want to work at. This is an important space for me, even if no one reads it.

If my random thoughts and contemplation help one person, it will be worth it. If someone uses one of my recipes and is turned on to the wonderful world of cooking…it will be worth it.

It’s taken me a realllllly long time to get to this point, to the point where I’m really ready to work at a few key things that make me happy, instead doing everything trying to make other people happy.

xo Lisa

Chicken Dumplings

Easy Chicken Dumplings | My Real Life KitchenGuys……….I haven’t posted since June. What in the heck?

Let’s see, it’s been a really busy few months. Work kind of blew up, after getting a promotion (yay!) and a host of other things. I pretty much stopped cooking (at least experimenting). This summer was a lot of burgers and pasta. We were just NOT motivated to cook. I kind of stopped doing everything I liked doing.

That’s a lie…I was still eating. A lot. God I love me some food.

Anyway, I’ve recently been watching a lot of cooking shows, and there was one in particular (Chef at Home with Michael Smith) that started to get me jazzed about cooking again. I slowly crept back into the kitchen and re-introduced myself to all my favourite tools (Hellooooo Kitchen Aid Mixer).

Finally, the other day, I saw a recipe on Chef at Home that really inspired me. He was making Chicken Dumplings, and it looked SO DAMN GOOD and so easy, I thought, what the hell?

Let me tell you, I had one hell of a time finding wonton wrappers. I had to go to 3 different stores before finally giving up and heading to an Asian grocery store.

I put it off for a few days because I have wicked cooking anxiety (what if I eff it up?!) but finally, on Sunday, I sucked it up, and made a batch.

FACK YEA. These things are the most flavourful, tasty, savoury morsels I’ve ever made. I’m actually drooling thinking about them right now. You HAVE to make these. Right now. Like, NOW. They are SO easy, but you’ll feel like an kitchen rock-star.

Easy Chicken Dumplings
from Chef Michael Smith

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 12-18 dumplings

Ingredients
1 raw chicken breast, diced2-3 green onions, chopped
1″ frozen ginger nub, finely shredded
1 tbsp cornstartch
1 tbsp oyster sauce
12-18 wonton wrappers

Instructions:

TIP: Freeze your nub of ginger before shredding. Just makes life SO much easier.

Combine all ingredients (except wrappers) in the bowl of a food processor. I added a little extra ginger, because I LUUUUUV me some ginger. The ingredients for this are by no means set in stone. It really depends on your tastes.

Mix until everything is evenly combined. I had to scrape the sides and mix again. If you don’t have a food processor, use ground chicken and mix everything together with a spoon in a bowl.

Next, lay out your dumpling wrappers. Using two spoons, scoop a small amount of the mixture into the middle of each wrapper.

Easy Chicken Dumplings | My Real Life KitchenGet a small bowl of water. Moisten two sides of the wrapper and fold in half. Using your fingers, create a tight seal around the edges push the filling to the middle.

Basically, make it tight enough so that filling won’t come spilling out. If you do that, you’re good.

If you’re feeling REALLY fancy (I was) fold the outside edges together, moisten the tip (sexual, much?) and you’ve got yourself a dumpling. Continue until you’ve made all of them. My batch made about 18.

Place the dumplings in a steamer, and cook for about 5 minutes. It doesn’t take long at all. If you don’t have a steamer, you can also cook them in a broth or just boil them in water. Steaming is definitely preferable though!

Sure, they don’t look especially beautiful, but I could eat these all day, every day. For realz.

Easy Chicken Dumplings | My Real Life KitchenGood luck, and ENJOY!!!