Love: In Smoothie Form

I have a confession to make.

I kill plants like it’s my job. And no I don’t mean pesky weeds, I could probably make those thrive. I mean nice, pretty, joy inducing plants; the kind that sort of breaks your heart when they are all droopy and dead.

It’s been quite a few years now since this started happening. When I lived with my brother when I first moved out we had two plants. They were the most resilient buggers in the world. Every other month or so, Michael would go away to a world cup for two weeks and it would just be me and the plants. The first time, I was completely oblivious to the plants. I did nothing to help them live. When Michael got home, he was all “did you even water the plants ONCE?! Jill, you can’t just leave them to DIE!”.

Nope, I hadn’t even watered them once. In fact, the thought never even crossed my mind.

But they survived, so the next time he went away, I was determined not to let them down. They needed me!

I watered them every.single.day. When Michael got home, again he lectured me on the importance of watering the plants…But I had! Where had I gone wrong! I’d watered them with water AND TLC for two weeks straight!

I had nearly drowned them in all that water and TLC. Turns out you can’t water plants every single day or it kills them. Go figure.

We’ve been through numerous herb plants and I think they are the hardest. They always die, and quickly.

But I’m determined to hone my skills. Fresh herbs are just TOO delicious to have around the house, this time, I can’t let them die. I’m doing everything I can to keep them alive; I’m pruning them, watering them (but not too much), making sure they have sun, but aren’t too close to the window where it’s cold etc. etc. etc. Except reading about caring about plants. Maybe I should try that. 

And so far so good! It’s been five days.

But on to the smoothie love part. I’ve been using my delicious basil plant in smoothies! And it has yet to disappoint.

My smoothie and my basil plant...aren't they beautiful!

My smoothie and my basil plant…aren’t they beautiful!

Strawberry Basil Smoothie

6 large frozen strawberries
1/2 cup plain greek yogourt (or any plain yogourt, that’s just what I had)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp honey
5+ basil leaves (just grab a bunch, lovingly, and toss em’ in!)

Put all ingredients together in a magic bullet cup or blender and blend! I usually have to add a little water part way through because I don’t put enough liquid, but I like thick smoothies, so I do that sparingly.

And enjoy! The basil takes the smoothie to a whole new level, right?!

Mmmm fresh parsley and basil soaking up the sun. Don't worry! The window isn't too cold and I take them away from that ledge AS SOON as the sun goes away. I'm trying!!!

Mmmm fresh parsley and basil soaking up the sun. Don’t worry! The window isn’t too cold and I take them away from that ledge AS SOON as the sun goes away. I’m trying!!!

Recipe for a Great Weekend

What’s your recipe for a perfect weekend?!

We took this exact photo minus the sunglass, plus puffy vests in April, the last time Laura visited.

This past weekend one of my best friends from home came to visit with her boyfriend. Each year for the past three years, Laura and her family come to Calgary for Dance Montage, a production put on by the University of Calgary in which Laura’s younger sister Hailey performs. It’s awesome because it means that I get to visit with Laura! And this time, I also got to meet Reg.

My recipe for a GREAT weekend = FOOD + FRIENDS + MOUNTAINS 

On Friday, Laura, Reg and Sarah came over for supper. When I was looking up recipes, for some reason the only ones that jumped out at me had one common theme…fat. Which was ok with me (oh darn haha).

For supper we had Potato and Celery Root Gratin with Leeks and Kale, brocolini and bacon wrapped asparagus (which was supposed to be an appetizer but took too long) and for dessert we had Chocolate Brownie Torte with White Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Icing. It was all great! However it was definitely all high fat. While I won’t be changing the dessert, I did try the gratin again (tonight!) to see if I could make it healthier and just as yummy. I didn’t think it would be hard, and I didn’t think that it would change the taste, so I did it all over again and made some modifications.

Snow, sun, mountains. LOVE.

On Saturday, Laura, Reg, Keith and I headed out to the mountains for a hike. We did Nihahi Ridge, which was awesome because as soon as we were out of the trees there were AMAZING views. Reg has never been to the mountains so it was fitting that he got the full meal deal. The weather cleared up for us too, after a cold week, and it was sunny and beautiful.

Keith tried to get to the top of that bluff and ended up instead hiking half a kilometre around looking for a way up without getting anywhere. I ended up chasing him down because he hadn’t made contact in a while and it was getting cold in the wind!

This was the first place that we got to that we thought, “Good View”. On the way back down we decided it actually sucked compared to the ones higher up:).

The bonus about boys with long legs is that the girls with short legs end up falling behind; perfect girl talk time! Nihahi was only about four hours, so we had time for Christmas latte’s in Bragg Creek before showering, heading for supper with the McLeod’s and going to see Dance Montage. At Montage, Hailey is ALWAYS the star of the show (in my eyes) because when she is dancing I don’t watch anyone else (haha)! So it just seems like she is the main event!

Finally on Sunday, we took Reg for his first ever yoga class! Overall it was a great weekend! I wish that all weekends could be like it!

Potato and Celery Root Gratin (with a healthy spin!)
– Original recipe from Epicurious

3 cups milk
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water
2 garlic gloves, peeled and chopped
5 tbsp thyme, divided
2 tbsp butter, divided
3 leeks, white and pale green parts only, chopped
1 bunch kale, washed and shredded
Salt
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 celery root, peeled and sliced very thinly
2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Melt butter in a large frying pan or wok at medium heat and add chopped leeks. Season with salt, stirring often until tender, 10-12 minutes. When the leeks are ready, reduce heat and add kale. Toss until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat milk, 2 tsp thyme and garlic over medium heat. Once the milk is warm, mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl before adding to the milk. This will help thicken the mixture. Make sure that you whisk this often and keep an eye on it. You don’t want it to boil and don’t want it to burn. You should be able to see it thickening.

While the milk is heating, peel the celery root, slice and set aside. Slice the potatoes and set aside (if you don’t like potato peel you can peel them, but you really don’t need to, just wash them well).

I forgot to take a pre-peeling photo. If you haven’t cooked with celery root before, don’t be surprised when you are at the grocery store and it is the ugliest vegetable you’ve ever seen. Don’t worry, it tastes great!

Put remaining tbsp of butter in a casserole dish, preferably with a lid (I used a cast iron pot) and put in oven to melt. Once it is melted, pull the dish out of the oven and get all the ingredients together.

Layer 1/3 of the potatoes on the bottom of the dish. Then add 1/3 of the celery root followed by 1/3 of the leek and kale mixture. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over top and then 1 tsp thyme and a bit of pepper and salt. Repeat the layering, finishing with cheese.

This is after one layer. Try to make it as flat and even as possible. I sort of ended up with a mountain shape with troughs around the outside.

This is the uncooked version. I LOVE my beautiful dish, it was a birthday/Christmas gift last year from my friend Mitchie:)

Strain the milk mixture into a measuring cup and pour over top of layers. Cover the dish and place in preheated oven. Bake for 60 minutes covered, then take the lid off and bake for another 25-30 minutes until cheese is browned and liquid is bubbling.

Gooey and fresh out of the oven!

Remove from oven and serve! Accompany it with a colourful vegetable since it’s a relatively colour-less dish. Asparagus and brocolini was perfect!

Note: The way I made this healthier was by adding the kale and replacing heavy cream with milk. If you want to make the full fat version just replace the milk with heavy cream and omit the cornstarch and water.

Laura has always been able to do this creepy eyebrow thing. We called it “The Eyebrows” when we were growing up, and her cutie niece has also inherited it. Must be a McLeod thing. But then Reg admitted that he too can do the eyebrows, and I knew they were a match made in heaven. I just fear for their hypothetical children…they will probably be stuck like this permanently!

I wish every weekend could be like this one! Check the next post for a recipe for the dessert…there is a teaser photo in the collage!