Will our wedding be one giant “faux pas”?

I decided to take a break from playing Candy Crush (like I need another reason to procrastinate), to get something off my chest. I did the math again, and there is now 95 days till we say I Do! So I had to get back into wedding planning mode, calls are being made, decisions are being pondered and the invitations are FINALLY ready to go.

This also means I’ve been on pinterest a lot, being a DIY bride, I’m always looking for new ideas to make our big day easier and more cost effective. Over the last few months I’ve been reading various blogs about all kinds of wedding planning tips, most of them have been very helpful. These ladies http://confederacyofspinsters.com/ have a great blog, very insightful and hilarious, I like to read their posts when I’m suffering from what I like to call “wedding brain”.

However, I’ve come across some pretty useless and outrageous information as well… I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, writing a blog is hard work (as I have come to realize very quickly), and I know that I have to take all of these “tips” with a grain of salt. I am planning a low budget, laid back wedding, so my posts will be in this style as well. If you’re planning a huge, budget busting, high class wedding, then move along sista, this blog is not for you. But when I read titles such as “helpful wedding tips” or “10 ways to have the best wedding day”, I am very hopeful, only to be disappointed that I will never get back the 10 minutes of my life I just spent reading that pile of nonsense.

Case in point, one post suggested that you are the WORST hosts/humans in the world if you do not have an open bar. They mention that you normally would not ask guests to bring their own alcoholic beverages when you invite them to your home. Of course, in certain circumstance, this is true, but I am usually not in the habit of inviting 120+ guests to my home all at once. If we were having a very small and intimate wedding I would LOVE to have an open bar for my guests, I would also LOVE to own 12 wiener dogs, but that’s not realistic. However, I am not an inconsiderate person, the wedding is on the beach in August, so I will be providing refreshments for our guests, they will be free and non alcoholic.

Another post explained that seating arrangements are necessary so that your guests will not feel stressed out when it comes time to find their seat. I can see this bit of information might be useful if you know before hand that there are certain people that do not get along at all and should not be seated at the same table. I like to think that our family and friends care about us enough to get along for a few hours, and our venue is large enough that people can spread out a little. We also plan on having tables near the head table reserved for our immediate family. For these reasons I don’t feel that a seating arrangement is necessary, I’m excited for our families and friends to mingle and get to know each other, and I can guarantee that the lucky person sitting next to my uncle Louis for the evening will not be bored and far from stressed out.

I also read that having a gift registry is very important so that guests will be able to chose a gift that you need or will enjoy. My fiance and I have been living together for 5 years now, everything we could possibly want or need, we already have. I understand if the couple is just starting out, but honestly, even couples that don’t live together yet probably have enough things to fill two houses! When some couples move in together they have two sofas, two beds, two tables… New towels and an engraved silver picture frame are nothing to sneeze at, but think about it, what is the one thing can you give someone that will make them happy and and they will enjoy/use? MONEY!!! With Canadian couples dishing out an alarming 26,000$ on average for their wedding day (http://weddings.about.com/b/2009/02/11/wedding-industry-still-strong-in-spite-of-recession-necessary-luxuries.htm), don’t you think they could use a little extra cash?

One thing that comes to mind when I read these tips is “old fashion”. Some couples might feel that a wedding filled with customary traditions is very important to them. Several factors play into these decisions as well, for example, your up bringing/values and who is paying the bill. If your parents or family are paying for the entire wedding they will be influential when it comes to the planning. Is your family traditional or more laid back? Will your grand-mother disown you if you do not get married in a church, or is your mother in law to be making her own tie dye dress for the special occasion?

I understand that some guests travel from far away, and that making your guests feel important and comfortable should be a priority. You also want your family and friends to feel like they are part of the day, and we all know that without all of them, it just wouldn’t be the same. But this can be done in simple and thoughtful ways, without sacrificing your budget or your vision of the perfect day.

the biggest piece of advice I can give is to try and plan things the way YOU want to. This can be easier said than done, even if you have complete authority over all the decision making, it can still be very easy to be influenced by others. Parents, the wedding party, planners, professionals, bloggers (ahem…) are all outside forces that can sway your decision one way or another. We seem to get so wrapped up in making sure that we do not commit any “faux pas”. Just try to forget what others will think and plan a day/ceremony/reception that will make you happy. This entire 24 hour period (yes, only 24 hours) is a celebration of you, your partner and your love for each other. It will be over in a flash, and the day after, you should wake up tired, disheveled and happy! And this blissful state should be caused by all the fun you had and the love you felt, and not because your table runners matched the chair covers perfectly.

Here’s a little zombie love from a few years ago, wonder what kind of wedding they would plan? Something outdoors with a brain buffet?!

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How to make the best oven baked fries

So right now I should be preparing some wedding invitations, but instead I’m here to share my love of french fries. They are my one weakness (maybe because I’m french ha!), when I go to a restaurant I usually get french fries as my side, or a poutine if I can. For those of you who are not familiar with poutine, its a delicious Canadian dish that consists of french fries smothered in brown gravy and cheese curds. In my opinion, its the perfect dish! Some people, like myself, eat it with ketchup, and you can add other tasty things like chicken, beef or lobster. But for now, I’m going to focus on just french fries, because you need the perfect side dish to all those great burgers you’ll be making on the BBQ this summer.

Once again this is a compilation of a bunch of different recipes I have tried over the years. I have recently come across some great tips on Pinterest that have been real game changers! For years I’ve been making home made fries in the oven, they are much healthier and you can add your favorite seasonings and spices. My fries always tasted great, but often they would be too dry, almost like chips, or they would turn into a messy mushy pile because they were too soft and not crispy. I was having a difficult time finding the perfect balance. So I gathered the tips and tricks I came across over the last few months and put them to the test, and here are the results:

What you need:

4-6 large potatoes (approx. 4 portions)
olive oil
salt and pepper
garlic powder
chili powder

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees, place your pan (I use a medium sized cookie sheet) in the oven while its heating up. This is trick #1, once your fries are ready for the oven, the pan will be nice and hot and they will start to cook as soon as they hit the pan. This will help them get crispy on the outside and also keep them from sticking to the pan.

While the oven is heating up, clean and rinse the potatoes, then cut them into strips. I like them a little on the thicker side, I use the classic knife and cutting board combo, no fancy gadgets. And I always leave the skins on, so much better. Once the potatoes are cut place them in a large bowl full of cold water for about 15-20 minutes. This is trick #2, the fries will soak up some of the water and this will help them from getting too dry while they are cooking. You will end up with crispy fries on the outside and fluffy potato goodness on the inside.

Once the fries have had time to soak, drain them, pat them dry with some paper towel and put them back into the large bowl. I always start by adding about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of olive oil first and then toss the fries to make sure they are evenly coated, this will help the seasoning stick to the fries and will also help them from sticking to the pan. I add a dash of salt and pepper, a sprinkle of garlic powder and just a little chili powder for a little kick, once again make sure to mix well so the fries are evenly coated. You can really throw in lots of different seasonings, whatever floats your boat!

By now your oven and pan should be nice and hot, please use oven mitts to remove the pan from the oven (ouch!). Dump the fries onto the pan, you should hear them start to sizzle, but don’t be afraid to move them around, make sure each piece is lying as flat as possible on the pan and the pieces are not all clumped on top of each other. This is trick #3, it will help make sure they cook evenly and that each piece can reach its true crispiness potential.

Bake the fries for 30-40 minutes, depending on how big your batch is. I set the timer for the half way mark, just to check on them, but at this time don’t touch them! This is trick #4, I know every fiber in your body is telling you to flip them over, or even just shake them up a bit, but don’t. The olive oil is going make sure they don’t stick, if you are a bit concerned you can add more oil to make sure, if you try to move them around at this point you will end up with a mushy mess. The fries have not had enough time to cook yet so they won’t just slide around or be flipped easily. Once the entire cooking time has passed, pop them out of the oven and use a spatula to gently move them around the pan, a few may resist, but they should come around with out much trouble. I like to place the fries on some paper towel to soak up some of the left over oil before serving them.

And there you have it! The best oven baked fries you will ever make. I made them tonight to go with some homemade big macs (https://recipesontheriver.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/home-made-big-macs-and-updates/), they were so tasty that I ate them all before I could take a picture. I’ve used this recipe with white, yellow and red potatoes and they all seem to work very well. I have not tried to make them with sweet potatoes yet, that’s next in line for the test kitchen. I’ll let you all know how they turn out!

The Only Cinnamon Bun Recipe You Will Ever Need

One of my favorite things to eat and bake are cinnamon buns, some people might call them pin wheels, but cinnamon bun sounds much tastier. When I first got my professional series Kitchen Aid mixer I set out to make the most amazing cinnamon buns ever, which cream cheese frosting and everything! I decided to test out a recipe I had found on Allrecipes.com, it had lots of great reviews and seemed to be by far the most popular one.

Truth be told, they turned out to be one of the most delicious things I’ve ever baked, but they were A LOT of work. I mean so much work that I didn’t really want to make them again. It’s the kind of recipe where you make the dough and let it rise, and you have to mess around with yeast, you’re pretty much making bread (and bread is my LEAST favourite thing to bake).

Of course, I did end up making them again, they were requested several times. But after a while I decided to retire the famous cinnamon bun recipe, and I vowed to come up with a more simple but equally delicious recipe.

So here it is! The best and only cinnamon bun recipe you will ever need, guaranteed.

Dough:
– 2 cups flour
– 4 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 1/2 cup shortening
– 1 egg beaten
– 2/3 cup milk

Filling:
– 3/4 cup brown sugar
– 2 tbsp cinnamon
– 1/4 cup butter softened
– 2 cups fresh fruit of your choice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix together dry ingredients, add shortening in a little at a time. Whisk milk and egg together and slowly add to the mix. If you’re using an electric mixer you don’t need to use the dough hook, the paddle attachment is fine and the dough is ready once it pulls away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. If you’re doing this the old fashion way knead the dough for approximately 5 minutes.

Once the dough is ready, flour a flat surface and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough to about a 1/4 inch thick, try to make it into a ruff rectangle shape.

Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, then spread the softened butter onto the rolled out dough. I pop the butter in the microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to spread. Once the butter is spread evenly sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mix on top.

At this point you can add some fruit if you like. I have used apples, blueberries and strawberries so far, I normally wash and cut the fruit into small pieces and toss them with a little sugar. I have only used fresh fruit so far, I’m sure frozen would work too if thawed out first, or you could even use some jam too. I can’t wait to use fresh raspberries and rhubarb this summer 🙂 Either way is good, sometimes I’m in the mood for the plain kind and they are just as delicious.

Now you’re ready to roll! Roll up the dough as tight as you can to hold in all the buttery sugary goodness, I like to fold in the two ends when I’m done to help keep it all together. Cut the roll into about 12 pieces, you can make the pieces thicker if you want bigger buns, but the dough does puff up quite a bit in the oven. I use a large bread knife to cut the rolls, the teeth are great for cutting cleanly through the dough.

Place the rolls on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, try to space them out a little so they have room to rise while baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on the thickness of the rolls. Let cool and enjoy! They are really good warm with a little vanilla ice cream 🙂

BONUS TIME! The dough recipe also doubles as a tea biscuit recipe! Follow the same instructions, but roll the dough out to a 1/2″ thick instead. Use a cookie cutter (I use a small drinking glass) to cut out the biscuits from the dough and bake them on a cookie sheet for about 15-16 minutes at 350. They are ready once they are fluffy and golden brown. Eat them right out of the oven and cover them with butter, mmmmmmm!

So there you have it, a cinnamon bun and tea biscuit recipe in one! It might seem like a long post but trust me, these take about 20 minutes to whip up and in no time they will be all gone! Please take note that this a recipe that I came up with by combining a few other recipes I had already tried. So no links to Pinterest this time 😉

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These are the strawberry cinnamon buns I made last night 🙂