Theresa's Mixed Nuts

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

We Got No Troubles, Life Is The Bubbles At Ripley's Aquarium

Chicago always gets a bad wrap for its drivers. It's true, it is a big city and many of the drivers don't feel like the rules of the road apply when driving downtown, so it can get a bit chaotic at times. I won't drive there unless I absolutely have to, but thankfully I have a husband who thrives in all of that madness. But, when we went to Canada last summer and drove through downtown Toronto, I quickly learned that they make driving in Chicago look like child's play. For Canada being toted as such a friendly country, I was surprised at how aggressive everyone was behind the wheels of their cars. By the time we reached a parking garage, I was so stressed out and I wasn't even driving! It was a good thing we had a visit to Ripley's Aquarium in downtown Toronto scheduled that day.

Ripley's Aquarium

After dealing with the traffic madness, it was a real treat to be in such a soothing atmosphere. Mariah was really looking forward to this visit because she did want to work with marine life before switching her major to biochemistry. She was so excited, I caught a rare sister hand-holding moment...

Ripley's Aquarium

There were many exhibits to visit, and we were definitely mesmerized by each one. I would suggest bringing a good camera with you if you want nice photos. It was raining the day we went and I didn't want to haul around my big boy camera in the rain, so I just brought my phone which I now regret. It is super dark and you'll need a high ISO to get clear shots.

Ripley's Aquarium
Ripley's Aquarium

Our favorite area was the Dangerous Lagoon. You'll take a slow conveyor belt ride through a see-through tunnel where you'll get to gaze at all kinds of sea life, ranging from small fish to huge sharks. The tunnel will give you the feeling that you're floating along underwater with your favorite sea creatures.

Ripley's Aquarium

Ripley's Aquarium

Ripley's Aquarium

If the little kids want to burn off some energy, they offer a fun undersea play area where they kids can run around to their hearts content.

Ripley's Aquarium

I'm pretty sure that the Ripley's Aquarium is part of the Toronto City Pass and it's located right next door the the CN Tower, so you can knock out both attractions in a day. It's a great way to spend a family day in Toronto.

What's your favorite underwater creature?


Friday, March 17, 2017

The Best St. Patrick's Green? Asparagus with Honey Mustard Sauce!

Disclosure- I received the mentioned product courtesy of the sponsor for the purpose of this review. All opinions are genuine, based on my experience with the product, and have not been influenced by promotional items.


Happy St. Patrick's Day! I love this holiday because it doesn't matter if you are Irish born or not, everybody loves to get down on St. Patrick's Day. Break out the green, search for a leprechaun, and eat lots of good Irish food. Instead of doing the traditional corned beef and cabbage this year, we're going to be having Shepherd's Pie, but we have to have a little green on our plates too, so I am serving it up with a side of this delicious Asparagus with Honey Mustard Sauce. We actually did asparagus last year too, so maybe I'm starting a new tradition here in the Mahoney household. 

Asparagus with Honey Mustard Sauce

I'm a huge fan of this tender veggie and eat it cooked plain all of the time, but you'll get a really amazing zing of flavor when you add in the honey mustard sauce. I'm pretty sure I ate more than my fair share of this delicious dish!

 

Ingredients
1 pound asparagus
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup GOLDEN BLOSSOM HONEY MUSTARD

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RECIPE

Asparagus with Honey Mustard Sauce
You can find this recipe, as well as many more delicious recipes right on the Golden Blossom Honey recipe page! Be sure to follow Golden Blossom Honey on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on new products and promotions.



If you like this recipe, be sure to come back every Friday, where I feature a new recipe from Golden Blossom Honey!



What's on your St. Patrick's Day menu?



 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Do You Want To Build A Frozen White Hot Chocolate Snowman?

I am amazed at how mild our winter was this year. We had some downright frigid days that called for school cancellations, but not for the amount of snow we received, for once. I am not a fan of winter, so I'm definitely not complaining here, but with the lack of snow we didn't get to do any of the cold weather activities that we usually enjoy like sledding, tubing, snowball fights, or building a snowman.

My girls have a bit of an iced coffee addiction, and we usually end up with a lot of coffeehouse glass containers that need to be recycled. Instead of immediately tossing them in the bin this week, I thought since we didn't get to build a snowman this year, it would be fun to use them to craft a snowman to get our winter fun fix in.

Frozen White Hot Chocolate Snowmen

I have to say, I really like making these indoor snowmen much better than freezing my fingers off building one outside. Here's what you'll need to make your own Frozen White Hot Chocolate Snowmen:

• Glass Bottles (we upcycled used iced coffee bottles)
• Buttons
• Fabric Scraps, felt, burlap, or ribbon to make a scarf
• White Candy Melts
• Sandwich Cookies
• Decorator's Icing in Black and Orange
• Hot Glue Gun
 

Start your snowman by peeling off the labels from the glass bottle. You may have to use some GooGone to remove all of the sticky residue. Wash bottles in warm soapy water.

Hot Glue 3 black buttons to the the front of the bottle.

Cut a strip of scrap fabric long enough to wrap around the neck of the bottle to make a scarf. Tie into place.

Heat white candy melts according to package directions. Dip sandwich cookies into the melted candy, then place on wax paper and allow to cool. Once the candy has hardened over the cookies, draw a snowman face on each cookie with the black and orange decorator's icing.

Fill each bottle with Frozen White Hot Chocolate Mix and top each with a snowman face cookie. Serve immediately.

yield: Serves 4print recipe

Frozen White Hot Chocolate

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 Premium White Chocolate Candy Bar (such as Lindt or Ghirardelli)
  • 2 Tbsp Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Tbsp White Hot Chocolate Mix (such as Ghirardelli)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 cups ice

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Break the candy bar into bite size pieces and place in a bowl. Heat the heavy whipping cream to near boiling. Remove from heat, pour over candy. Allow to sit for 1 minute; stir the candy/cream until smooth.
  2. Add the hot chocolate mix and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended; slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk and stir until combined.
  3. In a blender place the remaining cup of milk, the room temperature chocolate mixture, and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into your snowman bottles and serve immediately.
Created using The Recipes Generator


I like to use Lindt Classic Recipe White Chocolate Bars and Ghirardelli White Chocolate Mix (<- affiliate links), but any premium bars or mixes will yield the tastiest results.

Frozen White Hot Chocolate Snowman



Did your area get hit with lots of snow or did you experience a mild winter too?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Don't Pass Up The Art Institute of Chicago

Living a few short hours from Chicago, I couldn't even tell you how many times we've been to the city. We make leisure day trips there 3 or 4 times a year, usually opting to do kid friendly activities like bike Lake Shore Drive or visit the free Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago offers an endless amount of activities, you definitely need multiple trips to squeeze everything in. We have toured the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Shedd Aquarium which are all family friendly, but now that the girls are a bit older, we thought they might enjoy a trip the The Art Institute of Chicago. I'm sure we've walked by the museum hundreds of times over the years, but never took the time to go in and explore. We decided that on our last trip that we'd go in to see what it had to offer.

Art Institute of Chicago

We received a program guide of what exhibitions were on display and what floor we could find each on as soon as we bought our tickets. There are 4 floors to explore, so I would suggest giving yourself at least 4 hours to get through all of the exhibits. The Indian and Asian statues and artifacts are quite impressive to see in person, and I would have loved to have had more time to browse through them all, but we only had about 2 hours open in our schedule and had to rush through this section.

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago

The girls were thrilled to get an up close look at famous paintings from well known artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh.

American Gothic

The Old Guitarist

Monet Water Lillies

Vincent van Gogh Self Portrait


Georgia O'Keeffe


 
While the kids liked the paintings, I liked the pieces that were a bit on the odd side. 




I always find a trip through any museum interesting because art is so subjective. There were some pieces that made us question what made something so special to earn a spot in such a prestigious museum, like rolled up carpet, blurry photographs, and this very plain piece...


I had to remind myself that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what may seem ordinary to me is fascinating to another.



The admission is right around $25 for adults, and it is included as an option in the Chicago City Pass for reduced rates. Whether you are new to visiting Chicago or a returning tourist, make sure you schedule a trip to the The Art Institute. You won't be disappointed!


What's is your favorite form of art? Paintings, sculptures, photography, ancient jewelry? Let me know in the comment section below!








Friday, March 10, 2017

Your Heart Will Love These Black Bean Patties

Disclosure- I received the mentioned product courtesy of the sponsor for the purpose of this review. All opinions are genuine, based on my experience with the product, and have not been influenced by promotional items.

Beans, beans, good for your heart... We won't finish that little rhyme, but I do love beans. I use a lot of black beans in my meals lately because Jason's been looking to add more protein and fiber to his diet, and because they really are such a heart healthy food. They are an awesome substitute for meat in recipes, so they are perfect to keep on hand for Meatless Monday meals. I use them in my tacos, shepherd's pie, and casseroles all of the time. Now, with the weather starting to warm up, we are all probably looking forward to cookouts with our family and friends. This year I'll be skipping out on the burgers on the grill and will be opting to have these amazing Black Bean Patties that I found on Golden Blossom Honey instead.
 
Black Bean Burger
Made with a combination of black beans and spices, this burger is tender but has quite a kick of flavor. The recipe does call for using canned black beans, but I used 2 cups of dry black beans that I cooked in my pressure cooker, though I am sure that either method will produce the same end result. Serve it up with some ketchup, mustard, sour cream or yogurt for a healthy, filling meal.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 green scallions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon GOLDEN BLOSSOM HONEY MUSTARD
salt and pepper, to taste

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RECIPE

Black Bean Burger

You can find this recipe, as well as many more delicious recipes right on the Golden Blossom Honey recipe page! Be sure to follow Golden Blossom Honey on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on new products and promotions.


If you like this recipe, be sure to come back every Friday, where I feature a new recipe from Golden Blossom Honey!


 What are some of your favorite burger toppings?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Easy Pressure Cooker Seitan

I am entering my 8th month of being meat-free. Going vegetarian in a house full of meat eaters was one of the hardest things I've ever done because I have to find a good balance of recipes that I can eat, but will also satisfy the carnivores here too. When I first started on this journey, a good blogger friend of mine who had been a full blown vegan for more than a year helped make the transition a little easier. She said, "You know, you can eat pretty much all of your favorite things still, just substitute the meat for vegetarian options like tofu, seitan, jackfruit, and tempeh. You'll hardly notice much of a difference in your recipes." I use a ton of black beans and lentils, which are amazing and helped make the transition a lot easier, but honestly, even after all of these months, I'm still not the hugest fan of tofu. I have been eating seitan at restaurants, but never made it at home because that blog friend told me it was waaayyyy too time consuming to make yourself. Seitan is by far one of my favorite vegetarian meats because it has the texture of chicken, so you really don't notice a difference when you swap out the real thing for seitan. I can only find the premade seitan at the organic food market, which is quite pricey, so I decided that time consuming or not, I was going to try making my own at least once.

I've been using my Power Pressure Cooker XL (<- affiliate link) A LOT lately (it's awesome at cooking up those black beans I mentioned in under an hour!) and got the bright idea that I could cook seitan in it quickly and easily. After browsing through The Everything Vegetarian Pressure Cooker Cookbook (<- affiliate link), I found that I was right!

Homemade Seitan

With the help of my electric pressure cooker and a standup mixer, there's hardly any work in making your own seitan right at home. I spent a total of 10 minutes on the kneading of the dough, and my appliances did the rest of the work. That's the best kind of recipe there is, right?

 Pressure Cooker Seitan



print recipe

Pressure Cooker Seitan

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3½ Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3½ Cups Unbleached White Flour
  • ¼ Cup Nutritional Yeast (not necessary, but gives the seitan a lot more flavor)
  • 3½ Cups Cold Water
  • 7 Cups Vegetable Broth

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place both of the flours and nutritional yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, start mixing the dough. Gradually add in the water to form a sticky dough. Switch out your paddle attachment for a dough hook, and let the dough knead for 15 minutes on medium speed. Cover the dough with cold water, place in the fridge, and leave submerged for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer the dough from the bowl into a colander in the sink. Turn the water on cold and carefully knead the dough to rinse out the starch and bran. After several minutes of cold water rinsing, turn the tap to room temperature and knead for a few more minutes. Alternate between cold and room temperature water for about 10 minutes, or until the dough has a firm, rubbery texture.
  3. Add the vegetable broth to the pressure cooker. Pull pieces of the gluten into tennis ball sized balls. Drop the gluten into the liquid one piece at a time. Stir occasionally to keep the dough from sticking.
  4. Lock the lid into place, then bring the cooker to high pressure for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and quick release pressure.
  5. Refrigerate seitan in its liquid for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Homemade Seitan


I use seitan in place of a lot of my chicken dishes, but my favorite is to smother it in BBQ sauce for a vegetarian style pulled pork sandwich.


Homemade BBQ Sauce


print recipe

Sweet & Tangy BBQ Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup KC Masterpiece Original BBQ Sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 3 tbsp original flavor A1 steak sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • homemade seitan, shredded

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except for seitan. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in seitan. Serve immediately.
Created using The Recipes Generator




I think seitan is one ugly looking food, kind of reminding me of a wet sponge or Freddy Kruger's skin, but for those wishing to make the switch to veg eating, it's by far the closest in taste and texture to meat that you are going to get. It really does help making the switch a lot easier!

What's your favorite Meatless Monday Recipe?

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