Monday, December 22, 2008

our favorite spaghetti sauce

I know, everyone has a spaghetti recipe. This is mine. Jonathan and I actually worked a lot to get a recipe that we really, really like. This is the one that I made at my parents house last year and my brother commented, wow, Kris is a really good cook.

1 bulb garlic
1 red pepper
1tbsp olive oil
1lb lean ground beef
1 small onion
2 tbsp italian seasoning (or sub in 1 tbsp basil, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp parsley flakes)
1 can pasta sauce (generic)
1 can tomatoes
1/4 cup red cooking wine
1 tbsp beef boulion

Preheat oven to 350*. Seed red pepper and cut into chunks. Take skins off all garlic cloves on you bulb. Reserve 1 clove to use later. On a sheet of aluminum foil, place your red pepper and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up into a little package and cook in your oven for about 40 minutes, or until contents are soft. (you'll be able to smell when it's ready).
In a large saucepot over low-medium heat, saute ground beef with onion and seasonings. Drain the grease off when there is no pink left in the beef. Return mixture to pot. Add pasta sauce and stir everything together. Take the tomatoes and squish them one by one into small chunks into your sauce (it's messy, but it's fun). Add cooking wine and beef stock. Stir.
Take your pepper/garlic package out of the oven. Carefully open up (don't burn yourself with the steam) and place everything into a food processor, or a small bowl if you have a hand blender. (Make sure all the oil drains in too). Blend contents into a puree and add to your sauce. Stir. Add more seasonings if you wish. Just before serving, press your reserved garlic clove into your sauce.
Serve over whole wheat spaghetti noodles.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


It's been a sit inside and eat soul food kind of week. This fit in nicely.

2 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup dry oats
1/4 cup ketchup or BBQ sauce
1 tbsp dry parsley flakes
1 tsp dry basil flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup kechup or BBQ sauce (yes, a second 1/4 cup)

Heat oven to 350*.
Combine all ingredients (except the 2nd 1/4 cup or ketchup) into a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
Put mixture into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Pat down to form a loaf. Spread the remaining ketchup on the top of the loaf.
Bake for 1 hour.


I have loved to cook since I was a little girl. I'd love to say that I come from a long line of fabulous cooks, but that's not true. My nana is a fabulous baker. My mom does a wonderful job of cooking good home food, but she's be the first to admit she'd rather not. (In fact, when we visit, I kinda float back into the role of the house cook while we're there).
I first started to experiment with food when I was a pre-teen. I gathered up my mom's cookbooks and started to read. I decided at the grand old age of about 11 that I would indeed make a 4 course meal to serve to my family and our closest family friends. And I did. I know now that the food I chose probably didn't compliment each other, but I enjoyed the experience all the same.
Cookbooks have since been the way I learned the basics of cooking. My mom's old 5 Roses cookbook had the staples I used to ground myself in. It was replaced by my Betty Crocker cookbook we recieved as a wedding gift.
My husband had worked in restaurants for a few years so he taught me how to adapt and flavour recipes to our own taste.
I've added an amazon link to my own favorite cookbooks. These are the ones that I actually use, not ones that you buy and sit on your shelf collecting dust (I have a number of those too). Eat, Shrink and Be Merry and the Betty Crocker cookbook are the two that I use the most, but all are in rotation in my kitchen.
If you are new to cooking, I'd recommend buying a good staple cookbook to start. I like to read recipe books to get ideas. Some of my best recipes are ones that I've made up by taking an idea from here and there and putting it all together.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Simple Salad

We had a potluck this week and I signed up for salad duty, figuring that I could work with what I had in the house already. Here's what I came up with:

6 cups organic field greens salad mix
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup sugared walnuts*see below
1/4 - 1/2 cup poppy seed dressing (I like Renee's) - to your own liking

Mix everything together just before serving.

Sugared Walnuts

1/2 cup walnut pieces or halves
2 tbsp margarnine, melted
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnimon

Heat oven to 300*. Coat walnuts with melted margarine by shaking together in a ziplock bag. Spread walnuts into a jelly-roll or loaf pan. Sprinkle sugar and cinnimon onto walnuts. Mix together. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes to toast.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Homemade Mac n' Cheese

2 cups uncooked macaroni
1/4 C margarine
1/4 C flour
4 C milk
1 C cheese (cheddar or whatever you prefer)
1 tsp dry mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 C corn flakes (crushed finely)
2 tbsp margarine (melted)

Preheat oven to 350*
Cook macaroni as per directions on the box. Drain and set aside.
While macaroni is cooking, start the cheese sauce.
Melt margarine in a medium sauce pan. Slowly whisk in the flour. A little at a time, begin to add the milk, whisking it in to make the mixture smooth until all the milk is added. Continue to whisk as you bring the sauce to a boil (it will thicken). Mix in the mustard powder, salt and pepper. Grate cheese into the sauce and mix well. Remove from heat.
Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Add the noodles. Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir in.
Optional: Mix crushed corn flakes with melted margarine and sprinkle over the macaroni.
Bake for 20-30 minutes

-topping alternatives:
1) mix flavoured croutons with margarine to top macaroni
2) grate cheeses over top of the macaroni

Potato Pancakes

I was looking for a creative breakfast this morning and remembered these little tasty treats. I used to make them all the time when I lived in Victoria years ago.

4 potatoes
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 egg
salt, pepper, parley flakes and basil to taste
1-2 tbsp canola oil

Pierce potatoes several times with a fork and cook in microwave on high for 5-7 minutes (until they are soft). Allow to cool. Grate potatoes into a small mixing bowl (peel will naturally separate, discard peel). Add onion, egg and seasonings. Mix well.
Heat oil in frying pan set over low medium heat. Form potato mix into little cakes with your hands. Fry on both sides so that each side browns nicely.
Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream.

Makes 8 potato cakes

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Beef & Barley Soup

What to make on the first snowy day of the winter? Homemade soup with homemade rolls. Very yummy!

1 lb stewing beef - cut into small pieces
8 cups water
3 tbsp beef boullion powder
2 carrots - cut into small pieces
2 small onions, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
3 stewed tomatoes (from can) - squeeze into small pieces (crush) into soup using your hand
2/3 cup dry barley
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp dried thyme
3 whole cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Spray a large soup pot with a non-stick cooking spray. Cook cut up beef in soup pot until there is no pink left (medium heat). Add water and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Add vegetables and remaining ingredients. Stir. Let soup return to a boil before turning stove down to minimum heat. Allow soup to simmer for at least 3 hours before serving.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Carrot Bran Muffins

I've adapted this recipe from several bran muffin recipes. I find muffins are an excellent way to get some nutrition in my kids without them knowing it. My oldest son refuses to eat carrots, but loves these muffins. I also find kids love to eat mini-muffins.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup natural bran
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup crushed pineapple with juice

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Set aside.

In another bowl beat eggs. Add rest of the wet ingredients. Mix well.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until all the batter is moist. Don't overmix. Muffin batter will be lumpy.

Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake in 400* oven for 20-25 minutes. For mini-muffins reduce cooking time by half.

Allow muffins to cool in pan for a few minutes before removing. These muffins will be moist and delicious.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Triple Chocolate Cookies

I got this recipe from a lady at church, these are sooooo delicious.

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup margarine
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Cream margarine in large mixing bowl at medium speed of electric mixer until light. Gradually beat in brown and granulated sugars, egg and vanilla until smooth.

Blend in dry ingredients on low speed. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop dough by spoonfuls, onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 375* for 8 to 10 minutes, or until set.

Cool on baking sheet 1 minute, then remove from sheet and cool completely.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday Meatballs (on a Tuesday)

1 lb of extra lean ground beef (you can use any ground beef or chicken you like, but that's what I use)
1 egg
several dashes of Worchester sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion (I used red onion today, but any kind of onion will do)
1/2 cup oats (or breadcrumbs)
a few dashes each of salt and pepper

Mix all of this together well.
Form 1 inch round meatballs and put on baking sheet.
Bake in 350* oven for about 20 minutes

You could serve these just as is and they'd be fine. Add some Italian seasoning to them for spagetti meatballs.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Make meatballs as directed above. While the meatballs are baking, mix 1 cup of crushed pineapple, 1-2 tbsp finely chopped onion and 1 jar of sweet and sour sauce together. Put everything, including the meatballs in a crockpot/slow cooker on low heat for 6-8 hours. Serve over rice (brown preferrably).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

All about Greek food

We love Greek food. The recipes below are a sampling of what a typical Springthorpe Greek feast would look like. Happy Eating.

Greek Potatoes

I had a really good Greek potato recipe a while back, but I couldn't find it. I found this one online today to add to our meal.

Pita Bread

When we eat Greek, we use the Greek Pitas. These are are thicker and not hollow inside. Brush a little butter (or garlic butter on them). Toast or heat for a few minutes. Cut into triangles and serve with hummus, baba ganoush, or tzatziki.

Greek Chicken Cubes

I like these much better in summer when I can BBQ them on a skewer, but pan frying them is tasty too.

2 chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch cubes (can use more chicken if serving for more people, usually it's just my husband, myself and our little picky eaters eating so 2 does fine for us)
Greek Seasoning Mix
1 tbps olive oil.

Heat olive oil in frying pan. Coat chicken cubes in seasoning (use enough until nicely coated). Fry chicken in pan, turning often until chicken is cooked (no pink left).

Greek Salad

Usually I use Renee's brand Greek dressing for this, but I was out, so I made up my own dressing. Here it is:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Greek seasoning mix
1 tbsp oregano
(I'd probably crumble feta into this too, about 1/4 cup)

Mix everything together well. Makes 1 cup of dressing.

The Salad:

1/2 English cucumber, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1 tomato (I prefer Roma, but any tomato will do), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 green pepper, cut into chunks
kalamata olives, as many as you like (I don't like these, but my husband does)
1/2 cup crumbled feta
2-3 tbsp finely chopped red onion

Mix everything together. Add dressing (drizzle enough for your likeing) just before serving (salad gets soggy if sitting in dressing for a long time).



1 8 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg
1/2 cup red onions, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried dill

Mix everything together well

Heat oven to 375*
Use thawed sheets of filo pastry (4). Brush olive oil on each sheet of filo dough. Cut each strip of filo into 3's (using knife edge). Put a spoonful of spinach mix at the end of each long strip and fold into triangles. Place each triangle on a baking sheet. Brush olive oil on top of each triange. Bake until golden brown. (about 15 minutes). Makes 12 triangles. *update, I started using a melted butter/olive oil mix to brush on the filo instead of just olive oil and it really makes what was good even better!


1 Cup of plain yogurt. (I use Liberty brand mediterranian style, it's really thick and strain overnight with a cheese cloth to make it even thicker)
1/2 English cucumber, grated
1 clove garlic crushed
1-2 tsbp dried dill (I just skake it in until it looks right to me)
squirt of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together. Make ahead of time to allow the garlic and dill to flavour nicely.

Serve with spanikopita, souvlaki, pita bread, falafel, or calamari


1 Can of Chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup of mayo or sour cream (light if you prefer)
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp sugar
a few dashes of dried corriander and cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Puree the chickpeas (I use a hand blender, but can be done in a food processor). Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until creamy. Make ahead of time to allow the flavours to come together. Serve with pita bread.

An alternative to weekend pancakes

I've been spoiling my sons by making pancakes every weekend. Unfortunately, now they seem to want pancakes every day. I've made a point of not making any the last 2 weekends. Last week we had waffles and today I made Raspberry-Yogurt Muffins. The recipe is absolutely delicious. I made ours as mini-muffins, without the raspberry jam filling. Just reduce the cooking time to 15-18 minutes. I also made the 'raspberry yogurt' by heating frozen raspberries (about 1/2 cup - I eyeballed it) for a minute in the microwave and mixing it with 1 Cup plain yogurt.

*A Disclaimer

I do not cook fancy or interesting all the time, especially now that we have a toddler and a pre-schooler in the house.

East meets West

No, this is not a post on Asian-fusion cooking. This is what happens when you transplant a BC girl to the Maritimes (Canada, that is). My first impression of Maritime cooking was pork, pork and more pork. I don't eat pork. I can't, it actually makes me physically ill. This led to some uncomfortable conversations when we were invited to ham suppers here. I happily ate my scalloped potatoes (or potatoes scallop for my Maritime friends) as my hostess couldn't get over the fact that I didn't eat ham. Who is this girl and whoever heard of someone not eating ham anyway? Maritimers are great a basic meat and potatoes meals. They are hearty and have served us well over the years. But, as I said, I'm a BC girl. The Vancouver area is full of the best food the world has to offer. And I love to cook. I love to figure out recipes. In fact sometimes I have a hard time ordering at restaurants because I don't want to order something that I can make at home. I want to try something new and delicious. I've had a lot of fun with food since I've moved here, from spooking my friend Barb (a solid bologna sandwich on white bread kinda girl) at work by eating falafel for lunch to introducing my friend Sarah to perogies (what?), it's been good. As my friend Jaclyn says, she loves coming to my house for dinner because you never know what you're going to get.

Yes, I have another blog

Welcome to my third blog. My first is my regular blog, all about me and my family and my thoughts on random things. The second is my book blog, which is basically fulfilling my desires to be a book critic. This blog is dedicated to all of my friends and accquaintences who think I can cook and enjoy coming for supper at my house. Happy Eating!