Sunday, May 31, 2009

Easy Baked Penne

...or what I did with the rest of the orange puree.

The orange puree has nothing at all to do with oranges :o) It is a mix of sweet potato and carrot that I posted about on my last post. I used 3/4 cup in a batch of cheese muffins. I used the rest in this baked penne. For whatever reason my oldest who is 4 has decided that penne is his favorite pasta. It was per his request that this came about.

1 box of penne, cooked and drained as per box directions
1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion
1-2 cloves pressed garlic
1 jar of your favorite red pasta sauce (I used the PC brand spinach and cheese)
1 cup orange puree (mix of pureed sweet potato and carrot)
1 cup cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and swiss)

Preheat oven to 350*. In a large pan saute the beef with the onion and garlic until the beef is cooked through. Add the jar of sauce and the orange puree - mix well.
Put penne in a lasagne pan. Add sauce and mix well. Grate cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Orange Stuff, Muffins and Sharing the Love!

Where to begin? I have so much to say. 1st, can I brag a little? I now have Paul McCartney tickets! I am so excited about this! I never thought I would actually get to see him live, but I am - July 11th in Halifax! WOOT WOOT!

2nd - I'm very touched that Girlichef
thought to bless me with a blogger award this week! Thank you so much! I am supposed to pass it along to 7 other bloggers that I enjoy. I'd really like to pass it back to her because hers is one of my favorites, but I guess that isn't allowed, so...
I'm also going to stay away from passing it onto others that I passed an award onto before (it doesn't mean that I love your blog any less) and I'm going to not pass it onto others that I know Girlichef passed it along to this week. Look at me, giving myself all sorts of restrictions :o) Do you that makes this any easier when there are so many lovely blogs that I enjoy out there?
So I will pass this onto:
Tried and True Cooking with Heidi - I love that she is looking for delicious meals for her family, while sticking to a budget (sound familliar?)
Lauren's Kitchen - She's got some great recipes on here, also looking to feed a young one healthy and palate pleasing food
Coleen's Recipes- Coleen always has something yummy posted and gives the lovliest feedback too
Lick the Bowl Good - Monica has the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen (and lots more good stuff too!)
Cooking With Carrie - Carrie is yet another mom of boys who has some gret easy meal ideas
Cheat Day Cafe - I'm pretty sure that Melody's blog was the first food blog I came across when I decided to get serious about my food blogging. I love her recipes (in fact I'm making one tomorrow that I'll post later this week)
Smokey Mountain Cafe - Katherine's blog just impresses me again and again
*Just as a special note, I'd really love to pass something along to Katy of Food For a Hungry Soul but I know she chooses not to participate in these sorts of things. May I just then mention how much I enjoy her blog. I have tried out a few of her recipes and they are absolutely delicious. As well, she has the most encouraging feedback about what I have posted. She seems to be a truly special person.
And now the Orange Stuff. I've shared in the past how what an absolute struggle it can be to feed my youngest veggies. This past fall I purchased the book, The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine

I don't know if you agree with her food philosophy or not, but it fits in with what I believe. Keep offering kids veggies as you would with regular meals, but 'hide' veggies into foods that they do eat to ensure that their nutritional needs are being met. Works for me :o)
So this past week, I've made 2 recipes with the Orange Stuff. She calls it a Make Ahead Recipe: Orange Puree. It's really easy (just like making baby food). Take 1 sweet potato and 3 large carrots. Boil them in a little bit of water until they are soft. Drain. Blend it until it is smooth. Makes about 2 cups.
This is her most versatile puree. You can plan to use it up in a few days, or freeze it in ziplock bags ready to use later. This week, I made her grilled cheese muffins (with two adaptations - she uses her own flour blend and oil in hers).

1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup parmasan cheese
1 cup low fat cheddar cheese (I used light sharp)
2 eggs
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup orange puree (see above recipe)

Preheat oven to 350*
Mix all the dry ingredients plus the cheeses in a large bowl. Mix all the wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Fold the wet ingredient mixture into the dry ingredient mixture. Mix until the flour is just moistened.
Scoop the batter into a muffin tin sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake 25-30 minutes (large muffins) or 12-15 minutes (mini-muffins).
These muffins are the lightest sweet muffins I've ever had. The taste reminds me of corn bread, but not as dense. My boys liked them a lot too. I made minis (I usually do). I think when I next make them I may play around with the recipe more to make them savoury-er - add some onion and herbs?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fajita Fiesta

This was a very adapted shared meal with my friend Jen's family. Originally this was to be just a meal for our family on Sunday. My oldest who is 4 really wanted to play with his best friend (Jen's son Josh). So I thought, why not? and invited them over for supper. The only drawback was realising that I only had one pack of wraps (6) and I was now feeding 8. I did NOT want to go to the grocery store on a Sunday. It's crazy! I had no desire to stand in a huge line up just for wraps. I stopped by the bread outlet instead and while they didn't have any wraps in, they did have pita bread, so we used that instead. It actually ended up working better for the kids as all the filling didn't fall out of their wraps (which is what usually happens.

Here's all the fixin's

Beef - I had cut a large piece of steak meat into strips the day before. I put the beef strips into a ziplock back. I then took a Fajita seasoning pack and sprinkled it all over the beef. I added about a half cup of water and mixed it all together. I sealed the bag and refrigerated it to use the next day. I just pan fried the beef until cooked through. I had wanted to BBQ grill it but it was pouring out.

Veggies - I cut a large onion and one and a half red peppers into thin strips. I used the leftover marinade from the beef to saute into the veggies. I cooked them until the veggies were softened.

Beans - 2 cans of beans in tomato sauce into a casserole dish. Hand blend it until relatively smooth. Grate 1/2 cup of cheese into it. Sprinkle in a few tbsp of Tex-Mex seasoning. Mix it all together and cook it in the microwave for 5 minutes. I usually use one can of beans and tomato sauce and one can of kidney beans (well drained and rinsed) but I didn't have kidney beans on hand. You can also sub in one packet of taco seasoning for the Tex-Mex seasoning.

Guacamole - I used my own recipe found here

Sour Cream


Grated Cheese

Heated Whole Wheat wraps and pita bread

Multigrain tortilla chips

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hungarian Goulash

I cannot take credit for this wonderfully delicious recipe at all (only the fact that I asked for it). I first ate this at my friend Jen's place a couple of years back. She had asked us if we liked goulash and to be honest, I had no recollection of ever eating it. I was in for a big treat. This is so tasty! And it is a wonderful recipe for the slow cooker. I need recipes like this for days when I know I just won't have time to cook after work.

Here's Jen and I just before leaving for New York on March Break this year. Yes, we drove to New York together with 4 kids 6 and under. (a 1 and a half day drive - and we survived!) She's a great girl. Our kids are pretty close in age (6, 4, 4, & 2) and we often share meals together, or take kids for each other to give the other a break.

Jen's Goulash

1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cut int 3/4 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 garlic clove, crushed (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
14 oz canned tomatoes with liquid
1/2 tsp liquid gravy browner (I leave out because I never have any)
2 tsp beef bouillon powder
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2-1 cup sour cream

Combine first 7 ingredients in a slow cooker. In a medium mixing bowl stir together tomato, gravy browner, bouillon powder and sugar. Pour over beef mixture. Stir.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 4-5 hours. Add sour cream - stir. Serve over rice.

*Mommy Gourmet has her polls up for a dinner you would enjoy and I'm one of the people up on it for my Thai Dinner Evening from not too long ago. Check it out and don't forget to vote!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Saturday BBQ at the park

One good thing about living in a company town is that they have used some of their land to turn into a park space. And because they are an oil company they pipe gas into the park right to gas BBQ's. I love this. Several times over the sunny (and somewhat warm) season (it's not long around here) we take our BBQ up to the park for dinner and then go for a hike afterwards.

Steak Marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup steak sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Mix everything together in a small bowl. Pour over steaks to marinade for at least 2 hours (I like to marinade them for 24 hours, it tastes better). I also bought the club pack (read=big, cheap pack) of steak meat this week. It came with 2 large cuts of beef. I cut one into serving size steaks and trimmed the fat from it. I then marinaded it with this marinade in a ziplock bag. The other steak I trimmed the fat from and cut into strips to marinade for fajitas (look for this recipe later this week).

Chick Pea Salad

Also known as Red, White and Yahoo Salad from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry by Janet and Greta Podleski. One of my favortite summertime salads (and requested potluck dishes).

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pint of grape tomatoes, (slice each tomato in half)
1 container of mini bocconcini, (slice each cheese in half) - (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsalmic vinegar
salt and pepper to season

Mix everything together

*Bocconcini is fresh mozzerella in little cheese balls. You can find it in the specialty cheese area (or fresh pasta area) of your grocery store. If you've never had these before, you are in for a treat. I make another salad, that's very similar with the larger bocconcinis and tomatoes and basil that's absolutely delicious too :o)

Fruit salad

I love fruit salad, it's so easy and you can pretty much put whatever kind of fruit you want in it. When I was teaching kindergarten, for our end of the year party I would have the kids each bring in a fruit of their choice. We'd then cut it all up and put it in a big bowl to mix togehter, naming it friendship salad.
This week's fruit salad had:
1 banana
1 gala apple (peeled)
2 kiwi
1 cup mixed berries
1 mandarin orange cup (1/4 cup), drained
1 tbsp lemon juice

I know, I've said before that I'm not a fan of oranges, and I'm not...but I don't mind them in fruit salad because I can pick around them and other people like them.

Also at our BBQ picnic we had Party Mix and Pop.

You'll notice that this didn't have anything to do with Memorial Day. We don't have Memorial Day. Our May holiday Monday is Victoria Day (the week before). Victoria Day falls the Monday before May 24th, which was Queen Victoria's birthday. It's in rememberance of her and an acknowledgement of the reining sovereign (Queen Elizabeth) It doesn't mark the beginning of summer holidays either (though we still think of it as an official marker of summer). We still have until the end of June before school is out. I hope all of you had a great May long weekend (regardless of where you are and what you are celebrating and when) Cheers!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Baked Potato Soup for Souper Sunday

I was doing a fridge clean out on Thursday, making mental notes of what we had and what we needed when I saw that we had a bunch of potatoes that really needed to be cooked up. Hmmm. What could I do with them? Potato soup was the first thing I thought of and then I remembered hearing about baked potato soup sometime in the past (but I couldn't remember where or when). No problem, I just made it up. To which my husband exclaimed, you are getting really good at this. Thanks honey.

6 potatoes scrubbed
2 tbsp butter/margarine
1 onion chopped
1 tsp each dill, thyme, parsley
4 cups veg soup stock (I think chicken stock would be fine too, I just had veg on hand)
grated pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup light sour cream

Heat oven to 350*. Poke the potatoes several times with a fork and bake for an hour.
When the potatoes are baked, take them out of the oven to cool a little and start the rest of the soup. Melt margarine over low-medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened. Add the herbs and blend in. (*pre-heat the veg stock) Add the veg stock and bring heat up to med-high. Grate in the pepper. Cut open the potatoes and scoop the potato out of the skins into the soup. Let everything heat up to a nice boil. Remove from heat. Use a hand blender to blend the soup together (or transfer to a blender in batches to blend, then return to the soup pot). Grate the cheese into the soup and mix to help it melt. Stir in the sour cream.
Serve as is or grate a little more cheese on top.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Puffed Pancake

Of all the regular dishes I make, this one is one of my husband's favorites. I think of it as a 'special' breakfast food, so I don't make it a lot. Usually it comes out for Christmas morning, or for when company comes to visit. This morning we shared it with good friends of ours who are visiting from Ontario.
This was one of my favorite breakfasts when I was a kid. My mom had found it in the Vancouver Canuck's Cookbook (circa 1982 or '83). She topped hers with strawberries and whipped cream, and we knew it simply as Strawberry Puffed Pancake. I've made a few variations over the years, so I simply title it as Puffed Pancake. This recipe can be halved if you are serving to a smaller number.

2 tbsp butter/margarine
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt (keep salt at 1/4 tsp if you halve it)

Heat oven to 400*. Put the butter in a large rectanglar cake pan (or lasagna pan) and let it melt. In a medium mixing bowl beat the eggs. Add the flour, milk and salt and whisk until combined together (don't overmix it - lumpy is better in this case!)
Take the baking pan out and pour batter in. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Have everyone in the kitchen ready for when you take it out of the oven for the 'ooh ahh' moment. Serve with your favorite pancake toppings. We used mixed berry topping and whipped cream this morning. Everyone else enjoyed sausages (which I finally made properly) as a side.


Apple Puffed Pancake
Slice 2 baking apples thinly. After the butter is melted, sprinkle pan with brown sugar and cinnimon. Layer the apples on the bottom before pouring the batter over.

Peach Puffed Pancake
As above with the apples, only use peach slices instead.

Berry Topping
Fill a medium bowl with mixed frozen berries (2 cups). Heat in the microwave for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup sugar. Mix well.

Operation Aborted

Thanks Coleen for this one. If you use Internet Explorer, like me you've probably been getting very frustrated with the 'operation aborted' message when you try to open a link. It's not you (unless you want it to be about you :o) ). It's a known blogspot issue - you can read about it here

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pay it Forward Giveaway!

I found out this morning that I won Pam's pay it forward giveaway! I'm very excited about this that I wanted to start on my own right away. Thank you Pam! I look forward to seeing what surprise comes my way :o)

What is Pay it Forward?

There are so many lovely giveaways in blogland, bloggers eagerly commenting and abuzz with the excitement of winning an unexpected gift, but that’s it. Someone wins, and then the generosity comes to a screeching halt and we go on with our lives. Nice, but lacking in momentum. This giveaway is a little different, however, because the “receivers” are also to become “givers”, if you will. In fact, that’s the most important rule of the game...

The rules:

I will send two people who leave a comment on this post a gift within the next 365 days. I am willing to mail anywhere in the world, so don’t let that stop you from commenting. The catch is that you must have a blog and be willing to do the same thing. To enter, leave a comment on this post, no later than Friday, June 5 by midnight, Atlantic time. I will announce the winners on Saturday, June 6th.

Top Cooks

As I've been surfing my favorite foodie blogs, I keep seeing the same names again and again: Tyler Florence, Ina - the Barefoot Contessa and a few others. I feel a little bit behind in the who's who in cooking. I haven't had cable for about 6 years now so I don't get to see the Food Network and TLC like I used to.
The first chef that I ever watched with rapid adoration was Emeril *bam!*. I loved his show and learned a lot about flavoring from him (no such thing as too much garlic - I agree) - of course a lot of his tips were not great for the arteries :o)
I know my favorite cookbook authors Janet and Greta Podleski have their own show now, which I would love to see - but they amuse me just with their cookbooks.
So in my online travels who would you reccommend I check out? Why them? Is it style? Is it their food? What appeals to you about them?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Picky, picky?

No recipes today, sorry - I'm eating leftovers. The picture is me with my youngest son, Jeremy. Jeremy is two, and as you'll find out, he's a terribly picky eater. I wrote about my food trials and tribulations with him for my shared parenting site with my friend Jill called Clever Mamas.

My youngest son has all the markings of a picky eater. There are things that he likes (chicken strips, fries, yogurt, cereal, applesauce and anything bread) and things that he doesn't (pretty much everything else). There are also things that he can't eat due to allergies (eggs, soy products). I met with a nutritionist a while back to figure out how to solve his eating dilemma (to me this was a dilemma). The biggest thing that I couldn't figure out is that he would not eat any veggies and very little in the way of fruit. If the fruit is dried (raisins, apricots) he's fine with it. If the fruit is pureed (the many varieties of applesauce) he's fine with it. If it is in any way shape or from of its natural state, it is so offensive to him that you would think I was asking him to eat a rat sandwich rather than a banana or orange. He loves pancakes, add berries to top the pancakes? He will not touch them until the berries are removed. As far as veggies go? Forget it. I did work around this one with my first but he would always eat a spoonful at least per meal. This little boy? I'd have better luck getting a hippopotumus to walk a tightrope wire.
So as much as some people would say this is cheating, I hide food within food he likes. I dice, I puree, I mash and combine. I'd rather he get the nutrient one way or another than face Grand Kitchen Battle 2009.
There are foods that he likes that naturally lend themselves to more foods he tries to avoid. Spagetti sauce is great - he gets some beef, tomato, and red pepper in that. Pancakes are a great place to add as well: pumpkin, apple, squash and blueberries are all wonderful added to pancake batter (just not all at once). Smoothies are a tasty treat that can have virtually any fruit and veggie you desire. My friend Jen has a wonderful recipe for smoothies with Spinach (and her kids have no idea). Trail mix is another tasy snack. Bulk food stores have all sorts of dried fruit (kiwi, apricot, peaches, pineapple and raisins) that you can add to nuts and cereal pieces. And let's not forget the beauty of muffins: zuchinni, pumpkin, fruit - the varieties are endless.
I do continue to offer everything that we are eating to him. I want him to be familiar to all sorts of food (even if he isn't actually putting it in his mouth). The nutritionist had a wonderful story that she told me about a lady that she knew who had travelled to South America. There was an evening where she had been invited as the guest of honour to a banquet. Unfortunately for her the menu consisted of local cuisine. Local cuisine that she had no intention of ever eating. Everything was edible. Everything was considered a delicacy. Everything was completely not North American. Cockroaches anyone? Manners dictated that she at least take the food, which she did. She started eating things she knew she could handle - seasoned flatbread, that sort of thing. And she watched everyone else eat. As the night went on, she became less disgusted by what was on her plate. At first she just started to poke at it a bit. A little later on, she took a piece and held it close to her mouth. She eventually popped a little of it inside, just to taste. Step by step and very slowly, she ate one. Sound familliar? As much as what we eat is normal to us, our little ones see everything as brand new. What may look so appetizing to us, may be a cockroach to them. They may play with it, try and figure it out, or reject it outright. They may get to the point where they put it in their mouth only to spit it out. A few may actually start to eat it. But each stage of discovery eating is just that, a stage. There are many, many stages that happen from a piece of food on a plate to consuming that food in outright agreement. The next time your child is being picky, think of the cockroach and don't force it on them. Goodness knows that our culture has enough food issues as it is. If you are really concerned that your little one isn't eating well, track their food consumption. What, when and how much are they eating over a cycle of a few days? They may be more nutritionally balanced than you ever imagined.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thai inspired dinner with a good friend

I've been wanting to visit my favorite Thai restaurant, Suwanna for a while now. It's a nicer place to go and we usually reserve it for special occasions (the last time we were there was my birthday back in November. We were going to go there for Jonathan's birthday a couple of weeks ago but it was closed (they take a couple of week's holiday each year). So while we went elsewhere for dinner that night, my Thai craving didn't go away. While I make a decent Thai stir-fry, there are other dishes that I love eating but have never made myself. Tonight was the night to search and experiment. Can I make more than a stir-fry? Can I brave a carrot salad and succeed? How about Chicken Satay and peanut sauce?
I did some googling and found a few recipes for each. Some I followed as written, others I tweaked.
1st up was the carrot salad. Carrot salad is something I would never have ordered were it not for the encouragement of my friend Erin on her birthday at Suwanna one year. She raved about it. I thought how good could a pile of shredded carrot be? I am not a huge coleslaw fan to begin with, why would I order something resembling coleslaw at a fancy restaurant? I am so glad I did. This carrot salad was so delicious. I found a highly rated version at Group Recipes and gave it a go.

3 cups grated carrots
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 cup chopped peanuts
Finely chopped fresh mint for garnish (I didn't have fresh mint so I left this out)

In a food processor blend all the vinaigrette ingredients except peanuts and mint. (I used a hand blender to mix)
Wash the carrots with a brush and grate into a large bowl.
Add the dressing and marinate for 20 minutes before serving. (ours marinated for closer to an hour)
Garnish with chopped peanuts and mint.

The result was a lovely salad. All adults at the table loved it. I say adults because my kids took one look at their plate of salad, rice and chicken and kind of shook their head. Elijah ate the rice, tried the chicken and salad before rejecting it. Jeremy didn't even get that far. He immediately grabbed the salad into his hands and said, 'No like this' and started to pile it onto my husband's plate. At that point I figured it would be a lot easier (and quieter) to make them each a snack plate supper of cheese and crackers, yogurt cups and dried fruit. It worked!

Thai stir-fry and basamati rice I could probably make in my sleep by now. I made the stir-fry and curry sauce plain (no shrimp or anything) and added more veg than I would if I were making this with a meat. I halved the sauce from my usual as I had only half a can of coconut milk left over from the satay marinade.


1 tbsp cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped

Stir-fry all of the above over medium low heat until just soft, add the sauce (below) and allow to cook together to let the flavours blend into each other. Add some fresh chopped cilantro just before serving.

Curry Sauce (1/2)

1/2 can coconut milk
1/2 tsp red curry paste
few dashes of fish sauce

Boil altogether in a small saucepan, whisking well.

Chicken Satay

The chicken satay recipe I found at All Recipes.

1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into strips
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (did not add)
1 tablespoon chopped unsalted peanuts (did not add)
12 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 15 minutes (we just grilled the chicken without being on skewers)

In a medium bowl, stir together the coconut milk, ground coriander, curry powder, fish sauce, and chili oil. Add the chicken breast strips, and stir to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 hours.
Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill for high heat. Thread the chicken strips onto skewers. Discard marinade.
Grill chicken for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until no longer pink. Time will depend on how thick your strips are. Transfer to a serving plate, and garnish with cilantro and peanuts. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.

*We didn't skewer it and I didn't add the cilantro and peanuts at the end because I already had a couple of dishes with both. Also, when I started the marinade I was out of ground corriander so I used 1 tsp thyme and 1/2 tsp parsley in it instead. I did have to make a grocery run for a couple of things (highly unusual for me, I know) and ended up picking up some ground coriander while I was there and adding it to the marinade when I got home. I think the chicken sat in the marindade for a good 3 hours before we grilled it on the BBQ. I also managed to convince my husband to BBQ in the rain for me for this, which I am very grateful.

This chicken was really tasty. I would definately make it again.

Peanut Sauce

The peanut sauce I had a harder time finding. I read a lot of peanut sauce recipes and never did find one that I thought would be really good. What I ended up doing was basing mine on a recipe I found at All Recipes and then adapting it based on the comments it had received. It made a lot more sauce than I was expecting, and I ended up cooking it in a small saucepan over low-medium heat in order to get the peanut butter to a really smooth consistancy.

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (I used smooth, natural)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar (I used brown sugar instead and increased it to 1 tbsp)
2 drops hot pepper sauce (I increased this quite a bit, probably 4 or 5 good shakes, not drops)
1 clove garlic, minced (I increased this to 2 cloves crushed)
1/2 cup water
*I added a little bit of chili oil and threw in some sesame seeds too

In a small bowl, stir together peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, hot pepper sauce and garlic until well mixed. Gradually stir in water until texture is smooth and creamy.
*These directions didn't work for me. I combined everything into a small saucepan and whisked it together over low-medium heat instead.

The results were quite tasty.

Dinner was followed by mango sorbet and chocolate chip cookies. Very tasty.

So a little while back, Mommy Gourmet challenged us to have a meal with a friend (or friends) and write about it. I really wanted to do this, not for the contest of it, but because I really enjoy spending time with my friends. Because of the chaos that is our lives at present I was starting to think that I wouldn't have the time to share an evening with everyone. We did have dinner with friends over the past month, but it's been dinner out, not dinner in.

This morning after church, my husband was chatting with a very good friend of ours, Debbie. As I joined them I kept getting the nudge to invite her over for dinner, so I did. (Hey, when God speaks, I've learned to listen). As soon as the words were out of my mouth, Jonathan said, "I was just thinking that, yes, you should come over for supper tonight." So she agreed.
It has been too long since we've had Debbie over. We don't live close to our family (life having taken us to the complete opposite side of Canada), but we've been fortunate enough to make some friendships here that truly have become more than friendship. I would count Debbie as someone who is more family to us. She is one of Jeremy's godparents. She is someone that we have travelled with. She is someone who has cared for our children when we've gone away (she looked after Elijah when I was labouring with Jeremy). She's one of the first people to know what's going on with us. She prays for us and with us. She's just a really lovely person. Her daughter, Christy is also very close to us and is the first person we call to take care of the boys when we want a night out. Christy was away tonight for the long weekend, so it was just Debbie, which was neat because we often don't get to see Debbie, just Debbie.
The boys were so excited to see her. She is one of their favorite people. You can always tell with the kids who they like and who they don't by how much they show off, and it was full force show off mode tonight.
Most of the night took place in the kitchen (because let's face it, I'm somewhat of a Maritmer now and that's what Maritimers do) and we just talked. We talked while I finished up supper. We talked while we ate. We talked while I cleaned up. We talked during dessert. And we talked over tea (Darjeeling - me) and coffee (Starbucks blend - Jonathan and Debbie) afterwards. Those are some of the best nights. You don't need to plan any entertainment (and really, a two year old running around in his diaper telling you he's naked is entertainment - and hey, there's always his four year old brother doing his best Elvis impersonation using a hockey stick as a guitar too). It's just friends being friends, catching up and being comfortable with each other. There's no pressure to be anyone in particular, just yourself.
Debbie loved the food. She fully admits to being a functional cook. She makes sure that there is always a nutritious meal set out (she and another friend of ours run a place called Jordan House, which boards women who need a place to stay), but she's not one to experiment with food. She had a good laugh that my kids would turn down this 'gourmet meal' for cheese and crackers. She thought the carrot salad was so tasty (never having had Suwanna's to compare to). She asked how I made the stir-fry (and had seconds, always a compliment to the cook). And just seemed to really enjoy the meal. She also had a giggle over me taking pictures of what we were eating, but was intregued enough to want to see the blog after supper.
I don't think you can ask for much more than that. Good friend, good food, good time.

Debbie with Elijah

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bisquick Popovers - an experiment

I was quite inspired by Coleen's Mini-Popover recipe and decided that I would make those instead of my usual Saturday morning pancakes. Unfortunately, I forgot that I used up my flour making muffins earlier this week. To tell you the truth I really did not want to get out of my jammies and run to the store to get flour (that kinda defeats the purpose of a lazy Saturday morning). So I hunted around my cupboards to see what I could find. What I found was a box of Bisquick. I don't normally have Bisquick in the house, I had bought it especially for a dumplings recipe. So really, I don't know a lot about how Bisquick works, but I thought I'd try a little experiment and see what happened. I wasn't sure if this would work, and they didn't turn into popovers exactly, more of a thicker Yorkshire Pudding, with no fancy rising. They were still fluffy and tasty. I think they would have been even better if I'd had some whipped cream to sweeten up the berries. While I was waiting for them to bake, I looked on Betty Crocker's site to see if anyone else had made something like this. While I didn't see any recipes like it, I did see some other recipes that looked tasty. I may just have to buy another box of this stuff and experiment some more.

2 eggs
1 cup Bisquick
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 450*. Beat eggs until fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together until blended. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup half full. Bake for 15 minutes.

*Cooking Tip - When baking with a muffin tin and you don't use all of the muffin cups, fill the remaining cups half full with water, this prevents the cooking spray from cooking onto your tin.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I apologise in advance if I've posted these before. If I did, it was when I started my food blog and took no pictures. Of course because I had made pumpkin pancakes this weekend, I had plenty of pumpkin left. My kids love muffins (especially mini-muffins) and gobble them down. Recipes like these are a wonderful way to get an extra veggie in them too. I found the original recipe for these on the Spark People recipe data base and then adapted a few things to my own liking. This is my adapted version. These muffins come out moist and spongy and very tasty!

1 1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C applesauce
4 eggs
1 15 oz can pumpkin (this is what the recipe calls for, but being Canadian our measurements are not in oz on the cans, the are in ml which doesn't translate well at all, one is weight the other is volume. So, I just use what I have leftover from the pancakes and it seems to work well - about 2+ cups)
1/2 C water
3 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 C semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400*. Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray or use paper liners.
Mix sugar, oil, eggs, pumpking and water until smooth. Add dry ingredients, minus the chocolate chips and mix until everything is well blended together. Stir in chocolate chips.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 with batter. Bake mini-muffins for 10 minutes, check the larger ones at 15 (mine were ready then, the original recipe said 20-25). I got 48 minis and 12 regular size muffins out of this.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mexican Casserole

This is one of my mom's recipes. I am pretty sure she got it from Weight Watchers originally. You can serve it as a meal on it's own, but I know my husband well enough that he sees it as a side dish and would be looking for the meat if I tried to serve just this, so I added some Thai chicken wings. (Don't ask for the chicken wings recipe, they're PC brand from the Superstore). I like dishes like this an all in one kind of meal. I think I could have made it with shredded chicken or some scrambled ground beef and it would be fine. I also realised how much I miss living on the west coast where you can get all sorts of peppers and chilies. I used a can of green chilies in this but the kick from a fresh pepper was lacking. I was inspired by Girlichef's Chile Pepper contest as it jogged the memory to make this. So this will be my contribution for that. If you know a great way to use chili peppers check her contest out too! (And Heather, thank you for your chili post because I finally know the name of that wonderful Mexican cheese that they put in everything but I can't find up here in Canada, I wish we did get it, it's delicious! - oaxaca cheese)

So here's the recipe:

1 cup cooked rice
1 large onion, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 small zuchinni, diced
1 can green chilies (or sub in fresh chilies if you have them)
1 can kidney beanns, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (I don't buy diced tomatoes, I squish whole tomatoes into everything instead)
1 tbsp sugar

My mom's directions read this way: Mix, cover and bake for 50 min. at 350*. Uncover and sprinkle with 3/4 cup grated cheese. Bake another 15 minutes.
Yesterday I added the cheese on top right away and baked uncovered for about an hour. I served it with sour cream.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Grilled Cheese

No, I'm not going to teach you how to make grilled cheese, you all already know (and if you don't let me know in the comments and I'll msg you back how). I impulsively bought a loaf of Italian bread this week and started to get a craving. Now, there's nothing nutritionally great about this sandwich. The bread is white, the cheese is processed and the dip is ketchup. To me this is comfort. Sided with a glass of milk there's nothing like it. Now, I may get fancy and make it with sliced turkey and smoked gryere on multigrain flax bread, but really I come back to this, the basic North American sandwich. Ain't it good?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day BBQ

I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day! I was so excited that we were able to BBQ tonight, our first BBQ of the season. I had bought a couple of steaks in hopes that we could do it soon, the weather here has been uncooperative so far (foggy, drizzly, chilly), but tonight the rain clouds let up for a few hours, like my own personal Mother's Day present. We went all out, I marinated the steaks, Jonathan marinated some chicken and we added a few hot dogs for the boys. Here's my own personal BBQ chef on duty.

Steak Marinade
1/4 cup white cooking wine
1/4 cup steak sauce
1 tbsp Montreal Steak Spice
1 tbsp basalmic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
Mix all together. Put the steaks and marinade in a strong ziplock bag and allow to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Chicken Marinade
Jonathan did this and just told me what he put in it, no measurements so take your best guess.
Olive Oil
Basalmic Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar
Greek Seasoning.
Mix all together. Pour over chicken (we used chicken breasts that had been slices into chicken strip size) in a strong ziplock bag and all to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

And what about the side dishes? The first was a Carrot Bake that I stumbled upon on Katy's blog(of Food For A Hungry Soul). It had been calling my name since I first saw it a few weeks back and I wasn't disappointed. It actually reminded me of a scallopped corn dish that I make and enjoy. I've quite often what I could do different with carrots seeing as J doesn't like glazed carrots and I really only know 3 other ways to cook them (boiled, stir fried, and mashed with turnip). So thank you Katy for something new to add to my repitoire!

The second side dish also has a story. I was on Pam's blog (For the Love of Cooking) and she had a teaser picture of a potato dish headed by the words: Need an easy side dish? And I was hooked. I wanted those potatoes now! Clicking that picture led me to a plethora of side dishes and I started to scroll, and scroll and scroll, until I finally found them. It turns out that she had found the recipe on FYI they are called Crash Hot Potatoes and they are absolutely delcious and very easy to make.
Altogether with a glass of Diet Coke, not a bad Mother's Day meal. Have a wonderful day!

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Happy Mothers Day! And happy Souper Sunday! This picture really does this soup no justice. It's actually quite a flavourful, delicious soup. When my husband came in, he had wondered if it was Mulligatawny, so if you like that, I think you'll like this. This recipe is adapted from 'Eat, Shrink and Be Merry' by Janet and Greta Podleski. (called Melancauli Baby in the book) Their cookbooks are my favorite and most used. I wish I got the Food Network so that I could watch their show, my mom says it's very good. But, we don't subscribe to cable or satellite (I know, we're one of the few families using rabbit ears these days), we really don't watch a lot of TV. If we could pick just 3 or 4 special channels that we like and still get the 3 we get with the rabbit ears we'd be just fine. Well we're still just fine anyway. But now I've completely got off track.
About the is a nice light way of making a rich soup. I think you could add some meat to it (maybe some chopped chicken or turkey) to round it out, but it still stands great as a vegatarian meal. I didn't have leeks on hand so I used 2 small onions instead. I also crushed 3 cloves of garlic in, rather than mincing 2 tsp. I'm really no good for measuring things like garlic and other vegatables, I just give it my best estimated guess. So the cauliflower and sweet potato I didn't measure out either, I just chopped up one cauliflower head and a large sweet potato and added them in. Should be about right though.

1 tbsp butter or olive oil (I used margarine with olive oil in it)
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 2 large)
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cups small cauliflower florets
1 1/2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used veg.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked brown and wild rice blend (I used Uncle Ben's rice and herb blend, which was a white and wild rice blend mix)
1 cup evaporated 2% milk (I had fat-free on hand, so that went in instead)
1/2 cup packed shredded light Swiss cheese

Heat butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic. Cook until the leeks begin to soften. Stir in the sweet potato, cauliflower, curry and cumin. Mix everything well together and let cook for 1 minute. Add broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender. (I actually got busy doing something else, so my simmered for over half an hour). Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. (I've had poor success with blending 1/2 soup before, so what I now do is transfer to a mixing bowl and use my hand blender to puree). Return pureed soup to the soup pot with the remaining soup and mix well. Stir in cooked rice, milk, and Swiss cheese. Heat soup for 1 more minute and serve hot.

This soup is good the first day and even better the next. It will be my lunch soup for the next week.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Look, again

Some of you have noticed my new blog look and commented positively, thank you for that! What was funny (for me anyway) was getting comments about this morning's posts while still working on the redesign, I was curious as to what version you were seeing. Anyway, the reason for the change was 2-fold. 1, I wanted a 3 column blog. I found the 2 column meant too much scrolling for things that I wanted to add on. I had originally picked a 3 column template when I redid the blog look last time around, but it didn't work for reasons unknown to me, so I went with the 2 column one. The second reason was that although I like the pink and brown combo, I wasn't really happy with having a brown backround frame everything. So I went back to to find something else. To my delight, Lena had just posted a new set of templates, one of which was this one called Cuppy Cakes. For me this was perfect. It still keeps the brown and pink combo that I like, but it cleans it up a bit with the white background. It's 3 columns. It features food (the prettiest little cupcakes). I like the font to boot. If you are looking for a pretty new template for your blog, I highly reccommend her designs. I'm using them on 3 of my 4 blogs now and am just really happy with them. I've noticed them on my friend Anna's blogs too. What's great about that is that Anna and I have completely different personalities and yet the designs our blogs have suit each of us completely.

Pumpkin Pancakes

By now you've probably figured out that we eat pancakes a lot. In fact last weekend when I made eggs instead of pancakes my oldest was so thrown off that I made some Bisquick ones mid-week for him. (normally, I'd just serve him up some frozen waffles instead, but we were out). Anyways, I have fond memories of friends of my parents visiting from the States when I was a kid for the Abbotsford Airshow. Abbotsford, BC is the town I grew up in. Every summer they have a big international airshow and we'd often get visitors at that time of year. These friends of theirs were retired and had a converted motorhome. It was via them that I first had pumpkin pancakes and I loved them. I'm sure if I asked my mom, she'd have that recipe around somewhere, but this one is one I adapted from serveral I found online. I like them because they are tasty and my son will eat them without knowing that he has consumed some fruit and veggies.
3 eggs
1 & 2/3 C milk
3/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1/4 cup applesauce
1 C all-purpose flour
1 C wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat your pan or griddle to low medium heat. In a large bowl whisk eggs well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix batter together. Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour batter by 1/4 portions. Cook until tops bubble and turn and cook other side. Serve with butter and syrup. Makes at least 15 pancakes.

my son that knows the pancakes have pumpkin in them and loves them
my son that doesn't know these pancakes are giving him extra veggies and fruit and loves them

Carmel Popcorn

I love popcorn, I really do. It's my favorite snack. We don't have a Kernels in town here, but when I go up to Moncton, I always stop by and one of the types of popcorn I always get is their carmel buttery one. It's so good. When I made popcorn the other night for the boys, I was in more of a sweet than savory mood, so I looked up a way to make my own carmel corn. I found this recipe from Betty Crocker (one of my standards). I changed it up a bit by added the cashews (also a favorite snack). My husband and his buddy really liked it. I liked it too, but I didn't love it. I guess I've been spoiled by Kernels because they have the candy part down perfectly. The taste of this was good, just the texture of the candy was off (but that may just be me because I in no way gifted at making candy). If anyone has a better recipe, let me know! I'd love to try it :o)

Here's the recipe:

15 cups popped popcorn
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups cashews (I think any nut would be good, pecans, peanuts whatever)

Heat the oven to 200*. Put the popcorn on a large roasting pan (I used my clay baker). In a saucepan heat the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture starts to be bubbly. Continue to cook for 5 minutes without stirring; remove from heat. Stir in the baking soda until foamy (I had wondered what foamy meant, but it really was foamy like shaving cream). Pour mixture over popcorn; toss until evenly coasted. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread out on cooking paper. Cool competely (about 1/2 hour). Cover tightly to store.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Triple Cheese Mac 'N Cheese

It was a gray rainy day today in the Maritimes (Joycee, I was looking very longingly at the pictures of your Florida paridise). One thing I do love on a rainy day is some good old soul food and what better than mac 'n cheese? I took my basic recipe and boosted it a bit and the result was the best mac 'n cheese I've had in a long time. I'm definately going to keep trying new cheeses in this in the future.

2 cups uncooked macaroni (I used whole wheat tonight and really enjoyed it)
1/4 C margarine
1/4 C flour
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp worchester sauce
2 C milk
1/2 C swiss cheese
1/2 C sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 C parmasan cheese
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1-2 tbsp parmasan cheese
1/2 cup croutons
2 tbsp melted margarine

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 (medium heat). Slowly whisk in the flour. Add the salt, pepper, mustard powder and worchester. 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). Remove from heat. Grate the cheeses into the sauce and mix well. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Add the noodles. Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir in well so that all the noodles are coated. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and parmasan cheese on top. Put a layer of croutons on top of that (I used Rosemary Calbrese tonight - gives a nice flavour boost). Drizzle melted margarine on top of that. Put the casserole into the oven (so it sits in the middle) and bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My 1st Award

Thank you to Monica for my first blogger award (Preemio Blogger Award). I know that these things float around from blog to blog, so I know it sounds funny but I'm touched that she would pass one on to me. It makes me feel a part of the blogging community. With this I am supposed to tell you 7 things that you may not already know about me. So here it goes:
1. I feel physically uncomfortable if I am not in the middle of a good book.
2. I watch Gone With The Wind every year and love it every time
3. I have never liked eating fresh oranges and avoid them at all costs
4. I hold the distinction of being the only person from my elementary school to go back and be a teacher there. They changed it to a middle school so I will always hold that honour
5. My husband and I delived rival newspapers in the same neighbourhood when we were kids
6. When I started teaching, my favorite grade was kindergarten and I never wanted anything higher than grade 4. This year my favortite class is a 7/8 split and I would love to teach middle school full time. (I would have laughed in your face if you had told me that 10 years ago)
7. My best friends are my husband and my mom. My mom and I live on opposite sides of the country and I feel 'off' if we don't talk every week.
Now, the 'Pay it Forward' part. I'd like to pass this along to a few people whose blogs I haven't seen this on yet:
Jill (who is not a 'foodie' but a quilter and a good friend)
Anna a friend of mine who was the first person I knew that posted her recipes online (and gave me the idea)
Melissa of Schweet 'N Savory
Vanessa of Mommy Gourmet
Lara of Recipe Shoebox

Monday, May 4, 2009


We have this lovely restaurant in town called Vivaldi's. The name is a little misleading because I had thought it was an Italian place. It is, but it's also a Lebanese place. I know, I'd never heard of a combination like that before either! And I've actually never eaten any of the Italian food at Vivaldi's, for me, it's my Lebanese place. Mmmm, my mouth waters just thinking about it. The last time we were there (and by we I me just J & I - no kids, no playplace), I had Kafta. I love the flavours of Lebanese cuisine. So delicious. And I started to wonder if I could replicate this at home. So I did some looking. I found a recipe for the basic meat mixture at LebGuide, which is a guide to all things Lebanese. I figured that would be my best bet, who better than to get a Lebanese recipe from than the Lebanese themselves. Now, I don't have the skewers over charchoal authenticity of it, I did the as meatballs roasted in the oven version. I also had no idea (except my memory) of how to replicate the sauce that Vivaldi's serves. J was quite impressed with the end result, he said I got it pretty darn close.
Here's the recipe:
2 1/2 lbs finely ground lamb or beef (I used extra lean ground beef)
2 cups tighly packed washed and picked parsley (incredibly there was no fresh parsley at the market this week, so I substituted 1/2 cup of dry)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves or 1 TBS dry mint leaves (I used fresh)
1 large onion, cut up for food processor
1 tsp Bhar Helou or 1/4 each ground cinammon, cloves, nutmeg (I used the cinamon, cloves and nutmeg version)
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste

In a food processor, chop onion extremely fine. Add parsely and mint and until you have a fine - not liquified - homogeneous mixture. Put the meat in a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients and spices to meat, combine and mix thoroughly with your hands.
I heated the oven to 400* degrees and formed the meat mixture into large meatballs. I put a little olive oil on my clay baker and then baked the meatballs (uncovered) in it for a good half hour. (Check the meatballs to make sure that the meat is cooked through.)

Now for the sauce:

1 bulb of garlic
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion (chopped)
1 red pepper (chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
1 can whole tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 tbsp beef beef stock mix
1 tsp cinnimon
1 tsp parsley flakes
fresh ground pepper to taste

Roast the garlic. I do this by taking the garlic apart into cloves and removing the skins. I put the cloves onto a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up the garlic into a little foil package. Bake at 350* for 45 minutes. When the garlic is done, puree it with a hand blender and set aside to use later.

Use a larger cooking pot. Heat the other tsp of olive oil on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, red & green peppers, and mix into the oil. Allow the vegetables to cook covered (but stirring them up every few minutes as to not burn or over cook). (I'm going to use one of my favorite cooking descriptions here) Allow the vegetables to sweat. (Don't you just love that description? I've been waiting to use it - it basically means they need to cook until soft and allow the natural liquid to come out of them). Take each tomato from the can and individually squeeze it in - set the remaining tomato juice aside, we're going to use it for something else. Add the can of tomato sauce. Mix in the seasonings (cinnimon, parsley, beef stock, pepper) and the roasted garlic puree. Bring to a little boil, stirring often. Then, reduce heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer.
*As with a lot of tomato sauces, the longer the simmer the better. I have a friend in Italy whose mother starts their tomato sauces in the morning and lets them simmer all day long.

The rice part:
You should have about a cup of tomato juice reserved from the can of tomatoes. Cook 1 cup of basamati rice with the tomato juice and a cup of water. (Measure to make sure, the ratio for cooking rice is 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of liquid).

Serve the Kafta on top of the rice and pour the sauce over that. Delicious!

I definately want to make the Kafta again and experiment with it a bit. I would like to try it on the BBQ this summer, maybe as a kebab with some veggies.

I think this meal would have been even better if it had a side accompniament. Some hummus and pita or a tabouleh salad would have been the perfect contrasts.

My oldest son, Elijah, is fascinated that I take pictures of our food and put them on my website, he wanted to present the kafta to you all, so here is the shot of his hand. You also have to imagine a four year voice of dramatic authority accompanying it with, "Your dinner is served"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Biscuits & A Breakfast Sandwich

hI have been in love with the breakfast sandwiches at Tim Hortons. It's so tasty. I've been trying to pinpoint what they have put into their biscuits (or eggs) that make them so delicious. This morning's attempt was kinda a Tim's sandwich crossed with an Egg McMuffin. But before I get to the recipe, I want to talk kitchen tools.
Before Jonathan and I were married we had the pleasure of registering. Or rather I did. My mom and I had a great time picking out stuff. The only thing Jonathan requested was a good set of knives and a blender, he trusted me with the rest. There were 2 cooking items that he made fun of me for wanting: the garlic press and the egg poacher. You see Jonathan used to be a restaurant cook. For him, if you want to press garlic, you crush it with a knife an chop finely. To poach an egg you do it the traditional way and slip the egg into boiling water. I do neither of those things. I like my garlic press and I like my poached eggs to be easy to make. I will say that in subsequent years he has come to appreciate both tools. For those of you who have never used an egg poacher, basically it's a little pan that has an attachment to hold egg cups over boiling water. It takes very little time to make poached eggs using it.

Okay, on to the biscuits. I took my basic biscuit recipe and changed it up a bit. Here' the basic:
2 Cups Flour (white or whole wheat)
1 tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup margarine
3/4 cup milk
Pre-heat oven to 450*
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Use a pastry cutter to add in the margarine until it's really nice a crumbly looking. Stir in the milk (dough will be quite sticky).
Flour a flat surface and kneed the dough until soft and workable (flour your hands really well too for this). Roll out about 1/2 inch thick. Use a circle cutter (I use one of my kids plastic cups, about 2'' in diameter) to cut out the biscuits. Place on non-stick sprayed sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. I err on the side of less time to avoid burning and keep the baking sheet on a higher up rack. This recipe makes a dozen biscuits.

Here are my additions: I added a tsp each of parsley flakes and onion powder. It worked. The biscuits were nice and fluffy and tasty!

To make the breakfast sandwich, I added a poached egg and a cheese slice. You need to poach the egg well to pick it up and eat it as a sandwich. Overall, a nice, filling breakfast, but I still haven't hit on the Tim Horton's secret. I think I need to go back and have another one there, take a look at the egg this time.

*I've updated this recipe - find the Tim Horton's Breakfast Sandwich Copycat Recipe Here!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Feast of Food and a Funny Carrot

It's been a whirlwind couple of days of cooking. I've really been enjoying my downtime lately and having the oppourtunity to puruse through other blogs. The food that I'm seeing on other foodies' blogsites makes my mouth water. So I decided that in this round of cooking I would try out some of their recipes.
First up was Donna's French Onion Soup

If you haven't discovered Donna's blog yet, take a look. It's well worth it. She writes with humour, a dose of eye-candy and some really delicious recipes. This soup does take some time to make (a lot of simmering and bringing out the flavours of the onions), but it is really worth it. Start cooking about 4 hours before you want to eat (you don't have to stick in the kitchen for the entire time, so don't worry about that.) The result is absolutely tasty. Because I don't make French Onion Soup often, I don't own soup bowls that can go into the oven. I improvised and did the final cheese and bread stage in a large casserole dish. This recipe does make a lot of soup broth, so I only finished up half of it and froze the other half to enjoy another time. Thank you Donna for this treasure!

While I was simmering Donna's soup, I started on Katy's Flemish Carrot Soup. This is the soup I plan to take for lunches at work this week. I did a little taste test and loved it. The taste of it gave me in interesting idea. It's very chowder-like and I wondered how it would taste if I added some seafood to it. I think it would be a delicious twist. I had a lot of fun looking through Katy's blog and have found another recipe that I'm going to try in the next week or so to use up some more carrots that need to be cooked, so thank you Katy!

While I had both soups simmering, I started in on the cookies. Melissa's Cinnamon Cookies have been calling my name since she first posted them a few weeks back. I'm very impressed with Melissa's blog. If you haven't yet discovered it, she is a high school student who cooks the most marvelous things (and has lovely photography too). I first started cooking in high school too, but nothing like what I'm seeing on her site. These cookies were really sweet and soft, just like a cookie should be. Here's a couple pictures of my cookie monsters devouring them.


Back up a day and we come to my husband's birthday cake 2009 edition. He told me that he wanted a black forest cake this year. So I started looking through your sites to find one. I had a feeling I would find a good recipe on the site I did. I wasn't mistaken. I found it at Mennonite Girls Can Cook. When I first discovered this blog, I knew I had found a keeper. I grew up in the western part of Canada where there are a lot of Mennonite families. The food that my friends had in their houses was always delicious. I looked forward to the church bake sales where the Mennonite ladies had their wares out. Mmmm, just lovely, wonderful homestyle food. The blogsite for Mennonite Girls Can Cook is a team effort. Annelise's Black Forest Cake is a family favorite of hers. We served it to 12 last night and they all agreed that it was delicious. She makes hers with strawberries (you should see her pictures), but I opted for the traditional cherry approach. I wish I had had more time to make it prettier, but the taste made up for it!

And finally, the funny carrot. Obviously for Katy's soup recipe I had to use a lot of carrots. When I reached in the bag, this is what I found:

Have you ever seen a carrot like this before? Double roots! Too funny, I had to take a picture. Happy Eating!
*An addendum: Thank you girlichef for introducing me to Kahakai Kitchen and Souper Sundays. I don't how much I'll be able to partake, but I usually do make a soup at least once a month or more in the winter time. Looks like a fun thing to take part in!