Monday, 5 August 2013

Black bean chili (lunch) and bacon & lentil burritos (supper)

For lunch today, we had Festive Black Bean Chili from the Moosewood Low-Fat Cookbook.

Supper was Chef Michael Smith's Bacon and Lentil Burritos.

Both dishes were thoroughly enjoyed by my Man, the Big Kid and I.  There were other factors at play that discouraged the three wees to eat either meals, so it's hard to say if they would have liked them.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Update on #5 and eating for healing

#5 (another for the pink team) was born on Monday, June 17th at 8:39am weighing 7lbs 9ozs.  She has dark hair which is very different from the other four blonds I gave birth to.  She is, of course, beautiful and I'm so in love!  In fact, everyone here is totally in love with her too.  They always want to know where she is, how she is, if they can hold her, kiss her, pet her, even tap her!  So much love in our house right now.  I'm just astounded!

I healed very well for a few days in the hospital but then that changed and I've been on bedrest though am not right now, just taking it easy.  My Man is fabulous at juggling the kids and meals so I really do have to remember to take care of me.  I have to get better as soon as possible to be more useful sooner for the family.

I still continue to be amazed by how much our bodies can take a beating and still bounce back.  Also continue to be amazed with the fact that if you give your body the proper tools, it can repair a whole lotta damage.  I wish I'd done more research into the nutrients I'd need more of to heal from a caesarean well before the surgery and "stocked up" both by eating optimally beforehand and having the information at the ready if things weren't went downhill, which they did.

A blood test found I was slightly anemic so was started on iron right then and there and told I should continue to take it for three months to replenish my stock.  A bit of research has singled a few other vitamins and minerals that, along with a diet full of the usual fruits and vegetables, will optimize healing.  I am now eating very well despite a decrease in my appetite, every bite counts.

I prepared my first meal for the family last night and it was chock full of onions, garlic and turmeric - three things specified to aid in healing.  I made chickpea curry and we ate it with rice.

Complete proteins, iron, vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin A were stand-outs in my research.

Wish I'd known sooner.  Gad I know now and it's not too late.  I will heal and I will be fine.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Gravy with no drippings (chicken or beef)

Baked Bree has a great recipe for making gravy without pan drippings that I have made often.  Pan drippings are the juices and fat left over in the pan after making a roast of some kind, be it roasting a chicken, a roast beef or even pork.

Tonight we used some leftover beef to make hot beef sandwiches.  I lightly browned an onion in a big frying pan, added the leftover beef, some chopped up (also leftover) baked potatoes, some frozen corn and peas then smothered it with this gravy and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I served it to the big people in the house on buttered toast.  The Wees got it straight on their plate with a healthy dose of ketchup on the side. 

Gravy with no pan drippings
from Baked Bree
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups stock (beef or chicken or veggie) *see note
salt and ground pepper
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (parlsey is great also)
- melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour, whisk together and cook for a minute over medium heat until it is smooth.
- whisk in the stock. Let the mixture come to a bubble. The roux will not thicken until it comes to a bubble. Cook for another minute or so after it comes to a bubble.
- add the thyme, season well with salt and pepper.
- put this in a container and keep in the fridge. When you are ready to serve it, simmer it in a saucepan until it is heated through.

* NOTE: I used three cups of water and 2 Tbsp beef bouillon concentrate as stock.  You can use chicken or vegetable bouillon for similar results.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Loaded Potato Soup

Simple, satisfying and you can change it up however you like it and depending on what's on-hand.

Ready to serve!
This recipe came from The Pioneer Woman.  She cooks for a crowd (her big, ranching family and often a few "extras") and loves it, it shows.

Bacon has been rendered, onions, celery, carrots and potatoes thrown in. 
Smells great.

This soup is great eaten the same day and better the next day.  I topped mine with cheddar cheese, bacon bits and green onion tonight.  Mmmmmm  This soup could also use a handful of corn kernels thrown in as well.

Loaded Potato Soup
from The Pioneer Woman
 1/4 lb bacon, cut very small (for bacon bits)
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
6 small russet potatoes, peeled and diced
6-8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 c milk
1/2 c cream (I used 'arf 'n 'arf, aka 10%, aka half and half, aka cereal cream, depending on where you live)
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
grated cheese of your choice
green onion
sour cream

- crisp bacon in a soup pot, remove bacon and set aside.  Pour off most of the grease but not all.
- return pot to medium-high and add onions, carrots and celery.  Stir and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the diced potatoes.  Cook for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper.
- pour in the broth and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to get tender.
- whisk together the flour and the milk, then pour into the soup and allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes.
- remove 1/2 to 2/3 the soup and blend in a blender/food process until completely smooth. Pour it back into the soup pot and stir to combine. Let it heat back up as you taste for seasonings, adding more of what it needs. Stir in cream.
- serve in bowls garnished with green onion, grated cheese, crisp bacon pieces and sour cream.

Posted by on January 2 2013

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Caesar salad from my childhood

Oh, how I have been searching for this recipe for years and it turns out it has been under my nose all this time!  I have fond memories of my Mum rubbing down the big wooden salad bowl with a clove of raw garlic in preparation for this salad.  The dressing ingredients go into the bowl, get mixed up a bit, then tossed with lettuce and croutons and eaten immediately.  The lemon juice was usually squeezed out of a lemon itself on a deep beige-coloured Tupperware citrus juicer much like this one, but definitely beige.

This Caesar salad was often a side for a spaghetti supper.  Sometimes there was luscious garlic bread to go along with it.  Boy, those were good times.

I made this tonight to accompany a meal of lasagna.  I also made a bit of elbow macaroni to be served with spaghetti sauce for those who did not want an assembled lasagna.  We invited a small family over to join us for supper and I made the salad with someone else, what fun!  We used garlic from a local farm that we visit now and then to feed the goats and collect the hens' eggs.  Mmmmm.

I found the recipe in my Betty Crocker's Cookbook (1975) inscribed with "Menard" inside the front cover.  Thank you, Mrs Menard.  And thank you, Mum, for finding this cookbook for me many moons ago.  I will cherish it for many more.

Caesar Salad
from Betty Crocker
6 servings

1 clove garlic, halved (I minced about 3 cloves of pungent, oily garlic)
1/4 cup olive oil (you can use as little as 3 Tbsp and increase the lemon to 1/4 c with 2 Tbsp water)
8 anchovy fillets, cut up (or 2 tsp anchovy paste)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard
     freshly ground pepper
1 large or 2 small bunches romaine (about 10 cups)
1 lemon juice (3 Tbsp)
   garlic croutons (recipe below)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 - just before serving, rub large salad bowl with cut clove of garlic.  If desired, allow a few small pieces of garlic to remain in bowl.  Add oil, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and mustard; mix thoroughly.
- into salad bowl, tear romaine into bite-size pieces.  Toss until leaves glisten; squeeze juice from lemon over romaine.  Toss until leaves are well coated.  Sprinkle croutons and cheese over salad; toss.

Garlic Croutons
- heat oven to 400F.  Trim crusts from 4 slices white bread.  Generously butter both sides of bread slices; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp garlic powder.  Cut into 1/2" cubes; place in baking pan.  Bake 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp.  (I used a stale plain bagel.)

 No picture of the salad, I didn't thing to snap one up then the salad was just so good that I wish I had.  When I make it again (I think that's going to be very soon!) I'll get a picture and post it here.

In parting, I'll leave you with a little blurb Betty Crocker provided at the beginning of this particular recipe as food for thought: "Make a show of this one!  Arrange pre-measured ingredients on a tray and ask the man-of-you-house to toss the salad at the table."

Monday, 20 May 2013

Coconut ice cream cake with fruit and a "brownie" bottom

I made ice cream today with no special machine.  I had help from Thing 2 (the girl twin), she was so proud to serve it to her family tonight!

I copied the recipe exactly from this rawsome vegan life.  I dare say it is to be considered a healthy dessert.  You can serve it for breakfast, any snack and dessert.  It's chock full of good things and just a touch of sweet.

Mine even turned out pretty!  THAT's quite an accomplishment for me.  SEE:


 So, I lined the smallest glass mixing bowl I have with plastic wrap and had Thing 2 dump in some various frozen fruit we had in the freezer (sweet cherries, mango, sliced strawberries, whole raspberries and blueberries) then poured the ice cream mixture we made on top of the berries, let freeze, press on a "brownie" crust and invert onto a big plate to serve!  So easy and nutritious.

Before serving, let it thaw in the fridge a bit, maybe about 30 minutes to soften but not melt.  A plastic bowl would have made it a bit easier to unmold.  The bowl should be able to hold about six cups.

Here's the recipe!

Coconut ice cream cake with fruit and a "brownie" bottom
from this rawsome vegan life
Ice cream:
1 can of store-bought raw coconut milk 
1/4 cup raw cane sugar or preferred sweetener, to taste (I used granulated sugar, maple syrup would be fabulous)
1 banana
Brownie crust:
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup raw oats
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2/3 cup dates (or more)
Whatever fresh or frozen you have or like, about 2 cups
Prepare the cake vessel: find a bowl that can hold about 6 cups, or use a small dome cake pan and line it with plastic wrap, tin foil or whatever. I used a dome shaped colander and plastic wrap, it worked fine. Alternatively, you can just make this using a normal cake pan.  Line the sides of the pan or bowl with your chosen fruit. 
To make the ice cream: blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into your pan or bowl and put in the freezer until solid, about 3 or 4 hours. 
To make the brownie crust: put the walnuts, oats and cacao in your food processor and pulse until they become a flour. Add the dates and process until it starts to stick together. Press onto the "top" of your ice cream cake (it will become the bottom when you flip it later). Put in the fridge for about an hour to let everything set. Then carefully flip your cake onto a plate and take off your lining - voilà! Decorate as you wish and let thaw before eating. 
So pretty, it's a party waiting to happen!
I think I'll be making this again and again this summer, the kids all liked it so much!  I think I'll use the ice cream recipe with fruit in popsicle molds or tiny plastic cups with a stick in it.  The brownie base could be made into an energy ball-type thing.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Fettuccine alfredo

Given how much my Big Kid loves his "pasta with white sauce", I'm pretty surprised that I have yet to post about it.  I have one reference to a vegan version here where I get all fancy-pants on you and use a garlic confit (which I'd quite completely forgotten about and am now reminded of how much I loved to have it in my fridge and cook with it and will be making more in a few days) and tofu.  It's delicious but different from this one.

Linquine alfredo with shrimp.
This one is creamy and dreamy.

Quick and delightful.

And easy-peasy.

Miam, miam

I based it on a recipe I found in my handed-down edition of Janet and Greta Podleski's Looneyspoons cookbook.  The cover is falling off and the pages have been splattered but I refer to it often.  This version is not quite as low-fat as theirs but that's what I do.

Linguine Alfredo
based on a recipe from Looneyspoons
1 lb linguine, fettuccine, penne rigate or any pasta that will cup the sauce nicely
2 strips bacon, cut into tiny pieces
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (I love my microplane)
1 1/2 c 2% milk
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1/3 c cheddar cheese, medium, grated
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1 lb cooked shrimp, tails removed, thawed
1/4 c sour cream
3/4 c green peas, thawed or canned

- cook pasta, drain and return to pot with sauce
- while pasta is cooking, prepare sauce.
- cook bacon to very crisp but not burnt, add garlic and sauté 1 minute.
- mix milk and flour together to smooth.  Add to garlic.  Increase heat to med-high, cook and stir until thick and bubbly 4-5 minutes.
- reduce heat to low, add cheese, basil, S&P, cook 1 more minute to melt cheese.  Add shrimp, sour cream and peas.  Heat through.
- add pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.
- best served immediately, but leftovers are good too.

Variations: you can add a can or two of tuna, skinless salmon or chopped chicken.

"My Mom's Muffins" for anytime of the day, or loaves

These muffins are so good, so good you see.  You can eat them with a fox, you can eat them in a box.

Or you can eat them for breakfast, you can eat them at playdates, you can eat them with lunch.

They have all kinds of good stuff in them.

I had lent all my muffin tins out to a friend and only realized that after I had the batter made.  No biggie, just poured it into three well-greased loaf pans and continued.  I baked them for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick came out clean.

The Pioneer Woman calls these:
My Mom's Muffins
but, they're not actually my mother's muffins... yet...
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp b soda
2 tsp b powder
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk *
1 egg
1 banana, mashed
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup molasses

- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Thoroughly grease a 12-count muffin pan.
- In a large bowl, combine flours, flaxseed meal, oats, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, walnuts, and raisins. Stir together until combined.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, egg, banana, applesauce and molasses.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until it just barely comes together. Batter should be wet and sticky; if needed, splash in a couple extra tablespoons of buttermilk.
- Scoop 1/4 cup helpings into the muffin cups and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

* If you don't have buttermilk on-hand, pour 1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup and pour on milk to top it up to 1 cup.  Let sit about 5 minutes.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Menu planning, the final installment, the "meat" of the matter

I plan our weekly menus and usually stick to them.  This is how I do it, this is what works for me.  There are many ways to go about this task and perhaps you will follow this method or perhaps you will take an idea or two away and create your own method.  I would love your feedback in the comments section.

This helps keep my food budget reasonable by avoiding frequent visits to the grocery store where I always pick up more than I went in for and make impulse buys. 

Menu planning helps tremendously with my stress level as well.  There's no opening of the fridge at 4 or 5 pm and wondering "what's for supper?".  There's also no stopping at the grocery store when everyone else is in the same mild, daily panic mode.

I don't plan breakfasts or lunches ahead of time, I just keep things in the pantry that we like.

For breakfast, we rotate a few choices: waffles, pancakes, crêpes, eggs, bacon, toast, cinnamon roll pancake squares, French toast, hot cereal and (as a treat) cold cereal.  Before I go to bed, I check out what we have and pretty much know when I wake up what we're going to eat for breakfast.  Sometimes, if I'm feeling really ambitious, I even prep it before I go to bed (coffee pot ready to be turned on, dry ingredients and wet ingredients measured out but not mixed together for waffles, for example).  We all get up and eat at the same time, that's just our way of doing things.  This may not work for you.  Perhaps for breakfast you'll be the only one up and will reach for something you have made ahead and frozen as you are walking out the door.  Good options for this may include a muffin and Thermos of milk, a breakfast burrito, breakfast cookie with a small yogurt, overnight oats or hot cereal in a Thermos with a piece of fruit.

Lunches for the take-away people (those who leave the house for work or school) are typically a leftover of last night or the night before as the main course.  As fillers, I fill tiny mason jars (1/2 cup size) at the beginning of the week and just pull them out of the fridge all week long so making the lunches is not too tedious for me.  Some common fillers are yogurt with fruit and grains or seeds, trail mixes or nuts and dates, custard or pudding.  I try to always add a couple pieces of fresh fruit or a carrot and some kind of treat, like a cookie or piece of cake or something like that.  My Man also has PB and jam in his lunches on Monday that he leaves at work and all week long I add two pieces of bread to his lunch every day for a sandwich.  On the weekends or for the stay-at-home people, lunch is usually my fave combo of soup and sandwiches.  Whatever is on-hand.

Supper is the meal I plan ahead of time and shop for.  Here goes everything.

So, it's Thursday night and the wees are in bed, the Big Kid is at the pool and your Man is playing a racing game on his iPad... it's quiet!  What do you do?  You meal plan!  YAY!  (This will be long the first time and each time after that it gets super easy and fast, trust me, please.)

Take out a sheet of paper and jot down all your family's favourite suppers.  All of the meals you love, like and eat anyway.  Include the fall-back meals, we're being realistic here.  If you have a picky eater, start a new list in the top right corner of your page listing the things your picky eater will eat and that you will want to have on-hand.

This is the book I use for all my meal planning...


Open it up and my scribbler is there with pens and pencil along with a small folder for the tried and true recipes.

Here is a glimpse of the tried and true recipes, I don't clip many.

Now, outside the margin on the left of your list, use an initial to identify the protein source.  Being from a meat 'n potatoes family, the meals are usually based on the meat so identify what meat each meal is.  For example, if you wrote "tacos " you would initial that with a "B" for beef or "F" for fish.  If you were making vegetarian tacos, you would use a "V".  Meatless meals thrown in there are usually good budget-stretchers and tend to be a healthier choice, so we'll go ahead and add one meatless meal a week into the plan.
B = beef
C = chicken
P = pork
F = fish
V = meatless
I also use "S" for soup meals and "I" to indicate it's a pasta meal on top of identifying the protein source.

Here is my long list of meals to choose from to create weekly menus. 
Note the protein indicated to the immediate left of the list.

On a new piece of paper, I create a protein pattern / meal pattern for the week. 
Monday is Beef
Tuesday is leftover or meatless (leftover from Sunday's big meal)
Wednesday is Pork
Thursday is Beef
Friday is Chicken
Saturday is a Fun / or Yummy or indulgent meal
Sunday is a big meal, hoping to have leftovers

You may choose themes for your suppers instead (Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Burgers and fries...).  For some families, they know Friday night is taco night or pizza night!

See the list of meals in the body of the page, the day of the week immediately to the left of that
with the day of the week a bit further to the left again.

I try to cook double batches to freeze some, but honestly, with this many mouths for each meal and then wanting to keep one or two lunch size servings for the next day, I rarely actually get that second batch in the freezer.  You may have better luck with this strategy if your family is smaller.  I do have a sauce day as often as I can and get lots into the freezer with that.

So, you have a long list of meals to choose from with the protein source on the left and you have some kind of pattern that will work for you.  Take a third piece of paper and this is your weekly menu for the coming week.  Quickly jot down the pattern you've chosen to follow then peruse your long list of meals you enjoy and fill in the blanks.  Voilà, one week done.  Go ahead and plan a second week.  A third, and before you know it, you have an idea of what the month might look like.  But, woah, let's stick to one week at a time for now.

Take a look at what you have in your house already ("shop your pantry first") then figure out what you need to buy.  You may want to factor in a second grocery run halfway through the week to replenish your fruit, vegetables and, if you're like us, the usual staples of milk, eggs and bread.

Tomorrow morning, with the kids in daycare for two hours, a full belly and list in hand (maybe even organized according to the layout of your favourite store) you breeze through the store picking up all that you need for one week's menus.  Go home and divvy up the meat for the week's meals, freeze most of it for later on in the week.  If you have time, cut up a bunch of veggies in containers in the fridge to pull from to make meal prep easier.

Another angle to take on this is to start with the weekly flyers and create your menu based on what's on sale. 

Another take on this is to strictly buy ingredients when you shop and not prepared or convenience food.  Have a hankering for Thai?  Make it!

Once you get good at this, there's Once A Month Cooking!  That sure looks pretty but, boy, it's a big commitment that first weekend of every month.  I do see how it would be beneficial for the people who arrive home at 5:30 on weeknights and bedtime is at 7, this would eat up valuable weekend time though.  I guess Once A Week cooking mightn't be overly ambitious.  A nice start is double-batch or big-batch cooking to cook once and eat twice, I fully support this concept.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Raw food diet, vegan diets

Just a random blurb of a thought and hopefully you can help me with your comments for, against or just about, a couple different ways of eating.

I often find recipes that I make and enjoy that are vegan and / or raw.  One does not equal the other.  But in an unending quest to reduce refined sugar intake and highly processed ingredients (not eliminate) I usually fall on raw food sites and / or vegan sites.  Without wholly adopting the eating style, I do appreciate and sometimes love the new recipe I have found.  Occasionally they become a new "regular". 

My thing is this: when I think of vegan food and certainly raw foods, I think of cooling adjectives.  I think of things that are stored in the fridge or freezer.  I think of fruits and vegetables.  I don't think warm and comforting thoughts. 

Take, for example, chocolate pudding.  My first thought is milk, sugar and cocoa in a small pot bubbling on the stove and eaten warm.  In order to reduce the milk and sugar, I find a recipe with avocado.  I have no qualms whatsoever with it, it is yummy and chocolatey and I have achieved the immediate goal of less sugar and milk product.  But, by combining the ingedients in the food processor or blender, the end result is cool in temperature.

Is this more of an ayurvedic conflict inside me? 

When I want a brownie, I want warm, gooey and fudgey.  Not terms I associate with dates and nuts finely ground together and pressed into a pan and put in the fridge to set or cool.  And again, the date / nut mixture is good and good for me and I like it, but it's not a brownie.

Is this so deeply ingrained in me, like my fingerprint, that I will always feel this way about the things that make me not feel good about myself afterward?  I don't think I have an intolerance to dairy, gluten and sugar, but I have never eliminated them from my diet so cannot say for sure.  I do know that the days / hours that I consume less of these three things I feel better.  Is it because combined these things combined usually produce and "extra" food and not a necessary food, not even a nutrient dense food.

When I think of throwing together a picnic or food for the road, I kind of check off meat, cheese, fruit, bread and wine (or drink).  Can we subsist on this?  Is this the way to go?

You usually come to me to find answers but on this note, I have few.  I would really like to hear your thoughts on this.  Share and tell me what you eat that makes you feel good, what makes you feel not-so-good, how you balance your healthy eating lifestyle with your what-you-want-to-eat self.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

About quinoa and a recipe for black bean salad

I just got home from a wonderful gab session about making wise food choices.  It was great!  Some people learned a new word today and I feel inspired to chat a bit about it.

Today's word is "quinoa" and is pronounced keen-wah and is brought to you by the letter Q.  Who doesn't love the letter Q?!  It's so regal, even when writing it.  Go get a pen and paper and jot down a few Q's just to better appreciate where I'm coming from with this.

Here I will pull a few quote from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites (1996): "Quinoa is no twentieth-century hybrid; its recorded history of cultivation and use date back to the Incan empire.  Indigenous to South America, this wheat-free grain has been rediscovered in the last five years and is suddenly widely available.  Quinoa contains all eight of the amino acids the body cannot produce, is rich in vitamins and minerals, cooks in about 15 minutes, is easily digestible, expands almost five times in cooking and can be eaten plain or used to thicken soups and stews.  It has a mild, nutty aroma and slight crunch.  Pastas made of quinoa flour are also available.  Quinoa and quinoa products can be found in natural food stores and in many supermarkets."

Here is a good picture I found online of uncooked (raw) quinoa.

Raw, uncooked quinoa

 Here is a good picture I found online of cooked quinoa (ignore the bits of green - that is not quinoa).

Cooked quinoa with green bits added for effect

I have served quinoa alongside of chickpea curry, added it to soups and stews (like fast red lentil soup) and in salads (particularly salads in jars).  You can make a hot cereal with quinoa for breakfast or bake quinoa into muffins.

Here is a recipe for a quinoa black bean salad also from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.  They have another little blurb on the properties of quinoa: "Higher in protein than any other grain, quinoa is chewy with a delicious, almost nutlike flavor.  Bolstered with the nutritional power of black beans, this salad is hearty, healthy eating at its best." 

WHAMO!  Eat this, be healthy.  OKAY!

Quinoa Black Bean Salad
from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
serves 4 as a side dish
1/3 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
4 tsp fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1/4 tsp gr cumin
1/4 tsp gr coriander (I leave it out)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (I'd use fresh mint)
2 Tbsp minced scallions (or green onion)
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups diced tomatoes (28 oz can diced tomatoes in a pinch)
1 cup diced sweet peppers (any colour)
1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh off the cob, canned, or previously frozen and now thawed)
2 tsp minced fresh green chiles (I leave out)
salt and pepper to taste
- rinse quinoa well in a sieve under cool running water.  In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add the quinoa, cover, and simmer on low heat, until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- in a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients, add the cooled quinoa and S&P to taste and combine thoroughly.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Garnish with lemon or lime wedges.

This dish would also be great with some cubed, cooked sweet potato thrown in there; for the colour, texture and more vitamins!  Cook the sweet potato along with the quinoa for no loss of nutrients.

It would be good as a side dish to a corn chowder for a supper serving or all on it's own for lunch.

What did you learn today?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Old fashioned cooked butterscotch pudding

I don't know if it's the pregnancy (17 weeks yesterday!) or the weather or just me but I have not been craving chocolate at all of late.  Not even a little.

Other flavours are coming into play and that's wonderful!  I made an Orange Chiffon Cake for the wee-est one's (so far) second birthday.  I made an Oatmeal Cake yesterday with coconut broiled on top.  I'm gravitating toward lemon-y things and craving, got-to-have desiring butterscotch and caramel flavours.  Go figure!

Enter, butterscotch pudding! 

Tonight I made a quick microwaved butterscotch pudding for two and shared it with the Big Kid.  MMMMMM

Here is a recipe that I will be making next for a bigger batch to share with the whole clan.  Here is an adult version to try someday that I have whiskey in the house (I like the fact that it's one pot and seems to cook rather quickly).

Still no camera since it was dropped in the tub a couple of days ago.  It's in a rice bath for a few more days to dry up and then we'll see.

Dana’s Microwave Butterscotch Pudding

So, here's another quick-fix treat for late-night snacking.

I know, I know, you've resolved to lose 100 lbs in this New Year and I'm not helping.

Make this butterscotch pudding and share it with a loved one.  Eat it as a snack and walk it off.  Dip celery sticks in it.

It's just a perfect butterscotch pudding that happens to be made in the microwave (no risk of scorching your milk), cooks in four minutes, doesn't add heat to the house (hello, homemade pudding in July!) and, best reason of all, is made from scratch!  No funky ingredients, no preservatives, no wonky aftertaste.  Just pure butterscotch bliss. 

Enjoy warm or chilled.  Enjoy.

Dana’s Microwave Butterscotch Pudding
from a now-defunct website Dana McCauley
4 tsp cornstarch
½ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
pinch salt
1 cup 2 % milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 Tbsp cold, salted butter, cubed
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
- Blend the cornstarch with the sugar and salt until well combined in a microwave safe bowl or large glass-measuring cup. Whisk in about 1/4 of the milk until smooth. Blend in remaining milk, whisking until smooth.
- Cook mixture in the microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Whisk well and cook for 2 minutes longer or until thickened. Spoon a little of the hot milk mixture into the eggs. Stir until smooth. Scrape the egg mixture into the hot milk mixture using a rubber spatula. Whisk well and cook for 1 minute longer on HIGH. Whisk in the butter and vanilla until smooth.
- Cool to room temperature. Makes 2 servings.

I don't know who Dana is, but she came up with the recipe and I haven't changed one thing so I kept her name in the title as she has done.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Yay for craving vegetables again!  Hip, hip, hooray!

Tonight I made THE best stir-fry I've ever made without following a recipe.  I also very much needed and wanted vegetables so that helps bring the level of satisfaction up a bit when it's "just what I wanted".

I got inspired yesterday and made a weekly menu plan that includes spring rolls, vietnamese noodle bowls, and a few stir-fries.  I have in my pantry for this week rice paper wrappers and rice vermicelli.  I went grocery shopping today and stocked right up on a variety of vegetables including, but not limited to, bok choy, bean sprouts, peppers, cucumber, fresh mint (!), carrots, ginger and garlic.  Ah!  I made the vietnamese noodle bowl for lunch today with a sauce that included Thai fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and vinegar.  I thought for sure the Big Kid would devour it and ask for more but, boy, was I wrong!  He turned his nose up at it after the required "couple of bites to give it a chance".  He thinks it was the mint, but I think it was the sauce on top.  I haven't given up on this, it really seems like a dish he'd like with the right balance of sauce flavours for him.  Maybe with some meat on it or shrimp!

I then used the Three Wees' nap time to chop, chop, chop.  How inspring it is to open my fridge and see all those veggies washed and cut up just begging to be snacked on or cooked with.  SIGH!  I chopped up just about every vegetable in my kitchen and put them in mason jars or clear plastic containers so I know right away what I have.  I don't prep onions or garlic ahead of time, I find the smells are too strong in my fridge so I just cut them up when I'm ready to cook.

For supper, I whipped up a most fabulous stir-fry with all those pre-prepped veggies with soy sauce and hoisin sauce.  I served it on rice vermicelli.  What a joy to have on-hand, those rice vermicelli are!  After spending time at the park with the kids while they biked, supper can still be on the table in 10 minutes.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed the noodles and kind of ate around the vegetables but I think that's a given at this age.  The Girl Twin fed the remainder of the "baby"'s meal to her and that was pretty cute considering she didn't finish her bowl.

Tomorrow is sauce and lasagna making day!

So, no pictures of my beautiful stir-fry, vietnamese noodle bowls from today as Girl Twin dropped my camera in the bathtub yesterday.  It may be a little while before I buy another so try to stick with me.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Asian Pork Chops and hasselback potatoes

Man, supper was so good tonight.  We had pork chops and potatoes and side veggies.

I also made a batch of my "famous" brownies with a graham wafer base, holy, decadent!  I'm going to bring the remaining brownies to playgroup tomorrow otherwise it will be up to me to finish the pan off eventually by myself.  And by eventually I mean in the next couple of weeks.  And by that I mean before this weekend is out.

My kids go crazy for these pork chops, actually we all love them!

Asian Pork Chops
from Canadian Living Make It Tonight
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp gingerroot, minced (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
1/4 tsp pepper
4 pork loin centre chops
- mix all ingredients (except pork) in a small bowl
- coat meat in marinade and let stand for 30 minutes (up to 24 hours in the fridge)
- line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and set a grill on top, arrange chops in single layer.
- bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes until juices run clear and just a hint of pink remains inside.

Hasselback potatoes.
The hasselback potatoes were a huge hit and will be made again.  Perhaps with a cheesy or "fully loaded" variation someday.  drool!

Cut as thinly as you can for more crispy results.
To cut my potatoes in this style, I laid two wooden spoons down on the counter and placed my washed potato between them.  Then, with a very sharp knife, I cut all the way down until the spoons stopped me.  I moved over and sliced them again.  I never even had to think about cutting all the way through (which you don't want as you want them to fan out and be pretty).  You want the slices to be as thin as you can get them, you can't go too thin on these cuts.

Hasselback Potatoes
inspired by What's Cooking America
4-6 potatoes (I uesed organic russets)
2 tsp butter
2 tsp bacon fat (or oil or more butter)
salt and pepper
- scrub potatoes well and dry completely
- carefully slice potatoes as thin as you can and leaving about 1/4" intact at the bottom to hold it together.
- line a small baking dish (8x8" or a pie plate) with tin foil and arrange potatoes, cut side up.
- melt butter and fat together and brush over the potatoes trying to get into the cracks, be sure to roll the potatoes around to coat the potatoes.  Salt to taste (hahahaha, you can't taste it yet, just throw some salt on it, darn it)
- bake at 450F for 30-45 minutes, you may choose to broil it a few minutes to crisp them up at the end.

I forgot to take the "after" photos until after I had served supper.  My Man said "did you take the pictures already?"  I rushed back to the pan to capture what was left.  Here is your after shot!  They were works of ART!

Here's a meal a fellow blogger friend put together using hasselback potatoes, maple ginger carrots with meatloaf.  Miam, Mmmommy!!!!!

And yes, these are wonderful if you choose to peel your potatoes too.  It all depends on what potatoes you have available and your taste preference.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Birthday cake - Orange Chiffon Cake

Today, my baby turned two years old.  Where does the time go?  Where was I?!  She's getting so big!

Here she is in Newfoundland at the age of 15 months.

(By the way, there'll be another baby born to us this coming June.  That's right, #5 is on it's way.  And yes, that is the end for us in this lifetime.)

Back to #4's birthday cake.  I was thinking hard about her and trying to think up a cake that would be "her".  Chocolate was too plain.  White with sprinkles has been done.  Coconut was too wispy and floaty for her.  I'm generally not all that creative when it comes to choosing flavours for things to bake but for some reason orange jumped out at me.  We also just happened to have some oranges in the house that are awesome and she's super awesome so the fit was a natural.  Besides, I think her favourite colour might really be "owange" as she says it now and not the colour blue that her sister has assigned to her because that was the only colour that was left after all the other family members that could speak had chosen theirs about a year ago.

#4 blowing out her candles, Thing 1 watching over her.
I was imagining an orange loaf or a pound cake of sorts and perused the usual suspects of cookbooks in my pantry and Betty Crocker's Two-Egg Yellow Chiffon Cake really stood out.  After indulging over the holidaze, I can hardly bring myself to make another sweet cake right now this one fit the bill.  It is by no means "light" as in less fat than any other cake but it does have a light feel to it - much like a cross between a regular butter cake and an angel food cake (here's a lovely blurb about how the chiffon cake came to be and rose to fame).  You do prepare a cake batter and then fold in an egg white meringue. 

The filling and frosting for this cake is a package of vanilla pudding mix prepared with orange juice and water then folded with whipped cream.  Delicious and what a good trick!

Here I have typed out the recipe as I prepared it using the recipe for the filling as filling and icing on top (I did not use another cup of whipping cream as suggested in the cookbook to frost the top and sides of the cake; I bet that would be great but just seemed a bit OTT (over-the-top) for tonight).  I also do not "do" layer cakes very well, I find the layers slide around on me a lot and usually aren't very pretty so I passed on the suggestion to cut my two cakes in two thereby creating four layers and simply filled and stacked my two cakes (if you have any suggestions to pass along, please feel free, I am open to all you comments).  It was certainly just as good, just not as impressive if I was bringing it to bridge night or something else fancy that women get together and bring stuff to and then judge each other based on it's appearance.  I don't buy into that jazz.

This fancy cake was served after a feast of "pee-dda" which she chose from pizza or spaghetti.

The Orange Cake was one of the options in the yellow chiffon recipe, I have typed it out here as the recipe as I have prepared it.

Two-Egg Orange Chiffon Cake
from Betty Crocker
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar, separated
2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup oil
1 orange, zested and juiced (measure juice of one orange, add water to equal 1 cup liquid)

- heat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour 2 round cake pans or one bundt pan. 
- zest one orange and juice it.  Set aside.
- in small mixer bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.  Add 1/2 cup sugar 1 Tbsp at a time and beat until stiff and glossy.  Set aside.
- measure 1 cup sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into a lage mixer bowl.  Add oil, juice/water and zest, beat 1 minute on high speed, scrape bowl.  Add egg yolks, beat 1 minute. 
- fold in meringue.  Pour into pans.
- bake 30-35 minutes until tester comes out clean in the centre.  Cool completely.

Orange Filling
1 pkg (4 servings) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 orange, zested and juiced (measure juice of one orange, add water to equal 1 cup liquid)
1/2 cup whipping cream
- mix dry pudding mix with juice of 1 orange plus water to equal 1 cup.
- in another bowl, whip cream
- fold together
- place one cake on serving platter, spreat about half the filling on cake, stack second cake on top and spread remaining filling on top allowing it to gently cascade over the side.
- let set about an hour in the fridge (or outdoors in the +4C weather we have here right now) and serve to many.  Best with tea, coffee will do.  Hahahahaah TEA!  ME?!  COFFEE!

Recovering well from the holidays?