Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ending the year - sending lots and love to you all! Bring it 2010!!! Bring it!!

happy new year!  happy new year!  happy new year!  happy new year!


I have been anticipating writing this last post of 2009 for a couple of days now. I am in shock that another year has come and past oh so quickly. I have read a few blogs where people are posting resolutions, what they want for the new year and memories from this past year. I first thought that I would just wish everyone a Happy New Year and leave it at that. And then I thought that I would just share some recipes from last night's dinner and what is on the menu for tonight. And then I thought about just reflecting on highlights from this past year. Well, I'm still undecided, so let's just see how this goes.

2009 has been a year of firsts for me. It's been a good year. One that I will remember, and one that I have no regrets of. My year was full of ups and downs - lefts to rights - and in the end, as we are about to move into another new year, I can comfortably sit back and realize that it all went well. Although it was a good year for me, I know that for a few close friends, that 2009 will be a memorable year for them, but not because good things happened. To those, I wish them all the best, and can only be hopeful that this next year will allow you time to heal your hearts. 

January 7th 2009 - I started my blog. I can't thank everyone who reads my blog day to day, enough. THANK YOU. I feel that my daily writing and sharing recipes has really helped me. I feel that I am able to express myself in a way that I didn't know that I was able to. I feel so blessed - that Chris gave me a laptop for last Christmas - and that really, it has changed my life.
I wanted to do a few giveaway gifts for the month of December - but to be honest - I can't even believe how fast the month came and went. So let's share a few treats this January, shall we?

Running for my life (the series) - I joined a running clinic. I got my butt in gear (my very, very out of shape butt) and ran 3 times each week. I ran a 10 K at the end of it. I ran each week with a lovely group of woman - and on one evening I remember running - out on the main streets and in awe that I was running a total of 90 minutes that night. I have to admit that I was very proud of myself. And now... I am loafing about - dreaming (literally) of running for my life. I need to do this. For me, for my health, for my life. 

Mexico - Our first trip to an all inclusive - and our first trip to Mexico. It was such a treat - something that we will never forget, and something that I hope that we can experience again real soon. The relaxation, the blue water, the sun, the food, the time together, was wonderful.

So, for me, it may be boring, but those are just a few of my highlights of 2009. I feel that I am not going to make resolutions. I feel that most of the things that people pick for resolutions are things that we should all be doing anyways. For example - I need to lose weight - I don't need a New Year's Resolution to help me do that - I just need to do that. So I think for me - I may try and make promises for myself. Promises that I need to keep and work on. I am not sure what they are quite yet - I have more than 24 hours to decide. 

What I do wish for in the new year - is that all of my friends and family feel love and love. I wish that no one is ever lonesome or alone. I wish health and fun for all. Through all of these wishes I want everyone to know that I am here to help through anything and share anything with them. 

All right - for a last couple of recipes for 2009 - let's go out in style. 

Last night we had our dear friend David - aka 'Uncle David the dog nanny' over and his new GF, Laura (nice girl). I made a main course of Brown and Wild Rice, Roasted Carrots with Maple Syrup, Mashed Cauliflower with chives (my new favourite dish of 2009), and flank steak. For a starter I did Lettuce Wraps. 

I HEART Lettuce Wraps. I have only had them twice before (making them - I have made them several times since). The first time I remember having them was at Auntie Babs when I was young - they had ordered them with Chinese food and they were delicious. I thought that they were the best thing ever. I have since had them at a restaurant in Victoria - can't remember where though. So, now I make them - and I love them. They are super easy to make - and really are so refreshing and flavourful.

Lettuce Wraps Sims Style

1 head of iceberg lettuce 
1.5 pounds of ground meat - I prefer ground pork and then ground chicken
1 tsp of soy sauce
Red pepper flakes - add as many as you like - if you like spicy - then add a lot
1/2 jar (@ 150 ml) of Hoisin Sauce*

In a skillet, add the meat and cook until it is cooked through - probably 15 minutes. Add a pinch of kosher salt and the pepper flakes. Once the meat is cooked - add the soy sauce and the hoisin sauce - mix it thoroughly and remove from the heat. 

*Hoisin Sauce - this is the brand that I always use - I haven't made it from scratch before - I really like this brand.


When the meat is cooking - you can prep the lettuce. Prepping the lettuce is probably the hardest part of this whole recipe. It's not hard - you just need to have patience. On the bottom of the lettuce head, there is the root (or whatever it's called) - on a hard surface, bang that a couple of times. With a small paring knife, gently cut out the core (that's what it's called!) and remove it. This will allow the lettuce leaves to be removed from the head more easily. Gently piece by piece remove the leaves. The leaves will be the wrap - so try to keep them intact as best as you can.







Once the lettuce leaves are all removed - your appetizer is ready. I served a couple of pieces of lettuce on a small plate with a small bowl of the ground meat mixture, and everyone can make their own wraps. I think that if you give these a try - you will be in love too!

Now, in prep for a good evening with great friends - I am roasting vegetables for a salad. We are going to our friends - Tina and Jon's. There are 10 of us getting together - each bringing something for dinner - and we will probably play a game, our annual tradition. We were supposed to gather at Chrissy and Jim's, however, their first pup, Keisha, has just passed and understandably they are not in the entertaining mood. I feel for them - I am so sad for their loss. I hope that tonight surrounded by friends will help them with their loss, just a little bit.

I am bringing the Lettuce Wraps as an appetizer. What??? I had a bunch of lettuce left over :)
And I am bringing a Roasted Beet, Carrot, Butternut squash salad with goat cheese and walnuts. 


The vegetables are up in the oven roasting as I type. Once they are out of the oven, I will let them cool and just before we leave I will add crumbled goat cheese and toasted walnuts*. I don't really have a recipe per se - it's just a bunch of cut up vegetables drizzled with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper - roasted at 425 for about an hour. 

*Toasted Walnuts - in a pan - on low heat - let the nuts heat and warm until they are toasted by not blackened.

Well my friends. I am closing my blog on this wet and cold December 31st evening. I wish you all a happy and safe new year. And I wish you nothing but fun and successes in the new year!

Loves. 

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And then there were three...




Three dogs, that is. Don't worry, I haven't lost my mind and adopted a new dog (despite Tracy's trying very hard to convince me to) - this wee girl is my sister's pup, Hattrick, aka, Hatty. She's a good girl. She has comfortably fit herself into the family - and plopped herself down right in the middle of the kitchen floor as I am trying to cook. 

Today - was another day of loafing. I'm in trouble. I feel like all I can do is walk the dogs and laze about. And... there is a new show on the Women's Network (I think that's what it is) called 'Dine With Me'. It's so good. Mindless TV in the middle of the day - see!! I'm in trouble. 

I have a pot of turkey soup on the stove. That will probably be the last of our turkey for now. I made turkey shepherds pie for dinner last night. I used the last of my gravy, my corn and peppers and mashed potatoes. I added a bit of red chili pepper flakes to the gravy, stacked it and baked them for about 30 mins at 400. It was a good dinner, something different from the turkey dinner leftovers. 


The corn and peppers that I had left over were from Christmas dinner. It was something different, something that I haven't made before. It was super easy, and turned out well. It was also very colourful - so looked good with the rest of the dishes.  Not really sure what to call it.


Festive corn and peppers
1 large onion - chopped
2 red peppers - chopped into small pieces
2 green peppers - same as above
1 small bag of frozen corn - I love the Organic brand that Safeway has
1 cup of chicken stock
Red chili peppers - add as much as you like - I like the little bit of heat that they give

Saute the onion in a bit of olive oil and kosher salt. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, corn, stock and pepper flakes. Cover and let it simmer. I cut up all the peppers the day before - so that it could just be added when cooking it the next day - and nothing needed to be chopped. I let it simmer for about 40 minutes. I will definitely make this again - super easy and tasty.

Another dish that we did on Christmas Eve was coconut chicken. I made this dish YEARS ago. I found the recipe in a Chatelaine magazine. They turned out so good. I have since lost the magazine, the recipe so I had to improvise and hope that it would turn out similarly. 

Coconut Chicken

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts - cut into thin strips 
1 can of coconut milk - I like to use the Light version
4 cloves of garlic - minced
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp of hot sauce
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1 cup of Panko bread crumbs - you may need more, so have more on hand

Mix all of the ingredients, except the bread crumbs together. Allow all of the ingredients to marinade for as long as you can. Ideally the morning of or the evening before you cook it. The chicken will absorb the ingredients fully. 

Pre-heat the oven to 400.  Add the bread crumbs to a shallow dish. Dip the chicken pieces into the bread crumbs and generously coat them. Add them to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake the chicken for 20 - 25 minutes - until chicken is cooked. 

It's delicious to serve it with a sweet chili sauce.

Well, that's it for me. I think that I'd better go and stir the soup. We have a party to go to tonight - it should be nice to see everyone after Christmas.

Over and out.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's still Christmas...

I think that I could get used to not having to go to work. Day 5 - lazing about. Well, not really lazing - but being at home - puttering, walking the pups, making turkey soup, eating chocolates, watching a movie during the day! So much fun.  

There isn't really much happening - I feel like I should be out and about - doing chores, having friends in for tea - but then part of me just really wants to sit on my Royal Canadian and embrace it.

I thought I would share a few recipes from Christmas Eve. It was a low key evening, but it was so nice. Instead of making a big dinner, I thought that we would have a progressive type dinner with different appetizers in stages. It turned out just as I had planned. 

We first started out with White Bean soup. I LOVE white beans (white kidney or navy beans they are called some times). This was a super easy soup to make - and I will definitely serve it again. I served them in small bowls, so that it was still an appetizer size. 


White Bean Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons

2 shallots - chopped
1/2 pound of bacon - chopped into small pieces and cooked separately
4 cloves of garlic - minced
2 19oz cans of white beans - drained and rinsed
3 1/2 cups of chicken stock
6 sage leaves - chopped
1/2 cup of heavy cream

In a large pot, saute the shallots in 2 tbsp of olive oil. Let the saute for about 5 minutes - give them a sprinkle of kosher salt - they will love you for it. Add the garlic and the bacon - saute for another couple of minutes. Add the beans, sage and stock - and let everything simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, it's time to blend the soup up. I used my hand blender which worked really well. A blender would work great too - just be careful the soup is really hot. Once everything is blended nicely, add the cream, stir it all up. If you are wanting the soup to be not as thick, you can add more cream or stock. 

Goat Cheese Croutons
Baguette
Goat Cheese

Cut the baguette on a diagonal, relatively thin pieces and toast. Spread the goat cheese on baguette and cut the baguette into for pieces. Add the baguette to each bowl of soup. I also served a piece of baguette with the goat cheese and served it on the side.

I will definitely make this again. It's a delicious soup - hearty and a small bowl is a great start to any dinner.


Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts

I made these for our Christmas Party too - they were a huge hit. They can be made in advance - which is one of my favourites things to do. I made this dish before, but in a large tart size - check it out HERE

18-24 frozen tart shells. Pre-heat the oven to 375, defrost the tarts for 10-15 minutes - and then bake for 10-12 minutes. When they are cooled enough to touch, remove them from the aluminum shells.

4 medium sized yellow onions - cut into thin strips
Olive oil
Kosher salt
1 cup goat cheese

In a large skillet, saute the onions in the olive oil and kosher salt over medium heat for at least 30 minutes. Continue to stir throughout this time. Make sure that the onions don't burn. When the onions are soft and have caramelized - they will be soft and will have turned a golden brown colour. Turn the heat off and let the onions sit for a couple of minutes. Then it is time to add the goat cheese - crumble the goat cheese and mix it with the onions. 

Add a spoonful of the onion and goat cheese mixture to each tart. Once they are all filled - you can put them in a baking dish and let it sit in the fridge for a day or two. When you are ready to serve them, bake them in a 350 oven for 15 minutes.


You will LOVE these. The onions are so sweet and the goat cheese is so incredibly creamy. 

Well - that's enough for me for now. I have an afternoon jam packed. If I have time, I might take a trip to Pier 1. They always have great after Christmas sales. 

Alright - enjoy the Christmas spirit - hopefully you still have some.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
PEACE, LOVE, JOY
CHOCOLATE, CHOCOLATE, CHOCOLATE

Merry Christmas friends and family. I hope that you all had a great day and it was what it was meant to be for all of you. 

Now we are on Boxing Day - and all the hype, the prep, the anticipation is passing - and days of relaxation are hopefully among us.

Christmas Eve was a great day. I was up pretty early prepping everything for Christmas dinner. And, oh was I grateful on Christmas day for that. I made the stuffing, cut up the peppers for the corn dish, boiled the turnips, made Christmas morning breakfast, and a bunch of other stuff. I am really excited to share some of my recipes. I tried a few new recipes this year and they turned out really well. 

Christmas morning we were up early - had far too many presents to open - Santa really spoiled all of us this year. We took a break from opening prezzies, ate breakfast put the turkey in the oven, opened more prezzies and then lounged. Dinner was so easy - no chaos - we all ate way too much - and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It was a great day with my mom - we didn't have to rush out and go anywhere, just really enjoyed the moments. We missed some of our family members, but we were able to talk to them, which made it all ok. Auntie Babs sent a big box of Purdy's which was a godsend - chocolate on Christmas morning - is just the way things should be done. 

Today, Boxing Day, isn't so much 'Boxing Day' for me. It was 13 years ago today that my dad passed. Boxing Day was always special growing up - we always were surrounded by a lot of friends. It is still a very special day for me, it's just different now. I remember today, 13 years ago like it was yesterday. I so wish that it was yesterday, then I would have had seen him again. Now, we have new traditions, family is still very important on this day. We relax in the morning, we get together, we eat and then usually have a hockey game on at some point.

Well friends, this is a short post - with some of my fave pics added. I will be posting some recipes this week. I think that I will add a 'Christmas', 'Thanksgiving' and other special occasion menus - so that I can keep them central - and remember them for my next holiday dinner.

Christmas Eve - Chris (lounging on the sofa) waiting for Santa.

Jules 're-inacting' the photo op - of when she opened her cell phone. Hey Mom - 1980 called they want your cell phone back!!!

My favourites!

Jules famous Snowball cake.

me.
No one took my photo on Christmas - but I promise, I was there. :)

Happy Boxing Day - I am sending lots of love your way.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Christmas Eve Eve

The stockings are hung... 

T minus 2 days. BAH!!! I am getting excited!! Are you??? 

Wrapping done - check
Shopping done - check
Food shopping done - check (thanks to my mom!!!!!! - Mom you're the best)
Dinner menu planned - check
Fudge delivered - check

Wow - that is a lot of stuff checked off. Well - in my eyes anyways.

Tomorrow is going to be a lazy day. We are going to take all of our food that was donated at our party to the Mustard Seed. Do a nice long dog walk with a Starbucks in hand. We have my sister's pup here for Christmas, Hattrick, so extra long dog walks are the plan. Then I am going to try and prep everything for Christmas dinner and for tomorrow night's dinner.

On the menu tomorrow for Christmas eve:
Caramelized onion and goat cheese tarts
White bean soup
Coconut chicken skewers

Tomorrow I am going to do the stuffing, get all of the vegetables prepped, breakfast made for Christmas day and a zillion other things that will definitely keep me busy. 

I am borrowing this recipe for Christmas morning. I am really excited to give it a try. Mostly b/c it can be done the night before. Just put it in the oven and then prezzies can be opened and Purdy's chocolate can be eaten. Oh wait - I probably should wait until after breakfast for that. I hope that I can sleep tonight - so excited for Christmas!!!!


Well my friends - happy Christmas Eve Eve. 

Loves.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas memories.

I can still remember our lovely pup visiting Santa for the first time. Oh how we miss her around this time of the year. She loved Christmas. And you may think - buh, she's a dog she didn't know it was Christmas - but she so did. She got so excited when the tree came in the house, when presents were being opened and all the visitors stopping by.


Picture 1: Not happy - but she is humouring us.

Picture 2: Moving away - hoping that Santa doesn't notice but that we do b/c she wants to get the 'heck' out of there.

Picture 3: Death stare. 

These pics made my day when I came across them today. I hope that you all get some great shots over the holidays that will make lasting memories - and I hope that you find some old favourites.

Loves.

Enjoy!



Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh fudge!

Countdown is on. T minus 4 days. My mom is so sweet - she has offered to help - but really unless she wants to get herself a few more gifts, a few more stocking stuffers, shop for all of the food that I need and give the house a quick tidy - I'm good. :) We are having Jules sleep over on Christmas Eve - so I need to have the house Jules worthy. Actually she is probably the easiest house guest ever. 

Tonight I made a batch of my favourite fudge. This is a recipe that I got from a family friend, Cindy, many many years ago. This is serious one of the easiest treats to make, and one of the most decadent treats. I have tried to keep it a secret for so long - but can't any longer. I made a big bunch to give as little gifts to some good friends. 

Tiger Fudge

4 cups of white chocolate wafers or discs (little chocolate morsels - I buy them in the bulk 
1 cup of peanut butter
1/4 cup milk chocolate wafers or discs

Melt the white chocolate and the peanut butter in a large metal bowl placed on top of a pot of boiling water - make it like a double boiler. Stir continuously ensuring that it all melts together. 


In a 9x12 baking pan, line the pan with waxed paper. Pour the melted chocolatey/peanut butter goodness in. Using the same process as above, melt the milk chocolate. With a spoon, place spoonfuls of the chocolate on top of the chocolate and peanut butter. With the pointy end of a skewer, swirl the chocolate all together - it makes a beautiful design. So gorgeous.


Place the pan in the fridge and let it sit. I usually like to let it chill for at least an hour. Remove it from the fridge and let it sit for a couple of minutes before cutting. I like to cut 5 strips from the wide side and then cut each strip in half. 

And that's it. You have a delicious treat for yourself or for friends. 


I hope that Christmas is all coming together for you all.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chill with Chili

You know before today - I felt like I was really on track with all of the holiday shopping, cooking, wrapping, stuffing stockings, etc. And now - as I sit here after a pretty busy day - I realized 'OH CRAP!!!' - I am SO NOT ready. I am trying to plan my schedule over this week and realize that it's going to be an action packed week - full of taking back a few things back, full on grocery shop with a quick sprint to the Root Cellar and finishing my shopping. I don't want to stress - it will all be done - I just want to enjoy it all.

Yesterday's memorial was really nice. It wasn't any sort of a church service, they are doing that in Kitimat within the next couple of days. It was more of a reception, where lots of friends and family gathered and told great stories of a wonderful man. I couldn't hold it together. I cried pretty much the entire time. I cried when talking to Jocelyn and her sister, every time. At one point I had to remind Jocelyn that I should be consoling her - I just was so saddened by it all. Knowing that they were going to really struggle with missing him not being in their lives on a daily basis, worrying about their grandpa, and having to take care of things that they are far too young to have to do. I wish them all the best - and they know that I will be there for them - always.

My emotions have been on 'high alert' the last couple of days. If I hear a story about communities coming together to raise thousands of dollars and having truckloads of food donated for families that need the support at this time of the year - I cry. If I hear a siren - I cry. If I think of my sister and nephews being away - I cry. Do you see the trend. Oh my. 'Nuff about that.

I cooked tonight - 'bout time. I felt like a good hearty meal - so had it planned before I left the house this morning. Chicken Chili. It was a perfect meal for a raining evening and there are leftovers for dinner tomorrow night. TF. :)


Chicken Chili

1 medium sized onion - chopped
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts - chopped into small pieces
3 cloves of garlic - minced
1 red pepper - chopped
2 green peppers - chopped
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 can of kidney beans - rinsed and drained
1 can of black beans - rinsed and drained
2 cans of Heinz beans in tomato sauce
2 large cans of diced tomatoes - drained
Lots of chili powder

In a large pot, saute onion in olive oil. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add chicken and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add garlic and the vegetables. Add a couple of tablespoons of chili powder - stir and let all of the flavours meld for another couple of minutes. Add in all of the beans and tomatoes and more chili powder - depending on how spicy you like it - cover and let cook for about 30-45 minutes. Stir often.

And that's it. It's delicious. I topped with a sprinkle of cheddar and let it all melt in.

Alrighty oh - that's it for me tonight.

Loves. 

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sa Ta DAY

Happy Saturday friends. Happy last Saturday before Christmas. Happy Christmas season.

Today will be a sad day, I am attending the memorial for my friend's dad. My mom is coming with me, which will be much easier. He was always fond of my mom and always asked how she was.  I am going to make the most of today - that's how everyone would want it to be.

I was up early after today - dropping the kids off at the groomers or as I like to refer to it as - the Beauty Parlor. It just sounds nicer and I am sure that Magnum and Jozie appreciate it. NOT. Oh were they not happy when I brought them there. Poor Magnum was trying to climb my legs and Jozie was trying to do her special dance (that she likes to do for a treat) - thinking that if it was up to 'So You Think You Can Dance' quality that I would take her with me. They should be home soon - nice and pretty, pretty smelling, and oh so relieved to see us.

I haven't been cooking - unless you consider bacon and egg sandwiches for dinner, cooking. It's been one of those weeks. I will be doing enough cooking right at Christmas - that will make up for it.

So... to compensate for my lack of cooking - I have a special treat - a recipe of Steph (aka my Assistant - what I like to pretend she is). She brought the dip to our party - and it was a huge hit! Steph loves cooking - she is very creative and is not afraid to experiment. Her partner has onion and garlic allergies, so she has to be creative to pack all of the flavours in. I would definitely give this one a try. It would be great to take to any party.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummous Steph Style

I can of chick peas
1-2 tbsp tahini
1-2 roasted red peppers (I buy them in a jar and they are in some liquid.  I usually pour a bit of the liquid in too.  You can roast your own red peppers if you like).
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
Jalapeno to taste
Salt and pepper to taste.  Or just salt.
Add everything into a blender or food processor and pulse until everything is smooth.
 
Stephanie also said:  I change it each time.  It’s fun to play around with different amounts of each ingredient.  Since you don’t have to feed Stasia, I would also recommend trying it with roasted garlic.
 
Thanks Steph!!!

I did make breakfast this morning. Nothing fancy - but nice and hearty to start the day off.

Morning Sausage and Egg'ers

Notice the SB's in the background - Non-fat, half-sweet, Single espresso shot, Caramel Brule Latte - yumma!!!!

I use one egg and two sausages per english muffin. 

Sausages - I used Johnsonville Maple Syrup sausages
Poached eggs 
English muffins - toasted
Cheese - very thinly sliced

For the sausages, pre-heat the oven to 400. On an aluminum lined baking sheet, place a cooling rack that can go in the oven. Put the sausages on the rack and bake for about 20 minutes. Rotate half way through. This is such a great alternative to frying. Easy - easy to clean. When they are done, slice them lengthwise in half.

For the poached eggs - these are Chris' specialty. Boil water in a pot or a cast iron frying pan. Break eggs into a bowl - then add the eggs into the boiling water and boil for two minutes "exactly". Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the boiling water. So good!!!

Toast the english muffins. Once the sausages are done cooking - set the oven to broil. On a lined baking sheet (just in case the cheese melts everywhere - I'm all about the easy clean up), build the sandwiches. English muffin, egg, sausages and cheese. Leave the one half of the english muffin out - so that the cheese on top is being broiled and melts with deliciously.

And that's it - a breakfast for champions. We're all champions - so it was worth it.

Alrighty - that's it for me today. Over and out. Enjoy the Christmas season - take minutes to enjoy it all. It only happens once a year!

Loves.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Minutes.

You know, I have been having one of those days today where I have been really thinking of the people that I just feel 'out of touch' with and beating myself up for not being good at keeping in touch. Thinking about how life is too short sometimes so it's important to seize the moment - eat chocolate, eat baked brie, run with scissors, sleep in until noon if you want to - and something in me must have known that I was thinking this way for a reason.

I was wanting to talk about my party - I hope that the hype isn't gone (it was a great one), and I wanted to talk about taking minutes, just minutes to say 'hello' to someone you haven't seen or talked to in a long time - and then I just got a phone call - so I will be cutting it short tonight.

My girl friend, a very close friend, my University roommate, a good friend who helped me get through a lot of hard times and good times - just called to say that her dad passed away very suddenly.  I am in shock as I write this - missing her, missing him, and feeling oh so devastated and heart broken for her and her family's loss. I know what it is like to lose a parent. I know what it is like to lose a parent around Christmas - and although it doesn't take away from one who has lost someone at any time of the year - it is sad - b/c traditions will be different, and memories will always come back at that time of the year.

I am thinking of her and sending thoughts and hope that they will stick together as a family to support one another which I know that they will do, and that they will lean on those that want to be leaned on.

Loves.

C.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Decisions, decisions...


After a busy day of working, dentist, Root Cellar, Dog Walk and prepping Chris' family's gifts - I've decided to sit on my Royal Canadian and enjoy the rest of the evening - thinking of what I should be doing instead of doing it. That's my decision and to be honest, I feel that it is a good one. I also decided that tomorrow after work will be left for decorating the Christmas tree, marinating chicken wings, shopping for something new to wear to our party and probably eating chocolate. Hello Chocolate, I love you.

I have decided what will be on the menu for Friday night. I might be a bit crazy - but I think that Chris and I can pull it off. 

Chili, Clam Chowder, Mini burgers (I prefer to not call them Sliders, I don't know why), Chicken Wings, Caramelized onion and goat cheese tarts, baked brie, turkey and cranberry wraps, meat and cheese, veggies and dip, and my mom's baking. I think that it's gong to be good.

Ok - I'm over and out. I need to go and find some comfy clothes, and a good tv show to watch.

Oh weekend, hurry up - we're all needing you to be good to us.

Loves,

Enjoy! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kitchen sink cookin'.


It is one of those 'everything but the kitchen sink' kind of dinners. Now listen, the dinner that I am about to show you isn't glamorous, isn't gourmet, isn't something that I would cook if Mark Wahlberg came for dinner - but it was tasty, it was hearty and it was easy.

I think that I have always been able to cook with what I have on hand. I am not sure how it developed - probably when I was in University and didn't have any cash to pick up something for dinner so had to use what was in the fridge and cupboards. I love it when Chris says, 'there's nothing to eat' and I can pull of a big dinner.

I kind of would love to be on that show that was on years ago (I can't remember what it was called) but each chef and contestant were given 10 ingredients and had to make a 3 course meal out of it. I want that challenge. Who wants to challenge me???? Seriously - tell me 5-10 ingredients in your cupboard and I will try and make up a recipe for you. DO IT!!!!

Ok, enough about me. Let's get back to the kitchen sink style dinner. I am in need of a big grocery shop - but am putting it off until the end of the week for the party for Friday. 

These were my ingredients - the recipe will follow:
- one onion
- ground chicken
- 2 small butternut squashes
- 1 red pepper - chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 zucchini - chopped into small pieces
- 2 tbsp cream cheese
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1 pack of butternut squash ravioli
- 1 single serving of spinach ravioli
- 1 bag of spinach
- any sort of seasoning that you like

Seriously - that's what was on hand - even the cream cheese.

Before our dog walk, I cut the squashes in half, scooped out the seeds, and cooked cut side down on an foil lined baking sheet in a 350 - and cooked for about 35 minutes.

In a large skillet I sauteed the onion for about 8 minutes and then added the ground chicken. I then added the zucchini and pepper and any seasonings in and continued to saute.  Meanwhile, boil the pasta until it is el dente. Just before it is fully cooked, add the spinach - it will cook in less than a minute. Drain the pasta and rinse the pot. I used the same pot, to cut down on dishes. Love that.

In the large pot, scoop out the butternut squash and add the cream cheese. Add the stock - stir to try and cream the squash and melt the cream cheese. Then add the meat and vegetable mixture to the squash. And then add the pasta - mix all together and dinner is done. 

Remember, I said that this wasn't glamorous but good. I think that it's really great to try and make things that you like - that you have on hand - and experiment. 

I am starting to get excited for our party this weekend. I have a ton of stuff to do before Friday night. There is a ton of shopping to do, a Christmas tree to find and decorate, plan a menu, tidy the house, make a wreath for the front door, do Christmas cards, and I know so much more. Sigh. 

Tonight, I will watch the finale of the Biggest Loser and do my Christmas cards. I hope that I actually mail them this year. 

I hope that you had a great day. 

Loves, 

Enjoy!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Do Shepherds really eat pie?


Shepherds Pie. Do you like it? What is your recipe? I grew up with the traditional - ground meat, shredded carrots and mashed potatoes. I loved it. My mom made a mean shepherds pie. It was always a good hearty dinner and warmed me up.

Tonight I did a take on shepherds pie and it turned out well. I had help from my sous chef - Christoff. He is off this week, so he had time today to help prep a bit. It makes a huge difference to come home and only have to do half of the dinner prep. 

I bought the biggest sweet potato at the Root Cellar a couple of weeks ago and have been storing it safely in my 'root cellar'.  I think that it was a 1.5 lbs - after chopped and boiled it worked out to be about 5 cups. After 'sous chef' Chris boiled it, he stored them in the fridge until they were ready to be part of the main event. When I got home, I started on part 2.

Sims Style Shepherds Pie

1.5 lbs sweet potato - @ 5 cups - boiled and chopped
1 onion
2 lbs of ground chicken 
1 large carrot - shredded
1 cup corn
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tbsp flour
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 
Milk and butter

In a large skillet, saute the onion in olive oil. Saute for about 8 minutes and then add the ground chicken. Continue to cook until the meat is fully cooked. In a bowl add the chicken stock (or hot water if you don't have stock on hand) and the flour. Whisk vigorously to avoid any lumps. Add kosher salt and pepper. Add the flour/stock to the ground meat. It will form almost like a gravy consistency. Add the carrots and corn - simmer on very low for a couple of minutes. 

Since the potatoes were cooked earlier in the day, I heated 1 cup of skim milk in a pot - over low heat - and then added the potatoes to the milk. I added 2 tbsp of butter and red pepper flakes. I let the potatoes heat with the milk, and stirred them to help mash them. Season with salt and pepper and more pepper flakes if you desire.

In a casserole dish - add the meat mixture and then top with the sweet potatoes. Bake in a 375 oven for 25 minutes. For the last 2 minutes, broil to crisp the top and make it golden.

Chris rated this a 14!! Not sure if he rated it that b/c he helped. :)

It's the countdown to our Annual Christmas Party. T minus 4 days. It's our annual party - I have actually been having this party before Chris and I ever met. I will get into more details this week - it's been a bit of a long day and I am ready for a long winter's sleep.


Christmas party pics - I did dance up a storm
It's Chris and I - under 'mardi gras' disguise. 

Hope you are all enjoying the beautiful winter. 

Loves.

Enjoy!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekends and family... make it all worth it.

December morning sunset 

December. Oh how I love thee. Oh how I love all the excitement you bring with you. 

Hi friends. I've been busy. The kind of busy that makes you really feel like you're running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. Gross!! What does that mean anyways??? Ok, let's just say - it's been a busy week. The busy week paid off - I had a fabulous weekend. Pure Bliss. 

See I had my brother and his two oldest wee'ins coming to visit this weekend. I was trying to get everything organized. I think that the visit was like what people do when the Queen is coming for a visit. And they all run out on to the streets and say stuff like 'THE QUEEN IS COMING! THE QUEEN IS COMING!!'. Alright - my brother is not the queen nor did I treat him like one - but I did want to ensure that everything was great for their visit. So... they came - we had a great visit - and they are now on their way  home. 

During the week, I did stuff like decorate the house, clean, shop, get the house 'visitor worthy', get ready for my staff Christmas party, work and walk the pups. Not sure what I cooked - I can't even really remember. I know that one night I went to Jules and brought chicken, sourdough bread, tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil to make toasties. And I think there was one night that we had a M&M dinner and one night that we had chicken sausage rolls from Art's Bakery. Hello - new favourite treat! 

My work Christmas party was fabulous!!! We had such a great time. It was a Mardi Gras theme. It was so much fun to hang out with co-workers in a relaxed and fun environment and not worry about 'behaving'. Just kidding. I did. I also danced A LOT. I also played a little Black Jack. And I also stayed out way past my bed time. Here are some pics of the evening - with me and some of my favourite friends.



I dislike this one of me - but needed to add one of my 'Assistant' - don't forget my Starbucks on Monday - you promised.

I was awakened early on Saturday morning to little feets running through the house. How great is it to have little ones running around? I loved it and wished that they lived closer so that I could have sleepovers with them all the time. I took my niece and nephew out for the day. We did a little shopping - I let them pick out their Christmas presents as they are going to be away for the holidays, and then we went for lunch. Before we went shopping I thought that it would be a good idea for them to pick something for a little girl and boy that they could donate. Just outside of Toys R Us there was a Santa's Helper table - so the kids were able to pick out which presents that they wanted to select - and then we headed in to the crazy toy store, on a mission to find pressies for a 5 year old girl and a 6 year old boy.

Now comes 'my emotions'. Surprised? During our little shop, I couldn't help but get emotional. I was choking back tears. Choking back a chunk of emotional stuff as my little nephew picked out what he would pick if it were for him, and selecting something for a little girl that my niece would love too. Dumb? I couldn't help it. I am not really sure what caused it, but it was there. I didn't fight it - I can't - it's the time of the year when my emotions get the best of me.

I have to warn you - this is an emotional month for me. Even though it will be 13 years ago this Boxing Day that my dad passed away, since he was ill for the entire month - there are a lot of triggers for me at this time of the year for me. 

Future K. Mitchell Presents?
Last night after a great day, after baking cupcakes with my niece - we all gathered at my house for a wok full of My-tie Stir fry - and then headed out to watch the Annual Christmas Truck Parade that passed near our house. It was sooooo cold - sooooo windy - but us ladies stuck it out and watched all the trucks pass by. I love it. Again - full on tear fest. Thankfully it was real dark, real windy - so no one would have noticed. What is up with that? 

So... it's been a good weekend. I am really tired tonight. I haven't been sleeping great over the past couple of nights - so tonight is going to be a good one. I am going to sleep like a rock. But before I do - I will watch the finale of the Amazing Race, eat one of our 'famous cupcakes', email my sister and nephews who would have successfully made it to Australia by now, and end this post with a recipe from last weekend.

After watching Bobby Flay's - Throwdown with Bobby Flay - and watching them do a recipe for Sloppy Joe's - I had to try them. I have never had Sloppy Joe's before - it wasn't something that we grew up on; however, since making them I will do them again.

Sloppy Joe's Sims Style

1 pound of ground chicken
1 small onion - chopped
3/4 of small tin of tomato paste
2 tbsp of ketchup
Fresh thyme - @ 1 tbsp (or use whatever you like - fresh or dried oregano would be nice)
Fresh bread or buns

In a large skillet, saute the onion in a little olive oil. Give a sprinkle of kosher salt. Saute for about 8 minutes. Add the ground chicken and continue to saute until the chicken is cooked. Depending on the fat, you may want to drain it. Add the tomato paste, the ketchup and thyme and stir it all in so that the tomato flavours coats all of the chicken. Let it simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes. When it is cooked and the flavours are where you want it to be, it is ready to be served. Serve it with a nice bun or over bread. 


It's a super easy dinner - great with a bunch of steamed vegetables or with a salad. 

Alright friends - I hope your December has started out the way you have wanted it to. 

Loves.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Boring....

Hi friends. It seems like tonight - 9:45 in the PM on this wild and windy Saturday night - that it is the first time that I have been able to sit and write. And... I don't have the energy to really write too much. I can say that I have had a very busy week, and tomorrow night (if I don't decorate a tree) I will sit and tell you all about the wonderful adventures.

I hope that you are all well - I have been homesick for my wee blog this week - stay tuned - I have some festive giveaways this month.

Loves, 
C.

Enjoy!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Farewell November. I'll miss you.

Treats from cuzzie Margo - they make my kitchen!!

'Twas the night before December 1st. 
The house is semi decorated, the lights are all a glow.
I've been drinking iced tea to quench my thirst. 
The candy jar is full of chocolate, I have been saying 'no, no,no'.

Oh my. Can you tell it's been a long day?
I ended up staying home from work today - I was so bagged last night, and I think that I was too tired to sleep - ever have that happen? Anyways - it was a treat to have a bit of a sleep in. I spent quite a bit of time with Jules today - she is doing better. Still lots of pain and still issues with the bandages - but she has an appt. with the doctor on Thursday - so hopefully he'll set things straight.

I spent a big chunk of the evening trying to decorate the house. I'm almost done - still lots to do before my brother and his kids come for the weekend. Stress! Oh god - Halloween costume sort of stress. It's going to be a great visit, I just want to make sure that everything is organized for when they are here. They always stay with my mom, so I am looking forward to having them stay with us.

I thought that I would share one of my favourite Christmas decorations. I found this little tree at SuperStore about 4 years ago - and wasn't sure what to do with it. I decided to put it in the kitchen, and decorate it with little balls and mini cookie cutters. Since it's in the kitchen - it seemed appropriate. So, it sits in the corner - and I love it! 

On Friday when Chris was looking through my new Cooking Light cooking magazine, he came across a recipe for roast and potatoes - and he was a little 'colicky' because I don't make roast for him. So, I promised that I would make him on Sunday. And that's what I did. I didn't follow a recipe - I had an idea of how I wanted to make it. I have to say, that although I don't eat red meat, I had tastes of it and it turned out to be deeelish!

Roast Beef Sims Style

2 - 1 3/4 pound Top Sirloin Roasts
4 cups of potatoes - I used fingerling potatoes - no peeling or chopping
2 bunches of small carrots - peeled and cut into halves lengthwise
Fresh thyme
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 400.

In a large roasting pan, add vegetables, and fresh thyme sprigs. Drizzle with olive oil - maybe 2 tbsp, kosher salt and pepper. With your hands, toss it all up and ensure that everything is coated. Add to the pre-heated oven and bake for 30 mins.

While the vegetables are cooking, you can prep your roasts. Pre-heat a cast iron skillet, or whatever type of skillet you like to use. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Pat the roasts with a paper towel to dry them off. Season one side of each roasts with kosher salt and pepper - place that side down in the skillet. Season each of the other sides just prior to putting that side down in the skillet. Don't forget each of the ends. Basically brown each side. By browning each side, this will ensure that all of the juices stay inside while they are cooking. This should only take about 10 minutes.

After the 30 minutes are up, place the roasts in the roasting pan with the vegetables. We cooked our roasts for about 45 minutes. During this time, we added 1/2 cup of water twice - at about 15 minutes each time. 

When the meat is as rare or well done that you like it, remove it from the pan, place on a plate and cover it with aluminum foil. Let all of the lovely juices sit inside before slicing it. 


To make the gravy - so super easy. Remove the potatoes and carrots from the roasting pan. Pour the meat juice into a small sauce pan. Heat at medium heat. In a measuring cup, add two tbsp of flour and about 1/2 cup of the juice from the meat. Whisk vigorously. Add this to the saucepan and whisk to prevent any sort of clumps. And that's it - so juicy, so delicious.

So, on this last night of November 2009 - I can't believe how time has gone by so fast. I just know that December is going to come and go so fast. Parties, presents, visiting with friends and family, lots of goodies, time off, and so much more. I hope that I can soak it all in and enjoy all of it. 

Good night.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Up Update.


Day 2 of Jules' recovery. Bless her heart - she is doing well. It was a bit of a long night - and a bit of an early morning - but I can't complain as I don't have 2 major wounds on my body that will take some time to heal. We had to head to Emergency this AM - and spent 'some' time there - her bandages were covered in blood and I was nervous about taking them off to replace them - so after a call to 811 (they are fabulous there) we headed to Emerg - and after a wait, her leg bandage was all cleaned up. 

I will be so happy once she heads back to the Surgeon for an appt to take off all the bandages and then have them changed on a daily basis. 

I know that my mom is loved (not just by me and my family) but all of her neighbours have been so fantastic - they have been dropping by bringing flowers, plants, cards and worrying about her. It's been nice for her, but also for me to see. It is reassuring for me to know that she has support nearby if needed. Her sister is visiting for a couple of days - which we will be a huge help.

Throughout the past couple of days, I have been doing what I like to do best - cook. Last night I made a couple of baked spaghettis. I wish that I had taken a picture. I love baked spaghetti. It's a super easy dish, and freezes nicely too. I made this at my mom's so I didn't have all of the spices that I normally did - but it turned out delicious. Try and envision it as I write up the recipe. This recipe made enough for 2 large casserole dishes.

Baked Spaghetti

Pre-heat the oven to 400

1 and a half boxes of whole wheat spaghetti - cook to el dente 
3 lbs of ground chicken
1 large onion - chopped
2 large peppers - chopped
1 small zucchini - chopped
2 cups of mushrooms - sliced
3 cloves of garlic - minced
2 (small) cans of diced tomatoes
2 large jars of spaghetti sauce - try and find flavours that you like - Healthy Choice makes some delicious brands
Grated cheese - enough to cover the top of the dishes 

In a large skillet saute the onion with a sprinkle of kosher salt (Jules has kosher - heyoh!). Saute until translucent - about 8 minutes. Add the ground chicken. Cook for about 10 minutes and then add all of the fresh vegetables and garlic. Continue to cook for about another 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and add any spices that you like. I added dried basil - it made the dish really fragrant. Then add one of the jars of tomato sauce. When the sauce is at the consistency and the taste that you like, the dish is almost ready. I like to add a pinch of sugar - it helps take some of the acidity of the tomatoes away. 

Use the other jar of spaghetti sauce (right from the jar) to cover the bottom of the casserole dishes. Then add the spaghetti to the dishes - evenly distributed to both dishes. Then top the spaghetti with the spaghetti sauce. Cover the spaghetti sauce with the shredded cheese. Then spray some cooking spray* on a piece of aluminum foil, and cover the dishes with the foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes. 

*Cooking spray - something that I never have in my kitchen - but one of those treat type of things that moms always have.

And that's it. It's a delicious dish - kids will love it.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the roast beef dinner that I made tonight - a quick trip home to make Chris his favourite feast that I never do.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Good end to a stressful day.

Jules update: All went well. She is recovering nicely in the hospital overnight, and is set to hopefully go home nice and early tomorrow morning. It was a bit of a long day waiting for news, but happy that it all went well. Thanks to everyone's well-wishes - it means a lot.

Shopping and dinner with the boys was fantastic. We had a great time. They got what they wanted (I hope) and we had a great dinner. Callum had a FULL rack of ribs - not sure how he downed them all, but he managed. 

And now for the best part of the night, Callum is having a sleep over. We should probably be in bed soon, but whatever, we're going to stay up as late as we can - watch tv that we shouldn't, eat so much chocolate and run around the house with scissors. JUST KIDDING!!! But we will have time.

To show how much fun we have been having (Chris included) I posted some pics (thanks to Tracy for showing me that I had this feature).





Loves.

Enjoy!

Our Jules.


What do you see wrong with this pic? Cooking Light - 3 magazine purchase this week!!! Yipes

Where oh where has my baby* been?
*=Me.

Ok, Wednesday night - I went to post my new Mushroom Soup recipe and corn bread muffins - and I couldn't connect to the world wide web. Last night - too busy hanging with my beau and going to bed at a time that school kids go to bed - 9:15. Whaddup with that?

And... what am I writing mid-morning for? Crazy!! Don't worry, I'm not at work slacking off. 

Today my mom, the lovely and so generous Jules, is going in to have a malignant melanoma removed off of her back. It's going to be not a very serious operation, in the sense that she will just have to spend the one night in the hospital, but the incision on her back and the recovery, I think, will be quite a bit for her to endure. I know that she will make it through, she is a strong woman - and she just needs to remember that.  The surgeon will test her lymph nodes and bones to see if anything has spread.

She was told that her surgery was for 8 AM this morning and that she needed to be there for 6. They failed to let her know that the actual surgery wasn't until 11:15 and that she didn't actually need to be there until 8:45. Neat. Thankfully there was a Starbucks nearby - so we took a nice walk - for some crisp fresh air and something to warm me up. Jules was wearing some black slip on, open-toed sandals with white socks. Oh. When I picked her up - I had to comment - who wouldn't?? So when we were walking - and trying to rush across the street - she was yelling 'don't run, my shoe will fall off and someone will drive over it'. I just about wet them - can you just see it?

Anyways - Chris and I will sit at home, try and keep busy (me more than him - his idea of keeping busy is watching 'Band of Brothers'), walk the pups - and wait until 3 when we can go and see her. I miss her. I don't like not being able to call her anytime of the day and talk about nonsense and expect her to listen. Must keep busy. Must interrupt Chris' movie and talk about anything.

Ok - let's move on to other things. Wednesday night - homemade mushroom soup. I love mushrooms - raw, sauteed, baked - you name it. And for some reason, when I am at the Root Cellar and I see packs of fresh button mushrooms and sliced mushrooms and they are 2 for $5 - I feel it necessary to buy 2 of each. Not sure why. Anyways - I did that this week and realized that it was quite a bit of mushrooms. So, soup it was. I also 'doctored' up a box of Organic Corn Bread muffins with shredded cheese and hot pepper flakes. 


Mushroom Soup Sims Style

1 large onion - thinly sliced
7 cups of mushrooms - either sliced, or button mushrooms that have been quartered
2 tbsp of flour
3 cloves of crushed garlic
5 cups of stock - I used low fat, low sodium chicken stock
Fresh thyme - around 2 tbsp
Sour cream for garnish

In a large pot, saute the sliced mushroom in olive oil with pinches of kosher salt. Saute for about 8 mins. Add mushrooms. Continue to saute over low-medium heat for another 15 minutes. Add garlic. Then add the flour and mix so that the flour is coating the mushrooms. Add in 2 cups of the stock and stir. It will slightly thicken. Then add the rest of the stock, and let it simmer for about another 30 minutes. Before you blend it all together, add the fresh thyme and some fresh cracked pepper. Then with a hand blender or a blender, blend the soup all together. Serve it warm with a dollop of sour cream on top. I am confident that you will love this.

For the corn bread muffins - I used a box of organic mix that I picked up at the Superstore. I added a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and crushed pepper flakes - how ever much you like. I used my big muffin tins - so instead of making 12 it made 6 large ones. And let me tell you, they were delicious. I think that you could definitely use the same measurements - 1 egg, 1 cup of water and 2 tbsp of vegetable oil with just regular corn meal to make the same recipe. That is definitely on my list to try. So good.

Well - that's it for me for now. I have plans this evening to take out C&C and spoil them and treat them to dinner - Moxie's - Callum's choice b/c 'they have chicken wings' - whatever he likes - it's their night.

Alright - please keep positive thoughts for my mom. 

Loves.

C.