Monday, August 31, 2009

If I had one person to cook for...

'Are you there God, it's me Margaret'. I remember the book - I didn't read it, but I remember my friends all reading those series and talking about them and wishing at the time that I liked to read. I was never much of a reader - my childhood friend, Shannon, can attest to that. I used to get the cliff note version of any of the books that we were reading in school - she loved to read - always had a book in hand. She never steered me in the wrong direction - thanks Shannon.  I do read now - more during the summer than in the winter - I find it easier to lay out on a lounger with a good book than laying on the couch. Not sure why - it's got to be some psychological thing - who knows.

My sister gave me a great book for my birthday - The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. I am about 3/4 of the way done, and I am really loving it. It has a great cast of characters that you get to meet individually and find out how they found their way to cooking classes taught by Lillian. 

Yesterday when I was fully into it, one of the characters was explaining his wife's love of cooking and how she was always thinking of food; what would be for lunch, then dinner, then the following breakfast. As I was reading this, I felt that I could completely relate. I love cooking - I rarely stress about what to make for dinner or am upset that I have to cook another meal. I love it. Don't get me wrong - there are days when I want to eat toast and dip it into hot chocolate (hello - one of the reasons why I gained so much weight in college) - but I know that Chris works hard and is so appreciative of being able to come home to a home-cooked meal at the end of a long day. For me, it's never a chore - I realized when thinking of this further, that I don't think 'what is dinner going to be' - but more 'I have tomatoes, sausage, fresh basil..what can I make with that?' I feel really blessed to have started to realize this - and this blog has definitely helped.

Last night as I laid in bed, I closed my eyes and pictured my dad sitting at the end of the patio table at the end of a family dinner. I wasn't thinking of him - so was happily surprised when he 'appeared out of the blue' in a blue t-shirt, blue jogging pants and a yellow jacket around his waist - he must have just rode his bike over - b/c that is something that he definitely would have worn on one of his treks. 

Instantly, I thought - would he like what I cooked for him? Would he turn his nose up and say 'Jesus Christ, goddammit almighty child' (please don't be offended - that was something my dad pretty much said all the time - in good and in bad times). My dad didn't like onion or garlic - he disliked tasting the flavours that lingered well after the meal was done. Growing up, my mom never cooked with onion or garlic - in fact only until my mom moved down here and made a great pasta casserole that had onions in it - did I really start cooking with them. The garlic - that was introduced to my repertoire years before. 

So... I just wonder - would he like everything? I think that the answer would be yes. I like to think that he would recognize my efforts and my love for wanting to create the perfect meal - and know that the onions and garlic would be well worth it. I so wish that I would have been able to cook him a turkey dinner, or bbq a flank steak that had marinated all day, or bake him an apple pie, or prepare him a stew with chicken or pork that was just as good as his beef stew. I wished that I had had the opportunity to cook more for him than I had, and I hope that there will come a day when we all sit down and feast on a feast that we have all dreamed of for so long.

Tonight, as I am writing this in the darkness of my backyard, feeling the cool summer evening, waiting for Chris to come home to a plate full of leftovers - I am writing to my dad - 'Are you there Dad, it's me Cherzies' (aka Almighty - of 'Jesus Christ, Goddammit, Almighty'). I'm sure that he is reading this as I write it, over my left shoulder. 

Is there anyone that you wish that you could cook for - and what would it be?

Love cooking for those who you cook for - it will always mean so much.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Please don't go, don't goooooooo!

Jozie - always wanting to help in the kitchen.

Beautiful. A beautiful day - full of cooking some of my summer favourites. I have been  holding off these dishes for some reason - but today I wanted to ensure that we were treated to them - and so I could try and take some lovely pictures.

Before I get into those - I just packed up the deck for the week - putting all the cushions away, putting all the lanterns under cover, making sure that everything is watered... I said to Chris, in the process 'Good bye weekend, good bye summer'. We're nearing the end of a lovely summer - I am starting to miss it already. But then I am gently reminded that Autumn or Fall will shortly follow. Fall is my favourite season - fall brings red and yellow leaves, pumpkins, gourds, pots of soup, heavy sweaters, long walks in the crisp and cold... I can go on and on. 

But here we are - still in summer. I started my day with a fast paced dog walk - the dogs were well behaved and Miss Joz almost kept up the entire time. Then off to my favourite - Root Cellar, where I stocked up on a bunch of fresh veggies and fruit for the week. I bought beautiful peppers, an eggplant, strawberry tomatoes, fresh brie cheese, lemons, Okanagan peaches, and a lot more goodies. 

Tonight's dinner included two dishes that I have been cooking each summer for the last 3-4 years. I am happy to share them with you and hope that you give them a try. They are easy and full of flavour.
My rosemary bush - I have plenty if you are needing some.

Rosemary vegetable stacks
1 medium sized eggplant - sliced into 1 inch rounds
1 medium sized zucchini - sliced on into 1 inch rounds on the diaganol
1 red, orange, yellow and green pepper - sliced in half
6 - 1/2 inch slices of soft mozzarella cheese
6 sprigs of rosemary

Heat the barbeque and place all of the vegetables on the grill - give them a tiny spritz of olive oil and grill until the eggplant and zucchini are cooked - but ensure that they are still slightly firm. After everything is off the grill, cut the peppers in half again or 3's depending on how large they are. With the eggplant at the bottom, start layering the vegetables. I usually do eggplant, pepper, zucchini and then a couple more peppers. Top each with a piece of mozzarella. Remove the rosemary leaves about half way down the sprig - or however high your stack is. Use the sprig like a skewer and poke it through the vegetables. Return it to the grill and let the cheese melt. 

The medley of vegetables and the rich cheese is delightful. You can make these in advance and just before you are ready to eat, return them to the grill or oven so that the cheese melts and makes everything all gooey and grand. 
We had pork chops tonight with homemade barbeque sauce. It turned out quite well. I usually just put everything in a bowl, but this time I wrote it down so that I don't forget. This is an easy sauce, nothing fancy - nothing like Beth's - which I still have to try. Check it out HERE

Sims Style BBQ Sauce
1/2 cup of ketchup
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce 
1 large clove of garlic minced
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of smoked paprika
2 tbsp of brown sugar

Mix all of the ingredients together. Ideally make this in advance so that the all of the flavours can meld before coating the meat.

For dessert we were decadent. One of my favourite summer desserts (along with my new discovery of the baked fruit - check it out here) -  I don't remember how the recipe came about - I am thankful for sweet Okanagan peaches.

Grilled peaches with toasted coconut
(this recipe is enough for 2- people)

2 large ripened peaches
1/2 tsp of honey per peach
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup of whipping cream
1/3 cup of mascarpone cheese (oh ya - YUM!)
Zest of half a lemon

Slice the peach in half and gently remove the pit. Add the 1/2 tsp of honey to each peach and gently spread it over the cut side of the peach. Place the peach skin side down and grill for about 10 minutes - on medium to low heat. After 10 minutes,  you can flip them and grill them cut side down. At the same time, add your coconut to a metal pan that can be placed on the grill. While you are cooking the coconut - toss it regularly to ensure that the coconut doesn't stick and burn. 

While your peaches are grilling, whip up your whipping cream adding your lemon zest. When the cream is whipped, add your mascarpone cheese and continue to beat the cream until it thickens. This should be done very quickly. The cream becomes relatively thick and has such a creamy texture - it's delightful.

When everything is ready - simply put your peaches on a plate, top with the cream and sprinkle the coconut. So simple and fresh.

Alright, the weekend is done - oh my how I wish that they would go on and on. Summer is coming to a halt, let's hope that it leaves us gradually.

I wish you all a full week - and that we don't have anything thrown at us that we can't handle. 

Bring it.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

So... what do you think? I am trying to switch it up a bit. Trying... The site that hosts the blog is limited as to what you can do - but I think that there are other ways to spruce it up, I'm just not sure how to quite yet. I'm working on it - it's a work in progress. I really like the white - I think that it's crisp and fresh - so hopefully I will be able to make it work.

I came home from work last night and Chris had made a great dinner. He is a really good cook - he doesn't cook often - but when he does it, it's a treat. He did everything on the barbeque - so I was really impressed.

On the menu:
Grilled pork tenderloin
Mashed potatoes 
Roasted carrots and broccoli
Roasted garlic and onions 
Grilled mushrooms

He used olive oil, kosher salt and pepper for everything - and that's it. 

Chris' Potatoes
For the potatoes (this is where I was most impressed) - he added new white potatoes, a whole clove of garlic and a whole onion to a cooking pan, added a light drizzle of olive oil and some kosh and pepp. He then added a bit of water and kept it on the grill for about 20 minutes. When everything was cooked, he placed it all in a pot and mashed it all together. They turned out so good!!!

I rated his dinner a 5!!  I can't wait to try the potatoes that way.

Today was a pretty low key day. At one point, I actually felt a little bored - and then I remembered that I was relaxing - and that I should not confuse that with boredom. Chris and I went out for a burger and then decided to check out computer chairs. We have had the same computer chair for 7+ years. And it's not a computer chair - it's a $20 fold up chair from Costco. So bad. Not comfortable at all. We found one - it's a nice chocolate brown leather - very comfortable, good support and it was on sale!

I raided Back Yard Barb's garden today. Well, I didn't raid it - she invited me to climb the fence and help her pick some goodies. She is growing too much for herself - and is always offering us treats. I brought home Walla Walla onions, carrots, yellow zucchini, field cucumbers and green beans. I get really excited knowing that the produce is fresh - I knew who grew it and how it was grown. 

I have quite a few new recipes that I am excited about trying out. I will let you know how they turn out. 

That's it for me - happy that there is still one full day without work.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Your thoughts?

I know that some find the whole 'safe needle exchange' an important program to consider having in our communities - and feel that initiating these programs will promote safe and healthy venues for drug users to maintain their habits. I - don't feel quite the same. I feel that yes, there needs to be something to attempt to have some sort of educational center to try to inform users of the risks of using unsafe needles - but I think that these centers have to be somewhere where the population isn't negatively impacted.

So today... we found out that we are more than likely going to be impacted by a needle exchange. VIHA is proposing that the street that our Kung Fu studio is on, is looking to be the new location for the needle exchange. I am really upset about this. I am upset about a couple of things: 1. that I had to read about this in the paper and that the businesses in this area weren't first informed; 2. that there isn't a venue for businesses in the area to voice their concerns; 3. that drug addicts who have made poor/unhealthy/selfish choices are having a place that they can go to on a street where tax payers, hard working people have to be effected by there presence; and 4. we have small children attending our studio and I surely don't want them in anyway to be exposed to any of this. Sigh. I apologize if you feel differently - thankfully we are all entitled to our own opinions. I feel that those that say they are in favour of these centers - will say that until they are deeply impacted by it - i.e., it turns up on their street.

To read more, click HERE. (please do - I encourage everyone to do so - I will be voicing my concerns as much as I can about this) 

On to a more happier note - cooking. Thought about today's dinner all day.

Tonight's dinner was really good. I'm super excited about it. I bought a couple of boneless skinless turkey breasts - scallopini style a week ago and I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with them.  I decided that I was going to make stuffing and stuff them - and that's what I did and they turned out deliciously. Although they seem a little complicated - they were super easy. This is something that I will definitely make again.

The turkey breasts came in a pack of 4 pieces. They were so thin, that I used two pieces together. They didn't need to be tenderized - the hard part was already done.

Stuffed turkey breasts Sims Style

8 very thin turkey breasts

3 cups of bread crumbs - I used leftover 100% whole wheat hot dog buns - I tore them into small bits - use whatever you have on hand
2 celery stalks - chopped into small pieces
1 small onion - sauteed
Poultry seasoning - maybe 2 tsps
2 tbsp of chicken stock
1 tbsp of melted butter
Kosher salt and pepper
And whatever you like to add to your stuffing. I would have liked to have added walnuts - but didn't have any. 

Mix all of the ingredients together. With your hands squeeze the bread so that it soaks up all of the stock and melted butter. 

Lay out the turkey breasts flat - in the center add about 1/2 cup of the stuffing. Tightly roll the turkey breasts to ensure the stuffing is tightly wrapped. With two toothpicks, use them to keep the meat together. 

In a pan - brown the turkey on each side - try to ensure that you do all of the sides as this will cut down the cooking time. Once they are all browned - transfer to a baking dish and bake in a 400 for about 15 minutes.

In the same pan, saute a large onion that has been sliced into thin pieces. Let the onion cook in the meat juices - let the onions brown and start to caramelize. Add about 1/2 cup of stock and 2 tbsp of butter and continue to stir. The sauce becomes so flavourful and thickens as it cooks.

When the turkey is done, remove the toothpicks, top with the onion sauce and serve with cranberry sauce. 

We really enjoyed this dish. Chris rated this a 4!!!!

Well - should head off to bed and get ready for tomorrow. Why? BECAUSE IT'S FRIDAY!!! Me likes Friday's.

Good night friends - best wishes for a lovely Friday.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Whoa Wednesday. Giddy up.

Well Miss Wednesday - thank you for being kind to all. It was a day to get things done, enjoy the summer fresh air, make some comfort food and take a little time to put the feet up and relax.

I mentioned being a little down yesterday - I am feeling better today. I feel really blessed to have people in my life that give me insight, are encouraging, listen and remind me that whatever I am going through there are always options and other ways to look at things. For me yesterday, there was another reminder that I want to be a mom. I struggle not only with the fact that I want to have a baby so badly, but also that I am so sensitive to any discussion surrounding it. I don't want to get into it - I just wish that I could have control of this, and that it would just happen. Things could be worse - but they aren't. They're good.

Alright - let's switch it up and talk about happy things. Food! FOOD!

Tonight's dinner was a healthy one - quick and super easy. From start to finish, it probably took 30 minutes - 10 minutes prep - 20 minutes to bake. If you wanted it to be even faster, you could avoid the baking part of it.

Baked Chicken and Pepper Quesadilla Wraps 

1 onion - chopped
4 boneless skinless breasts - cut in to thin strips
3 peppers - cut into thin strips and then halved
Taco seasoning - I have an all natural one that I got from the Gourmet Warehouse - I like to use it  over the taco seasoning that you can buy at the grocery store because it is full of sodium. I think that a good mix would be - chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika and a bit of kosh and pepper. 
Juice of half a lime
6 wraps - I used whole grain tortilla wraps with flax
1 to 1  1/2 cup of shredded cheese - how cheesy do you like it
1/2 cup of salsa

Pre-heat oven to 375. 
In your saute pan, add a small splash of olive oil and saute your onion until it is softened and translucent. Add chicken and top with your seasoning; add how much you like - if you like it spicy add lots. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add your peppers. Cook for another 7 minutes. Once your chicken is cooked and peppers are slightly softened, you're done. Add your chicken and peppers to the center of your tortillas - fold in the ends and wrap them tight. Place them in a row in a shallow baking dish - so they're all snug - top with salsa on all of the wraps and then top with the cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes - or until the cheese has melted. 

This is a great dish to make ahead. You can make ahead and freeze the dish. You can also freeze them individually and take them out for a quick lunch or dinner. 

I am still working out the ins and outs of my new idea. I am excited to share it.

Well that's it for me. The weekend is so close. We don't have anything planned at this point - and I'm pretty excited about that. Maybe we'll do a movie - it's been forever since I've seen one - any suggestions?

Ok - I'm off.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Whoa mama.

Just a quick post. My mind, body, spirit aren't in it too much right now. I just had one of those days. You know the kind.; start out golden, and then something happens that just changes it. Tomorrow is a new day.

I made a quick dinner tonight - I should have taken a pic, but I forgot. I didn't realize how green beans can make a plate look so lovely. Green beans fresh from Behind Yard Barb's garden - she is so generous.

For dinner tonight - I had a pack of ground chicken. I added a few spices, 2 tbsp of ketchup and made a small meatloaf - baked it for about 50 mins. I had some new white potatoes that I needed to do something with - so I made mashed potatoes. I didn't peel them, just cut them in quarters and let them boil. I mashed them with a little melted unsalted butter, added some roasted garlic and a bit of skim milk - they were delicious. For the sides, I sauteed the green beans in a bit of olive oil and a dash of kosher - they were very tasty. And then some cherry tomatoes from the vines - just put in a pan and baked along side the meatloaf for 20 mins. They were so sweet. 

I have been thinking about my cooking saga - and how I can do what I love. I have an idea that I am very, very excited about. After talking with my Aunt Babs, cousin Margo, Tracy and Chris, I am getting even more excited.  I will fill you in shortly - I still have some sorting that I need to do.

My mom just called to say that her Uncle had just passed away. It was my great Uncle Hedley. So very sad. It's always sad to hear of someone passing. My heart goes out to his children and grandchildren. He was a wonderful man with a great spirit and I am so blessed to have known him.

Alright that's it for me. I am waiting for Chris to come home - he will be a sight for sore eyes. (I hope that's a compliment) :)

Hump day tomorrow - enjoy it.



Sunday, August 23, 2009

Trying new things.

Wee Jozie hoping for goodies at dinner - we do not condone this behaviour. 

Just posting a quick note to tell you about the recipes that I have tried today - and yesterday.

Ratatouille. <pronounced: RaTaTwoWee>
I have never had this before and until this past week when I heard someone talk about it on a cooking show - I thought that Ratatouille was only a movie. I just checked online tonight to find the definition of this dish and this is a summary:

A traditional, French Provencal dish. Often served as a side dish but can be served on it's own. There are many different ways that it can be cooked - check here on Wikipedia for ideas. 

The show I was watching, all I heard the woman say was that she learned how to make the recipe from her Mother-in-law who was from Nice. Her method was using EZPOT. Eggplant, Zucchini, Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes. So with this in hand, I thought that I would give it a try.

Eggplant, Zucchini, Peppers, Onion and Tomatoes

C. Mitchell's version of Ratatouille 
5 cups of eggplant - chopped in to small(ish) cubes
2 cups of zucchini - chopped in to small(ish) cubes
3 large peppers - cut into thin strips and then halved
2 onions - thinly sliced
4-5 cups of tomatoes - (about 14 small tomatoes - campino are nice) - skinned*
4-5 cloves of garlic

In a large pot, drizzle olive oil. Over medium heat, add the eggplant. Cook for about 8 minutes, you will see the eggplant starting to soften. Add a couple of pinches of kosher salt. I added a bit more olive oil after a couple of minutes as the eggplant absorbed the olive oil.
Add zucchini. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring often.  Cook for about another 7 minutes.
Add peppers. Drizzle another bit of olive oil. Cook with the lid on for another 7-8 minutes.
Add onions and garlic. Continue to cook with the lid on - and add a couple small pinches of kosher salt and some cracked pepper.
Add tomatoes - remove lid and continue to cook for about another 8 minutes. Reduce heat and then let simmer. 
Serve in a shallow bowl on it's own.

*Skinned tomatoes: Cut a little X at the top of each tomatoes. Add to boiling water and boil for about 3 minutes. Remove from boiling water, let cool and gently peel the skin from the tomatoes.

I served it with Italian Turkey sausage that we did on the grill. 

I really loved the dish. I found that all the flavours melded together wonderfully and the it was easy to pick out the different flavours of all of the different vegetables. The sweetness of the onions really popped for me. Chris... didn't love the dish. He gave this dish a 2. 

For dessert I tried a new blueberry popsicle. I got the idea from a cold Strawberry soup recipe that I saw online. I tried making the soup with blueberries and then froze it. 

Blueberry Soup Popsicles
2 cups of blueberries
1 1/2 cup of water
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tbsp corn starch

In a food processor, blend the blueberries. I actually just used my hand blender, much easier and less cleaning.  The puree doesn't have to be pure liquid - it can have some chunks of berries. Pour the blueberry puree - into a pot - add sugar and water - mix and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes until it gently boils. Skim any foam that forms off of the top. In a small bowl add 2 tbsp of corn starch to tbsp of fresh squeezed orange juice - whisk together. Add to berries and continue to heat over medium heat until it thickens. Remove from heat and let sit until it cools off - and add to popsicle moulds. The blueberry soup turns into purple satin - it's gorgeous. I haven't tried them, but I think that they are going to be delicious.

Last night's dinner was roasted chicken with rosemary and garlic. It's an easy dish, that I will definitely make again.

Roasted Rosemary Chicken

2 chicken breasts - bone in 
2 tbsp fresh rosemary - chopped
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp of soften butter

Mix rosemary, garlic and butter together. Gently lift the skin on the chicken and with your fingers, spread the butter mixture over the breast, under the skin evenly. Give the chicken breasts a small pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Grill on a medium heated bbq for about 20 minutes, cooking the bone side down.

Let it rest for about 5 minutes and serve. The chicken is so moist and the rosemary flavour is divine. 

So, those are some recipes that I did up this weekend. I feel pretty rested after this weekend - so happy to start the week off feeling that I had a break. 

Monday be good to us - we can only handle what we can handle. Be kind.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sweet summer nights.

It's late, I am out on my deck, weathering the cool, summer evening, and loving it. I like to think of our deck in the summer as another room of our house. I spend a lot of time out here. Chris does in spurts - but not nearly as much as I do. 

Last night we had our Annual Adult Kung Fu student party. It was a great one. I always look forward to having it. I get to meet the new people and spend time with the people that we have known for years. We prepared a feast - pretty much the same menu that I did for the kids party. Relatively low maintenance, but lots of flavour. The fig and goat cheese pizza with pesto - is a huge hit. If anyone is wanting to do something easy but make it look like you were slaving away - you have to try it.

I spent a good chunk of the night in the kitchen. I wasn't as prepared as I normally am b/c I had to work during the day, but I found that people kept coming up individually to chat so I couldn't get down to where all the action was. I'm not complaining though - b/c it's always fun to have company in the kitchen.  Here is one pic of the night - Chris showing off his '1980 called they want their outfit back'. 

I got him a pair of Metallica Converse runners - so he was sporting them and had to bring out his leather jacket from many moons ago. 

I hadn't planned anything for dessert, and although Chris thought that was ok, it was stressing me out. I had a few peaches and nectarines in the fridge - so I had Chris run to the store and pick me up a few more and I made, seriously, the easiest dessert and it turned out delicious. So delicious, that I made it tonight and had both the Barbs over. 

Baked summer fruit Sims Style

4 large peaches - cut in half remove the pit, and then slice each half into slices and then slice those in half  
4 large nectarines - cut the same way
2 cups of blueberries
1/4 cup of sugar - or honey

Place all of the fruit into a baking dish. Sprinkle the sugar on top and gently stir. Place in a 375 oven and bake for 45 minutes. At about 30 minutes - give it a gentle stir so that the fruit is covered with all of the juices.

And that's it!!! Serve warm with ice cream or just have it by itself.

I love to cook - it's probably obvious - but for some reason today - more than normal - I really feel that I need to find something that I can do to enjoy my passion and make a career out of it. I am struggling - trying to think of ways that I can incorporate cooking into my career, make a living and LOVE what I am doing. I know that I don't want to have a restaurant - that is far to daunting for me - but maybe it's teaching cooking classes, or catering, or doing lunches for businesses - I just don't know. I need a sign. I think that deep down, it freaks me out beyond belief. I worry that teaching someone to cook something or cooking something for someone that they will say 'uh ya, that's easy, I already know how to do that'. I guess I just have to get over that. I admire those people that change their lives so that they can do what they LOVE. I want to be that person - I want to be proud of myself and admire myself for doing it. Run - what am I waiting for!!!!! Sigh.

Ok back to reality (what is reality though) - I take it back, I don't like that saying. Back to my day job...

I had a pretty lazy day today - quite a bit of clean up and just lazed around. It was marvelous. I almost don't want to go in right now - it's a lovely evening.  Here are a few pics of our outdoor space on this lovely evening. A little blurry, I have to work on that :)

I hope you have all enjoyed your weekend so far.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tomato love.

I have said before that I love tomatoes - but summer tomatoes are my fave. Summer tomatoes from my garden are at the very top of my fave list.  My tomatoes are coming along really well - they are still quite green - except for my yellow tomato plant - and they are looking lovely. 

I bought a package of tomatoes at the Root Cellar this weekend. They were wrapped - I guess they couldn't be sold separately b/c they were a little ripe. Anyways - I made a batch of homemade tomato sauce. I tried this a couple of years ago - didn't really know what I was doing, but had a bunch of tomatoes that I needed to do something with. I am not exaggerating when I say that this tomato sauce, is one of the most flavourable, freshest, tasty things that I have discovered. 

This summer I really want to try and can a bunch of it - I have never canned before and have always wanted to. So, that is something that I am going to give a try.

Tomato Sauce

8-10 ripe tomatoes - cut in half
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
4-5 cloves of garlic - roasted (see below)

Pre-heat oven to 300. In a baking dish - place tomatoes cut side up - in a single layer. Drizzle generously with good olive oil. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, for 2.5 - 3 hours. 

Before placing the tomatoes into the food processor, add your roasted garlic and give it a few pulses. Once the garlic is chopped, add the tomatoes. Puree until the tomatoes become nice and smooth. 

And that's it!!!!  You can add the sauce to a saucepan, heat it up - add any vegetables that you love, or just serve it as is.  Next time, I am going to grab a bunch of fresh oregano from 'Backyard Barb's' garden.

Tonight's dinner - tomato sauce with chicken breast, yellow and orange pepper and yellow summer squash.

Roasted garlic
Place garlic cloves in skins on a small amount of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and add a bit kosher salt. Wrap the garlic tightly - and bake in the oven. Typically 15 mins in a 375 oven. If you are doing it with the tomatoes, just cook it for a bit longer. Remove the garlic from the aluminum and just peel with the skin off - it pretty much slides out of the skin. You can squish it with side of a knife if you don't want to add it to a food processor. 

I hope that you can give this a try - it is divine.

Brother love.
Tomorrow we are taking Ogre to the Doc - his arm or shoulder hasn't healed. Think positive thoughts that it's something that can be healed quickly - and that the Vet doesn't pressure Chris to go for the $5000 vet visit. Yipes.

Ok friends - off to spend some time with Christoff.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cuteness alert.

I had the pleasure today, of finally meeting the 4 week old Bray Vizsla puppies. All puppies are cute - but meeting these guys when they are so young and all they want to do is sleep and cuddle - oh my. 

Heidi has named them all by the colours of the ribbon that they have around their necks. Yellow and Purple are the girls, and Blue, Green, Red and Black are the boys. I was fortunate to cuddle with Mr. Black the entire time. I picked him up and he cuddled into my boosum (not sure of the spelling, but I have always wanted to use that word in a sentence) - and he just happily stayed there. I am trying to remember how hard it was to puppy train Magnum* - and how much energy puppies have - so that I don't try and tempt myself into trying to talk Chris into another puppy. Heidi also brought her new puppy that is 11 weeks, Nila, and oh she is a doll too. H&M and have their hands full - and they are needing their Momma of the pups to get better soon - I hope she does and is home soon.

Sister love.

Mr. Black

All snuggled in together.

*Magnum decided to 'relieve' himself on the lounger today. Yes - the same lounger that he often makes a bed out of on hot summer days and nights. Whatever! I set the deck up for the first time in 2 weeks and that's what he does. Oh naughty boy.

I was a little similar to SuperWoman today - sans any super powers - but I went all day long. Up early, 5 loads of laundry - all except one hung out to dry, worked in the gardens and on the pots, shopped, dog walked, made dinner and a bunch of other stuff in between. 

During the day, I tried the Sweet Potato and Chickpea Fritters - they tasted really good, but I need to master them before I can take a pic and post the recipe. I need to not be so impatient when they are cooking - and add something to bind them together a bit more. I think a little flour added to the egg that I used will do the trick.

On our shopping trip yesterday, I found a great set of popsicle moulds. I mixed low fat french vanilla yogurt and blueberries (still addicted to them) and added them to the moulds - and they turned out really good. Chris loved them. One of my new magazines Joc got me has a recipe for Bellini popsicles - oh yes, I plan to make them soon.

Alright, that's it for me. I am nursing a sore cat. I think that Ogre may have a broken bone in his leg or paw. He is nursing it and not putting any weight on it - but is hobbling around pretty good and has a pretty big appetite. We were waiting to see what happens - so tomorrow is probably going to be a visit to the doc. Poor little guy. 

Ok - the new week is among us. August is almost over. Write your list of everything that you wanted to do this summer and didn't have a chance to - you still have time. I wanted to have my girlfriends party this summer - and I have not had a chance - so I am hoping that I can still make it happen.

Be good.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Oh to be 21 again.

I am at the end of a great day. It started nice and early with a Starbucks in hand, my love to my right and two dogs at my feet. Followed by a wonderful day with my friend Jocelyn. Then a nice dinner and a movie - What Happens in Vegas - and I am just about ready to hit the hay.

Joc and I went downtown together - had lunch at one of our old favourites - Garricks' Head Pub - 2 visit to Starbucks, and a bunch of great shops in between. I found a great pair of black shoes - with a tiny heel, some of my favourite Rosemary Mint soap and some fun popsicle moulds. They are in the freezer right now - I will share them tomorrow - when they are all good and ready. 

Although I don't see Jocelyn often - we always have a good time together when we do. I feel fortunate to have a good friend, one that is understanding when we lost touch for months, and one that I have such wonderful and lasting memories.  I seem to have a good memory and can remember so many things. We are happy that we lived through our 'crazy days' - and I think that Joc agrees - that we probably wouldn't have changed a thing.

Tonight's dinner was a quick and simple pasta - using what I had in the fridge. The Root Cellar is calling my name - tomorrow will be a much needed shop. I don't really have a recipe - I literally used what was in the fridge. That is what I love about cooking - don't worry about following a recipe, use what you have on hand.

I used:
1 smallish zucchini - cut in half, then quartered, then thinly sliced
3 tomatoes - chopped into small pieces
1/2 package of organic baby spinach
Olive oil
Chicken stock
Goat cheese 
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

To avoid too many dishes - I grilled the chicken on the grill (ok Chris did that part). After boiling the pasta, I drained it, and then used the same pot to cook up the veggies. I added a bit of olive oil, then added the veggies, garlic and basil, cooked them up added some stock, then the chicken, and added the chicken - gave it a good toss - and then added the goat cheese. It was a super good dinner, quick and super easy.

For lunch today we shared a clubhouse and a sweet potato and chickpea fritter - so I am going to see if I can make that tomorrow. It was delicious. 

The rest of the weekend - the one day that is left - will hopefully will be slow mo. We have a dog walk planned with our neighbour tomorrow, then hopefully a visit with the new puppies at Heidi's, then maybe a movie - G.I Joe - and then attempting the fritters.

I hope that you're all enjoying the weekend - embrace it - it goes by oh so fast.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rainy days.

Birthday flowers - nice to see on a dark raining day

Oh the rain. I secretly love it - but I want it to be summer. Summer - sitting on the deck, gardening, eating outside, doors and windows all open filling the house with glorious fresh air. The rain is good, good for our lovely earth, but lets wait until the fall when autumn is expecting it. 

I am writing a quick note - we are just about to start 'The Soloist'. I have made a big batch of popcorn (I'm just waiting on a visitor to leave :) ). 

Tonight's dinner was leftover homemade pizza that I made last night. Last night I picked up some multigrain pre-made pizza crusts (so good), a jar of pizza sauce, a jar of pesto, chicken, spinach, mozzarella and some italian sausage. I had mushrooms, green and red pepper, goat cheese and pine nuts. 

These pizzas are super easy and healthy. I didn't overload them with cheese. I did 4 different ones:
1. Pesto, spinach, chicken, goat cheese and pine nuts - layered in that order. 
2. Tomato sauce, spinach, chicken, mushrooms and mozza.
3. Tomato sauce, italian sausage, green/red pepper, mushrooms and mozza.
4. Mix of tomato sauce and pesto, spinach, fresh tomatoes, a little green and red pepper topped with a very small amount of mozza. 

Baked in a 425 oven for about 12 minutes - with the pizza shells directly on the rack.
I wish that I took pictures.   

It looks like she is half in the sand but she isn't - she doing some fancy dancing

*Guest is still here - that's 20 minutes. It was supposed to be a quick visit to pick up a disk. Sigh.

So... that's all for me. The weekend is calling us. We're coming little one - and let's enjoy every minute of it.



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oh how I've missed ye.

It's seems like forever since I've posted. I have to admit, and although it may sound weird, I have totally missed my blog. I have missed adding my recipes, missed divulging all of my secrets and although I know there are quite a few people that read and don't post comments (you should, it's fun) - I have missed feeling connected to you guys.  So... here we go. I have a bunch to post - my comings and going of this lovely thing that we call SUMMER. 

My birthday was lovely. Chris spoiled me with a lovely 'Trek' bike (which I haven't had a chance to ride yet). So spoiled. I am excited to start my fitness regime riding to work.

Our Family Kung Fu party was lovely. It was so much fun. We had 23 guests - and I think that everyone had a really great time. I love to entertain like that. I love everything from setting the tables, to putting the plates and napkins out, to doing the goody bags for the kids. My only regret - was that I didn't take nearly enough pictures that day. It was hot that day - oh thank goodness it didn't rain.

On the menu:
Mini turkey burgers with havarti cheese - I ordered mini hamburger buns from Art's Bakery on Burnside - they were so cute - and delicious.
Mini hot dogs 
Grilled pizzas - pesto, figs, goat cheese and pine nuts - tomato with basil - and 3 cheese
Main course
Chicken skewers - with plain yogurt, lemon and garlic
Sirloin skewers - marinated in orange juice and soya sauce and garlic
Greek orzo salad
Homemade cupcakes made by Rosalyn (a friend at work) - so fun!!!! And so delicious.

After our party - we went to a watch Unleash the Archers. Maybe not my style of music - but so much fun!

The following week, included a quick trip to East Sooke Park for a picnic and a little walk with the pups. And then off to Point Roberts.  Oh how I love Point Roberts.

My definition of Point Roberts is - pure relaxation. I typically say that there isn't really anything to do there - so R&R is what you are able to perfect on your visit. It's always a treat to spend time with my nephews - I just wish that I had a little more 1:1 time with them. Chris enjoyed himself too - he had lots of naps and enjoyed more than a few Henry Weinhard's. Yumma. 

We spent a day with my nephews and my sister at Playland. It's been so many years since I've been on any sort of rides. And we indulged on many. I was impressed that I didn't wet them.

My good friend Jocelyn with her daughter, Brenna,  joined us at the Point for the last weekend. It was such a nice visit with them. We figured it had been 10 years since they had been there. Jules did an appy get together for all of her neighbours - I did the food - Jocelyn helped so much. She also showed me how to make pizza on the grill - homemade pizza dough!!! I can't wait to share this recipe with you.

I made a lovely cobbler from scratch one night - my mom and I made the recipe up as we went and it turned out so well.

As I sit here in my living room - typing out my deepest darkests (well not really) I am feeling truly blessed and feel very fortunate. My thoughts are with a high school friend for the loss of her son, for my co-worker for a quick recovery from a bad accident and for Heidi and Michael for having to deal with a sick pup.

Drop me a line and tell me what you have been up to. What have you been cooking? I think that we're in need for a contest soon - I have some treats that I'd love to share.

Hope you're all well. 



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Oh Summer.

It's action packed. I am sitting in the very small Point Robert's library - felt like I needed a quick 'internet fix' - so I thought I would drop a very quick line. Before we came over on Monday - a last minute decision on what ferry to catch - we were super super busy.  My birthday came and went. Then it was a huge prep for 25 for dinner for the Kung Fu family party. It turned out to be a great day. I will post some pics and let you know what was on the menu. 

And now we are at Point Roberts. I'm not sure what it is about this place - but Chris describes it as Magical. And it really is. Once you cross that border - things are just different. Considering we're only 45 mins from Vancouver - it doesn't make sense that it should be so different but it is. Waking up at 9:30, eating breakfast at 10, walking on the beach is entertainment, swimming in the ocean, reading on the front lawn, eating chocolate bars that you can only get in America (hah), eating dinner at 8... I could go on and on, but I don't want to share all of it's secrets.

Callum and I are just about to head off. He has picked up his book and it looks like it's a good one. 

I am excited to post pics and new recipes when we return.

I hope you're all having a lovely summer. It's August - that means summer is almost over. Embrace it!!!! Run!!!!