Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oh Canada

Well, we're back from a quick and way too short, trip to Canada. I never realized how much I miss the food up there. I went crazy in the grocery store, filling up the cart with items I haven't seen in 6 yrs. Mind you most of it was junk food, but hey, LOL. I got my fill while there and brought a few things home, to enjoy for a few weeks. Here is a list of the things I miss most.

  1. Miracle Whip. You might think to yourself, well there is Miracle Whip in the U.S. Well there is, but it tastes nasty compared to Canadian Miracle Whip. Everyone says I'm crazy, but I know I'm not.
  2. Cheese Curds. These extra salty, cheezy curds of goodness are darned expensive now. Definately a treat.
  3. Vachon snack cakes. Oh I could have bought cases of these things. So many to choose from and hard not to eat just one.
  4. Ketchup Chips. Try it, you might like it.
  5. Cheetos Cheese Popcorn. The U.S. sells Cheetos products, so why not the cheese popcorn?
  6. Coffee Crisp and Crunchie chocolate bars. One with coffee cream in the center, the other sponge toffee covered in chocolate. What's not to love.
So that's my list. I told you it was mostly junk food. I'm a sucker for sugary goodness.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pantry dinner

Well, we are due to leave for vacation in beautiful Ontario, Canada, in 6 days. So I've been trying to make dinners using what I have on hand, so we use up our perishables before we leave. I found this recipe in the October issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. It was one of those under $10 meals, so that's a bonus. I always have these ingredients on hand, or close to it, so I decided to try Tuna and Tomato Pasta. Super easy to make, other than simmering the sauce, it pretty much makes itself. Once I had put the tuna in, I was a bit skeptical since the smell was, lets say, interesting, LOL. So we tried it and it was so delicious! Mr.B ate everything on his plate, which is short of a miracle these days. The sauce was rich and the butter added a bit of creaminess to it. The tuna taste was very subtle. We sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on it, which went great with it. I snuck in some finely chopped summer squash, since I only had 2 Tbs is parsley on hand. This is a very quick and low cost delicious meal.

Tuna and Tomato Pasta
adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray

2 Tbs EVOO
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 C chopped flat leaf parsley
1-28oz can crushed tomato
salt and pepper
4 Tbs butter
1-6oz can white tuna in oil, drained
1-1lb box medium pasta shells

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil, over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 2 Tbs of parsley and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Whisk in the butter and stir in the tuna.

Meanwhile in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain. Add the pasta to the tuna sauce and stir in 3/4 of the remaining parsley; season with salt and pepper. Top with remaining parsley.

Cindy's notes: I only used half and box of Rotini pasta. I also used a small 15 oz can of tomato sauce and only 2 Tbs parsley and butter.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fried Rice

On my Baby Center cooking board, we've decided to start a Meal of the Week, type game. One member posts a few recipes and we can choose to make all of them or just 1. This week there was a chicken and mushroom recipe and a fried rice recipe. We were out of mushrooms, so I'll try that recipe another time. I had all ingredients for the fried rice, so I gave it a whirl. It turned out really great. It actually tasted pretty close to something you'd find on the Chinese buffet. It's a really great base recipe and adding a protein to it, can turn it into a complete meal.

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Benihana Japanese Fried Rice

1 cup uncooked long grain converted or parboiled rice (not instant or quick white rice)
2 eggs, beaten1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons finely grated carrot
1/2 cup diced onion (1/2 small onion)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter2 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Cook the rice following instructions on the package. This should take about 20 minutes. Pour the rice into a large bowl to let it cool.

2. Scramble the eggs in a small pan over medium heat. Chop scrambled chunks of egg into small pea-sized bits with your spatula while cooking.

3. When the rice has cooled, add the peas, carrot, eggs and onion to the bowl. Carefully toss all of the ingredients together.

4. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over med/high heat.

5. When the butter has completely melted, dump the rice mixture into the pan and add the soy sauce plus a dash of salt and pepper. Cook the rice mixture for 6-8 minutes, stirring often.

Tidbits: This fried rice can be prepared ahead of time by cooking the rice, then adding the peas, carrot, onion, and scrambled egg plus half of the soy sauce. Keep this refrigerated until you are ready to fry in the butter. That's when you add the salt, pepper and remaining soy sauce.
Cindy's notes: I added some leftover chopped, pork loin chops to ours, to make it a complete meal. I also used Minute Rice, since I'm impatient. I added the beaten raw eggs at the end, since I hate big chunks of egg in my fried rice. Salad shrimp, chicken and pork would all be great additions.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Under the weather

Well, the kids and I have all caught colds. Today is the first day I've been feeling better. Nothing is better than a nice bowl of soup and homemade bread to chase those sniffles away. A few nights ago, I came up with a recipe for Potato and Corn soup. Of course soup without nice fresh bread is just not right, so I tried my girlfriend Christine's recipe for Amish White Bread. She posted it on our cooking board, on Baby Center and it got great reviews. I was a little hesitant, since I've only made bread using the bread machine, either to make the whole thing, or at least the dough. So I had no clue about proofing yeast and how long to knead the dough, etc. I decided to give it a try and other than the bread sticking to the pan ( my bad, I oiled, when I should have greased) it turned out wonderfully. The bread was fluffy and oh so delicious. It reminded me a lot of the homemade bread my Mom makes, so that's a bonus.

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Potato and Corn soup

6 med potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
1 C chicken stock or broth
1 can of cream corn
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp
salt and pepper

Peel potatoes. Take 4 of the potatoes and cube them. Place in a small pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Boil until fork tender. Once potatoes are cooked, drain and mash with butter and milk. Set aside. In a med soup pot, melt butter into olive oil, over med heat. Add onion and cook until onion is tender and looks clear. Add the remaining 2 potatoes that you have cubed, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the can of evaporated milk and chicken stock. Bring up to a simmer and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hr. Add mashed potatoes, corn and bacon. Whisk to incorporate potatoes and make soup smooth. Taste for seasonings and adjust to preference.

Amish White Bread
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans. (I use egg wash before baking)Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day dinner

Well, yesterday was Labor Day. Like that matters in the Restaurant world, so I was home alone with the kids. Since we are planning on returning to Canada in about a year and a half, we've yet to buy ourselves a grill, or barbecue, as the Canadian folk like to say. Any way since we don't have a grill, I decided to make the crock pot BBQ chicken recipe, I was lucky enough to discover on Baby Center's cooking board. I cooked up the chicken, shredded it and we had homemade BBQ Chicken Sammies, with jazzed up Bush's baked beans and deviled eggs. Mr.B really enjoyed dinner and hubby was glad to have leftovers when he returned home last night. The chicken is always so tender and flavorful, this is truly on of the best BBC cooking board finds.

Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken

3-4 chicken breasts (can be frozen)
2 C ketchup
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients (except chicken) in crock-pot. Add the chicken, coating each piece in sauce. Cook on high 4 hours. Remove chicken and shred/pull with forks. Return to pot and stir in sauce to coat. Serve on buns.

Cindy's notes: I add 1/2C of our favorite BBQ sauce to the slow cooker as well.

**Leftovers can be frozen and re-heated for sandwiches, or used to make BBQ chicken pizza (put on a pizza crust, top with favorite cheeses, onions, etc.) or used to make BBQ chicken burritos (put on tortillas, add re fried beans, cheeses, etc.)