Monday, November 29, 2010

Meal Plan Monday~ Nov 29

Happy Monday! The weekend just flew by, which is funny, considering we didn't do much. Now that November is coming to an end, I need to start thinking about Christmas. What to bake, what to serve for Christmas dinner, what gifts to make.... it's coming up quick.

Our menus for the next two weeks will not be too impressive. Our SUV decided to die out on us and a costly repair is in our near future. (Just found out that my camera is broken as well...sigh) So, my goal was to make my menu for the next two weeks, using mostly pantry and freezer items. I did buy fresh produce and such, but we will be depending on our well stocked freezer and pantry to help ease the burden of car repairs. I hate that this is happening so close to Christmas, but what can we do?? It could be much worse....


So here is our menu for this week.

  • Fish (homemade battered Cod) and Chips, with corn on the cob
  • Meat tortellini with Alfredo Sauce and a salad
  • Tuna Casserole with canned green beans (for the kids) and asparagus
  • Tacos, with chips and salsa
  • Pork Tenderloin with Smashed Cheddar Potatoes and broccoli with cheese sauce
  • Chicken Parm Soup (new recipe) with Italian Bread
  • Ricotta Pasta with Tomatoes Al Forno (new recipe), Butternut parmesan and bread sticks

Don't forget to head over to OrgJunkie.com, to check out other great meal plans, for the week.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Paprika Chicken Stew with Potato Pierogies

We love pierogies in this house. One thing we missed, living in the U.S. was pierogies. I remember about a year before moving home, we did find some, at a near by grocery store. I also remember when Mr.B was 3 and he swallowed a nickle. We took him to the ER and they asked if he was eating alright. I mentioned that he had pierogies for lunch and the doctor asked me where we were from. Turns out he was from NY and mentioned he knew we weren't original Tennesseans, since they don't know what pierogies are, LOL. So, I guess it's a northern U.S. and Canadian food.

While browsing my newly found Rachael Ray cookbooks, I stumbled upon this recipe. One of our favorites, mixed with another dish the kids love. SCORE!!

I've never really cooked with Cumin before. Well, except for what is in those taco and fajita packets, LOL. I really loved the pungent flavor, paired with the fresh lemon zest. It really took it to another level. Gave it a bit of pizazz. Everyone enjoyed it, though we all agreed that the stew definitely needs the pierogies, other wise the cumin is a tad overwhelming. But together, it mellows out, with the creamy potato filled pasta. I used half a pound of bacon and subbed extra chicken stock for the wine, otherwise I followed the recipe to a T. Hubby said I should make it again, so this one was a winner!


Paprika Chicken Stew with Potato Pierogies
Adapted from Rachael Ray Just in Time

1/2 pound (about half of a package) smoky, good-quality bacon, chopped into half-inch pieces
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided, plus some for coating the pierogies
3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, cut into chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large onions, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
2 rounded tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 tablespoons butter
24 potato pierogies (if unavailable, serve over buttered egg noodles)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chives, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring up to a boil for the pierogies.

Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 1 turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon. Add the bacon and cook until brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper, add to the pot with the bacon and brown all sides, about 5 minutes. Add onions, carrots and garlic, paprika, cumin, marjoram and bay leaves, and cook for about 4-5 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Make a well in the middle of the pan and add 2 tablespoons of EVOO. Add the flour to the EVOO and mix to form a paste.

Add the white wine, scraping up all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes, and cook for about 20 minutes until the stew has thickened.
While the stew is cooking, cook the pierogies according to the package directions. Drain and coat lightly with EVOO so they do not stick together. Heat a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and cook until butter turns slightly brown and gives off a nutty smell. Make sure not to burn the butter though! Add the cooked pierogies to the pan and cook until slightly browned on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Serve the stew in large bowls topped with a tablespoon or so of sour cream and some chopped chives with a sprinkle of lemon zest, rosemary and parsley. Place the pierogies on top of the stew and eat!


This recipe has been submitted to Iron Chef Cahllenge-Canned Tomatoes


Friday, November 26, 2010

Triple Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Shells

One thing you need, to fit in to this family, is a love for pasta and cheese. We just love it. I, myself, would be able to live on pasta and cheese, for the rest of my life. Hubby often says I'm a vegetarian, trying to fit into a meat eating family, LOL.

A few months ago, I had made a bacon and cheese stuffed shell recipe, but my Mom and Hubby had mentioned making it with a red sauce, rather than the rich cream sauce. So I decided to try it. I really think I prefer it with Marinara sauce and so did the kids. I think it's something about red sauce and them, they will not even look at white sauce....

These were a huge hit. Hubby, my nephew, the kids and I ate the whole pan. The salty bacon-y cheese, paired with the slightly sweet marinara...... manna from heaven.

Cook bacon until crisp. Combine ricotta, egg, parmesan, 1 C mozzarella, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano in a bowl. Add bacon and mix well. Stuff shells and place in a baking dish, top with pasta sauce and remaining mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees, for 45 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. (Full recipe to follow)


Triple Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Shells

1 large container ricotta (16oz)
1 egg
1 1/2 C shredded Mozzarella, divided
1/2 C Parmesan
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
half a box of large pasta shells
1 jar favorite pasta sauce
1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped fine

In a large pot of water, boil pasta shells until just al dente. Drain and cool. While pasta is cooking, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, until crisp. Remove from skillet, to a paper towel lined plate. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta with the egg, 1 C mozzarella, parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregan. Mix well. Add in crumbled bacon and combine thouroughly.

Stuff cooled shells with bacon/cheese mixture. Place in a 9x13 baking dish and cover with pasta sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and cover with foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, uncover, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes before serving and sprinkle with parsley.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage, or cabbage rolls as us Canadians like to call them, is one of my favorite meals. I hardly make it though, since Hubby hates cabbage and the smell of it cooking. Well, I was in quite a mood, a few weeks ago, and thought "the heck with him, he's hardly ever home for dinner, so why should I not make something I love?". Like I said, my mood was VERY lovely, LOL.

I remember helping my Mom and my sister make these, when I was a teen and after I moved out on my own. I knew how to make them, but I didn't want to offend Hubby's sensitive Chef's nose, so I refrained. I knew the kids would like them, since they love porcupine balls, which is basically what cabbage rolls are.

The cabbage gets all soft and sweet, in the tomato juice. The meat is tender, studded with bits of rice. I mean, what's not to love?? Ends up Hubby did have some, though the garbage can was the lucky recipient of the cabbage leaves...... Sigh


Boil a large pot of water. Turn off heat. Submerge 12 leaves from the cabbage for 5 minutes. Remove, drain and cool. Place 2 tablespoons meat mixture on each leaf and roll firmly, starting with the stem end, tucking in the sides, burrito style. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 2 hrs. (Full recipe to follow)


Cabbage Rolls

12 large cabbage leaves
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 large can tomato juice or V8 juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Cut core out of the head of cabbage.Boil a large pot of water. Turn off heat. Submerge entire head of cabbage into the hot water, for 2-3 minutes. This helps soften the leaves slightly and they will loosen from the cabbage more easily. Remove 12 leaves from the cabbage and return them to the pot of hot water for 5 minutes. Remove, drain and cool.

Combine ground meat, rice, salt and pepper. Place 2 tablespoons meat mixture on each leaf and roll firmly, starting with the stem end, tucking in the sides, burrito style. Place in a large baking dish. Pour tomato juice over rolls and cover with foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 2 hrs, until cabbage is very tender and beef is cooked through.

Crock pot method: Follow as above, placing into Crock pot, rather than baking dish. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.


This post linked to

Tuesdays at the Table

Hearth and Soul

Tasty Tuesday

Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

What's Cooking Wednesday

Crock Pot Wednesday

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meal Plan Monday~ Nov 22

Happy Monday! We had a great weeknd. The kids and I especially loved going to see the Santa Clause Parade here in Barrie, Saturday night. Just something more magical about night time parades..... I'm now officially in the Christmas mood!

I'm actually listnening to Christmas music, as I'm typing this, LOL.

Mr.B is enjoying his super long weekend and isn't due back to school until Wed. He has today off, since it's a Professional Activity day. Wednesday is Pajama Day and his bear hibernation party. We've signed up to bring treats for that day, so we need to figure out what to make. I have a few new recipes planned for this week, so we'll see how it goes. Here's our menu, in no particular order.


  • Pork chops with mustard crumb crust (new recipe), mashed potatoes and pepper squash
  • Shrimp alfredo with butternut parmesan
  • Paprika Chicken Stew with potato pierogies (new recipe)
  • Tilapia Parmesan with rice pilaf and steamed broccoli
  • Pork slouvaki, greek salad and asparagus with bacon and feta
  • Ricotta and goat cheese stuffed chicken breasts, parmesan noodles and stuffed zucchini(new recipe)
  • leftovers

Head on over to OrgJunkie.com, for tons of other great meal plans, for the week.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Interesting title isn't it?? It sure caught my attention, which I think is why Rachael Ray used it. I recently found my RR cookbooks, which had mysteriously disappeared, since we had moved in. Guess where I found them??

In the garage..... I have suspicions about Hubby putting them in there, though he denies whole heartedly that he did. Why else would all my other cookbooks be in boxes down stairs and those 4 be in the garage???? But I digress....

So, I found my beloved cook books and quickly skimmed through all my bookmarked pages. I glanced through this recipe and for some reason it stuck in my head. After waking up to snow, Friday morning, and playing in it all day; I wanted something hearty and comforting for dinner. What's better than Mac'n'Cheese? I knew the boys would like it, but with Queenie, it's hit or miss lately.

By itself, it's pretty plain and boring. Simply mac'n'cheese, with ground beef in it. The pickles and tomatoes really add a much needed layer of flavor. The crunch of the tangy pickle and the sweet tomato, make this dish more than just noodles with cheese sauce and beef. It really does make it taste, somewhat like a cheese burger. That Rachael.... she's a smart cookie sometimes.


Mac 'n' Cheese 'n' Burgers
Adapted from Just in Time by Rachael Ray

1 lb cavatappi pasta (Hollow corkscrew pasta) or 1 lb penne
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, once around the pan
1 lb ground sirloin
3 -4 tablespoons grated onions, and juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce ( Eyeball It)
black pepper
4 tablespoons butter, Cut Into Pieces
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped dill pickles, For Garnish (optional)
2 plum tomatoes, Seeded And Diced (optional)

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt liberally, add the pasta, and cook al dente.
While the pasta works, heat a nonstick skillet with the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into bite-size pieces. Add the grated onion and juice, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper to the skillet and combine.

While the meat browns, heat a saucepot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the butter and, when it melts, whisk in the flour. Cook it for a minute, then whisk in the stock and milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a bubble, then cook for a few minutes to thicken it up. Stir in the mustard, then add the cheese a few handfuls at a time, stirring in a figure-eight motion as it melts into the sauce. Adjust the salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta, then return it to the hot pasta pot along with the beef and cheese sauce. Stir to combine the mac 'n' cheese 'n' burger, adjust the seasoning, and serve in shallow bowls garnished with chopped pickles and tomatoes, if you like.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Oat Biscuits with Cheddar and Chives

I love biscuits! Well, bread of any type is my down fall. Don't take my carbs away, or I'll get super grumpy. I love finding new recipes, to try when I make soups or stew. Those kind of comfort food dishes always need some sort of bread, to dip in them.

Our local grocery store, puts out a food magazine with recipes that highlight their brand of ingredients. Ingredients are ingredients, so who cares if you don't use their brand, you can still make the recipe right? The latest issue has a lot of great recipes, that I've marked to try. This was one of them.

These are super hearty biscuits, yet fluffy, with a slight hint of onion. I did change them up a bit, by using 1/3C of whole wheat flour, for the white, using green onion, instead of chives and cutting down the cayenne to 1/8 tsp (so the kids could enjoy them too). I really like onion and cheese together, so I knew these would be a hit for Hubby and I. The kids however, I wasn't too sure about. Mr.B loved them, which surprised me, since he isn't a big fan of mysterious green things in his food, LOL. Queenie was having a bad day, that day ( I was ready to ship her off to boot camp....), so getting her to eat anything at dinner was a feat. This one will definitely be going into our soup and stew dipper rotation!


Oat Biscuits with Cheddar and Chives
Adapted from Sobey's Inspired Magazine

1 1/3C flour, plus more for dusting
2/3C Quick oats, plus a bit more for dusting biscuit tops
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs finely chopped chives
2/3C shredded Old Cheddar, loosely packed
1/4C cold unsalted butter, in small pieces
2/3C buttermilk, plus a bit more for brushing biscuit tops

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour, oats, salt, cayenne, sugar and baking powder in a bowl and mix well. Add chives and cheddar and toss until evenly distributed.

With two knives or cool fingertips, mix butter lightly until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and mix just until combined.

Turn mixture onto a floured surface and form into a disc 1/2in. thick. Brush with a bit of buttermilk and dust with oats. Cut into 8 wedges, tranfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until just golden.

This post linked to

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Smashed Cauliflower with Cheese

I saw Rachael Ray make this on her show, 30 minute meals, a few years ago. Always wanting to find ways for the kids to eat their veggies, I gave it a try. Mr.B who was 3 at the time, didn't care for it, but Hubby and I did. Since Mr.B wasn't fond of it, I didn't make it very often. Fast forward 2 yrs...... I make it again, thinking Mr.B's taste buds may have changed and Queenie had never tried it before, so I may have a chance. They didn't devour it, but they didn't make a fuss about eating it, which is a win in my books.

These are creamy and cheesy, but a bit stiff, after sitting a while. The recipe never really worked for me, since there would always be too much liquid left over and it would be more like soup, than smashed cauliflower. So I've started to reduce the liquid by half and then let it almost all evaporate, to have a mashed potato consistency. The nutmeg just adds a little hint of warmth, or like Rachael would say " A little hint of something, I don't know what it is, but I like it".


Smashed Cauliflower with Cheese
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray
Show: 30 Minute Meals
Episode: Leave The Carbs Behind

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup shredded white extra-sharp Vermont Cheddar

Place cauliflower in a medium shallow pot or pan. Add stock, cover and place pot over high heat. When liquid boils, reduce heat to simmer and cook covered 10 minutes. Remove cover, raise heat to medium high and allow the broth to reduce by half, 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and the cheeses and smash the cauliflower with a masher to the same consistency as desired for mashed potatoes. Season the cauliflower with black pepper, a pinch of salt and nutmeg.

This post linked to

Delicious Dishes

Tuesdays at the Table

Hearth and Soul

Tasty Tuesday

Tempt my Tummy Tuesday
What's on your Plate?

Show and Tell

Works for me Wednesday

Saturdays with Rachael Ray

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas Ornament Cupcakes

I was bored the other night and was browsing through some pictures my Mom downloaded onto our computer, last year. In them were pictures of cupcakes I had made, for Mr.B's Christmas party at school. I had totally forgotten about them. I remember how excited Mr.B was to be bringing "fancy cupcakes" to school. The teachers all complimented me on the great work I did and all joked that I should make treats, for all their celebrations. I sure hope they aren't expecting me to one up myself this year, LOL. I had a lot of fun creating these ornament cupcakes and mini snowflakes. So, I'm glad to be able to share them with you this year.


Christmas Ornament Cupcakes

1 C sugar
1/2 C butter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C milk
1 can of white frosting
12 yellow mini marshmallows
12 fancy cocktail toothpicks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with papers. In a medium bowl, cream sugar and butter. Beat the eggs in, 1 at a time, then add the vanilla. Combine the flour and baking soda and add to the creamed mixture. Mix well. Stir in the milk, until the batter is smooth. Pour into prepared muffin tins and bake for 20-30 minutes. The cake should spring back when slightly touched. Cool completely. Separate frosting in 3, to make red, green and leaving the remainder white. Frost cupcakes with red and green frosting and pipe designs with with frosting using a #2 round tip. Insert toothpick into marshmallow, up to the frills, then insert into top edge of the cupcake, creating the ornament hook.

For mini snowflakes: take any remaining batter and fill paper lined mini muffin tins. Tint any remaining icing slightly, with royal blue icing gel. Frost cupcakes and pipe snowflake patterns, onto blue frosting with a #2 round tip.

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Meal Plan Monday~ Nov 15


Happy Monday. I had a somewhat busy weekend, with meal planning and grocery shopping for 2 weeks and finally getting my somewhat ever growing pile of laundry, down to two loads. How long it'll stay like that is a different story, LOL.

The weather has been beautiful, so I was a little bummed to wake up to a chilly rainy day, on Sunday. I took advantage to relax (as much as one can doing laundry) and enjoyed snuggling up and watching movies with the kids. But it's back to reality and a busy week. I have a dentists appt today, to get a crown put on. Thursday we have student/teacher interviews and it's a long school week for Mr.B. A lot of good ole comfort food going on this week. I hope I can stick to the menu, even if we are busy little bees. Here's what's for eats, this week.

  • Chicken Tortellini Soup with Oatmeal Biscuits with Cheddar and Chives (new recipe)
  • Pate au Saumon (Salmon Pie) with sweet and spicy yam fries and broccoli
  • Saucy Mozzarella Patties with noodles and Twice Baked Butternut Squash (new recipe)
  • Roast Chicken with mashed potatoes and asparagus
  • Baked Shrimp Parmesan with Broccoli Cheese Rice
  • Bean and Cheese Enchiladas, and build your own nachos
  • leftovers

Don't forget to head over to OrgJunkie.com, for tons of other great meal plans for the week!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chicken Breasts with Lemon

When we lived in Houston, many years ago, Hubby's aunt (a librarian) gave us a huge box of cookbooks, that the library no longer needed. Back then I wasn't as enthusiastic about cooking, as I am now. I mean, Hubby worked most evenings, so I would eat alone. I had no problem eating cereal or ice cream for dinner, LOL.

Someties I wish I still could.... sigh

For the past few years, every once in a while, I remember the box (which is now in our basement) and decide to dig through it. This time, I grabbed an Italian cookbook, published by a local church in Houston. I love these kinds of cookbooks, because it's ordinary people food. Nothing fancy shmancy, just good ole homemade food. I chose this recipe, since I had all the ingredients and it seemed fairly quick to make.

I'm glad I did, since this was really good. The sauce smelled wonderful, as it was thickening on the stove. The chicken was super moist and juicy, with just a hint of lemon. The basil and thyme were just a slight taste in the back ground, to the tangy lemon. I served it with hot noodles, tossed with butter and a generous amount of black pepper. Well on my serving anyway, LOL. The pepper added a nice bite, so I recommend adding some to the sauce.


Chicken Breasts with Lemon
Adapted from Cucina Deliziosa (Charity Guild of St.Joseph, Houston, TX)

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
Dash of salt and pepper
Dash of paprika
3 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs flour
2 C skim milk
2 Tbs lemon juice
pinch of thyme
pinch of basil
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tsp lemon zest

Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat oil; cook chicken in oil about 2 minutes each side. Remove from pan and set aside. Add flour to pan drippings while stirring. Add milk, whisking to ensure no lumps and bring to a boil. Add lemon juice, thyme, basil, parsley and lemon zest. Arrange chicken in baking dish and pour sauce over all. Bake at 350 degrees, for about 20-30 minutes. Serves 4


This post linked to

Saturday's Party

Saturday Night Special

Potluck Saturday

Cookbook Sundays

Recipe Swap Sundays

Potluck Sundays

Pantry Recipe Swap

Culinary Smack Down-Nov 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles with Cinnamon Vanilla Yogurt

We carved 3 pumpkins, this year for Halloween and let Queenie decorate 2 smaller pumpkins, with silly body parts. Once Halloween was over, I roasted our pumpkins, so needless to say, we have quite a stash of pumpkin puree in the freezer.

I'm still trying to get the kids to eat food items that include pumpkin. Mr.B repeatedly asks for pumpkin pie, every Thanksgiving. Only to take a bite and say he doesn't care for it. I figured if I snuck it into waffles and added some chocolate, I might be successful.

Sneaky? Perhaps....

Clever? Definitely!

The kids really enjoyed these. I'm sure the chocolate had a big part in that, but hey, what's a bit of chocolate, when you're having a somewhat healthy waffle? I decided to mix some vanilla yogurt with cinnamon sugar, for our sauce; forgoing the usual honey or syrup. I have to say that as a whole, it was a really great breakfast. The waffles were slightly creamy on the inside and the pumpkin and spices paired wonderfully with the chocolate. (Is there anything that doesn't pair well with chocolate??) The yogurt added a tangy-ness that cut the sweetness a touch, so it wasn't overly sweet. I'm glad I found something made with pumpkin, that I won't have to eat, all by myself.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles

4 Tbs butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 C pumpkin puree
1 3/4C milk
1/4 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 Tbs flax meal
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C chocolate chips
1/2 C vanilla yogurt
1/2 tsp cinnamon sugar, plus some to sprinkle on top of waffles

Preheat waffle iron. Mix together the egg, pumpkin and sugar, adding the melted butter and mixing well. Add dry ingredients and milk. Whisk well, to ensure no lumps. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter from cup or pitcher onto center of hot waffle iron. Bake until steaming stops, about 5 minutes. Remove waffle carefully. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with cinnamon sugar. Top waffle with 1 Tbs of yogurt and sprinkle waffles with more cinnamon sugar and pumpkin seeds, if desired.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

One of the reasons I love Fall and Winter, is that I can make soup. I just love soup. I'm not sure why, but it makes me smile, just thinking of a nice steaming bowl of warm comforting soup.

Growing up, my Mom would make soup on a regular basis. My favorite was my Memere's Tomato Noodle Soup. Then there were others, I wasn't too fond of. Like corn soup...... basically creamed corn, cooked with rice and water.

Yeah, I know, LOL.

Mom would make that one every Friday, during lent. The alternative was split pea soup, which she made for her and my Dad. The corn soup won hands down, for sure :oP

Since moving out..... well OK; since marrying Hubby, my soup repertoire has evolved from canned soup, or Lipton's Chicken Soup packets, to homemade soups. I think I made my first from scratch soup 4 yrs ago. Before that, I'd either have soup while dinning out, or Hubby would whip something up. Now, I'm always on the lookout for any soup that looks and sounds good. I found this one on a Canadian Moms forum I frequent. I had never had Chicken Tortilla soup before, so I thought why not?

Let me tell you, I'm glad I gave this a try. It was wonderful. I loved the creamy broth and beans, paired with the spicy pieces of pepper and tomato, from the salsa. The only thing I didn't really care for, was the tortillas. They got pretty soggy and mushy in the soup, so next time I'll just save them for a garnish. Everyone thought it was pretty good, even though Hubby said it wasn't authentic Tortilla soup.

Sometimes cooking for a Chef is a pain in the.....


Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Submitted by Jenn

2 cans low fat cream of chicken soup
4 chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch cubes or chunks
1 can of black beans, rinsed
1 cup of salsa (extra chunky or just chunky)
1 soup can of water
4 six inch tortillas cut into stripps
(I use 2 1/2 10 inch ones)
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
(I used 1 cup of the tex-mex cheese for an added kick instead of the cheddar)

Add the chicken, the two cans of soup, the water, the salsa and the beans, stir it up. Cook on low for 4-5hrs
The last 15 min of cooking add the tortilla strips and the cheese.
when it's done, garnish with more cheese if you want.


This post linked to

What's Cooking Wednesday

What's on your Plate?

Show and Tell

Works for me Wednesday

Recipes I Can't Wait to Try

Things I love Thursday

Ingredient Spotlight

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rice Pilaf

Rice Pilaf is a quick and easy, budget friendly side to any meal!

Hun... What's for Dinner?: Rice Pilaf- a quick and easy, budget friendly side to any meal!

I've been making this for years now. It's one of the few ways the kids will eat rice. I simply took a few techniques I saw on TV and put them together with ingredients I knew we would like. It was also one of the ways I could sneak cooked carrots, into Mr.B. This boy would eat raw carrots, celery and tomato, but refused to eat them cooked. To confuse me even more, he loves cook broccoli, but refuses to even try it raw.

The joys of trying to feed children.

It's not until recently that Mr.B has started eating more cooked vegetables and trying new foods. I'm glad of my little guy, trying to act so grown up, like Mommy and Daddy.

The rice isn't anything too fancy. It has great flavor, from the onion, butter and chicken stock. It also has a slight sweetness due to the carrots. The kids love it as is, while I sometimes like to add some green onion and soy sauce to my serving.

Hun... What's for Dinner?: Rice Pilaf- a quick and easy, budget friendly side to any meal!

Rice Pilaf

1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 lrg carrot, grated
2 Tbs butter
1C long grain white, or brown rice
1/2 Tbs dried parsley, or 1 Tbs fresh(chopped)
2 C chicken stock/broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a sauce pot, saute onion and carrot in butter until onion is translucent. Add rice and coat with butter, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 mins, until slightly golden. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer. Cook per manufacturers directions (usually 15-20 minutes for white rice), checking to make sure the stock does not get absorbed too quickly. Once rice is cooked add parsley, fluff with a fork, check for seasonings, adjusting to taste and serve.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Meal Plan Monday~ Nov 8


We had a really great weekend. Hubby had one of his rare weekends off, which I love so much. On Saturday, we decided to surprise the kids with a Harry Potter movie party, after dinner. We whipped up some HP inspired treats and watched a HP movie. The kids really enjoyed themselves and I think their favorite part was adding the final ingredient (pop rocks) to the polyjuice potion, and watch it pop and sizzle. Other fun snacks were cauldron cakes (chocolate lava cakes), pumpkin muffins, pretzel wands and popcorn with troll boogies.


But now it's Monday and time to get back to the grind stone. Not much going on this week, save the everyday chores. We are on the 2nd half of our groceries, so nothing too fancy this week. I will be making last week's cabbage rolls this week, since I didn't have time. So here's what's on the menu this week.


Head on over to OrgJunkie.com, for a bunch of other great meal plans, for the week.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Asparagus with Gremolata Butter

Gremolata is an Italian blend of garlic, parsley and lemon peel. It's traditionally sprinkled over osso buco. But why stop there?

Ever wonder who took a look at asparagus and thought, "hmmm, this would probably taste good". I mean, they do look a little weird, like extra tall Christmas trees, LOL. I never tried asparagus, until a year ago. As I mentioned in a previous post, I grew up in a very non adventurous household, when it came to food.

Plus, I was almost sure I wouldn't like them. I'm not a huge fan of many green veggies.

I was wrong! They're really tasty!

I choose this recipe because it uses ingredients I usually have on had. It's so simple, yet the flavors are phenomenal. I really love the tartness of the lemon and creaminess of the butter, with the aspsaragus. It gave the bitter asparugus a nice fresh flavor. This would be a super dish, during the summer months.


Asparagus with Gremolata Butter
Adapted from Bon Appetit~ Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook

2 lbs asparagus, trimmed
2 Tbs (1/4 stick) butter
2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped

Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water, until just crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water to cool quickly. Drain again.

Do Ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in paper towels, cover, and chill.
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Add lemon peel and garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add asparagus and toss to coat. Sprinkle lemon juice over. Saute until asparagus is heated through and coated with butter sauce, about 3 minutes. Season asparagus to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to platter. Sprinkle with parsley.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Down Home Apple Pie

I love apples. Crunchy, sweet and tart goodness. My favorites are MacIntosh apples, but I've never been known to turn down a good Golden Delicous or Granny Smith. The kids are partial to Macs, since they are softer, than other apples.

I love desserts made with apples. Crisps, crumbles, muffins, cakes, pies; I'll take them all.

I make apple pie often, but they either turn out too runny, or the spices are too prominent. I like cinnamon, but I'd also like to taste the tartness of the apple as well. This recipe is perfect. I doctored up my Mom's recipe and have found my go to recipe, for the rest of my days. Tastes like Mom's, but with an extra bit of goodness.

Oh! Guess what? I also made my first batch of pie crust, that I did not want to heave out the window. I used my Mom's recipe for that as well and it rolled out perfectly for me. So proud of myself, LOL.


Down Home Apple Pie

8 apples, peeled and thinly sliced (I I like using MacIntosh)
1/2 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
3 Tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbs lemon juice
4 pats of butter

dough for 2 pie crusts (recipe below)
2 Tbs milk
1 Tbs sugar

In a large bowl combine apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Pour into a bottom crust and dot with butter. Place top crust and brush with milk and sprinkle with 1 Tbs sugar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. If edges begin to brown too quickly, cover with strips of foil and continue baking.

Pie Crust

This makes enough for about 5 double crust pies

5 C flour
1 lb lard (such as Tenderflake)
3 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 C water
1 egg
1 Tbs vinegar

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in lard, until mixture has mostly pea size clumps. In a measuring up, crack egg, add vinegar and enough water to make a total of 1C liquid. Slightly beat egg and pour into flour mixture. Mix until all combine, but careful to not over mix. Separate dough into 10 same sized balls. Wrap balls in plastic wrap and place by 2s into Ziploc bags, to place in the freezer. Simply thaw to room temp, when ready to use.


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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Potato Bacon Cheddar Tart

Many years ago, when Hubby and I first got together, he introduced me to the Inn Chef. The Inn Chef, aka Michael Smith, is a really great Canadian Chef, on Food Network Canada. He is from the East coast, and started his FNC career at the Inn at Bay Fortune. Hubby was very intrigued by his cooking style and creativity. When we moved to the U.S., Michael Smith was forgotten. After moving back to Canada, last year, we were pleased to see that Chef Smith was still on FN and we've enjoyd his current show, Chef at Home.

It seems like I rarely get to watch adult TV lately. Once the kids are in bed, I'm so exhausted that after a quick browse on line, I'm ready for bed. So, the few times I get the opportunity to watch TV, during the day, I usually watch the Food Network. I saw this recipe by Chef Smith, months ago and it has stuck in my mind, since then. While thinking of a side dish, last week, I decided to finally try this tart.

I mean potatoes, bacon and cheese, who could resist, right?


I'm so glad I tried it! It was totally unbelievable! The potatoes were amazing, since they cook right in the bacon drippings. The cheese seeps through the cracks and gets all crisp and yummy. I only had 1/2 a pound of bacon, so it didn't turn out as pretty as it should have, but it was still super delicious. The kids also enjoyed it and Hubby had no problem polishing off any leftovers.

Which kind of made me sad, since I was really looking forward to having leftovers for lunch.

This will definitely become a regular side in this family.


Potato Bacon Cheddar Tart
Courtesy of : Michael Smith

5 baking potatoes, sliced one quarter inch thick
1 pound of thickly sliced bacon
1 pound of orange cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 6-inch non-stick fry pan with bacon slices, arranging them in a radial pattern and starting with one end of bacon in the centre of the pan and the other end draped over the edge. When the entire surface of the pan has been covered, sprinkle with pepper and add a layer of sliced potatoes to cover the bottom. Sprinkle with grated cheese and pepper and repeat layers until they are slightly above the top of the pan. Fold the bacon, one slice at a time up and over the potato mound toward the centre. Carefully overlap each slice and repeat until the top is completely and neatly covered with bacon. Press down and cover with a lid. Place tart on a baking sheet, which will catch any drips during cooking. Bake for 3 hours.

Cindy's notes: I sauteed some diced onion, until golden and sprinkled it on top of the potatoes, before sprinkling with cheese.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

In a perfect, world children would love every vegetable placed before them. In a perfect world, children would love healthy, nutritious food. Let's face it, the world is far from perfect, so I, along with many other parents struggle to get our kids to eat a wider variety of vegetables. Fruit have a better success rate, but those veggies, they get the short end of the stick.

I've been trying to broaden our vegetable repertoire, and it hasn't been very successful. I'd love for the kids to eat asparagus, cabbage, beets, squash; but these two are hard nuts to crack. One tiny bite and they refuse to ever touch them again. We offer them, anytime we have them, but they get shot down time and again.

I hope that by them seeing Hubby and I eating different veggies, they will want to try them and eventually start loving them. I didn't really like vegetable, until recently. I grew up on corn, carrots and peas. All canned at that, though Mom use to buy fresh carrots and celery. On special occasions we'd see some broccoli, peppers or cauliflower. It's not until recently, that my Dad has started eating some of the special occasion veggies, LOL.

I've been buying a lot of squash lately. It's a good source of potassium, which I need, now that I have my Ileostomy. So when someone asked for Butternut Squash recipes over at CFYF, I zeroed in on the discussion. This low fat and quite simple recipe, caught my eye. As I was making it, I got a wild hair and decided to add some clove. Well my little shake, turned into too much and the soup wasn't as appealing as it would have been without it. The kids both took one bite and were done, LOL. I managed to eat a big bowl of it, before deciding it was truly horrible with the clove. A pinch maybe, but I think I accidentally added about 1/2 a tsp. Hubby thought it was curry sauce and commented it would have been great with less clove and over rice and chicken.

So, I'm definitely going to make this again. Stickin' to the darn recipe this time, LOL.


Curried Butternut Squash Soup
2007 Ellie Krieger, All rights

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (2 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
2 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons plain low-fat yogurt, for garnish

Heat oil over medium heat in a 6-quart stockpot. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft but not brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the butternut squash, broth, curry powder and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat stir in honey and puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth. Season with salt, to taste.

Ladle into serving bowls and add a dollop of yogurt.


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Monday, November 1, 2010

Meal Plan Monday~ Nov 1

Wow, November already! It seems like this year is just flying by! We had a wonderful Halloween weekend, with pumpkin carving, watching Halloween shows on TV and snuggling with hot chocolate. It was much needed, as we woke to snow Sunday morning. I was not impressed, but glad that the sun finally came out, a few hours before dinner. The kids had a blast Trick-or-Treating and only made it around the block, before wanting to come home, LOL. Despite that, they came home with huge bags full of candy. I'm hoping to give some away, since we really don't need all that extra sugar and calories. Here are pics of the kids in their costumes. Mr.B was a goblin, with make up done by Hubby. He really did a wonderful job with the prosthetic ears and horns. Queenie decided on a ladybug costume, when the hopes of being a pumpkin were dashed.


This week should be a quiet one. Mr.B only has 2 days of school and DH is working all week. My nephew has moved back in with us, since he will be attending the college near by. So one more person to try recipes on, LOL. Our menu this week is nothing fancy. I wanted comforting and easy food, since I've been exhausted lately. So in no particular order.....


  • Cabbage rolls
  • Potatoes and carrots, sauteed with bacon and onion
  • Shrimp Scampi with a salad
  • Balsamic pork scallopine (from last week), with roasted asparagus
  • Pasta with white beans and tomatoes
  • Oven roast rosemary chicken and potatoes, butternut squash on the side
  • leftovers

Head on over to OrgJunkie.com, to check out tons of other great Meal Plans for the week!