Monday, December 3, 2012

Oatmeal Crispies

I am going to share my Grandma's recipe for oatmeal crispies.  This was a favourite childhood cookie for our whole family.  They have been shared with a lot of friends who enjoy eating them, maybe they'd like to make them as well and you might too!

For Christmas, I fancied it up a bit by adding a cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of Skor bits and omitted the nuts.

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Cream the shortening and sugars.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.  Combine the dry ingredients and then stir into the wet ingredients.  Fold in the chocolate and toffee (or the nuts).
Form into one inch balls and press onto parchment lined cookie sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Makes 5 dozen.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Puff Pastry Pinwheels

This is a no-fuss appetizer for Christmas parties.  Only 4 ingredients - store-bought sheets of puff pastry, slices of deli ham, grated cheddar cheese and a fancy mustard.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Unroll a thawed sheet of puff pastry, and slice it in half.

Spread a nice mustard, thinly on top.  I used a grainy mustard flavoured with whiskey, but use your favourite.

Lay 3 or 4 slices of ham on each section and spread a handful of grated cheese, mostly along the middle.

Roll up the pastry, make sure when you get to the end, that you tuck the filling in and press pastry to pastry so it will seal.  Then slice into about one inch pieces and bake on parchment paper for about 20 minutes until lightly browned.  In Canada, you can buy sheets of puff pastry from President's Choice.  They come rolled in parchment and I just use those sheets to bake them on.

The roll can be made up a day ahead and wrapped up in the fridge to be baked just before your guests arrive.  They are tasty - just out of the oven or even when they are room temperature.  Enjoy.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Caprese Pasta Salad

In the interest of not wasting food, I rifled through the fridge tonight to come up with a light fresh pasta salad for dinner.  I went out to Red Lobster for lunch today with my Mom and my cousin, Dot so we wanted something lighter for dinner.  I had some girlfriends over for an Italian feast last Friday.  We had Antipasti, Caesar Salad, Lasagna, Fettucine Alfredo and Brownies for dessert.  There was some leftover bocconcini and grape tomatoes in fridge so I built my pasta salad around these.

I cooked some pasta - drained and cooled it.  Then I made the dressing, 2 Tbsp of mayo, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar and 1 tsp of dried basil, salt and pepper.  If I had fresh basil, instead I would have used a Tbsp or two cut in a chiffonade.

Add the past and stir to coat.  Then stir in mozzarella and tomatoes and serve.  It's a nice side dish or light supper.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Easy Peasy Homemade Jam

 In the interest of saving money as well as having delicious jam for family and friends, make your own.  If you have never done this before and you are intimidated, don't be!  It is easy peasy!

Gear you will need...
2 large pots (a large dutch oven for jam and a larger one for sterilizing jars)
(Hint - if you don't have a canning pot, check second hand stores or sites like Kijiji)
Canning jars
a large mouth funnel
soup ladle
wooden spoon
potato masher
2 bags of frozen fruit
6 1/2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
liquid Certo
I made the jam pictured above for $9 (not including the cost of the "gear" as you will use it over and over.  You will only need to buy new lids for the jars each time).
Start with a couple of bags of frozen fruit.  I always to get these on sale.  These are mixed berries but I've used raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, peach, etc.  Put your clean jars into the canning pot.  Make sure the water covers them and set them on high to bring to a boil.
Pour the berries into the other pot.  Mash them (the front of the pot has been done and the back is still whole berries).  Add lemon juice and sugar.  Turn on high and stir to melt the sugar into the berries.
Bring the jam to boil and boil hard for a couple of minutes.

Take off the heat and pour in envelope of Certo.  Stir gently for at least 5 minutes.  This is an important step.  It helps the fruit from floating to the top of your jars and I find that I rarely have any "scum" on top to skim off.  If you are left with any foamy bits, make sure you skim them off with a spoon.
Now you are ready to bottle.  Your jars need to have boiled for at least 15 minutes.  I boil my tongs, ladle, funnel and rings for at least 5 minutes.  The lids with their rubber rings only need about 3 minutes to activate the seal.
Remove the jars with the tongs, place the funnel in each jar with the tongs, ladle jam into each jar (leave about 1/4 inch of space), set the lid on each jar with the tongs and twist on the rings until tight.  Basically you are doing everything with sterilized tongs until you twist the ring on.  You need to have everything clean so your jam doesn't spoil.  With the funnel, you will avoid getting jam on the edges of your jars.  If you do, use a clean dishcloth with very hot water to wipe off the edges.  After a few minutes, you will hear the jars start to "pop".  Once they are cool, see if the rings might need tightened again.  See - easy peasy and cheap!  Now make your own...


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with a Garlic & Orange Vinaigrette

Tonight's dinner was simple and delicious as well as a nice, light meal.  I started out by heating the oven to 400 degrees and browning the pork tenderloin, seasoned with just salt and pepper.  I then put it into a casserole dish and roasted it for 20 minutes.
I made dinner for 2 but one large tenderloin is enough for 4 and the vinaigrette recipe is for 4.  On each plate, I have mounded fresh arugula and some diced tomatoes from the garden.
Garlic & Orange Vinaigrette
1 large orange
1 clove of garlic
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp mustard
Zest about half of the orange, juice the entire orange, grate one clove of garlic, add 1 Tbsp of honey and 2 Tbsp of olive oil.  Whisk these together with 2 tsp of mustard to emulsify the dressing.  I used a champagne and shallot mustard from Stonewall Kitchens.  This one of my favourites.
Arrange slices of pork tenderloin over your salad and drizzle with the vinaigrette.
Bon Appetit,

Friday, September 21, 2012

Love my Mom's Lemon Meringue Pie

My Mom made the best lemon meringue pie today that I have ever tasted.  I promise that this winter, I will learn how to make pastry and then I will share this recipe with you.  She made it all from scratch and reduced the amount of sugar and eggs so I could have a piece without giving the calories too much thought.  On a side note, I have lost 30 lbs since January 1st...


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pork Chop Casserole

Fall is coming and it was cold and rainy today so I decided to make a quick comfort food dinner.  A couple of pork chops were marinated for the day and then roasted.
1 lemon, rind peeled and cut into eights and squeezed
a couple of Tbsp of olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
a couple of crushed garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Peel and chop potatoes and carrots and one apple.  Sprinkle with olive oil and stir to coat.  Place pork chops and marinade on top of the veg and roast (uncovered) for one hour.  This is a tasty, extremely easy fall or winter supper.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Home Ec Disappointment

Tonight's dinner reminded me of my first Home Ec  class in high school.  I had cooked and baked a little at home but not a lot by the time I reached Grade 9.  I grew up in a house where Mom cooked a nice dinner every night, where we all sat down together at the table to eat and where we'd complain if dessert was only "cookies, fruit or ice cream".  We were very spoiled with great cooking and baking around our house.  There was no real need to learn this domestic art.  But now, I was going to learn to cook and bake by someone whose job it was to teach me.  A real professional...
I was sadly disappointed.  The first class was all about how to warm up TV dinners and make them "special" by setting a nice table.  We actually were given handouts that diagrammed placemats and napkins so we could make our husbands feel they were having a home-cooked meal.  I would have been better off in shop class.  
So why did tonight's dinner remind me of Grade 9?  Well, because a busy day led to spiffing up a store-bought package of cheese tortellini.  It wasn't bad but as my Mother says "tomorrow we need to have a proper dinner".  I made a quick vodka tomato sauce while the pasta was cooking.  Three cups of crushed tomatoes, 2 shots of vodka, 1/4 cup of cream, a handful of fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped fresh basil and oregano plus salt and pepper to taste.  All warmed up, spooned over cooked pasta with shavings of fresh Parmesan on top.  Dinner in 15 minutes.  Not bad considering...better than a TV dinner.

Friday, August 31, 2012

September = Chili Sauce

I made a double batch of chili sauce today so we had meatloaf for dinner.  I was able to get a bushel of Roma tomatoes at Freshco for $10.  Such a good deal that I had to take advantage.

I see more canning in my immediate future...


BTW I have lost 25 lbs to date :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cottage Pie

Tonight I felt like comfort food.  Even though the temperatures were in the 30's, the air conditioner was on and the kitchen was hot from jam-making, so I decided to put the oven on.  We had cottage pie and Mom and I both enjoyed it very much.  Such a simple and homey meal...

Ingredients for 4

1 lb of ground beef
1/4 cup of diced onions
1/4 cup of frozen peas
1/4 cup of fresh or frozen corn
1 carrot
beef broth
3 medium potatoes
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of milk
2 Tbsp of butter
freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp of dried oregano
salt & pepper

Start by boiling 3 medium potatoes for mashed topping.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  A pound of freshly ground beef from the butcher was cooked with some diced onion and salt and pepper.  It is then spooned into the bottom of a casserole.  The carrot is diced and par-boiled in some beef stock (about 1/2 cup).  Then peas, corn and carrots are spread over the top.  Add about 3 Tbsp of beef broth plus what is left in the pot with the carrots.  Season with salt, pepper and oregano.

Once the potatoes are soft, mash and add butter, milk, cheddar cheese and nutmeg to taste (I used about a tsp).  Beat until they are light and fluffy.  Spread over the top of the filling.

Spread out the potatoes and either make twirls or run the tines of a fork over the top.  That way, you'll have some nice bits that will brown.

Bake it for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  I like mine with a little ketchup...



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pan-Fried Steak

Yep, pan-fried, not BBQ'd.  I ended up with a sinus headache and just couldn't face the heat and sunshine in my "courtyard" with my headache pounding.  So I replicated one of my late father's favourite meals.   Pan-fried steak with mushrooms and onions, home fries with pan gravy and beets.  Yummy...

So, quite simple - potatoes were boiled until cooked, then sliced and browned in some olive oil at dinner time.  Beets were baked in the oven until cooked through (and no, I didn't put the oven on just for'll see) and then cooled, peeled and reheated in the microwave.  The steak was fried in a Tbsp of olive oil and mushrooms and onions were added after the steak was cooked on one side and flipped.  When finished, the meat and veg were kept warm.  The steaks were extremely lean so I added 2 tsp of butter to the pan and one heaping Tbsp of flour.  I stirred together and added a cup of wine and a cup of water and stirred til thickened.  Plate it and enjoy.

And the reason the oven was on...

Yes, you are right.  This is my mum's scrumptious apple crisp with vanilla ice cream on the side.   Ahhhh, heaven...


Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I just posted last night`s dinner.  I didn`t include the recipe for cauliflower soup because I follow the same directions for broccoli soup.  You can look that up on my blog if you would like directions.  I always make soup after we`ve had broccoli or cauliflower with cheese sauce.  If you make a little extra, then you can make a great easy soup a day or two later.

Thanks for the e-mails I`ve gotten with words of support.  I did go a little off the rails and gained 2 lbs back but have now dropped 3 so 23 lbs down since January 1st.

And for those who asked about my missing chicken burger recipe, that is a long story that I won`t go into but rest assured that I will put it on the menu again.  If you want the recipe in the meantime, drop me an e-mail and I`ll pass Allyson`s recipe on to you.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Menu for Week of August 20, 2012

The best laid plans of mice and men...  I seem to be planning menus that I don't stick to and eating things that I really shouldn't lately.  The only difference this time is I'm not on a diet, I'm trying to institute a life change and I am never going to give up!  But I'm not going to beat myself up either...


Homemade Cauliflower Soup
Bacon, Egg and Cheese on an English Muffin

sorry no pretty photo editing...PicMonkey hates me

Ham and Vegetable Pie


General Tso Chicken


BBQ Steak with Mushrooms and Onions and Roasted Garlic Potatoes


Salmon and Salad

I am linking to Stonegable's On The Menu Monday.  Check it out!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 15, 2012.

Dinner on my lap in front of the telly tonight, watching Coronation Street...


Peach Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Tonight I BBQ'd a whole pork tenderloin (lightly brushed with olive oil) and brushed a glaze of homemade peach jam and chopped chives at the last minute.

I also sauteed corn (kernels cut from two cobs), finely diced onion and green pepper in a knob of butter.  Such a nice fresh vegetable and the pork tenderloin was juicy with just a hint of sweet peach.