Thursday, 31 May 2012

Ice cream - without a machine

I made ice cream without an ice cream machine.

I used a bowl, a whisk, a rubber spatula and a can opener (low tech version).

It is good!  Rich and good!

Coconut, Brown Sugar and Vanilla Ice Cream Without A Machine
Long name, amazing results (TM?)
invented by moi!
1 can (400ml) coconut milk (I used the red label of Thai Cuisine, it was fatty and mostly solid so I warmed it in said bowl for 30 seconds so I could stir it easily)
100 ml whipping cream (not whipped)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
dash salt
- combine all in bowl, stir very well to help dissolve sugar
- put in freezer and stir well, break up crystals, every 2 two hours.  This batch took 7 hours in the freezer above my fridge.
- when frozen completely, transfer to a container with a cover and keep in freezer

IDEAS?!  Well!  You could drizzle melted dark or semi sweet chocolate over it before a final stir, there's some Italian name for that that is escaping me at this moment.

Flavour ideas could be limitless though I haven't tried anything else yet, this is my first attempt EVAH!  Well, there was this one time, I made ice cream with my Mum in ziploc baggies.  Ice and salt were involved...

You know I'm going to find a way to incorporate peanut butter and chocolate in short order!

Tell me what you'd try in your own ice cream?

Pumpkin waffles

This morning, I made pumpkin waffles for breakfast.  My family loves waffles.  The Big Kid likes to fill each hole with maple syrup.  I said fill.  The Wee One (now 1.5 yrs) is hilarious to watch as she tears a piece off with her hands and rubs it on her tray to dip it in her syrup.  Don't try tearing the girl twin's waffle, it is then considered broken and no good to her.

I found the recipe at and modified it to make 12 waffles instead of the default 8.  In reality, I made 24 squares (I filled my machine 6 times).

I made a batch of Canadian Living's Cinnamon Icing out of The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book.  I find CL recipes are so reliable.

Pumpkin Waffles
almost directly from, this is a recipe for 12 waffles
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 pinches salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
2 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp vanilla
- mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.
- in a second bowl, add eggs, sugar, pumpkin, milk, butter, and vanilla; beat well.
- gently fold in the flour mixture.
- cook according to your waffle iron directions.
- I do these in my belgian waffle iron and it uses about 1 cup + batter and takes 4-5 minutes to bake.
These are great with a little bit of syrup (or a lot), honey butter or Cinnamon Icing.  They are tasty enough to eat as is, in your hand as you are running out the door to go to work - not that I would know personally (I don't actually work), but that's what The Man said this morning as he was flying out of the house. 

These are good the next day and put in the toaster.  These are great in lunche boxes too!  BONUS!

Plain is handy because then there is inherently less mess!  The kids can wear the clothes they have on until the next meal; the walls, chairs, window and their hair don't require a complete wipe-down which they usually do require after I serve syrup.  I'm going to bring a batch to a playdate this morning and the kids can just garb one and sit down to eat with minimal supervision and no hovering.  If they do wander off with the waffle, it's not a big deal.

Thing 1 declared they were "huffle cookies".  I guess they are that sweet and spicy (but not in a hot kinda spicy).

What to do with any leftover pumpkin purée from the big can you bought?  Freeze it in 1/2 cup portions.  I use my muffin tin, drop 1/2 cup purée in it and once frozen, wrap tightly in two layers.  Label the outside with contents, quantity and date.  I drop some in just about any soup I make, there's no flavour with everything else and it adds another veggie to the mix!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Mozzarellissima (on lasagna)

The cheese that stretches as long as it's name.TM

I just can't get enough of this cheese.  I won a prize basket from fellow food blogger mmmisformommy.  In the basket were several kitchen tools and gadgets along with five gift certificates for 500g mozzarellissima cheese (lite or not lite).

So far, I have picked up one of each variety and am more than pleased with both. 

This is the cheese that brings me back to Vito's lasagnas from when I was *cough* much younger.  They put it on their pizzas too, but had / have a "thing" for their lasagnas.  Actually, I just have a "thing" for lasagna in general.  Now you know what to make me to stick in my freezer for emergency meals, I'm so transparent!

This is the cheese that has that gooey, chewy, full-mouth feel to it (kinda in a gobby way but that's what I like about it) when melted.  Cold out of the fridge it is delightful as well, but nothing special.  Melted... now we're talking.

I wanted lasagna so I used what I have on-hand to fill me up.

Here I have made a lasagna which was awesome!  I highly recommend it IF you are a lasagna fan.  Big shout out to my Mum (HI MUM!) who does not like lasagna though she really likes a spaghetti meal... go figure.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Rice versus oatmeal

Just as one is difficult to clean up, the other is almost a dream.

One sticks to clothes, hair, walls, ceiling and floor.  The other sticks to nothing at all.

One requires the use of a jackhammer to scrape off surfaces lest it dry.

The other is even more satisfying to vacuum or sweep up once returned to it's dried state.

My deep thought for the day.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Oven ribs

These were good.  It had been a while since we last had ribs, but The Man said they were "very good".

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Monday, 21 May 2012

Homemade Wheat Thins

What goes well with soup?  Crackers!  Who didn't have any in the house?  We didn't!

Until, that is, I made some.

These were easy and not messy to make and quick to go from recipe to table.  All qualities I value in the middle of the day when all the kids are up.

These homemade crackers are so much like the box version, yet so much better.  There are no preservatives in them at all, but who needs them when we gobble them down so fast anyhow?  These would make a good munchie for movie night, they go well with soup, they'd stand up to a dip (I'm thinking a Mexican 7 layer dip), they'd be impressive at a potluck and they're great for lunch boxes... I'm always on the hunt for things to put in lunch boxes.

The dough was easy to throw together and was a dream to work with.  Even the scraps could be reworked so there's no waste. 

Roll the dough as thin as you can, don't be afraid.  Thinner dough = crispier cracker; a thicker dough = slightly chewy cracker, but still delightful.  You choose, try two different thicknesses on two pans to find out what you like.

I rolled it out on a floured surface, slid it onto a baking sheet and cut it with my pizza cutter on the pan.  I didn't spread them out at all, just baked them in that form.  It went really well that way, they cooked evenly and didn't stick together.

Once they were cooked, they cooled on the baking pan on a cooling rack.  When they were perfectly cooled I put them into a big mason jar for storage. 

I found three blogs with the exact same ingredients and proportions, so I figured it was a sure-shot.  Here is one, and another, and another.  Happy reading.

Homemade Wheat Thins
from the three blogs mentioned above
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for topping
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or Earth Balance)
1/4 cup water (you might need to add a little more)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- whisk dry, cut in butter to homogenous and crumbly
- add water to vanilla and add to flour mixture.  Start to combine with a fork then get your hands in there and work the dough, it should not be sticky.  If you find it won't hold together, add a drop more water until it does.
- divide in four balls (easier to work with) and lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.  Roll out thin, aiming for 1/16"
- slide the sheet onto a cookie pan, cut into desired size and shape, sprinkle with kosher salt if desired.
- bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes, watch closely
- store in airtight container

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Product review - Duncan Hines Carrot

Several weeks ago, I had a guest over and she brought with her a mix for Duncan Hines Classic Carrot cake. 
Prepared as per the instructions -
they are more beautiful in real life and on their way into my mouth somehow!
I prepared it as per the full-fat instructions on the box (oops, I would've used the less-fat instructions had I looked for them, they were also on the box) and it made 12 big muffins.
They were okay warm out of the oven.  BUT, after spending the night in an air tight container at room temperature they were something to write home about

They were THAT good!  The texture was great and the flavours had kind of mellowed.

This is what the box looks like in case you want to pick one up.
I'd make this again if someone were to bring it to my house.
Disclaimer: This product was a gift and I did not receive free product from the company.  I received no compensation to try the product and was under no obligation to write a review, I just wanted to.

Product review - Clover Leaf Spicy Thai

I have just consumed something I want you to know about.  I thoroughly enjoyed a can of Clover Leaf Spicy Thai flaked light tuna.

I forgot to take a picture of the contents, but here's the packaging.

There's an ez peel lid and I ate it straight out of the can. 

I have bought another.

Disclaimer: I bought this product myself and am under no obligation to write a review at all, negative or positive.  I am receiving no compensation from the company.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Giveaway warm-up

I have a giveaway on it's way! 

In the meantime, I'm going to prime you a bit for the big moment. 

I received a big tub (a quart? 960ml, anyhow) of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil (That's a Lot of Caps) in the mail this week for free!  They want me to give one away to a reader as well!  Ha!  How much fun is that?!  I'm just reading the fine print of the giveaway to ensure I do it correctly and everyone is happy, that's my delay.

In the meantime, I'll tell you what I've done with my coconut oil so far.

Well, as soon as I opened it and stopped dancing around the house with a stupid grin on my face, I put a good amount in a separate container for personal use.  I love it on my hands and face, it's very softening and I generally have rough and very dry hands.  In fact, this morning I was putting some on my hands and put my fingers through the Middle Girl's hair and it really brought her ringlets together and they stayed that way all day!  Not appetizing but I'm telling you because it works for me and maybe you too. 

So far I've made Tahini Oatmeal cookies using only raisins.  Soooooo good!  I brought them to a playgroup and one girl just kept coming back for more!  Guess they were her thing!

Then, I made French Toast and used it to fry in the pan in place of butter - that went over really well.

I've made a batch of chocolate chips for Brown Sugar Blondies tomorrow for weekend road trips.

I had a batch of Lazy Granola in the oven yesterday. 

That's it so far and there's lots more oil to go through.

This is not the giveaway question, but what would you do if you won it?  I'm just curious, that's all.

Homemade chocolate chips (or carob)

I've made my own chocolate chips a few times now and enjoy them.

Here is where I found my inspiration.  Here is another site to read if you're in the mood.

The ingredients for homemade chocolate chips.
Homemade chocolate chips

1 cup cocoa (slighly rounded, just not flat) or carob powder
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter (or a combination of both)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (white sugar) (more or less to taste)
quick dash salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
- in a glass bowl over a small pot of simmering water, melt all the ingredients together. It takes about 10-15 minutes of heating and a few stirs to let the sugar dissolve completely but this is important for both texture and flavour of the final product.
- once sugar is dissolved, pour into a parchment lined 9x9 dish and let harden either in the fridge or freezer. Remove and hack at it with a knife until you get the size pieces you want.

You can also use 1/4 tsp peppermint extract if you are looking for mint chips.

Store these in the freezer or fridge.

They can be used in a trail mix, though be aware they will probably melt before a commercially prepared product, whether that is a good or bad thing is up to you to decide.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Lovin' it, sunbutter

I absolutely love my sunbutter.  If you haven't made any yet, you may want to consider it to change things up a bit.

Sunbutter is "butter" made out of sunflower seeds - as peanut butter is made from peanuts.

Here is the recipe on my blog (click on the blue word "here" at the beginning of this sentence).  It's so good and stores well at room temperature.  Give it a little stir before you use it, but it's not as hard to deal with as many natural peanut butters.

Monday, 14 May 2012


A new week, a new start.

My diet was lacking in vegetables last week and my crisper shows it; my fridge is chock full of vegetables.  They have not gone bad yet so I need to act fast. 

It was also lacking in sweat and activity, so I'm going to add a bit of that to my schedule as well.

I'm really looking forward to eating this soup today and this week.  It's so satisfying and so good for my family and I.  I'm going to freeze some of it and I'll be throwing different things in it all week to switch it up (beans, tofu, spices and who knows what else).

I made vegetable soup, clubhouse sandwiches and served them with potato wedges a little while ago, remember that?  So good!

Fresh Vegetable Soup
from the WW site
2 cloves garlic, minced   
1 medium onions, diced    
2 medium carrots, diced    
1 medium sweet red peppers, diced   
1 rib celery, diced  
2 small zucchini, diced
2 cups green cabbage, shredded
2 cups Swiss chard, chopped
2 cups cauliflower, small florets
2 cups broccoli, small florets
2 tsp thyme, fresh, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth (or chicken)
2 Tbsp parsley, or chives, fresh, chopped (I'll be using chives from my garden!)
1/2 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, optional
- put all into a large soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Banana coconut pineapple (tofu) smoothie

Made one of my best smoothies for snack this afternoon, as rated by the Big Kid.  He loves smoothies and knows when one stands above the rest.

I made Healthy Lemon Squares (post to follow) this afternoon and instead of just making more of the filling, I ended up with some silken tofu left over.  I also had a can of coconut milk open in the fridge to use up.

Here's what I did.

Banana Coconut Pineapple smoothie (with tofu - but you don't have to tell your kids)
1 yellow banana
1 can (14oz) pineapple in chunks with juice
1/2 box Mori Nu silken tofu (red box, 240g) (approx)
1/3 can Thai Kitchen coconut milk (red label, 400ml) (approx)
3 Tbsp sugar
- dump all ingredients into blender and blend away
- serve as is or chilled.  If you are smart, you can use a frozen banana and it will be colder (you may cut up said banana and freeze it ready for smoothies or 1 ingredient ice cream, which I have not tried yet)

Photos to follow this evening, just had to tell you now while it's still hot out and you want a snack.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Another banana bread

Tonight, I was in the mood for Tostitos.  So I made banana bread.  I'm not sure how one led to the other but let's keep going. 

I made a recipe based on Chocolate Covered Katie's Coconut Breakfast Cake.  It is neither breakfast time nor do I think of it as a cake nor did I go with the coconut theme.  I used her substitution idea of bananas for pineapple this time.  I'm going to make it again going with the pina colada idea.

Here's what I did to achieve my evening bliss.

Banana Bread with coconut milk
based on CCK
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs (or flax egg substitute)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 bananas very ripe and brown speckly, mashed
1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk **
- mix dry
- mix wet (add brown sugar here)
- combine just to moisten dry ingredients
- grease bread loaf pan, bake at 350F 35-42 minutes.  Knife inserted in centre should come out clean when done, don't underbake, if anything go over by two minutes.
- remove from pan onto cooling rack as soon as you can so the crust stays nice.  Best to let it cool before you cut it, or at least almost cool.
** I used Thai Kitchen (red label) and when I opened it there was this beautiful thick cream at the top and that's what I used in the banana loaf.  Then, when it was (barely) cool enough to eat, I slathered this thick coconut cream straight out of the can right on top of a piece of banana bread and it was VERY GOOD.

You could use 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained, in place of the mashed banana

You can add in some optional ingredients: chopped macadamia nuts or walnuts, shredded coconut, rum extract.

See the can I used?  Yummy.

This is a blob of the coconut cream straight outta the can and on a
piece of slightly warm banana bread, it melts just a bit.
This is going in the freezer for lunches next week.  Well, whatever's left after I go have another piece right now.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Chocolate fudge

I made homemade ice cream and had some sweetened condensed milk leftover and the first thing that came to my mind was to make fudge. 

You can't really see just how yummy it was, but, it WAS.

So I opened up my Company's Coming Gifts From the Kitchen cookbook and found a recipe for an after-dinner mint with the ingredients I wanted to use. 

There's a story behind this cookbook.  It has traveled further West across Canada than I have.  How can that be, you ask?  Well.  My mother gave it to me for my very first Mother's Day.  I lent it out and I lost track of it, I wasn't sure where it was for a few years.  Then, out of the blue, I got it back with a beautiful note written on cute cardstock from a dear friend - which I've kept tucked inside the book.  She'd borrowed it, then liked it so much she just kept "forgetting" to return it to me.  Then she moved away and it went with her.  Every time she opened it up to use it she felt guilty.  That's not good karma.  The book is about making and giving to others, yet each time she opened it she felt guilt and remorse.  Not a great way to start any recipe I think.  It needs to come from the heart, not the pit of your stomach.  Meanwhile, I'd replaced my book with another copy so now I have two of these wonderful books.  I don't need two so I'm sending this one back to her with love and she can feel really good about using it and can share that good feeling with all the recipes that come out if it for her circle of friends.

Here's the recipe that you can share with love with your friends.

Fudgey Chocolate Mints
from Company's Coming Gifts From the Kitchen, Jean Paré Special Occasion Series
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-11 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp peppermint flavouring
- grease 9x9 with butter
- combine all in small pot.  Heat on medium-low, stirring often, just to melt chips and mix is smooth.
- pour into pan.  cool.  Makes scant 2 lbs, cuts into 144 mints (12x12) 
** I used 3 cups of semi-sweet only and it was gooo-ooood.

Cuts into way less than 144 if I'm eating the fudge.  Or maybe I just eat many pieces at once... Mmmmm  You can also drop this mixture by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper for individual candies (but that's way too much work).  If it hardens, soften on the stovetop again.

What's your address again, friend?

Chocolate waffles (pancakes too)

Oh yes, I did.

I had a playdate this afternoon and brought my four kids, waffle mix and my waffle iron.

We were all well-received. 

This is actually the underside of the waffles, they're always prettier upside down.

The chocolate waffles were very convenient because the kids (there were nine kids in all - she had five there and I have four) could come in and grab a waffle and go sit and eat or even walk around.  They don't demand a topping like a plain waffle would, they were sweet all by themselves (I mean the waffles, but the kids were great too!).  Neat and tidy, my kind of snack.

Plus, the waffle iron I have makes four squares at once so it's easy to keep up with the demand.  And there was demand, let me tell you.

I'll do this again, everyone was happy with waffles or "huffles" as my middle kids call them.

I've brought my waffle iron to a brunch as well and it was a lot of fun.  Yep, I'll do it again.

Waffles by Rana.  I could host waffle parties!  I could hire myself out with my traveling waffle iron.  "Have waffle iron, will travel."  I can see it now, we'll travel the World my waffle iron and me.  I'll be rich!

Woah, I'm not going to get rich if I give out the recipe now am I?  Ah well, I'd rather share with you for free.  Your gain.

Chocolate Brownie Waffles
straight out of the little cookbook that came with my Cuisinart
makes 14 waffles (approx.)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups milk (may use evaporated fat free milk) (I used skim milk)
2 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly**
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
** I used 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce and 1/4 butter, melted to cut back on the fat a little

Place the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk to blend. Add the milk, egg and vanilla extract. Stir with a whisk until well blended and smooth. Stir in melted butter / applesauce. Let batter stand 5 minutes. Preheat Cuisinart® Waffle Iron on setting #4.  When preheated, green indicator light will illuminate. Stir chocolate morsels and chopped walnuts/pecans into batter. Pour 1/3 cup batter onto center of each preheated waffle maker square.  Help batter spread out from center slightly. Close lid of waffle iron – green indicator light will turn off. When green indicator light turns on again, waffle is ready. Remove waffle using a heatproof plastic spatula. Repeat with remaining batter. For best results, serve immediately. Waffles may be kept warm in a 200°F oven in a single layer arranged on a wire rack set in a jelly roll type pan until ready to serve.

Oh you know you can drop this batter onto a hot griddle or frying pan to make a stack of pancakes too!  You can top it how you please, get creative.  Fruit, chocolate sauce, melted peanut butter, whipped cream, ganche... limitless.  You can serve these for breakfast, snack or a fancy dessert, they dress up real nice.

And these freeze really well.  Make sure they are completely cool, pop them into a bag and seal tightly.  When you want them, take the bag out and let thaw then toast them on a light setting on your toaster.  I'd say these were as good or better after being frozen.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Lemon Squares - olde fashioned

It's a sure sign you are getting old when the treats from your childhood cookbooks are now referred to as "olde fashioned".

This is one of those recipes.

I am old. 

Welcome to my world.

These are old school butter lemon squares with a shortbread crust and a smooth, sweet lemon-y topping with a bit of a crispiness to the top.  I got this recipe straight out of my Betty Crocker's Cookbook, you know, the orange one?  My version is bound not in a binder though but is a hardcover.  Well, la-di-da.
You know you want it.  I know I do.  Right now.

They're a fabulous juxtaposition between the sweet cookie base and the slightly sour but still sweet lemon topping.  Om nom nom nom nom nom nom

Lemon Squares
p140 twenty-fifth printing 1975 of Betty Crocker's Cookbook
1 c flour
1/2 butter, softened
1/4 c icing sugar
2 eggs
1 c granulated sugar (white sugar)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice (preferably fresh squeezed and organic but I've used bottled juice just fine)
- Heat oven to 350F.  Mix thoroughly flour, butter and icing sugar.  Press into ungreased square 8x8x2 pan, building up a 1/2" edge.  Bake 20 minutes.
- Beat remaining ingredients about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Pour over hot crust.  Bake about 25 minutes or just until no imprint remains when touched lightly in centre.  Cool; cut into squares.  Makes 25 squares.

Easy peasy, they say.

Working with a pastry cutter to make the shortbread cookie base.

Pressed into the pan and ready to bake.

These are awesome! They may cause heartburn if you're prone to that when eating too many rich desserts, so Dad, you've been warned.

Supper tonight - takeout (not)

Tonight, I wanted take-out.

It wasn't in the menu plan, that's for sure, but I was just a tiny bit tired of being the full-time parent, maid, entertainer and chef around here and was thinking a change would be nice.

Well, I didn't have the "change" to pay for said meal, so I opted to cook instead.  yipee

Somehow, takeout turned into homemade Pad Thai.  Served on nothing but a plate.  I let the dish shine.

It was good.  The middle kids didn't eat more than two bits, but I don't get hung up on what they eat or don't eat or when or how.  When they're hungry they eat.  I try to offer good snacks.  Meh, it all comes out in the wash.  The Big Kid is such a trooper and pretty much eats anything I set in front of him - he always has; even when he can SEE the tofu in it, he does his best.

I did have chicken breast and tofu, so they both went into it and somehow I forgot a sweet pepper and an onion.  It was still delightful and I'll make it again.  And again.  and again.

Go here for the recipe for Pad Thai.  For this exact batch you see pictured, I kinda winged it with the sauce ingredients and it turned out a bit less saucy than I like a little less peanutty also.  Go with the recipe here and it'll be perfect.

I think I'm going to make a small batch of wedges now for a snack, that'll satisfy.  Remember this awesome lunch?  This is what I'm going to make right now.  Mmmmmm

Monday, 7 May 2012

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

I can hardly believe I haven't posted this recipe before now!  I make this so often, I consider it one of our regular soups. 
Guess I forgot to add the peas before I took the picture.
 The ingredients are almost always in the house.  It's warming.  It's good for you.  It's easily doubled and freezes well.  The kids eat it!

Moroccan Red Lentil Soup ingredients.

I love the yellow colour of the soup with the bright green peas floating around.  It`s a jolly soup!

Moroccan Red Lentil Soup
copied straight from Canadian Living
These are the spices, aren`t they pretty?
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions , chopped
4 cloves garlic , minced
2 celery stalks , chopped
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 Pinch saffron (optional)
6 cups water
1 cup red lentils
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 potatoes , peeled and cubed
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup light sour cream
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley

- In large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat; cook onions, garlic and celery, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and saffron (if using); cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
- Add water, lentils, tomato paste, potatoes and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes with spoon; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes.
- Add peas; simmer until lentils, vegetables and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Ladle into bowls. Dollop each with sour cream; sprinkle with parsley. 
Tip 1: For a smoother texture, purée 2 cups of the cooked soup until smooth, then stir back into remainder of soup.
Tip 2: You can add a variety of vegetables to this soup.  For example, this particular batch has cauliflower florets in it.  You can add sweet potato, carrot, and cooked squash.
Vegan version: you can omit the sour cream entirely and it's still awesome, this is how we eat it most of the time, actually.

Turning the table for a minute

I'm handing the Talking Stick over to you guys for a minute.

What are you here for?  What are you looking for?  How can I better address your kitchen desires / cravings / questions?

Do you want decadent desserts?  Made healthier or not?

Do you want a running diary of what I feed my family and how?

Would you like to talk menu planning?

Are you pleased to just let me run off at the mouth and see what comes out?

I'd appreciate your feedback if you have some to offer.

On a personal note...

You know, my life is pretty darn good if I can come on here as often as I do and talk about something as light and fluffy as food. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm living a life of leisure already.  (Now, go back and say "leisure" with an English accent, you're talking in your head anyway, no one's going to hear you.  Not "lee-sure" but "leh-shur".)

I went for a drive yesterday and in case you missed it, here's the post.  I was meandering through Wolfville and was struck by how much I just wanted to park the car and sit on a patio with a hot cuppa java (probably from the Just Us! location I spotted).  The sun was shining, people looked healthy, happy, wandering around this little town's main drag that is about three blocks long.  You've got everything right there.  Post office, grocery store, flower shop, barber, used books, gifts, games, restaurants, pubs, cafés, shoe store, photo shop, theatre, outdoor clothing store and the list goes on.  There's a major university there too which I imagine helps keep the population young-looking (I don't  know the census information on this town, I'm just making assumptions based on what I saw).

Now, no, not everything I saw was rainbows and unicorns, I didn't have my rose-coloured glasses on.  Even the less-than-awesome was part of the picture.  We're all part of the picture.  When I'm walking down the street struggling with my three-under-three-and-a-quarter, what am I adding to the layers of my town or street?

But back to my life... I wake up, get people out the door who go out the door, then turn my attention to my wee ones, my house and myself in that order.  I don't have a schedule, I don't have anywhere I have to be most days.  We can play, learn, eat and drink as we please.  So, why then, does that seem so "intense" as one woman called it - I'd been using the term "chaotic" but I like "intense" much more.

No one in my family is ill or challenged in any obvious ways, I'm so lucky this way.  We all seem pretty happy with our stand in life.  My partner loves me and I love him AND we like each other, that helps too.  My kids get along, in the major ways.

So there I was, approaching a stop sign in Wolfville, windows down, kids are looking around, life is good, thinking about all the lazy stuff I'd do if I lived in Wolfville.  I'd walk on the sidewalk.  I'd stop when I wanted to.  I'd have a book with me and I'd read a page or two with coffee in the hot, hot sun.  I'd admire the shoes in the window.  I'd scout out gifts I'd like to give to my family and friends.  Sounds like I'd be kidless at that moment... maybe they're in daycare... yeah, that's it.  I'm just getting a break.

What a beautiful day it was daydreaming.

I'm awfully thankful for all the people in my life that make it what it is.

Oatcakes 1

I made these this morning and they were not what I was looking for.  They were definitely okay and made a good method to transport my Nanny's raspberry jam to my mouth. 

The recipe is here.

My next attempt will be this recipe.

Huh, a GREAT way to start up a baking business.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Coffee and noodles, noodles and coffee

Today, I went for a drive. 

It was a beautiful day, perfect temperature for a non air-conditioned car, windows cracked just a bit. 

By the way, one twin can't stand having wind in his hair and the other one would stick her whole head out the window like a dog (tongue flapping and all) if she weren't strapped down so tight.  Yep, they're twins all right!

I asked the wee ones where they wanted to go - big mistake.  They wanted timbits.  Ach!  Well, I dared ask.  So we started at Tim Horton's where the two middle kids got one timbit each.  Done.  I won't ask them again today what they want.  The story gets much better, bear with me.

I decided that because I ran out of coffee that I should go get more.  I also decided I should go buy it straight from the roaster so they can stamp my frequent-buyer card.  ROAD TRIP!  The Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op is in Grand-Pré, an hour if you just drive there on the highway and without kids.

But who does that?!

I took the "old road", the #1 highway.  I love, love, love this drive.  The whole thing, once I "get out of town".  I love the Valley in it's entirety.  I could melt there.  I love the views, the smells ("it smell cowwww" today, they said), the tall trees, the houses, the history, the view, did I mention the views?

So, only the wee-est one slept on the way there.  We stopped and got banana bread at Irving and played in a park.  Finally, we arrived in Grand-Pré.  We all pile out and order tuna sandwiches, a coffee in a travel mug (another stamp) and a bag of Espresso Blend, my favourite right now.  We took a seat in the sun room to chow down.  Then we went outside and romped in their garden.  The kids picked so many dandelion bouquets for me and I threw them up in the air so it could rain flowers on us.  They chased two butterflies, they watched the clouds, watched a couple of eagles, they did summersaults.  The counted the tulips.  Four minutes later, they were done in the garden.  Phew!  I *almost* relaxed!

Back into the car, I pulled out of the parking lot not in the direction of our house and the boy twin noticed and said that was okay.  I explained that I wanted to find fresh pasta.  I knew there was a place and I could picture it in my mind so I was going to find it.  Just past the gorgeous town of Wolfville lies a village called Port Williams.  Oh my.  Gorgeous.  I told you, I love the Valley.

I found the Pasta Studio no problem.  AH!  I've never shopped here before!  I was so excited.  I asked what they had in the fridge today and tasted two kinds to see what I thought the kids would like, I would've eaten anything from them.  I decided on the cracked black pepper tagliatelle.  I wanted so much to try everything.

With my treasures of fairly traded, organic coffee and hand-made-with-local-ingredients pasta, both companies with a mind for the future, our bodies and the environment, I started for home.  The kids slept the whole way home, good for them and for me.

I tell you, they gobbled up that pasta so quickly and with gusto.  They absolutely loved it.  "More", "more"!  Awesome!  I cut up a chicken breast sliced very thinly and fried it quickly in a pan with a touch of salt and turned off the burner and added the pasta just to heat (it comes cooked and tossed in a bit of EVOO, heat and eat, baby!).  I served it with yellow pepper strips and milk.

My camera is on vacation so I can't give you any pictures today.  Please click on the links in the text above to visit the sites of the products I mentioned.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Simple supper

Last night, I was in the mood for a simple supper.

I had previously eaten too many chips and dip (the dip is 1:1 mayo and sour cream (1/2 cup) with 2 Tbsp Epicure Cheese, Chives and Bacon seasoning) so I was perhaps looking to make up for that.

I took a chicken breast (which I rarely have in the house, what a treat) and cut it up small, browned it in a pan, added 1/3 can organic diced tomatoes (these were kind of salty, so I didn't add any) and 1/2 yellow pepper diced small.  I let that cook a few minutes.  I served it over a baked potato that I had done in the microwave.

Just right!