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In the Kitchen

The Goings On of Late..

June 26, 2015
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Days have been saturated around here, with both little and big projects. Today as of 8 am is empty…something I haven’t felt in a while! So, here I am to share a few of the things we’ve been up to!

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The back bush, which is about 8 acres of forest, is slowly, VERY slowly, becoming more tame. What was a bush that could barely be tromped through, now has several trails, and a pond that has been opened up to let more light through. The Hubs really enjoys being back there and if his work day ends early, I can be sure that he’ll want to get some work done with the chainsaw. We’ve been blessed with the use of a huge chipper for a few weeks, and plan to chip some of the trails that are slick with mud.

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On Fathers day, we took a spur of the moment trip to a local beach with my parents, and oh what fun we had!  We walked the pier, and dug our toes in the sand, the inlet of water was warm enough that the kids brought their boogey boards and rode the waves! T’was pure delight! We finished the day off with a carton full of chippy truck french fries and and ice cream cone…necessary beach day nourishment 😉 IMG_0095

We had also visited our local strawberry farm and I bought 2 flats of fresh berries. We got down to business on Monday and turned the kitchen into a jam factory and pumped out about 25 jars of jam…DEEEElicous. In years past I’ve made the high sugar canned jam that is heat sealed, but this year I decided to try freezer jam. It has WAY less sugar, and tastes more like a real strawberry. Total delight to the tastebuds. Will definitely be making it like this from now on!

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The kids were amazing helpers, it amazes me how competent they are when I just give them the opportunity to help. They diced the berries with me, washed the jars, ladled in the finished product and of course they excelled at being taste testers :)

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Since we’ve taken an extended break from school (my original intentions were to just take 2 weeks, and then crack open the math books and some history, in order to not fully lose their facts before September.. ) I’ve been finishing up a few little ‘me projects’ that have been left until I had time to fiddle around.

I love the idea of fresh herbs in my kitchen but the look of new terra cotta pots makes me cringe a little, while the look of ancient ones really turn my crank. I love all things old and dilapidated  (WHAT!!?? I just discovered that the word is dilapiDATED and not dilapiTATED … honestly, I had no idea!! huh, just when I thought I knew everything… 😉

So, I took matters into my own hands, in my typical style of messing around until I’ve produced something tolerable. My husband loves this side of me…I get paint on the granite and on my clothes, I let my looks slide in the interest of getting a project done, and by the time he gets home, he greets a wife who is covered in paint and soil, sporting a frizz ball pony tail, a kitchen that is upsidedown and kids who are running wild.

I stand there and say ‘ BUT LOOK! Look at my creation!!’ and being the wonderful man he is, he looks past it all and sees my vision :) … love that man.

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Here’s my horrible iPhone photo of the basil, sage, cilantro and thyme now gracing my wooden bench in front of the kitchen window.  Makes me feel like a french chef with my “old” pots of herbs.  Now to actually use them haha!

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I used a titch of gold paint and a mixture of baking soda and water to brush on the sides. If I touch the pots a lot, some of the white soda will flake off, but it can always be brushed right back on again. There are more intense ways of makes your pots patina, but I like the quick and easy route!

I’ll have to post an update on the garden soon, it’s coming along nicely!!

No-Bake Reese’s fake!

June 4, 2015
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Well…. I didn’t make it too far from the kitchen.

Here I am with another DI-vine recipe. My Ashy-poo has begun honing her culinary skills, and we have a fine agreement. She may cook or bake to her hearts content, so long as when she’s finished, the kitchen is the way she found it before she began. Gotta learn the process, sweetie.

Baking is all fun and games, until someone has to do the dishes….Am I right?

My dream would be to have an endless supply of clean pots and pans, cutting boards and serving platters to create culinary genius with, and then to never have to clean up after myself. Oh, Barefoot Contessa, I yearn to have your clean up crew!

This afternoon, I found my darling concocting a new dessert, one she discovered in her ‘Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook’. I quickly signed up to be her ‘taste-tester’ and boy, were my taste buds doing the happy dance.

I would liken these squares to a Reese Peanut Butter cup. They go down smooth and easy, deliciously paired with a cold glass of milk. The best part….THEY’RE NO BAKE!!!!

Without further ado, here’s the crazy easy recipe!

NO-BAKE PEANUT BUTTER SQUARES

You’ll Need:

1.5 cups powdered sugar, 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 peanut butter, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Directions:

1. Mix together graham crumbs and powdered sugar in medium bowl.

2. In another bowl, melt peanut butter and butter together in microwave, then stir into graham crumb mixture. Press into ungreased 8×10 pan. (I have a smaller ceramic dish that I use, and it makes a higher square, but doesn’t change the flavour in any way :) )

3. In another bowl, melt the chocolate chips, stirring frequently. Spread over the crumb mixture.

4. Refrigerate until firm.

Slice up and enjoy!!

Recipe for the Repertoire.

June 1, 2015
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Listen.

I love to eat. I am skilled in this department. The proof is in the many puddings I’ve consumed. My thighs are my attestation.

That’s why, when I say … ‘Try it, you’ll love it..” you need to heed me.

This recipe came to me by way of potluck…the best way in my opinion. Potlucks have earned a place of honour on my list of functions to attend. They’re a downright foodie blessing. My friend Mrs. Mitchell and many other friends came laden with pots of luck, and boy, they did NOT disappoint.

And because I know you’ll love this recipe as much as I do, I’m posting it here.

Mrs. Mitchell’s Veggie Pizza 

You’ll Need:

1.5 packages plain cream cheese, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1 package DRY ranch seasoning, 2 tubes of pillsbury crescent rolls (the regular not the large), 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, (and this is the part where you get to be fancy…) your choice of diced veggies…I used broccoli, peppers (red and yellow) kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onion and cucumbers (approximately 4 cups worth of veggies, and to make it super simple, I used my slap chopper to dice and it was a breeze!) IMG_0076

First: un-pop the cans of crescent rolls (this part scares the be-jeepers out of me..if The Hubs is home I make him do it, but this time around I had Gabe do it even though he’d never done it before, and he nearly had a heart attack when the can popped, oh, I had tears I laughed so hard…) unroll the sheet of crescent rolls but don’t separate them. I used a pampered chef bar pan for this and I ended up with one square of dough leftover and just cooked it up on another cookie sheet. Cook the dough as per the can instructions. Then let the baked dough cool.

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Next: mix together the cream cheese, packet of ranch seasoning, and the sour cream in a mixer until it’s of a whipped consistency, then spread it onto the cooled dough.

Then: sprinkle the veggies onto the spread evenly, and finish with the grated cheddar cheese. IMG_0068

Chill until cold. Slice into squares and serve!!

(And if you’re like the boy and I, you can hit it with a bit of sriracha to spice things up!!)

 

Because sometimes, only taco salad will do.

May 26, 2015
Taco Salad Recipe

This morning I woke up to a text from my love. He had left the homestead before 4 to put in a long day with the farmers. It’s always good to wake up to the ba-ding of his texts.

Except for this morning.

He, totally awake, and getting his customary large Timmies 3 cream, was rolling through the drive through, when the pick up truck in front of him caught his eye. In his mind, this was something I needed to see at dark thirty.

So he sent this photo. Of the man who cleans roadkill off Haldimand township roads. Who happened to scrape a deer off the asphalt right before he stopped in the drive-thru for a coffee. (wonder if the ladies working the window almost threw it a timbit, thinking it was a dog…) (too far? sorry.)

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Lemme tell ya. Pre-coffee in the AM, this is not what my stomach wants to see. gag. This mornings wake-up ba-ding was not one of The Hubs finer texty moments.

Alas, being the proverbs 31 wife that I am, I put his distasteful photo behind me and planned a deliciously tasteful dinner for his return. First thing that came to mind…Taco Salad (with beef, ..not venison..)

Here’s the recipe for you fellow dinner salad lovers:

Taco Salad

You’ll need:

1 Tomato (diced) , 1 pound Ground Beef (pan fried until cooked) , 1 Avocado (chunked), 1 can black beans (rinsed), 2 heads romaine lettuce (chopped) , 1 package taco seasoning, 1 bag of nacho cheese doritos (crushed), 2 cups grated cheddar cheese, and catalina dressing (about 3/4 cup).

Prepare ground beef as instructed on taco seasoning packet, and for the easy part…combine all the ingredients in a big ol’ bowl. Pour dressing over and mix.

Put a leg up (heh), and dig in! (with a fork, not a shovel..)

In the spirit of trying new things…

February 4, 2015
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Thanks in part to my freaky February sloth body, I’ve decided that taking an interest in my daily caloric intake may be worth my while…(So as to not die from bending over once gardening season does make its arrival..It’s all I think about…can’t WAIT for that dirt under my fingernails!) (In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t be writing about dirt under my fingernails when I’m about to post a recipe…heh.)

Anyway, I’ve been all over Pinterest today looking for low calorie baking…I know, seemingly impossible, right? Well, Lo and behold fellow fat folk, I have found a chocolatey option!

Now, lets all be reasonable and realize what I’m trying to attempt here…a Low calorie, Chocolate-y, baked, Dessert-y option (oh and for today it had to be without baking powder, as ol’ mother hubbard here has to do groceries…) so in other words, working a sweet miracle.

Here’s today’s culinary delight :

Chocolate Banana Cake In A Mug Recipe

(makes 2 servings)

1 medium banana
1 egg
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons sugar

Mash banana in a small bowl until it turns into liquid. Mix in egg, cocoa powder, and sugar. Divide into two coffee mugs. Cook in a microwave, one at a time, for 1 minute until firm on the top.

Eat immediately or store in the fridge for later consumption.

112 calories, 3.1 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 20.8 g carbohydrates, 11.7 g sugar, 4.4 g protein, 3.1 g fiber, 32 mg sodium, 3 Points+

(Found on www.snackgirl.com)

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So, away we went, my boy and I .. to create some kitchen magic.

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We decided to double the recipe, if the girls smelled chocolate (no matter how healthy it is) and didn’t get any, we’d be in trouble!

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At this point, we had mixed all of the ingredients together into a nice liquid texture, and I divided it between 4 mugs .. I expected it to rise in the microwave…

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But it totally didn’t! This is where I began to wonder if it was even worth the 112 calories (although I added a few milk chocolate chips, so I’m sure the count went up to about 150) ..

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I let my sous chef have the first try, and once it cooled a bit he was quite delighted at the taste.. it certainly is chocolate-y!

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Boooo!

About 5 more bites into it, he decided it wasn’t what he expected (I think he was picturing real chocolate cake…poor kid)

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Here’s my mug .. I ended up getting those last few chocolate crumbs in the bottom of the bag of chocolate chips … Mmm mm. First bite was a welcome taste, good ol’ chocolate, my dear flavourful friend.

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As I got a few bites in, the texture became noticeable … in that its not cake-y, more of a wet-ish (you can see the small accumulation of liquid) banana-y texture. Which, of course, is to be expected, as its made solely of eggs and nana’s … In the end the taste is pretty good, if you’re looking for something insanely easy with a chocolate taste, low calorie, and that can be made in literally 3 minutes.

Let me know if you’ve got any low calorie options for chocolate!!

Crepes du jour..

January 30, 2015
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I sometimes like to think that I would be able to travel to Paris or Quebec and effectively take part in basic conversation. I practice in front of the mirror, and I sound so great…so francais.

But then…we drove to PEI and happened to stop in at McDonalds in Quebec, and there it was, my opportunity to wow the french server with my francais-y french and I couldn’t do it! It was a simple ‘Un petit cornet, si il vous plait’ but noooo, I shyed away and acted like I was like all Ontarian. ‘Umm, uh…ice cream? ‘ and of course she understood english, and there went my chance!

Anyway, around the house I like to impress my littles with my frenchy accents and they are in awe of their mothers cultural magnitude. I see that wistful look of wonderment when I roll out a good ol’ ‘Je m’appelle Mommy’, so when I announce that we’re having ‘Crepes’ for dinner … they feel as though we’ve stepped up the french flair here on the fifty.

I don’t tell them that it’s probably the easiest recipe I have. heh.

So, for those of you who are looking to step it up a notch in the french ethnicity department ….here’s a no fail recipe!

 Crepes

1 cup white flour

3 eggs

1.5 milk

1/2 tsp. salt

Butter for pan

Mix ingredients well until smooth liquid. Pour into frying pan, until it just covers bottom in thin layer. Once small bubbles form, flip and fry for an additional 10 seconds.

Serve with sliced strawberries and whip cream and maple syrup! Mmm.

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The BIG Cook!

February 7, 2012
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Here’s how it all begins: Christin and I both  shop for our alotted grocery list from the wonderful spread sheet she’s created. We try to save as much money as possible by shopping at No Frills and look for deals up to a week before we shop. Once that’s done, we await the BIG day and bring all our ingredients together! Here’s a picture of how we organize it – label each meal and put all ingredients for that meal together. (this was our Christmas bake, where we made a ridiculous amount of cookies, bars, squares, cookies, dipped pretzels etc)

This was the Bacon meatloaf that was from the recipe book ‘ The Big Cook’ .. Anyone who is interested in this style of cooking, MUST buy this book. It provides great tips of the trade as well as an abundance of recipes. Some of the recipes are trial and error..but we’ve found a few keepers…the ‘Zippy Porkchops’ are a favourite! All of the meals are put into either large ziplocks, or aluminum pans for freezing. Each bag is labelled with recipe name, style of cooking (crockpot or oven), temperature, and time to cook.  No need to keep recipe book handy that way.

Here is Christin in the kitchen, using the processer she totes along each time we cook – what a great tool it is!

Here are a few of the dipped pretzel rods we made. Some were dipped in sprinkles, skor bits, and cookie crumbs. Made for a nice decorative treat.

These were the date pinwheels (Christins nana’s recipe) that turned out to be a family favourite for us!
The real bonus to cooking in these large batches all in one day, is the savings on dishes and time. I’m also more apt to invite company for dinner when I’ve got a frozen meal on hand!
A great idea for busy moms!

 And yes … the kitchen definitely gets worse before it gets better. We try to clean as we go, and keep an open garbage, a burn box (something that folks in the country have the luxury of having 😉 and a recycling bin on hand to keep the empty packaging to a minimum.

 Slappin’ the meat in there :) Cooking CAN be fun!

What’s for supper tonight???

Artisan Bread..

November 16, 2011

Trying a new recipe today… Artisan bread in 5 minutes. Simplest recipe I’ve seen for bread!

have a looky … Artisan Bread .. I’ll let you know how it goes! It provides a recipe for a batch of dough large enough to make bread several times in 2 weeks.

This sort of stuff excites me!

Kitchen Magic..

October 31, 2011
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A friend from church recently gave me a gift that keeps on giving…buttermilk starter. I just have to save a bit each time I get low and start a new batch. Love me some buttermilk.

Todays batch was put to good use in cheese buttermilk biscuits.

A little bit of this

With a bit of this thrown in

While keeping an eye on this

Made for some delicious aromas in this here kitchen

This is how the sun rolls in each morning to rise and shine on the family. Now all I need is my rooster in the back yard a cock-a-doodle-dooing. … Or not. The silent sun is dreamy enough :)

Dilly Dilemma…

July 25, 2007
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The peaches turned out wonderfully.

I’ve discovered a favourite new sound. The pinging of lids being vacuum sealed, ’tis blissful. I also discovered that boiled peaches have a velvety soft feel once their peels have been plucked off…It was really a nice quiet time making these jars filled with peaches and love.

The pickles on the other hand…

Were much more arduous …the garlic had to be peeled, the vinegar boiled, the dill chopped, and the jars stuffed in such a way that the most cucumbers could be fitted. I didn’t have enough jars, so down I went into the bowels of ‘The Basement’ (this is an old house…with what seems like an even older basement..a wood room, a coal room, and a cistern … I shudder at the thought of the creepy crawlies that have been breeding for generations in the rafters….ugg.) and I grabbed a few of The Hubs’, Grandmothers jars.

I should’ve gone with my first instincts and p-shawed the idea once I saw them. Rubber gasket seals and all….but noooooo…I had to try to make it work.

So there I was with three over sized ‘crown’ canning jars that you would see on a variety store counter filled with dills, or pickled eggs, and I was trying to boil them without the water covering the lids. They were far too big for my canner, and the Bernardine lids didn’t stay on quite right so I mickey-moused with them until I got them tight enough with the old screw rings.

Surprise, surprise, they didn’t ‘ping’…even with me watching them for hours and hoping with all my might. So now I have 3 large jars of pickles that will be on my bottom shelf…pickling themselves just in time for me to have to consume them all in one day for fear of spoiling.

If I come near reeking of garlic and dill and am green at the gills….you’ll know my fridge jars were ready to go.

Pickles anyone??