Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Meets Lasagna... an extremely easy weeknight supper

Korean Beef Bowl

Do you ever feel you're in a bit of a rut, cooking the same old dinners week after week?

Me, too!

So, a month or two ago, I started actively looking for some new recipes to try.

Recipes without LONG lists of ingredients...

Recipes that are easy to prepare...

Recipes that are healthy and tasty...

Recipes that are flexible, that can be changed up a bit, depending on what's in the fridge.

I've shared one already – Korean Beef Bowl. This is seriously good and you can have it on the table in twenty minutes. Click here for the recipe.

Today's suggestion is Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash from Dinner With Julie. Think lasagna without the noodles. Think spaghetti squash plus sauce plus cheese. That's it. Julie doesn't even really give a recipe, just some guidelines.

First, prep your spaghetti squash, either in the oven or in the microwave.
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna


Microwave: Preheat whole squash 1 minute. Halve lengthwise, remove seeds and membranes. Place cut side down in casserole dish. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup water. Cook on high for 12 minutes. Test to make sure it's fork tender. Drag your fork through the inside of the squash in multiple directions until you have a pile of strands. Leave the strands in your squash “boats”.

Oven: Cut your squash in half and remove seeds and membranes. Bake in oven at 375 for 30 minutes. Use your fork to stir up the strands.

While your squash is cooking, prepare a meat sauce. It could be as simple as browning some chopped onion and lean hamburger and then adding a jar of spaghetti sauce. Or, it could be like my latest version – a mysterious mixture of vegetables, black beans, cooked taco meat from the freezer, three tomatoes and the tail end of a jar of salsa. : )

Pile a generous layer of sauce on top of each squash boat (allow one per person) and then heap on some grated mozzarella.

Bake at 375 for half an hour. That's it! Enjoy!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Back from the Land of the Little People


Hello, everyone!

Back again after helping out in the Land of the Little People...

Our family welcomed a sweet little girl...

... healthy, happy, feeding and sleeping well! We're so pleased!

While her mum adjusted to the new addition, I spent a significant amount of time playing Little People, constructing tents out of blankets and reading stories.

I also sang "The Wheels on the Bus" at least a zillion times.... : )

Spending time with little ones slows life down.  That's a good thing.

Missing those cuddles already!
Maggie

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mrs. Baker's Spice Cake


A little stroll down Memory Lane today!

I've had this recipe since Grade 8. Mrs. Baker, mother of my best friend at school that year, passed it along. I loved it, especially when it was warm from the oven.

It's a simple cake, no special ingredients, no complicated directions, no icing required... a nice treat if people drop by for coffee kind of cake!

Mrs. Baker's Spice Cake



Mrs. Baker's Spice Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar

Rub together until you have light crumbs.
Set aside 1 cup for topping.

1 egg
1 cup sour milk (add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to milk)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Add ingredients to bowl and mix.
Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
Sprinkle on the 1 cup of topping you set aside.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Have a great weekend!
Maggie

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Try this idea with the fall leaves you pick!


I saw a great idea on Facebook this morning! 

Before pressing fall leaves, cut out some interesting shapes using a scrapbook punch!  Preserve the little shapes just as you would a regular leaf and use in future projects.

Not sure how to preserve leaves? Click here.

There were no written directions with the Facebook post, but I would suggest you take care to “clean” your punch afterwards by punching a number of paper shapes and allowing the punch to air dry thoroughly.

The possibilities!! Card making, scrapbooking, Thanksgiving place cards...


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What's for lunch? Peanut Butter French Toast


May I just say, one of the unexpected perks of being a retired teacher is....

PEANUT BUTTER.
Grilled Peanut Butter Sandwich

Yes, it's something I'm “all caps” excited about.

Peanut butter was a no-no at our school. Allergies made it a risky proposition in a classroom, so peanut butter was restricted to weekend sandwiches on the ski trail.

Now, move over and make room for my jar of pb!

Today at lunch, we “taste tested” two interpretations of an upscaled version of the classic peanut butter sandwich: Grilled Peanut Butter and Peanut Butter French Toast. Am I the last person in Canada to try these?

If you really want all the nitty gritty details, lists of ingredients and directions, click here for Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana...

...or here if you feel inclined to whip up Peanut Butter French Toast.

Peanut Butter French Toast
Not that you really need a recipe. For the Grilled Peanut Butter I used raisin bread, peanut butter and a drizzle of chocolate sundae topping to make a sandwich. Butter the outside (both sides) of your sandwich and gently fry in a non-stick skillet until nicely toasted on both sides.

For the Peanut Butter French Toast version, after constructing my raisin bread, peanut butter and chocolate sandwich, I dipped the sandwich in one beaten egg, coating well. Again, gently fry in a non-stick skillet until nicely browned on both sides. Top with syrup, whipped cream or whatever you enjoy most on pancakes or conventional French toast.

The verdict? Both were delicious, with Peanut Butter French Toast edging into a first place finish. Just something a little different for lunch (or brunch)... : )

Talk later,
Maggie

Saturday, October 18, 2014

All ready for baby! Peurperium Cardigan...

Puerperium Cardigan

Well, I had a bit of a “Ta Da!” moment last night...

Fresh off my needles, I'm pleased to introduce a sweet little newborn sweater designed by Kelly Brooker.

Entitled, Puerperium Cardigan, it's a free pattern knit all in one piece on size 4 mm needles using an 8 ply/DK weight yarn. Yeah! No sewing pieces together. It does have all those buttons to sew on, however! : )  Click here to get to Kelly's website.  She has a larger version for sale, but scroll to the bottom for the (free!) newborn pattern.

This version has short sleeves but there are directions for both straight and tapered long sleeves.  

Notice how my suitcase is packed? Yes! Any day now, a new little grandbaby! I'm ready!

Happy Saturday!
Maggie

Friday, October 10, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!


Sorry!

It's all about my stomach today.

And Thanksgiving weekend (in Canada).

Links to three (simple) “fancy” recipes you might want to make this weekend. 

Click on the titles to zip over to each website.  Enjoy!

Easy Plum Tarts

from Dinner With Julie

Puff pastry can fancy up anything!  The only downside is waiting for it to defrost.  Oh, well.  The best part?  Each one took only about 1/4 of a plum, thinly sliced.  Other fruits would work as well. Add a little ice cream or whipping cream...yum!


Braided Sausage Roll

from The Bon Appetit Diaries

In the past, using a similar recipe from The Best of Bridge, this took a loonnnggg time to bake as the filling was raw meat.  Cooking the filling first made this a quick recipe to assemble.  Be sure to follow the directions for putting the roll on a rack!  Try it once following the recipe, but experiment and try it again with your own combination of ingredients.



Maple Scones

from Dinner With Julie

This is a good basic scone recipe with two tablespoons of maple syrup in the dough.  What takes this over the top is the glaze of icing sugar and maple syrup!




Monday, October 6, 2014

5 Ingredient Thai Pumpkin Soup



While making supper the other day, I was thinking about why my interest in cooking perks up when fall arrives.  I came to the conclusion it's because I love comfort food best... stews, soups, scones and biscuits, fruit crisps and (rice) puddings.  I gravitate to those recipes. 

Not so my husband.

Sometimes, it's an issue.... : )

Now, normally my favourite soup is made from roasted vegetables, whatever's in season. My Butternut Squash Soup is a typical example. Life gets even better if I have homemade stock in the fridge.

Add meat, as in Rainbow Chicken Soup, and dumplings... Hey! It's a Full Meal Deal!  


Today's soup idea came from Foodie Crush.




That's right.  Five ingredients, all from my pantry.  That's why I'm tucking this little recipe into my book.  Sometimes, when there's not much in the fridge and you have unexpected people to feed, it's nice to have a quick, simple soup idea you can whip up at the last minute.


Notes:

The original recipe has fresh red chili peppers and uses red curry paste. I only had green curry paste and chili pepper flakes. No big deal. It still tasted good!

I enjoyed the addition of coconut milk. It was a tasty change from my other version - Pumpkin Soup for One.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

What's for Dinner? Korean Beef Bowl


Delicious...simple...few ingredients...quick to prepare...top marks in our house last night... : )

Now, this recipe has been around for a few years (at least). I found it at Kitchen Simplicity, but then found basically the same recipe at Six Sisters Stuff, Damn Delicious and Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers. The oldest version seems to go back to Lizzy Writes (May, 2010). Exciting update... Lizzy Writes has revamped her recipe and turned it into Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps!

Note: Korean Beef Bowl takes only about 20 minutes, start to finish! Put on your rice before you do anything else, or it won't be ready in time.

Korean Beef Bowl


Korean Beef Bowl

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used “less sodium” soy sauce)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

1 pound lean ground beef
2-3 cloves garlic
2 green onions, sliced

Brown ground beef in skillet. Drain off fat.
Add garlic and stir for one minute.
Stir in sauce and half of green onions.
Simmer 5 minutes.
Serve over rice and garnish with green onion.

I served this with a platter of raw vegetables, but sauteed green beans and red pepper strips would be nice. Steamed broccoli sprinkled with sesame seeds could be another option.

Delicious!

Take care,
Maggie

PS Be sure to scout around the food blogs listed above. I saw some more tasty recipes I'd like to try!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Classical Ballet : )



Classical ballet.

Highbrow?

Not always!

Click here to watch the Vienna State Opera Ballet perform...

...and have a giggle!

So well done!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Good Manners


The Calgary Eyeopener had a feature on table manners this morning. Numerous people tweeted and emailed comments about their pet peeves and gave examples of some atrocious manners they'd witnessed in public. No matter where you live, I think we'd all agree that clipping your nails while standing in a buffet line (one example this morning) is definitely over the top!

One of the points made in today's radio interview was that “the rules” are no longer so clear cut, partly because of the many different cultures represented in a typical community today. As people travel greater distances, they quickly learn there's definitely more than one way to do things!

I still remember a lesson I learned many years ago when I moved to France. Rules of Table Etiquette in France – this exact situation happened to me! Fortunately, a very kind, grandmotherly lady gently pointed me in the right direction.

I guess it all boils down to respect for others.

A few days ago, I happened upon an excellent article, 30 Manners Everyone Should Know. Please read it. It's very good!

Thank you,
Maggie


Friday, September 19, 2014

A Great Little (Buttermilk!!) Biscuit

Maggie's Great Little (Buttermilk!!) Biscuits



Last April, I shared a recipe for A Great Little Biscuit. Why was it great? It used only 1/4 cup of oil instead of the more standard butter. No doubt about it – I love butter, but using oil made these super quick to prep. In fact, they're ready before the oven's heated up.

Great just as they are, as a side for a hearty bowl of soup or chili, you can also mix it up a bit by adding raisins or Craisins...




Or, turn them into Ham and Cheese Pinwheel Biscuits...

Maggie's Ham and Cheese Pinwheel Biscuits


Today, this great little biscuit morphed into A Great Little (Buttermilk!) Biscuit. Buttermilk really kicks it up a notch! Life is good!!!

A Great Little Biscuit

2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk

Add to dry ingredients; stir with a fork until just combined.
Turn out onto a floured surface.
With floured hands, gently pat out (3/4 inch thick).
Cut out round biscuits, triangles or squares.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425ºF (ungreased cookie sheet).

Note: If you wish, add about 1/2 – 3/4 cup raisins, craisins or grated cheese. Makes about one dozen biscuits.





Monday, September 15, 2014

More cookies! Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk by Julie Van Rosendaal


We were expecting some company yesterday, so I tried a “new to me” cookie recipe recently posted by nutritionist, Julie Van Rosendaal.

Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk
A great cookie recipe by Julie Van Rosendaal


On Tuesday mornings, I enjoy listening to Julie on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One.  You can listen to her here.  She's also the author (or co-author) of six cookbooks, a freelance writer and creator of a great food blog, Dinner With Julie.

Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies – what an extraordinarily long name for a cookie!

Think “crisp oatmeal cookie with yummy overtones of peanut butter and chocolate” - very tasty! In fact, they were given a gold seal of approval by my “testers”. I'd definitely make them again.

NOTES: I followed the recipe as written, using chocolate chips (rather than chunks) and chunky peanut butter (the only kind allowed in our house) instead of smooth. The recipe makes about 3-4 dozen. They really do spread, so space them out on your cookie tray. Based on a question/answer in the comment section, I put some of the dough (shaped into balls) in the freezer to bake later as needed.

I love that little gadget!  A lot less messy than scooping
up dough with a spoon.  Freeze the balls of cookie dough
separately so they don't stick, then pop in a container.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

G.'s Refrigerator Cookies


Do you save little slips of paper like this one?

Tucked inside a book...



Memories of sitting around the kitchen table after school...

If I picked all the kids up, G. always had something hot out of the oven. A good friend.  A good deal!!


Now, look again. G. only ever wrote the ingredients! If you insisted, she'd write down the oven temperature. I'd always have to scribble my own little notes on the side.




These little guys are super easy – a very old-style cookie, probably from G.'s mother.  They'd be simple to make with kids.

G.'s Refrigerator Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Mix all at once in the mixer (about 4 minutes).
Gather dough and divide into four balls.
Roll each ball into a snake shape.
Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, parchment paper or wax paper.
Refrigerate.
Slice and bake at 300 degrees C for 12 minutes.
Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.
Recipe can be easily halved. 

Chocolate cookies: Melt and mix 2 squares of unsweetened
chocolate into dough.



Want something a little fancier? Whisk a small drizzle of maraschino juice into a heaping tablespoon of icing sugar. Spread a little on each cookie and add sprinkles.



Or, instead of slicing your cookies, take a teaspoon of dough, roll into a ball and flatten into a disk. Press one side firmly into rainbow sprinkles. Bake as described above.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Learning to Knit? Three Easy Fingerless Glove Patterns!

Maggie's Crocheted
Fingerless Gloves





Well, Mother Nature made her point very clear this week in southern Alberta. 


Yes, she's in charge. 


Snow, sleet and a nasty temperature dip after a lovely late summer weekend.  : (











Maggie's Knit
Fingerless Gloves




My tomatoes are grumpy over my insistence that they wear sheets at night...

...and I'm grumpy about needing to wear a jacket and fingerless gloves! 

I still have (and wear) the two pairs of fingerless gloves I crocheted and knit in the fall of 2012. I love them because they're tiny enough to tuck into my jacket pockets and always have on hand (pun intended).

Link to crocheted gloves here.

Link to knit gloves here.





Looking for my gloves, however, reminded me that I forgot to tell you about a great little pattern I found this summer.  Even better, this pattern comes with a great little video from one of my favourite knitting websites, Very Pink.  Quick to complete, they were a perfect birthday treat for my sister.  If you want to learn to knit, you really need to check out this website and the mitts would make a wonderful first project. 

A great "free" pattern from
Very Pink


For wool I used Malabrigo Rios Yarn (871 Playa). I mention that because it's a wonderful pure marino superwash wool made in Peru.

Rio means 'river' in Spanish. Malabrigo Rios is named after the four major rivers in Uruguay: Rio Cuareim, Rio Uruguay, Rio de la Plata, and Rio Negro. Each river is represented by one ply. These plies twist together like winding rivers. Rios also signifies the yarn's washability; for millennia, rivers have provided water for washing garments.”

Makes you look at a ball of wool in a new light, doesn't it? If you're looking for wool to go with demin, this is it!

Side note....



My original plan was a little hoodie for my grandson. However, by the time I got through the back, I realized I did not have nearly enough wool. Too late to buy more (and it would have cost a fortune to buy enough). Oh, well. I learned a lesson about yards vs grams and substituting yarns!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Salvadorian Breakfast Cakes




We've just returned from our annual trip to “the Lake” - a good time, a family time, a relaxing time. An almost “Internet Free” vacation, unless you're willing to walk up to the top of the road with your phone... : )

Back here in southern Alberta, after yesterday's monsoon, summer seems to be on on the edge of being over. A bit sad to think about that...

I do, however, want to share an amazing recipe my daughter whipped up. Salvadorian Breakfast Cakes. Buttery, rich, a satisfying nibble indeed! These are dense little cakes to be enjoyed with a fresh cup of coffee. Yum!

Salvadorian Breakfast Cakes


My daughter discovered the recipe at food52, but I was able to trace it back to the original posting by Sasha at Global Table Adventure, a site worth exploring. Sasha's post is a full photo tutorial. She actually won first prize for this recipe in food52's Gluten-Free Baking competition.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Up-cycle? Yes!

Hello there! What an amazingly busy week! Decluttering, cleaning closets, trips to the recycling centre and Goodwill, so satisfying and so much accomplished.

I'm also pleased with this little "up-cycle" project.... a new cushion cover from an old denim skirt!

Now, what else can I up-cycle around here?!?




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Panna Cotta Update


Sorry!

Too late!

All gone!

I mentioned last week that we'd had a lovely dessert a friend made – Panna Cotta, a smooth, creamy, sinfully rich Italian treat. I tried it myself tonight and tested it out at a family gathering. It was a huge success.

This dessert is extremely easy and quick to prep ahead of time. I followed the All Recipes video and recipe directions. Joy of Baking has a very similar version and an excellent video as well. I used six tea cups but wine glasses or ramekins would also work well. Just before serving, I poured a teaspoon or two of raspberry syrup on top and added some fresh raspberries. 

Yum!