Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Apple Dip

This past weekend I was part of a crafting Saturday - which I was really excited to go to, and got to have my cousin, Radelle with me! How fun is that!

One of the classes I signed up for was a popcorn seasoning and ice cream topping class - I really don't sit down and eat a ice cream or popcorn very often, but I always have to have something on it when I do - I knew this was the perfect class. What I was not quite prepared for was the awesome recipes we got for a whole scad of items. This apple dip I just made for a party I had last night and seriously - it is TO DIE FOR! I love apples anyways and find they often hit the spot when a late night craving starts. And having this dip now - despite it not being healthy in ANY way...mmm, I think I could eat it by the spoonful! I won't....but I could ;)

Apple Dip

1 pkg cream cheese (8oz)
1 tsp vanilla (I only used 1/2 tsp)
2 Tbsp milk
3/4 cup non-packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2/3 cup skor bits or 1 cup chopped pecans (DEFINITELY go with the skor bits!)

Refrigerate for 2 hours.

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS - HANDS DOWN!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I love Barley...

I like the convenience of Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup packs....I don't like the high salt and msg content, but I make it anyways. LOL My kids DEVOUR it. So a while back (a year ago or more) I started making it with veggies...I boil a bunch of chopped veggies (onions, carrots, celery, potatoes sometimes, and more recently leeks) for about 30 minutes and then add the soup mix. At least this way I feel like there is some good stuff in it.

This past week, however I was sick....and I didn't want to eat the noodles....So instead I made a vegetable stock (boiling the veggies chunks for 30 minutes or more) - no potatoes this time - and added some barley instead. One thing to remember though is that Barley soaks up quite a bit of water so be sure to compensate accordingly. I added a few tsp of chicken broth and away I went. I'm looking to buy big tubs of vegetable broth but haven't found the knorr stuff here yet.

anyways - Brent had some for dinner that night and said partway through,  "You know, I could eat soup like this every night" - To which I replied, "Good because I plan to make a ton of it this winter!" LOL...Turns out - he loves barley like I love barley. Delicious!!!

A quick and easy meal that you are bound to have most of the ingredients for. Pick up some barley on your next grocery trip (it's sooo cheap) and keep it on hand just in case. I actually added some to the lipton soup for the kids just to give something extra to it. They didn't even notice!!!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 4 1/2 STARS!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

My new Favorite Vegetarian Recipe

This recipe comes from my sister in law, Sarah.  Last time she was here to visit she brought her recipes (THANKS!) and this was one she said is among her favorites. Now I know why!

Risotto with Mushrooms and Dried Tomatoes

2 1/2 - 3 cups chicken stock (I made my own instead of buying pre-made - you could use Veg broth too if you wanted..oh and I did 3 cups)
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped (I used 1 leek as I couldn't find any shallots)
1 cup Arborio rice (I found a small bag at Wal mart for $2.77 - best price I'd seen so far...Unico brand)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
4 oz brown or white button mushrooms, sliced (I used white...about 5 mushrooms)
1/3 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (I don't even like tomatoes - but I would not leave these out...delish)
salt and fresh pepper
1/4 cup grated parm (I didn' use)
minced fresh basil (I didn't use)

boil stock, reduce and simmer. In another saucepan, heat butter and oil over medium-low heat, add shallots (leek in my case) and cook until translucent. Add rice (yes dry) and cook, stir until opaque (3-4 minutes). Add 1/2 cup stock and lemon zest - cook until stock is absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup stock, mushrooms, tomatoes, and cook - stirring until absorbed. Repeat, adding 1/2 cup of stock 2 more times (I used all the stock I had made). Continue until rice is al dente in center and creamy on the outside. Season with salt and pepper (I never add salt and added just a small amount of pepper). Sprinkle with Cheese and Basil (didn't have either of these so did not add them).

This was seriously SO delicious...in fact I served my husband first as he was off to do some work on a friend's garage and before I even had the chance to check with him on how it was he called to me saying, "Hun, this is GREAT!" - He LOVED it! I absolutely LOVE making meals he devours - proud wife moment for sure! :D

**Note: This would be a really easy dish to add chunks of chicken to if you wanted....though it really doesn't need it.**

I served this with two side dishes - although Brent only likes one of them. I make sweet potatoes purely for myself. You can find the recipe HERE.
I also made some Green Beans from the new Spatulatta cookbook I bought. It's got recipes tried and tested (and made) by kids which I think is great - I was also impressed there was a vegetarian section. I know Brent loves green beans and since we both like garlic as well, I figured this dish was a sure hit. I was right!

Green Beans with Garlic

1 pound green beans, washed with ends trimmed
1/4 cup water
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp margarine or olive oil

Place trimmed beans in a microwave safe bowl. Add water and cover, microwaving on high until just tender - about 5 minutes. While the beans are cooking, mince the garlic. Melt the butter or oil (I admit, I used butter for more flavor) in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute about 2-3 minutes - or until you smell the delicious garlic. When the beans are ready, remove them from the microwave (be careful, the dish will be HOT!) and put them in the skillet - pour out any excess water first. Stir the beans gently until they are coated with the garlic butter/oil. Mmmmmm!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS (both the risotto and the green beans...and the sweet potatoes for me!)

Delish!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's all about creativity!

Leftovers can be so fun....I don't often like to eat the exact same meal night after night until the leftovers are gone, so I'm always trying to think of something new to do with the food.

We had a fun retreat last weekend where there was a lot of leftover food. I was able to take a container of veggies home which i was really excited about. I wasn't really sure saturday night what to do for dinner but I knew I didn't want to make a huge meal. But I also knew I wanted to eat some of the veggies....Sooo....I made a wrap!

The veggie mix included, broccoli, snap peas, cauliflower, carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, and zucchini. So I warmed some up and put them in a tortilla shell. I know - nothing special...buuut, I added on top a sauce I LOVE.

Mix 1 part mayo/miracle whip to 2 parts sour cream, sugar to taste and a dash of garlic powder. This dressing/sauce can be used for so many things...donairs, nachos and cheese (a fave), and wraps. This sauce MADE the wrap soo delicious, I could have easily eaten two...but I didn't. :)

Then I also have a ton of leftovers from THIS recipe. I took some of the pork and fried it up with some sliced red peppers and onions (I used a touch of olive oil but otherwise used the sauce from the meat). I placed it in half of a tortilla shell and topped with some cheese - folded in half and fried in a frying pan for *pork quessadillas*. I served it with the above sour cream/mayo mixture and salsa. Brent LOVED it!

Tomorrow I plan to use the remaining pork and make the Chicken enchiladas tomorrow. I'll be adding the leftover black beans as well (I LOVE black beans) and possibly using some of the cafe rio dressing in the sauce as well. We'll see.

It's nothing major - but it can really help out if you are willing to be creative and try new things. I remember one time buying the wrong pitas from a local bread store. We ended up getting greek pitas which don't open :( But I decided to try them as individual pizzas and they were AWESOME! Now we often buy the Naan Bread (bags of about 6 I think - I love the garlic ones best) to make pizzas at home. We did it for Brooklyn's 3rd birthday party and everyone was able to make their own pizza - it was great!

So what's in your fridge? And - what else can it be?? Try something new - you might surprise yourself!

Cafe Rio Recipe!

My sister in law, Rachelle, made this for her 5 year old's birthday party. It was DIVINE and I have been thinking about it since. So we got all the ingredients together and I made it this past Sunday. mmmmm...although I think my blender didn't get the cilantro quite as good as I would have liked so it was a bit too cilantro-y for me....but still super delicious!

Pork:
4 lbs roast
1 cup salsa
1 cup brown sugar
1 can sprite
1 Tbsp dry mustard (I used regular mustard because I am out of dry)
4 cloves garlic, minced (handy chopper!)

Place all in the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. I chose to do it on low for 8 and shredded it with forks at about the 6 hour mark, then left it in the sauce for the last 2.

Rice:
3 cups water
4 tsp chicken bouillon
4 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro (I put about 1/8 of a bunch in, if that)
1 can green chilies
1 tsp salt (I didn't put it in - I imagine the bouillon has enough salt anyways)
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion
3 cups rice

Blend all ingredients with 1 cup of water and add to pot of rice and remaining water. I used my rice cooker instead of doing it on stovetop. It worked great.

Dressing:
1 large jalapeno, seeded (don't forget to seed it....)
4 cloves garlic
4 shakes of tabasco
1/2 cup green salsa (Safeway Select Brand Salsa Verde)
Juice of 1 lime
bunch of cilantro (again, I hardly put any)
1 package of ranch dressing mix1 1/2 cups of sour cream
1 cup mayo

Blend everything except the mayo and sour cream until green pieces are little. Then stir in mayo and sour cream.

On your plate layer:
rice, meat, black beans (rinsed and drained), guacamole, fresh salsa (or store bought if you prefer), grated cheese, lettuce, and the dressing. Crumble taco chips in the mix too and ENJOY! Don't dish up a lot at first - I promise it won't look like much but quickly becomes a mass amount. And with the rice, it's sooo filling.

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS

Lentil Soup

Yep - ANOTHER soup. We actually have leftovers from the dinner I made the other night but I plan to make those into enchiladas tomorrow and wanted to get out of making lunch for Brent tomorrow. LOL So I whipped this soup up - sooo fast!

1/4 cup red lentils
1/4 cup brown lentils (only had red so used 1/2 cup)
1/4 split peas
1/4 cup ABC pasta (optional - I added barley instead)
1 whole onion, peeled and chopped
5 cups water
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced (I forgot to add these)
2 potatoes, chopped or diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (I only had 1 left, so I used 1 veg and 1 chicken)

Combine and heat lentils, peas, water, and onions in a pot for 45 minutes. Add other ingredients and cook another 20 minutes. Serve. I added some pepper and additional water to make it a bit more brothy (especially with the barley in the soup). Delicious....You could add a pinch of cayenne pepper if you wanted it a little spicey...or play around with some other spices too. I also added some diced red pepper and would probably add corn next time too. Great winter meal!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 4 1/2 STARS

Hearty Vegetable Soup

Another recipe coming from the book *Original Fast Foods* - I'm really into the soup thing lately...they are hearty, perfect for a cool day, and best of all - sooo fast!

6 cups water
3 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 onion, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 stalks celery, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, and simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Blend 1/3 of the contents in blender, and add back to thicken soup. You may add whole-weat noodles at the end to make the soup *kid friendly* and your favorite spices to add some zip. I used about 1/3 cup of alphabet noodles and next time will add some more spices. But otherwise - this soup was great!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 4 STARS

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

IT'S A GIVEAWAY YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS!

If you are into eating healthy and getting your kids to, check out this fabulous giveaway at a website my cousin told me about (thanks radelle!!!).

Check it out HERE

I am really hoping to win - but can't decide between the sprout garden and the smoothie maker, although I'll likely choose the sprout garden. I LOOOVE sprouts! And the idea of growing our own is exciting to me...

And while I'm at it - check out the giveaway on my giveaways blog....THIS one is also worth entering.

Check it out HERE

Happy Week to you all....more recipes to come!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tomato Walnut Sauce

I forgot to add this recipe HERE, so here it is!

Tomato Walnut Sauce
1 cup apple juice (fresh)
1 onion, chopped fine
2 tsp oregano or Spice Hunter Italian Seasoning
1 29 oz can of pureed tomatoes (no salt added)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 lb fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped

Saute the onion in apple juice until it is translucent. Add seasoning and tomatoes, and cook for 20 minutes on medium heat. Add walnuts and chopped spinach, and simmer until spinach is wilted (2-3 minutes). Pour over whole grain pasta, rice, or baked potatoes.

Burrito Enchiladas - the verdict!

Tonight was the night...after thinking about THESE all night I couldn't wait to make them today.

After lunch was made, eaten, and cleaned up - I set out to make another mess (my poor kitchen!). I creamed the beans, mixed the sauce, and sauteed the onions and mushrooms. I used white tortilla shells because we have some on  hand that should be used up and I personally prefer white ones for enchiladas (I prefer whole wheat for my lunchtime veggie wraps). I kept about 1/4 of the beans whole, but would probably do more next time.

First off - the creamed beans recipe makes A LOT! I have 4 ziploc bags filled half full of it in the freezer. LOL I added a can of green chilies which was nice. But I definitely recommend doing a *fresh* spice bouquet as I think there was something a big too strong from using the dried ones. A little trickier to *remove* as well (I didn't even try to be honest). The rice - good but made the inside of the enchilada a bit too dry....Next time I would add sauce to the inside of it as well and less rice than I put in each one (so about 2 Tbsp). I also added cheese inside each one and topped at the end of cooking in the oven. I added some chili powder to the sauce, trying to make it more like the one from THIS enchilada recipe. And I also thickened it a bit with water and cornstarch - otherwise it's much too runny.

They were good...not great...I would doctor it quite a bit next time so may perhaps come up with my own recipe. I did not top with green onions, corn, and olives - although I would do the green onions next time because I LOVE them (I actually just forgot to tonight). And I did add about a cup of corn to the bean mixture just because :) I don't think salsa would be great on top of these (the sauce is enough) - same with the guacamole (even though I LOVE guacamole).

I also made up a second batch of sauce (from the other enchilada recipe) for the inside of our enchiladas - they were just too dry and one spice from the beans was too potent not to. A filling meal though and definitely enjoyable enough - but not TO DIE FOR, at least not as the recipe stands.

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 3 STARS

Stuffed Pasta Shells - kids lunch today

I love finding ways of putting veggies into food. Things like squash, pumpkin, and other veggies are so good and can be pretty easy to *hide*. Although my kids are really pretty good at eating their veggies I still like finding ways that make it a bit easier for them to eat even more . This was another way to do just that - and using butternut squash, which I love.

Stuffed Pasta Shells (from Original Fast Foods)
1 lb large whole grain pasta shells
2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (I only used 1 squash)
2 cups apple juice (fresh) - I did not use fresh

Cook pasta shells, rinse and drain and set aside to cool while squash is cooking. Combine squash and apple juice in saucepan and cook until tender. Add contents to a blender and blend until creamy. Spoon mixture into cooled pasta shells and place into baking dish and cover with tomato walnut sauce (I just used spaghetti sauce but you can find the recipe HERE). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and Enjoy!

I cooked the squash in the oven first to soften it. Cutting in half lengthwise, spoon out the *guts* and lay face down on a sprayed (pam) cookie sheet. Cooke for 15-20 minutes at 350. Let cool and skin and cube. Cook in apple juice and blend as described. So the shells we bought were not really *stuffable* so instead I just mixed the squash/apple juice mixture in with the spaghetti sauce. And I topped with a bit of cheese because, well cheese makes everything taste better. LOL

AWESOME!!! It was seriously awesome! My daughter asked for seconds and both my friend and I had a small side of it with our Tabbouleh. I'm really excited about this - considering the only other way I cook butternut squash is with butter and brown sugar - DELISH but definitely not *healthy*. LOL

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS

Great day of Great food :)

A few weeks ago we had a potluck get together. One lady brought the most delicious pita mix that my friend and I just HAD to have the recipe for. So today we finally made it for lunch and boy was it good :) (and boy did it ever make a lot!!)



Tabbouleh
 (Wheat Berry Salad)


§        3 cups dry wheat berries (We just used a small box of couscous - we boiled it in water but next     time will likely do chicken or vegetable stock instead)

§        1 medium white onion finely diced
§        2 ribs of celery finely diced (optional)
§        ½ bunch of cilantro finely chopped - I detest fresh cilantro but put it in anyways - you can't tell!!!

§        1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, cut each in half lengthwise. (Diced roma tomatoes works too.) - we used 1/2 a pint because I don't like tomatoes, but in this you hardly notice they are there.

§        ¼ cup lemon juice
§        3 tablespoon canola oil
§        1 tsp salt (or to taste)



1.    Soak wheat berries overnight in lots of cold water. (The wheat will more than double in size while soaking.) Slowly cook wheat berries until they begin to pop out of their coatings and are chewy to the tooth - the wheat will more than double in bulk when cooking. Rinse cooked wheat in cold water until all heat is gone. 

  In a large bowl combine onions, celery, cilantro, tomatoes and lemon juice. Toss gently so as not to mash the tomatoes.


5.    Add as much cooked wheat as you see the above ingredients will take.


6.    Before serving pour the oil over the tabbouleh and mix well.


N Note:  I like to combine everything except the wheat first to see how much wheat to use.  The cooked wheat can always be frozen to use another time, or some people like hot cooked wheat with milk and sugar, just like porridge.


. 
     MAST-E XIAR
(YOGURT DIP)




1 quart container of plain yogurt       
1 English cucumber
1 bunch of fresh dill or 3 Tablespoon of dried dill or crushed mint
Salt to taste
3 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced



§        Peel and dice cucumber
§        Peel and mash garlic with salt (we did not mash with salt)

§        If you are using the fresh dill; remove stem and chop
§        Pour yogurt into a dish
§        Add cucumbers, dill and garlic
§        Stir well


As an appetizer for a party, use mini pitas. We used large ones (each had half) for lunch today and it was great! Next time we plan to use the handy chopper for the garlic, cucumber, and dill instead of chopping it all. :) You could also just mix it all up like a salad and skip the bread/pita altogether - or throw in some ripped up pita and eat it that way (definitely less messy lol)



SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS!!!





Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Burrito Enchiladas

CHECK OUT THE RATING HERE

I love me some enchiladas :D So when I happened upon this recipe (from Original Fast Foods) I knew I had to try it!

I was hoping to make it this evening for supper, but it turns out the creamed beans have to be cooked for 8 hours before you can *cream* them - so it'll have to wait until tomorrow. :(

Here's the Recipe for the creamed beans - and then I'll post the enchilada recipe :)

Creamed Beans (yield 8 cups)
4 cups dried pinto beans or dried black beans (I used black)
Enough water to cover beans (at least 2 inches)
1 large onion or 2 medium onions, chopped
2-4 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced (I just did 3 cloves)
1-2 tsp sea salt (optional - I did not add this)
1 herb bouque made from parsley, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves (I did not have fresh herbs so added about 1 1/2 tsp of each - we'll see how it turns out)

Soak your choice of beans overnight, then drain and rinse. Place beans in slow cooker with onions, herbs, and garlic. Cover with water by at least 2 inches and cook for 8 hours, adding water as necessary. After beans are cooked, remove herb bouquet (I will just have to strain mine out I think), pour off any remaining water and reserve for blending. Place half the beans in a blender and blend until smooth. Add reserved cook water as needed. Return blended beans to slow cooker and mix well. You can blend all beans if you want them 100% creamy.

Burrito Enchiladas
10 to 12 tortillas (I bought whole wheat ones)
5 cups creamed beans (see recipe above)
4 cups cooked brown rice (I am just using the rice we have...kokuho I think)
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup olives, sliced (will be leaving out)
1 recipe, salsa (will make my own epicure fruit salsa which I LOVE)
1 recipe guacamole (will also make my own - will post recipe after)
1 recipe red or white enchilada sauce (I will be making the red but will post both options below)

Saute onion and mushrooms in vegetable broth and set aside. Pour 2 cups of enchilada sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Spread beans, rice, and mushrooms down the center of each tortilla. Roll and place seam side down in dish. Pour remaining sauce over tortillas. Sprinkle with green onions, corn, and olives. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Garnish with salsa and guacamole - Enjoy! (I am seriously bummed as I want to eat this now!!)

NOTE: I will be adding shredded cheese in them as well and may even add a can of green chilies to the mix as well. We'll see :)

Guacamole #1 (from the book)
3-4 ripe avocados
2 tomatoes, diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice

Guacamole #2 (the one I'll be using - from Company's Coming Mexican)
4 ripe avocados
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise/miracle whip
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt (I don't put this in)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I don't put this in)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (I don't put this in either)

**This recipe can be frozen if you have not put the tomatoes in**

Red Enchilada Sauce (the one I'll be using)
4 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock (I'll be using vegetable stock)
1 8 oz can tomato paste
1 cup celery minced (use the handy chopper machine)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard (I will have to use regular mustard as I am out of dry)

Add water/veg stock and tomato paste in saucepan on medium-high heat and whisk until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

White Enchilada Sauce
2 21 oz cans coconut milk
1-2 cups cilantro, chopped
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 limes, juiced
1 pinch of salt
3-5 Tbsp Ultra Gel (any grain based thickener)

Combine all ingredients except Ultra Gel in a blender and blend until smooth. Bring to a slow boil and then simmer in a sauce pan until sauce is slightly thickened (30-40 minutes). Add 3-5 Tbsp Ultra Gel until desired thickness is achieved.

So as mentioned - this will be dinner tomorrow night!! I am sooo excited! Will let you know the verdict when we've tried it and will note any alterations I make :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stuffed Pasta Shells

I'll be trying this Wednesday for Lunch for the kids I think....and possibly for dinner too with a couple of sides.

This comes from the Original Fast Foods book. I'll let you know any changes once I make it :)

1 lb large whole grain pasta shells
2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 cups apple juice (fresh)

Cook pasta shells, rinse and drain and set aside to cool while squash is cooking. Combine squash and apple juice in a saucepan and cook until tender. Add contents to blender and blend until creamy. Spoon the squash mixture into cooled pasta shells. Place stuffed pasta shells into baking dish and cover with tomato walnut sauce (they have a recipe for this, I'll likely be using regular tomato sauce). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes....I'll also probably put some cheese on as well....but we'll see..

Rating to come :)

Oh Salata!!!

I love a good salad....the more ingredients - the better it is. Loads of veggies, sometimes hardboiled eggs (not the yolk as I *really* do not like the yolk), croutons, craisins (divine) or other fruit, and sometimes chicken strips. I recently purchased a box of grilled chicken strip slices from M&M's and am THRILLED! I can just grab a few from the resealable bag and fry them up (in nothing - not oil or marg...) and throw them in my salad. So I intend on doing this every once in a while. I always add cheese - always....I loooove cheese (addict). And a lot of times I make my own dressing which is nice because it's not processed, but some of the recipes also have a pretty high amount of sugar so it isn't really that healthy. THEN I discovered this beauty...my parents received it as a gift from a lady they know and am I ever glad they did. I LOVE it and use it all the time. I'm really excited to try it on my veggie wraps - I think I'll marinate the veggies and just throw them in my wrap just like that. (no mayo=even healthier!)


The ingredients are Water, Spirit Vinegar, Wine Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Dill, Tarragon, Wort, and Caramel.

Nothing I can't pronounce....nothing horrible....and it's all mixed together and is seriously SCRUMPTIOUS!! LOL

Nutritional Information (per Tbsp) - ZERO calories, ZERO fat, ZERO cholesterol, 200mg sodium, ONEg carbs, and ONEg of sugars. (and zero fibre and protein - and vitamins a &c, calcium and iron...just so I'm not giving only half the information).

I absolutely LOVE this dressing. If you are looking for it - it's not directly in the salad dressing section...a little further past - by the vinegars I think (it's a seasoned vinegar dressing). I paid $5.00 for my first bottle (750 mL) but then found it at Wal-Mart for $3.50 (gotta love Wal-mart!)

Seriously - go try some.....it's delicious!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS

OVERHAUL...

I absolutely love Thanksgiving...it's such a great preview to Christmas - I love spending time with family and of course I LOVE the food (LOVE LOVE LOVE). It's pretty much the only time of year (that and christmas of course) I get super stuffed. Generally speaking, I despise the feeling of being stuffed to the rim - ugh, it just makes me mad. But Thanksgiving and Christmas are great occassions to let my guard down. So now - instead of 30 lbs to lose, I am confident I have 35. *ack* Hence the overhaul.

We were with Brent's family for Saturday (mine for sunday) and EVERYONE was there. It was so fun! Sarah, our newest sister in law is a *mostly* vegetarian, with the exception of fish, which she eats fairly often. Interestingly, she was just at the dr getting some bloodwork done and the dr was BLOWN AWAY at her results. All of her levels were perfect, including her iron which she mentioned she was a little worried about (simply because of being veg). I'm super impressed.

I truly do love to eat healthy...all the fruits and vegetables - I get excited when my house is well stocked. (that being said - I love eating the *crap* too...have you tried the new Angry Whopper from BK?? oh.my.word. soooo good!!!!) So I'm making a change - a major overhaul....My plan is to not only change our portions but to look at what we're eating as well. Fish is not my favorite but I am committed to making and eating it more. It's not something I hate, so truly I can make the decision to eat it. I'm hoping I'll learn to love it. And since Brooklyn discovered last night that she *loves shrimp now* and ate about 1/4 of a shrimp ring, I'm hoping to cook with it more as well. I always use lots of veggies when I make a meal so thankfully that won't be a huge adjustment. And I will likely throw in bits of chicken or beef in some meals for Brent. But for the most part I'd like to eat vegetarian...I'd say about 80%, but for now that might not be accurate. We'll see.

For lunches my plan is:
Veggie Wraps and CousCous Pitas (recipe to come)

For dinners (and as leftover lunches if successful):
Stuffed Pasta Shells, Risotto with mushrooms and dried tomatoes (Sarah's recipe), Potato Salad, Grilled Veggies, Stir Fry, Burrito enchiladas (soo excited to try these), Lentil Soup (it's getting to be that time of year), Harvest Vegetable Soup, Vegetarian Chili, and Cheezy Broccoli Soup.

A lot of these recipes have come from a book I've had for a while but never really jumped into (although wanted to, just never did. I'm soooo excited to try some of these recipes and hopefully have some more to add to my collection. The book is called *Original Fast Foods* and is really rather fascinating. Check out the website HERE to learn more about eating more *natural* foods (ie not processed) and the health benefits from doing so.

Brent and my brother were watching some documentary the other night - it involved a *mcdonald's diet test* and I'm sure I've seen it before...I'm also pretty sure I don't want to see it again. LOL It was SO gross...The *test subject* LOL started eating mcdonald's for EVERY meal. In just FIVE days he gained TEN POUNDS!!! SICK-O-RAMA  Then they showed an animated version of how the chicken nuggets are made/processed....and then showed the ingredients list. OH.MY.WORD. It was about 60 items long....for breaded chicken!!! I don't think we'll be going there for a looooong time *ugh*

So between my usual resolve to do better after spending time with Sarah (I was so excited she brought some recipes for me) and this documentary....I'm pretty pumped to try some new *healthier* recipes. And I'm also finally digging out some recipe books I have on the shelf but haven't really used (Original Fast Foods and Deceptively Delicious).

Brent just left with my long list of groceries - I'm so excited for when he comes back :) We'll see how many of the items he actually buys. hehe

And so - I suppose let's post some recipes :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

If you are in the states...

And you want to coupon - Check out Brent's cousin's blog HERE for some awesome tips! She has been saving up a storm since July and doesn't show any signs of slowing down  :)

And for my fabulous canadian readers - sign up on the following sites to receive your coupons and let me know when they come in. It's easier to explain the stacking when you have them in front of you -

Save.ca - sign up - these coupons will be mailed to you. Gets sets for family and friends and snag theirs too :)

Brandsaver.ca - sign up - these coupons will also be mailed to you, and as with save.ca, get copies for family and friends as well.

rightathome.ca - these are printable straight from your printer at home. Print a few sets :)

Let me know when they arrive. Remember - these coupons can be used on sale items, and in fact I try to never use them on a regular priced item....I have though - because sometimes my coupons stack so brilliantly I only have to pay 99cents for an item - and THAT isn't too bad :)

Happy thanksgiving :) I will be posting recipes in the coming week. Oh and you'll notice my savings ticker on the side that I've just added. Crazy savings in just over a week if you ask me! Too bad it wasn't really *money in my pocket*

Friday, October 2, 2009

OVER A MONTH???

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted. It's not for lack of cooking....I've just been insanely busy. Working on reorganizing my business (with my friend Megan), Cute Like Me, getting our reviews and giveaways blog moving smoothly (check it out HERE), and most recently learning how to coupon!!! Yep - here in Canada!! I'm ECSTATIC!!! In fact, just today I went and bought shampoo as I've been out for a few days. I'm still washing my hair, don't worry - but using Brent's Gilette shampoo is just not quite cutting it. So I went into London Drugs (they let you coupon stack) with my handy coupons and spent $1.38 on shampoo AND conditioner...Pantene Pro-V :) I'll be heading back tomorrow to get a couple more sets. They were marked down to $3.99 each plus I had a swack of coupons to help me. How awesome is that!!!

So I will also be adding my tips (as I learn along the way from my trust friend) and finds...and will be adding a savings ticker to keep track of the money I save. I'm going back to tomorrow to get more shampoo and conditioner (I have more coupons) as well as some gilette stuff and old spice stuff. Sooo excited!

Will keep you updated. Also - tomorrow is the b-day party for our kids (all of B's friends have siblings the same age as J, so it's silly to do two parties) and we'll be having loads of snacks so lots of recipes to post :)

Soooooo fun!!!!

Stay tuned! Life is only getting more exciting!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Taco Soup night for sure

I am not ready to say goodbye to summer yet...but I can't deny that I love these cozy cool days where you just hunker down and watch videos and get some housework done. Maybe I don't love the housework part, but I sure enjoy it more than on hot days when I'd rather be outside with the kids. The other thing I love about these kind of days - is cooking. I love making soups and other hearty meals that make me feel like we are in a cabin in the woods with nothing but our family. I think of days spent on the ski hill (I'm a self proclaimed lodge bunny who would rather be in the lodge cooking than going down the hill on one or two *sticks* lol), hunting (again, I'd be in the cabin), or just a day spent at the hill with a bunch of families taking the kids tobagganing (I'd definitely be joining in for this...it would be a crockpot day for sure!). And while we are doing none of the above 3 things, today is definitely one of those days. The only thing that would make it better is if Brent had the day off. Oh well...at least we get to spend the evening together.

I got this taco soup recipe from a cookbook my aunt gave me. Her Relief Society group put it together - it is one of my favorite cookbooks. Real people cooking Real recipes with Real food. Stuff I typically have on hand already and food our family will love. This recipe is awesome...I love the flavour, the consistency...and I LOVE anything topped with sour cream.

2 lbs hamburger
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 taco seasoning packages
3 tsp chili powder
1 (10oz) can beef broth
1 (15 oz) can tomato paste
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can green chilis
1 can mixed vegetables (I just used a can of corn)
Grated cheese

Brown hamburger with onion and garlic; add taco seasoning. chili powder, and green chilis. Put in a big pot and add the rest of the ingredients and a can or more of water to desired consistency. Let head on stove and serve with sour cream, grated cheese, and tortilla chips.

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RECIPE: 5 STARS - this is a must try recipe!

Sour Cream and Chicken Enchiladas

I have always loved - LOVED - chicken enchiladas. The way they look fresh out of the oven - makes my mouth water. Unfortunately for me, my husband isn't a huge fan. He much prefers his sister's enchiladas, which I can't blame him for. They are DIVINE! But I don't really think they can be compared - chicken vs hamburger. I love both...equally I'd say....for different reasons.

When I saw my cousin Kym's recipe for her Chicken Enchiladas I knew I wanted to try them. They really are pretty similar to the other recipes I've tried over the years, except for the southwest or cajun seasoning for the chicken. I knew I should have doubled the sauce recipe like I normally do, but even still - these were delicious. Brent chose to eat the leftover soup from the night before which was fine by me. More for my tummy :D I also had a friend over (and her husband stopped by after work later that night and also enjoyed a couple) and another friend for lunch the next day - this meal was definitely enjoyed! Here's how you do it:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 3 and cubed them pretty small)
2 Tbsp oil
1 package southwest or Cajun seasoning (I just bought cajun seasoning and sprinkled the chicken while I cooked it - not sure how much...maybe 1-2 Tbsp?)
1 small can green chilis or 1/2 cup salsa (I used green chilis)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2-1 cup milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
10 large flour tortillas (the 3 chicken breasts gave me enough to fill 8)

Heat oil in large skillet. Add chicken and seasoning and cook until no longer pink inside. Just use garlic and salt if you can't find seasoning - I used my garlic salt with parsley in addition to the cajun seasoning.

Mix remaining ingredients together in large bowl. Dip each tortilla into sauce to coat both sides (I did not do this, figured it would be too messy). Place about 1/4 cup chicken down center of tortilla and roll up, laying seam down in pan. I always put a bit of the sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish so they don't stick. I also put a bit of sauce inside each tortilla along with a small topping of grated cheese :). Pour remainder of sauce on enchiladas and bake for 35 minutes at 350. Then I throw a bit more grated cheese on the top (remember, I'm a cheese addict. lol) and it's ready to serve. DELICIOUS!!! I served this with orange almond salad - nothing else is really needed. It was perfect.

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS - FOR SURE!!!

Crockpot Corn

Corn is not one of those things I tend to think there are a lot of different ways to prepare it. It's just...corn. I have been known to add it to my fried rice, or even to a salad (with ranch dressing usually)...but as far as preparing it on its own, it's usually just a pot of corn. My auntie Glenda (also fabulous) submitted this recipe to our family cookbook and it sounded kind of fun I had to try it. Plus, I love using the crockpot...minimum input, maximum output!

5 cups frozen corn
1 small can of green chilis (4oz)
5 hot diced jalapenos - fresh or canned....seeded and diced
1 cup sour cream with chives (if you can't find sour cream with chives, just add a little green onions - that's what I did)

Put in crockpot and stir. Heat on low for about 3 hours or on high for 1 1/2 hours. You can also put it in the oven at 250 for 3 hours or 350 for 1 1/2 hours if you don't have a crockpot. It was good...something different....and I love the kick to it. And really I love anything with sour cream in it (There have been times I've made tacos JUST for the sour cream). This is probably one of those recipes I'll make a couple of times a year - it's not one we are DYING for...but it was definitely worth trying and certainly yummy.

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 4 STARS

7-Up BBQ chicken

This sounded interesting to me....while not a lot of ingredients, the idea of marinating in pop was something I haven't thought to do. So I had to try this recipe. This comes from my other fabulous cousin, Trina.

2 cups 7-Up (I actually used Sprite....but think they are pretty much the same...who knows, maybe it would make a difference??)
1 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp horse radish (I would probably put in 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 or more chicken breasts, cut up into strips (I did not cut into strips and instead left them whole - I slice them though so the marinade can soak into it better)

Marinate overnight and cook on the BBQ!

Okay so we only had a few hours so that's all they marinated for. I don't know if it makes it more flavourful or not, but I'd definitely try it again and do it longer. The chicken was good, not great...and didn't have much other flavour than the soy sauce. I'm really interested to play around with this recipe. I think it could be awesome - I probably just rushed it.

I served this with sweet potatoes, orange almond salad, and corn I had made the night before (oo that's the next recipe)

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 3 STARS (I'll update you if this changes....I'm sure it will)

Spicey Cheeseburger and Fries Soup

I have sooo much to update...I've tried about 5 new recipes in the past week - so lots to report ;)

I can't remember when I made what, so however I remember them - here it goes

Spicy Cheeseburger and Fries Soup
*this comes from my fabulous cousin, Tasha*

1 1/2 cups water (I ended up doubling this)
2 cups cubed peeled potatoes
2 small carrots, grated (I just chopped mine)
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green pepper, optional (I used red pepper)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (remember to seed it...otherwise it will be smokin' hot!)
1 garlic clove, minced (I think I used 2-3)
1 Tbsp beef bouillon granules (I used 2-3)
1/2 tsp salt (I actually added it, although wouldn't next time...couldn't taste it so it wasn't a bad addition, but with bouillon you really don't need anymore salt)
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
8 ounces process american cheese, cubed
1/4 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
1/2 lb slived bacon, cooked and crumbled

In a large saucepan, combine the first nine ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in beef and 2 cups of milk; head through. Combine flour and remaining milk until smooth and gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat and stir in cheese until melted. Add cayenne if you want. Top with bacon just before serving.

This was a big hit with the dh (dear husband). We added a scoop of sour cream which was awesome. It had kind of a stroganoff flavour to it. I'm excited to make it again and possibly doctor it a bit more. It was really good....and a perfect hearty meal on a cold day. I'm thinking a day of hunting...on the slopes...out toboganning...etc. What a great meal to come home to. This would have been perfect with a nice piece of cheese or garlic bread!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 4.5 STARS (just because I'm curious what else can be done with it)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Donairs!!!


I've always been a fan of donairs. Not only are they delicious but they also hold special meaning as I recall going to the Flea Market on saturdays with my dad and having donairs for lunch. I loved them then and I love them now - but rarely take the opportunity to get one. When I saw this at our local Wal-mart I had to try them. I was a little leary having tried a ginger beef kit recently that was HORRIBLE (not the same company), but I decided to do it anyways. It was only $5 (they are now $6) so I figured it wouldn't be too big a loss. Boy was I ever shocked - these donairs are AWESOME!!! The sauce, the meat - it's fabulous. I mean, there's nothing quite like a fresh hot donair - but this is definitely the next best thing. and for $6 you get enough for 4! You just can't beat that!

I try not to purchase frozen food but this is quickly become a staple in this house. I had a friend over for lunch one day and we made these up - she went out a couple of days later to buy a couple boxes! Super quick and easy - and totally delicious! And (as my friend and I thought) what a perfect idea when you are having a group together for appetizers or sporting events. Make a few of these boxes up, typical nachos and cheese, chips and dip, etc. And you've got yourself a lovely filling meal. They even give the suggestion on the box for making them into donair pizzas, which would probably work best for large groups. I add diced cucumbers, shredded cheese, lettuce, and sliced white onions to mine. Perfect!

Try them!!!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS!!!

Cottage Cheese Waffles??

Yep you read right...Cottage Cheese Waffles. This recipe comes from my fabulous cousin, Tasha! I had to try them simply because they sound so strange. She claims they are *to die for* so I had even more reason to give them a shot. We often make waffles for the kids with whipped cream on them - just something fun when Brent has the day off or Sunday mornings before church. So here's what you do:

Mix in a blender:
1/2 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt (I actually used it this time just to make the recipe as written)
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup cottage cheese

These are low carb and high protein (gotta love that!). Don't be alarmed, the *batter* is pretty runny but they cook up like normal. The cottage cheese gives the illusion that they aren't quite cooked through but rest assured they are! They were good - not a whole lot different than regular waffles but if they have a bit more *health factor* I'm willing to eat them. And seriously - they smell AWESOME while they are cooking! Amazing....I'd make them again just for that! LOL All in all, I think they aren't something I'd make all the time simply because I don't have cottage cheese in our fridge at all times. But it is something different, a little healthier, and they taste pretty similar to regular waffles.

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 4 STARS - definitely worth trying

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mmmm...I love Jell-o

I've always been a jell-o fan, although never really got a hang of the jell-jigglers sadly....when I tried these at a recent function I knew I HAD to have the recipe. The best part is - they turn out perfectly every time. And if you want to know if they are yummy - we went through 5 pans in 4 days *ack* (okay we did have company that helped, but still!). So easy and so yummy...oh and it sets in just over an hour. How much better can it get?!

3 packages of jell-o (or 1 large package)
3 packages of knox gelatin
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4-1 cup whipping cream (not whipped) - I usually measure to between the 3/4 and 1 cup

Mix jell-o and gelatin and add boiling water. Mix well. Add whipping cream (not whipped) and mix thoroughly. Pour into casserole dish and refrigerate. ENJOY!!! I just cut the whole pan into squares and leave it in the fridge like that....we all just help ourselves throughout the day!

Raspberry is a favorite, as is lime. Grape is awesome too....really, they are all sooo tasty. If you feel like getting creative try layering after each one is set. Wait for the new mixture to cool a bit though before pouring it over the set one. DELISH! Add a dollup of whipping cream on the side if you want to make it more dessert-y.

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS

Coming Up...

Well I just spent a week with the kids at my family reunion - not only was it beautiful (drayton valley) but sooo awesome to see all of my cousins. Seriously - all of them (I think there was a count of about 86 people total). My cousin, Tasha (who I hadn't seen since her wedding 12 years ago!) organized a family cookbook which I was really excited about. Now that I've seen it, I'm even more excited - there are soooo many awesome recipes I can't wait to try. Right now, my list includes 17 of these recipes. So soon to come are the following:

Oriental Chicken Salad
Cottage Cheese Waffles
Luscious Berries with hot white chocolate
Cinnamon bread
Cucumber Citrus water
Spicy Cheeseburger and Fries Soup
Maple Salad Dressing
Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad
Thai noodle salad
Kung Pao Chicken
7up BBQ chicken
Thai mango chicken
Sour cream and chicken enchiladas
Crockpot Corn
Spanish Chicken and Rice, and
Party Punch

I am SO excited to go grocery shopping tomorrow to pick up all the ingredients I need. Thankfully most of them are already basic staples so it's nothing out of the ordinary!

*See* you all soon!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Baked Potato Soup...

For any of you who love baked potatoes (I know I do), this is the soup for you! Interestingly, for me - it's not even the potato that I love, it's the sour cream (addict), green onions, and bacon bits I looooove (oh AND the cheese....definitely can't forget the cheese...mmmm). Anyways, this recipe was taken from Brent's cousin, Devynn who also has a cooking blog - you can find it HERE. She tried it and said it was sooo good. It was kind of gloomy so I figured it was the perfect time to try it. It's been a while since I made soup so I was definitely in the mood for it. Here are the ingredients :)

5 medium potatoes, unpeeled and cut into small chunks
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup chicken bouillon
3 cups milk (I did 2 cups milk, 1 cup cream)
1/2 cup dehydrated onion flakes (I just diced a small onion)
1/2 cup crumbled bacon
2 cups shredded cheddar
diced green onion (I did about 4 stalks - just depends on how many people that are eating like them)
Sour Cream

Pierce the potatoes and cook in microwave for about 10 minutes (2-3 minute increments). Let cook and cut into small chunks. Put into crock pot and add water, chicken bouillon,milk (or milk and cream), and onion. Cook on high until potatoes are nice and easily mashed - use a potato masher. You can blend it too, but I just used a masher. Dish into bowls and top with bacon, cheddar cheese, and green onion. Oh and sour cream too of course!

I also served this with my orange/almond salad and a french loaf with butter. We fed 7 adults with this amount. It was *just* enough food....I contemplated making a second batch but then I'd have had so much leftover. Not that Brent would have minded - he's still talking about it. I'll probably make it again soon. It was a huge hit and soooo easy. I had it in the crock pot from 10am-5pm. Throw the stuff in and forget about it. Definitely a *make again* meal - perfect for those cool and rainy days, or the winter snow days when you just hunker in and watch videos all day!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Something new...

At 6pm I realized I had nothing planned for dinner - okay I knew well before then, but it suddently occurred to me I might want to *start* planning something. I found some chicken thighs in the freezer and set them out to thaw (I know it`s not recommended but we always thaw them in a sink of hot water anyways...we`ve never gotten sick, so we still do it) and tried to think of what to put on them. I wanted to do bbq sauce but wanted to make one from scratch. So, I went to my trusty source and looked up *bbq sauce*. And this beauty came up....it sounded good and had great reviews, and except for a few, I had all the ingredients. So here it goes:



2 cups ketchup
1 bulb garlic (the whole bulb, not just a clove - I only used about 3/4 of a bulb as that's what I had in the cupboard)
1 cup water
2 Tbsp hot sauce (I did not use any)
1/4 cup honey (I melted it slightly so it would mix in better - no need to heat on the stove when it's going in the oven anyways)
2 Tbsp Molasses (I didn't have any but used some hot & spicy bbq sauce instead to compensate for this and the hot sauce)
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt (did not add...still can't figure out why a recipe would need salt in addition to soy sauce??)
2 Tbsp cajun seasoning (didn't have)
1 pinch paprika
1 pinch crushed red peppers
1 pinch ground white pepper (don't have so just double black pepper)
1 pinch ground black pepper
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water (I actually used more like 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup butter (I chose not to add this as I didn't think it was necessary)

I mixed all the ingredients in a bowl and put a little on the bottom of the baking dish (so chicken wouldn't stick). Then I put the chicken in and topped with chopped peppers (yellow, red, and orange), celery, carrots, and white onions. Then poured the rest of the sauce over and baked for an hour at 350. Brent said it was *GREAT* (it always makes me smile when he says that about something I've made). We did plain rice tonight but it was perfect with the sauce. Definitely a meal we'll have again!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yellow Pepper Salsa

I don't love tomatoes...actually I don't even kind of like them. The taste, the smell *ugh* - it all just turns my stomach. Although, I do like everything made from them - tomato soup, salsa, ketchup, etc. Strange I know...one thing I really can't do though is *fresh* salsa...for a long time I didn't even think I liked homemade canned salsa, but I had my auntie Glenda's once and loved it, then a co-workers about 6 years ago (recipe to come), and most recently this beauty - This recipe comes from my friend, Shelley. I am so excited she shared it with me - I honestly polish off a small jar in one sitting. But truthfully there isn't anything *bad* in it, so I don't ever feel guilty - added bonus!

**As a side note....if you wear contacts and have to take them out at some point afterwards, do yourself (and your eyes) a favor and take them out BEFORE you start this. *ouch* and yes, I learned that the hard way.**

2 cups chopped yellow peppers
2 cups chopped peeled tomatoes*
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
*peppers* see below
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup lime juice (I used lemon and it was great)
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp coarse pickling salt
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (*yuck* I do not put this in...I absolutely despite cilantro. lol)

In a larger pot, combine sweet peppers, tomatoe, garlic, onion, hot peppers, lime juice, vinegar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cilantro (if you want your salsa ruined. hehe) and cook for 2 minutes. Ladle into hot jars and process for 20 minutes (I don't actually *process* the jars - I make sure lids are clean and put a small ring of water around top of jar and seal tightly. It will *pop* on it's own). Makes about 4 x 250ml jars.

*To peel tomatoes - drop into boiling water until peel begins to crack. Run cold water over them (so your hands don't burn) and peel...skin should come off easily*

*Peppers - **remember to take seeds of jalapenos out or salsa will be hot**
Mild - 3 jalapeno peppers and 1/4 cup green or red pepper (I use red)
Medium - 3 jalapeno peppers and 2 anaheim peppers
Hot - 3 jalapeno peppers, 2 anaheim peppers, and 1 habanero pepper

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 4 STARS (I say 5, but my husband again wasn't as excited as me...seriously - who asked him anyways. lol)

These make great little gifts at christmas or just because....tie a ribbon around the jar and place on a plate with some tortilla chips - wrap in cellophane if you'd like. So fun!

No time to make cream puffs?

Well, why not try to make the cream puff dessert. This recipe comes from my sister in law....it's a huge family favorite as well as a favorite among our friends - or at least those lucky enough to have had it. LOL It's seriously just a big cream puff *casserole* that is soooo easy and quick. And a perfect end to any meal. It's delicious and full of flavor, but not heavy.

Same recipe as the cream puffs:

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Filling:
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups cold milk
2 packages (small size) instant chocolate pudding mix**

Topping:
1 carton of Cool Whip, thawed (real whipped cream is great too)
1/4 cup chocolate ice cream topping
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/3 cup chopped almonds (I don't put these on)

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth. Spread in a greased baking dish (13x9). Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack (no you don't take the crust out of the dish...just place the dish on the wire rack - just in case you were wondering).
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl beat cream cheese, milk, and pudding mix until smooth and slightly thickened. Spread over puff crust and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Then cover with cool whip and drizzle with chocolate and caramel toppings, sprinkling with almonds. Store in fridge until ready to serve.

**Because I don't like chocolate pudding I make this with Vanilla instead and it is DIVINE!!! I drizzle it with just carmel/butterscotch as well. Usually when my husband makes this he does half chocolate and half vanilla (half the filling recipe for each kind). **

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 stars

Cream Puffs...

There is nothing quite like a fresh homemade cream puff (they just don't taste the same the next day). And I love the way my mom makes them. I'll get to the puff part later, but the inside is where it's at! A spoonful of Vanilla instant pudding and one of fresh whipped cream, topped with a drizzle of the most delicious carmel/butterscotch sauce - it's President's choice Gourmet Butterscotch. It's in a glass jar with a red lid....I would have a photo if I could have tracked one down. They are definitely messy but delicious.

For the *puff* part:

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (I've used margarine even though my recipe says not to use substitutes)
1 cup flour
4 eggs

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once, stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth. Spoon into balls and place on baking sheet and put in oven at 400....I'd say about 20 minutes, but keep your eye on them. I can't actually remember how long it takes *oops*. Until golden brown though! Let cool....slice and fill shortly before serving.

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS

Another Salad Dressing...

I've had this recipe for a while now, but rarely make it which is a real shame. The first time I had it was at a friend's wedding - I'm pretty sure it was the talk of the reception. The salad was soooo good - actually to be completely honest, the whole meal was just awesome. So, here you go:

1 cup olive oil (add at the end slowly while blending)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Raspberry Vinegar
1 Tbsp poppyseed
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt (I don't add the salt)
dash of pepper

Blend together all ingredients. For the salad use mixed greens, candied pecans, feta or gongonzala cheese, and 2 pears. Strawberries also work fabulously!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 4 STARS (not 5 because my husband wasn't as crazy about it as me...he prefers the orange almond salad dressing found here - also found there is how to sugar/candy the pecans)

Ah Caramel!

My mother's carmel popcorn recipe is the best I have EVER tasted....I don't actually *love* carmel popcorn, or I didn't think I did. But then I realized it was because it's usually hard....but soft and gooey....carmel popcorn is an absolute weakness. Thank heavens she only makes it a few times a year....

2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 can eagle brand milk
1 cup corn syrup
1/2-1tsp vanilla
sprinkle of salt
4-5 batches of popcorn

Cook first 4 ingredients until almost a soft ball. Add vanilla and salt (my mom salts the popcorn too...I don't though). Pour over popcorn and mix together. OH. MY. WORD. My mom also adds almonds or pecans or something sometimes too, but we always request it without....personal preference I guess :)

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS!!!

**on this note - if you haven't ever tried the popcorn puffs carmel recipe on the back, you MUST!!! It is sooooo good and highly addictive. **

Cream of Mushroom Soup


Yep - from scratch! I LOVE this soup - so does Brent. And I always get excited when I feel like the weather permits a nice hot soup for lunch. I remember the first time I made this soup I had to do it three times before I got it right (I misunderstood part of the recipe and it had disastrous results. LOL).....but boy was it worth it.


You will need:

1 lb mushrooms

1/2 cup butter/margarine

1 tsp lemon juice

1 small onion, sliced

1/2 cup flour

3 1/2 cups chicken broth (liquid)

1 tsp salt (I don't put this in...chicken broth already takes care of the salt in my opinion)

1/4 tsp pepper

1 cup evaporated milk (1 can)


Remove and trim mushroom stems and set aside. Slice caps thinly. Melt butter over medium heat - cook mushrooms and lemon juice until tender, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium low. Remove mushrooms. Cook onions and stems in remaining butter until tender. Blend in flour (sprinkle), add milk and broth and continue stirring until thickened. Blend in blender and return to pan. Add mushrooms (that you set aside before), salt (I don't), and pepper. Do not boil.


SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS!!!


Perfect for those rainy or snowy *housebound* days.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

here fishy fishy fishy...

I have so much to write about - so there will be quite a few posts as I make the time to update this blog.

Anyways, I decided to *think outside the box* and make fish - yes, this is *outside the box* for me. LOL My sister in law (to be), Sarah is a huge fan of fish so I decided to try her recipe. I just bought a salmon filet (2 pieces) and did one Sarah's way and one my mother in law's way.
(this photo is not mine...it's from http://www.istockphoto.com/)


Sarah's:
lay on tin foil (will be wrapping up in a *pocket* to keep the moisture in)
a couple *dots* of butter (about 1 Tbsp total I'd say)
sliced lemon laid on top (2-3 slices)
And I added a few smooshed garlic cloves too :) and sprinkled a little with pepper

Karenne's (my mother in law):
lay on tin foil (same as Sarah's)
a couple *dots* of butter
sprinkle lemon pepper all over

Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes and enjoy. I'm not a fish fan to begin with, so it wasn't to die for....although honestly I want to like it so I do plan to try more recipes. It wasn't bad by any stretch and hopefully I can acquire more of a taste for it. Brent said it was good - he may have even said *great* but it was already so long ago I can't remember exactly!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 3 STARS

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kraft is a beautiful thing!

I went through a phase about 10 years ago of boycotting Kraft....Because they are owned or partially owned by the Tobacco Industry (ie they own a large portions of shares in Kraft). And you know that sounds all nice and activisty and I felt like somehow perhaps I was doing my part. But really...I'm just not that bothered by it (which is probably why the phase only lasted a few months). Do I want to support the Tobacco Industry - well not particularly (not at all actually)...but does Kraft happen to make some really fab products - YOU BETCHA! And you know, they make sooo many products I just found it really overwhelming almost to keep it all straight. And let's face it - I like their stuff. And it's not like Kraft picks and chooses who buys their stocks. It's possible they would prefer it to be a different company/organization as well (although I have nothing to base that on) - but money talks....
So I guess I'll just have to use my efforts to promote and benefit other causes, that for me - at this point take priority. I think when it really comes down to it, so many of these large corporations are tied together somehow....I don't know that we can possibly get it straight. Does that mean it's not worth trying...of course not. But make sure it's something you truly believe in and have researched, not something you choose to do based solely on what you've heard from ONE person. Find a cause that means something to you...for some that will in fact be the boycotting of certain food products and companies.

For me....bring on the Kraft! I love their salad dressings. And while I really prefer to make my own, sometimes it's so nice to have something equally as enjoyable just waiting to be used. No work involved. I love making a hearty salad....full of veggies - celery, carrots, red pepper (I don't like green), mushrooms, green onion, purple/red onion, cucumber, sugar snap peas...and sometimes a chicken breast or leftover steak cut up or slices of lunch meat.

some of my favorite dressings are: Italian (interestingly the Kraft one is healthier than the superstore no name one! I like Golden or Creamy or Zesty), Catalina, Three Cheese Ranch (actually, Brent's favorite), raspberry vinaigrette (I LOVE vinaigrettes), and their Signature collection - Roasted Red Pepper and parmesan, Greek with Feta and Oregano, Creamy PoppySeed, and Sundried Tomato and Oregano. I will say I thoroughly despised their Mandarin Orange with Sesame dressing and ended up tossing the bottle. I was pretty disappointed because I thought for sure I would LOVE it....oh well, can't love it all I guess! :)

**Any in Purple I have used as a marinade for chicken (although fish I have heard is great too)...Any in Blue I am wanting to try and think would be great**

But my new favorite product of theirs is THIS collection:


They only have 4 kinds listed on the website but there are more. I have had the Pesto Parmesan which was really yummy on salad but even better as a chicken marinade. And I have the Fig Balsamic which is good on salad but also a GREAT bread dipper (like oil and balsamic vinegar with pan bread...although Brent wasn't too keen on the flavor, he prefers oil and balsamic vinegar....I'm happy with either). I also want to try the Raspberry Vinaigrette and the Greek Feta.

I can eat salad often - really everyday if I have enough variety. Or make a salad and throw it in a pita or a tortilla shell for a little more variety. I love alternating between homemade and store bought dressings...and the great thing about a pita or a wrap is you need just a small amount of dressing for a big punch of flavour. It's a great way to have a fresh and healthy meal that's filling enough to keep you going between meals! And is particularly delicious (I think anyways) in the summer when you don't want to be cooking anyways!

Kraft actually has some really great recipe ideas on their website....so check it out!

ENJOY! Let me know what your favorites are...how you've used them to cook...or perhaps some recipes you would love to try! You can e-mail me at skitalz@gmail.com with any recipes you have!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Toblerone FUDGE??

I don't like chocolate....it's true (and I was *almost* kicked out of Brent's family for it until I reminded everyone it meant more for them!!!). BUT this...THIS is divine!!!

Here's what you need:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 evaporated milk
400g Toblerone (large)

Combine the first 3 ingredients and bring to a boil (medium heat). Boil for 5 minutes, stirring the entire time. Take off heat and stir in Toblerone bar a few sections at a time. Pour into a pan (I'd say an 8x8 square pan) lined with parchment (you need to do this). Chill for at least 3 hours...cut into squares - and DEVOUR!!!

It's soooo good - and again, REALLY REALLY simple. Gotta love that!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS

oh the deception...

So I posted a while back about this *delicious* lemon loaf....I mentioned that mine never turns out the way my mother in law's does....about 2 months ago I found out why. SHE GAVE ME THE WRONG RECIPE!!!

Seriously.

So here is the real recipe:

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

1 yellow supreme cake mix (*sigh*)
1 lemon instant pudding
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup hot water
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Bake for 35 minutes (or until sides come away from the pan) at 350.

Glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix together and pour on hot cake

I'm going to try this recipe this week and let you know it's seriously scrumptious rating...assuming of course she gave me the *right* recipe this time. *lol*

Meet me at the clubhouse...

It's kind of a tradition now...or was until Grey's ended for the season (oooo the suspense!)...every thursday night was girly/grey's night....snacks, good company, great show. I made dip once because well I pretty much had nothing else to offer and was too cheap (ie poor. lol) to go buy anything. It's a dip I've made for a loooong time now and just love it - with chips or veggies. I didn't know if anyone would eat it but I took it anyways....A friend had one taste and well, as they say, *the rest is history* LOL I'm sort of assigned to bring it every week. It's *seriously scrumptious* aaaand *seriously simple* - even better!!!

Buy this: Mix together 2 parts sour cream (remember it's 2 parts because it has 2 words...just an easy tip) to 1 part mayonnaise. I just sort of eyeball it and sprinkle in the dip mix to taste. I have never followed the directions on the back so have no idea how it compares....but to be honest, don't waste your time ;) There's no reason to - well in my opinion anyways!

This is a fabulous dip to take for bbq's or snack nights, etc. Like I mentioned, it's awesome for chips and veggies. So um, eat up and enjoy!

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS

So while I was at the grocery store the other day I was looking at some of the other Club House dip mixes and thought I'd try this beauty: Well I didn't know whether to try it as a dip or a dressing but decided ultimately to go with the dressing (I followed the recipe on the back - just add vinegar and vegetable oil). I still had some of this tzatziki *dip* in the fridge so thought I should try something new! I've been back to eating my veggies wraps which I LOOOOOVE! So I put some of the tzatziki dip on the tortilla shell and then my veggies (carrots, celery, cucumber, red/purple onion, and red pepper) and some lettuce...topped it with a little bit of the new dressing and OH.MY.WORD. It was probably the most delicious wrap I've had in a looong time (or ever actually). In fact, the day after I had it the first time I made it for lunch again - my friend Jenn foolishly wasn't hungry but I gave her a bite just so she could taste it. She went and made one for herself :D I've pretty much had it for lunch (and a couple suppers) for 3 days....I love it that much. I bought whole wheat tortilla shells this time which I love. It really just tastes so fresh and healthy...and is delicious and filling. What more could you ask for??

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS






Saturday, May 9, 2009

oh and...

just so you don't think I haven't been cooking at all (minus the chicken and hamburger helper nights), I did actually make a nice big roast dinner the other night, with delicious caesar salad, yorkshire pudding, and veggies (cooked in with the roast). Will blog more about that when I have more energy!

And I also made up some of my delicious fried rice last night so Brent and Trent could have a side dish to their BBQ'd chops (deer). Both the chops and the rice were super yummy! More on that when, you guessed it, I have more energy!

Off to bed I go...

back to it

I really need to get back to it....cooking...I've sort of dropped the ball a bit and gone the way of convenience and even *gasp* fast food (but doesn't it just taste soooo good!). When the weather gets warm (which it's not currently, but was) I sort of put other things ahead of cooking big meals and we end up eating whatever's around. But add to that a serious lack of groceries (I'm happy to reprort I've remedied that situation - and now have a lovely stock of fruits and vegetables) and we were in serious *trouble* (ie need for fast food. lol). I also was pretty sick for about 3 days and food just wasn't really appealling to me - why is it, that means everyone else has to starve?? *oops* (kidding...don't worry my kids were fed - thank heavens for an almost 5 year old that can help herself to pretty much anything. lol)

But I do still have a few things to blog about. First off, let's start with a new found quick meal that's really rather tasty! Thanks to my friend, Jenn we've enjoyed this meal more than once. It's quick and easy...and our kids love it too! I try not to buy hamburger helper meals because the salt content is pretty high and I'd rather make *from scratch* meals if I can help it. However, sometimes it's just nice to have something quick to throw together - even better if it tastes great too! So here you go....The first time I made them all up so all we had to do was grab one from the plate in the fridge and warm it up. Add some sour cream (really the perfect touch - but I LOVE sour cream. I've been known to make tacos JUST so I could have the sour cream) and salsa if you'd like (I prefer it without) and it's perfect. Add a salad and you've got a great and filling meal! The only thing I need is a non-stick pot - I must not stir it often enough because each time my pot gets a nice coating of stuck on rice *grr*

I know I didn't make it, but while I was feeling under the weather and really yucky (no, I'm not pregnant....and no I'm not trying...and no I'm not going to find out in a week that I really am like my cousin did after she expressed the exact same thing. LOL) the only thing I felt wouldn't really disrupt my stomach was a Subway veggie sub...seriously - divine...sometime I really do enjoy the meat ones (italian bmt for one) but more often than not it's the veggie one that just hits the spot. And, despite using Italian Herb and Cheese bread, I always feel healthier when I'm eating it. I always get the white cheese, lettuce, pickles, cucumbers, and onions (I detest tomatoes), a little mayonnaise, mustard, and pepper....and sub sauce (yep shot any chance of health there I know....added to the mayo - eeks!). Sooo delish....I never get them toasted - for some reason, to me only quizno's subs taste good toasted. wonder why that is??

Next....I made a meal one night that was just *okay*. Thankfully I have a husband who eats anything and everything and is happy doing just that. I took some chicken drumsticks (on sale again!!!) and cooked them sort of like I would a whole chicken. I sprinkled them with chicken oxo powder and seasoning salt....and pepper....and poured some water in the dish and covered with tin foil. Baked at 350 for close to an hour and told Brent to take the foil off for the last 10-15 minutes (I was out for the evening). It was *okay* - not great..not a make again...but it was sufficient. I really don't like wasting food, particularly chicken...so a few days when I realized the leftovers just weren't going to get eaten, I decided to try and salvage them. I baked them in bbq sauce (that I mixed with some brown sugar and water) for about 40 minutes...the result....AWESOME - Brent said. He got up and had seconds....HIP HIP HOORAY!! I love it when a salvage attempt goes so well. I absolutely love cooking for other people and when they truly enjoy and devour my efforts, it just makes me smile. I feel accomplished and valued - and THAT is something everybody loves! So an *okay* meal turned into an *awesome* meal - I may end up doing this first to chicken next time I want to coat it in bbq sauce. LOL

Ooo and a great lunch suggestion that I think is kind of fun for the kids...mini pitas. I absolutely love when I make the choice to buy them. The kids had chicken salad pits the other day for lunch and today had mayo and meat in them. Something fun - and kind of neat for the kids, particularly if you are having a larger pita for lunch. It's a great variation to a typical sandwich - and in my opinion is actually more enjoyable. I looooove pitas :)

Anyways - that's all for now. I do have some more recipes to post but as it's 1230am already I really should get to bed! Coming soon...pumpkin squares (I made them into cupcake/muffins this week), carmel popcorn (the best!!), pumpkin marble cheesecake, and some more dinner recipes I've been wanting to try!


And for anyone who has one - I'd love to get a bunch of chicken enchilada recipes in. My husband prefers the beef ones, but I'm determined to make some chicken ones he loves. LOL So send the recipes so I can look them over and try a few. (Auntie Glenda - if you're reading this....something tells me you have one...I keep remembering eating enchiladas when I was younger and for some reason I think it was at your house....would love the recipe to try!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This one's for Krystal...


Well all of you actually :)


Check out this link http://thermalcooker.wordpress.com/category/thermal-cookers/wonderbox/ (the photo above is from there...obviously the quality is better on the actual website)
My mom made us each one last year and although I have yet to use it, I'm sooo intrigued and impressed by the idea. I have heard them called *wonder boxes* or *heat boxes* and there are probably many others out there.


Basically the idea is this - heat water (over a candle) to boiling, add your ingredients. Place lid on and put in center of the wonder box. And let it sit - 5 hours and your food is done! (depends on what you make...check the link out for recipes and such). It cooks anything and everything and is a great way to save energy, cook great meals with less mess and fuss (like while camping), or in my cousin, Krystal's case - a great way to cook great meals without needing a stove or oven and without heating the house/kitchen on a hot day. You can also use them to keep dishes warm - my aunt brought her to easter dinner to keep the potatoes warm. It was brilliant!!


So enjoy - what a fab idea I think. I need to try mine out one of these days - don't worry, I'll blog about it :D

Leftovers??

So in addition to the casserole I just posted - what else do you do with leftover chicken or turkey - or honestly, even ham?? These roll-ups are one of my favorites and really a nice change. It's a great way to use up leftovers so you don't have to eat chicken/turkey sandwiches for a week. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing quite like a leftover chicken/turkey sandwich, but at some point it becomes a little less exciting.

Soooo try this instead :D I don't know how much chicken/turkey/ham to use - lots of times I just buy the rotisserie chicken and use everything off that.

Chopped chicken/turkey/ham
Can of mushrooms
8 oz Cream Cheese (try using just half at first and add from there...depends on how much meat you have)

Mix together (yes with your hands....just make sure you wash them first *ewww*)

Place 1 Tbsp in the center of each Pillsbury Crescent roll (regular size - if you get large, just cut each one in half). Roll up - they look like strangely shaped balls (I should not be laughing at that but I am) but they cook nicely. Dip in melted butter (I start by melting 1/4 cup) and roll in bread crumbs (again, use ritz if you don't have breadcrumbs).

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Then top with the sauce, mmmm:

1 can mushroom soup
1/2 can of cream (I think it's 1/2 and 1/2 that I use - I never remember until I see it at the store. LOL)

Cook on low until heated through. Pour on roll ups before eating. Oh delicious...

This is GREAT with fried rice and the orange/almond salad. Perfect meal! It's a great meal to make for company too - it's really simple and quick and delicious!

I know some people have used leftover gravy instead of the mushroom soup sauce and also loved it.

SERIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS RATING: 5 STARS