Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Nutty Rice and Carrots with Ginger


This rice dish smells wonderful as it's cooking, it's fragrance lingers in the kitchen. It is a tasty side dish to serve with fish. Leftovers are delicious reheated the next day.
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, finely ground
  1. Combine rice and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to low heat, cover, and allow to cook until tender. It was done at 18 minutes.
  2. While rice is cooking melt butter in skillet on medium heat. Stir in ginger and carrots, cover and allow to cook until carrots are tender.
  3. Stir in salt, cayenne pepper and ground peanuts.
  4. Combine with rice and serve.
  5. Serves: 8

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Apple Shaped Sugar Cookies


With school back in session and apple season upon us, here's a fun idea for your favourite Sugar Cookie Recipe. Kids of all ages would love a couple of these for an after school or afternoon snack.

  • Your favourite sugar cookie recipe
  • red decorating sugar (found in the cake decorating section of the grocery store)
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • several lengths of black string licorice
  1. Mix your Sugar cookie dough.
  2. Shape it into logs about 2 inches in diameter.
  3. Generously sprinkle a sheet of waxed or parchment paper with red sugar.
  4. Roll each log in the sugar until completely coated, pressing lightly. (see pictures below)
  5. Lay the handle of a wooden spoon down the length of each roll to indent it slightly.Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate several hours.
  6. Remove from fridge and cut into 1/2 inch slices and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. (or greased cookie sheets)
  7. Push a 1 inch piece of licorice into the indented edge of each cookie and then gently press 3 chocolate chips in the centre of each cookie.
  8. Bake as indicated in your recipe.
  9. Remove cookies from pans to a rack or brown paper to cool.




Monday, September 28, 2015

Baked Salmon

Healthy eating is often not associated with 'fast food". Salmon is a healthy choice and it bakes fast and with little fuss or need for special ingredients. A thin fillet or salmon steaks can thaw in the refrigerator all day, placed in a pan with a little oil or butter and a few spices and some lemon, and in this recipe a bit of mayonnaise. While the salmon bakes boil some pasta or make a salad and you'll have supper in about 30-40 minutes. 

  • 1 whole salmon fillet or salmon steaks
  • mayonaise, enough to spread on a thick layer as you would butter on bread
  • sprinkle with lemon pepper and salt
  • sprinkle with fresh or dry dill
  • Top with thin lemon slices. 
  1. Bake in 375º oven for approximately 30 minutes or until salmon is flakey...but don't over cook. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bread for the Journey


The following thoughts are from a journal entry by my brother Steve Bagdanov who gave me permission to share them here. My brother is pastor at Olive Grove Church in Nuevo, California. The photo above is from the evening of the rehearsal dinner before our son's wedding this past June. My brother Steve is praying with the wedding party and afterwards we were treated to the beautiful sunset.

“Holiness is doing something beautiful as opposed to not doing something ugly.”

I chose the words beautiful and ugly purposefully because they are not usually used in conjunction with holy behavior, and yet I think that they are wholly appropriate, and challenging. We are much more attracted to behaving beautifully, which may be defined as the most good. Beautiful is related to a word much closer to holiness: beatific.Being holy, being a holder of beauty. I like that correlation, it is an inspirational definition.

This perspective also hits the core issue in successful Christian living. What God wants from us is not simply the absence of evil acts, not even that we stop wanting to do bad things. God wants us to love to do the beautiful thing, the holy thing, the right thing. With regard to our speech, that is also the goal. So many of us, self included, have seen it as a matter of Christian freedom to use an occasional “strong” term, that was ultimately ugly. I am striving now to have only things of beauty as my expression in life, to the glory of the Beautiful One.

Be beautiful.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Apple ~ Any Way You Slice It!

Apple season is upon us...and there's nothing quite like enjoying a crisp, fresh apple right off the tree.


Here's a simple way of slicing the apple without an apple corer...perfect for including in a lunch bag.

  • Set apple with stem side down on a cutting board..
  • Slice apple in a tic-tac-toe pattern, holding the pieces together firmly as you slice through. (#1)
  • Snap an elastic band around the apple to hold the pieces together. (#2)
  • Many hours later...the apple slices have stayed almost totally white.  
  • Discard core section and enjoy eight slices of crisp, white apple. (#3)



There are many wonderful recipes that feature apples...and it seems the perfect time of the year to highlight a few of those.


 Caramel Apple Cake is a favorite over here....and has often doubled as a birthday cake at this time of year.  We enjoyed it around the table with friends this past week.


How about Apple Fritter Rings for brunch?


Or Apple Muffins...for breakfast, lunch or coffee break.

Apple Pie Squares...a crowd-sized version of apple pie!


Here's a perfect accompaniment for an apple tray...Caramel Apple Dip.


Apple Pancakes...always a treat!

If you still haven't found the apple recipe you are looking for...try entering the word 'apple' in the recipe search on the sidebar of this blog and you will be overwhelmed with apple everything!   Don't you just feel like cooking with apples?
 

As for me...I'm slicing up apples every which way over here!  We have one wee tree...which bears several varieties of apples. The one variety (on the left) grew to be the size of small pumpkins this year. The apple pictured here weighed well over a pound...as compared to the average sized McIntosh apple on the right.  Enjoy these 'apple days' of autumn!

 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tomato Corn Chowder


Fall is in the air...and soups are on the menu! For this week's Flashback Friday recipe, I'm featuring one of our favorite fall soups. This tomato-corn chowder is based on a recipe that I clipped from a paper many years ago. It has a south-of-the-border flavour to it and was first posted here in August of 2008 as Mexican Tomato Chowder.  Fresh herbs are wonderful...but dried oregano and basil are fine as well.  It's a great way to use those end-of-the-season tomatoes.
 
Mexican Tomato Chowder
  • 2 pounds field tomatoes 
  • 1 large onion 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 3 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 large can black beans, drained (19 oz.) 
  • 1 can beans in tomato sauce 
  • 2 cups sweet corn kernels (fresh, canned or frozen) 
  • 1 tsp. each of salt, oregano and basil (more if using fresh herbs)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (make that a generous pinch...if you like a little zip)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Scald tomatoes to remove skins and chop coarsely. 
  2. In large saucepan, cook onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until softened (about 3 minutes). 
  3. Stir in stock, chopped tomatoes, corn, beans, salt, oregano, basil and cayenne. 
  4. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. 
  5. Stir in cilantro and serve. 
  6. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Carrot Bran Muffins

 

Fall leaves dropping and warm muffins fresh out of the oven just go together. This muffin is perfect for breakfast or to pack along for later, combining the traditional bran muffin with a hint of carrot cake. Low in fat and sugar, feel free to spread with  butter, cheese  or honey if you like.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cup All Bran Original cereal
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 3/4 cups dried figs, chopped (optional) 
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (can be half whole wheat)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare 12 regular or 6 giant muffin tins with cooking spray or liners. For giant tins, try cutting 6x6 inch squares of parchment paper. set into baking tray cups and keep in place by inserting drinking glasses. (while preparing batter)
  2. In a mixing bowl, blend All Bran cereal and buttermilk. Set aside to soften.
  3. Peel and grate 2 - 3 carrots. (I use fine side) and chop figs.
  4. In another small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt.
  5. Mix eggs into wet cereal and then the sugar, carrots and figs.
  6. Stir dry ingredients into wet, until just combined.
  7. Fill muffin tins to the top and bake for 18 - 30 minutes depending on size of muffin tins - until toothpick tests comes out clean.
  8. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Creamed Peas


Creamed peas is a simple dish to make. Delicious served over mashed potatoes with plain fried ground beef or meatloaf. It is a great way to get your children to eat vegetables. Creamed carrots, green beans, or corn would be really good too.

  • 2 cups peas, cooked
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 cup 10% cream
  1. Melt butter, whisk in flour, salt, pepper, and dry mustard until smooth.
  2. Add cream slowly, stirring continuously until thickened.
  3. Pour over peas and it's ready to serve.
  4. Serves: 4

*I call this comfort food, I served it to my children when they were younger and when served like this they would eat all the peas and ask for more! First you put a bed of mashed potatoes on your plate, then fried gound beef and top with creamed peas. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mexican Corn Soup



1 – 16 oz. pkg. frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
2 – Cups chicken broth
2 – Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 – 4-1/2 oz. can diced green chili peppers
1 – clove garlic, minced
1 – Tbsp. snipped fresh oregano or l tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1/4 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper
1 – cup milk
2 – cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 – cup chopped fresh tomatoes (You can substitute canned chopped tomatoes)
1 – cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese (4 oz.)
cilantro as garnish, optional
tortilla strips, optional

In a blender container combine half of the corn and the chicken broth. Cover; blend until nearly smooth.
In a large saucepan, combine corn puree, remaining corn, butter, chili peppers, garlic, dried oregano (if using dried instead of fresh), salt, and black pepper.
Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Stir in milk, chicken, tomatoes, and fresh oregano (if using instead of dried); heat through.
Remove from heat.
Stir in cheese until melted.
Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and tortilla strips, if desired.
If you like heat add chopped jalapeno along with the diced green chili peppers.
Serves 4- 6

Monday, September 21, 2015

Chocolate Zucchini Cake gluten free





On the table in our clubhouse was a basket with huge zucchinis in it and a sign "Please take one."   I remembered I used to make a zucchini quick bread that I loved and I thought...here's the Zucchini... all I need is to come up with a gluten free recipe --  so I tucked one of the large zucchinis under my arm and took it home!

I peeled and grated it and found I had 4 - 2 cup portions - 3 of them I froze, and one I used in the following recipe.

  • 3 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup butter, soft 
  • 1/4 cup oil 
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate (melted) 
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 cups Julie's flour blend
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 cup flaked almonds
  1. Beat until thick and creamy - eggs, butter, oil, sugar, vanilla 
  2. Add melted chocolate and beat until well blended. 
  3. Beat in grated zucchini 
  4. Mix in dry ingredients until perfectly smooth, stir in almonds. 
  5. Pour into two loaf pans or large muffin tins or  a 9 x 12 inch cake pan  - line bottom with parchment paper. 
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour  or until tests done. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bread for the Journey





(Photo Credit Tara Jakobson)


For freedom Christ has set us free: 
stand firm therefore, 
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

I am participating in a wonderful women's bible study. We are doing a study by Priscilla Shirer called BREATHE. You can click on here to see a youtube preview if you like. 

She speaks on what the Bible says about the Sabbath and what it really means. I was very surprised with the detail she brings into every area of our lives and it means a lot more than one day of so called rest in the week. 
I must admit that we all felt a bit unsettled on that first study knowing that there were areas in each of our lives that she would speak to. Most people don't even take a full day of rest. There is always some rushing around that needs doing, isn't there? I haven't met a person that doesn't feel overwhelmed and exhausted on occasion and for some it is such a common occurrence  that they accept it to be "normal" behaviour. I know that for too many years of my life I was very guilty of that. She teaches through scripture, that it is more of an attitude in the way we live. We don't need to live our lives so rushed and hurried enslaved to stuff, clutter, overspending, organized activity, etc. Christ has set us free so that we may live life to the fullest, without harried stress and exhaustion. 
She writes that, "God gave us freedom as a gift. But living free requires a firm resolve to continue walking in it, resisting the attempts of this world and our Enemy to put chains back onto us again. We must be deliberate and intentional about setting guardrails around our endeavors so that we can travel freely to the places God is taking us, staying on the main road the whole way. 
What do those guard rails need to look like. What boundaries will do the best job of keeping distraction and dysfunction out, while they keep freedom and fullness in? Many of our problems can be resolved if we simply take the time and energy to write down our priorities and parameters, and then filter every opportunity through them".

It is good to ask ourselves the difficult questions. How are we keeping the Sabbath? How do we eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak? My prayer is for us all that we honor the Sabbath and encourage growth in our relationship with Christ and in righteousness in all the areas of our lives that we neglect because we are too "busy".



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ginger Snaps

Does your family have favourites when it come to cookies?
In many families it is the classic Chocolate Chip Cookie that wins out.
But in our family, it seems to be Ginger Snaps.
Here's our family recipe - they are spicy, chewy and gone in no time.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger (can do 2 teaspoons if you are ginger lovers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • sugar
  1. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, butter, and molasses.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating in between each.
  3. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour to make the dough easier to handle.
  5. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop out balls of dough on to cookie sheets
  6. Roll each in the palms of your hands to form a smooth ball and dip tops in sugar
  7. Place 2" apart on cookie sheets.
  8. Bake at 350º for 8 - 12 minutes or until set. Cookies will puff up and then begin to flatten during baking. They will still be soft enough to take a fingerprint. Do not overbake.
  9. Cool for 2 or 3 minutes and remove to racks or brown paper.
  10. These freeze very well stacked in zippered bags.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pineapple Cream Cake - Flashback Friday




Pineapple Cream Cake which I first posted back in December of 2008 is worth posting again.
It's quick to make, is light and delicious and keeps well in the fridge for a day or two.

  • 1 angel food cake made either from scratch or a mix.
  • 1 3.5 ounce package Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 2 cups of heavy cream 

  1. In a large bowl, mix undrained crushed pineapple with the powdered Vanilla instant pudding. Mix until well blended. Set aside.
  2. Whip cream in another bowl until stiff.
  3. Gently fold whipped cream into pineapple mixture until well blended.
  4. Slice cake into 2 or 3 layers.
  5. Spread a generous amount of pineapple cream between the cake layers and then ice cake with the remainder.
  6. Refrigerate until serving.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mushroom Cheeseburger Soup




The season is approaching quickly to make wonderful soups and stews and  pull out the crock pots and soup pots again. All the flavor of a good mushroom cheeseburger is in this hearty soup recipe. If you don't like mushrooms, you can easily omit them. I like to use Russet potatoes for soups, they thicken the soup more than Red potatoes do. If you would like you could also top the soup with some crisp bacon.
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced
  • 4 potatoes, quartered and sliced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb mushroom, sliced
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon  red pepper flakes (adjust to your own taste and how heat tolerance)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons mustard, Dijon (yellow mustard is fine if you don't have Dijon)
  • 8 cups good quality beef broth (I use low or no sodium added)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 heaping tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups  milk
  • 2 cups old cheddar cheese, grated
  • crisp bacon, crumbled (optional) I didn't have any
  • Dill pickles (a must for our family) 
  1. In a large pot, brown ground beef until the pink is gone with the pepper flakes and salt and pepper.
  2. Add all the vegetables except the garlic and cook until the vegetables have softened and cooked down. 
  3. Add beef broth and garlic and cook about 20 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are tender. 
  4. Make a cheese sauce in a separate pot by melting the butter, adding the flour to make a roux, adding the milk. Cook for a few minutes until thickened. Add the cheese and when it is melted add it to soup. 
  5. Top with crumbled bacon and chopped pickles into each individual bowl, or eat it along side of the soup. The pickles for our family is a must, we love it, it just adds another layer of flavor and crunch. 





Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Loaded Granola Cookies

 

Hearty, chewy and crunchy at the same time...and Oh So Good!  Our favorite lunchtime treat has always been an oatmeal raisin cookie. But for some time now, that cookie has been upgraded to a 'loaded granola cookie'. I add homemade cinnamon spice granola along with assorted dried fruits to come up with a wholesome and flavourful gourmet cookie. And here's how we like them best...right out of the freezer!

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened (but not melted)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats 
  • 3 cups granola (your favorite or mine)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried fruits (cranberries, blueberries, apricots, raisins, etc.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar.  
  3. Add vanilla and eggs and blend well.
  4. Add flour, baking soda and salt and blend. 
  5. Add all remaining ingredients and stir just to combine. 
  6. Drop from a large cookie scoop (1/4 cup mounds) onto a cookie sheet...leaving several inches between mounds.  Flatten slightly.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool for several minutes on cookie sheet before moving to cooling rack.
Yield: 30 large cookies.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Symphony Tomato Tart


I want to give credit to this recipe to one I saw in this summer's Style at Home. On the Sunday afternoon that I noted it in the magazine, I checked to see what I had in my fridge and modified it to what I had on hand. I also suggest par-baking the crust, which the original recipe does not call for.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup cold water
filling:
  • 2 Tbsp basil pesto
  • 1 onion, sliced and cooked in 1 Tbsp butter
  • 4 oz Camembert cheese, sliced or 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese grated
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (of varied colors if you have), sliced
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • sprinkling of salt
  • fresh basil for garnish after baking
  • reduced balsamic vinaigrette for serving, optional
Method:
  1. In a medium bowl, cut butter into dry ingredients to make coarse crumb mixture.
  2. Sprinkle with water and stir with fork until dry ingredients are well incorporated and you can shape the dough into a ball.
  3. On floured surface, flatten the ball and roll out into a 10 or 11  inch circle to fit tart pan with removable bottom. If you do not have a tart pan, you could just use a pie dish or a pizza pan.
  4. Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes
  5. During this time, saute onion until golden. 
  6. When tart is partially baked, spread with pesto and then the onions.
  7. Cover with cheese and sliced tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt 
  8. Continue baking at 375 F for 30 minutes longer.
  9. Garnish with chopped basil and serve as is, or with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious combination of flavors! 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Caramelized Onion Hummus



This hummus will convince you that homemade really is best.

  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 2 cups cooked* or 1- 450 g/15 ounce can chickpeas (cooking your own is very inexpensive)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt (salt only to taste if you are using canned chickpeas)
  1. Cut the top of the garlic bulb off,  place on a foil, drizzle with oil and wrap foil up around garlic.  Bake for 30 minutes.   Squeeze the softened garlic out of the bulb skin into blender jar. 
  2. Fry onions in a large fry pan on medium low heat until onions have caramelized.   Reserve a few tablespoons for garnish. 
  3. Place all ingredients into blender and process until smooth, adding water if necessary.  
Cooking Chickpeas
Place chickpeas in a large pot, cover with water allowing chickpeas to double in size. In the morning, drain, rinse and place in the same pot covering again with water.  Simmer for about 90 minutes.   Extra chickpeas freeze well. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bread For the Journey



Harv and I chose this verse from Joshua 24:15 for our wedding.
We were very young and had little experience but we did have examples in our parents 
and Grandparents who chose to serve God through good and bad. 
When making our marriage vows, we consciously made the choice 
to make God the foundation of our marriage.

I was thinking about this the other day.  
With all the wars, famine, tsunamis, earthquakes and now in the news again, refugee crises, 
one could almost be justified in asking,
 "Is there really a God and if there is, why is this world in such a mess?'
We read verses about God answering prayers, and yet at times, 
our prayers don't seem to have much effect.
We are told in the Bible, that God heals, but we still suffer and die from illnesses.
We read that God will never abandon the righteous 
and yet some face trial after trial.

I've had questions that reoccur;
 "Is there a way to know absolutely and without doubt that God exists? 
Does Christ's death really save us from eternal damnation?
Is there even a Heaven and a Hell?
How can we know?

My conclusion is that we can't.

However I can choose to believe in God, in His love for me,
in His righteousness, His Holiness and in His promises of eternal life.

This is where faith comes in - believing in that which we cannot see or verify as fact.
And I do choose to believe...
I choose this day Whom to believe in and Whom to serve.
God is my Rock, my Salvation and I will follow Him.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Granddaughters and Grandmothers

 Pizza Day in the Kitchen 

One of the joys of being a grandmother is to find ways to spend time with my grand-girls. 
One way is in the kitchen. Recently my girls wanted to learn how to make pizza from scratch. 
We spent an enjoyable few hours. 
The pizzas are gluten free since both my granddaughters have Celiac. 
The recipe they used  for their crust is found  here, and then they both chose their own toppings. 
Building memories, passing on the skills we have learned is such fun.. 
********

Azuki Koshian 


To my delight, my granddaughters beginning to do their own exploring in the kitchen.
Having a Japanese student living with them has also expanded their palates in trying foods 
other than traditional family favorites.
 My younger granddaughter recently asked me to sample the above Japanese dessert 
that she had made. 
 It has an unusual texture, a little like wet marshmallow 
with an exotic/fruity, mild flavour, and is not very sweet. 
  If you have occasion to entertain Japanese neighbours or tourists,
 my granddaughter said she found this video most helpful in instructing how to make this delicacy.
She added, 
" but also make sure to mention in your post that if a person makes it, that they should coat their hands with LOTS of corn starch before handling the sweet rice after its been in the microwave!" 
*********

A Saturday Cleaning Tip 
Another way I have always been assured of having a 'connecting' point with my girls is that if any thing needs fixing , I am the 'go-to' person. 
When my older granddaughter was a toddler, she picked up the idea that I could fix anything,
and so if anything broke, or a piece of clothing tore, or a toy didn't work, she would carry it to the front door, and say, "Nanna fix it".  
When I would come over there was always a pile at the door waiting for me ! 
That hasn't really changed, My younger granddaughter called me yesterday to ask if I could fix her favourite cream jacket.  It was dry-clean only and she had spilled chocolate on it. 
I got it  all out without even a faint remain of the stain and no rings from spot cleaning. 
What I used was the Miracle Cleaner - that white sponge thing.  

I wish I had taken photos of the before and after, but I didn't. I have used the sponge before to get hard to remove spots from clothing and it works! You  need no soap, and you don't have to wet more of the garment than just the spot, because you don't have to rinse out the soap. 
Just wet the sponge and gently rub the spot.
*******

Friday, September 11, 2015

Flashback Friday - Pumpkin Toffee Tarts

For my Flashback Friday I chose my Pumpkin Toffee Tarts because it's that time of year again! These tarts will not disappoint. The flavor of toffee bits and pecans with spicy pumpkin is a wonderful combination.

Ingredients:
  • 18 unbaked tart shells
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • toffee bits
  • chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 375º
  2. Place tart shells on baking pan.
  3. Whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, cream, eggs, vanilla and spices until well blended.
  4. Spoon 1 teaspoon of toffee bits into each tart shell.
  5. Fill tart shells almost to the top with the pumpkin mixture.
  6. Sprinkle chopped pecans over top.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

7 Layer Greek Dip

 
It's nearing the end of summer, but there's still lots of time to use those fresh veggies. I love the flavors of Greek food and this dip will fit perfectly into that category. I have made this low calorie dip several times over this past season and it's been a hit.  It's simple and easy to make. Prepare the ingredients ahead of time and layer it just shortly before serving as the cucumbers tend to get watery if they sit to long.

Seven Layer Greek Dip
  • 8 ounces store bought hummus
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, with or without fat
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 1 cup English cucumber 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 cup sweet cherry bell tomatoes 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
Instructions:
  1. Combine yogurt, dill, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Chop and prepare your vegetables and assemble just prior to serving.
  3. In a 7x11 or your favorite serving dish, layer the hummus, yogurt mixture, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, feta and olives.
  4. I have also prepared it earlier and carefully drained the excess water.
  5. Serve together with whole grain pita chips or taco chips.
 
It's a perfect dish to serve prior to supper or to end off an evening around a campfire.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Halibut with Blueberries and Sage


We have an abundance of blueberry farms in the Fraser Valley with one just a block away from our home. This summer they were available from the beginning of July right through to
the end of August so I stocked my freezer with buckets full.
Fresh or frozen, these berries taste good with almost everything, sweet or savoury.
Recently, I looked for something to compliment a nice piece of halibut and when I saw the carton of fresh bluberries in my fridge, I decided to try something new.
I borrowed the idea of sage and browned butter from a pasta recipe, combined it with those luscious blueberries and came up with a dish we really enjoyed.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4-6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic glaze (also called drizzle or reduced balsamic vinegar)
    1. fresh or frozen halibut 
    2. salt and pepper
    3. 1-2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage (how much sage you use will depend on how large a piece of fish you have)
    4. 1 tablespoon olive oil 
    5. 1 tablespoon butter
    1. Place butter in a small saucepan and melt over medium heat.
    2. As soon as the butter has melted, add the sage leaves.
    3. Continue to heat butter and sage until butter browns. Watch closely to avoid burning the butter.When the sage leaves are crisp, carefully remove them to a piece of paper towel. The browned butter is ready when small brown bits form in the bottom of the pan.
    4. Remove from heat and add blueberries and Balsamic glaze..
    5. Return to heat and cook for a few minutes, until the berries are hot and juicy but still hold their shape.
    6. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
    7. Season halibut with salt, pepper and chopped fresh sage.
    8. Grill or fry in butter and oil in a frying pan.  Do not overcook. Halibut should be cooked through but still be a bit moist in the middle.
    9. Plate the halibut, spoon the blueberry sauce over the center of it and top with the crispy sage leaves. (If you've never had a crispy sage leaf browned in butter, you're in for a treat)
    10. This recipe served 2 people.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

    Cinnamon Spice Granola


    Here is a basic granola recipe that is easy to switch up to include the seeds and nuts of your choice.   Who knew granola could taste so good?  We love it with fruit and yogurt for breakfast or even as a salad topper.  I'll be sharing our favorite granola cookie recipe here next week.

    • 4 cups large flake oats (not quick oats)
    • 3 cups of nuts and seeds of your choice (1 cup sliced almonds, 1 cup pumpkin seeds, 1 cup sunflower seeds)
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar (or maple syrup)
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. Preheat oven to 325° F (300°F for convection oven).
    2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts and seeds. 
    3. Combine the oil, honey, brown sugar (or maple syrup) and spices in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.
    4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly so that everything is moistened.
    5. Spread on two ungreased large rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool.
    6. Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to several weeks....or store in freezer.
     
      
    Suggestions:
    •  Breakfast parfait.
    • Topping for baked apples.
    • Salad topping (great on kale salad or any salad with fruit).
    • Eat it with various fruits, nuts and seeds as add-ins.   (i.e. raisins, craisins, cashews, dried apricots, dried apples, dried cherries).
    • Makes a great neighbor gift.  Pour granola in cellophane bag and tie with ribbon...or fill a glass jar.
    • Add to cookies along with dried fruits.

    Monday, September 7, 2015

    Roasted Cherry Tomato Marinara with Basil


    Happy Labour Day!

    We have enjoyed a bounty of cherry tomatoes and herbs this summer from our garden.  I find the most delicious way to make a marinara sauce is to roast the vegetables. This sauce is so flavourful, you will only need enough to coat the noodles.  It's quick to prep and even though it takes awhile to roast,  the reward is like nothing found in a jar.

    • 8 cups cherry tomatoes
    • 2 medium yellow onions
    • 1 whole bulb garlic
    • avocado or olive oil
    • salt and pepper 
    • 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
    • 1 cup fresh basil (a handful)
    • 1/4 cup fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried, if you are using dried oregano, add it to the vegetables when roasting)
    • 4 Sweet Basil Italian sausage (optional)
    1. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and arrange cut side up on a cookie sheet which you have lined with parchment paper or foil.
    2. Dice the onions and sprinkle over the pan.
    3. Drizzle lightly with oil to coat vegetables. 
    4. Slice the top off the bulb of garlic.   Put the bulb on a piece of foil and drizzle oil over top.  Press the foil around the bulb and add to the pan.
    5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and chili pepper flakes.
    6. Slice each sausage into four pieces and set aside to add to the pan for the last 30 minutes of roasting.
    7. Roast in a 400 F oven for an hour and a half or until the vegetables have roasted and most of the liquid has cooked away.  
    8. Remove sausage from pan and keep warm. Reserve 1 cup of vegetables.  Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins and add with the remaining vegetables to a food processor along with the fresh basil and oregano.  Pulse until the basil is chopped.
    • 1/2 of a small box cooked spaghetti noodles with 1 cup cooking liquid reserved for the sauce
    • grated parmesan cheese
    1. Add the sauce to the pot with the cooked pasta and add enough cooking liquid to adequately coat the pasta with sauce.
    2. Arrange pasta on a serving dish, garnish with reserved vegetables and parmesan cheese. 
    Serves 3-4