Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello? Is anybody out there?

Been a while, huh? There is a string of excuses as to why I didn't update this blog - the holiday season, two new jobs, trying to find a good balance in this new life... just instead of elaborating, I'll just say, "I'm back!".

Over the past few months I've been pretty bad at taking food photos. I did, however, manage to take a few. I'm going to add a couple of posts with a few new recipes on them, and then hopefully I can get back into the swing of things blog-wise.

This is a recipe I found in Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. I altered it only very slightly, and it was pretty good. The kids loved it, but they love anything with tofu in it.

Broccoli, Cashew Teriyaki Tofu Stir Fry


1 block extra firm tofu, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp soy sauce
1.5 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Teriyaki Sauce:

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3.5 tbsp agave nectar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger root, grated
1 tbsp arrowroot powder


2 tbsp olive oil
4.5 cups broccoli pieces
sea salt, to taste
2 tsp water
1 large bell pepper (I used red pepper), chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews

In a shallow dish, add tofu. Pour soy sauce and vinegar over the tofu for at least 10 minutes. Stir it once.

In a large bowl whisk all the ingredients for for teriyaki sauce until the arrowroot powder has dissolved.

In a large wok on high, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add the tofu and cook for 4-5 minutes, then turn over and cook the other side another 3 minutes. Remove the tofu from the wok and set aside. Turn the heat to medium, add another tbsp of oil and add the broccoli, salt and water. Toss, cover, and cook for 4-5 minutes until broccoli is bright green. Add bell peppers and saute another 1-2 minutes. Add the teriyaki sauce and increase to high heat. Toss well, and let the sauce come to a slow boil. Once it's at a slow boil and has thickened, add the tofu and cashews. Toss to combine. Remove from heat and serve over some rice noodles.


I know this isn't much to look at, but this recipe was fantastic! It was deeeeeelicious. YUM. I found it in a cookbook called 'Casseroles' while I was working at the book store (that is no longer.. so sad). I upped the garlic, omitted the cornstarch & water, but left the rest the same.

Harvest Vegetable and Lentil Casserole

1 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 parsnips, sliced
1 sweet potato, diced
8oz rutabaga, diced
3/4 cup dried brown, lentils
1 lb tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh marjoram, chopped
3 3/4 cup vegetable stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat the oil. Add leeks, garlic and celery. Cook 3 minutes. Add carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, lentils, tomatoes, thyme, marjoram and vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil and transfer to a casserole dish (we had to use two dishes). Bake for 50 minutes.


I threw this dish together one afternoon when I was stumped about what to make for dinner. It turned out quite well!

Slow Cooked Spinach & Cheese Pasta

2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 nutmeg, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups whipping cream
5 cups baby spinach
1 red pepper, chopped
1 bag medium shell noodles (uncooked)
1 cup parmesan cheese

In a medium-large sized pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Add the pepper, salt, nutmeg, garlic, Dijon, ricotta cheese, spinach and whipping cream. Mix until smooth and the spinach has wilted. Place the noodles in a slow cooker, and add the mixture from the pot. Add the red pepper and stir to combine. Add the grated parmesan cheese to the top, cover and cook on high for about 3 hours. Test your pasta to see if it's cooked through since cooking times vary with different slow cookers.


I've been making these cookies for about 4 years now. I found them in 'Vegan with a Vengeance'! These are Rhianna's favourite cookie!

Ginger Molasses Cookies

4 tbsp raw sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup soy milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Place the raw sugar in a bowl.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. In a large bowl mix together the canola oil, molasses, soy milk, sugar and vanilla. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Roll into 1 inch balls, flatten and roll in the sugar.

Bake for about 10 minutes.


Peanut Butter Blossoms - definitely a favourite holiday cookie in this house!


These cookies are my Mum's specialty. My siblings and I all love Mum's whipped shortbread, and quite frankly, it isn't the holiday season until you take your first bite of these melt-in-your-mouth cookies.

Whipped Shortbread

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl add the butter, cornstarch, icing sugar and salt. Using an electric mixer, mix until the dry ingredients have been absorbed into the butter. Add the flour and continue to mix until the dough's texture is like whipped cream.

Drop by small teaspoons onto a cookie tray. Top with some sprinkles or half of a maraschino cherry and bake until very light brown at the edges, 8-10 minutes.


Our New Year's Eve was delightful. We had a quiet night at home and let the kids stay up to ring in the new year for the first time. I made these special virgin drinks for midnight and they were enjoyed by all.

Sunset Sippers

3 cups orange juice
1 1/2 cups apple juice
3/4 cup lemonade
12 oz ginger ale
grenadine syrup

In a large pitcher, combine the orange juice, apple juice, lemonade and ginger ale. Pour 1-2 tbsp of grenadine in each glass and top with the mixed juice.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

People have been asking...

I did it! I finally caught up!

Here are the links to the entries I wrote tonight... enjoy!

A photo post catch up!

What have we been up to since my computer cord died? Well, here are some photos to catch you up. :)

My little Scooter cat (on the right) has had some pretty rough days. She's been having strokes, losing feeling in her legs, falling against walls, throwing up regularly and even went to the bathroom on the middle of the floor. This is so heartbreaking. I've been pretty heartbroken about her and getting to the point where I know I need to make that horrible decision.. but then she'll turn around and have a bunch of really good days - like right now. This is so hard. She is so happy when she's not having a bad moment and honestly doesn't seem to be in any pain at all. Being a furbaby parent is not easy. I've had her for 15 years and I really don't want to say goodbye yet. I adore this picture of her and Mirri (the rather chunky kitty in the photo) because Scooter never lets the other cats cuddle her anymore. She's very bone-y and I assume it isn't terribly comfortable for her at this point. That evening she let Mirri rest her head on her bum and I could have melted. Awww.

We have had a double whammy of sick furbabies in our house. Tiernan's rat, Ratatta, has mycoplasma (very common among rats) which is a lung illness. She had what's called a "mycro flair up" and it had me crying for days. I didn't like seeing her in pain like that. She was wheezing, coughing, sneezing.. and not just gently. The poor little girl was so defenseless. She would have trouble eating because she wasn't able to breathe (but did eat, which is a good sign!), she slept a LOT, and she would look at me with those gentle little eyes asking for help. The worst was when she stuck her little paw down her throat to try and open up her lungs. Heart wrenching! I spent a lot of time holding her while she slept, giving her extra vitamins A & C and little bits of dark chocolate. I'm happy to report that the flair up is over now, and although she's still not "normal" again, she is much, much better!

Aww, look at Rhi's little nose peeking out from a hole in their hammock! Adorable! Poor Rhi felt lost when Ratatta was sick, too. Usually they cuddle together all day, everyday. When Ratatta was sick she made sure to leave her alone when she was sleeping. Ratties are so smart!

While we're on the topic of pets, November 2nd was Mystic's birthday. Mystic was our border collie cross who we had from the time Avery was 8 months old, and who we had to say farewell to back in February of 2009. She was a beautiful dog, full of life and spunk. She was a runner and loved to herd the kids around when they were little. She was a talker, could get a bit grumpy when kids crawled on her (she had back/hip/leg problems from before she was a year), and had the most amazing brown eyes. She was my buddy, my foot warmer and I miss her each and every day. Mystic loved ice cream cones and we took her over to a local burger joint to get her a doggie cone and she would literally dance across the street after she had one. Before we said farewell to her, we took her to DQ for a cone. Every November 2nd is Mystic Day and we have an ice cream in her memory. The sting from her loss is still there, and I am certain it always will be. My Mickey-Tickey, my love. I'm certain that she was the one who brought Tibby into our lives. I still remember talking about her with Kyle while doing the dishes one morning and just bursting into tears. One of us suggested going to the Quinte Humane Society to walk some dogs (something we did from time to time) so we headed out there that Sunday afternoon. We walked a few dogs, and then I saw him. Tibbs was sitting in his kennel, keeping completely quiet and just watching me. I was drawn to him like nothing I'd ever experienced before. We took him out and knew right then and there we couldn't leave without him. I truly believe Mystic was with me that day and helped me find this boy we have now.

I am a firm believer that sometimes we need down time. That goes for my kids, too. Rhianna was feeling really under the weather and was barely eating, so I suggested she stay home for a day to recoup and rest. It was apparently just what the doctor ordered because she felt 100% better by the evening and was back to her normal self - jumping out of bed the next morning with a bounce in her step, ready to take on the day!

Rhianna's birthday is back in July, but it's nearly impossible to organize a birthday party with her friends for summertime. Instead, we wait until the Fall to celebrate. This year we went out to the movies to watch Puss n' Boots with her brothers and six of her friends from dance and school. Unfortunately, one other friend of hers was unable to make it (the poor girl has been super sick.. we're thinking about you, Kayla!). Since the party was at the theatre we decided to make some popcorn cupcakes! Rhianna just loved them!

Even her loot bags were theatre themed! Everything you need to curl up and watch a movie. ;)

Halloween was a lot of fun this year. We had a dance-a-thon for the dance studio the weekend before Halloween and I had a blast dancing around with the kids. :) I sent some snackies into school with the kids (these are the kitty cupcakes I sent with Rhianna), I made some Halloween themed food (but was in such a rush I only took pictures of one thing!), and the kids went out trick-or-treating with friends for the first time ever. I followed Rhianna around with some of my friends (mothers of Rhianna's friends) and admittedly felt a little strange without my boys! Guess I need to get used to this whole independence thing.

Here is the one photo I took - our candy corn pudding dessert. Cute, yes?

Avery dressed up as Charlie Brown's ghost from 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!'... not as the holy ghost as my friend Laura thinks! Haha.

Tiernan went as Link from Legend of Zelda!

And Rhianna went as Pippi Longstocking!

My lovely little crew before everyone dispersed for the night. Kyle dressed as a Wizard that night (I was a witch, as per every single Halloween). Even Tibby dressed up in Mystic's old hippy costume. :D I love them, oh yes I do!

How cute is Tiernan's Jack Skellington? ♥

So that about sums up our lives for the past couple of weeks. Add into this a whole lot of visits to the dance studio, a first visit to Brownies, lots of exciting soccer games for Avery (good grief, this level is intense!), plenty of soccer practices and development training, working for both Kyle and I, a tummy bug that has hit only Kyle and myself... and I think that may be it. Phew! ;)

Three is better than none, right?

I haven't had many chances to get this entry done now that my computer cord has seized, but I am completely monopolizing my husband's computer while he's out. Hopefully I can get this done and caught up so it's not so overwhelming.

Let's get right to it. Here are a couple of my favourites from the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of much so I'll be sure to make everything again so I can share.

For date night on Saturday I decided I needed a warm spinach and artichoke dip. Needed! Didn't take much to throw it together and it was divine served with some pumpernickel bread. I could totally eat some of that again now.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

4 cups baby spinach
1/2 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup parmesan cheese + 1 cup
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook the spinach leaves in a wok until wilted, being careful they don't stick.

Warm the cream cheese up in the microwave for about a minute until it's softened.

Mix all of the ingredients (aside from the extra cup of parmesan cheese) together in a shallow casserole dish, mixing well. Top with the remaining parmesan and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.


On one of our crazy dance days I made a slow cooker lentil soup with some cheese buns. It doesn't look like much, but it was quite tasty and filling so worth recording.

Lentil Soup

1 lb dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 qt of vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
a few handfuls of baby carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 cups water
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Throw it all in a slow cooker and let it cook on low all day long.


I made this creamy slow cooked rigatoni today because it was the dreaded Flyer Day. This allowed everyone to have a quick bite to eat before leaving the house to deliver flyers, and the intention was to have the salad and bread when they got back from flyers. The pasta turned out really well for something so simple, I must say. Much better than the photo looks. ;)

Creamy Slow Cooked Rigatoni

4 cups rigatoni, cooked for about 7 minutes until just tender
28 oz crushed tomatoes
10 oz can cream of mushroom soup
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups grated cheddar cheese

Mix together the crushed tomatoes, mushroom soup, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese into the slow cooker and stir well to combine. Throw in the already cooked and drained pasta and mix together.

Cook for about 4-5 hours on low.

52 Meals, 52 Countries, 52 Weeks - Laos

My wee girl picked Laos for our newest "trip around the world"! I can't tell you how happy I was with that because it means she truly is a girl after my own heart. I have loved Laos for ... well, decades. I've had this infatuation with the beautiful little country, and my dream is to go on The Gibbon Experience in Northern Laos. Recently a good friend of mine went to live there (as well as Thailand) for a few months. To say I was jealous would be an understatement. Green with envy just doesn't cut it. I lived for the emails I would get about her adventures. I would drink in every single word she wrote as if I was lucky enough to experience it myself. I will go there some day, that much I know. I am positive of it. Perhaps after a trip to Europe we might take a trip to Asia? Oh yes, just maybe.

Now, having said that about that lovely, beautiful little country... this was by far the most difficult week to find vegetarian food! Not only did it have to be vegetarian, but it also had to be ingredients I could find. Do you think I could find fresh lemongrass or banana leaves? Um, that would be a big fat no! I'd love to revisit Laos again after visiting a bigger city to get ingredients. Oh well, at least what we did have we enjoyed. The kids had second helpings and there really wasn't much left over, so that is a good sign. I couldn't find much about dinner etiquette either and what I did find was contradictory, so I think we failed on that front.

For dinner I made a cold green bean salad called Akha Beans, some marinated tofu, some sticky rice (Kao Niao) (done in a rice cooker like this... I need a steamer basket now cause the kids loved the rice!) and some dipping sauce for the rice (which is the same as the marinade I used for the tofu). I loved the tofu and the marinade for the rice. LOVED. It was an interesting train of tastes. First sweet, then salty and finally spicy. Delicious!

Akha Beans

1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into smaller pieces
1 head of garlic, with the top cut off
2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, chopped

Wrap the garlic and ginger in foil and roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350.

Steam the green beans in some water for a few minutes. Drain, rinse and place in a bowl.

When the garlic and ginger are ready and have cooled enough that you can handle them, remove the garlic cloves from the peel and place them, along with the ginger and salt into a mortar and pestle and grind until it becomes uniform.

Add the mixture to the beans and mix well. Add the soy sauce, mint leaves, cilantro and green onions and toss well.


Lao Tofu Marinade and Dipping Sauce
(you would need to make this recipe twice if you wanted both)

2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp garlic chili sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
pinch of star anise

Mix together. Use immediately for a dipping sauce, or marinate some dry fried tofu in it for the day. Reheat the tofu by dry-frying it for a bit on the stove.

Check it out! Our map is looking better week by week.

52 Meals, 52 Countries, 52 Weeks - Japan

I'm a bit behind when it comes to blogging right now since my laptop cord decided to die on me. Finding time on my husband's computer when he's not using it and I actually have time is not an easy task. Despite the fact that I haven't been updating, I have been recording our kitchen adventures. Which brings me to...

Japan! This was Tiernan's first country of choice, and I have to say there were no complaints from me. I love everything about Japan - the people, the scenery, the way of life. Just take away the dolphin slaughtering and you have a perfect place. ;)

For our meal we could have made sushi, but that's a regular occurrence around here, so we went with some Udon Noodle Soup, a Wakame Salad and some Pockys for dessert. Originally I wanted to make an adzuki bean dessert, but my local ethnic food store was completely out of them. Soooo, we opted for one of the kids' favourites - Pockys! Unfortunately you can't get any of the fun flavours here in Belleville, but a Pocky is a Pocky. Dinner was definitely a success with all three kids devouring every bit of it. Tiernan loved it all the same, Rhianna loved the salad best and Avery loved the soup best. Those three are always so different from each other. :) I find the flavouring in Japanese food makes me feel awake and alive!

In Japan you typically sit on the floor with your feet tucked under you, in front of a low table. We don't have any such table, so we sat around a games table with the legs down. Haha, not exactly authentic, but it still did the trick. We were very careful when it came to the Japanese dinner rules - like never leaving your chops sticks sitting inside your bowl, and never using them to point at anyone or anything. To eat the soup we read that we were to eat the noodles and mushrooms (etc) with the chopsticks (slurping welcomed!) and then drink the broth. Feet are to be resting under you, and never pointing out at anyone else. With our dinner we served loose leaf green tea and I think this might have been the kids' favourite part. We made sure to follow the Japanese tea customs as well. For instance, you should never ask for a drink. If you would like some tea and no one has served you any, you can fill up everyone else's cups before topping up your own. It is polite to top up anyone's cup if they have room for more tea. If you don't want any more to drink, you simply leave your cup full. It took some getting used to, but by the end of dinner the kids were all serving the whole table. Fun! The only Japanese words we learned for this was "itadakimasu" which they say before eating which means "I receive" and "gochisousamadeshita" at the end of dinner meaning "It was a feast".

Wakame Salad

10 oz dried wakame
4 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, slived
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1/2 tbsp black sesame seeds

Place the seaweed in a large bowl and cover with water. Soak for 5-6 minutes until it's tender and tripled in size. Drain.

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, sugar, garlic and green onions. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Toss the seaweed with the dressing and let it sit at least 10 minutes allowing the tastes to mingle.


Udon Noodle Soup

1 package of dried mixed mushrooms
4 slices of ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1400 ml of water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp sherry
4 single serve packs of udon noodles
2 chopped green onions

Mix the mushrooms, ginger, garlic and water in a pot. Bring it to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the mushrooms are rehydrated. Add the sugar, soy sauce and sherry and simmer another minute or two.

In the meantime, cook the udon noodles in a separate pot of boiling for 5 minutes. Drain well.

Divide the noodles among the individual bowls. Ladle some of broth into the bowls to cover the noodles. Top with some green onion and serve.


Pocky! :)

We now have two countries coloured in on our Asian map! Such fun!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A good sort of day is the best sort of day.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love PA days (when I don't have to work myself!)? Cause I really, really do. I got to sleep in until 8:30 (Ave slept until 9:30!), relax with my kids, make some grub, work on costumes, laugh with the kidlets, work on our 52 Meals, 52 Countries, 52 Weeks planning, catch up on laundry and decorate for Halloween/Samhein. I find it so delightful that I genuinely like my children's personalities. If we weren't related I would still choose to have them as company. I love it.

Along the foodie theme of this blog, I forgot to mention that my parents drove to Winnipeg recently to spend some time with my beloved uncle who is not doing well health wise. Since they were going, they offered to bring us back anything we had cravings for since it's been two years since we've been there. Kyle chose Hys seasoning salt - with MSG! We can only get the no-msg stuff here, and he really loves to make BBQ potatoes with this goodness. Yum! Our children chose Robin's eggs, of course. Like Timbits, but so much better! Toasted coconut ones? OH YES.

Now you're probably waiting with bated breath to see what I chose, aren't you? Well, I actually told them I didn't want anything. I did briefly joke about banana cake from Jeanne's Bakery, but I certainly wasn't serious about it! Bringing a cake across Manitoba and Ontario is a difficult task. But when we went to visit them they pulled out a whole cake. I was shocked, to say the least. The whole family enjoyed this cake immensely (including my Dad who I left a piece for... Mum doesn't like Jeanne's cakes). Whyyyy we can't have one of the bakeries out here in Ontario is beyond me. I wish!

Behold the beauty of a banana Jeanne's cake! ♥ Moist, delicious cake like no other, light icing that's not overly sugary, rich chocolate shavings all over the outside and the best shortbread cookie on the bottom! Lovely. 100% lovely.

For dinner tonight I made a simple roasted red pepper pasta with a caesar salad. It was sweet and scrumptious. Mmmm. We even had dessert! I made something that was s'more like! It was a big hit, though a bit too sweet for me.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

bag of penne pasta
4 red bell peppers
2/3 cup blanched almonds, finely ground
4 tbsp olive oil
juice from half a lemon
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Cut the peppers into quarters and de-vein. Place on a baking sheet, peel side up and cook for about 25 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Once cooled, peel off the skin.

Cook the penne according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree the red peppers, finely ground almonds, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and put it back in the pot. Add the pasta sauce and toss until covered.



1 package pound cake, cut into 12 even slices
3 Jersey Milk chocolate bars
1 jar marshmallow creme

Take a slice of pound cake, add 4 squares of Jersey Milk chocolate to the top of it, followed by 2 tsp of marshmallow creme and another slice of pound cake. Continue until the pound cake is finished.

Heat an indoor grill and place the s'more sandwiches inside. Cook for a couple of minutes until the insides start coming out the sides. Be careful not to leave it too long or it will burn!