Monday, 29 September 2014

Moroccan Chicken Stew

Delicious, sweet, and full of wonderful spices, this dish is a great alternative to your regular rainy day comfort food.

Moroccan Chicken Stew

2 Tbsp Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
4 Chicken Breasts, large cubes
1 Eggplant, 1" pieces
4 cups Yams or Sweet Potatoes or Butternut Squash or a combination, 1" pieces
4 large Carrots, 1" pieces
2 Onions, diced
6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Ginger, fresh grated
1/2 cup Golden Raisins
3/4 cup Dried Apricots, chopped
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Cayenne (optional)
1/2 cup Almonds (any kind)
1 Tbsp Honey (Optional for a sweeter dish)

Freezer Instructions: In a saucepan brown chicken in oil, add onions, garlic and ginger and cook until onions start to brown. Add Chicken mixture to freezer bag and remaining ingredients. Freeze. To use, defrost for 24 hours.

Slow Cooker Instructions: Brown chicken and onions. Pour into a slow cooker and add eggplant, yams, carrots and onion with garlic, ginger, raisins, and apricots. Combine broth, tomato paste, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon and pepper in a bowl and pour over vegetables. Top with almonds and cook for 3 hours on high or 5 hours on low. Add cornstarch (mix with a little water) if the sauce is too thin when serving.

If you happen to be lucky enough to own a real tagine, use it instead of the slow cooker - I can only dream!

Serve with couscous, rice, pasta or pita or eat on it's own for a clean meal!

Yum, a little taste of North Africa to brighten up a cool rainy day.


Freezer Meals: Big Cook Fall 2014

If you've been following my blog, you know this is coming when you see a whole bunch of slow cooker & freezer meals pop up! This fall's Big Cook was more of a Big Cook week rather than a day.

Life's been a little busy and I haven't really had a whole day to dedicate to this project, so I made 2 meals each day and tucked them away in the freezer. I found this to be less stressful for me than previous big cooks, so I might try this tactic again next time! The best part was that each day I just had to throw whatever I planned for dinner that night into the crock pot and make 2 extras for the freezer. It took a little longer but the freezer's still full!

I bought a bigger freezer this year, but I still keep the old little one just for freezer meals, works great and helps me keep my frozen foods a little more organized.

Here's my this Big Cook's meals for Fall 2014!

3 of each meal make 30 meals in my little freezer and I should be able to survive for a few months without much cooking.

Ready for a busy fall!

If you're planning your own big cook, check out my previous Big Cook posts and freezer meal ideas on my Freezer Meal page!


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Comfort Beef Stew

It's rainy today...really rainy! I'm happy for the rain after several months of hot, dry weather, but that doesn't mean I don't crave comfort food on these days! 

As you probably know, I'm working on making more food for my family that is homegrown, organic or as homemade as possible. This meal almost fits, a family member raised the beef for us, carrots, potatoes, onions, peas, and garlic came from the garden, and the mushroom soup, tomato sauce and onion soup mix are homemade. 

Whew, all that hard work this summer makes a yummy meal!

Comfort Beef Stew

1 lb Cubed Beef Stew Meat
2 cups Baby Carrots
4 Red Potatoes, large cubes
1 Onion, large cubes
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cans Condensed Mushroom Soup (or make your own)
1 cup Tomato Sauce
1 cup Frozen Peas
1/3 cup Onion Soup Mix (or make your own)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
3 Tbsp Cornstarch & water (add last 1/2 hour of cooking)

Freezer Instructions: Combine all ingredients except cornstarch in a freezer bag (double bag if you want, it will be pretty full!). Freeze. To use, defrost for 24 hours.

Slow Cooker Instructions: Combine all ingredients except cornstarch in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Add Cornstarch and water (make a paste) for the last half hour of cooking to thicken the gravy. 

Serve with delicious warm biscuits - try my Aged White Cheddar Biscuits for a delicious comfort meal on a cool rainy day!


Saturday, 27 September 2014


Not my usual kind of post today, but It's been a week full of joy and sadness. I can't seem to escape it when this week rolls around every year. 

Lady and Bug celebrated their 4th birthday (happy birthday little ones!) on Sunday,

 and today we remember our first child.

Several friend have been grieving this week too and this is a topic that isn't talked about often. Pregnancy loss. We keep it hidden, our own personal pain.

The pain is real and we need to talk about it, so today I'm going to talk about mine.

I wish it was a topic that we could talk about more - we need support from others who have survived the grief before us and know how to support those around us who have lost.


Today I remember.

Five years ago.
I didn't know how I could go on.
20 weeks and no heartbeat.
This little box. 
Memories of those few months. 
Reminder of a little life. 

I'd let my guard down.
Started to plan. 
The worst words possible, "I'm so sorry, there's no heartbeat." 
Confusion, pain, and deep unexplainable sadness. 
Crushed, beyond anything I could have imagined. 

Then began the waiting.
The worst part.
I just wanted the nightmare to be over.

I don't remember much.
Medication to dull the pain. 
That tiny little body
Every little detail was there. 
My little boy.

Then came the emptiness. 
The pain. 
The anger.

Grieving and waiting.

On his due date, new life again.
"hold on a second, I think I see something else in there" 
"It's TWINS!" 

Excited and scared.
Many weeks of fear.
Many weeks of anticipation.
Two of everything.

Beautiful girl. Beautiful boy.
So tiny and thriving.
Joy. Fear. Joy.
Hello my Chickadees.

Life changed forever.
Busy. Overwhelmed.
Heart healed.
So much love.

5 years later.
Pain is less.
I still remember.
It's never easy.

Happy Birthday little one!


Friday, 26 September 2014

Onion Soup Mix

I seem to go through a lot of onion soup mix in recipes, it's an easy way to bring lots of flavour to a dish. It's one of those things that I have no idea what's in it, so I decided to work on making my own.

Onion Soup Mix

1 cup Dried Onion Flakes
1/2 cup Beef Bouillon Granules (I use low sodium)
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Parsley Flakes
1/2 tsp Celery Seed
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Combine ingredients in a food processor (I use my magic bullet) and pulse a few times to mix and grind the onion flakes smaller (mine are huge!). Use 6 Tbsp to replace 1 package in recipes.

I store mine in a jar to keep it fresh, the humid air here makes the bullion clump together. 

Use the onion soup mix to add flavour to Easy Slow Cooker Roast Beef & Gravy, Meatloaf, or Beef Stew.

Off to make Beef Stew and Aged White Cheddar Biscuits for my hungry little ladybugs!


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Slow Cooker Pizza Bake

This is a great meal to have in the freezer for unexpected guests or a quick dinner when you forget to plan ahead. The sauce can be used to make a delicious crockpot meal or an oven baked casserole. Best of all it's pretty much a guaranteed crowd's Pizza on Pasta with Cheese!

Slow Cooker Pizza Bake
Serves 6

1 lb Ground Beef
1 lb Italian Sausage (casings removed)
1 Onion, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Sliced Mushrooms (or a can of sliced mushrooms)
2 cups Tomato Sauce
1 cup Pizza Sauce
1 cup Water
1 Tbsp Oregano
3 cups Mozzarella, shredded
3 cups Cooked Pasta

Brown ground beef and sausage. Add onion, green pepper, garlic and mushrooms and cook until onions become transparent. Add mixture to a slow cooker. In a separate bowl, combine tomato sauce, pizza sauce, water and oregano and pour over meat mixture. Stir well and cook on high for 3 hours on high or 5 hours on low. Serve over cooked pasta and top with mozzarella cheese.

This can also be made in the oven: add cooked pasta to the bottom of a casserole dish. Pour meat sauce over noodles and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes (or until cheese starts to brown) at 350F.

This meal freezes really well and perfect for those "what's for dinner" days. Just take out of the freezer and defrost in the microwave or pop freezer bag into a sink of cold water for about an hour before using.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

Daddy Ladybug is a huge fan of wings made with Frank's Hot Sauce from a certain local joint, so I attempted to make him happy today. They weren't wings and they weren't deep fried, so I'm not sure if I succeeded, but I made a few adjustments to make it a healthier meal. Even in it's non-deepfriedness, it was yummy with a nice little kick and a crunch!

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Wraps

6 Chicken Breasts 
1 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce 
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp Butter

1/4 cup Celery, diced small
1/4 cup Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
1-2 tsp Blue Cheese, crumbled (optional)
Wraps or Kaiser Buns (your choice)

Place chicken breasts into the base of the slow cooker. Melt butter and mix with hot sauce and chicken stock and pour over chicken. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours until chicken shreds easily. Remove chicken from liquid and shred. Add celery, greek yogurt and blue cheese (optional). Serve on a wrap or bun.

If you're a fan of hot sauce, this is delicious and easy!


Monday, 22 September 2014

Chicken Provençale

      As some of you know, I'm working on eating a cleaner diet to go with my fitness challenge, so I've been trying to come up with something that is tasty, healthy, and slow cooker friendly. I'm not sure if this would exactly fit in a 100% "clean eating" plan, but it's pretty close.

      Chicken Provençale
      Serves 6

      12 Chicken Thighs
        1 yellow Pepper
          1 red Pepper
            2 -16 oz cans White Cannellini Beans, drained & rinsed
            1-28 oz can Diced Tomatoes (drained about 1/2 cup of juice out before adding)
            3 Tbsp Fresh Basil, chopped
            1 Tsp Fresh Thyme leaves & a few sprigs for garnish
            2 Tbsp Sugar (optional)
            Salt & Pepper to taste

          Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve.

          Delicious and healthy.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Slow Cooker Beef Bulgogi (Korean Beef)

Daddy Ladybug and I went to North Korea (DPRK) last summer with Koryo Tours (ya, you really can go to North Korea, it was perfectly safe!). As many of you know, my favourite part of travel is food - surprised?! The food wasn't very good there for the most part as they have such heavy sanctions that things we take for granted like spices and variety of food are not available to them. They are an extremely poor country and eat a very basic diet of rice, meat, and vegetables - only things they can grow. Everything comes from their country, it's hard to imagine that coming from a place where I can get anything I want from any country in the world. It was an eye opening trip for me to see the suffering, pride, ingenuity, and determination of a people who live in total self-sufficiency. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to meet North Koreans and to seem them as real people and not just the image we are given in our western media or by our governments.

We did have a few interesting meals along the way...Dog Soup...yup, we had to try that one. An Emperor's Meal with 12 different tiny dishes and rice served in bronze bowls (delicious and interesting), a make-your-own Hot Pot (yummmmm), a Korean BBQ, and Bulgogi. 

I've been trying to re-create the flavours of the Bulgogi we had and I think if my taste memory serves me right, I've done pretty good, it's great, my family loves it, and best of all, it's slow cooker friendly!

Slow Cooker Beef Bulgogi (Korean Beef) 
Serves 6

1.5 lb Beef Steak (sirloin or flank are good choices, but any thick cut will do)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce or tamari
1/4 cup Beef Broth
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Sriracha (chili sauce or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes also work)
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Fresh Ginger, Minced
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

2 Tbsp Cornstarch + a little water to make a paste
4 stalks Green Onion, diced
Sesame Seeds

Slice meat in thin strips & place in the bottom of the slow cooker. In a Separate Bowl, combine brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, garlic, ginger and salt & pepper. Pour over meat and stir. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.  Add Cornstarch mixed with a little water for the last 1/2 hour of cooking. Top with green onions and sesame seeds and serve with rice.

Freezer Instructions: Combine all ingredients except cornstarch, green onions and sesame seeds in a freezer bag and freeze. To use, defrost in a fridge for 24 hours. Empty contents of bag and cook as directed above.

Yum. A little taste of my travels on a cool rainy day.


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Goat's Pride Dairy

With our public schools on strike, we've been trying to find ways to keep all of our children entertained and educated (and us moms sane!), so a group of us have been working together to find places that will give us educational tours. 

This time we went to Goat's Pride Dairy in Abbotsford, BC. I'd post their website, but I haven't been able to find one! It's in the northwest part of Abbotsford on Olund Road, nestled in the hills near the fraser river. We drove down tiny farming roads to find this gem.

Nothing is more exciting to me than food & farm related field trips because that's what I love, local people putting their heart and soul into making beautiful things, especially things that taste delicious!

This wasn't just fun for me, it was fun for Lady & Bug and their friends to visit a farm, see how animals live, practice milking a goat, and discover how the things we eat are made (Bug is a huge cheese fan).

This was a real working farm, not a tourist destination, so it wasn't set up for taking beautiful pictures of the process. We peeked through fogged windows as the cheese maker stirred a huge pot, saw the milking area (but it wasn't milking time), made a goat craft, and played with the goats - who were huge fans of all the attention. A lovely little tour for our crew

Best of all, we brought home some goat's milk to sample and some amazing cheese, which I happily munched on with my freshly made Pepper Jelly and a glass of wine!

Fun for all of us!


Monday, 15 September 2014

Pepper Jelly

Sometimes a random act of kindness develops an addiction and inspires you to make something.

One day when Lady and Bug were about 1, we took a trip across the bridge to IKEA. As I was putting the kids in the car, I noticed the two ladies in the tiny little car beside me trying to stuff very large items in...unsuccessfully. Their frustration was evident and I could hear them 
talking about what to do. Here's me in my huge vehicle with my 2 little ones and lots of space, so I approached them and offered to help if they were going anywhere east (Ikea is about an hour's drive west of my house). Turns out they lived in the same town, just a few blocks from me and we traded information and I packed their excess home for them. The stroke of luck was the woman driving was the owner of a local condiment company, Marilyn's, and I had no idea. After delivering the goods, she brought me to her garage (which turned out to be a huge kitchen...DREAM!) and gave me one of each of her products. One of those was her red pepper jelly, for which I quickly developed an addiction.

Auntie Ladybug and I have been consuming large quantities of this red pepper jelly with our cheese platters and wine, so I thought I would try my hand at some of my own. Now I'll admit, it's not Marilyn's but it's pretty great!

Red Pepper Jelly

3 & 3/4 cups Red Peppers
1/4 cup Jalapeno Peppers (red ones if you can find them)
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Package of Pectin
5 cups Sugar

Chop Peppers in a very fine dice. Add peppers, apple cider vinegar and pectin to a large pot. Bring to a full rolling boil, constantly stirring. Add all sugar at once and return to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 more minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2" of headspace. Clean rims, add lids and rings and can in a water bath canner for 5 minutes. Let cool for 24 hours. Refrigerate or reprocess any unsealed jars. Note: Jelly will take at least a day to become firm, turn upside down after the jar seals to prevent chunks of peppers from settling.

Try this with crackers, cheese, and wine for a great night with friends! Beautiful on baked brie and a lovely Christmas hostess gift.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Big Batch Canned Pizza Sauce

I've been making so much pizza sauce that I thought I'd make a huge batch and can it this summer with all the lovely tomatoes available right now!

So, I used my regular pizza sauce recipe and quadrupled it so I could can a big batch. Turns out I may have to do this a few times...I've already used 2 jars.

Big Batch Canned Pizza Sauce

1/4 cup Olive Oil
4 Onions, diced
8 cloves Garlic, minced
14 cups Diced Fresh Tomatoes
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
6 Tbsp Honey
8 tsp Anchovy Paste
3 tsp Oregano 
1 & 1/2 tsp Marjoram
3 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste

Lemon Juice (add 2 Tbsp to each canning jar)

In a large stock pot, heat oil. Cook onion until it starts to brown, add garlic for 1 minute and then add tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes then blend with a hand blender or carefully with a food processor. 

Sterilize and heat jars before filling. Add 2 Tbsp of Lemon juice to each jar before adding hot pizza sauce to jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Add lids and rims and cook in a water bath canner for 35 minutes. Let cool for 24 hours and any unsealed jars should be refrigerated or used immediately.

Get homemade pizza sauce without all the work of making sauce from scratch. Try it with Best Ever Pizza Dough for a fabulous family pizza and games night!


Monday, 8 September 2014

Big Batch Pasta Sauce (Canned)

I've been working on preserving things we use regularly to help reduce the amount of food we buy from the store in the winter. We love our pasta sauce, so I decided to skip the meat that I usually put in it and make a big batch to can so we have homemade pasta sauce without all the work at meal time.

 Big Batch Pasta Sauce

1 cup Olive Oil
3 cups Diced Green Peppers, diced small
2 Stalks of Celery, diced small
3 cups Onions, diced small
10 cloves Garlic, minced
21 cups (6-28 oz cans) Tomatoes, diced
2 cups (16 oz) Tomato Paste 
1 cup Red Wine
2/3 cup Sugar
3 Tbsp Salt
4 tsp Dried Oregano
2 tsp Dried Parsley
2 tsp Dried Basil
2 Bay Leaves
Lemon Juice

In a large stock pot, heat oil. Add peppers, celery, and onions and cook until onion starts to turn clear and brown a bit. Add minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds before adding remaining ingredients except lemon juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Sanitize jars, heat canning water, and prepare lids. Just before adding sauce to hot jars add 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice to each jar (lemon juice increases the acidity and therefore you can use a water bath canner instead of a pressure canner). Fill jars with hot sauce, leaving 1/2" headspace. Wipe rims clean. Add hot self-sealing lids and screw on the rims. Place jars in a boiling water bath canner and ensure water is covering jars at least 1". Return water in canner to a boil and cook for 40 minutes. Remove jars from canner and let cool for 24 hours. Any jars that do not seal should be refrigerated. 

Now you can have homemade pasta sauce without waiting hours for the sauce to simmer.  You just need to add cooked ground beef and any other fixings you desire and you have an easy & fabulous spaghetti sauce.

If you're new to canning, basic canning instructions can be found at


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza Pockets

Daddy Ladybug loves all things convenience. He especially loves the food of his childhood, so today I decided to try my hand at Pizza Pockets.

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza Pockets

2 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
2/3 cups Regular or Butter Flavoured Shortening
1/2 cup Cold Water (more or less as needed)
1 cup Pizza Sauce, divided in 2 (make your own!)
1/2 cup Pizza Pepperoni, chopped in small chunks
1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 egg, beaten

Make pastry crust by mixing flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in shortening until it is the consistency of oatmeal and slowly add cold water 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing with hands, until the dough sticks together but not sticky. Roll out to about 1/4" thickness and cut 5" circles. Should make about 12 circles.

In a separate bowl, add 1/2 cup of pizza sauce to bowl, saving remaining sauce for dipping. Mix in pepperoni, mozzarella, parmesan and seasoning.

Spoon 1 Tbsp of filling into the middle of each circle, fold in half and crimp edges together with a fork, fingers, or a pastry pocket maker, ensuring edges are well sealed. (note: It's easy to want to overfill, but I've learned that adding more than a Tbsp of filling makes it run out or be difficult to seal well

Place filled pockets on a greased baking sheet and brush tops with beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes at 375F until tops start to become golden.

Heat remaining 1/2 cup of pizza sauce and serve on the side as a dip.

A great homemade lunch option, or make a double or triple batch and freeze partially cooked (about 15 minutes) and cook in the microwave to heat up for a quick snack. Great for kids, hungry teens, and Daddy Ladybug's post-hockey starvation!


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Horseradish Mash

Uncle Ladybug keeps a plot at a local community garden. This year they harvested so many potatoes that I'm trying to find ways to use them up. Daddy Ladybug gave me a great idea, he LOVES horseradish, so I decided to make mashed potatoes using his favourite horseradish.

Turned out great, a little surprising spice in creamy, delicious mashed potatoes.

Horseradish Mash

6-8 Red Potatoes (skin on), diced & boiled
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup (or more to desired texture) Half & Half
1-3 Tbsp Horseradish (according to taste, I did 2 Tbsp)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mash cooked potatoes, butter, sour cream, half and half, and horseradish until it's creamy and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and more horseradish if you want more kick!

A great alternative to regular mashed potatoes & great with a big slab of steak.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Dragon's Breath (Red Cabbage)

The garden & market are bursting with fresh fruit and veggies and I'm trying really hard to find recipes that my family will like to add a little variety to our vegetable diet. We are mostly lovers of fresh veggies and there is very little interest in cooked vegetables, so I'm working hard to add a cooked vegetable to every dinner in addition to the fresh veggies and salad that are already a staple.

When you're a mom of twin 3 year olds and you're trying to feed your family a little more vegetables, you start getting creative with names. There's nothing spicy or firey about this dish, it's not even sour like the cabbage dishes like Sauerkraut, it's almost sweet with the onion and garlic. The name Dragon's Breath is just the only way I could think of to make this dish appealing to 3 year olds, 2 adults with special needs (who sometimes react to food the way my 3 year olds do) and daddy ladybug...who also heard that cabbage was on the menu and wrinkled his nose.

Well, it was fabulous! Bug ate it all, Daddy Ladybug, Uncle Ladybug and Ms. Ladybug were happy and Lady...well...she still refuses to try anything new. I'll have to make it about 5 more times before she'll give it a try. I would eat 2 huge helpings, so I think it's on the menu for tomorrow again! 
(insert maniacal laughter here) 

This dish is inspired by a dish I had at a friend's house, I was so surprised that cooked cabbage could taste so yummy, I had to give it a go myself. She made something similar with green cabbage, but here's my version with red.

Dragon's Breath (Red Cabbage)

1 head Red Cabbage. shredded thin
1 Onion, sliced really thin
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Oil (any kind you want, the milder flavour the better)*
1 Tbsp Butter*
1/4 cup Broth (chicken or veg work best)
Salt & Pepper, to tastes

*if you really want a low-cal/low-fat dish, use a non-stick pan and skip the oil and/or butter.

In a large saucepan or skillet, heat oil and butter until butter melts. Add cabbage, onion, garlic, broth and seasoning, stir well. Cover and cook on medium low heat for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is soft.

A perfect side to Bratwurst and Mashed Potatoes.

There you have it...cabbage can be easy, healthy, and good. So next time you're in the market, don't pass by that beautiful head of red cabbage, pick it up and take it home!


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Canning Tomatoes

I am trying to increase the amount of home-made food we consume in our house, I've already reduced a lot of the processed food we eat and this summer I am working on preserving things we use often. I like to know what's in my food and I'm finding more and more that it's hard to find food in stores that doesn't contain a list of ingredients that I can't even pronounce let alone have any idea what they are or why they are being added to my food.

This unfortunately means more work for me, a whole lot of preserving, more planning, and less convenience foods.

I started a garden this year and although small, it has provided us with some home-grown food that I was able to preserve for the coming months. I have also been able to find wild berries, organic fruit, and local produce to help in that process. I'm working on canning tomatoes as we use a lot during the year. I probably purchase the equivalent of two cans of tomatoes, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, or tomato paste per week, sometimes as many as 6, depending on the menu, so I'm attempting to make a small dent in the amount we buy from the store for the next year. I know it's no where near the amount I should make, but I just don't have that kind of time!

Canning whole tomatoes was easy...diced not so much. That was a lot of work! If you want to try your hand at canning some fresh produce this year, I use this website for all the basic canning information -

I stuffed as many tomatoes as I could into the jars and squished and squished until the juice was almost to the 1/2" headspace line (my jars have a line...I didn't know that before!). I added some lemon juice and a tiny bit of salt to each jar and topped it up with a little tomato juice if needed. 

Then I cleaned the rims really well, added the lids and rings and popped them into the canner for 85 minutes...that's a long time and I'm pretty close to sea level here!

I can only fit 4 quart jars in my canner, so it's taken me a few days to get this all done, but here we are...canned tomatoes, enough for a few weeks at least!

Pasta sauce and pizza sauce are also done! Now I'm ready for a big ol' spaghetti and meat sauce meal!


Monday, 1 September 2014

Country Peach Pocket Pies

Peaches are ripe and bountiful right now and I've got a box of peaches still remaining after a day of canning. Time for some creative ways to use up peaches! Not much time left, September is here and it's almost apple season! 

Like the bite marks? I forgot to take a picture before I dove in...yum. 

Country Peach Pocket Pies

Makes 6

1 1/4 cups Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/3 cups Regular or Butter Flavoured Shortening
1/4 cup Cold Water (more or less as needed)
1 & 1/2 cups Peaches (about 2 peaches), peeled & diced*
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Flour
pinch Nutmeg
pinch Cinnamon
pinch Salt
1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Granulated or Powdered Sugar

Make pie dough with flour, salt, shortening and cold water. Mix flour and salt, then using a pastry cutter or a food processor, cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like oatmeal. Slowly add water 1 Tbsp at a time and mix with hands or pulse with processor until dough just sticks together. Do not refrigerate or use previously frozen it needs to be stretchy or it will break. Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut 5" circles or use a hand-pie maker to make the pie crust. .

Combine Peaches, sugar, flour, seasonings and lemon juice in a separate bowl.

Add 1 heaping Tbsp of filling in the centre of each pastry circles and fold outside edges together. Crimp edges together to seal or use a hand-pie maker. Brush milk on both sides to help dough brown nicely. Bake in a 375F oven for 15 minutes or until crust is nicely browned.

Dust with sugar and let them cool about 10 minutes before serving (the filling can be really hot!). Great with a big dollop of whip cream or ice cream.

Perfect sunny afternoon dessert.


*to peel fresh peaches, immerse them in a pot of boiling water for about 60 seconds until the skins start to crack. Place the hot peaches into a bowl of ice water and let them cool for about a minute, then rub the skins off. Voila...skinned peaches. Cut as needed for preserving or fresh peach recipes.