Monday, 27 October 2014

Eggnog French Toast (Holiday Breakfast)

I found my first container of Eggnog in the store this week (it's mid-October), so I couldn't resist a nice glass of Eggnog and rum before bed. Yum, it just sends me to a happy place instantly. I know...a little early for holiday cheer to be starting...

This morning we were all feeling a little under the weather with the lovely cold that is making it's rounds and when we're sick we get to eat comfort food (this SO doesn't fit into my clean eating program). Lady & Bug love French Toast (but we have to call it square pancakes because they're  4 and crazy) and I thought I'd spice my usual recipe up with some nog - it was yummy, so I'm sharing it!

Eggnog French Toast

4 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Eggnog (or milk for regular French Toast)
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
8 slices Bread
Confectioner's (Icing) Sugar (optional)
Butter (optional)
Maple Syrup (optional)

Combine eggs, eggnog, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl wide enough to fit a piece of bread in the bottom (I use an 8" x 8" casserole dish). 

Preheat a griddle or frying pan to medium heat. Coat each side of the bread with the egg mixture and place on the hot pan to cook until it browns (about 2 minutes per side) then flip.

Serve with a dusting of confectioner's sugar, butter or maple syrup.

A great Christmas morning or New Year's Day breakfast.


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Natural Cough Candies for Kids (Happy Throat Pops)

Cough, cough, cough. Sneeze, drip, drip, drip. Mommy, I have "BOOGERS"!

Ugg. I am tired of the non-stop cold that seems to circulate around my house in the winter, anyone else with me? It starts a few days after school begins and ends a few days after they finish. Kids and germs - yuck. 

I've scoured my local pharmacies many times late at night trying to find something I can give my kids, but there's almost nothing for kids under 6. Seriously, why is it so hard for a company to come up with a safe solution on a stick so our kids have something to soothe a sore throat?

Well nothing commercial seems to exist, so I decided to make my own (plus then I get to make them with ingredients I want my kids to have). 

Happy Throat Pops

4 bags Lemon & Ginger Tea
1 cup Hot Water
2 cups Honey* or Agave (you can also use sugar)
1 Lemon, Juice and grated peel
4 drops Lemon Essential Oils**
candy thermometer (or skills at using the candy test with cold water)
popsicle sticks
Popsicle molds

(*Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age. **Please make sure your essential oils are safe for ingestion, Click here for my recommendation.) 

Brew a strong cup of Lemon & Ginger tea using hot water and 4 tea bags. Let sit for about 15 minutes before beginning to make your pops. In a large pot, add tea, honey, and the juice/grated peel of 1 lemon. Stir until mixture comes to a boil, stop stirring and bring mixture to 150C/300F or Hard Crack Stage (this takes a while as the water boils off). Let cool a bit until mixture starts to thicken and stir in 4 drops of Lemon Essential Oils. Pour into oiled (cooking spray works well) candy molds (or make your own with cornstarch or confectioners sugar) and insert sticks. Let cool until fully hardened then remove from molds.

Happy throats, Happy kids, Happy Mom.

It's nice to finally have a natural solution for the cold & flu season.


Turkey Tetrazzini

I still have lots of leftovers from Turkey Day in my freezer so here's my yummy easy alternative to turkey sandwiches or turkey soup.

Turkey Tetrazzini

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Sliced Mushrooms
2 cups Milk
1 cup Herb and Garlic Cream Cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 cup Peas, frozen
4 cups Turkey shredded or chunked (or substitute chicken)
1/2  package of Spaghetti, cooked (about 450g)
2 cups Mozzarella, shredded

In a large saucepan, heat oil and brown onions & garlic. Add mushrooms and cook until they start to get watery. Add milk, cream cheese, parmesan, peas and turkey and cook for 5 minutes until cream cheese is melted, but not boiling. Add cooked spaghetti and toss to combine evenly.

Pour spaghetti mixture into an oven safe dish and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes covered and an additional 10 minutes uncovered. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Perfect way to use up leftover turkey or substitute chicken for an easy family friendly dinner. This recipe freezes well too.


Monday, 20 October 2014

Halloween Sparkle Slime

It was raining cats and dogs today...well not really, but I'm pretty sure the sky was falling. We were not going out for any reason, time to pull out the inner creative mamma and find something fun to do.

Lady & Bug & I decided to make little gifts for their preschool classmates for halloween treat bags instead of sending candy along. If you're 4, what could be better than getting a little container of slime?

So we searched Pinterest and I tried out a bunch of recipes that didn't quite work and we ended up adjusting a few to make the right consistency.

So here's the recipe we used, it made it a bit less stringy and more solid, which was exactly what I was looking for (to keep things a little cleaner)!

Slime Recipe

1 cup Warm Water
1 tsp Borax
1/2 cup Liquid School Glue (we used clear)
1/2 cup Warm Water
Food Colouring
2 separate containers for mixing (I used measuring cups)

In one container, combine 1 cup warm water and 1 tsp Borax, stir well until borax is dissolved.

In another container combine 1/2 cup of warm water and glue. Add any colour and glitter you want to the glue mixture. We made orange with 2 drops of red food colour and 7 drops of yellow along with 1 tsp of glitter and mixed well.

Pour water/borax container into glue/colour/glitter mixture. Stir until the mixture starts to become thick and gloopy.

Pour the extra water out and squeeze the slime a bit until it becomes dry.

Lady wasn't so interested in helping so Bug and I worked on it together.

Oh and look who decided to join in on the fun...

And after an hour of making slime snakes we finally finished our task.

Voila....little containers of orange halloween sparkle slime.


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Creamy Pumpkin Coconut Soup

Looking for something to do with those Thanksgiving/Halloween Pumpkins?

 I'm a huge fan of Indian food and this lovely soup is a great way to use up pumpkins (or just buy the canned pumpkin if you don't have one handy). 

Creamy Pumpkin Coconut Soup

1/4 cup Coconut Oil
1 Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Curry Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Mango Powder*
1/4 tsp ground Coriander
3 cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
2 cups Chunks of Fresh Pumpkin or canned Pumpkin Puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling) 
1 cup Coconut Milk 

In a large saucepan, heat coconut oil. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion becomes soft and translucent and starts to brown. Add spices and cook until it starts to become fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add broth and pumpkin puree and bring to a boil (if you are adding fresh pumpkin chunks you can boil them until they are soft). Remove from heat and add coconut milk. Carefully blend hot soup using a hand blender or a stand blender. Serve with coconut milk and fresh cilantro if desired.

I think of Indian Autumn when I eat this soup and how wonderful it must be, but I really don't know what that's like because I've only been there in the absolute blistering heat of July! 


*Mango Powder can be hard to find if you don't have an indian market nearby. It can be omitted if you can't find it. I have also used Epicure's Mango Curry seasoning to make this.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Maple Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a staple at many holiday family dinners. I love their flavour and my favourite way to have them is with extra sweetness and cinnamon, almost like dessert.

Maple Sweet Potatoes

10 cups Sweet Potatoes, diced in bite sized pieces
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Boil sweet potatoes in water for 10-15 minutes until they are tender. Drain and combine with remaining ingredients in a bowl, coating the sweet potatoes. Pour into an oven safe dish and bake at 350 F for 20-30 minutes until they start to brown.

A sweet kid (and adult) pleaser at Holiday meals.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Slow Cooker Stuffing

This year I managed to make our entire Thanksgiving Dinner without using my oven! I used Nana Ladybug's electric roaster for the turkey and the stuffing was made in my crock pot. Not only less to do, it turned out to be much faster and left me wondering what I forgot!

Slow Cooker Stuffing

3/4 cup Butter
1 Onion, diced
2 stalks Celery, diced
1 cup Fresh Mushrooms, diced
3/4 tsp Poultry Seasoning
1/2 tsp dried Sage
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/4 tsp dried Marjoram
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 loaf bread, cubed & dried overnight (about 10 cups of bread cubes)
1 Egg, beaten
3 cups Chicken Stock (add another 1/2 cup if you like your stuffing really moist)

Melt butter in a skillet. Cook onion, celery and mushrooms until onion is translucent and celery is tender. Remove from heat and add seasonings, chicken stock and egg. Stir well. Fill slow cooker with bread cubes and pour vegetable/broth mixture over bread. Toss carefully to combine and cook for 45 minutes on HIGH. Turn down to LOW and cook for an additional 4-6 hours.

Serve with your favourite roast, turkey dinner, or instead of packaged stuffing in casseroles like Creamy Swiss Chicken.

I love turkey day. Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, 10 October 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Oooh, this is my 200th post! I can't believe I made it this far, I'm not normally someone to keep going with things, I hardly ever finish projects, but this has been so fun and so fulfilling for me. Thanks to all my readers for your support in the last 2 & 1/2 years.

It's fall, although you'd never know it  by the thermometer outside (22 C right now!), so I'm in full on autumnal mode. Time for my favourite Autumn soup, Butternut Squash.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
1 large Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp Butter
2 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Cream or Sour Cream

On a baking sheet, arrange butternut squash, onions and garlic in a single layer and coat with Olive Oil & salt. Roast in a 350 F oven for 10-20 minutes until soft and a little golden coloured.

In a saucepan, heat butter until melted. Add squash, onion, garlic and cinnamon. Cook for 2 minutes until vegetables are coated in cinnamon and butter. Add Chicken stock and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to combine flavours.

Let cool for a few minutes then use a hand blender (carefully) or a standing blender to blend the ingredients. Top with cream or sour cream and extra brown sugar if desired.

Delicious, decadent, and easy. The perfect autumn soup.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Country Dill Pickles

I love dill pickles. LOVE. I used to get a jar in my stocking at Christmas and be absolutely thrilled about it (my parents knew me well!). My love for pickles hasn't changed and I've somehow managed to pass it on to Bug.

So, when I was deciding that this would be the year I tried to preserve all the things we buy from the store in canned form and learn to make yummy things, the very first thing on my list was Dill Pickles.

I've never made pickles before, not even as a kid with my mom, so this was an interesting project. I decided to try 3 different variations and have a taste test to see which were the best. 

After a month to make them delicious, the verdict is in, and this is my favourite of the three!

Country Dill Pickles

Prepare water bath canner, 4 quart jars, lids and rims for canning. If you need instruction on canning basics I use this site to help

Prepare Brine: 
5 1/2 cups Water
1 1/2 cups White Vinegar
1/2 cup Pickling Salt

In a large saucepan, bring brine ingredients to a boil and set aside.

Fill Jars:
Cucumbers (as many as you can stuff in 4 jars...depends on the size of the cukes, I got about 10 in each)
8 heads of flowering dill (2 for each jar)
4 tsp Dill Seed (1 tsp for each jar)
16 cloves Garlic (4 for each jar)

In each jar, add fresh dill, dill seed, and garlic to the bottom. Stuff as many cucumbers in each jar as you can and fill jars with hot brine leaving 1/2" headspace at the top. Give the base of each jar a little tap (lightly) to bring any air pockets up to the surface.

Wipe rims of jars and place hot lids, hand tightening rims over the lids and place in prepared water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Let cool for 12 hours and check seals before storing in a cool place.

Yum. I love pickles.

This was surprisingly easy, not sure why I didn't do this earlier! I think I'm going to plant a whole bunch of pickling cukes, dill, and garlic next year so I can make my own dill pickles!


Monday, 6 October 2014

Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is pretty much the best thing in the world when you're feeling sick or sad or just need a little "pick me up". My favourite is super chunky and only takes 15 minutes to make. 

Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3-4 Chicken Breasts, in 1" chunks
1 Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Celery Ribs, thick slices
2 Carrots, peeled & Cut in thick slices
3 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Cup Water
1-2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 cup Egg Noodles, uncooked

In a large saucepan, heat oil. Add chunks of chicken breast and cook until slightly browned. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add Garlic, celery, and carrots and cook for 3 minutes to soften. Add seasoning, chicken stock, and water and bring to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook until tender.

Serve with some yummy Biscuits or Buns for a delicious comforting meal.

I usually make a double batch and freeze in 2-3 serving containers for a quick comfort meal when someone isn't feeling well in the Ladybug house.


Friday, 3 October 2014

Slow Cooker Balsamic Onion Roast

This roast was amazing, I wanted thirds on this one! It was really easy and yummy and SO worth the extra steps at the beginning.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Onion Roast Beef

2 Tbsp Oil (your choice, I use olive)
3-4 lb Beef Roast (your choice of cut)
3 Onions, cut in rings
1 cup Beef Stock 
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar (optional)

Heat oil in a skillet. Brown all sides of Roast, nice and brown to add colour and flavour. Remove from pan and place in slow cooker. Add onion rings to slow cooker. Deglaze hot pan using beef stock. Reduce stock to about 1/2 cup then add balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, and brown sugar (optional). Stir until combined and heated. Pour over Beef.
Cook on low for 5-7 hours (depending on desired "doneness" and size).
Remove meat and wrap in foil to let rest while you prepare the sauce. Pour sauce and onions into a skillet and reduce sauce until it thickens (about 5-10 minutes). Pour over meat before serving or serve as "gravy". 

Amazing flavour and a nice change from the traditional roast beef.