Saturday, March 22, 2014

Our brand NEW kitchen!

Part of the reason I was slacking over the last couple months, was our big kitchen reno!  We're so pleased with it, and I LOVE cooking in the new digs.

We ripped up the floors, the counter, the backsplash, the baseboard, door trim, window trim...it scared the hell out of me when it was bare bones.

We hired our amazing tiler/good friend Rob who we have used many times in the past...he did the flooring from the kitchen back door, to the front door all through my hallway as well.  He did the backsplash, and coordinated the install of our new quartz countertop.

We hired our good friend Paul who is an awesome carpenter to build us a wine rack, which rules!  He also did all of the baseboards, and window trim in the kitchen, and throughout the hallway to the front door.

Our cupboards were in really good shape and we couldn't justify getting new ones.  They just needed new colour.  My friend Laura referred me to Leo, who transformed our cupboards into brand spanking new ones!  He sands down the doors, and drawer covers four times, then paints them.  Then he came back and sanded the sides of the cupboards that are attached to the wall and painted those.

We're still working on the other aspects of it (needed some time in between to think about choices) such as paint colour, and window coverings, light fixtures.

The end result is amazing...here are some photos, and one photo will show you before and after :)












I'm going to try and catch up and KEEP current!

I've seriously been sucking at keeping up with the blog lately.  I think winter has just irritated my spirit too much that I have been forgetting to take pictures and keep my followers cooking!

I'm going to get back on the blogging wagon and keep up again....so in the meantime (before tomorrow's soup kitchen) I'll give you two good recipes that I've made three times each in the last couple months.

They're both SUPER YUMMY, and really simple.  Also, the ingredients are very inexpensive so it's a great price for a big batch of food!

First recipe is a stir fry beef recipe.  I was scouring Pinterest a couple months back for a good flavour to marinate the beef in and found this gem!

Korean Beef Stir Fry

This marinade is simple, quick, and so filled with flavour!  I chose my own veggies so I didn't follow the recipe for that component.  Each time I've made it I've chosen different veggies to switch it up.  The recipe calls for Soba noodles.  I used rice instead.  My kids don't really like soba noodles very much, in fact, neither does the husband.


Next recipe is a new favourite around here - beef stroganoff in the slow cooker!! This recipe is so easy, calls for so few ingredients, and takes nearly ten minutes in total for prep time!

Classic Beef Stroganoff

I served this over egg noodles.  It tastes amazing on day one, and as much as I don't like eating the same meal the next day for lunch, it tasted just as good on day two!


I'll post more tomorrow...after my Sunday cooking! Happy weekend to all!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Weekend just FLEW by!

What's with the weekends feeling like they don't last long these days??  And STOP it with the polar vortex already!  It's dropped a million degrees in the last two days and I'm not impressed.

My kitchen was warm as anything today, as I had my first encouter with a grease fire.  Needless to say I almost crapped my pants, but I put it out quickly and all was fine.  But my heart on the other hand, it had a major work out.  Took a while to calm down after that!

Made a lot of food today!

First up was putting a pork loin in the crock pot for some good old fashioned pulled pork!  Served on a bun.  And yummy all around!! 

This is my own recipe so here goes.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

1 pork shoulder roast, or pork loin, or really any kind other than tenderloin
1 cup of BBQ sauce of your choice
4 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp garlic powder
Freshly ground pepper

Put your pork roast in the crock pot and cover it with all of the ingredients.  Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 10 hours.  THAT'S IT!

When the time is up, shred the pork!







Next up was the recipe that caused my grease fire!  Combination of high heat, oil, and chicken fat.  Not impressed!  Anyways the recipe turned out great in the end, but I'm not sure based on the anxiety it caused me that I will be making it again :)

Maple Mustard Baked Chicken Thighs with Potatoes





Next up was a favourite around here that I haven't made for awhile - chicken, leek, mushroom pot pie.

It always turns out great and is full of flavour!

If you search my site for chicken, leek, mushroom pie you will find the picture of the recipe I clipped years ago!





Our fourth meal of the week came from the freezer, and my mother in law made it, so I don't have a recipe for you :) 

Lastly, ended off the day making a batch of pizza pinwheels which I have posted earlier on the site. 

Nighty!

A little late...but here is last week's meal plan :)

Life has been busy...and hence why I haven't been timely with posting.  I also blame it on the January BLAHS.  Does anyone else lack some motivation during the winter months? 

Last week through my lack of motivation, and also through my freezer that still has fully cooked meals in it (waiting to be EATEN!) I made three meals.

First up was a pasta dish in the crock pot!  I've never actually tried a pasta slow cooker meal before so was kind of excited to see how it worked out.  Found this easy gem of a recipe!

Crock Pot Ravioli

I followed this recipe to a TEE, and it turned out perfect.  The kids loved it (okay my son was livid that there was green pieces in it - spinach - but i buried them deep enough that he got over it) and my daughter brought it to school the next day too!!  It was delicious and in case you're wondering - YES, it tasted just like ravioli!


Next recipe was a fave around these digs.  Chicken a la King!  I serve this dish over top of either egg noodles, or puff pastry shells.

I got this recipe years ago from a Presidents Choice Insider Flyer if you can believe it, and I clipped it and have used it ever since!

Chicken a la King

This recipe turns out fantastic every time.  My kids DEVOUR it.  The only modification I make, is using lactose free milk.  Otherwise it would be bad news for me :)






Last recipe I made was a find on Pinterest.  And I would call it a Pinterest FAIL based on what it turned out looking like!!  If you're going for "look" you won't like this, but it did taste good.

Maple Honey Mustard Glazed Chicken

As you can see by the picture they show it looking like, and what mine turned out like, it was a FAIL all around.





And that's a wrap - time for this week's blog post!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Back after a slight hiatus!

Oh my goodness where to start!  It was a nutty December around here...it definitely went out with a bang.  Between #icestorm2013, the kids battling various viral illnesses, and the holiday season, it's been about 4 weeks since I could focus on Sunday Soup Kitchen!

We were one of the "lucky" people that were impacted by the recent ice storm.  We lost power for about 50 hours.  Definitely very trying and frustrating times.  Thank goodness for grandparents who could take our children and keep them warm at their home, friends for helping out with various problems, and a father-in-law that helped the hubby hook up a generator to our furnace on day two without power.  How many people can say their kids know that "Genny is a thing that keeps you warm"!

My freezer was stocked full of meals, and that was stressing me out BIG TIME to potentially have it all go bad.  Luckily by keeping the freezers closed, all the food survived and lived to see another day!

This weekend I was able to get back to cooking and it felt great.  I only made a two meals as I have some food we need to use in the freezer.  I figured starting off slow after a hiatus was a good idea too :)

I like the "one pot meals".  Easy, relatively mess free, and fast!  I did a chicken, green beans and potato dish a few weeks back but changed this one up a bit so here goes!

One Pot Chicken, Green Beans & Red Potatoes:
 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of green beans, washed and trimmed
10 baby red potatoes, quartered
2 lemons, one thinly sliced, 1 juiced with seeds removed
5 garlic cloves minced
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place one tablespoon of olive oil in a large baking dish.  Arrange the sliced lemon pieces in the dish.

In a medium sized bowl, combine four tablespoons of olive oil, minced garlic, and pepper.

Toss in the green beans and stir to coat.  Layer the green beans on top of the lemon slices.

Place the red baby potatoes in the bowl and stir to coat.  Line the baby potatoes along the outer edge of the baking dish.

Place the chicken in the bowl and coat with remaining liquid.  Line the chicken pieces in the middle of the dish, on top of the green beans.

Pour any remaining liquid on top of the chicken.

Roast the dish, uncovered for 50-60 minutes.


Next dish up was a simple roast beef!  I bought a great roast for $8.00 on the weekend - STEAL!  It was about 2 lbs total weight.  I set the oven to 325 degrees and prepared the meat.

I went pretty simple with this one.  I put a little bit of olive oil all over the meat, then put some Montreal Steak Spice rub on it.  Another option is to make a rub of garlic powder, paprika, mustard powder, and pepper.  I've done that combination before too and it also tastes great.

I had some carrots so I chopped up a bunch and lined it along the outside of the roasting pan alongside the beef, and also threw in about 4 whole garlic cloves.

For baking it at 325, I estimate it to be about 25-30 minutes per pound to bring it to "medium".  I like my meat around "medium well" so I cooked this for about 1 hour and 40 minutes.  Turned out perfect!

Everyone needs gravy with a roast beef, but unfortunately I was too lazy to make some from scratch so luckily I had a packet of gravy and made it over the stove :)  I sauteed some mushrooms too, which I then threw in the gravy boat.  YUM YUM YUM!


Potatoes - everyone needs those with a roast!  The kids love my "potato fingers" that I make in the oven.  Home made french fries is what they are, and they are pretty much the bomb!

Oven Roasted Potatoes:

4-6 yellow potatoes peeled and sliced into "fingers"
4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
Spices of your choice - I went with garlic powder, pepper, and paprika

Chop up your potatoes and place them in a large bowl.  Pour in the olive oil and mix well to coat the potatoes.  Place the spices of your choice - I wouldn't use too much, just about a teaspoon of each spice.  Toss to coat and then line them up on a baking sheet.

As I needed to cook these at the same temp as the meat that I had in the oven, I cooked them for 45 minutes at 325 degrees, then I increased the heat to 425 for the last 15 minutes.  Turned out perfect!


Oh!  And in some other exciting news, I've been asked to be a "cooking and recipes" contributor to a website!  Stay tuned for more details!








Monday, December 9, 2013

We've had the winter illness around here..

So I've been a little absent from the blog...please know that it was all due to one thing - GERMS.  The amount of germs that two little ones can bring home from school is truly unbelievable.  The last few days have probably been the first time in weeks that we have been illness free in this house.  And hence why I am now able to blog!

Since we were "down and out" the last couple of weeks it worked out well in clearing out room in my freezer.  That's the amazing part of double batching meals.  You make enough to put a duplicate meal in your freezer, and it all adds up quickly.  As if today, I only have 4 cooked meals remaining in there!  So I better get to work over the next few weeks at replenishing in case another "outbreak" happens around here!

Started out the morning by throwing some barbacoa beef shredded taco ingredients into the crock pot.  This is a great recipe that takes a little more prep than other crock pot meals, but it is worth it.  This recipe is a copy cat version of the barbacoa tacos from the restaurant chain called Chipotle.  It's definitely worth giving this recipe a try!

Chipotle Barbacoa Beef Tacos

I pretty much follow this recipe to an exact tee, except for the chipotle chilis in adobo sauce.  This recipe calls for 3-4 of those, I generally go with only two.  Remember, my gut isn't fond of a ton of spice :)


This week I also wanted to make those yummy beef enchiladas I made a couple weeks back.  They were really easy and super tasty, and a big hit at my dinner table.

You can find the recipe for them here:

Beef Enchiladas

And as I did before, I made the enchilada sauce from scratch :)  You can find that recipe here:

Homemade Enchilada Sauce


Unfortunately while making the sauce I realized I only had about a teaspoon and a half of chili powder left.  The result is a sauce that is a little less red in colour, but I added some paprika as well and it still tasted great.

The recipe made a total of 16 enchiladas this time!  Enough for dinner for the four of us, and lunches for me and the Mr.


I came across a recipe on Pinterest that looked simple and called for chicken.  Since I had some chicken in the freezer, as well as all of the other ingredients for this recipe on hand at home already, I went for it!

Quick Lime Cilantro Chicken

You should definitely give this recipe a try if you're pressed for time.  Total time from prep to completion was 40 minutes.  I think I will serve this over rice and with a salad on the side.


Last recipe I made was the infamous garlic soup!  I've never actually provided the recipe on this blog.  I'll tell you why.  The recipe is actually a chef's creation from a restaurant that our good friends own in Guelph, Ontario.  Check them out if you're ever in the area - Atmosphere Cafe.

Here is a link to their website:

Atmosphere Cafe - Guelph

So I can't just GIVE the recipe away of course...BUT, check out the pic below and maybe you can guess the ingredients and sizing :)  If you think you know what measurements, comment your thoughts in this post :)  Better yet, go in person to Atmosphere Cafe and tell them Miriam sent you!


This coming weekend is going to be busy...I plan on throwing some Christmas baking into the mix as well!  I have to make about 50 cookies for a work cookie exchange, and I have to bake some Christmas treats for this house as well :)

Happy Monday!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Live on Rogers Daytime York Region!


Today was an exciting day! I had the pleasure of joining Jacqueline from Rogers Daytime York Region for a live segment about Sunday Soup Kitchen!  I thought I would be exceptionally nervous, but turns out I had no nerves at all!

Check out the links below :)  There are two five minute segments.

http://vimeopro.com/user16748619/personality-appearances/video/80293636

http://vimeopro.com/user16748619/personality-appearances/video/80294696

Sunday Soup Kitchen this weekend was all about preparing my meals that I was going to demonstrate live on air. The two dishes I chose were the balsamic chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker, and a red pepper, black beans, corn salad with a lime/cilantro vinaigrette.

Yesterday I prepared and made a batch of the balsamic chicken dish so that I would have a "finished product" to bring with me.


I spent most of the day prepping my dishes for the show, so there wasn't a lot of cooking going on around here.  Good thing, as my freezer has a lot of cooked meals in it that desperately need to get used!

I did make a chicken dish yesterday, that I have wanted to try for a while.  I've seen a recipe floating around that involved chicken, green beans and red potatoes.  I put my own spin on this so here it is:

Oven Baked Chicken, Green Beans and Red Baby Potatoes

3-4 bonesless, skinless chicken breasts
red mini potatoes quartered or halved
Green beans (about 2 cups)
Seasonings of your choice (I chose rosemary and basil)
2 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
Fresh lemon juice

Lay your chicken down in the middle of an ungreased glass baking dish.  On one side lay the chopped baby potatoes, and on the opposite side the green beans.

Drizzle with olive oil and add the minced garlic on top of the chicken.

Season the entire dish with your choice in spices. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over top of all of it.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 covered with foil.  Then take the foil off and bake for another 15 minutes.  SO SIMPLE!


Happy last week of November!