Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year 
to all my blog friends
and families!

I've been reflecting on 
New Year's past,
on the traditions and superstitions.

Did you, as a child, have 
any of these?

My mom used to tell me
not to clean the house on New Year's Eve,
to leave some dust and dirt
to carry over into the New Year.
I assumed to leave the dirt
in the vacuum would be O.K. - right?

Another thing I remember as a child
was waking up on New Year's Day
to a small gift from the "New Year's Baby"
I don't know where this tradition
came from but it was fun at the time.

I've read about some other traditions
and superstitions such as:

Eating good luck foods:
12 grapes - 1 for each month
Black Eyed Peas and Greens - bringing good luck
and prosperity
Leaving bits of food on your plates to carry
over into the New Year to ensure never going hungry.
Pork is a good luck food while
lobster is not (because lobsters walk
backwards apparently).
Lentils which represent coins ensuring prosperity
in the New Year.

This inspired me to make
a Kale and Lentil Salad
for lunch today...
If nothing else, it sure will
be good for my health.





Other:
Kissing at midnight to ensure affection
over the next 12 months.
Not to cry on New Year's Day - this could
bring unhappiness in the new year.
Pay all your debts before New Year's Eve
to have a "clean slate" in the new year.
(I also like the idea of forgiving all debts?)
Open the doors at midnight to let the bad
from the previous year out.
It's super cold over here right now so
don't leave the door open too long!
Make loud noises to scare away any evil spirits.
Don't do the dishes in case you
would break something which is bad luck.
(I think I'll leave the dirty dishes in the sink - no problem with that one! Leave some dirt in the house - this is the easiest one! Make lots of noise at midnight, and kiss the farmer even though he has a bad cold tonight).

What are some of your New Year's 
traditions and superstitions?

HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!
I want to thank each and everyone of
you for your support over
this past year. 
I love reading your blogs and your
comments and it's been such an
inspiration to me on SO many levels!

Much happiness and health
to you and yours in 2014.....
The Lord is good!



Kale and Lentil Salad Recipe:
1 bunch Kale, stemmed and sliced
1 shallot - chopped or thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 Cup EV Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Cups cooked lentils
1/2 Cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/2 Cup dried cranberries
Whisk together the vinegar, honey and mustard.
Gently whisk in the Olive Oil and
season with salt and pepper.
Pour over the kale and shallot - tossing
and stirring roughly to gently bruise the kale.
Toss in the lentils, feta cheese and cranberries.
Cover and marinate for 1 hour before serving.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Balmy Lips

The weather outside is frightful the pits
and the dry air inside 
hurts my skin and lips!

I know that doesn't really rhyme
but it does tell the truth....

It's almost officially winter here
and my heels, hands, and lips
are longing to be ocean side
on a warm and balmy southern beach.

In the meantime, I've been
experimenting with making lip balm 
(next best thing to being on the beach - not).
I think I've finally got the 
recipe that works....


1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Sweet Almond Oil
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Olive Oil
25g coconut oil (solid kind)
20g organic beeswax
15g cocoa butter (solid kind)
Dash of Peppermint Essential Oil

Melt oils and beeswax in
a small container over a double boiler
(I used a 2 Cup glass pyrex measuring cup
over some gently boiling water in a saucepan)
Keep stirring till melted
Remove from heat and add essential oil
Pour into 10-12 small (15ml) containers.
I purchased these at the Dollar Store.
Let stand till solid before putting on lids.

That's all there is to it
and now my lips feel amazing and 
practically balmy ....

These will make great stocking stuffers
and purse stuffers.




Till next time ....... be careful out there. The weather forecast really IS frightful!!!!!  I've got candles ready to go, the wood is stacked by the fireplace, and extra water in pails in the laundry room. Praying for safe travels as our kids fly home tomorrow.




Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fried Apples

I'm always thinking about
what to make for supper on 
the way home from work!
Can you tell - I don't plan ahead too much?

When nothing comes to mind,
I like to stop in Wellesley at the little
grocery Pym's and pick up
something quick like schnitzel or sausage.

Nothing tastes better with schnitzel
than some warmed apple sauce
or
best of all ....
Mom's Fried Apples - so easy and delicious
and no recipe required!!

Here's how you make them:
Just halve, peel and core some apples,
wet them with some water,
toss them in some flour,
melt a pad of butter in a saucepan/frypan,
place those "dusted" apples onto the melted butter,
fill each core hole with a touch of brown sugar,
and a sprinkle of cinnamon


Cover and fry gently till tender,
adding a splash of water if needed
and voila ... you have a great side dish to schnitzel.
Easy Peasy!


Did your mom ever make
fried apples?



Till next time ...... just a few more sleeps!!





Monday, December 9, 2013

Eating the Cookie Crumbs


Things are looking up!

Christmas music is playing,
snowflakes are falling,

The biscotti is made
(click on Baking Biscotti
for the recipe).
Having some tea and
eating the cookie crumbs.



The sugar cookie dough is 
chillin'

the Nanaimo Bars are
hiding coolin'

the Nuts 'n Bolts
(with Bugles)
are made and
stashed away



Slowly but surely my
Christmas baking list
is getting checked off
and
I feel much better - smile.

12 more sleeps till 
the kids arrive home.

Spotted a Snow Bunting
in the back yard.


Feeling thankful....
looking up really works!

Now for decorating the tree,
finishing the shopping,
wrapping,
keeping the house in order
and staying positive.


How are you doing?






Friday, December 6, 2013

Blue Christmas




It's beginning to look
a lot like a Blue Christmas....



The twig tree is lit,
the planters have been filled
with boughs and sticks







The holly is in full bloom
and I'm ready to give the
inside decorating a go this weekend.




I'm taking Vee's advice and 
cranking the Christmas music loud
as I whirl around the house
making merry!!!!

There may even be some
sweet smells of baking cookies
wafting from the kitchen
before the day is 'ore!

Looking up and staying calm.

Perhaps it won't be so Blue after all.
(even though I love the colour blue)


Oh, but one more thing,
we'll be spending Christmas at
"Blue" Mountain ...







Monday, December 2, 2013

Lasagna Rolls with Turkey, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach



I'm experimenting with some
Turkey casseroles for our
Christmas on the Ski Hill Dinner...

My plan is to roast the Turkey
the week ahead and then come up with
a make ahead casserole
to take with us to the slopes.

I really like this recipe and
it's a twist from regular lasagna.
I made a half batch of the recipe below
with delicious results:


12 - 14 whole wheat or spinach lasagna noodles (I used the Spinach ones)
 - cooked till tender, rinsed and placed flat on a damp tea towel
Filling:
2 tsp. Olive Oil
1 small yellow onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 Cups leftover turkey (I used roasted chicken thighs) - chopped or shredded
1 - 2 Cups fresh spinach - chopped
1/2 Cup Sun dried Tomatoes - drained and chopped
1 small container low fat cottage cheese - pureed till smooth in blender
6 oz. goat cheese - softened
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese - divided
1/2 tsp. dried chili flakes or 1 jalapeno pepper chopped
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 1/4 Cups tomato sauce (I used Tomato/Basil Pasta sauce)
1 - 2 Cups mozzarella cheese
Heat Olive Oil and saute the onion, add the minced garlic and saute for an additional 1/2 minute. 
Add the turkey/chicken and heat till warm. Transfer to a large bowl.
Stir in the spinach, sun dried tomatoes, 1/4 Cup of the Parmesan cheese, cottage and goat cheeses, seasonings and mix thoroughly.
Assembly:
Put 1 Cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking pan.
Spread 3 heaping Tbsp. of the mixture onto each lasagna noodle. Roll from the short end as tightly as you can and place each roll seam side down onto tomato sauce layer in baking pan.
Top the rolls with the remaining tomato sauce.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 Cup of Parmesan Cheese and the mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for another 10 - 15 minutes.



Till next time .......... what are your favourite left-over turkey recipes?



Friday, November 29, 2013

Stay Calm and Begin


It's begun....
Came home from work at noon,
started cleaning the bay window area,
that's where I always start!
Set up the tree,
Sorted out the mini lights
half of which were not working....
Added a few new strings.

Thoroughly (as in dusting
and washing windows, vacuuming,
and straightening all things)
cleaned the living room
and now the sun is already setting.

The tree still needs to be "trimmed"
plus all other things -  but,
It's begun ....

Are you starting your Christmas decorating this weekend?
The hardest part is to Start!



I'm beginning to get into the Christmas Spirit.
The lists have begun too!

Till next time ..... have a great weekend, put on the Christmas music, burn some incense and stay calm!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pesto Sun-dried Tomato Cheese Torta

This cheese loaf appetizer
is a family favourite.
I first tasted this at my
nephew's wedding - made by his mom,
my sister-in-law Charlene!
She's a great cook
and always comes up with the best recipes!

This is a keeper ....



Cheese Mixture:
250 g feta cheese crumbled
1/2 lb butter cut into pieces (I use ¼ lb. butter and 150 g soft unripened goat cheese instead)
250 g cream cheese - softened
2 cloves garlic
few drops of hot sauce
Combine in food processor or whip with electric mixer until creamy.


Layer Ingredients:
1/2 Cup pine nuts roasted
2/3 Cup minced sun-dried tomatoes (pat oil off if using oil packed)
1 Cup Basil Pesto - or less (I just used enough to "dollop" it onto the layers).

To assemble, line 4-5 Cup bowl or loaf pan with plastic wrap (mold it tight to the container leaving lots hanging over the edge), sprinkle with the pine nuts first then spread on some pesto, then ½ the sun-dried tomatoes. Cover with half the cheese mixture, remaining pesto and tomatoes then remaining cheese mixture. Fold over plastic wrap and press down gently to compact layers, refrigerate to chill and set. When ready to serve, invert onto platter, remove plastic wrap and serve with sliced baguette or crackers.


 Warning - this makes a very large
appetizer so sometimes I cut the recipe
in half and make
smaller individual ones
molded in custard cups.

Warning #2 - if your food processor
is 40+ years old and it begins to smoke
while mixing this - you may need a new one.
Just saying ....




Happy Thanksgiving to all 
those celebrating this week!
May we all pause to give thanks
wherever we may be,
before the Christmas season hustle and bustle begins!



Till next time ..... are you dreading the Christmas frenzie or do you look forward to the hustle and bustle?






Friday, November 22, 2013

30 Years Young


30 short years ago
this little sweetheart/ray of sunshine
 came into our lives.

She is the apple of our eyes,
the icing on our cake,
the answer to our prayers,
and the best thing that ever happened to us!!!

These 30 years have been the best
years of our lives and
the next 30 promise to be the best of yours too!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY
and
BLESSINGS
to our wee Bex....

Love you lots and lots!







Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Soapifying


For a long time,
I've been wanting to learn how to make soap,
but the process of using caustic lye had me afraid to try it!
It all sounded so complicated and
I didn't even know where to buy lye and needed to get
a better kitchen scale before even considering to
attempt this process.

This Fall while visiting our friends in Kentucky,
I was gifted with a beautiful piece of  handmade/handcut
soap and this got me going - finally!


I well remember my mom making a huge cast iron kettle
full of homemade soap. She used rendered lard and
fat drippings that she saved throughout the year.
Nothing cleaned the laundry like this soap!
I had the house to myself for the evening so
I gathered up the ingredients
and tools:





The Oils and Fats
9.6 oz. of Vegetable Shortening
9.6 oz. Olive Oil
6.4 oz. Lard
6.4 oz. Coconut Oil













An old Crock Pot,
a digital scale,
and a Stick Blender












The "flavourings":
1/2 Cup Oatmeal - ground fine
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 oz. of Lavender Essential Oil
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon













The "scarey stuff"
4.463 oz. Lye crystals - eek!
12.16 oz. distilled water
(I used RO water from our tap)
Oh - and don't forget the 
rubber gloves!!










The "fancy" molds
Real molds are expensive!

O.K. - now I'm ready to start....







Melt the fat on low


Mix the scary stuff into the water
(caution - never add water to lye - always
lye to water)
I opted to mix this outside on the deck remembering
to lean back from it to not breath in the fumes.
This get's hot so be careful.
You should wear goggles as well as rubber gloves.
I don't have goggles but those who know me know 
that I have some cool kitchen glasses which sufficed.


Turn crock pot off and
blend with stick blender till
mixture traces (is thick like pudding and leaves a trace when stirred)
This takes about 10 minutes.



Cook on low - stirring on occasion
till the mixture looks like thick, waxy,
mashed potatoes (takes about 1 hour).
The temperature of the mixture will
be close to 200F when soapified!
You can use a PH strip test which
should read around 7 but I didn't have
one so I did the Zap on the Tongue test
to see if it was finished.
The smell of this soap as it cooked
reminded me of mom's soap!






Turn the crock pot off
and stir in the flavours.
Oh - now it smells really good!
This is where you can get really 
creative with different scents,
colorants and additives.
The combinations could be 
endless and fun to try!






Now it's ready to "glob" into
the fancy molds.
Tap them sharply
on the table or floor to make sure 
all the soap settles into the mold.

Cool and wait patiently (3 hrs. or overnight)
till the soap cools completely and hardens,
before removing from the mold.

WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART!


A piece scraped from the crock pot - it really is soap!


While I waited I went outside and rescued our
patio furniture from the crazy high winds we've
had here in the last couple of days - nothing compared
to our friends to the South - such devastation!!




I can only hope that all my blog friends from
Indiana and Illinois are O.K.!!!
Praying for all who have experienced this devastation.



Till next time ...... have you ever made scarey homemade soap?  I think I could get into this.....


First attempt at making Oatmeal, Honey, Cinnamon and Lavender Soap