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Friday, 26 April 2013

Stir Fry

Who doesn't love a good stir fry?  It is a healthy meal, fairly quick to cook up, and the leftovers are great for lunch the next day.

The only time consuming part is cutting everything up.  I try to get that done in the afternoon so all I have to do is cook up the rice or noodles, and cook the stir fry itself.

I decided to go with a chicken stir fry for dinner, adding in lots of veggies so the boys could pick out the ones they like.

 My go to veggies are normally red pepper, mushroom, celery, snow peas, ginger and garlic.  Sometimes I will throw some carrot and broccoli in there too.

I find it easiest to cook the meat up first and remove it from the pan, then cook the vegetables and add the meat back in when you add the sauce.

Ahhh, the sauce.  That is always my biggest problem is what kind of sauce to use.  I used to buy the PC Memories sauces and use them, but I have been making my own for quite a while now.

I found a great list of basic stir fry sauces  from food and family, and have pinned it for future reference.  I used the soy sesame sauce for my stir fry. 

Homemade sauces are quick and easy to whip up, and you most likely have the ingredients in your pantry already.
Soy Sesame Sauce

1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tsp. rice wine vinegar
4 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes (next time I would use 1/2 tsp or less)
2 tsp. sugar

**One thing I must note is that if you have anyone who doesn't like hot to cut back on the amount of chili flakes used.  I cut back to 1 tsp and it was still too hot for my sons.

After cooking my veggies I added the chicken back in and added my rice noodles.  Then I added the sauce and mixed and simmered for a couple of minutes while I set the table and got little hands washed.

The finished product!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Best Homemade Playdough

What a strange day today.  First it was raining, then thundering, then the sun peeked out for a little while, and now it is back to rain again.

B and I took advantage of the little bit of sunshine, and went out for a bit of puddle jumping fun.  Once the rain started again it was back in the house for us, with the idea of getting the playdough out.  Unfortunately, someone had snuck in to the playdough at some point and left the lids off, so it was all hard and crumbly.

Never fear, Mom to the rescue!  I make all the playdough for B's playschool. Every time I bring in a new batch all the moms are amazed at how fresh and fluffy it feels.  So we set out to make a batch of homemade playdough for home.

This is a cooked playdough recipe, and very simple to do, it only takes about ten minutes.  I have tried uncooked recipes that I have found as well, and this yields the best result.

Your Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tbsp vegetable oil

**If I am making a batch for school I double the recipe, one batch is enough for home use, but if you want to make a larger amount make sure you double!

Combine your flour, salt and cream of tartar in a pot.  Add your liquids.


At this point you want to add your colour.  You can use either koolaid crystals or food colouring.  I have tried both and the food colouring gives you a stronger colour.  This is the job of my little helper.

Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until a ball forms.  It will look like this.

Remove from heat and knead until smooth.

And there you have it, a quick and easy playdough that will provide hours of fun.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Cranberry Apple Pork Loin Roast

I do not cook pork a lot.  I do not mind the meat itself, it is just that I always over cook it, doesn't matter if I roast it or pan fry it.  I recently found a recipe for crock pot pork chops (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-pork-chops-ii/) and they were amazing!  So the crockpot has become my new pork cooking tool.

I had a pork loin roast in the fridge and I was perusing recipes for the crock pot to figure out what I was going to do with it.  I found this  pork loin recipe    and thought it was worth a try.  I have to admit to being a little skeptical of the ingredients.  I was fine with the apple and cranberry, I thought that the juice and brown sugar would make the recipe too sweet.  But, I am always up for trying something new, so I gave it a go.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe, it was quite good, and very little prep work.  I minced fresh garlic because that was what I had on hand, but if you have the pre minced garlic in a jar it is even faster.

Your ingredients:

  • 1 (3 to 4 lb) boneless pork loin roast
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c apple juice
  • 2 apples, cored, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste 
(I am paraphrasing here since I found the instructions a little vague)
Place your roast in the crockpot.  Rub the roast all over with the minced garlic.  Add remaining ingredients by sprinkling around and on top of the roast.  Cook on low for approximately 7 hours.  Your pork will be done when it reaches 160*.
The pork came out so tender I barely needed a knife to cut it.  I served it with roast potatoes and roasted asparagus.  It was delicious, and my pickiest eater had seconds of the meat.  All in all it was a hit.



Sunday, 7 April 2013

Baked Potato Casserole

I have been craving potatoes all day, but have been busy working around the house, so did not have time to plan out and cook a big meal.  I also forgot to take any meat out of the freezer, so I was left with few choices of something that would defrost quickly.

I settled on bacon, and then remembered my potato craving, so baked potato casserole it is!  I am sure you have seen something like this on Pinterest, or somewhere else on the internet.  This is my own version.

My ingredients: potatoes, bacon, cheese of your choice, seasoning of your choice and butter.

My first step is to cook the bacon.  I throw it in the oven to cook up, way less mess that way.  Seriously if you have never tried cooking bacon in the oven give it a shot.  Throw some aluminum foil on a baking sheet, put your bacon on that and put it in the oven at 400* for about ten minutes.

While the bacon is cooking wash and cut up your potatoes.  I like to do them in rounds, about 1/4" thick.  You can also cube them.  Next I parboil them so they don't take as long in the oven.



When the potatoes are done add them to a casserole dish.  I used a pyrex dish that I lightly buttered.  You could also use cooking spray, I just didn't have any at hand.   Add your seasoning of choice (in my case salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil), add a couple of dollops of butter, and put in the oven at 400* for about 15 minutes.

Add your bacon and cheese, I used parmesan and cheddar and put back in the oven until the potatoes are fork tender and the cheese is melted and bubbly.


I served it wish some steamed broccoli, and sour cream on the side.


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Mmmmmm salad

Salads are a summer staple in our house, often replacing a full meal when it is too hot to cook or eat.  I can't wait for summer to come so that I can use veggies fresh from my garden or farmers market instead of store bought.

I was looking for something quick and easy for dinner so I went with one of my favourites, my version of a cobb salad.  I often make this to use up leftover meat like chicken or ham.  It is very filling and you can use your own favourite vegetables and salad dressing.
My version tonight:
leaf lettuce
cucumber
celery
carrot
radish
cauliflower
hard boiled egg white
cheese
leftover chicken burger patty
Kraft Classic Herb salad dressing
Sunflower seeds

And voila!  It was delicious.

Banana Bread

After having a stomach bug run through the house my bananas went a little brown.  Since no one in this house likes to eat the "old" bananas, I figured it was time for a batch of banana bread.  This simple recipe is one that I have been making for the past twelve years.  It is very simple and has no nuts in it.  In my mind nuts do not belong in banana bread!  It is a favourite in my house, a big pan usually only lasts three days, and it is safe for school lunches.

I always double the recipe, a single recipe makes an 8"x8" pan, doubling makes a 9"x13" pan.

Your ingredients:


1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup mashed banana (2 bananas for single recipe, 4 for a double)
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. bakings soda
1/2 tsp salt

Cream shortening and sugar together.  Add eggs and mix well.  Stir in mashed banana.
Sift together your dry ingredients.  Add to you banana mixture and mix well.

This is what you mixture will look like.

Pour in to a greased pan.  Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
I forgot to take a picture just out of the oven, but this is just as good!