Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WIAW ~ Carbolicious Dinners

Happy Wednesday bloggieland!

I'm super excited for this week's WIAW Extravaganza because it's the first Wednesday since Fall has officially arrived and I'm hoping to find some seriously amazing new comfort foods to try out as the weather starts to cool and my oven calls my name. If you're looking for some inspiration too, head on over and visit Jenn to see what other bloggers have been whipping up this week.

Today, I have 3 super delicious dinners to share.

First off we have my grandma's famous homemade Mac N Cheese. It's the simplest recipe ever and I promise I'll share in the very near future. This is the epitome of comfort food.

Next I have some three cheese tortellini mixed with sundried tomatoes and oven roasted tomatoes and then tossed in a tomato basil pesto. Can you tell I'm trying to fit in as many tomatoes as I can while they're still available at the farmer's market?? On the side we roasted an acorn squash. Oh gosh - squash is another one of those Fall-time foods that makes me swoon!

And finally, to balance out all those carbs, I fully intended to whip up a Honey Tofu Stirfry....but my husband
brought home this.


I think it's safe to say that veggies, and lots of 'em, are on the menu this week to balance out last week's carbolicious meals!

When you think of your epitome of comfort food, what's the first food that comes to your mind?
Fave thing you ate this week?

Have a great day....we've only got a little ways to go before we make it to the weekend!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Autumn Fruit Crisps

Happy Monday peeps! I swear that I had every intention of spending this past weekend baking up a storm and then blogging about all of my kitchen adventures, but the weather turned out so beautiful (Mr. Weather Man was calling for rain, but boy was he wrong!) and I couldn't bare the thought of wasting time indoors!

There's a good chance we aren't going to have too many more weekends that can be spent in flip flops and t-shirts, so we decided to enjoy the time we did have. Derek & I had no plans and no schedule to follow yesterday, so we slept in and then decided to head off to an outdoor flea market that we love to visit. It closes for the season in two weeks, so we thought it'd be fun to spend one more day wandering through the vendors and then stuffing our faces full of fresh cut fries smothered in malt vinegar, ketchup and sea salt. HEAVEN!

On the way to the flea market, we came across an apple orchard with a sign that indicated they were open for business. I think I love apple season almost as much as I love peach season! I had already picked up some apples at the grocery store, but they had Honey Crisps at this orchard, which are one of my faves to eat raw, so I made Derek stop, so we could pick some up. We also picked up some fresh Bartlet pears. Have I mentioned how much I love fresh local produce?! I truly don't want the snow to fly because I am going to be so sad to buy all my produce at the grocery store!!

When we got home, Derek headed out to cut the grass and I headed into the kitchen to make a fabulous Sunday dinner. I can't remember the last time we were home together and were able to enjoy a leisurely dinner on a Sunday night, so I went completely overboard with the food.  (that's my round about way of telling you that my photos are not the best today because I was trying to cook 6 things at once!)

Since we are now overflowing with apples, I thought an apple crisp was in order.  I also had some peaches that were pretty close to being pitched, so I decided to get all crazy and add them in too :-D

The thing I love about crisps is that you can use almost any fruit you'd like as the filling; peaches, pears or berries all work awesome.

Apple Peach Crisp

There is nothing better than the smell of a delicious apple crisp smothered in brown sugar and cinnamon baking in your oven. The fruit layer in this crisp ended up all ooey gooey and sweet like caramel and it's topped with a brown sugar oatmeal topping. Add a little whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream to make this a dessert fit for the fanciest of company. 

For the filling, check out Angela's recipe here. I used brown sugar instead of Sucanat and cornstarch instead of the arrowroot powder.

1/2 c whole wheat flour
2/3 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. cold butter (I'm not sure if Earth Balance will work here or not)
1/3 c. chopped nuts, optional (I didn't use them in this)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 square baking dish.

Cook the fruit filling according to Angela's directions. Place them in the baking dish.

To make the topping, add the flour, oats and brown sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir to combine. Cut the butter into chunks and add to the oat mixture. Using a butter knife, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles a crumb-like texture.

Spread the topping over the fruit mixture.

Bake for 23 - 26 minutes - until the topping is golden brown and you can see the fruit filling bubbling up around the edges.

Remove from oven. Let sit for at least a few minutes before serving.

Who doesn't enjoy some fresh local fruit smothered in a rich caramel glaze?
Cut, cut, cut....I always get super impatient when doing this, but the end result is worth it!

I used to use non-stick spray on my baking dishes and the result was brown ugly splotches being left behind. Now I use vegetable shortening, which works awesome and wipes away completely clean.

Warning: do not taste right away or you risk burning every single taste bud from the tip of your tongue. Take this advice from someone who's been there, done that :-D

Sweet deliciousness. 

I like mine all on it's own and it would also be fabulous with some vanilla bean ice cream. It might also be a great breakie if you're running late and just need a bite of something fabulous to start your day off, yeah, I'm speaking as someone who knows!!!

Derek likes a little crisp with a lot of whipped cream. My guy will never completely grow up & that's why  I love him!!!

What type of fruit do you enjoy in your crisps and cobblers?

Have a great night,


Monday, September 19, 2011

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? The weather here was absolutely gorgeous on Sunday. I spent some time visiting with my in-laws who currently have 11 of the most adorable rottweiler puppies ever and then I headed home to satisfy my craving for some traditional comfort food.

How do you feel about Shepherd's Pie? It used to be one of my favourite things to make in the Fall and Winter, but I've been stumped on what to do since I stopped eating meat.

I used to make a pretty traditional recipe, which consisted of ground beef, veggies and mashed taters. I'm embarassed to admit that when I was younger, I even made it with instant potatoes!!! My dad would be so ashamed :-S

I've been craving it for days now and I've been racking my brain on what to use as a substitute for the meat layer. I decided to use a lentil filling with some shredded veggies and a mushroom broth and I have to tell ya it turned out pretty darn tasty!

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
Serves 4 - 6

This is a tasty vegetarian twist on a classic comfort food. I tried to keep it as simple and as traditional as I could. The lentil "meat" layer is packed full of protein with some added veggies in the form of shredded carrots and finely diced onion. This is delicious and really, really filling!!

  • Bottom Layer
1/3 c onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, shredded
19 oz can of lentils, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 c mushroom or veggie broth
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 c water
3 tbsp barbecue sauce

Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and carrot and cook until softened (5 - 7 minutes). Add lentils and mushroom broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. In a small bowl, combine water and cornstarch and mix until cornstarch is dissolved. Pour into veggie/broth mixture and continue to cook until the broth has thickened to a gravy-like consistency. Stir in barbecue sauce.

  • Middle Layer
2 - 3 c of your fave veggies (I used frozen corn, because that is what we used as a filling when I was kid - but any veggie would work)

  • Top Layer
Approximately 3 c of mashed potatoes. I made some garlic mashed taters with the skins still on because those are our all-time fave!!! Simply mash together cooked yellow potatoes, roasted garlic, Earth Balance, a splash of milk and some sour cream.  HEAVEN! You could do regular mashed potatoes or go crazy and try some mashed sweet taters because they would be delicious as well!

Heat your oven to 350. Grease a medium-sized casserole dish.

To assemble your Shepherd's Pie, spread your lentil mixture in the bottom of your casserole dish followed by the veggies and finally the potatoes.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Serve.

 Amp up the health factor in your "meat layer" by adding lentils with some finely diced or shredded can hardly even tell there's any carrots in this .....

Start assembling your casserole.

1. "meat" layer 
2. fave veggies

3. ...and no Shepherd's Pie would be complete without some mashed taters!

This is so delicious...& so filling!

Definitely food for the soul that`s perfect for a chilly Fall evening!

What do you layer in your Shepherd`s Pie.
What`s your favourite activity to do in the Fall.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Comfort Soups for the Soul

Happy Thursday! My oh my has the weather taken a turn to chillier temperatures! I didn't even look outside this morning before I came prancing out of the house with sockless feet and sunglasses on top of my head. I was shocked to open the front door to dark gloomy skies and some seriously cool air!!!

As soon as the cold weather hits, my body starts to crave comfort food. I love thick creamy soups, casseroles baked in the oven and roasted squash and sweet potaters.

I started my blog back in January and since so many of you missed my first few months, I thought I'd give a shoutout to my favourite soup recipes in honour of the cool nights of Fall. Check out some of these fabulous recipes:

Comforting Cauliflower Soup
In my neck of the woods, fresh cauliflower is super cheap right now, so this is a great "budget" meal idea. You won't believe how creamy it is until you try it. It is truly too die for. Next time I make it, I think I'm going to add a little cheddar to mix it up!

This was one of the first recipes I made completely from scratch that was absolutely scrumptious! I was like a proud mama bear after I made this!

It's especially delish when served with red wine and warm whole wheat biscuits!

Perfect for those who like a little spice in their lives!

Now this is one of my more recent recipes. You all know how much I've been loving tomatoes and this soup is just one of the many recipes I have made this summer! I even have a bunch of fresh tomatoes in the freezer, so that we can enjoy this soup all winter long.

So there are just a few of my favourite comforting soup recipes. Do you have a fave recipe you'd like to share? Paste in a link to your recipe if I can find it online - I'm always looking for new & delicious recipes to try!

Have a great day.....& stay warm ;-)


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What I Ate (When My Parents Were Visiting) Wednesday

Happy What I Ate Wednesday!!! 

And what have you been eating lately????

My parents were visiting this weekend and I had big plans to snap all of our eats to show you how awesome and gluttonous we are when my dad's in the house. I managed to snap a few, but as usual I got distracted by all the fun I was having and forgot to pull out the camera half the time!

So, you're going to have to drool over what few eats I did manage to catch on camera and I'll save the rest of our good eats until the next visit :-D

My mom & dad flew in on Friday night. I managed to have enough time to grab some gorgeous sunflowers and run home to whip up a quick and delicious dinner.

We had bruschetta, balsamic gnocchi which is one of my fave recipes from Jessica and a salad of mixed greens, pear, pecans, goat cheese and raspberry vinagrette.

For dessert, I was all over this frozen vanilla yogourt with fresh raspberries.

I don't have any breakies to show you, but we did manage to go to our all our favourite greasy spoon diners. Picture homefries, scrambled eggs, melty cheese, hot steamy coffee with a splash of milk, OJ, chocolate milk and bacon for the meat eaters..........

One thing my dad was totally loving was these smoothies packed full of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, banana and apple. So thick and creamy. So delicious! They would definitely make a sweet breakfast on the go.

For lunch on Saturday we picked up sushi. These were my vegetarian california rolls with brown rice. My parents had lots of rainbow sushi smothered in brightly coloured fish eggs {insert "EW!!!" here} and Derek had spicy shrimp rolls.

...mine were so fresh; I didn't want to share, but being the good daughter that I am, I did give up just a couple ;-)

On Sunday night, Derek had an impromptu BBQ at our house. He had steak and potatoes and I whipped up this super quick caprese salad. Our friend gave us a bottle of reduced balsamic vinegar which is amazing when drizzled on this salad.

...and finally, we can't forget about the birthday cake. I know you've already seen this pic but I have to give a shout out to this cake. Half was the most delicious black forest cake I've ever eaten and the other half was a vanilla cake with a vanilla custard filling. I have it on good authority that the vanilla was delish as well!

So there are some of my great eats from this past weekend and if you want more inspiration, make sure you check out Peas & Crayons for hundreds of amazing meal ideas.

What's your favourite type of birthday cake?

Have a great day!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

80 Wonderful Years....

Today is my Grandpa McLean's 80th Birthday!!!

I can only hope that I am living as full and happy a life when I hit 80!!

Last night we had a surprise party with 40 of his nearest and dearest family, friends and neighbours!
There was lots of reminiscing, lots of laughs and wonderful memories made.

Happy Birthday Grandpa!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WIAW: Late Edition

Happy What I Ate Wednesday! I'm just a wee bit late to this par-tay, but better late than never right?!

I think it's the short week that's throwing me off....and the fact that my mom & dad are coming for a visit this weekend and I am up to my eyeballs in housecleaning!!!! Oh yes friends, I am one of those girls that lets their house get completely out of control with clutter and then has to stay up to the stroke of midnight for a week before a visit to get everything back in order. Gah! I always promise myself I will be neater, but it just doesn't happen.

So....even though I'm late, I am here ---- enjoy!

First off, my fave bevie of the week has been sparkling water with fresh lime. The carbonation makes me feel like I'm drinking something fancy. It's a nice change from plain ol' water!

I tried two different breakies this week that were inspired by some fab bloggie friends.

First off we have Tina's peach muffins. I baked these up last week at about 10:30 p.m. one night when I really needed some "kitchen therapy". They were easy and super delicious ~ that's obvious by the fact that the entire batch is gone-zo!!! Derek had a couple and I had more than a couple :-D

The other breakie I made was green monster cakes. I found this on Kat's WIAW post last week and I made it that very night (you know how I love my breakie for dinner!) I smothered mine in a bit of Earth Balance and they were absolutely divine!

My fave lunch this week was some leftover fajita guts (peppers, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, garlic)smothered in a mock guac that I have come to absolutely love. Just mash together half an avocado, one Laughing Cow cheese wedge, a scoop of salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime. I got this idea ages ago from Erin and I use it all the time!

On Labour Day Monday, Derek & I both were in a total vegetative state for most of the day, so I fluttered my eyelashes and got my hubster to go pick us up some takeout from Union Burger. I had a veggie burger smothered in swiss, mushrooms, mozza and mayo with a side of onion rings. I had super high hope for this!

It was okay, but for a splurge meal it wasn't the absolute best! My home-cooked dinners are much better. It's amazing how take out doesn't taste quite as fab as it used to now that we enjoy so many awesome, home-cooked meals!

So there you have it. Another week of good eats. Make sure you check back next week because my daddy-o is going to be here and he is definitely where I got my love of food from. It's only going to be quickie visit, but I'm sure we'll manage to squeeze in some delicious eats that I'll just have to share with you.

If you're looking for more good eats, check out Jenn's WIAW page over at Peas & Crayons. Her Wednesday parties are hopping these days!

What do you prefer: take out or home cookin'?

Enjoy the rest of your week,


Monday, September 5, 2011

Barbecued Bruschetta

Happy Monday! Did you have a fabulous long weekend? We've had a good mix of R & R, barbecues, visits with friends and downtime with the poochies.

Today I was planning to putter around the house and do some long overdue closet organization, but what I ended up doing was flipping between a marathon of The Big Bang Theory and a marathon of Two Guys, A Girl & A Pizza Place. Our weather has gone through a dramatic change from hot, sunny and humid to cool, gray and rainy. It was the perfect day to veg out and do a whole lotta' nothin'! 

I really had nothing planned in terms of meals for today, so I pulled out a pizza dough that's been thawed since Saturday. I've been dying to try a pizza dough on the barbie and there seemed like no better time than the present.

Earlier this summer, Lisa did a guest post for Cait at Beyond Bananas giving instructions on barbecuing a pizza. I followed her directions for the crust. It was super easy! If I can have success on the barbie, trust me when I say so can you (we uh, won't talk about that time I almost singed my eyebrows off) :-D !!!!!!

Andrea's Kick Butt Bruschetta

The thing I absolutely love about this bruschetta is the addition of sundried tomatoes. It kicks up the flavour and puts this bruschetta over the top. Today I used all fresh ingredients from my patio garden and it tasted absolutely dreamy! I used a barbecued pizza crust today, but often I slice up a baguette and bake it in the oven. This make a great appetizer that you can get ready before the party and takes just a few seconds to finalize so you can WOW your guests!

2 c. diced tomatoes
1/3 c. sliced sundried tomatoes
1/2 c. thinly sliced fresh basil
1 tbsp minced garlic
 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt & pepper, to taste
1 - 1.5 c. shredded mozzarella

Add all ingredients, except the mozzarella, into a small bowl and mix well to combine. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Cook the barbecue pizza dough according to Lisa's directions. Once the crust is cooked on one side, flip it and evenly spread the bruschetta mix over the crust followed by the mozzarella.

Close the lid to the barbecue and let the crust finish baking. Once the crust is cooked and the cheese is all ooey gooey and delicious, remove from the barbecue.

Let sit for a few minutes. Slice into squares and serve.

Hint - the one thing I would do next time is use a slotted spoon when spreading the bruschetta mix onto the pizza crust. Mine ended being a little runnier than I would have liked.

mmmmm.....fresh basil & tomatoes.......

Lightly oiling the dough helped it not to stick to the grill ~ it worked perfectly!

So, I think I need to work on even cooking. It still worked out great, but didn't make for a real cute pic!

Have I ever told you how much I love bruschetta?
I could eat the tomato mix with a spoon :-D

So Good! I couldn't wait to take a bite!

Everyone will love this appie and will be asking you for the recipe!

What is your fave appetizer to serve ~ link it up and share your recipe with me!
What was the best thing you did to celebrate the last long weekend of the summer?

Have a great evening - Enjoy the last few hours of this marvelous holiday Monday,

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Why, hello there Fall!!

Happy Labour Day long weekend everybody! This weekend feels a little bittersweet. As you know I absolutely adore long weekends, but I really hate to think this is last long weekend of yet another summer. I know I've said it before, but I've just gotta say it again....where the heck has the time gone?! 2011 is zooming by before my very eyes!

Even though I'm sad to see summer in the rearview mirror, I've gotta admit that I'm looking forward to welcoming Fall with open arms.

I have a ton of things to look forward to in the coming weeks.

....there's that baby nephew that's on his way. My sister is expecting her second baby and Bentley Drew is expected to make his debut sometime in early October....

.....and I absolutely love fall fairs.....

I love decorating the house with hay bales and mums and lots of gourds and squash.....

 ...and we can't forget about the food! Oh, the food. Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie, roasted squash......oh my goodness how I love me some comfort food!

....I'm lucky because I get two Thanksgivings this year. The Canadian holiday is in mid-October and then I'm heading down to Kentucky to visit my new nephew and celebrate Thanksgiving again....I might also be planning a little Black Friday retail therapy as well :-)

In between, we're going on a little vacay down to LAS VEGAS (I can't believe I almost forgot to include that!) Our friends' Hallowe'en wedding is going to be so unique ~ I can't wait to see how it all turns out! Keep an eye out over the next few weeks because I can't make up my mind on what costume I want --- there are so many to choose from and I have been really indecisive.

Three days after we're  home from Vegas, it's my 34th birthday (holla!) and then our 11th wedding anniversary is just a few days after that

 Whew! With all this awesomeness coming up in my life, Fall is going to fly by as fast as summer did!

What do you look forward too as Fall approaches?

Happy Saturday!