Monday, March 31, 2014

Magazine Challenge: Stuffed Onions

My mom's birthday was on the weekend.  J and I invited her to come and do her taxes and celebrate her birthday.  We invited my uncle and his wife to come and join us for dinner. 
Family dinners are a good chance to try out new things.  Frankly, company is a good chance to try out new recipes.  When we have people over, I invariably try new things.  If it works, it's lovely, and if it doesn't, well...there's someone to help eat up the mistake.  I bought a really nice roast at the butcher, and planned on mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.  So in terms of something new we were looking at a side or dessert. 
This recipe is from November 2005 Everyday Food.  I marked it as something I wanted to try last year, but never got around to.  J was skeptical at first.  I don't know if it was because of the word "onion" as a side, or his general skepticism when I have enthusiasm a little bit different.  But whatever the reason, I told him we were making them anyways.
Just as well.  He loved them.
For those of you who like a different side, or just like onions; I present to you now from the November 2005 issue of Everyday Food Stuffed Onions:

Friday, March 28, 2014

So Yummy: Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti

During the March Break, J and I made a day trip.  We went to Buffalo to do a little shopping and eating.  While probably not the most exciting place in the world, I at least got to say that I went to a foreign country on my vacation.  The best part of the trip was, of course, the food.
J and I made our first trip to the Anchor Bar, birthplace of the Buffalo Chicken Wing.  Over a couple of orders of fresh wings and fries, we sat at the bar and watched Michigan play in the B1G Ten basketball tournament.  We both enjoyed the food and the atmosphere and want to go back.  I've been told the pizza is really good, but chances are I'll have the wings.
I was cruising Pinterest the other day, and saw this pin that my sister in law had pinned.  Upon reading the title to J, he was intrigued.  Obviously, we needed to try it.  Needed to.  My forays into Buffalo chicken in the past here at home have all been very successful  around these parts.  Things that involve carbs, cheese and chicken can't be wrong - in wonton, dip, cupcake, or in this case pasta form.
While I'd probably like the chicken shredded next time, the flavour in this was delicious.  Something new to add to the dinner rotation.  I present to you now Plain Chicken's Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Magazine Challenge: Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Despite the fact that we're into a new year and I am working my way through 2006 in magazines, there are still things from last year and 2005 that I never got around to making.  The recipe here is a case in point.  Back in November, I thought this looked good, and I even bought the pumpkin to make it.  Then I didn't.  I'm not sure why - perhaps I made other desserts.  Perhaps I was on an ice cream kick.  Who knows?
What I do know is this:  I realized this afternoon that we'd finished the cookies I'd made for dessert at lunch, and I didn't have anything to offer after dinner.  I am my mother's daughter.  When I started to think about what I had in the house, I remembered the can of pumpkin in the cupboard.  I looked through the list of things from last year and found 2 pumpkin recipes - Maple Pumpkin Custards and this cake.  I didn't want to mess with a water bath, so I made this instead.  I'm sure either would be lovely.
J came in while I was baking and thought that the cake smelled wonderful.  It did.  I was also interested in the icing because it's three ingredients, and there's no icing sugar involved.
J and I just taste tested the cake with a large glass of cold milk.  I recommend that too.  But even if you wait until it's more seasonal, this is a nice, quick cake.
I present to you now from the November 2005 issue of Everyday Food, Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Parmesan Crusted Chicken

I don't seem to have cooked a whole lot of chicken recently.  Or perhaps I have, and I just don't realize it.  I pulled chicken breasts out of the freezer to make this, and didn't think that I'd taken chicken breasts out for quite a while.  But whatever...ruminations over what I cook don't have to be out there for the masses.  The point is, I made a new chicken dish.
This is a simple idea with a great sauce that comes together quickly.  I roasted asparagus and made a rice package to round out the meal, and the whole thing took about 30 minutes.  Short enough to make on a weeknight, nice enough to serve to whoever shows up at the table.
Besides that, it's another recipe for the March issue of the Magazine Challenge.  That's 4 recipes this month already.  I may actually make 6 in one month!  From that month's issue!  It's something I aspire to, anyway.
So to recap, good chicken.  And I may actually reach my goal.  Right.  I present to you now from the March 2006 issue of Everyday Food, Parmesan Crusted Chicken:

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Classic Tomato Soup

You know why I do so well with the March issue of Everyday Food for the Magazine Challenge?  Because I'm home and can plan for making things that might take a little longer than usual, and because the number of meals I'm making suddenly doubles.  Obviously, I need to work from home to make my hobby easier to complete.
I haven't been making as much soup recently.  I don't know why not, but I haven't.  I love soup for lunch - it's quick, it's easy, and there are so many varieties.  I was a little confused as to why there would be both oil and butter in the recipe, but the roux is what helps thicken this up and make it more like the tomato soup that we know from a can.
But it's better than the can - it's not as sweet.  And there's more texture.  And flavour.  Have I sold you on making it yourself?  I hope so.
I present to you now from the March 2006 issue of Everyday Food, Classic Tomato Soup:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Got Milk Classic: Chocolate Chip Cookies

J accused me of never making chocolate chip cookies - the only kind of cookies he really likes.  I have to admit, I don't really make cookies very often.  And frankly, when I make cookies I like to find ones I haven't made before and are different (case in point the Cheesecake Cookies).
Seeing as the plan was to make a whole bunch of new things over the break, I figured I'd appease J by making chocolate chip cookies.  No more accusations of not making things he likes.  For a while.
This recipe is the first cookie recipe I ever made.  It's my mom's recipe that was on a card in her yellow metal recipe box.  The other good thing about this recipe is it's really not that big a batch of cookies - I got 2 dozen cookies that are on the smaller size.  Smaller batch means more dessert soon.  I should obviously start looking for the next crazy cookie recipe to try.
I present to you now my mom's recipe for chocolate chip cookies:

Monday, March 17, 2014

March Madness Idea: Chicken Taco Calzones

I started looking through my Pinterest board of things to try the other day.  You know what I pin a lot of?  Muffins.  I know I keep talking about the fact that I need to separate out my boards into more organized groups, but I don't.  It's always fun to go through and try to find things from time to time.
The starting point for this recipe is a case in point.  I found it when digging through all of my pins, looking for something else.  The original pin used Pillsbury Grands for the dough, and nothing but chicken, taco seasoning and cheese inside.  I made a couple of changes, my own dough, and came up with something that would make a nice and easy dinner if you're spending the next 3 weekends watching basketball.  (Or really, you could make this for any night.  I just know what will be on around here the next few weekends.  Go Blue!)
I present to you now our Saturday night dinner, Taco Chicken Calzones:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Planning: March 15 - 21, 2005

I have to go back to work on Monday.  I love being at home.  I'm sure if I was permanently I would probably become better at things like cleaning, but I'm not positive.  I love vacations where I have time to bake and make crafts and do other things that I don't have time for while working.  Like sleep.
While I'm not sure that I've had as much sleep as I could possibly use, I'm feeling pretty good at the moment.  It won't take long for that all to change.  But as I told J, it's a month until Easter, and then it's a month until Victoria Day, and then it's a month until the end of school.  More or less.  At this point, I think I can make it.
Going back to work means that we need quick and easy dinner options.  I'm not going to feel like much of anything once we get started.  I'm queued up for days around here with everything that I made this past week.  I'm super excited about that.  We ate well, and used up lots of things that were lingering in my freezer.
With a couple of days left, I am continuing to make things that I'll tell you about soon.  Here are the plans for the next week on the mountain:
Saturday:  I have a pin that I'm going to experiment with a bit.  Let's call dinner Taco Chicken Calzones as a working title.  We'll see what happens.  I'm also making Pecan-Cherry Strusel bread to put in the freezer for future consumption.
Sunday:  Chicken Fajita Salad.  The only thing we didn't eat this week that I'd planned.  Around here, that's pretty good.
Monday:  Roasted Salmon, broccoli and rice.  Salmon is on sale.
Tuesday:  Macaroni and Cheese and Sausage.
Wednesday:  Burgers, chips and pickles.
Thursday:  I'm not really sure.  I'm thinking leaving a wild-card night for the first week back is probably not a bad plan.
So, here's to going back to work.  Sigh.  And a 4 day weekend in a month.  I can make it that long.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Tomato-Sausage Lasagna

When I was little, my mother made lasagna with a sauce that I didn't like:  it had "sticks" in it (that were also known as rosemary), green peppers, and a can of mushrooms. I can remember having it when company came for dinner and I would pick it apart, layer by layer, to remove the offensive items.  Lasagna wasn't one of my favourites.
When I was in about Grade 7, my mother found a new recipe for lasagna that did not contain any of the above items, but had a sauce made from scratch that was labour intensive but delicious.  We didn't have lasagna all that often because of the work involved in making the dish.
As an adult, I make lasagna a couple of times every winter - it's a quick, simple dinner with guaranteed leftovers that I can throw into the crockpot and leave J to cook for us in the afternoon.  I don't even need to cook the noodles.
When I saw this recipe, I wasn't sure I wanted to try it, but there were some intriguing elements:  1, There is no ricotta layer in this lasagna.  It's sauce, shredded cheese, and noodles; and 2, You don't cook the noodles, you soak them while you make the sauce.  Having company was reason enough to try it, and we weren't disappointed.
I present to you now from the March 2006 issue of Everyday Food, Tomato-Sausage Lasagna:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Mocha Tartufo

J and I enjoy having people in for a meal.  We keeps saying we're going to do it more, and just don't seem to find the time.  My parents had people in regularly when I was younger, and my mom still does.  Perhaps it's because she's retired, maybe it's that her friends don't have kids at home and so they're more free, or maybe it's that they often have people over more often, but I wish there was time for more slow meals with friends that include a lot of good food, laughter and good memories. 
We had friends over this past weekend.  More accurately, we had a friend and his new fiancee over this past weekend.  I made a simple meal from the March 2006 edition of Everyday Food that included this dessert.
I love ice cream.  Even when it's ridiculously cold outside.  This combined many of my favourite things: coffee, ice cream and chocolate.  How could that possibly be wrong?
I present to you now from the March 2006 issue of Everyday Food, Mocha Tartufo:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Spinach and Bacon Stuffed Shells

When I started blogging and poking around the food blog world, I discovered a fun little thing that I wanted to be a part of:  the Secret Recipe Club.  In essence, it's a group of food bloggers who are assigned each other's blogs in secret and then all post at the same time and reveal what they made at the same time.  A fun way to read other people's blogs and see what they make.  And try new things too.  I was intrigued.  You can find all the details and rules here on the Secret Recipe Club's website.
But there are rules:  you need to keep an index; you need to take your own pictures; you need to give proper credit; but the most daunting was the 100 recipe minimum.  It took a while, but when I reached 100 recipes I made sure I was in compliance with the rest of the rules and filled out the form to join.
I think that was most of a year ago.  I don't remember exactly when I sat down and made sure things were in order - but I'm pretty sure I set up the index over March Break last year.  It was a long wait, but a few weeks ago I was invited to join!  So exciting!  I'm thrilled to be joining Group A for the first time!
The blog I was assigned was Why I Am Not Skinny.  Maxine is a South African expat living in Belgium. I love Belgium. Almost as much as France, but not quite.  Spending a year in Flanders will do that to you.  France is a place where I learned to eat - and took my cooking in a totally different direction.  I made stuffed chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy for my host families, and learned to make good Bechamel and Tarte Tatin.
I went through lots of recipes on Maxine's blog, thinking I'd actually get to use the measuring cup I brought back with me from France 20 years ago, and then I found something that looked so good.  When I read the title to J, he was all in.
I present to you now my inaugural Secret Recipe Club post from Why I am Not Skinny, Spinach and Bacon Stuffed Pasta Shells:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Planning: March 8-14, 2014

It's March Break.  A time for rest, relaxation, wearing flip flops and cooking.  Perhaps that's just around here, but I'm so excited.  I'm looking forward to sleeping in as long as the cat will let me (which should be a little longer with the time change...she's been climbing all over J and myself early recently) and spending some time trying some new recipes that I don't really have time for when work is crashing down around my ears.
Being home every day also means that I need to have some lunch plans.  I'm being a little more ambitious than usual this week.  I've also come to the conclusion that I have too many things in my freezer, so I'm going to hopefully use up some of the leftovers that I've frozen for future use.  I went to make something that needed to sit in the freezer, relatively flat, partway through.  The rearranging to get the baking tray in was frustrating.  Hopefully if I use up a few things that will be better.  And I'll know exactly what's in the freezer.
But that's neither here nor there.  There will still be lots of good things to eat.  I've already got some things in the fridge to defrost as well.  I'm planning on one day out - J and I need to go to Buffalo and do a little shopping.  We've decided we want to go to the Anchor Bar for wings, somewhere neither of us has ever gone.  We'll probably have supper in the States as well.  Beyond that, I think we'll be at home.  Here are the plans for meals on the mountain this week:
  • Steel Cut Oats.  I have the time to play and see whether or not I like them.  I've also decided to buy a couple of grapefruit.  J doesn't like them, and I never make time for them.  I will this week.
  • I may bake a batch of muffins this week.  I have lots pinned on Pinterest.  We'll see.
  • Classic Tomato Soup from EDF and Grilled Cheese
  • Leftover soup, crackers and cheese
  • Pizza kit  - I bought some of the Little Caesar's kits through a school fundraiser this year, and they make an easy lunch or dinner.
  • Drip Beef on a roll, chips and pickles
  • Lasagna, salad, garlic bread and Mocha Tartufo - We're having friends in for dinner on Saturday and I'm making parts of the Weekend Menu from the March 2006 EDF
  • Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets, roasted asparagus and rice pilaf
  • Salisbury Steak with Carmelized Onion Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli
  • Chicken Fajita Salad
  • Chicken Pot Pie
I think that sounds like a good week.  I'd also like to make the Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars.  They sound divine.  We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

So Good: Simple Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Casserole

J and I are up against it this week.  I have meetings every night until Thursday, and we need to eat.  J is making chili for us one night this week, which will make leftovers for another night.  That meant I needed to come up with two nights of meals for us.
I have an ongoing problem with getting dinner on the table when I get home from work.  I often sit down, and it's suddenly 7 and I haven't done a thing about dinner, or I don't get home until 7 and I'm wiped.  We're not as good about using the crockpot as we could be, and I don't always look for things that I can assemble the night before.  But sometimes, even I get lucky. 
While surfing around, I found this absolutely delicious looking casserole.  I was fairly sure that I could make it the night before and leave it in the fridge to be cooked the next night.  Everything in it?  Pantry staples here on the mountain, and flavours we love.  A winner, for sure.
When looking at the recipe, I knew that I wouldn't be able to find fresh pico de gallo in my grocery store.  I had a look at the source recipe and knew that I could make some substitutions to combine the recipes and make something that would work for us.
I present to you now Shockingly Delicious' Simple Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Casserole:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Shrove Tuesday: Pancakes!!

Every year for Shrove Tuesday, J and I eat pancakes.  I have lots of fun recipes pinned, but for a night like this, a classic recipe is best.  I'll save the peanut butter or gingerbread pancakes for a Saturday morning.  Paired with bacon and maple syrup we bought at the Elmira Maple Syrup last year, dinner is served...with a tall, cold glass of milk.
This is a classic recipe from a classic Canadian cookbook.  This is the pancake recipe I grew up eating for lunch on Saturdays or Sundays.  My Dad swore by this recipe, and really swore by this cookbook.  His favourite birthday cake to make was the rich birthday cake from here.  I love her Seafoam frosting.
According to Wikipedia, Kate Aitken was a pioneer in broadcasting and publishing.  Her cookbook was first published in 1945.  My copy of it is ancient.  Probably not an original edition old, but it is wrapped in old pantyhose cardboard, lacking a front cover, and slowly returning to the earth from whence it came.
About 10 years ago, my mother told me that she'd gotten me a copy of the cookbook from a lady she knew who had died.  What actually turned out to be the case was my mom got a newer copy of Kate Aitken, and I got the old copy.  But the recipes I use are intact as well as the meat roasting charts, which I use regularly.
I now present to you Pancakes from Kate Aitken's Canadian cookbook:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Planning: March 2-7, 2014

It was so exciting to put "March" in the title of this post.  I know that time is screaming along, but I think the weather makes me think that it's standing still.  The fact that we got snow we weren't really expecting last night doesn't help things.  J and I had bought a second gallon of gas for the snowblower a while ago, but we'd been holding off on putting the two-stroke engine oil into it in case we didn't need it.  We needed it today.  I now hope for lots of snow that J can blow so that we use up the gallon.  Sigh.  It's a catch-22 really.  I want winter to be over, but I'm still cheap.
This week is almost off the charts mental.  I've agreed to take part in interviews for a PhD candidate, and then I have School Council.  Tuesday and Wednesday, my school is putting on the musical, The Hundred Years Snooze.  Thursday is the end of school before the break.  I'm on the list for the potluck this week for work.  By Friday, I'm pretty sure I'll be ready to crawl in a corner and sleep for a while.  But to get there, we need to eat.  Here's the plan for this week - things we can make in advance and eat when we're ready.  The plan for this week is as follows:
Sunday:  Seeing as I'm busy for Shrove Tuesday, we're having pancakes and bacon Sunday night.
Monday:  I found a recipe for chicken enchilada casserole that looks darn tasty.  I can make it in advance and have J put it in the oven.
Tuesday:  Leftover casserole.
Wednesday:  J is making chili in the crockpot.  All I have to do is come home and eat.  I so approve of this plan.  At least, I'm sure by Wednesday I will.
Thursday:  Leftover chili.  And wine.  Because wine goes with everything.
Friday:  Probably go out.  Or a pizza kit.  I don't know.  Something that's easy.
So here's to the last week of school before March Break.  May my mind and spirit be intact at the end of it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Planning: Bride of Magazine Challenge, March Edition

Today is the 1st day of March.  I can't say that I'm sorry to see February go, what with the snow and ice, the cold, and the incredible stress of the past 28 days.  At the end of this coming week, I'll be off for a week and I can hardly wait.  I like March with its melting and longer days.  I also like that March gives me a chance to spend some time cooking on my time off.
The March 2006 issue of Everyday Food I was thinking seemed like things I wouldn't make when I first perused it.  The In Season vegetable is celery.  Of course, my first thought is the Simpsons, and Lisa's saying, "I'm so stuffed up, I can't even enjoy Mom's delicious boiled celery."  The week's worth of dinners didn't really appeal to me either- either flavours or foods that I'm not really fond of.
When I started writing my list of 6 to try, however, I came up with 8.  That was counting a menu.  March is looking up.  Here's what I thought to try in March:
  • Steel Cut Oats:  I'm still working on eating breakfast in the morning.  We'll see what we think.
  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars:  These look amazing.  I'm not betting J will say he doesn't like these, but when I read the recipe, I hope he does.
  • Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets:  This looks like a quick weeknight dinner recipe.
  • Classic Tomato Soup:  I'm thinking for lunch the week I'm off.  This looks easy and yummy.
  • Spaghetti Carbonara:  I always loved this when I lived in France.  I've never really tried to make it though.
  • Spicy Lemon Spinach:  I'm thinking this with the chicken.
  • Weekend Menu:  This is actually a few things - a sausage lasagna, garlic bread, salad and coffee tartufo.  I won't make the garlic bread, and I don't like the looks of the salad, but I want to make the rest for next Saturday night when we're having friends in.
  • Mexican Wedding Cakes:  These look good, but I'm not totally sure.  There are other baked goods to try.
There are 9 recipes!  It's going to be a busy month.