Welcome to winter

I don't think I'll be using this clothesline for quite awhile.

Menu Plan Monday: Leftovers take the stage

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. We did. We had family over for the afternoon and dinner. There was alot of laughter, people having fun, and lots of goodies to eat.

Christmas dinner was a joint effort, so no one was stuck in the kitchen all day long (unless they were stuck there munching on one of the appetizers we set out for snacking with.) But for some reason, everyone left every bit of leftovers with me! Considering we had both ham and turkey, plus potatoes, stuffing, veggies, buns, and three types of sauce, that's alot of leftovers!

So this week's Menu Plan Monday involves left overs.

Saturday: Straight ham, potatoes and veggies leftovers, warmed in the oven and then enjoyed.

Sunday: Left over turkey turned into club sandwiches, with fries and coleslaw.

Monday: Turkey noodle soup. I'm not making my own stock from the carcass, but am using the chicken stock I used for a fondue, which should be full of flavor from the chicken and veggies cooked in it. Plus I have some veggies left from that fondue to use. And the left over turkey.

Tuesday: Pasta, with sauce made from the rest of the left over veggies from the fondue (peppers and mushrooms.)

Wednesday: Pancakes and pickings. We are going out of town the next morning, to see more family and help my mother celebrate her birthday, so I don't want left overs.

Thursday: I'm making dinner at my mothers, prime rib roast. I have at least one request for dessert, a banana cream pie, so will also be making that as well as one other dessert.

This will also be doubling as our New Years Eve celebration.

Friday: Nachos', with a story.

Many years ago, when we were late teens, my hubby and I met working at the same part time job. We also met two other people, whom we now consider our best friends, who also eventually became a couple and were married. Whenever we could, the four of us (or sometimes just the three of us), got together and played cards and had nachos, which we could order from a local restaurant, and who conveniently delivered. Sure, we spent $15-20 having nachos, but considering all we did was play cards and eat nachos, it was a cheap evening for 3-4 people.

We still play cards with our friends, online when we are apart, which is most of the time, and in marathon proportions when we are together. Both families are also teaching our oldest children how to play the same game we've been playing for the last 20 years. Nachos are made at least once in a marathon (as in days long) game.

I will think fondly of our friends as we dig into an order of nachos on Friday: extra sour cream and jalapenos on the side please!

Well, that is it! Have a safe New Years!

Merry Christmas: A snack for Santa

It's Christmas Eve and my house just got a little quieter.

I had to work today and did not get home until about 6pm. Despite this, we still managed to have our traditional fondue for dinner (I added raw shrimp and a hot cheese dip this year, replacing beef and spinach dip, what a great change!).

A bit of a cuddle to watch a Christmas holiday movie and then it was time to get at least one child settled and off to bed.

Christmas Eve has a another couple of traditions for us: each year the boys get to unwrap one present, which is always a new pair of pajamas. After changing, they get Santa's snack ready for him, set it out and then head off to bed.

The choice of drink is always chocolate milk (Santa knows he can warm it up if he'd like), and it is always an apple for the reindeer, not carrots. Long discussion when into choosing this - we figure Santa gets white milk at every other house, so he'd like a bit of a change. And the reindeer always get carrots, but why shouldn't they get a treat and something different as well?

This year, the boys chose to leave Santa some caramel shortbread squares, something I have been making for a few years. They can be made ahead and frozen, so lack of baking time is no excuse not to try these.

If Santa likes these squares as much as my family does, there won't be anything but crumbs left on the plate tomorrow morning.

Caramel Shortbread Squares
This recipe can be found in my baking binder, hand written on a scrap of paper, with no source given.

1 1/2 cups butter, softened and divided
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1 14oz can condensed milk*
3 Tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3 squares of semi sweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, or with a stand mixer, beat together 1 cup of the butter with the icing sugar and salt, until light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix only until combined. Press into a 9x9, non-glass pan that has been buttered and floured.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool while you make the caramel.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the remaining 1/2 cup of butter over low heat. Stir in the condensed milk and the corn syrup. Keep an eye on this mixer and stir frequently until the caramel becomes golden and thick. When the caramel reaches your desired color, stir in the vanilla.

Pour the caramel over the crust, spreading evenly.

Melt the chocolate squares in the microwave, then drizzle the warm chocolate over the top of the caramel.

Chill for 3-4 hours before cutting into squares or bars. If you plan to freeze the squares, be sure to cut them before you freeze them.

Good at room temperature and still slightly frozen.

* Btw, a can of condensed milk in Canada reads 10 oz, whereas one from the US reads 14 - however I recently took a can from each country and weighed them. The can from Canada weighed 2 grams more than the one from the US, but it had a pull tab on the can. In other words, they are the same!

Product Review: PC Pad Thai Sauce

If you've ever looked at my FoodBuzz profile page, you'll note that I say my favorite restaurant is Sukhothai, a local Thai restaurant. My hubby and I like to go together and order an assortment of dishes and then eat too much food together.

We each have one dish that is always chosen, his being beef with chili and basil, and mine being Pad Thai with shrimp.

I've made Pad Thai from scratch before, and been disappointed. Despite this, when I was asked to try a bunch of the new President's Choice products from the Holiday Insider's Report, Pad Thai cooking sauce was my top choice.

A quick and easily put together meal, which I need lately, that is fairly well balanced with some veggies (I used carrots, bell peppers and bean sprouts), a healthy protein (shrimp), noodles and sauce.

Unfortunately, this did not make it to the plate without having lost votes already from our family of four: one child was sick and not eating (and still doesn't know we had shrimp without him, don't tell him please!), the other was unwilling to try it. Oh well, I thought - more for me!

I did mention I really like shrimp Pad Thai, right?

The final results were alright, the sweet and sticky sauce coating everything. It is a very good choice for someone who hasn't had very good Thai food and wants to try something in their own home. The instructions on the bottle were easy to follow and it made plenty of Pad Thai, even with only two of us eating it.

As for us, we are going to stick to Sukhothai for our Pad Thai in the future. Maybe when you've had one of the best, the rest just don't measure up.

You can purchase President's Choice Pad Thai Cooking Sauce at any President's Choice affiliated grocery store, such as Loblaws, Independent Grocer's, Value Mart, Superstore, or Zehrs.

Menu Plan Monday: A family effort

Has anyone noticed that the only post I do lately is my Menu Plan Monday post? I know, it's sad. I have ideas for posts. I even have some pictures for posts. I just am lacking in time.

This week, however, I might get at least one more post done, cause I'm not making every dinner this week and am 95% done my Christmas shopping.

So here we go, my Menu Plan for Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday: Tyler's Chili. I made this one, not exactly this recipe, but close enough.

Monday: Pasta with choice of sauce, Alfredo or Marinara, and garlic bread. To be made by my oldest son. He picked this while we were grocery shopping together, as a family, earlier today (something we do maybe once very two years.)

Tuesday: Eating out at IKEA night. I'm working until 6, my usual time, and the boys are all going to tkd class together, so they will meet me after class and we will have dinner together. No cooking, no dishes. (Okay, no dishes for me to do, but we will return our trays to tray return so that the dishes get done.)

Wednesday: Pork chops with mashed potatoes. Hubby is cooking tonight. Vegetable to be decided closer to dinner time.

Thursday: Christmas Eve. Normally on Christmas Eve we do a meat and veggie fondue, cooking them in a broth, but I am not sure I feel like doing that this year. I think we might make burgers. Or homemade pizza. I don't know yet what we will do.

Friday: Christmas Day. I'm making ham and potatoes and whatever else I feel like making. My MIL is making turkey. My SIL is making veggies and bringing an appetizer. Sounds like lots of fun to me!

Saturday: Left over buffet. Cause I'm sure there will be some.

If I don't make it back with another post this week (I promise to try!), have a wonderful Christmas!

Menu Plan Monday: The countdown begins

This morning my little one sat down with a paper and pen and figured out how many days it was until Christmas, just like they'd done at school to figure out how many days until the end of 2009. In doing so, he made me realize I should start giving some thought to what I'd like to make for both Christmas breakfast and dinner.

Since I try to stay within a certain budget for groceries, Christmas always throws things off.

This year I am trying things a bit different - instead of doing one huge shopping trip for everything I'll need, I'm trying to just get a few things each time I shop. My budget is still going to be affected, but not in one huge hit.

Here goes this week's plan, ready for Menu Plan Monday:

Sunday: Meatballs with buttered pasta. Recipe doubled for the freezer.

Monday: Pork roast in slow cooker, with apple sauce and smashed potatoes.

Tuesday: Not sure. Hubby is taking over this night, so whatever he makes.

Wednesday: Buttermilk chicken fingers with salad.

Thursday: Pick up night - we are doing a new schedule for Tkd that night and as a result, no one is getting home before 8pm.

Friday: We are going to try for hamburgers and hot dogs again. Try.

So what do you do to plan for the Christmas groceries?

Menu Plan Monday: It's a freezer week

I know, I'm a day late in posting this. I could have posted yesterday and been on time, but I chose to go to bed instead so I could get up early this morning and swim for a short while. I did get up early and made it to swimming, but I didn't get to be as early as I should have.

So this week's menu plan, which is going to be linked to Menu Plan Monday, is dedicated to my freezer. Everything comes from my freezer, and I'm glad I had the items in there for us. Unfortunately, that leaves me with very little that is premade, so I'm going to have to do some batch cooking (and, yeah, I think I will have time to this weekend!)

Sunday: My work Christmas party, hubby and I were out for dinner. I won a nice prize at the party too.

Monday: Chicken in pineapple sauce with rice. Frozen chicken and a slow cooker.

Tuesday: Stew with mashed potatoes. Both the stew and the potatoes are from the freezer.

Wednesday: Potential massive snow day, our first of the year, but I still reserve this day for broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken breast (premade in the freezer for the win!) with veggies, also from the freezer.

Thursday: Sheppard's Pie, from, you guessed it, in the freezer!

Friday: Either hamburgers and hot dogs, or going out for fish and chips. We shall wait and see.

Just over two weeks away from Christmas and I am not ready yet. I've done no baking. I've not finished my shopping. We don't have our tree up yet (we are still waiting for my furniture for the living room before we put up our tree,) or our lights, or my wreath for the front door. Good thing I have nothing planned for Saturday!

Menu Plan Monday: Just because

Another Sunday night and I'm ahead of things for this week. So far ahead, actually, that tomorrow night's dinner is made. And Tuesday night's dinner is almost ready.

Despite having a busy weekend here, I've gotten a tonne of stuff done. My little guy has been home sick since Wednesday night, and while he's better now, it has meant that instead of all of us doing things, we've taken turns so that one of us was always home. And I took advantage of that time to do a few things, like making meals.

So here is my contribution to this week's Menu Plan Monday:

Sunday: It is Grey Cup day (CFL football, for those of you who don't know) and I managed to throw together a last minute little buffet party. We had nachos, perogies, stuffed potato skins, pita with hummus and spinach dip, and some little appetizers made from crackers, cream cheese and hot pepper jelly. All finger foods that would be eaten on a little plate while watching football.

Monday: Lasagna. Currently sitting in the fridge ready to bake.

Tuesday: Slow cooker ribs. Still no idea what kind of sauce I want with them though.

Wednesday: Meatball subs with salad. Put frozen meatballs in pot with some sauce, jar or homemade, who knows, until heated. Toast buns, add meatballs, top with cheese, broil for 30 seconds. Then hand out the napkins!

Thursday: Tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. I want to try making my own soup, but if it can't happen then, I'll find a can or two of some soup.

Friday: No plans yet. PD day for the kids, hubby staying home with them, we will see what happens.

Monday morning now, and my car has snow on it. Real snow, white and cold. I guess I will finally have to stop wearing my crocs outside. Bleh.

Have a nice Monday.

Menu Plan Monday: Thinking ahead for a change

It is Sunday night here, and I'm actually ready to post a menu plan for the week and get it onto Menu Plan Monday. What a change from the last few weeks! I hope some of it is from getting used to being back at work, but I know some of it is from too much changes to my plans lately. I've had good intentions, but it seems that by Thursday I am always picking something up.

A few changes from last week: The crock pot chicken was great, but we had it on Caesar salad, not with cheesy potatoes. Thursdays possible shrimp turned into Subway, and Friday's fish and chips turned into homemade chili. At least I still cooked on Friday.

Actually, I cooked this weekend too, mostly because I really wanted to. Yes, I'm tired and really did not want to mess up my kitchen more than it already was, but I also missed the calmness and creative outlet that cooking can be for me. I need to keep that in my mind this week when I'm leaving work at 6:15 and know I still have a 25 minute drive ahead of me before I start dinner.

So here is this week's plan, starting with today, Sunday:

Sunday: Pot luck dinner with our Taekwon-Do school. I made Spanikopita, feta cheese and spinach pie, made with phillo dough. I'm not sure if I've posted this recipe before, so I will do a search later and if I haven't, I'll take a picture of my left overs and get it up here!

Monday: Teriyaki pork tenderloin with carrots.

Tuesday: Pad Thai with shrimp - I'm trying out a new jarred sauce.

Wednesday: Homemade chicken fingers with salad.

Thursday: Meatloaf with mashed potatoes.

Friday: Spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread.

I hope everyone has a good week!

Menu Plan Monday: I'm back!

Did you miss me?

I had a nice weekend in Toronto with my youngest child. Didn't do much of anything, completely forgot to call Cream Puff until I was almost at Toronto, so didn't see her, and did not eat anywhere that did not involve fast food, but still managed to have a good time.

My little one and I were going for the purpose of seeing my uncle, who is a testament to how important organ donation is - he would not be alive today without someone's foresight and generosity. If you haven't done so, sign your organ donor card today and talk to your family! Even if you sign your card, or have it on your medic bracelet the way I do, your family can overrule you, so let them know you want to be an organ donor!

I admit I did not make my menu plan for the week until sometime this afternoon. We got in last night after 6pm, and were both very tired. Today we tried sleeping in but it didn't work very well for us, so we packed up his brother and went shopping in the US. The price of butter alone makes the trip worth while for me, plus the boys like to pick out things they can't get here, like Goobers, a combination of peanut butter and jelly in the same jar. Ugh to me, but they love it.

Here we go, still a work in progress, but what I'm submitting for this week's Menu Plan Monday:

Sunday: Sheppard's Pie, made by the hubby.

Monday: Pizza and salad, a chicken pizza and a 5 cheese pizza, from Costco.

Tuesday: Steak fajitas

Wednesday: Crockpot chicken and cheesy potatoes.

Thursday: Happy Shrimp with rice. I think. Maybe. Oh, who knows!

Friday: Fish and chips, homemade.

Life is good when you can make a little boy deliriously happy simply by taking him on the subway. For him, life is over the top fabulous when a subway trip is combined with a trip on the GO train and then a walk up to see just how tall the CN tower really is. Especially when he can follow on a map and see how far he walked and what the next stop on the train is.

Btw, I think my youngest child is in love! It is a toss up between Potter Barn for Kids and Crate and Barrel!

Menu Plan Monday: More cow and some paint

Paint and a cow is not a combination you expect to see when it comes to a menu plan, but this week, that's what I've got. First, I picked up my 1/4 of a cow last night, with the "help" and company of my Little SC. Then my oldest helped me count out the various packages as I put them into the freezer.

I think it is safe to say I won't run out of ground beef any time soon - not with 54 lbs of it!

No roasts in my freezer, though, just 'summer cuts' in steaks and braising ribs. That's fine, we'll live with that.

Now the connection to paint....

We've lived in this house for almost a year now and living with the decorating choices of the former owner has been pulling me down. Budget wise, however, I had to. That and the total repaint of our old home before we sold it had my hands cramping up every time I even thought about picking up a roller.

I finally could not stand it anymore, the gold glazed wall in my kitchen, with the sponge painted underside of bulkheads above my cabinets. And, more importantly, my hubby 'volunteered' to paint! Goodbye gold, glazed sponge paint!

So my kitchen has not exactly been functioning the last few days, which means the plan of sausages with tomatoes and mashed potatoes from last night is likely to happen tonight, and last night became pick up pizza on the way home night.

And my kitchen is so much lighter and brighter, so that was well worth a few pizzas!

Sunday: Left overs (I had a work meeting and ate there.)

Monday: Pizza from the local bar, pretty good.

Tuesday: Sausages with tomatoes and mashed potatoes (or sausages on a bun with chips.)

Wednesday: Rib eye steaks with salad.

Thursday: Homemade hamburgers

Friday: I'm out of town with my little one, so my two "big boys" get to fend for themselves.

Saturday: They are still on their own, I think they can handle it fine.

And that's my plan for the week, which I will be adding in to the plans from hundreds of others on Menu Plan Monday.

Pictures of my newly painted kitchen next week. Or after I find curtains for it.

We interupt this menu plan to purchase a cow

Yes, I said a cow.

Not a full cow. A quarter of a cow.

(And in answer to the Little Sous Chef's question, no, not a live cow.)

Turns out that someone I was working with at Saunders Farm during October has a working farm, and they just happened to have 1/4 of a cow available for purchase at a very good price.

In one shot I get to support a local farmer, support a new friend, and get a freezer full of fresh, local beef.


No menu plan until I've picked up my 1/4 of a cow (probably tomorrow), and see what exactly I have in the way of cuts of beef. Afterall, I don't want to plan for steaks and then find I only have roasts. Or vice versa.

I can tell you that I plan to make sausages in tomatoes with mashed potatoes for dinner tomorrow. Yummy!

Right after that, though, I'm going to go get my cow.

"Guest" Post: Chef Joey's Cupcake Creation

A little while ago I was contacted by Brenda Tuttle, author and creator of Chef Joey's Cupcake Creation and asked if I would be interested in doing a review. While I wasn't, my Little Sous Chef was very interested and could not wait to get the book and start baking.

My Little Sous Chef is 7 years old, and while he can read quite well and has been a helper in the kitchen over the years, he is still 7.

Hi, I'm the Little Sous Chef and I want to tell you about a book called Chef Joey's Cupcake Creations. I liked this book and the cupcakes were so good. You could even put peanut butter in the icing. And that's what I did for two of them.

My mom is going to ask me some questions about the book and here are my answers:

Was the book easy to read? Yes, it was easy to read.
Did you like the pictures? Not really cause they were a bit babyish.
What made the pictures babyish? Cause there is a baby in it and then it skips until he is a grown up, there is no "years later" showing he growed up.
Did you need anything special to make the cupcakes? Yes I needed cake mix.
Could you make the cupcakes without my help? Not yet but later, when I'm older.
Why couldn't you make them without help? Because I can't measure things and I can't put things in the oven. And I didn't understand the numbers.
What numbers? The numbers of the measuring, like 1/3.
What else do you want to tell me about the book? I didn't use orchids (what's an orchid?). I had Lightening McQueen paper cups and I put little silver and gold balls on the cupcakes.

How many cupcakes did you eat? By now I've aten about 8. Me and my brother have had all of them.
Did your Dad and I get any? Well ya, you both had 1.
Would tell other people about this book? Yup! I will.
Who will you tell? I don't know.
Will you share this book? Yes, I will share it with my friends.
Do you have anything else you want to tell me? Nope. Hope you like the book!

Menu Plan Monday: When delayed posting doesn't work

Delayed posting is a wonderful thing - when it works. It doesn't work when you put in the wrong date and time. Human error.

Oh well, at least the intention was there.

With Halloween done, I won't be at Saunders Farm every weekend, so there will hopefully be more time for baking and planning. Sunday was the 1st of November and also my first "day off" in awhile, so I took advantage of that time and made Lemon Yogurt Bread, with cranberries in it. Going to have a piece in my lunch today.

On to Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday: Roast beef with roasted potatoes, cauliflower and carrots, with gravy.

Monday: Chicken wings, wedge fries and salad. Last minute pick up when my initial plan was missing items.

Tuesday: Spareribs with Hawaiian sauce, rice and green beans.

Wednesday: Penne with tomatoes and garlic, with garlic bread.

Thursday: Chicken Tikka Masala with rice and naan bread.

Friday: French toast. Maybe with bacon.

Have a nice week!

Tyler Florence Friday: Its been fun Tyler!

Its that time. The last Tyler Florence Friday.

What fun it has been, exploring a new chef and his recipes, meeting so many new bloggers.

Rather than end with a bang, I thought I would end with something simple and worth keeping in your repetoire: Tyler's basic crepe recipe.

Crepes are such a worth while item to learn how to make. They are a blank canvas for just about anything you want to fill them with. Smear them with a bit of jam and sprinkle them with icing sugar, and they look impressive. Or saute them in butter sauce and flame them for major wow. Skip the sugar and fill them with chicken and spinach for a fancy main course.

Really, you can do anything you want with them!

I threw these together one Saturday morning, a quick whirl in the blender, then cutting some fruit while the crepe batter rested. My filling of choice that day was sauted peaches in a creamy caramel sauce (brown sugar and butter with a touch of cream), and a drizzle of cinnamon honey yogurt.

The husband had thirds.

Thanks for all the new recipes Tyler! And big hugs and thanks to the lovely ladies who host Tyler Florence Fridays each week, for their hard work and inspiration!

Menu Plan Monday: I'm a day late posting, but still here

I had my plan ready yesterday, I just "forgot" to put it up here and link it to Menu Plan Monday.

Alright, to be totally honest, I had no time in the morning and was so tired last night I went to bed about the same time as my oldest child and conked out. Then I missed swimming this morning because there was no way I was going to be able to get up at 4:40am. I had a hard time getting up at 7:30 am!

I think this multi job thing is catching up with me and my body is objecting. No worries, though, I can sleep in on Sunday (and will!)

Sunday: Dinner at the in-laws, tasty ham and yummy potatoes. And no dishes afterwards!

Monday: Chili with tortillas.

Tuesday: Crispy chicken drumsticks, veggies.

Wednesday: Spinach and cheese stuffed cannelloni with bread.

Thursday: Oops I forgot to write this down and now can't remember what it was! Oh wait, I remember now: spare ribs, drippy with sauce, warm cinnamon apples and baked potatoes.

Friday: I'm back at the Farm so hubby is in charge of himself and the kids. Personally I think I might try for a pulled pork on a Beavertail.

Have a nice week everyone!

Tyler Florence Fridays: I think I need to make this again

In my "spare time" this month, we managed to get apple picking with the children and our friends. As I mentioned before, we tried a new orchards, and while it was pretty, I think next year we will go back to our usual orchard, which has more ladders, a corn maze, and more importantly, apple cider donuts.

Warm, tiny, apple cider donuts, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

Are you wondering what this has to do with my Tyler Florence Fridays choice for this week? There is a connection, really, there is. No, there are not any donuts in this week's choice, but there is apples and apple juice.

The donuts would be a nice addition though, wouldn't they?

You can find the recipe for Thick Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins online, or on pages 58 and 59 of Tyler's Real Kitchen (a book I must return to the library, three renewals is the maximum allowed.) I did not use bone in pork chops, I had pork loin chops, but it seemed to work and was quite tasty. And used up some of the apples I have not had the time to make into apple crumble.

I think this is the second last Friday for Tyler Florence Fridays. I'm still trying to decide if I want to try cooking Nigella for my next chef, again, in all my spare time.

Have a nice day and eat an apple - I have plenty left if you need one!

Menu Plan Monday: Some days I feel uninspired

I snuck in grocery shopping today, between my son's doctor appointment, dropping him off to school and my going to work. Restocked some items for my pantry, picked up fruit and veggies that would be safe to leave in my car while I worked, and then headed into work.

Came home, finished up making dinner, which, incidentally was not the one I'd planned on, and am only now finishing up my menu plan.

Sometimes I just don't feel inspired to plan ahead. Sometimes it is difficult to think out what to make for later in the week: Will I really feel like eating chicken on that night? Hmm, if we have pork chops on Monday, do I want anything porkish later in the week? Ack! I can't make that recipe Wednesday, then we'd have rice two nights in a row! (Okay, not a problem for some families, but mine isn't that enthusiastic about rice unless there is sauce.)

Today I took some of my planning inspiration from the grocery store. Yes, I went in with a list of certain items, and I avoided several sections of the store (not just the fridge and frozen aisles, since I was packing things up in my car for 6+ hours, with a high today of 11C.) Taco shells and tortillas made it into my basket, for a taco night. Mushrooms made it into my basket, to be part of tomorrow nights pork chops with mushrooms and tomatoes, which will let me use up the cheese I have shredded in the fridge. Broccoli made it into my basket to be the veg on Thursday.

And a small package of cookies made it into my basket because I knew I would not have time to make cookies, which we ate as ice cream sandwiches.

Even when I don't feel like menu planning, I know it is important, so I push myself to do it. It helps my budget, it helps when life gets chaotic and I know I don't need to think ahead because I've planned out what I need and taken out what I need and have everything I need.

I guess I need to menu plan. How about you?

Sunday: Cabbage rolls with garlic bread and salad.

Monday: Stuffed chicken breast with creamed corn, salad and bread. And oatmeal-raisin ice cream sandwiches.

Tuesday: Pork chops with tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and rice.

Wednesday: Taco's

Thursday: Chicken cutlettes with noodles and broccoli.

Friday: Hubby and I have potential plans, so I'm leaving this open. Beside's, every menu plan needs a "whatever" night.

Be sure to add your menu plan to the long list of other menu's at Menu Plan Monday.

Saunders Farm: The best fries I'll never eat

If you live in Ottawa, you know what Saunders Farm is. For some it is a yearly tradition: go to the Farm, get your pants scared off you! (Or take the little ones during the day time for some Harvest fun and only a little spookiness, no pant scaring.)

If you don't live in Ottawa, but read this blog regularly, you know I've been working at Saunders Farm during the month of October, when the farm is open for Haunting Season.

You'd think with a name like Haunting Season, I'd be scaring people, right? Well, I'm not, I'm feeding them!

If you come out to the farm, follow the path under the arbor to the mazes and stop when you see this sign. The Farmer's Table is where you will find me, helping to make wonderful food from fresh and local ingredients. Gourmet burgers made with local, grain fed, hormone free, organic beef. Candy apples hand made with apples picked from a local orchard (the same one I took my children to for our own apple picking.) And more....

Meet Angela Grant Saunders, Director of Beauty, Teambuilding, and more importantly, Catering! Angela's love of good, local and fresh food, is highly contagious. Her enthusiasm shows when she talks about food, when she helps prepare food, when she enjoys her food. The Farmer's Table is Angela's baby, and her pride shows.

If you work at Saunders Farm and are part of one of the food booths, you are part of Team Angela! Go Team Angela!

Nestled in the trees, this is where you will find those fries I said I wasn't going to eat. I'm not going to, I don't eat fries, but I do make them, and I've had it from many, many, many tasters and eaters, that I make great fries.

Alright. I admit it. I ate one. One french fry. The only french fry I've eaten in 5 years! And yes, it was great!

Its hard not to make great fries when you start out with fresh potatoes, hand scrubbed and cut daily.

No freezing for these potatoes, from the cutter to the deep fryer.

First a slow and low fry, just to cook the potatoes gently (or as gently as you can be cooked in hot oil.) We don't want crispy fries yet, just softer potatoes. That takes time, have patience!

After a slow cook, then a rest, it is back into the hot oil for the fries. Really hot oil, not the same low temperature, where the fries will get crispy on the outside, but stay soft and tender on the inside. Golden brown in color, these are not the fries you will get at a fast food restaurant or will pull from a bag and put in you oven.

These freshly made fries come in two sizes, regular and family size, and they go fast! The smell of freshly cooked fries floats through the air around the Farmer's Table, making it hard to resist ordering a few for your family. Or a family size for yourself.

If you are interested in trying these fries, you better hurry, as the farm is only open until October 31st! Wait any longer and you'll have to wait a full year for the next Haunting Season.

And while you are there, don't forget to say hi to me. I'll be at the deep fryers, making mountains of fries that I am not going to eat.

Tyler Florence Fridays: I think I forgot to do something important

Please ignore the mess in the background.

But fortunately my husband stepped up to the "plate" and pulled out a camera!

My little sous chef requested cheesecake for his birthday cake, an odd choice for a 7 year old, but one I was able to do. And while cheesecake recipes are everywhere, I turned to Tyler for this special occasion cheesecake. Then made my own adaptions.

Tyler's Ultimate Cheesecake sounds fantastic on its own, with a warm blueberry sauce, but not what I thought the birthday boy would like. Instead I went with cookies, Oreo cookies, and changed the crust, then eliminated the lemon, adding crushed Oreo's part way through the cake, with more crushed Oreo's on top.

I increased the baking time by 1o minutes, but still found it quite soft in the middle. Still very good, very tasty, and well enjoyed by everyone, but soft.

Sorry, there is none left to show a picture of the cookies suspended in the luscious cheesecake, or floating on top. None left to show you the creaminess, smooth and comforting. Not even any Oreo's left. You will just have to try and imagine it.

Only a few more chances to join in on the weekly Tyler Florence Fridays!

Menu Plan Monday: Happy Thanksgiving!

It is Canadian Thanksgiving today, where most families have a turkey coma. We are having spaghetti for ours.

Actually, most of my family had Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, with the Hubby's family, and I had mine much later that night, after work. Yummy turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy. I was able to enjoy the turkey goodness without the work or the dishes and ended my meal with three dishes to wash: my plate, fork and knife.

We have a busy week ahead of us, including celebrating my little sous chef's birthday this week! Since he was premature but born with no health problems and able to come home right away, Thanksgiving for us is more about him than about turkey.

It is also our family tradition that the birthday person gets to pick the menu for that night, so try and guess which one he picked!

Sunday: Leftovers and canned soup with cheese and crackers. We ate together as a family but no one had the same thing to eat.

Monday: Spaghetti, being made by the Hubby right now as I get ready to go to work.

Tuesday: Homemade Make your own pizza.

Wednesday: Hamburgers with coleslaw and sweet potato fries.

Thursday: Chili with tortilla chips.

Friday: Don't know yet, will depend on if we have company or not.

So? Did you guess which menu item was chosen by a 7 year old? If you said pizza, you were right!

Oddly enough, he also picked cheesecake for his cake, which is what his brother did in February. Not sure why, though, since in February he refused to touch the cheesecake, so we will see if I make one he will eat.

Be sure to add your own menu plan in to Menu Plan Monday, hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

And have a great Thanksgiving!

Tyler Florence Fridays: Sweets are sweet

I have to admit, when I started participating in Tyler Florence Fridays, I didn't realize it was a year long event. I didn't even think about it having an end date, I simply assumed we would be blogging until no one wanted to anymore, or until our great hostesses (hi ladies!) decided they were done.

So I am sad to learn that the year is coming to an end.

Not that I will stop making Tyler's recipes, but I will miss the motivation to try new things.

I think maybe I will have to find a new chef to focus on and maybe a blogging group to join in with, just for that extra motivation. (And for those of you who know how much baking and home made with-a-recipe-cooking I've done in the last month, you can stop laughing now - things will settle down and I will get there!)

Yes, it is still busy here. Fortunately, I have a few Tyler recipes in my archives to go to. I had a hard time choosing this week's selection, one of three choices, and they all appealed to me.

The original recipe for my final choice called for pistachios and strawberries, for the Pistachio Meringues with Warm Strawberries found on page 256 of Eat This Book. I didn't have pistachios, I had cashews. And I did not have strawberries, I had peaches. I also had a bit of Grand Marnier, so I changed the recipe to Cashew Meringues with Drunken (instead of warm) Peaches.

Hmmmm, these were tasty. Not as crispy on the outside as I'd have liked, but at the time it had been raining for days and the humidity was not low. Cashews and peaches go quite well together, and a splash of orange flavored alcohol really brightens up the fresh peaches.

It isn't too late to join in on Tyler Florence Fridays, just make sure you make your submission before noon tomorrow (Friday.)

Can't wait to see what everyone else made.

Menu Plan Monday: I think I missed a few things!

Not only have I missed writing down my menu plan in my book, I've missed blogging groups and blog events, I've missed taking pictures of the food I have managed to make, and last week even missed participating in Tyler Florence Fridays! And not because I didn't have anything to contribute, I just plain forgot until I was on my way to work and then it was too late.

October is a very busy month for me this year: not only am I going to be working my new job, as well as my usual job at our Taekwon-Do school, I've added in another job that I mentioned in my menu plan last week, working at the Farmer's Table as part of Saunder's Farm's yearly Haunting Season. So much fun! But tiring and limiting my time for cooking and baking. (It is so limited that a few minutes ago my husband went on a cookie raid and had to eat packaged cookies!)

Still, planning and working together, we have a plan for most of the week!

Sunday: Scrambled eggs and fresh bagels. This was supposed to be hamburgers but it turns out I didn't have a package in the freezer that I thought I had. Eggs make a great last minute substitute.

Monday: Stew with mashed potatoes. (If I'm smart, I will double this and freeze half.)

Tuesday: Pulled pork sandwiches. Maybe with salad.

Wednesday: Stir Fry. Cause I didn't make it the last time I planned to and still have the veggies to do it.

Thursday: Lasagna with garlic bread. The finest you can buy frozen and stick in the oven!

Friday: Something chicken. Not sure how yet, I have time between one job and the next to make something and I think I will wait and see how I feel.

Exciting week, isn't it?

Well, maybe not exciting, but we are still going to manage to eat together as a family for most of the week, and that is important for us.

Have your own menu plan? Add it in to Menu Plan Monday, hosted by Laura and I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Menu Plan Monday: Simple and tasty

The ground outside is wet and covered in yellow and orange leaves. My driveway, normally an interlocking stone, is littered with more leaves, my red car spotted in yellow and orange.

Yes, fall is definitely here.

That's rather depressing when you consider we are still waiting for summer to arrive. Sigh.....

Normally my summer menu's would have been filled with light and fresh items, and only now, when the weather is cooler and wet, would I be turning to heartier and warmer dishes. Well nothing in my menu plan is going to be new and innovative, and all of it repeats of items I made during the summer.

Sunday: Left overs.

Monday: Fajitas, making use of left over peppers.

Tuesday: Sheppard's pie (I didn't have time to make this last week so have moved it to this week.)

Wednesday: Pasta with garlic and tomatoes and sausages.

Thursday: Take out night (it is my day off and I have lots I need to squeeze into it, none of it happening at home.)

Friday: ???? It isn't a surprise, it is an unknown. I will be working all day, and then going to a different job at night (feel free to stop by and see me at my second job, I'll be at the Farmer's Table/Country Kitchen.)

As usual, don't forget to add your own menu to Menu Plan Monday.

Tyler Florence Friday: Making best of seasonal and local

It is a good thing I got alot of recipes for Tyler Florence Fridays in August, because September has not been good for recipe type cooking so far!

And besides', this tart, a Peach and Blueberry Crostata, really would be at its best when peaches and blueberries were in season. Fortunately they both were during August. While the peaches were Ontario grown and seasonal, the blueberries were hand picked by myself, with a bit of help from my children.

A crostata is a free form pie, with all the flaky goodness of a pie without the pan. Perfect for bringing somewhere and sharing, which we did with this crostata. It was enjoyed all around and made enough that 8 of us managed to share it.

You can find the recipe for the crostata on page 260 of Tyler's Eat This Book. His picture is much better than mine but the end result was likely the same: empty plates.

RIP Marvin

Just a baby.

Do you remember Marvin? My beautiful and well loved sour dough starter, loved "nephew" of Aunty Sour Dough?

Unfortunately he has met with an unexpected end and I am sad.

As balls of homemade Timbits.

I had not baked with him in awhile, but that was okay, he was dormant in the back of my fridge. My instructions were to take him out every 6-8 weeks and give him a feeding, maybe bake with him. And this weekend, it was time to take him out and at least give him a little love in the form of warm water and flour.

Alas, poor Marvin, he was frozen solid.

Marvin made such beautiful loaves of bread.

I didn't send off a panicked email to his Aunty, but instead took him out to let him defrost and waited to see how he would do.

Poor Marvin, he never defrosted but instead stayed a block of very sour smelling and greenish-greyish looking ick.

His favorite way to shine, as a breakfast muffin.

You will be missed, Marvin!