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!