Halloween was fairly uneventful this year as I had to work until 9:00 and the weather was pretty dreary. However, once I got home after work JD & I dressed the boys up in their superhero costumes and tried to capture a good picture of the dogs. I bribed them with treats to try and get them to smile at the camera but you can definitely tell how unimpressed they were with their costumes. But I still think they look pretty handsome, don’t you?
I also gave up on trying to edit out the red-eye on Ozzy and flash-eye on Rally…someday I am going to learn how to properly edit photos. One day..
Since I like to sleep in as late as I possible can in the mornings (to be honest, I sleep in later than I should every morning and am constantly running late!) I need a breakfast that is grab and go. Most mornings I end up eating my breakfast on my drive to work. And my drive to work is about 5 minutes long so it has to be something I can eat quickly but will keep me full until lunch. These muffins are a perfect match to my breakfast checklist. They are grab and go and easy to eat on the run. Plus, the oatmeal makes them very filling and keeps my belly from grumbling all morning at work. Because that can be embarrassing. These muffins are even so moist that you don’t need any butter or anything- they are perfect just as is. And trust me, I put butter on EVERYTHING. So if I say they don’t need butter, then they definitely do not. This is a recipe that I modified only slightly from Keeping Up with the Joneses- a great blog!
Banana Oatmeal Muffins
- 2&1/2 cups oats
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1&1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and either line a cupcake tin or spray it with some olive oil. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and the wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl then mix all together. Scoop about 1/3 cup batter into each muffin liner and bake for 25 minutes.
Happy Halloween Eve! I had planned on spending the evening dressing up in our costumes ( the dogs & I all have superhero costumes!) and taking some family pictures but I ended up bringing in some wood and falling asleep. What an exciting life I lead! However, with all the rain forecast for the next couple of days the wood had to be brought in. I will thank myself later when it is cold outside and nice and toasty inside. When we first moved into our old home it was heated only by oil and let me tell you, that first winter was a COLD and EXPENSIVE one! After that first winter we knew we couldn’t survive on oil alone ( I like to be nice and warm in the winter!) so we invested in a wood furnace. I refer to it as my best purchase of life. It completely changed my winters- our house went from freezing to nice and toasty. I don’t think anything can quite compare to the comfort and heat of a wood stove. And honestly, I don’t really mind the all the labor that it involves. I count bringing in the wood as my exercise for the day and it makes my Type-A personality smile to know I have accomplished something. So as dull as spending a Tuesday evening bringing in wood and napping on the couch sounds, it was a pretty good evening for me. But before all that hard work and nap time I experimented in the kitchen with a new recipe for supper- and it delivered! I was a little concerned at first, as the smell of the apple cider vinegar was a little overwhelming- but the end result was delicious. A nice and tender tenderloin with a savoury, crunchy crust. A perfect meal.
Maple Balsamic Crusted Pork Tenderloin
- 1 pork tenderloin
- 4 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp grainy mustard
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2-1 tbsp thyme
Preheat the oven to 325. Place the tenderloin in a baking dish and coat with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme. In a small bowl mix together the maple syrup, cider vinegar and mustard. Pour over the tenderloin and cook for 60 minutes. ( I just use my meat thermometer to assess doneness. I’m fancy like that)
I find it hard to believe that just 6 years ago I barely knew how to cook or bake anything and would never have the ambition to ever modify a recipe at all. If I did make anything, I followed that recipe to perfection. During my university years, I was preoccupied with schoolwork and the university social life- I didn’t have any time or desire to spend what little free time I had in the kitchen. But then 6 years ago I found myself graduated, married, actually working for a living- and with a lot more free time. It was during this time that I realized how enjoyable cooking can be.
In those “early days” I relied heavily on my family and coworkers for recipe ideas as it would never occur to me to browse recipes online and the only cookbooks I owned were those that had been given to me as wedding gifts. How times have changed. I now collect cookbooks like I am trying to make my own little culinary library. However, there are some recipes from back then that are still among my favorite today- and this sweet and sour chicken is one of them. It is so easy to prepare and I have served it to picky eaters of all ages who all devour it. It is a basic, tasty recipe that appeals to almost everyone (seriously- who doesn’t like sweet and sour sauce?)
Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs
- 1 pack or 6-8 chicken thighs
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 and place chicken thighs in a casserole dish. Mix together the ketchup, sugar and vinegar in a saucepan on the stove and bring to a gentle boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken thighs and cover the dish. Bake for 1 hour. This tastes amazing served over basmati rice.
This has been a bad week for cooking- I’ve had several major kitchen flops already this week and it is only Wednesday. Such is the joy of experimenting with new recipes. Although I must admit I am usually pretty lucky- for every kitchen fail I have many more successes. I hardly ever repeat the same recipe twice because I love experimenting with new ones so much. I spend an unhealthy amount of time perusing recipes on Pinterest and have an obsession with cookbooks. Especially cookbooks with pictures- I think I could drool over food porn all day long. Give me a cup of Starbucks coffee and an hour to wander through the cookbooks at Chapters and I’m a happy girl.
But the recipe I’m going to share with you today doesn’t come from the internet, or a cooking show or a cookbook….it comes from my dear old dad.Now don’t get the wrong impression- my dad is no chef. Growing up, it was my mom who did the
majority all the cooking. But this is one meal that I only ever remember my father making and because of that it feels like comfort food for me. Eating this dish brings me back to family dinners around our dining room growing up. It is also a very versatile dish- I have made it with both chicken and pork and both turn out fabulous. It is also super easy to prepare- just throw everything into a roaster in the oven and wait and hour. That easy.
Garlic Chicken & Rice
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or pork chops ( I prefer pork)
- 1 cup rice
- 1/2 cup garlic sauce
- 2&1/2 cups water
- 2 tbsp soya sauce (I usually throw in a little more because I love it)
- 1 large onion (chopped)
Preheat oven to 350. Cut the chicken breasts into halves and place on the bottom of a roaster. Place the chopped onion, rice, garlic sauce, water and soya sauce on top and cook for 1 hour. Easy, huh? Serve with a side of veggies and enjoy!
Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians out there! My long weekend was filled with food (and lots of it!), playing with the dogs and a nice, long drive around Elgin, NB with the hubby. We started out yesterday bright and early sharing breakfast at a local restaurant with my family and finished it with turkey dinner with JD’s family. I think my belly was full from first thing in the morning until my head hit the pillow last night. In between all the eating, we managed to sneak a Sunday drive out in the countryside around Elgin, NB. Sunday drives have been a sort of tradition with JD and I- we usually start by stopping at a local cafe for a big mug of coffee and spend hours driving around listening to the radio and enjoying each others company. It is nice to take a break from our busy life to just be with each other and is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. And it always amazes me how many picturesque places there are so close by.
Pollet River, New Brunswick
And the best scenery of all is in our own backseat
The weekend was so busy I barely squeezed in any time in the kitchen. But I did manage to find time to make these gems- pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. A gluten-free girl has to be prepared for family dinners and show up with her own dessert. I will admit it- the pumpkin pie covered in whipped cream and apple pies covered in ice cream did make me resent my gluten free status for a minute- but these cookies satisfied my sweet tooth and kept my belly happy. And my gluten-loving husband gave them his approval as well- so I encourage everyone to give them a try. The original recipe comes from the one and only Bethenny (yup! THAT Bethenny…and she used banana instead of pumpkin which I think would also be delicious but pumpkin seemed more appropriate for the season.)
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
- 1&1/2 cups oat flour (I use Cream Hill estates- it’s GF!)
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1/3 cup almond milk
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in one bowl and all the wet ingredients in another then blend together. Fold in the chocolate chips. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out small balls of batter onto the cookie sheet. Flatten with your hand (these cookies do not spread out much during baking) and bake for 12 minutes (until crisp and slightly browned around the edges.) These go well with a big mug of coffee or tea.
Today was the Fall Fair here in Amherst. One of the best things about living in a small town ( besides the fact that you never, EVER have to wait in traffic and can get anywhere you want underin 10 minutes) is the whole “community” feel of the town. I love it so much I actually participate in the town activities for both Amherst and the town of Sackville, just a 10 minute drive away. Between the two we have a Fall Fair, Christmas Fair with midnight madness shopping and free apple cider and horse & carriage rides, Canada Day Festival and fireworks, and a music festival at the end of Summer. We have the Amherst farmer’s market on Fridays and the Sackville Farmer’s market on Saturdays and being in the middle of all this farmland means there is always an abundance of local produce in the Summer and Fall. I love leaving my house to get groceries or run an errand and always know I’ll run into someone familiar. Yes, we don’t have a huge selection for shopping or restaurants but the city is only 40 minutes away. And if I actually lived in the city I’d have to wait in traffic for about 20 minutes to get anywhere anyways. I’ll take my country living over the city life any day.
With the cooler weather here to stay I have been craving comfort food, soups and stews over the salads and barbecues of summer. Last week I found this awesome recipe for beef goulash while perusing the blog “Salad in a Jar”. If you like food blogs you should totally check this one out- almost every recipe had me drooling. But this beef goulash just completely hit the spot for my comfort food craving and with a little modification I made it gluten-free and delicious!
Gluten Free Beef Goulash
- 1 box Gogo Quinoa macaroni pasta (it’s gluten free, better for you than wheat pasta and delicious!)
- 2lb extra lean ground beef
- 1 large onion
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 green pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1 large tomato
- 2 cloves garlic (I LOVE garlic, so a little less if you don’t)
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 cup water
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Bring the pasta to a boil and cook until al dente in a separate pot. In a large skillet brown the ground beef, remove from pan and set aside. Next brown the onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. Add the green pepper, carrot and tomato and simmer until soft. Next add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, water and ground beef and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in macaroni and shredded cheese & mix all together. Yum! And the best part? this makes tons, so you’ll have lots of leftovers!
What do a couple of newlyweds do on a Sunday afternoon when they are in the middle of house renovations?? Cut & paint baseboard together. Romantic, huh? The couple that sands together stays together, right?….Ok, maybe not. But that is what JD & I found ourselves doing last Sunday afternoon. We had loaded up on baseboard from the local Kent earlier in the week and JD spent the afternoon measuring and cutting them to size while I painted them with a fresh coat of white paint. It was the perfect way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon and SO rewarding to see our apartment reaching the final stages of renovation. Jd had painted the apartment the previous weekend (while I brought in our wood…that is how much I hate painting. I’ll take hard labor over cutting in any day!) Just look at the difference some color and baseboard make!
Before- boring white and naked
- lilac and baseboard. Such an improvement!
I was also so excited to share my apple-ginger pork recipe yesterday that I completely neglected to tell you about the awesome sweet potato side that accompanied the pork- sweet & spice roasted potatoes from cinnamon, spice & everything nice. And it is not a side dish to be neglected. It was sweet with a little bit of heat and a lot of carbs…..a perfect combination!
Sweet & Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 2 large sweet potatoes (mine were massive costco size.)
- 3 large potatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
Preheat your oven to 400. Peel & chop up the potatoes and sweet potatoes in a large bowl and pour the olive oil over them. Mix together all the spices in a small bowl and mix in well with the potatoes ( the potatoes should be covered in spice mix. If you want a lot of flavor I would double the spice recipe.) Arrange the potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 30-40 minutes (longer=crispier. Just keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.)
I am one proud kitty-mama this morning. The hubby finally got around to installing the cat door we bought for Ernie about a month ago and my fat cat fit through it! From the day JD brought it home I was pretty skeptical that Ernie would be able to squeeze himself through such a tiny opening- but he did it!! I have never been so happy. (Well, that is probably being a little dramatic, but I am happy to cross another item off our house reno to-do list.)
While JD was laboring away drilling a hole in our new door (I admit- it made me a little nervous!) I was in the kitchen testing out another new recipe from a new website I stumbled upon (PaleOMG) that is just perfect for anyone interested in a Paleo lifestyle. I have been doing lots of reading on Paleo and love most their recipes because they are, by nature, gluten-free. However, this woman likes carbs WAY too much to commit to a fully Paleo lifestyle- but I highly recommend almost every recipe from PaleOMG- I went a little nuts pinning her recipes on Pinterest and cannot wait to try more of them since this first one turned out so delicious. It is especially perfect for this cooler weather- the apples & spices combo made it a really great comfort food. I slightly modified her original recipe.
Crockpot Apple Ginger Pork
- 6 boneless, skinless pork chops
- 1 large onion
- 3-4 medium sized apples
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp ginger
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
Chop up the onion & garlic and layer it in the bottom of your crockpot and pour the chicken broth on top. Place the porkchops on top of the onions ( I did not even defrost my pork chops first- just threw them in frozen). Peel the skins of the apples & layer them on top of the porkchops. Sprinkle the ginger, cinnaamon, paprika, bay leaf and honey on top. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. The top layer will get a little brown but it is not burnt-trust me!
Another cozy Fall morning curled up with my favorite four-legged furballs. The comfort and love a dog brings into your life is just indescribable. Our oldest dog, Rally, is 11 and has been quite sick for the past couple years. He has a tumor in his esophagus that is inoperable so we know our time with him is limited. He can only stomach very small meals at a time and has to be on high doses of steroids for the rest of his life but he is still so, so happy. He has always been an extremely loveable dog but knowing his years are numbered makes us value our “cuddle time” with him even more. Don’t you just love this face?
And yes- my dog does use an armrest. Is that not the cutest thing ever? Not to say I don’t love my puppy, Ozzy- because I do! I love them both equally with all of my heart. I’m just feeling a little sentimental about the old man this morning.
Today I want to share the new recipe I tried for breakfast yesterday- Baked Raspberry Finnish Pancakes by blogresipi. I altered it a little to make it gluten and dairy free ( I do not eat dairy free all the time but try to limit my dairy). The result was delicious! It is more moist than a regular pancake…almost reminded me of an oversized, gooey muffin. I think it would taste good with any fruit- not just raspberries and does not need any syrup or topping- tastes perfect just as is.
Gluten Free Raspberry Baked Pancakes ( serves 3-4)
- 2 cups almond milk
- 2 cups GF all purpose flour ( or regular flour if it doesn’t need to be gf)
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup olive oil ( I actually omitted this-accidentally-and it turned out fine)
- 2 tbsp coconut nectar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
- Raspberries (or any fruit topping of your choice)
Preheat the oven to 375 and mist some single serving baking dishes with olive oil.Mix all ingredients except the raspberries together in a large bowl and pour into the individual baking dishes- being careful not to pour too thick or else it will take longer to cook. The batter will seem very liquid- this is normal. Sprinkle some raspberries onto the top of the dish and sprinkle with some more coconut nectar. Bake for 20-30 minutes (mine took a little longer than 30 minutes) and Enjoy! I can’t wait to try it with a different fruit topping next time!
I love weekend mornings. In particular the weekend mornings when neither JD nor I have anything we have to do and can spend the morning just relaxing in our PJs. It is a cool & rainy Fall morning and I am snuggled up on our couch with the two dogs curled up at my feet, a cup of coffee in hand, reading blogs and could not be happier. There is no better feeling that enjoying a leisurely morning after a hectic work week and I am savoring every moment.
I have a new recipe baking in the oven for breakfast ( Raspberry Baked Finnish Pancakes- coming to la Casa Creighton any day now!) but the recipe I wanted to share with you today is one of my favorites. In fact, that was exactly what JD said to me yesterday as we were sitting down to eat “I think this is your favorite supper meal, isn’t it?”. And it is. I got it from the Everyday Cooking “Fresh Flavors Fast” cookbook a couple years ago and it has become part of our normal rotation ever since. It is quick to prep (less than 30 minutes) so is perfect for the nights when JD & I have both worked a long day and I don’t have my usual enthusiasm towards cooking dinner but always tastes delicious.One warning though- it does contain quite a bit of whipped cream so it isn’t exactly a low calorie dish. I have tried making it using skim milk or almond milk instead but in this case it is definitely worth the extra calories to use real whipped cream.
Mustard Chicken (serves 3-4)
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into thin pieces so they cook up fast)
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup cooked basmati rice
Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook in olive oil until cooked all the way through (about 10 minutes). Remove the chicken and add the chicken broth to the skillet and cook until the liquid has been reduced by about half. Add the whipping cream and mustard and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and this is where the magic happens- the sauce will thicken up a little. Pour the sauce over the rice and chicken and Enjoy! I usually serve with a side salad as the dish is fairly rich & salty itself.