Monday 24 February 2014

Photo A Day

I've decided that I'm finished with snow pictures.  Except for these, because they teach a lesson.  Remote control helicopters are bound to land on the roof when used outdoors.  Especially in winter, when climbing up on a ladder becomes hazardous.  I love that my kids are always learning new things.

From now on, until I can get outside and take pictures of something green, I'll be looking around the house for things to focus my camera on.

Like a rare shot of the sun shining through the window.

Or the mess I make of my kitchen.  It's been a hot spot of activity lately.

I made one of my best batches of chili corn bread.

And this creamy vegetable rice, just like those instant rice packages but better, and minus all the processed, packaged, instant ingredients.  I was inspired by this recipe.  

A cookie jar that is as old as our oldest child, filled...

...with my attempts at healthifying treats.  Some good results, some not so good.

Hubby brought home a 22lb bag of flour.  He saw that I was on a mission.

And someone was so distracted they left half a bagel sitting in the toaster.  All day.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day isn't a very big deal in our house.  Most of the kids have outgrown the Valentine celebrations at school, so I'm not preparing treats to send to school, or sitting for hours watching them painstakingly write out Valentines for their classmates.  Truth be told, I sort of miss all that.  So I decided that there should be a little something pink to greet them in the kitchen when they woke up.

And hearts, lots of hearts.

The cake is the Sweet Soft Cherry Bread with Cherry Almond Glaze from Averie Cooks.  It turned out pretty good, although hers is much prettier than mine.  The almond and cherry flavour is fantastic.

The heart garlands came together easily.  Each heart is three folded hearts glued together, with string running through the centre of each heart to connect them.  I used these printable heart images.

All in all, pretty simple.  Some hearts, a pink cake.  They will always be my Valentines, after all.

Almond Cherry Loaf


One 10 oz. jar maraschino cherries
2 tbsp white all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup white all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup reserved cherry juice
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup reserved cherry juice
1 tsp almond extract
Approximately 1 1/2 cups+ confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray two 8x4-inch loaf pans with floured cooking spray or lightly grease and flour the pans; set aside. Recipe may be baked in one 9x5 pan, as 4 mini loaves, or as muffins. Adjust baking time accordingly.**

Remove cherries from jar and place on a cutting board.  Blot with paper towel to dry slightly, then roughly chop them.  Don’t discard the cherry juice, you’ll need it!
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour (prevents them from sinking during baking) and toss to coat evenly.  Set aside.  

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk together.

In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil, all the cherry juice from the jar except 1/4 cup to be reserved for the glaze, almond and vanilla extracts.  Whisk together.

Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Batter will be thick.  Do not over-mix.
Lightly fold in the chopped cherries.

Pour batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops lightly with a spatula.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until bread is domed, set, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow bread to cool in pans on top of a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing and allowing to finish cooling completely on rack. While bread cools, make the glaze.


In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup reserved cherry juice, almond extract, about 1 cup confectioners' sugar, and whisk to combine until smooth and satiny.  Continue to add sugar until desired consistency is reached. Glaze the bread just before serving.

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Tuesday 11 February 2014

Pizza Buns Recipe

So, about those pizza buns I've been showing off.

Aren't they gorgeous?  And SO good... soft, cheesy, and pizza-y.  An entire pan will disappear in minutes around here.  

I make them with dinner roll dough instead of pizza dough, so they're a touch sweet and incredibly soft.  

  These pizza buns come together easily.  I use a breadmaker to do most of the work.  If you don't have a breadmaker, you can use any basic dinner roll recipe.  And if you don't feel like making the dough from scratch, frozen dinner rolls from the grocery store would work too.  The sauce is a basic pizza sauce recipe, but again, feel free to use your own favourite recipe, or a store bought pizza sauce, or even leftover spaghetti sauce.  These buns are easy that way.

  I use equal parts mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese.  Or all mozzarella if I don't have cheddar.  Or monterey jack if that's what happens to be in the fridge.  Use whatever combination of cheeses you like.  So easy.

I bake them in stoneware, as I do most things that I put in the oven.  They bake evenly and come out of the pan easily.

I make these pizza buns most often to pack into the kids' lunches, but they're great any time of day.  Add a bowl of soup and you have a meal.  Or have them for breakfast.

Pizza Buns
I batch of breadmaker dinner rolls
Pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce of choice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded cheddar

Breadmaker Dinner Roll Dough
Add to breadmaker in order listed:
8 oz warm milk
3 tbsp butter
3 cups flour
3 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp breadmaker yeast (or 2 tsp active dry yeast)

Set to dough cycle.  When cycle is complete, move dough to lightly floured surface and knead for one minute.  Divide into 16 equal portions and shape into rolls.  Place into greased baking pan (I use a 9 x 13 stone which gives them plenty of room to rise) and allow to rise for approx. one hour or until doubled in size.  Spoon a tablespoon of pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce on each roll.  Cover rolls with shredded cheese and bake in 350° oven for 15-20 min or until cheese has melted and rolls are beginning to brown.

Homemade Pizza Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (8 oz) can tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves

In a medium size saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil and butter until transparent.  Add minced garlic and sauté gently for another minute.  Add tomato sauce and tomato paste, stirring to combine.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer slowly for an hour.  Allow to cool and remove bay leaves before using.
** I love garlic, and sometimes use more than 2 cloves.  Use however much, or little, garlic as you like.  

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Monday 10 February 2014

Weekend in Photos

It would seem that my camera has been on vacation, lounging around in its bag for almost three weeks.  With the exception of a few Instagram shares, I've been a photo-a-day slacker.  There are, after all, only so many photos one can take of snow.  And dirty vehicles that probably haven't been clean since October.

Our hockey schedule was light this weekend, so I was able to spend some quality time in the kitchen.  While the Olympics played out in the background, my beloved stones got a work out.

There was homemade pizza, chicken & broccoli stuffed buns, and a chia seed pudding experiment.  Pizza buns, which disappear in minutes after coming out of the oven.

Dogs underfoot, hoping I'll drop something.

Shopping and reading.  


And more snow, just because.

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