Monday, December 27, 2010

Clean House...Fresh Start.

I am the world's worst house keeper.

Seriously. I am not able to have surprise guests over - it makes me anxious. My house, on the best of days, looks like the aftermath of that twister that took Dorothy to Oz, minus the shriveled up witch's feet and singing munchkins.

However, I have this habit at the end of December. While others are relaxing and enjoying the leftovers, I am in cleaning mode.

And I mean crazy cleaning mode.

Blame it on my mother, (just like everything else, as she would say...ha) but she always stressed the importance of starting anything new with a clean room, clean closet, clean everything and as an adult this has extended to my entire house.

Ah, many Labour Day weekends were spent sweating in the depths of my closet, rooting around for lost socks and toys that I had forgotten about or searching the expanse of space under the bed vacuuming dust bunnies the size of my head.

Well, since we're heading into a new year, with new goals and new outlooks, I guess it only fitting to have a tidy house.

So, here's to being a better house keeper in be continued.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Tunes

I am SO tired of Christmas music.

I should qualify that by saying I hate a lot of Christmas music - I wish they'd play better stuff on the radio.  Since the powers that be at CHFI will not listen to me, I made my own Christmas mix.  Enjoy!

Old Toy Trains – Nana Mouskouri
I’ll be home with bells on – Kenny & Dolly
Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
Christmas Don’t be Late – The Chipmunks
Happy Christmas/War is Over – John Lennon
The 12 Days of Christmas – Bob & Doug MacKenzie
Ho Ho Fucking Ho – Kevin Bloody Wilson
Oh Holy Night – Josh Groban
I’ll be home for Christmas – Rascal Flatts
You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch – Boris Karloff
Christmas Time is Here – Charlie Brown (Vince Guaraldi Trio)
Do they know it’s Christmas – Band Aid
Santa Claus is Coming to Town:  Bruce Springsteen
Little Drummer Boy – David Bowie & Bing Crosby
Silver & Gold – Burl Ives
River – Joni Mitchell
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings – Barenaked Ladies
Wintersong – Sarah McLaughlin
Christmas Lights – Coldplay
Christmastime – Smashing Pumpkins
Last Christmas - Wham
Christmas Day - Dido
Oi to the World – The Vandals
Christmas at the Zoo – The Flaming Lips
I’ll be home for Christmas – Sheryl Crow
Walk the Sleigh – Robbie Williams
I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – Shirley Temple
Christmas , Baby Please Come Home – U2
Please Come Home for Christmas – The Eagles

Monday, December 13, 2010

Top 10 of Christmas

I ADORE Christmas shows.

...this goes back to the whole, nostalgic sap thing.  So here is my list of favourite Christmas shows/movies for kids and grown ups too...drop me a line if I've missed a good one!  I'm always looking to expand my regular repertoire!

My Top 10 Christmas Shows/Movies for Kids.

10.  Shrek the Halls
9.  A Garfield Christmas -
8.  Frosty the Snowman - 1969
7.  A Chipmunk Christmas
6.  Muppets Christmas Carol/Muppet Family Christmas - 1992
5.  The Polar Express - 2004
4.  A Charlie Brown Christmas - 1965
3.  Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer - 1964
2.  Santa Claus: The Movie
1.  The Grinch who Stole Christmas - 1966

My Top 10 Christmas Shows/Movies for Adults
10.  Fred Claus
9.  Love, Actually
8.  The Santa Claus
7.  Monty Python's Life of Brian (Hey!  It starts in a manger!)
6.  Elf
5.  South Park:  Christmas in South Park/Woodland Critter Christmas
4.  The Nightmare Before Christmas
3.  Die Hard
2.  National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
1.  Bad Santa

So, pop some pop corn...sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar for a sweet treat, settle in with a nice cup of coca and enjoy the best this season has to offer! xo

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas time is here....

...time to spend some money.

Lots of it.

And I am as guilty as everyone else.

As I sit here wrapping this mound of presents purchased for my hubby for our very first "married" Christmas, I can't help but think - why?  Why do we feel the need to spend, spend, spend every year?

My mum and I were discussing the whole Christmas gift thing yesterday in the car.  We have, as a family, decided to pare down to a stocking and one gift each.  My mum said it reminded her of the year we went out west to visit my dad's family in Edmonton.

I was around 7, my sister 4 when my parents flew us all out to be with my dad's family for Christmas.  At the time, my mother was a secretary making just over minimum wage, and my dad worked at a gas bar.  As I'm sure you can imagine, things were tight - so tight in fact that by the time all was said and done, there was less than $20 each for Christmas gifts for my sister and I, and my mum and dad went without.

But you know what - I remember that Christmas clear as day, because that was the I got my very own box of 60 Laurentian pencil crayons.

It still is, to this day, one of the best gifts I ever received.  I used those pencils down to nubs.  I was the only kid at school who had them and when I sat there, watching my cousins opening gift after gift after gift, I took each colour out of the box and read its name to my mum.  I didn't know copper was a pencil crayon!!

She said it was the most awful Christmas ever, but to me, it was one of the best.

So, the next time you're standing in line with a shopping cart full of stuff that you know your family won't remember in a few days, let alone a few years, remember, spending won't make it a memorable Christmas, but giving from the heart will.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Let them eat cake!

Or not.

I love carbs in any form I can get them.

I would think by the size of my waist line, that is probably pretty obvious.

Recently, my brother-in-law discovered that he cannot have gluten...that holy binding agent that makes so many of the foods we love stick together.

No bread.
No pasta.
No sweets.
No beer.

An all out death sentence for that part of our brain that craves comfort foods, and that other part of our brain that craves a cold brew on a hot summer day.

Now obviously there are ways around all of this, and with a major lifestyle change, his family fully on board, they have learned to adapt.

Bread is now made with different types of flour.  Rice pasta replaces traditional wheat pasta...etc. etc.

But I have to say, for me, Christmas baking has been taken to a whole new level because I think everyone should be able to indulge in homemade holiday sweets, even those living gluten free.

But for those of us who don't live gluten free (or in my case, in gluten overload!), knowing where to start was a challenge.  Needless to say, with a lot of googling and visits to, I think I've done a pretty good job navigating this new world.

I can honestly say, I've never read so many labels in my life!  I have researched every ingredient before carefully re-reading it's ingredients list one more time just to make sure that the dreaded "g" word, and all of it's counterparts (like evil malted barley!) are absent.

And, after a whole lot of research, I have adapted one of my family's favourite recipes to be gluten free!  You can make it the good old fashioned way too, just use regular ingredients.

I hope these join your family's favourite holiday recipes - it's quick and easy and makes LOTS!!

"Keith's Peanut Butter Krispie Bars" 
(so named for my Uncle Keith - these were his favourites as a kid!)
*NO BAKE - 10 Minutes - Makes TONNES!!

1 cup of sugar- white or brown which will give a more maple flavor - both are delish!
1 cup of light corn syrup  (corn syrup is gluten free, but be sure to check the label)
1 cup GF peanut butter - I used PC Blue Menu "Just Peanuts" Crunchy peanut butter
6 cups **Crispy Brown Rice Cereal you can find in the organics aisle in the grocery store
PLEASE NOTE: Rice Krispies cereal is NOT gluten free!

Bring to a bubble 1 cup each of sugar and corn syrup.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup peanut butter.  Then add 6 cups of rice cereal and mix thoroughly.  Either press into a greased 9"x13" pan OR let mixture cool in a greased pan until cool enough to handle and roll into 1" balls.  Let cool completely!!

Melt 1 cup (or 1/2 cup each of white & dark) chocolate chips, pour into a piping bag or ziplock baggy and snip end.  Drizzle on top of bars or balls.  To avoid cracking the chocolate while cutting bars, warm the knife in hot water and dry.

Photos to follow!

Friday, December 10, 2010

In Memory

I am nostalgic.

Like, watching the same holiday, made for t.v. movies year after year and loving them only more, reminiscing with friends about the same shinanagins we reminisced about in high school and, well, pretty much any other ridiculousness you can imagine.

Basically, I'm a sap and love to let any situation overwhelm me with memories, good or bad, that have helped shape who I am.

Dorky, yes. But I guess that's me, take it or leave it.

Tonight while I was sorting through some stuff on our dresser, I came across the little handout that we received at a friend's funeral. His picture featuring the wide, toothy grin I remember so well and it even captured the sparkle in his eyes that always made it look like he was smiling.

I couldn't help but join him.

I took a moment to sit and reflect.

His name was Eric. He was my little sister's best friend in the entire world. He suffered a very tragic end to a life that never seemed to be under his control. He and my sister were like two little lost souls who, instead of finding the rest of the world, found each other.

He was like a member of my family. My parent's loved that kid like he was their own - he was referred to by everyone as my "brotha from another motha" which always made me laugh. He was such a neat freak, it was hilarious. He loved great big old man cars and could always be found making his latest find shiny and clean. He was a kind, loving person who laughed from his soul and hugged like no one I've ever met.

We were all devastated when we heard he was gone. And even now, I'm surprised at how often I see a big, land yacht of a car driving down the road and wonder if it's him.

Every time we pass the spot where he lost control of his car, I can't help but mouth the words, "you little shit!" as if saying them out loud would change what happened.

It's been nearly 5 months since the accident, and I know that time may dull the pain, but it will never really be gone. After all, the pain that we carry with us helps make us stronger.

As I sit here, on the edge of the holiday season, pining for all those memories of yesteryear, I know that this Christmas will be a little bit different. I'll hug my loved ones a little big tighter, tell them I love them more often and take in the sights, sounds and smells that help make the holiday season so special. You never know when it will all be over.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

'Tis the Season...

I've been absent for...months.

Not because I want to, but because I haven't really been in the mood to write.  It seems that this year that my annual case of the Christmas BLAH'S has struck early and with a vengeance rivaling that of Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman in the first Die Hard (now that's a Christmas movie!).  This has ultimately made me into some sort of fake smiling, tree decorating, carol singing Grinch.

Don't get me wrong.  I love Christmas.  Christmas trees, baking, giving presents ( MY FAVOURITE!!) and big roast beast dinners surrounded by family and friends.  Sounds perfect, so I'm sure you're asking yourself the question, what the hell did Christmas ever do to you, you big, whiny, cynical Scrooge?!

Christmas, as seen through the eyes of a child is the most magical time of an adult, it has become a gong show of trying to arrange schedules so that we can be here, or there, or wherever, uncomfortable Christmas dinners with an extended family who has decided, once again, that the Knutson's are on the outs and quite frankly, I'm sick of it all.

"The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason. It could be that his head wasn't screwed on quite right. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. But I think that the most likely reason of all May have been that his heart was two sizes too small." 

So, on that note, Bah-Freaking-Humbug.

And now that I have that rant out of my system, it will be a very happy/merry festivus.

Ho Ho Fucking Ho.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Curiosity Killed the Cat

I like dogs.  I have never really been a cat person (I suspect my parent's utter hatred for the creatures has something to do with it...)

My husband, on the other hand, loves them all, even the ones with bad attitudes.

We have wanted to get a pet for a while, but because we live in an apartment and our lives are so hectic, getting a dog just seemed unfair to all involved (and I'm sure my landlord is grateful).  My husband has been on me for years to get a cat, but I was hesitant.  They scratch.  They shed.  They can be or make your house smelly.  They can be very aloof and not affectionate.  They scratch.  Did I mention they scratch?  Did I also mention that we have a brand new couch?  Well, there you go.

Cat Claws + New Couch = One Dead Cat.

Enough said.

However, I have been warming up to the idea.  I barely see my husband anymore.  I usually get a day on the weekend, and a night (or two if I'm lucky) during the week.  Between his hours at work and school and my schedule, he's almost a stranger. (Great way to start a marriage though! Ha!)  I'm lonely.  He's lonely.  We're in that nesting stage...not ready for a baby what with the lack of an actual home (and secured employment!) but ready for something more.

So, last weekend while visiting his family in Brockville, Shane and I bought a kitten.

She is an almost 4 month old, chocolate point Siamese with icy blue eyes named Sookie (yes, after the character in True Blood - we wanted something Asian sounding...Sookie stuck.)  Shane likes to walk into the house calling her name like Bill does.  It's hilarious.

And so far, I think she might be the most lovely cat ever.

She took her first car ride.  All four and a half hours of it in Thanksgiving traffic while perched on my shoulder.
She enjoys watching for our car out the window on her "Stripper Pole".
She hopped in the shower one morning, unexpectedly, and after leaving and meowing in protest, she hopped back in.
She likes to sit on my chest while I type on my computer.
She likes the way my cell phone vibrates when you type on it, and has attempted to communicate with Shane on several occasions.
She sometimes thinks she's a turban and sleeps on our heads, but for the most part she sleeps between us.
She purrs a lot, and likes to meow at me while I cook.  It's like she's telling me about her day.
So far, she has killed her fishing rod toy...and is quite sad about it.
When we got her, she smelled like a bounce sheet.  I can't figure out why or how, but she still does now.  It's fantastic.
Still waiting for her to bust into "We are Siamese if you Please!"

As far as cats go, she's pretty amazing.  It's been nice having a furry little thing to come home to at night, and to keep me company.

Anyway, welcome to the family, Sookie.  You're a little weird.  You'll fit in great!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Curried Autumn Soup

I have the head cold from hell.

I feel like total crap, and because of that, I decided to make some spicy, homemade soup to help kick this cold's ass.


Curried Autumn Soup

1 medium size butternut squash
1 medium size acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 large cooking onion diced
1 clove of garlic
1-3 tablespoons of curry powder (depending on how spicy you want it)
2 large carrots sliced
1 large sweet potato sliced
1 or 2 tetra packs of vegetable broth
S & P to taste

First, cut the squashes in half, remove the seeds and roast in the oven with a little bit of butter and brown sugar (optional).  When they are cooked, remove from skin.  Set aside.

In a large pot (Dutch oven), melt the butter.  Toss in the diced onions and minced clove of garlic.  Sweat.  Add in the curry powder (start with less, you can always add more, and don't forget, heating the spices will release the flavors more and more.)

Dump in the whole tetra pack of veggie broth.  Bring to a boil.  Add the sweet potato & carrots, lower the heat and simmer until cooked.  Then, add the roasted squash.  Simmer for 10 more minutes.  Take a masher and smoosh the veggies together just to make it easier on your magic bullet, food processor or blender.  Then, blend until smooth.

I found that when having left overs, it was best to add a bit more veggie broth just to thin it out.  This is a really thick soup!

Photos from here and here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Turkey!

I hate getting up early on the weekend...especially for the purpose of driving to Brockvegas.

It's not that I dislike Brockville, or the people there, but the act of driving itself is frightening!  Have you ever driven to Eastern Ontario??  Traffic, crazy drivers and Mack trucks, oh my!

Anyway, we're going to the hubby's family's Thanksgiving this year.  In the last two days, I've whipped up a batch of Ken's Decadent Brownies and two Maple Pecan Apple pies.

They're quick, they're easy and super delicious!  Hope you enjoy this easy Thanksgiving recipe!

Maple Pecan Apple Pie  

2 frozen pie crusts
5-10 apples, peeled, sliced thinly (enough to over fill one of the pie shells.)
Small bag of crushed pecans
2 teaspoons of butter
2 heaping tablespoons of real maple syrup
2 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup of brown sugar
egg or milk to wash over the top of the pastry.

Poke holes in the bottom of a pie shell.  Peel, and slice the apples, use the pie shell to gauge how many to use.  Melt the butter in a microwave with the maple syrup.  Add the pecans, cinnamon, brown sugar.  Mix well.  Dump in and coat the apples.  Dump the apples back into the bottom of the pie shell you poked.  Carefully remove the other pie shell from the foil liner.  Roll it out with a rolling pin, and use it to cover the top of the pie. Smoosh the sides with your fingers and cut off the excess with a knife.  Use the egg or milk with a pastry brush to brush the top.  Using a knife, put a few vents in the top.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Great God Debate

I hate church.

There.  I said it.

Though I guess it's not so much the building itself that I hate, it's more all of the religious dogma the physical building stands for that I find so...awful.

Today, I watched my best friend's son be baptized.  It is the first time, in my memory, that I have been inside a Catholic church.  And while I hope that this event holds lots of lovely memories for her family, I find myself thinking about church and religion and why I find them fascinating and irritating at the same time.

I was baptized.  In fact, many of my earliest memories occur inside the tiny United church in Seagrave, Ontario.  The same church where my grandparents had raised their five children, where my mother was the Sunday school teacher and where my sister and I were sheep or angels or shepherds every year in the nativity play.  I can still remember the distinctive, musty smell of the church basement where we did our lessons, the sound of the organ as Fern-nio played the hymns and the creaks and clicks of the 100 year old wooden floor beneath my shiny black church shoes.  I also remember how excited my sister and I were to wear our new bonnet and gloves on Easter Sunday and have our picture taken by the sign on the front lawn, each year a little taller than the year before.

Those were the good old days when going to church meant seeing your friends, eating goodies and getting to colour or cut and paste while the minister talked with the grown-ups up stairs.  There was no question as to whether or not there was a god.  And as far fetched as it seemed, we believed that a man named Noah really did build an arc and save two of every animal, and that we all came from one very virtuous man, and one rebellious woman who got us all kicked out of the garden of Eden.  Life was good.

But, the day came, as I'm sure it has for many others before me, when I started to question whether there was a god, and if there was, why on Earth would such an all loving, all knowing being create such hatred and sadness in the world?

The year that my Uncle died, I remember speaking with a minister who told me that god hated gay people and that I would never see my uncle again, because he would be in hell.

I was 12.

After that, I got very angry.  If god hated people for something so insignificant as who they chose to love, then I was through with god.  I remember getting really, really angry with my parents for baptizing me at all.  How dare they commit my life to a god that I don't believe in.  It's my life, don't I have the right to choose?  What if I wanted to be a Buddhist or a Hindu or a worshiper of the Fonz?  Wasn't it my right to choose?!

Since then, I have renounced my faith.  I'm not an atheist.  I call myself agnostic, but in reality, I just choose to be me.  I am open to all religions that treat ALL people with kindness and understanding.  If you want to praise a god (or many gods) to do that, you go ahead, but I'll pass, thank you very much.  I don't believe in one all powerful being sitting on a cloud screwing around with the human race like ants in an ant farm, but I do believe in the spiritual world.  And yes! There are amazing things in this world that I will never understand, and that's ok.  I believe that when someone dies, they're gone and I'll never see them again, and that's ok, because their spirit lives on through me and those who loved them in the memories we share, and in that spirit, they never really leave us at all.  I could go on and on, but I'm guessing you get the picture.  I believe that being good to one another is the only religion I need.

And if I'm wrong when it's my time to go, and I have to spend eternity with devils poking me with pitchforks, so be it, but I certainly hope that if there is one all knowing, all powerful god out there, he or she isn't as mean or spiteful as many religions would have us believe.  Life is all about compromise, and surely any god who created us would understand that.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Poetry in Motion...

I miss my Uncle Bob.

A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook from the Ellen Degeneres Show.  I don't usually watch the random stuff that people post, but for some reason "Important Message" and Ellen Degeneres seemed just too odd a combination to ignore.  So, I clicked on it.

I'm glad I did.

A clearly upset Ellen, voice cracking and tears floating in her eyes, pleads with the nation to do something about the crisis of teen bullying, especially against gay teens who seem, more and more often, to be taking their own lives to escape the torment.

I watched this video three times.

Once for myself.

Once for my Uncle Bob.

And once for his partner Greg.

I always knew my uncle was different.  When he came to school one day when I was in grade one to pick me up for a surprise lunch date, the secretary called my class on the intercom and asked me to describe him before she would release me (gotta love 1980's school security!).  I told her he was tall and skinny, his hair was always really neat, he wore fancy clothes and a long, fuzzy fur coat.  He always had lots of gold rings on and he ALWAYS smelled really good.

The secretary took one look at my uncle and poof!  Lunch date!  (And one of my fondest memories of grade one.)

My uncle and his partner Greg lived in Toronto, right near the old Maple Leaf Gardens.  We used to take the Go-Train to the city and Uncle Bob would pick us up at Union and we'd walk to his house, my tiny town eyes ever looking up and the enormous buildings towering above me.  I remember my parents explaining to me that Uncle Bob and Greg were roommates, and it never really occurred to me that they only had one bed.

We used to love going to the city to visit them.  Their lives seemed so glamorous.  My uncle drove a Miata.  He and Greg used to dress to the freaking nines!  They went to the theatre, the museum and concerts.  They did everything with a certain panache that only they could muster...just another thing I desperately miss today.

As an adult, I have become privy to the reality of my uncle's life.

My mum and her brother (Uncle Bob's twin)  have told me about the dark side of his life.  Fights where he would just curl up on the ground because he knew that fighting back would only make it worse.  Fights where one of my other Uncles or my mother would have to step in and protect him.    The fights where he was beaten within an inch of his life.  They've told me about what high school was like for him, about life for a closeted gay man living in small town Ontario during the 1970' breaks my heart.

After watching the Ellen video, it made me think of my Uncle Bob and Greg, and all of the hardships they had to endure all because they didn't fit into what "normalized society" deemed normal.  They were labelled as sexual deviants, perverts and treated as though they were criminals unworthy of basic human decency.

All of this happened during the 1980's.  Apparently, it's still happening now.  30 years later, and the methods have changed (enter facebook, twitter, myspace and the blogosphere) but the results are the same.  The bruises may not be visible, but they're still there.

It's no wonder gay teens are being driven to suicide.

I lost my Uncle Bob and Greg in 1993 to AIDS.  We watched them suffer through the illness, one drained to nothing by experimental drugs, the other with nothing, vowing not to let the drugs kill him faster.

I always miss my Uncle Bob, but today, perhaps more than most.  There are so many things I wish I could tell him - but perhaps the most important is how much I love him, and how grateful I am for the time we had.

I keep thinking about if my uncle and his partner had not made it through one of those dark times and how my life and the lives of every single person in my family would be different.  It's devastating.

As I sit here reflecting on how lucky I was to have two such amazing people in my life, I am overcome with sadness that we live in a world where so many are senselessly persecuted because they live or love differently than others.

I really hope that this age of intolerance and hatred is quickly drawing to a close.

On a closing note, my Uncle Brian told me, just before heading up for our first dance on our wedding night:

"Watching my brother Bob dance was like watching poetry in motion.  When you feel your dress sway or a gentle breath of air on your cheek, you'll know he's here with you."

I know he was there that night, guiding my clumsy feet.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I love fall.

I love the sights.  I love the smells.  I love the holidays.  I love the food.

The other night, my husband and I ended up coming home at the exact same time, each hoping the other had been there first and had started cooking dinner.  Fail!

We checked the cupboards.  Bare except for onions and sweet potatoes.
We checked the fridge.  Empty.
We checked the freezer.  Sausages.  Score.

I thought about it for a couple minutes...and presto!  We had dinner.

I saw this recipe on Cityline a few years ago, and it is seriously one of the easiest, most delicious recipes I have ever made.  It's savory and sweet and it's a great way to get your family eating more sweet potato.

Hope you enjoy!

Spicy Sausage and Sticky Onion Gravy

2 medium sized baked sweet potatoes
3 large spicy sausages of your choice
1 large thinly sliced onion
4 heads of trimmed broccoli
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Wrap sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until soft and tender.

In a cast iron skillet, pan fry sausages until they are a uniform golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes, turning them from time to time. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Using the same skillet, gently fry the thinly sliced onion adding a little butter, a splash of water and a tablespoon of maple syrup. When the onions are cooked to a golden brown, add the beef broth and simmer until reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water. Strain, add a little butter and season with salt and pepper.
Scoop the sweet potato from the skin and place in the centre of two warm serving plates. Place one-and-half sausages on top of the potato on each plate and add the broccoli. Spoon over the onion gravy. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

Recipe from here, photo from here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's all Greek to me...

I find traditional "Canadian/North American" food boring.

It's not that I will turn down a turkey dinner...or that I will snub mac and cheese or apple pie, it's just when I crave food, I crave something more exciting.  Maybe it's that I'm a self-loathing Canadian, or maybe it's just because long before I traveled the world, I dreamed about traveling it with my taste buds and did.

During my undergrad, I lived in Ottawa.  When you come from where I do, Ottawa is about as different as Tokyo.  There are people that are...gasp...NOT from Canada all over the place.  And the restaurants...well, sure, if you've been to Ottawa, you've probably seen what's on offer in the By-ward Market (Gotta love pubs and cafes!) but if you've ever REALLY been to Ottawa, then you'll know that Bank and Somerset's hole in the wall Chinese, Japanese, Sri Lanken and Indian cuisine is where it's at!  (Ceylonta!!!!  Oh how I miss you and your veggie string hoppers!)

But the other night, I was a whole different kind of nostalgic.  I was flooded with the memories of a really random night in 2006 in Korea, of sitting in a Greek restaurant in the heart of Seoul's Itaewan district with friends from Canada, the USA, Korea and Australia.  We ate souvlaki, pita and the most delicious, creamy, flaming feta cheese I've ever had.  It was one of those fabulous nights that you know you will never forget.  It was the best Greek food I've ever had.  And with all of those lovely memories floating in my head, I got sad.

I miss those random nights...I miss the drunken soju haze and I miss the people we used to share those crazy nights with.

In their honour, we ate Greek.  You can too.

Easy Greek Pita Dinner

  • Cut boneless pork chops into bite size cubes (1 per person)
  • Put the pieces into a ziploc bag with a couple of table spoons of Kraft Greek with Feta salad dressing.  Let it sit over night (or do it in the morning and let it sit all day)
  • Wrap Greek style pocketless pitas in foil and place on a very low heat in the oven (200)
  • Sear the pork until cooked in a skillet.  Remove & place in a bowl.
  • Spray the skillet with olive oil and stir fry peppers and onions in whatever was left by the pork.  Add pork right at the end.
  • When the pitas are warm, remove from oven.  
  • Spread pitas with Tzatziki sauce, add pepper, onion, pork mixture.  
  • Add cut up tomatoes,olives or feta.  We didn't have any, but I'm sure it would be delish!
  • Serve folded on a plate alone or with garlic roasted potatoes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Yesterday's Chili...

I always make way too much food for dinner.

I know that there are starving children in Africa, but seriously people, is there anything better than leftovers for lunch?!

Since there are only two of us and our giant crock pot is big enough to feed a family of 4, I always have left overs, especially on chili nights.  We love chili, or at least we love my watered down "Mexican" version of chili, but eating it for a week solid because, once again, Stephanie made too much is just not ok ( has happened one too many times...oops.).

So in order to keep my hubby happy, I have come up with some creative ways to reuse left over chili.  Enjoy.

Mexican Lasagna
Left over Mexican chili
Small flour Tortilla shells (or large ones, depending on the size of your dish - use whatever will fit best!)
Grated cheese (whatever kind you and your family like best)
Salsa - fresh or jarred whatever works for you.

Spray a round Corelle baking dish with olive oil spray. I think ours is 6 or 8" could easily feed a family of 4.
Layer it with the following:

Salsa & Cheese

Mix up the layers however you like, and keep going until there is <1" left in the dish.  Make sure the top layer is chili (If you use a tortilla, it will burn.  Learned that one the hard way.)  Sprinkle grated cheese on top.  Bake at 350 for around 45 minutes or until the cheese is fully melted (and crispy if you like it like that!).  Maybe more or less depending on your oven.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

This is great to make and freeze.  Take it out the night before you want to cook it, leave it on the counter and by 5pm the next day it's ready to pop in the oven.  Easy!

Grilled Chili Tortillas
This is only for chili that you have thickened - if it's watery, it will be VERY messy!!

Reheated chili
10" Tortillas
Sour cream

Wrap whatever ingredients you like into a 10" tortilla wrap.  Wrap it up tightly on both ends so that none of the deliciousness can escape.  Using a panini press, George Forman grill, BBQ, grill pan or frying pan and a plate, heat one side, then the other leaving grill marks.  Warning:  Although this is delish, it's also a bit messy.  Be warned!

Hot Chili Dip
Put chili into a large ramekin.  Grate cheese over top.  Heat in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes, or until chili is fully heated.  Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, chives or green onions.  Serve with nachos, pita crisps or toasty cracker things.