Monday, November 30, 2009

Rolling in the Kitchen

My grandma's rolling pin - ready for seventy more years of action

I was given the best gift ever this week. After visiting my grandmother in Winnipeg (she is 93 years old), I was flattered enough to inherit her rolling pin. This wooden pin has seen many pastries and baked goods in her kitchen over the years; I and my cousins being the lucky recipients of its creations. I am very happy to keep it turning on its axis as I roll my way into memory lane; recreating her signature favourites.

Here is a recipe she gave me when I first got married. I bake these every holiday season; handing out rations to my parents and brothers' families so, they too, can enjoy them Christmas morning.

Grandma Anderson's Cinnamon Buns

I usually roll these out and let rise overnight. By morning, they've doubled in size and are ready for the oven:

1 1/3 cup 2% Milk (I've used skim or whole milk on occasion)
1 egg
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3 3/4 cup best for bread flour
1 1/4 tsp. best for bread yeast (in jar)

Melted Butter
Brown Sugar

Measure ingredients in order into electric mixer using a dough hook (same one you'd use for cookie dough). When mixer has formed the dough into a ball and is less sticky looking, turn onto lightly floured surface (if dough is still too sticky while in mixer, add more flour and mix).

Roll with pin until you achieve uniform thickness throughout. Should be a large rectangle.

Here's where my kids love to help: brush with melted butter using pastry brush or back of spoon. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon (as desired). Roll into 'log' shape and pinch seam together to seal. Cut into 1 1/2" or 2" pieces.

Put on greased cookie sheet with cut side up. Cover with wax paper and let rise until double in size (if setting overnight, place tea towel on top of wax paper).

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. If desired, drizzle with icing: 3/4 cup icing sugar, 1 tbsp milk, 1/4 tsp vanilla.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Henry and Sadie's Spaghetti Bake

When two of my friends were expecting (Jocelyne and Krissy - xo), I whipped up a couple trays of this recipe. When their babies arrived, I wrapped the frozen entrees in a receiving blanket or crib sheet, tied a bow around it and, voila! Instant baby gift while taking care of Mom and family at the same time.

So if it weren't for the arrival of Henry and Sadie, who have grown not only in size but in our hearts, I would not be sharing this favourite with all of you now! Hmmm..perhaps I'll be wrapping a ribbon around one of these casseroles 25+ years from now for Henry and Sadie's baby?? They DO look pretty cute together, don't you think? ;-)

Henry and Sadie's Spaghetti Bake

2 lbs. mild Italian sausage, cooked then sliced into chunks
2 onions; chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced (I use those frozen garlic cubes)
1 tbsp dried basil
4 cups sliced mushrooms
2 - 28oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 tsp pepper
6 cups chopped fresh spinach
12 oz. whole wheat spaghetti noodles

2 tbsp butter
1/3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups milk
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

In large pot, add onion, garlic and basil; fry, stirring for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until liquid is evaporated. About five minutes. Stir in cooked sausage.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated - about 15 minutes. Add spinach.

Topping: Meanwhile, in saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking for 1 minute. Whisk in milk, stirring constantly until thickened (about 12-15 minutes). Add mozzarella, salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti until tender but firm. Drain and add to meat sauce. Toss to coat. Spread in 9x12 casserole dish). Pour topping over spaghetti mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake in 375 oven until bubbly and golden - about 50 minutes (or freeze before baking).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Karen Kelly's Chicken Pot Pie

So my friend, Karen, says she makes the BEST Chicken Pot Pie. I wasn't too quick to agree since, ahem, I believe it is I who make the best chicken pot pie. So I asked her to send me the recipe and I went to work in my kitchen, ready to call her bluff.
Well, not only is her recipe AWESOME but also easier to create. Good job, Karen! I'll never doubt you again! Well, I probably will but if it means getting more great recipes from you then so be it!

Karen's BEST Chicken Pot Pie

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
cut in chunks
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 9" unbaked pie shells

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper and celery seed. Gradually add in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the chicken mixture in bottom of pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over it. Cover with another pie crust and seal the edges. Cut away any excess pastry. Make small slits in the top to allow steam to escape while baking.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

food photography courtesy of murphelz on flickr

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holiday M&M Cookies

holiday cookies with Zac, the blue-eyed boy, being very patient in the background...

Is it too early to get festive? As I type this, I'm running back and forth from kitchen to computer in 10-minute intervals; answering the demanding call of my oven's timer. One batch was a casualty - the sad victim of someone's husband 'helping' by turning the timer off. Yet, he leaves the cookies inside unbeknownst to the baker. Who does this sort of thing?!? I choose to overcome and forge ahead. Hope you all enjoy the ooey-gooey goodness of this traditional favourite in the Green household.

Holiday M&M Cookies

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white sugar

Cream together then add:

3 beaten eggs
4 1/2 cups Quaker Minute Oats
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
2 bags Christmas Coloured M&Ms (220 gram bag)

Drop on cookie sheet then bake at 350 for ten minutes. Keep husband away from kitchen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Denise before she could cook

Ode To Denise

Did I ever mention how awesome my sister-in-law is with spatula in hand? Denise wasn't always the gourmet chef we see before us today. She's come a long way since her newlywed days of running out of the house crying over her dry roast beef dinners and coffee gravy (okay, I was her partner in crime with the coffee gravy).

So this page is a tribute to Denise. For all the meals she fed me and my brothers when we were hungry, we applaud you. There is never a day or night (no matter the hour) she won't whip out her frying pan and rustle up some grub for friends, neighbours or in-laws. Her culinary creations have blossomed and flourished and we all reap the benefits of her talents. I won't go into detail about how she beat me at the fair this year with her pickled beans, nor will I rub it into my mother about Denise's blue ribbon Salsa (squeezing Ma Lynne into a cool, second place).

Here is one of my fave's. Anything that cooks while I'm at work will always hit the top of my list. Great for a crispy, cold day! Cheers to Denise - we love you!

Harvest Corn Chowder with Bacon & Cheddar
photo courtesy of Mark and Andrea Busse

1 lb bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium potatoes , diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 large can cream corn
4 cups frozen corn kernels
3 ½ cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 can (13oz) evaporated milk
1 cup grated cheddar

1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, onions and celery for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. With slotted spoon, transfer mixture to slow cooker.

2. Add potatoes, corn, stock, bay leaf, salt and pepper to slow cooker; stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours, until vegetables are tender and soup is bubbling. Remove bay leaf and discard.

3. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir to make smooth paste. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly to combine. Bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly until thickened. Remove form heat and stir in cheese until completely melted. Gradually stir mixture into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 20 minutes. Serve garnished with additional cheddar and chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Meatball Sub Casserole

photo courtesy of barefootkitchen on flickr

Meatballs Good. That's all I have to say.

1/3 cup minced onion
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 TB. grated
Parmesan cheese
1 pound ground beef
2 mild italian sausages, case removed
1 loaf Italian bread,
cut into 1 inch cubes
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup Mayo
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded mozzrella
3 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix together onions, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, ground beef and sausage. Roll into 1" balls and place in baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until beef is no longer pink in the middle

Arrange the bread cubes in single layer in 9x13 baking dish. Mix together the cream cheese, mayo, oregano and pepper until smooth. Spread this mixture over each bread cube. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

In large bowl, mix together sauce, water and garlic. Gently stir in meatballs. Pour over the bread and cheese mixture in pan. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake 30 minutes or until heated through. :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Salmon Stuffed with Feta and Spinach

Check out my first attempt at food photography - not too bad thanks to Jeremy's direction! This fish is so good lookin', it would have no problem adorning any holiday table.

Also, be sure to check out the new posting in 'A la Mode' on today's page. :)

Salmon Stuffed with Feta and Spinach

1 (2-pound) center-cut boneless, skinless wild salmon fillet
1 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup packed baby spinach
Extra virgin olive oil

Melted Butter; Chopped Fresh Dill

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Butterfly salmon fillet through the center so that it lays open flat in one large piece like a book. Turn salmon over so gray underside is facing up and arrange on a clean work surface.

Season salmon with salt and pepper then top fillet with half the feta cheese. Arrange spinach on the top. Then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of spinach. Starting from one of the long sides, gently roll up salmon and tie snugly with cooking twine at 1-inch intervals.

Gently transfer salmon to a greased baking sheet. Drizzle melted butter over the top and sides of fillet. Sprinkle with fresh dill on top. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Set aside to let rest for 5 minutes then carefully transfer to a serving platter, remove and discard twine and serve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blue Avacado, Ray Hickey Jr., Paschandale, Rinsethealgorithm 2009

Jeremy and I planned a music event for Port Perry's Town Hall last spring. Along with local performers including himself, Jeremy was able to bring in some amazing musicians from the Toronto area. We, as Port Perrians (Port Perriers? Port Perry-ites?), wanted to do a good job welcoming them to our neck of the woods. I deliberated over what to feed these guys. After all, aren't most musicians starving?? Talk about pressure!

Not only did our good friends Karyn and Jim Frain help with set-up, lighting, sound and clean-up, but Karyn also gave me this great recipe (served up in chafing dishes also courtesy of Karyn). It complimented the menu nicely and was the perfect answer for something quick, easy and able to serve to a crowd. Thanks again, Karyn and Jim!

Karen's Chicken and Parsley

4 boneless chicken breasts

(cut in 1" cubes) and toss with:
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I went easy on this)

2 bunches curly parsley
4 T. olive oil
6 T. pine nuts - toasted
4 T lemon juice.

Saute chicken in olive oil - med high heat approx. 10 min or until
done. Add parsley until wilted and then lemon juice. Add pine nuts and toss together.

food photography courtesy of crimzonblue on flickr

Sam's Marinated Pasta

photo courtesy of lccavender on flickr

Every Wednesday, my kids take turns cooking dinner for the family. It's so interesting to see what they choose to make and I love to observe them strutting around the kitchen with pride and confidence. It's more entertaining than any cooking show I'd find on the Food Network, plus I don't have to make dinner!

Zac seems to always make some sort of fish (we had Tilapia last night), Adam plays it safe with his favourites (see Macaroni and Cheese in this blog!) and Samantha seems to always surprise us with something new and interesting. She made this a few weeks ago and it is now my favourite pasta dish. I guarantee it won't disappoint!

Sam's Marinated Pasta

1 package whole wheat linguini noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
Juice from 1 lime or lemon
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoons black pepper

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until done. Drain, reserving 2 cups of water.

Bring the 2 cups reserved pasta water to a boil. Stir in olive oil, butter, 1/2 the lemon juice and the garlic. Season with 1 tablespoon basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Boil 1 minute.

In a large bowl, combine pasta with sauce. Toss with remaining lemon juice and basil. Cover, and refrigerate 5 hours or overnight.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese

photo courtesy of vavroom on flickr

This is a fantastic recipe the entire family loves. My friend Laura had the great idea to replace Velveeta with the aged cheddar (found in a red container in the dairy section). It is equally fabulous and gets you away from the the processed variety. Laura's insight doesn't end at food! Check out her blog at Only here will you contemplate the meaning of vomit (okay, not a great topic to pair with food, but I'm going with it...)

Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese

2 1/2 cups macaroni (I use whole wheat)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 lb. processed cheese, cubed (Velveeta - 250g) or Laura's AGED cheddar
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/3 cups cottage cheese
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (optional)

Cook and drain macaroni and place in a greased casserole dish.
Melt butter over medium heat; stir in flour; mix well.
Add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.
Add salt, sugar and Velveeta. Mix well.
Mix sour cream and cottage cheese into sauce.
Pour over macaroni. Mix well.
Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and crumbs over top.
May be frozen at this point. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In the Driver's Seat

It's amazing to me that life's most insignificant moments (or so it seems at the time) end up defining us the most. I share one of these moments in my life with you guys. I hope it inspires you to conjure up your own from the forgotten corners of your mind. And if you're willing to share ~ even better. xo

In The Driver's Seat

It was the summer of '83 the first time I drove my Dad's car. We had pulled into the arena's vacant parking lot where my brother's gymnastics practice had been held. As he exited the car to fetch my brother, he instructed me to wait. I was left with the keys to entertain myself with the radio.

As I climbed from the backseat to the front in order to control the song selection (a rare privilege for the youngest of four kids), I slid comfortably into my Dad's spot. As I rapidly twisted the tuning knob that skipped over static and jumbled voices, my ears and fingers searched over the band waves for a likable selection.

Somewhere out in the city, a DJ randomly thumbs through his archives and pauses on an album cover featuring four band members doing their business on a cement piling in England. Sliding out the vinyl from its cardboard cover, his hands carry it to a turn table. He carefully places the needle in the groove that sends The Who's 'Baba O'Riley' through the receivers in his broadcast area. Meanwhile, my Dad's car keys still dangle from the ignition of his 88 Oldsmobile and my tuning fingers find what they were looking for.

(I don't need to fight...)

Perhaps it was the pure energy of Roger Daltry's voice that inspired me. Or perhaps Pete Townsend's power chords. Or maybe it was because I sensed I was on the verge of my own 'Teenage Wasteland'. But whatever it was, it influenced me to do something I never thought to do before.

( prove I'm right)

Fumbling down the side of the driver's seat, I find a network of switches and I blindly work automatic buttons that inch me closer to the dashboard. The switches pull me as far forward as General Motors would allow. Gripping the leather steering wheel with one hand, I turn the key with my other. One click further towards the dashboard brings the engine to life.

As I take my left foot off the brake, the car crawls forward. It's hard to believe I am responsible for making it move. So many times I had traveled by car, but this time it was me at the helm, in control. I press hard on the gas with my right foot and the car powerfully jumps forward. Panicking, my left foot finds the brakes as hard as my right foot had come down on the gas. Everything lurches forward then slams back; from loose change to scattered cassette tapes. And me. My heart races and I let out a weighted breath. I sit still for a moment, there in the late night, my arms hugging the steering wheel.

My eyes fix on the key ring rattling against the steering column. My hand hovers above the swaying set, my intention to stop its movement. But instead, I find myself continue just to the right of them. I reach for the volume and turn the chrome knob clockwise.

Music drowns out the hum of the engine and Keith Moon's drums explode within the car's small space. It swells my head and I am nowhere else but inside the song; the fusion of instruments pumping my adrenaline and I haven't even moved from my seat. With two hands on the wheel and my eyes transfixed on the windshield, I press the gas once more, this time with a steadier foot as the night sky opens itself before me.

(Sally, take my hand. We'll travel south cross land.)

My right foot gets real comfortable as it presses the pedal closer to the floor boards; the speedometer responding to its demand. My hands cross-cut over one another around the wheel while tires squeal over the asphalt. Only the stars above are witness to my antics. Them, a couple of lamp posts and the members of The Who.

It was a defining moment to move that car on my own for the first time. Without sitting on my Dad's knee while he reached the pedals for me. I didn't go far. Just a few donuts over the faded white paint marking the vacant spots that would house parked cars 12 hours from now. The exact number of my age at the time.

In that moment, I felt the world was laid out before me across that windshield, urging me to fill its space with whatever I wanted. Everything felt real and possible. I was excited for me. I remember feeling thrilled for my life. I was going to do great things and I was in control to make all those things happen.

(...before we get much older...)

When the song ended, I rolled the car back into its original location. I put the gear shift back in park, just where my Dad had left me before he went into the building. As he walked out of the arena with my brother; a gym bag slung over his shoulder, I was soon shifted to my usual spot in the backseat where all little sisters go. To them, no momentous occasion had taken place.

As we headed home, I hummed the tune that had radiated from the album now resting on a shelf in a DJ booth somewhere in the city. To my father and brother, nothing had changed.

But for me, everything had.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Roasted Vegetable Salad

photo courtesy of vrog in bristol

I figure everyone may need a vegetable fix after Hallowe'en. This grilled salad is so tasty and it calls for little oil so very low in fat! It's very similar to Spanky's Couscous Salad but without the couscous (if you're looking to cut out carbs). Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Red, Yellow, Orange Peppers; cut into chunks
Mushrooms; sliced
Onions; cut into chunks
Greek Seasoning
Vegetable Seasoning
Olive oil
Feta Cheese
Sliced Kalamata Olives
Sundried Tomatoes; stored in oil

Toss peppers, mushrooms and onions with generous sprinkling of both seasonings and drizzled olive oil. Toss to coat

Place all veggies in grilling basket on the BBQ until cooked as you like. (I like mine tender-crisp and a little charred).

Place roasted veggies in large bowl and toss with remaining ingredients while still warm.

More to Chew On...

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