Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Favourite Spaghetti Sauce

I have fond childhood memories of this sauce simmering all afternoon in my mom's big red- orange Le Crueset cast iron pot.  

I'm not sure where this recipe "originally" came from, but it was handwritten by my mom into a brown-covered notebook that she has always had on her cookbook shelf.  I'm thinking that one day she needs to publish that notebook cause it's chock full of AMAZING recipes that she has gathered over the past 40 years. 

Lots of ingredients in this sauce, a few might even seem a bit questionable, like HP sauce??  Trust me, once it's all simmered down you'll agree that it's an AMAZING sauce.   This recipe makes a HUGE batch, at least 8 cups, so you will have enough for a big dinner and leftovers to pop in the freezer.

Try it, you'll like it!!...Sorry, I've been watching too much "Yo Gabba, Gabba" with my 3yr old:)

Spaghetti Sauce

1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 Large can tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomato sauce (213 ml)
1 can tomato paste (156 ml)
1 pkg. spaghetti sauce mix
1/4 tsp crushed chilies
1 tsp HP Sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in pot over medium heat.  Saute garlic, onion, green pepper until softened, add ground beef and cook until browned. 

Add rest of ingredients plus 2 cups of water and simmer until thickened, at least 1 hour.  Serve over hot spaghetti.

Recipe Websites I LOVE!!

Looking for low-fat/low-calorie but extremely tasty recipes?  Check out the links below!! 


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"The Benefit of the Dough"

Quick-rising, whole wheat and ground flax pizza dough.  We topped OUR pizza with turkey pepperoni, red pepper, parmesan and light mozzarella cheese

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp flax meal or ground flaxseed
1 envelope (8g or 2 1/4 tsp) Fleishmann's quick-rising yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup very warm water
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp liquid honey
Olive oil cooking spray
1 tbsp cornmeal

In a medium bowl, combine both flours, flax meal, yeast, and salt.  Mix well.

Measure warm water in measuring cup, then stir in olive oil and honey.  Pour mixture over dry ingredients and mix using a wooden spoon to form a ball.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead for 2 minutes.  Spray another medium bowl with olive oil spray and place dough inside.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, spray a 12-inch pizza pan with olive oil spray and dust with cornmeal.

When dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and, using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 12-inch circle.  Transfer dough to prepared pizza pan.  You can top it with your favorite toppings at this point and bake in a 425 degree F oven for about 15 min.  Or, prick crust in several places with a fork and bake untopped for 6 minutes.  Remove crust from oven, top with your favorite sauce and toppings, then slide pizza directly onto middle oven rack and bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes.

Makes 1 12-inch pizza crust

2 WeightWatchers Points per serving (1/8 crust)-calories: 122/total fat: 2.8 g/saturated fat: 0.3 g/protein: 4 g/carbohydrate: 21 g/fiber: 2.6 g/cholesterol: 0 mg/sodium: 148 mg

(Eat, Shrink & Be Merry: great-tasting food that won't go from your lips to your hips! / Janet & Greta Podleski, 2005. ISBN: 0968063136. pg. 181)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms

My new FAVE blog! Check out these amazing recipes!
Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms

And so my Journey Begins...again

I'm tired...I'm tired of being tired, of feeling weak, of not having energy.  I'm tired of not feeling like I'm in control.  Today is the beginning of a lifestyle change, today I made the decision that I CAN lose weight and I WILL gain control of my eating. 

As far back as I can remember I've had weight issues, funny thing is I was never medically considered "overweight" until I was in my 20s.  I grew up as a average-weight, physically fit, healthy child, yet when I looked in the mirror I felt fat.  I have a very distinct and hurtful memory of an incident in elementary school when a classmate commented on the size of my butt, funny thing is, this particular classmate weighed at least 10lbs more than me.  I realize now that she was just a bully and probably had even lower self-esteem than I did and "bullying" somehow made her feel better about herself. 

Throughout my life I've used food as comfort, I became an emotional eater, I ate when I was happy, sad, bored, it became a lifestyle.  That unhealthy lifestyle eventually caught up to me in my mid 20s, funny thing is I was over eating because I was happy at this point.  My husband and I met when we were 20, we fell in love and happiness and settling into a comfort zone ended up contributing to my weight gain..not to mention nights out drinking at the bar and dates out to fabulous restaurants:)

I always wished I could run, I have exercise-induced asthma and never enjoyed running in school, I struggled just to complete the "kilometer run"!  About 5 years ago I signed my husband and I up for a "Learn to Run" clinic in our neighbourhood, it was AMAZING, by using the Run/Walk method I learned to run, and it felt great!  I ended up completing a few races, 4km, 8km, and finally a 10km race and really began to enjoy fitness once again.  I joined a gym and started to exercise 3-4 times a week and lost about 10 lbs over the course of a year.  I was still not happy with my weight but I had proven to myself that I could succeed, I now had the courage to succeed, I was mentally prepared to succeed. 

I signed up for the WeightWatchers online program and over the next year lost 28 lbs!  It was the hardest thing I ever did, I exercised 4-5 times a week and had to completely change my lifestyle and my eating habits, luckily my husband was interested in becoming healthy as well so I had amazing support. 

It's now 4 years later, and 2 children later and it's time to gain back control of my life.  While pregnant I had to give up control of my body and as a mother I had to give up control of my schedule.  What I eat is one thing that I actually CAN control, no one else but me decides what goes in my mouth.  I signed up on WeightWatchers online this morning because I want to be strong, I want to have energy and I want to be happy & healthy.  And so my Journey Begins....

My First Guest Post! Check it out!

How I learned to play- Guest post from -Angela Orfei and Discovery Toys - Because art doesn't have to be boring...

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Ode to Ham

SMOKED WHOLE PICNIC HAM how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways...

I LOVE you sliced with a side of scalloped potatoes & peas
I LOVE you diced in a Potato & Ham casserole covered in cheese
I LOVE you simmered in a Split Pea Soup, "pass the biscuits please!"

All joking a busy mother of 2 young children I'm learning the benefits of roasting a whole picnic style ham.  Buying a whole ham is economical (watch for sales!) and is SO versatile.  The last time I baked a ham I managed to squeeze 4 meals out of it and then  ground up the last few slices with mayo & relish for sandwiches, something that my mom used to do. 

Here is one of my FAVE recipes for leftover ham:


Pure comfort food, so cheesy, rich and delicious!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 2.5 quart casserole dish, set aside.

4 tbsp butter
1.5 lbs ham cubed
1 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2.5 cups milk
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup sliced celery
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
6 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat, add onions, celery and green pepper and saute until slightly softened (about 5 min.), stir in flour and cook for 1 min.  Whisk in milk, salt, pepper and dry mustard and stir until thickened.  Remove from heat and add Worcestershire and cheese, stir until cheese is melted.  Partially cover potatoes, add 1tbsp of water and cook in microwave for about 10 min. Drain potatoes and add to cheese sauce, along with ham.  Spread into buttered casserole dish.  Bake uncovered for 30 min.  Serves 4

(Recipe courtesy of my mom)


Why I LOVE Pampered Chef!!

I recently hostessed a Pampered Chef Cooking party and fell in LOVE with their products.  I just have to gush about a few of the products that I have tried out so far.


Why do I LOVE this baker?? 

LOVE the colour, it comes in a fabulous cranberry colour that almost matches my Cinnabar Fiestaware perfectly!  I'll definately have to buy a few more stoneware items just because of that fact, I definately DO like my kitchenware to coordinate:)

LOVE the ease of cleanup!  It came with a plastic scraper to remove all the cooked on bits and the rest washed off beautifully using just hot water.  

LOVE the cooking results!  It produced the juiciest, most perfectly browned roasted chicken that I've ever had, in only 1 1/2 hours!  I used it to make the Smothered Chicken with Garlic, check out the recipe & pic!


Why do I LOVE this garlic press??

LOVE the fact that you don't need to peel your garlic cloves!  Stick in an entire unpeeled clove and this thing presses out every last morsel of fresh garlic and leaves the skin behind!  Plus it comes with a cleaning tool to scrape off the pressed garlic and punch out any left behind in the little holes of the press.  By far the BEST garlic press that I have ever used!

Pictures courtesy of

Chicken & Broccoli Ring

This recipe is so versatile, you could substitute ham & swiss or you could make it vegetarian by omitting the meat altogether!

2 packages (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls (I used multigrain)
2 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used light Old Cheddar)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tbsp slivered almonds

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Unroll crescent rolls; separate into 16 triangles.  Arrange triangles, slightly overlapping, in a circle on Large Round Stone (Large greased pizza pan) with wide ends 3 inches from edge of baking stone (points will extend off the edge of the baking stone).  Roll wide ends of dough toward center to create a 3-inch opening.

2.  In bowl, combine chicken, broccoli, cheese, bell pepper, mayonnaise, dill, minced garlic and salt; mix well. 

3.  Scoop filling evenly over dough in a continuous circle.  Bring points of triangles up over filling and tuck under dough at center to form a ring.  (Filling will show.)  Lightly brush dough with egg white; sprinkle with almonds.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until deep golden brown. 

Makes 8 servings.
(Recipe adapted from "The Pampered Chef : stoneware inspirations" copyright 2005)

Smothered Chicken with Garlic

If you have never roasted a whole chicken before, you are definately missing out!  It is SO easy, SO much tastier, juicier and SO much cheaper (about half the price!) than buying a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.

The best part about cooking a whole chicken is you can have the chicken legs (thighs & drumsticks) and wings for dinner on the first night and then use the breast meat for the Chicken & Broccoli Ring for dinner #2. 

3 tbsp fresh rosemary or 1 tbsp dried rosemary, divided

1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 whole chicken (about 4 lb/1.8 kg)
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 tbsp olive oil
2 heads garlic, peeled (about 40 cloves)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly spray Deep Covered Baker with oil.  Combine half of the rosemary with paprika, salt and black pepper in small bowl; set aside.  Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken cavity.  Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry with paper towels.  Trim excess fat, if necessary.  Place chicken quarters and remaining rosemary inside cavity of chicken.  Tie ends of legs together with cotton string.  Lift wing tips up toward neck, then tuck under back of chicken.  Place chicken breast side up into baker.

2. Brush outside of chicken with oil; coat completely with seasoning mixture.  Arrange garlic around chicken.  Bake, covered 60 minutes.  Carefully remove lid and continue roasting 25-35 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 180 degrees F in thickest part of thigh and juices run clear.  Remove chicken from baker; let stand 10 minutes before carving.  Remove garlic from drippings; serve with chicken.  Yield: 4-6 servings

(copyright The Pampered Chef, 2008)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Boss Gibson and History of Marysville, NB

I'm a huge History buff and since moving to Fredericton have been so intrigued by the history of Marysville.  What an honour to live so close to the only remaining Mill town in Canada! 

My son's preschool is in Marysville and so I am in the area often.  Even now, the Mill radiates such presence, I am in awe everytime I come down the hill into town and see such a majestic structure in front of me.  I stumbled across this video from youtube.  Enjoy!

Food Processor Cheddar Cheese Tea Biscuits

I LOVE biscuits, my mom made them all the time when I was growing up.  Preparing biscuits in a food processor is a technique I learned from one of my uncles, they turn out so tender and are so easy!  These biscuits are great with soup or stew and leftovers can be used for biscuit egg sandwiches the next morning.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup shredded old Cheddar cheese
1 cup milk

In food processor mix together flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper.  Mix in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, add cheddar cheese and milk and mix to form soft, slightly sticky ragged dough.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface.  Gently pat out into 1/2-inch thick round.  Using 2-inch floured cutter, cut out rounds.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Gather up scraps and repat dough; cut out more rounds, pressing remaining scraps into final biscuit. 

Bake in centre of 425 degree F oven for 12-15 min or until golden.  Let cool on pan on racks. 

Makes about 12 tea biscuits. 

(Recipe adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook : 350 inspired recipes from Elizabeth Baird and the kitchen Canadians trust most / Elizabeth Baird.  ISBN 0679311173 copyright 2001, page.261)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

Super easy and delicious peanut butter cookie recipe to try out with your kids who like to help-out in the kitchen.

1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used natural pb)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
sugar for coating

Cream together butter and sugars. Add peanut butter and mix well. Add egg and then the dry ingredients. Roll into balls and then in sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet. Press flat with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Makes 3 dozen cookies. (The Best of The Best and more/ isbn: 0969042574 copyright 1998, page 250)

Finger Foods

I remember reading in one of my baby books that when introducing your baby to a "new" food you should let them experience it to the fullest, let them touch it and squish it in between their fingers.

My son was definately getting the full experience at lunch time today:)

My Passions

Here it goes...I was very hesitant to start this blog, wasn't sure what to write about, wasn't sure if anyone was really interested in what I have to say, but decided to write anyways. I was given the advice to write about "What I love" that's what I'll do.

What do I Love? What am I passionate about?

  • Gardening: I'm in "heaven" upon entering a gardencentre.I love to dig in the dirt..I love nothing more than to spend some good "quality time" with my plants and flowers...definate stress release for me. I'll keep you updated on the status of my garden and fabulous new additions!

  • Cooking & Baking: I love to try out new recipes and "test" them on my family, I especially love sweets. I'll keep you updated on exciting new kitchen gadgets and products and share my Fave recipes!

  • My Family: My 2 beautiful boys (3 & 8mo) and my wonderful husband. I will share my experiences as a SAHM complete with pics! (this one's mainly for the grandparents:))

  • Shopping: boy do I ever LOVE a good deal! I'll let you know where to find them! I'll also let you in on any FAB new products I come across.

  • Knitting/quilting: My projects have included an afghan, scarf & toque and am currently working on a quilt for my baby..I'll share any cool sites and patterns.

  • History: I'm a history Major, Love historical novels, museums, historic's always been my dream to live in a big 'ol historic home with a walk up attic.

  • Home Shopping/Direct Sales: Who doesn't like to shop for great products from the comfort of their own home?? Love Pampered Chef, Epicure & Discovery Toys

So that's what I'll write about..maybe you share some of my passions...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why Flowering Crab?

My favourite tree...everchanging..lush and fragrant in spring...bearing bright and beautiful fruit in summer..breathtaking foliage in fall...astonishing bark in winter...always changing, always beautiful...season after season.