zucchini lemon loaf and chicken thigh mushroom ravioli casserole

September is for zucchini recipes… there are a billion of them floating around out there and they basically are all the same… until now… this one – I am telling you – is my all-time favourite…

I do not lie… this one is so yummy – I’m not pretending it is healthy – but it is delicious and I found it pairs well with morning coffee, morning tea, afternoon coffee, afternoon tea… (yes, I doubled the recipe and made three loaves and ended up having basically an entire loaf for myself)

zucchini lemon loaf

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini, dried on paper towel
1 1/4 cups sugar
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Glaze:
1 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp buttermilk
1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions:
preheat oven to 325 degrees
grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with non stick cooking spray
in a mixing bowl, add sugar and lemon zest
add canola oil and eggs and beat
add buttermilk and lemon juice
in another bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt
add the flour mixture and zucchini to the mixing bowl in stages
don’t overmix
pour into the loaf pan
bake for 50-55 minutes
using a toothpick see if it is cooked through
let sit and then take out of the pan and cool on a rack
mix up the glaze and pour over when the loaf is cooled down

this week I was in need of some simple recipes as I am training my dogs with their new and improved GPS collars to keep them in my yard… I needed to simplify the meals that were going to the field so I had time to monitor how my dogs were doing with these collars and go for walks with them around the boundary…

and let’s be honest – after a month or whatever of harvest – I would be looking for simple meals anyways…

hello Costco – I grab a few of their pre-made salads and I think to myself, if I add one fresh ingredient to them (cauliflower, tomatoes etc) then it is basically my homemade salad!

this main course I did is my daughter’s and son’s favourite… I used boneless chicken thighs, mushroom ravioli, mushrooms and then made an easy cream sauce

it can be tricky cooking with these little foil containers… they do tend to burn on the bottom and you need to grease them up so everything doesn’t just stick…

easiest thing is to have everything pre-cooked… so I bbq’d the chicken thighs (I used my favourite chicken bbq spice but just use whatever you love) and chopped them up…

then for the mushrooms, sliced them and sauted them to get the moisture out and seasoned them as well…

this left the noodles and sauce… I made up the sauce (your basic butter with flour and then add milk, salt and pepper and parmesan cheese or whatever cheese you like in a white sauce) and poured it into a large measuring cup so I could easily pour it over each dish…

having all of this ready, you then can boil the noodles, they don’t take long, and I just use a strainer and put directly on top of the first layer of chicken… I used 6 raviolis per container…

the order I assembled in was chicken, raviolis, mushrooms, chicken and then sauce…

we did put some parmesan cheese on top and cover and into a 350 degree oven for roughly 20-25 minutes until bubbling and warmed through… if you are using cold ingredients or they have had to sit for awhile, you might need to lengthen the cooking time…

at this point in harvest I am employing not only a 12 year old girl but a 7 year old cat… I make the cat count forks to make sure we aren’t missing any… this cat runs a pretty tight ship and doesn’t miss a thing…

green bean tomato salad, ravioli bake and chocolate zucchini coconut cake

it is 10:15 pm… my daughter just went to bed and I am faced with folding laundry that I put on my bed to sabotage myself before I go to sleep… I’m not expecting the farmer(s) to be home until midnight and the house is quiet… I have ran out of things to watch on Youtube so I open up my Netflix… everything is in Arabic or some language similar to that and my first thought is ‘I’ve been hacked’...

not the logical thought ‘maybe one of my kids is playing a joke on me’... nope – straight to hacking…

to preface my distrust of everything right now – Garmin (the running watch I use) was actually hacked by a Russian hacker last month… none of my run workouts were being uploaded for almost two weeks… so hacking does still happen… (unless the unlikely event that Facebook was wrong about that story)

*** side note: blanched the beans… this means you boil for 2-3 minutes and then straight into ice cold water***

back to the hacking… I quickly dial up a help line for Netflix and proceed to tell the lady my issue… she needs verification that this is my Netflix account… reasonable… she wants to send a code to my email… it is not coming through, so she goes to her next option… texting the code… but the problem is the number on the Netflix account is the farmer’s number and I tell her he doesn’t want to be bothered with my Netflix issues while he is combining…

understandable she says… third option is she is going to ‘patch me through to the finance department and I am going to give my VISA to them’… huh???

green bean, tomato, basil and parmesan salad

Ingredients:
4 cups green beans, blanched and cut (ends trimmed)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup sliced red onion
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tbsp golden balsamic vinegar (or champagne vinegar)
1 tsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
freshly ground salt and pepper

Directions:
blanch the beans
boil water, add the beans for 2-3 minutes and then place in ice cold water in the sink
drain and dry
add the tomatoes, cheese, basil, onion
place all the dressing ingredients in a vitamix and blend
if you don’t have that – shake in a jar
cover the salad with dressing and toss
put in fridge until ready to serve, preferably for a few hours

‘easy there, slow down’ I say… and then I start giggling and I say to her ‘you are in on this aren’t you??? are you all in the same room??? are you just going to pretend to patch me over to finance and then hand your phone to your friend that hacked my account and get my VISA number? how do I know you even work for Netflix?’

it was all becoming crystal clear to me… what a scam… well I informed her that I wasn’t born yesterday and they would have to come up with a better sceme than this to hook me…

*** side note: on these hot days on the farm I’ve been including watermelon or some sort of melon… I think it’s been a hit***

I truly expected her to be shocked I figured it out and perhaps hang up on me… but she quickly backtracked and said she did actually work for Netflix and no longer required my VISA… we could maybe figure it out some other way…

I said ‘now we are talking… how about I tell you how this is going to work… if you truly work there, you can just go ahead and turn my language preference to English, no VISA numbers need to be given and we are set’…

I call this the art of negotiation… I watched three episodes of it on Masterclass and was feeling pretty great about myself…

*** side note: these have to be my two favourite toppings on anything really… mozza and basil… unreal… also this deer sausage is incredibly tasty***

she keeps insisting that she truly does work for Netflix and I keep saying ‘yes and I live next door to Oprah’...

after a solid half hour of this back and forth, I begin to fade… the laundry is done and I certainly don’t want the farmer(s) to get home only to find me fighting with a fake Netflix person on my phone…

ravioli bake with mozzarella and basil

Ingredients:
1 pkg chicken and mozzarella ravioli, barely boiled
1 pkg deer sausasge, bbq’d
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, sliced
2 cups or more marinara sauce of your choice
fresh mozzarella
basil

Directions:
preheat oven to 425 degrees
in a boiling pot of water, drop the ravioli and let boil for 1-2 minutes and scoop out into your baking dish
cover with marinara sauce
bbq your deer sausage
add the peppers and onion to the ravioli and bake for 15 minutes
make sure there is enough sauce to cover everything
cut up the sausage and add if you choose or serve it beside the ravioli
stir the ravioli and pull chunks of mozzarella to place on top
bake for 5 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted
add the basil and let sit
serve with a bbq’d deer sausage if you have not put this in the dish

I decide to compromise… I tell her that I believe her story and she tells me she switched the language back to English… (I never believed her story)

by the time I get off the call, I’m too exhausted to watch a show (which turns out she had switched it back to English) and I’m also to stimulated to fall asleep…

when the farmer(s) get home I immediately have to get up and tell everyone how I didn’t get scammed…

they all are super excited to hear my story at midnight… and then the farmer shows me some emails that Netflix had been sending the last week that I just had ignored and deleted…

here it was emails saying that our Netflix account had been signed into from Bangladesh and if this is not you to deny access… hmmmm… that would have been nice to know earlier…

and then I realize that my ‘spidy-sense’ might be on overdrive right now and I just don’t trust anyone… I phoned my local bank the other day and was just about to ask the teller how she could prove to me she is who she says she is…

the farmer told me I need to stop watching conspiracy movies and perhaps chat with real life people more… I told him that I don’t have that luxury because I was currently trying to figure out if Bill Gates is amazing like his Netflix documentary says he is or if he’s the Anti-Christ like the last Plandemic doc says he is…

chocolate zucchini coconut sheet pan cake

Ingredients:
Cake:
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 cup olive oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened coconut, toasted

Directions:
preheat oven to 350 degrees
spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray
grate the zucchini
in a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon
whisk up eggs, add olive oil and and vanilla
add the flour mix and then the zucchini
spread batter in the greased 9×13
bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean
let cool on a rack in the pan to room temp
for the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until creamy
beat in sugar and cocoa powder
add vanilla
frost the cake in the pan when cooled
add the toasted coconut on top
cut and serve

so if you are thinking that absolutely everybody is lying to you right now, you are not alone…

I’m telling you the truth when I say that basil and mozza are the best topping on anything… ever…

I wanna hug with somebody

I was walking with a friend the other evening… as we were saying our good-bye’s, a strange feeling came over me… I have been close friends with this person for over twenty years now and this was a new feeling I had never experienced around her… I found my arms raising, my heart pulling me towards her, a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth… and then I almost did the unthinkable… I almost hugged her…
I shyly laughed and told her that I didn’t know what came over me… that I had these strange new feelings and I was overcome with the urge to give her a hug… is this how all the freaks that I’ve avoided hugging over the years feel???

my whole life I’ve avoided saying goodbye at get-togethers and just slipping out in order to forego the inevitable hugs that ensue… now, my body is betraying everything I know by drawing me towards her
this is when I know that Corona has cracked me… broken me down and spit me out…

she was kind about the awkwardness that ensued… I could tell she didn’t need to hug me as much as I was longing to wrap my arms around her… maybe she was worried that a hug that was 20 years in the making might be a let down… perhaps she thinks I am showing visible signs of losing my mind…. it could be the fact that showering once a week is not working out for me as well as I thought it was… whatever it was, she politely laughed as said ‘oh I sure wish we could hug too… darn Covid’

potato gnocchi

  • Servings: 2-4 people
  • Print

Ingredients:
4 russet potatoes (around 2 cups mashed)
1 tsp salt
cracked black pepper
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour (more if needed)
Directions:
boil potatoes – either peel first or pull peels off after
boil them for 20-25 minutes and drain
mash or use a potato ricer
let cool a bit and then in a bowl, add the salt, pepper, egg and then the flour until you can form a ball
on a floured surface, roll parts of it into a log and chop into small ‘pillows’
in batches, place in boiling water and as soon as they float, let them float for 30 more seconds and then remove
put in a dish with a bit of olive oil so they don’t stick to each other
use immediately or keep in the fridge to use later
I’m not sure what this isolation is doing to me but I’m worried that it’s turning me into one of the most annoying/inconsiderate types of human beings… a hugger…
the meal I was making, as I mulled over these new urges I had been having as of late, is one of my absolute favourites… gnocchi… little pillowy mouthfuls of potato heaven… they are a bit laboursome, but so delightful and so much better than the store bought version…

I like to use the potato ricer to get really fluffy mashed potatoes for the dough… my daughter and I had a lovely little assembly line going of me rolling and cutting the dough and she was boiling and straining them…

the plan was to add a mushroom cream sauce on them with a parmesan topping and bake… but after all that work, I curdled the milk and ruined the entire sauce… my guess is the temperature was too high for adding the milk…
so Sienna had to go dump it in the back trees in the yard and we settled for store bought pasta sauce and parmesan cheese and baked the gnocchi at 375 degrees until it was bubbling and gooey… we gave each other a hug and said we ‘can’t cry over curdled milk’
this little girl’s schedule is full of school in the morning but then I can employ her for the afternoon in my kitchen… the salad we made is super simple and classic but we thought delicious with the homemade French dressing…

iceberg lettuce chopped salad with french dressing


Ingredients:
Salad:
1 head iceberg lettuce, core removed and chopped
4 radishes, chopped
4 scallions or green onions, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
Dressing:
3 tbsp white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste (not needed)
Directions:
put salad ingredients in a large bowl
shake up dressing
pour over and serve immediately
we finished the meal off with an easy peach cobbler…

and I have to say that I am mortified if I have made ‘spurned-huggers’ feel the way my lovely friend was ‘forced’ (we’ll say that) to make me feel the other night… all these years, I never knew the anguish I was causing so many by not just giving them a hug… however awful it used to feel for me to hug, the feeling of having an unrequited hug is worse!

I do have a suspicious feeling that this lure to hugging I am having right now is purely founded upon the fact that we are not allowed to hug and throughout the course of my life, I am generally only attracted to things I am not supposed to be doing… similar to the critically acclaimed Netflix show “Too Hot to Handle”, where couples are not allowed to kiss (etc.) and find themselves even more attracted to each other than if they could kiss… this was an old Bible School trick… one I fell for ‘hook, line and sinker’ and ended up marrying a farmer at the ripe old age of 20…

who knows – only time will tell if this pull to hugging is merely an act of rebellion or a step forward in becoming a nicer human being… after the pandemic, if you don’t get the open faced sandwich hug, the shoulder to the throat hug, the middle school dance hug or the burping the baby hug but instead it is replaced with a soft, delicious ‘hugging your grandmother’ type of hug, you will know something deep down has been switched in me… and you might want to read my old blog on how to avoid hugging – cuz I’m coming for ya…

peach cobbler


Ingredients:
3 quarts canned peaches, strained (or 12 fresh peaches, sliced)
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup cold shortening, cut into small cubes
1 cup whole milk
Directions:
mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest in a saucepan on medium/high heat
add peaches and boil and gently stir for 1 minute
pour into a 9×13 greased dish
cut shortening into flour, sugar, baking powder and salt mixture
add milk and mix until sticky
spoon over the peaches and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
serve warm if possible

tortellini broccoli chicken casserole and lemon zucchini cake

on Saturday I was told no suppers at 10 am…  then I proceeded to make up suppers anyways because I had all the ingredients bought and had to use them up…  at 3:45 pm I see a train of green combines whir past my place and sure enough they are combining…  I smile and think “Catherine, you are so smart… you are ready for this”...

then it rains at 6:00 pm… I can handle this a few times but really hoping we start to get some days where their meal actually reaches the field!

if you are ever in a pinch for a salad – I had bought this chickpea/pasta salad from Costco and my family always loves it…  I also get some grape tomatoes and cut them up to put in it to make it look and taste a bit more homemade…

I have been getting chickens and beef from a neighbour of ours for years now and my little friend Edie raises the best little chickens… well not so little as this one was 9 lbs… I have been a vegetarian for over two years now, but I still have to have meat for the farmers and my family… so sourcing out fairly treated animals is very important to me and little Edie treats these chickens very well…

this is the part of the meal that I don’t love… well that and the dead chicken…  for some reason I hate tortellini pasta…  but it is an absolute favourite of my children…  I used it for this dish as it holds up well to being in a casserole

now these I do love… mushrooms…  nothing better than mushrooms with butter and onions and garlic…  mmmmmm…. (mine were very runny so I had to drain these before putting them in the bowl with the rest of the casserole ingredients to mix together)

blanching the broccoli keeps it in good shape for going into a casserole dish…  this means you boil it for no longer than 2 minutes and then immediately get it nice and cold again to stop the cooking…

and now… for the ooeeee-goooeeeyyyy sauce I made up…  cream cheese goodness

finished product that headed to the freezer…  I am pretty sure this will freeze and cook up well but I will let you know if for some reason it doesn’t!!!

tortellini chicken broccoli casserole

  • Servings: one casserole
  • Print

Ingredients:
8 oz pkg uncooked pasta (I used tortellini, rotini is also a good choice)
1 lb of broccoli florets (around 2 heads of broccoli), cut into bit size pieces
2 tbsp butter
1 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
4 oz cream cheese (1/2 a block)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Directions:
for the chicken, I just cook up a whole chicken and use the leftovers for lunch meat
for the pasta, boil a large pot of water with salt and add the pasta until al dente – do not overcook… strain and place in a large bowl with a bit of olive oil so it doesn’t stick together
for the broccoli, boil for a few minutes and then strain and cool in cold water – you cannot overcook the broccoli
in a saucepan, saute the onion, mushrooms and garlic in the butter (strain this if it is too runny)
add the broccoli and onion mixture to the pasta in the large bowl
in the saucepan, melt butter and add flour and whisk… then add the chicken stock slowly and then the cream cheese, mustard, salt and pepper
add one cup of the grated cheddar cheese to melt and pour over the pasta mixture in the large bowl and add the chicken and mix well
using a spatula, scrape out all the contents of the bowl into a greased 9×13 pan
sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top
bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes

garden zucchinis go well with chocolate – but also with lemons!!!

this is one of my favourite things…  mixing together sugar and lemon zest with my fingers… the smell of it is so great and I know the taste will be even better

I’m not exactly sure when we decided that putting zucchini into cakes somehow made the cake healthy… but I have it in my mind that here is a healthy form of a cake… even though I see the amount of sugar, butter and cream cheese going into it…

this makes more than enough icing to cover up the ‘healthy’ cake

I put this iced cake in the fridge overnight and it cut up nicely the next day…  and now my freezers are officially full…  fingers crossed the combines can be in the fields for a few suppers this week!

lemon zucchini cake with cream cheese icing

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini

For the Icing:

  • 8 ounce block cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a 9×13 pan
  • in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt
  • in a mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest (rub together with you fingers until fragrant)
  • add the oil and beat… add one egg at a time and then lemon juice and vanilla
  • add the dry ingredients and then the zucchini – do not overmix
  • pour into the greased 9×13 pan and bake for 30 minutes or until done
  • for the icing, in a stand mixer beat the cream cheese and butter and scrape down
  • add the icing sugar and combine
  • add the lemon juice, lemon zest and salt
  • spread the icing over the cake when it is completely cooled
  • I like to put plastic wrap over this cake and put it in the fridge and cut it the next day

feeling the love

I prefer to do things for other people than have them done for me…  with the exception of the farmer…  he can keep doing things for me and I have no guilt associated with that…

so when my friends threw a party for my 40th birthday it was pretty overwhelming…  you always hope your friends like you – that they aren’t just tolerating you and then chatting about how awful you are when you leave the room…  and at my party yesterday I truly felt loved… really loved… and it was amazing

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to the party as my three children and husband all decided to shower before they left to go to church and left me to 2 inches of lukewarm water to bathe in…  just to give you a full mental image, as I was trying to wash my hair in the few inches of water in the tub, I threw my neck out…  I then started to cry – whimper really – and then cursed my family on their way to church and thought that 40 is not so great… I eventually pulled myself together in time to head out…

first off, you know you are 40 when you go to yoga on a Sunday at 2 pm to celebrate!!!  this is at the Hotroom in Kindersley, SK and in my humble opinion the best hot yoga studio in the world…  Michelle did an amazing job with us – starting with couple yoga that had me mounting my friend Mandy (any chance I get to mount her I take it), then into some flow style of yoga and then wall Yin and stretching – my favourite…

moments like this remind me of how lucky I am to have known these friends of mine for over 20 years now and raised children with them, cried with them, cheered with them and gone through life with them… (and also the friends in my life not pictured here as well)

I realized that the friendships I have been fortunate enough to be have been able to form in this small community have really sustained me and brought me through many ups and downs on the farm here…

when I moved out to rural Saskatchewan to start a life with the farmer, I didn’t really know what it would be like in a tiny little community…  and I feel like I struck GOLD with the community I moved into… everyone here truly cares for each other and each other’s kids…

it is a safe place to raise a family, with lots of support and encouragement…  there is an attitude of hard work and respect that permeates life in this farming community…

so when my friends took the time, during a busy seeding season, to take me to yoga and have a potluck meal with presents – it just floored me…

broccoli cashew salad

Ingredients:
– Dressing:
– 1 cup mayonnaise
– 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
– 2 cloves garlic, minced finely (optional)
– 1 tsp granulated sugar
– 1 tsp kosher salt
– cracked black pepper
– Salad:
– 2 large heads of broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
– 1 pkg cooked bacon, chopped
– 1/2 cup chopped, roasted cashews
– 1/2 cup dried cranberries
– 1/4 cup diced red onion
– 2 green onions, thinly sliced

Directions:
– place dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together
– mix salad ingredients with the dressing
– refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving
– keeps really well in the fridge

one of the things I have been noticing as I age is that the friendships I have in this small town continue to bring wisdom, strength and encouragement into my life…  women here challenge each other to keep improving themselves and growing…

I wasn’t sure I’d like a small farming community – I liked cities and the anonymity that goes with city life…  I really didn’t want everyone to know my business all the time (although I’m not sure exactly what I was hiding… the fact that I like to watch Netflix and eat chips and dip???)

but I have grown to love it and when I get home after a long weekend away, I love driving on the lonely back roads to our farm and knowing who lives in each house as I go by… as the fields and sky stretch on and on… and I feel like “I am home”…

it isn’t a tourist destination spot – that is for sure – unless you are a hunter I suppose…  but for me it’s home…  it is where my friends and I have all built our lives together… it is where we have prayed for rain and celebrated rain… it is the people here in this tiny community that make it beautiful…

tuna casserole

Ingredients:

– 12 oz egg noodles

– 4 tbsp butter

– 1 med onion, diced

– 6 oz button mushrooms, chopped

– 1/4 cup flour

– 1/2 cup white wine

– 3 cups warm milk

– salt and pepper

– 3 cans tuna in water, drained

– 1 red bell pepper, chopped

– 2 tbsp parsley, chopped

– shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

– 4 tbsp butter, melted

– 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

– preheat oven to 400 degrees

– boil noodles, till al dente, then drain and place in large mixing bowl

– in a saucepan, melt butter and saute the onion and mushrooms

– sprinkle with flour and stir

– add the white wine and cook down

– add the milk and salt and pepper and cook down

– add this sauce to the noodles

– add the tuna, red bell pepper and parsley to the noodles and sauce

– pour into a 9×13 pan sprayed with baking spray

– sprinkle with shredded cheese (optional)

– combine butter and breadcrumbs

– sprinkle over the noodles

– bake for 25-30 minutes

so I am feeling all the love today and I hope to keep that love going and support others in their farming, small town life journeys…

need any help?

the farmer got upset with his oldest son who is driving the grain cart for not helping combine drivers clean their headers out…  he was just telling him the other night how it is his job as a cart driver to get out and help them…

so yesterday, my sixteen year old, trying to be as helpful as possible, tore across the field to be of assistance to a combine driver who was stopped…

and we haven’t stopped laughing/crying ever since…

because this particular combine driver’s header was not plugged… that was not the reason for the combine sitting motionless… ‘nature had called’ and my son got there just in time to witness it…

I remember when I first married the farmer and asked him, a few years into farming, what happened if he needed to ‘use the facilities’…  if he would have to jump in his truck and go knock on a door of the closest farm house and hope they didn’t mind him destroying their bathroom…

I did not grow up even peeing outside…  in fact I was just running in a race last weekend and needed to pee the entire 2 hours but with no outhouse in sight I nearly wet myself finishing the race to get to a bathroom… so the idea of doing the other thing outside seemed barbaric and outlandish to me…

apparently sometimes it can’t be helped…

and, much to the farmer and myself’s enjoyment, our oldest son got to experience one of these times…  just trying to be helpful…  when no one needed him to help…

I had to quickly get that story out of the way before I discussed food… but it for sure is the highlight of harvest for the farmer and I… we are pretty sure nothing will top the amount of enjoyment and laughter we have had over this awkward moment…

continuing with the farmer’s Grandma Swan recipes, and seeings how when you make pie crusts it is in batches of four, I had enough crust for two more pies…

I generally have had to go to the farmers Grandma’s old yard to get some of her rhubarb but I actually planted my own rhubarb this year…  so the raspberries and rhubarb are from my own garden… my daughter and I were pretty pleased with ourselves…

I tend to overfill pies so I have learnt to place them on parchment lined baking sheets

Grandma Swan's Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie

Ingredients:
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup sour cream
4 cups rhubarb, cut into small chunks
1 cup frozen raspberries

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soft butter, cut into chunks

1 unbaked pastry shell

Directions:
in a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour and sour cream
add the rhubarb and raspberries and combine
pour into an unbaked pie shell
in another bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and butter until crumbly
sprinkle over the pie
bake at 425 for 15 minutes
lower heat to 350 and bake for 30 minutes or until fork tender

this was an odd day that the smoke from all the forest fires in BC was not actually blocking out the sun so my daughter and I enjoyed some deck time in the sun while husking corn… I always call it shucking corn… the farmer told me I was wrong… but I just did a little google search and found out we both are correct… take that…

the nice thing about the old recipes I find is they are simple… generally have a very short list of ingredients…

Grandma Swan's Scalloped Corn

  • Servings: one casserole
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. can cream style corn (I used fresh corn on the cob cut off)
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs (I used Panko bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3/4 cup diced cheddar cheese
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:

  • combine all ingredients
  • pour into greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish
  • bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes until top is lightly browned and center is set

this was one of those days that I didn’t get started on cooking until after lunch and it was a full on panic and scramble to get everything done… I could not have done it without my ten year old daughter being a huge help…

also the laughter that kept welling up inside me also assisted in getting me through the stressful afternoon of cooking and dishes…

thinking of my son taking the tractor over to the stalled combine only to find someone attempting to have some privacy… I’m giggling as I write this

Grandma Swan's Mandarin Orange Lettuce Salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 can (bag now) mandarin oranges, drained
  • chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 sunflower seeds (optional)
  • green onions
  • 1/2 cup cashews, chopped

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard

Directions:

  • for the dressing, blend in a Vitamix or shake very well in a Mason Jar
  • there actually were no directions for this salad…  I guess you just make the salad!

this dish is a harvest classic and one of the farmer’s favourites…  I made it into casseroles and covered them to cook them… generally I would have just made the beef/soup mixture up and poured it over the egg noodles but I found this way was a bit easier for packing up…

Grandma Swan's Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb round steak or stew meat, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 pkg white button mushrooms, cut up into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pkg egg noodles

Directions:

  • for the meat, dredge in flour/salt/pepper mixture
  • place in heated butter in a frying pan with lid and brown
  • set to the side and cook onion and mushrooms
  • in a large bowl, combine the steak, onions, mushrooms, soup and sour cream
  • place in a 9×13 dish in an oven at 325 covered in foil to keep warm
  • boil egg noodles and serve over the egg noodles

 just remember, it is always good to help out… even if it ends up not being helpful… and your family laughs at you for the remainder of harvest

how do you lasagna?

I make lasagna about six times a year I would guess… I am 39 years old…  I only have been cooking since the farmer tricked me into it at the young age of 20… so by that math, I have made 114 lasagnas…

it most likely is closer to 100 as I know I have bought lasagnas at Costco when life got busy and I didn’t have a few hours to mess my kitchen up…

but let’s just say I have made a significant amount of lasagna thus far…  I love it… and I feel like this version that I have been doing lately has combined all of my favourite flavours into one delicious lasagna…

each to their own with lasagna… you might not prefer all these things in it… you might like the more traditional type…  but if you are looking for a creamy, feel good in your belly version… here you go!

I start by cutting sweet potatoes in half, seasoning with salt and pepper and wrapping in foil with some olive oil… placing them in a 400 degree oven for 45-60 minutes to get them all gooey…

then I move on to prepping the ricotta mixture…  in the past I have used cottage cheese but it doesn’t hold a candle to ricotta in my eyes!  I add to the ricotta some eggs, pepper and chopped spinach and then will add the sweet potato mash when it is done

for the meat sauce (you can make this vegetarian… I always make one little vegetarian lasagna for myself… I just keep aside some marinara sauce)  … I use some local ground beef, cook it up with onions and garlic and strain it… then add the spices

this is a new spice I have been using for the last year in my lasagnas that I am just loving…

when the sweet potatoes are done, I use a spoon to peel off the skin and potato masher… I add this hot to the spinach, ricotta, egg mixture and give a good stir… it wilts the spinach nicely

next… I believe I have shared this before but it is new to me – probably have only done it in the last year or two – but you do not have to pre-cook your noodles… you also do not have to buy the kind that say ‘no boil’…  it is all a scam!

if you have enough marinara sauce they cook up just fine in the oven… if you can’t tell, I am still excited about this because lasagna is hard enough with enough dishes let alone boiling the noodles and having half of them stick to the bottom of your pot or rip… really this was life changing for me…

I always double my lasagna when I make it…. even if it is not seeding or harvest… I feel like if I go to the effort to get this many things dirty I might as well have leftovers for lunches or the dreaded ‘fourth supper’ my boys seem to always want at 9:30 pm…

see?  you just go ahead and plop those dry noodles in the pan and then add marinara sauce and you are good to go!

one last thing about lasagna…  I spell it lasagne but my autocorrect kept changing it so I gave up trying…  but in my mind it is lasagne

Beef, Sweet Potato Lasagna

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
6 cups jarred marinara sauce
1 lb (9 pieces) lasagna noodles (no need to precook)
1 bag baby spinach, chopped
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potato (around 2 sweet potatoes)
1 container whole milk ricotta
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb mozza cheese, grated
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
preheat oven to 400 degrees
place a 9×13 dish on a foil lined baking sheet
for the sweet potato, cut the sweet potatoes in half and wrap in foil with some olive oil and salt and pepper
bake at 400 for 45-60 minutes
for the meat sauce, heat oil in a large saucepan and add onion and garlic
add the ground meat, cook and strain if necessary
add spices and marinara sauce to the meat
in a large bowl, add the ricotta, spinach, eggs, sweet potato and black pepper
to assemble the lasagna, put a layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan
add three noodles, no need to have pre-cooked them, and then add another layer of meat sauce over top of the noodles
then add the ricotta/spinach/sweet potato layer and sprinkle with mozza cheese
add more noodles, meat sauce, ricotta layer and mozza
for the third layer, add noodles and then mozza and parmesan (the ricotta/spinach/sweet potato is only in two of the bottom layers)
cover with foil
bake for 25-30 minutes
remove the foil and bake for 10-15 more minutes until it is bubbling and the cheese is golden
let sit for at least 15 minutes before you cut into it to allow everything to settle

I asked the farmer what his favourite dessert is… he told me ‘crisp’...  any type of fruit with a crisp topping… strawberries are on sale right now so this is what I went with…

I tossed the strawberries with some freshly grated ginger and powdered ginger…  topping it with a buttery, pecan, oat topping and there he has it… his ‘crisp’

Strawberry-Ginger Cobbler

Ingredients:
Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Filling:
4 lbs (around 8 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (more if you want, I did more)
1-2 tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp cornstarch

Directions:
preheat oven to 350 degrees
lightly butter a 9×13 baking dish
for the topping, in a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and butter
use your fingers to work the butter into the flour
add the oats and pecans and toss
for the filling, in the prepared baking dish, toss together the strawberries, fresh ginger, sugar, ground ginger, and cornstarch
toss well
add a handful of the topping to the strawberries and toss
place the rest of the topping on the top
bake until the fruit juices are bubbling and top top is golden brown, 40-45 minutes
let cool for 30 minutes prior to dishing out

for the salad, these guys just have to eat what I am wanting to make myself for a salad… I decided awhile back when I would get supper bags home to clean them out and saw salad after salad being left, untouched in the bags that I would no longer make salads with the farmer in mind but with myself in mind…  and perhaps they would end up enjoying it but at least I would have leftover salad to enjoy

so bring on the chickpeas and quinoa…

I was going to make this with kale but spinach is on sale right now so we go with spinach…   (the older I get the more frugal I get…  and the more I turn into my mother)

 

 

Quinoa, Spinach, Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:
Salad:
1 cup uncooked red quinoa (or regular)
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups spinach (finely chopped)
3 carrots, julienned and chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
Dressing:
– 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
– 2 tsp dijon mustard
– 1 large clove garlic, minced
– 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp maple syrup
zest of 1 lemon
Topping:
toasted pumpkin seeds
hemp hearts

Directions:
for the quinoa, rinse and then bring to a boil with the water in a pot
reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 13-16 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy
remove from heat, uncover and fluff with fork
in a large bowl, add the chickpeas, spinach, carrots, green onions, parsley and tomatoes
add the quinoa to the salad
for the dressing, add the ingredients to a mason jar and shake well
pour over the salad
garnish with pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts and serve

 

and there you have it… one more meal to the field in the books!

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

it’s Wednesday…  I’ve made a 1 1/2 hour (roundtrip) to Kindersley once, cleaned the house (sort of), made the muffins for the booth at the school and am making my second trip to Kindersley to pick up uniforms for my son’s Junior Basketball team…

I need to get these jerseys to him, then get something started for supper before I go watch his game and get my other two children sent off to the rinks they need to be at…

sound familiar to anyone out there?  if this type of day is ringing a bell, you need to go get yourself an Instant Pot… some people might give you crazy advice to slow down…  don’t listen to them when you have the tools to cook faster!!!

not only does it look great on your counter – it is a lifesaver for families that don’t know how to say ‘no’

I’m telling you, even the farmer could cook with this…  you push the sauté button and add onions and olive oil…

when they start to cook add your ground beef… brown it and strain if it is fatty…

no time for real garlic or fresh herbs today…

toss in some garlic and chilli powder

venture into your super tidy pantry…  because every mom has time to clean her pantry every other Tuesday…  and grab a can of green chiles and tomato sauce…

toss in some Cancun salt… if you recently did not get to leave your hectic life and go to Cancun, then any ordinary salt will do… but make a mental note to book yourself a well-deserved get-a-way…  

fancier moms might chop up real cilantro… but when you are putting it in a dish like this I think you are wasting your time…  dried cilantro is just fine and it’s not going rotten in your refrigerator because you forgot you had it…

use the package of free noodles your friend gifted you because her husband saw the ‘organic’ label on them and said ‘not up in here!!!!’

(one man’s trash is this lady’s treasure)

place the dry noodles right on the meat sauce and cover with water

place the lid on and set for high pressure for 5 minutes… (it roughly takes 10 minutes to get to pressure… then using the quick release it takes a few minutes to lose the pressure… so overall the cooking time is around 20 minutes)

leave your teenage son in charge of it (which I would never do with a boiling pot of water) and head out to get your daughter to her hockey practice and watch your other son’s basketball game…

feeling like freakin’ Martha Stewart while you drive

when you come home and realize that your teenager forgot about it completely, no need to panic… it is just fine…

add some frozen corn and tex-mex cheese to it, turn on the sauté to warm it up and serve with a smile, knowing that cleanup is only one pot!!!

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs thawed, ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (7 oz) green chiles
  • 500 gram bag of dried pasta
  • 3 cups water (to cover pasta)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 cup tex/mex cheese

Directions:

  • in Instant Pot, on saute setting, add oil and onions
  • when slightly cooked, add the beef and brown
  • if it is fatty beef, strain and return to pot
  • add spices, chiles and tomato sauce and mix
  • place dry noodles on top and cover with water
  • on high pressure setting, set timer for 5 minutes
  • use quick release when it is complete
  • add the corn and cheese in at the end

highlight reel

have you ever ran into someone who is so ‘put-together’ that it makes you feel disgusting about yourself?

it’s not their fault that they are making you feel this way… they have every right to shower and be clean and water their flowers… but the sight of them just makes you feel like Pig-Pen with flies and dust swirling around you…

their hair is always perfect, they smell like a lavender field, their clothing isn’t stained and their vehicle is always clean…  and they talk about their life in a way that you imagine they are living somewhere similar to the garden of eden…

this happened to me the other morning… and right when I was feeling like I was accomplishing a lot…  I had ran for groceries and some other errand early in the morning and was picking up the mail on my way home…

and I run into this sweet, beautiful, flawless lady at the post office…

we have a nice conversation and then I get into my vehicle that I thought I had just washed but you’d never guess and drive into my yard only to suddenly realize it looks like the yard of someone who has been absent for a month…

even my dogs looked dirty… like they should be ashamed of themselves…

I walk in and notice that the entryway mat has dirt and straw on it… there are handprints on the glass on the door… chips on the paint on the walls…

and I am so overwhelmed I don’t even know where to begin…

I think if this lady saw the filth that I live in she’d faint… and so you change your plans for the day and scramble to start in on yard work…  and you are late picking your kids up from school and don’t even have supper for them because you’ve rather be vacuuming…

and this is partly why I have taken 4 suppers to the field and haven’t written about them…

so instead I’m just giving the highlight reel of what has been going out to the farmers lately…

kinda like how Instagram is a highlight reel of your life… and no one needs to see the filth and squalor that you live in…

orzo chickpea feta salad, rhubarb cream cheese brownies, speedy baked ziti and cheesy ranch potatoes… these were the shining stars of the past four meals…

orzo chickpea feta salad

Ingredients:

  • 500 g pkg (around 3 cups uncooked) Orzo
  • 3 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 large cucumbers, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 cup or 1 large red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (roughly 3 lemons)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • ground black pepper

Directions:

  • cook orzo, drain and rinse well with cool water
  • in a very large bowl, combine orzo, chickpeas, cucumbers, feta, dill and red onion
  • in a shaker, combine ingredients for dressing and shake until well combined
  • pour over salad and chill before serving

rhubarb cream cheese brownies

  • Servings: one 9x13 inch pan
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sliced fresh rhubarb (1/2 inch lengths)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 12 oz milk chocolate, chopped (or chips)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

  • in a saucepan, cook rhubarb and sugar over medium heat, stirring, until rhubarb is broken down and mixture is thick and glossy (around 10-15 minutes)
  • cool mixture to room temperature
  • in a mixing bowl, whip cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch until well combined
  • in a saucepan, melt chocolate and butter
  • let cool and whisk in sugar and vanilla
  • whisk in eggs, one at a time
  • stir in flour and salt
  • in a parchment lined 9×13 inch pan, pour the chocolate brownie mixture
  • pour the cream cheese mixture on top
  • add the rhubarb
  • bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in centre of cake comes out clean with a few moist crumbs
  • serve warm

speedy baked ziti

  • Servings: one 9x13 pan
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ziti or penne
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • kosher salt
  • 1 24 oz jar marinara sauce (3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese (12 oz)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan

Directions:

  • boil noodles until al dente
  • saute oil, garlic and onions
  • put into a large bowl
  • brown beef and strain off any fat
  • add salt, red pepper and paprika to the beef and place into bowl with onions
  • add noodles, marinara sauce, ricotta and 1 cup mozzarella to the bowl
  • spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and pour in the noodle/beef mixture
  • sprinkle the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan over it
  • bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes

cheesy ranch potatoes

  • Servings: you decide
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • potatoes
  • ranch dressing
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • salt
  • ground pepper
  • shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  • boil peeled, cubed potatoes for 10-15 minutes
  • strain and let dry
  • put in a bowl and add ranch dressing, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper
  • pour potato mixture onto parchment lined baking sheet
  • bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are browned and soft
  • add cheese to potatoes and serve