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!

…as Apple Pie

my grandma made pie making look easy… her and my grandpa ran a restaurant in Three Hills, Alberta that was called ‘The Coffee Break’… I was still in Elementary school when they had it so my memories of it are a bit foggy, but the pies I witnessed her make have always stayed in my mind…  that a cinnamon buns…

these two items are apparently go well with coffee…

my grandma used lard… Martha Stewart uses butter…  I’ve used both and find the lard easier to work with but the butter taste is better in my mind…

pie takes patience to make…  and it is messy… if you can get over these two elements it is quite relaxing and enjoyable to make…

a friend of mine has this magical solution that gets rid of the nastiness on apples so I don’t have to peel them!  I read somewhere (by that I mean Facebook) that most of the nutrients in fruit and veggies are in the skins…  this is why I zest everything I can and don’t peel if I don’t have to… but the chemicals my farmer husband sprays on things are also in the skin so it is nice to at least pretend to myself that I am removing the harmful bits off!

bacon has made a re-appearance in the house for seeding and the family is very excited to see it again… there are only a few things I miss being a vegetarian…  bacon is one… chicken skin is the other…

I added bacon and cheddar cheese to the pie crust to give it a savoury taste

look at how beautiful it looks in the crust…  and look at the mess I am making!

I remember when I used to watch Martha Stewart and her constant words about pie were ‘keep everything cold’…  the more you can accomplish this the better your pie crust will be…

apples with sugar and cinnamon… oh and lemon zest… cuz I love zest

apple pie with cheddar/bacon crust

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (more if necessary)

Filling:

  • 7-8 granny smith apples, washed, cored and sliced into small chunks
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, with zest
  • 1/2 cup packing brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • vanilla ice cream

Directions:

  • for the bacon, preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • line a baking sheet with tin foil and place bacon on it
  • bake for 15-18 minutes
  • transfer bacon to paper towel to cool, finely chop the bacon
  • in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt
  • add the butter and cut into the flour
  • add cheese and chopped bacon
  • pour in the buttermilk and combine into a ball
  • divide the dough into 2 portions and knead into a disk
  • wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least an hour
  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • for the filling, in a large bowl combine the apples, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch
  • roll out the bottom pie crust until it is 1/8 inch thick and 12 inches in diameter
  • transfer to a pie dish and trim the edges almost even with the edges of the pie dish
  • roll out the top crust
  • place the apple mixture in the shell, dot with butter and top with top crust
  • trim the edges again and crimp the border with a fork
  • brush the top of the pie with the egg and sprinkle generously with sugar
  • put the pie on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees
  • reduce the temperature to 350 and continue to bake for 35-40 minutes until the pie is bubbling
  • transfer to a rack to cool for around 4 hours
  • serve warm with vanilla ice cream

I used to be able to take the farmers vanilla ice cream to put on their pie when we would do the type of meal in the field where everyone gathers around my vehicle to eat it…  but alas they all had to eat their apple pie without ice cream… which is a sin…

I just never know, when I pack their suppers up in bags to take out, when they will get around to eating it so I can’t put a dollop of ice cream on a warm pie slice…

this winter I really got into spiralizing and my favourites are zucchini, sweet potato and butternut squash…  this sprialized butternut squash is the perfect addition to this salad…

butternut squash asian pear salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, spiralized and trimmed
  • cooking spray
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large asian pears, sliced thinly
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds or pecans
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp white sesame seeds
  • pepper

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • spread out the butternut squash noodles
  • coat lightly with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper
  • roast for 10-12 minutes
  • to make the salad, add the ingredients and top with the dressing
  • serve immediately as the pear will brown

lastly, because I had spent so much time making pies, it was a quick and easy burrito that I decided to go with for the main course…

the kids and I love eating at Mucho Burrito and this was my quick version of it…

I sauted some peppers, used ground beef (because that was what I had), white rice, shredded cheese and salsa…  I gave each guy two big burritos and the farmer, who can eat just about anything, could only get down one burrito and saved the other one for his lunch today…

happy seeding!!!   here’s hoping it is a time to try out some new fun recipes and perhaps get to make some pie!

May long on the farm 

May long…

for my neighbours in Saskatoon last night it means midnight fireworks on the golf course… for many farmer’s wives it means taking your boy to spring hockey tournaments…

for farmers it means seeding (the odd year we are done by May long but not lately… and the odd year there are combines out)

it also is the cut-off date for planting a garden… according to everyone’s grandmothers…  you better have it in by May long!  I actually try to get my garden in as early in May as possible so I actually can fully use it during harvest… and so no grandmas say ‘I told you so’…

my attempts to preserve food are not down to a science… so it needs to get used up in the fall…

asparagus is the first thing I harvest from my garden and is one of my favourites…

easy to have in your garden – you just burn the old, dried up remains of last years crop and watch these new little guys stick their heads up through the ashes…

this recipe you can make as large or small as you need it – or dependant on your asparagus harvest!

asparagus blueberry spring salad

  • Servings: you choose
  • Print

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • olive oil (I used dill flavoured)
  • arugula
  • blueberries
  • candied hazelnuts
  • feta cheese
  • balsamic vinaigrette

Candied Hazelnuts:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaping tbsp dijon

Directions:

  • saute the asparagus in olive oil for a few minutes and let cool (do not overcook)
  • assemble the rest of the salad items
  • for the candied hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • melt the butter and add the rest of the ingredients
  • toss with the hazelnuts and pour over a parchment lined baking sheet
  • bake for 15 minutes
  • let cool and break apart
  • for the vinaigrette, in a small mason jar shake the ingredients and pour over the salad

 

this was my mother’s day gift…  just received it from Amazon… an Instant Pot…  I mostly wanted it because now that I am a vegetarian, I don’t have a giant interest anymore in cooking with meat…  🙂

but the farmer is still very much a meat-a-tarian...  so the meat needs to get cooked…

this is the solution… you can throw frozen hunks of meat in this miracle pressure cooker and ‘wa-la’…  cooked hunk of meat is served!

I did not read any instructions and only had time to watch three YouTube videos so please do your own research when dealing with a pressure cooker…

all I know is that you throw frozen meat in with some water and it cooks it…

I drained the roast and threw in the sauce ingredients and put the lid on again to let it work it’s magic…

I’m sure I’m late to the game to realize this amazing kitchen tool that can saute, pressure cook and slow cook is a must have in your kitchen… better late than never – am I right?

by the way – look on Kijiji for a well used crockpot…  only asking what my farmer spent on my Instant Pot (plus shipping)

Instant Pot tear away beef

Ingredients:
– 4 lb roast

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup bbq sauce
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  • take frozen roast and place in Instant Pot with 1 cup of water
  • on manual setting, set timer for 40 minutes
  • when timer is done and you have released the steam, drain the roast and cut it up
  • add the roast and the rest of the ingredients back to the Instant Pot
  • on manual setting set timer for 25 minutes
  • when done, release the steam and serve!

I know I said my coconut lime rice was the best rice ever… I take it back…

green rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stemmed
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsely, stemmed
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, one seeded (the other leave some seeds)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice

Directions:

  • in a Vitamix, blend spinach, cilantro, parsley and jalapeños with 1 cup of the vegetable stock
  • in a saucepan on med/high heat, add olive oil and saute the onions and garlic
  • add the rice and pour in the vegetable stock
  • add the blended mixture from the Vitamix, cover and let simmer on low for 15 minutes
  • turn heat off and let sit for another 10 minutes
  • fluff the rice and serve

this is a ‘light’ version of a berry crisp and is packed with energy boosting ingredients…

and my theory is that farmers need a boost of energy around dinner time… due to the fact that my farmer finishes his lunch by 8 am some days…

berry crumble

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups strawberries, chopped
  • 3 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • serve with coconut milk ice cream (if you aren’t taking it to farmers!)

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • spray a 8×8 inch baking dish (or larger if you have more berries) with a cooking spray
  • in a large bowl, toss berries with lemon juice and tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • place in baking dish
  • in a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and pour over the berries
  • bake for 25-30 minutes
  • let cool to set
  • serve with coconut milk ice cream that your daughter made that evening in the Vitamix!

 

who will cook? 

who will cook?  not me…  is generally the answer most would gravitate to… it was my 38th birthday yesterday and I’m not exactly sure what age it hit me at that I would cook… and enjoy cooking…  but it didn’t begin that way…

when I first met the farmer at college, I was 19 and had no desire to cook…  I did not care about healthy food and I had absolutely no skills relating to the kitchen… (my skill set was pretty limited to tell the truth – hard to really say exactly what I was skilled at… unless watching tv is a skill)

add to that the fact that I am a feminist and part of the reason I did not want to cook was the stigma of the woman’s role is in the kitchen…  so I didn’t want to end up in there…

so when I fell in love with the farmer and moved to a town of 350 people and no fast food or restaurant options, I didn’t realize the cooking learning curve I would be on…

I was 20, newly married and no dishwasher, when his grandmother came to my house and handed me all of her ‘meal to the field’ dishes and told me she was happy to be done with them…

this is when I realized one of my roles in our farming adventure would be cooking half of the meals for the farmers in seeding and harvest…

I hated it…  I was not interested in food and found it all very overwhelming… (and it was significantly cutting into the time I could spend watching Young and the Restless and Passions)

I had two very good examples of cooks in my life – the farmer’s mother and her mother – who I thought were miracle workers in the kitchen…  they both had giant gardens, an ability to pull a meal together with zero dishes in sight and made the meal an exciting part of the day…

but I was still young and started having kids and felt like breakfast, lunch, dinner and meals to the field were a nuisance and a never ending, exhausting job I wish someone else would do for me…

(these lentils by the way are courtesy of our farm!)

what changed everything for me was Pioneer Woman…  Ree Drummond’s blog changed my life…

her bio is even similar to mine…  she grew up on the seventh hole of a golf course…  she fell in love with a farmer (rancher)

and what she did for me was taught me how to love farming…  love the art and soul of it… this whole new world of seeing life in the middle of no where as exciting, artistic, adventure filled and peaceful spoke to me…

not only did it show me I could cook – but I could fall in love with my life of cooking, cleaning, raising kids and farming…

my suggestion if you do not enjoy cooking – fake it till you make it…  find some beautiful blogs or cookbooks, convince yourself you enjoy the process of cooking and see what happens…

there are so many options for food in our modern society today that cooking has become optional… if we are going to cook, it has to be because we want to…

we have to believe that it is important, pleasurable and necessary for our overall health and happiness…

sure enough, without even really noticing the change, I began to love to cook…

I could see how happy it made others when I took the time to prepare a meal for them… and it filled me with joy when I could finally make Great-Grandma Swan’s lemon meringue pie…

I realized that it was a form of art – and was also my job…  most importantly, it was the easiest way to give my family and workers a chance at a good day…

a homemade meal is perhaps the best thing to put a little pep in your step and make you feel content…

it is the time that people gather to tell each other about their day… I learned that it is my way of giving what I can to nourish my family and make others happy…

I put out of my mind the dishes and drudgery and instead see it as my contribution to this world…   the ease of packaged foods is so alluring but does not feed the body or soul the way home cooking does…

some days – like on my birthday – I like to splurge and make it more complicated… other days, like when you have to be at three different baseball diamonds, it needs to be simple and nutritious…

but it always involves a bit of a grocery plan, a bit of a prep plan and if you learn to embrace this as a process that gets you to a great meal every night then it starts to seem worth it…

having kids and farming were my husbands idea…  cooking has been my idea… it does take time – I still can’t make sourdough bread…  but I know that dedicating a certain part of your life to cooking is not time wasted…  

I do wonder how many hours of my 38 years have been spent in the kitchen…  when I feel like I was the least likely person to end up there in the first place…  

here’s to many more years spent in the kitchen…

vegetable lentil salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4” thick coins
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2” thick slices
  • 2 small red peppers, cut into 1/2” squares
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 2-3 cups cooked red lentils

Dressing:

  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  • cut up all the salad ingredients
  • in a Vitamix, add all ingredients for dressing and blend
  • pour in the vegetable oil while blending – you should get around 1 cup of dressing
  • in a steamer, add the carrots and cauliflower first for 3 minutes
  • add the rest of the vegetables (not the spinach)
  • place spinach in a big bowl with lentils
  • add the steamed vegetables and pour on the dressing
  • serve immediately

turkey mint burgers

spring break is over… in Saskatchewan we call it Easter break due to the fact it rarely feels like spring has sprung…  one day it will be sunny and the next you are right back in a snow storm…

every year I feel terrible for the geese and ducks that are the overachievers…  the go getters and the eager beavers…  they are shivering on half frozen sloughs with no idea what the next day holds…  they were told, most likely around a camp fire one evening while roasting marshmallows for smores, that if they got here before everyone else, they’d have first crack at breeding with the best of the best and have first dibs on realty…  but when they arrive they find it’s too cold to even dream of anything other than snuggling and there is an over abundance of sloughs and fields…

as humans we are encouraged to be early risers, to go the extra mile and be a spark plug…  well, if I were a bird I would definitely be lackadaisical, most likely procrastinate and be borderline unindustrious… I’d let Phil and Susan go scout things out in Canada and I’d take a few more days to soak up the sun in Arizona…

sure… by the time I arrive in Canada, snappy Susan has scooped up the best mating partner and her goslings will be rock stars while I’m left with an awkward ‘get to know you’ with Henry who has one leg shorter than the other, a lazy eye and a tongue that hangs out of his beak at all times…  but this is a cost I am prepared to live with…

even if it means my offspring might never even be strong enough to make it past Montana in the fall and I have to leave them there with Henry’s relatives while I head back to my trailer park and pickle ball court in Arizona…  of course I would think of them every day, as I am eating grass from someones lawn and soaking up the rays on a man made pond at the golf course…

I’m pretty sure Henry had said something to me about geese mating for life but I couldn’t hear him correctly seeings how his tongue muffles his speech…  so I had said a teary goodbye in Montana and thanked him for raising our 7 wonderful children but I had to check on our property in Arizona…

I think he knew it was over… the glazed look in his eyes told me he did… but he also has seasonal allergies and autumn is a time they generally flair up…

…  where was I?  oh yes, spring break is over…

(I get sidetracked easily…  kids would love me as a teacher)

I am reminded every time I spend over a week with my children why schools and teachers are such a great idea…  when Monday morning hit and I get to start making lunches again and sending the kids off to school, something comes alive in me…

I feel like singing… or humming at least… the house is quiet… there is a peaceful stillness that comes over me…

with joy and contentment, I go about the cleaning, laundry, bookwork and cooking…  I start thinking of recipes for the farmers for seeding…  the farmer and I have a nice, quiet lunch with no one asking us to watch them spin a spinner…

I am able to plan and cook exciting suppers again… because I am alone in my kitchen and this is happiness to me…

please, don’t misunderstand me… I love my children… I really do… but I also love teachers…

so, thank you teachers… from the bottom of my heart!

turkey mint burgers

Ingredients:

Burgers:

  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 2 tbsp dried parsley)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground chili powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

  • mixed greens and romaine lettuce
  • cucumber
  • tomatoes
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • chopped fresh mint
  • lemon zest
  • lemon juice

Directions:

  • in a large bowl, combine burger ingredients and with hands mix well
  • using a 1/2 cup measurer, make patties and place on parchment lined cookie sheet
  • cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill
  • meanwhile, make individual salads
  • squeeze lemon juice over them as the dressing
  • have oven set to 375 degrees
  • in a skillet, on med/high heat, pour olive oil and brown the turkey burgers
  • once browned place in a dish and put in oven for 10-15 minutes or until burgers are cooked through
  • place burgers on top of the salad to eat

seeding meal #6

 

farmers look at the weather radar a lot…  and when you are desperate for rain they look even more… so when they see that 25 miles away got rain and we got wind, they have to force themselves to be positive…

I used to battle with ‘does God send the rain?’…   we prayed for rain in church on Sunday…  only problem is everyone’s farms are in different spots… some of those that prayed got rain… some of us did not…

did God pick and choose which of us got rain and which got wind in order to teach us a life lesson?

or is it a lot more complicated or simple than that…

this morning, the farmer had forgotten his hat…  he came back to the yard at 4:30 am to get it only to find our two dogs barking at something in our front hedge…  sure enough it was a porcupine …

last year we had to take our one dog to the vet three times to get quills pulled out…  I saw him dragging the dogs to the garage so I grabbed the shot gun and some shells and went running up the stairs to help the farmer…

I don’t know what terrified him more, me running up the stairs holding a shot gun or the dogs around a porcupine …

he was able to kill the porcupine and the kids were able to clean up the remains this morning into a 5 gallon pail…  this was very humorous to watch…  from a safe distance…

which brings me to the question…  did God plan for the farmer to forget his hat and have to come home and get it so he could save our dogs from the porcupine?

sort of like in Back to the Future… the concept that if you change an event in the past your entire future and the earth’s entire future will be changed… one little difference such as stepping on a ladybug could alter the trajectory of everything…

one little action like forgetting a hat saved a lot of time and heartache with taking two stupid dogs to the vet…

every decision we make is important… and I was told that God knew ahead of time every decision I’d make…

the only way for me to come to terms with praying for rain or being thankful that the farmer came back for his hat, is to believe in a God that is beyond what I can comprehend…  that God does not function with the same knowledge or truth that I function with…

I have to make decisions based on the information and knowledge I have at the time… we all do…  and we have no idea what is in store for us… each day…

but I have to believe that God still enjoys a good conversation about needing rain or thankful for the dogs being rescued…

edamame kale power salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Earthbound Farm Deep Greens Blend Kale (or 6 cups chopped kale, ribs removed)
  • 3 bags (300 g each) Edamame beans, shelled (or 2 cups shelled)
  • 2 cups sliced red cabbage
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • sesame seeds
  • Newman’s Own Sesame Thai Dressing

Directions:

  • assemble ingredients
  • pour dressing over and serve
  • garnish with sesame seeds

chicken and gnocchi 'pot pie'

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 3 cups diced carrots
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 1.5 kg (2 packages from a grocery store) chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • seasoned salt
  • lemon pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 (16 oz) packages gnocchi
  • 2 cups frozen peas

Directions:

  • chop the vegetables and set aside to use later
  • pre heat oven to 350 degrees
  • put the flour in a dish and heat olive oil in a pan
  • pat the chicken with the flour and place (in three batches) in the hot pan
  • season with lemon pepper and seasoned salt, brown and flip and season again on the other side
  • when both sides are browned, place in a covered pan and put into oven to finish cooking
  • repeat the process in two more batches with the chicken thighs
  • meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil
  • in two batches place gnocchi in the boiling water a cook for a few minutes until they float
  • strain and add frozen peas to them while they are still hot
  • when the chicken is all in the oven, add the vegetables to the pan and cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes or so until they are softened
  • add the salt and thyme and flour over the mixture
  • pour the chicken broth in and mix until it starts to thicken
  • add the gnocchi (your pan needs to be very large for this) or mix them together in a large bowl
  • spoon the gnocchi/vegetable mixture into a bowl and add two pieces of chicken on top
  • check to make sure the chicken has cooked all the way through

cinnamon apple cake with cream cheese frosting

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 cups Gala apples, peeled and chopped

For the Frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp (or 1/8 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup icing sugar

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • spray a 9×13 baking dish
  • in a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and allspice
  • in a mixer, add sugar, oil and eggs
  • beat until frothy and well combined
  • add the dry ingredients
  • mixture will be thick until you add the apples
  • fold in the apples on a low speed with the mixer until they are worked in well to the batter
  • spread out evenly into the 9×13 pan
  • bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is browned around the edges and set in the middle
  • place in pan on a rack to cool completely
  • while the cake is cooling, add cream cheese, butter and vanilla to a mixer
  • mix well and scrape down
  • add icing sugar and combine
  • when cake is cool, spread a thin layer of the cream cheese frosting over the cake and serve

seeding meal #4

I don’t like to enjoy my yard…  I like to work in it…  at the beginning of spring I get almost giddy… I make lists of jobs, then I go do the jobs… then I notice more jobs that need doing… I put them on the list… then I do them and cross them off the list…

if the list looks like it’s not long enough, I either buy something from Costco online or Ikea that we have to assemble just to add another job to the list…

there is something thrilling about seeing the job on the list and then doing it and then crossing it off…  addictive really… and if you know anything about me…  ‘bit of an addict’…  (I like to through ‘bit’ in there so it’s not so harsh)

the farmer will play in the yard… baseball, football, monster on the trampoline, ‘horse’ on the basketball court…  I like to pick rocks off the pavement pad and re-seed dead spots on the lawn while he does this…

deck staining was in order today… due to the fact that it was over 30 degrees out on May 4… kinda fun to set a record for the earliest I have even treated the decks… really felt like a winner…

my deck staining skills are poor to terrible…  I have followed the rules, taken advice, read the instructions and every single time my decks are sticky…  they never set…  until now…

and I am giving all the credit to this brush… life changing really… Simms 5″ brush that you put on a telescoping handle and then think to yourself ‘where have you been my whole life?’…

I don’t want to write about it anymore… words cannot begin to express my love for this brush… I bought 5 of them and plan to buy more… just in case there is a rush on them or they go out of business…

just try it…  or if you have tried it… don’t speak to me because you didn’t tell me about it and I’ll be mad at you…

the gorgeous weather and deck staining left very little time to get supper ready…  I started at 3:45 pm and had it done by 6….  so this is a good meal plan for someone who works (other than deck staining) and only has 2 hours to whip together a supper…  for 10…

I did have a plan…  Asian…  this is another weird quirk about my personality… I like to theme meals (or outfits) if at all possible…

vinaigrette in a mason jar is super easy, cheap, healthy and oh so good…

 

asian cucumber green chickpea salad

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 4 tbsp green onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp black sesame seeds (or plain sesame seeds)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For the salad:

  • 2 large English cucumbers, julienned
  • 2 cups frozen green chickpeas
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1/2 small red cabbage, thinly sliced

Directions:

  • make the dressing in a medium mason jar and shake well
  • in a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the salad
  • pour the dressing and toss well
  • salad is best cold

 

have you ever had a day where everything is working out perfectly and you start to find it a bit creepy?  spooky? like you might still be asleep?

morning run went well… kids were good getting on the bus…  I went to pressure wash the decks and I started the pressure washer first try… all three times…  (this has never happened)…

and then when I quickly went to the local store to pick up a few items… there were packages of Udon noodles… just sitting there in the cooler…  calling my name…

I bought all of them… mostly because my daughter has been craving these for awhile now and I have not seen them anywhere else…

but I was still a little weirded out by how the day was going… it was like the very few experiences I have had playing basketball when every shot went in… in fact I distinctly remember this happening twice… but when I shot I knew it was going in…

Steph Curry type of day…

Sienna and I found no instructions with the noodles… so we made our own up…  she was in charge…  she cut open the packages… massaged them under hot water… and the divided them up into the supper containers… awaiting their toppings…

she also ate enough to make herself a tad bit ill…

chicken with oyster sauce and cashews

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 6 tbsp canola oil
  • 8 chicken breasts (thawed, patted dry and cut into chunks)
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch (in 1/2 cup cold water)
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups unsalted cashews
  • 4 (454 g) packages Udon noodles (Shanghai Noodles)
  • chopped green onions

Directions:

  • in a bowl, mix soya sauce, vinegar, sugar, oyster sauce, sesame oil and canola oil
  • set this aside
  • in a large skillet or wok over high heat add chicken in two batches (once the second batch is cooked, add the first batch back in with it)
  • brown the chicken and cook thoroughly, adding a bit of water as you go if the pan gets too dry
  • add garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes
  • add green peppers and cook for a few minutes
  • add chicken broth, cook and then turn heat down to add the cornstarch in the water
  • take off the heat and add the cashews and water chestnuts to the thickened mixture
  • serve immediately over the udon noodles, which you have taken out of the packages and in a strainer ran hot water over and pulled apart
  • top with green onions if you have some

I need to include a side note here… I cut the ginger into little sticks because I thought it looks nice…  bit of a bite and unless you love ginger like that… grate it…  I picked it out of the dishes before I sent them to the field…

other note… oyster sauce is the bomb…

now… if you are waiting for dessert pictures… just scroll on back to seeding meal #2 when I made some little cream cheese things that took me 5 hours…  I had frozen them and let them thaw today and put Smucker’s caramel sauce on them… leftover dessert… perfect for on a 30 degree day…

seeding meal #2 

 

lesson learned…  when you see something on Pintrest or Facebook that looks amazing but doesn’t come with a detailed recipe… keep looking… unless you enjoy wasting your time…

the salad was fine…  basically just added what I had in the fridge to make a carrot salad and the reviews from the 12 and 14 year old were good so I think it was a success…

carrot pistachio salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Directions:

  • grate the carrots and place in a large bowl
  • in a small mason jar, add dressing ingredients and shake until well mixed
  • add to the carrots
  • add cilantro and using tongs toss the salad
  • top with pistachios and serve cold

and the crockpot Mexican Chicken over rice is an excellent recipe to have kicking around if you have a busy day and want a nutritious supper…  I served it over Basmati Rice which is my favourite type of rice…

crockpot mexican chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.4 oz) can chicken broth
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (1/2 a bunch)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (or put slices of lime beside the dish)
  • optional toppings: chopped green onion, shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream
  • serve over rice

Directions:

  • in a slow cooker, combine tomatoes, black beans, chicken broth, green chiles, onions and garlic
  • add chicken on the top and season
  • cook on high for 4-6 hours (or on high for 2 hours and then low for 6 hours)
  • when the chicken is cooked, add cilantro and lime juice
  • serve over rice with toppings or also great on tacos or in burritos

but…  if you want to waste about 5 hours of your day wasting your time… try doing this…

first of all, you view a video of someone making something in fast forward on Facebook… many of them are called ‘Tasty’ or ‘Little Things’…

then you look for the recipe only to not be able to find it…

so you pause the video and write down the recipe as it flashes up on the screen…

you go buy all the ingredients and proceed to cook it… only to figure out that it didn’t tell you how many cheesecake cupcakes it was supposed to make… or it left out details about cooking time or temperature… or exactly how to make a caramel sauce…

or you buy 4 packages of cream cheese only to find out that you didn’t need that big of a cheesecake recipe for the little muffin tins you are filling…

and 1/3 of it goes to waste…

when you finally get to the last step which only took 20 seconds on Facebook but has taken you 4 hours to get to…  you realize it might be a bit tricky to make a caramel sauce…

this is after you have burnt sugar onto two pots and ran out of pots and had watched two YouTube videos on making a caramel sauce…

you resort to melting a chocolate bar to pour over the top of the cheesecakes because your supper was running late…

they were delicious… so go for it if you so choose… just don’t expect it to go as quickly as the video you saw on Facebook!

salted pretzel cheesecake cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted (3/4 cup)
  • 4 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup pretzels, slightly crushed

Directions:

  • mix the crushed pretzels, sugar and butter
  • press into 24 foil lined muffin trays, around 1 1/2 tbsp per muffin cup
  • bake at 350 for 5 minutes
  • beat cream cheese and sugar until combined
  • add flour and combine
  • add eggs, one at a time, until combined
  • add heavy cream, sour cream and vanilla
  • pour mixture into the muffin cups, filling them to the top
  • there will be left over cheese cake mixture – I greased a pan and poured the mixture into it and baked it separately
  • bake at 350 for 22 minutes
  • chill in fridge for 2 hours
  • to make the caramel sauce, put sugar and water into a pan
  • do not mix with a spoon or whisk, but give the pan a shake occasionally
  • boil until the mixture turns an amber colour
  • using a pastry brush and water, brush down the sides of the pot so the sugar does not crystallize on the sides
  • take off the heat and pour in heavy cream, while standing back as it will react
  • whisk this together and add the butter
  • pour the caramel sauce on the cooled cream cheese cupcakes
  • add some crushed pretzels and serve

seeding meal #1

I listen to a lot of podcasts…  it used to be audiobooks and then I’d tell people I read the book…  but now I’ve moved on to podcasts…  and let me tell you, it is taking an afternoon in the kitchen to a whole new level…

at times it is a level of missed ingredients, forgetting something is in the oven or too much knowledge going into my head and not enough retention…

but it does make it so I get all excited to get my house chores done, go get the mail and do some banking, hit up the store to pick up a few items, go for the run my calendar tells me I have to go for that day and finish up some yard work… all the while I am thinking that I am going to reward myself with hours in the kitchen listening to podcasts…  while I cook for farmers…

and I think to myself… dream job…  seriously, I have never been more happy…

there is a range of podcasts that I like to listen to… and sometimes it takes around 15 minutes for me to decide on which one to go for…

krista tippett, timothy keller, the longest shortest time, bill simmons, nomad, serial, rob bell…  I held back the urge to listen to ‘game of thrones the podcast’…

the only issue is when I go to take pictures of the food I’m half concentrating on cooking, it pauses my podcasts… and I’m not going to lie…  it has forced me to take fewer photos of food… possibly is forcing me to learn how to use a camera… just so the podcasts go uninterrupted…

beef pot roast with peppercorn gravy

  • Servings: 10 +2 dogs
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head garlic, broken up
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 500 mL dry red wine
  • 250 mL beef broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 4 lb boneless beef chuck roast (trimmed and tied snuggly with kitchen string)
  • kosher salt
  • lemon pepper
  • rosemary

– 1 pkg bacon, cooked

Directions:

  • in a medium pot, add the first ingredients and bring to boil
  • reduce heat and simmer while getting roast ready
  • in a dutch oven, heat olive oil
  • pat dry the roast and then season with salt, pepper and rosemary
  • sear on all sides
  • pour the vegetable and wine mixture over the roast
  • place in oven at 300 degrees for 3 1/2 hours
  • lift out roast and put on cutting board
  • cover with foil
  • strain liquid and pour the remaining liquid into a medium pot
  • add 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 all purpose flour
  • whisk until the gravy thickens
  • add seasoning as needed to gravy
  • serve with potatoes and a slice of bacon!


garlic roasted white potatoes

Ingredients:

  • around 4 lbs medium white potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 head garlic, minced

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • in a large bowl, add cut potatoes
  • add the rest of the ingredients
  • let sit for a bit and then place potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet
  • bake for 25-30 minutes until done and slightly crispy

whole wheat biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Robin Hood ‘Tastes Like White’ flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (for brushing)

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • in a bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt
  • add butter and with a pastry blender cut the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal
  • pour in buttermilk and gently pull together with a spatula
  • dump out onto floured counter top and gently roll out till it is 3/4 inch thick
  • dip a 2.5 inch biscuit cutter in flour and cut out the biscuits
  • do not twist, as this prevents the biscuits from rising evenly, but just press down
  • place on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with butter
  • bake for 10 minutes
  • best served warm

Brandon, my 14 year old who lost all brain function about 3 months ago, actually suggested the sour cream on the side to go along with the roast, potatoes and burnt bacon… (but I learnt a lot of life lessons from the podcast I was engrossed in while the bacon was burning…  so in the end I think a good thing)…  I was proud of him… prouder than I have been in ages…  months actually… I almost included him in the picture that was interrupting my podcast…

first meal during seeding…  I thought I’d include bacon twice…  just in case nothing else tasted good…

mixed greens with orange balsamic vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed (removed before serving)
  • mixed greens
  • bacon (cooked and cut up)
  • cashews (roasted and unsalted)
  • mandarin orange slices (canned… drained)

Directions:

  • in a salad shaker, combine ingredients except for the garlic and shake until well mixed
  • add the garlic and store in refrigerator for a few hours
  • make individuals salads
  • take out garlic, shake dressing again and pour over the salads

lemon bundt cake

  • Servings: 1 bundt cake
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp grated lemon zest (around 3 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (around 2-3 lemons)
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all  purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • using Crisco or butter, butter a bundt pan and flour it
  • place in the fridge to cool
  • in a mixer, combine sugar and butter until well mixed
  • add eggs, one at a time
  • add lemon zest and lemon juice
  • combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl and add to mixer
  • add yogurt to mixer
  • pour into the bundt pan
  • bake for 1 hour 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean
  • cool on a wire rack, in the pan, for one hour
  • turn cake out and cool for another hour
  • mix powdered sugar and lemon juice and drizzle over room temperature cake

this is what happens to a cake when you put it in the oven and then forget you did and go for a run… and then are rushed for time so you put the glaze on before it is cool…

the farmer told me it was shockingly moist and good… so apparently you cannot wreck this cake…

I spent the weekend in Calgary with a little girl that is dear to my heart…  she is a miniature Brene Brown or Oprah… everything that comes out of her mouth is a ‘life lesson’ or ‘a-ha’ moment…  and I feel close to her as I listen to podcast after podcast and wonder when I am going to be able to handle my kids coming home from school and not screaming at them to put their lunch kits in the proper spot…