Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Regular Show - Mac and Minced Beef

Today I thought that I should bring you a dish that makes a regular appearance in my home, usually at the end of every month and just before payday. Its takes no time at all to prepare and uses inexpensive ingredients.

People seem to think that because I have a food blog I cook gourmet meals at every turn.

Seriously no, eh!

My husband is sworn to secrecy about just how often we call for takeout around here.

No folks, I am not running home after work to whip up burgundy lamb shanks, with grilled polenta and a hearts of palm salad, because really you'd have to be crazy to try to get a cranky toddler to eat THAT at the end of a long day after a late swim lesson.

My kids are troupers and will eat all manners of things that other children their age would not touch. Still they do have their limits and pizza rules over okonomiyaki any day. I enjoy leading them to discover as wide a variety of foods that I possible can but my budget and time doesn't allow for fancy dishes all the time. On weekends I might experiment with something new but during the week it's the regular show. starring a rotating line up of budget-minded, unfussy meals.

Actually I am happiest when preparing meals that don't require a whole lot of thought and are sympathetic to dwindling pantry supplies. This dish fits that bill and is versatile. You don't have canned diced tomatoes? Then use tomato paste and ketchup or tomato soup and omit the tomatoes.   Hello left over spaghetti sauce languishing in in the fridge, you would be perfect for this! My  favorite substitution is a bottle of salsa which gives the meal a pleasant zing. Feel free to include any other add-ins like corn, celery, and sweet peppers if you have them.

Mac and Minced Beef

1 package of elbow macaroni ( 4 servings size)
2 tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1 lb ground beef
1 large carrot
* I like the slight crunchy texture of the fresh carrot in this
1 8oz can peas and carrots
1/2 cup ketchup

1 14.5 oz can Hunts Rosemary and Oregano diced tomatoes
1/3 cup water

1 teaspoons salt
black pepper to taste

In a large pot cook elbow macaroni according to package instructions. drain and set aside.

Sauté onions and garlic in oil until translucent. Add beef and cook until beef is no longer pink. Add a little water if meat starts to stick to the pot.

When the meat is no longer pink add the carrots, peas and carrots, ketchup, diced tomatoes, and 1/3 cup water. Cook the mixture for about 10 mins on medium high heat. Mixture should look like a soupy stew. Add more water if needed. Enough to coat the pasta but not too watery to make it soggy. Remove from the heat and mix the pasta into the beef.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ginger Chicken and Noodle Stir Fry.

Just popping in with this stir fry that comes with a huge disclaimer since it is one of those meals that I do on the fly. I don't measure anything, just chop some vegetables, make a sauce, boil noodles. Stir fries are not something I make often because of all the prep involved with chopping the vegetables. I hate soggy, next day, veggies.  I just make sufficient so that it is all consumed in one sitting with no leftovers. This is not so much a recipe but more of a suggestion or rough guide. I can't guarantee the precision of the amounts as I usually just eyeball the ingredients on this one. The sauce is basically a sweet/sour sauce so taste as you make it and adjust to your preference.

Ginger Chicken and Noodle Stir Fry

Servings (4-5) 
3 teaspoons vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
6 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons honey
3 teaspoons cornflour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts 
6 ounces baby corn ( halved length ways
3 carrots (julienned)
2 red bell peppers
1 or two small zucchini (julienned)
chow mien noodles
6 teaspoons sesame seeds


Prepare the noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.

For the sauce: Mix vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, orange juice and honey together. Add the cornflour and stir until well combined. 

Heat the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan or wok and fry chicken for 3-4 minutes. The chicken will stick to the pan if you do not use a non stick for this.

Add the vegetables and stir fry for 4-5 mins.

Add the sauce and cook for a few minutes. 

Remove frying pan from the heat. Add the noddles to the chicken and vegetables along with the sesame seeds. Mix well and serve.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

There is an apple dumpling for that!

This recipe comes from my friend Debbie who shared it with me about a year ago. I am kicking myself right now for not having dropped everything and making it immediately. Learn from my mistake people. 


Seriously STOP reading the rest of this post. Just skip to the recipe at the end (I won't mind),  and go make this. 

Fair warning: this is the least pretty dessert you are ever likely to see. 

Not to worry, the aroma alone will have you shoveling this into your mouth too quickly for you to even want to stop and appreciate with your eyes. 

I learned some things from making it so many times in the past month.

What!!!  I was doing 'research'.....See, this is me trying and failing to make it look glam.

Luckily I learned that my stomach doesn't care for pretty pictures, nor does my face apparently since I stuck it in these dumplings almost before they came out of the oven. 

I learned that my tongue can curse a blue streak when food that is one degree less the surface of the sun is placed on it. 

There are days that just suck and on those days I learned that apple dumplings have superpowers. 

It's true. 

We all know that that no matter how well you plan for life, no matter how many random acts of kindness or how much positive energy you fling out into the Universe, none of it is any guarantee that good karmic vibes will boomerang its way back to you.  

The truth of it is, random shit happens to good people resulting in days when the letter L in your good luck turns into a gigantic letter F. 

Are you getting that its been a somewhat trying week for me?

Everyone has bad days. I am sure you have them too. Isn't it good then to know that there is an apple dumpling - preferably an apple dumpling topped with a huge scoop of dulce de leche ice-cream - for days like that? 

For those I-just-can't-deal-with-that-right-now-moments, what matters is that I've got my favourite song on continuous loop ....this

and friends who pass along recipes like this:-) 

Apple Dumplings
Makes 16 dumplings


3 Granny smith Apples ( peeled cored and sliced into about 8 pieces)
3 Gala apples (peeled cored and sliced)

2 (10oz cans) refrigerated crescent roll dough OR
shortcut pastry dough for two 9" inch pies  OR

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup water
1  12 fl oz  can Angostura Lemon Lime and Bitters ( or Mountain Dew)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two  9 X 13 inch baking dish

Peel, core and slice apples and set aside. 

Roll pastry dough into a large rectangle and cut into 16 squares.

Place 2 or 3 apple pieces (1 gala and 1) granny smith in each square  Fold and pinch edges to seal.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the nutmeg, sugar, water and cinnamon. Pour over the apple dumplings. Pour Angostora Lemon, Lime bitters over the dumplings.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Like I said I have been experimenting with this recipe. This is not the exact recipe that was given to me by my friend but somehow I'll always think of it as her recipe.