My Photo
Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

For Your Information

Please watch this area for important information like updates, food recalls, polls, contests, coupons, and freebies.

  • [January 2, 2015] - It's that time of year again! I'm doing a bit of tweaking then blogging. Enjoy!

  • Sticky Post - Warning: 4ever Recap reusable canning lids. The reports are growing daily of these lids losing their seal during storage. Some have lost their entire season's worth of canning to these seal failures!

Popular Posts

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Final Leg of Our Kitchen Renovations


 Kitchen Countertop, Sinks and Faucet
March 27, 2015

I have been battling some type of persistent virus for the past few weeks, right on the heels of renovating a spare room into a small home gym.  Every time I think I'm over it, another symptom hits with a wallop, knocking me back down.  Ginger, green tea and water have been my constant companions.  Finally, I caved in an saw my doctor who ordered numerous tests.  While ongoing, I am feeling much better ready to get back into my routine!

Just to keep things a bit more interesting while I was under the weather, our kitchen was torn apart once again for a full weekend in preparation for the granite countertop installation making it the third year in a row the kitchen has been torn apart.  While the main installation only took a day, it actually took a full week to get the kitchen back functional.  The new sink could not be plumbed for 24 hours but hubby couldn't get to it for a couple of days.  Then, the installers had to return to add the backsplash as we decided to keep the old tile on the wall.  During the first install date, they installed new sinks and granite countertop in the upper bathroom as well but plumbing went a little south.  Hubby was able to get one sink fully functional but we had to have a plumber in for the other. 

We replaced the microwave oven, faucet and sinks at the same time. There are still a few smaller projects to finish in the kitchen but this should be the final time for any major renovations. The only remaining features of the old kitchen are the floor, wall tile and refrigerator.  Everything else has been upgraded or changed in some way.  This past week the kitchen joined our home automation network adding to both function and aesthetics.  All in all, we are pleased with the kitchen renovations thus far!


Monday, March 16, 2015

Oh So Simple Mac 'n Cheese

Despite being Canada's favourite, I have never been a fan of Kraft Dinner aka KD.  Years ago our youngest who was about seven at the time, came home from a friends and proceeded to tell me about the wonderful macaroni and cheese his friend's mother had made.  It was in a 'really neat' blue box!  After I pulled my eyes out from the back of my head and picked myself up off the floor, I carried on making dinner while listening to him go on and on about this fantastic 'meal in a box'.  Occasionally, cave in and I would buy a couple of boxes of KD for the kids but our staple macaroni and cheese has always been from scratch, oven baked.  KD did find its way into our pantry during the y2K scare as part of our emergency preparedness

making easy mac and cheese
We were on the topic of food as we often are and the discussion turned to macaroni and cheese.  One of our kids swears by one pot, stove-top, creamy mac and cheese as her tried and true, kid approved family favourite.  Essentially this is an easy, versatile one pot method for cooking macaroni and cheese on the stovetop.  I've also heard of this method called the one-to-one because the portions are simply a 1:1 ratio.  I decided to try this method to see how it compared to the boxed and oven baked versions.

I did not follow the Todd and Diane's recipe exactly nor did I do an actual one-to-one.  I started with 1½ cup of half & half because I was out of milk then stirred in 1½ c of uncooked elbow macaroni and 1 tbsp butter.  I heated this mixture slowly while stirring adding in just enough extra half & half to keep the mixture runny while cooking.  When the macaroni was al denté, I stirred in 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Once the cheese was melted, the creamy macaroni and cheese was ready to be enjoyed!

easy mac and cheese
KD and other boxed macaroni and cheese dinners are not exactly health food.  Even if the organic brand is still a heavily processed food item.  There are preservatives but more importantly tartrazine, a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye derived from coal tar.  This synthetic dye has numerous side-effects ranging from allergic reactions to heart palpitations, OCD, and in severe cases, anaphylatic-like reactions.  The Oh So Simple Mac 'n Cheese, has just four ingredients: milk, pasta of choice, cheese of choice and butter (optional).  That's it!  There are no artificial ingredients.  The result is rich, creamy macaroni and cheese that is even easier to make than the boxed version with no extra packaging either.  It isn't a lot but that packet containing the powdered cheese mixture in boxed macaroni and cheese can't be recycled so ends up in the landfill.  The Oh So Simple Mac 'n Cheese tastes better than boxed and it definitely has a creamier texture.  It is just as quick to prepare.  Oh, and this macaroni and cheese actually works out less per serving than the boxed version!

Any milk can be used although milks with a heavier cream content will give a bit creamier flavour.  The butter really is optional.  I know it is supposed to be added to boxed macaroni and cheese, and I added it as well but the butter is really just for added flavour.  Any shredded cheese or combination of shredded cheese can be used.  I have it on good authority, aspiring chefs Little Miss C and Little Master A that aged white cheddar is the cheese to use!



Friday, March 06, 2015

Using the Cup Drawer on the Bunn My Cafe Single Cup Multi-Use Brewer

Last week I excitedly wrote about our new Bunn My Café MCU that replaced our failing Keurig B60.  The new Keurig 2.0 will not allow you to brew any other coffee except that packaged in their Keurig licensed K-cups despite their original hoopla that you could have the convenience of a single brew while enjoying your own coffee by using their My K-cup filter.  Unfortunately, that decision has turned a lot of faithful users against Keurig.  It doesn't help that the old machines are simply refusing to brew.  It also doesn't help that Keurig is getting a lot of negative publicity from the manufacturers of K-cup like pods and environmental groups.  At any rate, the Bunn My Café MCU has a drawer designed to use K-cups and off brand cups meant for Keurig machines. 

I have very few Keurig licensed K-cups.  The reason being both cost and recycle-ability.  I do however, have a several non-licensed K-cups especially the soft bottom cups that are 97% recycle-able. It's nice that I will be able to use these cups in the Bunn.

The cup drawer for the Bunn is easy to use.  Open the lid but do not try to remove the lid from the hinge.  Place your desired K-cup or similar into the cup holder (1).  Close the lid down onto the K-cup (2) then give it a firm push to puncture the lid on the K-cup (3).  When seated properly, the lid of the cup drawer will rest neatly against the bottom of the cup drawer.  Place the cup drawer onto the Bunn, snapping firmly in place (4).  Add water to the Bunn then press brew (5).  When finished brewing (6) remove the cup drawer and empty.  Rinse so that it is ready for the next time you want to brew.

I took this short video to show how the Bunn brews slightly different than the Keurig.  There is an option of the Bunn to use a pulse when brewing.  This is used when brewing loose tea or if you want a stronger flavoured coffee.  When the pulse is turned on, the bottom light is indicated by red.  I didn't use pulse for this cup of coffee.  Once the cup drawer was in place with the desired K-cup, I hit brew.  The most notable feature about the brewing is the final burst of hot water.  This results in a more flavourful cup of tea or coffee.  It does cause a small amount of splattering.  The important thing to remember is to not add too much water to the reservoir.  Make sure you leave enough space to account for this final blast of water!  This final blast of hot water occurs with all of the drawers although it is not as pronounced with the plain water drawer.


I remove the brewing drawer and rinse out after each use.  This way, the Bunn is ready for the next use.  Unlike the Keurig, there is no issue with your tea having a little coffee off-taste.  The reason being, the only time the puncture needles come into contact with coffee is when using the cup drawer.  Everything else is brewed using a different drawer.  I was concerned that there would be a bit of coffee off-taste in my herbal teas using the ground coffee drawer but so far that has not been a problem.  If you switch to the Bunn and have the My K-cup or other reusable filter meant for the Keurig machines, there is no need to use them.  Simply use the ground coffee drawer.  It is a lot easier to clean than the reusable Keurig filters!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Baked Salmon with Buttered Caper Sauce

Food like fashion follow trends.  Currently there is a trend towards healthy eating with a strong emphasis on anti-oxidants.  Anti-oxidants reduce or eliminate the damaging effects of free radicals in the body and the best source for anti-oxidants is your food.  The superfood for 2015 is capers!

Capers are the unripened flower buds of Capparis spinosa, a prickly, perennial bush indigenous to the Mediterranean.  The dark green buds are sun-dried then packed in vinegar brine.  Their tangy, briny, pickly flavour is best balanced against smooth, buttery or velvety flavours and textures.  My favourite way to enjoy capers is with cream cheese and smoked salmon on a bagel. 
 

salmon with buttered caper sauce
Capers are only 2 calories each (23 cal per 100 g).  They are rich in antioxidants (rutin, quercetin) , phytonutrients and vitamins.  Research suggests that quercetin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.  They may reduce risk for cancer, help with circulation, may lower blood pressure and reduce rheumatic pain. 

Capers are salty due to the brine.  This can be reduced by rinsing the capers in water before using if desired.  Capers pair beautifully with salmon as pictured in this simple buttered caper sauce we recently enjoyed.

Method:  Melt about 2 tbsp butter in fry pan.  Stir in 2 -3 tbsp chopped red onion, and cook until just translucent.  Stir in 1 - 2 tbsp rinsed capers. Warm through.  Spoon over baked salmon filets as desired.