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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 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
  • [February 1, 2016] - An interesting report on why you should always choose organic tea verses non-organic: Toxic Tea (pdf format)
  • 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!

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Taco Salad at Magnolia's

We eat a lot of salad anytime but when vacationing in Las Vegas I think we eat a bit more. It is one of the easiest ways to replenish some of the body water loss. There are so many salad variations to choose from that we never get bored. I just had try the taco salad at Magnolia's Veranda at the Four Queens. It was $5.95 with the player's card, $7.95 without.

Taco Salad

Taco salad is a family favourite served fairly often here. My version can be found here. Really the ingredients are fairly similar for any taco salad but as I found out, the presentation can vary greatly! The taco salad consisted of refried beans, seasoned beef, lettuce, green onions, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, black olives and green chili strips in a tortilla flowerette accompanied by salsa, sour cream and guacamole. The tortilla flowerette was very impressive! It held a lot more taco salad than any one person could eat unless they were extremely hungry.

The tortilla flowerette was deep fried into the shape of a bowl. It would have started out about 18" in diameter before frying. The bowl was about 4" deep on the shallow side and about 7" deep on the deep side. The bottom of the bowl was about 6" then widening nearing the top of the salad. The beef was very lightly seasoned and mixed with the refried beans forming the first layer inside the flowerette. Iceburg lettuce formed the main layer then was topped with black olives, green onions, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and green chili strips. There was ample sour cream, salsa and guacamole.

My only complaint with this salad is is lacked a bit more punch. For such a mouthwatering presentation I expected just a bit more flavour from the ground beef and salsa. Both were very, very mildly seasoned. I would have liked to see a bit of separation between the beef and refried bean simply by not mixing together. The guacamole was also lacking that lime sparkle. If they added just a bit more punch this would be a spectacular salad instead of a very good salad. This simply is a must have salad when in Las Vegas.

I am going to work on frying tortilla shells until I get a suitable but smaller duplicate for serving my version of taco salad in. I will post back on how I made the shells along with temperature and timing so please be sure to check back.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Firelight Buffet at Sam's Town Casino

We do a fair amount of travelling in Las Vegas especially on the weekends when the crowd increases exponentially downtown (Fremont Street). Fridays and Saturdays we head to the smaller out lying casinos. Friday (May 16, 2008) five of us (DH & myself, SIL, friends) headed to Sam's Town Casino. This really is one of my favourite casinos. The Sunset Stampede is quite impressive (video clip here). They make one of the best pina coladas in Las Vegas! We ended up eating at the Firelight Buffet courtesy of comps (aka free meals), pleasantly surprised at it being all you can eat seafood night. This was a $16.99 value per person for player's card holders, $17.99 value without the card. Non-alcoholic drinks are included with the meal.

Oysters

The Firelight Buffet has comfortable seating with friendly wait staff. Because it was an all you can eat seafood buffet, a large bucket was provided as well as seafood crackers. The buffet was loaded with seafood as well as other offerings but seafood was the main theme. One of the soups was clam chowder. There was an abundance of seafood including shrimp galore, oysters, steamed fish, breaded fish, calamari with the star being king crab legs. It was a seafood lover's dream come true. I think the only thing I didn't see on there was lobster tails but my husband said there was a lobster salad. What better way to start an all you can eat seafood dinner than with Caesar salad and oysters? The oysters were simply delightful.

Crab Legs

The star of the buffet was the king crab legs. Drawn butter was available for dipping the delectable crab meat in as were fresh lemon wedges. Those buckets were not on the table for nothing! I simply adore crab legs so ended up having a couple of servings, silently wishing I could eat just a bit more but even with seafood I tend not to go overboard. My husband is not a real crab meat lover or at least he wasn't even though he loves seafood so I was quite surprised to see him come back to the table with his plate loaded with crab legs. Well now, that meant a lot of photo opportunities and some of the pictures are priceless.

Hmmm, crab legs :)


Monday, May 26, 2008

Seasons Buffet at the Silverton Hotel and Casino

Note: The much awaited for kitchen renovations are now underway despite many setbacks. I will be posting a bit on our progress here with at least before and after images. If you are interested in following the renovation progress I will be posting on my homemaking blog, Garden Gnome at Home, beginning tonight and continuing as often as possible until the project is finished.

The food possibilites in Las Vegas are endless! Where else can you go to see a jazzed up neon sign for McDonald's if you are into fast food? You can go fast food, greasy spoons, mom & pop diners up to tux is required and everything in between. By far the most popular are the buffets especially if you are with a group of people. First they tend to be inexpensive and second you can do a lot of mixing and matching of foods keeping everyone happy. On the Thursday (May 15, 2008) of our trip we (our friends and us) decided to do a little touring. Trust me on this one a rental car is a must in Las Vegas allowing you to see so much more. We stopped at the Silverton Hotel and Casino and because we had a two-for-one coupon in our American Casino Guide, we decided to try out their Seasons Buffet. The buffet is $13.99 per person Sunday to Thursday and $19.99 per person Friday and Saturday. Their lunch buffet is $8.99 and they offer a Sunday brunch for $16.99. The two-for-one coupon is good for any of their buffets.

Seasons Buffet is impressive to say the least. It has a very warm and welcoming decor with just enough glamour to make you feel pampered. The seating is very comfortable and the tables are simply gorgeous! The staff is very friendly and they don't mind you taking pictures of the food either. It really is a lovely dining experience there so if you are in Las Vegas be sure to make a stop there.

Sausage Medley

The sights and smells of the large Las Vegas buffets are amazing! While I don't ask to take pictures of my individual plates, I do ask when I see something that is impressive on the buffet or if restaurant staff will be in the photo. I have managed to get some lovely pictures this way as well as chat with servers to get those little foodie tips I so love!

I could not resist taking a picture of this mouth watering sausage medley. While I did not eat any myself because I was not feeling well, the aroma was simply enticing! The sausages were cooked in a medley of carrots, onions, sweet and hot peppers and spices. Rosemary sprigs on each corner of the almost two and a half foot hot plate hinted at the flavours. This is one dish I am going to try duplicating at home.

Spinach Salad

As mentioned before most Las Vegas buffets include salad offerings ranging from salad greens and vegetables to prepared salads. Seasons Buffet differed in the salad offering with a bit more emphasis on salad greens and salad vegetables but there was also a nice choice of prepared salads.

I settled on baby spinach greens topped with alphalfa sprouts, black olives, cherry tomatoes and red kidney beans. My choice of dressing was thousand island. It was a rather plain salad but quite tasty. Of course there were a lot of other topping available including the standard croutons something I rarely put on salads.

I do have to comment on their plates. They were quite large and in buffet style were heated. They reminded me a lot of Fiesta ware, a dinnerware line that began in 1936. It remains popular with some pieces (retired colours) being collectibles. I have several pieces in my dinnerware collection so these just felt homey and comforting to me. I liked the green while my husband migrated towards the yellow, an excellent match for his sunny disposition.

Turkey Breast

I kept my meal choice rather bland since I wasn't feeling well. I has sushi as an appetizer but the picture didn't come out well. I settled on roasted turkey breast with a little gravy on the side, peas and carrots, a pepper and onion medley and a half cob of corn, chosen because the yellow was bright and cheery. Now remember when I said some foods do not do as well on buffets? Well, half or quarter cobs of corn are popular on a lot of the Las Vegas buffets. What they do is cook the corn on the cob then but then into large chafing dishes with buttered water. You do have to check though because some will use margarine instead of butter. Anyway the end result is the corn is very similar in texture and flavour to canned corn. I don't care for canned corn even though I always can up a case but that gets used for soups and stews instead of heating and heating as a vegetable side. So, that beautiful looking piece of corn on the cob really didn't taste all that great. Surprisingly the peas and carrots were quite good, obviously canned but not mushy like most carrots tend to be on the buffets. The pepper and onion medley was quite nice. The turkey was moist and tasty. I rounded out my meal with a bowl of mixed melon pieces.

Prime Rib

My husband just adores prime rib and if it is still mooing that's even better. Seriously he does know just about every place in Las Vegas that serves prime rib the way he likes it. He also knows where to get the best steaks cooked to his specifications. There is no accounting for his taste combinations sometimes but buffets do that to you. The macaroni and cheese was likely a "I need that" and the mini pizza that was a chef's special and we did chat with the chef was an "I got to try that" and the ribs and mashed potatoes was a "just because". What I found interesting was his choice of roasted garlic. It's not like he is a stranger to roasted garlic by any stretch of the imagination but to put a whole head of roasted garlic on his plate then proceed to eat it with much gusto simply pulled from the head so that was something new. It would appear I will be serving roasted garlic as a side now.

Chinese

As he wandered the buffet offerings and not feeling up to another helping of prime rib, he settled upon sweet and sour chicken balls with stir fried rice and shrimp noodles. The chicken balls were quite tasty as I had to sample just a little. Following this he ended his meal with a slice of cherry pie and ice cream.

Seasons Buffet much like many of the other Las Vegas buffets did not disappoint. Our meals came with bottomless water and soft drinks. I will highly recommend getting at least one glass of water. Their service was very friendly and the atmosphere made you feel comfortable. The food was good as well so it was a win-win all the way around.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Buffet at the Golden Nugget

Las Vegas made the buffet famous! Most casinos have a least one restaurant that serves a buffet of some type. Some are larger, more elabourate than others and the food quality will differ from buffet to buffet. Buffets start around the $12 per person mark or less and considering they are all you can eat, they are a good value for your food dollar. When going to Las Vegas be sure to buy a copy of the current American Casino Guide as there are two for one coupons for many of the buffets as well as coupons for a lot of other savings. It is $16.95 but will easily pay for itself within the first day or two. Be sure to get a player's card for each casino and always show your card to be rated if playing table games. Many casinos will comp your meal depending on your table play often including your partner as well. Finally, before going to Las Vegas do a good deal on online research for food options. Many casino restaurants have their menus online but what you will also find out is some casino restaurants offer a special that is not on their menu or advertised other than by word of mouth. This will help you devise a food budget for your trip and get the best value for your food dollar. We have made several trips where the only money we spent for food was at one casino offering an unadvertised special that I will post on one such special shortly.

Shrimp

Vegas buffets generally include salads, seafood, meats, poultry, vegetables, fruits, deserts and breads. A bottomless non-alcoholic drink comes with the meal and some buffets offer complimentary wine. Peel and eat shrimp seems to appear on just about every buffet. The shrimp is always good size for dipping in shimp cocktail sauce. Lemon wedges are usually offered along with the shrimp. While most of the dishes are self-serve there is a meat cutter for the roast beef, turkey, prime rib and steak. Yes, they do have all you can eat steak buffets as well but usually on certain days. There is also all you can eat seafood buffets on certain days. I'll post on both of these later. Some buffets offer a variety of cuisines as well and some of these can be quite good. The dinner buffet at the Golden Nugget Casino is $17.99 per person on weekdays and $20.99 per person on weekends. The Buffet also offers a breakfast ($9.99) and lunch buffet ($10.99) Monday through Saturday with a brunch buffet ($17.99) on Sundays. The Las Vegas buffets usually offer a variety of cuisine as well giving you the opportunity to try other dishes.

Ribs with Collard Greens

The Buffet was quite varied and I did not take enough pictures to show it at its best. The decor is quite pretty with a lot of mirrors and lights. The seating is very comfortable and the service is excellent. I started off with a tossed salad made with salad greens topped with cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, thousand island dressing, sunflower seeds and black olives. My entre was meaty barbequed ribs in a tangy sauce, green beans, carrots and collard greens. Now green beans seem to tolerate buffet conditions well but carrots do not. It's hard to get carrots on a buffet that are not water logged. These carrots were borderline but the beans were nicely cooked with still a bit of crunch. I decided to try collard greens that one of our friends insisted was just fancied up spinach.

Collard greens are a member of the cabbage family, closely related to kale. They are popular in the southern states, often being referred to as mess o' greens because of the quantity. Collard greens are usually simmered slowly with a piece salt pork or ham hock to smooth any bitterness. They are served with fresh baked corn bread to dip into the pot-likker, the resulting highly concentrated, vitamin-filled broth. I have not seen collard greens in the stores here so will be adding them to the garden this year. I'm a bit late planting but it's been a cool spring so I still have plenty of time. This is one side dish I am going to make at home, tweaking until I get it similar to what was on the buffet. Texturally the collard greens differed from the often served steamed spinach or Swiss chard and unlike both which usually get a little butter and salt only, the collard greens had other flavours going on. Bright flecks of carrot dotted the collard greens along with bits of onion. I'm sure they were cooked with ham hock too. They were also seasoned somewhat lightly Cajun so that will be the trick to figure out. Once I figure out a recipe that works I will post it here.

Strawberries

Las Vegas is likely one of the only places a person can drink alcoholic beverages 24/7/365, always free flowing as long as you are gambling. Non-alcoholic beverages are also free flowing compliments of the casino. The problem is alcohol is a dieuretic as are tea and coffee. This is a bad combination in Las Vegas because your body is already losing a lot of water because you are in a desert. Folks forget that. It is essential when visiting Las Vegas to drink at least eight 8 - ounce glasses of water daily. Increase that amount if you are above average weight or height. For that reason our drink choice tends to be water with meals and we load up on both salad greens and fruits since both contain a good amount of water.

Strawberries and watermelon are two items that are commonly found on the Las Vegas buffets, likely because folks like them. They are an excellent refreshing choice for adding both nutrition and water without adding a lot of calories. So when you are in Las Vegas skip those tempting, calorie laden deserts and opt instead for a bowl of fruit for dessert. You body will thank-you :)


Friday, May 23, 2008

Breakfast at Magnolia's Veranda

We are back from our vacation in Las Vegas so the next few posts will be a combination of what we ate, what I've already tried at home and what I want to try duplicating. We don't eat a lot of hot breakfasts at home other than perhaps a few Sundays so when we are on vacation we like to indulge. As always our food choices tend towards homestyle meals. The food serving sizes including breakfast in Las Vegas are huge by most standards but at the same time the prices are very low. We normally eat a large breakfast and a large dinner, skipping lunch entirely most days.

Ham & Sunny Side-up Eggs

We were staying at the Four Queens as we normally do. I love it in the old downtown area and feel quite safe walking around by myself. The Four Queens offers a variety of dining options including Hugo's Cellar, Magnolia's Veranda, Chicago Brewing Company, Queens Coffee & Deli, Subway, Dreyer's and Nobel Roman's Pizza. Hugo's Cellar has been the Reader's Choice since 1991, offering a gourmet dining experience. Magnolia's overlooks the gaming floor and offers home style meals so is our main choice when eating at the Four Queens. The Chicago Brewery Company also overlooks the gaming floor. Their pizza is quite lovely as is their hand crafted micro brews. All menus are available in pdf format for downloading on the Four Queens website. As with most casinos, the meals may be complimentary (comped) depending on your play.

Magnolia's serves a nice ham steak and egg breakfast. It comes with choice of toast, biscuit or English muffin, hash brown potatoes, two eggs, large ham steak and coffee. Like many of their meals it is served on a platter style plate with very little of the plate showing. For $6.95 it is a substantial and filling meal but if you have a player's card, the price is only $4.95.

Poached Eggs & Country Fried Steak

My husband loves his eggs poached which is just fine with me as they are low fat due to their cooking method. However, he paired them with country fried steak and a white gravy. He first discovered this white gravy while traveling in the southern states. It's normally made from sausage drippings then served with bisquits. He loved it so much that I experimented to make it at home but I make it without using a rue. Much to his dismay, I only make it a couple of times a year. That way it stays a bit of a treat. This is a rich, thick gravy (recipe follows) sure to please.

Country fried steak is simply steak coated with the same bread coating that you would put on chicken. It is a southern dish usually made with tenderized round steak that is breaded then fried in hot fat until the coating is crispy. I'm not sure where the dish originated although there has been speculation that the dish first appeared in print in 1952. Magnolia's serves the homemade country fried steak with two eggs, hash brown potatoes, country gravy and choice of English muffin, biscuit or toast. At $7.95 it is another good bargain. There is no player's club discount for this meal.

Sausage Gravy

4 sausage links
1 tbsp butter
2 c milk
1 tbsp flour
fresh ground pepper

Melt the butter in a medium hot pan. Fry the sausage in the butter until well cooked, breaking the links into small pieces as it fries. Stir in all but 1/4 c of the milk. Stir the remaining milk into the flour to form a slurry. Slowly and while still stirring, stir the slurry into the sausage mixture. Cook until thickened (less than 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Stir and serve.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cooking Humour


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sun Tea


Sun Tea Brewing

One of our favourite summer drinks is ice tea and I don't mean that sugar with a hint of tea drink I mean real ice tea. We go through a lot of it so it is quite common to see a pitcher of sun tea brewing daily during the warm months. There really isn't much to making sun tea. Basically you put the tea bags in a pitcher, pour water over top then set it in the sun. But why have plain old sun tea when you can kick it up a notch? I absolutely insist on using Red Rose tea. Sorry this is a Canadian product although I have heard tell it is being distributed in the US in some areas. If you can't find this tea use a fine quality orange pekoe tea as a substitute. This tea packs a lot of punch without adding calories.

Method: Place three tea bags in a large pitcher. Add ½ sliced lemon, two spring lemon balm and two sprigs mint. Fill to the top with water. Cover. Place in direct sun for 2 to 3 hours. Put the pitcher into the refrigerator.

To Serve: Pour into a tall glass over ice cubes. Find the nearest shade tree. Sit down and enjoy :)


Monday, May 19, 2008

Canning Spaghetti Sauce with Meat

Like most folks I enjoy using convenience foods from time to time. Unlike many I tend to make a lot of my own convenience foods. I've mentioned the quick meal starts I keep on hand in the freezer as well as various convenience foods I can. A couple of months ago I made a large batch of spaghetti sauce with meat . When I say large I mean about 22 quarts. Normally I make this size when doing up several trays of lasagna for the freezer. Any remaining sauce is froze for later use. This time I made the sauce for fresh eating with the full intentions of canning some of it. Why? If we were happy with the results then it would make a nice convenience product for my pantry.

Home Canned Spaghetti Sauce with Meat

Anytime I can something for the first time, I do a small batch test run. This is not for the canning process itself but rather as a quality test as to whether we like the final product. That way I can do any necessary tweaking or decide whether or not to can more based on the results. I did a test run for canning my homemade spaghetti sauce with meat. What I'm looking for in a test run is how the food reacts to canning. Some foods will change which will affect the way the food is used later. So I'm looking for flavour, consistency, texture, colour and quality. How the food looks in the jar is important as well because we eat with our eyes first. The food should visually beg to be tasted!

The test run of the spaghetti sauce with meat was six 500 ml (pint) jars processed according to the method below which follows the Ball Blue Book using my own homemade spaghetti sauce with meat. After processing the sauce was stored for a little over a month before opening and testing. I have to say I am impressed with the results. There was very little change due to the canning process.

Method: Prepare the sauce. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1 - inch headspace. Wipe the rims. Adjust the two piece lids. Process at 10 lbs pressure, 1 hr for 500 ml (pint) or 75 minutes for 1 L (quart) at altitudes up to 1,000 ft above sea level. For higher altitudes adjust pressure according to the chart found here.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Well, you just can't get any easier than this for a meal! I cooked spaghetti to al dente in salted water with a little olive oil, then drained. Anytime you use cooked tomatoes always add just a smidgen of olive oil as it releases the lycopenes from the tomatoes making them accessible to your body aka olive oil makes tomatoes healthier for you. At the same time I warmed two jars of the sauce in a saucepan on the stove. Sorry but I'm not a huge microwave fan as I do think it changes the flavour of some things. I ladled the sauce onto the hot spaghetti then garnished with fresh grated Parmesan and black pepper. Served with a tossed salad the whole meal was ready in less than 15 minutes! Oh and my husband thought I had made the sauce that day so this will be one sauce I will be canning up a lot of.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cabbage Rolls

I think everyone has a favourite recipe for making cabbage rolls. I don't really have a recipe per se but the secret to mine is using roasted tomato sauce. This is one of our favourite sauces so I can a lot of it. Roasted tomato sauce is perfect for so many dishes. In cabbage rolls, it lends a depth and richness you won't find with store bought sauces.

Cabbage Rolls

Originally this post was to be a step-by-step pictorial of how to make cabbage rolls. Unfortunately some of the pictures were not editable so I'm just going to tell you how I make cabbage rolls.

Method: Cook 1 cup of rice in a rice cooker then set aside. While the rice is cooking, brown 1 lb of lean ground beef, drain and stir in 1 small chopped onion and continue cooking until the onion is translucent. Mix the beef mixture with the rice then pour in one 500 ml (pint) jar of home canned unseasoned stewed tomatoes and 250 ml (half pint) of roasted tomato sauce. Cover the mixture and set aside.

Wash one head of cabbage. Bring a large stock pot filled about ⅔ full will water to a boil. Place the head of cabbage into the boiling water. As leaves begin to become translucent, pull the head of cabbage from the water and remove the leaves. Return cabbage to boiling water and repeat until you have enough leaves for the casserole. Pour about 250 ml of sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish to cover. I use a 9" x 9" but you can use larger. Place a couple of tablespoons of the rice mixture into the centre of a leaf. Fold both sides over the filling then starting at the edge near you form a roll. Place the roll into the casserole dish. Continue in this fashion until the casserole dish is filled, approximately 8 for the size mentioned. Pour roasted tomato sauce over the rolls to cover. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350ºF until warmed through and cheese is bubbly.

Serves 4


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Snack Attack


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Easy Beef Stroganoff

Some of the best meals are simply made using basic ingredients, nothing fancy, just basic old fashioned home cooking. These recipes usually evolve from what's on hand and sometimes from how to stretch a little into a lot. At the same time they can be quite inexpensive and quick to prepare. These type of meals tend to become family favourites.

Easy Beef Stroganoff

Don't let the simple ingredients fool you. My easy beef stroganoff is rich and creamy. It is quick and easy to prepare, sure to please. A lower fat version can be made by substituting skim milk for the cream and using low fat sour cream. Don't omit the sour cream entirely as it adds to the flavour as does the butter.

Easy Beef Stroganoff

1½ lb stew beef
1 small onion, diced
2 c sliced mushrooms
2 tins (284 ml/10 oz) condensed mushroom soup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ c cream
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp Montreal Steak seasoning
½ c beef stock
olive oil
1 tbsp butter
parsley
375 g (13 oz) bag broad egg noodles

Fill a large sauce pan with water to about 3 inches from the top. Add salt and a splash of olive oil. Bring to a boil. Stir in egg noodles. Cook noodles until al dente*.

While noodles are cooking: Heat oil in heavy fry pan. Sear the stew beef in the hot oil. Remove from heat. Cut any larger pieces into bite size. Return to pan. Add onions, Worcestershire sauce and steak seasoning. Cook until onions are translucent. Reduce heat. Stir in mushrooms and butter. Continue cooking until mushrooms are lightly browned. Stir in mushroom soup and beef stock. Heat through. Stir in cream and sour cream. Ladle over hot broad egg noodles. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 6

* al dente - means to the tooth. When cooked to al dente the pasta should have a slight resistance in the centre when chewed.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Preserving Food Humour

I thought you would enjoy this little video clip:



Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Golden Puffs

When our kids were younger, the weekends became the time for hot breakfasts and special treats. One of the treats I used to make quite often were Golden Puffs. I wanted a breakfast type snack to take with us on the first leg of our vacation so turned to this tried and true family favourite.

These light, puffy, golden doughnut-like little treasures are sure to please. Fried to a crispy coating with soft insides then rolled in seasoned sugar, well it just doesn't get much better! They are quick and easy to make but just be sure to make extras as trust me on this one, there won't be any left behind!

Golden Puffs

2c unbleached flour
¼ c organic sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
¼ c vegetable oil
¾ c milk
1 egg

½ c organic sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat oil to 375ºF/190ºC in deep fryer. Mix dry ingredients together except for the last two ingredients. Mix wet ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients on speed 2 of KitchenAid stand mixer. Beat until smooth. Drop bater by teaspoonful* into hot fat. Fry four or five at a time about 3 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Drain.

Stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Roll the warm puff in this mixture.

Yield: 2 dozen

* too large and the puffs will not cook through


Monday, May 12, 2008

Vacation Plans

Dear Readers, when we go on vacation you are used to seeing the "'puter on vacation" image and this blog going inactive until we return. This time I decided to do two things differently. Thanks to Blogger's new scheduling option, I've worked quite hard to give you a few scheduled posts for reading during my absence. That means I created these posts before leaving but have each scheduled to go online on different dates. By the time you read this post, we will be well on our way. I hope you enjoy them. The second difference is as a new owner of an iPod Touch I will be able to stay in touch with blog comments, emails and may even make a blog post while away. Although I won't be online much, this will be a nice change for when I want a little personal down time. The iPod Touch will be a lot easier to travel with than the laptop as well.

I will be posting foods from our vacation so do be sure to continue reading. To my EC friends, I won't be dropping as much during our vacation but will make up for it upon return.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day 2008

Happy Mother's Day


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Caesar Salad

Caesar salad is one of those simple salads that appears on most restaurant menus. The original Caesar salad recipe was created in Mexico. The dressing did not have anchovies and Romano was used instead of Parmesan cheese. Most Caesar salad dressing recipes now have anchovies (optional) and Parmesan cheese. Some restaurants serve a version of Caesar salad made with a non-creamy dressing. Bacon pieces and chicken are popular additions. Caesar salad with chicken has also been used in wraps. In most restaurants it tends to be a bit over priced considering the ingredients and simplicity but remains a popular choice.

Romaine lettuce (1) is the lettuce of choice for Caesar salad. This easy to grow lettuce is rich in vitamins A and C. It has a nice flavour as well as being crispy. One of my biggest complaints with many greens based salads served at restaurants is the ingredients are not cut to the proper bite size.

Method: Wash the lettuce and pat dry (1). Place the lettuce on a cutting board with the long side facing you (1). Starting at one side, make a cut along the side about one inch from outer edge running from the base to the tip of the head of lettuce (2). Place your knife about one inch from the first cut and make another cut from base to tip. Continue making one inch wide cuts the length until you reach the other outer edge. Starting about one inch from the outer edge of the tip, cut across the strips you just formed. Continue in this manner until you reach about 2 inches from the end of the head. Place your pieces onto a dry, clean tea towel. Pat then put into mixing bowl.

My preferred dressing for Caesar salad is Renee's Gourmet Caesar made with fresh, natural ingredients. It contains no preservatives, no hydrogenated oils, no MSG and made with pasteurized eggs. It is found in the refrigerated produce section of many Canadian grocery stores. This dressing must be kept refrigerated even if the jar is unopened. Renee's Gourmet dressings and dips are distributed in Canada only. Renee's Gourmet Foods purchased A1 Steak Sauce® July 28, 1999 and produces A1 Steak Sauce® for Canadian distribution only. A1 Steak Sauce® sold in the US is made by Kraft Foods.

Many people are often confused when travelling or moving from Canada to the United States and visa versa. Aside from some products simply distributed in one country but not another can be frustrating as they struggle to find a suitable replacement. At the same time familiar brands often have subtle differences in taste between the two countries. I will discuss this more in a future post.

As salads go Caesar salad is inexpensive to make at home. It When making this salad (4) be sure to use fresh grated Parmesan cheese, real bacon pieces, fresh lemons and fresh ground black pepper. It really does make a difference! I also like to add a few homemade sourdough croutons. For a complete meal, add a sliced grilled boneless, skinless chick breast fanned over the top of the salad. Garnish with lemon slices.

Caesar Salad

1 head prepared romaine lettuce
1 c Renee's Gourmet Caesar dressing
½ c fresh grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup bacon pieces
1 whole lemon, cut into wedges
homemade croutons (optional)
fresh grated black peppercorn

Fry the bacon until crisp. Drain well and set aside. Mix the dressing with the lettuce just before serving. Top each individual salad with bacon pieces, a good pinch of fresh grated Parmesan cheese and homemade croutons. Sprinkle lightly with fresh grated black peppercorn. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Serves 6