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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.
  • [March 19, 2020] - Effective Mar 17, this blog will no longer accept advertising. The reason is very simple. If I like a product, I will promote it without compensation. If I don't like a product, I will have no problem saying so.
  • [March 17, 2020] - A return to blogging! Stay tuned for new tips, resources and all things food related.
  • [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! [Update: 4ever Recap appears to be out of business.]

Popular Posts

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!