Blueberry Surprise (Banana Bread with Blueberries)

Blueberry Surprise (Banana Bread with Blueberries)

I found this recipe in a book a friend gave me that had short stories followed by recipes. (Yes, she knows me well!) We almost finished the loaf before I remembered to take a picture. I did not do the step of lining the pan with waxed paper, but the bread stuck to a greased loaf pan. So next time I will do it.

          Recipe in story of the same name by Wanda E. Brunstetter

1/3 c butter, softened
2/3 c honey (I substituted Karo syrup)
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 ¼ c flour
2 t baking powder
½ t salt
¼ t baking soda
1 c blueberries

Cream butter and honey until fluffy. Add eggs, beating well. Add bananas and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, mixing thoroughly. Fold in blueberries.

Line 9x5-inch loaf pan with waxed paper. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at  350˚ for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool, remove from pan, and gently pull away the waxed paper.


Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad - original plus my version

I've been working on using up some free food we were gifted and have stumbled across a few ingredients I don't normally use.  One such ingredient was canned black eyed peas.  Scoured the internet for easy and yummy sounding recipes (cause I don't have time for anything besides easy...and yummy is a must!).  I found this great looking recipe for Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad and decided to try it.  I think the original recipe would be tasty...but there were a few ingredients I didn't want to purchase on this weeks grocery budget - so I modified it...a lot!

If you want to try the original:

- 1 15-19 ounce can beans such as chickpeas, black eyed peas, or kidney beans, rinsed
- 2 5 to 6 ounce cans chunk tuna, drained and flaked
- 1 large red bell pepper, finally diced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 4 teaspoons capers, rinsed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, divided
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 cups mixed salad greens

Combine beans, tuna, bell pepper, onion, parsley, capers, rosemary, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl. Season with pepper. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil and salt in a large bowl. Add salad greens; toss to coat. Divide the greens among 4 plates. Top each with the tuna salad.

If you want to try my version:

My version - seems to be a hit!
In one bowl: 
Make tuna salad from 4 cans chunk tuna, drained.   I used mayo, mustard, and dill pickle relish (when I make it again I'll probably do more tuna cause it went quick! and none for seconds)

In another bowl combine: 
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 can of  black eyed peas, rinsed
- 1 large red bell pepper, finally diced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 tomatoes finely diced
- 1/2 cucumber, finely diced
- a couple shakes of dried parsley
-  a couple shakes of dried rosemary
- juice of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

I thought it was a little bland, so added a little bit of green olives diced with some of their juice, a little sprinkle of sugar, and a couple splashes of apple cider vinegar, and the last little splash of balsamic dressing from the fridge...when I make it again I think I'll just go with the balsamic dressing and make it easier!

On each plate, layer mixed salad greens, a generous helping of the veggies (with some of the juice), and top with a scoop of tuna.  

I served garlic/cheese toast beside.

Happy Pantry Cooking!

Easy Baked Custard

If you like creamy, custardy desserts - this is a MUST try.

My mom used to make this pretty frequently when I was a child, but I haven't made it in years.  An excessive amount of eggs sent me hunting for things to make using lots of eggs without having to make a run to the grocery story.  Thus, I rediscovered this gem.

If my aunt hadn't needed her other hand to take the picture, I think this would have gotten two thumbs up!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Cream together:
- 2 tablespoons soften butter
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Add 6 eggs, one at a time, blending well after each egg.

Slowly and briefly stir in:
-2 cups plus 2 tablespoons milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla

I just added all of the milk and vanilla to my two cup wet measuring cup, turned my mixer down to one notch above stir, slowly poured the milk mixture in, and turned the mixer off as soon as I'd finished pouring.

Place one large pan, a couple medium/small pans, or individual custard cups into bigger baking pans (I used my 9x13 pans) and fill with custard mixture.  Add an inch or two of hot water to bigger baking pans.

Bake at 400 for 10 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 325 degrees F (without opening oven) and bake until knife comes out clean - approximately 45 minutes.  I've never tried the individual custard cups, so don't know if that would take less time.

I like to eat it chilled.

Lentil Curry

Lentils. I have to confess that the thought of eating lentils has never filled me with glee. Mostly I find them bland and vaguely repulsive – suitable only for vegans who have already sold their taste buds to the devil in exchange for a sallow, unhealthy appearance. 

But, people argue passionately, they are so high in fiber and protein! And nutrients! 
To which I reply with an emphatic, “whatever.” Because no matter how excruciatingly healthy something is, I’m not going to actually eat it unless it tastes good.

This story has a point (and a recipe) somewhere, I’m pretty sure.

I’ve had a bag of green lentils in my pantry for about six months. My sister gave me a sausage and lentil soup recipe that I’ve been meaning to try but as it is summer here in the US, I’m not in a raging hurry to fix soup for dinner.

Instead, I stumbled upon a lentil curry recipe that I had at least half of the ingredients for. And Oh.My.Gosh you guys. This is amazeballs. You can find the actual recipe here (which I imagine is pretty good). The following recipe is what I actually did.

I guess the moral of this story is, don’t judge a food by its terrible vegans.

And the other moral would be, go easy on the cayenne or you’ll kill your children mouths.

And the final moral goes a little something like: seriously, make this and get it in your face asap!

Serves 8
1 bag (about 2 ½ cups) lentils, rinsed well
1 medium onion, diced
3 T butter (or oil)
1 ½ T garam masala
2 generous T cumin
A few good shakes of cayenne pepper (next time I will do one gentle shake)
1 T minced garlic
1 t sea salt
1 can tomato sauce
1 can coconut milk
Cilantro/coriander leaves for garnishing
Rice for serving

  1. Cook lentils according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant and golden. Add all the spices (garam masala, cumin, cayenne, garlic and salt) and stir fry for 1-2 minutes (add a little vegetable oil if it looks too dry). Add the tomato sauce, stir and simmer until smooth.
  3. Add the lentils and the coconut milk. Stir to combine and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.
As with all curries, it is even better the next day!

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken


In crock pot or ziplock:
- 3lbs boneless skinless chicken
- 1 tablespoon paprika (I just sprinkled in a bit)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder (I just sprinkled in a bit.  Could use minced cloves)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 bottle favorite BBQ sauce

Day of cooking:
- add 1 cup of beer

Cook time: 6 to 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: Shred chicken and serve on kaiser rolls.  Great topped with cole slaw

Optional: If sauce too soupy (mine was), strain sauce into a small pan, add thickener (such as corn starch) and boil till the sauce reaches desired consistency.

Baby approved!

Crock Pot Freezer Meals Part 3

Here are a few more of my favorite crock pot freezer meals (click here for Part 1 and Part 2)


In crock pot or zip lock:
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 can rotel
- 4 (16 oz) cans black beans
- 16 oz frozen corn
- 1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (can use fresh minced)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- OPTIONAL: 2 large chicken breasts

(I eyeball the spices and adjust to the taste buds of my family)

Day of cooking:
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth

Cook time: 6 to 8 hours LOW

(if used chicken, shred it before serving)

Serving suggestion: cheese, sour cream, favorite chili toppings.


In crock pot or zip lock:

-  1 lb skinless chicken tenders or breasts
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can rotel
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Cook time: 4 to 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestions: Shred chicken and serve with corn taco shells and favorite taco toppings and/or slaw.

For slaw:
- 1 1/3 cups shredded red cabbage
- OPTIONAL: 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste


In crock pot or zip lock:
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- OPTIONAL: 3 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup + 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3/4 cup rice vinegar (also called rice wine vinegar)
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Mix well then add:
- 6 pounds beef

Cook time: 6 to 10 hours LOW  (remove sauce and thicken on stove.  Replace sauce to serve)

Serving suggestion: soft corn or flour tortillas, sour cream, and slaw (also good if you fry the soft corn tortillas)

For slaw:
- 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- couple pinches of salt
- - pinch red pepper flakes
-2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- OPTIONAL: 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
- OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

To toast sesame seeds, heat a small pan over medium heat.  Add the sesame seeds and stir for about 4 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic.  Remove immediately and set aside.  In a small bowl, mix vinegar, sugar, and salt.  Add onions, mix and let stand about 15 minutes.  Combine remaining ingredients, reserving sesame seeds until just before serving.  Can be made a few hours ahead and kept in fridge, sans sesame seeds.

Crock Pot Freezer Meals Part 2

Here are a few more of my favorite crock pot freezer meals (click here for part 1


In crock pot or zip lock add:
- 2lbs boneless skinless chicken (thighs, breasts, or combo)
- 2 (10.5oz) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 (10.5oz) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Cook time: 8  to 10 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: over rice or noodles.

Optional variety: add a little spice or frozen broccoli...can garnish with shredded cheese.


- 12 to 14 oz sliced kielbasa sausage
- 1 onion diced
-  3 garlic cloves minced (can use more or less to taste.  Sometimes when I'm in a hurry I just use garlic powder)

Add browned meat mixture to crock pot or zip lock along with:
- 2 cups lentils
- 2 carrots (peeled and diced)
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes

Season with favorite Italian spices (I use parsley, oregano, and basil)

Day of cooking: add 2 quarts of water to crock pot.  (can use less if you want it less soupy)

Cook time: 4 to 5 hours HIGH or 8 to 10 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: fresh bread or rice

Serves: 6


- 1lb sausage (can use ground turkey and season)
- 1 onion diced

Drain meat and add to crock pot or zip lock along with:
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1.5 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 can rotel
- 1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

Cook time: 4 to 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: shredded cheese over rice

Serves: 4 to 6

Crock Pot Freezer Meals Part 1

I keep forgetting to take pictures of these - so I haven't been posting the recipes.  Finally decided to just post the recipes and try and remember to upload pictures later!

A few notes:
1. Any of these can be assembled in the crock pot the day of.

2. If you assemble the ingredients ahead of time and put them in the freezer, they can be put in the crock pot frozen or you can thaw them out prior to putting them in the crock pot.  If you want to just throw everything in froze (EASY PEASY!), put the zip lock in some hot water for a few minutes to get the bag unstuck from the ingredients.

3. For easy morning prep, label your zip locks with the name of the recipe, cooking time, and any extra items that need to be added to the crock pot.  This is also super helpful if you forget to start the crock pot in the morning and ask you 16 year old son to do it when he's home from school on his lunch hour...not that I would have ANY experience with that ;-)

4. I've found most of these recipes online, and have modified them to my families tastes.  Feel free to follow to a T or be creative!

5. I've found that when stocking the freezer with meals, it's best to chose a few recipes with lots of chopping and a few that don't involve much chopping that way you can do a bunch without killing yourself.


In crock pot or zip lock add:
- 2 lbs bone-in or boneless chicken (I like thighs, but you can use whatever kind your family prefers)
- 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 4 cloves garlic minced (or more depending on how much you like garlic! If I'm in a hurry, I just use garlic powder)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- OPTIONAL: 1 can pineapple chunks

Day of cooking: Add 1/2 cup chicken broth

Cook time: 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestions: cooked white or brown rice and green veggies (can top with sesame seeds)

Serves: 4 to 6


In crock pot or zip lock add:
- 2 lbs boneless ribs (I've also used bone in and it was yummy!)
- 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce

Cook time: 8 to 10 hours LOW

Serving suggestions: mashed potatoes, veggies, or favorite BBQ sides

Serves: 4


In crock pot or zip lock add:
- 2.5 to 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken (breast or thighs or combo)
- 16 oz jar of favorite salsa
- OPTIONAL: sprinkle in some cumin and lime juice to kick up the flavor

Cook time: 6 to 8 hours on LOW

Serving suggestions: use as meat for rice bowls, tacos, enchiladas, nachos, or burritos

Serves: 4 to 8 or more, depending on how it's used after cooking

Freezer Lunches

I've been making burritos of various kinds (mainly breakfast and rice and bean) for a while now.  The boys all love how easy they are to pull out for lunches or snacks before/after practices.  Lately, I've made the discovery that leftovers are too difficult to pull out of the fridge to eat, but stick them in a tortilla and BAM lunch!  Here's a little tutorial on how I do it.

What to do with leftover mashed potatoes and peas?  Mix them up...

Top with leftover meat and some shredded cheese...

OR take some sausages out of the freezer (I get manager's special meat, so I often have little bits of various things) and pan fry and top the mash with the sausages and cheese.  Wrap them up and put them in foil or a Ziplock. And freeze!

Another thing I sometimes get cheap with the manager's special meat is ground sausage.  Brown it and add to cooked scrambled eggs (today I did 1lb meat to 12 eggs...but any ratio works).

Place the mixture in tortillas along with salsa, shredded cheese, and sour cream.  Wrap up and place in foil or Ziplocks. And Freeze!!

What to do with leftover beef and cream cheese?  Cut them up.

Add to scrambled eggs and mix up.

Place mixture in tortillas and top with favorite salsa.  Wrap up, foil/Ziplock, and Freeze!!

Leftover sausage and bean mixture?  

Add to tortilla with cheese and sour cream.  Wrap, foil/Ziplock, and Freeze!! 

Today I also pan-fried hot dogs and two hamburger patties, and used up the ends of some lunch meat packages and sliced cheese.  

All said, I completely filled the freezer box with easy, ready-to-grab lunches with just a couple hours of work and I used up leftovers!  That's a successful day!

Corn Dog Muffins

Was looking for some recipes that would freeze well and would give some options for lunch boxes besides sandwiches.  Found this one and it is a hit!  And so fun!

Makes 42 to 63 muffins (I like lots to freeze, but you could easily cut the recipe in half...another fun option would be to use mini muffin tins for fun finger food for a party)

4 (8.5 oz) boxes of cornbread mix
4 T brown sugar
4 eggs
3 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 packages of hot dogs cut into pieces (interestingly the cheaper the hot dog the better the muffins!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).  Lightly grease muffin tins

In a large bowl, stir together cornbread mix and brown sugar.  Add cheese and mix.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.  Combine egg/milk mixture with dry ingredients and gently stir until moist.  Fold in cut up hot dogs.  Spoon mixture into muffin tins (~2/3 full).

Bake 14 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve or let them cool and package them up for the freezer.  I usually wrap them in foil in packages of two.

Crock Pot Lasagna

No stove for over three weeks?  No problem!  OK...slight problem, but we made it through thanks to the microwave, electric griddle, and of course - the crock pot!

Discovered this recipe for Crock Pot Lasagna Soup and made a few modifications that ended up making it much more like a baked pasta dish than soup.  The FANTASTIC thing about this recipe is that you don't have to brown the meat or cook the pasta - it really is a one pot recipe!

You can see the original recipe here.

Serves 6-8 (if you're feeding normal people...I fed 4 with one small portion left over - but that included two very hungry men!)

1 lb ground beef or turkey (I only partially thawed the meat before adding it to the crock)
3 cups broth (I used chicken)
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced (I used my garlic press)
1 T dried parsley
1 T dried basil
1 onion, chopped
1 - 28oz can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 - 6oz can tomato paste
1 cup V8 juice (or any vegetable juice)
1 lb uncooked pasta shells
1/2 t white pepper (or black...I just like white better)
1/4 t salt
1 cup water
Shredded mozzarella cheese to top

Mix diced tomatoes and tomato paste in crock pot.  Add broth, garlic, onion, V8, and spices and mix.  Add meat and give it another stir.  Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours.

When there's 20 to 30 minutes of cooking time left (depending on how soft you prefer your noodles), add the water and noodles.  Stir.  Replace lid and finish cooking.

Serve topped with cheese.

BLT Pizza

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I LOVE trying new pizza recipes.  When I found this recipe, I knew it was one we needed to try.  I did exactly what she said to do, except I added red onions and I didn't measure at all.  That's one of the best things about making pizza ... you can just throw whatever you want on top.  No measurements needed.

Dough - use your favorite recipe or store bought.  (There are a few recipes on the beans blog that you could try.  I'll be posting my go to recipe soon ...)
Alfredo sauce, I used store bought but you could totally make it if you wanted to
Tomatoes, sliced
Red onion, thinkly sliced
Bacon, cooked
Rocket (arugula if you are in America)
Mozzarella cheese, shredded

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It's not complicated.

Roll out your dough and spread alfredo sauce on it.  Top with tomatoes, red onion, bacon and mozzarella cheese. 

We cook our pizzas in a outdoor pizza oven but you can do it in the oven on 200C/390F for about 10/20 minutes.  You just want the dough to be cooked through and the cheese to be melted and golden.

Top cooked pizza with arugula.


Oven Fried Chicken

I found a recipe somewhere but the only real part if it I had all the ingredients for was "heat oven to 400 degrees." So I won't bother posting the link. 

This is how to make a delicious, moist, crunchy baked chicken with random ingredients. 

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups panko bread crumbs 
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 T chopped fresh herbs (I used chives, marjoram, basil, oregano and cilantro)
3 cloves minces garlic
2 T oil
2 capfuls vinegar
1 egg
Pinch sea salt

First, preheat your oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a greased wire cooling rack in baking pan. 

Pound chicken until uniform thickness. Be sure to stick it in a ziplock first so you don't get hit in the eye with chicken juice. And don't worry if you don't seem to own a meat mallet, just borrow a hammer from your spouse. 

I think the original recipe called for mustard. But let's suppose you left your mustard on a camping trip. Clearly you should substitute mayonnaise. But let's further suppose that your hammer-loaning spouse left the mayo out in the back yard all night and you threw it away. Clearly you must get out your trusty stick blender and make some. Break the egg into a glass jar, realize you don't have any lemon juice. Decide that vinegar is an acid too and dump some of that in the jar. Add a pinch of salt and a 1/2 cup oil. Realize you only have a couple tablespoons of oil. Proceed undeterred. The resulting stick blended creation will not be mayo but will be...something white. Add herbs and garlic, put in a bowl. 

Mix together panko crumbs and cheese. Put in another bowl. 

Dredge flattened chicken in wet bowl. Press into crumb bowl, gently shaking off excess crumbs. 

Lay chicken pieces on wire rack and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. 

Bask in the praise of your delighted family. 

Easy Cole Slaw

Shred one head of cabbage and two or three carrots (peeled) into a bowl and mix.

In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup mayo, 4 Tablespoons sugar, and 2 Tablespoons white vinegar.  Add to cabbage mixture and stir until combined.  If it doesn't look goopy enough for your taste, mix up some more dressing.  You can also adjust the vinegar to taste. 

It's always nice to let it marinate in the fridge for a little bit, but not necessary.  I sometimes make it and just stick it in the fridge while I make the rest of dinner.

Super easy (especially if you have a food processor or shredding attachment to your mixer) and very yummy!

Cherry Pomegranate Frozen Margarita

I thought I had posted this here before but apparently not.
So ... here you go !!
The fabulous cherry margarita !


Here's what you need ...

1 tablespoon Tequilla
1 tablespoon Triple Sec
2 tablespoons Pomegranate Juice
A handful of Frozen Fruit
Sugar, for rim


Yeah, that's blueberries not cherries.
The cherries weren't in a box anymore.
The box looked better for the photo !

Ok ...
Here's what you do.
Put all the ingredients into a blender.
If it's not thick enough, add more fruit.
If it's too thick, add more pom juice.


When Rory makes mine, he rubs lime around the rim and dips it in sugar.
But, usually he's making himself a normal margarita so already has limes cut open.
When I made it the other night, I didn't want to cut a lime just for that so I just used water.

Mmmmmm ... might have one tonight ...


Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

I posted this recipe in 2008 but thought it was time for a repost.  If you haven't tried these yet, it is time.   I found the recipe here and have basically followed her recipe but over the years have adapted it just a little bit.  I use greek yoghurt, a specific amount of oil, and I use canola ... oh,  and more topping ... but anyway, I'll give you my method below ...

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Dry Ingredients:
2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1 cup greek yoghurt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablspoons canola oil
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 stick butter, melted (about 55g)
1/2 cup sugar
1teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 200c/400f.  Line muffin pan with paper or silicon cups.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.

In a different bowl, whisk wet ingredients.  I start with the eggs, whisk.  Add yoghurt, whisk.  Add sugar, whisk ... you getting the picture? 

When the wet ingredients are combined, add the dry ingredients.  Mix gently until just mixed.  Don't over mix; batters should not be smooth.  BUT ... DO make sure the baking powder is mixed in!  The first couple of times I made these I found little lumps of baking powder when I was eating my muffin.  It was quite unpleasant!

Divide batter among the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 12-15 minutes.

While the muffins are baking, melt butter in a small, shallow bowl. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a different small, shallow bowl. As soon as the muffing are done, dip them one at a time in the butter and then in the cinnamon sugar. Set on a rack to cool ... or just eat straight away like we do!

Makes 12 standard muffins.

Lemon Thyme Ricotta Gnocchi

I've made gnocchi with ricotta before but this gnocchi was a case of 'use up ingredients in the fridge and don't go buy more' so I didn't do the one I usually do!  I was really happy with how this one turned out though.  I'm not sure on the exact measurements as I was sort of adding a bit here and there but it seems to be pretty forgiving!  So, if you are comfortable with that sort of cooking, here's where you could start ... 

This recipe didn't make a whole lot.  For our family of four, we were all full but we also had a veggie and some garlic bread.  There were no seconds ... and we were all wishing there were!  Next time, I'll double the recipe!

250g ricotta (I didn't have quite 250g as I was using up an open ricotta!) 
1 cup of flour, or more
fresh thyme, leaves picked off ... as little or as much as you like.
rind of one lemon
30g finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg

I read somewhere that it's good to get as much moisture out of the ricotta as possible when using it for gnocchi so I spooned it all into a small colander/strainer and put that in a bowl in the fridge for about 1/2 an hour before I started making the gnocchi.  Don't know if it was necessary but a fair bit of liquid did drain out so I'd probably do it again next time.

Mix the flour, thyme, Parmesan cheese and lemon rind in a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre and add the ricotta and egg.  I used my fingers to mix everything together until it became a dough.  I did add a little bit more flour as I went because it was really really sticky!  Make sure you don't overwork the dough or it will become tough and no one wants tough gnocchi!

Put the dough onto a well floured surface and form into a square ... well, mine was more like a rectangle, but I was aiming for square!  (Add flour as needed so the dough doesn't stick to your hands or your work space!)  Cut that into four segments.  Roll each segment into a long snake ... you know, like you used to do with playdough?! Cut each snake into small pieces which can be boiled just like that or rolled out on a gnocchi board or back of a fork. 

Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook until they float.  Normally, we'd stop there but last night I tried frying them in garlic butter as well.  YUM!  I drained them in a little colander and then popped them straight into a fry pan with butter and three smashed but whole garlic cloves.  I shook the pan around and coated them in the butter.  It gave them a little extra flavor and a bit of a crispy coating!  So good.  I did half the gnocchi that way, half just boiled.  We liked them both ways. 

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Top with your favorite sauce.  We love Craig's Bacon Mushroom Sauce and Winter Veg Sauce as two options!  YUM.  The one pictured above is a creamy roasted tomato sauce. 

Crock Pot Steak Fajitas

I found this recipe here.
I, of course, didn't cook it to the exact recipe instructions.


Here's what I did ...

500g round steak or beef flank steak
2 medium onions, cut into strips
1 large jar of medium salsa
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 2 fresh limes
4 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of ground chillis
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 small green bell peppers, cut into strips
2 small red bell peppers, cut into strips

For serving: chopped avocado, shredded cheese, chopped tomato, chopped spring onion, sour cream and flour tortillas, warmed

Cut steak crosswise into thin strips; place in slow cooker. Combine onion, 1 cup salsa, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, cumin and salt in slow cooker. Cover; cook on LOW 5 to 6 hours.

The original recipe said to ...add bell peppers. Cover; cook on LOW 1 hour. BUT we didn't. We sauteed them in a cast iron skillet instead.

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I first posted this recipe in 2009 but tonight I added something new to these tonight so thought I'd repost it with the addition ...

Garlic ... as much as you's like, diced
Jalapenos and assorted red chillies out of my garden, also diced

Fry these two in olive oil til garlic is browned.  

Remove from oil to paper towel and set aside.  Pop this into the fajita when serving.  So tasty!

Sushi Crunchies!

I discovered sushi crunchies (not sure of their 'real' name) when we were in Denver a few months ago. My parents favorite sushi place, where I think we ate like 8 times in 4 weeks (!!) makes a roll with sushi crunches inside it that I've been trying to replicate ever since. I think I've come pretty close with the roll you see in the photo above ... although, I don't roll mine inside out like they do.

I put avocado, dry roasted cashews, sushi crunchies and sometimes cream cheese. (the one pictured doesn't have the cream cheese) I top it will bulldog sauce. So yum ! It's my current favorite roll !

To make the crucnhies ... I watched this video ... you should watch it if you are going to try them. It gives some great tips.

I only make half his recipe ... here's how ...

Vegetable, corn or peanut oil
1/2 cup of Tempura flour (i actually used tempura batter mix),
1/2 cup of Water
1 egg white

Heat the oil in a pot. Don't fill it more than half way. I did the first time and ended up having to throw away the pot I used after I burned the oil to the outside of it ! Anyway, get the oil really hot (but not boiling)

While your oil is heating, mix the egg white, flour and water.

Test the oil by adding a drip of the mixture to the oil. If it instantly floats and sizzles at the top then the oil is ready. When the oil is hot, drizzle a bit of the mixture into it. (see the video for useful tips on this part !) Make sure you pour it slowly and not too much at once.

Once it's golden, remove it with a slotted spoon or small metal strainer to a plate covered with paper towel. Continue until all the mix is used up. Let it cool for a bit, then tip into a bowl. I smash it a bit with the back of a spoon because I like my cruchies broken up.

That's it.

These are so yummy.

One thing though, if you are making the sushi for the next day, don't add the crunchies, just sprinkle them on top the next day ! (they go soggy in the rice over night)

Black bean chili

1/4 c. oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, diced (the original recipe calls for red and green. I usually get at least two colors.)
1.5 tbs minced garlic
2tbs paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/3 tsp salt
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, very finely chopped
1 tbs cumin seed
1 tbs dried leaf oregano
2 cups cooked black beans
1.5 cups canned chopped tomatoes in puree

Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onion, bell peppers, garlic, paprika, cayenne, salt, and jalapeno peppers. Saute until onions are soft.
Add cumin, oregano, beans, and tomatoes.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook slowly for an hour.

We eat this over rice with cheddar cheese, sour cream and sometimes avocados.
I usually use 2 cans of beans to one can of tomatoes, and I don't think I get them in puree. I think they're just chopped, and if I have the option, I will buy the ones with mexican spices, or chilis or whatever already in them, but not always. If it's cheaper to buy beans fresh cook them yourself.. that's a good option too.

The girl who gave us the recipe puts hers in the blender and purees it, but we like the texture of the chili instead of soup.

Plus, it freezes great!