Sunday, January 15, 2017

Stocking The Freezer

I don't know about you guys but January is kicking my butt! I am just having a really hard time getting back into the swing of things.
I always find post Christmas a little hard but for some reason this year is a real struggle...

So I decided to do a few things to make my life a little easier starting with stocking the freezer with some quick easy meals. We all know that working all day then coming home and having to feed the family is always a struggle.
These few simple things can be made in big batches and frozen to make a variety of meals later.

I didn't want to feel overwhelmed by making ALL the things at once so I am doing one item each Sunday. That way it feels more manageable.

Here are a few of my favorite freezer meal ideas.


First up was Pulled Pork. Who doesn't love pulled pork! It has a couple steps but mostly its hands off, since you cook it in the slow cooker.
Here are a few ideas for pulled pork... the classic piled high on a bun topped for coleslaw, Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese is always a winner, and my favorite, Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos.

Meatballs are a GREAT freezer meal. Make a huge batch then divide them into meal sized portions. The classic Spaghetti and Meatballs is always a good start, but there are so many options. Sweet & Sour Meatballs over rice, Meatballs smothered in creamy mushroom sauce on noodles and my favourite Meatball Subs.

Chili is really great as far as freezer meals go. Make a double batch of your favourite chili then freeze it in meal sized portions in freezer bags.
Just take a portion out of the freezer the night before and heat it up in a pot on the stove for dinner. Serve with sour dough bread and a salad and you have dinner in less than 15 minutes.
A big old batch of Chili Cheese fries or Chili Cheese Dogs would be a hit with both little and big kids!

Spaghetti Sauce is a very versatile freezer meal. I love this Crock Pot Sauce, it is my go to. Make a double batch and you will have 4 or 5 meals all ready for the freezer.

I really like to cook up a big batch of Taco meat and freeze it in meal sized portions. I use this homemade seasoning mix and the taco meat turns out perfect every time.
I like to use it for things like Nachos or Burritos or even in a taco style pasta bake.

Make a batch of your favorite soup and freeze it up! I love this Chicken Tortilla Soup. It is hearty and warm and it freezes really well. You can freeze it supper sized portions or smaller lunch sized portions for those days you really don't know what to take to work for lunch.

I often NEED a little something sweet and dont' always have time to make something so putting a few sweet treats in the freezer is a really good idea!


A batch of Blueberry Muffins is a good thing to have in the freezer. Wrap them up individually in saran wrap and keep them in a large zip lock bag. That way you can grab one for breakfast or a snack. Any muffins you like would be great in the freezer!

Cookies are my go to treat... These Peanut Butter Cookies are my favorite! You can freeze them after they are cooked or roll the dough into balls and freeze them to cook later, for those times you need a WARM cookie!
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies are a good option too, again freeze them cooked for a super fast treat or freeze the raw dough for that gooey treat on a random Wednesday night!

I would love to hear some of your favorite freezer meal ideas. I am always looking for new recipes so feel free to share!

I am hoping these easy meal ideas help me get back into the swing of things.

Enjoy!



Jen


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Few Of 2016's Favourites

I can't believe we are so close to the end of 2016. I know I say it every year but man this year went FAST!
I have to say 2016 wasn't my favourite year, it wasn't bad really just a little off. So I for one will be glad to wrap it up and move on to a new and brighter year!

I thought I would share a few of the recipes you guys viewed most this past year and a few of my personal favorites.

Let's start with the most viewed posts...

5. No Bake Cookie Butter Cookies


These simple cookies have made the list the last few years now and for good reason, they are awesome!

4. Vietnamese Noodle Bowls


I live for noodles! These noodles have quite a few components but it is all very simple and totally worth the few minutes of prep! One of my favourite meals of all time!

3. Saskatoon Berry Crisp


This crisp takes me right back to my childhood. If you have never had Saskatoon berries I suggest you make an effort to find them. They are beyond delicious!

2. Cranberry Sparkler


I can't blame you for for making this amazing cocktail the 2nd most popular recipe this year. It is my all time favourite holiday beverage.

1. Cactus Cut Potatoes


These amazing crispy potatoes are my jam... and the dipping sauce, I don't even need to tell you how good it is! If you haven't made these yet, do it. You won't be sorry!

All of these are great picks! I love them all.

Here are a few of my favourites from 2016...

5. Meatball Bubble-Up Bake


This very simple weeknight dinner was so good! We have had it a few times since I made it for the first time and we love it every time!

4. Mini Pumpkin Donut Muffins


I love anything pumpkin. These cute little donuts are no exception! They are soft and moist and the cinnamon sugar coating is delightful!

3. Cheeseburger Mac & Cheese


I am a sucker for anything mac & cheese, and this homemade version was so very yummy! Made great left overs too, which is always a winner for me!

2. Blueberry Banana Oat Muffins


I have a ton of muffin recipes on this blog, and I have enjoyed them all but these, well these are special! Make them and you will see what I am talking about!

1. Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies


What can I say about these brownies except WOW! Fudgy and creamy like a little bit of heaven in your mouth!

I want to thank all of you who take the time to read my little blog! I appreciate you more than I can say. I started writing it thinking that a few of my family and friends might read it and it has turned out to be so much more than that!

I hope you all have a fabulous 2017 full of laughter and happiness and many new recipes!



Jen

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!!

I can't believe Christmas is in 2 days... The last month has just flown by.

My in house taste tester has to work on Christmas Day so I am going to cook my big Turkey dinner on Christmas Eve instead. Which is just fine with me because that means Turkey buns on Christmas Day and Turkey buns are my favourite!

All of this means that today I have to do my food prep. Homemade Buns, Hawaiian Salad and Cranberry Sauce.


It just wouldn't be Christmas without all of these wonderful sides!
We also always have Brussel sprouts and creamed corn, along with our Roasted Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy!

I just wanted to wish all of you a VERY Merry Christmas!
May you all have a holiday filled with Family, Friends, Laughter and lots of Tasty FOOD!





Jen

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Festive Fruit Cake


One of my in house taste testers favourite holiday treats is Fruit Cake. He buys one at the store every year and every year he is disappointed. They are never quite what he wants, too fruity, too dense too boozy.


So, I decided to try and make one that he would love. I sat him down and made him tell me all the things he likes about fruit cake and then I scoured the Internet to find some recipes that I could take from to make the perfect fruit cake.


I think I may have done it, this fruit cake is beautiful. It is really quite simple to make and it tastes amazing! It is the perfect Christmas treat!

What you need,

For the Fruit Mix,

1 cup dried currents
1 cup mixed candied peel
¾ cup candied pineapple, diced
¾ cup red/green candied cherries, halved
¾ cup raisins
½ cup spiced rum (or regular rum or brandy or bourbon whatever makes you happy!)

Combine all the dried fruits in a large bowl with a lid. Pour the spiced rum over the fruits and stir well to coat. Put the lid on the bowl and let the fruit sit for 24 hours. You can give the bowl a shake a couple times just to mix it up a bit.

For the Cake Batter,

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. each ground all spice & nutmeg
Pinch of salt

6 tbsp. room temperature butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. strawberry jam (all I had was strawberry rhubarb it was fine)
1 tbsp. molasses
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup pecans, roughly chopped

In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and salt. Stir ¼ cup of the flour mixture into the fruit mixture.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together. Add the jam and molasses stir well to combine.  Add the eggs and beat well.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir gently just to combine.

Add the fruit mixture and the nuts and fold together. 

Line 4 mini loaf pans with parchment paper and spray liberally with non-stick spray.

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Divide the dough evenly between the prepared pans and cover them tightly with tin foil.

Place one oven rack right in the center of the oven and one on the lowest rack.

Add water to a 9x13 metal baking dish, about halfway up and place it on the lowest rack.

Place the loaf pans on the middle rack and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Remove the foil from the cakes and test them with a toothpick. If they are still too moist in the middle, cook in 5 minute intervals until the tooth pick comes out with moist crumbs only. I think mine took about an extra 10 minutes uncovered.

Let the cakes cool in the pan until they are cool enough to turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile you can soak 4 pieces of cheese cloth in about ½ cup of spiced rum. Make sure the cheese cloth pieces are big enough to wrap your loaves in.

Once the cakes are totally cool wrap each cake in the rum soaked cheese cloth and then tightly in 2 layers of tin foil

Stash the cakes in the fridge for 3-4 weeks. 


Once you unwrap one you are going to be so pleased! They are so festive! And man they taste really good.

My in house taste tester said they were the best fruit cakes he had ever had. The cake is tender and moist with a perfect cake to fruit ratio. There is a hint of spice and a touch of booze and that makes them perfection.


I have a feeling I will be making these every year now!
I was never a huge fan of fruit cake until I had this one. Now I love it, a lot! Give it a try, I bet that you will love it too!


Enjoy!

Jen

Recipe adapted from a bunch of recipes all cobbled together to get all the fruit cake components that my sweet wanted!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sugared Cranberry Shortbread Cookies


I have been baking up some of my all-time favorite holiday recipes in the last week. Butter Tarts, Mincemeat Tarts and Almond Bark. I decided to try a new cookie this year and it is a GOOD one!



These Sugared Cranberry Shortbreads are a delight. They look so Christmassy. Plus they taste like a dream! They are tender and sweet with the tart cranberries contrasting with the coarse sugar coating is just so good!


What you need,

½ cup cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup butter, at room temperature
¼ cup icing sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
¼ cup coarse sugar

In a bowl cream the butter and both sugars.  Stir in the flour and cornstarch until totally combined. Fold in the cranberries.

Lay out a large piece of saran wrap on the counter. Sprinkle the coarse sugar down the middle of the saran wrap. Place the dough in a log shape onto the saran wrap. Roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter, coating the outside of the log with the sugar. Put the dough log into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat.

Slice the cookies with a sharp knife about ¼ inch thick. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are lightly golden brown.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They also freeze really well.

These cookies will make a perfect addition to your Christmas goodie plate. They are pretty and delicious and easy to whip up.

Jen