Friday, February 27, 2009

Chickpeas in disguise

This is another family favourite. It is a very simple dish to make (at least when you use a food processor) and pretty open to modification. If I make a big enough batch then there will be enough left for dinner another night as well.

Chickpea Cannelloni
Put one onion through food processor and pulse til fine. Add one can of chickpeas (or about 2 cups worth of soaked and cooked chickpeas) and pulse til smooth. Add 1 container of ricotta cheese, 1 egg, lots of fresh chopped parsley, salt, pepper, garlic and some Romano or Parmesan cheese. Process 'til smooth. If I have it I like to add some steamed spinach or some grated zucchini at this point and fold that in. This batch has spinach.
I put this mixture into a plastic bag with a small hole snipped into the corner of it and then squeeze it into no-bake (oven-ready) cannelloni shells and place them into a baking pan. Over this I pour my spiced tomato sauce (you could use your favourite tomato-based pasta sauce) which has been thinned out with water. (There are instructions on the package of cannelloni shell for how much water to add to the sauce. The sauce must be watery enough that it helps cook the shells.). Sprinkle some grated cheese on top. Cover and bake following package directions. I like to take the lid off for the last few minutes to brown up the cheese a bit. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tomato beans

This is a pretty plain way to eat isn't a recipe that I would use to introduce someone to beans but it is one that I enjoy. The flavours of the tomatoes, garlic and thyme with the olive oil on top...delicious.I soak large white beans in plenty of water the night before. In the morning I drain them and add fresh water then put them on the stove to cook. This takes about an hour. When they are tender then I drain them again. I saute some onion and celery in the cast iron pot and then add the drained beans, a large container of stewed tomatoes and a jar of tomato sauce. I also like to add a few sticks of dried Kombu crunched up really small. Let simmer while the beans absorb the tomato sauce. Add Herbamare, pepper and lots of thyme. (my stewed tomatoes already have basil, garlic and onion in them or I would have added this too). Simmer until the beans are nice and soft. Sometimes I will add a bit of broth to keep them saucy. Serve with a good drizzle of olive oil on top and some nice crusty bread. My boys like to make cheese buns (buns put under the broiler with some grated cheese and garlic on them) to go with.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lentil casserole, felted pot holder and pumpkin buns

Last night we had this lentil casserole. It is a favourite with all of us.I saute onions (and celery if we have it) in a cast iron pan and then add 1 cup of washed lentils and 4 cups of broth. I simmer until the lentils are soft (this takes 35-40 minutes). Then I add about 2 cups of my stewed tomatoes (or a jar of my tomato sauce), a spoonful of tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, herbamare (and any other spices you like). I cook this for 5 more minutes and then put grated cheese on top and pop it in the oven for 10-15 minutes. We serve it with crunched nacho chips on top (and avocado, sour cream and Frank's red hot sauce if you like). This also can make a delicious taco filling if you have any leftovers.

We use our cast iron pans for almost everything we cook and so we realized that handle holders would be a good thing. I made some up before Christmas and now we can't imagine how we got on without them. I decided to make a special one for my dad; he loves hot rods. ;-) I had fun needle felting a flame "paint job" onto this one.

On the other side I needle-felted this warning. :-)

I was getting rid of some of my cookbooks when I came across an old bread-making one. Flipping through it I saw a photo of clover leaf rolls and it brought back memories. My mom used to always make clover leaf rolls and I loved them. I loved pulling them apart into their three equal bits and putting a dot of butter on each third before eating. I decided that I needed to make some. I made ours with pumpkin and they were delicious.

But, they must be eaten this way - pulled apart in thirds. My poor husband was going to just slice his in half and put butter on. Lucky for him I was there to guide him. ;-)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Easy bean recipes

Bean there, done that...

We eat a lot of legumes in our house. We all enjoy them and we have several favourite recipes that we use often. I thought it might be fun to do a "week of beans" and post a week's worth of our favourite bean recipes here.

Last night we had black bean tortillas - W asked for them when we were making up our week's menu. This month we have been trying to use up food from our freezers so the menu is really reflecting that. When the boys are deciding what they will make on their night to cook we have this little conversation.

Me - Does it use something from the freezer, the cold room and the pantry?
Them - Well, it uses something from the pantry.
Me - Not good enough!! ;-) Think of something that uses an ingredient from each. Bonus points for several ingredients from the freezer. ;-)
So now it has become almost like a challenge for us - how many ingredients can YOU use from the freezer in your dinner?? We're thinking that whoever uses the most freezer ingredients in one dinner should get the freezer award - an ice cream sundae. (except we have no ice cream in our freezer) :-(

Anyway here is last night's dinner and I did pretty well. When I cook beans I soak and cook them in big batches and then freeze them on cookie sheets. When they are frozen then I store them in freezer bags. This way I always have beans cooked and on hand.

In our cast iron fry pan I cooked up:
1 bag of previously cooked and frozen black beans
1 container of stewed tomatoes (mine have onions, garlic, peppers and zucchini in them)
1 cob of corn (frozen last summer on the cob with husk left on. I just cut of the kernels and threw them in)
Simmer and add some cumin, chili powder (made from our hot peppers), herbamare and a splash of Bragg's.
At the same time I cooked up some rice (also stored in glass jars in the freezer because I buy it in bulk. It is a rice mix and has brown rice in so needs to be stored in cool spot). I cooked enough rice for two meals because I wanted some extra to use in a lentil casserole the next night.
Put rice on tortillas (also in freezer because we stock up when they are on sale) add black bean mixture and then top as you like. We use some grated cheese and sometimes avocado. My boys like to mix Frank's red hot sauce in with some sour cream and put that on as well. When we have lettuce we put that on as well. Yum! We all love these. We served them with leftover squash (from the cold room) that I had cooked the night before when we were using the oven for lasagna.
beans, rice, stewed tomatoes, corn, tortillas. That's 5 things from the freezer and 1 thing (squash) from the cold room. Beat that guys. I'm on my way to the ice cream sundae award.
Wait, I forgot...I used a cube of parsley from the freezer too. That makes 6 freezer things and 1 coldroom thing. ;-)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Almost done....

We've been working on re-doing our kitchen on and off for...well, an embarrassingly long time, really. We did get most of it done right off the bat but it is the finishing touches that we have left sitting. These past two weeks I've been really pushing through the whole house - cleaning, purging and finishing bits and pieces. This weekend my husband got on the bandwagon too, and when he gets going he really, really gets going. Among lots of other jobs we finally finished grouting the last half of our rock back splash in the kitchen and S put this lovely finishing touch up behind our stove. I love the way the kitchen is looking and just have to do some touch-ups to the grout as it is drying and then I want to put another coat of the finish on our wooden counter tops. I'd like to post a picture of the whole thing when it is completely done - maybe a before and after if I can find a before pic.
I picked up two more sweaters to felt at the thrift store so I will post asap about how to do that for those who were asking me.
This morning E was thinking about Cheerios because we found a box leftover from camping when we were cleaning out the trailer. He said that he could make a cereal and call it Happy-Es. Then he thought for a minute and told me that I could make a cereal and call it Pretty-Ms (M for mom). :-) Don't you just love the sweet things that come out of our children's mouths and minds? What fun.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Felting wool sweaters (or even more things that are making me happy)

Last week I was cleaning out my laundry/sewing/crafty/clothes-drying/mess room downstairs and came across my bag of thrifted wool sweaters. I've been saving them up to make a quilt. I decided that as soon as I got that room organized that I would treat myself for all my hard work by felting the sweaters and getting going on the quilt. In amongst my cleaning I found all sorts of fun things to make with felted sweaters (try googling felted sweaters and prepare to be overwhelmed inspired. Here they are before felting.
Here they are after felting.

So, naturally (!!), I needed to get more sweaters. We were on our way to visit a friend when we spied a $5 a bag sign at a thrift store. My lovely hubby pulled in and I picked out every wool sweater I saw. Seven of them. We found a few shirts for W and went to pay thinking that we would have two bags full and get all that lovely goodness for only $10. Needless to say that I was tickled pink when the woman at the counter took a look and said that we would need to roll them all up tightly to be able to fit them into a bag. She proceed to roll all those big wool sweaters up into tiny rolls and cram them all into a grocery bag. I love her. ;-)

This top one is already ear-marked for a project. I want to cut the front open so that it is a cardigan and then do some needle felted embellishments on it. I found inspiration here.

And I'll need to turn one of them into one of these bags. But I still need enough for my quilt so maybe I actually need more sweaters. ;-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Things that are making me happy....

Dark chocolate. Almonds and local cherries. Right from my own town. Given by a lovely friend (and sister in choco-love).

Very happy!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A busy weekend

We had a busy weekend but we did make sure to make time for a little bit of heart love on Saturday morning.Heart-shaped pancakes with blueberries and strawberry sauce (summer's goodies from the freezer).
And not a speck leftover.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sunshine and muffins and pets...oh my!

Every year at this time the boys and I purposefully stop and pay tribute to the sun. We live tucked up close to a mountain and while we love the view this affords us all through the year we also find that we miss the sun very much when it disappears behind the mountain each winter. Last week (just as we returned from our sunny holiday) the sun returned. (hmmm, imagine that...almost like someone planned their holiday return time around this event or something);-)

Needless to say we were very happy. We took the time to sit right down in the sunbeams and while we basked in the sun we listened to Here Comes the Sun as is our tradition now.

I'm sorry to say that Sunshine On My Shoulders didn't make the cut this year as the CD was out in the car. But just in case you really want to hear it (and I know that you do) here it is...just for you. :-)

Soon enough all the animals joined us to get their dose of sunshine too.

This well-fed kitty decided to sit up on our coffee table in the sun. Having had free range with the kitty kibble for a month meant that there was a whole lot of her to perch up on that table...
a whoooole lot. Enough to drape over the edge, in fact. Oh my! Must do something about that.
This also tends to be the time of year that my thoughts turn to spring cleaning. I whir through the house seeing what I can get rid of; wiping walls down to get rid of fingerprints, Hotwheel tracks and other assorted messes; vacuuming in places I never normally get to and *gasp* even cleaning the windows. I know that in another month it will be Gardening Time (said with much reverence) and that I won't give a hoot for cleaning cleaning will seem pointless because dirt from the garden will be tracked in Endlessly!Yes, endlessly! we will be spending so much time having fun in the garden that I will be very pleased that I got the spring cleaning done early.

I also like to get moving on using up some of the fruit and veg. in the freezers that I tucked in their at harvest time. Having four large freezers plugged in all the time plays havoc with my conscious. Funnily enough when you cook up massive pumpkins and freeze all the pumpkin puree you then need to Do Something with the hundreds of pounds of pumpkin in the freezers.

Thankfully we all love pumpkin muffins and I can see the need for many, many batches of muffins to see us through all our cleaning efforts and then all our gardening work.

Edited to include recipe for muffins.

My third grade teacher's pumpkin muffin recipe (only slightly, really!)

3/4 cup oil (I use grapeseed) (originally called for 1 cup)

1 cup sugar (originally called for 1 1/2 cups - use your own tastes as a guide)

3 eggs

2 cups frozen pumpkin puree

3/4 raisins ( I do half with and half without because I always double the recipe)

2 1/4 cup flour (I use whole wheat)

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix wet ingredients in bowl. Mix dry ingredients together in another bowl. Combine and blend. Fold in raisins. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 - 25 minutes (depending on size of muffins). Enjoy! :-)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Things I have been lovin' all January...

Beach time...aaahhh, beach time...
Good news...

Sunsets...and the sun that comes before them. Come to mama vitamin D. ;-)
Clouds with silver linings...Cool trees on hikes...Hikes along lava fields...past some wild goats finding a driftwood swing along the hike...

stopping for a rest at black sand beach with waves crashing against the lava...

beauty on the beach...
And, sadly, in amongst that beauty (way out the lava field on a secluded hike-in only beach)...
plastic garbage. W and I picked all this up in only about 5 minutes.

Hike up a ridge with a breathtaking view...(this is only part way up)

Plants and flowers actually growing instead of being covered in snow...

(I even found this tomato plant growing out of lava bits) Favourite fruits and veg grown locally...

(real tomatoes that tasted like real tomatoes - bliss!)

Other fun sights and things to do...
and the flowers....I love me the flowers... And my favourite hike on the 2nd island we went to was this one - on the Kalalau trail along the Na Pili coastline.that stretch of beach was where we were headed.
It was one muddy hike. Critters like crabs... red-footed boobies... whales...(you can just see him breaching there - not a great shot as it was taken from up high above the ocean at the lighthouse)

as well as green sea turtles, dolphins, eel, octopus, and much more.

A canyon hike...
And enough down time for knitting warm woollies for our return...

socks from my Kool-aid yarn and a woolen cowl.
and one Norwegian house slipper from the most unusual pattern.

If you want to see a few more pics I've posted on our shared blog too.

On our way to the airport to come home my 13 year old said to me, "Being here is like hitting the 'pause" button." That really struck me. As a person who for years has wished for a pause button to slow things down in our lives so that we could take time to enjoy it more I really liked hearing that from my son. Our month on the islands is like a pause button and we are very blessed to have it. We spend our time with no have-tos and only want-tos. It was a very good month indeed.

P.S.- thank you all for your comments and compliments on this blog. I was away all month so not able to respond to them all but I appreciate them very much.