Monday, September 8, 2014

Freezer meal: Roasted tomato, sausage and spinach pasta

Hey look!  Apparently, way back in December 2013, I had thought about posting this and got distracted.  Mommybrain, thy name is Honeybee.

This was a super-tasty recipe, which I liked making (and eating).  It also made me smile because it marked the (slow) return of my ability to share my cooking with others (read: forcing friends to be my guinea pigs).  I really enjoy that, so after months of barely feeling up to cooking for us, let alone others, it was a refreshing change.  The idea was to create some freezer meals that we could just heat up quickly later when I went back to work, and to share the love with some of our dear friends who also welcomed a baby just four weeks and one day after G-man arrived!

The recipe really didn't take much modification on my part.  It's posted here, from Canadian Living Cooks (they called it "Make-Ahead Baked Pasta... not descriptive enough.  I like my title better).  I think my only addition was some baby spinach wilted in before baking (you can see this in the pics, below).  I felt like it needed some extra veg.  Feeding a bubs with my own body made me somewhat nutrition-conscious!

Lastly: this meal was brought to you by Costco.  I think only the garlic was purchased elsewhere.  I love that store.

Noticing one more draft from months ago... perhaps for another night...
-Honeybee
The finished (if slightly blurry) product.  Mmm, melted cheese.
Sooo, these are out of order.  Deal with it.  All packaged up, ready for the freezer, with reheating instructions written on the labels!
Recyclable (yay, no dishes!) aluminum baking trays, wrapped with plastic wrap (remove before baking!!) and wrapped again with aluminum foil.  Freezer safe!!
Handwritten reheating instructions.  Nobody has time to go back and check the online recipe!
Getting ready for packaging/baking.  The white dish on the right was for our dinner that evening, the other two for later!
Adding in that baby spinach!
Pasta boiling, roasted tomatoes, garlic and sausage at the ready!
Words cannot adequately describe how AHMAZING this smelled.  Roasted garlic, Roma tomatoes, and spicy Italian sausage.  Yet another possible application for Smell-o-vision... or... Smell-o-internets?  Nevermind.
Roasting off some sausage, fresh Roma tomatoes, and two HEADS of garlic.  Yup, this isn't for a first date.
Mmm.  Tasty tomatoes.  These did take a bit of time to chop and seed, but it was WORTH it.

Peanut Stirfry, As You Wish

This post is dedicated to "Sue", one of my favourite coworkers.  She frequently compliments my lunches, which are usually dinner leftovers.  The big joke is that I'll say, "Oh, it was so easy!!"... but I've quickly come to realize that "easy" is a relative term (it's the chopping.  Sue hates chopping!)

Back when I was still expecting my little G-man (he'll be 11 months this week... gawd...), I was hit with a MASSIVE peanut craving.  It has... lingered.  I also had odd cravings for broccoli and tofu.  Sounds like a delicious combo for a stir fry!  So, with the power of the Interwebs, I've thrown together a little recipe.  Here it is.  I added the "As You Wish" in the title because it's endlessly modifiable depending on the veggies you have on hand.  Also, I like the Princess Bride reference.  Sue, try it, and tell me if it meets criteria for "easy" in your books!!

This was not my stir fry.  Ain't nobody got time for food photography with an active little monkey trying to climb into the oven.  This is the best approximation that Google Images could provide.  Photo credit goes to www.bakeyourday.net.
Peanut Tofu Stirfry, As You Wish
Serves 4
Adapted slightly from www.food.com

Stir Fry:
  • 1 lb package of extra-firm tofu, cubed (or substitute any other protein.  Chicken, beef, as you wish...)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cups vegetables, chopped (fresh or frozen.  I like to use broccoli, zucchini, and/or bell peppers.  You could do a bag of snow peas, so there'd be no chopping, Sue ;) Again, as you wish...)
  • 1 cup baby spinach (this is usually pre-washed, but check the package, just in case, ok?  I don't want to be responsible for grit in your stirfry)
  • 2 green onions, sliced finely
  • Noodles, cooked according to package directions (I like to use duck egg "Chinese long life" noodles from the Asian aisle.  You could use Udon.  You could use rice vermicelli.  You could use spaghetti.  As you wish.)
  • Optional: If you've got a handful of peanuts for garnish, great (like in the photo.  It's a good idea.  I'm stealing it)
Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (this should be in the Asian aisle in most major grocery stores.  If not, white wine or apple cider vinegar would work in a pinch, though I can't vouch for the results...)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (or 1/8 cup) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder*
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger*
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to start... and/or crushed chilies, and/or sriracha.  As you wish)
  1.  Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Start boiling water for your noodles (if required per their package directions.  I don't know what noodles you decided to use, so you're on your own here!)
  2. Sauté onion until soft.  Add the 2 cups of vegetables until somewhat softened, but not 100% cooked (if you've got tougher stuff, like broccoli, add that first; softer stuff like mushrooms should go later.  Or you can be like me, say heck with this, and cook it all at once.  As you wish.)
  3. Now is a good time to cook those noodles if need be.  Drain when done.
  4. Add cubed tofu.  Periodically keep tossing it around with the veggies.  I like it when the tofu browns up a bit in the pan.  Mmm.
  5. Stir together the sauce in a measuring cup.  Not going to lie, it'll look a mess (since the peanut butter won't really mix in well).  Fear not.
  6. Add the sauce to the frying pan (which contains your veggies and tofu).  Turn heat to medium low.  Stir well; the PB will melt in nicely.
  7. Add the cooked, drained noodles and toss thoroughly to coat.
  8. Add the baby spinach and toss until just wilted.
  9. Top with sliced green onions and peanuts and serve.
*I know this might be hard to imagine, but I've gotten much less judgey about dried herbs/spices.  When G-man is careening towards the cat food for the third time in as many minutes, finely mincing garlic is the last thing on my mind.  So if you don't have fresh garlic or ginger to chop, or if you've got the jarred/squeeze tube pre-chopped stuff, well, good enough!

Sue, this was for what I had for lunch.  I used a zucchini, half a red bell pepper, and half a yellow bell pepper for the veggies.  You can double the sauce like you mentioned for an extra-saucy version.

Alright, time for a cup of calming chamomile, perhaps an episode of the newly-rebooted Sailor Moon Crystal (yes, I am a product of the 90s), then bed.

Finally settling into mommyhood while still putting tasty dishes on the table,
-Honeybee

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bacon pancakes, makin' bacon pancakes...

Relevant to the cat's interests...
Hubs doesn't really love breakfast foods, especially if they're bread-like and/or sweet (French toast, pastries, muffins, etc).  He does, however, love breakfast meats. I mean, who doesn't like bacon?! (Quiet, vegetarians and your ilk...)

Hubs was up late on baby duty, and came across this clip from Adventure Time (one of our favorite cartoons). It's pretty catchy, and had the added benefit of calming our little Dude.  There is also a ten-hour version.  I have spared you.


The unintended (but perhaps obvious) side effect? Hubs wanted bacon pancakes for breakfast the next morning. Luckily, I had seen just this on Pinterest!!

It would seem that Pinterest now has MANY such recipes... Love the Breaking Bad reference on the left ;)
 I used this oven-baking method for the bacon from About.com (genius!) and made this pancake batter from Allrecipes (notably, I substituted bacon grease for the melted butter).  It became pretty simple after that- pour one over the other!




The result wasn't glamorous, but it WAS tasty. Hubs loved it, and The Dude enjoyed watching.  Hubs is now convinced that we should buy a food truck and serve these.  Of course, they'd also be battered and fried with cinnamon, chocolate and powdered sugar.  He's even investigated companies that would make a custom food truck.  I wonder if there's enough room at the Strawberry Fest for another food vendor...

Om nom nom.  Kinda like Cookie Monster.  But with pancakes.
The one on the left is still too small for solids.  I'm sure Hubs is hoping he'll take to bacon immediately at 6 months...
Hoping early exposure to bacon smell is beneficial for baby's growth,
-Honeybee

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Believe it or not, I managed to actually cook a bona-fide meal!  Wohoo!!  I even set up G-man's bouncy chair in the kitchen (safely out of the way of culinary dangers) so he and I could hang out while I was cooking.  Somewhat unfortunately, though, this leftovers container is the only pic I have of it.  Oh well.  A testament to how tasty it was!


Since my lengthy blogging hiatus, Pinterest seems to have soared in popularity.  I'm not immune; I even have a board linking back to this blog, showcasing my favourite pics.  No harm there!  I bring up Pinterest because Hubs' mom posted this recipe the other day, and it caught my eye.  Stupid-simple?  Spicy?  Tasty-looking?  Using ingredients I usually have around the house?  Winner!

Here's the pic from the recipe at this site.  MUCH better than mine (and looks far more appetizing!)
Of course, I can't leave well enough alone.  I had to muck with both the recipe and the method of preparation (the original involving the use of chicken, which isn't Hubs' favourite, and far too many dishes for my liking.  Ain't nobody got time to wash all that!).  This is my slightly altered version!

 Cajun Shrimp Pasta
Adapted from www.int-recipes.info/2013/11/cajun-chicken-pasta.html

Serves 4, with leftovers

Cajun Blackening Seasoning:
  • 2 tsp paprika (smoked or sweet)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregan
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • freshly cracked pepper (20-25 cranks of a mill)
For the Pasta:
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 2 small cooking onions
  • 1 lb frozen raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails off (especially if you're Hubs)
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted if you have 'em; I didn't)
  • 1 large scoop (maybe 1/4 cup?) cream cheese
  • 12 oz (or ~330 g, or ~3/4 of a 1 lb package, or whatever you can estimate) linguine
  • 3 green onions
Instructions
  1. Combine the herbs and spices for the blackened seasoning in a bowl.
  2. Prepare a large pot of water for the pasta. Bring it to a boil over high heat and then add the pasta. Cook the pasta until tender and then drain in a colander.
  3. Meanwhile, thinly slice the bell peppers and cooking onion. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot and the butter is melted, add the sliced vegetables, and sauté until they are tender.  Add the shrimp and half of the blackened seasoning.  Cook until shrimp are cooked through (pink, firm, and opaque all the way through). 
  4. Turn the heat under the skillet down to medium low. Add the can of tomatoes (with their juice) and the second half of the blackened seasoning. Add the cream cheese. Stir the mixture until the cream cheese has melted and created a creamy sauce.
  5. If your skillet is extra large, add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to combine with the shrimp, vegetables, and sauce. If your skillet is smaller, you can add the drained pasta back to the large pot it was cooked in (with the heat turned off), then add the shrimp, vegetables, and sauce to the pot and stir to combine.
  6. Slice the green onions and sprinkle over top before serving.

Tastiness, and took only about a half an hour at best.  Served this to my parents (now known as "the Nonni", Italian for grandparents) as a small token of gratitude for everything they've done for us since G-man arrived.  Of course they insisted that it wasn't necessary (and Nonna even did the dishes), but that's why we love 'em.  Plus, even though I'm a busy new mom, I can't leave behind my tradition of using friends and family members as guinea pigs for all my new recipes!

Looking forward to making some freezer-friendly baked pasta casseroles for her & her friends' new little families,
-Honeybee

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

And baby makes three...

...hours between "milkings."

Caught you off guard there, didn't I?

Yes, as mentioned briefly in my last (and very belated) post, our little bundle of joy is here.  Baby G is rockin' it so far.  We love him to bits.  So much so that, after our nursing partnership turned into more of an angry one-sided relationship, I have dedicated much of my days to making "magic Mommy Juice" by exclusively pumping (EPing) and feeding it to our little man via bottle.  It's great, because Hubs gets to help!

Here he is, my lazy baking partner!  Graham Raymond Richard, born 11-Oct-2013, 5 lb 14 oz!  Proud first time mommy, daddy, and grandparents are all doing well.
How is this relevant to my food blog?  Well, since we have an extremely hungry little man (born a little too small for everyone's liking), milk-making has become a big deal around here.  It's pretty much the ONLY food I make these days; we adults have mostly been subsisting on leftovers generously provided by friends and family or frozen microwave/oven meals.

I swear, there's a recipe in this post.

See?? I swear this isn't all about baby!!
I'm trying all sorts of things to make the most Magic Mommy Juice possible.  I forget how I came across this recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip "lactation cookies", but I finally (after 3 1/2 weeks with G-man) got a spare hour to pull them together.  They're tasty (and, they're a perfect excuse to eat cookies without impunity)!!

Apparently the "magic" ingredients are oatmeal (I've been eating a huge bowl every morning), flax, and brewer's yeast.  I've used flax before as an egg substitute, so that was nothing new.  I'd never seen brewer's yeast before, but after some help from a Bulk Barn associate, I got my hands on some.  I used the max amount called for in the recipe (4 Tbsp, or 1/4 cup); it sort of made the cookies taste malted.  Reminded me of an oatmeal stout I had once.  Not a bad thing!!

Here's the brewer's yeast!  It's very interesting in that it's a byproduct of beer-making; it's not active or alive at all (it's already done its job, making delicious booze!)  I had a guy in Bulk Barn try to convince me to buy active brewing yeast from his website; the helpful store associate chided him for trying to steal away customers!  Plus I had to explain to him that this wasn't for home brewing.  He didn't believe me.
My lonely Kitchenaid; it's been about a month since she saw any use!!  Mixing up the dough here.

Finished product!  Tasty stuff.  Even Hubs had one (after I assured him that they wouldn't turn him into a dairy cow like me)!  I've packaged some up for my friend with a 4-month-old, and there's a store of them in the freezer for whenever Teh Kimmeh's baby girl bundle of joy arrives!
Ah, motherhood.  It's all new and exciting to me, but I'm doing my best (with the amazing, constant, wonderful support of Hubs) to have my cookies and eat them too!

Thinking that Medela is the most wonderful company in the world,
-Honeybee

Saturday, September 28, 2013

So yeah, life...

Step 1: Do a whole bunch of job interviews in Detroit (just ignore Spock!)


Step 2: Get offered a job in pediatric genetics.


Step 3: Buy a house in Windsor for the first time over the course of five days.


Step 4: Get a great big convoy and move HOME.


Step 5: Make a baby (oven timer's almost up on this one; should be done cooking in 25 days!)


Step 6: Remember that, once upon a time, I had a food blog...


Lots of changes! Including a new-to-me but rather dated kitchen that makes for lackluster food pics. Ah well. Let's just pick right back up!!

I had a long day of gathering up the last few things that my & Hub's little "Dude" is going to need. Along the way, I was hit with a craving for Vietnamese noodle bowls (probably because my last stop, the grocery store, is next to a place called Pho Mango...)


My cousin introduced me to this deliciousness during a trip to visit him many years ago in Austin, TX. I've craved them ever since. Finally I worked up the gumption to make them myself. How hard could it be, really?? It's not much more than rice noodles, julienne veggies, a tart, salty sauce and some protein. I could do that!


I used this Allrecipes site for the basics, but got a little fancy tonight. FreshCo had four little rock lobster tails on for $10, so I thought I'd treat my crustacean-loving Hubs to something special (he's been such a champ through the hot mess that is me + pregnancy!)


The package suggested a lemon butter recipe, but I improvised a bit given the flavors in your typical noodle bowl. I melted 1/4 cup of butter with a healthy dollop of sriracha, the juice of 1/4 lime, lime zest, and grated fresh ginger (maybe a 1/4 tsp each; I didn't measure). That got brushed on the tails before being broiled in the oven for about 10 minutes (until the tail meat was flaky and opaque).


I got together my other ingredients (I like using baby spinach instead of lettuce, and left out the mint and daikon). The end result (along with some store-bought spring rolls) looked pretty delish, if I do say so myself:


Hubs was rather thrilled with the whole thing, and it was honestly so easy to throw together (even after a long day on my elephant-swollen feet). Ease of preparation is most definitely something I need to keep in mind in days ahead! It's led me to a whole new world of freezer +/- crockpot cooking... But more on that another time.

Thoroughly enjoying life with a full belly,
-Honeybee

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tea, sympathy & banana muffins


 Things have been quiet around here.  Winnipeg doesn't seem to have gotten the memo that spring/summer should really be around the corner.  Today it's overcast, drizzly, and 10ºC (50ºF for those south of the border!)  Perfect time for sipping hot beverages and making muffins.


Banana muffins were a weekend staple in our house.  It seemed we always had overripe fruit to contend with.  My mom had a spiral-bound cookbook called "Muffin Mania", which I loved... it was perfect for the beginner cook (which I definitely was, at age 12).  My Nonna loves making banana muffins, too... she'll make a batch, freeze them, and reheat them individually whenever we show up for weekend coffee.


The pics here are from a batch I made quite awhile ago, but I found a recipe that seems to work super-well, and has the added benefit of being quick and easy.  I whipped up a batch in about 10 minutes while Skyping with Tori last week, and Nonna-style, they lasted me well into this weekend.  Mmm!

Best-ever Banana Muffins
From Robin Hood Home Baking 2004, by way of "The Canadian Baker" (another fellow Blogger user!)

Makes 1 dozen
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana ( 3 or 4 large)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. Beat egg, mashed banana and melted butter in a large bowl until thoroughly blended.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to banana mixture and stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.
Variations:
  • Add 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries or blueberries to the batter.
  • Add 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter (I used chopped 70% chocolate last week... mmm!)
  • For a vegan version, substitute 1 Tbsp ground flax mixed in 3 Tbsp water for the egg and dairy-free margarine for the butter.


Off to put on my ugly sweater and curl up with a warm, snuggly (if somewhat annoyed) cat,
-Honeybee