It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Swedish Meatballs

1 small onion, grated
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon allspice
500g ground beef
6 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup sour cream

Whisk together onion, egg, bread crumbs, mustard and allspice. Mix in beef. (It’s best to use your hands when you add the beef.)

Form the beef mixture into 1-Tablespoon balls. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes. (Makes about 30 meatballs.)

Meantime, in a pot big enough for the amount of pasta you’ll need, heat water to boiling.

While meatballs cook and water comes to a boil, cook mushrooms, thyme and pepper over med-high heat until just brown, about 10 minutes.

By now your water should be boiling. Drop in the noodles. Give them a quick stir, turn the heat to medium-high then return to the mushrooms.

Sprinkle mushrooms with flour. Stir till absorbed. Add broth and sour cream, and stir a minute. Add cooked meatballs. Cook till sauce thickens a bit, about two minutes.

Serve over hot egg noodles.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | food | , | 1 Comment

Moroccan Chicken

I tweaked this recipe quite a bit to make it suit my family’s tastes and preferences. I’ll give you the instructions as written in the cookbook (Michael Smith‘s Fast Flavours), and then note my changes at the end. Italicized ingredients will be altered somehow in my version.

1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 can chickpeas
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1/2 cup marmalade
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup sliced almonds
leaves and stems from 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Michael’s Method:
Dump everything except almonds, cilantro, and lemon wedges into a large pot with a snug lid. Bring to a full boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, then adjust the heat much lower, just enough to maintain a steady simmer. Tightly over and let simmer for 20 minutes.

For even more tenderness, let everything enjoy 60 full minutes of slow simmering. Then ladle into bowls, top with almonds, cilantro and lemon wedges, and share.

Mary’s Method:
I find slicing a chicken into pieces too daunting. There’s a butcher nearby who would do this for me, but I opted to use chicken thighs from Loblaws, one per adult. Easy!

I made two pots, one large, one tiny, so that Jazz’s portion could be made without chicken. That was just a matter of divvying up the ingredients. The only extra work was one small pot to wash. Plenty of protein in the chickpeas and almonds.

And then, because Wonderful Husband does not like cilantro floating on the surface, I chopped the rinsed cilantro roughly, then dumped it into the blender with a quarter cup of the orange juice. Pureed it. It was an experiment: is it the flavour of the cilantro he objects to, or just green leafy bits on the surface of his stew? If it’s the flavour, I’ve just spoiled the stew for him, of course, but enquiring minds need to know!

Answer: It’s just the green leafy bits. Yay! So all the flavour, none of the bits. A win-win. Though in fact I did keep some fresh cilantro aside for me, because I like the texture, and, I discovered, pureed cilantro doesn’t give you that yummy back-of-the-mouth smokey-earthy smell-taste when it’s pureed. (We don’t have enough words to describe taste and scent in our language, have you ever noticed that?)

Powdered spices tend to float on the surface of a liquid, so instead of just dumping them as is into the pot, I put all spices in a small cup and drizzled in some water, a bit at a time, whisking with a fork, until I got a smooth paste, then dumped them in the blender with the pureed cilantro and gave it another quick whirl. THEN I dumped it in the pot. (But you don’t have to do any of this! If you want simple, just bung it in the pot and cook it.)

And finally. I’ve made a few of Chef Michael’s sweetened dinner dishes and have discovered the man has way, way, waaaaaaaaay more of a sweet tooth than I do. I knew without even tasting that I was going to find the recipe as written cloyingly sweet, so I skipped the marmalade altogether and reduced the orange juice by half, replacing the remainder of the liquid with water. (For more flavour depth, you could use chicken broth … if you weren’t feeding a vegetarian, that is!) In fact, I added water at a couple of points to get the consistency of the broth right, so there may be even less than half the suggested amount of juice in mine.

The result? Soooo yummy! The orange juice and dates made it sweet, yes, and the spices made it rich and earthy. The almonds gave a nice crunch at the end.

Just a lovely, lovely dish. Exotic (though in the preamble, Michael says the flavours of Morocco “inspire dinner, not authenticity”) and delicious.

We ate ours served over rice.

March 6, 2013 Posted by | food | , , | 3 Comments

Kale Cups

This one comes from Muffin Tin Mania. The originating recipe is here. I skipped the miso, as I rarely have it on hand, the sesame, as one of the tots is extremely allergic, and the nutmeg, because I reeeeally don’t like nutmeg.

1 bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped (8 – 10 cups)
1/2 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried (or 1 Tablespoon fresh) thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne


Preheat oven to 400F.

Pulse kale in food processor till finely chopped.
Put in large bowl. Add other ingredients. Stir to combine.

Divide amongst a dozen greased medium-sized muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes.

They will fall apart when hot, so let them cool several minutes before removing. These can be eaten warm or cold. Great as finger food.

February 8, 2013 Posted by | food | , , | 4 Comments

Cauliflower au Gratin

Simple and yummy! The kids all had several helpings.

a head of cauliflower, chopped in bite-sized pieces. (Include the stems. Cauliflower stems are just as yummy as the florets! Unlike broccoli, you don’t even have to peel them.)

butter (about 3 tablespoons, and yes, you can use margerine)
flour (I add it a tablespoon at a time, up to about 4 of them)
milk (I start with a cup, and add more as I go, up to about 2 cups)

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 – 1 cup grated cheese of your choice

1. Put cauliflower in largish pot, cover with water, bring to boil. (When it reaches a boil, turn to steady simmer.)
2. Meantime, preheat oven to 350F. Butter a medium-sized casserole dish.
3. Make white sauce:
— melt butter over medium heat
— slowly whisk in flour till you get a thick paste of butter and flour
— add milk gradually and steadily, whisking all the while
— raise heat to med-high, keep stirring. It will thicken quite quickly, within three minutes or so. Remove from heat. (It will keep thickening the whole time it’s on the heat, so if you want more sauce, keep on the heat and just add more milk. When you get the amount and consistency you want (about two cups), remove from heat.
4. Drain cauliflower, put in casserole dish
5. Pour white sauce over cauliflower, stir once or twice
6. Combine bread crumbs and cheese, and sprinkle over top.

Bake 10 minutes, till top is melted and a bit crunchy.


January 30, 2013 Posted by | food | , , , , | 3 Comments

Menu Monday

Monday: Meatloaf, salad, mashed potatoes

Tuesday: No-noodle vegetarian lasagna, garlic bread

Wednesday: Stuffed peppers, cauliflower au gratin

Thursday: No-crust veggie quiche, veggie fritters (Mine fritters based loosely on this recipe, but we’ll be using zucchini, carrots and onions. Veggie fritters are a great way to use up vegetables. I also bake, rather than fry, them, not so much for health reasons as that baking is so much tidier and less work!)

Friday: Cheese quesadillas, braised eggplant

January 28, 2013 Posted by | food | , , , | 1 Comment

Black bean enchilada bake

This one can be as basic or as fancied-up as you wish. I had a recipe once, no idea where I got it any more, but I’ve made it so many times I no longer use the recipe. Instead, I think in terms of component parts, and go from there.

I’ll give you the parts, I’ll suggest variations, and you can take it from there! Obviously, the ingredients will vary enormously depending on how you decide to whip it up. I’ll give you a basic list.

This is a layered dish, containing:

the tortilla layer
the protein layer
the veggie/sauce layer — this is the layer where you can really go to town, if you’re so inclined.
grated cheese on top


Tortilla layers: 3 large tortillas

Protein layer:
black beans (I like to smoosh these a bit. It’s strictly a texture thing. If you don’t mind eating little round smooth things, no smooshing required.)
tofu (I use extra-firm, crumbled)
Any combination of the above, totaling a cup, to a cup and a half. I rarely use hamburger, but when I do, never more than 200 grams. (A bit less than half a pound.)

I rarely use hamburger because I’m mostly vegetarian by inclination, and because you have to brown the meat first, which adds an extra step, and an extra pan to clean! Seems I’m lazy by inclination, too…

Veggie/Sauce layer:
2 onions, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced thin
Sautee the vegetables until soft.

Now, this is the very, very basic ingredient list, and me, I never stop there. You can add anything here, just keep them thinly sliced or finely diced. I’ve used mushrooms, diced (previously cooked) carrots, grated fresh carrots, zucchini, eggplant, squash, finely chopped kale… Really. Whatever you like!

I don’t measure, but I suspect that if you go much over two-three cups total, you might have trouble squeezing it all in the two layers. (Oh, well! You’ll just need an extra tortilla for the extra veggie layer! This is a very flexible dish!)

Sauce: Generally I use whatever jarred spaghetti sauce we have on hand, but a large can of crushed tomatoes will do just fine, and will likely have less sodium! Mix half a cup in with the veggies; save another few tablespoons for the top tortilla.

Grated cheese
. Cheddar, usually, as much as seems reasonable, though I’ve used hard, sorta dried-up feta in the past with good results. I tend to grate directly on to the dish as I prepare it, so I can’t tell you how much I use.


Preheat oven to 375F.

Put one tortilla in your baking dish. (Anything with a bit of an edge, as it will seep a bit. I use a quiche dish or a pie dish.)

Spread half the meat mixture on the tortilla.

Spread half the veggie mixture on top.

(You can sprinkle on a wee bit of grated cheddar, if you like.)

Another tortilla, followed by the rest of the meat mixture, and the rest of the veggie mixture.

Top it with the last tortilla, smear the tortilla with sauce, and top with a generous amount of grated cheese. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted.

We cut ours into pie-shaped slices with a pizza wheel. Along with a salad and a hot vegetable, this serves our family of four — which includes a 19-year-old (female) and a 23-year-year old (male) — without difficulty.

January 5, 2013 Posted by | food | , , , | 6 Comments

Vegetable Muffins

Preheat oven to 375F.

3 – 4 cups of medium diced vegetables
(May include mushroom, zucchini, onion, peppers, eggplant, sundried tomatoes, corn, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli … If using onions and/or mushrooms, sautee till soft first. If using hard vegetables like carrot, either grate, or use cooked leftovers.)

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated cheese

6 eggs
1/2 cup milk

1. Prep vegetables as needed, then mix all together in bowl.

2. Fill regular sized, greased muffin tin 2/3 full of vegetable mix.

3. Whisk eggs and milk together in small bowl or large measuring cup. Pour over vegetables.

4. Top with grated cheese.

Bake for ~25 minutes, till brown at edges. Will firm up as they cool, so best not eaten straight from the oven.

October 29, 2012 Posted by | food | , , , , | 6 Comments

Tahini Dressing

I use this to dress a salad made of equal parts raw, grated beets and carrots, and shredded fresh spinach. I toss in some cubes of fried tofu and a couple handfuls of slivered almonds and dried cranberries. Sooooo good.

I’ve tweaked the original recipe quite a bit, so I’ll give you both versions, and you can pick the one you like!


1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable oil

Puree all ingredients except oil in a blender. Add oil in slow, steady stream.

My version:

First, I found it made a LOT of dressing. I never used that much, so I divided it in half. It’s very tasty, though, so if you use be before it goes bad (or, like me, you forget it in the back of the fridge), make the full batch!

1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (optional. If I don’t have them, I don’t use them. It effects the nutritional value, but not the taste, at least not to my tastebuds’ awareness!)
1/6 cup soy sauce (I’ll use tamari if I have it, but I often don’t.)
1/6 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup water (I played with oil, oil and water, and finally landed on plain water. It doesn’t affect the taste, and you get a creamy texture by keeping the tahini at 2 tablespoons. And NO CALORIES IN WATER! Also, much more heart-friendly for my wonderful husband, who has to watch that stuff.)

Plop it all in a blender, and whirl till smooth.

July 16, 2012 Posted by | food | , , | 3 Comments

Menu Monday

Monday: Presidential chili, baking-powder biscuits

Tuesday: Golden pot stickers, vegetables with peanut sauce

Wednesday: Lentil-beet salad

Thursday: Jambalaya

Friday: Quinoa Patties, frozen corn niblets

February 27, 2012 Posted by | daycare, food | , , , | 5 Comments

Butter chicken and more

Butter Chicken
for 4 – 6 people

This recipe game from Stephanie O’Dell’s crockpot blog, but I don’t do it in a crockpot (much as I love mine), because I find that chicken cooks down to really disgusting texture-free goo in the crockpot.

chicken, one thigh (no back attached) per person
1 onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, chopped (not too fine)
15 cardamom pods (see below)
2 teaspoons (10 g) curry powder
1/2 t (3 g) ground cayenne
2 teaspoons (10 g) garam masala
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) ground ginger
1 can (13.5 ounces/400 mL) coconut milk
155 mL (5.5 oz) can tomato paste
4 tablespoons (60 g) butter
2 tablespoons (30 g) lemon juice
1 cup (250 g) plain yoghurt


Re: cardamom pods: you don’t want these things floating loose in the broth. They’re rubbery and splintery to bite into, most unpleasant. So, you either stitch them together, which is a pain, frankly, or you put them in a muslin or cheesecloth bag. If your kitchen is like mine, you don’t own a muslin or cheesecloth bag. SOOOO, what you do, if you’re brilliant and creative, like me, is take a teabag and snip on corner off (or, in my case, on teeny sliver of the round), tip the tea out (or into a teapot), and fill with cardamom pods. Fold the teabag closed, and secure with a twist-tie. You’ll still need to fish it out before you eat, but it’s way easier to find than 15 small seedpods!

Word to the wise: use solid metal twist-tie. You don’t want melted plastic or paper bits in your broth!

1. Roast chicken. I do this the day before, and remove meat from bones in largish chunks. I suspect you could just cook the meat in with everything else… it’s just that I’ve never done it that way, so I don’t know!

2. Preheat oven to 275F (135C).

3. Put everything but the meat and the yoghurt into a casserole dish with a lid. Stir. It doesn’t matter if the butter is solid — it’ll melt soon enough!

4. Cover and bake for two hours, then, stir, add the chicken and continue to cook (covered) for another hour.

5. Stir in the yoghurt just before serving. (I admit I forget this half the time. It’s still perfectly delicious, but it would be creamier and not quite so spicy with the yoghurt in!)

Serve with rice or naan.

(I’ve served this to the tots before, and they all like it. Theirs always gets the yoghurt, and is served over rice, which makes it milder. I find that kids are far more tolerant of spices than we often give them credit for.)

I don’t recall where I found this recipe, which I’ve altered substantially, anyway.
Cucumber salad with lime-pepper dressing

3 English cucumbers, cut into 1/2 cm cubes. (Slice them lengthwise first, then again, so you have 12 or so long skinny sorta-rectangular strips. Then slice across the stack of strips to make bunches of cubes.)

1 tomato, coarsely chopped (skin and seeds and all)

1 onion, sliced into thin rings (I usually slice the rings in half)

(If serving as vegetarian entree, add 1 can chickpeas.)


1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and thin-sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
3 tablespoons (45g) chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons (45ml) oil
4 tablespoons (60ml) lime juice
fresh-ground pepper to taste

Toss all dressing ingredients into a blender and whirl until as smooth as it’s going to get. (It’ll have green flecks.)

Pour the dressing over the vegetables, stir, then sit in fridge for at least an hour.

And this one comes from Extending the Table, a fabulous source of delicious recipes!

Spicy Cauliflower

Put into blender:
1 cup onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons ginger root, finely chopped

Blend it up. Add a small sploosh of water as needed to get it to form into a goopy paste. Leave it in blender while you do the next bit:

Preheat oven to 350F (185C)

Put into casserole:
4 medium tomatoes, cut into thin slices
3/4 cup green beans (the recipe calls for peas, but I like beans better. Use peas if you prefer!)
1/2 t (3g) cayenne
1 t (5g) turmeric
1 t (5g) salt
1 medium cauliflower, cut up into florets. (You can use the stalks, too.)

Pour the contents of the blender over the vegetables in the casserole dish. Add 1/4 cup of water.

Cook, covered, for 30 – 40 minutes until the cauliflower is as soft as you prefer it. I left it for an hour, and it was too mooshy for my taste — but still tasted good! (And no, I wouldn’t seriously expect many of the kids to enjoy this, but they’d all be expected to try a bite, just to see! Emily, though? Emily LOVES spicy!)

February 18, 2010 Posted by | food | , , , , , , , | 13 Comments