Birthday treats

It’s middle son’s birthday today.  The celebration was low-key, but nonetheless heartfelt and full of good wishes.   We sang “Happy Birthday” for him, and after he blew out the token birthday candle, we all partook of slices of his two favorite cakes–Marble Tea Cake and Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

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Broccoli Salad

IMG_2919aI love raw veggies!

Broccoli Salad

2 large florets broccoli

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

¼ cup diced red onion

5-6strips bacon, fried and crumbled

1/3 raisins or dried cranberries


1/2 -3/4 cup mayonnaise

1-2 tbsp vinegar

2-3 tsp sugar

Wash and cut broccoli into bite size pieces.  In a bowl, toss together broccoli, sunflower seeds, onion, raisins and bacon.  In a small bowl, stir together mayo, vinegar and sugar.  Pour dressing onto broccoli and mix well.  Serve immediately.

Creamy Potato Soup


I was chatting with my sister this morning, and she happens to mention she’s planning on making potato soup for lunch, and she’s using our mom’s recipe from old days.  Marvelous, I thought, me too!  So hubby was completely happy, as he’s Mr. Potato-Lover.  It’s sort of like corn chowder (one of my favorites) only with tender, bite-size pieces of potato instead of corn.  And there still a few ‘taters from last fall’s harvest in the cold storage, so bob’s your uncle…lunch!

Mom’s Potato Soup

4 medium potatoes (about 4 cups peeled and diced)

½ onion, finely diced (about ½-3/4 cup)

½ cup sour cream (low-fat or no-fat)

1 tbsp flour

½ tbsp vinegar

salt and pepper

paprika, pinch

cheddar cheese, grated for garnish

Option:  add crumbled bacon (about 7 slices)

Sauté diced onions in a bit of butter or oil till translucent.  Peel and dice potatoes.  Add potatoes and sautéed onions to a saucepan, and cover with water.  Stir in ½ tsp salt and cook till tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir together sour cream, flour, pepper to taste, pinch of paprika, and vinegar.  When potatoes and onions are tender, remove from heat.  Stir in sour cream mixture and crumbled bacon .  Return pot to low heat and simmer soup until thickened and creamy.  Add milk to thin if necessary.  Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese for garnish.  Makes about 3 – 4 servings.

Carrot Cake Loaves


I used my trusty carrot cake recipe, but doubled it and made four loaves, one to eat now, two to give, and one for the freezer.  I used buttermilk, as it gives a denser texture, which is nice in a loaf — you want to be able to spread a bit of jam and slap on a nice bit of Cheddar cheese without the slice crumbling to pieces.  I don’t normally add nuts to the carrot cake, but this time I did, as I knew who the eaters would be.  I whizzed  1  1/2 cups of pecan halves in the food processor till they were very finely chopped and stirred them in with the grated carrots.

Carrot Cake

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup coconut

3 cups grated carrots

3 eggs

½ cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk (or ½  – 2/3 cup buttermilk, which give a denser texture)

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Add coconut  and grated carrots and mix.  In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil and buttermilk.  Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.  Bake in two 8” layer pans, using parchment to line the pans, or butter and flour.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  This recipe will make about 18 cupcakes or 2 loaf pans (increase baking time to about 40 minutes for the loaf pans)



Raisin Tea Cakes


We have bit of a gloomy day today, leaden skies and intermittent snow.  Here’s a delicious way to brighten the afternoon–raisin tea cakes.  Serve warm with butter and strawberry jam.  Too bad we don’t have any Devonshire cream to dollop on top!

Raisin Tea Cakes

2 cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

½ cup cream cheese

1 cup milk

3/4 cup raisins, washed and drained

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the cream cheese and rub till mixture is crumbly.  Stir in raisins.  Add the milk and stir to make a soft dough.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead gently just until dough clings together.  Shape dough into a roll about 9″ long.  With a sharp serrated knife, cut dough into about 12 equal pieces (about 3/4″).   Place circles of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes.


Chili Mac


This is a nice, mild version of chili, with the surprising addition of elbow macaroni.  It got the thumbs up at dinner.  (I’m anticipating the leftovers to taste even better!).  You could certainly ramp up the heat with the addition of more chili paste/powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, etc, but we don’t mind if our foreheads don’t break out into a sweat while we’re eating 🙂  I used 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef and 1/2 pound of sausage meat, just because that’s what I had on hand.  It was a good ratio and I would stick with it when I make the recipe again.  You can check out the original recipe here.

Chili Mac(aroni)

500g (1 lb) ground beef

500g (1 lb) spicy sausage meat (Italian, andouille, or similar)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 ribs of celery, diced

1 540ml (19 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 398ml (14 oz) can tomato sauce

1 398ml can kidney beans

1 1/2 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked

Seasonings:  1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste, 2 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp red chili paste

grated Cheddar cheese and sour cream

In a large saute pan, saute chopped onion and celery until tender-crisp, add minced garlic and red chili paste, saute for another minute or so.  Remove to a bowl.  In the hot pan, brown ground beef and sausage meat until pink is all gone, seasoning as it is browning with 1/2 tsp salt,  freshly ground pepper to taste, and 2 tablespoons of chili powder.  Drain if necessary and place meat back in pan.  Stir in sauteed onions, celery, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and kidney beans.  Over medium heat, bring mixture to a high simmer, and continue to simmer over low heat about 20-30 minutes, stirring often.  Taste for seasoning, adding more chili powder as desired.  While chili is simmering, cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain.  When chili is ready to serve, stir in macaroni.  If pasta has cooled, let the chili come back to a simmer before serving.  Top individual servings with grated cheese and a dollop of (no-fat) sour cream.

Sausage Balls


Here’s a nifty little appetizer that basically requires only three ingredients, but if you have time, inclination and resources, you can jazz up the recipe with all sorts of flavors.  I used my stand mixer with the dough hook to mix everything together, which made it a breeze.  If you need appetizers for a large crowd, you can make a couple of batches ahead of time.  Just form the balls and freeze them, and then bake as needed.  They also go well with a cup of soup for lunch, and make a great after-school snack for the kids.  Provide some dipping sauces (ranch, sweet chili sauce, ketchup(!), etc), your kids will love ya’ !

Sausage Balls (the basic recipe)

1 lb sausage meat (your favorite kind)

3 cups Bisquick mix

4 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/8 – 1/4 cup milk, if needed

Mix all ingredients together.  If mixture seems too dry to stick together,  add some milk, a bit at a time.  Form into 1″ balls.  Place on baking sheets lined with parchment.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes until golden brown.  Serve immediately. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.


– add 1/2 cup grated parmesan or asagio cheese

– stir in a little something for heat:  red chili paste, some red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper

– choose one or two of these in small amounts:  sage, marjoram, poultry seasoning, thyme, cumin, chili powder

– sprinkle in some onion or garlic powder


Oven-baked Zucchini Fries

IMG_2527Oven-baked Zucchini Fries

3/4 cup flour

3 tsp seasoning salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2 eggs, well beaten with a pinch of salt

2 medium zucchini

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.   Line two baking sheets with parchment.   Cut zucchini into french-fry wedges, about 3″ long.  Stir together flour, seasoning salt and pepper.  Place the mixture in a shallow bowl.   In a separate shallow bowl, place the bread crumbs.   In another shallow bowl, pour the beaten eggs.  Dredge the zucchini wedges in the flour, then dip each wedge into the beaten egg, and finally roll in the panko crumbs.  Place wedges on baking sheets and bake for about 20 minutes, until crust is golden brown and crisp and zucchini is hot and tender.  Serve immediately.  Offer dipping sauces on the side – buttermilk ranch, tomato coulis, etc.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes and Garlic


Toss chunks of potato and peeled cloves of garlic with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Spray a baking dish with no-stick spray to prevent potatoes from sticking to the pan.  Add a couple of sprigs of rosemary.  Bake in a hot oven (425 degrees F) until potatoes are sizzling, browned and fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Saskatoon Berry Tarts

IMG_1739It’s saskatoon time here on the prairies.  That means tarts, pies and jam, although this year I’m not feeling the jam and pies, gonna stick with the tarts.

The “recipe” is pretty fluid:  for 4 cups of berries, start with a scant cup of white sugar, 3 tablespoons of corn starch, and a 1/4 cup of water.  Stir the sugar and cornstarch together, then add the water.  Add just enough water to be able to melt the sugar and cornstarch together.  Pour over the berries in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring often, until berries release their juice, and mixture is hot and bubbly and has thickened.  Taste at this point and add a bit of extra sugar if necessary.  A teaspoon or two of lemon juice helps cut a too-sweet flavor.  Let the berries cool about 40 minutes, stirring gently from time to time, then fill tart shells.   For 3″ tarts, use about 1/8 cup of filling per tart.  A batch of filling this size should fill about 12-15 tarts.  Bake tarts at 375°F for about 14 minutes until pastry is golden and filling is bubbly.  Remove from oven and cool before serving.


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