Sunday, December 30, 2012

Turn A Sick Day into a Prep Day

It's another chilly day here on Christmas vacation. Only 8 days left. My little one has had a bad cough for the last couple days so we are staying inside. But I was feeling a little like Old Mother Hubbard, and despitly needed a grocery store. All I had in my fruit & veggie drawers was half an onion, a wrinkled carrot and a very sad looking apple. My husband looked after the boys for a bit while I wandered the aisles of the grocery store.

Being stuck at home is not necessarily a bad thing. You can take the opportunity to prep the meals that are planned for the coming week. This is also a good habit to get into on shopping day. Wash and trim your fruits and vegetables, discard any questionable leftovers, blanch any vegetables you need for the next day or so, freeze meats into mealsized portions and mix any sauces you may require. Today, I made a batch of meatballs. Once they cool, place them in a freezer bag. They are now ready of a quick sauce for a quick dinner. I also cooked up a pound of bacon for our Sunday morning pancakes. You could also make a pasta sauce, cook up some meat for tacos or assemble an entire casserole (like mac & cheese) and freeze for future use.

Prep day can be an easy way to get ready an entire week of meals in just a couple hours. Prepping the night before is also an option. If you've put in the time prepping dinner before work, you'll be less likely  to choose take out or over processed meals. That's not to say you can't eat take out. But make a resolution to make it an exception, not a rule.

So, what's for dinner tonight?

Slow Cooker Arroz Con Pollo

I have some leftover rice in the fridge, so am using the slow cooker to make this Cuban classic.

2 T canola oil
8 - 12 chicken legs
Salt & pepper
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 lg can diced tomatoes
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 T oregano
1/4 C sherry
1 C chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 t achoite paste (or saffron, or paprika)
2 C cooked rice


In a skillet, heat the oil and brown the chicken legs, seasoned with salt and pepper. Transfer to slow cooker. Add onions and garlic (both minced) to the skillet and saute then transfer to the slow cooker. Add the diced tomatoes, half the peppers, celery, sherry, chicken broth, oregano and achoite paste. Cook on low 5 - 7 hours. Add remaining peppers and rice. Stir and cook for 1 hour.

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

As Seen on TV...

Well last week I had a very unique and fantastic experience when it comes to my culinary life. I appeared on a local morning news/ magazine show called Breakfast Television.( The segment was a holiday cookie exchange. I submitted my cookie recipe and was selected with 5 other recipes to be shared and exchanged on the air. That's me beside the cute blonde with the red t-shirt.

I didn't actually get to demonstrate my cookies, but it was so much fun.   Hey, BT: how about a segment featuring local food bloggers?!? I made 8 dozen cookies for this exchange, on top of the 12 dozen I made for my regular one. That is A LOT of cookies.  To see the segment as it aired, click here.

My recipe hasn't yet been posted on the Breakfast Television web site, but I can share it with you here. I love this recipe because it is so wonderfully simple. One of the things I look for in a cookie exchange recipe is to my egg-free, as the husband of someone in our exchange has an allergy to egg, and it is also gluten free. These are no-bake cookies - so anyone can make them, even if you don't like baking.


2 cups rolled oats
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup honey
1/3 cup finely shredded sweetened coconut

In a food processor, pulse the oatmeal until a fine crumb. You should get about 1 ¼ - 1 ½ cups ground oatmeal. Place in a bowl and add peanut butter and honey. Mix well.

Form into balls and roll in coconut. To freeze, place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and put in the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer to a cookie tin.

Makes about 3 dozen.

The variations for this recipe are practically endless. You can substitute 1/4 cup of the ground oatmeal for cocoa powder. You can use any nut-butter you wish, including the chocolate-hazelnut spread. You can roll in chopped nuts, chocolate shavings or sprinkles.

As an additional note, I used local honey for this recipe, from a farm near Treherne Manitoba. For more information contact:

Now, its 2 days until Christmas and admittedly I'm not as organized this year as in past years. My shopping was only done last week (usually done by dec 1) and my Christmas cards are late as well. The tree is finally up and I'm about to start wrapping. This year, as with most years we are having Christmas Eve dinner at our place; my brother and his family host Christmas morning brunch and my mom cooks this big turkey dinner Christmas night. So with all this work left to do, and several big meals on the horizon, one may ask...

What's for dinner tonight?

My advice would be "Keep it Simple"; and that's just what I'm doing. I've defrosted a little ham nugget that I'll heat in the oven for 30-40 minutes; with some potatoes and green salad. No recipe needed. This should give us enough leftovers to keep my kids in ham sandwiches until after Christmas.

Time to "Wrap it up";

Happy Holidays!