Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Ten Years Ago, and Fall Colours


The fall leaves haven't reached their colour peak yet this year, so my camera is on stand by.  Waiting to capture the spectacular show that the trees put on each year.  Until then...flashback to ten years ago.  Many of the leaves were already on the ground, the kids were a lot smaller, and small town fall fairs were a must-see attraction.















Ontario Parks provides a handy map to help find the best of the changing leaves and fall colours.  If you're in the area, check it out:



 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Photo A Day


Instagram lately.


I haven't been taking a lot of photos these past few weeks, aside from the quickies that make their way to Instagram.  It's a good thing too, otherwise I might not have a record of the dirty dishes on my stove, or the crappy weather we've been having.

I'm still in an end of summer funk.


I did perk up a little last week when I got an email from ThisLife by Shutterfly.  I'd forgotten that I signed up for their photo storage site months ago, and they sent a really cool "on this day seven years ago" message which put a smile on my face.


Wow, seven years.  Holy lobsters.  Looking at the photos I could swear it was only a couple of years ago.  I wonder what memories will show up in my inbox next?



Monday, 15 September 2014

One Pan Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta


In my never ending quest for quick, healthy, and tasty weeknight meals, I find myself referring more to Pinterest and a few favourite food bloggers, and less to the collection of cookbooks I've built over the years.

Which is how I stumbled across this recipe at Iowa Girl Eats.  I made some minor changes to accommodate what I had on hand, and increased the quantities to allow for many teenagers feeding at the same time.  I ended up with an amazing dish that everyone ate, it took me less than an hour to make, and I only dirtied one pan....and a cutting board...and a knife... and a spatula.


Red and green peppers, and a Vidalia onion.


Mild Italian sausages, because not everyone in our house likes the hot ones.  Use Hot Italian sausages if you prefer.


When they're finished cooking, remove them from the pan and cut into quarters.  Then sauté your veggies in the same pan.


Pour in some chicken stock and marinara sauce, along with a few spices.  Add the pasta and sausages.  Simmer until the pasta is cooked.  Eat.



One Pan Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta

2 packages Italian sausage, 10 sausages total
1/4 cup water
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 large white Vidalia onion, or one small cooking onioin, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth 
3 cups marinara sauce
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp crushed chili pepper 
1/4 tsp thyme
1 lb / 900 g penne pasta

Cook the sausages in a large pan, this will feed eight people....unless you cut the quantities in half.  Once they start to brown, pour in 1/4 cup of water so they don't blacken and stick to the pan.  While they're cooking, slice up your peppers and onions.  When the sausages are cooked through, remove to a plate or cutting board.

Sauté the peppers and onions in the same pan that the sausages cooked it.  Don't clean it...you want to keep those pan flavours.  When the veggies are crisp tender, add the garlic and sauté for another minute or so.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour in the chicken broth (I used turkey broth) and a good quality, authentic marinara sauce.  This is not the time to be opening up the Ragu or the Prego.  I used a jar of the White Linen Marinara Sauce from Costco. Stir in the spices and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the pasta and ensure it is entirely covered by the liquid. Cut the cooked sausages into quarters and place them on on top of the rest of the ingredients in the pan. Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes until the pasta is cooked al dente. Stir and serve, with or without some shredded cheese or shaved parmesan on top :)





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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Hemp Seed Muffins


I was up at 5am today.  Early enough that I finished two cups of coffee before the sun even came up.  Usually, I'm hitting the snooze button at 6am, sometimes even at 6:30am... playing the can-I-still-get-ready-and-get-lunches-packed-in-less-than-an-hour game with myself every time I whack the alarm clock.

I am not a morning person.


But this morning I was on a mission.  Evenings have been busy since school and hockey have started back up.  We spent most of the weekend at a hockey tournament, and even though I was patting myself on the pack for getting the laundry done, the much needed trip to the grocery store didn't happen.  Instead we were picking up milk, bread, bananas, juice, hot dogs, and pizza on our way back and forth to the tournament.


Last night, after spending the evening back at the rink, I realized there wasn't a bagel or slice of bread left in the house.  No cold cuts, no cream cheese.  The staples required to feed my sandwich and bagel loving crew were gone, and I was too tired to do anything about it.  So I did what I've done many times before.  I set my bread maker on time delay, and got busy making pizza buns bright and early this morning.


Of course, there weren't any granola bars left either...just three empty boxes sitting in the cupboard masquerading as granola bars.  So while the pizza buns were rising, a quick batch of muffins took shape.


Over-ripe bananas, oatmeal, chocolate.... and hemp seeds.  I sort of  felt like I was cheating on my beloved chia seeds when I threw them in, but these are some healthy little seeds, and they made me feel a whole lot better about the pizza and hot dogs.

 


Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Hemp Seed Muffins

Ingredients
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 ripe bananas - mashed
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F and line a muffin tin with 12 baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, hemp seeds, yogurt and milk. Set aside to soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining dry ingredients in a small bowl: flour through nutmeg.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed bananas with oil and egg. Add to the soaking oat mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until just barely combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Do not overmix or you’ll end up with tough, dry muffins.
  6. Scoop batter evenly into 12 lined muffin tins, filling each to about 3/4 full. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
This made 18 small muffins.  I should have doubled the recipe!

Click here to go to my Pizza Buns recipe:


And if you're looking for another chocolatey oatmeal muffin, try this one.  It has pumpkin, flax, and chia seeds:






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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Back to School, and Overnight Crock Pot Oatmeal


Yesterday was the first day school.  So far so good.  For two days in a row I've been unusually well organised, in part thanks to breakfast that cooked itself overnight in the Crock Pot.  


And because I'm still mourning the end of summer, I have more summer photos to share.












Wiarton.  Home of Wiarton Willy, the groundhog that declared six more weeks of winter after we'd already endured the longest winter ever.








We had a hockey practice last night, and I picked up my first spiced pumpkin latte of the season to sip at the rink.  Truth be told, I didn't really enjoy it.  The kids might be back to school, and the nights might be getting cooler, but I'm not ready to embrace all things pumpkin yet.

These three headed back to class yesterday.  


College classes started today.  University next week.  So cliche, but they really do grow up way too fast.


Overnight Carrot Coconut Crock Pot Oatmeal

2 cups rolled oats (NOT quick cooking oats)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tbsp butter*
1 tbsp coconut oil*
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup shredded coconut
4 cups water
2 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot.  Set on 'warm' and cook for 8 hours.  Stir before serving.  Top with milk, brown sugar, coconut and/or chopped nuts.

* I've discovered that sauteeing the shredded carrots in butter and oil (or ghee if you have it) brings out the natural sweetness of the carrots and minimizes the 'raw' carrot taste.  I saute them until they become pale in colour, but not long enough for them to brown.  You'll notice they no longer smell raw, at this point they're ready to add to the crock pot with the rest of the ingredients.  This step is optional, so only use the butter/oil/ghee if you choose to saute the carrots first.  The oatmeal tastes great whether you choose to add the carrots raw or sauteed to your crock pot.  

Need another overnight breakfast recipe?  Try Overnight Oven Baked French Toast.





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