Thursday, January 29, 2009

Easy Beef Stroganoff

On Sunday I wasn't feeling overly inspired when it came to making dinner. I decided that given my non-inspired mood I’d look through my stack of recipes and find an easy recipe we had enjoyed in the past.

Easy Beef Stroganoff
From the Food Network courtesy of Rachel Ray
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds of beef tenderloin fillet cut into strips or bite-size pieces (see note)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons of butter, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups of beef consommé (fancy name for beef broth)
2 teaspoons of Dijon style mustard
1/4 cup sour cream, eyeball it
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
1/2 small onion chopped (I chop it as small as I can)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cornichons ( I omit these as I never have any on hand)
1 pound extra wide egg noodles (or your favorite pasta noodle) cooked
Chopped parsley leaves (for garnish purposes only)

1. Slice meat and season with salt and pepper. Set in freezer.

2. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and cook with flour for 1 minute. Whisk in consommé (broth). Thicken 1 minute. Stir in mustard and sour cream, thicken 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and season sauce with salt and pepper.

3. Heat a second skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil (see note below) and 1 tablespoon of butter, then add meat and onion and cook over high heat until brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Then add the chopped cornichons and stir to combine.

4. Arrange meat on a bed of egg noodles and top with Stroganoff sauce and parsley. Serve with your favorite bread.

Note- Sometimes I haven't had the beef tenderloin on hand so have substituted for 1 pound of hamburger meat. Though I prefer the dish with the tenderloin, we still enjoy it with the hamburger meat too.

Note- I don't add the tablespoon of oil to the tablespoon of butter when cooking the meat and onion. I did that once and found it to be a little too oily. I have found that using the 1 tablespoon of butter alone works wonderfully.

Dinner Omelet

The other night I wasn't in the mood to make a big dinner. On the way home from work I had been reading my Cook's Country cookbook on the bus and I came across this omelet recipe. Nana Sandy usually makes omelets for Gabe for breakfast so I knew that he wouldn't object. Gabe LOVES eggs. Brad enjoyed it too. It was just fun to try a different recipe than the one I have always made. I didn't have all the equipment I needed, but managed to improvise which is sometimes part of the fun of trying a new recipe for me I find.

Fluff Dinner-Style Cheese and Canadian bacon Omelet
From The Cook's Country Cookbook
Serves 2

3 tablespoons of heavy cream- chilled
5 large eggs at room temperature- (this is the key to a fluffy omelet)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of salted butter
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream to soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Set the whipped cream aside. Beat the eggs and salt in a clean bowl on high speed until frothy and the eggs have triples in volume, about 2 minutes. Gently fold whipped cream into the eggs.

2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch oven safe non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, swirling the pan to completely coat the bottom and sides with melted butter. Add the egg mixture and cook until the edges are nearly set, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese and Canadian bacon (I cut mine into strips) and transfer to the oven (see note below).

3. Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese and let sit, covered until the cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute. Tilt the pan and, using a rubber spatula, push half of the omelet onto a cutting board. Tilt the skillet so that the omelet folds over onto itself to form a half moon. Cut the omelet in half and serve.

NOTE- I didn't have an oven safe skillet, so I used my regular non-stick skillet and when the sides were set (step 2) I carefully slid the omelet into a 9 inch cake pan (see picture below). Although my cake pan was a little smaller than the 10 inch skillet it worked just fine. I then cooked the omelet in the oven as directed.

New old family pictures

We had these taken in April of last year just before we were sealed. It has taken me this long to finally get all the pictures together ready for printing. Here are some of my favorites.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My smart lil guy- I have to brag!

Yesterday I took Gabe to see Doctor Doug to have his 15 month check-up. Though Gabe is on the smaller end of the scale when it comes to weight, I was thrilled when Doctor Doug told me that Gabe was in the 81st percentile for height. Doctor Doug’s exact words were "He is a tall little guy". I was thrilled.

After a thorough physical examination, and an assurance that all looked great, Dr. Doug asked me how Gabe’s speech was progressing. He advised me that at his age Gabe should be able to say 3 words. I was dumbfounded. Three words you say? When I proceeded to rattle off a list of things Gabe could say Dr. Doug was blown away and said that Gabe was at least 6 months advanced in his speech. Again I was thrilled. This was a great visit!

Gabe is such a smart little guy and has been babbling ever since we brought him home. I can still remember when he was handed to me and I recall that he looked rather somber. After just a few minutes of me holding his hand and talking to him in the back of the car it was as though he came alive. He has been flourishing ever since. Currently he can say- Mum, Dad, Nana, Nat, Bridger, Shelbi and Blaine or Baine, pa pa (grandpa), tickle tickle, Jesus, this, that, up, down, eyes, nose, hi, kisses, close, bubba, shoot (that one is my fault…whoops!), no no no, uh oh, yes, hot, almost love you and I may be forgetting some. In recent weeks he has started saying two syllabal words and is even putting words together. Like “uh oh Daddy” or last night he said “love you Da Da”. He also knows some sign language (more, eat, please & finished), can snap his fingers, wave hello and goodbye, blow kisses, give real kisses, clap his hands, point out body parts (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hair, tummy), make animal noises and all of that fun stuff.

When Doctor Doug left the room to get the mean shot lady I turned to Gabe and said "Gabe can you say doctor?" Much to my surprise he looked straight at me with a smile on his face and clearly said "doctor". In response to my shrills of delight and praise he just smiled back. Oh how I love that little angel!

While I was driving home, I couldn't help but reflect (yet again) on how lucky Brad and I are to have our little Gabe. He brings us so much joy. I am also SO thankful to Nana Sandy who looks after Gabe while we are at work. She has worked day in and day out with our little man talking, teaching and reading to him. Since Gabe spends so much time with Nana during the day Brad and I just can't claim all the credit for just how smart he is. Thanks Nana Sandy! We don't know what we would do without you!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chocolate Blackout Cake

I made this cake for dessert to go with our potato soup on Thursday night. I had watched the experts make it on America's Test Kitchen more than once. Every time I watched it I would get more and more excited about making it. I hate to say though, that I was a little disappointed when the big tasting moment arrived. However, in the same breath let me say that it was to no fault of the recipe but my fault alone.

There were 3 things I made that I will be sure not to repeat when I make this next time. 1. This recipe calls for 1 cup of strong brewed coffee and I think I may have made it a little too strong. 2. When purchasing the unsweetened chocolate for the pudding I wasn't too sure what to buy. I noticed at the store that they had 60% cocoa unsweetened chocolate and 100% cocoa unsweetened chocolate. Not knowing which one to get I went with the 100%. For me this made the pudding too rich and so next time I'll go for the 60%. 3. I thought that my cake pans were 8 inch, but it turns out that they were 9 inch. Not a big deal with some cakes but with this one it was. Each baked cake is supposed to be cut in half once cooled for layering purposes and because I used 9 inch pans, my cakes were thinner and this presented a challenge not only when cutting the cakes but also when layering.

That being said, the cake was still delicious and I will definitely make it again. It was just a little too rich. I am always on a quest to find moist cake recipes. For me what makes a cake is how moist it is and this one delivers. The cake itself without the pudding is rich, dense and oh so moist. I am not claiming defeat yet!

Chocolate Blackout Cake
From Cooks Country

Serves 8-10 -Easily!

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting pans
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. FOR THE PUDDING: Whisk the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium saucepan and slowly whisk in half-and-half and milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chocolate and cook, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth, about 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla. Transfer the pudding to a large bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate the pudding until cold, about 4 hours.

2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the over to 325 degrees. Grease two 8-inch cake pans, then dust with cocoa powder and line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.

3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the coffee, buttermilk, and the sugars until dissolved. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture until no streaks remain. (The batter will be very loose.)

4. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and gently tap the pans on the work surface to settle the batter. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through backing.

5. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes, then flip them out onto a wire rack. Peel of the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and let cool completely before filling and frosting about 2 hours.

6. Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Slice each cake into two even layers using a long serrated knife. Crumble one of the cake layers into medium-sized crumbs.

7. Place one of the cake layers on the platter. Spread 1 cup of pudding over the cake right to the edges. Top with a second layer of cake and spread with another 1 cup of pudding. Place the remaining cake layer on top and press lightly to adhere. Frost the cake with the remaining pudding. Sprinkle the cake crumbs evenly over the top and press them onto the sides of the cake. Remove the parchment strips from the platter before serving.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Finally a recipe that I didn't steal from another blog!

This recipe for Loaded Baked Potato Soup is from the Cooks Country Cookbook. It was quite easy to make and really yummy. Last night we had four of our good friends and their little ones over for a dinner party and I made this soup. The soup had some elements to it that I would never have thought of which made it different to most potato soup recipes I've seen or tasted. I think this is probably my new favorite potato soup recipe and will be one that I plan to make time and time again.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
From Cooks Country

Serves 8

8 slices of bacon, chopped
3 pounds of russet potatoes, scrubbed (I used washed potatoes)
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup of heavy cream
1 sprig of fresh thyme (I used 1/4 tsp of dried thyme instead)
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus additional for garnish
3 scallions, sliced thin for garnishing(I omitted these- but by accident)

1. Cook the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. While the bacon is cooking, use a vegetable peeler to remove wide strips of peel from the potatoes; reserve the peels. Cut the peeled potatoes into 3/4 inch pieces. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with oaoer towels. Add the reserved potato skins to the bacon fat in the pot and cook until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potato skins to the plate with the bacon.

2. Add the onion to the fat remaining in the pot and cook over medium heat until golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and flour and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth and cream, stir in the thyme and potatoes, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 7 minutes.

3. If you used fresh thyme, discard the thyme sprig and transfer 2 cups of the cooked potatoes to a bowl (if you used the dried thyme, there is no need to remove it). Puree the remaining soup in batched in a blender until smooth (I used my hand-held bar mixer or slender blender and did it right in the pot). Reurn the soup to the pot and warm over medium-high heat. Off the heat, stir in the cheese until melted, then whisk in the sour cream. Return the reserved potatoes to the pot and season the soup with pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls (I served this in bread bowls) and garnish with bacon, fried potato skins, scallions, cheese and sour cream.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

An Adoption Poem

I wrote this a while back and found it today in a notebook. Thought I'd share. Keep in mine I am NO poet.

When two meet and fall in love, something special is started.
With an ever growing love and enhanced life experience comes the desire for the couple to share their love with a little one.
A petition is made to heaven for an angel to be sent to join this loving union.
For many this means nine months of planning and anticipation.
For others it means years of yearning, innumerable tears and seemingly unbearable heartache.
Then through the definers fire, the couple is prepared for the greatest of all miracles.
Through miraculous circumstances an angel is sent to fill the couples hearts with joy and love.
Hearts are mended and tears of heartache are replaces with tears of joy.
Faith is restored.
The union is complete.
A match made in Heaven, a family created for eternity.

A Canker Sore- Did you know?

Since I have had my braces, even the slightest bump to my mouth seems to cause not just one but MANY horrendous canker sores or ulcers as we called them in Australia. Anyone who has ever had one knows how painful they are and how miserable they can make you feel. Every time I got one or more I would feel so discouraged knowing that the next 7 days would not be pleasant and there wasn't a darn thing I could do to get rid of the little buggers.

At my last orthodontist appointment I happened to mention, in passing, to my orthodontist that it seems like I have had a lot more canker sores than usual since I got my braces. He told me that when he had his braces he had the same problem (some people do). He was advised by another more senior orthodontist that eating one tub of yogurt a day can keep the canker sores at bay. That's all I needed to hear. Sure enough the next week I had 3 large painful cankers and in remembering his advice started to down the yogurt. Much to my pleasant surprise all of the sores were gone in 2 days as opposed to the usual 7 days! I was healed! I could talk and eat again without wanting to cry!

Just thought I'd pass on this info. It really does work. Just one more benefit of getting your yogurt on!

The Bible

When the mailman pulled up to our mailbox on Saturday I could have kissed him. I can't remember the last time I was so excited to see the mailman. Finally it was here! My long awaited cookbook or the Bible as I have dubbed it and DVD set from America's Test Kitchen was finally in my hot little hands. It was a belated birthday present from two of my sister in laws- Liz and Shanna. I will love them forever for this gift!

For those of you who haven't heard of Cooks Country or America's Test Kitchen, It is not only the best TV show on KBYU on Saturdays but America’s Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Their mission is to develop the absolute best recipes for all of our favorite foods. To do this, they test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until they arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe.

My idea of a perfect Saturday is waking up, making a yummy breakfast for my two boys, Jam at the gym and then catching my favorite cooking shows on KBYU. America's Test Kitchen is by far my favorite and I had been coveting this book and DVD set for months! Thanks Shanna and Liz! Tonight we are having two couples over for dinner and I am so excited to make my first two recipes from the book- Loaded Baked Potato Soup and Chocolate Blackout Cake. Mmmmmmmmmmm!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A New Word- One of my Favorites!

It seems that every day Gabe is learning a new trick or trying out new words. Though this seems to have been one of the most challenging stages of development with him being so mobile, VERY determined and at times wildly independent it has also been so much fun. There is nothing like watching him discover and then master a new skill or hearing him say a new word for the first time.

This morning when I went into Gabe's room to get him out of bed I said "Gabe can mummy have kisses?" To my surprise he responded by saying "kisses". At first I thought it was fluke so I said it again and then he repeated it 3 more times and once for Daddy. I couldn't wait to show Nana Sandy when we dropped him off this morning. First he said it for Bridger and Savannah and then once for Nana right before we left. I was SO proud.

Making the move- Look at those puckered up lips.


I am so grateful for everyday that I have to spend with my little angel and for every chance I have to kiss those cute little lips.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stromboli, Apple Cake and Yellow Walls

This past weekend we were busy mudding, sanding, sheet-rocking, banging, priming and painting. Our kitchen is coming along and we now have two of the kitchen walls painted. I chose a shade of yellow and absolutely love it. It is amazing how it brightens up the somewhat dark and small space and instantly gives the room a lift. While we were eating dinner last night and admiring the newly painted walls I said to Brad "I think it would be impossible to be in this room and feel grumpy". It is so true, since we have painted even just the two walls; I find myself just standing in the kitchen staring at the walls. It feels like a little slice of summer sunshine even though it is cold and snowy outside!

Our next task is to choose tile to go on the backsplash above the counter tops and then we will finish the painting once the remaining walls are patched up. I am so grateful to have a husband who is so clever and talented when it comes to building and remolding our little old house.

Here is a swatch of the color I chose. It is called "Song of Summer"

This past weekend amongst the dusty madness that was our kitchen I still managed to get in some cooking therapy. Ever since I found the recipe for Apple Bars and loved it, I have been on the hunt for other yummy apple recipes. Last week I found this one for Apple Cake at It was delicious!

Apple Cake

6 medium apples (about 4 cups)- See note
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 cups flour
3 large eggs
3/4 cups oil
1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350° and peel the apples and dice into small bite size pieces. Set aside.

With the apples set aside, combine the oil, vanilla and sugar in a bowl and mix well. Then add the eggs one at a time and mix each one in well. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a sifter over the bowl with the wet mixture. It is not necessary to sift the dry ingredients into a separate bowl before combining with wet mixture. Tap the rim of the sifter until it's all in, and then mix again. Stir until there are no lumps. Add half the diced apple and half the chopped nuts to the mixture and combine. Once combined spread mixture evenly into a 9X13 greased pan.
Distribute the rest of the apples evenly over the top of the cake and press them into the batter. Then top with the rest of the nuts.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. You might have to hunt around to find a spot you can stick it in without hitting an apple.

Let it cool for a couple of minutes before serving. I served mine with a drizzle of caramel ice cream syrup over the top. Yummy! This is definitely a cake I would make again.

NOTE- This cake was delicious, bit there is something I would do differently next time. I almost felt like there was a little too much apple in the actual cake. The cake itself was very tasty and I found myself wanting more cake at times. Next time I think I'd only use 3 cups of apple. I'd put 2 and a quarter cups of apples in the batter and reserve the remaining 3/4 of a cup for the top.


Ever heard of it? I hadn't until last week when I found this recipe on I made this for dinner last night and LOVED it. I'm all about anything Italian so I may be a little biased. However, this was quick, easy and fun to make. It is like a warm, soft, and crispy on the outside roll filled with your favorite pizza toppings. I can't wait to make it again and experiment some more with different fillings.

To make the dough from scratch-

2 ½ cups lukewarm water
2 tsp. yeast
1 Tbs. salt
3 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
6 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in water, add remaining ingredients, let sit for 20 minutes knead for 2-3 minutes. Divide dough in half, let sit 10 minutes. Roll each out into a rectangle.

OR cheater style (this is what I did as I was making this while we were still working on the kitchen)

Rhodes Frozen Loaf dough

Thaw 1 loaf of bread by following package directions. I used the Rhodes loaves and it took maybe 2 hours for it to be thawed enough that I could work with it.

Divide dough in half. Roll each out into a rectangle. (See note) One frozen roll cut in two makes two Stromboli’s. Once rolled out, cover with a thin layer of olive oil and then spread with mozzarella cheese. Once you have done this, you can let your imagination run wild.

NOTE- When I was rolling out the dough I was a little worried that it would be too small. Don't panic. When these bake they get quite large. I made two Stromboli and it could have easily fed four people.

I made two of these. The first one I made with Canadian bacon and pineapple (for Brad). On mine after I spread olive oil on it, I added some dried Italian herbs and some garlic bread shake I had, then I added chicken I had cooked in alfredo sauce and Canadian bacon.

Once filled- Roll rectangle lengthwise and pinch together at seam. Place seam down on a greased 9x13 cookie sheet. Tuck ends under to prevent fillings coming out during baking. Both rolls can be placed on the same baking sheet. Top generously with egg whites, garlic salt, and oregano. Cook rolls together at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The finished product

NOTE- Although Brad liked these; he thought he would have liked it even more if I had of added some tomato based sauce to his as he is a fan of sauce. I thought these were wonderful as they were as I love to taste the bread which can sometimes be masked by sauces. So it is all a matter of personal preference. The great thing about these is you can personalize them to suit individual likes. The possibilities really are endless when making these rolls. Let your creative juices run free! Next time I think I'll try adding some ricotta cheese to mine.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Italian Crockpot Chicken

This is not a picture of my chicken. I forgot to take a picture. This picture is from

I made this for dinner on Sunday. It was very easy and very delicious. I would definitely make it again.

Italian Crockpot Chicken

8 oz cream cheese
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cube of butter (I used 1/2 a cube)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 package of dry Italian dressing mix
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the chicken breasts in a crock-pot. Add the butter and the Italian dressing mix. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, and then cut up chicken breasts into small pieces. Add cream cheese (cut into cubes to melt faster). Also add the cream of chicken soup. Cook an additional half hour. Serve over rice or noodles.

I was a little nervous when I started out making this only because I could only find one kind of dry packet Italian dressing mix at Wal-mart and it said on the packet that it was zesty. My worry was all for nothing though, it was great and didn't make the dish zesty at all.

I served this over rice and it was really good. Now that I have made it, I think I could add some veggies to it to, to add not only a little more substance but also some nutrition. I think it would be good with carrots, broccoli or even bite sized pieces of potato mixed in.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gabe's haircut

Yesterday I took Gabe in for a much needed hair cut. As soon as the girl called us up, I told her that this was his second ever hair cut and that the first one went well because he was given a sucker, so as long as she could give him a sucker then we would probably be fine. To which she replied "Oh we are all out". Fabulous I thought. I fully expected to leave the salon with a screaming child who had a half haircut.

She had me sit down and covered me with the cape and then sat Gabe on my lap and did the same to him. Much to my surprise, my 16 month old ANGEL sat on my lap the entire time and did not move a muscle. I couldn't believe how good he was. I was so proud.

Though the hair dresser was unable to follow my basic instructions like - 1. I want to keep the curls and 2. Leave an inch and a half all over I was just so blown away by how good my little guy was. His hair is way too short and I am so sad his curls are gone but I know that it will all be back in no time.

Below are some bad pictures I took with my phone.


Stuffed Pasta Shells and Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding

Stuffed Pasta Shells from

½ C parmesan cheese
24 oz ricotta cheese
3 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 T basil (I was out of basil so I used some Italian seasoning I had)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 jar spaghetti sauce (I love Bertolli) add cooked ground beef

Mix cheeses, basil, salt, pepper. Add eggs. Pour ½ sauce in 9x13 pan. Stuff shells with cheese mixture. Put in pan. Pour over remaining sauce. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

For the three of us, I halved this recipe (except the sauce) and used a smaller dish. It was perfect. Just enough for us all to eat dinner and Brad to have left over’s for lunch the next day.

I made these for dinner last night. It was good, however when I make this dish again there are some things I will do differently. First of all, this recipe says to add ground beef to the pasta sauce. I thought about omitting the meat as I love to really taste the sauce, pasta and the ricotta, but because Brad prefers the meat I added it in. I added just less than 1 pound of hamburger meat to the sauce and for me it was way too much. I felt like I could only taste the hamburger. The next time I make it, I think I will leave out the meat all together and should I happen to make it with hamburger again I would only use about a quarter of a pound. I found that using as much meat as I did made the sauce too thick and chunky and I didn't love that about this dish.

The original recipe also suggested baking this for 40 minutes but I found that I need to bake mine for closer to 55 minutes.

All in all I did like this recipe. It was easy to make while Gabe was confined to his high chair eating breakfast. I love meals I can make in the morning when I have energy, pop in the fridge and then just put in the oven later on in the afternoon to cook in time for Brad to come home.

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding- from

1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/2 cup
1 cup all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons cocoa, divided into 3 tablespoons and 4 tablespoons
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 & 1/2 cups hot water
Preheat oven to 350°.

Stir together 3/4 cup sugar, flour, 3 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir in milk, butter, and vanilla, mixing until smooth. Pour into an ungreased 8-inch square glass baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, and 4 tablespoons cocoa. Sprinkle evenly over batter. Pour hot water over the top. Do not stir.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Let stand for 15 minutes, then serve. Use the chocolate sauce in the bottom of the pan to spoon over servings. Garnish, if desired, with ice cream or whipped cream.

Makes 6 servings.

My mum would make a version of this dish growing up. I am not the hugest chocolate pudding fan, but this one is yummy and is so good when paired with a dollop of whipped cream or some vanilla ice cream. Note - This recipe doesn't call for eggs. I didn't notice that until I was almost done making it and thought I'd forgotten something. I was worried that it was a typo on the recipe but the pudding worked out wonderfully. It was the perfect end to our evening. Cuddling up on the couch with my Brad, eating a yummy dessert while Gabe was tucked in bed asleep. Ahhhhhhhh!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Personality Test

Last Friday I was shooting the breeze with one of my attorney's and he mentioned a personality test that he and his family had taken online. He thought it would be interesting if I took it, so he sent me the link. These are my results. If you have a minute take the quiz and let me know what your results were. I'd say that my results fit me quite well. Being a wealthy attorney, he of course paid for the more detailed analysis, which was interesting too. He thinks my secondary color is yellow.

Basic Analysis
Congratulations, you are a blue.

blue: 64.66%
red: ??? %
white: ??? %
yellow: ??? %

Blues (Motive: Intimacy)blues are motivated by Intimacy. They seek to genuinely connect with others, and need to be understood and appreciated. Everything they do is quality-based. They are loyal friends, employers, and employees. Whatever or whomever they commit to is their sole (and soul) focus. They love to serve and give of themselves freely in order to nurture others' lives.

blues have distinct preferences and have the most controlling personality. Their personal code of ethics is remarkably strong and they expect others to live honest, committed lives as well. They enjoy sharing meaningful moments in conversation as well as paying close attention to special life events (e.g. birthdays and anniversaries). blues are dependable, thoughtful, and analytical; but can also be self-righteous, worry-prone, and moody. They are "sainted pit-bulls" who never let go of something or someone once they are committed. When you deal with a BLUE, be sincere and make a genuine effort to understand and appreciate them.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kitchen- Before the Facelift shots

So as I had mentioned in a previous post, our kitchen is getting a little facelift. On Monday night Brad tore out the baseboards and removed all the trim around the doors in preparation for the floor to be leveled. On Tuesday the floor was leveled and it has been drying for the past two days. Today is the big day! We are finally going to have tile! I am at work but feel giddy and excited. I can't wait to go home and see how the kitchen is shaping up. I have been dreaming of replacing our yucky lino for 6 years! As soon as the tile is down, we will paint and put in all new tall baseboards and trim to match the rest of our little house and will paint the walls. I am thinking that I will paint the kitchen a soft and buttery shade of yellow. It is a relatively small kitchen with only one smallish window. I am hoping that by painting the kitchen a happy yellow that it will make the room feel larger and brighter. We also have some can lights to install someday that should help brighten things up a bit.

Here are some before pictures of the kitchen and little hallway off the kitchen.

Kitchen 1- This is a shot of where our kitchen table usually is.

Kitchen 2-

Kitchen 3-

Hallway 1-

Hallway 2-

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"I likea me some punkin choco chip mix"

On Monday night I made my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares and couldn't resist posting this picture of Gabe licking the beaters. I probably should have been a mean mum and never let him lick the beaters because now any time he hears the mixer he starts to sign "eat" rather frantically.

Cheesy Chicken Lasagna- one of my new favorite dinners for sure!

Once again another fabulous recipe from This recipe was easy to make and absolutely delicious! I made it for Brad and I on Monday night and also to take to some friends and we all loved it. Brad had seconds and maybe even thirds. Had Brad not wanted to take it for lunch the next day I would have had seconds or maybe thirds too. This is now near the top of my list for favorite dinners.

Cheesy Chicken Lasagna
2 cans (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 (1 oz) pkg. dry Ranch dressing mix
3 C. cubed, cooked, chicken
1/8 tsp pepper
1 (16oz) lasagna noodles, cooked (see note)
1 1/2 C cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 C mozzarella cheese, grated

I cooked the chicken and noodles first at the same time. Once noodles are done--rinse in cold water and set aside (it keeps them from sticking together). Combine evaporated milk (don't use fat-free version) and Ranch dressing in a 3 quart heavy saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently until dry ingredients are dissolved. Stir in cooked cubed chicken and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes (don't do any less), stirring frequently (see note). Layer half of lasagna noodles, poultry sauce, and cheese in well-buttered 9x13 pan. Repeat layers again. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

***Note- I found that when I made this although I had cooked a whole packet of lasagna noodles, I actually only ended up using half the packet (9 lasagna sheets) and throwing away the rest. Even with using half the package I still got three layers out of my lasagna. Just keep this in mind.

***After I had let the sauce and chicken mixture cook for 25 minutes and I was ready to assemble the lasagna I noticed that the mixture was still quite thin. I worried about it not setting up and I was concerned that my lasagna would end up soupy. So right before pulling it off the stove I took some of the sauce out and mixed it with some cornstarch and then added it back to the sauce mix and let it thicken. It only took a couple of minutes to thicken up and be the consistency I was after for layering. Worked like a charm!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Baked Spaghetti

I made this for dinner on Saturday night. While it had been a crazy day with all the construction etc and it would have been so easy to get take-out I discovered this recipe last week and was excited to try it. I love anything with ricotta cheese and so this recipe caught my eye immediately. Once the wall was in and Gabe was asleep I enjoyed some quite and much warmer time to myself whilst whipping up this yummy dinner. I definitely think I'll make it again. This is another recipe from

Baked Spaghetti from Jamie

Mix these ingredients together and place in a greased 9x13 baking dish:

12 oz angel hair pasta, cooked
1 egg
1 C parmesan cheese
2 T chopped basil

Mix these together and place on top of the pasta:

1 lb hamburger, cooked
1 (13 oz) container ricotta cheese
2 C grated mozzarella cheese, save ½ C for the top
1 jar of pasta sauce- I only use the Bertolli brand, but that is my preference.

Sprinkle ½ C mozzarella cheese on sauce. Bake at 350 for about 35 min or until the cheese starts to bubble.

**You might be tempted to throw the whole box (16oz) of pasta in to boil. I've done that before and it definitely only needs the 12 oz that is calls for. I found it was not enough sauce for that extra bit of noodles.

***The original recipe called for just one jar of pasta sauce. It was fine with just the one, but both Brad and I like lots of sauce with our pasta, so I think the next time I make it I'll add another jar of sauce.

Apple Bars

Like I mentioned in my previous post- I actually made these both on Friday and Saturday. They were so yummy, but making them twice allowed me to make some modifications that made the second batch that much better. At least I think so. This recipe comes from She has some great recipes on her blog and I am a frequent visitor.

Apple Bars adapted from Allrecipes and then modified again.

2 C sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 C butter or margarine, melted
1 C packed brown sugar
1 C white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 C chopped apples (the first time I made these I did two cups of apples the second time I added an extra cup and I loved having more apple in each bite)
1/2 cup firmly chopped walnuts (I omitted this part)
2 T white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 Degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 C of white sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture until just combined, then stir in the apples and walnuts. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. In a cup of a small bowl, stir together the remaining cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle over the top of the bars. Bake for 33 minutes (do not over bake...they will seem undone but will firm up as they sit) in preheated oven; Cool in the pan and cut into squares.

For the glaze- I just mixed powered sugar, a little vanilla, a little butter, and milk until I got the desired consistency. I put the bag of icing in the fridge while the bars cooled. And then I snipped a little corner off the bag and drizzled it over the bars.

Gabe had fun making these with me. I would love to instill in him a desire to cook. I mean what girl isn't impressed with a man who can cook?

In an attempt to keep Gabe from getting bored and climbing onto the kitchen table, I pulled out my pots and pans for him to bang on. I showed him what fun noises he could make whilst banging on them with a wooden spoon. He took one look at me banging on the back of the pot, gave me a look like I was the stupidest person he ever saw, turned the pot over and started stirring. That's my boy! I laughed so hard. I was so proud!

Fun filled New Years weekend!

This past weekend was lots of fun. Since I have a baby, New Years Eve itself wasn't too eventful. In fact once Gabe went down, I managed to stay up and watch a little TV before falling asleep myself. That is OK with me. I'm not a big stay up until midnight and all that Jazz kinda person anyway. At least not anymore.

On New Years Day, we headed over to my brother and sister-in-laws house where we had THE most divine breakfast. Liz made her mom's Gingerbread Pancakes with Apple Cider Sauce topped with whipped cream...HEAVEN on a plate I have now re-named them. These were out of this world and I have been DREAMING about them ever since. I hope to worm the recipe out of Liz so I can post it. If I were her, I wouldn't share it, it is way too good to share! Then I had made Liz's Sausage and Egg breakfast casserole (also SO SO yummy- will post the recipe), Brian and Shanna provided the beverages and Sandy and Clark brought the yummy fruit. Leading up to New Years Day, us sisters had been excited about planning this married kids and the in-laws only breakfast and it was so much fun. I'm hoping we can keep it a tradition.

After breakfast Liz, Sandy and I headed to Home Depot with the two little boys to choose paint colors for Sandy's soon to be renovated family room. Then it was off to the Bentley house to get cracking on the family room. We got frustrated, laughed and almost cried while we moved furniture, ripped bricks off the old fireplace and attempted to remove a wall paper border that seemed to have permanently afixed itself to the wall. All while the boys sat and watched the big screens at RC Willey while waiting to pick up the new couch. We weren't too impressed! =)

On Friday we had a gentleman come and give us a bid to do some small renovations on our kitchen. Brad and I had bought tile for the kitchen a couple of years ago but just hadn't had the time to install it so we decided it was time to just let someone else do it. There just isn't enough time with school, work and a toddler roaming around. I will post before and after pics when we are done. We are having tile installed, some cabinets lifted and on Saturday Brad took out an outside door which we had in our kitchen and replaced it with a wall. Once all the remodeling is done we will change the paint. It will be so nice to have tile instead of the nasty lino we have now and I am excited to have all new matching baseboards and trim. The old baseboards and trim were anything but matching and were in rough shape. They are starting on the renovations today! Yipeee.

Below is a couple of pics of the old door and now the new wall. I am so proud of Brad for being able to get all of that done in one day all whilst braving the freezing cold weather and having a little helper who at times was not so much of a help. Brad you are amazing!

Even amongst all the drafty maddness of Brad putting in the wall on Saturday, that didn't stop Shanna and I from hitting the kitchen to whip up something yummy. Neither of us was feeling overly inspired so we decided to re-make something I had made the day before (yeah I loved it that much). We made Apple Bars (recipe to follow). They were moist and yummy and even better when paired with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. YUM!

Yesterday I tried a new recipe for dinner, that will now be a staple in the Bentley house. Cheesy Chicken Lasagna. It was mmmmhmmmmm good. (Recipe to follow) I also had the oppurtunity to watch my friend Amber's little boy Jeremy for a while in the afternoon. He is about 7 months old and is such a cute kid. He and Gabe really enjoyed playing together.

Having some fun with Jeremy while Gabe slept