Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Quick Dark Chocolate Pudding

The perfect after dinner treat to have on a busy week night...my family loves it when it's still slightly warm and served in a mug.

2 1/2c milk

1 1/2c cream

1tsp vanilla

1 egg (beaten)

3/4c sugar

7tbsp coco powder (approx. 1/2c)

3tbsp cornstarch (dissolved in a little water)

Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium sized pot and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly for about 7 to 10 minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Be sure not to bring to a boil. When slightly thinner than your desired consistency pour about ½ a cup of the pudding into each bowl and let cool to desired temperature before serving.

If you prefer to have cold pudding simply cover the top of each bowl with plastic wrap and press onto the surface of the pudding. This will prevent a skin from forming on the top.

Makes 4 half cup servings.

Monday, 5 December 2011

I'm dreaming of a...white kitchen

OK, I know it's getting close to Christmas and I should be dreaming of a white Christmas...but I'm not! I'm dreaming of a white kitchen. I've lived in my current house for 2 1/2 years and although I knew the kitchen was small with little storage and prep space, I thought I could make my peace with it. At least temporarily. After all, everything else about this house was just what we were looking for. We have a huge yard, we can walk to shopping and the beach, the girls school is a hop skip and a jump away...really I should be pinching myself to have found such a little gem in our price range!

 But no, instead I find myself swearing like a longshoreman every time I have to make something for dinner. Surely any one of you who have had the misfortune of trying to live with a dysfunctional kitchen will know exactly what I'm talking about. I have to pull 5 things out of the cupboard to get out the one thing I was looking for!!!!!!! Not to mention the safety concerns of precariously perching hot pans over the sink because I don't have any counters to put them on. Thank goodness I have very little in the way of canned foods or prepackaged goods...I can't even begin to think of where I would store them, as it is now my platters are stored in my broken dishwasher! It broke a year ago and I refused to replace it because I couldn't bear to give up my newly discovered storage space LOL!

Well I've had it. I sound like I have turrets syndrome or some weird swearing tick every time I'm cooking and I'm not the swearing type. What has this kitchen done to me? Something has got to change. So the walls are coming down, the cupboards are being ripped out and a new kitchen will emerge along with a new attitude for me. Cooking once again will be a joy to share with my friends and family, not a secular frustrating annoyance!

Right now I'm in the planning/ dreaming stage, getting price quotes for some of the construction that we are not able to do ourselves and scoping out high end looks for a budget friendly price. Here are a few of the kitchens that I love:

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Check out this new TV series on HGTV

Hey everyone, sorry I know it's been a while since I've posted. I went back to work...summer fun with the kids and just taking a little time to relax! I will start posting again in the next week or so. School lunch ideas will be my top priority.

In the mean time I wanted to let everyone know about a great new show on HGTV called Urban Suburban, my family and I had the honour of being chosen for the first episode!

Check it out.

Looking forward to get back in the swing of things...soon,

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A Quote For The Day.

Why not go out on a limb, isn’t that where all the fruit is.

(Frank Scully)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Tropical Seafood Salad (Re-make)

A delicious way to use up any left over salmon you have after making Salmon with Citrus Vanilla Sauce http://marthakindof.blogspot.com/2011/07/salmon-with-citrus-vanilla-sauce.html  If you don’t have enough salmon feel free to toss in a few grilled shrimp and/or grilled scallops.

1 piece left over grilled salmon (left whole or cut into bite sized pieces)
toasted sesame seeds
green onion
coleslaw mix
baby salad greens
*use whatever quantities you want and cut however you like.

Toss all the fruit and veggies together on a serving platter, and then place the salmon (prawns, scallops) pineapple, orange and toasted sesame seed on top and drizzle with dressing (recipe below)


2tbsp                 left over citrus vanilla sauce                 
2tbs                   vinegar
1tsp                   sesame oil
3tbsp                 oil
1/4tsp                salt
1/2                    crushed dried red chili
                                                     1                       clove garlic(minced)

Whisk together in a small bowl or simply emulsify in the blender for a few seconds.

A Quote For The Day

A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.
(John James Audubon)

Monday, 25 July 2011

Scented Play dough

I can think of no better way to get kids interested in cooking than teaching them how to make their own play dough. This recipe is particularly cool because it gets its color and scent from Kool- aide! I especially like homemade play dough because it’s not as messy as the store bought stuff and it’s so cheap to make.

1c flour
1c water
1/2c salt
2tbs cream of tartar (really cheap in the bulk section!)
1 pack Kool- aide (unsweetened) 2tbs vegetable oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a medium sized pot and cook over medium low heat until mixture becomes gummy. Store in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag.

*The Play dough will be whatever color the Kool- aid crystals are.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

A Quote for the Day

I believe the art of living consists not so much in complicating the simple things as in simplifying things that are not.
(Francois Hertel)

Salmon with Citrus Vanilla Sauce

Sounds complicated I know, but I promise this is so quick and easy! The hint of Vanilla is an unexpected addition that adds warmth to this refreshingly light dish.

* tastes equally good on any firm fleshed white fish.

 2            oranges (juice and zest)
 1/2c       orange juice
 1            lemon (juice and zest)                   
 2tbs       vanilla
 1tbs       Louisiana hot sauce
 1/4tsp    fresh grated ginger
 1tsp       salt
1/2c        brown sugar
1tbs        butter
 1/3c       heavy cream
 1           lime(juice only)
 1           large salmon filet
 1            handful cilantro (chopped)

Mix first 8 ingredients together in a bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Now divide mixture in half, pour half of the mixture over the salmon filet (skin side down) to marinate in the fridge for as little as 1/2hour or even over night.

Pour the remaining half of the mixture into a small saucepan and simmer until reduced by about half, now add the heavy cream and simmer until it has thickened. Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter. Continue to whisk until butter is melted and totally incorporated into the sauce. Now whisk in the lime juice. Set aside until ready to serve.

Grill the salmon on medium for about 8 minutes (depending on thickness) or you can simply broil in your oven on low for about 8 minutes. Drizzle with sauce and garnish with cilantro.

Friday, 22 July 2011

A Quote For The Day

If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food either.
(Joseph Wood Krutch)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A Quote for the day

Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future. We make discoveries about ourselves.
(Gail Lumet Buckley- The Hornes: An American Family)

We all need a little food for thought to keep us heading in the right direction... I like to do that by reading inspiring quotes. So, I've decided rather than keeping them to myself I'd share them with you. I'll be regularly posting a quote for the day. If you have any with special meaning to you and would like to share them, please e-mail them to me. I'd be happy to include them.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A Pink Paris Bedroom...what more could a little girl want!

It was my youngest daughter Kaity's 7th birthday the other day. After a lot of planning, sneaking around and bargain hunting I managed to pull off re-decorating her bedroom as a surprise! I'd been hiding everything in the garage under a tarp for about 2 months LOL!!!

2 days before her birthday we had her stay at her Avo and Grans (grandma and grandpa) and the fun began. Me, my daughter Emily and my husband Mike repainted her room and all her furniture the first night. Then the night before my girlfriend Marlene...the worlds most talented women... came over to play with me, um, I mean help me set everything up.

We had so much fun, I'm not sure if the room was for Kaity, or if it was for the little girl in me that always wanted a room like this LOL! Here's a few pics...let me know what you think.

 I managed to pull the whole room off for less than $300...that was including the gorgeous Louis IV chair...upholstered in hot pink pleather of course!

Now my oldest daughter wants her room re-done for her birthday in January...can't wait to see what we come up with and for how little we can pull it off for!

Bunk bed draped with white sheer fabric, complete with a french poodle pillow...hand made by the talented Marlene.
I had to include a black and white zebra rug!

What French fashion designers room would be complete without a dress maker dummy, some fabric remnants and a magnet board to tack all your ideas to? I just attached a wall paper remnant to an existing magnetic board. I think I've played in the room more than she has LOL!

Of course I had to have a fancy chandelier.... our old kitchen light. Simply repainted and gussied up with crystals, feathers and pink glass branches.

The pink and black cubes were a steal at $15 each...great to use as  memory boxes. So cute with the lids switched so each was pink and black

Ginger Orange Chicken Skewers

1c          orange juice
1tbs      cornstarch (dissolved in water)
1/4c      soy sauce
1tbs      honey
1”         piece of fresh ginger (minced)
1/2tsp   sesame oil
1/4tsp   each salt and pepper
1          dried red chili (crushed)

*Mix together in a bowl and reserve ½c for basting.

 Now add:
 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite sized pieces) or 6 boneless skinless thighs and marinate.

2         peppers- any color (chopped into bite sized pieces)
2         oranges with the skin cut off (chopped into bite sized pieces)
1         onion peeled (chopped into bite sized pieces)
1/4c    toasted sesame seeds (for garnish) optional

8        skewers (if wooden, soak in water for at least an hour)

Toss the first 8 ingredients into a bowl, reserve 1/2c of the mixture for basting. Now add the chicken to the marinade. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour to overnight.

Remove from fridge and thread the chicken onto skewers alternating with the green peppers, oranges and onions. Sprinkle with a little salt and grill on the bbq or broil in the oven for about 3 to 4 minutes per side or until the juices run clear. Be sure to baste periodically with the reserved liquid.

 Garnish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and serve with New Potatoes with Lime and Cilantro http://marthakindof.blogspot.com/2011/07/new-potatoes-with-lime-cilantro.html.

New Potatoes with Lime & Cilantro

These are a nice accompaniment to my  Ginger Orange Chicken Skewers http://marthakindof.blogspot.com/2011/07/ginger-orange-chicken-skewers.html. Simple, fresh and delicious!

12                red and/or yellow skinned new potatoes

2tbsp           butter
1/2tsp          salt
1                   lime (zest and juice)
1/2              dried red chili(crushed)- optional
1                  clove garlic(minced)

1 handful cilantro (chopped)

Boil potatoes in a pot of salted water until tender. While waiting, put the next 5 ingredients into a small saucepan on low heat until butter is just melted. Turn off heat and let sit until the potatoes are ready.

 Drain potatoes and put in serving bowl, pour butter mixture over the potatoes, sprinkle with cilantro and toss together. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Fresh Tomato Salsa

This is the first thing I got my daughters to help with when they were younger. They were in charge of stirring and tasting it to see if it needed more salt. They thought it had to be stirred a certain amount before it was ready, something only they could decide…so cute! I can’t eat the jarred stuff since I started making this,it’s amazing to me that they’re even supposed to be the same thing! This is so fresh and delicious; it really is worth the effort. You can use this just for dipping chips, or along side grilled meat and fish.

8            roma tomatoes (any tomato will work but these have less seeds and juice in them)
3            large onions
1            bunch cilantro (finely chopped)
1            lime (juice)
1            garlic clove (crushed)
salt to taste

Dice tomatoes and onions into equal sizes, I like mine quite small, but some prefer a larger dice. Then toss into a bowl with everything else and stir. Taste and adjust the amount of salt if necessary.

*Tip- When using this as a condiment with meat or fish I'll often add fresh fruit. Mangoes and strawberries are a favorite in our house.

If we're making nachos our meal, I'll add some black beans and some corn to make it a little more filling. I just toss the beans in right from the can (drained) and the corn is added right from the freezer. Just let it sit for about 10 minutes or so before serving.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Chinese Dumplings on a Bed of Crisp Veggies (Re-make)

 This is a recipe that's so simple it’s almost embarrassing to call it a recipe! But it’s unbelievably healthy and delicious so I had to include it. If you feel the need to make it more difficult in order to satisfy your inner chef, feel free to make the dumplings from scratch.

Here's the recipe:

1 package         Frozen Asian dumplings called Gyoza (pork or chicken)

*Trader Joes sells them MSG free!
Click on the advertisment on the side of the blog for locations.

2-3            chicken bouillon cubes  (enough to make a strong chicken stock)
4c             shredded coleslaw mix  (or thinly sliced asian veggies)
1               red pepper(cut into thin strips)
1               can cut up baby corn
2              green onions thinly sliced
4              dried red chilies
4tbs         toasted sesame seeds
sesame oil- just enough to drizzle
left over bits of chicken of pork if you have it (diced)

Bring water to a boil in a medium sized pot, and then toss in the frozen dumplings. When they float to the top  drain about 1/2 of the water and stir in your bouillon cubes until dissolved.

Put 1 cup of coleslaw mix in each of your four personal sized serving  dishes. Sprinkle equal portions of red pepper, baby corns, green onions, sesame seeds, crushed dried red chilies and sesame oil in each dish.

Now place an equal amount of dumplings on each plate of veggies and spoon over some of the broth. I like to serve additional broth in a small bowl on each plate for dipping the gyoza. Serve immediately. The veggies cook just ever so slightly in the hot broth...quick and so yummy!!!!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Summertime...and the livin is easy...

Summer is about easy entertaining. Jazz playing, friends and family popping in unexpectedly and alfresco dinners that stretch into the wee hours of the morning. So for me nothing says summer more than the flicker of candle light on a warm summer evening! Here are a few pics to inspire you to create a little backyard ambiance for your next gathering.

 A few empty glass jars in different shapes and sizes, some treasures from the beach... and you're be ready to sit back and enjoy everything a warm summer evening has to offer.

Make your own custom napkin rings with rope or ribbon and interesting objects found at the beach. Not only are they pretty, they stop the wind from blowing your napkins away! Another great idea is to use stones from the beach as name tags. Simply write on them with a permanent marker. If you don't want to have such a formal table setting...use the rocks as table decor and write words of inspiration on them.


Instead of tossing your empty bottles into the recycling bin, why not fill them with flowers to create an interesting display. Maybe suspended from a few tree branches or strewn through the center of your table to create a casual centerpiece?

To add even more ambiance to your backyard gathering, try making your own fire bowl. It's ridiculously easy and very inexpensive...if you're resourceful you can make one for just a few dollars. All you need is a large fire safe container... a metal, concrete or ceramic plant pot works great... a few cans of gel fuel, some mesh and rocks from the beach.

The process is ridiculously simple. Place a few open cans of gel fuel inside the planter, cover it with a cut metal mesh and rocks. That’s it...your done!. Clear a few of the rocks away from above the gel fuel cans so you can light the gel fuel. The gel cans last for about 3 hours, if you’d want to stop the flame earlier, just place something non flammable over the cans of gel fuel to snuff out the flame... the lid from the can works great, I just hot glue a long skinny rock to the lid to use as a handle. The gel cans can be re lit over and over again.

* The gel fuel is sold almost anywhere during the summer months. I've recently seen it at Walmart and Home Depot. They also sell refill fuel, so when your can runs out you won't have to take your fire pit apart, just top up the can.

*Depending on the depth of your container, you may have to raise up the cans of gel fuel...sands works great for this.

***Check with your local fire department for burning restriction that may be in place!


Monday, 4 July 2011

Smokey Maple Whiskey Barbeque Sauce

Well it's FINALLY arrived...barbecue season is here! So to kick off this joyous occasion I thought I'd share my families fave barbecue sauce recipe. It's bold, rich and smokey with a slightly sweet sticky tang. Fantastic on chicken, ribs and even mixed into your hamburger meat before you form your patties...simply finger licking good.

3                     large cans of crushed tomatoes
3c                   ketchup
8                    cloves of garlic (crushed)
1c                  vinegar
1c                  soy sauce                                       
4tbsp            Worcester sauce
1/4c              molasses
2tbsp            liquid smoke
2 1/2c           brown sugar
1tbsp            smoked paprika
1tbsp            chili powder
 3tbs             Dijon mustard
3tbsp            prepared mustard
1                    small onion (grated)
 1/2c            whiskey
1/2c             real maple syrup

Makes about 7 cups of sauce.

Toss it all in a large pot and simmer for a few hours. You can also make this in a crock pot on low if you have one, just toss everything in and forget about it until the next morning.

Tip- I sometimes double this recipe, it keeps in the fridge for a very long time.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Creamy White Bean and Bacon Soup (Re-make)

What a great way to get more nutrient dense beans into your diet! This soup is rich, creamy, and satisfying. Best of all it’s super quick to make, with the assistance of some of the cheese sauce left over from your Mac’n’Cheese.

2c                cooked white beans
2c                chicken stock
1c- 2c          left over cheese sauce
1                  onion(diced)
6                 strips of bacon(diced)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot sauté the bacon and onions until the bacon is crisp and the onions are caramelized slightly. Now pour a little water into the sauté pan to help loosen the tasty little bits from the bottom of the pan.

In a blender put 1 1/2c of beans and all of the chicken stock and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into the pot with the bacon and onions and simmer on medium heat. Whisk in the cheese sauce and the remaining 1/2c of beans. Simmer on medium for as little as a few minutes to as much as several hours.

Serve with fresh crusty bread and a salad. YUM!

I just ran across a study touting the waist shrinking benefits of beans...give it a read. It will have you looking for more ways to incorporate beans into your diet too! http://www.realage.com/tips/beans-help-halt-weight-gain?eid=1010643187&memberid=20953294&cbr=wmn_surf