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!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

White Cheddar and Havarti Mac’n’Cheese

COMFORT FOOD!!!!!!  Okay, I know it's the wrong season for comfort food...but with summer rearing it's head ever so slowly I could use a little today LOL!

Everyone has a favorite recipe for good old fashioned Mac’n’Cheese and this is mine. It’s rich and creamy with just a hint of tang, thanks to the addition of a little cream cheese. Give it a try you’ll never eat the boxed version ever again!

*This makes a LOT of sauce...I can't stand it when it's not really saucey. Plus any left over sauce I'll use in another recipe...which will be my next post.

1/2c                butter                                                              
1/2c                flour
                                                   4c                   milk
                                                   1/4c               cream cheese
                                                   1/2tsp           salt
                                                   1/4tsp           pepper (white if you prefer)
                                                   2 1/2c           old white cheddar cheese (shredded)
                                                   2                    slices of havarti cheese (broken into pieces)

                                                  6c                 macaroni noodles (cooked)

Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan, then add the flour and whisk together until you have no lumps. Cook flour mixture until it no longer smells like play-dough and begins to smell slightly nutty. Then quickly whisk in the milk, when it’s completely incorporated whisk in the cream cheese and the remaining ingredients and continue to stir until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Pour the sauce onto of cooked pasta (I like macaroni or shells) and enjoy.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Sloppy Joes

The name says it all...well almost. These Sloppy Joes just so happen to be really healthy because there are a multitude of vegetables hiding inside them! If you don’t tell the kids they’ll never know. I use ground bison but any ground meat works in this recipe. I’ve used chicken, turkey and even ground seasoned tofu! A quick dinner when served with easy to make “Oven Fries” which of course are healthy too. Here's the link for my Oven Fry recipe

2lb        ground bison
1           onion (diced)
3           cloves of garlic (minced)
1/2        large zucchini (shredded)
2           carrots (shredded)
1           large chunk of cauliflower (shredded)
1           handful of parsley (chopped)
                                               2tsp       salt or to taste
                                               1/4tsp    pepper
                                               2tbsp     balsamic vinegar
                                               2tsp       Worcestershire sauce
                                               1tsp       Dijon mustard
                                               1/2c       ketchup
                                               1c          crushed tomatoes

                                                6            Kaiser buns

Toss the first 3 ingredients into a large pot and brown until meat is cooked. Now add the remaining ingredients and cook stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Stir in the ketchup and crushed tomatoes. Simmer on low heat for as little as 10minutes to as much as an hour. Cut Kaiser Buns in half and spoon mixture onto the bottom half of the bun and replace top. Serve immediately.

Do you have any other fave junk foods you'd like me to give a healthy makeover? Send me an e-mail I love finding healthy alternatives for junky favorites!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Broiled Mahi Mahi on a Bed of Wilted Spinach and Red Pepper Slivers

Mahi Mahi is a favorite in our house, but for a very odd reason. Our family went to Portugal for several months when my oldest daughter was 5 and you eat a lot of fish in Portugal. You'd think that would be a good thing... but they often serve fish whole with the head and tail still intact. So here's my theory...I think that's when my daughter came to the realization when we have fish for dinner we are actually eating a fish LOL!

Since then she HATES fish, except this fish. Why does she like this fish you may be wondering? Well I think it's because its texture is very similar to chicken, so it doesn't trigger the same memories for her. It also helped that I always called it chicken fish LOL. Thank goodness they didn't serve chicken whole too! If you have family members that don't like fish, give this a try.

2lbs                   Mahi Mahi (or any firm fleshed white fish)
1/3c                  coconut milk
 2                       cloves of garlic (crushed)
 1tsp                  paprika
 1                        dried red chili (crushed)
salt and pepper to taste

4c                   washed baby spinach leaves
 1                     red pepper (cut into thin slivers)

Turn your oven to broil.

Toss the first 6 ingredients together in a bowl and stir to combine. Spread the seasoned fish onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and place on the centre rack. Broil for 5 minutes, then give it a toss and broil for another 5 minutes.

Place the broiled fish on top of the spinach leaves and red pepper slivers. The heat from the fish will wilt the spinach. I like to serve this with my coconut lime rice.

PS I've had lots of requests for this recipe so I decided to post it today. I haven't had a chance to photograph the finished product so I'll post a picture of it in a few days.

 We're having healthy Sloppy Joe's (yes, healthy) for dinner tomorrow night so that will be my next post.

Monday, 20 June 2011

What to do with leftover rice?

 Coconut Lime Rice

You are going to love this spin on traditional rice...fantastic with grilled fish or ginger garlic chicken ...I'll post recipes for both soon!  This is a great way to use up left over rice, and the best thing is you can whip it up in no time.                
2c        cooked rice

1/4c     coconut milk
2tsp     butter 
2          limes (zest and juice)

1/2       jalepeno (finely diced)
1/3c     shredded coconut (toasted and unsweetened)
1          bunch of fresh cilantro (chopped)
salt to taste                                                                                                                                                                                    

In a medium pot add the coconut milk, butter, lime juice and zest. Let simmer until the butter is melted and the lime becomes fragrant. Reduce heat to low and add the cooked rice, jalapeño, toasted coconut. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until rice is warmed through. Toss in cilantro and serve.

Tip- this is easily done in the microwave too, just heat the coconut milk, butter, coconut, lime juice and zest in a medium sized bowl first. Once the butter is melted simply toss in the remaining ingredients and warm through. This entire recipe from start to finish takes me 4 ½ minutes when done this way!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Educated Women In The Home? What An Odd Thing!

Educated women in the home? What an odd thing to deplore! What better place to have us “end up”. . . What more important job is there than sharing the values we are learning to cherish with the next generation of adults? What more strategic place could there be for the educated woman?
Edith F. Hunter

They say things come to you when you need them most, and I came across this quote (above) the other day at just the right moment in my life. As many of you know I've been a stay-at-home mom for many years now and have felt it was the right decision for my family. But now that the girls are getting older I sometimes wonder if I should be going back to work. After all it's not like I don't have options open to me, I worked in pharmacy for almost two decades and ran my own interior design business for many years too. Both careers could be easily picked up again.

So I have to ask myself, why is it that I'm itching to go back to work? Would I be going back to work because I feel I'd be of more use in the working world? Would it be because staying at home in a world of working parents is lonely? Is it because I feel I'm wasting myself and my talents staying at home ? I know I'm not the only mom who has struggled with these questions. We've all asked ourselves if we are doing the right thing...whether working or not.

I was just having this conversation with another mother the other day who found herself at home because she was downsized. It was difficult for her to find herself unexpectedly thrust into a life at home all day with no coffee breaks, no "you did a great job on that project" and very little adult conversation that wasn't about the kids.  She has since found the perfect balance by working part time at a job she loves. So it got me thinking about why I'm contemplating going back to work at this specific moment. I know if I was to become emotionally checked out at home, wishing I were somewhere else I wouldn't be doing my kids any favours... so I'd definitely go back to work.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen that  happen and I often think "Why don't you just go back to work? You're not doing yourself or your family any favours by doing something you don't want to. You'd probably be more present for your kids when you got home from work, rather than a whole day at home being totally checked out."  Why is it as women we feel we can't openly talk about this kind of thing? It's not any reflection on your ability as a wife or a mother! We need to accept that different things work for different people and as long as we are true to who we are everything else will fall into place. That's the best thing about being a women in this day and age. We have a choice, it's not expected that staying home is our only option. We need to be able to openly talk about the struggles of raising a family, whether staying at home or working and not feel judged. 

Having said that I think I've decided to wait until the right opportunity comes up, doing something I'm passionate this blog (only with a pay check LOL) Not just something that helps pay the bills...after all the quote is right, " what more important job is there than sharing the values we are learning to cherish with the next generation of adults?"  

I read an interesting study the other day (yes, I'm a freak I read studies for fun!) about the importance of family work and including your children in household chores. I found it to be quite an eye opener. I've posted it at the bottom of this blog page. It made me realize that it really WAS worth my time to teach the kids how to clean something properly, rather than doing it myself because it’s faster…Or to let my youngest crack the eggs for the first time, even though there may be a shell or two.

One of my favorite quotes is "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." Something to keep in mind.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

image from

Here's the study I ran across recently by Jenet Jacob Erickson, Ph. D. called Secret of Family Work:

When Anthropologist Dorothy Lee set out to explore the cultures of the Native American and New Guinean tribes, she observed something that both struck and confused her. She saw men, women, and children exerting themselves in learning and performing difficult tasks without any of the typical rewards she had always seen used to generate such motivation. She observed Native American youth being taught and tested in developing remarkable levels of self-discipline and valor to help them find food for their tribes. She observed the Arapesh of New Guinea walking miles with saplings to plant them on the sites of others, hunting only to give all the kill away, giving pigs to relatives who lived long distances away, and going on long walks in the jungle to find things needed by neighbors in building their homes or repairing their farm structures.

What she observed did not fit into her typical Western notions of motivation. Her education had led her to believe that individual motivation was the result of efforts to satisfy personal needs, reduce tension, or respond to an external motivator. Yet here she observed the full engagement of individuals who had been invited rather than motivated to act. They were invited specifically by a sense of connection with their communities—a connection that came with a sense of commitment and responsibility that seemed to invite the best in individual development. What she concluded turned her western notions of motivation upside down: it was the strength of the connection with community, rather than freedom from obligations to community, that enabled individual development to flourish.

Of course this led her to many thoughts about the importance of family love and bonding as a foundation for the connectedness that would enable each individual to flourish. It also led to an understanding of the importance of individuals in families and communities working together and helping one another as a foundation for connectedness. This did not always seem to be the most efficient way to get things done. Yet it was central to the experience of connectedness that would invite the best of individuals.

As Lee watched the Tikopia of the South Pacific exchange mats that had required tremendous effort and time to make, she questioned why they did not just keep the mats the y had made for themselves. Yet in exchanging with one another they gave a piece of their lives—a piece of their very selves. Their efforts and unique artistic expressions became part of the homes of one another, building a sense of connected oneness with their friends and relations.

No wonder then that helping one another in the home and in the community has power to generate an experience of oneness with enhanced exertion and development of the individual. This does not mean of course that children who are asked to help with yard work or the dishes are always delighted to give their best efforts to help out. But the experiences can establish a pattern that invites a sense of personal fulfillment, capacity, and oneness, as well as meaning and joy.

Certainly, much of this has to do with how parents themselves approach the experience of family work and working together. Two descriptions of family work present an interesting contrast. One mother talked about learning to help with family work saying, “I grew up working along with my grandparents down on their knees [harvesting raspberries]. You know, I thought, ‘If they can do it, I can.’ That’s some of my best memories. Actually, all the cousins would come and each row was a quarter of a mile long. And then after, we’d go have picnics in the park.” In her own family, she said, “I try to make [family work] joyful and important and not just something to get over with.”

In contrast, another mother remembered her childhood work experiences this way: “We didn’t like our jobs. We’d cry every day. On Saturdays we’d cry more. It was awful on Saturdays. My mom would decide we were going to rearrange the living room, and so everyone had to come. And when you rearranged you had to clean all the windowsills and take down the blinds and wash everything and it took all day long. That’s why we hated Saturdays. We thought we should be able to just watch cartoons all morning and then do nothing the rest of the day—it was our day off. But my mom didn’t see it as a day off. It was a big work day.”

This mother went on to describe housework with her own children: “[The children] always had household chores. They’ve always had Saturday jobs. They’ve always had work and they’ve just learned how to work.” Then she added, “They don’t like it. They don’t like it at all. There’s no debate. You just do it. We’re not going to negotiate; we just do it.” (Manwaring & Bahr, unpublished manuscript, 2004)

In these two examples family work meant very different things, was organized on different principles, and had different relational outcomes for these two families. The mother who described picking raspberries with her grandparents seemed to experience a connection in working alongside her family members that invited her own desire to contribute and find joy in collaborating with them. It was not her work, or her grandparents’ work. It was their work together, mixed in with the leisure—a natural part of living, loving, and being part of the family.

Creating homes where families eat, work, play, quarrel, celebrate, learn, relax, recover from illness, and care for the young and the elderly is very labor-intensive. These are tasks that do not simply go away if one tires of them. In fact, this work is as unpredictable as it is ever-present. Yet when we see how this work is central to forming the basic bonds of connection, we start to recognize its high value. We can then see how through organizing it in “communal” ways—by working alongside one another; by seeing family work as shared, good, and central to family love and belonging; and by appreciating each one’s contributions to it—we can strengthen relationships and bonding.

It seems almost taken for granted that family work is inherently oppressive, onerous, and conflict based. It may in fact be one of the great secrets of life that working beside and for one another is intrinsic to real enjoyment and meaning. In doing this work together we will discover that we have created the patterns of oneness that so surprised Dorothy Lee. We will find that not only do families and communities thrive in working beside and for one another, but that the oneness that results will also invite the finest in individual exertion and development.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Easy Peasy Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This pie is so healthy I eat it for breakfast not so guilty pleasure! Especially because I sometimes add a teaspoon of chia seeds per person into the pie filling. The Chia seeds add protein, omega 3's and additional fiber...sounds like a great way to start out the morning.

 I know,  I know, I'm starting to sound like the crazy Chia seed lady LOL! But they are sooo healthy and act like natures MSG...they have no flavour of their own but can really enhance the flavours of what they are put in. Probably because of their unique ability to create a flavour absorbing gel when in contact with any liquid.

Here's the recipe...without chia seeds:

8           sheets of phyllo pastry
(I use spelt flour phyllo)
1/4c      sugar
1tsp       vanilla
1/4        teaspoon cinnamon
 (plus a bit to sprinkle)
4c         rhubarb (cut into bite sized pieces)
2c        strawberries (cut into bite sized pieces)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pie doesn't get any easier or healthier than this! Toss the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon into a pot and simmer until the rhubarb is slightly tender. Set aside.

Now butter 4 medium sized ramekins.  Line each ramekin with 2 sheets of phyllo (you don't have to butter between the sheets!)...leave the excess hanging over the edge. Fill each phyllo lined ramekin 3/4 of the way with pie filling . Fold the excess phyllo in and artfully arrange it on the top of the ramekin and brush the tops with a little melted butter. Place the completed pies on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Sprinkle the tops of the pie with cinnamon and serve.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Super Mom...NOT!

Any of you that have school aged children will be able to relate to this...I hope LOL! The end of the school year is a whirl wind of activities. Field trips, plays, costume fittings, dance recitals, music concerts, sporting events...the list goes on and on. Keeping all these schedules straight is a full time job in itself! Having said that, I'll share my story with you...while I shrink into a ball from shame.

It's early in the morning, I get the kids up and make sure they get breakfast. School planners signed and homework done- check. Lunches packed-check. Walk them to school-check. Phew...after a crazy week it will be nice to have some time for me. So my husband and I decide to shake off all the stress from the week by running 5km to the gym. Then we'll work out, walk back and maybe go out for lunch a little later in the afternoon.

We run to the gym...that wasn't so bad. Work that felt great! Leisurely walking home having some lovely adult conversation cell phone rings.

"Hi Mrs. St. Cyr"  says the lovely secretary at my kids school.

 Hi, I say a little nervously thinking one of the kids is sick or hurt.

 " We have you showing on our volunteer sheet that you were able to help with the make-up for the play today at 12:00." (it's 12:30)

I apologize and explain I thought that was tomorrow.

"Not to worry she you think you can still make it in to help for a short while, the play starts at 1:00?"

I tell her I'll head over right away...not realizing that it's still quite a walk away.

Although completely exhausted already, feeling like the worst mother in the world overrode anything else I was we sprinted 2.5km to the school! We made it in record time despite the fact that I pushed myself so hard I almost...shall I say, lost my cookies...but I made it. I was there. Out of breath and a little sweaty (OK a lot sweaty) but I managed to fulfill my motherly duties...I just feel sorry for the first few kids who got stuck with me doing their make-up.

Hats off to all you parents who manage to do 100 things at once, work full time, volunteer and manage to never miss a beat. I guess a Super Mom I'm not...but a least I try, and I guess that's all anyone can ask for.

*If you have a funny parenting story, I'd love you to leave it in the comment section. It's nice to know I'm not alone LOL!

Two Meals In One

I can't tell you how many times the kids want one thing for dinner and my husband and I want something else! I've never been one to pander to picky kids, but once in a while the kids do get to choose what it is we should eat. So what's a mom to do? Well, I simply get 2 different meals out of one!

This time the kids wanted chicken strips and fries...although I do like that occasionally I was not in the mood. So the kids had their pick and Mike and I had a lovely crunchy chicken spring salad (cut from my garden) spiked with dried cranberries, goats cheese, sunflower seeds and some local peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. Who would have thought a fast food-esque kind of meal could be made into something so healthy and sophisticated!

I can never understand why people fry french fries in oil when Oven Fries taste so's how I do it:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

6                potatoes (any kind will work)
pinch of salt
drizzle of olive oil

I don't even peel the potatoes, I just scrub them well and cut them into thick wedges. The kids especially like it when I use purple potatoes from the farmers market. Spread them on a parchment lined cookie sheet...this allows you to use way less oil! Sprinkle with salt, drizzle with olive oil and toss them around a bit. Pop in the oven giving a toss every 10 minutes or so. They should be crisp and golden in about 30 minutes.

Chicken nuggets in a newspaper cone with dipping sauce.

I like to make my chicken strips with boneless skinless chicken thighs...I find them far more juicy. Here's the recipe:

6               boneless skinless chicken thighs (cut into strips)
1c             buttermilk
2               garlic cloves
1/2tsp     salt and pepper (or to taste)

Toss everything into a bowl and let marinate for 30 minutes to overnight. The buttermilk will keep the chicken tender and moist and it seems to somehow allow the flavours to penetrate the meat better.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix the following ingredients in a bowl:

2c              penko bread crumbs
2tbsp         ground and whole flax seed
2tbsp         chia seeds (optional but VERY good for you)
1                small handful of chopped parsley
pinch of salt

*To learn more about chia seeds check out this link

Now remove a piece of chicken from the marinade and dip into the bread crumb mixture and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until you've used up all the marinated chicken. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

* My kids think it's fun when I serve this in a newspaper cone (like you sometimes get fish'n'chips in) I like it too because I have no dishes to do after dinner. Just a toss into the recycling bin and I'm done!

*Another great idea is to pack this for a school lunch or picnic. Just fold the top of the cone down and fasten with a sticker. The newspaper will keep it warm for a really long time.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Is Starbucks making you fat?

I like most of you have a Starbucks right up the street from me. Being a coffee addict, I'm there quite frequently!  Now I'm not one for flavored coffees...I find them far to sweet for my taste, but so many people do order them. So my curiosity got the best of me and I went home and did a little research on the sugar content and what I discovered had me completely gobsmacked!!!! Many of the drinks hot or cold had over...sometimes way over... 20gms of sugar in them. The best way I can think of to demonstrate what 20gms of sugar looks like is; every 4 grams of sugar  is equivalent to approximately one teaspoon of sugar.

*Notice food labels are in grams instead of teaspoons, I think it's because the average person has no clue how much a gram is…we aren’t metrically inclined!

To put 20gms in perspective, an average glazed doughnut has 10gms of sugar.As imagery helps teach better than words, try putting a pile of refined sugar next to your fave coffee and decide if it's still worth it...I'm guessing you'll be disgusted and find a new favorite LOL!
Part of what peaked my curiosity in the first place was a blog I read recently by Summer Tomato, she offers many eye-opening facts on the sugar content of common foods. She writes:

"Refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup are considered by many experts to be the biggest contributors to obesity and poor health in Western civilization.  

In her book What To Eat, Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at NYU, suggests that any food containing more than 15 grams of sugar per serving is closer to dessert than anything else."

Here is a partial list of the foods Summer Tomato posted:
  1. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut -- 10 grams
  2. Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream -- 16 grams
  3. Starbucks caffè latte grande (16 oz) -- 17 grams
  4. Subway 6″ sweet onion teriyaki chicken sandwich -- 17 grams
  5. Yoplait original yogurt -- 27 grams
  6. Vitamin Water (20 oz bottle) -- 33 g
  7. Oscar Mayer Lunchables crackers, turkey & American cheese -- 36 grams
  8. Coca-Cola Classic 12 oz can -- 39 grams
  9. California Pizza Kitchen Thai chicken salad -- 45 g
  10. Jamba Juice blackberry bliss 16 oz -- 49 g
  11. Odwalla SuperFood 450 ml bottle -- 50 g
  12. Starbucks caffe vanilla frappuccino grande (16 oz) -- 58 g
Here's a recipe for an easy Vanilla Frappuccino that doesn't fit into the dessert category:

1c          skim milk                     
1tsp       vanilla extract
1c           ice
1/2c      espresso (cold)
1tbsp    sugar (or to taste)
1tbsp    chia seeds

Toss in a blender and give it a whiz.

**The chia seeds work as a thickening agent so there is no need to add any cream for a
rich creamy texture. Not to mention they are unbelievably good for you! To learn more about chia seeds check out this link

Quick and Easy Thin Crust Pizza

There is nothing my family loves more than pizza night! Not take out pizza of course, but light and crispy thin crust homemade pizza. My mouth is watering as I'm typing this.

It always amazes me that so few people make their own pizza because as far as I'm concerned it's quick, easy and extremely economical. I can make enough thin crust pizzas to generously feed 8 people for less than $10. I don't care what kind of take out you get, you can't beat that price. I bet if I started making my pizza when you pick up the phone to order take out, we'd both be eating at the same time...and I don't have to leave a tip! Plus, I won't have a pizza box to throw out at the end of the night.

My dream has always been to have a brick pizza/ bread oven. I'm still trying to figure out if I can turn my indoor wood burning fireplace into one LOL! So if any of you know if it's possible, shoot me an e-mail...I'd be eternally grateful!!!!! For the time being, I have to make do with what I have. Here's how I make my pizza.

I start out with "Our Daily Bread Recipe" which of course only takes minutes to prep and is ready and waiting for me in my fridge when I decide I want to make pizza. I cut off a piece large enough to make the desired amount of pizzas and let it come to room temperature in a covered bowl in my oven with the light on. Then I cut off enough dough to roll out one pizza and sprinkle flour on my counter. I roll it out until it fairly thin, then pick it up and give it a little stretch...just to get it as thin as possible. Repeat until you've rolled out as many pizzas as needed.

Preheat the oven to 550 degrees...or as hot as your oven goes.

Now to make the sauce, simply take a large can of (or jar if your lucky enough to have homemade)  tomatoes and toss in 3 cloves of garlic, olive oil and a little salt and some fresh oregano into a blender. Give it a whiz for a few seconds until it's smooth.

To assemble your pizza, place the crust on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place a generous amount of sauce on the crust (it will evaporate in the high heat) and artfully place the rest of the ingredients on your pizza and top off with cheese. My fave right now is eggplant, onion, green and red pepper topped with a little asiago cheese. Yum! In the picture seen here, I was lucky enough to find asiago cheese with rosemary and olive oil. A large wedge was only $4  and I used less than half of it.

Pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes or until it's brown, crispy and bubbly. Remove from the oven and immediately place on a cooling rack...this will keep it crisp. Enjoy. I know this will become a favorite with your family too!

Great pizza toppings:

Bacon, ricotta, spinach and mushrooms

Artichoke hearts, garlic, and jalapeños

Carmelized onions, thinly sliced salami, arugula, and tiny grape tomatoes

Spinach, chicken and garlic

Sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella and olive tapenade

Figs, artichoke hearts, fennel , prosciutto, Gorgonzola cheese and a drizzle of olive oil

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Late Night Gardener

It's happened again...I went outside early in the evening to water a few plants and I came back in several hours later, covered in dirt! Let me paint the picture for you.

I had just put the kids to bed and was still wearing my super cute long maxi sundress  from earlier on in the day. I tell myself it's a perfect evening to go out and enjoy the warm air and the quiet, while I water my garden. So I slip on my oh so elegant gardening boots and start about my business. Of course because I'm a true gardener at heart, I see the odd thing here and there that should be divided or moved to a new location and make note of them. I complete my watering and tell myself that maybe I should move just that one phlox tonight, as it has gotten a little larger than I had originally anticipated. It would only take a minute...

Long story short, several hours later, covered in dirt, mud and soaking wet, I make my way back in the house. I'm thinking my new neighbor that drove past me must think he moved in next to a complete head case LOL ...but I don't really care. I figure what better way to spend an evening? Submersed in my dreams of a garden that not feeds my family but feeds my soul too! Perhaps next time, instead of sitting in front of the TV watching a show you don't really like anyway... you too become a late night gardener.

Here's a link for a fantastic site I came across the other day. It's a tool to help you plan the garden of your dreams

If you don't have the space or the inclination to start you own veggie garden you should visit one of my favorite places to shop for produce called Mary's Garden...they started back in 1966 in a little vegetable stand at the farm of Jack and Mary Nootebos. Jack and Mary grew several things, but no where near what is currently grown at Mary's Garden, today. Back then, they were only open for a couple months out of the year and customers were instructed to honk their horn to get Mary's attention as she was often out working in the field.

Over the years, Mary's Garden has grown several times and now is located in it's biggest barn yet. Two of Mary's four sons, Ken and Mike, now run the business but Jack still works every day on the farm to help everyone out. Mary has retired but still enjoys coming down to the farm to pick flowers and see the business that she began, so many years ago.