Saturday, February 25, 2012

Making Savoy Cabbage Rolls

On Thursday, I had the entire house to myself.  Nuno went to work and my girls went to school.  I was home alone and didn't have a whole lot to do around the house. On leisurely days like these, there's nothing I enjoy more than spending the day preparing a special dinner.  I decided to have a go at making cabbage rolls.  I had eaten them before, but this was my very first time making them. 

 First, I made my homemade tomato sauce, using whole tomatoes.  I sauteed one chopped onion and minced garlic cloves in extra virgin olive oil.  Next, I added two cans of whole tomatoes, basil leaves, salt and pepper, and simmered the sauce for one hour.  Once cooled, I pulsed the sauce in my food processor until smooth and set it aside for later.

 I used a savoy cabbage (the inspiration for this dish) that I had in the refrigerator and removed the base of the core.  I placed it in a pot of simmering water and removed the leaves, one by one, as they came apart from the core.  I set aside twelve of the prettiest leaves to cool. 

 Next, I prepared the filling.  I mixed together 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef, 1 cup of previously cooked basmati rice, sauteed onion and garlic, salt, pepper, milk, egg, chopped parsley and worcestershire sauce.  I divided the mixture into twelve equal portions.

 I added about one cup of tomato sauce to the bottom of my casserole dish and placed the twelve cabbage rolls inside and completely covered them with approximately three more cups of tomato sauce.  I placed the cabbage rolls in a 350 degree F oven for one hour.  For the finishing touch, I sprinkled on some freshly grated parmesan cheese.  They turned out delicious and I wanted to share my experience with you.

I wonder if cabbage rolls are a common meal at your house?  If so, how do you prepare them?  Similar to mine? Or completely different?  I would love to know! 

I hope you are all enjoying the weekend so far.  It has been snowing here for the past couple of days.   I think we've had enough!   Thankfully, it has stopped (for now).   Mr. Groundhog was definitely mistaken this year.  I don't see an early Spring in sight! 

I hope that you are smiling no matter where you are or what the weather!  Thank you for stopping by! xo

Monday, February 20, 2012

Family Day Weekend FUN!

Photos from our Family Day long weekend...

Early morning drive up north to Foot's Bay, Lake Joseph.

One advantage to leaving early in the morning is seeing the beautiful sun rise!

Packing our gear (fishing rods, tent, minnows, picnic, thermos, folding chairs) for the long walk across the ice

 Walking on water, frozen water, that is!  Here you can see Nuno, the girls, and some other Bass members who also came along, looking to find the perfect fishing spot.

Time for hot chocolate!

The girls making snow angels.

My snow angel figure! 

The first catch of the day is Nuno's!  He caught a nice lake trout.

Anita was next.  She caught another lake trout! 

And last, but not least, was Annabel!  Daddy helped her catch this smaller
lake trout.  She was so happy she caught a fish too!

It was a great day on the ice!  Sun, fun, family and fish!

This is a photo of an inukshuk (a stone landmark built by the Inuit or other people of the Arctic region of North America).  We saw many of these inukshuks on our drive to and from Lake Joseph, as the area consists of several Native Indian reserves.

This morning, I made a pancake breakfast, complete with crispy bacon and freshly-squeezed orange juice, with Nuno's help.  I thought it would be nice to celebrate today in lieu of tomorrow's Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras).  Tomorrow is a work/school day, so it made sense to have our pancakes on family day instead!  I refrigerated the leftover batter for the girls, so they can have pancakes again in the morning! 

Happy Mardi-Gras everyone!   I hope you all enjoy some pancakes on Fat Tuesday!  If you're too busy in the morning, you can have them for dinner instead!  It'll be fun - breakfast for dinner! 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Love-ly Valentine's Dinner For Four

On Valentine's day, Nuno went to work in the morning and both my girls went to school.  Anita and Annabel had their valentine's dance and exchanged valentine cards with their friends.  I decided I would spend my day listening to the likes of  Michael Buble, Rod Stewart, and Louis Armstrong; preparing a delicious dinner and dessert to commemorate the occasion.   And because Valentine's day is so special, low carb would NOT be on the menu tonight, instead we would eat things like naan bread, basmati rice, and dessert! 

Indian Butter Chicken

Here, you can see, step by step, the making of the butter chicken - chopped tomatoes, fried in butter, garlic and spices.  The tomatoes are then pureed into a fine paste and strained.  More butter is added to the puree, along with ginger and kashmiri chili pepper. Next, I add the cooked, chopped chicken breast  and some whipping cream.  And the final touch - chopped cilantro.  In the last photo, is the Nann bread I warmed up in the oven, just before serving dinner. 

Our Valentine-inspired table

The girls were so excited when they came home from school and saw the special Valentine table set for four! 

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Above, you can see, some of the steps involved in preparing the sticky toffee pudding.  This was my first time making sticky toffee pudding in this manner.  I made it once before, but the toffee sauce was made separately.  The lovely thing about this recipe, is that the sauce is made simultaneously, along with the cake batter.  If you are interested in making this delicious pudding yourself, hop on over to my friend Rachel's blog - Baking Brownies for Mozart .  You can find the recipe there! 
Butter chicken and basmati rice with nann bread for dipping; washed down with  a glass of white wine (the girls had juice, of course).  It was absolutely delicious!  This is possibly our most favourite meal around here.  Nuno and the girls requested I make this for our special Valentine's dinner. 
And last, but certainly not least, freshly baked, sticky toffee pudding.  This was absolutely delicious!  My favourite part was the toffee sauce and the scattered bits of crisp, toasted edges.  Adding vanilla ice cream really makes this dessert over-the-top FABULOUS!  The cold of the ice cream marries the warm toffee sauce and it's magic in your mouth!  Thank you to Rachel for sharing the recipe. This one is definitely a keeper!
I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's day and shared it with someone you love; whether it was a friend, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, cat, or dog.  After all, Valentine's day is a celebration of love.  And love comes in many forms.  How did you spend your Valentine's day?  I would love to know!  Did you cook something special?  Did you go out for dinner?  Did you exchange valentines with friends?  Did you do something special for someone? 
Or will you be celebrating this weekend?

Happy Thursday!  Have a wonderful day! xo

Friday, February 10, 2012

Celebrating Parents

My fellow blogger friend, Emily, from the wonderful Keeping Time blog, is celebrating parents on her blog today.  She wants us to take a break from all the worries and anxieties involved in raising our children and to take a moment to celebrate the good things and share what makes us proud of ourselves, as parents.  I want to celebrate with her! 

What I am most proud of, is that I have raised my two girls to be grateful and express thankfulness.  I am always telling them how I grateful I am for everything in my life.  I don't want them to take anything for granted - the sun shining on a Monday morning; the sight of a big, beautiful full moon on a starry night; the gathering of our family around the table for a yummy weeknight dinner.  After all, it truly is the simple things in this world, that make life worth living. 

Here is a note that my eldest daughter, Anita (10) wrote for me a few months ago, in her exact words.

"Hi Mommy,

Thank you for everything.  Thank you for making my lunches and baking cookies and helping me with my work and thank you for buying me things I need.  THANK YOU! 


Oct. 2011"

This was written on a school night, for no reason at all, but to express her gratitude to me.  If I succeed at nothing in this world, I have succeeded in raising my girls to appreciate the little things, to be thankful for everything, and for that I am grateful! 

Thank you, Emily, for inviting parents to your celebration.  You are a wonderful mother to your two girls!  Congratulations!  I celebrate you and all the other parents doing their best to raise their children to be the best they can be. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Eating Local and Organic

Do you ever think about the food you eat and where it comes from?  Does it even interest you at all?  I tend to feel proud of myself whenever I purchase wholesome, healthy food - such as chicken, beef, pork, fruits and vegetables.  I thought I was buying the best food I could for my family.  What I didn't realize, was how oblivious I was about where all this "good" food came from and how it got here.

I watched a documentary last week that has made me much more aware as a consumer, and has got me asking lots of questions.  The documentary is called Food, Inc., an American film, directed by Robert Kenner.  This wonderful documentary has opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking.  The film is based on farming in the United States and the industrial production of meat, grains and vegetables.  It shows how "in the dark" consumers are about food and how it is produced. 

After seeing this film, I promised myself three things:  First,  I am going to pay more attention to the food I buy.  Next, I want to know where my food comes from.  And lastly, I want to buy local  (whenever possible) and purchase more organic.  I want the food industry and big corporations to know I care about my food and what I eat.

I don't want our cows injected with hormones, in turn, tainting our beef and milk.  Despite international concern, the USA and Canada continue to allow the hormone injections!!  
I could go on and on about this documentary, but I'd like you to see it for yourself.  If you have Netflix, you can watch it on there.   It is so important that we, as a society, become more aware of the food we are eating.  We are being kept in the dark and we need to know the truth about what is really happening behind the scenes. 

Enough of my ranting...

On the weekend, Nuno, the girls and I went to our local farmer's market in downtown Barrie, inspired and on the lookout for local, fresh ingredients.  I bought some organic kale from one vendor and came across another vendor who sold organic chicken and other meats.  She told us about her farm store, Nicholyn Farms

Lucky for us, it was only 10 minutes north of Barrie. So we took the short drive.   If you click on the link above, you will see that they are a family operated business, certified organic, and raise all their animals locally without growth hormones.

We weren't sure what to expect.  We were so pleased with the quality and selection! 
Here is Annabel pushing the grocery cart with some of our goodies...
organic chicken, turkey breast, spaghetti squash and milk!

I will definitely be shopping here more often.  I am not saying that all my groceries will be organic - the cost is definitely higher - but I will make an effort to purchase organic more frequently.  I want the food industry to know that natural, drug free food is important to me. 

"You must be the change you wish to see in this world"
- Mohandas Gandhi

I roasted the organic chicken for Sunday night's dinner.   This is a photo of the chicken just before it went into the oven.

2 1/2 hours later...crispy skin, moist, delicious, aromatic chicken. 

I made a delicious gravy with chicken stock, the pan drippings and a touch of cream.

Turkey breast with roasted carrots and stir-fried kale.

I must tell you how absolutely delicious this chicken was.  You could really taste the difference in the meat and even in the crispy skin! 

This is the spaghetti squash I roasted on Monday evening for our spaghetti dinner...

I cooked up my homemade tomato meat sauce and used the spaghetti squash to replace actual "spaghetti".  And now it's low-carb!

I don't think I'll ever enter a supermarket and look at food the same way again.  When I look back, I think, how was I so unaware of the food I was consuming?  The important thing is that now I know.  Knowledge is power.  I will be making better food choices in the future and will be visiting farmer's markets more often.  I can't wait for Spring!  I'm looking forward to fresh, local asparagus in May and supporting our local farmers and community! 
Happy Thursday, dear friends!   I appreciate and love reading your comments!
Have a healthy, happy rest of the week!  xo