Monday, January 30, 2012

A Revelation and a New Adventure

Hi friends.
Its me.
Are you still out there?  I haven't posted much this month and I'm feeling a tad guilty about it.

While I very seldomly talk about life in one full post there are always little snippets of my world I try to incorporate, but today, I thought maybe I should share some wonderful news with you and a bit of background leading up to it.

You may not know that I have been a stay at home mom for the last 2 years.
I had worked like a dog for most of my short life, always trying to go that extra mile for everyone, no matter what the circumstances or situations were - especially my job.  I was married to it, I loved it, I enjoyed meeting new people, working with my clients and traveling for it as well, not to mention always trying to go the extra distance for my bosses.  Then one day I woke up and my life as I knew it was changing.  And it wasn't for the good, or so I thought!

I like to think it was an act of God, intervening in my crazy life by striking me with some anxiety issues forcing me to re evaluate my career path, my choices, the way I thought and acted because of my thoughts.  I can only now appreciate this.
My body was full of stress and apparently it felt it was time to jump off a cliff, forcing me to recoup.  Seems now, looking back, I can understand how and why it happened but at the time all I could think was "what the heck is going on, am I going crazy, I want my life back" GO AWAY.

I am sure those of you who suffer from any form of anxiety or panic would completely agree when I say that it is the most disturbing thing in the world to go from what we deem is our "norm" to feeling helpless and not in control.  And I'm a control freak - I can admit it.

What did I do?  I cried, a lot, I worried, abundantly, I sought out a councillor to help me understand why and how this happened, and I spent my time in the kitchen.
I've always used the kitchen as my crutch, even when I was younger.  Mad, bake cookies, upset, make a cake.  Therapy with a happy reward :)

This brings me to my new adventure, a new chapter in my life.  Something I hope will continue because it encompasses not only my love of creating and baking but a sort of therapy without the huge bill at the end and I am happy, truly happy to have the opportunity.

I've been interning at a local cake shop 2 days a week!!!
How perfect right?  Mad, bake cookies, upset, make cupcakes!
Its this quaint little nook of a storefront with an antiquey charm, a seating area by a cozy fireplace with a tv that shows! HEAVEN!
Best part of it all?
My boss, Karey.  She's wonderful.  Caring, trusting, appreciative and her passion for what she does is inspiring.  Her cakes are works of art and I wanted to learn from her. 
I'm sure she thought I was crazy offering to volunteer at her new store but for me, it was so much more.
Not only can I do something I love to do, get myself out of the house and interact socially more than the norm and learn some new things but I could do something for her.  I saw my parents start a business many years ago and work feverishly just the two of them, but when they found someone to help them out a few hours a week it seemed to change them, and that's what I wanted to give to her.  A sense of stress release, even if its just a few days a week.
I hope this relationship grows into beautiful pastiage flowers!!

So, I don't need wishes of luck or sympathy for what I have gone through, after soul searching and kitchen creating I am happy with my choices now and only have the future to look forward to - one that allows me to do something for myself, have more time for my family, keep my sanity and hopefully help others!  It;s funny how life can seem to be the way you want it to be until a wrench is thrown into the mix and only then do you realize you have so much more out there!

On that note, I'm making cupcakes as part of a R&D project so that'll be my next post, stay tuned :)
Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mash Up Monday! Spicy Pasta with Tuna Meatballs

I can barely contain myself as I type.
I am so excited to post this recipe for you. 
It's been a while since there's been a MashUp Monday meal but this week, not only is it a mashup its meatless (which seems to be the "trend" - Meatless Mondays, pffft I like my meat)

The idea came about by way of a company, Aurora Importing, who has just recently started what they call "Recipideo Roundup".  Every month they create a YouTube video of a simple recipe for folks to try, which also has the opportunity to win gift certificates for their online store (in Canada).
Now, you can follow the recipe to a tee or you can be creative.
Obviously I don't follow a mold especially when its a new recipe - I like to ensure there are items in the dish that my family is going to eat.

This month's recipideo was for a spicy tuna pasta.
Sounded good to me.
Except I don't eat fish.
I will however eat tuna from a can, but as I just told my mother, I have to "WANT" to have that, a craving as you will. (which happens maybe 3 or 4 times a year).

The video depicted taking jarred tuna stored in oil and tossing it into the sauce.
I'll stop you right there - not eating it.  Its got chunks of fish.  Nope.  Won't do it.
The fam probably wouldn't eat it either.
How can I make this dish into something I would eat?
Meatballs - of course (light bulb pulsating above my head)

Thank you to Aurora Importing for helping my creative juices flow and allowing me to change up my pasta dish from including meat!

Why is this a mashup you ask?  Simply put - who makes tuna into meatballs?  Nough said.

Try it, enjoy it!
I'm Listening to:  Got You Where I Want You - The Fly's

Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shnazzy Dogz

Every now and then I like to bring my son back to when I was a kid.  Reminisce.
Not by suggesting that I walked 5 miles to school in the ravaging cold with a backpack full of what felt like a ton of bricks, rather making foods that I ate when I was little.

There are some things of course that I wouldn't subject him to. 
Like liver.  My mom used to make it (I know I had it at least once) and when we ate there was no dog under the table to pass off the grossness so you KNOW you had to sit there until it was cold, even more disgusting and choke it down.
I`m not about recreating the bad food memories (foodemory) - I wont eat it to this day!

One great foodemory I`m sure we all share is the pb & j sammies, crusts cut off, sliced in little triangles right?  What about ants on a log?  Or even mac n cheese and hot dogs!  You know, cut all up, placed on top?  I think that may be the first ideas of visual plating as a child.

The other night I was hankering for a hot dog.  I know, processed, its not something I eat often but it was calling my name.  I started thinking of ways to shnaz it up.  Not that ketchup, mustard, sliced onions and relish aren't good condiments.  Also thinking that it needed to be "a meal" and not just a snack.
Lets just add some creamy homemade mac n cheese to that mix.  But no, not on the plate with the dog sliced up, ON the dog.
And since I have a hate on for eating macaroni with ketchup I figured something else was in order.
Creamy, flavorful caramelized onions.
I'm telling you, wanna channel your inner kid?  MAKE THIS!

The Mac n Cheez Dog

hot dogs
caramelized onions
mac n cheese

1 red onion sliced
1 1/2 tbsp. butter
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
Slice up your onions.  Add your butter to a cast iron pan on low/med (or non stick pan if you don't have one).  Toss in your onions, season.  Stir to ensure the onions all have butter attached to them.  This is a slow process (about 15 minutes or so).  Stir around occasionally.

Make your cheese sauce - link here
Drop down your pasta.  I used the noodles from a box of Kraft dinner so that they fit nicely on the bun but you could use whatever you have kickin around.
Steam your hot dogs (and your buns if you want).  If you don't have a steamer, make one using a pot with a an inch or 2 of water with a sieve/colander, make sure to put a lid on.
Assemble by putting a thin layer of mac n cheese, your dog, a little more mac then add a layer of caramelized onions.

I'm Listening to:  Best of You - Foo Fighters
Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Manga Manga! The Tortellini Affair

Who can resist little soft pillows of pasta filled with meat?
Not this gal (two thumbs pointing at my chest)

Many times at restaurants around the area I see cheesy pasta bakes.  I refuse to order them.  Why?
Because people, I don't like spending $15.95+ on a dish that I know I can make at home, and do so frequently. 
While dinning out I feel you should order something that you don't have regularly or you don't know how to make.
But mostly, in this case especially, pasta is inexpensive and when I can make the same dish for say $7.00 for a family of 3 my frugalness comes in.
I buy my tortellini at Costco - a big honkin lot of it.
It's versatile. Pasta sauce is what a dollar?  Then you've got your fillers, cheeses, etc., cheap, easy, fulfilling.
Don't waste your pennies on pasta ladies and gentleman, unless you're rich, or you don't care (neither of those hold true for us haha) OR it has mass quantities of seafood in it (that makes your house stink and can be costly).

Here is our virtually effortless Tortellini Pasta Bake

Wanna make it?
Here's how:

Frozen tortellini (either meat or cheese filled)
1 can of your favorite pasta sauce (or homemade)
1/2 tub of ricotta cheese
A few hand fulls of pre-shredded Italian blend cheese
Fresh cracked pepper
Fresh Parmesan and parsley for garnish

In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta to direction less 1 minute.
In a separate pot simmer your pasta sauce until warmed.  Add in the ricotta and combine until melded.
At this point if you wanted to add in any extras (spices/veggies etc.) nows your chance.
Add your drained pasta to the sauce, combine to coat.
Toss into a greased baking dish, top with some shredded cheese and bake in a preheated oven (350F) for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
Let stand a few minutes before serving.
Garnish with parm and parsley.

I'm Listening to: This Isn't Everything You Are - Snow Patrol
Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Everything Old is New Again

I guess you could say I was in a revampment mood.
Let's shake things up a little shall we?
The hum drum of sausage and peppers was getting to me. 
Sure, I've put them in pasta, I've made them with mashed tators, heck, I've even stuffed the peppers with sausage, and while those dishes are all super I thought it was time for something new to go with the old.


My favorite part of this meal you ask?  It wasn't so much the outcome but how I got there.
I loved squeezing out the meat from the playdoh in your hands!
Weird right?
You know, I get a little cheery when I vacuum too - dust bunny one minute, whooooop up it goes, whizzin around the canister - HA got you suckers!
Ok, I'll stop now...a little side of crazy every now and then is fine but I don't want to scare you off of this great dinner idea.

Honestly, this is a simple way to change things up a little from your everyday sausage and pepper meal.


I'm Listening to:  Soak Up The Sun - Sheryl Crow

Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Everything Dip

Every Sunday during football season has been duly named "football chicken" day.
We have a clear cut routine that happens EVERY Sunday between September and January.
Mr. BM sleeps in, gets up, goes to get his tea, plays his pro line (and this year mine), and picks up a meal size fried chicken box/bucket/bag - whatever you want to call it which takes care of lunch AND dinner for at least him and Little Ugh.
I know it isn't healthy, thankfully it only happens for 5 months.

Since New Years fell on a Sunday everything was closed (even the fast food places he would normally trek too i.e. Popeye's, Mary Brown's, Chick n Joy) we had to come up with a new plan.
I offered to make a nice salad....someone shot me an evil look.
Alright then, I guess I could make some fried chicken tenders with some buttermilk ranch dip.

No dill, or dill seeds, or chives.  What the heck?  Obviously can't run out to the store - its closed.
Ok, I now will throw a bunch of things into a bowl, taste a few times, season, adjust, and VOILA!
The everything dip.
(good thing we had chicken fillets!)

Here's how I made it:
2 tbsp. low fat sour cream
1 1/2 tbsp. low fat mayo
pinch of paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
a dash of hot sauce
touch of milk to thin it out a bit
1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
Mix all ingredients together, if its a bit too thick add a touch more milk dash at a time.
Pretty darned good as a dipping sauce ;)
Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I Shoulda Been Born Italian

No offence to my German background because we've got some great chocolate and beer but I swear somewhere in my roots there is a little "Italy" in there.
This is not a call for a family tree investigation or scandalous revelation - but where the heck did I get my love of Italian foods?
I mean it isn't even just pasta!

Whenever I see a bakery I tend to stop in.  I love freshly baked artisan breads and pastries but when I see an Italian bakery I swerve, I cut people off, I throw my car into park and jump out (like someone is going to take the last cannoli out of the display case) because I want one.

If you've never had one (you don't know what you're missing) it is a tube of crunchy fried pastry dough filled with a creamy sweetened ricotta filling.  Some people use marscapone but I like my ricotta better (and its cheaper to recreate).  I know a lot of bakeries that import their shells from Sicily because they are time consuming and the cost to create them is about the same as importing.  I have been on the hunt for a local bakery that will sell me the shells but in my area, there aren't any (boo).

So picture this, Mr. BM and I driving into the city, stop into a little strip mall to turn around (because he never listens to me when I give directions) when I spot a ITALIAN bakery.  Keep in mind I'm not driving so there's no cutting anyone off. 
"PULL OVER, PARK" - yes there might have been a little higher pitch in my voice
"What? Really? Ok?" - he knows the drill
"I need to see if they have cannolis"
"you make everything else, why cant you make those?"
"I could, if I had the right tools for the shells and some patience....maybe this bakery sells the shells!?!" as I shove him out of the way to get in first (I did hold the door with my foot)
They had some sitting on the counter, empty.  The man behind the counter offered to fill some with the plain filling (because the ones in the cases were all fancied up with chocolate or pistachios).
No thank you, can I buy them plain, no filling PAWWWLEEEASSEE.
I'm not sure if it was the pout or the puppy dog eyes that got him or maybe it was the "give her the darn things so we can leave" look that Mr. BM had on behind me but he surrendered.
He wasn't gonna, he tried hard to get me to buy them already filled.  I won.

Now, a little tip, do not fill them unless you are planning on eating them pretty soon afterwards - the shells gets soggy and the inside changes consistency.
Tip #2 - use a thicker ricotta or drain it using cheesecloth for a good couple hours (if not overnight) - Thanks Jo!

Well, it was a success for me, I enjoyed them, I might have even shared!


Here's how I made the filling:
1 tub whole milk ricotta
1/3 c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (pure)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
*lots of recipes I found online included almond extract or candied lemon peel - I did not have these ingredients and therefore did not use*

Drain the ricotta using cheesecloth and a sieve for at least a few hours.
In a bowl whisk together all ingredients until smooth.
Place in a pastry bag or Ziploc with a large star tip and place in the fridge for about 30 min.
Fill when ready
Print Friendly and PDF