Monday, December 31, 2007

End of Year Meme/Thang - Year Two

I did this last year too.

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?
We had a busy year. We went to Hawaii. I swam with turtles! We saw whales! We went to two big concerts - Eric Clapton and Robert Cray (I LOVE ROBERT CRAY) and The Killers - I've never been to a large concert before. Scott built me a garden and I grew stuff. We finished our basement. We sold our house, quit our jobs and moved to BC. Yeah, can you see what this will all be about?

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Pfft. I am still working on losing weight. It's not going well.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A couple of friends.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
The U.S.

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
The same as last year - More confidence in myself; the ability to not worry so much about things I can't control; World Peace; some new clothes. And a smaller ass.

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Too many! The day we sold our house. The day I quit my job. The day we left Calgary.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Moving. Finally realizing the time was long overdue to leave my job in Calgary. And doing it.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Same as last year. I haven't been very organized.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A house in BC!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Anyone who did a good deed for someone less fortunate.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I would have to say the media. I am so tired of turning on the TV or reading a newspaper and having to see/read about stupid celebrities and their stupid actions.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Moving. House.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Maui. My garden. Leaving my job in Calgary.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? 
b) thinner or fatter? 
c) richer or poorer?
Fatter. Sob.
Oooh, a mite bit poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Read. Excersize.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Fuss over things I can't control.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
We spent it at our house. My parents came for dinner.

21. Did you fall in love in 2007?
I stayed in love.

22. How many one-night stands?
Actually, none.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I watched much less TV this year. But I do like Survivor, Amazing Race and stuff on Food Network Canada.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Unfortunately yes there are.

25. What was the best book you read?
I read The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns this year, both were great. And the last Harry Potter.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Fratellis. Amy Winehouse. The soundtrack from the movie Once. Lily Allen.

27. What did you want and get?
A vacation.

28. What did you want and not get?
A smaller bod.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Pan's Labyrinth.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My birthday was just a few days before we moved. My former boss took me for lunch, for Thai food. Scott took me out for dinner to the same restaurant for dinner. But shhhh! Don't tell Scott. I didn't tell him it was the same restaurant I'd been for lunch, in case he decided to change his mind. I love Thai food.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
It's always nice to get along with people, which doesn't always happen. It also would have been nice if I hadn't been let down by certain people either. But c'est la vie.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
Fashion what?.

33. What kept you sane?
Deep breaths.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I think Simon Pegg is one of the funniest people ever. I also am a wee bit fond of Miikka Kiprusoff.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

36. Who did you miss?
You know who you are.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
The person who gave me a job when we moved here :) .

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
Like yourself. You are more wonderful than you think.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. I don't know. But my favorite right now is:
The stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun.

If you decide to take part in this yourself, drop me a line (iliketocookATshawDOTca) and let me know! I'd love to read it.

Happy New Years to you and yours! All the best for 2008. Be safe.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 Books

And here's my book list for 2007. This, like the movie list does not include any books I didn't finish. It also doesn't include any cookbooks I read.
(R) means repeat reading.
Still sick, but feeling better this morning! I'm going to attempt a shower and some cleaning. Then I'll be sitting down with the computer to visit blogs and see what's been going on with you in the last few months. :) See you tomorrow for the last day of '07.


The Morningside World of Stuart McLean by Stuart McLean.
Found: The Best Lost, Tossed and Forgotten Items From Around the World by Davy Rothbart.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. (R)
Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen by Anna Lappe, Bryant Terry.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.


Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Children of God Go Bowling by Shannon Olson.
Found II - More of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World by Davy Rothbart
The Borrowers by Mary Norton.
Long Way Back by Brendan Halpin
I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler.


A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.
A Little Stranger by Kate Pullinger.
Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot.
The Broker by John Grishham.
The Darwin Awards II : Unnatural Selection by Wendy Northcutt.


The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle.
The 100 Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and JB Mackinnon.
The Queen and I by Sue Townsend (R).
Queen Camilla by Sue Townsend.
PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives by Frank Warren.
Cheet by Anna Davis.


Bitten by Kelley Armstrong.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore.
The Best of Friends by Joanna Trollope.
Body Movers by Stephanie Bond.
Un-Bridaled by Eileen Rendahl.
Coupon Girl by Becky Motew.


Gordon Ramsay: The Biography by Neil Simpson.
Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio.
Paradise, Piece by Piece by Molly Peacock.
D*U*C*K by Poppy Z Brite.
How to Start a Charter Airline by Susan Charlotte Haley.


Prime by Poppy Z Brite.
Why Girls are Weird by Pamela Ribon.
Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.
Accidental It Girl by Libby Street.


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella. Whyyyyyyyyyy.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?: Music's Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed by Gavin Edwards.


Landing by Emma Donoghue.
Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine.
Forever Lily: An Unexpected Mother's Journey to Adoption in China by Beth Nonte Russell.
Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg.
The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones.


The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards.
French Leave by John Burton Race.


It Must've Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten.
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picolut.
I am Legend by Richard Matheson.


The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.
The Alphabet Sisters by Monica Mcinerney.
By the Time You Read This by Giles Blunt.

2007 movies

Here's this years movie list. I started keeping a list part way through 2006. This is almost a complete listing - I have not included any movies I turned off or lost interest in. I have also not included the numerous, numerous viewings of 40 Year Old Virgin and The Wedding Crashers. Because it's just embarrassing how many times I've seen them.
(R) means repeated viewing.
(T) means I saw it in the theatre.


In Her Shoes Meh.
Melinda and Melinda No.
E.T.(R) Yes.
Nacho Libre Noooooooo.
Tsunami: The Aftermath Yes.
The Break-Up NO!
Cars Yes.
Circle of Friends Meh.
Bullets Over Broadway No.
Pride and Prejudice Yes.
The Ladykillers Yes.
Children of Men (T) Yes.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Yes.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada Yes.
Monster House No.
The Devil Wears Prada Yes.
The Hills Have Eyes No.
Rumor Has It No.
Pan's Labyrinth (T) YES.
Failure To Launch No.
X Men 3 Meh.
Music of the Heart Yes.


Lucky Number Slevin No.
Kinky Boots Yes.
Green Street Hooligans Yes.
Suspect Zero Yes.
Crank Piece of garbage. Turned it off halfway through.
Dear Wendy Yes
Fever Pitch Yes


Dreamgirls Yes
Mission Impossible 3 Meh
Titanic (R) Yes. Memories! Scott took me to see it for our first date in 1998.
Fido (T)YES.
Hotel Rwanda Yes.


Pulp Fiction (R) Yes.
Stranger Than Fiction Meh.
The Family Stone No.
Inside Man Yes.
School for Scoundrels Eh.
An Inconvenient Truth YES.
Clerks II No.
Borat oh my god.
Casino Royale Yes.
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (R) Yes.


Over The Hedge Meh.
Hot Fuzz (T) Yesyesyes.
The Lake House zzzzzzzzzzzz.
American Dreamz meh.
Marie Antoinette not as bad as i had heard it was.
True Romance (R) Oh yeah.
Corpse Bride No.
300(T) No.


Babel Yes.
A Prairie Home Companion Meh.
Fast Food Nation No.
Pirates of the Carribean: At Worlds End (T) Not really.
The Last Kiss Meh.
The Departed Yes.
Infamous Yes.
Barnyard Eh.
You, Me and Dupree No.
24 Hour Party People Yes.
Catch and Release Yes.
The Holiday Yes.


The Year of Living Dangerously Yes.
Accepted Oh Warren Cheswick, why?
Hot Fuzz (T) (R) Yarp.
Running with Scissors Meh.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (T) Yes.


The Queen Yes.
Quest for Fire I thought I was getting Chariots of Fire.
Spiderman 3 (T) NO.
The Oh in Ohio Meh.
Amadeus (R) Yes.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend Quite possibly the worst movie I've seen this year.
Auntie Mame (R) Yes.
Bowfinger Yes.


Legends of the Fall Yes.
Inventing the Abbotts Eh.
Strangers wtih Candy ?????
The Fantasticks Eh.
Big Nothing Hmmm.
Superman 2 I was sick and the remote was so far away...
Blades of Glory Meh.
Reefer Madness Funny or bad? IDK.
Ladies in Lavender Yes.
Knocked Up (T) Paul Rudd!


The Jane Austen Book Club (T) Yes.
Once (T) Yes. Great movie.
The Pursuit of Happyness Meh.
Transformers Eh.
Arctic Tale (T) Yes.


The Apartment Thanks for the recommendation Shaun. Wonderful movie.
The Ant Bully Meh.
Night at the Museum Eh.
Notes on a Scandal Yes.
Hairspray Yes.
For Your Consideration Meh.


Music and Lyrics Eh.
Scrooged(R) Yep.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (R) Yes.
Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School Eh.
Superbad Holy crap, I thought I had a potty mouth....
Waitress Yes. But not as good as I'd hoped.
Proof Yes.
The Quiet American Yes.
Ice Age Hee! Yes.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The food and stuff of Christmas.

I have to give a big shout out to Santa - I got spoiled this year! I was hoping for one certain cookbook for Christmas this year. I got

I know! Totally spoiled and undeserving. Thanks Santa(s). You're (all) the best.
In addition to Veganomicon (yay!!!!) I got the new Nigella book Nigella Express, and TWO Barefoot Contessa books -

In the words of Ina - How fabulous is that?

There need to be more hours in the day so I can get down to reading all this stuff. I also got these two cute little individual casserole dishes:

They're not cast iron, but heavy and cute and oven safe.


Now on to dinner. Last year we cooked a Swedish Christmas dinner. This year we went French Canadian. We started with pea soup, the best pea soup I've ever had.

This stuff was so amazing. The recipe couldn't have been more simple either. My Mom made it and I'm hoping she'll copy the recipe for me so I can make it again. So. Good.

Then we had our main course, Tourtiere. Tourtiere originated in Quebec and is a meat pie made with some combination of pork/beef/veal. Some pies are heavily spiced, some are plain. Some have veggies, some don't.

We picked over a few recipes, including one from a genuine French Canadian person, before picking one. We chose the one that had more spices and had veggies in it.

adapted from The Girl Can't Cook by Cinda Chavich

pastry for 3 double crust pies
egg wash - 1 egg yolk stirred into 3 TB milk

2 TB olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup minced celery
2 lbs ground pork
1 lb ground beef
3/4 tsp savory
3/4 tsp ground sage
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 cups water or half water, half broth
3 cups mashed potatos
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

In a very large pot heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onions, garlic and celery. Cook, stirring often until the vegetables are soft and just starting to brown. Add the pork and beef and cook, breaking down any chunks of meat, until the meat is cooked through. Pour off the fat, return to the heat and add the spices, water and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cover. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in the potatos and parsley. Let cool to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 375'. Prepare your pastry in 3 pie tins. Divide the meat filling between the 3 pies and cover with the second crusts. Brush with egg wash, cut steam vents and cook for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for 10-20 minutes before cutting.

Serve with chutney, ketchup or HP.

We also had mashed carrots and turnips and green salad.

Dessert was the yule log I made for the Daring Bakers. I sprinkled it with powdered sugar and decorated it with mushrooms. It was good, but that icing is just too rich.


OK, here's a craft/tip I want to share with you before the holidays are over. The Kamloops Hospice sets up a small craft store each December in one of the malls here. I did some shopping there earlier this month and one of the things I found was the most simple, clever craft I've ever seen - to turn your old Christmas cards into gift tags! I bought a bag for myself and one for my Mom, but I'm turning this years cards into next years tags as we speak.

All you need are old Christmas (or any occasion really) cards, a pair of scissors and a hole punch (not totally necessary).

Take your card and cut out all or part of the design on the front. I went to the dollar store and bought a pair of zig-zag scissors, but you could use plain ones.

Then you just punch a hole for a piece of ribbon (or don't and just tape a corner of the tag to the gift) and you are ready to go! Look at my pretty tags I made:

Hope everyone is having a fantastic last-Saturday-of-2007! See you tomorrow.

Friday, December 28, 2007

WCC 23 Round up

Nigella's Chocolate Fruit Cake from Mike at Mel's Diner.

Hmmmm, well we had a small turn out for WCC 23. But still fabulous in my book. Check it out here.

Thank you Mike for hosting!

For January I am hosting and we are "Veggin' Out"! So pick a recipe where veggies are the star or supporting player. Send it to me by January 20 at iliketocook AT shaw DOT ca.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Merry from Wonder Woman

You guys are the bomb.
All the best to you and yours.


It's live blogging b*tches - Yule Log!

8:21 AM:
Yes, here we are Sunday morning and I am live blogging this months Daring Bakers challenge - The Yule Log!

The Yule Log has got to be the ultimate Christmas dinner dessert. And while I have to admit that initially I did think about blowing this one off, my family and I are having a French Canadian Christmas dinner this year (remember last years Swedish Dinner?) and it turns out that the traditional dessert for such a dinner is.... YULE LOG! So I'm making it pretty much as last minute as I can, for both Christmas and my beloved Daring Bakers.

Before we start the live blogging, let me show you what I did last night. I made the meringue mushrooms that decorate the yule log:

My last attempt at meringues was a failure. So I vowed to be careful and follow the directions exactly. And I did, other than one thing. Instead of making 48 mushrooms (48?????????) I made 12 big ones. I ended up with 11, after I dropped one on the floor and then stepped on it. Let's chalk that up to the beverage(s) I had while making the mushrooms. They were easy and turned out very pretty. I sprinkled half with cocoa powder before I cooked them, and smudged the others with cocoa after they were cooled and assembled. I think the caps of the smudged ones look fabulous. Just like real mushrooms, if the room is dark and you squint.

But now I am wishing I'd made more than 12. I'll have to use some to decorate today and save some for the 25th. Durn.

And now: Onto the live blogging! I'm going to re-read the recipe one more time. I'll be right back.


HERE is the recipe, by the way.

I'm going to start with the buttercream, which I've not made before. I am gently nuking my butter in the microwave as our house is not overly warm and even though I left the butter out over night it's not very soft. I'm going to get a pan of water on to simmer...


I separated the egg whites and whisked them with the sugar. Since my largest pot and my kitchen aid bowl are not compatible, I've put a towel on the bottom so the mixing pot won't touch the bottom.

Sorry Santa.

In the time it's taken me to get this picture posted, the egg whites and sugar have cooked, and are currently mixing away to cool down before the butter gets added! Be back shortly.

Dammit. I didn't have espresso - thought I did - so I just used strong coffee that Scott made yesterday. It didn't work AT ALL. (Edited to add - by which I mean it didn't change the color of the buttercream.) The hints say not to use cocoa powder, so I'm melting the little bit of chocolate chips I found at the back of the pantry. Wish me luck. I think I'm going to regret this....

Yay! The chocolate worked.

I don't really like the taste of the icing though. It's like eating pure butter. Which I guess you almost are. I have to do some dishes before I start the cake. Any maybe have a piece of toast.

SHIT SHIT SHIT. I messed up. Instead of 3 eggs and 3 yolks, I did 3 eggs and 3 whites. Gotta see if I have enough eggs left. SHIT!!!!


Back on track. I had just enough eggs left. What a waste.

The cake has just gone into the oven!


The cake has been cooked, cooled outside, and filled and rolled. It was harder than I had expected to roll the cake - it cracked once, so I'm glad I did it while it was still fresh. I have a feeling I rolled it the wrong way. I rolled lengthwise. Was that what I was supposed to do?

See you in a couple of hours for the decorating!

I'm back! Time to make that roll of cake look like a tree.


Well I'm not going to win any prizes with these:

The little one (I made it for a lady I work with) looks like a hedgehog with it's head cut off.

But I am done and it tastes pretty good. It will be a fine end to our Christmas dinner I think.

Very special thanks to Lis and Ivonne for this challenge.

You can see all the daring bakers here at the blogroll.

Thanks for coming by to visit, have a great day!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 23 - Celebration Dishes

Tis the season to be jolly. And eat drink and be merry. And of course, to celebrate! This months Weekend Cookbook Challenge host, Mike from Mel's Dinerhas chosen Celebration Dishes as the theme for WCC 23.

I'm hoping to do two dishes for WCC this month (but don't hold me to it Mike). This first dish reminds me of a celebration from earlier this year. Back in February Scott and I went to Maui with my parents to help them celebrate their 40th Wedding Anniversary. We ate lots and lots (and lots) of good food. Scott bought me a cookbook to bring home, Hawaii's Best Pupu and Potluck.

Last night I made Tasty Chicken Pupu:

And it was tasty! I cracked open my bag of Hawaiian salt that I brought back with me. While the chicken was marinating and cooking the smell of vinegar was quite strong. I was worried that it might overpower the chicken, but it didn't. This was quite good. Not quite like being back in Hawaii having lunch at Maui Taco (WHY didn't I buy that cookbook??), but a pretty nice dinner.

Tasty Chicken Pupu
from Hawaii's Best Pupu and Potluck

2 1/2 lb chicken drumettes
1 tb Hawaiian salt
3 tb vinegar
1" piece fresh ginger, grated
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced

Combine salt, vinegar, ginger and garlic. Soak chicken in mixture for at least an hour. Grill or broil.

Get your own post about Celebration Dishes to Mike by December 23. His email is eatatmelsdiner AT gmail DOT com.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Baileys Cheesecake

Good Lord! How is it already the middle of December???? This month, hell, this YEAR has flown by at the speed of light. We've been here in Kamloops for 2 1/2 months already. Where has the time gone? I went to schedule a meeting at work today for next week, but next week is CHRISTMAS! Can you believe it?????

In case like me, you are totally unprepared for this holiday season, I'm here to rescue you with a totally easy and delicious and wonderful dessert.

It's not just cheesecake. It's Baileys Cheesecake!

For the base:

8oz Digestive biscuits (crushed)
4oz unsalted butter (a hard margarine can be substituted but do not use a soft margarine or the base will not hold together)

8 oz Cream Cheese
8 oz Cottage Cheese
2 egg whites
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
240ml of Baileys
1/2 pint of double cream
4 oz Caster Sugar (normal granulated sugar can be used but must be put through a food processor to reduce the grain size first)
1 packet of gelatin or Agar Agar

Base: Line a 12inch round baking tin with tin foil using enough to fold over the top of the cheesecake once its done. In a saucepan, slowly melt the butter over a low heat and add the crushed digestive biscuits. Put mixture into the baking tin and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Filling: Beat egg whites until stiff, add the caster sugar and beat together then set to one side. Whip the cream and set to one side. Mix the cream cheese and cottage cheese together (the longer you beat these two together the smoother the cheesecake will be). Add to the cheese mixture the lemon juice and rind, the baileys and finally the gelatin (or Agar Agar). Fold in the whipped cream and egg whites (fold, don't mix). Pour the mixture onto the chilled biscuit base and leave in the fridge for three hours to set.

So. Good. And it just gets better after a couple of days in the fridge. The cottage cheese makes lighter in texture and taste (any maybe by a few calories too).

Thanks to Brenna and the good folks at Baileys for the heavenly recipe!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Smackdown Round Two - Rachel Ray vs Sandra Lee

I had fun when I pitted Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee against each other for Presto Pasta night over at Ruth's that I thought I'd try it again, but this time with two recipes for main courses.

As a reminder to those who may have missed the last one, Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Get Real Meals battled against Sandra Lee's Semi Homemade Cooking 2 in a pasta competition.

Do a Google (or other) search on the Internet for Sandra Lee and you'll find that people have some very strong opinions about her. Or just read the comments from my other post. Honestly,I can't really get into a debate on whether Sandra Lee is good or bad. Her shows are not televised in Canada; I saw two episodes when we were on vacation earlier this year and I don't remember too much about them - I was lying on the couch zonked out on codeine and alcohol (don't try this at home kids!) after breaking my toes. I don't own any of her books - the one pictured above was borrowed from the library a couple of months ago. I flipped through it, copied down some recipes that sounded good and took it back. So please don't hate me that I don't hate her. Perhaps I just don't know any better.

So here's Round Two of Smackdown - Rachel Ray vs Sandra Lee. Battle Beef!

Our first dish is from Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Get Real Meals. Meatball and Spinach No-sagna.

This was pretty good. Like Rachel's pasta recipe from the first smack down, it took way longer than 30 minutes, probably more than an hour, but it was good. It's basically huge meatballs baked over spinach with tomato sauce. Lasagna with no noodles. Hence the No-Sagne name. There was wayyyy more than 4 servings here. I don't know if I would make this again, although Scott loved the leftover meatballs (not so much the spinach) and ate meatball subs for lunch for days.

And here is Crispy Orange Beef from Sandra Lee Semi Homemade Cooking 2.

I LOVED this dish. This dish also had a cooking time of 30 minutes and unlike Rachel Ray, the Crispy Orange Beef delivered. Such a small list of ingredients (beef, garlic, marmalade, beef broth, chiles and soy sauce) came together fast for a fantastic dish. Neither Scott and I are fans of marmalade. I loved it in this dish, he didn't care for the pieces of peel so much. Next time I make this (oh yes, there will be more than one next time!!!!) I think I might push the marmalade thru a sieve to take some of the peel out. Perhaps Scott would like it better that way. If not, more for me!

Sorry to say, Sandra Lee haters, Sandra wins Round Two. Don't hate me!

Crispy Orange Beef
Sandra Lee Semi Homemade 2

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut in 1-inch strips
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup cornstarch
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
10 small dried Thai chiles
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Season flank steak strips with salt and pepper, then toss with cornstarch. Shake off excess.

Fill a large frying pan with enough oil to cover the bottom by 1/4 to 1/2-inch. Heat the oil to 365'. Working in batches, fry the steak. Do not crowd pan. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.

For the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat and cook the garlic until fragrant; do not let the garlic brown. Add orange marmalade, 1/2 cup beef broth, soy sauce, and chiles. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into remaining 1/2 cup beef broth. Stir cornstarch mixture into simmering sauce. Return to a simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until sauce thickens.

Sandra Lee suggests serving the beef with frisee and crisp noodles. I served mine with rice.

Our results stand thusly - Rachel Ray 0, Sandra Lee 2. I'm off to choose two new competitors for another Smackdown. Any suggestions? Bobby Flay vs Anthony Bourdain? Ina Garten vs Paula Deen? Lidia Bastianich vs Giada De Laurentis?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Presto Pasta Night - Fusilli Caprese

It may be chilly here, and yes, there is snow, but I'm blocking all of that out. In my heart, the weather is still warm. The sun shines strong and hot all day. I can wear sandals. No chilled fingers or slipping on ice. No shoveling the driveway! Hey, it's my fantasy. Leave me alone.

Also in my delusional state, tomatos are still as wonderful now as they are in the summer. I know that is not true, but my love of tomatos knows no bounds. Some may turn up their noses at inferior winter tomatos. I can't. It's an addiction.

Here's my latest pasta dish for Ruth and Presto Past Night. I figure if you buy the best tomatos December can provide, and mix them with lots of garlic and fresh basil, how can you go wrong???

Fusilli Caprese

3/4 lb fusilli pasta

1 1/4 lb tomatos, seeded and diced (I used a combo of hothouse and cherry)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 green onions, finely chopped
3 tb finely minced fresh basil
100 grams boccocini, chopped
salt and pepper

Mix together the tomatos, garlic, green onions, basil, cheese and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit on the counter for one or two hours.

When you're ready to eat, cook your fusilli and drain. Pour into your serving dish, then add the sauce and all the juices. Toss well and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Peabody's Housewarming Party: Tomato Braised Chicken Legs

Most of you out there are well aware of this weeks big blog event - Peabody's Housewarming Party! Yes, Peabody and her husband have bought themselves a new house and have invited all of us bloggers over for a party! Figuratively speaking, of course.

And I'm bringing my warmest congratulations to them both, along with some chicken.

Tomato Braised Chicken Legs
adapted from Tapas by Richard Tapper.

12 chicken legs, skin removed
salt and pepper
olive oil or vegetable oil, or a combo - for frying
1 onion chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 796 ml can chopped tomato in juice
1 cup chicken broth

Preheat your oven to 400'.

Heat oil (I use about 1/2 cup) in a heavy pan over medium heat. Season the flour with salt and pepper, then toss in the chicken legs to coat. Shake off any excess flour and cook the chicken in batches if needed, until brown. Remove chicken to a large baking dish when done.

While the chicken is cooking heat 1 tb oil in a pan and cook the onion and garlic until tender and just starting to brown. Add the tomatos and chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and puree. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

When all the chicken is cooked and in the baking dish pour the tomato sauce over top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

When the 40 minutes are up, remove the chicken from the oven. Take the chicken out of the sauce and place the pieces on a foil lined baking sheet (I use the foil that was covering the chicken) and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until the chicken is starting to brown and crisp.

Serve with the tomato sauce on the side.


A lovely friend who worked in my office building in Calgary sent me this poem when I told her we'd bought our house in Kamloops. Peabody, I send this to you.

A Blessing For The Home

Within these gatesLet there come
No sorrow

Within this dwelling
Let there come
No distress

Through these doors
Let there come
No terror

With this family unit
Let there be
No disagreement

Within this place
Let there be only
Blessing and Peace

and this one is not as sweet, but just as true:

People are living longer than ever before, a phenomenon undoubtedly made necessary by the 30-year mortgage. ~Doug Larson

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Eat Christmas Cookies

I'm working on putting the finishing touches on a parcel headed to Calgary for Christmas and our nephews FIRST birthday (Happy Birthday little guy!) and tonight I made some cookies for Scott's family. I tried a new recipe and the cookies came out quite well. So I'm sharing them with you and with Susan for her Eat Christmas Cookies extravaganza over at Food Blogga. Susan is gathering cookie recipes from around the world and sharing them with little old us! It's pretty great, go check it out.

Chunky Toblerone Shortbread
from Kraft

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup super fine sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 (100 g each) Toblerone Chocolate bars, chopped
3 Tbsp. sifted icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350'. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Combine flour and cornstarch. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chopped chocolate.
Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, about 1" apart.
Bake 15 -20 minutes (I thought their recommendation of 20-25 was too long) or until lightly browned. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Remove to wire racks. Let cool completely.