Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Pampered Chef - Apple Nut Ring

A little slice of heaven...

I love most The Pampered Chef products. They can be much pricier than stuff that you can get at a kitchen store or dollar store, but I can genuinely say that the majority of the stuff they sell are of better quality and they really stand behind their products. I have so much of their stuff and most everything I use in my everyday cooking, from spatulas, stoneware in most every size and shape, mulitiple cutting boards, spreaders, and even pots and pans! One of the first things that I sampled and then made many times over and everyone enjoys, is the Apple Nut Ring Recipe. It is quick, easy and delicious! Also, nobody will even guess that it's Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and not fresh dough from scratch! Guaranteed to to be a winner!

The Pampered Chef Apple Nut Ring

¼ cup butter, melted

½ cup brown sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup walnuts or pecans, optional

2 Granny Smith apples

2 cans regular size Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter in small micro streamer in microwave oven for 1 minute. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon and maple syrup. Lay nuts on bottom of Stoneware bundt/flute Pan or Stoneware Round Baking Pan. Lay apple slices over nuts (if using). Pour batter mixture over the apples. Slice crescent rolls into about 10 pieces each and ocver the ingredients in pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Invert onto plate, cut into slices using Pizza Cutter and serve with Mini Serving Spatula. Enjoy!

Slice and layer your apples over your nuts in a bundt pan or round pan.

Slice your crescent rolls and place side by side layering over the apple and nuts (if using).

Bake for about 30 minutes until dough is golden brown and cooked through.

Invert onto a large plate quickly and carefully.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thai Green Curry Chicken

I've been craving curry again since I made the Thai Green Curry with beef brisket a couple of weeks ago. I have three fresh chickens so I decided to chop it up and try it green curry chicken.
This green curry has the perfect amount of heat.

I love curry but am not too keen on cooking it for a couple of reasons: 1) because it stinks up the whole house, 2) because I've made it in the past and it just wasn't too tasty so I usually will just go out and buy it, and 3) because I'm more or less the only one that eats it in our family. So unless I know friends are coming over to join us for a meal, I don't usually make it. So, one day a while back, I saw Leela of She Simmer's post. What a great delicious post it was. If you haven't read her blog in the past, I can guarantee that you'll love it. She is very creative, artistic and an eloquent, articulate writer, not mention cute, as well, with amusing stories to go along with her posts.

After I read that post, I was inspired to try to make it for myself. The only difference is that she uses a 4 oz. can of Masaman curry paste and I used about 2 tablespoons of the curry paste and I also added carrots and yellow peppers to mine as well. The results: YUMMMM! My hubby likes it too and I think I ate half the pot!

Massaman Beef Curry: Unctuosness in Curry Form
(Serves 8-10)*

2.5 lbs tri-tip or rump roast, cut into 1-inch cube**
1 12-ounce can of coconut milk
1 4-ounce can of Maesri Massaman curry paste
6-7 smallish Yukon Gold potatoes or new potatoes, cut into thirds***
4 medium yellow onion, quartered
Fish sauce or salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste

  • Dump the curry paste into a large pot, set over medium-high heat, along with the creamy part of the coconut milk that usually rises to the top of the can; stir briskly.
  • When the mixture starts to bubble up around the edges, turn the heat down a notch, and continue to stir until the fat starts to separate somewhat.
  • Add the beef chunks and stir to coat the beef with the curry mixture.
  • Dump the rest of the coconut milk into the pot along with two cups (16 fl. oz.) of water. Stir and bring to a boil.
  • Once the mixture starts boiling, immediately turn the heat way down and cover the pot. High heat and furious boiling will only ruin what would have been unctuous pieces of meat. As is the case for any stewed or braised dishes, long simmering on low heat is best.
  • Let the curry simmer for about 45 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and onions.
  • Bring the curry to a boil once more, then lower the heat to simmer and continue to cook, covered, for another 10-15 minutes. Season with fish sauce or salt and sugar. The curry shouldn't be sweet. The sugar is added in very small amount just to round out the flavor; it can even be omitted altogether.
  • When the potatoes are fork-tender, your curry is done.
  • Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Cora's Holiday Cookies

    What they're supposed to look like...

    Do they look like the ones in the recipe card?
    Roll into three logs, wrap and freeze.

    I sliced them about 0.5 cm but I think they should be a little more thicker.

    I had breakfast with a couple of friends at a restaurant chain called Cora's and they usually have little tear-off recipes at the table to take home. This recipe is supposedly handed down from generation to generation, that they are sharing with everyone. It sounded good, so I thought I'd give it a try. The server saw me taking a copy and said that if I took one, I'd have to bake her some. So, I will be visiting again on Friday and will definitely take her a few.Here's the recipe...

    Instead of candied fruit, I used craisins. I don't know if this makes too much of a difference in flavour but that's all I had. Next time I will use the candied fruit before Christmas for a more festive look. I made a batch of 12 cookies for dessert and they disappeared before they even had a chance to cool. They tasted a lot like a shortbread cookie and were not bad. Probably not one of my favourite cookies, but I'd make them again. The recipe was easy and it must make about 5 dozen cookies.Very much like a shortbread and didn't do anything more than brown at the edges after laying them on the cookie sheet.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Festival of Trees - For a great Cause

    Lauren in front of the tree that just wasn't meant to be ours - maybe Christine will be kind enough to come decorate our tree just like this one! Great job, Christine!
    A ton of volunteers put a lot of time and effort to pull this event off, I'm sure!

    Today, Steven, Lauren and I went to an annual fundraising called The Centre for Dreams - Festival of Trees. The money raised went to a good cause, helping adults who are intellectually challenged, have the opportunity to integrate into the community through educational and social skills training programs.
    Reindeer food was two scoops of oats, a scoop of green and red jimmies and a dash of sparkles. Just sprinkle on grass or driveway where Santa will park his reindeers on Christmas Eve!

    From what I scribed for Lauren in her letter to Santa,she didn't ask for much. She asked for mittens - soft mittens, that is -not the ones that have the warm filling and nylon to make them waterproof, snow so she could make a snowman, a tree and presents, and a big horse and big carriage. She's been eyeing it at Costco and we keep telling her she has to put it on her list. Guess where we're going tomorrow?
    Sitting on Sa... I mean Mom's lap.King Kong tree. Cool, eh? It won a prize for most Creative.

    It was an exciting day with lots to do and the organizers did a fantastic job. The trees were decorated and donated to this worthy cause by various organizations, corporations, families, etc. They were awesome and many original decorating ideas, too! Hand Sanitizer tree

    $20 got you 20 tickets for the raffle for the trees/wreaths. We bought raffle tickets for the trees and kept our fingers crossed all afternoon hoping for a call to come pick up our tree - this would have saved a bit of time decorating this year! Actually, I would have used it as a second tree in the foyer. But lost hope. No call. There was our favourite, the green Grinch tree which won the prize for most captivating, even though the website said it was most traditional, obviously a typo. (I have to say this since it was my good friend Christine's tree donation - just kidding, since it really was - we put half of our tickets into the can and still didn't win since her tin was full of tickets!) There was the King Kong tree, a Longo's (grocery sponsor) which had gift cards hanging, a tree that had bottles of hand sanitizers, traditional trees but however done, they were all equally beautiful.
    The nice fresh wreaths.

    We went on a horse drawn carriage ride, saw Santa's reindeers, had storytime, wrote a letter to Santa, won a few prizes from putting, fishing and just getting lucky pulling lollipops. She got tattoos, refused a fake finger cast, made reindeer food, had lunch and saw Santa. That was an exciting fun-filled afternoon! We're already looking forward to next year's event.
    Santa's reindeers.
    Lauren and Santa.

    Another trip to Buffalo

    My hubs and William after the Buffalo game.
    Some guy was nice enough to give William the game puck. It was still icy cold!

    Last week, my cousin and her hubby came up from L.A. to visit. Her husband is a big hockey fan and has made it his goal to visit every NHL arena on this continent. On this trip, they fared well. They went to a Toronto game and a Buffalo game. My hubby and one of the my boys is a big hockey fan as well. William's birthday was on the 3rd and his present from us was tickets to the Buffalo game. Montreal is his favourite team but we were too late getting tickets at a reasonable price.

    My cousins managed to buy 4 tickets from season ticket holders via craigslist and we made a night of it. William got to skip an afternoon of school to make the two hour trek down to Buffalo. We had a nice dinner at the Cheesecake Factory which is as good as I remembered it to be. No pics but we knew we were in America when our dinners arrived. Guess what we didn't have time for at the CHEESECAKE FACTORY? Yep, cheesecake! No time. Oh well, next time. Besides, my arse could spare the extra 9000 calories anyway.

    While they went to the game, my daughter and I went shopping. I only bought the usual groceries from Sam's Club since the savings staples as butter, milk, juice, chicken, cheese are about 1/2 compared to here. I only had enough time to hit Sam's Club and Marshall's. I had to put things back knowing that I'm going with the girls on US Thanksgiving weekend shopping anyway, because if i bought anything besides groceries (no tax or duty on groceries), my hubby would KILL me for holding us back at the border. :(

    It's almost funny that a guy born and raised in a warmer climate where there is no such thing as snow, only beaches could be a hockey fan. I never asked but, Ricky, can you even skate? ;)

    Our Wedding Anniversary

    On Friday, it was our wedding anniversary and to my surprise, while I was out driving one of my kids someplace, my dear sweet husband went out and got me a beautiful bouquet of roses. He even arranged them nicely in a vase as opposed to leaving them on the hallway table for me to take care of! Normally, I don't like roses as they are so temperamental and they usually droop after a day or two. I could never figure them out. These, after two days, are looking good and are even beginning to bloom!
    Two days and counting...still looking good...

    We had a nice dinner and then saw Jersey Boys, which was a great performance. We don't often get a chance to do much of this kind of thing anymore so we really appreciate the times we do.

    Jersey Boys: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - there were a few songs that I didn't know were originally his.
    To the best hubs in the world, I love you!

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    So-Easy Apple Crisp Pie

    So, what did I do with the 30 lbs. of apples that we picked in the fall? Most were made into apple pies, apple crisps, apple nut ring, apple sauce, apple this and apple that... Apple crisp is by far my favourite. Unfortunately, the photos of the pies are nowhere to be found in my files since I'm still having technical difficulties with my computer. :(

    Out of the goodness of my heart, I made two double crusted apple pies for my hubby since that's what he prefers. What a good wife I am, huh? :) I think we're appled out for a while now.

    What every child needs to learn...

    Apple Crisp Pie

    1 tbsp flour

    1 deep dish pie crust

    4-5 cups apples, peeled, cored, sliced (about 5 apples)

    2 tbsp cornstarch

    ½ cup brown sugar

    ¼ tsp cinnamon

    1/8 tsp nutmeg


    ¾ cup rolled oats

    ½ cup brown sugar

    1/3 cup flour

    1/3 cup butter

    1. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. (15 ml) flour over the bottom of an uncooked pie crust and set aside on a cookie sheet.

    2. Prepare apples.

    3. Combine cornstarch, sugar, spices and sprinkle over apples. Set aside.

    4. Combine oats, brown sugar and flour. Cut in butter to make crumble topping.

    5. Place apples in pie shell.

    6. Sprinkle topping over apples, and press gently.

    7. Bake at 350F on a cookie sheet for about 45 – 50 minutes.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    I'm a garbage picker!

    Look what I found in the garbage last week! A neighbour around the corner was throwing away their Weber Silver B bbq. I know this because we have the exact same one. My eyes went BOING! when I saw it just because my girlfriend who also has the also has the same model but older without the solid cast iron grills wanted the cast iron grills. I stopped armed with rubber gloves and a cardboard box. TO my surprise, the bbq was in, compared to ours, in great condition, except for the flavor bars which were a little rusty. I took the drip pan and the grills but later called my hubby to come and load the entire thing up into the van. I could have just wheeled it home in broad daylight, but no, I couldn't take the chance and be seen by someone I knew! :) I was planning on buying a second one off of craigslist since the one that I have which I love is too small for our family, but now I don't have to!

    I'm baaaacckk!

    Toronto Beaches

    Cousins and brothers down at the Beaches
    Waiting for the ferry on Lauren's 4th birthday at Centre Island.

    A day by the pools with little friends.

    In Montreal at the arena where the Habs practice. (My hub's and son's favourite hockey team)

    I've been away for a long time. It became a daunting task knowing that I'd have a lot to catch up on. So much has happened and after not blogging for a couple of weeks, I really didn't know where to begin. Then laziness started to set in. And today, I thought... hmmm...maybe I should just put in a short entry.

    It was friggin 9C at one point while driving!! In the middle of JULY!!

    Well, a quick update. Summer (which weather-wise didn't feel much like summer) came and went. The kids broke my camera little pocket camera AGAIN! That's two in 14 months, the second only being two weeks old, back in August. I don't like cooking and using my SLR in the kitchen with my dirty hands, so that put a damper on things for me. Last week, I ordered another one exactly the same and now have three batteries for back up which is great. I loved the fact that it can shoot in low-light without a flash perfectly, not to mention that the video mode has a clearer image of movies than my Sony DVD handycam. I had even bought a cheapy from Costco and had to return it since I AM a creature of habit and once I get used to something, that's the way it's gotta be, to my own detriment.

    An expensive taffy on snow.

    A view from the top of Mont Tremblant. (Even colder at the top!)

    We had a fun-filled summer, making trips to places around town like the Toronto Beaches, Scarborough Bluffs, Centre Island, the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition), Markham Fair, Applefest and apple picking with the family. I even had time to whip up 9 apple crisp pies one afternoon! We also went to made a couple of weekend trips to Ottawa (my hubby did a triathalon with his brothers), then Montreal (to visit family) and then another to Mont Tremblant (believe it or not, I've never been till this summer - it was beautiful but it was WINTER IN JULY! The worse possible week to go). So between soccer games, lots of bbqing, hanging out at home by the pool (used up a lot of gas heating it this summer, too!) and galavanting around town with the kids, it made for a busy, busy summer.
    The best are left for last. William being hoisted for the juiciest ones at the top. Apple-picking at Applewood Farms.

    Potato sack races at Applefest at the Markham Museum.

    The Allman Brothers at the Ottawa Tri. They didn't place this year, but they're still the best in our eyes!

    Halloween was also a blast. I guess as our neighbourhood grows older, the kids also grow old along with it. This year, we only had about 30 kids come to the door. That left us with a ton of candy and chips plus what my two kids who went out came back with. This is when an office full of hungry adults come in handy. Out a bunch of stuff went with hubby last week. Better in their tummies, than my arse!
    A picnic at Centre Island.

    Well, I sent my eldest daughter off to university in September. That was a sad time, but she's only about 1-1/2 hours drive away and guess what?! She's been home visiting EVERY weekend except for the weekend we went to visit, since the beginning of the school year. I don't think she thinks that university life was all that everyone made it out to be. Too bad.

    As my eldest goes off to university, my youngest daughter, started Junior Kindergarten this past September as well. She's adapted very well to her new school since she was attending preschool three mornings a week. She was very excited to be in the same school as her two older brothers and is doing very well.

    The Markham Fair. She loves these cutout backdrops!

    Also, having such a large family, there always seems to be a birthday celebration in our house or at least something to celebrate for every month of the year! My birthday in July, Lauren's in August, September is Ryan, Nicholas in October and William in November. Now we have only Christmas to look forward to. This also means cha-ching and hard on the wallet with all these parties. We also managed to sneak in a trip to Disney World in early October making up summer weather with record high humid temperatures as well! On the way down, we made stops in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky visiting the Kentucky Horse Farms, and then Atlanta, Georgia visiting the World of Coca Cola.

    Kentucky Horse Farm. It was beautiful!

    "Just me and my dad!"

    As for the boys, they seem to be having a problem adjusting to the homework thing. I was in my youngest son's class blasting his teacher for assuming that he is a special needs student before he even tried to help him! This teacher has been teaching 5th grade for a little too long... For as long as I know that he's been there (now all four of my kids have had him as their 5th grade teacher, sadly), he's been teaching 5th grade! WTF?! He doesn't realize that he's all talk and no action and that his program is stale. I don't understand why the principal allows him to remain teaching the same thing over and over and over again. I understand that some teachers are do remain teaching the same grades over but I'm sure they make it more exciting for the kids. I think what the problem with this guy is is that he appears to care about the kids but there is no follow-thru. Like I said, he's all talk. He can't walk the talk. I won't get into the details of the debate last week, but let's just say that when I walked out of the classroom that day, I was furious and my hands were shaking. I have NEVER reamed out a teacher before. I was always afraid of my child being treated unfairly in class, because generally speaking, I'm a chicken.

    So, this sort of sums up what I've been up to instead of planting myself in front of the computer.

    PS. Did I mention that I lost almost ALL of my digital photos from 2002 to June 2008 off my defective external hard drive after I reformatted my C: drive??!! Good thing I had everything backed up on an online server - it saved the day!

    Lauren's 30 second visit with Ariel after a 40 minute wait at Magic Kingdom. It was SO busy for an October day. Don't kids have school???

    She was a "good witch" up until the day before she had her party at school. She wanted to be a "princess". So, as it stands, tags are still on the witches hat, cape and broom. Maybe next year...humphhhh