Monday, April 29, 2013

Chunky Pork and Bean Stew this a stew or a Chili?? Who knows, but I can confirm one thing for you, It is definitely yummy!!!

Stew (Wikipedia) - A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy.

Chili (Wikipedia) - is a spicy stew containing chili peppers, meat (usually beef), tomatoes and often beans. 

This recipe is a variation on a Weight Watchers Recipe (they call it Chili) but I made several changes to suit my own tastes. One thing to note is that it makes A at least 10 servings, so its a perfect recipe to make ahead of time and freeze or portion out for weekday meals (like I did). 


1 medium-large spanish onion, chopped   
4 garlic cloves (medium), chopped 
1 cup baby carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn   
2 jalapeƱo peppers, I left the seeds and things in because I like the heat but feel free to scrape them out if you aren’t interested in it being spicy
1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder   
1/2 tsp table salt   
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground   
1 pound uncooked lean pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch chunks   
19 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed   
19 oz canned kidney beans (I used red), drained and rinsed   
1 cup canned tomato sauce
29 oz canned diced tomatoes, undrained   
6 oz canned tomato paste   

Here's a pic of just the veggies and seasonings


Throw everything in the crockpot (no smaller than 5 qt or it will overflow), give it a stir and cook it on high for 6-8 hours, or until the pork is at your desired doneness.  

I was out all day so I cooked it on low for about 7 hours and then on high for about an hour and a half. It was done enough that the meat was tender but still chunky, which is exactly what I was aiming for. 


Serving Size - 1 cup
WW points - 6
Calories - 294
Fat - 4g
Carbohydrates - 34g
Protein - 33g
Fibre - 10g

Monday, April 8, 2013

Light and Crispy Granola

Another recipe to make my weekday mornings easier (and tastier!). This granola was incredibly easy to throw together and is the perfect addition to some yogurt. It has a very satisfying crunch without using all the oil most granola recipes call for.

Even as I’m writing this my mouth is starting to water a bit because its sitting on my desk ready to be eaten as this morning’s breakfast.

3 cup(s) uncooked quick oats
2 oz ready-to-eat crisp rice cereal, about 2 cups
6 Tbsp honey
1 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup(s) apple juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup(s) slivered almonds
1/4 cup(s) dried cranberries
1/4 cup(s) raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Mix uncooked oats and puffed rice cereal and spread on a non-stick baking sheet with sides. Bake for 10 minutes, stirring once.

Meanwhile, mix honey, oil, apple juice, spices and vanilla. When oats and puffed rice are done, remove from oven and mix with almonds. Pour spice mixture over cereal and mix thoroughly to distribute and coat completely.

Return to pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, stirring every few minutes. Be careful that granola doesn`t burn, especially cereal along sides of pan.

Stir in raisins and cranberries and let cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes 12 half-cup servings or 24 quarter-cup servings (which is all that will fit in my yogurt containers)

I might also add some chia seeds to the mix to increase the fibre and protein content a little but that’s totally optional.
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Points: 4
Calories: 182
Fat: 3g
Carbohydrates: 36g
Sodium 36g
Protein: 56

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oats

If you are like me you need speedy and portable options for weekday breakfasts. I am not the type that gets up hours prior to work so that I can have a nice leisurely morning of reading the paper, making breakfast, picking out your outfit, grooming, etc etc. People who start their days like this are crazy people and I don't get it. YOU COULD BE SLEEPING DURING ALL THAT TIME!!!

I am more the type to set everything up the night before, set my alarm for 20 minutes prior to my departure time and then enjoy that extra glorious hour of sleep. However, keeping with all the arguments about how important breakfast is, I do find myself very limited with this type of schedule. For the last two months I've been eating the same thing for breakfast every weekday morning. 

A cup of yogurt with some chia seeds mixed in and a banana. Its a great option but I am growing tired of it and it was time to start looking for other options. 

Well, I found one!! Steel Cut Oats. These are not new by any means, just new to me. They sort of look like chopped up rice in size/shape and they need significantly more cooking (and digesting) time than the usual rolled oats that we all know so well. 

You can prepare them on these stove. They take about 30 minutes to simmer, but I much preferred throwing everything into my slow cooker and letting it do all the work. 

Baked Apples and Cinnamon has got to be one of my top favourite combinations and flavours so that was the inspiration for this version of overnight oats. I have a few other combinations I am planning to try next. The texture of these oats is similar to a rice pudding and the oats themselves have this very interesting nutty flavour. Once prepared feel free to top with more sugar, nuts, maple syrup, fruit...the possibilities are endless. 


2 baking apples (I used Fuji because they are sweet)
1 1/2 cups milk 
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt

Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray (this may sound unnecessary but these bad boys will make a mess of your slow cooker if they stick!). Combine all the ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Serves 5-7.

Here's a picture of everything ready to go in the slow cooker. I chose to peel the apples because i hate chewing the skin, but it could be left on.
A few tips:
  • This can be stored in the fridge for about a week or the freezer for even longer. If freezing than just take it out the night before to let it thaw in the fridge. 
  • To reheat add a little more milk or water before microwaving. It will harden quite a bit so it will need the liquid to get its creamy texture back
  • Know your slow cooker before attempting this as an overnight project. You want the oats to start to brown along the sides of the slow cooker because it creates these yummy caramelized bits of oats and apples. However, once the brown starts to form they can burn very quickly so you might want to make this during the day where you can keep an eye on it for the first time. 
  • I portioned the leftovers (there weren't many once the family had a go of it) into individual Tupperwares and will take one to work and reheat it with a little water there. 
Serving Size: 3/4 cup
Points: 4
Calories: 149
Fat: 3.6g
Carbohydrates: 27.3g
Fiber: 3.9g
Protein: 4.9g

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cake decorating = GOOD TIMES!

My only memories of home-made and decorated cakes from my childhood are that they were exactly that. All of my friends would have these commercially produced store-bought cakes with Barbies and the Little Mermaid piped on top of them while I would have to settle for a made-from scratch cake with edible daisies or some other creative decorating idea that did not appeal to my young, and somewhat tasteless, mind.

It wasn’t even really about the decorative part, it was more about the synthetic, super sweet, shortening based icings that these cakes were laden with. Although I will admit that Barbie was a HUGE draw! In my teen years I learned to pre-empt the dreaded home-made cake by requesting a store-bought one as a birthday gift (or as ONE of my birthday gifts…I am an only child after all).

Its amazing how things have changed. Now I live for the days that allow me to bake and decorate cakes for those around me. The baking part is nice but it’s the decorating that I really get excited about. Here are two cakes I have created in the last few months.

This one is a three layer chocolate cake with a chocolate cream cheese icing and topped with fresh strawberries and white and dark chocolate curls (also made by me). My Dad loves chocolate cake…or chocolate anything, for that matter, so I went all out on this chocolate monstrosity.


3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup hot chocolate
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate squares melted and cooled slightly

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whipping cream
6 oz semi sweet chocolate squares
2 tsp vanilla
1 8oz (250g) pkg cream cheese
1 cup butter. softened


Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease bottom and sides of three 9-inch round cake pans. Cut circles of wax paper or parchment paper to fit bottom of pans and place in pans. Lightly grease paper. Set pans aside.

Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat eggs on high speed of electric mixer for about 3 minutes, until they have thickened slightly and are lemon colored. Add buttermilk, hot chocolate, oil, vanilla and melted chocolate. Mix on low speed until well blended.

Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix on medium speed until batter is smooth. Divide batter evenly among pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Cool pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, peel off paper, and cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting, whisk together sugar, cocoa and whipping cream in a medium sauce pan. Cook slowly over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Stir in vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on high speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add cooled chocolate mixture and beat on medium speed until well blended. Refrigerate frosting until desired spreading consistency is reached, about 1 hour. Important! Don’t let it get to firm, or you won’t be able to spread it.

To frost cake, place one cake layer on a pretty plate. Spread 1 cup frosting over top. Repeat with second layer. Place final layer on top. Ice top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Decorate cake with chocolate curls and/pr chocolate covered strawberries, if desired. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving

The chocolate curls were made by melting chocolate and mixing with a little bit of coconut oil. Spreading the chocolate on the back of a cookie sheet and letting it cool until firm but not hard. The back of a metal spatula or thick knife is then pressed along the chocolate to create a curl.

This beauty is my latest pride and joy. I just love it when I have an idea in my head about what the end result will look like…and it comes true right in front of my eyes. I saw a picture of something similar to this in a wedding magazine and thought “I could do that”. After some searching online I realized that several people had obviously thought the same and there were several examples of how others had executed this.
The cake is a three layer, gluten-free chocolate quinoa cake and the icing is a buttercream (1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter). This cake was baked by my mom for her friend Valerie’s 65th birthday. After the cake was cooled I went to work decorating. The colours are three shades of teal food colouring. This cake was a huge hit and will be hard to top!


1 cup shortening
1 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners/icing sugar
2-4 tbsp milk (to desired consistency)
food colouring


In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy.

Separate icing into separate bowls and tint each amount with desired colour.

Start with one colour (I started with the darkest shade) and place icing in a piping bag with a 1M rose time attached. Begin piping spiral roses in random order all over the cake. Continue this with the other two shades until the cake is covered in roses. pipe little stars or swirls into any empty spaces and VOILA!

Cinnamon Rolls

The day before the Easter long weekend I wrote my last final exam. It’s the not my last ever as I still have three more courses to complete but it is the last for now because I have decided to take some time away from school to focus on my new job.

In the last two years I have really allowed myself to be 100% absorbed in my studies and I have actively resisted getting involved in any of my usual activities. This covers anything from baking and cooking to keeping in touch with friends and acquaintances. I really have been out of commission for the last two years.

So, when I found myself on Good Friday without any studies to turn my mind to, no work to go to and no stores to browse/shop, I decided to bake.

I’ve wanted to make cinnamon rolls for a while now but they scared me. Yeast is scary and the margin for error seems to be fairly high for me when yeast is involved. I have never been very good at any baking that involves doughs or pastries but I wanted a challenge so I forged ahead.

We wont talk about the first batch of dough that I made and was about to set aside in the microwave to proof when I realized the melted butter was still sitting IN the microwave and NOT in the dough…moving right along….


1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1 package yeast (I used quick rise but I believe you could use any kind)

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
I put my dough in the oven (the “keep warm” function had been on while the dough was being prepared), I let it rise for about 2 hours and it rose to be almost more than double. I wish I had taken a picture, it was almost spilling out of the bowl.
After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan.

Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving

Amazing! These were so good and so worth it! I was very happy with the end result…as was Clutterbuck...clearly...

Coconut Macaroons

Yummy! These were super easy and are super yummy…so a win-win. I have never made macaroons like this before. I seem to remember a no-bake version but since this contains egg whites it was necessary to bake them.

3/4 cup (5 large) egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
10 oz sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 oz melted semi-sweet chocolate for drizzling

Combine the egg whites, sugar, salt and coconut in a saucepan and cook on medium-low heat, stirring often.

When the mixture comes together and loses its watery consistency remove it from the heat and add the vanilla. Mix well.

Allow mixture to cool completely (I put it in the fridge).

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Drop tablespoons of mixture onto a silicone lined baking pad (these will stick! So this is vital).

Bake for approximately 30 minutes until edges are golden brown. Cool

Melt chocolate in the microwave and drizzle on top of macaroons

When I make them again, which I will, I think I will reduce the sugar to ¼ cup and increase the coconut a little. These came out quite sweet and a little gooey. They were good but could have been a touch drier and the sweetened coconut didn’t need so much sugar to sweeten them.

Servings: 19
Serving Size: 2 macaroons
WW Points: 3 pt
Calories: 105
Fat: 5.5 g
Protein: 2 g
Carb: 13 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sugar: 12 g
Sodium: 15 mg

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Welcome Back Note

Well…its been 555 days (1 year, 6 months and 6 days) since my last post. By those numbers it would be safe to assume that this blog was long forgotten.

Oh but it has not!!!

During that year and a half Clutterbuck and I have had to turn our attention elsewhere and regrettably, home cooking and healthy eating has had to take a bit of a back seat. Here are just a few of the things we have had going on since my last post:

- I took a leave of absence from full-time work to focus on school full-time. I have recently returned to full-time work in a new position that I am still trying very hard to learn.

- I got a job working part-time at Starbucks, which, although it was still a nice vacation from my real life, the early morning (4am!) shifts were enough to render me useless for the rest of the day.

- We have downsized our living arrangement and moved (AGAIN!) and have placed most of our belongings (i.e. my kitchen) in storage. How can we survive with all of our kitchen items being in storage you ask? Well, it means we are now sharing a kitchen with my parents…that’s right, we are THOSE grown-ass children that have moved home. This was a temporary measure to support the following two points.

- Clutterbuck has executed a complete career change, leaving his full-time job to attend school full-time for the next 2 years (with no breaks!!).

- We are engaged (yay!) and planning our wedding for August 2014

Thankfully, for our waistlines, I’m resurrecting this blog to again keep a record of all the successful and unsuccessful meals, snacks and edibles prepared in our house. I’m going to try out some new looks/layouts, so bear with me if you return and the page looks different every couple of days. Also, I am going to attempt to post the recipe details and the nutritional information. I very seldom create my own recipes from scratch but I do usually modify the ones that I use and even I get frustrated looking back at previous posts and wondering what EXACTLY did I do to achieve that result.