Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recipe Time: Italian Mini Meatloaves

I haven't had a lot of time for crafting or sewing lately. I have no idea why, they days just slip away so quickly! I can't imagine what's been keeping me so busy! Oh, wait, i remember...

Man, this kid is cute! It's his defence mechanism - he always wants to be held, eats non-stop, has an extra loud cry that grates on you like nails on a chalkboard, fusses from 8 pm to 1 am, then sleeps for three or four hours and fusses the rest of the morning - so he must be absolutely charming so that you can't help but love him.

But, despite not getting any projects done, i still have to cook once in a while. Don't you hate that? I love to cook, but on days like these i'd much rather get take-out.

Anyway, a couple nights ago we all enjoyed rediscovering an old favorite. This simple recipe puts together quickly and tastes great - even my meat-hating 3 year-old ate the whole thing! I found it in What's Cooking magazine (a free recipe magazine put out by Kraft Canada) a couple years ago. It had options for other varieties, but i like the italian best!

Italian Mini Meatloaves

1 lb. lean or extra-lean ground beef
1 pkg. Stove Top Stuffing (i prefer chicken, but you can use any flavor i think)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 c. water
Pasta Sauce
Mozzarella cheese

Put first four ingredients into medium bowl. Mix with hands until well blended.
Press into greased muffin tin - separating into 8 equal portions.
make an indentation in the top of each "loaf", and spoon spaghetti sauce inside.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Top with cheese and return to oven, baking about 5 more minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fat Free Banana Muffins

I found this recipe on Spark Recipes the other day while searching for a way to make use of the 35 or so bananas in my freezer without making banana bread (so delicious, but oh the calories!!)

This recipe has only slightly fewer calories than regular muffins, but has the dieters benefit of being almost completely fat free! You can even use a low-cal sweetener to make them an even more awesome diet food! If you're not a dieter, these muffins are still insanely delicious, so moist and scruptious!

Best Ever Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (their title, not mine - though they are amazing)
3 large bananas
1/3 c. applesauce
1 egg
3/4 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon and nutmeg (optional - but so good!)
Mini chocolate chips (optional)

Blend together bananas, applesauce, egg, and sugar until smooth. Add remaining ingredients (except chocolate chips) and blend until mixed well. Stir in chocolate chips if desired.
Spoon into greased muffing cups (you can use paper liners if you want, but the muffins will stick to them).

Makes approx. 42 mini muffins, 24 small muffins, or 12 regular sized muffins. (Isn't muffin just a cute word? or am i just crazy??)

Tip: Freeze ripe bananas  (still in their peel), and thaw them out whenever you're ready to use them. Somehow freezing makes them extra powerful for a beautiful, strong banana flavor!

For regular size muffins: 160 calories, 0.75 fat, 33 carbs, 2.5 protien
for mini muffins (without chocolate): 41 calories, 0 fat, 10 carbs, 1 protien.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

11 Step Program For Those Considering Having Kids

I was listening to a talk on CD by John Bytheway called "Everything I Need To Know I Learned At Home". It is a wonderful talk geared towards mothers, with lots of laughs and inspiration. He begins his talk quoting a tongue-in-cheek guide he called "Parenting 101". Ever since i heard the CD, I've been trying to find the full text of that. The web site he cited on the CD jacket was no longer active.

Well, serendipity is on my side today! As I was sitting here thinking of what to post, I jumped over to Facebook and found it!! My sister had shared it via one of her friends! Oh happy day!! John Bytheway has a few that aren't on here, but this is most of it. 

I had a severe fit of giggles reading this, and i  hope it will brighten your day too!

11-Step Program for those thinking of having kids

Lesson 1

1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.
Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)
Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4

Can you stand the mess children make? T o find out...
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.
Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.
Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7

Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.
You are now ready to feed a nine- month-old baby.

Lesson 9

Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's 'Noggin'?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10

Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mod Podge Journal

, I've seen a few tutorials on how to make fancy covered notebooks, but once again, have no one to give specific credit for it. If by chance you've never seen it, here are my steps on how to make a pretty, personalized, easy, and CHEAP journal.

You will need:

a composition notebook
2 pieces of lightweight scrapbook paper (a third piece in a coordinating color or print, if you want to do a binding)
sponge paintbrush
Mod Podge

1. Measure the front cover of your notebook from top to bottom, than from the edge of the binding to the outer edge of the cover. Add two centimetres to the height, and one to the width. The books i got were, i think, the standard size and my paper rectangles were 18 1/2 centimetres by 27 1/2. If you want to do a binding, cut out another strip 6 cm wide and 27 1/2 cm tall.

2. Paint a thin layer of mod podge (as thin as possible, or the paper will wrinkle) on the front cover of the notebook.

3. Carefully put the paper on the glue, pushing it right up against the binding. Make sure there is 1 cm extra on all three edges. Flip over and glue the edges down on the inside cover, starting with the top and bottom. Before you glue down the side part, fold the corners in a bit, gluing each fold in place.

4. Paint the top of the flaps with mod podge to give them a sturdy finish.

5. Repeat steps 2-4 on the back cover.

6. If you're also covering the binding, this is where you would do it. I didn't do it this notebook because i wanted a black binding anyway. Center it on the back spine  and glue in place. It takes a little care to fold down the top and bottom - cut a small slit down the middle of the flap so it will fit around the paper.

7. Close the book and paint the entire front with mod podge. If you left the black binding on your book like i did, make sure you still paint over onto the binding a little. This will give your book a nice smooth finish and protect your paper from getting ripped, faded, and from coming off easily. Don't worry about the white smears - mod podge dries clear!

8. With the leftover strips of paper, i made some bookmarks while i waited for the book to dry. They didn't turn out as nice as i'd hoped, but they're still usable. :)

You're done! Enjoy your new book! I love them, because they have a nice leathery feel like the ones you buy from the store, but i got it just the way i wanted it for only $5 (And i was shopping in town! If you have a Wal-Mart around, or buy your notebooks during a back to school sale, i'm sure you could do it cheaper!), though i already had the Mod Podge, so that helped.

If you're more intersted in a fabric cover, Char over at Crap I've Made has an awesome and easy tutorial for that. Also, she shares her great tip of using wax paper to cover her work surface and the pages inside the notebook - Mod Podge doesn't stick to wax paper! Wish i'd known that before!

You can fancy them up further with stickers, or cut out some letters to spell out your name, whatever you like. Just make sure you put it all on beore you paint on the finish. Me, well, I tend to be a minimalist most of the time.

The red and green book is going to be our Christmas Journal to keep track of gifts we want to buy or make, gifts we've bought, party supplies and decor we need to buy or have bought, and gifts we have received from people outside our household. I used loose-leaf pages this year, but i really like the idea of using the same books for as many years as it will hold. It would be a fun memory of past Christmasses.

The pink journal is to keep track of my personal goals. Since i journal online, i don't need an actual journal, but i still like to have notebooks around to write other things in. I have a slight obsession with notebooks. I may make a few more of these just for fun!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Recipe Time: Rogan Josh

Some wonderful friends of ours came over just before Christmas and dropped off some gifts for our boys, a pretty plastic poinsettia plant (try saying that five times fast...) for me, and a big box of meat for M! Okay, the meat was for all of us. Included were two lamb leg roasts and a small package of lamb chops. I have learned to be more adventurous when it comes to meat. Growing up, we only had store-bought meat: chicken, beef, pork, and turkey. Since i've become an adult, i've sampled deer, elk (soooo good!), and bison.

Lamb was new to me, so i quickly went online in search of recipes. Since i'm focussing on healthy eating, I went to Spark Recipes, where the food is almost entirely focussed on being as nutritious as possible without too much fat or calories.

(as a side note, Spark Recipes has a super awesome tool called the Recipe Calculator; you enter in the ingredients of your favorite recipe and it gives you the nutritional values per serving. Check it out! I love it!)

Anyway, I typed in "lamb" in the search box, and the first one to come up was titled "Rogan Josh (Lamb Curry)". The word "curry" immediately struck a note - my husband has been begging me almost since we got married to make curry. Not the biggest fan of spicy food, and having never in my life made curry, I'd always found excuses. But since i didn't know what else to do with lamb, or if i even liked lamb at all, i figured now was as good a time as ever to learn. This recipe looked simple enough (Indian food always looks so complex to me!).

This was a totally new experiance for me, but it was fun. It's always fun to try new things - even if you hate it, you can at least have some experiance to back up your prejudice. This was my first time cooking with lamb, first time using many of these spices, and first time making onion paste (it sounds weird, looks weird, and cooks weird, but it turned out delicious!).

I put in a little too much ginger - the piece i had was a bit longer than the recipe said, but i didn't think it would make a huge difference. i should have known better - fresh ginger is STRONG! But it still turned out very tasty! I would definitely make it again! It was spicy, so i had to douse it in sour cream, but that just made it tastier. Even M, who loves spicy foods, preferred it with sour cream.

Anyway, here is the one i found:

(The store was out of nan bread, and doesn't carry chappati, so i got mini pitas instead. Still delicious.)

Rogan Josh
Posted by Spark People user psdahri


500 - 600 gm Leg of lamb, diced into bite size
2 large Red Onions finely chopped
2 inches piece of fresh Ginger
4 cloves Garlic
3 Green Chillies, chopped
100 gm Tomatoes, chopped
3 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Chilli powder
2 teaspoon ground coriander
2-3 table spoons Olive oil
Salt to taste
3 table spoons plain yoghurt

Chop finely the onions, ginger and garlic and make into a paste in a grinder.

Add olive oil in a sauce pan on heat. When the oil is hot add chopped green chilli and the onion-ginger-garlic paste. Keep on cooking till the paste starts leaving out the oil. Add the chunks of lamb pieces and keep on stirring till the meat is fully browned on high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and keep on cooking till all the tomatoes are amalgamated. You can add a little of water to stop the sauce from sticking to the pan. Now add the turmeric powder, Garam Masala, coriander powder, chilli powder and salt to taste. Keep on cooking till the sauce is all smooth.

Add plain yoghurt mixing it as you add and cover with a lid to simmer for 20 minutes or until the lamb is tender.

You can add more salt or chilli to taste. You can also alter the thickness of the curry sauce by adding more water or cooking for longer to thicken the sauce.

Serve with boiled rice, Nan or chapatti.

Number of Servings: 4


Have you eaten lamb?? Any good recipes to share for lamb chops or lamb roast?