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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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  • [Sep 28, 2015] - Summer is over, the kids are back in school so it's time to get creative in the kitchenEnjoy!

  • Sticky Post - Warning: 4ever Recap reusable canning lids. The reports are growing daily of these lids losing their seal during storage. Some have lost their entire season's worth of canning to these seal failures!

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Homemade Mini Chocolate Chips

Summer has past, the kids are back in school and Hallowe'en is just around the corner.  That can only mean that folks will soon be gearing up for holiday baking.  I'm sure many are looking for healthier homemade snacks for kid's lunches too.  A little chocolate added to homemade granola bars, snack bars or cookies is always a tasty treat.  Chocolate chips is the usual standby for this purpose but for some uses the biggest problem is chocolate chips are too big.  The second problem is finding organic, high cacao dark chocolate chips.  I came up with this simple solution. 

homemade mini chocolate chips
After considerable looking, I found a Goodliving silicone potholder and trivet with a honeycomb grid.  I melted half of a 90% cacao dark chocolate bar over hot water then poured over the trivet.  I put the chocolate filled trivet into the refrigerator to allow the chocolate to harden.  Once cooled, I popped the mini chocolate chips from the trivet.  They are just the perfect size for adding that extra touch of chocolate in my homemade protein bars!

You can use any plain chocolate bar of choice including the white milk chocolate.  Add a couple of drops of peppermint oil for mint flavoured chocolate chips.  Store in the refrigerator then use as desired.  You can even sprinkle a few over ice cream, plain vanilla yogurt or oatmeal.  The high cacao content adds a lot of flavour so you don't need to use a lot.  These homemade mini chocolate chips are a win win!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Home Canned Green Beans

The primary purpose for my foodie road trip along the shores of Lake Erie was finding cherries for my husband's coveted cherry jam.  That didn't stop me from taking advantage of some of the other great finds.  I was elated to find green beans, one of my favourite vegetables to can.  They are also one of our favourite home canned vegeables to enjoy during the winter months.  I even take several jars of home canned green beans to our vacation home. 

home canned green beans
I haven't grown green beans since moving to our new house almost four years ago.  We are away in May which really has put a damper in putting vegetables in the garden.  Green beans go in the ground well before we get home.  While I am growing a fair amount, I have been restricted to patio plants and herbs.  It doesn't help that the backyard has been under construction either.  At any rate, for now I buy my green beans.

I bought an 11 qt basket of tender green beans.  The beans appear to be Blue Lake, one of the best beans for canning.  Blue Lake green beans are long, tender and uniform with a lovely flavour.    Kentucky Wonder beans are also a good green bean for canning.  At the end of the day, I had a yield of sixteen 500 ml jars of beautiful green beans ready for the pantry.   There were enough green beans left over to enjoy green bean foil packets with our grilled steak for dinner and a few for snacking. 

Green beans are pressure canned at 10 lb pressure for 20 minutes at altitudes up to 1,000 feet above sea level.  Green bean foil packets are lightly seasoned with butter and sea salt then sealed and cooked on the grill until al dente, about 10 minutes.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Foodie Road Trip on the Shores of Lake Erie

We are incredibly blessed to live in beautiful southern Ontario, home to an amazingly diverse culinary opportunity.  There is an abundance of locally grown and produced foods in our region.  In fact, eating locally within 100 miles of our home is exceedingly easy.  The vast majority of our food is actually grown and produced much closer to home!

food road trip on the shores of Lake Erie
Cherries are in season so I decided to take a foodie road trip to the shores of Lake Erie.  Highway 3 (Talbot Trail) runs along the Lake Erie shore between Niagara Falls and Windsor.   It meanders through small little towns, home to various annual food festivals, homestyle restaurants, and quaint shopping.  There are countless orchards and vineyards, a few mushroom farms, fisheries and so much more.  The rich fertile sandy loam produces some of the best fruits, berries, onions and carrots that you can find.   It is common to see food trucks along the route especially during the summer months.   Highway 3 really is a gorgeous route with stunning eyecandy and lots to explore.

I left the house early in the morning to make a shorter version of my normal foodie run route.  This time I made a couple of stops before heading to the lake to enjoy a bit of the beautiful scenery while enjoying a cup of coffee.  The sky was so blue!  The air was already turning warm so I headed onto a couple of orchards to the east.  My stash of goodies grew with each stop!  On the way home, I stopped at the mushroom farm.  I have been buying my mushrooms from them for about 30 years!  At one time they were less expensive than store bought but now are about the same price.  The big difference is they are fresh picked.  I only bought two 5 lb boxes this time.  My final stop was at the Dutch Market for coffee and fresh baked goodies.  I came home with a lot of fresh produce - apples, plums, blueberries, green beans, strawberries and mushrooms.  I even bought a bottle of sparkling apple cider.  All-in-all it was a very successful foodie road trip!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tweety Bites (No Bake Cookies)

It has been a cold, damp summer thus far which has given me a bit more time indoors.  Late last week it suddenly turned very hot and humid, bringing a few nasty storms with the change.  I wanted to do a bit of experimenting in the kitchen but didn't want to use the stove or oven.  I came across a recipe for no bake treats and immediately thought it could be tweaked to use hemp hearts.

Hemp hearts are about the size of sesame seeds.  They have a nutty flavour with a firm yet somewhat chewy texture.  Typically they are used to boost the protein content as they contain just over 3 g protein per 10 g (1 tbsp).  Hemp hearts  are also high in omega 3 and 6 polyunsaturated fats.  They can be stored at room temperature but for best taste, they can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

I buy Canadian grown hemp hearts at our local health food store.  They are on the expensive side at $14 for a 454 g (1 lb ) container but it lasts a long time.  I like sprinkling a teaspoon of hemp hearts on top of plain Greek yogurt for breakfast.  

Tweety Bites
No bake cookies and bars are perfect hot weather treats.  I experimented with hemp hearts to make no bake treats that are not only easy to make but a tasty low calorie, low car, high protein, tasty treat.  I used organic 90% cacao dark chocolate for dipping.  Clearly, I need to practice my dipping skills but overall, I was rather pleased with the results.  The cookies are tasty, with a slightly nutty flavour.  The chocolate adds a nice note.  These are not really sweet cookies but they are tasty. 

Tweety Bites
recipe by:  Garden Gnome

113 g (4 oz) cream cheese
140 g (3/4 c plus 3 tbsp) hemp hearts
1/2 tsp homemade vanilla extract
40 g (1.4 oz) 90% cacao dark chocolate

Soften the cream cheese at room temperature in a small bowl.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Stir in hemp hearts until well mixed.  Roll into 20 equally sized balls.  Place balls on Silpat lined baking sheet.  Flatten balls with fingers.  Cover and place baking sheet in refrigerator for an hour.  Melt chocolate in small bowl place over slightly larger bowl containing boiling water.  Carefully tip the bowl with the melted chocolate and dip each chilled cookie, replacing the dipped cookie onto the Silpat.  Chill.  Remove from Silpat for serving.

Note:  These cookies should be kept in the refrigerator.  I put them in a container to enjoy as desired.