Friday, 14 August 2015

SUMMER MEALS POST TWO: STUFFED PEPPERS AND MUSSELS

Two posts in one week. Totally on a roll. See you again in 8 months. Kidding, kidding.

I have some exterior house updates to share eventually - the house is looking waaay different than last summer. But for now we're going to stick with a second post about summer meals. Earlier this week I shared burrito bowls. I had leftover corn and black beans from that meal so decided to add them to rice and stuff them in green peppers cooked on the barbecue. We had mussels as our protein (we're big fans) which I cooked in a covered pot on the stove.

Here's what I did for the stuffed peppers.

I cooked half a cup of basmati rice in the rice cooker for two stuffed peppers. Then I hollowed out the peppers (I used green but you can use any kind of bell pepper). When the rice was done I mixed in some corn and black beans, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin... I can't remember if I used a couple of other spices. I think I might have added a little cinnamon and garlic powder? I mean really you can't go wrong no matter what you add. Then I added a couple of spoonfuls of salsa and some shredded cheese on top. Hubby put them right on the barbecue for 10 minutes or so. I toyed with the idea of making the stuffed peppers a meal by themselves and adding some sausage, but I decided I was in the mood for mussels.


Now for our secret mussel recipe - world famous. Just kidding, but I do have a little cousin who loves our mussels and requests them when she comes to visit. :)

We do the same thing every time - I add crushed garlic to a pot (5 or 6 cloves), chopped green onions, and sliced hot peppers (jalapenos etc). The hot peppers make the dish - trust me!! Use lots and lots of them - you can't go wrong. I pour in a quarter or a third of a bottle of white wine (I buy the cheapest wine at the liquor store for cooking). When I made them this week for the first time I bought non-alcoholic wine at the grocery store because I was feeling too lazy to make an extra trip to the liquor store. I didn't notice a big difference, to be honest.

Now, I'm not a chef so take this with a grain of salt (hehe), but I usually throw out the raw muscles that are open and won't close. I must have seen this on the Food Network at some point or something. I think it's basically the same as not eating the ones that aren't open once they're cooked. The idea is that the raw ones that don't close are already dead so you don't want to eat them. I don't know.

I cook them on high just until the shells all open. It doesn't take long. 10 minutes max! Just in time for your stuffed peppers to grill on the BBQ!


Enjoy, my friends!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

SUMMER MEALS POST ONE: BURRITO BOWLS

I'm a little embarrassed. It has been so long. It feels like when you awkwardly run into a friend on the street and they say, "How long have you lived here?!" And you say, "A year and a half....sorry I never...called..."

Ah well - I'm back.

Thought I'd start my August posts after a long hiatus with some meal inspiration. We barbecue all summer because I don't want to heat up the house by turning the stove on and our meals get so boring to me. You must get where I'm coming from. It's a variation of a grilled veggie, potatoes, and chicken breast with an occasional hamburger or kabob thrown in. Snooze fest.

I can't take the credit for some of these meals I'm going to share with you guys because I texted three people in my life who I feel make delicious meals. :) My friend S said she had been planning on making burrito bowls at some point and I thought that was a fantastic idea. To cook them I used my rice maker and one burner on the stove - minimal heating up of the house and not barbecue!! Hallelujah!

First off I started the basmati rice in the rice cooker (the longest step). Then I fried up some extra lean hamburger with some thinly sliced red onion (we're not the biggest onion fans in over here). When that was cooked I added a half package of taco seasoning. Next I added some black beans (you buy them with the other canned vegetables - I had never used them before) and corn - both rinsed and drained. To assemble, put rice in a bowl and then the hamburger/bean mixture over top. Then I added the cold ingredients - fresh tomato, sliced green onion, a couple of spoonfuls of salsa and sour cream, and grated cheese. Mix up and enjoy. This is a fairly healthy meal (as long as you watch your portions of meat and rice!), something out of the ordinary for us, and didn't make the house any hotter than necessary. Hope you like it! Stay tuned because I'm going to show you what else I've made with black beans and corn recently. Thanks for the idea, S!


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

BIRTHDAY CHEESECAKE

Hello all! It has been a long time. This winter has been a long one for everyone but it has been especially difficult for our family in more ways than one. Hence the absence lately.

We celebrated hubby's birthday in early March with my dad, brother, and mother in law. I had been wanting to make a cheesecake (something I rarely make) and after reading hubs the cheesecakes on my Pinterest board he decided on an Amaretto Cheesecake. (My cheesecake board is called "Let them eat (cheese)cake" if you want to click my Pinterest link on the left.) My aunt is famous for her cheesecakes and hubby absolutely loves them so I thought it would be a good birthday treat.


The recipe is from Spicy Southern Kitchen here and it was a hit. My brother in particular thought it was awesome and he's not even much of a dessert eater, usually! The only changes I made to the recipe were I omitted the amaretto from the cake itself because I was baking it post call and we weren't able to pick it up beforehand. We would totally recommend this recipe for your next cheesecake-worthy event.

Fingers crossed it won't be long before my next post but you never know!

Friday, 13 February 2015

OUR BABY MAN

Leroy has about 8000 nicknames and one of them is baby man. Are you surprised? I didn't think so.

So far 2015 has been the year of working all the time so life has been a bit boring. Hence the lack of blog posts. The only thing I have to share at the moment are a few new photos of me and "baby man" - including Leroy wearing his new booties so snow doesn't get stuck in the pads of his feet. They are somewhat hilarious (and more expensive than the last pair of shoes I bought).





Monday, 5 January 2015

HEATING A HOUSE

Happy 2015!

We had a lovely Christmas and New Years and now it's back to real life while I start 2015 with 19 straight days of work. Yippee! ;) I like to think of it as character building. Moving on.

I'm also starting off the new year with a riveting blog post (totally kidding). Segue. Are you cold? Because I am. (Especially today - pretty much all of Canada is at least 30 below right now with that blasted wind chill.) In our little old house - built in the 1950s or 1960s - we are constantly trying to come up with ways to make it warmer. Our house is heated by a forced air electric furnace and because hubby and I both grew up in homes with wood stoves, it just doesn't cut it for us. We fully insulated the attic a couple of years ago which has cut down on heating costs but doesn't change the fact that electric heat isn't cozy. During the day we're ok but to save money hubby turns the heat down at night and I freeze a little in bed. Correction. I freeze a lot. When I'm there (remember - 19 straight days).


We were thinking of buying a space heater until he found the Eco Heater on the Home Depot website last week. It's only $99 and after reading the reviews we figured why not try it? I like to think of it as a big, magical heat square. (Really. I'm not kidding. Totally accurate name.) I truly find this the strangest little contraption. It's a convection heater so there is a little (and I mean little - like size of a deck of cards) 400 watt heater on the back of this ceramic (?) tile. You mount the whole thing to the wall and it plugs into an outlet. This little heater warms the air trapped behind the magical heat square, the warm air gradually rises, pulling cold air in behind, which then is heated, etc.


Now - if you are looking for a way to warm your bedroom at night I have to tell you. We are impressed that this strange $99 contraption works because I seriously had my doubts. I might have even laughed. The accurately named "magical heat square" might have come to be because I was...making fun. The wall, the floor nearby, and even the bed is warmer than before. Full disclosure - I find if the bedroom door is open it isn't very effective. Even with the door closed it certainly doesn't make the room hot by any stretch of the imagination, but you can feel a noticeable difference between the hallway and entering the bedroom. From the online reviews, people who had no additional heat source in a room didn't like this product, but for those who are just looking for a little additional warmth, it's pretty good. No doubt about it - I am warmer in bed now with the door closed. The instructions say you can paint the square the colour of your wall, but we find it actually gets quite hot to the touch so I wouldn't try to paint it. And I would never leave it on when I'm not home.

That was the only addition to our house over the holidays so I thought I would share! We are slowly trying to update our spare bedroom so hopefully soon I will have some photos. Happy New Year!