Monday, February 28, 2011

You gotta roll with the punches

Happy Monday evening everyone.  Hope you all had a good weekend.  I’m going to tell you right now that it’s going to be a very busy week.  You see, I have to get my report cards written by Friday and I've got a long way to go still.  Plus my student teacher begins this week too, so lots of meetings and such happening.  I will try and post some stuff, but I apologize ahead of time if you don’t hear much from me.  Please come and check back often.  I don’t want to lose any of my readers.  So what did everyone get up to this weekend?  Try any new recipes?

Friday night we took the kids downtown for a Festival of the Arts.  It was called Wind & Fire.  Although it was a very chilly night, the kids did pretty good.  We took them to Tim Horton’s later on to warm up with some hot chocolates.  We watched a fire show… a group of 4 ladies dancing and spinning various objects on fire, such as swords and hoops.  I forgot my camera at home, so I took pictures with my Blackberry.

fire spinner

fire spinners 2

Saturday was a bit of a bummer for me.  I mentioned earlier that I was going for my NLS Lifeguard Recertification course.  Before someone is able to recertify, your CPR-C has to be current within one year.  I thought mine was, but apparently I only had my CPR-A.  I had to take a first aid course in October for work since I”m the first-aid attendant at my school and I remember practicing infant/child CPR, but I guess the instructor decided to throw that in, but not give us credit for it.  To make a long story short, since CPR-C was not written on my first aid certificate, I was not able to take the NLS recert course….boo Sad smile.  However, there is always a silver lining on every cloud…I’m going to be taking my recertification for Standard First Aid and CPR-C in a few weeks when I visit my parents for Spring Break, and then take my NLS recert course.  And since there are many more options for recertification courses offered in the big city, I’m also going to be updating my WSI (water safety instructor) as well as my LSI (lifesaving instructor) courses.  Then I’ll be good for another couple of years. 

Saturday night I played another game of hockey and then we had some friends come over for a games night.  Great times had by all.

And are you ready for some cuddly, cute, awesome and adorable news?  I got a call from my dad Sunday morning… we have a new addition to the family.  May I introduce you to Bonnie…….



Bonnie is an 8 week old Jack Russell Terrier.  My  jaw just about dropped when I saw her picture.  I can’t wait to meet her and cuddle her when I visit in 3 weeks.  I wonder what Buster will do with her?  Can’t wait to see them play together too. 

As for my eats this weekend…. nothing too interesting until Sunday night.  I did my regular grocery run Sunday afternoon  and decided to come up with some sort of creation for Pork Tenderloin….and some vegetables….and voila…..

Roasted Cream of Vegetable Soup


Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Brie in a Truffle infused Filo crust



Unfortunately the filo pastry kind of fell off the pork when I cut it to serve, but that’s ok.  It still tasted pretty darn good. 

Well guys, I’m off now.  I need to get in my workout, eat dinner, prepare an assignment for tomorrow AND work on report cards.  AHHHHH.

Talk soon



Thursday, February 24, 2011

Baby it’s cold outside


Brrrr…How cold is it in your neck of the woods?  My area is in a deep freeze…we had temperatures of –8C when I woke up at 9am, but the wind-chill made it feel more like –15C.  Now I know it’s probably much colder where some of you live, but we are not used to these temperatures.  At least it was a sunny day today.  They are calling for some more snow tomorrow night and into Saturday before the rain hits and the temperatures go back up. 

So my day was more or less productive.  In my school district we get paid days off to work at home on report cards or to do other teacher prep, such as visiting other colleagues in their classrooms.  I got my reports started, but then had an appointment with the Bank for RRSP’s and also a doctor’s appointment this afternoon.  I was not looking forward to the doctor’s visit as it was time for a physical, but it went well, so no complaints.  (I was anxious since it was a male doctor, but he was great about it).  After my appointment I had to go to the school to prepare for tomorrow, so it was well after 5pm by the time I came home.

And what was for dinner you ask?  Rosemary Vanilla Chicken with a Medley of Rice



How to make

This one is an easy creation.  And come to think of it…another GF and Dairy-Free meal…..First you will want to prepare your ingredients. 

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 450g chicken, boneless, skinless and chopped (you can use thighs or breasts..your choice)
  • 3 cups of spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low sodium free-range chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp  Sorghum flour and some broth to make a thickening agent
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp  fresh rosemary

Chop the onions and garlic.  Cut up your chicken into smaller pieces.  Heat up some oil in a wok and add your chicken.  Cook until chicken gets brown.  Then add your onions and garlic. 


Continue to cook until most of the liquid is cooked up.  Then add your broth and wine and bring to a boil.  While boiling, prepare your vanilla bean and the rosemary.


Slice your vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the paste. Also chop up your vanilla bean into small pieces.   Add this to your chicken.  Also chop up your fresh rosemary and add to your chicken. 



Now chop up your spinach and add it to the pot as well.  Stir well and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.  Then reduce heat on low and keep warm until ready to serve.



I served mine over a bed of rice.  I love my rice….. it looks like this in the package, but turns all purple after cooking.


Now that I’m finished with dinner, it’s back to report cards.  Oh how I love this time of year. 

I’m glad tomorrow is Friday.  My student teacher visits for the first time tomorrow as well, so here’s to hoping the kids cooperate and are on their best behaviour. 

Not sure how much time I’ll have for blogging this weekend…. we have a school function to attend Friday night…I’m at the pool all day Saturday to recertify for my lifeguarding (I hope I pass)…then back to the rec center Saturday night for a hockey game.  I’m going to be one tired cookie by the end of the weekend, that’s for sure. 

Anybody have exciting weekend plans? 

Have a great night….



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Curried Pork Shepherd’s Pie

Hey guys,

So once again I surprised myself with another great creation in the kitchen.  But first, how did you like my GF DF and Vegan Chocolate Cake?  I’ve got some leftover cake in the fridge and a couple of Vanilla pods, so I think I’m going to try to make a Vanilla sauce to go with it..will see how much time I have tonight as I have some work to complete for tomorrow’s school day. 

So as I was saying, tonight’s creation was inspired by my leftover pork shoulder from Sunday night’s dinner.  I wanted to make some Chilli with it, but realised that I had no canned tomatoes in my pantry.  Well then came about Plan B…. Shepherd’s Pie.  But not just any pie… see for yourself. 



First I boiled 3 medium sized Russet potatoes.  Instead of using water to boil, I used the left over broth from the Braised Pork Shoulder.  But water works too. 

While the potatoes were boiling, I cut up the left over pork meat and a couple of carrots. 


I also made a gravy to go with the pork meat.  First I melted 2 Tbsp of Earth Balance butter in a medium saucepan.  Then I whisked in 1 Tbsp of Sorghum Flour to make a Roux.  Make sure you get all of the lumps out.  I cooked this for a couple of minutes, then slowly added 2 cups of my broth from Sunday’s pork roast.  Then I added the pork and carrots to the gravy mixture. 


I also added a spring of thyme, 2 cloves of fresh pressed garlic, some salt and pepper to taste, a pinch of grated nutmeg, a dash of worstershire sauce, 1 Tbsp of Fish sauce and 1 Tbsp of Yellow Thai curry paste.  I set the meat mixture aside and prepared the mashed potatoes.

To make the mashed potatoes, I peeled them and then added 2 Tbsp of Earth Balance, a splash of milk, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.  Then I mashed the potatoes until they were nice and creamy.



Turn on your oven to 350F.  To assemble the Shepherd’s Pie, I layered a casserole dish with the pork mixture, then added the mashed potatoes on top.  Finally I covered the potatoes with about a cup of grated Dill Havarti cheese.  In to the oven everything went for about 10 minutes, covered.  Then I removed the lid and turned on the broiler  until the cheese became golden and bubbly. 



That’s it for tonight.  It’s going to be a crazy rest of the week… in a nutshell it includes…doctor’s appointment, Bank appointment for RRSP crunch time and it’s report card writing time.  Plus all day this Saturday is my Lifeguarding recertification course at the local pool…I’m very nervous about it as it’s been 4 years since I worked as a lifeguard.  What will be will be I guess !

Any big plans this week? 



Gluten-free, Dairy-free and Vegan Chocolate Cake

Ok guys…this cake is absolutely divine.  You will fall madly in love and you will feel like you are floating into another dimension.  If you are a chocolate lover, addict and want to cheat… I dare you to make this.  And it’s so simple to make too. 



  • 10 oz  Dairy-free 72% dark chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces.
  • 7 oz  Earth Balance Butter, diced
  • 5 large eggs (Flax substitute for Vegan version) – room temperature
  • 1 cup  brown sugar (sucanat)
  • 1/4 cup  cocoa powder, for dusting pan


Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9-in spring form pan and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess.  If your spring form pan isn't’ 100% water-tight, wrap the outside with aluminum foil, making sure it goes all the way up to the outer rim.DSCN4333

First I melted the chocolate and the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan.  Continue to stir until you get a smooth mixture. 


So this is what happens when I ask the boyfriend to help me in the kitchen.  Hehe…he had a little bit of fun taking pictures, wouldn’t you say?



While Trevor was melting the chocolate and butter for me, I prepared the egg and sugar mixture. Using an electric hand mixer, beat until nice and frothy.  Then when the chocolate was nice and smooth, I added it to the sugar/egg mixture.  Continue to beat until well mixed.





Make sure you also tap your pan a couple of times on the counter to remove possible air bubbles and to level out the batter.

Cover the top of the pan snugly with a sheet of foil and place into a larger baking dish, such as a roasting pan.  Then I added enough hot water to baking pan to come halfway up outside of the cake pan. 


I baked it for 75 minutes.  The cake is done when it feels just set, like chocolate pudding.  If you touch center gently with your finger, it should come away clean.  Lift cake pan from water bath and remove the foil.  Let the cake cool completely on a cooling rack before serving. 


Braised Pork Roast

This is a tasty, juicy and flavourful pot roast.  The trick to keeping it moist is by braising it in the broth mixture.  Keep in mind that you need to have a really large roasting pan to be able to hold all of the liquid.  You can use the reserved liquid to make a soup or freeze it for future use. 



  • 2 Lbs  Fresh Boneless Pork Shoulder Roast
  • 1 Tbsp  olive oil
  • 8 cups (2L)  apple juice
  • 4 cups (1L)  white wine
  • 8 cups (2L)  chicken stock
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 head  celery, diced
  • 1 cup  brown sugar
  • 5 bay leaves
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme


Preheat your oven to 275F. 

Prepare the liquid and pour everything into your roasting pan.  Make sure you leave enough room so that it doesn’t overflow when you add the vegetables and the roast later.  I used fresh apple juice that I got this weekend from the wine shop.  They were pressing about 300L of apples this weekend and were selling fresh juice for 2$/L.  Sweet deal and perfect for the roast.  I ended up only using 1 bottle of the white wine.  We drank the rest Smile


VERY IMPORTANT:  Reserve about 2 cups of the broth for deglazing the frying pan after browning your roast. 



In a large frying pan, add oil and heat over medium high heat.  Sauté the carrots, celery and onions until translucent.  Add to the broth mixture in roasting pan. 


Now comes the best part.  Take your pork shoulder and brown from all sides in a hot frying pan.  I used the same pan as with the vegetables.  Don’t forget to brown the outer edges too.





When nice and golden from all sides, deglaze the pan with the reserved broth.  Cook for about 1 minute, then add the brown sugar and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Then add this liquid mixture to the roast and broth in roasting pan. 


Now before putting the roasting pan into the oven, don’t forget to insert a cooking thermometer.  Since my roast was boneless, it was easy to shove into the middle of the roast.  Cover with lid and place in the oven.  You will then cook the roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 160F. 



The roast took about 3 hours to cook.  When done, remove it from the broth and slice on a cutting board.  The roast is done when the juices run clear upon cutting.  Serve immediately with some of the vegetables in broth.