24 August, 2009

Whip it Up, Week Eight - The Finale

Okay, so for my last WIU recipe, I was going to make a recipe for glazed meatballs that I found, allspice being the star ingredient.

Well, I started making the recipe and realized I didn't have a lot of the ingredients so I modified a bunch of things. So much so that LJ said it wasn't really fair for me to say I even 'followed' the recipe. Even in the loosest sense of the word. Which means, lucky you guys, that I'm posting a recipe for Some Sort of Meatballs in a Rather Barbecuish Sauce. How's that for a title? Do you like it?

For the meatballs:
Thoroughly combine:
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
3/4 c. quick oats
1 egg
(If it's not sticking together quite enough, add a tablespoon of milk at a time until you can roll a nice meatball.) Roll into balls and place in a 9x13 pan in a single layer. Broil for about 20 minutes or until no longer pink, flipping them over halfway through.

For the sauce:
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. random bbq sauce (i.e. whatever you have around)
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
Whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a saucepot or large skillet. Bring to a boil, add meatballs, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until sauce is quite reduced and meatballs are heated through. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes or whatever strikes your fancy.

The Big Three:
Was the recipe easy to follow? It would have been more-so if I hadn't been making it up as I went.
Did it taste good? Maybe a little on the salty side so you could cut back on the soy sauce.
Would you make it again? Yes! We agreed it might be nice over chicken and veggies too so maybe we'll try it that way sometime.

Whip it Up, Week Seven

We've had a busy couple of weeks around here so I'm rather behind in posting my Whip it Up recipes.

For Week Seven, I made butter tart squares. My Mom and I have been trying to find just the right recipe for years but can't seem to get it right. Just for WIU, my quest began anew. I made this recipe.

Now I followed the recipe exactly so I don't know what I did wrong, but they were TERRIBLE. Not at all like a butter tart square should be. (Hm. Wait. Do you even know what a butter tart is? Thank goodness for the "wonder" that is Wikipedia.) They should be more gooey and less cakey.

We ended up chucking most of the pan because they were just that disappointing. Then I started looking through old cookbooks to see if I could find something better. Behold! I stumbled upon an almost-winner! After making them (they were a hit with LJ and the LG and my parents too!), I decided to post a modified version of the recipe because the crust on the dud recipe was better than on the second one. Sorry again for no pictures but when things taste yummy and we have company, they don't last long around here.

Butter Tart Squares:
1/2 c. butter
3 T. sugar
1 c. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
Cream butter and sugar. Cut in flour and salt until you have wee crumbs. Press in 8x8 pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until very lightly browned. Watch out for cracks because you don't want them!

2 eggs
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 c. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. raisins or currants (optional)
Beat eggs until light in colour. Add brown sugar and beat well. Add lemon juice, butter and vanilla. Sprinkle raisins (if using) on base. Pour egg mixture over raisins. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until set.

The Big Three:
Was it easy to follow? Yes, now that I know what I'm doing.
Did it taste good? Um, yeah!
Would I make it again? Will do!

19 August, 2009

In Which I am Hot and Sweaty

We've had a reasonably busy week here at Casa J. (or perhaps as a nod to the German-ness that is Southern Manitoba, I should say "J-er Haus"?)

On Monday night, our new church had a baby shower for the Squawk Box and me. That was fun. It was half women I had already met and half women I had not met - or at least not officially, and my mom made a special trip out for the shower too. We got a bunch of really cute outfits, some books, the cutest little pair of boots, and even a bouquet of roses. Mmm...

Yesterday morning, we went to playgroup (there are a TON of moms at our church here and we meet every Tuesday morning so the kids can play). I said to LJ last night: "LJ! Those women! I don't think they eat!" Yes, it's a little intimidating. Out of 20 or so women, the only one near my size is due September 21st. (I suppose this is really where the ability to bake just about anything successfully is both a good and bad gift, right?)

Anyway, after lunch and naptime, I put the SB in her bouncy seat and the LG and I put our feet in her turtle pool (she actually sat on the edge!). Then we picked up all the apples on the ground under the apple tree (Stupid tree! There are more apples on the ground than on the tree!). Then I noticed there are MORE on the ground this morning! By the time they're ripe enough to eat, we'll have like 6 apples left! Argh! BUT, the tree in the backyard that LJ thought was some sort of green plum really IS an apricot tree. I noticed they are finally starting to turn orange. So if they ever get ripe and are good enough to eat, we might just have apricots coming out our ears. Naturally, the only way I like them is in jam. Perhaps I'll have to try baking something with apricots or borrowing a dehydrator from somebody.

And now, in point form:
- I bought new laundry detergent the other day: Purex Natural Elements apple and melon. It smells delightful. Plus it's cheaperish and all "good for the environment." Wow, I am SUCH a Good Citizen of Planet Earth. *eye roll* Really though: it smells lovely.

- My left thumbnail has been split and splitting for about the past two months and it finally drove me crazy enough to use some of my mom's nail hardener which I swear I almost got high on when I used it Monday morning. Now my nails feel like they're suffocating.

- The Girls and I went over to this lady's house from church this morning. She and her husband live just up and around the corner. Her name's Linda and she's really nice. We ended up going for a long walk which was great, but I wasn't dressed for it and holy sweat, batman! I was just drenched and sticky and disgusting by the time we got back. Instead of going inside to visit, we came straight home, I changed the LG in quite a hurry and took off some of the SB's clothes so she'd cool down and then hopped in the shower. Oh and I put the a/c on first. Oh.So.Gross. I'm feeling better now and turned the a/c off cause it's kind of clouding over again and it's really not that hot out, just humid and we were walking in direct sun and oh I am so old, etc.

- Speaking of hot and humid, LJ just called me from work a little bit ago to let me know there's a tornado watch in effect for our area. Very weak tornadoes, mind you, BUT. STILL. TORNADOES. Eek! And Linda just called me too and we had a laugh since a portion of our conversation this morning revolved around tornadoes (pun intended).

- LJ and I are starting our own 'church' tonight. We decided that since the sermons at church don't go quite as in-depth as we're used to/what we were hoping for, we're going to do our own thing on Wednesdays nights, henceforth. Have you heard of Mars Hill church in Seattle? Their pastor, Mark Driscoll, is really great and they put all their sermons online (audio or video) and we decided we'll download one every week and work our way through a few series, then maybe try a different pastor, etc. I'm excited about it and we're starting Titus tonight which will be four weeks long. Then I think we're going to do the Peasant Princess series (on Song of Solomon). It should be good.

- I'm trying a new recipe tonight for some glazed meatballs but already I'm altering it because they look yummy. But really? a 1/2 cup of CHILI sauce? Um...I'm not feeling THAT adventurous. I think we'll use some smokey bbq sauce instead.

And now, I am torn because the girls are both napping and should I make the meatballs? have a nap? or download a movie?

13 August, 2009


What? You demand more pictures? You demand more update?


The weekend after LJ's parents left we headed out to my hometown for the wedding of an old friend of mine. We haven't seen each other in person since the LJ and I got married seven years ago. Good times! The wedding was fun and it was so great to reconnect with her even if we didn't get to visit that much. She didn't even mind that I inadvertently wore a sweater pretty much the exact shade of the bridesmaids dresses. Oops!

This past Friday, LJ and I went on a DATE. That's right, Friends, an actual DATE. To be fair, the Squawk Box had to accompany us, but she was pretty quiet most of the time. We put the Little Goat to bed at around nine and my cousin Shelley came over at 9:30 and LJ and I headed to the drive-in to see Up! If you haven't seen this movie yet, get ye to the theater! It's wondeful! Of course, I'm breastfeeding and hormonal so I cried a couple times, but the story was really sweet and quite funny. Very family-friendly.

On Saturday we got one of the best treats of all! Our very dear friends from WA, Forrest and Carole came out for an overnight visit. Shortly after the LJ and I got married, my parents met Forrest and Carole and they all hit it off and became fast friends. My Dad gave Forrest the special assignment of looking out for me and making sure LJ and I were doing all right. Well they've since become very dear friends of ours and like parents to me. We even lived in their basement for six weeks before we moved out to Maine; during which time my parents came to visit for two weeks and stayed with them too and it was like one nearly perfect party! Anyway, they've also become good friends with my parents and so spent three nights with them in my hometown too.

One of the Squawk Box's middle names is in honour of Carole and it was so sweet for them to meet. Fun was had, pictures were taken, and we can hardly wait until we get to see them again!

My friend Mel and me.
Check out the double-chin on this kid!

Not-so-double-chinned (and sitting with Grampa, by the way).

The Little Goat with, uh, a little goat.

Showing Grandpa Forrest & Grandma Carole what's in her purse.

Our girls with our friends. *sigh*

See that? Do you see it? It's a SMILE!

See THAT? It's laughing!

Some of This and Some of That

A little over eight weeks ago, the Squawk Box was born. (Yes, that's right, "Squawk Box," so named by her father.) A little over eight weeks ago, the Little Goat turned two and has since, evidently, embarked on the toddler version of the Amish tradition of rumspringer. Blimey! It's like she's gone mad! The dancing! The tricks! The stall-tactics! The tantrums! If this is a taste of her teenage years to come then Lord, come quickly! indeed! This kid is KWAZY!

So I'll admit, the first few weeks of having two at home pretty much kicked my butt. I don't think I necessarily had the baby blues or anything more severe, but good grief! The wailing! In stereo! MAKE. IT. STOP. Things are getting better now as we're finally settling into a bit of a routine and it seems the LG is becoming more helpful and less jealous.

The Squawk Box is getting cuter every day too and sometime last week, I think we finally bonded. It's been helpful that she started smiling about three weeks ago (earlier than the LG) and laughing when you tickle her chin. Don't be deceived by her cuteness though, this kid is made of sturdy stuff! (That'll be her astute Mennonite heritage, no doubt.) She is so STRONG. She was trying to hold her head up already the morning we brought her home from the hospital and is getting better at it all the time. She's got a pretty sweet pair of lungs as is evidenced nightly between the hours of approximately 5-9pm, and an iron grip! I've caught her screaming a couple of times only because she grabbed some of her own hair in her hand and couldn't release her grip.

Let's see. What else has happened since I gave you a decent update last? LJ's parents came for two weeks in July. LJ had to work most of the time, but we did take an overnight trip to The City (where I also enjoyed perhaps the most comfortable hotel bed EVER) and he took the LG swimming in the hotel pool . We also went to the zoo and saw lots of zoo babies. Two highlights of the visit were strawberry picking (not sure if I have pictures) and going to Costco. Oh, dearest Costco, how we've missed you.

And now I should post pictures, I'm sure. Let's see if I can find some.

99.99999, etc. % pure gold. Mmmm.....

The LG with her face on a quarter!

Helping out the Squawk Box.

Out for ice cream with Mama & Dad and Nana & Papa - oh, and the Squawk Box.

06 August, 2009

Whip it Up, Week Six

Who doesn't love a good cheese? When we lived in Washington, we would periodically visit this theme town called Leavenworth. It's built up in the Bavarian style and has some pretty nifty year-round activities. It also has some pretty nifty shops, but the Cheesemonger's Shop is a particular favourite of ours. English Cotswald, Garlic Herb Whirl, Applewood smoked cheddar and Dill Havarti are a few of my favourite cheeses; LJ favours anything smoked but is particularly fond of Cahills Irish Porter.

Another of my favourite cheeses is Boursin. If you've never tasted it, I can understand why. Over five dollars for a tiny little round is a bit pricey. Living in Washington, though, we were usually able to find it for 99 cents at the Grocery Outlet (yet another favourite store). It's got quite a soft creamy texture and a fine herby flavour. It's really nice with water crackers.

One day I was bumming around on Allrecipes.com and came across a blog wherein some very ingenius man posted his recipe for a homemade version of Boursin. What?! Homemade Boursin!? I'm IN!

So I looked around and compared a few recipes and finally settled on this one. I didn't have any marjoram (and still don't) so I have no clue how much it affects the taste, but the outcome is quite nice. Here follows my quartering of the recipe.

Fakie Boursin Cheese:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/16 tsp. (pinch) each of: basil, dill, marjoram, thyme, pepper

Blend together the cream cheese and butter either using a mixer or by hand. Stir in spices until well-mixed. Store in the fridge. Makes about 1 cup.

The Big Three:
Was the recipe easy to follow? Indeed, after I nearly fried my brain quartering it. That is way too much math for a mama with a 7 week old (new pictures coming soon, I promise!).
Did it taste good? Yes! I was a bit skeptical, but it turned out to be just about right. The texture is a little different - it's creamier - but the taste is really nice. You just need to make sure you let it soften a little before eating it.
Would you make it again? Probably not all that often because cream cheese costs a small fortune here (yes, my American friends...you complain about your grocery prices, but until you've paid $4 for a bar of cream cheese or $8 for a box of cereal, you just keep silent), as does butter (anywhere from $4-6/lb). And we've always considered it more of a treat anyway. So far we've just eaten it with crackers and pretzels but we're thinking it would be nice in a butterflied chicken breast wrapped in bacon. Mmm....