Beef Noodle Casserole, and a contest… of sorts!

As I am fast nearing my 100th post (this one makes 96!) I have decided to get all of you involved in helping me celebrate! I am inviting everyone to submit their all-time favourite recipe – dessert or otherwise – for a chance to be the subject of said 100th post!

To participate: If you have a blog and your favourite recipe is already posted, simply email me the link to the post. If you do not have a blog, email the recipe along with a little write up telling me what you love about it, its history in your family, a photo of the finished recipe – if you have one, and the source. A link to the source would be great, but isn’t necessary, particularly if it was drawn from a book or is an original idea. Ideally, your submission should resemble a brief blog post.

The winning recipe will be the one that “speaks to me” the most, in other words, has me scrambling to the kitchen to whip up and devour!

Submissions will be accepted until midnight April 24th, with the winning post going live at 6:00 pm (central) on May 1st.

Good luck to you all!

In the meantime, let’s have a peak at today’s recipe.

Back in my younger [not-so-smart] days, I absolutely loved the boxed beef noodle dinner. Eventually I got clued in as to how unhealthy processed foods were and began eliminating as much of it as I could. And that included my much-loved beef noodle. Pout

It didn’t take long before I found myself eyeing those boxes on grocery store shelves, wondering if it would be so bad to buy one, just this once. However, the cravings were quickly silenced once I looked over the ingredient list.

I simply couldn’t justify putting that garbage into my system.

So what’s a girl to do?

Scour the ‘net for a scratch-made version, of course!

As usual, I found exactly what I was looking for!

And here it is, the recipe to give your hamburger a helping hand!
IMG_0140Adapted from: Cook Book Fixation

227g uncooked egg noodles
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. extra lean ground beef
2 tsp. Bragg Liquid Soy Seasoning (a non-GMO soy sauce)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbs. flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (honestly, I just use water and can’t tell that anything is missing.)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet, sauté onion 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so. Add beef; cook until no longer pink. Drain off any fat and return to skillet. Add seasonings, liquid soy, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in chicken broth (or water), flour and cheese. Cook, stirring often, until cheese is melted and liquid has thickened somewhat. Drain the cooked noodles and stir into the beef mixture. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Yields 4 Servings.

**I enjoy this topped with homemade BBQ sauce (recipe coming soon!) or even ketchup.**

(Calculated using water in place of broth)
Calories: 610
Fat: 28.6g
– Saturated: 12g
– Cholesterol: 96.3mg
Sodium: 1,134mg
Carbohydrates: 41.7g
– Fibre: 3g
– Sugars: 1.9g
Protein: 45.9g

Confetti Marshmallow Squares

Happy “First Day of Spring” everyone!

Today I have for you quite the adorable (not to mention spring-like) treat that is very popular here in central Canada. You will find these colourful squares in virtually all non-chain coffee shops and bakeries. And it’s no wonder…

These little morsels are VERY addictive!

But not necessarily the healthiest treat around, thanks to the mini fruit flavoured marshmallows. They are probably one of the most artificial and GMO (genetically modified organism) laden foods you can find on store shelves.IMG_0164While I normally do my best to avoid such blatantly artificial ingredients, on rare occasions I will live dangerously and indulge in things that I know are not good for me! ;)

Besides, it can’t be much worse than dining in some of those popular chain restaurants! So how about it, would you like to live dangerously too and enjoy a square with me?!IMG_0167INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
150g (that’s half of a standard package) butterscotch chips
250g package mini fruit flavoured marshmallow

Line an 8″ square pan with wax paper and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add marshmallow; set this aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter along with the peanut butter. Add butterscotch chips and turn off the heat. Stir until chips are completely melted. Remove from burner and let cool at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to help the cooling process.IMG_0163Once the pot has cooled enough that you can comfortably touch the bottom (marshmallows may melt if mixture has not cooled sufficiently) add the butter mixture to the marshmallows; stir until well combined. Transfer to the prepared pan and – here is my very own fool-proof trick – lay a second piece of wax paper over the top and press down evenly.IMG_0165This saves you the frustration of having the mixture stick to utensils or fingers and you will get a much more level and compacted square. Fold the wax paper tightly around the pan and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Lift square from the pan using the base layer of wax paper and transfer to a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, or a large pizza cutter, cut into 25 bite-sized squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer (and they do freeze wonderfully!)
Calories: 115
Fat: 6g
– Saturated Fat: 3g
– Cholesterol: 4.9mg
Sodium: 51mg
Carbohydrates: 12.8g
– Fibre: 0.3g
– Sugars: 9.5g
Protein: 1.9g

Running News

It’s done. My old treadmill went out the door Wednesday afternoon and even though it kept me in running condition through many a winter, I was happy to see it go.

Without warning, the machine stopped dead In the middle of my second last run, and came very close to doing the same no less than four times during the last run.

So the old beast won’t be missed.

Especially since daytime temps have been above freezing all week, enabling me to run outdoors exclusively! Even though I’ve had to dodge a whole lot of puddles and a few small ponds along the way, I’m still very happy to take my training back outside! :)

Speaking of which, I am up to running 4 miles comfortably (6 on a treadmill) so I am ready to run at least a 5K for my first race of the year. (DISCLAIMER: I don’t actually “race,” I just enjoy participating in these events!) I have one picked out for the 29th, but the wimp in me is waiting to see what the weather will be like before signing up!

In other running news…

I purchased a new pair of shoes, the New Balance Minimus Zero to be exact. I believe they have been discontinued, but getting a great deal is far more important to me than keeping up with the latest, greatest thing. I haven’t taken them for a “ride” yet so I can’t comment on their feel and performance.

Last but not least, I’m thinking about joining a newly formed running group. I have never even run with a buddy before, let alone an entire running group, so I really don’t know how I will like it. I have some time to mull it over; their first group run doesn’t happen until April 1.

That about wraps it up. I will keep you all posted on how things pan out over the next few weeks.

Vanilla Wafer Cookies

Today I have for you a cookie that looks and sounds deceivingly bland, but pack a whole lot of flavour thanks to a whopping full tablespoon of vanilla extract!

I had reservations about using this much and thought it might be a typo… or a bad joke. I stared at the tablespoon, full to the brim with that aromatic black liquid we all know and love, and shook my head. Then I dumped the whole lot into the mixing bowl hoping that I had not made a huge mistake.

But it was no mistake, the resulting cookie was phenomenal!

As you can see from the photos, mine baked up thick and soft instead of wafer thin. I think the reason might be that I cut the sugar by half a cup then added 1/4 cup of light brown sugar. But I don’t regret the modification because I actually found these cookies to be very sweet. So sweet, in fact, that I may reduce the sugar even more next time then… as much as I hate this method… roll the dough out thin and break out the cookie cutters.IMG_0161Adapted slightly from Taste of Home

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and all that vanilla! Whisk together the dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yields 2 dozen.IMG_0162Nutritional Information:
Calories (per 2 cookies): 175
Fat: 8.5g
– Saturated Fat: 5g
– Cholesterol: 38mg
Sodium: 85.5mg
Carbohydrates: 22.1g
– Fibre: 0.4g
– Sugars: 11.5g
Protein: 2.3g

Raisin Cake Cookies

Sometimes my mind likes to go on vacation and I end up doing the stupidest things, and last weekend was its latest venture into “La-La Land.”

Under normal circumstances, one does as much research as one possibly can prior to ordering a large, expensive item, not afterwards, right? Wrong. Remember that awesome new treadmill I ordered? You guessed it; I did my research after placing the order… and learned that the treadmill was anything but apartment friendly. I had no choice but to cancel.

So my decision now is to wait until the start of next winter to purchase a new, apartment-friendly model. I’m not exactly happy about this because I was really looking forward to upgrading to a better machine.

Treadmill woes aside, I have been on a cookie-baking streak the last while and am a bit behind in posting them. I baked these earlier this week and, to be totally honest, found them to be a bit lacking. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with these cookies. They are tasty enough, I just wasn’t blown away by their flavour. I’m posting them because my grandma gave them very high marks; in fact, she liked these even more than the coconut oatmeal cookies that I thought were so out of this world delicious.

To each his own, and I hope that you enjoy these as much as my grandma did :)IMG_0161Adapted from Raisin Cake Cookies

1 cup raisins (we always use sultanas)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/3 tsp. baking soda
1/3 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a small saucepan, combine raisins and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in the walnuts and raisins, along with the water you boiled them in. Drop by rounded spoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 ½ dozen.

Nutritional Information:
Calories (per 2 cookies): 203
Fat: 8.2g
– Saturated Fat: 4.1g
– Cholesterol: 30.4mg
Sodium: 96.1mg
Carbohydrates: 30.3g
– Fibre: 0.9g
– Sugars: 11.9g
Protein: 3.1g

Saying goodbye to a faithful old friend

I admit it. Despite an intense love for the great outdoors, I am a fair-weather runner only. If it’s too cold, hot, rainy, humid, or windy, I relegate myself to the oh-so-boring treadmill.

A machine which, I not only have a love-hate relationship with, but one which just happens to be dying on me, and in a potentially dangerous manner at that.

When I run on it, the motor doesn’t run at a consistent speed but often “hiccups” – for lack of a better term. I don’t know how else to describe it except that it slows, almost imperceptibly (maybe I’m imagining things??) then resumes its speed. It happens suddenly enough to throw me ever so slightly off my stride, so the concern is that if it gets any worse I may end up pulling a muscle or spraining something. I thought perhaps lubricating the deck would take care of things, but it didn’t solve the problem.

I can’t complain though; it’s an entry-level model that cost somewhere around $400 or $500 and has been in steady use for over 10 years. But now it’s time to say goodbye.


Out with the old…

So I ordered a new treadmill yesterday, one with all the bells and whistles, and I can’t wait for its arrival, which is estimated for the 10th! with the new!

…in with the new!

Pineapple Delight

Do you remember last week’s post? Well, it goes hand in hand with today’s. It might even be considered parts 1 and 2, as you absolutely must have a good pastry cream to make pineapple delight, also known as pineapple squares. Because this recipe is a bit labour intensive (but SO worth the time and effort!) I suggest making said pastry cream a day ahead.

This specific recipe is a bit hard to find online, so I would not be surprised if you have never heard of it until now. I believe it’s a regional food, one which was quite popular around here in the 80’s and my family made this often back when I was a kid. Although, hard as it is to admit, I considered this to be a “grown up” dessert and refused to touch it at the time. But now that my taste buds have matured, it’s easily one of my top 3 favourite desserts.

It’s a light (though definitely not in calories!) melt-in-your-mouth kind of dessert that makes for a perfect finish to a heavier meal.IMG_0705INGREDIENTS:
1 1/4 cups graham crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
3 Tbs. organic cane sugar, divided
1 full recipe pastry cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 can crushed pineapple, well drained

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a small bowl whisk together graham crumbs and 2 Tbs. of the sugar until well blended. Add melted butter and mix well. Remove approximately 1/4 of the crumb mixture and set aside for topping later. Press mixture into an 8 or 9″ pie pan (alternatively, you can make this in an 8-inch square pan) and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Spoon the pastry cream onto the crust and refrigerate. Using an electric mixer whip the heavy cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. sugar and vanilla extract. Continue to beat on high until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pineapple into the whipped cream* and spoon onto the pastry cream. Sprinkle the top with the reserved crumb topping. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Yields 8 slices (or 9 squares).

*For a layered effect, place the pineapple on top of the pastry cream then top with whipped cream.

What a delicious mess!

What a delicious mess!

Per 1/8 of a recipe.
Calories: 455
Fat: 16.2g
Saturated Fat: 8.5g
Cholesterol: 16.5mg
Sodium: 437.3mg
Carbs: 69.9g
Fibre: 3.1g
Sugar: 36g
Protein: 6.8g