Sunday, December 29, 2013


This year we decided to try something new for our evening Christmas dinner.  We went to one of the hotels which serves a a very popular and expensive buffet at Christmas.  I was amazed by the number of people waiting in line to get a table.  Reservations are a must and are made many weeks, if not months in advance. To get prime time reservations some people make their reservations during the summer, especially if it is a large group of people.  They are only so many seatings at specified times and I think the catering manager factors in about two plus hours per table.  It is also not an inexpensive proposition to eat at this hotel and unless you are a defensive linebacker for a football team, you could not eat the quantity to justify the price of the meal.  But the food was delicious and the service was very good.

It was a great place to people watch and I was struck by the number of two or three person tables.  In a number of cases, you could tell that the particular table included an adult child and their parent.  There were also several people eating on their own.  I also saw families of siblings eating together or groups of friends who wanted to have a traditional Christmas meal and wanted the ease of having someone else cook.  

Going out to a hotel or a restaurant for Christmas supper certainly takes the stress out of cooking and cleaning up and also the decision of what to make if you want to have a meal that includes some of the nostalgic food you had while growing up.

I am sure there are many stories to tell about why people eating at this hotel made the decision to eat out versus creating a meal at someone's home.  It may have made a funny Woody Allen movie as we all have stories to tell and in a movie you could create those side bar conversations that only a Woody Allen movie does so well.

Here is what I ate.  I decided to skip the salads as I was going to be selective in my choices and fill up on certain foods.  I didn't eat everything on my plate as sometimes a taste was enough.
First course: smoked fish, crust of a slice of bread, grilled vegetables, marinated vegetables and shrimp.

Main course: roast beef, wild rice, Brussels sprouts, one pierogi and vermicelli noodles.

Main course: roast beef, smoked salmon and mashed potatoes with sour cream.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Some stews that I make are more vegetable based than meat based while others have a few vegetables added but the focus is the meat.  This stew is a meat based stew.  You can add more vegetables than what is suggested in this recipe.  For example you could add celery, carrots and grated zucchini.

You can use a variety of cuts of meat and this recipe would be a chicken or a beef based stew.  In the freezer we had some thick boneless pork loin chops so I used these lean chops to make the stew.  I like adding peanut butter to recipes and I have posted several recipes that use peanut butter as one of the ingredients.  This stew is a good recipe and you can serve it with rice if desired.

I used an emile henry cast iron pot to make the stew.  A cast iron pot is great to have as it goes from stove to oven and it is great to use for sauteing and baking.  I also bake bread in a cast iron pot and I like the crunchiness of the crust that is created when it is baked in a cast iron pot.

Mushrooms, onions and garlic being sautéed.

Red pepper added to the pot.

All ingredients have been added and ready to cook in the oven.

Ready to serve.


1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves. thinly chopped
1 coloured pepper, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
handful of mushrooms, chopped
1.5 to 2 pounds of boneless, lean pork, cubed
1-2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp peanut butter
salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a cast iron pot on medium high.  Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and sauté for about five minutes.  Reduce heat to medium low if the onions and garlic are starting to brown.  Add the coloured pepper and cubed pork and continue to sauté for another three to five minutes.  Add the sesame oil and peanut butter and combine well.  Season if you want with salt and pepper.  Cover the pot with a lid and place the pot in the oven and bake for two hours at 325 degrees F.  Serves 4 to 5.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


In the coffee shops I patronize, morning glory muffins are a popular muffin sold along with coffee or a latte.  These muffins include apple, raisins, some nuts, sometimes coconut and cinnamon or other spices.  I modified the recipe I had to make it gluten free, used splenda instead of sugar and added apple sauce and coconut.  In my zealous in peeling and grating carrots, I had more than 2 cups which the recipe called for.  I added it anyways.  I also used one cup of apple sauce instead of 3/4 of a cup so I baked the muffins for longer than 20 minutes.  If you follow the quantities called for in the ingredients, the cooking time should be closer to 20 minutes.

2 cups ground almond meal
1 cup splenda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated carrots
1 apple - peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup raisins
2 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 - 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
1/3 cup shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.   Lightly oil 24 muffin cups, or coat with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, apple sauce, oil and vanilla.

In a large bowl, stir together flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in carrots, apples, coconut, walnuts and raisins. Stir in apple mixture until just moistened. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and spring back when lightly pressed.

Modified from

Saturday, December 7, 2013


I sometimes buy golden beets instead of red beets.  The golden beets have a bit of a milder taste and are easier to peel and cook as there are no beet stains.  I had bought a bag of golden beets at Costco over a month ago and I wanted to cook up the last remaining four beets.  Instead of using vinegar you could use maple syrup or brown sugar.  I would probably use less than two tablespoons of sugar.  The beets did glaze nicely and the DH and company enjoyed them as part of the supper meal.


4 golden beets
2 tbsp maple flavoured balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup apple juice
salt and pepper to taste


Clean the beets, quarter them and cook them in a covered dish in the microwave for ten minutes.  Drain, let cool, then peel them and slice into small pieces.  

On medium high heat, add the beets, vinegar and apple juice to a medium size frying pan.  Once the liquid starts to boil, reduce heat to low, stir occasionally and cook for ten minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. There should be minimal liquid left in the plan as the beets are starting to glaze.  Serves 4 to 5.

Monday, December 2, 2013


I have a few cookbooks by Dana Carpender.  She focuses on low carb recipes.  One of her cookbooks focuses on using a slow cooker.  In making this recipe, I used tomato soup instead of diced tomatoes and the cut of beef was around two pounds. I didn't reduce the volume of liquid.  The roast turned out wonderful and was enjoyed by all.


3 1/2 pounds beef roast such as a sirloin tip
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced or coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 cup beef broth
1 tsp beef bouillon
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 small can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Replace the can of diced tomatoes and cup of beef bouillon with a can of tomato soup, one can of water used to rinse out the can of tomato soup and 2 tsp beef bouillon.


In a heavy frying pan, sear the beef in the oil until browned all over.  Transfer the beef to the slow cooker. Scatter the onions and garlic around the beef.

In the frying pan, stir the broth, bouillon, vinegar and rosemary.  Pour the mixture over the beef.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the slow cooker, set to low and cook for eight hours.  When ready to serve, scoop the onions out with a slotted spoon and pile them around the roast.  Serves 8.

Adapted from 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes by Dana Carpender.