Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 7-Layer Dip

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Happy Halloween!

I'm a mom now, which, my friend Kristy told to me, means that I officially need to start making theme food on Halloween.  We were both invited to a Halloween get-together at our friend Jenn's house for the mamas and babies in our mama/baby group.  To Pinterest we went.  Kristy decided on carving two pumpkins into red and white wine dispensers, and I went with this spoooooky seven-layer dip.  I think it's safe to say that Kristy won Halloween.

It was total cuteness overload with ten babies under ten months old in Halloween costumes.  A scuba diver, a strawberry, a skunk, an elephant, Cookie Monster, Batman, an owl, a panda, and a couple of monkeys, including the Little Man (who has had to do about two costume changes a day for the past couple of days to fit in all of the cute costumes he has!  He's turning into a panda tonight).

The cutest little monkey in town
Plus - daytime wine!

This 7-Layer Dip is basically your regular old 7-layer dip recipe, but instead of sprinkling the tomatoes, cheese, olives, and green onions on top, you kind of sprinkle them only around the edge of the dish, leaving room to draw the spider web in the middle.  It was fun to make and delicious to eat.

Happy Halloween!

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Parsnip and Carrot Puree
Two Years Ago:  Easy Refried Bean Soup
Three Years Ago:  Kendra's Italian Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers
Four Years Ago:  Bacon Night!

Halloween 7-Layer Dip

  • 1 can (398 mL / 13.5 oz) refried beans
  • 1 3/4 cup sour cream, divided
  • 1 package (35 grams / 1.25 oz) taco seasoning
  • 2 - 3 medium avocados (or 4 small avocados)
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 plastic spiders!!!  
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips, for serving
In a large circular serving dish, spread refried beans.  In a small bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups of sour cream and taco seasoning, then spread on top of refried beans.  In a small bowl, mash the avocados with the salsa and lime juice until consistency is that of guacamole, then spread on top of sour cream mixture.  Sprinkle cheese around the outer rim of the serving dish in a circular pattern.  Repeat with tomatoes, olives, and green onions.  Pipe remaining 1/4 cup of sour cream on top of the guacamole mixture in the design of a spider web (I did this by drawing a straight line down the middle, then crossing three more lines through in a star shape, then drawing three circles to connect the lines.  I used a plastic sandwich bag with the corner cut off to help me pipe a clean line.).  Top with plastic spiders and serve with tortilla chips.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cheesy Carrot Casserole

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It would be nice to have some fancy blog with an amazing editorial department where blog posts about a fabulous side dish for Thanksgiving get posted prior to Thanksgiving rather than a few weeks later, but, this isn't that kind of blog!  And, it's almost American Thanksgiving, so I'm way ahead of the game there!  And, Christmas is around the corner!  And then Easter right after that, after which it's Thanksgiving again anyways.  And, it doesn't really need to be a special occasion to serve a carrot casserole anyways.

As promised, this has quickly become the carrot blog (refer to the last three posts including this one to see what I mean!), and here is another blog post about carrots coming at ya!  The recipe comes from the Taste of Home website, and it's a keeper.

I brought this to the Thanksgiving dinner on my side of the family, and it was a huge hit.  The casserole dish was literally scraped clean by the end of the dinner, because people were taking seconds and even thirds (ok, I was the only person who took thirds).  Doesn't it just feel so great when that happens?  I pre-made the casserole earlier in the day, and then we just reheated in the oven prior to dinner being served.  Little Man spent the weekend at his Nana and Grandpa's house (The Hubby's parents) while we went over the line to stay at their trailer in Washington with some friends before coming back for Thanksgiving dinner with his side of the family.  It was a much needed weekend away, but it was awesome to come back to two back-to-back family dinners and our first Thanksgiving with the Little Man.  What a wonderful year with so much to be thankful for!  Cheese definitely being one of those things...

Hope you enjoy this Cheesy Carrot Casserole!

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Carrot and Parsnip Puree
Two Years Ago:  Easy Refried Bean Soup
Three Years Ago:  Healthy Everything Cookies
Four Years Ago:  Braised Red Cabbage with Goat Cheese

Cheesy Carrot Casserole

Serves: 10 -12 side dishes

  • 8 cups sliced carrots
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 can condensed cream of celery soup (10.75 oz / 284 mL), undiluted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup seasoned croutons (use the ones that are small in size)

Grease a 13 x 9-inch casserole dish and pre-heat oven to 350F.

Place carrots in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil, then cook until tender-crisp.  Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter and cook onions until tender.  Stir in the soup, salt, pepper, and 1 cup cheddar cheese, and stir to combine.  Drain the carrots and stir into the onion mixture.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and croutons.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then drizzle over top.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.


Recipe Adapted From:  Taste of Home - Carrot Casserole

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Carrot-Coconut Soup

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Well, this has been a crazy year!

Crazy in a good way, crazy in an emotional way, crazy in a very, very happy way, crazy in a busy way, crazy in a crazy way, crazy in a good, good, way.

This little love-muffin entered our lives:

The Hubby isn't in favour of pictures of the family going up on the blog, so this may be the first and last photo you see of the little man (that's a lie - there's more at the end of this post), but that doesn't stop me from writing about him.  Which is good, because if I'm honest I want to talk about him non-stop!  We have wanted to start a family for so many years, and we are so fortunate to have had our dreams come true.  His laugh is infectious, his smile is perfect, he's curious, he's happy, he's smart, he's healthy, he's ridiculously cute (just look at that bum chin!), and he's all ours.  He will from here on out be referred to on the blog as Little Man.

And, oh the big plans I had for my time off on maternity leave.  I was going to try a new recipe every day!  I was going to blog at least a few times a week (and finally figure out how to take amazing food pictures with my DSLR camera)!  I was going to get back into running when the baby was six weeks old!  I was, after all, the girl who packed an adult colouring book and markers into her hospital bag for those 'calm down-times during labour.'  It of course stayed stowed in the bag along with a good novel and instructions on how to use my DSLR camera.  New moms just don't have time for new recipes and blogging (cook when the baby cooks!?  blog when the baby blogs?!).  And now he is nearly eight months old, and I can't believe how fast time has gone, and that I am down to just four precious months left in my maternity leave.  Long days, short years, they say.

The poor Hubby has not eaten very well (unless he was the one doing the cooking) in a long time.  I was very nauseous for the first six months of my pregnancy and didn't even want to think about preparing food.  "If we are eating tonight, it's either take-out or you are cooking," became a regular thing said to The Hubby, while I slowly nibbled saltines and took deep loud nausea-reducing breaths on the couch.  And during the last three months of the pregnancy I was too tired and achy, so no cooking happened then either.  So it's been at least a year+ that I hadn't made much of a presence in the kitchen...but, I'm back!

I don't have morning sickness, I'm not sleep deprived, and I have a 7.5 month old who takes long afternoon naps and isn't crawling/walking/trying to destroy the house yet, and so I have found a little bit of time for me again!  There's been stews, casseroles, salads, roasts, and lots of baby food too!  It feels good to be back in my kitchen, and now back on the blog as well.  And what a great time of year...fall is here, and it's time for my favourite food - that of the 'comfort' variety!

So, hello everyone!  I thought for my first entry since becoming a mother I would post something sort of appropriate, because The Hubby always refers to any pureed soup as 'Baby Food.'  Actually, the reason that I made this soup is because I bought a 10-pound bag of carrots from Costco (still the best store ever...going back today) to make actual baby food with, before realizing that about three carrots gives you a freezer full of pureed carrots, leaving me to wonder what to do with the other 9.75 pounds of carrots.

But this soup doesn't taste like any baby food that I know!  The carrots pureed with the coconut milk gives the soup a silky creamy texture, and the touch of Sriracha at the end gives a little hint of heat, and all of it combined is just dee-licious.  I made it once, and then had to make another triple batch the next day (at my friend Kristy's house where she also made a triple batch, for a total of a sextuple batch) because I needed more of this soup in my life (and because of the large supply of carrots still lurking in my fridge).  This left me with 5 pounds of carrots...which means that, if you put two and two together, you can guess where this blog is going over the next few posts - (not to dangle a carrot in front of you or anything - ha!).  This recipe is from the Epicurious website, which I have linked to below.  They never seem to disappoint.  The instructions below are for a double version of the original recipe.

..And this is weird, but I just noticed that my last post before this one was exactly a year ago to the day and also. about. carrots.

It's good to be back!  Thanks for reading...

OK...just one or two more pics!

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Plum Cake
Two Years Ago:  Slow Cooker Philippine Pork Stew
Three Years Ago:  Flourless Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake
Four Years Ago:  Goat Cheese Pesto Torte

Carrot-Coconut Soup

Serves: 6 - 8 servings

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 x 13.5 oz (400 ml) cans of light coconut milk (see Tip below)
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
  • Chopped cilantro (optional), for serving 
In in large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add carrots and onions, and sauté until soft, about 15 - 20 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add chicken broth, coconut milk, and Sriracha.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth.  Alternatively, transfer in batches to a blender then return to pot.  Serve topped with freshly chopped cilantro and additional Sriracha, if desired.  Enjoy!

Tip: When using coconut milk, make sure to buy the canned version often found in the Asian food section.  Don't use the carton version found in the refrigerated section that is more often used as a beverage, as it usually has water added to it.

Recipe Source:  Epicurious (Carrot-Coconut Soup)

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