Sunday, 29 September 2013

Easy Slow Cooker Roast Beef & Gravy

I am addicted to the fabulous taste of a great roast beef, especially the amazing flavour that comes from the ones that are grass fed. It reminds me of Sunday dinner as a child.

Easy Slow Cooker Roast Beef & Gravy

Beef Roast
1 can Condensed Mushroom Soup (Make your own!)
1 pkg Onion Soup Mix (Make your own!)
1/2 cup Beef Stock

Place roast in slow cooker. Combine mushroom soup, onion soup mix, and beef stock in a bowl. Mix well and pour over roast. Cook for up to 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low (depending on how well done you like your roast - we do 3 hrs on high). Take out the beef and cover with foil for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving. While the meat is resting, stir up the remaining gravy with a whisk and serve over sliced meat & Make-Ahead Herb & Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Perfect with a little dollop of horseradish!  

Simple & delicious meal. 

I'll be honest, it's not my usual scratch kind of meal, but it's easy and tasty and these days that's the most important thing! 


Friday, 27 September 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday

Happy 3rd Birthday Lady & Bug!

Lady & Bug turned 3 last week. I find throwing parties overwhelming - I'm happier to have a simple, low-key affair, so this year we decided to rent a local centre that had some pretty cool ride on toys and balls instead of having it at our house. I made a few snacks, the kids played, and the adults visited. 

Of course, what birthday would be complete without a birthday cake. I'm not much of a cake decorator but the rainbow cake with white butter cream icing was delicious. I wish I had got a shot of the inside, but alas, it was gone before I could find my camera! It was similar to this, but I just used a white cake mix & food colouring!

Of course, it was decorated as instructed by my 3 year olds with white yummy "sugar" and a pink & blue 3! 

Also as requested, Rainbow Shots of Gold.

And there's a little peek into Lady & Bug's 3rd birthday.


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Freezer Meals: Big Cook Fall 2013

This fall's big cook happened over a two day period due to my lovely new work schedule, so it was one day of chicken dishes and one day of beef dishes.

This Big Cook included the following dishes (top-bottom, Left-Right):

Chili (x2) 
Taco Soup (x2)
Roast Chicken (x3) (just chicken, onions, potatoes & carrots for the crockpot)

There...24 meals and my little freezer is full, more than enough to keep us fed for several weeks. Time to start emptying it because we have a side of beef coming in a month!!! Hope you find a little inspiration to fill your freezer and make the craziness of your life just a little easier.

For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Mexitalian Chicken Pasta

Sometimes you need a tasty super easy meal...

Mexitalian Chicken Pasta

1 lb chicken, diced or cut into small pieces
1 cup pre-made Alfredo Sauce
1 cup Salsa
3 cups Cooked Pasta
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded 

Slow cooker directions: add chicken, alfredo sauce and salsa. Stir and cook for 3 hours on high. Add cooked pasta, stir well, and continue cooking for another 1/2 hour until all the sauce has been absorbed. Add cheese and cook until melted (about 10 minutes). Stir in melted cheese and serve.

Oven directions: combine chicken, sauces and pasta in an oven proof dish. Bake for 30 minutes (or until chicken is cooked). Top with cheese and bake another 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with your favourite salad and delicious garlic bread for an easy meal that even kids can make!

This meal can be frozen to make it even easier!

For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Vietnamese Beef & Noodles

All I can say is mouth is watering just thinking about eating this again! Just in case you didn't already know, I'm a HUGE fan of Vietnamese food and next to Salad Rolls, this is my favourite! Once again, a dish I learned in Vietnam at a little cooking school in Hoi An.

Vietnamese Beef & Noodles

1 pkg (about 4 cups) Rice Noodles, cooked 
1 Onion, thinly sliced
1 lb Beef Tenderloin, cut in 1/2-3/4 in pieces
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
6 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Tbsp Oil (canola or peanut is good)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Green Onions and Peanuts for garnish (optional)

In a saute pan, cook onion until it starts to caramelize. Set aside. Cook beef to your taste (I like it a little pink). While beef is cooking combine soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and garlic. Once cooked, add onions and sauce to beef. Cook for about 2 minutes. Serve over cooked rice noodles and garnish as desired with green onions and peanuts.

Great with a little peanut sauce on the side to dip the beef in!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Peanut Sauce

Take your Vietnamese Salad Rolls to the next level with this amazing Peanut Sauce.

Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup Cold Water
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1/2 cup Peanut Butter
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp White Vinegar
2 tsp Sesame Oil
1 cup Water
chopped peanuts and mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Dissolve cornstarch in cold water. In a sauce pan, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer until everything is dissolved. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until smooth and thick. Let cool and use as dipping sauce for Vietnamese Salad Rolls, chicken or beef satay, or anything you can think of that would taste great with a little extra peanut flavour. 

So Good!


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Vietnamese Shrimp Salad Rolls

One of my favourite parts about travelling is discovering new food and learning to make them at home. Years ago I discovered Vietnam and Vietnamese food and fell hopelessly in love. My absolute favourite is Salad Rolls (or fresh spring rolls). I can't say that I make pretty salad rolls, no matter how hard I try they never look like the ones in the restaurant, but they are amazing, so I don't really care how nice they look! It's so nice to just make my own when I'm hungry for one (which is all the time!). They are surprisingly easy to make and are the perfect snack. Make a batch of peanut sauce for dipping to make them even better!

Vietnamese Shrimp Salad Rolls

Rice Paper
Large Shrimp, cooked, peeled and cut in half 
Mint Leaves
Cucumber, julienned or long thin slices
Carrots, julienned or long thin slices
Rice Noodles, cooked and cooled

Wet rice paper according to package directions. Lay the two sides of the shrimp in the middle of the rice paper, place 2 mint leaves on the paper beside the shrimp. Add a few cucumber and carrot slices and top with a small handful of rice noodles. Fold the top part of the wrap over and then the sides in and roll tightly.

Great healthy snack and you can serve these to your friends & family with gluten issues!


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Tex Mex Seasoning

I go through so much taco/tex mex seasoning that I've started making my own...not only is it cheaper, I can also control what's in it! I buy all of my spices in bulk or in large bags (asian or indian markets often carry them), mix all the ingredients up in a bowl or large measuring cup, and just refill the large taco seasoning container that I originally bought. 

I will give you the recipe for a small batch (because not everyone is as crazy about tex mex seasoning as we are!), but I usually triple or quadruple this recipe to fill my container.

Tex Mex Seasoning

1/2 cup Chili Powder
1/4 cup Onion Powder
1/8 cup Garlic Powder
1/8 cup Cumin Powder
2 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Fine Ground Sea Salt
1 tsp Cayanne Pepper (or more...optional)

Use as desired to flavour Mexican or Southwestern meals.

1/4 cup replaces your package of taco/chili seasoning.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Southwestern Spaghetti

My family LOVES southwestern/mexican food, so I try hard to make something every week. Here is a super quick meal that freezes nicely too!

Southwestern Spaghetti

500g Spaghetti (enough for 6 people)
2 cups Frozen Corn
1 lb Ground Beef
1 Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 jar (26 oz) Spaghetti Sauce
2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
optional toppings: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, olives, more cheese, or cilantro

Add spaghetti and corn to a large pot of boiling water. Cook for 8-10 minutes until pasta is done. Drain. Meanwhile in a pan, brown ground beef. Add onions and garlic and cook until transparent. Add spaghetti sauce and heat through. 

Pour cooked spaghetti & corn in a baking dish and add meat sauce and cheese. Mix well. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes until bubbly. Top whole dish with optional toppings or serve on the side.

Quick easy meal that tastes amazing - the perfect blend of Italian and Mexican. I make lots to save for lunches during the week.

For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Cordon Bleu Bake

It's September and even though it's still close to 30 degrees I'm craving hearty warming meals. Today was my first day at my new job, so I only had a bit of time and threw together bits of my favourite meals and made it into a casserole. It was delicious!

Cordon Bleu Bake

3 cups Chicken, cooked & cubed
2 cups Swiss Cheese, shredded
2 cups Ham, cooked & cubed
1/2 cup Butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Dry Mustard Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Pepper
1/2 cup Flour
2 cups Milk
1/2 cup White Wine
1 package (120g) Chicken Stuffing Mix
1/4 cup Butter, melted
1/2 cup Swiss Cheese, shredded

In a greased baking dish, spread cubed chicken in an even layer. Top with shredded cheese, then top with cubed ham. 
In a saucepan, melt butter. Add onion and cook until transparent. Add garlic and seasonings and cook for 30 seconds. Add flour, stir and let cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk and wine and stir until sauce thickens. 
Pour over ham. In a separate bowl, combine stuffing mix, melted butter and swiss cheese. Spread evenly over sauce mixture.

Bake in a 350F oven for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and topping browns. 

Great make-ahead or freezer meal.

Wishing it were at least 10 degrees cooler so I could really enjoy this wonderful dish...

For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.


Monday, 2 September 2013

Goodbye Summer

I'M BACK....

Nope, I didn't disappear, I just went to North Korea :) Seriously! Why doesn't anyone believe me when I say that?? It was an amazing time and I learned so much about a culture and people that I knew almost nothing about before I went there. I'll post the link to my travel blog when I get around to posting it!

It's been a month since my last post and the Ladybug family has been vacationing hard. All that camping and travelling left me exhausted and lacking inspiration or motivation to cook or even get off the couch.

The Jetlag has finally subsided and somehow through the haze I managed to add Barista to my job title in the process, so hopefully I can still find time to do all of this!

So here's a little about the Ladybug household's summer...

Camping & hiking at Bridal Falls, BC

Potty Training...still in process...the longest process ever!!!

Learning to ride balance bikes

Crafts with cousins while camping at Lac le Jeune, BC

Forest fire sunset while camping in Oliver, BC

Daddy Ladybug & I went to North Korea

And saw lots of these!

Now we're all home and ready for the chaotic & carefully scheduled life that is the rest of the year!

Goodbye summer, hello September...