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More like, life took a huge turn but things have finally settled! What’s been going on with the old oven lately? I don’t know, but I hope the new people are treating it as well as I did (or perhaps, better – as in cleaning it more often). Yep…life just got a little crazy and probably the biggest part was moving (back home!). Jobs lost, jobs found, jobs changing. Packing, more packing, unpacking, organizing. Looking to buy a house, not buying a house. Too many hours worked, not enough hours worked. It’s been all over the place. All the craziness finally settled and the RT and I took a Hawaiian vacation. I want to go again! It was amazing. And we came back engaged! It was perfect.

So now, as the wildest, weirdest, fastest, craziest spring/summer ever is coming to a close (can it pleeeaaaaase be fall yet?) I’ve been able to catch my breath, relax a bit, and get back to cooking and baking more regularly. And let me tell YOU, wait until you see my new fancy oven! I don’t think it hates me, but I think that’s because it’s smarter than me. It does everything but talk. Instead of the jarring “BRRZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT” of my last oven, this one goes “ting tong 🙂 ting tong 🙂 ting tong :)” when my cookies are done. It also knows how to clean itself. It’s properly vented (through the microwave!), it has a glass cooktop, and 44 buttons, most of which I haven’t used. It’s also brand new and still (mostly) shiny.

What I’m trying to get at here, is that we moved into a brand new condo and all the appliances are state of the art and I don’t understand half of what they do. However, I have much more (granite!!) counter space, so cooking is a little nicer in the new place.

I’ve tried a few new things – some of which were good, some were pretty much failures (yes, I failed at buttercream frosting. I thought that was a relatively simple thing to make?!). My latest project is a new cast iron skillet that I bought to replace my old frying pan, once I found bits of Teflon peeling off into my stir fry. Anyway, this skillet weighs probably about 15 pounds and is pretty intimidating. I think I’ve screwed up with it a couple times so now I’m off to “season it” again, whatever that means. How did people survive before Google?

Much more to come. It’s good to be back!

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Well this is embarrassing. I was so sure I knew where I put the recipe for these cookies! No dice. I can’t find it!! I know it’s around here somewhere, so I’ll keep looking and edit the post later once I find it.

Snickerdoodles are one of my favourite cookies, and these ones turned out great. They’re extremely light, very fluffy and just a bit crumbly. The chocolate is nice too – it’s not overpowering. The cookies still taste like a familiar snickerdoodle, but with a hint of cocoa. Besides, I’ll take chocolate in anything!

start with butter and sugar

start with butter and sugar

I doubled (or maybe even tripled, can’t remember) this recipe when I made it, so just keep that in mind for pictures. Beat together the butter and sugar…

add eggs & vanilla

add eggs & vanilla

Beat that together, and then you can start mixing your dry ingredients.

mix the dry

mix the dry

Am I the only one who sometimes mixes dry things with a whisk? Haha…I probably am. Sometimes I think it works better, sometimes I just haven’t done the dishes and the whisk is all I have left!

add the dry to wet

add the dry to wet

Add the two together and start mixing! It’s times like these I wish I had a standing mixer. I know, I know…just wait until I try bread…I know!

mmm...

mmm...

I could just eat it now, thanks.

sugar and cinnamon, goes well on anything!

sugar and cinnamon, goes well on anything!

Better to bake it though! Throw some cinnamon and sugar together to roll the cookies in. Let me just say I love cinnamon and sugar (especially on crepes with butter!).

the first one (in the corner) never looks good!

the first one (in the corner) never looks good!

After what seems like forever (I’m starting to think I must have tripled the recipe!), we’ve finally rolled our first batch. And in typical form, I’ve crowded the cookies too close together.

that's a lot of cookies

that's a lot of cookies

See what I mean? Luckily none of them suffered any serious damage.

and we're done!

and we're done!

(I promise, I’ll look for the recipe tonight and post it as soon as I find it!)

I love pot pies (beef or chicken), but I’m really not a fan of heavy pastry with dinner. Whenever we have pot pies I usually scoop out the insides and leave the crust…talk about wasteful! So this recipe over at The Crepes Of Wrath has my name written all over it. It’s a chicken pot pie without the pie! I had a ton of frozen chicken pieces in the freezer waiting to be used up, so it was the perfect opportunity to give this one a try.

all systems go!

all systems go!

It’s not often that I cook using all four elements at once. This recipe will keep you busy 😉

plenty of chicken

plenty of chicken

I had a lot of chicken to use up, so I just went for it and cooked it all – it turned out fine, lots of chicken in each serving!

a lot of shredding to be done

a lot of shredding to be done

It might take awhile, but it’s definitely worth it. Plus you’ll get a ton out of this recipe, so there’s plenty to share (I passed a few bowls to my grandparents) or use for workday lunches (I had enough to do this too!).

looks a little weird at first!

looks a little weird at first!

It all looks good after the milk is added though! Make sure you have plenty on hand – you’ll be using 4 cups or so for this. I used 1%, it worked well.

just about done

just about done

Then just add the vegetables and chicken. Told you it made a lot! I should mention – the recipe calls for peas, which I forgot to grab at the store, so I increased the corn and carrots a little (and I already had extra chicken anyway). Next time though, I’ll definitely add peas – it did seem like it was missing something. I also think it could have used some extra seasoning…not sure what, but I’ll play around with it when I make this again.

finished!

finished!

I baked some quick rolls for the side, they were pretty good. You could do a salad or something as well, but there’s a good amount of vegetables in it already.

Check the link at the top for the recipe!

Orange Beef Stir Fry

I love making stir fries. They’re usually easy and are good way to eat up lots of vegetables (since they never turn out mushy and tasteless!). This one with orange and broccoli looks good and tastes better – not to mention it’s done in less than 30 minutes!

mmm mandarin orange

mmm mandarin orange

Check out how good those oranges look! I made this back when mandarin oranges were still available, and they were so sweet – perfect in the ginger sauce. I’m always sad when they disappear from the grocery store 😦

making sauce

making sauce

The sauce is easy, mix up some orange juice, soy sauce, honey, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, and orange zest!

frying beef

frying beef

Get the meat going after you’ve made the sauce.

now for some broccoli

now for some broccoli

Set the meat aside and start on the broccoli and onion. Like I said, this meal comes together very quickly!

adding the orange

adding the orange

Throw the meat back in and add the oranges – one more step and it’s done!

heat and stir for a couple minutes

heat and stir for a couple minutes

Heat the sauce to boiling and let it thicken a bit, and that’s it!

served with egg noodle

served with egg noodle

I like to make this with my favourite egg noodles on the side, but it would go well with rice too.

Here’s the recipe!

1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp liquid honey
2 tsp cornstarch
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp finely grated peeled gingerroot (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
3 tsp cooking oil
1 lb or 450g beef top sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
1 1/2 cups broccoli pieces
6 green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 medium oranges, peeled, segmented and chopped

Rice or noodles for the side

1. Combine the orange juice, soy sauce, honey, cornstarc, garlic, orange zest and ginger in a small bowl. Set aside. If you’re making rice, start it cooking now (about 20 minutes to being done)

2. Heat a frying pan on medium-high, then add 2 tsp of cooking oil. Add beef and stir fry until desired doneness. Transfer beef aside to a plate and keep warm and covered. If you’re making noodles, start it cooking now (about 10-15 minutes to being done)

3. Heat 1 tsp of cooking oil in the same pan. Add broccoli and onion and stir fry until broccoli turns bright green.

4. Return beef to pan and add orange. Stir the sauce, and add to pan. Heat and stir until sauce is boiling and thickened.

(PS – this recipe comes from Company’s Coming – 30 Minute Meals. I’m getting some great dinners out of this book!)

This pasta is ultra-rich and so so good…not to mention super fast and easy. Throw a green salad on the side and you’re done.

start with bacon - it will always turn out tasty

start with bacon - it will always turn out tasty

Start the bacon frying and if you like, you can get the spaghettini boiling at the same time. For some reason it takes me a long time to cook bacon…I might be doing it wrong, haha.

cream and egg yolk - don't worry, you can just skip dessert

cream and egg yolk - don't worry, you can just skip dessert

In the meantime, start the sauce…

starting to look good

starting to look good

Before you drain the noodles, reserve 1/2 cup of the water. Add some spices to the bacon, then the noodles – and it’s almost done already.

toss a few times and it's done!

toss a few times and it's done!

You should get about six servings of this…spaghettini goes a long way. It’s good if you’re having friends over, but I think it’s even better if you get leftovers for lunch the next day 😉

done and done!

done and done!

Want the recipe? You definitely want to try this!

12 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
12 oz/340 g spaghettini
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp olive oil
4-6 bacon slices, diced
(or you could substitute with your favourite meat or sausage easily)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Boil water and salt in a large pot. Add pasta and boil uncovered, stirring occasionally until desired tenderness (about 9 minutes). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot and keep warm.

2. While pasta is boiling, heat oil in large frying pan on medium. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Meanwhile, whisk cream and egg yolks in a small bowl until combined. Set that aside.

3. Add garlic, ground nutmeg, and pepper to bacon. Heat and stir for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add pasta, toss to coat. Add reserved cooking water to cream mixture. Stir, then add to frying pan. Toss to coat.

4. Add feta and parmesan, toss, and serve immediately. Goes well with a little extra pepper on top!

So much for being back in a couple days! Thanks for everyone’s comments wondering where I was 🙂 I made it out of the kitchen in one piece, but then I pretty much ran off on holidays. Then I came back in the new year, and promptly got sick. Figures!

Anyway, it was a pretty busy week before Christmas, for sure. I got all the baking done and everything turned out well. My final tins (8 in all) had cranberry-white chocolate oatmeal cookies, truffles, jam thumbprints, spiced nuts, chocolate snickerdoodles, and toffee squares with milk chocolate topping. I was originally going to decorate the tins myself but after my first attempt came out a TOTAL mess, I found some Christmas tins at the store and bought those. Whoops. I did wrap all the treats in ribbon though!

But enough about all of that – aren’t we all sick to death of Christmas baking? I know I am. I’m going to be focusing on good dinner recipes for the next little while – and I’m actually going to try using my slow cooker for once! Until then, what’s your absolute favourite dinner? You know, the one you’ve made so much it’s memorized, the one your friends and family are always asking for, the one that never leaves leftovers…this is your chance to share it here! Bonus points if it includes meat (gotta keep the Royal Taster happy) and pasta (that keeps me happy!)

PS – if you’re wondering what mine is, it is – without a doubt – beef and noodles!

No, really. Boy it’s hard to keep up with things around here right now. All my Christmas baking is catching up to me, and I’m still trying to make dinner every night (ok I admit, we had pizza last night)…not to mention the Royal Taster wanting more minestrone soup out of me. (did I mention how long that thing takes to make?) WHEW!

So I’m here. I’m surrounded by far too many cookies, tons of spiced nuts, and LOTS of chocolate. You should hear the Royal Taster whine about it too. I’m not letting him have any of it – I have cookie tins to fill!

I’ll be back with recipes and photos in just a couple days. Let me clean up the kitchen first!