OAMC Review – Beef Noodle Bake

With baby due to arrive almost any day now, I’m started testing out some of my freezer meals pre-freezer to see if they are worth a weekend of cooking. My first trial was this:

Beef Noodle Bake

from Food.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My take:

I pretty much stayed true to the original recipe. The only change I made was that I used yolk-free egg noodles to cut down on fat content.

Review:

Both Pat and I found this recipe to be extremely bland. I think it could definitely benefit from some more interesting spicing, perhaps a pasta sauce instead of plain tomato sauce (I’ve been adding red pepper sauce to spice things up a bit). Also,  I think the cheese choices need some pep. I don’t think the cottage cheese is enough. Perhaps ricotta to add more creaminess? A sharper cheddar on top? SOMETHING.

Otherwise, I could see this being an easy addition to the supper rotation. It has all the ease of our family baked pastas that we love so much, without any Cream of Whatever soups. I also enjoy that the bake time is so short, which is handy for these OAMC style meals.

Another Monday

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

Mine was a strange blend of absolutely crazy busy and mind-numbingly relaxing. Friday, Pat was home sick and I went downtown for my regular waxing appointment (PS, I totally noticed a difference in not taking some Tylenol before the appointment. Ow). Afterwards, I hung out at bridgehead and had my 2nd favourite iced chai in the world (only topped by the one I had in New Orleans).

This? This is heaven.

I then met up with Pat’s Work Wife, Ali, and one of their co-workers, Young Pat. We had a quick lunch together and then I left them to finish off their work day. In the evening, Pat and I had to do some running around for the estate. Saturday we did major weeding of our backyard and a quick mowing. In the evening, I tried out a new recipe that I’ve been eyeing for a while (yet another find on pinterest). I am a big fan of cauliflower and would eat it in everything. Absolutely everything. My husband? Not so much. He was really unsure about this dish.

Roasted Cauliflower (in a tomato sauce)

I’m not up for stealing a recipe from one blog to another, so I’ll just tell you about basics of the recipe:

While you roast your cauliflower in the oven (BTW, I totally felt that one head of cauli wasn’t enough. Get a giant head, or double the recipe. Seriously. Or, you know, keep this thing as a sidedish rather than your whole meal), fry up an onion in some olive oil. I used 6 shallots or so instead of the onion, as that’s what I had on hand.

Once the onions/shallots start to change colour and get soft, add about half a big can of diced or chopped tomatoes, juice and all (or one small can, as per the recipe). Add your tsps of sugar, a dash of salt and your fancy vinegars. I used balsamic vinegar, regular white vinegar and some white wine that was on its way out (about a week since uncorking). Don’t judge, it’s better than wasting, right? Reduce all of this stuff down and then purée.

Cook some garlic in some olive oil, add your tomato deliciousness and let it reduce down to a thick goopy sauce. Add some chili powder for spice. Once it’s nice and sticky, add the roasted cauliflower. Coat well, serve, NOM.

So, Pat wasn’t sure about this. I knew I’d like it, but I wasn’t sure about love. Verdict? I LOVED it. Aside from cauliflower soup and au gratin, this is my new favourite cauli meal. I would eat this ALL THE TIME. Pat’s opinion? For cauliflower, it was ok. The sauce would be awesome on pasta. Or, you know, something else that didn’t suck.

After dinner, a bunch of Estate stuff came up which kept me busy long into the night. Sunday morning we SLEPT IN. It was glorious. I felt awesome. Afterwards, I mowed the front lawn while Pat started work on my car. You remember my car, right? We bought it last year.   About a month or two after we bought it, we started to notice it had some issues. Last November, it almost completely died.  It stranded us at a pet store far from home. Basically, that model and year of car is known for transmission issues (which we didn’t learn until the issues started for us, about a week after our one month warranty ended). A friend of ours, a Subaru fanatic, thinks that we might be able to fix the issue with a transmission fluid additive, which will help all of the seals. I’m not convinced this will fix the issue, but it’s worth a shot. I haven’t been able to drive in about 7 months, and have been reliant on Pat and his car to get around (it’s standard, which I don’t drive. Have no desire to learn. Long story, but it’s too stressful for me to take on right now).

Pat under the car

My reaction to this whole thing

Pat, out from under.

Will it work? Who knows. We’ll have to wait and see. This week doesn’t hold any set plans, so we’ll see what we end up doing. Happy Monday everyone!

A great weekend, a good recipe and a bad start to the week

Not quite the good, the bad, the ugly, but it’s true.

Pat and I are back from an amazingly wonderful weekend away. It was exactly what we needed and I wish I was still there, hiding on a private island, surrounded by the most beautiful lake and trees and chirping chipmunks. Sigh. But first, lets back it up.

Thursday night I was at home, bored and broiling. Pat was at another double karate class night, so I was by myself and roasting in our A/Cless house. I was bored of all the food we’ve been eating, so I decided to throw together this recipe that I came across on pinterest (PS, is it really spelt Brussels Sprouts? I have been spelling it brussel sprouts my whole life. Hrm).

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

Bacon, all set to go

I mean, it’s a pasta recipe, from Martha Stewart with bacon. How could I resist?

Shallots and garlic, sizzling away with some bacon grease

When I saw Shallots, Garlic and chicken stock, I knew it was meant to be. I had all of these sitting around, wanting to be used.

Brussels Sprouts. I love these little things. I know they are hated by many, but I love these thing bitty bundles of green awesome

The only difference in my take of this recipe is my use of frozen brussel sprouts. I nuked them for half the time the bag suggested -just enough to defrost them-, and then followed the recipe the rest of the way.

All together now

The verdict? Pretty good. I would definitely like to try this with fresh veggies and see if it ends up being more flavourful. I think some tomato might be what’s missing. Pat liked it too, but requests more cheese. Then again, this mind works like this: Brussels Sprouts = CHEESY GOODNESS with a bit of green healthy stuff. Overall, a good meal. Definitely would make it again. It’s just missing….something. Must investigate further.

So, Friday morning Pat and I got up, got packed and made our way out to the country. Sharbot Lake it about an hour and a half away from where we live in the west end of Ottawa. It was a beautiful drive on a really warm and sunny day. We arrived right on time, and met up with our girl, Ali, who picked us up in her boat and took us to her family’s PRIVATE FREAKING ISLAND.  Yep, it was amazing. We spent the next couple of days getting to know Ali’s friends, eating lots of food (specifically lots of bacon), spending lots of time outside and even more time in the incredible lake. I even went skinny dipping for the very first time (with the girls, as the boys played poker. We returned to discover that we had been bet and lost as “prizes”. Pat lost me, but gained two of the girls. I was won by the very lucky Justin, who declared me to be an elven queen, thus more valuable than the two humans that Pat won. Confused? Yep. Me too. And flattered, so I’ll take it.)

Some pictures from the weekend:

Pat and I, about to board the boat to AWESOME ISLAND

Pat and I swimming!

Me in my little reading nook

Breakfast bacon, about to be cooked.

Yeah. Amazing.

We hated to leave, but leave we had to. Sunday afternoon we had one last swim, packed our stuff into the boat and then began our journey home. We made it home in time to quickly shower and change before meeting up with S&K for our evening of HARREH POTTAH!

Yeah, it was great. I laughed, I cried. I crushed Pat’s arm. We loved it. They definitely had their work cut out for them to condense a massive book into these two relatively short movies. Things got cut and changed, but I think they did a good job of getting the main ideas across (though Pat was confused by a couple of things that weren’t properly explained by the movies. ie: Tonks has a baby and a husband? Is Snape Harry’s father? WTF?)

After the movie, we decided to catch a quick dinner (S & K are about to have their second child, so it’s the last time in a while that they get to be out with friends so we took every excuse to stay out and have fun) only to be hit by OMGWINDS and the craziest storm Ottawa has seen in a while. We were fine, though soaked, by the time we were headed home at the end of the night.

Yesterday was pretty standard at work, but today has been hell. There’s been major issues with the estate (long story short: Estate taxes never got paid. I am very angry with Canada Post), I’m swamped at work, not feeling great and the husband is home sick.  Hopefully the week improves, because I was ready to snap today. I just have to go back to thinking about the weekend and hopefully that’ll calm me down.

On that note, the day is over! I’m outta here!

Happy Birthday to me!

It has been an incredibly busy weekend chez Heather. This weekend I turned 28, and despite plans to take it easy, ended up having a three day birthday extravaganza!

Friday, my co-workers showered me with song, praise and gifts, which prepped me for the beginning of the weekend. That evening, Pat and I cleaned and got the “real world stuff” done before I could be swept up into the festivities.

Saturday, I woke up early so as to attend that last of Charles de Lint’s annual book and yard sales. We ended up snagging a soft guitar case and a whole wack of books. (A wack, btw, is more than several, but less than a ton). Had a great time wandering other near by sales too, and just barely managed to drag ourselves away in time for me to meet up with S at my place. She and I ran off to pick up ze travelling L at the train station. We then had an amazing day of shopping, eating (namely at my favourite pub, Patty’s), catching up and movie watching (Bridesmaids. Go see it. Right now). We got L back to her hotel, hung out for a bit and then went home.

Sunday I woke up to my lovely husband making me breakfast <3 <3 This was followed by a trip to the movie theater to see X-Men First Class (liked it a lot) and then back downtown to pick up L for dinner at Jean Albert’s (which was AMAZING). We then went on a hunt for wine, but ended up back at L’s hotel room empty handed until Isaac arrived with a bottle of red to save the day! We hung out for a while until it was late, and then the boys fled and me and L started our sleepover.

Today has been mainly errands and catching up on housework and my journal entries. Overall, one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. I feel so blessed to have these amazing people in my life! <3  And now, because this has mainly been a “Woo, my birthday was awesome!” kind of post, here are my journal entries to spice things up:

Journal Prompt 7:  Write a love letter to someone special!  This letter can be to anyone.  Share your love with someone today and let them know that you care :

This was written to a dear family friend, Mila. She was our live-in Nanny from the time that I was about 3 months old until I was about 8. She is family to me, and one of the people that I hold most dear.

Journal Prompt 8:  Time Capsule!  If you were to make a time capsule today, that wouldn’t be opened for at least another 100 years, what would you put in it??  You can be as outlandish with this as you want because it’s pretend.  What are some things that make you, you!

Journal Prompt 9:  Completely fill your page with something random.  Leave your pen in your desk today and find beauty in the every day random things around you.  

This to be completed! I want to do this one at work!

Journal Prompt 10:  Illustrate your all time favorite song :)  

Journal Prompt 11:  What is your heart full of?  What are the things that are consuming your heart these days.  This could be things that are hurting your heart, breaking your heart, or making your heart so full of love.

Journal Prompt 12:  Completely fill your page with line design!  Line design and geometrics have complete consumed my inspiration boards for awhile now.  The simple, yet complex designs are so aesthetically pleasing for me.  Have fun trying out line design, patterns, and geometric shapes on your page today.

Journal Prompt 13:  Create a simple family tree.  Do this in a way that works best for you.  You can write names, doodle portraits, place actual photos, whatever!! It’s up to you :)  Use this prompt to document your family; as small or as large as it may be!!

Spring Haze

I know we’re not quite there yet, but these small windows of warm and sun have been incredibly healing for me. They whisper of warm days, grass and flowers. I need that little bit of hope right now.

Yesterday, my dear friend Isaac was in town visiting family and was able to spare a few hours to hang out. We drove around town for a while before ending up at a restaurant on Somerset, in the heart of China Town.

Delicious lunch!

I had dim sum for the first time and LOVED it. I fell in love with sticky rice and actually mustered up the courage to try spicy fried octopus. The shrimp dumplings and spring rolls were AMAZING too. Green tea, conversation and tasty food was a huge comfort to me. We caught each other up on our lives and relaxed in each other’s company. There’s something so soothing about being around someone who knows you so well.

Isaac at lunch :D

After a couple of hours of talking and eating, he brought me back home. Since then, I’ve watched a super cute movie (Despicable Me, which both Pat and I loved), did a bunch of cleaning and am working on laundry as I type. The mild weather has completely pulled me out of my funk and inspired me to be productive.  I actually had all the windows open at one point today, letting in the sweet cool air.  I’m hoping to maybe work on some art today if I can hold on to my inspiration.

Oh! Speaking of which, Pat thinks I thought make the Gretel hat with Magic Mirror Mittens. Interesting! Still not sure what I’m leaning towards.

We were going to head over to Our Other Home today for a family dinner, but it looks like the ladies of the house are all fighting off colds, so instead it’s a quite day in. I think we’ll do some grocery shopping and I may make a little something for the family gathering we have tomorrow.

In Ontario, we have a strange stat holiday that was introduced a couple of years ago, called Family Day. Monday we are all off work (though employers can choose to not observe family day in exchange for having a day off in August instead) so we’re getting together with Pat’s family for food and hang outs. I’m thinking I may do a homemade mac and cheese as a side to the burgers and such that we’re going to have. I haven’t made it in a while, and it would be much healthier for me to make it when it is to be shared between seven people. I feel blessed to have been able to see Isaac this weekend and then a whole day to spend with my in-laws. It’s time I really needed with really lovely people.

And now, I’m off to continue with my productivity. Enjoy the weekend :)

A brief catchup

Sorry for the delay folks. It’s been a busy week! Today I’m off on a bit of an adventure and will be back on Monday. So, in the mean time, lets get you caught up!

Firstly, I don’t have any amazing pictures of How To Make Taiwanese Dumplings, because I ended up being hours late to the Dumpling Making Fest. I was very sad, but what can you do? Sometimes life just wants you to eat, not make.  So, here’s what we enjoyed:

Doesn’t that look amazing? Trust me, it was.  Luckily, Alice taught two of our friends, so I should be able to get them to show me some time. Yum! And isn’t it better to eat than cook sometimes? I think this is one of those times.

I’ve started knitting again lately, which is great. Hopefully, it’s a step in the right direction and I’ll find myself motivated to pick up the hook. I’m not sure what it is that has me completely uninterested right now, but I hope it goes away so that I can learn to crochet! I’ve been working on this cardigan for the last three years:

Mrs. Darcy

All I have left to do are the sleeves, so I finally picked it up and started to work. I was in the middle of the sleeve cap decreases when I realized that my pattern abruptly stopped. You see, I’ve been working off of the same pattern this whole time. All I have left is one badly damaged piece of paper, and it became quickly apparent that I was missing a whole page.

Ugh! So, I went hunting…and it turns out the designer has taken down the pattern as it’s about to be published in a book. I asked around and no one had it or they weren’t up to sharing. I was unimpressed. Luckily, there was a whole thread dedicated to this issue on Ravelry and I learned of a great webpage: Archive.org  Basically, this page captures websites over the years on their Way Back Machine. I found an old captured copy of the pattern on there, and was able to print it off. WOO! My cardi is saved! So, I finished the one sleeve and hope to get through most of the next this weekend.

Meanwhile, I made an excellent discovery going through some clothes that I took from Mum’s collection after the passed. I thought it was an apron, but it turns out it’s a cute wrap dress!

Pretty! Perfect for hot summer days

Ugh. Excuse my expression here.

Perfect length and it has POCKETS!

It wraps at the back

Go Mum! I never ever saw her wear this, and it was tucked away in a pile to go to charity when I saved it for myself. Can’t wait for the next hot day to wear it out!

Well, on that note, I have some stuff to do around the house before my weekend gets underway. Have a good one! I’ll be celebrating Lammas on Sunday, so I’ll be sure to share my rit with you then :)