Saturday, July 31, 2010

Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

Before I begin with my next recipe, if you come here looking for Lexie, she can either be found here or you can just scroll down past this post (but only after you take a minute to read my sauce ;-)  ).  Anyway, Spaghetti sauce.  I believe that everyone and their dog has their own different spaghetti sauce incarnation, and that is the beauty of a spaghetti sauce, because you can put whatever you want into it.  I would love to hear about your favourite way of preparing spaghetti.  Here is my Bolognese sauce that I like to prepare, and here is what you will be needing:

1 1/2 pounds of extra lean ground beef
796ml can of diced tomatoes
156ml can of tomato paste
2 shallots (or half large red onion) diced
3-4 gloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
3-4 carrots, coarsely chopped and steamed
Quart of button mushrooms (optional)
salt & pepper and your favourite herbs & spices.  I like to use
Lots of Oregano
Couple of pinches of sage
Few pinches of Thyme
Couple of pinches of Rosemary
Couple of shakes of crushed red peppers
Tiny pinch of Cayenne pepper
Tiny pinch of chipotle pepper
3 Bay leaves

Peel and cut up the carrots and steam them until they are tender.  Put them in a food processor or blender (I don't have a food processor, hence the blender, but if you have a food processor, use that instead) with a little of the diced tomatoes (to help liquify them) and blend until smooth.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat on medium with a generous splash of olive oil.  Saute the onions and garlic until the onion start to lose their colour.  Add the meat and cook until it is just brown, then add the tomato paste and the blended carrots from above.  Reduce the heat a little and cook the paste and carrots for about 7 or eight minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes and everything else at this point, including all of the herbs and spices.  Reduce the heat further, to low and cover.  Cook for as long as you can, as it will get better the longer that you can cook it, and stir occasionally.


-For a leaner meal, substitute ground chicken or turkey for the ground beef
-You can add meatballs to the sauce by combining:
       1/2 pound of ground beef
       2/3 cup of bread crumbs
       1 egg
       1/2 tsp garlic powder
       few shakes of crushed chili pepper
       Make into about half inch balls and parboil them in some water for a few minutes, then add to the
       completed sauce and simmer
-Steam different veggies like Broccoli or Cauliflower
-Add a splash of Red wine to the sauce, before you add the tomato paste.  Let it cook for a little minute to cook off some of the acohol.

So I think that is everything.  I does seem like a lot of stuff, but it is just constituents that most people, I think have in their kitchen.  If you don't have all the stuff, not to worry, it will still be great!

Until next time

Monday, July 26, 2010


The new addition, Lexie Eva Cameron, was born in the wee hours of July 25th, 1:21 to be exact.  The labour was super quick, and Sylvia got that baby out in about 7 minutes of pushing.  The first delivery nurse at the hospital was a little dense.  We came in, and Sylvia, never liking to show that she was in pain, was directed into a waiting room.  From there, the nurse left, gossiped with another nurse, went away some where.  In the mean time, Sylvia is getting in even more pain, and asked me to look for the nurse.  I could tell that something was up because when Sylvia says she is in pain, it means that she is really hurting.  So the nurse comes back, chats for another couple of minutes, goes into another waiting room, tidies up a bit, the decided to grace us with her presence.  When she checked Sylvia, Sylvia was fully dialated and her water broke.  The nurse tells me to run and grab another nurse, and in true E.R. fashion, Sylvia was rushed down to a delivery room and seven minutes, four pushes later, there was our newest little creation.  Perfection again! Mom and baby are doing great.

As for the vitals, Lexie was 3327grams, 50.5cm (7lbs, 5oz and 20 inches) long, with a full head of hair.

Here are a couple of pics:

-Andrew, Sylvia, Big Sister Olivia, and Lexie

P.S. I didn't proof read, for any English majors out there

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Philly Cheese Steak Recipe

Man, do I ever love cheese steaks.  I have never been to Philadelphia, so I can't really compare the ones that I make to the originals, but I would think that they can hold their own.  I love the combination of the warm steaks with onions and gooey melted cheese.  The thought just makes me hungry.  I tried out this way of making cheese steaks the other day, and all three and a half of us really enjoyed them.  For these cheese steaks, I had a big, left over barbequed Strip loin that I used, but in at the end, I will talk about cooking with a raw steak.  The important thing also is the choice of meat.  You have to use a good cut of meat like a strip loin because no one wants tough steak.  Here is what you will need.

1 large strip loin, trimmed of fat and cut really thin
3 strips of bacon, cut up into pieces
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 shallots or red onions, thinly cut
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
1 cup of beef broth
3 tbsp of heavy cream
shake of Worcestershire sauce
Sourdough bread
slices of real mozzarella (the nice stringy kind that you get in a ball), or Provolone

In a frying pan over medium heat, put in the cut up bacon and start frying that.  I used the bacon instead of olive oil to add to the flavours because, as we all know, bacon makes everything better.  When the bacon starts to cook, and some of the fat has melted off, add the garlic, shallots, and peppers.  Saute the veggies until the start to get soft.  Add the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce and reduce the heat.  Add pepper to taste.  Let the concoction reduce until there is about a third of the liquid remaining.  Add the meat and heavy cream.  Coat the meat with the sauce and reduce the heat.  Cut up the bread and put it on a cookie tray in the oven for a few minutes until is starts to toast a little.  Take it out and top with the meat and veggies and a generous amount of cheese, which is what puts this over the edge.  Throw the sandwiches back into the oven until the cheese start to melt and get all gooey.

Some Alternatives:

-You can make these without having the meat pre-cooked.  Again, I just (oddly) had a left over steak from a previous night.  To do this, after the veggies have started to cook, throw in the raw meat into the pan.  Because it is cut so thin, it will not take too long to cook, only a couple of minutes, just until it doesn't look raw anymore, but it can still be pink.  When you add the beef broth, the meat with continue to cook.  You don't want to over cook the strip loin, as it will get tougher, the longer it is cooking.

-Add whole peppercorns to the mixture for some added kick

-I like the open faced sandwich, but you can certainly make it on a submarine bun.  Just remember to toast it a little first, so it doesn't get soggy too quick


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Useful Tip of the Day - Spray n' Wash

So most everyone has heard of this product to effectively (for the most part) remove stains from clothes, but what about in other places?  Well, I find that Spray n' Wash (the kind in the picture below) is most useful in removing stains in carpets.  If you are one of the lucky few that doesn't have carpets in your dwelling, well, I am jealous and you can go and make one of the fine recipes found on this wonderful blog.  But, so the rest of you, Spray n' Wash is a fantastic solution to carpet staining problems.

I used this little bottle of joy today to remove a few old stains that were spotted on the carpet that I finally said "OK, I will try to clean them" after many weeks of looking at them and saying "I should really clean those up."  I used to use a product called Prosolve Pet Stain Remover because a)we have a pet and b)you would think that pets would produce the toughest stains.  This product worked OK.  You spray it onto the effected surface, wait 5 minutes, and dab off with a moist sponge or something.  Most of the time, it worked fine, but there were still some occasions that it did not remove all of the stain.  Enter the Spray n' Wash.  

In my quest for cleanliness, I decided to use some of the Spray n' Wash pictured above.  It has to be the Oxy stuff, as the other kind doesn't work as well.  I mixed about 4 parts water with 1 part of the Spray n' Wash in a little bowl and use a little scrubber brush to work into the carpet fibres, wait a few minutes and dab up.  Every stain came off of the carpet.  

So, why buy a specialty carpet stain remover when you can use something that you likely have in your house in the first place?


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Macaroni Salad

Summer time is a great time to go to barbeques and other social type functions. When we are invited to a barbeque where we are asked to bring something, we are usually asked to bring our Mac Salad.  We always like lots of stuff in our macaroni salad, so there are lots of flavours and colours in each bite.  So here is our way of making the salad:

About half of a bag (maybe a little more) of Scoobi-Do Noodles (that is what Italpasta calls them, but they are just like really swirly macaroni's) and you can use any noodles, really.
Salad dressing found here
3 heaping table spoons of mayonnaise
8 strips of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 can of tuna
2 chopped up, hard boiled eggs
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
1 shallot, finely chopped (or about half a red onion)
2/3 cup of chopped broccoli
2-3 dill pickles finely diced
1 cup of shredded marble cheese (or any other cheese you prefer)

Cook the noodles according to the package until tender.  While the noodles are cooking, prepare the veggies and the bacon.  In a large bowl, pour about 1/4-1/3 cup of the salad dressing and add the mayonnaise, whisk together (If, at the end, the salad seems a little dry, you can always add more, but it is hard to take away).  Add all of the ingredients, leaving a little bacon and cheese out to top at the end for decoration.  If you have some chives growing erratically in the garden, you can cut some up for the top of the salad as well.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wife's Salad Dressing

For most salads that we make these days, the dressing for the salad usually consists of this simple vinaigrette that Sylvia makes.  We used to make it with white vinegar, which made the colour neutral for whatever that you put it on.  In recent years though, we have switched over to a Balsamic vinegar, because Balsamic tastes just so much better.  The trade off though, is that your salad becomes quite a few shades darker, so the presentation isn't as nice, but as I said, it tastes better.  So here it is, in all its glory.

Start with 2 parts Olive oil (we use extra light, but any kind will do) to one part Balsamic vinegar.  We typically use around 300ml of oil to 150ml of vinegar
Nice squirt of mustard
Dollop of Mayonnaise (a heaping tablespoon)
Pepper and a little salt
Few shakes of Garlic Powder
Few shakes of Onion Powder

Whisk all the ingredients together or shake up in a salad dressing cup and enjoy.  It lasts quite long when put in the fridge, but the oil typically emulsifies (hardens) and you just have to take it out of the fridge for 5- 7 minutes before use, to sort of "defrost" it.

Some Alternatives:

You can use a little real garlic and onion (finely chopped) instead of powdered stuff.
Use Dijon instead of regular mustard for an extra kick.

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