Friday, September 26, 2014

the simple five: baked sausage penne

This recipe was made on a whim.  It just so happened that I had sausages and was stumped for a quick and comforting dinner.  This five ingredient recipe took less than an hour to make.


Baked Sausage Penne Pasta
Makes 6-8 Servings
Adapted from Taste of Home

  • 454g penne (Rigatoni works too)
  • 5 Mild Italian Sausage Links links, sliced (I used Whole Foods Organic Sausages, mild)
  • 1 jar (750ml) spaghetti sauce...I used Neal Brother's Garlic Tomato Sauce
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I shredded mozzarella, gruyere, parmesan and applewood smoked-but if you want to stick with just 5 ingredients, mozzarella works great on it's own too).
  • Cook penne pasta according to package directions. 
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot or dutch oven, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain the fat.
  • Return to the stove and add spaghetti sauce and chicken stock.
  • When pasta is cooked, drain and add to sausage/sauce mixture and toss to coat. 
  • Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish
  • Sprinkle with cheese. 
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350° for approx. 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Friday, September 19, 2014

the simple five: slow cooker steel cut oats

To start my new "Simple Five" series, I thought I'd begin with a recipe that helps simplify the start of the day.

The chilly, late September morning temperatures are just a hint of what is to come.  Like a practice run, it prepares us for what will likely be around the corner...longer, more difficult mornings with a lot of reluctance to get out of a cozy warm bed. So, to combat this, I've started serving a warm, belly-filling (and healthy) breakfast to start the day.  This is a five ingredient and five minute breakfast (if you do the prep work before hand), so it's a"Simple Five"...times two!  In a slow cooker, I make these steel cut oats (using five ingredients, but it's flexible and you can add more!) and store them covered in a loaf pan, in the fridge, for up to a week.  Slice desired amount every morning and heat in the microwave for a nutritious quick breakfast.  Place this into a thermos or container, and you're ready to take this to go.


Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats
(makes 4-8 servings)

  • 2 cup steel cut oats (I used Whole Food's 365 Steel Cut Oats).
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 cups 3% milk (2% works fine too)
  • 3 tbsp. of desired spices/seasonings (I used 1 tbsp. organic cinnamon and 2 tbsp. brown sugar)
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker.  
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 
  • Place in a loaf pan or covered glass dish and store in the fridge (for up to a week).
  • Slice the amount you require in a bowl and microwave for about 1-2 minutes, depending on quantity. 
  • Stir.

Serve with berries, add a little more milk (if you desire a thinner consistency), and/or maple syrup.  And for all you Nutella fans, drizzle a teaspoon (or more) of warmed Nutella on top of this. It tastes like a chocolate banana cake (well, at least a more healthy version of it!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

the simple five

Keeping to the heart of the reason behind why I've created this blog,  I've been developing a new series called "The Simple Five".  Don't worry...I'll still write stories that document our life's beautiful moments and share my favourite (but maybe more complicated) recipes, DIY and how-to-tips, but I thought it would make it easier for all of you, my lovely readers, if I curated all things that are less complicated in this brand new series.

"The Simple Five" will specialize in easy recipes, DIY, how-to-tips, or just my favourite "must haves" that will either use less than five ingredients, five products, take less than five minutes or take less than five steps..."simple fives" to help make it just a little easier to make your day move forward in our busy lives.  

Simply easy approaches that make our lives beautiful so we can enjoy right now .  Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

roll with it

As the kids return to school, I start thinking of packing some of their summer clothes away.  However, we finally are having a summer heatwave, so I'm holding off that ritual, just in case we can squeeze more "summer fun" into the next couple of weekends.

It was that kind of summer.  Examining the weather to determine if we were heading to the beach or for a bike ride that day.  We just rolled with it, and made the best of the weather during our family time together, doing our summer rituals:  going back to our old haunts (riding the bike trails, diving off the pier at the waterfront near our cottage, motorbiking) and trying out new excursions (this year was horseback riding and going to the theme park).  We did everything but spend a hot sticky day at the beach.

The sun was scheduled to make one last appearance less than a week before school began, and on a whim, I was able to take the kids for one big day at the beach (without my husband...he had a previous engagement). It was a beautiful day.  We did everything we could on that short and sunny day.  We swam, surfed, built sandcastles, played frisbee and football, went to the arcade, the candy store, had Beavertails, and went for a long walk in the early evening, ending it with a picnic on the beach for quick dinner, watching the sunset.  Phew!  It was like we tried to cram a summer time of beach fun into one day.

Watching the sunset, I felt this is what being a parent should really be about.  Fill the days with as much love and memories.  Although going to the beach is one of our summer rituals, we didn't realize how much this really meant to us until we we were unable to go together as a whole family.

It's this ritual, the familiarity of it, that provides comfort...not only to children but to adults as well.  We really felt it on that sunny day at the beach.  Although we sent pictures and texts during our stay to make my husband feel a little more included, it still felt strange and incomplete without him there.  It's not only about where we go that make the memories, but the people we spend it with.

It did make the kids realize how much they still like their parents to be around, even though they're at the age where they wouldn't readily admit it.  Although our beach day didn't feel quite complete, I'm glad we we allowed the sun shine to brightly guide us.  That day, we really learned to appreciate the ability to take advantage of opportunities when the sun does rise...

...but more importantly, to also appreciate those who couldn't be there when it did.

Easy Pizza Dough Cinnamon Roll Waffles
Adapted from: Mario Batali
(makes approximately 8 servings)

I was inspired by the pictures on Pinterest using pre-made cinnamon rolls in a can for waffles, but with the controversy of the ingredients in canned dough, I remembered an adapted cinnamon roll recipe using pizza dough.  Instead of waiting for it to bake in the oven, the time was cut in half by turning these rolls into waffles using a waffle iron/maker,   You can use a panini press (or go the traditional route, and bake in the oven).

  • 750g pizza dough  (or about 1 ½ pound)
  • ¼ cup melted butter (6-8 tbsp.)
  • 3 tbsp. white sugar
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons cinnamon
  • Flour, for dusting
Simple tip:  It's best to leave out your pizza dough on the counter to room temperature for approximately 30 minutes prior to rolling out (this would make it easier to roll it out thinly)

  • Heat the waffle iron (or if you're baking this for buns, preheat oven to 375 degrees).
  • Using a rolling pin, roll out the pizza until it is about ¼ inches thick.  
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the melted butter on top of the dough.
  • Mix the white sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon together.
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the melted butter.
  • Roll the dough until it looks like a jelly roll.

  • Using a sharp knife, cut into 1" slices.
  • Place the slices on waffle iron, and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes, depending on how hot your iron gets (or place in a greased cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes.)

Serve and enjoy.