The Salad Box!

I am so excited about this!  I've only been doing it just over two weeks but I LOVE IT!  It makes healthy lunches so much easier!  Originally, I saw the idea over on Khrista's blog.  I thought it was a great idea but didn't have the containers or the motivation to go find them.  When Shay was visiting, we were talking about a similar idea and I was reminded of the salad box.  That same day we were in the grocery store and there were some tupperware containers on sale that I thought might be perfect.  I bought them, came home and assembled the box and haven't looked back.  It is so great!  I'm not kidding, there have been days where I haven't menu planned and I'm like, what will we have for dinner and just can't come up with anything ... we have salad!


I add some beans or some chicken and it becomes a meal!  And lunches, on nights that we decided to eat out or just don't have leftovers for the next day, we have salad!  It's perfect.  It's all cut up and ready to go and it literally takes me less than 5 minutes to make a beautiful salad!  


My salad box consists of two large containers filled a bunch of smaller ones, and a box for greens ...  It isn't always full, as you can see in the photo above.  I fill it full every time I do a big shop and then it sort of lives in various stages of fullness which I like because it means our salads are varied.  Here's a closer look at what's inside it ...


Tomatoes (mostly out of our garden!), cucumber slices, cauliflower chunks, onion slices, mushrooms slices (marinating in olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder and an Italian blend herb mix).  Radishes (in water so they don't dry out).  Salad ... washed and in a separate container.  I often have a can of beans sitting in one of those tall containers ... but I had just finished one when I was taking the photos and I try not to open one until I'm ready to use it, to preserve its life in the box! 


Capsicum (Red Bell Pepper) almost gone, Avocado, Nuts, Seeds, Leftover Funky Lime pizza garlic, the end of a jar of black olives, and some dressing ...

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The dressing is great!  I love having it packaged up all ready to go.  Once the salad (specifically for lunches) is ready, I just pop in one of the dressings and it's done!  Seriously, it's fast food ... only you can't get much healthier!

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It has its own section in the fridge. So far, I haven't had any trouble with it taking up too much space.  Most of the things last us through the week, some things less, some things more.  We are wasting much less produce since we've started the salad box.  Probably because stuff doesn't get left at the bottom of the crisper drawer!  I look at all of it every day and use it up!

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It's not just great for salad either!  We used it to make stir fry the other night and then last night we used it to make omelets!  It was awesome!  EVERYTHING WAS ALREADY CUT UP!!  I'm serious, I love the salad box!

Blood Orange Slurpees

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So simple, so fun.  
The kids love these for a summer treat.

All you need is crushed ice and some sort of liquid.
Fill the cup with the ice, then add the liquid.  Top up with more ice if necessary.

For these we used Schweppes Agrum Blood Orange.


Simple BBQ Clams

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I know I have been MIA around here for a bit.  Sorry!  You can pop over to my other blog and read this post if you want to know why!

Anyway, I have a long list of recipes I want to share with you.  I'm doing a bit of a re-schedule of my ENTIRE LIFE so we'll see how I go with that.  Today, I'll share a very simple recipe.  It's not even a recipe.  All you need is a BBQ and some fresh clams.

Just put the clams on the BBQ and wait for them to open.  When they open, they are done.

I ate them just like that, but I LOVE clams.  Next time I may do a simple sauce to go with them ... you might like to do that too.

Spinach Salad

I keep forgetting to take pictures of the food I'm making!!  Grrr...Wanna make this one again soon since it was so yummy and EASY-PEASY, so I'll try and remember to take a picture then.  I found the original recipe here, but made a few modifications.

Spinach Salad

serves 4-6 (with LOTS of extra dressing)


1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
sugar to taste
sea salt to taste
Optional: fresh ground pepper to taste (I left this off cause I don't really like pepper)

6 cups fresh baby spinach (I just used one bag)

 - NOTE: I didn't actually measure any of the following...just sprinkled and tossed till it looked right, but if you like measurements...

1/2 cup chopped nuts (the original recipe called for walnuts...I had pecons and LOVED the substitute...don't think I'll ever use the walnuts)
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup dried cranberries (the original recipe said you could use any dried fruit but the cranberries were delish, so I'll probably just stick with them)


Put dressing ingredients in a bottle and shake well.  The cheaper your balsamic, the more sugar you'll need.  I used about 2 teaspoons and it tasted lovely, so just taste and add as needed. 
Toss spinach with nuts, feta and fruit. Give dressing another shake and drizzle over individual servings.  There was LOTS of dressing left over, but it can sit out on the counter (or in the fridge) for use on other salads.  I may never buy another balsamic vinegrette again because this one was so yummy and easy!

Sausage Apple Overnight Breakfast Casserole

I personally am NOT a fan of sausage, (what I would consider) soggy bread, OR baked egg dishes...BUT...I was looking for a quick, easy breakfast that I could make the night before and feed to a hoard of hungry boys starting VERY early in the morning - and I found this recipe (where, I cannot for the life of me remember!) and thought I'd give it a go.  It made TONS and was very filling, easy (did almost all the prep while dinner simmered), made the house smell AMAZING as everyone woke up, and got the stamp of approval from the hoard of boys! :-)  I highly recommend it...if you're into breakfast casseroles - or are feeding hoards! 
Sausage Apple Overnight Breakfast Casserole

1 pkg. (1 lb.) Pork Sausage Roll
6 cups bread cubed into 1 inch pieces (I had a coupon for french used that - it was under one loaf when cut up)
10 eggs
3 cups milk

1 tsp. vanilla
2 large baking apples, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
maple syrup, if desired

Brown sausage; drain. Whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla. In another bowl, mix apples, sugar and cinnamon together until well coated. In a greased (forgot to grease the pan the second time I made this dish...definitely stuck to the pan!! So don't skip this step!) 9 x 13 inch baking dish, place half of the bread cubes followed by half the sausage, half the apples, and 1 cup of the cheese. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients. Pour egg mixture over the layers making sure to evenly coat it all with the egg mixture. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake uncovered for 55-60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve topped with a drizzle of maple syrup if desired. (the boys ate it plain and with syrup and loved it both ways)

Chicken, Mango, Avo Salad with Lime

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I saw this recipe on Pinterest and decided it was the winner for dinner one night last week.  However, we had an experience just a couple nights before with an orange juice dressing that overpowered the salad so I decided to not do the dressing.  And I added chicken ... If you want the orange dressing (that looks amazing) then go check out the original recipe.  If you want to try it my way, here's what I did.

1 bag of rocket (arugula) 
fresh coriander, a handful (?) or to taste ...
1 ripe mango
1 ripe avocado
1/2 a red onion
1 lime
1 red chilli
1 chicken breast
white wine vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper

This was super easy.  Have your husband grill the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper, while you prepare the salad.  :) If that isn't an option, then just grill it yourself or throw it in the frying pan with a bit of olive oil and some white wine towards the end.

Thinly slice red onion and red chilli (I removed the seeds and membrane) Put in a small bowl, squeeze the lime into the bowl, add a pinch of salt.  Stir it up and set it aside.  

In a large salad bowl, add rocket (a few big handfuls, depending on how many you are serving) and fresh coriander that you have washed and roughly chopped.  Chop avocado and mango.  Add to rocket.  Pour red onion mixture on top and toss salad gently. 

Chop and add chicken. 

Drizzle lightly with a good olive oil and a nice white wine vinegar, sprinkle gently with a nice rock salt and cracked pepper.

Hazelnut Chocolate Spread


You will need to play with this recipe to get it how you like it.  I will play with it more next time I make it ... but the kids loved it and have almost finished this whole jar already !  They say it tastes more like Milo than actual Nutella but they are happy with that !  

I got this recipe out of a magazine.  It was an advertisement for natVia ... a natural sweetener made from the Stevia plant. 

I modified it a bit ... and then just played around til it tasted right ... you'll have to do the same to get it to your tastes !

100g raw hazelnuts, you could roast them.  I didn't.
100g chickpeas (don't throw away the liquid in the jar)
80-100g sweetener of your choice ... I used natVia and I started with 80g.  
15g skim milk powder
20g pure cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
100 ml chickpea liquid
optional ... 1 teaspoon lecithin (I couldn't find this stuff so didn't use it ... supposed to make it smoother/creamier but not essential)

In your food processor, process hazelnuts until they resemble almond meal.  Add remaining ingredients ... minus chickpea liquid.  Process and then gradually add liquid while continuing to process.  On first taste, the cocoa flavor was overpowering so I added some milk.  I just kept adding it until the flavor was nice and the consistency was good.  If it's too runny before the flavor of the cocoa is right, just use more milk powder.   I think I added a little bit more of the sweetener too ... just a teaspoon at a time until it was a sweetness I knew the kids would be happy with.

Once this is gone, I'm going to try another recipe that uses just four ingredients.  Hazelnuts, condensed milk, choc bits and honey.  I'll let you know how that one goes too ...


I have no idea how I have hitherto fore neglected to put this, my favorite Nicaraguan food, on the blog! It boggles the imagination! 

You will need:
12 corn tortillas - it's not as good with flour tortillas, they turn out too sweet
2 cups cooked red beans with cooking liquid - canned is ok
Chunk of onion
Chunk of green pepper
Queso fresco, shredded - I found it at Walmart
One med tomato, chopped
1/4 cabbage, shredded
Lime juice
Sour cream
Hot sauce (optional)

For the beans:
Fry the onion and green pepper in a little bit of oil. Add beans and cook down until the liquid has thickened. If desired, add some hot sauce. In a blender, liquify the beans until they form a thick, spreadable paste. More water can be added as necessary. 

For the tortillas:
Fry flat in oil until crispy, drain on paper towel.

For the salad:
Mix shredded cabbage and tomatoes with a little bit of salt and lime juice, to taste. 

To assemble the repochetas:
Once you have all your components assembled, spread beans over tortillas, sprinkle with cheese, add salad, a dollop of sour cream and a dash or five of hot sauce. Be prepared with many napkins to wipe the beans and/or sour cream off your nose. 

Serves 4

Jamaican Breeze

Welcome to the first cocktail I ever invented!

Jamaican Breeze
1 cup Jamaica Tea
1 shot vodka
1 shot Tuaca - a vanilla-orange liquour

Shake together in a martini shaker, or simply combine in a glass and stir.

Jamaica Tea

The first time I made this from scratch and not from a packet, I strayed from the recipe and ended up making, literally, buckets of tea. However, no one was particularly sad about this as it is delicious. Also, later that evening I invented a cocktail using jamaica that is also quite yum. That recipe to follow...

 Jamaica Tea

4 cups water
3/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers
3/4 cup sugar
1 T lime juice

Bring water to a boil, add hibiscus and sugar, let steep for at least 10 minutes. Add lime juice and ice until cold. You may need to add a little more sugar depending on how much ice you used.

The Definitive Venison Stew

The original recipe can be found here (the part where it says it's quick and easy should be completely disregarded as laughably false), but as the cooking progressed, the recipe and I didn't agree on several points. So this is my version with important contributions of both help and ideas from Aunt Kathy and Pam.


2 pounds venison, 1" cubes
1 medium onion, cut into 8 chunks
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4" slices
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 t salt
1/2 t ground white pepper (black can be substituted)
2 t dried parsley
1/2 t dried thyme
1/4 t dried rosemary
1 1/4 dry red wine
1 can beef broth
5 slices of bacon, chopped
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 t tomato paste
1 package cleaned, quartered mushrooms
2 large potatoes (next time I will strongly consider throwing in more potatoes)
1 T corn starch (as needed)

Remove all tendons, fat and silvery skin from the venison (removing this will help get rid of any gamey flavor). Add the venison, onions, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, and the herbs to a glass bowl or casserole dish. Pour 1 cup of red wine and 3/4 cup beef broth over the venison and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight. Do not marinate for over 12 hours or your meat will turn to mush.

Strain out the marinade and set aside for later. Separate the meat from the marinated veggies. Throw the meat in a large ziplock bag with the flour, shake to cover evenly. 
In a large saucepan over high heat, cook the bacon until it turns crisp.* Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the pan (Note: if you need more grease, augment with vegetable oil). Saute the onions, carrots, celery and potatoes in the bacon grease for 5 minutes, until the vegetables turn soft. Transfer to a large stock pot.

*Venison meat has little or no fat, the bacon is important.

Brown the venison in the remaining bacon grease in two batches and add to the stock pot. With the remaining wine, deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom, add in the remaining broth until heated. Add pan juice, the reserved marinade, mushrooms, bacon and tomato paste to the stock pot. Add enough water to barely cover the stew. Simmer on low for 1 hour until meat and vegetables are tender. If sauce is not thick enough made a paste of 1 T cornstarch and 1 T water. Add to pot and stir until thickened.

This recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

Salmon and Soba and Soy Beans, oh my !

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This is one of those recipes that I wanted to try as soon as I saw it !
I knew I would love it ... and I was right !!
This is so delicious.
My family

I didn't dress the salad, as the dressing had wasabi in it and I thought it might be a bit spicy for the kids.  Jono (10) did try it though and said it wasn't too spicy.  But, he didn't dress his salad with it.  The kids just had straight soy sauce as their dressing.

I made a few changes to the original recipe too.  It said it served two and I was feeding four so I added a bed of spinach, cooked more noodles and did more salmon.  I reduced the amount of edamame, mostly because I got tired of shelling them, but also because one cup seemed like enough. Also, I used cooked edamame that had been frozen and thawed.  Oh, and I reduced the amount of wasabi in the dressing.  Here's how I did mine ...

1 nice piece of sashimi grade salmon, sliced
250g soba noodles
1 cup cooked edamame (soy beans), shelled
1 cup watercress, leaves trimmed and washed
2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
6 radishes, thinly sliced
3 spring onions, chopped small
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
2 tablespoons peanut oil
sesame oil ... I just did a few drops 
2 tablespoons soy sauce
sesame seeds

Bring a pot of water to the boil over high heat.  Cook the soba noodles.  Drain, rinse under cool water and set aside.  

In a big salad bowl, mix spinach, edamame, watercress, radishes, spring onions and soba noodles.  

Whisk wasabi paste, peanut oil, sesame oil and soy sauce.  

To serve, put salad on plate, top with salmon slices, sprinkle with sesame seeds and then dress with wasabi dressing or plain soy sauce.  

So good !!!

Chicken and Beans on Rice

This was delicious.  Easy too.  I found the recipe here.  I did what she did with minor alterations like, one less chicken breast because I always find these sorts of chicken dishes have to much chicken. I also added rice and toppings.  Oh, and I mixed all the stuff together before adding to crock pot ...

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Anyway, here's my way ...

3 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (400g/15oz) can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (400g/15oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (400g/15oz) cans of diced tomatoes
frozen corn, I didn't measure ...
1 (340g/12oz) jar of salsa

to serve ...
avocado, chopped
grated cheese, i used a mexican blend
rice or tortillas or corn chips
sour cream or greek yoghurt (didn't have any in the house this time but will use next time)

Put chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker (crock pot).

In a separate bowl, mix other ingredients.  I just added the corn til it seemed a reasonable amount. Pour over chicken.  Cook on low for 5-7 hours.  I did the full 7 hours then turned it on 'keep warm' til we were ready to eat a few hours later.  When I stirred the mixture up when we were ready to eat, the chicken just broke into pieces! 

Serve on top of rice, or in a tortilla or with corn chips.  Top with avocado, grated cheese and sour cream ...

This was a BIG HIT with the whole family ! And it made lots.  Our family of four ate it for diner one night & everyone had seconds.  Two of us are having it for lunch today.  And there is still enough for lunch tomorrow!


This is a great dish to make with really cheap, tough cuts of meat. It's especially nice as a summer dish since it isn't hot and the citrus gives it a nice refreshing splash. I usually serve it with rice but I think it would be delicious on a bed of butter lettuce with a few wedges of tomato. Or wrapped in tortillas! Ok, I'm getting hungry...


1lb beef in largish pieces
5g beef bouillon powder
1 small green pepper, minced
1 small onion, minced
2-3 limes, juiced
1T Worcestershire sauce

Boil the beef with the bouillon in water for 30 minutes, or until meat is cooked all the way through. Remove from liquid, let cool. With your fingers, separate the meat from the tough connective tissue. If the pieces of meat are too big, you can chop it roughly with a knife or food processor. Add remaining ingredients, adjust seasoning to taste. 

Serves 4

Tomatoey Spinach and Couscous Bake

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Found this recipe on a new blog that I've recently discovered called The Naked Kitchen.  I was going to make it just the way the recipe called for but it had some specialty ingredients that I didn't have, a few steps I thought unnecessary and I thought it could use some mushrooms.  So ... here is my version.  

1&1/4 cups dry whole wheat couscous
2 cups water
Panko Breadcrumbs (I didn't measure but I'd say it was less than 1/4 of a cup)
5 cups raw baby spinach leaves, (I roughly chopped mine but that's personal preference)
2 cans (400g each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
olive oil, for sauteing 
fresh oregano, basil and parsley ... a handful or so of each, washed and chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
salt, a couple of pinches
3 sliced mushrooms ... unless your kids love 'em and then you can use more.  (mushrooms are the one thing that both of our kids despise and I often, but not always, take pity on them and do half with, half without ... tonight was one of the times I decided to go half and half.)

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What you do:

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C 

Saute onions and garlic in a blub of olive oil til onions are soft and beginning to be see through. Add cans of tomatoes, juice and all.  Add herbs.  Cook maybe 8 - 10 minutes, til sauce has reduced and thickened just a little bit.  Add spinach and stir through sauce ... remove from heat.  This is just to get the spinach to wilt a little bit. 

While the onions and garlic are sauteing, put the water in a separate pot over high heat and bring to the boil.  Add couscous and a pinch of salt, give the pot a little shake to stir it, cover and remove from heat.  Let sit a few minutes, fluff with a fork and set aside.  

Mix couscous and tomato mixture together in a baking dish.  Lay mushroom slices flat (if using).  Top with cheese and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Bake uncovered 25 minutes (or til cheese is melted and starting to brown).  Serve hot.

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Roasted Garlic & Eggplant Dip with Almond Crackers


I picked an eggplant out of my garden this morning and went looking for a recipe to make a garlic eggplant dip. I found this recipe on pinterest ... I watched the video, took a couple notes and had it in the oven 10 minutes later !

While the eggplant was roasting, I went back to pinterest (my starting point for any recipe search these days!) and found an interesting looking recipe for crackers made out of almond meal. They looked easy to make. They were. 

I'll just write down the steps for the eggplant and then I'll tell you how to do the crackers.  Watch the video for the dip ... it's quite good and it's easier to understand than the written instructions will be.  And it cracks me up at the end when they just stand there munching on the crunchy crackers !


For the dip ... no real measurements as you'll see in the video.
Garlic cloves
Green chilli, I took the seeds out of mine and sliced them long
Olive oil
Lemon, for squeezing
Red Onion, finely diced
Fresh Coriander (Cilantro), chopped

Preheat oven to 230C/450F.

Make four long slits down the length of the eggplant.  Don't cut all the way through but go down far enough that you can stick stuff inside it.  I had to slice my garlic to fit inside the slits but in the video they leave them whole.  Put garlic and green chilli into the slits.  Put eggplant on a piece of foil and then drizzle eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Wrap up foil tightly.  Place in a small casserole dish and bake for 1 hour.  

When done baking, immediately remove eggplant from foil and put into the casserole dish.  Score skin on underside and then mash everything with a potato masher ... yep, skin and all !  Set aside to cool.

When cool, add red onion and coriander.  Season with salt and lemon juice til it's to your liking.


For the crackers ... 
I found this recipe on Home Cooking In Montana and she found it on Caveman Food.

1 cup almond meal
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 350F/180C (although, I think I might go a bit cooler next time ... maybe 160/170)

Mix almond meal, egg white and pinch of salt.  Mix with a fork.  Roll into a ball.  If it's too sticky, add a bit more almond meal.  Put ball between two pieces of baking paper and roll out thin.  Cut (I used a pizza cutter) into squares and then lay on a baking tray.  I used the baking tray upside down because the crackers hung over the edge a bit ...

Bake 5-8 minutes or til crackers are golden.  Watch them towards the end because they brown up real quick !


Macaroons {Cherry Vanilla & Chocolate Raspberry}

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My friend Jaylen, the same Jaylen who taught me to make gnocchi (!!) taught me how to make macaroons yesterday.  We made two flavors and they were both AMAZINGLY delicious !! 
None of us could decide which ones we liked better ... Now, THAT is a good thing !

We based our macaroons on this recipe.  I'll post both recipes with our modifications ...


Cherry Vanilla
175g icing sugar
125g almond meal
3 large egg whites
75g caster sugar
maraschino cherry juice

150g butter, softened
75g icing sugar (yeah, more ... )
pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F  or fan forced140°C/284°F

Process the (175g only) icing sugar and almond meal in a food processor to a very fine mixture, then sift into a bowl.  (I forgot to sift for the Cherry Vanilla ones and it made no difference.)

I used my electric mixer to whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar until thick and glossy.  I used maraschino cherry juice to flavor.  I stirred this in here.  Probably used 3 teaspoons in the end but we just kept adding a little bit and tasting.

Fold half the almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue and mix well. Add the remaining half, making sure you use a spatula to cut and fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick, ribbon-like consistency as it falls from the spatula. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.

Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Pipe small rounds of the macaroon mixture, about 3cm across, onto the baking sheets. Give the baking sheets a couple of sharp taps on the work surface to ensure a good ‘foot’. Leave to stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to form a slight skin. This is important – you should be able to touch them lightly without any mixture sticking to your finger. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. (you need to leave them for quite a while or they will break when you try to take them off the baking paper.)

Meanwhile, make the filling. I used my electric mixer to beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar.  Add vanilla extract.  Again, we just tasted ... but I think we started with 1/2 a teaspoon and went from there.

Once the cookie part is cooled, ice it and put another one on top ... !!

Chocolate Raspberry
175g icing sugar
125g almond meal
3 large egg whites
75g caster sugar
cocoa powder, we used a raw one

150g butter, softened
75g icing sugar (yeah, more ... )
raspberry essence

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F  or fan forced140°C/284°F

Process the (175g only) icing sugar almond meal, and cocoa powder in a food processor to a very fine mixture, then sift into a bowl. I don't know how much cocoa powder we added.  We did it til it looked 'chocolaty' and then later, when we tasted it, we added more cocoa powder til it tasted right.

I used my electric mixer to whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar until thick and glossy. 

Fold half the almond, icing sugar and cocoa mixture into the meringue and mix well. Add the remaining half, making sure you use a spatula to cut and fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick, ribbon-like consistency as it falls from the spatula. This is where we tasted and added more cocoa.  Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.

Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Pipe small rounds of the macaroon mixture, about 3cm across, onto the baking sheets. Give the baking sheets a couple of sharp taps on the work surface to ensure a good ‘foot’. Leave to stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to form a slight skin. This is important – you should be able to touch them lightly without any mixture sticking to your finger. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. (you need to leave them for quite a while or they will break when you try to take them off the baking paper.)

Meanwhile, make the filling. I used my electric mixer to beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar.  Add raspberry essence.  Again, we just tasted ... but I think we started with 1/2 a teaspoon and went from there.

Once the cookie part is cooled, ice it and put another one on top ... !!


So, there you have it !  Macaroons !  Yum.  Can't wait to experiment with more flavors !! 
 I have Cherry Brandy one in mind ... and a bottle of Midori that would like to come to the party !!

Pickled Beets

I have always loved pickled beets. It is a love that I have passed to my children. My boys will eat pickled beets either until I put the jar away or they are all gone! So, I was delighted when I found, by taste-test, that my mother in law pickles the best beets. And as always, was willing to share her recipe. Here you go.

2 c. beets (ends cut and chopped)
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp whole cloves

Chop the ends off the beets. I like little beets that you can boil and pickle whole, but if they're big, then feel free to cut them in half, or even quarters, basically a big bite sized piece. Put them into a pan of cold water and bring to a boil, and boil until tender.

Place all the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Put the beets into a quart jar, then pour the liquid on top. Then put a lid on. Keep in the fridge and try to control yourself as long as you can. When you finally crack that jar and eat them, you're going to be glad you waited.

Tapioca Pudding

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I LOVE tapioca pudding !!  My Mom used to make it when I was a kid.  She used the tapioca pudding packs you can get in the States but I can't get them here.  I wanted to try my hand at making it.  It was easy and most of all, delicious, just like I remembered it !

Here's how I made it.

3 cups milk
1/3 cup small pearl tapioca
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Put 1 cup of milk and the tapioca into the pan you are going to cook it in.  Let sit for one hour (no heat, you're just soaking the tapioca)  

Whisk in egg yolks, salt sugar and the other 2 cups of milk.  

Slowly bring the mixture to to a boil over medium heat.  Stir constantly.  As soon as it starts boiling (not a rolling boil, just the start of a boil!) reduce the heat and simmer til tapioca is fully cooked, maybe 20 minutes or so.  The tapioca beads will become bigger and see through and the 'custard' will become quick thick.  Taste as you go and stop when it's to your liking.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Cool slightly and serve.

How to pop {POPCORN} in a pan

Ok ... this is a little bit embarrassing but I guess videos of yourself talking to a camera always are ! I made this AGES AGO when I had just learned this method of pop corn popping. I made it so that my friend Shay could see how easy it is !  You'll hear that I am talking to her in the video.  I thought it might be fun to post here ... this makes the best popcorn ! 

A couple of things I have tweaked since this video ... 

1.  I don't use olive oil anymore.  I use canola.  It's much lighter.  I top my daughters bowl with butter, my sons with hot sauce,  and mine I just sprinkle with salt. 

2.  I turn the heat down to medium ... I never ever have it burn anymore.  EVER.  Perfect popcorn, every time.

Heaven in a Cookie Sandwich


I first tried this cookie a year or two ago.  I didn't realize I hadn't posted the recipe here until I went to make them recently and they weren't here !!!  Time to remedy that !  I found this recipe on Every Last Cookie ... it's the blog of a girl who is baking her way through the Martha Stewart's Cookies book.  Grand idea, I say !


They are not difficult to make.  Really, the only thing different to making any other cookie is the extra step of putting the cream cheese icing between two cookies.  It is WELL WORTH the little bit of extra effort !  

She reckons this makes about 25 cookie sandwiches ... I don't think I've ever gotten 25, maybe I make them a bit bigger than her.

Here's how I did mine ...

For the cookies ...
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar (this is just regular white sugar)
225g (1/2 lb) butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 and 1/2 cups finely grated carrots (if you have a food processor, use it !)
1 cup raisins

For the cream cheese icing ...

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup icing (confectioners) sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

I used my electric mixer to combine sugars and butter 'til they were light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until well combined. 

In a separate bowl - sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger together.  Stir.  Gradually add this mixture to the butter mixture.  Mix on a low speed until just blended.  Mix in oats, carrots and raisins.  Chill in fridge til firm, at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350F/180C and line baking sheets with whatever you use to keep the cookies from sticking.  I like baking paper ...

Using a 1/2 ounce ice cream scoop, or a spoon, but the ice cream scoop makes it super easy, scoop dough onto baking sheets.  Bake between 12 and 15 minutes till lightly browned.  Transfer to wire rack to cool. 

While the cookies are cooling, make your icing.  Mix all ingredients until smooth and well blended.

Once cooled, spread one cookie with icing and then top with another cookie.  And that's it ! 

Sopa de Queso

Ok, this is going to be the worst recipe ever for a really good soup. For one thing, if you don't live in Nicaragua, you're going to have to do some serious substituting. For another, I took measurements of no things while I was learning how to make this or making it myself. So everything in here is my best guestimate. I'm hoping someone (Bonnie) will make this and tell me how they tweaked it!

For the Arepas:

2 cups maseca (instant corn flour)
1 cup shredded cheese*
1/2 tomato, minced finely
1/2 chiltoma (small green pepper can be substituted), minced finely
1/4 med onion, minced finely

Mix flour and water to make a soft dough. Kneed until smooth. Incorporate the cheese and veg. Adjust seasoning until it tastes good. You can use chicken flavored bouillon instead of, or in addition to, the salt. Divide and make into 2.5" diameter coasters. Fry in hot oil until nicely golden. It took longer than I thought to fry them because you have to let the corn cook all the way through.

*Notes on cheese. Nicaraguan cheese is semi-hard and very salty. I asked what it was called so I could look for it in an international store in the States. It's called cheese, they said to me. Oh, thanks guys. In any case, the closest substitution I can think of is to maybe mix cheddar and parmesan. Or really just use whatever cheese you fancy. 

For the Soup:

3-4 cups water
2 packets sopa Maggi (instant soup mix, chicken flavored)
1/2 tomato, minced finely
1/2 chiltoma, minced finely
1/4 med onion, minced finely (so cut up one whole tomato, etc. and use half for the cheesy things and half for the soup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch cilanto or mint, minced
2 chayote, peeled, seed removed, and diced (Google tells me this is a kind of squash. If you do find it, rub a little oil on your hands before you peel it or they will be brown all day)
1 ripe plantain, wash, remove the ends and cut into chunks but not peeled
1/3 cup maseca
Ayote (this is a red colorant), Optional
1/2 cup cream or milk

Put the water on to boil in a stock pot. Add the soup mix and minced veg mixture. Chuck in the chayote and plantains (the original soup doesn't have veggies but I prefer to add them, so you can feel free to substitute or omit altogether). When veggies are nearly done, mix the corn flour with a little water and ayote until smooth and add to the soup along with the cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste. Before serving, stir in the cream.

To serve:

Put one or two fried cheesy things in a bowl, top with soup. Bask in the glow of compliments as your family scarfs down this deliciousness.