Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A well stocked pantry (and fridge and freezer) is a beautiful thing

With a new baby arriving any day now my thoughts are turning to those first few weeks of complete and utter chaos as the fam adjusts to the new regime. With both our girls I prepared for the exhaustion by cooking like a woman possessed during those blessed weeks of nesting. I seriously went crazy. I would cook from 9am until 1am and then cry about the dishes. I've been so busy this go around though that I haven't had a chance. Instead I'm stocking my pantry with all the staples so that making dinner will be easy and fast without needing to run to the grocery store cause I'm missing 1 or 2 things for a recipe, annoying!

I try to keep a well stocked pantry year round regardless of the state of my womb. Inspiration hits me often and I don't like to wait to try out a new recipe or invent something on the fly. I buy a lot of items on sale and really stock up, like when the grocery store has pasta on for 99¢ a bag or cases of soup for 1/2 price (Canada doesn't have the amazing coupon deals the US has, I be jealous), this saves a ton of money in the long run.

With school about to start up again this is also a great way to prepare for that big readjustment. School and activities can leave a lot of parents struggling with what to make for dinner in the 15 minutes before they have to race out the door again, having everything at your fingertips can ease the strain a bit!

I've compiled a list of items I always keep on hand for anyone who would like to keep their kitchen well stocked:

Extra virgin olive oil
Canola/Vegetable oil
Cooking spray
Chicken, Beef and Veggie broth in tetra packs
Canned Tomatoes
Canned Tomato Sauce
Canned beans
Canned soups (Cream of Mushroom, Tomato & Cream of Celery)
Dried pasta (in many shapes)
Worcestershire sauce
BBQ Sauce

Dried Herbs and Spices
Bay leaves
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder
Onion Powder
Whole Nutmeg
Sea Salt
Kosher salt
Smoked Paprika
Italian Seasoning
Steak Seasoning
Vanilla Beans

Baking powder
Baking soda
Brown sugar
Granulated sugar
Powdered Sugar
White flour
Whole wheat flour
Chocolate (Chips, Squares, Chunks)
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Pure Vanilla Extract
Fat Free Pudding Mix

In the Fridge
Low fat milk
Homogenized Milk
Whipped Cream
Half & Half
Ranch Dressing
Italian Dressing
Unsalted Butter

In the Freezer
Frozen veggies (peas, corn, broccoli, etc.)
Frozen fruits (berries, pineapple, mango, etc.)
Frozen Pizza Dough Balls
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (I get mine at M&M Meatshops, cheap!)

Peppers (of every colour)
Green Onions
Pita Bread
Naan Bread

Breakfast Drawer*
Peanut Butter
Cinnamon Sugar Mix
English Muffins

*The Breakfast Drawer

I mentioned my Breakfast Drawer on Twitter a while back and got a lot of response on it. Everyone wanted to know WHAT it was. The Breakfast Drawer is a pot drawer in my kitchen island that has everything related to breakfast in it. I keep the bread, toaster, peanut butter, Nutella, honey, cereal, oatmeal, etc... in there. Why? Well, I have this great wish that when my kids are old enough to wake up on Saturday mornings and come down without waking us up, they can easily get themselves a bowl of cereal or some toast cause everything is all together and completely accessible to them (I keep their plastic plates and cutlery in the drawer right above the Breakfast Drawer). I like having the toaster in there cause it keeps it off the counter freeing up space and keeping the kitchen less cluttered looking. It sits on a cookie sheet to catch crumbs making it easier to keep the drawer neat and clean.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chocolate Cavity Maker Cake

I have no idea know what to write here. I seriously contemplated just letting the name of this cake speak for itself. Chocolate. Cavity. Maker. Cake. 'Nuff said? No? Okay.

I was puttering around online looking for a dessert to make to take my mind off my husband painting the nursery. I'm the painter in the family but my husband has banned me from paint fumes and any sort of physical activity greater than making dinner (thinks with his stomach!) so as not to go into premature labour. I hate not being in charge of this project, especially considering he's never really painted anything and I keep hearing things like "I suck at this." and "Oh crap!" coming from upstairs. I was going insane. So I thought baking was the way to distract myself. I was considering a recipe when I started reading the reviews and the name of another recipe jumped off the screen like it was on fire. Chocolate Cavity Maker Cake. I couldn't Google fast enough. I swear, the 2.3 seconds it took to do the search felt like 35 years. And there it was, in all it's perfectly simple, fudgey, delicious glory. I got excited and hit the print button about 7 times and ran to the store (okay, I drove, it's far) and was making this cake about 17 minutes later.

I have never had such a moist and fudgey cake. It is rich without being TOO sweet and has just the right amount of chocolate to make you weep. It doesn't need icing, a light dusting of powdered sugar, some whipped cream or some ice cream compliment this cake wonderfully.

Give it a try. You'll thank me later when you come out of your chocolate coma!

Look at how moist that is!

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Chocolate Cavity Maker Cake from

1 (18.25 ounce) package dark chocolate cake mix
1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup coffee flavored liqueur
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F . Grease and flour a 10" Bundt pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, eggs, oil and coffee liqueur. Beat until ingredients are well blended.
3. Fold in chocolate chips. Batter will be thick. Spoon into prepared pan.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until cake springs back when lightly tapped.
5. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn out and cool completely on wire rack.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Meal Plan for August 16-22

I've been slacking off in the meal plan posting. It's been a crazy, hectic summer. Trips to my parent's, the zoo, visitors at our house, preparing for baby and the heat... omg the heat! But I realized I need to get back in the habit for two reasons, 1. Juniour is going to through us off course for a while so until we get our family routine re-established I need to be organized wherever I can be; and 2. my oldest starts school in the fall and I want to plan some great lunch and dinner (leftovers for lunch!) ideas ahead of time and try them out to see what she'll eat!

Here is this week's plan. It's pretty basic, my husband has the next 10 days off and in that time we need to paint the nursery, paint the furniture we bought for my youngest daughter's room, move furniture into the nursery, and get ready with little things like packing the hospital bag and whatnot. I needed a week where dinner was a no-brainer.

download the PDF


Mac & Cheese - done on stove top: macaroni, velveeta, diced tomatoes from the garden... c'est tout!
Steak & Potatoes
Tacos & Mexican Rice - cheating on this one and buying a kit. Thank you Old El Paso!
Chicken Parmigiana
Meatballs & Mashed - frozen italian meatballs simmered in BBQ sauce with mashed potatoes
Pork Tenderloin & Rice
Roast Beef with Roasted Potatoes & Carrots - crockpot cooking at it's best!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

I love home cooked "Sunday" meals. Especially when they don't just have to be made on Sundays. There are a lot of ways to speed up and simplify recipes to make them accessible during the week without resorting to buying frozen lasagnas (shudder) from the grocery store.

This recipe is one of my faves. My husband's too... he's a cream sauce fiend! However, heavy cream is no longer his friend. So I make my cream sauce with acan of good ol' reduced fat cream of mushroom soup. Yes, I said soup! From a can! Get over it! It's yummy. Simply by adding a few ingredients and spices to that can you can make a yummy sauce that would be great on beef, chicken or pork. Easy right? I'm all about easy. (That didn't come out the way it sounded in my head...)

Pair this pork tenderloing and sauce with your favourite rice *cough*Uncle Ben's*cough* and you can have Sunday Taste on Tuesday Time.

Rub the tenderloin with seasoned salt and garlic powder. Give it a good massage. Then heat 2 tsp oil in a frying pan and add the meat. Brown on all sides.

Place on a baking sheet. I like to use a digital thermometer when cooking this cause nothing ruins a tenderloin faster than 5 minutes of over-cooking. You want to pull it out of the over when it reaches 165˚F. I know it says done is 170˚F but trust me, 165 is what you're looking for.

In the frying pan you seared the tenderloin in, add a wee bit more oil and brown some diced onion and mushrooms. If you prefer sliced mushrooms go for it, I like the look of the diced.

Add 2 minced garlic cloves. Mmmm garlic. Throw in a bit more garlic powder and seasoned salt too, just a smidge.
Next add your can of soup. Add 1/2 can of water as well. You want to think it out a bit but not too much, you want it thick & creamy. Turn it down to low and let it simmer while the tenderloin is doing it's thing.

When the temperature reads 165˚F take the tenderloin out of the oven and loosely wrap it in tin foil. This is where the trust comes in. It will continue to cook those last 5˚s, and by allowing the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes it will re-distribute all the juices back into the tenderloin so you have a super tender, juicy roast without losing all the juices all over the cutting board when you slice this bad boy.

Slice the tenderloin and plate topped with the mushroom sauce and your favourite rice, or potatoes, or whatever else strikes your fancy!

Print this Recipe

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

1 pork tenderloin (there is enough sauce for 2 tenderloins , I only do 1 cause hubs is a sauce hog)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 c mushrooms, diced or sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can cream of mushroom soup, I use reduced fat
1/2 can of water


1. Rub the tenderloin with the seasoned salt and garlic powder.
2. Heat 2 tsp oil in a frying pan and add the meat. Brown on all sides.
3. Place on a baking sheet. Roast at 350˚F until internal temperature reaches 165˚F.
4. In the frying pan you seared the tenderloin in, add a wee bit more oil and brown the onion and mushrooms.
5. Add the minced garlic and a bit more garlic powder and seasoned salt to taste.
6. Add the can of soup and 1/2 can of water. Stir to combine. Turn the sauce down to low and let it simmer.
7. When the internal temperature of the tenderloin reads 165˚F take it out of the oven and loosely wrap it in tin foil allowing the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes.
8. Slice the tenderloin and plate topped with the mushroom sauce and your favourite rice, or potatoes.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cheesecake Frosting

This has been one crazy summer. We've traveled, done some home renos, had visitors and are trying to get ready for our little man's arrival. The heat has been killer too. Figures I'd be pregnant during the hottest summer we've had in a few years. All this has led me to be neglectful of my beloved blog! (and my sweet tooth) But being pregnant has it's advantages, like cravings stronger than the 30+˚C weather. Last night my hormones said "Heat wave be damned, we want cupcakes!" So cupcakes were made. I had a strong desire for chocolate and peanut butter so I went looking for a peanut butter frosting.

I found a cream cheese frosting recipe at and threw some peanut butter and extra icing sugar in and it was yummy. The reason I call it cheesecake frosting is because of the strong cream cheese taste to the frosting, it's more like cheesecake than cream cheese icing. The heat made it a bit soft, but it was silky and smooth and made my boxed mix cupcakes taste like the I-spent-30-minutes-baking-from-scratch-even-though-I'm-sweating-like-a-pig-cause-I-love-my-family kind. Pair these up with some ICE cold milk and you've got one tasty little chocolate peanut butter treat!
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Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cheesecake Frosting adapted from


1 box Devil's Food cake mix (I used Betty Crocker, I love Betty)
eggs, oil and water as per your brand's instructions
1/2 c. chocolate chips


1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. icing sugar


1. Prepare your cake mix as per your brand's instructions adding chocolate chips into the batter and bake cupcakes until cooked through.
2. Remove from oven and cool completely.
3. Beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and peanut butter until smooth.
4. Slowly mix is icing sugar until thoroughly combined.
5. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes and enjoy!

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