Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ritz... WOW

Ok, so we're at my beautiful sisters place for Christmas. Everybody was to bring something for dinner, dessert etc.... there was Newfie Peas Pudding, Cottage Roll, Pizza 2 ways, meatballs, hashbrown something or other, my lasagna, Ceaser and tossed salads. Dessert consisted of a wonderful trifle, fresh peanut butter cookies, chocolate cookies, fruit dipped in chocolate, the COOLEST chocolate fountain, and there was this incredible bar style gooey mass in a 13"x9" dish. I cut into it and tasted a small piece. OMG. It was sweet, sticky, and had an excellent creamy frosting. I almost thought I tasted peanut butter. I looked over at my big bro and he was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. He wants me to guess whats in it. I can tell you now, I was not prepared to hear it was Ritz Crackers, Eagle Brand Milk, and Skor pieces, slathered with a cream cheese frosting. Here is the recipe, as well as another I haven't tried yet.

1 - Package of SKOR bar chips (made by ChipIts)
1 - Box of Ritz Crackers, crushed
1 - Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk

Crush Ritz crackers with rolling pin (if you leave them in the bag it is less messy). Add the can of milk, and all but 1/4 cup of the SKOR ChipIts. Mix all ingredients and press into an 8x8 well greased pan.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, sprinkle the remaining ChipIts, let it cool and enjoy!

NEED to try this one soon.... i'll let you know the verdict.
RITZ® Mock Apple Pie
Prep Time: 45 min
Total Time: 1 hrs 20 min
Makes: 10 servings

pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie

36 RITZ Crackers, coarsely broken (about 1-3/4 cups crumbs)
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cream of tartar
Grated peel of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

PREHEAT oven to 425°F. Roll out half of the pastry and place in 9-inch pie plate. Place cracker crumbs in crust; set aside.
MIX sugar and cream of tartar in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in 1-3/4 cups water until well blended. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 15 minutes. Add lemon peel and juice; cool. Pour syrup over cracker crumbs. Dot with butter; sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll out remaining pastry; place over pie. Trim; seal and flute edges. Slit top crust to allow steam to escape.
BAKE 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is crisp and golden. Cool completely.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Lasagna

Ok... here it is... my lasagna. it's easy, and very good. But it's still going under some changes. as always with my recipes :)
Hope you like it!


1-2 boxes of no boil (oven ready) lasagna noodles

Meat sauce:
3/4 lb Ground Pork
2 lb Ground Beef (was a tube of meat) - leaner the better as we will not be browning the meat but cooking it in the tomato sauce.
2 Medium onions
3-4 stalks celery
?? 3-4 cloves garlic (omitted last time, and missed the flavor)
2 jars of 'Ragu' (used the mushroom type)

Cream sauce:
1 tub of ricotta cheese
2 eggs
?? spinach (not added last time but could use the texture)
1 frozen box of spinach (thawed and drained (squeeze well))
?? maybe omit salt and use anchovie paste instead ??
1/2 tub Romano cheese

1 Block of Mozzarella cheese (500gm) - sliced
1/2 tub Romano cheese (maybe asiago)

Saute onions and celery until slightly opaque
add meat and turn heat down as to NOT brown meat, but to slightly cook it. Add 1 jar of the Ragu sauce. bring to just shy of a boil. Add 2nd jar of sauce. Bring to just shy of a boil again, then reduce heat to simmer. Heat sauce until meat is cooked.
Meanwhile mix ricotta, eggs, Romano, salt and pepper in bowl, set aside.

In oval roasting pan or 13"x9" baking dish, put shallow layer of sauce.
Layer noodles breaking some to fill gaps made by oval pan. Add layer of sauce on top. Add layer of ricotta/spinach mix, another layer of noodles. Add layer of sauce. Add layer of sliced mozzarella. Another layer of noodles. Alternate layers ending with layer of sauce OR noodles, and coat with mix of mozza and Romano cheese.

Cover with foil and bake @ 300F for 45 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Let rest for at least 15/20 minutes before cutting into.
I have been drawing this symbol for as long as I can remember... I would doodle,
and this would come out. My beautiful wife loved it so much she came home one day with this
on her ankle. What a woman... you gotta love her :) Posted by Picasa

Butternut Squash

Is this not the biggest butternut squashes you've ever seen? Patti and grabbed these at the Peterborough Farmers Market, and couldn't resist! I put her cell phone up against these to show the size comparison... wow

Patti wants me to make her some butternut squash soup, and the rest I will either roast, or freeze. Here is the recipe for the butternut squash soup, thats super silky... mmm

You need a folding steamer basket or a pasta pot insert for the steaming of the squash.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts, serving 4 to 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 medium shallots , minced (about 4 tablespoons)

3 pounds butternut squash (about 1 large), unpeeled, squash halved lengthwise, seeds and stringy fibers scraped with spoon and
reserved (about 1/4 cup), and each half cut into quarters

Kosher salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven or stock pot, over medium-low heat until foaming; add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add squash scrapings and seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and butter turns saffron color, about 4 minutes. Add 6 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, place squash cut-side down in steamer basket, and lower basket into pot. Cover and steam until squash is completely tender, about 30 minutes.
Off heat, use tongs to transfer squash to rimmed baking sheet; reserve steaming liquid. When cool enough to handle, use large spoon to scrape flesh from skin into medium bowl; discard skin. Remember to toss this into your compost bucket for the trip to the composter!
2. Pour reserved steaming liquid through mesh strainer into second bowl; discard (compost bucket!) solids in strainer.
Rinse and dry Dutch oven.
3. In blender or food processor, puree squash and reserved liquid in batches, pulsing on low until smooth. Transfer puree to Dutch oven; stir in cream and brown sugar and heat over medium-low heat until hot. Add salt to taste; serve immediately.

This is great when served with homemade croutons (with a little cinnimon in them!)

To freeze the soup, make sure that the soup has completely cooled off first. You can pour into Mason jars, 3/4 full with the lid on loose until frozen, or pour into zip lock bags and lie flat in freezer to freeze. Make sure all the air out first. To use, thaw in the fridge over night, or put bag of soup unopened, into pot of water and reheat. Do NOT attempt this with the jars!! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 19, 2006

If I could...

If I could take 2-3 years off work, to finally do what I want.... it would be to enroll in a culinary school. I just feel like I am getting no where doing what I am doing and my heart is elsewhere.

The Calphalon Culinary Center in Toronto has a 4 week (Sundays) course that seems basic, but I would LOVE to go to. Here is the list of what's in store:

Basic Skills Class #1: Kitchen Foundations

Hands-On / $500 for series of 4 classes

In professional kitchens, any cook worth his or her salt knows the importance of mastering the most used tools in the kitchen - your knives. The goal of this class is to build confidence while teaching precision and skill, working alongside our Chef Instructor. Major cutting techniques are demonstrated and practiced using our block of knives. You will learn the purpose, usage and correct grip for each knife. As well, we'll showcase and practice the most efficient way to chop, slice and dice a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for different situations and maximum results. You'll reap the rewards of your new knife skills by creating delicious recipes during class.

Basic Skills Class #2: Soups & Stocks, Steaming & Poaching

Hands-On / $500 for series of 4 classes

Start with fresh stock made from aromatic vegetables. From there your possibilities are endless! Acquire the knowledge that will enable you to enhance your recipes in countless ways. Stocks are the basis for building a wonderful culinary repertoire. From there, move on to steaming & poaching.


Vegetable Stock
Butternut Squash
Steamed Salmon Filet with Seasonal Vegetables
Poached Pears in Red Wine

Basic Skills Class #3: Sauteing & Pan-Frying

Hands-On / $500 for series of 4 classes

Master the techniques needed for sautéing and pan frying, and learn to develop luscious pan sauces for each.


Crispy Eggplant and Goat Cheese Marinara
Seared Beef Tenderloin with Cabernet Sauce
Tarte Tatin

Basic Skills Class #4: Grilling, Roasting & Baking

Hands-On / $500 for series of 4 classes

Learn how grilling uses direct heat and which ingredients are best suited for this dry-cooking method. Roasting uses indirect heat. We'll also discuss which cuts of meat and vegetables are best suited to roasting. Since the ovens are already on, you'll also learn how to bake dessert in a pinch!


Rosemary Roasted Cornish Game Hen
Grilled Chili Shrimp
Roasted Root Vegetables
Raisin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

I would LOVE a set of Calphalon cookware... Calphalon one or even the Simply Calphalon would be excellent!

sigh.... if only I could do some things over... sigh...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

One dead soldier

Patti and took a walk last winter, down by the lake, and I came across this. I thought it would make a great shot. The composition turned out just perfect. Enjoy :) Posted by Picasa

Happy Easter!!

I took a walk through the zoo by myself last week, while Patti was pricing a new client... I thought this little guy was just the most sexiest donkey ever. I will call him Jesus. 'Hey Zues'

After all... it IS Easter :) Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spring is here!!!

First signs of spring :) The buds on this tree were begging for some nice sunlight! Posted by Picasa


My boy :) Practicing his archery in the backyard. James needs a compound bow... he's getting to big for the bow he has now :( Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Look at the ladder... it melted right down the front of the van window. Omg...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

North Bay

So here I sit, in my hotel room in North Bay. They still have SNOW here!! 4 hour drive, and i could slowly watch the snow getting higher.. and higher. We have NONE in Peterborough, and there are still snow banks here higher than my van. I will post some pics tomorow.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

I need to build

an outdoor aviary, for my babies. BeeP_BeeP needs to set up camp with his new female, and the BlackCheek needs some room to excercise and fatten up.

New addition!!

Ok here is our newest addition... A male Black Cheek Zebra finch. Isn't he AMAZING?

TV shows I miss...

CSI, Medium, Friends, Numb3rs and Las Vegas... the shows we watch now are excellent. But what about the shows we used to watch? Emergency! CHiPs, Whiz Kids, Love Boat, Fantasy Island... they were awsome. So when does a show go from good to gone? Who decides? God bless TV-Land :)


Wouldn't you know it. If there is somewhere James is NOT suppoed to go... you will find him there. This is a shot of James inside of an old fence, behind HolyCross Highschool... you can see the new fence on the right, and the old wire fence with the sign on it, to the left. Posted by Picasa


My beautiful wife taking a picture with the Canon Rebal EOS. I think she likes the Lumix better though... Posted by Picasa

Dog Tired!

Daphne needed to hitch a ride near the end. When your legs are only 3" long, an hours walk through the woods is like 4 hours! Posted by Picasa

A nice day for a walk

Well, today seemed like the perfect day for a nice walk in the backyard. The sun was out and Daphne was looking forward to it. Patti and I took Sandy and Duck out in the back woods with the cameras to take some nice spring pics.. James showed up just after we left, and made for nice company.... he's so funny :) Sandy was acting like it was her first time ever out!
We found some old cars and houses that broke down in old age.. made for some cool shots. Patti seems to really like taking pictures... and shes getting good too. She was using Dave's Canon Rebal EOS SLR, and I was using our new Lumix FZ20. What and incredible camera!