LamBurger Casserole

Last night we had TheHubbs™ favourite meal: Hamburger Casserole — a very simple combination of ground beef, hashbrown potatoes (the cubed kind), onions, bell peppers, cream of {whatever} soup, and topped with cheese. 

For some reason I thought I had ground beef in the freezer somewhere but it turned out I only had ground pork and ground lamb. Turns out ground lamb makes AWESOME hamburger casserole. In fact, it’s way, way, tastier than ground beef is, so from now on: we’re gonna be making “Lamburger Casserole” ;D

LamBurger/Hamburger Casserole is a pretty simple and very basic recipe, and surprisingly, it doesn’t really need any extra seasoning (not even garlic!)
The original recipe MIL uses called for cream of mushroom soup, but TheHubbs™ is allergic to shrooms, hence why we use cream of chicken — strangely, I prefer the chicken in this particular dish 😊 

P.S.: measurements in brackets for the American friends in the audience 😉

LamBurger Casserole

450g ground lamb (or beef — 1lb)

900g hashbrown potatoes (or fresh cubed potatoes, if you feel inclined — 2lbs)

1 onion, chopped

1/2 each: red, yellow & orange bell pepper, chopped (NOT GREEN!!)

2 cups marble cheese, grated, divided

2 cans cream of chicken soup (undiluted)

Salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F

Over medium-high heat, brown ground lamb in a large pot big enough to accomodate all the ingredients at the end. 

Note 1: no need for extra fat for browning the lamb.

When your lamb has cooked enough to release its fat (but still looking kina bleh grey), add the chopped onions, bell peppers and cook until softened and golden brown. 

Season the meat and veggies lightly with salt (remember: there’s a decent amount of salt in the canned soup + cheese), go crazy with the pepper if you’re into that sort of thing.

Note 2: You want to cook the meat until you can smell the lamb getting “dark brown & tasty” and the fat & juices get re-absorbed.

Once the meat is cooked, remove pot from heat, add both cans of soup, 1 cup of cheese and stir well until everything is all melty and amalgamated. 

Add all the hashbrowns and mix until everything is well combined, then dump the whole mess into a large casserole dish.

Top casserole with the remaining cheese and bake until the hashbrowns are heated through and everything’s bubbly, about 1 hour.

When time’s up, let the casserole sit for a few minutes before serving so the violent bubbling can subside and you don’t burn your tongue when you start shovelling it into your maw 😉

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Happy Anniversary 

Happy Anniversary to My SuperHero in Disguise,

Thank you for 15(!!) years of: good times, UFO times, roadtrip times, fireworks times, supper times, LEGO building times, crazy spazzing kitty times, soup times, happy times, garden times, fabulous times, snack times, laughing til we can’t breathe times, stupid infusion times, weekend getaway times, Peter’s drive-in burger times, fun times, sad times, GodKidlets times, smoky air locking us in the house with a new a/c times, lovely times, ungodly appointment times, breakky on the deck times, hilarious times, sweater times, DQ Blizzard times, monster salad times, silly times, frustrating waiting room times, chocolate chip cookie times, driving times, experimental cheesecake times, weird idea times, sushi times, vacation times, lunch times, binge-watching Netflix times, bath times, snuggle times, and all those times I can’t remember to mention.
I hope we have many more years of life-times to come.
Love You Always,

Xoxo

❤️

Pizza, pizza, pizza!

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So a few weeks back, I had a brain rush to make pizza. Back at Christmas i got a second Baking Steel; this time it was the Baking Steel Mini Griddle to be used inside our convection toaster oven. Turns out I use the griddle way more regularly stove-side for making grilled cheese sammiches, french toast and ocassionally bacon.

I finally figured out how to get the thin, crispy, air bubble-filled pizza crust that I have been pining over ever since The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen shut down in Calgary! *swoon!!*

It only took me three years or so to figure out the way to go is by using a high-hydration dough — I know, it’s so obvious in hindsight! The thing is, it’s not just the high hydration dough that makes my newfound pizza-making skills amazing, it’s also the time it takes for me to bake the pizzas and way in which I execute it.

The crust recipe is from the Baking Steel website. Obviously this isn’t my own creation, but from now on it is definitely on my list of fail-safe recipes whenever I am keen to make pizzas. This dough is soft, super slack when worked with after giving it an hour or more to just rest at room temperature while you’re preheating the oven, gives you a wonderful thin crust with gorgeous air bubbles on top, and some decent char happening — the underside gets a patch here and there plus blistering happens on the bubbles on the top. The only minor drawback to this recipe is it’s a slow fermenting 18+hour deal that you have to make sure to plan for in advance.

Just for fun, if you’re keen to have your own version of ‘secret ingredient pizza dough’ recipe, there’s a fun addition I enjoyed that Baking Steel also suggests that I will include, below.

The key to getting the pizzas baked to perfection is to do it in a short amount of time. Having one steel on the highest broiler-level rack and using one as close to the bottom of your oven as you can possibly get it in case you want to bake the pizza an extra minute or two to finish the crust’s bottom without burning the top to cinders is definitely the awy to go. I am ridiculously amazed that it only takes me about 3 minutes to have a pizza baked to my definition of pizza perfection; sometimes it takes 4 minutes if it’s a heavily loaded meat pizza (a rare choice for toppings for this cooking method), and sometimes even 2 minutes for a simply dressed down white pizza (my recently discovered favourite).

Toppings-wise, this kind of thin crust pizza is definitely where the less-is-more concept is what you’re going to want to keep in mind when you top your pizzas so they bake off within 3-4 minutes.

No-Knead high hydration dough

500g (17 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, (I used bread flour, this one is killer), plus more for shaping
1g (1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
16g (2 tsp) fine sea salt
350g (1 1/2 cup) water

Optional SUPER SEKRET INGREDIENT(!):
16g instant cheese powder packet 😜

    1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk the flour, yeast, salt and secret ingredient (the cheese pkg from your favorite boxed mac & cheese mix). Add water, and with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly.
    2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72F) for 18 hours, or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
    3. Flour work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them. For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center; then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom (the order doesn’t matter, what you want is four folds). Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
    4. If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic wrap or store in plastic cylinders for up to 3 days. Return to room temp by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.

    Broiler Method Pizza Baking Instructions
    Place Baking Steel on the top rack of the oven and second ateel on bottom rack. Preheat on convection bake for one hour at 500 F.
    Launch pizza onto the center of the Baking Steel. Bake on convection for four minutes. Protip: Use your iphone timer!
    Give your pizza a spin and switch the dial to broil for 2-3 minutes (depending on pizza toppings). Be sure to watch your pizza carefully. I usually check it at a minute to make sure it’s not getting too dark. If desired, put pizza on bottom steel for 1-2 minutes to get bottom crust tp your desire doneness.
    Take your pizza out of the oven and enjoy!
    I used a gas oven with a gas broiler, this technique works for both gas and electric. However, electric broilers have a mind of their own and will not likely start broiling right away. So timing may be extended when using electric ovens.
    [Broiler making method: http://www.bakingsteel.com/blog/perfect-pizza-using-baking-steel-broiler-method ]

    My Favourite Pizza Toppings

    Snow White’s Truffles (top left, bottom right)
    Truffle olive oil base, Mushroom-Truffle paste, shredded mozarella, baby bocconcini mozzarella, dressed baby arugula
    Stairway to Heaven (bottom left)
    Garlic butter base, prosciutto, baby bocconcini mozzarella, dressed baby arugula (lemon + garlic olive oil, s&p), fresh tomatoes, parmesan shards, drizzle with extra virgin garlic olive oil before serving

       Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (top right)
      Tomato sauce base, pepperoni, summer sausage, ham, shredded Mozzarella, fresh tomato, provalone (Dad’s extras: anchovy, dressed baby arugula) 

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        Can you believe this..??

        Can you even….?? I made homemade tonkotsu ramen with pork belly chashu & ajitsuke tamago, all from scratch!

        IMG_8282

        Lemme tell you, these last two weeks-worth of major kitchen activity have been ridiculously active and overwhelmingly busy! I wouldn’t have been nearly as successful or productive that first ramen-making weekend if it hadn’t been for TheHubbs™ willingness to do all the grocery shopping for me on that Friday afternoon while I was busy getting treatment done.
        Not only did it take 18+ hours to make the tonkotsu broth the first time (20 hours for the second time) but it also took about 5 hours to make the chashu pork belly – these are seriously tasty and swoon-worthy projects that would make any weekend kitchen warrior proud!

        I’ve always been keen to try tackling the job of making homemade ramen for years but  I knew it would definitely be a project of serious undertaking. I didn’t realise TheHubbs™ was even keen for ramen until he had actually voiced a craving for it numerous times after he had watched an episode of Chef’s Table with me, on Netflix, about chef Ivan Orkin of Japan’s Ivan Ramen (Season 3):

        I’ve admired Ivan Orkin’s cookbook, Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo’s Most Unlikely Noodle Joint, for years and was pretty thrilled to see his story had been included as one of the episodes of Chef’s Table, and on The Mind of a Chef. Here’s a clip of Ivan doing a quickie recipe for shio ramen.

        I am super proud to say that with encouragement from TheHubbs™ and a serious boost of steroids from my recent hip injections, I successfully made tonkotsu ramen broth using Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe from the Serious Eats website!

        It’s an easy recipe to execute, it just takes time to do the tiresome job of cleaning and de-scumming of the pork & chicken bones. One very useful tip I would offer before actually beginning the broth-making, if you have the time: let your pork bones soak overnight in a big bowl of water in the fridge. This will give you headstart with getting rid of the extra scummy stuff when you do a quick 5minute hardboil purge(?) before actually making the ramen broth to give you a nice, clean, and eventually, super milky broth.

        If anything, be prepared to do a fair amount of veggie prep-work and make sure you stock up on scallions… LOTS of scallions! 

        As for ramen’s traditional accompaniments: The first weekend I made ramen (two weekends ago) I made a very acceptable chashu substitute that was made with thin bone-less, and thick bone-in, pork loin chops. Before boiling the marinade, I evenly divided the aromatics in half and separated them into two cheesecloth pouches, then added one pouch into each sousvide bag along with half the marinade before adding in the pork chops. The key to making the pork loin chops juicy and tender, like pork belly chashu, is to cook it sousvide. 

        Make sure to cook the boneless chops separately from the bone-in chops so you don’t overcook the one or undercook the other. Once your porkchops are cooked for their preferred times, pull the bags from their hot water bath and dunk’em straight into an ice water bath to cool the meats right down and leave them in the marinade until you’re ready to eat; although I wouldn’t recommend keeping the cooked porkchops in their marinade for longer than 4-6 hours, as the meat will likely toughen up considerably because of the salt content from thew soysauce. If it’s going to hang around longer than the six hours, just drain the marinade into a separate container to use for later.

        Speaking of the leftover marinade: With all that amazing porky-infused marinade juices leftover, make sure you save it to make your soft-centered eggs; you can’t have a proper bowl of ramen without a signature soysauce marinated egg!

        Below, I have listed all the recipe links from Serious Eats that I’ve been using instead of writing it all out. Believe me when I say it’s easier this way — you’ll have all the answers to your most burning ramen questions at your fingertips from Kenji’s collection of ramen articles in one place.

        Serious Eats Rich and Creamy Tonkotsu Ramen Broth Recipe

        Serious Eats Chashu Pork (Marinated Braised Pork Belly for Tonkotsu Ramen) Recipe

        Plus, if you don’t can’t easily get access to a slab of pork belly, here’s my sousvide porkchop chashu; it really does make for a great pork belly alternative, especially if you prefer to have a less rich form of pork for your bowl of ramen. I’m really quite proud of it, even though it’s essentially a riff of the Serious Eats recipe ^_^

        I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with how the ramen turned out given I’ve never actually eaten a ‘properly made’ bowl of ramen, my problem now is I still have to figure out how to properly season individual bowls of ramen before serving. I just wish someone could tell me how to make a bowl of shio and miso ramen like they do in Japanese ramen shops!

        Sousvide Chashu Pork Chops

        3 x Bone-less porkloin chops (1cm thickness)
        2 x Bone-in thick cut pork chops (1″ thickness)

        Chashu marinade 
        1/2 cup soy sauce
        1 cup sake
        1 cup mirin
        1/2 cup sugar
        6 scallions, roughly chopped
        6 whole garlic cloves
        One 2-inch knob ginger, roughly sliced
        1 whole shallot, split in half (skin on)

        Divide scallions, ginger, garlic and onion in half and wrap in cheesecloth pouches, tie with string.
        Drop cheesecloth wrapped aromatics into pot with water, soy sauce, mirin, sake & sugar and heat until sugar is dissolved.
        Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. 

        Preheat sousvide bath to 65°C

        Meanwhile, put porkloin chops together in a separate sousvide bag from bone-in chops. Set aside until marinade is cooled.
        Into each sousvide bag, remove aromatics from their cheesecloth pouches and add to porkchops.
        Divide cooled marinade evenly between each bag of porkchops. Remove air from bags, seal and drop into sousvide bath.

        Cook boneless chops for 30 minutes.
        Cook bone-in chops for 60 minutes.

        Remove bags from sousvide bath after cooking and drop into ice water baths to cool down.
        Put pork chops into a large enough container to accomodate all the chops and cover with marinade until ready to eat, up to 4 hours. If not eating right away within four to six hours, remove chops from liquids and set aside in a separate container to use for flavouring individual bowls of ramen broth, if desired, or discard.

        Use any extra remaining marinade to marinate softboiled eggs.

        Sousvide Soysauce Eggs

        6 eggs, cold from fridge
        Leftover cooked Chashu Marinade

        Cheesecloth (or paper towel)
        Ice water bath
        Optional (yet very useful): drawstring produce pouch to hold eggs

        Preheat sousvide bath to 90°C
        Put eggs gently into drawstring pouch and set aside.
        When temperature is reached, gently lower eggs into bath and clip drawstring to pot.
        Cook eggs for 9minutes.
        Immediately remove drawstring pouch from hot water bath and drop into ice water bath.
        Crack & remove egg shells when cool enough to handle but still very warm, then drop eggs into chashu marinade.
        Cover eggs with cheesecloth soaked in marinade and refrigerate until ready to eat. 
        When ready to eat, cut egg in half and serve.
        If not eating within 4hrs, remove eggs from marinade and discard to prevent rubbery eggs.

        How I assemble my bowl of ramen

        baby arugula 

        I made freaking Semlor!

        Eat your heart out: Soft cardamom buns filled with homemade marzipan-cream and dusted with powdered sugar for the most perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee to be enjoyed for Fika; Swedish coffee break.

        Semlor can be yours!!

        I admit it: I use a bread machine whenever I need, or want, to make bread. I just mix up the dough in the machine and do the rest by hand. It works for my needs and I don’t die from over exertion or exhaustion ^_^

        If you possess the physical stamina that I do not, on the other hand, then go about making them as instructed in the original Semla Bun recipe link found here.

        As to the marzipan filling, I made the almond paste recipe from scratch adapted from a Swedish Pastry Chef’s youtube video recipe, found here

        Semlor Buns (Makes 20 buns)

        75 g (5 tbsp) salted butter
        300 ml (1¼ cups) milk
        1 egg
        500 g (3½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, extra may be required
        55g (¼ cup) sugar
        1 tsp freshly ground or cracked cardamon
        10 g (3¼ tsp) “instant” fast action dried yeast
        – Pour butter, milk, egg into bottom of bread machine tin.
        – Add flour, sugar, cardamon and yeast on top of liquid ingredients.
        – Set bread machine to dough setting and press start.
        – When cycle is complete, remove dough from bread machine tin onto lightly floured surface.
        – Divide dough into ~50g pieces and roll into buns. Makes 20 buns.
        – Place formed buns onto parchment lined cookie sheet and cover  with towel to proof 30-40minutes.
        – When ready to bake: preheat oven to 400°F/200°C and bake for 10 minutes.
        – Remove buns to cooling rack and make marzipan filling.
        Marzipan Filling

        200g almond meal
        100g castor sugar
        100g powdered sugar
        100ml water
        1 tsp vanilla seed paste
        Pinch of ground cardamom
        – Put almond meal, castor sugar and powdered into food processor. Pulse to combine.
        – Add water and process until smooth-ish paste is achieved. [Note: If too wet, add more almond meal and sugars in the proportion 2:1:1]
        – Add ground cardomom and vanilla bean paste and pulse a few times more.
        – Almond paste is VERY STICKY! Put filling in a ziplock bag and set aside until ready to use.
        And finally…

        How to assemble your delightful semla bun ❤: 
        (P.S.: semla is singular for semlor)
        1) cut top off your cardamom bun
        2) pull out some of bun’s innards
        3) break up innards and mix with some homemade almond paste
        4) lighten almond filling with whipped cream
        5) fill empty bun with almond cream mixture and top with extra dollop of plain whipped cream
        6) put semla’s top back on and dust with powdered sugar
        7) admire your semla and consume without getting too much cream or powdered sugar all over your oxygen hose 😂
        8) alternative serving method: place marzipan cream-filled bun in bottom of a bowl of warm milk and enjoy slightly less messily ^_^

        Happy Birthday to TheHubbs™!

        Just wanted to post the recipe for an adorable Cake for Two: the most perfect size to celebrate a birthday with, in fact!


        The Perfect Cake for Two Cake 

        7 Tbsp cake flour

        1/2 tsp baking powder

        1/4 tap baking soda

        Pinch of salt

        2 Tbsp butter, softened

        1/4 cup sugar

        1 egg

        1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

        1 Tbsp oil

        2 Tbsp milk

        1/4 cup sprinkles, optional* (see notes below)

        Frosting:

        6 Tbsp butter, softened

        1/2 cup powdered sugar, or more to taste

        1/2 tsp fave extract flavour (I used keylime extract)

        Pinch of salt

        Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line 3 mini springform cakepans (use mini corningware as cakepan)

        In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

        In a medium bowl whicsk together butter and sugar untl well combined. Whisk in egg, vanilla and oil. 

        Gradually stir dry ingredients into wet mixture untl combined. Add milk and gently fold in sprinkles, if using.

        Pour batter into prepared pans. Make cakepan wrapping strips with cheesecloth, dampen with cold water and tie around pans. (This will supposedly help cake to bake and cool flat so you don’t need to waste any cake by having to level off tops) 
        Bake cakes for 12-18 minutes until tester comes out clean. Let cool in pans for a few minutes, then gently turn out onto cooling rack.
        Make frosting: beat together butter, powdered sugar and extract with handmixer until creamy & fluffy. Assemble however your little heart desires ❤ 

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        Baking Notes in hindsight: 

        1) The colours got muddied in the cake because I probably should have used the smaller dot-sprinkles instead of the “noodly sprinkles” that I only have in the pantry.

        2) Alternatively, I should have reduced the quantity of sprinkles in the batter to account for the noodly sprinkles being so much larger than traditional dot sprinkles and there being so little cake batter.
        3) Probably needed about 50% more frosting than the recipe originally called for to have enough for a crumb coat layer AND to frost rest of the cake so it doesn’t look patchy.
        4) Bake the cakes in 3 pans instead of only two. It would have made the layers considerably less janky looking 😂

        [ Original recipe: http://link.tastemade.com/HE7m/4TZU7bJz1z ]

        Guess what I made!

        It’s that time of year again: Chicken Milk Season!

        As I mentioned earlier, this year was really difficult, especially in the cooking & eating department as it’s most likely due to SALLY & Co. We’ve had a CSA membership with Noble Gardens for a few years now and I’ve been having the hardest time trying to cook all the dozens of eggs we’ve got stored in the fridge because I go through waves of “can eat vs. can’t eat.”

        Yesterday I had 3 dozen eggs in the fridge and I was trying to come up with the best ideas to use the most number of eggs in a single go. There were a few ideas that I had been batting around in my head: quiche lorrainepot de crème, magic chocolate flan cake, etc…

        And then I realised that I could make eggnog! The eggnog that TheHubbs™ had been buying makes my tummy so very, very, owie.

        Side note: I am lactose intolerant but, strangely, I can drink organic milk. A few years ago, we discovered ordering milk through Spud that my tummy has no issues with organic milk… Well, most “organic” milks. Stranger still: the big commercial dairy producers (Dairyland, Parmalat, Beatrice, Lucerne, etc) in Alberta that sell an organic-label is hit or miss for me, but the strictly organic dairy producers like Rock Ridge, Vital Greens, Avalon, etc give me ZERO tummy issues! It’s kind of a baffling concept as I’m pretty sure lactose intolerance doesn’t distinguish between “organic” and non-organic labelling.

        I honestly did not realise how much of a difference homemade eggnog is from the commercially made stuff. This recipe for chicken milk is so awesome… it kind of tastes like melted vanilla ice cream with the minor adjustment to the spices that I made. I will probably have to try the original recipe as is, one day, but with Dad not being terribly keen on the strong flavour of cinnamon, I reduced it by one stick for my first go ’round.

        Sidenote: I think I may need to explain the reason for referring to eggnog as chicken milk ^_^; In Canada, everything is bilingual, food labels are no exception. I have a thing for hilariously incorrect translations:

        1) Eggnog in (Canadian?) French: Lait de Poule

        2) Lait de Poule directly translated into English (but grammatically incorrect): Milk of Chicken

        3) Milk of chicken corrected for “proper” English grammar: 🐔 🍼 ! 😸

        If you have a sousvide setup, this recipe is super easy, but does take an hour to cook after the few minutes it takes to mix together. If you’re using ziplock bags instead of the thicker bags used for vacuum sealing, I would highly recommend double bagging the mixture just for added protection since it does cook at a higher temperature.

        The Most Amazing Eggnog (recipe adapted slightly from Confectionalism.com)

        4 egg yolks, fresh
        8 eggs, fresh
        4 cups whole milk
        2 cups heavy cream
        1 Tbsp vanilla paste
        1½ cups icing sugar
        pinch of salt
        2 cinnamon sticks
        6 whole cloves
        ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg (plus extra to serve)
        Optional: whip cream, to serve

        Preheat the Sous Vide to 60°C.
        In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs until they are thick and pale yellow.

        Add the milk, cream, sugar, salt and ½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg and beat well.

        Into the bottom of a large vacuum sealing bag or ziplock (gallon size) add the vanilla bean paste, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add the eggnog base and press out as much air as possible from the pouch, and close.

        Note: If you’re  using a ziplock bag, double bag and seal for extra security from potential bag leakage.

        If using heavy duty vacuum bags, gently submerge bag until all the air is pushed out and clip to side of sousvide bath with binder clips. (If you’re super lucky to own a chamber vac, then just seal bag and drop into your bath!)

        Drop the eggnog into bath and cook for 1 hour. Squish & mix the eggnog pouch about every 15 minutes.

        Remove eggnog from the sousvide bath and immediately submerge the still sealed eggnog in an ice water bath until contents are chilled through.

        After chilling, strain out the cloves and cinnamon and pour eggnog into a large 2L jar, making sure not to forget the vanilla beans at the bottom of the bag! Refrigerate until completely chilled.

        When ready to serve: top glass of eggnog with whipped cream and grate a bit of fresh nutmeg for garnish, if desired.

        For added fun, make a Paralyzed Chicken: half fill a tall glass with coke, add rum (if desired) and top with your chicken milk. 😛

        Reflections, ramblings and a recipe, to boot!

        It’s been so long… I should be making a far more concerted effort to blogging regularly and it’s not been easy trying to get the motivation to write down recipes, at the very least!

        My favourite recipes really need to be hanging out, here, where it’s most convenient for me to refer to all the recipes that I turn to, again and again. Over the last couple of years I’ve been making sure to have “hard copies” of all my favourite recipes saved, on my ipad, so that if I am ever faced with the prospect of no longer having this blog, at least I will still have access to all the recipes that I cook the most often. [Side thought: I wonder I should toy with the idea of publishing them in a small personal cookbook like I did for the family sticky rice cookbook I made last(?) Christmas…?]

        It’s been a really challenging few months. TheHubbs™ has been dealing with a still (very) unknown recurring health issue that’s been plaguing him since the end of September, and me doing Round #3 of infusions.

        The third round of Rituxan/Rituximab infusions (started October 12th, finished the 26th) have left me in the familiar state of: So much tired, so not hungry, so not motivated to cook, so exhausted, and dealing with unpredictable bouts of random nausea & barfiness.

        It sucks.

        So I pushed myself this afternoon to shut down SALLY and just try to be a normal human being for a couple of hours today. The hard won effort became a surprisingly decent result: an easy dinner that I would be more than happy to recreate again, after tonight.

        Backtracking a bit: Last week, The Hubbs™ made the executive decision to restart our grocery delivery service with Spud.ca to go along with our bi-weekly mini Winter CSA pickups with Noble Gardens.

        Winter is never an ideal season for me to go out and about, mainly due to the cold temperatures aggravating my breathing & lungs, plus cold & flu season wreaking havoc in public places where I am more likely to catch a bug of my very own, but right now I’m still under TheHubbs’™ imposed post-infusion lockdown until the end of November.

        Grocery shopping under these circumstances is not easy for me, and The Hubbs™ would ordinarily be doing them himself; either after work or sometimes he’d brave the grocery mobs on the weekend, but this Unknown Health Issue (a.k.a. “U.H.I.” from this point forward) has absolutely clobbered his energy levels.

        U.H.I. has also become a serious quality of life issue which is affecting coping mechanisms, and inadvertently affecting me, too. It’s especially frightening being unable to adequately help care for your own caregiver if you’re physically incapable of functioning like a normal, healthy, human being to begin with.

        So we’ve been trying to make do as best we can, but we can only do so much when I’m pretty useless in my current condition and we’ve had to learn to accept the offerings of help from MIL when TheHubbs™ needs extra hands with the chores I can’t complete on my own, getting a few groceries picked up, or whatever. It sucks so much.

        *sigh*

        So! That takes us back to the dinner I successfully made, tonight: Bacon & Brussel Sprout Spaghetti. Ya, Rly.

        I realised that I needed to clear out as much space in the fridge that was being taken up by the previous weeks’ veggies before tomorrow’s grocery delivery from Spud. It’s amazing how much space an awkwardly shaped veggie can take up in the fridge! Noble Gardens gave us brussel sprouts on the stalk a few weeks ago, and it was so large & unwieldy that I had to chop it in half and share it with Mom & Dad!

        Thank goodness my parents accepted the brussel sprouts offering because we honestly would not have been able to eat the entire stalk’s-worth of sprouts between only the two of us.

        So without further ado, my first recipe posting in absolutely forever so I will have a place to track it back when needed. Super fast, super simple, and super tasty: Five ingredients (most of which I would consider pantry staples), turned into “one pot” meal!

        As a side note: With American Thanksgiving coming up this week, I imagine this would make for a really great use of any turkey day leftovers, especially with some actual leftover turkey on the side!


        Bacon & Brussel Sprout Spaghetti

        1 onion, sliced

        3-4 cloves garlic, sliced

        4 slices bacon, sliced into lardons (matchsticks)

        ~500g brussel sprouts, halved then sliced into ribbons

        1/2 pkg spaghetti

        Olive oil, salt & pepper

        Gouda & parmigiano reggiano, grated (optional additions I would highly recommend)

        In a large pan big enough to accommodate everything at the end, heat the pan on medium heat and add the bacon to render down its fat and a bit of olive oil.
        In a separate pot, boil water and cook your spaghetti.

        Once your bacon has rendered its fat but still soft, add the onions and cook till fragrant and translucent.

        Add the brussel sprouts and sliced garlic to the onions & bacon, season with salt & pepper. Stir fry everything until the sprouts are softened, making sure to evenly mix through the bacon and onions. Make sure to add  a splash or two of water to help deglaze the bottom of the pan, cover and turn heat to low to finish cooking through.

        Once noodles are cooked, drain noodles, reserve a cup of pasta water, then add to the brussel sprouts & bacon.

        Turn off heat, combine until noodles are evenly mixed with sprouts. Add cheese, if using, then cover the pan for a couple of minutes to let the cheese melt, then thoroughly mix through the melty cheese as best you can.

        Serve generously!

        Can we just be done with 2016 already?

        Apologies in advance for the incessant whining:

        Why does this past round of infusions feel so damn hard? My chest hurts so much, breathing is so difficult, I feel so exhausted, and my goodness… I. AM. SO. DAMN. COLD. ALL. THE TIME.

        Why am I wearing woolen socks, a heavy sweater, long sleeved tshirt and an undershirt along with my kitty chemo cap and my sock-mittens to bed?

        (Yesterday’s emotional breakdown in the parking lot outside the registry didn’t help matters either when I discovered there is now a permanent medical flag on my Driver’s license renewal. The implications of what will happen if I can’t renew my license because of my medical conditions just tore me to pieces.

        Seriously, can we just be done with 2016?