Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Baby Wipes

After just a few days home from the hospital we noticed Judah's skin was turning red and raw in the diaper area. I was using a popular commercial wipe that advertised claims such as 'natural', 'unscented' and gentle on sensitive skin. A quick Google search enlightened me regarding the ingredients in these wipes. No wonder he complained! Anyone up for a little carcinogenic, toxic formula in a baby wipe made of melted plastic? Me neither!

Click here for Cosmetics Database info.

I found several recipes for baby wipes online and as per my usual recipe routine, I made my own concoction. Excluding the cost of the paper towels, solution enough for 50 wipes cost $1.75. A container of 62 wipes at Walmart cost $3.97 plus taxes. You can bring the price down even more putting the solution in a bottle and using reusable cloths / baby facecloths.

I tri-folded 60 sheets of the Bounty Select-a-Size paper towels so they fit into an empty baby wipes container and added the baby wipe solution. You can make them unscented or use essential oils deemed safe for baby such as lavender and chamomile. I skipped the oils and used the Dr. Bronner's lavender scented soap which has the essential oils already added. I found the soap at Vita Health but you can also get it at Superstore or on Amazon.

1 tbsp Dr. Bronner's Organic Pure Castile Soap (baby unscented or lavender)
1 tbsp pure aloe vera
1 tbsp coconut oil or grapeseed oil
2 capsules Vitamin E (acts as a preservative)
Boiled or distilled water (I boil water for 5 minutes)

Mix together ingredients and add enough water to make 500mls. Pour over paper towels / cloths and let it soak through for a few hours before using.

Not all paper towels are created equal. I found even with Bounty, depending on where I buy them (Costco vs. grocery store) they are not the same size. Sometimes when making a batch of wipes, I will need slightly more or less paper towels to soak up the liquid.

Over the hot summer, I discovered if I didn't use the wipes fast enough, they smelled a bit rancid. The solution: keep extras in the fridge until you're ready to refill a container.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tortellini Soup

Several people have recently mentioned the fact that I haven't posted any new recipes in a really long time. This is true. Worst pregnancy symptom ever: not enjoying food - the sight of it, the smell of it, the making of it and especially the eating of it. Anyone who tells you morning sickness disappears by 13 weeks is delusional. In fact, the person who invented the term morning sickness is likewise delusional - or cruel. The second worst pregnancy symptom: not liking popcorn. My husband is fully to blame, this being his child who has obviously inherited a disdain for those fluffy, salty, buttery delights.

I'm happy to announce that I will might start food blogging again. I still don't like food but I think "nesting" has kicked in and I feel guilty for not feeding my husband properly.

I found this recipe here but I have torn it to shreds since I disagreed with nearly everything she wrote, except for most of the ingredient list. I was tempted to write about it but I read in Proverbs 10 yesterday that he who slanders others is a fool, so I decided to keep my mouth shut ;)

Olive oil, a generous amount
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried basil (or you could throw in about 1/4 cup fresh at the end)
1/3 cup flour
1 can tomato paste (156ml)
1 can diced tomatoes (796ml), I use unsalted
8 cups chicken broth
Pepper, to taste
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (optional)
1 pkg tortellini, fresh or frozen (750g)
Fresh baby spinach, a few handfuls
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1 cup half and half cream (or milk)
Salt, if needed

    1. Sauté onion, garlic and basil in olive oil, adding the garlic and basil near the end of cooking time as it only needs a minute or so.
    2. Stir in flour and continue cooking for one minute.
    3. Transfer to a cooking pot along with the tomato paste, tomatoes, chicken broth, pepper, chicken (if using) and simmer until heated through or until you are almost ready to eat.
    4. Add tortellini and spinach and simmer another 10 minutes.
    5. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and cream. The original recipe stated to heat the cream before adding it to the soup to prevent curdling. I wonder about this because I put cold cream in hot coffee every day. However, the power of suggestion was strong and I feared losing a whole pot of soup, so I went ahead and warmed it. If you want to live on the edge, try it cold and let me know how it goes. I'm curious.

    I have bags of cooked, shredded chicken (otherwise known as leftover turkey from Christmas) in my freezer. It's very convenient, I must say.

    Update: As the soup cooled it got really thick. I think if I made this again, I would omit the flour. I don't think it is necessary.

    Monday, March 10, 2014

    Guacamole Chicken Melt

    Sometimes different is long as you have a strong minty piece of gum afterwards.

    2 large avocados
    1 tomato, diced
    1/2 to 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
    2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    Juice of half a lime, about 1 tbsp
    Salt, to taste
    4 boneless chicken breasts
    Olive oil
    Creole seasoning
    Pepper Jack cheese, sliced

    1. Make guacamole with avocados, tomato, jalapeño, onion, garlic, lime juice and salt. Chill for a couple of hours to allow the flavours to blend.
    2. Coat chicken with a little olive oil and creole seasoning; grill.
    3. Place grilled chicken in a baking dish and cover with guacamole and cheese slices.
    4. Broil a few minutes until cheese is melted and guacamole is warm.

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Caramelized Onion

    I never thought I like pork until I discovered pork tenderloin and a good meat thermometer. Now I'm hooked.

    2 pork tenderloins
    Montreal Steak Spice 
    4 medium onions, sliced
    2 or 3 apples, peeled and sliced
    3 tbsp olive oil
    Montreal Steak Spice
    2 cups beef stock
    1/2 cup apple juice
    2 tsp cornstarch

    1. Season tenderloins with a generous amount of Montreal Steak Spice.
    2. Grill on a barbecue or roast in the oven at 400 F (200º C) until meat thermometer reads 150 F (65º C). Remove from the grill or oven and wrap in foil for 10 minutes before slicing. Now, don't let the lower temperature scare you. Apparently, it's safe to eat pork at this temperature since pork is not as dangerous as it was in your grandparent's day. Besides, if you leave your thermometer in the meat while it's wrapped in foil, you'll notice the temperature keeps on rising and will hit 160 F, so everyone's happy and Health Canada won't condemn you.
    3. While meat is cooking, cook onions (gently!!) in a skillet for 10 minutes. Add the apples and cook another 10 minutes. You want caramelization, not a burnt offering.
    4. When the onions and apples are done, remove them from the skillet (but keep them warm) and pour the beef stock and apple juice into the same skillet. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until reduced to about 1 cup.
    5. Dissolve cornstarch in a small amount of cold water. Stir into sauce and cook until sauce is thickened. 
    6. Arrange onions and apples onto a platter. Top with the tenderloin slices and drizzle with sauce.

    Tea Biscuits

    I love biscuits! I especially love biscuits with butter, buttermilk, cheese and garlic. My mouth is watering as I type. I'm not kidding. You could make these with margarine but really you should skip the one molecule from plastic and go with the real stuff. I like these with or without cheese and garlic. If you want them plain, also skip the final step of pouring the butter over before they're done baking. What you could do instead, is brush the tops with milk before putting them in the oven. The last time I made these, I skipped the cheddar and in the last five minutes, mixed up some melted butter, garlic and Parmesan and poured over the top. I found it a little salty, so you could probably cut back on the salt in the recipe if you wish. One more thing: when I make the cheese biscuit version, I skip the sugar. You won't miss it.

    2 cups flour
    1 tbsp sugar
    1 tsp salt
    4 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp garlic powder, optional
    1/2 cup butter or margarine
    1 cup grated cheddar, optional
    1 cup cold milk or buttermilk

    1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
    1 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp parsley flakes

    • Mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and garlic powder.
    • Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly, or mix in a food processor for a few seconds.
    • Add cheese.
    • Add milk to make a soft, sticky dough. Sometimes I find the dough is too wet, even though I measure the same way each time, so I have added more flour and no disaster ensued. Try not to over-mix the dough, which could result in tough biscuits.
    • Shape into biscuits and arrange in a greased baking dish. You will find the dough too sticky to roll and cut out the biscuits. Never mind, because I find that method a complete waste of time and energy.
    • Bake at 375° anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your biscuits.
    • Just before they are finished baking, mix together the butter, garlic powder and parsley and pour over the biscuits. Return biscuits to the oven for about 5 minutes.
    • Serve warm!

    Monday, February 17, 2014


    Recipes for chili abound. Everyone has a favourite and this might not be yours, but it's mine! It's completely versatile. It's one of those dishes where any ingredient is optional and all ingredients can be increased or decreased according to one's preference or to what you find on your kitchen shelves. I like it spicy. Are you surprised? The exciting thing about adding jalapeños is you never know what you're going to get in the end. Sometimes I'm breathing fire and other times I resort to adding some crushed red chilies and cayenne pepper at the end. I remember one time I added four large jalapeños, seeds and all, to a pot of chili. It kept me warm all night long. You can use canned kidney beans to save on time but you might end up sleeping alone for the night.

    3 cups dry kidney beans
    2 lbs ground beef
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 onions, chopped
    2 green peppers, chopped
    2 large jalapeños, chopped
    4 cups mushrooms, sliced 
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 cups frozen corn
    1 can brown beans
    1 large can diced tomatoes
    1 can tomato soup
    1 can tomato paste 
    1 large can crushed tomatoes
    1 tbsp basil
    1/4 cup chili powder
    Salt, if needed
    Sugar, if needed
    1. Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse. Cook in salted water until soft - about an hour, sometimes more.
    2. Scramble fry the ground beef with a little salt. Drain fat.
    3. Sauté  onion, peppers, mushrooms and garlic. I usually do the onion and peppers together, adding the garlic near the end because it doesn't take long to cook. Then I sauté the mushrooms by themselves. They don't behave properly with other vegetables. If you wish, you don't need to sauté any of the vegetables. They can go straight to the pot, but sautéing them enhances the flavour and boiled garlic isn't all that palatable, so <gasp> I would substitute garlic powder.
    4. Add all ingredients to a very large pot or crock pot. I prefer a crock pot because I don't want to spend time and energy stirring the chili every ten minutes to keep it from burning on the bottom. You can let it simmer until it's heated through or leave it to simmer for hours. 
    5. Make sure you check the flavour before you're done. You might need more spices or salt depending on the sodium content of your canned ingredients. You also might need to add some sugar if it tastes bitter. I use the canned beans with maple syrup, so sugar isn't necessary.
    6. Whatever you do, don't throw uncooked beans in the pot with the ingredients thinking to save time. You will spend the rest of your life waiting for them to cook. The acid in the tomatoes prevents them from cooking. Ever.

    Friday, February 14, 2014

    Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

    Now this is a perfect afternoon...

    Okay, now before you all get jealous on me, the tea cup was empty, the cookies were still frozen and I was up to my eyeballs in chilli. I made so much I couldn't fit it in the pot. Actually, this happens every time I make chilli, so I should not be surprised. And I have yet to crack open that book.

    These cookies were originally called Ranger Cookies. My mom remembers eating them when she was a wee lass. Not these particular ones, of course. I changed the ingredients considerably, so I thought they should have a new name. That, or the fact I've never seen a ranger or his cookies.

    1 cup butter or margarine
    1 cup white sugar
    1 cup brown sugar
    2 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla
    1 cup white flour
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 cups crisp rice cereal
    2 cups large flake oats
    1 cup unsweetened coconut

    1. Cream butter and sugars.
    2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
    3. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
    4. Get your hands in there and mix in the cereal, oatmeal and coconut.
    5. Drop onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 F (180º C) for 8 minutes.

    The original recipe called for raisins, which I detest in anything baked, but you may not have the same sentiments, so feel free to add some. I cut out some of the sugar from the original recipe. Feel free to experiment there. You could use all white or all whole wheat flour in this recipe. I wouldn't substitute quick oats. It does horrible things to recipes calling for large flake oats. Crisp rice cereal, AKA Rice Krispies. I was trying to be all 'brand name free'. Which leads me another rabbit trail. The No Name version makes for a ghastly batch of Rice Krispies Squares. Don't do it!