For most of us, this time of year and we are turning ourselves inside out trying to make things nice for Christmas.  The cooking, the shopping, the planning, wrapping, cleaning….painting….(yes we just painted and papered the living room)…on top of your regular work and it’s not a far stretch to get overwhelmed.

We don’t want to resort to feeding our family expensive processed food, or CRAP for short, yet we need meals to be quick and easy.

Tonight, after shopping and doing what has to get done, I did a home made sloppy Joe’s and fries.  So much better than the canned stuff.  You do have to simmer it a bit and stir a bit, but other than that, easy-peasy.




1.5 cups water, divided

1 lb of lean ground beef

1/2 bell pepper (green, yellow, orange, red ~doesn’t matter) chopped.

1/2 medium sized onion chopped

3/4 cups ketchup

2 tbsp packed brown sugar

2 tbsp garlic powder (heaping if you love garlic)

1 tbsp onion powder (don’t have to have this, but it’s nice if you do)

1 tsp Dijon mustard (if you don’t have dijon any mustard will do)

dash Worcestershire

1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt (to taste)

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/8th tsp cayenne (or more depending on your taste for heat)

Okay, here goes:

Saute your onion and bell pepper in some butter in a fry pan until the onion starts to get a a bit soft.

Add the hamburger and work with a fork until there are no big lumps.  Brown this up a bit.  Add half the water.  Stir it well.  Let it simmer a few moments.

In a bowl combine all the other ingredients.  All of them.  Make sure you don’t miss any.  Mix them up well, including the other half of water.

Stir this into your fry pan with the meat mixture.

Simmer, not boil all of this on a medium low heat stirring occasionally.  Simmer roughly about 30 – 40 minutes until it’s nice and thick like in the picture.  Taste and adjust your salt, pepper and cayenne. (some like it hot, some not)

Toast your buns during this time.

We have this with french fries.  I have a deep fryer but you can oven cook your fries or make home fries in a fry pan or have soup with this.  Or a beer and nothing else.  Depending on your mood and needs.

Trust me, this is delicious.



Belgian Endive (witlof) Casserole ~with zing!

Good morning my friends!  Welcome to my blog.  Today I want to share with you a recipe that I found on line, I’ve read a few versions of this wonderful dish and wanted to offer you my own variation.



2 lbs of potatoes peeled

2 heaping tbsp of Dijon mustard

1/4 cup cream

1/4 butter

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

6 medium Belgian Endive (witlof)

6 larges slices of black forest ham (if your slices are very thin double)

2 to 3 cups of shredded gouda cheese, or white cheddar cheese, or a mix of Monterrey jack, cheddar and some mozzarella.  I’ve used a few versions now and all are very nice.  I also like cheese so I go the three cups.

Method: (easy)

Boil your potatoes until fork tender.

While they are boiling, wash your endive, and cut them from top to bottom into 4 quarters.  Take out the nasty core.

Scoop potatoes out of water and put into a bowl.

Toss your quartered Endive into the hot boiling potato water.  Bring back to boil and boil them for 3 minutes.  Remove from water to a colander and let drain.

Now, add to the potatoes the Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, cream and butter and mash well.

Now line the bottom of an 8 by 10 baking dish (or close to that size) with the mashed potato mixture.

Next, on top of the potato mixture place your ham slices until all of the potato is covered.

Then, in a single layer place your belgian endive quarters.

Then on top of that put your lovely cheese.

Bake at 400 F for about 1/2 hour or until cheese is bubbly and browning a bit.

You and your family will love it.

Oma’s Crackle Chicken (a new spin)

This one is so delicious I have to share!!!  


Dry Rub ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup Hungarian paprika (not hot!)

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. onion powder

1 tbsp (heaping) garlic powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp chipotle powder

1/2 tsp cumin

Other ingredients:

Sprigs of fresh thyme, oregano, sage.

Three cloves of garlic smashed

One onion quartered

One cut up celery stock

2 healthy tbsps of butter

One can of ginger ale.  (yup, so much better than beer)

~preheat your oven to 425 F.

Take all of the above dry rub ingredients and mix well together.  I use my hands and try to really infuse them together, the sugar helps this.

Next, take your chicken, about a 5 lb or more bird and rinse well and pat dry.  Tie the wings straight down the back. In the ‘other ingredients’, put everything except the butter and can of ginger ale inside the bird’s cavity.  Put the chicken over your can of half full ginger ale.  If you don’t have a way to affix this so it will say upright, that’s okay.  Make sure you have a rack in your roasting pan and pour the entire can of ginger ale in the bottom.  Now, tie the legs together. Gently lift small areas of the skin over the breast and legs and put in your butter. I use a small tablespoon to do this. Make sure you put the skin back and keep as much skin on as you can as it’s key to a tender meat.   Take your time and really rub and pat the dry rub into and onto your bird.  Patting it in place will help make it stick.

Carefully put your chicken in the hot oven.  Set timer for 25 minutes.  When timer goes, turn heat down to 225.  Slow roast her as long as you want.  I left my bird in for a few hours.  Check the temperature.  If you’ve hit the 165 mark testing inside the thighs and breast (take temperature in several areas to be sure) then turn your heat down to 200 and just let it go.

My husband and son raved about this chicken.  It’s a new variation of my old crackle chicken and they absolutely loved it.

Feel free to ask any questions…hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Thanks for stopping by.



Although I can all through the year, this is the time where it can become all consuming and a full time job.  If you aren’t in the throws of doing it, you are thinking about it and making plans.

Last week I finished stocking up my beef and chicken broths to make sure I had it on hand and now I’m going full tilt into the fresh local offerings and of course from our own garden.  If I can’t can it, I freeze it.

So far I’ve got my strawberry jam done for the year and I just finished two batches of blueberry.  I have three ten pound buckets of local cherries on order.  1/3 will become jam, 1/3 will become pie filling and the final third will be canned in alight syrup to be eaten straight out of the jar.

As I move through my canning I promise I will post and make pictures, even videos.  I am learning this new software for my blog…so be patient with me.  Old dogs can learn new tricks, but just a bit slower at times.

Blueberry JamFresh blueberry jam.  Enough for the entire year.

I try to keep my canning and freezing to what we will use for the year.  This year I did pretty good.  I just ran out of green beans, I have one jar of corn left and only six quarts of tomatoes left.  As a scratch cooker having only six jars of tomatoes is very little.

I use only safe recipes for my canning.  Tested recipes and have learned that some things can be varied for personal taste, like with spices and flavourings of broths but that’s about it.  You have to stay true to the tested recipe and method to keep your family and loved ones safe.  I know that your grannies did it one way and ‘nobody died’ (as far as you know) but why take the chance.  Botulism kills.  When I was a child, I used to ride in my parents car laying in the back window.  Nobody died, well at least not in my family.  Today you wouldn’t even think of letting a child ride like that.  It’s the same with canning.  I don’t like vomiting.  I don’t like diarrhea.  And, I certainly do not want to kill anyone from botulism.  Tested, safe recipes are the way to go.  Bernardin, Ball or NCHFP (National Center for Home Preserving).

Stay safe and stay tuned.  Thank you so much for checking out my blog.  ~Leasa

New Laptop, new format, OH MY!

Well today I finally bit the bullet and decided to use this laptop to publish to my blog.  I miss the easy format that was built into my old laptop.  But this doesn’t seem too bad.  I’ll get used to it, I always do.

Today I started a new beef bone roast, half will end up as plain rich broth and the other half will be for canned onion soup.  Should be ready for the Pressure Canner on Monday or Tuesday, depending how nicely the colour comes along and richness.  Should be Monday, as I did add two shank steaks to the group and lots of marrow bones.

I’ll keep this one short as I still have to figure out how to put images into the text area here.  Ummmm.  I feel challenged.11011005_10153764690355616_8291036938378817270_n

I’ll keep you posted on the bone progress….

Thanks for visiting and your patience.


Butter Chicken with Naan.

Today was a very blustery cold day.  Tomorrow, we will see a high of –17 Celsius.  Perfect weather for having a slow cooker full of butter chicken sending warm vibes throughout he house all afternoon? 

I had made naan but one time before, with hummus.   You can see on an earlier post where I had learned to make hummus and naan in one day.  The naan I made before was so fun to learn to make.  We ate it with the hummus and following the next day, I had made a roast beef salad to roll into the left over naan for lunch.  Very different and quite yummy. 

Butter Chicken 009

Today, I decided I wanted to go more authentic with my hummus, so I made a scratch butter chicken. 

Butter Chicken 010

Butter Chicken 011

To accompany my butter chicken and rice with naan I did an almond garlic green bean.  I used my cast iron pan after I finished the naan.  Sauté butter, garlic and almond slivers in butter, add bread crumbs, continue to sauté until crumbs have browned a bit, add green beans, continue stirring until beans are coated and hot through.  When serving add freshly shaved parmesan.  

The following is my recipe for the butter chicken in the slow cooker:

Mix in an ingredients bowl: 3 tps tandoori masala, 3/4 tsp salt, 2 tsp curry powder, 1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, cumin, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, ground ginger and 1.5 tbsp ground garlic and cayenne pepper to taste I use about half teaspoon. (you can use fresh where ever you would like or can). Okay, in a large fry pan, put in 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, 3 tbsp of peanut oil, add one whole finely chopped onion cook tender, heat on medium until all is well blended. Now, whisk in 1 can of tomato paste cook until well blended. Next whisk in one can of coconut milk. Again blend and cook until well blended and sauce is beginning to meld. Now, whisk in a good quality sour cream 1 full container or two cups. Whisk again until…yes well blended and starting to thicken. Now, inhale. Get excited. Now blend in your spices….cook, thicken, inhale… Okay turn heat to low. Leave it alone. Take 3 enormous chicken breasts or 4 regular big ones and cut into nice chunks (not too small as you don’t want them to disappear) about 3 inches by 2. Lay your chunks in the heated slow cooker (did I say earlier to warm it up?) Now pour on your sauce…. Now let it go on high for about 2 hours and then turn to low for the rest of the day. Open a bottle of wine. Drink some wine while making fresh naan. A bout 45 mins before supper make your rice and beans. Do a happy dance.

And yes, the happy dance is mandatory. 

Click on the pics for the full zoom , use your back space to return to my place.  Hope you enjoyed your stay and any questions….just ask. 

Baked Agnolotti Stuffed with Ricotta.

We love homemade pasta.  There is nothing more tender and delightful.  Tonight I took the time to make the pasta for agnolotti with a ricotta stuffing.  Agnolottis is simply homemade pasta cut into large rounds about 4 inches in diameter, filled and folded in half.  So you have these cool looking half moon fat delicious pastas that are to die for. Nothing compares. 

My filling for these pastas is with a real traditional ricotta, 2 lbs. , one egg, a good tablespoon of dried powdered garlic, 1/4 tsp of cayenne, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp of dried parsley, all mixed well and dropped on the pasta rounds by about a tbsp each.  I brushed my pasta with warm water and used a fork to seal the half circles. 

I cooked my agnolotti after they are filled and sealed in salted rapid boiling water for about 6 minutes.  Drained.  Then put them in a baking dish that had olive oil on the bottom.  Then I very gently mixed in my favourite tomato meat sauce in.  I topped this with a good generous layer of mozzarella cheese (hand grated no pre-shredded wood coated crap).  Then I baked this at 400 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes, until it bubbled and lightly browned.

001Just out of the oven.


This was perfect.  Absolutely perfect. 


I kept going with my pasta and filling until all was used.  Happy to say there was some left over.  I froze these on a cookie sheet then gently vac-packed them for a couple of future meals.  When vac-packing, pay attention and don’t let it crush them.  Hit the seal button manually. 

Hope you enjoyed your time here.  Any questions, just ask and don’t forget to click the pictures for the full view.  Hit the back button to return.  Thanks for stopping by. 

Did it! Hummus and Naan

For months I had dried chickpeas in the house.  For months I’ve been intending to make hummus.  I have a little grandson who loves hummus.  It’s one of those things for me, that even though I knew it was simple, I felt intimidated.  Well, yesterday, I jumped in with both feet. 

The hummus was a snap, until I realized I didn’t have any of the tahini sauce in the house that all hummus recipes called for.  Tahini sauce?  I had never heard of it.  So, off I went into the land of the interwebs to find out what tahini sauce was.  At first all I could find was that tahini sauce was very expensive and some people substituted peanut butter.  Ummmm.  Too easy. So I searched ‘homemade tahini’ and BAM!, there it was.  It was so amazingly simple.  Off I went to get my sesame seeds.  I made two cups of tahini sauce for about $3 which was just enough to put into my 8 cups of hummus.


Soak 4 cups of sorted rinsed dried chickpeas over night.  Drain, cover in clean water. Gently simmer chickpeas until nice and soft.  Drain.  Let cool a bit.  Put in food processor with two tbsp garlic, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp salt, 3 tbsp olive oil (to start).  Process on high stopping to scrap sides frequently.  You can add more olive oil if you need to if it’s too thick.


2 cups sesame seeds, toast them gently without burning either in the oven or in a heavy fry pan, I bought mine already toasted.  Put the seeds in your food processor.  Process on high adding olive oil until you get a nice consistency.

Mix tahini into the hummus.  Done.

Did it 016naan in my cast iron pan

Some very nice friends recommended I needed to have naan bread to go with this hummus.  They were right.  I have now learned to make homemade hummus and naan.  It’s been a good week.

Did it 021naan, chickpeas and hummus

Mushroom Mania.

I have been wanting to pressure can some mushrooms for quite some time.  I love adding mushrooms to so many recipes.  I mean, what isn’t good with mushrooms?  I try to keep some fresh mushrooms in the house, but when I go to use them they are either all gone or turning bad on me.  Sometimes they turn very quickly.  So, I wanted to can some fresh Ontario mushrooms and that is what I’ve done.  One of our local grocery stores had beautiful fresh local mushrooms at a really good sale price, so I jumped in the car and after making the employee go to the back and get me the freshest ones there…I went home with a total of 12 pounds! <they actually cut me off at the two cases Winking smile

'shrooms 005

Before I get to my lovely home canned mushrooms, I want to talk stems.   I wanted my mushrooms to look nice in the jars so I removed all or most of the stems.  When I finished washing and trimming my mushrooms I realized I had an easy two pounds of mushroom stems and pieces left over.  ~waste not, want not’~ right?

'shrooms 010

After filling my canning jars I had not quite a pint left over of mushrooms.  I had saved some of the lovely juices from the 10 minute boil in my canning recipe.  I added to this in the stock pot all of these wonderful stems.  I then added a good half cup or more of butter and a healthy cup of chopped onions.  I cooked this all down and added fresh pepper and a bit of salt.  As it got thicker and creamy all on it’s own, I added a quart of my home canned chicken broth and using my emersion blender made it all nice and smooth.  I then added some half and half cream and some milk and let it continue to thicken with a low heat.

'shrooms 012

So, what do I do with about 4 quarts of creamy, dreamy fresh mushroom soup?  I 1 two-thirds filled pint mason jars with the hot goodness and added spoons and took them to my employees, stopped production and got to see them enjoy this treat.  I had remembered that we had real mushroom lovers out there.  One of which is my aunt, who used to when she was a child have a family run mushroom farm is absolutely crazy about mushrooms. 

'shrooms 013'shrooms 014'shrooms 017'shrooms 015So here are the pictures of my lovely ***canned mushrooms.  They turned out absolutely perfect and I know I will enjoy always having them when I need them.  Thanks for visiting my blog, hope you enjoyed what I have to offer. (click the pics for a close up view)

***I also have to say, that these were pressure canned and all safety guidelines were strictly adhered to.  They were washed, dipped in water and lemon juice (to keep colour nice), rinsed, trimmed, rinsed, put into a deep clean stock pot covered with clean water, boiled for 10 minutes, drained (held back some of this water for soup), packed in clean jars, each jar then had clean boiling water added to 1 inch head space, air taken out, rims of jars cleaned with a clean cloth dampened with vinegar, lids placed and and in the canner with canner lid shut, vented for 10 minutes, then weighted, brought to pressure and timed for 45 minutes.  *** HOME CANNING IS THE WAY TO GO, BUT PLEASE DO IT SAFELY.