Shish Kabobs, Civic Holiday Weekend and Kayaking

Jonathan and I have been busy cooking, swimming and kayaking.  So I haven’t had time to bake any new delicious creations.  I promise to make time for a loaf cake, cupcake or muffin recipe soon.

Last weekend was a Civic holiday in Ontario, so it was a three day weekend.  My parents, Sarah, Jonathan and I were at the cottage enjoying wonderful weather.  Mom made delicious shish kabobs on the barbecue.  Kabobs are an easy meal to prepare and taste delicious.  All you need is: one sliced red onion, one red pepper, one yellow pepper, diced chicken breast, shish kabob sticks, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsalmic vinegar.  First, start by marinating the diced chicken breast in olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Dice your red onion and red and yellow peppers.  Assemble on the shish kabob sticks alternating.  Place on barbecue until cooked fully.  Enjoy with either: rice, warmed pitas, naan, a green salad or combination of a few of those options.  Another important step is to soak the shish kabob sticks in water for about ten minutes so they don’t burn on the barbecue.

The Civic holiday weekend was the end of my parents week of vacation and they seemed a little sad that it was over.  However, they enjoyed the coming and going of cottage neighbours, neighbours from home and their lovely daughters.  Our neighbours from home came up to the cottage and Roger caught a 3.5 pound pickerel, which was fried up on the stove top.  It was a tasty and fresh treat.

I taught Jonathan how to kayak at the cottage.  He seemed to be a natural at it.  I tried to put both of us in the kayak at the same time, but that ended in disaster – resulting in us being tipped in the lake.  At the very least, Jonathan learned how to safely exit a kayak in open water.  Hopefully being tipped into the lake won’t discourage Jonathan from continuing to enjoy the kayak.  Two separate kayaks would have been a better idea.  I think Jonathan is warming up to the kayak, we aren’t ready for a week in Algonquin Park or anything, but maybe some day.

Beau is always on his best behavior at the cottage because he does not want to be left behind.  Here is a picture of him standing beside Jonathan’s new water shoes.  (Yes, Jonathan is starting quite the collection of cottage gear.)

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Spicy Bacon Mac and Cheese

I was trying to brainstorm new ideas for my blog yesterday and my friend Emily suggested a spicy version of mac and cheese.  Jonathan is always asking me to add more spice to things, so I thought I would give it a try.  I added 8 strips of bacon, a teaspoon of crushed chili flakes and 8 drops of Louisiana hot sauce to my tradition mac and cheese recipe.  Well, the flavour was perfect!  It was very easy to add variation to my mac and cheese recipe.  Through adding spices, different ingredients – I made an already amazing recipe, even better!

I made this mac and cheese recipe all the way through university.  I love cooking and baking and it was an easy thing to make.  In second year my roommates Emily, Laura & I had some good times in that little kitchen.  We made cookies, lasagna, mac and cheese and random experiments.  We even managed to clean up – most of the time!  My sister Sarah is going into her second year of university this fall, so hopefully she’ll make a few family favourites such as mac and cheese in her new off-campus apartment.  She will be considered very gourmet, making mac and cheese that is NOT from the box!

Ingredients:

2 cups of uncooked elbow macaroni

¼ cups of butter or margarine

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoons of pepper

1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes

8 drops of Louisiana hot sauce (or hot sauce of your choice)

¼ cup of flour

2 cups of milk

2 cups of cheddar cheese

8 strips of bacon cooked, then torn into bite sized pieces

 Instructions:

Cook bacon and crumble into bite sized pieces.  Blend melted margarine, salt, pepper, crushed chili flakes and flour.  Add milk and stir till bubbling.  Add in cheese and stir.  Add in bacon bits, hot sauce and stir thoroughly.  Cook in oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

The peonies in the backyard are in bloom, so here are a few pictures I took.  Enjoy!

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

I have been craving lasagna for a long time and so last night I made a vegetarian lasagna for the two of us.  Ricotta and spinach is one of my favourite lasagna fillings – it is light, fluffy and the spinach is packed full of iron.  We are both a far stretch from being vegetarian, but every once in a while it’s nice to not rely on meat for our iron and protein.

While I was making the sauce I forgot to add olive oil, but since the cheeses have their own natural oils, I didn’t feel like the sauce was missing anything.  When you are making this lasagna you can feel free to add olive oil and any of your favourite spices that I might be missing.  Jonathan loves spicy food, and he happened to sneak some extra crushed chili flakes into the sauce. (Don’t tell him this, but it was actually pretty tasty with a bit of extra spice – he is slowly converting me.)

Ingredients

1 package of ready to use lasagna sheets

1 680mL jar of tomato puree

1 package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 300mL package of light ricotta

3 cups of mozzarella shredded

½ cup Parmesan

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper x2 (one for the tomato sauce and one for the ricotta mixture)

¼ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon dried basil

¼ teaspoon garlic powder x2 (one for the tomato sauce and one for the ricotta mixture)

¼ teaspoon crushed chili flakes (Jonathan added more, while I was preparing the spinach and ricotta)

Instructions

  1. Bring tomato puree to a boil and add spices, let simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, shred the mozzarella and Parmesan.  Mix together ricotta and thawed, drained spinach.  Add ¼ teaspoon of pepper and garlic powder and mix in thoroughly with ricotta and spinach.
  3. In your casserole dish the first layer will be just a thin layer of tomato sauce.
  4. Add lasagna sheet, cover with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  5. Add lasagna sheet, this layer will be with the spinach and ricotta mixture.  Spread half of the mixture all the way to the edges of the lasagna.  Sprinkle a little extra mozzarella and then add another lasagna sheet.
  6. Alternate layers between sauce with mozzarella and ricotta.
  7. Sprinkle extra sauce on top layer, then add mozzarella and Parmesan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
  9. Let sit for 5 minutes before you slice it, so the pasta can set.