Simple Tuna Cakes

Once in a while beans and tofu just don’t cut it so we decide to ‘treat’ ourselves to fish for dinner. We don’t eat tuna very often because I worry about the impact of it. We buy pole and line caught, but I think it still it something that needs to be eaten in great moderation. We usually just eat it fairly plain, but in order to stretch it out, I made it into simple cakes.

In a bowl I put a few squirts of dijon mustard, a few squirts of lemon juice, a bit of olive oil, some parsley, and two small eggs. I added two cans of tuna and a few spoonfuls of the juice from the cans (don’t tell the cats, but I didn’t give them all of it). I mixed this all together than added bread crumbs to hold it together nicely. I covered it and put in the fridge for about an hour.

Once the rest of dinner was nearly ready, I took the tuna mixture out, heated a bit of oil in a pan and using my hands formed little patties. I made 8, but you can do whatever feels right. I smooshed them down with the of the spatula to make them a little flatter and left them for about 2 minutes on each side.

We ate them with a sauce made from mayo, dill and a tiny bit of regular old relish. They were really good!

I forgot to take a picture until I was about to eat, so it is terrible, but at least you get the idea.

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Grocery Budget

We don’t really usually keep track of how much we spend on groceries. That being said, we are very careful about what we buy. We almost never buy food (other than a few staple items) unless on sale. We also buy very little processed foods. I’ve decided to keep track of our food costs this month so that I can see what how much we spend and so that we can potentially set a monthly grocery limit.

So, here are our total from this week was $48.12.

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We went to three stores. I don’t have a picture of our Costco receipt, but we bought 6 cans of pole caught tuna for $10.99. This week was definitely not the norm as most of what we bought was not fruits and vegetables. There were a lot of sales on staple items and we already had enough vegetables in the fridge. Also, we try to buy our produce from a local market in the fall, rather than from the grocery store (obviously, this doesn’t apply to bananas, pineapples or avocados!)

At the end of the month (after we see how we did) I will share some tips for saving money at the grocery store!

Halloween Dinner

I really wanted to make a super cute Halloween treat to show you. It didn’t turn out so great, so we also made a back-up recipe. I will share both.

Here’s the first:

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They are candy corn cookies. I followed this recipe, but I didn’t use food dye (I can never make orange, it always comes out pink, since I refuse to use the 75 drops of food colouring, or whatever it is). I used turmeric for the yellow and Kurt’s cheese colouring for the orange (it comes from some sort of seed), but you can easily use carrot juice.

The loaf pan I used was far too big. I realized this when I cut my cookies and they were only slightly bigger than real life candy corn. Some I baked as they were, others we smooshed down flat to make them a bit bigger, but much wonkier looking.

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They look strange, but they are still cute and they taste good, I promise!

Onto number two. This is for a savory Halloween (or just Fall) dish. Pumpkin gnocchi.

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Gnocchi is easy to make, but does take quite a bit of hands on time. The first step is either to roast a pumpkin, or used canned pumpkin. Once you have your pumpkin puree, you just need to add flour until it gets a dough like consistency. Then you roll out small bits into thin snakes and cut it up into bit size chunks. If you are feeling particularly fancy you can roll a fork over it to make little lines for the sauce to cling to.

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For sauce, we just used a simple creamy sage sauce, but the gnocchi is fairly bland so next time I would use either a tomato sauce, or something else flavourful.

Happy Halloween everyone!

A Short Trip to Ottawa

Last weekend we decided to take a little trip to our Nation’s capital. Though it rained and was cold, we managed to have a great time! We went to an antique show, the Byward market (a large indoor/outdoor market), toured Parliament and visited with an old friend. I forgot my camera, so these pictures were taken with my phone.

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Lunch, chili poutine and a chocolate milkshake. I ate the whole thing.

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Parliamentary Library.

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Having some tea with my fellow suffragettes.

It’s so nice to take little weekend trips that don’t require much planning, time or money. It is still fun and relaxing. Sometimes they provide the perfect change of pace we all need.

Seasonal/Holiday Decorating

I would love to have a house that changes with the season. The only problem is, the thought of storing all that holiday stuff the rest of the year makes me cringe. I remember every year hauling my Mom’s giant and plentiful Christmas decoration boxes out of the basement only to have to pack it up and haul it all back down a few short weeks later. Ugh. I think there is an alternative.

I prefer decorations that can magically go away at the end of the holiday or season. I’m not talking about throwing them away. I mean using things that can either be eaten, go back to nature, return to the recycling bin or just stay around and serve another purpose.

For a Christmas tree, for example, we use a little potted evergreen tree. At Christmas time we make some simple decorations to adorn it (stringed popcorn, paper stars, etc). In January, the stuff comes off and it’s just a regular, non-Christmas tree. It can be enjoyed all year round.

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For Fall we usually just keep some squashed arranged nicely on the table. We eat them and replace them as the season goes by. This year I upped my game and added some bright leaves and little pine cones to the display. And when the season changes, the squash all get eaten, or moved to cold storage.

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We also carve pumpkins, of course. Those can be composted afterwards.

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The one addition I would like to make is a wreath for the front door. I would like one that I would weave things into (ie. leaves, garland, flowers), and be able to change for each season. I haven’t come across anything cheap yet, but there is already a hook waiting for it on the door (it was here when we moved it), so I’m still keeping my eyes open!

How do you like to decorate for the seasons? Does storing things that only get used briefly bum you out too? Maybe it’s just me!

Pumpkin Puree

I love pumpkins, squashes and gourds. I just think they are so beautiful. They are also super healthy and tasty.

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An easy way to enjoy these benefits year round is by pureeing your own pumpkin. It’s super easy. All you have to do is cut the pumpkin in half, clean out the guts using the side of a spoon (keep the seeds to roast, feed the yucky stringy parts to your worms if you have them, they will turn a lovely orange). Cut the clean halves up into chunks and roast them on baking sheets at 350 for about 45 minutes, or until tender. Then, once its cool, just peel the skin off and puree in batches in a blender or food processor. You can either use it right away in your favourite pumpkin recipe, or freeze it for later

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Why make it if you can just buy it? It literally takes minutes of actual work, plus pumpkins are dirt cheap in the fall, and this way, I actually end up using the pumpkin. It goes like this: I think, gee I would like to bake/cook something, I have pumpkin, perhaps I should use that and I end up with a delicious and healthy product. Otherwise I would look at a recipe and say, nope no pumpkin in the house, and move on to another idea.

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Another great reason is that most people don’t realize how easy it is, so if you serve them pumpkin pie and say you made it completely from scratch, from pumpkins, they are really impressed.

Easy Whatever Muffins

I like making muffins, but I hate following recipes. Muffins usually are the type of thing where you need to closely follow a recipe in order for them to turn out. I’ve had a lot of muffin failures by making things up as I go, or trying to make substitutions.

Recently, however, I found a fairly fool proof method for muffins.

1 cup of wet stuff (in my case a mix of mashed bananas and grated zucchini, but could be pumpkin, carrot or applesauce…or whatever)
1 egg
a generous squirt of vanilla
1/3 cup of sugar (give or take)
mix these together then,
half a cup of oats (or something similar or just extra flour)
1 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
mix all this together
then add to the first mixture and mix, just as much as needed, don’t go crazy
add nuts or chocolate chips or whatever is lying around
put into muffin holding device (I use silicon muffin cups because I HATE washing muffin tins)
bake for about 25-30 minutes at 350, poke to check for doneness

I like this recipe because I can change and modify it whatever way and it still seems to work. Also, I just need to remember the basic ratio and not have to check a recipe every time.

Have some old fruit lying around, give it a try! If you come up with any great additions/combinations, let me know!