Archive | May, 2011

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

31 May

I love finding recipes that are easy and delicious enough to be make-againable.  This is definitely one that will be joining my regular rotation and probably becoming one of my go-to recipes when I need to bring someone a freezer meal!  The recipe doubles easily, and you can cook the taquitos from frozen in about 25 minutes.  They taste just like those taquitos you buy in a box for $10 or something equally ridiculous, and these don’t have your entire day’s sodium content in two little rolls.

After making them, a couple people randomly mentioned they had made the same thing that week so I clearly wasn’t the only one who thought these looked good!

I’ve made these a couple times now and the filling ingredients are super flexible, another feature of a great recipe for those of us whose grocery list is sometimes less than perfectly planned.  Adjust the spices to your taste and the number of kids eating with you – Gemma is not a fan of spice so I take out some of the mixture before throwing in the jalapeno and chili powder.

Also, I liked them with regular cream cheese but Carl and my mother-in-law are strongly anti-cream cheese so when I made this for them I substituted a combination of vegetable cream cheese spread and ranch dressing (this blog makes me give away all my secrets, after swearing to them both there was no cream cheese present 😉 ).  I have found in general that the flavoured cream cheese spreads, especially vegetable or herb and garlic flavour, give the same creaminess I’m looking for but don’t have that distinct “cream cheese” taste and they have saved me many a time.  Just don’t try this trick on your next cheesecake.

And make sure you line your baking sheet with foil or parchment paper since there is cheesy spillage and that stuff is a you-know-what to clean off.


3 oz cream cheese, softened (or substitute Ranch dressing)

1/4 cup salsa

1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin (this is what really makes them taste like the store-bought taquitos!)

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

3 tbsp chopped parsley

2 green onions, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup chopped red or yellow pepper

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or finely diced

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

12 6″ flour tortillas

Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 425.

In large bowl, combine all ingredients except tortillas and cooking spray, mixing until very well combined.          Microwave tortillas for 20 seconds to make rolling easier, then spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of filling down the middle  of each tortilla.  Roll tortillas up tightly and place seam-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray (this helps them brown and crisp).  At this point, you could freeze the taquitos and cook from frozen another day, or bake for 15-20 minutes until crisp and golden brown.  Serve with sour cream.

Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats.

Are you wearing pants? Don’t be so sure…

28 May
Many thanks to Chelsea, via Char, for bringing this hilariously helpful chart to my attention!
This should clear up any questions you may have had 🙂

Good-bye Oprah…see you in the next election

26 May

Well, the end of the Oprah show is the end of an era of sorts.

For me, Oprah was never really anything more than a channel to turn to while Ellen was in commercials.  I couldn’t even commit to the whole finale show yesterday with the adorable and amazingly well-spoken Justin Bieber dominating the Ellen show.  If I was 16…but I digress.

I do recognize though, as I think everyone should, the impact and clout Oprah wields.  Yes, she has a crack team of employees finding women abused by 18 men who have chosen to have a sex change and become a man themselves, or whole families of people missing limbs but thriving as baseball players, and other such heart-warming fare.  She gives people cars and trips to Australia and talks about a book or other product and gets everyone to buy it and love it too.

However, she herself has something special, or she never would have made it as far as she did.  Her voice is just the right pitch and timbre, her eye contact is spectacular, her ability to tear up prettily is uncanny and her ups and downs with her weight make her identifiable where she could be too amazing to relate to.

She says she wants to end the show to move on to other things, and she will still be very involved in media with her own television network starting up.  But I think this is a temporary cover-up.

I’m quite sure we’ll soon see her running for President of the United States.

There’s been talk before of people wanting her to, and really, she’s done almost everything there is to do, or at least has the money to do whatever there is to do, so I’m sure she’ll be bored soon.  And she truly does seem to have people’s best interests at heart and a genuine interest in American families, and women make up about half the voting population and I’m sure a few could convince their husbands to go along with them…I think she has a legitimate shot.

Obama was the first African American President, but Oprah will do one or two better – First African American female president, and first female president ever.  It’s only a matter of time.

So if you were or are an American, would you vote for her?

I disagree with her on a lot of things, but I think I would.

Sometimes I love being a forgetful procrastinator

25 May

For the most part being forgetful is frustrating and potentially awkward.

Some such times:

-when writing an exam

-when telling people your children’s names

-when at the grocery store trying to remember ingredients necessary for dinner


The same is true of being a procrastinator.

Some such times:

-when cramming madly for the afternoon’s exam

-when realizing you are in labour and have yet to settle on baby names

-when at the grocery store at the last minute buying ingredients for dinner


However, there are times when I love both my forgetful and procrastinating natures.

Laundry is that time.

I seem to have accumulated a lot of clothes, especially tops, that are of a cold-water-wash, hang-to-dry, delicate-cycle nature.  All of these requirements mean they come after things like sheets, towels, baby clothes, bibs, dishcloths, socks and underwear in the grand scheme of that-which-I-shall-deem-worthy-of-washing-this-week.

Also, hanging up all those wet, freezing cold clothes is icky.  

Since most of these clothes are mine the complaint department static is minimal, further contributing to procrastination.  (On the rare occasion the other people ’round here speak up re: laundry turnover speed, their clothes get thrown in the next load regardless of colour, water temperature and shrinkage concerns, putting a rather quick kibosh on future dissent).

So. By the time I DO get around to this special, separate basket of laundry tucked in the neglected corner of my bedroom under a spare kitchen chair, it is an event where that forgetfulness and procrastination pay off.  By the time I do this laundry I am spending every morning staring into my closet thinking that common thought: “I have NOTHING to wear.”  

After about a week of this moping I do my laundry.  

Every time, I am amazed at the things that come out of that seemingly small basket.  For instance, I bought four new shirts and some new capris this month since last summer all I wore was maternity shirts and the summer before that I have no idea what I was wearing.  Presumably something, but nothing that fits these days.  I wore them all then put them in this hidden basket.  As you can imagine, having worn them only once, possibly even for only half a day depending on the timing of Kristoph’s launched leftovers, these clothes barely had a chance to register in my mind.

Doing my cold-water, delicate-cycle laundry is like going shopping and filling my closet with ALL NEW THINGS, without having to take my teeth to any tags.  

Tomorrow the cycle begins again.  I am looking forward to a fashionable few weeks, followed by a less fashionable few weeks, followed by this fabulous fake-shopping experience all over again.

In other clothing news, when the pickings were slim look what I pulled out:

The train made housework a bit challenging, and it was just a reminder of the ironing I needed to do so it went back to its box home, but hey, it fits!  And Gemma asked me if I was a princess and alternated between staring at me and hugging me which made it all worth the severely sucked-in breath.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

23 May

My Elder Sister recommended this book to me ages ago, and I’ve had it out of the library before and had to return it before reading it, so this time when the due date (tomorrow) rolled around and I had yet to pick it up till yesterday, I was determined to get ‘er done. 

This book was (obviously) a nice quick read, and easy to get into, and I loved learning about the old Chinese culture, frustrating and airless as it may have been.  The female characters were vivid, despite living out the vast majority of their lives in upper chambers, busy embroidering and chatting, unable to walk far and having no place outside the home even if they could.  The description of footbinding will set your teeth on edge and make you curl your toes and wonder how your foot could be convinced to be a mere 7 cm long, while at the same time you feel your unaltered feet suddenly do look like “flapping fish, freshly caught”.  The rules surrounding the proper way of doing absolutely everything are mind-boggling, as is the placid acceptance of women of their fate.  The description of the use of “nu shu”, a language known only to women, was interesting to my linguistics side, as it is the only record of any such language in history.      

I had no idea this is now a major motion picture!  If they include the sound of all those little girls’ toes snapping under their own body weight, I’m out.  But I do recommend reading the book, and if you’re of a stronger stomach when it comes to watching suffering, watch the movie and let me know what it’s like.  

This video gives an interesting take on footbinding…


Saturday Sweets: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

21 May

Even more cookies!

When you make cookies every week or so, you can easily get stuck in a rut of making the same ones, so you need a LOT of great recipes to cycle through to keep everyone on their toes.  I think plain ol’ chocolate chip cookies are probably my favourite food ever, and recently I updated my only-food-for-the-rest-of-my-life choice to cookies…this is a constant dilemma in my mind between cheese, soup, berries and cookies, but for now the cookies are on top.  

If YOU could choose only one food you had to eat for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

I hope this doesn’t keep you up at night like it does me.

Anyways, in the one-food-for-rest-of-life scenario, I am torn as to whether that means I have to choose ONE cookie (or soup, cheese, berry), or if that means anything that is any kind of cookie.  Obviously this makes a big difference in the choosing. In the cookie department, assuming it is a cruel. cruel world I find myself in and have to choose only one variety, I am torn between the plain ol’ chocolate chip cookies and these cookies.  

Try them and tell me what you think…these definitely have more health value and would probably sustain me longer, but the saltiness of the peanut butter is troublesomely addictive, and if my cruel world also comes sans freezer there might be trouble of the waistband variety.


1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter (not low fat)

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375.  Mix flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.  Beat butter, sugars and peanut butter in large bowl on medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.                                                                                                                                                                     Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough, 2″ apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges.  Cool 1 minute on pan, then remove to racks to cool completely.  

Mmmm…chewy and salty and sweet and practically breakfast thanks to the oats and peanut butter.  Enjoy!

I wish it was market day

19 May

Sunny spring mornings like this, when Carl doesn’t have to work till the afternoon and everyone is well-rested, make me miss Ottawa.  

A morning like this would almost certainly mean making the 10-minute jaunt to downtown to enjoy a beautiful 20 minute walk along the canal to Byward Market where we could enjoy the atmosphere and pick up reams of fresh fruits and veggies for the week.

Nothing beats buying berries like this, and peppers, rhubarb, asparagus, beans, cauliflower, potatoes…I could go on.  Suffice to say we always went home with the basket of our stroller jam-packed with fresh, local, pesticide free goodness for lower prices than the grocery store.  

I crave the market on mornings like this.

And then we would ogle the colourful flowers that would never survive in our dark little apartment.

And then we would stop at the bakery on the corner for a loaf of fresh bread to enjoy with our dinner of fresh veggies.

Coincidentally, the same bakery President Obama stopped in while visiting the capital.  They continue to profit off “Obama cookies”, and will for many years I’m sure.

Then we would wander over to Parliament Hill and relax in the sunshine with our bald little baby.  


If you ever get the chance, visit Ottawa, and go to the Byward Market too.  You’ll love it.

There are some pretty special people o’er dere too to miss.

Abbotsford, you fail me on mornings like this.

My Stroke of Insight

18 May

My Stroke Of Insight - A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey 

I’ve been reading this book for Book Club (if you’re Katy or Deanna, stop reading now or read away and skip reading the book!) and I had high expectations, which can never be a good thing going into either a book or a movie.  I’ve learned it’s much better to be pleasantly surprised by how good something is than disappointed by how less-than-good it is.

This book has all the makings of goodness – a positive message about the renewal capacity of the brain, the benefits of an optimistic outlook and the importance and availability of compassion and empathy.

If only it wasn’t written by this lady.  I hesitate to critique an autobiography by someone who has done so much, and I’m sure she’s lovely in person and her story is truly amazing: she’s a neuroanatomist (brain scientist, essentially) who suffered a stroke at the age of 37 and watched both the unraveling and restitching of her own mind over 8 years with a kind of scientific curiosity.  She writes to try to raise understanding in stroke victims and their caregivers, and her personal experience could definitely allow her to be a good voice for that.

However, the writing.  UGH, my friends.  

The book is unnecessarily science-y for what it sets out to do, which is let people know how someone with a stroke feels and what is most useful in reaching full recovery.  The average person wanting to help their own mind or someone they know will not make it past Chapter 2.  I am a stick-to-itty, read-it-all-once-I’ve-started reader and even I was skipping huge chunks of boringness, which is saying something since I find the brain and brain science fascinating. 

Once you get past the brain anatomy lesson and feel you will not pass any imminent test, the story gets painfully redundant, and feels rather self-indulgent.  Really, if she had talked about feeling like a liquid who was at one with the universe one more time…

If only both during and after recovery she didn’t continually mention the value of and need for “appropriate touch”, which only brings to mind the possibility of people inappropriately touching the mentally ill or mentally damaged, where if she had just said “touch” or “physical contact” I would have gotten it just fine.

And then she says things like “I unconditionally love my cells with an open heart and grateful mind.  Spontaneously throughout the day, I acknowledge their existence and enthusiastically cheer them on…When my bowels move, I cheer my cells for clearing that waste out of my body.  When my urine flows, I admire the volume my bladder cells are capable of storing”.

While I admire your enthusiasm Jill, I do not want to be your friend.

There are a couple of good back-to-back chapters that kept me going, along with the fact that I wanted to be able to discuss the book somewhat intelligently in a couple weeks, but I’m not recommending you go out and add it to your bookshelf unless you or someone you know has in fact experienced a stroke, and then you can read the 3 appendix pages and get some really valuable information.  

If you can ignore her slightly (maybe more than slightly) annoying way of describing her experiences and own personal brilliance and slightly overboard love for her (now deceased) dog, you might want to read the rest…just enjoy the premise that we are all capable of being more caring and compassionate, more positive, and more able than we realize to recover from a massive blow to our brains.

That message is certainly worth spreading as the plasticity and capacity to recover of the human brain is truly incredible, but surely someone can rewrite this with jokes a little less nerdy and science a little less boring?                

Also, I missed my bright green blog.  You may have noticed. 

Hide & Seek

17 May

Can you tell what’s what?

Apparently my taste in home decor is not so different from my taste in clothing.  

Combined with my leather pants, I play a mean game of hide and seek – no one ever thinks to look on the couch.

Raspberry Chia Cheesecake

16 May

I am notorious for buying ingredients for recipes I intend to make and then forgetting what recipe I had in mind 3 seconds after I get my groceries home.  This results in random ingredients that languish in my pantry and fridge until I notice that they are about to expire and have to put them in something.

I also tend to buy extra of things on sale with every intention of using them, but sometimes I buy too much extra and the months go by too quickly for me.

This time I had an extra package of low fat cream cheese, and a tub of Cool Whip that had to move to make room in the freezer so muffins and chicken would stop falling on me every time I opened the door.  Combine that with too much yogurt, a lemon and the crumbly end of bag of frozen raspberries, and you get something surprisingly creamy and delicious!

Too-Tall Grizzly (Berenstain Bears, anyone?) has also been on a health and energy quest of late that resulted in the end of coffee drinking and late-night ice cream, and the advent of green tea, ground flax seed, avocado smoothies and chia seeds, the latter of which makes an appearance in this recipe since I figured with the raspberry seeds you’d never notice a few extra seeds and I was right.  You could make this recipe without the chia, but if you research the health benefits you won’t want to…I dare say they’re worth that trip to the uniquely guilt-inducing health food store with all the oddly glowing employees.

We first heard about chia seeds when Too-Tall read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, and was inspired by these amazing runners who consume huge amounts of the natural energy source:

Anyways, I remain uncertain about my personal “born to run-ness” but I’ll eat chia seeds if they will help me stay awake, and they also serve as a thickener; I’ve seen some recipes where they replace flour or cornstarch thickeners with a chia and water mixture, which is what made me think I could add it to this recipe for the same reason, since I was worried about it being too runny given my random ingredients.  I think now it would have set just fine without them, but you really can’t taste them and it was delicious with them in there.



1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

Zest of 1 lemon


1 (250 g) package low-fat cream cheese, softened in the microwave for 15 seconds

1/4 cup sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 individual serving yogurt, any berry flavour

1 tub Cool Whip 

1 cup frozen raspberries, smushed

1-2 tbsp chia seeds


For crust, combine all ingredients and press into a 8×11″ baking dish.  Bake at 375 for 9 minutes.  (If you really want to avoid baking, you can just press this into the pan and skip baking it – I just prefer a crisp crust.)

For cheesecake, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy.  Add lemon juice and yogurt and beat until well combined.  Gently fold in Cool Whip (I used about 2/3 of a tub since I had already used some…use the whole tub or save some for topping), then fold in raspberries and chia seeds.  Pour onto crust, spreading evenly.  Refrigerate 3 hours or until set before serving; store in the fridge or freezer, this is also good as a frozen dessert.

Light and fresh and fruity, this is totally guilt-free cheesecake.  It also doesn’t taste very cream-cheesy thanks to the addition of the yogurt, which meant it was a hit with Carl who is normally not a fan of the flavour of cheesecake because of that main ingredient.  My other taste tester also gave it a thumbs-up, as you can see.



Now to find something to do with those dried apricots, poppy seeds and rice vinegar…perhaps not all in the same day.

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