Homespooled

 
This dish was a huge hit at my house.  I was hoping for leftovers but alas, no such luck.  I just had to make it a second time!  The second time I made it, I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9" x 13" casserole. Turns out doubling it was a little much for the size of the casserole dish, so if that's what you decide to do, I would make one and a half times the recipe.  And in a casserole dish, it's not necessary to put a crust under the veggies.  What I did was top the entire thing with pie crust and bake it at the same temp/time as indicated below. It turned out great!
Serves: 8

For the crust:

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 c. shortening
½ c. water

For the filling: 
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, chopped
3 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes (skin-on)
1 ½ cup corn kernels (frozen or canned)
1 cup of shelled edamame*
1 19oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Bragg's all-purpose soy seasoning (or low-sodium soy sauce)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp dried rosemary**
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp onion  powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

*you can use green peas instead of edamame, the texture will be a little different, but the taste will still be very good
**I like to crush dried rosemary with a mortar & pestle (you can use a zip-lock bag & a rolling pin) into smaller pieces (even powder if time permits) because let's face it, small twigs are small twigs, cooked or not!

DIRECTIONS:
1. Pie crust: combine the flour & salt. Cut in the shortening using a pastry cutter (or using the two knife method, and example of which you can find here)
2. Add water and blend in with a fork until a crust is formed. Knead until smooth (about 5 minutes).
3. Divide the crust and shape into two discs. Wrap in cellophane and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
5. Filling: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Toss in the onions, garlics and carrot and cook until onions are clear.
6. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Cook over med-low to medium heat until the potatoes are fork tender (but not mushy), about 20-25 minutes. 
7. Roll out one of the pie dough discs to line a 9" - 10" pie plate.  Add the filling. Then roll out the second pie dough disk to cover the pie, sealing the edges and making slits in the top to release steam.
8. Bake for 45 minutes at 375ºF.
9. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 - 15 minutes before serving.



 
 
We have this thing at work where we have lunch together every Thursday, and we order in.  Every week, it's someone else's turn to pick the restaurant we order from (we're only about 7 people so you don't have to wait FOREVER for your turn to come around again).  When it's someone's birthday week, the person who had their birthday last is responsible for bringing cake for the person whose birthday we're celebrating. 

So on Wednesday this week, I was looking at our big 3 month calendar where I include the staff's birthdates among other things, and was discussing with Nathan (my friend we like to prank) that he'd have to bring in something for the next birthday celebrator on Thursday May 2nd.  We realized then, that we'd hired a new employee in January and hadn't asked when his birthday was! So I sent the new employee a message asking him this information.  He replies: April 18th, 1966, just before Star Trek aired).  Then Nathan and I thought: Darn! We missed his birthday, we'll have to bring in double the cake on May 2nd and celebrate two birthdays together.  It wasn't until 10 minutes before closing time, that April 18th was the next day!  AND, that the next day happened to be a Thursday!  I decided right away that I would make cupcakes to bring in.  And for a fellow Star Trek lover, why not take this opportunity to pay homage? (This is the guy who signed my fake going away card with a picture of Spock, and commented on my near-Vulcan logic and efficiency for my fake going away slide show, so he totally deserved these cupcakes.)

 
 
This is a very hearty cabbage soup with tons of...you guessed: cabbage!  It makes a LOT so make sure you take out the big pot for this one. 
MAKES: about 20 cups!!
TIME: 45 - 60 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
1 lrg onion, chopped (approx. 2 cups)
4 stalks of celery, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
2 carrots, peeled & chopped (approx. 1 cup)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 head of green cabbage, roughly chopped (about 2lbs)
1 lrg zucchini, washed and chopped (with skin on)
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes, NOT drained
1 19oz can of white kidney beans (cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
10 cups of vegetable broth
1 tbsp Bragg's liquid aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
2 tsps of apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
Optional: 1/8 - 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large pot, water sauté the onions, celery and carrots for a couple of minutes until they start to turn clear (add about 1/4 cup of water - instead of oil - in with the onions over medium heat). 

2. Add in the garlic and ginger, stir and cook for a few minutes more (add a bit more water if needed) until the onions are clear, the carrots and celery are fork tender and the aromas of the garlic and ginger are filling you kitchen.

3. Add all remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. 

NOTE: I added 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper and it gave it quite the kick, so if you're not used to heat, I would suggest 1/8 of a tsp if you do choose to use it!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
per 2 cup serving

Calories 131, Total Fat 0.2g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 811mg, Total Carbs 27.4g, Fiber 9.5g, Sugars 10.5g, Protein 6g, Vit A 68%, Vit C 66%, Calcium 14%, Iron 10%

 
 
Guess what?  Winter is NOT over :(  So how about another soup?  As a leftover, this soup thickens quite a bit because of the rice.  So if you REALLY don't like thick soups (which I love!) then put in a little less rice.

 
 
Winter is kind of, finally, sort of, winding down over here...maybe.  We always seem to get a final attack from mother nature near the end of March...and sometimes in April.  So how about one more soup to go with it?

 
 
In May of 2012 there was a huge batch of layoffs at my workplace.  We have a union and a bumping system in place that allows for people with more seniority who are getting laid off, to bump into the position of a person with less seniority; making the person with less seniority the one who has to go.  It's fair enough, I guess, but in May of 2012, I had only been working there for a year and a half so it wasn't very likely that i'd be keeping my job.  I found out on June 12th last summer that my last day of work would be August 17th, 2012. 

I got a call about a week before my layoff date to tell me that the person who was bumping me, had accepted a 6 month contract in another area of the company.  This meant that my layoff date was extended to February 15th, 2013.

Then, on December 19th, 2012, the day before I left for a 2 week holiday, I got a call from Human Resources to tell me that the person  who was bumping me, took another full-time contract within the company.  This meant that my job was safe!! (For now, Ha!)

Being so close to x-mas, a lot of people were out of the office (the department I work in is quite small and isolated from the rest of the company, we're about ten people in all) so there were only 3 of us, including myself, at work that day.  The other two working were my manager and Brandon, a friend of mine (the guy who got married in this post). 

Now, another one of our co-workers, Nathan, is a close friend of ours.  We all have a tendency to poke fun at each other throughout the day.  With this new knowledge of my not being laid-off, we decided it could be fun to keep it quiet and play a little prank on Nathan.  Because we have another co-worker who just can't keep a secret, we decided it was best to not tell anyone that my job was safe.  So up until last Wednesday, ALL of my other co-workers thought I was leaving! (hehehe)

To pull off the prank, last Monday, Brandon broke the news to the staff that I would indeed be leaving via email, asking them to all send him a little blurb saying what they will miss most about me.  He took all of the things that people sent him and made a Top Ten power point presentation that he would "surprise" me with at lunch on the Wednesday of that week.  He also passed around a "going away" card that he printed off to have everyone sign (Nathan was actually pissed at Brandon at this point because he thought the card was too cheap!)  My manager well, she just had to play along, and me?  I acted pissed off (which isn't that hard when you work a desk job!). 

By Wednesday, Nathan (and everybody else) was well aware that I was leaving and Nathan especially was really pissed off about it!  That day, I took my time getting my stuff together before lunch and slowly headed over to the boardroom, where we have our weekly lunches.  As I walked in, I saw this Top Ten presentation ready on the smartboard.  As I passed it, I put a confused expression on my face and asked "what's that?"  Brandon said "you'll see!", as everyone either made a little smirk or looked at my sympathetically.

As we were all finishing our lunches Brandon passed me the card he'd made and said that they had prepared something special for my departure.  I played along and read what everyone wrote (it was actually quite touching).  Here is my favourite message:
Then, Brandon went over to the smart board and began the power point presentation.  The things people would miss about me included: "her unique sense of humour", "how she picks on Nathan", "how she buys too many bananas so she makes cupcakes out of them that her coworkers have to eat", "her Honey Boo Boo impressions", "her near-Vulcan logic and efficiency" and " her incessant need to compare her coworkers to different band members". (I have a co-worker who VERY closely resembles Liam from One Direction.)

Finally, as the last slide, with one click, the line: What is Krystel going to miss about us? With a second click came this picture of me pointing and laughing and the caption: Pranking Nathan!!!! (and as a result, everyone else!!!!!)
Faces = priceless.  I wish I had it on camera, I really do.  The whole thing just played out beautifully!  So to make the "prankees" feel a little better about being duped, I brought, of course, cupcakes!!

To make these black forest cake inspired cupcakes, start off with a batch of chocolate cupcakes.  Then carve a hole into the top-centre.  I used one of those grapefruit spoons for this part and it worked wonderfully.
Fill each cupcake with some cherry pie filling, then pipe (or scoop) a good amount of coconut whipped cream onto each one. 
Top with sprinkles and serve to "prankees".
Nothing like adding a little humour to the workplace...and topping it with sprinkles.  Oh and my fabulous "going away" card?  It's hanging over my desk :)
 
 
The first time I tasted a leek, I was working at a produce market in high school.  Between the bakery and deli, there was a table with two huge cauldrons on it.  Every day there was hot soup and that is what I normally bought for my lunch break.  My absolute favourite was the potato leek soup.  I would often buy extra so that I could take some home.  Here is my take on it:

MAKES: approx. 11 cups
TIME: 45 minutes

 
 
It's cold.  It's cold outside, and it's cold in my office.  What better way to warm up than with a warm bowl of delicious, spicy soup?

MAKES: 6 servings of just over 2 cups each (approx 13 cups)
TIME: 45 minutes

 
 
Okay, three cakes in a row!? You betcha!  Last one, I swear! (for now)  A friend of mine had a themed birthday party this past Friday to celebrate her "Great 28!"  The theme was 90s.  At first I was a little dumbfounded.  Nothing in the 90s really stood out, did it?  I think that was just my mommy brain being completely ridiculous.  In the 90s I went from being 5yrs old to 15yrs old.   Clearly, a million fads and styles came and went during that time.  It just took a little Googling for me to remember what they were.  Let me tell you, when I started realizing what they were, all the memories came flooding back.

 
 
A few weeks ago, we had a big meeting at work at which our department Director would be in attendance.  Since she is retiring at the end of December, my manager asked me to bake a cake as a farewell to her.  It was a cute little (maybe not so little!) cake that everyone just loved.   Some of the people that were responsible for organizing the formal retirement party for our Director were also at that meeting, and approached me about making the cake for that day as well.  Of course I agreed. 

I had every intention of making a simple chocolate cake to feed anywhere from 40 - 80 people (since we had no idea how many people were to show up!), but then the wheels started turning and when I found out she was passionate about fishing and planned to spend a good amount of her retirement out on her dock, I just couldn't help myself...

 

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