Making Shepherd’s Pies / Paté Chinois / Cottage Pies — Photos

This week’s cooking project from my collection of recipes was a half-batch of my version of what in English-speaking Canada we call shepherd’s pies, while in French-speaking Canada, we call it paté chinois; in the UK, it would be properly considered a cottage pie.

I developed this version in the very early 1990’s after working in a summer camp kitchen, where we made camp-sized quantities of a basic version with cooked ground beef, cream-style corn, and mashed potatoes; I liked the dish but added onions, ketchup, peas, and carrots, and kept to the spirit of large quantities in order to cook for the freezer.

Note that in the text below, while there may appear to be a distinct sequence of separate steps to be taken one after the other, presented as such for the sake of the narrative, many steps were actually performed simultaneously and / or heavily overlapping with each other as given steps were finished and new steps begun. This was all the more the case given that I had performed a number of mise-en-place activities in advance: Ground beef was measured out and bagged separately, a week in advance on the day that I’d bought several packages of ground beef on sale, and before all of it was put in the freezer; potatoes were measured out, peeled, and cubed the night before the main cooking day; and carrots were prepared and sliced the night before the main cooking day.

Making the pies:

Last week, after stocking up on ground beef on sale, I set up my kitchen scale, putting a plate on the scale and setting the scale to zero:

Plate on kitchen scale and scale set to zero

I measured out two pounds of ground beef …

Two pounds of ground beef measured out

… and the ground beef was placed in a separate bag and placed in the freezer, ready for this week’s cooking project:

Measured out ground beef in a freezer bag

The night before I did the main cooking, I set a pot on the kitchen scale, and set the scale to zero:

Pot placed on kitchen scale and scale set to zero

Five pounds of potatoes were measured out:

Five pounds of potatoes measured out

The pot of potatoes was filled with water:

Pot of potatoes filled with water
Pot of potatoes filled with water

The potatoes were peeled:

Potatoes peeled

As the potatoes were peeled, they were placed back into the pot of water:

Peeled potatoes placed back in pot of water

The peeled potatoes were then individually taken out and placed on a cutting board:

Peeled potato taken out for slicing

The peeled potatoes were sliced lengthwise:

Sliced potato sliced lengthwise

… the potatoes were then cut into large cubes:

Potatoes cut into large cubes

… and the potato cubes were placed back into the pot of water as they were cut:

Potato cubes placed back in the pot of water

The water in the pot of potato cubes was drained:

Water in pot drained

Fresh water was put in the pot of potato cubes to rinse the potato cubes:

Rinse water put in pot of potato cubes

The rinse water was drained, and the pot filled again with fresh water, covering the potato cubes:

Third round of fresh water covering the potato cubes

On the main cooking day, the stove was turned on:

Stove turned on (dial on the left)

… the pot of potatoes was placed on the stove:

Pot of potatoes placed on stove

Salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

… and put into the pot of potatoes being brought to a boil:

Sat added to the pot of potatoes being brought to a boil

The potatoes were brought to a boil:

Potatoes brought to a boil

A timer was set to 20 minutes, the time the potatoes were boiled:

Potatoes boiled for 20 minutes

The night before I did the main cooking, carrots were taken out:

Carrots taken out

The carrots were cleaned and trimmed:

Carrots cleaned and trimmed

The carrots were run through a food processor with the slicing blade tool:

Carrots run through food processor with slicing tool
Sliced carrots

The sliced carrots were transferred to a pot:

Sliced carrots transferred to a pot
Sliced carrots transferred to a pot

Water was added to the pot of carrots, covering the carrots:

Water added to the pot of carrots
Water covering carrots in pot

On the main cooking day, a second burner on the stove was turned on:

Second burner on the stove turned on (dial on the right)

The carrots were put on the stove and brought to a boil:

Carrots brought to a boil

A timer was set to five minutes:

Sliced carrots boiled for five minutes

… and at this point I remembered to add salt to the pot of boiling carrots:

Salt added to pot of boiling carrots

After five minutes of boiling, the carrots were drained, and the pot was placed in the fridge to help cool down the carrots:

Carrots cooling in the fridge

On cooking day, onions were taken out:

Onions taken out

The onions were trimmed:

Onions trimmed

The onions were chopped coarsely:

Coarsely chopped onions

The onions were placed in an electric skillet:

Onions placed in electric skillet

The ground beef, which was measured out and frozen last week, and defrosted beginning the day before cooking day, was placed in the electric skillet with the chopped onions:

Ground beef placed in electric skillet with the onions

The electric skillet was turned on:

Electric skillet turned on

Salt was added to the beef and onions in the electric skillet:

Salt added to beef and onions
Salt added to beef and onions

The beef was broken up and mixed together with the onions and salt, while all the ingredients were frying:

Beef broken into smaller pieces and mixed with onions

Part way through the cooking of the beef and onions, ketchup was taken out …

Ketchup taken out

… and ketchup was added to the frying beef and onion mixture part way through:

Ketchup added to frying beef and onion mix

At this point, some oven proof baking pans were laid out:

Baking pans laid out

And once the beef, onion, and ketchup mixture was fully cooked …

Fully cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture

… the cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture was transferred to the various oven-proof baking pans:

Cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture transferred to the baking pans

The baking pans with cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture were put aside until later.

At this point, the potatoes had been boiling for twenty minutes, and the pot was drained:

Drained boiled potatoes

Margarine was taken out, and a dollop of margarine was scooped out with a spoon:

Dollop of margarine scooped out with a spoon

The margarine was added to the boiled potatoes:

Margarine added to the boiled potatoes

Salt was again measured out:

Salt measured out

And the salt was added to the boiled potatoes and margarine:

Salt added to boiled potatoes and margarine

Milk was measured out:

Milk measured out

And the milk was added to the boiled potatoes, margarine, and salt:

Milk added to boiled potatoes, margarine, and salt

The boiled potatoes, margarine, salt, and milk were mashed together with a hand masher:

Boiled potatoes, margarine, salt, and milk mashed together
Mashed potatoes

The mashed potatoes were put aside until later.

The night before, cans of cream style corn and a can opener were taken out:

Cream style corn and can opener taken out

On cooking day, the cream-style corn cans were opened, and the cream style corn was spread over the cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture in the baking pans:

Cream-style corn poured over the cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture

Frozen peas were taken out:

Frozen peas taken out

Frozen peas were sprinkled over the cream corn layer in the baking pans:

Frozen peas were sprinkled over the cream corn layer
Frozen peas were sprinkled over the cream corn layer in the baking pans

The pot of cooled carrots was taken out of the fridge, and the carrot slices were layered on top of the peas:

Carrots layered on top of the peas
Carrots layered on top of the peas
Carrots layered on top of the peas

The still warm mashed potatoes were spread on the top of the pies in the baking pans:

Mashed potatoes spread on the top of the ingredients in the baking pans
Mashed potatoes spread on the top of the ingredients in the baking pans

Freezer bags were labelled:

Freezer bags labelled

The shepherd’s pies were placed in the freezer bags, save one (top row, centre), which was covered in wax paper so that I could put it in the fridge for supper later in the day:

Casseroles placed in freezer bags

The shepherd’s pies destined for the freezer were placed in a freezer:

Casseroles placed in the freezer

Later on, when it was time to make supper, my countertop convection oven was set to 350F:

Countertop convection oven set to 350F

The shepherd’s pie which was put aside earlier was placed in the countertop convection oven:

Shepherd’s pies placed in the countertop convection oven

Once the shepherd’s pie was baked and the mashed potato top browned, the shepherd’s pie was taken out of the countertop convection oven:

Cooked shepherd’s pie taken out of countertop convection oven

And finally, the yummy shepherd’s pie was served and eaten!

Shepherd’s pie served on a plate

Making Bread in an Automatic Bread Machine — Photos

This week’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included yet more pickled eggs, a successful experiment with my lemon squares using my aunt’s shortbread cookie dough as the base, more bran muffins for my mom, and, earlier in the week, plain white bread in my automatic bread machine, to make slices of bread to freeze and keep in the freezer.

A white bread cycle producing the same product using the same ingredients has been default programme and the first baking programme in all my bread machines. However, please check the settings on your bread machine to be certain to choose the white bread setting.

This recipe closely tracks the recipe for plain white bread that came with the first bread machine I purchased in 2001.

An important aspect this recipe is to add the ingredients in the order listed, particularly the water and milk mix first, then the flour, and then the rest, especially if you will be using the delayed baking function. Also, the original source recipe stressed the importance of keeping a certain distance between the salt and the yeast.

Note that in making this recipe for this post, I turned on the bread machine to run right away on the standard white bread cycle that takes three hours; however, many machine models offer a delayed start function, for instance to allow for the preparation of the ingredients the night before, and having the bread ready at a later time the following morning.

Making the bread:

Six ounces of water were measured out in a measuring cup:

Water measured out
Water measured out

Six ounces of milk were measured out, and added directly to the water in the measuring cup:

Milk measured out and mixed with water
Milk measured out and mixed with water

The microwave oven (1200W) was set to one minute:

Microwave oven set to one minute

… and the water and milk mixture was warmed up in the microwave oven:

Water and milk mixture warmed up in microwave oven

The warmed up water and milk mixture was transferred to the (cleaned) bread machine basket:

Water and milk mixture transferred to the bread machine basket
Water and milk mixture transferred to the bread machine basket

Four cups of flour were measured out:

Flour measured out

… and the flour was transferred to the bread machine basket, fully covering the water and milk mixture:

Flour transferred to the bread machine basket
Flour transferred to the bread machine basket

Four tablespoons of sugar were measured out:

Sugar measured out

… and the sugar was transferred to the bread machine basket, on top of the other ingredients:

Sugar transferred to the bread machine basket
Sugar transferred to the bread machine basket

A teaspoon and a half of salt were measured out:

Salt measured out

… and the salt was transferred to the bread machine basket with the other ingredients:

Salt transferred to the bread machine basket
Salt transferred to the bread machine basket

Margarine was taken out, and two dollops of margarine were spooned out of the container:

Margarine spooned out of the container:

The margarine was transferred to the bread machine basket with the other ingredients:

Margarine transferred to the bread machine basket
Margarine transferred to the bread machine basket

Three quarters of a teaspoon of bread machine yeast was measured out …

Bread machine yeast measured out

… and the bread machine yeast was transferred to the the bread machine basket:

Bread machine yeast transferred to the the bread machine basket
Bread machine yeast transferred to the the bread machine basket

At this point, all the ingredients were in the bread machine basket, and the bread machine basket was placed in the bread machine:

Bread machine basket placed in the bread machine

The white bread setting was chosen (programme #1 on my bread machine), and for a two pound loaf; the programme was started, without delay:

White bread setting chosen, for a two pound loaf, and the programme started

The lid was shut, and the bread machine was allowed to do its work.

Three hours later, the bread was ready …

End of baking cycle on the bread machine
Baked bread in the bread machine

The baked bread was gingerly shaken out of the bread machine basket:

Baked bread gingerly shaken out of the bread machine basket
Baked bread on its side, taken out of the bread machine basket (the tear in the base is from the bread machine kneading paddle)

The baked bread loaf was placed upright on a trivet to allow it to cool:

Bread cooling on a trivet

A baking tray was taken out:

Tray taken out

Once the bread had cooled, I began slicing the loaf of bread …

Slicing cooled loaf of bread

… using a bread slicer with a guide, to allow for consistent slices of bread:

Bread sliced with a bread slicer with a guide
Partly sliced loaf of bread

The bread slices were placed on the baking tray:

Bread slices on tray

A sheet of plastic wrap was placed on top of the layer of sliced bread:

Plastic wrap placed on top of bread slices

The loaf was fully sliced, and the bread slices alternated with plastic wrap:

Alternating layers of bread slices and plastic wrap

The tray of bread slices was placed in the freezer:

Tray of sliced bread placed in the freezer

The crumbs created from the slicing were placed into a container with other bread crumbs and dried bread pieces, for future use in other recipes:

Bread crumbs placed in a container for future use

… and when the bread was frozen, I placed the bread slices in freezer bags:

Frozen bread slices in freezer bags

The bags of bread slices were placed back in the freezer to have for when I want to make sandwiches and the like.

Yummy!

Making Meatballs — Photos

This week’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included yet more zucchini with a tomato, onion, and bacon sauce — mom was pleased to yet again eat a tasty dish and have some leftover sauce — and the subject of this post, my meatballs.

I normally keep cooked meatballs in the freezer for use with pasta dishes such as spaghetti, or eat them on their own along with other foods.

I have no recollection of why I chose to add peas, corn, or rice to the mix when I began making these meatballs many years ago, other than presumably at the time I thought that their addition was a good idea, and that incidentally doing so helped make more meatballs with the same amount of ground beef; as for the onions and egg, I have always liked onions with ground beef, and the egg acts as a binding agent to help keep the meatballs together, especially while cooking.

Making the meatballs:

A mixing bowl was placed on a kitchen scale, and the kitchen scale was set to zero:

Mixing bowl on a kitchen scale, which was set to zero

Two pounds of ground beef were measured out:

Two pounds of ground beef measured out

The bowl of ground beef was put aside for a moment.

An onion was taken out:

Onion taken out

The onion was cleaned and trimmed:

Onion cleaned and trimmed

The onion was sliced thinly:

Onion sliced thinly

The onion was then chopped somewhat finely:

Onion chopped somewhat finely

The chopped onion was transferred to the mixing bowl with the ground beef:

Chopped onion added to the mixing bowl with the ground beef
Chopped onion added to the mixing bowl with the ground beef

An egg was taken out:

Egg taken out.

The egg was cracked into the mixing bowl:

Egg cracked into the mixing bowl
Egg cracked into the mixing bowl

Frozen peas were measured out:

Frozen peas measured out

The frozen peas were added to the mixing bowl:

Frozen peas added to the mixing bowl

Since I didn’t have any frozen corn kernels on hand, I separated out some corn kernels from a bag of frozen mixed vegetables:

Frozen kernel corn measured out

The frozen kernel corn was added to the mixing bowl:

Frozen kernel corn added to mixing bowl
Frozen kernel corn added to mixing bowl

Rice was measured out:

Rice measured out

The rice was added to the mixing bowl:

Rice added to the mixing bowl
Rice added to the mixing bowl

Salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

…. and the salt was added to the mixing bowl:

Salt added to the mixing bowl
Salt added to the mixing bowl

The ingredients were thoroughly mixed together by hand:

Ingredients mixed by hand

An electric skillet was turned on (as well as a stove burner for my cast iron skillet for the meatballs that wouldn’t fit in the electric skillet):

Electric skillet turned on

The meat mix was formed into balls from 1-1/2″ to 2″ in diameter, which were placed in the electric skillet (as well as a cast iron skillet off camera), with enough spacing between them to allow for easier manipulation later when turning them over:

Balls of meat mix formed and placed in an electric skillet

As each side of the meatballs were cooked, the meatballs were turned over to cook on another side …

Meatballs turned over to cook on another side

… and the meatballs were turned over again to cook yet on another side:

Meatballs tuned over yet again; note second skillet of cooking meatballs

When the meatballs were fully cooked …

Fully cooked meatballs

… the meatballs were transferred to a cookie baking sheet, somewhat spread apart from each other to allow for quicker cooling in the freezer …

Cooked meatballs placed on cookie baking sheet

… and the cookie baking sheet with the meatballs was placed in the freezer to cool the meatballs and begin to freeze the meatballs:

Cookie baking sheet of meatballs placed in freezer

A clean, resealable freezer bag was re-labeled to reflect the new contents, meatballs of course:

Freezer bag re-labelled

Once partly frozen, the meatballs were placed in the freezer bag:

Meatballs placed in freezer bag

… and the bag of yummy meatballs was placed in the freezer for future eating.

Making Breakfast Sandwiches — Photos

This week’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included two batches of blondies, more zucchini with tomato, bacon, and onion sauce, pickled eggs, and the subject of this post and Saturday morning’s breakfast, a yummy breakfast sandwich I like to call “If I make it, will you eat it?”, another family favourite.

Margarine was taken out and some taken up with a knife:

Margarine on a table knife

A frozen slice of bread — not two as called for in my recipe, because the bread I make in a bread machine is tall enough to justify cutting it in half when making sandwiches (see below) — was taken out, and the margarine was spread on it:

Margarine spread on a frozen slice of bread
Margarine spread on a frozen slice of bread

The slice of bread was cut into two halves:

Slicing bread into two halves
Slice of bread with margarine cut into two halves

Two slices of processed cheese (or “American cheese” slices) were taken out and unwrapped, and placed on the counter to warm up to room temperature (note that natural cheese sliced off the block may be used):

Two slices of processed cheese taken out and unwrapped

Every once in a while, I buy a large 2kg case of breakfast sausages, cook them all up at once, and then I keep them in the freezer for future eating. I do the same thing with bacon for my mom. If you don’t do so, at this point and according to your preference, cook up some breakfast sausage(s) and/or some bacon.

I then took out a frozen cooked breakfast sausage, and let it warm up a few minutes on the counter:

Cooked (and frozen) breakfast sausage taken out

The sausage was then sliced into four strips along its length:

Cooked sausage sliced along its length four times

The sausage was put aside for a few moments.

A burner on my stove was turned on to a low to medium heat:

Stove turned on to a low to medium heat

A cast iron skillet was placed on the stove, and a bit of olive oil was poured into the cast iron skillet:

Olive oil poured into the cast iron skillet:

The olive oil was then spread over a part of the cast iron skillet:

Olive oil spread in the cast iron skillet

At this point, I placed the slices of breakfast sausage in the cast iron skillet:

Sausage slices placed in the cast iron skillet

An egg was taken out:

Egg taken out

… and the egg was cracked into the cast iron skillet:

Egg cracked into the cast iron skillet
Egg cracked into the cast iron skillet

The egg was fried, and — I like eggs over — when it was ready to be turned over …

Fried egg ready to be turned over

… the cast iron skillet was somewhat re-positioned, and I lifted the fried egg with a flipper …

Fried egg being lifted up with a flipper

… and the egg was turned over and fried on the other side:

Fried egg turned over in cast iron skillet

When the fried egg was finished cooking, it was transferred to a plate:

Fried egg transferred to a plate

… and the fried sausage slices were also transferred on top of the fried egg:

Fried sausage slices transferred to the top of the fried egg

The free oil and grease in the cast iron skillet were wiped up with a paper towel (watch out, the cast iron skillet is hot!):

Hot oil and grease wiped up with a paper towel

A slice of the bread with the margarine was placed in the hot cast iron skillet, margarine side down:

Slice of bread placed in cast iron skillet, margarine side down

One of the slices of processed cheese was placed on the slice of bread, and “made to fit”:

Slice of processed cheese placed on the slice of bread

The fried egg and sausage were placed on top of the slice of processed cheese:

Fried egg and sausage placed on top of the slice of processed cheese

The second slice of processed cheese was placed on the slice of bread, and “made to fit”:

Slice of processed cheese placed on the slice of fried egg and sausage

… and finally, the second slice of bread with margarine on it was placed on top of the slice of processed cheese, margarine side up:

Slice of bread placed on top of the slice of processed cheese, margarine side up

After a few moments, the sandwich was flipped over, and the bottom side, now the top, had been nicely browned:

Sandwich turned over to brown the other side

After a few more moments, the sandwich was lifted out of the cast iron skillet and served on a plate:

Breakfast is served!

Yummy!!!!

Making Zucchini with a Tomato, Onion, and Bacon Sauce — Photos

Back in the mid 1990’s, my church published a cookbook with recipes from the membership. I began making a zucchini with bacon and onion sauce dish submitted by a fellow parishioner in the mid- to late-2000’s, and, besides finding it tasty, I was pleasantly surprised both at how easy it was to make, and, even more surprisingly, how it immediately came across as a restaurant-quality dish. In fact, shortly after, I happened to be at a restaurant, and ordered a similar dish as an appetizer!

Note that the amounts of some of the ingredients shown below are sometimes greater than listed in the recipe, in order to have some of the sauce leftover.

First, bacon was taken out (in this case, half slices):

Bacon taken out

The bacon was sliced crosswise / diced:

Bacon sliced crosswise / diced

The bacon was then placed in a cast iron skillet:

Bacon placed in a cast iron skillet

Onions were taken out:

Onions taken out

The onions were cleaned and trimmed:

Onions cleaned and trimmed

The onions were quartered:

Onions quartered

The onions were then chopped coarsely:

Onions chopped coarsely

The onions were then placed in the cast iron skillet with the bacon:

Onions placed in cast iron skillet with the bacon

The stove was turned on to a low to medium heat:

Stove turned on to low to medium heat

A pot was filled with water:

Pot filled with water

Salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

The salt was added to the pot of water:

Salt added to the pot of water

The stove under the pot was turned on high to boil the water in the pot:

Stove under the pot of water turned on

The water was brought to a boil, and put aside.

Tomatoes were taken out:

Tomatoes taken out

The tomatoes were cleaned and trimmed:

Tomatoes cleaned and trimmed

The tomatoes were quartered …

Tomatoes quartered

… the tomatoes were further chopped:

Tomatoes further chopped

… and the chopped tomatoes were placed in a mixing bowl:

Tomatoes placed in a mixing bowl

Sugar was measured out:

Sugar measured out

The sugar was added to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes:

Sugar added to tomatoes

More salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

The salt was added to the bowl with the tomatoes and the sugar:

Salt added to tomatoes and sugar

Water was measured out:

Water measured out

The water was added to the bowl with the tomatoes, sugar, and salt:

Water added to the bowl with the tomatoes, sugar, and salt

… and the bowl with the tomatoes, sugar, salt, and water was put aside.

Three zucchinis (in this case, grey zucchinis) were taken out:

Zucchinis taken out

The zucchinis were cleaned and trimmed:

Zucchinis cleaned and trimmed

The zucchinis were cut in half along their length:

Zucchinis cut in half along their lengths

… and the zucchinis were put aside.

Soon, the bacon and onions were beginning to be cooked and caramelized:

Cooked bacon and caramelized onions

… and the tomato mix was added to the bacon and onions in the cast iron skillet:

Tomato mix added to the cast iron skillet
Tomato mix added to the cast iron skillet

… and the ingredients in the cast iron skillet were mixed together:

Ingredients mixed together in the cast iron skillet

The ingredients were brought to a simmer:

Ingredients brought to a simmer

The ingredients were reduced, during which the tomatoes also disintegrated into the sauce

Sauce reduced

At this point, the salted water was brought back to a boil:

Salted water brought back to a boil

… and the zucchini halves were added to the boiling water …

Zucchini halves added to the boiling water

… and the zucchini halves were boiled for ten minutes (obviously, the photo was taken about eight seconds after the timer was set):

Timer set to 10 minutes
Zucchini being boiled for ten minutes

At this point, the sauce had sufficiently reduced to my liking, and was ready for serving:

Sauce ready for serving

The zucchini were served onto two plates:

Boiled zucchini served on a plate, with sliced baguette bread

And finally, sauce was spooned onto the zucchini:

Sauce spooned onto the zucchini

Supper was yummy, with a nice, tangey sauce!

Making Chicken Pot Pies — Photos

I made chicken pot pies (a family favourite) this past weekend, along with crisped rice squares, two batches of bran muffins for mom, and some cooked ground beef and onions frozen in ice cube trays in the freezer. The chicken pot pies I make are more chicken cottage pies than what most people consider to be chicken pot pies, because there is a potato topping instead of a flaky crust; additionally, the sauce in the filling is somewhat less liquid than most people would expect from a chicken pot pie.

This recipe was added to my collection of recipes in the mid to late 2000’s as another making-a-lot-in-advance freezer food project, based on a recipe I’d found on the internet and adjusted for amounts to make freezer quantities, and using commercial chicken broth instead of making my own.

Note that below, while there may appear to be a distinct sequence of steps to be taken, presented as such for the sake of the narrative, many steps were actually performed simultaneously and / or overlapping with each other as given steps were finished and new steps begun. Also, note that I was again cooking at the cottage, using water from containers, because the water system is turned off during the winter.

First, water was put in a large pot:

Water poured into a large pot

Then, ten pounds of potatoes were taken out …

Ten pound bag of potatoes taken out

The potatoes were peeled …

Peeling potatoes

… and the peeled potatoes were placed in the pot with the water:

Peeled potatoes in the pot of water

Four peeled potatoes were put aside for later use in the filling:

Four potatoes put aside for later use in the filling

The rest of the potatoes were quartered …

Potatoes quartered

… and placed back in the pot of water:

Quartered potatoes placed in pot of water

The water was drained from the pot, and fresh water was added to the pot, covering the potatoes:

Fresh water being added to the drained pot of quartered potatoes
Quartered potatoes covered with fresh water

Salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

… and the salt was poured into the pot with the quartered potatoes:

Salt poured into the pot with the quartered potatoes

The stove was turned on for boiling the potatoes (rear burner), as well as frying the chicken breasts (front burner) (see next section):

Front and rear burners on stove turned on

… and the potatoes were brought to a boil …

Potatoes brought to a boil

… and kept boiling for twenty (20) minutes:

Timer set to about 20 minutes

In the meantime, chicken breasts were taken out …

Chicken breasts taken out

Olive oil was lightly poured into a cast iron skillet …

Olive oil poured lightly into a cast iron skillet

… salt was added to the cast iron skillet …

Salt added to the cast iron skillet

… and the chicken breasts were placed in the cast iron skillet and salted, to be slowly pan fried:

Chicken breasts added to the skillet

While the chicken breasts were cooking, occasionally being turned over several times in order to avoid burning on the outside while leaving the centres under-cooked, vegetables were prepared.

Carrots were taken out:

Carrots taken out

The carrots were cleaned and trimmed:

Carrots taken out

The carrots were then cut along their length twice, quartering them and creating spears:

Carrots sliced into spears

The carrots were then chopped coarsely:

Carrots chopped coarsely

… and finally, the chopped carrots were placed in an electric skillet, and put aside:

Chopped carrots in electric skillet

Onions were taken out:

Onions taken out

The onions were cleaned and trimmed:

Cleaned and trimmed onions

The onions were roughly quartered:

Quartered onions

… and then the onions were chopped coarsely:

Coarsely chopped onions

… and finally, the chopped onions were placed in the electric skillet with the carrots, and put aside:

Chopped onions placed in electric skillet

The peeled potatoes put aside earlier were taken out:

Peeled potatoes from earlier taken out

The potatoes were sliced along their length:

Potatoes sliced along their length

The potatoes were again sliced along their lengths, crosswise, in order to make spears:

Potatoes sliced into spears

The potatoes were sliced into small cubes, about half an inch:

Potatoes sliced into cubes

… and finally, the cubed potatoes were placed in the electric skillet with the carrots and onions:

Potatoes added to carrots and onions

Olive oil was added to the carrots, onions, and potatoes in the electric skillet:

Olive oil added to the vegetables

Salt was added to the vegetables and olive oil:

Salt added to vegetables and olive oil

The vegetables, olive oil, and salt, were mixed together:

Mixing vegetables, olive oil, and salt
Vegetables, olive oil, and salt thoroughly mixed

The vegetable mix and electric skillet were put aside until after the next step (mashing potatoes).

At this point, I turned my attention back to the potatoes, which were almost finished boiling.

Milk was taken out and measured:

Milk measured out

The boiled potatoes were drained:

Drained potatoes

… and the milk was poured into the pot of still steaming boiled potatoes:

Milk poured into the pot of boiled potatoes

Margarine was taken out, and a couple of dollops of margarine were measured out:

Dollops of margarine measured out

… and the margarine was added to the potatoes and milk:

Margarine added to the potatoes and milk

Salt was measured out again:

Salt measured out

… and the salt was added to the pot of boiled potatoes, milk, and margarine:

Salt added to boiled potatoes, milk, and margarine

The potatoes were mashed with a hand-held masher:

Mashing the potatoes, milk, margarine, and salt together
Mashed potatoes

The mashed potatoes were covered and put aside for later.

Back to the mixed chopped vegetables, the electric skillet was turned on …

Electric skillet turned on

… and the mixed chopped vegetables were fried.

In the meantime, the chicken breasts had become nicely cooked and browned:

Cooked and browned chicken breasts

The chicken was removed from the cast iron skillet, and put aside on a plate for a few moments.

Water was poured into the cast iron skillet to deglaze the pan:

Water added to pan to deglaze it

The cast iron skillet with the deglazing liquid were put aside for a few moments.

During this time, the vegetables began frying nicely:

Frying chopped vegetables

A box of commercial chicken broth was taken out …

Chicken broth taken out

… and the chicken broth was poured over the frying vegetables:

Chicken broth poured over frying vegetables

The deglazing liquid from the cast iron skillet was poured into the electric skillet with the vegetables and chicken broth:

Pouring deglazing liquid from the cast iron skillet into the electric skillet

The liquid in the electric skillet was brought to a boil:

Liquid in the electric skillet brought to a boil

The vegetables and liquid were covered and simmered for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, back to the cooked chicken breasts, the chicken breasts were cut into rough cubes and smaller:

Cooked chicken breasts cut into small pieces

The chopped cooked chicken was then placed in a bowl, and put aside for a few moments:

Chopped cooked chicken

A cup of flour was measured out …

Flour measured out

… and poured into a mixing bowl:

Flour poured into a mixing bowl

Two more cups of milk were measured out:

Milk measured out

… and poured over the flour in the mixing bowl:

Milk poured over flour in mixing bowl

The flour and milk were thoroughly mixed with a fork:

Mixing flour and milk with a fork
Flour and milk thoroughly mixed

At this point, the vegetables and broth had been simmering for 20 minutes, and the chopped chicken was transferred to the electric skillet with the chopped vegetables and broth:

Chopped chicken being added to the electric skillet
Chopped chicken added to the electric skillet

The ingredients were mixed together with a large serving spoon:

Ingredients mixed with a large serving spoon

At this point, timing becomes important in order to mix things properly, before heat thickens the milk and flour mixture too much, making proper mixing more difficult.

The flour and milk mixture was added to the rest of the ingredients in the electric skillet:

Flour and milk mixture being added to the ingredients in the electric skillet

The electric skillet was unplugged, and quickly, the ingredients were all mixed together, fully mixing all the liquids as well as the rest of the ingredients:

All ingredients fully mixed

Previously, a number of baking containers were laid out:

Baking containers laid out

The filling was spooned into the baking pans, to about half the depth of the baking pans:

Filling spooned into baking pans
Baking pans filled with chicken / vegetable / sauce filling

The still warm mashed potatoes were spread on top of the chicken / vegetable / sauce filling in the baking pans:

Mashed potatoes were spread on top of the chicken / vegetable / sauce filling
All baking pans with mashed potato topping and filling

Sealable freezer bags were identified:

Identified freezer bags

The chicken pot pies were placed in individual bags:

Chicken pot pies in individual bags

And finally, the chicken pot pies were placed in the freezer for freezing, and of course future eating!

Chicken pot pies in the freezer

Yummy!

Making Three (or Five) Ingredient Cheese Biscuits — Photos

This week’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included more chocolate buttercrunch (mostly) for mom, shortbread cookies for my brother, chicken soup, and, the subject of this post, three (or five) ingredient cheese biscuits. (The ambiguity about the number of ingredients lies in the recipe calling for self-rising flour, which you may or may not have on hand. If you don’t have any self-rising flour, you can easily make some yourself by adding two ingredients to regular flour; see below.)

These cheese biscuits are quite easy to make, such as for a light Saturday morning breakfast, or for afternoon tea. They are so tasty that six of the eight cheese biscuits I made this morning were eaten, while the other two frozen for another day, long before I started organizing and putting together this blog post. 🙂

First, I took out some parchment paper and lined a baking tray with a couple of stray pieces of parchment paper I had:

Lining a baking pan with parchment paper

Normally, the recipe calls for self-rising flour; I didn’t have any, so a cup of flour was measured out:

Flour measured out

The measuring cup with the flour was kept at hand.

A teaspoon and a half of baking powder was measured out:

Baking powder measured out

… and placed in the measuring cup with the flour:

Baking powder placed into the measuring cup with the flour

The measuring cup with the flour and baking powder was again kept at hand.

A quarter teaspoon of salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

… and the salt was added to the measuring cup with the flour and the baking powder:

Salt added to flour and baking powder

The flour, baking powder, and salt were mixed in the measuring cup with a fork:

Mixing flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork

And, because the measuring cup I was using has a two cup capacity, the measuring cup with the flour, baking powder, and salt was again kept at hand (see the next part.)

Greek yoghurt was taken out:

Greek yoghurt taken out

… and the greek yoghurt was spooned out of the container …

Spooning greek yoghurt out of the container

… and greek yoghurt was transferred into the measuring cup with the flour mixture until there was a cup’s worth of greek yoghurt added:

Greek yoghurt measured out

The measured out flour mixture and greek yoghurt were transferred to a mixing bowl:

Flour mixture and greek yoghurt transferred to a mixing bowl

The mixing bowl was put aside for a moment.

Cheese was taken out, along with a grater and bowl:

Cheese, grater, and bowl taken out

Cheese was grated:

Cheese being grated
Grated cheese

… and half a cup of the grated cheese was measured out:

Grated cheese measured out

The grated cheese was transferred to the mixing bowl with the flour mixture and the greek yoghurt:

Grated cheese transferred to the mixing bowl with the flour mixture and the greek yoghurt
Grated cheese transferred to the mixing bowl with the flour mixture and the greek yoghurt

At this point, I remembered that I needed to preheat my countertop convection oven to 425F:

Countertop convection oven preheated to 425F

I continued by mixing the flour mixture, greek yoghurt, and grated cheese in the bowl with a fork to make a stiff (and sticky!) dough:

Ingredients completely mixed with a fork

Balls of dough about the size of golfballs, without any further handling (nor any flattening out) were scooped out of the mixing bowl and placed on the baking tray:

Dough ball placed on the baking tray

… and the rest of the dough was portioned out to make a total of eight rough balls about the size of golfballs:

Dough balls placed on the baking tray

The baking tray with the biscuit dough was placed in the preheated countertop convection oven:

Biscuits placed in a preheated countertop convection oven

… and a timer was set to 18 minutes (obviously, the photo was taken about 10 seconds later!)

Timer set to 18 minutes

At the 16 minute mark, a couple of the cheese biscuits were taken out for mom, who likes the biscuits slightly less well baked than I do:

A couple of biscuits taken out at 16 minutes

… and the rest of the cheese biscuits were taken out at 18 minutes, and placed on a cooling rack:

Baked cheese biscuits on a cooling rack (mom’s biscuits on the right)

Regarding how tasty they are … as mentioned at the beginning of this post: “They are so tasty that six of the eight cheese biscuits I made this morning were eaten, while the other two frozen for another day, long before I started organizing and putting together this blog post. :)”

Making Lemon Squares — Photos

This week’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included making bran muffins for my mom, more blondies, more chocolate buttercrunch, and the subject of this post, lemon squares. I started making them to have another dessert to add to my collection of recipes, and so I found a recipe on the Martha Stewart website, which I then converted to my format and whose measures I adjusted down by half. However, you may notice that in my recipe, the full amounts of the original recipe are also listed, since you may wish to make enough of these squares for a party; unfortunately, since the recipe does not freeze too well, I found that the full recipe was big enough that my mom and I started to get tired of them after eating them every day for a week!

There are two parts to these lemon squares: A shortbread base, and a lemon curd topping.

The base is made first:

First, in order to bring the margarine to room temperature, I took out margarine:

Margarine taken out of the fridge

… then margarine was measured out:

Margarine measured out

… and the margarine was put aside for a bit to warm up to room temperature.

In the meantime, I took out some parchment paper and an 8″ x 8″ baking pan …

Parchment paper and a baking pan

… and the baking pan was lined with parchment paper:

Baking pan lined with parchment paper

When the margarine had warmed up to room temperature, I placed it in a mixing bowl:

Margarine placed in a mixing bowl

Flour was taken out …

Flour container

… then the flour was measured out …

Flour measured out

… and the flour was poured into the mixing bowl with the margarine:

Pouring flour into mixing bowl with margarine
Flour in mixing bowl with margarine

Icing sugar was taken out …

Icing sugar

… measured out …

Icing sugar measured out

… and poured into the mixing bowl

Icing sugar poured into mixing bowl with flour and margarine
Icing sugar in mixing bowl with flour and margarine

Salt was taken out and measured …

Salt taken out and measured

… and added to the mixing bowl with the icing sugar, flour, and margarine:

Adding salt to the mixing bowl with icing sugar, flour, and margarine

A fork was used …

Using a fork to break the margarine into pieces the size of a pea

… to break up the margarine into pieces about the size of peas, mixing the icing sugar, flour, and margarine together in the process:

Margarine broken into pieces the size of peas

The mixed ingredients were transferred to the lined baking pan:

Transferring the mixed ingredients to the lined baking pan
Mixed ingredients transferred to the lined baking pan

The mixed ingredients were pressed down by hand:

Mixed ingredients were pressed down by hand
Mixed ingredients were pressed down by hand

A countertop convection oven was preheated to 350F:

Countertop convection oven preheated to 350F

… into which the baking pan was placed …

Baking pan placed in a countertop convection oven

… and a timer was set to 16 minutes (obviously, the photo was taken about 20 seconds later!)

Timer set to 16 minutes

Making the topping:

Eggs were taken out …

Eggs taken out

… two eggs were chosen ..

Two eggs taken out

… which were then cracked into a mixing bowl …

Egg cracked into mixing bowl
Two eggs cracked into a bowl

Ooops, I forgot to lightly beat the eggs.

Milk was taken out:

Milk taken out

Milk was measured out:

Milk measured out

The milk was poured into the mixing bowl with the eggs:

Milk poured into mixing bowl with eggs
Milk poured into mixing bowl with eggs

A bit of flour was measured out and added to the mixing bowl with the milk and eggs:

Adding flour to the milk and eggs
Flour added to the milk and eggs

Sugar was taken out:

Sugar taken out

Sugar was measured out:

Sugar measured out

The sugar was poured into the mixing bowl with the flour, milk, and eggs:

Sugar poured into the mixing bowl with the flour, milk, and eggs
Sugar poured into the mixing bowl with the flour, milk, and eggs

Salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

… and the salt was added to the mixing bowl with the sugar, flour, milk, and eggs:

Salt added to the mixing bowl with the sugar, flour, milk, and eggs
Mixing bowl with salt, sugar, flour, milk, and eggs

A fork was taken out …

Using a fork to mix the salt, sugar, flour, milk, and eggs

… to mix the salt, sugar, flour, milk, and eggs:

Salt, sugar, flour, milk, and eggs mixed with a fork

Lemon juice was taken out:

Lemon juice taken out

Lemon juice was measured out:

Lemon juice measured out

The lemon juice was poured into the mixing bowl:

Lemon juice poured into the mixing bowl
Lemon juice poured into the mixing bowl

… and the ingredients were mixed together with a fork:

Ingredients mixed with a fork

By this time, the base had finished baking, and was taken out of the countertop convection oven:

Baked base taken out of countertop convection oven

The topping was poured over the still hot base:

Topping poured over still hot base
Topping poured over still hot base

The temperature of the countertop convection oven was reduced to 325F:

Countertop convection oven preheated to 325F

The baking pan was placed again in the countertop convection oven:

Baking pan placed again in the countertop convection oven

… and a timer was set to 20 minutes (obviously, the photo was taken about 11 seconds later!)

Timer set to 20 minutes

A cooling rack was taken out for when the cooking was done:

Cooling rack taken out

When the baking was completed, the baking pan was taken out of the oven, and placed on the cooling rack:

Baking pan placed on a cooling rack

After a bit of cooling, the lemon squares were lifted out of the baking pan, and placed back on the cooling rack:

Lemon squares lifted out of the baking pan

I started slicing the whole dessert in half:

Slicing the dessert

… and I sliced the whole dessert into 16 pieces:

Dessert sliced into 16 pieces

Icing sugar was sprinkled on the top:

Icing sugar sprinkled on the top of the lemon squares

… and of course served!

Lemon squares served

Mom liked them; she also suggested that I try using my aunt’s shortbread recipe for the base, which I will try the next time I make lemon squares.

Making Vegetable Soup (Big Batch) — Photos

I started making vegetable soup in large quantities several years ago at my church to serve after services, and this weekend I made some for myself to have in the freezer.

Making the vegetable soup instead of another recipe from my recipe collection that I had planned was a bit of a last minute decision, given that the decision to go to the cottage this past weekend was made at the last minute. As such, being at the cottage, I was cooking in a different kitchen using different equipment from usual while making the soup (see pictures).

My 16 quart pot was placed on the stove:

Large pot on stove

A can each of crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes were taken out:

28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes

The crushed tomatoes were poured into the pot:

Crushed tomatoes poured into a pot

The can with crushed tomatoes was rinsed with water, which was poured into the pot:

Rinsing crushed tomatoes can with water, and poured into the pot

The diced tomatoes were then poured into the pot:

Diced tomatoes poured into pot

A can of kidney beans was taken out …

19 oz can of kidney beans

… poured into the pot …

Kidney beans poured into the pot

… and the kidney beans can was rinsed with water, which was then poured into the pot as well:

Kidney bean can rinsed with water and poured into the pot

A 32 ounce (900 mL) box of vegetable broth was taken out …

A roughly 32 ounce (900 mL) box of vegetable broth

… and was poured into the pot:

Vegetable broth poured into the pot

About a kilogram (a bit over two pounds) of mixed frozen vegetables were taken out …

About 1kg of mixed frozen vegetables

… and poured into the pot:

Mixed vegetables poured into the pot

At this point, I started mixing the ingredients:

Ingredients in pot mixed

A 32 ounce (945mL) bottle of multi-vegetable cocktail was taken out …

32 oz (945mL) bottle of vegetable cocktail

… and poured into the pot:

32 oz (945mL) bottle of vegetable cocktail poured into the pot

At this point, the burner on the stove was turned on to start heating up the soup:

Stove under pot turned on

Throughout the following steps, I kept on mixing the soup in the pot to keep it from burning on the bottom of the pot.

Next, a couple of onions were taken out …

Two onions

… then the onions were cleaned and trimmed …

Onions cleaned and trimmed

… then the onions were sliced …

Sliced onions

… then the onions were chopped …

Chopped onions

… and the chopped onions were placed in a mixing bowl:

Chopped onions placed in mixing bow

A potato was taken out …

A potato

… and the potato was cleaned and trimmed:

Potato cleaned and trimmed

The potato was sliced along its length …

Potato sliced along its length

… the potato was then sliced into spears …

Potato sliced into spears

… then the potato was sliced into cubes …

Potatoes sliced into cubes

… and the potato cubes were placed into the mixing bowl with the chopped onions:

Potato cubes placed in mixing bowl with chopped onions

Two carrots were taken out …

Two carrots

… the carrots were cleaned and trimmed …

Carrots cleaned and trimmed

… then the carrots were quartered to make spears …

Carrots sliced into spears

… then the carrots were then chopped coarsely …

Carrots chopped coarsely

… and the chopped carrots were placed in the bowl with the potato cubes and chopped onions:

Chopped carrots placed in mixing bowl with potatoes and onions

Throughout all the vegetable chopping, I mixed the ingredients already in the pot while it was heating up, in order to avoid burning on the bottom of the pot.

Next, olive oil was added to the bowl of chopped vegetables …

Olive oil added to the chopped vegetables

… then the chopped vegetables and olive oil were mixed together to fully coat the chopped vegetables:

Mixed vegetables and olive oil mixed together

A cast iron skillet was preheated on the stove:

Cast iron skillet preheated on the stove

… and the mixed chopped vegetables and olive oil were transferred to the skillet:

Transferring mixed chopped vegetables and olive oil to the cast iron skillet
Mixed chopped vegetables and olive oil in the cast iron skillet

Salt was added to the frying chopped vegetables:

Salt added to the frying chopped vegetables

Once the chopped vegetables started to brown in the skillet, they were transferred to the soup pot that was continuing to be heated up:

Fried vegetables transferred to the soup pot

The skillet was deglazed with water …

Deglazing hot skillet

… and the deglazing liquid was added to the soup pot:

Deglazing liquid added to the soup pot

Half a cup of rice was measured out:

Half a cup of rice measured out

… and the rice was added to the soup.

Rice added to the soup

Water was added to the soup pot to bring the liquid level up to the eight quart mark:

Water added to soup pot to bring it to eight quart mark

The soup was continued to be heated:

Soup heating up

… and brought to a boil:

Boiling soup

The heat was reduced and the soup was simmered for over half an hour:

Simmering soup

I continued adjusting the salt level in the soup until it was to my taste.

While the soup was simmering, plastic containers (in this case, reused yoghurt containers) were laid out:

Plastic containers laid out

Once the soup had simmered for over half an hour (probably coming on to an hour), the soup was taken off the stove, and transferred to the containers with a ladle (the golden sheen is the olive oil reflecting the camera flash):

Soup transferred to plastic containers

And the containers were covered, and placed in the freezer:

Containers of soup placed in the freezer

Of course the soup is tasty!

Making Mini Meat Loaves — Photos

This week’s cooking projects from my recipe collection was to make my mini meat loaves, the subject of this post, plus, earlier in the week, blondies and bran muffins. My recipe for meat loaf is another example of one of my easy recipes whose formal existence lies in simply documenting rough amounts of ingredients required to make the dish, as well as filling the freezer with convenient prepared-in-advance foods in portions convenient for one to two people; admittedly, the recipe hardly describes a particularly technical, involved, or challenging dish.

First, I checked my container in which I collect and save bread crumbs and bread pieces to see if I’d had enough dried bread crumbs and bread pieces:

My container of dried bread crumbs and bread pieces

Although I did have a sufficient supply, I decided to add to it, by taking out a bread heel …

Bread heel

… which was sliced into spears …

Bread sliced into spears

… and then sliced again into cubes:

Bread cut into cubes

The bread was placed into a countertop convection oven in order to dry the bread cubes:

Bread cubes drying in a countertop convection oven

When dried (and perhaps slightly over-browned), the bread cubes were taken out of the countertop oven, and allowed to cool:

Dried bread cubes

The cooled bread cubes, and some of my existing supply, were placed in a measuring cup and put aside:

Dried bread put aside

Two onions were taken out …

Two onions

… trimmed …

Trimmed onions

… chopped somewhere between coarsely and finely …

Chopped onions

… and placed in a bowl, to be put aside for later use:

Chopped onions placed in a bowl

A serving plate was placed on a kitchen scale, which was set to imperial units, and set to zero:

Plate, and kitchen scale set to zero

Four pounds of ground beef were measured out …

Four pounds of ground beef

… and placed in a large mixing bowl (well in this case, a large salad bowl):

Ground beef placed in a mixing bowl

The dried bread cubes and bread crumbs were added to the mixing bowl:

Dried bread cubes and bread crumbs added to the mixing bowl

The chopped onions were added to the mixing bowl:

Chopped onions being added to the mixing bowl
Chopped onions added to the mixing bowl

A large egg was cracked and added to the mixing bowl:

Large egg added to the mixing bowl

A teaspoon of salt was added to the mixing bowl:

A teaspoon of salt was added to the mixing bowl

And pepper was added to the mixing bowl:

Pepper added to the mixing bowl

Here is the mixing bowl with all the ingredients in it:

Mixing bowl with all the ingredients

All ingredients were thoroughly mixed by hand:

Ingredients mixed by hand

The meat mix was formed into six individual mini loaves, and three mini loaves were placed in each of two loaf pans:

Meat mix formed into individual loaves and placed in loaf pans

The meat loaves were placed in a countertop oven preheated to 350F:

Meat loaves placed in countertop oven

Partway through the cooking, the meat loaves were removed from the oven, and basted with the drippings from the bottom of the baking pans:

Basting the meatloaves with drippings from the baking pan

At the end of the cooking, the meat loaves were removed from the countertop oven:

Fully cooked meat loaves

The drippings were transferred to a bowl …

Drippings from the pan were transferred to a bowl

… and the grease was cooled solid in a refrigerator:

Solidified grease

The solidified fat was separated from the other drippings, which were saved in a container and frozen for use in some future soup not yet otherwise planned; the solidified fat was wrapped in paper towelling, and placed in the curbside brown box for municipal composting.

In the meantime, the meat loaves were placed on a tray, to be placed in the freezer to quickly cool down:

Meat loaves placed on a tray to place in the freezer to cool down

Sealable sandwich bags were identified with the intended contents and the date:

Sandwich bags identified with the intended contents and the date

The now partially frozen meat loaves were placed in the sandwich bags:

Meat loaves placed in sandwich bags

Finally, the meat loaves were placed in the freezer again, for when I will be eating them.

They are really convenient to take out for last minute supper plans for two, and / or to have leftovers for lunches.