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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Comfort Food: Ham and Noodle Quick Casserole Dinner #Dinnerin15

This week while out grocery shopping I kept in mind that school is about to begin.    It's hard to believe that the summer is over and it's time to get back to the routines of the school year and that busy evenings  are about to begin again.  As I was shopping, I looked for items to stock the pantry - items that help to make evening  meal preparation as painless as possible.   Some of the pantry staples I stocked up on are dry pasta, rice, canned beans, sauces and soups.  For the refrigerator, I make sure I always have milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, butter,  and protein such as  bacon chicken, ham & ground beef.  In the freezer I try to always keep frozen veggies, fruit, waffles and a couple of loaves of bread  Next up is shopping for school lunch supplies, but in terms of dinner items I feel I am pretty well set for getting back into the (school) groove.

Ham and Noodle Quick Casserole Dinner is perfect for an evening when you have to take one child to karate and another to guitar lessons.  When time is limited, you are going to love this meal.  And, it is made mostly from kitchen staples.

6 cups dry noodles/pasta (egg noodles would be the quickest)
2 cups Maple Leaf Cooked Ham, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil water to cook pasta/noodles, while water is boiling dice the Maple Leaf Cooked Ham.
2. Once the water boils add your choice of pasta/noodles and cook according to package direction - for the last five minutes of cook time, add one cup of frozen peas.
3. Place butter in a heavy saucepan or skillet and let melt.
4. Gradually add cream to the melted butter and whisk.
5. Drain pasta/noodles and peas and add to the butter & cream mixture - toss to coat.
6. Add diced ham - toss to coat and heat through and salt & pepper as desired.
7. Top with Parmesan and serve.

Serves 6

For this recipe I used Maple Leaf Country Kitchen Smoked HamYou will find it readily available at your favourite grocery store in the meat department.   I love having Maple Leaf smoked hams on hand, as they are fully cooked and can be easily heated and served, or use in a casserole dish such as the one I made.

This recipe will be added to my collection at Appehtite.  Have you
checked out Appehtite yet?  It is a great community of food enthusiasts like you and I who are looking for new recipes to try using some of our favourite Maple Leaf products.   

This Ham and Noodle Quick Casserole is creamy, buttery and tasty.  It is a good comfort family meal and can be on the table in about 15 minutes.  I hope your family loves it just as much as we do!

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 Disclosure:  I am a member of the Maple Leaf Foods Connects program.  As part of my participation, I have been compensated monetarily, however, all opinions and ideas shared on this blog remain my own.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hexbug Aquabot 2.0 is my kind of Pet Fish

I grew up with an aquarium in our home and have always loved to watch fish and find them calming.  Now that I have my own family, we've had various fish friends over the years.   The thing about fish is that they are (usually) a heartbreak waiting to happen.  Fish don't seem to have a long life span.  Now there's a new fish in town - Hexbug Aquabot 2.0. 

This is my kind of pet fish!

The Aquabot 2.0 swimmers are equipped with hi-tech sensors that can wake a sleeping fish in three different ways.  This patent-pending technology enables users to wake a sleeping fish by simply running their fingers through the water, touching the fish or even tapping on the outside of the fish bowl, which will cause the once-dormant sea creature to come to life and take off swimming.  These underwater dwellers also exhibit an inner pulsating LED glow that illuminates the Angelfish and Hammerhead Shark and brings them to life in a fresh-new way.
Powered by electro-magnetic propulsion and an automatic on and off sensor that activates when submerged in water, these aquatic fish propel around to explore their environment, swimming, diving and changed directions.  After five minutes without activity, the Aquabots will go into sleep mode to conserve battery life. All of these design elements were carefully chosen by our engineers to get children to think about the science behind the robot.  Now, kids can truly experience the fun of having a pet fish collection, yet, without all the messy clean up. 

My son has had a great time watching the Hexbug Aquabot swim around it's bowl.  I think it is pretty darned cute, too.  We especially like that it lights up and swishes about.  The automatic shut off feature is smart and a good way to save the battery life.  When we had real fish our cat was constantly harassing the poor thing and it made us laugh to see the cat doing the same thing with the Hexbug fish.

Hexbug Aquabot is an affordable fun toy for kids of all ages.  It comes with the plastic fish bowl and one robotic fish for only $14.99.

 HEXBUG Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hexbug
 HEXBUG Twitter page: https://twitter.com/hexbug

Monday, August 25, 2014

Five Appliances That Your Home Can't Do Without

Kids today take everything for granted. Perhaps we all do. As we move through our daily lives, we rarely put any thought into what life would be like if the things we use on a daily basis were no longer there. What would we do if we had no cars, buses or trains? How would we cope without smartphones or tablets? And where would we be without electricity, running water and a working sewer system? You don’t have to venture any further than the home to appreciate how easy we have it.

Here are five appliances we’d sorely miss if they were gone.


The barbecue

Many will be surprised to see the backyard barbecue on the 'can’t do without'  list. Sure, an outdoor grill is great, you say, but is it really a household essential? If you have to ask, you’ve never had to experience extended or frequent electrical blackouts and live on cold food from the pantry. A barbecue isn’t a luxury, it’s a lifesaver. If you don’t already own one, look at a specialist brand like http://www.zieglerandbrown.com.au/ and see what you can pick up.

Photo Source: Freedigitalphotos.net

The refrigerator 
Speaking of food, could you imagine life without a refrigerator? In days gone by, people used to cover their meat in salt to make it last longer. Then meat safes were invented to store food. You had to keep an eye on your chops, though. If they started turning green, eat them or throw them away. On a positive note, if fridges had been invented earlier, we might never have experienced wonderful dishes such as curries, invented to disguise the taste of rancid meat.

The oven and microwave

Still on the subject of eating, who wants to get their caveman on, head outside and start a fire just to have a bit of brunch? Nobody? The oven and its later cousin the microwave are two appliances that have changed our cooking lives for the better. Preparing a hearty meal today is just a matter of flicking a switch, turning a knob or pushing a button. They are so much a part of our lives many people today still complain about the 'chore' of cooking the family dinner, not considering the difficulties our forebears had to go through to get a bit of hot, cooked food on the table.

The washing machine

Many people avoid buying clothes that have the dreaded words ‘hand wash only’ on the label. Why? Because washing by hand is a tiresome and messy task. But imagine having to do it with every item you own. Without the washing machine, the weekly task of cleaning your clothes would be unbearable. Without washing machines, we might all become nudists.

The television

And finally we have the television or, as some call it, the electronic babysitter. This device is as much a part of the modern family home as electric lights and walls. It looks after the kids when we are busy, provides us with some mindless entertainment after a long day and keeps us up to speed on all the news and current affairs in the world. It’s fair to say the television, for whatever purpose you use it, is indispensable.

No doubt there are many more items in the house that people would list as a 'can’t do without'  item. It’s all a matter of perspective. What’s yours?