My Sweet Marie

Archive for January 2013


  • 2 lb (1 kg) lean ground beef
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 1-2 pouches  Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 1 can (127 mL) Chopped Green Chilies
  • 2 cans (14 oz/398 mL each)  Refried Beans
  • 2 cups (500 mL) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped tomato (1 large)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped green onions (about 8 medium)
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) sliced ripe olives – optional
  • 1 bag (300 g) yellow corn tortilla chips extra thick if possible)
  • Sour cream, if desired
  • salsa topping optional too!


  • Heat oven to 350ºF. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until thoroughly cooked; drain.
  • Stir in water and taco seasoning mix. Bring to a boil; cook 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Stir in chiles.
  • Spread refried beans in baking dish. Top with ground beef mixture. Cover tightly with foil.
  • Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until bubbly around edges.
  • Remove from oven. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese, tomato, onions and olives. Arrange 18 to 20 tortilla chips around outside edges of baking dish. Return to oven; bake uncovered about 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. If desired, top with sour cream. Serve with remaining tortilla chips for scooping.

January 29, 2013


“Above all else, go with a sense of humor. It is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lip is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.”
—  Hugh Sidey

This gluten-free side dish will go with just about anything! Enjoy it with pasta, steak, fish or chicken. In fact, serve them with pork chops,lamb chops or roasts!! Easy to-do and so tasty!


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  •  2 Tbsp GF balsamic vinegar


  1. Add all ingredients to a fry pan, except the vinegar, and saute until mushrooms are browned.
  2. Add vinegar and continue frying until liquid is mostly absorbed (30 seconds) and has reduced to a glaze.

I tried this delicassy one day when we were at Victor’s Harbor. We got them from one of those food trucks. Can you say yummy? Here’s what mine had:


  • baked potato
  • 1/8 cup pickled red beets cut into small dice
  • 1/4 cup ham julienned
  • 1/2 cup cole slaw or shredded cabbage
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese crumbles
  • mayo or sour cream dressing


  1. Bake your potato as usual, one hour in the oven or on a BBQ.
  2. Slit the tater open and top with all of the above ingredients!
  3. Enjoy!

While I was in Australia I would get regular updates via e-mail and Skype regarding my step-father Fred. Towards the end of my holiday they were getting graver and graver. I was completely naive to think I’d make it home in time to say my final good-bye.

Fred has been a step-father to me for almost 19 years. When we first met, he loved to cook, was a Mr.fix-it and loved to create projects with wood. We have a wooden bench that he made for us and now I will always think of him when I sit on it to get my shoes on! Once he married Mom the cooking eased off and she took over all the cooking! She just can’t help herself!

Fred had been in hospital for the last month with congestive heart disease. His organs were not working and it was causing him serious issues. He was to fight his last battle in that Chatham hospital that served the lousiest food ever if you asked him!

While on Skype with Denis on Sunday morning(Australia time), his phone rang and I told him to grab it. It was our brother-in-law Ken calling to tell him of Fred’s passing. There was no need for him to tell me as I read it all over his face. This was not a fun moment for me as I was a million miles away! Thankfully I had Jane there to hug me and I just laid low the rest of the day.

Sadly by the time the funeral arrangements were made it was Tuesday Australian time and I could no longer be in Canada by Wednesday! I would have had to leave early Tuesday morning to make it. So while I was in travel on Wednesday, my family was gathered for Fred’s final hurrah. As I passed the time inflight, I couldn’t help but ponder and think of Fred. I said my good-byes in the air and hoped that Fred would understand.

Fred was a constant in our lives for the past 19 years and one thing you could count on was his opinion! I often laughed with him about politics or if I wanted to really get his goat, I’d say something about John Deere. John Deere was his favourite product by far and swore that anybody that used anything else was nuts! He’d go on about for quite a while if you let him!

Fred will be missed most by my mother Bev. Her and Fred married 10 years ago but have been together for almost 19 years. They took care of one another in their own way which is how it should be. They were great companions often playing rummy till a fight broke out!

Fred left behind a daughter Shirley, her husband Brian, their three sons Brandon, Brett and Bradley. He also left behind his son Jamie and wife Maria and their two kids Samantha and Nicholas.

Let’s not forget that Fred also leaves behind my 7 brothers and sisters and our many children and grand-children! I’m sure he was met at the pearly gates by not only his parents but by our nephew David who was likely on a Harley!

Fred, I am sure you are in heaven now, enjoying all the chocolate chip cookies you can muster, walking freely without a worry and looking down on us all and bragging what a great family you had! We’ll miss you Freddy!

With love,

Sweet Marie

Although I was really missing my family, I was also sad about leaving. I had grown attached to these new-found friends. I feel like I have known them all my life. I was going to have a hard time saying good-bye to them. They have been enormously generous, kind and just plain fun!

When I first got there, I saw Astrid as this lovely tom-boy but she is so much more than that. She is an intelligent girl that happens to be interested in the engineering of products. She needs to know how things work. She loves to build projects with her father, and fix things. She really does. She’s also a sensitive little girl who loves a good book and the next minute can be down on the beach building a sand kingdom, castles are for wimps! She also had absolutely no qualms about being covered in sand by her brother Akira!

Akira taught me about bravery! When we took him for his surf lessons, the surf was huge and I mean huge. He let out  a bit of a oh-no but he forged ahead! By the end of that lesson he was up and at ’em on that board surfing those waves. I was so proud of him! He is the best mannered 13-year-old boy I have ever met! He is kind, intelligent and very talented! He will go far in life, of that I am sure.

The kids and I spent a day at the beach for the last time on Monday and we made the best of it. We were there for hours, we walked the beach, body surfed, I read my book and they worked on their sand kingdom! We didn’t want to go home as we knew it was to be our last beach trip together.

On my last night in Australia we were invited out to dinner at Bel and Sean’s. They have a Canadian staying with them too and all through the dinner, Jane and Bel would make jokes and say “does your Canadian do that?” It was good for a giggle. They made homemade pizzas and I was a bit worried as I am gluten and dairy intolerant, pizza being about the worst food I can eat! Jane had a little chat with Bel and come to find out, Bel had accidentally bought a gluten-free crust just weeks ago and put it in the freezer knowing she would one day use it! How lucky can you get? So I got a personal made pizza by Sean who is a marvellous cook! I’ll try to get his recipe for that sauce, it was divine!

The kids were having a sleepover at Bel and Sean’s that night so I would have to say my good-byes there! Akira was brave and gave me a big hug and said safe travels etc but Astrid, oh my, that girl was breaking my heart! She hung on to me and wouldn’t let go and said she would pray for my safety in travel. She’s such a sweet child! I miss her already!

That evening I wrote each of them a thank you as I was so grateful for their hospitality. They all went over and beyond any expectations I could ever have for a fun and happy holiday. They have invited me back as they have been invited here. They would all be welcome in our home at any time!

Russel took me to the airport the next morning and I took off at 7:50 a.m. on Wed morning. I landed in LA at 7:30 a.m. for my second Wed. morning! I didn’t finally get home until 8:30 p.m. for the longest Wednesday I ever had!

Overall I have to say that Australia was an amazing trip, I found the people to be very friendly, food delicious, wine soooo good and the sunshine unrelenting, Thank You God! If you ever get a oppurtunity to do it, just do it! The long travel is well worth it!

Yours in travel,

Sweet Marie

Being in Australia, I had a lot of lamb. On one given day I prepared the marinade and it turned out real good, so I thought I’d share. Jane has mint in her garden right outside the kitchen patio doors, that’s a nice touch! So here’s how to do it:


  • 2 lbs of lamb chops
  • 1/2 cup of minced mint (roll leaves and then mince, fastest way to do!)
  • 1 tbsp of oregano
  • 1/4 cup of honey (Australian would be best but a long way to go for 1/4 cup!)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic


  1. Blend all the marinade ingredients together.
  2. Mix the chops with the marinade and let sit for a couple of hours.
  3. Grill on a very hot BBQ until desired doneness.
  4. Serve with roasted potatoes in foil packs, mint jelly and big-ass green salad!