Friday 15 January 2010

A Valentines Giveaway

"Love doesn't sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new."

~Ursula K Le Guin

Looking at the calendar yesterday I noticed it was exactly one month from Valentines day. I thought to myself, if I was going to have a Valentines Giveway I better get cracking on it or it would be too late. After all I want my goodies to be in my recipients hands well before the day so that they can have them to enjoy on the day.

And so today I am announcing my Annual Valentines Giveaway, something I like to do each year, simply because I love you!! So to each person that leaves a comment on this post I'll be putting your name into a big hat for Todd to pull out a winner from and whoever that is will get the following goodies from none other than me!

First of all a cute little sweetheart in the shape of a monkey by Ty beaniebabies. Isn't he cute? If you love monkeys, then he's your guy!

Next, because cooking is a huge part of my life and what I do, and because I love cookies, and because I always used to make special cookies for my children at every holiday, there is this lovely little cookbook, Bake Me I'm Yours, Cookie. Chock filled with over 100 different cookie recipes, this is sure to charm, don't you think? This could be yours!

Last, but not least a sweet set of heart shaped cookie cutters. Afterall, you can't have a tasty cookie book without some cookie cutters to use can you?

And, I'll throw in a secret surprise that I haven't decided upon yet. It will be nice though, of that you can be sure!

So, it you want to be in on the chance to win these goodies be sure to leave a comment at the end of this post. Spread the news, the more the merrier! You have until next Friday, January 22nd to sign up for it! Don't be shy!

And now to something more serious, the recent earthquake in Haiti. My heart just goes out to the people of Haiti so very much. I think this is one of the worse disasters I have ever seen. I think my heart broke a million times over the last few days with every story I saw on the telly. I do hope that anyone who can do so, will do what they can to help out. Todd and I are not rich but we dug extra deep to donate what we could. I wish we could do more, but every little helps as they say. We made our donation through the Compassion Organization. We already sponsor two children in Africa through them and we trust them. I have to say I live in a very giving country. The people of the UK always dig really deep when disaster hits and are so very generous in their gifts of aid. Colour me proud to be British! (Canadian British?) I dunno, it just makes me proud to be a part of a nation that is so compassionate and caring!

I was so tired the other day when I got home from work I didn't have a lot of energy for cooking, plus I was working on my art course and so Todd got the dreaded pasta for his supper. This was quick, easy and very tasty. I know that packaged macaroni and cheese dinner is not readily available over here in the uk, so instead of that you can use 6 ounces of dried macaroni and some extra cheese at the end and it should work out fine. Todd didn't seem to mind too much that it was pasta . . . there was lots of cheese and I think that made up for it. Then again, I also had made that apple/cranberry dessert, which gave him something to look forward to. He ate this anyways and didn't complain!

*Macaroni Beef Skillet*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Loosely based on a recipe I found on the Kraft site. I added a bit extra to spice it up a bit as theirs was rather plain. This is quick, easy and quite tasty!

1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 can (14.5 ounce) chopped Italian tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups water
1 package ( 7 1/4 ounces) macaroni and cheese dinner mix
1 cup shredded Italian Cheese mix (one that has provolone, mozzarella, parmesan etc. in it)

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat and then brown the ground beef in it, Add the onion and cook, stirring until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until quite fragrant. Stir in the basil, oregano, tomatoes, and water. Bring to the boil. Stir in the macaroni and the cheese sauce mix. Reduce to low and cover. Simmer on low heat for about 1o minutes. Stir. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over top, remove from the heat and cover. Let stand about 5 minutes, until the cheese melts. Serve at once.

There's a delicious Winter Root Vegetable Mash over on The English Kitchen today. Tasty, tasty!


  1. Good Morning Marie,

    The plight of the poor people affected by this disaster is just absolutely heart breaking. Every little bit helps and you have reminded me it is time to find a way for me to help them.

    I love the look of your recipe.

    I hope you are feeling and hearing better. Love and prayers.

  2. Yay!! I have all the ingredients for macaroni beef skillet. I can do it for for today's dinner. Looks so yummy!

    I avoid looking at pictures of the plight in Haiti. We have lots of tragedy in Southeast Asia these past few years, so I can imagine how suffering people look like. So painful to look at details... but my heart is praying hard....

    My girls are excited to join your Valentines give-away. They love your monkey! I love the cookbook.

    Oh, Marie.I didn't sleep the whole night, trying to learn how to bake bread. If you called your bread a doorstop, mine is a solid rock! I made 3 big rocks this morning and don't know what to do with it. the only thing I could do is write a post about it, haha.

  3. Marie, you have the greatest heart: you're always so compassionate about things happening in the world! I feel for the people in Haiti.

    You always have the greatest giveaways Marie! I'm afraid my Valentine's Day will be a lonely one again this year as Mr. X. has been M.I.A. since last week.... :(

  4. The macaroni looks lovely and the monkey is cute too! :-)

  5. I hate to watch the news Marie when these things happen it is heart rendering.There will be collections boxes scattered all over the place and in supermarkets where I live.Yes England is a giving country alway has been..If I cannot get out I will give my daughter something to put in for us all.Love your giveaways and my youngest Grandaughter is called the Monkey due to her mischievesness he-he.So all Monkeys make me smile.I am not a lover of all pasta but I do love Lasagne.Have a lovely Friday.Take Care God Bless Kath xx

  6. I applaud your Compassion Marie. Every lite bit helps and they will need our support and prayers for a long time to come.
    Ps. Your giveaway is so sweet and Valentinesy (I made that word up). I bet the cookbook is chock full of yummy cookie recipes. Sign me up! :)

  7. You always do manage to spice things up. I have to let you know my beans-hotdog-tatertot casserole was delicious. I cut the recipe in half and it still made 3 meals for me. Thank you so much for the good ideas you share each day.

  8. Dear Marie.
    I'm Sherry from a small Country town in Ontario.

    This is my first time ever posting a comment on any blog.
    Due to a bad car accident on December 13, 2009, I have been laid up and have had extra time on my hands.
    I can't remember how I came across your blog, but let me tell you I have been following it every single day. You have brought me comfort and joy with your kind words, and not to mention the "scrummy recipes that I'm going to try when I'm mobile! My husband is also English, so I'm dying to try some of the english recipes!!
    In reading your blog every day, I know with faith, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
    Thank you again, Marie for the enjoyment you have brought to me each and every day.

    P.S. Just love your snow pictures,
    and your dog Jess.

    Kind Regards,

  9. I am so proud of us as a people too...and I am so proud of our church that has 3 huge planes full of supplies headed there right now, and the giving will continue. Fun give a way! And that recipe is always a good one! Come say hi :D

  10. What a neat giveaway! Loving that cookie cookbook! Hope your package will arrive ok, I think I packed it nice and tight. I hope you like everything! Must rush, I am at work! Much love - Raquel XO

  11. Love is in the air! You do the sweetest, most generous giveaways, Marie... and this one is very splendid with love! Do count me in on the fun. :o) Today's recipe is a treat--such comfort food! Just popping in to say hello, dear friend--busy week...When is it not?! LOL! I'll be offline tomorrow, but we'll be home on Sunday, so fingers crossed we may get to have that catch up chat yet--I hope so! Happy Weekend to you, Todd & sweet Jess... LOVE YOU HEAPS ((BIG HUGS))

  12. As a fellow Nova Scotian, I can't tell you how much I enjoy your blog. Maybe our paths even crossed somewhere in the past!

  13. Thank you so much for a tempting giveaway. Thats how I see your blogs actually, tempting!!
    I have cooked a good few of them now and thanks again for converting the measurements.
    I always try to read your blog after food, otherwise I get tempted and bake more than I need.

  14. I love reading your blog with it's combination of personal stories & recipes. This is a really cute giveaway. I have a collection of monkey beanies, so I hope I win!

  15. Good morning, Marie! That wonderful skillet dish doesn't look like ANYTHING to complain about! Delicious! My family will love that one!

    What a sweet Valentine's giveaway! You're always so thoughtful and sharing! Hope you're having a beautiful day today--much love to you, dear friend!

  16. Thank you so much for the "Valentine Giveaway"! You are so thoughtful and the gifts are just wonderful. Hope you are feeling much better....I too have had ear problems and it is not fun at all!

    Take care and I hope that your weather has warmed up. It was 75 degrees here in Scottsdale, AZ yesterday! We really appreciate this climate after living in Minnesota for most of our lives.


  17. You always touch my heart with your posts. I, too, am praying for the people of Haiti. I am giving to the Humanitarian Fund who already has 160,000 lbs of relief on its way to them.
    I used to make something similar to your pasta dish as a mainstay when my girls were growing up in our home. Good comfort food, I think. Hope you are staying warm and happy there. Giveaway sounds fun. Have a wonderful week!

  18. I am indeed heartbroken for the people of Haiti - I will be giving as much as I can in fast offerings. You are indeed doing your share by sponsoring, you will be very blessed. I love your blog, every dish looks spectacular, can't wait to try this one.

    Blessings, Barb

  19. I want to try this recipe for sure.
    You know.. I think this Haiti disaster has touched everyone.. in so many countries.
    One of the schools across the street has the children and their families donating as well, and will give the money to the Red Cross, to go to the victims of this terrible disaster.

    Love your giveaway... have a great day Marie

  20. What a lovely giveaway, I would la la LOVE to win!

  21. You blog is so inspiring. I too, have been watching with sadness the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. I am praying for them and sending what I can. Thank you for your inspiration. Have a great day.

  22. Wow! I don't usually have a box of macaraoni & cheese mix in my pantry, but I might go out and get one just so I can make this yummy looking recipe.

  23. We're both in a macaroni mood lately! I love pasta and cheese....even if it's from the box, my nemesis!

  24. Marie,
    Thanks for your visit! Good to hear from you :)
    Your Macaroni Beef Dish looks wonderful and I think I have all the ingredients ~ looks like I found what I'm making for dinner tonight ~ thanks for sharing:)
    Love your Valentine Giveaway, I will share about it!
    Have a great weekend,
    Cathy ♥♥

  25. I too am heart broken about Haiti. My prayers go out to all of those courageous people.
    Your recipe looks delicious. I will try it when my grandsons come for a stay, they loved macaroni dishes.
    You always have such nice giveaways!

  26. What a thoughtful thing to have a giveaway for Valentine's Day - but you always are! I'd love to win any of those for my girls.

    Adding the recipe to the repetoire as well.

  27. Please add my name to the hat and thanks for being so sweet! Prayers to Hati!

  28. Monkies! I love them! I'm always calling my little nieces or nephews 'Monkey'.

    Pasta and cheese...*happy sigh* Good stuff, that. But...boxed mac and cheese? Blerg. I won't even eat that in desperation. The kids love it, of course.

  29. Great giveaway! Thanks! I too have been very touched by the stories about Haiti. I donated today and hope it does some good!
    Your pasta dinner looks good!

  30. Yummy comfort food! Wonderful giveaway! I have always collected heart shaped that we can love so completely!

    We are all finding our hearts aching for the people of Haiti. We all can do some good to help.

  31. The recipe looks great. My family loves macaroni and cheese(if it's homemade) and adding the ground beef is great. A one dish meal. My favorite.

  32. Well you sure know how to entice the "lurkers" to post a comment Marie. Long ago I connected to your blog through Food Network Musings (she has you in her favorites), and I stop in to read you whenever I can. Love your Mac & Cheese recipe. I could eat Mac & Cheese in my sleep. Thanks for all your thoughtful words, your delicious recipes and your cheerful take on life. DebCarol in Pennsylvania.

  33. I'm new to your blog and I have to say it's absolutely beautiful! The giveaways look adoreable and I'd sure like to sign up! ;-). That recipe looks amazing. I'm going to use vegetarian meat in mine!

  34. I love Monkies and that one is really cute and one I don't have.... I would love to have great ideas on things to make with the boys I nanny for for gifts for their mom and dad and Grandma

    Great Blog.....

  35. What a nice giveaway.

  36. what a wonderful giveaway! count me in!

    and i agree about giving to the disaster relief-we need to do all we can to help these poor people. it is so sad. i can't imagine what they must be going through.

  37. fab giveaway - i love the monkey :) please count me in.
    the terrible scenes from Haiti just break my heart too. i pray for them

  38. Hi Marie, I'm late leaving a comment, I always seem to be last! I will be donating through the Red Cross for Haiti, the pictures are awful, you can only imagine what it must be like for them.
    Love the Valentines give-away, it's really sweet of you to do that for all of us.
    Patty is settling in, she must be because whenever I look at her she has such a lovely smile! Lovely to talk to you last night, keep well, ~~~ Pat xx



  40. Thanks for sharing your compassion Marie - in Montreal we have a huge Haitian population, so we are surrounded by news about the earthquake throughout the day, and we continue to hear remarkable stories of endurance, and of people helping others even at risk to themselves. Thanks also for your very generous giveaway which would definitely be fun to share with loved ones. All the best, Michele

  41. Well done Marie in supporting the earthquake appeal I think every contribution counts and my minor worries of the past week have paled into insignificance, when I sit watching the news, it is so so sad. On a happier note yes please I would love to be included in your generous give away ... that is so kind. I love the cheeky monkey! Whenever we visit my husbands parents in Dorchester we always enjoy visiting Monkey World :-) I would certainly cherish a new cookie book and could do with some extra practice. I tried a Nigella Lawson (lemon shortbread) biscuit recipe to disastrous effect over Christmas. Think I may need to stick to my cupcakes. Happy weekend xxx

  42. Adorable monkey! I love cookbooks and recipes. I'm always looking for new ones. Love your blog and the great recipes you post.

  43. What an adorable prize! Thanks for the chance!
    Jennifer, jennem22 at yahoo dot com

  44. Woops - late again! Please can I be entered in your giveaway?

    love, Angie, xx

  45. Great giveaway. I love the monkey. I too hurt for Haiti and our church is taking up a collection tomorrow.

  46. Hi Marie,
    It's nice to meet another Compassion Friend. I have 2 sponsored girls in Haiti, and I'm still awaiting word on them. They tell me right now, no news is good news, still, the wait is hard. Thanks for reaching out to your blogger friends for prayers. Compassion is an organization that you can trust. I have to more children, one in Africa, and one in Nicaragua. Your blog is beautiful, and link I found thru Cathy. God Bless you in all you do.
    Linda @ Kindlelight Blessings

  47. I love the monkey. The Beef Skillet looks so good. I make something similar with a box of Mac and Cheese, ground Beef, Tomato Sauce, a can of Corn and Cheese on top.


  48. Good morning,

    I just found your sweet blog today. Love the recipes. I am a new follower!!

  49. Oh I have to try that macaroni skillet YUM!

  50. What a wonderful giveaway!!
    If Im not too late I would love to be entered.
    Thanks so much,

  51. You are having a fun giveaway here. First time I have been to your blog. Enjoyed myself.

    I am also have a drawing going on. Please come over if you would like and sign up.

    Blessings, Linda


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