Saturday, December 31, 2011

Catching Up and Moving Forward

Lentil Loaf
This recipe would make for a great stuffing. I would also add more vegetables like grated carrot, zucchini and spinach.
Spaghetti Pizza
This one was pretty tasty, but the recipe vas almost completely void of vegetables. We added olives and a side salad, but you really could top it with any regular topping you wish.

Molé Pork with Coconut Mango Rice
We did a bit of substituting on this one because of the ingredients we had on hand. I have made a molé chicken before but this recipe was way better. I also made it using my slow cooker rather than letting it simmer for over 2 hours on the stove. 4-6 hours in the crock pot worked great. I did add more water at some point.
This was Jesus' Birthday Cake. I make all our children special birthday cakes, so I thought what a great way to remind us all what we are really celebrating at Christmas. Here is what all the layers and decorations symbolize:

This week I am planning some French Onion Soup. The stock is simmered and ready to go. I am so excited. My husband has also picked my theme ingredient for January. It was too tough for me to decide. It was down to Lychee Fruit or Quinoa...

             And the winner is....

Heather Nolan "wins". I think I'm gonna have to think us some real prizes. Maybe a dinner made, by me, using the theme ingredient???

I found a good site that I think I will draw most of my ideas from this month: Cooking Quinoa Check it out and keep checking in to see what we come up with!

Friday, December 23, 2011

How To: Make Perogies

First of all, Merry Christmas! I am getting so excited for Christmas morning with the children. I think that making the perogies yesterday and staying up until 2am wrapping really got the excitement flowing.

This was my very first attempt at video blogging. It was more fun that I thought and I think I might do this again sometime. It's hard to teach someone to make perigees in under 15 minutes when it takes at least 2 hours to make. After cutting out my intro... I did it! So here it is.

Here is my recipe (or my best estimation at this point). To make approximately 48 perogies

12 potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
6 strips of nice bacon, chopped small, cooked
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 small onion, grated or finely chopped (cook with bacon)

Cook all and mix together well. Cool before handling.

5-6 cups whole wheat flour (or half & half with white)
500 ml sour cream (14%)
3-4 tbsp olive oil (if you use only white flour you don't need oil)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

January Theme Ingredient Search

December has been a lot of fun. I have learned so much about lentils. Most recipes were liked by all and a couple well loved.

But, it's time to start taking in ideas for the next month's theme ingredient. 

Post your suggestions...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Menu: Dec.19-24th

This time, I think these might actually be in order:

Chicken Mole w/Coconut Mango Rice
The original recipe recommends papaya rice, but I have mango, so I will go with that.
Baked Spaghetti Pizza with Basic Salad
I have mixed meat toppings of pepperoni, ham and salami

Lentil Loaf with Mashed Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables
This one looks pretty good.
Dominoes Deal, unless I have time to make my own crust, we will be ordering out.

Pomegranate and Citrus Broccoli Salad with Citrus Grilled Chicken
I might change the chicken to bass or tilapia, we'll see what I have that day. I prefer the fish though.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Adobo Chicken Panini

This tasty treat went on the menu this week by request. Our eldest son Owen, put this family favourite together tonight. It's not too often that we use french bread, but this was a nice treat. We have made this sandwich with more wholesome grains and it was just as yummy.

Ingredients (makes 4+ sandwiches):
  • 1 loaf of french bread, sliced at least 1" thick
  • 3-4 chicken breasts, cut into even sized pieces and thicknesses, marinated then grilled
  • 1-2 tbsp adobo chilli, in sauce, some seeds removed and puréed (I have also used chill garlic paste, tomato paste, any smoky chilli, like chipotle)
  • 1/4 c mayo (or plain yogurt if you prefer)
  • butter
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 mango, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 6-10 slices, monterey jack cheese (I only had sharp cheddar, but havarti is also nice)
Marinade Chicken (for at least 30 min):
  • 1 tbsp adobo chili, rubbed over chicken
Adobo Mayonaise (make at least 10 min in advance)
  • 1/4 c mayo
  • 1 tsp adobo chilli (or more if you like more heat)
Sandwich assembly (as seen above):
  • bread
  • spread
  • chicken
  • red onion
  • mango/avocado, alternating
  • cheese
  • butter outsides (like grilled cheese)
  • grill in panini press (or in oven between two very hot cast iron pans)
Hope you enjoy this one as much as we do.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Breakfast Made Simple

With four children and a husband who eat cereal most every morning, I am always trying to find ways to do breakfast simple, healthy and cheap! I have already put a limit on how much cereal I buy on an average month to help cut costs. Some of our other options are a bit more time consuming for me and in the mornings I just don't always have it in me to pull out the mad kitchen skills.

I've shared the Baked Oatmeal in the past. I have begun to prepare it the night before and just get my hubby to throw it in the oven when he gets up. A half hour later to so the smell of cinnamon and oatmeal fills the house. A nice way to wake up actually (not as good as fresh coffee though).

We will also make Red River Cereal or Cream of Wheat. I mix it with the children's favourite jam or yogurt. They love it, but some mornings this is too much for us all. They are anxious to get food in their bellies. As it is, they all get a banana (or half) every morning, but that's not enough for them on non-cereal mornings.

Today, I brought back an old favourite from the days when Graeme (now 3) was just born. It is so simple and takes only a few minutes. I think Owen (almost 7) might even be old enough to learn how to make this goodie. This one also travels well and can be warmed up the next day in the toaster, oven or microwave.

French Toast w/Maple Yogurt

10 slices of your favourite bread

4 large eggs
1 c milk
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla

plain yogurt
maple syrup

  • Warm up pan or griddle. I use my panini press, which makes this even faster and more easily warmed in a toaster.
  • Just like any other easy french toast, blend the eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a shallow dish large enough to lay a slice of bread into.
  • Coat bread in egg mixture and put on hot pan to cook until egg is done, flipping once. Cut into strips for the little ones to dip into their maple yogurt.
  • Mix plain yogurt with honey or maple syrup. This makes the syrup last longer and keeps the sugar under your control. Also good for pancakes.
We sometimes do smoothies as well. If you've ever had an avocado bubble tea, this is very simpler in taste and texture to that. I really like this smoothie recipe:

Like Avocado Bubble Tea Smoothie

1 avocado
1 can good quality coconut milk
1 cup ice
2 scoops vanilla protein powder (we use Nature Pro brand)

Blend the 1st three ingredients in your blender until smooth-ish. Add protein powder and pulse a few times until mixed through. Not too much after the powder is added. There you go. The powder has great vitamins etc. and the avocado has good oils to get that brain & body going (and more potassium than a banana without all the sugar). Better than coffee!

Now to tackle out granola bar issue. One for each child and hubby a day. We go through 3 large boxes a month easy... 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another Week with Lentils...

Tonight's supper was Awesome!
Well, I am thoroughly impressed tonight. I made the Red Lentil Curry, Brown Basmati and Chapati and it turned out so well that I am speechless really. The whole family liked it, especially the chapati (but there are bread lovers).

So on to this week's menu: (in no particular order)

Filipino Pork Adobo

Moroccan Chicken with Olives

Singapore Noodles and Pork
2c        pork loin, sliced (can use chicken or beef if you prefer)
1          tbsp olive oil
1          leek (or sm onion if you don't have), sliced
1          each red, yellow & green pepper, sliced
2          garlic cloves, minced
2 c       chicken stock
1/4 c    oyster sauce (or 2 tbsp soy sauce)
1 tsp    ginger, grated (I keep it in the freezer & grate in as needed)
1 tbsp  curry powder
1 tbsp  corn starch
1 tbsp  cold water
1/2 c    parsley or coriander, chopped
1 tsp    chilli garlic paste (or to taste)
1         small box whole wheat spaghetti

  • Cook spaghetti as per box instructions.
  • In a large skillet, stir-fry pork in heated oil until browned. Remove & set aside. 
  • Cook leek (onion), peppers, garlic for a minute. Add stock, oyster sauce and curry powder. 
  • Blend corn starch with water; stir into skillet, adding pork. Bring to a boil until heated through and sauce is thickened. Stir in parsley and chilli garlic paste.
  • Drain pasta and toss with meat mixture. Serves 6-8

Classic Meat Lasagne (right from the freezer, PC sale)

That's pretty much it for this week. I did come across this recipe while surfing on Pinterest. It just looks so neat that I think it might be on the Christmas dinner menu...

Crispy Potato Roast

Monday, December 5, 2011

This Week's Meal Plan Plus

First of all here's a photo and recipe link from the lentil dish from last week's menu. We added turkey sausage to round out the meal as a main dish. My husband and I really liked it, but the children weren't feeling the lentil love. It was an off day for us though, so I wouldn't write it off. We'll try again with another recipe this week, as seen below.
Honey Baked Lentils with Turkey Sausage
These are all new recipes this week and I am excited! A couple recipes are from my favourite Canadian chef's website; Chef Michael Smith. I started following his Chef at Home series years ago before Food Network came into my life. I can't believe it took me this long to look him up on-line. Check it out He makes simple home food that tastes great!

As usual these are in no particular order:

African Chicken Stew (served over brown basmati rice)
I plan on making this for two families. It seems an easy one to make a large batch of and like many stews, I'm certain it will get better the longer it cooks.
Smash Burgers with Wasabi Potato Wedges
For the wasabi potato wedges, I plan on just mixing some wasabi paste with olive oil salt & pepper and roasting in the oven like any other wedge.
Red Lentil Curry (served over brown basmati rice with Chapati Bread)
Last week, I visited a friend who lived most of her life in India and I was inspired to bring curry (which my children love) and lentils together. She also said that chapati bread was pretty easy to make so I looked it up. I'll give it a try.
Spinach and Beef Enchiladas
I don't have spinach on hand, so I will replace it with the beet greens I have stored in the freezer from the garden this summer. Beet greens can be a bit more bitter, but if mixed in things I don't think it will matter too much.
Fish Stew with Anchovy Toast
This will be my 1st time tasting and using anchovies (that I am aware of anyway), but I expect I'll like them. I will make sure to make plain garlic toast for the children just in case.

I am also amazed at how inexpensive this menu really is. I will be making the bread & buns from scratch, but all these ingredients cost less than an estimated $150. There is no reason healthy eating can't be for all income levels if you plan ahead.

Happy eating... pray all goes well for us this week as we try new things.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Baking 2011

I share so many of our weekly dinner meals, that I thought it might be nice to share with you some of the baking recipes I use. Since I don't actually do too much baking on a regular basis (aside from birthday cakes), I figured Christmas baking recipes might be a nice expansion.

While we don't have allergies, I leave out the nuts to keep it allergy friendly for the bulk baking I do every year for Bethlehem Live. Which is coming up this week. Come on down and check it out!

Butter Tarts
This is a recipe from a good family friend (thanks Mrs. C). I will make 6 to 8 dozen at a time. This quantity is for 14 tarts. I use store bought shells (usually from Costco). By no means are these healthy, so watch how many you eat at once. I don't wanna support diabetes here...

1/3 c      butter
1/2 c      corn syrup
1/2 c      brown sugar
2/3 c      raisins (or more if you like)
1/2 tsp   vanilla
1/4 tsp   salt
1 egg

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan, stir in everything else but raisins and egg. Heat slowly until sugar is dissolved and smooth. Take off heat, stir in raisins.
  • Beat the eggs slightly (not foamy). Mix into sugar mixture.
  • Spoon/pour into tart shells until 2/3 full. Bake at 425˚F for 15 minutes, or until pastry is lightly golden.

Unbaked Cookies
I've been making this recipe since I was 10years old. This is one I will make a 4x batch.

1 c         sugar
1/4 c      butter
1/4 c      milk
3 tbsp    cocoa
1 1/2 c   oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 c      shredded coconut
1/2 tsp   vanilla

  • Bring first four ingredients to a slow boil. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Turn off heat. 
  • Drop onto wax paper lined cookie sheets and chill until set.

Peppermint Patty Sandwiches
makes 40 cookies
This one is good if you can only spend small amounts of time at once because there are stages of refrigeration required. So if you have half hour blocks of time you can do a little bit at a time.

3/4 c    butter, softened
1/2 c    brown sugar
1/4 c    white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp    vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 c white flour (though I tried whole wheat)
2/3 c    cocoa powder

  • Beat butter and sugars until fluffy; beat in egg, vanilla & salt. Blend flour & cocoa and slowly add to butter mixture until smooth. Shape into two discs; wrap in saran and refrigerate for about an hour.
  • Roll out each disc (between wax paper) unit layout 1/4 inch thick, refrigerate for about 1/2 hour.
  • Using a round/oval 1 3/4 inch cookies cutter, cut out shapes (re-rolling and chilling scraps). Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze until firm (15 minutes).
  • Bake  in 325˚F for about 10-12 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
Peppermint Buttercream:
1/4 c    butter, softened

1 1/4 c icing sugar
2 tbsp  whipping cream
2 tsp    peppermint extract

  • Beat butter with sugar until fine crumbs; beat in cream and peppermint extract. Fill piping bag or plastic bag with corner snipped. 
  • Pipe about 1tsp icing into centre of half the cookies, using remaining cookies as the tops. 
  • Press gently, pushing icing to edges of the cookie.

2 tbsp    peppermint candy cane, crushed

  • Pipe a dab of icing onto centre of cookie
  • Sprinkle with crushed candy cane
  • Chill for about an hour or until set

If I have time, I will also tackle the classic Linzer Cookies. My Mom always made Jam-Jam cookies, but I was never a fan of the molasses, but really liked the jam. So this is my choice for a revised family favourite.

These recipes below, I am actually not making this year because of time, but will share because they are just so good and easy to make.

Sour Cream Cranberry Bars
I will make it for my diabetic friends, replacing the traditional sugars with splenda and agave syrup.

Deluxe Holiday Fudge
Crazy easy to make and good for the sweet and salt lovers in the family.