Category Archives: Recipes

It’s Monday

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Monday morning. Most people dread them. For a stay at home mother, it feels like every other morning.  Caffeine, breakfast, cartoons, sweeping the floor, caffeine, clothes, dishes, laundry, caffeine…. you get the idea.
On the weekend, the girls got new rain coats and gum boots (rain boots) for the Spring. They were SO excited. I found a cute Ladybug raincoat for Charlotte at the local Goodwill store for $4 and it looks brand new! Charlotte loves, loves, loves bugs so this was perfect and it will fit her for at least 2 years. We found Miriam’s coat at the local Once Upon a Child Store, also for $4 and looking brand new. Hers is blue, yellow and orange and I think she’d wear it to bed if we’d let her. The boots came from the Tractor Supply Store where we got to take a peek at the baby chicks and ducks one more time.
*sigh* I really want to have a pet duck one day. Chickens would be nice too. Useful even. Fresh eggs? Yes please. But a Duck! I’ve wanted a duck since I saw the movie Fly Away Home. I know that was a flock of Canadian Geese but….
Anyway! Amongst dreaming about one day having a Duck and some Chickens in our family, the girls were all ready for some serious puddle jumping and just needed some serious rain. There were comments like “maybe the rain saw my raincoat and is scared of it” (Charlotte) to justify the lack of rain. Saturday afternoon, after some grocery shopping, the girls were in luck. Rain! They stayed out in it and walked up and down our sidewalk soaking it up. We realized that rain is fun if you are properly equipped. Just like snow is fun if you have the right attire. Getting stuck outside in the freezing cold without a coat is no fun but give you some snow gear and you are all set to enjoy the outdoors. It’s a great analogy for life really, don’t you think?
Last night (Sunday) it rained, so everything is well soaked outside and Miriam had to go out and get the puddle report. Our family usually takes mornings slow. It’s 10am right now and I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my PJ’s with a cup of tea by my side, dishes are done and the laundry is going. Getting dressed is optional most mornings. But Miriam was quick to throw on some clothes underneath her new rain coat and boots and was outside before 8am! She checked the front and then the back yards and came in to let me know that there were no puddles, with disappointment spelt all over her face. She went back out and did some art work on our pavement with sidewalk chalk, requested to eat her vegemite on toast outside and while she waited for her breakfast she stood out the front and waved to each car that passed. Timidly waved her little hand that peaked through her new, blue rain  coat. This made me smile.

Miriam- so sweet.

Wants to be adventurous.

Doesn’t like bugs.

Wants to like puppies and cats.

Enjoys the outdoors no matter the weather. “Coats are optional”.

Somehow she always stays warm!

As I sit here with my tea and the laundry going I am enjoying the smell of chicken stock on our stove. Peter and I have been collecting our vegetable scraps in a plastic zip-lock bag in the freezer. Things like asparagus ends, potato and carrot peelings, onion skins and left over parsley. We’ve also switched to buying whole chickens and Peter cuts it up into two meals- legs, thighs and wings/ chicken breast fillets. This leaves the carcass, which is perfect for making our own chicken stock. Saving our pennies (or many dollars if you are buying the organic version) and filling the house with this great aroma. So this morning I threw the frozen carcass and frozen vegetable scraps into our biggest soup pot, added a few teaspoons of salt, filled the pot with water and turned it on to boil. After boiling it, it then simmers for the rest of the day. Later today I’ll drain it into a large bowl, saving any chicken pieces from the carcass and then, once it’s cooled, I’ll divide it into a few freezer bags and always have homemade chicken stock on hand. This makes sure that we never use Chicken Stock cubes or store bought stock, full of which we are trying to live without.
This Monday morning also brought a phone call from a good friend, finalizing our plans for a weekend away with them. We plan on staying at a for one night in Ottertail, MN and then staying an extra night at our friends house in Waconia, MN. We LOVE these weekends together and plan on them at least twice a year. Our kids are all very similar ages and my girls already have plans on marrying their two boys lol. In two weeks we’ll be enjoying a mini-vacation!
What has your Monday brought you so far…..?

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Muesli!….. but now I call it granola OR ‘just call me a hippie’

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I make my own hummus. It’s yum and a superfood and my kids love it.
I choose to wash the diapers our baby wears rather than throw them away. Cloth diapers look so cute and come in fun patterns and colors now. They’re stupid easy to use too. (Maybe another post subject one day)
I don’t let my kids eat food that contains food dye. It’s bad for their developing brain.
As a family, we don’t eat much meat.
I often pay a visit to our local food co-op.
We don’t use bleach and you won’t find any product in this house that contains Sodium Lauryl Sulphate. Here’s why.
My kids have never had a dose of antibiotics (yet, at least. I know this may be unavoidable one day).
I’m already planning what we can garden in the spring.
Wanna give me a title? Stereo-type me?
Go ahead.
If you say hippie, I’d love it. My understanding of a ‘hippie’ is someone who makes intentional choices about their health and lifestyle, stands up for human rights and social justice issues and sees the good in others. This would be an honorable title for me to strive for. I still have far to go though.

Add to that list, ‘makes own granola’ now. I just made an irresistible recipe of granola. My favourite snack before bed, which helps me get through a night time full of breast feeding our babe, is granola mixed with plain or vanilla yoghurt and a little spoonful of my Mother-in-law’s fig preserve stirred in. SO. GOOD!

I can’t keep it to myself, so give it a try.

1/4 C oil (I used olive but I may try coconut next time for extra flavour. Here you’ll find a great oil comparison chart)
1/2 C maple syrup (or honey)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
2 C chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts)
6 C traditional rolled oats
1/2 C shredded unsweetened coconut
2 Tbs brown sesame seeds
Cinnamon

In a small saucepan, heat the oil, maple syrup and salt. Sir in the vanilla.
Place the nuts, oats, coconut and seeds in a large bowl and mix. Sprinkle some cinnamon on the top.
Stir in the warm liquid ingredients and mix it up with your hands until the dry ingredients are evenly coated. Spread the granola on an un-oiled baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake for 30minutes in a preheated oven at 350F degrees stirring after 20minutes. Remove from the oven and stir often if you don’t want chunky granola bits. We love chunky granola bits so I just let it cool in the pan and then stir it up before I transfer it to an airtight container.

*recipe adapted from Moosewood Restaurant ‘Cooking for Health’ cookbook.

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A week of recipes- Tuesday (Rice Pilaf)

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Tuesday brings us Sesame beef and broccoli.
My kids used to eat broccoli and call it a tree or a flower. This made it ‘fun’ to eat broccoli but they were only eating the florets. This trick also only lasted so long. I’ve been having more luck, recently, getting the girls to eat the broccoli stems by cutting them julienne style or in rounds. What they don’t know is that there are more nutrients in the broccoli stem. Mwahaha!

The Sesame beef and broccoli recipe from Jessica Seinfield’s ‘Double delicious’ cookbook was a bit disappointing. It involved adding a carrot puree to make up the sesame beef sauce, along with beef broth, soy sauce, ginger root, sesame oil etc. Once it was time to eat, it surprisingly had very little taste. After tossing in some salt to draw out the flavor, the dish was a little better but not great. The effort V result led me to put it in the ‘glad I tried it but probably won’t do that again’ pile.
The hit of the night was the rice pilaf recipe I made. This also came from Seinfield’s cookbook.
This recipe asks for brown rice which, as a family, we have been trying to switch over to. Our go-to was always steaming basmati rice and I was excited to find a brown basmati rice at our local store. I’m learning how to cook brown rice, retaining the nutrients but cooking it long enough to lose that crunch in the center. This is the tastiest I’ve created so far.

Rice Pilaf -(serves 5… apparently! But I’ll be doubling the recipe next time. My kids were asking for seconds)

  • 2 cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1/2 cup of cauliflower puree
  • 1 1/4 cups sodium-reduced Chicken Broth (if you don’t have any homemade, this can be a tricky thing to buy. I like the ‘Imagine’ brand of organic Chicken broth that is free of MSG)
  • 1/4 tsp salt.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, saute the garlic in the olive oil until it just begins to brown at the edges. Add the uncooked rice and toss to coat. Approximately 30 seconds.

Add the cauliflower puree, chicken broth and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook with the lid tightly in place, approximately 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Do not stir!

Let the rice stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

HINT: If you don’t have tightly fitting lids, place a tea towel over the saucepan and then put the lid on to help with the seal. You may need to add a little more water to the rice as the towel can absorb some in the steaming process. A trial and (hopefully not too much) error process.

Cauliflower puree is simply cutting the florets and discarding the stem of a head of cauliflower and steaming it for 8-10minutes. Throw it in a food processor for 2 minutes adding a teaspoon or two of water to create a smooth, creamy texture. This can be added to mac n cheese too! Cauliflower is full of good stuff that the kids don’t have to know about.

A week of recipes- Thursday (Pancakes)

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Thursday morning started out less than pleasant. Short tempered preschoolers and a tired Mum was not working very well. We spend our entire Wednesday out of the house (this is why there is no Wednesday recipe) and a lot of time in the car, not getting home until around 10pm with exhausted, sleeping children in the car, every week. This sets us up for a day of rest on thursday to recover. My almost 4 year old started asking for pancakes. Pancakes! In all this crazy mess of tears, stomping feet and pouting from the two kids (and maybe from me) you’re asking for pancakes this morning?!
It WAS on my list for the week and I had a sneaky suspicion that it had the potential to put us all in a better mood, so I reached for the flour and eggs and proceeded with the pancake idea.

The recipe is from ‘Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health’
Whole Grain Pancakes
Serves 4-6 / yeilds about 8 large pancakes / Time: 25mins

  • 1/4 cup whole flaxseeds (I used milled flaxseeds)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup water (I always end up adding a few tablespoons extra for a thinner batter)

In a blender or spice grinder (FYI my husband hates it when I use his coffee grinder lol), whirl the flaxseeds and oats until they reach a consistency like cornmeal. Place in a mixing bowl. Sift in the whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and mix well.

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk (I used yogurt), oil and water. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir just until combined.

Warm a lightly oiled skillet or griddle on medium-high heat. When a drop of water ‘bounces’ on the hot surface, ladle on about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and cook until bubbles appear on the top, a minute or two. Turn the pancakes and cook on the second side until golden brown, about a minute.

HINT: If the batter thickens before all of the pancakes are cooked, add a few tablespoons of water to thin it. Keep the cooked pancakes in a warmed oven until you are ready to serve. To freeze, place a stack of cooled pancakes in a freezer bag. When you’re ready for them, separate the pancakes while they’re still frozen.

Sometimes working with whole grain recipes, the pancakes (from my experience at least) can turn out rubbery or dense. These were perfect though. Fluffy, light but hearty. Adding a dash of vanilla extract or a sprinkle of cinnamon to the batter would be tasty too. After devouring these our day got a WHOLE lot better. It was like a re-boot to the system in this house.

We made these again on Friday morning to share with Dad, since he is home with us every Friday. I made a double batch and froze the left over cooked pancakes ready for Miriam’s birthday breakfast the next week. This worked out so well. They separated easily and we warmed them in the oven. No mess or dishes on her birthday morning but awesome pancakes. We serve them with maple syrup usually but have you tried an Aussie traditional pancake topping of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar? Yum!

Miriam on her 4th birthday….

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A week of recipes- Monday

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On Friday, the girls and I went to the library. Charlotte picked out some readers in her enthusiasm of her new skill and a Charlie and Lola story. Miriam’s first pick was a book called ‘Strong Man’ and her second pick was a dinosaur book. lol. She loves to scare herself.
My picks were a Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, “Double Delicious” by Jessica Seinfield which involves making vegetable purees and hiding them in regular recipes. “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver, a book that I have brought home before, but reading a book in its entirety has been a challenge these days. I’m also yet to open another beauty called “Made from Scratch” by Jenna Woginrich which is all about discovering the pleasures of a handmade life. I can’t wait to explore that one.

On the weekend, I found time to plan out our meals for a week, and make the shopping list AND do the grocery shopping in solitary. Pure joy. Weird that I find this enjoyable but moments to yourself with three small children only come on occasion so I take whatever I can get.
So here’s the plan 9 recipes, $73.59 at the store. Some will be winners, some will flop. I know this because I’m already a third of the way through my list so far.

MondayItalian Stew with winter squash and chickpeas.

A “Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health” recipe. Every ingredient in this stew is full of nutrients. My girls called it a ‘rainbow stew’. They didn’t need to know that it was full of potassium, iron, lycopene, beta-carotene, calcium, protein, folic acid and vitamins A and C. Perfect timing with all of these flu virus bugs passing around the area.

This was a winner and fed us for two nights. So here is the recipe.

  • 3 cups chopped Onions
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbls Olive Oil
  • 6 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried Thyme
  • 1/4 ground Black Pepper
  • 2 C water
  • 2 C diced peeled Butternut Squash
  • 1 15oz can Chickpeas, drained
  • 1 28oz can diced Tomatoes
  • 1 C diced Carrots
  • 1/2 C diced Bell Peppers (optional)
  • 5 C chopped Kale
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh Basil
  • 2 tsps Red Wine Vinegar

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In a soup pot on medium-high heat, cook the onions and salt in the oil, stirring often, until very soft and beginning to caramalize, 12 to 15 minutes.

 

 

 

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Add the garlic, coriander, thyme and black pepper and stir for a minute. Stir in the water, squash, chickpeas, tomatoes, carrots, and bell peppers. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

 

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Stir in the kale, cover, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the greens are tender but still bright green. Stir in the basil and vinegar. 

 

That’s it. Most of the work was in the prep. Charlotte helped peel the carrots and peel and mince the garlic, stir the pot and dump the ingredients in. It made about 8 cups in total.

My kids scrunch their nose up at anything that has much spinach or anything similar, so the kale didn’t really fly with the 3 and 5 year old but they ate the rest of the stew. 
Next post is a recipe from the Jessica Seinfield book, ‘Double Delicious’, Sesame Beef with Broccoli (another green that takes some convincing for the ankle biters).

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

Cranberry Salsa

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My husband introduced the idea of Cranberry salsa to me over Thanksgiving and I got hooked.
It’s sweet, it’s tangy, it’s a little spice, it’s fresh, it’s….. awesome!
And! It’s so easy to make, I did this while holding an infant.

One 12oz bag of cranberry’s
One bunch of cilantro
1/2 cup of sugar
One jalapeño (seeded and chopped)
Juice of two limes
(Or 3-4 good squirts of lime juice concentrate)
Pinch of salt

I put the cranberry’s in the food processor and roughly tore the leaves of cilantro from the stems and added them to the cranberry’s with the rest of the ingredients. I know a half cup of sugar may sound alarming to some. It’s to calm down the cranberry sourness I guess. I used raw, organic sugar. Does that make it ok? Lol. When I get better at this ‘clean eating’ stuff, I’ll probably substitute it with coconut sugar or stevia drops.

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Process until combined but still chunky (but i guess that’s a personal preference)

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Doesn’t it look vibrant? Perfect for the Christmas appetizer table.

I didn’t have a fresh jalapeño on hand but had some purée that I made at the end of the summer season, frozen into ice cube trays. I used one large ice cube block of jalapeño purée and it’s just the right amount of heat.
I don’t know if this happens to anyone else but the jalapeños are always overflowing on the plant by the end of summer and with children, there’s only so much we can use up as a family even if you make and can salsa. So with the huge bowl of jalapeños, I simply seeded them and threw them into my food processor with a small amount of water, poured the purée into ice cube trays and froze it. Once it was frozen I transferred the ice blocks to a freezer bag. It’s great for recipes like this and also jazzes up a bowl of macaroni and cheese for the folks. I’ve also made chili in a kid friendly style and used the purée to heat up the adult portions.

Right now, I’m going to enjoy this cranberry salsa snack with some corn chips.

Only hippies eat Hummus

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Oh this is SO not true.
Besides this being super yummy, which may be the main reason for it’s popularity, hummus is also jam packed with healthy stuff and is an easy way to get protein. If you have kids, even the wee toddlers that may not eat a whole lot of meat, or if you are vegetarian yourself, hummus is an easy way to get your hemoglobin up.
Did you know that one serving of Hummus (this varies from 1 tablespoon to 1 cup depending on who you ask) contains 8 essential amino acids? The name ‘essential’ is used to describe amino acids that our body doesn’t make on its own and must get through our diet. The amino acids are:
-isoleucine -leucine -lysine -phenylalanine -valine -tryptophan -methionine -threonine
The last three in that list are found in the tahini only, not in the chick peas, which is why it’s important to try and keep tahini on hand when you are in the mood for some hummus. This is particularly important for vegans who need to be aware of their amino acid intake as well as protein.

Hummus is high in Omega 3 healthy fats which are a good mood enhancer, helpful for those who suffer from mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Hummus also contains other crucial nutrients like Manganese, Copper, Sodium, Calcium, Zinc, Iron and Magnesium. It’s relatively high in vitamin C and B6 too. Who would’ve thunk it!?

Hummus has no cholesterol and because of its high protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates, it has been helpful in lowering ones ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL). Also, because you can replace high cholesterol foods like butter, mayonnaise, margarine and cheese spreads with hummus, you can improve your overall cardiovascular health with this wonderful stuff.
Making this yourself, guarantees the quality of nutrition you are getting. It’s also super cheap and you can have fun with it by making simple adjustments to the basic ingredients to suit your taste and mood.
Does that explain my mood yesterday when I made three different flavors from the one batch of hummus?
Here is my go-to basic recipe that is made in our house almost weekly.

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Ingredients
2 15ounce cans of chick peas (garbanzo beans)
1/3 cup of lemon juice
(Fresh is always best but the substitute works. Even adding lime when you’re low on lemon works)
1/4 cup of tahini, well stirred
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped (see below, for a quick way to peel garlic cloves)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons of coarse salt

Before draining and rinsing the chick peas, reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid from the can. Place the rinsed beans in a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth.
It’s that easy!

TIP: To quickly peel garlic cloves, rather than standing there peeling off small slivers of peel and getting garlic juice under your finger nails, you can squash the cloves gently with the side of a knife. This cracks the clove and it’s peel which should then come off in one whole piece.

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So then we move on to the multi-personality hummus.

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I made one batch, scooped out a bowl of the original (about half the mixture) and added roasted red peppers to the food processor. I reserved some of this red pepper hummus but left a little in the machine to then add some fresh basil leaves. (Notice Miss 3’s little hand on the food processor? She helped me rip the basil leaves and put them in). After processing this, I then had three different flavors of hummus for dipping or sandwiches.

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My girls will eat endless carrots, pepper (capsicum, for my Aussie readers) and cucumber, if I serve it with hummus. They have it on sandwiches with cucumber and tuna too.
Let me know how this recipe works for you and if you came up with any other varieties.
Happy Hummus!