We’ve been enjoying the humdrum of normal life these past few weeks. Thankfully, for the past month or so, we have all be relatively healthy despite all the many colds and flu’s going around.

Lucas is becoming such a big boy, so quickly. I blink and he’s learned something new. This past week, I even started looking into registering him for preschool. Seriously, how can my baby be almost ready for preschool?? What scares me even more is that in a year and a half, he’ll be head to school. Real school. On a bus. I think my heart is already breaking a tiny bit. He talks daily about when he’s older and gets to ride on a bus like Aunty Tay. Lucas loves learning and is really starting to grasp and enjoy Story hour on Tuesday mornings. Before he had very little to say about his morning there, besides how excited he was about the picture he coloured and the candy Mrs Mya and Mrs Grace gave him. Now, he is really starting to talk about what the Bible Story was, what new songs they learned, and of course, all his friends! I wish I could be a fly on the wall and see how interacts without Mommy around. He seems to really enjoy it. With his new love of his friends, comes constant requests to invite kids over, or to go to their house. I love seeing my sweet boy being so social, especially because he used to be so shy.

Caleb, oh Caleb. This kid is a serious handful. He has a zest for life that keeps me running in circles. I love love love this boy to pieces, but he sure does make me pull my hair out some days. Everyday his is learning new words, and finding was to communicate. Early this week he came running to me and said “Mama, help!” I followed him and found one of his toys stuck out of reach. I was so excited to see him communicating so well. He is also very stubborn. If he doesn’t get what he wants, how he wants, when he wants, he will throw himself on the floor and kick his legs and cry. As soon as I turn my back, he gets up and pretends like nothing had happened. Caleb loves books, especially the type of books with real life pictures of trucks, animals, objects. He loves it when we say “Where is the shark?”, his eyes quickly scan the page and he finds and points to the shark. As busy as this boy is, he is sure a softy. He still loves to cuddle on my shoulder at bedtime and gives the sweetest hugs and kisses. He is also becoming very aware of his surroundings and gets frightened quite easily. While taking a walk with Oma a few weeks ago, we stopped to watch a dump truck and digger. He LOVED it, until the dump truck starting moving. He freaked and clung to me. I think he realized how big a dump truck is, and how small he is. He is also not a fan of strangers, specifically gentleman. The other day while shopping, a sweet older gentlemen smiled at him, and he burst into tears “Mama, mama!” he cried. Poor boy!

The boys are getting really good at playing, which is freeing up some of my time to get back into the kitchen. My monthly meal plans are going great, and I have the chance to throw in a few new recipes to try. So far the results have been great. Annie’s Eats is still one of my favourite food blogs and I have yet to find a recipe on her site that we don’t LOVE. The latest one I tried was her Veggie Fried Rice with her Crispy Baked Chicken. Mmmm, so yummy!! Another huge hit was from a new blog I found through Pinterest, Lauren’s Latest. Caleb gobbled up these super easy, super yummy, No-Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bars. I will definitely be making them again.

I also found myself with 5 very ripe avocado’s on my hands. I received a salad dressing recipe from my sister, and I hunted down a very simple guacamole recipe that we devoured by the bowl full.

Avocado Dressing
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Throw everything into your blender or magic bullet, blend until smooth. Voila, a delicious (and relatively healthy) dressing. I served this over a spinach salad with bacon, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, and croutons. And even my spinach hating husband LOVED it. I also love the idea of making my own dressings. My kids LOVE to dip things, and this was the perfect dipping consistency and would work well with carrots or cucumbers.

Simply Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup medium salsa
1/4 tsp garlic salt/powder
1/4-1/2 tsp minced garlic
S&P to taste

Throw everything into a blender or magic bullet and blend until everything is incorporated. Or to use less dishes and a chunkier version, mash everything together with a fork. Serve with tortilla chips. We had this for lunch today, and Caleb was licking huge amounts straight off his chip! Yum!
Enjoy the rest of your weekends!

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Cinnamon Raisin Bread

February 24, 2012

Lately I have discovered that we LOVE raisin bread. If it’s in the house, it’s always gone within a few days. Lucas begs to have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. It’s so yummy toasted with a little sprinkle of sugar. Mmm.

I’ve always wanted to try to make my own raisin bread, but I never came across a recipe that was intriguing enough to try. That is, until one afternoon I was visiting my mother-in-laws and she had just whipped up a batch and it was rising in the oven. It smelled amazing. When I asked for her recipe, I found out that it is one that I have had in a cook book since I was married. Sigh. If only I had known!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Adapted from the Parkland Immanuel Christian School Cookbook

8 oz lukewarm milk
4 oz lukewarm water
1 egg
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp brown sugar (heaping if loosely packed)
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 to 4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (***each time I make, I find I need to add a little more than 4 cups, otherwise the dough is too sticky)
2 tsp bread machine yeast
2 cups raisins

Add all the ingredients (except raisins) to the bread machine in the order given. Set the machine to the dough function.

Once dough cycle is finished, place dough on a floured surface and knead in the raisins. Separate into two equal parts, and place in lightly greased bread pans. Let it rise until it stands approx 1/4″ on top of the bread pans (1-2 hours). When fully risen, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20-23 minutes. Bread should be a nice deep golden brown on top, and the pans should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from bread pans as soon as possible, and let bread cool completely on wire racks. Once bread is completely cool, slice and enjoy!

I usually slice and leave one loaf on the counter for eating right away and the second loaf I freeze for a later date!

***Note ***
~The original recipe calls for 12 oz lukewarm water and 2 1/2 tbsp milk powder. My mother-in-law recommended switching out the water for milk and I have tried it several times and it works perfectly!
~This recipe also works great if you don’t have a bread machine. I usually mix the 4 oz water, 1 tbsp sugar, and yeast together to proof. Mix the rest of the ingredients together minus the yeast mixture and flour. Add the yeast mixture, and then slowly knead in the  flour until you achieve a good dough consistency (soft, a bit sticky, but not sticking to the sides of the bowl  in the mixture or to the dough hook). Let it rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. Then follow the directions to knead in the raisins/place in bread pans etc.

Some fall yummies…

November 16, 2011

Although the sun has been shining, it is COLD outside. I’m not a huge coat wearer, I usually just slip on my vest, but lately I’ve been remembering to bring my jacket along to combat the cold. I’ve also been making lots of yummy fall recipes that will warm you to the core. (Oh and PS: most of these recipes are quite budget friendly, especially if your hubby lets you get away with serving a meatless soup for dinner!!)

Please please give one of these a try, you will not be disappointed 🙂

*Turkey Chili – Yum, yum! I shared only a few days ago on here, but this is a reminder to go make it!!

*Creamy Cauliflower Soup: One of my favorite food blogs, Annie’s Eats, didn’t let me down with this delicious soup. Cauliflower was on sale a few weeks ago for $0.79 a head, so this was a SUPER economical dinner choice! Do NOT skip the Dijon Mustard, at first I was skeptical but it is SOOO good.

*Bacon Mushroom and Brocoli Quiche – This is the most adaptable recipe EVER! Use what you have in the house, even if you just opt for cheese and bacon or ham, so good. This recipe also freezes great. I usually bake it as usual, and then freeze it, however, I’ve heard you can freeze an unbaked one as well. They reheat awesome, and are perfect for those long days with the kiddies.

*Cream of Asparagus Soup: A favourite at our house. We had it for dinner tonight, and for the first time in weeks, Lucas gobbled up dinner without any prompts. Needless to say this is a near miracle for this kid 🙂

*Homemade Sandwich Bread: If you are looking for a go-to bread recipe, look no more, this is the ONE! The Hungry Mouse gives a fantastic step by step blog post on how to make this bread that it is almost error-proof. I’ve been meaning to substitute whole wheat flour for at least half of the white flour, but I haven’t been willing to sacrifice that oh so yummy slice of white bread fresh from the oven. I’ll let you know how it fares..

*Cheddar Bacon Dip: Okay, okay, so this totally doesn’t fit the whole cold weather food, but this is perfect dip to have on hand while watching TV at night, or hosting friends, it’s YUMMY! My favourite thing is that basically all the ingredients are straight from what I usually have in the fridge – the best kind of recipe.

Have a good evening! The couch and my book are calling my name 🙂

 

In the past few weeks, I’ve been taking Lucas and Caleb to Strong Start, an early learning program run through the public school system. They LOVE it!! Thanks to Karin for inviting me to the Aldergrove program. Since then, we found one operating in the school just down the street.

Lucas has completely warmed up to the idea of going to school, and he especially loves that Mommy gets to stay and it isn’t a drop off program. It’s the perfect way to expose the boys to structured play and a new social setting. They really have to practice following the class rules, sharing, being polite, using their manners, and sitting and listening during circle time.

The thing I love most about the program is that it’s a drop in program, meaning you come when you can. It runs Monday-Friday 8:30-11:30. It’s the perfect morning out, and when we having nothing to do, we can head over there to break up the day. I definitely recommend finding one in your area!! Oh and did I mention it’s FREE!! So nice now that most activities for kids in our area require me to pay for both Lucas and Caleb!

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe, but this one was a must share! I had pinned on pinterest a couple of different chili’s recipes. I’ve been wanting to try one in the slow cooker for quite some time, and today was the perfect day. I was able to throw it in the slow cooker first thing this morning, and all day got to enjoy the yummy smell.

It’s simple, easy, and completely customizable for your likes and dislikes. I’m sad to admit my kids were huge fans. I’m not sure if they were just having an off day dinner wise, after a busy weekend with rushed dinners, or if they just weren’t loving chili. But, I know I can’t please everyone, all the time, and Harold gave it two thumbs up!!

Turkey Chili in the Slow Cooker

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey, fried
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 can tomato paste
1 tbsp corn starch mixed with a bit of water
Seasoning salt or salt and pepper to taste.

Fry ground turkey. I purchased my turkey from Costco in the states, and found it nice and lean, and didn’t drain any of the liquid. Add onion, celery, tomatoes, beans, chili powder, and cumin to the crock pot. Add meat, stir.
Put on low for 8 hours.
About 1 hour before serving add the can of tomato paste, as well as the corn starch mixed with water.

Serve with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

Baked Oven Fries

August 4, 2011

Me and my boys love fries. Any kind: from a fast food restaurant, from the freezer, in the deep fryer, in the oven. We like them any way. Lucas loves dipping them in ketchup, and Caleb loves gumming them to death. When we go out for dinner, the first thing we do is order a side of fries. This side is usually large enough to keep both boys, happily occupied while we enjoy our dinners.

Over the past year or so I have probably tried 3 or 4 different make your own fries recipe, and nothing has even come close to our favorite. This recipe proved to me that I can make fries at home, and have them taste so delicious, you can’t help but make more.

The only down falls is that I found this recipe quite tedious…it will take about an hour from start to finish, with steps to take every 10-15 minutes or so…and it’s not a great recipe for a hot summer day, because a 475 degree oven is HOT! But I promise, hunker down and make them and you will not be disappointed.

I also think the trick to these fries is to follow the instructions to a tee. And, be sure to wear an apron, or a shirt you don’t care about, I learned the hard way. When moving the fries from the bowl to the baking sheet, splatter, splatter, splatter, ergh!

Baked Oven Fries
Adapted from Annies Eats

3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into even sized wedges (I used about 5 or 6 medium-sized potatoes and it worked perfectly)
5 tbsp. vegetable, canola or peanut oil, divided
¾ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Directions:
Pre heat the oven to 475˚ F.  Place the potato wedges in a large mixing bowl.  Cover with hot water; soak for 10-30 minutes.  Put 4 tablespoons of the oil onto a heavy, rimmed baking sheet.  Tilt the sheet side to side to evenly coat the pan with oil (a pastry brush can also help with this).  Sprinkle the pan evenly with the salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Drain the potatoes.  Spread the wedges out on layers of paper towels or on clean kitchen towels.  Pat dry with additional towels.  Wipe out the now empty bowl so it is dry.  Return the potatoes to the bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.  Arrange the potato wedges on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until the bottoms of the potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes.  Using a metal spatula and tongs, flip each potato wedge keeping them in a single layer.  Continue baking until the fries are golden and crisp, 5 -15 minutes.  Rotate the pan as needed to ensure even browning.

When the fries are finished baking, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain some of the grease.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.

Green Monster Smoothies

August 3, 2011

Oh me, oh my! This is definitely something you all MUST try!!

Anyone who knows Lucas, will know, that he is not a fantastic eater. This is probably a terrible habit that I myself have created. No, I’m not a picky eater, but I was always a bit cautious with Lucas and his eating habits. For example, when he was first introduced to solids, it was quite sometime before I offered him solid bits of food – cut up fruit, veggies, etc. Everything was puree and fed with a spoon. When he showed an interest in a specific food item, I fed it to him often to avoid a fight (Ie yogurt, apple sauce). Looking back now, I wish I had done things differently. I don’t blame myself, just glad that I have learned and can experiment with new methods with Caleb. Thankfully Lucas is now at the age where we can talk to him about trying new foods, or eating something even if he doesn’t like it.At dinner time, I will try to give him a few small pieces of vegetables saying that he has to eat them, usually he will eat them without too much of a fight. He also is at the age where he mimics others, if he sees someone eating a carrot, he too wants to try.

Caleb gets over 50% of his food cut and placed on his tray as finger food. For the most part I skipped infant cereals. I started off on them intially, but switched after only a few months when I discovered they aren’t really a good as I thought. Caleb now eats regular oatmeal mixed with apple sauce. He loves fruit – especially pears, blueberries and strawberries. For a while, he didn’t do so great with cut up veggies and had them puree for the most part, but lately he’s started to eat cut up carrots (cooked), peas, and beans – whole – he munches them to nothing! He’s not so keen on meat, but I figure that will come in time. The only real struggle we’ve had with Caleb is eating because of the independence he’s had with finger foods, feeding him with a spoon is becoming more of a challenge. He loves to have his own spoon and feed himself. But I believe spoon-feeding will be something of the past very soon.

Moving onto the Green Monster Smoothie. What a yummy, delicious, way to pack a ton of nutrients into your children, husbands, and yourself. First off, this smooth is so good! It has just the perfect amount of sweetness, you can’t taste the spinach at all, nor does it leave a funny texture or consistency. It was just all around good. At first Lucas was a little timid about the colour, as it didn’t look like his usually smoothies, but after some coaxing, he drank the entire recipe!! All three servings!!

Green Monster Smoothies
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Yield: 2-3 servings
Ingredients:
1 banana (frozen or not), cut into chunks
1 cup chopped frozen pineapple
1 pear, coarsely chopped
1½ cups orange juice
2½ cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
1-2 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. ground flaxseed (optional)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth.  Taste and adjust sweetness with additional honey, if desired.  Serve immediately.

***I omitted the honey as I found it was sweet enough, and wanted Caleb to be able to have some. I’m not totally sure what the age is that you can introduce honey…but just be aware.

Enjoy!

I have had a lot of “duds” come through my kitchen lately. Recipes that seem to hold a lot of promise, but usually don’t hold up to be tried again. However, this recipe is the exact opposite, just thinking about this recipe is making my mouth water. I have made it two times in less than a week using different meats, and both were delicious.

Balsamic and Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Loin

1 (2 pound) boneless pork loin
1 teaspoon ground sage ***I did not use sage, I didn’t have it
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water ***I also omitted the water, both my meats were going into the slow cooker a bit frozen

Glaze
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions:
Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine first two ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Stir corn starch into water and add to vinegar mixture. Add soya sauce. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

***I followed this same recipe a second time except I used Chicken Thighs. After the chicken was cooked in the slow cooker, I placed it in a baking dish and coating with glaze and popped it into a 375 degree oven. After 5 minutes, use any glaze at the bottom of the dish and scoop back onto the chicken. I like my chicken a little bit crispy and after 10 minutes or so, it was exactly that.

Go! Make it for dinner tonight! You will not be disappointed 🙂