Monday, December 9, 2013

We've had the winter illness around here..

So I've been a little absent from the blog...please know that it was all due to one thing - GERMS.  The amount of germs that two little ones can bring home from school is truly unbelievable.  The last few days have probably been the first time in weeks that we have been illness free in this house.  And hence why I am now able to blog!

Since we were "down and out" the last couple of weeks it worked out well in clearing out room in my freezer.  That's the amazing part of double batching meals.  You make enough to put a duplicate meal in your freezer, and it all adds up quickly.  As if today, I only have 4 cooked meals remaining in there!  So I better get to work over the next few weeks at replenishing in case another "outbreak" happens around here!

Started out the morning by throwing some barbacoa beef shredded taco ingredients into the crock pot.  This is a great recipe that takes a little more prep than other crock pot meals, but it is worth it.  This recipe is a copy cat version of the barbacoa tacos from the restaurant chain called Chipotle.  It's definitely worth giving this recipe a try!

Chipotle Barbacoa Beef Tacos

I pretty much follow this recipe to an exact tee, except for the chipotle chilis in adobo sauce.  This recipe calls for 3-4 of those, I generally go with only two.  Remember, my gut isn't fond of a ton of spice :)

This week I also wanted to make those yummy beef enchiladas I made a couple weeks back.  They were really easy and super tasty, and a big hit at my dinner table.

You can find the recipe for them here:

Beef Enchiladas

And as I did before, I made the enchilada sauce from scratch :)  You can find that recipe here:

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Unfortunately while making the sauce I realized I only had about a teaspoon and a half of chili powder left.  The result is a sauce that is a little less red in colour, but I added some paprika as well and it still tasted great.

The recipe made a total of 16 enchiladas this time!  Enough for dinner for the four of us, and lunches for me and the Mr.

I came across a recipe on Pinterest that looked simple and called for chicken.  Since I had some chicken in the freezer, as well as all of the other ingredients for this recipe on hand at home already, I went for it!

Quick Lime Cilantro Chicken

You should definitely give this recipe a try if you're pressed for time.  Total time from prep to completion was 40 minutes.  I think I will serve this over rice and with a salad on the side.

Last recipe I made was the infamous garlic soup!  I've never actually provided the recipe on this blog.  I'll tell you why.  The recipe is actually a chef's creation from a restaurant that our good friends own in Guelph, Ontario.  Check them out if you're ever in the area - Atmosphere Cafe.

Here is a link to their website:

Atmosphere Cafe - Guelph

So I can't just GIVE the recipe away of course...BUT, check out the pic below and maybe you can guess the ingredients and sizing :)  If you think you know what measurements, comment your thoughts in this post :)  Better yet, go in person to Atmosphere Cafe and tell them Miriam sent you!

This coming weekend is going to be busy...I plan on throwing some Christmas baking into the mix as well!  I have to make about 50 cookies for a work cookie exchange, and I have to bake some Christmas treats for this house as well :)

Happy Monday!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Live on Rogers Daytime York Region!

Today was an exciting day! I had the pleasure of joining Jacqueline from Rogers Daytime York Region for a live segment about Sunday Soup Kitchen!  I thought I would be exceptionally nervous, but turns out I had no nerves at all!

Check out the links below :)  There are two five minute segments.

Sunday Soup Kitchen this weekend was all about preparing my meals that I was going to demonstrate live on air. The two dishes I chose were the balsamic chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker, and a red pepper, black beans, corn salad with a lime/cilantro vinaigrette.

Yesterday I prepared and made a batch of the balsamic chicken dish so that I would have a "finished product" to bring with me.

I spent most of the day prepping my dishes for the show, so there wasn't a lot of cooking going on around here.  Good thing, as my freezer has a lot of cooked meals in it that desperately need to get used!

I did make a chicken dish yesterday, that I have wanted to try for a while.  I've seen a recipe floating around that involved chicken, green beans and red potatoes.  I put my own spin on this so here it is:

Oven Baked Chicken, Green Beans and Red Baby Potatoes

3-4 bonesless, skinless chicken breasts
red mini potatoes quartered or halved
Green beans (about 2 cups)
Seasonings of your choice (I chose rosemary and basil)
2 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
Fresh lemon juice

Lay your chicken down in the middle of an ungreased glass baking dish.  On one side lay the chopped baby potatoes, and on the opposite side the green beans.

Drizzle with olive oil and add the minced garlic on top of the chicken.

Season the entire dish with your choice in spices. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over top of all of it.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 covered with foil.  Then take the foil off and bake for another 15 minutes.  SO SIMPLE!

Happy last week of November!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Getting over a cold and struggling with cooking...

Has anyone else been plagued with a cold twice already this season?  Or is it just me!  I'm slowly getting over the second "back to school" cold of the season.  The amount of germs brought home by children during the first four months of school is outrageous.

We had a busy weekend  with a slew of family gatherings.  Between running around town to various events and trying to get over this cold, I knew that I wouldn't be able to pull off a typical Sunday cook-a-thon. Luckily my freezer is fully stocked with meals so it's actually a good thing to use a couple of those meals for this week. I took out greek marinated chicken and a batch of potato and leek soup.

Chicken Cacciatore

Earlier this week my sister was telling me she made chicken cacciatore.  I instantly wanted to make it as it has been years since we've had it in this house.  I really don't make pasta dishes in this house very often, but figured spaghetti with this deliciousness served over top would be awesome!

I set out on a hunt for a chicken cacciatore slow cooker recipe and found this one from a blog that I've frequented in the past.

Chicken Cacciatore

I used her "quick method" set on low heat.  This took a total of 13 minutes to prep, and into the slow cooker it went! 

Follow the tip at the end - after 8 hours remove the lid, crank it to "high" and cook for another hour.  It helps to thicken the sauce.

Ground Beef Pot Pie

I had some ground beef in the freezer and set out on trying to find a recipe I made a couple of years ago.  Ground beef pot pie.  It's easy, calls for minimal ingredients and always turns out right.  I don't think I found the exact recipe I've made previously, but this is a close match.  It calls for half a cup of tomato sauce and thankfully I had a stash of my homemade batch in the freezer :)

Beef Pot Pie

I don't know about you, but I don't have time to make homemade pie crust.  So I'm completely satisfied with purchasing store bought.  My fave is the Pillsbury brand pie crust.  It's a great price, and very easy to work with.  I highly recommend it.

I'm sure my son will freak out when he eats this tomorrow night.  He's what we call a "picky eater".  Often when dinner is served he moans...LOUDLY.  Thankfully I don't take any insult to this :)  I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't make another meal for the picky eater.  That just feeds into the issue.  He eats what we eat.  He may not enjoy it at all, but he eats it.  It's healthy, well balanced, and gets in his belly!

Signing off to make the kids lunches for school...bento box styles and all :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Can Santa bring me a second slow cooker??

Lately I have been debating getting a second slow cooker.  Is that ridiculous?  I ran it by the husband yesterday and he even thought it was a great idea.  Since he’s usually the first one to point out when I sound insane, I think I just may start looking for another!  Ultimately, if I could get two slow cooker meals going at once on a Sunday the extra meal would go in my freezer! BONUS!

Balsamic Chicken & Vegetables

The first recipe I got ready on Sunday morning was one of the slow cooker kind!  I had pinned this balsamic slow cooker chicken recipe I found on Pinterest a few months ago, and I was really looking forward to trying it out. 

Here are some handy tips for this recipe:

  • I used 16 chicken thighs which is more than the recipe called for. I did not add any extra liquid, as the vegetables give off enough liquid of their own during the cooking process.
  • It calls for 8 hours on low in the slow cooker.  I would suggest checking it around the 6 hour mark.  Mine were definitely done at that point, so I was glad that I checked or the chicken would have dried out.  No one likes dried out chicken right?

Chicken and Cilantro Taquitos

I was super excited to try out the recipe that I didn’t get to make last week – chicken and cilantro taquitos!

In this house we love a good Mexican inspired dish.  We’ve travelled with the kids to Mexico for the last 5 years, and every time we come back home we miss the sun and their amazing food!

I follow Once a Month Meals on Facebook and caught this recipe on my news feed one day so was excited to give it a whirl.

The taquitos were simple to make, and do not require many ingredients at all.  The recipe serving size is for 8, so I doubled the ingredients and I ended up with 20 taquitos.  I have enough for a dinner this week, and the rest of them went into the freezer!

We had them last night and they were a hit!  I served them with homemade guacamole and sour cream.  From the freezer I pulled out the red pepper, corn and black bean salad (from the double batch cooking post earlier) to go along with it.

Mushroom Soup

Next on the list was a soup.  Leading up to the weekend I still hadn’t decided on what type of soup to make, and was really struggling in finding inspiration.  Thankfully a blogger that I follow on Twitter helped me out and gave me her mushroom soup recipe to try out.  

You can check out her blog over here: .

She makes her soup with a mixture of wild mushrooms.  Of course the grocery store didn't have a great selection of mushrooms when I went this weekend, so my soup isn't as "wild" as I would have liked.

I made a few modifications to the recipe so here goes:

5 cups of sliced mushrooms (I used cremini and white button)
1 onion diced
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup milk (I used lactose free)
1 cup water
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp ground thyme

Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic.  Saute until they are soft (approximately 5-7 minutes).  Add in the butter and allow to melt.  Stir in the flour.

Slowly add the chicken broth and the water.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Whisk in the milk.  Remove from heat.  Once cooled, puree in food processor.

This recipe did NOT disappoint.  I took some to work for lunch today and it was amazing!

Ground Beef Chili

I can never resist a sale when it comes to meat, and this week I picked up ground beef at a great price.

Since my mother-in-law came by earlier this week with two shepherd’s pies for my freezer, I decided to make chili.  I’ve been making chili for so many years that I don’t even use a recipe anymore.  Most chili recipes call for multiple tablespoons of chili powder, which is way too spicy for me.  So I’ve always put in the level of spice that I can tolerate.  Which by the way is MUCH less than 4 tbsp!!  Who can handle that?! 

I thought I should actually write down my chili recipe so feel free to try it out.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion diced
2 stalks celery sliced
1 large carrot diced
1 large leek sliced
1 red pepper diced
2 garlic cloves minced
3-5 mushrooms sliced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce (I used my homemade sauce that you can find the recipe for a couple posts back)
2 cans of kidney beans undrained (I usually use one can red/one can white)
4 tsp chili powder
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Cook the ground beef and all of the veggies in a large pot over medium high heat.  Stirring occasionally until the meat is browned (approximately 10 minutes).  Drain off the fat.

Return to heat and stir in all of the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a full boil (about 4-7 minutes).  Reduce to simmer and continue cooking for 45 minutes.

You can't go wrong with this recipe!  

One more recipe I'll leave you with...

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash, Leek & Apple

We had company on Saturday night and I made this amazing veggie dish I had pinned a little while ago on Pinterest.

Honestly, this recipe was simple.  The only part about it that I can't stand is cutting butternut squash.  Or any squash for that matter.  Why are they so darn hard to get a knife through!!  Anyways, dig deep and try and get past that and make this dish!

I have a really good friend who despises all things VEGETABLES.  I'm going to make her come over one day soon and try this dish out.  The maple glaze makes it taste like candy.  How could she not like it!

Now go on and get your cook on!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Let's talk about my GUT..

I'm lactose intolerant.  When I was 18 that's what the doctors told me.  Not a big deal right?  That wasn't the only news I received in the hospital that day. 

After a year of being extremely ill, months of arguing with my doctor that I just KNEW what I had (by Googling my symptoms of course), I was finally given the news - I have Crohn's disease.

For those of you who don't know what Crohn's disease is, I'll give you a quick (and non-graphic) explanation.

Crohn's is an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract causing a wide variety of symptoms.  I won't get into the gory details, but some of the symptoms include extreme abdominal pain, weight loss, anemia, and a lot more. 

There is no cure for Crohn's…YET.  Even though many organizations such as the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada have completed excellent research over the years, they still do not know exactly what causes it, and how to rid a body of it.

Throughout the years I have tried a cocktail of various medications, from Prednisone to Pentasa to Imuran and more.  Each time the drugs would work for awhile, whether it be a month or years, but ultimately none of them were the long-term solution that I was looking for. 

My Crohn's disease is typically brought on by stress.  For me, any major life event or change gets my body all wound up, and then I have a "flare up" and get ill.  For the past 6 years I have been on a drug that has literally allowed me to have a normal life!  Since starting on Remicade, I have not had a single flare up.

So you may be asking, why is she telling me all of this?! 

Living with Crohn's disease means that I have to watch and monitor everything that I eat.  I’ve had this disease for almost 18 years (nearly half my life), and today with the help of drugs and a special diet, my Crohn’s is much easier to manage, though it definitely wasn't always.

I lead a lactose free life, I can't eat spicy foods, and I can't eat greasy foods (okay sometimes I cheat and do it anyways, but pay for it LARGE).  I always have to be cognizant of what is in meals that I didn't make myself.

I still drink milk, cause it does a body good! It just has to be lactose free.  When I was first diagnosed 18 years ago, there was no such thing as lactose free milk. There was only Soy Milk, which I really do not like.  Today, when I go to the milk section in the grocery store I am amazed at how far we have come!  Seriously, the other day I saw lactose free CHOCOLATE MILK!!

I cannot have cream of any kind, so all of my recipes are modified to exclude this ingredient.  If a recipe calls for cream, I substitute lactose free milk in its place.  Extremely spicy foods and me also do NOT mix.  My gut can tolerate a little bit of spice, but I have to be the one who controls just how much is going into the recipe.  Otherwise I will pay for it for DAYS, and it's really just not worth the pain.

I've always been envious of people that can eat anything.  I would give my right arm to be able to eat any type of ice cream, cheesecake, brie cheese, just to name a few :)

I watch my children eat anything under the sun.  They love ice cream, cheese, milk, and all sorts of other things that my gut could never handle.  My wish for them is to always have that luxury, and to never suffer like I have in the past.  When I was 18 years old, Crohn's defined me.  It took over my life, shattered my last year of high school, and made me change so many aspects of my life without my permission.

Throughout the years I've shared my Crohn's disease experience with others, counseled friends and strangers who had just been diagnosed, but above all, have managed to lead a normal life that I didn't always believe was possible. 

And for that, I am thankful :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cooking and some nice family time!

I had an ambitious Sunday Soup Kitchen on the menu for today...but it didn't quite all happen like I thought it was going to.  That's okay though - thank goodness for a freezer filled with dinners!  I went in there later today and scooped up a couple of meals to thaw and use for this week.

We had a family gathering this afternoon, and between that and the kiddies swim lessons I only had time to pull off three meals today.

Oh - and did I say how much I love daylight savings time?! Nothing like an extra hour on a Sunday :)

As soon as I got up this morning I started out with a recipe that I pinned from Pinterest a couple months ago and have been wanting to try for awhile now.  It looked simple enough and it's from this great blog called "Budget Bytes".  This blogger will actually break down the price that it costs to make the recipe, and each of her dishes are CHEAP!

Greek Marinated Chicken

Thankfully chicken drumsticks were on sale at Loblaws this week and I got two flats for a total of $10!

I followed the recipe to a tee, and it turned out awesome.  Since I made a large batch I got to freeze half of it too!

Next up is a favourite of mine to make in the Fall and Winter - potato and leek soup!  There are many recipes out there but I've made up my own over the years to suit our taste (and also my lactose  of intolerance) as most of them call for heavy cream which I never cook with .

Potatoe and Leek Soup

4 medium potatoes
1 large carrot
1 celery stalk
1 clove of garlic
1 onion
3 large leeks
4 cups of chicken stock
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup of milk (optional)

Peel the potatoes and carrots and chop roughly.  Chop the celery and garlic.  Take off the green stalky part of the leek and then slice.

In a large pot on medium heat melt the butter, then add the vegetables and let them "sweat" for about 8 minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil then immediately reduce to simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from heat.  At this point you can add the milk, or choose to leave it out.

Let the soup cool completely, then I blitz it in the food processor for a smoother consistency.

Serve with fresh chives and/or grated cheddar cheese on top!

The last meal of the day was a slow cooker kind of dish - another Pinterest find!  Apple cinnamon slow cooker porkloin.

Decided to try this out since I had two pork tenderloins in the freezer.  This dish was easy, and only requires 3-4 hours in the slow cooker.  Talk about minimal ingredients too.  Pork, one apple, one onion, honey and cinnamon!  And it looked very pretty going into the slow cooker :)

Apple Cinnamon Slow Cooker Porkloin

My house smells amazing right now!

I also wanted to make another new dish this weekend but ran out of time - chicken taquitos!  That will be on the menu for next Sunday Soup Kitchen for sure.

What's on your meal plans for the week ahead?

Monday, October 28, 2013

All about BEEF!

So the husband has been complaining that we eat too much chicken.  Who doesn't love chicken?  It's pretty much my favourite meat, but he's more of a red meat fan.  This week I decided to be a kind wife and do ALL red meat.  Good thing ground beef was on sale last week when I went grocery shopping!

Last week I spent some time going through my cookbooks (yep, I took out the good OLD cookbooks!) and Pinterest, and looking through some pics that friends had recently posted on Facebook and Instagram.

With all of my research in my backpocket I decided on the meals I was going to make:

Ground Beef Wellington
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Beef Enchiladas

I only made three meals this weekend as I still had some yummy goodness in my chest freezer.  So I went ahead and pulled out a dish my mother-in-law made me a few weeks back - chicken thighs and drumsticks with a grape tomato coulis served over brown rice.  I absolutely LOVE pulling ready made meals out of the freezer.  But, even though they're already made they always require some sort of warming in the oven, or on the stove-top, so after a long day of work it still takes some time to get it on the table before the children are freaking out :)

As soon as I rose out of my slumber on Sunday morning I started prepping the ingredients for the slow cooker beef stew.  I've made this recipe over a dozen times and it always tastes amazing.  I used to own a Crock Pot brand slow cooker and this was a recipe from Crock Pot themselves.  I currently own a Hamilton Beach slow cooker which is just as good :)

Here is the recipe:

I usually modify this and add maybe two more potatoes, a total of three celery stalks, and two carrots.  In the past I have also thrown some mushrooms in the mix as well.  Cook it on low for 10 hours and it's perfect!  I did once follow the directions to cook it on high, and it definitely overcooked the meat a little too crisp for my liking.

After I had the crock pot up and running, I started out on the next recipe that called for ground beef!

This recipe I haven't made since I was on maternity leave with my son.  That year I made it more than a few times and it turns out great each time, and is really simple to make.  It's from one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks.  Jamie Oliver has some great recipes if you haven't checked him out before.  They're all relatively easy, and always turn out tasting great.

Here's the recipe from another food bloggers' web site:

The only modification I make to this recipe is that I do not put the frozen peas in.  I just really dislike peas.  They're mushy, and don't have a great taste (in my honest opinion) so I leave them out.  The recipe calls for fresh rosemary but I have always used the dried version just because I always forget to buy the fresh sprigs when I'm at the store.

Because I had only ever made this while on maternity leave I was always baking the recipe and serving it that same night.  When I realized that it takes an hour to bake I went ahead and baked it on Sunday, and let it cool completely and wrapped it in tin foil.  This dish we will have on Tuesday.  What I plan on doing is keeping it wrapped in the tin foil and placing it back in the oven to warm (probably at 350 for about 25 minutes).  I will then remove the foil and let it continue to bake for another few minutes before taking it out.

The last ground beef recipe I tackled has been an ongoing request from the husband over the last few months - beef enchiladas!  When I saw a friend of mine making them on Facebook a few weeks back I immediately contacted her for the goods!

She provided me with the following recipe:

I made a slight modification based on a tip from my well as the zucchini and onion that is in the ground beef mixture, I added some mushrooms too.  About 1/4 cup of sliced mushrooms.  I chopped up all of the vegetables extra small so that they would remain hidden from the kids.  My kiddies do not like zucchini or mushrooms so whenever I cook with those veggies I make them very well hidden :)  And NEITHER of them even knew they were in there tonight when we ate them! HA!

And as I set out making this recipe I realized I forgot to buy enchilada sauce!  Since I was already deep into Sunday Soup Kitchen at that point I decided to search my Pinterest board as I remembered pinning an enchilada sauce recipe a few weeks back.  Good thing it was there and pretty easy to make!

Here is the recipe for homemade red enchilada sauce:

Since it was pretty simple to make, I don't think I will ever buy pre-made enchilada sauce now!

For this recipe I cooked the ground beef/veggie mixture, made the enchilada sauce, assembled all of the enchiladas and then placed them in a dish and wrapped them in tin foil.  In the fridge they went as we were having them tonight (Monday).

So tonight I placed them in the oven covered in tin foil for 30 minutes at 350...then took them out and sprinkled cheese on them...then back in until the cheese melted.  They were delicious and everyone chowed down!

I ended up with a total of 15 enchiladas.  Enough for dinner for the four of us, and lunches for me and the husband!

And if you've been reading my blog, you should know by now that on Sunday I also made (of course!) banana chocolate chip muffins and pizza pinwheels.

And before I sign off, in other good news I am now a member of the Food Bloggers of Canada!  They have a great website that provides links to a bunch of amazing food bloggers across Canada so if you're looking for inspiration and ideas check them out!

Nitey nite!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Soup Kitchen Partner's in Cooking!

So today was AMAZING and sooo much fun!  Cooking with a friend made it easier, different, and we ended up with TONS of food for our freezer!

In total we spent around $100 between the both of us and made all sorts of goodness for only $50 each!  I can't believe the amount of food I went home with :)

There are many important factors we had to keep in mind to make this go off without a hitch:

1.  Organization
2.  High quantity of food
3.  Grocery list completed in advance
4.  Groceries purchased in advance
5.  Recipes printed/on hand
6.  And for me - loading everything up in the car to bring to her house!

We each purchased our own groceries for two meals each that we were going to make, and double, and bringing enough stuff from our pantry for banana bread chocolate chip muffins, and I bought the fixins for a batch of pizza pinwheels for our kids.

When I showed up on her doorstep I had to take a picture of all that I came with because it was beyond ridiculous.  The hubby asked me where the heck I was going with all that stuff!  Used every single thing in my baskets/bags.  We had so much fun prepping, chatting and catching up, and cooking up a storm in what was only 4 hours in total!

So we made two slow cooker meals which we got prepped and in the crockpots right away as they both took 4 hours on high to make.  Perfect timing with everything else we were making while those meals were on the go.

I made a white bean chicken chili was was easy, and smells divine!  The only thing I did in advance prior to getting to her house, was dice the chicken in advance.  Side note:  I HATE touching raw chicken.  Biggest pet peeve ever!

My friend made a delicious squash and chickpea curry that made a huge batch as well and tastes YUM!

So while our meals were cooking in the crockpot we began our other recipes.

My friend made a ridiculously yummy stuffed meatloaf.  The recipe is from a cookbook which I forgot to take a picture of, but here is a recipe link that is similar to the one she made:

She used a combination of ground beef and ground chicken.  I can't wait to try it out this week!  We didn't cook it, just wrapped the meatloaf in tin foil to be cooked whenever we want to make it.  I have one in the freezer and one in my fridge :)

Next up I was working on a blackbean, corn, and red pepper salad with a lime/cilantro vinaigrette.  We each tried a bowl of the finished product - to die for!  I've placed my baggies of the salad in the freezer to use at a later date :)

After we finished up these recipes we made some of Miriam's Sunday Soup Kitchen staples:  Banana bread choco-chip muffins, and pizza pinwheels.  Her kiddies taste tested the finished product and they were a hit!  Into the freezer they all went!

We were so impressed with all the food we made, and we've made a pact to keep this up once a month, get together, cook, and share some laughs all while filling our freezer for our families.

This last pic made my day - the complete batch cooking!

And remember, it only cost us $50 each - AMAZING.

Happy cooking to all my peeps!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Batch cooking with a friend this Sunday!

Been a little slacker over the last hit with a mega cold so soup kitchen didn't happen last weekend :(

Thank goodness this Sunday is the day that a friend and I are getting together in her kitchen to cook up a storm!

We've been planning this out for weeks now..what to shopping lists...and how to do it!

We're going to get together first thing in the morning and cook in one kitchen, each making two dinners and double batching them so we will walk away with four meals each!  Plus we're going to bake some muffins double batch style, and pizza rolls double batch as well.  We'll have some yummy stuff in the freezer.  Thank goodness for big chest freezers.  Last week when I was sick I had tons of dinners in there that I pulled out!

Over the last few days we had barbacoa beef tacos, chicken noodle soup, shepherds pie, and then one day of "brupper" - a.k.a. breakfast for supper - bacon and eggs!  Kids always love it when it's a brupper night.

So for this Sunday the line up is:

I'm making chicken and white bean chili in the crockpot, and a big batch of blackbean/corn/red pepper salad that goes awesome as a huge side to a meal.

The chicken/corn/white bean chili recipe is here:

The black bean salad with corn/red peppers/avocado/lime/cilantro is here:

This salad will go in the freezer, but I won't add the avocados till the day we pull it out and eat it - avocados don't freeze well, or refrigerate well in my opinion after you have opened and cut it up.  So unless you want brown avocado mush in it I wouldn't add that until the day of.

Thinking of also making our garlic soup as it always makes a huge double batch and then she can have a batch too in her freezer.

I'll be bringing all my ingredients and my crockpot.  Completed my grocery shopping for everything as well!  All set!

My friend will be making some yummy stuffed meatloaves (will post recipe Sunday) and a vegetarian dish - a squash and chickpea curry which you can find the recipe for here:

What are you cooking/baking this weekend?

Another post to follow after Sunday's cook-a-thon!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Swim lessons, karate, skating lessons, dance lessons, and soup kitchen!

Weekends are busy now with all of the stuff the kids have going on!!  Insane! But today I knocked off a bunch of recipes one by one. 

On the list today:

Balsamic crock pot chicken
Chicken noodle soup
Chicken leek and mushroom pot pie
Banana chocolate chip muffins
Pizza pinwheels

And yesterday made pulled beef in the crockpot for tacos!  That turned out super yum and have another half batch that went in the freezer. I used this recipe here:

I followed the recipe to a tee and they were perfect! 

Today I started out with balsamic chicken in the crockpot. Such an easy recipe which you can find here:

I used five chicken breasts. The only modification was I added a little bit more balsamic. Like three tablespoons more than was called for. And it only takes 3.5 hrs on high!

Next up was chicken noodle soup. So easy!!  I make up the recipe myself. So here goes:

Three carrots peeled and diced small
Three celery stalks sliced
A bunch of green onion sliced
One potatoe diced small
One white onion diced
4 cups of chicken stock
6 cups of water
Tablespoon of both parsley and oregano
Dash of salt and pepper

Place all the vegetables and spices in a pot over medium high with your stock and water. Keep it in there for about forty five minutes and then throw some shredded chicken in!  Leave it for another ten and it's done!  I made some small pasta shells that will go in the soup as well BUT  a good friend today told me the trick. Don't put the pasta or whatever starch you're using in until you serve the soup!  So I just placed my cooked pasta in a large ziplock bag in the fridge and added a drop of olive oil to keep it from not sticking together :). That's tomorrow nights dinner!

Chicken leek and mushroom pot pie is easy and tastes amazing. I found this recipe years ago while sitting on the blasted go train commuting to work, in the metro daily paper.   So I can't find the link to this online, but have posted a pic of the recipe from the paper for you here :). There's actually two recipes in this clip so just use the correct one :p

And of course, my usual weekend recipes of banana chocolate chip muffins and pizza pinwheels to restock the freezer. 

And that's a wrap! I'll be browsing Pinterest this week for some new goodies to cook up next weekend....oh wait it's also thanksgiving. Oh boy it's going to be a busy weekend!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

An ambitious soup kitchen this weekend....

So I made a jump start to soup kitchen this weekend. I had a pretty crazy list of what I wanted to make on Sunday that was more than the normal amount I usually tackle. SO, I decided to go grocery shopping on Friday night. I know, thrilling?  First of all the store was empty which was lovely, and I got out of there quicker than how I fare on Saturday mornings!

The problem with my list of meals for Sunday was that it included multiple soups and making homemade tomato sauce (both of which to stock for the freezer). 

So I decided (since it's not like we had anything better to do) to make homemade tomato sauce on a Friday night! 

After researching a bunch of tomato sauce recipes I decided on a Jamie Oliver one, that's packed (and very well hidden) with veggies. The kids will NEVER know!  

Here's the recipe link. For all you moms with picky eaters out there this sauce was easy, has three servings of veggies in it, and took only an hour cook time!

I wanted to make sauce because I'm sick of buying it for recipes I'm making. A lot of recipes that I make call for a cup and it makes me livid to have to buy it!  

So this recipe made a boat load of sauce!  You blitz it in the blender at the very end to whatever consistency you would like. Super easy and tastes yummy too. I ended up placing the sauce in freezer bags in 8 oz quantities and one bag of 12 oz. 

As I was pouring the sauce into baggies over the stove, my lovely husband who's happily watching TV on the couch tells me it sounds like I'm having diarrhea in there. From the sound of the sauce hitting the bag. He's so classy :)

And between dance lessons, skating lessons and cleaning the house today I made a Rachel Ray recipe from her 30/60 minute meals cookbook. Yes I took out a cookbook. I made this a couple weeks ago and it was delicious so I made it again. It's for lunch for me and the husband. It has too much spice for kids FYI. 

Here's a pic of the recipe from my cookbook. You can also find it online too. 

It truly takes only 60 minutes to make and is a filling soup. Served great with a crusty roll ;)

I've got a lot more to make tomorrow too. My goal in October is to make double batches as often as I can to restock my freezer. 

Tomorrow on the menu will be:

Balsamic crock pot chicken
Chicken leek and mushroom pie
Chicken noodle soup
Banana chocolate chip muffins
Some more pizza pinwheels

And I've got a roast in the crockpot right now for pulled beef tacos tonight! I'll post pics tomorrow. 

Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday soup kitchen hiatus for this week...

We got home midday today from a fun family night away so I didn't have time for any cooking. Thank goodness the freezer was stocked with meals from last weeks double batch!  Took out some goodies so this week we are having:

Garlic soup and sandwiches/wraps
Chicken drumsticks/thighs with a grape tomatoe and red pepper coulis served over brown rice
Then leftover madness

And some spicy lentil soup for lunches for the adults :)

Took out some banana bread chocolate chip muffins for the kids snacks too. 

When I went grocery shopping today I found an awesome addition to my bento box tools. Edible ink! Now I can get even more creative with the kids lunches. Check it out below. Pic on the left is my bento tools so far, and on the right is the kiddies lunch tomorrow! They saw it and were mega pleased :)

Tonight for dinner I went with simple and ultimately lazy.  But, it was delicious!  Made a Caesar salad and bought a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Had chicken Caesar salad. And since the chicken is huge I froze the rest of it and will use it for some awesome homemade chicken noodle soup to make on Sunday! 

Alright, back to policy writing/researching by day tomorrow.  Oh blessed Monday ;)

Happy work week to all!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ever since my daughter entered school it's become a weekly tradition to make a batch of homemade banana bread chocolate chip muffins to throw in her lunch bag for snack time, along with some fresh fruit. 

It's often a time where my daughter joins me in the kitchen and helps to measure, pour, stir, and create a giant mess in the process!  It's never clean or easy when cooking with a child :) But it's good for them to be a part of the process, and know what's going in their belly at the same time. So I try to involve the kids wherever I can. 

I use this recipe from the great site:

I modify this recipe slightly to make it a little bit healthier. 

Instead of butter I use vegetable oil, and instead of white sugar I use brown sugar. I also don't make the crumb topping as I find that's just a little much with all the added butter and brown sugar.  No child needs extra sugar!

I add chocolate chips for some added yumminess!

Now with both kids in school it's still a weekend tradition to make these.  I try to do double batches on a weekend so I only have to bake them every two weeks as there are now two mouths to feed :)

Give these easy muffins a try and let me know how they turn out!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bento style lunches for the kiddies!!

I've never been that creative at lunches for my first born since she entered school. With my second just having started JK this year I decided to be better with their lunches. Ive always been good at ensuring they are healthy and include most of the food groups, but other than that, it was just a standard boring lunch box. I decided this year to strive to make lunches for my kiddies that are fun as well as healthy!

I've been inspired through Pinterest and Instagram at all these cute little lunch box ideas that I really already had the tools for at home but was just to lazy to try. A friend of mine on Facebook has been doing them for her kiddies and posting these adorable pictures. She inspired me to do better :)

Some may wonder what "tools" are you talking about Miriam?? It's just a lunch?!  Well let me tell you what tools are useful in creating cutesy lunches. 

Cookie cutters (big and small, metal and plastic)
Sandwich cutters/presses
Silicone baking cups (Wilton sells some great ones and I bought mine at Michaels with a 40% off coupon to boot!)
Rolling pin

I started searching for some better lunch boxes that had compartments, were spill proof, and durable.   Then I found these amazing containers! Easy lunch boxes. 

You can check them out here:

I ordered mine from Amazon and they were less than $20 for a pack of four! I could even do a bento lunch for the Mr.  He would be horrified!!

With all that in stock I was ready for the first day of school!

And so it began!

My daughter loves pizza wheels which I've provided the recipe for in my previous post. They're a hit, easy, and healthy! My son much prefers train sandwiches!

I've also experimented with these fun carrot hummus sushi roll ups for my daughter and they're a fan fave as well. Check them out below. So easy!

Carrot Hummus Sushi Roll Ups:

Any bread of choice
Grated carrot

Take your rolling pin and flatten the bread as best as you can. It makes it easier for rolling them up. I also cut the crust off too for a cleaner look.  Spread some hummus on the entire piece of bread. Place grated carrot on half of the slice of bread. Roll up the bread starting at the end with the carrots. Slice it into sushi pieces and voila!  Delicious and healthy and fun!

I've had some fun with various fruits and my cookie cutters too. Check out the watermelon they had last week!

I'm going to continue trolling Pinterest, Instagram, and the web for the pics from other mamas our there that love to make fun lunches!