In My Kitchen

Summertime Salads

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Summertime weather seems to be in full swing here in Kamloops. Has been for a bit now. With the warmer weather we tend to gear more towards easy meals that mostly include the BBQ and salads. We are also blessed to be living in an area that is extremely kind and fruitful to growing gardens. No joke, these garden beds are almost on steroids. Something about the dryer climate makes them flourish. Early. Everything is ready to start picking (and enjoying!) and we haven;t even hit July. This is my third year working on my gardening skills and I must say, every year comes with new lessons. The first year, only plant what you are going to eat. This is also the year I discovered I do not like kale. I hope the Food Bank did as they received A LOT of it. The second year, I learned the importance of spacing and seed quantity control. This year, it almost looks like I have a tiny idea of what I am doing out there. So far so good but one never wants to jinx themselves! Our crop this year includes peas, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, radishes, carrots, a strawberry patch, a pumpkin patch, cucumbers, and a large variety of peppers. We are big salsa and ‘mexican night’ people so it’s important to have a nice selection of peppers ranging from sweet to mild to burn your booty off. With all of these fresh veggies it of course leads me to looking at new recipes and different ways to use them. Enter Pinterest, as usual. So today I want to share with you not only some fantastic summer salad recipes but also some dressings – many of these can be used as a marinade too. It’s kind of a let your senses guide you situation in my kitchen with very little rules. I often go with my gut and maybe I just have a husband that loves all of my cooking, but things tend to go over pretty well. Now if I could just get my extremely picky children on board. If you have a toddler that eats salad, applause to you mama!

Garbanzo Summer Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing – I can’t wait to try this one! It looks like a hot mess with all of my favourite friends. Perfect to compliment any meal and looks like a great potluck option.

Honey Mustard Chicken Avacado & Bacon Salad – Ok this one is amazing. My mouth is watering just reading the ingredients. This link has a huge collection of healthy recipes to try out but number one on the list is the one I am referring too.

Cranberry Almond Spinach Salad – I am not crazy about spinach but I like the sounds of this one. Cranberries are the best addition to salads.

Tomato Basil Avocado Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette – YUM. That is all.

Thai Noodle Salad – I often forget salads don’t have to be composed of lettuce. This is a great ‘side salad’ for asian infused meals.

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Spring Break

This post is a little late but hope y’all had a great spring break!! My kids are little and not in school so it doesn’t really apply to us but for whatever the reason may be, it still felt like a break. It was like everyone else’s routine was flipped sideways so we could get away with it too. We had busy days to start. A ton of fun stuff planned too! However, don’t they say something like ‘make a plan and see what your toddler thinks of it’. It’s murphy’s law in my house I promise you that. Both kids got super sick. Hallie had a really gross cold that simply made her super emotional all the time and gave her the hall pass for cartoons and ice cream whenever she wanted. Jackson however took the ‘man cold’ to new levels. He is JUST coming round the corner to feeling well. Needless to say, all plans went out the window and we were somewhat housebound. We still managed to get out and play at the park and what not, but we definitely kept to ourselves. I really didn’t want to be that mom who spread the kid’s cold germs like confetti. It is such a relief now though that everyone seems to be feeling better. We had a pleasant shift in the weather today as well so we are hoping for a sunny Easter weekend away in Grand Forks and not such runny noses. Hey a mama can dream right!? One delightful morning I did want to share with you from our sicky spring break was what we called pancakes and pjs. Hallie was adamant we all wear our cozy housecoats one morning so we decided to really make a morning of it and test our new Pampered Chef pancake molds. Couple lessons learned. They are a ton of fun, especially when you get to the final step of actually eating them. Second lesson, there is an art. These are quite tricky to master (especially if you are a perfectionist) but I think after a few rounds of trying, I will get the hang of it. Come on now, we all want star shaped pancakes. No room for the boring ol’ circular style anymore right? Gotta step up my pancake skills stat.

(If you want to get your hands on these they are sold through Pampered Chef, and are quite awesome! The silicone molds are a great size, super durable, and I LOVE the pancake mix shaker. Can’t wait to take it camping and only have ONE dish to do after making breakfast!)

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(Who knows what happened to the housecoat!)

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Cutting Board Rejuvenation

I am a big fan of my wooden cutting boards in my kitchen. I have different types of wood and different shapes. Not only do I use them multiple times daily I also like to have them displayed on the counter. This means I need to keep them looking fresh. I always wash them after use but sometimes, just like many areas of the home, they need a deep clean. In an attempt to move more chemical-free at home, I did some research to come up with a cleaning recipe used by many. Effective and as natural as it gets.

What you will need:

Lemon cut in half, use one half of a lemon per cutting board

Coarse Sea Salt

White Vinegar (you can also use a vinegar cleaning agent)

Oil

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Start by covering the board in white vinegar.  Sprinkle a heavy dose of sea salt all over the cutting board. Use your half lemon to scrub it into the wood. While doing this, squeeze the lemon so that the juices pour out. I did this for about two minutes. Then pour a couple tablespoons of oil onto the board. Continue scrubbing with the lemon, mixing the oil into the salt and vinegar and covering the entire surface of the cutting board. Do this for about one minute. Let sit for fifteen minutes. Rinse clean. Voila! Fresh and clean, looking good and ready for use.

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French Toast In A Pinch

Well not really but a close second for sure! I wanted to share a holiday favourite with you, a little after the holidays. I meant to make a big batch of this and give it away in mini mason jars as Christmas gifts for friends. Like many, time slipped away from me and the holidays we over. Still, I couldn’t resist this super simple recipe, a staple in our home: Cinnamon Butter! This batch should probably be called cinnamon-maple-vanilla-honey-butter though. If you have read any of my food posts before, you know that I tend to veer away from following recipes. I am more of an instinct person when it comes to ingredients. A dash here, a heavy hand there. In the end, if it tastes good it is probably working just fine. So rather than share exact measurements, I am just going to tell you the ingredients and steps. Everyone has different tastes so feel free to add more of one thing and less of another. Spread it on your morning toast and it tastes very close to french toast with half the work and none of the clean up. A win-win for all the busy mommas out there.

Ingredients:

Butter – I use unsalted and a full pound. This made five mini mason jars.

Cinnamon – my personal favourite is by Watkins.

Maple Syrup – use the real stuff, not pancake syrup.

Vanilla extract

White Sugar – many of you will shake your head at that one but I am sure all the bakers can appreciate it’s importance.

Honey – liquefy before adding.

Mix all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and MIX. I went old school and used a vintage hand egg-beater that my mom had. I was feeling the need to work out some aggression. Probably something to do with the kitchen faucet exploding that morning OR the furnace shutting down for 24 hours and leaving us all shivering our booties off. It’s been a tough week here! Using the hand mixer actually whipped up my butter and made it super frothy though so I will no doubt use that method in future. Taste as you go and add more of ingredients depending on your taste. In my case, it was all of them! But the result was perfection. Every buttery time. Enjoy! Full disclosure: Not the healthiest option and tastes even better on white bread. YUM!

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Breakfast Lovers

I’ve said it before and I will say it again – we are major breakfast people in our home! There is just something about the smell of bacon in the morning. Or in the afternoon. Or for dinner. Let’s face it, all things that end with bacon end well. With my picky toddler tummy, it’s always a constant guessing game as to what Hallie will eat today. This week there is a mild obsession with mini mandarin oranges. Last week it was cheese. The minute you feel confident that she loves a certain type of food (for examples, bananas), she will change her mood so fast that you won’t even get home from the grocery store with it and she has decided it’s gross. Bananas are now a mushy form of lotion that she likes to massage into her own hands. Thank the lord I can still get her into a high chair or bananas would be my new living room rug. One consistency Hallie has always remained true to though is toast. Sometimes she just likes to suck the butter off and discard it but 7 times out of 10 she will eat it. Which is why I am a huge fan of French Toast! Bit of protein from the eggs and a dash of fun with cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin spice. What kid doesn’t love it?! I am a huge fan too so it’s a win for everyone. Not to mention the massive side of bacon we can easily pile up on the plate next to it! There is something about the cooler weather & Fall that makes me feel like cooking up a warm breakfast on the daily. No wonder everyone gets a little chubbier this time of year! I am currently on the hunt for some new breakfast recipes too so if you have any to share, please do. Pinterest is such a fantastic resource for such things but these days I don’t exactly have two hours to get lost in the pinning world. Hope you are all having a great Friday and that the weekend ahead is full of bacon and smiles!

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I have had people asking me lately about my dish & coffee mug obsession on Instagram! Majority of my dishes and items styled in photographs are from Anthropologie and my favourite mixing bowl shown above here is from Homesense.

Just because I can’t resist…. (‘Stop taking my picture mom!’)
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Toddler Tummies

I remember when I used to think of being a mom and having babies, I had all sorts of hopes and dreams for the type of parent I would be. I like to pride myself in being a rather relaxed parent but there are things that I have always been strict about. Bedtimes. Lots of cuddles. Bath time and brushing teeth. After experiencing a newborn baby, an infant, a baby and now a toddler, I feel like I should send out a disclaimer that corrects many things I said PRE-parenting. The truth is, you just have no idea until you are in it. It’s survival of the fittest. If it works, you do it. My little girl was in total hysterics the other day because I took away the disgusting dirty Freezie that had been dropped in the grass seven times while she tried to eat it. She was so upset and it broke my heart so much that I handed it back to her. I have no idea if she played with it or simply ate it but that filthy blue popsicle was all that made her smile in that moment. Don’t even get me started with how happy she was ten minutes later when I am almost positive she ate a dragonfly! I am not saying she is the boss all the time and that the slightest tantrum will win her all battles. I am not saying that at all! I am fully admitting though that you need to pick your battles wisely. Some of them are not worth the tears. With all of that being said, I feel it is the perfect segway into the topic of food! Toddlers are picky as hell. If they like it today, tomorrow it will end up splattered across your face. Or all the way up your walls and all over your crisp, freshly washed white linen curtains. Toddlers also have the ‘chipmunk winter-food-storing-ability’ down to a science. This girl will chew up about fourteen baby carrots, hold them discreetly in her cheeks, and wait until about an hour later when you are cuddling on the sofa and spit them out all over you. What the logic behind this for her is I have absolutely no idea. She sure finds it funny though. As I fight my way through the darkness in identifying what foods will and will not work, I wanted to share a few tasty treat ideas that are a success in our home- this week anyways. I have probably jinxed it now!

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These mini pizzas were delicious and a hit with those big and small. I picked up what I can only compare to Naan Bread from our local bakery, infused with spinach and herbs. Drizzled with tomato sauce, topped with prosciutto and mozzarella (some grated and fresh), and baked for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. I even like to grill the top a little bit to brown and bubble the mozza. Slice them up small for baby and serve as is for mom and dad. Bon appetit!

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Hallie is slightly obsessed with Munchies Mix – the mix that has sun chips, cheetos, pretzels, etc. Not going to lie, I love them too. Instead of buying a bag of that though I bought a bag of each type of chip in it (more or less) and mixed it all together in a jumbo zip lock bag. I then divided up the mixture into these plastic mason jars. These plastic jars are the best! They store easily, stack, travel well to the park, I LOVE them!!! Very kid friendly too. Oh and husband friendly! Henry cannot open a bag of chips to save his life. We always end up with a long rip down the bag and stale chips, so this is a great solution for him too.

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Homemade Guacamole is possibly my favourite snack ever. It may as well be a meal. Today in fact I ate a bowl of guac which consisted of at least three avocados. Good fats right? (Don’t care..) I follow a very simple gauc recipe. Perfectly ripe avocados, lime juice and lemon juice, chopped cilantro, fresh ground pepper and cayenne pepper. Sometimes I will add a few tablespoons of a really nice salsa just to excite things but trust me, it isn’t necessary! Nothing like fresh ingredients. It also helped that a certain little lady LOVED dipping her tortilla chips in it.

Until next week when she decides she hates all of the above mentioned snacks and we need to turn to Pinterest for new ideas. I don’t know if I have thick enough skin though. It slightly hurts my feelings when she hates my cooking or hard work & preparation haha!

Fried Chicken

This recipe came from a few weeks ago and I had intended to share it, but forgot all about it. Do you ever get a hankering for some good fried chicken? I LOVE fried chicken. It has to be authentic though. No Shake & Bake for this lady. I picked up this gem of a cookbook, ‘Fried & True’ in the clearance bin at Superstore and it has just about every form of fried chicken you can think of. I am even tempted to purchase a deep fryer to make nights like this happen more often… however then I would have deep fried food that much easier and I am not so sure that is a very good idea after all! This meal was fairly laborious but when it came time to eat, it was well worth the pain and effort.

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After a long contemplation, I decided fried potato cakes were the best side to accompany my fried chicken. Yes, more fried! Can you feel your arteries clogging yet? To balance things out, there is nothing like fresh cut raw veggies. We need to be slightly healthy here folks. I am filing this meal under the so yummy that my mouth waters thinking about it but major pain in the ass to make. All in all, well worth it for this fried-chicken-craving preggo momma!