Cooking

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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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!

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble…

Happy Thanksgiving! We are celebrating today, on Sunday, though many people I have talked to had an early Saturday celebration. Then there are the lucky ones who have multiple turkey dinners to attend and will likely be enjoying more deliciousness tomorrow! In my opinion, the more celebrating you do with food, the better.

We were in full swing today with our inappropriately sized turkey. I plan on freezing a lot of it so hopefully we get to enjoy many meals from my expensive birdie here. This year I decided to try a meat injector that my mom sent me. Never having done this before, I turned to Google. There have been years when we have brined the turkey and years where we have just seasoned and roasted. This year, I felt like the mad scientist with my giant syringe. I found a great recipe that included beer (thank you Old Milwaukee), butter, Worcestershire, tabasco, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. A few shots into each breast and under the skin and we were ready to go. I slathered the remaining sauce on top and sprinkled rosemary to keep in time with tradition. Into the oven she went for five hot and sweaty hours. Accompanying our bird was homemade stuffing, green friends including sprouts, beans and broccoli, roasted potatoes and just to keep things saucy, gravy and cheese sauce. It might sound complicated but it was a very low maintenance meal when it is spread out over that amount of time.

Now that the food has all been eaten (and frozen), the sangria is drained and our bellies are full, it is time to relax and watch Blue Jays hopefully kick some butt. I am so thankful for my family and that we have a warm and cozy house to call home. I hope all of you have a fantastic Thanksgiving and enjoy this very special holiday weekend. Time to hit the gym now . . .

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Thanksgiving Meal Prep

I can’t believe we are already well into October and it is Thanksgiving weekend! Seriously, where does the fricken time go? Hallie will also be ONE on Friday! I am baffled at how the last year passed by so quickly. When you watch a tiny baby grow into a toddler it really puts time into perspective. But enough time of reflect because it’s high time we cooked a turkey. Or at least prepped for cooking it tomorrow.

It’s our first holiday in our new home and new life in Kamloops. Even though there is only going to be three of us in attendance, I still felt the need to go all out with the usual Thanksgiving meal. I found a great local butcher and though I probably shouldn’t have, ordered a fresh local  bird. I requested the tiniest turkey possible, falling in the 11-15 pound category. I had a mild heart attack this afternoon when I went and picked up (and paid a ridiculous price for) my NINETEEN POUND birdie! WTF. May as well invite the entire Food Bank over now. I have not told hubby how much I paid for this chubby chickadee either. I will drown my broke ass sorrows in wine tonight though!

Since the real cooking action does not take place until tomorrow, I had a full afternoon of preparation on my hands. Now either I have done this meal too many times, or the shiraz has numbed all nerves, but I found it relatively stress-free and enjoyable. Or maybe it’s because no one is coming over. That sure relieves the usual holiday tension as well. I have decided to share some of my prep pictures and recipes, just in case you are in a last minute scramble looking for some tasty ideas.

Fall Inspired Sangria:

This was inspired by my new neighbours. I went to a shopping party the other night (yes, a shopping party) fuelled with this sangria and boy was it tasty. I am also never one to flow recipes exactly so feel free to toy around with the ingredients. I have a feeling though that this particular concoction will result in a very happy Thanksgiving afternoon.

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1 bottle chardonnay, 2 cups club soda, 2 cups white grapefruit juice, 2 cups rum (I used spiced rum for an extra kick), 1 cup sugar, half a bag of cranberries, chopped apples (I used Honey Crisp and Granny Smith). Let it sit and simmer for 24 hours, add ice and get tanked! I will let you know how it goes…

Homemade Stuffing For The Bird:

I am known to cook up some stove top stuffing on a normal day but the holiday calls for the homemade goods. There are countless recipes out there and sometimes it is fun to try variations that include sausage and apple and nuts. This year we are sticking with the traditional flavours. Three days ago I ripped up a bag of white sliced bread and let it go stale. I combined 2 cups of celery, 2 cups of onions, butter and the usual spice suspects in a sauce pan and let those babies sizzle. My kitchen smelt amazing! In a large mixing bowl mix together 2.5 cups of chicken stock, the stale bread, 2 eggs beaten, the celery/onion combo and salt and pepper. Go easy on your salt though because once you cross that sodium line, you can’t go back. That’s it. Refrigerate the mixture overnight and stuff that birdie with it in the morning. (On a side note here, if the turkey is done and your stuffing is still a bit soggy, bake it under the grill and it will crisp right up. Most importantly those turkey juices have become one with your stuffing, all getting ready for a party in your grateful mouth.)

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Cranberry Sauce:

Every time I make cranberry sauce I miss one of my best girl friends so so much. Maria, this batch is for you. We have a tradition of making cranberry sauce (while drinking) and I feel super nostalgic whenever I have to complete this task on my own. Much like stuffing, there are a TON of recipes out there. My favourite includes orange zest but since it is a sparsely attended meal this year, I am keeping it simple. I even followed the directions on the packet so that just shows you my imagination is limited right now. I did add a splash of whiskey and a sprinkle of nutmeg because it is tradition and really adds a punch of flavour. I highly recommend you take a peak in your liquor cabinet and see what secret sauce you can add to your own recipe! Untitled

My last tip is don’t forget to keep that little one busy. Here is my attempt while my husband turned our living room in to a construction zone and I prepped for our MASSIVE meal that shall go down tomorrow. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving prep to you!

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Those Cookies Though

Okay! So about those delicious cookies. This bad boy came out of my mother’s handwritten recipe book so as for where it initially came from, not a clue. One thing I do know is that they are EASY PEASY and yummy to boot. The only difficult part is not eating them all in one go.

Enjoy!

What You Will Need:
1 cup of Peanut Butter (To try and keep things in a healthy direction, I opted for Adam’s All Natural)
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp Milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine peanut butter, both sugars and butter in a mixing bowl and cream until blended. Beat in milk, egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder. Combine and mix with the peanut butter mixture and mix until smooth. On an ungreased baking sheet (or use parchment paper) spoon out tablespoons of the cookie mixture and roll into balls. Place them two inches apart as the baking powder will make them rise and expand. I safely with between 6 and 8 balls on a making sheet, depending on the sheets size. Oh and word to the wise, the better the baking sheet, the less likely it is the bottoms of your cookies will burn. Press each ball down with a fork and bake for 10 minutes. I recommend baking each sheet separately, on its own. This takes more time and obviously more energy from your oven having it on longer, but it will result in a better quality cookie, I promise you! Remove from oven and allow to cool on cooling rack for ten minutes. These babies are best when they are soft and warm so do not let them sit too long without a quality taste test!

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