You don’t win friends with salad…

Simpson saladSpinach is a constant staple in our shopping cart and fridge. We throw spinach into everything, smoothies, soups, pastas, and of course salad. A few months ago, my vegetarian friend/colleague, said she never met anyone who likes salad’s as much as me. this coming from a plant eater. Until that moment, I never really thought about it, but I do like salad. We can all like salad, and make friends, with the right salad…so take that Bart, Homer and Marg!

Salads are easy to make, throw some greens and veggies into a bowl, add some dressing, TADA, salad – a boring salad, but still a salad. We all know, we don’t get boring around here, we take things to the next level. Today’s lunch salad is delicious, has a bunch of green and colour and exceptionally flavourful, even in winter. Confession time, and also sad: an ingredient was left on the counter at home: the AVOCADO. Insert <sad crying face> here, but the salad was still good, just missed the creaminess.

Fruited Spinach Chicken Salad

1 Chicken breast grilled with salt, pepper and Montreal chicken rub
1 cup leafy greens (Spinach in this case)
1 cup cucumbers, sliced and diced
1/4 of an avocado, diced
1/2 cup pineapple (frozen is fine)
1/2 cup blueberries

1. Slice chicken, cucumbers, and avocado, throw all ingredients into a bowl. Enjoy!

Some of you may be wondering, where’s the dressing???? Honestly, this salad does not need dressing, the juice from the pineapple and blueberries, and the creaminess from the avocado is enough to boost the flavour of this salad. And ok, confession number two, the first time this salad was made, the dressing was left at home…on the counter as well. But hey, this salad really doesn’t need a dressing, and we’re all saving on calories. Win-win. Also realized, this salad is low in carbs, gluten free and dairy free. Triple Win!

This is a great salad to take to work, keep the spinach separate from the pineapple and blueberries, or your spinach will be a sad wilty mess thanks to the acid in the pineapple. Another reason this is a great take to work salad, if your a mom, your kids won’t eat all the juicy fruity goodness out of your bowl. Yeah, that happened a couple times in our house.

Note: Temptation to pay homage to Thug Kitchen was high in writing this post and recipe. But we’ll leave the colourful language to those two superstars.

Happy Pancake Day

Shrove Tuesday. The day to eat all the pancakes. Whether you are celebrating Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, you have to eat dinner, and what is fast, delicious and cheap? Pancakes.

We love pancakes. And they are not just for breakfast. In the past we’ve made, pancake balls using the cake pop maker…those were a huge success, we’ve made shaped pancakes, regular pancakes, and most recently the little cupcake ventured to a Crepe class at Williams-Sonoma. Which ever way you slice a pancake, we love them. Some weekends, we will make a big batch of pancakes, toss them in the fridge for the week. This makes for a super quick breakfast, by tossing a few in a toaster and away we go. Instant, homemade freeze/fridge pancakes.

The foodie kids love traditional pancakes, but sometimes I can get them to agree to a seasonal flavour; gingerbread for Christmas, Cinnamon Roll, apple pie, egg nog, chia, or sprinkle.

So what kind are we having for dinner tonight, not sure. That’s planning for you. Ha. We are trying to convince the kids to have roasted chicken and vegetable crepes. We made them last year with cauliflower, spinach, ricotta, mushrooms and chicken. They were delicious. I’ll report back with an edit at the bottom when we decide. Edit: the adults were vetoed, we had pancakes with turkey bacon and LOTS of fruit.

For now, our stand by pancake recipe. This is our family favorite. These yield fluffy delicious pancakes.

cup flour
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk of your choice
2 Tbsp cooking oil 

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture; set aside.
  2. In another medium mixing bowl combine the egg, milk, and cooking oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just till moistened (batter should be lumpy).
  3. Cook over medium heat about 2 minutes on each side or till pancakes are golden brown, turning to second sides when pancakes have bubbly surfaces and edges are slightly dry.

*Tip* For standard-size pancakes, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet. For dollar-size pancakes, pour about 1 tablespoon batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet.

This recipe will yield 8 to 10 standard-size pancakes or 36 dollar-size pancakes.

Enjoy!

Dr. Seuss inspired breakkie

Sometimes inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. Today’s breakfast comes from Dr. Seuss’ famous Green Eggs and Ham. Bear with me, it will be delicious…have I EVER steered you wrong?

For all you Brussel sprout haters, take cover. This post is about Brussel sprouts…for breakfast. But really these little nugget cabbages are so full of good for you nutrients and fiber, you’d be a fool not to try it. Plus they are sautéed and roasted. The best of both worlds. In our house Brussel sprouts are a regular occurrence in our fridge. Like most kids, I use to hate those things! Like gag me at the dinner table, hated. It took me over 20 years to try them. I roasted them and was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. So do me a solid, try them. If you don’t like them…I will never make you try them again. I will give you substitutes for the little green cabbage.

Unfortunately, this recipe only focuses on the greens and eggs, but I am confident you could throw in a bit of bacon or ham and have a true Greens, Egg, and Ham plate. Because really bacon goes well for breakfast, and actually pairs amazingly with Brussel sprouts.

This recipe is for one serving, but would be increased to feed multiple people.

Greens and Eggs

1 tsp coconut oil
½ cup chopped mini potatoes
1 cup chopped Brussel sprouts
1 tsp Three Onion Dip
1 tsp Roasted Garlic Aioli Dip Mix (or 1 garlic clove)
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
½ tsp Chimichurri mix

  1. Pre-heat over to 375F. Heat pan on low to medium heat, melt coconut oil.
  2. Chop potatoes in quarters and Brussel sprouts in half.
  3. Toss potatoes into pan, toss with oil, frying them for 5 minutes. Careful not to burn them.
  4. Toss in chopped up Brussel Sprouts. Toss with potatoes for 5 more minutes. Again careful not to burn.
  5. Sprinkle with Three Onion Dip, Roasted Garlic, salt and pepper, toss to distribute. (Could substitute with 1 tsp of SPG)
  6. When potatoes and Brussel sprouts begin to brown slightly, make a well in the middle of the mixture and crack eggs in the middle. Transfer the pan to the pre-heated oven, cook for another 8 -10 minutes. This will produce a semi runny – hard egg.
  7. While your pan is in the oven, prepare ½ tsp Chimichurri mix with 2 Tbsp of water.
  8. Remove from oven and slide onto a plate, top with Chimichurri mix and enjoy. You could also add a bit of Sriracha if you like it spicy.

***If using bacon, heat your fry pan and cook chopped bacon for 6 minutes before tossing in the potatoes. The bacon grease will substitute the coconut oil.

Family movie night

Our family is heading to Disneyland in March for Spring break. And we are excited. However, it became apparent that the Disney education in our house has been lacking. Which is extremely surprising considering my affinity to all things Disney, and my immense knowledge of Disney. Too the point that I surprise myself when I know obscure facts about Disney – I have no clue how I know so much.

Regardless, we decided weekly Disney movie nights were in order. And not just the Princess movies, but the Disney classic movies. I actually own many that are still in the original VHS movie package. Gulp. So we headed off to our local value village to find a VHS player.

With our family movie watching nights we tend to go for a simple supper, and we’re not talking pizza, we’re talking appie night. We do a mix of frozen and homemade appies, anything from frozen Mexican appies to quiche. Basically whatever is in your grocery frozen section that looks good to the girls that day. However, a guarantee item, Brie with baguette, and a homemade charcuterie board. Also just a note, as this post was being developed, my husband tagged me in a post regarding veggie charcuterie boards…interesting, and maybe for the next movie night. Up the veggie content!

But back to the charcuterie board, for a long time this was a foreign concept, we had heard about them, but never executed them. Then a restaurant opened near our home, we tried it. We fell in love, and obviously thought, we can create this at home with the help of deli centers, cheese stores and grocery stores.

The basics of a charcuterie board is meat, cheese, and condiments, in as little as 10 minutes you can have a beautiful board to enjoy with your family. How do you know what to put where? What to buy? How much to buy…here are some tips to keep your charcuterie board game on point!

Meat: as a guideline 2 ounces per person is suggested. Now if you have littles partaking in the charcuterie you’ll have to judge their appetites. We generally add an extra ounce for them. For our family of four, we generally prepare five ounces from a selection of three meats. We tend to go with salami, prosciutto, and chorizo. But the options are limitless, pate is a great texture change for a charcuterie board, so is smoked salmon, sausage, calabrese, ham, or mortadella. Pick a few of your favourites, and one that you’ve never tried before.

If you plan on preparing a charcuterie board for a party, because really how swanky and easy is that, up the meat to about five ounces per person.

Cheese: Choose one to two cheese. Usually a soft and a hard cheese are a great choice. Some great choices are, of course, brie, goat cheese, bocconcini, double smoked Applewood cheddar, Spanish manchengo, parmigiana-Reggiano or any of your favourite cheeses.

Bread and crackers: Keep it simple. Bread and crackers are the vehicles on which the cheese and meat enter your mouth! You don’t need to get all fancy with the breads as you don’t want to take away from the taste of the meat or cheese. We serve ours with water crackers and a nice French demi-baguette – perfect size for sharing with a family of four. The baguette also comes in handy with scooping up the mounds of melted brie.

Condiments: These will pull your board together, and they can enhance your board with acid and sweetness. We like to use a Sweet and Spicy mustard or a stone ground mustard and a cranberry relish. Olives, pickles or tomatoes add a nice acidic touch, nuts give a crunch, and fresh and dried fruit give a nice sweet balance to the board.
A charcuterie board is all about being simple and creative. Be adventurous, add chocolate, compound butters, or nut butters. It’s all about good simple food.

MIA and Perfection

perfectionI am human. I struggle. I’ve been missing. Not because life has been busy, that’s a constant, but due to my own perfection. I didn’t feel like I had anything good to write. That my posts weren’t good enough, they weren’t perfect. What if you judged me for the comma splice, or the misuse of the comma, or some other grammar error? This plagues me as writer, but I am not perfect, I am human.

This is something that I struggle with every day. I don’t know if it’s my trait as a Virgo, or just a symptom of my insecurity. Probably a little bit of both. I tried to keep this blog happy, because I feel this world could use more positives, but this is life. It is not all unicorns, rainbows, and lollipops. (And for those people that judged my use of the Oxford comma. You can take my “dangling comma” and shove it where the sun don’t shine. I like the Oxford comma.) There are days when things are hard, days were my bad mom status runs rampant. Today alone I forgot the snow pants for daycare, I missed a note in the agenda and forgot to send the oldest with three trinkets for paint day and I lost part of my breakfast – again. This was the first two hours of me being up. Yes, I fail. I think we all fail at some point, but every minute, hour and day is a new opportunity to try again.

I’ve had a lot of failures in the kitchen too. I made a carrot ginger soup that was a clear miss. I may have ruined my kids on ever eating carrot ginger soup again. I’ve also messed up muffins, either dry, burnt, flat, or forgot ingredients. It happens. Mistakes happen. Accidents happen. I sayI am not.jpg this to my kid and I accept it, but when it comes to me, I am so hard on myself. Those mess ups are hard to forget, I am not sure why, but I replay them. I replay them and punish myself for them…but those mess ups do not define me or you. We are so much more than our failures.

This is a pretty vulnerable post for me. And it’s a struggle to push publish, but I know I am not alone, and who ever stumbles across this post, you are not alone either. We are all figuring it out as we go. We all fail, a glimpse on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, is just that – a glimpse. Photos are shot in multiples with filters and sometimes posed. That is not life. Life is messy, chaotic, unpredictable, and imperfect, which is perfect.

Fake out – Take Out

We order in or eat out a lot. More than we probably should, but as a working mom, two girls who are involved in a lot of activities, sometimes a run through a drive thru is necessary. But then there are times when my girls just don’t want to go out for dinner, probably because they are out of the house a lot as it is. But some nights, I really would just like to eat a restaurant meal, so instead I fake out our dinner.

Tonight’s fake out was a cheater style spring rolls, breaded chicken, teriyaki vegetables, with a side of edamame all courtesy of Sandi Richard’s Dinner Fix. This was a hit in our house tonight, my littlest loved the edamame, and the cupcake really liked the chicken and the spring rolls.

If you’ve never checked out Sandi Richard’s books, you should. They are great for families, meals are easily prepared, some you prep the night before and finish when you are ready to eat. They come with easy to access ingredients, especially for Canadians, and provide the actual time it takes to prep and cook with a handy legend.

Tonight’s recipe was prepped and cooked in 45 minutes. The recipe does state to start it the night before, but I forgot so I did all the steps in one swoop.

For this recipe, you’re supposed to start it the night before. I’m not going to lie, the ingredients and number of steps looks daunting…but don’t worry, there are a lot of steps so it is fool-proof. Beginner cooks can master this recipe and look like a restaurant quality chef.

img_1346Cheater Spring Rolls, Sesame Ginger Chicken and Teriyaki Veg
Ingredients:

Spring Rolls
1 tsp canola oil
1 chicken breast
¼ of an onion
1 Tbsp prepared ginger (from a jar)
2 tsp prepared garlic (from a jar)
1 bag coleslaw mix with carrots (1 lb / 16 oz) about 6 cups
1 Tbsp Epicure Sesame Ginger Dressing Mix
1 pinch Pinch of salt
8 twists of fresh pepper (1/2 tsp)
8 sheet sheets of phyllo pastry (I used PC brand)
V-H plum sauce (optional)

Sesame Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup flour
2 Tbsp Sesame Ginger Dressing Mix
1 pinch Pinch of salt and pepper
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp oil
¼ cup cup pineapple tidbits (optional)
½ cup cup cherry pie filling

Teriyaki Vegetables
1 tsp canola or peanut oil
5 cup stir-fry veggies (frozen or fresh)
2 Tbsp Teriyaki Spice
1 tsp soya sauce
OR: ¼ cup cup teriyaki stir-fry sauce (V-H is Sandi’s favourite)

Directions
1. Cut chicken into bite size pieces, place into soak in buttermilk. This can be done the night before and stored in the fridge. The acid in the buttermilk breaks down the tough fibers in the chicken allowing the chicken to remain moist and tender.
2. Heat oil in a large stove-top pot or wok at med-high heat.
3. Finely chop onion adding to pan as you chop.
4. Add ginger and garlic.
5. Add slaw mix and spice.
6. Stir to combine. This can also be made the night before and placed into the fridge until before dinner.
7. Preheat over to 375F.
8. Lay phyllo pastry on a dry surface, long side at bottom.
9. Brush top sheet of phyllo lightly with canola oil.
10. Form a log with four TBSP of the slaw mixture about 2” from bottom edge of the phyllo.
11. Pick up bottom edge and begin to make a roll.
12. Once roll is almost done, fold sides over at edges and roll to finish. Brush oil all over roll.
13. Set aside on cookie sheet, or if you have the Epicure Crisper I would highly suggest it because it will cut down time, and you can forgo brushing the phyllo with oil, making your spring rolls leaner. Repeat with remaining ingredients to form eight rolls.
14. Set timer for 20 min.
15. Combine flour, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper in a measuring cup.
16. Pour onto a large piece of waxed paper.
17. Melt butter on a large jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides) in hot oven.
18. Once melted, remove the pan and tilt back and forth to cover entire surface with butter.
19. Remove chicken pieces from buttermilk and drop, 2 or 3 at a time, onto flour mixture.
20. Pick up sides of waxed paper to coat and place the chicken onto pan of melted butter. Continue until all chicken is coated. Place in hot oven for 30 minutes.
21. Add pineapple to cherry sauce in a microwave safe dish or gravy boat. Once chicken is done, heat cherry sauce in microwave just before serving.
Meanwhile…
22.
Heat oil in a large stove-top fry pan or wok at med-high. Place veggies in colander and rinse under cold water. Shake off moisture and add to pan. Add teriyaki stir-fry sauce. Toss until tender but crunchy.

img_1352I promise you, this seems like a lot…but it really isn’t. Give it a try. The plates around your table may end up looking just like this. In the words of the husband, “Our plates even look like we ate take out.”

For the full recipe without my modifications check out Food Network.

Last of Summer BBQ

Fall is around the corner, and with that everything pumpkin, apple, casseroles, and oven roasting. But in Edmonton, the weather is actually been nice so we’ve been squeaking out some last minute BBQ days.

This week is a busy week for us with the cupcakes back into routine, school and extracurricular activities. The oldest Cupcake is starting competition dance this year and that means spending three hours at the dance studio. One of those hours is on a school night which means crazy busy night and a late dinner. The girls are already pretty hungry after their day, so protein muffins are a must. Especially for the oldest so she has enough energy to practice. This week we made banana bran muffins with added protein.

We planned a head this week, knowing that it was going to be a crazy week. Don’t be fooled, planning ahead does not happen often. But it did this week, GOLD STAR for us. For dinner I cut up some beef steak and put it in a marinade of oil and Montréal steak spice. Skewered and let them sit in the fridge until I was ready to make it.

We decided to pair the steak with the Chimichurri finishing sauce and as a side a simple salad and garlic noodles. I use to love the Sidekick garlic noodles. Garlic noodles were a staple in my grocery cart in college and university. I can’t even count how many times I over-boiled the milk. But man those are not healthy. Talk about sodium city. So I decided to make my own. It’s a pretty easy concept a garlicky alfredo sauce.

garlic-noodlesGarlicky noodles

8oz mini shells pasta
1 tsp Chicken broth mix
3/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 tsp roasted garlic aioli mix
2 teaspoon Herb and Garlic dip
2 Tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
salt & pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Laughing cow cheese wedges

Directions:
1.
Cook pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water until al dente. Mix ¾ cup hot water with 1 tsp of chicken broth, let sit on the side to incorporate and rehydrate. Drain then set aside. Let pot cool off the heat for several minutes.
2. Return pot to stove over medium heat then melt butter in olive oil. Sprinkle in flour, roasted garlic and Herb and Garlic spice then whisk and cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in chicken broth and milk while whisking until mixture is smooth. Season with salt & pepper then switch to a wooden spoon and stir constantly until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 4-5 minutes.
3. Take pot off the heat then stir in parmesan cheese and laughing cow cheese wedges until smooth then add cooked pasta and stir to combine. Taste then adjust salt & pepper if necessary.

These noodles are a huge hit. The husband took a bite and looked around wondering if I bought Sidekicks. Win. The Older Cupcake had four servings of the noodles. This is going to be in the dinner rotation for sure. Enjoy and let me know what you think.