Thursday, January 31, 2013

Turkey Sloppy Joe dinner

Last night we had sloppy joe's for dinner.  I am not sure what happened during my childhood but this was the first time I had had a sloppy joe.

I found a recipe in my Fine Cooking in the quick dinner section and these were really good!  I served mine with roasted new potatoes and parsnips (just tossed in salt, pepper, a bit of oil and paprika) and some steamed bok choy.  Tasty, healthy and quick to make.

Here is a link to the recipe:

Turkey Sloppy Joe Recipe

Now, I made a few changes.  I did not add any cilantro at the end like they say to (tastes like soap to me) and I used a white onion and not a red one because I didn't have a red one.  Other than that I followed the recipe and these were great!  I used a small package of ground turkey and this recipe made enough for dinner for Rob and I - it was too spicy for Loic - plus leftovers for lunch for Rob.

Try it, it is quick and tasty!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Driving (me crazy) in the car with Tyler and back in the 'hood

Today the kids and I took Tyler and Toby out to our old 'hood for a walk on the dike with my friend and her two kids.  It was lovely and I would have pictures if I wasn't chasing Loic, wearing the baby and watching the dogs run like crazy fools up and down the banks and in and out of the grass.  I had forgotten how much they like running along that dike!  We used to walk there almost every day when we lived in Maple Ridge.

Anyways, the other thing that I had momentarily forgotten was how totally annoying Tyler is when we are in the care for any length of time, which is anything over about 4 minutes with him.

When we are in the car the following thoughts go through my head:

1- OMG Tyler!  Stop whining and SIT DOWN!
2- OMG I have had Tyler for over 9 years and he is still *this annoying* in the car
3- Tyler is 10(!) and I can't imagine not having him, annoying faults and all
4- OMG Shut Up!!!
5- How will I ever manage without him?  He is getting grey...

These thoughts just go round and round until we reach our destination.  I honestly cannot believe that after over 9 years, he still whines so much in the car.  At least he now stays in the back and doesn't spend the entire trip trying to vault himself into the front seat.  Small steps people.  I am honestly not sure he even knows he is doing it?  He still barks the entire time he is in the back of the truck, that hasn't changed at all either.  Oh well!

We drove past our old house after our walk and the new owners are doing some crazy landscaping in the front yard; I would have loved to see the back but alas I didn't want to get out of the car and look like a crazy stalker.  There is also a new house going in a few houses down and it is huge!

We had Loic in Maple Ridge and it will always be where we bought our first home.  I love the availability of walks to take the dogs on too, and we have a few friends we still keep in touch with out there.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Another week, another meal plan

This week's meal plan - for Jess, pretty sure no one else cares :)

Tonight - we had a big salad and pasta with pesto (we would have had left overs if we had any!)

Wednesday - Turkey sloppy joe's (Fine Cooking recipe) w/ steamed bok choy - I wish I had my brother's garden to raid for bok choy!

Thursday - Beef Stroganoff (a request from Rob) served with pasta.  Loic isn't a huge fan so I might make him some pesto or something else, pretty sure the baby will like it.

Friday - Dine out Vancouver (we are trying a new place in N.Van with friends)  We usually go once or twice per season, this will be our second and last night out for Dine Out Vancouver.

Saturday - Sausages on the BBQ, quinoa and steamed cauliflower aka White Broccoli according to veggie-loving Loic.

Sunday - Homemade veggie soup (I make my own chicken stock then add a lot of fresh veggies so it is veggie soup but I do use chicken stock)

Monday - Pasta Frittata (Fine Cooking recipe) w/ peas or a plate of cut up veggies

Tuesday - last day in the meal plan so either left overs or something quick from the cupboard or freezer.

Jess, let me know if you want any of the Fine Cooking recipes!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Tasty Chicken quesadillas

Here is something you can make quickly with left over roast chicken.  We had these for dinner and they were really tasty.

Healthy Chicken Quesadillas (baked not fried)

You need:

- veggies - I used two red bell peppers, one onion and some green beans (I use whatever I have in the fridge but I usually use peppers, onions and something else like a zucchini or the beans)
- left over roast chicken, shredded
- chili powder and ground cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper
- tortillas (I used whole wheat)
- cheese (I used white cheddar because I had it on hand)
- fresh tomatoes
- sour cream
- lettuce (this part is optional)

To make them start by slicing your veggies into medium sized pieces/slices (sorry this isn't very descriptive) and sautee them in a bit of oil.  To your veggies add the shredded chicken and the spices.  I used chili powder and cayenne, just add as much as you want.  Oh and add salt and pepper.  Once you have sauteed the veggies and they are nice and tender, you can assemble the quesadillas.

To assemble:

Put your large tortillas on a baking sheet.  On half of them layer some shredded cheese then add quite a lot of your chicken and veggie mix.  Top with more cheese.  At this point I add tomatoes to mine but not Rob's because he "doesn't like cooked tomatoes".  To each their own!

Fold the tortilla in half so that your filling is inside and bake until brown and the cheese is all bubbly.  Serve with sour cream and lettuce if you want on the side.  I really like to add lime slices but I didn't have any.

If you go easy on the cheese and heavy on the veggies like I do, plus if you use whole wheat wraps, these are quite healthy and filling and very, very tasty.


Also, when I make a roast chicken we eat the chicken one night, usually have chicken quesadillas the next night and I freeze the chicken carcass to make soup.  That means with one chicken we get two dinners for our family plus chicken for stock and soup.  Not a bad way to use one chicken.


Lucky dogs and a potato recipe

My mom and I took the dogs and the kids on a walk today, in the rain.  Neither my mom nor I were totally keen on going for a walk but the dogs needed to get out.  I think she said something along the lines of "we could be sitting on the couch having a coffee!" while she wrested Loic into his muddy buddy for the second time (he had to pee after we wrestled him into it the first time).  But, the dogs won and off we went on an Adventure Hike - that is what Loic calls all of our hikes in the woods.

Yesterday we had a lovely hike in the snow up on Hollyburn; the dogs and the people had a blast!  Duncan rolled down the hills in the snow followed by Loic while Tyler and Toby RACED back and forth along the path and in and out of the snow banks.  I had my phone but forgot to take any pictures.  Oh well, next time.

Here is a potato dish that is easy, tasty AND freezes well.  The measurements aren't exact and you can tailor it to whatever you have on hand.  Mine were not exactly healthy...

Twice Baked stuffed Potatoes

-5 large baking potatoes
-half a package of bacon cooked and crumbled
-4 green onions, sliced
-about 1/2 cup of sour cream
-grated cheddar cheese (I had white cheddar on hand)
-salt and pepper
-a few tablespoons of butter

Bake the potatoes until they are soft all the way through.  Once cool, slice them in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the insides and add them to a bowl with the: bacon, sour cream, butter, salt and pepper, cheddar and onions.  Mash all of that good stuff up then add it back into the potatoes.  Bake until hot and lovely.  Oh and I sprinkled the tops with cheese before I baked them the second time.

We each had half a potato for a side dish for dinner with a roast chicken and sauteed veggies and it was delicious.  I had 8 halves left so I froze them in pairs - a quick and easy side dish to pull out of the freezer when needed!  An easy way to freeze them is to put them on a baking sheet and freeze them solid, then wrap them in saran wrap.  Don't cook them the second time before you freeze them, just pop them in the oven for 30 min or so from frozen when you want to eat them.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Loic is 3.5

Loic turned 3.5 years old today and again, I have no idea where the time goes!  He is still so very, very funny.

He continues to say very funny things.  I wish I could remember everything he says but at the end of the day, when he is in bed, I blank out!  He likes to tell us that he is "so very busy and I have a very busy life you know".  He also very matter of fact tells us that his run bike "is just for walking, not running" :)  He is also very enthusiastic about walking around on said bike wearing his "cool dude" helmet and "super cool, grown up gloves with the moterbikes on them".

He is getting better, finally, about eating.  This isn't to say that he is picky, he isn't really picky, he just doesn't like like to eat large quantities of food.  He would live on fruits and veggies if we let him; I think I am the only parent who has said: "Put down that banana/apple/cucumber/broccoli and eat your chicken!"

He sure loves his sister and his grandparents.  He had such a great time in Hawaii running back and forth between our condo and my folks' condo (right next to each other) that we had to train him out of doing that once my parent's left!

A few things that he loves to do: colour, play with stickers, play with his playmobile guys, read, dance (he has a very eclectic taste in music), walk his bike around, pretend he is a pirate, cheetah, viking or a monkey and just dance around when he says he "feels so crazy right now Mama!".  He also likes to help me cook and bake and loves his duplos.

He is still an awesome cuddler and if he wakes up before Maelle, we cuddle in our bed under the covers so that he can get "nice and comfy cozy!".  Awwww, it is a very nice way to start the day.

He rarely has big fits about anything and if he does, they are very short lived (I hope I don't regret saying this later).  He is really quite reasonable about most things.  We do, however, have a funny struggle about putting on his shoes.  He feels that he can't do it and I feel that he can, especially when I am holding his sister, the dogs, bags, backbacks etc.

Loic goes to a play group one morning a week and LOVES it.  I have to run after him to say goodbye. We went to check out a new daycare today and I had to drag him out of there - he wanted to stay and play.  He is really, really good with other kids and other moms are always commenting about how chatty and nice he is with other kids.  I love this about him so much.  He is always saying hi to other kids but at the same time is respectful of their space and feelings.  My brother in law once said he has a high Emotional Intelligence and I think that sums him up quite nicely :)

He still likes to put stickers on Tyler and to shake paws.  Tyler is also the resident Black Panther that we spot when we go camping in our living room (Toby is the Cougar) and Loic likes to shine his flashlight and headlamp on the dogs from the safety of his tent :)  Adorable.

While he does have his moments, we so enjoy this little boy and love him so very, very much.


Cauliflower baked 'Mac and Cheese'

I found this recipe in my current issue of Fine Cooking and it was really tasty!  It is a healthy twist on Mac and Cheese and my kids liked it a lot.  Maelle ate an almost disturbing amount of it for dinner....

Here is what I did.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (adapted from a Fine Cooking recipe)

You need:

- 4 cups of cauliflower (broken into smallish pieces, about one small head of cauliflower)
- one onion, sliced
- two cloves of garlic (whole, peeled)

Put the above in a veggie steamer and steam until the cauliflower is soft.  I have a neat counter top veggie steamer that Rob got from his mom when he moved out years and years ago (that steamer has held up well!) and it took about 20 minutes.  Once cooked, put the cauliflower, onion and garlic into your blender with:

- 2 cups of milk (I used 2%, the recipe called for 1%) and puree until smooth.  Add in salt, pepper, one teaspoon of dried mustard and thyme (the recipe called for fresh but I only had dried).  I used a teaspoon maybe?

Take the blended milk, veggies and spices and put on the stove in a small saucepan.  To this add:

-1 cup of shredded white cheddar (I used extra sharp for added flavour) plus one cup of parmesan cheese.  Oh reserve a handful of each cheese to spread on top.  Mix in the cheese until it has melted.  The recipe called for more parmesan and less cheddar but you can really do any combo of any cheese.

While you are making the sauce, cook some pasta.  The recipe called for penne and I used some spiral pasta.  I also used more that the recipe called for, one 454g bag.  It was the perfect amount of pasta.  Cook your pasta until it is not even al dente (it will bake in the oven) and then once it is drained add the hot cheese/cauliflower sauce and mix well.  Put the pasta in a baking dish, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake until bubbly and brown on top.

I actually made this while the baby napped this morning so I just put it in the fridge and baked it before dinner for about 45 min at 350.  Very tasty!  I am going to branch out and do some different veggie combos (maybe spinach and broccoli) and I might add some cayenne next time.  The onion and garlic steamed with the cauliflower was a nice way to add a lot of flavour without using butter and cream.



Art book - for the other Jess :)

Jess, you asked in the comments a few posts back about the art book I got for Christmas.

We are going to pick a project today to do so I thought I would post quickly to share the book info.

Art Book

It is called "Let's Make some Great Art" and is by Marion Deuchars.  I saw an online review and asked Rob to buy it for me for Christmas (we had a $20 limit) and I think Loic and I are going to love it!  I think Rob bought it at Chapters but I am not sure; it looks really easy to order online.  She has a lot of other art books too - I will check those out after we work through this one!

I used to like to draw a lot and am looking forward to using this book with Loic and on my own.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

This week's dinners - for Jess

Ok, here is what we are eating this week - Jess let me know what you like and I will post the recipes.

Wednesday (last night) - we had veggie pizzas.  I had pizza shells in the freezer and used pesto, red pepper, tomatoes, zucchini and kale.  These were really tasty and Rob is having one for lunch today.  Loic was on the fence about these, I think he wasn't a fan of the pesto I used.

Thursday (tonight) - we are going to my folks for dinner!  I am bringing a store bought dessert :)

Friday - I am out at 5:00 and Rob is out after I get home around 7:30, so I am going to make a cauliflower pasta dish that we can eat whenever we are ready for dinner.  It is from my new Fine Cooking magazine and you use steamed and mashed cauliflower, onion and garlic to take the place of butter, milk and flour in a mac and cheese dish.  Should be good!  (I will make two small casserole dishes and will freeze one for later)

Saturday - Rob and I are out for Dine Out.

Sunday - Double stuffed baked potatoes (will freeze some for later), roast chicken and steamed broccoli.

Monday - chicken quesadillas (using left over roast chicken) with red peppers, onions and cheese.  I sautee the onions, peppers and chicken with some spices, put them on tortillas and cover with cheese then I bake them in the oven.  You can also put these on the BBQ.

Tuesday - left over night - any and all of the above!  Or if we eat everything every night, something from the freezer.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Save On Foods you are out (I am sorry I strayed Safeway!)

Tonight I went grocery shopping sans kids, which is almost like going to the spa.  I was browsing the flyers that came with our North Shore News and decided to branch our from my normal routine, which is to shop at our local Safeway.  I shouldn't have strayed.  I went instead to Save on Foods (the big one down the hill, not the little one near my house).  It wasn't until I reached the till that I realized the mistake in my ways.

I like grocery shopping, it fulfills my meal planning tendencies and I like getting good value for my $.  Not too good, mind you, because I cannot really stand Superstore unless I go with Jody.  In my leadership class we once had a discussion which concluded that you are a lot like the grocery store you frequent.  I have only been into Whole Paycheck once and almost died at the price of something so walked out right away.  I am "middle of the road" grocery store person; I like my Safeway but am not a fan of stores at either end of the spectrum.  Good old moderate, mild tempered me.  (Stop laughing Mom, Erin, Rob and everyone else.  Thanks).

Tonight I had my handy list on my iphone - another great use for an iphone mom - and went about my merry way.  I had bacon on my list and lo and behold, they had bacon on for 'buy one get one free' - not two for one (there is a big difference stores and I am on to you).  Just an FYI, if something is two for one you can just buy one for half the price, you don't need to get both.  Same with 3 for 3$ or whatever.  The buy one get one free is different.  Anyways.  I will come back to this later.  The prices were basically the same as Safeway and the store was similar in a lot of ways except....the check out experience.

When I got to the checkout there were two tills open: an express one and a regular one.  There was a big lineup at the regular one and there were 6 open "self check out" lines.  I decided to brave it and went to the self checkout, which was my giant mistake.  

I had my normal amount of groceries to last us about a week and I got down to business.  First, the machine was mad that I put my reusable bags on the scale.  After I sorted that out, the very unhelpful staff member, who when I got there was slowly dusting so she wasn't that busy, glared at me for some reason.  I then scanned the bacon and it charged me for both.  Now, this self check out can tell if I even LOOK at my reusable bags when I am scanning things and knows if I BREATH near the scale so why can't it realize that the bacon is buy one get one free?!  The super unhelpful check out helper woman grumbled her way over and fixed the bacon faux pas.  I then had the audacity to remove a bag from the scale - major problem.  The grocery store woman had to help me AGAIN, at which point I was feeling very anxious.  I then put an empty bag on the scale (another issue, another ignored thank you from the grocery store lady) and was in the home stretch.  I was really regretting not waiting in that line up I can tell you that much.  

I am going to now explain what happens at the check out at Safeway.  I usually have the kids with me, Loic rides in the front of the cart and Maelle rides in the Ergo on my chest.  Both kids have always been well behaved (let's keep that up kids!) at that store.  We go almost every week and I have never seen anyone be anything but helpful at that store.  A few times, grocery store clerks have seen me bending down with the baby in the carrier to remove groceries from the cart and they say "I will do that!" and come and do it for me!  While Loic chats there ear off!  Then, after bagging my groceries, they just come to the car with me.  Loic has really taken to two of the men that often help us.  At my car, they put the groceries in the trunk while I put the baby in the car and if they are faster than me, they hold the cart and chat with Loic.  After I take Loic out of the cart, they take it from me and hand me my quarter then they go return the cart.  Now that I think about it, their customer service has always been exemplary.  

So, sorry Save On Foods, but you are out.  Safeway, I am sorry I strayed tonight, it won't happen again!!

In all seriousness, I am now going to write my local Safeway an email thanking them for the great service because I really think that we (I am guilty of this too) tend to complain when we receive bad service but say nothing when we receive good service.  I am going to try to change this and will do a better job of thanking the good guys out there.  This doesn't mean that I will stop talking about bad service - I am looking at you Starbucks.

*A meal plan for this week is coming tomorrow Jess!*


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Terrible sickness

On Saturday night I felt off.  We had friends over for the hockey game so after I made dinner and put the baby to bed, I excused myself to go downstairs to rest (we have a nice guest room and washroom downstairs).  Little did I know that in a few hours I would be totally miserable, huddled on the bathroom floor.  As soon as everyone left (I never did go back upstairs) around 11:00 that night we heard Loic cough, gag, throw up and sob.  It was *awful*.  In an attempt to keep Rob from getting sick I looked after Loic while he rocked the baby back to sleep.  Loic threw up on 5 different sets of sheets and blankets, poor little guy. He was such a trooper.  Every time he got sick, Maelle would wake up :(  It was quite the cycle.  I held off throwing up until later that times.

Sadly Rob was not immune and yesterday morning around 5:00 am he sent me a text (I was still sleeping in the guest room) saying "I have been hit :("  Thankfully, he was only sick for Monday and was back at work today.  Other than napping most of Sunday and sleeping all of Sunday night Loic is back to normal and I am also fine now.  

My one wish now is that baby escapes this bug.  We have been cleaning like fiends (go bleach!) and I have washed absolutely everything in hot water.  Fingers crossed.

Needless to say, all meal planning went out the window!!  I made a kale, potato, bean and sausage soup for dinner but it was a rare miss.  I don't know why it wasn't good but it was just okay.  The baby ate it up though!  And Loic ate quite a bit for him - he is a non soup eater most of the time - but he liked the sausage and kale.

Anyways, here hoping Maelle got by by eating my breastmilk, she should get antibodies from me in it....I am still washing and hoping she is in the clear!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Meal Planning

**A few people requested this info - do not read if you do not care about meal planning!!!!**

I am an avid meal planner.  I fell of the meal planning wagon before Christmas, and then we were away  for two weeks, but now I am back in business.

The trick for me and meal planning is to plan one week at a time but to have a lot of built in flexibility.  And - I try to make big batches of things so that I can freeze meals to incorporate into future weeks when we might be strapped for time.

This all sounds so very, very nerdy (even to me!), but it does a few things for us: we save a lot of $$ on groceries because I only go to the grocery store once a week, we eat healthy and nutritious meals, we do not waste food and I don't spend a lot of time in the evenings figuring out what to eat.  Wins all around.

Here is the meal plan I made for this week (this week randomly started on Wednesday):

Wednesday - homemade thai turkey burgers (I made turkey meatballs for the kids) w/ whole wheat buns and a big veggie tray plus some fries for Loic.

Thursday - homemade beef, tomato and veggie pasta sauce (I froze two portions for future meals)

Friday - delicious beef short ribs in the crock pot (I think I posted the recipe at some point) w/ brown rice and peas - I made apple pancakes for the kids because Loic isn't a fan of beef short ribs; he had pancakes and peas...a delicious combo.

Saturday - we are having people over to watch hockey so I am doing a roast in the crock pot to make some shredded beef to put on buns plus a big tray of fresh veggies and a salad

Sunday - Homemade pizzas w/ pesto, ham, sauteed onions, veggies and cheese

Monday - steaks (from our cow in the freezer, last ones) home made fries, salad OR perogies (freezer) and a veggie if I don't feel likes steak

Tuesday - Pasta w/ pesto and peas or a salad

Ok, more nerd talk.  I try to keep stuff on hand to make dinners in a hurry - I always have pesto in the house (either in the freezer or cupboard) for a quick pasta meal, Loic loves pesto.  I also try to keep my tiny pantry/closet stocked with pasta, rice etc.  Oh and I usually have a lot of beef in the freezer but I am running low - I need to order more beef.

Next week I am cooking a few things from my new Fine Homecooking magazine - low fat baked mac and cheese using steamed and mashed cauliflour for the sauce and a few others.  Oh and I am going to make a batch of double stuffed potatoes so that I can freeze some because they are easy to freeze and then bake whenever you need some.

Oh and Loic and I made granola bars today.  They were so very easy to make, tasted amazing AND are not loaded with sugar or fat!  We had some for dessert and (surprise) I even froze some for Rob's lunches.

Nerd talk over :)


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pictures from Hawaii

I have learned that it is quite easy to take pictures of 9 month olds and it is very, very hard to take pictures of 3 and a half year olds that have two speeds: sleep and RUN.  We have a lot of pictures of Loic either making faces or running past the camera...

Here are some pics from our trip, enjoy.
**Mom - I can print some for you**

Baby on the beach!

Soft, soft, sweet baby of mine

We spent *a lot* of time trying to stop her from eating sand (I am pretty sure she ate a lot of it during our 2 week stay...)

Loic and Mickey ready to go!

She makes awesome faces

"Hi there!!"

The boys with coffee from Anthony's at the surf spot

The girls at the same spot

I love this picture!!

My two cute kids (too bad one of them has a sticker on his head)


Her "I love the wind!" face

"Ahhhhh!  The wind!!"

Watching the surfers near Paia

This is Loic and almost 7 year old Peyton from Calgary (she invited us to her birthday).  They played so well together and I loved listening to them :)  There was a couple of older women in a unit nearby who also watched them play and said they were totally adorable and they were.  They played make believe everything and Loic really, really loved her.  



We are home, safe and sound, from our lovely vacation to Maui.

Rob took a lot of great pictures on his camera and I have yet to download them on my computer, so for today, just one picture to share of our sweet hula baby:

She is just too adorable for words!!

We had such a great vacation.  Here are a few of the highlights:

- swimming with Loic aka Mr. Chatty in the pool

- swimming in the warm waves, our beach was great for the kids

-watching social Loic play with any kids he could find!  He is so good at it although I do feel unnaturally angry whenever kids tell him they don't want to play with him...

- showing Loic how to boogie board (there was a bit of an incident where he was thrown off his board but never mind that)

- the whales!  We saw so many humpback whales.  Some out far and some right close to our beach.  We also stopped a few times at the lookout point and saw many, many whales close in to shore.  So exciting!  I also made Rob stop the car a few times while we were driving to see the whales :)

- watching the baby wave her hands and shriek for joy in the warm breeze - the windier the better for her!  

- watching the baby watch and talk to my Dad when we went for beach walks and watching her squeal every time she was her grandma or grandpa

- cold beer on the beach (don't worry, I usually only had half a beer, still nursing this baby of mine)
- the sheer relaxation due to the fact that our only decisions for two whole weeks involved what to eat and where to sit and relax and where to swim

I asked Loic what his favorite part of the trip was and he said "the plane" - I clearly kept my panic to myself!!  I think his favorite was actually the pool but since we let him watch videos the entire time he was on the plane I can see why he liked it :)

I think the baby just loved having her parents, brother and grandparents around to amuse her.  She liked the sand a bit too much (she tries to eat it) and loved the water once she got used to it.  She is so easy going, she napped and slept well.  Loic did too, he crashed around 7:00 every night and slept for about 12 hours straight.

I will post pic tomorrow!
We are (kind of) happy to be home, we missed the dogs and my folks, who went home a week before us.

Next up: I need to find childcare for Loic starting mid-march.  Ugh.