Spring Recap

Hello Internet Friends,

Obviously I dropped the ball the last few months.  Like dropped it a long way down.  It’s been a busy spring so I have been trying to do some major big batch cooking…sometimes just for myself, and sometimes for a mommy friend of mine that has no time to prep and cook on the weekends. I actually love it. If I could somehow turn food prep & shopping into a home business, I would totally quit my job and do it.  Maybe when I win the Lotto Max…

Food Prep Saves Lives

Food Prep Saves Lives

There are a few winner recipes that I have come across that I’ve been making in large batches to have on hand for quick weekday meals …

Turkey, Zucchini & Quinoa Meatballs - these are delicious!  I have made these twice now and they are a freezer staple.  My friend Jo also tested them on her 1 yr & 5 year olds and they were a hit.  We eat ‘em in lettuce wraps with marinara & mozzarella, but you could have it on spaghetti squash or pasta instead.  Obviously you could omit the cheese, but why would you do that? I mean, Really.

Make These Now!

Make These Now!

Spinach & Feta Burgers – I actually turned these into meatballs but they were delicious just the same.  Roasted garlic and feta…need I say more?  Make these too.

Who Doesn't Love a Turkey Meatball?

Who Doesn’t Love A Turkey Meatball?

Black Bean & Quinoa Veggie Burgers – I have talked about these before.  Just make them.

Chipotle Delicious Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers

Mini Ham & Cheese Quinoa Cups - I don’t have a picture, but these are super customizable and can be tossed in the microwave for a quick lunch (served w/salad or veggies & greek yogurt ranch) or a snack.  Besides the ham/zucchini/cheese in the Pinterest link, which were delish by the way, we have also done spinach/mushroom/feta and ham/broccoli/cheddar and they were delicious too.  Still on the idea list to try are chicken/black beans/salsa, sun dried tomato/artichoke/mozza, pepperoni pizza…Really, the options are endless.  If you don’t want mini (or don’t have a mini muffin tin) there are instructions on making full sized muffins in the comments on the link.

Here are some other delicious recipes that we’ve tried over the last few months…

Crockpot Chicken Chili Tostada Stacks – Holy F.  This is possibly the best thing I’ve tried on Pinterest so far.  Make this immediately.  Spicy, sweet, creamy, crunchy, cheesy…and any other word-”y” descriptor you can come up with.

This picture doesn't do it justice, but this was f-ing amazing.

This picture doesn’t do it justice, but this was f-ing amazing.

Chili - I don’t follow a recipe…just brown some meat and throw it in the slow cooker. Add some veggies and spices, throw in some beans and tomatoes…slowcook for about 6 hours.  Dinner.  Done.

Spicy Delicious Chili

Spicy Delicious Chili

Chipotle Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chipotle Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chipotle Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Pesto Shrimp & Grilled Vegetable Salad - I was always scared to make pesto, but this is a new go-to for me.  Basil is cheap in the summer (or you could pick up a fresh plant for under $10), and a huge batch of the pesto in the freezer comes in handy for quick easy meals.  Toss with chicken & pasta, shrimp & spaghetti squash or this easy salad.  On prep day, toss shrimp & pesto in a ziploc, throw your favourite summer veggies (peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, red onion etc.) in a second bag with some oil and spices and you are good to go.  You can also serve with some quinoa & pesto vinaigrette (pesto + lemon juice + oil) for extra bulk & protein. There are lots of ways to cook this…bbq, grill pan, a cast iron pan…or the most amazing purchase ever?  A cast iron grill pan!  I bought one last year for camping but started using it in the oven over the winter.  It is awesome for getting that smoky grilled flavour that you’re craving when it’s December and grilling season is still 4-6 months away.  Boom.

Pesto Shrimp & Grilled Vegetable Salad

Pesto Shrimp & Grilled Vegetable Salad

Black Bean & Bison Burgers - these are from my fantastic kickboxing instructor & friend, Rebecca.  She has designed an awesome clean eating program & wrote a beautiful cookbook, called Nourish.  You can check out a few of her featured recipes over here.  Trust me, just buy the book.  It’s all real, easy to prepare and (most importantly) delicious food. PS – these were also done on the cast iron grill pan. Buy one. You won’t regret it.

Lean & Mean Black Bean & Bison Burgers

Lean & Mean Black Bean & Bison Burger

So far we have not had many fails.  Only a couple that I can think of actually…

Creamy Cauliflower Sauce - My friend Steph at work sent me this recipe and looooves it.  For me?  It was a total Fail.  I think this would be better with roasted garlic…a possible 2nd attempt could be in the future, but I obviously did something wrong because it just tasted like raw garlic and ended up in the trash.

Broccoli & Kale Soup from Nourish – this one should have been delicious, but we omitted the green onion (because not everyone likes onion for some reason) and it was seriously lacking in flavour.  It looked cool tho…

Green Soup!

Green Soup!

I’m sure there’s lots of other things that we have tried, but I figured a big photo dump was due.  I will be back with some monthly food planning tips shortly.

Cheers,
Red

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Fab February Finds

Two posts in one day…I better be careful or you might get used to this :)

We have both been travelling a lot with work over the last couple of weeks, so haven’t been eating too many at home meals.  But we had a few big hits that I had to share…

Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa - all I can say about this one is YUM, YUM, YUM.  The squash added sweetness, thickness and texture, the chicken was extremely tender, and the quinoa was the perfect touch.  I sent leftovers home with a friend and she was also a SUPER fan of this one.  I firmly recommend you make this tonight!

Squash Prepped & Ready to Go

Squash Prepped & Ready to Go

The last couple of times that I have used butternut squash, I bought the prepped squash from Costco but have found that it has a weird texture and taste.  This time, I bought a whole squash and prepped it myself…now, I realize that this may seem intimidating, but I managed to get er done in about 10 minutes, and with all 10 fingers in tact.  Victory!  And a welcome change from my typical style haha.  The verdict?  Prepped squash = $5.50, whole squash = $3.50 and 10 minutes of your time…your choice.

Vegetable Steamer - A Great Investment

Vegetable Steamer – A Great Investment

**Side Note – this thing is AMAZING for making hard boiled eggs…perfect every time!!

Poaching the Chicken

Poaching the Chicken

Have I Mentioned That I Love This Soup?

Have I Mentioned That I Love This Soup?

Ta-Da!!  The Finished Product

Ta-Da!! The Finished Product

Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers – these were another HUGE hit in our house.  A little bit of spice (I only used 1 chipotle pepper, but will bump it up to 2 the next time), and all kinds of nice.  I saved a few of the beans and added them whole (rather than mashing them all) for a bit of texture.  Next time I will probably add some shredded zucchini and/or carrots to bump up the veggie factor and add some moisture, but they were REALLY good.

Deeelicious!

Deeelicious!

The recipe made 6 good sized burgers (about 1/2 cup each), so this is another keeper recipe for quick, freezer friendly meals that make Monday nights just a little less hectic.  We didn’t make the greek yogurt, mustard & honey sauce…but served them with greek yogurt ranch (plain yogurt + ranch dressing powder), sliced avocado and easy peasy kale chips.

Dinner is Served

Dinner is Served

But with success comes failure…it does in my kitchen anyway.  I attempted to make these Sweet Potato Crisps to accompany a mushroom & zucchini frittata and fried deer sausage.  Thinking that I could save some time, I used my food processor to shred the potatoes…well, this was definitely not one of my top 10 best ideas.  The shred was too thick, so the potatoes didn’t cook and we ended up with raw potato mounds.  I think a finer shred, either with a microplane or the other processor shredding plate, would have resulted in crispier, cooked potatoes.

Sweet Potato Fail

Sweet Potato Fail

What’s on the menu this week you ask?

Sunday – Grilled Lemon Chicken and Roasted Carrot & Beet Salad w/Feta

Monday – Greek Salad w/Quinoa & Marinated Chick Peas … I am kind of winging this one, but am using Greek Pasta Salad and Cucumber & Tomato Salad w/Marinated Garbanzo Beans as inspiration

Tuesday – Grilled Shrimp with Salad

Wednesday – Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers 

Thursday – Chipotle Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What are you guys eating this week?  Anything worth sharing?  I would love to see some pictures!  As usual, I will try to post some reviews next weekend…or in a few weeks, whenever…

Chow for Now,

Red

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January Recap

Hi Friends!

Sorry for the lack of posting, lots has been going over the last few weeks.  I thought I would throw out a quick January Recap on a few meals we had last month, some keepers and some not so much.

Vietnamese Style Lettuce Cups - these were a big hit!  Salty, sweet, crunch from the veggies, and it’s all wrapped up in a crisp butter lettuce leaf.  Lettuce wraps are awesome because you can fill them with so many things…taco meat, tuna salad, quinoa & beans…or in this case, yummy Asian flavoured ground pork.  The sauce recipe makes a LOT, so you could easily half it and have enough for leftovers.  Definitely a keeper.

Prepped & Ready to Go

Prepped & Ready to Go

Ta-Da!!  Delicious Set Up

Ta-Da!! Delicious Set Up

Cauliflower Steaks with Spinach Gratin - holy F, this was a top ten Meatless Monday meal for sure!  I have seen cauliflower steaks on Pinterest before but wasn’t 100% sold.  These sold me.  The roasted cauliflower has great texture and a bit of sweetness, the creamy and salty spinach cheese sauce was a-m-a-z-i-n-g.  Make this NOW.

Cauliflower "Steaks"

Roasted Cauliflower “Steaks”

Cheese & Spinach.  Yum.  That is All.

Cheese + Spinach = YUM

SO Good!!

SO Good!!

Turkey Zucchini Meatballs - these were an awesome find.  They have great flavour, the zucchini adds moisture and the recipe makes a ton, so I was able to freeze them and had 2 quick and easy weekday meals before going to get my ass kicked by the trainer.

Easy, Delicious Meatballs

Easy, Delicious Meatballs

Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup – unfortunately this came with mixed reviews.  The first attempt was so f-ing spicy that we couldn’t eat it and the second time, I burnt the squash so it had a really bitter taste.  But I encourage you to try it, because the flavour profile really should work!  Coconut milk, red curry paste, sweet squash…it should have worked!

Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Korean Flank Steak - the marinade in this recipe was pretty good, but I have decided that I don’t like working with flank steak, so I probably won’t make it again.  I just find that the steak is really touchy when it comes to cooking it perfectly, and when it’s overcooked it’s really not good.  But the marinade itself was yum and if you like flank steak, this one is worth a try!

Roasted Tomato and Zucchini Frittata - I freaking love frittatas…can’t say enough good things about them.  Quick, easy, and a great way to cram a ton of vegetables into one meal along with the protein filled goodness of the incredible, edible egg.

Frittata!

I Heart Frittata!

Shrimp and Broccoli - another keeper!  Throw the ingredients on a cookie sheet and roast, how hard could that be?  Throw in a bowl with some soy sauce and rice or quinoa and you’ve got dinner.  Done.

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal - if you are a regular reader, or follow me on Pinterest, you will know that this has become a weekly regular in our house.  Tastes like candy but is full of real, good for you ingredients, and it is super easy to throw together and bake on Sunday.  This feeds us for the entire week, 9-10 servings in total, and I just throw it in the microwave and eat with a splash of cream.  Make this NOW!!

Baked Breakfast Awesomeness

Baked Breakfast Awesomeness

I encourage you to try some of these and let me know what you think.  I’ll be back with a few February finds (say that quickly 10 times) that I am sure you will love.

Chow for Now,

Red

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Holding Steady…

Hey Friends,

We are in week 3 of January, kick off month to a healthier me.  That’s the plan anyway.  So far I have hired a personal trainer and joined a kickboxing class, which is like SO fun.  I’ve never really punched anything and it is such good therapy!  And a kick ass workout.  And the whole diet thing?  I would give myself a 7/10.  Sometimes, when the sun is shining in January and you’ve just endured a month of freezing cold and snow…you just gotta have a cheeseburger and a beer.  Am I right?

Here’s a recap of last week’s menu…

Monday - Bison MeatloafGrilled Zucchini with Lemon Salt and Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

Tuesday - Red Thai Curry Butternut Squash

Wednesday - Korean Flank SteakSpicy Sichuan Style Green Beans and Veggie Load Fried Quinoa

Thursday - Turkey & Zucchini Meatballs

And here’s how it actually went down…

Monday I had a 24 hour flu.  Like kick your ass, keep you in the bathroom all night kinda flu.  Good times.  But I did manage to get my ass off the couch in the afternoon and make Red Thai Curry Butternut Squash Soup.

Mmm Soup

Mmm Soup

Topped of with a dollop of greek yogurt, fresh parsley and pumpkin seeds, it was pretty good.  I had already roasted the squash on Sunday afternoon so it was a super easy meal for a Monday.

Sunday Prep for Easy Weekday Meals

Sunday Prep for Easy Weekday Meals

It had a bit of an odd flavour, but I’m not sure if it’s because I used frozen onions (I chop a whole bunch and then freeze them in individual portions for easy use) or it if was because I may have burnt the squash a little bit.  So it wasn’t a 100% success, but it was pretty good.  The soup had an especially silky and delicious texture thanks to this bad boy…

Best. Blender. Ever.

Best. Blender. Ever.

Behold, the Blendtec.  A friend of mine bought me this for my 30th birthday.  I won’t lie, secretly at first I was like “A blender? Weird.”  But I did not understand the awesomeness that was the Blendtec.  Check out this Will It Blend? video to see what I mean.  No BD, that’s just an iPad being pulverized into powder.  This thing makes amazingly smooth smoothies, milkshakes, soups and veggie juices.  To be honest, I like my juicer better for making juices, but it works.  The Blendtec easily blends from totally frozen and has all kinds of pre-programmed items like the aforementioned soups and smoothies, as well as milkshakes, sauces, nut butters etc.  It’s a huge hit and I love you JC for buying it for me.  (PS – I am not being paid to sing Blendtec’s praises.  It’s just awesome and I like to share info on what I’m using in my kitchen.)

Anyway, back to the food…

Tuesday I made the Korean Flank Steak with steamed basmati rice and green beans.  The sauce was delicious but I’m finding that I don’t like working with flank steak.  I find it really hard to cook, because it’s either totally rare in the middle or overcooked and like leather when you try to eat it.  Frustrating.  So I have one piece left (I buy one at Costco and cut it in half) and then I’m not sure that I will use it again.

Wednesday the man had the same flu that I had on Monday, so I was cooking for one.  I pan fried salmon with some lemon and steak spice and made a quick spinach salad.  Read: salad = lettuce.  This time I even got fancy and added roasted pumpkin seeds.  It’s not much, but it’s an easy serving of vegetables.  I also whipped some greek yogurt with sriracha to make a spicy dip for the salmon.

Salmon & Spinach "Salad"

Salmon & Spinach “Salad”

Thursday we had Turkey & Zucchini Meatballs served over roasted spaghetti squash tossed with parmesan and S&P.  I made these meatballs a few weeks ago and had them in the freezer ready to go.  Defrost, reheat…wallah!  Dinner made easy.  They were delish.  I cooked the squash whole for the first time and found that the middle was harder to scoop out than when you cut it in half before you cook it.  On the plus side, it was definitely much easier to cut in half after it was cooked!  Safety first.  Not like cutting myself is an unlikely scenario, right?

Balls. Turkey balls.

Balls. Turkey balls.

So, this week is another busy week.  It’s actually been a busy first few weeks of 2014.  But it’s a good busy and it’s kind of fun. Anyone else feeling like that?  I kick box during my lunch break on Mondays and Fridays, see my new trainer Tuesday and Thursday nights and play soccer on Wednesdays.  Phew!  So we are trying to keep things healthy, quick and easy. (That’s what she said.)  Sunday I prepped bags of veggies and dip and made hard boiled eggs in my food steamer (awesome method, by the way) for easy lunch items.  I also cut up and marinated pork for dinner on Tuesday.

Last night was taco night.  But bison tacos, in lettuce wraps.

Bison Taco Lettuce Wraps

Bison Taco Lettuce Wraps

And tonight was buffalo chicken wraps and kale chips.  I had a bit of cheddar, greek yogurt ranch (I stir up a bit of the ranch dip powder with non-fat plain greek yogurt), spinach, and avocado.  I know the wrap looks huge, but I actually ripped off most of the excess once the photo was done.

Buffalo Chicken Wrap & Kale Chips

Buffalo Chicken Wrap & Kale Chips

I’ve been breaking up and cleaning the kale on Sunday and storing it in a ziploc with a papertowel.  As long as I make sure to spin it really dry, it seems to keep better and makes it super easy to throw a hand full into a smoothie or salad,  or roast up a quick tray of kale chips.

*My kale chip recipe isn’t really a recipe.  I just mist them lightly with oil, toss with salt and pepper and bake for 10 minutes at 300 degrees.  Flip and roast another 5-10 minutes and enjoy!  Watch them the last few minutes, they burn easily and are kinda bitter if you do.  You can customize these in so many ways…parmesan cheese, sriracha, hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder…whatever you have, whatever you feel like.  They are SO good, and perfect guilt free snacking.

The lineup for the rest of the week is…

Tuesday – Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles - this was my original pinspiration.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this yet, but I have pork tenderloin cut up and marinating in stir fry sauce and hoisin so we’ll make something work.

Wednesday – Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti

Thursday – Cauliflower Steaks with Spinach Gratin

What is everyone else eating?  Are you sticking to those New Years revolutions?  I’d love to hear what your resolution was and how you stay motivated.

Chow for Now,

Red

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A New Year

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a great holiday season and are kicking ass on your new years resolutions.  We spent Christmas in Galveston, Texas with the family…

Welcome to Galveston

Welcome to Galveston

Eh

IP “Eh”

There's A Beer For That

There’s A Beer For That, Eh?

Cool Trumpet Statue at Old Galveston Square

Cool Trumpet Statue at Old Galveston Square

So Pretty

Pretty Building

And then there was this…

Stay in your own lane, or else.

Stay in your own lane, or else.

…we actually saw like 4 cars that had these umm, spikes?

Galveston was beautiful.  The weather was kind of the pits, but I imagine it’s unbelievably awesome in the summer.  I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture, but all the houses were on stilts.  Like your house is literally 10-12 feet off the ground to keep you out of the water during a hurricane.  And they’re all different pastel colours.  So cool.  Google for a picture.

SO, 2014.  I have started the new year trying to workout more and eat healthier…isn’t that what we all say?  I guess it’s only the 11th of the month, but so far we are doing pretty good and I’m seeing small differences already.  We signed up for gym memberships and a personal trainer…yes, I jumped on the bandwagon and I am one of the people that you regular gym folk hate in January.  But I promise to keep it up and become a regular too.

So, what has been on the healthy train menu you ask?

Sunday – Roasted Tomato and Zucchini Frittata - this was delicious!  Frittatas are seriously the best meal.  They are quick and easy to make, can be really healthy and they are super customizable…just throw whatever veggies, meats etc. you have in the fridge in a pan, cook for about 5 minutes and then poor eggs on top, sprinkle with cheese and bake.  Easy! And Delicious.

Frittata = Yum!!

Frittata = Yum!!

Monday – Slowcooker Turkey Chili – I kind of just threw a bunch of stuff in the pot, but my pinspiration was a recipe I saw  for Biggest Loser Crockpot Turkey Chili.  My chili had ground turkey, italian sausage, peppers, mushrooms, black beans, kidney beans, Bushes baked beans, tomato sauce and a can of Rotel.  Rotel is canned tomatoes with jalapeños and is seriously SO delicious.  Of course, it’s not available in Canada but the next time you are South of the line, buy some and bring it home in your suitcase…you won’t regret it.

Tuesday – Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp - this was a total success, easy fast and delicious (thats what she said).  20 minutes in the oven and we threw it in a bowl with leftover rice and a couple shots of hot sauce and soy sauce. SO good.  Definitely a keeper for quick weekday meals.

Wednesday – Leftover chili – honestly, we are pretty bad about leftovers but they sure do come in handy when you don’t have time to make dinner.

Thursday – Leftover chili – nuff said.

Next week’s menu looks like this:

Monday – Bison Meatloaf, Grilled Zucchini with Lemon Salt and Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

Tuesday – Red Thai Curry Butternut Squash - this will be attempt #2, the last time was a too spicy fail (like, burn your ass).  But it had really good flavour so I’m just going to decrease the curry paste by at least half.

Wednesday – Korean Flank Steak, Spicy Sichuan Style Green Beans and Veggie Load Fried Quinoa

Thursday – Turkey & Zucchini Meatballs - with some sort of tomato sauce concoction (I’ll let you know what I come up with)  and served over spaghetti squash.  I made a batch of these meatballs last weekend for the freezer, love having meals on the ready for when you don’t really feel like cooking.

The more prep you can do on the weekend, the easier your week will be.  I am hoping to get at least part of each meal ready on Sunday and will hopefully be back tomorrow with lots of pictures of my weekly prep.  I know this post was stingy on the photo experience.  So sue me.

Chow for now,

Red

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Distracted Cooking

So, lets talk about Kitchen Safety.  Boooring!  Next post Red.  But wait!  There are excellent (read: poor quality & not attractive) pictures to come if you stick with it for one (maybe 2) paragraphs.  Warning: the pictures in this post may be graphic in nature.

So, you know when you are watching Top Chef, Hells Kitchen, etc. and some chef is in a total panic and cuts or burns or damages him/her-self and you’re like “Idiot!” (that’s right, I yell at my TV).  Well, I totally had an Idiot! moment this weekend and burned the crap out of my hand.

The only picture I got – blame the searing pain & tears. Photo op = not a priority.

I had decided to make Chicken Pot Pie w/Phyllo Dough for dinner…

Totally Worth It.

Totally Worth It.

…which was amaaaazing, BTW.  But I don’t have a pie plate and my ceramic ramekins (ceramekins? haha) were dirty.  So I decided to just make the gravy & chicken mixture (w/carrots, celery, parsnips, peas & corn…as I said, yum) in my big oven safe frying pan, and then I put the phyllo on top and baked the whole thing in the oven in the pan.  Yay me for being innovative, right?  It was all coming together swimmingly, the timer went off and I pulled that sucker out of the oven…happy, happy, happy.  Well, this pie needed a photo op…obviously…so I dropped the oven mitts, grabbed my phone and kicked it into camera mode.  But wait!  The pie isn’t centered in the picture (OCD much?), let me just grab the handle of this pan with my bare hand (!) and turn it.  Well F.  That mother was H-O-T.  So I run to the sink, crank the cold water and sit there with my hand under the tap realizing that I have seriously hurt myself.  I tried to be tough, I actually didn’t burst into tears for at least 3 minutes.  And then the meltdown began.  F!  It hurt!  Bad.  And then!  To make it even better, my parents (who are travelling and I haven’t talked to in like a week) are calling on FaceTime!  So I quickly sucked it up and answered, with hand still in a sink of cold water, and explained briefly what had happened.  Their response?  “Oh Red, again??”  Again!?  Seriously?  Yes again, sort of.

The last time was July…I was putting away dishes and I dropped a bowl.  But instead of just letting it drop I tried to catch it so when it smashed on the counter, a piece bounced up (or something, I’m not really sure) and cut my hand…

Taking pictures at the hospital is totally okay.

Taking pictures at the hospital is totally okay.

Close Up!

Close Up!

Resulting in this…

The Damage

Stitches!  (a few days later)

…my first stitches (technically my second, but I was like 2 the first time and don’t remember).  And this, on my catching hand, 2 days before a long weekend ball tournament.  Awesome.  (Did I still play?  Obviously.)  To make it worse I got this really grumpy (not at all delicate or gentle) Doctor, and he didn’t even make sure things were frozen before he started to sew me back up.  *Tear*

So, back to the burn.  After sleeping with my hand in cold water for the whole night and waking up with blisters all over my hand, I ended up staying home and missing work.

Ouch

What’s that?  You need another close up?  Here you go…

Wrinkly Ouch!

Wrinkly Ouch!

Nice right?  Bath tub wrinkly fingers times like a thousand.

I’ve had multiple kitchen accidents, but I always cut my left hand (knife is held in my right) and I always burn my right hand (dominant hand does the work).  While sitting on the couch feeling sorry for myself, I realized something.  This accident was totally a case of distracted cooking!  In these here parts there are laws against distracted driving.  Driving while doing things such as texting, making phone calls and even eating will result in a hefty fine.  Well, distracted cooking resulted in my missing work, not sleeping much and having to explain to friends, coworkers etc. exactly what a fool I am.  I’m lucky it was just a burned (or cut) hand and not a grease fire, or a missing finger or something.  Put down the phone in the kitchen friends!  It’s probably the most dangerous room in the house and not a place to mess around.

Lets not forget about the food though!  The Chicken Pot Pie w/Phyllo Dough was SO delicious, and I will totally make it again, sans burns.  It’s serious comfort food, but the phyllo makes it lighter and a little bit guilt free.  You MUST make it too!  Get the recipe here at The Lemon Bowl … yum, yum, yum!

Any ideas on how I can prevent these accidents that will still allow me to take iPhone pictures of my food!?  I’ve heard of cut proof gloves…but it seems cumbersome to chop veggies while wearing gloves, no?  Maybe there’s like a silicone thing I can stick on the handle of the pan when it goes in the oven?  Or maybe I can con my man into being my own personal blog photographer so I can focus on the food :)

Chow for Now!

Red

Try Again…

Forgive me, again.  I know it’s been a looong time since my last post.  It seems like this has become a common theme, saying I will do better and then apologizing for not doing it.  I feel like I have been doing that a lot lately…eating better, working out more etc. but for one reason or another, it just doesn’t happen.  I turned 30 a month ago and had all these goals, it’s just been hard to feel motivated.  But I can dwell on it, or I can do better…so I’m going to, again, say I will do better and try harder.

Phew…enough with the emotional diarrhea Red, we’re here for the food.  Sorry, sorry…you’re right.  The FOOD.  My last post was like two and a half months ago (oops!)  so I have a couple updates for y’all.  One – my first fill-the-freezer cooking weekend. Two – safety in the kitchen.  So, lets start shall we?

1.  My Fill-The-Freezer Cooking Weekend

I have seen maaany pins for freezer meals but have never been that excited about it.  To me, the notion of freezer meals reminds me of all those nasty, bland, and totally unhealthy microwave dinners that you find at the grocery store. What I learned is that freezer meals can be delicious and as healthy as you want them to be.  The extra kick in the pants that I needed to get on this freezer meal bandwagon was that one of my very best friends was going in for surgery, leaving her husband and two very sweet kids to fend for themselves. Unacceptable. So I picked 5 meals out of my Pinterest arsenal and started planning.  I would make the full recipe for each dish and just split into two containers, one for her and one for me.  All in all, including grocery shopping, it took me 2 full days…9am to 11pm on day 1 and 830am to 4pm on day 2.  But it was actually SO fun…if I could do this for a career and actually pay bills, I totally would.  My friend has a lady that comes in to her house and cooks her Paleo meals…for like $250 bucks plus groceries.  I could do that.  Any takers??

Anyway, here are the meals I picked.  The pizza pops were kind of a spur of the moment decision when I was at the store and realized that there’s a fab italian market by my grocery store and they make fresh pizza dough.

  1. Cheesy Enchilada Casserole  *made with ground turkey instead of beef
  2. Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
  3. Sloppy Joe Mix
  4. Sausage, White Bean & Kale Soup  *I have a few pins for this soup, so I kind of took them as inspiration and winged it
  5. Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
  6. Pizza Pops  *this one was also used more as inspiration
The Haul

The Haul

Soup Ingredients Ready to Go

Soup Ingredients Ready to Go

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Sloppy Joe Mix Prepped & Ready

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Sausage for Soup (Left) & Ground Beef for Sloppy Joes (Right)

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Sloppy Joes – Done!

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes for Mac & Cheese

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Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese – Done!

Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole - Done!

Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole – Done!

As you can see, the Progress pictures quickly became the Done! pictures.  Day 2 I only took one picture, the Ta Da picture.   Whoops.  But I can’t do everything.  Shop, prep, cook, DO NOT BURN ANYTHING.  My focus was on the food, not so much on the photo ops.  Next time maybe I will hire a photographer to document the weekend.

I make it sound like I was on my own, but I DID have a couple of friends that helped along the way…

Tupperware Smooth Chopper:  This model has actually been discontinued and replaced with the Tupperware Power Chef System, which is basically the same thing except you get a funnel.  This thing chops and whips all with the pull of a cord.  Magic.

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Tupperware Power Chef

Tin Foil Pans:  Now, these don’t seem like a big helper but when a husband is left on his own to take care of a 5 year old and an 8 month old, dishes are not an option.  Read: Disposable = Awesome.

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Tin Foil Pans

Label Maker:  Oh label maker, how I love thee.  OCD much?  Yes.

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Label Maker

Aaaaaand, Drumroll Please!!  The finished product(s).  2 days of hard work, but it was really fun and I know that she really appreciated it.  And I appreciated it too.  It was SO nice to come home and have meals ready to go.  I will definitely do it again, so stay tuned for more freezer filler posts.  We are actually planning a potential girls weekend in January to cook, cook cook.

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Ta Da!! I forgot the soup in the photo, so sue me.

As a bonus, she got a pan of Baked Oatmeal too…because it is freaking easy, and freaking delicious (and I had extra).  Seriously, try this recipe. It’s like the easiest thing to customize…Don’t have blueberries? use raspberries!  Don’t want to add sugar, sub in apple sauce.  Can’t do dairy? Use almond milk, rice milk…whatever gets you going.  Throw it together, bake it for a half hour.  Breakfast all week?  Done.  Heat it up in the microwave with a splash of cream, milk, yogurt, ice cream and chocolate sauce…whatever!  Do it!

I know what you are thinking…how were the dishes?  Some were a success and some were a fail.  But that’s okay, because unless you try it you will never know, right?  I have at least one cooking fail per week.  Just yesterday I had to throw out an entire pot of red curry butternut squash soup because it was SO freaking spicy that I could not eat it.  Like, Could.Not.Eat.It.  But I will totally make the recipe again, with half the red curry paste, because I think it would have been awesome had it not burnt the tastebuds off my tongue.  Lesson learned.  The only real fail was the Sausage, White Bean & Kale soup…and I 100% blame the fail on me, not the recipes.  I have a few sausage & kale soup recipes pinned, so I kind of winged it based on the general idea of each recipe.  Brown the sausage, add the beans and broth, add the kale at the end.  Seems easy enough, no?  I am no expert, I am 100% just guessing, but I think the fail was because I used pork sausage instead of turkey sausage…the soup had a really strange after taste and I wonder if it was because I didn’t skim off enough of the pork fat (??)  But then there are LOTS of other soup recipes that call for pork sausage, so I really don’t know.  Whatever, live and learn.  The Chicken & Rice casserole had really great flavour, but next time I would add more liquid and I think I may have overcooked the rice because it was kind of mushy after it was reheated.  But would I try it again?  Yes.  The Sloppy Joe mix was pretty good, but extremely sweet.  Next time I will use half the sugar and probably add some hot sauce and/or chill powder.

The Chicken Enchilada Casserole, Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese and Pizza Pops were our faves.  The enchilada casserole was really filling and could easily be made vegetarian by taking out the meat and adding more beans, mushrooms, etc. to bulk it up.  The mac & cheese was awesome.  Obviously.  How can you NOT like mac & cheese?  And you totally can’t taste the sweet potato so it’s fab for picky kids.  And pizza pops?  Who remembers eating those as a hungry teenager?  These were similar…but with real dough, real sauce, real toppings and real cheese.  Not that weird cubed mozza that was in pizza pops and never seemed to melt properly.

Phew…I think that’s enough for one day.  Update #2 – Safety in the Kitchen will be posted soon, I promise!  But for now, my hands are tired!  And I bet you are sick of reading.  So go forth, enjoy the rest of your week…and if you are in Southern Alberta, stay warm!!

Chow for Now,

Red

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