Posted in Cooking with the Kiddies, Uncategorized

Social Distancing in the Kitchen

In our normal life I don’t cook much, it’s not that I don’t like to cook, or am not very good at it, it’s just that I’m never home long enough to cook. A few years ago we starting using meal kit delivery.  We did Chef’s Plate for about a year but the kids found their meals a bit too adventurous.  We switched the Hello Fresh and have been getting their meal kits for a few years now.  With these meal kits I know that we are at least eating a well balanced meal at least 3 times a week.  Whoever is home first makes it and everyone eats when then can, rarely together.

Since school’s have been closed dinner time has changed dramatically in our house.  We have sat down to dinner, the 5 of us, almost every night for 2 weeks now.  I can’t remember the last time that happened.  I have kept up our Hello Fresh deliveries, mostly because that way I know whatever happens with food availability in the next couple weeks/months we ‘should’ have 3 well balanced meals a day.  The others days of the week I have started to cook again, and I am having fun with it.  I am trying to get through the many items that have been stocked in my pantry and freezer over the past year.  We are trying to support local.  Today we got fresh bread order from The Good Bread Company, and picked up a drive through market order from Heritage Lane Produce.  Earlier in the week we received a Dover Rocks Box, with cheese, bread and sweets from small shops in Port Dover. I dare to say that we are eating now better than ever (Eileen is becoming a bit of a cheese snob).

The other great thing is that there are so many chefs doing online cooking demonstrations for free, as many people now have more time on their hands.  There are many out there but the one I have been following is from another local business, Ritzy Cakes.   Michael Reitz is #chefisolation and he is posting video on the Ritzy Cakes Facebook page.  You can watch them live or look through their page for past videos.  Last weekend I made the crepes and tonight I made the Pasta Carbonara.  They were both awesome and devoured by my entire family.  On Saturday morning I’m going to tackle the Eggs Benny.  I love trying these new things, and it is a great way to keep busy and motivated.  The next time I need a cake for a birthday or other event I’m definitely calling Ritzy Cakes! (for some reason I can’t upload a photo of my crepes but here is the pasta)


Posted in Books, Cooking with the Kiddies

Little Book Adventure – Challenge #4: Inviting Pinkalicious to Dinner

We started challenge #4 by discussing the idea of characters.  I realized it is a difficult idea to explain without using the word character.  We talked about that a character is the who the book is about but that ‘who’ doesn’t need to be a person – it could be an animal or a thing.  I tried to use some simple examples such as the pigeon in Mo Willems Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (example of an animal character), and Thomas the Train (example of a thing character). I sent Kaitlyn, Eileen and my niece Lyric to find a book with a character they all loved.  The two younger girls really had no idea what they were doing, as I quickly realized when they both brought me ABC board books.  Kaitlyn understood but was bringing me books she liked with more obscure characters.  I went to her bookshelf with her to find some more well known characters that her sister and cousin might also like.  First I suggested Curious George and was met with a look of disgust (not really sure why).  When I pulled out Pinkalicious her eyes lit up.  I quickly found Purplicious, and Goldilicious and rounded the girls up on the couch.  We read each of the three books and then I explained their task to them.  We were going to plan a dinner party and invite Pinkalicious to Dinner.

Now that they had picked the character it was time to get started.   First Kaitlyn helped me pick the menu.

Don’t worry we didn’t eat mice for dinner – it is to read mousse.  From this I found some recipes online and made a grocery list.  My nieces were with is for a few days and they are vegetarian, which is why we had risotto for the main course.  My kids LOVE risotto so I thought this was a good fit.  There wasn’t too much for me to prepare.  I had made coloured devilled eggs for Easter so this was pretty easy.  All you do is soak the boiled egg whites in water with red food colouring for about 30 minutes before adding the yolks back in for devilled eggs.  We found a pink brie recipe and pink risotto recipe online.  We bought a mix for strawberry mousse at the grocery story along with pre-packaged raspberry lemonade.  Not to much work but a successful, and kid friendly menu.

Before heading to the grocery store we decide to paint some pink pictures for the walls of the kitchen to decorate.  This was inspired by the art class which Pinkalicious had in the book Purplicious.  I got out the three paint palette trays I had picked up at the dollar store a few months ago and mixed red and white together to make a variety of shades of pink. I gave each of the girls a large piece of painting paper and let them create.

I love how Eileen has become so meticulous with her painting.  She decided she would paint a cupcake and took her time and patience and it looks like a cupcake!

After we returned from the grocery story the girls set the table with Grandma while I worked on the food.  We searched the house and pulled out everything pink we could find.  I managed to find 8 small pink plastic plates along with cutlery from our Princess Tea Party last May.  I also found some streamers and random balloons in the craft bin in the basement.

After that Kaitlyn quietly disappeared – and I didn’t realize how long she was gone unit she came back upstairs with her creation!  She had decided that we needed a real Pinkalicious for our party so she made one!  This was entirely her idea and it was AWESOME!

She also decided that Pinkalicious needed a proper invitation so she disappeared back downstairs to her craft centre and returned with an invitation.

Front of Invitation

Inside of Invitation

Everything was ready so the girls ran off to get dressed.  They found the fanciest pink dresses they could in their closets.  The table was set and Pinkalicious was waiting for her hosts!

Appetizers were ready to be enjoyed.  Yes, I know the crackers are not pink – I could not find any pink crackers in the grocery store.

Our pink risotto!

Finishing off with some yummy pink mousse (not mouse).

It was a fun afternoon preparing and a fun dinner for everyone!  Now I think I may just have to take the girls to see the Pinkalicious stage show before the summer is over!

Posted in Books, Cooking with the Kiddies, Craft Thursdays, Literacy Tuesdays

5 Little Ducks, a Donkey and a Wolf – MeMe Tales Readathon Week #1

I was very excited to learn about the MeMe tales readathon and we downloaded the app and the first books a couple of weeks ago.  However, as school had not finished yet we are a couple of weeks behind.

Week 1 of the Readathon was all about Animals.  We have tonnes of animal books at home but it was cool that both of the books for the readathon were traditional tales.  I am been trying to introduce the kids to nursery rhymes and fairy tales so this fit in perfectly.

We started with 5 Little Ducks.

The Five Little Ducklings
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The Five Little Ducklings

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This is a familiar tale and instantly my girls started to sing the song.  I went to iTunes and downloaded them the Raffi version.  They listened to it over and over again and then decided that they were going to act it out for themselves.  I sent them on a hunt to find as many toy ducks as they could.  Michael’s favourite toy is his stuffed duckie but we managed to find a bunch more, especially when we got into the bath toys!  We used two large pillows covered by my green table cloth for the hill (they called it the mountain), and we filmed in the backyard on a sunny day.  It took a bit of rehearsing and distracting of one little brother but it ended up pretty cute!

I got inspired to create a special breakfast for the girls around the duck theme. I found a gluten free pancake mix in the pantry and decided pancakes and fruit would be perfect.   The only problem was that most of my cool shaped cookie cutters are plastic.  I found a tutorial at Time 2 Save that helped me use tinfoil to copy my pastic duck cookie cutters.  This was supper easy and let me make duck shaped pancakes for breakfast.  They asked why they didn’t have 5 ducks each but I am glad I didn’t make that many – they each ate only 2!

Continue reading “5 Little Ducks, a Donkey and a Wolf – MeMe Tales Readathon Week #1”

Posted in Cooking with the Kiddies

Gluten Free – Mommy’s Turn

If you have been following my blog for a while you might remember that last spring my kids went on a trial gluten free diet for a couple of months.  If not you can check out my posts (2).  It turned out that my kids are fine with gluten but had other issues.  Now that I seem to have their diets mostly under control and they have not been getting as sick this  year (fingers crossed to keep it that way), I figured it was about time to think about what I eat.  I have had stomach issues for years, but I have not really worried about them lately as they  seemed to get better whenever I was pregnant or nursing (ironically).  That has been pretty much my constant state for the past 6 years but now that I am done having children I have been finding the problems coming back.  When this problem initially started as a teenager the doctor gave me some pills for the pain but not much else was done.  At one time I thought I had a chicken allergy but after taking that out of my diet it didn’t get any better.

I figured it was time to give the G-Free diet a try for myself.  So far I have made it through one week with only a couple of slip ups.   I figured I should start with a bit of inspirational reading so I picked up a copy of Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s The G-Free Diet (and also a copy of her cookbook).  I am 60 pages into the book so far and have learned a bit – most surprising to me were the number of things with gluten in them that I would never have thought of (I read this after sealing a pile of envelopes that probably had gluten in them).  My one slip up was at school on Wednesday when we had cupcakes for my teaching partner’s birthday and I ate one without even thinking.  The biggest difficulty is snacking, especially when I am not at home.  I use to often visit Tim Hortons for an afternoon snack before picking up the kids from daycare and can’t do that anymore.  I haven’t yet, but this may lead to some weight loss due to less snacking.  I have been trying to plan ahead packing carrot sticks or G-Free crackers but I am not normally the person who plans ahead (for myself anyway).

So my major focus is my own diet, I am not making the rest of my family go G-Free.  Saying this they will be eating a lot less gluten as I am the one preparing the meals.  Our meal plans for the week are all G-free and sometimes I give them an alternative (I had a rice wrap while they had ww tortillas) but most of the time their dinners are 100% gluten free.  I even found a cool site with a weekly menu plan that we are going to try this week.

Sunday morning are our big breakfast mornings.  Lately Kaitlyn has been asking for waffles all the time so I thought I would try to make some G-Free waffles for all of us.  Using google I quickly discovered that most recipes called for tapioca flour or other strange ingredients that I don’t have but I did eventually find a recipe at Gluten Free Cooking School using ingredients I had in my pantry and fridge.  They turned out pretty good, even if they had a bit too much butter for my liking.  Kaitlyn kept saying that they were the best waffles she ever had and Michael ate his entire plate and seconds.  They have already decided I need to get strawberries to try with them next Sunday.

The biggest problem I have going gluten free in my small town is getting ingredients.  We have a pretty good natural food store and an aisle at the Superstore that I can get stuff at but the selection is limited.  I did discover that our favourite pizza place now has a Gluten Free crust and I tried it on Friday – awesome!

We will see how this new adventure goes but if it makes me feel better it is all worth it!

Posted in Cooking with the Kiddies, Craft Thursdays, Family Adventures

Happy New Year!

We thought we should do a few things at our place to celebrate the New Year.  Eileen woke up the other day to see the ground covered in snow and then declared that Christmas was finally here.  Then she looked around and noticed the tree and all the decorations were already gone.  To make her feel better we made banner to celebrate New Years.

I found a cute idea for a banner at Kaboose.  I didn’t have any nice felt around the house so we went by Walmart and I found some cool sparkly felt (the sparkles don’t show up very well in the picture).

I cut the strips out as the instructions listed and glued them on the string.  I found that they kept sliding with white glue so I used hot glue to make sure it would stay together.  The next day I sat down with the girls to make our banner.  I used the glitter glue to print each letter in uppercase and they put the sequins on.  At first I tried to get them to use small sequins but after a few minutes I abandoned that battle and let them do it however they wanted.

While it was drying before going on the mantle I decided that it would be a good time to watch Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.

I had PVRd this movie when it was on a couple of days earlier thinking the girls might like it.  It seems like all the good kids holiday specials are always on after the kids go to bed!  For a couple of years now I had been looking for a New Years show I remembered watching as a kid about a New Years baby and as soon as it started I knew this was the one.  This special starts right after Christmas when Santa gets a letter from Father Time telling him that Happy the New Years Baby has gone missing – and of course the only one who can find him in a snow storm is Rudolph.  Rudolph sets off and meets a number of new characters along the way in his search for Happy.  As an adult watching it there are so many inconsistencies that in history that it made my head want to spin.  For some reason I don’t have a problem with the more traditional tales and a flying red-nosed reindeer but a number of islands where the Father Time of each year goes to retire is a bit far fetched for me.  Kaitlyn actually asked me while we were watching it if the cavemen really lived at the same time as the dinosaurs (because of course they do on island 1 000 000 BC).  I did really like the use of time in the film in many of the characters.  This is a concept we have been working on and led us to decide we needed to make a special treat for New Years Eve.  The girls are going to a party with the cousins at Grandmas so we decided to make a cookie clock for them to take.

We started by making a batch of soft sugar cookies.  We had a recipe from that we had used to make our reindeer cookies a few weeks ago, and they worked really well, so we used it again.  You could easily use refrigerated cookies dough from the grocery store.  Since this was an experiment and we weren’t sure how it would turn out we decided to simply make them circle shaped.  We have an awesome box of 101 cookie cutters that has a number of circle cut outs so we picked the size we thought would work best.  After chilling the dough for a couple of hours the girls helped me cut them out and bake them.  I let them cool overnight and then I made a glaze using another recipe I found at  This recipe made enough for the cookies we needed for our clock but not for all the cookies we had made.  I made two batches of glaze – one in blue and one in green.  All I did was dip each cookie in the glaze and then let them dry.  After they were dry I used some buttercream icing and piped on the numbers.  The girls picked gummy worms for the arms of the clock and I used a chocolate wafer for the middle.  You could also use liquorice.  It helped to secure the arms with some more icing.

Next week while Kaitlyn and I are still off school I think it will be a good time to do some more activities on time, but this was a great start!  And yummy too!

We decided we needed to do one more thing for New Years, especially since they would be at Gramma & Grampa’s house.  Make noise makers!

We found a cute idea at Kibmoou.  We first called Gramma to bring over any empty water bottles, we didn’t have any.  She brought over a few different types and we picked the Gatorade and Powerade bottles because they had the biggest openings.  I went through my pantry and picked out a number of things that would make noise in a bottle: navy beans, rice, white beans and split peas.  I put a small amount in 4 bowls and told the kids they could experiment to see what filler would make the sound they liked best.

Eileen picked the navy beans because their sound was the loudest.  Kaitlyn mixed them with a heavy concentration of rice because she it made the sound she liked.  Michael just put in anything he could get his hands on.

Our bottles had large openings but if you had smaller openings you might want to use a funnel.  After they were full I glued the lids on so they would have not escapees.  As an aside make sure your bottles are clean and dry before starting, otherwise it won’t work as nicely.

We took off the labels and got started with the decorating.  This style of decoration is very easy at this time of year because we had so much tissue paper from Christmas presents.  First I gave them scraps of white tissue paper.  They each covered their bottle by gluing on the tissue paper using glue I had diluted in water.  They would lay the paper down and brush the glue on with a paint brush.  We let them dry a little, not completely and then I gave them a bowl of mixed colour tissue paper and let them make their designs all over their shakers.

Kaitlyn pretty much did Michael’s for him but Eileen’s persistency was impressive.  I have been very excited with how much patience she has been showing with her crafts lately.  Other than Mommy smoothing a few edges she did the entire thing herself!

We let them completely dry overnight and then I added some ribbon for them today.

Now that I am done my last blog of 2011 I am going to take the kids cookie clock and their shakers over to Gramma & Grampa’s for the girls (who are already there) and then I am going to come home, put on my comfy P.J.s and enjoy some fajitas and a movie with my Gord and Michael.

Wishing everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year!!!

Posted in Books, Cooking with the Kiddies

Cookies for Santa

Christmas Eve is a busy day in our family as we do our Christmas celebrations with Daddy’s side of the family so we have to bake our cookies for Santa on the 23rd.

First we read our book for the day: Max’s Christmas by Rosemary Wells.

The Max and Ruby chain is one of those great ones where the books came  before the show.  There is quite the online discussion about the absence of Max and Ruby’s parents and many parents have a strong dislike for the show but it doesn’t bother me that much.  Maybe because I have kids that remind me of Max and Ruby..  At first it was Kaitlyn and eileen with the younger mischievous Eileen always ruining her best laid plans but now it is definitely Michael who is destroying the girls’ tea parties and other adventures.  I purchased this book a couple of years ago for Eileen when she was the recreation of Max.  Ruby describes the idea of Santa to Max who doesn’t understand why he can’t stay up to see Santa – as usual Max asks those incessant simple questions like every toddler.  This is a great book to read a couple of days before Christmas.

Next we had to bake our cookies for Santa.  We had done a lot of baking leading up to Christmas so I wanted to keep this simple.  Eileen also reminded us that she told Santa in her letter that she was making him Chocolate cookies so I convinced her that chocolate chip would be a good idea.

To make it even easier we used the recipe on the back of the bag of chocolate chips for Chipits Chewy Milk Chocolate Cookies – a fail safe recipe that we had all the ingredients to in our pantry.  Santa loved them!

Posted in Books, Cooking with the Kiddies, Kindercrafts

The many 12 Days of Christmas

The 12 days of Christmas was a big theme for us this year, at school – and at home.  It all started with last year for Christmas Eileen received a copy of A Porcupine in a Pine Tree from her Aunt and Uncle.  This is a great Canadian 12 days of Christmas.

I had mad the decision to use this book at Christmas in my Kindergarten class a long time ago – but once we got started it took on a life of its own.  I started at the beginning of December by reading them the book.  Each child was given a large bristol board Christmas Tree and was told we were going to make the 12 days of Christmas.  This activity has a lot of teacher prep but it was totally worth it.  I had pre-printed and cut out all the gift for Christmas.  On the JK pictures I had stencilled in the numbers and on the SK pictures I simply put and empty box for them to print in the numbers.

My teaching partner suggested doing something to make the porcupine stand out at the top of the tree so we painted small doilies and glued them on the very top, and then put the porcupine on top.  We started with 3 ‘days’ a class but when we got to the higher days we only did 2 a class.  For 11 and 12 I saved time by leaving them in a strip and they just glued on.  It was a very time consuming activity and took us many classes but it was a perfect way to reinforce our numbers up to 12 that we had been working on in the month of November.  Feel free to use the file I made for the activity: porcupine in a pine tree, you will need to print in the number stencils if you wish for JK students.

On the last day we sequenced the story on the back on the tree.  This helped reinforce the idea of story sequencing and gave me an opportunity to introduce ordinal numbers.  I had strips for each day and first they glued them in order.  As this was a new concept I only gave one strip at a time (we had done the same thing with our numbers on the front).  It was much easier to track everyone as a whole class this way.  The same day we added the ordinal numbers before the sentences (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc).  This I gave it them each in a pile and asked them to put in order themselves – it was a great way to see who had mastered their numbers and who still needed some help.

The best part was at the end when they took them home.  As we were learning each day we were also singing the song – complete with actions.  I found a youtube video from a class in Kitchener that I would definitely recommend checking out!!

To make some text to text connections I also read a few other versions of the 12 days of Christmas.  I found a treaditional version on the discount shelves of our local bookstore.  After reading it to them I played them the true classic 12  days of Christmas sung by John Denver and the Muppets!!

Next I read A Stork in A Baobab Tree: An African Twelve Days of Christmas. I would love to have done more time on this one in my class but we drew some great connections to what they do in African and how it is different and the same to what we do in North America.  For example “On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four market traders” – we discussed how many of us to to the market in our own downtown to get fresh food.

One book I ran out of to do with my class was A Pinata for the Pinon Tree.  This was our family book for December 15th!

This is the 12  days of Christmas in New Mexico.  When I picked it up I thought it would be a Mexican Christmas but instead it is a Southwestern Christmas.  The cool thing about this book is that on each page is shows one set of characters decorating for Christmas using the different items for the 12 days of Christmas but in the left hand part of the page is a grandmother character who is baking some sort of treat.  The treat is never mentioned in the story but at the end of the book is a recipe for Bizcochitos – a traditional New Mexican Christmas cookie.  It was very obvious that we had to make these cookies, but they called for a strange ingredient – aniseed.  The next Thursday when we went to market I asked the spice lady and she had aniseed!  We mixed up the batter and made a variety of Bizcochitos.  I let the girls pick from all of my cookie cutters so we had a wide variety of shapes.  These are a very different tasting Christmas cookie so not everyone may like them – but everyone we gave some to loved them!









I am looking for more great versions of The Twelve Days of Christmas to add to our library for future years.  If you have a favourite let us know!

Posted in Books, Cooking with the Kiddies, Craft Thursdays, Family Adventures

Our Ginger Home

When I was shopping at the end of November I picked up Home For Christmas not realizing it is the newest book by Jan Brett.  I knew it was a Jan Brett but didn’t notice the 2011 publication date.  I hadn’t even read the book but decided it would be good for the 8th day of December when we were to decorate our Gingerbread House.

This is the tale of a young and carefree troll named Rollo who still has his tale, because trolls only loose their tail if they are kind.  Always doing whatever he wants Rollo leaves home and on his journey spends time with different animal families throughout the year.  No matter what he does he just doesn’t seem to fit in with any of the animals for very long, and ends up back at home, a changed troll, just in time for Christmas.  We read through it for simple enjoyment, and loved taking in Brett’s pictures but their are so many literacy and character connection that can be made.  As with all of Brett’s book the illustrations are perfect for helping children predict what is coming up next in the story, and inferring what the characters are feeling and thinking.

This was to be a fun activity so I didn’t want to get too serious – on to the Gingerbread house.  Now we do a Gingerbread house from scratch every year and it is a 3 day adventure.  A number of years ago I found a great site that gave a perfect outline and template for making a gingerbread house.  I printed it off and we use the same recipe every year.  The first year I made templates for the shapes and a board for the house, which are put back into one of our many Christmas boxes after the holidays to be brought out the next year.  On day 1 I bake the house and sometimes get a bit of help from the girls.  I always have lots of dough left over and make Gingerbread Men out of the leftovers.  Sometimes I make the stained glass windows using lifesavers (if I remember before baking) and this year the girls loved crushing the lifesavers.

On day 2 I assemble the house.  I use books and pop cans to help prop up the pieces.  This is an activity for after the kids have gone to bed!

Day 3, which fell on December 8th this year, is the fun day – it is decorating day.  I took Kaitlyn to the grocery store bulk section and let her pick out a variety of candies.   We we everything up on the table and decorated!

Mommy’s job is to put the icing on and the girls are responsible for decorating.  This is the first year I pretty much did none of the decorating.  Kaitlyn is very much into hearts so she put a large heart on each side of the roof.  Eileen pretty much ate more candy than she put on the house, but she made a good effort with creating a pattern with the M&Ms.  This year we pretty much had to decorate the house twice.  We did it Thursday afternoon before the daycare Christmas concert, but while I was getting Eileen dressed for the concert Michael crawled up on the table and ate off half of the candy (most of it he simply spit out).  I quickly cleaned up the mess the best I could and then when we got home from the concert we decorated it again.  Now it is kept well out of reach from Michael.  It has dried but I still don’t want to take any chances!

Posted in Cooking with the Kiddies

Cookbook Trials – Week #3

Monday – Mac ‘N’ Cheese Please page 56 The Family Dinner

The main ‘go to’ in our house for comfort food as well as an easy meal when we leave the kids with a babysitter is Macaroni and Cheese.  We have many different recipes that we use so I thought that it was about time to try The Family Dinner‘s version.  I will start by saying overall it tasted pretty good but this is the first recipe in this book that I had a few problems with.  For starters the crunchy topping calls for panko bread.  I have been looking for panko for a while now with no success.  It was nice that in this recipe I was given an alternative of using crushed saltines.  For cheese we used Monterey Jack, one of our favourites, and I liked the fact it called for evaporated milk – it gave the cheese sauce a lighter feel.  As always we used whole wheat pasta.  The main problem I had was with a few of the instructions.  It told me to mix the sauce ingredients in a ‘small’ bowl – but I ended up switching bowls three times until I was using my largest bowl.  It was the only way to fit all the ingredients.  Also it is very important that when you have all the ingredients together in the pot you hat it very slowly. I had my stove on medium but it was still too hot and some of the eggs began to set.  Beyond wanting a few clearer instructions this mac and cheese was pretty good and will probably be made again.  On a side note I found that later in the week it didn’t reheat very well, compared to some of the other macaroni an cheese recipes I have made.

Tuesday – Leftovers: We had a lot of them!

Wednesday – Crispy Black Bean Cakes with Guacamole, “Grilled” Corn, and Slaw

This week we switched our Meatless day from Monday to Wednesday to make sure Gord was home to try this dish.  I followed the recipe exactly for this one.  The Guacamole, Cabbage Slaw, and “Grilled Corn” were made according to the recipes in the book.  Every summer/fall we make our own salsa so we used ours instead of the recipe.  We did leave out the green chilies because we love flavour but not too much spice in our food.  When all was said and done (and cooked) we were amazed how much we loved this dish!  Not something I would normally think to make but it was a hit with everyone except Kaitlyn, and I am not sure if she didn’t like it or if she was just being fussy.  I was so proud of myself I had to take a picture.

Thursday – Asian Beef Stir-Fry page 48 The Family Dinner

I am making an alteration to next week’s meal plan.  Where I write down the meal for each night I will indicate any advance prep or marinating time needed.  Again this week I went to make dinner and realized that I didn’t leave enough time.  Fortunately on Thursday I only needed to marinate for 3o minutes (the minimum) so we didn’t eat too late.  I picked this recipe because I wanted to use some of the awesome local asparagus available around here.  I couldn’t find Asian fish sauce and almost substituted oyster sauce until I googled the and learned they are not interchangeable.  I thoroughly enjoyed this stir-fry but the flavour would probably have been a bit better with the fish sauce.

Friday  – Pea Nutty Noodles page 128 The Family Dinner

As recommended on twitter this was a recipe we had to try.  It was very much a kid friendly, hands on meal.  The girls picked bow-tie pasta and it worked nicely.  For toppings we had: tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, and pickles (all picked by them).  I didn’t have enough smooth peanut butter left so we used a combination of smooth and crunch and the peanuts added a nice texture.  It turned out really well and the kids like it.  I am not a huge peanut butter fan so I would probably not make this for myself but I am sure the kids will ask for it again!

Saturday – A Better Burrito page 34 and Popcorn Three Ways page 26 Kids Cooking

I found the cookbook Friday night when I was cleaning my desk area. It had fallen between the desk and the wall.  We decided to make the Better Burrito that we were going to make last week, and Kaitlyn has been asking me to help her make the popcorn since she first opened the book.  For the burrito we used mozzarella cheese, refried black beans, tomatoes, sour cream, and salsa.  They turned out pretty good but again Kaitlyn was frustrated that she couldn’t do more.  There was a fair bit of prep on the stove and even I had to be careful around the burners.  This recipe was also very basic but in this case it was explicit in that you are to modify and add what you want for fixings.  Michael especially liked the burritos and they were all over his face.

The popcorn was an educational experience.  We like popcorn in our house, and my kids often request it when they watch their movie on Saturday nights.  We have boxes of light microwave popcorn in the pantry at all times.  I had never made popcorn on the stove before so it was kind of cool and much easier than I would expect.  Not sure about the health aspects cooking it in oil so that is something I need to look into.  We tried the Cheesy Italian Popcorn seasoning and it turned out pretty well.  It was funny, however, because we normally eat light popcorn the amount of butter in this recipe seemed a bit overwhelming – but the girls didn’t complain.

Sunday Breakfast – Cinnamon Apple Grits (page 16) and Double Strawberry Toast (page 20) Healthy in a Hurry

Sunday is our big breakfast day so we tried a few new recipes.  The first was the Cinnamon Apple Grits.  I thought this would be more of a side dish but it ended up being quite large so I probably didn’t need to make anything else.  It tasted pretty good but didn’t seem healthy at all.  One serving had 517 calories and to me that seems like a lot for breakfast.  We eat mostly low fat and low sugar foods to the taste was very sweet for us.  The Double Strawberry Toast was much better and had a lower calorie count at 399 calories per serving.  If we were to make it again I would simply use sliced strawberries maybe with a hint of lime juice – the honey was just unnecessary sugar.  The french toast worked out well but you have to make sure to cook it long enough or the inside of the sandwich is a bit soggy.  As a nice treat we used one of jars of freezer strawberry jam from last year.  We are almost out but no worries because strawberry season starts this week!

Sunday Dinner – Soy Good Maple-Glazed Salmon page 46 The Family Dinner  & Disgustingly Rich Brownies page 60 Kids Cooking

My mom was looking through my books last weekend and commented that this recipe, and the accompanying picture, looked really good so I thought we would try it.  This Sunday it was just the 5 of us, we didn’t have any company for a change.  Again I didn’t have the Asian fish sauce so I had to leave it out but it tasted great without it.  I very often over cook fish out of a fear of under cooking them.   I decided today I would follow the directions carefully, and this was difficult because I don’t trust my broiler (for no reason in particular). For the first time I cooked salmon perfectly!  We serve it with brown rice, steamed green beans and cauliflower.

For desert we made the Distgustingly Rich Brownies.  The directions were nice and easy for Kaitlyn to follow.  They tasted good but not the best brownies I have every had.

One more week to go. I have enjoyed this experiment with the three cookbooks but am looking forward to the freedom to make whatever I want for dinner.

Posted in Cooking with the Kiddies

Cookbook Trials – Week 2

Monday Breakfast – French Toast with Strawberry Butter, page 12 Kids Cooking

We had a family dinner for Baba’s birthday on Monday but we thought we would try another breakfast recipe.  Kaitlyn wanted to make the French Toast with Strawberry Butter and Daddy left for a business trip to China, so I decided it was a good morning for a family breakfast.  This recipe was much more appropriate for the age of my girls.  Kaitlyn helped gather all the ingredients, washed and cut the strawberries, measured the ingredients, blended the butter and made the egg batter.  All I did, other than supervise, was dip the bread slices and cook the French Toast.  I was a bit hesitant about the strawberry butter but it was better than expected.  The strawberry flavour on the French Toast was very good but the excess butter felt unnecessary.  I would have preferred a light strawberry sauce but it was definitely a more kid friendly recipe.

Tuesday – Aloha Shrimp Stir-Fry, page 92 Healthy in a Hurry

The girls love shrimp and frequently ask for it so I thought this would be a perfect recipe to try.  Overall this one was pretty good, and it only took 10 minutes to prepare – I actually had to make white rice instead of brown or it wouldn’t have been ready in time.  I was surprised how hard it was to find uncooked large shrimp that were peeled and deveined.  I had to purchase ones with tails on and pull the tails off but it wasn’t a big deal.  The only substitution I made was that I used defrosted frozen mixed stir-fry vegetables.  This probably made it a bit faster to prepare.  Next time I make this I will add more cornstarch, the sauce didn’t thicken very well.  A nice light dinner.

Wednesday – Speedy Pasta in a Pan, page 44 The Family Dinner

I love getting comments on my posts or responses from my tweets so I was thrilled when The Family Dinner responded to my tweet:

May we next suggest: speedy pasta in pan, black bean cakes, peanutty noodles?All so good! RT@KEMmommy: CookBook Trials –

I had already done my meal plan for the week but I modified it to inlcude the Speedy Pasta in a Pan.  It was a good day to do this recipe because  I had a couple of hours at home in the afternoon so I could prepare the dish and then after spending an hour at the school I could just cook it for the last 15 minutes.  I also doubled the recipe to have another dish for another night so this was a bonus.  This time I made the basic recipe and it was good, however it would be much better with sausage or vegetables added.  I also may reduce the amount of mozzarella cheese on the top of the dish.  My girls loved it.  They rarely ask for seconds but today they both did.

Thursday – Personal Pizzas, Kids Cooking

Some time between Thursday and the weekend I have misplaced copy of Kids Cooking so I can’t tell you the page right now.  It has to turn up somewhere.  These pizzas were made on english muffins, and we decided to use whole wheat.  The kids enjoyed them and they were easy to make but again they were nothing special.

Friday & Saturday

Friday night we were at the dress rehearsal for the dance recital until 7:00 so instead of left overs we drove through Little Caesars and picked up pizza.  Saturday we went to Gramma & Grampa’s for dinner

Sunday – The Family Dinner: Organic Chicken Legs (page 42) & Chocolate Pudding Fast (page 213)

Gord was still in China so we had Gramma & Grampa over for dinner.  I learned a valuable lesson – read your recipe many times very carefully.  I some how missed that I needed to cook the chicken in the oven for 45 minutes.  I had the roasted potatoes, asparagus and carrots done a good 30 minutes before the chicken but amazingly everything seemed to work out.  Normally I don’t like chicken drumsticks but these weren’t bad.  I went to the poultry counter at the market and asked for chicken legs and they gave me drumsticks, so I cooked a lot more than the 4 that were called for.  The tomatoes, onions, and garlic were a great sauce but I think I will try it with chicken breasts next time.

We always have homemade desert on Sundays and we were planning on making the brownies in the Kids Cooking  books but since we couldn’t find the book we had to improvise.  I found a recipe for chocolate pudding in The Family Dinner which I had all the ingredients for in my pantry & fridge and my girls love chocolate pudding.  I have never made homemade pudding before (not sure why) so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Normally our pudding comes out of a box or plastic container.  I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was and I thought it tasted pretty good.  Kaitlyn liked it but Eileen did not like it.  I used semi-sweet chocolate and hence it was not overly sweet.  I am going to find some good milk chocolate and try it again.

Next week we are using mostly The Family Dinner in our menu plans with a couple additions from Healthy in a Hurry.  Hopefully Kids Cooking shows up soon.