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 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.