Monday, August 29, 2011
Whenever I make stir fry I wonder why I don't make it more often. It comes together quickly, it's good for you, and best of all, my kids will generally eat it. I find if I throw noodles into the stir fry they're more apt to enjoy it, so that's why you'll find most of my stir fry recipes contain noodles. If you prefer rice, you can skip the noodles and serve the vegetables and tofu over a bed of rice. Another great thing about stir fry is that you can easily be adapt it to suit your taste. I like this particular recipe because it's pretty fast. Once you're done chopping, it cooks up in no time. Using tofu instead of meat cuts down on your cooking time. I also just used a simple oyster sauce instead of making up a mix of sauce ingredients, so that saves you time too. I don't think I've sacrificed the taste with these shortcuts either; this was still one mighty tasty stir fry. Both boys had second helpings, and Cole said I should make this again. I think I might just do that!
Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry
100g (1/2 a package) brown rice vermicelli noodles
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
150g (1/2 a package) extra firm tofu, cubed
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
1 large celery stalk, sliced
2 cups guy lon or bok choy, chopped
1 cup snow peas, chopped
1/4 cup oyster sauce
Soak noodles in hot water until softened. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Add tofu, carrot, celery, and guy lon (or bok choy) stalks, cooking for 2 minutes. Add guy lon (or bok choy) leaves, snow peas, and oyster sauce. Cook for another 2 minutes. Drain the noodles and add to stir fry. Toss together until fully combined.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
First of all I must apologize for my lack of blog posts this month. I've been enjoying the summer as much as I can before it's gone. We've gone on a couple wonderful trips to Harrison Hot Springs and Shuswap Lake, enjoyed many BBQs with friends, and spent a lot of lazy days hanging out in our backyard in te sunshine. It's been hard to fit in any blogging, but hopefully once the fall comes I'll be posting more again. September might be a little crazy though because Cole is starting kindergarten, Bennett is starting preschool, and they both have birthdays that month too. It's a busy time but I'm also looking forward to it. It's exciting watching the boys reach important milestones; they're growing up so fast!
Now for a recipe. I was browsing Pinterest, as I so often like to do, and I came across these Egg Nests from Simply Recipes. I knew right away that I wanted to make these with my kids, because they looked so fun and easy to create. There aren't very many ingredients (just egg, cheese and a pinch of salt), and they're ready in no time. Cole and Bennett both loved helping me put these together and we all enjoyed eating them. I'm not much of an egg person but even I thought these were pretty good.
From Simply Recipes
For each egg nest you want to make, you'll need:
2 tbsp shredded cheese of your choice (I used Swiss)
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat over to 450F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Place each yolk in a separate bowl to prevent them from breaking when you add them later (I missed this step and broke one of the yolks. I really need to learn to read directions more carefully!). Place egg whites and salt in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold in cheese very gently. Spoon onto the parchment lined baking sheet to form mounds and use the back of the spoon to push down the center to make a 'nest' for the yolk.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
One of the things I love most about being a parent is seeing my children enjoying the things that I did when I was a kid. I get so excited when I introduce them to something from my own childhood, like my favourite books, toys, or movies that I used to watch over and over again (when we watched Aladdin together I was surprised to discover that I still knew the entire movie by heart even after almost 20 years.) This popcorn cake is another beloved memory from my childhood. My brother and I requested it for several of our birthday parties and it was always a big hit with all the kids. I was telling Cole about this amazing cake after he said he wanted to make Daddy a gummy cake for his birthday. When I said we could make a popcorn and gummy cake he was thrilled. I asked my mom for the recipe and she told me it's the same as Rice Krispies Treats, only with popcorn and gummies. You can put it in a cake pan, or you can shape it into whatever you'd like (the number of your child's birthday for instance) using greased hands to mold it. You can decorate it with sprinkles, or more gummies and marshmallows, like Cole did.
He had a lot of fun making this cake with me, and even more fun eating it! My brother also sampled some of the cake, and I'm sure it brought back sweet memories for him too.
3 tbsp butter or margarine
1 10 oz pkg (about 40) marshmallows (or 4 cups mini marshmallows)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups plain popped popcorn
1 cup gummy bears
In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir continuously until the marshmallows have completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Quickly pour into a large bowl of popcorn and stir together. Mix in gummy bears last so they don't melt. Using a buttered spatula, scoop the popcorn mixture into a greased angel food or bundt pan and press down evenly into the pan. Chill for a few hours until set.
Linked up to This Chick Cooks Link Party
Linked up to This Chick Cooks Link Party
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Sometimes I let Cole pick the meals for our weekly menu plan by giving him cookbooks with pictures to flip through. One of these cookbooks is The Family Dinner Fix: Cooking for the Rushed, which Cole loves because it has photos of every meal so it's easier for him to choose something. I love it because it has great menu planning tips and grocery lists already done for you in the back. One of the recipes he chose was the Thai Chicken Wraps. They looked pretty tasty to me too, so I was glad when he picked that recipe. When it came time to eat the wraps, my boys had trouble keeping them together so I ended up taking the filling out of the tortillas and cutting it all up on their plates so they could eat it with a fork. It really tasted good though and was definitely worth making again, but the next time I did away with the tortillas altogether and turned it into this salad. It makes a great summer meal, especially if you use pre-cooked chicken because then there's no cooking involved at all! The sauce has an amazing tangy and nutty flavour that I absolutely adore, and it's so easy to make. The kids didn't like it as much as the adults did. Cole scoffed at it, saying that salad is not a dinner, but I thought it was pretty satisfying with all the chicken and noodles in it. And so much better than eating nothing, which is what he ended up having instead. If you're like Cole and salad for dinner just isn't for you, then try it for lunch or a side with another main dish.
Thai Chicken Salad
Adapted from The Family Dinner Fix (Thai Chicken Wraps)
100g brown rice vermicelli noodles
1/4 cup light peanut butter
1/2 cup catalina dressing
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp soy sauce, reduced sodium
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1/2 English cucumber
1 yellow or red pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and sliced
1 pkg mixed greens
Let noodles sit in hot water until soft, then drain and place in a large salad bowl. Cut them up so they're easier to mix with the sauce later. Set aside.
To make the sauce, take a small bowl or measuring cup and combine peanut butter, Catalina dressing, garlic powder, lime juice, soy sauce and sweet chili sauce. Stir until smooth.
Cut cucumber lengthwise into quarters, then slice. Seed and chop the red pepper.
Add sauce (you don't have to use it all, you can adjust based on your taste), cucumber, red pepper and chicken to the salad bowl of noodles and toss until fully combined.
Serve over a bed of mixed greens.
Friday, August 5, 2011
It used to be that when I made a meat sauce for pasta, I'd turn to good old ground beef as the meat. There's nothing wrong with ground beef, but then one day I tried Italian sausage instead, and mmmm boy, it really kicks it up a notch! So lately I've been hooked on Italian sausage in my pasta, which is how this recipe was born. It's a pretty straightforward pasta bake but very yummy. The only ingredient that's a little different is the artichoke hearts that I used just because I happened to have half a can of artichoke hearts left over from another recipe and I didn't know what else to do with them. Luckily they turned out to be a tasty addition to this dish, but I'm sure you could leave them out if you wanted to. The majority of the family loved this meal, except Cole who picked out all the 'meatballs' because they were 'too spicy.' I used mild sausage and no one else thought it was spicy, but Cole pretty much finds everything spicy unless it's completely bland. He did, however, eat almost all of the noodles and sauce, so it was a partial success.
Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
1 package (375g) whole wheat rotini
1 lb Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2/3 cup (about half a can) artichoke hearts, chopped
dash of salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Cook pasta according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove sausage from casings and crumble into a large non-stick skillet. Cook at medium-high heat until browned. Drain off fat and set sausage aside. In the same skillet, saute onions, peppers and garlic until soft. Return sausage to skillet and add crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, sugar, vinegar, parmesan, artichoke hearts, salt and pepper. Mix in cooked pasta. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with mozzarella. Bake for 30 minutes.