Friday, January 28, 2011

Prepare Ahead: buying larger quantities of meat to pre-marinate, spice, dice, and sauce them yourself!

About once every week or two I buy several larger packages of meat and end up spending about 20 or 30 minutes with them.
How do you know what is a good price for meat? Start by looking at the price per pound or the price per kilogram. The price per kilo for regular ground beef will usually be the cheapest; the price per kilo for boneless skinless chicken breasts will be the most. 

With beef, watch the prices per kilo and compare them to other cuts - when I bought these “marinating” steaks, they were $1.20 per kilo cheaper than cubed stewing beef!!
Another important thing to watch is the “best before" date or the “packed on” date. I always want to take home the freshest meat, so next to the price per pound, that is the next most important.
This week, I bought one package of marinating steaks and one package of chicken thighs with the bone in.

In our family, lunch is leftovers from dinner the night before, so when I am packing up meat, I am actually packaging one dinner and one lunch for four. 

This is a wonderful opportunity to plan ahead if you are cooking for one or two or if there are several nights of the week when you need to throw something in the slow cooker or the oven on low before you run out the door for a few hours. This pre-planning has saved us from eating dinner out and spending nearly $40 when the dinner in the oven costs less than $10 and will also feed us lunch tomorrow. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cauliflower: Return of My Nemesis

Well, it happened again last night. 

Wednesday evening around 5:12 I looked into my fridge and discovered a cauliflower that had been there for a little while. It needed using right away and a few dicey bits cut off.

What to do with a cauliflower (or broccoli) that needs using... NOW?! Here is my go-to salad recipe for cauliflower and broccoli.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Simple Pleasures

I love rocks. 
When I was little, we went to the beach every day of the summer. It was quite hot outside and we did not have air conditioning. So, into the shade on a grassy patch beside the sand we would set up every morning around 10 and we would leave after fire-grilling dinner and eating it there on the beach, somewhere around 7pm. 
I clearly remember laying on my belly on my towel and scooping away the dry sand in front of my nose. I looked intently at all the beautiful rocks in front of me, moving each one carefully with a stem of grass. These tiny rocks were, in fact, sand. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bunwich Kind of Day...

There are times when all I want to eat for the weekend is food on buns: that was this weekend. 
Friday night, we had tuna buns and Saturday morning we had breakfast on a bun. Here is how it breaks down:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Adventure in the Produce Aisle

When we go to the grocery store, there is one rule about vegetables and fruit: if we have not yet tried it, we buy it and eat it. 
Never had it before? No idea what it’s called? No problem, just look it up online and then slice, dice, sauté, and eat it! 

We try to buy any fruit or vegetables the boys ask for, because it builds a sense of adventure and ownership into eating that fruit or vegetable. It's also somewhat exciting to try something new.

Next time you go to the grocery store, instead of just cruising through the produce section getting all of "the usual", add in one thing that you have not had before and tell me all about it!

This is Suey Choy (or Napa Cabbage) and is our FAVOURITE salad base; no more lettuce for us!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pizza... Home Made Pizza

There is something so warm and comforting about the smell of baking bread when it is cold and dark outside. On those days, I find myself scouring cookbooks and food blogs looking for the recipe I will bake. Last night, it was home made pizza from a cookbook my mother-in-law made for Chris when he left home.
Making your own pizza dough is actually quite simple. It involves paying attention for small periods of time, lots of ignoring, a few minutes of baking, then - VOILA! - pizza!!
Yes, it is that simple. Okay, it might take a little longer the first time or two, but after that, it is simple AND quick.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Food is My Love Language

When Christmas was drawing near this last year, my husband and I brainstormed over what to get or do or make for our extended family. The grandparents really did not need anything... neither did aunts and uncles; so, what to do?
The option of donating in their name to a charity or buying a farm yard animal for a family in another country were both good ideas, but we wanted to share a part of who we are for Christmas.
We decided on food. Chris and I worked over two weeks slow roasting and simmering jars and jars of sauces and condiments, all from scratch, for our parents and siblings.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Basics: Pots and Pans and Kitchen Tools

Last month, we were taking dinner over to a friend’s house when she asked, “Are there any ingredients you might need that I could have on hand for the dinner?” 

After thinking for a moment, I responded, “No, we will bring all the ingredients, but could you buy a cutting board for salad prep?”

That got me thinking, what are the basic tools and gadgets that every kitchen NEEDS?

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Nemesis: Ideas for Defeat

For some reason, knowing that we bought it AND it is good for us is not enough. 

The Nemesis: Kale & Swiss Chard

 use in quiche
• thinly slice into soups
 add to curries

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Latte & Granola

Well, I did it. I made granola and coleslaw and I created dinner with meat found in the freezer and it was wonderful!! That second latte did rescue the day!

Winter Blah...

Ever have one of those days where you just want to curl up with a good book, a coffee, and a hand made blanket? Today is one of those days.

Instead, I'm going to go make another coffee, clean up the kitchen, and HOPEFULLY I will also make granola AND coleslaw. There are treasures in the freezer, and I plan to find one and conquer it, making it magnificent. Then, I'll return here and tell you all about the success. It will be awesome. Likely not epic, but definitely awesome. Yum.

And maybe one of these days I'll also tell you how Chris and I made these butcher block countertops!

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Boys Heart Brussel Sprouts

When we go to the grocery store, if there are brussel sprouts in the produce section, you can bet that I am not going home without a nice big bag of them. My boys squeal and jump up and down, “Can we get some? Can we get some?? PLEASE?!?” 

As you can imagine, this usually provokes gawking stares from strangers who have not yet tried the following recipe for incredible brussel sprouts. 

Fasten your seat-belt.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spice It Up!!

When my first child was about a year old, I made an Indian curry feast for dinner one night. He had already had everything I was serving - chicken, rice, vegetables, and legumes - but not the flavourful curry spice blends I had used in that night’s meal.  

I looked at my husband and asked, “What should I feed the baby?”

Referring to the two months I spent in India, he asked, “What do Indian women feed their babies?”

“Right... curry.” I answered.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Dill Pickle Dip

WARNING: This dip is highly addictive and should be used with great caution and self control. When combined with chips, proves incredibly delicious. 

Make it if you dare. 

Dinner Tonight: Curry

After school on Thursdays, the boys and I get home quickly and eat a snack that is more of a meal than a little bite. Then we load into the car with boxing gloves, shorts and tee-shirts and head off to their kick-boxing class in Calgary.
By the time we get home, it is nearly 7:00 and with bedtime FAST approaching, if dinner is not already ready, the wheels fall off and the kids end up going to bed way too late, cranky. 
Here is my solution for tonight’s dinner... curry! I will prep everything before I go help out in Kindergarten this afternoon and I will start the slow roasting before we leave at 4:20 pm for the 5:15 pm class.

RECIPE: Apple Curry

2 lbs beef, sliced and diced (I chop up cheap steaks for this, but ground beef would also work or stewing beef cubes)
1 large onion, diced
2 large apples, cored and diced
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp yellow curry paste (or curry powder if you don’t have the paste)
> mix it all together in an oven-proof casserole dish, clamp on the lid, and put it in the oven at 325*F for 2-2.5 hours; alternately, you could use a crock-pot

> rice, the amount and method you usually use (I will talk more on rice a little later)
fresh cilantro & green onions sprinkled over
I will post photos of this tomorrow as well as any sides I create to go with it! I have no idea what they will be, but I know my fridge is brimming with produce that begs to be eaten! 
* For an authentic experience, do not use any forks, spoons, or other utensils when eating.  Use only your fingers on your right hand and rip up a piece of Indian Naan Bread to scoop and sop the yumminess up!!
** Yes, I am seriously suggesting that you eat rice, small pieces of meat and veg, and sauce with your fingers. Think of how much fun your kids will have!

My 7-year-old decided that this was the VERY BEST curry he had EVER had and ate three large bowls before declaring that he was too full for a fourth. 

Here is a photo of the apples, vegetables, coconut milk, and curry paste before I added strips of cheap beef. And curry in the bowl served over brown basmati rice - with cilantro and kosher salt - yummy!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Resolution

Here is an article I MUST share! I took the time to go through the journal writing tool and wrote then answered the questions in my personal journal. It was the best thing I could possibly have done. 

Instead of making a New Year's Resolution, why not follow Christine's advice and pick a word of the year? Take the time to do this - it is ABSOLUTELY worth every minute!


by Christine Kane

The regulars at the gym were joking about it early in December.

"Have a good workout now," they said. "Cuz you know what it's gonna be like in about three weeks!"

That's because all the folks who have made their New Year's Resolutions will show up. They'll stick around for a while. Then, around Valentine's Day, the regulars get to have their old gym back.

The hosts of a satellite radio talk show were discussing the most common New Year's Resolutions and the average success rate. Among the most common were Get Organized, Be More Spiritual, Lose Weight, Quit Smoking, and Spend More time with Family.

I don't know about you, but this kind of To-Do List approach to life-transformation does NOT inspire me. And it doesn't surprise me that the success rates were low.

Why Resolutions Don't Work 

The reason most resolutions don't work is that they address only one level of your life.

The DO level.

It's the DO-HAVE-BE model.

It goes like this: "I will DO this thing." (i.e., Lose weight) "So I can HAVE this other thing" (Self-Esteem) and I can BE this thing. (Confident.)

The average New Year's Resolution doesn't address the core of the issue:

The "BE" level.

The best order for creating positive change in your life is the BE-DO-HAVE model. This means you start from the BE level. When you begin changing on the BE level of your life, then the DO level and the HAVE level follow more easily.

When you start only on the DO level, then the blocks on the BE level will often become the obstacles you can't overcome.

How to Tap into the True Power of your Intention

Several years ago, my friend Kathy and I decided that, instead of making resolutions, we would pick a word that would guide us throughout the year. It would be our touchstone. It would remind us of living our lives at the BE level.

This didn't mean that we didn't take action. It meant that our actions were inspired from the BE level. In fact, I took more action than ever with this new approach!

For several years now, I've blogged about this inspiring way to begin the year. The response has been huge. So have the success rates! I regularly hear from people who have created big changes in their lives because they focused on one word.

How to Choose A Word 

Look through the list below. Get quiet and listen to your Wise Self. Pick a word.

Then, hold that word in your mind throughout the year, and let your word guide you to take action.

Here's an example:

Let's say you're one of the many people who would normally choose "Get Organized." You're tired of chaos and clutter. So, you think, "I need to get organized. That'll be my Resolution."

But then you read this article. You decide to try this new approach.

You sit with your clutter. You spend a few days pondering words. You realize in an "Ah-Ha!" moment that you hold on to lots of things. You're scared to let go.

So you choose the word "Release" because it inspires you in a bigger way than "Get organized."

So, every time you approach your clutter you remind yourself of that word. "Release," you say softly. You start to let the clutter go.

Eventually, you realize that you're still holding on to lots more than just physical clutter. You realize that you hold onto resentment at old relationships. "Release," you remind yourself.

You realize that holding on is affecting your diet and health. "Release" applies to some of the extra weight you've gained as well. Throughout the year, you can see clearly how much you hold on. "Release" is your touchstone. It grows you throughout the year. It becomes your guiding force, not your harsh standard.

Your clutter became your teacher simply because you shifted your intent towards it. This wouldn't have happened if you'd opted only to "Get Organized."

What word to choose? 

Many people know immediately which word resonates with them. For others, a little contemplation is required.

As you read through the list of words, see if one stands out. It's tempting to choose four or five, believing that you can do it all! (Or that you're so messed up, you can't possibly narrow the mess down to one!) I recommend that if you can't choose just one, choose no more than two.

One is ideal. It gives you focus. If you master that one word, you can choose another one in June.


































































Note: Click here to download a powerful journal writing tool that I created. It's called The Word-of-the-Year Discovery Tool. Give yourself the gift of connecting your hand to your heart and write about what you want to create in the coming year. This tool works! I promise!

Christine Kane is the Mentor to Women Who are Changing the World. She helps women uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly LiveCreative eZine goes out to over 12,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at

POLL: Is there an ingredient you buy then have no idea what to do with it?

For me, it is often cauliflower. I buy a head of it about every 3 or 4 weeks, then I usually forget I have it until I am digging through the fridge at 4:36 on a Wednesday afternoon and I absolutely HAVE to use it for dinner THAT NIGHT or it will go bad. 
Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not the kind of girl who will waste a perfectly good (once a few dicey bits are cut off) vegetable that I paid for... even if it was on sale and I only paid $1.29 for it.
So... what to do? There are so many options!
Is there a “nemesis” ingredient that springs this attack on you? What is it?

My other nemesis is cabbage. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why Scratch?

When Chris and I got married in the fall of 2002, I already cooked things from scratch quite a bit. Chris was sensitive to pesticides and MSG (a chemical additive used to enhance flavours), so I started paying more attention to what I bought and the ingredients in our groceries.  
I was surprised to read all the chemicals we were consuming. We realized that he is also sensitive to sulfites, a type of preservative used extensively in processed foods.
When I say that he is sensitive to these additives, what I mean is that after eating something that included these chemicals, he would get a blinding migraine. An entire day or two could easily be written off by one sandwich of sulfite-laden lunch meats or half a can of condensed soup containing MSG.
As a result, I began making bits and pieces of everything from scratch, and I do mean everything. Salad dressing, soup stock, sauces of every type imaginable, bread, pasta, spice blends, marinades, cakes and cookies, and almost anything else you can think of.  We have even successfully made spring rolls and the dipping sauce on many occasions.
I realize that making all of this from scratch all the time is a full time job all by itself. Even though I am at home right now, I do not have the time to make all of it all of the time.  
The key is paying attention. I have been paying much closer attention these last 8 years and have been making better choices. I do not make all our bread, pasta, pizza dough, and canning. However, I can make some of it from scratch and the rest of the time, I can read the labels. 
Reading the labels always gets me thinking... If I know what all the ingredients are (flour, olive oil, yeast, salt, water, sugar) and I have them in my kitchen, why am I paying so much for this pizza dough rather than just making it myself?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul and Stomach

I love the smell of a pot of chicken broth bubbling away on the stove.  There is something so homey, warm, comforting about it.  It is a great way to use up the left-over meat, bones, and skin from a roasted chicken. Also, it is surprisingly little work.


Chicken bones, joints, skin, etc.

3-6 bay leaves 
10 pepper corns (or 1/2 tsp ground pepper)

1 onion, cut in half
garlic (1 or more cloves)
water to cover the contents of the pot

Cover and simmer over medium-low until it comes to a gentle boil. Allow to simmer for one to five hours before serving. Alternately, you can use pre-made chicken broth and simmer with the bay leaves, pepper, onion, and garlic for 20 minutes.

To Serve:
Pre-boil noodles until they are "al-dente" or still a bit firm. While the noodles are cooking, chop up a few fresh vegetables. Arrange the chopped veggies, cooked noodles, and leftover meat in each bowl.  Ladle strained broth over the contents of each bowl and serve.

Store extra noodles and broth in separate containers in the fridge. If stored together, the noodles will continue to absorb broth and will become mushy.

Do you make chicken soup? What do you do to "personalize" it?