Thursday, April 17, 2014

Friday Photos, and Easter Planning

We had more snow this week.  I can't even describe how annoyed I was to see it falling.  Thankfully, it has since melted and the Easter weekend promises some warmth and sunshine.  We are hosting Easter again this year and I'm looking forward to a few days spent unplugged... well, aside from a few Instagram shares maybe :)

I'm still working on the menu for Easter dinner...I am a master procrastinator after all.  I was tempted to make stuffed pork loins again.  The two recipes I love are here and here, both tried and true.  Instead, I think I may do a marinated leg of lamb.  I'm thinking orange juice, rosemary... garlic... wine.  And I've got a few side dish ideas:

My Mom is a master dessert maker, and I know she'll bring a couple of desserts, but I plan to make the Best Ever Carrot Cake again.

I know my kids will be looking for Spinach Dip.

And these two favourite breakfast items will be perfect with all the eggs we'll be colouring.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Photos, and Random Scraps

It's Friday, and Spring is finally here.   The snow is almost gone and I haven't worn a coat since Wednesday.  The winter boots have been put away and we're drinking our coffee outside.

We went on a quick road trip last weekend, one final hockey tournament and another big win for the boys.  Hockey equipment has been washed and put away... for a while anyway.  Tryouts for next season start at the end of the month.

I had some success and some failures in the kitchen.

Ham, broccoli, and cheese stuffed buns - amazing.  Just like the ones you saw here, with ham instead of chicken.  A great way to use leftovers, and oh so good.  I'll be sharing this recipe soon.

Granola bars - yuck.  Oatmeal apricot muffins - OK, but not great.  

Jalapeno cheddar sour cream biscuits - really good!  I used this Sour Cream Biscuit recipe and added some chopped pickled jalapeno peppers along with some shredded cheddar.  YUM.

Speaking of food, did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese Month?  Grilled cheese sandwiches are the go-to I-don't-like-what's-for-dinner alternative in our house, but that humble sandwich has the potential to be so much more than just bread and cheese.  Check out my National Grilled Cheese Month Pinterest board for some unbelievable grilled sandwich inspiration:

And check this flour!  You can read all about it here.  I will be keeping an eye open for this!

Also, I am in love with this Arugula Skirt Steak Salad with Caramelized Pears, Pecans, and Gorgonzola from Ashley at Baker by Nature.   It's gorgeous, healthy, and easy to put together.  I seriously want this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Easter is next weekend.  If you plan to colour Easter Eggs, have a look at this gallery of creative ways to do it:

A great quote:

A great sign:

And a lazy dog:

Weekend Bloggy Reading 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Avocado Quinoa Brownies

I've been getting pretty sneaky in kitchen lately, and becoming a expert at hiding nutritious ingredients in the food I prepare.  My kids aren't opposed to the idea of eating healthy foods, but their palates are less refined, their tastes are not always adventurous, and they still turn up their noses at less conventional foods.  If they're looking for a treat, they would choose something refined and sugary over protein and fibre.  If I want them to eat enough of the good stuff, sometimes I have to disguise it.  Our banana, berry, and yogurt smoothies also have spinach and avocado in them.  Most of the muffins I bake include quinoa, flax, and chia.  I hide finely chopped veggies in sauces and stews.  Pureed dates sweeten baked goods instead of sugar.  And they have no idea that the tuna salad in their sandwiches is hiding sardines and avocado.  Most of the time no one notices, the food tastes good, and everyone's happy.  But there have been a few failures along the way.  I'm still struggling with homemade granola bars, and I haven't quite nailed a few cookie recipes I've been working on, but I think I've figured out brownies.

I shared this photo of black bean brownies a while ago.  They were my first attempt at healthifying brownies, and they tasted great, but the texture was terrible and they fell apart as soon as they came out of the pan.  

I haven't abandoned black bean brownies yet, and I have plans to modify the recipe a bit, but in the meantime I made up a batch of avocado quinoa brownies.  And they were amazing, fudgey and chocolatey, just as a brownie should be.

I might increase the amounts next time, or use a smaller pan, as they were a little on the flat side.  There was an ever-so-slight crunch from the quinoa, which I liked and the kids didn't really notice.  Maybe I could cook the quinoa a bit longer.  Other than that, I won't change a thing.  These are really good brownies.

Feeling sneaky?  Or just craving chocolate?  Either way, these are what you need.

Avocado Quinoa Brownies

1 avocado, mashed
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa (I used dark cocoa)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare an 8x8 pan.  I usually put parchment in the bottom.  Stir together the wet ingredients with the quinoa and brown sugar and combine.  One of my teenagers walked into the room at this point and told me it looked like vomit.  Charming.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa.  I used dark cocoa, which has a slightly bitter taste.  Next time I might try half regular cocoa and half dark cocoa.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 20 min, or until toothpick inserted into the centre comes out almost clean.  A completely clean toothpick means overcooked brownies.  Cool in pan.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Photo Dump

It's raining. It's windy and gloomy.  We might even get a thunderstorm later today... before the snow rolls back in tomorrow.  The next day promises sunshine and double digit temperatures, on the plus side of the thermometer.  This is April, and so goes the ebb and flow of spring.

Random photos of our week.

I posted an article at ReadWave today.  Really just expanding on something I wrote on this blog about a year and a half ago... letting go of perfection.  You can read it here.  I'm not a writer, but every once a while all the thoughts running around in my brain find their way to paper.

And I found artwork on the kitchen counter.  My guess is a fart war, but not an ordinary fart war.  This clearly depicts the fart war to end all fart wars.  

I'm proud to have such creative souls in my home.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More Hockey, and a Touch of Spring

The regular hockey season may have officially ended, but there's still some school hockey to be played.  Yesterday we hit the road for a one day tournament.  I was thrilled to be driving on dry roads under sunny skies for the first time in months.

The best part - no boots or winter coats required.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Photo a Day, and Hockey Champs

A glimpse of the past week, Instagram style.

And last nights hockey champions. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Coconut Banana Chia Chocolate Snack Cake

Earlier this week we celebrated a birthday, shamrock style.  We wrapped it all up with this wonderful coconut banana chocolate chip snack cake, as requested by the birthday girl.  It's an easy, no fuss snack cake, packed with flavour, 

Coconut Banana Chia Chocolate Snack Cake

3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup coconut oil 
1/4 cup milk (dairy, almond, soy, rice...whatever!)

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet would be good too)
3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper.

Cream together the mashed bananas, eggs, chia seeds, brown sugar, milk, vanilla, and coconut oil.  Make sure the coconut oil is well distributed, small lumps are OK.  Let the wet ingredients sit for 10 min to allow the chia seeds to absorb some of the moisture.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.  Whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients until combined.  

Stir in chocolate chips and coconut until evenly distributed.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pan before slicing.

Oh, and a little something to honour the first day of Spring.  I'm so crafty.

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