Macaroni and “cheese” and chickpeas and carrots – A Quest for something the kids’ll eat

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes you gotta break a few eggs if you wanna make some mac.

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Let’s be real.

Kids suck sometimes.

(Ack! That sounded crazed… Back-peddle! Back-peddle!)

I mean, don’t get me wrong, my kids are wonderful and amazing and I love them so much more than words can describe.

But they’re also little twerps who infuriate me.

“Why?” you might ask.

Because they won’t eat “vegables”. Or sleep through the night. Or treat each other with human decency. (Anyone else’s kids know the right pitch of “MINE!” to shatter glass? No, just mine? Sigh.)

If nothing else, I can tackle the “Vegables” thing. Maybe then they will be less prone to blood-sugar-crashing tears of rage. Maybe with a full belly they’d sleep through the night.

(Yes, I’m aware I’m delusion. Give me my moment. Hush!)

My oldest is going through a phase where anything new is poison, half the things she’s seen before are poison, and the only things she can trust are macaroni and cheese, and a few other “golden brown” foods that make my inner mommy (and outer mommy) weep.

Enter my desperate bid to make mac’ healthy.

As with many quests, this one was not successful at first try. Pro tip: Don’t mix cow beans and sweet potato when you’re trying to be stealthy. Pre-schoolers may not be the savviest connoisseurs of the culinary world, but they can taste when mommy goes cray-cray with the “healthy stuff”.

You may have noticed quotes around “macaroni” in the title. That wasn’t an oversight. There’s no cheese in my recipe, but you can add as much as you want and it definitely improves the situation. With this version, I’ve reduced the “bad foods” and upped the vegetable factor by a million, seeing as it composes ninety percent of what my eldest will eat. So if you’re only eating this once in a blue moon: Add cheese.

However if, like me, you’re trying to prevent scurvy and need to eat this stuff for a month, you can leave the cheese out.

Carrots are the “kid approved” vegetable for this one, but I’ve heard that butternut squash works nicely as well. Sub that in for a little bit of variety.

Macaroni and “Cheese” and Chickpeas and Carrots

Bonus: The carrots really give the sauce that “electric orange” colour found with “leading boxed mac brands”!

Ingredients

  • All the water.
  • 4 large Carrots
  • 1 can Chickpeas
  • 750g / 1.5lb Macaroni
  • 6 Tablespoons total of Oil/Butter (I like a ratio of 2 butter to 4 Olive Oil)
  • 4 Tablespoons Flour
  • Seasonings:
    • 1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast (if you don’t have this, use a little dry bouillon and half the Soy Sauce)
    • 1 Tablespoon Nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
    • 1 teaspoon Mustard Powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 3 Cups Milk (or milk substitute)
  • 1/8 Cup Soy Sauce or salt to taste

Tools

  • Two large pots
  • Whisk
  • A couple of wooden spoons
  • Food processor, blender or immersion blender
  • Instant pot, steamer, or pot
  • Optional: large baking dish and an oven

Directions

  1. Steam your veggies and canned chickpeas until the carrots are tender. I use my instant pot for 8 minutes. Stovetop takes about 20. If you want, you can boil them instead. Really, the main thing is that they’re mushy for the food processor so you can fool the kids.

  2. Meanwhile, Boil the pasta. If you’re baking the thing, turn the oven to 350F to pre-heat.

  3. Meanwhile, Add the oil to a large wide-bottomed pot and warm it up to medium heat (4/10 on my stove). If you’re using butter, wait until it’s fully melted. If not, give it about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the flour and seasonings to the oil, and stir them around. If they get lumpy and dry, add a drop more oil. You’re looking for a “almost runny oatmeal” consistency. Yes, we’re making a roux.

  5. Give the flour about 4 minutes to brown, then Add the milk, whisking constantly for about 30 seconds. Keep whisking every couple of minutes until the sauce starts to get thicker, then stir almost continuously until it’s even and thick. You can tell it needs attention when the whisk “mushes” across the bottom of the pot. Dig deep and make sure that “mush” doesn’t burn onto the bottom.

  6. Add the Soy Sauce at some point before the sauce is too thick. Most of the time I forget this part.

  7. Drain and set aside the macaroni when it’s cooked.

  8. Puree the veggies and chickpeas. You may need to reserve some of the water from steaming/boiling the veggies to get a puree-able consistency.

  9. When the sauce is thickened, Add the pureed veggies and chickpeas to the sauce. Mix thoroughly.

  10. Add the macaroni to the sauce (or vice versa).

  11. If you have 10 minutes to spare and your kids aren’t clawing at your leg for “uppies” Spread evenly in a baking pan and optionally top with cheese and breadcrumbs (about 1/2 cup). Pop in the oven for 12 minutes.

  12. Serve.

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“The Why”

Hi. How’s it going?

Oh me? Not bad, not bad.

What’s that you say…? Three years… that can’t be right…

(flips page)

(mumbles incoherently)

Huh.

Well, let’s get back on track, shall we?

2019, where’d you come from?

When I started this blog in 2016, I had a vague notion of what I wanted to do. That fell to the wayside when I became pregnant for the second time.

That’s right, I now have two munchkins, but that’s now…

So it’s 2016 and I’m working 40-plus hours a week, trying to feed my growing family healthy, home-cooked meals. And volunteer. And keep a blog. And deal with morning sickness.

Stressing out about one little munchkin under foot, and another in the oven… Something had to give and, sad to say, it was my blog-a-doo.

But no longer!

You see, I’ve had a bit of time since then to think through this whole “blog” thing, to reflect on why I put so much work into what was ostensibly a leisure activity. I’ve been reflecting on what I was doing and why I felt the need to write about family and food and all that jazz.

I’ve determined what it was that I hadn’t realized before. To sustain any project long-term, I need a good reason. I need to find “The Why”.

After almost three years away, I’m finding the desire and energy to continue. Before I can be successful, though, I need to understand my “why” so when things get hard (and with two growing girls, “hard” comes in crushing waves of insanity, to be sure), I can remember why I’m taking time, energy, and mental real estate to put “e”-pen to keyboard.

Much like another blogging family whose work I admire (when you’re done here, consider going to check them out…) if I’m going to put in the work, I need a darn good reason.

Enter “The Why”.

Initially, I had a nebulous notion (like my alliteration there?) of “keeping track of family recipes”, but I wanted this space to be more than that.

I mean, I’m not a chef, so I can’t expect my own self to come up with super-duper-famous recipes that take the world by storm.

I don’t have a dozen staff (or bots) scraping recipes from the internet 24/7 and pumping out whatever I think “the algorithm” will want today, and I’m not just looking for “clicks” (but those are nice), so I can’t make my “why” be about making sure I have “all the content”.

So my why? It’s a tripod:

1 – My family

It may be somewhat hokey, but: my family really is the center of my world. I push myself hard at work and in life because they deserve the best I can provide, whether that’s a few extra sprinkles on the proverbial cake, or a standing firm against the maelström that is Temper-Tantrum.

So why is my family a motivation for me to push forward when a storm’s a-brewin’? Because by keeping track of our family journey (food being a prominent part of that), I have something to look to other than the “here and now”. This place offers a “snapshot”, if you will, of what things were like “back in the olden days of 2019”.

2 – Myself

I’m an introvert by nature and, frankly, writing is the best way I know to compose my thoughts. Even if all my words don’t make it to the web, the whole process is valuable to me.

Plus, even when I don’t realize it, writing makes me a better-tempered parent, and a more well-rounded human person. Sometimes, you have to be selfish.

And Human.

3 – My community

I’m not alone. I’m surrounded by a wonderful support network of friends and family, which I’d like to grow as my family needs change.

By thinking of my community, I can use that as a bit of a helping hand when my kids are stinky and I’m petulant about self care.

Now that I have “the why”, how ’bout that “what”?

Simply put, I’m looking to document the things that makes my family tick, what make us “us”.

So what does that mean for 2019?

Similar to before, I intend to keep a regular update schedule. But unlike before, I won’t be holding myself to an impossible (for now) standard of three posts a week.

I’m aiming for two posts a week – Mondays something food-related, and Fridays something… else. That’s not me being cagey, I simply don’t know what Fridays are going to be like until the day. What I can say is that you can look forward to everything from random parenting reflections to colouring sheets to Girl Guide, er… guides. I’ve been known to experiment and for now I’ll let the “why” keep me moving forward, and the “what” will get filled in as I go.

Like I said before, though, I’m not going to hold my feet to the fire. Life happens, and I gotta go with the flow. That may mean a missed post here or there, but rest assured, it’s for a good reason!

Now, before I go, here’s a twist on an old adage (yes, the puns are mighty here today):

Where there’s a why, there’s a way.

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Girl Guide Cookies

It’s Cookie Time!

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It’s spring, which means it’s time for those classic Chocolate and Vanilla wafers of joy, Girl Guide Cookies.

No, don’t roll your eyes at me…

…please don’t roll your eyes at me?

I know, I know, “yet another fundraiser”, but before you dismiss me out of hand as being part of the cookie mafia, let me tell you a little about why this twice-yearly fundraiser is so important…

Because… Reasons!

Community-building through a shared experience

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Selling cookies is about more than just getting the dollars in the door. It’s also about encouraging Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers to contribute to their Guiding community. By having this shared activity, something that each Girl Guide can participate in across the country, it means that no matter where they’re from, these girls have something in common.

And what better way is there to get to know your fellow Guides than by talking about cookies? Preferably over a campfire!

Nurturing Responsibility

Responsibility is something that grows from experience. As adult Guiders, we give Guides the opportunity to achieve a clear goal and we rely on them to contribute to their Guiding community.

The benefit is tangible (funds for the unit and greater organization), and the experience of being responsible for that positive impact is so very valuable.

By giving back something meaningful to their community, Guides can be proud of their actions. They can continue forward knowing they’re a contributing member of that community.

…assuming, of course, their parents don’t sell their cookies for them.

Because that doesn’t happen, right? (Yes, I’m talking to you, Guide parents…).

As a non-profit, all of the “profits” go right back into Girl Guides programming

At the unit level (where the girls actually meet), we keep a fair portion of the funds raised to put it right into our unit’s activities. Camp gear, craft supplies, the cost of outings, most of it is covered by cookie money.

Beyond the unit, there are also funds that go toward the district, area, provincial, and national regions. Each region provides valuable support for the unit, making sure this volunteer-run organization can continue to offer programming that’s meaningful for each of the girls.

Extra funds help support those who can’t afford it

Not everyone can afford camp expenses. Fundraising by selling cookies helps support those in our community who might otherwise be left behind. Girl Guides is about inclusion, so this is a great way to ensure no one is excluded based on income.

How you can help

The next time a Girl Guide (or Spark, Brownie, Pathfinder or Ranger) show up on your doorstep, consider buying a box of cookies. It’ll help our future leaders grow more independent and confident.

You can also find out more about the Girl Guide Cookies program from the official Girl Guides of Canada website.

You know what else? Cookies are pretty tasty. They just might be the best five bucks you’ll spend all week!

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10-Minute Pizza Toast

Pizza is the best! Pizza-Toast is a close second…

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Pizza has got to be one of the most universally loved foods. No matter what you like, there’s something for you: everything from meat-lovers heaven to vegan-approved artichoke and bean-curd “cheeze”.

Unfortunately, making “real” pizza takes planning to make sure you have the right dough and toppings. But when you’ve forgotten the slow-cooker and have 15 minutes before you have to be out the door again, you need something, anything that won’t elicit grumbles and disagreement from the family.

Hence 10-minute Pizza Toast.

Pizza Toast can be made from pretty much anything you have in the fridge. At a minimum you need sauce, bread and cheese, but anything else can add some variety (turkey pepperoni and mushrooms are a great combo, as are olives and sweet peppers).

10-Minute Pizza Toast Recipe

Make as few or as many as you need all at once. For an adult or teenager, 2 slices, for younger kids 1 slice should do.

Ingredients

  • 1 slice Bread
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Cheese
  • Toppings, for example:
    • Olives, red peppers and feta cheese
    • Pepperoni and mushrooms
    • Hot peppers, sweet peppers and olives
    • Just plain cheese

Tools

  • Oven or Toaster oven
  • Baking tray and Spatula

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350F. This makes sure the cheese melts quickly.

  2. Place your bread on the baking sheet.

  3. Add 2 Tablespoons of tomato sauce per slice.

  4. Add your toppings, but don’t overload the bread. You should still be able to see the sauce. Get the family involved, have them make their own. Good combinations include: olives and sweet peppers; pepperoni and mushrooms.

  5. Add the cheese, making sure to spread it out. If you don’t have any other toppings, add another Tablespoon of cheese.

  6. Bake for 5 minutes on 350F, or until the cheese melts.

  7. Serve immediately. Slice them diagonally for a more “pizza” feel.

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Meal Planning – April 2016

Thirty days have November, April, June and September…. So I only have 4 weeks of meal planning to prepare for April. Good!

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March is complete, with another five whole weeks of meal planning under my belt. Two working parents somehow made twenty-five home-cooked work-night meals. No fish-fingers. No KD. All homemade.

I’m also happy to report that – finally – I’ve succeeded in staying under my weekly budget – by $2 for a whole month – but still, I was under budget. This was thanks in no small part by Gord’s gracious sacrifice of eggs. That’s right, we ran out, and I was too close to my goal to let him have a yummy breakfast.

I’m mean like that.

But it worked.

In terms of time, I have to say, top-loading the meal plan has really lifted some stress from the weekend chores. It does take me an hour or two to complete at the beginning of the month, but once that one-time chore is finished, I only have to follow through. Shopping list, prep tasks, what to cook… they’re all ready, just waiting the month to progress.

With that insight, I think I’m ready for another month. This one’s only 4 weeks long, so *phewf* there’s that much less to prepare.

Learning from last month’s experience, I’m also going to split my shopping into two deliberate trips this month. The “must-have” staples for the beginning of the month, and a booster in the middle.

I have a feeling that by breaking it up this way, I may realize I didn’t really need that bottle of vanilla or that bag of chocolate chips after all. Rather than having to guess if a quarter-bottle of vanilla will do me for a month, I can simply wait until the mid-month shopping top-up to decide.

Plus if we run out of eggs again, Gord’s going to go on strike. I don’t think I could handle getting up early enough to make breakfast…

So yeah… onto this month’s meal planning.

First, I’m using my meal planning worksheet, which should help a lot! On we go!

#1: Identify your goals

I’m shifting focus this month. After two successful months of low-carb and meaty meals, I’m going back to weekday vegetarian, meaning my meal plan is all veggie, all the time! Otherwise, I’ve got similar goals to the last couple of months.

Let’s break it down. In April, I want to plan meals that…

  1. are healthy, except for a treat on “Fun” Friday. Gotta have the fun!

  2. are vegetarian during the week.

  3. include slow cooker meals Tuesday/Thursday to support out-of-the-house activities.

  4. are quick to prepare Mondays, because Mondays are already hard enough.

  5. stay on budget of $130 per week for a family of 3 in Newfoundland. This one’s tough, but I’ve done it two months in a row. Now for the trifecta!

  6. yield leftovers to make work lunches easier.

#2: List out recipes that help you achieve your goals

Vegetarian-focused meals are going to take a bit of creativity to keep from getting repetitive, so I see a lot of potential for more OhSheGlows . Let’s see what I can come up with:

  • Peanut butter soup – This one tops the list because of how much my toddler loves it. It can be found in the OhSheGlows cookbook.

  • Tacos / Taco Salad / Taco Soup – Spread ’em out and they’ll be tasty taco oasises oasees oases throughout the month.

  • Santa Fe Rice and Beans – This is one of my favourite meals, which disappeared during my “low carb” meal plans. It’s back for a visit. Yum!

  • Curry / Veggie Butter Chicken – Curry still hasn’t lost its appeal. I’m going for the family fave Butter “Chicken” as well as a potato-based Pakistani curry.

  • Pizza – This has “Fun Friday” written all over it!

  • Cauliflower “Wings with Mac & Cheese – More “Fun Friday” potential.

  • Veggie Shepherd’s Pie – OhSheGlows strikes again. A hearty vegetarian meal that’s as satisfying as the real thing.

  • Broccoli Quinoa Cashew-cheese burrito bowls – While the recipe calls for “wraps”, I enjoy them as a casserole. This recipe is the best combination of nutty, cheesy, chewy-yet-crunchy and hearty. This has OhSheGlows written all over it…

  • Veggie Burgers with Tahini Mayo – Yes, another OhSheGlows recipe, both the burgers and the mayo. What can I say, I’m a glutton for, well, good food…

  • Celebration Squash Soup – Depending on the price of squash, this may show up in the rotation.

  • Spaghetti Squash and tomato sauce – Another “depends on the price” meal. Spaghetti squash is delicious, healthy and easy to make, but if it’s not in stores for a reasonable price, I’m going to skip it.

  • Spaghetti – This classic is always in style.

  • Potato Corn Chowder – A different flavour from some of the other recipes, this should help add variety.

  • Pass the Peas Stir Fry – Easy-peasy! (I’m so horrible with the puns)

  • Pasta Alfredo with Broccoli – Easy, quick, yum!

  • Tuna Salad – I was going to list this one, but it’s Tuna. Tuna’s not a vegetable (depending on who you ask). Off the list!

That’s a good variety, so we shouldn’t get bored of the leftovers. Because there will be leftovers.

#3: List each day and assign a recipe to each day

I’ll start with the taco meals, because I don’t want them to be on the same week. While I’m at it, I’ll fill in the slow-cooker-compatible meals.

April 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
4Taco Salad 7Celebration Squash Soup (slow cooker)
28One Pot Pasta (slow cooker)

Good, now for Fun Fridays…

April 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
4Taco Salad 7Celebration Squash Soup (slow cooker)
28One Pot Pasta (slow cooker) 29Pasta Alfredo with Broccoli

…and fill in the gaps…

April 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
4Taco Salad 6Curry – Veggie Butter “Chicken” 7Celebration Squash Soup (slow cooker)
18Veggie Burgers with Tahnini Mayo (with side veggies)
25Pass the Peas stir-fry 28One Pot Pasta (slow cooker) 29Pasta Alfredo with Broccoli

#4: Plan to Plan

Using my handy worksheet I can quickly work out my prep tasks for each week:

Prep tasks and tally
Week 1
Task or food itemTally for the weekComplete on…
Sweet Potato – diced2Sunday
Black beans – soaked and cooked1Saturday
Chickpeas – soaked and cooked1Saturday
Bread – bake it!1Sunday
Onion – diced4Sunday
Sweet Pepper – diced4Sunday
Butternut Squash – chunks1Sunday
Carrots – chunks3Sunday
Carrots – sticks3Sunday
Carrots – shredded2Sunday
Mushrooms – sliced portions2Wednesday
Week 2
Task or food itemTally for the weekComplete on…
Potatoes – diced7Sunday
Onion – diced5Sunday
Mushroom – sliced portions5Sunday
Sweet Pepper – diced5Sunday
Sweet Potato – diced1Sunday
Black beans – soaked and cooked2Saturday
Week 3
Task or food itemTally for the weekComplete on…
Black beans – soaked and cooked3Saturday
Onion – diced4Sunday
Sweet Pepper – diced4Sunday
Sweet Potato – diced2Sunday
Potato – diced3Sunday
Carrot sticks5Sunday
Carrot – grated3Sunday
Week 4
Task or food itemTally for the weekComplete on…
Onion – diced5Sunday
Peppers – diced4Sunday
Cauliflower – diced1Sunday
Mushrooms – sliced portions3Sunday
Sweet Potato – diced1Sunday
Cashews – soak a portion1Tuesday night

#5: Prepare a shopping list

Based on my worksheet pantry checklist, I have a full list of items, plus the fresh produce from my prep list above. Now that I have my list, I can go shopping. My rough estimate puts me well under budget and on track for a second shopping trip in a couple of weeks.

I’ll update once I get back from the store on the weekend…

So, to recap:

Meal Planning for the month of April, 2016

  • Identify your goals. In April, I need meals that:

    1. are healthy, except for a treat on “Fun” Friday.

    2. are vegetarian during the week.

    3. include slow cooker meals Tuesday/Thursday.

    4. are quick to prepare Mondays.

    5. stay on budget of $130 per week for a family of 3 in Newfoundland.

    6. produce leftovers to make work lunches easier.

  • Find recipes that work with your goals (shown in the calendar below).

  • Assign recipes to a day (summarized in the calendar below).

  • Plan to plan. and identify anything that can be done in advance to make work nights easier.

  • Prepare a shopping list that you’ll stick to when you go shopping

April 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
4Taco Salad 6Curry – Veggie Butter “Chicken” 7Celebration Squash Soup (slow cooker)
18Veggie Burgers with Tahnini Mayo (with side veggies)
25Pass the Peas stir-fry 28One Pot Pasta (slow cooker) 29Pasta Alfredo with Broccoli
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Naan Bread

Na-na-na-na-naan Bread!

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Bread is one of those things that’s found in pretty much every culture. One of my favourite non-loaf varieties is Indian naan bread. Naan is a flat bread that’s perfect for picking up curry veggies or for soaking up that last drop of delicious curry sauce.

We make a lot of curries in my home (as you can probably tell by its regular appearance in my meal plans), so naan bread is always in high demand. While a full-time job means I can’t make this during the work-week, when I get the chance to make naan bread on the weekend, my family loves the treat!

You may notice that the basic process for making naan bread dough is similar to making regular ol’ bread dough. The main difference is that naan bread has a bit more milk powder in it, giving it a slightly different flavour than if you just cook regular dough.

However, because of how naan bread is cooked, you can use regular bread dough in a pinch. If you do, just make sure to add a bit more butter to the pan, and you can make up for a bit of that missing flavour.

Naan Bread Dough Recipe

Ingredients

  • 250 grams flour plus extra for dusting
  • 3/4 cups warm water
  • 1+1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1/2 of an 8-gram pack)
  • 1 teaspoons + 1+1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1+1/2 teaspoons oil or butter
  • 5 Tablespoons skim milk powder
  • butter for the pan.

Tools

  • Mixing bowl and wooden spoon (or stand mixer)
  • Large flat surface for kneading and rolling the dough
  • Rolling pin
  • heavy-bottomed frying pan or large cookie sheet

Directions – Dough only

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  1. Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in 3/4 cup hot tap water. Set aside for 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. It should be foaming after a few minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, sift the flour, remaining sugar, salt and skim milk powder into a mixing bowl. Stir it together so the dry ingredients are mixed evenly.

  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour the liquid ingredients – the yeast mixture and oil.

  4. Mix until there are no dry spots. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough is too dry.

  5. Knead for 10 minutes.

  6. Set aside for about an hour in a bowl covered with a damp tea-towel. It should be about double in size after an hour.

  7. Knead the dough again for just long enough to work out any air bubbles.

  8. At this point, you can freeze for later use, or you can make naan bread immediately either on the stove or in the oven.

Directions (The Easy Way) – Oven-baked Naan bread

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  1. Preheat the oven to 450F, with the baking sheet in the oven. You want the baking sheet hot.

  2. While the oven is heating, separate the dough into 4 balls. Hand-squish them and pull until they’re more-or-less flat, about 1/4″ thick.

  3. When the oven is heated, slap two “loaves” of naan bread onto the pan and put it in the oven. It should sizzle.

    2016-03_naan-bread-alt4
  4. Bake for 4 minutes, flip, then bake for 2-3 more minutes. You’re going for golden-brown on each side.

  5. Cover with a dry tea-towel until ready to serve

Directions (The Hard Way) – Stove-top Naan bread

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  1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan such as a cast-iron skillet. Add a small amount of butter and make sure it coats the pan evenly.

  2. While the pan is heating, separate the dough into balls about 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and flatten them out so they’re about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick. Do this one at a time, while the previous one is cooking.

  3. When the pan is heated place a naan “loaf” into the pan and cook until the dough rises a bit, about 2-3 minutes. Flip it over and cook for another few minutes until both sides are a nice golden-brown.

  4. Place cooked naan bread on a plate and cover with a cloth or napkin while the rest are being cooked. Add more butter to the pan as it dries up, and repeat until you have all the naan bread you need. You may have some leftover dough, which you can freeze for later, if desired.

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Food Alphabet: 26-Pages of Colouring Sheets

A is for Apple, F is for Fish, X inside flax and all are delish!

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Within this PDF are 26 pages of food-based alphabet fun. Each food word corresponds to a letter of the alphabet, each with a fun colour-able food illustration, all made by yours-truly.

Easy-to-remember classics like “A for Apple” and “B for Banana” are mixed with new favourites like “U for Udon Noodles” and “X in flax”. Each illustration is carefully crafted to thematically link with the others, sharing line weights and a similar wabi-sabi asymmetry.

Not that it matters when little crayons go to town, and lines become suggestion-only…

May these pages bring you joy, and many moments of creative fun!

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Slow Cooker Chicken Soup Five Ways

Five ways to enjoy that classic Chicken Soup… with a twist!

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I love chicken soup, and what’s not to love? It’s healthy, curing anything that ails you (so long as what ails you is a cold). It’s comfort food. It’s so easy to throw together in the slow cooker.

Not to mention, my toddler always asks for “more sauce” – something that always lets me sigh in relief. A toddler can never eat too much nutritious food.

Yup, chicken soup great.

The varieties I’ve shared with you below are my five favourite varieties, and while my directions are for a slow cooker, you could adapt this to a stove-top quite easily.

The varieties I’ve chosen are ones that I use in my meal plans:

  • Jiggs Dinner Chicken Soup

  • Mushroom Pepper Chicken Soup

  • Broccoli Potato Chicken Soup

  • Mexican Corn Chicken Soup

  • Tex-Mex Tomato Chicken Soup

Jiggs Dinner Chicken Soup was inspired by Newfoundland Sunday Dinner. Cooked root veggies, plus a dash of Mt. Scio Savoury give this a bit of that sunday dinner flavour, without all the gravy.

Side note: for those of you not from Newfoundland, yes, it’s actually “Savoury” and not “a seasoning which is savoury instead of sweet”. We use it like mainlanders use sage. Because it’s better. There ya go.

Mushroom Pepper Chicken Soup was inspired by my refrigerator. Yes, that’s right, I only had mushrooms and peppers to go with my chicken one day, so that’s what I made. And it was good. So it got put into the meal plan on regular rotation.

Broccoli Potato Chicken Soup was created when I got tired of the same-old same-old. This creamy soup features Broccoli prominently, and the potato and chicken back it up. The secret weapon that makes this so amazing is that ubiquitous vegan delight, nutritional yeast. While this recipe isn’t vegetarian, it’s actually surprisingly improved by nutritional yeast.

Mexican Corn Chicken Soup was inspired by Mexican corn chowder, and while my version is not creamy, it’s still got that tasty Tex-Mex flare that I love. Don’t tell anyone, but I only stumbled across this version because I ran out of cream of chicken soup when I was trying to make Mexican corn chowder. I mean, totally meant to do that… *shifty eyes*.

Tex-Mex Tomato Chicken Soup is another “oops, I don’t have enough ingredients” sort of recipe. What got thrown in the pot smells a lot like chili, and the soup itself definitely has a bit of a tasty kick. The secret to this one is chipotle chili powder, which gives it a slightly different flavour from the Mexican Corn version.

Now that you’re acquainted, here’s how you make the soup:

Chicken Soup 5 Ways Recipe

Ingredients – All varieties

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 stalks diced celery
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Litre chicken broth
  • Salt, to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon, or two light dustings)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin

Ingredients – Jiggs Dinner Chicken Soup

2016-03_slow-cooker-chicken-soup-four-ways-2
  • “All Varieties” ingredients above
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 small turnip, diced
  • 2 small potatoes, diced
  • Seasoning:
    • 2 Tablespoons summer savoury
    • Pepper, to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon, or one light dusting)

Ingredients – Mushroom Pepper Chicken Soup

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  • “All Varieties” ingredients above
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 1+1/2 large peppers, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced (optional – adds a bit of a spicy kick)
  • Seasoning:
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional – also adds spiciness)

Ingredients – Broccoli Potato Chicken Soup

  • “All Varieties” ingredients above
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, in chunks
  • 2 small potatoes, diced
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • Seasoning:
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Ingredients – Mexican Corn Chicken Soup

  • “All Varieties” ingredients above
  • 1+1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 large red pepper
  • Seasoning:
    • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon thyme

Ingredients – Tex-Mex Tomato Chicken Soup

2016-03_slow-cooker-chicken-soup-four-ways-3
  • “All Varieties” ingredients above
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes (about a Litre)
  • 1/2 large red pepper
  • Seasoning:
    • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon Chipotle chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon thyme

Tools

  • Slow cooker
  • Knife and cutting board

Directions

The directions below apply to all varieties, except where noted. It’s the same process, just different ingredients.

  1. Season your chicken breast and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker. Drizzle with oil. Make sure all the seasonings dust both sides of the chicken.

    It’s important that the chicken be on the bottom, as this makes sure it’s completely cooked quickly, avoiding food safety issues.

  2. Add the diced onion and celery.

  3. Add the rest of the veggies in layers, dusting with salt, as desired.

  4. Add the broth and cream-of-chicken soup (if applicable). If you’re using a low-sodium broth, make sure to add a bit more salt to the veggies before you add the broth.

  5. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 3 hours.

And there you have it! Five ways to make chicken soup in a slow cooker, each with their own unique twist.

So, what’s your favourite chicken soup variety? Share them in the comments below!

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