menu planning

Added on: Sunday, January 24th, 2010

I’m sad to say that with the advent of yoyomama and yoyobelly I just don’t get to focus as much time here as I would  like to! But as I was working on our weekly menu plan as the girls played their weird (as in oddly creative) hybrid Mary Poppins/Cinderella game this morning and my DH was enjoying a bit of a sleep in, I thought why not share it here. After all, making the grocery list is easy once you’ve got the meals planned out.  So here it goes, and I hope to do this weekly from now on in hopes of saving someone else a little time. Admittedly this takes into account planning around all our different schedules and days we have more time to cook (or not), our spud delivery and more.

And just so you don’t wonder what kind of children I have and why they eat this variety of food, I have shared or predicted what they will eat. I do live in hope that continually exposing them to new foods will eventually expand their palates.

Sunday: Parmesan Chicken from Whining & Dining. Here are a few of their other recipes, alas I can’t find their Parmesan Chicken one online. We had it with roast potatoes and broccoli. And all the kids ate was broccoli and roast potatoes.

Monday: Baked ham with scalloped potatoes made in the slow cooker thanks to Canadian Living: The Slow Cooker Collection which we’re using all the time these days. I haven’t made this recipe before but ham and cheesy potatoes sounds so good. I just bake the ham and baste it with a mix of Orange Juice, brown sugar and mustard. I’m seriously in love with our slow cooker these days and using it all the time. L will eat ham and will try the potatoes. M, I’m not sure. Broccoli probably. Hmm…I’d better lay on some bread and olive oil for her, which are, after hummus, her fave default.

Tuesday: Whole Wheat Quesadillas with Mushrooms and Guacamole. I have a wicked guacamole recipe in the book (in includes yogurt and tomatoes) and I found this recipe in a magazine. M will eat plan cheese quesadillas with hummus and L will eat mushroom quesadillas with cut up avocado. No guac.

Wednesday: Pork Tenderloin (seriously the easiest meal to make EVER!) with roasted potatoes and green beans. Basically you marinade the pork for about an hour in a mix of balsamic vinegar, mustard and honey, cook it for about half an hour and then make a gravy or reduction. So yummy. M will eat roast potatoes and green beans. L will eat pork. And that’s it.

** update: here’s the pork tenderloin recipe from my mum:

  • 1 TBSP each Honey, Grainy Mustard, Balsamic Vinegar & Olive Oil
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Rub all over tenderloin and put in fridge for at least two hours or all day. Turn once or twice if you remember (editor’s note: I never remember & just baste it before I put it in the oven)
  2. Roast in 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, turn at least once. Time will depend on size of tenderloin (editor’s note:  I rely solely upon my meat thermometer set at medium for pork to tell me when it’s done, not being a fan of rare pork.)

Thursday: Halibut with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette. Love this recipe and just rediscovered it when I was trying to find an apple pancake recipe for breakfast today. Best of all it’s from Epicurious so I can share it with you! I always forget how much easier it is to just make fish straight up rather than fiddling about with a recipe like Halibut Pot Pie, although HPP is so delicious! We’ll have it with rice and green beans and I know the girls will eat rice. And maybe green beans. Next week I’ll include more of their fave recipes just so you don’t think my kids exist on carbs and veggies…

Friday: Boeuf Bourguinon, again from the Canadian Living Slow Cooker Collection but this time I found the recipe online in case you want to check it out. I haven’t tried it before but I watched Julie & Julia last night so I’m inspired. I’m going to try it with parsley buttered noodles like the blogger suggests (that’s my one beef about the collection, they don’t often offer up what sides and starches to serve meals with which I find very helpful, specially if I haven’t made something before). As for the kids. Well I know they’ll eat buttered noodles. I hope.

the best oatmeal cookies

Added on: Sunday, June 14th, 2009

I have to confess I buy Vogue Magazine. Not for the pictures, but for the articles. Wait. Where have I heard that before?

Actually it’s mainly because I love Jeffrey Steingarten’s food column. And in this month’s issue (with Cameron Diaz on the cover) he writes about “the unforgettable taste of brown butter.” Just reading the article made my mouth water and want melted butter. The article included recipes as well, including one for what he calls “the best oatmeal cookies”. I couldn’t resist trying it out and they are SO yummy. Not healthy. No breastfeeding friendly necessarily. But really, really good, and not like any others you’ve had lately. They’re not the kind packed with nuts and seeds, or tough and tasteless. Instead their thin, crispy, crumbly and buttery. Mmmm…

The recipe – with a few small changes – is below:


  • 1 cup very soft, room-temperature butter (for baking unsalted butter is always best as it has less water content)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups uncooked instant oatmeal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (low-protein if possible. I have no idea what this meant and as I’d already splurged and bought instant oatmeal I didn’t want to buy special flour as well, so just used whatever regular all-purpose flour we had on hand and it seemed to work fine.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. The recipe had no temperature so I just took a guess. If you have any suggestions let me know.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar using a wooden spoon, not a mixer.
  • In another bowl combine the oatmeal, baking soda, salt and flour.
  • Still using the wooden spoon, mix the dry ingredients into the sugar and butter mixture. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper – we didn’t have any so I just buttered the baking sheet. With your fingers, shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Place them on the baking sheet 2 inches apart.
  • Dip your fingers into a bowl of cool water and flatten each ball so it’s about 1 cm thick. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are a pale, golden brown. Don’t keep cooking them if they look more anemic than you’re used it, they’re supposed to be “paleish” as far as cookies go. Let cool for a few minutes, then remove to a rack with a thin metal spatula and let cool completely.

Once these start baking the smell will make your mouth water and I’m guessing you’ll find them very hard to resist. We did!

The article also contains recipes for Khun Pao’s Thai Butter Cookies, Solidified Brown Butter, Nearly Fat-Free Brown-Butter Nuggets & Brown-Butter Ice Cream. Hmmm…testing all these is not good for my waistline or my budget, but my tastebuds are very, very happy!

I just made the best lunch: cold peanut noodles

Added on: Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

When you work at home lunch can be an odd meal. I generally don’t have much time, so I tend to hope there are leftovers or quickly cobble together a sandwich or graze on weird combos of whatever’s available. But today there wasn’t even any stale bread to toast, so I whipped up these yummy cold peanut noodles:

You need about two cups of cooked noodles. The original recipe that morphed into this recommended spaghetti noodles, but I prefer the kind of asian noodles you just pop into boiled water for about three minutes.

For the sauce combine 3 TBSP peanut butter (smooth or crunchy), 2 TBSP each soy sauce and rice wine vinegar and 2 tsp toasted sesame or peanut oil. The add 2 TBSP water and 1 TBSP orange juice and 1 clove of garlic, crushed. Mix it all together. At first it’ll just seem lumpy, but it’ll turn into a proper sauce pretty quickly.

And here’s the kicker, combine the noodles with some veggies: cooked broccoli florets; cucumber slices cut into half rounds (my personal fave); grated carrots; sliced bell peppers. Whatever you’ve got handy or strikes your fancy.

Then just pour the sauce on top, mix and enjoy.

I love this because it’s one dish, it’s yummy and it’s an easy way to get more veggies. Also, because M has some odd nut allergy we don’t eat food or meals with nuts in them en famille, but I do love nuts, so tend to indulge in them when I’m on my own.

fine dining

Added on: Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Have resolved to post my dinners (when they work out) if they may be a good resource for busy mums. Here’s my first go at it.

Now why I took so long to realize that roasts were easy is beyond me. My mum’s been telling me for years, but finally I succumbed to cook a roast that had been hiding in our freezer for years and yum! The only hard part about them is timing everything, making sure it gets in the oven early enough and – in our case – taking it out of the freezer soon enough so we’re not defrosting it in the microwave long after it should have been oven-b0und.

Tonight’s meal was pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes and roasted, curried cauliflower, a recipe I discovered in Kitchen Playdates, my new favourite cookbook, though not for playdates, just for life. The cauliflower was seriously the best cauliflower I’ve ever had. Usually we never have it as a veggie, or at best smothered in cheese sauce but this recipe was so good we’ll definitely be adding it to our repetoire.

The pork tenderloin is a recipe my mum gave us, here it goes:

  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic squashed or minced
  • salt & pepper to taste

Mix together and rub all over the tenderloin (we usually just do it in a plastic bag) and put in fridge for at least two hours. Turn it once or twice if you remember. We often don’t do this & just put rub/marinade on around when we put in the potatoes. It would probably taste better if we let it sit for a few hours, but it tastes good enough the way we cook it.

BBQ on medium heat for 25 – 35 minutes, turning twice OR roast in 400 degree oven for c. 30 minutes, with temperature gauge (we choose medium), turn at least once.

An addition I’ve made to my mum’s recipe is splashing some wine in with the tenderloin before we roast it and then putting the roasting pan over a burner once the meat’s out of the pan and bringing it to a simmer, scraping any bits off the bottom and adding a bit more wine or water from veggies like broccoli and making a reduction or turning it into gravy. Extra yum!

As for timing, we pop in the potatoes an hour before dinner’s planned. Then the roast half an hour beforehand, and the cauliflower about ten minutes after that and hey presto, it all comes out at roughly the same time. So if you’re home you can be entertaining your toddler with short kitchen breaks rather than mixing and stirring away in the kitchen.

Broccoli & Anchovy Orecchiette

Added on: Monday, April 14th, 2008

Well, I just found out there’s a little bit missing in the recipe instructions for this recipe from p. 128 of “the book”. Oops! As this is one of our kids’ favourite recipes and ours as well, I wanted to put a quick correction in here.

In step 3 you add the peeled & chopped broccoli stem to the garlic, anchovies, olive oil & chilies.

Thanks Heather for the heads up!

And did I mention this is so, so fast. Especially if you put the water for the pasta onto boil when you start all your chopping.

Recipe Updates

Added on: Monday, January 7th, 2008

So, someone is MUCH more of a foodie (and chef) than I scoffed at the Hummus recipe in the book because it didn’t contain lemon zest, which is apparently where all the flavour lies. So next time you make Tina’s Hummus from page. 110 of the book try adding some lemon zest, I’m going to…

And Andrew made the Salmon & Spinach Quiche (p. 154) and came up with the idea of layering salmon, cheese, spinach & cheese (as opposed to salmon, cheese and spinach as the recipe suggests) and I have to say, it tasted better.


Added on: Thursday, July 19th, 2007

GastropodGastrokid is a blog devoted to kids and eating in a witty, informative way, rather than a “my child loves arugula” way. Their most current post references the chef of one of my most used cookbooks, (see previous post) Mark Bittman with his recipes for quick & easy meals, how can that not be enticing? Check out their recipe for cupcakes using my favourite, Green & Black’s organic chocolate. If you’re into kids and eating you’ll want to cruise around Gastropod or add it to your RSS feed.

Garlic Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

Added on: Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

Here’s another tip to make cooking quicker – that’s the rub of writing a cookbook, tFarmer’s Market Organic Sweet Potato Pureehe recipes keep evolving as you do, but in the book they’re stuck in time.

Anyhow, I read this idea in Nutrition Action Magazine. Rather than spending time doing all the peeling, washing, baking, scooping and pureeing needed for Garlic Ginger Sweet Potato Soup (p. 158 of “the book”) buy your sweet potatoes pureed already. This will cut down a lot on the prep time & cooking time for this recipe. The recipe calls for six large sweet potatoes, I’d substitute about three 15 oz cans of puree.

Granted, you still need to roast the garlic and ginger, but that’s a snap compared to roasting (and pureeing) the potatoes.

Farmer’s Market Organic purees are great, and there’s no sugar added etc. I use their pumpkin puree for these great muffins from O Magazine (that aren’t the fastest muffins to make, but are super tasty): Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins

Andrew’s Spaghetti Sauce

Added on: Monday, June 11th, 2007

So, we (well, Andrew) whipped up a big batch of his spaghetti sauce (from p. 156 of “the book”) last night. It’s not usually a June staple, but we’ve had a cold, wet weekend and friends just had a baby, so we wanted to give them a batch for a night they just didn’t feel like, have time or energy for, or were too hungry to cook.

We also had a friend and her two little bookend boys for our little girls over as she’s been on her own a lot with the kids since her husband’s been super busy working. She thought the way we added more veggies to dinner was great, so I thought it was worth posting it here.

What we do is about three minutes before the noodles are cooked we throw in broccoli florets with the noodles – saving an extra cooking pot, and extra dishes for eating and cleaning up. Then we dish up the noodles with the broccoli in situ, and ladle sauce atop it all. For the littlest ones we chop up the noodles and the broccoli, and everyone’s happy.


Added on: Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Another great link with info on picky eaters: and also some good veggie recipes for kidlets and some sweet potato recipes (including muffins – which my kids love, though I haven’t tried this recipe in particular).