family dinner


I thought I took a pic of at least one of these meals but… I did not.

Sunday: garlic parmesan chicken with potatoes and salad This was Gwen’s request. When Taylor and I were meal planning she asked for “the chicken we always have,” which is true because I make this OFTEN. I make a couple changes to this recipe, as follows:
-I leave out the spinach, as no one likes it but Taylor and myself and it’s easier just to skip it as I don’t find that it really adds much to the dish.
-I pre-boil the potatoes because otherwise I find that they don’t cook enough in the time it takes the chicken to cook. Nothing more disappointing than hard, uncooked potatoes.
-I leave out SO much butter. The recipe calls for 7 tablespoons and this week I used… one. I cooked the chicken in just one and found that when it was time to make the sauce in the same pan, between the leftover butter and the chicken fat there was enough fat in the pan to sauté the garlic and make the roux. I could have MAYBE added like… 1/2 a tablespoon, but that’s it.

Monday: NOTHING We had a very late drive-thru lunch on our way home from snow tubing so no one was really hungry at dinner time. We gave the little kids some veggies just so they wouldn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night but no one else wanted to eat.

Tuesday: spaghetti with garlic toast I made the garlic toast using bread I baked myself! I tried making some bread the other week but it came out… weird. There were a couple of problems with it, not all entirely my own fault, but this second attempt (using a different recipe) came out so much better!

Wednesday: slow cooker sweet & sour pork over rice This was a new recipe for me; I tried another one last year when Gwen was doing gymnastics but I didn’t like it. This one was a little better but I feel like it had too much apple cider vinegar in it, which made it a little TOO sour. I added 2 extra tbsp of brown sugar to combat that but I think it would have been better solved by halving the amount of ACV in the first place.

Thursday: macaroni and cheese for the girls, leftover chicken & potatoes for me. Usually Taylor and I have takeout later after the kids ar ein bed but I was TOO HUNGRY to wait, haha.

Friday: pizza night This week’s pizzas: yellow pepper and basil, and pepperoni. I wanted to put the leftover mac & cheese on the pepperoni one but my unadventurous family was like NO, ugh how rude!

four layer black forest cake

This week I got a real bee in my bonnet about making a Black Forest cake, so even though Gwen’s Lego Club was cancelled, so Sym wasn’t here AND I had to go to the school I whipped one up anyway. I wasn’t able to finish it before I left for the school (the layers hadn’t cooled enough), but Gwen loved helping me decorate it, although in the end she chose some Mini Eggs for her treat rather than cake.

I used my usual chocolate cake for this, and I didn’t have any whipping cream so I put buttercream on this instead (SORRY, GERMANS). Whipped cream on a cake really only works if you are eating it all in one sitting anyway, which we were not, so it was for the best. I used this recipe for the cherry filling, just halved because my cake was smaller; I baked four 5-inch layers for this. I actually meant to make five layers but I overfilled my pans and didn’t have enough batter for the fifth. The four layers proved to be a problem when I realized the cake wouldn’t fit under my cake dome, but after Taylor and I cut a couple slices the whole thing fell over on its side (OOPS) so like… problem solved.

family dinner

Sunday: rainbow tortellini with 3 1/2 pepper sauce and oakleaf lettuce salad This dinner was a bit of a goof. When we were at the grocery store I was like “WOW I CAN’T BELIEVE I DON’T NEED TO BUY ANY ONIONS THIS WEEK” but I did need one, for the pasta sauce I was planning on making that night. Oops! Luckily I had some of the previous week’s seven pepper sauce in the freezer so I added it for a little extra flavour. It was just ok though, so next time I really need to do better!

Monday: brown butter, garlic & sage porkchops with roasted broccoli and mashed potatoes Nicky really likes broccoli but it’s so messy for a baby to eat (all those little flower buds!) so my trick is this: I peel the stems and cut them into sticks to make broccoli “fries” for him! It works like a charm and reduces food waste as well. I use this recipe for pork chops that my whole family LOVES.

Tuesday: almond chicken with roasted purple cauliflower and honey glazed carrots I realized partway through that I’d used this chicken recipe before, with LIMITED success. I just don’t understand how… to stop all the breadcrumbs from sloughing off when you do the second dip into the egg mixture? Anyway this was redemption night for roasted cauliflower, I reduced the cooking temp AND time and it turned out perfectly. I also made cauliflower fries for Nicky that were another hit.

Wednesday: Slow cooker Mongolian beef over rice I’ve made this a few times and the first time it was perfect but each subsequent time the sauce hasn’t thickened up enough! I need to figure out what I am doing wrong because when this turns out well, it turns out REALLY well. This time I also left out the shredded carrots because I was worried they were giving Nicky tummy distress*

Thursday: leftovers extravaganza! We had a lot of leftovers from dinners I made earlier in the week so I let the little kids each pick what they wanted. Ok, I picked for Nicky but I know what he’s into, so he had some porkchops, Mongolian beef, cauliflower and rice, and Gwen had chicken, mashed potatoes and carrots.

Friday: pizza night This week I made two pizzas, both with cocoa tomatoes, bell pepper and basil, but the second one I also added some cream cheese (leftover from making cream cheese icing for the cinnamon rolls). I know that sounds weird, and Sym was appalled, but it worked! I cut it into little slices but I feel like I should have rolled the slices into balls and smushed them for a better ~look~. Anyway both pizzas were good but I didn’t make enough dough to make two larges so the thin crusts were a little TOO thin. We also had a microgreen salad.

*Nicky had some gnarly diapers last week after we had a meal with carrots, and again after the glazed carrots on Tuesday. However Taylor and I also felt a little sick this week so I’m not sure if carrots don’t agree with Nicky or if we were a little food poisoned and it just hit Nicky harder because he’s little and also he could have eaten whatever made us sick twice due to the leftovers extravaganza. I’m not sure though, because neither Sym or Gwen was sick at all. In any case we composted all the leftover leftovers and I’m going to hold off on giving Nicky carrots for a while.

spring is springing


this famous Skinnytaste bagels


Nicky’s fave lunch right now: peanut butter sandwiches cut into “coins”


it was my birthday this week


dolly slumber party

Spring is starting to happen outside, and inside I’m getting a little bee in my bonnet to do my version of spring cleaning, which mostly involves rearranging things. Right now I’m obsessed (OBSESSED) with turning my kitchen closet into a pantry, which means I’d have to move all the tools and brooms and cans of pant into what is currently my craft closet, and move all my craft supplies… where? What I really want to do is put proper storage in the hallway and have my craft supplies there. Unfortunately I can’t afford to buy a bunch of cabinetry at the moment but I also haven’t been doing much crafting so I might just put it all in some big Rubbermaid bins temporarily.

What else? I’m very keen to finish painting our bedroom, and to repaint the hallway which assaults my eyes daily with its grotesque yellow paint. I need to put up all the art I took down when I painted the living/dining room as well as some in the little kids’ room. Speaking of the little kids’ room, last weekend I finally mostly finished sorting out and organizing the toys, which had been in a messy jumble since we had the floors done (last spring…). I need to get some storage for under Gwen’s bed to sort out the last of it still but it’s already much better.

I’ve lost track of how many teeth Nicky has now. They keep popping through in batches, and he’s been miserable, but I think he’s very very close to being done? The four dreaded molars he’s been working on since he turned one (FOUR MONTHS AGO) have mostly popped out (at last check he had three) and in the meantime his canines have appeared as well. This means he’s started sleeping through the night again (occasionally) so Gwen is sleeping through the night in her own bed (occasionally). Of course nights like that (of which last night was one) mean we have mornings like I did today, when they both wake up much earlier than normal. Nicky hollered me out of bed at 6:15 and when I brought him out to the living room I found Gwen already there, watching Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron.

Tomorrow is another early morning, as I have the second of three spine injections at the pain clinic out in the suburbs at 7:10am. I’m definitely not looking forward to it but best to get it out of the way and have the rest of my (long) weekend free!

cinnamon rolls

Today for post-Lego Club treat I made Sym and Gwen cinnamon buns. I love them but YIKES if they aren’t a lot of work (the buns, not the children…). I’ve used this recipe before but always refrigerated them unbaked overnight and finished them in the morning, so this was my first time making them straight through. Even with the 2 rises it basically ate up my entire afternoon. It was alllllll worth it though, because they really are the best.

family dinner

It’s back!

I think every year I decide to try and make a conscious effort to make meal plans and grocery shop for those meal plans and make the meals I’ve planned and not waste food. It’s something that I hate doing and usually I’ll do an alright job for a few months and then everything will fall off the rails because I’m tired or busy or depressed and then it’s back to eating pasta three times a week. It also doesn’t help that kids are so weirdly picky and it can be discouraging to slave over some meal only to be confronted by several variations of “Calvin-face.” And I never know what will be a hit; for example this week Nicky went wild for the white chicken chili but Gwen wouldn’t even try it, and the next night Gwen devoured her entire serving of bacon & cheddar quiche and Nicky threw all of his on the floor.

But you soldier on, and over the past year or so (lol this has taken a long time ok) I’ve started to get better at cooking and DARE I SAY even found satisfaction and enjoyment in it. And I think that is reflected in the quality and variety of the meals I’m making, which in turn leads to my kids actually eating and enjoying them. I’ve had some real flops and missteps along the way but I feel good about the progress I’ve made and continue to make.

Historically I’ve posted my meal plans in advance but for some reason when I did that I never actually made what I’d planned out? I don’t know why. So going forward I’m going to share what I made the week previous so I can discuss what worked, what flopped and what was an unmitigated disaster.

Sunday: grilled steak, baked potatoes and roasted purple cauliflower What can I say, I’m a sucker for purple vegetables! I basically used this recipe (I was short on time and thyme so I left out the latter and skipped the onion) BUT I feel like this cooking time was WAY too long? After 35 minutes my cauliflower was definitely overdone, like I think 20 minutes before adding the parmesan would have been more than sufficient. I never seem to have very good luck with recipes from Epicurious, but I think I would try this one agin, with all the ingredients and just a shorter cooking time.

Monday: fettuccine with seven pepper sauce I hadn’t made any fresh pasta since last summer and I couldn’t remember what recipe I used then so I tried a new one but it didn’t really work for me. I think the proportions were off somehow, so the dough was too soft or something? When I rolled it out as thin as I wanted it the noodles wouldn’t cut all the way through in my machine. I had to re-roll it more thickly and even then I had to hand-cut a lot of these. The sauce was amazing though; just the simple Marcela Hazan tomato sauce with seven roasted peppers added. You could use fewer roasted peppers but like… why would you want to???

Tuesday: white chicken chili I actually made this from a soup mix that had the white beans and a very generously sized seasoning packet. The instructions called for 5 cups of water, a diced onion, 1 1/2lbs of chicken breast, and 7oz of mild green chilies but I was worried it would be a little boring so I made a couple changes. I replaced 1 cup of water with low-sodium chicken stock and added 1 cup of corn, a handful of frozen greens (it’s a mix of kale, chard and spinach I keep for smoothies and I MOSTLY added it for visual interest), and a teaspoon of smoked salt. I wish I’d had some green bell peppers to add as well but overall this was great!

Wednesday: bacon & cheddar quiche this was good but I didn’t make enough! I’d wanted to make my own crust from scratch but the grocery store by my house had delivery issues this week and ran out of butter! So I had to use a premade crust that was too small. I also meant to pick up some microgreens to make a side salad to go with this but I was out with all the little kids and it was pouring with rain and I was so focussed on getting home that I… forgot. TERRIBLE. But yeah, this was just a basic quiche with cooked bacon, shredded cheddar cheese and a lil green onion. With the salad it would have been a perfect meal.

Thursday: Annie’s bunny pasta with cheese On Thursdays Taylor and I eat takeout later, without the kids, so we usually let Gwen pick what she wants for dinner, which is usually some kinda macaroni and cheese.

Friday: pizza night! Making homemade pizza from scratch on Friday nights is something I started doing a few months ago. I use this recipe for the crust and bake it in a cast iron pan as per these instructions, and it always turns out great! This time I actually made three different sized pizzas in three different cast irons:
• large with carmellized shallots, yellow pepper, cocoa tomatoes and fresh basil
• medium with carmellized shallots and pepperoni
• small with carmellized shallots, pepperoni and cocoa tomatoes
These were all good but imo the vegetarian one was the best! I’m still on the hunt for a good sauce recipe (right now I’m using a bottled one) so if you have any recommendations let me know!

contentedness

the busiest body

I’ve been taking medication for my degenerative disc disease for a week now and it’s honestly amazing how much of a difference it’s made already. It’s such a relief to get up in the morning and be able to just… get up. Easily, and with (almost) no pain. It’s incredible! I have an appointment to see the pain management specialist on Saturday afternoon for an information session, after which I can get a steroid injection into the ol’spine right away if I choose (I probably will choose).

On Monday Gwen was off school, and I serendipitously had a surprise day off work. I absolutely relish these opportunities to spend a weekday just me & the kids; it’s no secret that my dream would be to trade my work-at-home-mom life for a stay-at-home-mom one, so any chance to pretend that’s the case is a treat. We didn’t do anything special, just ran a few errands before lunch and then had a lazy afternoon at home. Nicky napped, I made fresh pasta, and Gwen took a long-overdue bath. It was exactly the day I wanted.

Days like that used to make me feel sort of desperate and sad, like it doesn’t happen often so I would always know it was just a one off, but somehow it doesn’t feel like that anymore. I’m feeling satisfied and at peace with work, something that pretty much corresponds exactly with how many kids I’m looking after who scream all day (which right now is zero). So while I still dream of being able to quit my job and focus solely on my own kids, working feels a little less like work lately, and a lot more like fun ❤️

let them eat cake

Gwen has Lego club after school on Thursdays, and since I can’t pick her up (I need to be home for the daycare kids’ pick ups) Symphony walks her up the hill. Sym goes to her dad’s on Thursdays so it’s not exactly convenient for her, and after such a long day Gwen is pretty tired and grumpy. Because I don’t have to go to the school it leaves me more time to do things around the house, and what better way to spend it than baking a treat for the girls when they get here? I’m hoping to make something every week but I’m notoriously flaky so we’ll see how it goes.

This week I made a peach sour cream coffee cake, adapted from this recipe. I just substituted the cup of raspberries with a cup of peaches cut into raspberry-sized pieces. I added 1 tbsp of whole milk to the batter because it was SO dry and thick I knew I wouldn’t be able to spread it out in the pan properly, and 3 drops of white food colouring to the icing because the vanilla made it a little too similar to the colour of the cake & almonds and I wanted some contrast!

I chose this cake because it is topped with sliced almonds I’m on a quest to use them in as many ways as possible. A few months ago I was at the grocery store and for some reason I needed sliced almonds. They happened to be on sale but some of them were marked incorrectly and it took three different store employees to figure out which almonds were what price. As a thank you to me for not being rude about it they insisted I take a large-size bag of almonds for free, so now I’ve got almost half a kilogram of them. I never made whatever it was I’d wanted them for in the first place, and now I’ve completely forgotten what it was, so every time I open the cupboard this unopened bag of sliced almonds was just sitting there taunting me. This cake only used 1/4 cup so any suggestions for sliced almond heavy recipes would be much appreciated!