family dinner

Sunday: farfalle primavera Another of Gwen’s picks, I swear that kid would eat noodles for every meal if she could. She actually requested NO SAUCE but I was like… nope. I threw together a quick primavera with all the assorted leftover tomato sauces in my fridge & freezer, adding garlic, yellow & orange peppers, snow peas, broccoli and some Italian seasoning.

Monday: chicken with scalloped potato casserole I got this recipe from a cookbook I bought for my sister, here it is with my ~adaptations

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 chicken breasts
1 cup chopped bacon
2 lbs potatoes, cut into 1/4″ slices
2 large onions, sliced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, hot
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
green onions for garnish

1. Heat oven to 300°F. Heat half the butter and the oil in a large skillet and fry the chicken and bacon for 5 minutes, or until lightly brown.
2 Layer half the potato slices, the half the onion slices in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Season with salt, pepper and half the thyme, and dot with 1/3 tbsp of butter.
3. Add the chicken and bacon, season with salt and pepper to taste, and dot with 1/3 tbsp of butter. Cover with the remaining onions and finally a layer of potatoes, season with salt, pepper and the remaining thyme and dot with the remaining butter. Pour the hot chicken stock on top.
4. Cover and cook in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours until the chicken is tender and the potatoes are cooked, adding more hot stock if necessary.
5. Just before serving, sprinkle with freshly snipped green onions.

Tuesday: leftover chicken and scalloped potatoes Tonight’s meal was SUPPOSED to be chili with cornbread, but when I started cooking the meat it seemed… off. I’m very paranoid after maybe food poisoning us the other week so I scrapped it in favour of leftovers. There was actually a TON of Monday’s dinner left; the recipe made a huge amount of food and as it turned out, Taylor wasn’t home that night so it was just me & the little kids.

Wednesday: chili After getting new meat, I finally made the chili. We typically use this recipe, and it’s DELICIOUS. I was too lazy to make the cornbread though.

Thursday: scrambled eggs & toast This was just for the little kids as Taylor and I took Symphony to see Black Panther that night. Our dinner was movie theatre popcorn.

Friday: pizza I did NOT make this, Taylor ordered it while I went out for a Fun Mom Dinner with my friend Jill and some of the moms I see at the school everyday. So really I only cooked three meals last week? This week I am going to try to make all the dinners using just what I already have in the house (except for one main dish), so wish me luck!

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!

Pannuts (Pancake Donuts)

Pancakes x mini donuts: I’ve had this idea in my head for about a million years, and tbh I don’t know why I didn’t try it out sooner! It’s so easy, all you need is boxed pancake mix and a waffle iron-style mini donut maker and you, too, can make delicious, bite-sized pannuts! My whole family loved these, the little kids especially. The basic “recipe” and instructions are below, with copious notes as well.

Pannuts (Pancake Donuts)
yield: 30 mini pannuts

Ingredients:
– complete extra fluffy pancake mix
– water
– vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray
– powdered sugar, maple syrup, fruit, chocolate, etc for serving

1. Mix your pancake batter according to the package directions (typically 1 cup of batter and 2/3 to 3/4 cups water). Using a whisk, stir until it is almost completely lump-free, then allow it to rest for five minutes while your mini donut machine heats up.

2. Oil the cavities of your donut machine. Pour approximately 1 tablespoon of batter into each cavity, filling to the top, and cook for 3-4 minutes.

3. Using a small wooden or silicone spoon remove pannuts from the machine, and repeat steps 2-3 until all your batter is used up. Serve each batch immediately with powdered sugar, maple syrup, fruit or chocolate.

Notes on Batter
You want a batter that produces a thick, fluffy pancake; if you use a flatter batter (ha ha) it won’t rise enough inside the machine and the top of your pannuts won’t touch the upper cooking surface to get that nice golden colour. I didn’t want to waste “real” ingredients on this experiment so rather than make a batter from scratch I used a boxed “extra fluffy” buttermilk pancake mix that I knew from experience would rise enough, but if you have a go-to recipe for fluffy pancakes feel free to use that.

Notes on Mini Donut Makers
The one I have is a six-cavity donut maker made by SmartPlanet (similar to this) but there are lots of different brands/models available with four, six, seven or even twelve cavities! I don’t have personal experience with any of these other models but I feel like they probably all work the same.

Notes on Oil
Some people don’t like to use non-stick spray on these machines because it is messy and hard to clean up. I am of the opinion that it is easier to use the spray, but vegetable oil wiped on with a paper towel works just as well. Use whichever product/method you prefer.

Notes on Cooking Time & Quantity
I first did a single test donut with 3 minutes cook time, which came out slightly underdone. I increased the time to 4 minutes and that was perfect with my machine and batter combination. I encourage you to test with your machine and batter as the time required may be different. It’s also a good idea to test how much batter you need to fill the donut cavities; a different machine might have larger or smaller cavities that require more or less batter. Depending on this your final pannut yield may vary.

A Fish, a Fish

The other weekend Taylor went on a fishing retreat for work and came back with a Chinook salmon too big to fit in our freezer. We have SO MUCH salmon right now, we gave some to friends and still have close to three kilograms. I only have one go to salmon recipe so I asked my friends to give me some of their faves and now I think have enough recipes to for all that fish!

Salmon Pita with Hummus // Big Omega Sandwich // Roasted Salmon with Creamy Greens // Maple Salmon (this one is so easy & SO GOOD) // Baked Salmon with Parmesan Herb Crust // Crispy Salmon // Seared Salmon and Sauce Gribiche // Indoor Grilled Salmon // Blackened Salmon Tacos

peanut hottie & jelly

PH&J

This drink is super easy and delicious; it might sound a little weird but I swear it’s good! On it’s own the peanut drink tastes like Reese’s Pieces and with the addition of raspberry liqueur it tastes just like a pb&j… but with alcohol.

ingredients

6 oz heated water or milk*
1 1/2 tbs Peanut Hottie peanut drink mix
1 1/2 oz Criollo Chocolate Raspberry Truffle liqueur

In a mug, stir together the water or milk and Peanut Hottie mix. Add the raspberry liqueur, stir and enjoy!

To make the drink as it is here you might have to do a lil cross-border shopping as Peanut Hottie is currently only available in the US and the UK, and the Criollo chocolate raspberry liqueur is only available in Canada. While I don’t know of any other peanut drinks, I’m sure you can find a suitable berry liqueur to substitute.

* Using either water or milk in this drink is fine and just a matter of personal preference; I find it to thin when made with water (I don’t like hot chocolate made with water either) but you may feel differently.

caramel apple spike

CAS cream

My fave autumn drink (or anytime drink, but ESPECIALLY autumn) from Starbucks is the caramel apple spice. I know, not the pumpkin spice latte, so weird. I actually really dislike super milky hot coffee drinks (I’m an americano drinker) and the pumpkin spice flavour grosses me out. Fun fact: Vancouver was one of the test markets for the PSL way back in 2003 so I’ve actually been disliking it longer than anyone else/way before the backlash. Anyway, back to my one true love, the CAS: when I worked at Starbucks it was called the caramel apple cider and I think that name makes more sense because whenever I order it now they seem confused and it is often made wrong. For the record it’s:

-cinnamon syrup
-steamed apple juice
-whipped cream
-caramel sauce

NO caramel syrup, NO cinnamon sprinkles.

Anyway, recently I’ve been making my own version at home and of course I had to up the ante by making it alcoholic ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I don’t have a job rn, I need a hobby! And it’s drinking! (jk)

CAS cup

caramel apple spike

ingredients
-12 oz apple juice
-1 cinnamon stick
-1 whole clove
-1 small orange, washed & cut in half
-1.5 oz apple whisky
-whipped cream
-caramel sauce

CAS pan

In a small saucepan combine the apple juice, cinnamon stick and clove. Squeeze the juice of the orange into the pan and also just put the whole peel in because why not. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat, and strain out the solids. Pour the juice into a mug, add the whisky and stir. Top with whipped cream and caramel sauce, then enjoy!

CAS whisky

If you don’t have apple whisky regular is fine, but seriously do yourself a favour and pick up some Crown Royal Apple, it is way more delicious than you think it’ll be and you will not regret it. You can also make this a family friendly daytime drink by leaving out the alcohol, although I’m pretty sure having whisky in a hot drink is medicinal so it’s fine, it’s fine. I mean, not for kids, for daytime. OH AND pro-tip: instead of discarding the used cinnamon stick, clove and orange halves, put them back in the saucepan with some water and simmer over low heat to make your house smell seasonal and amazing. yr welcome 😉

all i know about simple syrup

Every time I post a picture of a fancy drink (alcoholic or otherwise) on my instagram people ask where I get the flavoured syrups I use for them*. Did I buy them? Did I make them? How did I make them? Is it hard to make them? How do you use them? How long do they last?

Generally I do make all the flavoured syrups I use (the exceptions being some elderflower and lingonberry drink concentrate from Ikea) and it is SO EASY to do, literally anyone can do it. There is a reason they call it simple syrup! All you need is sugar, water, and the flavouring of your choice. I keep a few different ones in the fridge and love adding them to to cocktails, juices or seltzer to ~elevate~ my drinks. They can also be used for sno-cones or slushies, or in sauces for ice cream, waffles and other treats.

Basic simple syrup will actually keep pretty much indefinitely (sugar is a preservative), but the addition of different ingredients can affect the shelf life. A general rule of thumb is to keep them, refrigerated, for up to a week. If you don’t think you’ll use up a whole batch in that time these recipes are very easily scaleable. Always be sure to properly clean and sterilize jars or bottles you use to store your syrups. PERSONALLY I keep mine unless they start looking funky, like if they grow a mould (this has never happened) or become cloudy when they weren’t cloudy before (this happened one time). But I’m a rebel, and you my wish to err on the side of not poisoning yourself or others.

basic simple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Add the water and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool and transfer to a bottle or jar with a lid and keep refrigerated.

You can change the flavour profile of your syrups by using different types of sugar, like brown, golden or coconut. I made a mixed berry and vanilla syrup using a mixture of half plain sugar and half vanilla sugar that turned out delicious. More recently I made a honey syrup by mixing equal parts honey and water.

The fun part is adding the flavours! All you need to do is add herbs, spices, edible flowers or fruit to your syrup.

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berry or stone fruit flavoured simple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh, canned, or frozen fruit of your choice

This is a good way to use up produce that might be a little past it’s prime (squishy strawberries, mummified frozen peaches). For fresh fruit, wash it and chop roughly (for stone fruits only, smaller fruits you can use whole). Frozen fruits do no need to be defrosted before making your syrup. Canned fruits should be drained and gently rinsed.

Add the water, sugar and fruit a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool, then use a fine sieve strain out any solids and discard. Transfer the syrup to a bottle or jar with a lid and keep refrigerated.

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apple or pear flavoured simple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
the peel of 4 large apples OR 6 medium apples OR 6 pears
1 tsp lemon juice

Make this syrup if you have a surplus of apple peelings, like if you’ve just peeled a bunch to make a pie (and not like me, who made a pie because I peeled a bunch of apples to make this syrup). Be sure to wash your apples before peeling!

Add the water, sugar, peels and lemon juice a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool, then use a fine sieve strain out any solids and discard. Transfer the syrup to a bottle or jar with a lid and keep refrigerated.

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citrus fruit flavoured simple syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup citrus juice
2 tbsp citrus zest

This recipe can be used for lemons, limes, oranges or tangerines. Maybe even grapefruit? I haven’t tried that one yet. Be sure to wash the outside of your citrus fruit before zesting.

Add the sugar, water, citrus juice and zest and fruit a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool, then use a fine sieve strain out any solids and discard. Transfer the syrup to a bottle or jar with a lid and keep refrigerated.

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floral or herbal flavoured simple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup loosely packed fresh OR 1/3 cup dried edible flower petals or herb leaves

If you are using flowers petals, you need to make sure the flowers are edible. Here is a good resource for determining what parts of which flowers are edible. You also want to be sure no pesticides or other chemicals have been used on any part of the flowering plant. Wash all leaves and petals before use.

Add the water, sugar and petals or leaves a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from heat, cover and steep overnight as it cools. Use a fine sieve strain out any solids and discard. Transfer the syrup to a bottle or jar with a lid and keep refrigerated.

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ginger, cinnamon or vanilla bean simple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 small piece of ginger (5″ long, peeled and thinly sliced or grated) OR 3 cinnamon sticks OR 1 whole vanilla bean

Add the water, sugar and ginger, cinnamon or vanilla (slice the bean open lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add both seeds and pod to the mixture) to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool. Use a fine sieve strain out any solids and discard. Transfer the syrup to a bottle or jar with a lid and keep refrigerated.

Happy syruping!

*People also ask how I make shaved ice and the answer is I GOT AN ICE SHAVER, YOU SHOULD GET ONE TOO. This is the one I have.

cinnamon apple whisky tea with honey

cinnamonapplewhiskytea
I really need to workshop a better name for this drink, but what it lacks in nomenclature it makes up in deliciousness.

As soon as I saw this Apple Crown Royal I knew it would go perfectly with my favourite iced cinnamon rooibos tea. I actually had the idea weeks ago, but I thought for a drink with these flavours I should wait until closer to fall. Then I was like… FUCK IT. It has ice, therefore it is a summer drink. When Taylor was sick the other week he tried this as a hot drink but said it wasn’t as good? I do find that when iced, this tea has a natural sweetness that it doesn’t have when hot, so it might need more honey. I’m going to try it myself once the weather cools down.

cinnamonapplewhiskyteaingredeints
cinnamon apple whisky tea with honey
1 oz apple whisky
1/2 oz honey simple syrup (recipe below)
3 oz iced cinnamon rooibos tea (recipe below)
ice
apple slice for garnish

In an Old-Fashioned glass pour whisky, honey syrup and tea over ice. Stir, garnish with an apple slice, and enjoy!

cinnamonapplewhiskyteabirdseye

honey simple syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water

Pour the honey and water into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to completely melt the honey. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then strain into a small jar and keep sealed. Unlike my other flavoured syrups I don’t keep my honey syrup in the fridge because I don’t want it to crystallize. Can honey even go bad? I’m pretty sure it will last for thousands of years but you may prefer to err on the side of caution.

cinnamon rooibos iced tea
8 tbsp cinnamon rooibos loose tea*
1 1/2 liters boiling water
2 1/2 cups of ice

If you are using an iced tea pitcher with a built in infuser:
Add the loose tea to the infuser. Pour in the water and allow to steep for 8 minutes. Remove the infuser, top up the pitcher with ice and stir. Refrigerate until completely chilled.

If you are using a hot teapot with an infuser:
Add the loose tea to the infuser. Pour in the water and allow to steep for 8 minutes. Remove the infuser and transfer the tea to a 2-liter pitcher. Top up with ice and stir, then refrigerate until completely chilled.

* I have only tried this particular brand of tea, other teas may be less sweet so adjust your honey levels accordingly.