Kitchen Tip: Peeling Garlic Quickly! Friday, Mar 1 2013 

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A while back, I saw a Pinterest link on how to peel a whole bulb of garlic in 30 seconds. I didn’t really believe it, but definitely wanted to try it! I like to peel several bulbs, put them through the food processor, then freeze them. This way it’s quick and easy to add to any dish as I’m cooking. I find I use garlic more this way since I don’t have to take the time to peel a clove, and diced it (or use a garlic press that is a pain to wash!).

Today, I finally gave it a try and it was so fun! My boys and I peeled 5 bulbs of garlic in approximately 5 minutes! Definitely quickly than peeling them individually! :)

Here’s a video on how to do it:

Shared at Tammy’s Recipes, Kitchen Tip Tuesday!

Single-serve Baked Oatmeal Wednesday, Jan 23 2013 

 

 

One of my favourite breakfast is Baked Oatmeal. I love to make huge batch and eat it all week! :)  I came across the idea of baking it in muffin tins. These are great for a breakfast on the go, a snack, or to put in a lunch box.

It would be a great recipe to make with your children, as they could each add their own toppings (blueberries, chocolate chips, coconut, almonds, raisins, cranberries, etc). :)

These would also freeze well, and thaw out quickly!

I love Baked Oatmeal! :)

Fancy cucumber slices Friday, Jan 18 2013 

 

For my son’s 4th birthday party, I decided to do his favourite foods: cucumber slices, spaghetti, and bread. I wanted to dress things up a bit, so I cut the cucumbers in a fancy way. (See him trying to sneak some while I’m busy trying to take a picture of the cucumbers?!)

It’s so easy to do these! You need a sharp knife. Simply make “W” cuts all around the slices, pushing the knife half-way through the diameters of the cucumber. When you get all the way around, simply pull apart the slices and voila! So pretty. :)

Mashed Potatoes (with Pumpkin!) Friday, Nov 30 2012 

My boys are not keen on squash or pumpkin. If I make it as a side-dish, only Josiah and I eat it. I’ve gotten sneaky though, adding pumpkin or squash into various dishes. One of the ways I do so, is by adding some mashed pumpkin into my mashed potatoes. If you don’t add too much, it doesn’t affect the taste, and my boys loooooove mashed potatoes!

I love to use this mashed potato/pumpkin mix on top of our Shepherd’s Pie. Another variation to this, is using a bit of sweet potato! Yum! :)

 

Birthday cake idea Wednesday, Nov 28 2012 

 

A while back we were invited to a little boys’ birthday party. I loved her birthday cake idea for her son, and it sure was a hit with the children! She simply shaped rice krispie treat into a dinosaur, sprinkled green sprinkles, and added mini marshmallows for toes and a chocolate chip for the eye. Then she decorated the tray with little play dinosaurs, which the children each got to pick one to bring home.

Such a cute easy idea! Cakes certainly don’t need to be extravagant to be a hit with little children. :)

Making salad for a crowd! Monday, Nov 5 2012 

 

 

 

While I’m showing pictures of a time my husband and I made salad for a crowd (100 people), we do this on a small scale in our home regularly as well! I love having pretty salad waiting in the fridge, ready to eat. We eat more salad this way! It’s appealing to the eyes, and the tummy. :) It lasts about 4-5 days in the fridge.

We made this salad back in March, when we put together a spaghetti supper fundraiser. We had no bowl big enough to make this much lettuce (10 heads of iceburg!), so we put a clean tablecloth on the table and had fun! :D

 

 

 

First, get all your ingredients ready. Then spread the chopped up the lettuce on a clean table (on a smaller scale, we put it in a large bowl or large ziploc bag).

Next, you spread all your other veggies. Here, we had chopped up purple cabbage, grated carrots, as well as diced peppers (green/yellow/red/orange). These veggies make the salad so appealing to the eyes, and so much more fun to eat! Yet, it’s simple veggies to chop up and add. :)

 

 

 

Then you mix it all up and bag it. :)  On a small scale at home, we fill up a large ziploc bag full of ready-made salad this way. We use whatever veggies we have on hand, which usually means some carrots and purple cabbage as a basic (adds nice colour). Other veggies we’ve added is broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers. You don’t want to add any tomatoes as they will make the salad soggy and it will go bad faster. Sliced cucumbers also don’t last as long, so be careful if you add those.

 

This is a great way of preparing salad for a crowd, of just for your own family at home. My husband and I often prepare the salad together. It gives us a chance to talk, while preparing enough salad to last us several days. :) A huge time saver!

Check out these yummy homemade salad dressings!

Voeller Salad Dressing (our favourite!)
Catalina Salad Dressing
Rachel’s Vinaigrette
Asian Salad Dressing

 

Homemade… everything? Friday, Oct 26 2012 

I was recently showing a friend a batch of these yummy homemade crackers, and she made a comment I haven’t forgotten. She said “Wow, you really don’t buy much from the store, do you!” I hadn’t stopped to think about it before, because I DO buy a lot. But what do I buy? Mostly all basic ingredients, meat, fruits and vegetables. I do buy some ready-made stuff (i.e. perogies), but very little of those things.

How is it possible that I buy so few pre-made items? I make my own condensed cream soups, my own crackers, my own bread crumbs and croutons, my own taco seasoning, etc. That’s a lot of things to make from scratch!

I figured out the answer, and wanted to share. :)  I have two boys, my family eats a lot, and yes, I make most things from scratch. There are two reasons why I am able to do all that:

1. I make bigger batches, and freeze things for quick meals later. I freeze cooked chicken, so I can quickly make chicken salad sandwiches, chicken patties, stir-fry, chicken casseroles, etc. I cook dry beans and freeze them for later (instead of buying cans). I keep loaves of bread in the freezer. When I make chili, sloppy joes, spaghetti sauce and such, I make large batches and freeze the extras for meals on days when I don’t have time to do it all.

2. We eat simply. It takes a bit of time to make a homemade “can of condensed cream soup” (about 8 minutes or so?), and while I could make an extra large batch to freeze in 1 cup portions (which equals one can), I just end up not making recipes that use condensed creams soup. I don’t end up making recipes that require a lot of work, and are very involved. We eat simply. Simple eating is the key to eating healthy meals from scratch! My family loves the meals I make, and we keep the fancy meals for special occasions. :)

So yes, I make most things from scratch and buy little pre-made. But the only way that is possible is by preparing things ahead, and eating simply.

What do you make from scratch? How do you manage to cook healthy for your family on a busy schedule?

I also want to put a reminder here: if you try and start making everything from scratch right away, you’ll get discouraged. Start slowly. Incorporate one new habit at the time, then move on to the next one. When you run out of taco seasoning? Instead of buying some, make it yourself (one recipe lasts a few meals). When you run out of crackers, don’t buy some, try this recipe. Slowly build up your repertoire of things you make from scratch, and then it won’t be overwhelming?

It’s also OK, if you can’t do it all from scratch. We can’t do it all. Decide what is important to you to do from scratch, and let go of the things are aren’t. For example, to me, it’s not worth it to make perogies from scratch. I found a brand that makes whole wheat ones for a good price, and stock up when they’re on sale. But to me, it is important to make taco seasoning from scratch because then its not filled with preservatives and MSG. Choose what is important to your and your family, and focus on that!

Kitchen Tip: Internal Bread Temperature Monday, Oct 15 2012 

I have baked many hundreds of loaves of bread in my life! One thing I always hated was trying to accurately guess whether or not the bread was fully cooked. It’s very disappointing to cut open a loaf of bread you thought was cooked, but lacked a few minutes of baking! :)

One way that I check if the bread is baked is by knocking on the top of the loaf. If it sounds hallow, it’s probably cooked enough.

BUT, there is a way to make sure the bread truly is baked long enough! By taking the internal temperature of the bread. If the internal temperature is 170C or higher, then yes, the bread is baked enough. It’s such an easy way to know for sure! It does leave a little poke hole in the middle of the bread, but that is small and certainly doesn’t affect the taste of the bread. :)

Check out my 100% whole wheat bread recipe here! And my 100% spelt bread recipe here! :)

 

Shared at Kitchen Tip Tuesday!

Smoothie Tips Tuesday, Oct 9 2012 

I found this picture on Pinterest, from here. I wanted to share it with you, as you may find it interesting! My smoothies pretty much follow the “guidelines” from this picture, and gave me a few more ideas. :)

Here is what I put in my typical smoothie: 2-3 frozen bananas, handful frozen blueberries, 3-4 frozen strawberries, frozen spinach, achai berry powder, vitamin C powder, probiotic powder, and milk. Sometimes I’ll use yogurt, and/or protein powder as well.

Here are my recipes for Fruit SmoothieGreen SmoothiesPumpkin Smoothie, and Chocolate Banana Smoothie.

Kitchen Tip: Freezing Bananas Thursday, Sep 27 2012 

Can you buy discounted overripe bananas at your local grocery store? We can here. Sometimes in little bunches for $2, and sometimes we can buy a huge box for $5! That’s when I stock my freezer up! :)  Usually some of the bananas in there are perfectly fine to still eat, so we eat a lot, and then we freeze lots for banana bread/muffins, and smoothies. We’ve tried different ways of freezing it, but this way is our favourite:

-Peel bananas
-Break them into chunk
-Freeze them in 1-2 layers in a ziploc bag

This way the bags stack really well and save space in the freezer, and the chunks are easy to break apart (not “glued” together) to throw in the blender for a smoothie, or to thaw for banana bread/muffins. :)

Here are ways (recipes) I use frozen bananas:

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
Chocolate Banana “Ice cream”
Green Smoothies
Smoothie-Love!
Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Do you buy discounted bananas? How do you freeze them?

Shared at Kitchen Tip Tuesday!

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