Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 5 Vegetarian Challenge

Well today was one of those days...going on day 2 of flu symptoms in the house and Miss Willow is so like her father and a big baby when she's sick.  Needless to say there was no rest for the wickid...aka ME!!!!

I sat out prepare tonight's dinner complete with baby on my back and doggy at my foot.  Literally. lol
Cooking with a baby on my back and a mutt at my feet.

On the menu tonight, Brown Rice, Vegetable & Herb Gratin (Now I did some variations so I'll post the recipe as it is and then I'll write what I did differently after.)

1/3 cup brown rice
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 zucchini, sliced
1 can baby corn cobs halved lengthwise
2tbsp sunflower seeds
3 tbsp chopped mixed herbs
1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs
salt and pepper

1 Cook the rice in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 20 minutes. Drain well.
2 Lightly grease a oven proof dish
3 Heat the butter in a frying pan.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until softened.
4 Add the garlic, carrot, zucchini and corn cobs and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring.
5 Mix the rice wit the sunflower seeds and mixed herbs and stir into the pan.
6 Stir in half of the Mozzarella cheese and pepper to taste.
7 Spoon the mixture into the greased dish and top with the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.

Cook in a preheated oven, 350 F for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese begins to turn golden.  Serve.

Variations: I used 1 cup Basmati rice cuz I wanted there to be left overs.  I cooked the basmati rice with salt water and added 2 bay leaves for some flaour.  I doubled the amount of carrots, zucchini, and sunflower seeds.  I seasoned the cooked rice with the following
2 tsps curry
2 tsps cumin
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp Club House Italian seasoning
2 tsp Club House roasted red pepper and garlic seasoning

 This was another stellar dish!!!! In fact it was soo good that I forgot to take a picture of my plate for the blog!!! lol  So you'll have to settle for  a pic of the Gratin going into the oven and one of my half empty plate.
Gratin going into the oven it seems the prep time put Willow to sleep

My half empty plate. 

Day 4 Vegetarian Challenge

Yesterday was another slow cooker sessions as it seems the winter flu has hit this house.  Partly why this post is being done today as opposed to last night.  Sorry to all my loyal fans.

On the menu was Scalloped Potatoes and Parsnips and while it was a yummy home cooked winter themed meal I think the next time I do it I will omit the Parsnips.  They have a sweetness that I didn't quite like in this dish. (Though I do like Parsnips on their own mind you... just didn't like them with my potatos.)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons dry mustard
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 baking potatoes, cut in half lengthwise, then in 1/4-inch lices crosswise
2 parsnips, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 onion, chopped
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add flour and shisk constantly 3 to 5 minutes.  Slowly shisk in cream, mustard, salt, thyme and pepper.  Stir until smooth.

2. Place potatoes, parsnips and onion into slow cooker. Add cream sauce. Cover; cook on LOW 7 hours or on HIGH 3.5 hours or until potatoes are tender.

3. Stir in cheese. Cover until cheese melts.

Sloppy goodness on a plate!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 3 Vegetarian Challenge

Three days down and going strong!  Today I decided to spice things up a bit and try another new recipe.  On the menu today Curried Cauliflower and Spinach with Tilapia Fish.

Today's ingredients
1 medium cauliflower
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, halved and sliced
1 green chilli, sliced
1 lb/450 g spinach
6 tbsp vegetable stock
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
cilantro sprigs, to garnish

1 Break the cauliflower into small florets.
2 Heat the oil in a deep flameproof casserole dish.  Add the mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop.
3 Stir in the remaining spices, the garlic, onion and chilli and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring.
4 Add the cauliflower, spinach, vegetable stock, cilantro and seasoning and cook over a gentle heat for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.  Uncover the dish and boil for 1 minute to thicken the juices. Garnish and serve.

For the Tilapia Fish I didn't have a recipe so I simply used the spices above minus the mustard seed as a rub on the fish fillets.  I rubbed the fish with some Olive Oil and brushed the spices on then placed in a shallow baking pan.  I preheated the oven to 450 and cooked the fish for 10 minutes uncovered.

Dinner is served!
 This is my new favorite dish!!!!  My only complaint is that I didn't make enough to have left overs!  Tilapia Fish is a great fish!  Pretty much no mercury, sooooo NOT a fishy fish. (can't stress that enough)  I will definately be making this bad boy again!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 2 Vegetarian Challenge

Today was a busy day with Mommy and Me classes, a cranky pants Willowbum who has been fighting off the sniffles for the past 3 days, snow and me dealing with lack of sleep.  What better day than today to bust out the slow cooker?  I don't know how many of you have one but the slow cooker is a working mom's BFF in my books and I'm not even working! lol. 

While Miss Cranky Pants was taking her 20 minute power nap, (Yes she only sleeps for 20 minutes during the day...woah is me) I set to work chopping all the vegtables needed for tonight's meal.  On the menu tonight was Vegetable Pasta Sauce served with Whole Wheat Pasta.  As I heard the yells of "I'm awake get me know!" coming from Willow's room dinner was pretty much made and I could relax knowing Hubby would get a great meal that really required little effort on my part. 

Ingredients for tonight's meal minus the pasta

2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can whole tomatoes, undrained
11/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow squash cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 can tomato paste
4 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon black pepper

Hot cooked pasta
Parmesan cheese and fresh basil for garnishing (optional)

1. Combine all ingredients excpt pasta and garnishes in slow cooker, stirring thoroughly to combine.  Cover; cook on LOW 6-8 hours.
2. Serve over cooked pasta.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, if desired. 

The finished meal.
 All in all I'd give tonight's meal a 3.75 out of 5.  It was a little more watery than I l normally have my pasta sauce so maybe if you like your sauce thick strain on can of tomatos.  Other than that the flavour was perfect.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 1 Vegetarian Challenge

So the grand adventure begins!
Day 1 of the Vegetarian Challenge began with a big bowl of Instant Oatmeal and a trip to the grocery store. Any guesses on how much I spent?
Yeap that's right, just over $90!!!  lol to be fair it is winter in Canada so vegetables aren't cheap.

What does $91 of groceries look like you you ask? Well sadly... not too much.

Willowbum posing with $91 worth of groceries

$91 worth of groceries unbagged.

Vegetable full fridge

After the fridge was packed to brim.  I got to work planning the "piece de resistance".  On the menu tonight was a Cashew Nut Paella.  I must admit I was a little bit nervous about making my first vegetarian meal as it was Hubby's pick and his parents had been invited over for dinner.  Let me tell you, Hubby's parents are Canadian and don't normally cook with spices other than salt and pepper.  A quick glance at Hubby's dinner pick revealed such exotic spices like cumin and turmeric.  Spices not exotic to me but his folks?  Well I guess we'd have to see how it goes.  As I prepped for the night's dinner I crossed my heart and hopped no one died after dinner. lol

All the ingredients for today's dish

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1 tsp chilli powder
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chilli, sliced
1 green (bell) pepper, diced
1 red (bell) pepper, diced
1 can baby corn cobs, halved lengthwise
2 tbsp pitted black olives
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
2 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup unsalted cashew nuts
1/4 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp chopped parsley
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
fresh herbs, to garnish

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan until the butter has melted.
2. Add the chopped onion to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the onion has softened.
3. Stir in the rice turmeric, cumin, chilli powder, garlic, chilli, (bell) peppers, corn cobs, olives and tomato and cook over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Pour in the stock and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes, stirring.
5. Add the cashew nuts and peas to the mixture in the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season to taste and sprinkle with parsley and cayenne pepper. 
6. Enjoy!

Dinner was served and I held my breath as everyone dug in.  I am used to spice and I wasn't sure if this dish could be classified as spicy or not.
"FIVE STARS!!!" exclaimed hubby. "4.5" said my Father-in-Law. And with that I exhaled.  Dinner was a success!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Veggie Challenge

Watching Oprah the other day, she had a Vegan challenge that she got her staff to do.  Decided that going Vegan was probably a little too much to ask of me as really and truly I love my BEEF! lol The challenge however was put forth by Teresa from Look Who's to go Vegetarian for a week.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought what fun it would be to try.  Also what a great topic to get this whole blog thing underway in full swing!

Those of you that know me know how I love o cook and post pictures on my facebook of my meals, and this whole challenge will give me a chance to try some interesting menu items I'd probably otherwise never try.  So stay tune this week.  I will try everynight to post the day's meal and pictures with the recipes I've used and a breakdown on what I think. 

Next stop Shopping in the morning!



Sunday, January 30, 2011

You Are What You Use...

So a friend of mine Jan was talking the other day about chemicals in baby's products and that got me thinking about the products I use for my daughter Willow.  I was directed to the Cosmetic Database and boy were my eyes opened. ***Note for fun try looking up some of your most used items just to see where they fall***

It is funny how giving birth to a child really changes your perspective on things.  Before having Willow I could really care less about most of the products in my house that I used day to day.  If it smelt nice, cost less, and worked right that was the purchase indicator in my books.  Like really why pay more right?  But now having a child, I realize that it's not about me, and like most parents I want the best for my child and that includes buying products that in the long run will give her the best chance at having a relatively healthy life.  I mean it seems like Cancer rates have increased over the years, and not for nothing (I'm sure there are many reasons that could be used to explain why) I would hate to think that some silly bath product I used everyday on Willow turned out 20 years from now to be a factor in some ailment she had.

Anyways,  I spent my early morning today packing up all Willow's bath and cream products to throw away (Those of you that know me...know how much it hurt me to pack up perfectly good products)..."Waste not want not" was what mommy used to say.. But in this case I just couldn't see myself giving something that I knew was not the best to someone else to use on their child...kinda like giving crack to another addict so you don't smoke it yourself if you know what I mean. So in the trash went the goods and out the door a shopping I went!

I ended up picking up 2 products that had passed the cosmetic database test, and after using them tonight i wanted to give my initial reviews. 
Product number 1: Baby Bee Fragrance Free Shampoo & Wash 

I opted to get the fragrance free as opposed to the scented one and I must say for a non-fragrance product the aroma was not to shabby.  Kinda smells like earthy honey (does that make sense?).  I poured 2 cap fulls in Willow's bath and it did not foam up much which I expected seeing as I know to get nice bubbles like in the bubble baths I used to have as a kid requires... you guessed it.  Chemicals. What did surprise me was when I poured a pea sized drop into Willow's hair how much it did soap up to really get her hair clean.  Now mind you the child's doesn't have much hair so really maybe I'm giving the product too much credit but I was pleasantly surprised so I have to point that out.  It also washed out very nicely out of her hair and on her body leaving no residue so all in all I am happy with this product.

Product number 2 : moisturizing baby lotion  by Live Clean.  Now I must say I am very familiar with this brand and the only reason i didn't by their body wash too was because they were sold out at the store.  I use their shampoo and conditioner for my own hair and I love that fact that they are not only eco friendly (using 98% plant ingredients in most of their products) but that they are also Canadian. (Kinda like supporting my country)
Now I LOVE this baby lotion.  A little bit goes a long way I used a quarter sized amount and I was able to do Willow's complete body.  The formula is not greasy and leaves no sticky residue as other creams do.  The scent is is nice too.  Light and like a baby lol.  I love the fact that I could pronounce a majority of the ingredients and the price point was not to bad for the size.
All in all I have now graduated into the organic baby product world and I'm happy to say I am what I use!