Meals of the Week v.1

I’ve found that one of the biggest challenges I’ve had with going back to work is having the energy to make dinner when I get home. Some days I’m just plain ‘ol DONE and if Isla is being especially cranky? Oh boy. Like last Thursday I had grand plans to fry up some chicken with all the trimmings, except I had a horrible headache, so I ended up barbecuing the chicken, boiling some pasta and pouring Alfredo sauce mix out of a pouch and into a pan of milk.

Anyway, this week I thought I’d document my weekly meal creations. I ended up trying a new recipe, leaning on a couple go-to’s, and taking advantage of the nice weather we’ve been having and using the barbecue. (Hello, less mess afterwards to clean up!) When it comes to dinner, Pinterest is my best friend!

Monday: Spicy shrimp pasta w/garlic tomato cream sauce

I decided to try out a new recipe I found on Pinterest last week – Spicy shrimp pasta in garlic tomato cream sauce. It was SUPER easy to make but it was lacking in the flavour department. (I did cut back on the red pepper flakes because Kyle and Isla don’t do spicy food.) The taste reminded Kyle and I of Lipton Sidekicks and besides the shrimp, Isla didn’t want to eat it. (I don’t know if it was because she was sick, or if she genuinely didn’t like it.) Either way, it would’ve been better as a side instead of an entire meal.

Tuesday: Baked meatballs in mushroom “sauce” w/rice

No photo because I totally forgot…

This is one of my “go to” meals and it varies from being baked in the over or just done on the stove with tomato soup. On the stove is faster, but Tuesday is my day off work so I went with the more “labour intensive” version. There’s no recipe since I just have it in my brain, but I usually just add salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, an egg, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce to the ground beef. I sear the meatballs a little bit in a pan, then pop them into a casserole dish with 2 cans of mushroom soup and some sliced up mushrooms and celery. It goes into the oven for about an hour at 350°F and gets served with rice when it’s done!

Wednesday: Fried chicken

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Fried chicken can be safely categorized as a comfort food for Kyle. His grandma made it all the time for him when he was a kid and I’m proud to say that I’ve mastered making it. While I’ve put my own twist on it, I think his granny would approve! I pounded out the chicken with a meat mallott and then dredged the breasts in flour mix that has salt, ground black pepper and a touch of cayenne pepper. After it’s coated with flour, it’s dipped into an egg wash (one egg is usually just enough for 3-4 decent sized chicken breasts), and then into panko crumbs. I used to use just crushed up soda crackers, but the panko adds an amazing crunch. I fry it up on both sides in vegetable oil for about 10 minutes a side on medium-high heat, and it’s done! (FYI a splatter guard is very handy keeping the hot oil in the pan!) The standard side dish for this one is mashed potatoes. Comfort food at its finest!

Thursday: BBQ’s Italian sausage w/homemade BBQ sauce

No photo because I forgot (again) …

I’ve had a hankering for something nice and saucy, so I figured I’d toss some mild Italian sausages onto the barbecue for dinner and douse them with homemade barbecue sauce. We used to buy bottles of ‘cue sauce at the store all the time, but they’d either expire or we’d use a whole bottle in one go and it would be almost a waste of money. (We like sauce, what can I say?)

Last summer while on Pinterest I came across this recipe for homemade sauce and let me tell you – it’s SO good! I let it simmer for about an hour and it has the best consistency ever.

Anyway, all I really do is boil the sausages for 10 minutes or so before tossing them on the grill for another 15-20 minutes. I served them up with carrots and rice, and it was the best ever. In fact, I can’t wait for lunchtime today because that’s what I brought with me to work.

Friday: Night off!

Lucky me, I get the night off from cooking since it’s Kyle’s birthday tomorrow, so we’re heading to his mom’s for a family birthday dinner tonight. In my mind, any night I don’t have to cook is a good night! Roast beef with all the trimmings is what’s on the menu.


 

I think the smartest thing I do when it comes to cooking dinner every night is to sit down and plan my “menu” for the whole week before I head out grocery shopping on Sundays. If I don’t plan what I’m making I definitely end up making crap food, or at least food that’s not as healthy as it should be, such as the packaged Alfredo wonderfulness from last week.

What was your favourite meal this week? How do you plan dinners?

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Christmas Baking: Chocolate Haystacks

One of my favourite things about the Christmas season? Baking!! Sure, I can bake any time of the year, but for some reason Christmas just brings out the domestic housewife in me and I want to BAKE ALL THE THINGS!

Ironically, my first batch of holiday goodies didn’t even have to go into the oven! I opted to make chocolate haystacks, using Kyle’s mom’s recipe. They’re one of his favourite and while they’re totally not good for you in any way at all, they are delicious!

Here’s the ingredients:

– 2 cups sugar
– 6 tbsp. cocoa
– 1/2 cup butter
– 1/2 cup milk
– 1 tsp. vanilla
– 1 cup shredded coconut
– 3 cups rolled oats
– 1 cup raisins (optional)

Start by combining the sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. I found it was easier to melt the butter in the pan first and then add the other ingredients. Once it’s boiled, add the vanilla. (Which I forgot to do. They’re not as dark, but they still taste great!)

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In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut, oats and raisins. If you have a toddler helping you, be prepared to be sweeping up oats and coconut off the floor…

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Pour the cocoa mixture into the bowl with the oats and coconut, and mix until everything is nice and coated! Grab a tablespoon and drop cookie-sized balls of the mixture onto a cookie sheet (or two) lined with parchment paper. (Because who has time to wash cookie sheets?) Stick ’em in the fridge for about 2 hours to help them settle, then dive in!

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Nothing screams “Fattening Christmas Goodies!” like oats and coconuts smothered in a chocolatey, buttery, sugary goop. Eat in moderation! (Or not, because it’s Christmas!)

What’s your favourite Christmastime indulgence??

Weekend Wind-up

Whew! This past weekend went by WAY too fast! It’s hard to believe that it’s already Monday and Kyle’s back to work already. His four days off went by so fast! Here’s what we got up to this weekend:

– On Thursday we had an appointment at the bank to deposit some birthday money Isla got into her RESP account. We opened the account for her as soon as her SIN card arrived in the mail and we’ve been making monthly deposits ever since then. We want her to be able to attend whichever university she wants and to have a little bit of a head-start in some way. After the bank, we headed home for Isla’s nap, and then went to his mom’s for pizza dinner since it was his step-dad’s birthday. We taught Isla how to do the arm/hand gesture for a touchdown and it’s pretty hilarious. No photos, so you’ll just have to believe me ;)

– On Friday our friends Clara and Cullen arrived from out of town to stay with us as one of them was competing in the Kamloops Highland Games (In the Highland Dance competition, to be exact). The games were on Saturday, but we always have an awesome time with these two and they ended up staying until Sunday. The Highland Games itself was pretty entertaining. Lots of bagpipes and dancing, for sure! Kyle and I had never actually seen Clara dance before, so we headed to the park to watch her compete. Holy wow is all I can say! She’s really good and placed in a variety of different dances so I’m glad we got to see what Highland Dance was all about! The little kids were absolutely adorable to watch too. Also, I have no photos from the Games because I’m stupid and forgot my phone at home. Uggggh.

– I splurged and bought myself a new flat-iron from a beauty supply store. The one I had been using before was a cheap-o Walmart special that I borrowed from my mom, so it’s been nice using a good quality iron for once! The best thing is not having to wait 5 minutes for it to get hot. With Isla getting more and more impatient these days, I need to be able to get ready fast!

– This weekend was also full of new foods! I made cucumber salsa, which I found on via a friend on Facebook (recipe from Keeping it Together). OMG SO GOOD! I love fresh salsa and while I have never made my own fresh tomato salsa, this cucumber version is SO good! It’s very freshing! Clara also brought us a apricot-blueberry-cherry pie for Friday night which was delicious with whipped cream, and I also had my first food truck experience thanks to Cat & Joe’s Pig Rig! They were parked at the Highland Games on Saturday so I braved the long line-up to get myself the Piglet – a small pulled-pork sammie topped with slaw on a yummy bun with fries & beans. I brought my food home to eat and let me tell yah – the lineup was so worth the wait!

– I also decided to take an old chair that’s been kicking around the house and give it a little bit of a face lift, but that will be a post on its own later this week.

What did you get up to this weekend? Ever been to a Highland Games event before? Or eaten from a food truck?