Tuesday, December 2, 2008

creative in the kitchen

It's lunch time. The kids are antsy, the fridge is near empty, and it's too cold to bother doing a quick trip to the grocery store. What's a momma to do?

Times like this call for a little improvisation! The pantry currently houses TVP nuggets, bread crumbs, sea weed, and little else. There's cornstarch in the freezer and vegetable broth & leftovers in the fridge. A little creative thinking, and I've got nuggets!

Momma's Yummy Nuggets

You will need:

TVP nuggets
Vegetable broth
Bread crumbs
Sea weed (dry)
Sea salt

What to do:

Soak the TVP nuggets in vegetable broth. TVP nuggets are flavourless and hard, as they soak they will take on the texture of chicken and absorb the flavour of whatever they are soaking in.

In a mixing bowl, combine one spoonful of corn starch with four spoonfuls of bread crumbs. With a mortar and pestle (or a coffee grinder), grind a spoonful of sea weed to about the same size as your bread crumbs - smaller than flakes, but not a powder. Add the ground sea weed and sea salt to taste to the bread crumbs and cornstarch. Mix evenly.

When your TVP nuggets are soft and moist, coat them with your bread crumb mixture. Bake the nuggets in the oven at 400 until golden, and VOILA! Yummy nuggets :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

momma's power oatmeal

Now that the weather is cold, my son and I have been enjoying warm bowls of power oatmeal to start our days. This delicious oatmeal is my own little creation. It's very nutritious and filling, and one of my son's favourite things to eat.

Momma's Power Oatmeal

You will need:

Almond milk
Organic quick-rolled oats
Organic Quinoa
Flax seeds
Hemp seed hearts
Premium 100% Maple syrup
Fresh or frozen berries (we like strawberries, blueberries, black berries and raspberries)


Bring a ratio of half water, half almond milk to a boil on the stove. How much you use will depend on how many people you are feeding with your oatmeal. I always just eyeball it and have never bothered measuring.

In a coffee grinder, grind several spoonfuls of quinoa to a fine powder. Stir the powder into your boiling water & almond milk.

After a minute or two, add your oats. Stir frequently.

In the coffee grinder, grind a spoonful or two of flax seeds to a meal. (Flax seed is best when freshly ground - it loses it's nutritional value the longer it sits after being ground.) Add the ground flax seed to the oatmeal. Again, how much you will use depends on how much oatmeal you want to make.

Add hemp seed hearts. Stir well.

Add as much or as little maple syrup and cinnamon as you would like. My son enjoys lots of each.

Add your fresh or frozen berries to the mix. We tend to use frozen berries, because they are cheaper and they keep for as long as they are in the freezer. I toss a few handfuls into the oatmeal, cook until completely thawed & nice and hot, and enjoy!

There you have it - Momma's power oatmeal! This is a favourite in our house when the weather is frosty cold.

slow-cooker chana masala (chick pea curry)

Last week I made all of our dinners in the slow-cooker. It worked out so well, I think I may make a habit of doing it. My particular favourite of the recipes I tried was the slow-cooker chana masala, or chick pea curry.

Slow-cooker Chana Masala

You will need:

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated OR 1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
1 cup dried chick peas (or 1 15 oz can)*
12 oz diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp garam masala

* I recommend using dried chick peas whenever possible. They are much healthier than canned chick peas, which lose a lot of their nutritional value during processing and have an incredible amount of salt added to them.


Soak dried chick peas overnight. Drain the soaking water and boil the chick peas in fresh water on the stove until they are soft. (I like to do a large amount at once, so that I have plenty of chick peas available throughout the week for other recipes, snacks, etc. You can put your extra chick peas in a container in the fridge.)

Sautee the onion, garlic, and ginger in the olive oil.

Add all ingredients to the slow-cooker. Cook for 6-9 hours on low.

Monday, November 10, 2008

time for a grocery trip

With this mama working evenings and Daddy working days, I've been trying to do most dinners in the slow-cooker so we can just sit down and eat when I get home without the hassle of meal prep. So far, so good! I'm in love with my slow-cooker - it only take me 15 mins or so to get all the ingredients ready and thrown in the pot, and voila! I come home to a hot meal.

This week's slow-cooker recipes are:
- Chickpea Curry
- Lemon Chickpea Bulgar Pilaf
- Eclectic Pasta Stew
- Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf

Recipes to come throughout the week!

My last grocery trip was not as well-thought as usual, and we ended up with quite a bit left at the end of the week. That's ok - it just means less to buy this week, and less time in the grocery store with two impatient little ones.

Now that winter is here and it's such as hassle getting the kids out the door with hats and mitts and thick coats, I'm considering renewing my service from the local organic delivery. They carry a lot more than you'd expect a delivery service to offer. http://naturalearthorganics.ca

Monday, September 29, 2008

the cupboard is bare

What to do when hubby is out of town for two days, groceries badly need to be purchased, mama is exhausted, and toddler is hungry?


Tonight's dinner was a mish-mash of things pulled from the refrigerator - broccoli, zucchini, cheese, and a couple of veggie dogs. I sauteed the broccoli and zucchini in olive oil, then melted the cheese onto it and added a bit of salt and pepper, then heated the veggie dogs and wrapped them in rye bread for lack of buns. Voila! Our bellies were filled, the toddler was happy, and I didn't have to make a run to the grocery store with two grumpy children.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

taco casserole and oatmeal-yogurt cake

Last night's dinner was so delicious - Taco Casserole with Oatmeal-Yogurt Cake for dessert. My son gobbled it up, so I think it's safe to say it was a success.

Taco Casserole
(I don't know where this recipe originated - it's been on an index card in my recipe box for at least two years)

2 cups TVP or 1 package Yve's Ground Round
2 packages of taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups of corn
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 bag of tortilla chips
2 cups black beans
1 onion
2 cups cheese

Warm the TVP or Ground Round in a pan with onion and 1 package of the taco seasoning. Add tomato sauce, water, and corn (you want just enough water that you have a nice thick sauce going on). Let simmer.
In a separate pan, heat the black beans with the remaining package of taco seasoning, and enough water to create a thick sauce.
Line a baking dish with tortilla chips. Pour the TVP mixture over the chips and cover with 1 cup of cheese. Add another layer of tortilla chips, pour in black beans, and cover with the remaining cup of cheese.
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Oatmeal-Yogurt Cake

I got this recipe from Mollie Katzen's cookbook, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. This is a most excellent cookbook, one I recommend for every family, vegetarian or not. To ice the cake, I used the Cream Icing recipe also found in the book.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

avocado sub sandwiches

This is one our favourite lunches. It is very quick, easy and delicious.

You will need:
- Avocado
- Sub buns
- Sliced cheese
- Tomato
- Artichoke hearts
- Sliced red pepper

Smear the avocado onto one half of the sub bun. Lay the cheese slices over the avocado and place both halves of the bun into the oven (we usually set it at 375 or 400) until the cheese is melted and your bread it toasty. Lay the artichoke hearts, pepper slices, and tomato on top of the cheese, add your choice of condiments (we like Italian dressing and mustard), put the naked half of the bun on top, and enjoy!

time for a grocery trip

It's been a week since my last grocery trip and the pickings are getting slim, so here I sit with my recipe box in front of me and my notepad at hand. We've been wasting much less food since I started meal planning, as we're buying only what our recipes call for instead of whatever looks good when we happen to be at the grocery store.

This week's dinners are:
- Tempeh and Spinach Pasta Bake
- Taco Casserole
- Lentil Burgers
- Slow-cooker Split Pea & Potato Soup
- Tofu Mutter
- Zucchini Quiche

Last week, several produce items went bad before I got around to using the recipes that called for them, so this week I'm going to try making my recipes based on how long the ingredients will keep. That means the zucchini quiche will be one of the first meals, as I find that my zucchini typically goes bad before other veggies. The tempeh and spinach pasta bake is right up there too, as spinach doesn't tend to keep very long before going wilty. The split pea and potato soup will most likely be the last meal.

I don't plan lunches as thoroughly as I do dinners, because we're often out and about during the day and I don't end up with the time necessary to prepare what I had in mind. Some of our quick staple lunches that I plan for every week include:
- Avocado Sub Sandwiches
- Spinach and Egg Scramble
- Rice Macaroni Noodles with Cheese

A home-made snack mix is essential around here - I usually throw in dried cranberries, dried blueberries, dried cherries, pecans, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and wheat square cereal. My son loves to pick at that throughout the day, and without any sugar or salt added it's not something that needs to be limited. We also keep rice crackers and cheese on hand for quick snacks, as well as sunflower-oat bran bread with cashew butter and home-made mulberry jam for fast sandwiches. Organic yogurt is an essential for quick fixes as well.

Breakfast is typically either a bowl of granola with rice or almond milk, eggs, or oatmeal with quinoa - nothing fancy there and easy to plan for.

My shopping list is ready. Now it's time to tackle the feat of shopping with a 23-mo-old and 4-mo-old in tow. Wish me luck!