I had a wonderful weekend. In honour of my little brother's birthday (not so little and turing 31) my whole family went to the Salt Spring Island Ales beer pairing at Dolphins Resort's Angler's Dining Room. To really do it up right we rented a room to accommodate us all plus my Granny and her husband to watch the boys while we were pairing the delicious beer with the perfectly complimentary food.
Well Granny got the flu and was unable to make it. It was decided my mom would watch the boys and we would ferry food/drink over to the cabin. Not ideal, but workable. When Carmen (the manager of the resort and wife of the chef, lucky girl) heard of this she insisted on heading over to the cabin and sending my mom back to the dining room. Are you kidding me? Not only does Carmen have five children of her own (wow!) to deal with, she is taking on a two year old and a relatively new baby. Not a problem for her, the kids loved her and we got to enjoy our meal. And what a meal. If you have not been to the Angler's Dining Room you are missing out....go...now. I can't guarantee last minute babysitting though. We eat there fairly often and have never had anything less than an outstanding meal and experience. There is a wine pairing coming up in May....just in time for my birthday...hmmm.
Onto the frazzled. I have had a pretty smooth transition to two children, but yesterday was one of those days. Lots of crying from both boys, a pee on the floor complete with jumping in it to really splash all over, a cut chin, Hudson brushing (AKA hitting with a brush) a finally napping Sawyer, a meager one hour afternoon nap from Hudson, etc. I might have been ready to waltz out the front door never to be seen again. I felt like Braden had been at work for about 20 hours. Then Hudson turned to me and very sweetly told me he loved me and Sawyer gave me a huge, toothless grin.....bliss. All is forgiven. Mommy lives to fight another day.
I feel like I have been in a rush to share this Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup recipe before the weather warms up. Again this recipe is easy, fast (ready in under half and hour) and very tasty. It also has an interesting method. Recipe adapted from here.
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup skim milk
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced small
salt and fresh pepper
4 cups (about 2 heads) broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces
1-1/2 cups shredded light sharp cheddar
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
Chop onion, carrot, celery, garlic in a chopper or mini food processor.
In a large soup pot, melt margarine. Add chopped vegetables and sauté on low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add flour, salt and pepper to the pot and stir until smooth.
Add chicken broth, milk and potatoes and set heat to high until it comes to a boil, then cover and cook on low until potatoes are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
Add broccoli florets, parmesan cheese, and stir well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered until broccoli is cooked, about 5-10 minutes. Add cheddar cheese, stir well and remove from heat.
Using an immersion blender, quickly blend part of the soup for a quick second or two. If you don't have an immersion blender, remove about 1-2 cups of potatoes and broccoli, place it in your chopper, then add it back to the soup. This helps thicken it a bit.
Turned out great. I have also made it with a broccoli and cauliflower combo, equally as good. It is very low fat for a cream soup but still has a richness and is quite filling. It also freezes well.
So here's to great food, beer, motherhood, old friends helping out and taking the wild days as they come.
The main thing I miss about living in the city is the availability of ethnic foods. Both restaurants and groceries. I can shop for clothes online (free shipping anyone?!), catch up with friends via email and watch sports events on TV. We have added a few local ethnic restaurants to our favorites list, but have yet to find a great Indian restaurant. When I worked in Surrey there were endless amazing Indian restaurants due to the large South Asian population. Soon I am going to be asking random Indian families to take me home for dinner. When ever I am over on the Mainland heading out for Indian food is a top priority. I end up gorging myself, which is never a good idea as the food tends to be pretty heavy.
I have made a few Indian dishes as home. They all turn out well, but are never as good as the real thing. I am back at it again due to lack of options. This time I tried slow cooker Chicken Tikka Masala adapted from Real Simple. It fits my very easy and fast, I have two small children, recipe requirement. I think slow cookers are like magic...insert food, turn on, leave for a few hours, dinner is done. I don't like recipes that call for some kind of cooking before adding to the slow cooker, what is the point of using a slow cooker? It should be all in as far as I am concerned. Again, this recipe passes.
1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 can tomato paste (about 4 tablespoons)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 and 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken thighs
3/4 cup low fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup low fat milk
1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, garam masala to slow cooker and stir.
2. Lay chicken pieces on top
3. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber and cilantro with the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high 3-4 hours
5. Just before serving, whisk together yogurt and milk and stir into chicken.
6. Garnish with cucumber relish.
I served it over basmati rice with a slice of PC Blue Menu Naan (which is very good for store bought in my opinion). The first time I made it I just garnished with fresh cucumbers. It seemed a little strange but added a really nice freshness. I modified the recipe by using a Greek yogurt and milk combo instead of heavy cream...worked great. This really reduces the amount of saturated fat and calories, while increasing protein and calcium. I also increased the amount of garam masala I used. It doesn't add much heat just a lot of flavour, so don't be shy. You can buy garam masala spice mix at most grocery stores. I found the one I used at Thrifty Foods. Watch your rice portions if you are going to have naan too, gets a little carbohydrate heavy. The recipe as written has been doubled by me to make extras for the freezer. It was really tasty. 100% authentic tasting, no....but close.
Fill me in on your favorite Indian restaurant that is closer than Surrey!
Today Sawyer is one month old. He made his debut in today's paper as Baby of the Month. My husband and I were watching American Idol a few weeks ago when a contestants mother mentioned he was baby of the week way back when. I thought it was funny. Now I realize that will be me. It's my right as his mother to tell one and all (and probably mention it at his graduation, wedding, etc.).
So now that we have made it through the first month I have re-entered the kitchen. I have been making a few dinners here and there. A big priority is easy and fast recipes. I have had a month to adjust, but double header poopy diapers still take time away from meal prep. When you have a baby that eats as much as Sawyer does (gained a pound in two weeks) there is a lot of poop.
This recipe for Tex-Mex Shredded Chicken could not be any easier. If you can't manage this, there are larger issues. There are only three ingredients, not that you would know given the taste of the end product. This recipe is very popular on Pinterest, but seemed too good to be true. I love being proven wrong.
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of your favorite jarred salsa
1 envelope low sodium taco seasoning
Combine salsa and seasoning in a slow cooker and stir. Add chicken. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. When done, the chicken should shred easily with two forks. Adapted from here.
With half of the chicken we made soft tacos. I froze the other half, which will probably be used for burritos, or nachos, or taco salad, or tortilla soup...endless possibilities! The chicken was very flavorful and tender. I could of ate it by the forkful. You can control how spicy it is with the salsa you choose. We went mild for our two year old. It passed his picky eater test. To keep it healthy stick with whole wheat tortillas, light sour cream and cheese, and lots of fresh veggie toppings.
Simple and delicious...passes my new mom to two test.
To see more of Erin Wallis' photos from Sawyer's newborn shoot look here.
Tiffany McFadden, RD