Hudson, Sawyer and I had a dance party in the master bedroom. This is a pretty regular event in our house. We put my husband's alarm clock radio on full blast (at Hudson's insistence) and shake it to what ever radio station is the wake up du jour. Today we heard The Rolling Stones, the chorus so fitting for toddler woes:
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need
I couldn't help but smile. It has been a rough week around here. A virus complete with fever, aches and sore throat has made its way through both boys. For extra fun Sawyer cut his first tooth at the same time. So early. I swear it is so he can protect himself from older brother. It is really hard to watch your kids feel like garbage. I have needed extra chocolate and wine to address the issue. I think we are on the up swing now...I look forward to leaving the house.
In the mean time the weather has been perfect. This is when I want easy meals that require little time in front of a stove or oven. So many better things to do when the sun is shining, but we still have to eat.
My first memory of Greek salad was when my mom used to buy it as a treat from the deli at Safeway. When Campbell River still had a Safeway. I thought it was so exotic. It continues to be a staple around here. For the last year I have been making my own dressing...I will never go back to the bottle.
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Combine together. Easy. Adapted from here.
I often make a double batch and store it in a mason jar. I use it on Greek salad the most. To make it a meal I add 2 cups of cooked, cooled whole wheat pasta (like penne) and a can of chick peas to the usual ingredients. Not into chick peas? Grab a deli roasted chicken....dinner is done. The dressing is also fabulous on green salads . It is on the more vinegar-y side, so cut it back a bit if you don't like that kind of bite. I use fresh herbs if I have them on hand for extra flavour.
Forget want...I need this tonight!
I recently taught a class for the Black Creek Community Association. Love teaching classes, I get to talk about food and answer people's questions....perfect. I focused on how to make over favorite recipes and dishes to be more healthful. During the class I was asked to share my recipe for homemade taco seasoning. Why not share here too? I am in the works of offering another class in the fall. Please share any topics you would like to hear about because I would love to see you there.
Regular readers already know that I am particularly fond of Mexican food. I started making my own spice mix a few years ago when I got tired of the cost of the taco seasoning packs and the amount of sodium (even in the reduced sodium). Plus I liked it with a little more heat. This recipe has never failed me.
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
Combine together in a bowl. Store in an air tight container. Two heaping tablespoons equals the amount in the package. Adapted from here.
Can't get easier than that. I have scaled this recipe up, it makes about 1/2 a cup of seasoning mix. I use 2 generous tablespoons of mix per pound of ground meat (choose ground chicken or turkey instead of beef to reduce saturated fat) and add about a 1/4 cup of water and let it simmer. You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the crushed chillies or adding some cayenne pepper. I really decreased the amount of salt, it can be adjusted to taste as needed. If you are feeling extra creative a nice dash of fresh cilantro after cooking is excellent.
I also use the mix to season black beans to put in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. A great way to get some extra fiber and have a meatless meal with all the protein. It is also good combined with non-fat Greek yogurt to make a dip or a great addition to a seven layer dip. Don't forget to use it in my Tex Mex shredded chicken recipe too.
The best part: you are in control. You know exactaly what's in it and can adjust based on you own tastes. You will never buy a package again.....
The sun is shining which is the perfect weather for a Mexican feast....don't forget the margaritas!
I had to re-new my drivers license today. How has it already been five years I mused to the woman at the counter. She assured me the next five years would go even faster. She gestured to my dozing baby and said next time you re-new he will be in kindergarden....wow. The last time I was in that building was when I got my license at 16. I was so nervous. I still have the slow motion image of my tester's head bouncing off the headrest when I hit the curb attempting to parallel park (both times). I passed, but was for sure a horrible driver. City living taught me how to parallel park, trial by fire. I am positive my new photo will be very flattering given that you can't smile anymore (guaranteed to look like a criminal).
The other highlight of the week was making chocolate syrup. It was ridiculously easy. My son, like most kids, loves chocolate milk. So do I actually. What I don't love is the amount of added sugar, the price or using store bought syrup.
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
I reduced the amount of sugar from the original recipe. I also doubled it when I made it as I knew it would be a hit. One cup of milk with one generous teaspoon of syrup comes in at 14 grams of sugar (12 grams from the lactose in the milk alone). For one cup of store bought milk there are 25 grams of sugar! Huge difference. I don't have a problem giving this to Hudson. I have also drizzled this syrup on frozen yogurt and strawberries, yum. I can also envision some sort of chocolate, raspberry, yogurt popsicle concoction for summer. It costs about a dollar a bottle to make...good deal.
I used a washed out red wine vinegar bottle to store mine in. Peeling off the label was extra annoying, but it looks good. If you are the crafty type you can print out one of these pretty labels.
I know how important it is to write down goals, they told us in university, I watched Oprah and had many people tell me about The Secret. Have I done much writing down of goals though? Mmmm no. It's not that I don't think about them or have any, I just don't usually write them down.
I was doing some house re-organizing as we have moved our oldest son into his big boy room in prep for the arrival of youngest son into the nursery. I happened to find a 2008 monthly planner in the closet and right there on the notes section of January are some written goals. Most are to do with financial things, but at the very bottom of the list is: Tiffany to start business. So this didn't happen in 2008, it happened last year in 2011 along with my return to work after maternity leave. When I started Tiffany McFadden Nutrition Consulting it was out of necessity. I wasn't sure how many hours I was going to get at the hospitals I work at and figured I will have to make some work for myself. It wasn't until a few months in that I realized this is actually what I had always wanted to do (I had even written it down!).
I had also thought before that I would like to write a blog, but couldn't figure out what to write about. Funny how I didn't even think about nutrition topics. When I look back on 2011 I think of many things: friends, family, vacations, adventures and of course starting this journey into blogging and my business. I am grateful to have you all as readers and to have a creative outlet in my life that brings me more joy than I ever thought it would. I am so looking forward to 2012 bringing more adventure, a new baby, my in-laws to Campbell River and maybe a few goals written down....maybe.
After a great holiday it is time to get back to some home cooked, healthy meals. I think this recipe for sun-dried tomato pesto is a quick and easy way to get back into the swing of things.
12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.
Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve.
Adapted from here.
Super fast, easy and full of flavour. I used my beloved hand-blender with the mini-processor attachment, but am sure you could do this in a Magic Bullet as well, just don't over process. I served it up with a spinach salad heavy with veggies. This meal is high in fiber, vegetarian and rich in heart healthy fats from the olive oil. It is also a great way to use up the rest of a bunch of fresh basil (I used stems and all). This pesto can also be used on pizza, as a panini spread or a topping on grilled chicken.
Thank you all again for reading, commenting, encouraging and making my 2011 a year where goals were accomplished.
One of my very best friends is getting married in about 9 days. For her bridal shower her mom bought her a recipe book that has folders so you can file all the recipes you gather and keep them relatively organized in categories (I have one myself, best thing ever). As guests we were supposed to bring a recipe to contribute. Guess what? I forgot. Really? This is what I do. So this is my make-up.
A little bit about Selena first though. We first met in dance class then went to high school together. We both headed off to Victoria in search of higher education. We ended up living together (where she told me I was fool for not using eye cream, I haven't stopped since). I was a pretty dedicated student and knew what a heavy work load was, I was in the sciences. Mmmm no, Selena was taking a program that would allow her to transfer to UBC to become a civil engineer. I have never seen someone so dedicated in my life, she was a marvel. After she headed off to UBC and so did I. She was in a male dominated field and kicking ass, loved it. Once we graduated we ended up buying condos a five minute walk apart.
By this time she was a full fledged engineer, awesome. She designs over-passes, off ramps and bridges (for real). At the same time coming over for a cook freeze frenzy before my son was born, dropping off Starbucks after he was born while I was still housebound and just pretty much being the best. She also loves to travel. She has managed combine her passions and travel the world for various work related tasks, I would call that living your dream. She is a dedicated blog reader/commenter/encourager and for that I am forever grateful.
I am so excited for her wedding because I know it will be everything she has hoped for.
So onto the recipe: home-made goat cheese. I know you are thinking that sounds crazy, time consuming and requiring some kind of pioneer training...wrong on all fronts. It is actually pretty easy and amazingly delicious. There is some time involved, but it is mostly passive time.
You do need a few things that may not be laying around your house: a thermometer and cheese cloth (found at any grocery store for under $2.00).
1 litre goat milk
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1. Line a colander with the folded over cheesecloth and set into a large bowl to catch the whey (the liquid portion).
2. Pour goat’s milk and buttermilk into a medium sized saucepan with thermometer attached (if yours doesn't clip on you can just check the temperature every so often).
3. Set heat to medium. Bring the milk to between 170°F-185°F. When the milk begins to bubble slightly and begins to curdle, remove it from the heat. You only have to stir occasionally.
4. Add 2 tbsp of lemon juice and stir, you should see it start to curdle.
5. Bring the heat down to 120°F. Ladle the curds into the cheesecloth lined colander and drain the whey into the bowl.
6. You can save the whey, it's high in protein. I threw it away, goat flavoured smoothies didn't appeal to me.
7. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and tie with with string or an elastic. Return to colander and place a plate on top of the cheesecloth. Weigh it down with a can or other heavy item.
8. Place in refrigerator for 2 hours to drain.
9. Remove from fridge, scrape into bowl and season with salt and herbs if using.
10. Use immediately or return to fridge and allow the flavours to intensify over the next 1-2 days.
11. Will keep for up to one week in the fridge.
A few notes: I was expecting large curds to form after I added the lemon juice, they are actually quite small, that is OK. The buttermilk adds a creamy texture, but I think it dulled down the goat taste so the cheese ended up having a milder flavour than what you buy in the store. I doubled the recipe when I made it to use the entire 2 liters of goat milk (I was pretty sure I wasn't going to drink it) and ended up with about 1.5 cups of cheese. Next time I am going with 100% goat milk (which you can buy at most grocery stores). You can season what ever herbs you want fresh, dried or add sundried tomatoes, endless ideas. I choose to just lightly salt mine, I wanted to try it straight up. I was thinking that I would be able to feel the texture of the curds, but you can't. It is very smooth and creamy.
I served it on bread with a drizzle of balsamic reduction as an appetizer. It was gone ASAP. How talented would you look brining this to a friends house? Oh it's no big deal, I only made fresh goat cheese. Little do they know...so easy.
When I was younger my Mom would make jam. It seemed very laborious: sterilizing, special equipment, possibility of jars blowing up, wax seals, sweating, etc. I used to see jam in the store and think why not just buy it? Well we all know the answer to that, it just doesn't taste as good. That all said I still wasn't prepared for the full on jam making undertaking.
Welcome to my life freezer jam. So much easier, and in my opinion tastier. Because you are not cooking the fruit the jam can't be stored at room temperature, instead you store it in the freezer (hence the name). When you take a jar out to be used it can be stored in the fridge for up 6 weeks. I guarantee it won't be around that long anyways. It is still a good idea to use smallish containers, the 1 liter jar may be a little much jam for 6 weeks.
This all started when we went out to my uncles house to check on things while he was away, AKA pilfer his raspberry bushes. Hudson had a great time insisting on holding the bucket while eating like crazy. There was still more than enough berries to make jam with.
You need to add something to help gel the jam, I bought a package at the grocery store specific for freezer jam. There are a few kinds out there. I chose this one because I liked that the fruit to sugar ratio was a little higher. It is no secret that there is a lot of sugar in jam. It helps to preserve the jam along with making it taste sweet. Freezer jam has less sugar than regular jam, gotta' like that. I also find that freezer jam tastes more like the actual fruit because it isn't cooked. You do have to use great tasting, ripe fruit though because there is less sugar and cooking to hide behind.
glass or plastic containers with tight fitting lids (you don't need anything fancy)
4 cups of fruit
1 1/4 cups of sugar
I used raspberries so to prep them I just mashed them in a large bowl with a potato masher. I left some bigger chunks though. If you are using other fruit like strawberries or blueberries just chop finely (don't puree). Stir in sugar and let stand for 15 minutes. Slowly sprinkle in gelling powder while stirring for 3 minutes. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir again for 1 minute. Add jam to jars, leave enough room for expansion. It's ready to eat! Can be stored in the freezer for up to a year.
Your package might be a little different, but that is the jist of it. My package called for 1 1/2 cups of sugar, but I reduced it (of course) and it still turned out fine and was plenty sweet. You don't want to play around too much as the gel to sugar ratio is important. It was so easy from start to finish maybe 30 minutes, are you kidding? I didn't have time to make my jam right after picking so I froze the berries. It had no adverse effects on the final product just thaw your fruit before using. Blackberries are in season now, so get picking and jamming.
I can imagine opening a jar on a dark winter morning and being reminded of that perfect summer night picking berries and my son's chubby, berry stained fingers and cheeks. It doesn't get much better than that.
I went to the Comox Valley Farmer’s Market on Saturday with a friend, her twin boys and my son….all in the same vehicle. Car seats galore. It was an action packed ride that included a lost apple and a foot stuck in the door handle, but we made it. Once there it was great. I love seeing what people actually grow (I try not to compare it to my first-timer veggie garden). The boys enjoyed the musical entertainment, snacks and helium balloons.
I came home with some rhubarb and cheese. I love rhubarb, probably because I like tart things. I don’t eat it that often, but have been thinking about it a lot because of the road-side signs advertising its availability. When I got home I did a quick Google search for recipes. I came across one for rhubarb chutney, sounded good but must involve some kind of processing or canning. Not so! It was actually quite easy and a way I have never used rhubarb.
Spiced Rhubarb Chutney
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes fresh rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup raisins
Combine first 8 ingredients in heavy large pot. Bring to simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion and dried raisins; increase heat to medium-high and cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.) Adapted from Bon Appetit.
I served it over barbequed pork medallions that I seasoned with a pinch of salt. The chutney had a very rich, spiced flavour that was very complex. The different spices would pop up in each bite. I reduced the amount of sugar because I like the tartness. I think it would also be good over chicken or on a multigrain baguette with a soft cheese.
I still had some left over rhubarb, so I decided to make the classic strawberry rhubarb crisp. Trying new things is good, but enjoying classics is still great too. My Mom used to make it for us. It always seemed close to my birthday (the end of May) maybe that’s why I have such good memories. Rhubarb also always reminds me of my mom warning us 1000 times that the leaves were poisonous (when she saw the rhubarb in my fridge from the market she thankfully reminded me again, for real).
Preheat the oven to 375°
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup oats
Combine white sugar, 1 tbsp flour and fruit in an 8x8 glass baking dish. Combine the rest of ingredients in a bowl. Use a fork to cut in the margarine. Top fruit with the mixture and bake for 45 min.
Serve alone or with vanilla frozen yogurt. I don’t need to tell you how good this was. To see the original recipe look here. I reduced both the brown and white sugar, the margarine, switched to whole wheat flour and increased the fruit.
Who wouldn't want their house to smell this good and who wouldn't want car seats three deep for a little adventure?
Lets talk salad dressing: sure it is available at any grocery store, but it is so easy to make….it is. If you have a Magic Bullet or some sort of blender or even a whisk or fork, you are in business.
Dinner tonight in our house was in need of a salad and therefore dressing, so into my Magic Bullet went:
½ cup olive oil
½ cup strawberries
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
1 garlic clove, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
Tonight I served it over romaine lettuce, with cucumber, snap peas, mango and goat cheese. Yum. Because it has fresh strawberries in it I would keep it in the fridge for no longer than 4-5 days.
Why do I love this? I control the salt and fat content. Trying to cut back on calories? Use less oil or skip the cheese in the salad. I also like anything that makes a salad more interesting. Plus we are squeezing in some extra fruit…yes!
There are endless recipes on the web for vinaigrettes and most are pretty easy and don’t always need a blender. I hope this encourages you to try your hand at it. Love a recipe? Feel free to share.
Tiffany McFadden, RD