The Wonders of Spring

If you asked me what my favourite season was, I would say, Fall, hands down. cropped-cropped-dsc_0723.jpg No doubt about it.  Until recently that is.  Spring may be using her powers of persuasion against me.  Perhaps it is where we live & the fact that the last two winters have been down right balmy (& not winter-ish at all).  Perhaps it is the fact that spring this year actually feels like summer & I love it.

But most likely, my newfound love of spring comes from the fact that I am seeing spring for the first time, through new eyes.  Not my eyes, of course, but the eyes of my daughters. My twins will be three this June & although this is clearly not their first spring, I feel it’s the first one that really matters.  It’s the first one where they really “get” what spring means.  They understand when I tell them about flowers & the birds returning & why things are getting green.  They have the vocabulary to ask me questions, as my oldest does frequently… “What’s this Mom?”  I love explaining things to them & answering their questions.  I love pointing out the blossoms on the trees, which I have always thought to be gorgeous.

I love pointing out each new bud on the trees, each little plant poking its head out of the ground.  I love how green everything is & how we can find every colour of the rainbow in our yard.  We have started talking about the vegetable garden & all the things we are going to grow this year & how the girls are going to help me.  We even started some seeds the other day.

As a student for so many years, fall was always seemed like the start of a new year for me, much more so than January.  But now… now it’s been 10 years since I was a student & while I still love fall, it doesn’t have the same wonder & promise of new beginnings… but spring, maybe spring does.

Here is a glimpse of what spring looks like at my place… because clearly I take way too many photos!  Happy Spring!


Winter Wonderland

One of the things that drew my husband & I to our house, apart from some great features indoors, was the beautiful outdoors.  Our tree lined driveway & yard are two of our favourite things about the house.2016 Winter Yard-0456 The driveway is perhaps my favourite though.  I love to walk down it looking up at the trees anytime of year but especially in the summer & fall when the leaves are full.  The trees are a great marker for people coming to our house & also a great way for our girls to identify that we have arrived home.  They too love to walk down the driveway although I’m not sure they appreciate the trees just yet the way that their parents do.

The rest of the yard is pretty great too, front & back.  This time of year (when we actually have snow – which hasn’t happened much this winter), I love to look out the windows & see the snow sparkling on the ground & on the trees as the sun comes up.2016 Winter Yard-0376 I also love to see the wildlife tracks running through the undisturbed snow.  There is definitely something to be said for living in the country.

This morning I got inspired & pulled out my zoom lens, something I haven’t done in a LONG time.  I was looking out the window while changing one of the girls & noticed a chipmunk, perched on a box near the garage.  He was sitting ever so still, almost like a statue.  I was sure by the time I got my camera he would be gone but he wasn’t. 2016 Winter Yard-0437.jpg Must be my lucky day.  After snapping a few photos of him, I was drawn to the frozen droplets on the tree branches from the storm a few days ago.

Our yard is really great for photos, anytime of year.

The birds have been going crazy today too.  My husband filled the feeders on the weekend, something he hasn’t done for a while, & the birds appear to be very happy with him.  I saw woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals, doves & a bunch of little birds I can’t identify!  But they were sure having a feast in our yard.  2016 Winter Yard-0518

Since I’ve mostly been writing about feeding my “little birds” the last little while I thought I’d do something different today.  Here’s a few of the shots I snapped in the yard this morning.

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Macaroni & Cheese 2.0

Macaroni & cheese is probably one of the ultimate comfort foods.  I know it is for me.  There is nothing better on a cool & damp day than a big bowl of macaroni & cheese.  I believe it to be the ultimate comfort food so much so that I have already shared this recipe, about 4 years ago, not long after I started this blog.  It may actually have been the first recipe I shared since my family has loved it for years (I am not even sure where the recipe came from anymore though… I think it may be from a leaflet a food company put out).  But here I am, once again writing about macaroni & cheese…. I guess it has that kind of pull over me.  This time though, I suppose we could call it Macaroni & Cheese 2.0.  My children, as most kids, also love macaroni & cheese.  Little S loves any kind of pasta really… & she loves cheese, so pasta & cheese, it’s a winning combination for us!

This isn’t just my standard recipe for macaroni & cheese rehashed though.  It’s for macaroni & cheese with hidden cauliflower & squash, a macaroni & cheese that Little S loves.  In fact, I even made it with quinoa noodles & still, she gobbled it up.  It would seem that with her as long as I start with something she likes I can hide pretty much anything in it.

When sitting down to write this it became apparent to me that I watch FAR TOO MUCH Bubble Guppies. If you’re unfamiliar with Bubble Guppies, you likely don’t have young children… if you did, you would know. My girls have loved Bubble Guppies since they were about six months old.  It’s almost an obsession, really, but if they are fussy I can put on Bubble Guppies & all will be good.  bubble guppies 3Bubble Guppies is a show about 6 fish children – Molly, Gil, Deema, Goby, Oona & Nonny – and their teacher Mister Grouper & all of the adventures they have at school.  They learn about everything under the sea (my pun) & sing & dance along the way.  In every episode at lunch time there is a lunch pun/joke when the kids open their lunch boxes.  Often it is Nonny who comes out with the lunch joke, but not always.  I will admit many of the jokes make me groan but I still remember them! truck a roni & cheeseWhile thinking of Marconi & Cheese, Nonny’s lunch puns kept popping into my head… mac-a-pony & cheese, truck-a-roni & cheese, track-a-roni & cheese, macaroni & trees, kanga-roni & cheese… I could go on but I won’t.  Clearly I watch this show way too much.

But I digress, this post isn’t about Bubble Guppies, although I probably know enough about them that I could write about them.  So, back to macaroni & cheese.  Once again, the idea to add veggie puree came from Deceptively Delicious but I wasn’t sure about the recipe.  I knew the recipe my family has used for years was good & there was no reason why I couldn’t just add the veggies to that.  Deceptively Delicious suggests adding cauliflower or squash puree to the cheese sauce, I added both!  The trick to hiding veggies is not adding too much thus making them “detectable!”  But I was pretty sure that I could add both squash & cauliflower to this cheese sauce & my girls would be none the wiser… I was right!

This time when I made the mac & cheese for the girls I decided to up the health factor even more besides just adding veggies.  I also used Quinoa noodles.

My girls eat these noodles plain all the time & love them so I figured why not add them to the cheesy goodness!  I cook my noodles while also making the sauce (I’m always multi-tasking these days) & this recipe can come together fairly quickly.  If using quinoa noodles for the first time, know that they cook faster than regular pasta.  I find these noodles are usually done in about 7 minutes but be sure not to overcook them because they just turn to mush.  I also find the quinoa noodles don’t bulk up as much as regular noodles so you may actually want to cook a little more than what the recipe suggests.  If you don’t, you may find yourself with too much cheese sauce (though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you like it really cheesy).IMG_3256

While your noodles are cooking, you’ll want to start the cheese sauce.  If you don’t have shredded cheese on hand, shred some first.  Lately, I’ve been buying shredded cheese a lot, despite the extra expense, just because it’s faster & easier with two little girls running around.  I like to have everything ready & close at hand before starting the cheese sauce as it needs to be constantly stirred.  So, add the butter to the pan & let’s get this show on the road.  Once melted, stir in the flour & seasonings & blend well.  Add the milk, stirring constantly until thickened.  The higher you have the heat, the faster it will thicken but you have to watch it closely so as not to burn your milk & ruin your sauce.  Once thickened, add cheese, cauliflower puree & squash puree.

The cauliflower disappears right away & the squash simply gives your cheese sauce a nice orange colour.  I had both cauliflower & squash puree in the freezer this time, which meant I didn’t have to spend the extra time making purees first (I was able to pull the mac & cheese together in just a little more than half an hour).  Freezing the puree in quarter to half cup portions in Ziploc bags means that it only takes a few minutes to defrost in a sink full of water.IMG_3252

Once you have added your puree, the cheese sauce is finished & you are one step closer to delicious homemade mac & cheese.  Mix the sauce with the noodles & pour into a greased baking dish.  Mix up the bread crumb & Parmesan topping & spread over noodles.


At this point you can put this dish right into the oven to heat if it’s close to dinnertime.  Or, you can cover it & put in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.  I often do all of my meal prep in the mornings while my girls are napping, so at this point it’s usually off to the fridge for my mac & cheese.  When you’re ready, bake for around half an hour until the top is golden & it’s heated through.  Serve & enjoy!


Now, my mac & cheese is probably not as healthy as the recipe in Deceptively Delicious even if I did make it with quinoa noodles & two purees instead of just one.  My recipe has the crumb topping as well which the other does not.  But I can guarantee that mine tastes good, real good.  As I previously mentioned, even my picky Miss S gobbles this up, just like she did before I started adding veggie purees! IMG_3260 For this, I am thankful.  As she becomes increasingly picky I fear this might be the only thing I’ll be able to get her to eat.  And if that’s the case, then I will likely always have Nonny’s lunch puns about macaroni & cheese in my head! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Macaroni & Cheese 2.0

2 cups macaroni (or other pasta – this time quinoa)

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. flour

Nutmeg & pepper to taste

2 cups milk

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/4 cup squash puree

1/2 cup cauliflower puree

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare macaroni as package directs & drain.  In large saucepan melt butter, add flour & seasonings & blend well over low heat.  Add milk & cook, stirring constantly until thickened.  Add cheddar cheese, squash and/or cauliflower puree & stir until smooth.  Remove from heat, add sauce to macaroni (or vice versa) & stir well.  Pour into well greased baking dish.  Top with mixture of bread crumbs, buter & Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden & heated through.



Kale Chips

My unofficial new year’s resolution was to try cooking a little more healthy this year… now this isn’t to say that my family eats poorly, far from it.  And with needing to find sneaky ways of getting more veggies into Little Miss S, without even trying that hard, the whole family is eating better.  I say it’s my “unofficial resolution” because I didn’t decide this on January 1st.  I’ve just been trying a lot of new healthy recipes, many of which are meatless.  Maybe, though, it’s my way of justifying to my husband why he has eaten a number of meatless meals since the beginning of the new year.  Or perhaps all of this is the influence of Pinterest.

Yes, Pinterest.  About a month ago I finally joined the rest of the world & signed myself up for Pinterest.  It’s not like I didn’t know it existed… I did.  I just thought it was a huge time hog & would consume too much time I didn’t have.  Nothing has changed, I still don’t have a ton of time to spare, in fact, it’s even less now that I’ve really discovered Pinterest. I admit it, I’m hooked.  I have found so many great recipes on there (including the one for Kale Chips), am researching how to build my garden this year, have come across a number of creative ways to entertain my kids, discovered how to make a “restaurant kit” (I will write more on this later!) for my girls & so many other things.  I’ve used Pinterest a lot.

So, back to Kale Chips. IMG_3573 I had a bunch of kale in my fridge, likely because it looked good at the grocery store & I thought I should make something with kale.  A friend of mine had also mentioned making kale chips for her children & that they loved them.  So, I thought, why not?  I searched kale chips on Pinterest & here we are.  I have to say, I loved these kale chips…  Crunchy, salty, good for you… what more could you ask for?

This recipe is incredibly easy & does not take long at all to make.  All you need is a bunch of kale, some oil & some salt.  It will seem like you’re making a lot (I had four cookie sheets worth!) but the kale cooks down a lot.  Perhaps the most time consuming part of the whole thing is washing the kale, tearing it into “chip sized” pieces & drying the kale.  It is important for the “crunchiness” of the chips that the kale be good & dry… so take the time & don’t skip the salad spinner step!IMG_3557

Once you have your kale washed & dry, transfer to a large bowl giving you lots of room for mixing.  IMG_3559

The recipe I used suggested tossing the kale with two tablespoons of olive oil.  My friend Vanessa, who was the one who put the idea of kale chips in my head, told me she uses avocado oil for her kale chips.  I’ve started using avocado oil for a lot of things (since it has a higher smoke point) & used it for my kale chips too.IMG_3564 I used two tablespoons but found it was almost too much so next time I will probably use less.  After pouring the oil over the kale, massage it in with your fingers, making sure all of your kale pieces are well coated.

Next, lay out your kale pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Parchment paper is one of my favourite things.  I use it with almost everything I cook in the oven.  It just makes clean up so much easier & I like the way food turns out when I’ve used parchment.  If you don’t use parchment, you need to try it – it will change your life!  The recipe stressed making sure there is no overlap of the chips, so I tried my best… perhaps why I ended up with four cookie sheets!IMG_3566

Next sprinkle your chips with salt & pepper (if you desire).  Since I was hoping my girls would eat these chips, I skipped the pepper this time.  Once salted, place your chips in the oven at 275F & bake for 18-20 minutes or until your chips are crispy.  IMG_3570Remove from the oven, cool & enjoy!  If you don’t eat them all in one shot (it is tempting since they are so tasty), store in an airtight container to ensure your chips are still crispy the next day.

I tried giving these kale chips to my girls thinking they might like the saltiness of them & thinking, perhaps foolishly, that this would be a really sneaky way of getting Miss S to eat some more veggies.  I think they liked them, but they honestly didn’t eat many because they were more interested in crumbling the chips into tiny little pieces.  But we shall try them again since I thought they were wonderful.  I actually have a bunch of kale in the fridge & plan on making these again this week, that’s how much I loved them.  Hopefully you find them as delicious as I did!

For the full Crispy Kale Chips recipe I found on Pinterest, see Culinary Hill Crispy Kale Chips.



Lunch – Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

If breakfast is the easiest meal of the day to prepare, lunch is the hardest.  I don’t really like lunch, to be honest.  Like I said before, coming up with three nutritious & delicious meals a day is damn hard work.  Two I can manage, but the third puts me over the edge.  When I was just making lunch for myself (or my husband & I) lunch seemed easier… it didn’t really matter what we ate, as long as it was something to fill the void.  I was not as concerned about the nutritional value of my lunch as I am for the girls (I know, I should be, but hey, I know I eat a variety of foods that are good for me).  Now though, trying to make sure they get some kind of protein & some fruits & veggies, that’s a challenge.

For  a while, lunch wasn’t too bad.  They liked tofu (it’s hit & miss with Miss S these days) or I could make them spinach & eggs in muffin cups (Miss S won’t eat that anymore either).  These were two of our lunch staples, combined with some fruit & yogurt, but as you can imagine, the picky tastes of Miss S has ruined that.  I am actually finding that the girls have differing tastes at lunch, which is frustrating, because I don’t really want to be making two separate lunches.  I want us all to be able to eat the same things.  Miss S likes quesadillas (Little K not so much), they like perogies, peanut butter sandwiches (peanut butter is only a recent addition to their diets) & grilled cheese sandwiches.  But we can’t eat those things every day!  In addition to whatever main thing we are eating, I always try to give the girls some fruit & depending on how well they are eating, I round out the meal with some Greek yogurt… I find Greek yogurt is a good way of helping to fill them up but also get some protein into them.  I feed the yogurt to them at lunch though… feeding themselves yogurt is more of a mess than I can handle midday! (We strategically eat yogurt by ourselves… only on nights when we are having a bath… Miss S just makes too much of a mess!)IMG_2153

I will admit that Deceptively Delicious has given me a few new ideas for lunch & that the addition of peanut butter has also helped.  When I am really stuck, this is what we have.  It’s quick & easy & I always have everything to make a PB sandwich.  A few weeks ago I did try a recipe out of Deceptively Delicious for Tortilla “Cigars”, which is basically cream cheese, cheese & some pureed veg, creamed together & wrapped up in tortilla shells.  They sounded good to me & I thought the round shapes would be fun to eat for the girls, but they weren’t a huge hit.  They ate them one day but not the next…

There is, however, a recipe for grilled cheese with a twist… a twist of squash.  Now before you go & turn your nose up & ask me why I am messing with good old traditional grilled cheese, hear me out.  The squash melts into the cheese (it is important to use cheddar for camouflage purposes) & it really does not taste any different than a regular grilled cheese.  Yes, I have eaten it.

Adding squash to grilled cheese really is the perfect deception because it’s the same colour as the cheese, if you use cheddar.  The recipe in Deceptively Delicious suggests that you could also use sweet potato puree.  While I have not used sweet potato in a sandwich I did use it once when making quesadillas for my girls & they loved it.

The key here is using shredded cheese as the recipe suggests & it has to be “real cheese” as I refer to it, meaning it can’t be a cheese slice.

When I was little, my Poppa used to make my brothers & I  “melted cheese” as a snack before breakfast (only at your grandparents house do you get snacks before breakfast!).  We used to think this was the best thing ever, when really it was a processed cheese slice melted on a piece of bread.  I’m not even sure if I would eat this now but it sure tasted good then.

Okay, now that I have gone down memory lane, back to the sandwiches.  In her cookbook, Jessica Seinfeld, recommends making up a bunch of purees & then freezing them so you always have purees at your disposal.  I don’t know about you but I don’t really have time for this (though it sounds like a great plan).  I have two toddlers!  It’s hard enough to accomplish what I do with two kids hanging off my legs most of the time.  If I have decided to make a recipe I will just make the puree up then (my food processor is one of my new best friends – along with my dishwasher & dust buster!).  I will usually make extra though, so that I can at least have one portion in the freezer for next time.  I have found that the zippered snack bags (which are about half the size of sandwich bags) are the perfect size for holding half a cup of puree – the standard measure for most of the recipes in Deceptively Delicious.

I must admit that I only followed this recipe exactly the first time I made these sandwiches, since then, I wing it.  It’s grilled cheese after all, really not that difficult, even if you are adding a little squash.  The Deceptively Delicious recipe calls for half a cup of shredded cheese & half a cup of puree.  This makes two very thick sandwiches – far too much filling for a toddler sandwich in my opinion.  So, now I only use a couple tablespoons of squash puree & maybe slightly more than a quarter cup of cheese (sorry, that’s as precise as I get).  The recipe also calls for margarine & salt to be added to the cheese/squash mixture.  I added salt once but have never added the marg (as my Nannie used to say!).  Jessica Seinfeld seems to love non-stick cooking spray & uses it in her grilled cheese recipe (in most of her recipes actually) instead of buttering the bread. Personally, I don’t see why you need to mess with a good thing & just used butter on the bread as I usually would.

So, in a nutshell, puree your squash (or thaw it as I did this time), shred your cheese (or buy shredded cheese – something I have been doing more & more just to save time), mix together, butter your bread & build your sandwich.  IMG_3309Cook as you would a regular grilled cheese, browning both sides until the cheese is gooey & melted through.   When all the cheese is melted you would never know there is squash in there merely from appearances!  Remove from the pan, cut on the diagonal (my preference!), add ketchup (also my preference – although I don’t yet let my girls have ketchup – Miss S would just eat the ketchup) & enjoy. IMG_3311 If you’re being really fancy, I like dill pickles on the side too.  On a side note, this squash/cheese mixture works really well in quesadillas for lunch as well.  My girls love this mixture in both sandwich form & quesadilla form, with picky Miss S even eating all of the cheese filling before she eats all the bread or tortilla shell.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (from Deceptively Delicious)

1/2 cup shredded reduced fat Cheddar Cheese

1/2 cup sweet potato or butternut squash puree

1 tbsp. trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread

1/4 tsp salt

4 slices whole-wheat bread

Nonstick cooking spray

1 tsp olive oil

In a medium bowl, mix the cheese, vegetable puree, margarine & salt.  Spread two slices of the bread with the cheese mixture & top with the other two slices.

Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray & set it over medium heat.  When the skillet is hot, add the oil.  Put the sandwiches in the pan & spray the tops with cooking spray.  Cook 4 to 5 minutes per side, until the bread is crisp & the filling is melted.

Makes 2 sandwiches


Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day.  Not only is it an important way to start the day, I’m also usually starving when I wake up.  While pregnant with the girls I actually used to eat two breakfasts!  One, as soon as I got up (around 7) & then another with my husband, when he was finally ready for breakfast, somewhere around 9. I was eating for three, right?

To me, there is no better way to start the day then with a good cup of coffee, an omelette filled with mushrooms, spinach & cheese, some potatoes & some toast.   Delicious!  Of course, I certainly don’t eat this every day… though coffee is a necessity no matter what else I am eating!  Image result for coffeeBreakfast while I was working usually consisted of granola & yogurt, or some kind of cereal & toast… whatever was quick & easy before heading out the door.  Weekends were a little more relaxed, with my husband & I often making bacon (he loves bacon!) & some kind of eggs for breakfast.

I think I love breakfast so much partly because now it is one of the easiest meals a day to prepare for the little munchkins.  I think they share their mother’s love of breakfast.  We always start out with fruit.  Half a banana & whatever other kind of fruit we may have, usually blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.  Then comes the “real breakfast” &   whether it is pancakes (even pink ones!), waffles or French Toast, they love it.  Scrambled eggs & toast is a favourite too although we have recently had to switch up the eggs due to the changing tastes of little Miss S.  I believe it to be a texture thing with her & that she no longer likes the texture of scrambled eggs.  It was suggested to me that I add a mashed banana to her eggs & cook the egg/banana mixture like a pancake.  Honestly, to me, this sounds disgusting!  But I don’t really like cooked bananas unless they are in muffins or bread.  Both of my girls, however, seem to like this banana pancake.  Since their breakfast usually includes banana anyways, this is a great way to still get Miss S to eat eggs!  If you are reading this, Chris, thanks for the suggestion!

Recently we ventured a little further astray & tried oatmeal.  Now, I love oatmeal & eat it regularly but until the girls were better with a spoon, I was leery of trying oatmeal with them.  One morning recently though I just thought, let’s try it.  I made oatmeal with shredded apple in it & they both gobbled it up.  I’m not sure Miss S was thrilled at first but she came around.  Little K, however, did awesome with her spoon & just shovelled it in.  This morning when I made it Little K decided to take a page out of her sister’s book & make a huge mess while eating her oatmeal & low & behold, wouldn’t her sister be kind of tidy for once! These two never cease to amaze me.

Which bring us to oatmeal, with pumpkin.  I thought it was pretty tasty & so did the girls. IMG_3292 This recipe I did take out of Deceptively Delicious & it just happened to work out that I had pumpkin in the fridge seeing as I made pumpkin waffles for breakfast yesterday.  I realize that most people do not have the time on a Tuesday morning to make their children homemade waffles (one of the many perks of being a stay at home Mom!) but trust me, you’ll have time to make Oatmeal on a Wednesday.  This recipe literally takes 5 minutes to make.  Once the milk has heated you are pretty much there… add the oatmeal, cook for a couple minutes & voila, a hearty, stick to your ribs breakfast for your kidlets!  I eat everything that I make the girls these days (they give me the evil stare down if I am not eating the same thing) & this oatmeal is delicious… with the addition of cinnamon & vanilla you can hardly even taste the pumpkin – though it is visible due the slightly orange colour.IMG_3280

Oatmeal (with Pumpkin or Sweet Potato) – Recipe from  Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

1 cup nonfat (skim) milk

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup maple syrup)

1/4 cup canned pumpkin or sweet potato puree

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

1/4 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

1 cup old fashioned oats

2 tsp natural peanut butter (optional – I didn’t add this)

Dried fruit & nuts (optional – didn’t add this time either)

Pure maple syrup for serving

In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, if using, & spice.  IMG_3274Bring to a gentle boil & stir in the oatmeal.  Reduce the heat & simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until the oatmeal is soft & creamy.  Stir in peanut butter, if using.

Spoon oatmeal into bowls & sprinkle with dried fruit & nuts, if you like & serve warm with maple syrup.


Serves 2 (or two toddlers & an adult!)



Yes, that’s it.  It’s that easy.  Since my girls still haven’t learned how to blow on things to cool them down, their bowls of oatmeal went straight into the fridge to cool down.  And since I used maple syrup in the oatmeal, I didn’t top it with anymore.  While I often cook with maple syrup for the girls, I have not yet let them have it on their pancakes or waffles & was not about to start with oatmeal.  I need to keep a few trick up my sleeve for when they get a bit older.  The first time I made oatmeal for the girls I followed proportions in this recipe, though I added apple instead of pumpkin.  I found that the brown sugar made it very sweet, which is why I tried maple syrup this time.  I think I even used a little less than a quarter cup.  But that’s just my tastes.

Breakfast is just the start… I’m thinking lunch & dinner will follow shortly.


Pink Pancakes

Hi!  It’s me… do you remember me?  Probably not.  It’s been ages since I’ve posted, about a year, in fact.  But I’m back!  And I’m feeling inspired & ready to write… I hope.  One of two things could happen however to ruin my good intentions.  First, I could be my own worst enemy & the perfectionist in me could feel that what I am writing is never “good enough” to post… this will lead to editing & re-editing, changing, adding, deleting…Sigh… such is the life of a perfectionist.  And speaking of life… the second thing that could happen is that life might simply get in the way!  You remember I have twins, right?  They make my life wonderfully busy but at the end of the day, there often isn’t time for anything else.  When I began posting again at this time last year (yes, I am well aware this seems to be a pattern) I felt exactly as I do now… I felt inspired, I had so many ideas, I had really good intentions.  The girls were sleeping better & I felt I had a little more time… & then… BAM!  They weren’t sleeping, they were teething, there were meals to make, there was laundry to do, there was playing to be done, the house to be cleaned, sleep to be had (when the girls let me) & no time for this.  But I’m going to try it again, so please bear with me!

So, here we are in 2016.  How did that happen?!  I am another year older (I will be 35 this year but that is a whole other post), I have a few extra pounds & shorter hair, but I am still ridiculously happy. My little noodles (which I like to call the girls, amongst probably a hundred other nicknames) are by far the best thing to have ever happened to me (besides of course my husband, for without him, those little noodles would not have existed).  Where my girls were 6 months old last time I posted they are now 18 months old & their own little people.  I still call them my babies (& probably always will) but they are toddlers.  They run, they climb, they laugh, they play, they act silly (no, they act crazy!), they eat “real food”, they give hugs… they are wonderful.

The thought of leaving these two little monkeys (remember I said I had a hundred nicknames for them) was too much for me & so I decided not to return to work after my mat leave ended (in truth, staying home with my children has been something I wanted to do since well before I had any).  So these two little girls are my life & everything I do, is for them.  I love being a stay at home Mom, though of course, this doesn’t come without challenges, especially since my husband travels for work & I am left solo parenting the majority of the time.  This means, I make 95% of the decisions, about everything.  When to sleep, what to wear, when to play, when to eat & what to eat…

It’s the “what to eat” that has become the biggest challenge for me.  I now completely understand why mothers the world over dread mealtime & come to hate cooking.  Coming up with three healthy & nutritious but good tasting meals a day is damn hard work!!  Life was simple when my girls were only drinking milk… make bottles & feed, easy.  Starting solid foods was fun & exciting, making homemade fruit & veggie purees & seeing what they liked & didn’t like.

Now that they have sampled more tastes & textures they are developing their own palates.  Little Miss K will eat just about anything.  She is not really picky at all, although when she starts to get full she will often start throwing things to the floor.  Miss S on the other hand, has become very picky.  She will often decide whether or not she likes something merely but touching it to her tongue… if it’s on the “do not like list” she will make a face & then spit it back out or throw it on the floor.  She wasn’t always this way, however, she used to be a very good eater, shovelling things into her mouth as fast as she could.  While more picky now, she is still a very animated eater & it is quite entertaining to watch her.  Miss S will eat something one day & then spit it out the next.  It’s a bit of a food roller coaster with her some days & lately I’ve been having a hard time getting veggies into her.  Both of my girls love pretty much all fruit, which definitely makes my job of feeding them easier.  They love muffins or any other kind of carbs, especially Miss S, who’s favourite food currently, I think, is pizza.  Miss K will eat most veggies, gobbles them up in fact, but not Little S.  I was really starting to struggle until my sister-in-law recommended a cookbook to me, which is all about hiding fruits & veggies in food kids (& adults) already like.  This idea is genius…why had I not thought of this earlier?  I bought the book straight away & got down to cooking.

I bought Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld & love this book.  While I have already made a number of the recipes (which even my picky Miss S has gobbled up), I think this book has helped me the most by giving me inspiration.  It’s made me look at fruit & veggies differently & I have hidden additional veggies in all kinds of dishes that are part of my standard repertoire.  I’ve made mashed potatoes with cauliflower, Sheppard’s pie & pasta sauce with pureed broccoli & carrots hidden in, lasagna with all kinds of hidden veggies & turkey meatloaf with pureed carrots, just to name a few.

A little internet searching also led me to a similar cookbook (& website – The Sneaky Chef – I am going to have to look more closely at this!) about being sneaky with fruits & vegetables.  Although I don’t have The Sneaky Chef, it looks very similar to Deceptively Delicious & really, the goal is all the same, getting our kids (& husbands!) to eat more fruits & vegetables.

So, back to my picky Miss S.  I think I tried a recipe the day after my book arrived & low & behold, she ate everything I put in front of her.  I wanted to jump for joy!  I think my first attempt was Rice Balls, which were made with rice, chicken & sweet potato.  Oh, did I mention she often won’t eat meat either?  She loved these rice balls – one point for Mommy.

The added benefit of this book is that I’m not just getting my kids to eat more veggies, the hubby & I are as well!  I want my girls to enjoy a variety of foods & grow up enjoying meals that are not only good for them but taste good as well.  I have been re-inspired & am motivated to cook.  I feel devious cooking like this, but it’s rather fun.  Mealtime is still a challenge for me, but it’s a new challenge, a good one.  What can I hide in this dish?  Will the girls eat it, will they like it?  It makes me feel better about letting them try a piece of that brownie at lunch – they think they are getting a treat – but I know there are also veggies hidden underneath that chocolate.  Now, I am sure that with writing this, everyone who comes to our house for a meal will now be suspicious about what they are eating… but if it’s good for you, what does it matter if I threw a few extra veggies in?

But all of this leads us back to Pink Pancakes.  You were probably wondering why this post is titled Pink Pancakes & I had not mentioned them once till now.  Pink Pancakes are part of my motivation for getting back to writing here.  Last week I made my girls pink pancakes for breakfast.  They turned out a vibrant pink colour & were quite pretty, I thought, perfect for two little girls.  I snapped a few photos & posted them to Facebook, asking if anyone could guess the secret ingredient. IMG_3050

Beets was the correct answer!  Yes, I made pancakes with beets in them.  And no, they did not taste like dirt.  My cousin thought I was cruel for feeding these beet pancakes to my daughters… but in actuality, they gobbled up the pancakes just like they do every time I make pancakes, beets or not.  What surprised me was how many friends commented on my photos & were amazed that I had gotten my toddlers to eat beets (a vegetable many adults do not eat themselves).  Many of the comments expressed the same frustrations with picky eaters that I had felt with my Little S.  Turns out getting toddlers to eat their veggies is tricky business for most parents, not just me!  Many mothers were interested in where I had gotten the recipe & this got me to thinking… If I make something new that is “deceptively delicious,” to borrow the phrase, & my kids like it, I should write about it.  Maybe someone will see it & say hey, maybe my kid WOULD eat that…


Although I got the idea for pancakes with beets in them from the cookbook, I just used my own recipe & added beet puree (& vanilla Greek yogurt).  The wonderful thing about pancakes is that you can add so many different things to a standard pancake recipe to make them more healthy.  I almost always add ground flax seed to mine.  One time I added grated apple.  I’ve added blueberries, raspberries & strawberries.  I’ve made them with applesauce.  The possibilities, really, are endless.  One thing working in my favour at the moment is that my kids are still young enough that they don’t question why their pancakes are pink, they just eat them.  Never would you get my three year old nephew to eat pink pancakes!  But why not add blueberry puree & make them blue?  He might eat them then….

This pancake recipe is the one my family has used for years… it is tried, tested & delicious, no matter how you make them.  The recipe originally came from the Canadian Living Cookbook.

Basic Pancakes (Makes 12 pancakes)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I often use half whole wheat)

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tbsp. granulated sugar (sometimes I use maple syrup instead)

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tbsp. melted butter or oil

Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar & salt.  In separate bowl, beat together egg, milk & melted butter or oil.  Add dry ingredients to liquid, mixing until almost smooth.  If making Pink Pancakes, add 1/4 cup beet puree & stir until mixed through.

Heat skillet or griddle over medium heat; brush with oil.  Pour batter onto griddle using about 1/4 cup for each pancake (I make small pancakes if I am making them for the girls, but larger ones for adults).  When the under side is brown & bubbles break on top side (1-2 minutes), turn over & bake 30 to 60 seconds longer or until second side is brown.

I hope you enjoy these pancakes, whether you make them pink or not.  I know we love them & if your kids are at an age where they can help you in the kitchen, get them involved.  My niece & nephews used to love helping me make pancakes!

My goal for the moment, apart from getting my kids to eat more veggies, is to post once a week (at least) about what we’ve been eating & what the girls have really liked.  For now though, it’s time to figure out what to make for lunch!