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Salmon goes a long way

August 5, 2012

As you know, My Picky Kid was born out of my frustration and concern for my daughter Simone, who went through a very, VERY picky eating phase from around the age of 1-3. Things are much better know…whew.

It’s a whole different story with my new baby, Giselle. She eats and eats and EATS! It’s such a different experience and I am loving that I can plop a bunch of stuff down for her and watch her go to town shoving various items in her mouth. A horrible mess to clean up…but well worth it.

Giselle has a great appetite when it comes to fish, so instead of filling her with mercury every day (she loves her canned tuna), I’ve started making more salmon and serving that up to her. My salmon recipes are so basic, nothing fancy here, but the best way to get her to eat some is to mix it up with some plain yogurt once it’s at room temperature – or better – cold the next day. She grabs fist fills of fish and does her best to smear it in her mouth. I smile…then sigh at the mess in front of me. 😉

Here are a few of my favourite ways to prepare salmon. Tomorrow I’m going to try a completely different recipe so I’ll post that one at a later date.

Lemon Zest Salmon

Add to salmon:

  • the zest of 1/2 to 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • the juice of one lemon

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Lime Soy Salmon

Add to salmon:

  • the zest of 1 lime
  • salt & pepper
  • the juice of one lime
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Now…here’s where salmon can continue to be the “gift that keeps on giving”. After you’ve had it for dinner, and used up some leftovers with yogurt (or mayo) for a sandwich, think about making some salmon cakes. Hint: this is why I always serve fish with potatoes…so the next day I can mash the two together and fry ’em up in patties. This is really similar to the tuna nuggets recipe I posted last year.

Here’s how I do it:

Salmon cakes

Add to (flaked cold) salmon:

  • one egg, beaten
  • leftover (mashed) potatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup panko (depending on how much of the above 2 ingredients you have)

In a saucepan on medium heat, fry those suckers up in a little butter mixed with oil until golden brown. You can even prepare the patties ahead of time and refrigerate for a few hours (they’ll keep their shape better). I love serving salmon cakes and my tuna nuggets with lots of fresh lemon squeezed on top.

My picky kid photo of salmon cakes with mashed potatoes

Here they are before hitting the frying pan.

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What a good eater looks like

June 28, 2012

Oh my sweet, sweet, baby girl. Giselle is such a good eater I can honestly say that I am so relieved and delighted by this. I have never seen a baby so excited, enthusiastic, and happy about food.

What a difference from Simone!

I just had to post a collection of photos from mealtimes: from about 6 months until now (she’s just over 9 months). And wow…look how much she has grown! Not only does she approach each meal with unbridled enthusiasm…she devours nearly everything in her path. Despite the mess, I have so much fun at mealtimes with her. Most days we share a panini at lunch (I love making turkey, avocado, cheese paninis) and fresh fruit. Cottage cheese is also a favourite along with grilled cheese sandwiches. Seriously, what a great baby. Thank you karma!

Let’s call this, “A Brief Photo History of Giselle’s Eating Habits”. Or something more catchy (suggestions?)

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Behold…the vegan chocolate cake

March 29, 2012

When we returned from our vacation last month I pledged to put an end to all my baking: catastrophic, I know. But being the weak person that I am, I made 3 cakes that week and discovered this vegan-y chocolate goodness that is now a front runner in our house. I’ve backed off the baking, for now, but am always looking for an excuse to make this one as it really is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had.

And believe it or not, I’m not a big cake person.

I must admit, with Giselle getting older and my days as a human food source just about coming to an end, I can no longer justify the 4000-calorie a day diet so it’s probably good that I start eating like a real human again. It was a good ride, all those extra calories and not an ounce of guilt! But alas, all good things must come to an end and it’s time to whip this ol’ body of mine back into shape!

That doesn’t mean you don’t have to indulge on this delectable dessert though! Have at ‘er, I’m sure you’ll love it.

vegan chocolate cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake

I stumbled across this recipe one night while putting Giselle down to bed. She was in her crib settling herself and I was on the chair surfing around Pinterest on my iPhone. I saw this recipe and as soon as the baby was quiet, went downstairs and made it. Fastest cake EVER! The original recipe comes from Joy  The  Baker and I’ve modified nothing except used espresso in lieu of coffee.

I think this therefore justifies having cake for breakfast (eg. instead of your morning coffee. Ok, with your morning coffee).

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9″ bundt pan, then sprinkle with cocoa powder (instead of flour which will only “discolour” your chocolate masterpiece when you take it out of the pan)

Mix together:

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

In a separate bowl mix together:

1 cup warm coffee (I use 1 cup espresso made from my handy-dandy Nespresso maker. Two capsules = 1 cup so it’s a perfect measurement)

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Before adding the wet ingredients to the dry, add a handful (go ahead and make it a large handful) of chocolate chunks to the DRY ingredients: I buy pure dark callebaut chocolate and shave off pieces with a sharp knife. This adds a great texture to the cake. Don’t use chocolate chips. By adding these to the dry ingredients they will be coated in flour which will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of your cake once you pour it into the bundt pan.

After you have mixed all the ingredients together pour into pan (it will be thick) then bake for 30-35mins. At 30 mins check to see if cake is ready, then cook in 2 minute intervals to avoid over-cooking and drying out the cake.

Joy The Baker says to remove it from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 mins before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Sprinkle with icing sugar (I use a fine mesh colander to sprinkle the icing sugar evenly) before serving, or if you are willing to make this less vegan-y, whip up some whipping cream, add icing sugar and food colouring, and ta-da…fancy pants cake is complete!

Egg & Quinoa Muffin Cups

March 15, 2012

Seems like the latest trend around the cooking blogs these days is cooking with quinoa. Nevermind it took me a good 3 months to say “quinoa” properly, trying to figure out how to cook with it in a way that suits my taste was a bit of a challenge. And to be honest, I’m still working on it.

In the meantime, I came across a recipe on Pinterest for “cheesy quinoa bites” and liked what I saw. I’ve made these a few times now and my husband loves them. Simone is lukewarm, but that’s not bad given it’s a little unusual at first. The original source of this recipe can be found here on the blog, “So Very Blessed”.

Egg & Quinoa Muffin Cups

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa (you can cook it like pasta in a pot of boiling water, then strain it once it’s translucent and “sprouted”; or do a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa).

3 eggs beaten (I add a bit of egg white to this in case it needs a bit more fluid to the mix)

1-2 carrots grated

1/4 cup grated parmesan

2 tbsp flour

1 clove garlic

S&P as you wish

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin and set aside. Cook quinoa and once cooled, mix together with all of the above ingredients. You may have to adjust some of the proportions so that this is runny enough to be poured into the muffin cups; you don’t want this to be too runny (eg. not enough quinoa) or too solid (too much quinoa not enough egg). I had to play around with the portions the first few times to get something I was satisfied with. I use my egg whites (in a carton from grocery store) to help me adjust the liquid portion of the recipe.

Pour into muffin cups so they are approx 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Pop out of muffin tin and serve with some delicious Frank’s hot sauce. YUM!

You can change up the veg part of this recipe very easily. Use fried mushrooms instead of carrots, or grated zucchini. Also, you can add some chopped cilantro or parsley as well. I keep it pretty simple only because I know Simone will eat this with just the grated carrots, so I’m always looking to go for the easy win. 🙂

Curry from scratch

March 6, 2012

Pat pat pat. Do you hear that sound? Pat pat pat. That’s the sound of me patting myself on the back for making my own roasted curry spices for dinner tonight. This might be the end of me paying $8 a jar for pre-made curry at the grocery store. Since I’m a rookie at this one, I’ll need to spend some time perfectly it, but I just tasted my sauce that is in the crockpot right now, and damn! It’s pretty good. The remainder of this recipe is based on my Curry in a Hurry recipe posted quite some time ago.

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Here’s how I did the spices:

To 1 tbsp of rice bran oil I added the following:

  • 1 tsp of Tumeric
  • 1 tsp of Chili powder
  • 2 tsp of Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp of Cumin seeds
  • 1-2 tsp of Cardonom seeds
  • 1 tbsp Grated ginger
  • Pressed garlic (about 4-5 cloves)
  • 1 tsp salt and fresh pepper to your liking

I started by frying a finely cut shallot on med heat, then adding the garlic. After cooking for a couple of minutes (don’t let the garlic burn) I added the remaining spices, turned the heat down to low-med, and continued to stir. After 2-3 minutes I removed the newly formed curry paste from the pan and set aside.

In a crockpot I added one can of tomato sauce, one can of coconut milk, and a bag of shredded chicken (see my recipe for preparing chicken ahead of time). Then I addd the curry paste to this mixture and turned it to LOW for a couple hours, then “keep warm” until dinner time.

Back in the pan, I added a touch more oil then cooked up my carrots and chickpeas, just so they were a bit softer than raw. Then I added them to the crockpot. Taste the sauce as it cooks together and adjust any of the spices by adding more straight to the sauce. I’m a rookie making this one, so I had to play with it a bit to get it “just right”. But the end result was amazing and so delicious.

Dinner will be served in about 4 hours and I’m already excited about it! To add some heat to this dish you could add chilli flakes, but since Simone will eat this with us, that would be kind of mean. 😉 I serve my curry with basmati rice (white or brown) and infuse my rice with coconut oil.

Pat pat pat…give it a try and see if this brings about a sense of great self-satisfaction for you too. heehee.

Curry from scratch

Veggie, Bean & Barley Soup

March 2, 2012

Or soup? Or is it stew? Whatever, I don’t know and I don’t care because it’s really good and I love making it. This is more or less the same as my other Bean & Barley Soup posted quite some time ago, but this time I modified by doing the following:

  • Adding broccoli
  • Adding Chickpeas
  • Using black beans instead of kidney beans
  • Leaving out the spinach

Simone navigated around most of the veggies and had the broth, beans, barley, and even some carrot (hallelujah). This thickens up nicely for leftovers the next day which is why I say it’s a stew instead of a soup. You can thin it out by adding a bit of broth to it.

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Apricot-Balsamic Chicken

March 1, 2012

What? You say. Too fancy sounding for a kid to eat? That’s what you think. I made this dish last week and Simone had 3 servings. To be honest, I was a little annoyed because it meant Michael and I had to arm wrestle for the leftovers the next day.

The original recipe was posted by RecipeGirl, but it calls for pan frying the chicken which makes a big ol’ mess in my kitchen. So I modified it just slightly and baked in a casserole dish instead. This worked better for me since I paired it with some roasted yams so I could just use the oven for both dishes and time it perfectly (the yams take about 30-45 mins; the chicken about 30 mins depending on how much you make).

I would suggest baking the chicken with the lid on for half of your cooking time; just to allow the jam and vinegar to firm up a bit and caramelize more. Otherwise it’s very runny, but still just as tasty and delicious.

Here’s a look at how I put it all together before it went into the oven:

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Apricot-Balsamic Chicken

2 chicken breast cut into large chunks or strips

1 shallot finely cut

1 tsp oil (I used a combination of rice bran oil and coconut oil)

1/3 cup apricot jam (I LOVE the Safeway Select apricot jam)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (play around with this quantity a bit)

5-6 or a small handful of fresh sprigs of thyme (I’m too lazy to take leaves off so I just chuck these in whole then pull stems out after cooking)

S&P for seasoning

Directions

Since making dinner involves varies stop & go stages with me (out of necessity of course – tending to baby and restless 4 year old), I was able to put this together more efficiently than if I were to do it all at once. In advance, I drizzled my baking casserole dish with rice bran oil (or use olive) and then laid the chicken down. I sprinkled the chicken with salt & pepper to season it, added the thyme and the shallot.

I had to cover and refrigerate to go play chauffeur mom.

About an hour before dinner needed to be on the table, I turned the oven on to 350 degrees and put the yams in (poked with fork and let roast on a clay bake pan). I then made the rest of the sauce for the chicken – combined vinegar with jam, mixed well, then poured on top of chicken. I put this in the oven once the yams were close to half cooked.

As I said earlier, the chicken may take about 30 mins, keep an eye on it, then take the lid off once you’re about halfway done.

Before serving, remove the stems from the thyme. Oh, and I also served this up with whole wheat basmati one night (delicious) and Israeli couscous another night (also fantastic). A “nutty” grain goes well with this because it helps balance out all the sweetness from both the apricot sauce and the caramelized yams.

Go figure, last night when I made this Simone decide she wasn’t interested in dinner. What is it with kids and their hot-cold relationship with food! Oh well, she’s loved it before and will love it again. The good news: no wrestling my husband for leftovers tonight. 😉

Enjoy!