Our Week (so far)

A fairly regular, if not weekly, post to share photos of random moments in our lives. No particular rhyme or reason to them, just things we’ve done, or small bits of our lives I’ve finally taken notice of. Thanks for popping by and taking a peek into our week, so far:

Isn't he just adorable?! Trying to capture some of the more simple moments with Sammy these days. He spends multiple times a day looking out the window, waiting for daddy to come home. If he thinks he hears hubby's old truck pull up, Sam climbs up on the couch to look out the window. Partly excited to have daddy home and partly excited to watch daddy park his truck and trailer.
Isn’t he just adorable?! Trying to capture some of the more simple moments with Sammy these days. He spends multiple times a day looking out the window, waiting for daddy to come home. If he thinks he hears hubby’s old truck pull up, Sam climbs up on the couch to look out the window. Partly excited to have daddy home and partly excited to watch daddy park his truck and trailer.
The big experiment this week was homemade rhubarb ketchup. Turned out super tasty and processed a bunch of jars. Now they're sitting on our pantry shelves, thus beginning the preserve season. Actually, Marcus started us off by picking radishes and asparagus. Shelves will slowly start to fill from here on out. Find the recipe for the rhubarb ketchup on the "My Living Nutrition" blog (http://mylivingnutrition.com/2013/06/29/homestyle-rhubarb-ketchup/)
The big experiment this week was homemade rhubarb ketchup. Turned out super tasty and processed a bunch of jars. Now they’re sitting on our pantry shelves, thus beginning the preserve season. Actually, Marcus started us off by picking radishes and asparagus. Shelves will slowly start to fill from here on out. Find the recipe for the rhubarb ketchup on the “My Living Nutrition” blog (http://mylivingnutrition.com/2013/06/29/homestyle-rhubarb-ketchup/)
We had a surprise harvest of garlic scapes from our garden (pretty sure hubby must have slipped them in at some point since he's growing them for his CSA customers). We also harvested our first tomato of the season!! The vines are loaded and this hot weather is helping them ripen in record time (insert proud tomato growing mama smile).
We had a surprise harvest of garlic scapes from our garden (pretty sure hubby must have slipped them in at some point since he’s growing them for his CSA customers). We also harvested our first tomato of the season!! The vines are loaded and this hot weather is helping them ripen in record time (insert proud tomato growing mama smile).
So this happened finally... It's probably looong overdue, but converted Sam's crib to a toddler bed. He's been ready for a while, but this poor mama, hasn't been. Don't want my baby growing up, but looks like I can't stop it ;-)
So this happened finally… It’s probably looong overdue, but converted Sam’s crib to a toddler bed. He’s been ready for a while, but this poor mama, hasn’t been. Don’t want my baby growing up, but looks like I can’t stop it 😉
Simple pleasures... green smoothie in the morning. Made from 1 banana, 1 cup of coconut milk, and 2 cups fresh spinach from the garden. Never get tired of fresh veggies from the garden or all the tasty fruit in season right now.
Simple pleasures… green smoothie in the morning. Made from 1 banana, 1 cup of coconut milk, and 2 cups fresh spinach from the garden. Never get tired of fresh veggies from the garden or all the tasty fruit in season right now.

Happy Food pt. 3

Finally a third installment in our “Happy Food” series! You can find the previous two posts here and here. This time around I want to share one of hubby’s fave recipes for low-carb “bread”, Almond Butter Bread. I say “bread” loosely because generally we joke around calling it almond-not-a-bread. It’s close to the texture of actual bread, without having any flour in it. You can slice it, toast it, use it for sandwiches, dip it in egg yolks, and spread your favourite jam on it. Close enough to bread for someone who eats a low-carb diet and seriously misses bread. I’ve grown to quite like it, even though I still eat real bread on occasion. Not sold yet? Let me cut you a slice and slather it with some tasty homemade apple butter.

Almond Butter Bread

Almond Butter Bread

500 ml smooth organic almond butter (we buy ours at Community Natural, but it’s also available at general grocery stores)

6 large eggs (or 5 extra large eggs)

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup warm water

 

Making Almond Butter Bread

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Butter small loaf pan, 8″ x 4″ (be quite generous with your butter so the bread will pop out easily)
  3. Place almond butter in bowl & mix well until almond butter is smooth
  4. Add baking powder & salt and mix well again
  5. Add eggs and hand whip with a fork until, you guess it, mixed well
  6. Add warm water and mix until nice & smooth
  7. Pour batter into loaf pan (it will be quite full, but don’t worry)
  8. Bake for 50 minutes
  9. Remove from loaf pan and cool on rack
  10. Slice and enjoy!

We’ve tried adding tasty bits like raisins and nuts to the batter before baking. It’s yummy, but they do tend to settle to the bottom of the bread. Maybe you could drop some raisins in part way through the baking process? Haven’t experimented with that too much. If you’re looking to toast it, keep in mind that it burns a little more quickly than normal bread, so turn down the heat on your toaster a bit. Also, the bread is a touch bland, but that’s why it works so well with whatever you decide to spread on it!

This week, I think I’m going to venture into actual bread making. We picked up some lovely Red Fife flour from Country Thyme Farm. Confession: I’ve never actually made bread before. Working with yeast makes me nervous. It’s why we don’t have homemade cinnamon buns in the house, no matter how much I love the smell of fresh baked bread. Hoping to change that in the coming weeks. Wish me luck! Even if I pull off “real” bread, I’ll still be making this tasty Almond Butter Bread for hubby & myself to nibble on.

Happy Food pt. 2

It’s been a little long in coming, but finally put together the second installation of my Happy Food series. You can find Part 1 here. Keeping with my intention of changing some of our food habits, I finally decided to get on board with my hubby and cut out all vegetable & canola oils (including shortening). I wasn’t using them all that much really, mostly in my baking. We already frequently use olive oil, butter, or bacon grease to cook with. We decided to start using coconut oil for some things. The switch wasn’t as difficult as I had built it up to be. In my mind, it was going to be a real pain in the butt and mean sacrificing some of my fave recipes (many passed down from my family) and having to find new ones to use.

This has not been the case. I found some helpful, easy tips online about substituting coconut oil for vegetable/canola oil & shortening. I also embraced the fact that things might not turn out “right” the first time. Armed with that attitude and determined to commit to the switch, I dove in. I started substituting coconut oil in my baking in the fall, and so far, there hasn’t really been a fail recipe. So today, I want to share some of the tasty things Sammy & I have been eating (hubby is low-carb, so he skips most of these treats… being low-carb is quite a big eating habit change, one that I’m not mentally or emotionally capable of committing to, yet).

First off, you might ask, why coconut oil? It’s not locally grown or made and travels large distances to get onto my pantry shelf. This is one of those instances where healthy outweighs buying local, that is, until we have our own dairy cow & can make enough butter to keep our household happy without breaking the bank. For hubby, who believes in low-carb eating, the fat in coconut oil is not something to be scared of, but embraced. You can find plenty of info and ugly videos on just how disgusting vegetable & canola oil is. With the limited time we have on this earth, I’d much rather put yummy organic coconut oil in my body than that stuff! Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE butter at our house and have been trying to purchase butter from pasture-raised, grass-fed dairy. Simply put, it’s expensive, especially in the quantities we already use. The good quality milk to make the butter is pricey too. Again, I dream of days when we have buckets of milk from our own dairy cow to make yummy, healthy butter.

So let’s check out some of the tasty treats.

We’ve made yummy pancakes, waffles, even Sammy’s birthday cake. Some of these were done with a box mix for dry ingredients (hey, I didn’t say we were perfect). Homemade biscuits are great with that touch of coconut taste. And we’ve made lots & lots of muffins! Coconut oil in muffins has been a delightful discovery. Try it! Another wonderful recipe find has been Coconut Crack Bars. They’re a super snack at our house now, that even Sam loves! I even figured out a low-carb version for hubby (skip the agave syrup & salt, increase the coconut oil, melt some of the coconut oil beforehand and add some lime juice). And who can forget THE best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever made!?! Yep, for Christmas this year, I stuck to my commitment to avoid shortening and made my mom’s gingerbread cookie recipe with coconut oil. Best batch I’ve ever made! Seriously. That officially ended my fear of substituting coconut oil into my fave recipes.

By the way, frying some veggies (like kale & chard) and meats (like beef) in coconut can add a nice change in flavor. I sometimes put just a dab of it on cooked veggies before we serve them (so yummy on carrots). There’s a lot you can do with coconut oil!

Here’s our fave muffin recipe for you to try:

Banana Chocolate Chip Coconut Muffins

Banana chocolate chip muffins by Bubblegum Sass

Ingredients
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup coconut oil (or a touch more for even more moistness)
• 1/2 cup plain or vanilla greek yogurt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
• 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or more if you want)
• 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut (optional)

Directions
1. In a medium size bowl, combine egg, yogurt, and vanilla. Microwave for 20 seconds & let sit.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Measure out your coconut oil & melt it.
4. Add the melted coconut oil to the bowl of other wet ingredients. Mix well with a whisk.
5. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
6. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips and optional shredded coconut.
7. Fill parchment paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
9. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire racks.

Tips For Baking With Coconut Oil

  • To substitute coconut oil for vegetable oil, simply use the amount of oil called for in the recipe & then melt it. It’s a straight 1-1 substitution amount.
  • To substitute coconut oil for shortening, reduce the amount of oil used by about 25% (for example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of shortening, use 3/4 cups of coconut oil).
  • To melt my coconut oil for baking recipes, I usually pop it into the microwave for 15 sec. The “experts” on coconut oil recommend a double boiler. If you use a microwave, just be very careful not to over heat. Coconut oil melts easily.
  • Coconut oil has a lower smoke-point than vegetable oil, so keep that in mind if you’re frying it.
  • The  most helpful thing to keep in mind, if you’re adding melted coconut to other wet ingredients in a recipe (like eggs & milk), make sure those ingredients are not straight-out-of-the-fridge cold. Start your baking by mixing together the cold wet ingredients, microwave them for 20 sec & let them sit while you organize everything else. This will ensure that when you add the melted coconut oil to the wet ingredients, the oil won’t start to cool & re-solidify right away. The first recipe I tried, I didn’t heed this advice & the dough never was a great consistency for mixing thoroughly.

Hope you enjoy experimenting with coconut oil! I’ll try to post some of the other recipes we use, like our homemade biscuits and gingerbread cookies, later this month.

Sweetheart Treats

Valentine treats by Bubblegum Sass

Last month, I hosted a little get together for friends. There was lots of sweet treats and pretty decorations in pink & purple. Simple doilies, fresh carnations, and cute handmade details.

Cupcake liner bowls by Bubblegum Sass

Instead of trying to make my own little chocolates, I picked up some tasty Bernard Callebaut chocolates. I turned pretty paper cupcake liners inside-out to make little bowls for them.

Cinnamon heart shortbread cookies by Bubblegum Sass

These tasty Cinnamon Heart Shortbread cookies were a hit with my tummy and I’ll be sure to make them again next year for Valentine’s Day. You can find the recipe for these here. The recipe calls for cinnamon extract, which isn’t something I typically keep with my baking supplies. I found something suitable at Micheal’s. Start by adding a tiny amount, and continue to add more bit by bit until you achieve the flavor you like.

Doily Bowls by Bubblegum Sass

To make some cute little bowls for the cinnamon heart candies, I just folded small circular paper doilies and taped the corners with washi tape (similar idea as these bowls made from paper plates).

Chocolate dipped waffer cookies by Bubblegum Sass

These cookies were a super hit! I think I’ll have to make more of them soon, the very next time I have an excuse to serve super sweet sugar bombs! They’re really simple to make too. Sammy and I did these together (sort of). I dipped the wafer cookies in the melted white chocolate and Sam did some of the sprinkles (although mainly he waited for them to dry so he could get a bite or two). Find the recipe here.

Melted crayon hearts by Bubblegum Sass

And lastly, a little bit of festive decorating. These pretty hearts are made from crayons melted between wax paper. Two lessons learned while making these: First, make the crayon shavings small & don’t over do it. They turn out much better if you don’t use too many shavings. Second, keep the temperature on the iron low and press the wax paper between old tea towels (or t-shirts), otherwise you’ll end up with a very messy iron.

Have fun with all your baking and crafting, whatever the reason or season!

Is it green?

If it is, then there is very little chance that Sam will eat it. He’s always been picky when it comes to vegetables. It’s why we were thrilled to discover that he really liked kale, which we made into chips for dessert and slipped fresh into his morning smoothies. So as the garden was drawing to a close, and we were staring at bushels of broccoli leaves to pull & haul to the compost, we decided to try a little experiment.

Sam helping with broccoli dehydrating 2

With my little helper at my side, we harvested some big bowls full of broccoli leaves, and batch by batch, loaded up the dehydrator. Each batch took about 8.5 hours on a low temperature setting (approximately 115 degrees). Once the leaves were dehydrated, I ran them through a hand blender, removed some of the tougher stem bits, and then ground it all into a finer powder with a good ‘ol mortar & pestle. Some of this could have been simplified if we owned one of those electric spice grinders. It wasn’t too tricky and at the end of it all, we had a lovely bowl of super green powder. That might not seem all that exciting to some folks, but in my mind, it means we now have the ability to sneak some more veggie goodness into Sam’s morning smoothies. I haven’t given it a try yet (we just finished up the last of our kale), but hope to soon.

DIY Super Green Broccoli Powder by Bubblegum Sass

Tasty greens

Homemade kale chips

We had such a tasty “dessert” the other night. Kale chips. Yep, you heard that right. So simple to make. They disappeared really quickly. Even our little man, Sam, thought they were great. And now I’m wishing that we had planted more kale. It feels good to try new recipes with fresh things from the garden. There are several kale salads I’d like to try one day. For now, I’ll have to be satisfied with being able to slip some kale into Sam’s morning smoothie, which he hasn’t noticed yet, thankfully (he’s been a bit short on veggies in his diet).

Wanna give these melt-in-your-mouth kale chips a try? Just place the kale on a baking sheet (with stems removed), drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in the oven for 4min at 400 degrees. Just make sure to pay close attention to it, because the leaves can burn easily. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Sam eating kale chips

Spring Pinterest Par-tay

Over a month ago now (almost two…seriously behind on posts) I had the honor of hosting a Pinterst party. I was so excited for it! Gave me something awesome to look forward to. It was also a great excuse to scour Pinterest for new recipes & party ideas. The theme for the party was “spring”, so I decided to go with lemon flavored treats, fresh fruit and flowers. Here’s what I put together:

Chewy Lemon CookiesChewy lemon snowdrop cookies

Flower cookies with brush embroidery

Flower cookies with a no-egg-white royal icing and brush embroidery (a very amateur attempt at cookie decorating… need more practice)

Flower pot fruit cups

Flower pot fruit cups with button toothpicks, my own invention, inspired from ideas found here.

Lemon Feta Dip

Lemon feta dip, so tasty on crispy crackers and I’m sure would work well as a dip for veggies too.

As with previous Pinterest parties, guests brought a craft project along to work on. Keeping with the “Spring” theme, I made Sam’s roller derby onesie in preparation for the season opener.

Sarah's Derby Onesie

Christine was using her knifty knitter to work on a pretty purple scarf.

Christine's Knitting Loom

Ellen was crocheting a lovely, and oh-so-fine, spring scarf. Her patience with that particular project is amazing! That wool and I would have parted ways long ago.

Ellen's Crochet Scarf

After finishing up a couple more tag blankets, Shauna began braided together strips of fabric to make a necklace or headband or both. So muh fun! And the colours were so springy! Probably inspired by this.

Shauna's Braided Headband

And Jan was working on this lovely spring wreath made from a foam wreath form, yarn and felt flowers (which she also made). Jan has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to wreaths!

Jan's Yarn Wreath

That was our night of craftiness. A good time indeed! And now it’s almost time to start planning the next Pinterest Party. (One day I’ll catch up on posts. Probably. Eventually.)

A Keyword Story

Week 21 and baby is now the size of a banana! (I can only assume that this refers to baby’s length these days… the fruit & veggie baby analogy is just a bit odd, don’t you think?)

BananaBanana
One
Ripe
Whole
Peel
Yellow
Black
Spots
Plates
Cropped
Nutrition
Healthy eating
Ingredient

So lets just start the recipe ideas off in the right direction… four words… Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins. That’s all you really need to know about baking with bananas. That recipe is so tasty!!! I think the key to it, is the plain yogurt. We always eat a Greek style yogurt with about 10% M.F. We’re not afraid of fat in our little household. If you want these to turn out darn yummy, embrace the fat a bit. Trust me.

Let’s not forget the tasty banana smoothie option. Again, I use a Greek style yogurt for that. Then there’s the truly decadent banana split, which I’ve only had once in my life (and it was just at Dairy Queen, not Rachel Ray’s version). Or banana cream pie, which I’ve always wanted to try making.

Any other super yummy banana recipes out there?

A Keyword Story

Week 20 and baby is now the size of a small cantaloupe!

CantaloupeCantaloupe
One
Whole
Rind
Texture
Complex
Abstract
Beige
Detail
Full frame
Background
Nobody
Ingredient

I’m having a bit more of a brain dead week. Sitting here trying to think of recipes I make using cantaloupe is proving “fruitless”. However, if you really want to indulge yourself, take half a cantaloupe, scoop the seeds out and fill it will vanilla ice cream. Eat and enjoy. Of course, the enjoyment of it increase dramatically if it’s a super hot, sunny summer day. My grandfather or great grandfather, I can’t remember which at the moment (again, brain dead) apparently used to sit and eat cantaloupe like this. I’ve only eaten it that way a couple times myself, but it’s definitely a lovely way to enjoy a summer afternoon. For those of you in Calgary, it might help to just picture what that would be like since it’s another cool, rainy morning out and ice cream in cantaloupe just doesn’t seem quite right for today.

Hope you all enjoy the long weekend!

A Keyword Story

Week 18 and baby is the size of a sweet potato!

Sweet Potato on PlateSweet potato
Slices
Raw
Orange colour
Peeled
Preparing
Ingredient
Green
Plate
Indoors
Still life
Nobody
Viewed from above

I do love sweet potatoes almost as much as I love avocados. So many pregnancy books recommended ordering sweet potato fries over regular fries at restaurants, and I am happy to report that I have followed that advice. Okay, so maybe I was doing that even before I got pregnant, but it still counts. Here’s a couple of typical recipes that we use sweet potatoes in:

  • Jamaica-Me-Crazy Chicken Tropicale (slow cooker), although they add dried cranberries and we usually just use raisins
  • Tropical Sweet Potato Mash (from Elizabeth Ward’s “Expect the Best” book): Peel and boil sweet potatoes. Drain water. Mash with some orange juice. Stir in some some canned pineapple (drained), either crushed or chunks. Stir in chopped pecans or walnuts. Simple and yummy.
  • And then there is the super traditional sweet potato dish served at family holiday dinners, Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows. Makes me feel like a kid again.