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FOOD + DRINK FOR all the family

My Weekly Meal Planner Experiment: Conclusion

spaghetti alla norma

It’s time to write my post-mortem. First, I shortened my weekly meal planner experiment by 2 weeks because I learned nothing new from the last two weeks. When I started this little experiment my hope was to add more recipes to my repertoire, and to start planning ahead. Let’s see how I did point by point.

Adding new recipes to my repertoire. I tried a few new recipes. But with a toddler and a busy schedule, it proved to be harder than I originally thought. For one thing, the fact that Zack is neither a fan of chicken nor steak reduced my choices. Several new recipes that inspired me where either too long or require ingredients that are normally found at the grocery store. This leads to planning ahead. Continue Reading

FOOD + DRINK FOR all the family

Weekly Meal Planner: Week 6

italian sausage and vegetable one pot dish

My meal planning was business. I wished that I could report a new recipe but it didn’t happen. So, you will see many common faces on last week’s menu:

  • Monday: What was in my pantry dictated what we ate that night. I served spaghettini with a garlic, olive and tomato sauce topped with freshly ground Parmesan.
  • Tuesday: I made what is comfy food in my home: my spicy Italian sausages with vegetables one pot dish.
  • Wednesday: Zack’s appetite was really back. He adored my scaloppine al limone. I originally planned to serve Brussel sprouts but the ones at the grocery store had seen better days. I relied on my trusted asparagus and rice for completing my menu. Zack had chocolate one or twice before. He was delighted at his first bite of Dixies from Laura Secord. This crunchy pecan pieces and chewy caramel covered in milk chocolate is delicious!
  • Thursday: A friend offered that we exchanged babysitting duties to each have a night out. Therefore, Zack had a little friend over for Valentine’s Day. For the occasion, my husband cooked a kid-pleasing meal: sloppy joe. I made for us an arugula and spinach salad.
  • Friday: We were due for some spicy shrimps. We each ate a bowl of stir-fried prawns and noodles from “Off the Shelf: cooking from the pantry” by Donna Hay. For dessert, we had more Dixies, thanks Laura Secord who sent Zack a box as a Valentine’s gift after they heard that he loves them so much. A big thanks to Katia and Laura Secord!
  • Saturday: My husband and I celebrated a friend’s birthday at a French restaurant while my toddler went to dinner at an Asian restaurant with my mother-in-law.
  • Sunday: I craved for a simple winter meal. We ate a Chinese fondue with cauliflower and button mushrooms.

That was it!

FOOD + DRINK FOR all the family

Weekly Meal Planner: Week 5

what's for dinner week 5

My little experiment on recording what we eat for dinner continues. Last week was special because my toddler was sick for half of the week. He ate bread and chicken soup several nights in a row. I am glad that he now has regained his appetite.

Here is what we ate for dinner last week:

  • Monday: After a morning of running errands and an afternoon filled with accounting duties, I welcomed the comfort of a simple healthy meal. I paired boiled green beans and Brussel sprouts — topped with butter — with the Dijon mustard steelhead trout fillets cooked by my husband.
  • Tuesday: I had a craving for chicken and couscous. I cooked a her early Donna Hay cookbook titled  Flavours. It a grilled lemon chicken breasts on a bed of almond, sage, lemon and caper couscous salad. If you don’t own the cookbook, have a look at Emily’s Culinary Adventures. Emily shared how she makes the recipe.
  • Wednesday: We ate a cheese fondue with an assortment of charcuterie (Grison beef and prosciutto), sweet onions, sour onions and sour gherkins.
  • Thursday: I went to a concert that night. Since I was in a hurry, we ate pasta with a ready-made sauce.
  • Friday: It was sushi night.
  • Saturday: Since we were at the ski cottage, I cooked a simple meal. We grilled steelhead trout fillets with a touch of Dijon mustard and oil live on top. Rice and grilled asparagus were our side dishes. For dessert, we ate a delicious apple and cranberry pie from a local bakery.
  • Sunday: Since we arrived from the ski cottage at a time where the grocery store would be full, we ordered pizza. Our usual place is closed on Sunday. We ate it with a Greek salad.

I will continue this experiment until the end of the month.

+ sourcing: Celeste Dinnerware at Crate & Barrel

FOOD + DRINK FOR all the family

Weekly Meal Planner: Week 4

crisp chicken legs

Deciding what’s for dinner was easy this week. I only wish that it would be as simple to feed my toddler boy. I don’t know if it is because he had a cold, but it was not less enthusiastic by my cooking this week.

Here is what we ate for dinner last week:

  • Monday: We started the week with an easy pasta night. To save time, I served the Florentine Spinach and Cheese sauce by Classico on spaghettini. We added extra cheese with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano.
  • Tuesday: My husband had an event that night. To enough me to pass more time with Zack, I stopped by Tourtière Australienne and bought their delicious Lamb roganjosh pie. I served it with the leftover  potato, rutabaga and carrot mash from last Sunday.
  • Wednesday: That was our fish night. My husband cooked to perfection steelhead trout fillets that he lightly covered with Dijon mustard before cooking. I made us a tropical fennel salad and side of green beans.
  • Thursday: I cooked Jamie-Oliver’s tender and crisp chicken legs with sweet tomatoes that I served with the remaining leftover  potato, rutabaga and carrot mash.
  • Friday: I took a day off from cooking. We ordered something that it always a hit with my toddler: our usual vegetarian pizza, extra ham with a mix salad.
  • Saturday: In honor of the Super Bowl, my husband cooked his delicious chili con carne. He achieved a right balance of spices to be enjoyable but us and our toddler.
  • Sunday: I made us a chicken pilaf rice. I used a recipe from the first cookbooks that I bought when I moved to my own apartment for university. It is so easy to make and delicious. The best part is that the leftover is enough for two lunches.

Do you plan your meal weekly? If so, what do you eat on an average week at your home?

CAKES + desserts FOOD + DRINK

Cream Cheese Frosting: Not Too Sweet

cream cheese frosting

Earlier this week, I was looking for a cream cheese frosting recipe that was not too sweet. Thanks to Martha, I found the perfect balance. I cut her recipe since I needed only one cup. The ratio of 4 onces of cream cheese, 4 ounces of unsalted butter and half a cup of sifted confectioners’ sugar works for me. Then, add half of teaspoon of the best vanilla extract for the ultimate taste.

For the right texture, don’t use bar cream cheese at room temperature. Continue Reading

FOOD + DRINK FOR all the family

Weekly Meal Planner: Week 3

watercress salad

The reason why I started to chronicle what we ate for dinner every week was to vary our meals. So far, it is working. I don’t know if reading my weekly menu gives you ideas for what to cook for dinner to your family but, on a personal note, I see the benefits of keeping track of what’s for my dinner. You should give it a try.

Here is what we ate for dinner last week: Continue Reading

FOOD + DRINK FOR all the family

Weekly Meal Planner: Week 2

what's for dinner mushroom risotto asparagus and trout

My toddler enjoyed every meal I made for dinner last week except for the chop suey. I have the feeling that it was because of the ground beef. Instead, he savoured a bowl of the leek and carrot soup from my frozen soup supply.

Here is the list of what we ate last week: Continue Reading

FOOD + DRINK FOR all the family

Weekly Meal Planner: Week 1

weekly meal planning

I have a confession to make. I don’t plan ahead what I will make for dinner. Because I am looking at ways for finding time, I would like to change my routine. After all, planning ahead your meals would reduce my shopping time.

As a first step to change my behaviour,  I decided to chronicle what we ate every week. At least, I could save time by referring to my meal planner when comes the time to decide what’s for dinner. Plus, I could monitor more carefully what we ate. Here is what I cooked or ordered in for dinner last week. Continue Reading

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

How I Solved the What’s for Dinner Dilemma

weeknight dinner

weeknight dinner
photo: IKEA

In a few words, I gave me less time to think about what’s to eat for dinner. Since my toddler go to day care, the need to quickly prepare dinner has taken a new meaning. I remain impulsive when it comes to decide what to eat for dinner but I added more organisation than it used to. I factor in what my son ate for lunch, what I would like to eat and make sure that our diet provides a variety of meat, fish and poultry.

At couple weeks ago, I gave Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals a try. The recipes were delicious but I lost a lot of time by having to constantly read the instructions to find where I was. My guess is that if I redid the same recipes, it would fast.

I reserve 30 to 40 minutes before I pick him up at day care to shop for what I’ld need to cook dinner that night. It used that time as a transition between work and family time.  If the recipe is from a cookbook, I will take a picture of the ingredient list with my iPhone. This is quicker than to make a grocery list. I head to the stores with a “plan B” recipe, in case that they don’t have in stock an essential ingredient.

Our main courses for a week might look like that:

  • Casserole of grilled Italian sausage and vegetables on rice – Like father, like son, since both adore this recipe.
  • Dijon mustard trout served with grilled asparagus and rice – another winner
  • A pasta dish made with a home made sauce
  • Colombine potatoes (slices of potatoes with red peppers, french shallot and parsley), boiled green beans served with a T-bone steak
  • Thai shrimp noodles
  • Veal al limone with rice and broccoli – I used to serve Brussels sprouts with that recipe. Since my son has not yet developed a taste for them, I cooked broccoli instead.
  • Tender and crisp chicken legs with sweet tomatoes – a recipe from Jamie Oliver

Over the week, I might grab a home made dish from the freezer. But tonight, I want to try a new recipe. I will quickly browse Donna Hay cookbooks for a change. I only have five minutes left to decide.

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

Garnish a Spinach and Lettuce Soup with Greek Yogurt

garnish a soup with greek yogurt video

garnish a soup with greek yogurt video

If you think that serving a soup is boring, you will change your mind after watching this video. What I like about serving a soup at a party is that you can cook a day or two in advance. In summer, there are tons of tasty cold soup recipes that you can choose from.

If you are convinced after you learned how to give panache and to enhance the plain taste of a spanish and lettuce soup with sliced chilis, minced cilantro, pickled daikon and two small scoops of Greek Yogurt,  then — as they say — it would be your lost. Personally, I want a bowl.

Video by Randy Risling staring Corey Mintz for The Toronto Star

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Valentine’s Gift Ideas: Breakfast in Bed in a Sexy Bedroom

A menu for breakfast in bed for Valentine's Day

A menu for breakfast in bed for Valentine's Day

I conclude our Style Collective’s Valentine’s Day gift round-up with items to prepare a romantic Valentine’s breakfast and to decorate your bedroom.

1. My Pick

I suggest a breakfast in bed. “Your guy will earn points if he brings you breakfast in bed on Valentine’s Day. To make it easy for him, he could get the heart-shaped egg rings and serve your eggs with a warm French croissant and your favorite berry jam. He can make you a tasty cup of coffee, serve you a chilled glass of Veuve, and then finish the meal with a heart-shaped whoopie pie.”

Heart-shaped eggs fry rings, $15 USD at Williams-Sonoma; Bodum Chambord Coffee Press, $34.99 CAD at Amazon.ca; Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Rose, $77.40 at LCBO; SVALKA Champagne glass, $6.99 CAD for 6 at Ikea; Red Velvet Whoopie Pie Mix, $8.95 USD at Crate and Barrel.

2. Ceri from Sweet Potato Chronicles

pancake recipes for valentine's day gifts

“For those who are new to our site: we’re all about healthy family food. Scratch the surface, however, and you’ll find pancakes. Every kind you can imagine and more in the works. You could say we’re a little obsessed. So if our sweethearts wanted to spoil us this Valentine’s day they could whip up a batch of these Pumpkin Gingerbread pancake and make them in these sweet molds. Oh, and let us sleep in.”

Valentine Heart Pancake Mold on sale $2.50 USD at Crate & Barrel

3. Allie from Gifted

let's make up pillow_ for valentine's day gifts

“A little something for your special someone (or current makeout partner). This Valentine’s Day, if you’re feeling a little shy, let the pillow do the talking.”

She is right, before you go back to bed, you could engage in activities inspired by the Let’s Make Out pillow by Alexandra Ferguson available for $89 USD at her Etsy shop.

4. Coco from Coco&Lowe

Pretty Sweet Boutique lollipop treats

As a bonus, Coco also suggested what are “The most delicious way to anyone’s heart has to be through their tummy, so why not indulge them with customized cake or cookie pops? Made lovingly by PrettySweet Boutique [in Toronto], these delish pops come in any color combo and can be made to say anything you like to your love, bestie, co-worker or even to yourself!”