Monday, February 25, 2013

Shattered Into Pieces

Tonight, my heart feels shattered into pieces for a multitude of reasons.  Some of which I can't get into right now. But let's just say that this week has not been without stress.  And it's only Monday.

The past few weeks have been extremely challenging.  Having missed OT for 3 out of 4 weeks, my kids are having a much harder time functioning in our world, as I mentioned here.  For a few weeks now, it has taken us until 9 or 10pm to finally get Logan down to bed.  He has been waking up in the morning in a massive tantrum, like he used to months ago.  And it can take me up to two hours to be able to get anywhere near him to calm him down, as he is wildly screaming, kicking and throwing things everywhere.  Never mind that both kids are back to waking up multiple times each night.  Last night I slept 3 hours, as if I had a newborn.  I am physically and emotionally exhausted.

As I put Logan to bed tonight, he once again melted down in front f my eyes into the temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums.  I left him in his room on his own for awhile to calm down, telling him to come get mommy when he was ready.  And when I went back in to see him and picked him up in my arms, his big brown eyes looked up at me, tears streaming down his face.  And sobbing, he said to me "Need some medicine, mommy.  Need some medicine".  And when I questioned him, he then added "Need some medicine to stop me crying".

We've recently been using another homeopathic remedy with Logan for when he has these tantrums.  I've never said much to him about it, other than to ask him to crunch his medicine in between sobs.  Yet, apparently, Logan has somehow made the link between this remedy and it making it feel better.

And as I left his room to get his homeopathic remedy, tears streamed down my own face.  Tears of sadness that my 2 1/2 year old already knows that he has something inside of him that is bigger than him.  Something that he has to fight every day to keep down.  And that he was begging me for a way to help him not feel like this.

Baby... if only I could take away whatever it is that makes you feel this way, I would in an instant. It breaks my heart to see you struggle so much.  And to see how you can switch within minutes from an almost animal-like beast, who I cannot help to calm no matter what I try, to my sweet, loving little Logan who gives me tender kisses as I put you to bed.  I hope that as we progress together on this journey, I'll be able to help you unveil more of this side of you.  And in the meantime, please know that I love you with all of my heart.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I made this recipe a few days after my slow cooker boeuf bourguignon.  One morning, I found myself with some stewing beef in the fridge that was about to go bad, nothing for dinner, and two whiny kids who had just woken up and were hungry.  And what did I decide to do????  Whip together this recipe on my way out the door.  

Did I mention that this was a work day?  

So this recipe earned its tagged credit as a quick supper, because I actually managed to whip this up while the kids sipped their smoothies, while also finishing some last minute preparation for my clients.  That's right folks.  Just call me super crazy (and I write that with Superman-like intonation).

In reading the recipe, I thought it would be somewhat blandIt actually turned out to be pretty yummy.  And given that it literally takes only minutes to throw together, I think this might turn into one of our go-to meals when I'm short on time.  The only downside to this recipe is that it's not freezer-friendly, as potatoes tend to not do well in the freezer.  And also, that my kids won't eat it.  But we still managed to finish it in a few days.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
1/4 all-purpose flour (I used a gf flour mix)
salt and black pepper
2 lbs. stewing beef
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, quartered
4 carrots, peeled and sliced (I chose baby carrots to speed up prep)
4 to 6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 C beef stock (for gf, choose a gf brand)
1 small can (221 mL) tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf

1.  In a bowl, season flour to taste with salt and pepper.  Pat meat dry and coat on all sides with seasoned flour.

2.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add meat and cook, turning with a wooden spoon, for 7 to 10 minutes or until    brown on all sides.  Transfer meat to slow cooker.

3.  Add onions to slow cooker, along with carrots, potatoes, stock, tomato sauce, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. 

4.  Cover and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours or on High for 6 to 8 hours, until vegetables are tender.

Serves 6 to 8. 

Difficulty level: easy       

Note: this dish can be completely assembled up to 12 hours in advance of cooking.

Adapted from Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes.   

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day: Healthy Black Bean Chocolate Cupcakes

When I first thought of Valentine's Day (albeit only 3 days ago), I had visions of making my kids heart-shaped pink pancakes for breakfast accompanied by skewers of various heart shaped fruits... 
of a wonderful, romantic, homemade dinner for my husband and I... and of delicious cupcakes for dessert, topped with heart-shaped fondant toppers.

And then reality hit.  My life is way too busy for all of this crap!

The thing is that this is what I LOVE to do.  In an ideal world, this is part of how we would have celebrated Valentine's Day today.  But my kids were none the wiser this morning, as they happily sipped their smoothies before leaving for daycare. 

There will be other years for this kind of craziness when my life isn't quite so crazy in and of itself ;)

The only thing from my above list that I managed to accomplish (sort of) was the cupcakes - without the fondant toppers. I ended up settling on some heart shaped candies that we happened to have here, instead.   

I found the recipe for this chocolate cake on youtube.  It is naturally gluten and dairy free and I loved the idea of sneaking some black beans into chocolate cake for my kids for some hidden protein and fiber.  Now, you're probably thinking that black beans in chocolate cake sounds disgusting.  I swear, you can't even taste them!!

This recipe is overall quite healthy.  It won't win any awards for being the absolute best chocolate cake you've ever tasted in your life.  It's not quite on part with the rich chocolate sour cream bundt cake that Katie made us for dessert on Valentine's Day last year.  However, this is healthy enough that it could be a regular indulgence. It is not very sweet tasting in and of itself.  But I found that after adding the icing, it had just the perfect sweetness.  Not that super sweet taste that many cakes have.

I got the recipe for the buttercream icing here To make it dairy (but not soy) free, I used Earth balance instead of butter.  However, I found that I had to add a ton more icing sugar than the recipe called for to get it stiff enough to pipe.  Maybe it is because the Earth balance has a different texture than real butter??  I also used some of the real vanilla we bought in Tahiti instead of the vanilla extract. Yum!

Healthy Black Bean Chocolate Cupcakes

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 egg

Blend in food processor or blender until smooth.

Mix in:

1/2 C sugar (I used coconut sugar, but regular sugar would be just fine too)
6 tbsp. olive oil or butter

Place 4 eggs in a mixing bowl

and beat for 3-4 minutes on high until they are fluffy.

Add the following to the beaten eggs, along with the black bean mixture and stir only until mixed:

6 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Pour batter into muffin tins.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes at 300 degrees Farenheit

I have superstar aim with my batter pouring ;)

Frost with buttercream icing and dust with coloured sugar.  Decorate with candies, if desired.

Enjoy!  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

What Valentine's Day treats did you indulge in today?  Do you have any Valentine's traditions that you enjoy as a family?

Difficulty level: easy-moderate

Makes approximately 18 cupcakes.

Note: because of the black beans in the recipe, these tend to dry out quickly, so keep them in a tightly sealed container.  If you don't frost yours (and you will regret it!), place plastic seal directly on the surface of the cupcakes to help keep them fresh longer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Coconut Macaroons

Today was a lazy day.  A much needed lazy day.  Didn't even go to my usual zumba class, as the car wouldn't start this morning.  So it was a really lazy day.  The kids played and Logan tobogganed outside on the "hill" that has been made in front of our house throughout winter from all of the snow.  

After naps, Jérôme decided that he and Logan were going to bake some cookies.  And not just any cookies.  The same cookies that Jérôme first made with his mom.  His mom passed away a couple of years ago, so I'm sure this was extra special for Jérôme to share with Logan.  He got the recipe right out of his mom's handwritten cookbook.

And Logan ate the whole thing right up.  He got to wear his own little apron and use his own personal cooking set given to him by Maria awhile back.   

A chef is born ;)

These are super quick to whip up, as even a 2 1/2 year old has a long enough attention span to stick around until the end.  And both Logan and Chloé just gobbled these up. 

Coconut Macaroons 

2 C finely grated unsweetened coconut
2 eggs
3/4 C sugar or coconut sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

1.  Mix together the sugar and the egg with a dash of salt.

2.  Add the coconut flakes and mix well.  

super concentrated on his cookie making

Try your best not to get the coconut all up in your sleeves.

Oh, and to actually get it in the bowl.

3.  Round dough into little balls and place on a greased baking sheet.  We flattened ours out a bit so that the kids would make less mess when eating them, but traditional coconut macaroons are more rounded.


4.  Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees Farenheit. 


Makes 8-12 cookies, depending on size.  These dry out relatively quickly, so only make what will be eaten within a couple of days.   

Difficulty level: easy


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon

Cooking these days is coming down to either popping a roast or something of the sort into the oven (often unseasoned) and whipping up some quick potatoes/rice and veggies to match, or throwing often repetitive recipes into the slow cooker.  That is, when it isn't pulling hot dogs out of the freezer. Bleck.  

I've been getting a little sick of our standard slow cooker fare, so as our freezer stock started getting a bit low, I poked around for a few new recipes that I hoped the kids might, at least, eat in part.  It turns out that that didn't happen, but Jérôme and I both enjoyed this boeuf bourguignon.  In fact, boeuf bourguignon is one of Jérôme's favourite French dishes and he gave this recipe the thumbs up.

I usually keep half opened bottles of wine in the basement, to use in recipes such as this.  Now, I can hear you all gasping.  How is it possible that we ever have a bottle left unfinished?  Especially with a French husband???  

Well, it goes a little something like this.  Back in the days before we had children, we often ended up with half empty bottles that we then stored in the basement for cooking.  Now that we have little monkeys screaming all of the time, what happens is more that we open the bottle and drink so much that we feel guilty and then redeem ourselves by using the last cup in a recipe like this one here.  And by we, I just might mean me ;) 

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon

120g chunk of bacon or salt pork belly, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 lbs. stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used pancetta that I had bought at Costco)
1 lb. mushrooms, whole or halved
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 C all-purpose flour (I used a gluten-free flour blend)
1/2 C condensed beef broth (undiluted)
2 C dry red wine
1 bay leaf
zest of 1 orange
chopped parsley      

1.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add bacon or salt pork and cook until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.  Drain off all but 2 tbsp. fat in pan.


 2.  Add beef to pan, in batches, and brown.  Transfer to slow cooker, using a slotted spoon.


3.  Add mushrooms to pan and cook until tops are lightly browned.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  

4.  Add carrots and onions to pan.  Cover and cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.  Increase heat to medium.  Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  

5.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add beef broth and wine and cook, stirring, until thickened.  Stir in bacon or salt pork, bay leaf and orange zest.

6.  Add mixture to slow cooker stoneware.  Stir to thoroughly combine ingredients.  Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours, until beef is very tender.  Discard bay leaf.  Just before serving, garnish liberally with parsley.

Serves 8.

Difficulty level: moderate

Taken from 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes.