Thursday, September 22, 2022

Mom's Cabbage Soup

Now that Fall has arrived, it's officially soup season! My mom is known for her cabbage soup, a simple, hearty meal we traditionally serve with a side of bread and cheese. Not only is it fairly quick to whip up, it is one of the cheapest meals out there - perfect for today's economic climate.

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Happy Fall everyone! My mom hearkened the new season this year by making a huge batch of her famous cabbage rolls to share with family and friends. We always have the inner part of the (very large) cabbage left over from the process, and being the frugal person she is, it never goes to waste! Mom's been making this soup for as long as I can remember, and while incredibly simple, it is also the perfect addition to a lunch spread when coupled with good cheese (she likes aged Cheddar) and whatever hearty, artisan-style bread I happen to have made lately. As it is rather bare-bones, it is also the perfect jumping off point for additions (like chopped carrots, chunks of ham or chicken, cooked beans or potatoes) if you want something more well rounded and "full meal" like. 

This is also the soup I think of when I think of recovery or recuperation, not only from the persistent Fall colds that seem to run through the neighbourhood but from the exhaustion that comes with the changing pace and routine. Kids (even big kids, like my sister) are back to school, the garden is wrapping up, birthdays and Thanksgiving are on the horizon and there seems to be a never-ending ping pong game of back and forth to appointments, the store, and people's houses. Coming home for a few moments to savour a home cooked meal re-centres the soul and gives it just that little bit of fortification to keep going, like a little hug in the chaos. Whatever this soup does for you, I wish you nothing but the best for this season!

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Mongolian-Inspired Stew over Black Sticky Rice

Homely but delicious, this Mongolian-Inspired Stew over Black Sticky Rice is a healthy, filling meal packed with vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Cleaning out all the frozen veg from the freezer never tasted so good!

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The end of Summer brings with it quite the collection of harvested goodies, and in my mind there really is no better way to transition into Fall than with a hearty, yet fresh-forward meal. We are huge fans of Asian-inspired flavours here, with jars of hoisin, bottles of tamari and toasted sesame oil lurking in the pantry and fridge at all times, so I wanted to blend the two into something that would keep mom powered through into the fall filled with parties, child-minding and endless chauffeuring.

I leaned into cleaning out the fridge for this stew, taking out all the vegetables we still had lurking, and wound up with so many of them I had to break out the big Dutch oven to house it all. In the end I had a delightful smelling bowl of stew - which admittedly isn't the prettiest thing in the world, but the taste more than made up for it. Sweet, spicy and savoury notes blended in the sauce that blanketed the vegetables and ground meat substitute and soaked into the black sticky rice ever so slightly. 

If you're going to make this as a make-ahead lunch, I'd keep the rice and stew in separate containers and mix them after heating. That way, nothing gets soggy and the heating is more even!

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Thai Peanut Noodles

What better way to purge the crisper drawer than this simple, flavour packed Thai Peanut Noodle dish? Tons of veggies form the backbone of this hearty meal, accented with vegan ground meat and noodles that cook in the sauce - no extra pot needed!

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The only downside about a looming vacation is trying to shop and cook enough so you don't starve, but not so much you have a billion things in your crisper and fridge that will go bad. Being that it's summer, the quantity of vegetables in our house is large, and with my mom away I wanted to be able to make meals for her to come back to that used up all (or at least some) of the produce, were simple, and could be frozen for even she's running around with my nephew. Luckily we also have a well stocked pantry, and I was inspired by a tub of peanut butter I picked up from Bulk Barn to make cookies and never finished. 

An hour later, I had a huge pot of a Thai-inspired vegan peanut curry, filled with tons of veggies and noodles for even more texture and nutrition. The noodles cooked in the curry sauce, which not only infused them with the spicy peanutty flavour but thickened the sauce just enough where it moved from "soup" to "sauce" consistency - perfect!

As I said, this makes a lot of curry, but it keeps well and can be frozen. If you don't have or like the vegetables I used, swap in your favourites! I basically just kept going until the pot was full. Any thin noodle will work as well, so if you only have spaghetti, or rice noodles, or bean thread noodles, throw them in! The versatility here means you never have to make it the same way twice.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Pink Frosted Chocolate Doughnuts

When you have your 2 four-year-old nieces over and a free afternoon, it's time to make the doughnuts! These are eggless chocolate cake doughnuts moistened with yogurt and given a classic flavour with a bit of Selefina Spices nutmeg. 

 

First off, I'll admit I'm working a bit backwards with these "baking with my niece" posts - for the last month of Summer break, I've made one day a week baking day with her both to keep her busy and to teach her a few life skills (and to give my mom a bit of reprieve!). If you follow me on IG (and if not, you should!), you'll have seen some of our past projects, and I will be sure to share those too! But upon her request, the doughnuts are going first.

These are a pretty straightforward baked cake doughnut, with a touch of yogurt to keep it moist and just a hint of nutmeg for that doughnut flavour - that addition amazed the littles, and they had a blast looking at the whole nutmeg Selefina Spices had sent me. Being so simple, the recipe allows lots of opportunity for learning - aside from melting the butter and measuring the yogurt and milk, everything else was measured and mixed by my team of two sous chefs. The girls were also the lead decorators, picking the colour of the icing and deciding on the sprinkle selection, dipping the doughnuts and finally, showing them off to the other adults. I dare say they were on par with some of my old grade 7 and 8 kids!

Friday, August 12, 2022

Blueberry Pecan Bread

You can never have too many pecans (well, if you're a pecan lover like my mom!), and combined with this multigrain dough made with blueberry jam and a hint of orange blossom water every slice feels luxurious.

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With a week to go until she left on vacation, my mom and I decided to do a complete clean out of our fridge and freezers - yes, we have three freezers, which sounds great until the documentation of where things are starts to falter and more and more items get shoved to the back! In my rummaging, I came across a bag full of different nuts and seeds that I had put there for safekeeping and forgot about! 

Since I knew I had the end of a Costco-sized jar of blueberry jam to use up, I decided to try and combine the two into a slightly sweet whole grain loaf - just one, mind you, since otherwise we wind up with storage issues of the bread persuasion, and mom could bring the remainder of the single loaf on her road trip. Buffed by Naked Shake for protein and a hint of sweetness, and packed with whole grains for even more texture and fibre, the resulting loaf is perfect for when you need to keep full for a while and much better tasting than the average gas station fare!

This loaf inspired a few others in it's wake, so stay tuned to see the twists I put on this one and let me know what you would add to your perfect loaf: cherry jam and almonds? Grape jam and peanuts? Or maybe skip the nuts altogether and add your favourite fruit!