One thing the never ending pandemic has reminded me is the kids and my husband love when I put more effort into meal time - as my eldest Reece (he will be 20 this spring - eek) says there's nothing better than a home cooked meal. So I will share some of my family favourites and also new recipes that turn out well. Please feel free to share your recipes with me, I'm only an email away.
If you just make it this far there are some good foodie websites recommended by a few people that I love too:
- https://www.bbcgoodfood.com which has an array of good recipes to try. My friends in Wales share weekly what they've made from this site. Puts my attempts to shame! Watch out for British measurements....
- https://epicure.com/en-ca/recipes I was introduced to epicure about 7 years ago when my good friend Krista listened to me having issues with store bought brands due to our family’s garlic, onion, gluten, lactose sensitivity among others - sigh. She suggested that I try epicure and I’ve loved it ever since. They have recipes for all their products on the website. Recently I’ve made enchiladas and used the wintery mushroom soup seasoning as a topping for pork chops. They’ve also begun taste tests again (a trial product) and it’s West Coast Burger - so excited to get it - a sure sign of spring.
- https://www.number-2-pencil.com easy family friendly recipes, I also follow on Instagram and Pinterest. I love the one pot meals which are always a life saver. I want to try her brownie and snickerdoodle in a cup. Soon it will hopefully be time to look up some spring recipes.
Also I should mention that I have an addiction to physical cookbooks; being able to meal plan with a cup of tea on a weekend morning leafing through the pages without mom mom mom makes me happy. Although, I equally love her excitement as we read recipes together and book mark the pages of new ones to try. I have been known to bring them to bed on occasion - big mistake as that just makes me hungry!
Here's a quick list of my favourite cookbooks:
- Hungry For More - Chrissy Teigen - favourite recipe chicken teriyaki burgers with toasted coco buns (I also enjoy following her in Instagram, she's really funny)
- Well Plated - Erin Clarke - favourite recipe - side dish of one pot creamy sun dried tomato orzo with spinach (pretty much can be served with anything)I make this probably too often and sometimes for lunch.
- Whiskey in a Teacup - Reese Witherspoon - favourite recipe Johns bbq sauce, who doesn't love a good bbq sauce! Claire has actually book marked a few recipes to try.
- How to be a domestic goddess - Nigella Lawson - favourite recipe is her banana bread, a success each and every time. I have tried many in my time, but I always go back to hers.
- Winter Collection - Delia Smith - favourite recipe oh there are many, classic winter dishes, my favourite is roast duck with cherry sauce.
And my newest cookbook, my valentine present this year
- Fraiche Food, Full Hearts - Jillian Harris & Tori Wesszer - favourite so far, Rosemary polenta fries, but oh so many more to try.
Now that my ramblings are out of the way, let’s get onto some recipes.....
Grown Up Mac & Cheese
Fridays is usually take out night for us to support our local community but sometimes, ok a lot, I can’t make up my mind on quite what I want (I blame it on being a libra). So then on those occasions I get creative and make something or Claire chants toppers toppers toppers! Sometimes all we want is comfort food so a twist on mac and cheese emerged.
My flimsy directions!
- Shrimp – your preference on type & amount
- Splash of oil or butter to sautee the shrimp (to make it fancy try truffle oil from Adoro)
- Goat Cheese – about ½ cup (I use Chevre from order fresh when available )
- White Wine – about ½ cup
- Epicure Mac & Cheese Seasoning
- Package of gnocchi (I use as large a bag as I can find so I have leftovers!)
First boil water for the gnocchi, I like to use a large pot so I can scoop out the gnocchi easily as they come to the surface. Once that is done, start to sautée the shrimp in the oil over medium heat (sometimes I also add basil, edamame, red peppers or mushrooms too). I use my favourite ceramic pan. Then empty the packet of gnocchi into the pot of boiling water. By the time they are done (3-5 mins usually) your shrimp should almost done, at this point I add the white wine and let it simmer for a few more minutes. Whilst that is happening, I scoop the gnocchi out of the pot and into a bowl quickly and add the epicure seasoning with milk as per the packet directions. Once combined, I add the goat cheese (and sometimes parmasen too) until it's all creamy. By this point the shrimp is done. I usually plate this in a shallow bowl putting the shrimp on top of the gnocchi. Enjoy!
Yes, yes I know how boring but everyone eats it in our family and it has staying power. I admit I absolutely hated it as a child and have only started to appreciate how easy it is and can be made ahead and/or frozen. If you'd ask my youngest Claire what should mommy make - her answer is almost always Shepherds Pie. Just note if you put carrots in your shepherds pie we can't be friends, that is so wrong, so wrong- yuk!
Lets put this together
- 1-2lbs of ground beef or bison (depending on preference, both available on click fork or tru local)
- Choice of oil to brown the meat
- 1 cup of peas
- 1 cup of corn (or 1 can of cream corn - a friend of mine swears by this but I haven't done it yet)
- 1 package of Epicure Shepherds Pie Seasoning
- OR 1 beef or vegetable bouillon cube making 1.5 cups with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mash Potatoes - this is tricky in the sense it depends on whether you like a lot or a little and the size of your dish. Usually one box of Betty Crocker Instant does it for us!
- Cheese - 1 or 2cups of sharp cheddar
Start by selecting the Pyrex dish or Corning ware that you are going to make your pie in. I go between my medium square glass dish and my large rectangular glass dish depending on if the teens are home or not that night.
Once that is out of the way, brown your ground beef or bison (they give the best flavour). You can add onion and garlic into the ground meat at this point but we don't as we have allergies in our house. Once that is done add the epicure seasoning along with water as per the directions on the packet and mix. Now you can transfer this into your dish and add in peas and corns (again remembering no carrots 🥕).
Now make your mashed potatoes anyway your prefer and smoosh them onto top of your meat and veggies. If you want cheese then sprinkle it all over as much or as little as you want. Bake for 375c for 30 - 45 minds depending on regular or convection. Serve to happy kids 😉
Fish and Chips
For a mid week pick up fish and chips is perfect. The teens always light up when there's fries on a Wednesday. Claire could take it or leave it, she'd happily have left over Shepherds pie.
And it goes a little something like this:
- Fish of choice - we use lake trout from Herbert Fisheries that we have delivered through Click Fork (so good)
- Potatoes (6 large or equivalent)
- Flour - 1 cup
- SPG Epicure seasoning - 1 to 2 tablespoons
- 1 Egg & 1/2 cup of Milk
- Coleslaw mix (smiths pre mix is great)
- Coleslaw Epicure seasoning
- Oil / vinegar/ Plain Yoghurt / Mayo (depending on coleslaw type)
As the fish and coleslaw doesn't take long, start on the fries. Cut your potatoes into strips or home fry style, I leave the peel on. If you are using an air fryer like me put them in a colander and rinse them. Then dry them off before dumping in the air fryer with 1.5 scoops of oil (mines a green spoons specific to my air fryer) ! My T-fal uses option 1, for 32 minutes. This gives me plenty of time to first mix the coleslaw dressing as per epicure directions, I usually opt for creamy. Once mixed, stir into the pre shredded coleslaw cabbage (we don't eat enough cabbage for me to always buy whole ones) and if you like, add cranberries and/or diced apples for a change. As for the batter for the fish, mix the flour and spg (salt pepper garlic, yes we can tolerate it despite allergies!) in one bowl and whisk the egg and milk together in another. Then make sure the oil in your pan for the fish is hot. Dip each piece of fish, into the egg wash and then coat in the flour mix. Shake of any excess and place into the hot pan whilst being careful (trust me, I'm really good at burning myself whilst cooking). Repeat with each piece of fish, turning after 4/5 mins depending on thickness, it should easily flake when ready. As the oil was hot before adding the fish, it shouldn't stick. By the time you've accomplished all this, the fries should be done. Mmmmm the smell makes you want to hurry up and eat.
Yes ok I’ve gone on about how I don’t like carrots but I love carrot cake/muffins as long as there are no raisins (I shudder at the thought). And my love of epicure makes it’s easy with their carrot cake mix. https://epicure.com/en-ca/recipe/carrot-cake
And now my amended instructions:
- Epicure carrot cake mix
- 2 carrots (I use less)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/2 cup crushed pineapple (I use more)
- If you want icing, see link above!
Preheat your oven to 375c. Now lightly oil the cake pan or muffin tin. Grate the carrots to your preference - for me I prefer finely grated. I like to squeeze the moisture out of them, as the pineapple has enough moisture for the recipe and I prefer a firmer carrot muffin. Set the carrots aside and in a separate bowl whisk eggs with the oil, then the pineapple, then the mix and lastly fold in the grated carrot. Scape batter into your pan or muffin tin. Oven will be pre heated by now and my convection setting takes about 20 mins otherwise regular bake will take up to 30 mins. If they are springy to the touch, they’re ready. If you are icing them, let cool first. I’m not keen on icing, more of a fondant lover, so I omit this step.