Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kickstarter Update for March

It feels like spring is on its way here! We are experiencing a very early melt here in Northern BC and if I am lucky, I will have a somewhat green Easter!

Construction on the kitchen is plugging along. We had hoped it would be complete by now but we had a major delay with counters and the sink. It is all coming together and delays are common in construction when you live in a remote area. We don't have a major building store with a huge abundance of choices here, so we rely on items being shipped or on traveling to pick things up.

Plumbing and electrical are complete and the flooring is being installed next week. We will rush to try and paint before then. Then we wait on the counters and sinks, being shipping from the lower mainland, so hopefully over spring break we will be able to start installing everything.

While the kitchen may be moving slower than planned, business is growing quickly. We have more wholesale customers this spring than every before and are looking to expand across Northern BC. We also are looking forward to our outdoor farmers' market starting up again in May. I know that some of you are fans from the market and I really look forward to seeing you this spring and summer. I will be offering new products this spring and summer at the farmers' market so please stop by and have a sample!

Finally, rewards are shipping out weekly! The end of March will be the end of our regular rewards, with some backers opting for a delayed shipping/pick-up of rewards in the summer. I have heard back from some of my backers and I thank you for your kind and positive feedback about the product. If you haven't received your package yet, hang tight, it is being whipped, cut, bagged, and boxed over the next 2 weeks for sure. Also, I am feeling rather generous and doubling the amount of marshmallows in the rewards I am shipping out. Just because I really want to share the marshmallow love!

Thanks again to everyone for your continued support!

Happy spring!
~Kimberley

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dinner Made Easy {blog series} & GIVEAWAY



It has been fun sharing our tips and recipes for simplifying family dinners. I have found so many of you on Instagram and love following along with your families and cooking.

Today I am sharing my last recipe for what to do with the leftover roast chicken. I first posted this meal on Instagram, and received so many comments and questions.

Stuff Your Own Taco is one of our favorite meals. This is also a great way to get some veggies and protein in kids while they have fun making their tacos. I also use this as an opportunity to use up leftovers and stray veggies and condiments.

Easy Chicken Tacos

  • Shred the white meat from your leftover roast chicken and place in a skillet
  • Warm over medium heat, sauteeing for a few minutes
  • Stir in your favorite salsa, approximately 4 tablespoons, more if you like it really saucy
  • Warm through and serve with your tacos shells and condiments
Stuff Your Own Taco
  • Shred cheese, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, or other veggies
  • Chop peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, or other toppings
  • Place salsa, guacamole, sour cream, or other favorite taco condiments in small bowls with spoons
  • Warm tortillas or taco shells
  • Bring all the fixings to the table, family style, with spoons for serving and allow everyone to make their own taco
Enjoy!

GIVEAWAY TIME!
As a thank you to my Instagram fans, I am hosting a GIVEAWAY on Instagram today. Head on over and follow me to find out more about what I am giving away!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Family Dinner Made Easy- the Plan {blog series}


My Dinner Made Easy strategy is all around planning. When I started planning our weekly meals, not only did I remove almost all of the panic of what to cook for dinner, we started saving a lot of money.

We do the bulk of our grocery shopping on the weekend. This is because we like to shop at our farmers' market, many of the grocery stores have deals on the weekend, and that is when we are in town to shop. When we lived in the city I preferred mid-week shopping. Whenever it is that you like to shop, draft a plan before you go and it will make things much easier. The more that you do it, the easier it gets.

Creating a Menu for the Week
I look at the week and start with evenings when I need to consider time and ease. A busy weeknight due to kids' activities or a commitment will be scheduled first with something quick and easy, or a plan for leftovers or something from the freezer. Then I look at the nights when I have more time to cook and I plan meals around what we have in our fridge, freezer, and pantry. I start with perishables that need to be used up- soups, stir fry, one pan roasting- these are all good strategies to use up food. I also save bits and pieces for pizza night, making stock, or reserve herbs and cheese for baking.

Next, I plan other meals and choose them based on time to prepare, variety, and cost of ingredients. I would say we have about a dozen entrees per season that are the go-to dishes, but I also like to try something new each week, even if it is something super simple.

Apart from leftovers, the freezer, and make-ahead meals, another super solution to dinner is Breakfast! We love breakfast for dinner and eggs are such an amazing meal any time of day.

The Plan this Week
Here is our menu this week (I will be sharing some of these recipes later on too!)

Sunday- Roast Chicken Dinner (with an extra chicken to use later in the week)
Monday- Pasta- a simple Bolognese
Tuesday- Chinese Food- we are having friends over and I am using the extra chicken to make a hoisin chicken dish, a veg stir fry, and steamed rice. They are bringing wonton soup!
Wednesday- Soup- made from the chicken from Sunday, veg, and noodles. Served with homemade bread.
Thursday- Tourtiere- Last week I made this from the new cookbook Brown Eggs and Jam Jars. The recipe makes 2 so I froze one pie. We loved it so much we put it on the menu this week.
Friday- PIZZA!!!
Saturday- French Picnic- we love picking up food from the farmers' market for an easy dinner- fresh bread, cheese, preserves, and maybe some sausage to grill up.

Later this week I will share a few of the recipes listed above. Try planning your menu for next week and give yourself some time to think about it and make your shopping list from it.

Enjoy!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday Dinner Made Easy {blog series}


There are a few classic recipes that truly simplify planning meals for our family. Once I learned how to cook some of these classics, I was able to experiment with variations and have fun cooking from scratch without recipes. But sometimes it is not practical to cook full meals 7 days a week and so I plan for nights when we need easy dinner.

EASY DINNERS
There are evenings when I can plan for the fact that I will not have much time to cook. Perhaps an event after school or I am working late in preparation for a market or a big order. I plan for these nights so that they don't take me by surprise.

Each week I plan at least one meal that will give me extra for the freezer. I am not really spending any more time cooking, and I keep it to the things that pop in the oven nicely, but these meals save us. I put meals in the freezer each week without any extra work. How? I double up a batch of one or two meals. Something like lasagne or butter chicken or soup is perfect for this.

Another strategy is to double up on a recipe and use some or all of it later in the week in a new dish. Chicken lends itself particularly well to this.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite double-batch meals- Roast Chicken! Once you have mastered a Roast Chicken, you can make this with so many variations. It is simple, healthy food that is versatile. This is perfect for Sunday dinner, so plan for it this weekend and it will give you leftovers for later in the week.

ROAST CHICKEN - DOUBLE-BATCH RECIPE
SHOPPING LIST:

  • 2 small roaster chickens (for a family of 4, but buy larger chickens if your kids are older and eat more!)
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh garlic
  • 1 onion
PANTRY ITEMS:
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
STEPS:
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove chicken from fridge and bring to room temperature.
  2. Peel 4 garlic cloves, slice 1 onion, and quarter 1 lemon.
  3. Lay onion slices in bottom of roasting pan and place both chickens on the onions in the pan.
  4. Season the inside of the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper between the 2 chickens. Divide garlic and lemon between 2 chickens and stuff inside.
  5. Rub outside of chickens with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.
  6. Place pan in oven and roast for 1 1/2 hours approximately, or until juices run clear and thigh meat is completely cooked through. 
  7. Remove from oven and put one chicken aside to cool. Place tonight's chicken on a platter to sit and rest. I usually cover gently with tin foil to keep warm.
  8. Use the pan drippings to make gravy, if you wish.
  9. Serve roast chicken with your favorite side dishes such as mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, and gravy (our favorites!)
  10. With the chicken that you set aside, allow it to completely cool, and then store in the fridge for later in the week. 
TIPS:
From the first roast chicken, we get enough food for leftovers as well, which we usually have for lunch the next day. The kids love the chicken legs and wings and I love chicken salad sandwiches, so we make the most of the whole chicken. Once we are finished with it, we save the carcass to make stock and soup later in the week. Simply pop it into a plastic freezer bag and put in the freezer until you are ready to cook your stock. 

Questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! Up next? On Monday I am sharing one of our favorite dinner recipes to use up your extra roast chicken!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Eating on the Go- Family Dinner Made Easy {blog series}



Yesterday I introduced this series and revealed my Big Tip for making family dinner a much easier time of day. Today I am sharing how I have navigate feeding my family on busy days or when we are on the go. I thought that this might be good to cover as we head into the weekend, which for us, is always extra busy.

EATING ON THE GO
I am not a huge fan of eating on the go. Generally, I feel that food is better digested and enjoyed when sitting and focusing on just the act of eating. I also feel that food in moving vehicles can be dangerous, especially for young children, so we have been very cautious about it. However, we live 20 minutes out of town and going shopping or taking the kids to activities requires a lot of time in transport. Here are my tips for eating on the go:
  • bring food and drinks that, if spilled, won't damage the vehicle
  • avoid straws; sippy cups for little ones, and travel mugs or cups for bigger kids
  • avoid foods that are easily a choking hazard for young children (nuts, popcorn, raw carrots, whole grapes, hard candy, hot dogs)
  • use durable reusable containers for packing small quantities of food
  • we don't buy single packaged food, it is very expensive and wasteful and never as healthy as whole food such as fruit or veggies
  • our favorite on-the-go snacks- pieces of fruit or veggies, homemade baked goods, granola (a little messy), small sandwiches, and water. 
Here is my recipe for Cranberry Scones- a great quick snack to bake with kids and eat on the go!

EATING OUT AS A FAMILY AND STAYING HEALTHY
When I was a new mom, all I wanted was a healthy drive-thru. And then when I had a toddler and a newborn I REALLY wanted a healthy drive-thru. My best bet was grabbing lunch at Whole Foods or Starbucks when I needed to quickly eat out with the kids. As the kids got older and we took them to restaurants, we discovered that many restaurants have terrible food on the kids menu. We stopped ordering from the kids menu and simply ordered more of what we were eating because the kids had become accustomed to eating the same as us. We also eat out less than most families do. This was actually a huge decision for us for many reasons. Financially, it made sense. And we found that we could make a lot of the food we craved from a restaurant as well, if not better, than what we could go out for, and for much less money. My husband and I prefer to use our eating out funds for just the two of us or a special occasion.

WEEKEND DINNERS
In our home, we consider Friday and Saturday nights our Fun Food dinners. This is when we have pizza or pancakes for dinner or burgers and fries. All homemade, of course! Pizza has been our Friday Night Fun Food for as long as we have had kids. I love making pizza dough with them and letting them top their own pizzas. It is remarkably easy to make pizza dough and the toppings are often whatever leftover bits of veggies, cheese, and meat we have in the fridge from the week. You may have seen our Friday Night Pizza on Instagram many times!

Here is the recipe for my oh so easy PIZZA DOUGH. Make lots and freeze some for another week, or a late night snack, or for some easy flat bread for a light dinner of soup or salad.

FRIDAY NIGHT PIZZA RECIPE

  1. In a large bowl, pour in 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. 
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of yeast and stir to combine. Allow to sit until yeast has bubbled up.
  3. Add 4 cups all-purpose flour to water mixture. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to combine.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and kneed for a few minutes until dough is a smooth ball.
  5. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. 
  6. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 400 degrees. (I place bowl of dough on stove for the heat)
  7. Remove dough from bowl and divide into 4 equal balls. Roll each ball until smooth and sit under the kitchen towel while you roll the dough.
  8. Roll your first pizza dough a place on a pizza pan. Top with sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice. 
  9. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is lightly brown and bubbly.
  10. While waiting on first pizza, roll out remaining dough and prepare. I bake two pizzas at a time and rotate half-way through baking.
  11. Remove baked pizza from oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving. 
This recipes will make 4 pizzas but can easily be doubled. When I double the batch, I roll out the remaining dough and freeze on sheet pans in the freezer. I then wrap in parchment paper and plastic wrap and I have 4 pizza shells ready to use in the freezer. They bake very well from frozen but do extend the baking time.

HINT: Once you master homemade pizza dough there are so many variations. This dough is flexible and works great as a flat bread, rolls, or buns. 

Enjoy! I hope to hear from you so please leave comments or questions.

Next up? On Sunday I am sharing my PLAN for the week to help you be organized for a week of healthy, easy dinners!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

How I Simplified Family Dinners {blog series}



INTRODUCTION
If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you see a lot of behind the scenes of my business and family life. You mostly see photos of what I am cooking or baking. These photos are not styled or planned out, instead they are actual snapshots of what is happening in my kitchen. Messy kids baking. Fresh bread from the oven. Favorite meals being served. I love to share what is happening in my kitchen and I receive more comments about how I cook, what I cook, and requests for help than anything else on social media.

As part of a BIG project that I am launching later this year (more on that later!), I am researching the obstacles to cooking whole foods, meals from scratch, and reducing processed foods. I have heard from so many fans that want to be able to do this. I started to think about how I learned how to cook. People are often surprised that I rarely use recipes and that I own few cookbooks. The truth is, I learned HOW to cook, which means that I don't need recipes for every dish.

WHO THIS SERIES IS FOR
This series is for you if you are mostly responsible for preparing the food for a family. The recipes are geared to a family of 4, albeit young children, so you may want to increase quantities if you have teenagers. I hope to inspire you to find ease and simplicity in the Big Dinner Question. I will share my tips on how to get young children to eat a variety of healthy foods, how to save money and eat healthier lunches, and how to handle conversations around food and sweets with kids.

HOW I LEARNED TO COOK
How did I learn HOW to cook? I did not attend culinary school. But I did grow up with 2 parents that cooked and baked from scratch. I grew up near Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver where we bought our fresh food weekly. I grew up with a Dad that took me fishing and a Mom that threw amazing dinner parties. I worked in restaurants and had roommates that taught me various ethnic cuisines. I watched Julia Child and read the recipes from some of the first American chefs to publish books. I watched the first Martha Stewart show and read her magazines from the very beginning. I married a cook. I have a family. I started a food business.

So it isn't an easy answer. How people learn to cook can come from many different sources. I did not stand beside my Mom in the kitchen and help her. But she did give me my first cookbook, which I often credit as the spark to my lifelong love of baking. Can you learn how to cook if all of your life you haven't been a natural cook? I believe so. (I also believe the key to people knowing how to cook is to start when they are children. Hint hint about Big Project).


WHAT IS IN THIS SERIES
What this series will offer:

  • Some of my most requested family recipes
  • Tips on menu planning
  • What works for me to make more food from scratch with whole ingredients
  • Why my kids eat healthy
  • How I found ease and simplicity in feeding my family
MY FIRST BIG TIP
When my oldest daughter was 2 years old and I had a newborn baby, my husband worked shift work and I spent most dinner times alone with my children. My oldest daughter was a great eater and my youngest was still being breastfed. But dinner time seemed to be a struggle. I was tired and I needed a healthy meal, but I didn't know how to solve the fussy dinner time. 

The solution fell into place naturally, and looking back, it is one of my best parenting moves I have made to date. Are you ready for my Big Tip?

Dinner is not our biggest meal of the day.

Have I lost you? Well, here is why we shifted to this. I discovered that my children naturally needed more food at breakfast and lunch. And then they were eating small dinners and a bedtime snack. At first I resisted this. I grew up with Dinner being the main meal. So how could this be? We simply shifted when the quantity of food was being served. We still eat around a table for dinner, especially now that we are all usually home for dinner. But this isn't our biggest meal of the day. We focus on breakfast and lunch and then have a light dinner. 

Problems this solved: my husband and I work-out in the morning, so we have a large breakfast. We no longer need to ask/bribe/beg our kids to eat more food at dinner. Lunch is often a healthy dinner-sized portion with lots of protein and vegetables. Fussy toddlers are much easier to deal with at what my Mom calls "fussy hour" (5pm) when we are not disciplining over food. And finally, I never want eating and enjoying food to be a negative experience for my kids. We never make them finish what they don't want to eat. 

What does it look like?

Big Breakfast with protein, grains, dairy, fruit, and milk for kids. Coffee for me!
Big Lunch with protein, grains, veg, and maybe some cheese.
Snacks consist of fruit, yoghurt, homemade granola or baked goods, cheese, veg, smoothies.
Dinner is a light protein, grains, veg, or sometimes simply soup or salad (more like a traditional lunch).

We have 1 daughter at school and 1 at home. My oldest comes home from school with a huge appetite from a big day of activity and learning. My youngest had reflux as an infant and ever since then has always needed small amounts of food more frequently. Going with the flow of how our kids eat and metabolize food is very important. Packed lunches are just like home lunches, and we use a thermos for sending something hot like pasta, chili, or soup. 

I work from home but my lunches are the same as when I commuted to an office. I have always brought leftovers with homemade and whole snacks and water. 

BIG CHANGE IS ACTUALLY A SERIES OF SMALL CHANGES ADDED TOGETHER
I will help you through the small changes that add up to the Big Change of Easy Dinners. Follow this series over the next week, share your ideas and tips (comment here or share on Twitter or Instagram), and for everyone who participates at the end of the series I have a GIVEAWAY for you! Inspiration, fun, and PRIZES! Awesome-sauce!

Thanks for joining me on our family food journey! I hope that you will be inspired with a new recipe, tip, or ideas from others to achieve ease and simplicity with feeding your family.

Check back tomorrow for a great weekend recipe and tips on handling eating out!

~Kimberley