Those Resolution Things

Those Resolution Things | www.kiwiandbean.com

I am writing this post from a small seaside town on the southwest coast of Mexico, where we have been spending the holidays with my family. Our days have been filled with sunning and swimming, beach-strolling, surfing (Kiwi), and market-going and cooking (me).

Those Resolution Things | www.kiwiandbean.com

I’m happy to say that after two weeks here I have finally mastered guacamole: 4 avocados, juice of 2 limes, handful of chopped cilantro, half a red onion (finely chopped) and a couple generous pinches of sea salt. Mash with a fork until chunky-smooth. For years I’ve been messing around with garlic and cumin, pomegranates and olive oil, and various other things that have no place in a guac. So landing on this bright and simple version was a (dare I say, life-changing?) revelation.

Those Resolution Things | www.kiwiandbean.com

It feels good to ring in the new year on the beach—energizing, invigorating and inspiring in a way that a cooped-up wintry Canadian start to the year never is. I can literally feel the trials of 2015 seeping out of my pores (that would be sweat) and I’m ready to take on 2016 with a renewed focus.

Those Resolution Things | www.kiwiandbean.com

I’m not usually one for food-related new year’s resolutions. At the risk of sounding terribly sanctimonious, I will say that I don’t really ever stop eating healthy (ish) or exercising, January to December. I have other things I need to focus on, of course: being more present and patient with my family, living in the moment, eliminating clutter, being more organized. The list goes on.

Those Resolution Things | www.kiwiandbean.com

But since I know many of you will be making food-related resolutions at this time of year, I thought I’d round up some of my favourite and most helpful resources on everything from meal planning to (non) dieting, and I hope you will find some inspiration hiding somewhere in here.

Here’s to a productive, healthy and joyous 2016.

Those Resolution Things | www.kiwiandbean.com

Meal Planning and Prep

Meal Planning Tips and Template. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the daily chore of feeding your family, a new meal planning routine might be just what you need. This post from a couple of years ago is a good place to start, and includes a printable fill-in-the-blanks template to get you started!

Kitchen Tips. This is another great post—a collection of kitchen tips for working parents. I sourced the majority of these from the experts—Kiwi and Bean readers!—so the tips and solutions in the post are totally realistic and attainable.

Slow Cooking. The slow cooker is a great ally in the quest to master the family weeknight dinner, and these recipes for Healthier Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Sliders are not only favourites in our house but reader favourites too. They both make large batches, so you can stow the leftovers in the freezer and pull them out on a busy weeknight.

Make-Ahead Meals. One of the greatest strategies for simplifying family-feeding is the make-ahead meal. Whipping up breakfast before you go to bed, or dinner before you head off to work in the morning eliminates so much mealtime stress. Try these dinners: Make-Ahead Black Bean and Spinach Enchilada Casserole, this freezer-friendly Tex-Mex Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie and this big-batch hidden veggie bolognese. And try these breakfasts: a make-ahead steel cut oatmeal (just warm it up when you get out of bed), some fruity overnight oats, and a batch of make-ahead whole grain banana waffles.

Eating Healthier

Non-dieting. I have a hate-on for fad diets that involve eliminating entire food groups. I don’t think they are sustainable, and they take a lot of the fun out of life. So I love love this recent article (and this one) that give you simple and refreshingly realistic and approachable guidelines for eating “healthy-ish”.

Healthy Family Food Habits. Simple Bites is one of my favourite family-feeding resources, and this post with 11 healthy family food habits to embrace in the new year is inspiring. Less waste, less stress, more planning, more trust, and more date nights. These are all habits I can stand behind.

Meatless Monday. Incorporating a weekly meatless Monday into your weekly meal plan is a great way to up your veggie intake and reduce your grocery bills. Bonus: it’s good news for the environment too. Try these recipes for Miso-Mushroom Oven Baked Risotto, Fridge-Clearing Veggie Chili and Pantry Pasta with Kale, Chickpeas and Sun-dried Tomatoes.

 

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Top 10 Recipes from 2015

Top 10 Recipes of 2015

2015 was the year of sweet ‘n salty chicken thighs. This humble recipe for pan-fried chicken thighs basted in a sticky and savoury sauce was the hands-down reader favourite of the year. Trailing behind it, but not by far, were a couple of slow cooker recipes (these Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Sliders and this Healthier Slow Cooker Pulled Pork), a family favourite Make-Ahead Black Bean & Spinach Enchilada Casserole and a super-easy quick and creamy weeknight rotini. Continue Reading →

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Crustless Pumpkin Pies

Mini Crustless Pumpkin Pies | www.kiwiandbean.com

Among the more important kitchen lessons I have learned the hard way: never brine a turkey at 8.5 months pregnant.

My intentions were good, as intentions always are. I was hosting a crowd for Christmas dinner, and there were expectations. When you write a food blog and profess to be a half-competent home cook, let’s face it: your Christmas dinner guests arrive with some pretty serious expectations. Whipped butter, maybe, and homemade gravy, definitely. Apple pie, fresh out of the oven. And a moist and juicy bird.

The butcher down the street from me claimed that a “simple” brine would deliver the moistest and juiciest bird I (and my holiday guests) ever did taste. And I bought it—both the butcher’s claim and the $6.00 packet of spice mix that would, with the addition of a little cool water, become the brine in which my turkey was to soak overnight. How hard could it be?

Hard enough, apparently, that I managed to dump an entire pot of brine—and a 12 pound turkey—onto my kitchen floor on Christmas Eve, splashing turkey juices all over my swollen pregnant feet and sending me into a complete salmonella frenzy. Thank goodness for my dad, who swooped in to clean up the mess, and my husband who salvaged the turkey and a bit of the brine while I rested my own little Butterball on the sofa and bawled my eyes out.

Mini Crustless Pumpkin Pies | www.kiwiandbean.com

I now know better than to over-complicate Christmas dinner. More important than a juicy bird, a lump-free gravy and a flaky pie are the people sitting around the table to share it with you. Keep things simple. Make as much as you can in advance. Don’t (ever) turn down contributions from your dinner guests. Keep a bottle of wine close at hand.

And when it comes to dessert—skip the pie crust. These Crustless Pumpkin Pies are a cinch to whip up, and you can make them a day or two before the big meal and let them chill in the fridge until shortly before you want to eat them. They’ve got all the taste and creamy texture of pumpkin pie—imagine a rich little pumpkin custard—but without the finicky pie crust.

The ingredients are basic—a tin of pumpkin, heavy cream, spices, and a few good ‘ol Canadian eggs. Whisk it all up (or recruit a kid to do it, as I often do), pour into small ramekins, bake, cool, and serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon. Easier, and more foolproof than brining a bird. I promise.

Disclosure: This post is presented in partnership with Egg Farmers of Canada and its #ScrambledPlan campaign. I received compensation to develop this fantastic egg-containing recipe and share it with you. Every time you reach for eggs this holiday season you’re supporting Canadian farmers. Now that’s something to celebrate!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Crustless Pumpkin Pies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 398 mL / 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup heavy (35%) cream
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (see note below)
  • ¾ cup organic cane sugar (or regular white sugar will work)
  • Pinch of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Divide the mixture between 6 to 8 small ramekins.
  3. Place the ramekins onto a large baking sheet, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the tops of the pies are firm to the touch and beginning to crack.
  4. Let cool completely and serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  5. If you want to make these in advance, pop the cooled pies into the refrigerator and pull them out and let them come to room temperature a couple of hours before serving.
Notes
I like the simplicity of pumpkin pie spice, but if you don't have any in your pantry you can use the following spices instead: ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ginger, and ¼ teaspoon cloves.

 

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Miso Mushroom Oven-Baked Risotto

Baked Mushroom Risotto | www.kiwiandbean.com

I’ve never been much of a risotto-maker because, well, the stirring. A traditional risotto requires its maker to stand at the stove for a half hour or so and stir. Constantly. No pausing (for, let’s say a glass of wine with a dinner guest, a conversation with spouse or an emergency diaper change) allowed. I rarely have the time or patience for such an all-consuming kitchen endeavour.

So the discovery that risotto could be—get this—baked in the oven (nary a stir required) was a bit of a game-changer for me. Risotto turned from a daunting chore to a do-able dinner. A dinner that I could pull off in a hurry on an ordinary Wednesday. Risotto on a Wednesday! Continue Reading →

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