Fall Fun…A Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

One of the things I love about the Fall season? Pumpkins!

There’s so much you can do with pumpkins, from carving funny faces in them, to making pumpkin pie to baking the seeds for a crunchy snack. Today, we visited a pumpkin patch at a nearby farm and there was plenty of fun for kids and adults alike. We went on a tractor ride, frolicked through row upon row of pumpkins, played hide-and-seek in a cornstalk maze, visited farm animals and devoured delicious freshly baked pumpkin muffins! The weather was warmer than usual for October, the perfect temperature for an afternoon outing!

 

Delicious, Nutritious Fruity Smoothie

I recently discovered this delicious, nutritious smoothie recipe with mango, banana pineapple, avocado and spinach.

How to prepare

Simply blend together 0.5-1 cup water, 1/2 banana, 1 cup roughly chopped mango, 1 cup roughly chopped pineapple, 1 avocado and 2-3 cups baby spinach.

What I love about this recipe

  • Packed with nutrients
  • Full of flavor
  • A great way to use up spinach that would normally be lying neglected at the bottom of the fridge
  • A hit with the whole family and a good way to include  healthy fruits and vegetables in the kids’ diet

Suggestions/Modifications

  • If you are not too keen on banana, I would reduce the amount or even eliminate it altogether because even just half a banana can overwhelm the other flavors in the smoothie
  • If you don’t have time to chop up all the fruits, try using pre-chopped frozen fruits instead (lightly thaw before blending)
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Ready to drink!
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My testers….this smoothie is “kid approved”

 

 

Delicious Coconut Shrimp Ceviche Recipe

I would never have thought of combining shrimp, coconut and grapefruit in one dish but that is exactly what this coconut shrimp ceviche recipe does, and the result is divine!

I was inspired to make this recipe from the book “Simple Stunning Parties at Home: Recipes, Ideas and Inspirations for Creative Entertaining” by Karen Bussen.

I modified the recipe as shown below:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound  (approximately 90-100) shrimp, peeled, cooked, with the tails removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 to 1.5 grapefruits roughly chopped into sections, peel removed
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • If shrimp is frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Remove tails (if present) by gently prying off. You could also use a knife but you may lose some of the shrimp left inside the tail.
  • Extract juice from lemons (approximately 3 to 4) into a small bowl.
  • Add coconut milk to lemon juice and stir briefly to mix.
  • Cut grapefruits in half (transversely) and chop into small sections (skin removed)
  • Place shrimp in a serving dish and add grapefruit sections.
  • Pour lemon/coconut milk over the shrimp/grapefruit.
  • Chop up fresh cilantro and sprinkle over the dish.
  • Add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

What I love about this recipe:

  • Unique blend of flavors
  • Very quick and easy to make
  • Kid-friendly

Options/Modifications:

  • You can add some diced jalapenos for extra flavor.
  • You can chop up the shrimp into small pieces prior to marinading.
  • You can serve with steamed rice or on its own.
  • You can use raw shrimp and then marinade for a longer time (about 1 hour). The citrus juices of the lime/lemon will cook the shrimp.
  • Coconut milk can be quite high in saturated fat so you can select a light version with less fat if preferred.

Enjoy your delicious coconut shrimp ceviche!

 

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Coconut shrimp ceviche

 

Scrumptious Black Bean Enchiladas

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Image courtesy of potentialdoctor.com

I’m always on the look out for new tasty recipes, particularly ones that are kid-friendly and nutritious. Last week I stumbled upon this delicious bean enchilada recipe. It was scrumptious and very easy to make. The main ingredients are beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, grated carrots wrapped in tortillas and topped with a dollop of yogurt and grated cheese.

Now, my kids have an onion ‘radar’ second-to-none, but I was able to disguise the onions by chopping them up as small as possible and frying them in some delicious spices that the kids could not resist. (The spices were Dhana jeera and Garam masala which can be found at Indian stores and some supermarkets. If you are unable to locate these particular spices, you can whip up something similar using ground coriander, cumin, cloves and turmeric).

You can use any type of bean for this recipe (I used black beans) and even include some lentils. A green salad complements the enchiladas nicely. This recipe was a hit with the entire family and refrigerates well for a subsequent meal. I hope you enjoy your enchiladas as much as we did!

 

 

 

Love Speaks…The Proposal

19 May 2006. It was a cold, rainy night. I had spent the day eagerly preparing for Brendan’s birthday. We were still dating at the time. Before heading out for dinner, I gave him his hand-made birthday gift and tried to impress him by performing his favorite classical piece on my YAMAHA keyboard.

We  boarded the subway and headed downtown to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. A friend of ours had given us a gift card to dine at the Beaver Club Restaurant and we were looking forward to eating out in style for a change. Although I had dressed up for the occasion, the rain and wind had turned my hair into a slightly disheveled state and I felt a bit like a wet rat. As we arrived at the door to the restaurant, a waiter approached us at lightning speed reaching for our coats and umbrella. I felt slightly embarrassed at my appearance as I handed him my dripping wet coat.

As we walked in, regular patrons to the club lifted their heads, some eyeing us up and down, some with conspicuously raised eyebrows. I asked Brendan if we had come to the right restaurant. I felt out of place. As we approached our designated table, another set of waiters seemed to appear out of nowhere, one pulling out our chairs for us, one pouring water into glasses and another presenting us with menus. I was not used to such finery!

But all my initial discomfort disappeared as Brendan and I celebrated 3 years of being together as a dating couple and his 28th birthday that year. The food was exquisite! Brendan and I chuckled at one of the courses that consisted of a tiny piece of expensive, rare fish placed squarely at the center of a huge plate. Was that all there was? We gobbled up the sumptuous fish in one bite, hoping we were not breaking any etiquette rules.

After our delicious meal, Brendan asked if I wanted to go up Mount Royal for a walk. Concerned about my already disheveled hair (I have unruly curly hair that only becomes more unruly when faced with moisture of any kind), I asked if we could walk somewhere closer instead. He agreed, and as we walked outside, he suddenly pulled me into the park at Dorchester Square. “I’d like to say a little prayer for us, Mali“, he said nervously. I fiddled with my hair and distractedly positioned the umbrella over our heads trying to avoid the rain.

As we closed our eyes, he held one of my hands and proceeded to pray. When I opened my eyes, he was down on one knee with a ring in his hands. As the realization of what was happening began to sink in, his tender voice shook “Will you marry me, Mali?” Red rose petals swirled all around my feet in the tiny rivulets of rain. He had discretely sprinkled the petals on the ground while my eyes were closed. I screamed and threw down the umbrella, all worries about my hair completely forgotten. I embraced him, kissed him and said a resounding “Yes! Of course I will, babe!”.

We skipped off to the to subway like little children, hands clasped firmly together. We were completely drenched and water dripped down our clothes forming little puddles on the floor of the subway. We hugged and giggled, high on the euphoria of being engaged to be married. People stared, some smiling, others shaking their heads. With all of my focus on Brendan’s birthday, I never imagined he would propose to me that particular night.

We were married exactly one year later, on 19th May 2007, Brendan’s 29th birthday. I was 26 years old. We had a very simple wedding in the Laurentians of Québec, Canada with about 100 guests. Our wedding invitations were hand-made and addressed in my favorite calligraphy writing. We couldn’t afford catering so our friends chipped in and brought food. We had a feast! My mother made our wedding cake…out of 10 boxes of brownie mix! Our friends decorated the wedding venue for us. My mother and one of my brothers walked me down the aisle and I knew my late daddy was smiling down at me from heaven…on what was one of the most special days of my life!

2003. The year we started dating. I was 22 and Brendan was 25.
We started dating in 2003. I was 22 and he was 25.
Our hand made wedding invitation. This sketch of us was drawn by my mother-in-law in 2007.
Our hand-made wedding invitation. This sketch of us was drawn by Brendan’s mother in 2007.
19 May 2007. Our wedding day in Sainte Agathe-des-Monts, Québec, Canada
19 May 2007. Our wedding day in Sainte Agathe-des-Monts, Québec, Canada
Summer 2008, Old Port, Montréal. Married life before kids!
Summer 2008, Old Port, Montréal. Married life before kids!
Summer 2014. Married life after kids!
Summer 2014. Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Québec. Married life after kids!
Dorchester Square, downtown Montréal. Where the proposal took place!
Dorchester Square, downtown Montréal. Where Brendan proposed to me in May 2006.

Cilantro and Lime Salmon

I am always looking for new ways to cook fish and this week, I found an absolutely mouth-watering recipe for making salmon. Since I am cooking for a family of four and time is of the essence, my goal is to make recipes that are tasty yet easy to make.

Cilantro and Lime Salmon. Photo credit: potentialdoctor.com
Cilantro and Lime Salmon. Photo credit: potentialdoctor.com

The salmon recipe courtesy of Closet Cooking consists of a simple marinade made from cilantro, lime (juice and zest), and garlic. Jalapeno chilies are an optional ingredient. I made the salmon with a side of mashed potatoes, tomato and corn salad.

What I loved about this recipe:

  • The marinade keeps the fish moist during cooking
  • Makes use of healthy ingredients such as garlic and cilantro
  • Tasty lime flavor
  • Easy and fast

Suggestions/Tips:

  • Try to avoid cooking for more than the recommended time as this will dry out the fish.
  • If you don’t have much time to marinade the salmon, then marinade for just 15 minutes prior to cooking. This will still make a difference in bringing out the tasty lime flavor.
  • To enhance the appearance of the salmon, garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges

I hope you enjoy your cilantro and lime salmon dish!

Delicious Breakfast Egg Cups

I have been really enjoying trying new recipes regularly. It gives me something to look forward to in the kitchen, I get to surprise my family with something new and it is helping me to get more organized with my meal planning!

This week’s new recipe is an easy, healthy breakfast recipe courtesy of Super Healthy Kids.

It consists of eggs, spinach, red peppers and cheddar cheese baked in a muffin tray.

A freshly baked breakfast egg cup.
A freshly baked breakfast egg cup.

What I loved about this recipe:

  • Fast and easy
  • Colorful appearance from the spinach and red peppers
  • Versatile (you can vary the ingredients you include)
  • Great way to use up left-over vegetables
  • Freezes well for future meals
  • Kid-friendly (although one of my kids did pick out the red peppers!)

Suggestions/Tips:

  • Only fill the muffin tray 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up because the egg expands upon baking.

I hope you enjoy your breakfast egg cups!

Freshly baked breakfast egg cups.
Freshly baked breakfast egg cups.