Adventures in the Kitchen

Today marked a beginning for our little family. Our two boys are now engaging in after school activities. Hello Soccer Mom! Well not exactly, they’ve picked gymnastics, hip hop and swimming for now. This means a lot of scheduling, planning, reminding my husband where and when to drop off, pick up, etc.

Historically we’ve never been really great planners tending to be a bit more on the side of spontaneity rather than well planned. It’s ok, we take the mishaps, frequently in stride and keep our expectations low it usually results in a few good stories, some posted here!

Today was the first day though and I wanted it to go off without missing a beat. Get off to a good start at least. I also wanted to make sure everyone was fed with healthy and energy packed food. My oldest is gymnastics lesson is 2hrs long right at supper time – ekkkk!

What does a Mom do when she’s looking for a great easy recipe – ummmmm Pinterest, of course. I knew I wanted a great salad packed with protein and have been craving fresh flavours lately so I picked a Southwest Salad. I knew the basics and didn’t need a recipe for the salad base but I did for the dressing and hence the Sunday morning, hot coffee, legs curled up under me on the chair beside the fireplace, Pinterest session. I could have stayed there for hours but had to get my youngest to swimming lessons. Eventually I pulled together a few recipes for an avocado dressing and compiled one that suited mine and my youngsters taste.

I didn’t expect to post this until I saw the end result and the combination of colours inspired me to post so here’s a result of the salad with and without the creamy avocado dressing.

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I should probably come up with an awesome name for this salad and dressing combo……..how about Southwest Salad with Creamy Avocado Cilantro Lime dressing. Ok, it’s not awesome but it is descriptive!

The Salad Basics:

Romaine, thinly sliced (I threw in a bit of fresh basil my friend gave me earlier in the afternoon for a really fresh taste)

Corn, Black Beans, Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, Grape Tomatoes and pre-cooked chicken (one of those barbecue already to go ones – you could roasted your own but who has the time for that!)

Throw it all together in the quantities you like, salad part done. Sooooo simple!

Creamy Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing

Flesh of a whole avocado, a bit of salt, a bit of pepper, a pinch of cumin, a dash of paprika, juice from one small lime, about a 1/4 cup of each of: milk, plain greek yogurt and salsa. Add as much cilantro as you like to suit your taste. Blend it all up and pour it on top.

To be honest mine didn’t really pour I kinda scooped it onto the salad then mixed up the salad really good. Before completely devouring it.

If you’re looking for something really fresh with vibrant colours to eat give it a shot. Substitute anything you like or head on over to Pinterest and find a recipe that suits your taste buds, then let me know if you like it!

Day one off to a good start!

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A travelling momma’s Mother’s Day

In true to me form I took my two boys to the “big city” this past weekend for a few days of fun with my best friend. Of course when we scheduled the trip I completely forgot it would be Mother’s Day.

So, my Mother’s Day wasn’t exactly full of blissful breakfast in bed followed by a lazy morning or some family time mixed with some “me” time. It started with an 0630 wake up call from my youngest, we snuggled on the couch after I got up and ran downstairs for coffee because my friend who we were visiting is not a coffee drinker and doesn’t keep any in the house. This meant I was dressed and in public by 0645, ugh.

On my way to get coffee, totally uncaffienated, I actually ran into a Dad pushing a baby in a stroller nearly knocking the poor thing over. While apologizing profusely and trying not to rub my now painful crouch I commented on what a good Dad he was letting this little one’s momma have a sleep in. He responded with “ya, she really needs it too!” Which led me to reminisce about my first Mother’s Day it’s a special one for sure.

Back to my now fifth Mother’s Day, coffee in hand, sandwiched between my two little fellas watching cartoons I was certainly happy even though my tummy was rumbling for some sort of breakfast in bed or not.

I was quickly distracted from the grumbling with preparing for us to leave and getting some food into my growing boys. Once everyone was awake and ready to hit the road we drove to Granville Island, one of my favourite public markets in the world. While my friend had the boys amused for a few minutes, buying them donuts of course, I took the opportunity to check out a new place just outside the market. I found myself face to face with a pistachio chocolate croissant, I figured I deserved a treat. Happy Mother’s day to me 🙂

Now this wasn’t breakfast in bed but it was certainly blissful. I admit I have a weakness for pistachios and chocolate so now I know putting them together in a nice flaky fresh out of the oven so it’s still warm in your hand croissant is a really, really good idea. Of course I would never make these at home, too much work, which means I HAVE to go back. Funnily enough the bakery is called A Bread Affair, which was clearly what was happening in my mouth, tastebuds meet you new lover.

Afterwards we left Granville Island and headed to Kits Beach for a play in the park before heading to the ferry and the rest of our journey home. At this point I realized I hadn’t taken many photos of the trip and I chalk this up to traveling alone with the kids. You almost always have one or two hands to hold, manage luggage, etc so typically the camera is an after thought. I did try however and managed to get an honest photo of my youngest mid temper tantrum, he did not want to go to the park or wear shoes or walk anywhere. He just wanted to roll around on the grass, rubbing his eyes and yelling “NO!”

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On our journey back home both boys fell asleep in the back of the car and I listened to music for the 90 minute drive from the ferry home contemplating my Mother’s day.

It felt good, it felt like me, not perfect, a little crazy, but grateful for the memories we made, the new experiences we shared. Grateful to be a mother and to be able to share this day with every other mother out there including my own.

My love affair with street food

I have no idea where it started but I have this love affair with eating food made on the street, from a cart, food truck, a small hot plate on the sidewalk, sold from the trunk of a car it always peaks my intrigue and then my appetite.

I’ve heard it a million times the “don’t eat that you’ll get sick” but I always throw caution to the wind and do it anyway and yes, I have been ill many, many times while traveling. I’m more skilled now though. It has to be hot, like scorch your mouth you have to wait 20 minutes for it to cool down enough to eat hot and I like to see it being made. I make exceptions though, rules are meant to be broken, right?

One of my favourite things to get in Chile is ceviche. Fresh, juicy, salted morsels of white fish “cooked” in an ungodly amount of lemon juice sprinkled with finely chopped onion and fragrant cilantro what’s not to love? With it’s long coast line Chile is a seafood lovers paradise. There are so many types of fish and seafood in two weeks of travel you will have barely scratched the surface. The best part, it’s cheap.

Ceviche can be found at vendors on the various beaches our favourite is Totoralillo (pronounced toe-toe-ra-lee-yo) just south of La Serena. There you can find multiple vendors barely arm’s length from where the fishing boats dock to unload their catches. We scooped up a couple of cups for $3 each.

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Maybe because it’s usually cheap or readily available or the food of the people I really don’t know but what I do know is my kids are already veterans of street food and I like it that way.

Ok, ok but what about the food in Chile

I’ve been writing a lot about traveling with kids, visiting in-laws, even doing yoga on vacation and a spontaneous winery stop but what about the food. Don’t think I’ve forgotten. I haven’t. I’m actually still dreaming about one place we stopped that stole my heart.

Pan Pan Vino Vino.

We stopped here on a recommendation from the fella at Estampa winery, which is just down the road and I couldn’t have been more overjoyed with the result. We hit the end of the lunch rush with the few remaining tables getting up to leave on our arrival, lunch is the main meal in Chile so you usually find full tables for most of the afternoon, and quickly nestled into a rustic outdoor table in the shade with just a slight breeze diminishing the hot humid day.

Since we were headed to my father in-laws for a BBQ that evening I choose to sample the appetizer cheese plate with four locally made cheeses, a few dates wrapped in bacon and complemented it with a Pisco Miel. Pisco Sour is the traditional drink in Chile at Pan Pan Vino Vino they substitute the sour for a slightly sweeter version with honey; a delightful result. With my Pisco Miel in hand I settled back into the chair to watch my boys finding their own shady comfort zone in the nearby hammocks. My husband ordered a fuller lunch opting for succulent stone oven roasted lamb and root vegetables cooked to perfection served with a side of mashed garlic cauliflower. Hearing him moan over the lamb, dripping hot savoury broth with every forkful, I admit to thieving a few bites for myself.

The food, the food, it was divine, but the atmosphere stole the show. Just off the bustling highway you enter into a completely different world. The quiet and understated front exterior opens into an open air courtyard dining experience where the owner has perfected old world rustic charm with touches of the modern perfectly placed as evidenced in the bathroom pictured below. Actually, I’ll just stop talking now and let you see what I’m talking about.

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DSC_0307DSC_0312DSC_0289DSC_0324 One thing I’ve learned while traveling it’s ALWAYS a great idea to get a locals recommendation, seek them out, most of the amazing places I have been directed to aren’t obvious but are always, always memorable.