Sunday, 29 September 2013

Easy Slow Cooker Roast Beef & Gravy

I am addicted to the fabulous taste of a great roast beef, especially the amazing flavour that comes from the ones that are grass fed. It reminds me of Sunday dinner as a child.

Easy Slow Cooker Roast Beef & Gravy

Beef Roast
1 can Condensed Mushroom Soup (Make your own!)
1 pkg Onion Soup Mix (Make your own!)
1/2 cup Beef Stock

Place roast in slow cooker. Combine mushroom soup, onion soup mix, and beef stock in a bowl. Mix well and pour over roast. Cook for up to 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low (depending on how well done you like your roast - we do 3 hrs on high). Take out the beef and cover with foil for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving. While the meat is resting, stir up the remaining gravy with a whisk and serve over sliced meat & Make-Ahead Herb & Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Perfect with a little dollop of horseradish!  

Simple & delicious meal. 

I'll be honest, it's not my usual scratch kind of meal, but it's easy and tasty and these days that's the most important thing! 


Friday, 27 September 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday

Happy 3rd Birthday Lady & Bug!

Lady & Bug turned 3 last week. I find throwing parties overwhelming - I'm happier to have a simple, low-key affair, so this year we decided to rent a local centre that had some pretty cool ride on toys and balls instead of having it at our house. I made a few snacks, the kids played, and the adults visited. 

Of course, what birthday would be complete without a birthday cake. I'm not much of a cake decorator but the rainbow cake with white butter cream icing was delicious. I wish I had got a shot of the inside, but alas, it was gone before I could find my camera! It was similar to this, but I just used a white cake mix & food colouring!

Of course, it was decorated as instructed by my 3 year olds with white yummy "sugar" and a pink & blue 3! 

Also as requested, Rainbow Shots of Gold.

And there's a little peek into Lady & Bug's 3rd birthday.


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Freezer Meals: Big Cook Fall 2013

This fall's big cook happened over a two day period due to my lovely new work schedule, so it was one day of chicken dishes and one day of beef dishes.

This Big Cook included the following dishes (top-bottom, Left-Right):

Chili (x2) 
Taco Soup (x2)
Roast Chicken (x3) (just chicken, onions, potatoes & carrots for the crockpot)

There...24 meals and my little freezer is full, more than enough to keep us fed for several weeks. Time to start emptying it because we have a side of beef coming in a month!!! Hope you find a little inspiration to fill your freezer and make the craziness of your life just a little easier.

For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Mexitalian Chicken Pasta

Sometimes you need a tasty super easy meal...

Mexitalian Chicken Pasta

1 lb chicken, diced or cut into small pieces
1 cup pre-made Alfredo Sauce
1 cup Salsa
3 cups Cooked Pasta
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded 

Slow cooker directions: add chicken, alfredo sauce and salsa. Stir and cook for 3 hours on high. Add cooked pasta, stir well, and continue cooking for another 1/2 hour until all the sauce has been absorbed. Add cheese and cook until melted (about 10 minutes). Stir in melted cheese and serve.

Oven directions: combine chicken, sauces and pasta in an oven proof dish. Bake for 30 minutes (or until chicken is cooked). Top with cheese and bake another 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with your favourite salad and delicious garlic bread for an easy meal that even kids can make!

This meal can be frozen to make it even easier!

For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Vietnamese Beef & Noodles

All I can say is mouth is watering just thinking about eating this again! Just in case you didn't already know, I'm a HUGE fan of Vietnamese food and next to Salad Rolls, this is my favourite! Once again, a dish I learned in Vietnam at a little cooking school in Hoi An.

Vietnamese Beef & Noodles

1 pkg (about 4 cups) Rice Noodles, cooked 
1 Onion, thinly sliced
1 lb Beef Tenderloin, cut in 1/2-3/4 in pieces
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
6 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Tbsp Oil (canola or peanut is good)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Green Onions and Peanuts for garnish (optional)

In a saute pan, cook onion until it starts to caramelize. Set aside. Cook beef to your taste (I like it a little pink). While beef is cooking combine soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and garlic. Once cooked, add onions and sauce to beef. Cook for about 2 minutes. Serve over cooked rice noodles and garnish as desired with green onions and peanuts.

Great with a little peanut sauce on the side to dip the beef in!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Peanut Sauce

Take your Vietnamese Salad Rolls to the next level with this amazing Peanut Sauce.

Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup Cold Water
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1/2 cup Peanut Butter
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp White Vinegar
2 tsp Sesame Oil
1 cup Water
chopped peanuts and mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Dissolve cornstarch in cold water. In a sauce pan, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer until everything is dissolved. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until smooth and thick. Let cool and use as dipping sauce for Vietnamese Salad Rolls, chicken or beef satay, or anything you can think of that would taste great with a little extra peanut flavour. 

So Good!


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Vietnamese Shrimp Salad Rolls

One of my favourite parts about travelling is discovering new food and learning to make them at home. Years ago I discovered Vietnam and Vietnamese food and fell hopelessly in love. My absolute favourite is Salad Rolls (or fresh spring rolls). I can't say that I make pretty salad rolls, no matter how hard I try they never look like the ones in the restaurant, but they are amazing, so I don't really care how nice they look! It's so nice to just make my own when I'm hungry for one (which is all the time!). They are surprisingly easy to make and are the perfect snack. Make a batch of peanut sauce for dipping to make them even better!

Vietnamese Shrimp Salad Rolls

Rice Paper
Large Shrimp, cooked, peeled and cut in half 
Mint Leaves
Cucumber, julienned or long thin slices
Carrots, julienned or long thin slices
Rice Noodles, cooked and cooled

Wet rice paper according to package directions. Lay the two sides of the shrimp in the middle of the rice paper, place 2 mint leaves on the paper beside the shrimp. Add a few cucumber and carrot slices and top with a small handful of rice noodles. Fold the top part of the wrap over and then the sides in and roll tightly.

Great healthy snack and you can serve these to your friends & family with gluten issues!


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Tex Mex Seasoning

I go through so much taco/tex mex seasoning that I've started making my own...not only is it cheaper, I can also control what's in it! I buy all of my spices in bulk or in large bags (asian or indian markets often carry them), mix all the ingredients up in a bowl or large measuring cup, and just refill the large taco seasoning container that I originally bought. 

I will give you the recipe for a small batch (because not everyone is as crazy about tex mex seasoning as we are!), but I usually triple or quadruple this recipe to fill my container.

Tex Mex Seasoning

1/2 cup Chili Powder
1/4 cup Onion Powder
1/8 cup Garlic Powder
1/8 cup Cumin Powder
2 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Fine Ground Sea Salt
1 tsp Cayanne Pepper (or more...optional)

Use as desired to flavour Mexican or Southwestern meals.

1/4 cup replaces your package of taco/chili seasoning.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Southwestern Spaghetti

My family LOVES southwestern/mexican food, so I try hard to make something every week. Here is a super quick meal that freezes nicely too!

Southwestern Spaghetti

500g Spaghetti (enough for 6 people)
2 cups Frozen Corn
1 lb Ground Beef
1 Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 jar (26 oz) Spaghetti Sauce
2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
optional toppings: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, olives, more cheese, or cilantro

Add spaghetti and corn to a large pot of boiling water. Cook for 8-10 minutes until pasta is done. Drain. Meanwhile in a pan, brown ground beef. Add onions and garlic and cook until transparent. Add spaghetti sauce and heat through. 

Pour cooked spaghetti & corn in a baking dish and add meat sauce and cheese. Mix well. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes until bubbly. Top whole dish with optional toppings or serve on the side.

Quick easy meal that tastes amazing - the perfect blend of Italian and Mexican. I make lots to save for lunches during the week.

For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Cordon Bleu Bake

It's September and even though it's still close to 30 degrees I'm craving hearty warming meals. Today was my first day at my new job, so I only had a bit of time and threw together bits of my favourite meals and made it into a casserole. It was delicious!

Cordon Bleu Bake

3 cups Chicken, cooked & cubed
2 cups Swiss Cheese, shredded
2 cups Ham, cooked & cubed
1/2 cup Butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Dry Mustard Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Pepper
1/2 cup Flour
2 cups Milk
1/2 cup White Wine
1 package (120g) Chicken Stuffing Mix
1/4 cup Butter, melted
1/2 cup Swiss Cheese, shredded

In a greased baking dish, spread cubed chicken in an even layer. Top with shredded cheese, then top with cubed ham. 
In a saucepan, melt butter. Add onion and cook until transparent. Add garlic and seasonings and cook for 30 seconds. Add flour, stir and let cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk and wine and stir until sauce thickens. 
Pour over ham. In a separate bowl, combine stuffing mix, melted butter and swiss cheese. Spread evenly over sauce mixture.

Bake in a 350F oven for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and topping browns. 

Great make-ahead or freezer meal.

Wishing it were at least 10 degrees cooler so I could really enjoy this wonderful dish...

For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.


Monday, 2 September 2013

Goodbye Summer

I'M BACK....

Nope, I didn't disappear, I just went to North Korea :) Seriously! Why doesn't anyone believe me when I say that?? It was an amazing time and I learned so much about a culture and people that I knew almost nothing about before I went there. I'll post the link to my travel blog when I get around to posting it!

It's been a month since my last post and the Ladybug family has been vacationing hard. All that camping and travelling left me exhausted and lacking inspiration or motivation to cook or even get off the couch.

The Jetlag has finally subsided and somehow through the haze I managed to add Barista to my job title in the process, so hopefully I can still find time to do all of this!

So here's a little about the Ladybug household's summer...

Camping & hiking at Bridal Falls, BC

Potty Training...still in process...the longest process ever!!!

Learning to ride balance bikes

Crafts with cousins while camping at Lac le Jeune, BC

Forest fire sunset while camping in Oliver, BC

Daddy Ladybug & I went to North Korea

And saw lots of these!

Now we're all home and ready for the chaotic & carefully scheduled life that is the rest of the year!

Goodbye summer, hello September...


Friday, 2 August 2013

Cheeseburger Macaroni

Daddy Ladybug love Hamburger Helper, but I like to make things from scratch as much as possible, so it's forbidden in our house. Here's my version of a great easy meal that everyone will love.

Cheeseburger Macaroni

2 lb Ground Beef
1 cup Onions, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
4 cups Milk
1 cup Water
4 cups Elbow Macaroni (uncooked)
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Seasoning Salt
1 & 1/2 tsp Oregano
1 & 1/2 tsp Parsley
1 & 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Beef Oxo (broth seasoning)
2 cups Valveeta Cheese, cubed (or shredded cheddar cheese if you want to be healthy!)

Brown meat. Add onions and cook until tender, add garlic for 30 seconds. Add milk, water, macaroni, sugar and seasonings. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 8-10 minutes until macaroni is tender, but not overcooked. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving to allow the liquid to absorb.

This is a large recipe, makes about 8 generous portions and you might even have left overs for lunch too!

Don't buy Hamburger Helper - make this delicious easy meal instead.


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad

3 cups uncooked Macaroni
1/2 cup Red Pepper, diced
1/2 cup Carrot, diced
1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, diced
1/2 cup Dill Pickles, diced
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup Sour Cream
3 Tbsp Italian Seasoning Mix
2 Tbsp Seasoning Salt

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and cool. Combine cooked macaroni with peppers, carrots, cheddar cheese and pickles. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise and seasoning. Add dressing to macaroni mixture and combine well. Refrigerate up to 24 hours before serving.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Fruit Platz (Egg Free)

I am lucky enough to live in one of the most bountiful & beautiful places on earth so when the local fruit and berries start to come it's time to make Platz.

Platz is a traditional Mennonite coffee cake made with a variety of fruits with a delicious crumbly topping - perfect for an afternoon coffee break or dessert when company is coming.

Most of my neighbours are lacto-vegetarians and don't eat eggs for religious or cultural reasons, so I've had to adapt my old family recipes to share the bounty of this year's harvest with my neighbours!

Here's my no-egg version of Platz with Plums.

Fruit Platz (Egg Free)

3 cups Flour
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Margarine cut up into small pieces
1 cup Milk

up to 1/4 cup of Sugar
4 cups of Fruit
(plums, blueberries, rhubarb, apricots, cherries, raspberries, peaches, strawberries all work well - fresh is best, but frozen also works)

1 & 1/2 cup Sugar
2 cups Flour
2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 cup Margarine

To make the crust, combine flour and baking powder in a food processor. Add margarine and pulse until crumbly. Add milk slowly until all combined. Spread evenly on the bottom of a greased baking sheet.

Sprinkle sugar on top of the crust - more for the sour fruit & berries and less for the sweet ones. Cover the crust with a single layer of fruit - cut the larger fruit in sections or halves.

To make the topping, combine sugar, flour and baking powder. Mix in margarine with fingertips until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over fruit layer. 

Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Yummmmm. Happy coffee break!


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Camping Play Canopy

Lady & Bug love to play with cars and figurines and that doesn't change when they're camping.

The rain, the hot sun, and the lack of shade due to damage from the mountain pine beetle in our area make finding a protected place to play in camp grounds difficult. 

Daddy Ladybug came up with an ingenious way to keep the kids contained - safe from the blistering sun and dry in the rain. We've tried it on a few of our camping trips this year and they have stayed entertained and safe from sun & rain for many hours at a time. It was a life saver for us so I thought I'd share!

Supplies needed:
  • some kind of shelter - a tent, canopy, tarp, or RV awning
  • a table or rug for kids to lay on
  • a play mat (if you don't have one you can make something out of cardboard)
  • toys - cars, dolls, figurines, etc.
First, set up your shelter over a picnic table or area that will not be flooded and is protected as possible from the sun. Then place a play mat on the table or in the middle of the rugged area. Add toys and kids and voilĂ , you've got a protected place to let kids play! If you want to see more ideas for camping with kids check out my camping page.

Now grab yourself a nice cold beverage and sit back in your camping chair!


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Lemon & Garlic Hummus

Lemon & Garlic Hummus

1 can (540 ml or 19 oz) Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)
Juice of 2 Lemons (about 5-6 Tbsp)
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1 & 1/2 Tbsp Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste)
2-4 Cloves Garlic (according to taste)
1/4 tsp Sea Salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add more olive oil if needed to make smooth hummus.

Serve with Grilled Naan Bread for a great snack or appetizer.


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Monday, 15 July 2013

Easy Sweet & Sticky BBQ Ribs

Ribs can be a lot of work and my life isn't really conducive to work intensive meals, so I've started making ribs the easy way. I'll admit, the slow grilled version is amazing, but when I need a quick meal and want ribs - this is the ticket!

Easy Sweet & Sticky BBQ Ribs

3 sides of ribs (pork or beef)
1 Bottle Beer
1 Onion, quartered
4 clove Garlic
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1 bottle of your favourite BBQ sauce (Bulls Eye Guinness)
1 & 1/2 cups Apricot Jam
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Hot Sauce 

Cut ribs into smaller pieces (2-3 rib sections). Add to a large stock pot with beer and enough water to cover ribs. Boil for 30-40 minutes until meat is tender and falling off the bone. 

In a separate bowl, combine BBQ sauce, apricot jam, brown sugar, and hot sauce. Spread over cooked ribs, cover, and let marinade for 20 minutes. Pre-heat grill to medium high heat. Grill sauced ribs for about 5 minutes on each side until the sauce is nicely caramelized.

Serve with Grilled Asparagus and Dillytard Potato Salad for a fantastic BBQ meal. 

Camping option: pre-boil the ribs and bring the sauce - a great addition to any camping menu.


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus is one of our favourite vegetables. I didn't have it as a kid, it was hard to find then, but it's readily available now (although very expensive when not in season!).

My favourite way to have asparagus is to grill it on the BBQ, a perfect side for steak or ribs! 

Grilled Asparagus

1-2 bunches Asparagus
Olive Oil 
Course Sea Salt

Preheat Grill to med-high. Remove the dry ends by snapping off the bottom section of the asparagus (if needed). Toss in Olive Oil and sprinkle with sea salt as desired. Spread asparagus in a single layer on the grill and turn every few minutes. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until desired tenderness.

I usually grill the asparagus while my meat is resting. An easy healthy side to any grilled dinner.


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Raspberry Wine Spritzer

It's hot and the Raspberries are ready.

Need a drink that will cut the calories, reduce your alcohol consumption, and help you stay cool in the summer heat...yes please! I've discovered that many of my friends are unfamiliar with this classic hot weather drink, so lets bring the spritzers back! 

From the Raspberry Capital of Canada, here is a lovely refreshing drink to keep you cool through this heatwave.

Raspberry Wine Spritzer

Ice Cubes (about 1/2 cup)
10 Raspberries (fresh or frozen)
6 oz (3/4 cup) White Wine (your favourite, I like Gehringer Brother's Gewrztraminer-Schonburger from Oliver, BC)
6 oz (3/4 cup) Lemon-Lime Soda (Sprite/7up - diet works too!)

Combine in a large glass and mix well until raspberries break up a bit and release some juice/colour. 

Sip and enjoy!


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Camping Menu 2013

School's out for the summer and it's Canada Day on Monday. That means today is the launch of the official camping season!

In honour of this momentous day, I though I'd share my camping menu with you! This year I have a 4 day camping menu. We usually only go camping for 2-3 days, but I've added an extra day in case it's a long weekend (like this weekend!).

Cooler Tips: I try to bring as much canned or frozen food as possible to reduce the amount of ice I need to pack into my cooler. Milk jugs filled with water and frozen make great cooler packs and give you some nice cold clean drinking water too. Keep a refrigerator thermometer in your cooler and if the temperature rises, get some more ice!

2013 Camping Menu

Day 1 (Friday)
Travel Snack - Ladybug's Trail Mix
Evening Snack - S'mores

Friday Notes: Pre-make trail mix and store in ziploc bags for the drive to the campground. Help make dinner easier by marinading chicken at home and storing in a ziploc bag. Cut up greek salad and prepare dressing (don't add dressing until you start making dinner) and pre-make Naan (wrap in aluminium foil).

Day 2 (Saturday)
Breakfast - Pancakes & Strawberries
Lunch -  Chicken Quesadillas
Afternoon Snack - Watermelon
Evening Snack - Banana Boats

Saturday Notes: prepare pancake mix ahead of time for a quick hot breakfast. Use left over chicken for quesadillas. pre-cook, marinade, and freeze ribs. Pre-make potato salad without eggs & use a small unopened jar of mayonnaise (added when serving) as it doesn't have to be refrigerated to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

Day 3 (Sunday)
Lunch - Taco Soup
Afternoon Snack - Oranges
Supper - Low Country Shrimp Boil & Leafy Greens Salad
Evening Snack - Orange Brownies

Sunday Notes: Bring oatmeal pre-baked and reheat before serving. Taco soup can be pre-made & frozen or bring frozen ground beef and canned ingredients. Use frozen shrimp & sausage for low country boil.

Day 4 (Monday)
Breakfast - Breakfast Hash (left over fried potatoes, meat & veggies with a few eggs)
Lunch - use up any left over food (or have hotdogs!)
Driving Home Snack - Ladybug's Trail Mix

Pack all the spices you need in this handy little home-made spice container.

Yay, food to shop!

Happy Long Weekend!


If you want to see more ideas for camping with kids, check out my camping page.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Dillytard Potato Salad

Dillytard Potato Salad

7-8 medium Potatoes (I used red potatoes)
1 cup Celery, diced
4 Dill Pickles, diced
1/4 cup Fresh Dill, chopped
3 Boiled Eggs, Diced (Optional)
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup Sour Cream
1 1/2 Tbsp Regular Yellow Mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp Grainy Dijon Mustard (even better with some heat)
1 Tbsp Seasoning Salt (no MSG)
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Peel & cut potatoes into bite sized pieces. Boil in water for 20-30 minutes until soft (but not mushy). Add celery, pickles, dill & eggs (optional) and mix together. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir well. Pour over potato mixture and mix until everything is evenly coated. Adjust mustard and seasoning according to personal taste.

The perfect BBQ side dish!


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Clean Campers

The one thing I hate about camping (we're talking real camping...not camping in an RV with water/power) is that there is no dishwasher (I love my dishwasher) and no sink for washing hands and general cleanliness. I always feel like I'm dirty and that nothing really gets cleaned when you're camping so here's my take on camping cleanliness - cleaning for dishes, dirty hands, and general cleanliness when there's no comforts of home!

For keeping the dishes and food prep clean and healthy, I've got two basins (Rubbermaid) that I keep on the picnic table and an expanding dish rack (IKEA) for washing dishes. They all fit nicely together and go in the bottom of my Camping Essentials Bin. Hot water from the kettle and some dish soap help to kill germs on dishes. Don't forget food safety even when camping!

I use one of those Rubbermaid bins for hand washing before & after meals and any time during the day. It just stays on the table the whole day. Hand soap and a towel are close by! I also keep hand sanitizer for those times when water isn't available or when you've just changed a messy diaper in the middle of making dinner and water & soap just don't seem like enough!! Those little kiddies can get mighty dirty playing outside too - that water is usually black before dinner! Just keep a kettle on the camp stove and quickly warm it up every once in a while if you want warm wash water.

I also have a toilet kit for bathroom cleanliness as I find a lot of our more rustic camp grounds do not have a water supply conveniently near toilets or are lacking in toilet paper. I've used an idea I saw on Pinterest  (can't find the original idea, but there is the link to the post I saw) and added my own little touches...

...some hand sanitizer and a flash light for those late night trips to the toilet. The lid fits on nicely over everything to keep it together & dry.

Then there's general body cleanliness - get rid of the body stink when there's no showers (or no lake to wash it off!). Easily solved by a rub down with baby wipes or a basin of warm soapy water. My mother used to call them little "bird baths" when I was a kid - almost as good as a shower in the morning! Especially great for those longer camping trips. For little ones, I usually fill the basin (or fill one of my camping storage bins for the bigger kids) and give them a sitting bath to keep them smelling a little better and keep the diaper/sweat/heat rash at bay! And don't forget to wash feet at the end of the day - nothing worse than a tent full of foot stink while you're trying to sleep!

Remember to refill your little camping soap containers with biodegradable soap (I like Dr. Bronner's) to keep nature happy & healthy!

If you want to know what else I pack for a camping trip with kids - here's my Camping with Kids Packing List.

You really can be clean while you camp (if you want to be)!


If you would like to see my other ideas for camping with kids check out my Camping Page.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Low Country Shrimp Boil

Low Country Shrimp Boil

12 cups Water
1 Onion, quartered
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 bottle Beer
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning (cajun seafood seasoning)
2 lbs Nugget Potatoes
4 Corn on the Cob, halved
1 ring Kilbassa (smoked sausage)
400 g Shrimp, shelled & de veined
Lemon Wedges

In a large stock pot, boil water, onion, garlic, beer and seasoning. Add potatoes & cook for 15 minutes. Add corn and sausage and cook for another 10 minutes. Check that potatoes & corn are done before adding shrimp. Add shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes until pink and hot all the way through. Drain. Serve on a large platter or newspaper and sprinkle with additional Old Bay Seasoning. Serve with melted butter for dipping and lemon wedges.

Perfect summer feast for camping or backyard BBQ's. 


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Monday, 17 June 2013

Sweet & Sour Pork

Sweet & Sour Pork

4 Boneless Pork Chops, cut in 1" pieces 
2 Tbsp Cooking Sherry
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1/2 cup Flour
2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 cup Chicken Broth
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Sweet Red Peppers, sliced
2 Sweet Green Peppers, sliced
1 medium Onion, halved & sliced
1 stalk Celery, thinly sliced
1 & 1/2 cup Baby Carrots
1 can (8 oz) Pineapple Tidbits (undrained)

In a bowl, add sherry, 2 Tbsp soy sauce & sesame oil with the pork chunks. Let marinade for 20 minutes. 

In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt & pepper. Coat marinaded pork chunks with flour mixture and fry in 2 Tbsp cooking oil until browned on all sides. Add Veggies and cook for 5 minutes until everything is cooked but crisp. Add any remaining marinading sauce and pineapple (with juice) and let cook while making the sauce.

In a bowl, mix chicken broth, sugar, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and soy sauce. Add to meat & veggies. Cook until sauce is thick.

Great with rice or chow mien noodles and an Asian Salad. Can substitute chicken or beef for pork.

For big cook days I usually marinade the pork and freeze. If you want to use this as a slow cooker meal it's possible to put just the meat & sauce in a bag & freeze and for the meal, cook (8 hour on low) with the veggies only in for the last few hours, but I personally don't think the finished product is as good with the slow cooker.

A healthier alternative to ordering Chinese take out with all that red dye!

For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Personal Profile and Emergency Information Sheet

So this post makes me seem like an overly paranoid and cautious parent, always expecting the worst, but I'm really not. 

Experience has taught me that it's good to be prepared for emergency situations. 

I have worked in the Caregiving industry for years and one of the staples of every outing was this sheet that we packed around with us in case we had a missing client or if we needed to make an emergency trip to the hospital - all the information we needed was right there on that sheet. Sometimes that sheet came in really handy!!

I thought it was a great idea to add to my binders. We already have one for Uncle Ladybug and Ms. Ladybug, so why not have one for Lady and Bug as well! They are a great addition to my camping binder and family info binder. It's easy to take this sheet (or the binder) with you when your kid breaks their arm while camping away from home...

Each profile sheet includes the following information:

  • Full name and nickname
  • Recent picture
  • Current address
  • Home/emergency contact (my phone number!)
  • Date of birth
  • Height, weight, eye colour, hair colour
  • Medical card number
  • physician's name & number
  • Dentist's name & number
  • (any other medical professionals that your child might need to contact in case of emergency)
  • Medical conditions
  • Current medications (include all names & dosage)
  • Allergies (list suspected allergies too)
  • Emergency contact information (parents - home, work & cell #'s and 2 others that can be contacted in case of emergency e.g. grandparents)

Well, there's my paranoid mommy moment - hope it helps you!

Here is a Blank Personal Profile and Emergency Information Sheet just in case you don't want to make up something on your own!


If you want to see more of my ideas for camping with kids - check out my Camping Page.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Organizing Camping Gear

Ready, Set...

Our first camping trip of the year is coming up this weekend, I'm so excited to be outside and to get out of the city (ok, they're really the country suburbs, but it feels like a city to me).

I've been working on organizing my camping gear and my garage over the past few weeks - getting everything ready for the camping season, so I thought I'd share how I organize and store my camping stuff.

I have 3 bins that fit perfectly in to the back of our vehicle. It's a game of Tetris to get everything in, but these bins have been a huge help to me.

The first bin has outdoor toys, life jackets and other kid's stuff for the beach. Everything in here is specifically for camping, we don't bring their regular toys along - only special things just for camping. They stay in the bin in the garage because they get really dirty and gross! It's super handy to have a bin that I just put outside the tent and the kids can choose the activity they want to do or pack the whole bin down to the beach when it's time to swim. 

The second bin has camping essentials: the clean campers kit, string for the clothes line, hammer & pegs, lighters, axe, newspaper, flash lights, extra batteries, and all of those little things that you need when you go camping. I keep this bin stocked so we have the ability to just pull it off the shelf & go rather than looking around for things we need. 

The third bin is the kitchen stuff. All the dishes, pots & pans, table cloths, and anything else I need to get people fed. We usually make it to a camp site right before dinner time, so this bin is very handy to just pull out quickly and have everything I need to prepare dinner without looking through everything. If I add anything to this bin it gets my signature drop of green nail polish.

Besides this, I have a cooler, water jug, camp stove, tarp (which you can see folded on top of the bins), tent, chairs, sleeping bags, & mattresses all stored on the shelf above. It's as easy as backing the vehicle up to the garage, loading, and we're off. The only work I have is to make sure we have our clothes & toiletries packed and the food. It takes a little organization and some space to make this happen, but it saves so many headaches when you're packing to go. 

These are the basics in the bins, I still need to consult my camping with kids packing list! I add in the other things we need depending on our destination, who we are camping with (why bring doubles??), and what the weather will be like.

We always re-stock if anything has run out or needs to be replaced at the end of each trip so that it's ready to go for the next one. Each Spring, I take a careful look through each bin to see if anything needs to be added, replaced, or removed.

Now we're ready!


If you want to see more of my ideas for camping with kids - check out my Camping Page.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Day Out with Thomas

Day Out With Thomas

Not everything goes as planned in the Ladybug house...

On Saturday we went to the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish, BC  to have a "Day Out With Thomas".

It should have been a great day of fun with Thomas, riding trains and what can only be the best day of their lives...instead is a disaster!

We managed to leave home on time for our 1 & 1/2 hour journey to visit Thomas in Squamish, but the second we hit the curves on the Sea to Sky Highway, Lady mentioned that her tummy didn't feel good. 

I gave her Gravol, like a good mommy, and we kept going. 

We were almost in Squamish when she said that her tummy hurts again and blah...she pukes everywhere. All over her clothes, her blankie, & her carseat. Me, being a great mommy, forgot the diaper bag with the extra clothes in it, so we cleaned her up the best we could and stripped her down. Thankfully I did have their swimming stuff in the car and her jacket so I could put something on her and we searched the town for some new clothes. 

She now owns more expensive jeans than I do because that was all we could find for pants that fit her! (we later found a walmart...oh well, we shopped local...right??).

Once we got to the rail yard to see Thomas Bug's meltdowns started (man do I ever hate the 2's...can't wait until this stage is over!!!). He couldn't understand that pushing the stroller around (by himself of course..."NO I do it!") is not ok in a really crowded place where he runs over everyone. So meltdown #1. Seriously, the only kid in the place who is having a meltdown while Thomas is coming in, so Lady gets to have pictures...

Eventually we calm Bug down and he gets in one:)
Then we take the train ride and have a snack. It's a pretty disappointing ride (for the adults at least)...

Then we go see what the rest of the site has to offer and Bug has another meltdown in the middle of the train tables area because he can't understand why he can't have all the trains on the table (Seriously, why would you do that to parents...these kids can't share yet!).

Mommy's done...time to have lunch and go home. So much for a fun family day out! Thankfully I'm too busy managing meltdowns and puke that I don't have pictures of the bad times!

Lessons learned...
1. Give gravol to children who get motion sickness before you leave.
2. When they say they have a sore tummy, stop and let them out for a bit.
3. Always bring a change of clothes for each kid.
4. Bug is obsessed with pushing the stroller, so just don't bring it...we don't really need it any more.
5. Don't take them to a public train table where they have to share trains with other kids...just avoid it altogether!
6. Don't's not worth the drive, the time, or the money! If you do go, don't buy tickets, just go see the sights and skip the lame train ride - the train was the only time they checked the tickets!