Thursday, 30 May 2013

Salsa Chicken Tacos

Salsa Chicken Tacos

5 Chicken Breasts
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup Salsa
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup Taco Seasoning (or 1 packet)

1 Tomato, diced
1/2 cup Cheese, shredded
1/4 fresh Cilantro
4 Radishes, sliced thin
Lime Wedges

Place chicken breasts in a slow cooker. In a bowl, combine chicken soup, taco seasoning, & 1/2 cup salsa. Cook for 3 hours on high. Shred chicken and add remaining 1/2 cup of salsa & sour cream. Makes a great taco served with the desired amount of tomato, cheese, cilantro, radish & lime on a soft tortilla. Also great as a wrap.

Chicken, soup, taco seasoning & 1/2 cup salsa can be frozen for a great slow cooker freezer meal.

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


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ladybug's Trail Mix

Ladybug's Trail Mix

1 cup Peanuts
1/2 cup Cashews
1/2 cup Almonds
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
 1/4 cup Shredded Coconut, unsweetened (large flake)
1/2 cup Sultana Raisins
1/4 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Dried Apricots, quartered

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Store in a bag to maintain freshness or in mini snack bags for a handy snack on the go. I always use unsweetened and unsalted or raw ingredients. Delicious snack perfect for driving, hiking or just a regular busy mom day.

Happy Snacking!


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken

2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
1/2 tsp Sesame Oil
6 Chicken Breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup Flour
2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
1/4 cup Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
1 cup Mixed Orange Juice
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/3 cup Brown Sugar

Combine 2 Tbsp soy sauce, rice vinegar & sesame oil. In a small bowl, coat and marinade chicken for 10 minutes. Toss marinaded chicken in a ziploc bag with 1 cup of flour and coat evenly. In a skillet, brown chicken for 2 minutes each side in oil. Add cooked chicken to slow cooker. In a bowl, combine frozen orange juice concentrate, mixed orange juice, ketchup, remaining soy sauce, maple syrup & brown sugar. Mix well and pour over chicken. Cook on high for 3 hours. Serve with rice & steamed broccoli.

Great alternative to Chinese take-out night.


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

1 lg Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Flour
3 cups Milk
1/2 tsp Dry Mustard Powder
1/4 tsp Pepper, ground
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
4 cups Broccoli, steamed

Saute onion and garlic in butter & oil. Mix in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add milk & seasoning and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add cheddar cheese. Mix well until all cheese is melted. Add broccoli. Serve hot. This soup freezes well and can be re-heated in the slow cooker.

Nothing like cheesy soup for kids, Lady just happens to LOVE broccoli "trees" too!


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Friday, 24 May 2013

Poppy Seed Cinnamon Buns

Daddy Ladybug doesn't like raisins so I try to find alternatives in traditional recipes.

I grew up with poppy seeds in cinnamon buns, a tasty alternative passed on from generation to generation, so I decided to carry on that tradition and replace the raisins with poppy seeds in my cinnamon buns.

Poppy Seed Cinnamon Buns

One dough recipe of Grandma's Dinner Buns
1/2 cup Butter, melted
2 cup Brown Sugar
4 tsp Cinnamon
4 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
1 cup Cream

Divide dough in two. For each 1/2 of dough: roll out each piece in approximately 8x12, 1/4-1/2" thick. For each half, top with 1/2  of each - melted butter, brown sugar (coating evenly), cinnamon & poppy seeds. Roll up like a jelly roll. Start at one end and roll evenly & tightly all the way across. Keep rolling until all the dough has been rolled. Pinch the seam to seal. Slice into 1 inch thick slices. Place on a well greased pan and pour cream evenly over each pan to help make it moist and caramelly. Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes until nicely browned. While still warm, tip over on to another pan and let cool upside down.

oooey goooey caremelly goodness!


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Grandma's Dinner Buns

Grandma's Dinner Buns

1 cup Milk
1 cup Water
2 Tbsp Instant Yeast
1/2 cup Oil
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp Salt
6 cups Flour

Heat milk & water in microwave for 2 minutes (or until warm, but not hot). Add to a large mixing bowl with yeast, oil, sugar, eggs, salt & 3 cups of flour. Mix well. Add remaining 3 cups of flour and change to a dough hook. Knead until dough is mixed but not sticky. Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes. Punch down and let rise another 20-30 minutes and form into buns. Let the buns rise until almost double in size. Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes until nicely browned. Remove from pans and let cool on racks. Makes about 3 dozen buns.

I have tried many different recipes for dinner buns over the years and these are my favourite!!!

I use this recipe to make my Poppyseed Cinnamon Buns!


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Surviving a Road Trip with Babies & Toddlers

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." - St. Augustine

I love to travel, especially road trips, but I often have to do it by myself as Daddy Ladybug's responsibilities keep him close to home. Most of my close friends and family live far away, so road trips have become a staple in my life. 

I used to do big road trips several times a year, but everything changed when I had kids. Kids make travelling a little more difficult, but not impossible. With a little planning and lots of flexibility and courage, travelling with kids can be a great adventure. My family travelled at every opportunity when I was a kid and those are some of the best memories I have. I hope to give the same opportunity to my children.

I took several road trips the first year with two little babies and managed to survive...even enjoy it. I'm not gonna lie - it's tiring, stressful and exhausting - just like parenting, but it has some amazing rewards too. Every year we take a few more road trips and it gets easier as I learn new tricks and they get older! This weekend was a long weekend and I took Lady & Bug north to visit their great grandma & aunts & uncles & cousins. It was about a 2400 km drive - about 30 hours of travelling! I've learned a lot of lessons from my travels and thought I'd share them with you. 

Here are some of the tips I follow when taking a road trip with babies & toddlers:
  • Have a plan - where you're going, where you're going to stay, where you're going to stop along the way. 
  • Expect that plan to NEVER go the way you want it. Keep your expectations low and be flexible.
  • Research. Spend some time looking at the best child-friendly places to sleep, eat & play along the way.
  • Plan to stop at tourist attractions that are age appropriate for your children. Make the trip entertaining and educational.
  • Be prepared. Think through various situations and make sure you have a plan for each of them - break downs, sickness, 
  • If you don't already know the basics of car care - learn to jump start your car, change a tire and check & fill fluids & tires.
  • Lots of remote places still don't have cell service, but make sure yours is with you & charged (bring the car-charger).
  • Bring the phone numbers of the place/people you plan to stay at or stop each night or your destination.
  • Don't forget to check in with those at home.
  • Plan 15-30 minute stops every 2 hours with babies (especially young ones that need to feed often) and every 3-4 hours for toddlers.
  • Expect the trip to take longer than it takes you to travel by yourself. I plan an extra hour for every 4 hours if it were just me.
  • I find that 5-6 hours is the perfect amount of time for travelling each day, but I usually go for 8 and deal with the crankiness!
  • Try to keep your schedule as much as possible if your children are scheduled in regular life. 
  • Try to eat healthy foods on the road instead of fast food. Everyone will be happier & feel better on the trip.
  • Find a good park every 3-4 hours for toddlers to get out and run. Have a picnic there or bring take out food.
  • Pack lots of snacks. Apples & muffins are staples on my road trips along with goldfish and home-made trail mix
  • Bring lots of water to keep everyone hydrated. Sippy cups are handy even for the bigger kids in the car.
  • Make playlists of kids songs that you can stand or adult songs that are fun for kids. 
  • Kids stories on CD or on your ipod make great entertainment for 2+ toddlers
  • DVD player is a life saver!
  • Bring a backpack with a towel (or change pad), wipes, diapers & a change of clothes for each kid and you. Keep it stocked and easy to take when you have to run into a gas station or restaurant to change a diaper or clean up spills. Expect to use this often.
  • If your children are potty trained, bring a little potty, wipes & changes of clothes. They don't always need to go when there is a bathroom and squatting in the bush can be intimidating for some kids.
  • Expect your vehicle to get very messy. I bring wipes, little doggy-do garbage bags in a dispenser & a mini vacuum to clean the mess at my destination and at home. It gets really bad!
  • I bring 2 playpens & bedding for both kids everywhere because it keeps their bed semi-familiar. A large dark-coloured sheet & thumb tacks is also a great asset for trying to get kids to sleep in unfamiliar bright rooms.
  • Don't forget the important comfort, special blankies or stuffies.
  • Take 1/2 the clothing you think you need (for you and for the kids!), I always end up not using most of it. I plan to wash clothing every 3-4 days if possible.
  • My children travel in light comfortable clothes - T-shirt, pyjama bottoms/leggings & socks. Shoes & jackets are off, but close by to put on when they get out.
  • Small cars, trains & figurines make great travelling toys (one for each hand) for toddlers. For babies, attach plastic chains with soft toys/mirrors/bells to keep them entertained.
  • Crayons & paper also work great to entertain kids.
  • If you have a car seat tray, you're lucky! If you don't they are a great investment if you do a lot of road trips or fashion one out of a cookie tray.
  • I always have to remind myself that I need to keep talking to them - they start to wonder if I'm there when I don't talk to them.
  • It is always easier with at least 2 adults in the car, but you can do it by yourself!

Road trips are a great way to see the country, meet new people & learn new things. 
Don't be afraid to travel with children!

Happy Travels!


p.s. I'd love to hear your travel tips!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Get Rid of Fruit Flies the Natural Way

Summer is coming and along with the wonderful bounty of fresh produce from the market comes the fruit flies. Last summer I found a solution to the swarms that plagued my kitchen, so I thought I'd share it before summer begins! 

Fruit Fly Trap

Jar with lid
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 drops Dish Soap

Poke some holes in the top of the jar lid, big enough for the flies to get through. Add apple cider vinegar and dish drops to the jar and stir well. Put the lid on and place near your fresh fruit. Replace the cider vinegar & soap when it gets full of flies or every month to keep it fresh during "fruit fly season". The dish soap keeps the fruit flies from walking on the top of the vinegar and climbing back out the holes. This works really well!

Now you can enjoy fresh fruit without the fruit flies!

It really's my fruit flies.


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Label Glue Remover

I like to re-use containers when I can, especially glass jars, but the glue used to keep labels on usually leaves some residue that can be sticky or just unsightly. I seem to need this stuff at least once a week. 

I've been trying different things to get it off and finally found something that actually works!

Here is my recipe for Label Glue Remover.

Label Glue Remover

2 Tbsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt

Mix together and spread on any remaining glue on your bottles, jars or other containers. Let sit for 2-3 minutes and rub the area with your finger. Wash off with soapy water. Re-application may be needed for stubborn glue. I keep mine in a little jar so I don't have to make it every time, it keeps well.

Perfect for my re-usable wine bottles!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Cleaning the Washer after a Diaper/Pull-Up Explosion

Ok, you know when you're so looking forward to the magical hour when your kids go to sleep and you finally have time to sit down and relax? Well, I really needed that was a long, hard day. There were a few mommy meltdown moments to this one. Unfortunately the washing machine gremlins had other ideas. I was washing a load of the kids' clothes and was just going to toss them into the dryer before sitting down for a bit with a glass of wine. As I pulled the clothes out of the washer, I noticed that there was strange gelly looking stuff all over them, then I looked into the machine to find that it was CAKED in clumps of gel.

What does one do to clean this mess up? I know I'm not the first mom to do this, so here's what to do when you find your kid's clothes caked in diaper gel...

1. Swear, cry, pull your hair out, take pictures, and share on social media. Then take a deep breath and grab a few rags.

2. Pull out all the clothes. Set them aside in a pile on the floor or in a basket.

3. Using a wet cloth, wipe down the inside of your washer. Put all the gel clumps in the garbage. Use a clean rag to wipe again once you think you have it all cleaned. Be sure to clean out the rubber door seal (all the way around) & door if you have a front loader.

4. Shake all the clothes out & try to get off as much of the diaper goo as you can. Not an easy task or a clean one, but will just clog up the washer again if you don't shake it off. I just shake it on the floor in my laundry room and wipe it up when I'm done, luckily it's easy to wipe up. If you have carpet in your laundry room, this is not a good idea!

5. Put your laundry back in the washer and run another cycle with an extra rinse.

6. If your laundry comes out clean, you can dry it...if it doesn't, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you'll need to repeat the steps and try again. If you cleaned well, you shouldn't have any problem.

7. Once your clothes have come out clean it's probably a good idea to clean your washer. Wipe out your washer once again, just to make sure you got all those little gel clumps, don't forget the rubber seal & door. If you have one of those lovely new washers with the cleaning settings, use it! If you don't, just run a regular cycle with an extra rinse. Use a washing machine cleaner tablet or 1/2 cup of vinegar as a cleaning agent.

8. Check your laundry carefully next time! (hopefully I've learned that lesson now!!!)

Now I can finally put my feet up...


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Cleaning Spray

I feel like I spend half of my day cleaning the counters and table. With little ones it's nearly an impossible task to keep a kitchen/dining room clean. They get so sticky  - especially the oatmeal! I have to use something to help take the stuck-on food off, a wet cloth is not good enough. I realized how much cleaner I was going through and needed to save a little money - not only that I realized what kind of chemicals I was subjecting my family to by spraying the commercial ones on my counters and table. I have been searching for a good cleaning spray that kills the germs and cleans well. I finally found a really easy recipe that works well.

Cleaning Spray

2 & 1/2 cups Warm Water
2 Tbsp Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap (your choice of scent)
20 drops Essential Oils (whatever you like)

Mix ingredients together in a spray bottle. Shake well. Spray on counters & table and let sit for 1-2 minutes before wiping off. 

I used Lavender this time, but I also like Tea Tree Oil, Citrus, or Peppermint. You can also use the Mild Baby Dr. Bronner's Soap and add your choice of essential oils for other scents. Dr. Bronner's Soaps can be found online at In Canada, London Drugs carries a few different ones in the body wash section. This is great soap that can be used for so many different things around the house!

Happy Cleaning!


Sunday, 12 May 2013

Toblerone Martini

Happy Mother's Day!

I am in need of a little pampering today. Being a mother is not an easy job. So for all those out there that need a little treat too, I'm sharing my favourite martini recipe with you. Take a few moments to yourself and have a tasty drink.

Toblerone Martini

1 oz. Kahlua (coffee liqueur)
1 oz. Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1 oz. Bailey's (irish cream)
2 oz. Cream
1 Tbsp Honey
Chocolate Syrup

Combine Kahlua, Frangelico, and Bailey's with cream, a dash of chocolate syrup and honey in a shaker with ice. Mix well and strain into a martini glass. 
Add a chocolate design in the glass for that extra chocolatey kick.



Saturday, 11 May 2013

Breakfast for Dinner - Waffles & Blancmange

My father in law, Papa Ladybug, is a pro at breakfast for dinner and Daddy Ladybug has insisted that we keep the tradition alive. We often have it when we don't know what to make or really need to go shopping. It's also a great brunch dish. Our favourite is Waffles & Blancmange.

Whole Wheat Waffles

3 & 1/2 cups Milk
1 cup Cooking Oil
4 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
3 & 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

Mix wet ingredients, mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and stir together until moist (still lumpy). Let sit for 15 minutes. Cook according to waffle maker instructions. Serves 6-8. These waffles will freeze well, just pop in the toaster when ready to use.

Blancmange is a vanilla pudding that our family loves to have hot as a sauce for waffles. It is also great poured into moulds and served cold.

Microwave Blancmange

4 cups Milk (the more fat the better it sets)
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Cornstarch
1/4 cup Water
2 tsp Vanilla

In a large bowl, cook the milk in the microwave for 10 minutes (or until a skin forms on top). In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water to make a paste. Add to milk with sugar & salt. Stir well and microwave for 8 minutes, stirring halfway through. Add vanilla, stir well and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm over waffles as a sauce with berries or fruit sauce or pour into moulds and chill for pudding. The sauce does not freeze well.


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Apricot Jam

This summer, while camping with my family, we had the fortune of finding an apricot tree that wasn't going to be picked. The lady that owned the tree graciously allowed us to pick what we wanted. We spent hours and hours cutting, pitting, and bagging apricots. There was enough to provide for everyone there. I made 3 large batches of jam when I got home, but it's all gone, a staple of many dishes in the Ladybug house.

My freezer is still full of fruit, so it was time to make another batch.

I always thought preserving was so difficult, but last summer I asked my mom to come show me how and was surprised to find that while it requires some precision, instruction reading, and time, it's not very hard.

I used the Bernardin's No Sugar Needed Pectin recipe for Peach Jam and just used apricots instead. It is less sweet than regular jam, but it works well for cooking, which is what I mainly use it for.

First, I prepared the fruit and brought it to a boil along with the pectin, juice, & lemon juice. Once it boiled, I added the recommended amount of sugar (I didn't use sweetner) and let it boil again for the required time.

Then I filled the jars and put them in the canner to process for 10 minutes.

and voilà...jam!

Now we can have Lady & Bug's favourite Spicy Apricot Meatballs again!


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Bacon Vodka Rosé Sauce

Did somebody say bacon???

Bacon Vodka Rosé Sauce

6 cups cooked Pasta 
1/2 package of Bacon, chopped
1 Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Vodka
3/4 cup Cream
3 cups Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
Fresh Basil
Salt & Pepper

Sauté bacon until crispy. Add onions and cook until soft then add garlic for 30 seconds. Add vodka and reduce to half. Add cream. Bring the cream to a boil and reduce by half again. Add tomato sauce and chicken stock. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour sauce over cooked pasta, add salt & pepper and basil. Stir and serve. 

Mmm...bacon & pasta!


Monday, 6 May 2013

Prize Peanut Butter Cookies

The summer that I graduated from high school, my Grandma came to spend a month with us. While she was there, she copied out her favourite recipes so I could continue on the family tradition of baking. The first recipe I ever tried on my own is still one of my favourites...

Prize Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup White Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Peanut Butter (I think crunchy is the best!)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
3 cups Flour

Cream sugars and butter. Add other ingredients except flour. Blend well. Add flour in a quarter at a time. Roll in balls & press down with a fork. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes (I do 8-10, I like them soft!) These freeze really well, I make the balls first, then freeze.

Thanks for the wonderful recipe Great Grandma Ladybug!


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Ice Cream Bars!

The joy of having little kids is watching them experience things for the first time!

Lady & Bug haven't really had the opportunity to have ice cream bars before, maybe a lick or two of daddy ladybug's last summer, but never their own. The lovely weather we're having right now called for some cold sugary treats...chocolate ice cream bars!

I did not make these, I'll probably try to come up with something eventually, but for now - store bought is perfect. cream is so delicious!

Things were fine at first...aren't they always?!

Then the window became really exciting...

now I have to wash the windows again.

I love watching them discover new things!


Saturday, 4 May 2013

Creamy Chicken Lasagna

Creamy Chicken Lasagna

9 Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles (cooked or oven ready)
4 cups Chicken, shredded or cubed
1/2 cup Onion, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (make your own)
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 egg
1/4 tsp Poultry Seasoning
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

In a bowl, combine Chicken, onion, garlic, soups, ricotta, egg & seasonings. Mix well. In a greased 9x13 pan, layer lasagna 3 noodles, 1/2 meat mixture, 3 noodles, 1/2 of shredded cheese, 1/2 meat, 3 noodles and top with remaining shredded cheese.

Bake at 350F for 1 & 1/4 hours.

Freezes well and made easier if using a roasted chicken.

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


Friday, 3 May 2013

Roasted Lamb

Ymmmm...I love lamb. I never had it as a child - don't think my parents like it, but through my travels I have discovered that such a thing as amazing lamb exists and I've been on a mission to find a great lamb recipe that my family loves since.

This week I came across Jamie Oliver's recipe for Roast Lamb and I decided to give it a try. It was delicious! There was nothing left of it by the end of the meal, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Recipe: Jamie Oliver's Best Roast Leg of Lamb

First I stuffed it with garlic cloves (in the slits I made with a knife). If I am freezing the lamb, I do this before freezing.

I tied it up and rubbed the marinade on it. I changed the recipe a bit and seared the meat before putting it in the oven. I also added the rest of the lemon to the potatoes.

Then I put the potatoes & garlic & lemon in a pan under the rack the lamb was cooking on and let the drippings go into the potatoes.

Seriously Good!

Got lots of Leftovers? Try Leftover Lamb Pie!


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Roasted Chicken is the Cheaper Chicken

I wanted to buy whole chicken for a meal, thinking it would be cheaper than buying pieces and was surprised to find that a whole raw chicken is around $10 or more (regular price where I live)...but if I went to the deli or pre-made food section I could buy a chicken already roasted for $7.99 (on sale $5.99)! How is that possible??

Why would I buy a plain uncooked chicken that I have to spend my precious time & electricity on to make it edible? more buying whole uncooked chickens!

Here is how I make use of a roasted chicken for my everyday meals:

First I remove the strings. Then I separate the chicken and put the bones & skin in one bowl and the meat in my mixing bowl. 

Then I use my mixer to shred the chicken (very quick and less mess).

Bones & skin go in the crock pot for Chicken Stock and the meat is either packaged and frozen for future use... 

...or made into a chicken dish like Creamy Chicken Lasagna.

From this day on, I will only buy roasted chickens!!!


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Lil' Cleaner

Today was sunny and I was washing windows.

Lady decided that it would be great to help me out and spent the rest of the afternoon dipping her cloth into the water and rubbing the's very clean now!

Then she decided that the table needed to be cleaned and proceeded to spray cleaner to help her wash the table.

Then she helped mop the floor.

Such a big helper!

Not to be outdone by his "big" sister, Bug decided to join the party (sans pants).

I was left with a sparkling clean patio and little wet sock prints on my floor!

Yay, now I can delegate the cleaning!