Balance might be futile…

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I used to think that being a working mom meant finding the perfect balance.

Homoeostasis if you will, where there is harmony and equilibrium. That place where my attention is equitably divided between family, work and a little social too. Houses are mostly clean, files are up to date and my children happily play while I follow my passions and hubby builds something…

I think I invisioned the place where June Cleaver and Gloria Steinem meet.

But the truth and reality is no where near that.

I have had to accept messes and I sometimes have to resort to using TV as a distraction to get supper on the table. My toilets are so gross that I have quarantined one bathroom to minimize the damage. I can’t even imagine where I would send someone to pee if they came over.

My sons books create Mandalas on his bedroom floor and there is the semi permanent pile of laundry on our couch that I tuck my feet under while I watch TV, officially dubbed Laundry Mountain.

Although all attempts are made at being super, working mom I forget keys to my office, photocopy the wrong thing twenty times, have a laughable pile of ‘to dos’ and have a coworker that I am sure must wonder how I remember to put on pants.

I was obviously deluding myself about what it would look like. I have realized that a ‘balanced’ life is futile and that the type of women I imagined was barely possible on paper.

My day starts in chaos and ends in exhaustion. It is no where near that glorious, balanced place I imagined. But somehow I feel like a better mom and a better wife, probably not a better friend but definitely a better me.

When I was home with the kids all day I would feel just outright drained. I would run out of things to do, ways to entertain them and I could tend towards getting a little yelly (thank you ohdeerestme for the apt description). Bed time was the only relief I could see and I was so tapped I hurried through the moments that I now savour.

Now, I can lie with my son forever, squished snuggly in his little bed. Surrounded by furry things and staring at a starry ceiling we discuss our days. He tells me about spiderman and playing pirates and I tell him about going into a school or working on my computer. We snuggle and he tells me he loves me and that I’m the best mommy in the world and I believe him.

My daughters special time is in the morning. I used to dread the early wakeups and now I listen for her little peeps to bring her in to our bed. We look at books, touch our noses and toes and cuddle while she has her morning bubba.

My time with them has become more valuable and precious. I know I have less of it in the day and I refuse to waste a single second of it. Laundry Mountain be damned if my kids want a story read to them. And if at the end of the day I’m too tired to make the house all sparkly and perfect for the next day, screw it, I need to write or pin until I fall into a well deserved sleep.

My work is also important. It is a part of my identity and who I am. It is a seperateness from my family and space where I am the professional that I spent all those hours and dollars to become. It doesn’t define me but it is a part of me and even with children that part of me still needs to be nourished, encouraged and explored. I am good at what I do and I love it.

In a way I suppose that is a type of balance. I have the love of my children and the support of my husband. I’m in a profession that provides challenge and growth. I have a home that feels lived in and safe to be who we are and every night I create a meal that nourishes my family.

“Roots of Love in a Beautiful Storm” is our family motto and I think that sums it all up pretty well.

Speaking of roots…This weeks plan shows my new goal of half vegetarian meals. In another attempt at finding balance I am trying to meet my wants for lighter non meat meals and hubbies needs for calorie dense and meaty meals. I think so far it’s working pretty well and you’ll probably see this in my meal plans from now on. I’ve also started branching out and trying some fellow bloggers recipes so I don’t always have to be a creative genius.

Lasagna

Lasagna

Sunday

Lasagna
My sauce starts with celery, carrots and onions then Italian sausage and ground beef. I add diced tomatoes, garlic, dried oregano and basil and a cup of stock. I let this cook down as much as possible and season with salt towards the end so that it doesn’t end up overly salty. I layer this with noodles and a mixture of a large container of cottage cheese, two eggs, pesto, spinach and parmesan. This turns into a creamy layer that’s less expensive then using ricotta. Top the whole gorgeous thing with mozzerella and bake for an hour. The biggest thing I have learnt about lasagna is to let it sit at least 20 minutes before serving. If it’s served too soon you end up with soupy glop instead of the lovely slices you see on Pinterest

Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza

Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza

Meatless Monday

Butternut Squash, Kale and Sage Pizza
I love the combination of kale and squash it’s a little sweet and a little savoury and combined with sage it’s just plain delicious. I used a creamy garlic white sauce as the base and then layered on the kale and squash then finished it all with a combination of parmesan and old white cheddar. A good friend made a dairy free version that sounds delic!

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Tuesday

Chicken Fajitas
I oven roasted 3 chicken breasts and then thinly sliced a large zucchini, a large onion and two red peppers. The veg was sauteed with 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tsbp olive oil. Once it had cooked down I seasoned the veggies with salt and a sprinkle of cumin and finished with some chopped cilantro. Toppings were diced tomatoes and grated cheese plus some plain yogurt and hot sauce…of course

Sweet Potato Nachos

Sweet Potato Nachos

Wednesday

Sweet Potato Nachos
One of the few times I made an easy supper for the kids so I could have dinner with hubby when he got home. I used a recipe from Pinterest as inspiration. I thinly sliced two large peeled sweet potatoes and tossed them in a combination of olive oil, cumin and chili powder then roasted them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once they were cooked and a little crispy I topped the whole thing with grated cheese, diced green onions, cilantro, and diced tomatoes and then baked it for another 10 minutes until the cheese was lovely and bubbly. Served with tomatillo salsa and plain yogurt I will definitely be making these again. 

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs

Thursday

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs
I used this recipe to create the meatballs but using canned salmon instead and adding an egg to hold it together. For bread I used a multigrain baguette cut the old school Subway style and a mayo with added siracha, grated garlic, ginger and a splash of sesame oil. I layered in cucumbers, and grated carrots. It was different but really tasty. I can see myself making it again for sure although I’d love to try the meatballs with fresh salmon. I imagine they’d be even better.

Falafel

Falafel

Friday

Falafels
I used a box mix of falafels called Casbah. It came together really quickly and dinner was ready in 20 minutes. While the mixture was resting I sliced cucumbers and tomatoes and set out some sprouts then made a sauce of cumin, chili powder, plain yogurt, feta and parsley. I used Roti instead of pita because pita always fall apart and piss me off.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday

BBQ Chicken Pizza
This is one of the earliest recipes I posted on my blog. I still make it regularly and I think it’s a family favourite. I love the combination of the slightly spicy BBQ sauce with sweet pineapple and my favourite cilantro.

Butternut Squash and Sage Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash and Sage Mac and Cheese

Sunday

Butternut Squash and Thyme Macaroni and Cheese
I think this will be my new favourite mac and cheese. I followed the recipe almost exactly (strong almost). I used sage instead of the rosemary in the recipe and added a clove of garlic to the cream sauce. Other then that no changes needed and I have a feeling this will be become super popular in your home too.

Well that’s another week of meals and a little more about my family. If you want to see what we eat everynight you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I hope I’ve provided some meal inspiration and made feeding your family and friends a little easier. I always love to hear thoughts and comments so please leave me a message:)

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Kale and Butternut Squash Pizza

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We meditate in our staff meetings.

Our coordinator leads the visualization and it’s about 5-10 minutes. Usually it takes me the first two to remember to breathe and relax then I’m good. I can use the time to truly become present which is a great way to start a meeting.

It’s great in practice and normally I love the chance to gather my chaotic brain but today I couldn’t focus for even a second.

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Today I only had one train of thought ricocheting around in this little noggin and that was….

Would I put garlic and sage in the sauce or should I put the sage in with the squash???

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Seriously, I spent the entire time I was supposed to be grounding myself and connecting with my breathe on wondering which herbs would go where and if I should use more or less cheese.

I have come to realize that food is more than a hobby for me and if I ever have an opportunity to make this a career let me tell ya I will jump at the chance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I work with families in a way that I feel brings real hope and we can make a huge impact but all I want to do is feed them and cook with them while we talk.20131113-212750.jpg

Maybe that’s what my goal should be. I could be the cooking counsellor. I would invite people to my kitchen and we would cook together while discussing their concerns and planning what to do. Then we would eat a lovely meal build our relationship and everyone would be the happier and wiser.

There may be some insurance concerns though… Some people just shouldn’t be given pointy things and even I burn myself on an almost daily basis.
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Oh well the idea was fun

Until then here’s the recipe that I worked out while I should have been meditating.

It’s a perfect fall pizza with ingredients that are in season and usually available locally. Kale and sweet squash seem to pair wonderfully and mingling with a little sage and parmesan makes this pizza something I could eat way too much of. I also went with the theory that if you’re feeding non-vegetarians a veggie based meal, cheese usually makes them happy.20131113-212731.jpg

Actually I’m really not using that much cheese compared to an average pizza. The bechamel base adds a creaminess that helped ease the cheese. If you wanted to cut back on the butter too I have made white sauces with olive oil quite successfully.

This pizza was also the first time I have used a home made crust. Usually we just don’t have time but hubby was off and loves baking so he prepped the crust earlier today. We used this Recipe

Kale and Butternut Squash Pizza

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 cups diced Butternut squash (about half a medium sized squash)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 bunch of kale chopped 
salt and pepper

Garlic Parmesan Sauce

1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 clove of garlic finely diced
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
pinch of both chili flakes and nutmeg

1 cup of old white cheddar or mozzerella
Parmesan 

Makes 2 pizzas

Preheat oven to 425F

In a medium saucepan over medium heat warm 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the squash, season with salt and pepper sautéing for 5 minutes then add the fresh sage. Continue cooking for up to another 5 minutes until the squash is fork tender then set aside.

In a seperate pan heat the 2nd Tbsp of oil and wilt the kale, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper

In a small sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes regularly whisking. Warm the milk (I used the microwave) and slowly stir into the flour and butter. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken then stir in the parmesan, garlic, chili flake and nutmeg. Once the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon remove from heat and set aside.

I used a metal pizza pan sprinkled with cornmeal. I find this helps it not stick and get crisp on the bottom.

Spread the crusts with the garlic cream sauce then layer on the kale and squash. Top with the grated cheese and sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan.

Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes or until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbly

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Please leave me a comment letting me know how your family or friends enjoyed it or really anything you have to share:)

I have a Facebook page too if you want to come on over and check it out. I post nightly meals, ideas, and share about how I feed my family healthy and tasty meals.

Leftovers for Lunch or Fill the Freezer

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Hubby and I have been together from almost 10 years and I know it makes me a massive dork but I keep falling more in love with him.

There was a time where my tough exterior, (I do have tattoos) and a need for protection, kept me from admitting how much he meant to me. And I’d be lying if I said it was that long ago. new baby day 016

The last remnants of the wall just crumbled down this year. I think the struggle of having him work in another province really put into perspective how much he actually did and want he meant to our lives. I realized I cared a lot less about how the towels were folded and a lot more about having someone to talk to.

I wrote a blog post acknowledging what a jerk I had really been. He’d jokingly asked for it in writing when I apologized to him and since I’m an overachiever he got a public declaration of my wrongness.

The funny thing is that I had struggled with the whole loving my hubby as much as I do thing. In some ways a deep part of me thought it’s a sign of weakness to admit I need him and that I truly love the guy.Licking

I reflect on this one a lot. What what was it that I saw as weak? Was it admitting that I need someone? or the fear that if I broke down all the walls around my heart then I left myself open to hurt? Maybe I thought he’d start using my weakness against me?

I think I was just straight up scared. It meant that I had to honestly accept him for everything he is and isn’t. What he would be and what I might have to let go of ever having. I have to be accepting of the life we have and I have to take the chance that I might get really hurt.

A million years ago my auntie told me that when I was able to open up completely and be vulnerable, holding nothing back, then I would really be in LOVE. I thought I had done that but I realized I hadn’t. I’d been holding on to past resentments and my own fears of rejection.

Letting go and opening up changed everything so when I say now that I love him, this is more than a love for cheese,this is the full force of my heart open to him. This is me wanting to be with him old and feeble, young and broke, tired and in a messy house.20131109-221243.jpg

And the best part is that when I opened my heart to him he did the same for me. Each day I see the trust and belief we have in each other grow. I wanted to share that joy and that feeling of knowing that I am loved because with it comes the strength I have to do what I do and I think he draws from it too. We revel in each others successes and I trust more than ever that if the world wants to give us lemons that we’ll make the best damn lemon tart with it EVER, (really did you expect anything but a food analogy??)

This last week I lent my support in a more tangible way. Hubby’s got a new gig working on a tugboat running around on log booms. Cold, wet and dangerous so of course he loves every minute of it.

I wanted to make sure he had filling, warm suppers that would make great lunches the next day. Gotta nurture my superhero hubby, (seriously you should see what these guys do!).

This is not my usual cooking style so I pulled from some fellow bloggers recipes, adapting them a little of course because I can’t help playing with my food. I think this week is a great one for this time of year and if you don’t have someone who needs hearty lunches it’s a week of meals that will give you a freezer full of leftovers to pull from as needed.

Sunday

Irish Beef Stew
I used this recipe as a starting place and tried to recreate the stew I’ve had at Sean’s aunts. I added crushed tomatoes, peas and used stewing beef. It was hearty and filling and I made a big enough pot that I had 6 portions to freeze for lunches

Monday

Chicken Tortilla Lasagna
This is one of the few times I use a pre-made canned soup. It makes for a quick prep and tastes delicious. Using rotisserie chicken speeds supper up even more

Chicken Tortilla Lasagna

Chicken Tortilla Lasagna

Tuesday

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
It was less challenging to make my own then I expected but my recipe needs another round of testing so I’ll share the one I used as a starting place for inspiration. Next time I want to add tortellini into the soup and I think that would make for a little more hubby friendly meal (by hubby friendly I mean really filling)

Grill Cheese and Tomato Soup

Grill Cheese and Tomato Soup

Wednesday

Perogy Bake
I was short on ideas this week and this made for a no thought supper. I placed a layer of  boiled perogies in a baking dish and topped with crumbled cooked bacon, fresh tomatoes, sautéed onions and sprinkled on some cheese. I baked this at 350 until the cheese was bubbly and served them with plain yogurt

Thursday

Tuna Casserole (aka Tuna Surprise)
I’ve made tuna casserole twice this year and that was 2x more than I had ever eaten it since I was 7. My dad made a terrifying version and I had been scarred, but I have moved on and find it’s a cheap and easy casserole that my children wolf down.

Tuna Surprise

Tuna Surprise

Friday

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Cobbler
I used this recipe and it was great. I would cut back on the thyme as I found it a little overwhelming. I also added plain yogurt to the sauce and it seemed to cut back some of the richness.

Saturday

Baked Tortellini Casserole with Cheese and Veggies
Another easy supper inspired by something I saw on Pinterest that made for fabulous lunches. I used a cheese filled tortellini and prepared them to package instructions. Then added in a jar of my home-made marinara. I had sautéed onions, peppers, mushrooms and zucchini and added that in too. Then topped the whole thing with grated cheese and baked it for 30 minutes at 350. 

Baked Tortellini

Baked Tortellini

So there it is a sweet love story and a week of meals that will either feed a small army (or my husband) with delicious suppers and leftover lunches.

I have a Facebook page too. I post nightly meals, tips and tricks and just share a little more about how I keep my family fed with healthy and low-cost meals. So come check it out at www.facebook.com/myweeklydish