Garam Masala Meatballs with Turmeric rice

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Imagine my evenings (I’m sure for some it’s not hard…)

Tired mom drives close to the speed of light down the highway, racing to her destination… day care. Upon arrival, some polite chatter with the person entrusted to mold and meld my babes, inquiring about their their day. Hopefully no apologies required, (a few F bombs have dropped).

I then try to quickly and calmly stuff them into the car as they run around appearing like a cross between squealing hyenas and an octopus (hyocs, octayenas…???).

Fortunately, this often involves lots of hugs. Unfortunately, they seem to grow thousands of arms competing for body area to hug. I’ve fallen when not braced properly.

The ride home is half filled with happy chatter and half filled with a chorus of “mom, we’re hungry”, “can we watch ponies?”, “mom, she keeps touching me”.20140723-224702-82022154.jpg

We arrive, I unlock the door, the dog charges us and the octyenas sort of quickly make their way inside as I herd the dog and the cat, carrying bags, my purse and backpacks.  I then either try to be super woman getting snacks and lovely brain enriching activities out and on the go, or I say f*@k it and put on the bloody ponies…again.

Sashay  into the kitchen, ready to prepare yet another perfectly balanced meal of both flavour and health.

I manage to get supper organized with only 6 interruptions, one involving food, two settling disputes, at least one accident and one boo boo that needs kissing, (of course something else happened too). Finally  presenting my masterpiece to the adoring family and pretending that a bomb hasn’t exploded in the kitchen.

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Miraculously all is well. The kids come to the table and happily shove nourishment into their little pieholes,  babbling about Pokemon cards and colouring. I breathe for the first time since I got in the car and we settle into the rest of our nightly routine.

For obvious reasons I need food to be quick, easy and tasty. I also want to enjoy my dinner so it needs to be kid friendly and manageable by little hands. Hence my love of tacos and meatballs. However, combining the two could be weird or boring or both.

But, I have been blessed to live in a country that has given me global inspiration and grocery stores that stock spices and flavours to play with. Even in the small town I live in I can still created ethnically inspired dishes that open up my kids experience of the world through food. Giving me hundreds of ways to create new versions of a meal that fits my families needs.

This dinner is such a perfect example of that. I have been making  chicken meatballs for my family as a staple meal for years. Recently I started using them in tacos and then somehow that morphed into trying different ethnic variations, including spices like curry powder, ginger and turmeric. I’ve never eaten a lot of meat so I also  have what my husband calls ‘filler’ to go along with the meatballs. In this case it became a rice dish that I actually think almost steals the show and makes an amazing side or a great vegetarian option for your tacos :). I love it. The raisins are a bit sweet and the rice is so fragrant. Plus the turmeric makes it an absolutely gorgeous colour.

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I can have everything ready in about 45 minutes too. And part of that is in the oven cooking time so I don’t feel tied to the kitchen or like I’m missing out on my family.

For my tacos I make the meatballs and rice then slice up tomatoes and cucumbers. Plain yogurt mixed with cilantro, mint or even basil, plus a bit of salt and olive oil make a super easy sauce to top it all with. For a salad just toss that all in one bowl.

And if the idea of tacos is just too weird, ixnay (say no to) the tortillas and serve your meatballs on the rice with the salad instead. That was my lunch today… People were jealous.

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Garam Masala Meatballs

2 packages ground chicken thigh or ground turkey (around 900 g)
1/4 cup panko
1/4 chopped fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil, oregano, chives)
1/4 chopped feta
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tsp curry powder
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350
Mix all the ingredients gently together and form into small balls. About a tbsp scoop.
Place the meatballs in a baking dish and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes and cooked through .

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Turmeric Rice

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion finely diced
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt (omit if you are not using a salt free stock)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup Basmati rice
2 cups veggie stock or 1 cube salt free veggie bouillon and 2 cups water

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

In a medium sized pot add the olive oil and heat over medium low heat. Add the onions and sauté until they soften. Add all the ingredients down to and including the salt, cooking for only a few moments. Add the rice, stirring regularly cook for a minute or two. Toss in the raisins and then pour in either the bouillon or stock and bring to a boil.
Once boiling reduce to low heat, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow it to sit another 5 minutes. Fold in the cilantro and serve

 

 

 

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What can I say. We’re a family that likes our food and when hubby’s ashore he makes sure to get his fill 🙂

I hope you all enjoy these as much as I do and please let me know what you think. I also have a Facebook page where I post nightly meal ideas, photos and meal prep www.facebook.com/myweeklydish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saying Good-bye

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Losing someone is probably one of the more surreal experiences of human existence. With the recent loss of my uncle I have been even more reflective on the process of letting go and saying good bye.

It takes our brains a while just to process the very idea of someone no longer being in our lives. When I was initially told he was gone I spent the next few  hours just trying out the sound of the words, “he is dead”. It sounded so final and I was struggling with that very thought. It meant that I had to integrate this huge concept of him no longer being not only in my life, but living at all.

I was okay that day because it was still a concept. A foreign idea that needed time to really sink in. My main sadness was for his family and how they must be struggling.

The next day I was not okay. I knew he was dead and that there was no return. The idea that this is a natural part of our existence just seemed to make it all feel so much more confusing. I had a hard time wrapping my head around what was making me so sad.

At first I thought it was all of things he would miss out on. I thought I was grieving his loss. Instead I realized my grief was for the physical  loss I felt. The removal of him from my life, my cousins life, his wife’s life and all of the other lives he had touched. The hole that was left be his dying.

I started to really feel the hole that this loss made. He would never again be a part of any of my new experiences. I only had the past. Memories of him kept bubbling to the surface. Memories that had formed my understanding of him as a man and the place that he held in my life. I also saw how he was a part of my foundation and was intertwined with the very core of my being.

As I explored this hole I also started to feel grateful.  I could honour him by continuing to live in a way that was meaningful. He wasn’t as gone as I had thought because I had a part of him with me forever. I could nourish those parts and carry them on to my family and the people around me. I can share who he is by being me.

The hole now feels a little less gaping and more a space that I will hold and treasure. It is his place and I have no need to fill it.

Good bye is still painful and I know there are still many tears to fall but I am okay to move forward. I can support those around me now and be there as they find their own way.

Peter Beltgens  July 2, 1954 - February 19 2014

Peter Beltgens
July 2, 1954 – February 19 2014

The Best Birthday Gift Ever

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I turned 36 today.

I had been dreading this day all month. Not because of the whole age thing, (although it is weird how 36 magically feels like 40 is tomorrow), but because life has been a struggle for us lately and I felt like I had very little to celebrate. I have ideas on where I SHOULD be in my life and well we sure aren’t there.

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That’s 36 candles

If you have been following my blog you know the last year has been filled with financial ups and downs and has now landed on a big, fat, massive, down. We keep plodding along  but it’s getting harder to find my inner Pollyanna when even my grocery budget is at an all time low.

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I find myself praying for help and guidance to whatever gods or divine entities might be listening and asking the universe for an endorsement. That’s what people do in the self actualizing books I read, they pray and the universe provides, (I think I’ve only read 2 but it seems to be a trend). I’m also guessing there wouldn’t be much of a story in praying and nothing happening…

When I made it across three lanes of traffic, exiting a gas station and zoomed straight over to a turning lane, I had a hard time not putting it through a divine lens… Was that the universe offering encouragement, I mean it was pretty miraculous. Or was that the most assistance I could hope for… minor traffic miracles.

I have a hard time with the whole divine intervention thing any way. I want to believe the universe has some best laid plans that also incorporate free will and my humanity but who knows. I guess at worst I look a little nutty talking to the air while I drive and at best some fat little six armed tree will help us out and things will get better quicker then with just us making it happen.

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Divine Unicorn Spirit Incarnate

Back to my birthday. This morning I awoke full of dread about the unfulfilled expectations I was sure I would experience because somehow I had decided that being broke and not having a ‘perfect’ life meant I would obviously not have a good day.

But I am truly grateful for how wrong I was.

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I don’t know if it was realizing that expectations are just that and that my actual life is what matters or if it was giving up all my brains crazy shit and just BEING. Maybe a bit of both…

Instead, I have been given I gift I don’t know if I would have received at any other time.

I feel wrapped in love and kind regard. I feel honoured by the words I have received and the gift of the moment people took to think of me today. I feel acknowledged and cherished. Knowing that so many people believe and care about me has replenished my belief too. Who I am to challenge the amazing people I have in my life and if they see some thing worth loving then it must truly be there. 

So even if that little tree doesn’t come to our rescue and even if nothing changes I will remember today and how I feel.

I guess my gift today was realizing that this time will pass just like other crappy times have too. But that who I am, how I am in this moment and the family and friends I have surrounded myself with are my actual life. That I have been blessed with more than I sometimes feel I deserve and to not honour and treasure what I have is a disservice to those gifts I have been given.

So thank you all, for being a part of my life and for being the inspiration and strength I can pull from when my own well is running low.

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PS I have a tonne of recipes I’m working on so now that I got this pity party over with I should be able to shift gears and get back to writing about my other true love, food! I gotta say there is some serious creativity that takes place in broke ass meal prep 🙂

PPS If this is your first time checking out my site I also have a Facebook page where I post nightly meal ideas. Come on over and say hi!! www.facebook.com/myweeklydish

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:)

Finding Myself

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I’m not writing a post about recipes or meal planning, but it’s food for thought… or maybe feeding my soul so I think it’s allowed. Today I had a reminder of how much has changed since my husband started working away a year ago. He called to talk about stretching his stay another week and I didn’t panic. When he first left two weeks was overwhelming, now a month is long but doable.
More then that is different too. When he first went to work our relationship was on rocky ground and honestly, if he hadn’t gone we might not be still together. On my own, there was no choice but to look in the mirror and face some harsh realities.
I am a hundred times stronger then I thought, and a way bigger a**hole then ever imagined. It’s been humbling and rewarding and as much as I miss my hubbers more then anything everyday he is gone this has been such a gift to me and to our relationship that I wouldn’t trade it at all.
Here are some of the biggest shifts and learnings I’ve had.
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Weekly Meal Plan – Autopilot

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As I struggled to once again put my daughter to bed last week I noticed that my brain has become permanently impaired. I was staring at her pj’s and seriously considering changing them because the last time she wore them she was up all night. Was this an omen, was there something about these pj’s she didn’t like? Unfortunately, I have been blessed with a sh*t sleeping baby and it’s taking its toll. Continue Reading »

Walking in My Grocery Shoes

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I think there is no better way to understand someone then to walk a kilometre (I’m Canadian) in their shoes, so I’m going to share my grocery shopping routine.

Over the years my hubby and I have had our financial ups and downs. Being a student and typical life stuff have made us look at how we spend our money and I’ve been able to develop a grocery routine that works no matter how much income we have. An ability to stick to our budget and prepare for the worst has helped us ride out the more difficult times. Generally my monthly budget is $650.00 for a family of four and that includes toiletries and household supplies.  At this point in my life I have decided to make a few choices around food that raised my budget a bit. If you are on a more restrictive income or if your priorities are different then mine you can cut some of the costs for sure.

Once a month I stop at a local grocery store, Country Grocer in South Nanaimo, one of the few places I can find local meat at a price I can afford. Local purchasing is something that has become a priority for me but does increase my food costs.  Being the saavy, thrifty lady that I am I go through their meat department and buy everything I can that’s marked down. Most goes immediately into the deep freeze and it saves me between 30-50%. Sometimes this means that I get a random assortment of meats, I got a lot of ground bison one week, but I can work around this and just incorporate it into my meal plan.

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My sweet little helper

I shop weekly at Superstore for all of my pantry items, there is no where I’ve found with better prices regularly. They have a great selection of healthy options and insanely cute kids clothes (so super helpful for the budget). I also keep close watch on the shelves for items that I regularly use that are on sale. This week they had my favourite tomatillo salsa on sale. It’s something we go through consistently so I grabbed two even though I had one at home. I do the same when there’s a bargain deal on toilet paper, toothpaste or really anything. Now, I’m not one of those wackadoos with a bomb shelter filled with enough canned goods to last me a year, or a plague of locusts. My kitchen is tiny and I don’t even have a pantry so I only get what fits, but this has saved our ass a few times. These last few months are a great example. I’ve been on maternity leave and my hubby was taking time to be at home with us, so we were on a really tight budget. Not having to buy toiletries and having food to pull from meant we could ride out this tight time a little easier.

Produce is also a place where I have made a few personal choices. Where ever possible I try to buy local and at the very least Canadian. At the right time of the year this is easy and actually inexpensive. Off season this becomes a bit harder and I need to shift my menu or spend a little more. My favourite spot for buying produce is Russell Farms Market. It’s a lot of their own or local produce and their prices are great. Farm stands or farmers markets are a fabulous option for local, reasonably priced produce. This does add an extra stop on my grocery date but it’s become a fun stop where we often get ice cream and check out the nursery. If this extra stop doesn’t work, Superstore has a decent selection of produce that is reasonably priced.

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My other grocery pal

I also have a Costco membership and make a trip every few months for baby wipes, and a few items that I get a good deal on there.

It’s taken a bit of trial and error to find out what works for my family. We all go shopping together when my hubby’s in town and make it a fun family day. When he’s out of town I make a date with a friend and we use our shopping as a chance to hang out. Farmers markets can also be a weekend family adventure and a chance to check out local food culture.

Our budget has also stayed pretty constant. I don’t like going much below the budget we’ve set because of some of the food choices I’ve made for our family. This has meant I cut back in other areas instead. However, I get that a lot of people live on a lot less and if I used more generic or less organic/natural products my budget could almost be 100-200 dollars less a month.

I’d love to hear what your grocery routines are and if you’re interested in how I meal plan click HERE.