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Red Meals for Valentine’s Day

Red Meals for Valentine’s Day

It is already Monday and Valentine’s Day is this Thursday. My extra long training runs this weekend kept my mind off planning some fun on Valentine’s Day. If you’re like me, you’re still in luck! This post is all about red foods you can prepare for all your Valentine’s Day meals. Each meal is described below and be warned, this is oriented to kids and not to having a romantic meal with your partner. Best of all: NO FOOD COLOURING!!!

Breakfast

Breakfast is probably the easiest thanks to availability of berries. Whether you’re go-to breakfast is porridge, cereal, or pancakes, you can easily add some strawberries or raspberries on top to add some red to your meal. I’m going to serve crepes with strawberries and a side of watermelon.

Lunch

We’re in the midst of a cold snap and in light of this, I’ve filled my fridge with homemade chicken stock. I’ll put this stock to good use by using it to make a tomato soup. I never follow a recipe for soup. Instead I’ll wing it by adding pureed tomatoes and touch of cream to my stock. Add a few apple slices and we’ve got a red meal!

Shelby Hancock highlights Red Meals to enjoy on Valentine's Day for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Red Meals to enjoy on Valentine’s Day.

Dinner

For dinner I’ll be making tacos! I’m most excited for this meal and here is my menu:

  • Red hard shell tacos
  • Red salsa
  • Blade steak, bbq’d medium-rare (for the reddy-pink colour)
  • Red peppers
  • Reddish sour cream (add a touch of hot sauce for colour/flavour)
  • Red rice (cooked in boiled beet water)

I’ll be buying Fresh is Best hard shell tacos in the tri-colour pack since they make a red taco. My local grocery store also sells a sun-dried tomato soft tortilla shell that is red and would work for this theme. Salsa and red peppers are self explantory. As for the blade steak I’ll get my BBQ over 500F then throw on the steak for 3 mins, quarter turn, 3 mins, flip, 2 mins, quarter turn and off 2 mins later. I’ll let it rest for at least 8 minutes and then slice it up in strips for the taco meat.

For the reddish sour cream, I’ll only add a hint of hot sauce since I don’t want too much spice for the kids. Lastly, the red rice will be white rice cooked in leftover beet water. Since i’m making baby food I will simply boil some beets for the baby and save the water for when its time to make my rice.

If you use the hard shell tacos then this meal is actually gluten-free, as is the lunch!

My Super Bowl LIII Party

My Super Bowl LIII Party

Hi friends,

This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday and that’s almost as exciting as Christmas in my house. My husband and I are big NFL fans and this year we are in the running to win our playoff pool.

Our Super Bowl party is different from others because we:

  1. Do not invite friends over.
  2. Get grandma to babysit.
  3. Eat foods inspired by the teams.

I’m a big New England fan and my husband is an “any-team-playing-New-England” fan. Last year my team may have lost, but I’m confident we will win again. I am also in love with Tom Brady – or as I call him, “my other Tom” since Hubby’s name is Tom.

I used to listen to sports talk radio on the drive to work so I was much more informed about the teams strengths and weaknesses and could annoy my husband by making Stephen A. Smith inspired remarks throughout the game. Now that I’ve been busy mommin’ two kids, I don’t stay up to date on NFL stats so I make Gisele Bundchen style remarks if New England has a bad game (e.g., “My man can’t throw and catch the ball at the same time!”).

No Friends

There are just too many distractions and not enough true fans if you watch the game with a big group. Some people’s priorities on Super Bowl Sunday are: (1) food, (2) commercials, (3) football. That’s just not us. We rank football top and this year while we’re calorie counting, food may be third. Also, [*TMI*] from our downstairs washroom you can still see the TV while you pee so you never miss a minute of the game.

So while we don’t invite people over, I also think people won’t want to come over after they read about our washroom door policy and that we’re calorie counting at the moment.

Grandma Babysitter

Our 3 year old is a good sports fan and has mastered her touch down dance this season. However, with a game of this magnitude, we need to call in grandma to help keep her occupied. I’m going to get the painting easel set up for her in the dining room. She likes it when I pencil something on paper and she can paint over it. For Sunday I’ll pencil in some footballs, goal posts, and some L’s and I’s for her to trace and paint.

I’m hoping for sunshine so grandma can play outside with the munchkin and she can practice her bike riding. Don’t worry, I’m not forgetting my baby – the plan is that the baby will nap during the game.

Ready for Super Bowl

Team Inspired Foods

We’re calorie counting to reach our weight goals for our upcoming vacation, but that won’t stop me from making foods inspired by the teams and the host city. Thankfully, California screams healthy foods unlike last year’s Philly cheese steaks! Below are my culinary plans.

LA Rams

My Auntarazzi [she is always snapping pics] lives outside of LA and I called on her for some LA inspired foods. I thought an afternoon kale and avocado smoothie was very LA, but thankfully she had some better ideas. My LA inspired food for Super Bowl LIII is:

  • Mini Fish Tacos with Guacamole

I am going to fill my tacos with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, squeeze of lime, and white fish. Add some fresh, toddler-mashed guac and these are going to be perfect. I can chop my veggies in advance and bake the fish in the oven so I won’t miss the game.

New England Patriots

If my mother is watching my toddler then it means my father will probably be on our sofa watching the game. He’s a vegetarian so for my New England inspired food, I’m choosing:

  • Boston Baked Beans [sans pork]

Boston baked beans have molasses and are more hearty than the beans I typically prepare with tacos. I’m going to modify the recipe so that these are taco-friendly baked beans.

Atlanta – the Host City

If a Super Bowl happens and you don’t eat chicken wings, did it really happen? Well, I don’t want to find out so my host city inspiration food is:

  • Lemon Pepper Wings

I am taking this inspiration from Rembert Brown who made a compelling case for lemon pepper wings as Atlanta’s signature food.

Have a Great Super Bowl

I hope you all have a great Super Bowl Sunday whether or not you’re a football fan or more of a commercial watcher. Let me know how you rank: football, food, and commercials in the comments below!

My Fun Foodie Fall

My Fun Foodie Fall

This fall, I’m excited to get back into the kitchen. I’m calling it my Fun Foodie Fall although, “Awesome Autumn Eats” was a close second. I’ve got the two best sous chefs around (hubby and munchkin) and I’ve planned out some delicious weekend fun.  I kicked off my fun foodie fall last weekend with a homemade pumpkin pie.

See ya’ Smokey, Sweaty Summer

I found myself complaining on the sweltering hot days this summer that all the heat was interfering with my desire to cook up some homemade delights.  There was no way we were turning our oven on, yet all I wanted was some fresh made bread, a roast chicken, and then to make soup from the chicken bones. With Fun Foodie Fall as the next season it means we are getting ready to say goodbye to Smokey Sweaty Summer.

Fall is My Favourite Season

Fall has always been my favourite season, which goes back to my days of running cross-country through the crunchy leaves. Starting a new routine in September feels natural to me and each weekend until December 17, I’ll be whipping something up in the kitchen to celebrate Fun Foodie Fall.
We’re big into NFL and College football (go Buckeyes!) and from the kitchen I have a perfect view of the TV.  I don’t feel I am being overly ambitious since I already know I’m going to be at home most weekends and have the time to conquer this fun challenge.

Mouse House Mom is planning a Fun Foodie Fall with homemade treats each weekend
My munchkin is eager to help with my Fun Foodie Fall

Fun Foodie Fall List

Enough with the suspense, here’s what I’m going to be making all fall long as part of my Fun Foodie Fall:
  • New Finger Licking (NFL) Snacks
  • Pasta from Scratch
  • Gourmet Grilled Cheese
  • Canning Applesauce
  • Bake Pies (Apple and Pumpkin)
  • Make and freeze Lasagnas
  • Homemade Ramen Broth
  • Prepare a Ghoulish feast for Halloween
  • Perfect my Olive Garden Copy Cat Zuppa Tuscana
  • Brine a Turkey
  • Meatballs in Homemade Sauce
  • Homemade Buckeye Chocolates
  • Bake Artisan Bread
  • Host a Christmas Cookie Baking Party
  • Macaroni and Cheese
These are all of my favourite foods to eat during fall.  Some will be much easier than others to prepare so I won’t be slaving away for hours each weekend. The soups on the list all have simple prep and then all the hard work and flavours occur during hours of simmering on the stove.

Fun Foodie Fall means homemade pumpkin pie
Mouse House Mom’s Fun Foodie Fall kicked off with homemade pumpkin pie (white chocolate in the filling is my secret ingredient!)

Next Up:

I think I’ll be heading over to Pinterest to get some ideas for some of these Fun Foodie Fall ideas and themes. I’ve never made buckeye chocolates or a ghoulish feast before.
Weekly Meal Plans for Working Parents

Weekly Meal Plans for Working Parents

I am happiest when I have solved a problem with the use of a spreadsheet. A few years ago, I began using a spreadsheet to make my weekly meal plans. Having weekly meal plans keeps me focused and efficient.  Also, my husband and I both arrive home from work between 5:30 and 6 PM and that doesn’t give us much time to boil water, let alone make an entire meal.

Why I do Weekly Meal Plans:

  • Holds me accountable to eat better.
  • Reduces food waste.
  • Saves money on one-off grocery trips or eating out.
  • Saves time as I can prepare food in advance.
  • Reminds me to use freezer food.

Shelby Hancock weekly meal plans dinner pic
Dinners planned out and enjoyed as a family.

Easing into Meal Planning

If meal planning is going to be a shock to your system, then start out slowly with only planning weeknight dinners and plan to make more than you need so you can eat leftovers during the week. I know leftovers are a polarizing subject, but let it be known I’m #TeamLeftovers.

Below is a sample week for my family:

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Dinner Leftovers Veggie Stir-fry with chicken and rice Leftovers Pasta with microwaved meatballs Crock pot Chicken w/root veggies.
Next Day Prep Measure rice.

Take chicken out of freezer.

Boil pasta + assemble.

Take whole chicken out of freezer.

Chop veggies and get crock pot ready.
Evening Activity 8pm Run 8pm Run

Shelby Hancock weekly meal plans dinner pic
One of our weeknight dinners.

The Extra Rows

I find it very useful to add additional rows to my weekly meal plans to include “next day prep” and “evening activity”.  As a result of “next day prep”,  you don’t forget to take food out of the freezer. This allows freezer food time to defrost and you can also plan more evening prep when you anticipate a more hectic next day. The above example shows that I take my chicken out of the freezer and into the fridge on Wednesday night.  Come Friday, I can put the thawed chicken into the crock pot.

Depending on the amount of time you have to prepare your dinner each day, you can adjust the amount of next day prep to do and move some to the day of. For me, it is useful to have my rice and water measured the night before so that it is ready – all I have to do the day of is rinse the rice and turn on my rice cooker and in 15 minutes, I’ll have my carbs!

Adapting for Children’s Eating Habits

I add rows to my weekly meal plans for my daughter (the Munchkin), to indicate who will pick her up from daycare (e.g., my husband or the grandparents) and on what night she needs a bath.  If my husband and I are eating perogies or potatoes then I need to plan a meal for the Munchkin that is different from ours. She’s usually a good eater, but has always refused potatoes.

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Pick Ups Dad Grandma Dad Grandpa Dad
Bath Night? Yes Yes

 

You can expand the weekly meal plans to include weekends and all other meals. I’ll be sure to blog about some of my favourite quick and easy week day meals.

 

Mouse House Mom gives an overview on how to start weekly meal planning for working parents.
Mouse House Mom gives an overview on how to start weekly meal planning for working parents.

 

Shelby Hancock weekly meal plans dinner pic
Roasted cauliflower is her signature dish.

Mickey’s Printable Weekly Meal Plans

My family likes that I use the Mickey’s Printable Weekly Menu [pdf] found on the Disney Family site here: https://family.disney.com/activity/mickeys-printable-weekly-menu/

I can quickly write in what our dinner is for each night and post it on the fridge. Alternatively, you can start with this if it is your first foray into meal planning. Posting the printable Mickey menu on the fridge helps us keep Disney alive all year in our home!

 

Related

If you’ve survived a busy week, then treat yourself to my Churro Treats at Home Recipe for a weekend family brunch.

Churro Treats at Home Recipe

Churro Treats at Home Recipe

When I’m at Disneyland, I have a weakness – I can’t walk past a churro cart without wanting to stop. I remember as a child, standing by Rivers of America, when my dad brought me my first churro from the stand by the Haunted Mansion.  It has since been my fifth food group while on vacation in Disneyland.

Shelby Hancock Churro home recipe

While I crave churros all year, I’m fortunate to have grown up in an Italian family where we had a special occasion breakfast tradition of “fritti”, which is fried bread dough topped with sugar. When I’m not at Disneyland, I can make fritti at home and be reminded of the fried chewy, yet crunchy goodness of churros.

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home

Friendly Disclaimer:

These are more like “beaver tails” or “elephant ears” than the long stick-like churros, but they are also a whole lot easier to make at home without much effort. That said, these are still fried-doughy goodness like that of a churro. Call ’em churros, call ’em fritti; as long as someone is making them, I’m happy!

Fritti Ingredients:

1 loaf of frozen French bread dough

2 cups Vegetable (Canola) Oil

Topping:

Butter, for spreading on finished product (use your pre-made butter dish)

1 cup Sugar

3 tsp Cinnamon

 

Fritti Directions:

Take frozen loaf out of the freezer the night before and leave it out overnight on a cutting board with large bowl/lid on top of it to allow it to rise.

Cut off a piece of dough about the size of an egg.  Stretch the dough with your hands; keeping it about ¼ inches thick. Shapes when pulled will be round or oblong – it’s not a science so don’t worry about messing it up! Note: in the pictures I actually made dough from scratch instead of store bought frozen bread dough. Using homemade (super sticky dough) is why I had to flour my cutting boards.

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet.  Oil should be at least a few centimetres deep, this may require more than 2 cups.  Allow oil to heat up (e.g., a water droplet will cause sputtering in the oil so stand back!). Gently lower the stretched dough pieces, one at a time, into the hot oil and fry each side until golden brown. Layer cooked fritti on top of paper towels. Serve immediately.

Combine 1 cup of sugar with cinnamon in a bowl or a pie plate. Add more cinnamon to your liking and set aside.

Butter your fritti then spoon the cinnamon and sugar mixture onto it.  Shake off excess sugar. Due to shaking off the excess sugar you may prefer to have your mixture in a pie plate as it is larger and will catch more of the excess when you shake it off.

Photo Descriptions

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
The pieces of dough cut from the loaf.

 

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
The dough after it has been pulled/stretched.

 

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
Stove top is ready.

 

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
Flipped and cooking on the other side.

 

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
When removing from the pan allow excess oil to drip off.

 

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
The art of applying the cinnamon and sugar.

 

Plan Ahead Tip:

We make fritti for most special occasions so I keep a premade cinnamon and sugar container in my cupboard. Don’t fret about measuring cinnamon and sugar as it is best to make it to taste. Enjoy!

 

I hope you enjoy fritti as much as I enjoy eating a churro in Disneyland. Thank you for reading!

 

Shelby Hancock of Mouse House Mom enjoys final churro of Disneyland vacation
My final churro of our Disneyland vacation.

 

Related Mouse House Mom posts on DISNEYLAND:

 

Fun + Festivals: Italian Day on the Drive 2017

Fun + Festivals: Italian Day on the Drive 2017

Local Events: Italian Day on the Drive 2017
Local Events for June 10 to 11 from Vancouver to Langley

Every Wednesday I’ll be updating you on some local fun from Langley to Vancouver, BC.  I live in Langley and I’m finding it a great place for my little family. We always find lots of fun on the weekends without having to drive far.  This weekends highlighted festival is: Italian Day on the Drive. Local fun this weekend are the spray parks in the Township of Langley.

Italian Day on the Drive

This Sunday, June 11, is a favourite festival of ours: Italian Day on the Drive [Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC].  I’ll admit that since having our daughter in 2015 we haven’t made it to Italian Day on the Drive.  While there are four different stages all featuring entertainment, the main draw for attending is to eat.

This event is always crowded so I’d suggest using a baby carrier instead of a stroller. Think crowded like Disneyland crowds, but without the convenience of stroller parking. Since the weather isn’t supposed to be sunny and hot this may help ease the crowds.

Below are my three must do things for Italian Day on the Drive in Vancouver in chronological order. Hours are 12pm to 8pm.

1. Take Public Transit to Commercial Drive, Vancouver

  • Arrive via Skytrain. It will be less than 1 hour from Carvolth Exchange in Langley and shorter from Surrey Skytrain stations.  You’ll want to exit at Commercial Drive station and walk north up Commercial Drive. The event starts at N. Grandview Highway and goes up Commercial to Venables.  Most of the fun will be up between 3rd Avenue and Charles Street.

2. Get a BBQ’d Italian Sausage from the First Ravioli Store

  • This is located at 3rd Avenue (SE corner).  Throughout the year we buy fresh pasta from First Ravioli Store, but at Italian Day on the Drive we always stop here for a delicious BBQ’d Italian sausage in a bun.  My husband loves that they have marinated eggplant in their condiments selection, which we now copy at home for our upscale hot dog nights!

3. Espresso and Pizza from Abruzzo Cafe

  •  Six blocks up from the First Ravioli Store you’ll have covered a lot of ground and probably watched a performance or two on the stages.  This is where you go for an espresso and a slice of pizza. You won’t be disappointed and your kids will love the pizza!  Rest your legs at a table – there’s a back room with additional seating for watching televised soccer games.  Now you’ll be ready to conquer the Drive back to the Skytrain station.

Find more info here: http://italianday.ca/ which includes a map of where each stage is.

Local Fun in Langley

Be sure to check out the Spray Parks in the Township of Langley.  Since the two Township of Langley outdoor pools have yet to open up the spray parks are a great place to cool off.  And unlike outdoor pools, they are free! Spray parks are running daily from 10am to 8:30pm when the forecasted temperature is 18 degrees Celsius or higher for that day.  The Township of Langley has five spray parks to choose from, with the Willoughby Community Park being my favourite. You can find out more at my Local: Langley page.

Have a great weekend!