carrot bread :: nom, nom

this recipe is a big hit at our house! 
the kids love it, dear hubby slathers mountains of butter on it and i like to nibble on a chunk while sipping fresh coffee. yum!

(the original recipe is from the joy of cooking, but after years of baking it, food allergies popping up in our family and after adding just my own preferences this is the recipe that i’ve settled upon.)

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 as desired sprinkling of ground cloves
3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs/ or preferred egg substitute
1/2 vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (you could substitute zucchini)
1/2 sunflower seeds
1/2 chocolate chips (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. preheat your oven to 350F, and grease your bread pan.
2. mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves together.
3. in another larger bowl mix, sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla and salt. add dry ingredients. then add carrots and chocolate chips
4. scrape batter into your pan. bake for about 45 minutes or until bread pulls away from the sides of the pan. let cool before serving.

baking can be demanding, exhausting work, especially when you’re two and it’s right before lunch and one’s afternoon nap. this pouty lip appears quickly, but disappears just as fast, if lion is distracted by something else.

it’s so nice to have a helper around!

and, voila carrot bread. because i don’t bake with eggs my breads and loafs don’t rise quite as well, as yours will if you use them. we discovered a year ago bear’s terrible eczema was caused by eggs, so we stopped eating them just like that, all four of us.

xo, mama lola

cod chowder soup recipe

i’ve always loved a good fish soup. i grew up in finland where fish is a huge staple in the diet and is cooked in a large variety of ways.


INGREDIENTS:

approx. 1 lb fresh cod (frozen is ok, fresh tastes better)
2tbsp butter
4-6 yukon potatoes
1 yellow onion
1 small red pepper
2 stalks of celery
2 carrots
2-3 tbsp fresh dill
3 tbsp flour
4 cups (whole)* milk
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
(1 cup cream)*

* i use whole milk, so i skip the cream. if you’re using skim, you may want to add the cream.



INSTRUCTIONS:
1. bring 4 cups of water to boil in a skillet. cube, cut cod into bite size pieces. place into skillet, cover and simmer for approx. 5-7 minutes or until cod is flaky. remove from water with a slotted spoon or spatula, place on plate and set aside.

2. melt butter in a large pot; add diced potatoes, onion, bell pepper, carrot and celery. stir often. stir in flour and slowly add the milk. add, salt, black pepper and mustard. reduce heat to ensure the milk will not burn, simmer for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are tender. watch the milk carefully!

3. add cod, dill and cream. stir in gently. heat thoroughly.


this soup is well worth all of the chopping and prep work. i get all the dicing done during lion’s nap and then once it’s time to make dinner it’s all ready to go. i try to do prep stuff often before hand, because i never know what kind of a mood bear will be in after school. and, sometimes it’s nice to be able to linger at the playground or park after school.


my kids love soup and cod chowder is not any different. 
on this night we had a side of fresh veggies, swiss cheese or brie cheese, which is bear’s favourite on some finnish rye crackers. delicious!



xo, mama lola

bear’s 5th birthday :: the loot bags.

BIRTHDAY WEEK!

truth be told, i kinda loath the whole loot bag idea, but it is what it is and i have to work with the system. in years passed, we have made some kind of non-edible gift for our friends to take home. we’ve sent our friends and family home with magnets, bow ties, pinwheels and one year the kids just got a balloon!

this year, since bear is in school and the kids have learned to expect a certain amount of candy and junk, i just caved and gave them what they wanted. i got each kid a helium balloon, a few dollar store items like foam animal masks and funny monkey buttons and glow sticks. 
then we made a yummy sweet n’ salty treat bag for the kids to take home. 


the treat bags included :
pop corn
unsalted pretzels 
valentine’s M&M’s 
other various heart shaped candies

we took normal lunch paper bags and bear decorated one bag per guest. he worked so hard writing everyone’s names on them and decorating them with party themed drawings. i attached the paper treat bags to the plastic loot bags and the kids were thrilled! unfortunately i didn’t get a pictures of all the final bags, but you get the idea. so simple, quick and easy, and a fantastic way to get the kids involved!


what do you about loot bags? do you nix them or hand them out?
tomorrow i will post about bear’s fantastic cake!

xo, mama lola

bear’s birthday party!

WELCOME TO BIRTHDAY WEEK!

on sunday, my bear had a birthday party for his 5th birthday. he insisted that no adults were allowed except for dear hubby and myself, and all four grandparents. so that’s what we did, a drop off party. i was a little nervous and skeptical that it would work, but another mum had recommended it and since bear really wanted to do it, i figured why not.


the party was short, two hours. the plan was to let the guests trickle in, but they all arrived promptly at 11am! that meant party time! the kids played, while i made some fruit kabobs and cream cheese wraps. then dear hubby had them play a few rounds of pin the tail on the donkey, then it was lunch time, and then cake time!


after devouring the carrot cake the kids played again for a bit, and then it was present time! and then, again the parents arrived promptly and the party was over! for any parent considering hosting a drop off party… DO IT! for us as hosts, it was easier as we didn’t have to feed as many people, and i wasn’t trying to catch up with a friend while trying to organize the kids as well. i actually had several opportunities to sit and chat with my folks, drink coffee and just watch as the kids played.
the kids themselves were so well behaved. there was no fighting, no shenanigans of any kind; they followed directions, ate nicely, chatted amongst themselves and were super adorable, quite frankly!


we made an amazing cake that i will post about in another entry. and, i will share what we did for loot bags this year in another post. 

THIS IS BIRTHDAY WEEK! 
bear is turning five on valentine’s day and i’m building up to my letter that i wrote to him for this special occasion.

xo, mama lola

blueberry & strawberry muffins.


lion and i baked some yummy muffins. i love to have his help in the kitchen. he is so determined to mix and stir everything for me! so sweet!

this time i used blueberries and strawberries, but i have also used pears, apples, dried cranberries, dried apricots and banana’s in this recipe. really just depends what you have on hand, and what flavours you want to mix together. the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sugar, which i think is a bit much, so i often reduce that and add some extra fruit. delish!


INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg (or egg replacer of choice)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 fruit finely chopped

muffin cups. i prefer the aluminum ones as they peel off of the baked muffins so much easier.



INSTRUCTIONS:

1. preheat oven to 400F.
2. add dry ingredients to a bowl. then, add the wet ingredients. mix well together.
3. add fruit to mix and stir.
4. place muffin cups into the pan. then add muffin dough into the cups. put  a thinly sliced strawberry on top, as a decorative touch!
5. bake until your fork comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.
6. let cool before taking a yummy bite!



happy baking!

xo, mama lola

delightful strawberry treats!

as we start to move closer to the weekend, here’s a little summer lovin’!

for me, strawberries are a sign of summer. and since we are obviously not going to have a snowy winter (again) and, since i am tired of this winter that turned muddy and brown, i have to admit that i am now yearning for some warmer temperatures and some green grass in my backyard. i know, i know, i’m a winter gal, but there has to be snow for it to feel like winter. and there isn’t so i’m ready for a change.
so, to brighten my spirits and yours, and to warm our toes i thought i would heat things up here at BEAR&LION and get the summer ball rolling… with some STRAWBERRY DELIGHTS!


sources
1. strawberry tea from mandee’s candee shoppe
2.rhubarb strawberry tart from simply gourmet
3. strawberry bruschetta from the curvy carrot
5. strawberry shortcake from epicurean mom
6. strawberry jam from mike’s table

xo, mama lola

oven roasted brussel sprouts & new potatoes!

i love oven roasted veggies for dinner. especially during the winter months, when eating lots of earthy foods feels so right. i also love cranking up the oven, as it warms the house a bit more too!

i often make veggies in the oven for my family, the boys love ’em!

INGREDIENTS:

potatoes
brussel sprouts
carrots

1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup

*it really depends on how many veggies you use for the oil/syrup ratio.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. chop vegetables to desired size.
2. add olive oil, vegetables, salt and maple syrup to oven safe dish. mix ingredients well and bake in preheated oven of 425F for approximately 30-45 minutes. it depends on your oven for the temperature and time. 
3. mix the veggies thoroughly about half way through cooking.



this bowl of veggies was devoured with some baked salmon and a green salad.


here’s what a dinner table may look like at our house. i love to use table cloths, especially in the winter months. on this particular evening the kids set the table using their plastic playdo mats as placemats, so it goes!

what does dinner look like at your house?

xo, mama lola

slow cooker vegetarian chili

i love me a good chili, especially during these cold winter months. 



this is my own version of a veggie chili. there are lots and lots of recipes out there, and sometimes it’s good to try something different with an old favourite. but, here is my tried and tested vegetarian chili recipe.



INGREDIENTS:

1 can of black beans
1 can chick peas
1 can stewed, diced tomatoes
1/2 jar of tomato pasta sauce

1 large yellow onion
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 zucchini
1/2 red bell pepper

3 tblsp olive olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
1-3 tsp chili powder (depends how spicy you like it)
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2-3 bay leafs

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. chop up onion and garlic. stew in pan with heated olive oil.
2. throw in chopped carrots, celery, zucchini and red bell pepper. add to slow cooker.
3. add beans and spices to the slow cooker. mix ingredients well before starting cooking process.
4. i cook mine for about 5 hours, but i have done it in less time when in a time pinch!
5. serve with a dollop of sour cream or shredded cheese on top!

my kids love chili! sometimes if i have pasta sauce or rice left overs in the fridge i will throw those into my chili. and, if i feel like we need a protein kick i will add a block of tofu of any density.

enjoy!

xo, mama lola

recipe for : coconut milk & shrimp stir-fry : caused a fight.

it is so confusing to me how one week the kids will love one food, and despise it the next. it is all so random and probably not even about the food, but about power instead. 

last night, i made a super-duper fabulous coconut milk & shrimp stir-fry, which bear refused to eat. as soon as he got to the table he started his repetitive dialogue of “i hate this”, “i don’t like this”, which is a pretty common mantra around here recently. but, it’s frustrating because last week he gobbled up a similar stir-fry. all week he’s been at his rude, and last night, well, i had had it. i told me very calmly that it was time for him to change his attitude, eat up and be grateful. he didn’t take my suggestion, so he was sent to his room.


i quite enjoyed the stir-fry and am happy to share the recipe with you!

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium yellow onion
2 carrots
1 large handful kale
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 block of firm tofu
3 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 braggs soy sauce
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp oregano
1 sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper
1 package of pre-cooked frozen shrimp* (i took the tails off, as it’s easier for the kids)
1 can coconut milk

brown rice (how ever much you like to eat!)


DIRECTIONS:

1. chop onions, cube tofu and carrots into desired sizes. finely chop garlic and chop up kale.
2. start cooking your rice in a separate pot.
3. heat sesame oil in your wok or pan on a medium heat. do not over heat.
4. add onions and keep stirring until lightly browned.
5. add garlic and salt.
6. add tofu and braggs/ soy sauce. the pan will steam and spatter  if it does this, turn your heat down. keep stirring the tofu so that it doesn’t stick or burn.
6. add carrots, turmeric, oregano and cumin.
7. let the ingredients stew together. if you have lid for your pan, put that on. 
8. once the ingredients look nicely browned, softened and cooked, add coconut milk and shrimp. stir thoroughly.
9. let the sauce stew on a low temperature for a while. 
10. serve the shrimp coconut sauce on rice.


*check the thawing instructions on your shrimp package. i tossed my shrimp in a colander and ran them under cool water.


i personally love me a good stir- fry. look at all of the beautiful colours and textures; makes me hungry just looking at the final product! we eat at least one stir-fry a week. i use whatever veggies i find in the fridge. 


so, eventually bear apologized to me for being rude, but he still refused to eat his dinner, so it was straight to bed. he actually asked to go bed, which i understand. after three days of school he is always tired, super tired.

i hate dinner time battles. i take them personally as i am always thinking of the kids while preparing their meals. i think, “oh, lion loves tofu in this shape so that’s what i’ll do” or “bear was so excited last week when we had shrimp, so i’ll throw lots into this stir-fry tonight.he’ll be so happy”. silly me, i suppose!
what are your kids like at dinner? how do you deal with these kinds of power struggles?

here’s hoping tonight’s dinner goes more smoothly!


xo, mama lola

potato & leek soup.

fall is the perfect season for enjoying a bowl of yummy soup! this particular soup is a family favourite and has been in on our regular dinner rotation for years. it’s fast, delicious and there’s always room for creativity! we started with the original recipe from “the joy of cooking”, but through the years we have modified it to fit our tastes better. the recipe below is ours.



INGREDIENTS:

3 medium leeks
7-10 medium yellow potatoes
4-5 cups water/ broth*
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 sprinkling of ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic

DIRECTIONS:

1. wash and peel potatoes. cut in to quarters.
2. wash and chop leeks.
3. chop garlic into desired size.
4. heat olive oil in your soup pot on your stove, but do not let it get too hot. 
5. add vegetables and garlic. let them sautee at a medium heat. then add the salt.
6. add broth and let the veggies soften.
7. once the potatoes are soft, take pot off the hot stove top and with an immersion blender puree until smooth. sometimes i add a little water if i think the consistency is too thick. you could also add a little milk.
8. serve with fresh ground pepper and a dollop of sour cream on top. 

* we only use veggie broth as we are vegetarian. some use a chicken broth. i prefer to use a homemade broth, instead of the bouillon cubes, as they often tend to be full unknown additives.

** today, i added a medium bunch of fresh kale to the mix. just before i blended the soup i finely chopped up the kale and added it to the pot. it’s a quick and painless way to add dark leafy greens into the family diet!


enjoy!
happy monday everyone!

. . . . . . . 

lastly, i want to mention that i’ll be participating in a blog carnival soon… can’t wait to let you guys know the exciting details!


xo, mama lola
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