Friday, October 31, 2014

Foodie Friday - Teriyaki Meatball Bowls

Remember how we have an overload of meat in our freezers? And how I have to learn how to cook up all the different cuts of both pork and beef that we have? Well this recipe tackles the question of what to do with minced pork. Or as you might know it as, ground pork.

I'm pretty sure most people would have opted to get their portion of "minced pork" turned into sausages but since I can't eat gluten, that wasn't an option for us. So I figured we would just learn to come up with ways to use ground pork on our own. And by that I mean asking my readers for ideas. If you also follow me on Facebook, you will know that I asked for ground pork recipe ideas last week and I got some really good suggestions. A few people mentioned meatballs and one person even gave me a recipe link for some teriyaki meatball bowls. <--- Click for recipe

I was immediately sold on the idea of trying this recipe, mostly because they sounded and looked delicious, but also because the recipe comes from one of my favourite food blogs of all time, Budget Bytes. Seriously, this blog is amazing and all the recipes I have tried from there are delicious. You should check it out.

But back to the meatballs. The ingredient list was a little long and daunting but at closer inspection, really not that hard to make.

I love these types of recipes, where you get one part of it cooking while you whip up the rest. Once the meatballs were formed and in the oven, I could then move on to making the rice and sauce. No crazy stress trying to get everything done at once.

I also liked that I only had to make a few tweaks in order for it to be gluten and corn free. I used my gluten free soy sauce and bread in the meatballs and the only thing to change for the sauce was swapping the corn starch for some arrowroot flour. Easy peasy.

I like me some simple yet tasty food.

I may have overcooked my meatballs a bit but they still tasted fine, just a little crispier than normal.

Which totally didn't matter once I soaked them in the nice teriyaki glaze for a bit. You'll have to forgive me for these next few photos. The lighting in the kitchen wasn't that great, everything had sat for 20 minutes waiting for Dan to arrive home and we were too hungry to fiddle with great photos. But you'll get the idea.

Our glaze went a little too gooey since the arrowroot flour isn't the exact same as corn starch. And I don't think letting it sit for a while helped it either. But it still tasted good, despite being a tad too "thick".

We also cheated and added some green beans to the mixture after taking these pictures. I felt like the meal was lacking in veggies, so I grabbed some beans from the freezer for it, despite Dan's argument that green onions were totally a vegetable.

Overall, we were both really pleased with how this recipe turned out. Dan loved it and kept saying how good it tasted. I wasn't as in love but I think I'm just not as used to the pork flavour as he is. I shall learn though, since we have a lot of minced pork!

Anyone else try out any new recipes this week? Care to share?


Foodie Friday Mini Series, Take 2

Week 1: Banana Bread
Week 2: Butternut Squash Soup & Flat Bread 
Week 3: Nutty Chocolate Bark
Week 4: Lazy Sunday Casserole 
Week 5: Teriyaki Meatball Bowls

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Simple Pleasures - October 2014

I've been enjoying the little things this last week, trying to remind myself to slow down, look around and soak up the moment. It doesn't always happen but it's good to still try.

Our blueberry plants turn such a gorgeous colour

Sedum are so pretty in the fall

Chilling with my hubby

Free samples!

Book finds from the giant library sale I attended

Piling wood in the late afternoon sunshine

A giant tree we found while geocaching
Now it's your turn. What have you been feeling thankful for and appreciating lately?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Peppers To The Freezer!

Despite the fact that we emptied our garden a couple weeks ago, I am still dealing with some peppers from it. We started getting a lot of cold nights and we were getting tired of covering the plants every time it froze, so we opted to just pull everything up. Despite having picked a lot of peppers throughout August and September, there were still quite a few green ones left on the plants. So we picked them, brought them inside and have been letting them ripen on the counter.

Last week, it was time to actually deal with them.

We love putting peppers into stirfrys and occasionally some other meals, so for us, it's easiest to chop them up and freeze them in small bite size pieces.

My brother taught me the trick of freezing them in wide mouthed mason jars, to make it easier for getting them out frozen. When we want peppers in a meal, we just pull the jar out of the freezer, grab a spoon and chip out as much as we want from the jar. Easy peasy!

We ran out of peppers last winter so I'm hoping that I did a better job preparing for this winter. I have something like 20 jars (of various sizes) in the freezer by this point.

I love how easy it is to freeze peppers since there is no blanching involved. Wash, chop and freeze. And they still taste good after being frozen. They obviously lose their crunch but they still keep their sweetness and add a nice flavour to our stirfrys, alfredos or chilis.

I used old peanut butter jars this time because I had a bunch extra and they work well with their wide mouths. Basically, any sort of jar works.

This tip for freezing peppers doesn't only need to apply to those of us with gardens. You can also freeze peppers you buy from the grocery store. For example, if you buy a bag of peppers and then aren't using them as fast as you had hoped, you can chop them up and freeze them instead of letting them go bad in your fridge. Pretty handy tip, eh?

I hope you all had a good weekend, even if it was the last one in October. Where did the fall go? I'm not ready for winter yet. Anyone else dreading the snow?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Foodie Friday - Lazy Sunday Casserole

I swear I have shared this recipe on here before, but I can't for the life of me find it. And if I can't find it, how will you be able to find it? So I decided that I would just share it again. Plus, it's so good that it deserves another shout out.

Enter the Lazy Sunday Casserole. <---- Click for link

Best.meal.ever. Seriously.

The flavours are to die for and you just want to eat it all immediately. Which we most definitely did last night. It wasn't a full recipe though, so I'm trying not to feel to guilty for devouring it in one sitting.

The recipe actually calls for a bell pepper that I usually put in because it adds a burst of colour as well as a nice sweetness to the meal. But I froze all my ripe peppers yesterday morning, forgetting that this recipe called for them. Oops!

Once the veggies are cut up and spread in the pan, you pour the liquid and spices over the top of them all.

Oh I also don't put the fennel. Mostly because I don't know what it is. Anyone want to enlighten me?

Once you finish adding the liquid, cover the whole pan up with tin foil and put in the oven until veggies are fork tender. While that's cooking, lightly brown your sausage and then cut up into smaller chunks. My sausages are big, so I cut them into thirds.

After the veggies have cooked for the 45 minutes, add the sausages and balsamic vinegar to them and return to oven uncovered for another 30 minutes. I'm being pretty vague with my instructions because I'm just expecting you to click on the recipe link above and follow that one closely.

Her pictures of everything look way better too. I don't really care though, because mine still tasted awesome. Even if it didn't have any peppers.

So basically, this is the best meal ever. I'm salivating just looking at the pictures and remembering how good it tasted last night. We might just make it again for our company on Sunday. It is called Lazy Sunday Casserole after all.

Anyone make anything good this week? I'm always open to ideas and suggestions.


Foodie Friday Mini Series, Take 2

Week 1: Banana Bread
Week 2: Butternut Squash Soup & Flat Bread 
Week 3: Nutty Chocolate Bark
Week 4: Lazy Sunday Casserole

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Let's Make a Baby: Plan B

So since our Plan A didn't work for us, we are now moving on to Plan B. As I mentioned in this post, we did a diagnostic monitoring cycle and a semen analysis for Dan.

First up, how cycle monitoring went. It was good but slightly stressful, mostly the getting up at crazy hours of the morning. 4am to be exact. The first two times we went in were both on Fridays so we opted to take the GO Train instead of battle the traffic.

We felt so out of place on the train full of commuters, wearing our jeans and running shoes, but it got us there quickly and we didn't really care what everyone else thought of us. Once we arrived at Union Station, we opted to walk the 1.5km up to our fertility clinic instead of battling the masses on the Subway.

The monitoring went relatively quickly each time, since all they really have to do is blood work and an ultrasound. But some mornings we waited longer than others, just due to the amount of people there.

We also took some time after some of the appointments to go geocaching. We learned cool stuff about the Old City Hall and also got to soak in some early morning sun. There's something special about a crisp fall morning.

So overall, the cycle monitoring experience was pretty good. Not my most favourite thing to do ever but still decent. It could have gone worse.

Now onto the results! We just had our follow up appointment yesterday so we haven't had much time to digest them all but are excited about our new plan.

For starters, Dan's semen analysis with DNA fragmentation results came back awesome. He has super swimmers, or as the doctor said "excellent" and "some of the best he's ever seen". So that was happy news that started our appointment off well.

On to the not as happy news, the monitoring showed that I have polycystic ovaries (but not PCOS). I'm still confused with this and haven't been able to find much info on Google. He explained it as my ovaries producing a follicle like normal but then it matures too quickly, which leads to a premature egg. According to all my hormone results, I move much too quickly to ovulation. The good thing about this diagnosis is that it can explain our losses and trouble getting pregnant now. Which is really nice to finally have a reason, even if it's not confirmed.

Moving on to the plan of attack. The protocol moving forward will be a medicated cycle with timed intercourse. To break it down a little more, here is what a cycle will look like.

Day 1: Start baby aspirin and call clinic to set up first appointment
Days 3: First monitoring appointment and pick up first medication, Letrozole
Day 3-7: Take Letrozole twice daily (Letrozole brings down estrogen levels and will hopefully let the egg mature better)
Day 8: Second monitoring appointment and then daily monitoring until the follicle is ready

Once the follicle is the right size, I will take my second drug, Ovidrel, to trigger ovulation. We will then be sent home for our timed intercourse. They will continue monitoring until ovulation is confirmed and then I will start progesterone, which I will stay on until a pregnancy is either confirmed or not.

If I am not pregnant, we will do this protocol for one more cycle before moving on to a similar one but with different meds.

So that is where we are at. We will be waiting a few months before starting this protocol, so we have some time to prepare ourselves for it, both emotionally and financially. Although we are very aware of how inexpensive it is here in Canada to do any sort of fertility treatments.

We are excited for this new plan and feeling good about our chances. We also love our clinic and doctor, which is a huge bonus. Hope you guys all enjoyed our over sharing post!

We are choosing to be open about this part of our journey because we need the support and love from our friends and family as we move forward. I also want to help raise awareness of infertility and pregnancy loss, helping make it less of a taboo subject. If you are struggling with infertility or have experienced multiple losses like myself, please know you are not alone. This is a hard road to walk down but there are others who can come along you and support you. 

Having said that, it is NEVER appropriate to ask anyone (not just myself) about the status of a women's uterus. Do not ask if we are pregnant. We will choose who we will tell and when we will tell them if we are so blessed with another pregnancy. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers but will not be answering questions in regards to whether or not there is a baby growing inside of me. If you ask, be prepared for a snarky answer. Thank you!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Marilyn Denis Show!

Remember when I mentioned that with my cycle monitoring, I was planning on staying with a friend in Toronto for a few days to alleviate the stress of traveling during the week? Well I ended up ovulating early (seriously, more on that later this week, I promise) and didn't need to continue my daily treks to the fertility clinic after Thanksgiving Monday.

So I cancelled my plan to stay with my friend, as well as a dinner engagement with another friend, but opted on keeping one of the fun plans I had put in place for that week. My cousin Stacey had picked up tickets for us to go and be part of the audience for a filming of The Marilyn Denis Show!

So despite not having to go in for any more monitoring appointments, I woke up at 5am last Wednesday morning and made the journey to Toronto yet again. But this time it was for a more exciting reason than getting stabbed in the arm with a needle.

The show's theme was Facing Your Fears and it had three segments. The first part was about decorating your house for Halloween and one whole corner of the studio was decked out like someone's front yard.

It was pretty cool. Even if some of the decorations were a little creepy. Especially when they were fiddling with them trying to get them set up and one of the swinging pumpkin men lost his head but was still talking.

The next segment was a fear factor type thing which included four ladies from the audience going up and tasting some nasty food while blindfolded. Glad I wasn't one of them!

The third segment had a family therapist come in and talk about some tips on how to face your fears. And then it had a pretty cool finale that I'm going to keep a secret so that you have to go and watch the show. :) Which will be airing on October 28th. I'll return to this post later and share the link so that you can see me on TV!

It was really great to see Stacey, even if it was for a short time. And I plan on meeting up with her again, since I'll most definitely be returning to Toronto at some point in the near future.

It was a good day and a fun experience. Has anyone else ever been in the audience of a show? Or an extra on a movie set?Or am I the only celebrity? Kidding!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Foodie Friday - Nutty Chocolate Bark

I've been trying to come up with better snack options for myself, something a little healthier than cookies or chips but that will also help me put on some weight. I've been talking to my sister Cora, who is a nutritionist, and she has been giving me some different ideas on yummy yet still sort of healthy snacks.

She suggested chocolate bark for a nice dessert and I immediately jumped on that idea.

I opted to use a variety of nuts, mostly because I'm trying to integrate more kinds into my diet and because I thought it would look nicer. I used almonds, peanuts, walnuts and brazil nuts.

For the chocolate, I used a mix of Camino bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate chips, about the equivalent of one full bag. I am so glad I discovered Camino chocolate chips.

Once the chocolate was melted nicely, I spread it on to a parchment lined cookie sheet. I do admit though, I may have spread it a little thin. But I don't mind, chocolate is chocolate.

I sprinkled my variety of nuts evenly over the chocolate and then spread a spoonful of chia seeds over that.

The next step involves patience, since you have to let it cool down in the fridge before tasting it. But fortunately for me, with my thin chocolate spread, it cooled down fast and was soon available for nibbling.

Once it's cooled, I broke it up into easier to grab pieces and put them all into a container. Now you can either keep them in the fridge or in a cool place in your kitchen. I opted for the fridge because I have the room and I prefer the taste of it cold.

So there you are, a super quick and easy snack that you can pretend is healthy due to the nuts and chia seeds. Have you ever made bark before? If so, what kind did you make?


Foodie Friday Mini Series, Take 2

Week 1: Banana Bread
Week 2: Butternut Squash Soup & Flat Bread 
Week 3: Nutty Chocolate Bark