The Leeky Casserole

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

 

Let’s start this post by going back in time a little bit to Valentine’s Day 2015. In general Valentine’s isn’t a massive deal in our house- We don’t exchange gifts, we don’t go out on extravagant dates, in fact, we rarely even go out for a simple dinner. A special date at home, that I put Simon in charge of arranging, is more typical for us. One year Simon attempted to make heart-shaped pancakes for dinner {and then went a bit wrong so I had to take over}, another time he surprised me by taking me to an outdoor skating rink.

I’m getting off topic. ANYWAY.

Valentine’s Day 2015 we decided to do something totally different. My sister heard that a local golf course was doing an exclusive 4-course dinner and it sounded pretty — well, extravagant— but we decided to go for it. We booked a table with my Sister and her Now-Husband and set off for a fancy Valentine’s night out.

img_1417

So, we ordered some wine and we’re sitting at the table looking over the evenings menu {drooling– it all looked amazing}. Each course had two choices. An outburst of laughter comes from my left followed by “I don’t get it.. why do they call it a leak?” And more laughter. Huh?? “Right here, it says “Smoky bacon, potato, leek soup… what, is it leaking out of the bowl?!”.

OMG.

Dear Darling Husband; a leek is a vegetable.

He hasn’t lived it down.

{Neither has my sister for asking moments later if there were scallops IN the scalloped potatoes}

Yup, we eat at fancy places a lot. Can’t you tell? The soup was divine, by the way.

{… What has this got to do with Thanksgiving….?}

So, fast forward to last weekend. I made the commitment to host my very first solo Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve hosted before but I’ve had a lot of help. I wanted to really do it alone- I’ve really been wanting to check that off my bucket list.

I settled in for a hour of downtime and tuned into my girl, Ree, and it just happened to be a Thanksgiving episode {surprising considering American Thanksgiving is more than a month away} said in which she featured a Potato Leek Casserole. It was a sign from above that this was a side dish that was destined to be on my Thanksgiving table.

Some may say it’s risky to try a new dish for company, let alone a Holiday dinner, but Ree has never failed me. Everything I’ve ever made by The Pioneer Woman has been excellent.

So, I put together my feast for 7 adults, plus 3 that needed care plates, and the littlest Kochie. I chose, purchased, prepped, stuffed, basted and roasted that beautiful bird solo. On the side I served 2 kinds of stuffing, mashed potatoes, Potato Leek Casserole, broccoli casserole, carrots and buns.

It all went perfectly! I accomplished the feat by myself, with the exception of my potato mashing Mother In Law and my gravy making Mama. Oh, and also dessert- I delegated that to the Kuchen lady at the local farmers market, and my Mother In Law for her amazing pumpkin pie.

I was pretty darn proud of myself. If I do say so myself.

img_1410

The Potato Leek Casserole was delicious {I reassured Simon that no leaking would occur}. The only substitution I made was the cheese on top. I couldn’t find Fontina so I looked up suitable substitutions and used a combo of mozzarella and Monterey Jack. Scrumptious. You can find the recipe HERE

img_1414

Happy Thanksgiving! What did you make for dinner this weekend?

❤ Kochiemama

img_1415

HELLO OCTOBER

BRRR! We woke up this morning to a winter storm warning. Yes, already. On October first. Yesterday was a beautiful 24º and I wore short-shorts for what will probably be the last time this year #insertsadface. We are expecting 15-20cm of snow in the next 24 hours and I wouldn’t say I’m happy about it. Fall is lovely- Winter is not my favourite. 3 Weeks ago we were still pushing 35º! It’s just all happened so quickly and I’m not ready!

But, enough complaining. No one can control the weather.

hello october

I started September with a fresh get-back-on-track attitude and committed to some Fall Resolutions . I would say that I started with my best intentions but as the month wore on I started to fall back off track. The continued hot weather got the best of me and I slipped back into those lazy summer habits, and, overall it was a very busy month. Here’s how I did:

  1. Meal Plan For The Month As A Whole
    Well, I rocked at the planning! I had the calendar filled with 30 different meals using what I mostly already had in the freezer and pantry and utilizing leftovers with no repeats. Buuuuut, I didn’t rock so much with the following through. Week 1 went perfectly. Week 2 went ok- I missed a couple of plans. Week 3 and 4 were pretty non existent. As soon as I am done this post I will start working on October.. Hopefully I will do much better this month!
  2. Cut Grocery Spending- Save $50 Each Month From The Budget
    This was a tricky one this month. I needed to do a big pantry re-stock and we were running out of all those expensive household things like laundry soap, dishwasher soap, paper towels and toilet paper. I did, however, manage to ring in $44 under budget- YAY!! All money saved from Groceries between now and the end of November will go towards Christmas.
  3. Reconnect With Yoga- Go 4 Times/ Month 
    I went the first week!! It was GREAT! My balance and strength were not what they used to be but I thought I kept up pretty well. I didn’t make it again after the first week, though. The hubs worked late a few times so it didn’t work out and the last 2 weeks of the month were super busy and it just didn’t work out to go again. I’m not giving up on this though- I stopped in and purchased a 20- class punch card this week so I am pre-paid and good to go for at least until the end of the year now 🙂
  4. No Coffee Until After Breakfast
    This one was to get myself to eat that all-important meal of the day. I would say overall I ate breakfast more times this month that usual, but I didn’t eat every morning. But, the morning I didn’t have breakfast I didn’t have coffee either so I did achieve what I sort-of set out to. It did mean that on mornings I had coffee out I also spent extra on eating breakfast out too. A valiant effort if I do say so myself.
  5. Catch Up On All Family Multi-Media
    Nope. No progress here.
  6. MOVE
    Nope. No progress here either. We just did another price reduction so we are being proactive. Fingers crossed it happens soon.
  7. Take Some Time For Myself Once A Week
    Good news- I DID make time to watch “You’ve Got Mail” and it was wonderful. I also went to the one yoga class. And, my sister and I hosted a sign workshop with some friends. That was about it though- But, three out of four weeks isn’t too bad, right?

hello fall

October doesn’t just mean earlier evenings and the first snow fall- It also means the start of Holidays! I am hosting Thanksgiving next weekend. Although my Mama will be here to help me I am going to make a point to do the whole turkey part myself. I’ve cooked turkey twice before in my kitchen, but both times I had assistance from a pro. This time I’m feeling confident enough to do it myself. Wish me luck!

I can start planning ahead for Christmas! Lots of exciting things coming up and plenty to share with you

Chat soon, friends.

❤ KOCHIEMAMA

 

 

ROASTED RED PEPPER & GARLIC TOMATO SAUCE

A SAUCY SEPTEMBER LONG WEEKEND

Mm Mm Mm. How can you not take advantage of harvest season and the very best produce of the year being ripe and ready to devour? Sadly, the peak season is short lived and we all wish we could bottle it up and save it to have through the winter months. Well, it so happens that you CAN bottle it up- canning is a popular way to preserve all sorts of produce at this time of year. It’s an art. A practice of careful steps to ensure the jars are preserved properly so as not to make anyone come down with a case of botulism. In other words, a technical, intimidating process that I am not comfortable doing without the assistance of a much adultier-adult than me (for example, my In-Laws- they are pro’s!). So, if canning isn’t an option for you, how can you still bottle it up for a rainy day? Use your freezer!

We had planned to get away for the Labour Day Weekend but we decided against it at the last minute and opted for a stay-cation instead. I thought I would start with stocking the freezer with some home made tomato sauce- a staple in this household! I started the Saturday morning bright and early with a trip to a local greenhouse to round up everything I needed. Here in SE Alberta we are incredibly lucky to have greenhouse fresh produce at our finger tips. When purchasing right from the source is it a bargain. I left with everything I needed for only $18! That made 14 2-Cup portions- That’s only $1.24 each. You just can’t beat that.

img_0779

Making sauce is a process. It is time consuming and requires your full attention. It’s the kind of kitchen work that should be rewarded with a bubble bath and a glass of wine at the end it of- you’ll be exhausted! From start to finish this took me about 5 hours, not including cooling and freezer bagging.

img_0780

ROASTED RED PEPPER & GARLIC TOMATO SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

10lbs Tomatoes
1 Head Garlic
2lbs Red Peppers (Approx 7)
2 Red Onions (Chopped)
2 Yellow Onions (Chopped)
2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Pepper
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Dried Basil

Get a couple of your biggest pots out and fill one about half way with water and get in on to boil. The other you’ll use for the tomatoes once they are blanched so just have that handy for a little later. While your water is boiling you want to get roasting your red peppers. Crank your oven up to 450º. Line a baking sheet with foil. Rinse and dry the peppers (leave them whole). Rub a little olive oil all over the skins and put them on the lined sheet. If you like your garlic roasted go ahead and add your cloves to the same pan.

Once in the oven the skins will blacken rather quickly. Check on them every 10 minutes and turn them until all sides of the skin have blackened- About 25-30 minutes.

When your peppers are nicely blackened on all sides take them out of the oven and get them into a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until later. The plastic wrap will cause the peppers to sweat and will make the skins so much easier to get off later.

While your peppers are roasting get started on the first step of the tomato prep- blanching. Add a few tomatoes to the boiling water and watch for the skins to start cracking. This is what it looks like when the skins start to separate from the inside. When you see that the skin has cracked all over remove the tomato from the pot with a slotted spoon and get into a colander to cool. Rinse with cold water so its easier to handle and then peel the skin off. Discard the skin. Quarter your tomato and put in the second empty pot you have handy. Repeat until all the tomatoes are de-skinned.

Once your tomatoes are all blanched and have the skin removed get this big pot on a medium heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic. To deal with the peppers simply slice down the middle and pull the flesh away from the skin. The seeds will also easily peel away. Discard the skins and seeds. Add the peppers to the tomato pot.

sauce 7

Bring the pot to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. When everything is tender get your immersion blender out and carefully blend the mix until smooth. Once smooth add the salt, pepper, basil and sugar. Why sugar, you ask? If you taste the sauce without sugar you will find there is a bitterness to it. The sugar will counteract this. Stir. Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes.

IMPORTANT! Be sure to TASTE your sauce to decide if it needs more seasonings. All tomatoes are different. Bitter? Add more sugar. Too sweet? Add more salt. Needs more pepper? Basil? If you like a sauce with a little kick don’t be afraid to add a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes. Your personal preference may be that you would like more of something. Tasting is a critical step to ensuring that you have a great sauce that you and your family will really enjoy.

Once you are happy with the consistency and the flavour of the sauce you have 2 choices:
1. Turn off the heat and set the pot aside to cool (this will take several hours).
2. Can it. I don’t have any directions to offer for this. You will either have to a- be versed and confident in this process, or b- find an adultier-adult that can assist you in the next steps!

If you choose to freeze the sauce you will need to wait until its totally cooled. Label and date medium sized freezer bags and then divide your sauce into the bags. I did 2 cups per bag but you can do more or less depending on your portion size preference. The average pasta sauce jar is around the equivalent of 2 cups.

KOCHIEMAMA TIP: Fill your bags by using a cup or similar container. Put the bag inside folding the top over the rim. Easily pour your sauce into the bags without spilling or making too much mess.

Seal your bags firmly, getting out as much air as possible. Stack the bags flat and freeze them flat- this gives you the most efficient use of space for storing them in the freezer.

When you’re ready to use the sauce you can defrost and use thawed. I have used the sauce from frozen in the slow cooker, and partially thawed for stove top cooking if I didn’t think ahead to thaw it earlier in the day. Both methods have been successful for me.

Did you make sauce this season? What do you love to add?

Until next time
❤ KOCHIEMAMA

Apples Apples Apples

It just wouldn’t be late August without the rolling in of harvest season. I think it makes the idea of crisp chilly mornings just a little more bearable knowing that the best produce of the year is also right around the corner.

Last summer I was lucky enough to get to pick some apples from my friends backyard tree and I was so hopeful she would offer the same again. She did! Last week I spent the morning with her and came home with about half a big diaper box full. Ooh the possibilities!

These apples aren’t sweet and are made for cooking so I knew I had a busy afternoon of apple prepping ahead of me. Last year I made some apple crisps but I didn’t have any of the ingredients on hand to whip those up. I decided on apple pie filling and apple sauce that I would stash in the freezer until needed. I make my apple pie filling the way my Mama does and it doesn’t seem to be the way any of my friends here do theirs. It must be a British method! I start by stewing my apples on the stovetop before getting them in to my pie crusts, as opposed to filling the crusts with raw apple slices. Is this odd? I’ve never met an apple pie I didn’t like.. but I must say my Mama’s pie is my very favourite.

First things first- I had to peel, core and chop the apples. The apples were small so this took me forever! To keep the apples from getting brown throughout the process I kept them in a big pot of water. When I had gotten through about half the apples I rinsed the apples in the pot and then filled the pot with water until it was about an inch below the top of the apples.

Adding sugar is an important part of this process. I can’t offer you a measurement, it’s all by judgement depending on the amount of apples. Start with a quarter cup and taste test once the stewing down has started. You can always add more if needed. If you like cinnamon with your apples go ahead and add some here, also. I chose not to as I wasn’t sure what my end result of these apples would be.

Stir the apples from time to time, keeping them over a low heat. The goal is to soften the apples, but you don’t want to turn them to mush. Once you’re happy with the tenderness you want to get them out of the hot water. I spooned them into a strainer with a slotted spoon and reused the flavourful water for the second batch of apples. Once cooled I divided the stewed apple chunks into 3 portions to use as pie filling at a later date.

The second batch of apples I stewed longer to a much more tender state, then drained and mashed them to make apple sauce. I divided this into 3 portions and got into freezer bags to use at a later time.

Label and date your freezer bags and get them into the freezer only when fully cooled.

And there you have it! My weekday apple adventure. By the end of the process the house smelt absolutely amazing. No essential oil or scentsy could come close to that smell!

What would you create with a box of apples?

Until next time, friends. ❤ Kochiemama

Hello September

“Don’t you just love New York in the Fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name & address” – You’ve Got Mail

This morning we woke in September, can you believe that?! The first day of September is bittersweet; I am oh so sad to see another Summer come to an end, but finally my favourite time of year has arrived! Those long warm evenings are drawing to and end to make way for those cool crisp mornings. You know what that means? Sweaters! And, boots! And, scarves, cardigans, cute jackets, pumpkin spice lattes (yes, I already had one today!), comfort food, and baking season!

September first is my reset button. January is a great time for reflection and envisioning where I would like to new year to take me, but when it comes down to getting myself and my life back into routines and focused on resolutions then September is my jam.

With four months left in the year I’m setting myself some resolutions:

  1. MEAL PLAN
    This is something I used to do really well at. I’ve become pretty lazy in the kitchen department over the last few months. Summer is a difficult time for cooking because it’s hot and, let’s face it, no one feels like turning on oven when its +30 degrees. All one really feels like doing is sitting around eating ice cream treats (or is that just me?).
    I resolve to meal plan the month as a whole for the next four months.

  2.  CUT THE GROCERY SPENDING
    How I spend SO much on groceries I don’t understand. I have spent over the budget every single month this year. Two months totaling more than $200 OVER the budget. How! I admit to being lazy with meal planning but I haven’t entirely given up. I stock up when my needs are on sale, I buy in bulk, I don’t buy an awful lot of “packaged” foods and snacks, and we rarely order in or take out. Even better planning and some more frugality will hopefully curb this one.
    I resolve to save $50 from the grocery budget each month. 
  3. EAT BREAKFAST
    I would say overall my nutrition since becoming a parent has declined to an all time low. Most days I’m running on caffeine and the occasional cookie or cracker snack until suppertime. The problem with breakfast is that I use the time that the Little Man is eating to throw myself together for the day or get a chore taken care of while he is occupied. But, I can’t continue this way.
    I resolve not to have coffee unless I’ve had breakfast.
  4. RECONNECT WITH YOGA
    I haven’t been to yoga since early in my second trimester (so, almost two years ago!). I miss it.
    I resolve to go to yoga at least four times each month.
  5. CATCH UP ON PHOTO ALBUMS & VIDEO COMPILATION & BABY BOOK
    Liam turned one in March. Everything got so crazy with getting back into work and regular life that I didn’t get the chance to ever sit down and finish filling in his first year milestones and fun things in his baby book. I must do this- As time passes I know I am forgetting things. Hubs and I need to pull all our videos off our devices and get them into a movie to keep these precious moments safe. I haven’t printed photo’s for our baby photo album since before last Christmas so I need to update that. Come to think of it, I never printed our wedding (3 years ago) photos either.
    I resolve to catch up on family multimedia. 
  6. MOVE
    Our house has been for sale for more than two months now. We thought we would have been moved and settled somewhere new by the end of the summer but that has now passed and we are still here. My new hope is that we have moved before Halloween, or, at the very least, before there is snow on the ground. This one is out of our hands until the right buyer comes along. So, here’s to hoping!
  7. MAKE SOME ME-TIME
    One of the biggest things I need to start making some time for is myself. Its hard juggling moming, wifeing, working, friending, and just regular everyday lifeing. It’s hard some days just to find the time (and the energy) to shower. I need to make self care a priority. And, you know what? I think I’ll start by sitting down to watch “You’ve Got Mail”- my favourite movie for this time of year.
    I resolve to take some time for myself once a week.

Welcome, September. I’ve been waiting for you.

❤ Kochiemama

 

 

 

Ham Sauce

AH, THE HOLIDAYS.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or Canada Day, those family get togethers wouldn’t be quite the same without the food. Each Holiday has something to look forward to in the kitchen department, and it just isn’t quite the same without that special something. In our house Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without a turkey, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Eggs Benedict for breakfast, and Canada Day just isn’t Canada Day without a big family BBQ (although, this year we will be trading our BBQ tongs for fine china because my baby sister is getting MARRIED!).

For me, Christmas Eve isn’t Christmas Eve without ham. My Mum makes the most amazing ham on Christmas Eve and I look forward to it even more than the turkey. You walk into the house on Christmas Eve afternoon and you can just smell that amazing ham smell and you just know   that Christmas is here. The smell transports me to my childhood home and my childhood Christmases every single time. It’s magic. Don’t you just love those moments?
BUT. This last Christmas Eve was without that wonderful meal. And I really missed it. My Christmas Eve wasn’t the same without it. Especially as I knew my family was enjoying my favourite Holiday meal without me. We started a new tradition of alternating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our parents so that each could spend quality with us and Liam instead of squeezing all our visiting into one day. We had a wonderful, special day with my Husbands family with plenty of all the good stuff- food, gifts and lots of love. No complaints there.. but.. I didn’t even get a ham care package. Just saying.


So. Happy Easter! Easter is a bit of a wildcard when it comes to the family meal. Obviously the food association here is chocolate. Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without a few bags of Mini Eggs! When it comes to the family meal it is a bit of a wildcard. Turkey, roast beef, roast chicken and lamb have all made an appearance over the years. I have the pleasure of hosting Easter dinner today and alongside the Mini Eggs I will be serving HAM. Christmas Eve ham. Complete with mashed potatoes, asparagus casserole, and the most important part of the ensemble: ham sauce. What is ham sauce, you ask? It’s sweet. It’s smoky. It’s saucy. You’ll love it. You’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. You’ll never eat ham without it again.


HAM SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup Heinz 57

1 Cup Liquid Honey

10 Dashes Tobasco

DIRECTIONS

Add ingredients to mason jar.

Shake well.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Note: Continues to keep very well in fridge

This sauce is also delicious on BBQ ribs or pulled pork.

Enjoy ❤ KOCHIEMAMA 

Mustache Cookies

IF YOU MUSTACHE.. I AM DELICIOUS!

We celebrated our Little Man’s first birthday last weekend! We hosted an afternoon full of food, friends, family, and a few mustaches. You can check out all the party highlights on the party post.


Fitting with the Little Man theme I whipped up a batch of sugar cookies and cut them using a mustache cookie cutter. They were adorable! More importantly they were delicious and our guests really enjoyed them. In fact, It’s a good thing I taste-tested at least 10 cookies while I was baking and decorating because there were NONE left at the end of the party!

I am not the worlds greatest cookie baker. I’ve always struggled getting a great batch of cookies to come together no matter how closely I follow the recipe. I really needed success this time so I consulted my wonderful friend Nikita for a fool proof cookie dough recipe. She suggested her sugar cookie recipe and I gave it a try.

SUCCESS!

This will now be my go-to cookie recipe forever and ever. I halved the original recipe and made one teeny tiny ingredient adjustment. I had to sub almond extract in place of the vanilla as I didn’t realize I was all out of vanilla extract until I had started making the dough. Almond had to suffice this time but no qualms about that here. The outcome was superbly delicious. I can’t wait to have a need to make cookies again 🙂


After the cookies were cooled I made a simple icing glaze with just icing sugar and water and about two thirds of the cookies. The first third I sprinkled with chocolate sprinkles for a fuzzy mustache look while the glaze was still wet. The remaining cookies I decorated with the left over buttercream from the cupcakes. How cute are they?!



Thank you for saving me from my cookie slump Mrs McElgunn! You can find the original recipe HERE.

Eggs & Bacon Salad

IT ALL STARTED ON THURSDAY. 

We’d been out and about picking up some renovation supplies and we shopped right through dinner. We were famished and decided to pick up some A&W on our way home. I was dreaming of a Teen Burger or Chubby Chicken Burger but rolling up to the drive through the Hubs noticed that Papa burgers were on special 2 for $7. I’d actually never had a Papa Burger so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. By the time we left the drive through we had an order of 2 Papa Burgers, 2 Chubby Buddy Burgers (mini burgers.. because I still wanted chicken) and an apple pie (because what is life without dessert?). They say “don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry”… Perhaps we should add “don’t drive-through when you’re hungry” to those words of wisdom.

We got home and I unwrapped my very first Papa Burger. 2 Thick beef patties in one bun. My starving self had a hard time getting through that much meat… I almost didn’t make it. But, once finished I still wanted that chicken so I ditched the second bun and just ate the delicious crispy fillet. Then, when I really shouldn’t have eaten anything more, I remembered the apple pie.

Commence tummy ache.

And the tummy ache continued until bedtime, the following morning, and well into the afternoon.

Dinner last night required the opposite of the night before. Salad for dinner was all I was in the mood for. One problem, my husband wouldn’t exactly agree! We have this continual problem that about an hour after dinner I am faced with “I’m still hungry” just about every night. If I was going to serve a salad it needed to be seriously filling.

img_4848

The Hubs named this salad “Eggs & Bacon Salad” because it has eggs and bacon in it (original, right?!). Despite it being a “salad” he has never grumbled about it because it is fully of really tasty ingredients and is a full-meal-deal in the dinner department. Whenever I make it, it’s never exactly the same twice. It’s a great clean-out-the-fridge dinner and you can add what you love and leave out what you don’t.


EGGS & BACON SALAD

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

2 Grilled Chicken Breasts. Cooled. Thinly sliced.

2 Hardboiled eggs. Cooled. Thinly sliced.

4 Strips Crispy Bacon. Crumbed.

1/2 CUP Ham. Diced.

1/4 CUP Cooked Quinoa. Cooled.

Half green leaf lettuce. Rinsed and chopped.

Half English Cucumber. Chopped.

8 Cherry Tomatoes. Quartered.

1/2 CUP Corn.

2 TBSP Hemp Hearts.

Your favourite salad dressing.

DIRECTIONS:

Arrange half of each of the ingredients onto 2 plates.

Top with a drizzle of your favourite salad dressing.

Note: Serve with a side of grilled naan bread for extra tastiness.
ENJOY!

KOCHIEMAMA

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

snapseed

SUNDAY SNOW DAY

We are buried under inches upon inches of the white stuff! The snow started to fall on Friday evening and it hasn’t stopped since. Thankfully the roads are highways are well maintained in this part of the world and getting around hasn’t been too hindered. However, we are taking full advantage of some quality hibernation time and enjoying a quiet weekend at home.

To cut down on grocery costs this month I am really trying to use what I have in the pantry and freezer. The grocery bill got a little out of hand last month so I’m making a commitment to be more conscious of grocery costs and recover from some of the (unfortunately necessary) over spending. I like to keep a well stocked panty and freezer so with some more effort for planning ahead this task shouldn’t be too difficult. 

I was debating making a dessert to go along with the roast beef I made for dinner last night (funny story about that roast beef coming up later this week- stay tuned, friends!). I could eat warm, comforting desserts every single day at the moment. It’s a winter thing. After some thought about what I was in the mood for, and what I had on hand, I spied some past-their-best buns in the bread bin. I had whipped up some home made buns to go with the pulled pork I made on Thursday. I should have frozen what was left over- If you’ve made bread before then you know that it goes stale very quickly. But, instead of preserving their freshness safely in my deep freeze, there they were, getting hard as a rock, on my kitchen counter. How do you save stale bread? You make bread pudding! And, what’s better than bread pudding for dessert? Bread pudding for Sunday Snow Day Brunch.

img_4488

In the spirit of using up some of what was on hand I pulled out of the freezer some of the pumpkin I pureed after Halloween, and found an open carton of almond milk in the fridge that needed to be used up. I cubed the buns and left the pieces, uncovered, to dry out for about an hour before continuing the prepare the rest. Then, in a large bowl, I whisked the eggs, sugar, almond milk, pumpkin puree and spices together. The bread cubes got tossed with some melted butter and put in a large, buttered casserole dish, and then the liquid mixture was poured over the top. As this recipe was a first time experiment I had an “Oh, goodness. I think I have way too much liquid here” moment. But, it was the perfect amount. By the time I got my camera ready to take the photo it had already started to absorb into the bread. By this morning it was fully absorbed. So, don’t be alarmed.. lots of liquid is a good thing! I then covered the casserole dish with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge overnight to allow the rest of the magic to happen.

img_4506

My Mother-In-Law always stops in for lunch on her way home from church and this would be a tasty warm lunch to serve on a snowy Sunday. About an hour before she arrived I topped the pudding with a sprinkle of brown sugar, cinnamon and some chopped almonds, and popped it in the oven. The house smelled amazing! I served it up with a drizzle of syrup and a side of coffee and baileys. It was a hit! Even the baby devoured it (minus the coffee and baileys, of course!). Aside from all the eggy, pumpkin, sweet bready goodness in this dish… It is also Mother-In-Law approved!

img_4503


PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING

Serves:
4 as a main dish
6 as an accompaniment

Ingredients:
7 stale bread buns (approx. 8 cups)
1 tbsp softened butter (for buttering casserole dish)
1/4 cup melted butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 3/4 cups pure pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
For topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced or chopped almonds
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
1.
Cube bread and set aside for 30 minutes to dry out.
2. In a large bowl beat eggs. Add sugar, almond milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well to combine.
3. Butter a large casserole dish.
4. Toss butter and bread cubes to coat. Transfer to the casserole dish.
5. Cover bread with the liquid mixture.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight is best.
7. When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350.
8. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with brown sugar, cinnamon and almonds.
9. Bake for 50 minutes. When casserole has “puffed up” and top is toasty brown it is ready.
10. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Delicious served with a drizzle of syrup!
Enjoy as a main dish or a side to your breakfast favourites.

What do you think, friends? I’d love to hear if you tried this recipe! Comments always welcome.

❤ KOCHIE MAMA

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday To Me

IT’S THE BIG DAY

img_4351

Well, here we are. Hello THIRTY! I must say, I have been dreading today for.. Well, if I’m being really honest, the last fifteen years. I remember very well that on my fifteenth birthday I had an emotional breakdown over the idea that I was halfway to thirty. My mid twenties were full of anxieties over “What if I’m not married by the time I’m thirty…. What if I’m not a mother by the time I’m thirty… What if I don’t have a career by the time I’m thirty…”. I was consumed by these ideas. In fact, I was under the impression that I would be considered a failure if I did not check all of these boxes by the time I was thirty. What nonsense! Who is society to tell me that I am, or I am not, enough.

Yet, the last few days I have to admit I have been mopey. I’d like to blame it on the lovely winter weather we’ve been having, my tired haze thanks to the 5:30am wake ups we’ve had for the past few weeks, or lack of caffeine due to the fact that we have been hibernating and I haven’t visited a coffee shop in at least a week. Yesterday I just couldn’t shake it. I was treating the last few days as if they were a funeral- An ode to the death of my days as a twenty-something. Last night, after baby was in bed, I ran myself a bubble bath, poured myself a glass of bubbly, and settled into the tub for a much needed dose of reflection. Did I check all the boxes? Did I fulfill the dreams the twenty year old me had hoped for by now? Well, you know what? The last ten years have held some of the most important and defining moments of my life. My life has been bigger and better than my dreams ever would have thought it could be, at twenty. In fact, regardless of what society may have expected from me by today, I can hold my head high and know that my twenties have been the very best years of my life and I am proud to be the woman I am today.

THE TOP TEN EXPERIENCES OF MY TWENTIES

I Am Canadian

My family moved to Canada when I was 14. Ten years later, in 2011, we were officially sworn in as Canadian Citizens. This was one of the most memorable and special days of my life! I am so proud to belong to this great nation.

img_2965

The Day I Was Debt Free

When I was twenty I bought a brand new condo. Yes, me. I worked for barely more than minimum wage and somehow qualified for a mortgage. In the beginning it was all rainbows and butterflies, but when the keys became mine I was in for a reality check. Unanticipated expenses quickly started coming in. I had no savings behind me. My monthly expenses suddenly exceeded my income. I started to fall behind on bills, I couldn’t afford groceries, and I missed out on all the fun my friends were having. I started to live on my credit card just to be able to buy food and gas for my car. I drowned in this financial nightmare for a couple of years thinking there was no way out. At rock bottom I decided to rent a room for some extra income to start digging myself out of the hole. One room rented then became two rooms rented and I finally was getting somewhere. Did I want to share my home with strangers? No. But, it was my only choice. A choice that I did not regret, either. I made some life long friends in the process! It took me an awful lot longer to get out of the debt pit than it did to get into it, but little by little I got there. It took a LOT of financial discipline in both paying down the debt and building up savings. The day that I made the last payments and owed nothing (other than my mortgage, of course) was freeing. What a relief. I once again had control over my income. No one was ready to take it before my paycheck had even been deposited.

Committed To Community

I started volunteering when I was twenty one. I had been interested in the Big Sister program and decided that I wanted to invest some time into this. I was matched with a Little Sister and we started spending time together. When we met she was only six and I have had the pleasure of watching her grow into the feisty fourteen year old she is today. We are truly sisters by heart.

Namaste, India!

A few years after I started volunteering I had the chance to apply for a once in a lifetime opportunity. My volunteer experience matched the “Committed To Community Award” criteria and I eagerly applied for the chance to travel to India to work with Free The Children building a school.  On a December morning in 2013 I got the surprise of my life.. I was chosen as the award winner! I was an overwhelming honor.

I spent ten days submersed in the rich Indian culture. It was the trip of a lifetime.I learned to lay brick at the school site and now the smell of wet cement fills me with nostalgia!

My Wedding Day

My Husband and I met in High School. We’ve certainly had our fair share of ups and downs over the years. In fact, at times we barely made it through the growing pains. People often have this idea that if you’re High School Sweethearts then life will be magical for you. That is far from true. Just like all relationships, it takes hard work to stay together. After a ten year journey together he finally proposed and we were married in 2014. As it should be, our wedding day was one of the most memorable of our lives. In every way it was perfect. We exchanged vows in the park that was our special place back in the early days. I wore my Grandmother’s lace wedding dress (circa 1954). We had our very closest friends beside us. I even surprised my groom with a Lego themed wedding cake. I never thought I would be so lucky to have such a perfect day.

_dsc1165

My Retail Career

I do not have a formal post high school education.I am the classic example of not being able to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up and then got too comfortable in real life to do anything about it.  I have passionately worked in customer service since before I graduated high school. I’ve had the pleasure of working for a wonderful company that has allowed me to build a career in the retail world. I have been given many opportunities to develop my leadership skills. I have been lucky to travel to new store openings and assist in the development of management teams in other locations. At home in my own store I’ve not only sold clothes but confidence and self-love to women. I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing some lovely young ladies along their life journey.

So many times I have encountered the opinion of “Oh, so you just work at a store?”. No, I do not just work at a store.

The Test Was Positive

I always wanted to be a Mother. Always. There has never been a doubt about that. We had made the choice to leave it in God’s hands and trust that he would know when the time was right. The morning I took the test I entirely expected it to be negative. I was really taking it to assure myself that I was imagining things. I held the stick as it did its magic… first line appeared- ok it’s working… a SECOND line appeared.. WAIT, WHAT?! The world, including my heart and lungs, stopped. “No, no. I must have read the instructions wrong” I thought and read through them again. All the little pictures showed that two lines was positive. The test was positive. THE TEST WAS POSITIVE! I couldn’t believe it. I had never felt such overwhelming joy. I took a second test just to be sure. Then I went and purchased a third test from a different brand just to make sure that the first two weren’t just a fluke. We were going to have a baby!

I was blessed with a great pregnancy and enjoyed every minute of carrying my baby boy.

img_1506
35 Weeks Pregnant. My last day of work before maternity leave. 

 

I Can’t Wait To Meet You, Grandma!

Telling my Mama that she was going to be a Grandma was absolutely priceless. At the time she was six months into cancer treatment and I knew this news was just what she needed to hear. I had just returned from a long weekend in New York so I whipped up a pretend souvenir mug that said “I had a great time in New York with Mommy… And now I can’t wait to meet you Grandma! See you in March 2016”. She kept reading out the first side of the mug and saying “But, I wasn’t with you in New York”. When she finally turned the mug around and read the rest there was hysterical joy filled tears. I have it on video. A moment I will always treasure.

 

Becoming A Mother

The day my son was born. I can’t put this experience into words.

img_4325
Family of three

Seeing The World

I have been so lucky to have had opportunities to travel. I have also been very lucky to have wonderful people to travel with. My BFF, April, has been my travel partner in crime and we have been all over the place together.

A few highlights of my travels include…

Dipping my toes in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean sea. Snorkeling (not well) for the very first time in The Bahamas. White water rafting in Glacier National Park, Montana. Standing on top of The Space Needle in Seattle, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and The Rockefeller Center in New York. Witnessing my husband seeing a real sandy beach and seashells for the very first time. Shopping at a market in Udaipur, India. Enjoyed a Chai Tea Latte from the original Starbucks in Seattle. Snow tubing at Mount Norquay in Banff. Seeing the Statue of Liberty in both New York and Paris. Hiking to Cameron Falls, North West Territories. Watching Chicago and Phantom Of The Opera in New York and Once in London. I ate a toxic hotdog in a baguette in Paris and got terrible food poisoning. Experiencing Old Delhi, India. Dancing my heart out to Taylor Swift on the 1989 Tour in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Discovering airport spa’s in Amsterdam. Enjoying a $38 glass of sangria 38 floors above Times Square, New York. Riding a sea-doo in Antigua. Laid bricks at a school being built by Free The Children in Rajasthan, India. Walking across The Brooklyn Bridge (desperately needing to pee!) in New York.

… I could go on and on! I have had some amazing experiences in the world. I value each and every one of them.

 

I can’t wait to see what the thirties will bring for me.

Lots of love,

Kochie Mama x