Fast Friday Night Stir-fry

Every weekend, I make sure to fill the crispers in our refrigerator with fruit and vegetables, and then I spend the week chopping and sorting them into school lunches and adding them to our meals. 

When Friday arrives, I take stock of what is left and often throw together a fast stir-fry.

I'm sharing my less-than-10-minutes recipe here (though I had to fudge the measurements, because I was taught by my mom and she measures with her eyes) for those nights you're looking for something to feed the kids and working with whatever's left in the house after a long week.

fast-stir-fry

There are a few ingredients that I always have on hand. 

  • low-sodium chicken broth (and when I'm really "on" I have homemade broth in my freezer!)
  • oyster sauce (this brand is preservative free and I have seen a GF-version too)
  • hoisin sauce (if you prefer a sweeter taste than oyster sauce)
  • low-sodium soy sauce (there are probably healthier brands like fermented tamari but this is what my mom always used...so it's in my pantry too)
  • canned miniature corn and/or water chestnuts to give it a chinese take-out vibe

I chop the veggies up into bite-sized pieces. I also use snap peas, broccoli, and cauliflower when I have it. And I always throw in a half-cup of frozen peas.

And then I use whatever we have on hand for protein. We rotate extra firm tofu, shrimp and chicken. We always have tofu in the refrigerator and shrimp and chicken in the freezer.

Add about 3 tbsp of cooking oil to a large skillet (I use grape seed oil).

Add a teaspoon of minced garlic. Add protein until cooked well. You can remove and set aside.

Throw in veggies and toss repeatedly until slightly tender (~ 3 mins). 

Mix 2 tbsps oyster/hoisin sauce, 2 tsps of soy sauce (or tamari) with 1 3/4 cup chicken (or veggie) broth.

Add liquid to stir-fry. Toss for another couple of minutes.

Return protein to skillet.

fast-stir-fry

I often have packaged noodles (which I buy in the sushi section of my grocery store) on hand. You can use soba noodles for a gluten-free option or regular uncooked pasta (which you would prepare separately). We also change things up by having this stir-fry on rice, too. 

fast-stir-fry

It's so easy to make and such a great way to purge the refrigerator before the start of a new week.

This recipe also makes great leftovers for grown ups to take to work (or eat at their desk, in my case).

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MAKE A SPLASH: {AVOCADO AND BEAN DIP}

We live in the suburbs. And in the suburbs, there are backyard pools.

Not in our backyard, unfortunately, but in the backyards of our friends and neighbours.

And now that the sun is shining and it's no more teachers, no more books (wait, no, there will always be books), we are trying to spend as much time as we can outside (to prevent too much time in close proximity-itis).

Over the past two weeks, the kids have been in four different pools. Please let it be known that we are happily accepting invitations for the coming weeks.

We don't come empty-handed. We come bearing OHMYGOODNESS delicious Avocado and Bean dip, and if you're really lucky, I'll bring Frito's corn chips for scooping it up. 

Avocadosalad

This recipe was given to me after I tried it a summer party. It was a symphony in my mouth (oh the cilantro and lime) and I hardly mingled that night—unless the fellow guests came close to this dip and I had to convince them they wouldn't like it. 

Since I've already had several requests for the recipe, I'm sharing it here. 

But please...don't bother spending your time making it (especially if you have a backyard pool), I'll just bring it over with our swim suits. 

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Ingredients

1 small red onion (diced)

1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 cup frozen corn

1 avocado (diced)

1 tomato (seeded and diced)

1/3 cup red pepper (diced)

1/3 cup cilantro (fresh and chopped)

Dressing

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp jalapeno (minced - you can buy this jarred)

1/2 tsp salt

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Mix ingredients for dressing separately, and pour over assembled ingredients. Make ahead to allow flavours to soak in and store in refrigerator before serving. Leftovers are great in eggs the next day.

I wish I could credit the original source for their brilliance, but it remains a mystery.

 

 

 

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BACK TO THE EARTH

Boots

We've finally landed in spring—in our rainboots, of course.

Even though the skies have been grey and the air chilly, it's the perfect season to honour the Earth as it wakes from a (long) winter slumber.

The buds are beginning to show themselves and the grass is finally taking on some colour. 

Mommy, LOOK, the flowers are popping up!

WORMS!!

Mommy, I like the smell of the sky. 

Screen shot 2014-05-03 at 11.15.34 AM

I'm very lucky to have four kids who love to get dirt under their nails and mud on their knees. 

They happily spend time outside and show a lot of curiosity about the well-being of the environment. From their earliest days in school, topics like recycling and energy conservation have been part of the curriculum—and they are keen to hold us to it at home. 

Having a bigger (and busy) family can make it all too easy to seek out conveniences and short cuts. But now that the kids are asking questions, I'm more conscious of it. And we are taking steps to do better. 

One of the areas of family life that I've really started to focus on this year is the way we eat.

I am very fortunate to have friendships with two amazing women who also have four kids each. And a lot of our idea swapping centres around how/what to feed our families.

I've been looking to them more and more for inspiration. One is raising a vegetarian family, the other a vegan one.

Screen shot 2014-05-03 at 4.28.43 PM

Since I started to hold myself accountable when it comes to school lunches, I've come to understand that I can do the same for all of our meals. While I don't imagine we will ever become pure vegetarians or vegans, we have been successfully introducing more of this style of eating to our family meal planning and shopping. 

We've already been practising Meatless Mondays for several months, and I've been introducting more vegetarian meals. When Netflix sent me an alert about their green eating documentaries, I knew I had to set the time aside to watch. I know myself well, and the visual facts would be hard for me to ignore.

Vegucated

We started with Vegucated and Forks Over Knives and we plan to watch more as we continue to look for ways to make changes. 

Both documentaries were thought-provoking and being able to follow real-life individuals and families, as they learned about the impact of their food choices, really resonated with us. 

We've been grilling our pumpkin pancakes in coconut oil and putting spinach in our smoothies. We're adding hemp seeds to our baked goods and cutting back animal products as much as we can. 

It feels really good. And one of the added benefits is being able to teach the kids about how these choices are decreasing our family's impact on the environment.

One of the messages we've been working hard to reinforce is that although we are one family, we can make a difference and inspire others to do the same. Each person and their choices matter. 

What about you? Did your family take on any new challenges to honour Earth Day? 

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Disclosure: Netflix has invited me to join their #StreamTeam blogging program (yes!), and therefore provides me with product and an extension on my existing subscription. The opinions regarding the shows I watch are mine. 

 

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The Absentminded Duo

Today didn't start the way we had imagined.

But that's the way things go with four kids.

Make a plan, expect it to unravel.

It's been a relatively lazy weekend for us. We're headed out of town for three days at the end of the week, so we decided a hang out at home would be a good idea leading up to it.

After staying up far too late doing this, the plan was to have JB take the three oldest kids to swimming lessons this morning, while the little one and I got busy in the kitchen filling up the freezer for school lunches

We were woken by an in-your-face time check from one of the girls. The ladies in this house don't like to be late, and they've have learned the value of taking the bull by the horns, so to speak.

I stayed in bed for a few minutes longer, while JB got the day started. I heard him directing the kids to pack their own swimming bags and some food for afterwards. We've been working hard on making them increasingly accountable for their belongings and getting things done when it's for their own benefit. 

Annlandersquote

I came downstairs as they were headed for the door. And I was there to see the moment that it all started to unravel.

JB said Okay everyone grab your swim bags and head out. Later today, we'll stop at the bookstore and you can each choose a book.

Piggies

The kids received gift cards for helping their friends guinea pig sit over the March break. They've been excited to use them. Except, you can't say that kind of thing to the boy and ALSO expect him to remember that you've asked him to do something.

His brain does not have enough room in it to think about the million and millions of books he wants to take home AND remember a swim bag.

I was in the kitchen filling up at the coffee maker when I heard the door slam. A few minutes later—just as I was sitting down to my steaming mug—I noticed the lonely swim bag in the front hall. And of course it was the boy's. And of course, as I called JB's cell phone to tell him to turn around and come back for it, I was met with voice mail telling me his phone is completely dead. 

In other words, my kid COMES BY IT HONESTLY.

I know some of you are thinking I shouldn't have done what I did next—which was to shove the little one into a coat and boots and pop her into the car with that swim bag. But we're missing next week's lesson and no one wins by having him sit on the sidelines.

Yes, he needs to suffer the consequences of his own mistakes, I get it. But the fact is, he's not lazy or defiant. He's absentminded. 

So if anyone has ideas or tips for a mother raising an absentminded son of an absentminded father, please send them my way. 

After throwing a swim bag over the heads of a mosh pit of parents and kids on a pool deck, and watching it land at the feet of two sheepish boys, I'm back home and ready to head into the kitchen with a fresh cup of coffee and my itunes (I discovered this song by a bluegrass singing Belgian group and it has been playing on repeat).

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I'll be making this soup and these muffins. I highly recommend both recipes.

Hope you're having a great weekend. 

xo

 

 

 

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