Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Chocolate Brownie-Cake Caramel Almond Crunch

This week I am enjoying a ridiculously busy but truly satisfying holiday break with my three children. They are 7, 5 and 2 years old. We are practicing giving without receiving for the pure purpose of giving love. Yesterday we spent the day baking away and dropping off Stealthy Elves gifts. To see my kids taking turn in the rain sprinting to doorsteps to leave packages as little surprises for unsuspecting friends (of their choosing) filled my heart. They were so very excited and hoped they made everyone happy. There was little handwritten notes in each one my two older kids wrote "Love, Vaino Elves". 

Today these little munchkins took on a new task. I asked them to create a recipe. Whatever they wanted, but together. Of course immediately they all agreed it had to be chocolate! And the creation continued evolving as I asked them what else a good recipe has in it. Of course I offered guidance on quantities of each item but I asked them first if they thought we needed lots or a little. I can honestly say, these kids know how to bake! Mad skillz. So here for your enjoyment is an incredibly decadent dessert. Only eat this on a day when you refuse to allow guilt into your eating choices. Or you just want some hella good comfort food;)

Chocolate Brownie-Cake Caramel Almond Crunch

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. 


Brownie-Cake portion
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14oz) coconut cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 eggs
2 tbsp butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Almond Topping
1 cup almonds
1 cup white chocolate chips

Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup half and half
2 tbsp butter
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Begin with a saucepan heated to low-medium heat. Melt your semisweet chocolate chips and coconut cream until blended completely. Add your butter and stir until dissolved. Add in brown sugar and vanilla. Take off heat and allow to cool. In a kitchen machine whisk your 5 eggs until slightly frothy. In a separate bowl sift your flour, salt and baking powder. Once the chocolate sauce mix is cool enough to not cook the eggs add in the sauce with eggs, stir until combined, slowly add in your dry mixture and blend until smooth. It should be right between the thickness of a cake and a brownie batter. 
In a food processor add your almonds and white chocolate chips and blend until desired size. Ours was not as fine as almond meal, we wanted a bit of chunkiness. Sprinkle this all over the top of your brownie-cake.
Butter a 9x13 glass pan, pour in batter and cook on your low rack at 350 F for 25-30 minutes. Take it out when your knife test shows just a little bit of batter on it. You want it nice and moist but not undercooked. 
Once your brownie-cake is finished allow it to cool while you prepare your caramel sauce.
 In a sauce pan add in butter, brown sugar and half and half. Cook on medium to low heat until dissolved, whisking the entire time. It will start to get a little bubbly around 5 minutes then add in your vanilla extract and salt. I keep whisking until it thickens up, just a few more minutes then remove from heat and drizzle over top of your brown-cake and serve right away while warm or even add some vanilla ice-cream if you so choose. Enjoy and Happy Holidays from my kickass baking geniuses!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

To my burnt out Mama friends and those who love them.

It is extremely difficult to remove the guise that we can do it all. Even if we sometimes express how tired we are or unappreciated, we just keep going. But then one day we don't. We burn out. However it manifests itself...through mood fluctuations, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, overeating, under eating, all of the above. Or sometimes it's simple that you can no longer smile a real smile. 

How often I see posts (or post something myself) about how I can not do this anymore. I am waving the white flag. I am done. DONE. And the responses are kind...."I hear you", "I'm having a hard time too", "It get's better, hang in there." and let me add, these are wonderful things to say. I am not considering this wrong. It's just all we really know. Unless its your closest friend and they know exactly what you need, most people just do not know how to help someone.

I have been experiencing one of my worst bipolar fluctuations since being post-partum years ago. So I have felt like a failure as a mother. I have had days I couldn't even pretend to like my children's drawings they so eagerly wanted to share. I couldn't go to the store because I would have to interact with someone even for a minute. I yell, I cry...and I cry some more. I feel such embarrassment and I just wish someone, anyone could help. But you know what, I don't want to ask you. I am past that point. And even if someone says, "Hey let me know if you ever need some help" well where do I begin. First off can you talk to my children, maybe give them some positive energy because I am out. Can you bring me dinner because making kraft dinner is beyond exhausting. Can you not call me to 'talk' so I have to make you feel better that I am sad? Again, this isn't saying that offering help is wrong, its just that it's so hard to ask, really.

So here are things I wish people would do for me when I need help but can't find the courage to ask:

Text and ask what time dinner is and that you will bring something by. Don't knock, just drop it off. 

Text what time they can come grab a kid, or two, or three. 

Offer that you can chat but if a bottle of wine is better, it will be waiting at their doorstep. If they say they are too tired to chat and don't worry about the wine, bring the wine anyways.

See what time school is out, just pick up and drop off a kid. 

Tell them you love them.

Text them you can come by and give a back massage. 

Tell them you are at the store and what do they need.

Leave a flower, or note, or cookies at the door. 

Send a note you love them.

Offer them a girls getaway, even for a night, or afternoon, or a pretend one once kids go to bed.

Offer to whisk them off to yoga (totally impartial here).

Bring them to bootcamp. Sometimes we need a kick out the door!

Check in on them, just a note you are thinking about them.

Do you see what I am saying. Its the proactive approach. Because when you are so exhausted and without joy it can be painful to have to face someone...because they might see your pain. And some people want to talk while others don't. What I need is not what others need, but this is food for thought. In the society we live in, we are left so alone in a sea of people. But once you begin to accept the help, and offer it in return, the more supported you are. And when you feel supported and have the tools to maneuver this daunting task of motherhood, the more likely you can move away from burn outs. We all need so much love.

I am thankful to say that recently I have found more and more support through my willingness to open up even during the darkness. But when you feel good you forget how hard it all can be sometimes. So today as I enjoy the hours of happiness and relief, I wanted to help others understand maybe just a little. 

I am leaving space here. To the mothers, or struggling souls who have other suggestions I will add anything you like. Say what you need. It will come to you when you need it.

Space for you.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Panko crusted turkey meatballs and beet pomagranate salad

These turkey meatballs are very quick to make and they are great to freeze for quick meals. Give them a try!

1lb ground turkey
diced green onion
diced hot peppers of choice
1 egg
2 tbsp soy sauce
1tsp salt
1tsp pepper
(optional add fresh or powdered garlic)
Panko break crumbs
olive oil
In a bowl whisk together green onion, hot peppers, soy sauce, egg, salt and pepper. Once blended add in turkey and mix well. Add in 1-2 cups panko bread crumbs. You want enough so it drys your meat up a bit and helps keep the mixture together. Once mixed heat a pan on medium with olive oil in the bottom. Place 1-2 cups panko breadcrumbs in a bowl. Roll small amounts of mixture into a ball and roll in your breadcrumb until covered then place in heated pan. You can load up your pan and you will notice your turkey balls soak up a lot of oil so you will continue adding oil as they cook so they stay crisp. Flip them once they are medium/dark brown on the bottom. Squish them down a bit after flipping. Once cooked try not to devour them all before sharing with your family. I speak from experience. 


Chopped beets, mixed greens, pomegranate seeds, tomato, feta cheese and Italian dressing.

Bonne appetite!

Jambalaya Katie Style

Canadian Thanksgiving was a wonderful evening of listening to the family discuss what we are all thankful for. Having a 6, 5 and 2 year old tell us what they are thankful for is ridiculously adorable. Such sweet moments. 

For dinner we went super traditional...oh wait. No. We didn't.

This Jambalaya recipe is something I through together and though I am not a recipe follower I do recall what I through in. If you are wild and free just toss this recipe together as I did. A dash of this and that, your set!

16 Prawns
1lb chicken tenderloin 
5 Turkey sausages (spicy)
2 green peppers
1-2 hot red peppers
1 jalapeno
1 onion (white or yellow)
1 can tomato sauce, ideally pretty plain.
Jerk spice
celery salt

Cook your turkey sausage in advance. Cook chicken in cubes until almost cooked through, then set aside.
Chop your onion and cook in saucepan until clear, add in chopped jalapeƱos and hot peppers and cook until fragrant on medium. Add tomato sauce (I use hunts traditional in the big can, I am fancy like that). Add in your salt, pepper, jerk spice and celery salt. Add in your chicken and chopped up turkey sausage and green pepper. Once that has cooked for 2-3 minutes add in your prawns. Once they are cooked through serve immediately and enjoy the flavor sensation. Joy. 

Rainbow food

I have been enjoying the joys of shopping at the famers market again. It was tough for a few years with three very little children but now I am so lucky to have moments with just 1 again, and it takes me back in time. So my littlest and I go explore the food and his little grubby hands reach for all the beautiful veggies and fruits. Its pretty amazing. And of course I must chase him around before we leave while lugging all my food. Pretty great. So here are some of my recent meals that inspire me to create a rainbow effect. Joy in my eyes, joy in my belly, joy in my heart. 

Beets, basil, heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, avocado, red pepper and champagne vinaigrette. 

Cashews, pomegranate seeds, red peppers, basil, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette. 


Poached eggs, paprika, franks hot sauce, mixed lettuces, tomatoes, avocado, cashews.

Friday, October 16, 2015

It's not my fault.

How often do we find ourselves looking for a way to blame ourselves. Yes taking ownership for your own actions and their outcomes is important...but what I am discussing goes beyond that. We have this need to place our ego onto things where it has no place, no home. For example we blame ourselves for the way people feel. I don't want them to feel bad so I won't say that. Spoiler alert, its not your fault. We certainly can be aware of our words, but when you speak from a place of love and non-voilence or ahimsa, we can only take ownership for our own feelings. To the receiver of the information, it is their choice how they want to interpret. This is just one example, however today I am navigating my physical body. Perhaps it is not my fault. I struggle with accepting this. Do not get me wrong, that doesn't mean I am going to run out and eat a donut, because I know I will then feel awful. I know how food effects the way I feel and there is no doubt I can ease my pain through proper nutrition. But I heard a whisper of a thought last night. Katie. What if it's not your fault. Can you let go of blame? Can you let go of shame? Trust me I have enough of a nasty storm in there without this hassle :) I refuse to dismiss my body speaking to me. I am blessed with strength and love around me...and talk about ahimsa as I put my beliefs onto the people around me. Telling myself they are judging me? Who does that serve? I certainly don't feel good about it. So here we are again my sweet little non-violent friend. It is not my fault. Today I am letting go of blame and shame. I can only hope that I will have answers one day, but in the meantime I will continue on in my own badass way.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Green Smoothie Heaven

Green Smoothie Heaven

I have started really enjoying super green smoothies. I can honestly say I do not love salads lately. I get annoyed thinking about eating them. Realistically this is just a little short term thing but in the meantime I am fulfilling my green food dosages by loading up smoothies with heavenly delight. 

3 cups spinach
1 banana
1 carrot
1 tbsp kale powder
1 tbsp peanut powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup almond milk
3-4 mint leaves

I keep forgetting to add avocado but I am not feeling too badly about it. Try this out and enjoy!