Oh lordy. How naive I was last month when I thought I was back on track with blogging! How quickly I forgot that these wee people need an abundance of attention from their mas and pas. However, here I am, after many attempts, writing again. I spent yesterday evening prepping meals for part of the week – it was a glorious feeling. I haven’t even thought about meal prep since Norah’s birth; as I’ve said before, it’s been a helluva lot of frozen pizzas and take out in this neck of the woods the past 5+ months. But Norah has been sleeping much better at night and has even graced us with some better napping throughout the day; so the heck with “sleep-when-the-baby-sleeps” my new motto in this household is “cook and eat when the baby is occupied with slumber!”
Since we’ve been eating so much junk, I’ve been attempting to eat “healthier” the past few months. We used to eat fairly balanced week-to-week prior to my pregnancy: lots of veggies and whole grains would compensate for fat-&-carb-&-alcohol laden indulgences. But the scales have been tipped on the indulgence side for quite a while; and I can’t seem to get back. I’ll admit (to probably a few skeptical readers) that I just recently joined Weight Watchers in order to “teach” myself some portion control again. Don’t worry though … this website isn’t going to undergo yet another change (after being gluten-free for over a year). The recipes here will continue to just be tasty dishes I want to share; whether they’re “healthy” or “indulgent.” Plus my plan is to only be part of the program for 3 months – I figure that should be enough time to get on track, plus summer will be here. And this girl wouldn’t consider tracking “points” when frosty beer season is upon us! (Finally I can drink real beer in the summer after going two without!)
I was motivated to join Weight Watchers mainly after seeing my sister-in-law have great success on the program after only a few weeks (check out her beauty-ful blog A Touch of Lush). She’s now been on Weight Watchers for almost 3 months, and she’s still enjoying it. I know she liked making things from the blog prior to starting WW, so I made up this recipe with her mind. It’s a tasty vegetable soup with a hint of umami flavour from roasting the squash. Plus, I would assume the soup would only be worth 1 or 2 points (from the beans and cheese), seeing that vegetables are worth 0 points. I could probably figure out the actual points and share; but like I said, this isn’t a blog about healthy eating. And don’t worry my regular readers: I’m just sending you a hint of where my current eating habits are right now. Next time I promise something dripping in butter.
Vegetable & Bean Soup with Roasted Squash
1 acorn squash
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
14 oz canned diced tomatoes
19 oz beans of your choice (I used mixed beans)
4-5 cups kale, chopped
parmesan, freshly grated
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Peel the squash and discard seeds. Cut into 1/2″ cubes. Toss the squash with 1 tsp each salt and pepper and 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Place onto a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion, carrots, celery and garlic for 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Add the stock, water and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the beans and kale; simmer soup for 30 minutes.
Add the squash to the soup and continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle.
Serve soup hot or warm with parmesan grated on top.
Makes 6-8 servings.
Here it is. The post that only took nearly 6 months to write. Ha. Looking back at the blog, I can see where the posts slowed down during my pregnancy due to nausea and exhaustion, which led to the reduction in my cooking; that and the fact that all I really wanted to eat was hotdogs and potato chips. And when Norah was first born, cooking was the furthest thing from my mind; hell, I would have forgot to eat if our family and friends didn’t feed us – so the posts just stopped all together. But in the past few months, we’ve started to get a grip on being parents to Norah, and I have thought of numerous recipe ideas, and I’ve even cooked up a few things and snapped a few photos along the way. However, each day that passed without actually writing and posting something felt like it brought more and more pressure to write the most amazing recipe and post of my life. Then I finally gave my head a shake and realized no one else really cares that much, and I’m just doing that “mom” guilt thing where nothing seems good enough (why on Earth is this a thing? Seriously, after some parenting-related meltdowns, I am stunned by what I thought was a big deal mere moments ago…). Needless to say, this isn’t some thoroughly thought out recipe that took me several attempts to get just right so that you could eat the most perfect thing I’ve ever shared. No, this is a recipe for something that is quick, that basically uses pantry ingredients, and is comforting; which is exactly perfect for us at this point in our lives. Hopefully you like it too.
Oh. And one more thing: I am no longer eating strictly Gluten Free. As I had touched on in Life of George, when we were trying for a baby and having some challenges, I had gone to a naturopath to see if there was anything she could recommend (since the medical field here in Canada does not do any investigating unless a couple has 3 miscarriages or has had difficulty conceiving for 1 full year). When she suggested that I may have an intolerance for gluten and that I should refrain from consuming it for at least one full year (or until after we had a baby) I was fairly upset by the news at the time, but the end result was obviously worth it! The naturopath mentioned that 1 of 3 things could happen in that timeframe: 1) after giving birth, the hormone changes may also change the way my body processes gluten, and therefore I could potentially eat it again without any issues; 2) just giving up gluten for at least one year and allowing my body to “heal” from the damages it had done may mean I could eat it again without any pain; or 3) I will always have an intolerance for gluten (or potentially Celiac Disease) and would never be able to eat it again. Luckily, after Norah was born, I have found I’ve been able to eat gluten without any cramping, headaches, or lethargy (okay…maybe I can’t really tell if it’s making me lethargic because I’ve been exhausted most days regardless…). So, I realize that the blog has been gluten free for over a year now, and that a number of you have started to follow the site because you are also living gluten free, but potentially there will now be recipes showing up that contain gluten. However, most dishes we make are easily adapted to be gluten free (such as this one I’m sharing today – just swap in your favourite GF pasta), and I’m sure there will continue to be many dishes that don’t contain gluten; so hopefully this will still be a site you can enjoy. But, if a bunch of you decide to jump ship and stop reading, no hard feelings. I have enjoyed discovering how to eat and enjoy food without devouring all my gluten-filled favourites, and I thank you all for joining me. Now it’s time for me to tuck into some real pasta…
Adapted from Tyler’s Ultimate by Tyler Florence
Tyler’s recipe for Carbonara doesn’t include mushrooms, but I am a sucker for mushrooms and bacon combined in a pasta dish, so they inevitably get included in my creamy carbonara, even it’s a a tad untraditional. Tyler’s recipe also includes whole eggs, not just the yolks like I have decided to use. But I can not bring my self to consciously eat raw egg whites other than maybe a 7 minute meringue. I’m sure people have snuck them into some Caesar dressing I’ve eaten, but it’s more the slimy texture I am afraid of, not the potential health risks. Feel free to use whole eggs if you’re so inclined.
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper
2 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp half & half cream
1/4 cup parmesan, freshly grated
1/2 lb linguine (or any pasta of your choice; clearly gluten free if you want this to be GF)
Prepare a pot of boiling, salted water and cook linguine according to directions. Save 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid before draining.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and onion, and cook until the onion has started to caramelize, about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with salt and pepper; continue cooking until mushrooms are soft and the bacon is cooked to your desired level of crispness (I like mine with a little bit of chew left in it), this will take another 5-6 minutes. While the bacon,onions, and mushrooms are cooking, place the egg yolks, cream and parmesan into a large serving bowl (one you’ll serve the past in) and whisk together. Pour the bacon, onion, and any cooking fat into the bowl with the egg mixture and stir to combine.
Add the reserved 1/4 cup of pasta cooking liquid and the cooked linguine to the bowl with the bacon and egg mixture. Toss everything together, then cover with a plate or pan for about 5 minutes until the pasta has set. Have a quick taste and add additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Well, in the 12 weeks that Norah has been in our lives, we have done little cooking and sleeping, but LOTS of cuddling and loving! I’ll be back (finally) with some recipes in 2014! Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and Holiday Season!
While I hate using excuses for neglecting the blog (and 2 months is a loooooong time to be away), I do think I have a rather good one this time around:
Welcome the new addition to our family: Norah Marion!
And no, she didn’t arrive in August/September when my absence started, but my pregnancy was starting to take a toll on my body again near the end, and I literally came home from work, ate, then passed out from exhaustion in front of the TV. Which meant 1) no time for blogging, and more importantly 2) I wasn’t doing any cooking/recipe developing! My amazing husband took on the cooking role most nights during the last months of the the pregnancy. And since the arrive of Ms. Norah on October 1st, our family and friends have been graciously feeding us so we can focus all our energy on our amazing little daughter.
This will be the only Norah-centred post on Gorging George, but if you want updates, head on over to Life of George.
I promise to be back soon once I return to the kitchen!