Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's vacation time!



Countdown to vacation time! We've got some last-minute errands to run tomorrow, including buying new luggage locks. I knew TSA broke off/lost one of my locks last time, but I just noticed they broke my other lock too. GRR!

I'm bringing the laptop, and hoping that somebody in my parents' condo has an open access port, but just in case, we'll be back in two weeks!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sour Cream Pound Cake

Here's another tasty treat, based on an Allrecipes.com recipe. My little one loves helping mommy put this Sour Cream Pound Cake together; which was even easier to do today with the help of our new stand mixer. In my version, I've lowered the baking temperature, and experimented with Agave nectar, instead of white sugar. If you've never tried Agave, it's like maple syrup, but from a cactus type of plant. Use it anywhere you would use sugar. As it is sweeter than sugar, you end up using less, and it also has a lower glycemic index. This is my standard sweetener for teas, coffees, and many times when I cook and bake. Agave has many healthful benefits, aside from being a great, all-natural sweetener.

Unfortunately, I had a disaster today, trying to use a silicone baking pan, with six mini bundt cake forms built in. This is the second time this pan has ruined a recipe during baking. I'm having to pry chunks of cake out of the pan. I'm guessing it's because the silicone doesn't properly transfer heat, like metal. So much for having six mini cakes to pack in my suitcase as treats for our upcoming trip. I'll just have to do some baking at mom and dad's. As for the silicone baking pan, I think I can still use it for cold things, like as a Jell-O mold. I still love my silicone cookie sheet, however. Just no more formed pans!

Anyway, the chunks taste delicious, and the princess is snacking away. She couldn't wait for the cakes to come out. Here is the recipe:
1.5 cups AP flour
1.5 cups white sugar (or 1 cup dark amber agave nectar)
0.5 cup butter (room temperature)
0.5 cup sour cream (cold)
3 large eggs (room temperature)
1 pinch baking soda
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour a 4x8" metal loaf pan.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sour cream with electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add sugar/Agave and continue mixing. Add the vanilla. Incorporate the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the flour and baking soda. When combined, pour into prepared loaf pan.

Bake for approximately one hour (do toothpick test).


Enjoy :)


We order organic Agave nectar by the case from Amazon.com's Subscribe & Save program, which takes an additional 15% off, and you get free shipping:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Slow Cooker French Dip Roast Beef Sandwiches

Thanks again to Allrecipes.com for another great dinner. Tonight we had Easy Slow Cooker French Dip roast beef sandwiches, served on our new family staple of Soft Sour Cream Sandwich Rolls.

The recipe is so simple. In your slow cooker, put in the following:

1 four-pound rump roast
1 can of condensed French Onion soup
1 can of beef broth (I am a devotee of Better Than Bullion Beef Base
jarred concentrated meat flavorings. I used one tsp of Better Than Bullion and 1 cup of hot water)
1 bottle of beer (we used Heineken)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Black pepper to taste

Let all this simmer away, on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Remove the roast from the cooking liquid and let it rest before slicing. I then returned the sliced meat to the cooking liquid, and served the meat straight out of the slow cooker, dripping with yummy juices, on the freshly baked rolls (no butter needed for these rolls). Serve more dipping sauce on the side.


We have plenty left over. Who's coming over? :)

Contest: ENDS SAT 5PM! Enter to win $1,000 and 6 months of free eggs from Eggland’s Best!


I've just stumbled upon BlogHer.org. What a great site! I'll be putting up a button link soon!

Just wanted to share this great contest. Enter to win $1000, plus 6-months worth of Eggland's Best eggs. We are big fans of Eggland's organic eggs in this house.

Hurry, as this contest ends tomorrow at 5pm! Good luck :)

Easy Chicken Pie

Dinner last night was yummy Chicken Pie, made from leftovers from our Fall-Off-The-Bone Roast Chicken the other day. It's a simple, but delicious recipe!
2 frozen pre-made pie crusts, slightly thawed until pliable
2 cups shredded roast chicken
2 cups frozen vegetables (use any combination of your favorites)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 400F. Separate one of the pie shells from its foil plate. If it starts to tear, simply ball up the dough, and roll it out into a circle again yourself. (A common problem for me, as even in Spring, it's too warm on this island to properly handle pie crust.)

In a dutch oven, sautée mushrooms. Add frozen vegetables, cooking until they are heated through. Stir in milk, cream soup, and dried herbs. Reduce heat and continue stirring for 1 minute. Add shredded chicken and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon pie filling into the other pie shell, and top with the loose pie dough circle. Pinch the edges. With the point of a paring knife, pierce the top of the pie a few times to create holes for steam to escape. Feel free to get a little creative with your designs.

Bake for about 18 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our little organic garden


Ever since we moved into this house, I've been wanting to somehow make use of the raised garden bed in the backyard. There were some aloe plants and mini pineapples growing in there, until the entire island was flooded by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. After that, much of the island's vegetation was damaged and lost, and when that bed recovered, the aloe just took over.

Well, the time was finally right. Spring is here, and we've been trying to include more organic produce in our diets. Our favorite grocery store is starting to carry more, but most often, the prices can be prohibitive. Why not then start our own garden?

I stopped at Home Depot today and picked up some fresh garden soil, and a few seedlings to get us started. Here's Kaylee, showing us the strawberries, orange bell pepper, Japanese eggplant, red- and yellow-variety cherry tomatoes, zucchini, romaine lettuce, basil, and curly parsley :)


This house also had a compost bin when we moved in, and I think it would partner up great with this new little garden :) Curious George taught Kaylee how to compost the other day, so let's do some composting together too!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fall-Off-the-Bone Roast Chicken

Dinner tonight is roast chicken! This is definitely one to get excited about. I took elements from a few recipes, including this one and also this one from Allrecipes.com. I made this chicken last week, and it was so good, nobody was talking at the dinner table. I made a gravy of the pan juices, too. I admit, I ended up with a higher ratio of gravy vs. potatoes on my plate. Since this poor Canadian girl can't get Swiss Chalet down here, this is my second favorite roast chicken:

1 whole chicken (3-4 pounds), rinsed, and dried with paper towel
2 tbsp margarine or softened butter
2 tbsp of your favorite roast chicken seasoning (we have in our pantry Emeril's Chicken Rub, McCormick Montreal Chicken, and McCormick Roast Chicken & Garlic)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (thank you to my little herb garden)
1 small onion, quartered

Stuff chicken with rosemary and quartered onion. Blend together the margarine/butter with the chicken seasoning. Rub mixture on chicken. Place the chicken on a roasting rack, with 1/2" cold water in the pan. Roast at 250F for about 4 hours, or until juices run clear. Check on roasting pan intermittently, and add more water as needed. Be careful not to add too much, as the skin on the bottom of the bird will not get crispy if wet.

When chicken is cooked through, let it stand for about 15 minutes before carving. In the meantime, prepare the gravy:

Remove the rack from the roasting pan, and reduce the pan juices on the stovetop. In a sauce pan, prepare a roux. Whisk in the reduced pan juices to the roux to make the gravy. Add Lea & Perrins Worcestershire for Chicken, salt and pepper to taste. Serve gravy with the chicken and mashed potatoes (or in my case, serve chicken and mashed potatoes with the gravy).

After tasting this, you'll never go back to your old ways of roasting chicken. Except you may want to try our Version 2.0 of this recipe, roasted on the grill, beer-can style :)

Product Reviews: L. L. Bean


We're getting ready for our vacation! At this time next week, we'll be halfway to Vancouver.

My parents, cousins, and favorite aunt are very excited and can't wait to see how big Miss Kaylee has gotten. She's definitely big enough to want to carry her own purse/bag whenever we go out anywhere. As a surprise, she has a pretty red junior backpack, filled with special things for the plane rides. We have a couple new jackets, including a new Comfort Fleece hooded jacket for Mommy. We really are big fans of L. L. Bean products. They are well-made, and the company listens to its customers, and takes their input into account in the designs and construction. Check the site early Thursday mornings for extra special sales. I've scored some very good deals on high quality merchandise in their sale section. Please click here to read my L. L. Bean product reviews :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chinese Barbecue Sauce & BBQ Pork Buns - Char Siu Bao

Being in the Florida Keys has its perks, but I MISS AUTHENTIC CHINESE FOOD!!

Yes, we're off to our annual trip to see my parents in Vancouver next week, but I couldn't wait any longer for my favorite Chinese BBQ Pork buns!! I was up till very late last night, and still couldn't find a recipe that sounded right. That's when I made my own, using the very limited Asian ingredients available at our little island grocery stores, and surprisingly it turned out pretty well!! Here it is!

1/2 cup hot water
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp Hoisin sauce
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp spicy black bean paste
1 tbsp corn starch, plus 3 tbsp cold water
2 tsp plum sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp dried minced onion
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cloves minced garlic

Make a slurry of the corn starch and cold water; set aside. Heat remaining ingredients in nonstick sauce pan over medium heat for five minutes, stirring to prevent sugars from burning. Whisk in corn starch slurry, and turn off heat, while continuing to whisk.


I had some leftover roasted garlic pork loin, which I minced and reheated in this sauce. I served this on the Soft Sour Cream Rolls that we made yesterday. Tasted great!! Next time I make my rolls, I'll try putting some of this pork filling inside before baking.

Pork loin is often on sale at our grocery store, and DH loves the way I make it. I usually stock up on a few extra, and my secret is to season them up before I freeze them, so they have even more time to marinate while thawing. My recipe is simply to place the pork loins on a cookie sheet, pat dry with paper towels, rub each with extra virgin olive oil (Zoe brand is our favorite and kitchen staple), then liberally season each loin with Montreal Chicken seasoning. Yes, Montreal Chicken. It has plenty of garlic, which DH loves. Wrap each loin in parchment paper, and place in freezer bags. Then thaw in the refrigerator when ready to use. Roast at 350F for about an hour, or until the juices in the pan run clear. Let rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.

If you aren't freezing the pork loins ahead of time, allow at least 24 hours of marinating in the fridge before roasting.

Enjoy! :)

We order Zoe Extra Virgin Olive Oil by the case from Amazon.com's Subscribe & Save program, which takes an additional 15% off, and you get free shipping:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Soft Sour Cream Sandwich Rolls

Many thanks to Rachelle for linking this recipe for Soft Yogurt Sandwich Rolls. We were out of plain yogurt this week, but had plenty of fresh sour cream. That's what we used instead, and the rolls turned out just fantastic.

Here's the little kitchen helper herself:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My new birthday stand mixer!


Many thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes. Thank you to my old boss, and second mom, for her very generous gift card to Lands' End/Sears.

I happened to stop by Sears today, and what a deal!! They are clearing out their Sunbeam "Heritage Collection" stand mixers! $149, down to $59.96. I used my birthday gift card, and I am now the proud owner of a stand mixer! WOOHOO :)

I don't do a lot of baking, but enough that I've always wanted a stand mixer. This one is great! 450 watts of power, compared to the 300 watts of the $299 Kitchen Aid in the store. It came with a large mixing bowl (shown in the picture), a smaller one, dough hooks, and two sets of beaters (one for light duty, one for heavy duty). It seems very sturdy, and I know it will serve us well. We're getting ready to use it for the first time, and whip up a batch of Best Chocolate Chip Cookies :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Product Review: Keen Shoes - Bali Sandals

I have so much trouble finding shoes that fit right. I've always wanted a pair of ballet flats, but never have I found a pair that would accommodate my wide toes. It's just my toes that are wide, and I'm also an exact 8.5 (big feet for an Asian girl). Half-sizes are usually very hard to come by, and an 8 is always too small, and a 9 generally too big.

Welcome to Keen! Keen makes awesome shoes!! I fell in love with these Keen Bali sandals last year, and they are my new favorite! A great alternative to flip-flops, which are a necessity here in the Florida Keys; these Keens have rugged soles and traction, arch support, and my toes stay well-protected from stubs and falling coconuts (not that I've ever had a coconut fall on me... knock on wood).

Keen also uses eco-friendly manufacturing processes, including the use of recycled rubber and other components. I've since purchased a Keen messenger bag, with a rubberized bottom, made from the leftover scrap rubber from making shoes, and metal clasps and loops, made from scrap recycled aluminum.

Back to the ballet flats dilemma, I found these Keen Madrid Ballerina shoes at LLBean.com. BTW, if you are a fan of L.L. Bean, I highly recommend signing up for their visa card. Aside from $10 rewards certificates, good for L.L. Bean merchandise, for the dollars you charge to your card anywhere, you also get free shipping (including return shipping), and free monogramming! I applied two $10 rewards certificates to these shoes, and right now, L.L. Bean is also having another promo, giving me another $10 gift certificate that I can spend on a future purchase. Bonus :)

I can't wait for my new shoes!! They'll be perfect for our upcoming trip to Vancouver. It's time for our annual trip to Grandma and Grandpa's, and this time, we're having a little reunion with some much-missed family members. Yes, family that we really do want to see and spend time with ;) These shoes will be great for getting through airport security, and for our walks through beautiful British Columbia :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Coleslaw was a hit!

The coleslaw was a hit! Once all the ingredients came together and had time to mingle, all the flavors were just right :) Kaylee and DH shared three big bowls each!

The recipe was based on this:

Sweet Restaurant Slaw

I made a few changes:

First, instead of a bag of prepared coleslaw mix, I had a whole head of cabbage, a couple handfuls of organic baby cut carrots, and a small onion; all of which went through the food processor to "KFC" slaw sized bits.

Instead of Miracle Whip, I used Hellman's mayo. I also added both white vinegar, and Basil & Oregano rice vinegar.

One missing ingredient which I came across in another online version of KFC slaw was tarragon vinegar. Tarragon seems to be the magic ingredient. I knew I'd find some other use for that dried tarragon in my pantry, other than Bearnaise sauce ;)

So, one head of cabbage, a couple handfuls of carrots, one small onion, all finely chopped, added to a blend of mayo, canola oil, white and rice vinegar, white sugar, salt, and a sprinkle of dried tarragon. And voila!! I had a giant Ziploc container full, and the whole batch cost less than a dollar to make.

Will post a couple more recipes tomorrow :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blog Disclosure Policy

This policy is valid from 18 October 2009

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact  faye [at] green organic mama .com.

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This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

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Welcome to our family blog

Tada! Our first family blog. I've never done this before. Thanks to Jenn for inspiring this creation ;)

My keyboard appears to be on its last legs, so I may be jumping onto the laptop sometime soon.

I've attempted a homemade version of KFC's coleslaw. I can already tell I went a little onion-crazy. It's marinating in the fridge. Let's see how it turns out :)

About Me

Welcome, everyone, to GreenOrganicMama.com!

My name is Faye, and I'm a Canadian-born Chinese mommy, now living on a tropical island in the Florida Keys, with my husband and our beautiful half-Chinese five-year-old daughter. I grew up in Southern Ontario, with a HUGE extended family. Thank goodness for e-mail and Facebook for keeping in touch :)

I've always loved to cook, shop, and play with computers. I'm very fortunate to be married to a fellow gadget geek, who also understands the importance of making smarter choices for our family, our island community, and our world.  We choose sustainable, biodegradable, recyclable, and chemical-free products whenever possible, and we're always happy to share our favorite picks.

We love pairing up with like-minded businesses who also care about our Planet Earth.  Please feel free to contact me at Faye [at] Green Organic Mama.com, and we'd be happy to consider adding a review of your green, organic, and eco-friendly product to our blog, to share with our fellow green bloggers :)

I've also taken my blogging into the tech world.  Please check out my newest blog: TechnoMommy.com.  There, I indulge in my geeky side; especially when it comes to my favorite mom-friendly mobile apps and gadgets.

We'd like to extend a big thank you to the following companies who have partnered with us; providing us with free sample products to review, in addition to any of the following: free products as giveaway prizes, coupons, online discount codes, product information pamphlets, small promotional gifts (pens, notepads, stickers, etc):

 


 
No monetary compensation has been received for any of the reviews on this blog.  I want to offer my honest opinion to fellow parents, as I appreciate the same when it comes to making smarter choices for my family.









 
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