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Dilled Zucchini, Parisian Potatoes, Roasted Beet Salad with Feta & PineNuts & Salmon en Croute with Leek & Mustard Cream Sauce

I've created a monster!
Dr. Frankenstein

My favourite part of any holiday/special day is the lead up to the day. The anticipation and the planning. 

When I was a kid I started cutting out hearts for Valentine's Day... As soon as New Year's was over.

I sat in the library looking up the history of fashion and costumes for Halloween... the first week of September.

I would draw diagrams of the rec room and how the streamers would be hung for my birthday parties... when I was 9.

I started making paper cut outs with little flaps to stand them up, of highway fruit stands... 3 weeks before our summer vacation to BC.

OMG for Christmas I would write full musicals... with costumes/makeup/and props! I would make my Brother and Sister sing my original songs while my Cousins, Uncles, Aunts, Grandparents, Mom and Dad sat and watched. (I'm so sorry Family!)

So this is coming from a place of deep understanding.

Last week HBear reminded me that I promised her a sleepover when Papa went to Mexico. So on Friday she had 2 of her Besties over.

On Thursday night she was in full-blown MasterPlanner mode.

She got out of bed at 8:25... Can we watch a movie?

9:13... Can we play Twister Dance?

9:27... Can we make friendship bracelets?

9:46... What movie should we watch?

10:00... What time do we have to go to bed?

10:03... What time do we have to go to sleep?


I explained to her that to ensure a fabulous night, she HAD to get a good night sleep. I watched her as I said this and she was twisting her hands and shifting back and forth on the balls of her feet. Her eyes were darting all over the room. She looked like she had eaten a big bowl of Triple Chocolate Brownie ice cream and drank a big glass of Rootbeer!

When Ninja got home from bowling at 10:15 she was still up in her bed with her journal, writing what looked like a novel. When Ninja checked it out it was a list.

A list of steps. It was titled Playdate. There were 37 steps.

I get it.

I'm sorry.


Ninja tucked her in as she explained the steps of the playdate to make sure it was the PERFECT night.

Her gifted teacher has talked about this with us. We don't like to say terms like "practice makes perfect" we say "practice makes better". Nobody and nothing is perfect. Things happen.

It can rain on your wedding day. 

In a desert. 

In August.


She asked Ninja "Daddy have you ever had a feeling in your belly that is excitement and... I don't know... sadness?"

What do you mean?

"Like when you are excited but worried? Like what if my friends don't have fun? What if they don't like me or the things I have planned?"

He told her a story from his childhood that explained that exact feeling so he could relate to her. She finally went to sleep.

He came into our room shaking his head. He looked at me at said in awe "she is so damn self aware!"

On The Day...

Ninja picked them all up from school so they were here for dinner.

I had asked Honeybear what she would like for dinner a few days before? She quickly answered "homemade chicken noodle soup and an appy. You know like when Grandma and Grandpa come over and you put out a tray of food? Yeah, like that!"

Appies from MIL's birthday dinner
Chicken noodle soup? For Christmas HBear got an awesome chef's hat with her name embroidered on it. She also got kids chef knives and kids recipe book. I suggested we go through her cookbook and pick out a few recipes that her and her girlfriends could make together. She finally decided on fresh vegetables (she wanted steamed but I convinced her to go fresh) and Slam Dunk Cheese Sauce for an appy. They made the sauce when they got home from school.

From Better Home & Gardens NEW Jr. Cookbook

We decided that we would make individual pizzas and have all the toppings ready to go so everybody can make their own special pizza. The girls chose their own toppings for their pizzas.

HBear chose Monster Bash Frozen Yogurt Berry Parfaits for dessert, which the girls made themselves as well.

From Better Home & Gardens NEW Jr. Cookbook
We made a few changes to the recipe. We added gluten-free cake (instead of angel food cake) that I had made for dinner the other night for my gluten-free girlfriend. It was a great time btw!!! We had my favourite quinoa salad, my Caesar Salad and Sirloin Beef Kabobs, so good! anyways getting back to parfaits lol our other change was that we added Peek Frean Strawberry Cream Cookies instead of Oreos because they are just better :)

I still wasn't feeling the best so I was pretty low-key. I was there but quiet, so I could hear everything Mwahahaha. Those 3 girls blew my freaking mind! They were even polite to each other! They were crazy polite to Ninja and I as well.  There was not one argument, hurt feeling, pout, or blackmail LOL. 

They even played super well with SBean. In fact, for a while there she ran the show!

After the girls made their dessert and had their veggies and cheese dip appetizer, they made decoupage jewelry.

And then they played Pictionary, Twister Dance (I still have Teach Me How To Dougie stuck in my head!) and school. There was a LOT of school being played. I loved playing school when I was a kid too :)

One thing I very much noticed is the other 2 girls are the youngest in their families while HBear is the oldest. HBear, while extremely mature, seemed younger than the other 2. When she thought something was funny she was on repeat… actually they were all singing a song on repeat for the majority of the evening!

Yeaaahhhh that was awesome. 

I took SBean in for a bath while the girls got ready for a hot tub. They were even really well behaved in there. I let them have their space but stood off to the side to watch them, they are only 7 :)

Into pajamas! While we were outside Ninja put SBean down and got the livingroom set up for bed. By this time it was 8 PM and Ninja went to the garage to podcast and I laid out the overnight rules.

1. They could stay up but the noise level had to come down about 10 notches.

2. They had to pick a movie they all agreed on. Ninja made them popcorn. They chose Megamind.

3. They had until 9:30 and then they had to remain in their beds. They could stay up and talk but there was no more dancing, school, or running around.

Then I went to my bedroom. I kept the door open so I could hear them but for the most part I didn't have to go in there. SBean must've been very tired because she didn't wake up once!

By 10:20 I had to go in and say "Bed!" HBear was certainly not ready to go to sleep yet and another girl was on the same page as HBear. The other one was like "OK here's the deal… I'm really tired. I get up early. No matter what time I go to bed I get up early. That is your warning. Now let me go to sleep!"


At 4:00am I heard the whispering begin. They were up! I went into the living room and said "girls! The sun is still asleep and you should be too, you need to go to sleep for at least 2 more hours."

Not a chance. 

Ninja's Mom picked him up around 10:30 AM for a big presentation in front of all the directors of the BC Winter games. He left me with 3 girls and all their hair! I am not a good girly girl. I have trouble doing HBear's hair, you should have seen this one girl's thick, curly, gorgeous hair! I was jealous and intimidated all in one! I would have left it but they were all invited to another schoolmate's birthday party so I had to at least get ponytails in!

By 10:45 AM I had all 3 big girls strapped in their booster seats and SBean in her seat. We were on the road and off to pick up my MBesty's daughter (another one of HBear's Besties) for the party too. You should've seen the birthday girl's mom's face when we pulled up. It was like a clown van as all these kids, with their school backpacks, overnight gear, and birthday gifts spilled out.

HBear barely slept on Thursday. She slept for 5.5 hours on Friday. The sleepover, the birthday party... I have to say, it was a looooong rest of the weekend. I never thought I would be having the "if you want to party on a Friday night, you still have to get up and function and take care of your responsibilities for the rest of the weekend" conversation with my 7 year old daughter!!!  I had sleepovers EVERY weekend when I was a kid & teenager! How did my parents do it???

Last night before bed SBean said, "I had a fun time at the sleepover Mommy. I liked playing with all the girls."

Holy SHIT! It occurred to me... this was the 1st of MANY sleepovers and looooong weekends to come.

Serenity now!

A few weeks ago was my MIL's birthday. Ninja and I made her a dinner... for HER. She always cooks our favourite dishes. In fact, we all sat and debated what she even liked because nobody really knows. That is sad. That is being a Mom. So I picked some veggies that I thought she would like and we made salmon. I hate fish but I know she likes and it and rarely cooks it for herself. The whole meal turned out well except I didn't cook the beets long enough. Otherwise this was a pretty special dinner. PLUS we got it ready ahead of time so we could sit and have some appies, drinks and conversation :)

I am posting it now because I think this would be a great Valentine's Dinner for someone special. These recipes made enough for 6 but you could easily do this for 2 and wow your loved one!

This side dish is perfect right now. With veggies SO expensive, zucchini is the perfect pick! It is cheap, takes minutes to prepare and cook PLUS it tasted really great! 

Dilled Zucchini
Adapted from Fine Dinings

2 green zucchini, finely diced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried dill weed

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat melt butter, sauté diced zucchini with salt and pepper for 2 to 3 minutes or just until tender crisp.

Remove from heat, add dill weed and serve.

These potatoes are special because you take the time to melon ball them into cute little spheres that crisp up so well and stay light and  fluffy on the inside. You can make them ahead of time and keep them in cold water until you are ready to pan roast them.

Parisian Potatoes
Adapted from Fine Dinings

2-1/2 to 3 pounds potatoes, peeled (I used white)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
Parsley, chopped for garnish

Using a melon baller, make small potato balls, 5 to 7 are needed per person. They can be made in advance and kept in cold water.

Place balls in a saucepan covering them completely in cold water, bring to a boil then remove from heat, drain and pat dry. 

Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat, add the potato balls, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Stir the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking. Test for doneness with the tip of a sharp knife. Garnish potato balls with parsley and serve.

Another fantastic side dish! This is a different take on your basic salad. It looks beautiful and the flavours are great! It is perfect for Valentine's Day dinner.

Roasted Beet Salad with Feta & Pine Nuts

2 lbs. raw beets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard
1 fat clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
3 oz feta, crumbled
1/2 cup pine nuts, 
2 tablespoons chives, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400. 

Wash the beets, then wrap them in a double layer of aluminum foil.  Roast for 45-75 minutes, until your knife can slide easily through the biggest beet.

Unwrap and allow to cool until you can comfortably handle them (they should still be warm, though).

In a small bowl whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off using either your fingers or a knife, and cut each beet into 1/4-inch slices.

In a large bowl combine the warm beet slices and the vinaigrette, using your hands to gently massage everything together (use your hands so you don't break the beets. Use gloves if you have them.) 

Let stand at least 30 minutes for the flavours to mingle – preferably more like an hour or two.

Just before serving, taste the beets for seasoning – they might need a pinch of salt (though don’t overdo the salt since the feta is quite salty). Arrange the slices attractively on an platter, topped with the feta cheese, pine nuts and chives.

Wow Us Wednesdays #260


This dish is basically like Beef Wellington. Just without beef and with salmon :) I even tasted it and was pretty impressed... and I hate fish. Everyone else loved it. My Dad talked about it for days after lol. The sauce is the perfect match and again, this is a dish that can easily be prepared early and popped into the oven for your guest(s). Of course did we get a picture of the final beautiful product? Nope lol Everyone was too busy enjoying to take pictures. I hope you do too!
Salmon en Croute
Adapted from ifood tv

1 package basil
4 cloves garlic, separated
25g Asiago cheese
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 2 teaspoons
3/4 tub of cream cheese
1/2 bag spinach
1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
6 5oz fillets of salmon, skinned
1 tablespoon flour
1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed PC Brand has 2 sheets already rolled out so it works perfectly
2 egg yolks, beaten

Preheat oven to 400.

In Ultimate food chopper add basil and garlic. Pulse until smooth.

Pour 1/4 cup oil into the Chopper and blend.

Add Asiago cheese, pepper, and salt. Blend well.

In a mixing bowl, take cream cheese and pour basil mixture into it. Mix to combine. Pop it in refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes.

Place a frying pan on medium heat, pour oil, add onion and mushrooms and allow it to sweat for about 7 minutes.

Add garlic and spinach. Stir continuously and allow the spinach to cook. Remove spinach mixture from pan and transfer to a bowl. 

Let it cool.

Sprinkle flour on counter top, place pastry sheet and roll it thin. Cut into 6 equal pieces. Do the same with the second sheet.

Spoon some spinach in the middle of each piece. 

Top it with salmon and cheese basil mixture.

Add spinach mixture on top.

Season with pepper and top with another piece of pastry.

Line a baking sheet with foil (I used a silicone pyramid baking mat) gently place pastry on it. 

Brush yolks all over the pastry.

Put crosshatch marks. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.

Pop it in oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes. 

That's my ugly little chicken breast on the right side. I suck.
Remove from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Leek and Mustard Cream Sauce
Adapted from CBC

2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, finely chopped (white and light green parts only)
2 small shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 tablespoons chives, chopped

Heat saucepan over medium heat. 

Add butter. Add leeks, shallots, and garlic. 

Season with salt and pepper. 

Cook, stirring occasionally until leeks soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. 

Add white wine and cook until almost no liquid remains. 

Add cream, stock and mustard and cook until sauce thickens slightly, about 8 to 10 minutes. 

Taste and adjust for seasoning. 

Garnish with chives.

I feel bad for my MIL. She is the baker in the family. She usually makes all the cakes and the yummy desserts. I wanted to bake her a delicious, decadent, buttercream chocolate cake for her birthday!

I knew though that I was only fooling myself looking at all those ridonkulous Pinterest cakes.

The morning of dinner I went to the best bakery in town, Woudas... but it was closed!

I asked around and a friend suggested a new bistro, The Random Dish, that just opened up. I went in and asked if they would bake me a cake.

That I could pick up in 5 hours.

She said "I could do a Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Buttercream cake."

Ummmmm OK!  



MarilynsTreats February 13, 2016 at 11:19 AM  

This looks like a lot of fun! The food looks delicious. Pinned and tweeted. Thank you for sharing on #thursdayfavoritethings.

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