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Banana Oatmeal Muffins

 

It’s easy enough to make these #glutenfree by using certified #glutenfree oats and oat flour in place of the oat bran.  With only three tablespoons each of honey and margarine, these are #lowsugar and #lowfat but full of goodness.

Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350F.

Whisk together in large bowl:

1 egg

3 T. margarine

3 T. melted honey

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix in:

1/2 c. mashed banana (about one large)

1/2 c. plain non-fat yogurt

Mix together in a separate bowl:

1 c. oat bran

1 c. oats

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 – 1/2 c. chopped nuts

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

After mixing dry ingredients thoroughly, add to wet ingredients and combine until just moistened.  Fill muffin cups about one-half full.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove from pan. Yield:  12 muffins

 

 

Tales of a Cat Wrangler

 A Frank and Personal Look into My Foray Into Project Management

Sometimes, people see more in you than you see in yourself. And, when fighting low self-esteem is a constant battle as it is for me, what someone with low self-esteem sees in oneself is almost always going to be less than what we’re really capable of, as my husband on occasion reminds me.

Recently I was asked to take on a slightly different role with the digital marketing agency I’m on contract with, in part because my “boss” was working full time and in part, I presume, because he saw I had the “chops” to do it. I was asked to become sort of a project manager/team lead to finish off a website for a mortgage broker. This involved co-ordinating the work of others as well editing and writing content, and sourcing free photos.

Putting on the big girl panties while at the same time, leaning in and feeling my apprehension at the prospect of this new role, I accepted the challenge. Typically, I’m more comfortable as a follower, not a leader. (It was also comforting to know my “boss” was always a phone call or text away.)

Naturally, there have been a few hiccups along the way, including the challenges of working with an international team, issues with the site itself, my lack of experience as a leader and knowledge on how much direction/guidance/communication/ to give.

My boss reminded me of the importance of:

  • to be available on a daily basis,
  • monitor the project daily, and
  • communicate, communicate, communicate

As a writer you’d think I’d know this last one but it wasn’t instinctive. One can’t just parachute in and give the directions, and then take a hands off approach thereafter. In my defence, I felt like if I prompted too much by checking in with the team as to how their various tasks were proceeding, I was hounding them. (We are all adults here.) However, I underestimated the value of being present for my team. Interestingly enough, the more I communicated and was present for them, the more was accomplished.

Project management quickly felt to me like herding cats. Check out this hilarious video produced by The Fallon Agency for computer giant EDS on herding cats:

Micheal Hyatt, in his article Project Management and Herding Cats makes the connection between project management and cat-herding:

  • Cats are solitary animals. They aren’t naturally part of a herd. People can be like that too (including myself). As leaders, mentioning the benefits of collaboration and getting more done collectively as a team is required. Otherwise, according to Hyatt, people are “lone rangers” and projects can start to unravel.
  • Cats are seemingly aloof. People can appear to be so as well. Leaders are needed to drive engagement about the project and get people on the team to buy in, and connect emotionally with the project.
  • Cats are easily distracted. Unfortunately so am I, especially since I work from home! (Possibly not the most stellar quality in a leader.) There are plenty of distractions everywhere for everyone. Leaders need the ability to keep others on their team focussed and on-task. (Oh look… squirrel.)

Hyatt emphasizes the importance of  leaders becoming who they need to be to their team, in order to model the behaviour to their team. If I’m distracted, and aloof (and, in taking more of a hands-off approach, this may have been the perception), I can, according to Hyatt, foster a culture of distraction and a lack of personal engagement to the project from the team.

In any event, the end is nigh. The website’s almost done and my role will likely then transition to providing content writing and social media on an ongoing basis for the site.

I’ve gained valuable experience in a short amount of time and learned a lot along the way, and I am exceedingly grateful for the opportunity, but I’m still not certain I’m a cat wrangler!

Brown Rice Vegetable Casserole

 

 

Adapted from a recipe in Country Woman magazine; I left out the soy sauce, onion and garlic because I’m sensitive to these.  This dish works well for a potluck.

3 cups chicken broth

1-1/2 cups uncooked brown rice

2 cups chopped onions, divided

3 T. soy sauce

2 T. butter or margarine, melted

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

4 cups chopped cauliflower

4 cups broccoli florets

2 medium red peppers, julienned

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 T. oil

1 cup salted cashew halves

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese, optional

In a greased 3 quart baking dish, combine broth, rice, 1 cup onion, soy sauce,  butter and thyme. Cover and bake at 350 for 65-70 minutes or until rice is tender. 

Meanwhile, in large skillet, saute cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, garlic and remaining onion in oil until crisp-tender; spoon over rice mixture. Cover and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with cashews and cheese, if desired. Bake 5-7 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 8-10 servings.
 This recipe can easily be halved. To save time and effort, and perhaps money given the cost of cauliflower these days, use frozen vegetables such as a broccoli/cauliflower blend.

Chicken Tagine with Vegetables, Dates and Honey

Yum!  Flavorful, yet not too spicy, Moroccan tagines are wonderful mix of meat, vegetables, dried fruit, honey and spices such as cinnamon, cumin, sage, and chili powder. I’m a bit sensitive to onion and garlic but if you’re not, one onion, chopped and two cloves of garlic, crushed, can also be added.

 

3 chicken breasts

1 small can diced tomates

1 pepper, chopped

2 c. baby carrots

1 c. dried dates, chopped

2 c. chicken broth

2 T. cinnamon

1 T. sage

1 – 2 T. curry spice blend

1/2 T. each cumin, chili powder and ground allspice

1 tsp. lemon pepper

2 T. honey

salt and pepper to taste

 

Cut up chicken breasts into chunks and place in large pan with a little oil. Brown over medium heat. Add remainder of ingredients except honey and cook over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes until breasts are cooked and vegetables are tender. Add honey. Serve with rice, couscous, or quinoa. About  4 servings.

Raspberry Dessert

Low in sugar, yet still delicious, this easy dessert is great for a potluck or work event.

2 cups graham crumbs

1/2 c. melted butter or margarine

4 cups raspberries (thawed if frozen)

1/4 c. sugar

3 – 4 T. cornstarch

1/4 c. water

Combine graham crumbs and melted margarine in a oblong pan. Combine raspberries, sugar, and water in small sauce pan, bring to a boil. Add cornstarch and stir until thickened. Pour over graham crumb mixture and place in refrigerator for several hours to chill. Don’t panic if it is quite runny prior to placing in the fridge; it will thicken as it chills. One package unflavored gelatin can be used in place of the cornstarch. Serve with whipped cream. Cuts into about 12 pieces,

Pork, Pepper and Papaya Stir Fry

I had two humongous leftover pork chops and decided to make a stir fry. I thought papaya would make an interesting addition and complement the other ingredients.  Turns out I was right! Flavorful pork stir fry. If not sensitive to fresh garlic or onion, these can be added as well.

Featured in the fall, 2016 edition of Food Bloggers of Canada’s over 25 quick and easy stir fry recipes: Quick & Easy Stir Fry

2 extra thick pork chops, pre-cooked, and sliced thin

2 peppers, seeded and chopped

4 carrots, peeled and diced

1 – 2 green onions, chopped

1 cup chicken broth

1 – 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly torn

2 cups frozen papaya chunks, thawed

2 tsp. Cajun mix spice blend

1 tsp. lemon pepper

1 T. tea masala spice blend

1/4 c. Kirkland Organic no-salt seasoning mix

Put the peppers and carrots in a bowl with water and cook a little bit in the microwave until they soften a bit. Combine pork, peppers, carrots, green onions, chicken broth and spices in a large frying pan. Mix well. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, thaw papaya chunks in microwave. Add papaya and spinach to pork-pepper mixture. Cook about 10 – 15 minutes more until vegetables are soft and spinach has wilted. About 3 – 4 servings.

To make this #glutenfree, serve with rice or quinoa and ensure chicken broth is gluten free.

Gluten Free Banana-Blueberry Muffins

Gluten free blueberry-banana muffins are made with ground almonds in place of flour.

 

Here, have a moist and tasty gluten free muffin!

2 cups raw almonds, finely ground

1/4 c. ground flax

1/2 c. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 T. cinnamon

1 ripe banana

2 large eggs

1/2 c. plain yogurt

1/4 c. water (can use 1/4 oil instead)

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 325F and grease a muffin tin. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. In another bowl, mash the banana until smooth then add the rest of the wet ingredients except the blueberries. Whisk well together. Transfer the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Spoon into muffin cups filling about half full. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes or so before removing. 12 muffins  Tip: Ensure the almonds are finely ground. My batter was a bit too runny as my almonds weren’t finely ground, so I added 1/2 c. oat bran to thicken (a gluten free flour could be added instead of the oat bran, if necessary, to thicken.)

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Smoky-Sweet Sauce

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulk/7327049962

Fall comfort food.

The cocoa powder and coffee in the sauce give the sauce a rich depth of flavour.

1 lb. pork tenderloin

1 small can tomato paste

1 small can of water

1 T. molasses

1 T. brown sugar

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. Mrs. Dash southwest chipotle spice mix

1 tsp. cumin

1 T. mustard

1 T. each instant coffee and cocoa powder

salt and pepper to taste

Place tenderloin in the slow cooker liner. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a small bowl combine tomato paste, water, molasses, brown sugar, paprika, the southwest chipotle spice mix, cumin and mustard and more salt and pepper if you wish. Spread over the tenderloin. Place slow cooker liner into the slow cooker. Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Shred the pork with a knife and fork after it is cooked (you can keep it in the slow cooker for this). Serve in buns, or over rice or quinoa. 4 -6 servings.