Category Archives: Recipes

Odds & Ends

Well hello! I had no intention of falling off the face of the blog world for almost a week, but I guess that’s what happens when chemotherapy knocks you on your ass. Apart from not blogging or photographing things, I’ve also not been keeping on top of my inbox (sorry to those who e-mailed me), hardly twittering, and only sometimes on Instagram. Netflix however, I’m all over.

I finished off my fifth round of chemo last Wednesday. One “round” of chemo consists of two “treatments” (ie sessions of IV drips in a chair in the chemo room at the hospital). Under my new COPP/ABV regimen, I start a round with the COPP treatment and a week of chemo pills, then after a week I’m back for a session of the ABV treatment. Then I get three weeks off before the whole thing starts again. The COPP drugs aren’t that bad, they just make be feel tired and crummy for an extended period of time. The ABV treatment, the one I got last week, however made me feel like absolute shit for at least 3 days straight. I become completely useless and just wish the days away.

Scored a stretcher in the chemo room last week!

Thankfully, I am starting to come through the other side and am happy to be facing two whole weeks of NO chemo! My next round, the sixth round, will hopefully be my LAST. The only bummer is that the ABV treatment falls on Dec. 21, so I will likely be hating the world come Christmas day. But I will take it if it means the end of this cancer debacle. I’m due for a PET scan once I’m through with chemo, then my treatment “team” will decide if I’m a good candidate for radiation. So far I’ve been told I am not because they would have to radiate over my left breast, which at 25 years of age puts me at a high risk for breast cancer in the future. However, it also depends on how agressive the cancer is at its original site. We shall see! I’m hoping I’ll be able to start working again part-time in the New Year.

Seeing as I’m coming off several days of being highly medicated, and you’re probably coming off a fantastical weekend (or very filling, if you’re American), here are some completely random topics to entertain you (and me) on this Monday:

1. Fellow blogger Abby, from Abby Has Issues, wrote a book. She is hilarious. You can read about how the book came about here. The best part is that proceeds from the book go to the Humane Society. So if you would like to save a kitten whilst being thoroughly entertained, you can buy the book on Amazon.

2. The other night, I was sitting in bed and Buster came up to snuggle on my lap, digging his face into my tummy. I always think of Buster as this poor helpless animal who needs me to survive. But in this moment it dawned on me that if Cesar Millan were to come into my house, he would probably say this dog is totally the boss of me and that Buster is probably the “pack leader” in this relationship. I bet Buster often thinks he is caring for me. And let’s face it, of the two of us, I’m probably the one more in need right now. So I am now convinced that when he waits outside the bathroom door for me it’s not because he misses me, but because he’s looking out for me. He knows I’m sick, and he’s got my back.

3. Speaking of pets here is a funny bit about them:

Stand-up comedy has become one of my most-watched genres since getting sick. Because it makes me laugh! I love that moment where I uncontrollably burst into laughter and for a second, I don’t feel sick at all. No depressing stuff allowed around here. Unless it’s cheesy drama from the 1990s, obviously.

4. I made these biscuits last week and they were really good.

I followed the layering technique and loved how you could just pull them apart. They turned out wonderfully fluffy despite having no buttermilk and being made with whole wheat. The high oven temp really led to them being crispy on the outside but still mega soft on the inside.

Excuse the iPhone photos. I had an issue with my DSLR and was feeling too sick to fix it. Cancer card yo.

5. It’s been a long while since I last did a music post. Here are five fun songs I’ve been listening to and are perfect to jumpstart a Monday (if you’re reading this in e-mail subscription, you may have to click out to view the videos):

Johnny B Rotten by The Monks

Sometimes I Cry by Tricky Woo (this whole album is ridiculously rockin)

To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High) by Ryan Adams (off another amazing album)

Fucking Boyfriend by The Bird and the Bee

The Letter by Joe Cocker (not the most “finessed” version of the song, but the video is worth it)

6. Last but not least, today I am going in for my third pulmonary function test in five months. The last time was to help diagnose the lung toxicity caused by chemo. This time will be to determine my lung capacity before I meet with the respirologist next week. I’m nervous! I hate having to blow through those tubes, and this time they’re going to make me get on a treadmill. I’m crossing my fingers that the damage to my lungs will be reversed, I know that my symptoms are already much better with the steroids I’m taking. I reallyreally hope the damage won’t hinder my ability to run when the cancer is gone!

Anyways, that is all she wrote. I should be back more regularly for the next couple of weeks. I’ve got a few recipes to share per usual!

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tamale Pie

I swear, I wasn’t going to post any pumpkin recipes this “season.” Mostly because I think it’s really overrated orange mush that people like to mask the flavour of with more complimentary flavours such as cinnamon and cloves.

We’ve talked about how it’s processed and in a can, right? Well, I’ve already contradicted myself once with an impromptu pumpkin cream cheese waffle posting, and today I’ll share with you why I had pumpkin hanging out in my fridge to begin with. Around these parts you can only get pumpkin in 28oz cans. That’s a lot of orange mush to be creative with.

I promise you, the next two recipes contain no cinnamon or cloves. This is pumpkin done savoury and edible!

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tamale Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 chipotle chiles, minced
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from chipotle can
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce (your favourite kind, I used plain)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn

For cornbread topping:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp molasses

Directions:

Brown beef in a large pan with onion, garlic, peppers, sweet potato, and spices. Add in sauce, beans, and corn, and let simmer for 30 mins.

While beef mixture is simmering, mix together the cornbread ingredients. You can separate the dry and wet, but I’m not picky. The pumpkin and juices from the filling usually keeps it from getting too dry from over-mixing anyways.

When the beef is done simmering, pour it into a 9×13 casserole dish and pour cornbread batter overtop. Bake in a 400F oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the cornbread clean.

I went for a pumpkin whole wheat cornbread to make it healthier, of course. I figured if there was ever a time to healthify cornbread, it would be when there’s ground beef involved. The hint of molasses and whole wheat not only gave it depth in taste, but colour as well! I also snuck sweet potato in there for extra vegetables, which offset the heat of the chipotle wonderfully. I’m currently not allowed to eat hard cheese, but I didn’t miss it all. Overall, a dish that is definitely worth cracking open a can of orange mush for!

Of course, using only one cup of it, I had some leftovers. I was determined to get meals out of them and not just spiced desserts.

Enter Pumpkin Focaccia. Pronounced foe-caw-chuh (for my friends from the ‘view).

I based my version off of this recipe and it was freakin fantastic. I made the following changes:

  • Left out cheese (again, not allowed, but I really want to try this recipe again with it!)
  • Added 1.5 tbsp of finely chopped fresh rosemary to the dough
  • Topped with roasted pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts

I made it into two small rectangular loaves. One of which my family pretty much inhaled straight out of the oven slathered in butter. The rest I enjoyed with my usual fried eggs and cream cheese in the morning.

I can’t be helped.

These are just some of the highlights of many great dishes from the last three chemo-free weeks. I had chemo #9 of 12 on Wednesday and am back in the chair for #10 next Wednesday. Needless to say, I’ll be dragging my heels and taking a lot more naps for the next little bit. I’ve been trying to teach Buster how to fetch things for me, but uh, he’s an easily distracted pup.

As soon as he brings it to me, he comes in for cuddles and completely forgets about the toy.

Thankfully, he’s a pro at lying around too.

If you have any interest in hearing my speak about what it’s been like living with cancer click here to listen to Part 1 of a radio interview I did. Part 2 should be posted on that website after 12pm Atlantic time today. Also, if you’re in my area, be sure to check out the CBC’s Tree of Hope fundraiser on Nov. 24 to help directly benefit cancer patients like me in Moncton.

Have a great weekend!

A Meatless Meal For Animal Lovers

I have always been an “animal person.” You know the type. The kind of person who grew up worshipping the family dog, who wanted to be a veterinarian as child, and who declared vegetarianism in some stance of teenage defiance.

Since becoming an “adult,” one of my top priorities has been to get a dog. The responsibility is something I never took lightly, so I continually put it off. I never had the money, the time, or the space. I wanted to move and travel too much. Even when I moved back home for good, I continued to put it off because I couldn’t find “the one.” The dog I wanted to spend the next 10+ years of my life with.

Well, we all know what happened. I got cancer and found myself with a lot of time to spend all by myself at home. Then one day I stumbled across the dog. During this dark time in my life, I suddenly have a bright light brought to me every day in the form of my new pet.

I love my little Buster Bartholomew to pieces. But a recent Globe and Mail article called “The problem with loving your dog too much” got me thinking.

I already frequently joke that I don’t want to be “one of those” dog owners. The type that posts pictures of their dog all the time (okay, I already do), the kind that talks about their quirks all the time (I do that too), or who constantly speaks to them in a high pitched voice (oh, dear…). Well, at least I didn’t dress Buster up for Halloween! Although, I secretly really wanted to put a King Charles crown on him.

The article got me thinking about how there are a lot of dog owners out there who don’t treat their dogs like… Dogs. It reminded me that not everyone is a head over heels dog person like I am, who will stop strangers on the street just to talk about the dog they’re walking.

But at the same time, it got me wondering, to what detriment is there to loving your dog too much?

Buster does more than just give me something other than myself to think about for once. He does more than keep me company all day, and keep me active by wagging his tail by the front door every afternoon. He doesn’t care that I’m sick. He isn’t nicer to me because of it, nor does he ask me how I’m feeling every hour.

So what if dogs are a children replacement? Because of chemotherapy there is a decent chance I will be infertile when all of this is over. Maybe loving and caring for a dog is the closest I’ll ever get to being a mom. Sounds a lot easier too.

The article, while a worthwhile read, unfortunately only skims the surface and doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter. There’s a decent conversation that opens up on the comments over how “dog people” should socialize with their dog-weary counterparts. Because lets face it, dog people and non-dog people really do exist, and there really is a difference between the two.

I guess the take home point would be that it’s good to remember that dogs are not people, nor can our relationships with them replace the ones we should have with humans. But at the same time, I admit that I have no shame in loving my dog a little too much sometimes. So what if I love him like maybe I could love a child? Or jump over hoops to keep him happy? It’s all because he keeps me just as, if not more happy. To me, it’s all worth it.

In honour of our animal friends I’ve got an incredible meatless meal to share with you today!

Chickpea Pot Pie with a Whole Grain Crust

I used this recipe, making the following changes:

  • 5 cups broth instead of 6
  • 3 cans of chickpeas instead of 1
  • omitted noodles
  • omitted parmesan cheese
  • made my own crust!

While there is nothing wrong with a little puff pastry, I really wanted to get nutritional value out of all components of this dish. I opted for a whole grain crust from this recipe, choosing that particular one simply because I’d had success with it before (using canola oil).

I just made the dough and flattened it out to the dimensions of a 9×11 baking dish, then let it chill in the fridge until I was ready to place it over top. As for the filling, I noticed that there was too much of it to put into one pot, so I ended up layering the frozen peas and beans with the hot contents in the dish to avoid having to switch to a larger pot and it worked perfectly.

The results were fantastic! I wholeheartedly recommend this recipe. I didn’t miss the chicken at all and thought the flavour and texture of the chickpeas blended in really well. I was also quite pleased by how the whole grain crust held up. Not quite the light pastry you’re used to, but definitely helped this meatless dish keep my belly satisfied for the remainder of the evening.

Now if only I could convince my puppy that he isn’t a human and his dinner is the crunchy stuff on the floor…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 486 other followers