Saturday, 30 June 2012

Timbit Ice Cream Sandwiches & A Birthday


How are you planning on celebrating Canada's 145th birthday?  Perhaps you will be indulging in some of the best food known to man and our beloved country.  Here are my top picks when it comes to Canadian favourites:
  1. Maple Syrup
  2. Nanaimo Bars
  3. Smarties/Coffee Crisp
  4. Timbits
  5. Poutine
  6. Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwiches
  7. Caesars
  8. Butter Tarts
Let the celebrations begin...


Timbit Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ingredients:
Timbits
Ice Cream

Method:
Halve Timbits.  Scoop a small amount of ice cream and sandwich in between halves.
Enjoy!


It doesn't get more patriotic than this.  Tim Hortons & Butter Tart Ice Cream.  Happy Birthday Weekend Canada!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Thursday Date Night

I seem to be going on my fair share of date nights as of late.   Much to the dismay of my husband, not all are with him, and last night was no exception.  I left J @ home and opted to take out a younger, cuter girlfriend, "S."   Not too worry, I let J pick up the cheque, I always find ways to include him.  I'm thoughtful like that.

Thursday date night took place @ Ox & Angela on 17th.  'S' and I had both heard amazing reviews about this place and had been looking forward to trying it.  Actually, we have both been drooling over the menu for the last week, and true to form, it didn't disappoint.  Tapas & Wine = Food Satisfaction.

Thanks for the date 'S,'  I think you and I are food & TV sole mates.  Perhaps our next date will consist of sushi take out, and a Real Houswives marathon.







Pan Con Tomate |  grilled sourdough rubbed with fresh tomato, garlic, extra virgin olive oil

Clams |  chorizo, smoked paprika, tomato, white wine, parsley, toasted panko.  
served with grilled sourdough

Asparagus |  grilled asparagus, soft poached egg, manchego, citrus, truffle

Paella Mixta |  chorizo, clams, chicken, white prawns, peas, pimenton, saffron rice

Patatas Bravas |  smoked paprika ketchup, aioli

Chocolate |  milk chocolate terrine, pistachio, sea salt
Tarta de Santiago |  orange and almond cake, icinig sugar, grapes



Our Favourites:

  • Patatas Bravas
  • Asparagus
  • Chocolate
  • Tarta de Santiago




Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Breakfast Couscous


Today I'm granting oatmeal the day off.  I wonder what he'll do with himself?

Normally if I'm not eating oatmeal, I'm having pancakes.  However since I'm about to embark on 16 days of free pancake breakfasts (oh I love July) courtesy of the Stampede, my jeans and I think it's best if we hold off on the pancakes (for now.)
Instead, I'm having couscous.  Pretty much oatmeal, but not oatmeal.  I guess I'm sort of cheating...
Happy Morning!



Breakfast Couscous w/ Grapes & Pecans

Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp brown sugar
1/3 cup grapes, halved
1 Tbsp pecans,  chopped

Method:
In saucepan heat almond milk till it reaches a boil.  Add in couscous, sugar and cinnamon, stir.  Cover and remove from heat.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork.
Top with grapes and pecans.  Add additional almond milk if desired.

Alloy & Anniversaries



It's hard to believe J and I just celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary earlier this month.  Wow, how did that happen?  Looking back at our wedding photos, it's amazing how young we look, yet I swear it was just yesterday 'we took the plunge.'  Cruel joke world, cruel joke.

To celebrate #6 we went for dinner at Alloy.  I'll be honest, when I'm looking for restaurants to visit you can be guaranteed if gnocchi is on the menu, I'm coming.  It is truly the one thing I will always order if I'm given the opportunity, and Alloy gave me the opportunity!

Happy Anniversary Babe!  I love you.




Complementary Olives, Hummus & Flatbread.

truffle gnocchi
field mushroom cream. shaved parmesan

bruschetta
house made cheese. herbed focaccia. arugula. turkish olive oil



Dinner followed (without photos.  failure on my part I know.)

Chicken |  buttermilk marinated. asiago soft polenta. smoked bacon & hazelnut succotash
Beef Short Rib |  mandarin bbq sauce. chipotle yam puree. broccoli

My short rib was by far the star of the show, as was the yam puree it came with.  Delicious!
Thanks Alloy, we will see you again!  In the meantime, do you deliver?


Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sunday Lunch @ Famoso

Lunch today was a special treat.  Pizza @ Famoso Neapolitan.  I'm not sure who was more excited about this, the kids, or me or J.  Me.
This was my second trip to this place in the last 8 days.  I'm beginning to notice a trend happening.  Intervention please.  ASAP.



What's pizza without a little vino.  White for me.  Red for J.  I typically opt for red wine over white, however I purchased white based solely on the name.   Sibling Rivalry.  (I can't be alone in shopping/selecting wine base on names and labels.  Right?)



 R & I shared the San Andreas.  A white base (extra virgin olive oil, garlic, oregano), fresh mozzarella and chill-lime marinated roasted chicken.  Baked, then topped with fresh avocado, diced roma tomatoes and diced onion.  Served with a lime wedge.
Best Pizza Ever!

J & L shared the Funghi Tartufo.  Roasted white mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, truffle oil, reggiano parmesan.



Gelato for dessert?  Don't mind if I do.  We ordered 2 flavours.   Chocolate Flake & Key Lime Graham Cracker.
My favourite being....Key Lime, obviously.   Delicious & refreshing it was the perfect end to a perfect lunch.


Hope you are enjoying your Sunday-Funday as much as me!

Wine & Cheese Pairings


Let me describe my perfect Sunday afternoon...

Me  + Wine + Cheese = Pure Happiness

That has to be the best math equation I've ever seen.  Wouldn't you agree?
Now who wants to join me this afternoon for a little snack?  All we're missing is some good crusty bread and some cured meats.  Delicious.  I love Sundays!

photo courtesy: Dean&Deluca



To help you get the most out of your wine and cheese pairing.  check out these tips and examples courtesy of Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Enjoy!

Types of Cheeses:


Bloomy: Creamy, decadent cheeses, with a soft rind. 
Hard: Stiff cheeses, which are often sharp and/or salty. They can also be aged. 
Blue: Pungent, often salty cheeses, with a blue tinge. 
Fresh: Soft, often spreadable cheeses that can be tangy or mild. They are not usually aged.



Wine & Cheese Pairing Examples


CheeseWine
Bloomy
CamembertChampagne
BrieChardonnay
RobiolaSparkling Wine
TaleggioPinot Blanc
Hard
GoudaMerlot
CheddarCabernet Sauvignon
ParmesanChianti
Double GloucesterZinfandel
PecorinoValpolicella
GruyereSauvignon Blanc
FontinaBardolino
Blue
GorgonzolaPort
StiltonSauternes
BlueRiesling
CambozolaEiswein
Fresh
RicottaPinot Grigio
MozzarellaSauvignon Blanc
GoatChenin Blanc
FetaBeaujolais
BurrataTocai Friulano

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Grilled Strawberry Bread Pudding

Happy National BBQ Day!
How are you celebrating?    
Me?  I'm having bread pudding baked in foil on the BBQ.  How easy is that?  Even those less than BBQ inclined can make this one work.

Rule of thumb:  BBQ's should be fuss-free.  The primary focus, having a great time with friends and family.  Second to which should be delicious, charcoal-y, foodie goodness, and cold beverages.  Summer Grillin' done right.  Enjoy!


Grilled Strawberry Bread Pudding

Ingredients:
4 cups whole wheat bread cubes
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup strawberries, sliced

confectioners' sugar for serving


Method:
Whisk together milk, sugars, cinnamon and eggs.
In large bowl add bread cubes and strawberries.  Pour milk mixture over top and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

To make foil packet:  Lay a large sheet of heavy-duty foil or a double layer of regular foil on a flat surface.  Butter sheet and add bread mixture in centre of the foil.  Bring the short ends of the foil together and fold twice to seal:  fold in sides to seal leaving room for steam.  Grill over indirect heat, turning a few times, 35-40 minutes.

Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.


Serves 4
slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine - June 2012

For more information on National BBQ Day visit NationalBBQDay.ca

Monday, 18 June 2012

Greek Yogurt & Dill Dip


Oh hi again 3pm snack attack.  You never fail to show up daily and sometimes you come earlier than expected, like right after lunch.  This I don't appreciate.  Now you know.


Yogurt & Dill Dip

Ingredients:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp dried dill
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
salt & pepper

carrots for serving

Method:
Combine all ingredients in small bowl.
Serve with carrots or other vegetable of choice.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

A Classic Side

My favourite part of potato salad is the hard boiled eggs.  Is that weird?  I'm sure most people would say potato is the reason they eat this BBQ staple.  Not me.  I love the eggs.  Okay, I love the potato too.  It's all good in my opinion.  However there is a special place reserved in my heart for hard boiled eggs, it's located right beside my love for pie and avocados.  
Looks like I'm having eggs for breakfast tomorrow.  Happy Monday to me!  Until then at least I have this yummy protein packed side dish to keep me full.  
Bring on the BBQ!









Classic Potato Salad



Ingredients:

3lbs baby red & yellow potatoes, cooked, cooled & halved
4 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup sweet pickles, diced
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fat free Miracle Whip
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste


Method:

In large serving bowl combine first five ingredients.  Set aside.
In small bowl mix yogurt, Miracle Whip, mustard, pickles, and salt & pepper.  Toss with the potato mixture using as much or as little as desired.


Serves: 6-8




To The Men In My Life...


I'm blessed enough to get to celebrate Father's Day with two of the best men I know.  My Dad and my Husband.


Dad,
You have been by my side from Day 1.   As I look back at everything we've gone through together, I can't help but smile.  You taught me to ride a bike, drive a car, shoot a jump shot, and  follow my dreams.  You made the best cucumber and cheese sandwiches, I loved our Saturday morning 'Timbit' runs while we did errands, and all of the great camping adventures.  I love you.  Happy Father's Day!
Side note:  This is my favourite photo of us.  I may have cried through our entire dance, but it was one of the happiest moments in my life.






J,
You and I have conquered the world together, gotten married and started a family.  You accept me for me, including my quirks (which are few and far between I might add.)  I watch you interact with our kids, and I'm so proud that they get to call you "Dad."  You are to them, what my dad is to me.  Thank you for the husband that you are, the father that I admire, and the person I can't wait to grow old beside.  Love you.





How else do you celebrate Father's Day, but with copious amounts of meat and beer.  You're welcome fella's!  (I also seem to benefit from such a day...)



Father's Day Dinner 2012

Spolumbos Sausage
Classic Potato Salad
Baked Beans
Ice Cream Sandwiches

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Healthy Spinach Dip

You can pretty much guarantee, where there's a party, there is spinach dip present.  Your chances are even better if I'm at your party.  Spinach dip and I are inseparable.   Consider us party staples.  And why not?  We are both fresh, tangy, and served with bread (hmm, okay maybe the last point is purely about the dip...)


I wish I could say, that this dip and I are headed to a fabulous party, perhaps one studded with Hollywood celebrities.  We are not.  Instead, we are on route to my husband's work, where I promised the office a healthy afternoon snack.   Perhaps one of them will throw a party (in my honour)...hint, hint...or thank me with a fabulous pair of shoes.  Just throwing some ideas out there...I'm a 7.5 by the way.
Enjoy!

Spinach Dip


Ingredients:
1 - 10oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed, water squeezed out, chopped
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fat free miracle whip
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp green onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
pepper to taste

pita bread for serving


Method:
Combine all ingredients above in bowl.  Mix well.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Serve with pita bread.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Banana Zucchini Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

No you aren't dreaming, I said cookies for breakfast.  Although it does sound like an oxymoron, just like jumbo shrimp.  (My grade 8 English teacher would be so proud.)
Rest assured though, these cookies are healthy.  Filled with oats, whole wheat flour, bananas, zucchini, egg whites and a tiny bit of brown sugar, they are perfectly acceptable for breakfast.    Did I mention they are moist, chewy, and delicious.   You can feel good about noshing on these guys regardless of time of day.  Seconds for lunch....



Let me just say, any mom that gives her kids cookies for breakfast, should be presented with the 'Mom of the Year' Award.  And of course I would gracefully accept.   Speech, ball gown and all...
Enjoy!


Banana Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 2/3 cup Quaker quick oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup zucchini, finely grated
2 medium bananas, mashed (approx 3/4 - 1 cup)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Method:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Add in egg white, vanilla, banana and zucchini.  Mix well.
In separate bowl whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add to banana mixture.    Combine.
Fold in nuts.
Spoon batter in heaping tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Allow to cool for 2 minutes on sheets before transferring to cooling rack.

Yields: 2 dozen
Adapted from Spark People

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

a saturday without syrup.....


I woke up this morning excited to make pancakes.  I knew that it would be the perfect start to an action packed weekend ahead.  Then it happened....I remembered....we have no syrup in this house.  What?!?  The genius in me finished off the last of it, and completely forgot to add it to my shopping list this week.  Boo.  I know.  Hmmm, maybe I should just go out for a breakfast solo this morning and get a big 'ol stack of pancakes the size of my head.  Or, perhaps I will wait for someone to take me for breakfast, that hasn't happened in awhile.  The later is probably not going to happen since the only people awake in this house are the dog and I.   Looks like it's breakfast @ home for me.

My oatmeal this morning is going to have to step up to the plate to make up for the lack of maple syrup.  I need it to be extra special, extra indulgent, and extra awesome.  Time to bring in the big guns....




Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 banana, mashed

2 bananas, sliced


Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.
Combine oats, 1/4 cup of pecans, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.  In separate bowl, whisk milk, egg, mashed banana, 1 1/2 Tbsp butter and vanilla.
Line bottom of pan with sliced bananas.  Cover with oat mixture.  Slowly drizzle milk mixture over the oats.  Gently tap dish on work surface to distribute liquid.  Scatter remaining nuts across the top.  Drizzle with remaining melted butter.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until top is nicely golden and oat mixture has set.  Allow to cool slightly.
Serve as is sprinkled with brown sugar, or add almond milk in a bowl.













Serves: 4-6
Adapted from my Baked Berry Oatmeal

Zucchini Lemon Loaf

Friday afternoons have the tendency to drag on.  As I was patiently eagerly waiting for the weekend to hurry up and get here, I found myself with a couple hours to spare.  In between school for L and nap time for R, I'm guaranteed two solid hours everyday for me.  Now usually I use this time to nap, I'm not gonna lie to you, but I had a great sleep the night before and wasn't really feeling a nap today.  I was actually looking to get some baking done.  Actually I was looking for ways to up my lemon intake for the day. You can never have too many lemons in your diet, right?  Pucker up I say, I love lemons. 

Favourite Pie: Lemon Meringue

Favourite Drink: Pink Lemonade
Favourite Bread: Lemon Loaf
Favourite Bar: Lemon Bars
And the list could go on....

Today's life lesson:  "when life gives you lemons; make as many pastries, desserts, breads or bars as possible..." - JS



Zucchini Lemon Loaf

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
1 cup zucchini, shredded and squeezed dry


Method:

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly butter 9-by-5 inch loaf pan.
Mix first five ingredients in large bowl.  Add in zucchini, mix.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, applesauce, yogurt, and lemon zest.  Fold into the dry mixture until just combined.
Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes.  Cool 30 minutes in pan on a rack, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.



Adapted from my Lemon Blueberry Almond Loaf

Friday, 8 June 2012

Beans Roasted

The only thing better than roasted vegetables are tempura vegetables.  Or as I refer to them, deep-fried heaven.
Unfortunately, when it comes to all things deep-fried, my knowledge/skill base is sub-par.  It's a good thing my favourite sushi joint is only 5 minutes away.  Making tempura vegetables easily (almost too easily) attainable.  Also, it helps that J and I have sushi date night every Monday.  Sushi take out, a bottle of wine, and an hour to ourselves.  I love Mondays.  I love sushi.  I love tempura.

Since it's Friday and not Monday, tonight's vegetables are coming to you in roasted form.   Roasted green beans.  Charred up and so very cheesy.  Who wants steamed vegetables when this is an option.





Confession:  when craving sushi or tempura, no amount of any other food, will ease the longing/lusting/needing of said sushi or tempura.  Blah.  Is it Monday yet?  At least melty & crispy cheese is a close 2nd...


Parmesan Roasted Green Beans


Ingredients:
1lb whole green beans (frozen)
olive oil
sea salt & fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese


Method:
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Place beans on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.  Toss until coated.
Cook for 20 minutes, turning at the 10 minute mark.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with Parmesan and return to oven, cooking for another 10-12 minutes until cheese is melty & crispy.

Serves: 4
slightly adapted from Tyler Florence


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Grilling Meat 101

Have you ever noticed how when guys BBQ they act like they're superheros and the most powerful men in the world?  Case in point, my husband.  Whenever J has BBQ utensils in his hand, he seems to walk around with his chest puffed out, a perma-grin on his face, oh and the swagger, can't forget the swagger. It makes me smile laugh every time.  Boys and their outdoor grills...

For our wedding a few years back, J's office pooled their funds together and got us a BBQ.  It's huge, shiny, and takes up a large portion of our deck.   J couldn't be happier about this.  Hence why he is out there grilling up a storm year round.  Nothing stops him.
Of course in order to be a true BBQ star, you need more than just a good grill.  You need to be able to cook me the perfect steak on that grill.  So for those of you that might be struggling in this department, here are some fool proof tips that are sure to impress any guests you may be entertaining this summer.



photo courtesy: montrealprime.com



How To Grill A Steak

courtesy Food Network Magazine June 2012

  1. Place the steak in marinade (if using) at least 1 hour before grilling
  2. Take the steak out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before grilling.  Remove the steak from the marinade.  Pat dry.
  3. Preheat the grill.  For thick cuts of meat, prepare for indirect heat: For gas, turn off the burners on one side.  For charcoal, push the coals to one side.  Using tongs, lightly rub the creates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil.
  4. Season the steak on both sides with salt and pepper just before grilling.
  5. Grill the steak, turning, until a thermometer inserted sideways into the thickest part of the meat registers 125 F for medium rare.  (For thick cuts, sear the steak on the hot side of the grill, then move it to the cooler side to finish cooking.)
  6. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 to 10 minutes, then slice the steak against the grain-this makes the each bite more tender.

Happy Grilling!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Pina Colada Oatmeal

You know those mornings you wake up after a great sleep, only made better, by having a great dream.  Last night, I was living it up on a white sand beach, drinking a fruity-alcoholic beverage straight from a coconut, and listening to the sound of waves.  Oh ya, also, Adam Levine was there.  No big deal.  We were just vacationing together.

Snap back to reality.  No beach, no fruity drink, no waves, and the only thing of Adam Levine to be found, comes courtesy of my iPod playlist.

At least I have breakfast.  A tropical, beach inspired breakfast.  Aloha.



Pina Colada Oatmeal

Ingredients:
1 cup vanilla coconut milk, plus more for serving
1/4 cup fresh pineapple, crushed
1/2 cup Quaker quick cooking oats
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, cubed
1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut
1 Tbsp almonds, sliced


Method:
In saucepan, heat coconut milk until it reaches a boil.  Add crushed pineapple and oats.  Reduce heat and cook stirring constantly for 5-7 minutes, or until thickened.  Stir in brown sugar and remove from heat.  Pour into a bowl and top with cubed pineapple, coconut and almonds.
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