Monday, January 31, 2011

SOS.

I keep saying that I should be cooking - because I have a cooking blog - and I have cooked - but it is all the same stuff that I always cook. I have had the weirdest appetite, so I have been cooking simple things - instead of spending time thinking about what I will make for dinner, what ingredients, what should I try new; my mind is thinking - what can I make that is healthy and how can I have it cooked and eaten within 30 minutes.

So I am worried - should I change my focus. Should I write about random stupid stuff and what recipe in a cooking magazine would be good to make? Or should I write about how my dogs? Should I write about the last 20 years of dinner party dinners that I went to?

See!!!!

OMG - all those are so lame - and I fell asleep when I was writing the ideas. I guess I just need to focus, better organize my time, and remember how much I love to write and share my recipes. Sigh.

I have been busy the past couple of weeks - nothing out of control - I haven't travelled the world, or won the lotto, I have just been doing stuff. Fun stuff.

A couple of weeks ago I took my mom to The Canadian Championships. So fun. We got tickets to the Dance and Men's finals. I hadn't been to a competition like that before. They were all so amazing.

I used to be a figure skater. My sister may say 'Figure Skater'. I was pretty good. Sniff. Well, not really at all. I started skating when I was 3 and finished my last year of high school. I competed and took tests - but I was not a superstar. I used to have a lot of fun - would constantly be told to get my butt in gear and stop holding up the boards. What it did do for me, was keep in amazing shape,, out of trouble and I met some great friends. Now... when I skate, which hasn't been in a very long time, I can skate and that's it. No fancy dancy, or tricks. I found this picture in my collection. My friend Colleen was standing beside me, but I didn't know if she would want her pic included. That isn't an outfit that I would wear regularly - it was for an 'Under the Big Top' carnival. I was supposed to be the Ring Leader. I remember thinking how fast and strong that I was - and then I watched my performance afterwards - oh my. I was like 'uh, how come you're not moving?' and 'Uh, did your feet leave the ice when you jumped?'.

Hence, I didn't make it to the Canadians level. But now when people ask how far I got in skating, I'll probably say something like 'I went to Canadians' and then pray to god that they don't ask me what year - b/c that will be really embarrassing for me.

This past weekend Chris and I went to such a fun dinner party. It was called 'Dinner for 12'. My friend Maegan and her sister (Tracey) and their husbands hosted a dinner party for 4 other couples, none of who knew each other. It was a potluck that made up a 4 course dinner. Vinnie, Tracey's husband, played bartender and made the best drinks. I will definitely be serving up one of them soon.

He also made an incredible main. Beef tenderloin with polenta and gorgonzola cheese. I will be making this polenta - soon. Soon. VERY SOON. It was one of the tastiest things that I have eaten in a very long time.

They had the table decorated so beautifully, and we played a game and just had the greatest time.

Well - that is my update for now. I will cook soon I promise - and post recipes.

I hope that you're all having a great week - and are excited for what February will bring.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 25 of 2011



January 25th - it's the day that I think of after New Year's Day. Today is my grandma's birthday. It's also Robbie Burns day. Not only was she an incredibly special woman to all of us, but she celebrated her birthday with wee Robbie - and oh how she loved that. Many, many years ago we started a family tradition by taking her to Robbie Burns night - eating haggis, kicking up our heals, and having far too many laughs.

We have carried on this tradition - and now we meet annually to keep the family hooplah up.

I had a dream of my grandma last night. It was a bit of an odd dream - but seeing my grandma made it all worth it. I dreamt that I was at her house - which was a huge apartment - with a bunch of different rooms. And each room had really old, eclectic furniture. That was pretty much the dream - and I just kept walking from room to room pointing at the different furniture. And then I waited for her to get out of the loo - which we are always doing with each other.

I think that it must be a sign to dream of her on her birthday. That's my thought anyway.

Last week I was craving a big, hearty bowl of mac 'n cheese. I have made a bunch of variations of this - you can check them out:


This recipe isn't so far different - but it was delicious and hearty.

Mac and Cheese Sims Style

1 box of whole wheat macaroni
1 head of cauliflower
1 red pepper - chopped into small pieces
2 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of flour
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups of skim milk
Pepper flakes
1 275 g container of mascarpone cheese
1. 5 cups of mozzarella cheese - shredded
Panko Breadcrumbs
Herbs

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

While you are bringing the water to a boil for the macaroni - chop up the cauliflower into small pieces. I have a steamer that fits onto my big pot - so that I can steam the cauliflower while the pasta is boiling. If you don't have one of these - then you can easily add the cauliflower into the boiling water for the last couple of minutes.

While the pasta is boiling, you can start the sauce. In a saucepan or a pot, melt the butter and add the flour, whisk together to make a roux, then add the garlic. Slowly add in the skimmed milk, and whisk together over medium heat. It will start to thicken. Add in the mascarpone cheese, stir to let it melt into the saucy goodness. Then add in half of the mozzarella cheese and let that melt in as well. At this time you can add in any fresh or dried herbs that you like - i.e., oregano, and red pepper flakes.

Drain the pasta and add it to the cream sauce, with the cauliflower and peppers and mix all together.

Place it into a large baking dish, top with the rest of the shredded cheese and breadcrumbs.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

And enjoy.

Alright friends - raise your glass today on this fine Robbie Burns day, or wear your kilt, or eat some Haggis, whatever works for you.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dulce's Chicken Adobo



Meet Dulce. Dulce is my hairdresser and my friend. She is funny; gorgeous, talented and an all around great person.

Dulce has been doing my hair for many years. She is a great hairdresser. She does exactly what I want her to do - and steers me in the right direction if I think about doing something different. When I go to her house to get my doo done, there is always something cooking and always a Philippino game show on the tv. She likes to sing me Philippino songs - and when I catch a word or two I will sing it back to her - so she now thinks after many years that I can understand what I am saying.
My stagette - Dulce cut a stranger's hair so that he didn't have to go home on the 7AM ferry!

Dulce was there for our wedding. She was there late the night before straightening Margo's hair, and then back bright and early doing the hair for the BM's and some of the makeup. She was such a good sport - making all of us glamourous and beautiful.

So, the reason why I have introduced you to Dulce is because she introduced me to one of my favourite Philippine dishes. My sister-in-law has family parties where there is the most amazing Philippine food - it's all so deelish. I am not really sure of the recipe - as Dulce tells me a little bit of what goes in the recipe - and then she laughs and just wants me to eat.

I will name this after Dulce as I am forever grateful that she has made me this dish. PS - this is probably the easiest dish to make - EVAH!!

Dulce's Chicken Adobo

10-12 chicken legs
3-4 garlic cloves - minced
1 cup soya sauce - I like to use low fat, low sodium
1 cup vinegar - I think that typically you use white vinegar - but I didn't have any on hand - so used Rice Vinegar. I will definitely use this again.
Black pepper

In a large pot, add the soya sauce, vinegar, garlic and black pepper. Stir it all together, and then add the chicken legs and ensure that the chicken is all covered in the sauce. Cover and heat over medium heat. And leave it.

Leave it.

Maybe after 15 minutes, give it a stir. And do this again just to ensure that all of the chicken is cooking in the sauce.

After about 45 minutes - the chicken should be falling off the bone.

I served this with brown rice - I drizzled some of the sauce over the rice. Then I sauteed a bunch of peppers and served those as well.

Chris loved this dinner. He rated this a 5+. Dulce will be very happy about that.

If you want to try something a little different - give this a try.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Collect your courage.



Collect your courage.

I heard that line in a song today on the radio. I am not sure what song it is from - but those three words totally caught my attention.

COLLECT YOUR COURAGE.

That's what I need to do.

I don't think that I have ever really thought of the word 'courage'. I think that when I am needing a kick in the pants - I think of 'strength', or 'inspiration'. But not 'courage'. And really I think that sums it all up. I need courage to get strength, inspiration, hope and all the stuff that I look to when I need help.

My new motto for this week is 'Collect Your Courage'. I am going to see how it goes.


I have been thinking of making a chicken stew all week. So, since today is Sunday, and I want to cook a nice family meal (Sunday series), I thought it was a perfect idea. Jules and I did our weekly shop at the Root Cellar and then the grocery store. We haven't done this 'weekly shop' for quite some time. Months and months. I am not even sure when the last time was. My little wedding, Christmas and feeling 'ugh' totally put me off pattern. I am hoping to get back on pattern so that I am not heading to the grocery store every day after work to pick up stuff for wraps and spaghetti and a can of soup.

Being Sunday we should have a table full - we don't. It will just be Chris and I. Truthfully, we probably won't even sit at the table tonight. We are on episode 9 of 12 in Dexter - and I am itching to see how it ends. Also, I only really invited my mom for dinner - and conveniently she had 'started' cooking her dinner at 10:30 when I went to pick her up for our adventure. I like to give her a hard time - I secretly think that she starts her dinner early so that when I ask her to come over, she can say (in a Marge Simpson tone) 'oh sorry hon, I can't. I have already started my dinner'. And then I say 'well just put it in the fridge and have it tomorrow night'. And then she says 'oh... ya, it won't keep'. Hm. Anyways - it is still a Sunday dinner - with my husb - and the pups at our feet.

I knew how I wanted to cook up the stew - and Jules told me that she used to always make chicken stew and dumplings when we were kids. I told her that I didn't remember having it once. She freaked. :) Then I knew that I wanted to try making them too. I found the Pioneer Woman's recipe for Chicken Stew and Dumplings - copied her idea of shredding the chicken and borrowed her recipe for the dumplings. Mine did not cook the same as hers - so I have had to alter it a bit.

So, let's get started. Sorry for all the pics - but I was happy to have some light when I started cooking today.

Chicken Stew and Dumplings

10 chicken thighs
1/2 cup flour - do not discard the leftover
1 tsp Kosher salt and pepper
Olive oil

2 onions - chopped
Potatoes - I used tiny yukon gold nugget and kept them whole - probably 4-5 cups - use as much or as little as you like
3 carrots - chopped
3 stalks of celery - chopped
2 cups of button mushrooms - fresh and kept whole
1 cup of white wine
3 cups of chicken stock

Dumplings
2 cups of flour
1 tbsp baking powder
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cup half and half

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

Prepare the chicken:
In a large pot (that can go in the oven) - drizzle olive oil and heat over medium. For the chicken, you can choose to remove the skins or not. I chose to remove them and really like the flavour and the consistency. Leaving the skins on will also give the stew a lot of flavour - it's just not as light and healthy (not that this is a really light dish). In a shallow bowl, add the flour and the kosher and pepper. Place the chicken, individually, in the flour and cover both sides. Add the chicken directly to the oil and heat. I did 5 pieces at at time. Brown both sides of the chicken for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the pot, place on a plate and do the remaining.

Once the chicken is done, add the onions to the pot and saute for a minute. Then add the white wine and let it bring up all the flavourful bits off of the bottom.

Then add the remaining vegetables and broth, give it a good stir. Add a bit of kosher salt and pepper and 1-2 bay leaves if you have them. Place the chicken back in the pot, stir it all together. Place the lid on - or aluminum foil, and put it in the oven for about 1.5 hours. Just let it sit - and do something that you enjoy doing - reading a book, watching an early Canuck game, have a nap...

You can tell when the stew is just about ready when the potatoes are tender. At this time, you may want to thicken it up a bit. What I did, was use the remaining flour from the chicken, add a bit of the stew liquid and whisked it all together to make a bit of a paste. Stirred it in, and watched it thicken. Then shred the chicken - using 2 forks - and add it back to the stew.

Place the pot on the stove now, and heat it over medium-low heat. I am sure that I could have done the dumplings in the oven - but I thought I better try to follow a recipe.

For the dumplings:
In a bowl add all of the dry ingredients. Slowly add in the cream - about 1/2 a cup at a time, and stir it until all of the dry ingredients are absorbed by the cream.

Place spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture on to the top of the stew. Cover the pot slightly and let them simmer for 15 minutes.
*This is what did not work for me. I did that, and then I covered the pot and let it simmer for another 15 minutes and they finally cooked. I probably would have covered them from the beginning.

And that's it!

Chris rated this a 5!! He had two helpings.

Delicious. Hearty. Sunday. Dinner.

Now - I hope that you are all enjoying a Sunday dinner the way you like - with friends and family - co-workers, strangers.

Have a great week.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow.


Down here on our little island, it's snowing. Lightly - and not sticking to the roads, but it is gently covering the grass and cars with a thin layer of white.

I love the snow.

I know that I have told you that before, but I really do. Tonight when I was bundled up walking the pups I was thinking about how homesick I am for Kitimat during Christmas and when it snows. I grew up in the small, northern town of Kitimat on the west coast of the mainland. A very different pace to where I live now. All the same, I loved it. I feel that I had a lot of opportunities growing up there that I may not have had growing up in the city.

Anyways, I think that I get homesick when it snows, b/c Kitimat used to get so much snow. The kind of snow that you couldn't see out of your bungalow windows and you could jump off your roof and land comfortably in the snow without breaking a limb.

There is something about snow. I feel that it slows things down. When it first falls, everything is fresh. I am praying to the snow gods (if there is such a thing) that it comes, stays for awhile, and gives me an opportunity to wear my new winter boots.

Alright, I cooked last night. I love Thai food - but I just sort of wing it when I attempt to make anything. When we went to Steph's for New Year's day she made an amazing Thai curry. My goal was to make something similar - no recipe in hand - just a few different ingredients with hopes that it would work out.

My Thai

1 pack of firm Tofu
1 small jar of Pad Thai sauce - I should have used Thai curry paste, but I bought the right thing
1 can of light coconut milk
3 peppers - chopped
1 zucchini - thinly sliced
1 tbsp of chopped ginger - I think that next time I will grate it
Hot pepper flakes
Juice of one lime
Brown rice

Pre-heat the oven to 400. Cut the tofu in half length wise. Drizzle sesame oil over top of the tofu and season with kosher salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. If I make this again (which I will), I will probably saute it instead.

In a large pot, add the pad thai sauce and the coconut milk. All of the vegetables, and pepper flakes. Let everything simmer, until the vegetables start to soften slightly. Add the tofu and let it simmer in the sauce and absorb all of the wonderful flavours.

Before serving, add the juice of one lime.

Serve with brown rice and enjoy it.

Chris loved this and rated it a 5!

Alrighty friends - I hope that there is snow where you are if you like it. And that you can enjoy it.

Loves.

Enjoy!!

PS - the other day I posted a link to our wedding pics. I messed up the link - it has been corrected. Here it is here too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Sunday Dinner

Dear Sunday.
Oh how lovely you have been today. The sunshine is exhilarating. The crispness in the air is refreshing. The blue skies are endless. And the lack of rain is more uplifting than words can describe.
Loves.
C.


Sometimes I like to check in like that. Just do a little reality check and describe how the day is going. It's been a good day. A little of this and a little of that. And to top off the day, we are heading to Jules for a good ol' Sunday dinner.


I love Sunday dinners. Growing up we almost always had someone in for Sunday dinner. My dad worked shiftwork, so if he was working, we may not have had anyone in, but we still had a great dinner and sat down together.


Since it is just Chris and I, I always make sure that we sit at the table for dinner on Sunday nights. The rest of the week we don't have an opportunity to sit together, except Saturday's - which there is usually a hockey game on, and Friday's when I prefer to not cook. Chris will sometimes protest and say things like 'Really? Wouldn't you prefer to watch tv?' - the answer is always the same. It's also the day that we tend to have friends over for dinner. I like the idea of being able to spend the day doing what needs to get done and not feeling rushed to put together a meal for friends or family.


I think that Sunday dinners are so important. I feel like it is the dinner to reconnect before the week starts again. It's the day that you can take a little extra time to put the dinner together and not feel so rushed. It's the day that you can eat earlier if you like - so that you can spend time together cleaning up and then curl up on the couch with a good movie or a hockey game.


What are you Sunday plans? Do they include dinner? If yes, what are you making/having?


I haven't been 'in' the kitchen too much lately. I just am starting to feel a bit more myself so have been cooking extremely easy/boring meals that I don't think are fun to share. Last nights dinner was spaghetti. Something that I whipped up in less than 30 minutes. I used ground pork, mushrooms, peppers, garlic, oregano, spinach, whole wheat pasta, and for the tomato sauce, organic purred tomatoes.


Once I saute the meat, add the vegetables to saute for a bit, I then add the sauce. I like to add pepper flakes for a hint of heat, and 1/2 a tsp of sugar to take off the bitterness of the tomatoes.



Then I add the spinach, put on the lid and let it simmer with the heat of the sauce. Then gradually stir it in. Spinach is so good for you - and hiding it like this in spaghetti sauce is so delicious.



I drain the pasta, but don't rinse it. If you are not going to put the sauce on the spaghetti right away, then rinse it. But if you are going to sauce it up, then let it sit so that the starches help absorb and coat the sauce.



And then it's ready to serve.



Alright friends, happy Friday. I have a link to some of our wedding photos if you would like to take a look.


Love your Sunday.


Loves.


Enjoy!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 - Well Hello!

Well, hello. If my very late post for the start of 2011 is a sign of what this year will be like, I may be in trouble. Let's say it isn't.

Happy New Year! I wish you all the very best that this brand spank'n new year has to offer. I think that this year is going to be a good one. For me personally, as I get older, I feel that setting resolutions aren't as important to me as they were when I was younger. Now, I feel that I like to set goals, and try and make them happen. Maybe they're the same thing, but for me, 'resolution' has always been a bit stressful. Pressure. I think that I was always pressured to think of resolutions, then probably didn't like what I chose, so then stressed about not making realistic ones. Oh my little one...

For me for 2011, I have a few goals. Some that I will share, and some that I have to work on, on my own.
1. Health. My health needs to be foremost the most important thing. If I am not healthy, then how can I be the best that I can be? I struggle with this thought process as I find it a bit selfish. I need to get over that.
2. Organized. I need to get my house in order. I think that if my house is in order, that my first goal will be easier. I often joke that my house is like the TV show 'Hoarders' - it isn't. It's not even close - except that one time when my friend Jocelyn was down for dental surgery and the spare room had stuff everywhere. Really it's neat and tidy - but I have a lot of stuff that I don't need. I need to maximize the space that we have, so need to get rid of the stuff that is allowing me to do so.
3. Create. I want to continue trying to post recipes on a regular basis - and find healthy and flavourful options. And, I want to learn to take better pictures of my creations.

So... those are what I will share with you for now, and I will give updates.

2011 Update:
Health: I am finally feeling better. This 'bug' or whatever I have had for the past 3 weeks, has kicked my butt. Literally. I managed to go to bed at 11 last night instead of the usual 8:15pm.
Organize: Yesterday I 'undecorated' the house. Chris and I tackled it together - and what a relief. Today I tidied up the rest of the house and put things back where they should be. I plan to tackle two kitchen cupboards in the next couple of weekends.
Create: Although I have made simple dinners lately - nothing new - (stir fry and soft tacos) I have started on the picture portion of my goal. Chris gave me a new Canon Rebel camera for Christmas. Hoorah!!! I love it. It's been a lot of fun. I really have no idea how to use it - but I have figured out how to turn it on, point and shoot, and download the pics.

This is what I wanted to post on January 1st - a documentary of our day.

first pic (that wasn't blurry).
I like to call this one 'Take 17'. She was tired of posing.

To the park - Starbucks in hand. Starting out the year right.
I like to call this one 'Don't look for the monobrow'. Don't. Seriously.
Magnum impatiently waiting to start our stroll.
Happy pups and husband.
Then it was off to Steph and Stagia's for a little New Year 'binary' party. :) Incredible food - lovely hosts.
After we left Steph's we came out to this - the sky was amazing. We had to drive a bit to try and get the best view. The pic doesn't do the sky justice.
Ended the night at Jules' for a 'gourmet' chinese food dinner.

Well friends. I am just cooking a pot roast in the oven - I normally do it in the slow cooker, so hopefully it isn't as dry as a boot. I am all set to return back to work, and just wish that we had a couple of extra days to sleep in and enjoy an extra extended long weekend.

I hope that you are all well, and that 2011 has been kind to you so far.

Loves.

Enjoy!