It's so crazy how time flies when you're having fun. I have been up to no good over the last couple of weeks. No good! Well, not really. I have been good. Very good. And I have been doing fun things.
Two weekends ago I took the Harbour Air over to Vancouver for a day/night to spend it with my Auntie Babs. It was a weekend for anyone who loves to cook and eat. It was such a wonderful weekend. If you are planning a weekend in Vancouver any time soon and are looking for some great places to shop - pick up some great finds for the kitchen - check out our tour:
Quince - for a London Fog and a shared pastry
Barbara-Jo's Books to Cook - a store with only cookbooks. Hello Dream Come True. Auntie Babs bought me this one - Ripe. Stay tuned b/c I will be making some tasty recipes from this one.
Go Fish - for fish tacones - YUMMA. Just like Red Fish Blue Fish in Victoria.
Gourmet Warehouse - one of my all time faves in Vancouver. I stalked up on Kosher Salt, oils, and so much more.
Bosa Foods - incredible Italian grocery store. Also has been on an episode of the Real Housewives of Vancouver. What??? Someone told me! Oh alright - I watch it. I can't help it.
Granville Island - the best place. The best shopping - fresh fruits, spices, flowers, gifts, you name it!
Edible Canada - for the most amazing breakfast and Chai Latte.
Urban Fare - for a slice of pizza before heading home. The best grocery store.
It was such a wonderful weekend. My only regret is that I can't remember the name of the place that we went for dinner- I had a delicious salad. And, that I didn't bring a camera. We are going to make it an annual event. I think that everyone is going to want to join us.
Alright - and a quick and easy recipe. We went to a potluck on the weekend - I will share a story about that soon - and we brought Chipotle Wings - they were a hit. I had some leftover chipotles so whipped up (literally) a batch of chipotle mayo and yam fries. I know, I know - this isn't anything new - an old favourite - and tasty.
Yam fries with Chipotle Mayo
Pre-heat oven to 450
2 medium sized yams - peeled and sliced into thin strips - just like fries
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl add the yam fries, and drizzle with the vegetable oil and season with a couple of pinches of kosher salt.
Place the yam fries on the baking sheet and bake in the 450 oven for about 40 minutes. Half way through gently turn them over. Bake them until they are nice and crispy.
3-4 chipotle peppers (less if you don't want them too spicy)
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of ultra low fat mayo - or full fat - whatever you have on hand
Juice of half a lime
In a food processor, chop up the garlic cloves. Add in the chipotle peppers and chop them up so they make like a paste. Add in the mayo and the lime juice - and pulse again so that everything melds together.
Serve on the side of the yam fries. You can keep this in the fridge and add it to salmon melts the next night.
Ok friends - that's it for me tonight. I have to go and clean my kitchen - so that day 2 of a 7 day week of a spotless house happens.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Some days I just have to remind myself about what I love, what I am grateful for and why life can really be so good.
I love; I am grateful for; and life is so good:
The smell of freshly cut grass
Coming home to a clean kitchen (that I didn't have to clean)
Emails from my mom letting me know she is having a lovely holiday
Watching the sun come up (even when I'm at work)
Getting a decent tax return
Looking forward to our annual family reunion
Phone calls from my BF
Freshly painted nails
Memories of my dad
Two feet that got me to the gym 3 days in a row this week
A healthy heart
A husband to love
My new ginger rice vinegar
Celery with almond butter
Alright - even though this may be cheesy - I like to make this sort of list from time to time. I am sure that I will think of a zillion more things to write, but this is good for me for now.
I don't really have any recipes to share - but I plan on taking a Greek Orzo Salad to a baby shower this weekend.
Time to sign off for the night - and have a small bowl of Breyer's sugar-free ice cream. Oh man I love this sh*t.
Friday, April 20, 2012
She is way too cute! And so unimpressed.
I think that I may have woken him.
Well it's Friday. I am home - I just enjoyed a Green Tea Frapp (no syrup) for an afternoon 'You made it through the week' sort of treat. The theme for this upcoming weekend is 'Endless Possibilities'. ENDLESS is my new word. I love it. Endless - ongoing - no end - no deadline - no rules - filling everything to the brim and then keep going. Fun!
This weekend I am taking a sea plane over to Vancouver to spend the day and night with my Auntie Babs. So fun!! We have a full day of shopping - eating - shopping - visiting - and having a grand time together. She knows all the hot spots for cooking stuff - great places to buy ingredients - and I just can't wait! I haven't been on a sea plane before - so it should be a pretty great experience.
How great are these?
Full of colour.
Strawberries are quite tasty right now. I put a little dish together to take to friends a couple of weeks ago for dessert. This is probably the easiest dessert ever. Seriously!
Before I go on though - I also wanted to talk about this little dish. Isn't it lovely. It was my MIL's (mother-in-law). My FIL asked me to look through some of her dishes when I was there last and asked me to take anything that I loved. I loved this. She loved dishes like this too. Her cupboards were full of pretty little china dishes - and I just know how much she treasured things like this. I am so hesitant to use them b/c I would be so sad if they broke - but I need to bring them out more often and really enjoy them.
Now listen - this isn't the healthiest dessert ever. I realize that - but sometimes you need to put something together when you're in a hurry and you want easy.
2 cups of cool whip - I used the ultra low fat - let sit at room temperature for about 30 mins
2 vanilla instant pudding cups - I found sugar free vanilla with low fat
Mix together. Keep cool in the fridge. Serve with fruit. Strawberries, pineapple and apple pears - are deelish
*Add Kahlua - 1/4 cup - yum
**Add boxed pudding instead of using instant
I never double dip. Never.
Alright friends. Enjoy the weekend. Make it Endless.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Oh, I'm excited about this. I haven't had a Guest Chef on my blog in quite some time. In fact, the last time was, April 4 - 2011, so over a year ago. It was Reido. (You can see my Guest Chef Series HERE). The fun thing about this Guest Chef addition, is that the Guest Chef is Reido's wife. She is Reido's wife - but more importantly (well for me anyways) she is my cuzzie. She was also one of my Bridesmaids in our wedding. She is also one of the nicest people that I have ever met.
I like to call her 'Wa Jeannie'. She likes to call me 'Shirl' (both names are because of our Grandma). We travelled Europe together. We took our Grandma on a road trip to visit her cousin in Saskatchewan. I was in her wedding. She was there for me and my family when my dad passed. She used to pick me up for college in her Rabbit that I could hear coming 5 K away. She is a dog lover. She is an animal lover. She is a wonderful mother. She is a wonderful sister and daughter. She is a wonderful friend. And she is a lovely cousin. There is way too much more that I could talk about but I would probably have to create a new blog - and I don't have the time - and some of the stories that I would tell - oh, they would not be good to share.
We got kicked off the grass shortly after this pic was taken. It's illegal to be on the grass.
A couple of years ago, Margo sent me a link to a blog that I immediately fell in love with. I wasn't really sure about the whole 'blog' world (I'm still not) but I just loved reading it. That blog was The Pioneer Woman. I still love the blog so much. We love where she lives, how she cooks, her humour, that she knows and loves cowboys - and some day plan to visit her on her ranch. Don't worry PW - we won't show up uninvited - however, we do plan to do a road trip on motorcycles when we turn 65 - so we may show up there. I'm not really sure though - we haven't planned our route yet - so she still has a lot of time to plan for us. Actually - we don't really even have the bikes yet either, nor do we have a plan to really get them. And we both don't really know how to 'ride' a motorcycle. Although I have been on the back of a Harley (mom please don't read this part) one night after Hanky Panky's in Terrace to Kitimat. On the back of Doug Rice's Harley - sitting on the fender - 45 min ride, in the dead of night on a highway. Oh my. When we reached our destination, I sat with the helmet on for about 10 minutes. Oh my. So, I guess I am slightly experienced to ride on the back of the bike.
Wow - we look young.
Ok, let's really meet her.
What is your favourite meal of all time (to eat?)
- My hubby's cordon blue or bbq'd oysters
What is your favourite meal of all time to cook?
- I like to cook breaky for the fam... blueberry pancakes or Scotch eggs if we have company :)
What is your most memorable meal?
- I have so many... but one of my faves was a Robbie Burns supper that sent a few people running for the lou in laughter. We also had a wonderful lobster feast this summer on our deck at Bowen
Your favourite kitchen utensil?
- My new awesome cutting board and my homemade wooden spoon
If you could have dinner with anyone - who would it be? What would you eat? And where?
- Jimmy Buffett... tropical island paradise... cheeseburger.
Would you like to meet the Pioneer Woman? And would you take me with you? And would you like to live on her ranch?
- These are silly questions!!! OF COURSE!! I have a serious problem with cowboys.
Alright - back to the PW. When her new cookbook - 'Food From My Frontier' - came out - I ordered one for me and Jeannie. I knew that she would enjoy it - and was excited to send it to her.
Last week she let me know that she tried one of the recipes - so immediately - I knew that she was going to need to be a Guest Chef. I made them using the recipe in the book - but altering it slightly. I didn't have red potatoes, I used white potatoes. And I didn't add rosemary. Fine - I didn't add it b/c I was too lazy to go out to my backyard and cut some from my rosemary bush.
Crash Hot Potatoes
You can check out the recipe on The Pioneer Woman's website - HERE.
Kosher salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 350.
Boil the whole potatoes for 20-25 minutes - until they are soft to poke with a fork.
Place them on a foil lined baking sheet and using a potato masher, gently mash the potato down flat. Brush (or drizzle) each potato with olive oil, season with kosher salt and pepper and add freshly chopped rosemary. Bake in the 350 oven for about 25 minutes.
These are so good. Chris really loved them. Jeannie - Chris and I will be there for dinner one night. And we would like your hubby's bbq'd oysters, these potatoes and Scotch eggs for breaky.
I love you so.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
I like spicy. I don't like it all the time, but I am learning to love it just a little more and more. I really like jalapenos. I like the freshness that they add to a salsa, citrus or when added to a recipe with coconut milk. When I took a cooking course at The French Mint - the instructor said that the the 'hot spot' of the pepper is the 'pith' - the whiteish soft tissue-like in the inside. I always thought it was the seeds. Now, when I do add a jalapeno to anything I usually use my mini food processor to chop it all up - but I first take out the pith and then add a bit in if I want it to be spicier.
Jalapeno. Oh - when you say this word - don't pronounce the 'J'. Pretend that the 'J' is a 'H'.
My other new 'like' are Chipotle peppers. I quite enjoy them. I enjoy the smokey taste of them. I have had them in dishes in restaurants, but haven't cooked with them before. Last week for our Appy Party - I picked up a can to add to the soft chicken tacos that I made. There is a wonderful little Mexican Grocery downtown - which is where I also picked up the delicious corn tortillas. The sweetest lady, who worked there, told me to only use one chipotle pepper at at time - open the can - put it into something to store in the fridge, but only use one. I took her advice. Except for last night's appy.
Sorry - did you just say 'rebel'? I thought you did. Oh ya - that's how I roll.
Chipotle Chicken Wings
1 dozen chicken wings
2 chipotle peppers
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of the chipotle pepper sauce (from the can)
Juice of one lime
2 tbsp of ketchup
Pre-heat the oven to 400.
Line a baking sheet or dish with aluminum foil - then place a baking rack (that can go in the oven) on top of the foil. This way when the chicken cooks the fat drips off making the chicken nice and lean. Season the wings with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper.
Bake for 35 minutes - until lightly crispy.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, chop the garlic. Add the juice of the lime and a pinch of kosher salt, and blend again. Add in the chipotle peppers and the sauce and give it another chop so that the peppers have broke down. Add in the ketchup and give it one last pulse.
Pour the chipotle sauce into a bowl and then toss the cooked wings in this. Place them back on the baking rack and cook for another 15 minutes. (I just brushed my wings with sauce, but will definitely toss them in a bowl next time)
And that's it. They're ready to serve. The chicken is crispy, full of flavour and deelish. These will definitely make an appearance again, soon I think. I have one more pepper left.
Alright - we are sitting in for the day. Part of me is feeling a bit guilty because it is so lovely outside - but it's been a long week - we were up early for a dog walk, a hard workout and lunch and ice cream in Cowichan Bay - so we're just chillin'.
I hope that you're all enjoying your Saturday.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Today I went to the Gymnasium after work. More like - Gym-NASTY-um. Oh that place. Oh that treadmill is my nemesis. Today this happened during my 35 minute running career:
- I started out strong. I told myself to run with my head high and my shoulders back. I felt great.
- I didn't even notice that there was a timer, timing me.
- I walked fast and then went to a jog. 4 minute run, 1 minute walk.
- There was a woman speed walking on the treadmill beside me.
- I do this weird thing in my head. I feel that the people beside me are watching how fast I am, how long I am running for... I know that they aren't. I am sure that they have better things to do with their time. Anyways, when I 'feel' this way - I tell myself to run hard, be strong - b/c then maybe I will be some sort of inspiration to them to do better. I know - it's dumb. I just can't help it.
- 18 minutes into it - I sort of notice that there is a timer. I curse it slightly.
- 19 minutes into it - I curse myself for drinking too many beverages during the day. Water, crystal light iced tea, tea, water, Coke Zero, water.... I like to stay hydrated
- 20 minutes into it - I start to feel my butt cheeks - not as muscular as they should be.
- 22 minutes into it - I want to break the timer with my water bottle that is banging around the holder.
- 22 minutes to 28 minutes into it - I'm not really sure. I just hope that I stayed running on the treadmill - and didn't fall off and cry.
- 28 minutes into it - I finish my last run - I am panting somewhat unladylike.
- I reward myself with a 3 minute cool down and remind myself that I did it.
I try to be positive when I am at the gym - but that voice in my head - the one my brother calls the 'best salesman' - is always so apparent. Tomorrow when I am at my desk and trying to talk myself out of going to the gym I will just tell myself that I can do it, I will do it, and I am doing it.
Tonight is Game 1 for our Canucks. I like to call them 'our'. They're our boys. They have been in our Suite B almost every night. We will watch them faithfully and hope for the best.
Now - let's get to the food. Food!
We are trying to eat a lot more seafood. I love it. LOVE. C likes it. And some of it he loves. The other night at the Appy Party we went to - Vinnie made halibut bites with homemade tartar sauce - and they were DEELISH. C hasn't stopped talking about them.
The other night I made up a quick dish - almost Fast Food. I used salmon - but I think that any fish would work.
Coconut Salmon Stew
I am not really sure if this is a 'stew' - but it sort of is - and Chris named it.
1 tsp coconut oil*
1/2 pound of salmon - cut into cubes - probably about 4-5 cups
1 can of light coconut milk
Juice of one lime
1 jalapeno - finely chopped - keep the pith if you want it super spicey
3 cloves of garlic - I used my microplane - it is my new favourite way to prep garlic
1 tbsp of fresh ginger - same method as the garlic
1 red pepper - cut into thin slices
4 small bunches of baby bok choy - or one large bunch - cut into thin strips
1 cup of grape tomatoes
*Coconut oil - this is my new favorite thing. I am using it in place of oil or butter whenever I can. It comes in a small container and is hard like cold butter.
In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic and ginger. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add in the pepper and saute for a minute or two. Add in the coconut milk, and the lime juice. Add in the salmon, jalapeno, bok choy and let simmer. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and let simmer for another 5 minutes or so. And right before you are ready to serve, add in the chopped fresh cilantro.
Serve over brown rice - and your tummy will thank you.
Alright Wednesday night fans - I hope that you are watching the game and PVR'ing 'Real Housewives of Vancouver'. What? Sorry? What? PVR'ing what?
Monday, April 9, 2012
Happy Easter Monday!
It's hard to believe that Easter has come and gone. I love Easter weekend - I love that there is usually a 4 day weekend, there's usually lots of chocolate, friends and family, spring is here summer is just around the corner.
We had a pretty lovely weekend around here. We hung out together. We went to some friends for a hockey game and dinner. I had a hard workout with my friend, Tanya, aka El Diablo. WE did brunch with my mom at The Empress. I had a nap. We had lots of dog walks. We went to friends for an Appy Party - good friends and such good food.
For the Appy Party - I made chicken tacos with a peach cilantro salsa - I have made it before. You can check it out HERE.
Maegan's daughter was the Judge for the night - picking the best appy. Her son was one of the key testers and had the most poetic things to say about the food that he was tasting. After he had a bite of the chicken taco, he said, and I quote: "I wish I was dreaming. And in my dream I was prancing through a field of tacos". Chris rates my food - and I love it when I get a 5 - but pretty sure that this was the best compliment ever.
Our friend Sara, made the most delicious dessert. A pound cake with fresh strawberries and Lemon Curd. Oh my. Deelish. Maegan's son's comment for her dish was: "I wish that I was in a bed of strawberries and the lemon curd was my blanket". I was wishing the same thing. Well sort of. He said it way more poetically than I did. What I was actually thinking was - I wish that no one was here right at this moment, and I would grab a straw and guzzle all of that lemon curd". But, I am ladylike - so I just decided drizzle a wee bit on some strawberries and a piece of the pound cake.
If you are interested in trying lemon curd - although this isn't Sara's recipe - it was quite deelish when I made this last year.
So we whipped up a turkey on Friday. Really - like it took no time at all. It was just a small 10 pounder. We did the usual mashed potatoes. And then we had far too many leftover. So, for tonight, I tried to do something a little different. Super easy - and quite tasty.
Mashed Potato Balls
2-3 cups of mashed potatoes
1 pack of shake and bake - crispy
Pre-heat the oven to 400.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Form the mashed potatoes into balls - about the size of golf balls. Add one of the mashed potato balls at a time to the shake and bake coating - and coat it generously.
Bake for 50 minutes.
The outside will be so nice and crispy and the inside will be so light and fluffy.
These were really quite tasty. And I know that many of you are probably thinking that you will never have Shake and Bake on hand - to be honest I am not really sure why I had it in the cupboard. It may be from C's cooking fest - that's one of his specialties - chicken with shake and bake and a bunch of veggies.
Alright - it's Monday night - it's time to wind down from a lovely weekend and plan for a lovely week.
Monday, April 2, 2012
I have been so excited to share my drive home story today. So good.
I had an appt after work - so my regular commute home - was different. I was coming through 'town'. I love that saying. 'Town' as in the main drag - through the main street - through city center. Town. That's something my grandma used to always say. That really just made me think of her.
Ok - so I was driving down the main drag, Douglas St., and I had 'One Life' by Hedley cranked. I really like that song. So I was coming up to a busy intersection and I looked over and there was a guy walking on the sidewalk with a window washer squigee (sp?) in one hand and with the other hand he was doing like a gangster wrap sign over and over. He was checking out himself in the bank window and just rocking out. He didn't have headphones on - so the music was obvious on his. Ok - so that made me laugh a bit.
The next thing I know - he is right beside me on the driver's side. He must have flown across 3 lanes of traffic - and ended up beside me. He scared the bajeezus out of me. Then he started spraying water bottle water with soap on my windshield. I shook my head 'no' - but I guess he wanted to do his own thing. I had a bunch of change in my cup holder - b/c the parking arcade gave me $18 worth of change in coin. Fun. So I gave him $1. He said that it was the sweetest thing - and then left. He didn't finish cleaning the windows though! And he freaked me out.
I couldn't help but laugh. I am sure that most people would have honked, turned on their window wipers and said bad words - I decided not to.
Last week I mentioned making a sugar free, gluten free treat. Do you remember? Hm. Well I found a recipe on a blog that I like - LoveLife. It's not a food blog - but she posted a recipe that I had to try. I have altered it a bit - I have made it twice - the second time was better.
Chocolate Gooey Puffed Rice Treats
1/4 cup of coconut oil*
2/3 cup of agave syrup
3 heaping tbsp of cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
5 cups of organic puffed rice**
*Coconut oil - it's almost like butter. I am hooked on this stuff. It's good for you and can take the place of butter.
**Organic puffed rice - I found a bag of this at SaveOn - they are very similar to rice krispies
Using coconut oil - grease a 9x11 baking dish.
In a medium sized pan - heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Once it is melted, turn up the heat a bit and add in the agave syrup and cocoa powder. Bring the temp up slightly again and it will start bubbling madly. Keep stirring it - and let it boil for about 3-4 minutes. You want to keep stirring it - to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla and give it a good stir. Then stir in the puffed rice - I like to add it in 3 batches - to make sure that it gets all coated evenly. Yumma.
Transfer the gooey goodness to the baking dish and refrigerate (for at least 30 minutes) before you dig in.
These are a nice treat.
Tomorrow night I am off to Colour Your Palate. Thanks to Denise from The French Mint . I won tickets!! I am so excited. I can't wait. I am going with my friend, Judy, and we are going to pig out - in a ladylike sort of way. I can't wait to share it with you.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
What a weekend. It's coming to an end. This weekend seems like it was in some way dedicated to food. Lots of cooking and lots of eating. Yumma.
Friday night - we had Karen and Randy in for dinns and a Canuck game. They are lovely friends to hang with on a Friday night. We started with corn tortillas with chicken, and a peach cilantro salsa, guacamole and our favourite tortilla chips. Then had mac and cheese with bacon and cauliflower, spinach salad and rosemary rolls. For dessert - peach crisp.
Saturday for lunch - I made quesadillas with the leftover chicken and salsa. Hoorah for leftovers.
Saturday for dinner - oh my - let me tell you. I went to Ulla with friends Maegan, Tracey and Sara. I had never been before - and I loved it. We all tried everything. It was a delicious feast.
salad of spring vegetables and leaves, goat yogurt, pickled cipollini, lemon oil dressing
herb crusted halibut, crispy brandade, white and green asparagus, lemon and black olive dressing
murci al vino goat cheese, quince, apple, hazelnut oil, sea salt crackers
chocolate cake, rice crispy crunch, dulce de leche cream, aerated chocolate, chocolate soilwild mountain huckleberries, limoncello sabayon, almond praline, creme fraiche ice cream
Here are some of the photos of the food.
That my friends is creme fraiche ice cream. HELLO!!! Hello? I said - creme fraiche ice cream. To die(t) for!!!!
The way that we decided to describe the food was - Westcoast Fresh. I love a good night of good food - but enjoy it even more when you have wonderful ladies to share it with.
Today - I decided to try and create something that Sara had with her pea soup for her appetizer.They were little crackers with minty pea and ricotta. I served these up for an appetizer before a spaghetti feast with Jules. Although the taste was nothing like what we had last night - they didn't turn out too badly.
Peas and Crackers
Two recipes in this one. Both so easy - and both quite tasty.
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
2 tbsp of cold butter
1/3 cup of skim milk
Sea salt for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 325.
In a bowl mix all of the dry ingredients. Add in the butter - and with a pastry cutter or two knives, cut up the butter into very small pieces. Slowly add in the milk - mixing as you go along. Eventually when the milk is added you will have a doughy texture. Split the dough into two even pieces - and roll out one piece at a time. (I only used one piece and froze the rest the other piece).
On a floured surface roll out the dough until it is very thin. With a sharp knife, I made my crackers rectangular in shape.
Place the crackers on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Add a bit of sea salt to the top of the crackers.
Bake for 18-20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack.
Basil Mint and Ricotta Peas
2 cups of frozen peas
8-10 basil leaves
5- 6 mint leaves
Zest of half a lemon
1/2 cup of light ricotta
Boil the peas for 2 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water and place in a bowl of ice cold water. This will stop them from cooking and keep their vibrant green colour.
In a food processor, chop the basil and mint leaves. Add in the drained peas with the zest and a couple of pinches of kosher salt. Puree. Add in the ricotta cheese and puree all together.
And that's it. Literally. So simple. So fresh.
Alright friends. I hope that you had a wonderful weekend. Tell me what you ate! I love hearing about it.