Sunday, 30 September 2012

Inspired by Jen

You might remember a few weeks ago when I posted a picture with a huge bowl of tomatoes and asked you to guess how many was in it. If you don't, I promised the winner would get a tomato recipe named after them and now it's time to unveil the winner's yummy recipe. 

Jen Campbell guessed 300 tomatoes and was only 4 tomatoes off from the total of 304 tomatoes in the bowl! So today I am sharing a recipe inspired by Jen. 

At first I thought I could take the cheesy route and make a tomato soup, naming it something like "The New Campbell's Tomato Soup", but I decided that wasn't a great idea. I like cheesy, but that would be taking it too far. 

Instead I decided on creating a Roasted Tomato and Garlic Hummus recipe because I know Jen loves hummus. Ready for the recipe? Read on for it!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Belgium Fiasco!

This is my 300th blog post (I didn't know I had so many recipes to share!) and I thought it would be a great time to let you have a laugh with me. Are you ready? 

I am calm, cool, and collected when I cook in my own kitchen. I know where all my ingredients are, I keep my shelves well organized, and I'm at home there. But throw me into another kitchen and I'm thrown off balance. 

When I was visiting my family earlier this month, I brought a deep dish Belgian waffle maker with me as a gift. I know you shouldn't give appliances as gifts, but my mom had told me about yeasty, airy, delicious Belgian waffles that she'd been indulging in at her favourite restaurant and I thought she'd love the chance to make them at home. 

I was right about that, but I should have let her make them because what I made was one of the worst things I've ever put in my mouth. It wasn't that I can't make waffles. I really can! It was more that I wasn't used to my mom's kitchen and especially because all the ingredients in her cupboards aren't labeled... 

I pulled out a large jar of white granules, thinking it was sugar, but I managed to add a half cup of salt to the recipe instead! I just thank my lucky stars that I caught my mistake right before that batch of waffles made it to the table! I can't even imagine my mom's face after her first big bite of eating them...

As it turned out, the salty batch was made from a flawed recipe. The batter was way too thick, so we tried again and made another batch with a new recipe- a true Belgian waffle, complete with a light interior. A batch made with a little sugar and without a half cup of salt!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Asian Gravy

I love homey family dinners like turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy or roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and gravy. I love the feeling of warmth and love those kinds of meals bring to the table and I guess you could also say that I love gravy! 

But I also love Asian cuisine and gravy isn't found in Asian cuisine very often. At least it hasn't been found in Asian cuisine until now! 

Today's post is all much my take on an Asian "gravy". My gravy isn't a stock based gravy, it's coconut milk and peanut butter based sauce. And I'd probably suggest putting it on rice instead of mashed potatoes, but I think you could try it on anything you like. :) 

Want to know my recipe? Read on to find it out!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Dino-mite Side

When I head to a Farmer's Market, I feel like a kid heading to a candy store. I never know exactly what will be there but I know I am going to find a few treats to take home with me. And I know I am going love each and every treat!

Farmer's Markets make me feel happy because I get to support local farmers, I get to take home beautiful, fresh produce, and I find new types of produce that my grocery store doesn't carry. It's basically a no-lose situation!

The last time I was at a Farmer's Market I discovered a new to me type of kale. The stalks in the middles were almost non-existant and that meant less work in preparing my side dish. Plus the leaves looked cool, like a scaly dinosaur. Little did I know, but the kale is actually called Dino Kale! 

Ready to cook, I headed home and made an easy side that made me smile as much as I did at the Farmer's Market. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Fruit, Nuts, Marshmallows, Oh My!

There are few stories my mom's told me about her childhood that have stuck in my head the way that this story has. This story always brings a smile to my face and makes me happy my mom is who she is - someone who appreciates the little things and enjoys life.

Years ago, when my mom was a child, she collected box tops from Pillsbury products to send away for a plastic Pillsbury Dough Boy toy. When she collected enough, she sent the box tops away, and waited patiently.

This is the point in the story where I picture my mom checking her mailbox everyday after school in hopes that her parcel will have arrived. Isn't that what everyone does when they're expecting something in the mail? I still do!

When the box with my mom's present finally arrived at her house, it was one of her most exciting days. She opened the box up and she says she'll never forget the sweet smell of her new friend. She played with her Dough Boy, and later Dough Girl, often. And of course they always came out when it was time to cook!

Hearing this story makes me love Pillsbury products more than I already did, so I was really excited to try the new Pillsbury Chocolatey Crescents. I think they were great prepared as is with chocolate inside and out, but I also got a little creative my treats and added some pistachios to the middle of some of my treats, marshmallows to to the middle of others, and dried cranberries to a couple of the middles too.

All my versions were delicious but I as soon as I popped my batch into my oven, I had another great idea. Why not try adding a little cream cheese and freeze dried strawberries to the chocolate filling for breakfast?

Luckily, I've got a second box in the fridge! I can try it tomorrow!

If you're looking for a really creative way to use Pillsbury Crescents, try my yummy Mushroom Caps. I wrap Pillsbury Crescents around the mushroom caps to give my appys a fluffy crust and avoid drippy messes. Of course, I am talking about the original Crescents now. I don't think chocolate would pair well with mushrooms!

“Disclosure – I am participating in the Life Made Delicious Ambassador Program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Better Breakfast Month!

The old adage “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like pauper” may sound surprising, but, when you realize how important the first meal of your day is, you will understand why the entire month of September has been devoted to eating better breakfasts and why that old adage speaks the truth.

Breakfast can be broken down into two words, “break” and “fast”, or “breaking the fast” and those two words are what eating breakfast is really all about. Many people eat dinner in the evening and don’t eat again until the next day, about 12 hours, and that’s a long time. Breaking this fast with a balanced meal that contains all the food groups can kick start your metabolism and help you to start the day a happier and healthier person.

Skipping breakfast also means that you won’t be able to focus. You’ll be trying to hide the sounds of your stomach growling, thinking of snacking, and not fully concentrating on your work. All that because your body is starving, literally!

If you don’t eat until lunch, your body will put itself into survival mode by storing all the fat it can kind. This means that not eating breakfast can actually make you gain weight, instead of losing it like many people may think is the case.  

Finally, eating breakfast yourself is a great way to make sure your kids eat breakfast. And since school is starting this month, it’s a great time to start a tradition of eating a balanced breakfast everyday. Your kids will be happy campers at school and they will be able to focus to hopefully achieve As on their report cards too.  

Today I am sharing the first of two recipe for waffles that I enjoyed with my family while I was visiting them. Next weekend's waffle recipe is a true Belgian style waffle recipe with story that's little more on the funny side because I made a HUGE mistake while making it. I won't tell you what it was now, you'll have to join me next weekend to find out!

For now, here's a delicious recipe for waffles that will make your weekend breakfast better!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Herbes de Provence

Normally I don't like the thought of buying speciality ingredients for one dish because, for me, specialty ingredients are usually bought for just one dish and then clog up my cupboards waiting to be pulled out again. But, I've heard a lot about herbes de Provence lately and I needed to try them. 

After just opening the container of herbes de Provence and smelling what was inside, I had a pile of ideas flood into my head. I know this specially ingredient won't be clogging up my cupboards. I know I am going to try using this mixture of dried French herbs in lots of different dishes!

But first I'm going to share the dish that inspired my buying them in the first place - Chicken Breasts with Herb Roasted Tomatoes, inspired by one from Bon Appetit's August magazine. 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Hip Hip Brulee!

I love dessert and, if possible, I would enjoy a chocolate brownie, a piece of pie, a slab of cake, or a bowl of ice cream every single night. But unfortunately all my pants seem to keep shrinking in the wash and I can't imagine the thought of replacing my whole wardrobe, so I need to cut back on the calorie filled treats. 

Noticed I didn't say cut back on desserts? That's because there are so many delectable low fat creations that I don't need to resort to a sad and sweetless life. I just need to choose my desserts a little more carefully. 

This recipe for Creme Brulee is not what you're used to. It's not a high fat cream filled dish at all. It's a low fat dessert that's made with skim milk! And because I served it with berries, I think it's got an extra edge of being healthy. 

Ready for the recipe? I know you'll be singing hip hip brulee after just one bite, especially when you hear each serving has only 150 calories!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Blue Cheese Fiend

Lately I've had a hankering for blue cheese and I've been putting it in everything. I've put it on a beet salad, I've folded it into Twice Baked Potatoes, and now I'm putting it into a beautiful, fresh orange salad. 

I don't know what it is about blue cheese, but I think that it adds another dimension of flavour to almost any food. It pairs well with meat, potatoes, fruit, and veggies. I think the only thing it wouldn't taste good with is chocolate. 

And while I know everyone doesn't feel the same love I feel for blue cheese, I also know that those who love it, love it a lot. And those who love it should try this awesome salad. 

Read on for my recipe for Blue Cheese and Orange Salad. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

How Many Tomatoes?

There are so many lists of "super foods" that I don't know what to believe anymore. But if I had to name my own top ten list of super foods, I know that tomatoes would definitely be on it.

Tomatoes are full of antioxidants and that means that have a ton of health benefits. They have anti-cancer properties, provide cardiovascular support, support bone health, and are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Plus, tomatoes are a great addition to many recipes because they can add both a sweetness or an acidity to your cooking.

Tomatoes self seed at my cottage and spread like rabbits all over the gardens. But because they're so tasty and good for you, no one is complaining. In fact, I'm celebrating our wealth of tomatoes with a game. Check out the picture of tomatoes below and try and guess how many little gems are in the bowl. I counted the tomatoes twice myself so I know that my count is accurate!

Whoever guesses closest to the real number of tomatoes by the end of the day on September 20, 2012 will get a tomato-lious recipe named after them!

And to further celebrate my love of tomatoes, I've got a great Creamed Spinach with Grape Tomatoes recipe to share. The tomatoes' acidity offset the creaminess of the sauce and kick the whole side dish up a notch. Read on for how to make this tasty dish!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Cooking Club Challenge

You all must know that one of my hobbies is entering cooking and recipe contests. I love to cook and contests encourage me to get really creative in the kitchen by stretching my mind to come up with new ideas. Plus, there's the added bonus of getting a chance to win a prize!

Food Network Canada has a monthly contest where they ask everyone to cook a recipe of their choosing, take a photo, and send the photo in with a short paragraph about what you thought of the dish. 

This was my first time entering the contest and I won! I don't know what my prize is yet, but the day that it will come in the mail will be very exciting! 

You can check out a shot of my winning photo below or visit the Cooking Club Challenge webpage to see my photo and the recipe, Anthony Sedlak's Tangy Short Ribs with Coleslaw and Twice Baked Potatoes

I added some fresh apple cut into matchsticks, a touch of sesame oil to my coleslaw, and also folded a touch of blue cheese into my potatoes, but otherwise left everything as the recipe suggested. 

The only thing I don't agree with in the recipe is calling the potatoes Twice Baked Potatoes. At my house they're called Party Stuffed Potatoes, but that's a story for another day...

Monday, 10 September 2012

Mac and Mac Cheese

Sometimes I clue into why food pairs wells together really easily. But other times, after I finally make a connection, I can't believe I missed something that should have been really obvious. This is one of the times... 

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favourite comfort foods and I like to think I know quite a few combinations. I've made a Parmesan topped mac and cheese with a creamy pumpkin sauce. I've made a curry flavoured mac and cheese filled with tuna and a few kinds of cheese. I've even made a ham and pea soup mac and cheese with old cheddar. But I was sad to say I didn't connect using MacLearen's Imperial Sharp Cold Pack Cheddar Cheese to create a Mac and Mac Cheese earlier. 

The name is just as good as the end product, so I hope you give it a go! 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Cheery Cherries

There are a lot of foods that make me smile when I think of them. Dark chocolate, salty potato chips or popcorn, creamy cheese, or fresh cherries all do the trick for me. 

And when I get a chance to pile some of my favourite foods on top of each other and eat them all at once, I am a really happy girl. Can you guess what two of my favourite ingredients I'm combining today? 

It's not chocolate covered potatoes or cherry brownies, although both sound delicious! It's not cheesy popcorn either, but I might have some of that tonight! 

Today I am combining cherries and cheese! That combination might sound a little out there, but just wait until you taste my Cheery Cherry Relish on a cheeseburger. It's going to taste great!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Simple Summer Salad

Summer is a time for relaxation. Many people take time off work to spend time with family and friends, travel, or lay in the sun. Summer's a time to forget about worries and take a nap in the afternoon. And let's not forget, summer's hot!

When I am relaxing I don't want to cook big meals, especially big hot meals. But I still want to enjoy yummy meals and new combinations of food. 

This simple summer salad of tomatoes, beets, and blue cheese is a perfect example of what I think summer cooking should be. It's no work, it's cool, and it still tastes great!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Call to the Bar

I love oatmeal in the morning, especially when it's paired with fruit. So when I saw that this recipe had both fruit and oatmeal in it, I got really excited. I had found my next breakfast! 

At first I meant that as a joke, but after a bite, I caved. These Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars make take a while to bake but every second is worth it because they taste that good. 

After one bite I felt qualified to argue my opinion of eating them for breakfast. But, funny enough, no one argued with me. Everyone was happy to enjoy one along with their morning coffee!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Island Lunch

I love to pamper myself and dream I am in Hawaii with a little island meal, but most of Hawaiian lunches feel a little dull. There's Hawaiian pizza of course, but I've made that hundreds of times and it doesn't feel special anymore. There's a fruit salad... I'm not going to even try to make a point with that. And, since I am not going to make a pig underground, what else is there? 

Welcome to my BBQ Hawaiian Pizza Sandwich. This is a fresh take on island food and will make you happy. It's fun, made on the BBQ, the tomatoes turn into jam, and the ham turns into bacon. 

That's right, bacon ham. Read on to find out more!