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A Recipe From My Boyfriend, Jamie Oliver.

I’m baaaaaaaaaack!

Pardon the long absence. Jamie and I have been just SO busy jetting around the world, saving kids from shitty school lunches and such that I just haven’t had time to do a review…. or a recipe.

How’s my boyfriend, Jamie Oliver you ask? Well… he’s super hot of course, cool and funny. We’ve been jetting here and there over the world.. interview, cooking demo’s.. etc. The media keep wanting to interview me but I just tell them no – I just can’t possibly stomach the paparazzi. They make up lies! They fabricate stories! They spread un-truths!

**blink** **blink**

Not like me at all.

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiigh ok ok ok.

So Jamie Oliver is NOT my boyfriend.. and I haven’t been jetting all around the world ok?? I’ve been at home, enjoying the quality half hour or so we spend together. Well, maybe not TOGETHER, together… and maybe it’s just me WISHING Jamie was my boyfriend. Can’t blame a girl, can ya?  I mean, look at him! ‘Nuff said.

Ok.. soooo… my REAL boyfriend, being all sweet and understanding, fulfilled my wishes and bought me a couple of Jamie’s cookbooks. Can I just say I was thrilled???

I looked and looked over those cookbooks, trying to decide which one of his recipes I’d attempt first.  Because I couldn’t really decide… I did the “open the book and make what you see”… method. (Remember this method? It was the same method I used choosing the recipe for dauphine potatoes from Anthony Burdain, here. )

Ok.. so the book is this one.

cookbook

and the recipe is:

Grilled Filet Steak with the Creamiest White Beans and Leeks
(*linked at the bottom)

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I was a little let down by the Recipe Choosing Gods because truth be told… I’m not a fan of lima beans. They’re “ok”, but really, they rank pretty low on my favorites list. But… choose me this recipe it did, so cook it I must. (Like that resolve?? lol)

Here we go.

So you slice up 4 leeks, nice and thin. My question that the recipe didn’t state was HOW MUCH of the leek did I cut? The whole white and green part? Because I have to say… the upper portion of the green parts on those leeks were like barn boards. TOUUUUGGGHH!!! I was going to call my brother who is a chef and ask him as he would most likely know. However.. I thought I should follow the recipe as it states, and figure this out on my own. That way, any mistakes I make, I can report to you – my illustrious, amazing readers – and you’d just think I’m amazing for saving you making the same mistakes! I’m so cool sometimes, it’s hard for me to stand it.

Leeks

Ok.. so I didn’t slice the woody ends. ONLY to the portion where it started to go thick and tough. After chopping, sweat them in a pan with garlic and a “knob” ( “Knob”.. funny word for a measurement. “knob” is probably a tablespoon or something – I’m guessing. Who knows? I wouldn’t mistake it for a stick of butter or anything………………… orrrr would I????? ).

Anyway, after they’re nice and soft, add a cup of white wine (any that you like to drink is fine.). Leave enough wine for you to enjoy after with the meal. Be it a glass, or the whole damn bottle.

Hey… I don’t judge.

Turn the heat up and bring this to a boil. At this point, the lima beans can join the party. Please be sure to rinse them from the can because you don’t want any mushy grossness from the bottom of the can being a party crasher.

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Add them to pot with a “splash” of water (I added about a 1/3 cup of water). Turn the heat to simmer and let it do its thing for about 5 – 10 minutes.

mixture

In the meantime…….

Season your steaks. I used just top sirloin cuts. Nothing fancy. Place them in a screaming hot pan and fry those lovelies on both sides for a few minutes a piece. You don’t want to over cook them. Take them out and let them rest.

Back to your beans, add the crème fraiche, give it a stir. The recipe says to add a glug of olive oil but I left it out, as I didn’t think it was needed really, but that’s my thing. If you want to , go ahead and glug away!

Slice your steaks into thick strips. Divide the bean mixture between the plates and add the steak strips on top.  Here’s my final masterpiece:

dish

My review? Considering I’m not crazy about recipes with beans and leeks, this was quite good. The leeks were sweet and tender, and the beans were nice and soft and creamy. Surprisingly, they really showed off the flavor of the wine. Combined with the PERFECTLY cooked steak (If I say so myself!) I thought overall, the dish was quite nice. Easy to make and VERY filling. Who thought??

Did it blow me away? No. Would I make it again? Maybe….. and only if I knew the people I was making it for liked leeks and lima beans. If you met people like that, make this for them!

You’ll be a rock star :)

If you decide to try the dish, please let me know what you think of my boyfriend’s recipe.

Ok, ok… my PRETEND boyfriend!

Don’t judge.

Just go make the recipe. ;)

Recipe:

http://www.fabulousfoods.com/recipes/jamie-oliver-s-grilled-steak-with-white-beans-and-leeks

Auntie Christine’s Household Hints! #2 – Vinegar!

Alrighty friends and neighbors! Short and sweet today – we have another handy household hint from Auntie Christine’s Heinz’s vinegar books!  Aunt Chris bought me a series of these handy household hint books written by Christine Halvorson. They’re filled with great, practical ideas to use everyday pantry items (vinegar, salt, baking soda) in great ways around the house!

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Remember, this is your regular, run of the mill white vinegar that you buy at the grocery store!

Today’s hint is if you have an ink stain on a carpet, rug or piece of clothing, you should blot the ink spot immediately (of course).  THEN, spray the area with HAIR SPRAY! Yes.. that’s right, bust out your can of “Beautynet” or whatever kind you use, and go to town. The hair spray should dissolve the ink spot and once it’s completely gone, work a solution of half white vinegar and half water to completely remove any residual spray!

A Chocolately, Pumpkiny TWO Ingredient HUG

Who doesn’t like two ingredients recipes? Seriously, I’m always curious about these ideas. I read the “recipe” and ask myself………. “really?”

Like, “Could it BE just that easy??”

Ok, I didn’t actually ask myself that. I just thought “Hey, seems like a cool idea that I need to try”.

I’ve tried other minimal recipe desserts before like THIS one. Oh, and  remember the CHEATER COBBLER? That one as was a two ingredient recipe as well. Both of those recipes turned out pretty damn well, I have to say. ESPECIALLY the Cherry Chocolate Cake. Oh lawdy, was it good!

So in the spirit everything pumpkin this season, I bring you another two ingredient, Thanksgiving/fall/pumpkin themed type recipe that seriously makes you want break out the sweat pants and fuzzy slippers, and get ready for the coming hibernation.

Alright! First up, here’s your ingredients!

One Chocolate Brownie Mix (any brand you prefer)
One 15 ounce can of Canned Pumpkin (or Pumpkin Pie Filling)

That’s it! I know, it’s easy isn’t it? I love easy!
(don’t go there.)

Moving on, here’s the photo of the ingredients:

pumpkin brownies 3

*NOTE: In the photo above, you’ll see that I bought the 540ml (18 ounce) can because that’s all they had. I weighed 15 ounces and it came to roughly 3/4 of the can.  Please keep this in mind when making your own, and adjust according to the can you buy.

Here’s how you do it!!

1. Preheat your oven to 350!

2. Empty the box of brownie mix and about 15 ounces of the pumpkin pie filling into the cake mix and mix together.

I know, pretty difficult so far, right?

pumpkin brownies 4

3. Now, you don’t need it, but I happen to seriously love anything pumpkin spice.

So you can add up to a teaspoon of pumpkin spice to the mix to “make it sing”

( I DESPISE that term, but it’s really the only word I thought appropriate to explain what I”m trying get across).

So I added 1/2 a teaspoon.

Twice. :)

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4. Next, pour the mixture into a parchment lined 9 x 9 or 8 x 8 pan. No parchment?

No problem!

Grease the hell outta the pan, and you’ll be fine.

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So the recipe that I followed which is here, calls for baking the brownies for 25-30 minutes until set. I found that I had to double that time to make it work, so you might wanna keep an eyeball  on the pan just to make sure it’s baked thoroughly. No one likes raw brownie dough…… I think anyway. Maybe it’s like a raw cookie dough concept?  Meh, not for this chick – I like my baked desserts… BAKED.

When a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean, you’re good to go.

Let cool COMPLETELY before you decide to frost or sugar these babies.

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Ok. So let me tell you, this isn’t your typical brownie. It’s more dense, and has a soft pumpkin flavor mixed with the chocolately goodness of the brownie. Be warned though, my gorgeous reader. If you like the flavor of chocolate, this chocolate brownie with the chocolate frosting can quell any chocolate craving you might have. HOWEVER, the denseness of these brownies from the pumpkin seem to almost intensify the chocolatey taste to the point that well,… it’s teetering on craziness.

I ADORE chocolate, and ONE small brownie with the frosting was enough to lull me into sweet, dreamy chocolate land, where one might be tucked into their chocolate bed and given chocolate kisses and yummy chocolate hugs sprinkled with warm pumpkin spices.

Yes. It’s like that.

JUST like that.

Yeaaahhhh.

This Happened.. with a Tomato.

TOMATO PATTIES
(pictures below)

“Tooooo many tomatoes!!!!!!!”,  said you.

Is that what you’ve been saying lately as you survey your garden? A little over zealous when you planted your little starlet seedlings, hmm? I can hear it now ” Ooohh, I’m going to can/freeze/dehydrate tons of tomatoes, and I’m gonna make stewed tomatoes, salsa, and TONS of healthy sauce!”.

I know, because I said the same thing.

While the tomato plants on my side of the world aren’t quite ruby-red globes yet, (and I can see I have a shitload coming), I know in other spots of the world they are screaming to come off the vine. What do to with all of them is what’s playing on every well-intentioned gardeners mind.

So when you’re all salsa’d out,  you can’t stand the thought of ANOTHER can of tomato sauce, and every neighbor in a mile radius of you pretends not to see you when you offer them a basket like a Price is Right model,…….. try this recipe.

Oooh I’m telling you, this recipe is fanfreakintastic! If you like the combination of bacon and tomato………. wait… what am  I saying.. “IF”???? EVERYONE likes that combo and if you don’t, well, I’m breaking up with you, because I can’t be friends with people who don’t like a bacon tomato combo, I mean come on!!!

In an effort to eat less carbs lately, (namely anything starchy and white) I skipped the BLT sandwich idea. Here’s the better plan:

A good size tomato.

Slice thickly (3 slices).

Dredge the slices first in coconut flour, then egg, then in seasoned almond flour mixed with shredded parmesan cheese. You can choose any seasoning your beautiful heart desires. I chose a bit of seasoning salt, rosemary, lemon pepper seasoning and some garlic powder.

3

Fry till golden on each side.

2

Plate.

Dollop on a bit of sour cream, bacon and then finish with chopped chives (I used dill, because I didn’t have any chives).

1

Oh sweet momma. The rich, tomato-y freshness that contrasts off the salty bite of the bacon, mixed with the creaminess of the sour cream, is a combination that could make the heavens open  and harps play Queen’s “We are the champions”. … Ok, maybe not THAT song, but something just as triumphant. Seriously my lovies, this recipe is amazing.

I’ve seen a different version of this miracleness made by what has to be one of the hottest chefs in Canada. Like.. SUPER hot. If you’re thinking Chef Chuck Hughes, you’d be right. Clean the drool off your lip, I know.. I know….. he’s so sexy right?  His version was to dredge the tomato in your standard flour egg and panko mix, and instead of bacon, he used pancetta.  So yeah… pancetta, shmancetta!!! Bacon works just as well if you’re not feeling fancy.

You could serve these as the headliner on your plate with a side salad, or they can easily play co-star as the side dish. This is a fresh, cheap, SUPER TASTY way to enjoy your summer bounty.  If you brought these to a barbecue in the neighborhood, I’m pretty sure you’d be the one most talked about…………………………………….. in a good way.

What are some of the ways you’re going to use your summer tomatoes? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Nothing Rhymes with Tutti Frutti for Breakfast.

My BFF and I had tons of catching up to do after my fabuloso trip to AZ, so we thought we’d do that over breakfast. Wanting to try a new spot, she suggested Tutti Frutti.  Hey, I didn’t name it folks and for some reason, it reminds me of a cooler, cuter sister to Cora’s.

Relatively easy to find in a new area of the Park and it wasn’t busy considering it was a sunday morning. Decor is nice, a mixture of booths and tables and we were seated almost immediately upon walking in. The menu is already at  your table, so we could get right to work on ordering our grub. Our waitress was friendly and new, and every question she didn’t know, she went to find out and came back with answers pretty damn quick. This impressed me.

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I ordered the Raspberry Crisp : crunchy french toast topped with english cream & raspberry coulis and Kim ordered “Entre les deux” : french toast sandwich with egg, ham & swiss cheese plus lots of fresh fruit.

So first up, my Raspberry Crisp (and a side of bacon, cuz breakfast is a waste of time without bacon).

Here’s the Raspberry Crisp French Toast pic:

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So at first peep it looks pretty awesome, right? Yeah!….. well, kinda yeah.

One small problemo.

See, Kim and I were sharing our breakfasts so we could both taste what each other ordered. So I gave Kim the first two pieces of toast. Look at the picture again, and imagine it for a second folks with the top two piece of toast missing off the plate. What am I left with? Two pieces of french toast with NO topping… ok, very little topping. The cream and raspberry coulis were decorating only the very top quarter of the toast that was underneath the first layer.

Pas bonne people, pas bonne.

I asked for extra coulis and cream so I could actually get a proper idea of what the breakfast should be like. The toast had a really nice crunch to it (dipped in panko maybe?) and the raspberry coulis was SUPER fresh tasting. The cream added an extra rich touch to it. My biggest complaint about the dish is that the portion size was geared for Godzilla. Honest to God folks, who eats FOUR pieces of TEXAS TOAST for breakfast??????? So, a heads up to you, my dear reader – This dish is EASILY shared between two people.

I asked for crispy bacon on the side:

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It was waaay crispy. Like, crumble apart crispy.

Too crispy for me, but if you think I waved a dismissive hand to it, you’d be wrong. I ate that too crispy bacon because the bacon bible says it would be a sin to leave it uneaten.

Kim’s French Toast Sandwich (with a side of fried bologna):

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If you’re thinking that the “french toast” part of the sandwich doesn’t look very french toasty, you would win the prize. This apparent french toast was not eggy like the french invented it to be. It was like toasted bread with ham and swiss on it.

Oh..Ummm, I think they call that  A TOASTED SANDWICH???

Not impressive.

The fruit on the side was fresh and plentiful and the fried bologna was good as well, according to Kim. Who doesn’t like fried bologna? If you don’t, you should. You really really should.

All in all, the service was great but I found the prices were expensive for the quality of the food, to be honest. I’m cheap, but my breakfast with coffee, tax and tip was almost $21.00. For that money, I expect better quality for BREAKFAST food, folks.

Would we come back? We both agreed that we would, but we wouldn’t stand in line if it was busy and we would definitely share a main breakfast dish with a side order of something to supplement.

Tutti Frutti Breakfast and Lunch on Urbanspoon

Easy! Moist! Cherry! Chocolate!……..Yes!

Slice2

Wait… what???

I’m talking CAKE people. CAAAKE!!
I can see most male readers exiting right at the word cake. It’s all good.
We women understand the power that those words hold in that title.
Sounds sexy though, doesn’t it?

That’s because it is.

What more can you want? Luscious chocolatey Devils Food cake, dotted throughout with juicy cherries, all topped with a rich, chocolatey glaze that adds a moist denseness to the cake that you would make you run, arms flailing and screaming gibberish, naked in the streets for.

Well, maybe the naked part’s just me.

Moving on, this is an impressive cake that’s one of the most simplest “hacks” I’ve made yet. I actually laugh out loud, all jolly-like, at how easy this recipe is.

Three super simple ingredients: Devil’s Food Cake mix – now, this could be any chocolate cake mix you wanted to use folks, but I like to get all “gourmet” on things, so I sprung for the fancy box. I know, you’re impressed, no need to be coy. Three (3) eggs, and a can of cherry pie filling finishes the list.

I know, crazy simple right?

*laugh out loud all jolly-like with me now*

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 pan . I used my fancy Pampered Chef Stoneware Bunt Pan. Oh btw… Pampered Chef didn’t pay me to say that…. or use even use it. I came up with the idea ALL on my own….. Ok, not really, I actually read it somewhere but it rolls with the whole gourmet theme I had going on.

Now comes the hardest part of the whole recipe.
Ready???

cakehack2

Open that crazy cake mix box. Open the bag inside. Pour the contents in a bowl. (Put the empty box in your recycle bin. Think of the kids.) Crack in your eggs over the cake mix. Open the can of pie filling. Scoop it in the cake mixture. Miiiiiiiiiiiiix it all around. Don’t do a cyclone type mix… just gently incorporate it all together really well. Sing a song, maybe.

Really hard to do, isn’t it?

Pour the contents into the pan and throw it in the oven.

DONE.

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Bake it for 35 – 40 minutes or until a tester of some sort comes out clean. I used a wooden skewer. If you’re using a bundt pan, it may take a few minutes longer but just babysit the bundt for a bit near the end of the cooking time.

While it’s baking, melt 1/2 cup of butter in a sauce pan. Add 5 tablespoons of cocoa, 6 tablespoons of milk, and a dash of vanilla, and bring to a boil. Combine that mixture into 3 1/2 cups of icing sugar and mix together. You want the consistency of thick syrup. Add a bit more milk by the tablespoon if you need to loosen the glaze.

This is the lusciousness that will top your sexy cake.

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I turned out the cake onto a stand and poked holes all over that beauty with that same wooden skewer used earlier for testing. Slowly drip the glaze over the cake’s chocolatey goodness, letting it ooze into the inner depths of it to keep it even moister. Put some love into the whole process.

If you’re a foodie like me, you may need moment at this point. Its sheer beauty may make you shed a tear. It’s OK honey, revel in all its super sexy splendor.

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After the glaze sets, you can slice it. (That is, if you can wait that long.). Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely sure there are other cake recipes out there that will rival this one. HOWEVER. This recipe has the EASY factor pulling it ahead of all others. You can whip up this gorgeousness in less than five minutes for the oven, and have an impressive dessert finished in about an hour.

G’head. Make it. You’ll see.

This cake will impress all your friends, you’ll be the talk of the town at the church picnic, local PTA meeting, or potluck. (Also, keep in mind, that always special PMS mood would partner fantastically with this cake as well….. Just sayin’).

Lastly, you can always enjoy that moment alone with just you and the cake piece of cake, feeling that special “feel good” power of  The Cherry Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake…….. just for the hell of it.

Speaking of just for the hell of it, why not click to follow/subscribe link to my blog? You’ll get a notification every time (no spam) there’s a new cool recipe or review that I’d love to share with you!!

Is Common Ground Cafe……. common?

Common Ground Cafe
50 Brentwood Blvd Sherwood Park, Ab

My friend and I decided to try out Common Ground Cafe on a recent friday for lunch. She had already eaten, so it was just me who would try out the tasties.

The decor is SUPER cute.  A cute little “foyer” of sorts greets you when you arrive and they have on locally made crafts for sale.  QUALITY stuff, folks.  Btw, the purses/bags they have on display there are KICKASS BEAUTIFUL! I wish I would have got the name of who makes them, but I didn’t. You’ll have to just get your ass in there to check them out yourself.

Tables are topped with re-claimed barn wood, all rustic and warm feeling, and even the chairs have little crocheted socks on them!

Table Table2

Yeah, ok, who cares that the little socks are so the feet of the chairs don’t scratch the floor, it’s a cute touch!  The art on the walls showcase local artists that incidentally, like the purses and jewelry, are also for sale. Trust me when I say (cheap ass that I am) they are selling them TOO CHEAP! The art is really, really reasonably priced people. I was impressed with both the quality and the price.

Art

The menu is somewhat limited, (they don’t offer everything under the sun), but that being said, there are plenty of things to choose from. You can have everything from healthy rolled oats or a bagel with cream cheese, biscotti (regular and gluten-free), muffins, cookies, brownies, etc. They usually feature 3 or so soups for lunch and offer a nice selection of coffees and teas, along with locally made specialty drinks (Honey Spice brand) and sodas.

So I ordered a London Fog tea. This is a newly re-discovered beverage for me.  I remember drinking them back in my twenties when I thought I was more awesome than I’d EVER be when I was my …. 40’sh… age now.

Turns out, I’m crazy awesome now. (Take THAT, 20-year-old me!)

Anyway, this drink is Earl grey tea made with steamed milk, and a dash of vanilla syrup. Simple, but ohhh SO good! I’ve seen recipes where they recommend steeping the tea with a few lavender buds, but I have yet to try that. The tea that was made for me had a perfect sweetness to it, a nice vanilla hint that didn’t overtake the taste of the tea, and a nice thick, milky foam on top.

Comforting like a blankie hug.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you.

So comforting in fact, I had two.

I ordered their Lazy Perogy Casserole soup. Yeah.. I know… casserole or soup?? Hey… I’m always up for a mystery, so I tried it.

Here are the photos, take a peek:

Perogy2 perogy1

Doesn’t look that appetizing does it? Looks thick and heavy.  Well let me tell you, I’m half Ukrainian people, and a self-professed Perogy Snob, so that automatically extends to a Lazy-Perogy snob. That being said, this ……. soup?, was INCREDIBLE.  The rich flavor of a super cheesy casserole with pasta was dilectable! There was a slight crunch from onions that were cooked, but not strong tasting that added a nice textural component.  I was really surprised at just how much flavor this little bundle of happiness possessed. (AND FILLING – Don’t let the portion size fool you!)

If it were me making it, the only changes that I would do to make it out of this world, insanely good, would be to loosen the mixture a tiny bit more with cream… (listen, calories/shmalories, go big or go home), a dash or two of dill, and upon serving, a nice little sprinkle of bacon. But that’s just me and my snobby ways.

I WILL order this dish again.

I have to add, everything on their menu is REASONABLY priced, ($4.50 for the soups WITH a biscuit!). It’s almost bordering on stealing.

Ok… NOW to the best part.

The special part about this little sweet gem of a cafe people, is that they are a not-for profit establishment.

I KNOW RIGHT????

The whole concept is to build a stronger sense of community within Sherwood Park and it’s run by volunteers.  This is a whole new idea that Sherwood Park hasn’t seen before, and really goes against the grain of what most businesses are all about. However, not only are they providing Sherwood park with a greater sense of a community connection, I think unknowingly, they are also selling an experience within the cafe. When you normally spend your money in any other establishment, you really don’t think anything  about it. But with Common Ground, the prices are so reasonable, it’s not for profit, so you actually FEEL GOOD spending your money there. The food and goods they sell are quality products, the volunteers are charming and sweet, there are lots of opportunity to share community ideas and events at the front foyer. The chairs and tables are comfortable with some sofa chair type seating as well that’s perfect for that catch up convo with your friends, they have a stand of game boards and children’s books if your interested, AND they have a free wi-fi.

What more can you want?

So how common is Common Ground Cafe?  Turns out, not common at all.

And it’s a very good thing.

Get out there, meet your neighbors, and at the very least, support this truly wonderful cafe.

It’s worth it!

CTV news came out and did a feature on them. Click the link to check it out!
http://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=307720