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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:

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*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?

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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.

It honestly seemed like a good idea at the time…….

So in the whole spirit of low carbing, sometimes I get these……..um…… “brilliant” ideas. Yes my dear readers, let me introduce you to “breaded” low carb mozza sticks!!

Yummmmy!
Easy Peasy, right?
Let me show you how!!

In one container large enough to fit your average mozza stick, place a few tablespoons of almond flour.

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In another container, one beaten egg.

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In the last container, place a few tablespoons of coconut flour, and season it really, really well. I used seasoning salt, pepper, and other seasoning that suited my fancy at the time…. cuz I AM fancy.

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In a nice, super hot pan with oil (don’t let it smoke), place your “breaded” mozza stick and keep an eye on it. Keep flipping OFTEN, so it can brown nicely on all sides.

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Yep. Goooooooooood idea on paper folks.

But really?………………………..

BIG FAT FAIL.

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JUST DON’T DO IT..
Back to the drawing board.

It all happened when I had to redeem my crappy friend status……..

EL CORTEZ
TEQUILA BAR + KITCHEN
10322 83 Ave NW,
Edmonton, AB

“Ugh, I forgot to phone you back” I texted to her, feeling like a bag of shit. “No worries”, she said ” You can redeem your crappy friend status if you meet me at a new spot tonight that I’ve wanted to try for a while”, Brandy, (my cool, smart, witty friend who is a great foodie as well) bargained. “Hell ya!” I said, after taking a peek at the online menu.  By the way, I need to give a big shout out to restaurants who put their menu’s online. There’s nothing worse than the moment when you realize you hate everything on the menu, and so now you have no choice but to just get drunk because booze is all you can to order. It really cuts on down the awkwardness.

El Cortez is a new spot that’s opened in the old Sweet 69 space on Gateway Blvd Northbound. Now, to be fair, I don’t know a lot about mexican fare, but my girl Brandy does. She spent time traveling around Mexico and the girl can make a wicked taco – not to mention knowing her way around an excellent ceviche.  She would lead the evening in the food selections and I of course, would just be funny, gorgeous entertaining self.

I arrived before her, so I found a comfy seat by the window (picnic table style) and took a look around. Let me tell you, the decor in this place KICKS ASS!! I’ve not seen anything like it, and would hazard a guess that the rest of Edmonton hasn’t either. Brandy said she read somewhere that the decor could be described like an old gangster setup, rough and tough, all grafitti’d up and expectant of dude with a handlebar mustache (think Danny Trejo kinda, in “Machete”) to come in with guns a blazin’,… but then his girlfriend comes in and throws in her girly touch to the mix. (That’s the gist of what she was saying anyway.) Take a look at this awesome decor. It’s literally an exciting sight for bored eyes that are SO done with looking at the same old sleek-clean-lines-wood-steel decorating that tries too hard in that  “I’m trying to be cool” way.

There’s no trying here, El Cortez decor IS cool.

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Oh, our server was super cool too. She did a great job. She had great suggestions  – I wanted a fruity type drink, so she suggested one that was on the menu. Unfortunately, they were out of the alcohol needed to make it. (Ummmmm… On a thursday night, you’re out of booze for certain drinks on your menu??) So, I picked another drink off the menu:

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Wooooeeeeeee!!!! I took a sip, and instantly feared talking in the direction of the burning candle. Flame thrower is not a good look for any girl. Boooooozy!!! If your idea of a cocktail is pure alcohol, then you may like it.  But my inner alchie is a pansy-ass so I didn’t like the drink. Finally, I settled on a glass of white which was again, one of the servers suggestions, and it was fine.

Appetizers:

TAQUITO:  Ahi tuna wrapped in a tortilla with wasabi avocado crema, onion, pickle, tomato and watercress.

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This appetizer was DELISH!! The wrap was warm and crispy, the tuna firm and succulent. The wasabi crema could have been a bit more plentiful on the plate, but what was there added a slightly spicy creaminess that helped tone down the pickle on the crunchy onion. It all worked together wonderfully. Was it worth the 17 dollars for the appetizer?  No. However, it was pretty damn tasty.

 

CEVICHE: Albacore tuna, sweet potato, roasted corn, cilantro, chilies with tortilla chips3
Snoooore. This ceviche limped along, trying to act all ceviche like, but just couldn’t cut it. We even tried to help it by asking for extra lime and salt, but it was just no bueno. It was bland with the occasional hit of sweetness from the corn and… sweet potato. Sweet potato in a ceviche? That was a first for us but we were willing to keep an open mind, and it just didn’t cut it. It was a miss for both of us. However, I have to say, the tableware in this joint is INCREDIBLY gorgeous. Every dish was served on a great piece of pottery that gave it an authentic feel. I want to have it.
 
Now.
 
Ok, moving on……
 
Salad:
 
Watermelon Salad: Squares of watermelon with jalapeno, shallot, water cress, and torched queso with a tequila lime dressing.
 
 
 
 
 
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This salad sounded so delectable in words. I was SO excited because really, I could be a watermelon kingpin. I’d love to have a watermelon empire if I lived somewhere hot, because I simply love watermelon so much. Unfortunately, it almost whispered “sorry” to me when the server brought it our table. Again, cool ass plate, but approximately five pieces of watermelon with barely “torched” (not really even melted) cheese on top. If by saying onion, they meant radish, then that part was good and crispy, but I saw no onion on the plate. The dressing was nice, but I think they put chili oil on the plate as well? Sorry, another let down.
 
Tacos:
 
We ordered three kinds:
1.Fried cheese, jalapeno and mango slaw with bacon bits and crema

2. Beef cheek, poblano mole, queso fresca, guacamole and radish

3. Smoked pulled pork, kale kimchi, fried peppers and crema

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1. The fried cheese (top) – It was not bad. Again, nothing really bad about it, but nothing spectacular either. The mango was nice with it but it just needed something to bring it up a level or two…

2. The beef cheeks (left) – This was very rich. Beef cheeks are luxurious and unctuous to begin with and with a rich guacamole, it was rich on rich. The radish wasn’t enough to cut the richness, but again,
if you like rich on rich, you’ll love them.

3. Pulled pork (right) – Nice! Smoky flavor from the sauce in the pork and a little crunch from the fried peppers. The kale kimchi was a little lost, but this was good in general.

So overall, the food was………. lack luster. It had some really amazing stuff (the taquito) and a dish that really made it stumble (the ceviche). In between all that, were the salad and tacos that were simply average.  El Cortez can’t survive on the decor alone, and I hope that the menu works out the blandish kinks.  Brandy and  I both decided that as it now, it’s a great place to go after work for some drinks and an appetizer, but as a great dining experience… not so much. I think the items on the menu are great, but they just really need to be tweaked in terms of flavor. That being said, if they get the menu right, coupled with that kickass decor and cool ambience, they could have a super popular spot would do really, really well.

El Cortez Tequila Bar and Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Clarks is kinda Super, man..Hehe, I kill me.

Clarks Restaurant
Suite 170-130 Broadway Blvd,
Sherwood Park, AB

So you should know by now, my illustrious readers, that I like cheap. Not cheap quality mind you, but cheap price tags. I can appreciate quality in things and will happily pay for it. However, I can’t help but get all giddy and flushed when I find quality AND a cheap price in once spot.

I’ve been to this little gem called Clarks twice now in the last two weeks. Once for breakfast to meet a super cool friend of mine who sells sex toys for a living, (told you she was cool), and another time for lunch with my Mom. ( My mom doesn’t sell sex toys for a living, and while I thank God for that, she’s still cool.)

So I’m only going to review the lunch with Mom for this post because I wasn’t thinking to take photos of the breakfast I had with my cool friend, plus my Mom said “Hey, you should review this place”.

Smartypants.

Easy to find, this little spot has maybe 10 tables in the whole place, I think. Surprisingly, it was about half full at 12:30 in the afternoon, (thought it might be busier), but our server greeted us immediately when we walked in the door and brought us to a table. Taking our drink order and giving us menu’s she left us to decide.

The prices on this menu are amazing people! Mom ordered liver and onions (she could have ordered the senior’s size for $6.50 – one scoop of mashed potatoes with gravy, two pieces of liver, and vegetables – but she’s in denial about the senior thing I think – so she ordered the normal portion). She went on about how she hasn’t eaten liver for almost a year, and I reminded her that it’s been about 25 years since I’ve eaten it. I’d rather run naked through a cactus patch and bathe in a tub of vinegar than eat liver.

Ok, not quite, ….. but well, honestly?…… Maybe.

I ordered their house burger (can’t remember the name of it dammit!), but it had cheese, bacon and mushrooms on it with all the other burger paraphernalia, and fries. The price for that burger rang in at $8.99.

When the dishes came to the table, my mom seemed super pleased with her decision. She tried her first bite of the liver and looked up to the ceiling and said ” OH MY GOD” (all dramatic like),  with an added “this is the best liver I”ve had in a very long time!!”. The waitress came along and Mom repeated what she expressed loud enough for all the other tables sitting around us to hear, and then the waitress went straight away into the kitchen and you could her yell… “JUAN!! Hey JUUAAAAN!!! -The liver and onions are excellent she said!”.

She had started eating it by the time I took the photo.. sorry peeps, but here it is! :

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Mom figured the liver was slightly coated in a panko type coating and fried slightly crispy, but not like “shoe leather”. The gravy tasted home-style, the mash was smooth and creamy and she said the veggies were very good – fresh, not from frozen and  not overcooked. All this stupid excitement over the liver made me think I had to try it.

So I cut a very small piece and kinda dipped in some gravy.

It was crispy on the outside, tender, and still tasted disgustingly like liver to me. But I will admit, it was the very best of all the gross tasting liver I’ve ever had in my life.

For real – If you love liver,  you will love Clarks’ liver.

(Somehow that sounded weird, but you get what I’m saying)

My burger was pretty good. The patty was house made and slightly dense, almost overworked, but very tasty. The cheese and bacon were nice but it could have used a few more mushrooms. All in all, the portion size was more than worth that price tag. Hell, you’re gonna pay that same price pretty much at MacDonald’s and the patties there are like shingles.

Ma burgah pic:

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Our server was VERY attentive and incidentally, an older lady who’s been with the company for 22 years. This lady worked her ass off, was super friendly and made sure we were looked after. She was worth the generous tip, without question!

On a side note, their breakfasts are super decent (EG: 2 eggs, 2 pancakes, 2 sausage, 2 bacon for $5.35.) and they have a huge variety of different Eggs Benedict if you’re looking for something other than the original.

I will definitely be going back to Clarks for breakfast or lunch. Apparently for dinner, it becomes a chinese food place, which is great, but I can’t comment right now because I’ve not tried it…………………………..

Yet.

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

The Blues of Venice

Baby Blues BBQ
444 Lincoln Boulevard
Venice, Ca 90291

Written by Guest Reviewer,
Chris Davis

GOOD DAY MUNCHERS

When you think of Southern California, most think of beaches, Hollywood, blonde chicks, low riders, tacos, surfers, Los Angeles, and weed. The one thing you don’t think of is barbecue. Well let me be the first one to tell you it’s the one thing you’re missing out on.

On my last trip to LA I decided to go scouring for something different in a place you wouldn’t expect it. Well I found just the place. Baby Blues BBQ on Lincoln Blvd in Venice is the spot.  Just 10 minutes from the ocean on what seems like the longest of streets is this blue joint, right on the corner.

Now let me tell you first I’m somewhat of a barbecue fanatic. I’ve had it from The Carolinas, to Georgia, to California, to Portland, to Oakland, and Nevada. So I know what taste I’m looking for and I know what’s good. So whether it’s Korean barbecue, or Hawaiian, to Memphis style, I know it.

And now back to the place in question. On the outside is this very blue exterior with a really cool mural of Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazard with a few chicks; you can’t miss this place when driving up the boulevard.  The awnings are blue, the paint on the walls is blue but let’s get to the food…………it wasn’t blue.

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On walking in to this shabby place you’re greeted with a smile and taken to a table.  I went mid-day so there wasn’t much of a crowd inside. The walls are adorned with country memorabilia posters from native North Carolina as well as other little odds and ends. The menu isn’t too much, which is a good thing when I want to order food and not read War & Peace.

My waitress wasn’t the most attentive in the world and reminded me of something out of Woodstock. I ordered the sweet tea, which is somewhat of a rarity in California because in most cases it’s served UN-sweet. But when there’s barbecue on the menu IT BETTER BE SWEET or shut the doors, never to return. So she brings it out and I was surprised, it was near perfection.  It wasn’t too sweet and just the right amount of tea and lemon,- score one!

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Finally after reading the menu, I decided on “The Porker” which consisted of a 1/3 rack of ribs, a ‘fixin’ of which I settled on coleslaw and this cornbread.  The service was FAST so I ordered and within 5 to 7 minutes it was on my table. There’s a few sauce choices on the table for you to pick from. On one of the bottles pictured, one side says “XXX” and if you turn it around, it says “Porno”. Well in my mind that says that it’s hot but a not too hot. I like porn but I wouldn’t equate it to any kind of sauce………least of all a red one…..ICK.

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So now back to the food. The ribs were as tender as I’ve ever had them. I barely put two fingers to them to take a piece and they just fell apart in my hand. These were well smoked and lightly sauced as not to overpower the food with it. It had a good spice to it and was very mellow with a extra nice taste. The coleslaw wasn’t much of a co-star but had a good consistency; not too sweet with the right amount of mix to cabbage. For me, the better part of the plate was the cornbread. While most cornbread’s have a tendency to be either dry and in need of butter, or  they are crumbly and without real taste, – this stuff was on a different level in the OTHER direction. I thought it had a very dense consistency, and I wasn’t wrong. Once you bite into it you catch little bits of corn and it’s a very wet cake, and JUST AWESOME.

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Before I forget, you’ll notice in most of my blogs I’ll usually try some sort of alcoholic drink just because it compliments the food and hey…….I drink. But in Baby Blues BBQ you’ll sadly be left boozeless as they don’t serve beer nor alcohol, which TOTALLY invalidates the “southern beer can windchime” . Two points in the minus for that.

In the end I was satisfied with the portion size, price, and taste of the food. The service needs some attention and the look of the place could use a little pizazz.

Foodie Rating: 6 forks out of 10.

Enjoy and happy chowing!!

Chris Davis

blueforkinfoodiestamp

Baby Blues BBQ on Urbanspoon