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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

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.

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Fry till golden on each side.

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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).

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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

My Lake Chalet

Lake Chalet
Seafood Bar and Grill
1520 Lakeside Drive
Lake Merritt, Oakland

(Guest review for Forkin’ Foodie by Chris Davis)

And good day to you fellow Foodies!!

When you watch a ton of food shows you know they’re
ALWAYS going to end up in the San Francisco Bay area at some point in time and rest assured they always miss a
few gems. Most times it’s because they stick to the pretensions of the slightly snobby places that serve vichyssoise
for $20 per bowl.

Sorry, but there’s no cold potato soup worth that much……….EVER.

Oakland gets a bad wrap with a high crime rate, terrible cops, and the Raiders. But it’s actually a nice place once you open your eyes.
And that brings us to dinner at Lake Chalet.

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Off the bat it sounds like something you’d need a three-week advance
reservation at, but alas you’d be WRONG. Nestled on the newly remodeled section of Lake Merritt
in downtown Oakland you’ll see it. Oh and regarding the MASSIVE oak tree that was blown over
in a storm a few months ago, you may look at it like an eyesore but it actually gives a little character to see
the roots, which then leads to a deeper meaning… (yeah Oakland is kinda like that).

Now onto the location – I’ve come here a few times before to hear a band play on the back deck which is right on the water. There’s
pretty sweet happy hour pricing and they carry a wide variety of booze and wines. The raw bar is stocked with some of the
freshest oysters the coast has to offer and the drinks are excellent.

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I went last night for dinner with some family and decided to get something different, right up until I saw somebody with the same thing a couple of tables away. First was the Buttermilk Calamari with an aioli and wasabi cocktail dipping sauce. I’m not a fan of wasabi so I
nudged it to the side. As a main plate I ordered the Pork Short Ribs (Secret Spice Rub, Sticky Glaze, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds), Parmesan Kennebec Fries, and a house salad. This was all was held down with a bottle of Chimay Red label ale.

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SIDENOTE: As an avid foodie and cook , it seems by what feels like divine reason, I dissect nearly everything I eat. That’s the great
part about eating out. It’s that you have a great dish, and either take it back home to re-create it, or you simply do it from
memory (when it’s JUST that good that a to-go box is not possible). So if you see me with a perplexed look on my face
just know that that’s my inner scientist look, and I’m just trying to figure out what the dish is comprised of, as to reinvent it at home.

Service here for a lightly busy Sunday evening was pretty good. The waitress was a bit flighty and I felt like she was rushing but who
knows what other tables had given her Hell before she got to us, so we were nice.

The calamari comes out and was pretty basic.
A simple buttermilk dredged selection with a dusting of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

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After a few minutes the rest of the food came to the table and here is where I knocked them a point. In any simple situation, the salad, when ordered with a full other plate is treated as an appetizer. Therefore, when I ordered the salad, it should come out along side whatever appetizer was ordered, in this case the calamari. So as everything else is being dished out I’m bombarded with now three plates, as the fries and ribs are plated separately.

The salad is a simple mix of greens tossed in a vinaigrette, with pears and goat cheese.

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The fries were something I was slightly disappointed in, as the description indicated a Kennebec potato and turned out to be something straight out of a bag that I could have gotten at any burger joint, but the parmesan was a nice touch.

Now onto the real shining star of the night:

The Pork Spare Ribs.

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Of all the reviews I normally do it’s generally a barbecue place because it’s my main love. I ordered the starter size because I wasn’t going to sit there and go crazy on a full rack. So the three come out with a nice cilantro garnish with sesame seeds. The smell is AMAZING; it’s a spicy and sweet smell that catches you first, and then you grab one…..

I barely had two fingers on it when it just fell apart at the touch. That’s the sign of a good rib. After the first taste of the glaze I was hooked. Pull-apart-tender, with a spicy, almost Sriracha and hoisin taste  with maybe a hint of honey. These were worth the wait and something to come back for on the return.

Overall this is one of Oakland’s gems and a place that I can call a regular spot. I visit mostly in the spring and summer,
when the freshest produce and seafood is put on display and in the menu.

Happy Chowing folks!!!

Chris Davis

Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Million Dollar Thighs. Oh Yeah!

Yep….. I got’em.

Million Dollar Thighs!

Creamy white and juicy.

Meaty with that nice caramelized crust on top.

Huh?… What?…. Sigh.

Get your head out of the gutter, you perverted puppies! I”m not talking about MY thighs…..

…although I kinda wish I was.

NO no, my lovely readers. I’m talking about a recipe that I found on YOUTUBE, called Million Dollar Chicken, done by Chef John on his Food Wishes channel. (link below). I LOVE this man’s recipes, but his sing-song-happity-hap voice makes me want to drive rusty nails into my ears with a ball peen hammer for relief.

ANYWAYYY… he uses a whole chicken, but I had only thighs on hand, and you know how cool I am, I just subbed thighs instead. I’m sure you could use whatever chicken pieces struck your fancy, but be sure to adjust cooking time.

What makes it worth the Million Dollar name? Chicken, cream, lemon, fried bread… need I say more?

Trust me beauties, this little dish will literally blow your whole daily caloric/fat allowance to cholesterol hell in one little sitting… but it will be sooooo worth it.

Here we go!

bread

Use an old bagette or any other stale, day old bread. It MUST be day old, and kinda hard and crusty, or you will cry at the mushy, gross pablum-ness of it all. Oil your dish before placing a few pieces down. According the recipe, it asked to oil the top of the bread as well, but really, don’t. I did, but found you don’t need it.

Save the calories, honey.

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The recipe asked to stuff the bird with thyme, garlic and lemon and then season with salt and pepper. I sprinkled a few pinches of thyme  and the zest from one lemon, garlic and S&P on top of the thighs to achieve the same taste. My way is soo much easier I think.

He puts the bird in a super hot oven (450) for an hour. I put my thighs in at 350 with an idea to roast them for 45 minutes or so.

While your waiting, make your sauce to smother those little cute thighs.

sauce

I used 1/2 cup of creme fraiche, lemon zest, the juice of one lemon, one GRATED shallot (that’s what the weird thing is that you see floating around in the cream), salt and pepper. The recipe called for one teaspoon of Aleppo pepper, that I COMPLETELY FORGOT to add in. And.. truth be told, I didn’t have any fancy shmancy Aleppo pepper anyway. But, assuming you won’t be a moron like myself, you’ll want to add the Aleppo pepper into the cream mixture at this point. If you don’t have Aleppo pepper on hand (who does, really?), an alternative to use is 3 parts sweet paprika to one part cayenne. Thanks Friend Kim and Chef Simon for the alternative pepper recipe!

At the 20 minute mark, move the chicken out of the way, and tong those little pieces of toasty love over to brown on the other side, and replace the chicken on top the bread……..

toasted bread

…..and then baste the living crap out of your chicken. Go overboard on the basting. If, while you’re basting, you think ‘oh that’s enough’, no, it’s not. Baste some more. Throw it back in the oven for ten minutes.

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Ten minutes later, baste again and return for another 10 minutes.

At the last five-minute mark, throw on your flame thrower. If you are not skilled at using a flame thrower on your food – your broiler will do as well. Watch it like a hawk people, burnt bird is just so wrong.  When it gets all crusty and caramelized on top, take it out, and let it sit for a few minutes.

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Plate it up!!!

If there is extra sauce left over, slice the thighs a bit and arrange them on the bread, and pour the remaining sauce over the thighs.

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Sweet Mother of baby Jesus. The way this tastes is nothing short of beautiful, if it can be described that way. The thighs are super nice and juicy with a crunchy skin, and it loves up it’s best friend, the crunchy toasted bread. Salty tings from the seasoning and lemony twangs from the zest-infused sauce on a crunchy, but soft toasted bread that’s saturated with a chickeny-cream goodness, is delectable. It might even make your inner fattie, or I mean foodie, scream with glee.

So, if after eating this little bundle of everything right in the world,  you haven’t passed out in a creamy caloric induced snooze,
be sure to comment below or click the button to follow my blog! You’ll get a fan’freakin’tastic email ever single time I post something new!

Come on now,.. don’t be chicken! (haha……………….ha.)

Youtube link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHw67wim0Vk