RSS Feed

The “You Have To Blog About This” Blog

I was very sick with a chest infection and head cold a few weeks ago yet decided to have my beauty Michelle over for dinner – I still can’t believe she accepted.  Cough. I was in the mood for something fresh and ethnic.  First thing that came to mind was lettuce.  Second, was Asian.  So, I ventured online for an Asian Lettuce Wraps recipe and came across this one: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/asian-lettuce-wraps-2/

I added chopped water chestnuts for crunch, which I later discovered was included in the recipe, just not in the ingredient list.  I also chose to use ground turkey which is just as flavourful as beef (and better than chicken in my mind. Or mouth).  For the toppings I grated carrots, chopped unsalted peanuts and cilantro.  I also made a spicy hoisin sauce; a combo of hoisin, a splash of water and as much sriracha as your tastebuds can handle.

And for kicks, our entry into this year’s Pumpkin Carving contest:

At least I can cook.

My Kind Of French

After a long week laden with work, intense workouts and chores, there is nothing more welcoming than a cocktail. Right?….Right?

At a friends wedding a few weeks ago, the beautiful and incredibly talented, Lia, played bartender and released my tastebuds to one of the most enchanting cocktails I’ve ever had, the French 75 (she has a knack of making absolutely anything taste good).  This drink comes together wonderfully if you have champagne or sparkling wine kicking around – because, of course, we all have champagne kicking around.  It is typically made without soda and with simple syrup.  I like Lia’s way better, as is usually the case.

French 75

5 ounces prosecco

1 ounce gin

a generous squeeze of lime (2-3 wedges)

top it up with club soda

Charm in a glass.  Thanks to Christine and Albert (and Lia!) who made it possible.

Now, for those of you interested in a more, INTENSE, cocktail after a tough week, I suggest Cru Restaurant’s (Chicago, IL) Cucumber Parsley Martini.

Cucumber Parsley Martini

5 ounces gin

muddled cucumber

parsley (a few leaves)

shaken over ice

I have no words, the below photo says it all:

My week was obviously not demanding enough because I would have liked to believe that I could have handled it.  Better than this.

I did, however, manage to put on a smile once the liquid cleared my burning throat.

Happy Monday!….let the countdown begin.

Happy Birthday Poop! xx

 

My Freaky Deaky Lunch Box

This will be short and sweet (pun totally intended).

My FAVOURITE candy store of all time opened up a shop on 17 Ave. in Calgary a few weeks ago!!!!!

Must. contain. excitement.

This is a FOR REAL candy store – not some cheesy kiosk, supermarket bulk section, boring hard candy store.

God speed Freak Lunch Box http://www.freaklunchbox.com/

photo taken from Freak Lunch Box website

I love you.

Grilled Flank Steak Salad with Chimichurri & Roasted Corn

A few weeks ago – like a pregnant woman (no, I am not) – I craved a random assortment of flavours: roasted corn, balasmic glaze, steak and cilantro. I decided to turn my needs into dinner, making a salad and a sauce.  Here’s what I did:

First step: Chimichurri!

1 cup fresh parsley

1/4 cilantro (you can also use fresh basil)

1/2 olive oil

1/3 red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp honey

In a blender combine all ingredients.  I did a decent job of chopping up the parsley, cilantro and garlic for fear my blender wouldn’t be able to handle the dryness.  If you find your blender failing, add a dash more olive oil.  I strongly suggest preparing the chimichurri first.  The longer the flavours fuze, the better the sauce (it was exceptional the next day).

Second step: Get the corn and flank steak on the BBQ.

I smeared the corn in olive oil, salt and pepper. Place directly on the grill.  Since there were so many flavours already going on, I decided on a simple and basic marinade for the steak: olive oil, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salt and pepper.  Another option would be to marinade over night (refer to another marinade recipe here).  You don’t have to use flank steak but it’s an inexpensive cut and can be very flavourful, if done right.

The corn took about 10 minutes to char.  I like a fairly rare steak so the corn and steak took about the same amount of time.

Third Step: Spinach Salad

I combined spinach, baby tomatoes and goat cheese.  Super simple and worked well with the corn and steak.  For the dressing, I combined olive oil, red wine vinegar (only a dash), honey and salt and pepper.

Forth Step and possibly the most imporant: Balsamic glaze drizzle.

Lightly squeeze the glaze over your salad – try not to overdo it, but don’t cheap out either.

My ‘Chopped’ masterpiece:

If only Chopped made this much sense.

Pho Your Pleasure

Just over a month ago I moved into a new neighbourhood (hooray!) – only 5 minutes West of our old place – but far enough to stumble upon new food discoveries.  J and I committed to trying a new restaurant every week; simple enough seeing as though we are walking distance to many.

Last week post-workout, we – ahem – I, craved pho.  So instead of heading to our usual spot – Codo on 17 Ave. – we checked out Cochinchine; derived from Cochinchina, a region of Vietnam  (http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/15/1490117/restaurant/17th-Ave-SW/La-Cochinchine-Calgary).  The resto offers classic Vietnamese cuisine in a chill atmposhere BUT notable quality compared to most.  Too often you end up with more rice noodle than anything else, but not here.  Cochinchine bombs your bowl with fresh meat, vegetables (even deviating from the traditional) and tasty broth.  And the basil is beyond fresh (isn’t it usually so wilty and tired?)

Here are the two orders we made that rainy, rainy night:

5e?

Spicy Sate Beef Pho. My favourite.

Check it out!  It’s only 5 minutes outside of “downtown.”

Finally, A Healthy Chip

The quest for healthy snacks can be endless.  You find a promising option, then Health Canada comes out with a report to tell you otherwise.  You move onto something new, but soon grow sick of it (my feelings toward greek yogurt – except for the new Oikos No-Fat Cherry. yum).  It can be very back and forth, BUT!, your frustration ends here.

I introduce to you the Kale Chip (said in the voice of Don LaFontaine).  Kale, yes.  Chip? not so much, but sounds far better than “Baked Kale.”  So drab.

Besides being awesome, kale is high in beta carotene (enhances immunity, protects against toxins), Vitamin K (bone builder, heart protector) and Vitamin C (antioxidant, protector against infections). It also contains sulforaphane, a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties.  If that isn’t enough to make you squeal, this snack is satisfying, crunchy, low in sodium and calories and takes all of 2 minutes to prepare.

A great info-blurb on kale found on Livestrong.com:  One cup of kale — about 100 grams — contains less than 50 calories, 1 gram of fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates, including 2 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. There is no cholesterol or saturated fat and very little naturally occurring sodium, just 40 milligrams. One cup of kale contains more than 1,000 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K, more than 300 percent of your RDA for vitamin A and 200 percent of the vitamin C you need daily. Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/547811-what-are-the-benefits-from-eating-kale-chips/#ixzz1xEtAb0jV

or….just dive into this……

Kale Chips

Prep Time: 2 minutes, Bake Time: 8 – 10 minutes

Ingredients:

one bunch kale (organic is best)

2-3 tbsp olive oil

pinch of sea salt

Set oven to 400 degrees. Chop kale but exclude stems (they can be tough and bitter).  Put kale in a bowl, add olive oil and sea salt. Toss.  Spread kale onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly crispy.

Home Run. Slam Dunk. Touchdown. Whatever.

(image found on http://www.kalynskitchen.com/)

Blackberry Lemon Goat Cheese Appetizer

Trying to establish a solid menu for an appetizer party isn’t easy.  A balance between light and hearty, hot and cold, and simple and impressive takes time to envision, let alone actually prepare.  On my pursuit for the perfect balance, I came across this recipe (http://www.shutterbean.com/2012/blackberry-lemon-goat-cheese-squares/).  It’s simple, light and can be served hot or cold – check, check, check.  Oh, it was also a MASSIVE hit.

Blackberry Lemon Goat Cheese Squares (makes 24 pieces)

Prep Time: 20 minutes, Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

6 oz goat cheese, I used fig goat cheese (make sure to let it sit at room temp for at least 30min)

1 tbsp lemon zest

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp milk

puff pastry (2 Tenderflake puff pastry packages. Also important, defrost over night in your fridge)

1/2 pint blackberries

2 tbsp balsamic glaze

arugula

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, lemon zest, honey and milk.  In another small bowl, add the balsamic glaze and blackberries and let sit for 15 minutes.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pasty (avoid the use of a wine bottle – I’m sure a rolling pin would have proved much more effective).  It should roll out to about 1/2 cm thick.  Place the squares on the parchment paper – an inch apart – and lightly score a mini square in the centre of the pastry, making sure not to cut all the way through.

In a small bowl, add olive oil and a pinch of salt to the arugula.

Place a small spoonful of the goat cheese mixture in the centre of each square and top with a balsamic blackberry.  Bake the squares for 15-20 minutes, until golden.  Let squares cool a few minutes and place some arugula on top.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

A few other appies that night were cantaloupe and prosciutto skewers and baked brie with sun dried tomatoes.  There are a plethora of delicious and simple appetizer recipes out there that won’t fight for your oven or your time.

Can’t wait for my next party (!), however next time I will avoid cooking for a small country.